Book Review of Shadows: Pathworking the Tarot by Leeza Robertson


This book was sent to me by Llewellyn for review at the very end of 2019 and I fully intended to review it right away – but then I couldn’t stop using it! This book quickly became one of my very favourites on the subject of tarot, and also for journaling and contemplation. When I feel the need to write or do a reading but have no specific intentions beyond that, I can pick up this book and any deck and completely lose myself in a single card. As far as learning to read the cards goes, this is one of the most effective systems I’ve seen to learn all of the meanings! It’s less memorization and more, creating memories of these intuitions and experiences you have with each card. For us seasoned readers, Leeza presents new perspectives on, and connect ions between, the cards that really helped me figure out some cards that had me stuck. Here’s how this lovely little book earned its 5 crystal ball rating:

🔮 – I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t read anything by this author before, or used either of her tarot decks – the animal totem tarot or the mermaid tarot! Which both sound right up my alley! – But if they all have this same friendly and encouraging tone, I’ll definitely be checking them out. Leeza Robertson is absolutely fantastic at explaining not only the meanings behind cards, but how the tarot works together as a whole entity. She acknowledges real life struggles lots of readers have, like reading the 5s of the minor arcana, or how the meaning of the hierophant changes depending on your own views and experiences of religion and tradition. Her writing is simultaneously really beautiful, and also practical and usable by everyone. I get the impression that Leeza can explain almost anything to almost anyone.

🔮 – I liked that this book organizes the minor arcana by number, rather than by suit. In fact, numerology was used all throughout the book, which I believe I mentioned recently in my Numerology episode of the podcast. She made it really easy for me to see how each number has its own traits and meanings, and how that energy plays out in each suit. This isn’t inherently better or worse of a method, but it’s not the most common and I think that shook me up enough to make a big impression. Even in getting to the heart of certain major arcana cards she examined the number right along with the actual symbols. This was fantastic and it helped me read some minor cards I’ve struggled with, like the 7s. Seeing how that 7 vibe plays out across all the suits made a lot of sense to me.

🔮 – More than once, Leeza explains connections  between certain cards and what that means abut both cards individually, like how the Lovers and the devil are connected via those Adam and eve figures. Not only does this give you good insight into each card, but later when you get both those cards in a single reading, you have this other layer to consider. This has happened in professional readings I did last year and I swear it made my readings so much more accurate. In a reading each card isn’t just a card, it’s a piece of this entire puzzle, and this book helps you see how they fit together.

🔮 – If you are looking to learn the meanings of all 78 tarot cards, this book should definitely be on your list. For every card you have descriptions of the meanings and symbols, personal tips and tidbits from an experienced reader, and different ways to interact with the energy of the card. You’ll need to have a journal and a pen or some other way to record your thoughts to make your way through, and in that way it’s almost a workbook for learning each card in depth. You can also use the book while you’re doing your readings and in the very last chapter Leeza even explains the best method to do that. Each card comes with three methods of “Pathworking” and this is so great for shaking up your memory so it doesn’t get bored. Memorization really only works for a short amount of time because your brain gets bored, so you need to put down the flash cards and try a different method for a while. Anyone who’s crammed for a midterm can tell you that. This book has that built right in.

🔮 – That brings us to the crown jewel of this book – the actual “Pathworking”. If you’ve never heard that word, don’t worry, there’s a great explanation at the beginning of the book. Pathworking is a journey, following a path and picking up lessons along the way. Leeza has three different types of exercises for each card – intentional, intuitive, and wandering. Intentional is self-explanatory – you know every card has its own story or energy and you want to connect with it specifically, so you deliberately pull that card. Intuitive means you choose a random card without knowing what’s on its face because you’ve been intuitively drawn to pull that card. This is how most tarot readings work. Finally there’s a really interesting exercise – wandering. This author and I have something in common – we’re both walkers. I walk to get around, but also to clear my mind and shake off excess physical energy. My mind wanders a bit while I do, and sometimes both my feet and mind arrive at a pre-determined destination! When wandering with the cards, some exercises implore you to move or walk or dance if you’re able to get your thoughts moving along with your body. In others you remain in your head or home, but follow a train of thought or discovery wherever it will lead you. This is so cool and so unique! This might be my favourite thing about this whole book!

One of my favourite wanderings was for the Tower card. It asks you to explore some actual local ruins if possible and reflect on how you feel amongst the rubble or decay. I don’t have many of those, but there are plenty of incredibly old abandoned homes in a historical part of town, so I took a walk through them and tried to put it in the context of the tower. What made these towers fall, and what’s going to come from this? In my case, those old houses will be torn down eventually to make way for a new bridge. This neighbourhood has been broken apart and fallen, but that will lead to a new method of transportation, a new connection with a whole other country. I’ve thought about that walk every time I’ve pulled the card since. If you’ve ever been to some really famous ruins, use your memory to take a walk through them and reflect on how it feels to be among them!

At only 199 pages, this little book packs in a ton of information, and even more prompts for you to learn what those tarot cards all really mean to YOU. It’s worked with every one of the decks I’ve tried it with, and made me look at a lot of cards that I thought I understood in a new way. Pathworking the Tarot is like stepping into the shoes of The Fool as you embark on your own journey of spiritual guidance and worldly experiences – and you can’t help but be excited to see where you end up!

About the Author:

Leeza Robertson (Las Vegas, NV) is the author of Tarot Court Cards for Beginners and Tarot Reversals for Beginners, and she’s the creator of two tarot decks, the Mermaid Tarot and Animal Totem Tarot. When she doesn’t have her nose inside a book or her fingers dancing across a deck of cards, she runs her online class called the Moonbeamers, which focuses on tarot and the moon’s cycles.

Follow Leeza on Instagram

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