The Spirit of the Tarot
The Search for God's Picturebook

Card of the Day

Xultun Tarot

Blind and Foolish “With his left hand the Fool points forward in childlike curiosity, fingers apart, as if to indicate that he might only be able to see just so much. In Maya art, this pressing of his wrist to his forehead is a gesture of despair at the approach of impending death. In many tarot the Fool is blindfolded and seems quite happy in his blindness. Psychologically, this blindness is a necessary aspect of the Fool and it symbolizes both his lack of, and need for, consciousness. ” (Owen, Michael. The Maya Book of Life: Understanding the Xultun Tarot, p. 130. Kahurangi Press. Kindle Edition.)

Peter Bain
Arcana Publishing Co.

Copyright Peter Bain 1976-2019. Used with permission.


Welcome to the online exhibition The Spirit of the Tarot: The Search for God’s Picturebook, our journey into the Tarot.

This exhibit explores the religious and spiritual aspects of the Tarot over the past 500 years From a game and an image based story-telling tool, the cards became a way to perceive the future and a tool for meditation and personal development. A reading of the cards can suggest alternative views or approaches to a situation. Meditation on a card  provides insights, both in thoughts and for action. Study enhances insight into oneself and the world.

By the late 20th century, the images on the cards continue to be reinterpreted in ways that followed or altered the traditional images, becoming broader, sometimes more specific, as well as reflecting contemporary currents of thought.  

Some decks embrace educational themes, from the matter of the universe to the roots of Voodoo; others are spiritual and aspirational, a way to focus meditation and mindfulness; some show elegant symbolism, representing different traditions as well as completely new worlds; and others are simply fun.

The cards tend to express the non-rational, philosophic sides of Western and other cultures.  Recent works continue along an intuitive approach to life and spirit, to counter materialism and to a certain extent, traditional “male” perspectives. Terms like the “unconscious” and “superconsciousness” are often used.

Here there is an impressive expression of art, imagination, and inspiration:

Some sad – Pamela Colman Smith, 1878-1951, artist for the Smith-Waite deck, dying broke;  

Some expected – Salvador Dali as a Magician; 

Much thoughtfulness – the Buddha and Indian Tarots (and really most decks); 

Great mysteries – Ithel Colquhoun’s Taro; 

Loving imagery – the Mary and Black Madonna decks by Hettienne Grobler; 

Biographical – from the Women of Science to the Bay Area Tarot

Great spirits – the animals and nature in decks by Emi Brady and Kim Krans; 

Surviving occult traditions – Cabala, Rosicrucian, Alchemy, The Golden Dawn, Sacred Geometry;  

Fun – the Silicon Valley Tarot (where’s the empty suit?); 

Kickstarter cards – funding for creating and publishing many independent decks (and the surprising MIT Independent Tarot collection);

Wonderful art –  Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s Tarot of the Crone (just one of many examples); 

How to learn world mythology – The Mythic Tarot, Sol Invictus, Pistis Sophia, Tarot of the Divine

Complex figurative imagery – Tarot of the Old Path;

Adaptability – the way the Tarot works with most every situation.

In all, a reminder of the sacred within the ordinary and in the extraordinary.

David Stiver, Special Collections Librarian, March 13, 2023


Quote of the Week
Meditations on the Tarot ranks in a category far beyond that of the numerous examples of second-rate occult literature. As a whole it comprises solely meditations. Also, it refrains from giving any concrete indications as to how the “occult” sciences could be practiced under the aegis of Christian wisdom. Presumably any kind of general, exoteric indication did not come into question at all for the author.

Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar ,“Afterword,” Anonymous (Valentin Tomberg, d.1973), Meditations on the Tarot, Robert Powell, translator, 1985-2002, 655.

Signs and Symbols


Tree of Life forthcoming

Magician, University


Virtues forthcoming

Fool-Women of Science





New Age

The World forthcoming