The best books about the Esoteric Tarot

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a tarot devotee since my early teens and have offered both training and divinatory sessions using the tarot. My book on the fifteenth-century tarot deck known as the Sola-Busca, The Game of Saturn, was nominated The Best Esoteric Book of the Year and was reviewed in two of the world’s leading academic journals. My non-fiction is published by Inner Traditions and Scarlet Imprint; literary prose and poetry by Corbel Stone Press and Paralibrum. My essays on energy healing appear in the peer-reviewed Paranthropology Journal and the Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology as well as on my academia.edu page.


I wrote...

The Game of Saturn: Decoding the Sola-Busca Tarocchi

By Peter Mark Adams,

Book cover of The Game of Saturn: Decoding the Sola-Busca Tarocchi

What is my book about?

The fifteenth-century Sola-Busca tarocchi is one of the earliest and most artistically accomplished fully-figured tarot decks in existence. The Game of Saturn leads the reader, step by step, in a process of patient detective work to decode the clues embedded in its complex imagery. Decoded, the imagery reveals the Neoplatonic metaphysics and ritual practices of an elite Cult of Saturn active amongst the elite families of the Italian Renaissance.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Way of Tarot: The Spiritual Teacher in the Cards

Peter Mark Adams Why did I love this book?

The famed filmmaker and esotericist, Alejandro Jodorowsky, has poured decades of profound spiritual and divinatory understanding into this text to create one of the most significant systems for using the cards as a divinatory tool. Based on the Tarot d’Marseilles - arguably the stylistic form that constitutes the tarot’s most fundamental iconography - the text includes a comprehensive training system that can be used to provide a foundation for professional divinatory work.

By Alexandro Jodorowsky, Marianne Costa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Way of Tarot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Alejandro Jodorowsky's profound study of the Tarot, which began in the early 1950s, reveals it to be far more than a simple divination device. The Tarot is first and foremost a powerful instrument of self-knowledge and a representation of the structure of the soul. The Way of Tarotshows that the entire deck is structured like a temple, or a mandala, which is both an image of the world and a representation of the divine. The authors use the sacred art of the original Marseille Tarot--created during a time of religious tolerance in the 11th century--to reconnect with the roots of…


Book cover of The Esoteric Tarot: Ancient Sources Rediscovered in Hermeticism and Cabalah

Peter Mark Adams Why did I love this book?

Tarot scholar and art historian, Ronald Decker, provides a solid and up-to-date grounding in the history and esoteric sources that informed the design of the earliest tarot decks. Decker balances the demands of historical scholarship with esoteric insights derived from Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, and the Kabbalah to provide a foundational text in the various traditions underpinning the notion of an esoteric tarot.

By Ronald Decker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Esoteric Tarot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

That the Tarot originated in ancient Egypt as a divinatory tool is a romantic misconception. Ron Decker's meticulous scholarship will surprise practitioners and academics alike, revealing the Tarot's true evolution and meanings as its inventor(s) understood it.

The Tarot consists of the Minor Arcana, four suits of cards similar to our modern deck, and the Major Arcana, twenty-two allegorical or "trump" cards. Decker says the four-suit deck was invented in Asia Minor before AD 1000; Italian courtiers added the trumps in the 1400s. But Tarot was first used as a game. Tarot divination was only created in the 1700s by…


Book cover of The Book of Thoth: (Egyptian Tarot)

Peter Mark Adams Why did I love this book?

The Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot remains one of the greatest tarot decks ever conceived in respect of the artistry employed in its design and the esoteric depth conveyed by its underlying system of metaphysics. Supervised personally by Aleister Crowley, one of the most important esotericists of the past century, this essay - suitable for advanced students - remains a tour de force in the evolving tradition of the esoteric tarot.

By Aleister Crowley, Frieda Harris (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Book of Thoth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"

The occult classic study of the tarot and as a key to all Western mystery traditions.

Used for many years by students of the occult for study of the tarot and as a key to all Western mystery traditions, The Book of Thoth is on the short list of must-have textbooks for modern students of the tarot and esoteric studies.

“The Tarot is a pictorial representation of the Forces of Nature as conceived by the Ancients according to a conventional symbolism. At first sight one would suppose this arrangement to be arbitrary, but it is not. It is necessitated…


Book cover of The Alchemical Tarot

Peter Mark Adams Why did I love this book?

This truly great, visionary re-conceptualisation of tarot imagery combines profound mystical insight with inspired artistry to render familiar tarot imagery through the transformative lens of alchemy. The Alchemical Tarot deck is one of the most outstandingly beautiful and inspiring decks in existence. Based on my own initiatory experience I can confirm that The Alchemical Tarot is an inspired, true, and faithful transmission of the esoteric current underpinning the notion of an esoteric tarot.

By Rosemary E. Guiley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Alchemical Tarot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Robert Place's Tarot deck, beautifully illustrated in the style of original Renaissance alchemical art, takes you deep into the alchemical mysteries--and unlocks their secrets.


Book cover of Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey Into Christian Hermeticism

Peter Mark Adams Why did I love this book?

This classic text is perhaps the single greatest work combining mysticism with the tarot; one that is viewed through the rarely revealed lens of Christian esoteric tradition. The text guides the reader through a series of extended meditations on each of the Tarot d’Marseilles trumps. Irrespective of your belief system, these meditations provide a valuable source of spiritual insight and a ladder in the evolution of one’s own spiritual path.

By Anonymous, Anonymous, Robert Powell (translator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Meditations on the Tarot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now in a fully corrected edition, one of the true spiritual classics of the twentieth century.

Published for the first time with an index and Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar’s afterword, this new English publication of Meditations on the Tarot is the landmark edition of one of the most important works of esoteric Christianity.

Written anonymously and published posthumously, as was the author’s wish, the intention of this work is for the reader to find a relationship with the author in the spiritual dimensions of existence. The author wanted not to be thought of as a personality who lived from…


You might also like...

Legacy of the Witch

By Kirsten Weiss,

Book cover of Legacy of the Witch

Kirsten Weiss Author Of The Mysteries of Tarot: A Work of the Imagination

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

When I joined the Peace Corps in the early nineties, I wasn’t allowed to take much luggage. I decided to bring a Tarot deck, figuring I’d finally have time to learn it while parked in an Estonian forest. That Tarot deck opened up a world of Renaissance mysticism and magic, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Tarot cards and readings feature prominently in many of my cozy mystery novels, not the least of which are the Tea and Tarot mysteries. Now my imaginary Tarot reader from that series, Hyperion Night, has recently written his own Tarot guidebook, The Mysteries of Tarot.

Kirsten's book list on how to read Tarot

What is my book about?

Seeker: As societies grow increasingly fragmented, hopelessness, nihilism, division, and despair are on the rise. But there is another way—a way of mystery and magic, of wholeness and transformation. Do you dare take the first step? Our path is not for the faint-hearted, but for seekers of ancient truths...

Legacy of the Witch is a spellbinding, interactive tale of a woman’s midlife quest to understand the complexities of her own heart. A paranormal women’s fiction murder mystery for anyone who’s wondered if there might be more to their own life than meets the eye…

Legacy of the Witch

By Kirsten Weiss,

What is this book about?

Seeker: As societies grow increasingly fragmented, hopelessness, nihilism, division and despair are on the rise. But there is another way—a way of mystery and magic, of wholeness and transformation. Do you dare take the first step? Our path is not for the faint-hearted, but for seekers of ancient truths.

All April wants is to start over after her husband’s sudden death. She’s conjuring a new path—finally getting her degree and planning her new business in bucolic Pennsylvania Dutch country. Joining an online mystery school seems like harmless fun.

But when a murdered man leaves her a cryptic message, she catches…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in tarot, tarot cards, and divination?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about tarot, tarot cards, and divination.

Tarot Explore 56 books about tarot
Tarot Cards Explore 11 books about tarot cards
Divination Explore 23 books about divination