Why did Eliphas Lévi link Le Mat with Shin?


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Huck  Huck is offline
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Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
Huck, are you suggesting that we discount what Lévi actually said about both the cards and the Hebrew letters that he related to them? Is it your opinion that Lévi would have had no other purpose than their value in a Tarock game? Wouldn't he then have made some reference to the game?
hm ... I said, that he wasn't the first, who put the Fool at second place of the top. Somehow there was a tradition before ...
... and a not very mysterious tradition, just "from the game and its rules".

Somehow Eliphas Levi didn't make it. He also didn't invent the Hebrew alphabet.

I think, it's not known, who invented the points in the game. I think, that this is already from 15th century. I think, the points system existed already in the phase, when 5x14 decks were used.

I talked with Girolamo Zorli about the points-problem recently. Here ...
Tarotica thread
... at the 5th page. Somehow 69.5 points appear for 70 cards (as a possibility), and 78 points for 78 cards (as a proven fact in the "Tarotica" text).

Well, the "old rules" suggest, that the Fool is the second highest card (it might be, that different rules existed already in old times, and the defined function might have differed very often).
It didn't affect the numbers of the cards - in Italy (as far we know it). But somehow it jumped "high" as a numerological factor in the Minchiate Francesi version Nr. 2 ... in France, not in Italy, so possibly this was a French idea, perhaps cause rules in France made this more plausible than elsewhere.
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Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
Huck, are you suggesting that we discount what Lévi actually said about both the cards and the Hebrew letters that he related to them? Is it your opinion that Lévi would have had no other purpose than their value in a Tarock game? Wouldn't he then have made some reference to the game?
I think Huck is simply suggesting that Levi is simply post-hoc rationalizing a one to one sequential correspondence between two existing orders, that of the alphabet and that of a gaming tradition in which the fool is second to highest place by virtue of its value in the game.

I think JDM also has suggested a gaming tradition in the past, to do with the way gamesters generally hold the card of the fool in their hand?
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hm ... I said, that he wasn't the first, who put the Fool at second place of the top. Somehow there was a tradition before ...
... and a not very mysterious tradition, just "from the game and its rules".
Can you find the reference that lists the cards in this order!

Many rules include that extra points be awarded when the Magician wins the last round of the game. In that case the Magician can accrue far more points than any other card - but it is a long shot.

Perhaps, Lévi saw a list of the cards in this order and then came up with his own rationale as to why it would be so. Do we even know if he played the game? At the time of de Gébelin the game was almost unknown in Paris. Had it become popular again by the time of Lévi?
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Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
Can you find the reference that lists the cards in this order!
For the moment I can actually only point to a strange feature in the Poilly decks version 2.
Momus = 29, Fortuna = 30 ... as elsewhere described.

Quote:
Many rules include that extra points be awarded when the Magician wins the last round of the game. In that case the Magician can accrue far more points than any other card - but it is a long shot.
These sort of points are at another level, they are not in the same category.

Quote:
Perhaps, Lévi saw a list of the cards in this order and then came up with his own rationale as to why it would be so.
Yes, this might be a possibility. For the moment I don't know.

Quote:
Do we even know if he played the game?
I don't know. But the Tarot game is considered to be in the height of its popularity as a game.


Quote:
At the time of de Gébelin the game was almost unknown in Paris. Had it become popular again by the time of Lévi?
Dummett and Depaulis, McLeod etc. see a drop down of the general Tarot/Tarocchi enthusiasm in c. 1650/1660, interestingly in the time of Louis XIV, and before a Tarot enthusiasm in the phase since 1580 till 1640 (this seems natural, as there were dominant Italian Queens at the throne at France or they were of influence as King's mother).

After 1700 production numbers increased in France (Tarot de Marseille). Depaulis has very clearly shown, that Germany was reached 1745-1760. With the success in Germany the Tarot/Tarock/Tarocchi interests exploded and reached far regions in Europe.
Tarot interest likely had been strong generally in the Southeast of France, near to Switzerland, not so much in Paris. This seems to be a background for Gebelin, who didn't know it in Paris.

These opinions are formed by many researches about real productions. ... :-)... but this is NOT my personal research field, so I can't say too much about it.

There was an intensive Tart playing phase. On the other hand we've had recently an article about production numbers in Florence c. 1840. Minchiate production had about 1% of the market - then. So this might be all rather relative.
http://trionfi.com/playing-cards-florence-1840

Added: Perhaps one should consider, that for some time French soldiers of Napoleon went to many places in Europe. This is likely a playing card distribution factor.
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Pour les sages le ciel c'est la suprême raison et l enfer c'est la folie


Quote:
Originally Posted by venicebard View Post
Yes, and the 'historians' will never be able to solve that question . . .

;the fables of Homer remain truer than history, . . .
The key of the mysteries E. Levi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by venicebard View Post
I believe the strongest justification for a correlation that puts LeMat between XX and XXI (didn't someone state this already, based on the 20 + 2 thing?) is that on the Day of Judgment (trump XX) the choice for each soul is between New Jerusalem (trump XXI) and oblivion (LeMat).
Personally, I think that is a great justification! It makes sense. And perhaps even Eliphas Lévi would have agreed, at least in part, with you, although he focused on it differently in his own text.
quote:
"Do not say that civilization is bad; for it resembles the damp heat which ripens the harvest, it rapidly develops the principles of life and the principles of death, it kills and it vivifies.
It is like the angel of the judgement who seperates the wicked from the good.
Civilization transforms men of good will into angels of light, and lowers the selfish man beneath the brute; it is the corruption of bodies and the emancipation of souls. . .


and also :

Pour les sages le ciel c'est la suprême raison et l'enfer c'est la folie.*
To the wise heaven is supreme reason and hell is madness.

La science des esprit E. Levi


Quote:
Originally Posted by kwaw View Post
"This pantacle is composed of two triangles joined at the base, one white and one black. In the black point of the triangle lies a madman who twists his head and looks painfully with a grimace of terror in the dark triangle which reflects his own image; in the tip of the white triangle there is formed a man in the prime of life, dressed as a knight, with his eyes closedin a peaceful attitude of strong command. In the white triangle the characters of the divine tetragrammaton are drawn.

"One could explain this pantacle by the caption: "The wise man builds on the fear of the true God, the fool is overwhelmed by fear of a false god in his own image."


"The wise man builds on the fear of the true God, the fool is overwhelmed by fear of a false god in his own image" Levi says is the exoteric meaning of the emblem, but that it also contains the unspeakable formula of the Grand Arcanum.

The reflected image the fool froms that of the devil - shin, according to Levi, is the torch between the devil's horns (Wirth possibly has also emphasised the 'shin' shape of the fool's hat?).

(Image is by Oswald Wirth).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
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 Lévi 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 Lévi describes as 'contagious hallucinations' that affect not only the madman but those in sympathy around him.
quote:

En 1839, l'auteur de ce livre reçut un matin la visite d'Alphonse Esquiros.
-Venez-vous avec moi, voir le mapah, lui dit ce dernier.
-Qu'est-ce que c'est que le mapah ?
-C'est un dieu.
-Merci, alors je n'aime que les dieux invisibles.
-Venez-donc, c'est le fou le plus éloquent, le plus radieux et le plus superbe qu'on ait jamais vu.
-Mon ami, j'ai peur des fous, la folie est contagieuse.

In 1839, the author of this book received a morning visit from Alphonse Esquiros.
"Come with me and see the Mapah", he said.
"What or who is the Mapah?
"He is a god."
"Thanks, but I prefer invisible gods."
"Still come, he is the most eloquent, the most radiant and most superb madman ever seen."
"My friend, I fear the mad, madness is contagious."

The history of magic E. Levi

Kwaw

*On comprend que nous employons ici le mot ciel dans le sens mystique qu on lui donne en l'opposant au mot enfer. (One understands that we employ here the word heaven in the mystical sense that gives the opposing the word hell.)
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Reading this thread, I am asking myself the following question: if Levi was an occultist why should him associate Shin with the Fool, placing him between Judgement and World, for reasons other than those of an occult, magic or initiatory character? Maybe there is no historical explanation at all!
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Originally Posted by kwaw View Post
... if we insert the 'hieroglyph of the fool' the hebrew letter shin into those of the 'true God', we get YHShVH - which is represented as referring to Jesus among Christian cabbalists - God made flesh in man's own image.

"Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life."

21. Shin. The sensory, flesh. blindness, matter left to itself, eternal life.
Hieroglyph, The Fool.

At the end of legend eight in Levi's The last incarnation: Gospel Legends of the XIXth century (1848) a woman is incarcerated in a house for the insane by her husband after appearing before judges and relating her encounter with Christ:

quote
Then the physicians and the judges decided that she had lost her reason, and she was shut up in a hospital for the insane. There she consoled herself by thinking that she should not be a mother, and that she should bring no daughters into the world: she was buried alive in that terrible tomb and of all that had belonged to her, she asked only for her mother's crucifix.
end quote

In the next legend Christ visits a house of the insane in search of wisdom and speaks to one madman who imagines himself a king, another God, one who wishes to achieve for Man what God has not done (happiness) and one who is chained and who, weeping in indignation says:

quote
“They have disposed of me and I did not belong to them: I have labored and they have consumed the fruits of my labor; they have eaten my flesh and my blood. The earth belongs to God, who loans it to all his children, and they say: ‘The earth belongs to us!’ And because those brigands are the strongest, they make the children of God die of hunger! The robbers possess the world; and of their robbery they have made the basis of their laws and their morality. Oh! if the poor should one day be tired of suffering and should unite for vengeance!”
end quote

Following his speech the keepers gag him, and Jesus says to the keeper:

quote
"It is by embittering this man with cruel treatment that you make him furious. Be more humane towards him, and his poor heart will be pacified; for I tell you in truth that his madness is only the love of justice carried to extreme and the more he is tormented the more dangerous and incurable will his malady become.

"Only pray to God that it may not be contagious, and may not spread among the people, for then there would be a horrible convulsion, like that of the last judgment, and heaven and earth would be shaken by it."
end quote

In the same legend Christ himself is a called 'a crazy man' :

quote
As Jesus spoke thus, the master of the house sent for his servants to drive him out; "for", said he, "a crazy man has entered our saloon, and his craziness being very sad, he must be led away and placed in the hands of the police in order that he may be confined in a house of the insane." But Jesus understanding their thought, said to them: "You send me to the house of the insane, and I leave you in your own house."
end quote

In legend fifteen, the Legend of the dying poet, Christ appears to the 'crazy' poet in a white robe, 'an emblem of madness.'

(I vaguely recall too Levi saying something along the lines that the 'great secret' is a simple one, but one we do not want to hear: that we are all fools.)

Kwaw

Ref:
The last incarnation: Gospel Legends of the XIXth century(1848)

La dernière incarnation: légendes évangéliques du XIX. siècle
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Originally Posted by Luminosa View Post
Reading this thread, I am asking myself the following question: if Levi was an occultist why should him associate Shin with the Fool, placing him between Judgement and World, for reasons other than those of an occult, magic or initiatory character? Maybe there is no historical explanation at all!
hm ... Levi, Magician or humble prisoner of the world, had a past with father and mother and a lot of other ancestors all connected by a history called TIME, which is something like "moving through SPACE".
Either there was a row with ... Angel - Fool - World ... inside the Tarot card sequence "before" Levi's moment in 1856 or it was not.
If it was, then he invented nothing, and if it was not, he might be called the inventor of this specific row detail.

As I already stated, Levi is also not under suspicion to have invented the Hebrew alphabet. Also he's not known as inventor of Tarot. Why it's necessary that he changed the Tarot row? He's known to have set up a relation between Object A (Tarot card row) and Object B (Hebrew alphabet) in a specific manner. The Golden Dawn later made another specific relation. And before Levi and Golden Dawn might have been others, who also had ideas about a relation between both objects, for instance Pico de Mirandola and Matteo Maria Boiardo.
Mankind usually counted 1-2-3-4 ... etc, but occasionally they counted also A-B-C-D ... etc. ... a correlation between both rows (and a diversity of connected objects like Tarot card rows or other symbolic systems) is a not very complex mental operation, it's just very, very trivial.

That, what made Levi's idea GREAT (in the eyes of some persons) and gave it some consequences through followers, was just the fact, that Eliphas Levi thought to have detected an OLDER REALITY of some importance. Once upon a time somebody had made this (Gebelin thought of old Egyptians), and nobody knew about it in 1856 or understood something of it.

Such GREAT DETECTIONS function only within history and not without it ...

You said:
Quote:
Maybe there is no historical explanation at all!
It's really difficult to escape the common logic of "before - momentary - later" or "I was - I am - I will be".
Human terminology knows ideas like Nirwana, bhavango-sota and Dharmakaya, likely there are also some Western equivalents like Sein und Nicht-Sein.

Tarot card evidence of 15th/16th century has proven, that there was not only one Tarot sequence, but many others. Each of these Tarot rows has its story (or opinion) and the used motifs know a lot of changes.
If Eliphas Levi had known this very complex development in full detail, he likely would have gained insight in the relativity of his attempt to explain something.
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Science (including History) looks to an examination of facts (hard evidence), while Religion and, to some extent, Philosophy, look to analogy and revelatory experience.
This is why I have little use for religion and even less for philosophy!
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Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
. . . the Historical section on Aeclectic reserves the right to examine and compare hard evidence. All the other sections, as far as I know, are open to personal theories and opinions.
You see, that's what puzzles me: internal evidence (TdM's actual structure) is hard evidence; and frankly, when a numbering system has as straightforward an application to trumps as the medieval Irish bardic numbering of letters does, the obvious fit, it seems to me, should itself be so considered, but here it is not. Which is okay of course, but this does inherently limit what the 'historical' threads here can ever resolve (since documentary evidence of early tarot is almost nonexistent). But believe me, I do appreciate care being taken to avoid science drifting into mysticism (I only wish cosmologists and quark theorists took such care, for both have drifted irretrievably into mysticism, that is, away from empiricism, just as psychiatry has abandoned the empirical science of psychotherapy for the mystical swamp of prescription drugs).
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Originally Posted by kwaw View Post
quoting Lévi:
"It is by embittering this man with cruel treatment that you make him furious. Be more humane towards him, and his poor heart will be pacified; for I tell you in truth that his madness is only the love of justice carried to extreme and the more he is tormented the more dangerous and incurable will his malady become.

"Only pray to God that it may not be contagious, and may not spread among the people, for then there would be a horrible convulsion, like that of the last judgment, and heaven and earth would be shaken by it."
end quote
Kwaw - Great find — all the material you quoted, not just the above. I wouldn't put it past Lévi to see this image from both points of view simultaneously. At one level it is Error, while at another level it is Divine Madness. After all, Shin refers to the Astral Light, which at its most brutish leads to madness, but when perceived in its true glory, reveals The Absolute-The World, which to the uninitiated looks like madness. Lévi also identifies The Devil card with the Astral Light, in acknowledgement of which, Mme. Blavatsky called the Theosophical Journal, Lucifer.

from Transcendental Magic, p. 12:
Quote:
There exists in Nature a force which is immeasurably more powerful than steam, and a single man, who is able to adapt and direct it, might change thereby the face of the whole world. This force was known to the ancients; it consists in a Universal Agent having equilibrium for its supreme law, while its direction is concerned immediately with the Great Arcanum of Transcendental Magic. . . . This agent . . . is precisely that which the adepts f the Middle Ages denominated the First Matter of the Great Work. The Gnostics represented it as the fiery body of the Holy Spirit [Shin]; it was the object of adoration in the Secret Rites of the Sabbath and the Temple, under the hieroglyphic figure of Baphomet or the Androgyne of Mendes.
As to Eliphas Lévi only following the lead of game-players - absurd! That's not to say that he might not have noticed that the Fool and the World were the two top scoring cards—perhaps he did—although I'd like to see an earlier list of cards in this same order! But, the tarot is the centerpiece of Lévi's whole magicial philosophy. All of his works are structured around this order. And the Astral Light (also called Universal Agent), which he sees in the flames of Shin, is the ultimate power of the Universe, the equivalent of The Force in Star Wars.

There's another manuscript of Lévi's that was going the rounds and ended up translated by Westcott, The Ritual of the Sanctum Regnum. Here's how Lévi talked about the Fool in this work:

Quote:
XXI - THE UNWISE MAN•••LE MAT

Do not ally yourself either in affection or interest with any one who is not an earnest student of the higher life, unless you can completely dominate him, and even then be sure that you either recompense or chastise him according to his deserts; for the profane person hears many truths, but understands none; his ears are large but have no discretion. The profane passes his life in giddy risks, deluded with vain desires, listening to imaginary promptings, and with his eyes fixed on fancied sights. You may think he is pleased with your aims, but the truth is that he is absorbed by his own follies; the profane has no appreciation of the truth, and feels no real affection. The profane is imprudent and shameless; he discloses things which should be kept concealed, and attracts to himself brute forces which may devour him. That which he most neglects is himself; he wears his vices as a blazon, but they are an ever•present burden to him, yet he does not recognise that they are a constant source of weakness. Make it a definite rule of life always to avoid:••••

1. Such as are ever judging and condemning their parents, who despise their fathers and have no true affection for their mothers. 2. All men who show no courage, and all women who have not modesty. 3. Those who do not maintain their friendships. 4. Those who ask for advice, and then do not take it. 5. Those who are never in the wrong. 6. Those who are always seeking the impossible, and who are obstinately unjust to others. 7. Those who, when danger is present, seek only their own safety. All such persons are neither worthy of your confidence nor of your love. Fear contamination from them; avoid then. Yet even as you yourself must also avoid the follies of life, be careful not to put yourself in an attitude of superiority to the conditions of existence merely from a false pride, and never stoop to debase yourself to the level of the brute creation; rise above the common ways of life, and never become the slave of custom and conventionality. 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.
Westcott notes the confusion of its being numbered XXI, since everywhere else, Lévi refers to the World as 21 and the Fool (in the 21st position) as 0.

Regarding Lévi the Christian(?) — he concludes this work with the following:
Quote:
Glory be to the Christ, who has brought to their completion the symbols of the Ancient Mysteries, and who has prepared the reign of knowledge by faith. Will you now be greater than all Magi? Hide away your science in the recesses of your mind. Become a Christian, simple and docile; be a faithful servant of the Church, believe, mortify yourself, and obey.
While Lévi may have been viewed from without as having heretical views, from his own point of view he was a staunch Christian.

ADDED: Lévi's description of Le Mat above sounds exactly like what I've been reading about the narcissitic sociopath (antisocial personality disorder), which totally fits with Lévi's ideal being radical christian socialism.
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