The Alchemical Visions Tarot
This tarot project began with a visit to a psychologist friend. She had a small basket filled with Tarot cards used in therapy sessions for role playing. As our conversation turned to the history and psychological significance of the Tarot and the literature associated with it, (like Charles Williams’ novel The Greater Trumps), I found very few of the contemporary decks fulfilled their ancient mystical role. It seemed to me that in their attempts at popularization and mass appeal, the designers robbed the cards of both their significance and their power. They were “friendly,” not challenging. Reacting to my carping with a smile, my friend gave me the challenge of correcting the situation.
I learned that Tarot cards appeared in Europe in the mid-15th century and were used in a variety of Italian and French card games. By the 17th century, occultists and mystics of various stripes, finding them a useful map of spiritual pathways and charts for mystical mental development, began using them for divination and other esoteric pursuits.
Today’s “original” Tarot deck is the Rider-Waite deck, published in 1910, drawn by Pamela Coleman Smith under the direction of the academic mystic A. E. Waite. While the designs are relatively simple, there is a wealth of symbolism in the backgrounds and in various details. However, much of the symbolism of previous decks, for instance the heavy references to mystical Christianity, was eliminated.
My intention in designing a deck was to restore the ancient mystical aspects of the cards, to reinvest them with psychological importance while still honoring the 21st century’s social and political environment. I studied not only the Rider-Waite deck, but other decks of a divinatory, esoteric, and occult nature (including Aleister Crowley’s contributions and the so-called Tarot de Marseille from 15th century Italy). In addition, I consulted many books written on the Tarot ranging from the downright silly to in-depth psychological interpretations by Jungian scholars.
While I based much on the Rider-Waite deck, I have also expanded it, restoring much of the ancient symbolism and extended many of the cards’ meanings to include the Kabbalistic, astrological, and alchemical implications of the cards. My deck also reduces the sexism and racism of many previous decks. My goal was to produce a Tarot deck that would encompass a depth of meaning that would span from times ancient into the 21st century.
Arthur Taussig, 2020
Decks & Prints Available For Purchase
The Alchemical Visions Tarot featured on this page have been published into an oversized deck available for purchase at Weiser Books and other book retailers.
Contact the artist for limited edition giclée prints.