Skip to main content
Cover for The Magian Tarok

The Magian Tarok

The Origins of the Tarot in the Mithraic and Hermetic Traditions

Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D.


List Price: 16.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Reveals the historical roots of the symbology of the Tarot in the Mithraic tradition of the Persian Magi and the Hermetic tradition

• Explores the Magian teachings on the Stoeicheia and how this magical alphabet was the template for the Tarot

• Explains how the sequencing of the Major Arcana is related to the images used in Mithraic initiation

• Looks at the original meanings of the Major Arcana using Mithraic symbolism, as well as the deep-level connections of the Tarot with Egypt, the Romani people, the Semitic tradition, and runes

The Tarot is a mythic map of the world and of consciousness. It offers a meta-language of signs and symbols that communicate their meaning precisely. Yet the true origins of the Tarot remain shrouded in mystery. These oracular cards have long been thought to have come from Egypt or from the “Gypsies,” but as Stephen E. Flowers reveals, their original roots lie in the Mithraic tradition of the Persian Magi.

In this book, Flowers explores the historical roots and mythology of the symbolic images that became known as the Tarot. Drawing on theories first pioneered by the Swedish scholar Sigurd Agrell (1881-1937), he reveals the genesis of the Tarot’s symbolism in the great Hermetic tradition at the same time the Magical Papyri were being written in Greco-Roman Egypt. He explains how the sequencing of the Major Arcana is related to the images used in Mithraic initiation, elements of which were then integrated into existing Roman and Egyptian traditions. Exploring the Magian teachings on the Stoeicheia, an alphabet that acted as a map for understanding the order of the cosmos, he demonstrates how this alphabet of magical symbols was the template for the Tarot. The author also shows how the 22 Major Arcana cards were related to the 22 letters of the Roman alphabet used for oracular purposes in ancient times. Looking in-depth at the principles of Mithraism, the author explains how the Roman form of Mithraism, a guiding factor in the early shaping of the Tarot, was itself a synthesis of Iranian Magianism, Greek stoicism, Babylonian astrology, and Greco-Egyptian Hermeticism.

Exploring the cards themselves, Flowers then looks at the original meanings of the Major Arcana using Mithraic symbolism and its offshoots. He also explains the truth behind many of the myths surrounding the Tarot, including their deep-level connections with Egypt, the Romani people, the Semitic tradition, and runes. By restoring the original mysteria to the icons of the Tarot and learning their true origins, we can better understand the insight these powerful cards impart in divination.

Praise For The Magian Tarok: The Origins of the Tarot in the Mithraic and Hermetic Traditions

“Every occultist of whatever stripe has at least one tarot deck. Most of them have either no clue as to origins or, worse still, have bought into bad eighteenth- or nineteenth-century pseudo-mythology. The deeper roots in Roman and Persian symbols are well traced here by Stephen E. Flowers, who is both a practicing magician and a respected scholar of Indo-European religions and languages. This book is a wondrous blend of scholarship (into areas not available in English or even German or French) and deeply insightful practice of Hermeticism. For the powerful human who knows the age-old secret, ‘To master the Fruit, know ye the Root.’ This volume is essential reading both for the tarot and for understanding the Persian contribution to modern occultism.”
— Don Webb, author of Overthrowing the Old Gods

“Like every book penned by Stephen E. Flowers, this too is an epitome of erudite readability and is proof positive of his uncanny knack of digging up the most enlightening arcane information--enticing and surprising lay readers and experts alike. The deep tarot as you’ve never known it, highly recommended!”
— Frater U?D?, founder of Pragmatic and Ice Magic and author of The Magical Shield and Sex Magic

“For many years Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D., has pushed the boundaries of Western esoteric discourse by introducing obscure untranslated texts and authors to English-language audiences. His concise and approachable analysis of Sigurd Agrell’s tarot theories has once again opened the way for scholarship on an otherwise ignored topic, and The Magian Tarok is sure to be the definitive reference on its subject for years to come.”
— Stuart Südekum, tarot instructor

"This is a serious scholarly treatise tracing the roots of TAROT imagery back to the beginnings of recorded history. Flowers gave me the thread that connected all the pieces of Western esoteric wisdom I have been collecting. He writes directly without the obscure trappings of esoteric writings from a century ago. If you know who the players are, it suddenly all makes sense."
— Anna Jedrziewski, Anna Jedrziewski,

"A detailed and seminal work of exceptional scholarship, "The Magian Tarok: The Origins of the Tarot in the Mithraic and Hermetic Traditions" is a unique, extraordinary, and definitive introduction to the origin and history of the Tarot and a 'must' for all personal, professional, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections in general, and The Tarot supplemental studies lists in particular."
— Midwest Book Review

"Flowers' academic background shows itself throughout the work with its special care for solid research and disdain for speculation for it's own sake."
— Matthew Frederick, New Dawn Magazine

Inner Traditions, 9781620558690, 192pp.

Publication Date: October 15, 2019

About the Author

Stephen Flowers studied Germanic and Celtic philology and religious history at the University of Texas at Austin and in Goettingen, West Germany. He received his Ph.D. in 1984 in Germanic Languages and Medieval Studies with a dissertation entitled Runes and Magic.