The Tarot of the Bohemians by Papus is one of the most influential Tarot books to come out of France. AE Waite translated it from the French, and it is quite possible that Aleister Crowley was inspired to name his own deck 'The Book of Thoth', after the same title that appears several times in Papus' book. Given the importance of this book, it is surprising the silence maintained by Waite and Crowley on the structure of Tarot that Papus uses. Modern Tarot students know that the 78 cards can be modeled on either the Tree of Life or the astrological decanate system, but Papus models the entire 78 cards on the triplicity of Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis, where the product can be developed in the final Heh of YHVH. The Princess of Pentacles is particularly important in the Book of Thoth, as She is 'on the brink of transformation', a key phrase that echoes a common thread running through Tarot of the Bohemians.

Major Arcana

Below is the French attributions of the Major Arcana as used by Papus.

Major Arcana Attributions

1 A The Juggler -

2 B The Priestess Moon

3 G The Empress Venus

4 D The Emperor Jupiter

5 H The Pope Aries

6 V The Lovers Taurus

7 Z The Chariot Gemini

8 Ch Justice Cancer

9 T The Hermit Leo

10 Y The Wheel of Fortune Virgo

11 K Strength Mars

12 L The Hanged Man Libra

13 M Death Water

14 N Temperance Scorpio

15 S The Devil Sagittarius

16 O Lightning Struck Tower Capricorn

17 P The Star Mercury

18 Tz The Moon Aquarius

19 Q The Sun Gemini

20 R Judgment Saturn

0 Sh The Fool Fire

21 Th The World 4 elements

The Minor Cards

Papus used the system of Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis to develop the divinatory meanings of the Minor cards.

The Dialectic and the Minor Cards

1 Commencement of Commencement Knight

2 Opposition

3 Equilibrium

4 Commencement of Opposition Queen

5 Opposition

6 Equilibrium

7 Commencement of Equilibrium Prince

8 Opposition

9 Equilibrium

10 Undetermined The card which follows will explain it Princess

The tables below show how Papus developed the system for the Minor Cards in the interpretation.

Wands: Creation, enterprise

1 Commencement

Commencement of an Enterprise

2 Opposition

Opposition to the commencement of the Enterprise. The enterprise is commenced when an unexpected obstacle suddenly prevents its execution

3 Equilibrium

Realization of the commencement of the enterprise. The basis of the work is now definitely established, and the undertaking can be fearlessly continued.

4 Commencement

Obstacles to the enterprise. Nothing can be accomplished without obstacles. We therefore find them appearing, and must prepare ourselves to overcome them.

5 Opposition

Opposition to the obstacles. Victory after surmounting them

6 Equilibrium

Realization of the opposition. At last the obstacles succeed. Failure of the enterprise in the midst of its execution.

7 Commencement

Certain success of the enterprise.

8 Opposition

Opposition to its success. The enterprise will only partially succeed

9 Equilibrium

Realization of success. Success is continued.

10 Undetermined

Uncertainty in the management of the enterprise

Cups: Preservation, love, instruction

1 Commencement

Commencement of a love affair

2 Opposition

Opposition to this commencement. Unimportant obstacles raised by one of the lovers

3 Equilibrium

Realization of this commencement. The love is mutual

4 Commencement

Serious obstacles to the love. They arise from other persons, not from the lovers

5 Opposition

Opposition to the obstacles. Victory over the obstacles after a struggle

6 Equilibrium

The obstacles triumph. Love destroyed in the midst of happiness. Widowhood

7 Commencement

Success assured to the lovers

8 Opposition

Partial failure of love. Love only partially succeeds

9 Equilibrium

10 Undetermined

Uncertainty in the management of the love affair

Swords Transformation, hatred, war

1 Commencement

Commencement of enmity

2 Opposition

Opposition to this commencement. The enmity does not last

3 Equilibrium

Realization of the enmity. Hatred

4 Commencement

Opposition to the hatred. Success against the enemy

5 Opposition

Opposition to this opposition. The enemy triumphs at the moment one fancies that the victory is secured

6 Equilibrium

Equilibrium of the opposition. The enemy is rendered powerless at last

7 Commencement

Success assured to the enemy

8 Opposition

Partial opposition to this success. The enemy only partially triumphs

9 Equilibrium

Certain duration of the hatred

10 Undetermined

Uncertainty in the enemy

Disks: Development, money, trade

1 Commencement

Commencement of fortune. Inheritance, gifts, economy, etc

2 Opposition

Opposition to this commencement. Difficulty in well establishing the first landmarks of good fortune

3 Equilibrium

Realization of the commencement of fortune. A small sum

4 Commencement

Opposition of fortune. Loss of money

5 Opposition

Opposition to this opposition. A success coming which will balance the loss

6 Equilibrium

Realization of the opposition. Ruin

7 Commencement

Success assured. A large fortune

8 Opposition

Partial success. Great loss of money at the moment apparently of definitely

securing the fortune

9 Equilibrium

Equilibrium of Equilibrium. A durable fortune

10 Undetermined

Uncertainty in the fortune. Great success and great reverses

The Court Cards

Reading Elemental Dignities, we always read a minimum of three cards, however there are other descriptions and techniques within Tarot. In fact the whole structure of Tarot can analysed using this fundamental technique. As you can see, there are various ways of describing the same process.

Papus' "The Tarot of the Bohemians" explores the Trinity in great detail, but is not that well known amongst modern Tarot readers. The Court Cards are best understood in the table below, where the Mother/Father/Child trinity can be expanded to the Knight/Queen/Prince and Princess.

Knight Wands

A dark man, a friend. Married man, father of a family.

Queen Wands

A dark woman, a friend. A serious woman, a good counsellor, a mother of a family.

Prince Wands

A dark young man, a friend.

Princess Wands

A dark child, a friend. A message from a near relation.

Knight Cups

A fair man, a friend. A barrister, judge, or ecclesiastic. A bachelor.

Queen Cups

A fair woman, a friend. The woman loved. The Mistress.

Prince Cups

A young fair man, a friend. The young man loved. The Lover.

Princess Cups

A fair child. A messenger. Birth.

Knight Swords

A dark, bad man. A soldier, a powerful enemy, who must be distrusted.

Queen Swords

A dark, wicked woman. Her actions, gossip and calumnies.

Prince Swords

A dark young man, a friend.

Princess Swords

A child, an enemy. Bad news. Delay.

Knight Disks

A fair man, inimical or indifferent.

Queen Disks

A fair woman, indifferent or inimical.

Prince Disks

A young, fair man. A stranger. An arrival.

Princess Disks

A fair child. A messenger. A letter.