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Tips for reading with the Marseilles


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Quote:
Originally Posted by stella01904
Falling back on Joseph Campbell here:
When you think in historical terms: France, time period, the Church, etc. etc. you are reading the denotation.
When you think in terms of what these pictures allude to, the ideas that the makers used this set of available symbols to put across, you are reading the connotation.
The connotation is perennial and universal and not confined to the cultural and historical inflections. There are things, for instance, that dovetail nicely with Eastern ideas, whether the makers intended this or not. (Most likely not!)
Falling back on René Guénon here:

Quote:
"...it is necessary to stress from the outset one point of particular importance, in order to dispel certain confusions that are unhappily all too frequent today, namely the fundamental difference between 'synthesis' and 'syncretism'. Syncretism consists in assembling from the outside a number of more or less incongruous elements, which, when so regarded, can never be truly unified; in short, it is a kind of eclecticism, with all the fragmentariness and incoherence that this implies. Syncretism, then, is something purely outward and superficial; the elements taken from every quarter and put together in this way can never amount to anything more than borrowings that are incapable of being effectively integrated into a doctrine worthy of the name.

Synthesis on the other hand is carried out essentially from within, by which we mean that it properly consists in envisaging things in the unity of their principle, in seeing how they derived from and depend on that principle, and thus uniting them - or rather becoming aware of their real unity - by virtue of a wholly inward bond, inherent in what is most profound in their nature."1

Unfortunately, a good deal of the "perennial and universal" new-age 'warm fuzzy feeling' ideas being hawked out there are of the syncretic variety, targeted more at people's hearts (and wallets) than their heads.

Real synthesis involves an in-depth understanding of all elements to be 'synthesized' and that's more scholarship than most folks care to undertake.



Again René Guénon:

Quote:
"The fact is that people too often tend to think that if a symbolical meaning is admitted, the literal or historical sense must be rejected; such a view can only result from unawareness of the law of correspondence that is the very foundation of all symbolism."2

I think we can also safely say that people, especially beginning tarot people, tend to think if a literal or historical meaning is admitted, the symbolical sense must be rejected; again, such a view can only result from unawareness of the law of correspondence that is the very foundation of all symbolism, and, of course, the craft and method of predictive divination and magic.




Cheers,



1. Guénon, René, The Symbolism of the Cross (1931), trans. by Angus Macnad. Sophia Perennis, Hillsdale NY, 2004. pp. 2

2. pp. 4.
Top   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melanchollic

Unfortunately, a good deal of the "perennial and universal" new-age 'warm fuzzy feeling' ideas being hawked out there are of the syncretic variety, targeted more at people's hearts (and wallets) than their heads.

Real synthesis involves an in-depth understanding of all elements to be 'synthesized' and that's more scholarship than most folks care to undertake.

There are all sorts of warm & fuzzy authors out there. I tend not to go for those authors.....

If a person is serious about a subject sooner or later you move away from the fluff bunny authors.....

mac22
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Why can't we all get along?

Top   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul
Why can't we all get along?
How interesting would that be?

-----------

I do take issue, philosophically, with the approach that Melancholic is so strongly proposing. Namely, the issue at hand seems to be that there is The Way To Read Tarot, or even more disturbing, the notion that The Cards somehow know how to speak a language and tell you what you need to know seems to be buried in the arguement. I know that I will be in the minority here when I say that the tarot reading is best used as a self-reflexive tool rather than a tool of "divination". You tarot deck doesn't know if he really loves you, but you probably do know this, somewhere within yourself. A tarot reading can help you to find that answer, if you open yourself up to it.

Here's the secret: Any collection of cards can help you arrive at the right answer. It doesn't matter if your spread includes XIII or XXI (or both, or neither) the cards you pull are merely starting points for your "meditation" on the issue at hand. No spirits, no pixie dust, no "bibbidi-bobbidi-boo".

Now I'm all for snychronicity- I just don't think that it manifests in such obvious ways. I could be wrong, or I could just be too poor a reader to have experienced it often enough to convince me... But so far, I haven't seen enough to convince me that I'm wrong about this.

So when I hear someone suggesting that it is necessary to enter into the mindset of a 17th century card player in order to derive the correct meanings from a 17th century deck, I cry foul. Mind you- I wouldn't argue that learning more about the past culture that created these cards is going to hinder your reading. But I don't think that failing to learn this is necessarily going to hinder your readings either. To be clear, someone who is stagnant intellectually is thwarting their own abilities as a reader- but not nearly so much as someone who is stagnant spiritually or artistically.

Melancholic seems to be making a left brain argument for a right brain activity. Don't we all know the truth that a scholar of 17th century art may not make a better TdM reader than the guy who just thinks that the Hermit sort of resembles that one dude from Doonsbury? The real "meat" of reading, it seems to me, comes from a very different place than the sum of your knowledge about a particular era. The real meat of a reading comes from your ability to build a story (it's a creative process). Having more intellectual knowledge of the component pieces of the language (in this instance, the cards themselves) certainly gives the storyteller more tools to work with, but if you can't build a narrative, all the intellectual knowledge in the world is for naught.

-tb
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Well spoken thinbuddha.

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Top   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thinbuddha
I do take issue, philosophically, with the approach that Melancholic is so strongly proposing. Namely, the issue at hand seems to be that there is The Way To Read Tarot, or even more disturbing, the notion that The Cards somehow know how to speak a language and tell you what you need to know seems to be buried in the arguement. I know that I will be in the minority here when I say that the tarot reading is best used as a self-reflexive tool rather than a tool of "divination". You tarot deck doesn't know if he really loves you, but you probably do know this, somewhere within yourself. A tarot reading can help you to find that answer, if you open yourself up to it.
This is essentially how I see it as well.

-- Lee
Top   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul
Why can't we all get along?
Well, a little meaningful debate is sometime useful as a learning exercise, if only in inducing a logical examination of one's own position, as is practice in the Tibetan monastic tradition. As long as it is relevant to the topic, and doesn't get into subjective personal attacks, like making fun of my fondness for unusually shaped Italian footwear.

I'm certain we all have chosen the correct paths for ourselves, all are true from a given perspective, and we surely present our positions for the benefit of greater knowledge.. (No, I'm not going to make that analogy of the blind men and the elephant, again...)

As to addressing thinbuddha's philosophical concerns:

Quote:
Originally Posted by thinbudda
I do take issue, philosophically, with the approach that Melancholic is so strongly proposing. Namely, the issue at hand seems to be that there is The Way To Read Tarot, or even more disturbing, the notion that The Cards somehow know how to speak a language and tell you what you need to know seems to be buried in the arguement.
As I wrote earlier in this thread, "I see this thread is developing an unhealthy imbalance toward the current trend in "just looking at the cards". I've seen the 'method' referred to as 'art reading', and Paul Williams calls it the 'Optical Analogy Method'. There is a general tone that this is somehow the right way to read tarot cards. Alas, it is but one way to read them."

I also apply this attitude to my own 'methods' and 'opinions'. I don't promote my personal methods as THE Way To Read Tarot, but merely as A Way To Read Tarot, and shared my opinions as an 'alternative' to what seemed to be becoming the 'party line'. My apologies to all if I came across otherwise, as I am sure thinbuddha as well doesn't mean to come across as dogmatic, despite that the tone of statements like, "...I say that tarot reading is best used as a self-reflexive tool rather than a tool of "divination", or "The real meat of a reading comes from your ability to build a story (it's a creative process)" or "Here's the secret...", could be mistakenly construed as sounding so. I am interested in his, and everyone's opinion.


Quote:
Originally Posted by thinbuddha
Any collection of cards can help you arrive at the right answer. It doesn't matter if your spread includes XIII or XXI (or both, or neither) the cards you pull are merely starting points for your "meditation" on the issue at hand. No spirits, no pixie dust, no "bibbidi-bobbidi-boo".

Now I'm all for snychronicity- I just don't think that it manifests in such obvious ways. I could be wrong, or I could just be too poor a reader to have experienced it often enough to convince me... But so far, I haven't seen enough to convince me that I'm wrong about this.
Fair enough. I wouldn't have believed in "bibbidi-bobbidi-boo" either a few years ago. It may interest thinbudda to know that it was certain experiences I had studying Buddhism, Taoism, and Martial Arts in Tibet, China, and Japan that convinced me otherwise. And while my personal theories of how tarot divination works excludes, extra dimensional intelligences (angels, daemons, spirits, etc.), I'm sure there are some around the forum whose views do, and their worldview should be respected too!


Quote:
Originally Posted by thinbuddha
So when I hear someone suggesting that it is necessary to enter into the mindset of a 17th century card player in order to derive the correct meanings from a 17th century deck, I cry foul. Mind you- I wouldn't argue that learning more about the past culture that created these cards is going to hinder your reading. But I don't think that failing to learn this is necessarily going to hinder your readings either.
I believe such an academic exercise is "necessary" only if one is interested in exploring the possible intended historical meanings of the trumps. Obviously not everyone is, and if you use the images as a self-help tool, or psychological springboards, then one need not worry about such things, and may study the cards in relation to 'Doonsbury' to your hearts content. I'm assuming at least some people reading and posting in the 'History' section must be interested in the topic. (The René Guénon is, of course, not optional! )

thinbuddha, I'm not sure I follow your logic that if the tarot is "best used as a self-reflexive tool", why one would bother developing creative storytelling skills for doing readings (presumedly for others)?
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So, in summary, it looks like a lot of people have some great Tips for Reading With the Marseilles, which is the topic of this thread...not The Consummate Way for Reading With the Marseilles, which would be another thread if someone wanted to start...which would then likely lead to robust debate, and in fact might lead to further tangential debate about whether there is even such a consummate way in the first place...which might then be better addressed in a separate thread entitled Is There Even a Consummate Way of Reading With the Marseilles?

But, here we are looking for Tips, plural, many, multiple-- and such multiplicity is bound to find both consensus and contradiction.



ahem...sorry, had to speak up. I'll sit down now.
Top   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melanchollic
Unfortunately, a good deal of the "perennial and universal" new-age 'warm fuzzy feeling' ideas being hawked out there are of the syncretic variety, targeted more at people's hearts (and wallets) than their heads.
Moot. I'd hardly put Joe Campbell in the warm fuzzy bin, in spite of the nimrods out there with "follow your bliss" wall plaques in gen-u-wine resin.

I wasn't speaking of some New Age regurgitation like a Kundalini-Sweat-Lodge-Tarot-of-the-Fairies (gag) but rather the underlying philosophy in TdM, which IS "perennial and universal."
There is no foreign element grafted on from the outside, whatever René Guénon's semantics.
It's like Prego: it's in there.

Something else to keep in mind: It's a common man's deck. Not a stupid man's, but a common man's nonetheless. Pompousness doesn't fit.

Just sayin'.
Top   #59
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What an excellent thread this is, and valuable to see how people approach reading with the Marseilles because each of us may approach Tarot itself differently, and have our own interests in the way we learn.

For me I was first struck by the people cards in the Marseilles and their body language, it was really something that simple which made me go out and buy my first Marseilles and start to work with it. It took me some time to find a way of reading which suited me and works as far as my understanding of a spread goes, but all the while I have never once stopped learning about the decks. My interest in the history of the them, the era and any related research came much later and is ongoing.

It is relevant when talking about tips that the very word suggests personal advice and this is what the newcomer to the Marseilles is seeking... a place to start and for someone to tell them that it is OK to pick up the deck, observe it closely and study it at their own pace and in their own way, just as I would expect someone to do with any other Tarot deck.
Top   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melanchollic
thinbuddha, I'm not sure I follow your logic that if the tarot is "best used as a self-reflexive tool", why one would bother developing creative storytelling skills for doing readings (presumedly for others)?
For me, "creative storytelling skills" is applicable to a reading for yourself. It's actually a mystery to me how anyone could succeed in making a good reading (for anyone) without employing these skills, though I suppose it's possible.

As for the presentation of my beliefs being somewhat dogmatic, I think that I neglected to communicate fully. I don't think that there is any One Way to read tarot. I do think that all the ways that seem to be successful employ creative storytelling skills, even if the reader doesn't realize that these skills are in use. But to say that you are using "storytelling skills" doesn't really describe a system of reading, does it? The system is the language you are using. People can tell stories in English, German, Japanese or any other language (including pictures and sound).

All this doesn't negate the systems that people use for tarot readings. To make an analogy between English and Tarot, these storytelling skills are akin to the ability to make sentences our of words, paragraphs out of sentences and stories out of paragraphs. But you still need language and grammar to build your story from, and this, in tarot, can include a number of different things.

As an example: I currently choose not to employ kaballa in my readings, but if I knew more about kaballa and used it in my readings, I bet it would improve my readings. It would give me a deeper "tarot vocabulary" to access while building stories. Astrological associations? Elemental dignities? Numerology? All of these are perfectly valid ways to approach readings, and I don't see any of them being "wrong". But I do think that the reason they work is because it gives readers who use these systems a deeper tarot vocabulary, and not because of any particular validity to any given system.

In an earlier post, you seemed to argue for the use of historical context as a necessary part of tarot vocabulary (as if it were a category of words like verbs or nouns, which could hardly be removed from a good story). To cary the language analogy forward, I would suggest that the historical context is more like a specialized part of language, as if it is made up the jargon of a particular trade (not necessary for storytelling, but possibly necessary to give greater depth to certain stories). Knowing more about the historical context is going to add to your readings, but might not be necessary to anyone else for building a good reading. I think you just said as much in your post, so I'm just echoing that this is my beliefe as well.

The one thing, to me, that seems to tie all successful methods for tarot readings together (someone correct me if I'm wrong) is that the reader needs to be able to improvise a narrative using the cards as input. Some will say that their readings come from somewhere else outside of themselves- I would suggest that there is nowhere else for them to come from. Creativity, in some ways, is an act of magic, and that is what I meant by "storytelling skills". I think that you need these skills as much when reading for yourself as you would reading for others. The only difference is that for others, you need the oral communication side, as well.

-tb
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Those two quotes given by Melanchollic of Guénon show why he is not someone I would want to 'fall' (how appropriate a term!) back to.

His (and his "school's") appropriating of the terms 'perennial' and 'traditionalist' (which they tend to of course capitalise) smacks of narrow dogmatic eclectism to which its followers seem blinded (or hoodwinked) - instead considering that they are at foundation discarding the dross from an underlying common world view that is ultimately found in (according to Guénon) the relative purity of islam.

Certainly not what I personally hope influences "tips for reading with the Marseille".

Rather, a healthy syncretic approach, grounded in ever expansive eclectic interests and research (including its important historical setting), results in various ways in which the Marseille (and other decks, for that matter) can unveil themselves. Here it is not so much attempts at the synthetic, but rather the wealth and rich tapestry that the weavings of numerous strands brings to the ever increasing insights into the Marseille.

Syncretism, rather than the narrower forms sought by selective dogmatic views, is at the heart of both the richness of the development of (as example) Christianity and of Tarot - though of course each can also develop in a manner advocated by Guénon... something to which we need to remain alert, in my view, of not be guiled and fall to.
Top   #62
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Well said JMD!

One of the things I like best about your course is it has spurred me & sent me in many directions I would not have thought of. IOW it has caused me to grow...

Mac22
Top   #63
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Hi thinbuddha, thanks for explaining... Good stuff. Communication skills really make a difference in the reading experience.

I always love to sample the various methods of divination when I travel, and seek out "fortune-tellers" wherever I go. Some years ago a friend and I went to Fukui (Japan) to visit Eiheiji Temple. I inquired at the hotel desk about fortunetellers, and the girl enthusiastically recommended a woman who practiced 'forehead reading'. That evening we went to see this woman. Like most Japanese diviners, she sat at a small table on the sidewalk outside a temple or shrine. We sat at her table and paid about 3000 yen ($30). My friend wanted to know when she might expect to be wed. I translated for her. The old woman gave a knowing smile then took a small flashlight and aimed it at my friends face. My friend squinted uncomfortably from the brightness. The woman carefully examined my friend's forehead, making the customary Japanese "thinking sounds", "Oooooh! Emmmmm! Ah!" She revealed from under the table an archaic looking book, worn with age. The book was filled with charts with Chinese astrological symbols. The woman quickly searched for whatever she was trying to find, put the book back under the table, and then put the flashlight back in my friends eyes. She carefully examined her forehead again, made a few more sounds, "Eeeeeeeeh? Ah!! Hai!" Then IN ENGLISH she replied, "Your marriage.... FORGET ABOUT IT!"

Communication skills indeed!


Hi jmd,

I see you're not a fan of Guénon. Well like most "spiritual" thinkers of that general era (Steiner, Gurdjieff, Corbin, Ouspensky, Schuon, Blavatsky earlier) a lot of what they had to say should be taken with a grain of salt, and considered in relation to the era it was produced, though I'm not prepared to simply wave my hand and dismiss them without listening to what they have to say. Each brings a piece of the puzzle to the table. I've taken away a lot of good ideas from Guénon, and I have yet to have been "hoodwinked" into believing in the "purity of Islam". As for dogmatism, it is sometimes useful to remember that the early 20th century was a time of real ideological and intellectual turmoil, and many a deep thinker - Eliade, Evola, and even Jung, flirted with ideas which we currently do not approve, namely fascism.
Top   #64
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I could not read with the Noblet until just recently. All the stuff from how I learned just kept getting in the way. I used to read publicly and I did not believe it was very predictive- just more like counseling or Tarot therapy; and for myself reflective. The common thread for me was that it was an art of memory- it drew what I already knew out my mouth when I saw the pattern. Since I have participated in jmd's course (still doing it) and applying a method of Mary Greer's, and deciding how I wanted to read- for what purpose- it has all fallen into place. I have always noted question and answer in a notebook with date- that has always helped. The key tip is to decide 'how' you want to read. I do not any longer want to counsel people- so I have had to re- look at the cards. Not so much as predictive but as directive- so a completely different deck has assisted.

My tip after having decided 'How' and 'for What purpose' I do not lay the cards in a line, it is more a circle or like filling in a jigsaw puzzle- so all the cards become one picture. It is a bit like one would do for a traditional Le Normand spread of the fortune telling oracle. The first card down is the center and the rest (usually 10- but I ignore some) Then I widen my eyes- like I am looking at those magiceye drawings, and usually four or so cards will stand out- this is what I call a pattern- and then my brain coughs up what is underneath in the jumble of images and I know what the answer is to the Question. I do not self moralise as to what my front brain thinks should be the answer- I just go with the pattern. I do not say 'you might consider this' or make any psychological statement- I just talk the pattern. It has been hard to leave the 'counselling' behind. On the other hand I have years of 'what card seems to be what' meaning for me.
My best example is that looking back at notes the Card called the Lovers has never meant love in the reading- it has always seemed to say Not this way! depending what was around it.
So I guess the purpose for you doing a reading has to be clear.
~Rosanne
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Thanks Melanchollic - I would not imply that you have personally fallen to being blinded by his works. Neither would I, however, put him in the same bag as Steiner, Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, or Blavatsky (though with Corbin and Schuon is another matter, of course).

My central point was more that his views against the syncretic impulse are ill-founded, and that he (and his followers) appear to be blinded by his narrow eclecticism. Similarly, his understanding of symbolism would, to use the example you gave, perhaps best be left beyond together with the possible flirtings that Jung may have had with aspects of Nazism. Neither yields healthy engagement, it seems to me.
Top   #66
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thanks jmd

Now before Moonbow decides to "split the thread", it seems like a great time to actually suggest a tip for reading with the Marseille!!

If one is completely new to Tarot, it might be useful to spend a few months with just the 22 Trumps, and really get a feel for them. I've found the pips are really easy to use once you 'get' them, the courts a bit more challenging, but the Trumps seem to be endlessly deep.

Of course, many a modern Marseilleist - including Hadar and Jodorowsky, usually use just the Trumps. Paul Huson, on the hand, recommends just reading with the pips/courts. I personally like the feel of the whole heavy 'brick', the smooth, cool cards slipping through my hands as I shuffle.


Cheers,

R
a
H
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Wow you are good Mel!

I will leave it as is, (at least for now), as I think it gives a good example of how each of us use the Marseilles and that new Marseilles users do not have to take someone else's approach, but to find their own based on their own interests and beliefs.

Of course if you and jmd, and anyone else, wants to have a 'battle of the spiritual thinkers' thread then go ahead. Not sure where it would be best placed though.
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Talking about tips, and following on Thinbuddha's language metaphor in his extraordinaire post, something I find useful at a personal level is to see the Trumps as nouns, the Pips as adjectives, and the Honors as verbs.

Best,

EE
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There's more meaning in TdM than is needed by any one interpreter, or generation of interpreters.
That's what makes it a classic. Many approaches work. None are complete.
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Here's another tip I found useful: Ask a child you know (or have...but certainly don't go find one to do this experiment because that would be weird) to look at a simple spread of the cards in a row, like a sentence.

Their child-view is sometimes so simply elegant, picking up on patterns in the cards that one might tend to over-intellectualize.

For example, I used to look with suspicion on interpretations of (upright) La Maison Dieu as celebration, great joy, and Chutzpah, etc. Then, when I was reading for my brother and his wife, their kid (my nephew) looked over my shoulder and said, "Oooh! They're floating! And there's confetti and they need to stop playing together so loud or they're going into time out."
Top   #71
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Isn't it strange how enlightening little kids can be?

Anyway, I'm brand-spankin' new to the Marseilles as well, but I've found that what works for me is to break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. I think it's like anything else in Tarot, really; it can be as simple or as overwhelmingly complex as you want to make it.

Find ways of relating to each card individually, no matter how silly it may seem. Look at their body language, their eyes, their facial expressions, the colors in the card. Even the horses have something to say! Surely there's something there that speaks to you on a personal level, or triggers something in your memory. Work with that!

For me, the important thing to keep in mind is that if it ever stops being fun, or starts being work, stops being enlightening, starts to become painful or boring, then I'm doing something wrong! It's not supposed to be about studying until you're miserable, or throwing yourself into history if that's not your thing; it's supposed to be about finding what works for you, as a person, as a Tarot reader, as an individual, and cultivating that.
Top   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul
...Then, when I was reading for my brother and his wife, their kid (my nephew) looked over my shoulder and said, "Oooh! They're floating! And there's confetti and they need to stop playing together so loud or they're going into time out."
Yes! When my daughter was four we were watching a documentary about cougars - one of the cubs died and just when I was thinking I'd made a mistake, the show might be disturbing for a four-year-old, she said: "Oh! He took his body off!"

Maison Dieu is actually a pretty nice card in TdM, I can see a kid being helpful in overcoming "Waite damage".....
Top   #73
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I'm kind of hesitant to tell a new Marseilles reader to discard what they've already learned, or the meanings they associate with particular cards from the tradition they learned. We can't disassociate ourselves from the past that easily, nor do I think we'd want to. After all, tradition is one of the chief things that the Marseilles deck has going for it. Tradition is what distinguishes Tarots from other oracle decks.

Specifically, the Waite and Crowley interpretations are now, for better or for worse, the major part of the tradition of Tarot in the English speaking world. They would not be there if this tradition itself were not robust and serviceable.

And, part of the process of settling into reading a pip card deck is to move up a level of abstraction, to move past PCS's images, traditional though they be, to more general symbols. After all, there is a sense in which each "four" in the deck embodies four-ness. This is the first way that using pip cards broadens possibilities. Can a common idea of four-ness be extracted from the tradition you first learned? What are its contours? How is four-ness expressed in the fields of life represented by the four suits? Are there apparent exceptions to your attempt to find something shared by all the fours? If so, are there traditional reasons for that?

If elements and numerology are part of the tradition you grew up in, you don't have to discard them. The Tarot of Marseilles is not a new deck; it is instead the common source of your tradition and others'. All the systems invented to interpret the Tarot work on it, and were designed, if not with this deck in mind, with it looking over someone's shoulder.

In time, with familiarity, you will see that the Tarot of Marseilles has its own personality, and you can read its images on its own as well as through the lens of a tradition you brought to it. Its virtues lie in its frankness, its lack of pretense - at least in my opinion. It shares its history with gamblers as well as sages. It is not fancy.
Top   #74
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Hi ihcoyc,

I'm about to become a marseille newbie (deck in the post) and am finding this thread to be very, very helpful. However, something you said strikes me as being odd:
Quote:
Specifically, the Waite and Crowley interpretations are now, for better or for worse, the major part of the tradition of Tarot in the English speaking world. They would not be there if this tradition itself were not robust and serviceable.
The Waite and Crowley interpretations arn't 'traditional', they have merely become popular. However they do incorporate aspects of other Traditions, specifically for the purpose of occult pursuits and practises. They have earned a place in the Western Mystery Tradition, along with equally robust interpretations of tarot cards and regular cards from other sources.

The evolution of chinese money has made a stupendous journey, collecting a panarama of social, cultural and esoteric content along the way. All of which is encoded in little squares of cardboard - with or without fancy illustrations.

Rider-waite decks come with some version of Rider-Waite interpretations. Marselle decks don't. They are encoded with meanings from pre-waite eras and other locations. These early cards are what the RW was built on, the Rider-Waite is an 'adjusted' tarot, adjusted to accord with the perceptions and understandings of Waite and Co.

Having said that, if the cards are primarily being used as tools for divination, then it little matters what source the interpretations are taken from - you can create your own! The 'magic' is in the person, the reader.

Bee

EDIT: ihcoyc, OMG - APOLOGIES. Just re-read your post - minus other things which previously were claiming my attention - and see that I've ranted on quite unecessarily (pointlessly...). Sorry if I came across as being argumentative ihcoyc. (But I still can't agree that RW is 'traditional'. )
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I quite agree B! Don't apologize. The RWS deck isn't traditional altho Waite claimed it was. But who appointed him the arbiter!? When reading TdM I think Pythagoras is your best guide perhaps as his ideas were certainly "in the air" at the time of the TdM and would represent the worldview held by those living then.
Top   #76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bernice
The Waite and Crowley interpretations arn't 'traditional', they have merely become popular. However they do incorporate aspects of other Traditions, specifically for the purpose of occult pursuits and practises.
I tend to use the word "tradition" in an anthropological / folklore sense. Traditions, as broadly defined here, are beliefs and practices that have been passed down from one generation to the next. They grow and change in this process, as the people and environments into which they pass change as well. There is no sense that the oldest tradition is the most authentic or best, or that the purpose of studying traditions is to recover their original contents, so that this original can be used to reform contemporary practice.

The Tarot of Marseilles is a tradition. It has existed from before at least 1650 to the present. The RWS is a tradition, almost a hundred years old now. The Golden Dawn tarot teachings are almost a century and a half old now. They both borrowed heavily from Etteilla's tarot, almost two and a half centuries old now. And Etteilla's tarot was in turn derived from his piquet pack card readings, which preceded his Tarot by several decades. All of these things pass the basic test of generational persistence.

Traditions survive by adapting. I want neither to disparage the past, nor to worship it and turn into some kind of tarot fundamentalist. Both of these approaches seem to me to be dead ends. If we all didn't respect the past, we probably wouldn't be interested in the TdM. On the other hand, we don't want to hurl the Marseilles deck down from the mountaintop, shouting "thy cards are false" to the orgy below. When confronted with the Egyptian Cat Goddess Tarot of the Celtic Feminist Gypsies from Atlantis and its many variations, I'm sometimes tempted. We ought to be welcoming people who come to the TdM from such backgrounds, and requiring them to repent and renounce the false gods of their past is probably counterproductive. That's all I am trying to say.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ihcoyc
I'm kind of hesitant to tell a new Marseilles reader to discard what they've already learned, or the meanings they associate with particular cards from the tradition they learned. We can't disassociate ourselves from the past that easily, nor do I think we'd want to. After all, tradition is one of the chief things that the Marseilles deck has going for it. Tradition is what distinguishes Tarots from other oracle decks.

Specifically, the Waite and Crowley interpretations are now, for better or for worse, the major part of the tradition of Tarot in the English speaking world. They would not be there if this tradition itself were not robust and serviceable.
I would suggest discarding all that, at least while working with the TdM. Slow-cooking a roast and frying fish are two different things. "Tarot" is a catch-all word nowadays. Kind of like "cooking."
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IH, I didn't think dogma or repentance was happening here. I just think it important to note TdM does have a unique worldview.
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Good to see an old face back on the forum ihcoyc.

Doesn't this thread just show that reading the Marseilles deck is a personal thing? So many of us read differently and still find the deck to be insightful for our purpose, whatever that may be.

Personally, the Marseilles opened up more for me when I stopped trying to imagine the equivalent card from the Spiral deck and instead started to use what was in front of me. I agree that we cannot ignore our past experiences, whatever they were, they shape how we look at every aspect of life in the here and now, including Tarot.
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Quote:
ihcoyc said: "That's all I am trying to say."
And that's why I apologised. However, I would still say that the Rider-Waite isn't a Tradition, but it is seemingly in the process of being thought of as such. Every deck has it's day.

I've seen this same thing happen with astrological methods. You can't (and shouldn't) dispense with a system that proves workable for large numbers of people, but it should not be accorded the title 'traditional' just because it's going through a popular phase.

All versions of the tarot are simply a facet of the Tarot. Its' facets are an evolution of cultures, politics and esoteric understandings. And now we have the tarot-like oracle versions which are as you have said, along the lines of "Egyptian Cat Goddess Tarot of the Celtic Feminist Gypsies from Atlantis and its many variations." All RW clones, and some are really bad ones!

I think that fundamentally we are in agreement, aside from our differing ideas of the word 'tradition'. For some years now this word has been applied to a certain Alphabet of Plants, which I know for certain was taken from a very well written work of fiction. So I've become sensitive to it's use.

Bee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bernice
"Egyptian Cat Goddess Tarot of the Celtic Feminist Gypsies from Atlantis and its many variations."

And agreed, RWS is not a tradition. It's a pop Tarot. Calling it a tradition is like comparing the Ronettes with the Child ballads.

Don't get me wrong, though, I love the Ronettes.
Top   #82
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When I was looking for tips for reading the TdM many moons ago, I encountered a Tarot market saturated with RWS and Crowley. I first entertained that I could overlay RWS/Crowley-- which is to say mostly the Golden Dawn rubric--on top of the TdM, but this seemed highly dissatisfactory, since the TdM predated the Golden Dawn, even if the GD claims its knowledge base was perennial and only discovered in later centuries. So, I was interested in something more seminal.

I think it's also helpful to keep in mind that the Atlantic Ocean has had a lot to do with the 2 major Tarot schools. In Europe, the Marseilles deck has been ubiquitous. The RWS is often termed the Tarot Américain, at least in my circles of friends in Europe. Moreover, the Minors have played a Minor role in Europe, while they are afforded (near)equal status with the Majors with the RWS/Crowley decks, largely due to the cartoon pictures on the Minors.

When I say "Europe" the exception may be the UK, wherein RWS/Crowley decks are more popular to my knowledge, but of course Waite and Crowley have British bloodlines, no?

So, I leave the RWS/Crowley decks to their devotees, and we just sit at different tables.

So, perhaps the TdM explorer could ask, how could these cards be interpreted before Waite and Crowley?
Top   #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stella01904
Calling it a tradition is like comparing the Ronettes with the Childe ballads.
Yes, there is a lot of fakelore out there. The standard bits of fakelore in Tarot history, that they were derived from Egyptian religious sources, and brought to Europe by Gypsies, are something else entirely. These claims were typical of the kind of mythography that was routine in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The people who invented them were taking a shot in the dark The ideas captured imaginations, and as such took on a life of their own. This is typical of the folklore process. We complain about it in vain.

(One thing that would help is to point out that Renaissance Italy is way cooler than ancient Egypt. Ancient Egypt is a place of Pharaohs, slaves, and mummies. Renaissance Italy is a world of poets, great music, artists, gamblers, Popes, poisoners, and assassins. It's an upscale version of The Sopranos, with better clothes. Now, nineteenth century esotericism was solar and sky-oriented. Twentieth century esotericism trended to become much more lunar and earth-oriented. That's a full subject for a rant in itself; let's just say that I find it kind of hard to name the "Great White Brotherhood" without snickering. But for me, part of the attraction of the French and Italian tarots are their earthiness, their lack of pretense to "enlightenment." Need to sell that.)

But once again - tradition isn't necessarily about recovering the true original creation and restoring it as the most authentic. Folksongs cease to be folksongs if they cease to be sung.

The real problem, to me, is not so much inauthenticity as it is Disneyfication: the replacement of the many twists and turns of old tales with a single version, that because of the sheer weight of publicity comes to be taken as the canonical one. That, for better or for worse, is the situation of the RWS in the English speaking world.

When I see II La Papesse, I sometimes think of the old tale of the Fisherman's Wife. You can't get that from a High Priestess. Nor is Disney going to make a movie out of that old story; it's way too politically incorrect.
Top   #84
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Quote:
Disneyfication
ihcoyc, I LOOOVE that word.

Bee
Top   #85
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ihcoyc,

I read your review of The Ancient Italian Tarot. In it, you say it is a favourite marseille deck of yours, the marseille meanings/symbolism shines through. Can you confirm that?

Reason for asking is that an online shop has sent me the Ancient Italian instead of Ancient Minchiate Etruria. Just about to begin the process of sorting it out (haven't opened the Ancient Italian) and am now wondering if this is instead a happy luckinstance (... you know what I mean ).

Bee
Top   #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bernice
ihcoyc,

I read your review of The Ancient Italian Tarot. In it, you say it is a favourite marseille deck of yours, the marseille meanings/symbolism shines through. Can you confirm that?
Sure. The Ancient Italian is one of my favorite decks. Imagine for the most part a fancy Marseille deck that has been redrawn with fine engravings instead of woodcuts, with more conventional perspective and proportions. That, for the most part, is what you get with the Ancient Italian. Even the general demeanor of the court cards and even of the pip cards is consistent with the Marseille - i.e. the King of Bastoni has a huge club that he wields at an angle as if he were going to mash his foot with it. Some of the more salient differences are noted in that review.

I'd still send it back - the Ancient Minchiate Etruria is also something you want, even if it is obviously not Marseille based.
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Thank you ihcoyc. Will keep the Ancient Italian near the top of my wish-list.

Bee
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It is really nice to see this thread has developed in the way that it has. I last posted on this thread in Decemeber 2007...since then I have been working with the Noblet Tarot exclusively and had the good fortune of seeing EE lecture for 2 hours on the Noblet in London, which was a huge treat for me!

I have been studying these cards and working with the idea of optical readings and seeing the cards as lenses or a vehicle through which we work out our daily concerns.

I have now given readings with the Noblet deck to great satisfaction and look forward to an MBS fayre in August. I find the optical approach intuitive and liberating, and open to use with other oracular systems and correspondences.

I love discovering new things about each card and each spread that I do. I am still furiously taking notes and reading voraciously. As a jazz musician, I like the finite structure of the cards, the images, colours, etc..and the infinite possibilities unleashed by their momentary juxtaposition in any given readings.

Sulis has provided me with a wonderful rust bag with a gold lining in which to keep my cards and these will be my main cards for my readings from now on.
Top   #89
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ihcoyc
I'd still send it back - the Ancient Minchiate Etruria is also something you want, even if it is obviously not Marseille based.
No, no, get the Minchiate Fiorentine! Pricier, but much better quality.
The Minchiate Etruria has tissue for cardstock. :/
Top   #90
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stella01904
No, no, get the Minchiate Fiorentine! Pricier, but much better quality.
The Minchiate Etruria has tissue for cardstock. :/
The Etruria is OOP and the card stock is rather flimsy. This flimsy stock sure does make 97 cards a cinch to shuffle though.

Here is a Fiorentine for sale on ebay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Minchiate-Fioren...2em118Q2el1247

carte karuna is a highly reputable seller and his products are top notch!
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I love my LS Etruria, actually. The stock doesn't bother me -- the design on the backs could be nicer, but . . .
Top   #92
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrTodd
I have been working with the Noblet Tarot exclusively and had the good fortune of seeing EE lecture for 2 hours on the Noblet in London, which was a huge treat for me!
Seeing EE lecture would be a HUGE treat! Do you know about his Marseille Seeker threads in the Reader's Exchange forum? He's offering a six-week series of exercises (right now in week four), during which he's generously sharing everything about his reading style. I'm finding it so valuable that I'm printing out nearly everything he says and making a notebook to keep.
Top   #93
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I missed Enrique's lecture in London but imagine it was an amazing experience, as are the threads in the Reading Exchange:

http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=100904

Also another 'must' read is Melancholic's astrological method, (a long thread but well worth reading through):

http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread...4&page=6&pp=50

This shows that there are many different and successful ways to read with the Marseilles and it just a matter of finding one which suits the individual. The enthusiasm in these forums is wonderful to read too.
Top   #94
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Hey Moonbow Mel not only has a fantastic astro reading style, but his tirage method is likewise awesome. The verse is sweeeet, as Bill & Ted might say. Check out our thread in the reading exchange - Mel is ruling.
Top   #95
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Oh Dear! All these agreeable laudations. It just won't do. Now I'll have to go do some lusty and beastly deed to preserve my rapscallion repute, and put the cosmos back in order.


M
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosaica
Seeing EE lecture would be a HUGE treat! Do you know about his Marseille Seeker threads in the Reader's Exchange forum? He's offering a six-week series of exercises (right now in week four), during which he's generously sharing everything about his reading style. I'm finding it so valuable that I'm printing out nearly everything he says and making a notebook to keep.
I am following his Eye Rhyme installments on his blog, which are great.
Top   #97
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonbow*
I missed Enrique's lecture in London but imagine it was an amazing experience, as are the threads in the Reading Exchange:

http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=100904

Also another 'must' read is Melancholic's astrological method, (a long thread but well worth reading through):

http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread...4&page=6&pp=50

This shows that there are many different and successful ways to read with the Marseilles and it just a matter of finding one which suits the individual. The enthusiasm in these forums is wonderful to read too.
Must still be too much of a newbie here as I am denied access
Top   #98
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The Reading Exchange requires 25 posts or a subscription.

Nearly there!.....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrTodd
Must still be too much of a newbie here as I am denied access
Thanks moonbow..I have been reading more than posting
Top   #100

 

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