B.O.T.A. tarot deck

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The B.O.T.A. Tarot was created by Paul Foster Case, founder of B.O.T.A. and artist Jessie Burns Parke. Although the B.O.T.A. tarot is based upon, and for the most part closely resembles, Arthur Edward Waite's 1910 Rider-Waite deck,[1] Paul Foster Case changed what he said were mistakes or "blinds" in the Rider-Waite edition.[2][3][4] The BOTA tarot deck is presented in two forms: a standard-sized full deck containing both the Major and Minor Arcana; and a larger version containing only the Major ("trump" cards). P.F. Case often called the BOTA tarot trumps 'tarot keys'. Each of the BOTA cards has a border of a particular color, which is the color that is associated with the card in the writings of P.F. Case.

Every BOTA card has a hebrew letter written on it in the lower right corner, which is the letter that is associated with the card in the writings of P.F. Case. In contrast to earlier occult tarot decks, which place the fool card last in order, and associate it with the second-to-last hebrew letter, shin (such decks order the last hebrew letter, tav, before shin), the BOTA deck places the fool card first in order, and therefore associates it with the first hebrew letter, aleph. The BOTA deck also orders shin before tav, in the correct order of hebrew letters.

Differences with the Rider-Waite deck[edit]

All of the illustrations on the cards of the BOTA deck differ in at least some minor way from those of the Rider-Waite deck, but some cards contrast much more than others.

The card that contrasts the most between the two decks is the death card. In the Rider-Waite deck, the death card depicts death as an armored knight on a horse, carrying a banner, whereas in the BOTA deck, the death card depicts death as a bare skeleton with a scythe, with a red sky in the background, being based upon the death card of the Marseille tarot deck.

In the Rider-Waite deck, the sun card depicts a nude child on a horse, carrying a dull-red banner, whereas in the BOTA deck, the sun card depicts two nude children standing in a field, being based upon the sun card of the Marseille tarot deck.

The Tarot Tableau[edit]

In his book The Tarot, Case published the Hebrew letter attributions of the Golden Dawn for the first time. Also made public was the tarot tableau, a pattern for laying out all of the tarot cards which reveals certain relationships and dissimilarities among them. This tableau was used by the American branch of Alpha et Omega when Case was the 'praemonstrator' (chief instructor) of that order's Thoth-Hermes lodge in Chicago. The tarot tableau is an arrangement of the 22 major arcana cards into 4 horizontal rows that span across 7 vertical columns. On the top row there is only the fool card, in the center of the row. Rows two through four consist of 7 cards each, arranged in sequential order, such that cards 1 through 7 are on row two, cards 8 through 14 are on row three, and cards 15 through 21 are on row four.

Use in meditation and intuition[edit]

B.O.T.A. repeatedly emphasizes that tarot cards are primarily a tool for meditation, not fortune-telling. P.F. Case invented a new, non-magical definition for the word 'divination', his new definition being "the use of spiritual intuition to find solutions to problems". After explaining the B.O.T.A. method for tarot divination in his book titled 'The Tarot, A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages', Case specifically explains the differences between this particular type of divination and fortune-telling. Case then closes with the warning: "Finally, let me reiterate the thought that this is not to be used for vulgar fortune telling, or to amuse a party of friends. If you yield to the temptation so to abuse this information, you will pay for it in the loss of all power of true divination, and probably in the loss of ability to control the higher rates of psychic vibration."[5]

The BOTA tarot deck and the Cube of Space[edit]

The Tarot was the first published book to reveal almost all of the tarot attributions on the 'Cube of Space' diagram. There are 22 major arcana tarot cards, which correspond to 22 components of the Cube of Space.

The Sepher Yetzirah is the source of the link between the Cube of Space and the Hebrew letters.[6] The Sepher Yetzirah itself does not directly mention a 'cube of space', nor any kind of cube. Case based the Cube of Space upon two verses in the Sepher Yetzirah. One of those verses is in chapter 4 and the other verse is in chapter 5. The verse in chapter 4 associates 6 hebrew letters with six cardinal directions (up, down, east, west, north, south). The verse in chapter 5 associates 12 hebrew letters with either 12 diagonal directional 'arms' or 12 diagonal boundaries (different translations contradict each other), which would refer to the 12 edges of an octahedron, though Paul Foster Case interpreted these as the 12 edges of a cube.

P.F. Case furthermore associated this 'Cube of Space' with the 'Tree of Life' of Kabbala. He based that association upon paragraph 95 of the Sepher Ha-Bahir. That paragraph does not actually mention the Tree of Life though, but simply a tree. Paragraph 95 states that a tree is inside the twelve diagonal boundary lines that are mentioned in the Sepher Yetzirah. Because the Tree of Life consists of 10 sephiroth, P.F. Case associated the three 'mother' letters (aleph, mem, shin) and seven 'double' letters of the Sepher Yetzirah with ten corresponding sephiroth.

Until the publication of The Tarot, most English-speaking occultists had never heard of Case's Cube of Space concept, much less were they aware of how it related to the much better-known 'Tree of Life' diagram.[7] In fact, until the mid-1990s, there were almost no other books in print which even mentioned the Cube of Space. The ones that do defer to Case's writings on the subject.[7][8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ White, Douglass A. Thoth and the Tarot, pp. 13-14
  2. ^ Case, Paul Foster. The Tarot, A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages.
  3. ^ Case, Paul Foster. Highlights of Tarot.
  4. ^ Case, Paul Foster. The Book of Tokens, Tarot Meditations.
  5. ^ Case, Paul Foster. The Tarot, A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages. pp 223
  6. ^ Kaplan, Aryeh. Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation in Theory and Practice.
  7. ^ a b Townley, Kevin. The Cube of Space: Container of Creation
  8. ^ Hulse, David Allen. New Dimensions for the Cube of Space: The Path of Initiation Revealed by the Tarot upon the Qabalistic Cube.

Bibliography[edit]

Writings of Case and others regarding the B.O.T.A. Tarot deck

  • Case, Paul Foster. The Book of Tokens, Tarot Meditations.
  • Case, Paul Foster. The Tarot, A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages.
  • Case, Paul Foster. Highlights of Tarot.
  • Davies, Ann. Inspirational Thoughts on the Tarot.
  • Hulse, David Allen. New Dimensions for the Cube of Space: The Path of Initiation Revealed by the Tarot upon the Qabalistic Cube.
  • Jayanti, Amber. Living the Tarot.
  • Lotterhand, Jason C. The Thursday Night Tarot.
  • Townley, Kevin. The Cube of Space: Container of Creation.
  • Townley, Kevin. Meditations on the Cube of Space.

External links[edit]

Online resources[edit]

Online resources discussing or using the B.O.T.A. Tarot deck