In the Golden Dawn temples loyal to Mathers (now
called the Alpha et Omega), there was still frustration at not having a full
tarot deck available. Mathers had written a paper on the “Seven Branch
Candlestick” for the Theoricus Adeptus Minor grade of the Golden Dawn (prior
to 1900) which gave some descriptions of the Tarot Keys allied to the planets.
This is part he tried to merge with formula of Talismatic images applied to the
letters of the Hebrew alphabet. An example of this, taken from the Empress key:
Yod: A yellowish-Green robe, covering a strong breast, on which is
a square Golden lamen, in the angles of which are respectively the Crux Ansata:
The conch shell and the Sigil of Venus traced in scarlet….
The first real work published on the Golden Dawn Tarot was by Robert Wang who brought out an interesting version of the Golden Dawn Tarot. The colouring in the deck though, especially the Minor Arcana, was not that used within the Stella Matutina. In fact the Golden Dawn deck should have been colored like the Crowley one, which was taken from the paths and Sephiroth of the Four Color Scales of the Golden Dawn as applied to the Tree of Life. Wang brought out a useful little book that went a long way into describing the Golden Dawn symbolism. The Cicero’s brought out a Golden Dawn deck and an excellent tarot book for their American Golden Dawn temples “The Golden Dawn ritual tarot” which went a lot further than Wang in explanation. In many instances they corrected much of the Wang symbolism. A good example of this shows a close inspection of their Universe key shows the correct zodiac positioning missed by Wang.
“The Magical Tarot of the Golden Dawn” also gives an explanation of the Golden Dawn Tarot symbolism. Much of the information came from members of the now defunct Whare Ra temple in Hastings, New Zealand, which closed its doors in 1978. The deck they used was the old Felkin one and the figures were so badly drawn that colouring the cards and using them came as a real chore. I was always amazed that no one in that temple did any more in depth work on the tarot and in 1982 started a series of notes which eventually became the book “Magical Tarot of the Golden Dawn”’. My wife Chris and I worked together on this book for many years. During this time Chris investigated the color schemes applied to the Four Trees and put her own color descriptions to some of the colors. Like the Vault wall the color scheme of the Four Trees never had the same color appearing twice. It was always a shade darker or lighter. Chris redrew the color scales many time before we came up with a solution to suit us both. While we have given the more modern scales in this book, and more importantly how they were derived, we still included the old colouring descriptions at the beginning of each card so a choice can be made as to which ones the reader may prefer to use.
There are many interesting new innovations in this book. For the first time a complete alchemical system is given for the whole deck. In the past, a number of authors have pondered on the alchemical aspects of the tarot. Most of these though were simply hit and miss applications to some cards, with the whole context the 78 cards of the deck not taken into consideration. Some years ago I had worked out (in the “Kabbalah of the Golden Dawn”) an alchemical system of applying the steps of alchemy to the Sephirah Yetzirah. This was the path associations to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This brought the Alchemical steps in line with the color scales as well. One color generating another. Simply put, alchemy has a three, seven and twelve stage system which can apply directly to the cards. The court cards became the four alchemical colors of the experiment and the minor arcana also had a series of alchemical steps which allied back to the Trumps. This was worked out by my wife Chris is a practicing alchemist, and who, was fortunate enough to make the very difficult liquid stone during one experiment. So every card had an alchemical association in juxtaposition with every other card.
Also in the book I have given detailed descriptions of the Mathers’ explanation of the Trumps taken from the `Seven Branch Candlestick’ and the A.O. 6=5 paper. There is also some rewrites of multidimensional paper on the Convoluted Forces paper.
About six years before this book was published I was put in touch with an American Golden Dawn member and professional artist, Skip Dudchous. Unfortunately due to other commitments Skip could not complete the Golden Dawn drawings during the time scale allowed. His work though is excellent and something to see. Jon Pierce stepped into help and did a set of complete black and white cards in about three months for us, which enabled to get the book published. His black and white style of drawing was not liked by everyone, but the symbolism was correct as we could get it John’s work though really shines through when he colored the deck (yet to be released) in pretty much the correct colors scheme allied to the four trees. This colored version really flashes when using them. In other words the deck has much the same colors as the Crowley one. We also took the liberty of using Westcott’s original drawing of the Court cards, supplied to us by Bob Gilbert, as these matched the descriptions given in Book `T’. Jon redrew these to suit the style of the rest of the deck. In the card associations we have also given herbs, crystals and many more newer analogies.
Numerology (both Hebrew and English versions)
Chakra (applicable to the planetary trumps)
Psychological Mode of expression
There are also numerous other aspects to the cards that are given as well, each piece of symbolism is explained. The meaning and Introduction to the Court Cards have been greatly expanded from its original Golden Dawn format as given in Book `T’, with more in depth meanings of the cards in both the mythology and divination area.
In this book there are example reading from the Golden Dawn’s Book `T’ and more recent resources plus a strong meditation guide for each Key. Also there are numerous other one off spreads that the reader will find interesting as well. Chris has also included her drawings the Star maps with all the cards divisions clearly marked on the heavens for both the Southern and Northern Hemisphere.
Zalewski’s pointed out the variations and changes in teachings that can occur
in a living tradition such as the Golden Dawn. Teachings can vary from one
branch of the order to another, and even from temple to temple. Throughout the
history of the Golden Dawn and its offshoots, this has been the case. The
authors stress experimentation with the tarot, which is a mark of a vibrant
magical system, rather than a stagnant one. The
descriptions of each tarot card are very reliable and very complete. We
particularly liked the added alchemical associations and the authors’ work on
the gematria or numerology of each card. There is also a good deal of added
astrological information and divinatory meanings/interpretations that are quite
useful. Some of this material has been updated by the authors to reflect modern
interpretations of certain tarot cards, something that we wholeheartedly agree
with. Several excellent suggestions for studying and meditating on the cards are
provided by the authors. This book is a balanced combination of both historical
and new material presented by the Zalewski’s that stands firmly rooted in
Golden Dawn teachings and ritual practice.”
The book is in A4 size (standard typing sheet size) and is jammed packed with information of nearly 400 pages, spiral bound with laminated cover.