My method for getting to know the Thoth Tarot might seem a little random, but I have two guiding principles that help me choose which card to look at next. Sometimes a card just comes into my mind and it stays there and I take that as a hint! That’s how it worked with The Chariot, for example.
And sometimes I draw one, asking “What card is it important for me to think about right now?” Today I drew the Knight of Disks, and I settled right into it because it came up for me yesterday when I was thinking about The Chariot.
I was looking at the connection between the two cards in the rings they both have in the background, and how the cards themselves have the 3rd Sephira, Binah, in common. They also both have the Grail in common, since The Charioteer is bringing us the Grail and I have always thought of the Knight of Disks as the original Grail Knight, Gawain, the earthy, sensuous, noble, and loyal knight from King Arthur’s court. I wanted to check in and make sure I was on the right track with this since I love Arthurian stories so much and didn’t want to let my own interests drown out what I was supposed to be looking at. And I drew the Ace of Cups – the Grail! I’ll take that as a yes.
When you look at the Knight of Disks, our perspective is from his side, but we are looking in the same direction he is. We’re looking over his shoulder, getting a little peek at the back side of his shield, something you would normally never see. We see a design of six triangles. His horse obscures the bottom half of the shield but we can extrapolate from the position of the triangles we can see that there are a total of twelve – twelve months, of which we are here focusing on six, the months of Harvest from May to October.
I have read some speculation on what is on the front, that it is ‘likely to be the Pentacle of the Zelator Adeptus Minor’, which I think has something to do with the first level in ordination into Crowley’s occult organisation, the A…A… It is a six-pointed star on a background divided into four sections. In most illustrations of the Tree of Life, Malkuth is drawn as a circle divided into four sections, and the connection to Earth (Disks) here makes sense. The six-pointed star draws our attention up the Tree of Life to Tiphareth in the 6th Sephira which is above Malkuth on the Middle Pillar. It makes sense for this particular glyph to be his heraldic symbol, since the Knights are in Sephira 2, and like the initial level of ordination, they too are engaged but still learning.
But since we can’t actually see it, and Crowley doesn’t tell us what’s on the front, and the suggestion above is only ‘likely’, I think it’s fair to speculate a bit further. What if his heraldic image is the five-pointed star that we see on Gawain’s shield that marks him as the Knight of the Goddess, his role in the oldest stories about him? In later medieval versions, which went through the hands of more Christian writers, he is turned mean, riven with jealousy of Arthur and hatred for Guinevere. But that is absolutely not who he is supposed to be. He is a pagan knight and the champion of the Divine Feminine. How lovely, then, to see our Knight of Disks connect to Binah, the Feminine 3rd Sephira via The Empress (ATU III) who I associate with Demeter, the Greek goddess of earthly fertility and harvest (and Persephone’s mother). These associations are integral to the Knight of Disks, which we see in the three rings covering the background of the image.
The Thoth Knight of Disks is definitely earthy. He is stocky of stature and his horse is a ‘shire horse’, a working horse (not a charger), who is rooted to the ground. He stands in a field of ripe wheat holding a flail, a tool used for threshing grain. The colours of the card are autumnal – golds, russets, browns, and blacks – harvest time. In fact, this is quite a pagan card with all its fertility imagery (and remembering that the original stories of Arthur preceded Christianity in the British Isles). The grand stag on the Knight’s helmet really brings this home. It is a symbol of fertility, but not only that – of fertility rites, of Herne the Hunter, and the god of the forest, Cernunnos. The stag head sits within a crown of seven points – a connection to Netzach, ruled by Venus, the Divine Feminine.
The Knight’s helmet is pulled back off his face because his work is done. The land is fertile and ready for the harvest. He looks into what I would say is the setting sun – it fits with the autumnal theme and also with the idea of harvest, not planting where we might expect to see the rising sun, or the sun high in the sky. If you look carefully, you can see that the three rings in the background are not coming from the sun at all – they are radiating out from the Knight’s shield. It is his connection to the land that creates his place in this world and gives him his strength and power.
What about this gorgeous horse. He is looking straight at us and … smiling? I would say so. In fact, all of the horses in the Knights cards are looking at us, in that “Hey, are you watching?” kind of way. And it’s not just the horses in the Thoth Tarot. The bull and the lion in the Prince of Disks and Wands look right at us, as does the Eagle of the Prince of Cups. Why are all these animals looking at us?
They are vehicles to help us move around the Tree of Life, to find our way back to Spirit, or to help us complete our work here on earth. They are our ‘how’. In the case of our Knight of Disks, our ‘how’ is stillness and contemplation. It is a work-horse, so we have to put in some effort here, and those solid four hooves root us to the earth and remind us of our ultimate goal – expressing our Divine Will here, on this plane, as a revelation of our unique connection to Spirit at the top of the Tree of Life.
 The chariot of the Prince of Swords is pulled by men, not animals, and we can’t see their faces.