(i) Lon Milo Duquette YouTube Video

Lon Milo Duquette : My in-depth YouTube Video on the Thoth Tarot book of Lon Milo Duquette may be viewed by clicking on the image below:

Lon Milo Duquette

(ii) Introduction to Lon Milo DuQuette 

I was expecting great things from this book as Lon Milo DuQuette has been a member of Aleister Crowley’s Occult Order the OTO for many years and had been involved with the occult since the 1960s. The book retails at £21 pounds on amazon and scores a really high 4.5 stars out of 5 for 20 customer reviews. In his opening chapter he says he is as qualified as anyone to comment on the subject of the Thoth Tarot. For those that are interested in his work this is one of several interviews he gives on YouTube

Lon Milo Duquette

 

(iii) Basic Structure of the Book

The book just over 300 pages in length and is divided into two parts. The first part consists of an introduction to the background philosophy behind the Thoth Tarot and is by far the best section of the Book.

Section two starts on page 80 and consists of the descriptions of the Thoth Cards themselves.

 

Section 1 : Background to the Thoth Tarot Deck

In this section he starts with information on the background to the Golden Dawn , the relationship of Aleister Crowley to Lady Frieda Harris (who did the paintings) and the Artwork itself.  He then goes on to outline the significance of the Book of The Law written by Aleister Crowley and the Three Aeons along with some channeling that happened to Mr Crowley and his wife.

All of these sections are extremely useful in giving the reader an insight into both Mr Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris and their work.

The next section is particularly good and consists of a detailed description of the Rose Cross which can be seen on the back of the Thoth Tarot Cards. He explains the different levels of construction of the Cross from the white point of light at the centre to its final unfoldment in the large cross and its associated symbology. His explanations and diagrams are clear and concise and its especially good that he links the cross to the macrocosm (creation) to the microcosm (individual). An example is shown in the diagram below :

Lon Milo Duquette

After the Rose Cross he has written chapters on the Tree of Life, The Golden Dawn Colour Scales and finishes with information on The Holy guardian Angel & Sex Magic to which Crowley refers in detail in his “Book of Thoth”. Again all of this information is very useful to the reader.

 

 

Section 2 : The Thoth Tarot Cards

(i) The Major Arcana

So now we get to the most important section of the book and this unfortunately is the weakest by far.

The section starts well with a clear explanation of the zodiac attributions of the Major Arcana and the double twist of the zodiac belt on  to explain the transposition of The Emperor and The Star and the Hebrew Letters in the Book of Thoth :

Lon Milo Duquette

 

Before going on to describe the Major Arcana Lon Milo Duquette states on p81:

“I have tried to the best of my ability to put off the scandals of presumption and keep my personal speculations and theories to an absolute minimum.”

Unfortunately this sets the tone for the rest of the book. What should have been a deep personal exploration of the cards is reduced to the superficial repetition of paraphrasing Crowley’s words for each card. He rarely offers any of his own views and insights and here lies my main gripe with the book. Since in the first chapter he states he is as qualified as anyone to discuss the Thoth Tarot having been part of the O.T.O for years, he then looses confidence and refuses to explore the cards in any depth and this is a great disappointment after all the build up in section one.

The amount of space offered for each card is too little in my opinion and this is made worse by the fact that he chooses to describe the original Golden Dawn card without actually giving us a picture of the card ! Im a big believer in a decent photo and the ones of the tarot cards in the book are small and are of poor quality.

There are some stand out points such as the notes between Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris for each card but again these are peripheral to the main feature which is the card itself. 

One noticeable exception is the Universe card in which he explains some of the geometry behind the painting.

Regrettably this is the exception rather than the rule  which is very frustrating.

 

 

(ii) The Aces and the Court Cards

His description of these start on page 162 and its a familiar pattern. He is great at providing an underlying philosophy for the cards, as he did in Section 1 but get to the description of the cards themselves and its woeful. 

On the left page above the sold line is all introduction , with some information on the Golden Dawn Card (which we dont have a picture of ). Below the solid line is mainly a long quote from Mr Crowley and so we have very little from Lon Milo Duquette himself. This pattern repeats to varying degrees throughout the minor arcana cards. In fairness he does give us a formula for working out the meanings of the cards for ourselves and gives us three examples under the title “Good News/Bad News” on page 211 however this still does not address the matter that he barely talks about the symbology of the cards at all, something that the Thoth Deck is most rich in.

 

 

Section 3: Divination & Card Meanings

This chapter essentially concludes the book and starts on page 274.  He states that 

“For the most part I have been faithful to the Crowley delivery system (i.e. copying what he said), and I do not intend to spoil that now by  giving Lon Milo DuQuette’s subjective thoughts on tarot spreads and the divinatory meanings of the Thoth Tarot”

So this chapter is pretty much an exact copy of The Book of Thoth in terms of the divination and card meanings which again comes across as very weak to me and having a lack of confidence in the subject matter.

 

 

(iv) Conclusion

This had the potential to be the most informative book on the Thoth Deck and it started well but he just seemed to run out of steam when he got to the cards themselves. From his quote 

“I have tried to the best of my ability to put off the scandals of presumption and keep my personal speculations and theories to an absolute minimum.”

 (p.81 Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot)  he just didn’t seem to have the confidence to express himself. The word ‘speculations’ is far weaker than ‘realisations’ which is worrying as he is supposed to be an authority of sorts on this work.

So overall, the book has some great moments and I would still recommend the book if you need information on the background to the Thoth Tarot but not if you are looking for information on the symbology and meaning of the cards themselves which is virtually absent. (2.5 out of 5 stars)


Lon Milo Duquette: Thoth Tarot Book Review

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