The Pythagorean Tarot Cards – 18 Sep 2001
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About the Author
John Opsopaus (Tennessee) is a practicing Neopagan in the Hellenic tradition who has been an active magician and diviner for thirty years. He is also a university professor with more than twenty-five years' experience reading ancient Greek and Latin.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In his introduction Opsopaus writes that he's written the book for neopagans who are dissatisfied with traditional decks based on the theology and esotericism of the late Renaissance. But that doesn't mean the book isn't useful for traditionalists as well. After all, much of the esoteric though of the Renaissance grew out of Pythagoras' thought and the Greek mystery traditions. I use traditional decks myself, but I reference this book constantly.
In fact, anyone interested in the history of symbols will find a wealth of material in this book. The bibliography in the back is absolutely wonderful. The section on Pythagorean numerology is the best I have read on that subject.
In addition, the cards are beautiful; the symbols are different than a traditional deck, but not so different that you can't recognize immediately which major arcana card you're looking at. The pip cards have no pictures, which is the way the early tarot decks were created. However, their meanings are easily derived by combining the numerological information with the element qualities. Opsopaus does this in his section on the pip cards.
The book starts out with a section on the background of the metaphysical ideas the author deals with, then goes on to sections on the major, then the minor arcana. The fourth section covers divination thoroughly and with some wonderful insights not covered in other books.
I first found out about Opsopaus' tarot writings on his encyclopaedic website, which has the same name as the book. I originally tried printing out the website material (before the book was published), but there was just too much. I've found the book to be a must-have in my Tarot library. It's not only scholarly but also very readable, which makes for a good learning experience.
Phenomenal! The logic and symmetry which underlie Pythagoras' school of mysticism, is astounding. And, despite being extremely lucid, the author is clearly a highly qualified and academically rigorous authority on the subject.
Discovering this book honestly feels like stumbling upon some ancient priceless treasure. Perhaps the greatest preSocratic philosopher, Pythagoras treated magic and science as an indestructable whole, and the meaningfulness that emerges is a powerful antidote to our modern schizophrenic view of the world.
I didn't buy the book for the tarot deck. But having extensively researched the Tarot since, I don't think one could get nearer to profoundly insightful divination
As it turns out, my studies of Alchemy, Astrology, Magick & Mythology all came in handy because this book is SO thorough in it's use of symbology & numerolgy, & synthesizes these cross-culturally. This has a layering effect & I'm certain to learn even more upon subsequent readings of this tome. While there was plenty of dot connecting I could do while I read it- there was still plenty I could nowise make use of as I had no frame of reference.
If you are new to Arcane Arts this is probably NOT the best place for you to start unless you have some amazing gift of Intelligence &/or understanding beccause this IS complex. Mr. O puts the Tarot back in it's original order making one wonder WHY it was EVER changed & why SO many just blindly go along with those changes. Also, this particular Tarot is NOT a game- there is a whole industry of pseudo-occult objects & websites (read: Occult-lite or diet-Occult) that caters to the surfacey, dabblers & thank Goodness for it as that keeps us all safe. This Tarot is in depth citing around 1600 sources.
One can visit John Opsopaus' website & learn in doses before deciding whether or not they're ready to go this deeply into the Tarot but please, whoever you are, wherever you are, start telling anyone you know with any interest in the Tarot that most decks DO not use the original order of the Major Arcana & it's MOST likely that the Tarot has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the Quaballa. (or howEVER it's spelled.)
They went 'back to the drawing board' in constucting this deck. The iconography corresponds to the Greek pantheon, as well as including alchemical ideas. Also, the order of the cards is based on Pythagorean numerology. So, don't expect to begin using them as soon as you get them; they will require some work -- reading the book and studying the images on the cards. I assure you that the work is well worth the effort.
You will come to treasure this deck for its unique approach and its bold re-statement of traditional concepts. Highly recommended.