The Hermetic Tarot Review by C.J. Rose herme8.jpg (20276 bytes)
by Godfrey Dowson
pub U.S. Games Systems, 1980
traditional card titles except The Foolish Man, Fortitude and The Blasted Tower
eight: Fortitude; eleven: Justice
suits are wands, cups, swords and pentacles
courts are princess, king, queen and knight, in that order
no illustrated pips, captions
backs non-symmetrical
purpose: Fortitude

This ones based on The Esoteric Workings of the Secret Order of the Golden Dawn as
reconstructed and designed by Godfrey Dowson. Selected as one of six decks to
illustrate The Tarot Gypsy Tales, this symbol set is remarkable for its
extra-ordinary pen and ink drawings executed by the artist in the Welsh hills from
1975 to 1977.

From the LWB, The back design of The Hermetic Tarot deck is a rose in full bloom.
Each card contains the sigil which is the mark of a master craftsman and all the work
of Godfrey Dowson bears this mark.

The catalytic nature of Tarot enables it to portray all possible relationships that
can develop within the human sphere and the environment of the cosmos. Thus, the
concept of the microcosm within the macrocosm is fully expressed.

The Tarot is a mirror of reality. Its construction, based on the four elements, the
celestial phenomena, the Holy Qabala, and a very evolved psychology, can lead its
devotees to the inner recesses of psychic and intuitive awareness. The Tarot itself
can be used as the basis of all occult study, as it may be said to possess all
aspects of the inner wisdom tradition.

The twenty-two Major Arcana are constructed of the three elements, seven planets and
twelve signs. One letter of the Hebrew alphabet is designated to each of the Major
Arcana. Concurrently, each represents one of the twenty-two paths of the Tree of
Life, and may be used as the appropriate magical image of the path in meditation
practices. As will be noticed, only three of the four elements are assigned cards.
The reason for this is twofold. From a practical standpoint, since nineteen cards
are used for the planets and zodiacal signs, only three are left. More
significantly, perhaps, the Tarot is concerned with the invisible hierarchy of
causes. We, the reader and querent, form the fourth element of Earth. It is,
therefore, unnecessary to acknowledge this element in the trumps. Rather, they will
indicate the causal action of the planets, signs, and elements of Fire, Water and Air
on the final synthetic element of Earth, ourselves.

There are, however, three additional planets that until now have not entered into
the scheme of Tarot because they were not known to the ancient astronomers. Uranus
was discovered in 1781, Neptune in 1846 and Pluto in 1930.

If the three elemental trump cards are now assigned to the three planets, the
construction of the Tarot is not only purified, but the meaning and significance of
the three cards becomes more easily understood. Indeed, the function of these three
planets readily fits the expression of the cards: The Foolish Man Pluto -
Regeneration, Survival of the sublime; The Hanged Man Neptune Sacrifice; The Last
Judgment Uranus Sudden uncontrollable change.

The card from this deck which would speak with us in conclusion is Fortitude, Key 8.
Despite her caption as Daughter of the Flaming Sword, she holds a cup of fire and no
weapon. The text tells us she, represents the mastery of the lower by the higher.
Her feet are planted firmly on earth and she controls the lion in a manner similar to
the soul holding passions in check. Here is the joy of control of our symbols.

See more images from the Hermetic Tarot

Review Copyright 1998 C.J. Rose

Images Copyright 1980 US Games Systems, 179 Ludlow St., Stamford, CT 06902, (800)544-2637, Fax (203)353-8431

This page is Copyright 1999 by Michele Jackson