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Beginners Guide to Tarot (Cards & Book Set) by Juliet Sharman-Burke

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A boxed set containing the Sharman-Caselli Tarot cards and a guide book. This set of cards was a collaboration between Giovanni Caselli (who illustrated them) and Burke. There are the normal 78 cards for tarot deck and also a thorough 192 page illustrated paperback handbook.

On the Box:
If you are a first-time tarot user, Beginner's Guide to Tarot is for you. The Sharman-Caselli deck has been specially designed for the novice, with every card illustrated in clear and distinctive style.

Juliet Sharman-Burke's teaching method introduces you to the Minor cards first. A practice layout is used for each suit - Cups, Wands, Swords and Pentacles - and then a bigger layout for all 56 Minor cards. Once you are familiar with these cards you will meet and practise with the Major Arcana. Finally, you are ready to use all 78 cards of the complete deck. 

Getting to know the cards is easy and fun. And from beginner you will quickly progress to expert tarot reader! 

  • The perfect introduction to the tarot
  • 192-page illustrated book plus full deck of 78 cards
  • Includes fold-out layout templates to use as part of the structured learning programme

Size of Cards: Approximately 70 x 120 mm

Author: Juliet Sharman-Burke & Giovanni Caselli

About Juliet Sharman-Burke

Juliet Sharman-Burke was born in Nairobi, Kenya and has spent over 20 years practising astrology and tarot and has written a number of books on these topics, both for beginners and the more advanced. Her fascination with the tarot began in the early 1970s, but it wasn’t until 1976, when she did a course at the Franklin School in London, that she decided to focus more intently on her passion for the tarot, as well as her interest in psychology and astrology. She has successfully combined all these interests into her life and work, through teaching, working and writing books.

Juliet qualified as an analytic psychotherapist and runs a private practice in the city of London. Alongside this, she’s taught and supervised at the Centre for Psychological Astrology since it began in June 1983. She currently runs the administration and organisation sides of the Centre.

Juliet has gone on to write a number of highly acclaimed books on astrology and tarot subjects, plus a book of stories for children. She’s co-authored a couple of titles with Liz Greene, including The Mythic Tarot and The Mythic Journey, the former of which included a tarot deck and was based on Greek myths.

She’s also co-created the Sharman-Caselli Tarot Deck, along with Italian illustrator Giovanni Caselli. Originally produced as part of The Beginner’s Guide to Tarot, the deck has since been released on its own and uses more traditional symbolism on the cards, which is drawn from a mixture of influences, including the Waite, Visconti and Marseilles decks.

Guest Review by Vernon Marshall

As a great lover of tarot decks I never cease to be excited about the different range of decks and I am constantly surprised at the ingenuity and creativity of the artwork. Reinterpretation is a good thing even though some of the modern decks sometimes fail to instigate my intuition. If I were a beginner today I would not know where to start. Nevertheless, for those out there who are beginners, there is a good place to start. The Sharman-Caselli deck, sold as The Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot, is perfect for those new to Tarot who may be put off by anything too complicated. It is the deck I used to learn to read the Tarot and it made the learning of it as manageable as it was fun.

It is not at first clear that the box contains a deck of cards as it just markets itself as a “guide.” The reference to the cards is in small print on the box’s cover. The box also refers to it, though only on the side of the box, as “a new classic” deck. This is perhaps an inappropriate statement. Before pursuing the Tarot seriously I had attempted to have a go with a real “classic” deck, the ancient one that has no real pictures for the Minor Arcana. The Rider-Waite deck, with its lovely artwork for all the cards, Minor Arcana as well as Major Arcana, was a great innovation and my discovery of it inspired me to learn the Tarot seriously. The Sharman-Caselli deck is a reworking of the Rider-Waite deck, though there are other sources of inspiration too, and I hope that others are not discouraged by the reference to it as “a classic.”

This deck works well because of the clarity and easy presentation of the book, written by Juliet Sharman-Burke, as well as by the well-designed artwork on the cards, produced by Giovanni Caselli. The book is written with sufficient detail to be really useful, but staged so that the reader is not overwhelmed. For example, and this is a novel idea, the Minor Arcana is dealt with first. The writer explains how each suit is depicted in a different prominent colour to represent the four different elements of earth, air, fire and water. Each of the twelve court cards represents one of the signs of the Zodiac. The four suits represent the different character types of feeling, intuition, thinking and sensation. In order to become familiar with the different suits the reader is asked to engage with them in a reflective manner. For example, with the suit of Cups one should reflect on how one’s feelings “ebb and flow.” One should imagine how it feels to witness water flowing through different containers or to recall the feelings of being splashed with cold water on a hot day. The reader should then examine each card of the suit of Cups to look for watery symbols such as fish or mermaids.

The text in this first part of the book includes sample readings, using only the Minor Arcana, based on a five-card horseshoe spread, followed by a sample reading using a Celtic Cross spread, using ten cards. Again, only the Minor Arcana cards are dealt with at this stage. I must admit that I have never before considered using only the Minor Arcana cards for a reading but, giving it a try myself, I have found that there is something to be said for it. For a learner, it is a useful way of becoming more accomplished before adding the extra perceptions acquired from the rest of the deck. The Major Arcana is introduced to the reader towards the end of the book. Again, there is a sample reading but this time using a seven-card Star spread with the Major Arcana cards only. It is only at the end of the book that a sample reading is given using the whole deck, but this time using only a five-card Horseshoe Spread. I am glad to say also that the traditional archetypes for the Major Arcana are used. The serious Tarot user will be able to make sense of newer and more radical characters when they are competent. For a learner, it is helpful for many reasons to master the use of the Fool, the Hierophant, the Wheel of Fortune and so on.

The cards themselves are very well designed and full of clear symbolism. The King of Pentacles, for example, depicts the castle with great clarity, meaning, according to Sharman, “wealth and status.” The goats that represent the sign of Capricorn, are clearly visible, as are the grapes, indicating sweetness. The Rider-Waite deck version of the card is a little gloomy and the symbols are unclear and imprecise whilst the Classic Tarot just shows us a man in blue holding a large disc.

There are a few things about the Sharman-Caselli deck that I would question, but they are not massively significant. The 192-page book is excellent, but it is a pity that the printers did not use black ink. The blue is a little tricky when reading the words surrounding the illustrations of the cards and the symbols on the cards are just a little indistinct for those of us who are short-sighted. Also, for a beginner’s deck I would have preferred the Major Arcana cards to have been numbered, as they are in the Classic Deck and in the Rider-Waite Tarot. Also, it is a little unimaginative to have no illustration or device on the back of the cards. But I am perhaps being needlessly picky.

In conclusion, this is an excellent deck for beginners. It worked for me some years ago, it works just as well for me now that I am an experienced Tarot user, and I am sure it will work well for others. For those who are not beginners, who prefer something less experimental and closer to Rider-Waite, this works very well indeed.

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13 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews

  • 5
    Everyone should own this...

    Posted by Leanne, Hampshire on 13th Feb 2006

    What a fantastic set! The beautiful cards are so easy to read intuatively, and the well-written book also backs up and adds more to my own interpretations. Everyone should have a set!

  • 5
    Easy and Complex

    Posted by Katie E on 30th Apr 2005

    A very easy but complex tarot pack. I have tried alot of cards, books and packs from the tarot family, but have never really connected with any of them. This set make learning the tarot easy to learn but uses much detail. Holisticshop is where I will shop from now on, a truly awesome site. Katie E

  • 5
    Fantastic Set

    Posted by Nicola on 9th Dec 2004

    This is an absolutely FANTASTIC set! I'd been searching for something just like this but had only been able to find 'toy' packs with really unhelpful and undetailed instructions. But this is amazing! Each card is described in detail and I can't wait till I've mastered all four suits and the Major Arcana; then I can get into some serious reading. If you're someone just starting out, like me, then buy this set.

  • 5
    Wondeful Designs

    Posted by L Leaper on 15th Nov 2004

    This guide to Tarot is in the form of a book and especially designed cards. The cards are quite wonderful, they incorporate the innate meaning and feeling attributed to the card and suit, the cards are well designed and fairly uncluttered, allowing the reader to see the essence rather than the detail of the card.  I do like the artwork very much; it manages to be modern but retains the feeling of age. The deck is very pleasing to use. The book is excellent; the learner is encouraged to look at the cards and is given an overview of the suit. Afterwards the reader is taken through each card one at a time. The cards are reproduced in the book and key points of the artwork are shown with the meaning of the representation. At the end of each chapter is a spread to illustrate a reading, using just the one suit.  Later this is further developed to use Major Arcana and eventually all the deck. I have to say this is actually by far the best book about Tarot for beginners I have found, there is enough here for the reader to find his or her way and thus develop familiarity and intuition. I have no reservations whatsoever about strongly recommending this book to anyone interested in learning Tarot; I have found no other reading material that comes close to helping a beginner as well as this book.