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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars


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on 12 March 2017
great !!!
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on 5 September 2017
Interesting but complicated book lol
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on 7 March 2017
In depth work. First rate
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on 9 March 2017
very interesting
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on 18 November 2011
Crowley wrote a lot and much of it is pretty inaccessible. This is because he not only makes reference to complex magic systems, both Western and Oriental, but had his own particular slant on things, namely his trance-received path of Thelema. In addition, he had a unique and not always pleasant personality and was a product of his time and class, namely a privileged, even spoilt Edwardian brat. All in all, you might do well reading up on his life before looking at this particular book.

In my experience though, it is one of his best works and surprisingly accessible, to the extent that one could just about forgive, or at least overlook, his shortcomings as a human being. I feel able to take what I want from it and leave the rest i.e. the personality and millennial beliefs of the author. The descriptions of the cards and their meanings are very clear (based as they are on the Kabalistic Tree of Life and Golden Dawn tradition.) I especially like the different 'personalities' he describes for the court cards which can be very perceptive (especially so when you realise you are reading about yourself|) The essays on the major trumps are of interest for their range of classical references but not crucial for practical use. Bear in mind too that the style is very much of it's place and time i.e. first half of the 20th century England with attendant proper grammar, clear thinking and erudition.

I would say this book can be used with any more or less standard pack, not necessarily his own design - I only use his cards occasionally. That said, the Thoth deck he created with Frieda Harris remains one of the most strikingly artistic packs ever devised, each card a work of art in it's own right. There are a few colour (and the rest black and white) illustrations of the cards. Overall, one of the best Tarot books for the serious student of occultism - experienced Tarot users will likely come back to it frequently as a reference and beginners will find it stimulating. It would also possibly serve as an introduction for the curious to Crowley's style and beliefs even if you are not necessarily a Tarot reader - was his poetry really as bad as some say?
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on 9 March 2002
I would say this book will appeal to those who are willing to look at the Tarot for what it is. The beginner or the more experienced reader will both feel the deep insights this book has to offer, if they read it with an open mind. I know there are some that think this book is complicated and difficult to understand, however I would disagree. My advice would be to read it through once in a relaxed way, without trying to remember anything or understand all the details, then read the sections that appeal to you in more depth as you feel necessary. That way you will get the most from this excellent book. If you consider the Tarot an important and revelant subject you will need to read this book. I also highly recommend buying the deck itself.
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on 11 September 2012
Aleister Crowley and Frieda Harris produced the definitive modern Tarot deck, the "Thoth" Tarot. And this is the book that should naturally accompany the deck. Although there are other books that use the Thoth Tarot as their basis, this is the only sensible place to begin, since Crowley masterminded the designs. Since Eliphas Levi first equated the Tarot with the Qabalah, the two have become inseparable. More than any other before or since, Crowley produced his Tarot as an illustration of the 10 sephiroth and 22 paths of the Hermetic Tree of Life. The deck is unique, not only for its exquisite "grown up" art work, but for its faithful representation of the four colour scales of the Hermetic Tree.

"The Book of Thoth" is among the most lucid of Crowley's writings. In it, he covers the whole spectrum of magick, mysticism and alchemy, with a full explanation of the elemental, planetary and other correspondences. The only drawback is that the section on divination is very sketchy; you will be disappointed if you buy this book expecting a "how to" on reading the cards. The example of a Tarot spread given here is based on the "Opening of the Key" method of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and in fact the notes on that are so abbreviated as to be baffling to the novice, or anyone that has not already studied the "Book T" section of the Golden Dawn's knowledge papers. However, I recommend that this does not put you off, since "The Book of Thoth" is a masterpiece. There is a simple 15 card Tarot spread and method that was created by one of the publishers of the "Thoth" deck that can easily be found online (and among my own writings). This will enable anyone with even a modicum of knowledge and ability to get to work straight away with divination. To get the best out of this, one needs to practice the Tarot "dignities" method, so that when reading sets of 2 or 3 cards together, their meaning can be accurately evaluated. No one interested in the Tarot, the Hermetic Qabalah or magick should be without this classic. I first read it 26 years ago and still constantly find things in it that surprise and intrigue me.

I have written several books on the occult, including The Ending of the Words : Magical Philosophy of Aleister Crowley, which is available from Amazon as a perfect bound paperback as well as a Kindle edition. See also, Hermetic Qabalah and Ritual Magick - The Rites and Ceremonies of Hermetic Light.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 July 2014
This is THE most useful book on tarot ever written for anyone who wants to get beyond the parlour game. end-of-pier Madam Zaza Sees ALL fortune-telling scam that to many is all that the cards will ever be about.

I'm not sure if Crowley's assertion that the cards are the condensed, lost wisdom of the ages holds as true in this universe as well as the one that he found himself inhabiting for much of his life but It's helpful to go with the flow and suspend all disbelief for the duration of the experience, much as one might do when watching a film or reading some piece of impossible fiction. The experience is remarkably self consistent and has all the signs of doors opening up on the inner reality behind the facade, and this is where many, including myself, can and have gone wrong. The underlying reality perceived by understanding the cards is not THE reality, merely A reality but it is surely seductive and operators flushed with success, or awe at their enhanced perception may take many, many years to regain their objectivity. Sorry, not meaning to sound like Dennis Wheatley there ... :-)
Crowley presents an interesting perspective on the history of the Tarot which may or may not be mundanely factual but it certainly works as a key to unlocking certain levels of mystery which experience will verify for any dedicated experimenter.
The mapping of the Major Arcana onto the 22 paths of the OtzChim and the Hebrew alephbet(sic) are widely accepted though some attributes are stretched a bit, conventionally. Crowley was bamboozled by part of the 1904 (Cairo? sorry, this is all purely from long memory) working when the condensed ego reflection masquerading as his Holy Guardian Angel presented him with a few baffling insights, one of which was the "Tzadi is not the star." This could be interpreted in several different ways. The most obvious one, the backward reading of the whole series was ridiculed by Crowley so vehemently and with such flawed logic that some students may well consider it worth further investigation, particularly as it shows astonishingly obvious correspondences that could not be mere coincidences. Maybe that was the "secret" he was trying to keep from the great unwashed? Maybe I've misinterpreted everything?

It's not my place to answer for anyone. Crowley, however did.

First of al he insisted that the Fool card, attributed Zero, should find its way to the head of the pack before card 1, the Magician/magus/juggler instead of being dropped in at the end of the pack with the Universe as so many commentators have, traditionally. Crowley's assertion is obvious and unquestionably correct, though some authorities, notably Mouni Sadhu, insist otherwise. Anyone with more than a rudimentary knowledge of these matters will easily perceive that Sadhu is quite spiritually aware but also patently lying through his teeth about qabalistic attribution and this is, prima facie, baffling. This may well be the result of some blood oath of secrecy preventing him from revealing the truth, instead writing everything out of order but then one is tempted to ask why bother to publish at all?

Whatever else Crowley might have said or done, he certainly got this one point absolutely correct. 0 comes, or goes, before 1.

Where it gets contentious is over his double twist in the ribboned layout of the 22 cards against the fixed circle of 22 Hebrew letters.
The Hebrew letters relationship with the paths of the OtzChim cannot be questioned, most say, but this relationship is based purely on the Sepher Yetzirah with no earlier provenance and this is quite late in Qabalistic canon and may itself be ciphered. I am not suggesting this one way or the other, only that the possibilities ought to be born in mind when researching the subject.

I could waffle on all night but I'll spare you that for now (this time.) You want to know whether to buy this book?

If you want to do fortune telling, get a Tarot app for your smartphone. Nothing to learn and it'll have all the "meanings" of the cards programmed in, ready to go.

If you are interested in Tarot, have more than one pack and have an interest in Qabalah (not that gormshite touchy-feely celebrity scam that the conical-bra'd one professes to be into) then this should be top of the list, definitely.
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on 7 September 1999
Serious Thelemites and Occultists should certainly add this book to their libraries. Crowley's symbolism and insights are a wonder to behold! This book numbers among his greatest works.
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on 3 April 1998
Absolutely amazing how many tarot methods are available which have nothing to do with the Qabala which the deck IS based upon. The Book of Thoth IS a deck based upon the Qabala. And, for the serious students of the Qabala and the Egyptian Tarot, this IS the one which should be studied before all others.
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