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"I received this deck in the mail on September 14, the day George W. Bush declared a national day of prayer and remembrance. I was shaken up that day, not only by the recent tragedy, the concern for family and friends in NYC, or the very real possibility of war that faced us all. I was shaken up by an emotional response I had to watching the days' services at the National Cathedral. I was moved by the words of Jew, Christian, Muslim. But something else took place, ... an instinctual urge to return to the religion of my early childhood.
I have never rejected Christianity. In fact, for quite a few years I was deep in study of ancient Christianity, Judaism, and Gnosticism; and Biblical language. Over time I simply moved away from it, as I delved into other religions. What I came to fully realize through the study of so many different traditions, is that they are all reaching for the same light, the same spirit. With this in mind, I can look at Christianity fairly and openly. Although I already understood that the repression and narrow-mindedness of some people, as well as the history of persecution, are not just reflections of the faith, I saw this again more distinctly through this receptive study of other religions. I can quietly roam the depths of Christianity, and find true mysticism and spirit there, again.
Tarot of the Saints is a perfect starting (or re-starting) point for this. Robert M. Place, with intelligence and skill, presents to us the great people of Christianity, those humans who gave their lives to a quest for God, and discovered the soul of God him/her/it-self. These are the men and women who endured torture, saw visions, performed miracles. They are the ones whose experiences so strongly embodied a Christian ideal, they were canonized as saints.
Who are the saints? Even though I grew up in a large Italian, Catholic family, I never had much familiarity with more than just a few of the saints. But it is easy for me to recognize their significance, their potency as symbols and guides. There are thousands of recognized saints, and they fit extremely well into the tarot. Their places within this set seem natural, almost as if the tarot were designed around their stories.
This set is a bit more academic than many others. Its research is obvious, both in the writing and in the extensive bibliography. The book opens with a discussion on the origin of the tarot that is comprehensive and interesting. It continues into a discussion of Christian mystics, Gnostics, and saints, that is equally comprehensive and interesting. The history nut in me loved these two chapters, and appreciated the more scholarly (though still very accessible) approach. The book then delves into the mystical nature of tarot, validating its place in history and in modern times.
The first reading I did with this deck was impressive. It was a few days after I received the set. The feelings I had had on the 14th about reconsidering Christianity had faded, or mellowed, a bit. It wasn't on my mind. But the reading drew them up again, placed them beneath a spotlight. Reading through the interpretations, I realized just how on target and effective this set can be for self-discovery, and for divination. The cards, and their written meanings, hit my personal experiences right on the head.
Each Major Arcana card receives three pages or so of explanation, historical fact (or legend), symbolism, and interpretation. These are, again, comprehensive and interesting. The court cards, which are Squire, Knight, Queen, and King, are adequately explained in one or two pages. The number cards, which usually have scenes, only receive a small paragraph of interpretation. This, I think, is one of the only weak points of the set. Beginners may have a hard time learning a full range of possible interpretations because of this limitation.
The cards are very finely illustrated. Normally I would not like this kind of artwork. It is literal, realistic, very straightforward. But the lines and shadowing give the images more than just visual form. The images, like the words in the book, succeed at being both scholarly and intuitive, teaching as well as moving.
Ties to a pagan past are brought up repeatedly and respectfully, and women are depicted in honorable and impressive roles. The criticisms that are often launched against Christianity cannot be launched against this set, which provides us with a clear, unobstructed view of the mystical truth of the religion.
This is an excellent set. It would likely be welcomed by those following a Christian path, and should be considered by those who previously rejected Christianity. I thank Robert M. Place for combining two of my all-time favorite subjects: ancient mystical Christianity, and Tarot. It makes for great reading (and readings!).
______________________________________N.Levine, web master of Tarot Insights
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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"During the first century of the Christian Era, Christians were honoring other Christians who had died and prayed for their intercession. However, honoring saints is not a practice created by the Church; it was part of Christianity from the very beginning--a natural practice of Christian people." - From the companion book
One of the reasons I purchased the Tarot of the Saints was because I was reading material about Christian mysticism--in particular, Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle. I wanted to expand my knowledge of Christian mystics and saints, so I thought the Tarot of the Saints would be a great opportunity to learn more--especially since I love Tarot and because Robert Place has a solid reputation as a scholar.
I began reading the 248-page companion book, excited that it was full of historical and anecdotal information about Gnosticism, early Christianity, mystics, saints, and Tarot itself. A few chapters into it, I decided to look up Teresa of Avila, dubbed St. Therese in the Tarot of the Saints deck, who was the object of the The Star card. I was pleased to discover new (to me) information on Teresa, as well as The Star itself. (One sticking point: He claims her feast day to be October 3--but it's actually October 15.)
Some of the saints, such as St. Blandina, I've never heard of--and some were notably absent from this deck (St. Bernadette). St. Stephen represents card 13, known in this deck as Martyrdom (rather than Death).
The companion book--A Gnostic Book of Saints--covers a lot of territory, including mystery religions, Greek philosophy, Gnostic theology, Pythagorean numerology, and Tarot history. Place even covers the four humors and Jungian types--but, curiously, he associates Cups with intuition and Wands with feelings--rather than the other way around.
Place provides bio of the saints depicted on the Major Arcana, as well as relevant information on the particular card and a brief commentary on general Tarot wisdom (interpretation). While Place dedicates about a page an a half to the saints on the Court Cards, the Pips are given anywhere from two sentences to one paragraph worth of treatment. For example, the only description given for the 6 of Cups is "Christ washes St. Peter's feet. This card represents love, nurturing, and humility."
The deck itself is austere, with most of the bland, monochromatic coloring "shaded" with black lines. The Majors depict the number and name of the card, as well as the Saint. Specific saints are also shown on the Court Cards, which are Squire, Knight, Queen and Queen. The Minor suits are Staffs, Cups, Swords and Coins. A thin purple border frames the Majors, while the Staffs are framed in red, the Swords in blue, the Cups in green, and the Coins in gold. The stylized backing, illustrating three distinct motifs, makes the cards nonreversible.
Some of the Saints found in the Tarot of the Saints include:
* St. Nicholas - The Magician
* St. Peter - The Pope
* St. Catherine - Wheel of Fortune
* St. Benedict - Temperance
* St. Barbara - The Tower
* Christ - The Sun
* St. Sophia - The World
* St. John - Knight of Cups
* St. Joan of Arc - Queen of Swords
* St. Jude - King of Coins
* St. Roch - Squire of Staffs
If you're a fan of Place's artwork and his style of writing, or are enthusiastic about learning more about Saints, Gnosticism, and Greek philosophy, you'll likely enjoy Tarot of the Saints. I've found it to be an insightful deck for meditation and one-card draws.
(To see 10 images from this deck, visit the Reviews--Decks section at [...])
Janet Boyer, author of The Back in Time Tarot Book: Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present (coming Fall 2008 from Hampton Roads Publishing)