This post about the Revised Knapp-Hall tarot deck is long overdue. I think I must have unconsciously delayed writing it, because of its many moving parts, and fear of not wanting to leave any of it out. But I can't bear to have 2014 pass by without my finally mentioning it, so I'll start at the beginning and do my best.
Many moons ago, I fell in love with J. Augustus Knapp's vibrant esoteric illustrations in Manly P. Hall's grand tome, The Secret Teachings of All Ages. As luck would have it, I became friends and collaborators with (amongst his many other accomplishments) the editor of the Tarcher Reader's Edition of this book, Mitch Horowitz. We exchanged several words about our mutual admiration for Knapp, whom Mitch refers to as "an occult Norman Rockwell," and I asked how I could learn more about his artwork. Mitch referred me to the wonderful librarian at LA's jewel of an esoteric library at the Philosophical Research Society, Edie Shapiro. And this led to a fantastic visit in 2012 which I've recounted here.
I wanted to do a feature in Abraxas on Knapp, and introduce his work to the wider world. But given my limited schedule, I didn't feel I could commit the time to researching and writing it myself. Some feverish googling introduced me to the splendid artist, Ken Henson, a professor at Ohio's Art Academy of Cincinnati whom I learned gave a talk about Knapp at the Lloyd Library. We struck up a correspondance, which happily culminated in several wonderful outcomes.
The first outcome was that Ken wrote an insightful and illuminating piece on Knapp for us in Abraxas issue 5, which brought to light several of Knapp's little-before-seen illustrations for writers such as John Uri Lloyd (hence the "Lloyd" Library). The PRS and Edie in particular were a huge help for this piece, and I'm thrilled with how it came out.
Secondly, Ken and I were guests on the radio show, On the Way to the Peak of Normal, together, discussing the role of magick in art, and vice versa. I had a ball speaking with him at length, and felt like we were old friends, though we hadn't yet met in person.
And thirdly, Ken and Edie continued to work together on revising - and reviving - the tarot deck that Knapp and Hall created. Originally published in 1929, this new version enlarges, color corrects, and recenters Knapp's illustrations, and has a gorgeous new back designed by Ken himself. I'm overjoyed that this deck has been resurrected, and by such talented and dear-hearted folks as Ken, Edie, and the rest of the PRS team. Full details about the deck below in Ken's words, and of course, do be sure to order yours here.
I recently collaborated with the Philosophical Research Society to revise and reissue John Augustus Knapp and Manly P. Hall's Revised New Art Tarot deck, which was originally published in 1929. The new deck is truly a magical object and is available for pre-sale on the Philosophical Research Society's website.