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

I have revised this post since I first wrote it. In brackets at the end of each discussion of a card, I have added material from other sources. I have already talked about these sources in an earlier post, but here they are again for easy reference:

S = The Etteilla material in Stockman’s translation of Papus’s Tarot Divinatoire. There is one keyword and then a word-list for both upright and reversed meanings, of which I only give a few.

R = Revak’s translations of the same, at

F = the keywords in English and French on the 1969 France Cartes (Grimaud) deck

D = the keywords in English and French in the booklet that comes with Dusserre’s edition of the Grand Etteilla III (entitled Tarot Egyptien, Grand Jeu de l”oracle des Dames)

Added 9/2: DDD = Decker, Dummett, and Dupaulis, Wicked Pack of Cards.

c. 1840 = in French only, "Julia Orsini," Le Grand Etteilla, ou L'Art de Tirer les Cartes, which has same keywords as D plus word-lists for both upright and reversed.

I only cite these sources when they say something different from Etteilla's French or my English.
No. 12. Prudence; (*8) sometimes when this Card comes up in the reading, it is a piece of wise advice to proceed carefully, because it is recognized that prejudice and ignorance make a crime of our most praiseworthy acts, when they do not understand the steps that we take to bring the unrefined man to a life that is honest and useful to Society; it means Caution [French original: Prudence]. [In reverseds, S & R Nation; F & D Le Peuple = The Masses in F, The People in D]

No. 13, Marriage (*9); this Hieroglyph is one of those on which the Egyptians were very expansive. They said: Marriage is the absolute will of the Creator, and whoever disturbs this agreement, or diverts its progress, will not live in this world, nor in the other. means Marriage. [In reverseds, S & R lists have Society; F & D Union = Union]

Nº. 14. The Devil. The Egyptians, by this word Devil, or Demon, did not understand infernal Spirits enchained in the abyss, but a man whose science surpassed many others; finally, who knew everything by divine gift, or by prolonged [interpassante] study. Such were the Brahmins, the Gymnosophs, the Druids, etc., etc. This Hieroglyph means superior force, in everything concerning the things of human life. [S force majeure [left in French]; R Great Force; F & D Force Majeure = F Absolute Necessity; D Major Force; DDD Major Force. Reversed: F Force Majeur = Absolute Necessity; D Force Mineure = Minor Force. S list, slightness, weakness; R, insubstantial, weakness; c. 1840 Légèrité, Faiblesse, i.e. lightness, weakness]

Nº. 15. The Bateleur, (*10) means Illnesses: in a different sense, sometimes regarded as a Mage, it means Health. [S Sickness, in list illness, infirmity; R Illness, infirmity; F & D Maladie = Illness, both upright and reversed; DDD Illness. S list has in reversed, mental illness, headache; R reversed has Mental Illness...Head Injury; c. 1840 reversed, Indisposition...mal de tete, i.e. headache]

No. 16. Judgment. C.B.A., Judgment in C, says that you judge on nothing. B.C.A., what you judge of B is true; what you judge of A is false; means Judgment. [F & D Jugement = Judgment, both upright and reversed; S & R reversed lists: arrest, decree, weak mind]

Nº. 17. Death. Note that death has to come; but you should not get it mixed up. C.B.A., Death in C. says nothing; A.C.B., bad news for A; but as the book of the Oracles is not one of Decrees, it is most often necessary to believe that the death coming here in C is only a small courtesy visit that it renders to A: nevertheless it would be necessary to distrust B; because it is he who sends C to A. And finally, for C to bring lead(shot) to A, there would have to be D.A.C.B.; if we find A and B and C alone, it means death, or as little of it as necessary, for the sheet [= card, Fr. lame] that follows, which most often is an unknown, or a Project, or a Legal Case; and in this last case, so much the better.[S keyword Mortality, in list death, in reverseds list inertia; R Mortality, then in list annihilation, inertia; F & D Mortalité = Death in F, Mortality in D; DDD Mortality; in reverseds F & D Néant = Nothingness]

No. 18. The Hermit. The Egyptians took this, as the Provençals say, as The Capuchin [Friar], when the first degree of Knowledge and human Wisdom is reached: these Philosophers there were themselves, in a way, forced by their contemporaries, and by their Followers, so that, according to the vulgar idea, the corpuscles of the sublime did not exalt not so freely: today this Hieroglyph means a hypocrite, a traitor (*11). [S Traitor, in list betrayal...deceit, hypocrisy, and in reverseds loner; R Traitor, Treason...Dissimilation, Hypocrisy, and in reverseds Hermit; c. 1840 Fourbe [deceitful[, Hypocrite, reverseds Hermite; F & D Traitre = Traitor, in both uprights and reverseds; DDD Traitor]

No. 19. Maison-Dieu [lit. House-God, but in Old French, per Kwaw's later post, meaning House of God]. As we see that this House looks like the Tower of Montgommery, which has just been knocked over, or a small Castle that has been knocked over, it is very correct not to make it, like the ignoramuses, the Temple of the Eternal. So, as shown by the Egyptians, who never named it Maison-Dieu, but House of the punishments of God means Prison, poverty. [S Distress, then in list situs, misery or wretchedness...poverty, and imprisonment in the reverseds; R Misery, in list Distress...Poverty and in reverseds Imprisonment; c. 1840 Indigence...Détresse, then Imprisonnement; F & D Misère = Poverty in F and Misery in D, and in reverseds, F & D Prison = Prison; DDD Misery/Jail]

No. 20. The Wheel of Fortune. This Hieroglyph means increase and fortune; note however that every time it appears in a spread, you should not believe that it is ours; finally, it is necessary to consider where it is placed (*12).[S Fortune, in list good luck, happiness, and in reverseds Development; R Fortune, in list Happiness, and reverseds Increase; c. 1840 in list Bonheur, reverseds Accroissment; F & D Fortune = Fortune, and in reverseds Augmentation = F Raise and D Increase; DDD Fortune]
*8. Cross off absolutely the hideous name of the hanged man, which the most excessive ignorance gave to this invaluable virtue.

*9. In the work I give reasons for the transposition that I make of this Hieroglyph in the place of death, which I classify as No. 17. And without demonstrating here that I am just translating the thought of the Egyptians, I say that it is necessary to go back to the spirit of Marriage, which is birth, as birth is the spirit of death, and this one of life.

*10. This hieroglyph is very altered; it was a mage. ...

*11. I warn the Reader that I always translate only with regard to the divination of the Egyptians.

*12. This has often been thought very bad, going as far as regarding it insane; but I believe it very wise, because it takes as its task only tormenting the insane.
In no. 17, I read a semicolon ( after "D.A.C.B." and before "on". Otherwise I don't know how to understand this paragraph.

I notice that Simon's France Cartes 1969 bilingual deck translates "force majeur" as "absolute necessity". The English "major force" does not convey this sense. Does "force majeur" convey that sense in French?

[Added 8/20: In the post that follows, Kwaw gives an excellent explanation of the reasons for "absolute necessity". My current choice, "superior force", is the Wikipedia article's translation of the original Latin phrase vis major.)
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