The Tarot: History, Symbolism and Divination

July 17th, 2011 § 0 comments

The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination

The Tarot by Robert Place

If you haven’t read it yet, definitely take a look at The Tarot: History, Symbolism and Divination by Robert M. Place.

It’s been out since 2005, but I finally read it last week and it’s amazing. I might even say it’s the best Tarot history book I’ve read to date.

To understand the origins of the Tarot, it’s important to understand the European culture from which it grew. Renaissance art, alchemy, hermeticism, neoplatonism – it’s all part of the story, and Place tells it very well.

He takes us card by card through the Major Arcana of the Tarot of Marseilles, explaining the symbols and why they may have been chosen.

As the ‘blueprint’ to all occult decks to follow, understanding the symbols in the Marseilles is vital to understanding how the ideas in the later decks developed.

Ultimately, Place’s focus is on the Waite-Smith Tarot, designed by Arthur E. Waite and painted by Pamela Colman Smith.

He looks at all 78 cards in the deck, and as an added bonus, offers some tips on how to use them. There are exercises, spreads and a summary of the six patterns found most often in readings. All very useful.

It’s a fantastic book for new readers, and old, and anyone who’s interested in Renaissance art, history or philosophy. It left me wanting to learn more.

And fortunately, Place hasn’t stopped teaching. He’s just published a new book called The Fool’s Journey: The History, Art, and Symbolism of the Tarot, based on The Fool’s Journey, his 2010 Tarot exhibition at the LA Craft and Folk Art Museum.

I can’t wait to read it.

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