Etteilla Timeline and Etteilla card Variants - background


I found "Baumgärtner" ... Etteilla's German connection.

DDD notes p.113, that one of Etteilla's work was translated 1793. It was published in Leipzig by Baumgärtner and it contained the card-illustrations in hand-colored manner.

It looks to me, as if Baumgärtner had personal reasons to make just this project. He was 29 years in 1788, when he started a journey to Spain. He crossed France, likely twice. He came back 1789 and experimented. Etteilla died 1791 and Baumgärtner opened a book production 1792. Etteilla's work should have belonged to his first business operations (1793). Baumgärtner wrote himself, so his book producer and book merchant role should have been dedication. After 1806 he founded a playing card factory and 1819 a second in Berlin. He's given as a little strange ... but very successful.

The cards of Etteilla were given in the book as copperplate engravings and colored by hand. Similar technology he used for other books.

DDD assume a possible connection to Hisler (a German in Berlin), whom Etteilla called one of his best pupils.


Welling's 'Cosmic History Myth'

I've been reading Gershom Scholem's 1994 book Alchemy and Kabbalah (translated in 2006). After discussing how different the first appearances of alchemy are in the Jewish tradition (silver is masculine and the highest form, while gold is feminine and of lesser quality), in Part III he discusses how alchemy and Kabbalah became widely synonymous among the Christian theosophists and alchemists.

He mentions three elements in this merger. The first two seem to be the magical and the mystical, which division also seems to be along the lines of a distorted Kabbalah (magical) and those who studied the real Jewish Kabbalah mystically. The third he defines as the "market criers" about which he quotes H. Kopp (1886): "Here . . . Kabbalah was only the bait, mostly already employed in the titles, to lure curious readers into buying books by authors who knew nothing about this sort of knowledge."

Was Etteilla, as Lévi seems to think, mostly a "market crier" who used a few Kabbalistic references to lure those who would think he knew more than he did, or did he actually know more? Next, Scholem presents us with a possible understanding of Etteilla.

He describes George Von Welling and F.C. Oetinger (18th century) as theosophically reinterpreting alchemical ideas of the mago-kabbalists - resulting in a melding of the two lights - "the light of grace and the light of nature" - the marriage of the mystical and magical that had been proposed by Jacob Boehme. Welling shunned the Jewish Kabbalah, saying it "is nothing other than an abuse of divine names," in favor of a 'correct' Christian Kabbalah (while Oetinger reintegrated Jewish Kabbalah back into the mix).

Scholem then quotes Goethe's summary of the central "cosmic history myth" that resulted from Welling's work. It included the 7 days of creation. Scholem notes that this myth was 'foreign to kabbalist tradition.' It is, however, central to de Gébelin/Mellet, Etteilla, Lévi, and even the Theosophists, in my opinion [bold is my own emphasis]:
"'At the beginning there was the world of light of God and the spirits, at the center of which stood Lucifer, reflecting the divine as the first and most magnificent of God's creatures. But Lucifer's will inhibited the effect if the divine light.' Thus, in his sphere arise a space of chaos, of darkness and gravity, from which God created the solar system. While reveling in the consciousness and appreciation of the encompassing glory, Lucifer had in fact forgotten his origin and therefore, by developing his own will, sequestered himself from God. According to God's plan, it was Adam, not Lucifer, who was supposed to be 'in his image and dominate the earth.' But Adam turned away from God in his Fall, and this results in the battle between Lucifer's forces and those of God in the Creation and humankind itself. Only at the end of days will God's interfering fire of strength transform the world, restore God's world of light, and return all beings, eventually even Lucifer, to their original harmonic, pre-dialectical state. Thus, each of Paracelsus's three basic elements—salt, sulphur, and mercury—have a special relation to one of the epochs of salvific history: salt to God's world of lights, the Fall of Lucifer, and the Creation of the world; sulphur to the balm of life of all creatures, but also to the destroying fire, which determines the state of humans after death and the end of days in the Last Judgment; and mercury to the bringing back of all things in the eon of the new heavens and the new earth."

"So influential was Welling's book that it was used as a main source of ideas in the formation of freemasonry around 1780. Both the didactic publications of the Masonic circle of Golden and Rosy Cross and that of the Asiatic Brethren, which partially originated in the same circle but distanced themselves polemically from it, adopted Welling's Lucifer myth almost verbatim."


Just a point of clarification. Huck wrote
I found "Baumgärtner" ... Etteilla's German connection.

DDD notes p.13, that one of Etteilla's work was translated 1793. It was published in Leipzig by Baumgärtner and it contained the card-illustrations in hand-colored manner.

It looks to me, as if Baumgärtner had personal reasons to make just this project. He was 29 years in 1788, when he started a journey to Spain. He crossed France, likely twice. He came back 1789 and experimented. Etteilla died 1791 and Baumgärtner opened a book production 1792. Etteilla's work should have belonged to his first business operations (1793). Baumgärtner wrote himself, so his book producer and book merchant role should have been dedication. After 1806 he founded a playing card factory and 1819 a second in Berlin. He's given as a little strange ... but very successful.

The cards of Etteilla were given in the book as copperplate engravings and colored by hand. Similar technology he used for other books.

DDD assume a possible connection to Hisler (a German n Berlin), whom Etteilla called one of his best pupils.

First, the quote in DDD is on p. 113, not 13. This is of course merely a typo.

Second, people might have thought that the "cards of Etteilla" to which Huck refers might be a reference to the Petit Oracle des Dames, since that was the subject under discussion at that point. I am not charging Huck with misinformation, but just to be clear, DDD are quite specific about the "cards of Etteilla" to which Huck refers :
the pictures exactly tally with the very first edition published by Etteilla, with no burst of light on card no. 1. These cards are certainly those which accompanied the 1793 Theoretischer und praktischer Unterricht über das Buch Thot.


I have some more information, or perhaps misinformation (I'm not sure) about Teheuti's question:
Huck - are you saying that Etteilla's card #1-"Etteilla" was really supposed to be the Sun God Apollo or was it supposed to be Chaos? What then, was his 2nd card, Eclaircissement, supposed to represent? My understanding was that Etteilla's original deck had for the 1st-Etteilla Card, simply an opening in the clouds with no Sun - and that the Sun was added later.

It is indeed curious that the Etteilla card should be somewhat like a Chaos card in one deck and an Apollo/Sun card in another.

But I'm confused, Huck, about the point you are making.

Huck made it clear, in his reply, that he was not addressing that issue.

Andrea Vitali's essay "Tarot, History, and Magic" shows pictures from a deck called "Grand Etteilla I" (find these words at In the second set of pictures (click on the numeral 2) you will see card 1 with a sunburst. In all other respects these cards are precisely like the ones shown in DDD, said there to be the original 1789 cards--however that set, owned by Depaulis, has no sunburst on card 1.

Now what is of interest is what Andrea says about these cards (actually, this was written by someone else, he tells me, in the years before DDD's book was published). I give the Italian first, and then the posted translation
Tarot “Egyptien” - Grand Etteilla I - 2, acqueforti dipinte a mano (Parigi , ?, inizi 1800)

Raro esemplare di “Tarocco Egiziano” fatto realizzare da D’Odoucet sulla base delle indicazioni fornitagli da Etteilla, suo maestro per dieci anni. Queste figure offrono l’idea più verosimile dell’iconografia del Livre de Thot disegnato da Etteilla, del quale non si è conservato alcun esemplare.

(Egyptian Tarot - Grand Etteilla I - 2, hand-painted etchings (Paris ?, ?, beginning 1800) .

A rare specimen of the "Egyptian Tarot" commissioned by D’Odoucet on the basis of information provided by Etteilla, his teacher for ten years. These figures give a more verisimilar idea of the iconography of the Livre de Thoth drawn by Etteilla.)
So according to this information the sunburst was added by D'Odoucet. This change might have been done on his own initiative, perhaps because he liked the way it was done on the decks that preceded Etteilla. For one thing, it was 9 years after Etteilla's death; and for another, Etteilla's nickname for D'Odoucet was "Dodo", in a 1790 quote which is uncomplimentary in other ways. Also, in that quote Etteilla says that this "Dodo" became his pupil in 1788. So presumably D'Odoucet was Etteilla's student for 2 years or less. Nonetheless D'Odoucet became Etteilla's self-appointed successor.

Nonetheless it may be true that the sunburst is due to D'Odoucet. Unlike many of Etteilla's designs, I never liked it anyway. I am hoping that there is some documentation for this attribution in Andrea's essay. An identical deck appears in Kaplan vol. 1 p. 141. All Kaplan says is "Etteilla Tarot Cards" -- which they almost are, except for the sunburst on card 1.


To continue my previous line of thought, I have thought of a good reason for attributing the sunburst on Card 1 to D'Odoucet, sometime around the beginning of the 19th century, probably 1804-1810.

When Blocquel and Castiaux put out their "Grand Etteilla II" c. 1838-1840, they used Etteilla's original design for card 1, without the sunburst. But in their Ace of Batons, they reversed the "Chute" and "Naissance" keywords, making "Chute" the upright, when Etteilla had it the other way. D'Odoucet's version of the keywords, which Papus, in Tarot Divinitoire (English translation p. 9) said he followed, had the Ace of Batons done Etteilla's way. Therefore Blocquel and Castiaux weren't following D'Odoucet.They were probably following La Sallette, who had published his Dictionary of Synonyms in 1791. D'Odoucet published his version in Science des Signes 1804-1807.

Given that the sunburst card 1 and the D'Odoucet Ace of Batons keys-words were used in the Grimaud reprints, and that the non-sunburst card 1 and de la Salette Ace of Batons wre used by Blocquel-Caustiaux, it is likely that the sunburst card 1 is also D'Ocoucet, probably in conjunction with his book, i.e. 1804-1807.

It remains to verify that the Ace of Batons in the deck reproduced in Vitali's "Tarot, History, and Magic" and the one reprinted in Kaplan Vol. 1 (which is identical to the former) has the same Ace of Batons as the Grimaud reprints. I will make inquiries.

I notice that DDD p. 106, trace D'Odoucet to Lille in November 1808, after which they lose track of him. Lille is where Blocquel-Caustiaux had their business, starting in fact around 1809, as I think Huck found out. DDD observe that D'Odoucet is not among the Paris printers that were approved in the regulations on 1811. If nothing else, DDD say, the reason would be D'Odoucet's royalist leanings (also a big part of why Etteilla called him a Dodo). In such a situation, it seems to me, it probably would even have been difficult for him to print anything earlier, as he was continually being harassed and occasionally jailed by police. Perhaps Blocquel-Caustiaux were the first printers of the deck with the sunburst on card 1, following D'Odoucet's instructions. (And perhaps after that they had a friendly visit from the police.) So later, in the 2nd Republic, they decided that D'Odoucet did not represent Etteilla as well as de la Sallette, and the "Grand Etteilla II" was born, with its removal of the sunburst and the reversal of the keywords on the Ace of Batons.


Hello Mike, that was my question because Chute and Naissance

in Etteilla II variations by Simon Blocquel in the 1838 book and 1890 deck and Etteilla III engravings iefor MF. Delarue have Chute upright. The Etteilla III is 1865 for MF Delarue.

I believe even the 1845 French Jeu des Princesse book printed in Paris with card sihouettes have many Etteilla titles, including the upright Ace of Wands meaning with Chute as upright meaning.

I posted about Simon Blocquel and his publishing in Lille and his son in law earlier than Huck in my related threads and sent the information to you--actually months before Huck. But let me check again to see if if Huck has posted my links on Simon Blocquel being a freemason and all the printing business success. My links had the same data of number of employees, the apprenticeship data and so I did not contradict Huck. Rather I thought Huck copied it from my previous posts.

I will check the above first, then your links to AV's /Berti's notes. I am not certain, but I was so excited about Simon Blocquel when I first found the info, I do not remember anyone else posting it on Aeclectic before I did, so I started a thread with Simon Bloquel biographical notes for reference.

Later:Yes my post 11 and 12 of Oct 2011 cites three souces and I began a biographical timeline of Simon Bloquel in the Jeu des Dames thread. I will link later and continue and if Huck uncovered more detail, I willadd and vredit appropriately.

I sent Mike Howard the thread link in case there is more detail fromy earlirr posts.

I do need to check the sky or sunburst major.

Thank you for your references.

If I am reading you correctly, what tarot version did you think most closely fits Etteilla I descriptions?

I may be mistaken, but are you thinking the Simon Blocquel/ Lismon seems closer, without D'oucet innovations?


Sorry for not crediting you on Blocquel having a shop in 1809. You did tell me about the Grand Jeu de Dames thread. But I guess I didn't read the part about Blocquel (; in any event I can't remember reading it; I only remember Huck's version here. I apologize.

And thanks for the question, about Blocquel/Lismon vs. D'Odoucet. What I was saying is that the postulated D'Odoucet deck, the one on Andrea's site and in Kaplan vol. 1, is exactly the same as Etteilla's original deck, as seen in DDD, as far as we can see from the pictures given, except for the sunburst on card 1. That seems to have been someone's, probably d'Odoucet's, innovation.

The reason they are exactly the same with that one exception is that D'Odoucet probably had Etteilla's original plates. DDD say on p. 104 that by February of 1792 "Etteilla's stock had fallen into his hands." At the very least, he had Etteilla's stock of decks, because "in 1792, D'Odoucet was selling Etteilla's engraved Tarot with his address written in pen instead of Etteilla's".

The Blocquel-Caustaux c. 1838 production is definitely from different plates. The print outside the pictures is different, and many details inside the picture are different too, in probably every card. Often this is a matter of shading and slight variations in placement of figures, or parts of figures. But the Temperance, Prudence, Magician, and Chariot pictures are quite different. The designs on the numeral cards are different, too.

In the keywords, and also the "Julia Orsini" synonyms, what I am saying is that the c. 1838 Etteilla II by Blocquel-Caustaux probably followed de la Salette. That's something that others pointed out, not me--you, for one, made the point about the Ace of Batons when I first entered this thread, and Kenji made the point about the difference between de la Salette and D'Odoucet on that card. Whether de la Salette's or D'Odoucet's vision is closer to Etteilla at the end of his life, I don't know. I haven't yet been able to read any of Etteilla's post-1788 work (assuming Depaulis's cards were designed in that year).

And I am saying that the picture part of the Blocquet-Castaux-"Orsini"-Lismon-Grand Etteilla II card number 1 is an accurate reflection of Etteilla's original card number 1, unlike the postulated D'Odoucet's.

The only "new" information, at least on Aeclectic threads that I know about, is that D'Odoucet is probably responsible for the sunburst. Even that isn't exactly new, because it's been in the "Tarot, History, Magic" essay for some time (actually, I don't think it's there now, since I asked Andrea about it). However that essay didn't present any reasons for why it could be true. That's what I was trying to do.


Etteilla spreads

Back at John Meador asked
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?
I have looked, a little. Of the three books I currently have access to (1773 edition of Etteilla, ou la Seule Maniere de Tirer les Cartes, 1st Cahier, 2nd Cahier), the only one in which he talks about spreads, that I can see, is the 1773, first published 1771. The 1773 is available online at

There is a spread in this book, opposite p. 72 (except that Google does not show it), called the "horoscope", with 12 cards. It is not circular, but it may be of interest.


Looking at the corresponding text (on p. 71. actually), I see that the "12", besides being the cards of the spread, are also the months of the year. And to convert months to numbers, you add up the number of letters in the spelling of your birth month. That is not exactly the zodiac, but it is close. Looking at this discussion, I noticed that Etteilla uses the word "Taraux" (top of p. 74). So he clearly knew about the tarot then, even if he wasn't writing about it in this book. He says that Taraux give better results than ordinary cards; although the latter are amusing and provide an agreeable illusion.

The same book does have one circular spread, opposite p. 65; but the circle has 13 cards and is called "Coup de la roue de fortune".


As I say, neither of these pictures is included in Google's reproduction of the 1773 book; the probably didn't fit their automated scanner. But otherwise the accompanying text doesn't make much sense. So as a public service I have uploaded, besides the two I have shown, the others, from photocopies that Cerulean generously gave me a while back. The pictures are in color, which I understand from her is not typical for copies of that book.Here are links to the others, on a blog-site I use for uploading pictures..

Opposite p. 41 we have the "Coup de 12 Blanc", another 12 card spread:

Opposite p. 43 we have the "Coup de 12", also of 12:

Opposite p. 52 we have the "Coup de 27":

Opposite p. 60 we have the "Coup du Etteilla":

Opposite p. 69 we have the "Coup de Evantaille":

Opposite p. 70 we have the "Coup de Quinze":

I know next to nothing about spreads. If anybody has any information about any of these, feel free to share.