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Studying non-scenic pips - Divination System Methodology

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 18 Jan 2004, and now archived in the Forum Library.



Rusty Neon  18 Jan 2004 
I picked up yet another Tarot de Marseille book. This one is called _Les tarots faciles - Tirage et interprétation_ by Collette H. Silvestre. (Previously published as _ABC du Tarot de Marseille_.) Happily, this book is an expensive compact paperback, unlike the pricier trade paperbacks of the French booktrade.

This book brings to the forefront various methodology issues regarding divination systems for non-scenic pips.

(1) NUMBER + SUIT + WHAT ELSE?

The author uses a number + suit approach to the pips, but also looks at the placements of the pip symbols. For the swords and batons, she takes into account how and where they cross. For the coins and cups she looks at the shapes in which they're arranged. To a very much lesser extent, she takes into account the ornamental details such as the leaves, flowers, etc.

Thus, this raises the issue of whether and to what extent the divination system should take into the placements of pip symbols and the ornamental details.

(2) VALENCY OF THE NUMEROLOGY SYSTEM

The author uses a system of 1 to 10 numerology where some numbers generally have positive meanings, while a minority of the numbers have negative/challenge meanings. (For example, the number 2 means "Duality, Rivality, Opposition. We have union or duality.")

The extent of the positivity or the challenge can be affected by the placements of pip symbols or by ornamental details.

Hence, for a given deck, the same number could have a different implication for each suit. (I notice this also in the case of author Corinne Morel's approach where the number 8 is a positive or challenge number and an 8 of a suit might be positive while an 8 of another suit could be a challenge card.)

The author doesn't use reversals or elemental dignities to alter card meanings.

Thus, this raises the issue of whether some cards should have positive meanings as their base meanings, with other cards having challenge meanings as their base meanings. For someone like me, from a GD/Thoth/RWS background, I am at home with this approach, while not married to it. Arguably, giving a certain valency (be it positive or challenge) to a particular card makes for an interesting mix. Such valency could be especially useful for the TdM pips, a number of which are not reversible in design (unless you have copyright symbols or you add markings to indicate upright and reversal).

(3) SUIT ATTRIBUTES

As is the custom in TdM circles, the author assigns realm meanings to the suits, e.g., Cups deal with the emotional realm, coins deal with materiality, batons deal with ardour and enthusiasm, and swords deal with intellectuality.

However, once the number + suit + card design analysis yields a base meaning, the author goes on to assign situational meanings for the given card for Emotions, Material, Professional and Health. Hence, a swords card is not limited to divination on intellectuality but can also give non-intellectuality information on Emotions or the Material or Health. For example, assume the base meaning for the 2 of Swords is opposition and conflict, in the intellectual sense. For the Material, the card could mean "financial affairs are subjected to rude challenges". For Health, the card could mean "The state of health doesn't improve and can cause worries."

In basic terms, this is along the lines how Paul Marteau did it in his 1940s classic book on the Tarot de Marseille.

In contrast, various other TdM authors take a restricted approach to what each suit can give information on. Under that restricted approach, for example, a Swords card could only give information on intellectuality (or conflict) but not on Material and Professional. 


Jewel-ry  21 Jan 2004 
This is interesting Rusty Neon,

I didn't realise that there were so many different methods of divination. I cant imagine being restricted to the point that, say swords, could only be applied to intellectuality and cups only to emotional issues. Surely, to broaden the reading one has to be able to 'adapt' the meaning of a card to apply to the issue at hand. When I say 'adapt' I really mean that the one elemental meaning can be used to compliment another. The two must surely be read together.

Since there are so many schools of thought, is it wrong to try and use all of them? I tend to use various different methods and I dont have them defined in my head. Sometimes I may use the numerological meaning to add to the meaning of a reading, other times a flower in bud will jump out at me. I kind of make it up as I go along. This is my way. Is it wrong?

J :) 


Lee  21 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by Rusty Neon
However, once the number + suit + card design yield a base meaning, the author goes on to assign situational meanings for the given card for Emotions, Material, Professional and Health. Hence, a swords card is not limited to divination on intellectuality but can also give non-intellectuality information on Emotions or the Material or Health. For example, assume the base meaning for the 2 of Swords is opposition and conflict, in the intellectual sense. For the Material, the card could mean "financial affairs are subjected to rude challenges". For Health, the card could mean "The state of health doesn't improve and can cause worries."
I'm a little confused by this. If the field of interest is governed by the situational question, then I'm not sure I understand what the point is of defining the suits. In other words, if the 2 of Swords refers to Emotions, Material, Professional or Health based on the question, then why does she bother to assign the suit of Swords to intellectuality?

-- Lee 


Rusty Neon  21 Jan 2004 
Jewel-ry and Lee,

Jewel-ry ... From my experience with the RWS deck, I agree with you that a Swords pip shouldn't be limited to referring to intellectuality (and other airy things), Cups pips shouldn't be limited to emotions (and other watery things), etc. Any pip card of any suit should be able to answer anything about the situation, without being limited by its suit.

Lee ... I share your concerns. If a Swords pip card can be used to refer to Emotions, Material, Professional or Health by "adapting" (as Jewel-ry says) the base meaning, and not be limited to referring to intellectuality (or other "airy" things), then it's fair to question why the assignment of intellectuality to the Swords suit should be used at all in defining the card's base meaning.

It would seem that the author, Silvestre, is using a hybrid approach. That is, she wishes to recognize that the Swords suit can refer to airy things like intellectuality, but that, in the end, the Swords pips shouldn't be limited by their suit to just referring to intellectuality and other airy things when it comes to actually interpreting the card in the spread.

If one feels that a Swords pip card shouldn't be limited to referring to just airy things, arguably those airy things shouldn't be used at all in determining the card's base meaning.

If one wishes to use suit but not be limited in such a way by the suit, one could, for example, derive base meanings for a card by using Number + Element (Air, in the case of Swords) + perhaps Card Design. Under such an approach, the Number + Element analysis would be more of an "elemental dignities" analysis, i.e., how does the card's Number react in/with the suit's Element? (See the recently-started thread dealing with Number + Element.)

Another, more radical approach would be to ignore Suit altogether. For example, use Number + Card Design. Or use whatever subsets of the corresponding numbered Trump's meanings can be made to jive with the pip's Card Design.

Clearly, there is no one single correct way to interpret Suit. Generally, my approach to RWS pip cards has been "suitless". I take note of the Golden Dawn card titles/divinatory meanings (which are very often not suit-oriented) and synonyms and/or the RWS picture and relate them to the situation, question and spread, while basically ignoring suit. 


Lee  22 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by Rusty Neon
Generally, my approach to RWS pip cards has been "suitless". I take note of the Golden Dawn card titles/divinatory meanings (which are very often not suit-oriented) and synonyms and/or the RWS picture and relate them to the situation, question and spread, while basically ignoring suit.
I'm sympathetic to this approach especially since, as far as I can tell, Waite's "Pictorial Key" doesn't mention the elements and doesn't seem to recognize suits as contributing to the cards' meaning.

-- Lee 


The Studying non-scenic pips - Divination System Methodology thread was originally posted on 18 Jan 2004 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the active threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

 


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