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The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams
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The Greater Trumps (original 1932; edition 1969)

by Charles Williams, William Lindsay Gresham (Foreword)

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Member:paradoxosalpha
Title:The Greater Trumps
Authors:Charles Williams
Other authors:William Lindsay Gresham (Foreword)
Info:Avon (1969), Edition: 1st THUS, Paperback
Collections:Your library
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Tags:tarot, occult

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The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams (1932)

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The Greater Trumps is one of Charles Williams' cycle of occult fantasy novels, and this is the one that foregrounds the tarot. I found it less engaging than War in Heaven or Many Dimensions. It has a few interesting visionary episodes, but the characters are fairly static, and the plot, although conveying a real sense of distress, neither excited nor illuminated me. The book will be most enjoyable to those with some prior orientation to tarot symbolism, and in particular a knowledge of the central images of the trump series. But such readers should not assume that their own understanding of the tarot informs this novel.

Williams is said to have been an initiate of the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, a Christian magical order descended from A.E. Waite's Golden Dawn schism. It was a little surprising to me that the tarot symbolism in his book departs so far from the system of correspondences developed in the Golden Dawn. There is no use of Tetragrammaton as a key to the minor suits, and the element of Fire is attributed to Swords, while Air is assigned to Wands, in the manner of Gardnerian Witchcraft. The particular "Greater Trumps" of the novel are the usual array, but numbered in an unaccustomed sequence: Empress before High Priestess, and Emperor before Hierophant; Hermit numbered VIII, Temperance IX, Fortitude X, Fortune XII, and Death XIV.

This edition of The Greater Trumps carries a foreword by American writer William Lindsay Gresham, who lionizes Waite as THE great authority on tarot. While one might (I would) dispute such an award, it is fitting in reflections on the work of Williams, for whom Waite was certainly more important and useful than any of the competing figures of modern occultism.
3 vote paradoxosalpha | Jan 20, 2013 |
Mentioned in the Wikipedia article on tarot cards - " the tarot is used by the main characters to move through space and time, create matter, and raise powerful natural storms"
  esquetee | Nov 22, 2011 |
~A DRAGGING DANCE~

I was ever so excited. My love, Tarot, was about to meet my other love, reading novels, and dance together to the sounds of life going by...

But it was a boring dance; the musician did not perform well. The sentences towards the end of the book seemed to repeat each other over and over and the ending was quite unsatisfactory though a predictable and wished-for one. I dragged myself to the end of the book, to the end of the snow fall just to make sure I was not missing something.... oh no, I was not!

I am looking forward to find a GREAT Tarot+novel book!

Victoria Evangelina Belyavskaya ( )
  VictoriaEva | Jan 7, 2011 |
I started reading this book a couple of years ago, when it was a selection for the Rosicrucian book club. I set it down when I was about three-quarters finished, and have just now picked it back up again and read to the end. I can't say I enjoyed it. While the concept is interesting, I had a hard time with the antiquated prose, and with the author's (overly florid, IMO) way of describing things. Also, some of the biases of the time (sexist and classist ones in particular) were jarring for me. ( )
  herebedragons | Aug 5, 2010 |
See What I Have Been Reading, April 2010 at From Word to Word
  jeremylukehill | Aug 3, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Williamsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lamb, JimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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". . . perfect Babel," Mr. Coningsby said peevishly, threw himself into a chair, and took up the evening paper.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802816495, Paperback)

The original Tarot is used to unlock enormous metaphysical powers by allowing the possessors to see across space and time, create matter, and raise powerful natural storms.

***

Contents:

Chapter One
THE LEGACY

Chapter Two
THE HERMIT

Chapter Three
THE SHUFFLING OF THE CARDS

Chapter Four
THE CHARIOT

Chapter Five
THE IMAGE THAT DID NOT MOVE

Chapter Six
THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE FOOL

Chapter Seven
THE DANCE IN THE WORLD

Chapter Eight
CHRISTMAS DAY IN THE COUNTRY

Chapter Nine
SYBIL

Chapter Ten
NANCY

Chapter Eleven
JOANNA

Chapter Twelve
THE FALLING TOWER

Chapter Thirteen
THE CHAPTER OF THE GOING FORTH BY NIGHT

Chapter Fourteen
THE MOON OF THE TAROTS

Chapter Fifteen
THE WANDERERS IN THE BEGINNING

Chapter Sixteen
"SUN, STAND THOU STILL UPON GIBEON"

***

a selection from:

Chapter One
THE LEGACY


"...perfect Babel," Mr. Coningsby said peevishly, threw himself into a chair, and took up the evening paper. "But Babel never was perfect, was it?" Nancy said to her brother in a low voice, yet not so low that her father could not hear if he chose. He did not choose, because at the moment he could not think of a sufficiently short sentence; a minute afterwards it occurred to him that he might have said, "Then it's perfect now." But it didn't matter; Nancy would only have been rude again, and her brother too. Children were. He looked at his sister, who was reading on the other side of the fire. She looked comfortable and interested, so he naturally decided to disturb her.

"And what have you been doing to-day, Sybil?" he asked, with an insincere good will, and as she looked up he thought angrily, "Her skin's getting clearer every day."

"Why, nothing very much," Sybil Coningsby said. "I did some shopping, and I made a cake, and went for a walk and changed the library books. And since tea I've been reading."

"Nice day," Mr. Coningsby answered, between a question and a sneer, wishing it hadn't been, though he was aware that if it hadn't been... but then it was certain to have been. Sybil always seemed to have nice days. He looked at his paper again. "I see the Government are putting a fresh duty on dried fruits," he snorted.

Sybil tried to say something, and failed. She was getting stupid, she thought, or (more probably) lazy. There ought to be something to say about the Government putting a duty on dried fruits. Nancy spoke instead.

"You're slow, auntie," she said. "The correct answer is: 'I suppose that means that the price will go up!' The reply to that is, 'Everything goes up under this accursed Government!'"

"Will you please let me do my own talking, Nancy?" her father snapped at her.

"Then I wish you'd talk something livelier than the Dead March in Saul," Nancy said.

"You're out of date again, Nancy," jeered her brother. "Nobody plays that old thing nowadays."

"Go to hell!" said Nancy.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:33 -0400)

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