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

Thank you, Kwaw. I see that "house-God" is misleading. I will remove it. was just explaining what "maison" and "Dieu" meant, which is not the same as a literal translation of "Maison-Dieu". I will put "[Old French for House of God]" after "Maison-Dieu."

From your examples for "force majeur", I am not convinced that "absolute necessity" quite conveys the French meaning in the various contexts you give. "Force that one cannot be expected to resist" seems closer. And how would you translate "force majeur" in Etteilla's explanation of the reversed meaning (in the passage translated below), where he says the "force majeur" is less? Revak translates "force majeur" as "great force" (

Now to the next section. On 8/19/12 I revised what I wrote earlier, by adding material from other sources after what Etteilla says about each meaning. For easy reference, they are:

S = Stockman’s translation of the Etteilla material in Papus’s Tarot Divinatoire. For trumps and number cards, there is one keyword and then a word-list for both upright and reversed meanings, of which I only give a few. For the courts, there is no keyword but instead some words along the right side of Papus's cards, one or more of which seem to relate to Etteilla.

R = Revak’s translations of Papus word-lists, at

F = the keywords in English and French on the 1969 France Cartes (Grimaud) deck, for which the French keywords of the 20 cards shown in Decker, Dummett, and Depaulis's Wicked Pack of Cards correspond exactly.

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)

DDD = Decker, Dummett, and Depaulis, Wicked Pack of Cards. They give nothing for the courts. When they show the card-image, and the French keyword is different from F, I give the French as well. This only occurs in one instance (out of 20 cards), card 29.

c. 1840 = 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 cite these sources only when they say something different from Etteilla's French or my translation.
N. 21. The Chariot, means noise, quarrel, dissension, bad order: the little ones [the Egyptians?], no doubt angry against chariots, say with a common voice, that it is neither good nor pleasant to be made wet like water spaniels, and squashed like fleas. [S Disagreement, in list war...dispute, noise...disorder, in reversed noise, dispute; R Dissention, in list war, dispute, disruption, in reversed unrest, racket; c. 1840 Troubles, Emeutes...Guerre [Troubles, Riots, War], reversed Bruit, Tapage [Noise, Commotion]; F & D both upright and reverseds Dissension = F Disagreement, D Dissension; DDD Dissension]

No. 0. The Madman, or Madness; this Card is the only one that in fact never had a number; which returns well enough to the fact that it is hardly possible to assign a number to our dear madnesses (13); means madness . [R and DDD Folly, all others Madness, for both upright and reversed. S list has madness...dementia, extravagance, unreasonableness, reversed idiocy, ineptitude, carefreeness. R list has Demented, Eccentricity [Extravagance], Insanity, reversed Imbecility, Ineptitude, Carelessness; c. 1840 has Démence, Extravagance, Déraison, reversed Imbécilité, Ineptie, Insouciance.] It is necessary to understand that these first 22 Leaves never had, for the Egyptians, with regard to divination, a single meaning; but when this book was finally moved and mixed, opened, or cut, and one of these 22 Hieroglyphs coming upside down, then the forecast was less, that is to say, the chariot coming reversed, upside down, the quarrel is less considerable.

If the so-called Devil comes feet at the top, the superior force [force majeur] is less; so of these twenty-two meanings, 22 major Hieroglyphs being interpreted, as I said for divination, and not for hermetic Philosophy, which is so perfectly developed there, that it is impossible not to recognize in it the Originals of all the Adepts who have written. We are going to pass to the 56 minor Hieroglyphs, taken up under the primary four faces, which have all the numbers relative to the high Sciences, or second Human sciences. (*14)

Staves [bâtons] in their positions. Situs. [Latin for "Situated"; it might be his term for "Upright"]

N. 22. King of stave [bâton], this is a man. [S on side of card: Head Man, Man of Will and Enterprise, Dark Man; S in list: countryman...Conscience; R Man of the Country...conscientious; F & D Homme de Campagne = F Country Gentleman; D The Country Man]

N. 23. The Lady, this is [i]a woman/i]. [S on side: Woman of Enterprise, Dark Woman; S in list: countrywoman...gentleness, virtue; R Woman of the Country...Gentleness, Virtue; F & D Femme de Campagne = F Country Lady; D The Country woman]

N. 24. The Knight, means Departure (1). [S on side: Setting Off (Envoy to a Chief), Dark Youth; in list departure; R same; F & D Départ = Departure]

N. 25. The Page, Good Stranger [or foreigner]. [S on side: Chief’s Envoy, Good Stranger/Foreigner; S in list: stranger or foreigner; R Stranger; F Étranger = Stranger; D Bon Étranger = Good Stranger. See also Etteilla, 4th Cahier Supplement, p. 145, where he says "étranger: nous y avons mal-à-propre ajouté le mot bon- stranger [or foreigner]: we have inappropriately added the word good, and p. 147, where he changes the keyword to Étranger without the Bon]

N. 26. 10 of batons, Betrayal. [R & D; Treason]

N. 27. 9, Delay. [S in list: lateness, delay]

N. 28. 8, Day trip to the country. [S in list, R countryside...pleasure; F & DDD Campagne = Country; D Partie de Campagne = Country Party]

N. 29. 7, Prattle. [S Gossip; S in list negotiation; R Discussion; F & D Pourparlers = F Negotiations; D Preliminary Talks; DDD Pour Parler = Negotiations] [See also 4th Cahier Supplement, p. 145: Nous avons pas eu assez recours aux terms génériques, ayant mis caquet au lieu de paroles, &c. Les paroles ne devant se voir que comme pour parler utile, ou comme bavarderie, suivant les cartes qui accompagnent celles qui signifient [i]paroles/i]. = We did not have enough recourse to generic terms, having put prattle in place of words. The words around it seeing whether as useful speech or as prattle, following the cards that accompany those that signify words. On p. 147 he gives "Pour Parler. Paroles" as keyword for card 7.]

N. 30. 6, Domestic [Fr. Domestique]. [S Servants, in list domestic servant; R Domestic Worker; DDD Domestic] [In the 4th Cahier Supplement p. 146, Etteilla adds that this can be augmented to "un inférieur", i.e. an inferior, depending on surrounding cards. However he did not put this change in the list of keyword changes that follows.]

N. 31. 5, means Gold.

N. 32. 4, Society [Fr. Societé. [S Company; DDD Social Success ]

N. 33. 3, Enterprise. [S Enterprise; in list, to undertake; R Enterprise, Begin; F & D, Enterprises = Enterprises; DDD Enterprises]

N. 34. 2, Sorrow. [S & D Sadness; R Chagrin]

N. 35. 1, Birth.

The Cups in their positions, Situs. [Latin for situated]

N. 36. King of cups, Fair-haired man. [S on side: Lawyer, Fair man, Effeminate Man (this last may apply to reversed); S in list: fair (haired) man, honest man... Art, Science; R Fair Man, Honest Man... Arts, Sciences; F & D Homme Blond = Blond Man]

N. 37. The Lady, Fair-haired woman. [S on side: Fair-Haired Female Lawyer, Woman of Easy Virtue (MH: this relates to Reversed word-list); S in list: fair (haired) woman, honest woman... wisdom; R Fair Woman, Honest Woman.... Wisdom; F & D Femme Blonde = Blond Woman]

N. 38. The Knight, Arrival (2). [S on side: Arrival, Amorous Knight; all others Arrival.]

N. 39. The Page, Fair-haired boy. [S on side: Fair Youth, Messenger of Love; S in list: fair-haired youth, studious; R Fair Young Man, Studious; F blond boy]

N. 40. 10 of cups, The town [ville] where one is. [S: the town where you are; in list: town, city; R Town, City; F & DDD La Ville = The City; D La Ville = Town]

N. 41. 9. Victory.

N. 42. 8. Fair-haired girl. [S Fair Girl, in list fair-haired girl, practical girl, honor; R Fair Girl, Honest Girl, Honor; F & D & DDD Blond Girl]

N. 43. 7. Thought [Fr. La Pensée] (3). [D La Pensée =Thoughts]

N. 44. 6. The past (4).

N. 45. 5. Inheritance. [S Heritage, in list inheritance...heritage; R Legacy...Heritage]

N. 46. 4. Boredom (5). [D Ennui = Troubles]

N. 47. 3. Success.

N. 48. 2. Love.

N. 49. 1. Table. [S in list Table, Meal; R Table, Meal; F Table = Gastronomy]
*13. The Egyptians offer us this Hieroglyph as a mirror, which without being coated, gives to each the power to see on one side the defects of some, while those see by looking on the opposite side at the defects of the others.

*14. I will give the reason for all these divisions, not in the style of the Ancients, but according to the knowledge of the Cabalists.
This last footnote seems to me quite important. He is not claiming Egyptian origin for his interpretations of the suit cards. Rather, they come from the “Cabalistes”, which I think means not the Jewish mystics, but those in Europe of his time and before who practiced a largely hidden tradition that combined Jewish-based mysticism, alchemy, pythagoreanism, and perhaps other doctrines and practices--everything they imagined as part of the prisca theologia, the ancient theology. Card-reading with the Italian deck of 56 cards was part of that tradition, he seems to be saying.
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