Liber Theta


Aeon418 said:
James A. Eshelman's, Liber Theta: Tarot Symbolism & Divination, is now available for free download.
Thanks very much for the heads up! It's a very well-written document. However, having read most of it, Crowley's epiphany that Tzaddi is not the Star still makes me uncomfortable (and probably always will).


I read Liber Theta when it first came out a little while ago and found it very good. I have been recommending it to people from a Thelemic background who wanted information about starting to use tarot for divination.

I agree with you, though LRichard. Recently I have been experiencing something of a "crisis of faith" when it comes to Crowley and the Golden Dawn too. The Golden Dawn switching Strength and Justice seems artificial to me now, and then Crowley switching The Star and The Emperor.

So in fact recently I have been ignoring the whole issue of the order of the Trumps and attributions to things such as Hebrew letters, and concentrating on just the cards themselves.


graspee said:
.....So in fact recently I have been ignoring the whole issue of the order of the Trumps and attributions to things such as Hebrew letters, and concentrating on just the cards themselves.
Glad I'm not the only one having issues with the GD and Crowley orderings. For therapy I've been studying the TdM, since it is refreshingly pre-GD/Waite/Crowley. :)


Crisis of faith. Where does faith come into it? In my opinion it doesn't, unless the system of attributions is viewed as little more than a curio who's only purpose is to satisfy the intellect.

Thankfully Jim has focused on the practical applications of the system. Only by working with it over an extensive period will it reveal anything of value.


When I said "Crisis of Faith" I guess I should have put it in inverted commas to make clear that I was being quirky. I don't really think it's a faith, it's a system of beliefs that was kind of important to me, so using that phrase is like a comedic shorthand.

Oops, just noticed I did actually put "crisis of faith" in quotes, hehe.


Fair enough. :)

But I still think the objections that have been raised in this thread are missing the point. The attributions listed with the Trumps are there to facilitate meditation on the imagery of the cards, not to define it. The mind is "primed" with this information beforehand, but the focus of the meditation is the card itself.

Most objections that I see about attribution systems are intellectually based, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating.



Switching Heh and Tzaddi to different trumps, without also switching their astrological signs, is a mater of selectively changing the attributions given in the Sefer Yetzirah.

When Mackenzie and/or Mathers swapped the positions of trumps 8 and 11, they did not separate the letters Lamed and Teth from their respective signs; in fact, they did this *because* of the signs associated with those letters. This is not the case with Heh/Tzaddi, where Heh is no longer Aries and Tzaddi is no longer Aquarius. Crowley's "double-loop argument" is specious at best, as the two loops are not of the same kind at all.
Eshelman hangs a lot on the thin evidence of a line from the Zohar about Tzaddi; he even goes so far as to change his translation of the Sefer Yetzirah to attribute Tzaddi to Aries, which is completely his own interpretation, and not part of tradition at all.

The question arises, if Tzaddi has a concealed meaning, why doesn't Heh have one as well, and if it does, why is this not mentioned in the Zohar? A similar question would be, how can "ALL these old letters of my book be aright" except Tzaddi? For tzaddi to be changed means that at least TWO "letters of my book" are not aright.

But the Heh/Tzaddi thing always end up in a mud-wrestling match, so anyone competent and interested can find out all they need to know, on the web, from better sources than myself. Suffice it to say that a simpler explanation of Liber AL 1:57 is that the name of the Trump XVII needs to be changed, not the esoteric attributions.

A separate problematic statement from the introduction is this one:
"there is not a single mention of this (qabalistic meanings embeded in the tarot) in any of the vast esoteric writings that have survived from those centuries.
The only sensible explanation for this seems to be that the correspondence was taken so seriously that it went underground – and that there has been a true secret tradition for centuries."

Seriously? The ONLY sensible explanation is that it was all hidden? I beg to differ; the much more sensible explanation is that there was no such qabalistic content in the tarot, since there is no mention of it by writers who felt free to write on many other topics of esoterica. It's easy to say that there is no evidence because it was all kept secret, since there is no way to disprove that. It's much more difficult to come up with positive evidence for such an assertion of qabalah being wedded to the tarot from the outset.

All the evidence we have so far points to tarot being a card game appropriated by occultists for their own purposes. there's certainly nothing wrong with that, and yes, the proof is in the use of the cards. one can train themselves to use any system of associations; that doesn't mean that they were intended by the creators of Tarot. So call a spade a spade and just admit that we're taking archetypal forms and using them in a flexible system to our best ability and trying to make it meaningful in our praxis.
The Golden Dawn invented some interesting correspondences to the Tarot. Many of them fit, and a few do not. I personally like the Star being attributed to Venus just as much as Aquarius; I have my own network of associations that work for me. But I don't presume them to be a priori correct, or to have been intended by the inventors of tarot.

Well, I'm drunk and probably shouldn't be writing today. Gonna go contemplate how the Emperor is actually the element of Air.



Drunk is good for writing. William Faulkner did it all the time. It just seems a bit presumptuous to reassign Tzaddi to Aries and Heh to Aquarius merely because "Tzaddi is not the Star." I'm getting a bit mellow too, but I need to blow my French horn for awhile because there's an orchestra rehearsal today.


The Star is Sirius, which annually predicted the flooding of the Nile, which was essential to Life for the Egyptians. The Waite card shows water being poured out on the land and the river. Aquarius was the Celestial Nile to the Egyptians. The Water-Bearer (Isis?) poured out water to flood the Nile so that vegetation would be reborn. The Tzaddi fish hook seems entirely appropriate in this context.