Sacred Texts  Tarot  Tarot Reading 

The Tarot of the Bohemians

By Papus

[Gérard Encausse, (b. 1865 d. 1916)]
Translated by A. P Morton


Contents   Start Reading

Tarot of the Bohemians, along with the Pictoral Key to the Tarot, constitute the core literature of 19th and early 20th century 'Tarotism'. However, PTK is to the TOB as arithmetic is to differential calculus. If you have no experience reading occult literature of this period, you may find yourself profoundly lost after the first couple of pages, staring at the abundant and profoundly esoteric tables, charts and diagrams, trying to get a clue as to what Papus is talking about. Papus is after a 'Theory of Everything', and finds evidence for it in the Tarot and a set of correspondences with everything from the tetragrammaton to numerology and astrology.

His claim that the Tarot preserves ancient, profound knowledge by way of the Romany/Gypsies (i.e. 'Bohemians') all the way back to Egypt, India and Atlantis is unsubstantiated. There is no evidence of any kind of playing or fortune-telling cards prior to the thirteenth century, either in literature or folklore. Note that playing cards could not have become popular until the introduction of printing in Europe. The Tarot is believed to have originated from an elaborate deck of cards invented in Italy in the fourteenth century. The Romany people probably started to use this deck for cartomancy (fortune telling by cards) about a century thereafter. As Papus notes, all of the early cards depict people dressed in the costume of this period.

Late in the book, Papus condescends to pen a section, in his words, 'for the ladies' (cue Barry White music here), which gives some basic instruction in cartomancy using the Tarot deck. However, this is by far the weakest portion of this book. Papus is at his best when he is spinning elaborate webs of correspondence between the Tarot and the Macrocosm. This book is hard work, but if you master it you will have a profound grasp of the inner life of the Tarot deck.

--J.B. Hare

Title Page

Introduction to the Study of the Tarot

Chapter I. Introduction to the Study of the Tarot

Part I. General Key to the Tarot, Giving the Absolute Key to Occult Science

Chapter II. The Sacred Word Yod-He-Vau-He
Chapter III. The Esoterism of Numbers
Chapter IV: Analogy Between the Sacred Word and Numbers
Chapter V: The Key to the Minor Arcana
Chapter VI: The Key to the Major Arcana
Chapter VII. Connection Between the Major and Minor Arcana

Part II. Symbolism in the Tarot

Chapter VIII. Introduction to the Study of Symbolism
Chapter IX. History of the Symbolism of the Tarot. Inquiry into its Origin

Chapter X. The Symbolical Tarot

Scheme of Work
The First Card of the Tarot: Origin of the Signification of All the Others
1. The Juggler
2. The High Priestess
3. The Empress
4. The Emperor
5. The Pope
6. The Lovers

Chapter XI. Second Septenary

Key to the Second Septenary
7. The Chariot
8. Justice
9. The Hermit
10. The Wheel of Fortune
11. Strength
12. The Hanged Man
Constitution of Man

Chapter XII. Third Septenary

Key to the Third Septenary
13. Death
14. Temperance
15. The Devil
16. The Lightning-Struck Tower
17. The Stars
18. The Moon
Constitution of the Universe

Chapter XIII. General Transition. Arcana 19 to 21

Chapter XIII. General Transition
19. The Sun
20. The Judgement
21. The Fool
22. The World
The Ternary of Transition


Chapter XIV. General Summary Of The Symbolical Tarot

Part III. Applications of the Tarot

Chapter XV. General Key to the Applications of the Tarot
Chapter XVI. The Astronomical Tarot
Chapter XVII. The Initiative Tarot
The Divine Name in the Tarot

Chapter XVIII. The Kabbalistic Tarot

Deductions by Etteila upon the Book of Thoth
Example of the Application of the Tarot to the Kabbalah. The Hierogram of Adam, by Stanislas De Guaita
Chapter XIX. List of the Authors who Have Interested Themselves in the Tarot

Chapter XX: The Divining Tarot in Seven Lessons

First Lesson: Simplification of the Rules of Fortune-Telling by the Tarot
Second Lesson. Minor Arcana. Signification from the Divining Point of View
Third Lesson. Major Arcana. Signification from the Divining Point of View
Fourth Lesson. Basis of the Application of These Data. Arrangement of the Cards
Fifth Lesson. Fortune-Telling by the Tarot
Sixth Lesson. Etteila's original and unpublished Method of Fortune-telling by the Tarot
Seventh Lesson. Conclusion
Chapter XII. Application of the Tarot to Games
Chapter XXII. Conclusion
Authors and Principle Works Quoted