A Martinist or Masonic connection? from when?


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A Martinist or Masonic connection? from when?


Having just read Christine Payne-Towler's latest issue of her ArkLetter (19), I am, as with her other writings in general, impressed and in agreement with much that she presents.

I agree with that tarot has come to be part of the occidental esoteric corpus. Where I do not agree, however, is in the implied inclusion of tarot within the Martinist 'programme' in its early days. I am of course willing to stand corrected, but the writings of early Martinists seem to be oriented in ways that are, in the first place, very Christian (which of course does not exclude tarot) and quite 'Hebraïc' or Kabalistic; and in the second magico-hermetic-masonic - for want of a better term.

In fact, quite the opposite to an inclusion of tarot appears to be the case.

One can also of course see that at least since the writings of those early French authors (also each in Freemasonry) prior to Eliphas Levi - ie, Comte de Mellet, Court de Gebelin and Alliette (Etteilla), tarot was going to be seriously considered and further 'researched' or at least in various manner exegeted within Masonic and quasi-masonic lodges. It is only a further fifty years before Eliphas Levi brings to light more explicit Hebrew-Atouts correspondences.

I would suggest that it is highly likely that private discussions, notes and reflections were made amongst, for example, the Philalethic Lyon Lodge in the early 1800s, and that it is from such that both the later Levi considerations and the future Papus-oriented Martinists are likely to ultimately derive their source. To discuss St Martin in this context is to say, in many ways, no more that he too was part of that same masonic milieu in which he was exposed to the various considerations on tarot following the publication of De Mellet's and De Gebelin's essays.

In terms of evidence, however, I have absolutely none - other than to re-iterate the words of the C. de M.; mentioning that he, as others, were masons interested in a variety of symbolic exegesis that at least since the publication of Le Monde Primitif included Tarot; and that Levi's Masonic crossweavings were likewise going to reflect this interest and this more 'recent' inclusion.

This is distinct, of course, to the possibility that something like the Marseille is itself what Mark Filipas has called an 'Alphabetic Masquerade'. Even if the case, however, I would suggest that this was already 'lost', forgotten, or never transmitted by the time of the late 1700s (De Gebelin) and the early 1800s.

So what is the 'concern' I have with Christine's presentation? On the one hand, I am in total agreement that anyone involved in Freemasonry in Lyons or Paris (or other places, but let's leave it there for the moment) following the publication of vol. VIII of Le Monde Primitif was very likely going to not only be exposed to Tarot, but also involved in determining or exegeting its supposed allegories and symbolism; on the other, this is quite different to suggesting that tarot's esoteric inclusion within Martinist circles somehow predates the early writings from those within masonic circles upon which the inclusion of Tarot within the occidental esoteric corpus is based. And for this, I refer to, exclusively, Le Monde Primitif.
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Hi JMD,
Christine writes:
"The Martinist Order introduces itself as the continuation of the work of Jacob Boehme (1573-1624) and the Illuminist Movement."
Abraham von Franckenberg was Boehme's biographer, confidant and disciple-of-sorts, proto-Rosicrucian and Freemason and apparently leader of another small esoteric brotherhood that nothing is recorded about except its existance.
Franckenberg made a comparison of Valentinian gnosticism and Paracelsian philosophy, was friends with Menasseh Ben Israel, "a profound student of Cabala..."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menasseh_Ben_Israel
-and of course von Franckenberg was the origin of the notorious TARO/ROTA emblem illustrating Guillaume Postel's centennial edition of the Clavis absconditorum, 1646.

-John
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One can also say the Freemasonry in general is a continuation of Colleges from Roman times, and that these are themselves a continuation of some philosophical mystery schools from Ancient Greece, and that these have connections and continuation-lines with ancient Egypt.

This provides some lines of influence and cross-currents within various mystery initiatic orders.

The point questioned here is not in the least the Jacob Boehme, or Pico Mirandola, or Reuchlin, or Michelspacher, or Agrippa's connection to Masonic or Martinist development nor interest and incorporation of Kabalah (or the manner in which most of these would have spelled it: 'Cabala').

It is rather the simpler point that there is an implication of connection between Tarot and the Martinist movement. What I suggest above is that this 'connection' is none other than the non-martinist inclusion within Masonic (in its broader sense) community following the publication of Le Monde Primitif - something that also, incidentally, suggests that even if earlier alphabetic connections were introduced in deck designs, these had already been 'lost' by the late 1700s at the time of de Gebelin's writings.
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Just to complete the wonderful reference that John Meador brings, here is an earlier thread with some of the important considerations (I had nearly forgotten about it!):
Guillaume Postel, the Clavis and ROTA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmd
What I suggest above is that this 'connection' is none other than the non-martinist inclusion within Masonic (in its broader sense) community following the publication of Le Monde Primitif - .
Unless I am remembering or have read it wrong, in Decker, Dummet, et als presentation of Monde Primitif and the Gebelin, Mellet essays in A Wicked Pack of Cards they seem to conclude, or least suggest the possibility, that it is otherwise; that these considerations of the Tarot were already existent within a milieu that they [or at least Gebelin] were familiar with. The most likely milieu is that of the Freemasons or similar body.

Kwaw
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwaw
Unless I am remembering or have read it wrong, in Decker, Dummet, et als presentation of Monde Primitif and the Gebelin, Mellet essays in A Wicked Pack of Cards they seem to conclude, or least suggest the possibility, that it is otherwise; that these considerations of the Tarot were already existent within a milieu that they [or at least Gebelin] were familiar with. The most likely milieu is that of the Freemasons or similar body.
Yes, they mention it on p. 67 of that book. It seems to be the most plausible argument.

But, *how* developed was the doctrine of the Egyptian origin of tarot in the Illuminist circles in the decades before Court de Gébelin and the Comte de Mellet wrote about it?

I don't think Court de Gébelin was forgetting or lying when he wrote that he was the first to discover the ancient Egyptian book in the tarot pack. I think that he must have discussed with others the traces of the ancient doctrine everywhere. His entire work "Le Monde Primitif" is dedicated to discovering the "Perennial Philosophy" in all times and places, in all languages and cultures. Perhaps he and fellow initiates challenged one another to find it in antique and medieval remains, in architecture and art, in words and images. Deciphering it, like an alchemical book.

The belief that ordinary playing cards propagated this doctrine, that that court cards were pagan gods in disguise, was well-known and had been around for a long time. It was only a matter of time before the images of the tarot trumps would be interpreted this way.
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When I look at the writings of De Gebelin and C. de Mellet, it seems that the former was not aware of such in Masonic or equivalent circles - except perhaps as he brought it to attention following his own discovery.

This appears to be different for C. de Mellet, and here he may have had occasion to discuss its merits when militarily posted or based in the region of Montauban (not far from Toulouse). This, however, is likely to have been around the same period, and unlikely to have arisen out of Illuminist more northerly tradition(s).

Once 'incorporated' in the esoteric reflective tradition, I can also see how, for example, the clavis (key) illuminating Guillaume Postel's book would also have been discovered to include this important word - a word that may only have been intended to be read as 'ROTA' at the time of design.

I suppose I would like to see evidence or high likelihood of pre de Gebelin Masonic (or similar) likely incorporation of Tarot considerations, but at this stage, find it singularly lacking.

Even the two essays in Le Monde Primitif suggests not a long tradition, but rather reports on personal and tentative finds, perhaps at most discussed with Masonic peers.
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Getting back to Jmd's original inquiry re "Martinism", I'd like to point to this previous thread for those interested:
http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=44521

"...the Freemason, an intelligent and virtuous man, has lost the tradition..."
-Papus: Le Tarot des bohémiens: le plus ancien livre du monde

It is not at all difficult to imagine an esoteric system situated from Franckenberg's Breslau becoming dissipated as he fled persecution. Tradition has asserted that in his later years Angelus Silesius burned all the books bequeathed to him by Abraham von Franckenberg on his deathbed.

Here's a few things re Freemasonry:

The Earl of Oxford to the Reader of Bedingfield's Cardanus's Comfort.
in Oxford's poem Labour and its Reward, included in Thomas Bedingfield's "Englishing" of Cardanus Comforte (1573, '76):
..."The mason poor that builds the lordly halls,
Dwells not in them; they are for high degree;
His cottage is compact in paper walls,
And not with brick or stone, as others be."
<<Bedingfield, Thomas. tr.(1573) of Girolamo Cardano, De Consolatione,1542.
Hamlet's book. Dedicated to Oxford, with long introductory letter and poem by the Earl. [Hamlet; others]>>
http://www.shakespeare-oxford.com/poemslny.htm

"It is more fitting for the wise man to play at cards than at dice, and at triumphus rather than other games for this is a sort of midway game played with open cards, very similar to the game of Chess." Cardano also recorded that Tarocchi was one of a number of games he had played.

"The Mason Word referred to the capacity of masons to secretly communicate with fellows over a long distance and to recognize "invisible" fellows in a crowd. Rooted in Jewish traditions of the unspeakable Tetragrammaton, the Mason Word combined practical identification purposes with Cabalistic number-letter mysticism. When Cardano practised the Art of Memory, he concentrated on the numerical-linguistic and architectural images advocated by the Cabalists and Lullists. By methodically intensifying these mental gymnastics and visualizations, he would achieve an "intuitive flash" that made the proper connections and analogies of all elements- natural and supernatural-vividly clear. From this insight, he could sometimes predict future events."
-Marsha Schuchard: Restoring the Temple of Vision, 2002.

"Knoop argues that the Mason Word originally drew on Jewish traditions of the tetragrammaton, the ineffable name of God, which was never to be spoken and which the masons expressed by a manual or bodily sign.<<D. Knoop and G. Jones, Scottish Mason, 100>> Swift would later hint that the "Master Secret" of the Masons' "Great Word" involved postures and grips imitating certain Hebrew letters.<<Jonathan Swift, Prose, V, 325-26>> The masons' claim to "second sight" was probably rooted in Cabalistic visualization techniques that were transmitted from the East and southern Europe. Moreover, this "Lullist" art was taught to some Hospitallers." -ibid

"Is it possible that confused or incorrect Hebrew letters in diagrams and documents resulted in the variety of Compound Words? Was the "Word" based upon Hermetic designs such as those in Smith's Use and Abuse of Freemasonry, von Welling's Opus, and their antecedent, the Amphithaetrum Sapietiae AEternae? If we consider the origins of the word Jehovah we may find a parallel in the Compound Word. The word was formed circa 1500 C.E. by combining the consonants of the Tetragrammaton, JHVH or YHWH (yod,he,vav,he) with the vowels of the word adonai, my Lord (yod,nun,daleth,aleph) hence, JaHoVaH. Perhaps by some similar method the variants Jah-Bu-Lum, Iao-Bul-On, Jah- Bel-On, and so on, were obtained from combinations of the letters ABL, IBL, IMB, and JBM, supplemented with vowels. Clearly, with a combination of these letters, only minor syllabic shifts are necessary for the construction of such "words." The accidental substitution of ABL in Smith's Use and Abuse of Free-Masonry (figure 13-4) for the ABN (stone) in von Welling's Opus (figure 13-5) lends itself to such a suggestion ...Once the origin of the letters in the corner of the triangle were forgotten, enterprising ritualists may have attempted to "restore" or explain their significance with fanciful interpretations. Did the ritualistic citation of John 1:1, long connected with the stone, hint at the solution all along? If so, the Compound Word concealed the Mystery of the Trinity, and quite literally, for the Masons who introduced this cryptogram, The Word Was God." "
-Arturo de Hoyos: The Mystery of the Royal Arch Word, in: Freemasonry in Context, edited by Arturo de Hoyos and S. Brent Morris, 2004.

"The Tetragrammaton, or four-lettered Name of God, is here arranged as a tetractys within the inverted human heart. Beneath, the name Jehovah is shown transformed into Jehoshua by the interpolation of the radiant Hebrew letter, Shin. The drawing as a whole represents the throne of God and His hierarchies within the heart of man. In the first book of his Libri Apologetici, Jakob Böhme thus describes the meaning of the symbol: "For we men have one book in common which points to God. Each has it within himself, which is the priceless Name of God." http://www.prs.org/gallery-kabblh.htm

By arranging the four letters of the Great Name, (I H V H), in the form of the Pythagorean Tetractys, the 72 powers of the Great Name of God are manifested.

-John
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmd
In terms of evidence, however, I have absolutely none - other than to re-iterate the words of the C. de M.; mentioning that he, as others, were masons interested in a variety of symbolic exegesis that at least since the publication of Le Monde Primitif included Tarot; and that Levi's Masonic crossweavings were likewise going to reflect this interest and this more 'recent' inclusion.
How does this work here?

*

Exegesis (wikipedia)

The word exegesis can mean explanation, but as a technical term it means "to draw the meaning out of" a given text. Exegesis may be contrasted with eisegesis, which means to read one's own interpretation into a given text. In general, exegesis presumes an attempt to view the text objectively, while eisegesis implies more subjectivity. The plural of the word exegesis is exegeses.

Exegesis involves an extensive and critical interpretation of a text, especially of a holy scripture, such as of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, the Talmud, the Midrash, the Qur'an, etc.

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