The Esoteric Tarot: Ancient Sources Rediscovered in Hermeticism and Cabalah

The Esoteric Tarot: Ancient Sources Rediscovered in Hermeticism and Cabalah

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By (author) Ronald Decker

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  • Publisher: Quest Books,U.S.
  • Format: Paperback | 312 pages
  • Dimensions: 188mm x 259mm x 33mm | 295g
  • Publication date: 30 July 2013
  • Publication City/Country: Wheaton, IL
  • ISBN 10: 0835609081
  • ISBN 13: 9780835609081
  • Sales rank: 252,077

Product description

That the Tarot originated in ancient Egypt as a divinatory tool is a romantic misconception. Ron Decker's meticulous scholarship will surprise practitioners and academics alike, revealing the Tarot's true evolution and meanings as its inventor(s) understood it.The Tarot consists of the Minor Arcana, four suits of cards similar to our modern deck, and the Major Arcana, twenty-two allegorical or "trump" cards. Decker says the four-suit deck was invented in Asia Minor before AD 1000; Italian courtiers added the trumps in the 1400s. But Tarot was first used as a game. Tarot divination was only created in the 1700s by a Parisian fortuneteller who based the trump images on Hermeticism, which merges Greco-Egyptian alchemy, astrology, numerology, magic, and mysticism. Today, the suit-cards are often traced to the ancient Jewish Cabala. But, says Decker, they, too, acquired their meanings only in the 1700s, and he cites a lost numerical system based on Cabala at that timeDecker's interpretation integrates three whole systems-astrological, arithmological, mystagogical (concerning initiation rites into the Mysteries). His depth of knowledge makes the book a must-have for serious students of Tarot and esotericism

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Author information

Ronald Decker holds a B.A. in fine art from State University College at Buffalo and a M.A. in painting from the University of Cincinnati graduate school. He has taught art and art history at all levels of education. Until his retirement, he was curator of antique cards at The U.S. Playing Card Company. He has studied Tarot cards in public and private collections in all of Europe's capitols as well as Turkey, Egypt, and India. Tarot and the Esoteric Traditions is his fourth book about the cards.

Review quote

"Noted art and playing card historian Ronald Decker deeply probes the Hermetic, Neoplatonic and Kabbalistic esoteric systems studied by Renaissance intellectuals and finds sufficient significant congruency between their symbols and tarot cards to build his intriguing theory that the tarot trumps may well have originated as a device with multilevel meanings developed for psychological and philosophical introspection, possibly divination. Most important to Decker's theory is his close examination of the life and theories of eighteenth century Parisian card reader Jean-Baptiste Alliette, who, perceiving the Hermetic resonances of the cards, first popularized the use of tarot cards for divination purposes under the pseudonym "Etteilla." His card interpretations became the basis for those of the Order of the Golden Dawn, and indeed form the basis of most tarot card interpretations used today. Obviously this is an impressive book not to be missed; as readable as it is learned, it should have a definite appeal to tarot historian and tarot reader alike." --Paul Huson, author of "Mystical Origins of the Tarot"