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

The Value of Imagination

To the Hermeticists, imagination is real. It is an aspect of consciousness and the door for entering the reality of the soul. Without imagination the soul is not perceptible. Dreams and visions, as in shamanism, are valued and open us to communication with the gods. Skill at focusing imagination is gained through the practice of meditation, and this skill can help consciousness to effect changes in physical reality. Magic is actually the craft of working with the imagination.

Robert M. Place

Hellenistic Gifts

When the Greeks came to dominate Egypt and the Middle East it created a cosmopolitan environment that synthesized Egyptian and Middle East religion with Greek rationalism, leading to groups of mystical philosophies known as Neoplatonist. It also led to a series of mystical texts known as the Hermetic texts, containing works on alchemy, magic, astrology, and philosophy – collectively called the Hermetica. Hermetic philosophy became a major influence on all Western magical practices and mystical traditions. Neoplatonism, alchemy, Kabbalah, Sufism, mystical Christianity and occultism, including the Tarot are all affected by this influence.


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.