B.O.T.A. Tarot decks and instruction - House of White Tarot Museum & Research Library
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B.O.T.A. Tarot decks and instruction

Paul Foster Case was a member of the Chicago branch of the Golden Dawn (the organization that is responsible for Waite’s tarot revolution) from 1918 to January of 1922, when Samuel Mathers gave him the boot (as the old guy was prone to do when his authority was questioned). The reasons are long (this was a process in the making for quite some time) and varied, depending on to whom you would inquire, but the end-result is this: PFC (“Case”) left the GD (Golden Dawn) to found a course based on the exact teachings of the GD (but now with more Kabbalah!). This “new” course 😉 was “The School of Ageless Wisdom’s” primary course, and with a cool name like that who wouldn’t sign up as a student? Over time this morphed into the Builders of the Adytum (or B.O.T.A.) , which produced, among other things a redrawn version of the Waite-Smith-(Mathers) tarot. Case cleverly inserted yods into his art to force his tarot students to change their religious views of the world to match his. Okay, let’s stop here for a moment . . .


Please allow me to this next point scrying crystal clear: I love the B.O.T.A. and all of the B.O.T.A.’s around the world. I wish that I could give them all a giant squishy hug. BUT . . . forcing someone to change their view of the cosmos, psychology, religion, philosophy, and the history of earth just so they can learn the tarot (and astrology, and so on) is where I draw a line and build a fence, and then add a moat and fill it with alligators, and piranhas in case the alligators are sleeping on the job. I completely disagree with PFC’s dogmatic authoritarianism when learning how to use the tarot as a spiritual tool. That said, I strongly encourage you to join the B.O.T.A. (I did!—before I quit) if you believe differently than I do. In fact, you can join here: https://www.bota.org/members/enroll


Wow, that was a rant! But having been a member, and before that having spent my lifetime studying various religions, magic and magical practices, philosophy, metaphysics, and various other disciplines, I have built up a small bit of knowledge in my travels, and therefore have some strong opinions about elitist, heavy-handed teaching methods used by various organizations (none come to mind at the moment, but I will let you know if I remember any). Nonetheless, F. PFC made a TD for his BOTA students, only slightly changing the lessons and cards. Ann Davies changed the course even further afterwards. Again, the B.O.T.A. is a wonderful organization, and for your consideration here are images of their decks. To truly understand them however you will need to be indoctrinated into their world view and to accept it as your own so that you can use these symbols to measure the world around yourself. Can you buy a deck (and the book) on eBay? Sure you can, but why would you rob yourself of the fun of years of study and practice with the real organization that spawned these teachings and continues to teach Ann Davie’s interpretation of Case’s interpretation of Waite’s interpretation or Levi’s interpretation of Etteilla’s interpretation of ancient Egyptian teachings? I would still be a member of B.O.T.A. if it weren’t for their dogmatic rigid adherence to patriarchal western Judaeo-Christian monotheism. Being a Buddhistic polytheistic humanist is like voting “Independent ” in American politics: you can never find a group you actually want to be a member of. Okay, so here’s the pictures. Please remember to join (or at least consider joining) B.O.T.A. after examining the images.


Please note:

There are three decks available: A full “standard size” deck (with all 78 cards), a giant deck (trumps, or “Keys” only), and a sheet you will color and cut yourself (as part of your early lessons). All B.O.T.A. decks are line art only and the process of coloring your own deck includes quiet meditation time invested in cementing into your head the importance of metaphysical color theory (their version). This is a unique and special way of bonding with your cards and your interpretation of their meaning. This is not the only “color-your-own” black and white deck available (see de Laurence’s KtT and Burt Bakker’s deck), but it is the only one with a mystery school attached to it.



Basic B.O.T.A. materials
"Highlights of Tarot" booklet
Giant deck (trumps only)

B.O.T.A giant deck images (click any card below to enlarge it)

The B.O.T.A. refers to these trump cards as “keys,” as fits PFC’s world view. Think of “keys” as psychological, philosophical, and metaphysical aspects, or elements, of the whole of spiritual evolution. According to Case (and others before him) these “keys” represent steps along a giant ladder.

Pocket sized deck (78 cards) #1

Pocket sized B.O.T.A. deck (click any card below to enlarge it)

These were hand-colored by a B.O.T.A. member who obviously took their studies very seriously. One can only hope whatever our path is we are as dedicated to our passionate pursuit of personal perfection. 

Pocket sized deck (78 cards) #2

Also see this deck on Pinterest which has been professionally hand colored in stunning detail by an artist who also happens to be a BOTA member.