Mystical Origins of the Tarot: From Ancient Roots to Modern Usage

Excerpts & Samples

By Paul Huson

Publisher : Inner Traditions/Bear & Company

ABOUT Paul Huson

Paul Huson
Paul Huson has been a student of the tarot for over 40 years. He received initial esoteric training from the Society of the Inner Light in London and he later studied the methods of the Order of the Golden Dawn. He is the author of a number of books, including Mastering Witchcraft, in prin More...



A profusely illustrated history of the occult nature of the tarot from its origins in ancient Persia

• Thoroughly examines the original historical source for each tarot card and how the cards’ divinatory meanings evolved from these symbols

• Provides authentic 18th- and 19th-century spreads and divination techniques

• Reveals the divinatory meanings of the cards as understood by diviners in the Middle Ages and Renaissance

The origins of the tarot have been lost in the mists of time. Most scholars have guessed that its origins were in China, Egypt, or India. In Mystical Origins of the Tarot, Paul Huson has expertly tracked each symbol of the Minor Arcana to roots in ancient Persia and the Major Arcana Trump card images to the medieval world of mystery, miracle, and morality plays. A number of tarot historians have questioned the use of the tarot as a divination tool prior to the 18th century. But the author demonstrates that the symbolic meanings of the Major Arcana were evident from the time they were first employed in the mid-15th century in the popular divination practice of sortilege. He also reveals how the identities of the court cards in the Minor Arcana were derived from a blend of pagan and medieval sources that strongly influenced their interpretation in tarot divination.

Mystical Origins of the Tarot provides a thorough examination of the original historical source for each card and how the cards’ divinatory meanings evolved from these symbols. Huson also provides concise and practical card-reading methods designed by the cartomancers of the 18th and 19th centuries and reveals the origins of the card interpretations promoted by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and A. E. Waite.

“Thirty years ago, at the very start of the modern tarot renaissance, Paul Huson showed us how to uncover the mythical images and truths of the tarot. Now he has returned to incorporate modern scholarship into a visionary new concept for deciphering the mystery of the tarot’s origins and meaning.”
Rachel Pollack, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Book of Tarot

“Paul Huson brings to his quest for the origins of tarot the insight of an accomplished practitioner and the scholarship of a dedicated historical detective. The result is a fascinating ‘biography’ of the tarot images, tracking their shifting forms and attributions from their earliest appearances. Mystical Origins of the Tarot will undoubtedly be a classic in the field of tarot studies.”
Robert Moss, author of Conscious Dreaming and Dreamgates and creator of the “Tarot for Dreamers” study course

"Huson has produced the most enjoyable and fascinating history of the Tarot."
Paul Hughes-Barlow, Supertarot, September 2004

"For people interested in traditional cartomacy, this book is the best source we have in English. . ."
Sherryl Smith, American Tarot Association, October 2004

". . . a well researched, well written resource that allows [readers] to follow the origins and development of Tarot. . ."
Bonnie Cehovet, World Tarot Network, 2004

"If you already have some knowledge of the various cards, and some experience in reading, you will find Huson's scholarly analysis and deconstruction of Tarot mythology invaluable."
Kevin Filan, Mysteries Magazine, Feb-Apr 2006

"Mystical Origins of the Tarot is Huson's most solid work to date, and I highly recommend it to all serious students of tarot."
Psyche, Spiral Nature, July 2007