Aeclectic Tarot
Tarot Cards & Reviews Free Tarot Readings Tarot Books Tarot Card Meanings Tarot Forum

Correspondances kabalah - tarot, for or against

  > Aeclectic Tarot Forum > Beyond Tarot > Kabbalah & Alphabets


 
DimSum  DimSum is offline
Resident
 
Join Date: 15 Jun 2008
Location: Flagstaff, Arizona
Posts: 15
DimSum 

It is clear to me from working with both Kabbalah and Tarot that there is a direct correlation. But most of the Tarot systems out there are "off" in their numbering of the Hebrew letters because of where the fool is placed.

I avidly read and study what is out there, but when source materials disagree (such as where to place Fool at...0? 22? 21?), I decide on my own based on my own personal experience with the cards, with the Hebrew letters, and my intuitive understanding of the material.

Fool makes sense to me at 21, letter Shin, nowhere else. No matter how hard i tried to "make" Aleph fit as 2 it just felt wrong, Aleph has to be 1.

I also discard as inaccurate the current "fool" definition, and prefer the older interpretation, which is why it makes sense to me at 21.

The beauty of working with any system deeply is that we are free to make these decisions based on what resonates with our own inner knowing. No "canned" definitions of a card can ever match our own personalized understanding that we develop over the years through building our own relationship with the card (or Hebrew letter).
Top   #11
Parzival's Avatar
Parzival  Parzival is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 26 Apr 2004
Location: Maryland, U.S.A.
Posts: 849
Parzival 
Correspondence


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ligator
PS

In Hall I also found this: "The diverse opinions of eminent authorities on the Tarot symbolism are quite irreconcilable. The conclusions of the scholarly Court de Gébelin and the bizarre Grand Etteila--the first authorities on the subject--not only are at radical variance but both are equally discredited by Levi, whose arrangement of the Tarot trumps was rejected in turn by Arthur Edward Waite and Paul Case as being an effort to mislead students. The followers of Levi--especially Papus, Christian, Westcott, and Schuré-are regarded by the "reformed Tarotists" as honest but benighted individuals who wandered in darkness for lack of Pamela Coleman Smith's new deck of Tarot cards with revisions by Mr. Waite.

Most writers on the Tarot (Mr. Waite a notable exception) have proceeded upon the hypothesis that the 22 major trumps represent the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This supposition is based upon nothing more substantial than the coincidence that both consist of 22 parts.... The task, however, of discovering the proper relationship sustained by the Tarot trumps to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the Paths of Wisdom thus far has not met with any great measure of success. The major trumps of the Tarot and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet cannot be synchronized without first fixing the correct place of the unnumbered, or zero, card--Le Mat, the Fool. Levi places this card between the 20th and 21st Tarots, assigning to it the Hebrew letter Shin (ש). The same order is followed by Papus, Christian, and Waite, the last, however, declaring this arrangement to be incorrect. Westcott makes the zero card the 22nd of the Tarot major trumps. On the other hand, both Court de Gébelin and Paul Case place the unnumbered card before the first numbered card of the major trumps, for if the natural order of the numbers (according to either the Pythagorean or Qabbalistic system) be adhered to, the zero card must naturally precede the number 1.

This does not dispose of the problem, however, for efforts to assign a Hebrew letter to each Tarot trump in sequence produce an effect far from convincing. Mr. Waite, who reedited the Tarot, expresses himself thus: "I am not to be included among those who are satisfied that there is a valid correspondence between Hebrew letters and Tarot Trump symbols." .... Mr. Case has developed a system which, while superior to most, depends largely upon two debatable points, namely, the accuracy of Mr. Waite's revised Tarot and the justification for assigning the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet to the unnumbered, or zero, card. Since Aleph (the first Hebrew letter) has the numerical value of 1, its assignment to the zero card is equivalent to the statement that zero is equal to the letter Aleph and therefore synonymous with the number 1."


http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/sta/sta31.htm
A thought provoking quotation, from which I have taken a few passages, indicating that there is no definitive esoterically based correspondence system of Hebrew letters and Tarots, according to Manly Hall and Arthur Waite. Wirth corresponds Magician and Aleph, while Waite corresponds Fool and Aleph, which takes their two series of correspondences in dramatically different directions through the 22 Major Arcana. I respect and appreciate the attempt to synthesize and consolidate all Western esoteric lore (including Hebrew letters matched Tarot icons) into the Tarot, but the contemplative endeavor at this is less progressive than the actual Alchemical, Grail, and Pythagorean connections. And then there is the astrological correspondence with the Hebrew letters and with the Tarots (strong variations between Wirth and Waite) and the letters' metaphorical meanings (camel for Gimel, Fishhook for Tzaddi,etc) with the Tarots -- while Wirth makes generally profound and meaningful associations in his The Tarot of the Magicians, the whole correspondence system seems a metaphysical mess to me. At least his basic letter, Tarot icon, and constellation correspondences make sense on the whole.
Manly Hall's opening statement is as true as a diamond is hard. Also see Gad's Tarot and Individuation, the chapter on "Tarot and Astrology," (pp 331-343) which concludes that Wirth's correspondence system of Hebrew letters and Tarots "seems to have the higher number of fitting equivalences" when compared with the Golden Dawn system. She brings an important aspect into the controversy : are there really "fitting equivalences" between Hebrew letters and Tarot,etc, or is it all a Magician's illusion?
Top   #12
Parzival's Avatar
Parzival  Parzival is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 26 Apr 2004
Location: Maryland, U.S.A.
Posts: 849
Parzival 
Correspondences


Quote:
Originally Posted by moderndayruth
I doubt anyone really knows, those who claim they do might be very wrong as well
I've been studyng Kabbalistic texts for quite some time now - no mentioning of Tarot , at least i haven't found them yet.
I do see the obvious similarities and correspondences between the two systems, there are many theories stating Tarot derives from Kabbalah - but apparently no evident proof for it.
I am studyng both simultaneosly without battering my head against the wall to make attributions, nevertheless - in my experience, both studies complement and deepen each other.
Maybe the effort to see how the two systems "complement" each other is more important, as awakening and strengthening the higher mind (as synthesis and harmony builder), than the actual correspondences, which (to me) are sometimes "obvious" and sometimes strikingly disconnected. Maybe the effort to encompass and combine, to bring together aleph and Magician and Mercury,etc, is the Reality, and not the final chart of fixed correspondences. Isn't the path of discovering all the esoteric links and synchronous symbols the essential truth of it, not some closed and final set of questionable correspondences?
It seems to me that Wirth's Hebrew letter and Tarot icon interplays make insightful connections, while the Golden Dawn astrological and Tarot icon correspondences are sensible, while, as well, there is Nigel Jackson's Pythagorean-based system which makes significant connections between numbers and Tarot icons. But no one system of correspondences is the one perfect formula.
Top   #13
Greg Stanton's Avatar
Greg Stanton  Greg Stanton is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 07 Jul 2008
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Posts: 888
Greg Stanton 

I think the word "complement" is a good word to describe the relationship between Kabbalah and Tarot.

Historically, there is no evidence that the symbolism of the tarot sprang from the Kabbalah. In fact, the "version" of the Kabbalah that Gébelin/Lévi understood was a Christian conception designed to convert Jews to Christianity -- I'm not kidding here. The top three sephiroth were re-defined to represent the holy trinity (among other things). It's not authentic Jewish Kabbalah, but it's the system on which both Lévi, the Golden Dawn and Crowley based their attributions -- though Lévi's and GD's do not match up (go figure). Also, the cards and their meanings were altered by all of these parties to fit the theory. The trumps were re-ordered and re-named, and the Golden Dawn devised its own meanings for the pips based on astrology (which were completely at odds with established practice).

I think a study of the Kabbalah is essential for people who wish to increase their knowledge and storehouse of concepts and ideas. It is a philosophically rich and complex explanation of the act of creation. Its relationship to the Tarot -- I'm talking about the traditional Kabbalah here, not the GD version -- is tenuous. In other words, understanding Kabbalah can enrich your understanding of the tarot, but no more than it can enrich your understanding of anything else.

Less esoteric and more interesting to me, is how the Medieval symbolism in the early decks seems to relate to human maturity, evolution, and the circle of life. The original artists that created these images were probably not thinking along these lines, but I think the trumps may be an unconscious expression of how humanity relates to the world -- on Medieval European terms, at least. To my mind, it's far more compelling than the "Kabbalistic" interpretation.
Top   #14
venicebard's Avatar
venicebard  venicebard is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 31 Mar 2005
Location: California, USA
Posts: 935
venicebard 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moderndayruth
I do see the obvious similarities and correspondences between the two systems, there are many theories stating Tarot derives from Kabbalah - but apparently no evident proof for it.
I would be glad to present 'proof' (sound argument, at least). But it is based on my own analysis, not on acceptance of the string of moderns who have speculated on it.

As an appetizer: the reason there are three males and one female in the courts of the Tarot of Marseilles is because the yod and hehs of the Name fall on the male side and the vav on the female side of the round of the year, in the original order of the twelve simples about the round -- samekh tzaddi cheyt vav ayin qof teyt heh zayin yod lamedh nun -- which is in turn verifiable based on their shapes -- samekh shows the head, tzaddi the throat (tzaddi and tzaddi-sofit [final version] in breathing and swallowing, respectively), cheyt the shoulders-and-arms, old Semitic vav a breast pouring forth milk, and so on -- and on their seasonal application in the bardic calendar of tree-letters argued for by Robert Graves in his (much maligned) The White Goddess.

Search on!
Top   #15
Bernice's Avatar
Bernice  Bernice is offline
Denizen of the Coalsack Nebula
 
Join Date: 07 Dec 2007
Location: Central England
Posts: 3,901
Bernice 

I go along with Greg Stanton here.
Quote:
Historically, there is no evidence that the symbolism of the tarot sprang from the Kabbalah.
That's true, tarot and the Tree of Life developed separately. It was 19th century esoteric thinking that attempted to relate the two, and they succeeeded as far as popular-tarot goes, hence the Rider-Waite, G.D. Crowley etc. tarots.

However, I would also agree that anything & everything can be arranged on the TOL - but only in the TOL terms.

Bee
Top   #16
venicebard's Avatar
venicebard  venicebard is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 31 Mar 2005
Location: California, USA
Posts: 935
venicebard 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DimSum
It is clear to me from working with both Kabbalah and Tarot that there is a direct correlation. But most of the Tarot systems out there are "off" in their numbering of the Hebrew letters because of where the fool is placed.

I avidly read and study what is out there, but when source materials disagree (such as where to place Fool at...0? 22? 21?), I decide on my own based on my own personal experience with the cards, with the Hebrew letters, and my intuitive understanding of the material.

Fool makes sense to me at 21, letter Shin, nowhere else. No matter how hard i tried to "make" Aleph fit as 2 it just felt wrong, Aleph has to be 1.
This is incomprehensible to me: you would renumber tarot rather than try to understand it?

First of all, no-one puts alef at 2. But more importantly, there is a numbering system by which medieval Irish bards referred to letters, and it includes zero and has, arguably, 22 terms. In it, H (Heb. cheyt, Gr. heta or eta, Latin H) is zero. It stands for space, that in which the numbered terms occur: indeed its sound is that of a mere puff of air, our way of indicating what is dissipated through space. And there, A/alef/alpha is 1: who knew. I don't buy the Fool as shin: shin shows a crown or a tooth and is the willow S or saille in Irish, which symbolized the gushing-forth of spring.
Quote:
I also discard as inaccurate the current "fool" definition, and prefer the older interpretation, which is why it makes sense to me at 21.
Forgive my obtuseness: what 'older' interpretation?
Quote:
The beauty of working with any system deeply is that we are free to make these decisions based on what resonates with our own inner knowing. No "canned" definitions of a card can ever match our own personalized understanding that we develop over the years through building our own relationship with the card (or Hebrew letter).
Oh, so you don't wish to study things as they are.
Top   #17
Bernice's Avatar
Bernice  Bernice is offline
Denizen of the Coalsack Nebula
 
Join Date: 07 Dec 2007
Location: Central England
Posts: 3,901
Bernice 

Thread Topic: Correspondances kabalah - tarot, for or against?

The obvious response is that it depends on the deck you're using.

A deck that has been designed to accord with the Qabalah - by whatever method - will correspond with the Spheres &/or Paths on the Tree of Life. Differences of opinion about the specific arrangement of the cards may perhaps be resolved by choosing a deck that reflects your own preference.

A deck that has no distinct or apparent correlation with the TOL, can be used with whatever method or system best suits the user of the deck.

Bee
Top   #18
venicebard's Avatar
venicebard  venicebard is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 31 Mar 2005
Location: California, USA
Posts: 935
venicebard 

-
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bernice
I go along with Greg Stanton here. ["Historically, there is no evidence that the symbolism of the tarot sprang from the Kabbalah."] That's true, . . .
There may be no evidence from historical documents, but internal evidence is evidence too, and how certain are you no such exists? (Careful, as I can point out a great deal of such evidence.)
Quote:
. . . tarot and the Tree of Life developed separately. It was 19th century esoteric thinking that attempted to relate the two, . . .
You word this in such a way as to make it overstate your case: take out the "It was" and the "that" and you have a statement of fact. As is, your statement assumes no link existed between Kabbalah and tarot when tarot first appeared.
Quote:
A deck that has been designed to accord with the Qabalah - by whatever method - will correspond with the Spheres &/or Paths on the Tree of Life.
Tarot of Marseilles, because its pips are merely numbers and not pictures, does correspond therein to the Tree of ten Sefirot as manifested in the four worlds (since these correspond to the elements, as do the suit symbols themselves -- and please don't tell me Cups don't mean water and Swords don't split air and Staves don't burn and Coins don't purchase earthly goods). Indeed the entire design of TdM is quite consistent with Kabbalah and embodies it completely. Personally, I would not expect more modern 'reworkings' of tarot to have nearly as deep a relationship to the Qabbalah, much of which was lost (though retrievable, if done with care) by the time any such were conceived.

If one take Tarot of Marseilles as the original design (or virtually so) -- which makes more sense than the idea that it originated on the other side of the Alps, where no agreement existed even as to the order of the trumps! -- it is quite apparent Kabbalah explains the structure and design of the whole deck. The reason this is not readily apparent to all is that the wrong numbering system is being used to try to correlate trumps with letters, as is obvious from the fact that moderns cannot even agree on how to apply said numbering system to them. But the numbering system used in medieval Irish literature (and no doubt part of the same bardic tradition that yielded the 'Matter of Britain') matches letters to trumps perfectly, including 'zero' or no-number (LeMat), which is bardic H -- the breath by which we express what is empty or vacuous -- and thus Hebrew cheyt (whence Latin H).

The symbolism in many cases is patently obvious. For instance, vav is U-heather, which symbolized summer's consummation, hence 'coming of age', which in ancient Ireland was at 17: trump XVII shows a nude, buxom woman mixing two fluids in her pond! (Even the scientific content is fairly obvious, since 17 is the atomic number of chlorine, which is evidently what she is, on the surface anyway, pouring into her swimming pool!)

D-oak: the oak-king traditionally has 12 merry men and was the sacrificed god of the waxing year, and indeed trump XII shows him being sacrificed. Indeed dalet means 'door', which also 'swings' and is made of oak more oft than not.

S-willow: this tree signifies the overflowing fount of spring and is associated biblically with Babylon, symbolized by the shaken tower (Babel) in its trump, XVI.

R-elder: English tradition has it that to burn elder is to admit the devil into the house, and R is XV LeDiable.

L-rowan: rowan shelters young of other species (runic L is shaped like the eaves of a roof) so they can learn the ropes and eventually displace their 'teacher', and lemedh (lamedh with different vocalization) means teaching or learning, and sure enough it is XIIII Temperance.

N-ash: Aesop's fable has it that the forest offered up ash to be the woodsman's axe-handle, which then led to his becoming the Grim Reaper of the forest trees -- N is trump XIII (Death, the Grim Reaper).

M-vine: vine represents interconnectedness -- "I heard it through the grapevine" -- and is trump VI The Lover (as is carbon, atomic number 6, which gathers in chains and rings to form the basis of life!).

B-birch: birch represents the birth of the year (white bark, clean slate) and both the blessing of a clean slate and that of a hand raised in blessing, a hand's being of 5 fingers being the first thing we confirm upon the birth of a baby, and V LePape shows his hand raised in blessing to two diminutive figures being presented by the arm of their mother or nurse.

In short, every detail of the TdM trumps can be explained with similar coherent reasoning, but not in a vacuum; in other words, one has to dig a bit to know what trees symbolize and so on, since we moderns no longer think in such terms as a habit.

The kinship of Keltic and Judaic traditions is quite provable, and the fact that TdM was spawned by people with knowledge of a tradition mirroring Kabbalah in every respect is demonstrable beyond any reasonable doubt. The problem is simply that it requires the listing-off of too many data points to be 'comfortable'; that is, most are too lazy, or else too skeptical, to care. But I am compelled, still, to speak up when I see overstatements such as yours above.

Cordially,
Venicebard
Top   #19
Greg Stanton's Avatar
Greg Stanton  Greg Stanton is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 07 Jul 2008
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Posts: 888
Greg Stanton 

Interesting post, Venicebird.

I think that your explanation is more an indication that the Qabalistic concepts can be applied to literally anything, rather than proof that TdM was designed to correspond to Qabalistic philosophy. Firstly, the Qabalah was known only by an elite few when it was introduced to Europe in the 12th century, in Spain. Secondly, it's doubtful that a card GAME would have utilized complex, esoteric religious concepts in its design. And third, the trumps are covered with symbols common in mediaeval Christian Europe -- not what you would expect if these images were derived from Jewish philosophy.

What the cards represented to the European mind at the time of their inception is very different than how we view the cards now. For example, X The Hanged Man, was a depiction of a traitor -- who along with other criminals were commonly punished in this way. We see the card differently now because there is no point of reference in recent memory that coincides with the depiction of such a thing, and because the occultists re-defined what the card represented to conform with Qabalistic/Esoteric teachings. Incidentally, the 19th and early 20th century occultists all disagree with each other in regard to the Qabalistic attributions of the cards. Levi's attributions are completely at odds with the Golden Dawn's, yet both make sense Qabalistically -- it all depends on how you choose to look at the cards -- i.e. re-define them according to your theory. Crowley and the GD agree, but this is only because Crowley was parroting GD teachings. Also, the GD meanings for the minor arcana were copied, practically word-for-word (translated into English from a Latin edition) from the decan interpretations in the Picatrix. There is no precedent for this anywhere -- it is an arbitrary correlation devised by Mathers, who had to provide a unique, esoteric, "rectified" tarot for his followers. There was no "esoteric" tarot at the time, so Mathers simply invented one.

Reading more scholarly books about Tarot history (I recommend Dummet and Huson), it becomes quite apparent that Qabalistic and astrological meanings were grafted onto the (French, TdM) cards in the 19th century. There's no doubt that viewing the tarot through Qabalah-tinted glasses provides extra structure, dimension and definition. Theoretically, you could do the same with a pack of Loteria cards or a Sears catalogue for that matter. It's not proof that the cards originated from Qabalistic concepts -- only that the Qabalah is a rich and flexible system of thought that can be applied to all areas of life.
Top   #20




 


 


Tarot Cards & Reviews Free Tarot Readings Tarot Books Tarot Card Meanings Tarot Forum
Aeclectic Tarot Forum Links
· Tarot
· Tarot Special Interest
· Beyond Tarot
· Forum Library

Aeclectic Tarot Categories
· Angel Decks
· Dark & Gothic Decks
· Goddess Decks
· Fairy Decks
· Doreen Virtue Decks
· Beginner Decks
· Cat Decks
· Pagan & Wiccan Decks
· Ancient Egyptian Decks
· Celtic Decks
· Lenormand Decks
· Rider-Waite Decks
· Marseilles Decks
· Thoth Decks
· Oracle Decks
· List All Decks
· Popular Tarot Decks
· Available Decks
· Tarot Books
· What's New

Copyright © 1996 - 2019 Aeclectic Tarot. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy. Contact us.