“During the first century of the Christian Era, Christians were honoring other Christians who had died and prayed for their intercession. However, honoring saints is not a practice created by the Church; it was part of Christianity from the very beginning—a natural practice of Christian people.” – From the companion book
One of the reasons I purchased the Tarot of the Saints was because I was reading material about Christian mysticism—in particular, Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle. I wanted to expand my knowledge of Christian mystics and saints, so I thought the Tarot of the Saints would be a great opportunity to learn more—especially since I love Tarot and because Robert Place has a solid reputation as a scholar. I began reading the 248-page companion book, excited that it was full of historical and anecdotal information about Gnosticism, early Christianity, mystics, saints, and Tarot itself. A few chapters into it, I decided to look up Teresa of Avila, dubbed St. Therese in the Tarot of the Saints deck, who was the object of the The Star card. I was pleased to discover new (to me) information on Teresa, as well as The Star itself. (One sticking point: He claims her feast day to be October 3—but it’s actually October 15.)
Some of the saints, such as St. Blandina, I’ve never heard of—and some were notably absent from this deck (St. Bernadette). St. Stephen represents card 13, known in this deck as Martyrdom (rather than Death).
The companion book—A Gnostic Book of Saints—covers a lot of territory, including mystery religions, Greek philosophy, Gnostic theology, Pythagorean numerology, and Tarot history. Place even covers the four humors and Jungian types—but, curiously, he associates Cups with intuition and Wands with feelings—rather than the other way around.
Place provides bio of the saints depicted on the Major Arcana, as well as relevant information on the particular card and a brief commentary on general Tarot wisdom (interpretation). While Place dedicates about a page an a half to the saints on the Court Cards, the Pips are given anywhere from two sentences to one paragraph worth of treatment. For example, the only description given for the 6 of Cups is “Christ washes St. Peter’s feet. This card represents love, nurturing, and humility.”
The deck itself is austere, with most of the bland, monochromatic coloring “shaded” with black lines. The Majors depict the number and name of the card, as well as the Saint. Specific saints are also shown on the Court Cards, which are Squire, Knight, Queen and Queen. The Minor suits are Staffs, Cups, Swords and Coins. A thin purple border frames the Majors, while the Staffs are framed in red, the Swords in blue, the Cups in green, and the Coins in gold. The stylized backing, illustrating three distinct motifs, makes the cards nonreversible.
• St. Nicholas – The Magician
• St. Peter – The Pope
• St. Catherine – Wheel of Fortune
• St. Benedict – Temperance
• St. Barbara – The Tower
• Christ – The Sun
• St. Sophia – The World
• St. John – Knight of Cups
• St. Joan of Arc – Queen of Swords
• St. Jude – King of Coins
• St. Roch – Squire of Staffs
If you’re a fan of Place’s artwork and his style of writing, or are enthusiastic about learning more about Saints, Gnosticism, and Greek philosophy, you’ll likely enjoy Tarot of the Saints. I’ve found it to be an insightful deck for meditation and one-card draws.
Below are 10 images from this deck:
Tarot of the Saints by Robert M. Place © 2001. Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. 2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125-2989. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the publisher.
Content copyright © by Janet Boyer. All rights reserved. This review was written by Janet Boyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission.