The Spiritual Roots of the Tarot – The End of Suffering with Russell Sturgess
The Cathar, especially those in the Languedoc of Southern France, and the region of Milan in Northern Italy, could be best described as Neo-Gnostic Christians. They were referred to as ‘the good Christians’ and identified themselves as bons homme and bonnes femmes. Being identified as heretics by the Catholic Church, their expanding popularity alarmed Pope Innocent III, who commissioned the Albigensian Crusade in 1209. The combination of the 20-year crusade and the subsequent 120-year Inquisition resulted in the genocide of the Cathar, along with their teachings

Primarily, their places of worship were their homes and fields, although they did have a few churches. Manuscripts replaced cathedral iconography as the means for educating the believers and followers. After their exile from the Languedoc region, the Cathar found refuge in the region of Northern Italy controlled by the Visconti/Sforza families. At the same time the Cathar and their teachings had almost disappeared, playing cards were introduced into Milan. The thesis of Russell’s book suggests that to preserve their sacred mysteries, the Cathar transposed their teachings onto this novel card format, from their manuscripts that were disappearing at a fast pace. A collection of about 22 images emerged that would later be referred to as the Major Arcana, meaning the major mysteries.

Being added to playing cards, a new game was created with these additional cards as trump cards. Trumps had become a popular topic of the likes of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, contemporaries of this period. The Cathar, who championed the Sermon on the Mount, and particularly the Beatitudes, recognized the ‘trump’ nature of the Beatitudes, which Russell reveals are intrinsic to the symbols and sequence of the Major Arcana.

In his book, The Spiritual Roots of the Tarot, Russell Sturgess reveals his discovery of these sacred teachings that had remained hidden in plain sight in these cards for hundreds of years. In his Caritas presentation, Russell will discuss the nature of these mystery teachings and their reverence to all of us still, several hundred years later.

Russell studied Attitudinal Healing with Dr Gerry Jampolsky in Tiburon Ca, and with Susan Trout in Washington DC in the late 80’s. As a teenager (early 70’s) he was trained in Osteopathic Massage later qualifying and practicing very successfully in rural Queensland, in his home state. He went on to be an educator of an Australian Osteopathic technique of bodywork called Bowen Therapy. Throughout the 90’s and
the first decade of the new millennium he taught extensively throughout the USA, New Zealand, and Australia. His programs uniquely married Attitudinal Healing and bodywork, resulting in what he described as mindful healers. Inspired by the Jungian based studies he did with Susan

Trout, Russell was exposed to the rich symbolism of the tarot fueled by Sallie Nichols book Jung and Tarot. After several years of doing his own inner healing work, Russell was inspired to live in Italy for a year where he researched and wrote about the ‘spiritual roots’ of the tarot. In 2009, Russell self-published his first book, Metanoia, followed by his second book, Get Out of Jail Card in 2018. His third book, Spiritual Roots of the Tarot, was published by Inner Traditions and released in 2020.

From his expanded understanding of the Christian/Gnostic mysteries, Russell developed a mindfulness mentoring program in 2009, which is now called Pathways to Mindfulness, and a mindfulness mentor training school called the Centre for Western Mindfulness.

Russell is a father, and grandfather. His youngest daughter (aged 34) was born with William’s Syndrome for whom Russell has been her primary carer since she was 12. She recently moved into independent living. Russell lives mostly by himself, in a small cottage, in a relatively secluded ancient rainforest in southern Queensland, called the Bunya Mountains. Aboriginal people historically used the Bunya Mountains as a meeting place for various tribes scattered throughout central eastern Australia. To this day, the Bunya Mountains is seen as a sacred space. Russell’s home is off grid, surrounded by many trees that are hundreds of years old. Almost daily he has encounters with wallabies, dingoes, as well as a plethora of bird life, oh, and the occasional snake.

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