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The beginning of Tarot cards meaning - Etteillas Troisième Cahier

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kwaw  kwaw is offline
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Dangerous Words

Thanks Coredil, MikeH!

Re: "coupe de langue"

1. cutting remarks, hurtful words, harmfull talk, malicious gossip, scandalous rumours;
2. a taunt, quip, to mock;
3. a telling off, an earful, a pecking, a rebuke, to check, reproach.
4. to impute.

Un coup de langue est plus dangereux qu’ un coup de lance.
A hurtful word is more dangerous than a wound.
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MikeH  MikeH is offline
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I've put in the Italics I missed, and made the paragraphs correspond to the original. Thanks for pointing these errors out, Corodil. And thanks for the extended definition of "coup de langue", Kwaw. What dictionary (or link) are you using? I want to get it. It isn't in mine.

On "lame," "leaf" is one translation given at

Of course the primary meaning of "lame" is "blade". But in English "blade" can mean "leaf": blades of grass or leaves of grass. Maybe that is true in French, too, I don't know.

In English, "leaf" also has an old meaning of "Any of the sheets of paper bound in a book, each side of which constitutes a page" (, and also a thin strip of metal, especially gold. It seems to me that by "blade" Etteilla is meaning not just a card, but a page of the Book of Thoth, using a slightly archaic word to suggest an ancient book as well as the tablets of gold he describes it as. But I am guessing, supposing that what is true in English is true in French. Is my guess correct?

Added 8/28: Checking further, I see that "lame" means "leaf" only in the context of something made of metal, or something that looks like a knife-blade (as in blade of grass), and it is not listed as being used to mean a page of a book. Since Etteilla does say that the images of the tarot were originally written on gold, I have changed "leaf" to "sheet". ("Plate" is another possibility). I thank Corodil and Lotus Padma, both native French speakers, for prodding me here. Also, I know that he is referring to cards, but he is doing it in a deliberately arcane way.

(Added 8/29: to complicate matters, Lotus Padma informs me that the word "lame" is used in modern French to mean "card" in a tarot context. But perhaps that is due to Etteilla. However he certainly does use "lame" in the context where "card" would be appropriate in English.)

The idea that he was speaking of "leaves", like the leaves of a book, which I read somewhere, must have been in the context of "feuillets" or "feuilles", another word he uses instead of "cartes" and "lames"; it does mean "leaves".

Added 9/2/12: Here is Decker, Dummett, and Depaulis (Wicked Pack of Cards p. 85) on "feuillets" and "lames":
Alliette takes quite literally the idea that the cards, which he calls feuillets (again following Court de Gebelin) or lames (a term which was to meet a greater success among XIX-century occultists), form the pages of a book: hence every card should be numbered, as the pages of a book are numbered, and not just the twenty-one trumps.
To convey the idea of pages of a book, which seems to be the intention of all these theorists who hold to the Egyptian order of the tarot, "sheet" works better than "plate" as a translation of "lame".

Added much later: there is also the English word "lamina", meaning "a very thin layer of material"; it is very little used.
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MikeH  MikeH is offline
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I have revised this post since I first wrote it. In brackets at the end of each discussion of a card, I have added material from other sources. I have already talked about these sources in an earlier post, but here they are again for easy reference:

S = The Etteilla material in Stockman’s translation of Papus’s Tarot Divinatoire. There is one keyword and then a word-list for both upright and reversed meanings, of which I only give a few.

R = Revak’s translations of the same, at

F = the keywords in English and French on the 1969 France Cartes (Grimaud) deck

D = the keywords in English and French in the booklet that comes with Dusserre’s edition of the Grand Etteilla III (entitled Tarot Egyptien, Grand Jeu de l”oracle des Dames)

Added 9/2: DDD = Decker, Dummett, and Dupaulis, Wicked Pack of Cards.

c. 1840 = in French only, "Julia Orsini," Le Grand Etteilla, ou L'Art de Tirer les Cartes, which has same keywords as D plus word-lists for both upright and reversed.

I only cite these sources when they say something different from Etteilla's French or my English.
No. 12. Prudence; (*8) sometimes when this Card comes up in the reading, it is a piece of wise advice to proceed carefully, because it is recognized that prejudice and ignorance make a crime of our most praiseworthy acts, when they do not understand the steps that we take to bring the unrefined man to a life that is honest and useful to Society; it means Caution [French original: Prudence]. [In reverseds, S & R Nation; F & D Le Peuple = The Masses in F, The People in D]

No. 13, Marriage (*9); this Hieroglyph is one of those on which the Egyptians were very expansive. They said: Marriage is the absolute will of the Creator, and whoever disturbs this agreement, or diverts its progress, will not live in this world, nor in the other. means Marriage. [In reverseds, S & R lists have Society; F & D Union = Union]

Nº. 14. The Devil. The Egyptians, by this word Devil, or Demon, did not understand infernal Spirits enchained in the abyss, but a man whose science surpassed many others; finally, who knew everything by divine gift, or by prolonged [interpassante] study. Such were the Brahmins, the Gymnosophs, the Druids, etc., etc. This Hieroglyph means superior force, in everything concerning the things of human life. [S force majeure [left in French]; R Great Force; F & D Force Majeure = F Absolute Necessity; D Major Force; DDD Major Force. Reversed: F Force Majeur = Absolute Necessity; D Force Mineure = Minor Force. S list, slightness, weakness; R, insubstantial, weakness; c. 1840 Légèrité, Faiblesse, i.e. lightness, weakness]

Nº. 15. The Bateleur, (*10) means Illnesses: in a different sense, sometimes regarded as a Mage, it means Health. [S Sickness, in list illness, infirmity; R Illness, infirmity; F & D Maladie = Illness, both upright and reversed; DDD Illness. S list has in reversed, mental illness, headache; R reversed has Mental Illness...Head Injury; c. 1840 reversed, Indisposition...mal de tete, i.e. headache]

No. 16. Judgment. C.B.A., Judgment in C, says that you judge on nothing. B.C.A., what you judge of B is true; what you judge of A is false; means Judgment. [F & D Jugement = Judgment, both upright and reversed; S & R reversed lists: arrest, decree, weak mind]

Nº. 17. Death. Note that death has to come; but you should not get it mixed up. C.B.A., Death in C. says nothing; A.C.B., bad news for A; but as the book of the Oracles is not one of Decrees, it is most often necessary to believe that the death coming here in C is only a small courtesy visit that it renders to A: nevertheless it would be necessary to distrust B; because it is he who sends C to A. And finally, for C to bring lead(shot) to A, there would have to be D.A.C.B.; if we find A and B and C alone, it means death, or as little of it as necessary, for the sheet [= card, Fr. lame] that follows, which most often is an unknown, or a Project, or a Legal Case; and in this last case, so much the better.[S keyword Mortality, in list death, in reverseds list inertia; R Mortality, then in list annihilation, inertia; F & D Mortalité = Death in F, Mortality in D; DDD Mortality; in reverseds F & D Néant = Nothingness]

No. 18. The Hermit. The Egyptians took this, as the Provençals say, as The Capuchin [Friar], when the first degree of Knowledge and human Wisdom is reached: these Philosophers there were themselves, in a way, forced by their contemporaries, and by their Followers, so that, according to the vulgar idea, the corpuscles of the sublime did not exalt not so freely: today this Hieroglyph means a hypocrite, a traitor (*11). [S Traitor, in list betrayal...deceit, hypocrisy, and in reverseds loner; R Traitor, Treason...Dissimilation, Hypocrisy, and in reverseds Hermit; c. 1840 Fourbe [deceitful[, Hypocrite, reverseds Hermite; F & D Traitre = Traitor, in both uprights and reverseds; DDD Traitor]

No. 19. Maison-Dieu [lit. House-God, but in Old French, per Kwaw's later post, meaning House of God]. As we see that this House looks like the Tower of Montgommery, which has just been knocked over, or a small Castle that has been knocked over, it is very correct not to make it, like the ignoramuses, the Temple of the Eternal. So, as shown by the Egyptians, who never named it Maison-Dieu, but House of the punishments of God means Prison, poverty. [S Distress, then in list situs, misery or wretchedness...poverty, and imprisonment in the reverseds; R Misery, in list Distress...Poverty and in reverseds Imprisonment; c. 1840 Indigence...Détresse, then Imprisonnement; F & D Misère = Poverty in F and Misery in D, and in reverseds, F & D Prison = Prison; DDD Misery/Jail]

No. 20. The Wheel of Fortune. This Hieroglyph means increase and fortune; note however that every time it appears in a spread, you should not believe that it is ours; finally, it is necessary to consider where it is placed (*12).[S Fortune, in list good luck, happiness, and in reverseds Development; R Fortune, in list Happiness, and reverseds Increase; c. 1840 in list Bonheur, reverseds Accroissment; F & D Fortune = Fortune, and in reverseds Augmentation = F Raise and D Increase; DDD Fortune]
*8. Cross off absolutely the hideous name of the hanged man, which the most excessive ignorance gave to this invaluable virtue.

*9. In the work I give reasons for the transposition that I make of this Hieroglyph in the place of death, which I classify as No. 17. And without demonstrating here that I am just translating the thought of the Egyptians, I say that it is necessary to go back to the spirit of Marriage, which is birth, as birth is the spirit of death, and this one of life.

*10. This hieroglyph is very altered; it was a mage. ...

*11. I warn the Reader that I always translate only with regard to the divination of the Egyptians.

*12. This has often been thought very bad, going as far as regarding it insane; but I believe it very wise, because it takes as its task only tormenting the insane.
In no. 17, I read a semicolon ( after "D.A.C.B." and before "on". Otherwise I don't know how to understand this paragraph.

I notice that Simon's France Cartes 1969 bilingual deck translates "force majeur" as "absolute necessity". The English "major force" does not convey this sense. Does "force majeur" convey that sense in French?

[Added 8/20: In the post that follows, Kwaw gives an excellent explanation of the reasons for "absolute necessity". My current choice, "superior force", is the Wikipedia article's translation of the original Latin phrase vis major.)
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kwaw  kwaw is offline
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A superior or irresistable power

Originally Posted by MikeH View Post
I notice that Simon's 1969 bilingual deck translates "force majeur" as "absolute necessity". The English "major force" does not convey this sense. Does "force majeur" convey that sense in French?
Force majeure = Absolute necessity.
You use the expression 'c'est un cas de force majeure' = it's a case of absolute necessity.

Read more:

See also Collins French-English dictionary:

and websters:

cas de force majeure (act of God, acts of God, case of absolute necessity, emergency situation, catastrophes)

Dictionnaire de l'Académie françoise, 1765:

On appelle Force majeure , Une puissance supérieure à laquelle on ne peut résister. L'autorité du Prince , du Magistrat, du General est une force majeure. I faut céder à la force majeure. Les ennemis qui font maîtres d'un pays ,sont une force majeure.

A higher power that can not be resisted is called a Force Majeure. The authority of the Prince, the Magistrate, the General is a major force. One must yield to the force majeure. The enemies who are masters of a country, are a force majeure.

There is the contractual, legal, Act of God sense :

"The term force majeure relates to the law of insurance and is frequently used in construction contracts to protect the parties in the event that a segment of the contract cannot be performed due to causes that are outside the control of the parties, such as natural disasters, that could not be evaded through the exercise of due care."

The understanding of force majeure in French law is similar to that of international law and vis major as defined above. For a defendant to invoke force majeure in French law, the event proposed as force majeure must pass three tests:

The defendant must have nothing to do with the event's happening.
If the event could be foreseen, the defendant is obligated to have prepared for it.[5] Being unprepared for a foreseeable event leaves the defendant culpable.
The consequences of the event must have been unpreventable.

Example Clause:
Clause 19. Force Majeure
A party is not liable for failure to perform the party's obligations if such failure is as a result of Acts of God (including fire, flood, earthquake, storm, hurricane or other natural disaster), war, invasion, act of foreign enemies, hostilities (regardless of whether war is declared), civil war, rebellion, revolution, insurrection, military or usurped power or confiscation, terrorist activities, nationalisation, government sanction, blockage, embargo, labor dispute, strike, lockout or interruption or failure of electricity or telephone service. No party is entitled to terminate this Agreement under Clause 17 (Termination) in such circumstances.
If a party asserts Force Majeure as an excuse for failure to perform the party's obligation, then the nonperforming party must prove that the party took reasonable steps to minimize delay or damages caused by foreseeable events, that the party substantially fulfilled all non-excused obligations, and that the other party was timely notified of the likelihood or actual occurrence of an event described in Clause 19 (Force Majeure)

No. 19. Maison-Dieu [lit. House-God]. As we see that this House looks like the Tower of Montgommery, which has just been knocked over, or a small Castle that has been knocked over, it is very correct not to make it, like the ignoramuses, the Temple of the Eternal. So, as shown by the Egyptians, who never named it Maison-Dieu, but House of the punishments of God means Prison, poverty.
I cannot see in the original where Ettiella makes any reference to Maison-Dieu being literally house-god -- is that your own interpolation? While this would be correct in terms of modern french it is incorrect in this instance, maison-dieu is a remnant of Old French which may persist in such things as place names and means house of god.* The name is also used of such places in England as a remnant of Norman French influence -- the alternative latin name which may also be applied to such places is domus dei - house of god.


*Old French possessed an oblique-genitive case: the possessor (Dieu) may follow the possessed (Maison) without an intervening preposition (de) in the oblique case. That is 'maison dieu' means 'house of god' or 'god's house' in Old French (maison de dieu in modern french).

47.1. Genitive use of the oblique case. The possessor follows the
object or person possessed without an intervening preposition:

le lit son seignor (12:412)
her husband's bed

La mort le roi Artu (Aspland, 14)
The death of King Arthur

This construction is used exclusively when the possessor is a singular
person referred to by proper name or by title indicating family status
(e g , father, mother, son) or social position (e g , king, count, knight).

Note that in genitive constructions m which the possessor is Dieu 'God,'
cui (see 11 44 2), autrui 'other, another/ or nului 'no other, no one,' or in
certain archaic or fixed expressions, the possessor may precede:

U Deu enemi (16 1)
God's enemies

L'autrui joie prise petit (10, 178)
The joy of another he scarcely esteems

end quote from
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MikeH  MikeH is offline
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Thank you, Kwaw. I see that "house-God" is misleading. I will remove it. was just explaining what "maison" and "Dieu" meant, which is not the same as a literal translation of "Maison-Dieu". I will put "[Old French for House of God]" after "Maison-Dieu."

From your examples for "force majeur", I am not convinced that "absolute necessity" quite conveys the French meaning in the various contexts you give. "Force that one cannot be expected to resist" seems closer. And how would you translate "force majeur" in Etteilla's explanation of the reversed meaning (in the passage translated below), where he says the "force majeur" is less? Revak translates "force majeur" as "great force" (

Now to the next section. On 8/19/12 I revised what I wrote earlier, by adding material from other sources after what Etteilla says about each meaning. For easy reference, they are:

S = Stockman’s translation of the Etteilla material in Papus’s Tarot Divinatoire. For trumps and number cards, there is one keyword and then a word-list for both upright and reversed meanings, of which I only give a few. For the courts, there is no keyword but instead some words along the right side of Papus's cards, one or more of which seem to relate to Etteilla.

R = Revak’s translations of Papus word-lists, at

F = the keywords in English and French on the 1969 France Cartes (Grimaud) deck, for which the French keywords of the 20 cards shown in Decker, Dummett, and Depaulis's Wicked Pack of Cards correspond exactly.

D = the keywords in English and French in the booklet that comes with Dusserre’s edition of the Grand Etteilla III (entitled Tarot Egyptien, Grand Jeu de l”oracle des Dames)

DDD = Decker, Dummett, and Depaulis, Wicked Pack of Cards. They give nothing for the courts. When they show the card-image, and the French keyword is different from F, I give the French as well. This only occurs in one instance (out of 20 cards), card 29.

c. 1840 = French only, "Julia Orsini," Le Grand Etteilla, ou L'Art de Tirer les Cartes, which has same keywords as D plus word-lists for both upright and reversed.

I cite these sources only when they say something different from Etteilla's French or my translation.
N. 21. The Chariot, means noise, quarrel, dissension, bad order: the little ones [the Egyptians?], no doubt angry against chariots, say with a common voice, that it is neither good nor pleasant to be made wet like water spaniels, and squashed like fleas. [S Disagreement, in list war...dispute, noise...disorder, in reversed noise, dispute; R Dissention, in list war, dispute, disruption, in reversed unrest, racket; c. 1840 Troubles, Emeutes...Guerre [Troubles, Riots, War], reversed Bruit, Tapage [Noise, Commotion]; F & D both upright and reverseds Dissension = F Disagreement, D Dissension; DDD Dissension]

No. 0. The Madman, or Madness; this Card is the only one that in fact never had a number; which returns well enough to the fact that it is hardly possible to assign a number to our dear madnesses (13); means madness . [R and DDD Folly, all others Madness, for both upright and reversed. S list has madness...dementia, extravagance, unreasonableness, reversed idiocy, ineptitude, carefreeness. R list has Demented, Eccentricity [Extravagance], Insanity, reversed Imbecility, Ineptitude, Carelessness; c. 1840 has Démence, Extravagance, Déraison, reversed Imbécilité, Ineptie, Insouciance.] It is necessary to understand that these first 22 Leaves never had, for the Egyptians, with regard to divination, a single meaning; but when this book was finally moved and mixed, opened, or cut, and one of these 22 Hieroglyphs coming upside down, then the forecast was less, that is to say, the chariot coming reversed, upside down, the quarrel is less considerable.

If the so-called Devil comes feet at the top, the superior force [force majeur] is less; so of these twenty-two meanings, 22 major Hieroglyphs being interpreted, as I said for divination, and not for hermetic Philosophy, which is so perfectly developed there, that it is impossible not to recognize in it the Originals of all the Adepts who have written. We are going to pass to the 56 minor Hieroglyphs, taken up under the primary four faces, which have all the numbers relative to the high Sciences, or second Human sciences. (*14)

Staves [bâtons] in their positions. Situs. [Latin for "Situated"; it might be his term for "Upright"]

N. 22. King of stave [bâton], this is a man. [S on side of card: Head Man, Man of Will and Enterprise, Dark Man; S in list: countryman...Conscience; R Man of the Country...conscientious; F & D Homme de Campagne = F Country Gentleman; D The Country Man]

N. 23. The Lady, this is [i]a woman/i]. [S on side: Woman of Enterprise, Dark Woman; S in list: countrywoman...gentleness, virtue; R Woman of the Country...Gentleness, Virtue; F & D Femme de Campagne = F Country Lady; D The Country woman]

N. 24. The Knight, means Departure (1). [S on side: Setting Off (Envoy to a Chief), Dark Youth; in list departure; R same; F & D Départ = Departure]

N. 25. The Page, Good Stranger [or foreigner]. [S on side: Chief’s Envoy, Good Stranger/Foreigner; S in list: stranger or foreigner; R Stranger; F Étranger = Stranger; D Bon Étranger = Good Stranger. See also Etteilla, 4th Cahier Supplement, p. 145, where he says "étranger: nous y avons mal-à-propre ajouté le mot bon- stranger [or foreigner]: we have inappropriately added the word good, and p. 147, where he changes the keyword to Étranger without the Bon]

N. 26. 10 of batons, Betrayal. [R & D; Treason]

N. 27. 9, Delay. [S in list: lateness, delay]

N. 28. 8, Day trip to the country. [S in list, R countryside...pleasure; F & DDD Campagne = Country; D Partie de Campagne = Country Party]

N. 29. 7, Prattle. [S Gossip; S in list negotiation; R Discussion; F & D Pourparlers = F Negotiations; D Preliminary Talks; DDD Pour Parler = Negotiations] [See also 4th Cahier Supplement, p. 145: Nous avons pas eu assez recours aux terms génériques, ayant mis caquet au lieu de paroles, &c. Les paroles ne devant se voir que comme pour parler utile, ou comme bavarderie, suivant les cartes qui accompagnent celles qui signifient [i]paroles/i]. = We did not have enough recourse to generic terms, having put prattle in place of words. The words around it seeing whether as useful speech or as prattle, following the cards that accompany those that signify words. On p. 147 he gives "Pour Parler. Paroles" as keyword for card 7.]

N. 30. 6, Domestic [Fr. Domestique]. [S Servants, in list domestic servant; R Domestic Worker; DDD Domestic] [In the 4th Cahier Supplement p. 146, Etteilla adds that this can be augmented to "un inférieur", i.e. an inferior, depending on surrounding cards. However he did not put this change in the list of keyword changes that follows.]

N. 31. 5, means Gold.

N. 32. 4, Society [Fr. Societé. [S Company; DDD Social Success ]

N. 33. 3, Enterprise. [S Enterprise; in list, to undertake; R Enterprise, Begin; F & D, Enterprises = Enterprises; DDD Enterprises]

N. 34. 2, Sorrow. [S & D Sadness; R Chagrin]

N. 35. 1, Birth.

The Cups in their positions, Situs. [Latin for situated]

N. 36. King of cups, Fair-haired man. [S on side: Lawyer, Fair man, Effeminate Man (this last may apply to reversed); S in list: fair (haired) man, honest man... Art, Science; R Fair Man, Honest Man... Arts, Sciences; F & D Homme Blond = Blond Man]

N. 37. The Lady, Fair-haired woman. [S on side: Fair-Haired Female Lawyer, Woman of Easy Virtue (MH: this relates to Reversed word-list); S in list: fair (haired) woman, honest woman... wisdom; R Fair Woman, Honest Woman.... Wisdom; F & D Femme Blonde = Blond Woman]

N. 38. The Knight, Arrival (2). [S on side: Arrival, Amorous Knight; all others Arrival.]

N. 39. The Page, Fair-haired boy. [S on side: Fair Youth, Messenger of Love; S in list: fair-haired youth, studious; R Fair Young Man, Studious; F blond boy]

N. 40. 10 of cups, The town [ville] where one is. [S: the town where you are; in list: town, city; R Town, City; F & DDD La Ville = The City; D La Ville = Town]

N. 41. 9. Victory.

N. 42. 8. Fair-haired girl. [S Fair Girl, in list fair-haired girl, practical girl, honor; R Fair Girl, Honest Girl, Honor; F & D & DDD Blond Girl]

N. 43. 7. Thought [Fr. La Pensée] (3). [D La Pensée =Thoughts]

N. 44. 6. The past (4).

N. 45. 5. Inheritance. [S Heritage, in list inheritance...heritage; R Legacy...Heritage]

N. 46. 4. Boredom (5). [D Ennui = Troubles]

N. 47. 3. Success.

N. 48. 2. Love.

N. 49. 1. Table. [S in list Table, Meal; R Table, Meal; F Table = Gastronomy]
*13. The Egyptians offer us this Hieroglyph as a mirror, which without being coated, gives to each the power to see on one side the defects of some, while those see by looking on the opposite side at the defects of the others.

*14. I will give the reason for all these divisions, not in the style of the Ancients, but according to the knowledge of the Cabalists.
This last footnote seems to me quite important. He is not claiming Egyptian origin for his interpretations of the suit cards. Rather, they come from the “Cabalistes”, which I think means not the Jewish mystics, but those in Europe of his time and before who practiced a largely hidden tradition that combined Jewish-based mysticism, alchemy, pythagoreanism, and perhaps other doctrines and practices--everything they imagined as part of the prisca theologia, the ancient theology. Card-reading with the Italian deck of 56 cards was part of that tradition, he seems to be saying.
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A little note to express that of course I am very interested about the translation Mike H has begun and about all comments done by others members and I do appreciate all the work done.
It just happens that I now have not much time to give to this as the holydays are finished here and I have really a lot to do for my daily work.
I even "steeled" time from another important project during this holyday to make Etteillas text available.
So I cannot contribute regularly to this thread and though I would like to, I also cannot contribute at this moment to the correcting of the translation as it takes a lot of time.

I received a PM from Cerulean about the "Supplément"
Indeed, in the microfilm copy that I got from the BNF the "Supplément au troisième cahier" is not there.

Best regards
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Originally Posted by MikeH View Post
From your examples for "force majeur", I am not convinced that "absolute necessity" quite conveys the French meaning in the various contexts you give. "Force that one cannot be expected to resist" seems closer.
It fits with various theological and legal concepts of necessity; for example we may say theologically or metaphorically that the only absolute necessity in relation to existence is God. Such specialist meanings however I think confusing to the layperson, and thus open to misinterpretation, and as such not the best translation. Here is a legal definition:

In general, whatever makes the contrary of a thing impossible, whatever may be the cause of such impossibilities.

Whatever is done through necessity, is done without any intention, and as the act is done without will, and is compulsory, the agent is not legally responsible. Hence the maxim, necessity has no law; indeed necessity is itself a law which cannot be avoided nor infringed...
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MikeH  MikeH is offline
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No need to apologize, Corodil. You’ve done a great service, taking much time and effort. Others can carry on. For me, I translate primarily because I want to understand the text, and I might as well share it with others; also, that way my understanding can be corrected when it is uncertain or wrong.

It seems to me that one way I can make the translations of the keywords more useful is to give in brackets how various published sources have translated the words, when the translations are different from mine. That way people have more information. And of course if others favor a different translation than I do, I encourage them to indicate their preferences in posts, as well as any other corrections. (And Kwaw, the problem about "force majeur" for me is still, how do you translate it in the sentence "Si le soit-disant Diable vient les pieds en haut, la force majeure est moindre"?

Here are the translations available to me:

S = Stockman’s translation of Papus, on the cards; for the court cards, there is nothing at the top of the cards, but several words or phrases on the right side, of which some are Papus's invention and some seem to derive from Etteilla. For the number cards, one keyword is at the top of the card and another at the bottom.

S in list = Stockman's translation of Etteilla's word-list given by Papus; the first word often corresponding to the keyword; other words in the list given if relevant to the other sources or expand the meaning.

R = Revak's translation of Etteilla's word list in Papus, online, the first word and other words if relevant.

F = translation by France-Cartes (aka Grimaud) on their 1969 cards, which also has the French. If their French keyword is different from Etteilla's, I will give the French first.

D = Editions Dusserre’s translation (in the booklet with their Grand Etteilla III deck); it also has the French, which I will give if different from Etteilla's.

DDD = Decker, Dummett, and Depaulis, Wicked Pack of Cards (p. 94). They give no translations for the courts or reverseds, but do have the French for six of the batons.

I only list these translations when they are different from the one I have chosen. I also have a c. 1840 book by "Julia Orsini", in French only, with similar word-lists, in case of unclarities. Its keywords are the same as in D.

If this idea is not objectionable, I will go back and edit the previous post accordingly. I might put these alternative translations n smaller print, if I knew the code.

For the suit cards, Etteilla has a special section later for their reversed meanings. I will compare his 1782 meanings with the other sources when we get there.
The swords in their positions.

Nº. 50. The King of sword, Man of the Law (*15). [S on side: Warrior, Man of Action, Man of Justice, Dark or Red-Haired Man; S in list: man of the cloth; R Man of the Law; F Man of Law; D Legal Profession]

Nº. 51. The Lady, Widowhood (6). [S on side: Woman of Action, Widow or Woman Acting on Her Own]

Nº. 52. the Knight, Soldier, Man of the sword, by estate. [S on side: Soldier; in list: soldier, with swordsman second; R Soldier, Man with a Sword; F Soldier; D Military]

Nº. 53. the Page [Valet], this is a Spy. [S on side: Enemy Envoy]

Nº. 54. the 10 of Swords, Tears. [S Weeping, F Sorrow]

Nº. 55. the 9. Cleric. [S Man of the Cloth, S in list: celibate...priest...monk or other religious devotee; R unmarried person...priest...monk...religious person; F Priest, D Clerical; DDD Ecclesiastic]

Nº. 56. the 8. Illness said of N. [S Damage, S in list criticism, unfortunate position, critical moment; R Criticism.. Regrettable Situation, Critical Moment; F Critique = Criticism; D Critique = Critical; DDD Criticism] [In the 4th Cahier Supplement, p. 147, he changes this, or perhaps adds to it: "Moralement et physiquement. Lepre" = "Morally and physically. Leper.".]

Nº. 57. the 7. Hope. [F Esperance = Expectation]

Nº. 58. the 6. Envoy, Messenger. [S in list route....envoy, agent; R Road ...Envoy, Messenger; F and D, Route = Journey; DDD Journey]

Nº. 59. the 5. Loss.

Nº. 60. the 4. Solitude. [F Solitude = Loneliness; DDD Loneliness]

Nº. 61. the 3. Nun [Religieuse] (*16). [S Nun, S in list distance; R Estrangement [Removal]; F & D Eloignement = F Separation, D Removal; DDD Separation] [In the 4th Cahier supplement, p. 148, he adds Vestale, or "filles et femmes solitaire, ou qui se cloîtroient chez les premiers Egyptiens" = "solitary girls and women, or who cloistered themselves, for the first Egyptians"]

Nº. 62. the 2. Friendship.

Nº. 63. the 1. Crazy Love (*17). [S Mad Passionate Love; S in list extreme; R, F, D Extrème = Extreme] [In the 4th Cahier Supplement, p. 148, he changes the wording to "Extrême, avec Passion" = Extreme, with Passion"; DDD Pregnancy--which is the reversed keyword everywhere else.]

The coins in their positions.

Nº. 64. The King of coin, Dark-haired Man. [S on side: Man of the Interior, Man with Light Brown hair, Trader; S in list: dark man, merchant; R Dark Man, Shopkeeper]

Nº. 65. the Lady, Dark-haired Woman. [S on side: Woman of the Interior, Trader, Rich woman; S in list, R: dark woman, opulence]

Nº. 66. the Knight, Helpful man. [S on side: Traveler, Helpful man; S in list: useful; R Utility; F & D Utilité = F Usefulness; D Utility] [In 4th Cahier supplement, p. 148 he changes keyword to: "Objet, chose utile" = "Useful object, thing."]

Nº. 67. the Page [Valet], Dark-haired boy. [S on side: Envoy of Friends, Money Courier; S in list: dark-haired boy, study; R A Dark Youth, Economy]

Nº. 68. the 10. The house. [D Home]

Nº. 69. the 9. Effect. [R Result; F Effet = Bills, DDD Bill of Goods, D Effect]

Nº. 70. the 8. Dark-haired girl. [S in list dark-haired, passive; R A Dark Girl, Passive; F Fille Brune = Dark Girl, D Brown-haired girl; DDD Dark girl]

Nº. 71. the 7. Money. [DDD A little money]

Nº. 72. the 6. The present. [S in list: currently]

Nº. 73. the 5. Lovers or Mistress (7). [S Lover or master; S in list lover, mistress; R Lover, Mistress; F & D Amant ou Amante = F Lovers; D Lover; DDD Lovers]

Nº. 74. the 4. It's a gift. [S in list present, gift; R Charity, Present; F & D & DDD A Gift]

Nº. 75. the 3. Nobility. [S Nobility; S in list noble, important; R Important, Noble; F & D Noble = Noble; DDD Noble]

Nº. 76. the 2. Embarrassment. [S Embarrassment/ Awkward Position /Confusion; S in list difficulty, obstacle; R Embarrassment, Obstacle; F Difficulties; D Trouble]

Nº. 77. the 1. Perfect contentment. [F Absolute Harmony; DDD Perfect joy]

It is necessary now to interpret these Hieroglyphs, such as the Egyptians have attested them to us, when they are upside down.

The staves reversed.

Nº. 22. the King of Staves, it is a man naturally good, but severe [sévère], who most often waits for the right moment to correct. [S in list, R: good and austere man... indulgence (R Leniency)...tolerance; F & D Homme Bon et Sevère = Good and Just Man; DDD Homme Bon et Sevère]

Nº. 23. the Lady, this is a good woman, economical, virtuous, not bigoted, not a gossip, not concerned with being popular, not lazy, not greedy; so she is a really good woman, with a lot of presence [or spirit]. [S in list good woman, good, excellence; R Good Woman, Kind, Excellence; F & D Bonne Femme = Good Woman]

Nº. 24. the Knight: Disunion (8). [S in list disunion; R Discord; F & D Desunion = Disunion in F; Disunity in D]

Nº. 25. the Page [Valet]. False news. (9). [S News; S in list & R, announcement; F & D Nouvelle = News; DDD Nouvelle] [In 4th Cahier Supplement p. 148, keyword now "Nouvelle" = News.]

Nº. 26. the 10. Bars (10). [S Bars; S in list obstacle; R Obstacle...Bar; c. 1840 Obstacle...Barres; F & D Obstacle = Obstacle] [In 4th Cahier Supplement he changes keyword to Obstacle]

Nº. 27. the 9. Obstacles [traverses]. [S Setback; S in list setback, obstacle; R Crossing, Obstacle; F Hindrance; D Obstacles]

Nº. 28. the 8. Internecine disputes. [S Internecine Struggles; S in list domestic quarrel; R Domestic Dispute; F Domestic Dispute; D Internal Quarrels; DDD on card Dispute Intestiné]

Nº. 29. the 7. Indecision. [S in list indecisiveness; all others Indecision]
*15. For the Egyptians of the reign of the true Mercury, those who commanded the Armies rendered justice, treated the sick and served at the Temples during peace.
*16. The Egyptians received as Vestals only those whose nature was unshaped; that was very rare.
*17. Crazy love; to moderate it, work 18 hours daily plowing [aux labours]; the remedy is Egyptian.
Top   #18
MikeH  MikeH is offline
Join Date: 03 Nov 2007
Location: Oregon USA
Posts: 443

I have now revised my previous posts to make them like my last one, i.e. with translations from other sources in brackets after Etteilla's discussion of the card.
Top   #19
MikeH  MikeH is offline
Join Date: 03 Nov 2007
Location: Oregon USA
Posts: 443

Now for the next section, proceeding as I have been, giving the translations in existing books and cards in brackets after Etteilla’s discussion. For easy reference, here are my abbreviations again.

S = The Etteilla material in Stockman’s translation of Papus’s Tarot Divinatoire. For trumps there is one keyword, for number cards, two (upright and reversed), and then a word-list for both upright and reversed meanings, of which I only give a few. For the courts, there is no keyword but instead some words along the right side of Papus's cards; some are Papus’s inventions, others seem to derive from Etteilla.

R = Revak’s translations of Papus word-lists, at

F = the keywords in English and French on the 1969 France Cartes (Grimaud) deck, which correspond exactly for the 20 cards shown in Decker, Dummett, and Depaulis, A Wicked Pack of Cards.

D = the keywords in English and French in the booklet that comes with Dusserre’s edition of the Grand Etteilla III (entitled Tarot Egyptien, Grand Jeu de l”oracle des Dames)

DDD = Decker, Dummett, and Depaulis, Wicked Pack of Cards. No translations for reverseds (except, mistaking reversed for upright, the Ace of Swords), but they do have the 1789 cards, with keywords, for the 4 and 1 of batons, below.

c. 1840 = in French only, "Julia Orsini," Le Grand Etteilla, ou L'Art de Tirer les Cartes, which has same keywords as D plus both upright and reversed word-lists.

I cite these sources only when they say something different from Etteilla's French or my translation.

Etteilla is giving reversed meanings of the suit cards, starting by finishing up the staves [batons].
Nº. 30. the 6. Waiting [or Expectation]. [S Waiting, in list hope; R Waiting, Expectation; F Expectation D Waiting]

Nº. 31. the 5. Court Case. [S Trial, in list litigation disagreement; R Legal Proceeding; F Court Case; D Law Suits]

Nº. 32. the 4. Fleurissement (18 *). [S Flowering, in list prosperity, increase; R Prosperity Increase; F & D Prosperité = Prosperity; DDD Prosperité]

Nº. 33. the 3. Troubles shortly at their end. [F Sorrow’s End; in list, pause in misfortune or sorrow; R Interruption in Misfortunes; F Peines Tendant a Leur Fin = Troubles Nearing an End; D Peines à Leur Fin = Difficulties coming to their end]

Nº. 34. the 2. Surprise (11).

Nº. 35. the 1. Distrust the first victory. [S Seeming Victory, Be Wary; in list fall; R Fall; F & D Chute = Fall; DDD Chute] [In 4th Cahier Supplement p. 148 he changes the keyword to Chûte, in English = Fall.]

The cups reversed.

Nº. 36. The King of cup, it is a man of position, but positioned badly, occupied in the business of the Rubanier[?] Merchants, that is to say, selling favors. [S in list: man in a situation, distinguished man, honest man, dishonest man...vice, corruption; R distinguished man, honest man, dishonest man...vice, corruption; F Man With Position; D Man of High Office] [In the 4th Cahier Supplement, p. 148, he has simply "Homme en place" = man of position.]

Nº. 37. The Lady, it is a woman of position, but a fiddler, getting involved in schemes, in court cases; finally, rooting about everywhere to have money, and dying like those of whom all the Egyptians wrote in their Book, covered with shame, with remorse, and stained for life in infamy. [S on side of card, Woman of Easy Virtue; S in list, woman of distinguished rank, honest woman. Vice, dishonesty, depravity...corruption; R, A Woman of Distinguished Rank, Honest Woman. Vice, Dishonesty, Depravity...Corruption; F Woman with Position; D Femme d’un Homme en Place = Wife of a Man of High Office] [In 4th Cahier Supplement, he has simply "Femme en place = woman of position.]

Nº. 38. the Knight. More spirit than conscience. [S in list, R: mischief, villainy; F & D Friponerie = F: Dishonesty, D: Roguery.] [In the 4th Cahier Supplement, he has "Friponnerie".]

Nº. 39. the Page [Valet]. This is a flatterer. [S on side, Messenger of Love; S in list: Penchant, fondness or weakness... seduction... flattery; R Tendency, Bent... seduction... flattery; F & D Penchant = Tendency] [In 4th Cahier Supplement he has "Ce qui flatta = that which flattered. Then in a footnote he adds: "Comment render par abréviation la signification réelle de cette lame? En voici l'esprit, qui nous rendra plus intelligibles. 38.39. Le penchant. Ce qui flatte, est de commettre une friponnerie: 66, 39, ce qui flatte est d'être utile; ou 39, 66, votre utilité flattera la figure qui suivra 39 = How to render by abbreviation the real signification of this card? Here is the spirit of it , which will render it more intelligible for us. 38.39. Tendency. What flatters is the commission of a roguish act. 66, 39, what flatters is of a useful nature; or 39, 66, your usefulness will flatter the figure that follows 39.]

Nº. 40. the 10. Prepared [or ready] to lose [Pret à perdre] (12). [S: Brother to whom to be united; S in list, R: wrath, indignation; F & D Courroux = F: Anger, D: Wrath]

Nº. 41. the 9. Sincerity.

Nº. 42. the 8. Celebrations, Gaiety. [S Celebration, Gaiety; S in list Satisfaction... gaiety... party; R Satisfaction...gayety... festivity... feast; F & D Satisfacdtion = Satisfaction]

Nº. 43. the 7. Plan. [S Plans, in list plan; R Project, Design [Plan]; F & D Projets = F: Plans, D Projects]

Nº. 44. the 6. The future.

Nº. 45. the 5. Flawed [or bogus] plans. [S Flawed Plan; S in list, R: Consanguinity; F Parent = Relative; D Parents = Relatives] [On p. 148 of the 4th Cahier Supplement Etteilla has Parent = Relative. In a footnote he says that it would take 10 pages to explain how the Egyptians distinguished all their relatives.]

Nº. 46. the 4. New acquaintance [or knowledge]. [S New Acquaintance; S in list, new teaching; R New Instruction; F & D Nouvelles Connaissances = F: New Acquaintances, D: New knowledge]

Nº. 47. the 3. Business trip [Expedition d'affaires]. [S in list, dispatching or expedition, execution or performance; R Expedition, Dispatch, Execution, Achievement; F Expédition = Expedition]

Nº. 48. the 2. Desire.

Nº. 49. the 1. Change. [S in list, transformation; R Mutation]

The swords reversed.

Nº. 50. The King of Sword, Wicked Man. [S in list: ill-intentioned, malice; R ill-intentioned, wickedness; F Wicked Man; D Bad Man]

Nº. 51. The Lady, Wicked Woman, hot-tempered, a harpy, a bigot, a devil has [probably in, reading à instead of a] the house. [S in list: bad woman, cruelty or spite, malice, treachery...bigotry; R Evil Woman.—Bale, Malice, Trickery, ...Bigotry; F Malicious Woman; D Bad Woman]

Nº. 52. the Knight, it is a conceited person, having in his mouth only sarcasms that he brings back from dives, from smoking dens; finally, from the places that he haunts; because of his nature, which is AGAINST LIFE [?: ANTIPHIBOLOGIQUE], it is an ignoramus (13). [S in list, R: incompetence, ineptitude; F & D Ignorance = Ignorance]

Nº. 53. the Page [Valet], Unexpected (14). [S in list: unexpected; R Without Warning; F Unforeseen Circumstances; D Imprévoyance = Lack of foresight]

Nº. 54. the 10. Unfortunate event, which turns to advantage. [S in list, R: advantage, gain; F & D Advantage = Advantage]

Nº. 55. the 9. Be wary, or justifiable wariness (15). [S in list: justifiable mistrust; R Justified Mistrust; F & D Juste Defiance = Justified Mistrust]

Nº. 56. the 8. Past betrayal (16). [S in list, R: incident, difficulty; F & D Incident = Incident]

Nº. 57. the 7. Wise Advice (17). [S in list: wise opinion, good advice; R good advice, counsel; F Good Advice; D Wise Advice] [In the 4th Cahier Supplement, p 149, he changes this to "Donner ou prendre de sages Avis = To give or take wise advice."]

Nº. 58. the 6. Declaration of Love. [S in list: declaration, incorporation; R Declaration, Love Proposal; c. 1840 keyword: Declaration, in list: Publication, Proclamation; F & D Déclaration = F: Avowal; D: Declaration] [In the 4th Cahier Supplement p. 149 he says "On voit qu'elle Declaration" = "We see that it [is] Declaration."]

Nº. 59. the 5. Mourning. [S in list: mourning, despondency; R Loss, Falsification; c. 1840 in list Regret, Désolation; F & D Deuil = F Death, D Bereavement]

Nº. 60. the 4. Economy (18). [S in list economy, good conduct, wise administration; R Economy, Good Management; Wise Administration; F & D Economie = F Thrift, D Economy]

Nº. 61. the 3. Appearing lost or confused [Effet égaré] (19). [S keyword Wild Effet; in list: distraction, insanity or dementia...wild or crazy behavior; R Distraction, Insanity... Crazy Behavior; c. 1840 Démence, Divagation [ramblings]... Distraction, Conduite Folle; F & D Égarement = F Misconduct, D Getting lost]

Nº. 62. the 2. Unhelpful or False Friends, or Relatives of Little Help (20). [S keyword: False friends or friends who are little help Relatives of little help; S in list false, falseness...treachery; R False Friends, Treachery; F & D Faux = F Falsehood, D Falsity] [In the 4th Cahier Supplement Etteilla says: "Qui n'est pas vrai. Faux." = "What is not true. False.]

Nº. 63. The 1. Pregnancy. [S in list pregnancy, germ, seed or semen; R Pregnancy, Beginning, Seed, Sperm; DDD Pregnancy, in list otherwise containing only uprights] [In the 4th Cahier Supplement p.145, he expands this to include, depending on other cards, "la signification d'abondance ou fécondité, parce que grossesse étant la génération de l'espece humaine, il n'en peut pas être moins que de la génération du froment, qui alors devient une abondance" = "abundance or fecundity, because pregnancy being the generation of the human species, he [il] cannot be less than of the generation of the wheat, which then becomes an abundance." However he does not put these words in his list of changed keywords that follows.]

The coins reversed.

Nº. 64. The King of coin, an old and vicious man. [S in list, R vice, fault [R Flaw], weakness; F & D Homme Vicieux = F Depraved Man, D Vicious man] [In the 4th Cahier Supplement, p. 1489, he changes this to "[i]Homme Vicieux" = "Vicious [or Depraved] Man]

Nº. 65. the Lady, Certain trouble (21). [S in list unsure, doubting, uncertain...fear; R Untrustworthy, Doubtful, Unsure...Fear; c. 1840 keyword Mal Certain, in list Douteux, Incertain, Doute...Peur; F Mal-Sur = F Evil Prospects; D Mal Certain = Bad Illness]

Nº. 66. the Knight, Brave man without employment. [S in list, R peace, tranquility...inactivity; F & D Inaction = Inaction] [In the 4th Cahier Supplement, p. 149, he changes this to "le Chavalier qui ne va ni ne vient. Inaction" = "the Knight who neither goes nor comes. Inaction"]

Nº. 67. the Page [Valet], Prodigy (22). [S in list, R: profession, superfluity, largesse or bounty (R Magnanimity)... dissipation; F & D Prodigalité = F Spendthrift; D Prodigality]
*18. In the Grand Etteilla, in No. 15 also, "flowering" must be understood.
Top   #20



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