Cards - Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck (AGM-Urania)

Aleister Crowley Thoth tarot deck. AGM-Urania, Switzerland. Full divinatory tarot deck, Mediterranean suited, 80 single-headed cards + divinatory-meanings booklet. Size: 95mm x 140mm.

Deck make-up:
Trumps: 0-21.
Disks (i.e. coins), wands (i.e. clubs), cups, swords: A, 2-10, princess, prince, queen, knight.
Extras: title cards x2.

The Thoth Tarot Deck was devised in 1938 by controversial occultist Aleister Crowley, a member of the esoteric group the Ordo Templi Orientis. The artwork was realised by Lady Frieda Harris (an Ordo associate of Crowley, and probably his mistress) between 1938 and 1943. Originally, Crowley planned simply to reuse an old tarot design with a few corrections he deemed necessary to the original imagery. However, Harris eventually persuaded Crowley to sanction a completely new deck. The 78 paintings ended up taking Harris five years to complete: Crowley demanded up to eight repaints for some of the cards before he was satisfied. Many of these out-takes are still in circulation.

As with Arthur Waite (creator of the famous Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, see links at end of page) before him, Crowley released a (very long-winded) accompanying book, The Book of Thoth – A Short Essay on the Tarot of the Egyptians. In his (far from) "short" essay, Crowley doesn't even give the basic divinatory meanings in digestible form – the modern little white booklet which comes with the deck has had to have third parties pick out the meanings piecemeal from the text (if they're there at all), even resorting to quoting articles written by Lady Harris for art exhibitions "probably" edited from Crowley's other (presumably lost) notes.

Crowley died in 1947, the actual cards remaining unpublished until 1972 (most sources say 1969, but I gather that is wrong). These days, the deck remains a best-seller in the field of tarot, mainly due to Harris' rich and undated Dali-esque imagery. The cards are currently also available in a large format which allows the complex pictures to be studied in detail. However, one rather annoying aspect of the cards' design is that single-word divinatory meanings are given on the pip cards but not on the trumps or courts – strange.

Click on any card to explore the design.

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

Trumps

Disks (i.e. coins)

Wands (i.e. clubs)

Cups

Swords

Extras

The card on the left is an extra and features Crowley's personal magical seal, known as the Unicursal Hexagram, or Hexagram of the Beast. The next is "the statement of the Ordo Templi Orientis", who are the custodians of the Thoth deck's design.



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:

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).
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 Highlights Of Tarot or The Tarot: A Key To The Wisdom Of The Ages [NB covers trumps only] Revised version of Rider-Waite with some "corrected" trumps, and simple pip cards. Trumps also issued in colour form; full deck is b&w.
Thoth Tarot Deck Alistair 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 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

Ancient Italian Tarot / Tarocchino Milanese (Lo Scarabeo)

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

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

Grand Jeu De Mlle Lenormand (Grimaud)

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

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

Tarot De Marseilles (Conver-Camoin)

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (Rider)

Sola-Busca Tarot (privately commissioned deck)

The Urban Tarot (U.S. Games Systems)

Minchiate Fiorentine (Baragioli)

Le Tarot Astrologique / The Astrological Tarot (Grimaud)

Learning Tarot Cards (Witchy Cauldron)

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