REVIEW | Kitchen Table Tarot: Learn tarot…with a big side of sass

SHOP NEWS: I’m excited to announce that Kitchen Table Tarot is now available in the Little Red Tarot Shop!

For many of you, Kitchen Table Tarot needs no introduction.

Melissa Cynova’s sassy, good-humoured, down-to-earth guide to reading the tarot – published earlier this year by Llewellyn – has been picked up and reviewed all over the tarot blogosphere, and I’ve loved reading everyone’s take on it. (Here’s Benebell Wen and Liz Worth, for starters.)

If you don’t know Melissa, she’s the fiery, hilarious Sagittarius behind Little Fox Tarot, busy working on her next book and being a working mum and somehow also finding time to go round bigging everybody else up. She’s just ace (and so are her tarot readings – many are the clients I’ve directed her way when I feel unable to serve myself).

Re-reading Kitchen Table Tarot recently, I felt that I’d find it hard to add anything new to the reviews that are already out there. It’s just a bloody brilliant book – particularly for tarot learners. Melissa welcomes you to her metaphorical kitchen table (a real-world space where she has introduced many, many seekers to her cards over the decades), sits you down, and gives it to you straight. Kitchen Table Tarot debunks a whole lotta myths about tarot, and demystifies a whole load of intimidating symbols so you can start relating to your cards in a real-life way, right away.

It’s a great starting point for tarot learners, and for folks returning to tarot after a break.

You can go deeper with your studies later on, of course – this isn’t about watering down the complex and powerful traditions bound up in the tarot – but what I love about Kitchen Table Tarot is that it’s purposefully not overwhelming. Studying 78 cards and feeling that you have to ‘memorise them all’ is a really, really tough prospect to face…but Melissa has this really wonderful way of getting to the heart of each card, clearly and simply. It won’t ‘teach you tarot in one week’ (beware any book or course making a claim like that!) but it will help you to quickly get a handle on your cards and begin to find your way with confidence.

Plus – I just adore Melissa’s interpretations of the cards! Her perspectives don’t always match my own – there were plenty of moments in this book where I thought “whoa – I wouldn’t read it that way at all!”, but always in a good way, always bringing me new ideas, or a clearer way of articulating things.

To give you a flavour, here are just a few extracts from the book:

On the Ten of Cups…

My problem with the Ten of Cups is that it seems to have a “sitting on your laurels” feel to it. You got everything you wanted! Now what? What are your new goals? […] When it comes up in readings, I’m quick to high-five the client, but then we talk about what’s coming around the corner. I mean, you can only stare at a rainbow for so long. Gets very boring.

On Justice…

[Justice] will start moving as soon as she makes her decision and she will carry it out. Justice is about action. That’s why social justice groups are always marching around and making things happen. They’d be called social idea groups otherwise.

On the Knight of Wands…

This card is about being bulletproof. The best time for people to attack us is when we don’t like ourselves. The Knight of Wands loves himself.

On the Moon…

I think that fear – real fear – is dismissed a lot these days. You’re paranoid! You’re being overprotective or “projecting” or whatever generic phrase has become popular lately. […]

Why are we afraid? Because we don’t know. We don’t know. There is such anxiety tied with uncertainty. […] Not knowing, not being sure, not having the answers, not being able to control a single goddamned thing – this is the Moon card. This is fear.

On the Knight of Cups…

He sits in the quad. Jeans, a white T-shirt, and a worn copy of Vonnegut dangling limply from his hand as he stares out into the distance. He smokes, of course, and his dark hair is tousled and curly. […] He looks sad, and his sadness is on your mind for the rest of your life. Dear heavens, does this one make an impact. He is so romantic, I can’t even stand it.

I especially like how the minor cards are presented in number groups, rather than suits. As in, you’ll get all four Aces, then all four Twos, the Threes, etc. This really helps us to see common themes between the numbers, aided by Melissa’s short introduction to each number. The court cards get their own section too, which again I really like. Best of all (for this tarot nerd) pentacles come first in this book, rather than last. It’s a little thing, but it pleases me.

But it’s not just about card interpretations.

I’d buy this book simply for it’s introduction to the *thing* of reading tarot. The responsibilities that come with it. What happens when – holy shit – you’re right. Dealing with haters. Looking after your cards. Superstitions and nonsense and other folks’ opinions. Getting started. Going pro. It’s all here, in plain language.

As it’s published by a major publishing house, Kitchen Table Tarot is available from certain internet retail giants. And it’s a principle of my wee shop that I won’t generally compete with such companies – there’s just no way I can get my prices as low as these guys and put food on the table. But Melissa is my friend and, heck, I really really love this book and think it’s a great resource for beginners, so I’ve broken my ban and got it on the shelves.

You’re welcome!

Kitchen Table Tarot is available now in the Little Red Tarot Shop!

Buy here


All of the quotes shared in this post are © Melissa Cynova and Llewellyn Books, 2017.

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  1. I’ve had my eye on this book for a little while – and I *love* an opportunity to support ethical indie businesses instead of the crushing corporate giants! Added to the wishlist 🙂

  2. A. says:

    I usually don’t buy sort of general purpose tarot books that aren’t either for a specific deck or on a specialized niche, but Melissa’s writing is seriously charming me into reconsidering! I love those excerpts. What deck(s) are the pictured cards from, just various Llewellyn ones, or one in particular?

    “Best of all (for this tarot nerd) pentacles come first in this book, rather than last.”
    Also, out of curiosity, why do you prefer this?

    • Beth says:

      I *think* it’s the Llewellyn Tarot that’s pictured inside, which is a RWS-clone.

      I like Pentacles first because I feel like it takes care of the foundations first – ground-up, get your physical needs seen to first so you’re strong and secure for all the self-development that comes after (think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.)

      • A. says:

        Late response (because I forgot to check the box), but thank you for the answers! After a little more reading around I did end up adding this one to the to-buy list, so I’m really glad you featured it. A print copy of someone’s creative yet familiar takes on cards is a handy thing to have.

        Would’ve never even occurred to me to think of the suits in terms of Maslow’s pyramid and of that sort of building up; that’s neat. I enjoy the different ways people reason out ordering for the suits and I’ve never noticed that! And now I see how the other ones can fall into place, too.

  3. I read the sample and she talked about her morning routine. It involves feeding Phill the turtle (I actually made a note about it in the book). I knew then I would love this book.
    It’s one of my favourite books atm, and I totally agree, I love her interpretations and her style of writing.

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