The Magical Tarot of the Golden Dawn by Pat Zalewski and illustrated by David Sledzinski is a Golden Dawn based tarot deck, keyed to the four color scales, and also a Stella Matutina deck. Stella Matutina, or Morning Star, is one of the daughter organizations that branched from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
If there is anyone creating a Golden Dawn deck to pay attention to, it’s Pat Zalewski. I’m familiar with his work through his 2002 Talismans & Evocations of the Golden Dawn and am super excited to be working with The Magical Tarot of the Golden Dawn, released by Aeon Publishing in 2022 (though I think this 2022 edition is a reprint of a deck by Pat and Chris Zalewski of the same name).
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.
The Hermetic Tarot by Godfrey Dowson was one of my earliest deck reviews on this blog, back in 2013. And it wasn’t even really a deck review. I don’t know what that was other than a little bit too cringe for me to try to reread now. Anyway, let’s revisit the deck and add this posting to our cluster of Golden Dawn deck discussions.
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was active for only about fifteen years, and yet consider the scope and breadth of their influence in Western occultism, especially in the world of tarot. Even fun, flighty, not-at-all-occult mass produced pop tarot decks are unintentionally influenced by the Golden Dawn.
Crowley first published a description of the Order’s card designs in The Equinox in 1912, riling MacGregor Mathers to the point of litigation to try and stop Crowley’s publication. Then around World War II, Israel Regardie published the Golden Dawn card descriptions again, and provided oversight to both Robert Wang and the Ciceros in their subsequent GD decks. The LWB introduces Dowson’s deck as one more Golden Dawn based tarot deck in the line of succession since the Order dissipated.
Dowson’s pen and ink drawings for the Hermetic Tarot were done between 1975 and 1977, with the deck published by U.S. Games in 1980. Stuart Kaplan co-wrote the LWB that comes with the cards. Kaplan remarks about the Hermetic Tarot that it is a “compelling reconstructed version of the tarot that undoubtedly will take its place as one of the most important esoteric tarot decks published during the twentieth century.”
The Tarot of Ceremonial Magick by Lon Milo DuQuette and Constance DuQuette was first published by U.S. Games in 1997, then republished in 2010 by Thelesis Aura. The edition you see here is from the Third Printing, 2013. Interestingly, these cards were printed in the Republic of Korea. Since it’s rare to see that, I thought it was worth a mention.
Let’s conclude Golden Dawn Tarot week with an offshoot-GD deck, the B.O.T.A. Tarot by Paul Foster Case, illustrated by Jessie Burns Parke. In this blog post, the fully colored Majors are from the 2009 Ishtar Publishing reprint of Paul Foster Case’s Learning Tarot Essentials: Tarot Cards for Beginners (1932), via the Internet Archive.
Earlier in the week I posted about the Golden Dawn Tarot by Robert Wang and Dr. Israel Regardie, and continuing on what has somehow turned into Golden Dawn Tarot week here on my blog, this will be a showcase of the Golden Dawn Magical Tarot (or New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot) by Chic and Tabatha Cicero.
The guidebook is titled The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot: Keys to the Rituals, Symbolism, Magic & Divination (2010). I’m reviewing the 2014 reprinted edition. The guidebook also refers to the deck as the New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot, but then the box reads Golden Dawn Magical Tarot. In the guidebook, the authors themselves refer to the deck as the Ritual Tarot, so that’s what I’ll be going with.
If you’re interested in contemporary Golden Dawn based ceremonial magic and the tarot, then you’ll want to get this book and deck set.
Robert Wang, perhaps best known as the author of Qabalistic Tarot, is also an artist. He created The Golden Dawn Tarot back in 1978 and later the Jungian Tarot in the 90s. There’s a companion book to the deck, An Introduction to the Golden Dawn Tarot published through Weiser also in 1978. You can digitally “check out” or borrow the text at OpenLibrary.org for an hour, which is what I did and will comment on as a supplement to this deck overview.
“Rarely has a tarot deck created more pre-publication interest than this long-awaited Golden Dawn Tarot pack by Dr. Robert Wang, a devoted scholar and researcher of the Secret Order of the Golden Dawn,” wrote Stuart Kaplan about the deck.
With the guidance of Dr. Israel Regardie, poring over old notebooks of members from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Wang created the Golden Dawn Tarot as an esoteric deck intended to reveal, with greater clarity, the Golden Dawn interpretive approach to the cards. This was to be a “missing link” between the Rider-Waite and the Crowley Thoth. Kaplan described Wang’s deck as “an important rare book in the field of tarot.”
Whether you’re a tarot beginner (in which case may I suggest you check out “Introduction to Intuitive Tarot,” “Tarot and Pop Culture,” or “Unlocking the Major Arcana through Yoga”), proficient with tarot but looking to take your practice to the next level (ooh–check out my class on “Learning the Opening of the Key” *tooting my own horn*) or you’re aspiring to become a professional tarot reader (check out “Party Readings for Tarot Professionals” or “Tarot, from Hobby to Profession”), the first ever Tarot Summer School is a magnificent trove of tarot studies. A complete list of all course offerings is here, via this link. I’ll be a student, just like you, sitting in on all the courses. So many of them are getting me super excited!
There will also be campfire Q&A sessions where all enrolled students can come together (over the Internet; I don’t know how it works; it’s magic; you’ll have to ask headmistress Ethony) and I will try very hard to make it to one of those campfire sessions so if you want to chat with me, ask me your tarot questions, or whatever, you’ll want to enroll and gain access to the campfire Q&A.
Check out the below link to read all the course listings, meet the faculty, and watch everybody’s course introduction videos. It’s a really diverse group of tarot personalities.
And to give prospective students a free preview of my course, “Learning the Opening of the Key,” I’ve uploaded and made available the first video installment of the lecture series, the Introduction. Check it out:
If that sneak peek into my full course piqued your interest, then enroll today! It’s only $24 USD per course. Or get the lifetime access season’s pass for $199, which gets you all the courses this semester.
And if I did not manage to pique your interest, then… *shrug* doh. I did my best.
But do check out everybody else’s course offerings even if mine isn’t your cup of tea. I know at least one of those master classes is making you go “ooh!!” Embrace that “ooh!!” and your woo, and we the instructors at Tarot Readers Academy will see you at Tarot School this summer.