- Series: Dover Occult
- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications; New edition edition (June 10, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0486442551
- ISBN-13: 978-0486442556
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 90 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
The Pictorial Key to the Tarot (Dover Occult) Paperback – June 10, 2005
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Books of 2018
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle Edition for FREE. Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-4 of 90 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
What you do get is a fairly detailed history of the cards and background on early interpreters of the cards. He provides enough "Divinatory Meanings" and a couple of spreads that you COULD use this book to learn the cards and (sort of) how to use them, but this book is really of more interest to the "serious" student of the Tarot who is looking for historic insights and history.
Another "difficulty" in this book is the language itself. It is a combination of Edwardian English, "scholarly" style, and occult terminology that can make it somewhat daunting to read. To this end, the books by Eden Gray preserve much of Waite's thoughts and interpretations but are written in a much more approachable literary style.
While Waite's own words are really where most of the more recent works on the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot have their roots, many others have surpassed this work in several ways.
First, I will say that I do believe that The Pictorial Key To The Tarot (Illustrated) should be a part of every Tarot student's library. He is the creator of one of the most popular Tarot decks available today (if not THE most popular when you count in the many reworkings of the original images, such as the Centennial, Radiant, Universal, etc). In fact, a search of the "most popular Tarot decks" returns list after list, almost all of which will put the RWS, if not first, then within the top three. The RWS or one of it's direct variants, is the deck I most often recommend to anyone who wishes to start learning the Tarot. This is because of the availability of the deck as well as tons of resources for learning the deck. It is because of this popularity that I do recommend Waite's "Pictorial Key" as a part of a person's Tarot library.
Now, having said that. I do NOT recommend this book as a first reference for someone beginning their Tarot studies. A. E. Waite's "Pictorial Key" was kind of directed at people who were already members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and thus, already had some mystical training and some understanding of the Tarot. As such, this book may address topics in a way that expects the reader to already have some prior grasp of certain aspects of the material. In fact, Tarot divination was one of the topics taught to initiates of the order. So, Waite had an expectation that a person reading "The Pictorial Key to the Tarot" would have that basic understanding.
I do believe, though, that "The Pictorial Key to the Tarot" should be a part of every student's study because it is the initial reference to the RWS Tarot. If you have begun to study Tarot and have, perhaps, worked through the "Little White Book" ("LWB") or other very basic book or pamphlet, and you want to know what some of the symbols used in the images might mean, then this is a good, basic reference. Waite does not give a full in-depth explanation for every single symbol used, but he does explain many which can give us a guide to interpreting many aspects of a card we might not see otherwise.
But there are gaps as well. A famous example of a "gap" is Waite's famous statement on putting "Strength" at VIII and "Justice" at XI; "For reasons which satisfy myself, this card has been interchanged with that of justice, which is usually numbered eight. As the variation carries nothing with it which will signify to the reader, there is no cause for explanation." In other places he just does not explain things which would be helpful to some. An example of this would be on Trump XX "Judgement", where we see tall, snow-capped peaks in the background - we know they are symbolic of something (almost everything in every image is), but he does not mention them.
Still, it is good to read Waite's own words on the meanings and symbolism of the cards he designed along with Pamela Coleman Smith. Seeing his own vision can help to give us deeper understanding of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. But I do find that it is best used as an addition to the other sources I'm using for my continuing studies. When I combine it with works by Rachel Pollack, Mary K. Greer and Eden Gray, it helps to answer questions I might have as well as adding further dimensions to my understanding of the Tarot.
Some further notes on the Kindle edition; I purchased the Kindle edition of "The Pictorial Key to the Tarot" for the convenience of always having a Tarot reference with me. The ease of searching for terms, as well as having the interactive table of contents available at a touch is invaluable when using it during my studies. Of course, with the Kindle app, it is also very easy to highlight a word, phrase or passage in the book as well as being able to add brief notes along with those highlights. This particular Kindle edition does have color images of the cards in the appropriate section, so that's another plus. Although those images are fairly small on my cell phone.
Overall, I really do love the Kindle edition of this book. I love the convenience of having it to hand any time that I need to look something up. The things that bring this down from 5-stars for me is the small card images, but it does at least have the images. Then too, just the work itself - Many of Waite's write-ups on the cards are a little hard to follow, plus you have to look at three separate sections of the book to see everything about each card. But, it is still an excellent resource and a good look at how Waite worked with each card.