Etteilla Timeline and Etteilla card Variants - background


Simon Blocquel in Lille published Etteilla decks and so did his son in,law Delarue. Blocquel is said to be a mason.

Were Delarue and subsequent publishers of French Etteilla decks , including Grimaud,masons?

I have known and know loads of masons (who doesn't?), and wiccans, and members of various OTO and GD offshoots (some have even shown me their ritual equipment)- but I am not a member of any of their organisations.* I was a member of the Antidiluvian Order of Buffaloes for a few years ( a sort of poor man's masons - a lot of ex-servicemen in it, and from my level in it purely a fraternal, charity fund raising organisation - was disappointed a little that I never got to go bowling with Fred Flintstone before I left . . .)


*Who'd have me;)


Thank you Mary, the reference was Josephine reading tarot in prison

Page 39 of Josephine & Napoleon by Margaret Irene Laing. The situation described was Josephine, as the divorced wife of her first husband, was still a suspect of politics as many gentry were...and the circumstance was she believed she would not die as the others, as she had tried doing tarot readings about her fate and she didn't seek pregnancy in order to be temporarily released from prison to put her affairs in order. The reference mentioned that a servant in Martinique predicted Josephine would be destined to rise high and so Josephine had faith in her tarot cards and optimistic about her fate. It could be one of those doubtful accounts.

It is probably an OT oddity and a fable...I don't think Etteilla tarot ever was ever linked to Josephine in any gossip--it's always a sibyl reading for Napoleon or Josephine when they were in their shining days.

Thank you guys for touching on these odd topics--I was also running across other mentions of Josephine, later, as Empress and also a member of a masonic style lodge, St Caroline Lodge.

One book of Freemasonry has all the Napoleonic era 19th century tidbits that seem tarotlike - as the image of the woman who has the J and B pillars on either side of her and a book at her feet. It's not direct Etteilla imagery, it's only 'the time of Etteilla tarot' style imagery---I will keep looking. Thanks again!




Thanks for the John Meador links, Christine. They are quite interesting. I'm studyin them. About Postel, one question I have is how disseminated his works were. I read one place that his translation of the Zohar was never published.

I don't understand at all the link which you folks attribute to "Michael", the one about ROTA and Levi. I certainly don't understand the relevance to Etteilla. But Postel is different. I don't know about Frankenberg.

Thank you very much for typing out all that French, Cerulean. Some of what the author says is de Gebelin, but some of it isn't, namely the part about the number 7. That's Pythagorean, as you say; I'm not sure if it's in Etteilla or not; perhaps. In any case, it was common parlance. I'll do some checking.

An unfinished piece for me on Etteilla is his influence on Le Normand. I have been re-reading Wicked Pack's chapter on her and trying to piece together something. Also, I have been trying to verify their conclusions and finding that they don't hold up. That's happened before.

Wicked Pack says that Le Normand didn't mention tarot in her books at all until 1817. I don't question that. I haven't read all her books before then. But they go on to say she used an ordinary 32 card Piquet deck without Etteilla's interpretations. This part I question. Here is Wicked Pack:
...She clearly always uses a piquet pack, i.e. a 32-card pack.. She cuts three times and deals the cards in eight piles. She then draws them and proceeds to read. Although she enumerates the cards she draws in her story, she does not trouble to give the meanings! (footnote 44)

Some lines further she at least offers some explanations: 'the King of Spades, together with the 8 of Diamonds, means that a skilful man has made trials to stop, if it is possible, the progression of illness... Fortunately the 9 of Hearts, which is coming on top, announces to me that you will quickly see the end of your cruel anxieties" (pp. 151-2). As one can see, her system seems very simple, without any planned theories. In any case it has nothing to do with Etteilla's system of meanings."
This last statement deserves to be challenged. My "Petit Etteilla" facsimile pack has "Chagrin" for the Reversed meaning of the 8 of Diamonds, easily interpreted as illness. The 9 of Hearts has "Victoire", certainly predicting the end of one's anxieties. And the King of Spades is "Homme de Robe", and under it "science," hence "man of science." Eteilla's 1773 book confirms these readings (although instead of "science" it has "non ces gens a intrigues du Palais qui n'ont aucune qualite"--in other words, only those who are men of quality, not the ones who engage in Palace intrigues). For the three cards, see pp. 10-12 at books?id=CI85AAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=etteilla&hl=en&ei=SigiTOf5D9SssAbxrv3lBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CE8Q6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

To know more about whether she used a Petit Etteilla before 1817, we'd have to look at other examples of card interpretation in her works, something I haven't done.. But Wicked Pack's dismissal of Etteilla influence is clearly unjustified.

Wicked Pack objects that she never mentions Etteilla once in her books. Well, she may not have known she was using Etteilla's system. The interpretations are on the cards. Or it could be that Etteilla had simply been reporting standard interpretations. Or, most likely, that many card producers by her time were copying Etteilla.

Then there is then the question of the Grand Etteilla. Wicked Pack (p. 138) quotes an an 1813 work by a Victor-Etienne Jouey, describing her methods
"past present and future will be exposed together under your eyes thanks to a simple pack of cards. However, it must be said that these cards are much larger than the others, patterned with heiroglyphs ['tarotee en forme d'hieroglyphes']. The enchantress shuffles them, meditating in a very edifying way, and matches them according to the skilful combinations of the Etteilla."
(footnote 74).
Well, these could fit a Grand Etteilla--or an ordinary Tarot de Marseille.

Another account is by a German, Karl August von Malchus, in memoirs published in 1895. He was an economist and no believer in fortune-telling. Nonetheless she consulted Le Normand between 1810 and 1814. According to him, she used German "tarokkarten",i.e. with German suit signs; "whistkarten", meaning regular decks with French suit signs; "Karten mit Himmelskorpern", i.e. cards with designs of celestial bodies]; Karten mit nekromantischen Figuren, cards with necromantic figures; etc. Then she would take cards from all the decks to do the reading.

So it appears that she did use tarot cards at least in the period 1810-1814. As for Etteilla's influence, Wicked Pack says that
many types of fortune-telling cards were being produced from the beginning of the XIX century. Most of these bore allegories borrowed from Grand Etteilla. A pack called 'Petitit Necromancien' had been produced by Robert around 1810. ([footnote] 76)
So probably Le Normand was influenced by Etteilla without knowing it.

In her books, according to Wicked Pack, she doesn't mention tarot per se until the same 1817 book in which she appears to use the Petit Etteille:
A great revelation awaits us on p. 159: the use of Tarot cards --actually spelled tharots--is at last mentioned by Mlle Le Normand. As usual, she remains very vague: three typical cards only are named. 'The Fol which I am discarding from youir hand means that your projects are intolerable', she says (p. 159), then, 'But I see the Devil in company with Death' (p. 160). No meaning is given, but since the consultant angrily banged on her desk and knocked over her '78 tharot cards', we may suppose it was no good news. The names of the Tarot cards mentioned by Mlle Le Normand cannot hve been found in a Grand Etteilla I, where these cards are called, respectively, Folie, Force majeure, and Mortalite. Fol, Diable and Mort are actually classical names in the Tarot de Marseille.
Then in an 1818 book, although having a chapter heading about "Tharot" she says nothing about them except that they are 'emblematic and hieroglyphic figures' (Wicked Pack p. 126) In an 1822 book she also mentions the "Tharots" but her answer deals with palmistry (p. 128).

I tentatively conclude that it is likely that by 1817 Le Normand was using a 33 card Petit Etteilla, and in addition regular packs, either of 32 cards or 52. More research is needed on this point. And she also a tarot pack fitting the description of the Tarot de Marseille, as well as other decks at least strongly influenced by Etteilla's Grand Etteilla.

Two years after Le Normand's death, a deck was published called the "Grand jeu de Mlle Lenormand". What is the relation of that deck to Le Normand and Etteilla? Well, that's another issue. Wicked Pack says, not much. Well, I'll have to take a closer look when I get a chance.

Ross G Caldwell

I don't understand at all the link which you folks attribute to "Michael", the one about ROTA and Levi. I certainly don't understand the relevance to Etteilla. But Postel is different. I don't know about Frankenberg.

The page was written by Michael Hurst, I think about six or seven years ago.

Strange he didn't sign it or "(copyright) Michael Hurst (date)" it anywhere.


Some of what the author says is de Gebelin, but some of it isn't, namely the part about the number 7. That's Pythagorean, as you say; I'm not sure if it's in Etteilla or not; perhaps. In any case, it was common parlance. I'll do some checking.

The section about the number 7 posted by Cerulean has also been copied by Trimegistus from Gebelin, almost word for word, as is clear from the direct quote in my previous post. Here it is again:

En effet, ce jeu est fonde tout entier sur le nombre sacre de sept, car chaque couleur est de deux fois sept carates, et les figures sont au nombre de trois fois sept. L'ensemble des cartes et figures donne soixande et dix-sept, la figure sans numero, etant consideree comme le zero. Et personne aignore quel role important ce nombre sept jonait chez les Egyptiens: etait une formule a laquelle ils rameneient les elements de toutes sciences.


Ce Jeu est absolument fondé sur le nombre sacré de sept. Chaque couleur est de deux fois sept cartes. Les Atous sont au nombre de trois fois sept; le nombre des cartes de soixante-dix-sept; le Fou étant comme 0. Or, personne n'ignore le rôle que ce nombre jouoit chez les Egyptiens, & qu'il étoit devenu chez eux une formule à laquelle ils ramenoient les élémens de toutes les Sciences.

Google translation:


Indeed, this game is based entirely on the sacred number seven, because each suit is two times seven cards, and the figures number three times seven. In total the maps and figures give seventy-seven as the figure without number is considered as zero. And nobody can ignore the important role of this number seventy-seven which among Egyptians was a formula in which they stored* elements of all sciences.


This game is absolutely based on the sacred number seven. Each suit is two times seven cards. The Atous are three times seven, the number of cards is seventy-seven as the Fool is 0. But nobody can ignore the role that this number played among the Egyptians, and that it was home to a formula in which they stored* all the elements of Sciences.

* (re)stored/remembered ? rameneient?

Is it some other text you are referring too that hasn't been posted?


Compare Etteilla's book, Lismon reprint, Grimaud/France Cartes reprin Petit Etteilla

The 1770 to 1773 book of Etteiilla online (without pictures) has Etteilla playing card meanings.

I uploaded the scans of the Lismon Etteilla 1850 playing card book pages so you can compare the online 1770-1773 Etteilla book meanings using the 32 card piquet deck and your modern Petit Etteilla published by Grimaud/Frances Cartes to see if they all match for you.

The Lismon 1850 reprint of the Petit Etteilla text has more illustrations than I can reproduce, but there are four line drawings or engravings with typeset meaning-attached here.

The Grimaud/Frances Cartes Petit Etteilla available through the mass market would be good to check if over the centuries whether it stayed true to the above. I will post the link to the 32 card piquet book of meanings from Etteilla that can be accessed online through google books in a later post.

But this is later--having the right size jpgs for me takes time and very little time available this week. But ithe 32 to 33 pack and data above is the suggested start, as Lismon and later
reprints may vary.


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John Meador

This reference is merely an aside on Etteilla's part, but it does show that he knew about the Shem angels. perhaps not under that name, but at least as 72 intelligences in Kabbalah.

It is still an open question whether Kabbalah plays any role in Etteilla's system. I don't see any, but there is much about his system that is unclear to me.[/QUO

This is an interesting development, thanks for drawing attention to it!

For FG Irwin, one might profit from looking at the Society of Eight, with Kenneth MacKenzie and Frederick Holland (who's tarot contained the 72 intelligences, IIRC)

I don't know if Christine had a specific relationship in mind between Postel/Franckenberg re the Clavis and Eteilla.

Yes, Postel had a wide influence; he had many connections with Protestant printers, was a printer himself, had 60 published works and over 100 unpublished manuscipts of which many circulated. Two copies of his Zohar translation are known to have existed one of which circulated via Theodore Zwinger to whom Postel entrusted it. Marion Kuntz perceived Postel's influence in the proto-Rosicrucians.

I still believe more research into Franckenberg would be fruitful. Michael Hurst's own observations on the Clavis can be useful to a degree. There is much, much more could be elaborated and clarified on the subject. This is not the place.

Re the notorious ROTA, long ago I posed the question here: Anyone know if Etteilla had a circular spread based on the zodiac?
Also, I have heard of a spread from Etteilla known as the great figure of destiny- what is this?


Kwaw wrote
The section about the number 7 posted by Cerulean has also been copied by Trimegistus from Gebelin, almost word for word, as is clear from the direct quote in my previous post.
Yes, thanks, Kwaw, for pointing out again de Gebelin on the number 7. I was too much in a hurry and missed it. Then I reread it and felt like a fool. Also, Hurst's article is perfectly understandable, as much of it as I've read.

And thanks for the information about Postel, John. I guess it's true (paraphrasing Michael's essay) that you have to ask. It's a question I've been wondering about for a while.

I have a question. How do you save drafts on Aeclectic? I sometimes start writing something and then find out I don't have time to check everything I've written. And I also don't have time to save it on my computer. So I just post it and hope it's right, until I have time to go back and edit it, sometimes with unfortunate results. I will try to stop doing that.


I wrote a little earlier in this thread ...

Perhaps one should pay attention in the Etteilla questions to an earlier unusual Minchiate deck called "Minchiate Francesi", which was made c. 1730 (if I remember correctly). Material to it is hard to find.

But the first card is "Chaos", as in the Etteilla Tarot ...

I've meanwhile improved the situation of "not enough knowledge about the Minchiate Francesi". See ...


It seems indeed, that the card "Chaos" played a very remarkable role in these type of decks, and, as there had been at least 3 different versions of it, it seems very improbable, that Etteilla didn't know about them.