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Quote:
Originally Posted by 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.
Of course it can be applied to anything, but not in the way you mean. It is the explanation for everything, but not in its twisted and decayed modern form: one has to dig a little (actually, a lot).
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Firstly, the Qabalah was known only by an elite few when it was introduced to Europe in the 12th century, in Spain.
This is a common error: it was 'introduced', that is, it sprang up in Provence-Languedoc (Isaac the Blind lived near Narbonne) and shifted to Spain in response to the Albigensian Crusade no doubt, which decimated the tolerant culture of the Midi early in the 13th century.
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Secondly, it's doubtful that a card GAME would have utilized complex, esoteric religious concepts in its design.
My view is that since the knowledge it represented had to go underground after reimposition of Church rule in the Midi (Provence-Languedoc) it would have been natural for it to have been camouflaged as a game: how else could it have been expressed?
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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.
As to this last point, of course the images are those of medieval Xian Europe, as that is where it flourished. And I have said all along that my own view is that it was not the product of Jews but of Gnostics -- not the heavily dualistic Gnostics, such as the Cathars, but simple bardic Gnostics, that is, adherents of the earlier Keltic form of Xianity that underlay the bardic corpus of the British Isles, which was brought to the Continent no doubt along with the 'Matter of Britain', that is, the Arthurian cycle, in the 12th century.

It is clear, for instance, that V LePape does not have the strong negative connotations it would have for Cathars (though not perhaps for all Jews, since one actually tried to convert him!) but rather simply connotes blessing: his hand is raised in blessing, as befits its number, that of the fingers of the hand and of the Keltic tree-letter beth or birch, whose meaning is blessing, namely the blessing (and counting of fingers on each hand) associated with the new-born, since birch is the first consonant and represents the birth of the spirit of the year. Indeed the card shows two children being blessed by him (and their mother's or nanny's arm entering the card from the side, as fits our letter B [from Greek] showing a pregnant torso in profile). Indeed birch besoms are used to switch evil spirits out of children, another form of 'blessing'.

I reject tarot's being a product of 'Christian Cabala', since this was an offshoot and not part of the main current of tradition. But the Qabbalah itself can only (I have surmised from a wealth of evidence) have sprung up in the first place from the meeting of Judaic and Keltic lore surrounding the alphabet and the ten primary principles (Sefirot), since much had been lost from decay in both traditions (as is also true today) and they needed each other to restore the greater original system of understanding, whose profundity can be gleaned from its resonance in the realm of physics, chemistry, and many other fields moderns are mere gropers around in: Qabbalah, properly understood, corrects modern science and thought in many ways, refuting both creationism and neo-Darwinism with its doctrine of Adam Qadmon (the Platonic-hence-eternal Form Upright Sentience, prior to division into male and female) and showing the exact counterpart in physics of the four alchemical elements by their charge and spin . . . and so on.

This means that the tarot (TdM clearly being the original) must have arisen from a Keltic strand of tradition that went underground at the time of the Albigensian Crusade but that had been instrumental in the reconstruction of the original pristine gnosis both the Judaic and Keltic trads were descended from, which within Judaism became the Kabbalah (Qabbalah's shredded remnants) but must have left its Keltic counterpart in Provence that led to Tarot of Marseilles.
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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.
I am not sure I buy this, though it has become dogma to tarot scholars. If it did, which is certainly possible, then there would have been an ironic twist in that 12 is the number medieval bards associated with D or duir, the oak (dalet in Hebrew means 'door', of which oak is the proper wood), tree of the 'king of the waxing year', who represented the heroic, that is, self-sacrifice. Indeed the deeper meaning, as I see it, is the inverted image on the back of the eye (which would explain his lack of concern at being upside down and the obvious fact that he is dancing a jig!), since oak is lightning's tree (and D's station on the Cauldron of the surroundings, from horizon within to horizon without, is the horizon without, to which we are connected by sight).
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We see the card differently now because . . .
. . . because the tradition whence tarot arose has been lost, pure and simple: I have had to painstakingly -- and against the current of all hereabouts (though the bulk of the work was done long before I ever went online) -- reconstruct it from fragments, by melding Keltic and Judaic currents just as they would have had to have done in the 12th century.

As for 19th- and early 20th-century speculations, I take them all with a grain of salt (Crowley, for instance, judging from his 777, didn't even know dalet corresponded to oak!), except in that they did notice the formal correspondence between 22 trumps and 22 letters, between 10 pips in 4 suits and 10 Sefirot in 4 worlds, and between 4 court cards in 4 suits and the 4-letter Name resounding through the 4 worlds. Yet even in this last they were misled by the incomplete Judaic tradition surrounding the Name into changing them from 3 males and 1 female to 2 of each. (The actual import of the court cards is almost certainly yod=King, heh=Knight, vav=Queen, and heh=Knave, since in the original distribution of simples about the round, samekh-tzaddi-cheyt-vav-ayin-qof-teyt-heh-zayin-yod-lamedh-nun [whose correctness can be solidly shown, but by somewhat lengthy argument], only vav, which in old Semitic showed a breast pouring forth milk, occurs on the female or outer side of the round; the outer side [spring and summer] is that of the female because it is the female who carries the outer or physical body to term, and because it is the front [outer side] pillar [Boaz] that is broken off at the sternum to allow for the swelling of the womb.)

I'll shut up now . . . or not.
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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.
First of all, such books are never available (except to the rich). Second of all, so what if (incorrect, as I see it) 'Qabalistic and astrological meanings were grafted onto' them: do the mistakes of others forever close off the path towards truth, or do we find that path on our own?
Top   #21
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Venicebird, I like your ideas -- because they are interesting. I have difficulty accepting them as fact because you haven't given us any proof to support your theories, only opinions. I also have a hard time believing that Kabbalah and Tarot had Celtic [Keltic?]/Gnostic origin without conclusive evidence -- some type of early documentation. I understand that the hard evidence for what you've laid out "could" have been lost in the sands of time, but you can't make arguments based on suppositions; it will lead you down a Robert Anton Wilson-style of conspiracy-theory(ish) diatribe. I would love to see you write a book on the subject.

Speaking of books, neither the Dummett or Huson books are expensive. A Wicked Pack of Cards costs about $50, History of the Occult Tarot (book 2 of the former) is around $40, and Huson's Mystical Origins of the Tarot is less than $15.00. All are worth the money, especially for someone as passionate about tarot history as yourself. Your local library must be able to locate copies as well.

Regarding occult "correspondences", I have a problem with this type of thinking in general. 777 (which Crowley stole from Mathers and the Golden Dawn), coupled with the New Age supposition that everything known to mankind (and more arrogantly, everything in the universe) has a common mystical source, and must therefore be imbued with layers of symbolic meaning, has caused a dangerous trend among those who would delve into the mysteries of esotericism.

I'll map it out as simply as I can. One who accepts the theory of occult correspondences looks up X in his book. X corresponds to XX, XXX, XXXX and so on. While X may have similarities to XX, XXX, and XXXX, it is not the same as any of these, merely a close approximation -- or sometimes, not even that: the hole must be filled by something in the same category, so the Master of Correspondences has thrown in the leftover piece (because, according to the Law of the New Age, everything MUST correspond, must add up into neat little rows). Correspondences do not expand our knowledge of a subject. They twist its meaning to fit into a particular system of thought. They NARROW our understanding of a subject, of its reality, by attempting to boil it all down to a common source.

Thoth is not Mercury, Ra is not Apollo, Isis is not Diana, etc. They're all different , even though, say, Apollo MAY have evolved from Ra -- they are different gods from different cultures, despite some similarities.

And this is essentially the flaw of our modern esoteric, Golden Dawn-derived tarot. The cards, both their meanings and designs were altered to fit set theories. Etteilla redesigned and re-interpreted the tarot to fit his theory of hermetic origin, and his cards were in use for roughly a hundred years. The Golden Dawn perverted the tarot to fit its theory of Qabalistic origin, and these cards (Thoth deck, RWS deck) have been in use for almost a hundred years. Venicebird, maybe your theory will be the one that sticks for the next hundred... who knows?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Stanton
Venicebird, I like your ideas -- because they are interesting.
I'm flattered, and no, I'm not being the least sarcastic (most simply attack me, whereas you begin and end with a compliments: you lift my morale!).
Quote:
I have difficulty accepting them as fact because you haven't given us any proof to support your theories, only opinions. I also have a hard time believing that Kabbalah and Tarot had Celtic [Keltic?]/Gnostic origin without conclusive evidence -- some type of early documentation.
I am not in any position so seek such documentation, which is why I am trying to stimulate some kind of interest in those who are! My only weapons with regard to tarot are logic, and internal evidence: the evidence of tarot's (mainly TdM's, but more and more the Sola Busca's as well) structure and contents. The evidence arising from exact correspondence of trumps to their corresponding bardic tree-letter-numbers, coupled with the uncanny way multiple layers of meaning are encased in them (i.e. the trumps) puts the question of their origin almost beyond doubt . . . which is one reason I reject an Italian origin, the other being that it is only north of the Alps that the trump order remained consistent.

As to multiple layers, I shall try to give an example. The number given in bardic tradition to the letter E, the quivering aspen, is 2, and its equivalent in Semitic is heh, the letter added to Abram to make Abraham (signifying the Covenant, that is, circumcision). Careful analysis of the phonetic structure implied by melding bardic equivalents (and the seasons vowels represent) with Sefer Yetzirah's division into 3 mothers, 7 doubles, and 12 simples puts U-O-A-AA-E-I-II along the bottom half of the round (waning year, cancer-to-capricorn), with A then replaced at virgo by Q, which as KK naturally goes where K does (virgo) when A takes its station at the center of the round-of-the-simples as one of the 3 'mothers' (wheels with lesser wheels in their bellies, meaning the first three of the four Ezekiel's vision was all about [centered, respectively, atop standing Adam, atop seated Adam, at the heart of seated Adam, and in the womb of seated Adam, each half the height of the one preceding]).

So: heh is therefore scorpio, the privates (called 'secrets' in old almanacs), as befits circumcision, and the 8th sign, circumcision being on the 8th day. Just so, II LaPapesse shows a circumcised member extending out from the curtain on the left, disguised as what clasps her cloak together in front: 'quivering' aspen, sensitive to the slightest breeze, symbolizes this most sensitive of human organs. Moreover, being (seasonally) autumn and the waning moon, the figure is a female one, since females (in pre-Christian Germanic tradition, indicative no doubt of more widespread convention in earlier times) were to be weaned during the waning moon (all the vowel-trumps conform to this convention, by the way). Moreover, E's name in the Boibel Loth (a set of letter-names associated with the ogham set of sounds, that is, with Ng instead of the P of the bethluisnion tree-alphabet) suggested to Robert Graves the Greek word for 'repose', repose being what naturally follows U's full moon (and summer), representing love's consummation: repose or rest is suggested by the fact that this trump is an obvious representation of the cloister (refuge of females from the travails of childbearing).

Moreover, she is reading a book, symbolizing the wisdom of age (the part of life after one's coming-of-age). Moreover, given that the (obviously jumbled) 12 functions assigned the simples in Sefer Yetzirah include the 4 senses (yes 4, since smell is just the more focused form of surface contact, that wherein is sensed the surfaces of individual molecules), and given that aspen, being ruffled by wind, represents air's sense, hearing (a great deal more went into this conclusion than just that, but I do not want to bore you), we can conclude that she is perhaps reading aloud, or at least that reading utilizes the sense of hearing within.

I have perhaps picked an example a bit to complex. A simpler one is XII LePendu. It is the sacrificed oak-king; oak being lightning, and 12 being magnesium's atomic number (and magnesium being used in signal lamps because of its highly actinic light), it is also the inverted image on the back of the eye; as the wood of doors (dalet means 'door'), he hangs in a door-shaped space; as the tree of Jupiter (/Zeus/Thor, i.e. the wielder of the thunderbolt), which is 4 in the Asiyah world (physical world of rounds [Coins] or cycles), he crosses his legs to suggest the number 4; and since oak symbolizes compass (extent of oak-king's dominion), he swings (as do doors) -- indeed the older Semitic form shows the jib of a vessel, while south Semitic has D as an axe (oak being the measure of its power, as the noblest tree it can fell).

One more, quickly: N the ash, tree of oars, handles, and spear-shafts, is 13, and trump XIII shows the Grim Reaper -- Aesop's fable about the forest offering up ash as woodsman's axe-handle explains the reference -- holding his scythe like an oar; and its place in the round is pisces (being the third tree-letter or month, the first being capricorn), which is the back of the neck or cervical vertebrae (aries being the head) in the closed zodiac, and just so it is the only trump in which we see the back of the neck and the cervical vertebrae. Semitic N shows an arm waving (sianara [sp?]), and pisces is the last sign. And frankly, what sound would you associate with death-and-negation?
Quote:
All are worth the money, especially for someone as passionate about tarot history as yourself. Your local library must be able to locate copies as well.
I think the Dummet is the only one I'm interested in, and I can't spare 50 at the moment, but thanx.
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And this is essentially the flaw of our modern esoteric, Golden Dawn-derived tarot. The cards, both their meanings and designs were altered to fit set theories.
Couldn't agree more.
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Venicebird, maybe your theory will be the one that sticks for the next hundred... who knows?
Again I am flattered (and I think you may be right).
Top   #23
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Venicebird, you have quite a stock of rich knowledge and you have obviously spent a great deal of time with, and thought on, the cards. I don't think you can do justice to what you've got on this forum. You've briefly discussed some interesting points that deserve more fleshing out, as it were, to make your theories readily acceptable. I hope you are hard at work on that book...

I'm still more inclined to believe that esoteric thought and the accompanying endless lists of correspondences lead one down a maze of revisionist perceptions of the world, rather than a clear and honest view of our past and present. But then, I'm a jaded rationalist.

Carry on, my friend. You may be on to something.
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Against...for me.

Edit: at this time.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Stanton
Venicebird, . . . I hope you are hard at work on that book...
The (introductory) one on Qabbalah is done (but not yet published). The one on tarot will take some time, and better circumstances (since I haven't enough time online to study Sola Busca and other historic records sufficiently at present), meaning a book on runes, and one on the alphabet in general perhaps, will precede it.
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I'm still more inclined to believe that esoteric thought and the accompanying endless lists of correspondences lead one down a maze of revisionist perceptions of the world, rather than a clear and honest view of our past and present. But then, I'm a jaded rationalist.
I was raised a jaded rationalist (and atheist). But what it (and my having the foresight to drop out of college) led me to was the realization that the modern scientific view of things is in many ways in need of massive revision if one is to see clearly. For instance, electromagnetism is vastly neglected in mainstream science: plasma cosmology has a coherent, empirical explanation of galactic formation, whereas the gravitational cosmology taught in the universities is laughable; and common electromagnetic geological phenomena such as crop circles and 'UFOs' are given nothing but spaced-out treatment (usually for profit). Add the irrationality of quark theory's 'force' that cannot be overcome by a greater force (and hence obviously not a force) and the irrationality of most interpretations of quantum theory (the many-universes theory being just one) and you might begin to get the picture. Another illustration is how the biologists, in their quite provincial way, mistake brain for mind . . . and so on.
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Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain


Manly P. Hall, like Robert Graves, E.A.Wallis Budge, Sir James George Frazer or any of the initiates of the ancient secret all employ the same method: If they tell you not to look at something it is with a wink they are really telling you to pay especially close attention.

And wisdom will play the Fool.
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