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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

One Deck Wonder: Ace of Wands

Thoth Tarot, Crowley and Harris

'In a very real way, this image is telling us that...all the cards in the Minor Arcana ultimately live inside one card, the Ace of Wands. Of course, it takes a Buddha to actually grasp that concept. It also leaves us with a pretty thin deck of tarot cards to play with.' ~Lon Milo DuQuette, Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot

I understand traditional divinatory meanings of the Ace of Wands. I understand that it is the source, or the great potential, of the energy of the Wands suit, suit of fire. But it turns out that this Ace of Wands has its flames in the shape of the Tree of Life, and the Tree of Life is something that I don't understand.

You'll notice I left something out of the DuQuette quotation above. Here's the whole thing:

'In a very real way, this image is telling us that, just as all the sephiroth of all four Trees of Life are only aspects of the one supreme Kether, just as all four Qbalistic worlds are really only aspects of the highest world, just as the He and the Vau and the fine He of YHVH are really only aspects of the Yod, all the cards in the Minor Arcana ultimately live inside one card, Ace of Wands. Of course, it takes a Buddah to actually grasp that concept. It also leaves us with a pretty thin deck of tarot cards to play with. It's probably better for us to go along with the Qabalistic drill and view this card as representing Kether, of the Tree of life that represents the highest of the Qabalistic worlds, Atziluth. That's a heavy enough concept as it is.'

You what???

I read every chapter at the beginning of this book. I read the chapter on Tree of Life twice. I didn't understand a blooming word of it either time. I still do not understand it. I don't even know yet what a sephiroth is. Let's just google it:

The Sephirothic Tree consists of ten globes of luminous splendor arranged in three vertical columns and connected by 22 channels or paths. The ten globes are called the Sephiroth and to them are assigned the numbers 1 to 10.

Sure, okay then. A Sephiroth is the circle thingies on the Tree of Life. Well, at least I now know that much. Here's the darn thing:

Those little lines marked 'Atu' are for Major Arcana. A major card is an 'Atu', and they're called 'Atus of Tahuti', which absolutely cracks me up. I've started calling them 'R2s of Patootie' in my head.

I got a long way to go, people.


  1. Of course, it takes a Buddha to actually grasp that concept. It also leaves us with a pretty thin deck of tarot cards to play with.

    ...and by then I'd have thrown the book across the room, together with the Thoth and all its deeper-than-thou smug pomposity.


    Forgive me. I'm just a bit peeved by these intimations of hermeticism that some authors wants us to believe to be inherent to the tarot.

    I really wish you good luck studying the Thoth. I think it's a beautiful deck, but I failed whenever I tried to dedicate myself to it, for the reason stated above. And the Thoth fanclub is so full of it.

    I shall enjoy the Thoth vicariously through your posts - hope you don't mind! :p

    1. Well, I think Aleister Crowley was a pompous twat and most of his stuff just makes me laugh. So I'm taking it all with a big grain of salt. Now back to the R2 Patooties. ha ha

    2. "Pompous twat" - oh my God, you just wrote Crowley's biography! :p
      I'm expecting death threats from Crowley fanatics now, lol!

      R2 Patooties - bwahahahahahahahahah!

    3. Also, I do not for one second, myself, believe that hermeticism is inherent to the tarot. I personally believe it was all tacked on to the tarot. But I've always been curious, even while rejecting it. So I thought I'd take a look.

      I like the deck enough by now to keep using it, even if I don't use any of the hermeticism in my readings. And I don't think anyone actually does, really. Well, few people anyway.

  2. Blimey, that is a puzzle. I didn't understand a word, but you are an intelligent woman so I'm sure you'll figure it out xx :-)

  3. The Chicken Quabbalah book is a great way to get deeper into the Tree of Life without wanting to poke your own eyes out with toothpicks. And I also really like how Rachel Pollack approaches the whole thing - she has a book with that title.

    As you say, though, this is all added on. If it's helpful, great. Otherwise, don't let the pompous twats make you think you don't get it just because you don't find their paradigm useful ;)

    1. The Chicken Qabalah arrived today!! I enjoyed the introduction during my lunch at work.

    2. What is the title of Pollack's book? 'Getting Deeper into the Tree of Life without Wanting to Poke Your Eyes Out with Toothpicks'??? That is great title!!!

    3. ROFL! No, it's The Kabbalah Tree: A Journey of Balance and Growth :D

  4. yeah, i think er...that may be the reason i have not had so much enthusiasm for diving into that book. I feel like I SHOULD cos even if I can do without the info...better to know and not use than live in ignorance but uh...kabbalah stuff tends to be mumbo jumbo to me too :0

    1. You know what, Bonkers? I sort of think the whole thing is a lot of mumbo jumbo. Hermeticism, I mean. But I am ready to read about it now, without thinking the entire time, 'Oh this is such a bunch of horse crap.' I'm going for a more, 'Well, let's see what they think all this stuff means' sort of vibe. I think I've heard of it called 'an open mind' -- LOL I have trouble with that sometimes when I think something is, as Sheldon Cooper would say, 'hokum'.