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Diana 
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That is a most upsetting article, Macavity.

Just when I was trying to wonder whether I should perhaps start and try to feel less bitterness and anger towards the Roman Catholic Church (in order to heal my own heart).

Well, I'll put that off for another lifetime.... or never.

Last edited by Diana; 27-10-2003 at 00:23.
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Old 27-10-2003 Limited time only: Chat live with a Tarot reader now and get 50% off!     Top   #41
jmd 
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...and of course, the earlier Christian book burnings occured with the Alexandrian library.

These are, along with numerous others, abominable acts.

They can certainly be understood as the effort of those in power to retain this power. Alternatively, they can also be understood (but not excused), as motivated by the desire to see anything which may have 'infected' the Soul of the converted. In this context, not only Jewish manuscripts, but also numerous people, amongst them Cathars, Jews, Muslims, and other heathens were burned or otherwise destroyed.

Much of this part of history is, of course, documented. The Roman Catholic Church wanting to present the Jewish scrolls as 'gifts' is more than regrettable, and I certainly will write yet another letter to representatives of the Pope to add my small voice.

This, however, does not show that history has been a concerted effort to hide abominations. Numerous individuals, for either their own sake or what they may see as the greater good, may have heled, conceiled, destroyed, or in other ways occulted abominations which may have otherwise implicated or shown in negative terms their, or their movement or church's, activity. We do not need to go to the Catholic Church, unfortunately, for this. It recurs in myriad guises.

With the Tarot, does this indicate that possibly, just possibly, the Tarot as a set of images (whether on paper stock, temple painting or relief carvings) was anterior to the middle ages? No. It indicates, at most, that if Tarot did exist prior to the middle ages, part of the process of oblitirating certain texts and images may account for the destruction of these (and even more so in Muslim lands). This, if any kind of evidence whatsoever was found for Tarot's earlier - and reasonably widespread - existence, would possibly account for the lack of direct finds.

Problem is, whether one looks at the images directly, or looks at remnants of other texts and images, of which thousands do remain, none have yet yielded to such possibility.

Apart from the Egyptian revival period prior to and following the Napoleonic expeditions, and hence part of the coloured glasses through which De Gebelin and many of his peers was to see their world, no Egyptian element, as directly Egyptian, was to be seen in the set of images.

This still of course leaves the possibility for certain individual Egyptian or other early images to have been, in metamorphosised form, incorporated in the Tarot (as I partly argue for especially the Empress card in this Forum). This is of course quite a different argument.

But enough of this longish post for now...
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From a totally different angle, I have more than a little trouble visualizing the Tarot as an illustrated card deck, (which is how it's defined, durn it) existing much pre-Gutenberg, except possibly in China or maybe the Byzantine empire, for a really, really simple reason: you can't shuffle parchment easily. Or papyrus.

Paper good enough to handle being used as card stock was a technological breakthrough that didn't occur to any great extent until the demand for paper created by the printing press made it worthwhile.

Before that, you certainly can say that all the symbols that can appear on a Tarot deck were certainly part of life and divination, but you're not talking about the Tarot until cards were first printed.



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Generally, games of chance that require a set of labelled objects were played with tiles before they were played with cards.

This brings up the chess and Tarot issue, but my understanding is that the oriental chess games are played with tiles. Tradition is the only reason domino games are still played with dominoes rather than paper cards.

Mah-jongg is even more playing card like, with suits and numbered symbols and "trumps" of a sort. In fact, it is perfectly feasible, if aesthetically less satisfying, to play mah-jongg with a deck of mah-jongg cards. Does anyone know about the relative ages of mah-jongg versus playing cards?



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In the earlier thread Chinese connection and the Polo stick, there was some discussion on the dating of Mah-Jong.

It seems that, like so many other games, there are different views. Though it may have pre-19th century atecedents, as Mah-Jong it appears t have arisen quite late, and certainly well after paper.
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Astra also brings forth important points regarding paper production. In an earlier thread (Trionfi.com proudly presents), I also mention the breakthrough in paper production in Spain a couple of centuries prior to the arrival of the Visconti-Sforzas.

Good paper production was of course necessary prior to the usefulness of the later developed printing press. In any case, images such as the Tarot continued to be printed by techniques which remain for non-movable type.

The printing press, with its movable type, undoubtedly arose after its already established usage of non-movable reproductions, whether from copper plates or other.

Irrespective, the importance of paper production, as Astra mentions, as opposed to the usage of other materials, becomes important in the advent, introduction, popularisation and development of Tarot as Tarot.
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HudsonGray 
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Just to throw something weird into the pot--paper doesn't necessarily have to be used to have 'cards' made. I'm thinking in particular of the African spider divination system -- there's info over here: http://lucy.ukc.ac.uk/Fdtl/Spider/

I've seen a set of the cards in our own museum here in Milwaukee, they're small, the size of half dollars, with symbols & script written on them, very thin--made from palm leaves. The stiffness and thickness is similar to a business card, rather than to a dried oak leaf or such. This form of divination goes way back, centuries. I speculate that it's possible materials other than paper could be used, it's the 'shuffling' technique that would have had to be adjusted.



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Ross G Caldwell 
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Thanks for this. Using Palm leaves as "cards" for divination goes back more than centuries even - millennia.

Quote:
Originally posted by HudsonGray
Just to throw something weird into the pot--paper doesn't necessarily have to be used to have 'cards' made. I'm thinking in particular of the African spider divination system -- there's info over here: http://lucy.ukc.ac.uk/Fdtl/Spider/

I've seen a set of the cards in our own museum here in Milwaukee, they're small, the size of half dollars, with symbols & script written on them, very thin--made from palm leaves. The stiffness and thickness is similar to a business card, rather than to a dried oak leaf or such. This form of divination goes way back, centuries. I speculate that it's possible materials other than paper could be used, it's the 'shuffling' technique that would have had to be adjusted.
This example comes from Egypt, around the first few centuries of our era.

[note PGM is "Papyri Graecae Magicae", or Greek Magical Papyri; published in English trans. by Hans Dieter Betz of University of Chicago]
PGM XXIVa. 1-25:

"Great is the Lady Isis!" Copy of a holy book found in the archives
of Hermes: The method is that concerning the 29 letters through which letters Hermes and Isis, who was seeking
Osiris, her brother and husband, [found him].

Call upon Helios and all the gods in the deep concerning those things for which you want to receive an omen. Take 29 leaves of a male date palm and write on each of the leaves the names of the gods. Pray and then pick them up two by two. Read the last remaining leaf and you will find your omen, how things are, and you will be answered clearly.

(note 1:
According to W. Schubart, Einfu/hrung in die Papyruskunde (Berlin: Weidmann, 1918) 369, the twenty-nine letters represent the Coptic alphabet)

Neat - gods, cards, alphabet, divination, Egypt!

Ross



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firemaiden 
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..of course, if, when pan uses the word "tarot", he is not talking about the 78 pieces of cardstock organized in a particular sequence of 22 triumps and 4 suits; but intends, rather, to mean the "art of divination" itself, or even "the art of communicating with the divine", well then, in that case we need never have quarreled ... defined that way, "tarot" can be older than God...or -- at least the same age.

Last edited by firemaiden; 27-10-2003 at 16:52.
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Diana 
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Quote:
Originally posted by firemaiden
..of course, if, when pan uses the word "tarot", he is not talking about the 78 pieces of cardstock organized in a particular sequence of 22 triumps and 4 suits; but intends, rather, to mean the "art of divination" itself, or even "the art of communicating with the divine", well then, in that case we need never have quarreled ... defined that way, "tarot" can be older than God...or -- at least the same age.
Pity he's not around to say what he was thinking.

But I'm pretty sure he was not talking only of the Art of Divination or Communicating with the Divine. I think, although I may be wrong, and I join him completely here, that the Tarot as we know it in its present form existed before the cards started being printed (in some form, whether it be pictorial or purely oral) .

Those 22 Trumps..... strange beings they be.
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