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Studying Tarot history.... where to start/what to read

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Studying Tarot history.... where to start/what to read


In the light of comments made in this thread, which got intense in places, I thought we could turn this around to being something productive, positive and helpful. I would hope that the reason it got heated was more to do with the need to share a passion then anything else. Therefore, could we have suggestions from those who study the history of Tarot as to what is considered essential or helpful reading. I personally enjoyed Robert O'Neill's Tarot Symbolism and I'm about to re-read it, since I feel I have a better understanding of the history now then I did when I first read it.

Please note...this thread is not about whether or not history knowledge is essential in order to be a competant reader, please leave those opinions elsewhere. Perhaps this could be seen as a thread of learning for those that do want to go this route, and of sharing for those who would like to.

Firstly, could we share links on where to read this information, assuming that there are websites available, and secondly, could we give opinions on what to read first and why. There are links all over Aeclectic but condensing them into one thread would be useful.

Neo-Platonism has been mentioned a few times, perhaps that is a good start?

There is a hidden treasure in Enrique Enriquez' interviews with some of our resident historians, and members. These are always a good read:


A conversation with JC Flornoy
A conversation with Michael J Hurst
A conversation with Ross Sinclair Caldwell
A conversation with Marco Ponzi and Ross S. Caldwell
A conversation with Jean-Michel David
A conversation with Mary Greer
A conversation with Major Tom Schick
A conversation with Karen Mahony
A conversation with Rachel Pollack

You can find more interviews on Enrique's website:

http://www.enriqueenriquez.me/
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I think Bob O'Neill's library on Tarot.com is a great place to start.
http://tarot.com/about-tarot/library/boneill/

Just reading these pages should give you a long list of thoughts that lead to further study, based on what you found interesting.
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Of course, there's lots of great information contributed by the members of Aeclectic.

The table of contents created by jmd is a great place to quickly find more information on a particular subject of interest:
http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=31857
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For books, the Tarotpedia Tarot History books page is wonderful as an index:
http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/index...ory_%26_Theory

Two popular recent books are:
Place, Robert
Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination
2005 ISBN 1585423491

and
Huson, Paul
Mystical Origins of the Tarot
2004 ISBN 0892811900

Many people, including myself, would consider Wicked Pack of Cards to be essential reading for anyone seriously interested in tarot history. It's out of print, expensive, and hard to find. I personally find it to be the classic.

Decker, Ronald, Thierry Depaulis, & Michael Dummett
Wicked Pack of Cards
996 ISBN 0715627139 or ISBN 0312162944

As moonbow* mentions above...
Bob O'Neill
Tarot Symbolism
1986 Fairway Press. ISBN 0895369362
available in reprint from the Association for Tarot Studies
http://association.tarotstudies.org/symbolism.html

and I'd also highly recommend Volume 2, and possibly Volume 1 of The Encyclopedia of Tarot by Kaplan
http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/index...pedia_of_Tarot
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Another site which I've spent some time reading in the past and covers many topics which I personally find interesting is Sacred Texts. Here is the link to the Tarot page but there is a huge list of topics on the left of the page which are also a good read.
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Wow - with all those resources mentioned, as avenues 'for starters', I'm not sure what else to add.

The only other more general books to read that are specifically on the times, and take various esoteric elements as important (yet addresses these from a sound historical foundation) are the works of Frances Yates.
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As a web resource, I would also add CarteDaTrionfi, Michael’s Tarot Notebook.

I think "Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination" by Robert Place is a good first book. It is not as rigorous as Dummett, by I think it could be easier to read for someone who also has an interest in divination.

Marco
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Hi Moonbow,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonbow*
could we have suggestions from those who study the history of Tarot as to what is considered essential or helpful reading.
(...)
Firstly, could we share links on where to read this information, assuming that there are websites available, and secondly, could we give opinions on what to read first and why. There are links all over Aeclectic but condensing them into one thread would be useful.
I think this is a good suggestion. A lot of people want to know how to get their head around it all.

Resources on the www can be a good and sound place to start, if the study is organized correctly for historical purposes. The links Robert gave to the tarotpedia.com site are all excellent. They can be overwhelming however, and while all are the work of experts, few give a "bare-bones" list of essential data to know for the study of tarot.

The three sets of facts that need to have an overview (at least) memorized first are the "three C's" - chronology, category, and characters.

1. The chronology consists of the dates of important facts in the development of tarot.

The best graphic depiction is Tom Tadfor Little's "Classification of Tarot Designs" -
http://www.tarothermit.com/lineage.htm
More advanced, with links, Trionfi.com's "Timeline Playing Card and Tarot History" -
http://trionfi.com/0/j/
(this page is also a good guide to an otherwise very difficult site)

2. "Category" means the type or family of tarot pack.

Tom is good again, "The Early Ordering of the Trumps" -
http://www.tarothermit.com/ordering.htm
and
http://www.tarothermit.com/ordering2.htm

Andy Pollett gives an illustrated and informed discussion at his site -
http://l-pollett.tripod.com/cards3.htm
and
http://l-pollett.tripod.com/cards14.htm

Michael Hurst presents a good discussion of some of the implications of these different categories at "The Riddle of Tarot" -
http://www.geocities.com/cartedatrionfi/Riddle.html


3. "Characters" means significant persons in the history. This is often the most interesting part of the study, at least for interpreting the meaning of the early surviving cards.

You can find out a lot about individuals and families like the Este, Visconti and Sforza on the internet, but the only pages that focus on their relationship to tarot are on trionfi.com -
http://trionfi.com/0/e/00c/
and see also, for a detailed chronology of the earliest evidence with links -
http://trionfi.com/0/e/00/
Follow up with these the discussions of the various cities in their relation to tarot as well (Milan, Ferrara, Bologna, Florence etc.), all except Bologna here -
http://trionfi.com/0/e/

(hint - when using trionfi.com, the left-hand frame is often the best navigator for significant characters or dates to follow up on. It is purely chronological, although of course it leads to a maze of data arranged in different ways).

Ross
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Hi, and thanks for this thread.

I am wondering where is the best place to look at Neoplatonism (as it relates to the tarot)? I read in Bob O'Neil's site, but was hoping to find something that would relate each of the trumps to Neoplatonic thought. Does anything like that exist?

Thank you for any help.
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Hi Prudence,

Quote:
Originally Posted by prudence
I am wondering where is the best place to look at Neoplatonism (as it relates to the tarot)? I read in Bob O'Neil's site, but was hoping to find something that would relate each of the trumps to Neoplatonic thought. Does anything like that exist?
I don't think it does. The best Platonic, "neo-Platonic", or classical-source based interpretation of tarot is John Opsopaus' "Alchemical Tarot" -
http://www.cs.utk.edu/~mclennan/BA/PT/

But remember that interpretations like his are not the same as history, and he doesn't claim they are (classically trained as he is).

Real tarot history starts from the facts, and works outward towards other facts. What's in between - trying to connect the facts in a dark puzzle - is argumentation. That's how history this old is done.

Ross
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