When we first begin to read Tarot, we will often start out with the Rider-Waite deck. This is often seen as the classic Tarot deck and is brilliant for both beginners and experts alike.
However, when continuing our journey into Tarot we will soon discover different types of Tarot decks. The Thoth Tarot deck is probably the most famous alternative to the classical Rider-Waite deck. It is a stunning deck full of symbolism and striking imagery.
You may have heard of the Thoth Tarot deck, but might be wondering, what exactly is it, and how does it differ from classical Tarot designs? In this article I will discuss the Thoth Tarot deck and why it might be a brilliant addition to your Tarot reading journey.
What Is The Thoth Tarot Deck
Honestly, the Thoth Tarot deck is truly stunning. The designs are just super unique and very different from most traditional Tarot decks. Considering it was designed in the 1940s, I think the deck is still so fresh and modern.
It is basically a Tarot deck, but with its own style and messages. If you are used to the Rider-Waite deck, you will notice some obvious differences.
It was designed by the infamous English occultist Aleister Crowley, who is a pretty interesting character if you ever want to read up on him!
He wanted to update the original Tarot and change things around a little. He putted a fresh twist on the Tarot and interlinked his own spiritual philosophy with the deck.
The Book of Thoth
Crowley wrote a book on the deck and the history of Tarot called the Book of Thoth to accompany his Tarot deck.
It is a very interesting book that dives deep into Tarot, its symbolism, and its power. It discusses the Tree of Life, Tetragrammaton, and other Tarot influences.
I won’t lie, the book is pretty dense, so don’t be worried if you can’t fully get your head around what he is saying! If you choose to read it, take your time!
The deck gets its name from the ancient Egyptian God Thoth, and in the Book of Thoth Crowley discusses the influences of the ancient Egyptians on the modern-day Tarot.
Who Drew the Thoth Tarot Deck
The deck was drawn by Lady Frieda Harris, an incredible artist from the nineteenth century. She and Aleister Crowley worked together on the deck for around five years.
The imagery of the Thoth Tarot deck is truly unique, taking symbolism from a range of different spiritual ideas, occult systems, and from Crowley’s own spiritual philosophy.
These symbolisms are discussed at great length in the Book of Thoth.
Differences from Rider–Waite tarot
If you are used to reading the Rider-Waite deck, the Thoth deck can be a bit confusing at first. There are a few main differences between the two decks, and it is important to understand these differences before you proceed.
Symbolism and Imagery
The traditional Rider-Waite deck has pretty intuitive imagery on the cards. Because of this, the deck is perfect for beginners. Most people can learn pretty quickly with the Rider-Waite deck and its classical imagery, influenced by the medieval eras, Paganism, and Christianity.
The symbolism and imagery of the Thoth Tarot deck are much more out there, taking influence from a range of occult practices. If we look at the Fool card, Crowley portrays him as the Green Man.
In spirituality, the Green Man symbolizes the circle of life and death, and rebirth. This differs from the Rider-Waite as in the Rider-Waite deck, the Fool is a young man at the beginning of his journey.
This alteration of certain cards and their symbolism is throughout the Thoth Tarot deck, allowing you to get new messages and ideas from the cards.
Aleister Crowley chose to change some of the major arcana card names. For example, The Strength card becomes Lust.
There are a lot of interesting changes and this allows us to read the cards in a new way. He has also rearranged the numerical and astrological correspondences of the cards.
Crowley also altered the name of Pentacles, changing it to Disks. He still links it to the element of earth and material goods.
If you are used to the traditional Rider-Waite cards, you will also notice that the court cards are different. The King is now the Knight, the Knight is the Prince, and the Page is the Princess.
How to Read the Thoth Tarot Deck
The Thoth Tarot deck is unique, with its own symbolism and imagery. However, like all Tarot decks, I suggest you start off by reading the deck intuitively.
Pick a card and examine the images, listening to what your gut is telling you. Is there something that you are drawn to on the card? Perhaps a certain emotion arises?
After meditating with the card, you can begin to read about what the card means. Most cards are pretty similar to the traditional Rider-Waite deck, but a lot of cards contain their own unique energy and power.
When buying a Thoth Tarot deck, purchase one with a guidebook. This means that you can read an insight into the cards and what their meanings are.
If you so wish, purchase the Book of Thoth to dive deeper into the meanings and symbolism of the Thoth Tarot deck.
It also contains descriptions of each card and a keyword that goes with them. This will help you understand the Tarot deck better, and therefore impact the preciseness of your readings.
Tarot Spreads For The Thoth Tarot Deck
Simple three-card spreads are great to use with the Thoth Tarot deck as they help you learn the cards and how the deck is speaking to you.
I think that a lot of traditional spreads can be used with the Thoth Tarot deck, however, I have heard from other readers that they find certain spreads difficult. For example, certain readers can’t seem to read the Thoth deck with the Celtic Cross spread.
I would advise you to try out different Tarot spreads with the deck and see what works for you. Spreads that work with the Rider-Waite deck might not work with the Thoth Tarot deck, and vice versa!
Where to Buy the Thoth Tarot Deck
You can buy the Thoth Tarot deck from many bookshops or occult stores. As it is a very famous deck, there are loads of suppliers!
You can also buy the deck online, and the deck comes in loads of different sizes with different guidebooks.
Here are some Thoth Tarot decks available on Amazon right now.
Large Thoth Tarot Deck
This is a high-quality Thoth Tarot deck that displays the illustrations beautifully. It is a large deck, but a lot of readers prefer this when it comes to the Thoth deck as you are able to see all the different symbols on the cards clearly.
Pocket Edition of the Thoth Tarot Deck
If you prefer a smaller deck, this is a great choice. They are high-quality cards that can be used easily.
The Book of Thoth
If you are wanting to learn how to read Tarot with the Thoth deck, I would advise purchasing the Book of Thoth. By reading this, you can really get to grips with the deep symbolism and meaning of the Thoth Tarot deck. It is super interesting and pretty enlightening!
Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot by Lon Milo DuQuette
Okay, I do advise reading the Book of Thoth, but I also know that it can be pretty confusing! So, if you are finding it hard to understand, you should definitely check out this book by Lon Milo Duquette. He explains the Thoth Tarot deck, the history, and the complexity of the deck. A great read for people learning the Thoth Tarot deck!
Let the Thoth Tarot Deck Guide Your Life
I love the Thoth Tarot deck and Crowley’s exciting take on the traditional Tarot. It can be pretty confusing at first, but you soon will learn to love the cards and understand why the deck is so popular!
If the Thoth Tarot deck isn’t for you, that is okay! There are so many amazing decks out there and you will find the one that is perfect for you. Check out my guide to Tarot decks here.