Thank you so much for stopping by my review of the BOTA Online Store and its other resources. I will include links to find everything I am going to be reviewing throughout the article as well as general links at the end.
-Contents- The Back Story- How I found BOTA About BOTA as an Organization Other Resources they Offer Products and Recommendations Using the BOTA Deck
A few years ago I was in the business of collecting Tarot Decks in large numbers. I was researching every deck I could and purchasing or trading for it on Aeclectic Tarot. Someone had gifted me a subscription, which I cherished, and used ad nauseum. It was an obsession. I was at Borders during the height of this mania, and I saw they had a few sets of “Color Your Own Tarot” decks on clearance. Sadly, I only bought one because now they retail for $900 new. Anyways, I used the deck as a friendly project- I would have each of my friends color a card when we hung-out. This wasn’t a great idea as many cards were left unfinished and some of my friends weren’t so great artist or used mediums that ruined the cards. Eventually my car leaked and the entire deck was ruined and I threw it out. Fast-forward several years to a few weeks ago.
I had been on the hunt for a way to color my own cards because I am formulating my own course in Magick using a few different books and whatnot. I had purchased a copy of Donald Michael Kraig’s Modern Magick 3rd Edition and in the very beginning of the book it flat out tells you that you MUST get a tarot deck, and makes a few recommendations. It states that the best deck for the course is the Golden Dawn Magickal Tarot by Tabitha and Chic Cicero. It’s second is the BOTA Tarot and says that “If you can still get a black and white copy with the booklet that goes with it, do so”. I quickly went searching for both decks. I like the fact that the Cicero deck is already colored and done for you. I like that the BOTA Tarot requires you to color it yoruself. In my opinion, the decks would work perfectly together because you could use the Cicero deck while you completed the coloring of your own.
I went searching expecting to have to buy it from some obscure seller for a large amount of money. I was very surprised when I found that BOTA was very much alive and well, and its store had many hidden gems for people using the Tarot for any magickal path!
Builders of the Adytum is a Western Mystery Tradition School. It has chapters in California, New Zealand and Europe. All of its courses and correspondences are free and is able to operate based on dues and donations collected from its members. Adytum is greek for ‘Inner Shrine’ and because the schools teachings are based on the Holy Qabalah and the Sacred Tarot, we see that they are working toward building an inner shrine of sacred wisdom within each of us.
Their mission statement is “To hasten the true brotherhood of mankind and to make manifest the truth that love is the only real power in the universe.”
BOTA is a non-profit, tax exempt California corporation. You can apply for membership from their website, although you must be 21 and adhere to other constraints listed there. It looks as though they have plenty of regional activities and other resources for use.
-PRODUCTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS-
As I have mentioned, I thought that I was going to be finding a yellow aged copy of the black and white BOTA Tarot on eBay for many times the original cost. I am very happy to report that the BOTA Online Store has extremely reasonable prices. I am also very impressed at their choices. I think it is a great service to provide these tools to anyone who wishes to purchase them. I will get further into it a bit later as to their uses, but their products are not just for BOTA Initiates!
I will explain everything in full detail here, so excuse me if you feel I am being redundant, I just want to make sure I get my point across as far as certain things.
The first product I was very excited to see is a black and white download of the 22 Major Arcana cards for only $5.00. This is beautiful because they can be printed in any size, colored, and used for anything from book or journal covers to cards for occult enthusiast and magicians. I also think they are perfect to print on card-stock, color, laminate, and use for teachings and seminars or for videos. They can also be printed to serve as pages in a tarot journal. They can be pasted in, or printed and three-hole punched.
The second and most important product is the Major and Minor Keys of the Tarot with Highlights of Tarot companion booklet. This includes all 78 cards in black and white (2 1/2″ x 4 1/4″), as well as the booklet Highlights of Tarot that details each card and the coloring key for each card. The deck includes two extra cards: The Pattern on the Trestleboard and a Tree of Life diagram. This is an amazing steal at only $13.00.
The third product is the poster called “The Tarot Tableau” and features all 22 Major Arcana cards, as well as small versions of The Pattern on the Trestle-board and The Emerald Tablet of Hermes. I believe this is to be used in their own courses, but it makes an amazing poster to color and frame and display in your study, or if you are a professional or aspiring professional tarot reader, it can be hung where you do your readings for others. It also makes a great gift.
I would like to at this time state that I purchased all of the items I listed above. I received them and unfortunately, my Tarot Tableau wasn’t in English. I emailed the organization, and they promptly sent an English version free of charge. I wanted to state this because while it is normal that humans make mistakes, it isn’t so normal for customer service to be so amazing and prompt. Kudos to the folks over at BOTA.
I was under the impression that the Minor Arcana Keys of the BOTA deck were scenic images, but they are not. These are pips style minors folks, so beware! I wouldn’t use this as a deck to read for others with anyway, as I will get to later, just know that this makes it even harder in my opinion.
Having purchased these items, I would like to attest to their qualities, positive and negative. First and foremost, I was very impressed with the booklet that came with the Keys. Highlights of Tarot is very good for a LWB (Little White Book) and it tells you exactly what color to color each part of each card. I think that while you can order JUST the deck for $8.50, the extra few dollars not only supports a fantastic organization, but it gives you a very valuable resources. The only way I would purchase the deck without the booklet is if I had a copy already. It is an absolute must.
The quality of everything is very nice. The Tarot Tableau Poster is on a nice stock and the card-stock for the deck is quite thick and they are cut to size pretty perfectly. None of the cards ‘stand up’ against the others and make shuffling awkward, if you did want to riffle these. I like the inclusion of the Tree of Life Diagram card, it’s quite handy. One thing that I absolute HATE about the deck is the card backs. They are an irreversible image of the corporations logo with the address. It’s like having a deck of beautiful tarot cards printed on the backs of business cards.
The packaging that everything comes in is phenomenal. The poster is rolled into a durable cardboard tube for safety and was packed well so the small amount of it exposed wouldn’t be damaged. The cards themselves came in a nice bright little box that perfectly housed the deck and the Highlights of Tarot booklet.
Besides the horrific card back ‘artwork’, the other negatives I could see from the products is that the booklet is a bit basic when describing the cards as far as divinatory purposes, which is fine because BOTA doesn’t seem to think that it should be used for that anyway (I may be incorrect in this assumption, so I apologize if I am). I think that pips style minors are a bit of a waste as well.
-HOW I’M USING THE BOTA DECK AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR OTHER USES-
As explained, I am not a member of BOTA, nor am I on course with them. I have purchased the deck to use towards my goal of being the best professional tarosophist that I can possibly be. In order to do this, I am incorporating a few different courses and books together for my curriculum. At the advice of a few of the text, I have decided that coloring my own tarot deck would be a great start in eventually designing my own deck. There is a practice in my tradition that there should always be a tarot deck inside the altar, or atop it when approapriate. This deck should be a ‘secret’ deck that isn’t seen by anyone else, and it is your personal tarot deck. This is usually done at one of the higher grades in magickal fraternaties, and I am nowhere near that level. In order to be practical and have the tools as well as learn the lessons from its creations before I embark on the entire journey, I decided that this would be the best way to do meet in the middle.
I will be performing what is called the “Tarot Contemplation Ritual” from DMK’s book Modern Magick. I will be editing the ritual and posting my own version here in due time. From there, I will take the card that was drawn and use it as my focus for the day. To begin I will only be using the Major Arcana. I will color the card in the deck and write a spread in my Magickal Diary about the card. Notes can also be added to the Tarot Diary at this time. It helps to do the ritual, record all ritual detail in the Ritual Journal, and copy notes about the card into the tarot journal for later use so that using your notes, a client doesn’t get to see your special, secret magickal journal- which no one should ever see, EVER!
Once the deck is completed, it will be wrapped in silk and only used for ritual purpose. This includes a divination as to whether or not a Grey Magickal working should be proceeded with.
I find this to be the most appropriate use of the deck of color your own tarot cards. I am not stating that this is the correct usage, nor am I saying that BOTA condones this. I am merely stating that for someone such as myself,or many of you who are coming form other traditions who might be creating your own deck someday, this is a perfect way to learn the cards, learn the symbology, and have a ‘test run’ before designing your own set. It also gives you a deck to use as an altar deck until said personal deck is completed.
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