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      CommentAuthorelizabeth
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2007 edited
     (157.1)
    An adjunct of sorts to the magickal conversation going on here.

    Someone asked for Tarot book recommendations. Here are mine.

    Don't feel like reading a dozen books on the subject? Want to go straight to the top .0001%? Begin and end with SEVENTY EIGHT DEGREES OF WISDOM, by Rachel Pollack. I am not exaggerating when I say that this book might be the biggest consensus-builder amongst Tarot experts. It is universally read and loved. In my entire 12 years at this game, I have never once heard anyone say a single negative word about it. (That's a jussayin', not a gauntlet thrown, by the by.)

    Nearly equally important, IMHO (but for different reasons), is the newest on my list: Robert M. Place's THE TAROT: HISTORY, SYMBOLISM AND DIVINATION. Sick and tired of occultists seeing things, Place goes back to the Tarot's true origins: the Renaissance. The guy does not tow the party line and does not mince words... and has the chops on all fronts (scholarly, Tarot-ly, artistically) to back it up. One of my all-time favorite Tarot speakers -- if you ever get a chance to see one of his infamous slideshows, run, do not walk. I've got a framed print of Key X, The Wheel Of Fortune, from his upcoming vampire Tarot (yes, really) hanging above my head right this second, in fact.

    I am not a Thoth deck fan. In fact, I can barely look at it. It makes my head explode. But like the good little occultist I am, I do not ignore that which makes my head explode. I do, however, thank my lucky charms that Lon Milo finally wrote a book on it that I can understand... because, heck, nobody else did before he did. While you're at it, if you're going to get serious about this, you're going to need some Qabalah, too. Thankfully, Lon has your ass covered on that score, too.

    Dang!, but that Lon is a dude!

    Ah, but maybe you haven't got the sickness... and you couldn't care less about these crazy esoteric shenanigans anyway... at least not yet. You're not looking for a lifelong commitment, you just want to learn the damn cards. I feel you. Joan Bunning's LEARNING THE TAROT is a fine place to start... and it's free. (It's also the very first resource I used, but that's neither here nor there.)

    Then again, if you want to roll up your sleeves... hitch your wagon to The Tarot School. Over the past 10 years, they've taught me just about everything I know. The correspondence course will change you. Nobody but nobody knows the Rider Waite deck like Wald & Ruth Ann do: the stories, the symbols, the play-by-play, everything.

    For historical chicanery, Tom Tadfor Little's history site is a great place to start. A WICKED PACK OF CARDS is historically accurate (so I'm told) but a slog to get through (I can vouch for this). The authors of that book tackled the occultists in particular in A HISTORY OF THE OCCULT TAROT. Also a slog, unless you're a nerd like me. For a very readable history, try THE TAROT: HISTORY, MYSTERY AND LORE by Cynthia Giles.
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      CommentAuthornietoperz
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.2)
    I use the Thoth deck myself, so can wholeheartedly recommend The Book of Thoth by Crowley. As with all Crowley you kind of have to cut through the verbosity and self-importance, but there are pearls to be found in there nontheless.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.3)
    Just randomly, Rachel Pollack is a comics person too, and did a load of stuff for Vertigo somewhen.
    • CommentAuthoradrian r
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.4)
    Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism, by an anonymous author, is an excellent collection of essays on the Major Arcana, and a good antidote to any reflex anti-Christianity you may feel. It's a profound philosophical work that brings Tarot to life in fascinating ways.

    I'd also second Elizabeth's recommendation of Place's book on Tarot history.
    • CommentAuthorhank
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007 edited
     (157.5)
    *cough* dont for get Lon's Book...

    err never mind.

    Thank you Ill shut up now and go back to my QBL and Chickening.
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      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.6)
    What are the advantages/disadvantages to making your own cards? I've been meaning for a while to make a Tarot featuring characters from things I've written, probably using Photoshop and Illustrator, but I'd like to know if it will make a difference as opposed to going out and just buying a deck.

    I use the Tarot as a kind of creative abstraction and problem-solving tool, rather than for any divination purpose, if that makes a difference.
    • CommentAuthoradrian r
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.7)
    That's an excellent idea. Given your intention -- to create a "creative abstraction and problem-solving tool" -- you may or may not wish to combine your own personal symbologies with those in the Tarot that point to planetary and elemental energies. You may well be aware of Eno's Oblique Strategies deck too. And if I was coming up with something of this nature I'd look into Osborn's work on creative strategies: he modelled the creative approaches of his colleagues at an ad agency some decades ago, and codified them into handy monkickers such as 'magnify', 'minify', 'combine' and so on, all strategies that can be applied to whatever the matter at hand is.
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      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.8)
    I had not heard of Eno's or Osborn's work before, but I shall certainly look into them. Thank you, Adrian.
    • CommentAuthorhank
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.9)
    I think its viable as long as you take your time and build something functional.
    • CommentAuthormunin218
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.10)
    I've always found the Robin Wood tarot to be easiest to work with, and her book is written fairly well (and easy to learn from it). Her art, both by hand and digital, is pretty spiffy too. Sadly, her declining health has limited her to digital work only, and not much of that either. Very nice lady (her husband is a personable guy, too).
    • CommentAuthoradrian r
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.11)
    Artemis: Google Alex Osborn when you're searching. He's most noted as the father of brainstorming, but don't hold that against him: he made some cool observations. More recently, his work has been developed further under the acronym SCAMPER, which works as follows:

    S - Substitute - components, materials, people

    C - Combine - mix, combine with other assemblies or services, integrate

    A - Adapt - alter, change function, use part of another element

    M - Modify - increase or reduce in scale, change shape, modify attributes (e.g. colour)

    P - Put to another use

    E - Eliminate - remove elements, simplify, reduce to core functionality

    R - Reverse - turn inside out or upside down

    Run a concept/problem through at least one of those processes, and see how it changes.
    • CommentAuthorKinesys
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.12)
    Yoink!
    • CommentAuthorjcfiala
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.13)
    Interesting, thanks. I'm fond of tarot decks for collecting and as art objects, but I've been considering learning how the darn things are supposed to work.
    • CommentAuthorarplight
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.14)
    Jung and Tarot is an interesting book on tarot. Good reading for those inclined to gazing at others' navels.
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      CommentAuthorBadman7
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.15)
    Hmmm .. I prefer the Aquarian Tarot Deck personally. Lovely images and it “feels good in the hands” during a reading. Google Craig Junjulas, he did an accompanying book to help get things started.

    The weirdest deck I’ve found, I purchased in Germany a number of years ago, The Philosopher’s Stone fortune telling deck by DE ES. The strange images grabbed my attention. Never used it for a reading, the images tend to freak out folks.
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      CommentAuthorelizabeth
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.16)
    I use the Thoth deck myself, so can wholeheartedly recommend The Book of Thoth by Crowley. As with all Crowley you kind of have to cut through the verbosity and self-importance, but there are pearls to be found in there nontheless.

    Oh, absolutely. Reading Crowley is a must if you're really inclined to dig under the hood of that deck.

    What I love about Lon's stuff (and this goes for his Qabalah material too) is that it gives you some context and some ground to stand on. Qabalah, for example, is so dense and abstract that it makes me feel like I'm floating around out in space somewhere... trying to absorb a guy like, say, Robert Wang (whose book on Tarot and Qabalah is very good) without having something to at least wrap your head around is... well, almost a waste of time. As in, not a waste, but not an efficient use of time. I'd rather dig in after I have some semblance of what the fudge is going on. Lon is really excellent at helping out with that.

    Rachel Pollack is a comics person too

    Rachel is indeed a comics person. She wrote the book for the Vertigo Tarot (the original of which I somehow hornswoggled out of a nice guy at the sci-fi/fantasy used bookstore that once lived on Chambers street here in NY, back when I was about four years old). She has some wonderful stories about Grant and Neil.

    She is also very active in the Tarot scene here in New York, both upstate and in the city proper.
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      CommentAuthorelizabeth
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.17)
    I'm fond of tarot decks for collecting and as art objects, but I've been considering learning how the darn things are supposed to work.


    It can be off-putting because of the big learning curve, to be sure. When I was in high school, I remember deliberately avoiding it for that very reason. I'm going, "78 cards, rightsideup and upsidedown? You've got to be fucking kidding me." And I'd go back to reading ghost stories.

    But it gets addictive and the payoff can be really great over time. I'd encourage you to give it a try and see if it grabs you!

    Just remember to have patience, grasshopper. :)
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      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.18)
    I have heard many things about a Tarot 'story' involving the Fool's Journey through the Major Arcana. I have yet, however, to read this story in any satisfying form. Has anywhere here had this pleasure?
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      CommentAuthorelizabeth
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2007
     (157.19)
    What kind of story are you looking for, exactly? Like, a real narrative beginning-middle-end thing or the Fool traipsing-through-the-inner-landscapes thing?

    I ask because my crack at the latter is actually in print. Judy Harrow, the HPs (high priestess) of Proteus Coven here in New York City asked me to write a bit about it for one of her books back when I was training with her. She was looking for a psychological development cycle that Pagans could identify with and relate to. (The book is called SPIRITUAL MENTORING: A PAGAN GUIDE and it's still in print. I wrote it so long ago... I can hardly remember what I said!)

    Story narrative is a bit harder, given that Tarot communicates in symbol and metaphor and it could be argued that there are many beginnings and ends in the Majors. The progression isn't so nice and neat and logical (although it is, too). Then again, my storytelling skills are still in their infancy. :)

    Also, you mentioned making your own cards. Making your own cards is one of the most intense and rewarding experiences, especially if you want to get to know yourself. I think making your own deck would be just fine for the creative and problem-solving you're looking for, but whether it's "better or worse," per se, depends entirely on how much you put into it. There is so much content in existing decks... you'd get a lot out of spending a little time learning about basic symbolism and trying the cards then. Or you could just use the language you already have (and we all have some symbolic language already) and give it a shot -- it would be an interesting experiment.

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