Picks and Pans Review: Learning Tarot

updated 09/26/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/26/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

This tape begins with tedious scenes of fishermen, lapping waves and sea gulls. But once "psychic adviser" Martha Woodworth makes her appearance, you may find yourself longing for a few more minutes at the shore. Woodworth spends most of a long hour discussing the supposed mystic qualities of the 78-card tarot deck. It turns out that there are many varieties of tarot cards, just as there are many varieties of, say, horseradish or ball-peen hammers. There is, Woodworth notes, a connection between tarot reading and astrology. Tarot is related to numerology too and, though she doesn't come right out and say so, it also appears to be a variation on Go Fish. Woodworth does a card-by-card analysis, pointing out, for instance, that the 11 of trumps signifies a "metamorphosis into the totality of spiritual understanding." Woodworth also does a reading for a woman who wants to know her romantic future. Woodworth shies away from specifics. She does not predict that the woman will be run over by a bus in 14 minutes or that her new boyfriend will turn out to be a bank robber from Wyoming. She instead offers some reassuring generalities and then has a sort of postgame chat with a couple of fellow psychics who analyze her techniques. (Where is John Madden when you need him?) There seems to be only one rule in effect: Nobody can show a glimmering of a sense of humor. When Woodworth says, "To study the tarot is to study the universe," she speaks with cosmic sincerity. (Psychic Learning Center, $39.95; 800-322-8276)

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