Re: Jewish-Christian interactions in Italy before 1500

#21
mikeh wrote: When I started investigating, it was because of the alleged Jewish magical influence on Pulci and some things about the Sefer Yetzirah of possible relevance to the tarot.
Scholem had coined the terminus "practical kabbala". As far I remember this was in a dictionary article of a Jewish Encyclopedia (I don't know, which one, but this article "Kabbala" - 50 pages or so - was rather good, about the best, that I ever read in this field ... very long ago, before internet). The encyclopedia had various books, maybe 15, very large books, it was in a university library. In English language, I think. It also had rather good articles about the single kabbalists and other "kabbala expressions" (possibly partly also from Scholem).
If you will proceed in this field, and you don't know this encyclopedia, then it's a mistake, I would say. The web Jewish encyclopedia (1906, pre-Sholem) is nothing against it.

Ah, I found it. It seems, that parts of a second edition is online: "Encyclopedia Judaica"
http://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do? ... cType=GALE
About Scholem in this 2nd edition:
From 1948, Scholem was a permanent participant in the Eranos encounters in Ascona, Switzerland, where he lectured and interacted with the major scholars of religion of his generation, such as Carl G. Jung, Mircea Eliade, and Henry Corbin. The lectures he delivered there in German were printed in the volumes of Eranos Jahrbuch and collected in two German volumes, translated into English by R. Manheim as On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism (1969) and On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead (1991), and into Hebrew by Joseph ben Shlomo as Pirkei Yesod be-Havanat ha-Kabbalah u-Semaleha (1976). These studies represent the most important articulations of Scholem's phenomenology of Kabbalah, treating seminal matters in Jewish mysticism. In 1972 he formulated his last summary of his understanding of Kabbalah in the various entries he contributed to Encyclopedia Judaica, which were collected in the volume Kabbalah (1974).
Wiki has also an article on "practical kabbalah":
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Practical_Kabbalah

If Pulci had really something with kabbala, then it was type of "practical kabbala" (just my opinion).
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Jewish-Christian interactions in Italy before 1500

#22
It seems reasonable to me that Alemanno would have moved back to Mantua in 1494 after the deaths of Pico and Poliziano under suspicious circumstances (Pico's exhumed body was recently found to contain high levels of arsenic, according to Wikipedia).
Interesting note, I'm not sure, if I noted this before. But both didn't die at the same day.

Pico at November 17, 1494
Poliziano at September 29, 1494
... that's about 50 days difference.

The French army with Charles VIII. had reached Florence at mid November 1494.

Young ruler Piero de Medici escaped at 9th of November.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Jewish-Christian interactions in Italy before 1500

#23
Good point, about the 2 months difference between the deaths of Pico and Poliziano. Wikipedia says they both had large amounts of arsenic in their bodies, and that the secretary of Piero de Medici is suspected. I wonder if perhaps they were taking some obscure medicine that had a lot of arsenic in it, and Poliziano either was frailer, being older, or started taking it earlier.

I had forgotten about the French invasion. Wikipedia:
The arrival of Charles's army outside Florence in mid-November of 1494[6] created fears of rape and pillage. The Florentines were led to exile Piero de' Medici and to establish a republican government. Bernardo Rucellai and other members of the Florentine oligarchy then acted as ambassadors to negotiate a peaceful accord with Charles.
That's another good reason for a well-connected and mobile Jew to get out of town. With his main Christian friend dead, Charles at the gates, and the Medici defeated, Mantua would have seemed like heaven. No one knew what would happen when Charles arrived, perhaps joining forces with Savonarola and de Feltre. Look at Naples: Jews were murdered, raped, pillaged, and sold into slavery en masse; the book Between Worlds describes it on p. 54, at http://www.amazon.com/Between-Worlds-He ... 079140448X.

On Scholem, I've read his book Kabbalah, so I've read his Encyclopedia Judaica articles. I haven't looked at him recently because the problem with his work is that he doesn't explore the interrelationships between Jews and Christians, how each affected the other in their mystical endeavors. That's the chief merit of Idel and others today; and even they don't look much at the relationship between economic activities and mystical ones. Also, Scholem doesn't deal much with Italy. But perhaps he is good for getting an understanding of what "Kabbalah" includes. I should re-read him.

As far as the distinction between "theoretical" and "practical" Kabbalah, yes, I agree, and your point is well taken. Probably Pulci's invocations of demons wold count as Kabbalah in that sense, if they are Jewish demons. But what is the difference between "practical Kabbalah" and "Jewish magic" in general? One problem in that much of the "practical Kabbalah" was not written down, especially not the part about invoking demons. We don't know what it was. Pico in 1486 hints at it in his mention, in his "Theses on Mercury the Egyptian" but says it is "secret" (Farmer, Syncretism in the West, p. 342):
7.9. Within each thing there exist ten punishers: ignorance, sorrow, inconstancy, greed, injustice, lustfulness, envy, fraud, anger, malice.

7.10. A profound contemplator will see that the ten punishers, of which the preceding conclusion spoke according to Mercury, correspond to the evil order of ten in the Cabala and its leaders, of whom I have proposed nothing in my Cabalistic conclusions, because it is secret.

Does he know what he is talking about? Then there is the problem that in the Renaissance, according to Idel (http://books.google.com/books?id=Sy3po8 ... is&f=false, p. xvi), there is a synthesis of "Arabic magic"--especially its assimilation of the Hermetic tradition (i.e. Mercury the Egyptian)-- and "Kabbalah", the "golden age" of which starts around 1470, but already was happening in the 14th century in the area of "Jewish philosophy", Idel says on the previous page (xv). 1466 is not far from 1470. This is an area that remains unclear to me. Idel says it is "still only at the extreme margin of modern research" (p. xvi). Idel's footnote 31 gives a rather formidable list of recent literature (before 2004); Alemanno is in the thick of it.

Re: Jewish-Christian interactions in Italy before 1500

#24
mikeh wrote:Good point, about the 2 months difference between the deaths of Pico and Poliziano. Wikipedia says they both had large amounts of arsenic in their bodies, and that the secretary of Piero de Medici is suspected. I wonder if perhaps they were taking some obscure medicine that had a lot of arsenic in it, and Poliziano either was frailer, being older, or started taking it earlier.
True. It isn't totally secure, that it was murder. A self-murdering act of two homosexual lovers might be possible, too. Or, an error of medicine, as you say.
Boiardo died, too, a month later than Pico. The invasion caused fears and stress, and perhaps unusual private solutions.
As far as the distinction between "theoretical" and "practical" Kabbalah, yes, I agree, and your point is well taken. Probably Pulci's invocations of demons wold count as Kabbalah in that sense, if they are Jewish demons. But what is the difference between "practical Kabbalah" and "Jewish magic" in general? One problem in that much of the "practical Kabbalah" was not written down, especially not the part about invoking demons. We don't know what it was.
Pico in 1486 hints at it in his mention, in his "Theses on Mercury the Egyptian" but says it is "secret" (Farmer, Syncretism in the West, p. 342):
7.9. Within each thing there exist ten punishers: ignorance, sorrow, inconstancy, greed, injustice, lustfulness, envy, fraud, anger, malice.

7.10. A profound contemplator will see that the ten punishers, of which the preceding conclusion spoke according to Mercury, correspond to the evil order of ten in the Cabala and its leaders, of whom I have proposed nothing in my Cabalistic conclusions, because it is secret.

Does he know what he is talking about? Then there is the problem that in the Renaissance, according to Idel (http://books.google.com/books?id=Sy3po8 ... is&f=false, p. xvi), there is a synthesis of "Arabic magic"--especially its assimilation of the Hermetic tradition (i.e. Mercury the Egyptian)-- and "Kabbalah", the "golden age" of which starts around 1470, but already was happening in the 14th century in the area of "Jewish philosophy", Idel says on the previous page (xv). 1466 is not far from 1470. This is an area that remains unclear to me. Idel says it is "still only at the extreme margin of modern research" (p. xvi). Idel's footnote 31 gives a rather formidable list of recent literature (before 2004); Alemanno is in the thick of it.
It seems clear, that Pico speaks of the 10 negative Sephiroth, the kellipot or Qliphoth.

Well, Moses left 10 bad plagues in Egypt, and had 10 good Laws for the Jews. And when he returned from the mountain with the laws, danced around the golden calf. And Moses broke the stones cause of this (and spread a lot of blood, if you reread it; he "sons of Levi" killed 3000 men), on which the laws were written (which makes 20 pieces, 10 good and 10 bad, if you recount the operation). Later he returned to the mountain and got new Laws.

But naturally that's all a "secret" of the binary tee. The Egyptians had a cult around the number 42, and Moses made 32 out of it. I guess, that Pico didn't understand that himself, but he was told about the kellipot and their dangers.

All that isn't so mysterious, if you know the math of the 32 ways of wisdom. .... :-) I once attempted to show it to you.

64 elements:
A. 22 at the yang-side, 22 at the yin-side and 20 in the middle (balanced hexagram pairs).This makes somehow 42 in the "Egyptian reading", used in the political district system and in the Osiris-cult.
B. 32 hexagram pairs in the SY and in the system of Moses as 22 letters and 10 Sephiroth.

Btw. Do you know Sigmund Freud and "Der Mann Moses" ? Interesting book. Freud takes it as plausible, that Moses was an Egyptian and the sons of Levi would have been Egyptians, too.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Jewish-Christian interactions in Italy before 1500

#25
This belongs somehow also this theme:
The Representation of a Miracle of the Body of Christ
http://www-personal.usyd.edu.au/~nnew41 ... hristi.pdf
translated by Nerida Newbigin (?)
page 7-13
The plot serves the 'Jews persecution. It seems related to these pictures of Paolo Uccello. The gambling scene is not presented.
http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/u ... index.html
The jew and his family is burned.
Production 1465-69, Urbino. It's the time, when the Monte di pieta (the Franciscan bank system) was started.

Montefeltro participated in leading role at the fights around Volterra (1472), where Jews suffered and Montefeltro made large wins.
This victory involved likely further Jews persecutions in the following years.
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=950&p=15821#p15821

Newbigin likely used them in ...
"The texts in my 1983 volume, Nuovo corpus di sacre rappresentazioni fiorentine edite e inedite tratte da manoscritti coevi o ricontrollate su di essi (Bologna: Commissione per i testi di lingua)"
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Jewish-Christian interactions in Italy before 1500

#26
Yes, thanks, Huck, about Volterra. I recall a story in which Montelfeltro took advantage of his victory there to strip a Jew of his large collection of manuscripts, for his own library. Here it is: https://books.google.com/books?id=l-G7_ ... ew&f=false. That is around the time Lazzarelli had the idea of dedicating his work to Montelfeltro, to be added to that library.

I've been offline reading a lot of stuff and taking notes. Now I'm ready to post what is essential, ignoring the rest. The magic of computer search-engines, including those of JSTOR and Worldcat, is that they allow one to find and access quickly material that even the specialists may have overlooked. But then one has to integrate what needs to be integrated and let go of the rest. The result is still some long posts, with lots of parenthetical comments and references in parentheses in lieu of footnotes. I apologize.

In this post I am going to look at two more sources on Alemanno's life and works, plus one more on Pico. At the end of this post I will try to relate what I have presented to the tarot sequence.

This is the first of what I project to be three posts.

I will start with the article "Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Jochanan Alemanno", by B. C. Novak, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 45 (1982), pp. 125-147. It is a rather old source, but one always cited in later literature; at least it gives some of the needed references.

NOVAK ON ALEMANNO, PICO, DEL MEDIGO, AND MITHRIDATES


First, Alemanno's year of birth is now extended to 1433-34 (p. 126, citing the unpublished Ph.D. thesis of Arthur M. Lesley, 1976), based on a piece of gemantria found in his book Hai-ha Olamim (Eternal Life), in which apparently there is a brief autobiography (p. 125). Second, Novak thinks Alemanno was not born in Italy, because of he says he is "da Francia"; if true, he must be from France or some "French-speaking territory" (p. 126). But we see now why Idel thinks he was born in Mantua: he was called "de Mantua" in the document describing the award of his doctorate in 1470. Novak attaches little weight to this document: two researchers have found "no reference to either Alemanno or his family in the usually informative records of the Mantuan Jewish archives" (p. 126 n. 8). His father died "a year or two before the boy could read the Bible," which began, we learn, at age 4 (n. 9). (If that happened before they reached Italy, it would not be surprising if the archives had no record of the family, it seems to me.) His youth was spent "from house to house, and from city to city" acquiring a Jewish education, until (still p. 126):
Sometime after 1456, he left France and arrived in Florence, staying at the house of Yehiel da Pisa, a Jewish banker and man of letters.
The reasoning is that (note 11:
1456 is the beginning of the fourth period of seven years. Alemanno says that during this period he went to a different country and a different nation which did not know his language.
All of this is from Hai-ha Olalim. (I would note here that Italians then referred to their "patria" not as Italy but as the particular state to which they belonged, whose language was frequently very different from its neighbors.) The reason for 1456-1462 in Florence (as another source said, quoted in a previous post) is now clear: Alemanno divided his life into seven year periods, and this is one of them.

He then spent "some time in the country" (Novak's words) before studying for "some years" in Padua under Judah Messer Leon, getting his doctorate from him in 1470. His son Isaac was born in that city, we learn; but in 1470 he was in Mantua, because his doctarate calls him "de Mantua" (note 14), listening to the blind German musician, an organist named Konrad Paumann (p. 127). (It was apparently carelessness on Cassuto's part not to record the exact year that happened.) Various manuscripts are cited.

For the period between 1470 and 1488, there are only brief allusions in his works. Novak (p. 127) mentions an encounter in Bologna, and apparently some time on Venetian territory, which he deduces from a reference to the gold ducats of "the Italy of Greece" (perhaps this should be "the Greece of Italy"). But it cannot be ruled out that he spent all or most of this time in Mantua, where his teacher, Judah Messer Leon, is known to have set up a studio "in the second half of the 15th century". Presumably he means the yeshiva that other sources say was first in the Ancona area and then in Mantua.

In Florence he was the tutor to Yehiel da Pisa's two sons. After Florence, which he left sometime between July of 1494 and the year of the Jews' expulsion, 1497, "There is reason to believe that he returned to Mantua", because he mentions being acquainted with a "Pardia Cesario Mantuano" who has been identified as Paride da Cerasara, a Mantuan humanist, poet, astrologer, and student of magic, also interested in Hebrew and alchemy. Paride's whereabouts in Mantua have been traced back as far as 1494, aged 28. Novak cites Lesley and a manuscript. Paride is unlikely to have been known by Alemanno before then, Novak reasons, because he would have been too young 25 years earlier. (However Novak has just said that he may have been in Mantua most of the time before 1488. In 1487 Paride would have been 21. Is that too young? I would note here also that Equicola, the Mantuan humanist I mentioned earlier in connection with Estense paintings, was 24 in 1494 and hence close to Paride in age.) It is possible that Alemanno spent some time after 1497 in Ferrara, where he might have met Pico's nephew Alberto Pio, Novak says, citing Lesley. The last dated note by Alemanno is in 1503-4.

Novak turns then to Pico (p. 128). We learn what work del Medigo did for him in Padua, 1480-82: he translated some works by Averroes that had hitherto been available only in Arabic or Hebrew. He also wrote two treatises on Averroes' view of the Intellect, at Pico's request. In 1485 del Medigo visited Pico in Florence and participated in a debate with the converted Jew Flavius Mithradites on whether the Old Testament prophecies referred to Jesus. Their final meeting was in May, 1486, in Perugia, where del Medigo, as Pico later wrote in a letter, told him that Kabbalah was based on Neoplatonism and he, del Medigo, preferred Aristotle and Averroes to Plato and Kabbalah. Del Medigo also supplied Pico with a copy of Recanati's Commentary on the Torah, which scholars have "recently" seen as Pico's major source for his knowledge of the Kabbalah.

We also learn from Novak about Pico's other main Jewish contact, Flavius Mithridates (p. 129). He was the son of a learned Sicilian Jew and lived in Rome 1477-1483, when he left "for some unspecified crime" (Sholem suggested perhaps for secretly practicing Judaism). He preached a Good Friday sermon in 1481 to the Pope, arguing from supposed Jewish sources that the Crucifixion had been foretold in the Old Testament (but based more on medieval anti-Jewish polemists, Novak says). In 1484-5 he studied in Germany in Cologne and Tuebingen. 1485 has him in Florence and then working for Pico in Perugia, teaching him Hebrew, Aramaic ("Chaldean"), and Arabic, and translating many Jewish Kabbalist works. He also drew up a glossary of Kabbalist names and expressions for the ten sefirot, which proved to be an important source for Pico's Conclusiones (p. 130)

The rest of Novak's article is devoted to examining Pico's and Alemanno's relationship. He starts with a delightful account of how they met, based on Allemano's comments (p. 130f):
He had come to Florence in the Hebrew year 5248, or 1488. The virtues of the Florentines, which he found to be seven in number, 3 led his heart to be filled with the thought of coming before Pico, who was unique among his nation and generation; perhaps his soul might be favoured by some of Pico's splendour. The vagueness of this description, combined with the somewhat embellished style of the Hebrew, leaves some doubt as to Alemanno's exact motives, but as he does not say that he was summoned by Pico, he must have gone of his own accord. In all likelihood he would have known of Pico's interest in Hebrew learning, and was perhaps hoping to find employment with him as a teacher; but it is also possible that his position at the house of Yelhiel da Pisa was sufficient for his needs, and he sought out Pico from pure intellectual [131] curiosity, something he had no lack of. Pico apparently asked him if he knew of any commentary on the Song of Songs that would properly elucidate its textual difficulties, as he, Pico, had not been able to find one among the many Greek and Latin commentaries he had consulted. Alemanno replied that he too had been unsatisfied with what had been written on the Song, but twenty years earlier had, through the grace of God, himself arrived at some solutions. Pico asked to hear what Alemanno had written, and found it so much to his liking that he asked him to resume work on his commentary.
And that is all he ever says about Pico. On his part, Pico says only, in his Commento sopra una canzona d'amore(p. 131:
Solomon spoke excellently of one and the other, of common (love) in Ecclesiastes, as natural philosophy, and of divine and celestial (love) in his Song, and therefore Johanan and Menaen the Hebrews and Jonathan the Chaldaean say that of all the songs of the sacred scriptures, this one is the most sacred and the most divine.54
________________
54 Oratio de hominis dignitate, Heptaplus, De Ente et Uno e scritti vari, ed. Eugenio Garin, Florence 1942, p. 535. In fact the last statement about the Song of Songs being the most sacred was by Rabbi Akiva in Mishna, Yad. 3, 5.
"Manaen" is Manahem Recanati, and "Jonathan" is Jonathan ben Uzziel. It is likely but not certain that the "Johanan" here is Alemanno.

Novak holds that their relationship was mainly one of Alemanno teaching Pico rather than the other way around. He starts with a quote from Pico's nephew Gianfrancesco, in a letter (p. 132):
I am learning Hebrew (letters) thoroughly, having hired Isaac, the son of that Jochanan whom my uncle Giovanni Pico took for himself as master, and I employ him as my teacher.
This reflects, Novak argues, not only that Alemanno taught Pico but that it lasted for some time, because Gianfrancesco knew about it. The rest of the essay is an attempt to show, by comparing Pico's Haptaplus with Alemanno's work of that time, that Pico was much influenced by Alemanno. The problem is that in every case where he finds a parallel with Alemanno, the same idea can be traced to the Jewish sources that Mithridates translated for Pico. Novak says that Pico probably used both resources. This may be true, but if so it is a striking series of coincidences.

IDEL ON ALEMANNO AND PICO

The problem gets worse when one looks at Idel's treatment of the same issue in Kabbalah in Italy, 2011 (http://archive.org/stream/MosheIdelKabb ... y_djvu.txt). He compares the Kabbalistic sections in Pico's 900 Theses with Alemanno's writings. The result is the same as with Novak's comparison. Here there would seem to be no question of Alemanno influencing Pico, because the 900 theses were published in Dec. 1486, and to all appearances they didn't meet until 1488. Idel's explanation is that there was so much interchange between Jews and Christians then that there was a kind of "osmosis" and a "zeitgeist", spirit of the times (both p. 196), pointing them in the same direction, with a resulting duplication of ideas. If so, it would have extended beyond the borders of Florence, because Alemanno really does not seem to have been in that city, apart from in his youth, until 1488. In fact Florentine ideas did extend beyond its borders--although chiefly to the cities where Florentine or Florentine-educated humanists went.

Novak did identify one major difference between the "Florentine humanists" and Allemano, which to him showed that Alemanno was not influenced by either Ficino or Pico. Alemanno has no "ladder" of discreet steps to the divine; there is earthly love and divine love, bit that is all (p. 146) . However later studies on Alemanno do find discreet steps, even if they do not ascend in precisely the same way as in Ficino. One example is "'Prisca Philosophia'" and 'Docta Religio': The Boundaries of Rational Knowledge in Jewish and Christian Humanist Thought, by Fabrizio Lelli, Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 91, No. 1/2 (Jul. - Oct., 2000), pp. 53-99). But I will stick with Idel, 2011. He has a quote in which Alemanno gives ten levels--the sefirot, of course--and even that is not the top (p. 178).
The ancients believed in the existence of ten spiritual numbers. ... It seems that Plato thought that there are ten spiritual numbers of which one may speak, but one may not speak of the First Cause, because of its great concealment. However, they [the numbers] approximate its existence to such an extent that we may call these effects by a name that cannot be ascribed to the movers of corporeal bodies. However, in the opinion of the Kabbalists, one may say so of the sefirot. . . . This is what Plato wrote in the work ha-'Atzamim ha-'Elyonim" as quoted by Zekhariyahu in the book 'Imrei Shejer.' 12 From it follows that in Plato's view, the first effects are called sefirot because they may be numbered, unlike the First Cause, and therefore he did not call them movers. 13
_________________
11. This is a passage from an otherwise unknown Hebrew translation of Liber de Causis, as adduced already by Abraham Abulafia. On this work of Abulafia's, his quotation from Liber de Causis, and the latter's reverberations see Idel, "The Magical and Neoplatonic Interpretations," pp. 216-217, 220-221, 223, and the pertinent notes there. Neoplatonic influences are more dominant in theosophic-theurgical Kabbalah than in ecstatic Kabbalah. In the latter, some Neoplatonic motifs came to the fore in the second stage of the development of this school, in the works of R. Yitzhaq of Acre and in R. Nathan Harar's Sha'arei Tzedeq, whereas they are negligible in the writings of Abulafia, where the Aristotelian influence is predominant. See more in chap. 11.
12. 'Imrei Shejer is Abulafia's last work, composed in Sicily in 1291. The passage is found in Ms. Munich 285, fols. 3a-b.
13. Alemanno, Sefer Hesheq Shlomo, Ms. Berlin, Or. Qu. 832, fols. 83a-b. See also chap. 15, sec. 4.
The work Alemanno calls ha-'Atzamim ha-'Elyonim is that usually known as Liber de Causis, Book of Causes. As Idel says, that book was actually written by Proclus. (I would note that the 5th century Neoplatonist Proclus was also the inspiration for pseudo-Dionysius's celestial hierarchy.) According to Wikipedia, this book was attributed to Aristotle rather than Plato (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liber_de_Causis). However Alemanno at least gives it to the right tradition. In a part of Alemanno's text that Idel omitted, he justifies the attribution to Plato by a remark of Aristotle's in Book XIII of the Metaphysics, ( Idel, "The Magical and Neoplatonic Interpretations of Kabbalah in the Renaissance", 1983, in Cooperman, ed. Jewish Thought in the Sixteenth Century, 1983, on p. 241, n. 217). There Aristotle says that Plato considered the individual numbers to be separate archetypes. As to their being ten basic ones, Aristotle only says that is "as some say" (http://www.classicallibrary.org/aristot ... book13.htm). That is a Neopythagorean idea that the Neoplatonists incorporated in their systems.

Proclus was for Pico the most important of the Neoplatonists, devoting more of his Theses to him than to any other. One might say that Pico came to his ideas from Ficino, Plato, and Proclus, whereas Alemanno came to his from Proclus, mistaken for Plato, via Jewish sources. The results are strikingly parallel, so much so that Idel thinks they must be explained by "reciprocal osmosis" and the "zeitgeist". In other words, he has no idea how the two thinkers happened to come up with similar ideas, but there are many possibilities, all undocumented.

There are many parallels between Alemanno and Pico. I will focus on those suggesting a ladder. The sefirot are like rungs on a ladder. In one place Alemanno speaks of Moses having reached the level of tiferet, the sixth sefira (Idel 1983, p. 206f in Cooperman volume, the brackets are Idel's):
For our master Moses, peace be with him, was empowered in this matter, as the verse says, "That caused his glorious arm [zroa' tif' arto - literally, the arm of His Beauty and here the Sefira Tiferet] to go at the right hand of Moses" [Isaiah 65:12]
And in a commentary on the ten sefiroth, he puts Moses even higher, in the third sefira, Bina (Idel 2011, p. 187f):
and the third [sphere] is that of Saturn . . . and it is a supreme and noble one, higher than all the other planets, which is the reason that the ancient sages said about it that it generated all the other planets. . . . And they say that [188] Saturn is the true judge and the planet of Moses, peace be with him.
This can be compared to Pico:
28.43 No one knew the tomb of Moses, because he was raised in the superior jubilee, and over the jubilee he set his roots.
for which Farmer comments, in his note to his translation (in Syncretism in the West, 1998):
28.43: "superior jubilee/jubilee" are apparent references to the third sefira (Binah, intelligence) and the sixth (Tiferet, beauty, the "great Adam". Cf. here 23.13 and the hints in 28. 17. On Binah as the great or superior jubilee, see further Scholem (1974:120).
In the Hai-ha Olalim Allemano has another sort of "ladder", namely, the step by step study program in groups of seven years each, ending at age 35 (probably the age he was when he wrote it). There are only 4 steps--the first is from age 4 to 13, then 14 to 21, 21 to 28, and finally 28 to 35 (Appendix 3 in Idel's 2011 book, pp. 339-342, at http://archive.org/stream/MosheIdelKabb ... .txt)--but he kept working another 35 years; so probably there were more, without a reading list. Idel reports that his last written note was dated 1505.

This ladder seems to me fairly simple to account for. If he spent six years when he was a young student in Florence, surely he would have come into contact with Florentine Platonism. This is especially true if he was there during his third seven-year period, 21-28, to which he assigns, among other things, "the political philosophy of Aristotle and Plato" (Idel p. 341). In his writing, it is true, he is less influenced by Ficino's writings than he is the medieval tradition of Jewish Neoplatonism. But Florentine Platonism did not start with Ficino, and perhaps if the two knew each other, Ficino's ideas weren't as developed as they became.

AN APPLICATION TO THE TAROT

Where does all this lead, in relation to the tarot? For one thing, it is nice to see that what some have called the "Christian Kabbalah" has many features in common with "Jewish Kabbalah" in the period of the Renaissance.

Also, for a few Jewish thinkers in Florence, and for those Christian thinkers interacting with them, I see a persistent interest in the "ladder of ascent", a medieval theme that after having been eclipsed for a couple of centuries among Christians (but not Jews) is coming back It begins with Bruni's translation of the "Charioteer" myth of Plato's Phaedrus and gets developed by Traversari in his translations of pseudo-Dionysius. We see it next in Ficino's De Amore of 1469 (published 1474). Then it gets repeated by Pico, in terms that try to bridge Judaism and Christianity in a series of works 1486-1489, and in Jewish terms by Allemano, 1489-1490s.

In Allemano, there are clear references to ascent when he speaks of the seferot, which are in numerical sequence. It is a matter of receiving the power of a particular sefira. Thus (p. 185):
"A prophet has the power to cause the emanation of divine efflux from 'Ein Sof upon the hyle [hylic matter] by the intermediary of the sefirah Malkhut. In this way the prophet performs wondrous deeds, impossible in nature." 36
And (p. 187):
"...Malkhut is the source of oral law, which explains all the secrets of the Torah and details of the commandments." 42
Likewise the righteous cleave to Yesod, which is one of the names of that sefira. Speaking of another Kabbalist, Idel says (p. 246):
I assume that the Kabbalist understands the powers that the operators achieve as
the result of the cleaving of the human righteous to the supernal righteous, the
sefirah Yesod.
We have already seen how Moses had the power of Tiferet in his arm, and also Binah.

Similarly, I think it is possible to see the tarot sequence as descent and ascent through the sefirot, with the Fool and the World both referring to the En Sof, which is outside the sefirot. I have elaborated this at http://latinsefiroth.blogspot.com/, in my introduction. The first 10 cards are the descent, each associated with a different name of God. The direction starts to reverse at the Wheel card, with the 11th and 12 cards as more names of God but also preparations for ascent. The ascent proper begins with the Death card, which is where Dummett (1980 and 1992) had the third section of the sequence begin.

Besides the sefirot, there is in Allemano at least one hint of a corresponding ascent through the planets and above. in relation to Saturn, which in remarks about Moses he correlates with Bina, the third sefira. I have given one quote already, which I will repeat (Idel 2011, p. 187f):
and the third [sphere] is that of Saturn . . . and it is a supreme and noble one, higher than all the other planets, which is the reason that the ancient sages said about it that it generated all the other planets. . . . And they say that [188] Saturn is the true judge and the planet of Moses, peace be with him.
At the end of that same passage Allemano writes (p. 188; I include Idel's notes):
...And the astrologers who have described Saturn say that it endows man with profound thought, law, and the spiritual sciences [holdimot ruhaniyyot], 49 prophecy [neuu'ah], 50 sorcery [kishshuf], 51 and prognostication and the Shemittot and Yovelot. 52 ... But if they [the Jews] do not keep the way of God, it will spit forth everything that is bad: prophecy will occur to fools and to babies in an insufficient manner, and to women and to melancholies, 54 and to those possessed by an evil spirit and maleficent demons that obliterate the limbs, 55 and bad counsels and sorceries, and anxieties and erroneous beliefs. 56
____________
50. For this nexus see already R. Joseph ben Shalom Ashkenazi's Commentary on Sefer Yetzirah (Epstein, Jerusalem, 1961), fols. 5ib~52a.
51. This understanding of sorcery as related to Saturn stems, in Jewish sources, from R. Abraham ibn Ezra, Reshit Hokhmah, chap. 4. 1 combined the version found in a passage of this book as explicitly quoted in R Joseph Bonfils, Tzajhat Pa'aneah, ed. David Herzog, vol. 1 (Krakow, 1912), p. 49, with the commonly used edition of the book (cited just below). See also ibid., p. 270. The common version of this passage, as edited and translated by Raphael Levi and Francisco Cantera, The Beginning of Wisdom: An Astrological Treatise by Abraham ibn Ezra (Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore; Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1939), pp. xlii-xliv, does not contain the reference to incantation and sorcery.
52. These are terms for cosmical cycles according to Kabbalists, which interpreted biblical practices of cessation of agricultural works. The nexus between these two practices and Saturn is manifest already in the passage of Abraham Abulafia and even more in R Joseph ben Shalom Ashkenazi's influential Commentary on Sefer Yetzirah. See Moshe Idel, "Saturn and Sabbatai Tzevi: A New Approach to Sabbateanism," in Toward the Millennium: Messianic Expectations jrom the Bible to Waco, ed. Peter Schaefer and Mark Cohen (Brill, Leiden, 1998), pp. 179-180. See also above, chap. 12, note 39.
...
54. On Saturn and melancholy see the important study by Raymond Klibansky, Erwin Panofsky, and Fritz Saxl, Saturne et la melancholie, trans. L. Evrard (Gallimard, Paris, 1989).
55. Apparently hemiplegia.
56. Alemanno, untitled treatise, Ms. Paris, BN 849, fols. 940-958, which is part of a passage dealing with the sefirah of Binah. See also Idel, "The Magical and Neoplatonic Interpretations," p. 209.
Since Saturn is the seventh planet, and Binah is the eighth sefira from the bottom, presumably there is a descent through the planets, until Yesod is the Moon. That leaves Malkhut as something below the moon, where the medievals put the four elements. And above Saturn are the Fixed Star, corresponding to Hochma, and the Primum Mobile, corresponding to Kether. Finally the Empyrean would be above the sefirot in the En Sof. I have not found any of this, however, in a Jewish source (as opposed to the Golden Dawn, which may have made the same inferences that I have just made).

Pico's assignments of sefiroth to planets is different, but that difference also in some respects reflects Jewish sources, at least in that Malkut is often identified with the Moon. Also, it may be that some sources put all the planets below the first three sefirot. Saturn in its astrological characteristics does not fit the next lower sefira, Hesed, which traditionally was associated with the love of Abraham for his son and for God. Jupiter fits Hesed better. If Saturn were associated with Binah, everything would be fine. Pico solves the problem by putting Saturn with Netzach, i.e. between the sefiroth associated with the Sun and that associated with Venus. Here is what he says (Farmer, Syncretism in the West, p. 541. and my explanatory comments in brackets):
Whatever other Kabbalists say, I say that the ten spheres correspond to the ten enumerations [i.e. sefirot] like this: so that, starting from the edifice [i.e. the separation of the upper three from the lower seven], Jupiter corresponds to the fourth, Mars to the fifth, the sun to the sixth, Saturn to the seventh, Venus to the eighth, Mercury to the ninth, the moon to the tenth. Then, above the edifice, the firmament in the third, the primum mobile [first moved] in the second, the empyrean heaven to the tenth.
Farmer comments in his note (p. 540) that assigning the empyrean to the tenth "was probably a slip", since he's already given the tenth to the moon. It should have been "first".

Another possibility would have been to associate Saturn with Hod, the option that Kircher took in his famous diagram of the sefirot (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... f_Life.png ; find the astrological symbols next to the sefirot). Unlike Kircher, Pico does not attribute his to a Jewish source, because he begins his thesis with "Whatever other Cabalists say..."

If planets are assigned to sefiroth, that also implies ascent, because the belief was that the soul at birth descends through the planets, being imprinted at that moment with a particular horoscope, and will ascend again after death, as in the famous "Dream of Scipio" by Cicero and its interpretation by Macrobius in his Commentary. Moreover, the medieval cosmograph was designed as an aid to meditation, by which one ascends in contemplation from one planet to the next.

Whether there is such a Ptolemaic progression of the planets in the tarot sequence is a matter for discussion. It is not essential for what I have said here, which is primarily about the sequence of sefirot. Their associations with the Ptolemaic order of planets, more or less, merely reinforces the idea of mystical descent and ascent through the sefirot, which I do see as a realistic possibility for how some may have seen the tarot sequence by the end of the 15th century.

Re: Jewish-Christian interactions in Italy before 1500

#27
mikeh wrote: Since Saturn is the seventh planet, and Binah is the eighth sefira from the bottom, presumably there is a descent through the planets, until Yesod is the Moon. That leaves Malkhut as something below the moon, where the medievals put the four elements. And above Saturn are the Fixed Star, corresponding to Hochma, and the Primum Mobile, corresponding to Kether. Finally the Empyrean would be above the sefirot in the En Sof. I have not found any of this, however, in a Jewish source (as opposed to the Golden Dawn, which may have made the same inferences that I have just made).
The GD didn't need to infer it, they would have found it in Agrippa's 'Occult Philosophy' (Book 2, on the scale of the number 10), which was major a source for many of their attributions. Neither were they (the plant/sephiroth attributions) limited to the GD, the same can be found in the cabalistic texts of the French esoteric schools (e.g., Qabalah by Papus).

Pico, Reuchlin and Ficino were among Agrippa's sources, and Paulo Ricci's translations of the SY and Portai Lucis, and he was also a friend of Paulo's brother Agostino Ricci, court astrologer and cabalist. He gave lectures on Reuchlin's De verbo mirifico in 1509, and underwent his occult studies under Johannes Trithemius, to whom he presented his early draft of 'Occult Philosophy' in 1510. He continued his occult studies in Italy where he resided for seven years between 1511 to 1518:

On Agrippa's sources--

quote
"Close examination of his sources reveals that he continued these studies of ancient occult wisdom during his lengthy residence in Italy, where the presence of many disciples of the Florentine Neoplatonists and of the largest and most flourishing Jewish community in Europe deepened his mastery of this ancient learning."

"...His seven years in Italy (1511–18), spent mainly at Pavia, Casale Monferrato, and Turin, exposed Agrippa to a humanist culture that was strongly influenced by Neoplatonic, Hermetic, and Cabalistic texts. His mastery of these sources of occult learning became both broader and deeper because of his contact with Italian occultists who shared his interests. Sometime in 1515 he settled in Pavia and gave public lectures on the Hermetic treatise Pimander. He also married a woman from Pavia. In 1516 he dedicated to the marquis of Monferrato his short Dialogus de homine and a more important treatise, De triplici ratione cognoscendi Deum. Agrippa also lectured at the University of Turin, but his efforts to secure a position at the court of the duke of Savoy were unsuccessful. While in Savoy, he did become friends with members of the Laurencin family, influential Lyonese bankers, who were probably attracted by his understanding of alchemy and astrology. Through their influence, he was appointed advocatus and orator by the self-governing imperial city of Metz, a well-paid position as legal advisor to the city council."

"...The increase in his knowledge is striking. To his limited familiarity with the works of Ficino and Pico, he added materials drawn from Ficino's commentaries on both Plato and Plotinus and several significant works of Giovanni Pico (Conclusiones, Heptaplus, and Disputationes) of which there is no trace in the original manuscript. Another important addition to his knowledge of occult learning is a strange blend of Christian, Hermetic, and millennial ideas found in a dialogue, Crater Hermetis, by an eccentric Italian scholar, Ludovico Lazzarelli (1450–1500) (Hanegraaff 2009). He may have known this book before he went to Italy, since it was published at Paris in 1505 by a French humanist whom Agrippa admired greatly, Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples, and since it is cited both in the original manuscript of De occulta philosophia and in new material added after Agrippa went to Italy. His only citation of one of the major medieval Cabalistic treatises, Sefer Zohar, a book that he could not have read since it was not available in Latin, is lifted out of Crater Hermetis. Other citations of works he knew only after 1510 include the De rerum praenotione by the younger Pico della Mirandola (Gianfrancesco), and several works by Erasmus, about whom he probably knew little until he left Italy in 1518 and settled in Metz. In Italy he deepened his familiarity with Cabalistic literature considerably beyond the limited erudition found in De verbo mirifico, including not only Reuchlin's second treatise on Cabala, De arte cabalistica (1517) but also familiarity with Agostino Ricci, court astrologer at Casale Monferrato and author of a book on Cabala, astronomy, and astrology, who became a close friend during Agrippa's residence there, and with translations by Agostino's brother Paolo, whom Agrippa did not meet in person but whose publications he cited several times in his De triplici ratione cognoscendi Deum (1516). Paolo's works include his translation of the Cabalistic treatises Sefer Yetzirah (Liber formationis) and Sha'are Orah (Portae lucis) and also parts of the Talmud, the great rabbinical commentary on the Bible. Perhaps the most interesting of the new Italian sources, however, was a work of Hermetic and Cabalistic theosophy, De harmonia mundi, by Francesco Giorgio (or Zorzi) of Venice (1460–1540), though this influence, evident not only in the additions made to De occulta philosophia after 1510 but also in De vanitate, was not a product of Agrippa's years in Italy since it was not published until 1525. Especially influential was Giorgio's identification of the tripartite division of the human soul, derived from an early work by Ficino, with a similar tripartite division found in the Cabalistic Zohar (OP, ed. Perrone Compagni, 1992: 35–43). Surprisingly, perhaps, Agrippa also used Giorgio's book freely as a source for his attack on magic in De vanitate (Perrone Compagni 2001:94–95)."

end quote

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/agrippa-nettesheim/

It is possible then that Agrippa's attibutions reflect what some of the other Italian cabalists were saying (re: Picos' 'despite what other cabalists say...') at a period not too far removed (1511-18).
I wonder if Agrippa also learnt to play tarot while in Italy? (He did in a later period name one of his dogs 'Tarot').
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Jewish-Christian interactions in Italy before 1500

#28
SteveM wrote: It is possible then that Agrippa's attibutions reflect what some of the other Italian cabalists were saying (re: Picos' 'despite what other cabalists say...') at a period not too far removed (1511-18).
I wonder if Agrippa also learnt to play tarot while in Italy? (He did in a later period name one of his dogs 'Tarot').
We studied the case of the dog "Tarot" earlier. Actually Agrippa was the first, who used this spelling (as far we know this).
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=754&p=10798&hilit= ... dog#p10798
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Jewish-Christian interactions in Italy before 1500

#29
I've been offline again having my computer worked on by a friend. In the meantime I did a lot of reading and then, at the library, writing the draft of another long post. But first, I respond to Steve's helpful post.

SteveM wrote,
The GD didn't need to infer it, they would have found it in Agrippa's 'Occult Philosophy' (Book 2, on the scale of the number 10), which was major a source for many of their attributions. Neither were they (the plant/sephiroth attributions) limited to the GD, the same can be found in the cabalistic texts of the French esoteric schools (e.g., Qabalah by Papus).

Pico, Reuchlin and Ficino were among Agrippa's sources, and Paulo Ricci's translations of the SY and Portai Lucis, and he was also a friend of Paulo's brother Agostino Ricci, court astrologer and cabalist. He gave lectures on Reuchlin's De verbo mirifico in 1509, and underwent his occult studies under Johannes Trithemius, to whom he presented his early draft of 'Occult Philosophy' in 1510. He continued his occult studies in Italy where he resided for seven years between 1511 to 1518:
Thanks, Steve, for referring us to Agrippa. Yes, that is obviously where the Golden Dawn got its planetary attributions, including Bina as Saturn. Agrippa had even been translated into English, no need to know Latin. Now the question is, where did Agrippa get them from? Pico, as I said in my post, had Saturn as Hod and Bina as the Fixed Stars. I am not aware of planetary associations in Reuchlin or Paulo Ricci. I did not know about Paolo's brother, and I have not checked Harmonia Mundi or Pico's nephew. That would be worth doing.

In the Middle Ages, Jews as well as Christians seem to have had nothing but negative associations for Saturn. Trachtenberg, in Jewish Magic and Superstition, says (p. 252):
...tables were set up delineating the fields of influence of the heavenly bodies. Saturn governed poverty, wounds, illness death; Jupiter, life peace, joy , wealth, honor sovereignty; Mars, blood, the sword, evil, war, enmity envy, destruction; Venus, grace, beauty, passion, conception, fertility; Mercury, wisdom, intelligence, learning, trades and occupations; the sun, daily activities and sovereignty; the moon, growth and decay, good and evil.
Then under life expectancy, people in a house governed by Saturn get 57 years, compared to Jupiter's 79, Mars' 66, Venus's 22, the sun's 77, etc. (p. 253). The low number for Venus, I would think, is due to the death rate in childbirth. I suspect that the elevation of Saturn to the sphere of Binah was due to Ficino's influence on Alemanno.

Until such time I am shown otherwise, I conclude that Agrippa's source, either directly or through an intermediary, was most likely Alemanno or one of his students. Were the Laurencin in Turino by any chance of Jewish descent?

Your excerpt from the Stanford Encyclopedia (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/agrippa-nettesheim/) was of interest, too, for its remarks about Lazzarelli, author of the Crater Hermetis, especially:
His [Agrippa's] only citation of one of the major medieval Cabalistic treatises, Sefer Zohar, a book that he could not have read since it was not available in Latin, is lifted out of Crater Hermetis.
I am not aware of any citations from the Zohar in Crater Hermetis. If so, that is interesting. As far as I know, Lazzarelli in that work only cites the Sefer Yetzirah, famously confusing it with Eleazar of Worms' Commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah, in a passage he would probably have gotten from Alemanno. [Added later: for that matter, I cannot see any citation of the Zohar in Agrippa either. Tyson in his notes cites that book in explaining some of Agrippa's text, but not in a way that pinpoints it as his source. The translation of the Zohar Tyson quotes is invariably from Waite or Mathers.]

Now here is something else to chew on, namely, a post focusing on that passage in Eleazar.

ALEMANNO, THE SEFER YETZIRAH, AND THE TAROT

The reason I started focusing on Alemanno in the first place was that he seems to have written something having to do with Eleazar of Worms' commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah and somehow shared it with Lazzarelli.

I find in Idel's works only one passage in Eleazar's writings being cited by Alemanno. This is the famous passage where Eleazar gives a "recipe" for the creation of a golem, a magical anthropoid helper. It is the same passage that he, Scholem, and Hanegraaff have also related to Lazzarelli--similar idea, similar wording--leading to the hypothesis that Alemanno and Lazzarelli knew each other, c. 1470.

The theme of the golem--in medieval Christian writings the homunculus--is one that also appears in Florentine art at that time, notably in Baldini's (active from 1477, died 1487) engraving of Hermes Trismegistus, his Hermetic equivalent of Eleazar. Here is the relevant detail (from my post at viewtopic.php?f=14&t=566&start=70)
Image

Before Baldini, the same picture was in the Florentine Picture book, probably by Finiguerra (died 1464), http://www.chronologia.org/rare/florent ... C00741.JPG (which I get from http://www.chronologia.org/en/old_books ... icle2.html, 4th row, 3rd picture). And after, the
Grand Ettella" II and III's Magician card, http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WnpEK4wALpk/T ... /15all.jpg. Related to these depictions is Pico's 10th thesis on magic (quoted in Idel, 2011, p.182, from Farmer, Syncretism in the West pp. 498f):
What man the magus makes through art, nature made naturally in making man.


ALEMANNO AND ELEAZAR OF WORMS

So how does one use the Sefer Yetzirah to do such a thing as create an anthropoid who can do wonders? Idel deals with this topic, including Alemannno's contribution, in chapters 20 and 21 of Kabbalah in Italy (http://archive.org/stream/MosheIdelKabb ... y_djvu.txt). A quote specifically from Eleazar of Worms' Commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah is in Alemanno's Collectanaea a notebook of quotations from others with occasional comments of his own. To this particular quotation there are no comments; so Idel pays attention to what precedes and follows it. It differs slightly, but not significantly, from the quotation from Eleazar that is in Alemanno's book The Golem (p. 56 at http://books.google.com/books?id=WqFkSK ... &q&f=false). Idel says that Alemanno's version is "fuller" than that in the manuscripts of Eleazar, which are probably "deficient" (p. 424, n. 69).

Eleazar tells the Kabbalist to make a body from some virgin earth in the mountains and then pronounce the letters in order, permutated with the divine name IHV (YHVH in Alemanno's version, as given in Idel p. 253); these are 221 "gates" ("221 or 231" in Alemanno). Eleazar gives a table, Idel says without describing it (p. 56). Trachtenberg in Jewish Magic and Superstition 1939 (p. 85):
The formidable nature of the project is apparent from the merest glance at the twenty-three folio columns which the very involved combiantions of letters occupy. the "recipe" takes 23 folio pages of Hebrew text.
Eleazar also mentions, in the part Idel quotes, that in the Sefer Yetzirah the letters are associated with the limbs of the body. This makes sense, in the creation of an anthropoid. What is being done is the intellectual vivification of the body already shaped from earth, by vivifying its limbs. The first 11 letters create the golem, and the last 11 letters destroy it, Idel says in Golem, p. 58f (not in Google Books; I also read it somewhere else, but I can't find it at the moment).

ALLEMANO AND ABULAFIA

Abulafia elaborated on Eleazar's recipe, and there is a relevant quote from Abulafia's Hayyei ha-'Olam ha-Ba' in Alemanno's notebook on the folio just before the quotation from Eleazar. Here Abulafia seems to be opposing what must have been a popular conception in Sicily about golem-making, that the Kabbalist made a body that moved and did one's bidding (p. 239f, Idel's brackets):
The deed that is greatest of all deeds is to make souls, [this being] the secret: "And the souls they made in Haran" [Genesis 12:5]. l8 God has made man, literally, "in the likeness [bi-demut] of God He made him" [Genesis 5:1]. And this deed is, according to our opinion, the culmination of all good deeds. Therefore, every wise person ought to make souls much more than he ought [240] to make bodies, since the duty of making bodies is [solely] intended to make souls, and thereby man will imitate his maker, since the prophet said on the issue of the deed of God: "But the spirit and the soul which I have made should faint before me" [Isaiah 57:16]. This is the reason why the wise person, who comprehends something from the intelligibilia, must hand down as a true tradition what he has comprehended in accordance with his strength. 19
_______________
18. Genesis 12:5 occurs in several instances in the context of creating a Golem, especially in R. Eleazar of Worms' Commentary on Sefer Yetzirah. See Idel, Golem, p. 56.
19. Abraham Abulafia, Hayyei ha-'Olam ha-Ba', Ms. Oxford, Bodleiana 1582, fols. 5a-b, in the edition of Amnon Gross (Jerusalem, 1999), pp. 50-51.
By this reference to the handing down of tradition, it would seem that for Abulafia the most important "golem" is the transmission of certain vital knowledge from master to disciple. The "soul" is not someothing that all of us have at birth. This is clear, Idel says (p. 241), in another of Abulafia's works
The soul is a portion of the Divinity, and within it there are 231 gates [Yesh R'al], and it is called the 'congregation of Israel,' which collects and gathers into herself the entire community, under its power of intellect, which is called the 'supernal congregation of Israel,' the mother of providence, being the cause of the providence, the intermediary between us and God. This is the Torah, the result of the effluence of the twenty-two letters. Know that all the limbs of your body are combined by the combination of the forms of the letters with each other. 21
_________________
21. Abraham Abulafia, Sefer Sitrei Torah, Ms. Paris, BN 774, fol. 155b. See also Idel, Golem, p. 98.
Idel explains that the "congregation of Israel" is the Agent Intellect, an Averroist concept for "the cosmic spiritual power that governs the major processes in the sublunar world, in which all the forms are found". For Abulafia, pronouncing the letters brings down the divine energy from the Agent Intellect and also, from another point of view, elevates the Kabbalist. The golem is vivified on that level, which is where it gets its power to work magic and predict the future. The energy goes first into the Kabbalist and, in the act of speaking, out into the golem.

Notice that in what I just quoted, it is the Kabbalist's own limbs that are being combined in the uttering of the permutated letters. I would think that in pronouncing the letters the Kabbalist might also be associating them in his imagination with his various body parts, visualizing them from having memorized the relevant part of the Sefer Yetzirah. This spiritualizes the Kabbalist's own body as well as that of the golem.

Idel goes on to say that although Abulafia does not oppose the creation of something material, what is important is the creation of the form, demut (p. 241f).
we may infer from his formulation in the passage from Hayyei ha-'Olam ha-Ba' that the creation of an anthropoid that is a moving body, which is soulless, is — spiritually speaking — a meaningless activity; and in any case it is evidently inferior to the creation of the intellect of the mystic himself, by his reception of the intellectual influx as the result of the combination of the letters or the spiritual direction of his [242] masters. If nevertheless, the creation of the creature and the appearance of the image are posited at a higher level than the perception of the influx, which is a spiritual creation, it seems that we must understand the vision of the creature and image as basically a spiritual experience.
The anthropoid is then an intellectual or spiritual product, a kind of spiritual alter-ego of the Kabbalist. If so, then for the golem to be at the highest level, the person must be as well, at that moment. Idel says of Alemanno's view (p. 245f):
A perfect Golem may, therefore, be created by a perfect man who is in a state of perfect mystical union, namely in a state of union with the [246] Divine Intellect. ... The paramount importance of the contact between the mystic and the divine intellect is reminiscent of a view of Abraham Abulafia discussed above, that the process of creating a creature is preceded by the reception of the influx of wisdom. In both cases, intellectual perfection is considered a prerequisite to the creative process.
ALEMANNO AND ASTRAL MAGIC

Another element in Alemanno's amplification of Eleazar comes in a quote that he wrote in his notebook just after the one from Eleazar, allegedly from "Claudius Ptolemaeus" (p. 253f), along with an Arab commentator's remarks. These speak of how talismans bring down the efflux of the stars of which they are talismans. In a marginal comment, Alemanno writes,
...This is the secret of the world of the letters; 77 they are forms and seals [namely talismans] [made in order] to collect the supernal and spiritual emanation as the seals collect the emanations of the stars...
_______________
77. The phrase "world of the letters" is characteristic of Alemanno's thought, and it stands for a world lower than that of the sefirot and higher than that of the angels. See Moshe Idel, "The Epistle of Rabbi Yitzhaq of Pisa(?) in Its Three Versions," Qouetz Al Yad, n.s. 10 (1982), 177 n. 89 (Hebrew). It reflects the influence of R. Jacob ben Jacob [425] ha-Kohen, Abraham Abulafia, and Reuven Tzarfati. See also chap. 11 in this volume. This reification of language is part of the structure of thought that seeks to attribute magical powers to language, and is part of Alemanno's elevation of magic over mental contemplation.
In the footnote, "Rabbi Yitzhaq" is a son of the da Pisa of Lorenzo de' Medici's day, Idel tells us elsewhere in the book, and so probably one of his pupils. Reuven Tzarvati ("France" in Hebrew) is a another Kabbalist who wrote about golem-making.

What Alemanno is saying is that as in the case of talismans, pronouncing the letters brings down the energy of their associated astrological entity, which in turn comes from the letters or names themselves, as the super-celestial divine entities that existed before the creation of the universe. Idel comments (p. 254):
Alemanno proposes here a Jewish version of magic based upon the assumption that there is a world higher than the celestial spheres and angels, consisting of the forms of the creatures and conceived as the "world of the letters," or according to other parallels a "world of names," while here below it is possible to collect the emanation expanding from that reified linguistic world by using Hebrew letters or names that function as seals and talismans.
Idel in footnote 77 puts the "world of letters" below the sefirot. However I would think that the "world of names" would be precisely the world of the sefirot. Both sefirot and letters are dealt with in the Sefer Yetzirah. Alemanno seems to acknowledge this qualification later in the section, when discussing the body of the golem, which now, in this account of astral magic, does not seem to require any earth, but rather "the crystalization of the specific combination of the astral forces, upon which a form, apparently originating from the superastral world, descends". He continues (p 256f):
Thus the influx coming from both the supernal letters, astral forces and superastral ones — sefirotic, for [257] example — constitutes the anthropoid. Other passages in Alemanno make it clear that the superastral plane is the realm of the sefirot, which are conceived of as the forms of the letters, which function as their matter, exactly as in the passage above. 92 Alemanno's sequence, starting with mental operations and ending with mel'akhah, "operation," makes clear that mental engagement precedes the concrete result.
________________
92. See Alemanno, untitled treatise, Ms. Paris, BN 849, fols. 77a, 124b.
That the contrast is of the astral realm, of the astrologer, to the seferotic realm, of the Kabbalist, also seems implied by the following:
"The astrologer studies the movements and governance of the stars. In the same way the Kabbalist knows what will happen to people in the future by reference to the influence and efflux of the sefirot. This is in accordance with the activities and movements of those who perform the commandments and divine service. This method is superior to that of the astrologer." 30
About which Idel comments:
Thus kabbalistic study of the Torah is no longer seen as leading to preoccupation with the hidden processes of divinity. The Kabbalist, Idel says, has become a "superastrologer" who utilizes his knowledge to foresee the future. A similar conception is found in Pico's Theses, where we read: "Just as true astrology teaches us to read the books of God, so too does the Kabbalah teach us to read the books of the law." 31
____________________
30. Alemanno, Collectanea, Ms. Oxford, Bodleiana 2234, fol. 2b. For the medieval Jewish sources that influenced Alemanno see Idel, Absorbing Perfections, pp. 482-492.
31. Pico, Opera Omnia, p. 113: "Sicut vera Astrologia docet nos legere in libro Dei, ita
Cabbala docet nos legere in libro legis."
This quote from Pico, 11>72, is thesis number 900 in his book, the last one. By "book of God" (in the singular), Farmer tells us (p. 552), Pico means nature, including the stars, to which the Torah (as read by the Kabbalist) is superior; in fact it is what allows for "true astrology".

By predicting the future, it is not clear whether that means general trends, in the way a prophet would address the people of Israel, or information about what specific humans will choose. The latter would seem to enfinge upon free will. I assume that the predictions are the same as in astrology, i.e. "propitious" days, choices, etc. Also it is not clear how the sefirot connect to the stars. Is it as said in the Sefer Yetzirah, or something else, of which the correlation of Binah to Saturn is a part (which has a different correspondence)? And how do ten become twenty-two? This last, I think, was probably by way of how the sefirot were configured, with lines connecting them. The Sefer Yetzirah has one group of 3, one group of 7, and one group of 12. That would become 3 horizontal lines, 7 diagonals, and 12 verticals, resulting in 22 pairs of numbers from 1 to 10. But the earliest verification of that schema is in Cordovero, Safed, second quarter of the 16th century.

ALEMANNO AND ALCHEMY

Alemanno also has a quasi-alchemical way of describing the process (pp. 255f), this time in his own voice, in his Desire of Solomon (written when he was in Florence with Pico). (That Alemanno took alchemy quite seriously is evident from his study program, which recommends "the books on alchemy by the philosophers called Turban [sic] Philosophorum" (Idel 2011 p. 341).) Materials from the four elements, in proportions corresponding to male semen and female menstrual blood, are combined and subjected to heat, resulting in the creation of a man. In the case of the recitation of the letters, the letters are the materials combined in the proper proportions, and the result is also a living creature, an animal or a man depending on how the elements are combined (p. 255):
..So is the thing according to the prophet who knows the plain meaning of the spiritual forces [peshutei ha-kohot ha-ruhaniyyot], 85 which correspond to the level of the elements in relationship to the forms that dwell upon matters; [the prophet] called them letters, 86 as it is explained in Sefer Yetzirah, and he knew afterward how to permute them and combine them with each other, in such a manner that an animal form or a human one would emerge in actu. This is a wondrous wisdom, unsurpassed, from which all the mighty wonders come..
The specific animal mentioned, from a biblical passage, is a "three year old calf". However Alemanno also speaks of the golden calf, which he holds was created by Moses in order to bring down divine energy. In this case a metallic material holds the energy and forms. Idel then comments (p. 256):
The combinations of the letters as discussed in Sefer Yetzirah are presented here as the key to understanding three apparently diverse issues: the creation of the world by means of letters, the attainment of prophecy, and the creation of the form of an artificial calf or a man.
I do not understand what letter combinations Idel is referring to as the "key to understanding". Looking in the Short Version (Kaplan, Sefer Yetzirah, 261ff), all I find are the six combinations of YHV, associated with the six directions and with six of the sefirot (I'm not sure which). So are they those, or are they the 22 letters whose combinations make up the Torah? Probably the latter. In any case, Idel finds the same conception in Lazzarelli's Krater Hermetis--expressed, however, in a Christian and Hermetic framework (pp. 257-260; since it is all available online, I am not going to repeat it here). Many parts of Lazzarelli's wording correspond uniquely to Eleazar of Worms' account, mostly in the way it appears in Alemanno's Collectaeana. And more amazing still:
Lazzarelli presents the whole process as the new, spiritual birth of Ferdinand, the king of Aragon. This spiritualization of the understanding of the Golem creation seems to be influenced by Yohanan Alemanno's implicit interpretation of the recipe of R. Eleazar of Worms, using the magical astral magic on one hand, and of the spiritual understanding of the significance of the creation of the Golem as it appears in ecstatic Kabbalah.
This spiritualization of the golem, as the soul being created in the king (Ferdinand of Naples, with whom Lazzarelli dialogues throughout the Crater Hermetis) corresponds to that of Abulafia's Hayyei ha-'OIam ha-Ba', in the passage from that work (discussed above) that Alemanno had copied into his notebook just before his quote from Eleazar. This close correspondence suggests that the ideas inducing Alemanno to write down the quotes in his notebook come from the period around 1470, when Alemanno and Lazzarelli were both in the same places, Padua and Venice.

GOLEMS AND THE TAROT

Now I want to turn to the tarot. How could this procedure be extended to incorporate tarot cards? Cards didn't exist when Eleazar wrote his treatise, obviously, so they weren't needed then. But how would they even help? They do not depict body parts in particular or, for the most part, astrological entities. They seem not only unnecessary but distracting, because the images on them are from a different belief-system.

I can only think of one possibility, but it is rather crazy. Could a deck of cards, 22 or 36 or 52 or 78 (to list the most popular) itself be a golem? There are two difficulties.

(1) Not even the Golden Dawn mumbles 23 manuscript pages letter-combinations, or even 221 three-letter ones, before beginning a reading. But perhaps it only needs to be done once, when breaking in a new deck, and then it has to perform upon command, like Prospero's Ariel in Shakespeare's The Tempest. But I have never heard of anything remotely like that with tarot.

Perhaps that's too extreme. Maybe only a simple ceremony is required, not too hard to master, because it is the system, constructed by people who are on a sefirotic level, that makes the deck a golem, not the person.

With the I-Ching, that it works would might be be the system, one pervaded by symmetry and wisdom. But some people say that the hexagrams have to be chosen in the historically correct way. That would be the golem-making ceremony, not as complex as Eleazar's but at least something. When a lot-book has you go through an involved procedure to arrive at a particular number corresponding to a certain verse, that is a kind of golem-making procedure, too. A lot book may not be as spiritual as Alemanno would like, but golems had other uses, and a spiritual message can be infused even there.

Before the cards are turned up in a reading, there is a set ritual to be performed, some of it by the reader and some of it by the consultant. That might count as a golem-making ritual.

And like the I Ching, the tarot sequence might be pre-wired for wisdom in an orderly way. I see it as repeating a pattern that is found in many Western works of art, one version of the "hero's journey". Huck finds a kind of magic, or something, in its numerical configuration, something I don't quite understand. The Kabbalists, too, saw magic in numbers, counting the number of letters in a word or words in a verse and then looking for equivalences elsewhere in scripture. it was called gematria.

(2) Assuming you've made the deck into a golem, there is still the problem of its "speech". The deck just sits there quite passively. Even if you construe the cards in the reading as its "words", it isn't the one "saying" them, it's the consultant who picks them out, blindly. One would have to say that somehow the deck, or something (e.g. a demon) puts a spell on the consultant so that he or she will pick the proper cards.

Then there is the problem of interpreting these "words". How does the reader know what they say? If you suppose some magical communion between the deck and the spread-reader, then why bother with the cards at all? The reader could just as well put his or her hands on the deck and let the cards speak through him or her without any "spread".

But perhaps that is too difficult; even Eleazar's golem speaks in Hebrew. The words of the deck-golem are the cards of the spread, perhaps arranged in some sort of syntax. But what is its language? From the perspective of the golem texts, it would seem to be the Sefer Yetzirah that gives the meanings, astrologically and anatomically (body parts). These are what the letters are connected to, and above them the sefirot. If the golem is on the same level of wisdom as his Kabbalist creator, then these will be known by both. It doesn't really matter what is on is on the cards, as long as there is some systematic way of correlating a card with a Hebrew letter. Since the trumps are arranged in a numerical sequence, even the Fool if it is zero, there is no problem. It is an easy code, known by all. The only question is whether alpha is low or high, and maybe where the Fool goes. The pictures merely serve as identifiers, if there are no numbers on the cards; they play no other role in the golem's speech. They certainly do play a role in the use of tarot cards, because, after all, the cards were created some time before to play a trick-taking game. But if they are in a sequence of 22, they also can be used as material for a golem.

Most people, of course, are not Kabbalist rabbis of the late 15th century. So there is the problem of adapting the system to non-Kabbalists. The Renaissance was nothing if not eclectic, as we are today. For people not steeped in Kabbalah, there would be the picture on the card and its place in the sequence. To understand the golem's speech, however, one would have to know the meanings of his words, i.e. the cards. This is familiar quadmire of "discovering the meanings of the cards".

Perhaps our golem speaks whatever language we do: if we are Crowlians, it speaks Crowley; if we're Catholics, it's holier than the Pope, and so on. There are different ways of connecting to the realm of prophecy; Hebrew and Kabbalah are just one.

On the other hand, perhaps it has its own language, or code. If not that of the Sefer Yetzirah, or if the reader doesn't know the Kabbalah sufficiently, without the patience to do all the right invocations first, how is one to discover it?

In our everyday world, if we don't speak someone's language or code, we make guesses based on what we can recognize from our own experience: the tone, the gestures, the context, similar words in our language, etc. and then hope the person will somehow let us know if we are right. In this process, gestures are the most important. Italians would know all about that; before the late 19th century, every part of Italy had a different dialect, so different that they could not understand each other very well.So they used gestures; Italy is famous for its gestures. Even today Italians "talk with their hands" more than other nations; they create pictures of what they are saying. We would do that in giving someone directions. If I'm in a museum near closing time, and a buzzer sounds, along with something incomprehensible in a foreign language, and I look bewildered while the guard glares at me, if he points straight ahead, and then to the left, I might be able figure out that he meant that to exit I should go straight and then left (I speak from experience here). Then if I actually got out with no further assistance, the guard would know I understood and might even look pleased with me. Is that how it works? But how does the deck make gestures and let us know we understood? Well, the pictures on the cards are something like gestures, and their context of use (mine and in the past) is something like my situation of being in a museum confronted by a guard. I need to know something important for my future actions in each case. (Here I assume that the deck wants to be helpful in its divinations.) If my understanding of the deck's message is in fact helpful to the consultant as a rule, given a particular question and the particular consultant, then maybe I've understood.

It may well be that one or more of these alternatives--cards as letters of the Sefer Yetzirah, or cards as pictures in a sequence, are in fact why people bother with cartomancy. If so, the deck might indeed be thought of as a kind of golem.

There are other Jewish magical alternatives. I do not find them in Idel or in Alemanno, at least not in Idel's presentation of him, but I do in Trachtenberg's Jewish Magic and Superstition. For one, there were Jewish lot-books. He says that they, like the Christian ones, were of Arabian origin, and are recorded mainly in Southern Europe and the Orient. Probably they were in Northern Europe, too. He adds (p. 217):
These works comprised sets of rules for finding answers to specified questions by means of the twelve signs of the Ziodiac, the twenty-two letters of the alphabet, the names of the twelve tribes, animals, birds, cosmic phenomena, etc. 18
(I am not giving the footnote here because the many references apply to a long paragraph of practices, many of which do not apply to the sentence here.) Using such lot-books involved rolling dice, flipping coins, or other means of releasing the human will from determining the outcome. But why should one expect these to work?

Trachtenberg explains that God was thought to communicate warnings and encouragements by means of events in the physical universe (p. 209). He sends us dark skies to warn us of rain to come, for example. So also he gives us comets to warn of disasters, and conjunctions of favorable planets to tell us things look good; these last can be predicted ahead of time. It is a matter of knowing how to read the signs, from present signs to future events. And just as man has dogs that bark when strangers approach but not friends, God has angels who give us signs; it is only a matter of knowing how to read them. In the case of lot books, we have a procedure for enabling angels to give us particular signs for particular questions. Once we know what questions to ask and how to read the signs, we give the angels an opportunity to help us. They can use the letter code of the Sefer Yetzirah or they can use the pictures on the cards.

A problem is that there are demons as well as angels, beings who give us signs that are not to our benefit. Even if they do predict the future accurately, they are leading one down the wrong path. Here is where Eleazar of Worms comes in again. The context is a different kind of divination, in which children are asked to stare in a bowl of water or oil, or some sort of reflective surface, and say what they see (Trachtenberg p. 220)' this was done by Jews and gentiles alike. Some boys see nothing, but others see what looks to them like persons; they are considered to be people's "deputy angels", who can be compelled to look just like them; the Jewish writers called them "princes". They can be made to re-enact what the person has done; so if the child sees the "prince" stealing something, that means the corresponding person is a thief. They can also be made to say where the goods are hidden. Many rabbis cautioned that these figures were demons and not to be trusted; but not Eleazar (p. 222):
...Eleazar of Worms, however, insisted that they were angels, the memunim of celestial deputies, who could be compelled to appear in the shape of their earthly doubles by the proper invocations. The memuneh of a thief, summoned to show himself in a polished surface, thus gave away the identity of the malefactor, and re-enacted his acions at the time of the robbery. But R. Eleazar was not prepared to admit that the child actually beholds these "princes" in physical form, which was the view of one school of "philosophers." Other philosophers hold, he wrote, that these visions are hallucinations, with which demons and angels have the power to delude men. Still a third group maintains that the angels penetrate the minds of men and so shape their thoughts as to create a true picture, which, although it is not perceived through the senses, possesses nevertheless subjective reality. This last corresponds to his own view of the matter. 28.
____________
28. See references at the end of note 25. [for this part, Eleazar of Worms, Hochmat HaNefesh, 16d, 18a, 20c, 28d, 29a.]
It is in this fashion that the angels help the tarot-reader, not directly by forming the pictures in his or her mind, but by means of the cards that they induce the consultant to pick.

There might be a modern equivalent of golems, angels, and demons, namely, the so-called unconscious mind. Our unconscious mind processes a vast amount of material taken in by the senses that does not come to conscious awareness. At night when we are asleep the brain processes even more, and we are even less aware. Some of it comes up as dreams, according to some psychologists. Since the unconscious takes in more material than our conscious mind, which is necessarily focused on particular ways of getting things done, the unconscious can sometimes suggest valuable perspectives that consciousness does not. For example, people go to bed with an unsolved mathematical problem and wake up with the answer, sometimes even given in a dream. So instead of an angel, we have the unconscious, who can speak to us in dreams, but now, after the invention of the tarot sequence, also in card-images.

Medieval Jewish dream-interpretation was a much refined art. Long handbooks were compiled, of which he says the most famous one was by Solomon b. Jacob Almoli, Salonica c. 1515, summing up the previous centuries. Of it he says(p. 238):
His book became very popular and in 1694 was translated into Yiddish, in which form it still has a wide circulation among the Jewish masses.
This is one of those places when you really remember when Trachtenberg was writing, just before 1939. With the book, people could interpret the angels' messages about their future. Trachtenberg says that even though it came from Salonica, the Northern European writings covering dream interpretation, like Eleazar's Hochmat HaNefesh, were similar (p. 238). Some of what Trachtenberg summarizes seems quite arbitrary; some of it seems to come from outside influences, pagan or Christian; some of it reflects prejudice (e.g. against women and animals); and some of it is psychologically astute. Dream symbolism was considered as a kind of ad hoc sign language, as people might use who spoke different languages (p. 235f). It was important to distinguish significant from insignificant dreams and details within dreams, and not to apply the interpretations mechanically, but to fit them to the person's situation and character. If one had an ominous dream, one way to neutralize its prediction was to act it out in real life (further refined, this is a common anxiety-reduction technique today); e.g. if one dreamed of carrying a bird at one's bosom and then having it escape and fly away, then to keep one's child from dying (the interpretation) one had to carry a bird and let it escape out the window (p. 244f). Fasting and then thinking positively about the dream was also recommended, as was reciting bible verses suggested by the dream-images (pp. 244-248). In a way, these dream manuals are a predecessor to modern dream analysis books, especially of the Jungian variety.

There is a problem, however. The unconscious presumably constructs the dream images from the perspective of the totality of the person's experiences, compensating for the poverty of the person's necessarily focused perspective when awake. However the card-images are chosen without the person seeing the fronts of the cards. How could the unconscious know what cards to select in order to express the perspective it wants? For the unconscious to process something, the person at least has to have taken in the information. But from the backs of cards it can get nothing.

I can think of two types of answer. One is to say that there is a kind of charge on the card uniquely communicating the picture and its message even when the person can only see the back, and that charge draws the person unconsciously to the right card. It has this charge because of the standardized imagery in it, from a long history of collective use. We can't measure that charge, to be sure, but it's there all the same.

The second approach is to say that the unconscious works acausally through what Jung calls "synchronicity". Nothing causes it to pick a particular card. It works on a different level, beyond the experiential categories of time, space, and causality. That is the Jungian equivalent of a level beyond the stars, in the realm of the sefirot. In a recent article (unfortunately still only in Italian) Andrea Vitale has developed in his way both these ideas, in relation to his own experience and the psychological literature (http://www.letarot.it/page.aspx?id=467). There is also a nice set of Conclusiones in Pico's 900 Theses, the section on magic (Farmer p. 501):
9>16. That nature that is the horizon of eternal time is next to the magus, but below him.

9>17. Magic is proper to the nature of that which is the horizon of time and eternity, from whence it should be sought through the modes known to the wise.

9>18. The nature of that which is the horizon of temporal eternity is next to the magus, but above him, and proper to it is the Cabala.
That is a properly enigmatic trio of sentences.

However the right cards are chosen, there remains the problem of how to interpret the cards thus chosen. Is it only their conventional meaning? In the dream interpretation manuals, the images' interpretation was usually different, in greater or lesser degree (the more important the dream, the more different) from that of the image (p. 239) :
wheat signifies peace...barley, atonement for sins; laden vines, his wife will not miscarry; white grapes are a good omen; black grapes in season are good, but out of season they indicate he will soon be praying for mercy; ...a white horse is a good omen; a red horse is bad, he will be hounded and pursued; a donkey, he may be confident of salvation; ...if he dreams he has lost his property, an inheritance will soon come his way; if he is on a roof, he will achieve greatness; if he is descending, he will be humbled", etc.
Eleazar of Worms is similar. Here are a few: "if a man dreams he has a pain in one eye, his brother will fall ill"; "if he sees a king, or a wedding celebration, or any celebration, he will soon be a mourner; dividing meat means a quarrel; fire in an oven signifies evil events; snow in summer a fire" and so on. As with Freud and Jung, the manifest and latent meanings were often (in important dreams) different. But it depended on the dream. Some dreams merely depicted conscious concerns of the dreamer of the day before and so were as straightforward as they were insignificant It took an expert to know how to draw the proper distinctions, and good interpreters were paid accordingly.

In the Renaissance, paintings achieved their dream-like effect by being enigmatic; yet in most cases plausible solutions to the enigmas have been found. The tarot sequence has been said both to be an enigma and a hodge-podge. A Kabbalist would have opted for enigma. If Kabbalists could interpret dreams, they might be qualified to interpret tarot images, too. But how would that have been possible, given all the Christian symbolism on the cards? There are some 15th century clues I intend to explore in another post.

Re: Jewish-Christian interactions in Italy before 1500

#30
mikeh wrote: Your excerpt from the Stanford Encyclopedia (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/agrippa-nettesheim/) was of interest, too, for its remarks about Lazzarelli, author of the Crater Hermetis, especially:
His [Agrippa's] only citation of one of the major medieval Cabalistic treatises, Sefer Zohar, a book that he could not have read since it was not available in Latin, is lifted out of Crater Hermetis.
I am not aware of any citations from the Zohar in Crater Hermetis. If so, that is interesting. As far as I know, Lazzarelli in that work only cites the Sefer Yetzirah, famously confusing it with Eleazar of Worms' Commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah, in a passage he would probably have gotten from Alemanno. [Added later: for that matter, I cannot see any citation of the Zohar in Agrippa either. Tyson in his notes cites that book in explaining some of Agrippa's text, but not in a way that pinpoints it as his source. The translation of the Zohar Tyson quotes is invariably from Waite or Mathers.]
Does it specifically say it is in Occult Philosophy? More likely in De homine. I think it a quote that Agrippa takes without attribution from CH, which Lazarelli attibutes (wrongly or rightly) to the zohar.

quote

66. Agrippa, De homine , 54v–56v, ed. Zambelli, 301–2. Compare this passage with Lazzarelli, Crater
, 15.2–3 and 16.1–2. On the Zohar passage, see edition of the Crater in Hanegraaff and Bouthoorn, Lodovico Lazzarelli , 217 and n. 126; so far, attempts to find the passage in the Zohar have remained unsuccessful.

note 66, page 19 from here:
http://www.academia.edu/1170523/Better_ ... etism_2009_

Also found this google 'snippet'

“Crater Hermetis 30.3, which opposes the magical arts or “names of impurity” (Scemoth Sceltoma) against the divine secrets of the kabbalah, correctly paraphrases the contents of the Zohar 1.100a (and cf 1.133b).”

(The cabaslist friend of Agrippa, Agostini Ricci was court astrologer for the Marquis de Monferrato (and later physician to Pope Paul II), to whom Agrippa dedicated his Dialogus de Homine. In his own works, Agostini cites the Zohar and the Bahir. He also identifies the heavens (spheres of astrology) with the sephiroth.)
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

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