poussin_blind_orionTarot has its own mythology, one that bothers me.

Over the centuries, Tarot cards have evolved from a game into a divination tool, and in some of its best incarnations, an accurate model of Universal Law, as well as a complete guidebook to being human and surviving in society.

An invaluable tool for the Magician, Tarot is just as useful to the casual dabbler in the arts, because it teaches the practitioner as it’s used.

On top of all this, Tarot is still a popular game played by card aficionados all over the world.

Tarot is anything but boring. There are numerous deck designs available with varied takes on symbolism, artwork and deeply personal visions of the cards and what they represent. This is a testament to the power of Tarot to capture the imagination and inspire the creativity of seekers everywhere.

I bought my first deck of Tarot cards 50 years ago. It would take another 11 years before I would buy the deck that would change my understanding of the cards, myself and my life. That shift came when I first purchased the Aleister Crowley Thoth Deck.

40 years later, I’m still studying that deck and am constantly flabbergasted by the new information that comes my way. Crowley was controversial, but there’s absolutely no question that he was a genius of the highest order and one of the most influential occultists of his, or any other, time.

His deck is a Magician’s Tarot. His Magical world was skillfully and deliberately encoded into the 78 cards that mirrored his ontology.

Crowley’s deck is only one of thousands of Tarot designs that have been created over the centuries. New decks are designed all the time, some qualifying as actual Tarot and others missing that mark. To be called a Tarot deck, there are specific concepts that must be present. The absence of these concepts doesn’t negate the efficacy of the deck in question, but simply necessitates their being designated as Oracle Decks, rather than Tarot.

Some call me a purist, others much worse names, but the truth is that once an understanding is gained of what Tarot is and what it is not, the differences between accurate depictions in the cards and those that are simply caricatures become crystal clear.

Often, the mythology that surrounds Tarot is the culprit in detracting from its ability to educate aspiring students of the mysteries.

In my opinion, the myth that does the most harm to Tarot, surrounds the origins of the deck and the erroneous belief that Tarot is somehow a direct descendent of the ancient Egyptian mysteries. I’m of Egyptian heritage and would be happier than a plate of Hummus and Falafel if I could say it were true, but it just isn’t so.

While it’s exciting to believe that Tarot is a living link to the Magical and spiritual tradition of my ancestors, it also insults and ignores the memories of those brave men and women who spent countless hours deciding how to transform pieces of cardboard into one of the most important occult treatises known to mankind.

The stories and myths of secret cabals, passing along information while directing the destinies of civilizations, muddy the reality of the dedication and bravery of people, just like you and me, who sought to perfect the art and understanding of the mysteries of life and death. These good people were persecuted, imprisoned and worse for the knowledge they courageously defended. Theirs is a legacy that’s too important to minimize.

The Tarot, as a specific branch of metaphysics, reveals remarkable and startling information. The Hebrew alphabet is present and accounted for. That alphabet reflects numbers which, when properly manipulated, reveal great secrets. The alphabet also provides symbolism, based upon the glyphs of the letters themselves, that further instruct the wise and confound the profane. Numbers are explained. Through the deck, we can discover the Tree of Life, represented as a tool for self development. This Tree also gives us an accurate model of the heliocentric solar system, as well as the Universe beyond.

The interaction of the Elemental forces, as well as our connections with them, is clearly outlined. This understanding alone can change our lives for the better.

The deck reveals numerous stories and mythologies taken from the myriads of cultures that have preceded us. A proper study of the Tarot encourages us to read these mythologies and sacred books, in order to learn about the people who believed and still believe in them, thereby giving us a much clearer image of the human experience. It is only through this understanding that we can hope to help each other.

The creators of Tarot, as we know it today, were courageous explorers of the spiritual and mystical worlds who saw a divine reflection of order in the seeming chaos of Nature. They refused to believe that there was a lack of meaning and consciousness in the singularly valuable gift of being alive on this planet.

Tarot is a celebration of life and is devoid of dogma and pedantic thinking, or at least should be. This is proven by the fact that an atheist can use the deck as well as the most devout follower of any spiritual belief system.

Tarot spoke to me when I was a child in a language that I could understand, because it communicates the meaning and importance of an interactive and happy existence, as well as life’s unbreakable rules, something we are never too young to learn.

There’s no doubt that something remarkable happened as Tarot was created, transformed and refined . Even though Tarot should optimally be changed for the next Aeon, it’ll work long into the age of Aquarius and beyond, mainly because it isn’t a reflection of a particular time or culture. Rather, Tarot is a representation of everything that we are now, have been and will be.

To me, such an accomplishment needs to be fully recognized and appreciated as the result of unflinching dedication, hard work and ingenuity, not some myth that claims a pedigree that overlooks the fact that we stand upon the shoulders of giants.

I love mythology, but give me the truth any day of the week, that and some Baba Ghanoosh.


Mo will be speaking on “Decoding the Magic in the Thoth Tarot” at TarotCon Denver 2015. Visit our Speakers page for the full line-up of presentations and workshops.


About the Author

Of Egyptian heritage, Mo Abdelbaki has been a student of the mysteries for over fifty years and has been a professional consultant for over thirty. His intensive studies have encompassed Tarot, Vedic Astrology, I-Ching, Hermetic Qabalism, Runes and numerous other spiritual systems. Mo’s lifelong quest into all things metaphysical has provided him with a powerful intuition and accurate tools with which he has guided thousands of clients worldwide.

As a teacher, Mo has taught thousands in the proper use of Tarot, astrology and other divination methods. Mo currently hosts a weekly radio show on 12Radio called, “Out of Mo’s Mind” and writes a column of the same name in “Mark’s Power Peek.” He rarely makes public appearances but has recently come out of his cave to share with those who seek. Like any awakening bear, he can be a bit testy at times.

For information, please visit MoAbdelbaki.com.

© 2015 by Mo Abdelbaki. All rights reserved.

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2 thoughts on “The Shoulders of Giants

  • February 14, 2015 at 9:13 am

    this is a beautiful essay, and tribute to tarot. thank you. i wanted more about the giants and their shoulders… or perhaps a different title… i assume this is an introduction to the real deal, which is yet to come. as you know, there is much more that is left to be said.
    the essay itself is a tribute–inspiring, and well written. facts with the falafel, please…

    • February 14, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, Deb. Falafel facts: My mom used split peas and never added cumin to hers and it was wonderful.


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