The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination



The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination

Robert M. Place’s newest book, The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination, is published by Tarcher/Penguin and has beenĀ available since March. The cover, which can be seen on the left, is also designed and illustrated my Robert M. Place. The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination covers the creation of the Tarot in the Renaissance and is the most complete and up to date account in print of Place’s theories on the origin and meaning of the Tarot trumps as they relate to Renaissance art and philosophy. But it does not stop there. This history continues with a discussion of the occultists and their Hermetic and Kabalistic theories about the Tarot. In chapter five the book focuses on the creation and meaning of the Waite-Smith Tarot, and includes new insights concerning the interaction between A. E.Waite and Pamela Colman Smith while they were creating the deck. The final chapter presents the most complete instructions in print of Place’s unique divination techniques.

“Place has found the right paths and their exact connections. At last, with his guidance, we can take the whole journey.”

-Ronald Decker, former curator of the Playing Card Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio, and coauthor of A Wicked Pack of Cards and A History of the Occult Tarot.

Booklist Review

The magazine of the American Library Association

-the New York Times calls it “an acquisitions bible for public and school librarians nationwide

*Starred Review* This may be the best book ever written on that deck of cards decorated with mysterious images called the tarot. Dozens of books provide sketchy information on the cards’ history and evolution before turning more discursive on how to interpret them. Place inverts that formula. Well-researched, entertainingly written chapters begin the book with information on where the tarot comes from and how it gained so much prominence as a tool for divination. Far from developing from deeply magical sources, as many have claimed, the tarot was originally just a deck of cards used for playing games. Even at the start, however, those games included some fortune-telling. Over the course of centuries, the cards’ lore was enriched by thoughtful practitioners who added cards, elaborated their meanings, and connected their imagery to mythology and dreams. At the beginning of the twentieth century, an inspired young artist, Pamela Colman Smith, drew upon her occult training and her own visions to create the now classic Rider-Waite deck. In a comprehensively researched and passionately argued chapter, Place restores Smith to her rightful position as the genius behind the deck. That Place also offers excellent guidance to actually reading the cards makes the book that much more appealing, as a how-to as well as a why-bother.

Library Journal Review

-the oldest independent national library publication. Founded in 1876

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.