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MikeH  MikeH is offline
Join Date: 03 Nov 2007
Location: Oregon USA
Posts: 443
Etteilla on the tarot "in 7 books."

I am going to conclude my presentation of Etteilla's seven ways of grouping the 78 cards of the tarot, pp. 131-142 of the 2nd Cahier. We are on pp. 140-142. First I will give the French, then my translation. There are three footnotes. You can distinguish them from other numbers in parentheses in that there is no comma after the number for footnotes. I have put a few explanatory comments with the texts, in square brackets, but most of my comments come after the translation. Here is Etteilla:
[p. 140] En Sept Livres. (1)

[Note en bas de p. 140](1) Lisez la vingt-quatrieme section, chapitre premier, du Pymandre, ou la Pensee de Mercure Trismégiste, qui lui dicte sept échelons, & le huitieme touchant, rentrant, comme étant le premier formant 1 & 8, [continué p. 141] Esprit que vous sentirez en ayant le premier & le huitieme feuillet sous les yeux. Il dit donc à la premiere ceinture croit & décroit en lui, c'est-à dire, coule d'un bord à l'autre éternellement; à la diexieme, est entreprise des maux; à la troisieme, est tromperie; à la quatrieme, ambition; à la cinquieme, prophane; à la sixieme, méchanceté; à la septieme; mensonge, ignorance; & rentre à l'unité 1, qui est force, louange en l'unité, ce qui avant caractérise parfaitement les Vertus opposées au septenaire 1; donc l'opposition est 0, les ténebres.

[p. 140] L'unité au centre. (1,) Dieu lui-même. (8,) mou-[p. 141]vement & repos (1), ou la perfection, qui n'est qu'en Dieu. (9, 10, 11, 12,) tout ce qui est Dieu, lui-même, Justice, Tempérance, Force & Prudence (2). (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,) préscience divine de l'Éternité se communiquant par ses oeuvres, qui mis à leur vrai nombre 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, = 21 = 12 = 3, ensemble 36, elle s'étend sur les Hommes par 1 + 6, 2 + 5, 3 + 4, qui [p. 142] donne des nombres infiniment juste. 16, 25, 34 = 75, 3 au-dessus des intelligences 75, (1 vient 37, nombre par lequel dans cet esprit les Cabalistes n'osent nombrer, voyant ce nombre ainsi 1 entier + 37 + 8, & soustrayant 1 de 8, reste 45 & 3 + 7 = 10. (13, 14, 15, 16, 17,) vertus de l"Homme par 31, 41, 51, 61, 71, en tant que corps, vie & ame. (18, 19, 20, 20, 0,) innocence troublée, pas incertains, inquiétude. (22 jusqu'à 77,) Nature remédiant perpétuellement & en tous lieux à l'ignorance de l'Homme, & ensevelissant tout dans le tems.

[Note en bas de p. 141](1) En l'Homme fut le repos, ensuite la mouvement, & enfin le repos.
(2) Aucuns Philosophes n'ont atteint le but sans avoir l'interprétation de ces quatre hiéroglyphes en tout leur sens, qui sont chacun 7.
And my translation:
[p. 140.] In seven Books. (1)

[footnote p. 140](1) Read the twenty-fourth section, first chapter, of the Pymander, or Thought of Mercury Trismégistus, who speaks of seven levels, and the eighth moving, returning, as being the first forming one 1 and 8, [cont'd p. 141] a Spirit that you will sense by having the first and the eighth page [card] under your eyes. He thus says the first circle is that of increase and decrease, that is to say, sliding from one side to the other eternally; in the second, troubles are undertaken; in the third is deceit; in the fourth, ambition; in the fifth, profanation; in the sixth, wickedness; in the seventh; lie, ignorance; and return to the unit 1, which is strength, praise in the unit, that which before characterizes perfectly the Virtues opposed to the septenary 1; thus the opposition is 0, darkness.

[p. 140] Unity at the center. (1,) God himself, alone, by himself and in himself. (8,), move-[p. 141]ment and rest (1), or the perfection, which is only in God. (9, 10, 11, 12) all which is God himself, Justice, Temperance, Strength and Prudence (2). (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,) divine prescience of Eternity communicating itself by its works, which put in their true number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, = 21 = 12 = 3, together 36, it extends over Men by 1 + 6, 2 + 5, 3 + 4, which [p. 142] gives infinitely correct numbers. 16, 25, 34 = 75, 3 over the intelligences, 75 (2 next to 37, number by which in this spirit the Cabalists do not dare to count, seeing this number thus 1 integer + 37 + 8, and subtracting 1 from the 8, leaves 45 and 3 + 7 = 10. (13, 14, 15, 16, 17,) virtues of Man by 31, 41, 51, 61, 71, as body, life and soul. (18, 19, 20, 20, 0,) disturbed innocence, uncertain steps, anxiety. (22 to 77,) Nature remedying perpetually and everywhere the ignorance of Man, and burying everything in time.

[footnotes p. 141](1) In Man was rest, followed by movement, and finally rest.
(2) No Philosophers reached the goal without the performance of these four hieroglyphs in all their senses, which are each 7.
My comments. The part of the Pymander or Poimandres that he is referring to is sections 61-69 in Eberhard's 1650 translation ( The author is describing the ascent of the soul, passing upwards through the realms of each of the seven planets, starting with the Moon. At each stage it unloads a different vice, and thus lightened it ascends upwards. The first zone might be the waxing and waning of fortune, compared to the action of the moon. Then comes Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, followed by the Fixed Stars in the eighth. Here is the Poimandres:
61. And to the first Zone it giveth the power it had of increasing and diminishing.

62. "To the second, the machination or plotting of evils, and one effectual deceit or craft.

63. "To the third, the idle deceit of Concupiscence.

64. "To the fourth, the desire of Rule, and unsatiable Ambition.

65. "To the fifth, profane Boldness, and headlong rashness of Confidence.

66. "To the sixth, Evil and ineffectual occasions of Riches.

67. "And to the seventh Zone, subtle Falsehood always lying in wait.

68. "And then being made naked of all the Operations of Harmony it cometh to the eighth Nature, having its proper power, and singeth praises to the Father with the things that are, and all they that are present rejoice, and congratulate the coming of it; and being made like to them with whom it converseth, it heareth also the Powers that are above the eighth Nature, singing praise to God in a certain voice that is peculiar to them.

69. "And then in order they return unto the Father, and themselves deliver themselves to the powers, and becoming powers they are in God.
In giving us the reference to this part of the Poimandres (or "Pymandre"), Etteilla is comparing the tarot sequence, now conceived in seven steps, with this sequence in the Poimandres. However he is going down rather than up, from God's total order down to chaos at the bottom-but also contained, in Etteilla's cards 1 and 8, at the top as well.

First, no. 1 is God, simple unity.

Second is movement and rest, no. 8, also in God, as well as, footnote (2) tells us, in Man. The extreme of movement is chaos, the reversed of card 1.

Third are the four cardinal virtues. These have to be mastered by anyone seeking to go higher. As perfect forms, these are still in God. Preumably by the 7 senses of each virtue, he means one for each of the seven levels.

Fourth is the prescience, of God as revealed in the world he created in 6 days. We are now in God's perfect expression of himself in the sensible world. These 6 numbers, added together, to which are added the number reversed and the sum of the digits, yields 36. With adding the pairs formed from the 6 days, we get 3 more than the 72 angels of the Cabalists, beyond which they do not dare to count more of them. I do not know the significance of 45, or 10 in this context.

Fifth is "the virtues of Man" in "body, soul, and spirit." Also significant are the numbers you get when you transpose the digits: 31, 41, 51, 61, and 71. I am completely mystified as to what these remarks have to do with cards 13-17.

Sixth, we have "disturbed innocence, uncertain steps, anxiety." Yes, this description fits cards 18-21 plus 0, cards of betrayal, misery, fortune, dissension, and folly.

Seventh, "Nature remedying perpetually and everywhere the ignorance of Man, and burying everything in time." The suit cards pertain to life's activities in the world. Nature lets us know of our ignorance by our failures, to that extent remedying it if we attend to what it says.
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