About the American Tarot

The American Tarot is an adaptation of the deck created in 1909 by Pamela Smith and Arthur Waite.  As such, it is part of a tradition that stretches back centuries into western mysticism. The tarot has roots as a 15th century Italian card game. The word tarot comes form the Italian “tarocci” meaning foolishness. It is still played as a leisure activity similar to the bridge card game.

At the turn of the last century these cards were also being used as divination tools by European occult circles. Seekers, spiritualists, and table turners all came to the 78 card deck seeking its intuitive wisdom. In this context Smith and Waite updated the ancient tarot for 20th century Europe. A century later, the American Tarot updates the tarot once again.  The following two cards exemplify tarot adaption through its 700 year history.

 

The Magician

The Magician, like all tarot archetypes, has changed throughout his 700 year history. 
His wand has changed from a tool, to a magicial conduit of divine energy, to the incredibly powerful device we call a smart phone.

15th c. Tarot of Marseilles

20th c. Smith-Waite Tarot

21st c. American Tarot

The Magician

 

The Seven of Coins

Coins, like all suits in the tarot, have changed throughout their 700 year history.
They have progressed from agricultural tokens, to magical talismans of abundance, to powerful financial currency.

15th c. Tarot of Marseilles

20th c. Smith-Waite Tarot

21st c. American Tarot

The Seven of Coins

The tarot's potential wisdom lies in arranging the forces of contemporary life so its imagery must also be contemporary. The examples above show how much our world has changed in the century since Smith and Waite created their deck. It is once again time to update the imagery of the tarot.  The American Tarot answers this call.

The American Tarot casts old esoteric imagery aside in favor of objects from contemporary daily life. It is made for a world connected by powerful technology (swords) and shaped by global markets (coins). It is made for our journey through this world as compassionate creatures (cups) with a sense of wonder and a desire for some insight about our place in the universe (wands).

 

Further Reading

The American Tarot companion text is available to those seeking more on its history, imagery, or practice.  The companion text includes the following:


●  The case for a new tarot
●  In depth card descriptions
●  Illustrations & diagrams
●  Notes on Éliphas Lévi and the Astral Light
●  The “secret" wisdom of the tarot