bota1.JPG (21903 bytes)The B.O.T.A. Tarot reviewed by C.J. Rose
pub Builders of The Adytum, 5101 North Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90042
(323) 255-7141
traditional card titles
eight: Strength; eleven: Justice
suits are wands, cups, swords and pentacles
courts are page, knight, queen and king
no illustrated pips, no captions
backs non-symmetrical
purpose: The Hierophant

This is the deck I learned on.  At $7.50, it’s still the least expensive deck you can buy.  It comes as line drawings on cardstock which is not plastic coated, for the purpose of coloring the symbols, in order, by direction of the mystery school.  I used it until it became so soft and light I wrapped it in silk and retired it to a hand-carved wooden box.

Each initiate of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the late-19th century
esoteric cabal largely responsible for bringing the Tarot to modern attention, made a
personal copy of the master Golden Dawn Tarot as an act of devotion, meditation and
instruction. Three famous initiates, Arthur Edward Waite, Aleister Crowley, and Paul
Foster Case founded their own traditions, publishing versions of their own decks.

This B.O.T.A. deck differs significantly from the classic Rider-Waite only in the
Death card and the pips.  The Death archetype is off his high horse, walking a
wasteland beneath a red sky.  The pips replace the dramas with geometrical
arrangements of the suit sigils.

When invited to offer a card to describe its intent, this deck cut to

In trepidation we climb the temple steps.
Our heads are shaven.  You carry pure white lilies.
I clutch desire’s red roses to my breast.
We have been promised audience with our pontiff.
We have been told he bridges this world to heaven,
to hell.  What will he tell us?  We tremble.
Great doors part.  Carpets cushion our dusty feet.
The heat of our pilgrimage, exhaustion, thirst
dissipate in cool ornate halls, among stone
pillars, distant chanting from damp cellars.

We forget hunger, blisters, thorns in the flesh.
Our journey’s bickering becomes a deep silence.
We listen with every pore, as massive door
after door unseals.  Do we imagine trumpets?
Lions?  Drums?  Harps?  Flutes?  Crickets?  Lutes?  Bells?   Birds?
We’ve never heard before.  We float.  Approach.
Each opening reveals another sound.
This final threshold finds us bowing down.
Foreheads to floor, arms reach toward this throne.
And suddenly we know we’ve never been alone.

We feel this without words.  This is reality.
We hear the invitation, rise, find ourselves near,
and yet within, dear Teacher of the Arcana.
We are to be trained in The Secrets, The Tales.
We look up, see his crown, the layered cosmic egg.
Earth, air, water, fire top this papal head.
He hands you a golden key.  The one he gives me
is silver.  All we can do is look at the light
in our palms.  We are calmly excited.
All is right with every aspect of creation.

We are profoundly blessed.  We are completely still.
We swear eternal allegiance to The Work.
Now we are filled with a thunderous sound.
“Listen.”  We have no choice.  “Listen always
to the dictates of personal reason.  Never
let another voice convince you that it speaks
your truths.  Therein lies madness.”  We are baffled.
We are open to advice.  There is more, “You are
precious quintessence.”  We beam.  “And one more thing.
The voice that you hear is your own.  You dream.”

(excerpted from The Tarot Gypsy Tales)    See more images from the B.O.T.A. Deck
Copyright (c) 1998 C.J. Rose

Images copyright (c) 1931 Builders of the Adytum

This page is Copyright 1998 by Michele Jackson