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pisceansecret

Crowley Deck

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pisceansecret

Hello

Does anyone else react like this? I first learnt about Tarot cards in 1996 when I went to a short course taught by Anne Shotter. At that time she was the President of the Tarot Guild of Australia. When she explained the various decks she mentioned the Crowley decks and that some people didn't like the "energy" of the Crowley deck.

The first time that I saw this deck was in a tarot book. It gave me the absolute heeby jeebies. I had to shut the book. I could not look at the cards from this deck. I felt very very uneasy. My feeling went way beyond a dislike of the art. I had some deeper reaction and wanted to run as far away from this deck as possible. There is no way I could ever use this deck or have a reading with it.

Am I the only person who reacts to the Crowley deck to such an extent? It genuinely makes me feel literally sick and really "cold". The only other time I have ever felt this way is when I used to read a book called "Ghosts, Spooks and Spectres" and on page 41 there was a picture of a face covered in blood and an article about ghosts. If a kid showed me that picture when I was about 10 I would run to the other side of the schoolyard - literally.

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Crystal Wolf

No, you are not the only one. many,many people feel the same. In fact in some ways the Tarot community is split into Thoth or Rider Waite decks, love one, hate the other it seems?

I think that it is the man, the creator and not the deck that is difficult to cope with. The cards work well actually if one takes the time to learn them, but they are not my taste at all, for me it's RW all the way lol :)

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Ingie

I have a Rider Waite deck and a Crowley deck and the latter is my favourite.

I remember the first time I saw one, years before I got interested in any alternative stuff, I didn't like it at all. My sister had bought it and I thought it looked readlly scary. I was wondering if she was in her right mind :unsure: and got very worried about her, convinced that she had started with some scary dark arts stuff :giggle:

Later I got interested too and started out with a Rider Waite deck that I was given from a friend, but after some time I found myself drawn to the beautiful Crowley cards, the patterns, colours and details, and it has been my favourite deck ever since :wub:

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Crystal Wolf

Glad you like the Thoth :)

I don't think the cards are scarey, but the man, oooooooh eeeek!

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Eruanna

It's interesting that you mention the Tarot community being split between RW and Crowley.....I began with a cheap starter deck and moved to RW's several months later, but from the moment I laid eyes on the designs of Thoth I was immediately drawn to them (in specific, a friend of mine wanted a modified version of Crowley's Star henna tattooed on his back, which is how I was initially introduced). For my birthday that same year my friend bought me the deck, and since then there has been no other for me. I've tried branching out; I like to feel the energies of different decks. But for some reason, the Thoth flows wonderfully for me, and I have never felt awkward or taken aback by it, ever.

Also interesting, I've tried reading using both decks at the same time, usually with the RW's as placeholders or signifiers while the Thoths I read/draw out. It works, but it can be a bit of a headache at times.

I've also experimented with the Moon deck and own a Necromonicon deck (a play off of H.P. Lovercraft's volume of tales). While I am very drawn to objects of shadow and darknesse, I've noticed that the latter of the two decks for some reason seems to be poised against me- I have a tendency to lose it, struggle to read with it (as if the cards do not wish to be read), and I recall that when I first bought the deck and tried to flow my energy through it, it shot a burning sensation through my palms.

Has anyone else an affinity for these types of decks? I also wonder, if you're a Thoth fan, if you've read the Book of Thoth and what you think of it- I've recently acquired it and use it for reference when reading.

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The Fool

I too love the Thoth deck, but must admit I haven't tried any sort of reading with it, mainly because I have such a good experience everytime I use the Zen deck (Osho -the man- isn't to everyone's taste, either!) But I really like the the artwork & colours used in the Thoth.

I've not tried to read The book of Thoth, as I've got quite a lot on at present, but it's on my to-do list. I think Crowley, although decidedly odd, had the right intentions by trying to connect to the spiritual side of life, at a time when most people in the West weren't aware of anything like this.

I'm half way through "The Three Dangerous Magi" by Mistlberger; it's about Crowley, Gurdjieff (sp?) and Osho. It's weighty, but a good read.

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Teffteff

Crowley is a genius. An evil genius maybe :P I remember trying to read his work on Magick Practice and Theory.. very itllegent and kind of falls into the idea that The Law of Attraction was hinting at with the power of Will and visualization. Kinda complicated though.. don't think I could practise those rituals or such and summoning the angels and demons sounds pretty scary :P

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IAOMAI

If I could have a deck that had Rider-Waite style trumps and Thoth deck style minors, that would probably be the only one I used. 

 

I really like how the Thoth deck tries to give the energy of the minors without confining it to the depiction of a particular kind of situation. I think in several cases the image depicted by RW doesn't really communicate the energies actually assigned to the minor very well.

 

But, after the Thoth deck artist abstracted the trumps, some of them don't communicate the archetypes as well as the RW (imho). For instance, I like the classic "Magician" of the RW deck. I know what it's intended to depict. The Thoth deck has three different revisions of the Magician, and I don't like any of them. They all seems to communicate "scattered focus" rather than "concentration," On the other hand, the Emperor of the Thoth deck is beautiful and retains the classic imagery very well. 

 

Maybe when I stumble upon my sudden and unexpected riches, I'll commission an artist and do one like I like. lol....

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Crystal Wolf

I think in several cases the image depicted by RW doesn't really communicate the energies actually assigned to the minor very well.

 

Thats interesting. Where do you think the minors actually came from then? Who decided on the 'energies'. You don't mention the Tarot de Marseille and their minors but it is commonly recognised that AE Waite took his interpretation of the minors and used that to depict scenes that most people can relate to?

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IAOMAI

Maybe so, but the esoteric order of which he was a member also passed down instruction on the symbolic construction tarot, including the minors. It used to be all very secret, it seems. But now there are books about everything that are open to the public if you know where to look. 

 

The minors are constructed using two different systematic sets of symbols. Each minor is like a "word" constructed from both of the sets of symbols - where they intersect in the cycle. At times, there is amazing agreement. At other times, it's a little more unclear, but you can get the feel for what the two symbol sets mean together.

 

The first symbol set is the number and suit. Each number represents a "sephirah" (sphere) on the qabalistic Tree of Life. For instance, the seventh sephirah is Netzach ("Victory"). This seventh sphere expressed in the element of Fire/Will is the 7 of Wands. 

 

The second symbol set involves a pattern of planets cycled through the zodiac. The third decan of Leo is associated with Mars, which makes the 7 of Wands correspond to Mars in Leo. 

 

So the full "word" is Netzach ("Victory" - conceived as nature in its green, active, creative, growing, thriving, desiring, alive sense) in the element of Fire/Will combined with the astrological symbolism of Mars in Leo. 

 

Thus, the 7 of Wands (named "Valour" in the Thoth deck) represents the desire to fight and win in the implementation of one's Will. 

 

Now, the images one creates will always be able to be subject to criticism and preference for symbolism. It's just the nature of trying to communicate something much more abstract through a more concrete situation (in the case of situational imagery). It's not *really* a big deal. But, just for instance, with the 7 of Wands in the Rider Waite deck, you have the image of a man standing against other staffs. The symbolism is correct. But ...when I look at his face... I don't see someone who loves the fight, who wants to be the Champion. I just see a guy standing against other wills. 

 

All my picky criticisms are that kind of thing. I like the Thoth deck for the minors because it does focus on the symbolism and its energy (it shows the Mars symbol and the Aries symbol among it's other more abstract symbolism). It's clearer to me than the image on the Rider Waite deck is. If that makes sense.  

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IAOMAI

That said, I'll add two things. 

 

1. Which "pictures" (deck) I use depends on who I'm doing the reading for. If I think they'll have trouble connecting with the abstractions of the Thoth deck, I use the RW.

 

2. In my humble yet strange opinion, an intuitive, using *any* set of symbols with which they are familiar and comfortable, develops a connection with that set of symbols that's going to work for them and lead to good, working readings. I just love the tarot and have opinions. lol... 

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Crystal Wolf

I see from your profile that you follow Qabalah, I do not and so my ideas are pretty different.

 

But would be interested to see what you make of the TdM though?

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IAOMAI

Well, I'll tell you how the story goes, and you can make up your own mind about it.

In Europe, if you were studying qabalah and spiritual alchemy, you had to watch out for the Inquisition. Both of these things teach the fundamental concepts that Westerners associate more with Hiduism, but the same phenomena were and ways of classifying them were being studied by medieval Western minds.

All this stuff was passed mouth to ear, and each student was required to first learn the system of classification and then draw their tarot for meditation and private communication. This exercise continues in some esoteric circles to this day. The BOTA deck comes uncolored on card stock so that you have to color it yourself and really pay attention to the symbolism for this same reason.

In the TdM, you have the first published version, hiding without direct references to its qabalistic/alchemical/zodiacal (secret) instruction.

"See, my Lord Inquisitor, it's just a card game for fun. No heretics here."

As a result, you get the main pieces without any of the more in depth instruction. You just had to memorize it, just like you have to memorize the meanings of the minors. But, you know, to know *why* the 7 of Wands means what it means, you had to know the system by heart.

Generally, I like the deck. It's very non-threatening to nervous newcomers to tarot. But it doesn't really help you learn the meaning of each card just by looking at them. In fact, you may have just caused me to talk myself into getting this deck for readings for others.

But, primarily, I meditate on the cards and their meanings more than I do readings with them, so I'm usually looking for those symbolic devices that help you remember how to get to the precise meaning of each card derived from their systematic construction.

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IAOMAI
*the same phenomena and ways of classifying them...

(Is there a way to edit posts?)

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IAOMAI
The "story" goes that the oral tradition of the tarot began with a meeting of similar minds in Morocco in the 1100s and that it existed in private circulation, teacher to student, for centuries before it became public. But being oral tradition, without physical record, you just have to take it for what you consider it to be worth.

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Crystal Wolf

I changed the word, you should be able to edit your posts for a short time after but then they lock automatically.

 

I like your story :) but I believe that the Majors go much further back than 1100. 22 is such a strong number :)

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IAOMAI

Yes. 22. In the Hebrew mystical tradition, the Sepher Yetzirah (The Book of Formation) gives 22 Intelligences or states of Consciousness associated with each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. From these 22 states of Consciousness, the tarot trumps are derived. 

 

Of course, that's dated 2nd century because of the book, but who knows how old it really is? The Hebrew language does have 22 letters afterall, and has since about the 10th century BCE. 

 

Here's the classic arrangement. There are different versions of the Sepher Yetzirah, but over time, this arrangement has been passed down:

 

827005_orig.jpg

 

Paul Foster Case is the man who first published this openly, and it is considered the standard version in esoteric circles. Crowley swapped two edge positions ("Tzaddi is not the Star"), and controversy ensues to this day, of course. 

 

However, the structure is rather logical.

 

3 axes - (the 3 Qualities) Rajas, Tamas, Sattva (Sanskrit)  / Sulpher, Salt, Mercury (Alchemy) / Shin, Mem, Aleph (Qabalah)

6 sides + 1 Center - the seven chakras (Sanskrit), the seven metals (Alchemical), the seven planets (Qabalah)

12 edges - 12 signs of the zodiac (All) 

 

= 22 attributions to the mystic Cube of Consciousness, calculating the permutations of the 3 qualities of Consciousness and their interactions, represented by 22 trumps of tarot. 

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IAOMAI

Deep calls unto deep. 

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Crystal Wolf

I think that you may be starting in the middle, what about the 22 Halls of Amenti back in Ancient Egyptian times?

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IAOMAI
What? The pyramid people? I don't think they knew what they were talking about. :)

If only the library at Alexandria hadn't been burnt, who knows what more we would know?

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