on September 7, 2009
As a student of the Hermetic Sciences for most of my life, I have read many works on Tarot. Over the last 20 years, books on the Tarot, which were once quite rare, are everywhere. Almost everyone has heard of the Tarot today. Unfortunately, the vast majority of books that have been published on the Tarot are very superficial overviews, with a primary and mundane focus on divination. As a result, most people today associate the Tarot with New Age hocus pocus. Among the authors who have written seriously about the deeper, spiritual significance of the Tarot, Paul Foster Case stands out as one of the world's greatest authorities. I have read much of Paul Cases material, both his published works as well as lessons from the organization he created to disseminate his teachings, the Builders of the Adytum (BOTA), and this is one of his best.
"Wisdom of Tarot" is a fairly comprehensive, but fundamental treatise on the major arcana of the Tarot. Like his "Tarot, A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages", which was published by BOTA in 1947, "Wisdom of the Tarot" identifies the various correspondences for each Key, (astrological, numerological, etc,) as well as the significance of the colors, images and symbols that are contained in each Key. His correspondences in this work are not exhaustive, but certainly thorough.
The great thing about this book is that, unlike "...A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages", which is presented in a very dry, business-like format, "Wisdom of Tarot" is written in a very personal style. The reader feels a personal student/teacher relationship with Dr. Case, when reading this book. In this regard, it is much more similar to the style Dr. Case used in his BOTA lessons, nurturing the student along the way, with explanations and exercises to facilitate the student's understanding and growth. I much prefer this style to the dry style of "Key to the Wisdom of the Ages."
Reading this volume was a fantastic experience. It was a thorough review of every thing I learned in the fundamental BOTA lessons on the Tarot, which were spoon fed to me over many months. Now, here is all that information in a single bound volume of about 200 pages. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret at all that in my experience with BOTA the material was disseminated so slowly. I first joined BOTA in the 1960s, and at that time, there were very few organizations and publications that provided occult teachings on a large scale to anyone who wanted to learn. BOTA was there for the sincere student, and each lesson came with exercises to be performed until the next lesson arrived. I'm very grateful to BOTA.
Today, we are lucky to be living in a different time where so much is being released on the Tarot - not just superficial materials on fortune telling, but serious works by greats such as Dr Case. I am very grateful to the publisher for making this work available to everyone. It is a wonderful "one on one" review of Tarot correspondences and interpretation in a very personal style.
on June 19, 2009
In the hermetic studies there are few adepts who have written so extensively and exclusively about the hidden dimensions and spiritual depths of Tarot. Those that have crossed the subject before have at most given a general description of the cards and their use in making divinations, talismans or meditations. They have taken a "superficial" look at the cards and their many meanings. In Wisdom of Tarot Paul Foster Case opens the Hidden Depths of Tarot to the reader and shows the True and Invisible foundation on which their symbolism and consciousness changing properties are derived. A famous adept from the past once said that if the initiate was on a stranded island with nothing but the tarot, and had knowledge on how to unlock the potential of the cards, that they could return to civilization with full proficiency on all subjects both mundane and spiritual. The Tarot can encompass a lifetime of study for it contains the knowledge of the full operations of the Life Force; Case has sowed the way in Tarot Wisdom to assist us in our personal quest for Truth hidden in the Tarot.
This book encompasses the entire significance held by each card. By studying the cards in their full depth using the lessons within Wisdom of Tarot as a guide, one is able to connect to that inner and virginal source by which the cards draw their power. Case takes the initiate through the Major Arcana driving to the spiritual core and lessons of each card. He shows the reader with full transparency the application each card has to life's mysteries and guides us to our own answers. I highly recommend this book for the seasoned occultists as well as the seeker on the path who truly wishes to master a priceless tool that the ignorant take as nothing but cards, but the wise take as a precious gift from God.
on December 28, 2010
The book is concise, but not dry. Key words are capitalized or underlined. He uses everyday words that most people use only at a superficial surface level. It is fun to look up words in a dictionary and see how he selects the perfect word each time.
It is the first book of a series so read it first.
There are NO Pictures of any Tarot Cards in the book, but he refers to them frequently. So make sure you have the tarot cards or pictures of them handy when you read this book.
I have read many books on Tarot and this one is very good. It it very understandable on many levels.
This is a real gem by Paul Foster Case. The only caution I would give is, it is somewhat intense for the beginner. I know others disagree and consider this an introductory work, and while that's true as far as content, the pacing is quite brisk; pretty much right off the bat the student is expected to begin memorizing the Pattern on the Trestleboard, learn numerology, and begin studying the Tarot keys. If I weree brand new to this material I would feel; slightly intimidated.
The Builders of the Adytum, founded by Case after leaving the Golden Dawn, offers systematic lessons which are clearer and more gradual, no doubt based on the present book but refined by experience over the years. The ultimate teachings are the same, of course; everything found here and in the subsequent volume is found in the BOTA lessons, but the pacing of the BOTA lessons is just perfect. They are the fruit of Case's many years of teaching, whereas this volume is an earlier work.
Like the BOTA curriculum, this book is in the form of correspondence lessons and probably formed the basis for BOTA's. I find it helpful as an additional resource to the BOTA work but not a substitute for it, unless you are already quite experienced at Tarot and just want to add Case's perspective and interpretations to your knowledge base.
I do appreciate Case's scholarly approach, and he does not dumb down the information for the reader or try to "modernize" it or couch his work in psychobabble as some writers on the subject do. His respect for the tradition, the material, and the reader shine through.
Be aware that this book is NOT illustrated. I would advise the reader to have either a set of BOTA cards (available from the BOTA website) or Waite-Rider cards (available on Amazon) to refer to and use as opposed to other decks, as the symbolism on these is closest to what Case describes. The BOTA cards are wonderful because they are designed for you to hand-color yourself, which is of great value in impressing the images in your mind and really personalizes them. "Highlights of Tarot," also available from BOTA, is a little booklet that gives coloring instructions for the cards.
I appreciate that the focus of this book is not on divination, but on the self-knowledge that comes from studying and meditating on the cards, which represent all aspects of the human personality and psyche.