Book T

The Golden Dawn, Waite, and Crowley decks are agreed in their conceptual dependance on the principles of Book T, a set of Tarot papers issued to members of the inner lodge of the Order of the Golden Dawn. The principal suggestion of the papers is that the key to the Tarot is the Qabalah and the Tree of Life. Certainly, without some basic knowledge of the symbols of the Qabalah the modern decks illustrated here would be incomprehensible. One must also know the Hebrew alphabet, since in its use for esoteric studies, each Hebrew letter is a symbol, embodying a block of concepts. All that is implied by the symbolic picture of THE FOOL is also implied by the Hebrew letter Aleph. It is one of the peculiarities of the Mysteries that many aspects of the study are so profound that one symbol can be explained only in terms of another, and a student buys into the circle with the symbol which he best understands.

Book T, a complex presentation of Tarot symbols, elaborates a formula originally given in the Cypher Manuscripts. This includes the order of Trumps and the relationship of the Trumps to Hebrew letters. Most significant is the extraordinary reverence accorded the Tarot. It was to be understood that Book T, the Tarot, is the secret key not only to the Hermetic Qabalah, but to all of western esotericism.

The Book begins:19


Set over the operations of the Secret Wisdom.

"What thou seest write in a Book, and send it unto the Seven Abodes that are in Assiah."

"And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat upon the Throne a book sealed with Seven Seals." "And I saw a strong Angel proclaiming with a loud voice. 'Who is worthy to open the Books and to loose the seals thereof?' "

The passage with which Book T is prefaced certainly represents the attitude of the Order toward its Tarot deck. The lines are from The Revelation of Saint John the Divine, chapter five. The Saint, having risen into the Celestial Realm, is shown a scroll, and is told that none on the earth is worthy to open it. The Lamb of God, however, having sacrificed his blood for mankind is deemed worthy.

The suggestion is that the Tarot is the book spoken of in Revelation, and is the key to the universe. Of course, it is not the Tarot deck, per se, that constitutes what is called Book T. The implication, rather, is that the key to the Cosmos is our perception of the underlying pattern of which the Tarot deck is an external symbol.

But this "Book," or set of universal patterns, is open to no man of this Earth. It can be opened only by the Lamb of God, who is Christ-Buddha-Osiris in this context. Only those who have been initiated into the Christ-center of the Qabalah (Tiphareth) can fully understand the Tarot. Here the initiation of Tiphareth may be understood as a "sacrifice of man's blood" in that it involves a losing of the personality-self as it has been previously known.

Moreover, we find that it is the Book T described in the Rosicrucian documents as having been found in the hand of Christian Rosencreutz when his body was discovered perfectly preserved in the Vault. The Order of the Golden Dawn claimed a direct line of descent from Rosencreutz, and apparently wanted to suggest that they were in possession of the greatest secret of the original Rosicrucians. One must therefore conclude that the Order viewed the Tarot as the symbolic receptable of its primary and most secret teaching.

The member received information on Tarot (as well as almost everything else of importance) after having passed through the initiation for the grade of Adeptus Minor. This grade related to Tiphareth, the center of Christ and other sacrificed Gods. Thus, it was not until the member assumed the nature of the Lamb of God (even being symbolically crucified in the ritual) that he was deemed worthy of opening the seals on the Scroll of Revelation, Book T, The Tarot, or whatever the patterns of the Cosmos might be called. What is important is not the books themselves, but our ability to read them. That is the breaking of the seals.

The Illustrated Key To The Tarot

The Illustrated Key To The Tarot

The pathology of the poet says that the undevout astronomer is mad the pathology of the very plain man says that the genius is mad and between these extremes, which stand for ten thousand analogous excesses, the sovereign reason takes the part of a moderator and does what it can. I do not think that there is a pathology of the occult dedications, but about their extravagances no one can question, and it is not less difficult than thankless to act as a moderator regarding them.

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