Renowned 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.
Robert 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.
|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|
| The Old Man and |
|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.
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|
| Buddha: Amitabha|
| Buddha: Amoghasiddhi|
symbol: Double Diamond
| Buddha: Ratnasambhava|
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.
Robert M. Place's Buddhist Tarot Site: http://thealchemicalegg.com/Buddha.html
Llewellyn Site: http://www.llewellyn.com/bookstore/book.php?pn=J441