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The Tarot of the Saints Deck & Book Set

by Robert M. Place

The Tarot of the Saints Deck & Book Set
Price: $34.95
Number of cards in deck: 78

Measurements: 2.8 x 4.6 inches, or 70 x 118 mm.

Back of card: Light violet on white. Resembles a simplified version of an ordinary poker deck. In the center, three white diamonds. Top diamond: The all-seeing Eye. Middle diamond: Dove. Bottom diamond: crucified heart. May be inverted if you're not fussy.

Book included: Yes, 248 pages (with index), 6 x 9 inches, or 15 x 23 cm. Entitled, A Gnostic Book of Saints. Illustrated.

Publisher: Llewellyn. Printed in the US.

Comments: Great Christian saints pictured on major arcana & face cards. Some pip cards show scenes (some from the New Testament) but others do not. Occasionally, as on the 3 of Staffs (above) we glimpse traditional Rider symbolism. Suits are the usual Swords, Coins, Cups & Staffs. Note that Staffs show the bishop's crosiers, symbolic representations of a shepherd's staff. Note also that coins are often shown as communion hosts. Face cards are Squire, Knight, Queen & King. As I am asked from time to time, there are a couple of nudes in this deck, none shown prominently.

But saying this deck is "Christian" may be a bit broad. The confused followers of Luther have no saints. Saints are artifacts of the Roman & Orthodox faiths only. They are based on the observation - easy for any good clairvoyant to confirm - that earnest people continue their work after their physical demise. In elevating deceased Church leaders to the status of saints, the Church thereby harnesses them for an additional few centuries of work. To further ensure their post-life attention, the Church hacks their bodies into thousands of small chunks, known as relics, and distributes them among the faithful. Anyone familiar with the metaphysics of physical bodies, astral bodies & souls, will recognize the process. But even so, existence as a saint has limits. Saints require nourishment, generally in the form of thoughts, prayers & pleas for help from the living. Saints have a life-expectancy. They eventually grow old & fade away. How long a saint can be a saint (eg, how long he can be revered) is determined by how great the man was during his physical life. Most saints fade after a few centuries. A few have endured (or seem to have endured) for two millennia. Saints are, after all, deceased people like anybody else. Eventually they need to move on to other work in more distant realms, or prepare themselves for rebirth in this realm. For these reasons, the Church "retires" saints from time to time, most recently in the late 1960's, during the epochal Vatican II. The best saints are those, like Padre Pio, whom we still remember as living, breathing inspirations.

We are talking here about the most Holy Roman and Apostolic Catholic Church, the greatest clan of male magicians ever seen on this planet. I've made that observation elsewhere, but for those who haven't read every nook & cranny of this site (not that I blame you), I will repeat: The Church Christ founded is by its very nature an ongoing work of magic, in the most sublime sense. What's striking is the publisher of Tarot of the Saints, Llewellyn, in St. Paul (!), Minnesota, is a leading advocate of Wicca, which is female-based magic. Generally, these two groups of magicians believe they have little in common. Publication of Tarot of the Saints could be just an isolated blip on the radar, or it could be part of an eventual rapprochement between males & females. Differences between these two are long entrenched, it is hard to be optimistic.

If you have no hangups about the Church (in the year in which I write, 2002, this could be taken as meaning Catholic & childless), this is a wonderfully inspiring deck. It is uniformly uplifting. There is hope in the world, there is help for you & your personal problems, prayers are heard and answered, etc. Intellectuals will of course sneer at such drivel, but it is useful to remember that intellect & emotion are complimentary, not competing. I am reminded that Gurdjieff named emotion superior to intellect, which I believe is true. It is for each of us to discover how emotion compliments & enhances intellect, how the free interplay of these two eventually leads to wisdom.

The book, A Gnostic Book of Saints, sets this tone. It is earnest, intellectual and at the same time, wise. Because of this, the book does not focus on how to interpret cards in readings. Each major arcana card gets several pages of text, starting with the concept shown on the card itself (fool, magician, pope, etc.). Then follows a discussion of how the image has been treated in other tarot decks. Text for each of the major arcana cards then concludes with "Tarot Wisdom", brief notes on using the card in a reading. For The Pope, the author notes that as the Pope is arbiter of right & wrong, pay attention which way he is facing. For those with a grasp of tarot, Place's descriptions, based on his extensive studies, are illuminating. Descriptions of the face cards are about a page each. They focus on the life of the saint shown on them. Pip cards get a paragraph: A very brief description, plus a couple of keywords.

Chapter 7, the final chapter in the book, is entitled, Divination. Place makes this statement, Predicting the future is one of the least helpful things one can do with the Tarot. He then continues with, A better use is true divination. The word divination literally means, 'to get in touch with the divine.' It is derived from the Latin divinus which meant 'soothsayer,' which in turn was derived from deus, meaning God. He gives instructions for an interesting three-card spread that emphasizes any of the six different ways that faces shown on the cards may be facing. He also gives instructions for a nine card spread (3 groups of 3 cards each), and a reading in the shape of an equal armed (eg, Greek) cross.

I liked this deck, but that may say as much about me as the deck, I suppose.

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207 Victory Lane, Bel Air, MD 21014
Tel: 410-638-7761; Fax:410-638-5154; Toll-free (orders only): 800-475-2272

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