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mjhurst  mjhurst is offline
Join Date: 24 Jul 2003
Location: California, U.S.A.
Posts: 316
The Cathar Secret of the Tarot

Hi, Alain,

Originally Posted by Alain
It has always been a "hot" subject .

I have not read your book and cannot say if there is something worth working on.
I have read the book. His historical presentation is without any substance. There is nothing in it about the history of Tarot even vaguely suggesting a connection with Cathars. In terms of iconography, he repeats standard ideas about the trump cycle being a spiritual journey from the Magician to the enlightened Fool for God, but at each card he fails to develop the idea. In fact, he does virtually no iconographic analysis at all. For each card he offers a simplistic associative exercise attempting to find any imaginable relationship between the card and some random person or event in his narrow field of interest. Worse yet, he doesn't even attempt to select the best one and develop an argument. He merely tosses out a number of vaguely conceived connections and moves on.

Swiryn refuses to be pinned down to an actual thesis. Having failed to even attempt to identify the subject matter of the trumps, in favor of a drive-by scatter-shot of "possibilities", he is naturally in no position to attempt to link them into a unified meaningful sequence of any sort. That is to say, he doesn't even try to solve Dummett's "riddle of Tarot". As you have seen in this thread, he never bothered to learn anything about Tarot, (TdM has 72 cards per deck? Really?!), and didn't even pay attention to the books he read about Cathars. For example:

Originally Posted by Alain
The Belibaste reference was incorrect.
It is not merely that he made a huge mistake. He failed to do any real research at all, instead repeating whatever he came across in New Age books. This included things like the long-debunked 1392 Tarot deck. But the damning aspect is that he didn't even try! The 1313 manufacture of playing cards by a famous Cathar figure would have been a monumental discovery. This would revolutionize both playing-card history and the history of the Cathars -- HOLY SHIT!!!

But for him, it was just another factoid, cherry-picked while skimming different books. He didn't even know enough to be stunned, and he has so little actual interest in the history of the subject that he didn't bother to follow up on it -- not at all! He didn't bother to ask himself whether someone else had mentioned it, perhaps in the history of Cathars, the history of playing-cards, the history of Tarot... he didn't care enough to think about it, much less do any research. He believed that he had documentary proof of Cathars and playing cards, closing not only the gap in chronology but putting the manufacture of cards directly into the hands of the Cathars, and he didn't bother to read any further. He couldn't even bother to read the footnote on the same page!

Originally Posted by Alain
It remains a hypothesis than some will find meaningless others suggestive.
It remains a fairy tale that was laughable when Waite invented it. Waite did, in fact, present it as a joke about how gullible some "researchers" are. It was investigated in depth a decade ago, and Swiryn has added nothing of value to that investigation. It is myth, not history, and making up stories about long-standing Tarot folklore is not historical research.

If you want to read a better fictional account ("myth") of heretics and Tarot, there are numerous places you can go. My favorite heretical tale is the Graham Phillips story, (cf.The Chalice of Magdalene). The Tarot section is based on La Folie Perceval supposedly in B.N. Ms. 12577 but unknown to actual Grail scholars. Phillips thesis is expanded upon by Justin E. Griffin's books (2001, 2004), including a card-by-card analysis that is much more focused and interesting than Swiryn's. If you are interested in an actual iconographic argument supporting a prominent Millennialist belief in TdM, look up my own analysis of the Pope-Devil-Tower cards in that deck. If you want a traditional occult-correspondences view tied to the HBHG, look up Christine Payne-Towler's stuff. And so on.

Best regards,
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