This is a book that was
very simply meant to be; a book for which the time has come. It is a way
to understand Crowley’s Thoth Tarot, for those who sincerely want to do
so, without spending year upon year of study on the numerous related and
pertinent subjects. You may not ever fully understand Crowley, but then,
few do so, in spite of what the most vociferous claim… I applaud Lon Milo
Duquette for daring to do something for which some misguided Crowley
purists will damn him. (Psst: no problem: Mr. DuQuette has long since
ceased to believe he is damnable!)
For the record I will
affirm that the definitive book for understanding the Book of Thoth
is the Book of Thoth itself. But the second best tome is an easy
call now: Grab Mr. Duquette’s Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth
Tarot. Though not meant to be a secret key openly interpretive to its
predecessor, the best things about this book can be summed up as follows:
DuQuette “adds” nothing to the
BOT… he merely seeks to make it more understandable and accessible by
those who wish to study it.
DuQuette seldom attempts to tell
you what Crowley said, he just helps to elucidate the background for what
was said in order to help you to fill in the blanks for yourself.
DuQuette still insists that you
think, he just makes the process easier.
Lon Milo Duquette says
that he wishes a book like this had been available to him in his early
studies. I ditto that wish, and think that this book will help many who
are sincere in their desire to learn and have a limited amount of time to
The first part of the
book is a virtual goldmine of the “Little Things You Should Know Before
beginning to Study Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot”. I heartily recommend
it. Leaving Chapter Titles out for the sake of brevity and using the
references of the publisher, Red Wheel/Weiser, here is what you have to
look forward to before you even get to the good stuff about each card:
Chapter One - The
Qabalah, astrology and magick, and how each plays a role in understanding
the Thoth Tarot.
Chapter Two –
Background about Crowley and his involvement in the Golden Dawn.
Chapter Three –
Background about Lady Frieda Harris, who painted the Thoth tarot.
Chapter Four -
Background about the required dimensions and geometry of the cards.
Chapter Five -
Background about the channeling of psychic events
Chapter Six -
Background about the naming of the Thoth Tarot cards.
Chapter Seven -
Background about Crowley himself… helpful in deciphering the meaning of
the Thoth Tarot cards.
Chapter Eight -
Background about the ornamentation and meaning behind the detail work of a
symbol relative to the Golden Dawn badge of distinction.
Chapter Nine -
Background about the Qabalistic figure outlining the universal mechanics
of energy and consciousness.
Chapter Ten -
Background about the reasons for the color spectrums selected and utilized
in the Thoth Tarot deck.
Chapter Eleven -
Background about the projected image of the personal self, which is the
voice of our conscience.
Keeping in mind Mr.
Duquette’s intentions not to add, but rather to elucidate, here are some
of my favorite oh-so-DuQuette quotes:
Speaking of the Cubic
Stone and its enfoldment into the Rosy Cross…“In order for this sealed
cube to initiate creation, it must sacrifice itself upon a cross by
bursting open like a kernel of cosmic popcorn.” p 42
In commentary about the
invisible Tree of Life supposedly visible only to those pure of heart:
“Well I guess I’m
busted! Emperor Lon has no clothes! As if I really need the Master
Therion to tell me I’m not wholly pure of heart.” p. 158
In describing the formula
conveyed by the 7 (Netzach) of Cups (Briah + Venus in Scorpio = Debauch:
“The Seven of Cups is a
stumbling dash to the lavatory just moments after you thought you were
being irresistible to the attractive stranger.” p. 234
Get my drift? Mr.
DuQuette pokes fun at himself even while seriously aiding in the study of
the master trickster himself. With a sense of fun he leads you deeply into
Along the way, he even
amplifies some Crowleyisms that have been for the most part over-looked:
“Defense, to be effective, must be mobile.” (In speaking of the 9 of
Wands)… But how powerful when it comes to life as well as to the cards!
I could go on and on,
probably would, were I not restricted by my own word count for this issue.
In summation, I can only
say: Buy this book! Whether you approach it (hopefully) to learn and grow,
or whether (regretfully) you think you know it all… there is much to be
For another review of this
book and another interview with Lon Milo DuQuette, please see Tarot