Saturday, May 07, 2011

Tarot: The Thoth Tarot

Since I am strongly attuned to visual stimulae, I am particular about what major variation of the Tarot that I use. The Marseilles Deck left me cold with its garish images.  Furthermore, I have a visceral visual dislike of the Rider-Waite Tarot with its cutesy pictures.  Therefore, my deck of choice is the Thoth deck by Aleister Crowley.

What drew me to the Thoth deck was its vivid art work and striking colours.  The power of the Tower (ATU XVI) was so great that I bonded with it.  The Tower card reminded me of Picasso’s painting “Guernica”.  The same strong lines and feeling of grief, anger, and loss permeated both.  The Thoth deck, which reflects important aspects of the art of the 1920s and 30s, won my admiration and respect.
Guernica by Picasso
 In contrast to The Tower is the Knight of Disks (King of Pentacles).  This card presents a less dramatic and more pastoral picture.  The Knight, seated on his grazing horse, surveys his field of ripening grain.  The lush rich tones of the scene convey a feeling of satisfaction and plenty.  

The Lovers (ATU VI) is a subtle union of opposites.  The couple being united is the Emperor (ATU IV) and Empress (ATU III) with the hooded Hermit (ATU IX) presiding.  (These three represent the states of being for humans.) The richness of this card’s imagery includes the Orphic Egg, the result of the Lovers’ union.  This seed from their Union becomes Horus, the future of the world.  The Lovers card is so rich in subtlety that a person could spend hours in meditation with it.

Surveying the clones of each of the three variations reaffirms my original choice.  Although the Bifrost Tarot (Jeremy Lampkin, 2006) is a modern version of the Thoth deck, the images are still rich in symbolism.  It still carries the symbolism of the Thoth Minors such as the Second of Wands being the “Lord of Dominion”.  In my opinion, the decks based on the Rider-Waite Tarot still suffer from the limited symbolism of that variation.  Meanwhile, the variations of the Marseilles decks seem more obtuse and unfathomable for me.

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