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Meditative Tarot

  • Sep 6, 2012
  • by
The "Rumi Tarot" by Nigel Jackson speaks to the seeker as does no other tarot. The seventy-two cards of this deck, as in other traditional manifestations of tarot, become a spiral staircase of the universe consisting of symbolic images that depict the upward and inward journey of the soul as like the Fool of Card 0, it moves forward towards a reunion with its creator, God. The Rumi Tarot is further enhanced with quotations from the great Sufi saint Jalal al-Din Rumi, endowing each card with a glimpse at the myriad of possibilities of our experiences as we travel through life.

Jackson includes within his package a guide to the tarot where he gives a brief but satisfying explanation of the Sufi religion, the life of Rumi, the Eastern origins of the tarot and individual pages devoted to the symbolism and possible enlightenment intended for each of the cards. His brief history taking the origins of tarot back to Korean shamans practicing a form of divination with arrows flagged with strips of silk and how through conquest and trade routes, the cards found themselves traveling the Silk Road into the Egypt of the sultans and onward to Western Europe, makes the slightly expensive cost of this package a bit more palatable.

Jackson tells us that the beliefs found embodied within the tarot are the teachings and qualities that were drummed into the king by his four master teachers: the first master teaches the magic and the worship of the gods. The second teaches him to always speak truth, the third master teaches him 'not to allow any pleasure to be lord over him,' and the fourth teaches him to be valiant, 'bold and fearless.' These virtues correspond directly to the virtues of wisdom/prudence (coins), justice (swords), temperance (cups) and fortitude (wands) each of which is representative of what the four suits teach as a foundation for spiritual and worldly well-being. The Major Arcana are based on the above virtues and are representative of the various states of man as he moves along his spiritual journey. His recourse regarding the tarot suits and their development into cups, swords, wands and coins is fascinating in itself and will surely act as a motivator, as would a look at his other tarot Fortuna's Wheel Esoteric Tarot, for any student of tarot or journeyman along the spiritual road to seek further information for more detailed study.

The deck itself is a masterpiece of original artwork by Nigel Jackson rendered in the style of medieval Persian miniatures in jewel tones of emerald, lapis lazuli and ruby. Edging in gold leaf would have completed this deck for me; the further embellishment would have added weight to each card and "gilded" Jackson's depictions like illuminated manuscripts of old. As they stand, the cards are nicely sized, easy to shuffle and manipulate. Each includes a quotation from Rumi which helps to portray the card as one of the 72 names of God (Shemhamphorasch). In particular, I love the Two of Swords, with its miniature of Pharaoh and Moses as aspects of the Self--Pharaoh representing the worldly, self-centered ego and Moses portraying the enlightened prophet. In the Rider-Waite deck, this card is usually symbolized by a woman wearing a blindfold with two crossed swords. The feel of the card is suggestive of being in the middle of two warring sides, resulting in inactivity or procrastination. How perfect is Jackson's miniature, picturing the two sides of Self, causing difficulty in decision-making and an overall dysfunction of the equilibrium? Appropriately, the corresponding name of God for this card is "peace."

There are no divine names associated with the Court cards. Jackson tells us that these cards reflect the "medieval world-conception" and are based on the Mamluk design from the fifteenth century which include flowery phrases and incorporate the hierarchy of the king, the vizier, the second viceroy and a pageboy. (The Rumi Deck uses the Queen instead of the Vizier and the Knight to represent the Second Viceroy.)

All in all this deck in its presentation--a boxed set which includes the over 300 page booklet that far surpasses any of the standard "white information booklets" and a black organza pouch to hold the cards once they are opened and utilized--can become an integral tool in the personal journey of discovering self. With his delicately rendered images, Jackson instructs the seeker that the Sufi beliefs that man is a microcosm of the universe, that all things are part of and reflect divinity, and that losing the ego allows union with the Divine perfectly coincides with the lessons that can be learned from the Tarot. This tarot is reminiscent of the rose of which Jackson speaks: it attracts with its beauty and unfolds countless sublime mysteries.

Bottom line? The Rumi Tarot by Nigel Jackson is the perfect amalgamation of Sufi beliefs, the poetry of Rumi and the self-discovery tool of the tarot. Truly beautiful with miniatures that remind one of the treasured art of Topkapi, this deck will surely please all lovers of the tarot. Jackson's erudite book will instruct on Sufism, Rumi and Tarot in short paragraphs that cram information inside your head in a fast and easy manner that feels like second nature. Wish the deck was edged in gold:) Recommended.
Diana Faillace Von Behren

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review by . May 26, 2009
EDIT: I posted this review to The Tarot Channel where I'm an Editor, and Nigel Jackson--creator/artist of the Rumi Tarot deck and book--posted this in the comment section (and he did it at another Tarot Forum, as well):    'All of a sudden a great ass sticks its head out of the stable and braying like an old crone says "this work is poor"... Mevlana Djalal-Al-Din Rumi (Mathnavi III 4227)    So, dear Amazonians, you may want to keep Nigel Jackson's vitriol …
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Diana Faillace Von Behren ()
Ranked #167
I like just about anything. My curiosity tends to be insatiable--I love the "finding out" and the "ah-ha" moments.      Usually I review a book or film with the … more
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Nigel Jackson, born in 1963, lives in Manchester, England and is a well-known artist and illustrator specializing in the symbolism of Western Esoteric Tradition: he is deeply immersed in the traditional Tarot of 15th century Italy, the magical teachings of medieval-renaissance astrological magicians such as Ficino, Agrippa and Bruno and in bringing to life the talismanic images inherited from ancient sources of arcane lore such as the Arabian grimoire The Picatrix. He has worked intensively in researching the magical system of the 28 Mansions of the Moon. Nigel has been involved for the last quarter of a century in pursuing the inner wisdom of the hermetic mysteries and in expressing the symbolic 'language of the gods' through his visual art which he views as a living  'alchemy of the imagination'.
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ISBN-10: 0738711683
ISBN-13: 978-0738711683
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications

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