How it came to be…
According to ancient tradition, The Book of Thoth was the legendary repository of the Egyptian mysteries;as such it is forever connected with occult knowledge, mystery schools and the esoteric secrets and magicalsystems that these schools taught. The Book of Thoth has long been associated with the tarot, which is saidby many to be the embodiment of its teachings.Crowley was undoubtedly one of the finest occult minds of our time and soon realized that despite thehistorical interest in the tarot that occultists harbored, there was a distinct lack of authentic texts that exploredthe cards, let alone develop them. He resolved to rectify that omission by creating one definitive text that wouldmake the Tarot accessible to everyone who had the desire to learn. Guided by the intelligences that haddirected him throughout his life, Crowley penned a legend, an extensive treatise on the tarot, which he namedThe Book of Thoth, after the tradition of wisdom itself.
Crowley‟s Book of Thoth incorporates the wisdom, philosophy, science and magick of Egypt, melding
eastern and western mystery traditions to create the most complete method of studying the tarot and finding self-knowledge that there is in existence. Occultists such as A.E. Waite have written their own studies of the
tarot, but none of the succeeded in imparting the occult wisdom of Crowley‟s classic text. It has to be said that
the Book of Thoth is not usually recommended for newcomers to the tarot and to the occult. It unitesCabbalistic tradition, Tarot, philosophy, science and magick to create a complete yet multi-faceted traditioncreating a tool that can be used to explore the magickal and mystical elements of both microcosm andmacrocosm.
The Art of the Tarot
Crowley commissioned the surrealist artist, Lady Frieda Harris to undertake the artwork for the tarot deckthat was to accompany the treatise. The Thoth deck itself was a labour of love, an undertaking that took over five years of painstaking work, with many of the 78 cards being redesigned up to eight times before Crowleywas satisfied with the design. Lady Harris became both a student and in many ways a teacher to Crowley. Inorder to creat
e a visual representation of Crowley‟s knowledge, she first had to understand it herself. This
meant she also had to coerce him to crystallise fifty years of accumulated knowledge and enter into her ownexhaustive study of his teaching. From the first moment of its creation, the Thoth deck was and remains the
deck that must be absorbed and „lived‟. It cannot be understood from the outside; those using the deck must
always look within.