A while back, Quintessential Editor asked for some book recs on the Tarot. I gave him two that I’ve found exceptionally helpful, and I thought that would make for a good Tarot Tuesday post. So here are the two books I recommended to him, plus one extra:
1. Eyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow by Arthur Green
This book isn’t about the Tarot. It’s an excellent introduction to Kabbalah instead—a type of Jewish mysticism that the Rider-Waite-Smith deck relies on (as do all the decks that follow the standard it set).
It’s a practical introduction, which I love. It doesn’t assume you have any special knowledge of Judaism or mysticism. It’s not out to convert you or make any claims about being the one true path. It’s just a hands-on guide.
The Tarot isn’t Jewish, of course; it’s Hermetic. But Hermeticism borrows from Kabbalah. (And Kabbalah, in turn, seems to have borrowed from Neoplatonism, probably indirectly. And round and round we go through western canon!) Hermeticism tweaks Kabbalah for its own purposes. But this book will stand you in good stead for a foundation in both the traditional Kabbalah and the Hermetic.
2. Tarot and the Tree of Life: Finding Everyday Wisdom in the Minor Arcana by Isabel Radow Kliegman
My go-to book for anything about the Minor Arcana—it offers sensitive, in-depth interpretations of each card. But this book is heavy on Kabbalah, so you might want to start with Arthur Green’s book and get grounded in it first. That said, you don’t absolutely need that grounding to understand this book, so if you can’t wait to dig into some Tarot, start here instead.
3. Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner
As the title suggests, this book is all about writing with the Tarot. Corrine Kenner doesn’t assume you have any special knowledge about the Tarot, so you can start with this book if you want to jump into using the cards for help with your characters and plots. She gives you some solid information on the symbolism of the cards, but in bite-sized, digestible pieces. And if you think you’d like to use Tarot spreads to help your story along, she gives you lots to choose from.
These are my three favorite books for starting out with Tarot. But don’t neglect Wikipedia—as of this moment, it has fairly in depth write ups on a number of the cards, complete with commentaries on the symbolism.
I’m going to post more book recommendations every couple of months. (Feel free to add more in the comments!) Some will delve further into the Tarot; some further into Hermeticism, and some into the Rider-Waite-Smith deck in particular. And I’ll include some general reference books as well.
Okay, we’ll need a card for next week: the Two of Swords.