- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Thorsons (January 25, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1855383012
- ISBN-13: 978-1855383012
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.7 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,431,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Alchemical Tarot (boxed set of book & deck of Tarot Cards) Paperback – January 25, 1995
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A wonderful deck and book set that I highly recommend. Robert Place's cards not only show the alchemical process but faithfully adapt the style and iconography of Renaissance alchemical illustration to the process of individuation as described by Carl Jung. Much of the book is an excellent overview of the history, principles, and practice of alchemy, and should not be skipped. Bob and Rosemary describe the personal experiences and synchronicities that led to the publishing of their magnum opus; nothing about it seemed accidental, and we can share in their sense of awe and wonder at the processes involved. Both have delved deeply into Tarot's real history, reaching back before the Egyptian and Kabbalistic fantasies of the 18th and 19th centuries to the earlier Classical, neo-Platonic, and Pythagorean-inspired icons and emblems that characterize the 15th to 17th centuries. The art consists of delicate line drawings resembling etchings with great clarity of detail, exquisitely colored. -- Mary K. Greer, Tools and Rights of Transformation Newsletter, 1997
Mr. Place has taken the transformative power of alchemical images and used them to draw a tarot deck of charming simplicity. His knowledge of both symbol systems is vast -- Aquarius, Atlanta, July 1996
From the Publisher
Robert Place's Tarot deck, beautifully illustrated in the style of original Renaissance alchemical art, takes you deep into the alchemical mysteries - and unlocks their secrets. The companion book provides a historical overview of both alchemy and the Tarot as well as new insights into the origins of the images on the cards. It demonstrates some traditional spreads, and offers new ones based on the author's personal practice, as well as unique meditation exercises.
An internationally known sculptor and artist, Robert Place has exhibited his paintings in major New York galleries. His work, combined with that of Rosemary Guiley, author of The Mystical Tarot and several books on alchemy and the Western Mystery Traditions, creates a unique Tarot pack that will appeal both to beginners and to more experience Tarot readers.
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The cards are *very* beutiful - pretier than most new decks. IMHO, they are pretier than the Marseilles & Rider-Waite-Smith decks, as pretty as the Osho Transformational, and would have been as pretty as the Thoth had it the fiery energies that the Thoth has.
As another reviewer wrote, the cards are similar to the Rider deck (e.g. 5 & 8 of pentacles, 3 & knight of cups, and 3 & 6 of swords), but this is an original work and no Rider clone - Justice is numbered 8 & Strength is numbered 11, the Fool is not going off a cliff accompanied by a dog, the Magician is not standing in front of a table with the symbols of the four suits, etc.
The book is a masterpiece. A clear and excellent introduction to alchemy is given, along with a section that explains the connection between alchemy & tarot with the assistance of Jungian psychology. Following are chapters explaining the Major & Minor arcana, explaining each card's design and meaning, and a chapter about spreading the cards.
Having read several other books that accompany tarot decks, this is one of the best - it's on par with Brian Williams' books on his Renessaince & Minchiate decks, and a much easier reading than Waite's Pictorial Key to the Tarot and Crowley's Book of Thoth.
Though I had to invest some time studying this deck (reading the book slowly and carefuly - it was worth every minute, and doing several readings for myself), this deck quickly became one of my favourites. It's depth makes it a deck that grows with the reader.
As far as tarot decks & books go, this is one of my best buys, and I warmly recommend it to anyone who is interested in tarot.
The artist and author of this deck were guided, as if by a divine hand, to produce the deck, and it was a labor of love for both individuals. Robert Place is a sculptor, and this is evident in the very classical feel to the artwork. There is a fair amount of nudity, but it is in no way offensive, and was obviously inspired by the art of renaissance sculpture. I have heard the artwork called "iconic," as figures on coins are, and this accurately describes how I feel about it as well. It is a deck I will be able to grow with over time, without feeling that I have outgrown it. The cards do not have their own box, so one will have to provide some sort of protective box or bag for them, but for many of us this is a routine matter of respect and affection anyway. The cards have very high production values; the book is paperback.
Basically, the study of alchemy is a spiritual discipline of turning our own dross into gold. In this light, the theme is applicable for any student of the tarot, regardless of previous exposure to the principles of alchemy. They are described in the very good book, but the deck can be used without extensive study. Some of the images are extremely powerful and even startling: the 5 of Wands, for instance, is a hand with the five fingers in flames. While this can seem a disturbing image, it also speaks of utilizing that Wand-Fire energy in a very direct, physical way. Similarly, The Star shows a mermaid with milk spouting from one breast and blood from the other, representing the mingling of all bodily fluids with the universal waters. It is a strong image, but not sensational. Most of the cards, however, are not shocking in any way except in their beauty: the High Priestess, The Moon, The World -- many others! -- are among the most gorgeous I have ever seen.
I think a dedicated beginner could manage to read with this deck with a little committed study, and for the more advanced student it is a treasure chest begging to be opened.