Why did Eliphas Lévi link Le Mat with Shin?


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



 
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
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).
I think the key is "should". Essentially what you are saying is: If a numbering system "x" obviously fits a set of cards "y," then x should be considered to equal y. That is, "If it is possible, then it must be true."

Historically speaking it's more appropriate to consider: "There's a potential for x to have been equated with y. Now let's see if there is any evidence that someone actually did equate the two and when. And, if not, then does the evidence discovered suggest any other possibilities?" Science and history are continually revising what is known based on new evidence (even if it may take a while to get the new paradigm into everyone's head).

You might want to start a new thread on the medieval Irish bardic Tarot. I have no idea what that is and would like to know, but this thread is not the place to discuss it.
Top   #71
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
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.
One of the doctrines he held to (and heretical in respect of Roman Catholic theology) was that he was a believer and advocate of universal salvation, (that would include the redemption of Satan himself). There was a developing theme among (English influenced) French romance poets of the 19th century in which the salvation of Satan was developed, one of the motifs of which was that his name would return to that of Lucifer upon redemption. It was a theme that was often concealed or referenced with care, as it was one that might get one imprisoned in France (especially in the first half of the 19th century).

Quote:
While Lévi may have been viewed from without as having heretical views, from his own point of view he was a staunch Christian.
Well, if not sarcasm then I find more than a touch of irony in the quote you gave; and from my admittedly brief revision of some of his writings remain inclined to agree more with Waite in respect of his opinion on Levi's 'defense of the faith' than Gilbert. Nonetheless, as I said in a previous post, there is little doubt about the passion of his religiosity, and its essential Christian nature - but the Catholic church to which he remained 'faithful' was one of his own ideation than that of actuality - and his aspirations and political motivations (such as landed him in prison on at least three occasions) were those of radical christian socialism.* It is to such internal conflicts no doubt that result in much of that which is contradictory in his works. (And we may imagine perhaps that three stints of imprisonment may have led him to be more circumspect in how he expressed his views in later years).

Kwaw

*In the epilogue of the Legends already quoted he writes:

We have entitled this work The Last Incarnation, because we herein seek to explain how the divine Word, after having been incarnated in a man who is the head and the model of humanity, must at last be incarnated in the whole of humanity by the communion of all to the intelligence of one same spirit, and to the fraternity of one same love.

May we have succeeded in our efforts to communicate our faith to those who doubt, and our hope to those who are discouraged! for, at this period, when all seems to be perishing, we have the certainty of being present at the revival of the world.

Already socialism is no longer a system : it is the universal religion of all active intelligences and of all young and living hearts.
Top   #72
Huck  Huck is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 02 Jul 2003
Location: Germany
Posts: 2,682
Huck 

Mary wrote ...
Quote:
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.
Well, the list, that you demand, is for the Tarot-gamers not of interest. For Eliphas Levi the list is important, cause he wishes to prove something with it, an original context between Kabbala and Tarot.

The gamers understand in their play, that the Fool is the second best card in the deck, some even come to the conclusion, that it is the best. But for this realization they don't need the list (they have the rules). They also realize, that the Magician is VERY important (also high points), but in the row of the trumps it is the lowest.
Those, who think, it is the best card, have in mind, that in usual Tarot rules you've to follow suit, and if you can trump, you MUST trump, and if a trump is played and you've higher trump cards, you MUST use one of them, also in cases, when you don't like it. Well, and these both MUSTs you might escape with the Fool at the best opportunity, for instance if you've a single Queen at your hand. Instead of giving it to the King you can protect it and mostly the Queen makes then a trick herself. Or you can prolong the number of your trumps, and that's often a deciding point. So it's a major stratagem in the game, when to play the Fool.
Well, these are problems, with which Eliphas Levi had nothing to do.

Here we have a fine new page of Yves les Marseilles ...
http://tarot-de-marseille-heritage.c...s_gallery.html
... and it offers a lot of Tarot-de-Marseilles decks.

Most of these decks have no number for the Fool, I detected only one "0". I don't know, which cards Eliphas Levi had seen, but perhaps he identified "no number". So he had a problem to manifest his row.
Tarot players can't have been VERY rare. If Eliphas Levi would have asked one of the players, he likely would have gotten the answer, that the Fool is an important card and high ranked.

What would Eliphas Levi thought, if he had lived in Sicily and the Tarocco Siciliano had two Fools instead of one?
... This also wasn't Levi's problem, he lived in France and his interpretation depended on his personal access of information. And this access was limited.
Top   #73
Teheuti's Avatar
Teheuti  Teheuti is offline
Resident
 
Join Date: 24 Aug 2003
Location: Northern California
Posts: 5,539
Teheuti 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Huck View Post
Well, the list, that you demand, is for the Tarot-gamers not of interest. For Eliphas Levi the list is important, cause he wishes to prove something with it, an original context between Kabbala and Tarot.
. . . [cut]
Tarot players can't have been VERY rare. If Eliphas Levi would have asked one of players, he likely would have gotten the answer, that the Fool is an important card and high ranked.

What would Eliphas Levi thought, if he had lived in Sicily and the Tarocco Siciliano had two Fools instead of one?
... This also wasn't Levi's problem, he lived in France and his interpretation depended on his personal access of information. And this access was limited.
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.

So, while I'll concede that Lévi may have made a connection if he played the game or talked to those who did, but it doesn't seem likely as no one else seems to have considered it. Furthrmore, the metaphysics of it all was really his primary concern. If it didn't fit metaphysically then it would not serve the purpose of all those books he wrote that uses his Tarot philosophy as their basis.

He couldn't put the Fool first because A=1. And he couldn't put it last because Tav is completion (and, given his diagrams, he wouldn't have passed up the visual clues on the World card). So he had to find another place for the Fool. Judgment is traditionally, in religious iconography, followed by a splitting into two possibilities that he characterized as Madness or Wholeness.
Top   #74
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
You might want to start a new thread on the medieval Irish bardic Tarot. I have no idea what that is and would like to know, but this thread is not the place to discuss it.
I wasn't discussing medieval Irish bardic tarot (I have discussed both it and Kabbalah at length in other forums here, albeit to little or no avail). On the contrary, I was remarking on the limitation placed on 'historical' threads here, and also explaining (in passing) what I meant by 'internal evidence' (since it was evidently misunderstood). But I'll say no more on the subject.
Top   #75
Huck  Huck is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 02 Jul 2003
Location: Germany
Posts: 2,682
Huck 

Quote:
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.

So, while I'll concede that Lévi may have made a connection if he played the game or talked to those who did, but it doesn't seem likely as no one else seems to have considered it. Furthrmore, the metaphysics of it all was really his primary concern. If it didn't fit metaphysically then it would not serve the purpose of all those books he wrote that uses his Tarot philosophy as their basis.

He couldn't put the Fool first because A=1. And he couldn't put it last because Tav is completion (and, given his diagrams, he wouldn't have passed up the visual clues on the World card). So he had to find another place for the Fool. Judgment is traditionally, in religious iconography, followed by a splitting into two possibilities that he characterized as Madness or Wholeness.
I talked about "practical play" and "good play" ... if a good player takes up his cards, he must analyze them for their value, cause in usual Tarot game he has to make a few decisions "before the game starts" (likely not in all Tarot game versions). In these calculations he must get an evaluation, if his cards are good or bad, cause this decides, if he bids or passes. If he doesn't do this, he's simply not a good player and likely doesn't know the game really. In this context he MUST know, that the Fool is a rather good card. If he doesn't know it ... then we have to assume, that he has just learned the game.

Yes, I agree that Eliphas Levi had a problem with the Fool, as he wished to have a row with 22 elements, as he was used to have, when he considered the Hebrew alphabet. But the Tarot row ... it counted only till 21.

Schin = fire = Fool isn't very elegant, perhaps we can agree on this.

Mem = Water = Moon = lunatic = foolish = Fool fits ...

Schin = Fire = Sun = Prometheus = clever = perhaps a lot of things, but not Fool.

Actually he had reason to be not satisfied with this solution.

But when he had asked a player, he could say, it's so, as it arrived to me. Then he had a position, which he could defend.

... :-) ... He wouldn't have been in the position of Aleister Crowley, who wanted to make He to Nr. 17. ... "and Tzaddi is not the star".

In the Poilly deck version 2 Momus got Nr. 29. "29" is a Moon-number ... and Momus was taken as lunatic.
Top   #76
Teheuti's Avatar
Teheuti  Teheuti is offline
Resident
 
Join Date: 24 Aug 2003
Location: Northern California
Posts: 5,539
Teheuti 

Venicebard - I found the overview of your theory - thank you.
http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Bardic_origin_of_Tarot
Top   #77
Teheuti's Avatar
Teheuti  Teheuti is offline
Resident
 
Join Date: 24 Aug 2003
Location: Northern California
Posts: 5,539
Teheuti 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Huck View Post
But when he had asked a player, he could say, it's so, as it arrived to me. Then he had a position, which he could defend.
However, from what I've read, Lévi makes no attempt to defend his position (except, perhaps for his discussion of Shin quoted earlier) rather he simply presents his position, nor does he anywhere talk about a game. There is no evidence that he played the game.

While Shin is, Kabbalistically speaking, Fire, for Lévi it is something much more - Astral Light - the most powerful force in the universe for both creative and destructive purposes. Really, Lévi himself is the best place to go to understand Lévi since he wrote so much about his philosophy of Tarot and the concepts behind it.

In Clefs Majeures:
LA LETTRE SCHIN
POINT DE NOMBRE
La fatalité. L'aveuglement. Le fou. La matière abandonnée à elle-même.

ADDED: No where is it called The Excuse.
Top   #78
Huck  Huck is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 02 Jul 2003
Location: Germany
Posts: 2,682
Huck 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
However, from what I've read, Lévi makes no attempt to defend his position (except, perhaps for his discussion of Shin quoted earlier) rather he simply presents his position, nor does he anywhere talk about a game. There is no evidence that he played the game.

While Shin is, Kabbalistically speaking, Fire, for Lévi it is something much more - Astral Light - the most powerful force in the universe for both creative and destructive purposes. Really, Lévi himself is the best place to go to understand Lévi since he wrote so much about his philosophy of Tarot and the concepts behind it.

In Clefs Majeures:
LA LETTRE SCHIN
POINT DE NOMBRE
La fatalité. L'aveuglement. Le fou. La matière abandonnée à elle-même.

ADDED: No where is it called The Excuse.
Alright. I take a look.

books.google.de/books?id=CwUOAAAAYAAJ
P. 216
There it is, what I found:



I see a "29" ... that was, what I was talking about ...



Momus with 29.

Levi took the 21 trumps for 1-21, then 7 planets for 22-28 (sorted according the days of the week with sun = Sunday = 28 and Saturn = Saturday = 22) and placed the fou at top of it at 29 ... at least in this chapter. Book 2, chapter XVII.

What passage do you have in mind?
Top   #79
Teheuti's Avatar
Teheuti  Teheuti is offline
Resident
 
Join Date: 24 Aug 2003
Location: Northern California
Posts: 5,539
Teheuti 

It's wonderful to have this original of Lévi's text; thanks for the link. The images are so clear. The description of the Fool says, "Day of abortion and failure in all things". And, yes, he's numbered 29, like your Momas card - which is suggestive that Lévi may have been familar with it.

However, your contention was that Momas was next-to-last, before the 30th card and therefore a justification for Lévi's placement of the Fool. Whereas, in Lévi's list 29 is the last number.

Also, this listing is a specialized one. It is not meant to represent the Tarot in its Kabbalistic form which is found in a later chapter that Waite entitled "The Book of Hermes". The 29 items are, in Waite's translation, "The special characters of all days of the moon, distinguished by the twenty-two Tarot Keys and by the signs of the seven planets." [The days of the moon are 28+ (sometimes called 28 days and one-out-of-time).]

Now here is what de Gébelin said about the card order, and he had played the game as a youth!

"As for this atout, we number it zero, though it is placed it in the
order of cards after the twenty-first, because it does not count when
it is alone, and possesses only the value that it gives to the
others, precisely like our zero: showing thus that nothing exists
without its folly."
Top   #80
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.