3907 – Alpha Omega Tracing Board Diagram 13th Key of the Tarot Death

Physical description:
Cream coloured card with black and red ink writing. Holes and ribbon used for hanging. On the back is more handwritten writing.
Museum classification:
Ritual Magic
Size:
24cm x 30cm
Information:

These tracing board diagrams were most likely used as a way to test the knowledge of the members of the order of Alpha et Omega (initially called The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) and allow them to progress further up into higher levels (grades) in the order. It appears that some, if not all, of the boards were hung in the temple during rituals of the inner order. For example, this particular board diagram was shown to Associate Adeptus (a member of the First Order being tested to pass into the Second Order) who was supposed to explain the diagram to a member of a lesser grade in order to pass further. See the Alpha Omega tag for more tracing board diagrams. 

 

The front of this board features an ink drawing of a skeleton with a scythe, two heads and body parts on the grass, and small drawings of a snake, bird, scorpion, and what looks like a droplet around the skeleton. There is a text in black ink above the drawing which reads: "The 13th Key of the Tarot" also referred to as Death. The following pictures from The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie explain the history and meaning of the Tarot.

 

The 13th Key - Death - is explained below.

The Tree of Life is a representation of the entirety of creation. The Tree is composed of ten spheres - referred to as the Sephiroth/Sefirot as a whole, each sphere denoting a universal quality, such as wisdom or beauty.
"Within the beliefs of the Golden Dawn, each sephira (the singular) has associated with it a number, a divine name of God in Hebrew, an archangel, an order of angels, a colour, and an element (from the Aristotelian four elements) along with other symbols. This array of ten spheres is connected by 22 paths, which are also numbered. In a manner similar to the sephiroth, the associations for the 22 paths connecting them include the assignment to each of one of the 22 Hebrew letters of their alphabet, one of the 22 Major Arcana tarot cards, a divine name of God in Hebrew, and an elemental association. (...) The numbering of the sephiroth and the paths, and the term “sephiroth” are both derived from the Sepher Yetzirah, an early Jewish mystical text which refers to the sephiroth as the ten primal numbers (one through ten) and also to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet in conjunction with these first ten numbers." (source)

The Golden Dawn also briefly mentions the history of the tarot, pictured below.

The reverse side features writing which reads: "5. East. Portal of 5=6. Executed and presented by Y. H. Frater "Fide et Amore" Oct. 4th 1908". There is also a typed label adhered to the reverse, as pictured below.

The "5=6" inscription pertains to the structure and grading of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (also known as Alpha et Omega, or the A.O.).

The structure of the Golden Dawn:

First Order
Introduction—Neophyte 0=0
Zelator 1=10
Theoricus 2=9
Practicus 3=8
Philosophus 4=7
Intermediate—Portal Grade

Second Order
Adeptus Minor 5=6
Adeptus Major 6=5
Adeptus Exemptus 7=4

Third Order
Magister Templi 8=3
Magus 9=2
Ipsissimus 10=1

Resource:
Object
Materials:
Card and ink
Copyright ownership:
MWM

These tracing board diagrams were most likely used as a way to test the knowledge of the members of the order of Alpha et Omega (initially called The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) and allow them to progress further up into higher levels (grades) in the order. It appears that some, if not all, of the boards were hung in the temple during rituals of the inner order. For example, this particular board diagram was shown to Associate Adeptus (a member of the First Order being tested to pass into the Second Order) who was supposed to explain the diagram to a member of a lesser grade in order to pass further. See the Alpha Omega tag for more tracing board diagrams. 

 

The front of this board features an ink drawing of a skeleton with a scythe, two heads and body parts on the grass, and small drawings of a snake, bird, scorpion, and what looks like a droplet around the skeleton. There is a text in black ink above the drawing which reads: "The 13th Key of the Tarot" also referred to as Death. The following pictures from The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie explain the history and meaning of the Tarot.

 

The 13th Key - Death - is explained below.

The Tree of Life is a representation of the entirety of creation. The Tree is composed of ten spheres - referred to as the Sephiroth/Sefirot as a whole, each sphere denoting a universal quality, such as wisdom or beauty.
"Within the beliefs of the Golden Dawn, each sephira (the singular) has associated with it a number, a divine name of God in Hebrew, an archangel, an order of angels, a colour, and an element (from the Aristotelian four elements) along with other symbols. This array of ten spheres is connected by 22 paths, which are also numbered. In a manner similar to the sephiroth, the associations for the 22 paths connecting them include the assignment to each of one of the 22 Hebrew letters of their alphabet, one of the 22 Major Arcana tarot cards, a divine name of God in Hebrew, and an elemental association. (...) The numbering of the sephiroth and the paths, and the term “sephiroth” are both derived from the Sepher Yetzirah, an early Jewish mystical text which refers to the sephiroth as the ten primal numbers (one through ten) and also to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet in conjunction with these first ten numbers." (source)

The Golden Dawn also briefly mentions the history of the tarot, pictured below.

The reverse side features writing which reads: "5. East. Portal of 5=6. Executed and presented by Y. H. Frater "Fide et Amore" Oct. 4th 1908". There is also a typed label adhered to the reverse, as pictured below.

The "5=6" inscription pertains to the structure and grading of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (also known as Alpha et Omega, or the A.O.).

The structure of the Golden Dawn:

First Order
Introduction—Neophyte 0=0
Zelator 1=10
Theoricus 2=9
Practicus 3=8
Philosophus 4=7
Intermediate—Portal Grade

Second Order
Adeptus Minor 5=6
Adeptus Major 6=5
Adeptus Exemptus 7=4

Third Order
Magister Templi 8=3
Magus 9=2
Ipsissimus 10=1