I will have to wait until I can get a copy of Kaplan from a local library before I continue the discussion about the Sefer Yetzirah, Huck. Thanks very much for the specific references.
I have followed up on a few things that I had left dangling in earlier posts on this thread or dealt with too hastily.
On the origin of French suits, I was hoping for enlightenment from Trevor Denning, Playing Cards of Spain. He didn't help, except for declining to make any pronouncements. I edited my previous post to that effect, giving a couple of quotes from the book (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1019&p=15465#p15465) which emphasize the haziness of this area. At least he doesn't endorse Dummett's view.
On the occurrence of "carte" in Pulci's, Morgante:, I had dismissed the idea that it could mean "cards" (as opposed to "charts", which is how the translator renders the word). However upon further investigation I cannot rule out a double meaning. Pulci often makes allusions to present situations in describing the events of Charlemagne's time. For example, one of the characters is the underhanded Saracen king Marsilius, a name Pulci didn't invent. But he makes comments that seem to refer to Marsilio Ficino, a person whose influence on Lorenzo he resented, as too intellectual. Pulci says (XIII, 37):
The translator (p. 823) cites Paolo Orvietto, who maintains that "in these lines Pulci is unquestionably talking about Marsilio Ficino" (http://books.google.com/books?id=CIICQp ... to&f=false).When King Marsilius saw the cavalier,
to himself he said, "Oh, help me, god Mahound!"
But our Rinaldo's might was such that neither
Plato nor Trismegistus could have helped.
With this in mind, I looked at the occurrences of "charts"in the poem, helpfully snipped at http://books.google.com/books?id=CIICQp ... ts&f=false. The first, "future seeing charts" on p. 42, is at III, 31. The second, "it had been predicted by the charts" on p. 700, is at XXVII, 137. The third, "old magic charts" on p. 452, is at XXI, 53. The fourth "certain charts that needed deftly practiced exorcisms" on p. 496, the one I started with, is at XXII, 102. The word translated as "charts" is always "carte".
In every case, it would make sense--except that cards didn't exist in Charlemagne's time--to say "cards" instead of "charts".
Also, in every case the person concerned is the good necromancer Malagigi. That is, while it is bad to summon up devils, it is good if the devils carry out good commands. Often Malagigi just uses his magic to play pranks on his friends. But at the end Malagigi actually saves the day by having his devil (given the name of an obscure Egyptian god) transport Rinaldo by air from Egypt to the decisive battle at Roncevalles. Although he can't prevent the death of Orlando, Rinaldo;s prowess weakens the Saracens sufficiently that Charlemagne can overcome them later.
We have to bear in mind that Luigi Pulci's nickname, to all, was "Gigi"; and it was he who devoted himself to the occult arts for 20 years, starting around 1453 (http://books.google.com/books?id=CIICQp ... lt&f=false; Ageno on p. xii of her edition of the poem quotes from several letters to Lorenzo, which I will try to translate). So "Malagigi" is "bad Gigi", i.e. "bad Pulci". There may also be magical connotations to "Gigi". Plato had the supposed ring of Gyges, which could render one invisible. Giordano Bruno had "Giges" as the inventor of pictures (Yates, Art of Memory, p. 220).
At XXI 47 Pulci speaks of, among other evil spirits, "Bileth, who broke the almandal with certain snails". "Almandal", the translator says, is "the Arabic name given to the magic square used to conjure up all sorts of devils".At the corners were four iron bars with "rolled up green white, red, and yellow silk drapes attached"; these are the "snails" (translator's notes p. 871). I am not sure if this "magic square" was an object or a space, and if an object, what it was made of. If it is an object with an image on it, we are getting close to cards.