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I read RWS, should I ignore Thoth meanings

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Originally Posted by Zephyros View Post
I don't know how good a general Tarot dictionary would be for the Thoth since it's all contextual. A symbol found in the RWS could mean something similar in the Thoth, but its application and context could be entirely different. Per the example I gave before, Crowley's take on Cain and Abel is completely different from anything I've ever read. That may say a lot about my own ignorance, but Crowley uses symbols the way Humpty Dumpty uses words, he makes them mean anything he wants them to, albeit with reason and intelligence. He can, at the very least, explain his process.
I've found that a decent dictionary of symbolism - like Cirlot's - to be of some use in this regard. You still have to make the cognitive leap between symbolic universalism and "Crowley-ism," but I find it occasionally insightful.
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Originally Posted by Barleywine View Post
I have Bill Butler's Dictionary of the Tarot which takes a similar approach. But the best example of multiple-deck comparison, at least for the purpose here, is Robert Wang's Qabalistic Tarot. It compares the TdM, the RWS, the Thoth and the Regardie/Wang collaborative Golden Dawn deck. It's advantage is summed up in the title, especially if the intent is to pursue the more esoteric side of things. I highly recommend it.
Yes, it's a great book. However, it only explores Tarot from the Kabbalistic perspective (as its title announces), more specifically, from the GD's Kabbalistic perspective. Riley's book is not bound to any particular view, but explores many in a concise manner. Both is fine, but the way I see it, cannot really be compared.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zephyros View Post
I don't know how good a general Tarot dictionary would be for the Thoth since it's all contextual. A symbol found in the RWS could mean something similar in the Thoth, but its application and context could be entirely different. Per the example I gave before, Crowley's take on Cain and Abel is completely different from anything I've ever read. That may say a lot about my own ignorance, but Crowley uses symbols the way Humpty Dumpty uses words, he makes them mean anything he wants them to, albeit with reason and intelligence. He can, at the very least, explain his process.

Everything from the snake on the Tower to the sparrow on the Empress has a specific place in the greater whole. This doesn't mean that there is no room to maneuver, but you're navigating a certain world that has its own rules.

Incidentally, I disagree with Crowley on Cain and Abel, and can't see eye to eye with him on that topic at all. But, not to put on airs, there's a way to disagree in an informed manner, rather than just saying the two babies symbolize childbirth or whatever comes to mind from the image. Far from blaming anyone for thinking that, it makes sense that they would because the two are in fact pictured as babies. A typical Golden Dawn deck uses symbols in a far more conventional manner and is thus easier to unravel. That, I think, is where Arrien falls, because the symbols don't mean what common sense or intuition would dictate.
I am not saying that this is completely wrong but the Thoth wouldn't be universal if its symbols weren't. Real symbols belong to the collective unconscious of Man. If they are elements of a coded language, they actually can no longer be called symbols, they become signs.

A little thought experiment... What if Crowley's books would have been lost, and only the deck remained? Would it still be possible to make sense of it? Isn't the deck actually a picture book in its own right?

Here's another one: What if Crowley's writings could only be understood in relation to the symbolism of the Thoth, rather than the other way around? What if AC's writings simply offered a (pretty good) take on a symbolism that is universal? Would they be at all relevant if it wasn't so?

Oh, and there are plenty of symbols on the cards about which Crowley doesn't say a word in the BoT!
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Originally Posted by Michael Sternbach View Post
Very funny. I was going to mention Riley's Tarot Dictionary too, but you beat me to it. It's one of my favourite Tarot books, actually. I enjoy looking up all the different takes on a card by various authors, see how they interconnect - and sometimes diverge. Yes, that can be greatly confusing for a newbie, to be sure.

I'm taking a practical approach: I pay attention to what resonates, and write it down in my journal, along with my own thoughts and material from other sources. Sometimes links occur to me between the different meanings that I didn't see before.

Also links between various equivalent cards in different decks become more obvious, so I terntatively started extending my journals into decks other than the Thoth.

This is what I mean by grasping the archetypes that are underlying all the cards of different decks. It's easier to see when looking at the Majors, but it works for the Pips and Courts as well.
Actually I really like all the different takes on each card. What I was referring to was only the numerology chart. This is what is something that seems very popular and don't really get it.

I had told BW, that sometimes I feel like the meanings don't match.
There are also times I feel like sometimes their forced.
I do however, find that the Kabbalah Sephiroth match much better, but even with them there still seems to have problem, IMO.
BUT, because so many people use it, I figure it's got to be me and that I am either missing something or I need to learn more about it.

I would love to learn Kaballah, but I don't want to begin until I can really put the time and energy into it. However, I am wondering if I can just start out with the Tree of Life/Paths. But, I know the answer is probably, no, because everything is connected and seem like it wouldn't be right to piece meal it.

Thanks for your help.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barleywine View Post
I have Bill Butler's Dictionary of the Tarot which takes a similar approach. But the best example of multiple-deck comparison, at least for the purpose here, is Robert Wang's Qabalistic Tarot. It compares the TdM, the RWS, the Thoth and the Regardie/Wang collaborative Golden Dawn deck. It's advantage is summed up in the title, especially if the intent is to pursue the more esoteric side of things. I highly recommend it.
BW,
I bought his first and I kind of liked it, but I like Riley's much better because it's more informative, plus Butler's is Thoth based, isn't it, I think?

I just downloaded a PDF of Wang's Qabalistic Tarot. I only looked over it slightly, but I liked what I saw. I'll definitely put it at the front of my list to read.

Oh...and I have Cirlot's and a bunch of other books on symbolism and their great. I bought them when I did that first exercise going through the symbolism/signs. I hope I understand what "crowleyism" is one day .

Thanks.
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Originally Posted by Freyja of V View Post
Barleywine, when you said that "Crowley saw all of the Sixes as a temporary point of balance...", I can see that applying to the RWS 6's except the Swords. But then I read your explanation and it make sense.

The only problem for me, is that 'temporary state' does change in the other suits when they arrive at the 7's. But the Seven of Swords doesn't seem to fit the natural progression.

The Swords suit is where the natural progression of the characters in the suit as well as numerological meanings doesn't seem to work together. Some do and some don't. Maybe this is really where my problem really lies.
The Swords still follow the general pattern of the "descent of energy into matter:" the Aces are the pure Idea of their element. the 10s are the ultimate manifestation. Everything in between is in the process of devolving from the highest state of Being into the phenomenal world. The Tree of Life model is just one convenient way to explain this. Crowley made the following observation in his commentary on the 9 of Disks:

"As a general remark, one may say that the multiplication of a symbol of Energy always tends to degrade its essential meaning, as well as to complicate it."

My understanding is that he was talking about what happens during the "outward-bound" progression from the Aces to the Tens. The Pythagorean model, on the other hand, holds that the closer one gets to the 10, the greater the perfection achieved. I think this is the central bone of contention between those who feel that the Sevens are generally neutral-to-positive and those who think they're unfortunate. There is also the whole side-trip into "holy" numbers that I generally ignore.

About the Sevens, Crowley said: "The position is doubly unbalanced; off the Middle Pillar, and very low down on the Tree. The four Sevens are not capable of bringing any comfort; each one represents the degeneration of the element. Its utmost weakness is exposed in every case." The original Golden Dawn titles seem to bear this out: Wands = Valour (implying the need for desperate courage in the face of stiff opposition, with only "possible victory" to gain); Cups = Illusionary Success; Swords = Unstable Effort; Pentacles = Success Unfilfilled. Not a very optimistic bunch.

A rather dour and dire outlook, but he was adhering to a rigorous qabalistic interpretation. The Harris illustrations on the Thoth cards very strictly followed his vision. They never "hijack" the creator's viewpoint the way the RWS images sometimes seem to do.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Sternbach View Post
I am not saying that this is completely wrong but the Thoth wouldn't be universal if its symbols weren't. Real symbols belong to the collective unconscious of Man. If they are elements of a coded language, they actually can no longer be called symbols, they become signs.

A little thought experiment... What if Crowley's books would have been lost, and only the deck remained? Would it still be possible to make sense of it? Isn't the deck actually a picture book in its own right?

Here's another one: What if Crowley's writings could only be understood in relation to the symbolism of the Thoth, rather than the other way around? What if AC's writings simply offered a (pretty good) take on a symbolism that is universal? Would they be at all relevant if it wasn't so?

Oh, and there are plenty of symbols on the cards about which Crowley doesn't say a word in the BoT!
There's a rather notorious past thread in which just these questions are dealt with here. Certainly one of the more fascinating threads, but for me the answer is that the Thoth Tarot is inseparable from the Book of Thoth, and Crowley himself said this many times. He feared that without the book the deck would deteriorate into "fortune telling" and the like. He was not talking only of the way people read, but prophetically pointing at things that have indeed happened. For example, in her book Angeles Arrien calls the pelican on the Empress a swan. Now, I could make up meanings for the Empress that included the swan, and justify them with all kinds of esoteric jargon but the fact is that it isn't one, and anyone receiving their introduction from Arrien wouldn't get simply an "alternative" approach, but a wrong one based on false assumptions.

But the Book of Thoth itself is only the "outer veil," the real essence of the deck is Thelema, which again many authors from Arrien to Zeigler just put aside as you would a bone in a fish. But Thelema is the fish, not some inconsequential byproduct. This, this, is what differentiates the deck from any other and makes it Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot, an illustrated commentary on the Book of Law. Take that away, and you've got a bunch of nice pictures.

Chapter III: Hieroglyphics: Life and Language Necessarily Symbolic
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Originally Posted by Barleywine View Post
The Swords still follow the general pattern of the "descent of energy into matter:" the Aces are the pure Idea of their element. the 10s are the ultimate manifestation. Everything in between is in the process of devolving from the highest state of Being into the phenomenal world. The Tree of Life model is just one convenient way to explain this. Crowley made the following observation in his commentary on the 9 of Disks:

"As a general remark, one may say that the multiplication of a symbol of Energy always tends to degrade its essential meaning, as well as to complicate it."

My understanding is that he was talking about what happens during the "outward-bound" progression from the Aces to the Tens. The Pythagorean model, on the other hand, holds that the closer one gets to the 10, the greater the perfection achieved. I think this is the central bone of contention between those who feel that the Sevens are generally neutral-to-positive and those who think they're unfortunate. There is also the whole side-trip into "holy" numbers that I generally ignore.

About the Sevens, Crowley said: "The position is doubly unbalanced; off the Middle Pillar, and very low down on the Tree. The four Sevens are not capable of bringing any comfort; each one represents the degeneration of the element. Its utmost weakness is exposed in every case." The original Golden Dawn titles seem to bear this out: Wands = Valour (implying the need for desperate courage in the face of stiff opposition, with only "possible victory" to gain); Cups = Illusionary Success; Swords = Unstable Effort; Pentacles = Success Unfilfilled. Not a very optimistic bunch.

A rather dour and dire outlook, but he was adhering to a rigorous qabalistic interpretation. The Harris illustrations on the Thoth cards very strictly followed his vision. They never "hijack" the creator's viewpoint the way the RWS images sometimes seem to do.
Huh...I have a LOT to learn. I knew I did but bloody hell.
It's all good. I really enjoy reading and learning about new things. So, I'm up for it, but it seem so overwhelming.

I do actually understand what you are saying about the descent of energy through the manifestation in the 10, but I was trying to say that the Swords don't seem to follow the same pattern as the other suits do. For instance, I can see the progression in the 2,3,4 and 5. But then the 6,7 seem misplaced. Does that make sense?

Anyway...

The next thing I was going to begin learning was Astrology, but now I am having second thoughts. In this thread, the Qabbalah was talked about the most.
If I were to start learning about the Qabbalah, where you recommend I begin?
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Originally Posted by Freyja of V View Post
If I were to start learning about the Qabbalah, where you recommend I begin?
In the Kabbalah Forum, there are a number of stickies at the top with some information and an index by a former highly esteemed member.
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Originally Posted by Zephyros View Post
There's a rather notorious past thread in which just these questions are dealt with here. Certainly one of the more fascinating threads, but for me the answer is that the Thoth Tarot is inseparable from the Book of Thoth, and Crowley himself said this many times. He feared that without the book the deck would deteriorate into "fortune telling" and the like. He was not talking only of the way people read, but prophetically pointing at things that have indeed happened. For example, in her book Angeles Arrien calls the pelican on the Empress a swan. Now, I could make up meanings for the Empress that included the swan, and justify them with all kinds of esoteric jargon but the fact is that it isn't one, and anyone receiving their introduction from Arrien wouldn't get simply an "alternative" approach, but a wrong one based on false assumptions.

But the Book of Thoth itself is only the "outer veil," the real essence of the deck is Thelema, which again many authors from Arrien to Zeigler just put aside as you would a bone in a fish. But Thelema is the fish, not some inconsequential byproduct. This, this, is what differentiates the deck from any other and makes it Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot, an illustrated commentary on the Book of Law. Take that away, and you've got a bunch of nice pictures.

Chapter III: Hieroglyphics: Life and Language Necessarily Symbolic
I fully agree, and Crowley never let that fact elude the attentive reader.

ETA: Oh, and thanks for the link. Been a while since I read that one.
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