Book Recommendations From Christine Payne-Towler Part 1

I am going to be doing a bi-weekly blog on esoteric books, based on recommendations from Tarot author/teacher/researcher Christine Payne-Towler’s Tarot University Arkletters book page – (Christine is the author of “The Underground Stream”, an avid Tarot researcher, and founder of the Tarot University.)

“The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image (Compass)”
Author: Jules Cashford and Anne Baring. Foreword by Laurens Van Der Post.

Content: This is a comprehensive study of poetry, mythology, art, literature, archeology and psychology as it relates to female deities. It shows how the myth of the goddess has been lost from Judeo-Christian images of the divine, as well as showing the progress of how and when she was excluded from western culture, and the implications of this exclusion.

Note: The concept of the goddess, and the goddess within each of us (male and female) is one that as readers we see in one form or another on a daily basis. We work with our clients to integrate the various parts of themselves, as well as to understand their relationships with others. This concept is also a very important part of how women see themselves, and how they identify and walk their path in life.


“Access To Western Esotericism” (Suny Series In Western Esoteric Traditions)
Author: Antoine Faivre

Content: This was one of the first books available in English that address Western Esotericism in a comprehensive manner. I don’t have this book (yet), but I did note in the reviews that it is not promoted as a book for beginners. Indeed – it is a research quality offering from Suny Press. It covers subjects such as Christian Kabbalah, Theosophy, Alchemy, Rosicrucianism and Hermeticism. The second half of the book provides a series of case studies on important figures, works and movements in Western Esotericism.


“Sacred Tarot – Manual of the Brotherhood of Light, Serial No. 48”
Author: C. C. Zain , Elbert Benjamine

Content: There are eleven sections, or “serials”, addressing lines of thought from “The Doctrine of Kabalism” to “How To Read The Tarot”. Synthesis is made with the Hebrew letters, numerology, astrology, color vibrations, musical tones, crystals, Arcanum and ancient cycles. This was written as a companion book to the Brotherhood of Light Tarot.

Note: This is available, used, for around $150.00 on

I hope that you enjoy reading about these treasures. They may or may not fit your path right now … the important thing may be for you to simply know that they exist!

© April 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

One comment on “Book Recommendations From Christine Payne-Towler Part 1

  1. The following comment is from Christine, who was unable to get into the system (which I have hopefully now fixed!).

    Hi Bonnie!

    A few more remarks about the books you have highlighted. The Myth Of The Goddess is not only an excellent intellectual presentation on the subject, created by two analytical psychologists. It is also, as suggested by its subtitle “Evolution of an Image”, a tremendous collection of Goddess art from every culture and time. Nearly every pair of pages offers another image, which leavens the reading experience with some of the most beautiful and evocative portraits of the sacred that the world possesses. The writers walk the line between religious and secular with sensitive awareness, showing sympathy towards each tradition they recount. The first half of the book presents myths of the Great Mother and her Son/Lover, while the second half details myths of the Sacred Marriage. With great care these two wise woman catalogue the worldwide mirror that religion has held up to capture the spiritual dance between Woman and Man across human cultures.

    Access to Western Esotericism is foundational to the entire genre, providing the initial outline to the whole evolving discipline. There have been many responses to the initial criteria that Faivre developed for evaluating “what is esoteric?”, in particular a set of responses by Arthur Versluis that have clarified some of Faivre’s initial stances and somewhat broadened the focus of study. But here is where you will find the first and best map of the territory written in English.

    I have great fondness for the Brotherhood of Light and their program, as this was the first systematic study of the Tarot I encountered back in the early 1970’s. At that time you could easily find copies of this and other volumes from the set in resale shops for just a few dollars. Many were made but few have survived — my original copy fell into pieces years ago, due to an inferior binding process that has not stood the test of time. (A dear friend found me a hardbound copy that was once part of the entire set — this is Volume VI.) The text and teachings represent an American response by Elbert Benjamine (pseud. C. C. Zain) to the Theosophical Tarot, which Madame Blavatsky was teaching in India before she became a phenomenon in Europe. The images are versions of the Falconnier Tarot which emerged at the turn of the 1900’s. It is a very worthwhile exercise to cross-compare this presentation with Mouni Sadhu’s book The Tarot, Oswald Wirth’s Tarot of the Magicians, plus the works of Haich, Levi and Papus. These people as a group represent the wave of Tarot studies that appeared before the world was overtaken by the English-styled packs.



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