|B.O.T.A. Tarot||1931||Paul Foster Case & Jessie Burns Park|
|The Golden Dawn Tarot||1978||Robert Wang (w/ Israel Regardie)|
|The Hermetic Tarot||1980||Godfrey Dowson|
|Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot||1991||Chic Cicero & Sandra Tabatha Cicero|
|Tarot of Ceremonial Magick||1997||Lon Milo DuQuette & Constance DuQuette|
This past week I posted deck reviews, which turned out to be more like discussions, on the above five occult decks and their companion guidebooks, with references back to Regardie’s texts, Waite’s Pictorial Key, and Crowley’s Book of Thoth. It was time-consuming and quite the Effort, but I thought, one-and-done, meaning let me just knock each of these out of the way and then have it memorialized on my blog for future referencing.
If you’re a tarot enthusiast, then I hope there were inclusions of insights from those discussions that you’ll want to add to your personal tarot journal. For me, even while I’ve worked with the tarot for two decades plus, the process of consolidating study of these Golden Dawn based decks in quick succession synthesized so much.
Even most of the light, fun, fast-and-easy pretty decks published as of late are at their essence rooted in the Golden Dawn system, whether or not it was consciously done.
No matter how you feel about the Golden Dawn system of correspondences or the melding of a Christianized perspective of Kabbalah (or calling it Hermetic Qabalah to make the distinction), it’s impossible for the tarot enthusiast to deny the objective influence of the Golden Dawn on the popularized versions of tarot today.
And so I thought, hey, somebody out there is going to maybe probably benefit from this focused study of select GD-based decks. I hope even scrolling and skimming the five deck discussions will impart a rudimentary foundational understanding of this Western occult heritage.
We started on Monday with a look-through of The Golden Dawn Tarot by Robert Wang and the deck’s companion book An Introduction to the Golden Dawn Tarot.
Wednesday we covered The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot (or Golden Dawn Magical Tarot) by Chic and Tabatha Cicero, along with its companion text, The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot: Keys to the Rituals, Symbolism, Magic & Divination, building our study of that deck atop of what we gleaned from Wang’s Golden Dawn Tarot.
I scheduled these two deck reviews side by side since both were designed under the direct instruction of Israel Regardie.
Going a bit nonlinear in terms of publication date chronology, Friday we considered the essentials of the B.O.T.A. Tarot by Paul Foster Case and Jessie Burns Parke, supplemented by insights from Case’s writings.
On Saturday we looked at the more Crowleyian-Thelemic inspired deck, Tarot of Ceremonial Magick by Lon Milo and Constance DuQuette. This diverges somewhat from the earlier decks mentioned, but nonetheless bears strong Golden Dawn influences syncretized with many different mystical traditions in the spirit of the Golden Dawn correspondences. That’s why it’s worth including in this week-long tour.
Then on Sunday we revisited The Hermetic Tarot by Godfrey Dowson. Here you’re going to see pronounced influences from Eliphas Levi’s Doctrine and Ritual, Israel Regardie, and artistic designs notably inspired by the Thoth deck. Like Tarot of Ceremonial Magick, the Hermetic Tarot integrates the Enochian system of ceremonial magic, angelic tablets, and watch towers as espoused by Regardie in The Golden Dawn.
The above selection of Lovers cards come from a few of the contemporary occult tarot decks (in terms of market genre) I had within my physical reach. So there are others I would have wished to share in that snapshot, but those decks just happen to be out of sight at the moment. Wait, crap, like immediately I can see I forgot Payne-Towler’s Tarot of the Holy Light. How the bleeping heck did I manage that?!! @#$%^&* Argh. Now after I finish typing this up I’m gonna have to figure out where my Tarot of the Holy Light decks are and why they’re not within reach! Grrr.
Anyway. I chose to showcase Key 6: The Lovers card mainly because I find that this card in particular is where one of those exoteric vs. esoteric schisms happens.
You’ll have noticed that throughout those GD deck discussions, I inserted asides to the SKT. In designing the SKT, I took a lot of inspiration from the writings of Eliphas Levi, and the Golden Dawn was heavily influenced by Levi. So there will be a lot of similarities, not to mention most of us (but not all) tarot readers with a penchant for the occult are, on some level, influenced by the Golden Dawn system of correspondences.
That was actually one of my main motivations for doing this week of GD deck studies. By reviewing these decks of precedent, you can see where exactly my inspirations in the SKT came from. And I think anyone interested in doing an in-depth study of the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is probably also going to be interested in doing an in-depth study of these GD decks.
Ooh, can you do me a favor? Please? If you actually worked through this Golden Dawn deck review series and want to see more content like this, please leave a comment to let me know. This will be my way of trying to gauge what to invest my time on and what’s not worth the bother. Thanks!