Review by Solandia
"Unlock the penetrating truth of the Book of Revelation and unveil the hidden Gnostic wisdom of the Bible. Discover and utilize the authentic nature and power of the Tarot, a spiritual tool until now shrouded by centuries by secrecy and superstition."
The Book of Revelation is the last book of the New Testament, describing the story of the final judgement and damnation of mankind – Armageddon and the conflict between Satan/evil and God/good. Other imagery from this text familiar to us are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the red dragon, and 666 as the mark of the beast.
According to author Christopher Earnshaw, of the Edgar Cayce Centre in Japan, there are three ways to interpret the text of the Book of Revelation. 1) Through the symbolic interpretation of the imagery believing it tells the story of Christianity; 2) Through literal interpretation, that is a historical account that has happened or will happen; 3) As representing a spiritual road map, which shows how to achieve oneness with God. This third interpretation, of which American psychic Edgar Cayce was a proponent, provided the main impetus for the Tarot of the Revelation cards, and this book.
Earnshaw takes Tarot back to what he considers their older Christian and Gnostic roots, going past the Rider-Waite or Marseilles structure all the way back to the Bible, linking the 22 trumps to the 22 chapters of the Book of Revelation. He first noticed that there were the same number of chapters as trump cards, and that both Tarot and the Book of Revelation “both started with a solitary man”. Then he discovered other coincidences, and after much study, found 18 of the Tarot images in the text - matching Temperance’s angel, the World, Judgement and the Tower for example - though the remaining four weren’t directly apparent.
The trumps of his Tarot deck, created to accompany the book, Tarot of the Revelation, have also been reordered into sets of seven. The sets represent John’s enlightenment in Chapters 1 – 13, Man’s poor spiritual condition in Chapters 11 – 18, and the “conflict that occurs when opens the chakras to bring about the evolved man”. In order the cards are: Magician, Emperor, High Priestess, Wheel of Fortune, Chariot, Moon, Temperance, Empress, Devil, Justice, Strength, Hierophant, Tower, Death, Hermit, Marriage (Lovers), Judgement, Sun, World, Hanged Man, and Star. The Fool (0) is set aside from the three sequences of seven. The minor arcana are also unique to this deck and have suits of Trumpets (Wands/Air), Churches (Coins/Earth), Cups (Vials/Water), and Candles (Swords/Fire).
Earnshaw’s approach to Tarot is spiritual and serious. He addresses the concerns of some Christian readers upfront - who may carry the belief that the Tarot is the ‘Devil’s Bible’ or a tool of Satan - by explaining that he sees the Tarot as a ‘way to get a querent to look at his or her problem in a different light, to learn from it and so to grow spiritually’. He doesn’t believe in predestination or that fortunetelling is possible with Tarot – therefore, the Bible’s injunction’s against fortune-telling really doesn’t apply to Tarot cards.
Earnshaw writes that “the original objective of Tarot cards must have been as a visual retelling of the Gnostic secrets”. Gnosticism has its origins in Persian Zoroastrianism, and was introduced to Europe as a result of the Crusades, but was suppressed during the religious inquisitions of the later Middle Ages. He believes that the oral traditions of Gnostic sects were put to paper - in the form of Tarot cards – to preserve them in the Middle Ages, when religious intolerance and persecution faced those sects with extermination.
This 240-page book was self-published in January 2005, by Christopher Earnshaw, to accompany cards that are to come later in the year. Despite lack of interest from publishers, he persevered and engineered its publication himself, believing the spiritual lessons and exercises to be too important to not publish. It contains background and a history of the Book of Revelation, traditional and Revelations meanings for the cards, plenty of explanatory information for those unfamiliar with biblical, metaphysical or Caycean references, and even has a Japanese translation in the back.
The book has the following sections:
Introduction to the Tarot of the Revelation (Part 1)
Does the Bible forbid divination?
Is the Tarot a tool of the Devil?
How to give better Tarot readings
The traditional meanings of the cards
The Minor Arcana
The Four Suits of the Minor Arcana
The Court Cards
Keywords for the Minor Arcana
The generally accepted history of the Tarot
The SEAL: Read this before breaking the seal
Introduction to the Tarot of the Revelation (Part 2)
Edgar Cayce’s Introduction to the Interpretation of the Book of Revelation
The History of the Book of Revelation
Concerning apocalyptic literature
The importance of the Book of Revelation
Map of Europe at the time of John the Baptist
A new theory on the authorship of the Book of Revelation and how it affects the history of Tarot
The structure of the Tarot of the Revelation
The Fool’s transcendental journey
The Major Arcana of the Tarot of the Revelation
The Minor Arcana
He that hath an ear
Numerology in the Book of Revelation
Special attributes of the number seven
Time symbolism in the cards
Exercises for Spiritual Growth
Seven Spiritual exercises
Cayce’s 'Lord’s Prayer'
The Revelation Meditation
Sacred Names and Affirmations
Four Revelation Layouts
Part Five: References
Book of Revelation References
Edgar Cayce References
Notes of the Images of the Cards
Edgar Cayce’s version of the Book of Revelation
The Revelation of St John the Divine
The Tarot of the Revelation is an interesting concept, historically and symbolically linking the Bible’s Book of Revelation with the structure and imagery of Tarot cards. The book and its cards are a serious tool for spiritual growth, for the advanced Tarot reader or the motivated beginner.
Kate Hill (also known as Solandia) is the founder and editor of Aeclectic Tarot, and has reviewed more than 200 decks over the years.