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The beginning of Tarot cards meaning - Etteillas Troisième Cahier

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

I continue with my attempt to translate Etteilla’s Third Cahier. Here again are my abbreviations:

S = from Stockman’s translation of Papus, the keywords on the bottom of Papus’s cards, and selections from the Etteille reversed word-lists.

R = Revak’s translation of word-lists in Papus.

F = keywords in French and English on the 1969 France Cartes Grand Etteilla I deck.

D = keywords in French and English in booklet to Dusserre Grand Etteilla III deck.

c. 1840 = “Julia Orsini” book with word-lists and keywords (same as D) in French.

We are finishing the reversed meanings of the suit of coins. After that come his numbered comments on specific card meanings, referring back to numbers in parentheses (without asterisks) that he put in earlier. In that part, where Etteilla refers to cards by number, for ease in following him I put in brackets the meanings that he gave earlier for those cards.

Numbers 6, 12 and 13 below have benefited from Lotus Padma's suggestions (I didn't ask about the rest).
Nº. 68. the 10. Lottery (*19). [S in list prize, fortune, game; R lot, Fotune, Gambling; c. 1840 Lot, Fortune, Jeu; F Loterie = Lottery; D Jeu de Hasard = Game of Risk]

Nº. 69. the 9. Deception. [S in list, dupery, swindle or fraud; R Artifice, Fraud, Deception; F Deception; D Dupery]

Nº. 70. the 8. Usury. [S Money Lending; S in list: yearning for the void, avarice, usury; R Lack of [Voided] Ambition, Avarice, Usury; c. 1840 Avantage, Augmentation, Beaucoup [Advantage, Increase, A Lot]... Usure; F Plus = Many More; D Usure = Usury]

Nº. 71. the 7. Anxieties (23). [S Worries; S in list worry, agony of mind; R Anxiety [Agitation], Mental Torment; F & D Inquiétude = F Anxiety; D Restlessness]

Nº. 72. the 6. Ambitions. [S Ambition; S in list desire, wish, ardour; R Ambition, Desire, Passion; F & D Ambition = Ambition]

Nº. 73. the 5. Lack of order. [S in list disorderly, countermand, misconduct; R Muddled, Disorganization, Debauchery; c. 1840 Désordoné, Contre-ordre, Inconduite [Misconduct]; F Lack of Organization; D Lack of Order]

Nº. 74. the 4. Closure. (24). [S in list, R: Enclosure, Circuit; F & D Cloture = F Too Late; D Closure]

Nº. 75. the 3. Child.. [S in list, R: Puerility, Childhood]

Nº. 76. the 2. Letter.. [S in list: note, document; R Note, Written Document]

Nº. 77. the 1. Purse of Money.. [S & R in list: Sum, Capital; F Purse with Money; D Money Purse]

Let us go back to our 24 small Numbers.

(1) Departure, is not a figure; but the departure of the card which follows it.

(2) Arrival, Idem [the same].

(3) Thought; one sees on whom it falls; example, 54 [Tears], 53 [Spy], 43 [Thought], one says: you spy on somebody to make him or her shed tears, etc.

(4) The Past: if one sees 18 [betrayal], 44 [the past], one says, in the past you committed a hideous betrayal, for which you have a thousand regrets; or on the contrary, 44 [the past], 18 [betrayal], 51 (this last number reversed) [wicked woman]: a wicked woman betrayed you in the past.

(5) Boredom (*20); 56 [illness said of N] 46 [boredom], your boredom will make, or is making, or has made, you fall ill; because it is always necessary to see which time is marked in the sheets [or cards; Fr. lames] that came; 46, 56, your illness carries you too much into boredom.

(6) Widowhood is not a figure, but purely an event: 8 [female enquirer], 51 [widowhood], 1 [male inquirer], the man will die before the woman: 1, 51, 8. the Husband will remain a widower: 8, 1, 51, they will both go one right after the other, the Husband taking the lead.

(7) Lover or Mistress: when the sheets [or cards] are being read for a man, and when 73 [lover or mistress] follows, it is an announcement that he has a mistress; so, for a woman, one says to her that she has a Lover.

(8) Disunion. One must see what this hieroglyph concerns; if it is disunion with the Wife, the Mistress, money, etc.

(9) False report. One must see from whom it will come, what it will or did concern.

(10) Bar; 26 [Bar], 35 [Birth], you gain a victory over obstacles: 35, 26, it is the opposite.

(11) Surprise; 49 [Change], 34 [Surprise], you will be surprised by a change: 47 [success], 49, 34, it will be a happy one: 54 [Tears], 49, 34, it will make you cry. Mind you, that if you read this Work without having the hieroglyphs under your eyes, it's a waste of time; because you cannot understand what I say, much less what I must leave untold.

(12) Ready [or prepared] to lose ; 77 [Purse of Money], 40 [ready to lose], a lot of money; 62 [false friends, unhelpful relatives], 40, false friends, or unhelpful relatives.

(13) A vain fool who curls his hair and primps, and a Saracen, whose reputation marks him as a querrelous dog, are usually fools who are only welcomed into the homes of imbeciles, and of the dishonest.
*19. I have translated the Lotto of the Indians, which I have brought to light; but it is an error to believe that the funds of the Lotto are going to follow one who makes the operation; for that one must succeed in knowing the formula [la règle] well; and better, know how to read well; which is easy enough.
*20. See anxiety [No. 71].
Top   #21
MikeH  MikeH is offline
Join Date: 03 Nov 2007
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Now for the next section of Etteila’s Third Cahier. This will finish up his initial discussion of the 78 cards. I am ready for a break. Added later: sections 19, 21, and the second paragraph of 15 have the benefit of Lotus Padma's revisions.
(14) Unforeseen: 74 [a gift], 53 [unforeseen], an unexpected gift: 19 [poverty], 53, it is a reversal, the unforeseen poverty which will come suddenly to keep us company, such as to these people who, by laziness and misfortune, live moment to moment by the charity of some and the duplicity of others.

(15) Justified mistrust is the mother of security: in other times the Egyptians said, never speak against men or Gods (*21): today more is necessary, that is, although one says nothing, there are people nastier than devils, who accuse you of having spoken badly; and it is justified to say what I know in this regard, for the general good of Society.

I had the occasion to know a man in 1771, who, without me asking, said to me: "I live by the reports that I make to the Bailiff of my Village, and as he pays me for them by the dozen, when I have nothing to say against the Peasants, by my faith, and come what may, I invent things against them, and I am well liked, and well paid." I then said to him, the Bailiff is a fool, and you are a villain.

(16) Betrayal in the past: this hieroglyph carries with it the sign of the past, and I admit that I was not yet able to get the Egyptians’ meaning, with regard to the sign of the past; but finally 56 [past betrayal], 62 [false friends]; in the past, you were betrayed by the friendship that was had for you; 20 [Fortune], 56, you were betrayed in fortune, etc.

(17) Wise advice: one should see from whom it comes and about what.

(18) Economy: is it relative to health or fortune?

(19) Appearance [Effet, literally “effect"]; papers and jewels are by no means lost, but only mislaid.

(20) False friends, unhelpful relatives. When they could be helpful, they are hard, avaricious, or ignorant, to the point of not preventing our indigence; these are people to flee and to detest; because if one fixes one’s gaze on them, they often pretend to pity you, and behind your back they oppose everything that could relieve you.

(21) Certain trouble: 65, 31 [court case], it is not said that you will have a court case [or trial]; 31, 65, it is not sure that you will gain from your court case [or trial]; or if you have one, there is no guarantee of gain.

(22) Prodigy: one must consult the sheet [=card, Fr. lame] that follows, in order to know in what one is a prodigy.

(23) Anxiety [or restlessness]: I never understood how to define anxiety, as I read [replacing “is” with “lis”] it in the Book of Thoth. (*22)

(24) Closure: a closed business is not lost, but, like a Court Case, stuck [accrochée]. In that case one consults in the Book of Thoth why, and one finds there the reason.

The ignoramuses operate badly in all that they do; but it is not the same for instructed people: thus the Egyptians took the Book of Thoth, mixed it in every way without looking at the Hieroglyphs; they had their Consultants cut this Book in two, and then they took the first Card, and put it there on B; the second on A; and the third they put again on B. (Like this: B. A.) The fourth went to B; the fifth to A, and the sixth to B. Then the seventh to B, so on until the end. In this way, on A there were 26 sheets [or cards], and on B, 52.

With the 52, they began the first operation again (on D.C.), and there were on C 17 lsheets [or cards], and on D 35; they put 17 aside; and with the 35 remaining, they began again the operation on FE; in that way there came to E, 11 sheets [cards]; and to F, 24. It turns out that A=26. B=0. C=17. D=0. E=11. F=24; but these last ones were not interpreted (*23).
*21. Speaking against the Gods was a common thing for Ancient Peoples; because the first Egyptians never admired the plurality of the Gods; consult the Pymander.
*22. The anxiety [or restlessness] that results only from boredom is the lot of people who are useless to Society.
*23. Note that in every operation, one must always mix right side up with upside down, and cut.
Did I say I am ready for a break?
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MikeH  MikeH is offline
Join Date: 03 Nov 2007
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Posts: 443

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A too-severely edited version of Etteilla’s methods in laying out the cards, including a variant of the 67 card spread using all 78 cards and one other method not mentioned by Etteilla in the 3rd Cahier, is at We are fortunate to now have Etteilla himself—or at least I assume it’s Etteilla!
Top   #23
MikeH  MikeH is offline
Join Date: 03 Nov 2007
Location: Oregon USA
Posts: 443

I continue with my effort to translte Etteilla’s 3rd Cahier. We are now in new territory, thoughts that have not been repeated in various translated works. And at the same time, it is Etteilla in a more obscure style—perhaps more profound, as well. Since he is difficult for me to understand, he is also difficult for me to translate. He is talking about the tarot-interpreter and the tarot-consultant as human beings, the first likely an ignorant person—not to mention perhaps drunk or lazy--even with the Book of Thoth in his or her possession, with cards like 19, Prison, and 20, (Good) Fortune, in the same reading. The consultant is perhaps more thoughtful but also more anxious, especially when seeing such cards. Yet the consultant sees his whole life reflected back to him by the interpreter. But it is from a certain point of view: An ignorant interpreter’s political views and other biases and character traits can affect the reading. And such an ignoramus can learn much from the anxious person’s manner of presenting himself, his face and his questions, which the interpreter then reflects back to the consultant. But I will let Etteila speak for himself. The first paragraph below has the benefit of Lotus Padma's suggestions:
You must not believe that the Divination practiced by the Egyptians was of the same kind as that practiced by other idolatrous people, particularly the oracles of Delphi, Dodona, Trophonius, Nymphos, or Claros - and others - as some of those were changed due to political reasons, or because they were misunderstood; because they muddled the minds of men, rather than enlightening them.
I have found all these oracles on Google except Nymphos: the nearest equivalent is “oracle of the nymphs”, of which there were several. I continue. The first part of the third paragraph and the second half of the fourth paragraph are Lotus Padma's translation (I suppose I should have asked Lotus to translate all the paragraph):
All the Oracles only existed by the infamous imaginations [vues] of the idolatrous Priests; I will not enter into any details, but with regard to these so-called Diviners [Devins], no one can speak better than I.

The Science, coming from long and painful work formerly created by the Diviners [Devins], or if one wants, Astrologers, Physonomancers, Palmists, Geomancers, Cartonomancers, and even Savants, in all the branches of Divination or the science of results [resultats]. Today it is ignorance, laziness, poverty, and drunkenness that create the so-called [prétendus] Diviners [Devins] and Divineresses [Divineresses].

For 30 years there is little that I have not been acquainted with [connus], I say not only in Paris, but in the major part of Europe. Both arose on the same pivot; some, who are by no means Diviners, take a road so as to seem such to their Consultants; because all the rest of Society, describing them, makes them absolutely nothing. A feature common to some that I am going to report does not hold in the copy [rapporter ne tient pas à la copie], because I am not a demonographer.

When a naive person goes to the homes of these ignorants, his manner very determined to discover whether or not they are Diviners, he will not realize that this is already the beginning of insanity; for it is necessary, in going either to a savant or an ignorant, not to be preoccupied: to put oneself on one’s guard before one’s enemy arrives, I say, so as to fight one on one [seul à seul], is the nicolade [perhaps rigolade, joke] that announces the loser, or at least the childish fear of not being victorious.

Arriving at the so-called Sorceress’s, my skillful ignorant receives abruptly the thoughtful Man, and puts him between two fires: on one hand, she says to him: Sir, before three days have passed you could very well go to prison; and on the other hand: Sir, if you conduct yourself skillfully, there is a rich fortune which cannot avoid you. Is my Savant strong enough to support these shocks so opposite one to the other? He is offered the third means to overcome them. Someone of interest to you is going to die suddenly.. Let us see, says our Champion with little order, what you say to me: 1. Do I have enemies? 2. Shall I succeed? 3. The person who is to die: is it my wife, my sister, my son, my daughter, or just the only aunt left to me? Without going any further, we can see that the poor man has already said too much; the Deviner is not a sorcerer, no, it is our poor naive who has not been alerted by his (the Diviner's) body language, and has first pronounced that he is frightened by his enemies, and so reveals his train of thought; and then secondly, that he is ambitious; this is the pivotal point. Thirdly, he hopes for an inheritance. He should have said, whatever may come, I am unconcerned! He then withdraws into himself, and wishes he could also withdraw his words; he will not notice then that there will be no more divining, but that he is being taken in by his weaknesses, and he will be told that all he wishes for will happen; and at the same time, the diviner will rap his knuckles a little, as one would a child, to make him talk more, even though he has sworn to himself he will not say another word; I have several times seen this being played out, and been quite amused by the facial contortions of the sitter, in his effort not to speak.

But in good faith, let us return to - reason; is it the Devil who comes to blow in the ears of the so-called Diviner, the whole history of our life? It would be stupid to think that way: it is, says a devotee of our madnesses [amateur de nos folies], the science that makes them speak; but these so-called Diviners and Divineresses are so ignorant as not to know even the letters which appear in their names [entrent dans leurs noms]. Finally, shall we say, how, and by what means do they forecast the things that happen? Listen to the truth; it is our ignorance that makes them learned, and not the science, which communicates only on critical points of the previous day [points aigues des veilles] and the fatigue.

All the Sages of the ancient peoples who applied themselves to the abstract sciences, or the high sciences, needed nothing, took no tribute; the Nation considered them as its true Sages; it sustained them, foresaw their slightest physical needs, and it got from them salutary advice in everything it required; because in fact nobody was wiser and and more learned than these Mages.

Their house, or their Temple, was indeed one of the Oracles; but it was not one of offerings, as with the Priests of Jupiter-Amnon, Apollo-Clarien, and all the others.

When our so-called Diviners have the Book of Thoth in their hands, or some other object that was formerly used for Divination--even this scientific book, where the whole Universe is contained--so as to tell, speaking in the vulgar, fortunes [la bonne aventure], they originally are not concerned with studying the spirit of every Hieroglyph: Lack of order, Usury, Calumny, each of these words has in their ears only one sense, or one sound. Four Hieroglyphs will give us the intelligence of the 74 others.
These last four paragraphs are worth emphasizing. The fortune-teller has to be wise as well as equipped with a set of keywords. He or she has to be able to see a variety of meanings in each word (e.g. words as metaphors). Thus later there are not just key-words, but lists of "synonyms" And it is not just the word; Etteila says “son”, “sound”. So the lists also have "homynyms". I think he means also that one must be sensitive to puns and other word-play. These are not typically translatable from one language into another. Freud had similar thoughts about dream interpretation (being alert to puns); he also said, as Etteilla does here about his “science”, that dreams mostly only reflected the events of the previous day. Etteilla in the part we are looking at in this post is much like Freud, bringing similar considerations to bear in interpreting cards as Freud did in interpreting dreams. De Mellet (in part 7 of his essay, in French and English at had already done dream-interpretation using tarot, in his example of Pharaoh’s dream. The Etteilla school would later develop a systematic approach to dream-interpretation, in part using the tarot. But that is another story, for another thread.
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MikeH  MikeH is offline
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Now I continue with the 3rd Cahier, with his discussion of Justice and Temperance. The first three paragraphs below were included in the c. 1840 “Julia Orsini” book, as a footnote to its explication of the card. Since I had already translated this bit (, I was saved a little work. Etteilla’s footnotes may be found at the end of the post:
Nº. 9. Justice, said these Sages, signifies Equity, but this word is only a sound; for it not to be arbitrary, but on the contrary, fixed, we must give a true idea of all that this harmonious sound contains, to analyze it, or otherwise a man will pronounce Justice and Equity a hundred thousand times, and he will not be less unjust.

Justice comprises the natural positive rights of human beings [gens]; the Rights of the Fathers of families; of the Sovereign, of the Masters, and finally of superiors over inferiors.

It comprises the right of giving Recompense, of commuting the Punishment of crimes, proportionally to their Nature, following the Intention [Volunté], or the Action, Considering the Knowledge or ignorance of the party responsible; this is called Interpretation of the law.

The Parts belonging to Justice are General and Particular. General, the avoidance of evil. Particular, the practice of good. Here, Religion, which leads [one] to love God above all things, and one’s neighbor as oneself. The will by science to know what is good and evil, Morally and Humanly: Morally in all countries, one God above all: Humanly, each country, each custom. The moral and physical activity of Justice; Moral, to be internally just, after love of God, which removes fear. Physically, it appears [reading paraît for ]i]pareque[/i]) that one is oneself a weak and fragile person. In Justice, Morality, God, Religion, and Eternal salvation. Physically, internal or external: Internal, Devotion and Prayer; External, sacrifice of self-love, which brings [one] to receive the Poor, bandage the Sick and visit Prisoners, in order to aid the indigent, like those who have wives and children, without bread, without fire, without clothes, in short to bring them physical and moral help, which brings us the grace of God.

Having seen generally all which is in the spirit of Justice, noting that this is only a weak summary, one reflects about all that is set against one; and supposing that one sees a person act against the law of Justice, in that case the Egyptians forecast to him that he would be Severely punished for it; or on the contrary, if he operated only because of her, these Wise men pronounced that he would be rewarded for it, and the Oracle was inevitable, because no view other than that of the truth made them speak.

Nº. 10. The Egyptians considered Temperance differently than we do; they did not say that it had to do more directly with our carnal passions than with all our other vices; some lines in the book of Thoth, written because of this, will put us in a position to judge.

Temperance is a virtue that rules morality as much as physicality; it is called the Precursor of the Truth; without Temperance, a person carries all the other virtues into a period of generation [i.e. without temperance, in time its lack will degenerate them]. Of a man who would be virtuous, intemperance makes him a maniac, an enthusiast, a dullard; thus for the strongest reason, how much Temperance is necessary, generally, in [regard to] all our vices, our blind passions, our faults, our weaknesses, our infirmities, and also in the brute things utilized in the physical life of man.

Prudence warns, but Temperance intervenes. Prudence abandons us, but never Temperance; who once has seized her subject, will not leave until she has conducted one to Strength, Justice, and Prudence, or to the grave.

With Temperance beside the criminal man, sighing for his unjust actions, often in that vice where she triumphs over it. After and before the act, she speaks to him like a father and teacher; she fights against the vice, and although she is poorly listened to by the man whose defense she takes, she brings down her enemy, and returns the man to virtue.

Temperance deadens our passions, our disorder, often resulted from a sinful humor, from corrupted blood, from a muddied pituitary, or one too clear, in sum from bile that is too soft, too abundant, too dried out.

Temperance spreads its effect everywhere, directly and indirectly, in all that is useful and not useful to humanity. A man is compelled to love wine, gambling, women,--and everything else that, if used to excess, causes him to become debauched; but with Temperance, nothing that is moderate is reprehensible. I am, says this admirable Virtue, Temperance [Moderation], and the Moderator of all that people love and detest. Finally, I am Perhaps the only good-humoured (débonnaire) friend of humanity; Prudence speaks to them, it is true, but she likes good people; but I do not leave them wicked: yes, although I am an emanation of the truth, I do not flee from false people, and to tell you everything, I run more after the wicked than after the good; this responsibility, this employment is cruel and painful to me, but it is given to me; and whenever I return a person to himself and to the Truth, I am satisfied, because my reward surpasses one thousand times my sufferings. Let us stop using the metaphor.

Temperance is one of the four Cardinal virtues; She holds in particularly high esteem Modesty and Sobriety; she requires work proportional to our strengths, to our intelligence, and a kind of laziness pleases her, named the repose of old age. She likes solitude, but she wants some activity there, and every day a little company. The Egyptians defined her well, in a few words, in the book of Thoth, by saying, “Temperance is the Divinity who presides over moral and physical health". She is ahead of Apollo, the God of Medicine, the Sick, and the Physician, accompanying everywhere Prudence, who is her companion.

The Egyptians gave her two wings, to mark her intelligence, her activity, her quickness, etc.

The ignorant Cardmaker did not conceive that the character on top of her forehead was the Sun that comes to rest on her (*25).

She is clothed, but her head is absolutely naked; she pours from one vase to the other, not water and wine, but the substance of water transmuted into oil and wine, and in order to speak to the young Disciples of the great Hermes, she mixes after the purification both fluids, (the waters that separated the waters,) the water above and the water below, to spray with it, soak [imbiber] the dry with it, which was going to appear as the number 10. which Nature has sealed, seals and will seal.
Warning: the next paragraph is quite dense. A native French speaker, Aeclectic's Lotus Padma, graciously clarified the syntax for me, and also identified who "Guide" was in the list of artists. Lotus says, "Guido Reni, Italian painter born in Calvenzano (1575-1642) He was considered brilliant, due to the grace of his subjects, and their coloration and facial expression. Some of his paintings include Aurora, The Kidnapping (or taking) of Helen, and Ecce Homo. He also used nitritic acid in the creation of art."

But I'm still not sure about the pronouns in this first paragraph below: him, her, it, his, hers, himself, etc. In French these are not obvious on their face, as the ending is often either omitted or agrees with the noun it modifies rather than the noun it substitutes for. Expressions like "de lui"--of him or of it, if the noun is masculine, should help, but they don't if the nouns "lui" might refer to are all masculine. There's no neuter in French. So what I have done is put what I think makes sense, based on what I think Etteilla is trying to say, and then in brackets what Lotus Padma--who doesn't know Etteilla--thinks makes sense based on French usage.

There is also an issue about what "mâne" means here. Normally the word refers to spirits of the dead; but I think that in this case it should be translated just "spirit", because it means something like the kind of spirit that he talks about at the end of the paragraph, that which inspired the great artists, their Génie or "genius", a kind of angelic presence. In another work (see my post at he applies the word Génie to spirits under one of the 72 angels of Kabbalah. They are personal, there to assist a person in some way, in that way like the "lares" or household gods of the Romans, to which the term "mâne" originally applied, according to the dictionaries and Wikipedia. I'd appreciate knowing what others, especially those fluent in French, think about these various points.

Lotus Padma also clarified the terms with which Etteilla describes Temperance's clothing (in the paragraph starting "This noble Virtue..."--for which I am grateful.

For a picture of Etteilla’s Temperance, see my post at
You must not think that the Sun placed on her [or his/her] forehead is there to enlighten her [or him/her]; King of Celestial bodies, he contemplates her [or his] work, and that of her [or his] illustrious Companions; He is on Temperance's forehead because he has explored the entire sky of Prudence, Strength and Justice; he admires the liquid substance that he has vivified, and it pleases him to see to the Purifying, Mitigating, Mixing, Amalgamating, and Perfecting of it, so that he may subdivide the parts of the opaque night, which he will then use to complete the Trinaire [a made-up word, perhaps meaning "Three"], and the entire Matrix of Nature--or guarantee of the divine Science or sacred Art--he is a Reliquary for the Seed, but not the Seed of the Seed [du Germe] of which he is only one, and the profane one [le profane] may neither hear, nor touch, nor see it, until it is inseparable from him, master over him, and spirit over him [or "he is inseparable from himself, master of himself, and of the spirits of the dead [or ..."and of his spirit" or "and of the spirit in him]: Fr.: il soit inséparable de lui, maître de lui, & mâne de lui]; what a shame that this Hieroglyph has been altered! You should not study it in its entirety, but only some small and pure parts of it, in order to understand the entire meaning of it: Ho! Raphaël, Correggio, Guido [Guido Reni, 1575-1642], Carracci, that you had painted this Tableau! perhaps you would not have died [or, perhaps you would no longer be dead; Fr. peut-être ne seriez vous point morts]; Your Geniuses [I think spirits are meant, in a metaphysical sense; but in ordinary usage it would be muses, or talent] would have dictated to you the spirit of it [ i.e. inner meaning, or essential nature of the thing; Fr., vos Génies vous en eussent dicté l’esprit]

Suppose, Reader, seeing Temperance having her right foot on a triangular solid of Jet black color, her left foot put on a ball white as alabaster, and these two solids sitting on a terrace of dark red-brown.

This noble Virtue is dressed in the Canaanen fashion, and more, Arabian or Turkish style: arms tightly bound in the cloth of a multi-coloured Cassock, edged in marten fur; flowing hair; enameled wings ordered in [such] a way that one distinguished the seven primary colours there (*26); finally, a golden Belt [Ceinture] squeezing her cassock at the bosom, on which was written Thoth, which is there in the other virtues as well: a name by which she draws out its spirit lying there, which, interpreted, means center; The name of this Virtue was likewise placed on her bosom, half hidden by the belt; the Cardmaker neglected and deformed everything.

Temperance recommends Chastity in Virginity, Marriage and Widowhood; it oversees Continence, Clemency, Modesty, Study, Affability (gentle, easy, tractable and thoughtful Leniency), Graciousness, Humility, Moderation, Simplicity;, and she mistress of Ambition, Curiosity, Luxury, Gaming, Drunkenness, Self-love, and in sum all the vices, as Prudence warns of them, and Strength surmounts them and delivers the guilty to Justice, which punishes them, as it recompenses the virtuous man.
*24. For lack of this interpretation, one thinks that the rights of humanity have often been violated.
*25. The Cardmaker believed that it was simply small circles. This figure or Hieroglyph serves to ornament the front of this Cahier.
*26. Note that the seven colours are on one other Hieroglyph, where it is perfect Work.
For a picture of Etteilla’s Temperance card, see my post at . One of the main innovations of Etteilla’s card, in relation to the Marseille, is the block and ball she is standing (see again That Etteilla does not explain the symbolism (here or anywhere that I can see) suggests to me that this innovation was not original with him, and that he copied it from something earlier. The block symbolized slowness and the ball swiftness; Temperance, as the mean between extremes, is between the two. A well-known example is an engraving by the school of Mantegna discussed by Edgar Wind in relation to the saying festina lente, make haste slowly; I reproduce the engraving at the link just given.

In the engravings at the front of this and the other Cahiers, the word “Thot” does not appear on the belt of Temperance or indeed of any of the virtues (see Holbronn’s Astrologie du Livre de Thot, pp. 6-7 of the essay accompanying his reprint of the 4th Cahier, which reproduces all four; you can also inspect the frontispieces for Cahier 1 (Justice) and 3 (Temperance) at and My scan of the frontispiece of Cahier 2 also shows no belt. But as early as the 1789 set of cards obtained by Depaulis, of which all four virtue cards are shown in Wicked Pack of Cards, Temperance is shown with “THOT” on her belt, and all the other virtue cards as well with the same, just as Etteilla specified in the 3rd Cahier. On the cards reprinted by France Cartes/Grimaud, however, the word “THOT” can be clearly seen on Temperance’s and Strength’s belts, and the final “T” on Justice’s, but clearly nothing on the belt of Prudence (see posts 100, 101, 105, 108 in the thread already cited). For an enlargement of Depaulis's Prudence card, where "THOT" does appear, see my post at

Etteilla’s point about Temperance pertaining to all the virtues, and not just those of the body, and being the most essential virtue, governing the rest, was one made frequently in texts on the virtues, as Lynn White has documented (pp. 187ff of Medieval Religion and Technology: Collected Essays, at, a reference I owe to M. J. Hurst). (It was an application of Aristotle’s doctrine that the virtues are means between two extremes.) It may be in part for that reason that the position of Temperance went from being the lowest virtue in the early listings (corresponding to the ranking of the body below the soul and the spirit) to being the highest in the Marseille.

Etteilla says (footnote 26) that Temperance’s wings were supposed to show all seven colors. That didn’t happen, but the cardmaker did do it perfectly on another card, he says.
I do not know what the other card would be. Possibly it was the Judgment card, which has many colors in the robes of the people below, as well as also having an angel.

You might wonder how in 1782 Etteilla can be talking about an actual deck: was his deck, in full color, actually published by then? And besides this reference, there is the P.S. to his footnote 2, which also gives Etteilla's address. I think this particular copy of the 3rd Cahier must be a reprint, with this part changed. At the end of the book all four cahiers are listed plus the deck itself; but the 4th Cahier wasn't published until 17 (85. And in footnote 5, he gives people instructions on how to modify their World card so that it looks the way it should look, i.e. "*5. Remove the oval Cartouche, & put in its place a Serpent having its head in its mouth... & in place of two miserable blades of grass, put two pyramids of 59 measures, because the figure had some 121; & in agreement with all the Wise, you will conceive that this figure was surrounded by seven stars." Also, in the Supplement to Cahier 1, he is apologizing for not having the "restored hieroglyphs": "The author's intention was to have the 78 hieroglyphs of the Book of Thoth engraved, as closely to the original ones as would have been possible, but having calculated the cost, the fatigue, the general taste of the world, he has preferred to leave this enterprise to posterity" (Wicked Pack p. 89).

In Wicked Pack of Cards,, the first deck is dated to 1789. This is based on the author's copy of letters to Etteilla by a disciple, Charles Geille-Saint-Leger de Bonrecueille in Lyons, one of 27 November 1788, "I am very glad to hear that we will soon have the Tarot cards you have restored", and another of 14 March 1789, "We very satisfactorily have received the Tarot cards which you sent us..." (Wicked Pack p. 91). That seems fairly conclusive.

The device of having the card speak for itself, which we see charmingly in the case of Temperance, was used to good effect recently by Jodorowsky for all the cards in his Way of Tarot.
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Padma  Padma is offline
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post removed by me. I did want to help in a small way, but am pressed for time. Please do forgive.
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EricBowers  EricBowers is offline
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Thank you so much!

Wow! I've been looking for this book for SOOO long! Thank you for posting it!!!
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MikeH  MikeH is offline
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Here is my attempt to translate the last part of the 3rd Cahier. I imposed on Lotus Padma to correct one line of thought of four paragraphs near the end (starting "What a fine balance...") that I could not make sense of. From this clear and precise reworking of those paragraphs, I am conscious of how amateurish my own efforts are. Hopefully what I have not run by Lotus is good enough to convey more or less what Etteilla is saying. Those who want more at least have the French. And if someone has a bette translation of any of it, I will not feel bad if you post it. Also, Lotus says that many nuances in Etteilla's prose are inevitably lost in translation.

I should perhaps also say that when Etteilla used the word "hieroglyph" he was using a term that was not then understood to refer exclusively to Egyptian writing. The word was understood to mean a form of writing in pictures whereby a single picture conveyed a complex, even on some levels mysterious meaning. Tarot cards were spoken of as hieroglyphs. For more on this term, see Ross Caldwell's opening post at, and my documentation toward the end of that thread, that this meaning was in place no later than around 1450.

Nº. 11. Strength gives Magnificence, Confidence, Patience, Perseverance; its Acts are: Piety, obedience to God, in the moral and physical virtues. [i]Around men: to obey and observe human, National, and Provincial laws, and those which extend from [sur] the Sovereigns, the Lords, the Magistrates and also from Relatives, Just men, Superiors, Equals, Benefactors, Friends, the Poor, the Infirm, the Weak; finally, Strength ordains having regard to and likewise obeying all that is virtuous, indeed to do all that a vigorous man could by his personal strength, to secure this inestimable humility [docilité], [against that which] would trouble the celestial harmony put by the Creator among the Creatures; She especially requires submitting to the truth of the Divine and Human Laws; She dictates to us their Recognition, Esteem, and true Friendship. If human strength departs for one minute from the spirit of Divine Strength, man puts himself at that moment between the arms of celestial vengeance and the secular arms of human Justice; to be humble [Fr. docile], contains all the true spirit of strength.

Nº. 12. Prudence, In Consultation, Judgment, and Command; joining Memory, Intelligence, Science [or knowledge], Reason, Foresight, Circumspection, Delivery. She wants Honest solitude, Economy, Work, Activity, Politics, etc.

As the four Cardinal virtues are infinitely connected and united together, it is not surprising that they rule over almost the same subject; but nevertheless, in reflection, we always find there a kind of distinction: example; Prudence requires work to meet the needs of life, and Temperance requires work for the same reason that she requires repose, both being necessary for moral and physical life.

In the book of Thoth. the four Cardinal virtues point to the Three Theological virtues: Faith: to believe in one God, alone and unique, who made Heaven and Earth out of nothing; because, say these Sages, Your understanding having submitted to believing in one God, alone and unique, who created the world, and arranged all the parts of which it comprises in their true places, is it more difficult for you to believe than that he formed this world out of nothing, becaise he himself was everything? And finally, do you not see that the second assertion is certain, as a consequence of the first, in as much as he is God, infinitely powerful?

Hope: without this Virtue, say the Sages, how could man see his Creator, because he would have no hope of it? Would not it be a tacit volition [volonté], even a categorical [formelle[ one, to give up this unique good to which man can aspire?

Charity: this Virtue was so sacred for the Egyptians, that all the Foreigners who went to see them, had not only shelter, food, and clothing but the subject for which they had gone there; that is, the true principles of Science and Wisdom; or the answer to their question concerning their undertakings, or the cure of their troubles: The true Sages know Nature, and the Wise ones [Sophistent] study the Art.

Not to muddle the Work, I put here these Notes, which the Reader will put back in their true place.

The Charlatans every day find sovereign remedies for our diseases; they are grasping souls, the Charlatans; for they notice [reading “remarquent” for “remarquez”] in others, that if Nature does not come to their aid, they are dead.

The greatest physicians recommend to us, since Hippocrates Father of ordinary Medicine, diet and water; but to admit that they are ignorant would be more worthy: where are the Egyptians and their celestial astral liquor? Study the Book of Thoth.

Every letter of the Alphabet has its value A B. .... B. A, gives several pronunciations, several sounds, finally various senses; the Hieroglyphs of the Egyptians are absolutely the same .....

In looking for the relationships in a series of tones, I was indeed delighted to find other agreements which I had never understood; they would form the whole of a harmony so melodious that the delight in which I was, made me doubt for a moment the truth of my discovery, and caused in me a sudden seizure of my satisfaction, which was suspended and stopped only by the appearance of death, which wanted to seize the happiest moment of my life in order to cut the thread......

What a fine balance we must keep, in order to avoid the extremes of pain and joy!

Neglecting my first research, I promptly removed the numbers from my nine hieroglyphs, and I deliberately scrambled the cards so as not to be subjugated by the highest, most ecstatic state of mind that I have ever felt, and I returned to my first work.

In my leisure time, I wrote my numbers in one of the bookd which contain everything I find to be sublime, but did not take them in their progressive order, but as follows:

9. 12. 16. 25. 28. 37. 40. 42. 49. and now, ignoring what has become like an uncatchable leaf flying in the wind, I cannot, (unless I add 362880 + 362880 + and about 181440, which totals 907,200 diverse permutations) find the literal meaning of what the first Egyptians wrote... Happy, yes, Happy, will be the person who can put these nine Hieroglyphs in the order that the progress and direction of my work allowed me to first discover them! This is my latest digression.

1. East, the Eastern Regions [l’Orient],, Strength, Spring, 6 a.m.; ruling Angel, Gabriel; Man, Asia, Childhood, Sadness, Melancholy, Weapons, Ambition, and the channel of the past and the future, its number is 11.

2. South, the Southern Regions [le Midi], Justice, Summer, 12 noon, ruling Angel, Michaël, the Lion, Africa, Adolescence, Quickness, Anger, Bile, Repose, Fire, Agriculture), Wealth and the chain of the present and the future, its number is 9.

3. West, the Western Regions [l’Occident], Temperance, Autumn, 6 p.m., ruling Angel, Raphaël; the Eagle, America, Youth, Trouble, Blood, Joy, Amiability, Reflection, Air, the bosom of cities, Poverty, and chain of the past and thefuture, its number is 10.

4. North, the Northern Regions ]Septentrion], Prudence, Winter; 12 Midnight; ruling Angel, Uriel; the Ox, Europe. Old age, Pain, the Pituitary, Stupidity, Laziness, Earth, Finance, Mediocrity, Death, and the chaine of the present and the past, its number is 12.

It would be appropriate to demonstrate how the Egyptians made divinations by the Book of Thoth, in the Astrological manner; but always I go by promising, and give while waiting their couplet on this subject.

Heaven surpasses in beauty any human intellect.

Art, Science, and Wisdom are the primary qualities with which real Cartonomancers must be provided. [or, to retain the rhyme in the original: Art, Science, and Wisdom are the primary qualities that real Cartonomancers must collect.]

End of the Third Cahier.
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Great job, thank you!
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MikeH  MikeH is offline
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Thanks, Kwaw, but really, what I have put together, except when I have had the benefit of other translators (including Lotus Padma here), is only a couple of steps removed from a translation machine. I have tried to indicate, in my comments--including, for Lotus, the "reason for editing" space--when I have used such a more reliable source. Otherwise, I am not sure, although I do think that what I have done is mostly at least close to his meaning. From Lotus Padma I thankfully have better translations now for around 20 of the paragraphs I found most difficult, which I am still integrating into the text. Hopefully I'll be done by the weekend. Added later: done today; not such a big job.
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