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The Book of Thoth

(The Equinox #3.05)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  2,144 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Now a classic in the field, used by students of the Golden Dawn as well as by those who want to understand Crowley's tarot. This is the definitive study of the Egyptian tarot and is used as a key to all Western mystery disciplines. Color plates of eight cards.
Paperback, 287 pages
Published June 1st 1981 by Samuel Weiser, Inc. (first published March 21st 1944)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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Bryan Elkins
Jan 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
The Book of Thoth is as much a manual for using the deck as it is a primary initiation into Hermetic philosophy and mindfulness. This is an encyclopedic volume. The deck itself, besides working as the elemental and zodiacal symbol association system of popular tradition, functions simultaneously as a Qabalistic Tree of Life and Taoist I Ching. The creation and perfection of this deck was a grand scholarly undertaking by Crowley, and while I am sure that he could have expanded this volume tenfold ...more
John Farebrother
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating book, exquisitely presented and illustrated, and beautifully written in the drawing room English of a bygone age. It presents the true tarot, which originated in Ancient Egypt, and survived in Greek and Hindu mythology. But ultimately it is just so much mumbo-jumbo, a quest for meaning in a bottomless pit of privileged hedonism. Some say it contains secret and ancient mysteries, others that it is an evil book inspired by Satan; I think it is just the vain ramblings of a sad old man ...more
Jan 20, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
This book is so densely esoteric that I was completely unable to comprehend what I was reading. It is clear that Crowley is deeply versed in many of the primary teachings of his time but he does not present his knowledge in a manner that makes it even remotely accessible. I was disappointed because the Thoth Tarot Deck is my preferred personal deck. I had hoped to learn more about the images without having to read every detail about the sephiroth, Frazer's perspective on mythology and religion, ...more
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Aleister Crowley's and Frieda Harris's (the actual artist behind the paintings) Thoth Deck is the only Tarot deck that might be called intoxicatingly beautiful. To my eye, it is the only Tarot that isn't ugly, though maybe none or few will agree with me there. I think it so outshines all others there's little point in purchasing or using any other. The cards are very large: that's because they are as crowded with imagery as any Victorian parlor ever was with bric-a-brac. The bric-a-brac of the T ...more
Dec 20, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So the book of Thoth is the companion book to Crowley's Tarot deck, a prognosticator of a rather intense nature, I'm told. From What I garnered from Crowley's writing style, he tends to be very cryptic. Like most mystics, he shrouds his intent behind allegories and clues and outright denial. This is to inspire the reader to actually "sweat it out" a little bit as well as provide a sort of qualifications test.

There is some really cool shit though in this novel. Crowley exposes the framework for
Jul 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: occult
One day when I was in The Hobbit Habit, my late and greatly lamented independent bookshop, a deck of Crowley Tarot cards threw themselves off a shelf at me. I decided that any printed material that was that desirous of a place on my bookshelf should have a chance, so I bought the cards and a copy of this book. I enjoyed the references to the I Ching, and spent quite a bit of time with both the I Ching and the Tarot, trying to see how they fit together. I feel I derived a greater understanding of ...more
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely vital (along with The Book of The Law and 777) for using the Thoth Tarot. The Beast can be a bit cryptic at times, but his books are well worth the effort. He gives you a lot of information that Waite holds back. (Waite seems to have scrambled his Tarot a bit for the unwashed masses, too - are his Kings really Princes? There's things on a couple of them that hint at that. RWS is still a great classic deck, but if you want to learn occult Tarot, go with Crowley.)
Joey Baker
Oct 14, 2009 rated it liked it
There is nothing short about this essay. Interesting ideas, some very crazy ideas as well. If you are intested in the connection between tarot, Jewish mysticism and the occult then its an informative read, although not an easy read.
Parker East
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An essential companion to the Thoth tarot deck, it is the most complete, lucid, helpful manual to the tarot that I have found. However, I myself am starting to lean toward the I Ching for 'divination' purposes.
Sal Coraccio
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tarot
The definitive, scholarly, tome for understanding any Tarot deck, particularly the relationship between Tarot and Kabbalah and most precisely the Crowley-Thoth deck.

Within that framework it provides insights and connection between the Tarot of the Egyptians; the Tree of Life, the Sephirot, the I-Ching, Astrology, Elements and Indian philosophies (the last as helping to explain some basic concepts around nothingness).

While the history of the Tarot is left open, not so much as to debate as to bei
Patrick Mooney
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Patrick by: The Universe
Praise be to Aliester Crowley and Lady Freida Harris! From their generous talents is one of the most wonderful works of human creativity and divine imagination ever assembled. It is a book that is worthy to invoke the name of the great God, Thoth-Tahuti, for it is a storehouse of vitally preserved ancient information capable of leading you to your own divinity!
There are many who paint Crowley as a dark character, and he himself was quite happy being painted that way! This does not mean these ch
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
One of the definitive volumes about the tarot and classic Crowley. He delves into the history of the cards and their relation to Kabbalah (the Hebrew mystic code, not the fad 'sleb' thing of wearing bracelets) and the Tree Of Life. Each card gets it's own description and meaning, with the Major Arcana getting lengthy write-ups. There's also some essays which help the reader understand the secrets of the cards further. Colour plates of some of the Crowley deck (beautifully painted by Freda Harris ...more
Freyja Quinn
Nov 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reference, tarot
This book is essential to understanding the basics of the Thoth Tarot. The LWB that comes with the deck is incredibly obtuse and short when compared to the amount of sheer data that each card includes. It’s a obtuse book as well… part of the reason is that it’s old and uses terms to describe things that we use other terms for nowadays.

Absolute Promethea by Alan Moore

Another terrific companion to the Thoth Tarot (believe it!) Alan Moore’s graphic novel Absolute Promethea. A huge chunk of the story involves a deep explorati
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Crowley, the Tarot, and the occult in general have a really - and I mean, really - distorted image in popular culture. Consulting Crowley's work on the Tarot and Meditation/Yoga, as well has is reference texts has been tremendously helpful. He has helped to develop a serious - but not dogmatic - approach to the varying schools. He is a master of grasping their interrelations and connections - and understanding these connections is imperative. If you try some Crowley's exercises and follow some o ...more
Jan 13, 2008 rated it it was ok
I read this book in my twenties when I was experimenting with dark magic. Dark magic is stupid, tarot cards are ridiculous, and all of this stuff is claptrap. Reading Crowley is more evidence of why white people shouldn't make up religions. Could anything be more soulless than a rich Brit making up stories about Egyptian symbology? Give me Richard Burton any day over Crowley. At least he kept his mysticism to himself.
Woman Inside Water
Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: occult
Indispensable. Anyone who studies the Thoth Tarot, or perhaps any tarot, should read this. It really brings out the mythos surrounding each card into full bloom, making a living form of divination that allows and encourages further personal introspection and commentary. The connection with astrology, which is my favorite divination and study, helped me understand and associate the symbols along with planets, colors and numbers.
Aug 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: tarot card readers, astrology, Torah, Astronomy
sooooo much goes into this book. I honestly can't remeber enough details to even give a proper reading with my Crowley cards. VERY interesting and links alllll kinds of mystical and scientific stuff!

this book is cool. i like to read tarot cards, but I don't believe in allllll kinds of mystic stuff. i like it like i like poker. Coincidences are neat...
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: occult
Very difficult to read, as is most of Crowley's writing (unless maybe you're a Thelemite), but it's useful as a reference for the Tarot.
Χρήστος Δούκας
Along with the official tarot cards.
Vinnie Messina
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The wildest and most interesting book on tarot.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Frankly, this was too much book for me. I'm merely an amateur tarot enthusiast, by no means a acolyte of "divination". So Crowley's masterwork thesis here, that tarot, Qabbalah, astrology, numerology, I Ching, and the Egyptian pantheon are all connected and mutually reflective isn't what I would call "useful" to someone who wants to read the cards.

That said, even with my rudimentary experience, I can definitely get the sense from this book that Crowley really really knew what he was talking abou
Gayle West
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The only Tarot book worth reading, in my none too humble opinion. Gone is all sentiment. You'll find none of the easy to consume prophesies of Rider-Waite. Crowley has covered every esoteric there is to cover in the Book of Thoth. Divination with this book requires study and understanding. It's brilliant.
Jasper Baltazar
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I do not support a lot of Crowley's beliefs and I don't think he was a very admirable person; he was a settler and his work stems from the appropriation of indigenous cultures, but this book is pretty fascinating nonetheless.
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Literally the only way to figure out the deck.
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Greatest mystic master of all time !
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Crowley's greatest contribution to occulture and a masterpiece of poetics.
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
exceptional book on tarot. the best i've ever read
Mathew Kane
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More of a reference guide than a book to read from cover to cover.
Drew Cartee
Aug 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Did not enjoy.
Jessica Turner
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Also a reference book for Tarot readers.
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Aleister Crowley, born Edward Alexander Crowley, was a British occultist, writer, mountaineer, philosopher, poet, and mystic. He was an influential member in several occult organizations, including the Golden Dawn, the A∴A∴, and Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), and is best known today for his occult writings, especially The Book of the Law , the central sacred text of Thelema. He gained much noto ...more

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