English: Aleister Crowley’s unicursal hexagram. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am drooling over my new Giant Thoth and i must say that to me personally there is no deck like it!
It’s been a while now – a decade or so – that i didn’t do daily draws for prolonged periods of time, these scattered thoughts are mostly about enjoying on a daily basis the amazing artwork of Lady Harris, backed up with genius Crowley’s thought.
It’s interesting how these images – and their derivates* speak to the observer when he is unfamiliar with all the nasty myths related to Crowley and, more so, when he is not familiar neither with Tarot nor with Qabala…
With a friend we’ve been working on a project – i am completing the cycle of Thoth inspired poems and she is doing the illustrations; the teasers, selected poems and illustrations, were just published in June’s edition of Ars Literature Magazine.
It’s freshly out of press and i haven’t seen it yet, but today a life-long family friend, whom i hold in high respect, Mr Vladimir Kekovic, has called me to share his impressions, he happens to be one of the people on whose judgement of my work i rely the most.
Mr Kekovic is an amazing gentleman, a polymath, a popular and somewhat controversial public figure, author of several non-fiction bestsellers, famous art connaisseur and collector, father of the famous Montenegrin painter Biljana Kekovic and former Minister of Internal Affairs, which would say – chief of the secret service during the times of former Yugoslavia when this very service was ranked among the world’s top four, together with CIA, KGB and Mossad.
Someone with such references and public standing mazel tov-ing you on your work makes it up for the countless hours of research, for sleepless nights spent penning, for the whole process by which a poem is born into this world – which, as rewarding as it is, oftentimes is downright painful.
So, Mr Kekovic says he is moved by the poems and he shares with me what impact they had on him… and as he speaks, i bless god because that’s exactly why i spent the last year studying Crowley’s thought and O.T.O. materials religiously, performing the rituals, scrying andmeditating up to 16h a day! Last summer (2011), upon passing my PhD exam in philosophy in Moscow, i had returned to Montenegro, my mind still ‘trained’ from the seven months long preparation for the exam, i stocked up on all available materials on Thoth and locked myself with it in my apartment for four consecutive months – that is, during that time i focused exclusively on this deck of cards… (Since then, after managing to grasp an overall idea of the system, i devote to it some time every single day and at least one whole day of 8 effective working hours a week.) And it’s a tough cookie, i must tell you.
To get Thoth, one has to un-learn all one knew about reading RWS or Tarot de Marseilles. One needs to get beyond the urban myths about Crowley and their own fears – that’s not easy – and it’s just a first step.
Basically, Crowley and Lady Harris crammed all occult knowledge in existence into these 78 images – there are plethora of Greek myths included, the sacred geometry, biblical hermenautics, Qabala, Astrology and pretty much anything else you can think of.
Not to forget that both Crowley and Harris were geniuses in their own right, so getting their work takes much more than mere intellectual understanding; the images , with their meticulous selection of symbols and colors, when scryed on in preset combinations – have an expanding impact on the consciousness, which by far exceeds both verbalization and logic.
I do not think theirs can ever be surpassed; what can be done though – and what my friend and i tried to accomplish while working on this project – is to present your own perception of the deck and the ways it has impacted you.
For that purpose, i can’t recommend highly enough “Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot” by Lon Milo DuQuette, which i believe to be essential in Thoth studies – alongside with Crowley’s “Liber Theta” and Jim Eshelman’s “Liber Theta: Tarot Symbolism & Divination”. (Wang’s “Qabalistic Tarot, a Textbook of Mystical Philosophy” is an excellent source too, albeit often hard to follow and, to my view, excessively detailed.)
Lon Milo gives the qabalistic formula behind 8 of Wands aka “The Lord of Swiftness” : 8 (Hod) of Wands (Aziluth) + Mercury in Saggitarius; Harris’ design depicts the way in which energy becomes matter.
Crowley, without mentioning Einstein or mass-energy equivalence (E = mc2), states that: “this card, therefore, represents energy of high velocity, such as furnishes the master-key to modern mathematical physics. ”
Let’s try to understand what does it mean. (If you are not so much into Kabbalah and it derivatives, do skip the text in italics.)
Essentially , there are two ways of approaching the Tree of Life: from the “top-down” and from the “bottom-up.” “Top-down” is the analysis of the process of creation, beginning with what we can know about God, descending through the heavenly realms, down to earth and man himself. In Kabbalah it’s called the Work of Creation, and stems from the first chapters of Genesis.
“Bottom-up” begins with man and continues “up Jacob’s Ladder,”following his spiritual journey into the spiritual realms, towards God. This method is based on the analysis of Ezekiel’s vision, and called the Work of the Chariot.
Generally, the Sephirah on the right “pillar” of the Tree of Life are “active” and those on the left a “passive”. The outer pillars are also associated with the ideas of “force” and “fire” (on the right side) and “form” and “water” (on the left side). The central pillar is balancing the two, and is associated with “air” or “spirit.”
“All the Sephirot on the passive pillar are receptive and have the qualities of Form, in the Understanding (Binah) is the formulation of ideas, Judgment (Gevurah) is exercised in response to something, and Reverberation (Hod) is the echo to an impulse coming from any one of the other Sephirot. It is the same with the active pillar. Here the impact of revelation is seen in Wisdom (Hokhmah), while the power than must be behind Mercy (Hesed) is enormous. Eternity (Netzah) is the principle of repetition, the incessant input necessary to make the world go round. The central pillar is concerned with Will and with the Grace which descends from the Crown (Keter) through Knowledge (Da’at) to Beauty (Tiferet), which is the Sephirah which reflects the top to the bottom of the Tree. Foundation (Yesod) and Kingdom (Malkut) are respectively the manifestation of an image plan and the actualization of it in the Divine material.” (1)
(It should be noted however, that as the Sephirot interact with, and contain aspects of each other, that any of the ones on the passive side can act forcefully, and vice-versa. For instance, Gevurah (Judgment) can be “passive” in terms of mediating between understanding and truth, or it can be “active” in terms of meeting out punishment in the face of continued evildoing. )
The Four Worlds of Kabbalah, the stages of the “creation process”are read out from Isaiah 43:7, “Every one that is called by My name (Atzilus “Emanation/Close”), and for My glory I have created (Beriah “Creation”), I have formed (Yetzirah “Formation”), even I have made (Asiyah “Action”).
The simplest way of understanding the four worlds and descending chain of Existence is to compare it to someone building a house:
The person determines that one day they would build their own house (emantion);
they plan the style they would design it to (creation);
they draw up the specific blueprints to fulfill this design (formation);
they acquire the materials and construct it (action).
Hod is the eighth sephira of the Kabbalistic tree of life; and, mystically, as a placement
on the roadmap to higher consciousness, it’s the key to the mystery of form.
In Western Esoteric Tradition (Hermetic Qabala)Hod is viewd to be the sphere in which the magician mostly works. Dion Fortune gives example of a primitive man, meditating in the wilderness, who comes in contact and begins to understand some energy that surrounds him. To grasp it better, he creates some form, perhaps the form of a god or a symbol, so he has something he can relate to. He uses that statue or symbol in future ceremonies to contact that intangible energy once again and this is the role that Hod plays in magick.
Long story short – it’s somewhere here that the word is imbued with its creative powers and charged with whatever it takes to manipulate the outer reality.
Astrologically, according to Marcia Moore and Mark Douglas, “Mercury is in detriment in Sagittarius because of the disproportion between the planet of specific facts and the sign of general possibilities. Sagittarian expansiveness stimulates Mercury to a fitful brilliance which may be alternately superficial and inspired… The mind darts from one conclusion to another but, unless it is deliberately reined in, continuity and judgment are lacking.
At best, the Mercury-Sagittarius blend gives a profound sense of purpose and the ability to focus on distant goals. A far-reaching ambition to comprehend the mental and moral laws of the universe and to reconcile scientific and religious approaches to life results in a tendency to study several subjects simultaneously, to carry on more than one occupation, and to become involved in a number of different but related projects.” (2)
Lon Milo compares 8 of Wands to two people who spend the night drinking coffee and talking tirelessly – adding that obviously there is a lot is to be learned, yet that ultimately they’ll crash. (I say – that’s unless those two switch to drinking herbal tea, munch on a healthy snack and get a nap – very little can be understood in a single night, albeit a lot can be said.)
As per the working use, the main Key Words for the card are ‘hasty communications and messages’.
As we know, Lady Harris among else used her knowledge of Decans* in choosing the colors and those are all but accidental.
As i look at the planetary Glyph of Mercury depicted on the card, i think to myself how was blessed i was to spend this Saturday on my own, in gracious presence of my fur baby, Manya, who is mostly minding her own business.
The yellows and reds of the card remind me of the burn out and exhaustion i felt ever since last Tuesday, when i got back from the most demanding and tiring work trip to Brussels – it did feel like being in the sun way too long.
Communicating extensively, giving speeches and participating in conferences for several consecutive days for me is an unusual and extreme mode of being and as i look at these red arrows zig-zagging from the center outwards – i do feel how i am retrieving my own energies the other way around, being on my own, centering and enjoying the silence; going deeper from the upper fiery colors – towards the bottom of the card are the blue shades of spirituality and the green of rejuvenation.
Copyright©20012 Lena Ruth Stefanovic, All Rights Reserved
Thoth Tarot scans (all cards) http://www.tarot.com/tarot/decks/index.php?deckID=5
Lon Milo’s Book on Thoth – Review http://supertarot.co.uk/wp/2009/06/understanding-crowleys-book-of-thoth-review/
Liber Theta: Tarot Symbolism & Divination (free download) http://www.thelema.org/publications/
Alester Crowley , The Book of Thoth (free download) http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/crowley/libro_thoth.htm
The Four Worlds of Kabbalah http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/361902/jewish/The-Four-Worlds.htm
* The Golden Dawn Minor Arcana, Mary K. Greer’s Tarot Blog:
(1) A Kabbalistic Universe, Z’ev Shimon Halevi, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach, Maine, 1977, p. 16.
(2)Astrology, The Divine Science. Marcia Moore and Mark Douglas: Arcane Publications; 1st edition,1978 (OOP)