Other Sellers on Amazon
Download the free Kindle app and start reading Kindle books instantly on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. Learn more
Read instantly on your browser with Kindle Cloud Reader.
Using your mobile phone camera - scan the code below and download the Kindle app.
Enter your mobile phone or email address
By pressing "Send link," you agree to Amazon's Conditions of Use.
You consent to receive an automated text message from or on behalf of Amazon about the Kindle App at your mobile number above. Consent is not a condition of any purchase. Message & data rates may apply.
Follow the Authors
Secrets of the Waite-Smith Tarot: The True Story of the World's Most Popular Tarot Paperback – Illustrated, April 8, 2015
Enhance your purchase
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
From the brand
From the Publisher
The True Story of the World's Most Popular Tarot
Drawing on Waite’s unpublished writings, historic photographs of Smith, and much more, Secrets of the Waite-Smith Tarot unlocks the symbols and correspondences of the cards. Explore the comparisons between the court cards and the stage characters that influenced Smith; learn about her intuitive understanding of the Tree of Life and how that wisdom is reflected in her minor arcana. From stunning artwork and sample spreads to influential colors and music, this groundbreaking book draws back the curtain to reveal the true legacies of Waite and Smith.
|Around the Tarot in 78 Days||Learning Lenormand||Practical Tarot Techniques|
|Also by Marcus Katz & Tali Goodwin:||Journey into the exciting world of tarot with this comprehensive 78-day course. Uniquely presented in a one-card-per-day format, this workbook provides a solid foundation in tarot—and offers new ways to enrich your life using the wisdom of the cards.||With simple instructions for beginning readers, Learning Lenormand teaches easily accessible methods for using this simple thirty-six card deck.||Providing numerous spreads, exercises, and interpretation strategies, Practical Tarot Techniques is your key to unlocking essential skills and methods of tarot.|
"Astonishing revelations of Pixie Smith's contributions to the Tarot! Masterful, and not to be missed."―Mary K. Greer, author of The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals
"This book is perfect for learning how the world's most popular tarot deck was created and its many secrets! Authors Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin will take you from tarot beginner to expert."―Cosmopolitan
About the Author
Marcus Katz (England) is a tarot teacher and co-director of the Tarosophy Tarot Association. He has studied and taught tarot for thirty-five years and has delivered more than ten thousand face-to-face readings. Marcus has coauthored several books, including Around the Tarot in 78 Days and Secrets of the Waite-Smith Tarot.
Tali Goodwin (England) is a tarot researcher and co-director of the Tarosophy Tarot Association. She is responsible for the Cards of Antiquity campaign which set the ground for the return of Lenormand, Kipper, and other antique decks in the mass market. Tali is the coauthor of several books, including Around the World in 78 Days and Secrets of the Waite-Smith Tarot.
- Publisher : Llewellyn Publications; Illustrated edition (April 8, 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 480 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0738741191
- ISBN-13 : 978-0738741192
- Item Weight : 2.02 pounds
- Dimensions : 7.4 x 1.3 x 8.9 inches
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Among tarot books, it's unique (as far as I know) in its effort to describe a cultural history around a single work of art. It's a fascinating glimpse into the world of illustrator Pamela Colman Smith. And - no surprise given that the authors are veteran tarot teachers and leaders in the worldwide tarot community - it's a pretty good introduction to reading tarot, with generous helpings of starter keywords and spreads. ("The Kabbalah of the Minors" section is an unexpected and particularly helpful foray into the esoteric side of things.)
Katz and Goodwin write accessibly about the deck's publication history and reception, and they provide a great many thought-provoking images both from the period and from their own site visits. The bios of Smith and Waite are as complete as they could make them, with fairly well fleshed-out timelines (I'd have liked a triple, parallel timeline showing the bio material side by side along with significant developments in history and the arts, but that's a personal thing.)
'Secrets' shouldn't be mistaken for a scholarly work exactly. It's a speculative, imaginative, popular history, written for the trade. So anyone who's used to scholarly biography will look in vain for the kind of paper trail they're accustomed to seeing. Personally, this doesn't trouble me as greatly as it might; tarot being an interpretive business, after all. The authors make intuitive leaps, but they're honest about it when they do. I enjoyed the thorough treatment of symbolism in the majors; and although much more could be said about the subject, symbols belong to everybody and there is no wrong or right sort of discussion one can have about them.
My biggest problem - and it is a substantial one - is with the section on the Waite-Smith minors. Whereas the commentary on the majors is original material, the treatment of each minor card begins with a reprint of Waite's text from 'The Pictorial Key to the Tarot' - and that reprint is unattributed (or if it is attributed, it's very easy to miss). You wouldn't know that you're reading Waite unless you were already familiar with the 'Pictorial Key'. This is exacerbated by the fact that the authors then add to the material without any indication that we've switched voices. Is the 'Pictorial Key' out of copyright? Yes. Does that make it OK not to be clear about the authorship? No. This mystifies me, as I know the authors to be meticulous and aboveboard in their dealings with publishers generally.
As for the content of the minors section, it's uneven. Some cards, like the 9 of Pentacles, get the royal treatment - period imagery, details of persons and places, iconographic interpretation; others, like the 3 of Swords, get only Waite's text - a few lines from the 'Pictorial Key'. I can respect a decision not to extrapolate from scant evidence, but it makes the book feel unfinished and less usable as a basic tarot text (for those who want to use it that way). So much more could have gone into each minor - the Golden Dawn correspondences, Katz's and Goodwin's own read of the symbolism...it feels as if the book simply ran out of time. Indeed, the material presented on the accompanying website (www.waitesmithtarot.com) is often richer than what you find on the corresponding page in the book. And anyone who stumbled on the web material could well be forgiven for thinking the entire book contained material of equal depth.
I admire the authors - not only for their tireless pursuit of the art but for their tireless efforts to create an atmosphere of tolerance and respect in the tarot community - and, I confess, I would have found it much easier to write a purely positive review of the book. Despite my very real objections (and the lack of an index! - a personal peeve) I recognize 'Secrets' to be one-of-a-kind, full of spirit, and substantial in its way. The book represents an enormous amount of work, done merely for the love of it; and for that alone it deserves a profound salute. Yet it could have been even better.
The world of tarot publishing is erratic through no fault of its own, mainstream publishing and the academy having given the divinatory arts a pretty wide berth. This is a pity, because findings like these really could greatly enrich the wider world's conversation about art and literary history (to say nothing of the Western mystical tradition) were they less marginalized. And tarot publications themselves would benefit from enjoying the most rigorous process of refinement the industry has to offer. For now, those of us who love tarot must simply get along as best we can, offering whatever we have to offer in whatever form we do - supporting each other with both the kind of encouragement that sounds like praise, and, once in a while, the other kind.
A couple of examples:
On page 40 they write “Pamela had both her own personal experience and knowledge of the theatre and also through Irving, Gillette, Terry, and…” Terry we know from earlier in the chapter, but Irving and Gillette? I knew who Gillette was only because of the time period in question and because Gillette Castle is not far from where I grew up. Not until page 50 do they introduce Gillette and explain who he was and his relationship to Smith. Irving is also finally introduced on the same page.
On page 126 they write “Whilst it is apparent that the famous tomb in the church served as a model for the 6 of Swords…” It’s pretty clear they meant the 4 of Swords, since on page 106 they write “The local church of St. Thomas the Martyr contains a famous tomb underneath a stained glass window, the model for the 4 of Swords.” Furthermore, there is a picture of the actual tomb on page 310 in the section about the 4 of Swords (the six is the boat being poled away from the viewer).
While the book is not an academic tome, the scholar in me cringes at Katz’s and Goodwin’s inconsistent methods of documenting their sources–something that is important even if it isn’t meant to be a formal, academic study of the deck and its creators. In some places they use end notes and in others parentheticals. In at least one place there’s no citation at all! On pages 93-95 are two of Crowley’s reviews of the deck. The first is clearly attributed, but the second is not, even though they state that these are from reviews (plural) not from a single review. In the sections that describe the cards there is no documentation as to which pieces come from Waite’s work, both published and unpublished. They do say on page 113 “Where quotes are given in this chapter without further reference, they are from their appropriate card descriptions in *The Pictorial Key to the Tarot*. Waite’s description is usually given as the first paragraph underneath the card image…” Usually does not equal always, and that makes it difficult for the average reader to sort through whose words are whose.
In terms of layout there are numerous places with unnecessary white space or where pictures and diagrams are not anywhere near the text that refers to them. In some places it’s more of a difficulty than others. In Chapter Seven, “The Kabbalah of the Minors” they introduce the Tree of Life on page 321 with two tables of correspondences on page 322. Yet the diagram of the tree is on page 339 in the middle of the section on the Tree of Cups.
Moving on to some of the annoyances.
The lack of an index makes it difficult to find anything, which significantly reduces the book’s usefulness as a reference.
In their Foreword Katz and Goodwin write, “We refer to Pamela Colman Smith throughout as Pamela, for the sake of abbreviation, however, we could not bring ourselves to refer to A.E. Waite as “‘Arthur,’ so adopted the surname usage of Waite.” Yet they do refer to him as Arthur a couple of times. Whatever they thought, it has an unintended consequence of appearing to treat Smith with less respect than Waite.
Although they have their reasons for putting a “How to Read the Tarot” chapter at the beginning of the book, it feels out of place when the book is supposed to be ABOUT the Waite-Smith deck. That they “think Pamela painted the cards based on a similar set of keywords and concepts…” (p. 11) is important to what they’re trying to accomplish, it seems to me that all the material about reading the cards should be in the chapters about reading in the latter portion of the book.
All sloppiness and annoyances aside, a lot of what Katz and Goodwin have to say, in spite of the book’s subtitle (“The True Story of the World’s Most Popular Tarot”) and especially where Smith’s work on the deck is concerned, is pure conjecture. That doesn’t necessarily detract from what they’re attempting to do. Their theoretical framework does provide a fresh lens for looking at the Waite-Smith deck. But it’s still theory.
Top reviews from other countries
My first peeve is that the authors found it necessary to say they would be referring to the esteemed Ms Colman Smith as "Pamela" throughout the book, because they just felt like it, but "just couldn't bring themselves" to call Arthur Waite "Arthur", as that would be what? disrespectful? but it's okay for "Pam"? really?? They got off on the wrong foot with me with that attitude.
Then when it came to Pamela Colman Smith's life, loves and heritage, they summarily dismissed others' research and educated speculation with what seemed to be barely disguised disgust. For instance, they whisked over and dismissed any discussion of her being thought to be (in her own time, by her contemporaries) a woman of colour and how that may have influenced her art or her place in the art world of the time. It was very off-putting, their attitude to it all.
I honestly lost interest in the book half way through, because I lost faith in the authors so early on.
When a book suffers in this way it inevitably calls into question an author's general attitude to accuracy and the reader may feel less than confident in the facts presented.
It is to be hoped that a second edition, if there is one, will see some corrections made.