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Nevada's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeon418
People often gripe and complain about Crowley's obscure and cryptic style. But that's one of the best things about them. His books unfold like a flower and reveal their secrets only when you are ready to see them. It's a bit like a time release system.

DuQuette comments on this same phenomenon in the first few pages of his book. He's absolutely right when he says that the book changes and grows with the reader.
I have found that with the passage of years some of his wording has opened up for me. But on the whole I still find his writings fairly obtuse and not of value to refer to very often. There's something about his phrasing hits me the wrong way. I'm not one of those people who thinks he was evil or anything. We just communicate in different ways perhaps.

I have even now and then thought I felt his presence while using the deck, and once wrote down an imaginary conversation with him that was great fun. I saw him as having an engaging sense of humor. But his writings - sorry. I can only take them in small doses.

Mind you, I have not given up on them. I keep the Book of Thoth with my other tarot books and refer to it now and then. But I'm not going to be powering through it again, or through all of his writings anytime soon. It's simply not necessary for my use of the deck, and I have many other things on my reading list before that will happen.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nevada
The artwork speaks quite loudly for itself, as it should. I think that those who swear by reading all of Crowley's writings in order to read with the Thoth deck are missing the point of a tarot deck. The images should carry the message intended.
[...]
Most of what I get from deck creators (Crowley or anyone else) is help identifying objects and figures in the images and why those were considered appropriate symbols for those cards. [...] Much of what's in his book is also ON THE CARDS.
Yes, I quite agree that the imagery of the Thoth deck communicates its ideas quite well. Crowley's writings add another dimension to the meanings by putting them in the context of Qabalah, astrology, mythology, etc. However, these occult correspondences are not, in themselves, meaning; they are merely paths to meaning. Other paths may be found in the direct visual experience of the cards.

As for the original topic, the Arrien book, it seems to me that she has supplanted Crowley's esoteric correspondences with her own psychological and anthropological ones. I don't see this as being in any way closer to an true understanding of the Thoth. On the contrary, because she has replaced the correspondences designed into the cards with her own, what we get is a third-party description of the deck. This might be interesting as an exercise in comparative mythology, but it's only a rough paraphrase of the Thoth.

I think if one wants a left-brain perspective on the Thoth, Crowley and his apologists are the only valid source. However, if you are right-brained, visually literate, and have some knowledge of Qabalah, astrology, and mythology, the deck alone can take you much of the way there.
Top   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zan_chan
I come upon an article that says that the study bit is unnecessary and Thoth can simply be taken for what it is
I can't find anywhere where I said that study of the Thoth deck is unnecessary. I did write: "Certainly Crowley’s erudition is great, and we benefit from the knowledge that he put into the Thoth book and deck (his book is magnificient!)." I've often said that Crowley's Book of Thoth is the best book on the Thoth deck in existence. But I think there is more to the symbols than just what Crowley wrote, and that sometimes these other things can offer important insights and breaththroughs in a reading.

I'm also interested in the difference between the functioning of a sign and a symbol. If exact definitions and fixed meanings were all there were to this Tarot deck then wouldn't we be best served by simply using a deck of index cards that would direct us to the corresponding sections in Crowley's book(s)?

Some people like to treat the Thoth deck as a set of signs, which have no meaning outside of the very specific things said by Crowley.

Other people see the images as symbols, in which the symbol triggers something within the viewer and metaphysically operates according to the doctrine of correspondences—containing attributes that directly relate one level of experience to another and can continue to unfold in meaning over time, revealing new associations.

As for reading the cards (including the Thoth deck), I keep returning to Carl Jung's advice: "Learn as much as you can about symbolism; then forget it all when you are analyzing a dream." Learn as much as you can about Crowley's intentions for the tarot symbols but be open to everything else that you can bring to the table and especially to what happens in the moment.

If we are to agree with Crowley that "in the order to divine without error, one ought to be a Master of the Temple" then none of us should read the cards until we have achieved such supreme mastery!!!

However, I agree more with his statement: "It is essential to explore oneself to the utmost, to analyse one's mind until one can be positive, beyond the possibility of error, that one is able to detach oneself entirely from the question." I use tarot primarily to help me explore myself to the utmost—to discover and come to terms with my hidden intentions and wishes. I consider it a lifetime process that I may never fully achieve to detach myself entirely—although there are moments of grace where it seems to happen.

As to what would happen if Crowley's book became lost: Imagine for a moment that the person who created the the original 15th century Italian deck had a specific intent and meaning for every symbol and for the deck's overall design and structure, and that this person wrote it all down with the intent that the cards be used only in this way. To use the tarot as intended we would need to know everything written in that work. Would that mean all our modern associations for the cards and development of the tarot were meaningless and wrong? How much would that matter? What harm would we have been doing to ourselves and to tarot? Personally, I like to contemplate such questions.
Top   #43
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There's a note on Soror I.W.E. and some of the changes that Crowley made to the Book of Thoth (referencing the original typed manuscript with corrections) here:
http://ny.bloomsburyauctions.com/detail/NY022/105.0
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nevada
I find it interesting that Crowley was such a rebel against established forms and yet so many that are interested in his deck want everyone to conform to what he says.
You will find that most 'Crowleyites', or most people who have time for him, live lives of non-conformity. So your opinion is not borne out in fact.

Crowley was a social rebel, but he was not a rebel against scholarship and learning: quite the opposite. He had no patience with dilettantes and he didn't make a deck for dabblers. If that's one thing that people who work with his material have in common, it is that attachment to scholarship and learning, and a commitment to learning about the magickal and Thelemic system, even the non-magickians and non-Thelemites among them (of which they are many). Rightly, they have no patience with those who can't even be bothered to read the Book of Thoth, let alone put in the time for inner and outer study to understand the symbolism and transform it into living keys.

Crowley also knew that in order to critique something - anything - one had to become proficient in it first. He was able to change a number of the GD and the original Thelemic tenets because he got to know them. He was able to synchretise so many different symbol-systems, because he understood them. By the same token, in order to critique him and to fly a different flag on his deck, we have to know his work. Simply to reject Crowley's writings on the grounds they are too obscure, difficult, complex, arcane, magickal or not one's cup of tea - that's not being a rebel, it's just lazy scholarship (btw, I'm not having a go at you, Nevada - you have engaged in the material despite finding it abstruse - and found as Aeon wrote, that it opens up to you with time - no doubt because of all the effort you put in knowing the deck. I am writing for those tempted to open the BoT, read three pages and put it down, never to open it again, and then say 'we don't need to read Crowley to work with his deck': to that statement, I say: nonsense.)

You don't have to be a Jew or a Christian to read the Bible: but you can't excise Jehovah from it. Likewise, you don't have to be a magickian or a Thelemite to read the Thoth tarot, but you can't excise its magickal intent and the specific Thelemic intent of the creators from it. I know at least two Thothites on this forum who are most definitely neither; and they are both among the most independent thinkers I know. But they are both committed to learning, and can't see how one is to illuminate the Book of Thoth (deck) from the inside without at the very least the Book of Thoth (book).

To answer the main thrust of this thread, Zan's question: you can study the Thoth without Crowley's writings, but that is incredibly time consuming, because it involves: 1) going back to all the sources used in over 40 years of magickal life; 2) figuring out the changes he made to the GD system, and why; and 3) figuring out the choices of symbols; getting to know 1940s Thelema from non-Crowley sources. Some elements on the cards are classic GD - for instance, most of the colours used, most, though not all, the astrological correspondences - but some are definitely not.

And just to throw a fly in the ointment, I'll add that reading only Crowley's material is equally worthless! You do need to go back to the source and figure out symbols from various perspectives, including your own dream-perspective (because you'll find, as you work with the Thoth, that its symbols will crop up in your dreams). Pathworking and working with the symbols as magickal keys are also two powerful ways of getting to know this deck. Of course, that's why studying the Thoth is like climbing a mountain - as soon as you think you're nearly at the top, you see another long hill looming above you.

When it comes to reading the deck, nobody - least of all Crowley - would expect you to have his books at your side at all times, slavishly trying to explain to your querents the alchemical process taking place in The Lovers, when what your querent wants to know is if their boyfriend will propose or not. From that perspective, the Book of Thoth (book) leaves the reader free to reach his own interpretations: with the caveat that fortune-telling is a worthless activity


As for Crowley's joke 'its perusal may be omitted with advantage' - I would say it's a tongue-in-cheek exercise in reverse psychology, of the kind he often practiced.
Top   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti
If we are to agree with Crowley that "in the order to divine without error, one ought to be a Master of the Temple" then none of us should read the cards until we have achieved such supreme mastery!!!
And immediately after that he says it is great practice for those who aspire to that exalted grade.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti
As to what would happen if Crowley's book became lost:
We don't have to imagine an outcome to this hypothetical question. We already have an example of what happens when the Book of Thoth gets lost.

The Tarot Handbook by Angeles Arrien
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeon418
We don't have to imagine an outcome to this hypothetical question. We already have an example of what happens when the Book of Thoth gets lost.

The Tarot Handbook by Angeles Arrien
But it's a terrible example, Aeon. Arrien's book is a bad book, it can't be used as a criterium. It's perfectly possible to imagine someone writing a good book without access to any of Crowley's books. Someone serious who engages with the material from various perspectives, who takes time to return to the sources, who is gifted with great Imagination - and who is an inspired and inspiring writer. Arrien, by all accounts, is inspired: but that book is not in the least inspiring
Top   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sophie
As for Crowley's joke 'its perusal may be omitted with advantage' - I would say it's a tongue-in-cheek exercise in reverse psychology, of the kind he often practiced.
It reminds me of a similar Comment.
Quote:
THE COMMENT.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

The study of this Book is forbidden. It is wise to destroy this copy after the first reading.

Whosoever disregards this does so at his own risk and peril. These are most dire.

Those who discuss the contents of this Book are to be shunned by all, as centres of pestilence.

All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself.

There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.

Love is the law, love under will.
The Book of Thoth, p,115-116:
Quote:
This new Tarot may therefore be regarded as a series of illustrations to the Book of the Law; the doctrine is of that Book is everywhere implicit.
Top   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sophie
But it's a terrible example, Aeon. Arrien's book is a bad book, it can't be used as a criterium.
Yes, but it's an example of what happens when you throw away the Book of Thoth and then ignore the "voice" of the deck.
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Teheuti's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeon418
And immediately after that he says it is great practice for those who aspire to that exalted grade.
Which was my point. At the practice stage it is one's teacher.

Quote:
We don't have to imagine an outcome to this hypothetical question. We already have an example of what happens when the Book of Thoth gets lost.

The Tarot Handbook by Angeles Arrien
I assume from this that you see all of tarot since its inception in a similar light—lesser works that weaken the original intention.
Top   #50




 


 


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