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Christine  Christine is offline
Join Date: 30 Aug 2003
Location: Oregon USA
Posts: 80
Hebrew/Christian splice

Am loving the scans, Huck. Thanks so much for taking the trouble. Image lust strikes again!

In terms of the strain or flavor or "school" of Kabbalah/Cabbalah that you would see in Etteila's deck, it would definitely be of the red-headed stepchild variety. By this I mean, the amalgam that was flowing in the Orders was just that, not "pure Hebrew", not "pure Hermetic" or anything like it. And when one starts reading into Martinism, one discovers the admonition that the student will need the courage of his or her convictions, because s/he will not find coherence with either Jews or Christians; they will both foreswear what we are studying as Martinists.

The particular slice of Jews who would be interested in an active ecumenicism with the Magical Christians would necessarily be narrow. In both cultures it's only a small cabal but we see their names repeatedly as the active agents in moving the magical agenda forward. Someday I hope to collate an overview of how the magical, socio-cultural and political trends relevant to Tarot interweave (though there's fertile ground for many essays, don't wait for me!) It's much more complicated and interesting than we have been thinking.

When you watch the parade of names go by from Ficino forward (referring here to the Christians who were espousing Hebrew studies and the teachers they had), what you see is Marano or converso influence, alongside the identifying marks of the Sabbatai Zevi phenomenon.

Further, the magical Christians, who were Catholics and Protestants alike, were scouring Islam, Judaism, Gnosticism, Sufism and all the official and rejected Gospels, to sift out the rejected gold of Sophianic theology. This Theosophy is always accompanied by alphabetarian concerns, from the the creators of the polyglot Bibles to the Seals of Solomon. This is what's called the "Wisdom Tradition".

By the time of Etteilla we are looking at the cliches left over from two centuries of heated ferment. It's the lava tube, as opposed to the lava proper. However, what he shows us is the state of the interface between the "popular Tarot" and the Lodge paradigm that had been working with the Marseilles model before him. This is the territory he claimed and made his own. And the fact that he made his entrance through the "oracle" door (first with the simplified tiny double-headed pack, then with his Book of Thoth), makes him all the more interesting. Because he grabbed all the most numinous and glamorous and enticing cliches from the zeitgeist to make that pack. It was an instant hit, like our modern favorite TV shows! So the pack in its extended presence across time, both the original form and it's later permutations, provide us with a perfect mirror of the preoccupations of the times.
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