Why, you might well ask, after spending almost 40 years studying and divining with the Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot and The Book of Thoth, and then nine more years striving to master the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (RWS), would someone want to take on the task of trying to fathom the Tarot de Marseille (TdM) and its non-scenic … Continue reading Why the TdM?
As far as I can tell, the publishing house of Rider & Son hasn't been involved with the tarot deck of Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith in over a century (except perhaps as the seller of reproduction rights until US Games bought them); it is now published in something approaching its original form … Continue reading Is It . . . RWS, or RSW, or WS or SW (or How About KSW)?
The Minor Arcana of the Thoth Tarot all have "esoteric" titles that for the most part hark back to their Golden Dawn roots. While these titles have academic connections to the Order's tarot curriculum or to Crowley's Thelemic elaborations, they often invoke visceral reactions in the viewer due to their evocative imagery and compelling color … Continue reading Crowley’s Emotional Roller-Coaster
I just had an interesting but perplexing conversion on one of the Facebook tarot pages regarding the provenance of the tarot material associated with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. There is apparently a widespread popular opinion that "Liber T," a compilation of the Order's tarot "knowledge papers," was actually written after Aleister Crowley's … Continue reading Chickens, Eggs, Carts and Horses
More musings on "how tarot works," with a new twist or two (but I will spare you a few of my overused personal aphorisms and axiomatic bromides). I've long believed that the Age of Enlightenment (aka the Age of Reason) that arose out of Renaissance "humanism" between the 17th and early 19th Centuries did more … Continue reading Enlightened Folly?
After a couple of recent conversations with what I can only think of as "traditional tarot snobs" (which is not necessarily a bad thing, it was just painfully obvious that I was talking to a wall), I decided to revisit my opinion of the Waite-Smith deck (if only because the traditionalists damn it so vehemently). … Continue reading Why Waite? Why Now?
Texas bluesman Freddie King once wrote a song titled Tore Down with the refrain "I'm tore down, almost level with the ground." This is a near-perfect expression of the customary take on the Tower card when it appears in a reading: a cautionary glimpse at some kind of calamitous "accident waiting to happen." In my … Continue reading Tore Down
Or maybe I'm just waxing nostalgic? (Curmudgeon alert: incoming attitude!) At any rate, I'm no fan of what is apparently being touted as the emergence of a "New Tarot," a description I'd never heard until last week. (It's not a deck, it sounds more like a "cultural movement.") The gist of it seems to be … Continue reading A Long Way from Home
It appears from the on-line conversations I've been following that there are two distinct chains of archetypal descent in the tarot. One of them - the older one - is culturally-specific, symbolizing conventions that were widely understood and accepted during the pre-Enlightenment era when they were first captured in the trump cards. Their appeal to … Continue reading Archetype, Archetype, Who’s Got the Archetype?
Samuel Liddell Mathers was one of the seminal figures in the annals of modern esoteric tarot, having co-founded and eventually dominated the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, single-handedly penning a large portion of the tarot curriculum that was compiled in Liber T. (Hmm, why does spellcheck keep trying to substitute "single-underhandedly" and "single-highhandedly?" Maybe … Continue reading What’s In a Name?