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Drawing heavily upon the work of Golden Dawn alumni MacGregor Mathers and Aleister Crowley, the Hermetic Tarot Deck by Godfrey Dowson is known for its emphasis on the astrological attributions of the cards.
Many have considered this deck to be a so called ‘student’ deck of the Tarot, and yes, in this I would agree but never to let such a contemporary connotation detract from the esoteric and energetic correspondences of this deck to that of the Zodiac, and of the divine emanations beyond the veil of the World Dream. The attributions found in the cards of the Hermetic Tarot are in fact a complex amalgam betwixt astrological and kabalistic correspondence systems. The four quadrants as well as the zodiacal prisms of the cosmic tree of life are known and incorporated within this deck of the Tarot. As a practicing witch I am reassured in this as well as cognizant of this energetically when handling the deck and working both spreads and clarifications with the Hermetic Tarot.
A desire to perform and write a review of The Hermetic Tarot is in large part due to appreciation for the energy of this deck. It is known among the elder witches, including witch queens and imperators of our pagan hermetic orders that the colors Red, Black and White are the colors of the true Holy Trinity and therefore that of the Gebafal which the angels spoke of to Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley over four hundred and twenty five years ago. The three colors having deep association with that of the Magus, or Magi, and that of manifestation and the working of the craft under the authority of the Lord of all Magick.
This fact, combined with the high efficiency of the Hermetic Tarot, and that of it’s innate qualities for the cartomancy student or neophyte to learn the Tarot has moved me to spot light this wonderful Tarot deck. It’s Knights, Kings, Queens powerfully correlated to zodiac, including in them the fullness of three decans (1 decan = 10 degrees), equaling 30 degrees in celestial zodiacal energies. In the Hermetic Tarot the astrological year is started with Regulus at zero degrees Leo, rather than zero degrees Aries. This deck contains the standard formulation of seventy eight cards, sub divided into three main groups: the twenty two Major Arcana, sixteen court cards, and forty pip cards (numbered cards). With Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, much like the seventy eight card Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot, or the Rider / Waite decks. The World card takes on the Thoth style name “Universe” and the Strength card of the Rider / Waite is named ‘Fortitude’ in the Hermetic Tarot.
Truly, to master this deck is to understand and connect with the Tarot itself on a much deeper level. The Hermetic Tarot contains occult imagery in its art but it’s qualities reach far beyond this. The incorporation of alchemical and astrological symbolism is not required at first, but there is a steep learning curve there for anyone who wishes to unlock and access the full potential of this magickal deck. Many decks produced in recent years are often themes of various art built upon the Rider / Waite system. The Hermetic Tarot is in itself neither Light, Shadow focused, as far as energy or the anchors of the deck are designed yet it offers a new dimension to my readings and I am positive it will do the same for the serious student or witch who learns it well.
I am particularly fond of the white on black format of the card’s overall appearance. The printing of the cards is excellent, as well as having a proper thickness in the card stock which feels good in the hand. Individual card illustrations are evocative and the images Dowson chose for each are in my humble opinion quite visionary as well as beautiful. The booklet that comes with the cards is packed full of useful and carefully organized information.
”It is a very interesting deck for those interested in the symbolism of the Kabbalah and the Hermetic, Rosicrucian, and Theosophist traditions. They also feature some Eastern symbols. These are not old, or traditional cards. Their design is derived from the broad range of symbols used by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” - Amazon Review
The elements incorporated in it’s design and the classical symbolism make this deck a very powerful in my opinion. I recommend both those new to the Tarot and experienced readers make use of this set of cards. Even though I am personally a staunch and permanent advocate of the Crowley Thoth Tarot deck for serious cartomancy divination, the utilization of the Hermetic Tarot is one I would certainly recommend.
Includes 72-page instruction booklet includes an introduction by Stuart R. Kaplan and card meaning written by Godfrey Dowson and Stuart R. Kaplan.