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Thoth Deck Experiences

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.tarot,alt.divination,talk.religion.newage,alt.pagan.magick
From: 333 
Subject: Thoth Deck Experiences (Harris-Crowley)
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2003 06:16:29 GMT

50030730 NULatix! viii om

# I have heard a lot about the Thoth deck. People seems to
# feel strongly about it.

re Thoth deck:
the type of art and the occultist behind the fashioning of
the deck seem to elicit strong emotional responses. I know
I had one (positive, power-based) when I found it and have
observed several from 'Ewww! That deck is *evil*!' to
'Bee-YU-tiful!' and would describe tarot decks as more 
and less powerful based on my observation of responses 
and biases with respect to decks in general. the power of 
the deck divides its admirers and detractors more easily,
regardless of the attitude of response, by my measure.

# I thought it might be one to add to my personal collection.

people mean such different things by 'collection' where
tarot decks are concerned. I've known people who have bags
of decks that they haul around to show-and-tell sessions
and intermittently sort on their own, possibly (if they
are interested) focussing on one or two which they use to
do spreads/readings. sometimes their studies and collection
were more important than reading, from what I could see, or
their pride was connected to the breadth of their assembly.

having seen such people, I've minimized my tarot decks and
only recently (because of the novelty to me) begun to form
a collection of *non-tarot* cartomancy cards (especially
older decks, even antiques). I used to use the Gypsy Witch 
Fortune-Telling Playing Cards, popular in the US, until I 
became disenchanted with its predominantly negative overall 
composition (perfect for Gypsy Candle-Burning Scams!! ). since then 
I've become enchanted with LeNormand and other style 
Fortune-Telling cards and am in the process of sorting
out their relative attributions (32, 36, and 52 card 
decks used for Euchre or other games than tarot).

where tarot is concerned I've focussed on a few decks only
(art- or practical-use-orientation; usually in combination
with the book written by the occultist). I found the Thoth so
potent and strange (coming mostly from exposure to Smith-Waite
and "The Pictorial Key" or its Eden Gray spin-offs, rather
than the dense weird prose-poetry of Crowley's "The Book of
Thoth"), that this fit right into my desires for a deck, and
I enjoyed greatly the integration of actual planetary and
zodiacal symbols on the cards (Large *and* Small cards!),
whereas in other (early, 60s-80s) tarot decks these
were less obvious to me or seemed completely absent.

over time, however, I began to notice the critical 'voice'
of the Thoth deck and sought a deck-book combo that was more
light-hearted, supportive, and what in the New Age community
that was my entry into esoteric community sought to label
'spiritual'. after examining decks like the very wonderful,
feminine and round Motherpeace deck, and other alternatives to
martial-masculine Hermetic symbolism running off of Smith-Waite
forms, being uninspired by non-Tarotic Osho and Voyager decks,
I settled on a multi-varied use of the Douglas-Slinger deck
called 'The Secret Dakini Oracle' (SDO) as a *perfect* mate for
the Thoth. I've several times used them one after the other
for readings, as compensatory or complementary energies and
soundings, and found focus on the Harris paintings and SDO
and use in altar construction extremely beneficial.

the SDO is enthusiastic, tantric, sensual, and accepting. its
flowing imagery and the book's positive focus misses some
of the blinders of authors like Diane Weinstein and her self-
limiting "Positive Magic" style that I found too antiseptic.
where it lacks some of the Thoth's power, as I perceive it,
the SDO makes up for this in its greater natural focus,
allusions to a greater variety of mystical symbolism, and its
bare tarotic structure -- being a 65-card correlate to an
ancient Saivite dakini-ring that inspired my early temple
construction. the artists include a matching of the SDO with
tarot and call the '0' card 'Fool' such that it may be seen
as a quasi-tarotic deck, although it is a single series of
numbered cards, 0-64 (easy for Yijing attribution too!).

however, if your collections are not extensive and you are
like me and only interested in having a few that you wish to
use for readings, the Thoth deck may well NOT BE FOR YOU
because of the strength and tenor of its composition. as
you can see, my desires were for something 'in-between' the
harshness of the Thoth and the sweetness of the SDOracle,
but I never found a single deck that sufficed, so used two.

# I went to the book store and I had the deck and book in
# my hands. I was in line to buy it. Finally, I got out of
# line, put it back and left. I had a very strong feeling
# that the deck was not for me.

I'm not surprised about this. I've seen others react similarly.

# Does anyone have any insight as to why I may have had such
# a strong negative reaction to the deck?

it is difficult to know why without knowing your personality,
but there are Crowleyan twists and dark rough edges to the
art (note my inexpert artform lingo!). the choice of Trump
names and Small Card names probably also has something to do
with the response, as do the drippy and rotational aspects 
to the elemental Small/Court cards (Cups-Water/Swords-Air).

my intent in creating a deck will be to integrate the esoteric
symbolism of the Thoth and some minor points of its Trumps to
the collage artform of the SDO, and will probably therefore
obtain some intermediary reactions. I've never seen a strong
negative reaction to the Dakini deck, though lack of interest
or adoration of is composition was not uncommon at all.

the fact that Aleister Crowley is associated with the Thoth
deck as the occultist-designer working with Freida Harris is
what gives some the willies. Crowley was someone whose early
Christian upbringing (Plymouth Brethren) seriously affected
his interests in twisting primarily Revelations symbolism to
his own particular ironic, hedonistic and controversial ends,
and those with Christian backgrounds are sometimes seriously
frightened by his writings and influences.


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