New Book Release

Now Available for Pre-Order!

Scott Martin’s new book, New Directions in Tarot – Decoding the Tarot Illustrations of Pamela Colman Smith, is now available for pre-order on Amazon!

Below is a “sneak peak” from Scott’s upcoming book, published by Schiffer Publishing.

  • A brand-new approach that focuses on how, in her images, Smith utilized a sense of direction, body movement, posture, gait, facial expression, and more.
  • Compares the Tarot Minors to technical elements of theater, including plot, conflict, elements of a play, thought/theme, dialogue, music, and actors’ positions on stage.
  • Provides powerful tools for interpreting the cards and discovering new meanings that the reader can make their own.
  • Includes thought-provoking exercises that guide the reader in the mastery of these new insights.
New Directions in Tarot book cover

“The Artist” card designed by James Boyle

An excerpt from New Directions in Tarot – Decoding the Tarot Illustrations of Pamela Colman Smith. © 2021 (This material is copyrighted and cannot be used in any form without the express permission of and credit to the author.)

Pamela Colman Smith has been a rather elusive figure until recently. For all that was known about her, much remained a matter of supposition. But we do know that she was an artist in the theatre, a creative genius, a mystic and a clairvoyant in her own right. However, she will be best remembered as the artist who designed pictures on seventy-eight Tarot cards in 1909 that became known as the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Deck; this deck became the most famous and iconic Tarot deck of its time and is still the most widely used today.

Pamela Colman Smith spent much of her life in the theatre, as an actress, director, costume and set designer. It was this part of her life that particularly resonated with me. There was much there to which I could relate. I was also introduced to the theatre at a young age and spent my professional life there. I have worked professionally as an actor and director as well as in community and educational theatre. I have designed costumes and sets. I taught theatre arts for forty years, both on the high school and college levels. As a result, I am well acquainted with stage movement-how characters move, why they move, where they move, their gait, their posture, their stance, their gestures and their facial expressions.

It is from this background that I propose to explore how I think Smith’s theatrical knowledge and experience came into play when she drew these cards.

Photograph of Palmela Coleman Smith

Pamela Colman Smith

Mary K. Greer just discovered this previously unknown photo of Pamela Colman Smith by her friend, the well-known photographer, Alice Boughton. The source is The Literary Digest, July 4, 1908. Thanks for sharing, Mary!

Pamela Colman Smith Tarot card

Artwork by James Boyle

Early Praise

“I’ve been waiting for this book for so long! It presents a truly original and mind-bending way to read the RWS tarot that could only be accomplished by someone as knowledgeable about theatre as Scott Martin.”
~ Mary K Greer

“By uniting years of theatre experience with his love of tarot, Scott Martin brings new meaning to the quote, “All the World’s a stage, and all men and women merely players.” Scott, a generous teacher, shines an engaging spotlight on stage and tarot artist, Pamela Colman Smith’s seminal deck as a tool that reflects the roles played out in our own scenes. From the querent, to their issues, and all the props and players in-between, Scott takes us backstage where we can enter Smith’s imagery and ultimately direct the best possible outcome in our production. I can’t recommend this book enough.”
~ Carrie Paris
Author of the Relative Tarot

“Scott Martin breaks the 4th Wall between you and Tarot. He fuses forty-five years of theatrical expertise into Pamela Colman Smith’s visual storytelling to foster ease and immediacy with your cards. This book will change the way you read and interpret Tarot forever.”
~ Sasha Graham
Author of 365 Tarot Spreads and Dark Woods Tarot.

“I’m only up to page 30 and absolutely loving it!!!…This is such an eye-opener and vastly helpful for interpretation. It really makes the reading come alive! What fun! This is brilliant. I haven’t been this excited by a Tarot book in a long time!”
~ Mary K. Greer

“I have always told me students that Tarot divination in its simplest form involves laying out the cards and allowing them to tell you a story. I think this is one of the best books I have seen for breaking that process down and teaching students how to do that.”
~ Bob Place

Vintage photo with white dog
The Fool Tarot card
Vintage photo - dog Bruin

The Little White Dog

As we know, visual artists, novelists, poets, playwrights and others use experiences and people from their own lives to inspire storylines and characters.  Pamela Colman Smith was no exception.

We know that Smith had a close friendship with the famous English Victorian actress, Ellen Terry and Terry’s daughter, Edy Craig; both are cited as likely having inspired a number of the characters in the cards she created in The Rider-Waite Smith Tarot Deck.

But what about the little white dog illustrated on The Fool card? The one with the pointed nose and the bushy tail? It is clear to me that it is none other than Ellen Terry’s dog, Bruin.

I believe these pictures of Ellen Terry with her dog bear witness to the inspiration for this iconic little canine, who accompanies The Fool on his journey.