Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot (illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris) is one of the two most popular Tarot decks in modern times. It is also one of the hardest decks to get a handle on ... largely thanks to the difficult nature of Crowley's own writing's. Wonderful interpretations have been done on this deck by other people, including Akron and Hajo Banzhaf's "The Crowley Tarot", Lon Milo DuQuette's "Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot", and Robert Wang's "The Qabalistic Tarot". Each of these books, in their own way, adds to the understanding of the "Thoth Tarot".
In his introduction, Snuffin notes that the background (foundation) of the "Thoth Tarot" was taken from the teachings of the Golden Dawn (of which Crowley was a member) and Crowley's own magical system of Thelema. The accompanying "Book of Thoth" was the last major work of Crowley's rather prolific writing career. The problem, as most students of the Tarot are aware, lies int he fact that Crowley's writing is sometimes incomplete, and very often confusing.
The stated purpose of the "Thoth Companion" is to explore the symbolism of the Thoth Tarot, and to provide a comprehensive analysis of the deck. Snuffin signs the introduction as "Frater Osiris", indicating that he is a member of the OTO, which was confirmed in the material received from the publicist along with this book (which is an uncorrected proof). Snuffin also founded the "Temple of Light and Darkness", which is a group dedicated to performing Golden Dawn initiations in accordance with the Law of Thelema. He is also, as one might guess, a ceremonial magician.
Snuffin gifts the reader with tid bits of information that may not be readily available, such as the chart of associations correlating Golden Dawn Grades, Sephira, and Trumps, and the listing of Crowley's writings, with a small blurb explaining the substance of each.
Prefacing the section on the Major Arcana is a chart correlating each Trump with its associated Hebrew Letter (graphic), Numerical Value, Hebrew Letter (name), the meaning of the letter, the Elemental or Astrological attribution, and the Path Number. There is also a graphic of the Tree of Life itself, and the placing of each of the cards in the Major and Minor Arcana. Charts of color scales are given for the Sephiroth in each of the Four Worlds (Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiah), and the Major Arcana in each of the four Court Card scales (King, Queen, Prince, and Princess), along with the color scale for the five elements (Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Spirit).
Each Trump is presented with a black and white scan (from the Thoth Tarot), listings for the Hebrew Letter, the Meaning, the Elemental or Astrological Attribution, the Path, and the Sephiroth connected by the path. There is a full discussion of each of the symbols in the card, and how the card would be interpreted in both upright and reversed positions.
Each Court Card is presented with a black and white scan (from the Thoth Tarot), listings for the Elemental attribution, the Zodiacal Attribution, the Crest, Symbols within the card, and Key Concepts. There is a description of the card given, as well as a listing of the personality traits. Included at the end of each suit is a listing of associations for each of the four Court Cards within the suit and associations for their element.
Each Pip (numbered card) is presented with a black and white scan (from the Thoth Tarot), the Title, Qabalistic Attribution, Astrological Attribution (for the Two's through Ten's), and (for the Aces), the Tetragrammaton Attribution. There is a description of the card, along with upright and reversed interpretations.
At the end of the book Snuffin has a section on reading the cards, with templates for a Three Card Spread, and a Fifteen Card Spread (set up in a spiral, in groups of three cards each). Exercises are presented for Card of the Day, Describe Your Day, Book of Interpretations, Mock Tarot Readings, The Search For Meaning, Meditating, and incorporating Intuition, with an added mini-section on Pathworking.
There are Appendices for Symbol Sets and Correspondences: Alchemical Elements, Tetragrammaton and Four Elements, Five Elements, Chakras, Grades of the Golden Dawn, Planets, Zodiacal Signs, Trumps and Hebrew Letters, Attributions of the Court Cards, Attributions of the Suit Cards, and the Four Color Scales.
There is also a glossary (necessary for this type of work), a bibliography, and an index (which was not yet incorporated into the uncorrected proof that I have).
This book is written in very simple language, and presents the concepts for the "Thoth Tarot" is a very simple, usable format. I am a little surprised that an Adept would write at this level, but I do think that this material is well groudned for someone who knows absolutely nothing about the "Thoth Tarot", or working with magical correspondences. This book is a starting point, and will be appreciated if that is what the reader is looking for. If you are an intermediate to advanced student wishing to work with the "Thoth Tarot", I would look to one of the other books on the market.
© August 2007
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.