The Tarot of Ceremonial Magick is both deceptively simple, and deceptively complicated.
-- It is deceptively complicated, since it has such a complete set of correspondences on the cards - astrological symbols and other details, Goetic sigils, Enochian squares, and even, on some cards, I Ching Trigrams!
-- It is also deceptively simple - the colors are simple watercolors and most resemble those of a deck handpainted by a student in a magical order as part of his or her initiatory process, with some colors even unevenly applied. Far from searching for archetypal cultural or cross-cultural facial features, most of the male faces in this deck bear a surprising resemblance to the deck's author, and the female faces bear a surprisingly resemblance to his wife! (The Magician card seems to resemble someone else entirely.)
Surely this deck is the creation either of a pedant who ran wild throwing every occult symbol and correspondence he could find onto the cards!
Or surely this deck is the creations of a fledgling student, an amateur artist, necessary for his advancement up the ranks, put together with no expectation of publication!
And we should also ask: does the accompanying book, the Tarot of Ceremonial Magick (Tarot of Ceremonial Magick: A Pictorial Synthesis of Three Great Pillars of Magick) explain the deck and go far beyond it (how detailed can a mere deck of cards be, after all)?
Or does the actual deck go so far beyond the book, that the book is just a (relatively!) trivial footnote to the actual deck?
Having dwelled with the deck as an unruly companion since its first publication by US Games, and current republication by Thelesis Aura LLC (I own one copy of each edition), I now believe the Tarot of Ceremonial Magick deck is more akin to a complete curriculum of Ceremonial Magick than anything else. To _practicing_ the Magick, not to laying in the foundations of knowledge and intuition (I didn't say _just_ to laying in the foundations, because _every_ step in esoteric/occult education and practice is such a daunting and difficult one).
The classic Rider-Waite Tarot Deck (The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck), designed under the direction of one of the founders of the Golden Dawn, first introduced the world to a reasonably usable esoteric Tarot deck fairly close in design to the designs used in the Golden Dawn by the inner order members (the earlier esoterically inclined Papus deck mis-attributed the letters to the cards, effectively undermining their value to both initiates and serious students); the Thoth Tarot (Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck) was a thunder bolt issued from To Mega Therion's brow to shatter our expectations and usher in the new "Aeon" according to Crowley's vision of a tectonic shift in human consciousness (if that sounds dramatic - and it is intended to sound dramatic - you only have to examine the Thoth Tarot to recognize what a powerful force it is); but Bishop (he is a Gnostic Bishop!) Duquette's Tarot does not have to shatter any walls, that has been done by Crowley, nor does Bishop Duquette need to coyly hide any secrets - the great secret of Magick is that most people who are unsuited to it instinctively avoid it, those who are inclined to it but are lazy never put in the work, and those who _do_ put in the work, have by that simple effort earned the "right" (right in the esoteric sense of not casting pearls before swine) to hear the truth. Not to mention that the work itself melts out the dross in them.
So, then, simply put, the Tarot of Ceremonial Magick is simply the Tarot of - cough - CEREMONIAL MAGICK!
Incredible. Put the very utility of the deck into its title so people's consciousness will simply elide over the meaning not hidden there, but broadly announced.
This is not a Tarot for arm chair students who collect but never use knowledge. (Although its study will give you the very bones of Magick - of the Qabalah, Enochian, and Goetia.)
This is not a Tarot for cartomancy, telling fortunes (although its "neutral" tone makes it well suited for such purposes, not to mention the abundance of information actually encapsulated in each card, from suites to court to trumps, makes them much easier to "read" than other decks, including much easier to read than decks with suggestive pictures and even summary meanings printed on the small cards).
This is a Tarot for the aspiring, practicing, or accomplished Magickian.
The Magickian who does as many psychic exercises as ceremonial (Initiation into Hermetics).
The Magickian who practices Enochian magick (Enochian World of Aleister Crowley & Enochian Vision Magick: An Introduction and Practical Guide to the Magick of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley).
The Magickian who practices Legemeton (Key of Solomon) medieval ceremonial magic and it's modern magickal variants (Aleister Crowley's Illustrated Goetia, The Goetia: The Lesser Key of Solomon the King: Lemegeton - Clavicula Salomonis Regis, Book 1, and Daemonolatry Goetia).
The Magickian who practices a modern curriculum (The Magick of Aleister Crowley: A Handbook of the Rituals of Thelema).
The Magickian who pieces together the threads of Master Therion's (Aleister Crowley's) order, the A.'.A.'. (Magick: Liber ABA (Book 4)).
There are many decks which are excellent for fortune telling. Some card readers have an outer, party deck, for the most public of occasions, like parties; some have decks they will only pull out for the faithful (those who will not question or mock); and some have decks they will only pull out for themselves. Most decks are excellent for developing intuition / psychic powers; for helping dream awareness and control; for "astral projection" (envisioning a waking dream based on passing into a portal whose door is one of the cards); for counseling (in the wholistic / shamanistic / bff senses); for an easy entry into the Qabalah.
This deck is amazingly simple - refreshingly innocent and in its coloring almost "naive" in a Parsifal-ian sense - yet the inclusion of both Enochian, in a clear and simple, and soundly logical fashion; plus the inclusion of all relevant astrological information; plus the inclusion of all the Day and Night spirits of the Goetia - is simply unique in the annals of Tarot publishing.
All that and yet it is also as clear, bright and visually appealing as the most popular decks, like the Rider-Waite and its variants (Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot, Albano-Waite Tarot Deck, and Universal Waite Tarot by Kaplan, Stuart).
As much connected to, and derived from, a legitimate magickal order as the Golden Dawn Tarot Deck, the Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.) Tarot Deck, and the Golden Dawn Magical tarot deck & book by Cicero/ Cicero.
And as much a personal magickal statement as the king of all decks, the Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck.
If Crowley's deck shattered the barriers to the new Aeon, Duquette's deck undertakes the massive task of cleaning the resulting mess out of the Augean Stables.
Duquette's deck was hard to accept at first. Now that the stables have been cleaned, the beauty of this deck is clear.
Comment on the new edition: except for the box, virtually indistinguishable from the original. Printed in Korea. LWB (little white book, the inserted summary instructions included in the pack of cards) ably explains ALL MAJOR POINTS of Duquette's companion book. I can't recommend substituting the LWB for the BCB (big conventional book) but once you have read the companion book, the LWB will remind you of ALL salient points. It also has some very pithy and helpful "meanings" for the cards when used in divination as well as the best summary and explanation of the most popular spread used in divination, the so-called "Celtic cross" which is MUCH simpler than the original Golden Dawn system which can take hours to complete.
Highly recommended, even at the premium pricing (about 45) commanded by the current small specialty publisher, Thelesis Aura (see Duquette's own review of this deck on the new publisher).
_____________________ original title and review follow (from 1999)
[Original title: Best Deck Since Ciceros' Golden Dawn Tarot]
IMHO, there are basically four kinds of Tarot decks out there: historical decks, dating back to the Renaissance (and their modern re-drawings); visionary decks, ranging from the sublime (Thoth Tarot by Crowley) to the slightly ridiculous (Tarot of the Cats); correspondence decks, which conglomerate various occult symbols (such as astrological and kabbalistic symbols); and magical order decks (such as the Rider-Waite deck, the Thoth deck by AC, the Golden Dawn deck by the Ciceros).
Of course some decks cross over the boundaries, being visionary, including copious correspondences (not just suggestive imagery) and having their roots in a bona fide magical order.
Duquette's new deck is just such a deck; it is weighted heavily towards correspondences, so much so that its author calls it 777 (a famous book of correspondences)on cards. However it also includes very workable images which can trigger the imagination, good key words and divinatory meanings. And, it is the product of a reputable member of a magical order.
The frosting on the cake is the incorporation of the Goetic images and Enochian images.
I think this would be an excellent deck for divination (it works for me) while also conditioning the subconscious to several families of potent symbols.
I highly recommend it.