Better Together: Thoth + Sun and Moon Tarot

Decks used: Sun and Moon Tarot (Vanessa Decort, US Games) and Thoth Tarot (Aleister Crowley and Frieda Harris, AGM Urania)

Decks used: Sun and Moon Tarot (Vanessa Decort, US Games) and Thoth Tarot (Aleister Crowley and Frieda Harris, AGM Urania)

If you've read any number of posts I've had up here, chances are, you've come across the story of my first experience with the tarot. The Thoth was my first purchase, I was 19 and wanted to do some "fortune telling" with my friends, and I had no idea what anything meant. The LWB was mysterious and incomprehensible, so I bought myself a How-To tarot book which, unfortunately made all its references to the Rider-Waite Smith system.

At that point, I gave up on the Thoth and tarot altogether, until I picked it up again many years later after dipping my feet into Lenormand, the Tarot of Jane Austen and the Wild Unknown. I didn't immediately go back to my Thoth deck even as I was becoming interested again in tarot, what did finally convince me to give it a second chance was a video I saw on trimming the deck. There are a ton of YouTube videos about trimming the edges off decks—that took me on a rabbit hole which convinced me to hack the borders off my deck, since I wasn't too invested in it anyway, and the moment I saw my freshly trimmed deck with Sharpie-edged sides, I knew I was going to connect to it, finally.

The Sun & Moon Tarot takes the essence of the Thoth and translates it into a much more accessible, modern version. I love the imagery of both for very different reasons. That said, the Sun & Moon Tarot's LWB gets a two thumbs up from me, while my Thoth LWB is buried under a bunch of books in my closet because I simply never use it.

The Sun & Moon Tarot takes the essence of the Thoth and translates it into a much more accessible, modern version. I love the imagery of both for very different reasons. That said, the Sun & Moon Tarot's LWB gets a two thumbs up from me, while my Thoth LWB is buried under a bunch of books in my closet because I simply never use it.

The thing about hacking the borders off your Thoth deck, which I did on impulse, is that you take away the key words and the labels. If you don't know your card images well, you could get yourself into a whole lot of head-scratching. My biggest challenge was the amount of time it took to count the "pips" on the minor arcana (reading was clearly not going to be seamless with this deck) and figuring out the courts.

If you haven't tried the Thoth deck, it'll be good for you to know that the Page-Knight-Queen-King order that the RWS follows is not how things go with the Thoth, which follows a Princess-Prince-Queen-Knight hierarchy that I must admit I haven't taken enough time to figure out just yet. After staring at these cards, shuffling them, and reordering them again and again (literally) just to memorize the images and their order, I noticed that the Knights were always paired with horses, the Princes were paired with chariot-looking images, and from there, you could pretty much tell the difference with a Princess and a Queen.

The Sun & Moon Tarot takes all the richness of the Thoth and distills everything into modern interpretations, which I absolutely enjoy looking at. The Sun & Moon takes a multi-cultural, multi-racial, adorably faceless approach to the images and makes them, at least to me, easier to absorb. What it also does is rename the courts so that it's not as mind numbing as the Thoth system (and just to be clear, I feel that confusion would definitely hit people who started learning with the RWS and not those who started out with the Thoth). In the photo above, you see the Princess of Swords in both decks looking similar but different. The Knight of Cups of the Thoth, however, is turned into the King of Cups—same image, different names (btw, the cups suit of this deck is my favorite!).

I haven't dug deep enough into the Thoth to crack it, and when I read with it I know I'm really staying on a very superficial level as far as foundations go, but what pulls me to this deck is its exacting use of color and geometry. Something about the angles and the curves, the hues and the shading, speaks to my subconscious in a way no other deck can. When I pull cards from the Thoth these days, I have my Sun & Moon right beside me so I can compare and contrast.

I like how the Hermit, for example, is fiery in the middle in the Thoth—surrounded by the cool tones of blue and light green of wheat. In the Sun & Moon on the other hand, they take that central color and let it explode into a burst of pink, orange and yellow. The mystery that the blue background gives, I feel, is still there—in the glyphs that decorate the wall behind the Hermit. The Ten of Cups in the Thoth, on the other hand is bursting with fiery radiance, while its Sun & Moon counterpart is cool-toned and calm… save for the man and woman in the middle of the sea, whose position and interaction does manage to evoke stoking fire and bliss too.

I nerd out a lot with these two decks (as you can imagine!), which is why I only do this with smaller readings. I can't imagine pulling 10 cards out and having the exact same spread reflected in a whole other deck, it would simply take too long to read. If I want a legitimate reading that isn't for academic purposes, I tend to pull the Sun & Moon, but when I'm in the mood for a bit of some Sherlock mind palace action, I take my time really looking at two cards side by side.

In any case, if you're thinking about diving into the Thoth which I feel is a good exercise no matter where you're coming from, it'll do you well to grab the Sun & Moon too. Perspective is always helpful, after all.