The Golden Dawn Tarot is the work of an astrologer, Robert Wang. The Golden Dawn was an important occult organization in the late 1800s, formed by a group of English occultists and Golden Dawn members. The Golden Dawn Tarot is based on the Golden Dawn’s instructions for the construction of their astrological tarot.
The Golden Dawn Tarot by Robert Wang is a tarot deck that uses the Golden Dawn tradition of ceremonial magic to draw cards instead of the usual tarot suits. The symbolism and art are inspired by the Golden Dawn research of the famous occultist, mystic, and Thelemite, Aleister Crowley . Each card has a name and a short description of its meaning.
Robert Wang, perhaps best known as the author of the Cabalistic Tarot, is also an artist. He created the Golden Dawn Tarot in 1978 and the Jungian Tarot in the 1990s. The deck is accompanied by an accompanying book entitled Introduction to the Golden Dawn Tarot, published by Weiser in 1978. You can view the text digitally or for an hour at OpenLibrary.org, which I have done and will comment on in an addendum to this bridge review.
Excerpt from Introduction to the Golden Dawn Tarot by Robert Wang (Weiser Books, 1978).
Rarely has a tarot deck generated as much interest even before its release as this highly anticipated Golden Dawn tarot deck, created by Dr. Robert Wang, a dedicated scholar and researcher of the secret Golden Dawn order. Stuart Kaplan wrote about this game.
Under the guidance of Dr. Israel Regardie and by studying the ancient notebooks of the members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Wang created the Golden Dawn Tarot, an esoteric deck designed to reveal with greater clarity the interpretive approach of the Golden Dawn cards. It was supposed to be the missing link between Ryder-Waite and Thoth Crowley. Kaplan has called Wang’s deck an important and rare book in the field of tarot.
To fully appreciate the depth of thought in this deck, you need to read the accompanying book Introduction to the Golden Dawn Tarot, at least I did. In the guide you will learn that the High Priestess is an aspect of the goddess Hathor. The Empress is both an aspect of Isis and Venus. The goddess’ triple crown represents the Egyptian trilogy, Isis, Hathor and Neftis, the crescent moon, the full moon and the moon with two horns. The Emperor is Ho-Nike the Conqueror. …. The apotheosis of Mars, in love or in war.
Turning the page from Introduction to the Golden Dawn Tarot (1978)
About the card lovers: Wang notes that this is one of the most confusing decks in the Tarot, i.e. the most misinterpreted. This is not romantic love, but rather the liberating effect of insight on the personality. His deck represents Perseus freeing Andromeda from the solid rock of materialism and the dragon of fear. The lovers card in the tarot speaks of a divine union.
Moreover, Wang assigns an unusual interpretation to lovers – Key 6, according to the LWB, refers to the psyche and inspiration born from psychic sources; it is the power of the psychic impulse in a set of power cards called a quarter final.
The situation is similar to test 7 : The Chariot card represents one’s higher self, controlling the lower aspects of the mind and body. Wang echoes Crowley’s words about Key 7 – it is a symbol of the Great Work and a sublimation of the psyche.
Other interesting facts to add to your tarot journal: The hanged man is the descent of the spirit into matter, the incarnation of God in man.
Wang himself has called the Golden Dawn Tarot the only truly esoteric deck ever published. It was not so much his own original art, as you will see later in his Jungian tarot, but rather a recreation of the work of S. L. Macgregor Mathers following the instructions of Israel Regardie.
Regardie published most of the Order’s secret teachings in the book Golden Dawn (1937-40) and completed the full disclosure of these teachings with instructions embedded in this deck, the Golden Dawn Tarot, illustrated by Wang.
In the Golden Dawn Tarot, Wanga uses the symbolic framework of the Inner Tradition as formulated by Mathers. Wang stayed true to the original paintings of Mrs. Mathers loyal. The images presented here are intended to illustrate the energies of Kabbalah, a body of sacred knowledge that originated in esoteric Judaism, but is now considered Christian.
In his writings on the meanings of the tarot cards, Wanga provides insight into the relationships between the cards within the Golden Dawn. He writes that the Hierophant as a quaternary sequence is associated with the Magician, the Hermit and the Beloved, as the four cards represent aspects of occult wisdom. Another correlation to watch out for: The Death card is directly connected to the High Priestess and is in opposition or polarity with the Moon card.
Key 13: Death is also associated with the key 15 : Devils – These are the two great forces that control the universe, centrifugal and centripetal, destructive (key 13) and reproductive (key 15).
For wrench 20 : Wang writes that the uninitiated eye would think that this card represents the Day of Judgment, but its meaning is much more occult and mysterious than that, because it is a glyph of the power of fire.
The angel on key 20 is the archangel Michael, master of the solar fire. The three figures coming out of the water are three angels. The one on the left is Samael, master of volcanic fire. The judge is Anael, the master of astral light. The central angel is Arel, the ruler of the hidden heat. These three angelic figures represent the Hebrew letter Shin.
Therefore, I think if you buy Wangi’s Golden Dawn Tarot, you should also buy his book Introduction to the Golden Dawn Tarot, or at least get it from the Open Library and read it once.
In the esoteric tarot, the key is the 10th house: Wheel of Fortune and Key 21: The world/universe is connected. The wheel represents the ROTA wheel, and on the world/universe map the wheel transmutes and manifests as the Great Mother ATOR. One aspect of the Great Mother is the goddess Hathor.
36 Pips Tarot and 36 Decanate
Wang believes that all holy books are intrinsically linked to the correspondences of the Kabbalah, including the Tarot. More precisely, this game refers to the Sefer Yetzirah, the book of becoming.
A deck of seventy-eight cards is basically a book of symbols that express concepts about the nature of the universe and man’s relationship to it. Wang then quotes Dion Fortune: The universe is actually a thought form projected from the mind of God. The tarot is an illustration of this form of thinking.
The accompanying 158-page book describes in detail what each card represents. For example, the Ace of Wisdom shows a radiant angelic hand, and the mace has three flowering branches with the signs of Libra. The flame symbolizes the ten sefirot of the tree of life. The four aces of the Golden Dawn tarot represent the hand of the angel.
The Pip cards have the motif of angel’s hands. (Heavenly spirits). The four white hands of the angels shine, he writes, for example, over the 8 of chopsticks. A hand of an angel with white rays holds a branch of rosewood in three pentacles. And so on. In each viewing card, the divine hands, and only the hands, reveal themselves and hand you relics of their respective colors.
While I appreciate that the pip maps are drawn to Mathers’ specifications and in the Golden Dawn tradition, the compositions are a bit flat and lack visual interest.
The illustrations are somewhat reminiscent of Lon Milo Duquette’s Tarot of Ceremonial Magic, in that both illustrations are done in a style that could be described as naive. Wang’s technical proficiency in this art improved considerably in the later stages of his career with the Jung Tarot.
Wang notes that the Golden Dawn tarot divination system did not involve reading the cards backwards, but was a system that depended on adjacent cards in the layout for accurate interpretation.
Therefore, this game is not intended to be played with tablets. The term bad he uses does not mean an inverted card in the interpretation, but weakening, impeding or destructive influences emanating from that card.
On the back of the card is the phrase attributed to Mathers, Konx Om Pax, meaning expanding light. The members of the Golden Dawn believed it was a secret, coded phrase spoken during one of the initiation rites of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Habs am pecht, as it says on the back of the card, is the Egyptian equivalent of this expression.
The rest of the symbolism on the back of the card, as I understand it, is meant to express religiosity from different cultural perspectives, but may end up being more provocative than inspiring.
I like many things about this game, such as the complexity of the symbolism and the color coordination. If you work with Regardie’s Golden Dawn and Wangi’s Cabalistic Tarot, this deck would be a great addition to your reading.
For Vanga, influenced by the ideology of the Golden Dawn, divination through tarot is a lower form of magical art and represents the most banal use of cards. On the contrary, the highest form of the Tarot is the transmission of divine teachings and the connection of humanity to the divine. A deck like the Golden Dawn Tarot was not created for Betty to read to find out what Bob thinks of her, but to facilitate the transcendental experience in which Betty communicates with her higher angels.
The Tarot is a system of enlightenment, a system whose ultimate purpose is to help man understand his connection with the cosmos. It’s not a game, it’s not a guessing game. From the introduction to the Golden Dawn Tarot by Robert Wang (Weiser Books, 1978).
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In this accompanying text, Wang quotes Paul Foster Keyes, who once led the Order of the Golden Dawn in B.O.T.A:
The tarot is a manual of occult teachings. It is intended for serious students who seek spiritual enlightenment and are willing to devote a reasonable amount of time and attention to discovering the deeper meaning of life Those who seek in the Tarot an easy method for spiritual development will be disappointed….. The Tarot is not a game, nor is it simply a deck of cards for divination, though it is this usage that has kept it alive for serious students through the vicissitudes of time and change.
Tarot serves two main purposes. First, it preserves and spreads esoteric teachings. Second, it provokes specific intellectual and emotional responses in the inner consciousness of the student who has learned to consider it. (Case, in Tarot Highlights, 1931).
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use this game for daily reading. It still works very well. When using the Golden Dawn Tarot for divination, work with multiple decks – the more the better. The basic layout recommended by Vanga consists of fifteen cards. Once all the maps are laid out, the first task of interpretation is to assess the relationships between the elements. Which color of miner dominates the spread?
The predominance of sticks can indicate conflict, competition and confrontation. Most chalices are a positive sign of joy, fun, and pleasure. Most swords are generally evil – anger, sadness, illness, even death. And most pentacles point to money and business related matters.
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Wang made an interesting remark in the accompanying text to this game. He points out that the 1910 deck of cards created by Arthur Edward Waite and his artiste Pamela Coleman Smith, known as the Ryder deck, intentionally concealed the true esoteric order of the blind courses. In the RWS, the royal family consists of the king, queen, knight and page, but the true esoteric family, according to the Golden Dawn, is the king, queen, prince and princess, he writes. Waite’s judicial decision was a perversion of the occult principle.
LWB’s interpretation of court cards is old-fashioned divination, according to Eden Gray. For example, the magic princess is a young woman with golden or red hair and blue eyes. Point. The prince of chopsticks? A young man with yellow hair and blue or grey eyes. Point. Queen of Sages, same physical description but older. The king is the same, but older. Perhaps the King of Sages can have forest eyes.
The Queen of Swords? She has gray hair and light brown eyes. The prince of swords? Dark hair and eyes. Not to be confused with the King of Pentacles, who also has dark hair and eyes….. Wait, also Prince of the Coins, a young man with dark brown hair and dark eyes.
Only in the accompanying book does he discuss the esoteric significance of the ships.
Overview of the sixteen court or king cardsWang
Thus the knights (kings) correspond to the four elements of mythical creatures: The Knight of Wands rules the Salamanders, the Knight of Cups rules the Undines and Nymphs, the Knight of Swords rules the Sylphs and Slithides, and the Knight of Pentacles rules the Dwarves. The queens are the rulers of the four animals, i.e. the queen ruling over the salamanders, the queen of the undines, etc.
Funny, I wasn’t aware of this when I intuitively felt a similar connection in the depiction of Shining in SKT Revelation. The specific farm layout I have associated with the four animals differs from the traditional Golden Dawn, but it is interesting to see how, subconsciously, different people’s intuition and creativity are guided in a similar way.
The Golden Dawn Tarot is one of the decks I pull out from time to time to explore the imagery and reflect on this particular version of the Tarot. This is not the game I’m reading. It’s not the game I prefer for spiritual or mental development, although I admit it’s probably excellent in its own right for those purposes.
If you collect tarot decks based on the Golden Dawn, such as Ciceros’ Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot, Tarot of Ceremonial Magick, Godfrey Dowson’s Hermetic Tarot, or decks that differ from it, such as the B.O.T.A. Tarot, Robert Wang’s Golden Dawn Tarot will be a good addition for you.
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