Tarotology

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This article is about the use of tarot cards for divinatory and esoteric/occult purposes. For other uses, see Tarot (disambiguation).

Tarotology provides the theoretical basis for Tarot reading, a subset of Cartomancy, which is the practice of using cards to gain insight into the past, current and future situations by posing a question to the cards. Variations on the reasons for such belief range from believing on guidance by a spiritual force, to belief that the cards are but instruments used to tap either into a collective unconscious or into their own creative, brainstorming subconscious.[citation needed]

Tarot decks have seventy-eight cards divided into four suits of fourteen cards each plus the twenty-two trumps. The trumps and suits are part of a trump style game with many historical and national variations.[1] In modern times suit cards are Pentacles, Swords, Cups, and Wands. Trumps are cards like the Fool, The Magician, et al. Since the introduction of the cartomantic and occult tarot there have been ongoing attempts to "get it right."[1] Subsequently the names of both have been played with over time.

History[edit]

The first Tarot deck to appear in a complete form (trumps, suits, etc.) was the Visconti-Sforza tarot deck in the courtly circles of Northern Italy in the 15th century.[1] They were used for gambling and card games, and possibly as a symbolic allegory for the Visconti nobility of Milan.[2]

Antoine Court de Gébelin

One of the earliest reference to Tarot triumphs, and probably the first reference to Tarot as the devil's picture book, is given by a Dominican preacher in a fiery sermon against the evils of the devil's instrument.[3] References to the Tarot as a social plague continue throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, with no indication that the cards were used for anything but games anywhere other than in Bologna.[1] Tarot remained a simple card game for several centuries and only became widely associated with cartomancy after general cartomancy with normal playing cards became common in France. As Dummett (1980: 96) notes, "...it was only in the 1780s, when the practice of fortune-telling with regular playing cards had been well established for at least two decades, that anyone began to use the Tarot pack for cartomancy."

The belief in the divinatory meaning of the cards is closely associated with a belief in their occult, divine, and mystical properties: a commonly held belief in the 18th century propagated by prominent Protestant clerics and freemasons.[1]:96 One of them was Court De Gébelin who wrote that after seeing a group of women playing cards he had the idea that Tarot was not merely a game of cards but was in fact:

  • of ancient Egyptian origin
  • of mystical cabbalistic import
  • of deep divine significance

Gébelin further claimed that the name Tarot came from the Egyptian words tar, meaning royal, and ro, meaning road, and that the tarot therefore represented a royal road to wisdom.[4] This was written before Jean-François Champollion had deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs and later Egyptologists found nothing in the Egyptian language to support de Gébelin's fanciful etymologies. Despite this lack of any evidence, the misapprehension that the tarot cards were linked to the Egyptian Book of Thoth was already established in occult practice and continues in modern urban legend to the present day.[4]

The original Tarot deck being intended for a card game, a game of chance, or elite allegory, did not prevent individuals from making it into something more.[4] From its humble uptake as an instrument of prophecy in France, it went on to become a thing of hermeneutic, magical, mystical,[5] semiotic,[6] and even psychological properties. It was used by Roma when telling fortunes,[7] as a Jungian psychological apparatus capable of tapping into “absolute knowledge in the unconscious,” [8] a tool for archetypal analysis,[9] and even a tool for facilitating the Jungian process of Individuation.[10]

Court de Gebelin[edit]

Many involved in occult and divinatory practices attempt to trace the Tarot to ancient Egypt, divine hermetic wisdom,[11] and the mysteries of Isis. It all began in 1781, when Antoine Court de Gébelin, a French clergyman, published Le Monde Primitif which besides tarot included religious symbolism and its survivals in the modern world. In it he was the first to say that the symbolism of the Tarot de Marseille represented the mysteries of Isis and Thoth.[citation needed] It is a massive opus, incomplete in nine volumes, published by private subscription several years after he became an active Freemason and member of the Lodge of the Neuf Soeurs.[1] Most of it is taken up promulgating a wholly speculative (and suspiciously Feudal and Christian) view of history that suggested there had once been a golden age (the age of the garden of Eden perhaps) in which

"all men had shared a common language, common customs, a common culture and a common religion", which was a reflection of "an eternal and immutable order, which unites heaven and earth, the body and the soul, the physical and the moral....".[1]

The actual source of the occult Tarot can be traced to two articles in volume eight, one written by himself, and one written by M. le C. de M.***. [12] The second has been noted to have been even more influential than Gebelin's.[1] The author takes De Gebelin's speculations even further, agreeing with him about the mystical origins of the Tarot in ancient Egypt, but making several additional, and influential, statements that continue to influence mass understanding of the occult tarot even to this day.[citation needed] He:

  • makes the first statement that the Tarot is in fact The Book of Thoth
  • makes the first statement that the Tarot is associated with Gypsies (and that Gypsies were roaming Egyptians)
  • makes the first association of Tarot with cartomancy

Etteilla[edit]

The first to assign divinatory meanings to the Tarot cards were cartomancer Jean-Baptiste Alliette (also known as Etteilla) in 1783 and Mlle Marie-Anne Adelaide Lenormand (1776-1843).[13][14] According to Dummett, Etteilla:[1]

  • devised a method of tarot divination in 1783,
  • wrote a cartomanic treatise of tarot as the Book of Thoth,
  • created the first society for Tarot cartomancy, the Société littéraire des associés libres des interprètes du liver de Thot.
  • created the first corrected Tarot (supposedly fixing errors that resulted from misinterpretation and corruption through the mists of antiquity), The Grand Ettielle deck
  • created the first Egyptian tarot to be used exclusively for Tarot cartomancy
  • published, under the imprint of his society, the Dictionnaire synonimique du Livere de Thot, a book that "systematically tabulated all the possible meanings which each card could bear, when upright and reversed." (Dummett, 1980: pp. 110).

Etteilla also:[citation needed]

  • suggested that Tarot was repository of the wisdom of Hermes Trismegistus
  • was a book of eternal medicine
  • was an account of the creation of the world
  • argued that the first copy of the tarot was imprinted on leaves of gold

Michael Dummett (1980) suggests that Etteilla was attempting to scoop Court De Gebelin as the author of the occult tarot.[citation needed] Etteilla in fact claims to have been involved with Tarot longer than Court De Gebelin.[1]

Marie Anne Lenormand[edit]

Mlle Marie-Anne Adelaide Lenormand outshone even Ettielle and was the first cartomancer to the stars (being the personal confidant of Empress Josephine, Napoleon and other important people).[1] Lenormand used both regular playing cards, in particular the Piquet pack, as well as cards derived from Etteilla's Egyptian root. She was so famous that a deck was published in her name, the Grand Jeu de Mlle Lenormand, two years after her death in 1843.

Eliphas Levi[edit]

The concept of the cards as a mystical key was extended by Eliphas Lévi (1810-1875[citation needed]). Lévi (whose real name was Alphonse-Louise Constance) was educated in the seminary of Saint-Sulpice, was ordained as a deacon, but never became a priest. Dummett (1980, pp. 114) notes that it is from Levi's book Dogme et rituel that the "whole of the modern occultist movement stems." Lévi wrote that an astral light is contained within all of reality,[citation needed] and according to Dummett (1980, pp. 118), he claimed to be the first to

"have discovered intact and still unknown this key of all doctrines and all philosophies of the old world... without the Tarot", he tells us, "the Magic of the ancients is a closed book...."

Lévi rejected Court de Gébelin's claims about an Egyptian origin of the deck symbols, going back instead to the Tarot de Marseille, calling it The Book of Hermes, claiming it was antique, that it existed before Moses, and that it was in fact a universal key of erudition, philosophy, and magic that could unlock Hermetic and Cabbalistic concepts. According to Lévi, "An imprisoned person with no other book than the Tarot, if he knew how to use it, could in a few years acquire universal knowledge, and would be able to speak on all subjects with unequaled learning and inexhaustible eloquence."[15]

According to Dummett Lévis' notable contributions include:[1]

  • Lévi was the first to suggest that the Magus (Bagatto) was to work with the four suits.
  • Inspired by de Gébelin, Lévi associated the Hebrew alphabet with the Tarot trumps.
  • Lévi linked the ten numbered cards in each suit to the ten sefiroth.
  • Claimed the court cards represented stages of human life.
  • Claimed the four suites represented the Tetragrammaton.

Dummett (1980: 120) dismissed Lévi's contribution to magic as the product of "an advanced state of intellectual deliquescent," but noted that Lévi made a major contribution to the history of occult lore. Occultists, magicians, and magus's all the way down to the 21st century have cited Lévi as a defining influence.[citation needed] This trend began immediately when Jean-Baptiste Pitois (1811), writing under the name Paul Christian, wrote L'Homme rouge (1863) and later Histoire de la magie, du monde surnaturel et de la fatalité à travers les temps et les peuples (1870). Christian repeats and extends the mythology of the tarot and changes the names for the trumps and the suits (see table below for a list of Christian's modifications to the trumps).[citation needed] Batons (wands) become Scepters, Swords become Blades, and Coins become Shekels. [16] In 1888 Ély Star published Mystères de l'horoscope which mostly repeats Christian's modifications.[17] Its primary contribution was the introduction of the terms 'Major arcana' and 'Minor arcana,' and the numbering of the Crocodile (the Fool) XXII instead of 0.[citation needed]

In 1887 the Marquis Stanislas de Guaita met the amateur artist Oswald Wirth (1860-1943) and subsequently sponsored a production of Lévi's intended deck. Guided entirely by de Guaita Wirth designed the first neo-occultist cartomantic deck (and first cartomantic deck not derived from Ettielle's Egyptina deck). Known as the Arcanes du Tarot kabbalistique it consisted of only the twenty-two major arcana.[jargon]

Use[edit]

Tarot is often used in conjunction with the study of the Hermetic Qabalah.[18] In these decks all the cards are illustrated in accordance with Qabalistic principles, most being influenced by the Rider-Waite deck. Its images were drawn by artist Pamela Colman Smith, to the instructions of Christian mystic and occultist Arthur Edward Waite and published in 1909.[citation needed] A difference from Marseilles style decks is that Waite-Smith use scenes with esoteric meanings on the suit cards.

Tarot cards have become extremely popular in Japan, where hundreds of new decks have been designed in recent years. [19]

Order of the Trumps[edit]

The following is a comparison of the order of the trumps up to and including the A.E. Waite deck. This table is based on Dummett (1980) and actual inspection of the relevant decks.[original research?]

Tarot de Marseille[20] Court de Gébelin[21][22] Etteilla's Egyptian Tarot[23] Paul Christian's Egyptian Tarot
(divinatory meaning in bold)
Oswald Wirth Golden Dawn A.E. Waite Book of Thoth (Crowley)
1 - the Bateleur (Mountebank) Bateleur Ideal/Wisdom the Magus / Will Magician 1 - The Magician I - The Magician I - The Magus
2 - the Popess High Priestess Enlightenment/Passion Gate of the (occult) Sanctuary / Knowledge Priestess 2 - The High Priestess II - The High Priestess II - The Priestess
3 - the Empress Empress Discussion/Instability Isis - Urania / Action Empress 3 - The Empress III - The Empress III - The Empress
4 - the Emperor Emperor Revelation/Behaviour Cubic Stone / Realisation Emperor 4 - The Emperor IV - The Emperor IV - The Emperor
5 - the Pope Chief Hierophant Travel/Country Property Master of the Mysteries/Arcana / Occult Inspiration Hierophant 5 - The Hierophant V - The Hierophant V - The Hierophant
6 - Love or the Lovers Marriage Secrets/Truths Two Roads / Ordeal Lovers 6 - The Lovers VI - The Lovers VI - The Lovers
7 - the Chariot Osiris Triumphant Support/Protection Chariot of Osiris / Victory Chariot 7 - The Chariot VII - The Chariot VII - The Chariot
8 - Justice Justice Tenacity/Progress Themis (Scales and Blade) / Equilibrium Justice 11 - Justice XI - Justice VIII - Adjustment
9 - the Hermit Wise Man Justice/Law-Maker the Veiled Lamp / Wisdom Hermit 9 - The Hermit IX - The Hermit IX - The Hermit
10 - Wheel of Fortune Wheel of Fortune Temperance/Convictions the Sphinx / Fortune Fortune 10 - The Wheel of Fortune X - Wheel of Fortune X - Fortune
11 - Fortitude Fortitude Strength/Power the Muzzled(tamed) Lion / Strength Strength 8 - Strength VIII - Strength XI - Lust
12 - the Hanged Man Prudence Prudence/Popularity The Sacrifice / Sacrifice Hanged Man 12 - The Hanged Man XII - The Hanged Man XII - The Hanged Man
13 - Death Death Marriage/Love Affair The Skeleton Reaper / Transformation Death 13 - Death XIII - Death XIII - Death
14 - Temperance Temperance Violence/Weakness the Two Urns (the genius of the sun) / Initiative Temperance 14 - Temperance XIV - Temperance XIV - Art
15 - the Devil Typhon Chagrins/Illness Typhon / Fate Devil 15 - The Devil XV - The Devil XV - The Devil
16 - the Tower the Castle or Plutus Opinion/Arbitration the Beheaded Tower (Lightning Struck) / Ruin Tower 16 - The Tower XVI - The Tower XVI - The Tower
17 - the Star Sirius or the Dog Star Death/Incapacity Star of the Magi / Hope Star 17 - The Star XVII - The Star XVII - The Star
18 - the Moon Moon Betrayal/Falsehood the Twilight / Deception Moon 18 - The Moon XVIII - The Moon XVIII - The Moon
19 - the Sun Sun Poverty/Prison the Blazing Light / (earthly) Happiness Sun 19 - The Sun XIX - The Sun XIX - The Sun
20 - Judgment the Creation Fortune/Augmentation the Awakening of the Dead / Renewal Judgement 20 - Judgement XX - Judgement XX - The Aeon
21 - the World Time Law Suit/Legal Dispute the Crown of the Magi / Reward World 21 - The Universe XXI - The World XXI - The Universe
Le Mat (Fool) Fool Madness/Bewilderment 0 the Crocodile (between 20 and 21) / Expiation Fool 0 - The Fool 0 - The Fool 0 - The Fool

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Michael Dummett. The Game of Tarot. London: Duckworth, 1980. ISBN 0715631225
  2. ^ H. Farley, A Cultural History of Tarot, London: I.B. Tauris, 2009 ISBN 1-84885-053-0
  3. ^ R. Steele. A notice of the Ludus Triumphorum and Some Early Italian Card Games: With Some Remarks on the Origin of the Game of Cards,' Archaeologia, vol LVII, 1900. pp. 185–200
  4. ^ a b c Sosteric, Mike. A Sociology of Tarot. Canadian Journal of Socoilogy, 39(3): 357-392. http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/CJS/article/view/20000
  5. ^ P.D. Ouspensky. The Symbolism of the Tarot: philosophy of occultism in pictures and numbers. Dover Publications. 1976
  6. ^ Inna Semetsky. Tarot images and spiritual education: the three I’s model. International Journal of Children’s Spirituality. 16(3): 249–260. 2011
  7. ^ Eliphas Levi. The Key of the Mysteries. Translated by Aleister Crowley. Red Wheel/Weiser. 2002 ISBN 0877280789
  8. ^ John Beeb. A Tarot Reading on the Possibility of Nuclear War. Psychological Perspectives: A Quarterly Journal of Jungian Thought. 16(1): 97-106. pp. 97
  9. ^ Sallie Nichols. The Wisdom of the Fool. Psychological Perspective: A Quarterly Journal of Jungian Thought. 5(2): 97-116. 1974
  10. ^ Salie Nichols. Jung and Tarot: An Archetypal Journey. San Francisco: Weiser Books. Also Inna Semetsky. When Cathy was a Little Girl: The Healing Praxis of Tarot Images. International Journal of Children's Spirituality. 15(1): 59-72. 2010. pp. 59
  11. ^ Ronald Decker and Michael Dummett. A history of the occult tarot, 1870-1970. London: Duckworth, 2002. ISBN 0715610147.
  12. ^ The asterix and the abbreviations are the actual way Court De Gébelin refers to the second essay. As Dummett (1980) notes, Mr Robin Briggs identifies the contributor as Louis-Raphael-Lucrece de Fayolle, comte de Mellet. Louis was a brigadier, governor, and "unremarkable court noble."
  13. ^ Ronald Decker and Michael Dummett, History of the Occult Tarot, London: Duckworth, 2002 ISBN 978-0715631225
  14. ^ Robert Place, The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination, New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 2005 ISBN 978-1585423491
  15. ^ Eliphas Lévi. Transcendental Magic. p. 103
  16. ^ Interestingly, Dummett (1980) singles out Christian's writing as one of the worst examples of what he calls false ascription to be found in the occult literature.
  17. ^ Arcana in the Adytum by Mary K. Greer.
  18. ^ Israel Regardie, The Tree of Life, (London, Rider, 1932)
  19. ^ Laura Miller. 2011. “Tantalizing tarot and cute cartomancy in Japan.” Japanese Studies Vol. 31, Issue 1, pp. 73–91.
  20. ^ "Queen of Tarot". 
  21. ^ "Queen of Tarot". 
  22. ^ Court de Gébelin is the first to attempt to provide the correct order and nomenclature for the tarot trumps. See Michael Dummett. The Game of Tarot. London: Duckworth, 1980. ISBN 0715631225
  23. ^ Etteilla's tarot is the first cartomantic tarot, thus the broken nomenclature that bears little resemblance to that which comes before! The imagery of Ettiella's Egyptian Tarot is similar to Tarot de Marseille, but he breaks the ordering significantly putting, for example, the imagery of the Sun (traditionally triumph 19) as triumph 1. This interested in viewing the images by do so by visiting this link

External links[edit]