Wicked Pack of Cards

I finished reading A Wicked Pack of Cards: The Origins of the Occult Tarot last night. It is an interesting book about the development of Tarot from a trump-taking card game (which is actually very fun) to an occult tool. I was a little confused about the authors’ opinion on Tarot though. Which I suppose is understandable since the book was written by three people and they are bound to have different ideas. It felt a little like in part of the book they were saying that Tarot reading is rubbish, since it starting as nothing more then a card game, while in other parts they seemed to support Tarot’s use as an occult tool. *shrug* I still think Tarot is an excellent tool, which is all the more useful now that I know more about some of the originators of Tarot theory.

I found one section very interesting. In it, they discuss a couple of authors, Papus and Eliphas Levi, who tried to make Tarot fit the Cabala and astrology. Neither came up with particularly elegant solutions, but it was still interesting how Tarot symbolism could be read to support both these systems (with some changes to the standard Tarot de Marseilles). Personally, I don’t think this supports the theory that Tarot really was created to hold occult wisdom. Instead, I see it was supporting the usefulness of symbolism. Symbols be can be used to hold information, and more recent Tarot decks have significantly altered their images to incorporate new symbolism, making them fit the Cabala, astrology or whatever system more closely. Crowley’s Thoth Tarot is an excellent example of a deck altered to fit a specific system.

Reading this book actually helped rekindled the magical feeling I used to get while reading occult books. Sure, occult knowledge may be dismissed by a lot of people, but there is a surprising amount of correspondence between systems. There has to be something to them…