I have spoken about various Tarot spreads and layouts in previous blog posts. In this blog post, I will discuss; 'the abbreviated history of the Tarot' particularly, the Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley. I will also discuss each Atu, Major Arcana, or the Trumps in subsequent blog posts.
The Thoth Tarot has one of the most beautiful imagery and symbolism of any Tarot deck I have ever used. It has captivated my imagination and wonderment. It is magnetizing and mysterious, translucent and surreal. When I do Tarot readings for myself or others, it is almost exclusively with the Thoth Tarot.
In terms of the origins of the Tarot, we are, unfortunately, left rummaging through scraps and crumbs based on speculation rather than evidence. Even the origin of the French word 'Tarot' from the Italian word 'Tarocchi' is unknown. The Tarot is widely considered the precursor to modern playing cards as the Tarot was a popular card game in Italy. The Tarot may have been disguised as a game to help keep its divinatory use hidden. The origin of the divinatory use of the Tarot is the big question.
Crowley channeled the Book of Thoth: The Tarot of the Egyptians (The Equinox, volume III, number 5), the basis for the deck, claiming the Egyptian God Thoth or Tehuti is the creator of the fundamental structure of the Tarot. Tehuti is the Kemetic God of wisdom, writing, and governor of all divinatory systems.
It took Aleister Crowley and Marguerite Frieda Harris five years of meticulous work to complete the endeavor, despite the initial projection being a mere three months. Under strict instructions by Crowley, Harris sometimes had to repaint cards several times before he was content. Although under instruction, Frieda was herself full of spiritual insight and understanding: 'The spiritual quality of earth: eternally pregnant and containing in its fertility the unwritten cipher of cosmic lore.'
While Harris was painting, Crowley was composing; 'The Book of Thoth: A Short Essay on the Tarot of the Egyptians.' Crowley intended his book and deck to be a magical atlas or guide to the universe, and this new Æon of Horus, for the next two thousand years.
In his own words, he says: "Horus rules the present period of 2,000 years, beginning in 1904. Everywhere his government is taking root. Observe for yourselves the decay of the sense of sin, the growth of innocence and irresponsibility, the strange modifications of the reproductive instinct with a tendency to become bi-sexual or epicene, the childlike confidence in progress combined with nightmare fear of catastrophe, against which we are yet half unwilling to take precautions.
Consider the outcrop of dictatorships, only possible when moral growth is in its earliest stages, and the prevalence of infantile cults like Communism, Fascism, Pacifism, Health Crazes, Occultism in nearly all its forms, religions sentimentalized to the point of practical extinction.
Consider the popularity of the cinema, the wireless, the football pools, and guessing competitions, all devices for soothing fractious infants, no seed of purpose in them.
Consider sport, the babyish enthusiasms, and rages which it excites, whole nations disturbed by disputes between boys.
Consider war, the atrocities which occur daily and leave us unmoved and hardly worried.
We are children.”
– Book of the Law on the New Aeon / Age of Horus
The Æon of Horus or Heru is also commonly referred to as the 'Age of Aquarius' which most would be more familiar with and has to do with the procession of our solar system around the center of the galaxy. It takes 24000 years to complete one full revolution, divided into twelve 2000 year periods, each governed by the themes of the twelve constellations of the zodiac found in Astrology.
According to Ra Uru Hu and the Human Design System, we can see this happening on a design level. The human form is evolving cognitively away from left-brained thinking to right-brained thinking. As Crowley had so eloquently put it, "we are children," we are in a time of witnessing the very collapse of the institution, the left brain. People trust their governments less and less, their academic institutions, religious organizations... People have given up faith in the other for faith in themselves, the individual as God, no longer the institution. Before I deviate too far from the theme of this article...
Now, what makes the Thoth Tarot deck so interesting, besides the unique imagery and symbolism, is the rearrangement and renaming of the Major Arcana for this new Æon - traditional Rider-Waite Vs. Thoth:
* 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
Hebrew letter attributions for Major Arcana IV: The Emperor is Tzaddi and XVII: The Star is He.
Additionally, the court cards have also had a revamp:
* King - Knight
* Queen - Queen
* Knight - Prince
* Page - Princess
The suit cards are also novel as they boast unique keywords and astrological attributions incorporated into the illustrations. I will go through all these changes in subsequent parts in greater detail.