I’ve been aware of the existence of this Tarot for a long time now, and it’s been on and off my want list since I first stumbled upon it. I finally pulled the trigger on it, and am pleased that I did.
The Hermetic Tarot (HT) is an occult pack to its core, based on the tenets of the Golden Dawn. The art consists of black and white line and stippling drawings by Godfrey Dowson, and it looks really cool, although I have to admit that some of the people do look kind of strange (not any more so than the woodblock figures of the TdM, but still).
Each card is overflowing with esoteric symbolism that I’m sure will take me years to master. Luckily, my familiarity with the Crowley Thoth means I’m not going into this one totally cold. There are differences between the two, of course, because Crowley didn’t strictly adhere to the Golden Dawn’s ideas in his own cards, but overall I think knowing one certainly helps to know the other.
My one complaint about this Tarot is the naming of the court cards.* Traditionally, they are called King, Queen, Knight, and Page, with elemental attributions of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth, respectively. Keeping the same elemental order, Mr. Crowley sought to confuse everyone by renaming the cards Knight, Queen, Prince, and Princess. This is a slight revision of the Golden Dawn’s court, which, again keeping the same elemental order from Fire to Earth, goes King, Queen, Prince, and Princess. I think the Hermetic Tarot should have used the last one, but instead it uses an odd mixture of tradition and Crowley: Knight (Fire), Queen (Water), King (Air), and Princess (Earth). This adds unnecessary confusion to an already confusing part of the Tarot, and should have just been left alone. All in all, though, it’s not that big of a deal once you get it straight in your head.
The occult fascinates me, even if I am far from an expert in it. I wanted a new occult pack mainly for academic purposes, and this one certainly fits the bill. It’s a fine addition to my collection.
*There’s something else, actually, although I wouldn’t call it a complaint so much as a difference of opinion. In his astrological correspondences, Dowson includes Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto along with the seven traditional “planets”. He attributes Pluto to the Fool and Uranus to Judgement, which is the opposite of how I’d like to see them (how did the Golden Dawn do it?). Considering that I hardly so much as dabble in astrology, and when I do, I tend to stick to the traditional seven, it’s not a big deal at all, but I thought I’d mention it, because some people might find that a nit to pick.