Book Review: Meditations on the Tarot *
by Fr. Thomas Keating, OSCO
This work was originally written in French. A German translation with an introduction by Hans Urs von Balthasar appeared in 1972. A second revised German translation was published by Herder, Basel in 1983. The first French edition was published in 1980 and revised edition in 1984, both by Aubier Montaigne, Paris. The author wished the book to be published anonymously and posthumously.
In his foreword to the German edition, von Balthasar writes: “A thinking, praying Christian of unmistakable purity reveals to us to symbols of Christian Hermeticism in its various levels of mysticism, gnosis, and magic, taking in also the Cabbala and certain elements of astrology and alchemy. These symbols are summarized in the twenty-two so-called “Major Arcana” of the Tarot cards. By way of the Major Arcana the author seeks to lead meditatively into the deeper, all-embracing wisdom of the Catholic Mystery.”
This may be regarded as one of the great spiritual classics of this century. In the hands of this author of immense erudition and deep contemplation, the Tarot cards of ancient Egypt reveal their universal archetypal symbolic nature and become a school of objective insight. The meditations are, in the truest sense, a school of lectio divina requiring an activity more profound than that of study and intellectual explanation. The author gathers us into his own spiritual journey to the authentic Source of all true knowledge and compassion. This book in my view is the greatest contribution to date toward the rediscovery and renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition of the Fathers of the Church and the high Middle Ages. With its firm grasp of tradition, its balance, wisdom, profundity, openness to truth, and comprehensive approach to reality, it deserves to be the basis of a course in spirituality in every Christian institution of higher learning and what would be even better, the point of departure and unifying vision of the whole curriculum.
* Note: This review first appeared many years ago and has since been mirrored on a number of websites.
About the Author:
Fr. Thomas Keating, OCSO, has written many books on contemplative prayer, especially Centering Prayer, which he is credited with popularizing in the United States. Among these are Open Mind, Open Heart, The Mystery of Christ, and Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit. He lives at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, and serves as an advisor to the Board of Directors of MID.
–> Batgap Interview of Thomas Keating