Third Capricorn Decanate: T.H. Pattinson

We have only one January Capricorn and one Aquarius February birthdate in the Letters to the Sage, but much else to report in 2022, so am sharing this one in December.

From The Last Eighteen Decanates Analyzed:

CAPRICORN—3rd Decanate. The Southern Fish—PISCES AUSTRALIS—is the constellation picturing the Mercury decanate of Capricorn. It is shown as eagerly drinking the water that flows from the urn of Aquarius. This symbolizes the conception that through the cultivation of the higher emotions it is possible to communicate volitionally with those who have passed to the spirit side of life. Also, that those on earth are, to an undreamed of extent, the recipients of love and wisdom poured down upon them by those who are of earth no more.

People born under this decanate have natural ability to grasp the ideal and express it in concrete form. Their power of imagination is marked, and is united to the faculty of intensive labor. They can follow clerical lines, but to develop their highest talents they should be permitted to develop and execute plans of their own. They readily contact the interior planes and draw valuable information from that source, even when unconscious of the origin of their ideas.

Joan of Arc, who under spirit guidance led France to victory, was born when the Sun was in this decanate. George Eliot, who attained fame through the ideals expressed in her novels, was born with her Mentality here. And Michelangelo, the greatest sculptor and artist of all time, was born with this portion of the zodiac on the Ascendant. It is the decanate of IDEALISM.

From Letters to the Sage, Volume One

T.H. Pattinson

            Thomas Henry Pattinson was born in Tranmere, England on January 11, 1851 and died in 1939. By the 1880s he had settled in the borough of Bradford in Yorkshire where he worked as a watchmaker and jeweler. Interested in esotericism, he joined the Society Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA) and was an early and leading member of both Bradford’s Theosophical Society lodge[i] as well as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Pattinson was also a friend of the important British H.B. of L. leader Rev. William Ayton—whom Pattinson made an honorary member of Bradford’s Golden Dawn Horus Temple—although Pattinson himself was rejected by the H.B. of L.[ii]

            Pattinson’s letters to Johnson are important because they reveal details suggestive about both Johnson’s early involvement in the H.B. of L. and the early interest in the Tarot among Western occultists. The earliest of Pattinson’s letters, dated August 18, 1884, shows that by that time he, Johnson, and Ayton had all been corresponding on the subject of the Tarot. Pattinson was preparing to send Johnson Tarot cards (which he appears to have drafted himself) as well as, at the instruction of Ayton, a manuscript and book on the subject, both of which were probably authored or edited by Kenneth Mackenzie.[iii] The fact that the letter from August—which was presumably written before the H.B. of L. was known to any of these men—indicates that the Tarot was the main shared interest between Pattinson, Johnson, and Ayton at that time, which suggests that Ayton and Johnson’s relationship may have started due to this shared interest. Ayton—the eager occultist and Theosophist who had been interested in Lévi for several years—undoubtedly read the Platonist and took great interest in the Lévi translations.[iv] This pre-H.B. of L. occult connection with Ayton would explain why it is that Ayton—as opposed to Burgoyne or Davidson, who had been the early promoters of the H.B. of L.—became Johnson’s guru for the group’s teachings. Meanwhile, Pattinson’s letters to Johnson also reveal that the latter had taken an interest in magic mirrors prior to joining the H.B. of L. and he may have also wanted to use an ancient Hebrew type of ephod for magical practices—something that does not seem consistent with what is known about H.B. of L. magical ceremonies and therefore may be indicative of Johnson being involved with another occult group (perhaps a precursor to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) or possibly attempting to privately pursue Jewish mysticism.

T.H. Pattinson. Jeweller

6, Piccadilly, Late Manchester Road. Bradford, England

18 Aug. 1884

Dear Mr. Johnson

            I must apologise for not answering your letter enclosing 11/-8 for the Taro Cards sooner.

            Since you wrote I have been mostly away from home and amongst other places I have visited is Wm. Aytons he spoke of you and I promised him seeing he is so busy to supply you with all the necessary manuscripts of the Taro. I have studied this subject from an occult point of view now for almost 3 years and It is undoubtedly a very difficult subject to get into. But I will do my best in my next letter to put what I can of it before you. It will take one about a week to put the Hebrew letters on the Cards and get you the Papers ready.

            It will give me very great pleasure indeed to send you the Cards & M.S any thing I can do for an occult friend is always done with pleasure and a sense of duty.

            I am only sorry that more prompt attention to your letter could have Been paid. However I will at once get them out of hand for you

            Yours fraternally

            TH Pattinson 

T.H. Pattinson. Jeweller

6, Piccadilly, Late Manchester Road. Bradford, England

2 Nov.[v] 1884

Dear Mr. Johnson. I received your letter of october – 10 and waited a week hoping you would again send acknowledging the receipt of the Taro Cards which were sent off same time the M.S Book was. I[t] is possible the custom house officers have the cards and will confiscate them unless duly duty is Paid upon them. I sent them unregistered and as papers the postage was so heavy I believe the postage of the 2 was 8/ or 9/- the cards would have cost 9/- by themselves. If sent as registered letter. If you have not yet got them request and also let me know.

            I send you the Book on the History of Cards[vi] mentioned in my last letter do not be in any haste to return it. I have no immediate use for it & you can return it at your leasure.

            I have several little bits of information I have got told of lately in reference to cards which I will send on to you in the course of time. But first I must get hold of the cards, which I respect shortly.

            Referring to the magnetic mirrors. I will put one in hand for you in about a week I shall send it on to you. I am at present trying some experiments on the Black mirrors and If one I made yesterday is what I think it is. I will send you one on also.

            Friar no doubt wants money and will use any kind of knowledge for the purpose. I do not remember the Book you refer to. (that he is about to publish.) If you will let me know I will give you all the information I can about it. But any thing he sells is charged 5 times to much money.

            I have a good lot of occult Books and any Book I have I will lend you with pleasure. I have the devine Poimander (original Edition) of Hermes and some of Aggrippa’s works. I am anxious to read Randolph Works which Friar advertises. are they as expensive in America as in England. If not I should like have Eulis and several others and If they are cheaper will you kindly let me know. Friar asks 20/- & 12/- for some of the minor ones. Are they worth reading? in your opinion.

            Anything I can do for you will be done with pleasure at any time

            Yours Fraternally

            TH Pattinson

T.H. Pattinson. Jeweller

6, Piccadilly, Late Manchester Road. Bradford, England

1 Nov. 1885

Dear Sir.

            Do not be bothered about the Books it is not so very particular and I will let you know in due course, if you have not done with it keep it a little longer.

            I want you if you will to kindly send me the Feby 1884 No of the Platonist I have noticed a very important translation from Eliphas Levi which I think throws a great light upon The practical working of the Taro,[vii] I have enclosed this translation and I think I shall be able to find out the use of the number Cards. If you Can give me any more translations of a similar nature. I shall be gratefull and no doubt in turn it would come back in other form. That is if you are interested in Taro researches.

            Referring to magic mirror I do not want to charge you so much money for a thing that is useless. The 2 mirrors I made for you at the time turned out no use.[viii] So I did not send them. I[f] you still do wish for one of these metallic one[s] I will make you one with pleasure. or any thing else I can do for you

            I have fished out the correct dress of the High priest (cabbalistic) and have got an artist friend to paint it on paper for me.

            The 12 stones of the Ephod and their correct colours are shown also the correct colours of the dress.  

            If you would like to have this I will get one done for you. I do not know what the cost will be. I could let you know after I you though it worth your while.

            Yours obediently

            TH Pattinson


[i] His TS membership was entered February 15, 1889, Theosophical Society General Register Vol. I, http://www.theartarchives.org.

[ii] Godwin et al., HBL, 3 n. 1.

[iii] See Ronald Decker and Michael Dummett, A History of the Occult Tarot, 1870-1970 (London: Duckworth, 2002), 47-48.

[iv] For Ayton’s early interest in the Tarot, see Decker and Dummett, A History, 47-48; for his early involvement in the Theosophical Society, see ODL, 2:4-9 and BCW, 1:410, 421.

[v] Pattinson’s handwriting is a little unclear here. We have assumed that this is November based on the following: A) the way he wrote “Nov.” in his November 1, 1885 letter is very similar to the month he seems to have written here; and B) this letter was almost definitely sent after August, considering that in his August 18, 1884 letter he is promising to send Johnson Tarot cards and in this letter he is explaining why they have not yet arrived.

[vi] This was probably the A History of the Playing Card that Mackenzie had possibly helped edit, as mentioned in Mackenzie biography and the introduction to this volume.

[vii] Pattinson is referring to Doubleday’s “Kabbalistic Doctrine of the Spirits,” which Johnson published in the January and February 1884 issues of the Platonist.

[viii] See his letter for November 2, 1884.