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Kosmoran  Kosmoran is offline
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RWS beginner


I've been using the RWS deck in my readings for a couple years now. I think it's time to start studying it's symbolism and history on a deeper level. Where should I begin? What are the best books on that matter? As far as I know, the RWS symbolism is based mainly on Qabalah and Astrology. Is that correct? I never know if Waite/Pamela have given more attention to the qabalistic correspondence for each card, or the astrological ones, while they were creating the tarot cards.
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Curtis Penfold  Curtis Penfold is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kosmoran
I've been using the RWS deck in my readings for a couple years now. I think it's time to start studying it's symbolism and history on a deeper level. Where should I begin? What are the best books on that matter? As far as I know, the RWS symbolism is based mainly on Qabalah and Astrology. Is that correct? I never know if Waite/Pamela have given more attention to the qabalistic correspondence for each card, or the astrological ones, while they were creating the tarot cards.
Waite was a member of the Golden Dawn and a Free Mason. In my personal opinion, from what I've read and interpreted, it appears that lots of the RWS is about being initiated into a higher order.

The Fool can be looked at as the initiate moving through all the levels, all the Major Arcana.

The great thing about these initiation based groups is that they can become symbols of our own spiritual journey, how we become initiated into this great mystery or awareness.

Does anybody else agree with my observation?
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Abrac  Abrac is offline
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Hey Kosmoran, as far as history and background you might try The Story of the Waite-Smith Tarot by K. Frank Jensen (ISBN:0975712217). I haven't read it but I do believe it should answer a lot of your questions and give you some direction. There's also some good information right here in this forum if you have the patience to sort through it all.

As far as the symbolism being based on Kabalah and Astrology I don't think Waite would agree exactly. He wrote in his introduction to The Pictorial Key that he didn't think Tarot was based on any system in particular. That's not to say that Kabalah and Astrology didn't play important roles in the Waite-Smith Tarot. I think they each contributed equally but in different ways. While Waite may not have believed the tarot was based on any one system, he seems to have become comfortable with the idea that it could be used as an avenue for expressing metaphysical thought.

I agree with Curtis about Waite's affiliation with the Golden Dawn (Smith's too for that matter). I believe the Golden Dawn played more of an influencing role on the Waite-Smith Tarot than it's generally given credit for.
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teomat  teomat is offline
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I guess the Golden Dawn's 'Book T' would be a useful resource...

http://www.tarot.org.il/Library/Mathers/Book-T.html
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KingofCups  KingofCups is offline
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This is my favorite intro to the Rider-Waite deck:

http://kcbventures.com/pfc/documents/Intro_to_Tarot.pdf

It is probably the best window into the system of thought behind the logic and symbolism of the deck.
Top   #5
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Kosmoran  Kosmoran is offline
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~Curtis - I agree with you about the importance of the GD - and even of Freemasonry - as an influence to the RWS symbolism. I agree w/ you too when you say the symbols Tarot portrays can be part of our own initiation process... They indeed seem to be somewhat universal, to that matter. That must be the reason why so many people like to compare the Tarot symbols to the jungian archetype theory.

~Abrac - Lord, you hit the point when you mentioned that book - Frank Jensen's The Story of the Waite-Smith Tarot. I placed my order for that book a couple weeks ago, it will probably be here before xmas. I've read some reviews, and it seems that the book focuses more on the history of the deck, and not so much on its symbolism or divinatory use - and I want to know more about both. Anyways, I should be aware that I won't be able to grasp the entire deck in one month, so I gotta be patient.
About the symbolism being based on Astrology and Qabalah, I agree with you. I try never forget that these doctrines are just frameworks imposed on the Tarot symbolism, especially after the "tarot awakening" in the late 18th century. However, as soon as correspondences were established, new decks were created, with these so-called "corrections". All this changed the way Tarot symbolism has been depicted. I'm not sure if there is such a thing as a "universal" or "archetypal" Tarot. The RWS deck is probably the most popular nowadays, but we all know it represents one of so many was to approach Tarot. While the main symbolism remains the same, the way it is portrayed depends on the approach of each occultist. And that does change the cards. Just compare decks like the RWS with the Thoth deck, for instance. I realized that I would have to choose between one of the very many systems to study - just for now, at least. So I chose the RWS.
Besides, astrological/qabalistic correspondences do really well in readings.

~teomatis and King of Cups - thanks for your suggestions. I found the Book T online - it's really good, particularly for its astrological correspondence system. It seems to work pretty well, and to make a lot of sense. About the PF Case book, I have heard about Case, but never really read any of his books. This one seems to be a good book about Tarot.

A question for you guys - do you all use the RWS in readings? How do you work with its symbolism while performing readings?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kosmoran
~Curtis - I agree with you about the importance of the GD - and even of Freemasonry - as an influence to the RWS symbolism. I agree w/ you too when you say the symbols Tarot portrays can be part of our own initiation process... They indeed seem to be somewhat universal, to that matter. That must be the reason why so many people like to compare the Tarot symbols to the jungian archetype theory.

~Abrac - Lord, you hit the point when you mentioned that book - Frank Jensen's The Story of the Waite-Smith Tarot. I placed my order for that book a couple weeks ago, it will probably be here before xmas. I've read some reviews, and it seems that the book focuses more on the history of the deck, and not so much on its symbolism or divinatory use - and I want to know more about both. Anyways, I should be aware that I won't be able to grasp the entire deck in one month, so I gotta be patient.
About the symbolism being based on Astrology and Qabalah, I agree with you. I try never forget that these doctrines are just frameworks imposed on the Tarot symbolism, especially after the "tarot awakening" in the late 18th century. However, as soon as correspondences were established, new decks were created, with these so-called "corrections". All this changed the way Tarot symbolism has been depicted. I'm not sure if there is such a thing as a "universal" or "archetypal" Tarot. The RWS deck is probably the most popular nowadays, but we all know it represents one of so many was to approach Tarot. While the main symbolism remains the same, the way it is portrayed depends on the approach of each occultist. And that does change the cards. Just compare decks like the RWS with the Thoth deck, for instance. I realized that I would have to choose between one of the very many systems to study - just for now, at least. So I chose the RWS.
Besides, astrological/qabalistic correspondences do really well in readings.

~teomatis and King of Cups - thanks for your suggestions. I found the Book T online - it's really good, particularly for its astrological correspondence system. It seems to work pretty well, and to make a lot of sense. About the PF Case book, I have heard about Case, but never really read any of his books. This one seems to be a good book about Tarot.

A question for you guys - do you all use the RWS in readings? How do you work with its symbolism while performing readings?

This is a great deck for reading and the more popular clones of this deck are 'good reading decks' as well. The symbolism will speak for itself if you learn some brief basic card meanings and use your intution freely.

Good Luck and enjoy,

Freddie
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