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An issue came up on one of the forums about which is the best book from which to learn about the Crowley-Harris Thoth deck. This, despite the fact that, for most beginners in esoteric studies, it seems impenetrable. It was not specifically a rejection of Crowley, though it is easy to take it as such. Instead, Arrien recognized most of the symbols from her study of anthropology and mythology. In essence, Arrien asked: What do these symbols tell us if we strip away the esotericism and look at them purely as symbols and archetypes from the collective unconscious reflecting myths and images that have appeared across many cultures?
I see this simply as an alternate reading of the deck—not as a demand that we discount Crowley—but, rather, asking what can be seen if we do ignore Crowley? Is there anything else to this deck? Can they transcend any and all dogma? Would this deck still offer something capable of informing our thoughts and actions? It turns out that this is a valid question, for at least one person involved in the online discussion and perhaps many others felt that the Thoth deck is based on a specific language of symbols, defined by Crowley, such that, without his text the symbolism and the deck become meaningless.
To remove Crowley, then, is to kill the Thoth deck—to make it worthless. In fact, as explained to me, symbols contain no meaning outside of the stated definitions of an individual.
Strip symbols of definition and they either convey no information or they mean anything one likes. Furthermore, symbolism is a sacred, living language that reflects divinity through like vibrations.
Thorns that pierce are the protective weapons and barriers to the alluring rose whose scent also draws the bees. Even an esoteric interpretation takes such elements into account. Many spiritual teachers do not fear the subjective, for they see each person as partaking of the Divine.
This does not detract from its value, however, for symbolism is one of the most useful instruments of instruction in the spiritual arts, because it continually draws from the subjective resources of the seeker the substance of his own erudition. But, if we stop there, we have not done our own work. The Egyptologist, R. On the other hand, the use of images as signs for the expression of thought [hieroglyphics] leaves the meaning of this writing, five or six thousand years old, as clear and accessible as it was the day it was carved in the stone.
By definition, the symbol is magic, it evokes the form bound in the spell of matter. To evoke is not to imagine. It is to live, live the form. Most of all I appeal to Oswald Wirth who created the first truly esoteric Tarot deck ; revised in that is a significant influence behind all that have followed. Ouspensky , wrote that symbols are meant to awaken us to our own freedom:. As a matter of fact, symbols are precisely intended to awaken ideas sleeping in our consciousness.
They arouse a thought by means of suggestion and thus cause the truth which lies hidden in the depths of our spirit to reveal itself. They especially elude minds which. The practical utility of these formulae cannot be contested, but from the philosophical point of view they represent only frozen thought, artifically limited, made immovable to such an extent, that it seems dead in comparison with the living thought, indefinite, complex and mobile, which is reflected in symbols.
By their very nature the symbols must remain elastic, vague and ambiguous, like the sayings of an oracle. Their role is to unveil mysteries, leaving the mind all its freedom. Leaving the mind all its freedom. This supposedly-fearful juxtaposition, however, led me to a much deeper appreciation of Crowley, while Angie encouraged independence and freedom in how I work with the deck and its symbols not a good thing to those who see Crowley as the absolute and only fundament.
Its perusal may be omitted with advantage. Know Naught! All ways are lawful to innocence. Pure folly is the key to initiation. Greer All material on this site is copyrighted. If you use anything, be sure to include my name and a link back to this site. Thank you. Comments feed for this article. May 7, at am. Thank you so much for this discussion not only of The Thoth deck symbolism, but symbolism as a whole.
A sign does not resonate, it just stands there, static. My sense is that they have such deep roots they cannot help but speak of many things to many different people. Yet the vessel a symbol is maintains a particular shape. And the associative, resonant experiences of The Thoth deck symbols such as the ones I tend to receive in Tarot readings, though I also find the esoteric ones popping up, too come via the roots of the symbols.
I think that individuals can use images and decks in which ever way has meaning. For instance, I know an excellent reader who has used the Haindl for years without ever having read one book on Tarot. I do know people who use the Marseille as spurs to intuition with no references to underlying systems. I tend to agree with you about symbols.
I think that people do have the capacity to discern the meaning of symbols for themselves and that developing a language of symbols and meaning is a life-long journey.
The Oswald Wirth quotation is deeply insightful about how human beings can cultivate their Self -reliant responses to symbols and find Freedom. Synthesis freely unfolding might be the healthy Way — not Arrien or Crowley but Arrien and Crowley and Banzhoff and you and me and Thoth. Alchemy, not over-concentration. Thank you all for your comments. Symbols are so rich — how can they not be explored from as many different perspectives as possible? We are lucky to live at a time when so many resources are available to allow us to form a healthy synthesis.
Plus, certain of her phrases stick with me and are so right-on in readings. May 8, at pm. I agree with you. And I feel sad when I look at the extremes in this ever-occuring debate about the Thoth. While some are afraid of Crowley, and want to avoid even the mention ing of his name, others are afraid of all attempts to interpret Crowley, and the Thoth, a bit differently than normally is done…. May 14, at am. Since I was a bit familiar with Crowley — and I liked his images — I went with that deck.
Her book was a great introduction to the deck and it helped me begin to understand this complex, multi-layered deck. It was a great eye-opener that made me more curious about the deck. With time, I came to regard it as a bit too superficial and fluffy to continue to use it… but a great stepping stone nonetheless.
So my final verdict — both Arrien and Crowley have their good points. If I laid my hands on the Book of Thoth first, I would have given up altogether. It is unfortunately only available in Serbian. BMS — Thank you for your comment. The classic example is that Arrien says the pelican on the Empress card as a swan and so misses out on its true mythological significance. Reading both books simultaneously can help clear up such issues.
September 26, at am. The last info I heard was that this book was going to be translated in English. It would be really usuful for many Tarot lovers, specially her deep analysis of colours in Thoth deck, meditation work on Arcanas and complete 12 month system of individual work with Tarot. Please see if you can find out who the English publisher is.
October 1, at am. October 1, at pm. October 11, at pm. Angles Arrien was one of the presenters and co-ordinators at the first Tarot Conference I ever attended at the Unitarian Church in San Francisco, I think in either , 84, or 85…….. Anyway, I have wondered whatever happened to her, as I never hear her name anymore and she was not at the last conference I attended in San Francisco 3 years back.
Could someone out there let me know the current whereabouts and circumstances of Angeles Arrien? She still works out of Sausalito. I saw her last year and she was doing great. November 24, at am. Thomas Schwarze. On the question if we can safely separate the Crowlean references and explanations of symbolism from the Thoth deck:. When in doubt as to the explanation of some abstruse point, reference would be made to the sacred glyph, and meditation thereon would unfold what generations of meditation had ensouled therein.
Even though Mrs. Fortune speaks about the Qabalah, I think the same holds true if we apply these thoughts to the Thoth deck: after all, the symbolism of the Thoth deck is based on the Tree of Life of Qabalah as taught in the Golden Dawn. It will also survive even if we kill the Thoth deck; and still be able to convey the deep mysteries lieing concealed in the 78 visual representations of cosmic Forces.
April 5, at pm. There are many paths. April 20, at am. I agree with your lastest comment about learning torot. May I use it in my article on my blog?
The Tarot Handbook Angeles Arrien Pdf
An issue came up on one of the forums about which is the best book from which to learn about the Crowley-Harris Thoth deck. This, despite the fact that, for most beginners in esoteric studies, it seems impenetrable. It was not specifically a rejection of Crowley, though it is easy to take it as such. Instead, Arrien recognized most of the symbols from her study of anthropology and mythology. In essence, Arrien asked: What do these symbols tell us if we strip away the esotericism and look at them purely as symbols and archetypes from the collective unconscious reflecting myths and images that have appeared across many cultures? I see this simply as an alternate reading of the deck—not as a demand that we discount Crowley—but, rather, asking what can be seen if we do ignore Crowley?
The Tarot Handbook
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