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rebecca-smiles 
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got enough symbols?


I have just bought and started studying the thoth deck in 78 weeks.

I have a query, about the thoth specifically but this could apply generally to some other decks also, which is why i haven't put it in thoth section:

Why all the symbolism? I mean, there isn't just a bit of symbolism is there? there is loads and loads in each card.

I find it hard to see how this is going to enhance the meaning of the card, given the initial reason for having symbols in the first place: to convey a lot of meaning with one small thing. A symbol is shorthand for something that it represents.

True, each card has more than one meaning, however deep and expansive. But if many symbols are needed to convey the meaning of a card, then surely that in some way defeats the object of using symbolism?
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Sophie 
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You need to read the Book of Thoth to answer that question (I linked you to 4 sites where you can get free downloads on another thread). Crowley was a synchretic, anarchic genius who juggled symbols from all over the world like some do with balls, and never dropped a single one.

And spend time with each one of them, together and apart. Think about them, read up on them, draw them, journal them, dance them, sing them...

...eventually it all comes together, beautifully. Like a poem. You realise there isn't a single symbol too many on any of the cards. But it has to be experienced



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Keep in mind symbols are emotionally based and mean something different to each individual. If you were tortured as a child by a someone with a teddybear ( as a extreme example) pictures of Teddy bears may not be pleasant to you, and a symbol of one will mean something negative, for someone else it might recall a happy childhood and mean something positive.

We stopped thinking in universal symbols near the end of the dark ages(when most people could not read) and by the middle beginning of the Renaissance we were thinking in words.

Universal symbols to some degree, as they lost their daily used took on personal meanings and now mean something different to everyone. That is why the cards are more intuitive then learned and memorized for me.

I hope I have not over-simplified this to the point of not making sense but typing is tough and I am tired!!



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Abrac 
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I tend to agree that too much symbolism can confuse things and dilute a card's energy. The simpler the symbolism the more powerful.

This is one of my major complaints with the Thoth deck in particular. It looks great artistically, but is of little practical value if you try to understand it all.

I agree with Fudugazi about reading the Book of Thoth. Just read the descriptions and try to get an overall sense of the meaning of each card and its major symbols. Then you can gradually fill in the details of the other symbols.
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Sophie 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac
This is one of my major complaints with the Thoth deck in particular. It looks great artistically, but is of little practical value if you try to understand it all.
That's not been my experience of it. But it's taken me time - years - to get to that point, and I am still very much in the process of integrating these symbols, of internalising them - I'm hardly a Thoth expert. As I suggested above, the Thoth is a deck that has to be experienced. The Book of Thoth is a good place to start (and to continue - it too needs internalising), but until you engage directly with those symbols in all manner of ways, and not only intellectual, they will remain a jumble, as they were to me for a long time.

I find that once you've started to experience the symbols and live with them, then in readings, one or two might leap out at you and say - "yes, me! I'm the one for this reading!" - it's a question of intimacy



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Last edited by Sophie; 04-06-2007 at 06:19.
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rebecca-smiles 
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Fudu; it was the book of thoth that got me going on this thread! maybe because i am new to learning, but is seems crowley put so much in there that it leaves little room for interpretation of the card; are we to interpret/contextualise the card, or the symbols? how do i do both and yet still be inovative myself in my understanding of the card?

what symbols do for the mind; take something simple but expansive, he seems to do the reverse: take a card and give it ever more specific conotations.

maybe i just chose the wrong deck; i'm not egyptian, nor greek, so much of the symbolism takes me out of my way to understand the symbolism, rather than the card. i feel as though i am being taken all around the houses here. I'm guessing crowley was classically trained and was aiming his deck at the classicaly trained intellectual elite of the time?

I know it gets argued that the egyptian symbolism is universal, but can something be universal if we have to turn to another culture to learn it? what about the symbols in our own culture? current symbols? this isn't just for the crowley deck but can probably apply to many others. I'm not saying its bad, but i am struggling to understand it.

crowned one: i agree we imbue symbols with our own reactions. i wasn't so keen on finding umpteen symbols in the hierophant that took me a long way from the card before taking me back again; human relations with bulls to produce a magical child to see in a new Aeon.....the aeon being part of crowleys own vision; now i begin to see how deck creators impact upon the meanings. But his are so complicated. does tarot need to be this complicated to learn and use it? does it benefit it?

i guess it is too early for me to internalise the symbolism, it is just so daunting! i guess it is hard, too to experience the deck through symbols when the symbolism is so remote.
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We all started somewhere with the Thoth, Rebecca. Don't give up on yourself so soon

It's true that much of the symbolism Crowley put in there would have been familiar to those educated around that period - the Christian and Greek symbols especially. But he put in a fair amount that would not have been familiar if you were not a Sanskrit or Tibetan scholar, which were a small minority. Greek and Latin scholars would have not necessarily have known more about Ancient Egypt than you do. Crucially, though, he - thanks to the talent of Lady Harris, and his own inventive genius - did things with those symbols no-one had done before, brought them to life again. He turned them inside out, mixed and matched them, did to symbolism what Picasso did to art. Most conventional scholars of his time would hardly have recognised those symbols in the manner they were used.

Take the Death card out. Have a look at all those symbols. Something of an overkill there - but as you start working with that card, engaging with those symbols, you will start to see a harmony in that card that exists in few other Death cards. It's perfect and perfectly visceral - death, putrefaction, transformation and rebirth, all in one swift movement of the dancing skeleton...

That's how you are innovative with the cards. You learn to experience those symbols in more ways than simply intellectual. Read up on them (not only in Crowley), but also - I was not joking when I said - draw them, dance them, sing them, together and separately.

For Crowley, these were living, dynamic signs of his evolving spirituality. The Child Horus in the Aeon card is far more than just a representation of a dead Egyptian god. It's an entire new world being born - for real! Ask yourself, as you look at that card - "how do I, Rebecca, experience the birth of this new world? What does it feel like, look like, sound like? What does this Aeon of Horus bring me?"



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Last edited by Sophie; 04-06-2007 at 06:36.
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Sinduction 
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Thank you for this thread. I am now even more excited to get my Thoth deck that I just bought from an AT member. I can't wait to see what you're talking about. I am looking forward to having something difficult to learn about.

What really bothers me with all the symbols in decks is that it seems every artist uses them a bit differently and in places I don't agree they belong. I've always felt that any companion book, no matter how poorly written, helps to decipher the meanings the maker associates with the symbols. As Crowned One said, they do vary depending on so many factors.

I just saw this in another thread about snakes. To many people snakes are something to fear, but to me (a snake lover) I see no fear associated with these beautiful creatures. Symbols have become subjective and that makes it even harder to decipher them.



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Sophie 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinduction
I just saw this in another thread about snakes. To many people snakes are something to fear, but to me (a snake lover) I see no fear associated with these beautiful creatures. Symbols have become subjective and that makes it even harder to decipher them.
In that case, you are going to like the Thoth: snakes are treated with respect there . One of my favourite cards is the 2 of Disks, Change, which features a snake describing a figure 8 (a variant of the ouroboros) around two disks in which is drawn the yin-yang symbols. It's a very powerful card that illustrates exactly change and continuity.



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Well how symbolism (or the amount of it) affects your reading of course depends on your reading style. The way I read I don't use all the symbolism in each card each time. On one day I feel drawn to certain parts of the image and symbolism and other parts don't feel like they are relevant or have anything to say in the reading. Another day--the same card--the parts that had nothing to say are talking up a storm and some of the relevant symbolism from teh last reading may "go dormant" as it is.

That way a card can have more to say, almost an infinite number of ways of expressing itsefl. As any combination of symbolism can be relevant (dominent) in a reading. And just to complicate things more. I don't always see the same things in the same symbols either.

Hope that doesn't confuse things more. LOL

Bar



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