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Ross G Caldwell 
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History of layouts


I'd like to start a thread on this topic, since I don't know much about it.

For instance, in the Appropriati games, sometimes one card would be chosen for a person and that card "read" for them. Other times, a random selecton of cards were used to make the story (like in Folengo, 1527).

We could add "Fortune-telling cards" (like Lenthall's) - does anybody know how they were used? Was it just a one-card draw, with the answer written on it?

In the early 18th century, a manuscript in Bologna describes putting 35 cards in 5 piles of 7 cards for the purpose of divination. No other information is given.

Etteilla says that between 1751 and 1753, card-reading started in France (normal cards), with the cards drawn and read one by one. He claims that he started using the whole pack laid out on the table by 1753.

Casanova in his 1790s memoires says that he saw his mistress (13 years old!), in the year 1765, reading the cards in a 5x5 "square" spread. No other description is given, but by his account there was a whole story present in the reading.

In 1781, the first practicable description of a method to tarot-card reading was given by the Comte de Mellet (presumed to be him, at least).

This is just for pre-19th century methods, of course. After Etteilla, all hell breaks loose with regards to reading methods.

One thing that interests me is the theory or logic behind layouts. I remember reading somewhere (in a few places actually) that there seems to be a connection between Solitaire games and cartomancy. The methods of the early cartomantic layout practices seem to bear this out - there is a mechanical procedure that picks your cards, a counting or pairing (except in the "one-card draw" presumably) method. It seems that in course of the 19th century, the layout itself became symbolic - each card in a layout was read according to its symbolic position in the layout. I think this is profound change from the earlier attested methods.

Ross



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Last edited by Ross G Caldwell; 31-01-2008 at 06:14.
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Parlett on Patience


Hi, Ross,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
I remember reading somewhere (in a few places actually) that there seems to be a connection between Solitaire games and cartomancy. The methods of the early cartomantic layout practices seem to bear this out - there is a mechanical procedure that picks your cards, a counting or pairing (except in the "one-card draw" presumably) method.
This was in Parlett's book, The Oxford Guide to Card Games, and on his website. I don't recall having seen it anywhere else.

Origins and History of PATIENCE / SOLITAIRE
http://www.davidparlett.co.uk/histocs/patience.html

Best regards,
Michael



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Ross G Caldwell 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjhurst
This was in Parlett's book, The Oxford Guide to Card Games, and on his website. I don't recall having seen it anywhere else.

Origins and History of PATIENCE / SOLITAIRE
http://www.davidparlett.co.uk/histocs/patience.html
Thanks Michael, that's right! And I followed it up with his references to Littré after that (accounting for the "few places" I mentioned reading about it).

Quoting Parlett -

Quote:
"Patience" is only one of several words used to denote one-player card games: it is the earliest recorded of them, is evidently French, and also denotes one-player games in general. In modern French the card game is more often referred to as réussite, meaning "success", or "favourable outcome", to distinguish it from patience, now meaning "jigsaw puzzle". The practice of any form of solitaire was once regarded as an exercise of "patience" in its literal sense as a virtue. Thus in modern Italian pazienzia applies to such activities as building card houses, while card solitaire is usually known as solitario. The French use of réussite is explained in Littré as "a combination of cards [by] which superstitious persons try... to divine the success of an undertaking, a vow, etc." If this suggests an origin in fortune-telling, the theory is reinforced by the name of the game in Danish, Norwegian, and Icelandic, namely kabal(e), or "secret knowledge". In Poland, where Patience is called pasjans, the word kabala also occurs with the specific meaning of "fortune-telling with cards" (cartomancy). Perhaps, then, the original purpose of a Patience game was light-heartedly to "divine the success of an undertaking, a vow, etc.", as Littré suggests. If the game "succeeds" (réussit), the answer is favourable, otherwise not.

The same idea emerges from the Fortune-Telling Patience described as follows by Mary Whitmore-Jones in about 1895:

Quote:
This is a game for three or more players, and is a favourite with young ladies, as being supposed to afford them a glimpse of their future destiny. The four aces are laid in the middle of the board, their significations being: hearts, loved; diamonds, courted; clubs, married; and spades, single blessedness... If you finish off all your cards on one of the ace packets, it shows what your fate will be; but if your cards work off on your neighbours' packets, the oracle is veiled, and your fortune remains untold.
The theory is further supported by the fact that the earliest description of Patience occurs within a few years of the invention of card layouts for cartomancy (fortune-telling), which, contrary to popular belief, is not reliably reported before about 1765.
The early complex (as opposed to single card) layouts certainly resemble patience or solitaire games in many respects - using the whole pack, counting, pairing certain cards.

Ross



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Last edited by Ross G Caldwell; 25-01-2008 at 01:47.
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This seems to be the relevant passage from Casanova memories:

http://www.globusz.com/ebooks/Casanova/00000134.htm

I think in this English translation some information is lost, but I could not find the French original....

Marco



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Ross G Caldwell 
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Hi Marco,

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoctorArcanus
This seems to be the relevant passage from Casanova memories:

http://www.globusz.com/ebooks/Casanova/00000134.htm

I think in this English translation some information is lost, but I could not find the French original....
The story of St. Petersburg and Zaïre is in Chapter CXVII.

There are two remarks about her cartomancy. Beginning of the chapter -

"Sans sa jalousie désespérante, sans son aveugle confiance dans l'infallibilité des cartes, qu'elle consultait dix fois par jour, cette Zaïre aurait été une merveille et je ne l'aurais jamais quittée."

Without her desperate jealousy, without her blind trust in the infallibility of the cards, which she consulted ten times a day, this Zaïre would have been a marvellous woman and I would never have left her.

("ten times a day" obviously just means "all the time" or "a lot")

Further on -

"J'arrive chez moi, j'entre dans la chambre, et, par un bonheur inouï, j'évite une bouteille que Zaïre me lance à la tête et qui m'aurait tué si elle m'avait attrapé. Furieuse, elle se jette à terre qu'elle frappe du front. La pitié m'émeut, je cours à elle, la saisissant avec force, je lui demande ce qu'elle a, et, la croyant devenue folle, je pense à appeler du monde. Elle s'apaise, mais fondant en larmes, elle m'appelle assassin, traître, et me débite toutes les épithètes qui lui viennent en mémoire. Pour me convaincre de mon crime, elle me montre un carré de vingt-cinq cartes où elle me fait lire toutes les débauches qui m'avaient tenu dehors toute la nuit. Elle me montre la garce, le lit, les combats et jusqu'à mes égarements contre nature. Je ne voyais rien du tout, mais elle s'imaginait de voir tout.

"Après lui avoir laissé dire, sans l'interrompre, tout ce qui pouvait servir à soulager sa jalousie et sa rage, je pris son grimoire que je jetai au feu..."

I come back home, I go into the room, and, by incredible luck, I avoid a bottle that Zaïre throws at my head and which would have killed me if it had hit me. Furious, she throws herself to the floor which she bangs with her forehead. Moved by pity, I run to her, grabbing her forcefully, I ask her what's wrong, and, believing her to have gone mad, I think to call for somebody. She calms down, but melting into tears, she calls me assassin, traitor, and spouts out all the names that she can think of. To convince me of my crime, she shows me a square of twenty-five cards wherein she makes me read all the debaucheries that had kept me out all night long. She shows me the tart, the bed, the love-play and even my unnatural acts. I didn't see anything at all, but she imagined that she saw everything.

After letting her say, without interruption, everything that might serve to assuage her jealousy and rage, I took her grimoire which I threw into the fire...

Ross



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Last edited by Ross G Caldwell; 31-01-2008 at 06:22.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
In 1781, the first practicable description of a method to tarot-card reading was given by the Comte de Mellet (presumed to be him, at least).
Ross, thanks for starting this thread. Excellent!
Regarding the deM*** spread, what really makes it interesting is that he used it for dream interpretation. As Faith Wigzell points out in _Reading Russian Fortunes: Print Culture, Gender and Divination in Russia from 1765_ the three primary techniques of 18th-19th century urban fortune-telling in Russia were dream interpretation, coffee-grounds and cards. deM***'s spread, therefore, integrates two of these three.

I find it fascinating that no one seemed to pick up on deM***'s technique - it's not given in any other book. I used it for a little while (both for dreams and not) and had some powerful outcomes - one of which I described in one of my newsletters in the 90s - in which I explained the technique. I've also taught it in many classes, though I don't know of anyone who continued to use it, despite the fact that the pairing of cards provides for an insightful spread.

Partly, I think, this is because of the somewhat complex, mechanistic method for laying out the cards which is now generally felt unnecessary. It's like using three coins for I Ching instead of the beautiful dance of the yarrow sticks (done by a master it is truly a meditative movement involving grace and beauty). Today we tend towards speed and simplicity.

The same can be said for solitaire fortune-telling. It's a lot of work to come up with a yes-no (success-failure) response (how about 2 out of 3 tries or, if that doesn't work, 3 out of 5). Even if you work with a resulting string of cards, most of us prefer spreads with designated positions to simple linear read-outs that are the result of complex counting or game-playing.

Anyway, I have an old book on reading playing cards that contains quite a few of the solitaire-style spreads. I'll see if I can find it.

Mary
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjhurst
\This was in Parlett's book, The Oxford Guide to Card Games, and on his website. I don't recall having seen it anywhere else.

Origins and History of PATIENCE / SOLITAIRE
http://www.davidparlett.co.uk/histocs/patience.html
Thank you so much for this. I'd missed it.

Mary
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John Meador 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
I
Etteilla says that between 1751 and 1753, card-reading started in France (normal cards), with the cards drawn and read one by one. He claims that he started using the whole pack laid out on the table by 1753.
Ross
several years ago when I was looking into the Postel-Franckenberg ROTA/TARO question, it occurred to me that perhaps the TdM Wheel of Fortune was at some early point taken to signify a mode for laying out the cards.
http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=16471
http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=58460

I'm still curious if this method was ever applied.

-John
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Meador
several years ago when I was looking into the Postel-Franckenberg ROTA/TARO question, it occurred to me that perhaps the TdM Wheel of Fortune was at some early point taken to signify a mode for laying out the cards.
http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=16471
http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=58460

I'm still curious if this method was ever applied.

-John
Hi John,

The Bollstetter-Losbuch, collecting 10-12 oracle methodes in 1450-1473, showed 4-5 wheels of fortune, all obviously connected to divination - but it contained not a methode related to cards.
The first divinatory use of cards in 1505 was the modification of an ealier sortilege technique, in which a "wheel" (a turned arrow or pointer) was used.

John, actually one of your own earlier informations was of importance (in this context). Please check:

http://trionfi.com/0/p/41/



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Here is a very interesting early one, with card significators for individual gyants and an interpretation based upon the cards surrounding the significators in a row based layout:


Folly.
You shall be satisfy'd anon- ..... — but we must lay the Cards first -- Time presses, and the Princes must depart. Give us the Cards, that in our several Turns we all may Cut : I am the Queen of Hearts.


First Woman gives the Cards to Folly, then to each of the Gyants, who cut, and deliver to her again, and she lays 'em on the Table in Rows.

First woman.
You. Lord Gormillan, are the King of Clubs; Lord Thunderdale shall be the angry Majesty of Spades; The Diamond Crown Lord Blunderboar shall wear; and King of Hearts Lord Galligantus shall assume.

The Knave of Spades, Madam, seems to threaten Danger, but he lies oblique, and the Ten of Hearts between them shews he wants Power to hurt you -- 'the Eight of Clubs and Ace over your Head denote A chearful Bowl and Mirth
will crown Night -- all will be well - — these Princes are surrounded with Diamonds; the Eight lies at the Feet of Lord Gormillan; the Deuce, the Four and Five are in a direct Line with Valiant Thunderdale; the Tray and Nine are at the Elbow of great Blunderboar, and the Six and Seven are just over the Head of noble Galligantus. Some Spades of ill aspect mingled with them, but the Hearts and Clubs take off their malevolent Quality.

Folly. Go then, my Friends, secure of Fame and Conquest, The Oracles pronounce it.

Ha! what Noife?
A great Noife ..

Enter a Messenger out of Breath

Mess.
Ah, Madam ! you are lost! —
~all-conquering Jack with his Retinue has broke into your Palace—
—behold 'em here -

Enter Jack and his Party, they throw down the Table, Cups, Cards, &c.

Jack.
Fall on, my Friends.

Jack the Gyant-killer: A comic-tragical Farce of One Act.
1730

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=S...859-1#PPA15,M1

"At the Little Haymarket (Henry) Fielding was enjoying the continuing success of The Author's Farce, which had premiered on 30 March 1730. The play initially received only a lukewarm reception, but after being paired with Tom Thumb on 1 May 1730, both went on to create a sensation. By 23 June Fielding was ready with another play, Rape Upon Rape, whose failure certainly disappointed the company. Losing no time, the Little Harmarket company promptly tried a new afterpiece, the anonymous Jack the Giant Killer, along with The Fair Penitent. The farce shared the fate of Rape Upon Rape and died after only two performances.

Summer Theatre in London 1661-1820 and the Rise of the Haymarket Theatre by William J. Burling p.95

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=J...hl=en#PPA95,M1

7 July 1730 at the Little Haymarket Theatre
Jack the Giant Killer
Anonymours. Farce; afterpiece.
Printed for J. Roberts (1730)

A Checklist of New Plays and Entertainments on the London Stage, 1700-1737 by William J. Burling p.136:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=1...JCPo#PPA136,M1

I had posted this in another thread:
http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.p...0&postcount=35

Then thought it would of interest here too

Kwaw



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Last edited by kwaw; 07-04-2008 at 19:54.
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