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Confused over not connecting with Thoth

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Originally Posted by smw View Post
oops...as the OP said, they didn't ask for a reading interpretation, that was me. I was thinking of connecting to a deck which for me I guess, interpreting or having a go at a reading can be one way of doing that. Thinking of something occurring in your life related to the cards, I find helpful as a way to hook in alongside theory learning.
It was a very interesting approach to the 3 of Swords I have never heard AND it sort of made sense thinking of the context. So thank you! It made me WANTING to look beyond the descriptions.
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When you all read the Thoth, are you looking in a book and strictly go with elements around (passive, ill-dignified etc) or do you read the cards and build up an experience bank of each card?

As an example: The priestess to me has meant "learning/meeting with a group of women with same interest/education/professionalism" instead of the traditional meaning of hidden and intuitive nature of the card.

Here's from Thelema about the Priestess: "A pure, exalted, and gracious influence enters the matter. Change, alternation, reaction, increase and decrease, fluctuation, cyclicity, rhythm; whether for good or evil depends on the dignity. Secrets, hidden things, mysteries awaiting later disclosure. There may be, however, a liability to be carried away by enthusiasm, to become “moonstruck,” unless careful balance is maintained."

This is why I get a bit confused how to approach Thoth as the traditional meanings kind of get lost and then I get lost.

Anyway, I'll keep on fighting this deck until it surrenders, lol!
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It might help to take a step back and focus on the commonalities of RWS and Thoth, as though they approach it in different ways, they both are illustrating Golden Dawn concepts. A simple contrast (one of several) is to say that Waite's deck expresses it through a lens of Christian mysticism and Smith's art shows very specific cartoons or vignettes, which can be a little too narrow at times. Crowley's deck expresses it through a lens of Thelema and Harris' art illustrates the concepts in a more abstract way that for some allows for a larger range of possibility of the expression of the concepts. But they are both starting from Book T.

You mention the Three of Swords, and that is a good example of what I mean. The title (Lord of) Sorrow, and the common depiction of the pierced heart, does lead to an assumption that it means "bad news" as you say. But that is only a vary narrow slice, and not actually how I see that card. I see it as a card of piercing truths that while not necessarily pleasant lead to enlightenment. Like the Buddha and the noble truths about suffering: that all conditional phenomena are not ultimately satisfying. Clinging to an idea or a desire is painful, as nothing lasts. Forcing knowledge and "tearing the rose usunder" doesn't lead to happiness, but if one "knows thyself" then a deeper more universal truth is driven home.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Book of Thoth
The idea of division, of mutability, the idea of the airy quality of things, manifests itself in the Three of Swords, the Lord of Sorrow. Here one is reminded of the darkness of Binah, of the mourning of Isis; but this is not any vulgar sorrow dependent upon any individual disappointment or discontent. It is Weltschmerz, the universal sorrow; it is the quality of melancholy.
So looking at either deck, you may not get that reference to Weltschmerz that physical reality does not match up with the demands of the mind (which I think also applies to the Magician in a sense). You do get a feeling tone but just reading intuitively you are limited to just that, a vague feeling that you won't like this.
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Thoth takes time to get to know. The cats in velveteen doublets decks, or the horrendous photoshopped montage decks that bombard you with late 20th Century 'symbols and signs' from advertising (or worse) seem to be designed for 'ease of use' and for 'intuitive guesswork'. One doesn't even need to take into account the underlying architecture. Even RWS affords this approach by virtue of its scenic pips. Thoth is other, it seduces you with its colour, its patterns, its other worldliness, but it also makes a few demands. IMO one of those demands is patience. It takes time to make this deck your own. It takes time for the concepts underpinning it to be internalised, let alone understood. It's not so much about keywords, but concepts.

There are a couple of decks I 'live' with, Thoth is one. Each day I learn something new. The rewards are high, and based, in part, on the effort you put in.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arbor vitae View Post
.......What am I missing with Thoth? It must be some sort of a connection issue? I mean - I am only a beginner regarding Thoth but trying to read up on it but it still doesn't make any sense to me. Must be something I'm doing wrong. Any tips to connect?

A.V.
Are you taking into account the esoteric symbolism of the cards? This is extremely important for the Thoth deck.

For example, consider the 5 of Cups. At the top of the image is the symbol for Mars, and at the bottom the symbol for Scorpio. This signifies the first decan of Scorpio, whose energy is that of Mars in Scorpio. The Golden Dawn title of this decan is Lord of Loss in Pleasure, which Crowley has changed to Disappointment. Actually, Mars is the planetary ruler of Scorpio, a fiery planet ruling a watery sign, from which one might expect a reactive energy.

The number of the card, five, also suggests a possible change in the status quo, particularly of your mood (the suit of Cups).

Note also the inverted pentagram formed by the pattern of cups and all that this suggests.

There is also the position of the card at Sephirah 5 (Geburah, Strength), opposite Sephirah 4 (Chesed, Mercy) on the Tree of Life, which is full of implications for anyone who is familiar with the Tree of Life, which is the fundamental structure on which the Thoth is based.

Read the section on the 5 of Cups in The Book of Thoth, and I also suggest downloading the free book, Liber Theta, which is a Thelemic revision of the Golden Dawn's Book T. It has an excellent description of each card in the deck.

I am not trying to discourage you. I just wanted to point out a few things implied by Zephyros' post. If you wish to read the Thoth intuitively, go right ahead, but you may or may not find the deck amenable to this approach.
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Arbor Vitae, your user name means Tree of Life - and using the kabbalistic and astrological correspondences will definitely help you. Even one of these. But others have said that before me and better.

But I have a question. At least twice, you called RWS "traditional" as opposed to Thoth. As far as I know, Thoth and RWS are not so far removed historically, and they actually belong to the same tradition. The word "traditional" which I have seen often used for the RWS gives some kind of authority to the RWS which in my book it doesn't have. The Marseilles, that's an older tradition, but the RWS and Thoth belong to the same era.

Don't use the RWS as measuring stick for the Thoth, is my advice. I read the Thoth for years with intuition, knowledge in art, mythology and astrology, but without the foundations of kabbalah and alchemy (I'm still weak in the alchemical department and a mere interested beginner in the kabbalah). And I learned that studying the Thoth really helps your intuition! I have the most uncannily precise readings with the Thoth.

In a way, the difference between RWS and Thoth is like the difference between figurative and abstract art. Even if you know nothing about art, a figurative painting always "lets you in" and you can find your way via the motif and the way it's painted and how it compares to "reality". Abstract art and the Thoth don't open the door so easily. You have to learn a new language.

One can love both narrative and abstract decks, but I find that I read them very differently. I'm fine with that, and so are many others here on AT.
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I find that many new, or budding, Thoth users seem to have the impression that it is a deck in which all must be done "by the book," and there is lacking that element of intuitive imagination that goes into mainstream readings of the RWS. While reading Tarot using esoteric attributions does demands knowledge of its symbolic language and structure, I myself find it a wholly abstract and creative process because there are no real rules that dictate how much weight is given each element. The structure affords a greater picture of a given card, a more interconnected symbolic vocabulary through which to look at an idea expressed but the process of linking them all together is far from sterile, you just need to keep in mind that many of the most important symbols pertaining to a card aren't on the card itself.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemia View Post
...Thoth and RWS are not so far removed historically, and they actually belong to the same tradition. The word "traditional" which I have seen often used for the RWS gives some kind of authority to the RWS which in my book it doesn't have. The Marseilles, that's an older tradition, but the RWS and Thoth belong to the same era.

Don't use the RWS as measuring stick for the Thoth, is my advice...

In a way, the difference between RWS and Thoth is like the difference between figurative and abstract art. Even if you know nothing about art, a figurative painting always "lets you in" and you can find your way via the motif and the way it's painted and how it compares to "reality". Abstract art and the Thoth don't open the door so easily. You have to learn a new language...
That's beautiful Nemia and has brought out the shape to what I have found myself unable to express about the two decks. Thankyou.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arbor vitae View Post
...What am I missing with Thoth? It must be some sort of a connection issue? I mean - I am only a beginner regarding Thoth but trying to read up on it - but it still doesn't make any sense to me. Must be something I'm doing wrong. Any tips to connect?
Wrong? Not likely.
Continue reading? Abstract is a very different language. At some point the penny will drop.
I don't read with it myself... I need to read more about it first. LOL
But - I do so LOVE the artwork.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiffo View Post
Thoth takes time to get to know. The cats in velveteen doublets decks, or the horrendous photoshopped montage decks that bombard you with late 20th Century 'symbols and signs' from advertising (or worse) seem to be designed for 'ease of use' and for 'intuitive guesswork'. One doesn't even need to take into account the underlying architecture. Even RWS affords this approach by virtue of its scenic pips. Thoth is other, it seduces you with its colour, its patterns, its other worldliness, but it also makes a few demands. IMO one of those demands is patience. It takes time to make this deck your own. It takes time for the concepts underpinning it to be internalised, let alone understood. It's not so much about keywords, but concepts.

There are a couple of decks I 'live' with, Thoth is one. Each day I learn something new. The rewards are high, and based, in part, on the effort you put in.
Well said!
I will add that I often don't use Thoth for divination but prefer to use it for meditation.
It is a DEEP deck.
However I have gotten accurate divinations from it - especially the courts of this deck Crowley has "painted" very exact psychological portraits.
Part of connecting with Thoth deck (for me) was finding the right books to learn it.
Book of Thoth - straight from Crowley - most of it boggles my mind EXCEPT the descriptions of the Courts are totally awesome, spot-on, and understandable.
Tarot, Mirror of your soul (or something) by Gerd Ziegler. HANDS DOWN my fave Thoth book and really helped me connect with the deck. Also by same author Tarot Mirror of your Relationships.
Angeles Arrien's book. I don't like her interpretations ... but the book has other interesting information so I find it valuable.
Lon Milo DuQuette's new book about the Tarot ... what can you say ... his writing style is a pleasure and he makes the technical stuff painless to learn.

With these 4 books I feel I have very strong connection to that deck and appreciation for the power behind the artwork and the magic of its conception. It is not fluffy nonsense like some of these modern decks. It is real magical symbolism. What Gurdjieff might call Objective Art.

Good luck!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatKat View Post
Well said!
I will add that I often don't use Thoth for divination but prefer to use it for meditation.
It is a DEEP deck...
Part of connecting with Thoth deck (for me) was finding the right books to learn it...
Thanks for book refs. Have found a 2nd hand Ziegler.
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