A Collection of Tarot Decks

Occult (Golden Dawn) Decks

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These are ordered by publication date.

Two decks, the Waite-Smith (Rider Waite) and Thoth (Crowley-Harris) are included in this page, although the argument could be made that they don't really belong here. While both A.E. Waite and Aleister Crowley were initiated members of the Golden Dawn and exposed to Book "T", both decks were designed with a much more complicated agenda than mere adherence to Book "T". At this point, I am not convinced that either deck is merely a Golden Dawn deck. However, this is how they are generally considered. Both are Golden Dawn-influenced decks, but not purely Golden Dawn decks. At close examination, Waite often seems just as faithful to older traditions as to Book "T". He also alluded to a discomfort with making a Qabalistic correspondence with Tarot Trumps. The Book of Thoth is not a pure Golden Dawn deck either, as the Book of the Law and his Enochian visions are both of great significance for understanding this deck, and neither are Golden Dawn.

That said, since these decks are expected to be found in this category, that is where they are placed for the viewer's convenience.

Golden Dawn Princess of Cups Book "T" of the Golden Dawn. This is a description of a deck rather than a physical deck that you can run to your new-age bookstore and purchase. To the extent that other decks follow the image descriptions, they can be classified as more or less Golden Dawn in format. This document also appears on pages 540-565 of the Regardie Golden Dawn book. The Trumps are described separately from the Minor Arcana, and not by Mathers himself, but in a document 'The Tarot Trumps' By G.H. Soror, Q.L. (Harriet Miller Felkin). An extremely brief description of the trumps was also published in a column of 777. For the trumps, besides their titles, Book "T" itself only has a section "BRIEF MEANING OF TWENTY-TWO KEYS". There was a physical deck, probably painted by Moina Mathers, and upon achieving Adeptus Minor, each initiate had to copy it by hand.

book cover

Waite-Smith (Rider-Waite) Deck. Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith (artist). First published in 1910 by Rider & Company, London (though previewed in a December 1909 article in the Occult Review). 1977 U.S. Games. Imagery follows traditional Tarots such as Tarot de Marseilles, with imagery for the pips (like Sola-Busca). Many of the differences in the Major Arcana seem inspired by the De Guaita-Wirth Tarot. Often follows Book "T" in subtle ways - such as carving figures in the throne of a court card. In fact, part of the genius of this deck is that the minor arcana very frequently manage to capture both the older divinatory meanings (summarized in Mathers' 1888 document on the Tarot (see bottom of this page) in their pictures and the Golden Dawn meanings. Variations of this deck ("clones") often end up dropping meanings when they adapt these pictures.

Rider Waite Page of Cups deck cover book cover

The B.O.T.A. Tarot. Paul Foster Case . 1931? Builders of The Adytum, 5101 North Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90042. Black and white deck to be colored in by owner; imagery very similar to Waite-Smith. It has now gone out of copyright. I do not have a copy of this deck in my collection at this point.


Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot Deck. Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris. Developed during the 1930s and 1940s, published in the book in 1944, and first published as a deck posthumously in 1969. U.S. Games Systems, Stamford CT and Agmuller & Cie, Switzerland. While it largely follows Book "T" in correspondences, Crowley had many years of magical development after leaving the Golden Dawn that also influenced the imagery in this deck. There are books besides Crowley's that give meanings for this deck in much easier style, but their interpretations frequently disagree with those provided by Crowley himself, so if this is important to you, caveat emptor.

Thoth Princess of Cups deck cover book cover

The Golden Dawn Tarot. Robert Wang under the direction of Israel Regardie. 1978 US Games Systems. - This is a deck which I have in my collection for purposes of completeness. I personally find it to be aesthetically rather wooden and unappealing. Color Scales are not implemented on the Minor Arcana.

Wang Golden Dawn Princess of Cups deck cover

Hermetic Tarot: The Esoteric Workings of the Secret Order of the Golden Dawn. Godfrey Dowson. 1980 US Games Systems. While black and white, and therefore missing all the symbolism from the color scales, I think this is my favorite close rendering of Book "T" of those listed. It goes directly back to Book "T" rather than coming through Thoth. The artwork is very difficult to appreciate from scanned thumbnails, and really needs to be seen upclose as it is so detailed. I think I most appreciate the sense of humor that comes through.

Hermetic Princess of Cups deck cover

Gill Tarot. Elizabeth Josephine Gill. 1990 US Games Systems. - Jo Gill also painted the Major Arcana of the Servants of the Light Tarot. This is a qabalistic deck from a perspective a few organizations removed from the Golden Dawn. It seems to me to have a more religious (Christian) feel than many other decks, though I'm not sure why that is. The large arabic numeral which makes up the bulk of the pip card imagery is a unique feature of this deck.

Gill Princess of Cups deck cover book cover

Magickal Tarot. Anthony Clark with handbook by Tony Willis. 1992 Aquarian Press. - Derived from Thoth. This is what I would call a "flashcard" deck. The art is far less scenic than in most decks, and this deck does not implement the illustrations of Book "T", but instead has most of the correspondences really obvious - often written out - making them easy to learn at an intellectual level. Anthony Clark was responsible for the Court Cards and Minor Arcana of the Servants of Light Tarot, though the style is quite different in that deck.

Magickal Princess of Cups set

The Tarot of Ceremonial Magick. Lon Milo and Constance Duquette. 1994 U.S. Games Systems. - This is a Thelemic deck, and explicitly covers Enochiana and Goetia making it an even more comprehensive study deck within that system than the other Golden Dawn decks available. As stated in a review in Manteia, "DuQuette has added more symbolic references than the mentioned decks [Golden Dawn Tarot and the Book of Thoth]; apart from the Hebrew and astrological references, this deck also has references to the Enochian tablets, to the 72 spirits of Goetia and to the Angels of Shemhamphorash. The Astrological references are extended to also include the decanates. References to the Tattwas and the I-Ching hexagrams are also included."

Ceremonial Magick Princess of Cups deck cover book cover

Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot. Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero. 1996 Llewellyn Publications. - The Ciceros have written a number of books about the Golden Dawn, including Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition. This deck is another direct Book "T" deck (of course), and is notable for constant use of flashing colors.

Golden Dawn Ritual Princess of Cups set cover

Tarot of the Sephiroth. Josephine Mori and Jill Stockwell (designers) and Dan Staroff (artist). 2000 US Games Systems. - This new deck allows you to connect the cards into a tree of life glyph and shows the spheres and paths on the cards. Symbolism of the paths is more purely qabalistic than in many decks - for instance showing an ox on the Fool card for Aleph. It is not competing with other storylines (for instance, alchemical) as the Thoth and pure Golden Dawn decks are. The art on this deck is very lively and attractive, with a bit of a sardonic quality, especially in comparison with other occult decks. This is especially true of the court cards, which have tremendous personality.

Tarot of the Sephiroth Princess of Cups deck cover book cover

Liber T: Tarot of Stars Eternal. Roberto Negrini (designer) and Andrea Serio (artist). 2004 Lo Scarabeo. - This is an artistic variant of the Thoth deck, with the twist of added magical images of the decans on the small cards (1-10). Andrea Serio's art is more streamlined than Lady Frieda Harris'. The coloration of the Thoth deck is not preserved - the colors on this deck are bolder if not changed entirely, and thus this is not a deck for working with the Golden Dawn color scales. Overall, the imagery on this deck is even more astral/otherworldly than the Thoth deck itself. Besides those interested in ancient astrology and Thoth variants, those tarotists with a shamanic bent may want to check this deck out as well. The overall vibe is right in line with Navigator’s Tarot of the Mystic Sea and Crow's Magick.

Tarot of the Sephiroth Princess of Cups deck

Upcoming Rosicrucian Tarot from V.H. Soror F.D.A. mentioned at one time on the site of the Hermetic Order of the Morning Star Int'l. Also shown here.

See Golden Dawn and Thelemic Tarot Decks a visual comparison of the same eight cards from these decks and more (more than twenty decks in toto).

My very unfinished online book - a compilation of information into a cheat sheet for each card from a number of different sources. The orientation is a study guide from a Golden Dawn perspective.

Postmodern Decks that also work well with a Golden Dawn approach
Cosmic Princess of Cups
Cosmic Tarot
Cosmic Tribe Princess of Cups
Cosmic Tribe Tarot
Haindl Princess of Cups: Brigid Daughter of Cups in the North

Haindl Tarot
Light and Shadow Princess of Cups
Light and Shadow Tarot
Rohrig Princess of Cups
Rohrig Tarot
Tarot of the Spirit Sister of Water
Tarot of the Spirit
Vision Quest Daughter of Water
Vision Quest Tarot


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Copyright © 1994-2001 Joan Schraith Cole.
Updated August 26, 2001
Some graphics from Ann-S-Thesia CD, Number 76 variant A
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