In preparing for my upcoming class Cosmology in Hermetic Alchemy and I find myself really enjoying the great resource Alexander Roob's book can be. Taschen puts out so many of these so-called brick books but Alchemy and Mysticism is certainly one of my favorites. Alchemy is also known as the Royal Art and this stems from the fact the alchemists work with nature to bring about transmutation of matter into a new state, but also because the books and manuscripts often express the esoteric concepts in artful ways. This full color tribute to alchemical art is packed full of imagery covering the many byways of the magnum opus and gathers many of the images into distinct subjects such as the various stages of the work to anthropomorphic forms common to alchemical themes. This is one of those books that deserves a place in any esoteric library.
Meanwhile Dom Antoin-Josef Pernety's Mytho-Hermetic Dictionary supplies us not only with mythological and symbolic imagery but also with illuminating definitions of the alchemical opus which unlock the mysteries of the allegories of the myths in alchemical texts. This English language translation from the original French, executed by Joseph Zabinski, gives great insight into what the exotic and abstract imagery and terms in alchemical texts are meant to convey both in practical and allegorical arenas. Whereas Roob's book is more accessible to beginners, the Pernety book allows a deeper dive into the Hermetic Arcana. Referring to the Mytho-Hermetic Dictionary repays the effort every time.
Today I received copies of a beautiful book on Tarot from Taschen's new Library of Esoterica series. Manifesting in all of Taschen's publications, this is a visual treasure wedded to insightful text. Edited and written by Jessica Hundley, the book also features essays by Penny Slinger, Johannes Fiebig and Marcella Kroll. The tome includes an excellent bibliography and a useful section of resources. The symbolism of Tarot is diverse and complex while still adhering to a traditional set of arcana. The art here spans from some of the earliest examples of Tarot through classic and modern expressions. At over 500 pages and hundreds of full color images, those interested in art and the esoteric tradition will want to add this to their library. No mere art book here; there are practical, historical, and symbolical essays which provide context and wisdom to the diverse collection of Tarot imagery. Check out the table of contents (below).
Readers will recall Taschen's other great esoteric art book: Alchemy & Mysticism which has become a classic collection of Alchemical imagery. As the first book in the Library of Esoterica, this book initiates a great start for the series whose expressed purpose is "for the seekers". I applaud this effort and look forward to more artful esoteric publications to come.
Publisher, Hermetic Qabalist and Symbol-Systems researcher and educator.