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

I continue now in my attempt to translate Corodil’s transcription of the Third Cahier. Since my previous post, I noticed that this whole section is almost word for word in Papus’s Tarot Divinatoire, of which I have Stockman's’ English translation (see pp. 244-247). I am trying to translate more literally than she does, with a resulting loss of clarity (because Etteilla is not the clearest of writers; or it might also be that Papus has done some translating of his own, from Etteilla-French to something clearer). When Stockman’s translation differs from mine, I will give her version and, unless it is obvious, the original French. I will also interrupt the translation when I want to make more extended comments.

I will start where Papus starts, which means with the last few paragraphs of Corodil’s previous section:
Ignoramuses operate badly in all that they do; but it is not the same for instructed people: thus the Egyptians took the Book of Thoth, shuffled it in every way without looking at the Hieroglyphs; they had their Enquirers cut this Book in two, and then they took the first Card [Carte], and put it there on B; the second on A; and the third they put again on B. (Like this: B. A.) The fourth went to B; the fifth to A, and the sixth to B. Then the seventh to B, so on until the end. In this way, on [pile] A there were 26 sheets [ or cards], and on [pile] B, 52.

With the 52, they began the first operation again (on D.C.), and there were on C 17 sheets [or cards: lames], and on D 35; they put 17 aside; and with the 35 remaining, they repeated the process on FE; in that way there came to E, 11 leaves [cards]; and to F, 24. It turns out that A=26. B=0. C=17. D=0. E=11. F=24; but these last ones [F] were not interpreted (*23).
*23. Note that in every operation, one must always mix right side up with upside down, and cut.
Papus omits this footnote. Now I continue with new material. The first paragraph below is as corrected by Lotus Padma:
Therefore, taking A, they read the sheets [or cards] one at a time, (from right to left, as the meaning of the whole [of the reading[ is to be found in its individual parts), announcing what they portended; and next, they took the first card, and interpreted it in relation to the 26th card. When they had finished doing that [or reading A] , they interpreted C, and finally, E.

Read Cartonomancie, third Edition, 1782; it will give you the whole procedure, although I admit that the Etteilla [Stockman: Etteilla’s work] is only a copy after the Egyptians, as also the Steganography of Trithemius, likewise the Theory of Raymond Lull, all copies, I say, of the Book of Thoth, or to speak to everyone, of the Cards called the Tarot.
I interrupt here to observe that this last sentence is rather odd, as though the author is someone other than Etteilla. I will say more the next time this occurs.
Their second procedure was to draw three times 7 leaves [cards], which they arranged as follows:

7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. A.
7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. B.
7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. C.

If A did not answer their questions, they would place below them seven other sheets [or cards], 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. A. [Stockman omits “A”] If that still gave no answers, they would draw another seven sheets [or cards], 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. A, and would do as much for B and C, [Stockman has, after “answers”: “they would draw another seven cards, 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. A through to C”], if they had not found a solution, or a positive prognosis. If these repetitions said nothing, they advised their enquirers to pray to the Gods, to alter their conduct, and to come back the next day or several days later.
My comment here: this last paragraph can be interpreted in various ways.

(1)Papus, or perhaps Stockman, has Etteilla saying that one tries up to three times, using rows A-C, to get a reading that answers the questions. It is the same number of rows that he has, more clearly, in a later method he gives with five cards in a row.

(2)Based on “Julia Orsini” in the c. 1840 book (p. 44), the interpreter would be laying out five rows, each below the one preceding, and one reads the top row first, and if it doesn’t make sense, one goes to the next, etc. (Actually, that book has the interpreter lay out six rows; but the point is that there are more than three rows of seven each being laid out. In the Dusserre booklet, which is a heavily edited version of the c. 1840, this is pictured on p. 7.)

(3) What Etteilla says literally: first you lay out three rows, then you try for a reading with the first row. If that doesn’t work, you lay out seven more cards, below the other three rows; if that doesn’t work, you lay out seven more; if that doesn’t work, you go to rows B and C that you’ve already laid out. The result is five rows, but the second and third tries at readings are laid out after the other three.

I emphasize this part, however many rows there are, because in modern books on cartomancy, almost all of which derive from Etteilla, it is usually not said to start over when you get a reading that doesn’t make sense; and the Etteilla decks' booklets, except the Dusserre, are the same. You are apparently expected to use your “intuition” to make the interpretation of the card part of a coherent reading. At the most, a book will advise you to put down one or more cards to clarify one that is obscure. And you will usually not be given examples where such a procedure is appropriate.

I have found only one historical source that does give an example of an incoherent reading, requiring one to go to start with a completely new interpretation using another row. It is in the c. 1840 “Julia Orsini” book (omitted from Dusserre's edited version), pp. 44-45. I reproduced these pages at My discussion there may be hard to follow, as I discuss other things besides the point at issue here. So here is a synopsis:

P. 45 begins by interpreting the row given on p. 44:, with cards 44 and 63 reversed. The 8 is there automatically in this book, because the reading is for a female. From right to left, it comes out: In relation to the querent (8) (she happens to be a blond girl), a blond girl (42) has marriage (13) in the future (44 reversed) with happiness (77) with a dark-haired man (64) with fortune (30) and there will be pregnancy (63 reversed). All of this makes sense and hopefully is good news. But if instead of 64, “brown-haired man”, the sixth card (out of eight, or fifth card not counting the 8) was 33, “woman of the country”, the reading would be contre-sense, i.e. nonsense (at least in 18th century France where women did not marry each other). In any case, it is not clear what such a person has to do with the rest of the sentence formed by the cards. So we start over, using the second line.

I resume:
Their third procedure was considerable, and [called for] considerable thought [& à considérer]. After having shuffled and cut the 78 leaves [cards], they formed from them two columns and a capital that they laid out across the top [i.e. a row at the top]. Then without reshuffling the leaves [cards], they laid out a circle, taking care in this operation to remove the 1 or the 8, according to the Sex of the querent; When that came up, they placed the first or eighth Hieroglyph in the center, as one sees [in] the whole configuration [figure] below.
This is where Corodil says there is a picture, which he doesn’t have the means to insert. In Stockman’s translation of Papus, there is also a picture, and I think it is much easier to understand Etteilla if you see it. Here is the picture as presented by Stockman (p. 246), which I have photographed and put at the link below:
In case you can’t access this link, here is a detailed description of the diagram: Etteilla uses numbers to indicate how the cards are to be placed. As I read it, first one lays out eleven cards in the column on one’s right, going from the bottom up; then come eleven more in the column on the left, also going from the bottom up; then eleven more in a row at the top, from right to left. Then a circle in the middle is formed in three parts: the first section, with the label “Past” between it and the right-hand column, is on the reader’s lower right, but laid out from the side of the enquirer, from right to left, 11 cards; the next, with the label “Present” between them and the “capital” row on top, from the reader’s perspective, 11 more cards, from right to left from the reader’s perspective; then 11 more cards on the reader’s lower left, but laid out from the enquirer’s perspective, from the enquirer’s right to his or her left, with “Future” between them and the left column. The top of each card, as it comes off the deck, faces inward in the circle.

I resume:
The first Card [Carte] was placed in position 1, continuing up to 11. They put the twelfth Card [Carte] at number 12, and so the others up to 22, etc. 1, 11, 34, 44, were the past [Stockman has “1 to 11 and 34 to 44”]; 12, 22, 45, 55, were the future [Stockman: “12 to 22 and 45 to 55”]; and 23, 33, 56, 66, [Stockman: “23 to 33 and 56 to 66”] were the present. If the 1 or the 8, according to the Sex of the enquirer, did not appear, they would take it from the remainder of the Deck, and place it in the middle, as you see, 8, Supposing that the reading is for a woman; for 1 would be for a man; in as much as it is true that the distance between man and woman is seven degrees; that caused Mohammed to commit an error, when he said that women are of Ouris [Stockman: “houris”; I think Etteilla means Horus], who will not enter into Paradise but will guard its door; having not understand that this difference of seven degrees existed only in the physical world.

The Egyptians read all the sections one after the other, beginning with the Past; then the Present, and last the Future; they took then for the past 8, 34, and 1; and following this procedure up to 8, 44, and 11, and likewise for the Present and the Future. I think one must read Etteilla (the price is only 1 livre 16 sous), if one wishes to understand how to read this spread, three cards by three cards and always using the ones [celles] of the center [Stockman: “three cards in relation to one another and always using the middle card”].
This last sentence is another place where the writing is as though by someone other than Etteilla, since he says “I think it is necessary to read Etteilla”--“On sent la nécessité de lire le Etteilla”. But giving the price is characteristic of Etteilla himself. The book []Cartonomancie[/i], 3rd edition, is slightly more expensive than the 3rd Cahier itself, which sells for 1 livre 10 sous, we learn at the end of that book.
Sometimes the Egyptian Sages would open their Operations with 12 leaves [cards]; but that was always for remarkable things [objets], such as harvests, decisions, battles; or also for the Sovereigns of the Nation, or foreign ones; or for their principals [commettants, I think prime ministers; Stockman has “constituents”]. But having completed the three operations that I detailed, they would do a fourth; even five or six if they wished, or if directed by the numbers; example: in placing the Cards [Cartes], if they saw a number well or badly placed among [Stockman: a number particularly well or badly placed in relation to] the others, they remembered it, and after this spread they placed as many leaves [i.e. cards] as the well or badly placed number, etc., had indicated to them.
Since there are only a couple of pages left of Papus’s excerpt, I will continue into Corodil’s next section, as as far as Papus does:
If it happened that a man had only one question to ask, and it was a legitimate one (for they were enemies of all that was vicious, or could lead to become such), then they would simply draw five leaves [i.e. cards] e.d.c.b.a., going from a to e as usual; if that did not give an answer, they drew 10 more leaves [cards], and they arranged them thus:

5 4 3 2 1.
E D C B A.
10 9 8 7 6.

And they read the cards going from 1 to 5, from A to E, and from 6 to 10; and then, as I have already said, if the cards still said nothing, they would have the querents come back [remetter] another day, adjure them to worship the Gods ever more strongly, and to love their fellows [sembables; Stockman: fellow human beings] or their neighbor.
At this point Papus stops excerpting from Etteilla’s 3rd Cahier. Papus ends with a paragraph attempting to interpret Etteilla’s numerology, which I think he says is his own hypothesis about Etteilla; but it relates more to the 1st and 2nd Cahiers than it does to the 3rd; so I will omit it here.

A too-severely edited version of Etteilla’s methods in laying out the cards, including a variant of the 67 card spread using all 78 cards and one other method not mentioned by Etteilla in the 3rd Cahier, is at We are fortunate to now have Etteilla himself—or at least I assume it’s Etteilla!
 Need help? Get your live Tarot Reading now      Top   #23