Background: Norbert Lösche and his Cosmic Tarot

I was surprised to see that the Taropedia site didn’t have an entry for the Cosmic Tarot, so I’ve taken some time to complete their excellent template and put up a draft article myself, which I hope and expect will improve  with additional contributions.  Wikis are good for that.

But how telling that this stunning deck wasn’t even there.  It is just so under-appreciated.

Anyway, here’s my article with a sprinkling of added commentary.

Description

The Cosmic Tarot deck by Norbert Lösche depicts symbols and icons gathered from several different eras — from ancient Egypt to modern Europe. Symbolism is used extensively and yet the deck is designed to remain accessible to even beginning readers.

It is a standard 78 card set. The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles; court cards are King, Queen, Prince, Princess. The Justice card is card 8, Strength is card 11.

Colour is used to help convey meaning, for example, the images of the Wands suit are usually in shades of red for fire, cups in blue for water, etc.

Many of the characters have been drawn in the likeness of famous Hollywood actors. The deck is known for the evocative quality of facial expressions, no doubt a factor in why this deck is considered easy to read.

The Artist/Creator

Norbert Lösche was born in 1951 near Aachen, Germany. After earning a degree in Art History, he became an artist/illustrator, providing the art work for books dealing with fantasy and spiritual themes. His own spiritual journey began with a study of Hinduism, entering in-depth studies of the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramcaritmanas. In 1982 he joined the community of Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho). After a visit to the commune of Bhagwan (Osho) in Oregon (USA), he left the community.

It was not long after this that he designed the Cosmic Tarot and wrote the accompnaying book (available only in Spanish). The deck itself is now translated into nine languages and is distributed worldwide.

In 1994 Lösche met the Tibetan masters Sogyal Rinpoche and Dzogchen Rinpoche in southern France and has since become a practicing Buddhist. He recent works include a series of Buddha images and mandalas.  (I did not know until today that Losche created mandalas, a fact that means a lot to me because so do I.  You can see mine at my site The Mandala Pattern)

The Cosmic Tarot Publishing Details

The Cosmic Tarot was first published by FX Schmid in 1988, a Bavarian company. Unfortunately this company was sold in the 1990s and Lösche’s agent, Walter Holl, had to find new publishers – AGM-AGMüller in Switzerland and US Games Systems, USA.

When AGM AGMüller took over the publishing of the deck, Mr Holl encouraged Lösche to write his book, which was published by Urania. Until now it is only translated into Spanish and is available from http://www.alfaomega.es/ (Oh, how I wish this book was available in English)

Creator’s comments

In creating this tarot, my intention is to make the old knowledge accessible and understandable to everyone by using a few secret symbols as possible. In our times, the search for transcendent meaning and self redemption has replaced the old mystical religions of a distant god. The tarot’s age-old knowledge is always quiet and reserved, yet it welcomes the seeker like an old friend. The tarot, with its dynamic concept of constant change, offers a doctrine for the New Age and thus becomes a reliable guide in this chaotic world of shifting social values.” (quoted by Jean Huets, Cosmic Tarot, US Games Systems, Inc, 1996, pg 6)

Creator’s website

Lösche’s Agent for tarot illustrations http://www.artwork-walterholl.de/suche.php?such=loesche&headline=Norbert+L%C3%B6sche

Lösche’s Mandala website http://www.bilderdermitte.de/

Reviews

This is an excellent, insightful and complete review of the deck:  http://www.wicce.com/redknife2.html The page design does not make reading easy, but it is well worth sticking it out.  This review is so good, in fact, that I once tried very hard to contact the author to tell her, and perhaps maybe encourage her to write a companion book for the deck.  I believe if she would, she’d create something amazing.

Other reviews:

http://www.telp.com/tarot/cosmic.htm

http://www.tarotpassages.com/cosmic.htm

http://www.autumnalwind.com/joan/tarotpostmodc.htm

http://www.telp.com/tarot/cosmic.htm

http://www.angelpaths.com/tarotcos.html

Source information

In addition to the links provided above, I also used the following pages to prepare this article:

http://norbertlosche.bravepages.com/NLcosmictarot.html#CTBookSpanish

http://www.wiki-aventurica.de/index.php?title=Norbert_L%C3%B6sche (A German site for which I needed to use Google translate tools)  [The Wiki Aventurica is a source directory and a platform for other projects that are dedicated to the RPG “Das Schwarze Auge” (The Dark Eye) Its contents may be freely copied and distributed. For details, even at the license terms. It currently includes 22 154 items.]


© Kathryn Tisdale 2010

I resolve to begin a study of The Cosmic Tarot

What brought me to this:

Sometimes, I love the Tarot, and when I do, I feel a deep, compelling draw to it… an itch to have the cards in my hands; to feel them, to look at them, to want to know what mysteries they contain.  To commune with them.

I own three Tarot decks and love them all, although they give off three very different vibes.

I also own an Oracle deck – The Faeries Oracle by Brian Froud.  I like to look through it, but it doesn’t really mean anything to me.  Tarot is different.  Tarot speaks.  It vibrates and tries to communicate.

The Tarot decks I have:

The Osho Zen Tarot, a gorgeous, richly coloured and beautifully drawn deck by Ma Deva Padma that combines the traditions of the Tarot with eastern philosophies (as taught by Osho).  It is a deck I feel I can understand when I otherwise don’t feel very in-tune with the mysteries of the universe.

The Osho deck comes with a lovely book that explains the cards clearly, teaches what they mean in our lives and offers a look at their philosophical importance from a Zen perspective.

The Thoth Tarot I have just purchased a new copy of The Thoth Tarot; also a beautiful deck and developed with serious and dedicated study by a very brilliant (magical?) mind, Aleister Crowley — beautifully painted by a talented artist Lady Frieda Harris.  I get a sense of esoteric weight and scholarly wisdom from these cards; a sense that within them I can access much Important Information.  I’m not as sure that the information gained will speak to me personally, or that I can join Alesiter Crowley fully on his mystical journey, but this is still an impressive deck.

The Thoth deck comes with a better-than-average little white book — but what makes this deck most accessible and even exciting is a wonderful book available separately called Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot by Lon Milo DuQuette (2003).  DuQuette is an easy writer of some very dense subjects and I’m enjoying his work very much.  I am also learning a lot.

There are two other Tarot books I’ve come to love.  Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, by Rachel Pollack (1980, 1997) and The Tarot Bible by Sarah Bartlett (2006).  Both books are special.  Pollack writes about the tarot as if she’s been inside it and became its true friend.  She is someone who understands it at an intuitive level and with her unusually excellent writing skills, can effectively share that understanding.  Bartlett gives us a beautifully designed reference book that looks at the Tarot and at each card individually from a variety of different angles.  Her book is a delight to touch and to browse, and it provides a quick guide when one is needed.

The big problem for me with both the Pollack or Bartlett books is that they are based on the Rider-Waite Tarot, and I don’t use that deck.  I actually can’t use it… there’s something about it that repels me.  I’ve searched for a ‘clone’ deck that I like better but cannot connect to any of them.

The Cosmic Tarot – My first deck… first on my shelf and first in my heart is The Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche.   This is the deck that called me first and calls me still.  This is the deck that when I understand it, I understand it deeply, in my cells and in a way that can help me shape my life.  It is also the deck that I have put away more than once because I don’t always know what it is saying, but that I immediately get out again because it seems to demand it.

This is the deck I need a real, solid, deep and clear guide to, because using a different deck when it is important just isn’t an option for reasons that defy explanation.

And although TCT is close to a Rider-Waite deck, it is just different enough that the books based on Rider-Waite don’t always apply.  There are times when I know that Lösche and his cards mean something entirely different than what is written about R-W.  I have Jean Heuts’s book, Cosmic Tarot (1996) and I’m glad to have it, but it isn’t enough.  I need something that says more and with more clarity, and so far, the something I need doesn’t seem to exist.  Perhaps I’ll be able to create it here.

Join me if you like.

© Kathryn Tisdale 2010