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Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot: An Authoritative Examination of the World's Most Fascinating and Magical Tarot Cards
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Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot: An Authoritative Examination of the World's Most Fascinating and Magical Tarot Cards

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  986 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews

Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot was his final opus, the culmination of a lifetime of occult study and practice. With artist Lady Frieda Harris, he condensed the core of his teaching into the 78 cards of the tarot. Although Crowley's own Book of Thoth provides insight into the cards, it is a complicated, dated book. Now, in clear language, Lon Milo DuQuette provides everythi

Paperback, 330 pages
Published November 1st 2003 by Weiser Books
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Community Reviews

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Jan 28, 2012 Princessjay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Truly a necessary beginner's primer on the Thoth Tarot.

I'd been immolating my brain upon Aleister Crowley's original accompanying text The Book of Thoth, Dion Fortune's Mystical Qabala, and Robert Wang's Qabalistic Tarot -- all of which contain immensely valuable information and will require much re-reading to absorb -- yet this process could have been 10x easier had I just started off with DuQuette. He provides just enough background understanding on astrology, Thelema, and Crowley's personal s
Apr 03, 2014 Rob rated it it was amazing
I owned the Thoth Tarot and The Book of Thoth for almost 20 years. Every time I tried to dive into it, I was enchanted by Lady Frieda Harris' beautiful imagery of the deck and so wanted to use it. However, each time I cracked open the companion Book of Thoth, I was left confused and frustrated. I tried and tried but could make very little sense of the Book of Thoth. I knew the deck was rich in symbolism, but understanding what was going on seemed insurmountable with Crowley's 'short essay' (Ha!) ...more
Sep 01, 2010 Krapp rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: magic, thelema
[EDIT] Rereading this book, I found it helped me more than I thought it had, and helped more the second time. The below review doesn't reflect that. There are many useful facts about the Thoth Tarot herein that everyone ought to know, who uses that deck. I'm very un-Thelemic, personally, and DuQuette's tone gets on my nerves. That's doesn't detract from the usefulness and quality of this book, which I'd underestimated. Now 4 stars, up one from before.

There's nothing particularly wrong with by Lo
Jul 05, 2015 Stella rated it really liked it
If you want something to clarify Crowley's book, this is the one to go with. While Duquette does seem to be promoting a kinder, gentler Beast at times, the book never degenerates into new age blather. Duquette does have the chops and everything is explained in a clear, well-organized manner. This should be read in addition to Crowley, however, not instead of, obviously.
Frank Terry
Nov 09, 2016 Frank Terry rated it it was ok
An okay commentary. I read this to keep calm during pre election week. My heart is now elsewhere. I'm sure not a Platonist. And I don't have time for destiny. I have work to do.


I don't have any complaints. This is a good intro and commentary on Crowley's Thoth deck. Decent scholarship. Well cited.

As problematic as Crowley is, it's always fun engaging with him and those who engage with him for a living.

I basically stopped halfway through. My heart is elsewhere. And this deck is too...not for
Mar 04, 2017 Emma rated it it was amazing
Fascinating book on the Thoth Tarot. The first 10 chapters about the Qabalah were fascinating. It really brought Tarot to life for me. The writing style is thoughtful and enjoyable to read. He is such a wonderful guide to explore this subject with. I wouldn't hesitate to read another of his books. This is the first point of call for those wishing to study this deck, and actually I think it is invaluable for those who want to learn more about the tarot full stop.
Sep 28, 2016 Angela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lives up to the title

This is not a keyword reference, or instant tarot, this is a guide to understanding the Thoth tarot. This book is not a one time read through, to be sure. A bit easier to read, or along side of the Book of Thoth. Expect dives into color, numerology, Kaballah, symbols, and letters between Crowley and Harris.
Feb 06, 2016 Stewart rated it really liked it
Shelves: occult, esoterica
This is a good introduction to the staggeringly complex implications of the Tarot. If you are attempting to tackle Aleister Crowley's The Book of Thoth, this could be a useful companion. But then again, Crowley himself indicates in his own pseudonymous introduction as S.H. Soror, "The accompanying booklet was dashed off by Aleister Crowley, without help from parents. Its perusal may be omitted with advantage." This is a curious statement to make about your own book! But is is encouraging for any ...more
Jul 22, 2013 Kerie rated it liked it
Shelves: esoteric
Well this is interesting and all in a hyper intellectual kind of way. I would have appreciated the symbolism much more when I was younger and was really into brain power kinds of things.

However my impressions now after all the radicalization I've gone through in the past couple of years are more negative than positive. I come away from reading this thinking Crowley was a rather arrogant, cultural appropriator that over thought things to the extreme. And that all the various symbolisms embedded i
Steven Reimel
Apr 18, 2014 Steven Reimel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great Book - Bad Grammar

I loved this book but only gave it four stars because I was so distracted by the numerous spelling and grammatical errors it contains. The same words were consistently misspelled throughout and the wrong word or words that made no sense were inserted where they had no business being. As someone who majored in English in college and respects the proper fuselage of the language, found it very unprofessional on the publisher, editor and proofreaders' parts that they failed t
Jun 24, 2007 Damien rated it liked it
This is a good reference to have, but several things about it bothered me. I suppose I would recommend it to a beginner who finds "The Book of Thoth" way too difficult.
There are a lot of good things in the book worth quoting, but about half of it was devoted to explaining Golden Dawn magic, at the expense of Crowley's interpretation, genius and vision of the Law of Thelema.
That which disappointed me the most was that he could not figure out why the arrangement of the Kerubim in the Hierophan
jesse l mabus
Aug 24, 2012 jesse l mabus rated it it was amazing
Shelves: occulture, art
this is a gem, a wealth of knowledge, a path to understanding the sometimes dense and apocryphal world of the thoth tarot. i reflected on reading this, how my firsts steps on the path to magick began with the tarot. how common this must be, the first difficult, tentative steps many make on this path to self-knowledge and understanding wisdom. this is a text that provides a light on the obfuscating and twisting ways of 'the book of thoth'. even if you have been on the path for a good long while, ...more
Oct 19, 2012 Greyer rated it it was amazing
Of course, if you have been following along with my other Lon Milo DuQuette book reviews, you have figured out that I enjoy his writing style. I love his brain!! I like how he makes complicated, obscure, tedious ramblings of Croweley comprehensible to me, and even practical and wonderful. I gave a couple of Running goes at Croweley's own book on his Thoth deck, and slogged patiently and then skimmed mightily. And then I bought this book. Is it the definitive book? Other reviewers have complained ...more
This book is a must for those who really want to use and understand the Thoth tarot. The author demystify Crowley and gives the necessary background to start to understand the deck. This book is more a beginner book even though the subjects touched are really complex, this is the first book one should read before the others. Afterwards one can dabble in other books like Crowley's writtings, Qabalah, astrology, numerology and other various books on the deck. The only flaw I'd say is that he hides ...more
Sep 23, 2012 A rated it did not like it
Shelves: occult
This may be one of the first books that I absolutely hated that I will hold onto for a little while longer. Mostly I just wanted the card reference but I suffered through the terrible conversational yet obscure rants of DuQuette. Admittedly I am a skeptic. The only chapter I appreciated was his discussion of guardian angels as it seemed to make some sense. The chapters on colors, qabbala, tree of life, etc. are completely incomprehensible.
Odin Nightmair
Jul 27, 2015 Odin Nightmair rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a very pinpoint tarot book

This is a very good companion book to the Thoth deck, my next one will be the book of Thoth before I start using the deck.
If you are just starting out in tarot or metaphysics this book might be too heavy for you, but the information he clarifies helps create a base to those who started with Waite-Smith style decks. He also tries to clarify some of the more confusing golden dawn terms and how the Tree of Life works.
Aug 09, 2012 William rated it it was amazing
Great literature; allows you to form a foundation to build further understanding on the topic. Just as the title leads to say, "Understanding" is a core component to this book. I have read through this writing only two times and would imagine that I would find even more use after further reading again. Just as any book that is on this topic, understanding tends to further progress after reading and the book is closed.
Jun 21, 2013 Charles rated it it was amazing
Hands down, the best and most comprehensive piece of literature in this area. If you're not an Crowley aficionado, and have a steep learning curve, Mr. DuQuette places the Thoth Tarot deck within your grasp.

The pace is equal to a high-school text. All of the pictures and charts put the power behind the punch, giving you all you need to divine the mysteries of the Crowley-Tarot universe.
Paul Hughes-Barlow
Oct 31, 2015 Paul Hughes-Barlow rated it liked it
Lon writes extensively on all the boring bits of Aleister Crowley's Book of Thoth. I presume the idea is that the reader would not bother with Crowley's masterpiece, thinking they had already learnt everything.

Still, if you want to know what they don't want you to know, this book is full of clues.
Apr 03, 2011 Ryan rated it liked it
This book serves more as an introduction to Magik and the philosophy of Aleister Crowley than a good explanation of how to read the Thoth Tarot. If you pick this book up be sure that you already have a good understanding of Tarot reading.
Sep 21, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
So much wonderfulness to chew-on. Very satisfying elucidation of Crowley's poetically coded and loaded ramblings. Duquette brings The Beast down to earth. Make sure you have a copy of Crowley's Thoth book on hand for cross-referencing.
Jul 07, 2012 Brian rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
A good work on the foundational understanding of the tarot and it's relation to qabalah and astrology. I don't buy into any of it, but it is a good read if you are into comparative religion.
Feb 01, 2011 B rated it liked it
Cant decide if this was helpful or misleading... but I suppose im glad I read it.
Chris Feldman
Jul 31, 2009 Chris Feldman rated it it was amazing
Crowley's "Book of Thoth" is a masterful work on Thelema, but not so great as accompaniment to the tarot deck. For that, you want this book.
Feb 10, 2010 Glenda rated it it was amazing
A great primer on Tarot and Qabbalah, while staying fun and easy to read. DuQuette is a great writer!
Corbin Davies
Nov 13, 2013 Corbin Davies rated it really liked it
This is a valuable guide for those new to the Thoth tarot. It is interesting and very pleasant to read; not too dense. I recommend this for use in conjunction with Crowley's writing.
Chelsea Demoiselle
Oct 11, 2014 Chelsea Demoiselle rated it really liked it
A must-have with the Thoth Deck.
Sep 19, 2016 Stephen rated it it was amazing
my go to explicator of this deck
Matthew Ryan
Aug 10, 2008 Matthew Ryan rated it it was amazing
An indispensable guide to the most beautiful and accurate tarot deck yet created.
Peter Morris
Jul 25, 2016 Peter Morris rated it it was amazing
Excellent guide to the Thoth deck with great respect to Crowley and his Thelemic philosophy.
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Lon Milo DuQuette is an American singer-song writer, author, lecturer, and occultist, best known as an author who applies humor in the field of Western Hermeticism.

Born in Long Beach, California and raised in Columbus, Nebraska, he was an aspiring studio musician and recording artist in the 1970s, releasing two singles and an album, Charley D. and Milo, on the Epic Records label.

He married to his
More about Lon Milo DuQuette...

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“Ultimately, there are not fifty-six cards in the Minor Arcana of the tarot. There are only four—the four aces. The other fifty-two cards (the sixteen court cards and the thirty-six small cards), live inside the four aces. As we learned in chapter 8, if we look at the ace of any suit under a magic microscope, we first see the four court cards of that suit living comfortably inside. Let's not stop there. If we increase the magnification level of our microscope, we see that the nine small cards of the suit are nestled neatly inside in three rows of three cards. Isn't that tidy?” 1 likes
“Lady Harris's Fool is a cornucopia of sacred images, many of which reveal themselves only after long meditation (and the aid of a magnifying glass). He bursts into midair of existence from behind three swirling rings that issue from and return to his heart. These are the three veils of negativity (Ain, Ain Soph, and Ain Soph Aur)23 that Qabalists teach gave birth to the singularity of creation. His satchel is filled with the entire universe in the form of planetary and zodiacal coins. The Fool is the Holy Spirit itself. The dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit; the butterfly, symbol of transformation; winged globe, symbol of Mercurial air; and the Egyptian vulture-goddess Mauf24 pour from the Holy Grail in the Fool's right hand. Like the Virgin Mary, Maut became impregnated by the spirit (breath) of the wind. “The whole picture,” Crowley tells us, “is a glyph of the creative light.” 1 likes
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