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4.3 out of 5 stars
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At the very beginning of this book, the anonymous author, who left this book behind with strict instructions that it not be published till after his death, addresses the reader: `Your friend greets you, dear Unknown Friend, from beyond the grave.' He means it literally, absolutely literally.

That is to say, in my experience, to engage sincerely with this book is to engage with more than a book. It is to engage with a living spiritual master and genius of the highest order. A very human being, with the warmest of hearts, the most lucid of minds. A profound, profound thinker whose heart, burning with compassion for the world, gave us a manual of practical Christian alchemy - an alchemy that has undone my neuroses, strengthened my sanity, vastly enlarged my scope of feeling, vitalised my mind, melted my anger, fired my compassion, deepened my calmness - and more - so, so much, much more besides.

But not only this, he has given us a compendium of psychology, sociology, politics, theology, philosophy and hermeticism that could offer the new millennium - in all its potential horror - the wisest of guides.

Some may find this hard to read. Try it in the mornings, or whenever you feel freshest and most alert. Any difficulty will not be because it is dry or abstract. No, this is the most human book I have ever read. Human, human, human - kind and warm, profoundly kind and warm - calling us to heal our lives, heal our culture, not with destruction and polemic, but with peace and alchemy, with the most rigorous clarity of thought and the most tender of feelings.

For those suspicious of the author's orthodoxy, I suggest they note its foreword by no less than Hans Urs von Balthasar. And for those suspicious of the author's Catholicism, I would say the author is arguably more holistic than anyone. He deeply recognises the evil in the Church - but refuses a path of polemic. The way to heal any tradition is through loving, gentle alchemy and not revolution, not violence - psychological or otherwise.

In this sense, this is a book of profound holistic peace. He repeatedly affirms all the world's traditions, and those called to participate in them. And yes, in the West he affirms the traditional church (Catholic and Eastern Orthodox), whose sacramental life, he considers as having the greatest healing value for our troubled culture. The sacraments can heal our ever more stressed, nervous, fractured psyches in a profound way. And he regrets the destruction to the traditional church by any who have taken up violence - psychological or otherwise. There is a deep affirmation of sacramental Catholicism here - but not, if you read it carefully, of a Catholicism that destroys, condemns, imposes, or frightens. The author's heart weeps for a Catholicism of non-freedom.

Such vast realms of insight are here. Single paragraphs can furnish years of meditation. Or a sentence might be read ten, twenty times, before one realises it contains a universe of meaning not glimpsed before one is ready. The thought of such thinkers as Aquinas and Kant, Rudolf Steiner and St Francis of Assisi, Eliphas Levi and Carl Gustav Jung and many more is probed, extended, amplified, regenerated. And still so much more. More upon more. World upon world upon world ... There is supernatural and superhuman inspiration and genius at work in these pages. Those who think me excessive, are urged to look at other reviews on this page - which testify, I think, to the immense detonation in consciousness this book can effect ... after which nothing is ever the same again.

Oh, what more can I say to you, dear Unknown Friend who left us this book? You have immeasurably enriched my life beyond compare - far, far beyond compare. You have healed and strengthened and succoured me. You have opened my heart and mind to the Christian Mystery. You have taught me about sincerity, about rigour, about non-violence, about tragedy, about courage, about tears, about philosophy and poetry, and about profound, profound human-ness. I can never thank you enough. I believe your masterpiece may be the most important of the twentieth century and is my greatest source of hope for the twenty- first.
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on 19 June 2001
This book is utterly astonishing and quite unique. The author integrates, within a deeply-rooted Christian perspective, a vast range of intellectual and spiritual streams. I am nearing the end of my second reading of the book, and find it never ceases to challenge, to inspire, to enlighten, even to heal.
My copy has a picture of the Hermit on the front cover, and studying it can quite appropriately be a very solitary pursuit...
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on 18 July 2007
An excellent book with many profound and interesting ideas, However the reader should be aware of the background to the book which was written by Valentin Tomberg. Born in Russia in 1900 he studied the occult at an early age, became attracted to the work of Rudolf Steiner ( Anthroposophy) and produced other excellent books ( Christ and Sophia, etc.) as an Anthroposophist, stressing Steiner's ideas of the spiritual development of the INDIVIDUAL through freedom in Thinking. In the 1940's he joined the Roman Catholic Church and adopted the Jesuit attitude of unquestionning obedience to your superior - ultimately the Pope. This attitude , directly opposed to his earlier Anthsoposophical views, is embedded in the book. This book is warmly endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church - seen as way of converting an interest in the occult into Roman Catholicism. For further info read " The Case of Valentin Tomberg" by Sergie Prokofieff.
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on 16 February 2010
How can I ever capture in these few lines the depth and meaning that this book contains. It is truly beyond words.

A book which seems to be hundreds of books between two covers, that could alone take a lifetime to study.

I have only completed one full reading, though I have dipped in and out for a decade. Yet I have just skimmed the surface of this very profound well of wisdom. A Christian love and morality that comes straight from the heart of the author, to the soul of the reader. I believe the author embodies this depth of love and wisdom with an integrity very few obtain.

A profound well of love and wisdom that contains layer upon layer of meaning and understanding about the Christian Mystery and the path of the Christian soul.
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on 26 June 2004
It is difficult to summarize the book without trivializing it. Suffice to say that those who have interest in esotericism (Christian or otherwise), Rudolf Steiner, Valentin Tomberg et al should read this work. The "anonymous" author (whose supposed identity has, however, been quite widely rumoured) indeed appears to be a master of his craft...
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on 16 June 2011
"Meditations on the Tarot" by Anonymous is actually the magnum opus of Valentin Tomberg, a maverick Anthroposophist who eventually converted to the Roman Catholic Church. However, he never really became a main line Catholic, and his books are an attempt to synthesize Hermeticism or esotericism with traditional Christianity in its Catholic form. The official edition of "Meditations on the Tarot" was published posthumously and never mentions the author's name. Curiously, it has an afterword written by Hans Urs von Balthasar, a prominent Catholic theologian who was appointed cardinal shortly before his death.

I never really understood if Tomberg was at bottom an esotericist using Catholicism as a cover, or whether he was a real Catholic attempting to convert his former followers by mimicking part of their message. Perhaps inevitably, some Christians have interpreted Tomberg as the former, while some Anthroposophists claim the latter! Unless I'm mistaken, the Anthroposophist critique "The case of Valentin Tomberg" claims that the Catholic Church have used Tomberg's book in the ex-Soviet Union in order to stop occult revivals and channel it back to the Christian fold.

"Meditations on the Tarot" is a very extensive work, and I don't claim to have read all of it. After reading the first 100 pages, I noticed the following. First, the book isn't really about the actual tarot deck. Each chapter deals with some aspect of Hermeticism, and the connection to the actual tarot cards feel somewhat forced. I can't help wondering whether the whole tarot angle is simply an editorial ruse to get the readers attention. Second, Tomberg's book cannot really be read cover to cover (although you're welcome to try!). It's a book that requires detailed study. Third, Tomberg has a tendency to shift from subject to subject. On the one hand, this does make for some exciting reading. On the other hand, it's difficult to find the relevant sections again, unless you pretty much know the entire book by heart. Which you don't.

So much for the style of the book. As for the actual contents, I admit that "Meditations on the Tarot" is quite fascinating. Tomberg's philosophy is a kind of occultism with a human face. It attacks black magic, emphasizes humility, love, faith and hope, seems to regard the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as a real event rather than just a symbol or allegory, and rejects the Hindu-Buddhist notions of karma, maya and nirvana. It does teach reincarnation, however, although the author doesn't insist on officially proclaiming the doctrine. Less sympathetic is the strong craving for temporal authority and hierarchy in the form of Emperor and Pope (and implicitly Czar), although Tomberg graciously allows that the office of Emperor might be "esoteric" at the moment. This explicit support for the Catholic hierarchy was one of the things that made the Anthroposophists reel. (In other writings, he also expresses very strong support for Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.)

The author's influences are varied, but he often quotes the French magicians Papus, Péladan and Eliphas Levi. Jung is referenced several times. The Jewish kabbala is another prominent influence, both the Zohar and the Lurianic kabbala. Yet another influence might be Böhme and Schelling. Tomberg even mentions Rudolf Steiner! Catholic figures often quoted or mentioned include John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila.

I'm not entirely sure what to make of our unknown friend's meditations, but I'll nevertheless give his work five stars.
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on 21 April 2007
This is an excellent book; it is vast and all encompassing. It speaks to a part of us that is beyond the ordinary mental consciousness and connects to the deep knowing within. The writer is both endearing and inspiring and he has a vast wisdom that is more than apparent for those that are willing see. A book to go beyond the ordinary and step inside the hidden mysteries.
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on 8 September 2000
this is a real book for every body that want to understand the tarot. it doesn't teach you the easy way of devination but helps you make the meditation
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on 14 June 2011
I would recommend this book to everyone who is interested in Tarot more then just simply fortune teller reading.
In this book you can find all and I mean absolutely all about Tarot symbols, which gives you more and deep understanding on different level.
However, have to say, i was waiting for this book over 3 weeks,
that's the only disadvantage...
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on 16 September 2014
Why is this still not available for Kindle even though the kindle page for sale exists?
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