"The Esoteric Tarot marks a major contribution to understanding the Tarot's origins and possible meanings. For too long the historical approach and the esoteric approach to the cards were sharply at odds with each other. In recent years a number of people have tried to bridge the differences, but none with the impeccable scholarly background of Ron Decker. And his book is not just valuable as history; it's also fascinating and exciting to read. " --Rachel Pollack, author of Tarot Wisdom
"A rigorously researched book that serves as the basis for Decker's arguments for a Tarot richly rooted in an ancient cosmic worldview--one that continues to speak to us today" --Paul Quinn, author of Tarot for Life That the Tarot originated in ancient Egypt as a divinatory tool is a romantic misconception. Ron Decker’s meticulous scholarship will surprise practitioners and academics alike, revealing the Tarot’s true evolution and meanings as its inventor(s) understood it.
The Tarot consists of the Minor Arcana, four suits of cards similar to our modern deck, and the Major Arcana, twenty-two allegorical or “trump” cards. Decker says the four-suit deck was invented in Asia Minor before AD 1000; Italian courtiers added the trumps in the 1400s. But Tarot was first used as a game. Tarot divination was only created in the 1700s by a Parisian fortuneteller who based the trump images on Hermeticism, which merges Greco-Egyptian alchemy, astrology, numerology, magic, and mysticism. Today, the suit-cards are often traced to the ancient Jewish Cabala. But, says Decker, they, too, acquired their meanings only in the 1700s, and he cites a lost numerical system based on Cabala at that time
Decker’s interpretation integrates three whole systems-astrological, arithmological, mystagogical (concerning initiation rites into the Mysteries). His depth of knowledge makes the book a must-have for serious students of Tarot and esotericism
Ronald Decker holds a B.A. in fine art from State University College at Buffalo and a M.A. in painting from the University of Cincinnati graduate school. He has taught art and art history at all levels of education. Until his retirement, he was curator of antique cards at The U.S. Playing Card Company. He has studied Tarot cards in public and private collections in all of Europe's capitols as well as Turkey, Egypt, and India. Tarot and the Esoteric Traditions is his fourth book about the cards.