The Thoth Tarot Deck

As you see, the deck featured on this site is the Thoth deck, in my eyes still the most comprehensive and useful Tarot deck there is.
It was created by Aleister Crowley and painted by Lady Frieda Harris and first shown in the 'Book of Thoth' around 1944.

Crowley followed the Hermetic-Quabalistic views of the Order of the Golden Dawn of which he was a member, but nevertheless his deck shows some differences. The most apparent one of course is the exchange of the trumps VIII and XI - Adjustment (Justice) and Passion (Lust, Power). The second one is that Crowley attached the Hebraic letter Tzaddi to trump IV - the Emperor - and the letter He to trump XVII - the Star.

Another 'difference' that is actually nonsense is that there are three Magicians in the deck - there are three cards showing the Magician, but the reason for this is that the artist Lady Harris made three skteches for this card for Crowley to choose from. Crowley chosed the one that is featured on this site (and also in his Book of Thoth). But later, one publisher of the deck discovered the two additional sketches and thought they were so good that he wanted to add them to the deck, to give the buyer the chance to see them and choose one by own taste.

I think here it is useful to know a bit how the companionship between the mental creator Aleister Crowley and the executing artist Lady Frieda Harris was like, therefore I've added a letter from Lady Harris to Crowley - it is somewhat a glimpse at 'the making of the Thoth deck'...


Rolling Stone Orchard, Chipping Campden
Jan. 7, 1940

Dear Aleister,

The 26 cards have gone to be mounted, so we are beginning to be terrifyingly finished. There are several I should like to try again, but none of them are what I have hoped to be able to do. Therefore tonight I am the victim of the most profound hump, and I think in future I had better stick to mechanical typing. Also I have been reading your truly magical Liber L.X.V. Oh no, I do not pretend to apprehend it, only it is like music, and the only kind of writing I want to read, only it makes me feel as if I lived in a desert and I am mighty thirsty. Shall I never get on a bit? Yoga practices I never seem to advance in. I cannot live more quietly, but even then the business of living takes time.

No. 2 Disks is on the stocks, is the serpent's eye to be red? It is a bit awkward, as there are several colours introduced in that card which do not belong to Jupiter and Capricorn, I mean the 4 element colours and they make inharmonious patches. Did you say anything about jewels on the serpent? I think you will like him. The vile lettering will have to start again, it makes me cross and ache all over.

I am longing to have a go at Mercury, but I am determined to do the Universe first. I have told the man not [to] fasten any cards in the frames, so we can look at them very carefully, it will be awful, but I must get them as nearly right as I can, tho the bother is that watercolours are the devil to alter, even if I were sure that the addition was going to fit in with the design, and altho I can redo, it is not possible to regain the memory of the emotion and one tends to produce a bad copy.

Yours ever


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