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BellaOnline's Tarot Editor


The Buddha Tarot Deck & Book Companion : A Review

Guest Author - June Kaminski

The Buddha Tarot by Robert M. PlaceRenowned artist and tarot scholar/writer Robert M. Place has produced a masterpiece in his new tarot deck, the Buddha Tarot. His 384 page companion book, The Buddha Tarot Companion: A Mandala of Cards is truly that - the perfect companion for this deck. Both afford a rich unique perspective of the Tarot through the lens of the Buddhist paradigm. The deck comes in a beautifully illustrated box containing exquisitely designed cards that fit perfectly in my hand, a tiny black gossamer bag plus a bordered little white box with the instructions, "Embellish this box with protective and/or empowering symbols." Other suggestions that greet you as you begin your journey with the Buddha cards include: "Smudge with sage to cleanse and re-energize the cards after a reading." and "Store your deck with stones or crystals that absorb negative energy, promote healing, or provide protective energy." Also included in the box is a mini-book with guidelines on reading these particular cards. Both items are published by Llewellyn, who as always, have taken great care to ensure quality and aesthetics in the way the cards are packaged and presented.

Click for Larger version of The Buddha Tarot Chakra cardRobert has done an amazing job in correlating the life of the Buddha with the Tarot journey through the cards. He describes how the Major Arcana fits perfectly with the life of Siddhartha and his journey of enlightenment. Each of the tarot trumps is a stage on the mystic's journey to enlightenment. In fact, it is Mr. Place's belief that the creators of the Tarot were directly influenced by the life of the Buddha, and incorporated archetypes into the Major Arcana based on his journey. He teaches that the ancient wisdoms were not isolated from one another. Instead, "the classical world maintained communications with India and the ancient Western philosophers were familar with Indian philosophies." As well, the Islamic world introduced the Christians to the life of the Buddha during the Middle Ages. "The European Christians were enamored with the story, and they transformed him into a Christian saint - St. Josaphat."

I was fascinated by the titles given to the Major Arcana cards. As just mentioned, each of the 23 cards reflect an important aspect of the Siddhartha's personal journey to become the enlightened one, the Buddha.

Major Arcana

Descent from Tusita Heaven Card 0 0. The Fool
Asita The Seer I. The Magician
Maya The Mother II. The High Priestess
Yasodhara The Future Empress IV. The Empress
Siddhartha The Future Emperor V. The Emperor
Suddhodhana The Father VI. The Hierophant
Siddhartha and
Lovers VII. The Lovers
Siddhartha's Visit Chariot VIII. The Chariot
Karma Justice IX. Justice
The Old Man and
the Sadhu
Hermit X. The Hermit
Reincarnation Wheel of Life XI. The Wheel of Fortune
Siddhartha cuts his Hair Strength XII. Strength
The Invalid The Suffering Man XIII. The Hanged Man
The Corpse Death XIV. Death
The Middle Path Justice XV. Justice
Mara Demon XVI. The Devil
The Flaming Disk Challenge XVII. The Tower
The Chakras The Morning Star XVIII. The Star
Wesak The Full Moon XIX. The Moon
Buddha and Sakti Union XX. The Sun
The First Sermon Avatar XXI. Judgement
White Tara Completion XXII. The World
Parinirvana Nirvana XXIII. Total Nirvana

The Minor Arcana add an equally intriguing view of Buddhist belief. Each of the four suits reflect a different aspect of the Buddha belief system and mythology, offering a fascinating lens for tarot interpretation.

Click for Larger version of The Buddha Tarot Strength card

Minor Arcana

Swords Vajras King Buddhas
Wands Lotuses Queen Saktis
Coins Jewels Knight Animal Guardian
Cups Double Vajras Pages Dakini

The essence attributed to each of the four suits is similar to Western tradition, yet offers a decidedly Eastern flavor to the mix:

Minor Arcana Suits

Buddha: Aksobhya
direction: East
color: blue
element: Air
function: Thinking
Sakti: Lokana
animal: Elephant
Dakini: Vajradakini
symbol: Diamond
Buddha: Amitabha
direction: West
color: red
element: Fire
function: Feeling
Sakti: Pandara
animal: Peacock
Dakini: Padmadakini
Symbol: Lotus
Buddha: Amoghasiddhi
direction: North
color: green
element: Water
function: Intuition
Sakti: Tara
animal: Garuda
Dakini: Visvadakini
symbol: Double Diamond
Buddha: Ratnasambhava
direction: South
color: yellow
element: Earth
function: Sensation
Sakti: Mamaki
animal: Horse
Dakini: Ratnadakini
symbol: Jewel

Robert Place has created a deck that not only meets the needs of people who practice Eastern beliefs. He also acts as a mediator to help people of the Western world learn about and appreciate the noble tenets of Buddhism and its teachings for life. I highly recommend this deck - I found it very easy to follow, the graphics are amazingly detailed and artistically rendered and the companion book clearly helps you to learn to "read" using a Buddhist world view.

Click for Larger version of The Buddha Tarot Wesak cardPURCHASE INFORMATION:


Robert M. Place's Buddhist Tarot Site: http://thealchemicalegg.com/Buddha.html

Llewellyn Site: http://www.llewellyn.com/bookstore/book.php?pn=J441

Reach for the moon with Llewellyn, America's oldest New Age publisher

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Content copyright © 2015 by June Kaminski. All rights reserved.
This content was written by June Kaminski. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Linda J. Paul for details.


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