53 Tarot Quotes about the Tarot

If there’s one thing I love it’s when Tarot writers get reflective and write about the Tarot: what it is, what it means, why it’s important, its history, significance, esoteric nature, psychology, and contemporary relevance. I love it! To that end, I have compiled 53 of my favorite Tarot quotes about the Tarot from some of the best Tarot books ever written. Enjoy!

What the Tarot Is

“THE TAROT is a pack of seventy‐eight cards. There are four suits, as in modern playing  cards, which are derived from it. But the Court cards number four instead of three. In addition, there are twenty‐two cards called “Trumps”, each of which is a symbolic picture with a title itself. At first sight one would suppose this arrangement to be arbitrary, but it is not. It is necessitated, as will appear later, by the structure of the universe, and in particular of the Solar System, as symbolized by the Holy Qabalah. This will be explained in due course.” ~ Aleister Crowley, Book of Thoth

“Today, we see the Tarot as a kind of path, a way to personal growth through understanding of ourselves and life. To some the Tarot’s origin remains a vital question; for others it only matters that meanings have accrued to the cards over the years.” ~ Rachel Pollack, Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom

“For a long time now, I have thought of the Tarot’s Major Arcana as the great, neglected masterpiece of Western culture.” ~ Rachel Pollack, Tarot Wisdom

“Tarot makes accessible to awareness a full spectrum of psychological and spiritual possibility with little preference for its user’s qualifications or beliefs.” ~ Arthur Rosengarten, Tarot and Psychology

“I believed as well that serious researchers, philosophers, and scholars interested in the emerging science of ‘consciousness’ might discover in Tarot certain unique and compelling examples of a transpersonal intelligence readily accessible through a method that capitalized on, of all things, random selection and synchronicity.” ~ Arthur Rosengarden, Tarot and Psychology

“When we really need to know something, the Tarot speaks to us with absolute clarity.” ~ Rachel Pollack, Tarot Wisdom

Comparison to Astrology

“Tarot divination, unlike astrological charting or psychological testing, requires the here/now relational field between reader and querent. In this way it is closer to psychotherapy and ballroom dancing.” ~ Arthur Rosengarden, Tarot and Psychology

The History of Tarot

“Evidence suggests that the tarot deck evolved from the card-playing deck familiar in most western countries.” ~ Helen Farley, A Cultural History of Tarot

“The History of the Tarot has been obscured by writers who have not distinguished between the Tarot in its higher aspect, as the record in symbols of what man has discovered about his relation to the Universe, and the Tarot in its lowest aspect, as a pack of cards used for divination and card-play.” ~ Lady Frieda Harris, Essay in Thoth Tarot book

“The Tarot was not invented by Egyptians; but I am certain that its inventor was a great admirer of Egypt. Court De Gébelin and his colleagues, although participating in a phase of Egyptomania, did not consider that the Tarot could have arisen in some earlier phase(s) of Egyptomania, rather than the Egyptian empire itself.” ~ Ronald Decker, The Esoteric Tarot

“Renaissance intellectuals were fascinated by riddles, enigmas, and codes. Their meanings, when lacking a qualified interpreter, could elude the casual observer. That is exactly what happened to the Tarot in its earliest days. In the very period when both the archetypal Tarot and allegorical art were most familiar, viewers complained that the trumps were a senseless mishmash. This reaction is an important clue. It disqualifies certain modern theories that base the trumps’ symbolism primarily on some famous literary work, be it the Apocalypse of St. John or the poetry of Petrarch.” ~ Ronald Decker, The Esoteric Tarot

“The Tarot trumps are not really vestiges of any ‘Book of Thoth’ surviving from antiquity. They are, however, Renaissance ‘hieroglyphs’ designed with a respect for the inventions attributed to Thoth. His reputation extended beyond Egypt. Renaissance humanists would have known Thoth through the recovery of ancient manuscripts.” ~ Ronald Decker, The Esoteric Tarot

“I feel certain that the Tarot designers were aware of the entire Hermetic theosophy.” ~ Ronald Decker, The Esoteric Tarot

“I conclude that their [the Tarot trumps’] creators were Christian Platonists (possibly Hermetists) with an interest in Egyptian Platonism (essentially Hermetism).” ~ Ronald Decker, The Esoteric Tarot

“By creating a myth of the Tarot’s origins, Antoine Court de Gébelin and all those who came after him have liberated the Tarot from time. We can adapt whatever story or teaching or image fits to deepen our experience of the cards.” ~ Rachel Pollack, Tarot Wisdom

“The origin of the Tarot is quite irrelevant, even if it were certain. It must stand or fall as a system on its own merits.” ~ Aleister Crowley, The Book of Thoth

The Esoteric Nature of Tarot

“The true Tarot is symbolism; it speaks no other language and offers no other signs. Given the inward meaning of its emblems, they do become a kind of alphabet which is capable of indefinite combinations and makes true sense in all.” ~ A.E. Waite, A Pictorial Key to the Tarot

“The Tarot is a pictorial representation of the Forces of Nature as conceived by the Ancients according to a conventional symbolism.” Aleister Crowley, on the Ordo Templi Orientis card that comes with the Thoth Tarot deck

“[The Tarot] is, in truth, a monumental and extraordinary work, strong and simple as the architecture of the pyramids, and consequently enduring like those – a book which is a summary of all sciences, which can resolve all problems by its infinite combinations, which speaks by evoking thought, it is an inspirer and moderator of all possible conceptions, and the masterpiece perhaps of the human mind.” Éliphas Lévi, Transcendental Magic

“The Tarot is in fact a complete and elaborate system for describing the hidden forces which underlie the universe.” – Chic Cicero & Sandra Tabatha Cicero, book included in Golden Dawn Magical Tarot deck

“The Tarot could be described as God’s Picture Book, or it could be likened to a celestial game of chess, the Trumps being the pieces to be moved according to the law of their own order over a checkered board of the four elements.” ~ Lady Frida Harris

“The implication [of Book T’s preface]…is that the key to the Cosmos is our perception of the underlying pattern of which the Tarot deck is an external symbol.

But this ‘book,’ or set of universal patterns, is open to no one of this earth. It can be opened only by the Lamb of God, who is Christ/Buddha/Osiris in this context. Only those who have been initiated into the Christ center of the Qabalah (Tiphareath) can fully understand the Tarot.” ~ Robert Wang, The Qabalistic Tarot

“The fact remains that the two systems of Qabalah and Tarot are so strikingly similar in theory that they easily complement and describe one another. If they indeed came from different origins, it would only serve to prove how universal is the Divine Truth behind them both.” – Chic Cicero & Sandra Tabatha Cicero, book included in Golden Dawn Magical Tarot deck

“The Tarot is a template of the soul’s progress.” ~ Rachel Pollack, Tarot Wisdom

“Whether or not the original creators of the Tarot intended to create a pictorial system that would explain the basic principles of the Qabalah is unimportant. It is irrefutably evident that the two systems fit together so completely that one explains the other, and both point to the same Divine Truths.” – Chic Cicero & Sandra Tabatha Cicero, book included in Golden Dawn Magical Tarot deck

“the Major Arcana of the Tarot are authentic symbols, i.e. they are “magic, menial, 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.” – Anonymous, Meditations on the Tarot

“When one reads the Tarot cards frequently, it is difficult not to become convinced that some power is present that directs their distribution.” ~ Eden Gray, The Complete Guide to the Tarot

“The Tarot embodies symbolical presentations of universal ideas, behind which lie all the implicits of the human mind, and it is in this sense that they contain secret doctrine, which is the realization by the few of truths imbedded in the consciousness of all, though they have not passed into express recognition by ordinary men.” ~ A.E. Waite, A Pictorial Key to the Tarot

“THrough deeply rooted mystic powers, the cards accomplish miracles of psychological insight, wise counsel, and accurate divination.” ~ Eden Gray, The Complete Guide to the Tarot

The Psychology of Tarot

“A journey through the Tarot cards is primarily a journey into own depths.” ~ Sallie Nichols, Tarot and the Archetypal Journey

“[T]he Tarot, viewed philosophically, is a teaching device intended to assist in the subjective journey of consciousness from one objective center of energy to another.” Robert Wang, The Qabalistic Tarot

“When a card is greeted by a quiet nod and requires little further explanation it is not unlike some high and holy sage taking you aside, placing his compassionate hand upon your shoulder and whispering gently into your ear: ‘You know how you’ve always felt about x? Well you were quite correct to feel that way. Nice work, keep it up!” ~ Arthur Rosengarten, Tarot and Psychology

“I am convinced, however, that a happy and prosperous marriage between these two strange bedfellows [Tarot and Psychology] is not only desirable, but in fact indispensable for the emergence of a new standard of mental health and “wellbeingness” in the 21st century – a standard which must deeply and adeptly strive to integrate spiritual and psychology dimensions into whole spectrums of human possibility.” ~ Arthur Rosengarten, Tarot and Psychology

With Tarot as a game, “The object is not winning, but learning.” ~ Arthur Rosengarten, Tarot and Psychology

“[Divination] requires, contrary to a habitual Western mental reflex…the placing of supreme trust in the natural intelligence that collects momentarily around events, thereby awakening a non-linear mode of perception through what I respectfully call ‘sacred’ or empowered’ randomness.” ~ Arthur Rosengarten, Tarot and Psychology

“If the person receiving the reading doesn’t actually believe in the Tarot, the Tarot doesn’t work, like a fairy whose existence has to be affirmed for her to survive. Tarot readings are an exchange of trusting energy between the reader and the seeker, and if that faithful collaboration is missing — in my experience – the magic does not happen.” ~ Michelle Tea, Modern Tarot

Tarot Symbolism

“This is by way of Introduction to a thesis most necessary to the understanding of the Tarot. Each card is, in a sense, a living being; and its relations with its neighbours are what one might call diplomatic. It is for the student to build these living stones into his living Temple.” ~ Aleister Crowley, The Book of Thoth

“Because the Tarot pictures carry deep significance all by themselves, the patterns they form in readings can teach us a great deal about ourselves, and life in general.” ~ Rachel Pollack, Seventy-eight Degrees of Wisdom 

“Now try to think of your cherished Tarot trumps in terms of marketing. I hope the bad taste you get in your mouth at this idea destabilizes everything you think of as archetype, transcending the mundane. My claim is that there’s no such thing as an archetype transcending the mundane. There’s only words that carry more significance than others because people decide this is the case. Words. Not power. Words. Symbolic glyphs. The power that words have is all fiction. The taller the gale, the bigger the icon.” ~ Camelia Elias, Read Like the Devil

“The point is that you can enjoy the power of symbols, but it will serve you well to know that a symbol means exactly nothing. Use the symbol, but don’t get stuck on it, don’t cling to its enchanted fictions.” ~ Camelia Elias, Read Like the Devil

“Symbolically, the Arcana of the Tarot are a chest in which a spiritual treasure has been deposited. The opening of this chest is equivalent to a revelation.” ~ Alejandro Jodorowsky, The Way of Tarot

“As the Tarot is essentially a projective instrument, there is no definitive, unique perfect form within it.” ~ Alejandro Jodorowsky, The Way of Tarot

A Response to Tarot Skeptics

“Skeptics will say that there is no objective truth to the tarot, only the subjective. We project our personal stories into the card meanings and make that our truth. That is exactly right. And that is exactly how it helps people gain insight into situations that otherwise seemed hopeless – because stress, frustration, and everyday worries clutter the consciousness and obstruct their view of the solution. We reconcile our personal story with the narrative of the cards and through that process begin to see our own situation through new perspectives and from different angles.” ~ Benebell Wen, Holistic Tarot

Studying the Tarot

“A comprehensive study of the Tarot is a task which is very nearly equal to acquiring a college degree in both psychology and theology.” – Chic Cicero & Sandra Tabatha Cicero, book included in Golden Dawn Magical Tarot deck

“The best way to acquaint yourself with the Tarot is to find out how the cards function in your own life.” ~ Mary K. Greer, Tarot for Yourself

“The majority of authors of Tarot books are content to describe and analyze the cards one by one without imagining the entire deck as a whole. However, the true study of each Arcanum begins with the consistent order of the entire Tarot; every detail, tiny as it may be, begins from the links that connect all seventy-eight cards. To understand these myriad symbols, one needs to have seen the final symbol they all form together: a mandala.” ~ Alejandro Jodorowsky, The Way of Tarot

Divination and the Tarot

“It may come as a surprise to some to learn that the primary reason for divination in the Great Work is not to learn the future. Rather, it is for the development of psychic faculties. The more one uses the Tarot cards to find answers to given questions, the more that person taps into unseen currents.” ~Robert Wang, The Qabalistic Tarot

“I’m interested in power. Plain and simple. I want to know what kind of power the cards in my hands to give me over myself and others. I’m not interested in the variations on the back of the cards that occurred between 1762 and 1763. Fascinating stuff, but there’s no power in that. Let me say this just once, to make things clear about my position vis-à-vis history: divination is not history. You can know history – occult history and the history of deck production – as history is fun, but knowing history is not the same as divining. Keep these narratives apart.” ~ Camelia Elias, Read Like the Devil

Tarot and Magic

“The magic is not in the cards, which are merely tools used to construct rituals and to represent various instruments and forces. The magic is in the person using them. The cards act to focus and project the power of the mind.” ~ Donald Tyson, Portable Magic

Tarot Mechanics

“When you shuffle a deck of tarot cards and lay them on the table, you’re actually putting an entire universe into motion. Every time you deal the cards, you’re creating a new reality – just as the planets and signs of astrology align to represent a new reality for every child born on Earth.” ~ Corrine Kenner, Tarot and Astrology

Reading the Tarot

“I believe anyone who wants to read the cards is not only free to, but must evolve a personal method for himself or herself.” ~ Paul Huson, Mystical Origins of the Tarot

“In using Tarot for yourself I find that an attitude of sacred play serves well, since Tarot began, after all, as a game.” ~ Mary K. Greer, Tarot for Yourself


Related Links

The Psychology of Tarot

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