When the Tarot pack was invented in Italy in the early 15th century, it was simply a pack of cards, used for playing games. Esoteric interpretations of the pack date from late eighteenth-century France, and were confined to that country for a hundred years. Nowadays, however, the cards are used throughout the Western world and not only for fortune telling; for real believers they are a key to secret knowledge of the meaning of life. Practised by secret groups such as the Order of the Golden Dawn, by magi such as Aleister Crowley, the 'Great Beast', and by psychics such as Dion Fortune, the occult interpretation of the Tarot pack is a worldwide phenomenon with countless devotees. The roots of the whole modern Tarot mystique lie in theories propagated by the occultists studied in this history. Tarot occultism is a significant part of modern social history. The first part of the story was told in "A Wicked Pack of Cards" , which traced its origins in France. In "The History of the Occult Tarot" the authors bring the story up to date, following its progress in other countries, especially Britain and the United States.
Alan Watkins was born in 1933 and educated at Amman Valley Grammar School and Queens' College, Cambridge. He has also published The Liberal Dilemma, Brief Lives, Sportswriter's Eye, A Slight Case of Libel, A Conservative Coup, The Road to Number 10 and, jointly, The Making of the Prime Minister 1970.