The Cardinal Importance of Names: Aleister Crowley and the Creation of a Tarot for the New Aeon

Abstract Aleister Crowley’s The Book of Thoth makes four substantive changes to the traditional titles of the tarot trumps. Three of these relate to the cardinal virtues which had remained in the deck despite the almost complete esoteric revisioning of the tarot that had taken place over the precedi...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Aries
Main Author: Fletcher, Matthew
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: Brill 2021
In: Aries
Year: 2021, Volume: 21, Issue: 1, Pages: 94-124
Standardized Subjects / Keyword chains:B Crowley, Aleister 1875-1947 / Cardinal virtues / Crowley-Thoth tarot / Crowley, Aleister 1875-1947, The book of Thoth / Crowley, Aleister 1875-1947, The book of the law
IxTheo Classification:AA Study of religion
AZ New religious movements
Further subjects:B New Aeon
B The Book of Thoth
B Tarot
B Cardinal virtues
B Thelema
B Aleister Crowley
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Summary:Abstract Aleister Crowley’s The Book of Thoth makes four substantive changes to the traditional titles of the tarot trumps. Three of these relate to the cardinal virtues which had remained in the deck despite the almost complete esoteric revisioning of the tarot that had taken place over the preceding two centuries; the fourth is an integral part of the same topic. This article focuses on why Crowley felt impelled to make these changes as well as the significance of the new names (and associated iconography). The discussion centres around Crowley’s rejection of the cardinal virtues that underly Christian ethics in favour of the new system of morality laid out in The Book of the Law and subsequently encapsulated in Thelema. Consequently, the article first examines the development of the cardinal virtues in patristic and medieval theology and then shows how Crowley sought to overturn these values in his agenda of cultural reprogramming of which The Book of Thoth arguably constitutes the high-water mark.
ISSN:1570-0593
Contains:Enthalten in: Aries
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1163/15700593-02101001