The Rider-Waite tarot deck is legend. It has been a best-seller for decades. When I was shopping for my first tarot deck in the early 70’s, it was one of only a few decks available for sale in mainstream commercial markets.
As I began to study Western Hermetic Mystery traditions, the symbolism incorporated in the cards came to life for me and aided me on my course of study. Like most people, I thought of Pamela Coleman Smith as a somewhat naive technician, carrying out A.E. Waite’s will. As feminine spiritual power continues to gain intellectual strength in metaphysics, the truth has begun to come out.
Smith, it appears, was not a choice that Waite made lightly. He picked an artist with global roots (she spent large chunks of time in Jamaica in her childhood), who pursued initiation in the Order of the Golden Dawn, and clearly was a sophisticated channel by the time she was creating this landmark deck of tarot cards. Free-spirited, unmarried, and living a bohemian lifestyle, she was thoroughly knowledgeable about music, theatre, and dance in London. All of these artistic elements were incorporated into her drawings as she rendered the import of the lower arcana and the dense symbolism of the major arcana.
We will never know how much of the extraordinary symbolism of this deck should be credited to Waite and how much Smith initiated on her own. What is clear is that the combination of superior transcendent minds created a tool that spans the generations. We owe a great debt to Katz and Goodwin for filling in as many of the blanks as they have. This is a very interesting and enlightening tome complete with new insight about the card meanings. SHOP FOR THE BOOK
© 2015 Anna Jedrziewski and InannaWorks