Why did Eliphas Lévi link Le Mat with Shin?


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Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
Huck, I'm not sure if I understand your argument. However, I've played the game of Tarot and taught it in classes. I've discussed it's possible symbolic dimensions regarding an interface between the game and occult/divinatory understandings with others who play occasionally. Yet I've never once considered the rules of the game as the basis for ordering the cards or placing the Fool next to last, and I've never heard anyone else mention it.
Dwtw

I must be misunderstanding you here. Isn't the sequence of cards and their numbers the KEY to playing a trick-taking game? What point would a unique suits of cards called trumps be if they were not numbered? It would seem to me that the rules of the game ARE the basis for ordering the cards.

Now whether the rules are what indicated to Levi that the Fool should be penultimate is a different question. But as Huck says, and I said originally, the Fool is essentially the second-highest value card, (with the rare exception of the Magician winning the final trick). So in the minds of players he would be penultimate precisely because he has no number and is the 'excuse'. But one would not necessarily lay the cards out in that sequence in order to illustrate the point. Then again, does anyone need to lay out the pip cards to know that the Queen is penultimate?


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Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
Judgment is traditionally, in religious iconography, followed by a splitting into two possibilities that he characterized as Madness or Wholeness.
Dwtw

Trump XX shows the Last Judgment as opposed to one's judgment after death. In Catholicism, one is immediately judged upon death and sent to Heaven, Purgatory or Hell. On the Last Judgment, the resurrection of the body occurs; thus the corpses rising from the grave appear on the card. Then the souls in Heaven and Hell stay in their places, while those in Purgatory get to go to Heaven. Levi knew this doctrine perfectly well, as did the creators of Tarot.

So in terms of a dichotomy, the Last Judgement splits into Heaven and Hell. So if the World is the New Jerusalem, thy why wouldn't the Devil or the Tower/Fire card be placed in the penultimate position? Yet it never was. And this despite the fact that the letter Shin indicates the element of Fire, which can easily be connected to Hell. So Levi certainly was not taking the obvious cues. And he probably felt that moving any other card out of sequence was not kosher :-)


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Originally Posted by RLG View Post
I must be misunderstanding you here. Isn't the sequence of cards and their numbers the KEY to playing a trick-taking game? What point would a unique suits of cards called trumps be if they were not numbered? It would seem to me that the rules of the game ARE the basis for ordering the cards.
The numbers on the cards determine which cards trumps others. There's a card numbered 20 and one numbered 21. I'm just saying that it never occurred to me that I should insert the Fool between the cards numbered 20 and 21. To me, there are 21 Trumps plus the Fool. A wild card. I find it interesting that other game players automatically think of the Fool as coming after 20 and before 21.
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the letter Shin indicates the element of Fire, which can easily be connected to Hell.
Although I'm sure Lévi was aware of the Kabbalistic connection to Fire, he stresses Shin as the Astral Light, which he also identifies with the Devil Card. It's all there in his text. The Astral Light is the key to his whole occult philosophy. We don't have to make up reasons for him.

There is a French occult deck that is undated but probably from the early 19th century, that has a High Priest card and a High Priestess card. But, there are only 21 cards total - the card numbered 15 and untitled is the Fool (with a lion biting his leg). I now wonder if the deck should be dated later and is meant to make clear the link among Lévi's Devil and Fool and the Astral Light?
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Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
The numbers on the cards determine which cards trumps others. There's a card numbered 20 and one numbered 21. I'm just saying that it never occurred to me that I should insert the Fool between the cards numbered 20 and 21. To me, there are 21 Trumps plus the Fool. A wild card. I find it interesting that other game players automatically think of the Fool as coming after 20 and before 21.
I am not sure they all would - as Huck has already admitted one could argue that the fool is the best card to hold*(1) - it sounds as much a rationalization as anything else to me, an interesting idea but I don't buy it (as yet).

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Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
Although I'm sure Lévi was aware of the Kabbalistic connection to Fire, he stresses Shin as the Astral Light, which he also identifies with the Devil Card. It's all there in his text. The Astral Light is the key to his whole occult philosophy. We don't have to make up reasons for him.
Yes, I was about to reiterate that myself, for Levi the devil is not the devil but Baphomet, an emblem of the astral light.

It might also be pertinent to note again that though a catholic*(2), Levi did not believe in eternal damnation but in universal salvation - one could even infer from certain extracts of his works that he thought the concepts of hell and purgatory (and 'The Devil'?) were part and parcel of the hallucinations of madness. However, allowing them a measure of rhetorical veracity, as fable or parable, then his belief in universal salvation would mean that after final judgment even 'the devil' would have redemption, so there would be no splitting in two, but redemption for all, including those in 'hell'.

(Nonetheless he may prefer to present, or appear to present, the orthodox view in order to 'prevent injury' - he had after all already served three prison terms for his religious and political beliefs, and changing into the robes of a Master of Magic from that of a social reformist might also entail a different approach, as he wrote:

Treat the habits of ordinary life as others treat the weaknesses of childhood. Amuse the crowd to prevent personal injury, but never address it except in parables and enigmas; such has been the mode of conduct of all the great Masters of Magic, and in such an attitude there is wisdom.)

Kwaw

*1. Indeed, if memory serves me right there is a tarot appropriati poem of the mid-sixteenth century which concludes 'I take the best card, the fool, for myself.' (Of the appropriati poems, a lot of them seem to order them as de Mellet, going down from 21 with the fool coming last, after the trickster.)

*2. I suspect Levi uses the word catholic in the sense of universal - it is clear his ideation of a 'universal religion' bears little relation to the actual Roman Catholic church.
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*2. I suspect Levi uses the word catholic in the sense of universal - it is clear his ideation of a 'universal religion' bears little relation to the actual Roman Catholic church.
XV. Une Société qui, pour se conserver en est réduite à se couper un membre est une Société gangrenée. Mais l'humanité qui est immortelle n'admet pas de retranchements.
XVI. Dieu étant la vie réelle du grand corps de l'humanité, si la majorité des hommes pouvait être damnée, on pourrait dire que Dieu c'est l'enfer.
XVII. Si un seul homme pouvait être réprouvé sans remède et sans espoir, la rédemption serait un mensonge et la création une monstrueuse injustice.
XVIII. Aimez-vous les uns les autres, cela ne voulait pas dire : excommuniez-vous et damnez-vous les uns les autres.
XIX. La catholicité vraiment universelle, voilà la raison et la vérité. Le catholicisme exclusivement romain, voilà l'absurdité et le mensonge.

XV. A society which is reduced to cutting off a limb to maintain itself is a gangrenous society. But humanity that is immortal does not admit subtractions.
XVI. God is the real life of the great body of humanity, if the majority of men would be damned, we could say that God is hell.
XVII. If one man could be condemned without remedy and without hope, redemption would be a lie and create a monstrous injustice.
XVIII. Love one another, this does not mean: excommunicate and damn one another.
XIX. Truly universal Catholicism, there is reason and truth. Exclusively Roman Catholicism, there is absurdity and falsehood.

Le livre des Sages - Eliphas Levi
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Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
Although I'm sure Lévi was aware of the Kabbalistic connection to Fire, he stresses Shin as the Astral Light, which he also identifies with the Devil Card. It's all there in his text. The Astral Light is the key to his whole occult philosophy. We don't have to make up reasons for him.

There is a French occult deck that is undated but probably from the early 19th century, that has a High Priest card and a High Priestess card. But, there are only 21 cards total - the card numbered 15 and untitled is the Fool (with a lion biting his leg). I now wonder if the deck should be dated later and is meant to make clear the link among Lévi's Devil and Fool and the Astral Light?
I try to understand majors as if they were people and imagine how they would react if they really were. If I were the ignorant Fool what would I do to adequately take my life journey? I would uncover what is occult underneath the Hermit’s robes so that I would have the necessary tools to deal with the unknown (what is down there in the abyss). But why the Hermit? Because he is the wise man who went through 1-8 and completed a full cycle of knowledge with the help of the light in his hands (astral?). And what does the Hermit want? He wants to associate to people who would add to him: successful, famous, rich, daring, with guts to make a lot of achievements, with ability to fight for and keep what has been conquered, and that’s the Devil (Capricorn/Saturn/goat/Baphomet), so double astral lights (Hermit’s lamp) and Baphomet himself. If we consider this chain, the Fool perfectly connects to the Devil, via the Hermit.

As to the Fool untitled and numbered 15, with a lion biting his leg, it may be that this lion is showing the Fool/Devil connection to the Strength card. Strength is similar to the Devil in several ways: sensual, has got pretty knowledge of herself, no prejudices, domineering, possessive, jelous, aggressive, etc

I hope this point of view helps.

Lu
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Originally Posted by kwaw View Post
Levi did not believe in eternal damnation but in universal salvation - one could even infer from certain extracts of his works that he thought the concepts of hell and purgatory (and 'The Devil'?) were part and parcel of the hallucinations of madness. However, allowing them a measure of rhetorical veracity, as fable or parable, then his belief in universal salvation would mean that after final judgment even 'the devil' would have redemption, so there would be no splitting in two, but redemption for all, including those in 'hell'.
Kwaw - thanks for reiterating this core stance. I hadn't really gotten it before you first brought it up, but now it helps me see Lévi much more clearly. He appears to have had a troubled relationship with the church as institution - at times, clearly rebelling and at others, wanting to be accepted as part of the fold.
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If we consider this chain, the Fool perfectly connects to the Devil, via the Hermit.

As to the Fool untitled and numbered 15, with a lion biting his leg, it may be that this lion is showing the Fool/Devil connection to the Strength card.
I appreciate your speculations and can see the reasoning. However, as we are doing historical research here, we need to concentrate on what Lévi actually said. You make a good point that the Hermit's lamp is actually the astral light but I haven't been able to find that in his texts so far, and don't have time right now to look further. Wirth notes that the Hermit's light is hermetically sealed. And Lévi calls the Hermit both Prudence and the Initiate, so I doubt if the Hermit is wanting to associate with the rich and famous.

You are right about the Lion being reminiscent of Strength in the Fool/Devil card of the Grandpretre Tarot.

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Not only is there a High Priest and High Priestess card, but the Hanged Man is labeled Prudence and is upright like de Gébelin puts him. My theory was that this was someone's interpretation of de Gébelin's essay, but there are only 21 cards and XV card is really confusing - Devil or Fool?
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