Why did Eliphas LÚvi link Le Mat with Shin?


> Aeclectic Tarot Forum > Tarot Special Interest > Tarot History & Development



 
kwaw's Avatar
kwaw  kwaw is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 29 Dec 2003
Location: Nr. Ephesus, Turkey
Posts: 5,400
kwaw 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
Kwaw - so what do you make of it regarding the Fool and Shin?
Well the association with alchemists and madness due to poisoning is an old one (and the two are directly connected in Etteilla). If one wishes to associate hebrew letters with the cards then shin as alchemical fire is as good a rationalization as others.
Top   #31
kwaw's Avatar
kwaw  kwaw is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 29 Dec 2003
Location: Nr. Ephesus, Turkey
Posts: 5,400
kwaw 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mallah View Post
"But the fluidic atmosphere of the mad is often poison for tottering reason and exalted imaginatons. "

I don't know if this was how he hung Shin on the Fool, but I love the reasoning here...so true!
Note: my French is no particularly good., and the sense of my translation might be a little off, so take care with them. I wonder if he is suggesting something along the lines of the poisonous atmosphere and conditions in which the alchemist works often leads to madness - needs someone with better French than me to check it.
Top   #32
Cerulean's Avatar
Cerulean  Cerulean is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 26 Apr 2002
Location: Calif., USA
Posts: 9,341
Cerulean 
Folie de Alchemist


Ah...am not Kraw, but poor Frankenstein's monster, when lightening gave life to simple mortal remains.

Frankenstein became the obsessed mad scientist who used electricity to animate what was formerly alive. His obsession led to terrible results, this was my mad association.

Levi's descriptions are poetic. Thanks Kraw for the inspired transcripts, lovely to read.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
Kwaw - so what do you make of it regarding the Fool and Shin?
Top   #33
MikeH  MikeH is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 03 Nov 2007
Location: Oregon USA
Posts: 443
MikeH 

I'm new to this thread and maybe don't understand the complexities, but Levi's point seems simple enough to me. And it's already been stated, more or less. But I'll say it again. So here's Levi.
Quote:
Man formulates light by his imagination, he draws enough light to himself to give proper forms to his thoughts and even his dreams; if this light overcomes and his understanding drown in these forms, he is mad. But the fluidic atmosphere of the mad is often poison for tottering reason and exalted imaginatons.
It's like in the myth of Phaeton, who thought he could guide the horses of the sun without bothering with the necessary training training. The horses were too much for him and he fell to earth and died. If you get too much of the light for your judgment to handle it (the preceding card), you can go mad. Jung made the same point psychologically. Faced with an influx from the unconscious, you can process it in a hermetically sealed container such as Jungian therapy, you can work with it yourself if you want to draw, write, drum, or whatever (however untalented); but it can also lead to psychosis, not so much a state where you lose touch with reality--because who is to say that someone in that state can't see a higher reality--but where you are so taken by your visions that you can't separate their devilish side from their divine side. And so the horses of imagination and light run wild and the ego comes tumbling down.
Top   #34
kwaw's Avatar
kwaw  kwaw is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 29 Dec 2003
Location: Nr. Ephesus, Turkey
Posts: 5,400
kwaw 

It is a long time since I read Levi with any great attention, since I was adolescent in fact. I am still struck by the sense I had then - that there is something very iffy about his Christianity.

His statements in regard to Christ and christianity often seem full of double meaning, tongue in cheek and with a tone of irony, even contempt when it comes to catholicism, with an underlying sense that beneath the lines and lip service he regards it all as superstitious nonsense.

I think one could easily mine, if one were inclined, enough of his quotes to argue that shin belongs to the fool for him because shin is the letter of Christ. . . and only fools and madmen create gods in their own image.
Top   #35

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

I need to correct what I wrote in my last post. Levi's statement has nothing explicit about devilish vs. divine sides of the imagination. It may well be that such a concept is implicit, and that he indeed does look down on Christ, as someone in a permanent state of inflation (until perhaps when it's too late, and he says "Why hast thou forsaken me?), one way of losing one's reason.

But here I think his thought, at least explicitly, is that too great an influx of light, or for too long at a time, can destroy one's ability to reason, reducing one to the state of the madman (Le Mat) or someone whose capacity to reason was very limited in the first place (Le Fou). The analogy is to someone coming from the darkness of Plato's cave into the full light of the sun, but with more of a downside. Here is Plato (Cornford translation, Republic VII.515):
Quote:
And suppose someone were to drag him away forcibly up into the steep and rugged ascent and not let him go until he had hauled him out into the sunlight, would he not suffer pain and vexation at such treatment, and, when he had come out into the light, find his eyes so full of its radiance that he could not see a single one of the things that he was now told were real?
Levi, I think, is saying that the situation is worse than that. If someone in such a situation were to look directly at the sun for more than a moment, they might damage their retina and drastically reduce their power to see altogether, i.e. may have even more than a brief period of mindlessness and sink, partially or wholly, into oblivion (including states of some functionality but with fixed delusions, i.e. that they are God). Or he might see for a while and then become blind, perhaps temporarily, as in the case of going into sunlight amplified by snow, blindness, i.e. mindlessness, for a period of time, but if it isn't too long, followed by recovery and memory of what one saw. (The Myth of Er gives Plato's example of such a case, a near-death experience.) In that way, the state of the Madman could be a transition to the state of World-consciousness. Or it could be a fall into the abyss.

Perhaps Levi had heard the story of the four men who studied Kabbalah: one became a heretic, one committed suicide, one went mad, and the fourth was Rabbi Akibba.

Or perhaps he knew people who had experimented with hallucinogens.
Top   #36
venicebard's Avatar
venicebard  venicebard is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 31 Mar 2005
Location: California, USA
Posts: 935
venicebard 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
However, it also seems obvious that people who made toys with wheeled carts would have made wheeled carts for work and military purposes yet the ancient Egyptians never made that leap. Sometimes the obvious is overlooked.
But they used chariots in battle! If they didn't in the Old Kingdom, one might point out that in Tibet they use prayer wheels yet the only wheeled vehicle in the kingdom (before the Red Chinese destroyed their country) was, I believe, a chariot that took the Dalai Lama on his yearly pilgrimage somewhere (most roads being too precipitous to accommodate wheeled vehicles anyway). And often the obvious is overlooked only by the establishment, as for example the present, where every cosmology department in the world teaches obsolete gravitational theory of galaxy-and-star formation, but it does not mean there are not many who adhere to the EU (electric universe) theory that will eventually replace it.
Quote:
So, the question remains - who first associated the Trumps with the paths on the Tree of Life (and which version of the Tree?)?
As you ask the question, I would say the answer is: those who created the Tarot of Marseilles, since its design betrays intimate knowledge of Judaic Kabbalah even though the creators themselves were most likely bards of (Christian) Gnostic persuasion. But I guess you are asking the question of those who think the original had nothing to do with Kabbalah? This would mean, of course, that correlation between tarot and Kabbalah is purely arbitrary (and artificial).
Top   #37
Teheuti's Avatar
Teheuti  Teheuti is offline
Resident
 
Join Date: 24 Aug 2003
Location: Northern California
Posts: 5,539
Teheuti 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwaw View Post
I wonder if he is suggesting something along the lines of the poisonous atmosphere and conditions in which the alchemist works often leads to madness
I think he could be alluding to that as a metaphor, but his intent is more like what Mike has suggested - the higher alchemy of mind. The magician, by this point in his development, has reached a very exalted state, but this is where the real danger lies. It is a heady experience - as LÚvi says, it's God-like - to knowingly create reality through one's imagination. Afterall, what we call reality is just a dream (this is the realization that comes with the Star through Judgment). And the dream can be shaped by manipulating the astral forms and planetary magnetisms. But few can operate at this disembodied level without becoming overcome by those very forms, which LÚvi describes as 'contagious hallucinations' that affect not only the madman but those in sympathy around him. He proceeds to liken them to mediums like Dr. Homes.

Two pages later he says that prolonged excess [fanaticism] murders Liberty, the life of the soul.
Quote:
"Then, instead of being guided and preserved by reason, one is abandoned to the fatalities of the ebb and flow of magnetic light. . . . Thence comes that spirit of perversity . . . which [one] would be right to call the devil . . . the giddiness of the intelligence stupefied by the irresolution of the heart."

"It is a monomania of nothingness, the lure of the abyss."
LÚvi goes on to explain that this sense takes over "when humanity is in labor," in a "delirium of world-fever," when "faith is lost." But, we are told, there is a "guardian against all magic."

"This dogma, this key, this tradition is transcendental magic" where one finds "the absolute of knowledge" ["The Absolute" is his keyword for The World card], the "Eden of the intelligence."

Quote:
"To preserve one's reason in the midst of madmen, one's faith in the midst of superstitions, one's dignity in the midst of buffoons, and one's independence among the sheep of Panurge, is of all miracles the rarest, the finest, and the most difficult to accomplish."
It sounds like he is describing contemporary American politics - the Primaries - a perfect example of the madness where people are swayed by lies and illusions, by things they want to believe but aren't real. The most difficult accomplishment, the final stage, is to not be swayed by such things - to walk clear of the miasmas and into the Truth - to be aligned with The Absolute (Tav).

But, Mike, you summarized it best:
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeH View Post
Perhaps Levi had heard the story of the four men who studied Kabbalah: one became a heretic, one committed suicide, one went mad, and the fourth was Rabbi Akibba.
Perfect!
Top   #38
Teheuti's Avatar
Teheuti  Teheuti is offline
Resident
 
Join Date: 24 Aug 2003
Location: Northern California
Posts: 5,539
Teheuti 

Quote:
Originally Posted by venicebard View Post
But they used chariots in battle!
Check your history. That's how the Egyptians were defeated - because the Hyksos invaded with their chariots and easily overcame the Egyptians who didn't have them. Of course, the Egyptians quickly became adept at the new technology.

Wikipedia:
"The characteristics of ancient Egyptians are indicated by a set of artifacts and customs that lasted for thousands of years. The Egyptians invented and used many basic machines, such as the ramp and the lever, to aid construction processes. . . . The wheel, however, did not arrive until foreign invaders introduced the chariot in the 16th century BC."

Gunpowder was known for quite a while before someone thought to make it into a weapon.
Top   #39
Teheuti's Avatar
Teheuti  Teheuti is offline
Resident
 
Join Date: 24 Aug 2003
Location: Northern California
Posts: 5,539
Teheuti 

Re: Who first associated the Trumps with the Paths on the Tree?
Quote:
Originally Posted by venicebard View Post
As you ask the question, I would say the answer is: those who created the Tarot of Marseilles, since its design betrays intimate knowledge of Judaic Kabbalah even though the creators themselves were most likely bards of (Christian) Gnostic persuasion. But I guess you are asking the question of those who think the original had nothing to do with Kabbalah? This would mean, of course, that correlation between tarot and Kabbalah is purely arbitrary (and artificial).
As this is the historical research section, my question was asked from the perspective of historical evidence like first person accounts, documents, etc. I don't think there is any documentary evidence for such an early link. Personally, I consider the matter still open, but unlikely.

Let me make my question a little more clear: Who is the first person to write something connecting the the Trumps with the Paths on the Tree of Life. It seems, so far, that it is Eliphas LÚvi, although he doesn't describe a specific Tree or specific paths.
Top   #40
Elsewhere on the Tarot Forum
Popular Tarot Boards
· Using Tarot Cards
· Talking Tarot
· Tarot Spreads
· Tarot Decks
· Rider-Waite-Smith

Special Interest Boards
· Astrology
· Crystals & Herbs
· Divination
· Lenormand
· Spirituality

Popular Tarot Threads
· Pet Peeves
· Timing of cards
· Interesting tarot pairs
· The Moon as how someone feels
· The World as feelings

More Tarot Threads
· Cards for certain events
· Tarot meanings for health
· List of Tarot Questions
· Can Tarot be Dangerous?
· List of Tarot Myths



Elsewhere on Aeclectic Tarot
· Tarot Cards & Reviews
· Free Tarot Readings
· Tarot eBooks
· Tarot Card Meanings

Copyright © 1996 - 2021 Aeclectic Tarot. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy. Contact us. About us.