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Tarot Revelations Paperback – June, 1987


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Vernal Equinox; 3rd edition (June 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0942380002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0942380002
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Back Cover

Introduction by Colin Wilson: "For two centuries now, the human spirit has been in revolt against the world of the Gradgrinds, and their obsession with "facts, hard facts." The Romanticism of the 19th century was one long shout of defiance. The Romantics exaggerated the problem out of weakness and a sense of vulnerability. And people like Dick Roberts and Joseph Campbell are restoring it to perspective, and bringing about a reconciliation that is based on insight and strength. If they succeed, the intellectual perspective of the 21st century could be more exciting than anything we can imagine."(Colin Wilson)

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Foreward by Joseph Campbell " . . . for what in the Marseilles deck had most excited my imagination had been its reflection of what I thought I recognized as a tradition expounded by Dante in his Convito. A single philosophical strain, it seemed to me, could be recognized as supporting, on one hand, the mighty edifice of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy and, on the other, the enigmatic imagery of a contemporary pack of cards.

Whereas the imagery of the Waite deck is of a strikingly different style and source. Richard Roberts, accordingly, has pointed, in his analysis of the symbolism of the Waite-Smith deck, not only to its background in esoteric astrological, gnostic, and alchemical traditions, but also, by anticipation, forward to the archetypology of Jung - who, in developing his insights, was significantly influenced (as he everywhere lets us know) by the same gnostic and alchemical texts from which the members of the Order of the Golden Dawn drew inspiration.

So that in our separate examinations of the Waite-Smith and Marseilles Tarot decks, Richard Roberts and I have found ourselves continually breaking into areas of much greater expanse and richness than either of us had anticipated when we started.

But in the end, always, we have come to revelations of a grandiose poetic vision of Universal Man that has been for centuries the inspiration both of saints and of sinners, sages and fools, in kaleidoscopic transformations. It is our hope and expectation that our readers, too, may be carried through the picture play of the magic of THE MAGICIAN's wand and guidance of THE PROPHETESS, to insights such as may lead, in the end, to the joy in wisdom of THE FOOL." (Joseph Campbell)

Symbolism Of The Marseilles Deck by Joseph Campbell

"The earliest set of Tarot cards of which actual examples survive was prepared in 1392 for King Charles VI of France by the painter Jacquemin Gringonneur. Seventeen of their number are preserved in Paris in the Bibliotheque Nationale, and the imagery resembles that of the Marseilles deck.

What the set of four suits represents are the four estates, or classes, of the medieval social order. The Swords signify the nobility; the Cups, suggesting the chalice of the Catholic Mass, are for the clergy; the Coins, for the merchants, or "third estate", the townsmen, the burghers; while the Staves, Clubs, or Batons, stand for the "churls," the peasantry and servants.

We notice, first, that the opening card, The Magician, is of a juggler manipulating miniatures of the signs of all four suits: Swords in the form of knives, small cups for the Cups or Chalices, dice and coins for the Coins, and for the Staves or Clubs a wand. He is in control, that is to say, of the symbols of all four social estates, able to play or conjure with them, and so, represents a position common to, or uniting, them all, while leading - as we shall very soon see - beyond their highest grades. Twenty numbered picture cards follow, which have been arranged here in five ascending rows of four cards each, to suggest the graded stages of an ideal life, lived virtuously according to the knightly codes of the Middle Ages. And then, beyond and outside of this numbered series, comes The Fool, whose card, like our Joker Wild, is unnumbered. I have placed him outside and at the end of the set, to signify his freedom to roam as a vagabond, beyond as well as through all of the numbered stations, trumping them all."

"And so we are brought to the condition. . . of The Fool, the wandering mendicant saint or sage, known to himself as that intelligible sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere. . .And we passed, then, through death-to-the-fear-of-death; whereupon he portal opened of the way to the knowledge of that mystery which, in theological terms, would be known as the Image of God within us. Plato recognized the sensible world as a reflex of the intelligible. What is known as above is thus here below, and what is not here is nowhere.

But have we not noticed, also, that The Magician is holding in his left hand the same wand that the World Dancer holds in hers, while in his right, instead of the conch, there is a coin - of philosophical gold? Little wonder if the clergy of those days were at pains to warn their flocks against the unauthorized lesson lurking in these cards!"

PREFACE by Richard Roberts

In the following pages I shall demonstrate: 1. That the Keys of the Tarot Major Arcana depict numerical archetypes, which stand as the pre-formative powers behind material manifestation.
2. That the pictures on each Key are geometrical reflections of the numerical archetype of each Key.
3. That the Magic Nine layout of Keys reveals the way in which the numerical archetypes interact with one another, and, hence, presents the most profound interpretation of the Major Arcana.
4. That Tarot is an alchemical revelation, revealing the descent and ascent of Hermes/Mercurius/Thoth.
5. That the path of this descent/ascent follows the traditional Ladder of Souls, or Stairway of Planets, disguised as seven triads of Keys, Zero (The Fool) transcending the sequence of 21 Keys.
6. That since the Stairway of Planets was the path of the descending and ascending soul of man, the Tarot Major Arcana constitute a western Book of the Dead.
7. That if the spiral of serpent or caduceus is followed through the Major Arcana, alternatively regenerating and returning to unity, like the expanding and contracting rhythm of the cosmos, further revelations appear in which we may read the monomyth of the world's religions, the Monad's descent from Above to Below, and the consequent ascent to Above.
8. That this descent from Above represents spirit's incarnation into the elemental world, from the mineral kingdom to man, demonstrated by the correspondence of the four suits to the four Grail hallows and the four fixed signs of the zodiac.
9. That in addition to the alchemical conjunction or sacred marriage of King Sun and Queen Moon, the Major Arcana reveal an astrological correspondence to the conjunction of Sun (Leo) and Moon (Cancer) at the summer solstice of 2000 B.C.

Chapter IX: THE CADUCEUS AND ASTROLOGY: Yet another symbol of the Great Myth is the sacred wand of Hermes, encircled with the evoluting serpents, linking rod and staff to World Tree, Stairway of Planets, and the numinous symbols of the East and Near East, Mountain, Tree, and djed pillar. Originating in the 4th millenium B.C. the concept of World Navel/Tree is the sense of a Center, or Axis, which extends from the macrocosm, where the sun's serpentine course is from pole to pole during the year, to the microcosm, the cells of the human body which bear the spiral coils of DNA, carriers of genetic evolution. The true Fool may read in the caduceus symbol, therefore, his own initiation into the mystery dimension of cell and psyche, where Above and Below merge infinitely.

Finally, through our spiral reading of the Major Arcana, we followed the path of the cosmic uroboros, expanding and contracting, regenerating and returning to unity, also the microcosmic double helix of DNA, preserver of our ancient psychic history, at once vehicle and pathway for archetype, god and devil. The Major Arcana, as a contemporary Book of the Dead, reflect Western man's aversion to death and he material power which the Devil exerts over him through the credo that his material form is the limit of his autonomy. Thus the body is not easily forsaken, nor easily enjoyed during the lifetime, since the tenacious clinging to materiality is graceless because it is motivated by fear.

The Hermetic alternative view enables one to play the life as a kind of drama of one's own creation, a dream, perhaps, that the dreamer dreams. Mechanistic chance, cause and effect, are not operative in this view of the universe; hence, joy, vitality and dynamic interplay between man and cosmos manifest in daily experience. When tragedy manifests, such a man displays his heroic potential, for he realizes the tragedy - like the joy - is his personal creation, a test for his further expansion of consciousness. Whether joyous or tragic, man and cosmos hold a dialogue in which the One grows in one, and one evolves in the One. This, then, is the ultimate sense of a Book of the Dead: return to the splendid, shining consciousness of the golden One, who during the lifetimes was being born within, or rather, maturing, since the One had created the egg/child/man. To die, then, is to exchange form for non-form, energy transformed or stepped up to a higher level. But mind, spirit, soul - called the Ineffable what you will - is that aspect of eternity which Divinity shares with us, and we with That.

And at the end of time, when the serpent uroboros grasps his tail in his mouth, then the infinite dimension of the cosmos shall be swallowed as if by a Black Hole, matter shall collapse, galaxy on galaxy, until All That Is is contained once more within the still point of the Monad.


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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
I would HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone interested in the interperetations of the Tarot cards and how they relate to the initiatory Magickal systems of organizations like the Golden Dawn and even Freemasonry. Joseph Campbell (who needs no introduction!) writes on the French Mersailes deck, and Richard Roberts does a wonderful job with the Waite-Rider deck, including an explanation of his "Magic Nine" arrangement that is probably the most revealing layout of the cards. The authors focus less on the divinitory aspects of Tarot and more on the individuals journey through the mysteries of the Cosmos as outlined by the symbolism of the Tarot. Get this book! You will be glad you did.
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65 of 68 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
Joseph Campbell's entire contribution to this piece consists of a few pages at the beginning--basically, Campbell seems to have written an intro to Roberts' book, and Roberts decided to gravytrain on the Power of Myth phenomenon by adding Campbell's name to the author list.
The book that Roberts wrote is a moderately interesting examination of the Waite-Rider arcana through a Jungian lens, but I was so ticked off that I'd been sold a book that perported to be by Campbell and yet had finished the portion written by Campbell in about fifteen minutes that I didn't get much out of it. My problem, I know, but the bait-and-switch thing REALLY bothered me!
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90 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on March 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
For years, I ignored the Tarot because I thought it was a frivolous card game and that material written about it was cultish at worst and childish at best. It did not help that Tarot cards on the market were manufactured by American Games. I became interested in the Tarot cards because Bill Moyers interviewed Joseph Campbell, and as Moyers had never struck me as a kook, I thought perhaps Campbell was worth getting to know. Getting to know Campbell led me to TAROT REVELATIONS.
Much of my formal education concerns the social sciences including ethnography and the study of religion, myths, belief systems, etc. As a professional social scientist in a job that deals with ethnic issues, I have struggled to operationally define and measure ethnicity, and view cultural elements including myths as the basis of belief systems around which various ethnic groups organize their societies. I have arrived at the conclusion that most of the smaller systems are doomed, but fortunately, anthropologists and others have recorded enough material that we may still study the myths of our ancestors. Joseph Campbell points the way.
Mark Twain is purported to have said, don't let school get in the way of your education. Like Twain, Campbell--a highly educated man and a college professor--was able to break out of the mold of formal education and develop a fresh viewpoint concerning the world and what makes it tick. In other words, he was able to get past the mental censorship of academe.
In TAROT REVELATIONS, Campbell takes a leaf from Sir James Frazier's book 'The Golden Bough' and suggests a core set of concepts underlie all belief systems. He suggests Jungian psychologists have their own terms for these mythical elements which Jung recognized ages ago.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Neal J. Pollock VINE VOICE on April 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
Since no Table of Contents is provided, I provide it herein:
p. 3: Part I-Exoteric Tarot: Symbolism of the Marseille Deck by J. Campbell
p. 27: Colin Wilson's Intro to Part II
p. 39: Part II Richard Roberts' Esoteric Tarot: Symbolism of the Waite/Rider Deck:
p. 41: Preface
p. 43: I. The Great Myth
p. 49: II. The Infinite Ladder
p. 59: III. The Magic Nine Arrangement
p. 101: IV. Alchemical Descent
p. 133: V. The Alchemical Ascent
p. 167: VI. Patterns in the Magic Nine
p. 193: VII. The Hermetic World
p. 229: VIII. The Book of the Dead
p. 259: IX. The Caduceus and Astrology
p. 286: List of Footnotes [actually endnotes w/o explanatory material & mostly Jung, Cirlot, & Case as well as Waite, Campbell, Frazer, & a few others)
p. 295: Color Plates--too small but drawings are interspersed in text to some degree

Thus Campbell & Wilson's portions are quite small; it's really a Roberts book (Wilson only introduces Roberts' work--was Campbell's an afterthought?). Despite brevity, Campbell makes acute observations e.g. pp. 23-4: "The 4 signs of Ezekiel's vision...in the 3rd & 4th millenniums BC, however, were read as zodiacal references to the 4 equinoxes & solstices: Taurus, the Bull, the Spring equinox; Leo the Lion, summer solstice; the Eagle (now Scorpio), the autumnal equinox; & Aquarius, the water-carrier, the winter solstice" & p. 25: "turn card 12, The Hanged Man, upside down & the legs will be seen to be in the same position as those of the dancing figure of The World. The implied idea is of each of us as an inverted reflection, clothed in the garments of temporality, of the noumenal or "Real."

Roberts provides p.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr. James Gardner VINE VOICE on January 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is mostly a book by Roberts about the Waite deck, but there is also a little gem written by Joseph Campbell using the Marsailles deck to illustrate some of his concepts and Jungian perspectives. Campbell's analysis will appeal to most everyone, while Roberts discourse is clearly for advanced students. The problem with both sections is that the illustrations are few and far in between, and often so small that the details being discussed cannot be viewed. This is a major flaw in a book like this.
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More About the Author

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) was an American author and teacher best known for his work in the field of comparative mythology. He was born in New York City in 1904, and from early childhood he became interested in mythology. He loved to read books about American Indian cultures, and frequently visited the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where he was fascinated by the museum's collection of totem poles. Campbell was educated at Columbia University, where he specialized in medieval literature, and continued his studies at universities in Paris and Munich. While abroad he was influenced by the art of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, the novels of James Joyce and Thomas Mann, and the psychological studies of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. These encounters led to Campbell's theory that all myths and epics are linked in the human psyche, and that they are cultural manifestations of the universal need to explain social, cosmological, and spiritual realities.

After a period in California, where he encountered John Steinbeck and the biologist Ed Ricketts, he taught at the Canterbury School, and then, in 1934, joined the literature department at Sarah Lawrence College, a post he retained for many years. During the 40s and '50s, he helped Swami Nikhilananda to translate the Upanishads and The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. He also edited works by the German scholar Heinrich Zimmer on Indian art, myths, and philosophy. In 1944, with Henry Morton Robinson, Campbell published A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake. His first original work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, came out in 1949 and was immediately well received; in time, it became acclaimed as a classic. In this study of the "myth of the hero," Campbell asserted that there is a single pattern of heroic journey and that all cultures share this essential pattern in their various heroic myths. In his book he also outlined the basic conditions, stages, and results of the archetypal hero's journey.

Throughout his life, he traveled extensively and wrote prolifically, authoring many books, including the four-volume series The Masks of God, Myths to Live By, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space and The Historical Atlas of World Mythology. Joseph Campbell died in 1987. In 1988, a series of television interviews with Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, introduced Campbell's views to millions of people.

For more on Joseph Campbell and his work, visit the web site of Joseph Campbell Foundation at JCF.org.

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