Marseilles Tarot Research


I am doing extensive research into any and all elements of the Marseilles Tarot decks, including history and symbolism. I have access to the readily available decks (Conver, Burdel, the 1803 deck from U.S. Games, the restored Conver deck from Camoin, etc.) and some of the variant decks, but again the popular ones.

I have the complete Kaplan Tarot Encyclopedias and am working thru them right now.

If you have any less known information about this period of Tarot (any aspect), or know some well-researched websites, or books dealing specifically with this subject, please post!



Forgot to mention, I need to do extensive research for active occult groups in France during this time. I have learned that some of these groups special ordered decks from their local printers, and want to pursue this line of research. Thanks.


Bon jour Diana.

No, I am not fluent. I had a few French classes and I'm dusting the cobwebs from my memory and want to see if I can make sense of the language once and for all!

After I finish translating "Alice in Wonderland" from French back into English, perhaps I can take on some Tarot stuff.

I am interested in learning more about your reference materials.



List of resources in French

Diana, please do post your list.

The only 'important' book which comes to mind that I know of which hasn't been translated (into English) is Dr Carton La Science Occulte et Les Sciences Occultes.

I am fluent in French and would certainly be interested to see what is currently available (though access to them might be another matter... maybe through the fnac?)


Thanks, Diana! I'll try to track down at least two of these. I believe your second one, "Meditations sur les 22 Arcanes Majeurs du Tarot" (Editions Aubier. ISBN 2-7007-0369-3) is the same as "Meditations On the Tarot" by V. Tomberg, I mean, anonymous. I read somewhere that this book was only available in French for a while and the English version is, well, the English version of the same text. I have seen it both hardbound and paperback. Oddly enough, the hardbound was published by Amity House,a Catholic press, and hardly what one might expect as a source of books on Tarot! Of course, it's a book on Christian Hermeticism, but still...I mean...the Tarot? Do you think the Vatican has even heard of these strange cards?

Thanks. Ophiel


Marseille Tarot

I believe the Philosophers of Nature uses this deck in their excellent qabalah course.

They stopped a couple of years ago, I'm not sure if they are doing a web site again yet, although they did promise to come back on line.

this is the only substantial link I found on a workd search:




Diana...I think the Catholic church is painfully aware of everything that goes on in the occult community. They have lost control, and they can't burn us at the stake anymore, but on a certain level, much about the church is very mystical and occult, but not the stuff you see up front. Can you imagine what the Vatican vaults are like, all those books they confiscated over the centuries? Or perhaps Napoleon got them when he did a panty raid on the city.

This book in question is really not about the cards as divination. The book is thick, and has meditations on the major arcana and it's all seen thru the eyes of the Christian hermeticist. The author (no, not anonymous, but his pseudonom, Valintine Tomberg) was very active in the Anthroposophical Society (Rudolf Steiner) and at a point, decided to leave and return to the Catholic church because he believed he could bring back that element of mysticism that was missing from the Church. This all happened in the 20th century. Years ago, I used to see many priests at my local occult bookstore, buying Steiner books with me. I attended some reading groups of Steiner ideas and they were held at a Franciscan church/dorm in my area. Steiner is hardly the stuff that Sunday Mass is made of! It was an odd combination, for sure.

Tomberg also wrote some deep books on the occult significance in both the old and new testaments, and other writings on very deep occult topics. I still get a kick out of the fact that the book was published by a Catholic press, though.


Continuing on this theme of researching the Marseilles deck, it is becoming painfully clear to me that an understanding of the deck is more of a task than reading a few books and familiarizing myself with the basic decks. I knew this before I started this project actually, but just want to toss this concept out to our Tarot brotherhood. Thorough research is important and I wonder if some of those now researching the cards realize this study is holistic and not just about the cards. How can we understand them without knowing the history, the outer history of the times? And what people were reading, and what issues were relavent to them. It is a tough one, getting into the mindset of people who lived 400 years ago, or even 300 years ago, or even 200 years ago. Surely our advances cause us to look differently at the world, but it should be evident to any student of history that these earlier people (and historical periods way earlier than this) were highly intelligent with developed souls and minds. The Greek material is available to us and we can gain a peek at what was going on under the hood, so to speak. One 20th century alchemist, du Lubicz, dedicated his life to studying the Egyptian culture because he felt there was a life to the hieroglyphs that we all had missed in our archeological surveys of the period. He was a severe student of the occult arts.

In order to understand the Marseilles period of cards, we have to take that slice out of time and learn everything we can about it. I noted in an earlier post that some of the card personages are facing in other directions than is traditional, and it is difficult to decide if it was an accident, sloppy work on the part of the printer, or if there are clues to deeper levels of the cards.

I feel very fortunate with this group that I have been able to develop some thoughts along occult lines with the cards and not be blasted and labeled as an imbocile because if one studies the 'true' history of the cards, it should be evident that they were merely a game invented for the rich and famous of the time.

Thank you...and on with the research.


Why? Because some of my studies take me pre-Waite, and the deck of choice then was the Marseilles, or at least that style is usually sited. Also, I am curious about the occult activity in France during this period and this deck seemed an obvious choice.

How Curios


I have the Ancient Italian Tarot. I think that is under the Marsielle tradition. I really love it; specially for the pips.