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"Alchemy and the Tarot"

by Robert Michael Place


"A history of alchemy and the Tarot's major and minor suits with an exploration of the Tarot's
symbolism and alchemical connections. It also contains the most up-to-date explanation in print
of Place's unique divinatory techniques. This book is also the long awaited companion for any
edition of the acclaimed Alchemical Tarot, discussing the symbolism of each card in the deck in
detail, and it is an essential text for anyone who desires a deeper understanding of the Tarot's
mystical heritage."
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"Wonderful scholarship on the historical background of Tarot!
Most books about Tarot lack nuance and a fine sense of the history of visual culture. Robert
Place is a visual artist who has mastered not only the visual range of Renaissance history but
also writes splendidly about the philosophic movements, religious issues, and psychological
practices of visualization as they run through Western history. He is peerless in his treatment of
active imagination.as he traces it from ancient Egyptian embalming practices through alchemy
and the neo-Platonic Hermetica. Most books dismiss the ancient Egyptian origins of Tarot as a
17th-century myth. Robert Place makes a very strong integrated argument about the intuitive
aesthetic continuity of Renaissance Tarot with ancient mystery practices going back to Egypt via
Alexandria, the Hermeticists, alchemists, and Neo-Platonists. If you know enough history to have
sensed such connections but felt the evidence is lacking, you will find an excellent argument here
in Place's book.
On top of all the well-digested but not in-your-face scholarship, this book presents and discusses
the images the author-artist created for the Tarot deck known as "The Alchemical Tarot." The
images from this deck embody the argument of his book and show how his handiwork can deeply
integrate his argument by producing a highly readable and functional Tarot deck. Each card is
treated as an object for meditation and the rich symbolism is discussed with eloquence and
careful scholarship.
The last third of this book comments on each of the 78 cards of Robert Place's "Alchemical Tarot"
deck. The commentary goes far beyond other Tarot commentaries. Place's comments
encapsulate for each card image everything he has written earlier in the book about the history of
alchemy, Neo-Platonism, Hermetics, and active imagination. Every sentence resonates richly with
his awareness of the deep symbolism of tradition. In this way, Robert Place reinvigorates the
tradition, as if he possesses the Philosopher's Stone that can inject fresh life into dead matter.
This is a book by a true wizard in which every sentence prompts renewed attention to images
and where each image becomes a door to enter for personal meditation and for work of the heart.
In short, this book is a gem that deserves to be widely known. Our culture should only deserve to
appreciate what the author has put into this book.
Don't think for a moment that this is just another Tarot book or another Little White Book on "just
another Tarot deck."
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