The bifrost Tarot is an occult deck, a modern offspring of The Book of Thoth with more than a hint of RWS style. Firmly rooted in the Thoth tradition, bifrost is like an update of the Thoth deck, adding the influence of several of Crowley’s most distinguished followers such as Timothy Leary.
The bifrost Tarot was painted during January through December 2006. This project was the natural progression of long-term spiritual training. Upon completion of a certain major occult ritual, it is traditional to design (or at least copy) a Tarot deck.
bifrost is strongly influenced by occult figures who followed in Aleister Crowley’s path, with a particular emphasis on the time period of the 1960s. The ’60s could be considered the peak of the apocalyptic age. Not to be seen as the proverbial “end of the world” scenario in which everybody dies in some kind of nuclear holocaust, the Apocalypse is more of a transitional process in which one way of life comes to an end and another is born. The axis of the Apocalypse transpired during the ’60s.
One of the cult groups that flourished during the ’60s was known as The Process. At the core of Processean theology were 4 prime diametrically opposed deities. The 4 deities were not thought of so much as gods as they were psychological archetypes. Members were assigned personality types composed of a combination of the 2 main deities with whom they personally idenfied. bifrost works in much the same manner as this, a somewhat scientific method of spirituality.
There are a few things about the bifrost that may make it seem controversial, but most of this is fairly easy to explain:
First I will address the nude court cards. The court cards are based on the Thoth system. However, the Prince-Queen pairs also work with another system of classifying personality types known as the LaVey Personality Synthesizer. Since the LPS uses body shape as a means of identifying one’s general type of personality, it is important to show the dimensions of the bodies as clearly as possible. Rendering the courts nude also avoids any kind of fashion statements. Flagrant nudity is reminiscent of the 1960s, the apocalyptic climax that Crowley had spent his life setting the table for. bifrost is particularly influenced by the occultists and cult activity that took place during this period. I was not concerned so much with addressing the unfortunate shame that modern man feels for his physical form. To me, there’s no better way to symbolize the Tarot’s goal of unlocking the mysteries of the Arcana than to shamelessly uncover the “secrets” of the court cards. Those who are not prepared to discover secrets should not use this Tarot or any other.
Then there is the matter of the swastika. The clockwise swastika represents the sun and Tiphareth. I prefer this solar symbol to the popular phallic version, not that I don’t appreciate the male qualities of the sun, but because of the gnostic symbolism in the swastika. I consider it tragic that in modern culture the swastika invokes nothing more than a hateful image of Nazi Germany, when this great symbol has been used by many cultures all through history. This symbol stands for the number 6, the number of man. The swastika also represents Abrasax, the 4 seasons, and the totality of time.
Personally I find the hypocritical self-righteousness of “sophisticated” modern man repulsive. In arrogant ignorance, the common man makes personal judgements according to how he feels things should be, in accord with a miniscule self-centered perception. “Do What Thy Wilt” does not simply mean “do what you want.” It is the 1 commandment – the unification of one’s personal will with that of the divine. In order for mankind to move forward, it must learn to control the impulse for egocentric judgement in favor of understanding and accepting the holistic perspective of divine will. This is divination. bifrost was made for divination and self-introspection, not for fortune-telling.
The 2 extra cards in the deck present another area of confusion. bifrost is the first (and to the best of my knowledge, the only) Tarot to reflect the wisdom of Timothy Leary. The Black Hole and The Aeon have been added to fulfill the system of 24 which was proposed by Dr. Timothy Leary. Leary claimed there were extra Major Arcana cards that were yet to be revealed, as mankind had yet to unlock those new awarenesses. At the end of the Majors, 2 extra cards now reveal the pathway home – to break the cycle of reincarnation and move forward to the next level. Leary posited the idea that the Major Arcana is actually a blueprint of mankind’s growth both as an individual and as a species, beginning with infancy at The Fool, with the goal of ascension to godhood, The Singularity. To gain better understanding of the modernized occult awareness of the 24 keys, read The Game of Life ©1979 by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.
One last major area of confusion concerning the Book of Thoth may be due to conclusions drawn from fragments of gnostic scriptures. Since the more recent discovery of the Nag Hammadi codices, it is evident that mistakes were made, perhaps not in the art, but in terminology. For example, in The Book of Thoth, Crowley names the lion-serpent seen flying above the tower Abraxas. It’s not hard to guess how he could have made such an error, considering the mere shreds of gnostic scriptures that were available in those days. Ironically, immediately after Crowley’s death the Nag Hammadi codices were unearthed, revealing the lion-serpent to be the demiurge (the creator of the physical reality) otherwise known as Ialdabaoth to Gnostics – and as Jehovah to the uninitiated. Abrasax is in fact the guardian of the highest heaven, the epitome of spiritual awareness – quite the antithesis of the self-centered monster-god of supreme ignorance. The figure of Abrasax holds a shield which is Ialdabaoth, the sun.
Awareness of these and other issues gave me a strong desire to update the Thoth in a version reflecting modern spiritual understandings. Since the era of Aleister Crowley, many things have happened in the spiritual underground that could be called the world of the occult. A lot of important figures have come and gone, most of them ignored or greatly misunderstood. It was my goal to make a Tarot in the highest mystical tradition. The Tarot is a sacred oracle that reflects what man has come to understand about his place in the universe. For a spiritually-oriented Tarot to be true to its name, its seed must be planted by an angel.
The text on this page is reprinted from Tarotsmith here: https://tarotsmith.com/decks/bifrosttarot.
Jeremy Lampkin’s links: