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Meditations on the Tarot

Meditations on the Tarot

Product no.: 1-58542-161-8
Give this book to your self-righteous, Evangelical friends who are convinced that Tarot and occultism are evil.

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Publisher's Synopsis

Published for the first time with an index and Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar's afterword, this new English publication of Meditations on the Tarot is the landmark edition of one of the most important works of esoteric Christianity.

Written anonymously and published posthumously, as was the author's wish, the intention of this work is for the reader to find a relationship with the author in the spiritual dimensions of existence. The author wanted not to be thought of as a personality who lived from 1900 to 1973, but as a friend who is communicating with us from beyond the boundaries of ordinary life.

"This work was originally written in French. A German translation with an introduction by Hans Urs von Balthasar appeared in 1972. A second revised German translation was published by Herder, Basel in 1983. The first French edition was published in 1980 and revised edition in 1984, both by Aubier Montaigne, Paris. The author wished the book to be published anonymously and posthumously.

In his foreword to the German edition, von Balthasar writes: 'A thinking, praying Christian of unmistakable purity reveals to us to symbols of Christian Hermeticism in its various levels of mysticism, gnosis, and magic, taking in also the Cabbala and certain elements of astrology and alchemy. These symbols are summarized in the twenty-two so-called Major Arcana of the Tarot cards. By way of the Major Arcana the author seeks to lead meditatively into the deeper, all-embracing wisdom of the Catholic Mystery.'

This may be regarded as one of the great spiritual classics of this century. In the hands of this author of immense erudition and deep contemplation, the Tarot cards of ancient Egypt reveal their universal archetypal symbolic nature and become a school of objective insight. The meditations are, in the truest sense, a school of lectio divina requiring an activity more profound than that of study and intellectual explanation. The author gathers us into his own spiritual journey to the authentic Source of all true knowledge and compassion.

This book in my view is the greatest contribution to date toward the rediscovery and renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition of the Fathers of the Church and the high Middle Ages. With its firm grasp of tradition, its balance, wisdom, profundity, openness to truth, and comprehensive approach to reality, it deserves to be the basis of a course in spirituality in every Christian institution of higher learning and what would be even better, the point of departure and unifying vision of the whole curriculum."       ~Fr. Thomas Keating, OCSO

The wind blows where it wills, and
You hear the sound of it, but you do
Not know whence it comes or whither
It goes; so it is with every one
Who is born of the Spirit.
(John iii, 8)

Into this happy night
In secret, seen of none,
Nor saw I aught,
Without other light or guide,
Save that which in my heart did burn.
(St. John of the Cross)

"Dear Unknown Friend,

The words of the Master cited above have served me the key for opening the door to comprehension of the first Major Arcanum of the Tarot, 'The Magician', which is, in turn, the key to all the other Major Arcana. This is why I have put them as an epigraph to this Letter. And then I have cited a verse from the 'Songs of the Soul' of St. John of the Cross, because it has the virtue of awakening the deeper layers of the soul, which one has to appeal to when the concern is the first Arcanum of the Tarot and, consequently, all the Major Arcana of the Tarot.

For the Major Arcana of the Tarot are authentic symbols, i.e. they are 'magic, mental, psychic and moral operations' awakening new notions, ideas, sentiments and aspirations, which means to say that they require an activity more profound than that of study and intellectual explanation. It is therefore in a state of deep contemplation - and always ever deeper - that they should be approached. And it is the deep and intimate layers of the soul which become active and bear fruit when one mediates on the Arcana of the Tarot.

Therefore this 'night', of which St. John of the Cross speaks, is necessary, where one withdraws oneself 'in secret' and into which one has to immerse oneself each time that one meditates on the Arcana of the Tarot. It is a work to be accomplished in solitude, and is all the more suitable for recluses."     ~Chapter 1, The Magician


Born in 1900 in Russia, Valentin Tomberg was for many years an enthusiastic student of Anthroposophy, the science of the spirit founded by Rudolf Steiner. In 1945, however, he converted to Roman Catholicism and completely turned his back on the former phase of his life. By the time of his death in 1973 he had written two major works, Meditations on the Tarot and Covenant of the Heart, in which he presents much esoteric knowledge, but now under the spiritual authority of the Catholic Church.

Author Tomberg, Valentin
Translator Powell, Robert
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 670 pp.
Publisher Tarcher/Penguin 2002
Platinum Medal

Platinum Medal


Platinum Medal Essential Reading

Browse these categories as well: Alchemy and Theurgy, Mystic and Esoteric Christianity, Tarot Lessons, Manuals and Textbooks, Masterworks of the Western Mystery Tradition, Noteworthy Releases 2002, Platinum Medal Essential Reading

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