Thoth tarot deck

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Display of the Thoth tarot cards in a museum Thoth Tarot Cards in the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic.jpg
Display of the Thoth tarot cards in a museum

The Thoth Tarot is a divinatory tarot deck painted by Lady Frieda Harris according to instructions from Aleister Crowley. Crowley referred to this deck as The Book of Thoth, and also wrote a 1944 book of that title intended for use with the deck.

Contents

Background

Crowley originally intended the Thoth deck to be a six-month project aimed at updating the traditional pictorial symbolism of the tarot. However, due to increased scope, the project eventually spanned five years, between 1938 and 1943, and both artists died before its publication in 1969 by Ordo Templi Orientis.[ citation needed ]

Symbolism

The illustrations of the deck feature symbolism based upon Crowley's incorporation of imagery from many disparate disciplines, including science and philosophy and various occult systems (as described in detail in his The Book of Thoth). [1]

Differences from Rider–Waite tarot

Order and names of trumps

Crowley renamed several of the trumps compared to earlier arrangements, and also re-arranged the numerical, astrological and Hebrew alphabet correspondences of 4 trumps compared to the Rider–Waite tarot deck in accordance with Tarot of Marseilles, his 1904 book The Book of the Law (Liber AL vel Legis) and its "New Commentary." [2] In the "New Commentary" and The Book of Thoth, Crowley demonstrates that his trump arrangement forms a double loop in the zodiac-number and letter-number correspondences compared to the Rider–Waite, where there is no loop. [1] There are interpretations as to why the Thoth Tarot deck does not follow Crowley's new arrangement having only a letter-number double loop and one of them is that it follows the same Golden Dawn arrangement as the Rider–Waite deck.[ citation needed ]

All these old letters of my Book are aright; but צ is not the Star. [3]

Tzaddi is the letter of The Emperor, the Trump IV, and He is the Star, the Trump XVII. Aquarius and Aries are therefore counterchanged, revolving on the pivot of Pisces, just as, in the Trumps VIII and XI, Leo and Libra do about Virgo. This last revelation makes our Tarot attributions sublimely, perfectly, flawlessly symmetrical. [2]

For The Star is referred to Aquarius in the Zodiac, and The Emperor to Aries. Now Aries and Aquarius are on each side of Pisces, just as Leo and Libra are on each side of Virgo; that is to say, the correction in the Book of the Law gives a perfect symmetry in the zodiacal attribution, just as if a loop were formed at one end of the ellipse to correspond exactly with the existing loop at the other end. [4]

Crowley's double loop in the zodiac
NumberSignLetterName
IVAquariusTzaddiThe Emperor
VIIILibraLamedAdjustment
XILeoTetLust
XVIIAriesHehThe Star
Rider–Waite cardThoth equivalent
I: The Magician I: The Magus
II: The High Priestess II: The Priestess
VIII: Strength XI: Lust
X: Wheel of Fortune X: Fortune
XI: Justice VIII: Adjustment
XIV: Temperance XIV: Art
XX: Judgement XX: The Æon
XXI: The World XXI: The Universe

Names of court cards

Crowley altered the names of all the court cards which can cause some confusion for people used to the more common decks. The typical corresponding names are as follows: [5]

Traditional Court Card NameThoth Deck Court Card Name
KingKnight
QueenQueen
KnightPrince
PagePrincess

Titles and attributions of the Minor Arcana

Wands

NumberSign Decan Ruler of Decan Name
1The Root of the Powers of Fire
2Aries1stMarsDominion
3Aries2ndSunVirtue
4Aries3rdVenusCompletion
5Leo1stSaturnStrife
6Leo2ndJupiterVictory
7Leo3rdMarsValour
8Sagittarius1stMercurySwiftness
9Sagittarius2ndMoonStrength
10Sagittarius3rdSaturnOppression

Cups

NumberSignDecanRuler of DecanName
1The Root of the Powers of Water
2Cancer1stVenusLove
3Cancer2ndMercuryAbundance
4Cancer3rdMoonLuxury
5Scorpio1stMarsDisappointment
6Scorpio2ndSunPleasure
7Scorpio3rdVenusDebauch
8Pisces1stSaturnIndolence
9Pisces2ndJupiterHappiness
10Pisces3rdMarsSatiety

Swords

NumberSignDecanRuler of DecanName
1The Root of the Powers of Air
2Libra1stMoonPeace
3Libra2ndSaturnSorrow
4Libra3rdJupiterTruce
5Aquarius1stVenusDefeat
6Aquarius2ndMercuryScience
7Aquarius3rdMoonFutility
8Gemini1stJupiterInterference
9Gemini2ndMarsCruelty
10Gemini3rdSunRuin

Disks

NumberSignDecanRuler of DecanName
1The Root of the Powers of Earth
2Capricorn1stJupiterChange
3Capricorn2ndMarsWorks
4Capricorn3rdSunPower
5Taurus1stMercuryWorry
6Taurus2ndMoonSuccess
7Taurus3rdSaturnFailure
8Virgo1stSunPrudence
9Virgo2ndVenusGain
10Virgo3rdMercuryWealth

Conservation

Harris' renditions of the tarot are on watercolor paper affixed to a thick backing; the acidity of the backing, according to a report from 2006, resulted in discoloration of borders, and to some extent, the paintings themselves. The paintings also required cleaning and the repair of small tears. [6] A conservation plan called for the cleaning surfaces, the removal of backing (while retaining original inscriptions), reuse of the hand-painted window mats, and replacement of overlays with acid-free, museum-quality paper. The project was completed in 2011.[ citation needed ] The paintings are owned by the Warburg Institute; work was completed by the Institute's in-house specialist, Susan Campion.

Notes

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Tarot Cards used for games or divination

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Death (Tarot card) Thirteenth Major Arcanum

Death (XIII) is the 13th trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in Tarot card games as well as in divination. The card typically depicts the Grim Reaper, and when used for divination is often interpreted as signifying major changes in a person's life.

Ordo Templi Orientis

Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) is an occult initiatory organization founded at the beginning of the 20th century. The origins of the O.T.O. can be traced back to the German-speaking occultists Carl Kellner, Heinrich Klein, Franz Hartmann and Theodor Reuss. English author and occultist Aleister Crowley is the best-known and most influential member of the order.

Aleister Crowley, the founder of Thelema, designated his works as belonging to one of several classes. Not all of his work was placed in a class by him.

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The Hanged Man (Tarot card) Twelfth trump card

The Hanged Man (XII) is the twelfth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.

<i>The Equinox</i> Academic journal

The Equinox was a periodical that served as the official organ of the A∴A∴, a magical order founded by Aleister Crowley. Begun in 1909, it mainly featured articles about occultism and magick, while several issues also contained poetry, fiction, plays, artwork, and biographies. The last issue was published in 1998.

Strength (Tarot card)

Strength is a Major Arcana Tarot card, and is numbered either XI or VIII, depending on the deck. Historically it was called Fortitude, and in the Thoth Tarot deck it is called Lust. This card is used in game playing as well as in divination.

Justice (Tarot card)

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The Devil (Tarot card) Fifteenth Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks

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The World (Tarot card)

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Tarot of Marseilles Standard pattern of 78 cards

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<i>The Book of Thoth</i> (Crowley)

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References

Further reading