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Newbie question concerning the pip keywords

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cardwitch  cardwitch is offline
Join Date: 02 Oct 2014
Location: NM, USA
Posts: 180
Newbie question concerning the pip keywords

Forgive me if this has been discussed before. I tried searching the forum, but I couldn't find anything.

I just started exploring the Thoth. Like many people, I find the images striking and mesmerizing, and think they have the potential to give incredible readings. However, to me the keywords on the pip cards are limiting and annoying. I admit, I'm new to the Thoth, so maybe this is just something I have to get used to, but I'm used to letting the image in a Tarot card "do the talking". I don't (usually) use fixed meanings, but read what I see.

Currently I own a small-sized deck that makes for easy shuffling and handling, but I'm thinking of getting the large size and trimming the borders just to get away from those darned keywords. For those of you who are more experienced with this deck, how important are the keywords in your readings? Do you ignore them? Appreciate them? Rely on them?

I look forward to hearing what you all think
Top   #1
Owl Tarot's Avatar
Owl Tarot  Owl Tarot is offline
Join Date: 14 Oct 2014
Location: The World
Posts: 242
Owl Tarot 

The keywords are actually really helpful, in my opinion at the least. I can even read without the images and just the keywords or the other way around to be frank! Anyway, I think your lack of understanding the importance of the keywords comes not from thin air and requires study to fully appreciate. Let me give you an example, talking about one I do enjoy: 2 of Cups, Love.

2 is the Sephira Chokmah, Wisdom, the Will of God. Cups are the watery suit elementally, usually connected to the emotions. This card is astrologically speaking Venus in Cancer, a really friendly combination. The planet of the Godess of Love, Venus, upon Cancer, a really emotional sign of commitment and protectiveness. I think you may begin to see how the formulas of the Minors work. Connect the Will of God (Chokmah) to Water (Cups) with the planet Venus (Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love in the Greek Pantheon) in the sign Cancer and the result of the mix is Love! What kind of Love is the card referring to? That's not limiting at all if you read more about it below!

Crowley explains it nicely in the Book he created as the companion of his deck:

Originally Posted by Book of Thoth
The Two always represents the Word and the Will. It is the first manifestation. Therefore, in the suit of Water, it must refer to Love, which recovers unity from dividuality by mutual annihilation.

The card also refers to Venus in Cancer. Cancer is, more than any other, the receptive Sign; it is the House of the Moon, and in that Sign Jupiter is exalted. These are, superficially, the three most friendly of the planets.

The hieroglyph of the card represents two cups in the foreground, overflowing upon a calm sea. They are fed with lucent water from a lotus floating upon the sea, from which rises another lotus around whose stem are entwined twin dolphins. The symbolism of the dolphin is very complicated, and must be studied in books of reference; but the general idea is that of the “Royal Art”. The dolphin is peculiarly sacred to Alchemy.

The number Two referring to Will, this card might really be renamed the Lord of Love under Will, for that is its full and true meaning. It shows the harmony of the male and the female: interpreted in the largest sense. It is perfect and placid harmony, radiating an intensity of joy and ecstasy.

Of necessity, the realization of the idea in the Four (as the suit develops) will gradually diminish the purity of its perfection.
If you have the knowledge to properly connect the information piece to piece, like a puzzle, I think you will then find the keywords reallly useful. That however, needs some knowledge of Qabbalah and Astrology to better comprehend. Keywords are a part of the deck the author considered important, and I am of the opinion that respecting his will is important, since we use the deck. Under the proper study, you may reach a point where you could work with the words alone xD
Top   #2
Richard's Avatar
Richard  Richard is offline
Le Mat
Join Date: 21 Dec 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 6,587

Those "keywords" are (mostly) abbreviations of the Golden Dawn card titles, which are associated with the corresponding decans. For example, the decan for the Six of Wands is Jupiter in Leo. You can see the glyphs for Jupiter and Leo on the face of the card, at the top and bottom of the image. The Golden Dawn title is "Lord of Victory," which is shortened to "Victory" on the Thoth card. It need not influence the interpretation of the card any more than "Emperor" tells you what the Emperor card means in a reading. In a particular reading, the Six of Wands could, in fact, mean defeat, since where there is a winner, there usually also is a loser: It depends on which side you are on. Anyhow, I would not castrate the cards by removing the titles, since they have historical significance.
Top   #3
Zephyros's Avatar
Zephyros  Zephyros is offline
Join Date: 31 Jan 2004
Location: Israel
Posts: 8,179

As has been mentioned the keywords are titles and refer to the essential energy of the decan. Removing them is not recommended simply because I believe the Thoth should be dealt with on its own terms because it is different from other decks. Its meanings are not those of the RWS and its images, evocative as they are, tell only a small part of the story. It would be well worth your while to get at least some knowledge about the deck, its history and creator and structure.
Top   #4
Abrac  Abrac is offline
Join Date: 13 Aug 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 4,466

If you want to get rid of the keywords and read intuitively then go for it. As was mentioned, they're there for a reason, but if you want to experiment, why not? It's an easy deck to replace if you ever want a new one.
Top   #5
Michael Sternbach's Avatar
Michael Sternbach  Michael Sternbach is offline
Join Date: 30 Aug 2014
Location: Switzerland
Posts: 942
Michael Sternbach 

Surely, everything that a card implies can't be captured in a single word. But the keywords do express a card's essential character quite nicely. They just shouldn't be read too superficially. It's a unique feature of the Thoth deck that all the cards have names.
Top   #6
Grigori's Avatar
Grigori  Grigori is offline
formerly similia
Join Date: 11 Dec 2004
Location: Aussie boy, born and bred
Posts: 7,658

I'd echo LRichard's comment, and think it's good to remember that the Thoth doesn't have any keywords. They are the titles of the cards, and no more limiting than the titles on the Majors of Courts are. Personally I kept the borders on the cards when studying the Thoth at first, and think it was important to understand the deck as it was designed, and the tradition behind those titles is an important part of that. However my main reading deck I've removed the borders along with the titles for all the cards. This is partly because I like being able to line up the card images with each other and see how they interact, partly because I like the aesthetic better, and partly because the deck was a bit large for my hands and it now shuffles perfectly for me. I know the titles and attribution by heart now, so don't feel disadvantaged by their removal, though the border are also an important symbol themselves, so it's slightly sacrilegious I guess

Wang's book on the Qabalistic Tarot is a good one to study the minors and the context of these titles from. I also found the Cicero's book on their Golden Dawn Magical Tarot very useful. Of course along with the Thoth volumes, particularly DuQuette's Thoth Tarot book are really useful in this area.
Top   #7
ravenest's Avatar
ravenest  ravenest is offline
Join Date: 02 Feb 2006
Location: NSW, Australia
Posts: 13,835

I like them, but I see them as abbreviations of the titles ... which, I think , are important to know of ... they give extra flavour to the cards 'groupings' ; Lord, Angel, Spirit , etc .

Actually, now, I get the card meaning intruding on to the one 'keyword' now, instead of the otherway around
Top   #8
Nemia  Nemia is offline
Join Date: 29 Sep 2013
Location: End of Nowhere
Posts: 2,492

I used the cards for years with borders and keywords (in German - silly enough, some of the keywords were translated incorrectly...). After I knew all the information by heart (astrological sign, Hebrew letter and title), I cut off the borders and I enjoy the cards much more without them. The visual connection between cards is much more immediate and interesting.

But the keywords are important, and so are the symbols on the cards. As long as you have not yet absorbed them, I'd keep them. You can always trim the cards later. Or keep an untrimmed deck alongside the trimmed one, or make a cheat sheet.

(I made a tree of life diagram and it's good to put the cards where they belong. You can see where the light from the Sphirot falls.)

It's a learning process with the Thoth but very worth it.
Top   #9
cardwitch  cardwitch is offline
Join Date: 02 Oct 2014
Location: NM, USA
Posts: 180
Okay, finally I get a chance to reply to my own thread

Thank you so much, everyone, for your insight. As you can all tell, I really didn't "get" the titles until now. I'm going to take my time reading over your replies as I wrap my head around this aspect of the incomparable Thoth Tarot. Thank you again!
Top   #10



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