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Best Thoth book to start with

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Barleywine  Barleywine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Sternbach View Post
Right. The BoT is spiritually very interesting, but it doesn't give you practical advice on how to deal with everyday difficulties - yet that's exactly what most querents want to know. There, a book like Ziegler's Mirror of the Soul comes in handy. That's why I like it, and so would the OP, I believe.
Possibly. I have it and found it kind of a badly-written jumble (maybe due to a bad translation?). But I haven't looked at it in a very long time. That's why I suggested Banzhaf's Keywords for the Crowley Tarot. It gives the symbolic meanings in small, well-organized nibbles that can be easily digested, but that still have enough integrity to be carried forward into deeper studies. I was actually surprised by this, expecting just a "cookbook."
Top   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barleywine View Post
Possibly. I have it and found it kind of a badly-written jumble (maybe due to a bad translation?). But I haven't looked at it in a very long time. That's why I suggested Banzhaf's Keywords for the Crowley Tarot. It gives the symbolic meanings in small, well-organized nibbles that can be easily digested, but that still have enough integrity to be carried forward into deeper studies. I was actually surprised by this, expecting just a "cookbook."
I'm skeptical about such endeavors. I mean, even I will quote LRichard by saying that it is like driving a sports car to the grocery, what is proposed as "keywords" or whatever is actually counterproductive for study of the Thoth, as it gets you used to bad habits that are very difficult to give up later on. People keep saying that this or that might lead people to study more deeply, but why would anyone send anyone to a book where they would first learn mistakes and then spend time unlearning them? This is what Mirror of the Soul, along with its even worse companion, Mirror of your Relationships, do. Even the keywords book is an abomination. Both of them completely miss the point.

The Thoth Tarot is difficult. When you try to simplify it you end up with Angeles Arrien or, yes, Zeigler. But why the uncontrollable urge to make everything easy for beginners, byte size, approachable, friendly, etc. Not only isn't it any of those things, it also shouldn't be, because it deals with issues that are too serious to be. Why not make everything beginner level, like astrophysics?

I this might sound like the grumbling of a purist, but there really is more to it than that. Coming to terms with the difficulty of the deck is part of the study itself. If you can't handle it, or don't get it the first time around them you try again and again. And again. And again still until you do. But going the "easy, practical" route... well, honestly, this is why I usually don't help the odd request for interpretations here on the Thoth forum. This is because people don't do the work, they don't go the extra mile.

If you find the Thoth easy, or try to make it so, you're doing something wrong. If you find it mysterious and enthralling and consuming and a constant challenge, then mazel tov, you're on the right track.
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Do you know Banzhaf's books? Please don't put him in the same league as Ziegler. He was a respected tarot scholar and astrologer. He was not a Golden Dawn member but his books are based on AC's texts. Explanations are not necessarily dumbing-down. Banzhaf had a wide cultural horizon and it shows in his books.

I was active for quite some time in Banzhaf's German tarot and astrology boards - but after his death they went downhill.

I think it's legitimate that beginners start learning digestible pieces of knowledge. People have different learning styles. Some are motivated by difficulties, others are discouraged and give up. You're lucky that you belong to the first group. Don't forget that knowing Hebrew really helps "entering" - you don't have to memorize, and you understand all the implications of a word like נצח or הוד. That's a real advantage.

I've spent the last 15 or 20 years teaching and I try to make the beginnings easy, too, otherwise I lose half the students' attention. After a while they gain self confidence. And that's okay with me.

The rest of the German speaking tarot literature is very shallow, Fiebig etc are unreadable for me. Banzhaf is the only one I respect. It's a pity that in Germany where quite a strong tarot and cartomancy tradition exists the best books are translated and not original. Well, maybe I don't know enough.
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I also think that keywords are necessary in the beginning. It's like learning mathematics, you start with examples so you get the idea. Once you got the idea, you can apply it to any case at hand. Same with Tarot, once you have digested a number of keywords regarding a card, you see what is connecting them and start understanding the underlying idea. You then learn to adapt this idea to the particular situation. Of course, it's also important to see how the energies associated with the cards act themselves out in real life. Eventually, your knowledge of the cards transcends what can be expressed in words. It's all about getting a feel for them; an intuitive understanding.

I know that Clos suggests constructing the meaning of a card based on Qabbalah. I would add Astrology to that. But that requires an understanding of those sciences. And even then, knowing the components of a Martini doesn't substitute for tasting it. That's why AC suggested practical experience with divination as the primary way to understand the cards.

Also, I don't think that Tarot is completely reducible to anything else. Of course, you can start with any of these arts and then see how they tie in with the others.
Top   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemia View Post
Do you know Banzhaf's books? Please don't put him in the same league as Ziegler. He was a respected tarot scholar and astrologer. He was not a Golden Dawn member but his books are based on AC's texts. Explanations are not necessarily dumbing-down. Banzhaf had a wide cultural horizon and it shows in his books.

I was active for quite some time in Banzhaf's German tarot and astrology boards - but after his death they went downhill.

I think it's legitimate that beginners start learning digestible pieces of knowledge. People have different learning styles. Some are motivated by difficulties, others are discouraged and give up. You're lucky that you belong to the first group. Don't forget that knowing Hebrew really helps "entering" - you don't have to memorize, and you understand all the implications of a word like נצח or הוד. That's a real advantage.

I've spent the last 15 or 20 years teaching and I try to make the beginnings easy, too, otherwise I lose half the students' attention. After a while they gain self confidence. And that's okay with me.

The rest of the German speaking tarot literature is very shallow, Fiebig etc are unreadable for me. Banzhaf is the only one I respect. It's a pity that in Germany where quite a strong tarot and cartomancy tradition exists the best books are translated and not original. Well, maybe I don't know enough.
This. Banzhaf is very good indeed, and it can be handy to have a sort of dictionary to hand sometimes. You can work up from that.
Top   #35
Barleywine's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by closrapexa View Post
I'm skeptical about such endeavors. I mean, even I will quote LRichard by saying that it is like driving a sports car to the grocery, what is proposed as "keywords" or whatever is actually counterproductive for study of the Thoth, as it gets you used to bad habits that are very difficult to give up later on. People keep saying that this or that might lead people to study more deeply, but why would anyone send anyone to a book where they would first learn mistakes and then spend time unlearning them? This is what Mirror of the Soul, along with its even worse companion, Mirror of your Relationships, do. Even the keywords book is an abomination. Both of them completely miss the point.

The Thoth Tarot is difficult. When you try to simplify it you end up with Angeles Arrien or, yes, Zeigler. But why the uncontrollable urge to make everything easy for beginners, byte size, approachable, friendly, etc. Not only isn't it any of those things, it also shouldn't be, because it deals with issues that are too serious to be. Why not make everything beginner level, like astrophysics?

I this might sound like the grumbling of a purist, but there really is more to it than that. Coming to terms with the difficulty of the deck is part of the study itself. If you can't handle it, or don't get it the first time around them you try again and again. And again. And again still until you do. But going the "easy, practical" route... well, honestly, this is why I usually don't help the odd request for interpretations here on the Thoth forum. This is because people don't do the work, they don't go the extra mile.

If you find the Thoth easy, or try to make it so, you're doing something wrong. If you find it mysterious and enthralling and consuming and a constant challenge, then mazel tov, you're on the right track.
Of course you're right - or at least justified - in your observations. But let's step back and look at this pragmatically. The OP has already said she uses the Thoth in a completely intuitive, free-form fashion but knows there is something more to it. I would rather give her the opportunity to take "baby steps" toward the goal instead of throwing her in the deep end (although it's certainly what I did, way back when, and took to it like a duck to water). If it inspires her she will know when the time is right to move up to the "meat" and give up the "milk." Not every Thoth neophyte is completely paralyzed in the face of mysteries, they just need a compass. If it doesn't grab her, no harm has been done and she will go back to her old ways. If the Thoth is only being used as a divination tool (even in a crippled way), who am I to say how someone should approach it. Not everyone can develop a deep, mystical rapport with their tools. As a compass, the symbolism portion of the Banzhaf book is not all that bad (I don't think the card interpretation stuff is all that worthwhile, though). I wouldn't slam the door to the temple just because the seeker falters slightly at the threshold. It's nothing to me, but encouragement is free and I'd rather hold up the Hermit's lamp than hit her over the head with the Hierophant's book. I don't see this as any kind of hermetic "litmus test" to separate the unworthy from the chosen, unless of course she intends to join a "graded" organization. That's a different story.
Top   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barleywine View Post
Of course you're right. But let's step back and look at this pragmatically. The OP has already said she uses the Thoth in a completely intuitive, free-form fashion but knows there is something more to it. I would rather give her the opportunity to take "baby steps" toward the goal instead of throwing her in the deep end (although it's certainly what I did, way back when, and took to it like a duck to water). If it inspires her she will know when the time is right to move up to the "meat" and give up the "milk." Not every Thoth neophyte is completely paralyzed in the face of mysteries, they just need a compass. If it doesn't grab her, no harm has been done and she will go back to her old ways. If the Thoth is only being used as a divination tool (even in a crippled way), who am I to say how someone should approach it. Not everyone can develop a deep, mystical rapport with their tools. As a compass, the symbolism portion of the Banzhaf book is not all that bad (I don't think the card interpretation stuff is all that worthwhile, though). I wouldn't slam the door to the temple just because the seeker falters slightly at the threshold. It's nothing to me, but encouragement is free and I'd rather hold up the Hermit's lamp than hit her over the head with the Hierophant's book. I don't see this as any kind of hermetic "litmus test" to separate the unworthy from the chosen, unless of course she intends to join a "graded" organization. That's a different story.
That's a much better way of saying what I meant.

You sit and look at a card - having tried to get it through DuQuette and you have a vague memory that there was something about that sigil in the corner but what the...

And you turn to the right page in Banzhaf and you get the info to go deeper. Trying to look that sigil up in other books is tougher and leads to giving up (I am STILL wondering WHERE in DuQuette I read something I did read in there, which I later found - in info here ! - was a mistake and now I can't find it... and don't ask me what as I can't even remember THAT just now !)
Top   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Sternbach View Post
I also think that keywords are necessary in the beginning. It's like learning mathematics, you start with examples so you get the idea. Once you got the idea, you can apply it to any case at hand. Same with Tarot, once you have digested a number of keywords regarding a card, you see what is connecting them and start understanding the underlying idea. You then learn to adapt this idea to the particular situation. Of course, it's also important to see how the energies associated with the cards act themselves out in real life. Eventually, your knowledge of the cards transcends what can be expressed in words. It's all about getting a feel for them; an intuitive understanding.

I know that Clos suggests constructing the meaning of a card based on Qabbalah. I would add Astrology to that. But that requires an understanding of those sciences. And even then, knowing the components of a Martini doesn't substitute for tasting it. That's why AC suggested practical experience with divination as the primary way to understand the cards.

Also, I don't think that Tarot is completely reducible to anything else. Of course, you can start with any of these arts and then see how they tie in with the others.
I concur that you eventually leave the written word behind, for the most part, once you internalize the symbolism. (Although the BoT - and of course it's conceptual parent, the Book of the Law - continue to reward on every reading.) Once you do that, inspired impressions come more like a "lightning flash" than as painstakingly excavated pearls of wisdom. The keyword books fall into what I call the "deconstructionist" category (my favorite tarot tag lately); they take a forbidding, monolithic body of material and turn it into a kind of "jigsaw puzzle." As closrapexa has said, the Tree of Life approach and it's correspondences are not all that complicated to wrap your head around; that's the 500-piece puzzle. On the other hand, the BoT is the 3,000-piece version, and the apparent distinction between pieces can be very subtle. As to the other techniques - astrological correspondences, number theory, sepherotic "roadmaps," elemental associations, color scales, geomantic figures - they just add richness to what is already a very flavorful stew. (Pardon the convoluted metaphors, I tend to string ideas together in imaginitive leaps.)

OK, despite the above, I confess I'm not too proud to pull out a book if I'm after a particularly trenchant word or phrase - and Crowley is rife with them - that I remember seeing somewhere. I also keep James Sturzaker's Kabbalistic Aphorisms on my desk, along with The Tarot - A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages; they're both gold mines of inspiration.
Top   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barleywine View Post
Of course you're right - or at least justified - in your observations. But let's step back and look at this pragmatically. The OP has already said she uses the Thoth in a completely intuitive, free-form fashion but knows there is something more to it. I would rather give her the opportunity to take "baby steps" toward the goal instead of throwing her in the deep end (although it's certainly what I did, way back when, and took to it like a duck to water). If it inspires her she will know when the time is right to move up to the "meat" and give up the "milk." Not every Thoth neophyte is completely paralyzed in the face of mysteries, they just need a compass. If it doesn't grab her, no harm has been done and she will go back to her old ways. If the Thoth is only being used as a divination tool (even in a crippled way), who am I to say how someone should approach it. Not everyone can develop a deep, mystical rapport with their tools. As a compass, the symbolism portion of the Banzhaf book is not all that bad (I don't think the card interpretation stuff is all that worthwhile, though). I wouldn't slam the door to the temple just because the seeker falters slightly at the threshold. It's nothing to me, but encouragement is free and I'd rather hold up the Hermit's lamp than hit her over the head with the Hierophant's book. I don't see this as any kind of hermetic "litmus test" to separate the unworthy from the chosen, unless of course she intends to join a "graded" organization. That's a different story.
This made me smile because I can so relate to it. No, I don't want to be hit over the head with The Hierophant's book; I just want an introduction and some direction. And no, I'm not planning on joining the order just yet

Thanks so much for your replies! This is so interesting and helpful!
Top   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregory View Post
This. Banzhaf is very good indeed, and it can be handy to have a sort of dictionary to hand sometimes. You can work up from that.
Okay, thanks very much!
Top   #40




 


 


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