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

Thanks for saving me some work, Ptah. Interesting ideas, Huck.

I need to correct something I wrote in my previous post. Reading further in Decker et al, I see that the 1789 cards (which they prove to my satisfaction really were designed by Etteilla and not some follower) did have the astrological correspondences on them. They do not say what they were, but you can see the signs on the cards they reproduce (below).

They are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, three I don't recognize, Aquarius, and Pisces. Three are missing, the 5, 7 and 8. So the cards are just as Mary says.

Decker et al do not reproduce the suit of coins. However they say in the text (p. 93)
The Ace to 10 of Coins--cards nos. 77 to 68--are associated with the Sun, Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the head of the Dragon, the tail of the Dragon, and part of Fortune respectively.
This is exactly as Mary's list has it.

Decker et al also give correspondences to the Marseille trumps for this deck. Oddly to me, it is not quite the same as the list they gleaned from the 1783-1785 "cahiers." Number 1, previously correlated with the Pope, is now correlated with the Popess. Number 6, previously correlated with the Empress, is now correlated with the Emperor. Number 7, previously correlated with the Emperor, is now correlated with the Pope. And number 8, previously correlated with the Popess, is now correlated with the Empress.
Here are the two lists, scanned from Decker et al, pages 86 and 92. I have placed the two tables side by side for ease of comparison.

Apparently Etteilla's card "Folly" actually has the number 0 written on it. Decker et al say, in the sentence immediately after my last quote from them
The Fool, however bears the number 0, and does not really have a number at all; it comes between cards 21 and 22, that is, after the trump cards and before the suit cards.
So for the date 1789, it would appear that Mary's list of correspondences to the Marseille is wrong (to the extent that describes Etteilla rather than Papus) for his 1, 6, 7, and 8--or at least inconsistent with Decker et al. For 1785, it is right, except for the one correction (for number 1) and one addition (0 for the Fool). However Decker et al do not say where in the cards or accompanying brochure these correspondences come from. I hope they do not come from Grimaud in the late 19th century, which they also discuss immediately prior to giving their 1788 list.

Now I have another question. Are these correlations between astrological signs and tarot cards the first known in recorded history? It would seem that they are. And perhaps even the first in unrecorded history. If they had been part of a tradition, even an oral one, Etteilla surely would have mentioned some sort of astrological connection before 1785. I have spot-checked the two books of his they I find on-line, and I see nothing in them about astrology at all.

Some of his followers seem to have continued the astrological associations and some not. From Hugand we have a "..recreations astrologiques par le livre de Thot" of 1791 (Decker et al p. 102f). From D'Odoucet 1792 we have a Science des signes, ou medecine de l'esprit, contenant: 1: L'intelligence des sciences numerique et astrales des premiers Egyptiens... (Science of signs, or mind medicine, containing 1. The understanding of numerical and astral sciences of the first Egyptians...).

Others seem to have focused on the synonyms, especially La Salette in his 1791 Dictionnaire synonimique du livre de Thot. D'Odoucet included a section probably borrowed from La Salette in his Science des Signes of 1804-1807 (not to be confused with his earlier Science des Signes). D'Odoucet's full 1804-1807 title is Science des signes, ou medecine de l'esprit, vulgairement connue sous le nom d'art de tirer les cartes; contenant l'explication litterale et philosophique des hieroglyphs et des inscriptions de chaque feiuillet du livre Thot, leurs rapports sinoymes, homonymes et numeriques, ornes de 78 gravures. Seconde partie. (Science of signs, or mind medicine, colloquially known under the name of card reading; containing the literal and philosophical explanation of the hieroglyphs and inscriptions of each sheet of the book of Thoth, their synonymous, homonymous and numerical relationships, embellished with 78 woodcuts. Second part.) (Decker et al p. 106f)

I find it interesting that the word-lists were understood as containing homonyms as well as synonyms. That was a feature of 15th century Italian "hieroglyphs" as well, to include homonyms as part of the interpretations, if I remember correctly (I will try to look that up).

I am not sure what "numerique" interpretations of hieroglyphs include. (And remember, hieroglyphs were not considered exclusively Egyptian then; they were any mysterious-looking image or set of images explained by a bit of wisdom.) Is D'Odoucet talking about Pythagorean symbolism? In spot-checking Etteilla's books on-line, I did see what looked like Pythagorean examples, e.g. about numbers associated with various geometrical entities: points (1), lines (2), triangles (3), pyramids (4), cubes (6). (My main interest in Etteilla, let it be known, is in possible connections to 15th century Italy, where Pythagoreanism was rampant. But it was in France, too, by the 16th century, as e.g. in the Pythagorean section of the late 16th century French poem known in English translation as "Works and Days.")

It is also interesting that "Julia Orsini" in c. 1838 doesn't mention astrology at all. The cards are not identified with particular signs, either in the text or on the cards, although there are astrological signs within the illustrations, notably 4, 5, and 6.

However the book does have one intriguing illustration of the "Temple of Memphis," where, of course, Etteilla said the cards and their symbolism came from. The text does not, as far as I can see, discuss this illustration.

Looking elsewhere, I find no discernible astrological symbolism in the "c. 1800" Etteilla deck that Kaplan reproduces (Vol. 2, p. 400), comparable to that on the 1789 deck in Decker et al (below;Decker et al, p. 145, argue convincingly that the deck is actually 1826, because it the box advertizes a book published in that year). I do find the same symbolism on card 4 that we find in 1838, but it is not on card 5.

There is also no such symbolism that I can see on Kaplan's King and 10 of Coins in the same deck (below), although the latter has a reference to the Pythagorean tetrakys. (Unfortunately, Decker et al do not give us any Coins.) In Cups, I think there is a reference to the first triangular number, 3, as well as to the second, 10. By this time, as we see at the end of the row, the Fool has been made card 78.

Lest you think I am imagining these Pythagorean associations, here are the same cards in the 1838 deck:

The designer, "Lismon," has discarded the Pythagorean triangular patterns. Nor do I find any Pythagorean concepts discussed in the text.

I am not sure when astrology got associated with tarot again, after 1792. I see nothing in Decker et al before Paul Christian, 1863. And I know nothing about the consciousness of Pythagoreanism after Etteilla, except that "Lismon" and "Julia Orsini" seem not to have any.
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