The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination

Overview

The Tarot is one of the few books that cuts through conventional misperceptions to explore the Tarot deck as it really developed in the Middle Ages and Renaissance Europe-not, as some would suggest, in the far reaches of Egyp-tian antiquity. Mining the Hermetic, alchemical, and Neoplatonic influences behind the evolution of the deck, author Robert M. Place provides a historically grounded and compelling portrait of the Tarot's true origins, without overlooking the deck's ...

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Overview

The Tarot is one of the few books that cuts through conventional misperceptions to explore the Tarot deck as it really developed in the Middle Ages and Renaissance Europe-not, as some would suggest, in the far reaches of Egyp-tian antiquity. Mining the Hermetic, alchemical, and Neoplatonic influences behind the evolution of the deck, author Robert M. Place provides a historically grounded and compelling portrait of the Tarot's true origins, without overlooking the deck's mystical dimensions.

Indeed, Place uncommonly weds reliable historiography with a practical understanding of the intuitive help and divinatory guidance that the cards can bring. He presents techniques that offer new and valuable ways to read and interpret the cards. Based on a simple three-card spread, Place's approach can be used by either the seasoned practitioner or the new inquirer.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The origin of the tarot is a topic often clouded in mystery. There are numerous theories regarding which culture, country, and time period produced the first tarot deck. Place (Buddha Tarot), a recognized expert on the Western mystical tradition, has written a solid history of the tarot, drawing from both historical information as well as studies from various Kabalist and occult traditions that have influenced its symbology. Charts of correspondences and various illustrations of cards and ancient artwork enhance the examination of spirituality depicted in the tarot, using both ancient and modern philosophies. One entire chapter seeks to interpret the most influential tarot deck: The Waite-Smith Tarot. Place, an internationally known artist himself, has designed and/or codesigned four published decks: The Buddha Tarot, Tarot of the Saints, The Alchemical Tarot, and The Angels Tarot. This well-written book makes the rich history of the tarot accessible to even the novice tarot reader. Recommended for tarot collections in both public and academic libraries.-Kimberley Robles-Smith, California State Univ. Lib., Fresno Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585423491
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/17/2005
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 5.94 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert M. Place, an internationally recognized artist, illustrator, and teacher, has designed and codesigned some of the most acclaimed Tarot decks of our time, including The Alchemical Tarot and Tarot of the Saints.

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Table of Contents

1 The history of the tarot 5
2 The mythical history of the tarot 29
3 The search for meaning 83
4 Interpreting the major and minor arcana 127
5 The Waite-Smith tarot 177
6 Hieroglyphs from the soul 271
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 4 of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2005

    an instant classic

    This is, without a doubt, one of the best books on Tarot that I've read in a long time. It's also a much-needed work in light of prevalent Tarot thought. Straight up: I find it more than a little amazing that, after an abundance of time, discussion, and scholarship, some very common myths about Tarot still prevail. Haven't we gotten over the idea that Tarot came from the gypsies, or that it originated in Egypt as a pictoral representation of Thoth's teachings? These Tarot myths remain common today (and are often perpetuated by ill-informed authors). Hopefully, this book will help put them to rest. Place convincingly disproves these theories, but (and this is important) carefully notes what is valid and worthwhile about the occultists' perspective. The real cream of this book comes not from the debunking (after all, Place is not the first author to set the record straight), but in his analysis of what Tarot truly is. This book is the only book available today that explores Tarot as it was intended by its creators, based on the influences and symbolism prevalent at the time of its creation. As someone long steeped in (and quite fond of) occult/Golden Dawn style Tarot practices, these insights are new and exciting approaches to Tarot. I get to be a beginner all over again! For devoted Tarot nerds like me, this is very good news. Some folks might be put off by Place's style -- he doesn't allow much room for disagreements. Indeed, ordinarily such confidence would get up my nose, too. But his arguments are so convincing, and presented with none of the customary arrogance of many with strong opinions on magical topics, that I'm inclined to overlook that. His sincerity and love of his subject shine through every step of the way. Place rounds out the book with solid sections on meanings and divination. He examines the Waite-Smith deck for his meanings section, drawing strong interpretations from the artwork (you might learn an interesting fact or two about the symbolism employed by Waite & Pixie here). His approach to divination is his alone, and is quite liberating in its use of symbols, intuition and card placement rather than strict interpretations of memorized meanings. He provides plenty of examples to make sure that you get the gist of his techniques. All in all, this is a sane, thoughtful, and (most importantly) useful approach to Tarot. It is now firmly on my short list of most recommended Tarot books, for beginners and advanced alike. Not to be missed. I suppose I sound like I'm gushing, here, but the book really is that good!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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