The Hermetic Tarot (U.S. Games Systems)

The Hermetic Tarot. U.S. Games Systems, USA. Full divinatory tarot deck, Mediterranean suited, 78 single-headed cards + divinatory-meanings booklet.

Deck make-up:
Trumps: 0-21.
Pentacles (i.e. coins), wands (i.e. clubs), cups, swords: A, 2-10, knight, queen, king, princess.

A black-and-white deck based on Golden Dawn principles. I can't find much about this pack, so I'll quote from the Little White Booklet: "Godfrey Dowson's cards in The Hermetic Tarot reveal a combination of detail and symbolism that capture the mood and sense of each pictorial image. Subtle variations exist in almost every card. For example, fingertips touch the stem of a rose bush in the 8 of Pentacles (Lord of Prudence) in contrast to the firm grasp of a hand in the 4 of Pentacles (Lord of Earthly Power). The mangled swords in the 9 of Swords (Lord of Despair and Cruelty) and the roses in full bloom in the 6 of Pentacles (Lord of Material Success) illustrate how skillfully the artist has created the cards. Repeated study of each card often reveals for the first time a new dimension and scope not seen in a previous reading. One of the most important features of Dowson's Hermetic Tarot is his emphasis on the Golden Dawn astrological attributions of the cards."

"Godfrey Dowson successfully creates in The Hermetic Tarot a compelling reconstructed version of the tarot that has taken its place as one of the most important esoteric tarot decks published during the twentieth century."

"The back design of The Hermetic Tarot deck is a rose in full bloom. Each card contains the sigil—the mark of a master craftsman. All the work by Godfrey Dowson bears this mark. The original artwork for the Hermetic Tarot deck was executed between 1975 to 1977 by the artist."

As you would expect, this tarot is based on the official card specifications from Book T – an internal document which dealt with the Golden Dawn's thinking behind tarot. For example, the instructions given for the queen of swords were: "Queen of the Thrones of Air: A graceful woman with curly waving hair, like a queen seated upon a throne, and crowned. Beneath the throne are grey cumulus clouds. Her general attire is similar to that of the Queen of Wands. But she wears as a crest a winged child's head (like the head of an infantile kerub, seen sculptured on tombs). A drawn sword in one hand, and in the other a large bearded newly severed head of a man." You can see how this description translated to the end design below.

Click on any card to explore the design.

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


Pentacles (i.e. coins)

Wands (i.e. clubs)




Booklet, card reverse, box.



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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