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Recommended Tarot Books

The Best of the Bunch

These are books I have found very useful and I recommend all of them to my students. I have linked to Amazon for ease of purchase, but I always recommend that my students patronize local new age and occult bookstores whenever possible (and here is a list of Baltimore/DC stores that sell decks, books, and other great stuff). They cannot stay in business without the support of locals, so do try to spend your money with them whenever possible.

General


Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Book of Tarot
by Rachel Pollack
This is the bible of Tarot—a deep, scholarly, yet very practical book.
Paperback

Tarosophy (Tarot to Engage Life, Not Escape It)
by Marcus Katz
Marcus runs the excellent Tarot Professionals Facebook group and you can’t go wrong reading any of his books on Tarot. But this is one of his best. The print edition is expensive and hard-to-find, so I’m only listing the ebook.
Ebook only via Amazon

Tarot for Your Self: A Workbook for Personal Transformation
by Mary K. Greer
All of Mary’s books are insightful and comprehensive. And be sure to visit her website, which is chock full of information.
Paperback / Kindle

Learning the Tarot: A Tarot Book for Beginners
by Joan Bunning
As you might expect, a great book for beginners.
Paperback / Kindle

The New Tarot Handbook: Master the Meanings of the Cards
by Rachel Pollack
A short, concise look at the Waite-Smith Tarot, useful for beginners but also for advanced readers.
Paperback / Kindle

Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth
by Benebell Wen
This recent book is encyclopedic and covers an enormous amount of material. It’s too heavy on spreads for my taste, but worth acquiring for its breadth.
Paperback / Kindle

Meditations on the Tarot
by Anonymous
Not by any means a standard “how to read cards” book, but a deeply spiritual work that uses the Tarot as introduction to esoteric Christian Hermeticism filtered via an unorthodox Roman Catholic perspective. Definitely not for everyone, but if the description piques your interest, pick it up—its insights are revelatory.
Paperback / Kindle

History


The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination

by Robert Place
A thorough, well-researched history by a renowned artist and author. It covers the documented  history but isn’t afraid to explore the possible esoteric content in the early decks—a subject often pooh-poohed by more traditional academics.
Paperback / Kindle

Mystical Origins of the Tarot: From Ancient Roots to Modern Usage
by Paul Huson
Another solid history book, and Huson goes into depth about the Neoplatonic, Hermetic, and other esoteric symbolism.
Paperback / Kindle

A Wicked Pack of Cards: Origins of the Occult Tarot
by Michael Dummett and Ronald Decker
A classic academic text.
Hardcover

History of the Occult Tarot
by Michael Dummett and Ronald Decker
Another academic work by Dummett and Decker, this one showing the fascinating story of how the cards transformed from a game to an occult oracle. Only available used, but well worth picking up.
Paperback

Secrets of the Waite-Smith Tarot: The True Story Behind the World’s Most Popular Tarot
by Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin
If you use the Waite-Smith (aka Rider-Waite) deck, this book opens many new insights into the remarkable duo of Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman “Pixie” Smith.
Paperback / Kindle

Esotericism, the Occult, and Magic


The Magical World of the Tarot: Fourfold Mirror of the Universe

by Gareth Knight
All of Knight’s books on the Tarot are worth reading, but this is my favorite. It teaches you to approach the cards as spiritual beings through meditations and visualizations. Whether you believe in such things or not, the exercises are tremendously useful. If your interests lie in the magical use of Tarot and using the cards as a spiritual practice, grab everything Gareth Knight writes. Unlike other approaches to magic, Knight’s is eminently safe.
Paperback / Kindle

Tarot Magic: The Treasure House of Images (Second Edition)
by Gareth Knight
Another superb book by Knight. It complements The Magical World of Tarot (above) and elaborate on his Fourfold Structure of the Major Arcana that is well worth studying in depth. He also introduced pathworkings as well as a number of rituals.
Paperback

The Underground Stream: Esoteric Tarot Revealed
by Christine Payne-Towler
A flawed but important and comprehensive book. Just keep your salt shaker handy and cross-check its claims. See my full review.
Paperback

The Magician’s Kabbalah: Kabbalah as an Initiatory Path illustrated by Tarot
by Marcus Katz
If you really want to go deep into the Kabbalistic Tarot, Marcus will take you there. A superb introduction to this joining of Hermetic Kabbalah to the 78 cards.
Paperback / Kindle

The Golden Dawn: The Original Account of the Teachings, Rites & Ceremonies of the Hermetic Order
by Israel Regardie
Includes all the degrees, rituals, study materials of this influential occult order that made the Tarot one of its central organizing models. I would advise waiting until the upcoming revised version comes out, as it is edited by my friend, the Archdruid John Michael Greer.
Pre-order the Hardcover

The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot: Keys to the Rituals, Symbolism, Magic and Divination
by Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero
This book is meant to be used with the Cicero’s Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot cards (also known as the Golden Dawn Magical Tarot). The Ciceros created a faithful deck from the guidelines in the Golden Dawn’s Book T, so if the Golden Dawn is your thing, you might like working with this deck and book. Includes a number of standard Golden Dawn rituals (and some new ones) using cards.
Paperback

The Book of Thoth
by Aleister Crowley
A masterwork on the Kabbalistic Tarot and vital if you use Crowley’s Thoth deck. It’s dense, it may hurt your head, but this is a book you can study for the rest of your life and still find surprises.
Paperback

Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot
by Lon Milo DuQuette
If you try to read Crowley’s Thoth book but want to throw it against a wall, try this easy-to-understand and witty guide to the deck. As a bonus, it introduces you to the basics of Crowley’s religion of Thelema, which is important for understanding the philosophy and symbolism of this extraordinarily symbolic deck.
Paper / Kindle

Portable Magic: Tarot Is the Only Tool You Need
by Donald Tyson
A very advanced book for those who really want to explore magic.
Paperback / Kindle

CBD Tarot Magician

Magician from the CBD Tarot de Marseille

Tarot de Marseille

The Way of Tarot: the Spiritual Teacher in the Cards 
by Alejandro Jodorowsky
If you want to read using the Tarot de Marseille this is a must-have. One of the best books about Tarot ever written. Deep, philosophical, yet incredibly practical teachings from a true visionary. I recommend the paperback version over the Kindle, because you will likely refer to this book over and over again, and the format of the paper book makes it much easier to browse.
Paperback / Kindle

Tarot – The Open Reading
by Yoav-Ben Dov
Another must-have if you decide to explore the Tarot de Marseille. Also useful for free-form spreads and readings “outside the box” with any deck. Ben Dov’s “open reading” style is very similar to the process I teach.
Paperback / Kindle

Reading the Marseille Tarot
by Jean-Michel David
A self-paced course utilizing the Jean Noblet (1650) deck. Heavy on the history with some very interesting insights and speculation.
Paperback and Ebook at Lulu.com

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