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MikeH  MikeH is offline
Join Date: 03 Nov 2007
Location: Oregon USA
Posts: 443
Card 12, Prudence

Thanks Huck. I sent him an email.

For card 12, here are the c. 1910 Etteilla I from; Sumada's Etteilla II, date unknown,; and La Rue Etteilla III, also date unknown,

Etteilla has of course taken de Gebelin's idea about the Hanged Man, that he should be seen as standing up and called Prudence. The rope then becomes a snake. [Inserted July 15: Here is what he says, in my translation of p. 21f of the 2nd Cahier:
[p. 21] The Cardmakers, seeing only one of the feet of Prudence posed on the ground, figured that it was a man hung by one foot, and what is worse, they discovered the vestiges of a serpent, which they took for a cord: from this false judgment, they established a beam across; and turning him upside down, they painted [p. 22] his hair in an equally horrifying position.

They saw, says M. De Gebelin, three Virtues; there had to be a fourth, and he demonstrates solidly, in the article on the Tarots inserted in his eighth volume of Primitive World, that Prudence was represented upright, posed on one foot, and the other in the intention of making a step; this is, we say simply, a man who having raised one foot in order to walk, considers prudently where he is going to place it, which supposes a great prudence, if this man is surrounded by dangerous reptiles, above all if they offend.
And of course with Temperance already at 11, with Prudence at 12 the other virtues have to have been nearby, i.e. at 9 and 10 rather than as 8 and 14, as the Marseille-style cardmakers erroneously have them (2nd Cahier p. 26).]

The serpent is of course a common association to Prudence, as old as Christ’s “Be ye wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” An example is the Minchiate Prudence card (at right below), Florence or Bologna early 18th century, which also has the mirror. The mirror has a long association with that virtue, probably in virtue of the saying “Know thyself.” An early example is Giotto, c. 1305 Padua (center below).

The mirror is also associated with vanity, a vice of know-it-alls as well as beauties. It thus has a negative as well as positive association wtih prudence. The serpent is similar, in that it represents temptation and foolish choices as well as wisdom or prudence.

Now for the word lists. Words that are in either translation of Papus, and also in Orsini, are in regular type. Those in Papus only are in italics; and those in Orsini only in bold.
12. [La Prudence.] PRUDENCE-Discretion, Wisdom, Circumspection, Restrained, Discernment, Foresight, Forecast, Reserve-Presentiment, Prediction, Prognostication, Divination, Prophet. Horoscope.

Reversed: [Le Peuple.] THE PEOPLE. Nation, Sovereign, Legislator, Body Politic, Population, Generation.
Like the other virtue cards, in the c. 1838 Orsini, Prudence gets a long footnote. It is written in a more complex style than the rest of the commentary, harder to translate, and so probably taken from a different source:
(*). Prudence; sometimes when this card is drawn, it is sage advice to proceed prudently; when it is recognized that prejudice and ignorance make a crime of our most praiseworthy acts, when the steps we take, to bring the unrefined man to a life that is honest and useful to society, are not felt-—that is the meaning of Prudence.

Prudence, in consultation, judgment command; joining memory, intelligence, knowledge, reason, foresight, circumspection, delivery.

She wants honest solitude, economy, work, activity, politics, etc. [Elle veut l’honnete solitude, l’economie, la travail, l’activite, la politique, etc.]
Here is the main body of Orsini's commentary, with my explanatory comments in brackets.
You are already comporting yourself wisely in difficult affairs; this card asks you to continue the same way in the future, because you will have many obstacles to surmount; the serpent that is always a sign of temptation predicts, if you are not careful, that you will be seduced by rascals, who will entrap you in bad steps.

Beside no. 64 [King of Coins: Brown-haired man, Vicious man], this card announces that you will have a dispute with a brown-haired man.

Reversed, this card predicts nothing so interesting: news of a foreign people in which you have some interest [d’un peuple etranger auquel vous porter quelque interet; Dusserre’s translation, I think incorrectly, has “of foreigners you care little about”] or of a country you would like to visit.

Inverted near no. 15 [Illness], it announces a popular assembly or a dangerous quarrel. Near no. 70 [Brown-haired girl/Usury], it means certain loss. Near no. 19 [Misery, Prison], captivity of short duration.
The serpent here could be either the one on the Etteilla I card, standing in the lady’s path, or the one on the Etteilla II, wrapped around her mirror. The theme of temptation is better expressed by the mirror.

The c. 1865 booklet, written for the Etteilla III card, says,
This card warns you to keep on your guard at all times, and the serpent characterizes the demon tempter.

But if this tarot occurs in company with nos 9 [Justice], 10 [Temperance], or 11 [Strength], it is a sign approving the manner in which you have conducted your affairs.

Beside no. 64 [King of Coins: Brown-haired man/vicious man], it warns of difficulties of little importance [de peu d’importance]; and this oracle is modified by the following card, if it is one of the four knights or the four valets, for, in that case, it announces that you can count on your friends to aid you on every occasion.
There are no inverted meanings here, and the dispute suggested by the nearby King of Coins is minimized.

In the other booklet tradition, the c. 1910, probably first published 1826, is quite colorful.
You have a sum of money or expectations badly placed. A cause not yet known will ruin your support. Watch your affairs with all the prudence imaginable.

If no 12 appears upside down, it announces sedition among the people or a particular quarrel in which you will avoid being thrown only with the greatest circumspection.

If this card is near no. 70, it announces very certainly some loss. A person for whom you have answered will disappear; and you will pay, which is indeed disagreeable.

No 12 reversed beside no 18 [Traitor] presages that someone will denounce you for political opinions. If no. 19 [Misery/Prison] is in the vicinity, expect a short sojourn in prison.
It is easy for me to imagine this set of predictions being written during the 1820s, when France was saddled with the unpopular Bourbon monarchy they had earlier waged a revolution to unseat. There was much turmoil and intrigue, culminating in the Second Republic of 1830. It was similar in Etteilla’s day. Hence Prudence and the People are opposites: one must be wary where the masses are concerned.

The modern Grimaud is at least as extreme. However the people are no longer a factor; the modern writer has even changed the Reversed keyword to “Popularityz” (Popularite).
Moses is the card for politicians and diplomats. It recommends prudence with words as well as in writing.
R [right side up]: Trust no one. Especially beware of people who make suggestions about placing your money.
U[upside down]: Avoid arguments, quarrels regarding prestige. Otherwise you will be the sufferer.
R: with 70 – Loss of money and authority.
U: With 18 [traitor], political denunciation. With 18 and 19 [Misery/Prison] near each other: Loss of freedom. With 15 [Illness, Aaron]: Vehement verbal confrontations. With 9, 10, and 11: Do not deviate from the path you have chosen. Near 64 [King of Coins: Businessman/Vicious] followed by a jack or a knight: Friends follow your policies.
This writer again combines the 1826 and the Orsini in his own fashion. Even without “People” on the card, it is a card of politics, in which it is important to put one’s pride aside, but not one’s judgment. In times of trouble, the virtues are what sustains one, those and one’s friends or supporters. “Trust no one” seems extreme; it perhaps applies first of all to fortune-tellers.
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