Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck (Large)

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The infamous Thoth Tarot! The cards were painted by Lady Frieda Harris according to instructions from famous occultist, Aleister Crowley. The magnificent art deco work contains kabalistic and astrological attributions described in Crowley’s Book of Thoth.
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One of the most famous, infamous and important tarot decks for the serious occultist and practitioner of magick!

The cards were painted by Lady Frieda Harris according to instructions from the occult scholar, Aleister Crowley. The magnificent art deco work contains kabalistic and astrological attributions described in Aleister Crowley’s Book of Thoth. The stunning art deco artwork of the Thoth is rich in Egyptian symbolism. To each of the twenty-two Major Trumps of the tarot is assigned, by tradition, a Hebrew letter and a path on the Tree of Life, as well as an astrological sign, element, or planet. The deck also reflects Crowley’s interest in alchemy and magic. Crowley Thoth Tarot has attracted a worldwide following, both for its striking beauty and for its complex depiction of occult knowledge. Since its initial publication in 1969, the deck has never been out of print. Included with the deck is a booklet of instruction, which contains two essays by Lady Frieda Harris and a commentary by Stuart R. Kaplan.

Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot has been named one of the Top Ten Tarot Decks of All Time by Aeclectic Tarot.


Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Review by similia
One of the classics of modern tarot, Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot has remained one of the most popular decks available for decades. Printed in numerous editions and numerous sizes (with new editions on the horizon) the appeal of this deck cannot be underemphasized. Since its initial publication in 1969 it has attracted a steady stream of acclaim for its striking beauty, as well as its depiction of an understanding of occult knowledge that was gained over a lifetime of devoted study.

It should be said that the Thoth has the distinction of being one of the most controversial tarot decks available also. On occasions you hear people refer to the deck as dark, probably because of the reputation cultivated by its creator. It certainly doesnt have the instant personable appeal of decks like the Fey, or the fluffy bunny cuteness of some others, but as an illustrated guide to the fundamental features of us and our world, it presents a balanced view.

Conceived and executed by artist Lady Frieda Harris under the instruction of the controversial magician Aleister Crowley, The Thoth Tarot was in fact not published during the lifetimes of its creators. The Book of Thoth, a guide to the tarot written by Crowley and illustrated with Harris' paintings was published and is still available today, both as a book and freely over the internet at numerous websites. While The Book of Thoth is a wonderful book, that I recommend unreservedly for anyone who owns the Thoth Tarot it may not the best place to start your studies. Instead I suggest Lon Milo Duquette's Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth. Duquette will not teach you the standard meanings of the cards, but he will teach you how the system works, where it comes from, and where to go next. Even if you have no interest in astrology, qabalah, magic, Egyptian mythology, alchemy etc, you can still get much of value from this deck. My experience however was that the decks ability to expand my areas of interest and knowledge was one of its most attractive features.

The Thoth Tarot is based on the Golden Dawn tradition, and for those familiar with the Rider Waite deck, or any Golden Dawn derivative, much of the deck will be immediately familiar. Each of the cards has the astrological and qabalistic attributions illustrated within the card image itself, as well as depicted on the card's border. The minors also have the esoteric title written on the bottom. The deck can of course be used without these systems, but I have found studying them to be immensely rewarding personally, as well as to my knowledge of the tarot. These same features can then be applied to any deck, but are most clearly visible and beautifully rendered in the Thoth itself.

The minors do not contain illustrated scenes as in the Rider Waite Smith style, they are however highly illustrated. Harris' pips evoke the intention of the card clearly, most meanings being similar to the Rider Waite Smith. For example while the RWS Two of Wands shows a man holding the world in his hand as he overlooks his kingdom; the Thoth Two of Wands (titled Dominion) shows us two Tibetan Djores crossed in front of burning flames, symbols of great power and authority. The glyphs for Mars and Aries appear on the card, telling us the card belongs to that sign and planet, which reinforces the meaning of strength, courage, pride etc.

One of the differences between the Thoth deck, and other well known decks such as the Rider Waite Smith, Marseille or Golden Dawn decks is the court cards. The courts are virtually identical pictorially to those of the Golden Dawn (Golden Dawn Tarot, Golden Dawn Magical Tarot etc.) and are based on the features described in Book T (a piece of Golden Dawn literature on the tarot). In the Golden Dawn tradition there are the standard four court cards. Kings (shown riding on a horse), Queens (seated on a throne), Princes (drawn forth in a carriage) and Princesses (standing). Crowley has maintained these features, but caused much confusion by renaming his kings as Knights in order to better represent the virility of the character. For someone used to the RWS or Marseille style Courts in which the King and Queen are both seated, and the Knight is the figure on the horse this can be initially confusing. A King riding a horse is now a feature I look for in a tarot deck when adding to my collection irrespective of the title given to him.

The majors also have been changed in some areas. A number of cards have been renamed to better reflect Crowley's understanding of the deeper meanings of the card i.e. The Magus (magician), The Priestess (high priestess), Adjustment (justice, numbered 8), Fortune (wheel of fortune), Lust (strength, numbered 11), Art (temperance), The Aeon (justice) and The Universe (the world). While most of the images of the majors are similar to other decks (at least in basic composition) a number of cards have been radically altered to reflect Crowley's magical journey and better illustrate his understanding of the modern world. Cards such as Lust, The Devil and especially The Aeon stand out in this regard.

The Thoth Deck is available in multiple sizes. At 14cm (5 1/2 inches) high and 9.5cm (3 3/4 inches) wide the larger deck may be too big for many people to shuffle comfortably. It does have the benefit of making the rich details of the card clear, which aids study. The smaller sizes are a very comfortable shuffle and the images do not suffer unduly from the reduced size. The card back shows a stylised Rosicrucian Cross, and is not reversible (the Thoth deck not being intended to be reversed).

The Thoth deck may not appeal to all people, but if you are attracted to this deck at all I highly recommend adding it to your collection. It will aid you in studying the tradition of modern tarot in greater detail and will enhance your knowledge and use of any other decks in your collection.