Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot
See also the page Thoth, which is the disambiguation page regarding the respective works by Aleister Crowley and by Etteilla both entitled "Book of Thoth", and regarding the Book of Thoth Etteilla Tarot deck published by Lo Scarabeo.
In the early 1940s Aleister Crowley persuaded Lady Frieda Harris to paint a tarot deck according to his instructions, and illustrating his magical philosophy. The paintings were painted using water colours.
Not printed until 1969, neither Crowley nor Harris lived to see the paintings become a working tarot deck, although the pictures were used to illustrate Crowley's Book of Thoth, which was first published in the 1940s.
Elegant and expressive, Harris's paintings are based on Projective Synthetic Geometry. Projective geometry as used by Harris derives from the works of Rudolf Steiner through George Adams and Olive Whicher, with whom Harris discussed the ongoing work (Cf reference and research by Claas Hoffmann). She also undoubtedly drew on art deco influences to convey Crowley's ideas. Cleverly turning his concepts into art, she created a deck that, from the time of its first publication, has never been out of print. A deck that is both beautiful and full of deep symbolism. A deck that repays repeated study, a classic blending of magic (spelled by Crowley as magick) and art.
The originals of the Harris watercolour paintings that were selected by Crowley to form the 78 cards in the Book of Thoth are presently housed in the library of the Warburg Institute, University of London, London, England.
Some paintings and preliminary studies by Harris relating to alternative versions of cards that were not included among the 78 cards of the Book of Thoth can be seen at www.occultartgallery.com/occultartgallery/harris/harris.html.
Frieda Harris is styled by Crowley on the title page of his Book of Thoth as "Artist Executant: FRIEDA HARRIS".
The Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot is currently published by A.G. Müller and distributed by A.G. Müller and by U.S. Games as the Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot.
U.S. Games distributes an edition with regular size cards (purple box with 3 magus cards) and an edition with larger size cards (green box)
ISBN 0913866156 (U.S. Games Systems; Standard Edition) June 1, 1972 (U.S. Games Systems; Standard Edition)
- (To be done: Clarify which size of cards this ISBN relates to and provide ISBN for both sizes.
A.G. Müller distributes an edition with regular size cards, an edition with larger size cards, and an edition with miniature size cards.
Versions in other languages
A.G. Müller publishes editions of the deck in other languages. Some of the language editions have cards whose border designs are different from the cards in the current English language editions.
Earlier editions of the deck
The images of the deck were originally published in 1944 in Crowley's Book of Thoth for a 200-copy limited edition hardcover. Subsequently, the book was mass-published.
The cards were, decades later, published as an actual deck of tarot cards. The first actual deck of tarot cards was published in the 1960s as a limited edition monochrome deck (colloquially known as the "Sangreal One Color Tarot"). That deck is extremely rare.
A colour deck was first published circa 1970 by Llewellyn. The first such edition was printed in Hong Kong. The second such edition was printed in the U.S.
Later in the 1970s and 1980s, the colour deck was published by Weiser.
Copyright to the book and to the cards is held in the name of Ordo Templis Orientis, a magickal order founded by Crowley.
For more about the publishing history, see:
- Thread "Thoth - List of Editions" on Aeclectic Tarot Forum
- Crowley's "Thoth" Tarot - Edition Comparison Table
- Correspondence between Crowley & Harris during creation of the deck
- Comments of Aleister Crowley are in his Book of Thoth in which he describes the 78 cards.
- Comments of Frieda Harris are in the pamphlet that accompanied an exhibition of the watercolour paintings of the 78 images. The text of the pamphlet is reproduced in the little white booklet that accompanies the purple-box U.S. Games edition of the Thoth deck.
- Aeclectic Tarot reviews
- AstroAmerica review
- JKTarot review
- Review by Joan Bunning
- Tarot Passages review by Michele Jackson
- Wicce.com review by Gina M. Pace
The Tarotpedia list of Crowley-Harris Thoth Companion Books.