Still on the Shelf: Tarot For Yourself, by Mary K. Greer

This is another of my Still on the Shelf series, where I’ll tell you, book by blessed book, why I periodically run a dust rag across them, pull them off the shelf, and open them up to read.

A lifetime of reading has left me with a sizable number of books. Throughout the years I have donated them for tax deductions and traded them for credit by the carload. But for all the trimming and weeding my collection has undergone these past decades, the ones remaining on the shelves are there for a reason: they’ve withstood the tests of time. Although I’m more inclined to pick up my Kindle these days, there are still plenty of books on my shelves, and Tarot For Yourself is one of them.

Tarot For Yourself: A Workbook For Personal Transformation1564145883-2
by Mary K. Greer
Newcastle Publishing Company, 1984
253 pages, bibliography

I am by no means an expert at tarot. I dabble in it. Or should I say I dabble at dabbling in it. This book is for dabblers as well as serious tarot enthusiasts.

I knew absolutely nothing about reading tarot cards when I began, but I knew I wanted a deck or two. I chose a couple of decks that moved in my hands, and off I went. The thought of interpreting cards overwhelmed me — because what in the world did all those things mean on those cards! I learned that the tarot can be interpreted on a number of levels, which only overwhelmed me further. I also learned that some people can tap their psychic reservoirs through the cards, and I discovered that I’m not one of them. In any case, I did learn from this book that in using the tarot as a tool for myself — for my own development — the cards are amazingly insightful. And perhaps better (definitely cheaper) than therapy.

The tarot relies heavily on symbols, and the cards work in cahoots with one another in the various types of layouts. The cards include the Major Arcana (numbered 0 through XXI), which symbolize the big picture or major life events; the Minor Arcana (numbered 1 through 10, in suits of Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles), which represent us in our day-to-day existence; Court Cards (Kings, Queens, Princes, Princesses, in the four suits), which point to specific people or anima/animus qualities.

I started in by determining my Personality and Soul Cards (see the end of this postpainting-two-women for directions on how to calculate your cards). The Personality Card tells what you’ve come to this lifetime to learn, and the Soul Card indicates your soul’s purpose throughout each of your lifetimes.

The book contains revealing and insightful spreads, charts, exercises, mandalas, active imagination and visualizations with the cards, tarot card rituals (like how to purify your cards), how to interpret the cards and highlights some of their special uses, as well as examples of creative writing with the tarot. So it’s not about fortunetelling. It’s about personal development and transformation. It isn’t unusual, I’m told, to spend an hour and a half to two hours on one in-depth reading for yourself (I thought I was just a slow learner). However, the time goes quickly; it’s worth it. And as with any new thing, the more you work with it, the easier it becomes.

It’s fun, insightful, reflective, useful in any stage of life.And that’s why this book is still on the shelf.

So now, as promised, here’s how to determine your Personal and Soul Cards, straight from the book:

Your Personality and Soul Cards

Using your birth date you can numerologically calculate your Personality and Soul Numbers. The corresponding Personality Card indicates what you have come into this particular lifetime to learn. The corresponding Soul Card shows your soul purpose through all your lifetimes.

To determine these two cards you add together your month, day and year of birth like this:



October 14, 1947

10 + 14 + 1947 = 1971

Then you add each digit in the resulting number: 1 + 9 + 7 + 1 = 18. Keep any number from 22 to 1. The resulting number is the Personality Number, which in this case corresponds with the ninth Major Arcana Card: The Moon.

HermitYou then add together 1 + 8 = 9. This is your Soul Number, which in this case corresponds with the ninth Major Arcana card: The Hermit.

In some cases the number will add up to more than 22. Since there are only 22 Major Arcana cards, reduce the number down to 22 or less; for example:

May 29, 1934

5 + 29 + 1934 = 1968

1 + 9 + 6 + 8 = 24. 2 + 4 = 6.

Lovers In this case the number six (The Lovers) is both your Personality and Soul Card. In this lifetime you are specifically working on your soul purpose. It makes you more focused and directed.

There is one case in which more than two cards can appear. If your first number is 19 you will have three cards.


November 16, 1954

11 + 16 + 1954 = 1981 = 19 = 1 + 9 = 10 = 1 + 0 = 1

(Card 19  is The Sun, Card 10 is The Wheel of Fortune, Card 1 is The Magician)Sun      Wheel of Fortune      Magician

This is an especially creative path in which all three cards operate as both Personality and Soul Cards. People with this sequence must learn to communicate their individual creative expressions. Their personal identity and sense of self will be inextricably combined with their life and soul purpose. Their ability to relate to others will depend on a harmony of vision and purpose with them.

If your birth date adds up to 22, you have a number of great impulsiveness and great mystery, a fine line to balance. 22 represents 0 (The Fool) and reduces to 4 (The Emperor). But in this case the 4 (The Emperor) is the Personality Card and the 0 (The Fool) is the Soul Card.

Once you’ve determined your Personality and Soul Cards, the final step is to find out what they mean, to relate them to your life, to seek their wisdom and guidance. If you don’t have a deck of tarot cards, no need to go out and buy one. Here are some sites that interpret Major Arcana cards:

Collective Evolution

Psychic Revelation

Universal Psychic Guild

Biddy Tarot


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