<<Thoth Tarot>>

The Thoth Tarot, also called the Book of Thoth, is the deck of 78 tarot cards designed by Aleister Crowley and illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris. The entire deck is designed to be a pictoral representation of the Qabalah and especially the Tree of Life, a system of ten spheres and 22 interconnecting paths that is used to organize mystical concepts.

Major Arcana – short description

0. THE FOOL

KNOW NAUGHT!
ALL WAYS ARE LAWFUL TO INNOCENCE.
PURE FOLLY IS THE KEY TO INITIATION.
SILENCE BREAKS INTO RAPTURE.
BE NEITHER MAN NOR WOMAN, BUT BOTH IN ONE.
BE SILENT, BABE IN THE EGG OF BLUE, THAT THOU MAYEST GROW TO BEAR THE LANCE AND GRAAL!
WANDER ALONE, AND SING! IN THE KING’S PALACE
HIS DAUGHTER AWAITS THEE.
In spiritual matters, the Fool means idea, thought, spirituality, that which endeavors to transcend earth. In material matters, it may, if badly dignified, mean folly, eccentricity, or even mania. But the essential of this card is that it represents an original, subtle, sudden impulse or impact, coming from a completely strange quarter. All such impulses are right, if rightly received; and the good or ill interpretation of the card depends entirely on the right attitude of the Querent.
I Magus:
The True Self is the meaning of the True Will:
know Thyself through Thy Way.
Calculate well the Formula of Thy Way.
Create freely; absorb joyously; divide intently;
consolidate completely.
Work thou, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent,
in and for Eternity.
Skill, wisdom, adroitness, elasticity, craft, cunning, deceit, theft. Sometimes occult wisdom or power,
sometimes a quick impulse, a brain-wave”. It may imply messages, business transactions, the
interference of learning or intelligence with the matter in hand.

II. THE HIGH PRIESTESS

Purity is to live only to the Highest; and the
Highest is All; be thou as Artemis to Pan.
Read thou in the Book of the Law, and break
through the veil of the Virgin.
Pure, exalted and gracious influence enters the matter. Hence, change, alternation, increase and decrease fluctuation. There is, however, a liability to be led away by enthusiasm; one may become “moon-struck” unless careful balance is maintained.

III. THE EMPRESS

This is the Harmony of the Universe, that Love
unites the Will to create with the  understanding of that Creation: understand thou thine own Will.
Love and let love. Rejoice in every shape of love,
and get thy rapture and thy nourishment thereof.
Love, beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, completion, good fortune, graciousness, elegance, luxury, idleness, dissipation debauchery, friendship, gentleness, delight.

IV. THE EMPEROR

Pour water on thyself thus shalt thou be
a Fountain to the Universe.
Find thou thyself in every Star.
Achieve thou every possibility.
War, conquest, victory, strife, ambition, originality, overweening confidence and megalomania, quarrelsomeness, energy,
vigour, stubbornness, impracticability, rashness, ill-temper.

V. THE HIEROPHANT

Offer thyself Virgin to the Knowledge and Conversation of thine Holy Guardian Angel. All
else is a snare.
Be thou athlete with the eight limbs of Yoga: for
without these, thou are not disciplined for any
fight.
Stubborn strength, toil, endurance, placidity, manifestation, explanation, teaching, the goodness of heart, help from superiors, patience, organization, peace.

VI. THE LOVERS [OR: THE BROTHERS]

The Oracle of the Gods is the Child-Voice of Love
in Thine own Soul; hear thou it.
Heed not the Siren-Voice of Sense, or the
Phantom-Voice of Reason: rest in Simplicity, and listen to the Silence.
Openness to inspiration, intuition, intelligence, second sight, childishness, frivolity, thoughtfulness
divorced from practical consideration, indecision, self-contradiction, union in a shallow degree
with others, instability, contradiction, triviality, the “high-brow”.

VII. THE CHARIOT

The Issue of the Vulture, Two-in-One, conveyed;
this is the Chariot of Power.
TRINC: the last oracle.

Triumph, victory, hope, memory, digestion, violence in maintaining traditional ideas, the “die-hard”, ruthlessness, the lust of destruction, obedience, faithfulness, the authority under authority.

VIII. ADJUSTMENT

Balance against each thought its the exact opposite.
For the Marriage of these is the Annihilation of Illusion.
Justice, or rather justice, the act of adjustment, suspension of all action pending decision; in material matters, may refer to lawsuits or prosecutions. Socially, marriage or marriage agreements; politically, treaties.

IX. THE HERMIT

Wander alone; bearing the Light and thy Staff.
And be the Light so bright that no man seeth thee.
Be not moved by aught without or within:
keep Silence in all ways.
Illumination from within, the secret impulse from within; practical plans derived accordingly. Retirement from participation in current events.

X. FORTUNE

Follow thy Fortune, careless where it leads thee.
The axle moveth not: attain thou that.
Change of fortune. (This generally means good fortune because the fact of consultation implies anxiety or discontent.)

XI. LUST

Mitigate Energy with Love, but let Love devour all things.
Worship the name ____, foursquare, mystic,
wonderful, and the name of His House 418.
Courage, strength, energy and action, une grande passion; resort to magick, the use of magical power.

XII. THE HANGED MAN

Let not the waters whereon thou journeyest wet
thee. And, being come to shore, plant thou the
Vine and rejoice without shame.
Enforced sacrifice, punishment, loss, fatal or voluntary, suffering, defeat, failure, death.

XIII. DEATH

The Universe is Change; every Change is the effect of an Act of Love; all Acts of Love contain
Pure Joy. Die daily.
Death is the apex of one curve of the snake Life:
behold all Opposites as necessary complements, and rejoice.
Transformation, change, voluntary or involuntary, in either case logical development of existing conditions, yet perhaps sudden and unexpected. Apparent death or destruction, but such interpretation is illusion.

XIV. ART

Pour thine all freely from the Vase in thy right hand, and lose no drop. Hath not thy left hand
a vase?
Transmute all wholly into the Image of thy Will, bringing each to its true token of Perfection.
Dissolve the Pearl in the Wine-cup; drink, and make manifest the Virtue of that Pearl.
Combination of forces, realization, action based on accurate calculation; the way of escape, success after elaborate maneuvers.

XV. THE DEVIL

With thy right Eye create all for thyself, and with
the left accept all that be created otherwise.
Blind impulse, irresistibly strong and unscrupulous, ambition, temptation, obsession, secret plan about
to be executed; hard work, obstinacy, rigidity, aching discontent, endurance.

XVI. THE TOWER [OR: WAR]

Break down the fortress of thine Individual
Self, that thy Truth may spring free from the ruins.
Quarrel, combat, danger, ruin, destruction of plans, sudden death, escape from prison.

XVII. THE STAR

Use all thine energy to rule thy thought: burn
up thy thought as the Phoenix.
Hope, unexpected help, clearness of vision, the realization of possibilities, spiritual insight, with bad aspects, the error of judgment, dreaminess, disappointment.

XVIII. THE MOON

Let the Illusion of the World pass over thee, unheeded,
as thou goest from the Midnight to
the Morning.
Illusion, deception, bewilderment, hysteria, even madness, dreaminess, falsehood, error, crisis, “the darkest hour before the dawn”, the brink of important change.

XIX. THE SUN

Give forth thy light to all without doubt;
the clouds and shadows are no matter for thee.
Make Speech and Silence, Energy and Stillness, twin forms of thy play.
Glory, gain, riches, triumph, pleasure, frankness, truth, shamelessness, arrogance, vanity, manifestation, recovery from sickness, but sometimes sudden death.

XX. THE AEON

Be every Act an Act of Love and Worship.
Be every Act the Fiat of a God.
Be every Act a Source of radiant Glory.
Final decision in respect of the past, new current in respect of the future; always represents the taking
of a definite step.

THE UNIVERSE

Treat time and all conditions of Event as Servants
of thy Will, appointed to present the Universe to thee in the form of thy Plan.
And: blessing and worship to the prophet of the lovely Star.
The matter of the question itself, synthesis, the end of the matter, may mean delay, opposition, obstinacy, inertia, patience, perseverance, persistent stubbornness in difficulty. The crystallization of the whole matter involved.

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THE UNIVERSE

Treat time and all conditions of Event as Servants
of thy Will, appointed to present the Universe to thee in the form of thy Plan.
And: blessing and worship to the prophet of the lovely Star.
The matter of the question itself, synthesis, the end of the matter, may mean delay, opposition, obstinacy, inertia, patience, perseverance, persistent stubbornness in difficulty. The crystallization of the whole matter involved.
The first and most obvious characteristic of this card is that it comes at the end of all, and is, therefore, the complement of the Fool. It is attributed to the letter Tau. The two cards together accordingly spell the word Ath, which means Essence. All reality is consequently compromised in the series of which these two letters from the beginning and the end. This beginning was Nothing; the end must therefore be also Nothing, but Nothing in its complete expansion, as previously explained. The number 4, rather than the number 2, was chosen as the basis of this expansion, partly no doubt for convenience, to enlarge the “universe of discourse”; partly to emphasize the idea of limitation.

The letter Tau means the Sign of the Cross, that is, of extension; and this extension is symbolized as four-fold because of the convenience of constructing the revolving symbol of Tetragrammaton. In the case of number 2, the only issue is the return to unity or to the negative. No continuous process can be conveniently symbolized; but the number 4 lends itself, not only to this rigid extension, the hard facts of nature but also to the transcendence of space and time by a continuously self-compensating change.
The letter Tau is attributed to Saturn, the outermost and slowest of the seven sacred planets; because of these dull, heavy qualities, the element of earth was thrust upon the symbol. The original three elements, Fire, Air, Water, sufficed for primitive thought; Earth and Spirit represent a later accretion. Neither is to be found in the original twenty-two Paths of the Sepher Yetzirah. The world of Assiah, the material world, does not appear except as a pendant to the Tree of Life.

In the same way, the element of Spirit is attributed to the letter Shin, as an additional ornament, somewhat in the same way as Kether is said to be symbolized by the topmost point of the Yod of Tetragrammaton. It is constantly necessary to distinguish between the symbols of philosophical theory and those more elaborate symbols based upon them which are necessary for practical work.

Saturn and Earth have certain qualities in common-heaviness, coldness, dryness, immobility, dullness, and the like. Yet Saturn appears in Binah in respect of its blackness in the Queen’s scale, which is the scale of Observed Nature; but always, as soon as the end of a process is reached, it returns automatically to the beginning.

In Chemistry, it is the heaviest elements that are unable in terrestrial conditions to support the strain and stress of their internal structure; consequently, they radiate particles of the most tenuous character and the highest activity. In an essay written in Cefalù, Sicily, on the second law of Thermo-dynamics, it was suggested that at the absolute zero of the air thermometer, an element heavier than uranium might exist, of such a nature that it was capable of reconstituting the entire series of elements. It was a chemical interpretation of the equation, 0=2.

It becomes then reasonable to argue from analogy that since the end must beget the beginning, the symbolism will follow; hence, blackness is also attributed to the sun, according to a certain long-hidden tradition. One of the shocks for candidates in the “Mysteries” was the revelation “Osiris is a black god”.

Saturn, therefore, is masculine; he is the old god, (the god of fertility) the sun in the south; but equally the Great Sea, the Great Mother; and the letter Tau upon the Tree of Life appears as an emanation from the moon of Yesod, the foundation of the Tree and representative of the reproductive process and of the equilibrium between change and stability, or rather their identification. The influence of the path descends upon the earth, Malkuth, the daughter. Here again, appears the doctrine of “setting the daughter upon the throne of the Mother”. In the card itself, there is consequently a glyph of the completion of the Great Work in its highest sense, exactly as the Atu of the Fool symbolizes its beginning. The Fool is the negative issuing into manifestation; the Universe is that manifestation, its purpose accomplished, ready to return. The twenty cards that lie between these two exhibits the Great Work and its agents in various stages. The image of the Universe in this sense is accordingly that of a maiden, the final letter of Tetragrammaton.

In the present card she is represented as a dancing figure. In her hands she manipulates the radiant spiral force, the active and passive, each possessing its dual polarity. her dancing partner is shown as Heru-Ra-Ha of Atu XIX.

“The Sun, Strength & Sight, Light; these are for the servants of the Star & the Snake.”

This final form of the image of the Magical Formula of the God combines and transforms so many symbols that description is difficult, and would be nugatory. The proper method of study of this card-indeed of all, but of this especially-is long-continued meditation. The Universe, so states the theme, is the Celebration of the Great Work accomplished. In the corners of the card are the four Kerubim showing the established Universe; and about her is an ellipse composed of seventy- two circles for the quinaries of the Zodiac, the Shemhamphorasch.

In the center of the lower part of the card is represented the skeleton plan of the building of the house of Matter. It shows the ninety-two known chemical elements, arranged according to their rank in the hierarchy. (The design is due to the genius of the late J. W. N. Sullivan: see The Bases of Modern Science.)

In the center, a wheel of Light initiates the form of the Tree of Life, showing the ten principal bodies of the solar system. But this Tree is not visible except to those of wholly pure heart.

1. The primum mobile, represented by Pluto. (Compare the doctrine of the alpha particles of radium.)
2. The sphere of the Zodiac or fixed stars, represented by Neptune.
3. Saturn. The Abyss. This is represented by Herschel, the planet of disintegration and explosion.
4. Jupiter
5. Mars.
6. The Sun.
7. Venus.
8. Mercury.
9. The Moon.
10. The Earth. (The Four Elements).

All these symbols swim and dance in a complex but continuous ambiance of loops and whorls. The general color of the traditional card is subfusc; it represents the confusion and darkness of the material world. But the New Aeon has brought the fullness of Light; in the Minutum Mundum, Earth is no longer black, or of mixed colors, but is pure bright green. Similarly, the indigo of Saturn is derived from the blue velvet of the midnight sky, and the maiden of the dance represents the issue from this, yet through this, to the Eternal. This card is to-day as bright and glowing as any in the Pack.

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3 Cards Reading

PRINCE OF CUPS

The Prince of Cups represents the airy part of Water. On the one hand, elasticity, volatility, hydrostatic equilibrium; on the other hand, the catalytic faculty and the energy of steam. He rules from the 21st degree of Libra to the 20th degree of Scorpio.

He is a warrior partly clad in armour, which seems, however, rather a growth than a covering. His helmet is surmounted by an eagle, and his chariot, which resembles a shell, is also drawn by an eagle. His wings are tenuous, almost of gas. This is a reference to his power of volatilization understood in the spiritual sense.

In his right hand he bears a Lotus flower, sacred to the element of Water, and in his left hand is a cup from which issues a serpent.

The third totem, the scorpion, is not shewn in the picture, for the putrefaction which it represents is an extremely secret process. Beneath his chariot is the calm and stagnant water of a lake upon which rain falls heavily.

The whole symbolism of this card is exceedingly complicated, for Scorpio is the most mysterious of the Signs, and the manifested portion of it symbolized by the eagle is in reality the least important part of his nature.

The moral characteristics of the person pictured in this card are subtlety, secret violence, and craft. He is intensely secret, an artist in all his ways. On the surface he appears calm and imperturbable, but this is a mask of the most intense passion. He is on the surface susceptible to external influences, but he accepts them only to transmute them to the advantage of his secret designs. He is thus completely without conscience in the ordinary sense of the word, and is therefore usually distrusted by his neighbours. They feel they do not, and can never, understand him. Thus he inspires unreasonable fear. He is in fact perfectly ruthless. He cares intensely for power, wisdom, and his own aims. He feels no responsibility to others, and although his abilities are so immense, he cannot be relied upon to work in harness.

In the Yi King, the airy part of Water is represented by the 61st hexagram, Kung Fu. This is one of the most important figures in the Yi: it “moves even pigs and fish, and leads to great good fortune”. Its dignities and correspondences are manifold and great; for it is also a “big Li”, the trigram of Sol formed by doubling the lines. By shape it suggests a boat, but also the geomantic figure of Cancer, Saturn in Capricornus.

This card is in consequence one of great power; Libra going over into Scorpio is of tremendous, active, critical energy and weight. To such people good will, sincerity, and right mating are the essentials of success; their danger is overweening ambition.

XV. THE DEVIL

With thy right Eye create all for thyself, and with
the left accept all that be created otherwise.
Blind impulse, irresistibly strong and unscrupulous, ambition, temptation, obsession, secret plan about
to be executed; hard work, obstinacy, rigidity, aching discontent, endurance.
This card is attributed to the letter ‘Ayin, which means an Eye, and it refers to Capricornus in the Zodiac. In the Dark Ages of Christianity, it was completely misunderstood. Eliphaz Levi studied it very deeply because of its connection with ceremonial magic, his 4 favourite subject; and he re-drew it, identifying it with Baphomet, the ass-headed idol of the Knights of the Temple. [The Early Christians also were accused of worshipping an Ass, or ass-headed god. See Browning, The Ring and the Book (The Pope).] But at this time archaeological research had not gone very far; the nature of Baphomet was not fully understood. (See Atu 0, above.) At least he succeeded in identifying the goat portrayed upon the card with Pan.

On the Tree of Life, Atu XIII and XV are symmetrically placed; they lead from Tiphareth, the human consciousness, to the spheres in which Thought (on the one hand) and Bliss (on the other) are developed. Between them, Atu XIV leads similarly to the sphere which formulates Existence. (See note on Atu X and arrangement.) These three cards may therefore be summed up as a hieroglyph of the processes by which idea manifests as form.
This card represents creative energy in its most material form; in the Zodiac, Capricornus occupies the Zenith. It is the most exalted of the signs; it is the goat leaping with lust upon the summits of earth. The sign is ruled by Saturn, who makes for selfhood and perpetuity. In this sign, Mars is exalted, showing in its best form the fiery, material energy of creation. The card represents Pan Pangenetor, the All-Begetter. It is the Tree of Life as seen against a background of the exquisitely tenuous, complex, and fantastic forms of madness, the divine madness of spring, already foreseen in the meditative madness of winter; for the Sun turns northwards on entering this sign.

The roots of the Tree are made transparent, in order to show the innumerable leapings of the sap; before it stands the Himalayan goat, with an eye in the centre of his forehead, representing the god Pan upon the highest and most secret mountains of the earth. His creative energy is veiled in the symbol of the Wand of the Chief Adept, crowned with the winged globe and the twin serpents of Horus and Osiris.

“Hear me, Lord of the Stars,
For thee have I worshipped ever
With stains and sorrows and scars,
With joyful, joyful Endeavour.
Hear me, O lilywhite goat
Crisp as a thicket of thorns,
With a collar of gold for thy throat,
A scarlet bow for thy horns.”

The sign of Capricornus is rough, harsh, dark, even blind; the impulse to create takes no account of reason, custom, or foresight. It is divinely unscrupulous, sublimely careless of result.

“thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.” AL. I, 42-4.

It is further to be remarked that the trunk of the Tree pierces the heavens; about it is indicated the ring of the body of Nuith. Similarly, the shaft of the Wand goes down indefinitely to the centre of earth.

“If I lift up my head, I and my Nuit are one. If I droop down mine head, and shoot forth venom, then is rapture of the earth, and I and the earth are one.” (AL. II, 26).

The formula of this card is then the complete appreciation of all existing things. He rejoices in the rugged and the barren no less than in the smooth and the fertile. All things equally exalt him. He represents the finding of ecstasy in every phenomenon, however naturally repugnant; he transcends all limitations; he is Pan; he is All.

It is important to notice some other correspondences. The three vowel-consonants of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph, Yod, ‘Ayin, these three letters form the sacred name of God, I A O. These three Atu, IX, 0, and XV, thus offer a threefold explanation of the male creative energy; but this card especially represents the masculine energy at its most masculine. Saturn, the ruler, is Set, the ass-headed god of the Egyptian deserts; he is the god of the south. The name refers to all gods containing these consonants, such as Shaitan, or Satan. (See Magick pp.336-7). Essential to the symbolism are the surroundings – barren places, especially high places. The cult of the mountain is an exact parallel. The Old Testament is full of attacks upon kings who celebrated worship in “high places”; this, although Zion itself was a mountain! This feeling persisted, even to the days of the Witches’ Sabbath, held, if possible, on a desolate summit, but (if none were available) at least in a wild spot, uncontaminated by the artfulness of men.

Note that Shabbathai, the “sphere of Saturn”, is the Sabbath. Historically, the animus against witches pertains to the fear of the Jews; whose rites, supplanted by the Christian forms of Magic, had become mysterious and terrible. Panic suggested that Christian children were stolen, sacrificed, and eaten. The belief persists to this day.

In every symbol of this card there is the allusion to the highest things and most remote. Even the horns of the goat are spiral, to represent the movement of the all-pervading energy. Zoroaster defines God as “having a spiral force”. Compare the more recent, if less profound, writings of Einstein. [Compare Saturn, at one end of the Seven Sacred Wanderers, with the Moon at the other: the aged man and the young girl -see “The Formula of Tetragrammaton”. They are linked as no other two planets, since 32=9, and each contains in itself the extremes of its own idea. (See also Appendix: Atu xxi.)]

STRENGTH NINE OF WANDS

This card is referred to Yesod, the Foundation; this brings the Energy back into balance. The Nine represents always the fullest development of the Force in its relation with the Forces above it. The Nine may be considered as the best that can be obtained from the type involved, regarded from a practical and material standpoint.

This card is also governed by the Moon in Sagittarius; so here is a double influence of the Moon on the Tree of Life. Hence the aphorism “Change is Stability”.

The Wands have now become arrows. There are eight of them in the background, and in front of them one master arrow. This has the Moon for its point, and the Sun for the driving Force above it; for the path of Sagittarius on the Tree of Life joins the Sun and Moon. The flames in the card are tenfold, implying that the Energy is directed downwards.

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