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The Occult Achievement of the 20th Century-The Thoth

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The Occult Achievement of the 20th Century-The Thoth


The Thoth tarot is one of a kind achievement that the world will never likely see again. It just does not get any more mystical or initiatory that the Thoth.
It is like having the great mystery schools of the world brought into the grasp of your fingertips. Thier is a saying in the christian religion that a christian preacher gives his most sincere sermon right before his death. Whether the preacher knew his death was coming was not important. It was the coming in of the event that somehow on a psychic level influenced him to give his most magnificient sermon ever. To me the Thoth deck has that same kind of aura. The greatest occultist of the past 100 years(maybe ever) giving a final virtuoso performance before leaving this life for a higher one.

See its one thing to have in your possession lets say,the knowledge of the ancient egyptian civilization. But that civilization is long gone,we can learn and compare from what they knew. But we cant really hold it in our hands. With the Thoth we can hold a powerful occult system in our hands and have it mold itself to our own energies and conciousness levels. Not only that but within this living system we have contact with the Egyptians,Sumerians,the Golden Dawn and other occult systems. The more a reader can see the more the Thoth can show. The deck literally has limitless potential that can be taken advantage of by any sincere student.

But the Thoth is indeed not for everyone. There is a reason why decks like the Goddess Tarot and the Tarot of the Cat People exist. People have to read with what they can best respond to. Not everyone can wield the mighty
Mjöllnir that is the Thoth tarot. Once again I say that the Thoth is not a mere deck but a full fledged occult system of its own right. Even if one never joins the OTO or the A.A. you can still get a full dose of the wisdom of Aleister Crowley with this deck provided of course that you are a good student. People can spread lies and misconceptions about Crowleys life all they wish to,but they cannot soil the 78 masterpieces drawn so uniquely by Lady Freda Harris. The Thoth easily crushes the rest of the GD decks with the exception of the Liber T which was of course influenced by the Thoth deck.

The things that are the most chilling about the deck are these:

1. The deck was created during a time of war.
2. Neither Crowely or Harris lived to see it published.

The fact that this was produced in a time of war only adds to the vibratory quality of the cards. For all Crowley and Harris knew they could soon be obliterated by the ravages of war and the new Aeon ushered in right on top of their tombstones. This quality alone adds to the sincerity and virtue of their purpose in those times. It could very well be why Crowley decided to pour his entire magical mind into the deck. Making him another one of the few grandmasters in history who left behind a masterpiece that can be attributed 100% to him,Michealangelo and Beethoven are other notable ones.

As students of the occult know too much of the occult past has been shrouded in mystery. There is mystery in regards to the Thoth deck. People can debate all they want as to whether or not their was actually a Hermes Trimegistus but there is NO debate as to whether Crowley actually existed.
The fact that the deck was published so many years after his death proves Crowley right yet again. He always said the new Aeon was bigger than himself,the fact that the deck got published so many years after his death shows the world was meant to be exposed to the Thoth. The Aeon indeed was meant to have his knowledge transferred literally into the hands of the people.

Looking at Youtube videos where people have recieved the deck it seems that people seem to be intimidated before they even begin to get to know the deck. I am beginning to see that even this serves a purpose. The intimidation will either make people want to learn more what the deck has to offer or make them not use the deck altogether. Either way justice is done because you can only get out of the deck what you put into it. You must bring something to the table to use this deck,you cannot expect to get something out of it for nothing.

The forces of time will never will never dull the effect and magnifigence of the Thoth.The deck will NEVER lie to you,it didnt like back in the 1940's when it was finished and it does not lie today. One can look at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre in Paris all you want,but you cannot take it home with you to personally examine each line and crevice. It is like having the magical mind of Crowley right at your fingertips,available whenever you need to draw upon its wisdom and knowledge. It is understandable why it took 5 years to finish the deck,something this intricate and polished cannot be created quickly.

The artwork of the Star card is so good I would swear I was looking at something that was done on a computer. The artwork of the whole deck is so compelling you can actually forget that these cards were handpainted by a person,rather than sent down from the gods themselves.
Top   #1
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James Wasserman wrote a book of occult art that included the Thoth


Which makes me curious because his book is about occult art and symbolism that includes the Thoth.

I would enjoy art history texts that have Thoth pictorial analysis as art.

...and tarotwise, decks such as the Quest, Haindl and Via that pay tribute to the art are very dynamic.

I will return later to read other views.

Cerulean
Top   #2
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I'm not that sure Crowley added that much to the occult pool; he did add some though, without a doubt. Every occult guru who comes along draws heavily from the pool that was left by others, while adding a little that's original. Usually they don't acknowledge their predecessors and if they do it's to try and discredit the very ones who inspired them!

To me, Harris' artwork is what makes the Crowley Thoth deck work. Apart from that, there's really nothing that's majorly new, only Crowley's spin on the old.
Top   #3
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I love the Thoth deck more and more each day, but let's be provocative...

How much competition is there, really? Up until the 1940s there simply wasn't. Only the RWS. The Convers Marseilles, Wirth Majors, Dotti, and all the other references are simply not explicitly mystical enough.

And even since the 1940s, in terms of artwork and technique, I don't actually think that tarot art is - in general - that accomplished. That is why it stands out so much. She captures a certain dizzying deco style which gets better and better with age, but even so...

It is, yes, an Occult achievement of the 20th Century. But it's not like Literature; you can compare James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Thomas Mann, Kafka, Robert Musil and others and wonder whether ultimately they were perhaps trying to do the same thing, and that there was envy among artists to spark them on. What else is there to compare the Thoth to? It's very much on its own up there. Stage sets, ballet scenery, book illustration, whatever, attracted a great many important artists to break the boundaries (Im thinking of Picasso's sets for the Ballet Russe) but how many genuine artists turned their hand to tarot design? It's pretty echoey in there.

It's just something I often think of when contemplating the artwork of the deck; the competition! I also often think of the Thoth as part of the latter modernist movement...
Top   #4
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To add to what Le Fanu has said, there are several decks by very accomplished artists that are not so accomplished tarotists, and certainly without the benefit of a lifetime devoted to magical studies behind them. I think the Thoth stands out because of the combination of art and scholarship. There also are really not any other decks that have interpreted the GD tarot. Waite's is probably the closest and his agenda was to obscure rather than reveal. Most "magical" decks stop at simple reproduction and fairly rudimentary artwork. The more artistically interesting tarots I can think of are RWS clones, which blend into the background of RWS clones on the market.
Top   #5
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Some modern art variants that seem to draw from the Thoth


1. Haindl's (U.S. Games?) tarot is said to have taken the multicultural significence and ideas of having I-Ching and further, working with runes and other cultural art symbols to draw a personal translation of tarot--I believe it would be more a Thoth interpretation of tarot. I wouldn't know if Haindl's interpretation was as GD occultlike as Crowley--I thought there was a more personal artistic interpretation--say as Salvador Dali's romantic loverlike interpretation of the 78 cards in his collage gift to his wife.

I'm more inclined to say Crowley's I-Ching assignment to the court cards in the development of tarot associations were closer to an English occult practioner's experimentation from personal experience with the I-Ching. I am not certain that Lady Frieda Harris would have interpreted the court cards as she did without Crowley's dedication to interpret the tarot in a way that includes not only GD astrology, but Chinese hexagrams according to standard British translations.

2. The Quest Tarot (Llewellyn) uses computer graphics to symbolically represent many components from the Crowley Thoth. I enjoy using it as a reference symbol dictionary.

3. Liber-T (Lo Scarabeo), whom many here seem to delight in for its creative artfulness.

4. Via-Path of Life (Urania Verlag), a Thelema-based art version which is not discussed widely, but I found beautiful for many reasons (including the Moon card)

Anyway, I am certain there are more Thothlike or workalike decks, but those are the closest that I've handled and among them, I am more inclined to study the Via along with my Thoth deck printings.

Best

Cerulean
Top   #6
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Thanks Cerulean. I find the Via, Haindl and Liber T the most interesting Thoth clones personally, each is attractive in its own way and has a lot of unique content to study also. The Via I think suffers from a pretty basic companion book, and the lack of broader interest in Enochian. The Haindl is interesting in that it has quite comprehenive books written about the cards after their creation directed by the artist, the opposite approach to collaboration as in the Thoth and RWS. Liber T I think will get a lot broader appeal once Scion gives up that 3 hours a night he wastes sleeping and gets cracking on that book
Top   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Fanu
I love the Thoth deck more and more each day, but let's be provocative...

How much competition is there, really? Up until the 1940s there simply wasn't. Only the RWS. The Convers Marseilles, Wirth Majors, Dotti, and all the other references are simply not explicitly mystical enough.

And even since the 1940s, in terms of artwork and technique, I don't actually think that tarot art is - in general - that accomplished. That is why it stands out so much. She captures a certain dizzying deco style which gets better and better with age, but even so...

It is, yes, an Occult achievement of the 20th Century. But it's not like Literature; you can compare James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Thomas Mann, Kafka, Robert Musil and others and wonder whether ultimately they were perhaps trying to do the same thing, and that there was envy among artists to spark them on. What else is there to compare the Thoth to? It's very much on its own up there. Stage sets, ballet scenery, book illustration, whatever, attracted a great many important artists to break the boundaries (Im thinking of Picasso's sets for the Ballet Russe) but how many genuine artists turned their hand to tarot design? It's pretty echoey in there.

It's just something I often think of when contemplating the artwork of the deck; the competition! I also often think of the Thoth as part of the latter modernist movement...
Good points.

You are right there wasnt that much other competition around then.
But you could also say that Crowley was indeed almost all alone at THAT time with the type of knowledge that he had. Back in the 1940's there were not that many occultists who had the experience and depth of knowledge that he had. So not that many people could even attempt to make something like the Thoth.

Thats why I think of the deck as a masterpiece because their will never be too many people around at any given time that can do what he did with the Tarot.
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I love the Thoth, it's nice and deep, I love reading and consult to it but it's time to take a different approach.

First of all, I will recall Scopenhauer's "Reading a book is entering in another person's mind". An image is worth a thousand words, so the tarot is actually the journey of a hero, a fool, an individual. Let the minor be for a while. If we indeed view tarot as a book, we will come to realize that *subjective perception of the world* applies here as well. Everyone is a Fool, and will never stop being one. Crowley is no exception. You take it, and as a personal workshop you intercept it as you wish. This is the Tarot, especially the Thoth, the deck which can be approached from millions of viewpoints without end.

Second, there is contradiction in readings even with it, one of the most accurate decks. Me, you and Le Fanu will differently percieve the same cards in the same spread. Why? Because we are merely individuals. We aren't machines, nor is Crowley.

Third, the war itself might have influenced Crowley's viewpoints and insights in a manner supported by some readers, that the Thoth is a dark deck with a pessimistic approach to life(not me). Broaden your horizons and you shall see were I'm going it. Everything is what you want it to be.
Top   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenshin Gordon
... the Thoth is a dark deck with a pessimistic approach to life...
That's a curious viewpoint. I dont think it is pessamistic at all. One example, and I can give many, is theThoth Devil card, see how happy he looks, alive and free, garlands of flowers ... now look at the Rider - Waite Devil card ... Dude! That's pessimistic (and comedic!).

[And that's just on the superficial visual level.]
Top   #10




 

 


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