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The Cards - The Evolution and Power of Tarot

The Cards

The Evolution and Power of Tarot

By Patrick Maille
Hardcover : 9781496832993, 260 pages, 44 b&w illustrations, March 2021
Paperback : 9781496833006, 260 pages, 44 b&w illustrations, March 2021

A readable and extensive history of the development and evolution of Tarot and its place in culture


Tarot cards have been around since the Renaissance and have become increasingly popular in recent years, often due to their prevalence in popular culture. While Tarot means many different things to many different people, the cards somehow strike universal chords that can resonate through popular culture in the contexts of art, television, movies, even comic books. The symbolism within the cards, and the cards as symbols themselves, make Tarot an excellent device for the media of popular culture in numerous ways. They make horror movies scarier. They make paintings more provocative. They provide illustrative structure to comics and can establish the traits of television characters.

The Cards: The Evolution and Power of Tarot begins with an extensive review of the history of Tarot from its roots as a game to its supposed connection to ancient Egyptian magic, through its place in secret societies, and to its current use in meditation and psychology. This section ends with an examination of the people who make up today’s Tarot community. Then, specific areas of popular culture—art, television, movies, and comics—are each given a chapter in which to survey the use of Tarot. In this section, author Patrick Maille analyzes such works as Deadpool, Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman, Disney's Haunted Mansion, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, The Andy Griffith Show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and King of the Hill. The cards are evocative images in their own right, but the mystical fascination they inspire makes them a fantastic tool to be used in our favorite shows and stories.


"The Cards: The Evolution and Power of Tarot deals with Tarot’s history, artwork, and cultural significance in an informative and useful way. Patrick Maille’s engaging and conversational style makes for a compelling book. "

- Charles Coletta Jr., Department of Popular Culture, Bowling Green State University

"Patrick Maille provides a view of Tarot ranging from its creation in fifteenth-century Northern Italy to twenty-first-century appearances in popular culture. If Tarot was an actor we’d watch him or her morph from early Renaissance gamester to occult philosopher to a modern superhero, with stints as con man and comic in-between. Read this book to appreciate the wide variety of roles that Tarot has assumed and the historical as well as contemporary people who have invented or defined these roles. This work is essential for anyone who wants to study or understand the place of Tarot in today’s Western pop culture. "

- Mary K. Greer, author of Tarot for Your Self: A Workbook for Personal Transformation

"An engaging and accessible introduction to a popular topic"

- D. A. Harvey, New College of Florida, CHOICE

"Using Maille’s work as a solid foundation on which to build the exploration of cultural networks that sustain Tarot, future students of popular culture in general and Tarot specifically will be well positioned to uncover not only the cultural meanings that circulate in the Tarot community and are propelled into the American mainstream but also to unearth the undercurrents of American beliefs, attitudes, and practices that converge in Tarot."

- Natalia Kovalyova, University of Texas at Austin, Journal of Popular Culture