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Hermetic Tarot - tarot decks

Playing Cards
Playing Cards -> Tarot decks

Price: US $13.34

ProductID: alt0120

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About this item
  • The Hermetic Tarot is black and white only, but is very highly detailed Tarot deck of 78 cards. It is an artistic recreation
  • of a mysterious, esoteric Tarot deck by Mathers, a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn. Now reprinted and again
  • available.

Name Hermetic Tarot
Creators Godfrey Dowson
Publisher US Games 1990
Publisher US Games 2006
Deck Type Tarot Deck
Cards 78
Major Arcana 22
Minor Arcana 56
Deck Tradition Golden Dawn
Minor Arcana Style Unique Scenes With Suit Symbols
Cups, Swords, Wands, Pentacles Court Cards
The Fool is 0
Strength is 8
Justice is 11
Card Size 2.75 x 4.75 in. = 6.99cm x 12.06cm
Card Language English
Card Back Unknown

masterpiece. The tone of the deck and Dowson’s artwork invokes the full spectrum of powers within the tarot practitioner for spiritual divinatory work. As a Golden Dawn study deck, the card images are fundamentally focused on alchemical and astrological references, with the deck outfitted for theurgy. It can be integrated into personal rituals, meditations, and ceremonies and in fact is probably far better suited for such work than, say, the Marseille, Rider-Waite-Smith, or even the Thoth decks.

Godfrey Dowson draws heavily from elemental dignities, Western astrology as interpreted by the Golden Dawn, and the Qabalah. Corresponding alchemical symbols for the four elements and astrological symbols are embedded into each card to denote the attributions. In the Major Arcana, the Key’s corresponding Hebrew letter appears on the top left corner. In the court cards, the alchemical symbol corresponding with the classical element that the card itself represents appears on the top left and the symbol for the element corresponding with the suit appears on the top right. The Knight of Swords, for example, represents Fire (for the Knight) on Air (for the suit of Swords). For practitioners who adopt interpretive methods reliant on elemental dignities, that is a godsend. The backs of the cards are illustrated with the Hermetic Rose and hexagrams. As they are non-reversible, it may not be an ideal deck for reading with reversals. That being said, the little white booklet that accompanies the Hermetic Tarot provides the meanings of the cards in the “ill-dignified” position, as reversals are called in the booklet, which suggests that the deck is nevertheless intended for reading with reversals.

The anatomy of the Hermetic Tarot is the same as the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) and there is substantial crossover of subscribed card meanings to render the Hermetic Tarot user-friendly for anyone familiar with the RWS. A title is assigned to each card in the Hermetic deck and the essences of the cards as denoted by the titles are almost transferrable onto the RWS.

Moreover, some imagery in the Hermetic Tarot are reminiscent of the Thoth, such as Key 12, The Hanged Man, Four of Cups, or Ten of Wands, among others. Practitioners who use the Thoth will be right at home with the Hermetic Tarot. Overall, the Hermetic Tarot combines the many practical symbolic elements of the RWS and the haute esoteric nature of the Thoth for the creation of one incredible deck that every serious tarot practitioner will want in his or her arsenal.

While I found the deck dysfunctional when reading mundane inquiries about the prospects of a romantic relationship or whether a promotion will be given at work, the Hermetic Tarot can be consulted when a seeker needs to channel or tap into greater universal life forces for personal empowerment. Thus, if the love inquiry is more focused on what greater forces are at play in a seeker’s love life, the Hermetic Tarot can answer that better than the standard decks. Rather than ask whether a promotion will be given at work, if the seeker asks about the greater forces influencing her career and professional development, the Hermetic Tarot will prove to be profoundly empowering.

Inevitably there will be comparisons between The Hermetic Tarot and the Golden Dawn Tarot by Israel Regardie & Robert Wang (1977) or the Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn by Giordano Berti & Patrizio Evangelisti (2008). For me there is no comparison. Dowson's Hermetic Tarot prevails over all as the preeminent instructive tarot deck on the Golden Dawn interpretive system. The detailing, the angelic references, the 10 sephirots of the Tree of Life, the astrological, numerological, and elemental symbolism challenge me to advance my own scholastic studies of tarot and related metaphysical sciences. It is a must-have for any tarot practitioner subscribing to the Golden Dawn system.

All that said, the Hermetic Tarot is better used for spiritual reflection and meditation than everyday tarot readings to the public. It is an introspective deck, one that aids indispensably in harnessing your personal power or tapping into the universal unconscious, but I cannot imagine how exhausting it would be on the mental faculties to do a tarot reading party with the Hermetic.

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