Rhapsodies of the Bizarre—Origin of Occult Tarot

In the 18th-century two French Freemasons turned a French pack of cards, used to play a version of an old Italian card-game,  into the ancient Egyptian Book of Thoth. Some card trick, huh?
There are a lot of books out there that claim to reveal the truth and the mysteries of Tarot. However, none of those books gets to the roots of things, to examine the facts of how and why Tarot became the pack of cards (or the many packs of cards) we have today.

Rhapsodies of the Bizarre looks at those facts, of what happened and what was imagined, and provides a unique opportunity for students of Tarot occultism, or those interested in Tarot symbolism, to learn why things look like they do and why they mean what they do in Tarot.

In the beginning, Tarot was a card game. For centuries, while people played games with the Tarot cards, they also employed them for other uses, such as casting spells and telling fortunes. A popular, folk tradition developed using Tarot cards.

However, that tradition had no written record, no books or instructions explaining how it worked.

It was in the 18th century that a written tradition was established, with the publication of two essays, by two French Freemasons. Everything Tarot has come to be is rooted in those essays and the ideas they expressed about Tarot.

Rhapsodies of the Bizarre is a translation into English of those essays, and even more importantly, the book contains numerous notes explaining what the texts, dense with allusions to ancient mythological metaphors and French cultural memes, actually mean. Rhapsodies also explains how these texts were then used as the root ideas to evolve Tarot into what it is today—The Book of Thoth—or the ancient Egyptian book of all wisdom (known and unknown).

Read Rhapsodies of the Bizarre and learn how Tarot became an ancient Egyptian (and Kabbalistic) book of magic.

Here is an excerpt from the notes section of the book, explaining how the card, The High Priestess, came into being, through the invention of Antoine Court de Gébelein (referenced as CdG below), one of the authors of the essays translated in Rhapsodies:

High Priestess—CdG is claiming he sees this figure of the High Priestess, regardless of the traditional title of the card, which had been La Papessa/Papesse (Popess) since the mid-15th century in Italy, and which was not, as he claims, instead a corruption added later by Germans. Even though CdG is very clear about saying he is reading the original text of a palimpsest, and so through a layer of Christian scribbles, there has been some confusion about this because of the misdating of at least one deck clearly based upon CdG’s ideas. The Grand-Prêtre Tarot, which used CdG’s amended titles of High Priestess, and High Priest, was incorrectly dated by Catherine Perry Hargrave (in A History of Playing Cards, Dover 1966 reprint of 1930 edition, pages 34-37) to the early 18th century. Thus, it was believed at one time that CdG’s ideas about the evolution of the symbolism of these cards may have come from his having previously seen cards with the Egyptian titles. In other words, it was claimed, occult symbolism in Tarot could be shown by this to have preceded CdG’s invention by at least half a century. However, these Egyptianized cards are now thought to have been made after CdG’s essays were published, and in fact also contain his Hanged Man revision, XII-Prudence.