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Christine  Christine is offline
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Join Date: 30 Aug 2003
Location: Oregon USA
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Christine 
My theory on Tarot


Thanks for the feedback folks. This post is in response to Mary's attempt to paraphrase my position.

I try to look at this territory in historical order, like building a pyramid from the ground up.

*The sexugesimal grid is ancient, the Babylonian contribution to the Mysteries. The Greeks, Hebrews and Egyptians all built their astrological traditions on this foundation. The alphabet is loaded with astrological and numeric values at this time.

*It is contested which civilization is older, but both the Greeks and the Hebrews built a powerful mysticism of the Decave. The Hebrew side of the process gave birth to the Sefir Yetzira (short form) and it's alphabetic mysticism, whereas the Greek strain benefitted from the synthesizing vision of Pythagoras, who added sacred geometry, astrological harmonics and the Tetractys to the lexicon. The Alexandrian Synthesis forced the two to cross-compare and re-discover their astrological/mathematical roots in common.

* The end of the Crusades opened the gates whereby Arabic, Hindu, Chinese, Hebrew, and Egyptian/Alexandrian culture could flow into Europe. The utility of the Hebrew alphabet as a carrier wave for sacred geometry, astrological calculations, cryptographic coding, cabalistic speculations, yogic instructions and the Masonic Word was irresistible. It became the ultimate memory-cabinet for people of multiple disciplines to embed their esoteric values into, and from which to draw bodies of correspondences.

*Ficino's translations formally "set loose the demons" in Europe. A wave that had been rising for several centuries crested. A plethora of translations flew from, to and through both the ancient Sacred languages, and the contemporary 'vernacular' languages. Polyglot Bibles, as well as the Protestant Reformation, allowed the masses to experience Scripture and the Classics for the first time in their own language. Now the Church scholars are being challenged in their translation of Scripture by the laity, and the magus steps out of the closet (though just as often he takes a beating and is thrown back into it again!) Agrippa and Trithemius open up new horizons of theory and practice for the adventurous, and the Church lost control of the information for good.

*The Crusading Orders had been driven underground upon the demise of the Templars, but had never been extinguished. Their members fanned out and assimilated to their sympathizers in Spain, Scotland and other places. Their independence from Church and State had made them a target of hostility from both, but their revenge was successful; they seeded a blooming of Rosicrucian and Masonic/Freemasonic organizations that kept both the Crusading spirit, and its higher Arts and Sciences, alive. The alphabetarian knowledge, the Wisdom Tradition, the Gnosis continued to flow along channels that couldn't be suppressed, though the Church expended every effort to quash it.

Hence: By the time of the Boehme, a very sophisticated yogic / gnostic / cabalistic / alchemical / Hermetic / astrological / theological worldview had grown up which became the primary religious/spiritual paradigm within the Lodges. It is formed by the last wave of "magical christians" both Catholic and Protestant whose allegiance was to Sophia and the Religion of the World. This paradigm embraces multiple disciplines, and is keyed to a very specific usage of the Alphabet on the Paths and Chakras of the practioner's body. We are talking about a Sophianic yoga of the Restitution, practiced as a cabalistic meditation whereby the meditator experiences the Creation, the Lucifer Rebellion, the loss of Heaven, the Incarnation of Christ, and finally the Restitution, all played out between the individual's Chakras (Sephira) as a prefiguration of the final Judgement. These magical christians spliced together everything they could find about Sophia in every tongue, and they created a personal cultivation that they believed would advance the world into the Age of the Holy Spirit. The Tarot trumps and the whole magical philosophy of its construction is permeated with this mythos. (for those who care to use it this way, that is.)

All that being said, my theory has always been that the equation that constructs the Tarot:
{[(7x3)+1] = [(4x3) + (4x1)] + ([(3x3)+ 1] x4) }
{[Trumps] + [Royals] + (Pips)}

is an esoteric equation, and no esotericist of any generation would have missed this. It is this, I believe that justifies the "so-called Egyptian" myth of origins that has traveled with Tarot through the centuries.


Yes there is a tradition of linking the numbers to the letters, and also linking the 12/7/3 of astrology to the letters as well. This is **fixed** (emphasizing Mary's locution here) in history to the extent that A = 1 wherever you go in magical alphabets everywhere. That would have left the Fool to be the last letter right up to and including Etteilla. Nobody would have thought otherwise because there is no historical usage that I can find before the 20th century that arranges the alphabets with the numbers any differently. And having combed the evidence exhaustively, and come to the realization that the prime value of the letters in magic is associated with their NUMBERS first, and their sounds (and speech/writing value) second, *that* tells me that the letters go on the Trumps according to the numbers on their faces.

What Mary is calling "fixed correspondences" does have variants within it, but they are only among the Planetary letters. The Greeks assigned two pairs of Planets differently than the Hebrews did (switching out Mars/Venus and Jupiter/Sun). This still maintains the 12/7/3 pattern of antiquity, remaining a matter of personal taste or perhaps religious preference, so it doesn't cause a controversy. But then Levi switched out the Fool and the World for his own reasons (and someone here knows the date better than I), which breaks up the 12/7/3 pattern and really begs the question "what was he trying to do?" (But I see that's another thread here….)

Anyway, anybody who studies the Sefir Yetzira (short form) can easily see that Kircher's tree is a mess. Nobody had to keep any of this a secret, it's right there if you are interested enough to take the right books in hand. Even as a novice I could see that Kircher departed utterly from the 12/7/3 usage. So the issue becomes, whose Kabbalah are you following? I have tried to seek out people who had respect for the real Hebrew studies, rather than the Christian reformats.

Anyway, Etteilla was lucky to be in the right place and the right time to inherit Boehme's mystical synthesis, but at this point it was much more Mason-ized and less yogic by far. I can see traces of Boehm-ian Gnosticism and Sophianic magic in Etteilla, but there's also this overlay of the Lodges that wasn't present with Boehme. What I take from Etteilla is that he makes a very great effort to show the Fool as the last of the Trumps, which is consistent with the Kabbalistic peculiarities of Boehme's astral yoga (and which is WAY too much to explain to you in this post!!) Just look at the way Etteilla handles the Fool in his "division of the pack by 1,2,3,4,5,6,7', and you'll see that in almost every division, the Fool falls with the Trumps, at the end of the 22.

In short: Pythagorean sacred geometry embedded onto the ancient Magical alphabet gives the esotericists of Europe the perfect "personal computer". Lull demonstrates the memory-arts using combinatory wheels, and the "Lullist Arts" go a long way towards teaching people how to visualize the recombinant nature of the Alphabet. Before playing cards hit Europe, Kabbalistic/cabbalistic consciousness had already spread from royalty to commoners, especially after the suppression of the Templars. (So much so that any form of number-magic comes to be called 'cabbala'). Tarot appears without a manual, but Paracelsus, Trithemius, Agrippa and the polyglot Bibles teach people the magic of language and the Number/Letters.

Royal politics and the Reformation force the magical, gnostic, Sophianic Christians to band together away from their churches to get some space to study esotericism. Hence the best part of the teachings is sequestered in the Orders, where the Inquisition cannot crush it and snuff it out. Yes, there was tremendous effort even in Etteilla's time to hide the essence of what was being transmitted, and if you read the history of Cagliostro (a friend and contemporary of Etteilla's) you'll realize this was not a game. I'm reading Marsha Schuchard's last two research tomes and am amazed at the politicization of the Orders, and the deadly consequences of coming sideways up against a Pope! It turns out, just like with Dee, the "underground" work of the esotericists provided Europe with the means to carry on clandestine political manipulations and pursue secret agendas in code. Wild complications ensue!

But the esotericism itself, the basic premeses, were not at all secret in the sense you and I think of it. After all, the Marseilles Trumps were advertising the facts of the Letter/number connections from the time they first got numbers on their faces. And Etteilla doesn't repudiate that pack, he even names half his Trumps with the same old names, and makes the links obvious between the Marseilles Trumps and his. So I don't get the impression that Etteilla expects us to throw out everything we used to know about Tarot in order to use his cards.

What I see him doing is, like Lazzarelli before him, trying to tell the story of the Creation from the Greek side of the myth instead of the Hebrew side. But since they are both simply variants of the same alphabetarian and Pythagorean core model, it's really just a matter of new drapes and paint, not a "brand new invention". The ignorant think they have their hands on the "hottest new fad", and the cognoscenti can use it just as they did the Marseilles pack. It's all about "he who has eyes to see" -- a phrase which Schuchard says is an Eccosais flag that tells Masons to put on their thinking-caps!
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