This deck was designed for those who are interested in astrology, ceremonial magick and magic in general. The book is 272 pages long and contains 72 cards illustrated in full color. The cards are arranged in four categories. One is the “Major Arcana” (26 cards), which relate to astrological aspects of life (such as the Sun, Moon, and major planets). The other two categories are the “Minor Arcana” (54 cards) and the “Celtic Cross”, which includes two additional cards (one called the “Celtic Cross” and the other called the “Burning Bush”). The cards are printed on heavy paper and have a linen finish.
Magick is a term that is used to describe a wide range of different practices. From the common “white witch”, whose magical practices are the result of a holistic approach to life, to the more formal rituals of Thelema and other schools, magick can be used for just about any purpose.
Lon Milo DuQuette and Constance DuQuette’s The Tarot of Ceremonial Magick was originally released by U.S. Games in 1997, then reprinted by Thelesis Aura in 2010. The edition seen here is from the Third Printing, which was published in 2013. These cards were produced in the Republic of Korea, which is interesting. Given how uncommon it is, I felt it was worth mentioning.
While DuQuette is a Thelemite, and you’ll see strong influences from Aleister Crowley’s Thoth throughout the deck, not to mention a portrait of a young Crowley on The Magus card, it’ll be instructive to compare this deck to the Golden Dawn-based decks we looked at earlier this week: the Golden Dawn Tarot by Robert Wang and the New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot by Chic and Tabatha C.
The accompanying work is Lon Milo DuQuette’s Tarot of Ceremonial Magick: A Pictorial Synthesis of Three Great Pillars of Magick (Astrology, Enochian Magic, Goetia), which was published by Weiser Books.
If you’re interested in the Golden Dawn, it’s worth having both volumes in your own collection since there’s a lot of substantial information in the manner of correspondences here that isn’t in the accompanying work by the Ciceros for the New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot.
“The Tarot of Ceremonial Magick,” writes DuQuette, “is the only tarot deck ever produced that properly includes the essential components of the two most prominent and extensively practiced types of Qabalah-based magick: Dr. John Dee’s Enochian magick and Goetia.”
Enochian magic is based on the writings of Elizabethan magus Dr. John Dee and his clairvoyant partner Edward Kelley from the 16th century. Together, they set out to experience heavenly contact in the same manner that Enoch, the Biblical patriarch, did. Their angel contacts taught them a full linguistic system that they could use to communicate with the angels.
In the late 1800s, MacGregor Mathers reignited interest in Enochian magic by combining John Dee’s writings with elemental and Aethyr correspondences, Aethyr being the 30 heavens or celestial spheres that encircle the elemental world. These 30 heavens, according to DuQuette, are clear spheres, one within the other, like a glass onion.
The tarot is known as the “Qabalah’s DNA.” Both the LWB that comes with the deck and the accompanying text reiterate this assertion.
Also, as with Robert Wang and the Ciceros, the idea that tarot for fortune-telling or divination is a poor use of the cards is repeated here.
According to DuQuette, the tarot is “a living mandala; a visual, pictorial breakdown of the processes of creation.” It’s a picture book “of God’s thought” and the “common denominator” of all the Hermetic arts.
In terms of the artwork, I’m a big fan of the compositional ideas. The vivid, saturated colour stimulates animism in the cards, much as it does in the New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot. The layout design is amazing, with the cells including correspondences from different esoteric systems. However, the technical competence may give these drawings a high school art project vibe, similar to Wang’s Golden Dawn Tarot.
While the visual style is fairly similar throughout the cards, the degree of attention to detail isn’t always consistent. Consider the Death card in comparison to Key XX: Aeon, one of the deck’s most beautiful images.
The 22 Trumps are divided into three groups, each of which corresponds to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet: the three Mother Letters, which represent the three primitive elements; the seven Double Letters, which represent the seven planetary cards in the Majors; and the twelve Simple Letters, which represent the twelve zodiac cards.
The four suits symbolize the four universal elements in the Minor Arcana, while the Aces in the suits represent the fifth element of Spirit.
The 72 Shemhamphorash Angels correlate to the 36 pips, which run parallel to the 72 Goetia Spirits. The heavenly names are recorded on the pips Twos through Tens, as well as the matching Goetic seals from the Solomonic grimoires, if you click into the pictures of the Minor Arcana suit groups. If you’re interested in combining tarot with the 72 Angels or the 72 spirits of the Goetia, Travis McHenry’s Angel Tarot and the Occult Tarot are both worth checking out.
Anyone who has attended one of DuQuette’s seminars or lectures would recognize a sense of humour in his graphic work. Consider the sundaes and martinis in the Two of Cups and the Seven of Cups, respectively.
Despite this, the deck is a serious, potent starting point for magical activity. Color correspondences are important in DuQuette’s deck, as they are in the New Golden Dawn Ritual deck, but he appears to deviate from the Golden Dawn’s flashing colors and Color Scales, as described in the Ciceros book.
While many decks, most notably the Haindl Tarot, combine the I Ching hexagrams with the tarot, DuQuette takes a unique approach to tarot with the I Ching.
The deck of Hermann Haindl (released by U.S. Games in 1990) incorporates 36 of the 64 I Ching hexagrams into the Minor Arcana’s Twos through Tens.
DuQuette’s deck, which came out seven years later, incorporates 16 of the 64 hexagrams from the I Ching into the court cards (Princess, Prince, Queen, and Knight).
“Ceremonial magick has been dubbed the ‘yoga of the west,’” according to DuQuette, which is an intriguing comparison given Wang’s claim in the Golden Dawn Tarot that the Qabalah is the “yoga of the west.” DuQuette, on the other hand, sees a link between the I Ching and the Qabalah, referring to the I Ching as the “Qabalah of Eastern thinking.”
The Tarot of Ceremonial Magick is a breakthrough work in the field of esoteric tarot. It’s the first deck I’m aware of that incorporates Tattwa meditation symbols and matches them to tarot architecture.
Hindu tattwa symbols, which can be found in the lower right corner of the Aces and Courts cards, are used in focused meditation. You look at the tattwa symbol until you’ve memorized it in your mind, then look away and project that symbol onto a blank space, where you can visualize it floating and suspended in air.
The Enochian squares from the Enochian Tablet of Union may be seen on the bottom left of the Aces and Courts. The Enochian Tablet, commonly known as the Spirit Tablet, is the subject of an entire chapter in the companion book. The main names of the elemental spirits in Enochian ceremonial magick are shown on these tablets on the Aces and Courts.
The Tarot of Ceremonial Magick is a magnificent occult tarot deck that does what few others have: effectively integrating and synthesizing a variety of esoteric systems. It’s the deck to employ in ritual magic or even as tarot talismans, particularly if the magician’s work will be based on the invocation or evocation of Goetic spirits, Shemhamphorash angels, and/or Enochian elemental spirits.
As an example:
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