What Is Tarot de Marseille?

Though I am not a tarot historian (and I must confess to skipping through the seemingly mandatory sections in commentaries concerning the “origins” of the tarot), I do believe it is appropriate at this juncture to say a few words about the Tarot de Marseille. Literally, Tarot de Marseille ought to refer to those tarot …

Introduction: The Search for an Authentic TdM

In order to better fathom the Jodorowsky-Camoin Tarot de Marseille (1997), we require an understanding of what Alejandro Jodorowsky intended when he and Phillipe Camoin devised their deck.  In his book, which is part autobiography and part guide,[1] Jodorowsky relates that he first came into contact with the tarot as a child of seven when …

“It’s a bit complicated but I have trouble understanding why…”

This is a spread I found on Reddit.  I had no information aside from the cards, a log-in name, and a request for help with an interpretation: “It’s a bit complicated but I have trouble understanding why…”  Ordinarily I do not do readings because the querent frequently comes armed with the belief that a spread …

I

The first thing we notice is all three cards, from our perspective, appear to be reversed, and this was what most troubled the querent, as she did not know what to make of it; she is not alone in her consternation.  Reversals present a problem for a lot of people within the tarot community, and …

Paracelsus’ Elementals and the Suit of Swords, in Waite-Smith and Brian Williams’ Renaissance Tarot

Whatever Etteilla’s rationale, at some point someone decided it made more sense to switch things around a bit, so that Coins pair with Earth and combustible Staffs or Wands match up with Fire.  This is the disposition in the Waite-Smith and nearly every other modern deck I have encountered;[i] the arrangement is so prevalent that …

Vitruvian Man; or the Problem with Universals

Part 1 “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.” Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene III, L. 140-141 “By the ancients man has been called the world in miniature; and certainly this name is well bestowed.” Leonardo da Vinci Perhaps no work better epitomizes the Renaissance than Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian …

Continuities

“Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost … the embers left from earlier fires … shall duly flame again.” Walt Whitman, “Continuities” Walt Whitman published the first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855; his voice was as youthful, brazen, and robust as the idealized nation he represented.  “I celebrate myself,” begins his …