A Brief History of Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot

Most of those who hear the word tarot generally think of mystical gypsies or even pagan heretics. However, for the many who follow the divinatory path, the Book of Thoth rings sweetly in their ears. While there are many common decks, tarot enthusiasts consider the Thoth Tarot to be unparalleled. An item to become an adept of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn; Aleister Crowley and the other members were inspired to create their own tarot decks. As was tarot divination, an integral part of Golden Dawns practice among Qabalah, Astrology, Geomancy, Scrying, Astral Travel, and Alchemy. Decks like the “Rider-Waite Tarot“(by AE Waite and Pamela Coleman Smith), the”Adytum buildersIn turn, the deck (BOOT) created by Paul Foster Case, and the “Thoth Tarot”, by Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris, were created.

The Thoth Tarot deck was painted in watercolor by Lady Frieda Harris according to the directives of Aleister Crowley. Crowley referred to this deck as The Book of Thoth and wrote a book with that title for use with the deck. Crowley originally anticipated that the Thoth deck would be a six-month project, aimed at updating the traditional pictorial symbolism of the tarot to the more primordial or archaic representation. The project ended up lasting five years, between 1938 and 1943.

Aleister Crowley and Frieda Harris were scrupulous in their work, and Harris painted some of the letters up to eight times. Although the decks of the Golden Dawns members were very similar, vigilance in deck interpretation led to some differences. It seems as if it is a crucial undertaking that these letters are as close to their ancient roots as possible. Thoth Tarot was intended to merge the Kabbalistic tradition, tarot, philosophy, science, and magic to form a supreme yet multifaceted tradition. Aleister Crowley was forced to create a tool that could be used to explore the magical and mystical elements of both the microcosm and the macrocosm.

It seems as if Crowley; although he never saw the deck published, he knew he was doing something fundamental. He was a pioneer not only mystical, but philosophical, scientific, religious and magical. Being the truest form of Tarot, Thoth Tarot is the pinnacle of the divine. Crowley’s intention for the deck was clear: “I will not allow the cards to be issued so that they can be used for gambling or fortune telling only.” -AC Aleister Crowley knew the difference between light and dark magic, practicing both in separate rooms of his quarters. I knew that many would want to abuse and mistreat the cover for personal gain, not as a guide. So, reader, heed Crowley’s advice. Do not use the deck if you do not do it with pure intention or nothing good will come out of it. “There is a single main definition of the object of every magical Ritual. It is the union of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm. The Supreme and Complete Ritual is, therefore, the Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel; or, in the language of Mysticism, Union with God.

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