Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Sun by Alfred Latour for Edgar Allan Poe's Eureka (1923).

Monday, December 21, 2009

A 1905 portrait of the Empress Dowager Cixi. The embodiment of the Empress card.

This lovely image, taken from a late 15th century Book of Hours from the Netherlands, recalls the Strength card.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

These engineering inspired playing cards, designed by American civil engineer William Barclay Parsons, caught my eye. Above is a two of diamonds.

This is a five of clubs.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

This is an early 19th century theater poster showing actor Edward A. Gomersal portraying the Blood Red Knight. It makes a wonderful Knight of Swords.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"People always ask me if I 'believe' in Tarot cards. It's pretty easy to do: I own five decks of them. What they mean, of course, is 'Do you believe that Tarot cards can tell the future?'"
—Rosemary Edghill, Bell, Book, and Murder

Monday, November 30, 2009

Via Brokelyn, I came across an article about a bar that recently opened in Brooklyn called The Minor Arcana. Owner Jesse Levitt was inspired to give it that name after receiving a tarot card reading on Coney Island.

I wish Mr. Levitt much success in his new venture - it sounds like exactly the sort of place where I would enjoy a drink with friends.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Fairy of Paradise with a star in her hair, from Hans Christian Andersen's "The Garden of Paradise."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Billy Corrigan describes the Smashing Pumpkins’ new tarot-themed album, entitled Teargarden by Kaleidyscope:

"The story of the album is based on 'The Fool's Journey,' as signified in the progress of the Tarot. It is my intention to approach this by breaking down the journey of our life here into four phases as made by these different characters; the Child, the Fool, the Skeptic, and the Mystic."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Stylized "Tarot" cards feature in Tiana's Showboat Jubilee at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. One of the cards appears to be a Two of Hamsas. (Photo detail from

Friday, November 20, 2009

"I learned, among other things, that some of the Tarot cards are based on rituals evolved in Marseilles and that, even now, the very graffiti in the town contain cabalistic signs and symbols." —Books of the Times, Vol. 1, 1978

(Click photo for source.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Once I sat high up
on Fortune's throne,
garlanded with all the blooms of prosperity;
indeed I was in the bloom
of blessed happiness,
but now I have tumbled from my eminence,
robbed of my glory.
* * *
Fortune's wheel turns:
I am cut down and fall;
another is raised to the heights;
the king sits at the peak,
too much exalted -
let him beware of ruin,
for under the axle we read
the name of Queen Hecuba.
* * *
Fortuna Plango Vulnera
(Seria LXXVII - fol. 48b)
Carmina Burana

Monday, November 9, 2009

This is part of an occasional series of Tarot images I encounter in the world, inspired by Craig Conley's enchanting Trump L'Oeil Tarot of Portmeirion. The photos were taken during a recent trip to the Stamford Museum and Nature Center. I spotted this cauldron on the grounds of the Heckscher Farm, near the maple sugaring and apple cider house. A beautiful Ace of Cups.

This tower is on the grounds of the Bendel Mansion.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Seen on Thames Street in Newport, Rhode Island.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Alexander Voet II's "The Elderly Fool and his Cat," c. 1660. Via BibliOdyssey.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A work by 16th century Dutch artist Hendrick Goltzius. It makes a glorious Judgment card.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

This painting by Hendrick van der Borcht has a lush, opulent quality that immediately made me think of the Ten of Cups. The coins, as well as the round shape of the work, further reinforce ideas of money and wealth associated with that card.

On a related note, I ran across this book by Rohit Arya on using the Tarot to manifest wealth. I haven't read it, but it seems quite interesting.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

In this antiquated ad for a firecracker, a Tarot-like stricken tower erupts money. Is this the home of the King of Coins?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"I guess we all take turns on the water wheel."
—Blondie, "Strike Me Pink"

Wheel of Fortune (second version)
from Urban Tarot by Daisy Rose Anderson
(via Reclaiming Quarterly)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

This 15th century engraving of St Sebastian by E. S. Meister reminds me of the Hanged Man. Like his Tarot counterpart, Sebastian is tied to a tree, helpless. In this respect, he also recalls Odin's ordeal on the Tree of Life. The martyrdom of the Saint contains the elements of surrender and sacrifice that are present in the Tarot card.

The similarities between the themes present in the Major Arcana and the saints are explored more fully in Robert M. Place's Tarot of the Saints.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"She looked like a Tarot card, wonderful and old and mystical."
—Nancy Holder, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chosen

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Medieval Garden Enclosed recently had an interesting post on the history of the pomegranate. Given its presence in myth and religion, it isn't surprising to find it in the Tarot as well. Perhaps the best known representation of the pomegranate is the RWS Tarot; notably the Empress and High Priestess cards.

The association of the pomegranate with the Empress is a natural one, since the fruit has long been a symbol of fertility. The pomegranate's appearance in the High Priestess card is connected to the two pillars, Jachin and Boaz, that stood in front of the Temple in Jerusalem and which also appear in the card. The tops of the actual pillars were decorated with pomegranates, symbols of righteousness (the fruit is said to contain 613 seeds, the number of the mitzvot, or commandments, the Jewish people must follow). Pomegranates also decorated the hem of the robe worn by the High Priest of the Temple.

This "immortal fruit" is given a place of prominence in artist An-Magrith Erlandsen's beautiful and mysterious Tarot of the Pomegranate.

"The accuracy of polygraph tests depends heavily on the examiner, who must be skilled in the art of interpretation — like a tarot card reader."
—Timothy Dumas, Greentown

Friday, September 11, 2009

The reflection of "a Renaissance statue of Marie de Medicis, dressed by a modern artist in a black cape sewn with tarot cards as a symbol of fate." —Djuliet

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The 4th century monk Paul of Thebes is regarded as the first Christian hermit. He is, in a sense, the prototype for the image of the Hermit found in the Tarot. It isn't surprising therefore that this painting of Paul of Thebes by a 16th century German artist looks like it could be a Tarot card. The classic elements of the Hermit are all present: the solitary figure setting out at dark, prayer beads in hand (symbolizing his reliance on his faith), and a lantern at his side (enduring symbol of literal and figurative illumination).

Historical figures such as Paul of Thebes are a reminder that certain ideas and images such as the hermit were well established in the collective imagination of Western Europeans by the time the Tarot cards were created.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"A conceptual map is a visual representation of a series of ideas, rather like a Tarot card spread."
—Robert G. Benson, I Ching for a New Age: The Book of Answers for Changing Times

Sunday, September 6, 2009

This illustration of Hildegard von Bingen would make an interesting variation of the Priestess card.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Love," Val said. "It's a big word. And Death too. They can mean lots of things. Sometimes Death isn't death."
—John Crowley, Daemonomania

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Magician and Death, united in a single card. (Image source.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Die Kartenlegerin by Michail Alexandrowitsch Wrubel.

This is a medieval image showing a woman lifting her lover up to her in a basket. The wheel she is spinning brings to mind the Wheel of Fortune. The lady herself is in a tower, which naturally reminds me of The Tower card.

Here is a 15th century work by Daniel Hopfer of Lovers. They stand under a ripe fruit tree, while the birds in the sky and the couple in the backgound further reinforce the idea of union.

This is a Persian 17th century work attributed to the Shah Abbasi.

Finally, a lovely 15th century German painting of a couple.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

"Mrs Courtney threw the Tarot cards on the fire. It was a bitter gesture, as if she were burning heretics. The cards seemed to writhe . . . the hanged man and all those frightful figures." —Anne Redmon, Emily Stone, 1974

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dolce & Gabbana have released several fragrances inspired by Major Arcana cards: Le Bateleur, L'Imperatrice, L'Amoreux, La Lune, and La Roue de la Fortune. In this brief interview they discuss the inspiration for their latest creations.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Like a tarot card emptied of its neighbours, like words we cannot use again" —Roger Connah, "Temperance," Welcome to the Hotel Architecture, 1998

(Image via queercatkitten)

Monday, July 13, 2009

"The Queen! The book seemed to be empty of women except for her, as though she drew all the feminine to herself, one woman in the realm but what a woman." -- John Crowley, Ægypt

[Coronation portrait of Elizabeth I. Artist unknown.]

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Robert M. Place's Vampire Tarot, based on Bram Stoker's Dracula, is now available. Tom Blunt of Arcanalogue has done a nice interview about the deck. The deck can be ordered at Robert's website.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

This is a 16th century woodcut by Silvestre de Paris of the nobleman Marten van Rossem. I think he makes a dashing Knight of Wands.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Queen of Swords.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Some additions to the Heraldic Tarot. Above, The Tower.

The Page of Wands.

The Pope.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

We couldn't find a heraldic Tarot online, so we challenged ourselves to put one together. Here's a link to a free three-card reading (Majors-only).