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Studying Tarot history.... where to start/what to read

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Luminosa  Luminosa is offline
Join Date: 27 Mar 2010
Location: Owl Land
Posts: 212

Top   #31
Huck  Huck is offline
Join Date: 02 Jul 2003
Location: Germany
Posts: 2,682

Originally Posted by Luminosa View Post
Hi Huck,

Thanks for the welcome and sorry that I have posted my opinion in the wrong place, so pls feel free to delete mine, just expressed my thoughts from pure observation of pieces here and there that seems to go together well and fit each other vis-ŗ-vis Egyptian lore.

hi Luminosa,

I've no moderator status, so I can't delete anything. If you want "delete" something, you just can edit the file with the button "edit" at the end of the post and write "delete" and kill the old text. That's a common practice and the friendly moderator once will erase the contribution.
... :-) ... and it's helpful, if you once have written something, which you indeed don't want to have on your list.

And if you wish to save the written word, you just could move the text to another place, where it is appropriate. For instance "Skeptic about some of Dummett's remarks" or "Somehow Tarot contains Egyptian elements", whatever your preferred title might be. Other might react, just according their opinion.
Top   #32
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kapoore  kapoore is offline
Join Date: 24 Apr 2004
Location: California, USA
Posts: 161

I think the recommendations for books are great--especially Wicked Pack of Cards because it provides the parameters for historical research. I have learned the most, though, about Tarot origins from reading Arthur E. Waite's Tarot guide, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, and combined that with his book, The Way to Divine Union. Even though Waite has the reputation for being an occultist and Golden Dawner, thus not taken seriously by a lot of Tarot origin people; he really was extremely interested in the hidden traditions of Tarot. Throughout The Pictorial Key, he paraphrases his sources which I believe lead the seeker deep into Tarot origin land....seriously.
Top   #33
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kapoore  kapoore is offline
Join Date: 24 Apr 2004
Location: California, USA
Posts: 161

I don't know if someone has mentioned Timothy Betts's Tarot and the Millennium: The Story of Who's On the Cards and Why. First of all it is an entertaining read for those interested in Tarot origins. He has done some first rate research on the time period of the Tarot, and has many illustrations from early decks. In discussing the Charles VI deck, for example, he brings up the Pisanello's bronze portrait metals that became the "talk of Italy" and became so popular that "In the 1450s both Francesco Sforza and King Ferdinand I of Naples issued coins bearing portraits." For those who haven't seen the Charles VI deck, the coins have portraits on them that probably were part of this craze. And it interests me that the original Pisanello portrait metals came out of the work that Pisanello did for the Council of Florence where he was the artist in residence. I have studied his paintings from the Council as well as other work contemporary with the Council and compared it to figures on early decks. Does John VIII Palaelogus appear on any of the coins of the Charles VI deck, I say 'yes' and someone else's eye says 'no.' But this is the flavor of Tarot origins and Timothy Betts does it very well.
Top   #34
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Cerulean  Cerulean is offline
Join Date: 26 Apr 2002
Location: Calif., USA
Posts: 9,341
Hello Kapoore, does T. Betts talk of Bianca MariaMilan and MM Boardo of


I have done lots of early and late Renaissance reading just because the five family clans who dominated arts and courtly patronage did fascinating works, with alas, tarot minatures not playing major focus.

I like generalist as well as formal histories,so am curious if this good read has a different, newer take than Kaplan or Dummett, Decker and Depaulis. Sometimes the latest authors had not added historic or a way that works for what I have already.

Thanks for the recomendation. Am eager for something more.

Top   #35
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kapoore  kapoore is offline
Join Date: 24 Apr 2004
Location: California, USA
Posts: 161


No, Betts has his own theory of Tarot origins, which most dismiss. He identifies the 22 Trumps with the 22 chapters of the Book of Revelations. However, he does a good job of covering history, art history, iconography, and the early cards. So, I considered it a good read when it was published, 1998. I think this is true of a lot of origin books including Gertrude Moakley's The Tarot Cards Painted by Bonifacio Bembo. I couldn't believe that Moakley gives a good historical summary of the Hanging Man but forgets somehow to mention the 1390 Milanese decree against "Pitture infamanti" that I believe lasted until after 1450. She also finds the best examples of Tarot prototypical art for the pre-lenten parades in Flemish art, not Milanese. And she makes a jumble between jumping back and forth between Milan and Florence as if they were the same city and not at war with each other. Still, when she is "on" target, she has some great insights and she is worth reading. I thought her remark that the Triumphs were ribald take-offs insightful, even though I don't agree with her conclusions. So, I guess my point is that for those interested in the topic of Tarot origins, we read a lot of different books even though we may not agree with the conclusions. By the way, when I quoted Betts on the coins and the Charles the VI deck I went back to my decks and I realized he had made a mistake. He really meant the Minchaite deck that has a lot of medallion coins, and it is very likely that this can be connected to Pisanello's cast bronze portrait medal of John VIII Palaelogus. So, that is definitely worthwhile info. ...
Top   #36
aimeedanger  aimeedanger is offline
Join Date: 24 May 2012
Location: OR, USA
Posts: 40
book swap?

Would anyone be interested in starting a book swap? I have a few out of print, hard to find books but I'm always looking for more. I have:

The Tarot Cards of Bonifacio Bembo by Gertrude Moakley
The Triomphi by Petrarch
as well as a bunch of other more well-known books such as Tarot Symbolism. I'm really looking for anything by Michael Dummett.
Top   #37
simple_biscuit  simple_biscuit is offline
Join Date: 15 Mar 2014
Location: punk dumpster
Posts: 23

Aimee, it might please you to know that Decker & Dummett's "A History of the Occult Tarot" has recently been reissued. This is the sequel to "A Wicked Pack of Cards." It picks up in the late 19th century and continues until the 1970's.

In fact, looking at the Powell's website, I see both volumes are available at reasonable prices. It's possible that both books are back in print.

I agree that reading at least 1 of these books is essential for someone who's interested in Tarot history.
Top   #38
rygD  rygD is offline
Join Date: 07 Jun 2016
Location: US
Posts: 41
Link rot

There are a lot of dead links on the first page. Are there updated or archived locations for any of that info?

Feel free to delete this post.
Top   #39
russell  russell is offline
Join Date: 05 Jun 2016
Location: Northern California
Posts: 20

Tarot history:

The Hermitage by Tom Tadfor Little (now archived)

A few more:

Tarot Symbolism by Robert ONeill

The Origin of Tarot cards by Jean Verame

The historical context:

The Renaissance at Ravenís Tarot site

The Avignon papacy and the western schism at Wikipedia:

Top   #40



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