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A History of the Occult Tarot

First published in 2002 and finally available again, A History of the Occult Tarot is the classic work on the history of the Tarot deck and its uses in occult circles. Starting with the late 19th century, the authors—art historian and antique card curator Ronald Decker and former Oxford logic professor Michael Dummett—examine how the Tarot went from a deck used simply for card games to being the favored divination tool of occultists, a bridge to the spirit world, and even a map of the unconscious mind.                  
Looking at the people and organizations who adopted the Tarot, ranging from the Theosophical Society and Aleister Crowley to the Order of the Golden Dawn and P.D. Ouspensky, this compelling scholarly look at Tarot’s occult history describes many of the fascinating decks used by occultists as well as the secret histories of magical and occult groups of the late 19th century through contemporary times. It is one of the essential histories of the subject and a key volume for the libraries of all serious students of Tarot.

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Tags: Tarot

3 comments on “A History of the Occult Tarot

  1. More than you might expect Very impressive book. My initial impression was that this would be another competently researched book on tarot & it’s history, I soon realised that it is a lot more. This is one of the most concise histories of modern westen occultism that I have found. Even though it’s not broad in scope the leval of detail is impressive. The history of Tarot is thorogh & well presented but the background on Occult orders was unexpected. Groups like the Golden Dawn & the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor are covered with enough detail to merit this being rated as a good general history of Occultism. The Church of Light & Manly Hall are treated with good biographical essays on the central characters. Even though I have been reading about these people & groups for many years I learned much new information here.This is not a “how to” Tarot guide book but just as it says, a history. It establishes the personalities, places, & groups necessary & goes on to develop the story better than I have see it done elsewhere.

  2. and, at times, snarky I can’t really add to the other 5 star reviews of this book. Yes, it is a must-have reference. Yes, you will learn things about tarot and 18th-Century France that you never knew you wanted to know. I just want to add that I thoroughly enjoyed a few snarky comments as the authors disproved one baseless assertion after another.

  3. Excellent must-have reference. An excellent reference volume. A little too much time is spent on the explanation of Kabbalah and ceremonial magic for my liking – would like to have read even more biography of folk like Madeline Montalban and Rolla Nordic – but this is just a personal quibble. Dummett and Decker (particularly) are to be congratulated on their efforts. This book is a must-have for all serious tarot enthusiasts.

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