A Dictionary of Symbols

Man, it has been said, its a symbolizing animal; it is evident that at no stage in the development of civilization has man been able to dispense with symbols. Science and technology have not freed man from his dependence on symbols: indeed, it may be argued that they have increased his need for them. In any case, symbology itself is now a science, and this volume is a necessary instrument in its study.

Herbert Read

Philosophy of Occultism in Pictures & Numbers

No study of Occult Philosophy is possible without an acquaintance with symbolism…. Symbolism cannot be learned as one learns to build bridges or speak a foreign language, and for the interpretation of symbols a special cast of mind is necessary; in addition to knowledge, special faculties, the power of creative thought and developed imagination are required.

In order to become acquainted with the tarot, it is necessary to understand the basic ideas of Kabala and of Alchemy. For it represents, as, indeed, many commentators of the tarot think, a summary of the Hermetic Sciences – the Kabala, Alchemy, Astrology, Magic, with their different divisions. All these sciences really represent one system of a very broad and deep psychological investigation of the nature of man in his relation to the world of noumena (God, the world of spirit) and to the world of phenomena (the visible physical world).

The letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the various allegories of the Kabala, the names of metals, acids and salts in Alchemy; of planets and constellations in Astrology; of good and evil spirits in Magic – all these were only means to veil truth from the uninitiated

P.D. Oupensky

Essence of Tarot

The tarot embodies symbolical presentations of universal ideas, behind which lie all the implicits of the human mind, and it is in this sense that they contain secret Doctrine, which is the realization by the few of the truths embedded in the consciousness of all.

The true Tarot is symbolism; it speaks no other language and offers no other signs. Given the inword meaning of its emblems, they do become a kind of alphabet, which is capable of indefinite combinations and makes true sense in all.

A. E. Waite

Renaissance Homage

Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites believed that art was a spiritual or magical endeavor and toward this end they formed a mystical brotherhood of English artist dedicated to recapturing the sincerity of the art of the early Renaissance – the same period that gave us the Tarot.

Burne-Jones based his tall female “stunners” and melancholy heroes on the paintings of Botticelli and Michelangelo, two artists, whose works are considered primary examples of Renaissance neoplatonism. His work expresses the Renaissance idea that physical beauty and spiritual beauty are linked and in one continuum that can lead to the mystical experience of beauty itself, as a timeless, underlying reality – Plato’s “true food of the soul.”

In the Renaissance, artists, like Botticelli, symbolized this spiritual essence as an ideal female nude and this ideal allowed early Tarot artist to place a nude on the World card as a symbol of the primary beauty and allowed alchemists to use the nude as a symbol for the Anima Mundi.

Robert M. Place

THE TAROT, MAGIC, ALCHEMY, HERMETICISM, & NEOPLATONISM

An almost 700 page book with roughly 300 illustrations, a scholarly work. I got this book and his 5th edition tarot deck to help reinforce alchemical concepts and symbolism. I’m currently going through and meditating on my Knapp-Hall deck so it’ll be a while before I get to a study of Robert’s alchemy deck. The information in this book I’m sure will enhance my intuition and deepen understanding in reading the Knapp-Hall deck.