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27 August 2006 @ 05:33 pm
How I came to the Thoth  
...which is a completely different question from why others might want to, which is what I was trying to answer before.

My first Tarot deck was the Rohrig Tarot. It's an odd deck that I probably wouldn't have any desire to pick up now, but I have a sentimental attachment to it. Its Minor Arcana follow the Thoth tradition, although the Majors are RWS-like*. I think it was probably this circumstance that caused me to become as obsessed with the Tarot as I am today: it piqued my interest to try to figure out (for example) why my 6 of Swords said "Science" while all of the websites I could find talked about people in a boat. I think if I'd started with the RWS or one of its clones, I would have lost interest fairly quickly.

As it was, I bought a RWS deck relatively soon, to try to work with something closer to what others were talking about. I remember opening the deck--I even remember the parking lot I was sitting in at the time--and thinking "Is this what all the fuss is about?" The artwork seemed cartoony to me, and the colors seemed weird. I couldn't get over the yellow skies. It was a huge disappointment. (I've since more or less made my peace with this deck, but it's still far from being a favorite.)

Anyway, I was reading Tarot books and websites and figured out that the Minor Arcana in my deck were following the Thoth tradition. I became interested in tracing the ideas in my Rohrig deck back to their source. It was the scans of the deck that I saw online that did me in--they were beautiful. Here was a historically relevant deck that wouldn't be disappointing! I believe it was that very day that I asked my RWS "What would happen if I bought the Thoth deck today?" The card was the 3 of Wands, and from the process of thinking about it, I came up with a plan: once I had accomplished a Tarot-related goal, I would buy it. (That's been how I've bought most of my decks since then, and it's why I'm doing this. It keeps me from collecting too many.)

Time passed, I reached my goal, and I bought the deck (the small U.S. Games purple-box edition). I remember my first reaction to that one too (although this time it was in my living room, not a parking lot). This time, I thought "I wonder if I bit off more than I can chew?" I was impressed and overwhelmed with the depth and density of the symbolism. I think it wasn't more than a week before I went back to the store and bought the Book of Thoth to go with it. At the time, it didn't help much. I didn't have the time or energy to give it the study it deserved, and I knew next to nothing about Kabbalah or astrology, which made it rather impenetrable. I used the deck mainly for comparative readings, but was too intimidated to do very much with it on its own. That's more or less continued until now, with one major exception.

The exception was one Christmas, when I only had room to pack one deck and no books to take to my parents' house. I picked the Thoth, figuring I could get more intuitive experience with it by doing daily readings there. At some point, in conversation with my sister, the topic of the Tarot came up, and I offered to give her a reading. That was by far the most amazing reading I've ever done. My sister and I have a similar type of visual imagination, and she immediately got the knack of reading, looking at the pictures for meaning. I don't know if I'll ever replicate that reading experience--it was an amazing connection between the two of us. The next day, I took her to buy her own deck. I encouraged her to buy a RWS clone, for ease of learning. I think now that was probably a mistake, because she had such a connection with the Thoth. She could have found her way, just as I did. I figure I owe her one. I'll probably give her a Thoth deck someday--she deserves it.

And that's pretty much where things stood until a couple of weeks ago, when I started to read about trimming the borders off the Thoth. Scans posted online by people who've done it demonstrated to me that it really made the art stand out. So, with the help of the Knight of Disks, conceived the idea of proving to myself that the Thoth means enough to me to buy a second copy--a large one this time. And here I am, ready to make a real effort to decode the Book of Thoth and really connect with this deck.

*I've never seen this fact brought up by Tarot reviewers, who presumably are too used to the RWS to recognize that it's not universal. The Rohrig has a card 8 named Strength and a card 11 named Justice. Card 20 is Judgment and depicts an angel with a trumpet. And the Hebrew letter attributions on the cards link the Star with Tzaddi.