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Comte de Mellet spread - the oldest ever recorded for divination with the Tarot cards

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le_charior  le_charior is offline
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Comte de Mellet spread - the oldest ever recorded for divination with the Tarot cards


I did a forum search, but couldn't find a thread on this spread (excuses if there was one already...), so I thought I'd start one so we can discuss it! (I learned about the spread from Mary K.. Greer's blog, to whom I bow with all my respect and admiration. There is also a nice example reading on her blog, so please go have a look!)

Some historic background before I explain how I use the spread, so skip until after the quote if you're not interested in that, please.

This spread comes from an essay called "Recherches sur les Tarots, et sur la Divination par les Cartes des Tarots par M. Le C. de M." (Research on the Tarots, and Divination by the Cards of the Tarot By M. C of M.); published in 1781 in the eighth volume of "Monde Primitif, analysé et comparé avec le monde moderne (The Primitive World, analyzed and compared with the modern world)" by Court de Gébelin. The author of the essay is given as M. the C. of M., and has been identified as Louis Raphaël Lucrèce de Fayolle, the Comte de Mellet.

Quote:
VI
Way in which one proceeds to consult the Fates.

Now let us suppose that two men who want to consult the Fates, have, one the twenty-two letter cards, the other the four suits, and that after having shuffled the cards, and each having cut the cards of the other, they start to count together up to the number fourteen, holding the trumps and the lesser cards in their hands face down so that only their backs are visible; then if a suit card turns up in its natural place, that is, which bears the number named, it must be put aside with the number of the accompanying letter card at the same time, which will be placed above: the one who holds the trumps places this same letter there, so that the book of Destiny is always in its entirety, and there is, in no case, an incomplete sentence; then the cards are mixed again and again receive a cut. Finally the cards are run through to the end a third time with the same attentions; and when this operation is completed, it is a question of reading the numbers which express the accompanying letters. Whatever happiness or misfortune is predicted by each one of them, must be combined with what the card announces that corresponds to them, in the same way that their greater or lesser power is determined by the number of this same card, multiplied by that which characterizes the letter. And for this reason the Fool which does not produce anything, is without number; it is, as we have said, the zero of this calculation.
Quoted after the translation by Donald Tyson that is no longer online, but kwaw was so kind to provide an alternate link: http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Reche...sur_les_Tarots

If i get it right, they are going through the whole process three times, which I don't, I only do it once.

*** So here is how it works: ***

The spread is originally performed by two persons (as described in the blog post linked above, and which is nice to give a sitter something to do with the cards and to really feel part of the reading), but I usually do it alone. This is nothing but my personal way of doing it, not saying it is the right or only way to do it, of course!

- Separate trumps and pips/courts, shuffle and cut both stacks and put them in front of you. Pips/courts on the right, trumps on the left, with enough space between them.

Then there are three things to do at the same time (multitasking!):
-> With the right hand turn over the pips one by one towards the left, onto a new pile.
-> Simultaneously count up from Ace to King. I usually count out loud: Ace, 2, 3,... up to King. Then it starts again at Ace etc. So DON'T name the cards you have just turned, but continue in your own order. This needs a bit of concentration.
-> With the left hand, move the trumps over to the right, to a new pile, but WITHOUT turning them. When you are done with the pile of trumps, move the pile to the left where it originally was, and continue.

- Only of you have a "hit", meaning the pip card you turned has the same value you said out loud, take the trump you just moved to the new pile, turn it and put it aside, as a pair with the pip card that made you take it. For exemple: you say Knight and the card you turn over is the Knight of Cups -> it goes to the side, with the Trump you got at the same time in the other hand.

- Interpret the cards as pairs. Voilà!

Hope this is clear. It's complicated, but totally doable if you practice it a few times and make sure you don't get distracted while doing it. This is exactly what I like about this spread: it involves a ritual that you need to do in full concentration. This opens a fresh mental space for the reading for me. The number of pairs you'll have in the end varies from zero to a lot, so it's a surprise how many you'll get. And sometimes you don't get one at all - which I take as a sign to rethink the question. And you can interpret the pairs however you think is appropriate - no fixed positions or meanings.

I keep a deck with separated trumps ready to do this spread, usually the Piatnik Marseille. It works well with TdM and unscenic pips decks, but is should be interesting for every deck.

Looking forward to hearing what you think and what your experiences are with the spread!

*** EDITED after corrections from kwaw - thanks for this! ***
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rachelcat  rachelcat is offline
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I use this with my LS gold Visconti. (I also found it on Mary Greer's blog.) Thanks for the translation. It's nice to see primary sources!

I've never gotten no pairs at all, but I have gotten 1 pair, and up to about 9 or 10 pairs. I like the variability of it! I've also found it to be rather easy to read in major-minor pairs. This spread really works for me!

(If we have more interest, maybe we can do a one-time Oldest Spread reading exchange!)
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le_charior  le_charior is offline
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Nice to hear that you like it, too, rachelcat!
Quote:
Originally Posted by rachelcat View Post
(If we have more interest, maybe we can do a one-time Oldest Spread reading exchange!)
I would love to do that! Maybe there are others and we can make a non official mini one time spread reading circle
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So, you are re-using the Trump "discard pile" until you finish counting through the Minors pile? About 2.5 times?
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The french original of the quote, for those who read french:

Quote:
VI.
Maniere dont on s'en servoit pour consulter les Sorts.

Supposons actuellement que deux hommes qui veulent consulter les Sorts, ont, l'un les vingt-deux lettres, l'autre les quatre couleurs, & qu'après avoir chacun mêlé les caractères, & s'être donné reciproquement à couper, ils commencent à compter ensemble jusqu'au nombre quatorze, tenant les tableaux & les cartes à l'envers pour n'en appercevoir que le dos; alors s'il arrive une carte à son rang naturel, c'est-à-dire, qui porte le numéro appellé, elle doit être mise à part avec le nombre de la lettre sortie en même tems, qui sera placé au-dessus: celui qui tiendra les tableaux y remettra cette même lettre, pour que le livre du Destin soit toujours en son entier, & qu'il ne puisse y avoir, dans aucun cas, des phrases incomplettes; puis il remêlera & redonnera à couper. Enfin on coulera trois fois les cartes à fond avec les mêmes artentions; & lorsque cette opération sera achevée, il ne s'agira plus que de lire les numéros qui expriment les lettres sorties. Le bonheur ou le malheur que présage chacune d'elles, doit être combiné avec celui qu'annonce la carte qui leur correspond, de même que leur puissance en plus ou en moins est déterminée par le nombre de cette même carte, multiplié par celui qui caractérise la lettre. Et voilà pourquoi la Folie qui ne produit rien, est sans numéro; c'est, comme nous l'avons dit, le zéro de ce calcul.
From here.
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le_charior  le_charior is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cardlady22 View Post
So, you are re-using the Trump "discard pile" until you finish counting through the Minors pile? About 2.5 times?
yes exactly! depends on how many "hits" you get how often exactly (which reduce the trumps pile), but i guess your calculation should be about right, since it 22 trumps and 56 pips/courts.
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wildchilde  wildchilde is offline
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thank you so much for sharing this and for posting the translation and documentation. this sounds so interesting and I am definitely going to give it a go. if any one decides to do an exchange I would love to be a part of it, just let me know!

I love this part of the quote the best:

Quote:
the one who holds the trumps places this same letter there, so that the book of Destiny is always in its entirety, and there is, in no case, an incomplete sentence
thinking of the pairs as sentences in the book we are reading is an excellent way to perceive the spread.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by le_charior View Post

Some historic background before I explain how I use the spread, so skip until after the quote if you're not interested in that, please.

This spread comes from an essay called "Du Jeu des Tarots", published in 1871 in the eighth volume of "Monde Primitif, analysé et comparé avec le monde moderne (The Primitive World, analyzed and compared with the modern world)" by Court de Gébelin. The author is the given as M. the C. of M., and has been identified as Louis Raphaël Lucrèce de Fayolle, the Comte de Mellet.
I think you have made a typo with the date, inverting the 8&7 - it should be 1781. Also you have the wrong essay. The spread is from an essay called Recherches sur les Tarots, et sur la Divination par les Cartes des Tarots par M. Le C. de M. (Research on the Tarots, and Divination by the Cards of the Tarot By M. C of M.) Both this essay and the essay 'Du Jeu des Tarots' by Gebelin appears in the 8th volume of Gebelin's Monde Primitif - but the two are different essays.

I placed a slightly tidied up machined-translated version together with the original on tarotpedia in 2006 - I keep meaning to go back and clean up the translation and presentation a bit more but have never found the time:

http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Reche...sur_les_Tarots
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le_charior  le_charior is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwaw View Post
I think you have made a typo with the date, inverting the 8&7 - it should be 1781. Also you have the wrong essay. The spread is from an essay called Recherches sur les Tarots, et sur la Divination par les Cartes des Tarots par M. Le C. de M. (Research on the Tarots, and Divination by the Cards of the Tarot By M. C of M.) Both this essay and the essay 'Du Jeu des Tarots' by Gebelin appears in the 8th volume of Gebelin's Monde Primitif - but the two are different essays.

I placed a slightly tidied up machined-translated version together with the original on tarotpedia in 2006 - I keep meaning to go back and clean up the translation and presentation a bit more but have never found the time:

http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Reche...sur_les_Tarots
Thanks kwaw - you are of course right with the date - it is 1781! will edit the first post, sorry for this, and for the confusion about the title of the essay, so "Du Jeu des Tarots" is actually the essay by Court de Gebelin? The translation I had found seems to be no longer online and i copied and pasted the information from there without checking it.

And thanks for the link to your translation!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by le_charior View Post
Thanks kwaw - you are of course right with the date - it is 1781! will edit the first post, sorry for this, and for the confusion about the title of the essay, so "Du Jeu des Tarots" is actually the essay by Court de Gebelin? The translation I had found seems to be no longer online and i copied and pasted the information from there without checking it.

And thanks for the link to your translation!
More correctly - google's and babel

Donald Tyson's translation of the two essays are still online at various places, scribed for example:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/55001287/6...y-Donald-Tyson

and rending the veil:
http://www.rendingtheveil.com/game-tarots/
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