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Learning the RWS system when coming from the Thoth school

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The question of Cathar influence is quite fascinating and deserves to be fully explored, and not on one leg mid-thread. You are all welcome to open a dedicated thread for it.
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Waite's divinatory meanings are patched together from a variety of historical sources. I would stop short of saying they're irrelevant; Waite mentions a type of formalized working based on them. But his preferred method was intuition in the sense of tapping into another state of awareness. From the Pictorial Key:
"Such are the intimations of the Lesser Arcana in respect of divinatory art, the veridic [true] nature of which seems to depend on an alternative that it may be serviceable to express briefly. The records of the art are, ex hypothesi [according to the hypothesis], the records of findings in the past based upon experience; as such, they are a guide to memory, and those who can master the elements may—still ex hypothesi—give interpretations on their basis. It is an official and automatic working. On the other hand, those who have gifts of intuition, of second sight, of clairvoyance—call it as we choose and may—will supplement the experience of the past by the findings of their own faculty, and will speak of that which they have seen in the pretexts of the oracles."
In other words, a person might say "the cards say" this or that, but in reality it came from their own intuition. And:
"At the same time, divinations based on intuition and second sight are of little practical value unless they come down from the region of universals to that of particulars; but in proportion as this gift is present in a particular case, the specific meanings recorded by past cartomancists will be disregarded in favor of the personal appreciation of card values."
The meanings derived from intuition, assuming they're truly from a universal source, take priority.

And,
“I have said that these Lesser Arcana have not been translated into a language which transcends that of fortune-telling. I should not indeed be disposed to regard them as belonging in their existing forms to another realm than this; but the field of divinatory possibilities is inexhaustible, by the hypothesis of the art; and the combined systems of cartomancy have indicated only the bare heads of significance attaching to the emblems in use. When the pictures in the present case go beyond the conventional meanings they should be taken as hints of possible developments along the same lines; and this is one of the reasons why the pictorial devices here attached to the four denaries will prove a great help to intuition. The mere numerical powers and bare words of the meanings are insufficient by themselves; but the pictures are like doors which open into unexpected chambers or like a turn in the open road with a wide prospect beyond.”
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabcosmic View Post
.....So if a reader using the Rider-Waite doesn't do it exactly by the book and exactly how Waite wanted then using the deck is pointless? Or that anyone who reads the Rider-Waite is not allowed to read up on the history of the Tarot or think about theories regarding it's origin and design?

That sounds like a very fundamentalist approach, which is neither helpful in learning how to read the cards or developing one's reading skills and intuition.
Waite did not approve of using the Major Arcana for divination. For the Minors, which basically constitute a playing card deck, he expresses a preference for the use of intuition. If the reader finds their intuition to be insufficiently productive, he provides a list of suggested meanings for each card, apparently cobbled together from various sources.

Waite did not specify a "system" for the divinatory interpretation of the Tarot cards!
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For me, the most important common denominator of the Thoth and the RWS (and other GD based decks as well) is their underlying astrology - especially regarding the Minor Arcana. Austin Coppock's 36 Faces is really good in this regard.

Taking this approach made it clear to me that the equivalent cards of the various decks emphasize different sides of the same astrological/archetypal pattern.
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Folks, please stick to the subject of the thread, which is how to approach to RWS when coming from the Thoth. The subject of the thread isn't whether or not the RWS was intended to be used for divination. Please start a new thread (or resurrect an existing one, because I'm sure that subject has been broached before) to discuss that topic. No posts have been removed from this thread yet, but continued off-topic posts will be removed.
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I had the same problem. My first and for some time only deck was the Thoth, then I bought Cosmic and Haindl, both closer to Thoth than RWS.... and it took some time to get used to my first RWS "clone", the Morgan Greer.

Maybe Wen's book is too much information? Maybe a book like 78 Degrees of Wisdom or a Barbara Moore or Andrea Green book is better, or Huggens 101? A book that focuses on card meanings and doesn't address so many issues like Wen's book.

Try to approach the RWS totally different, don't compare.

Can I use a personal comparison? I learned many years ago to touchtype. I can type fast and without looking at the keyboard in 3 languages. One of them is Hebrew which has a completely different keyboard. I can switch NOW my keyboard and start writing Hebrew. But don't ask me on which key is letter mem or nun! I couldn't tell you which letters share a keyboard. I can only USE the keyboard, but I switch into a totally different mode when I change between languages and alphabets.

And that's IMO what you have to do to read RWS successfully. Rely on the things you know: astrological and elemental associations, core meanings of the trumps (they're much closer than the minors), colour symbolism, general knowledge about mythological and allegorical figures and symbols.

And then use the narrative structure of the RWS. Where are persons looking at, what patterns can you see, is there a flow from card to card or not etc. It's much easier to start with the RWS because it's like describing a word of art. Your first entrance question is not "what do I KNOW?" but "what do I SEE?" Men or women or children, animals, symbols, time of the year? Start by describing what you actually see, it really helps. The figures seem to act out scenes - what scenes are they? Sometimes, the figures really seem to speak to us or each other.

I find that I get on best when I simply put on my RWS hat and take off my Thoth hat. The same is true for other decks, too. I work with the deck that I see in front of me. I don't use RWS or Thoth interpretations for decks that work differently. I know others that do; for me, that would be too confusing.
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Learning the RWS system when coming from the Thoth school


A. E. Waite did not formulate an "RWS system." Although RWS is not a Thelemic deck, neither RWS nor Thoth is fundamentally incompatible with the underlying Golden Dawn system. In particular, the Picatrix decans, as adapted for Tarot by MacGregor Mathers, underlie the pips cards in both decks. Although RWS and Thoth may appear superficially to be at opposite ends of the Tarot spectrum, structurally they have such strong similarities that it would be a mistake to insist that they are radically divergent. In fact, even their Tree of Life attributions are essentially the same.
Top   #17
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Thanks everyone for sharing your experience or giving advices!

Quote:
Taking this approach made it clear to me that the equivalent cards of the various decks emphasize different sides of the same astrological/archetypal pattern.
This make sense and I think that's what I should keep in mind. I guess I get bothered too quickly by meanings that seems different or shallow (Take that 6 of cups : The Thoth one, when you relate to Tipharet makes perfect sense. But when looking at the 6 of cups from the RWS, I don't see the Tipharet relation with the common associated keywords "childhood, nostalgia, memories". It feels too passive and shallow to express what the Thoth one depict and radiate).

Quote:
And then use the narrative structure of the RWS. Where are persons looking at, what patterns can you see, is there a flow from card to card or not etc. It's much easier to start with the RWS because it's like describing a word of art. Your first entrance question is not "what do I KNOW?" but "what do I SEE?" Men or women or children, animals, symbols, time of the year? Start by describing what you actually see, it really helps. The figures seem to act out scenes - what scenes are they? Sometimes, the figures really seem to speak to us or each other.
Yes, I guess I should have a different perspective on how to approach this deck and exploit the narrative side of the minors.

Quote:
When I read with any RWS deck I use it much like the Thoth with Quabalah, astrology, etc. but go with the flow of the images which focus the abstract attributions to a more narrow range of meanings. So there's no problem, but as others have said, the RWS does have its own angle, and reading the PKT in its entirety is well worth the effort. Say special attention to the section entitled "The Doctrine Behind the Veil," in which Waite goes into the greater meanings of the cards.
Yes "narrow" is the word and that's why I feared sometimes missing a part of the meaning. I'm glad I've got the PKT in the RWS Pamela Coleman Smith Commemorative Set! Thought it would be a hard read as a beginner with the RWS but will definetely read it.
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For me, tough part was and still is difference in their book meanings on some of the cards of each deck. Once I get used to a system, I seem to get mixed up when using the other system.

So I try to stick to the traditional book meanings from the GD, the astrological, cabalistic attributions and Book of Thoth on Thoth deck session.

For RWS, I tend to try to use more of my intuitions emanating from the images of each cards due to its more pictorial design.
Top   #19




 


 


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