Golden Dawn Magical Tarot (Llewellyn Books)

Golden Dawn Magical Tarot. Llewellyn Books, USA. Full divinatory tarot deck, Mediterranean suited, 79 single-headed cards. Size: 82mm x 118mm.

Deck make-up:
Trumps: 0-21 (plus additional Temperance card).
Pentacles (i.e. coins), wands (i.e. clubs), cups, swords: 1-10, king, queen, prince, princess.

Israel Regardie (born 1907) was a member of an esoteric group called Stella Matutina, a descendent outfit of the Order of the Golden Dawn. Feeling the group's procedures were wrongly limited to such a small set of people and that, over time, the order's secrets could even be lost, in 1935 he broke his oath and started publishing the group's secret internal documents. One of these documents was Book T (subtitled A Description of the Cards of the Tarot with their Attributions; Including a Method of Divination by Their Use) and dealt with the Golden Dawn's thinking behind tarot. Book T had been anonymously written, in the main, by Samuel Liddell Macgregor Mathers, the head of the Golden Dawn.

Though Mathers and the Golden Dawn had one or two internal specimen decks (probably illustrated by Mathers' wife, Moina), the usual procedure for Golden Dawn's members was to make and colour their own tarot deck using the instructions (presumably also devised by Mathers) contained in Book T (and, for the trumps, a couple of other documents).

For example, the instructions given for the knight of cups (in this deck, for some reason, changed to be called The Prince of Cups) are: "A winged Kingly figure with a winged crown, seated in a chariot drawn by an Eagle. On the wheel is the symbol of a Scorpion. The Eagle is borne as a crest upon his crown, cuirass and buskins. General attire like Knight of Wands. Beneath his chariot is the calm and stagnant water of a lake. His scale armour resembles feathers more than scales. He holds in one hand a Lotus, and the other a Cup, charged with the Sigil of his scale. A serpent issues from the Cup, and has its head tending down to the waters of the Lake." You can see how this description translated to the end design below.

The deck was masterminded and executed by Chic (Charles) and Sandra Tabatha Cicero from Florida, husband-and-wife members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an organisation founded in 1988 which promotes the teachings of the original outfit. The deck had the blessing of Israel Regardie, who died during its initial design stages in 1985.

The deck was originally known as Golden Dawn Magical Tarot but was subsequently retitled and relaunched. It should not be confused with the similarly named deck by Pat Zalewski and Chris Zalewski.

One of the Unique Selling Points of this deck is the much-debated "correct" colour scheme to be utilised for the cards. The Ciceros bring in a colour scheme based on the four classical elements: Fire, Water, Air and Earth, even though this means overriding some of the colouring suggested by the original Book T (this is OK as the Golden Dawn apparently sometimes did this too). "The Golden Dawn assigns two 'flashing colors' to each element. Flashing colors are pigments which the artist knows as complimentary colors, or colors that sit on opposite sides of a color wheel. Two flashing colors juxtaposed will, when stared at, produce an optical effect of switching places with one another. The flashing colors are given thus: Fire – red and green, Water – blue and orange, Air – yellow and violet, Earth – black and white." The first colour gets used for the background, and the second for some of the foreground details.

The more traditional colours assigned to the cards by the Golden Dawn (which are based on those assigned to the ten sefirot in each of four "worlds"/scales, and the 22 paths, of the Kabbalistic tree of life) are in the pictures too (as are the colours related to the planetary and zodiac associations), but they seem to have been relegated to secondary importance.

Other Book T elements have been changed by the Ciceros too: "[Book T] also described smaller elemental implements at the top and bottom of each Minor card, upon which the astrological and zodiacal symbols were perched. The valuable Decan symbols remain but the small implements seemed to function merely as ornaments and were left out of most cards ... for artistic reasons."

Anybody interested in the colouring aspects of the Golden Dawn tarot cards (the Ciceros' book presents the usual mystical prattle in lieu of much about the deck as a piece of design work) should take a look at the book The Magical Tarot of the Golden Dawn by Pat and Chris Zalewski; the booklet The Golden Dawn Court Cards by Moina Mathers, W W Westcott, Anthony Fleming and Darcy Küntz; and the paper Coloring the Classic Golden Dawn Tarot by Richard Dudschus and David Sledzinski.

Click on any card to explore the design.

(Comments or corrections, please e-mail: Click to see e-mail address.)

Trumps

Major number 14 (Temperance) appears twice in this pack, representing newer and "soon substituted" older forms of the card ("in order to conform to the requirements of Golden Dawn Ritual").

Pentacles (i.e. coins)

Wands (i.e. clubs)

Cups

Swords

Extras

Documents

The legendary Book T by Samuel Liddell Macgregor Mathers. The official Golden Dawn instructions for their tarot. Follow the guidelines and design your own deck!

Coloring the Classic Golden Dawn Tarot by Richard Dudschus and David Sledzinski.



The deck on this page is one masterminded by a Golden Dawn (or its offshoots) member, or designed to adhere to their concepts of tarot. A list of other major such decks is given below (scroll/swipe to the right if needed):

Deck Author/s Artist/s (if diff.) Release year "Official" guide book Notes
Marseilles tarot / Tarot de Marseille unknown various 15th century The Tarot: Its Occult Signification, Use In Fortune-Telling, And Method Of Play, Etc. The booklet cited (written in 1888 by Samuel L MacGregor Mathers of the Golden Dawn) gives "official" Golden Dawn divinatory meanings when using the Marseilles tarot (referred to at that time as the Italian tarot).
In 1889, Swiss occultist and artist, Oswald Wirth, designed a well-known tarot specifically for esoteric use with his own versions of the trumps in the Marseilles pattern.
The Rider-Waite[-Smith] Tarot Arthur Edward Waite Pamela Colman Smith 1909 The [Pictorial] Key To The Tarot
Builders Of The Adytum (BOTA) Tarot Paul Foster Case Jessie Burns Parke 1931 The Tarot: A Key To The Wisdom Of The Ages or Highlights Of Tarot [NB doesn't cover pip cards] Revised version of Rider-Waite with some "corrected" trumps and courts, and simple pip cards. Trumps also issued in colour form; full deck is b&w.
Thoth Tarot Deck Aleister Crowley Lady Frieda Harris 1972 (painted 1938-43) The Book Of Thoth (Egyptian Tarot): A Short Essay On The Tarot Of The Egyptians
The Golden Dawn Tarot (aka The Whare Ra deck) Israel Regardie Robert Wang 1978 An Introduction To The Golden Dawn Tarot
The Hermetic Tarot Godfrey Dowson 1979 Only the Little White Booklet that comes with the deck. Black & white.
Golden Dawn Magical Tarot (aka The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot) Chic Cicero & Sandra Tabatha Cicero (with Israel Regardie) 1991 Golden Dawn Magical Tarot / The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot "Ritual" was the earlier name. Do not confuse this deck with the one below – they are different!
The Magical Tarot Of The Golden Dawn Pat Zalewski & Chris Zalewski Skip Dudchous & David Sledzinski 2022 The Magical Tarot Of The Golden Dawn: Revised Ed. Earlier editions had art by Jonathon A Pierce instead. This deck is not to be confused with the similarly named deck above!

Links to other full tarot and divinatory decks

Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck (AGM-Urania)

Ancient Italian Tarot / Tarocchino Milanese (Lo Scarabeo)

Golden Dawn Magical Tarot (Llewellyn Books)

The Golden Dawn Tarot (U.S. Games Systems)

Grand Etteilla (Tarots Egyptiens / Egyptian gypsies tarot) (Grimaud)

Grand Jeu De Mlle Lenormand (Grimaud)

(Petit) Lenormand / "Blue Owl" Lenormand (AGM-Urania)

The Hermetic Tarot (U.S. Games Systems)

Learning Tarot Cards (Witchy Cauldron)

Minchiate Fiorentine (Baragioli)

Nouveau Jeu De La Main (Grimaud)

Tarots Parisiens / Oracles Planetaires / Sorcier du XIXe Siècle (Viuda de Bouchard-Huzard)

Tarot Of The Renaissance (Lo Scarabeo)

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (Rider)

RWS Panorama (Deckstiny)

Sola-Busca Tarot (privately commissioned deck)

Le Tarot Astrologique / The Astrological Tarot (Grimaud)

Tarot De Marseilles (Conver-Camoin)

Tarot: Spécial Cercle / Tarot Nouveau / Tarot A Jouer / Jeu De Tarot / Bourgeois Tarot (Grimaud)

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