Re: Le Tarot arithmologique - la séquence 1+4+7+10 = 22

Well, now I have read the links you provided, Alain, and I have more questions. Your French version of the "celestial harmony" in one link is very different from the English and Italian version in the other link. The French version is much shorter, kind of a stripped down version. You say it is as yet unrevised, to incorporate the latest discoveries. It seems to me that both versions need to be revised. The version in French is too short, skipping over things; the version in Italian and English a bit murky, but not skipping over things. And both have questionable aspects. It is not a question of "discoveries"; it is a question of perspective.

The one in English/Italian talks about the origin of the suit-symbols. I think the reference to the Roman Aes, based on Andrea's essay on that ( is weak, because we don't know that the suit symbols originated in any area of the ancient Roman Empire. If they originated in Persia or Central Asia, they are not Roman. Still, it's an interesting idea.

Then there are a couple of sections, in the Italian/English, that bring in arithmology, pertaining to both 6 (Petrarch) and 22 (tarot). I think this is important to keep in; but the part on 6 is not stated quite right, not like Augustine (City of God XI.30) or Grosseteste (Hexaemeron XI.1.1)

The other thing is certain key cards in the sequence. The Bagat may represent an ordinary man, but there is something about the image of the Bagat in particular that makes him particularly in need of guidance. All he does is create illusions. This is very entertaining, but what about truth? That is what leads to the guides, secular and temporal.

Then there is the Popess. Andrea started his essay on her with a picture of Wisdom from the Book of Proverbs, with all the right attributes, even closer than the Giotto. As a guide, she is also God's Wisdom. There may be illusion there, too, since the preacher says "what the faith denies". What everyone likes about the tarot cards is their mysteriousness. Let's not do away with that.

Then there is Love. Petrarch presents Love in a negative light. The tarot doesn't do that. Love has its positive side, too, and even its divine side, as in the flash of light around Cupid that we see first in the Ferrara printed version

Then the Chariot. I cannot see that it represents the Nemean lion, or the lust for power triumphant, so that it can be overcome by Fortitude. Or at least, not only that. Many of the early Chariot cards feature women. The one in Ferrara has a male/female couple, with a putto at the reins. In many sequences the Chariot comes after the virtue cards, even all of them. Does that mean that power triumphs over the virtues? I don't think so; that would be too cynical. Naples in 1442 had a triumph of the seven virtues in its parade. I think the Chariot is mainly virtue triumphant. And it doesn't triumph over the cards before it, it is rather just the next step in a sequence, of which the virtues, temperance, wisdom, the Emperors the Popes, and perhaps others, are the basis. In that case, Fortitude is next (when it is) because when virtue triumphs, the danger is that it will fall from virtue, succumb to temptation. Fortitude is next so as to steel the soul against such a danger. And especially in the face of the next card, the Wheel, there is the danger of falling. In the C order Justice is next: another danger of the triumphator is a fall into injustice. Fortitude can even be after the Wheel, as what is needed after a fall from the heights, when there is even more temptation (as in the Hanged Man paintings of 1440, depicting the Florentines who had been exiled and joined the Milanese).

I come to the Hanged Man. He isn't just someone who has fallen into sin: he is guilty of betrayal. He has betrayed a pact he has made, with God perhaps, or maybe just his earthly representatives. He retains a certain mystery.

Then there is Temperance, when put after Death. That is quite mysterious. What does it have to do with Death? I do not think we can just throw out a whole tradition as somehow defective. This order is suggested as early as the Cary Sheet. There is a mystery here.

The Devil is invariably shown standing up, usually wielding a pitchfork, sometimes walking, sometimes grabbing, not usually in the center of the earth. Devils were shown everywhere in the time in question; they flew around in the sky, grabbing souls, and they grabbed them from where they were standing on the ground. Piscina put the demons in the air. That is a good place for them to be, just below the Fire.

About the Star card, both the A and B orders tend to show it above the three wise men. And even Venus doesn't have two jugs. It is a variety of things, all on a similar theme.

The Celestial Harmony seems to me primarily a mystery. They had mystery plays, too, with all sorts of gadgets working outside of view. When I look up in the night sky away from city lights, I am filled with wonder. How? Why? The divine is meant to fill us with wonder. I'd like to see our analysis of the tarot reflect that wonder, or at least some its mystery.

I have another version of this post that is more concrete in its proposals. But I wanted to get the general idea out first, plus any reactions.

Re: Le Tarot arithmologique - la séquence 1+4+7+10 = 22


This is why I believe some rewording (little or important) is necessary.

I also believe that the two actual versions : the French one written 10 years ago and the Italian / English ones already with more material on line on Le Tarot site - if of interest- needed some updating with latest "discoveries" as says Vitali or "perpectives" as you suggest.

So as not to loose time, Vitali forwarded to me a few days ago the Italian and English versions about two sections at work revised by himself.

So two beta sections are now updated in Italian and English

L' Harmonie céleste ... sp=sharing

Tarot et cartomancie ... sp=sharing

About your post.

Vitali is the one to whom can be adressed the suggestions and remarks about these beta revised sections.
(I think private mails)

Added now:
I am open to your practical suggestions.
You wrote :
"I have another version of this post that is more concrete in its proposals. But I wanted to get the general idea out first, plus any reactions."
Yes, I intend -eventually- to insert them in Notes, but not in the corpus of the text who is within the intellectual propriety of Andrea... ... Biographie

Re:The numerology of 13

Ross Caldwell has an excellent little piece on the number 13 and the tarot Death card ( ... -card.html), which MM Filesi drew attention to at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=552&p=9985&hilit=unlucky#p7948. I always found it convincing but don't any longer, at least in the crucial part, on whether a prior association with death caused the placement of the Death card as 13 in the sequence, as opposed to the other way around.

There are no unlucky associations in Pythagoreanism that I can find. 13 is 10 plus 3, the Decalogue plus the Trinity, in Christian terms, nothing luckier. And as Ross says, the early Church associated the number 13 with Epiphany, i.e. the incarnation of Christ. So for humanity it was a lucky number, even if the one who drew it was crucified.

Montaigne, in the first recorded instance of 13's clearly being unlucky, c. 1585, didn't want there to be 13 sitting down at a table to eat. It was part of a list of old traditions that seemed to be superstitions but perhaps had something to them. One would think it inspired by the Last Supper, which had 13 people until Judas left.

However this fact about the Last Supper was known throughout Christendom, and in Italy, the most Catholic of all, there has been no trace of 13 being unlucky until recently, as Ross pointed out.

More important, I think, was Baron's "Lancelot of the Lake", in which a 13th seat was set at the Round Table, for which the story was that anyone who sat at it met death. Also, in the Modena Perceval it was sometimes said to be the seat of "notre sire". "our lord", and sometimes that of Judas (see Ross's essay). In Boron's version Perceval did sit at it, the man who would one day find the Grail ( Later versions substituted Galahad. Both were savior figures. Whether either met death is a matter of how one interprets the allegory. They entered the Grail Castle never to be seen again.

The Arthurian romances were very popular among the Visconti and Sforza in Milan, the Gonzaga of Mantua and the Estense of Ferrara. Filippo Visconti reportedly had Pisanello do chivalric frescoes in Pavia in 1424 and assigned the Bembo workshop the job of illustrating a Lancelot book in the 1440s. The Gonzaga had Pisanello do a fresco series on chivalric themes in the 1440s. A Modena Perceval, would surely be in the Estense Library there, transferred from Ferrara. In Ferrara Boiardo wrote the Orlando Enamorato, and Ariosto the Orlando Furioso, as satires on these stories. I would expect that the practice of assigning Death to 13 in the tarot happened at one of those places. In Florence and Bologna Death was 14th, with the Hanged Man as 13th. So in Florence and Bologna they stopped giving the Bagat a number, and Love became 5.

After that, the tarot helped spread the word about the unluckiness of 13. But it was in France where this happened, rather than Italy. There the Arthurian stories, written in French, were much more popular than in Italy. So 13 as unlucky wold have had less of a following in Italy than in Montaigne's France. Its origin would be the Grail stories, with their connection to the Last Supper, also explaining the placement of Death at 13 in the tarot.

Re: Le Tarot arithmologique - la séquence 1+4+7+10 = 22

H Mikeh

1. About Death
There is also an important connection between Death and Time clear in the iconography of Death in the pseudo Charles VI : the "sickle" of Time - "Le Temps destructeur en relation avec la Mort"
Saturne / Chronos / Death


Tarot dit de Charles VI : La Mort
Fin du XVe siècle
Peinture a tempera à l'œuf, sur un dessin préparatoire à l'encre noire de type sépia ; décor de rinceaux estampés, après fixation de feuille d'or et d'argent sur une couche d'assiette, déposée sur un support de papier ; dos blancs unis. Papier en plusieurs couches avec rabats à l'italienne dont certains sont rognés. La partie du dessin dissimulée par les rabats réalisés après, a été redessinée. Dix-sept cartes : 180/185 x 90/95 mm.
Paris, BNF, Estampes, Rés. Kh 24

"La Mort, squelette décharné revêtu d'une tunique retenue à la taille par une écharpe blanche à volutes, le crâne ceint d'un turban de même couleur, chevauche un coursier noir. Elle brandit son attribut, la faux, dont le manche, au premier plan, crée la profondeur. Le cheval franchit la "barrière" de la carte, débordant le cadre. L'artiste se souciait davantage de l'effet impressionnant de l'ensemble que de son dessin initial. Dans sa fougue, l'animal escalade cinq défunts, un pape, un évêque, deux cardinaux, un roi, allusion à la vanité des grandeurs humaines.
L'arme menaçante, la faux, fut empruntée à Saturne, qui, avec cet attribut, figure le temps. Ce dieu agraire des Latins, dont le règne d'abondance et de paix correspondit à l'âge d'or, était représenté à l'origine avec une faucille. Dès la période romaine classique, il fut assimilé au dieu grec Cronos, puis au temps Chronos. L'homonymie des termes fut, semble-t-il, à l'origine de cette confusion. Macrobe (début du Ve siècle) dans les Saturnalia, donna à la faucille une autre signification : "certains pensent que la faucille lui a été attribuée parce que le temps fauche tout" (I, 8). La faucille se transforma en faux au cours du Moyen Âge, et devint le symbole d'un pouvoir destructeur, celui de la mort. Elle resta aussi l'attribut du Temps, auxiliaire de la Mort.
Le cheval est une référence aux quatre cavaliers de l'Apocalypse, dont l'un symbolise la mort. Celle-ci est l'une des fins dernières de l'homme avant le Jugement dernier, le paradis où l'enfer."

Quant au thème du Temps destructeur en relation avec la Mort, il est est déjà présent dans le Sablier de l' Ermite :

"Vieillard à longue barbe, revêtu d'une cape, l'Ermite désigne d'une main un sablier qu'il tient de l'autre. Cette iconographie est semblable à celle de L'Ermite des tarots peints pour la famille Visconti-Sforza. Le sablier est l'emblème du temps qui s'écoule et celui de la durée de l'existence terrestre. L'Ermite est une représentation du temps destructeur, en relation avec la mort. Celle-ci est souvent figurée brandissant le même attribut, auprès d'une jeune fille, d'un couple d'amoureux, d'un chevalier. Le temps, la mort, sont des thèmes très prisés aux XVe et au XVIe siècles. La société exprime ainsi son angoisse devant l'inexorabilité du sort, les guerres, les épidémies, les famines qui déciment alors la population. Le sablier apparut dans l'art lorsque les artistes eurent à illustrer Les Triomphes de Pétrarque où le Temps triomphe de la Renommée. En Allemagne, il fut utilisé dans des thèmes divers. Dürer en fit l'un de ses symboles en l'associant à ses trois œuvres majeures, testament spirituel de l'artiste : Saint Jérôme dans sa cellule, Le Chevalier, la Mort et le diable, et Mélancolia."

2. About the hanged Man and Chivalry, the pseudo Charles VI iconographical analys of the BnF Exhibit is also of interest :
"Le personnage est pendu par un pied à un portique constitué de branches d'arbre. La corde s'enroule autour de sa cheville. L'une de ses jambes est repliée. Il tient dans chaque main une bourse débordant de pièces d'or, sans doute butin d'une trahison et cause de sa punition. Ce châtiment était infligé au chevalier parjure, qui était pendu et battu. S'il survivait, il était représenté dans cette posture. Cette sanction existait en Italie, en Allemagne et en Écosse. Dans le tarot florentin, ll minchiate, Le Pendu est figuré également avec deux sacs de monnaie dans les mains."

Nota : About the pseudo Charles VI : viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1154#p18644 ... Biographie

Re: Le Tarot arithmologique - la séquence 1+4+7+10 = 22

Alain, in my complaint about Andrea, I was concerned with the age-old problem of how the sequence fits together as a whole. Andrea does it well, but I think it can be improved. What he already has in the exhibition catalog should stand as it is, as a historical document available on the web and dated whenever he wrote it. About improving it, there is especially the problem of how to capture the effect on the "mystical staircase" of the numerous variations in the cards, both in the order and what is depicted and the numerous ways it can be interpreted. Also I would emphasize the "mystery" in "mystical". Also there is the issue of how the allegories play out in a trick-taking game, where the word "triumph" has a very practical application. It is not the same as the "staircase" idea. The two ideas reciprocally interact. "Triumph" as in Petrarch is no longer the basic organizing principle, however naturally it applies, but it inserts itself where it can.

Here is a draft of how Andrea's piece could be expanded in the way I have in mind. It is no doubt too long. But I wanted to say my piece. I am utilize much of Andrea's wording, without quoting him, to my own purpose. And where I do quote him, he doesn't need adapting.

The game of Tarot [Tarocchi, in Italian], originally known as trionfi, was invented sometime before its first known mention in 1440, when a notary's diary mentioned the purchase of a hand-painted pack from Florence to be sent to Rimini ( The name-change is first recorded in 1505, first in Ferrara (tarochi, in June), and then Avignon (taraux, in December) (, ... ?pw=taraux). [This paragraph replaces my original sentence "The game of Tarot [Tarocchi, in Italian],sometime before 1440, when the first known mention of the deck is found in a notary's diary about the purchase of a hand-painted pack to be sent to Rimini.]

Before the tarot, there was the ordinary deck of cards, with four suits of equal value. How they came to Europe is not known precisely, but earlier cards with similar suit-signs have been traced to the Mamluks, a military caste that had seized power in Egypt. Originally they had been slaves from the area east of the Black Sea (see Wikipedia), neither Arab nor Muslim. The Mamluk decks had three court cards, all male (see, whereas Europeans some of the time added female equivalents in one or more ranks. In the 15th century, starting with 56 regular cards, 22 allegorical cards were added in a separate hierarchy whose scenes reflected the cultural values of 15th century Italy. In the world-view of that time, there was a natural order that governed the stars, the planets, and the earth, including humanity. To live well was to live in accord with that order. The order is in the cards, even where there is disorder.

The name given to the new allegorical cards, and to the pack as a whole, "trionfi", immediately suggests Petrarch’s well-known poem Il Trionfi, "The Triumphs". The fourteenth century Italian poet had described six principal forces which govern humanity and assigned a hierarchical value to each, toward human perfection. Medieval numerology saw in the number Six a number of perfection; thus Robert Grosseteste proclaimed, "As Augustine says, it is not that the number six is perfect because God completed his work in six days, but that he completed his works in six days because the number six is perfect" (Hexaemeron XI.1.1, referring to City of God XI.30). In ancient numerology, a perfect number was one whose divisors added up to the number itself, as in the case of 1 + 2 + 3 = 6. As the Bible said of God, "thou hast ordered all things in measure and number and weight" (Wis. Sol. 11:20). Numberis the basis of both measure and weight.

In Petrarch's series of six the first triumph is Love, a force implanted in us by God yet often seeming more an enslaving power from the devil. It is triumphed over by the sense of Shame [Pudicizia], the power of Reason in us to control material desire. Such nobility does not stand unchallenged however; It in turn is triumphed over by Death, signifying the transitoriness of terrestrial things. Yet Fame, the excellence of one's works as known by those who come after, can overcome the death of the individual. But over it Time triumphs and men's memory fades. Yet Time itself is overcome in the end by Eternity, which frees humans from the flow of becoming. The idea of one force triumphing over another in a natural order corresponds, coincidentally (Petrarch mentions other games, but not cards), to the basic principle of trick-taking card games, in which the highest ranking card in a round triumphs over the rest.

A few allegorical card games probably preceded tarot in having suits of cards that played special roles in trick-taking games. One, called Karnoffel or Kaiserspiel [emperor-game], mentioned in Switzerland in 1426, reassigned some of the lowest-ranking cards in one randomly chosen ordinary suit and gave them such names as "Pope, "Emperor", "Devil", etc. (see Wikipedia), Since this game played havoc with the usual order, it may have been the game outlawed by Duke Filippo Maria Visconti in 1420, when he forbade "anyone to play cards, if not according to the correct and ancient system" (viewtopic.php?f=12&t=334&start=30&hilit=helmet#p5186). Already, probably in 1377, the monk John of Rheinfelden had used the regular pack to moralize about the social hierarchy; he assigned the number cards to various trades, whose duty was to serve the king, and then assigned the court figures to royalty, whose duty was to set an example (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1093&p=16813&hilit=butcher#p16813) Another game, known from 1423, was "VIII Emperors". This game may have been the same as Kaiserspiel, or it might have had an Emperor and Empress assigned at the head of each suit, which might have had a hierarchy of its own as a trump suit. One game known with certainty was a "game of the gods" described by Marziano da Tortona (died by 1425) for Duke Filippo, in which 16 cards, 12 Olympian gods and 4 demigods, formed a special suit triumphing over all the rest as well as being assigned to four allegorical suits, two materialistic ones of riches and pleasures, and two more spiritual ones of virtue and virginity.

The proto-tarot, in the sense of cards recognizably those of the later tarot, may have begun with as few as 8 allegories (modeled after "VIII Emperors"), or with 14 (as suggested by a couple of documents in Ferrara) or 16 (like the "game of the gods"). However it started, at some point it stabilized at 22, with its first known list, c. 1500, by an anonymous monk sermonizing against them ( ... _Cum_Aliis).

22 is a number of considerable significance in Christian mystical numerology. Here I quote Andrea Vitali, who quotes Origen:
About the number 22 of the Triumphs, here is how Origen considers this number: “In the order of numbers, each single number contains a certain force and power over things. Of this power and force the Creator of the universe made use, in some instances for the constitution of the universe itself, in others to express the nature of each thing as it appears to us. It follows, then, based on the Scriptures, that one must observe and derive those aspects that belong to the numbers themselves. And in truth it ought not to be ignored that the books of the Bible itself, as the Jews transmitted them, are twenty-two, also equal to the number of Hebrew letters, and this not without reason. As in fact, twenty-two letters seem to be the introduction to the wisdom and doctrine engraved with these figures in human beings, so these twenty two books of Scripture also constitute the foundation and the introduction to the wisdom of God and the knowledge of the world” (Select in Ps I - PG 12, 1084). In other words, Origen, referring to these 22 inspired books of the Bible, perceives in the twenty-two letters that comprise the Hebrew alphabet an introduction to the wisdom and divine teachings imprinted in humanity (A. Quacquarelli, s.v. Numeri, in DPAC, pages 2447-2448.
Perhaps with such reasoning in mind, the last book of the New Testament, Revelation, had 22 chapters, and Augustine's City of God had 22 books.

Andrea continues:
Medieval theology assigns to the universe a precise order, formed by a symbolic staircase rising from the earth to the sky: from the top of the stairs God, the First Cause, governs the world, without getting directly involved, but operating “ex gradibus” i.e. through an uninterrupted series of intermediaries. In this way his divine power is transmitted down to the creatures below, even to the humblest mendicant. Read from below upwards, the staircase teaches that humans can gradually rise in the spiritual order, climbing slowly toward the summits of the bonum, verum and nobile, and by science and virtue advance nearer to God.
The tarot sequence similarly shows a path of ascent from the lowest level to the highest. The Magician was originally called "Bagatella", even in the 13th century a word for an illusionist (viewtopic.php?f=12&t=764&p=11030&hilit=eel#p11030); but also meant "trifle". We see a man who thinks to make his way through life by means of the illusions he creates. Allegorically, these are the things of this world, which seem of great worth but are in fact trifles. Yet there is a mystery: God is the creator of this very world, which therefore has been created to some higher purpose. So humanity has been provided with temporal guides, the Emperor and Empress, and spiritual ones, the Pope and Popess. Empress and Emperor exemplify the feminine and masculine authorities of secular society, while the Pope heads the spiritual side. The Popess would have been interpreted as Faith, based on a similarity to the allegorical figure of Faith painted by Giotto in Padua. On a more abstract level, she might have been seen as God's Wisdom of the Old Testament, typically presented in similar fashion, crowned and holding a book and cross-staff. More irreverently, there was also "Pope Joan", who in legend had disguised herself in order to attend classes open only to men and somehow ended up, still disguised, as Pope. It may be in reference to that legend that the anonymous monk says of this card "O, wretches! That which the Christian faith denies!"

Thus prepared, young people learn to use reason to control their desires--these last represented by the Love card and to practice the virtues. especially that of Temperance, which teaches self-control. With continued discipline by the rational faculty one may achieve a measure of excellence in what the anonymous preacher called "the little world" of the senses, celebrated in the Chariot card. Here is another mystery. Triumphal parades since ancient times were given for those who excelled as military leaders, and some versions of the card show such a leader on the traditional chariot. But there are many kinds of excellence. In early 15th century Florence, the winner of the annual horse race was paraded in such a chariot (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1092&p=18516&hilit=palio#p18516). The family is also a kind of triumph. In relation to Petrarch's poem, the Chariot card can be seen in terms both of the triumph of Pudicitia (for Petrarch, Chastity was just one aspect), that is to say, the sense of shame that guides us away from vice, and of the triumph of Fame as the reward for excellence.

After victories there is great danger of misusing the prestige and power so earned; so the virtue of Fortitude, strength of soul, was often put after the Chariot card. That virtue is also needed in confrontation with what comes next, the turns of the Wheel of Fortune, which teaches that worldly joys are ephemeral.

From the perspective of the mystical staircase, the hierarchy is one of teachings to be learned rather than increasing power (as in Petrarch) or value. That the virtues are low in the sequence does not mean that they are less valuable or less powerful than cards after them, Their place in the staircase is dictated by teachings needed at that place and in what follows.

The Old Man (Hermit) who follows the Wheel originally either carried an hourglass or had wings. He represented Time, to which all in this world are subject, and the necessity for each person to use theirs wisely. At such a juncture the Hanged Man (The Traitor) depicts the fate of one who is not wise in his use of time: the image of a man hanging by one foot was used to depict those who had betrayed their city or Lord. It may be extended to include one who betrays God, such as was said of Judas. Yet here is another mystery: it may happen that not to betray God, one must act against one's temporal masters;Jesus himself was branded a traitor by the authorities of the religion to which he belonged, and for which he was hung. Peter, the rock on which Jesus built His Church, was even hung upside down.

Death is the great dividing line, but in the tarot even the afterlife is represented. The next card in the monk's list was the Devil, who stands at the center of the earth while his legions roam the earth seeking to ensnare souls. Francesco Piscina, writing in c. 1565, put the demoni in the sphere of air (; just so, demons were shown in art of the time grabbing souls out of the air which had hoped to rise to heaven (e.g. ... t_6417.jpg,, "Triumph of Death").

According to the Ptolemaic system of the cosmos, the terrestrial sphere and the air around it are surrounded by celestial fire, which in the tarot is depicted as lightning striking a Tower. Above this fire are celestial bodies of three types, shown in order of increasing light, to symbolize the approaching brilliance of Heaven: the Star, the Moon, and the Sun. They might also be seen as symbols of Petrarch's cosmic Time, as opposed to a person's time on earth, in which all earthly memory of a person is forgotten.

The scenes below the heavenly bodies on the cards would have promoted various teachings. For the Star, the planet Venus was one identification, as personified in classical mythology. Another, with three figures under it, two wearing caps like those on ancient Mithraic reliefs, would have been the Star of Bethlehem ( ... hschild-3/). It is possible that these three cards replaced what would have earlier been the three theological virtues, earlier in the sequence; Hope would correspond to the Star of Bethlehem. Faith to the Moon, our guiding light in the darkness, and the Sun the light of God's unending Charity.

The highest sphere in the Ptolemaic cosmos was the Empyrean, the seat of the angels who will be summoned to awaken the dead from their tombs at the Last Judgement - when divine Justice will triumph in weighing the souls and dividing the good from the evil. Highest of all is the World, or "the Holy Father", as the anonymous monk commenting on the tarot wrote. We are were Petrarch ended up, Eternity, a new World of a New Jerusalem after the end of Time, which man's creations may emulate but not attain.

The anonymous monk also placed the Fool after the World, while also giving him the designation "nulla", nothing, as if to illustrate his complete alienation from all rules and teachings, since, because lacking reason, he was not able to understand the revealed truths. However the Fool, like most of the cards in the sequence, has more than one meaning. Again Andrea
In the tarot the presence of the Fool has therefore a further and deeper sense: the Fool, in its meaning of unbeliever in God but possessing reason, had to become, through the teachings expressed by the Mystical Staircase, the "Fool of God", as the most popular saint became, that is, St. Francis, who was called “The Holy Minstrel of God” or “the Holy Fool of God" ("None was more beautiful, / More joyful, or greater, / Than he who, by zeal and love, / Became the fool of Jesus": dance song by Girolamo Benivieni, 1453-1542).
In that sense the Fool represents the goal of the mystical quest.

The sequence that the anonymous monk described puts Justice as the card before last so as to emphasize that God's Justice rules over all in the end. That placement is in the Ferrarese order of the triumphs. Other cities of the early tarot put this virtue, and some of the other cards as well, elsewhere in the order. They nonetheless follow the same ethical teaching, merely emphasizing different aspects. The order in Lombardy, and later France, put Justice next to the Chariot to emphasize that one who excels in this little world needs to direct his power and prestige according to the dictates of Justice. This order also, quite mysteriously, put Temperance after Death. Perhaps that was to indicate that Temperance can serve the prolongation of life; or perhaps the image of mixing liquids was associated with the water and wine of the Eucharist, an essential rite if the Christian is to triumph over Death.

The order of Florence and Bologna, unlike either of the other two, put all three virtues one after the other in the middle part of the sequence, before either the Chariot or the Wheel. That further emphasizes the preeminence of morality over physical power, whether one's own, that of others, or that of nature. It is not that the virtues are triumphed over by the Charioteer--although that sometimes happens in the world--but that in the ascent the moral virtues are basic to excellence in any field. Fortitude also prepares one to triumph over Fortune. To make that clear, the "Tarot de Marseille" put Fortitude after the Wheel, to show that Fortitude triumphs (yes, there are those, too) over turns of Fortune both good or bad.

Florence and Bologna put the World card before the Angel at the end of the sequence. How could it be that after the "Holy Father" comes the Angel of Judgment? This is another mystery. The World in this case suggests the physical cosmos in which we now live. In the decks following that pattern the card typically shows the figure of a haloed lady, an angel, or the god Mercury standing on a globe inside which are either hills or symbols of the four elements of which the physical world was thought to consist. Mercury, in mythology the conveyor of souls to Olympus or the Underworld, is shown standing over such a globe, as reminder of what lies beyond it. If it is a lady on the card, she holds a scepter and a globe, attributes of Imperial rulership: it is then Wisdom or Providence as ruler of this World, and perhaps also the missing cardinal virtue of Prudence, the virtue of knowing the good for man and the means toward attaining it (Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II.ii.47.1, at; it is the Good Fortune attainable by all, that of nearness to God, for which the means is the mystical staircase. With Wisdom's help in this life and the saints' intercession (I get this from Kent, Cosimo de' Medici and the Florentine Renaissance, p. 87) for God's grace in the next, condemnation at the Last Judgment might be avoided.

These various ways of seeing the sequence could be appreciated by any thoughtful person Northern Italy. It is true that in the mid-16th century, Lollio scoffed at the idea of its having any meaning (viewtopic.php?f=12&t=828&p=11805#p11805). But this was in the context of an invective, i.e. insult as a humorous rhetorical device. Perhaps he was only inviting the reader to think about the question. as seems to be true for the other insults he makes toward the game.

There were no doubt other ways of looking at the sequence. It was a time when ancient texts lost to Western Europe for centuries were entering Italy from the collapsing Byzantine Empire, joining the Christianized versions already known. The mystical ascent would likely have been seen in relation to some of these texts, fusing Christianity in new ways with ancient thought. So it continues. The tarot is and probably always has been a never-ending source of meditation and inspiration on humanity's place in the cosmos.

Re: Le Tarot arithmologique - la séquence 1+4+7+10 = 22

mikeh wrote:Alain, in my complaint about Andrea, I was concerned with the age-old problem of how the sequence fits together as a whole. Andrea does it well, but I think it can be improved. What he already has in the exhibition catalog should stand as it is, as a historical document available on the web and dated whenever he wrote it. About improving it, there is especially the problem of how to capture the effect on the "mystical staircase" of the numerous variations in the cards, both in the order and what is depicted and the numerous ways it can be interpreted. Also I would emphasize the "mystery" in "mystical". Also there is the issue of how the allegories play out in a trick-taking game, where the word "triumph" has a very practical application. It is not the same as the "staircase" idea. The two ideas reciprocally interact. "Triumph" as in Petrarch is no longer the basic organizing principle, however naturally it applies, but it inserts itself where it can.

Here is a draft of how Andrea's piece could be expanded in the way I have in mind. It is no doubt too long. But I wanted to say my piece. I am utilize much of Andrea's wording, without quoting him, to my own purpose. And where I do quote him, he doesn't need adapting.



I have read your article.
It deserves, once you'll consider the wording definitive, to be published under your authorship.

My suggestion would be :
In Addition to the Presentation of the Exhibit ...

What you think? ... Biographie

Re: Le Tarot arithmologique - la séquence 1+4+7+10 = 22


I have not completely yet updated my knowlegde about the first mentions of the words Trionfi or Tarrochi...
My datas are sometimes out of date...
I have been some time away - exactly since 2007 up to 2015.
I'm catching up with some discoveries....

Could you precise this sentence of your's :

"The game of Tarot [Tarocchi, in Italian] was invented in Italy sometime before 1440, when the first known mention of the deck is found in a notary's diary about the purchase of a hand-painted pack to be sent to Rimini. "

Huck Meyer helpfully reminded me that :
"The new oldest Trionfi note is from 16 September 1440..."

The sentence should be precised prior to 1440 (first appearence of the mention of Trionfi) etc...
The game of Tarot (Tarocchi in Italian 1505 June Ferrare December Ferrare and Avignon) was invented sometime prior to the first mention known of Trionfi (16 septembre 1440) ... Biographie

Re: Le Tarot arithmologique - la séquence 1+4+7+10 = 22

Yes, thank you. Here is what I should have said and have inserted as a correction:

The game of Tarot [Tarocchi, in Italian], originally known as trionfi, was invented sometime before its first known mention in 1440, when a notary's diary mentioned the purchase of a hand-painted pack from Florence to be sent to Rimini ( The name-change is first recorded in 1505, first in Ferrara (tarochi, in June), and then Avignon (taraux, in December) (, ... ?pw=taraux).

I wish that I could have given just one reference for "taraux", namely trionfi, but Huck has not updated the trionfi entry to include Depaulis's transcription of the original. For you, Alain, the Playing Card article is probably the best source, since it is in French. The THF discussion that Huck gave (but the link doesn't work) is viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1074&p=16477#p16477, which I have now edited to include Depaulis's footnote to this article.

I am not sure about "publishing" what I wrote, because I have used so much of Andrea's own wording, information, and structure, even when I don't quote a whole paragraph. But I will see what I can do to make that clear inside what I wrote, somehow, without it introducing unnecessary complexities.

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