Grady and his Thoth Deck

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law

This is a breakdown of how Grady McMurtry did Tarot readings.  I started collecting information on this topic a few years back and over time all the pieces have fallen into place.  I was able to reconstruct this from various sources.  One such source is a collection of readings recorded by Frater Zardoz in my private archives.  Thankfully Chris kept a few records of the reading Grady did while visiting the Sacramento area in the early 80’s.  I also found records in Grady’s own journals and other notes. I was also able to gather some details from first-hand witnesses.


Grady doing readings at Ren Fair here in Norther CA circa 1979


Grady doing readings at Ren Fair here in Norther CA circa 1978

Here is what we know… Grady used a Celtic Cross variant with complementary cards thrown across the read.  In this way, he would have a clearer picture of the forces at play as there would be a dual fold expression at each position. 

He utilized an 18-card spread, in which 9 of the cards were always thrown in the exact order and the other 9 varied.  Yet how he read the over-all layout remained consistent.  In other words, even though the order in which he placed his cards varied some, (as Grady felt it was important to go with the inspiration of the moment), once in position he would analyzed the positions in a manner not unlike how any reader might read a Celtic Cross variant. 

The first Card drawn was always placed in the center and as would be expected, the entire reading was based upon it.  However, the next 9 cards dealt would be placed in various patterns to ultimately form the “Cross”.  Yet when Grady reached the two “Columns” to the right, the cards were always placed side by side and from top to bottom.  The result being that the order drawn for the first 9 positions varied some but would remain consistent for the final 9 positions.  Grady did favor and repeat certain patterns, (see below), and the color chart I created below demonstrates this.

I have included a few pics to clarify… one is a simple illustration which guides you through three separate examples of Grady’s laying of the cards. (Just shuffle and follow the colors around) If you are an experienced reader you will get the hang of this in no time.

Finally, I should point out that Grady preferred the Thoth deck and cut the edges from his personal deck so that only the images remained.  (His personal deck survives in private archives) Though he was familiar with and often used Rider/Waite deck as seen in the images from Ren Fair.

Here is how Grady interpreted the cards once they were placed…

  1. Current situation – Base, signifier
  2. Counter force – Opposition
  3. Possible future A – (Goal)
  4. Possible future B – (Goal)
  5. Present attitude
  6. Present attitude (complement)
  7. Past – Cause
  8. Past – Cause (complement)
  9. Future potential
  10. Future potential (complement)
  11. Self – Interior motive
  12. Self – Interior motive (complement)
  13. Exterior forces
  14. Exterior forces (complement)
  15. Hopes & fears – Expectations
  16. Hopes & fears – Expectations (complement)
  17. Future – Result
  18. Future – Result (complement)

Love is the law, love under will



Order of layout


An example of a reading done for Boleskin House circa 1981. There are several of Grady’s readings recorded in the camps journal.  This is written in the hand of Frater Zardoz.


An example of a reading recorded in Grady’s hand


Another example of a recorded reading but this in an un-known hand with a few additional notes by Grady in his hand.