📙 The Illustrated Key to the Tarot: The Veil of Divination by L. W. De Laurence

Those reading The Illustrated Key to the Tarot this session (Spells8 Book Club VII ) are:


(if any others decide to read this book, they will be added in here as well)

:star: This thread is for you to chat, share, and discuss the book you are all enjoying! :star:

When this session ends, everyone is warmly invited to share their final review of The Illustrated Key to the Tarot in the communal Readers’ Review Post when it appears at the end of this reading session.

Happy reading and blessed be! :sparkles:


Greetings @mary25! :wave:

I’ve barely gotten started with the book yet- just made my way through the Prologue and am getting started on the Major Arcana section :flower_playing_cards:

Have you had a chance to read a bit yet? Would love to hear your thoughts so far! :grin::open_book:


I’d like to join in ready the Illustrated let to the tarot
By L W De Laurence.
I am not sure if this is where I sign up?
Thank you in advance and I’m happy to be joining in,
Thank you my fellow witches


Just read up the preface and skimmed a little bit of the bibliography and illustratins. The first thing that struck me was the date. I know it’s pure coincidence but 1918 is a date that has been on my mind so much during the pandemic because this publication came out the year of the Spanish Flu and WWI.

One charateristic of the Tarot that he mentinoed was a “harmony of meanings” in the symbolism of the cards. I think this is a quality that makes the Tarot so appealing, even to beginners, like myself. Many of the symbols are familiar (Western religion and Familiarity gives people a sense of comfort and competence. After all, the goal of divination is to find meaning where there is mystery. The symbols are related by the history of the symbols and their historical references but also some beliefs of the era among sects. It’s making me look at the Tarot a different way. More like an artifact of the mystical beliefs of the late 18th and early 19th century, not to mention a fascination with all things Egyptian that led to the Egyptian motifs in the decorative arts of the period, that coincided with a fascination with mysticism, seances, mediums, etc. That’s partly what makes the deck “so 1918” I think.

Anotther cultural reference he alludes to was all the tension that existed between believers of mysticism and the public exposure of charlatans that undermined those beliefs from the late 19th to early 20th century. So, that’s a historical context for his book, too.

But even though it appears in many ways to be an artifact of it’s time, I suppose the Rider Waite deck is also timeless because some of those symbols (Death, the Devil, arch angels, kings and queens) that were chosen (and were also found on some earlier decks, I understand) are long ingrained in Western art and literature, so that to this day people recognize those allegories. It’s just now, reading this, I see so much more of these symbols! The deck is def. less mysterious to me than it was.

I think what is so interesting about this book is that it provides a context for the deck by naming specific influencers, such as famous Theosophists of the day, and organizations central to its development. That is where I am so grateful to Wikipedia to understand his references. A pity he did not name the artist, Pamela Colman Smith but referred to her as the lady artist. Ah, well.

As I read this, little bits of French history I learned in college (I was a French lit major) started trickling back to me, so I started cross referencing it with some background reading and the history of the Tarot usage in 18th and 19th century France. Most of this is Wikipedia checks :slight_smile: I am fascinated with his reference to the Albigensians but it makes sense, considering he and Waite were Rosicrucians, more or less, being against the idea of a Pope, I believe. If they related to the Albigensian cause/plight then the crusade-like illustrations and ALL the symbolism basically knocking the Pope off his throne (Death Card, Tower Card, Hierophant, etc.). Hmm!

I personally believe religions have more in common than they do not and have great respect for the Catholic religion. But realizing the point of view for the deck, and learning Rider Waite was one of the founders of this sect, I pulled out my Rider Waite deck and now many of the symbols that were chosen are starting to make sense as they refer to Christian ideas and the Rosy Cross tenets (including anti-papism). For instance, the 7 of cups (which are clearly chalices). He doesn’t make mention of this in his description of the card, but if I had to guess, that image is a person being confronted or tempted with representations of the Seven Sins. Could that be righ? Now of course I recognize the host on the Ace of Cups card. But I only recognize the Christian references. I don’t know anything about the Kabbal, Masons, etc. and their symbols. I hope I learn abut the origin of symbols like the pentagram, wands, etc. and why they were selected.

What I am understanding so far is that symbolism was of the greatest importance to the author both in conveying the tenets of their sect, in providing allegories that people would recognize (providing a sense of affiliation), including Christian symbolism, and providing a point of reference for what people were intended to divine. The images were carefully selected and intended to convey specific messages in addition to individual interpretation. It’s going to be so interesting to learn what messages they were trying to convey to their adherents and the general public in 1918. In other words, my just buying a set of cards and going with my gut would not have been enough for the founders. They expected people to study and use the cards in a specific ways.


I apologize for having written a book about a book :roll_eyes:


Welcome, @judith5! :blush:

Yes, you are in the right place- thanks for joining in! :open_book: I’ve added you to the list here and also to the list on the main Book Club Session page (for all readers reading different books this session).

Feel free to begin reading and jump into the discussion here with your thoughts at any time! Looking forward to chatting about Tarot with you :flower_playing_cards: :sparkles:


You put this really well, Mary! :+1: The ‘mystery’ of the symbolism in tarot is one of the most interesting aspects of the cards in my opinion. I love reading books like these, because oftentimes different authors will include different interpretations for the symbols- a lot of how we interpret something is based on our culture, ties with religions, knowledge of history, etc.

Rather than being limiting, I think the endless possibilities for interpretation make tarot open to every reader. It is wonderful to hear and see how different readers interpret the symbolism! I am also excited to explore how the tarot cards related to the readers of 1918, while also keeping in mind that interpretations that related to people back then may no longer apply to readers today. I think its certain to say that tarot, like words, can change their overall meanings as the decades and centuries go by. It’s so interesting to think about! :star_struck:

Hahaha that’s exactly what this is discussion is for- it was a delight to read your thoughts so far! Thanks for sharing :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Reading your review made me excited to jump in further. I gotta get reading! :laughing:

I think I’ll read the book while having a deck next to me. I don’t have or use the Rider Waite deck, so it will be interesting to see how much of the symbolism of these cards can be found or tied in with designs in other decks.

How much of the symbolism is ‘mandatory’ for a card to be a tarot card? Does ever ‘Fool’ card have the same aura and energy, and if so- what pieces of symbolism make it that way? :thinking: :sparkles:

So much to explore when it comes to learning tarot! :grin::open_book:


You are by far the sweetest person ever Travel Witch, thank you I am trying to read in a littlr bit!


Awww, thanks @Jeannie1! Haha I can’t compete with how sweet you are :blush::heart: Good luck and enjoy your reading! :sparkles: :open_book:


Thankyou I did have a little trouble starting it, I have pushed through and am finally finding my way


Wow nice! I love occult books from that time period! They are always very philosophical oriented and very esoteric.

Ever heard of Book T? It is the basis of the Golden Dawn tarot system, and the whole of the English speaking tarot world nowadays is based on the Golden Dawn tarot ideas.


You’re very welcome, @judith5! :blush: Sometimes the hardest part of reading a book is opening it up- but once you get into it, I hope time flies by as you read! :open_book: Enjoy! :sparkles:

Agreed, @Volmarr! :grin: It is fascinating to see what magickal/philosophical/spiritual beliefs and customs have changed and what has carried through over time by reading old books :star_struck: Thanks for sharing Book T- I 'll have to check it out! :raised_hands:

If you love old books, I know Project Gutenberg has a whole collection of old books free to the public from that time period- if it’s something you are interested in, I recommend browsing through their catalog. You might be able to find some treasures there! :books::blush:


I am still working through the book :slight_smile: the prose is tough going for me…whew! But it’s interesting. I wish I knew what all the allusions to the different societies, etc. meant but on the other hand, I am getting the gist about the origins of Tarot cards and the differences between the versions. There is so much more symbolism in the drawings on the cards than I realized! It’s like every element was planned to have meaning, right down to how many stars are on the Star card, for example. I keep taking out the cards and looking at them as I read this.


You’re amazing, @mary25- things have been so crazy busy here lately that I haven’t had much time for reading! :scream: :open_book: I’ll see if I can sit down for a few minutes later today and get through at least a few more pages in the book :+1:

That’s a really interesting point! It makes me really appreciate the incredible design and detail that the artist’s put into each card :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: Tarot is one of those things where the more you learn, the more you realize how deep and vast the cards are- such a simple-looking picture holds the key to so much information! :star_struck:

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Friendly reminder time!

:grey_exclamation: The current reading period will end in one week :grey_exclamation:

A Reader’s Review post will appear in the forums in one week for everyone to share their thoughts and see what other coven members were reading.

I hope you are all finding The Illustrated Key to the Tarot to be an interesting read! I’m still working through it myself, and I’m looking forward to hearing everyone else’s thoughts on the book :open_book::blush:

Happy reading and blessed be! :sparkling_heart:


I feel a little silly because - duh! - there is a TAROT course on Spells 8. Silly me! So I am going over some of the history, etc. in the lessons. I don’t know who wrote these lessons but they are EXCELLENT. Now the references are a little clearer to me (e.g., I get who Elias Levi is now and how the Order of Hermetic Dawn differed and such from some of the other groups). I had just got through as far as the meanings of the cards in the text by the author we are reading now. I am going to cross reference his notes with the meanings in my little Rider Waite deck and in the Spells8 lessons and see if they match up this weekend. I hope they do because one challenge I am running into is that sometimes there are very different interpretations of some of the cards (e.g., on some of the “cheat sheets” I have looked at), depending on the source. Is one interpretation more “official” than another? Or is intuition and interpretation really the important thing (which may account for the variations?) Idk…back to the lessons! :slight_smile:


I believe that praise goes to the very talented @Francisco! :flower_playing_cards: He just completed the latest Tarot Lesson on the Ten of Cups- with a video, voice over, and written info, there’s a lot that goes into each one. I agree- they are a delight to learn from! :grin::+1:

I’ve seen the same thing when it comes to horscopes and reading the Zodiac, as well with Tasseology tea leaf readings. Many sources have information that can vary greatly from site to site. I agree- it can be really confusing! :confounded:

I think you’re very smart to cross check information across a variety of sources- that way, even if the details vary, you should be able to pick up on the most central and inherent themes of each card :+1:

And once you have a good and solid grasp of the main theme/energy of each card, I think that is a good time to let your own intuition take over. After all, every situation you are reading for will be unique, as well each tarot deck has varying symbolism to draw on. In an aspect of magick like tarot with so many variants (different decks, situations, people, etc.), your intuition is the one constant force that will always be there and that you can always rely on.

It sounds like you are making amazing progress with your tarot studies, @mary25! Good for you- may you continue to enjoy studying the cards! :flower_playing_cards: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Like you mentioned, both interpretation and intuition are more important because each reading will be different.

Having said that, some of the cards have more universal meanings than others (for example the Aces and the Fool almost always mean new beginnings)

But in the end, different authors and readers will have varying interpretations for each card and it’s a very personal process. The best you can do is either find a system of meanings that you like and stick to it, or develop your own based on what the cards are telling you in each reading.

Use your intuition and develop a personal connection with the cards! :tarot_card:


Hello fellow Illustrated Key to the Tarot readers!

The current session of the Book Club has come to an end- thanks for joining in! :blush:

Everyone is warmly invited to share your thoughts on the book in the Book Club VII - Readers’ Reviews thread :scroll:

The main thread features reviews from those who read this book as well as reviews from those who read other books this session :thumb:

Thanks again for joining in, and I hope you enjoyed Illustrated Key to the Tarot! :orange_book: :sparkles: