J.W. Brodie-Innes on the Pictorial Key


It seems Waite's descriptions of the trumps in his Pictorial Key to the Tarot were as much of a mystery to those of his own day as they are now. J. W. Brodie-Innes wrote an interesting article for the Occult Review [Vol. XXIX, No. 2 (February 1919)] entitled "The Tarot Cards." I ran across it in Gilbert's The Sorcerer and His Apprentice. Brodie-Innes comments on the PKT, both positively and negatively. At one point he says:

"Archaeological research is continually bringing to light new and unexpected discoveries, and it may well be that any day some fresh evidence may be forthcoming on the forms of the Tarot, before the earliest that are now known, evidence that perhaps will without doubt connect these mysterious cards with one or other of the great races of antiquity and the great systems of philosophy or prove the fallacy of this idea. I trust that Mr Waite may some day find time to tell us from whence he derived his interpretations, and the designs illustrating them."​

I believe Brodie-Innes would have been disappointed had Waite explained it to him though. He was looking for something that would prove or deny a connection of the trumps with antiquity. Waite's trumps don't do this conclusively; they're based on doctrines that Waite claims go back as far as the garden of Eden, but this is hardly the kind of evidence Brodie-Innes was looking for. One almost gets the feeling he knew already that was the case and was speaking sarcastically. The fact that he comments on Waite's lack of clarity is interesting though.

Here's a download of the article.

The Tarot Cards (J.W. Brodie-Innes).pdf 123 kb