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

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Interviews with Aeclectic Personalities


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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My first - and still one of my favorite "general" (that is, not specifically focused on Tree of Life correlations or tied to a particular deck) tarot book was "The Tarot" by Richard Cavendish, published in 1975 and reprinted in 1986. It covers History, Interpretation and Divination in three sub-sections and is a highly readable yet scholarly primer for those interested in the disputed origins of the cards, the key figures involved in its emergence from the Middle Ages, and the Victorian-era hermetic and qabalistic revival.
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Tarot History


I'm very new to Tarot, but I'm learning and I've been reading around the subject. Having learned of the references to Kabbalah and to Egyptian mysticism in the tarot I was going to seek a course in Egyptian mysticism, as a starting point to further understand the background.
However, I have just read 'A wicked pack of cards' by Decker, Depaulis and Dummett. I'm sure this book is well known in the Tarot forums. The authors make clear that from their researches, there is no disernable link between the Tarot and Egyptian mysticism, the whole thing being an invention of mystic / occult french scholars in the 16th - 19th centuries.

I am now confused - where does this leave Crowley and the Book of Thoth for example?

Celtic Seeker
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Dear Celtic Seeker,

I am glad to hear that you are willing to learn and you should pursue your instincts.
As you can see, there are two schools of thought on the Tarot. One that it is very ancient (i.e., not invented here syndrome) and the other that can be summed up as the "invented here" (meaning western Renaissance). Please continue to research this issue for yourself. However, since the majority of books today espouse the "invented here" philosophy, and you are perhaps interested in investigating the other philosophy, a new book called Archaeology of the Tarot will give you plenty of insights for your quest.

A Wicked Pack of cards, in my opinion, is only propaganda for the "invented here" philosophy. On page 27 there is a very reasonable quoted passage essentially saying no one knows where the Tarot comes from and some of the theories abounding. One sentence states "The majority view among the Western Occultist is that the Tarot originated in ancient Egypt." This passage is mercilessly attacked as being "the most successful propaganda campaign ever launched" and "every single sentence in the foregoing quotation is untrue". The authors' bias is easily exposed in that not every single sentence in the quotation is untrue. At least we should all agree the first sentence is true:"For all its theoretical and practical importance, the history of the Tarot is still a matter of controversy and debate". Ironically, the "most successful propaganda campaign ever launched" is actually the "invented here" one.

So Thanks for asking and keep on researching....
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Hi Celtic Seeker,

Although I have not read Dummett, I totally agree with TarotCard and I also conduct my own research which started when I could identify significant items on Tarot de Marseille which match Egyptian beliefs. I do not follow anyone. I draw conclusions from what I am seeing. If tarot did not come straight from Egypt at least it has had a strong influence from the Egyptian philosophy and beliefs. So we would have Egyptian thought disguised with Italian Renaissance or Marseille motifs.

So, hard work ahead. Observe, compare, read a lot and draw your own conclusions.

Good luck!

Lu
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Dummett's scholarship may have been first-rate, but I have encountered Dummett fanatics who regard his every word as infallible Holy Writ. Such devotion is akin to religious fundamentalism. It does not provide a favorable environment for any discussion of Tarot.
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Well ...

... this isn't thought as a thread of discussion ... see post 1 in this thread. The idea of this thread is, that persons new to the Tarot History forum find information, where they could find resources to read. For this reason the thread got a fixed position as the first of all other threads.

It's NOT thought for discussion, if anything is good or bad or useful or not.

If anybody feels tempted to attack a "Wicked Pack of Cards", she/he might open a thread with an appropriate title (or search for an already existing thread) and present her/his opinion and the relevant arguments. Similar for other ideas, for instance, that "Tarot comes from Egypt" or that there is a meaningful difference between "invented here" and "invented there" or about the so-called book "Archeology of the Tarot" (the search engine is astonishing silent about this title), in the case that it is real and has anything to do with the theme of this part of the forum, which is called "Historical Research".

So far these are common rules here, as far I know them ... cause the special conditions of "Historical Research" it's often requested by readers, that, if you state something as a historical truth, that you're asked, where you got this from and it's better, if you have an answer then.
If your topic relates strongly to Golden Dawn topics, there is a Forum "Rider-Waite-Smith" and "Thoth". Also there is a Forum "Kabbalah and Alphabet", and for more iconographic interests (though this a little bit floating) might be better "Marseilles & Other Early Decks".

... For those, who are relative new here, welcome ...
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Point well taken, Huck. I hereby (with a minor reservation as noted in a previous post) recommend A Wicked Pack of Cards by Dummett et al. Is that acceptable?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LRichard View Post
Point well taken, Huck. I hereby (with a minor reservation as noted in a previous post) recommend A Wicked Pack of Cards by Dummett et al. Is that acceptable?
... :-) ... there's no difficulty between "different opinions" here.
It belongs to the fruitful progress in Historical Research, that different opinions exist. Actually everybody can learn from them.

But perhaps all recent authors (inclusive myself) of the thread could agree, that we leave a "delete" in our contribution, giving the moderator opportunity to clear the field, just keeping the thread as it had been before.
Or to change the posts into real contributions with hints to good Tarot History literature.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huck View Post
Similar for other ideas, for instance, that "Tarot comes from Egyptia" or that there is a meaningful difference between "invented here" and "invented there" or about the so-called book "Archeology of the Tarot" (the search engine is astonishing silent about this title), in the case that it is real and has anything to do with the theme of this part of the forum, which is called "Historical Research".
This book is not yet published, nor is there any indication it is even written.

http://digg.com/newsbar/topnews/arch...y_of_the_tarot

Since the poster "TarotCard" seems to know what it is about, we may guess that TarotCard is Morgan DuVall, the author of the forthcoming book. However, as the book is not yet even available, posting an announcement of it in a "where to start, what to read" thread, is at best disingenuous, at worst pure spam.
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