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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot Hardcover – 1 Jan 1971

3.9 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Rider & Co; 2nd edition (1971)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091093708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091093709
  • Package Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

Arthur Edward Waite (October 2, 1857 - May 19, 1942) was an occultist and co-creator of the the popular and widely used Rider-Waite Tarot deck and author of its companion volume, the Pictorial Key to the Tarot. This was notable for being one of the first decks to illustrate all 78 cards fully, as opposed to the 22 major arcana. Waite was a prolific author with many of his works being well received in academic circles. He wrote occult texts on subjects including divination, Rosicrucianism, freemasonry, black and ceremonial magic, Kabbalism and alchemy; he also translated and reissued several important mystical and alchemical works. His works on the Holy Grail, influenced by his friendship with Arthur Machen, were particularly notable. A number of his volumes remain in print, The Book of Ceremonial Magic, The Holy Kabbalah, and New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry having seen reprints in recent years. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book alongside Rachel Pollacks excellent '78 degrees of Wisdom', which uses the Rider-Waite deck as it's primary reference.Don't be put off by the old-style language in A.E.Waites book, for if you persevere with it his words add so much extra insight into the meaning of the cards. Note also, it is wonderful being able to view the original black and white card images presented in the book.If you are keen on the Rider-Waite pack, it is essential, in my view, to own this book alongside any later references. I strongly advise you to buy it alongside Rachel Pollacks book, then alternate between each as you learn.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a great way of getting used to the card designs and some of the meanings. It is the classic Tarot primer and it is great it is available on kindle. After some initial problems, the book is now available in its entirety and with images in full colour of the 78 cards. A E Waite could be seen to be the father of the modern Tarot, since he and Smith put the pack together and gave the pictures to the minor arcana too, for the first time I think, which made them so much easier to use.
There may be many easier, clearer and more user-friendly guides to the Tarot available now but since this is less than a quid, it would be a mistake not to have this in your library.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Arthur Waite provides information for the widely known and original Tarot deck that he created.

"...the pictures are like doors which open into unexpected chambers, or like a turn in the open road with a wise prospect beyond" ~A.E Waite

The English is a little difficult to understand and he doesn't seem to give that much information on his deck, since there is a lot more information available published by other authors. But, he does give simple meaning for his cards in the upright and reversed positions and, as the name of the book suggests, a good explanation of each picture. He also offers a good overall view of what his deck is about, its development, possible origins and its true purpose. It also provides a full reference list to all the sources Arthur has used in his book, which would of excellent use for those wishing to study the Tarot's origins and development.

If you are a serious Tarot student, then it would be a good thing to have read this book and to have it on your shelf. And not just because Arthur is the creator of the original Tarot deck but because there is some information in this book, that is overlooked by today's authors on the subject.

ETA: I highly recommend the new Tarot student starts with 'Tarot Card Meanings: Fundamentals' and 'Tarot Card Meanings: Interpretations' - By Paul Foster Case. He tells you what A.E. Waite didn't!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is widely regarded as a definitive work on Tarot , accompanying as it did the original designs for the 'Rider-Waite' Tarot. The author explains some of what went into the designs and as such it is the only truly authoratitive account of the origins of this partiular deck ( and similar derivative decks);this was among the first decks to have pictorial illustrations for each and every card , and many other decks use the same symbols today . Arthur Waite himself came up with or refined the content of all the cards in the deck , and supervised the designs which were drawn and coloured (at least as prototypes for printed versions) by Pamela Coleman Smith.
All this makes this seem to be an ideal book to learn about tarot from , but unfortunately the case is not so simple . The main problem with the book is that it is all written from A.E Wate's rather antiquated and lofty point of view . Waite himself was an early member of the Golden Dawn , a Victorian society which has been alternately scandalised and glamourised largely due to the reputation of its most notorious member , Aleister Crowley . The truth about the Golden Dawn is that it was largely composed of scholarly members of the 'upper classes' , generally educated in private schools , who were probably slightly rebellious and expressing this though an interest in 'the occult sciences' . For this reason much of what they wrote about was based upon scholarly studies of subjects such as Egyptology and the like ; in other words their 'occultism' is underpinned with an elitism , both of a social and intellectual nature .
This is the problem with this book.
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By JB on 7 April 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The best book to further your knowledge of the tarot, I am a professional reader and this book has opened my eyes to learning more about the tarot, very impressed
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Format: Kindle Edition
This Kindle edition is missing an entire chapter of the
book, being
Part II: The Doctrine Behind the Veil,
Section 1: The Tarot and Secret Tradition.

I have reported this to Amazon so they can alert the
publisher. This is the danger where texts of books
are available on the internet and uploaded into ebook
formats. Where the missing chapter should be it jumps
straight into a description of the cards.
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Format: Hardcover
Arthur Edward Waite was a famous figure in the British spiritual movement of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. He was born in Brooklyn, United States of America but spent most of his life in England. The Roman Catholic church was strongly influential in his life, and he firmly believed in the existence of an esoteric Christian church - it was upon this belief that his involvement with magic and the occult was built. For a long time he was closely associated with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.. He wrote books on ceremonial magic, freemasonry, the Holy Grail and the Rosicrusian Brotherhood, and died in 1942.

Waite's stated intention in writing this book is expressed in three parts - "I have dealt with the antiquities of the subject and a few things that arise from and connect therewith" (p.viii). Secondly, "I have dealt with the symbolism according to some of its higher aspects" (viii). Thirdly, (with regard to divination), "I have given prominence to one method of working........having the merit of simplicity" (p.ix).

As a whole, the book is also presented in three parts - i) the seemingly obvious outer symbolism of the Tarot, making a brief visit to both Major and Minor Arcana, and an exposition of the Tarot in history; ii) a more in-depth look at the Major cards; and iii) the Minor Arcana, and divination.

At the beginning of the book Waite is at pains to point out that he has only written it in order to pre-empt anyone else's attempt to explain the Tarot. He states that "The fact remains that a Secret Tradition exists regarding the Tarot, and...........
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