I have been interested in Tarot for a long time, but in recent years I have kicked it up a notch when I joined BOTA, Builders of the Adytum. As it happened, I was recently given the opportunity to further expand my studies as Bro JMD developed a PDF-course focussing on the Jean Noblet Tarot (as restored by Jean-Claude Flornoy) and needed beta-subjects. And today a third study begins, as Bro Dave Mavity, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in California, is offering a 101 on The Sanctum Sanctorum forum, with a particular eye towards freemasonry
BOTA is a correspondence course, and the first part has been an ‘Introduction to Tarot’, basically presenting the Major Arcana, or Keys, as BOTA founder Paul Foster Case terms them. I have now entered into the next step, ‘Tarot Fundamentals’, and it gets better and better. BOTA is a ‘mystery school of practical occultism’ – read into that what you will. Case developed his system from Golden Dawn, and made his own school.
The Noblet course is in 30 parts: one on each of the trumps, and the rest covering pips (numbers), court cards and some general concepts. It’s pilot project, but the material is extremely well thought out, and the presentation, with lots of historical references and art, is top notch. I was never a fan of Marseilles type Tarot decks, but this introduction to Noblet (ca. 1650) has really made me appreciate their strength, and just generally understanding the history of Tarot, pre-Golden Dawn.
The deck that originally got me hooked was Crowley’s Thoth Tarot, magnificently illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris. But it is heavily layered in Crowley’s occult thinking, as well as given a further dimension from the artwork. It is just very hard to work with, and as I am finally doing the groundwork, it becomes obvious that I was trying to fly without the benefit of either wings or the knowledge of how to use them – which is a popular mistake. I am glad to go back to 101.
(I should perhaps clarify that I do no use the cards for either divination or card games; only as a tool for self-reflection, and as a key to approach spiritual aspects in my life – my freemasonry, my faith, life and death. Illustrations are from the three decks: BOTA (you colour them yourself), Noblet and Thoth.)