The Book of Thoth (Egyptian Tarot) by Aleister Crowley    Review by Michele Jackson
 
This book, written specifically for Crowley’s deck is a classic Tarot reference. Crowley
describes the symbolism and concepts behind the choice of symbolism in a detailed, if not
simple manner. I have read this book twice in the last 20 years and still can not say I
understand it fully, however as a means of understanding the Qabalistic and astrological
underpinnings of the Tarot, it can not be beat. Crowley’s book and deck are often
foreshadowed by his media reputation. This is too bad because this book and deck are
both worthy of serious study. Crowley begins with some historical and background
information on the cards. He limits himself to what can be verified historically vice going
into flights of fancy. Crowley believed, however, that the Tarot is a pictorial form of the
Qabala, despite the lack of historical evidence to support this theory. As a member of the
Golden Dawn, he was privy to their system, which he drew upon heavily in his own work.
He made several corrections to what he considered errors or deliberate attempts to
mislead on the part of the Golden Dawn. The book has sections on the Majors, Court
Cards and Minors, describing the symbolism and correspondences. His descriptions reveal
his extensive reading and travels, for he brings mythology, Eastern philosophy,
mathematics, and physics into his discussions. This book does a thorough job of explaining
the Tarot as a whole, both esoteric and exoteric. Crowley can get a little dense at times,
and he will certainly send you to your largest dictionary several time throughout your
reading, but one gets the impression that he enjoyed writing the book and was having a
good time throughout. His biting humor comes through on more than one occasion and it
is obvious that Crowley gave a lot of thought and study to his system. A familiarity with
Qabala and Astrology are necessary to get the most out of this book, though you could
nuke your way through it, as I did the first time I read it. It is difficult to appreciate
Crowley’s work if you are struggling to understand the basic underlying concepts. I would
recommend this book to those who have mastered the basic interpretations of the cards,
have some familiarity with astrology and Qabala and who are looking for something
substantive in a sea of beginner’s books. This book will definitely give you a lot to ponder
and will certainly enhance your understanding of the Tarot.
 
The Book of Thoth (Egyptian Tarot)
Author: Aleister Crowley a.k.a. Master Therion
ISBN: 0913866121

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Excerpt
XI LUST
This trump was formerly called Strength. But it implies far more than strength in the
ordinary sense of the word. Technical analysis shows that the Path corresponding to the
card is not the Strength of Geburah, but the influence of Chesed upon Geburah, the path
balanced both vertically and horizontally on the Tree of Life (see diagram). For this reason
it has been thought better to change the traditional title. Lust implies not only strength, but
the joy of strength exercised. It is vigor, and the rapture of vigor.
The Book of Thoth pages 91 - 92


Copyright 1996/97 Michele Jackson