Review: Millennium Thoth Tarot – artwork by Renata Lechner

It’s here! The last deck in the Thelema trilogy with artwork by Renata Lechner and published by Lo Scarabeo. About a year ago I wrote my review of the Arcanum Tarot deck and now it is time for a review of the last deck in the series.

As with the other decks in the trilogy it comes with a nice box and a small booklet. The box is sturdy, and will protect your deck, so it isn’t necessary to get a tarot pouch for it. I find that to be a big plus. Besides the box itself is nice looking with images taken from the deck. I wonder if they are randomly chosen or if they are among the artist’s personal favourites. In my previous review I mentioned that I did not find the booklet that interesting. I don’t know if its writer Jaymi Elford read my review (probably not), but this time around the booklet is a whole lot more interesting.

This time it left me feeling quite impressed. I will not go into details of it, as I think you should get the deck if you find it interesting, however I will say as much that they present an elemental alignment spread. Instead of shuffling the whole deck together you shuffle each suit and the Major Arcana separately and position the cards in the formation of a pentagram. It’s a very interesting idea and I am looking forward trying it out for myself. It definitely felt like the booklet gave me something extra. Very nice!

Unlike the two previous decks in the trilogy, the Millennium Thoth Tarot is based upon Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot. The booklet provided points out the differences made by Aleister Crowley and the traditional RWS deck, which is great for those not already familiar with the Thoth deck. A bit sloppy though that his name is misprinted in the booklet. It’s a minor thing and not really something I care about, but it should have been possible to get it right.

Artwork and Symbolism:

The artwork continues with the same style as the previous decks in the trilogy with borderless cards and the title situated at the bottom of the card.

The artwork is of course based on the Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley, and those who are familiar with it, can recognize the artwork and symbolism from there. I cannot claim that I understand all of the symbolism in the Thoth Tarot, as it is very complex, and Aleister Crowley struggled to write simply. It seems to me though that Renata Lechner has done a good job with it. They are quite rich in symbolism, but there are a couple of cards where some elements from the original Thoth seem to be missing, For example the Lovers and the Aeon cards (The Aeon card looks absolutely stunning though!).

In my opinion these are also some of the most difficult cards to understand in the Thoth deck. Even Crowley himself states in the Book of Thoth that the Lovers and Art are two of the most obscure and difficult trumps. I also think a lot of people find the Aeon card hard to break into.

In any case, I don’t think you would get the Millennium Thoth Tarot unless you already have an interest in Crowley’s tarot, so it could make for some interesting comparison and contemplating sessions where you examine both decks at the same time. And I don’t think that there are differences will be any major issue. I find the deck to be quite true to the original symbolism of the Thoth Tarot.

As with the two previous decks in the trilogy I really like the visual style. Again, because of the art style some of them might come across with a bit of a feminine vibe (although maybe slightly less so than the previous two in the trilogy?). It’s not much of an issue though. The only card I personally don’t like so much is the Magus. He shows a lot of skin in Crowley’s version too, but as it is not as photo realistic it becomes less prominent. Here he reminds me a bit too much of the Knights of Flowers from the Game of Thrones TV-series.

The Court Cards also follow the Thoth Tarot with Princesses, Princes, Queens and Knights rather than the standard Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings from the RWS.

The Minor Arcana cards are also looking great, but I disagree a little with the design of these. The reason for that is that in Crowley’s Thoth the Minor Arcana cards had titles, but they have been omitted from the Millennium Thoth Tarot. The Minor Arcana cards in the Thoth deck is quite abstract compared to regular RWS tarot, so it makes it a lot more difficult to remember the cards. I find that the card title helps a little bit with it, but as they are omitted here it there will be quite a bit more to memorize. Abstract images are also more difficult to connect to intuitively.

Millennium Thoth Sample

The Magus, The Lovers and the Aeon from the Millennium Thoth Tarot

Conclusion:

The Millennium Thoth tarot is a great addition to my tarot collection, and it is probably a deck that I will be using quite a bit. Some decks I enjoy just because they look nice and never use them, but this one has plenty of interesting symbolism and great artwork. It is much prettier than the original Thoth, which is why I find it appealing to me.

I would not get it however, unless you already have the original Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley. It is somewhat necessary to remember the Minor Arcana titles from that deck, so it would be good to have both decks so that you can compare and see the similarities or else it is going to take a lot of difficult memorizing work to remember everything. The thing is that as they are so abstract, that I don’t find it that simple to connect to them intuitively.

In my previous review of the Arcanum Tarot, I suggested that you could mix the different cards you like the most of the trilogy. When I wrote that, I did not realize that the Millennium Thoth Tarot would be based this closely on the Crowley’s Thoth Tarot, so I would advice against that now. I suppose it is still possible, but it would feel a bit more messy now with different titles and the order of the Major Arcana not being the same.

The booklet also suggests that you need a little bit of patience with tarot, and I agree with that in particular for this deck. If you do give it some time and patience, I think that its deep symbolism and nice artwork will feel very rewarding. Just don’t choose it as your first tarot deck, as it may be a little bit on the complex side and might discourage you. If you are really interested in the Crowley Thoth Tarot, get that one first if you don’t have it already, then get the Millennium Thoth Tarot next.

All in all I am positively surprised by this deck. Unexpectedly it will probably stand out as my favorite deck in the trilogy, as I am using Crowley’s Thoth quite a bit. I had also not expected such a new (to me at least) idea in the booklet. So It was definitely worth getting for me.

MillenniumThoth Sample2

Millennium Thoth Tarot (2019) by Renata Lechner. Published by Lo Scarabeo.

The Secrets of the Runes

I think it is hard for me to avoid the mystery of the runes in the part of the world where I reside. So I decided to research a bit on the runes and learn how to use them for divination. It’s a bit cooler to be reading runes when you meet up with the local vikings, right? And for me with my heritage, it is simply something I see as must be done. So, I have decided to use the Elder Futhark runes, which is quite standard if you use runes for divination.

There are some fundamental things that I find important when it comes to reading runes for divination that I think would be useful for beginners to know. The ancient art of rune reading is unfortunately not something that history has preserved for us in an unbroken line. What we have today is an attempt at reconstruction and anyone claiming anything else would not be speaking the truth.

Having that said, I don’t find that very problematic. If you look at modern tarot practice there are as many ways to read tarot as there are readers. There is no reason to believe that it would have been any different for rune readers back in the days. As tarot readers interpret the cards differently, rune readers probably also interpreted the runes differently. It is an art, and to be good at it, you have to make it your own (and practice a lot).

I don’t subscribe to any idea that there is a clear and definite meaning for the runes. When working with tarot we are working with archetypes and it is the same when working with the runes. The keywords for tmodern rune reading come from the rune poems: the Icelandic, the Norwegian and the Anglo-Saxon rune poems. And this is also where it is appropriate to point out that the rune poems aren’t actually based on the Elder Futhark. There are 24 runes in the Elder Futhark and the rune poems describe 16 runes in the Icelandic and Norwegian versions and 26 in the Anglo-Saxon version. The Anglo-Saxon version also shows influences from Christianity. So this means that the rune poems are based on the Younger Futhark and all that we have left  for the Elder Futhark is an attempt at reconstruction. There may have been an older rune poem for Elder Futhark, but if so, it never survived.

There are various sites out there on the divinatory meaning of the runes, and I think it is important to realize that many have added their own personal interpretations. That is not to say that it is a bad thing, but it is important to know so that you don’t get stuck with what each rune means. It is the very same thing that make a lot of people struggle with tarot cards. Runes are arguably more difficult though, as there are no images to support your reading. My suggestion is to first start with memorizing the names of the runes and just a couple of keywords for each rune. Start with a notebook where you note down all the runes and the keywords and later on you can add your own if you find that it makes sense to you.

The reason I am writing this is that there has been a lot of false information over the years. Particularly during the 80s with New Age movement and pagan revival. Books and systems were being made without being completely honest about the motivation behind them and the origin of the material.

I think it is much better to be open about that it is a constructed system (tarot is also a constructed system), but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. In fact it means that magic is very much alive today. Perhaps it is meant to be something that is living and evolving and only then can you unlock the true potential and secrets of the runes. I will leave it at that and write another post about the nice set of runes that I got for myself. And perhaps later will I share some spreads that I find useful that I have created myself.

Thus spake the Night Spirit

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