In going through several boxes of books that I have stored in the garage, I ran across two wonderful little books on the Tarot. Little in size (4 1/4″ by 7″ and 5″ by 6 1/2″), but filled with their own unique take on the Tarot.
“How To Understand The Tarot, by Frank Lind (The Aquarian Press, 1979) describes the Major and Minor Arcana (text, with accompnaying black and white pictures). The foreword, by Brian H. Wallace, establishes the temper of the book by defining symbolism as the network through which we access the riches buried withn the universal consciousness. He also notes that the images in the Tarot are meant to be meditated upon, so that the individual can determine their own meaning for the cards.
There are many interesting tid bits in this book, includng a short discussion on whether the Fool should be placed before the Juggler (Magician) or after the World. Justice becomes Balance, Strength becomes the Enchantress, Death becomes the Reaper, Temperance becomes the Angel of Time, the Devil becomes the Black Magician, the Tower becomes the Lightening-struck Tower, Judgment becomes the Day of Judgement.
There is a great deal of esoteric discussion on the images and meaning of the cards for such a small book (92 pages). I feel that Lind’s work reflects the times in which this book was written (the first printing was in 1969).
While “How To Understand The Tarot” is a paperback, the second book that caught my eye, “Tarot”, by David V. Barrett (The Predictions Library, 1995) is a hardback. This really is a nicely done book, with good quality card stock, and color pictures.
There is a short introduction to the Tarot, with the Minor Arcana suites associated with playing card suites. The Tarot is presented as a form of divination, an aid to psychological awareness and spiritual development, and as a guide through daily life.
Tarot history is presented well, and there is a discussion of the early cards and their influences, including Etteilla and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. There are interesting scans from different Tarot decks, such as the Flemish Tarot and the Grand Etteilla.
Different types of Tarot decks include the Marseilles, the 1JJ Swiss and the Rider-Waite. Cards are also shown from the Elemental Tarot, the Motherpeace Tarot, and the Sardinia Tarot.
The coloring on the card scans is rich and the lines crisp. Aside from discussing each card, there are one or two sidebars on each card that take note of specific symbols within the card (such as the dog that accompanies the Fool, and the Emperor’s solid four-square Throne of Law).
The spreads presented here are the Whole Person Spread, the Progression Spread, the Star Spread I, the Star Spread II, the Horseshoe Spread, the Alternatives Spread and the Celtic Cross Spread.
I spent quite a pleasant afternoon with these two little books. They are a link to the evolution of Tarot, and were well worth revisiting.