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MikeH  MikeH is offline
Join Date: 03 Nov 2007
Location: Oregon USA
Posts: 443

I changed my timeline in line with Coradil's suggestions, deleting 1748 and adding one for 1840. Also I have been reading more Etteilla and more about Cagliostro. As a result, I have made a few changes in previous posts.

In my post for card 8, I added a reference to another section of the Poimandres, which now seems to me more appropriate than the one I gave originally.

In my post for card 12 ( I added a quote from the 2nd Cahier, p. 21, where Etteilla explains why he interprets the Marseille Hanged Man as Prudence, and from p. 26 his justification for the order of 9-12, the virtues.

in my post for card 15, I was wrong in identifying Trimercury with Trismegistus: he is actually, according to Etteilla in a table at the end of the 2nd Cahier, Trismegistus's grandfather. I have edited the post accordingly.

On Cagliostro: It seems that Giuseppi Balsamo, who was probably the same as Cagliostro, traveled from England to Calais on 15 Sept. 1772 (McCalman p. 32); then he appears in court records in Paris during 1772 and 1773. Also, Cagliostro introduced his Egyptian Rite in Mittau 1779 (McCalman p. 54, Gervaso p. 82, no comparable description earlier). I have edited my timeline for 1772 and 1779 accordingly. Also relevant is that in 1772 Balsamo was experimenting with the book by Alexis Piemontese, Etteilla's Alexis's alleged grandfather; and a possible influence on Cagliostro's rite is Dom Pernety, an alchemical writer referred to by Etteilla in the 2nd Cahier. I have put these parallels in the timeline entries.

In the context of "Illuminist" writings of the time (including especially Pasqually), and also Cagliosgtro's rite (translated in Faulks and Cooper, The Masonic Magician) I may be starting to understand better why Etteilla rearranged the tarot trumps in the way he did. The general project is that of reversing the Fall by means other than the sacraments of the Church, through initiatory experiences. In relation to the tarot, the point is to proceed in reverse order, from the higher numbered cards to the lower numbered ones. One dividing line is card 17, Mortality, the achievement of mystical death and so passing beyond the misery of this life. After that comes Judgment, the aid of a Magician, the descent to Hell, and the mystic Marriage. Marriage is a descent into materiality and lust on the way down, but an image of divine union on the way up. Then one is in the Terrestrial Paradise, maintained there by strict practice of the four virtues. Then comes the reversal of the seven days of Creation, which includes the initiatory trials by earth, air, water, and fire, trials well known at that time (e.g. the novel Sethos, in Google Books; also the "Crata Repoa" and Mozart's "Magic Flute"). The order of the trials is influenced by alchemy. In alchemy, as one of Cagliosto's admirers put it:
The matter does not spend long on the fire before it demonstrates a considerable change. Isaac the Hollandois says that it becomes all black in a little time; then there is no color in the world through which it does not pass before being red. Ripleus [i.e. George Ripley, 15th century English alchemist] says that after having seen an infinity of different colors in the [primary] matter one sees it become white like the snow, then afterward a beautiful citrine, and finally it becomes the color of the red poppy. (De la Borde, Lettres sur la Suisse, 1783, partially translated in McCalman p. 98; original in Google Books, p. 24f.)
Similarly the tarot ascends first to black (quadripeds and Earth), then the sequence of colors (the seven planets in the sky, or Air), then white (the moon and Water), and finally red (the sun and Fire). In that way the tarot outlines the steps of spiritual healing and so is "spiritual medicine" (Etteilla's phrase in the 2nd Cahier), comparable in its sphere to the elixir of alchemy.
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