The TAROT

Trident Booksellers resides in an old, weathered brick building on Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay. I had finally settled into my writing, sitting at one of the community tables, when I heard a voice exclaim, “That’s a good book!”. I looked up from my writing and saw that he was referring to my copy of The Kybalion, an obscure little book that outlines the basic principles of Hermetic Philosophy.

I had just settled into my writing flow when this happened and questioned whether or not I should strike up a conversation with a complete stranger — fortunately for my sake I did. Part of me was curious who this person was, especially since The Kybalion is fairly far removed from what most people consider "mainstream" literature.

A conversation quickly ensued, both of us talking about titles of books that we had found particularly interesting in our studies. My new acquaintance placed particular emphasis on the works of Paul Foster Case, a renowned tarot scholar and a former member of the Golden Dawn. I had always been hesitant to pick up anything that dealt with the tarot.

At that point in time, I still viewed the tarot as a curious plaything that should remain relegated to the realms of fortune-telling and divination. Curiosity got the better of me, however, and a few days later I made my way across the river to Cambridge — the location of Seven Stars Booksellers.

Fortunately, both books that this gentleman had recommended were in stock. I ended up purchasing a copy of Paul Foster Case's The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages. This book (followed by several others) challenged everything that I thought I knew about the tarot and set me off on a journey of discovery that I am still participating in to this day.

As it turns out, the tarot represents a precursor or close relative to modern playing cards. Instead of four suits, however, the tarot has five — with this additional suit being comprised mainly of symbolic pictures. As I continued to research the unusual history of this little deck, I came across a quote written another person tied to the Golden Dawn:

“The Tarot is a system of enlightenment…
It is not a game; it is not primarily for fortune-telling.”

This quote further piqued my curiosity, especially considering the amount of time and energy I had already devoted to Western schools of thought that focused upon personal development, mysticism, and spiritual enlightenment. Little did I know how much more there was still waiting to be discovered…

Curious? Share your questions, comments, and insights below!