Hellmouth on a busy day

This is another in the Tarocchi Goes West series, concerning the trump which comes after The Devil in all orders, and is variously titled The House of the Devil, Lightning, The House of God, and The Tower.

For this trump, we have a card by Geofroy as well as one by the AP. Here is Geofroy's, along with a card from the deck "dit de Charles VI," dated to the 1400s.
ChsVIGeof.png (685.68 KiB) Viewed 4283 times
Chs VI : https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b10520262s/
(this is the link to the 1089 px image on Gallica, rather than the 600 px image from the museum exhibit about this deck)
Geofroy : https://www.classicaltarot.com/p/catelin-geoffroy

Tor Gjerde's site, cards.old.no, says this on his Catelin Geofroy page here
The tower cards [of Geofroy and AP] do not match that name, nor fouldre (lightning) which is the title printed on the Tarot de Paris [AP's] card. While dissimilar, both are probably representing the gate to hell; the Catelin Geofroy card might represent Orpheus and Eurydice. On that a man, a woman and a devil stand in front of a doorway above which there are windows from which fire and smoke erupt. The man is playing the fiddle and is possibly looking back over his shoulder, where the woman seems to be grabbed by the devil at the same moment.
I find the Orpheus and Eurydice identification persuasive (I did have a brief flirtation with Nero fiddling while Rome burned). Art works on the subject in Geofroy's era, most often show Orpheus with a violin; he is shown with a harp in later centuries when they knew a bit more about music history.
0ee4f8f87c5d3bc14ab6ba0f5b6ad433.jpg (27.38 KiB) Viewed 4283 times
Peter Vischer the Younger / Orpheus and Eurydice / c. 1515

The violinist on Geofroy's card is turned around almost 180 degrees between the way his knees point and the way his face does. The picture of the underworld as a building, makes sense if Geofroy has drawn his underworld concept more from Virgil than from Dante. So we have a musician, turned to look backwards, at a woman (possibly), who is grabbed back by a devil, just as they are leaving a building full of fire. This equals Orpheus and Eurydice to me.

Most of our sources for the early Italian meaning of this card, are literary. There is one extant card, from the "dit de Charles VI" deck: it shows a tower, on fire, but the tower is split in half, and no smoke or flames comes from the front door or windows: this tower was struck by lightning: it did not split in half from the intensity of an internal fire that sent no flames out the front door and windows. The Alciato poem (C order) has : "Tum Phoebus, luna, & stella / cum fulmine daemon / Fama necem." Fulmine means struck by lightning. The poem Trionphi de Tarocchi appropriati, said by Le Tarot to be "1530-1560 - Ferrara: Anonimo," (B order) calls the card "La Casa del Diavolo," (The next line is "La Signora Laura Codegora - Estinguer non si può l'ardente fiamma." – which I suppose is fire of a sort.) In the Sermones de Ludo Cum Aliis (B-order, thought to be from Ferrara, before 1500) the card is called La sagitta (the arrow), which perhaps means a lightning bolt. In the Piscina discourse (C-order, from Mondovi south of Turin, 1555) the card is called fire.
Sermones (image): https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File ... _Aliis.jpg
Sermones (Latin): http://www.tarock.info/steele.htm
Trionphi de Tarocchi appropriati, text from Bertoni book: http://www.tarock.info/bertoni.htm
Le Tarot mention of it: http://www.associazioneletarot.it/page.aspx?id=622
Piscina : https://web.archive.org/web/20160813072 ... Discorso_5

So the concepts tower, fire, lightning bolt, and house of the Devil, are all in play, in Italian sources, in all three order regions, prior to 1557.

Geofroy shows Eurydice, as she is just walking out the door of the underworld, which is a building from which flames come, suddenly snatched by a devil. Here are two Minchiate cards that show a woman suddenly snatched back as she goes out the door of La Casa del Diavolo (so named in Italy).
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Colomba minchiate (c.1675 ?) : https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b105109802
Orfeo: https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/ ... id=3058966
[ The Orfeo minchiate is a mystery, but I myself would place it earlier than 1700 on stylistic (and various) grounds, (But as I have not acquired the article in The Playing Card which is mentioned in this post by mikeh, my opinion is not worth anything.)
I did not notice a reference to the above BM pack in mikeh's post; the BM says it is an incomplete set of 66 of 97 cards, however not one of the surviving 11 trumps and fool is one of the minchiate-unique ones, which would be quite a coincidence. Also the horse riders are not centaurs. That none of the trumps is a minchiate-unique one is also true of the Rosenwald sheets, which might be true in the case of sheets, if one sheet is just missing, but it adds to the case for a proto-minchiate. If the individual cards from the BM deck are wanted by anyone, I put them here:
https://www.pinterest.com/asiadorama/ta ... minchiate/
The Colomba minchiate, is a minchiate with the extra trumps, (this is the deck from BnF that gets confused with the "Alla Colomba" one, the subject of my "detective story" post). I put these cards here:
https://www.pinterest.com/asiadorama/ta ... -florence/
Later minchiate decks have this card with the same picture, only a little less crude. ]

So the "snatched back at the last minute going out the Devil's door" concept, found in Geofroy, is also found in Italy. It might have been learned by Italy from Geofroy, but probably not; it's not clear why Italy would copy from a Lyon card maker at that date. Since it is shared, it was probably taken from Italy by Geofroy.

So to summarize the concepts found for this card: Geofroy shows a house of the Devil, even though he adopted a C-order, and that name is known to us otherwise in a B-order poem, from Ferrara, a B-order city. He has a woman snatched back on the way out the door, and that shows up later in A-order minchiate, from Florence. Thus, woman snatched back, joins tower, fire, tower on fire, lightning bolt, and house of the Devil, as a pan-tarot concept: each one found in C as well as A, or B, or both, and found in both France and Italy. We may add Hellmouth as a pan-tarot concept for this card; it is in both of the early French cards, and in these minchiate cards. Possibly, the snatched-back woman is also Eurydice in Italy. I know of no other story that fits the picture. If so, we may add Orpheus and Eurydice as pan-tarot.

This card from the Rosenwald sheets, considered early minchiate, does not have the snatched back woman. It resembles the Charles VI Tower. Note the small tower above the battlements.
Rosenwald Tower RH595.jpg
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Rosenwald sheets : https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-obje ... 41321.html

The Anonymous Parisian's "La Fovldre"

Anonymous Parisien ; LaFovldre
AP hellmouth RH595.jpg
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https://www.pinterest.com/asiadorama/ta ... 1600-1650/

The AP has lightning, but only in his title for the card. Andy's Playing Cards says here:
The following card is probably the most interesting of the series: inscribed LA FOVLDRE (for la Foudre, "lightning"), it is a subject that the Tarot de Paris pattern retained from earlier tarots in place of the Tower or la Maison Dieu. Burning thunderbolts or balls of fire fall from the sky (see also this subject in Viéville's edition), and while humans desperately seek shelter, a demon, the central figure of the composition, dramatically remarks the rage of the heavens with the thundering sound of his drum.
Fouldre was not the word for lightning in the 1600s, according to the Dictionnaire du Moyen Français:
However, the Latin original is fulgur, so maybe "fouldre" was French at one time. As a concept for this card, Tower is neither late, nor French, since it is in dit de Charles VI and also in the Rosenwald sheets, and in the Rothschild sheets, I do not understand what things in the AP's image are Andy's "thunderbolts" or "balls of fire." I see rather what Tor Gjerde sees:
The Tarot de Paris [AP's] card is quite chaotic. A smiling devil playing drums stands among the flames erupting from the gaping mouth of a huge monster's head. A man is inside the mouth, another one is cowering in front of it, and a third sits astride its snout.
The huge monster's head can be hard to spot in the AP's card. First find the lower jaw, with big red canine teeth:
lower jaw.jpg
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Then find the eye, and from that, find the upper jaw, with one more red canine tooth.
eye RW595.jpg
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So AP's card, like Geofroy's, has the Hellmouth. There is thunder suggested by the drum and lightning in the name of the card. With Geofroy's card also: the story of Orpheus and Eurydice has no lightning bolt, but we might say that Eurydice is thunderstruck, when Orpheus turns back to look at her, and she is suddenly snatched from hope into despair. The moment of snatching is loud and violent and shakes the very heavens: notice the bricks falling off the tower in the Orfeo card. The hand gestures of the women in the minchiate cards mirror the snatched woman in the Geofroy card; the naked woman in these minchiate cards is being snatched back: the figure behind her is not her companion. It's true he doesn't look much like a devil; no wings or lizard feet, but the devil figure in the AP's card, the drummer, has a human-like body except for his head.

A violent dramatic story; a story of damnation and despair. The AP's card, while it shows the mouth of Hell, like Geofroy's card, does not have the Orpheus and Eurydice story. And yet this is the card labeled, La Fouldre. The man shown dragged backwards into the Hellmouth, is snatched suddenly, with thunderous noise.

The AP had lightning as a concept for this card, since it is printed on his card. The lightning concept came from Italy since it is in both the Alciato poem (C-order), and by implication in the Steele sermons (B-order), as "the arrow." But the AP may not have brought it from Italy as a new borrowing; it is not clear that the AP had an Italian source independent of Geofroy. (That is a question to look at further when we have considered more of his cards). The AP may have printed "Fouldre" on the card because that is what the players called it. This Mitelli card (A-order) shows how the lightning concept was still strongly connected to the card in Italy.
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Mitelli : https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b10537341m
Viéville : https://www.pinterest.com/asiadorama/ta ... 3%A9ville/

Viéville's man out for a walk

What does the Jacques Viéville's card show? A man goes for a walk and is caught by a shower of rain, and sees a lightning bolt hit a tree. It is as if Viéville knew nothing about the card, except the name, La Fouldre. There is no tower, no house of the devil, no snatched back woman. In this, he is like Mitelli of Bologna of about the same date. Lightning, and only lightning.

Noblet's TOWER

Here is a card from the tarocchino, and one from the Rothschild sheets:
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tarot bolonaise Alla Torre : https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b105109607.r
Rothschild sheet : http://arts-graphiques.louvre.fr/detail ... tarots-max

Alla Torre is the brand of the deck, not a reference to the Tower card. These decks show a common feature: a small tower above the battlements of the main wall. It is also on Rosenwald and "dit de Charles VI." All four show a big front door, some show the dead.
Here's one more tower.
Tower XV E.png
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Budapest : http://printsanddrawings.hu/search/?return=1 (search Tarocchi)
three sheets are in the Met, only one online : https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/385140
I have clipped the separate cards and posted them here:
https://www.pinterest.com/asiadorama/ta ... ets-tarot/

Here are the Cary sheet's and Noblet's TOWER
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Cary sheet : https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File ... c1500..jpg
Jean Noblet : https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b105109641

The most interesting thing about Noblet's card, is the name printed on it: The House of God. Some people don't like to say Hell, or perhaps there was a Christian message that even Hell belonged to the Creator. But neither this, nor any other Tower card, is by any stretch a picture of heaven: the name The House of God is a euphemism for The House of the Devil. So we can say the concept House of the Devil is present in this Noblet card, although not in the Budapest card nor the Cary sheet card. The Cary sheet card does seem to be on fire, if those are flames just visible at the torn edge. The Cary tower, and some later Tarot de Marseille towers, are clearly round. Noblet's tower is probably meant to be round also. A tall thin tower is a funny shape to draw The House of the Devil. These western towers do not show a front door. I have no explanation for the cow.

So what is the story of all these pan-tarot concepts? There are complex concepts and simple concepts. How can the same region have different concepts for the same card? Well first, we can say that a simple concept can come from a complex one by streamlining, by leaving stuff out. A complex concept can come from a simple one by elaboration, by adding stuff. The added conceptual elements, may be obvious developments, or not so obvious. If two cases of elaboration happen hundreds of kilometers apart, and it is the same elaboration, then we can say that there must have been influence from one to the other. Especially, if the elaboration is not an obvious one, we can say that. In some cases influence from one to the other is not too plausible, and then we can say this feature, because it is shared in different regions, was most likely in the common source; the ur-tarot.

The ur-tarot of the Devil's house card

What can we say about the ur-tarot for this card, the card image concept from which all later cards of this trump can come, by plausible steps? The ur-tarot must include at least La Casa del Diavolo. This concept of Hell, is a building, it is a house of the Devil. It is more Virgil's underworld then Dante's pit with nine levels. Within Virgil's underworld which also included the pleasant Elysian Fields, there was the palace of Pluto and Persephone. Hellmouth arises from House of the Devil naturally. You could say the same for Tower, Fire, Building on fire, and Tower on fire. All of these could come naturally from La Casa del Diavolo. But not Lightning, Tower struck by lightning, Thunderous noise, Thunderstruck, Orpheus and Eurydice, or Woman snatched back. These are widespread, but they are not obvious natural developments from La Casa del Diavolo. We could say the concepts of this card are of two classes, static ones such as the Devil's House, and sudden loud noisy ones such as Bolt from the Blue. A purely static concept can't be the ur-tarot by itself, since the noisy concepts are pan-tarot.

So we need to enrich the ur-tarot concept for this card: La Casa del Diavolo is part of it, but not yet enough. We need to start with House of the Devil and add more noise. I have no good understanding of Christian concepts of the End Times. I have never understood if people go to Heaven or Hell right away, or wait in their graves until the Last Trump, when they rise from their graves for the Last Judgment. It seems to me both ideas are current in Medieval manuscript pictures. But either way, the day of the Last Trump will be a busy day at Hellmouth. On days like today, either no one arrives because the dead wait in their graves for judgment, or if sinners are judged right away, they trickle in one by one as they die. Either way, days like today are fairly quiet. On Judgment Day, there will be a traffic jam. While the Last Trump will sound for the elect with the silver clarion blast of the trumpet, for sinners it comes with blasts of fire from the sky and explosive thunderous noise. Hellmouth on the day it is usually shown, Judgment Day, will do as an ur-tarot for both the static concepts and the noisy ones. Blasts from the sky signaling the End Times, will come as a shock to those who hear them, They will be thunderstruck.

In the 15 days of the end time, lightning rains from the sky:
sky fire RW595.png
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buildings topple
towers fall RW595.png
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http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.asp ... 7682_f041r

and rocks explode
End time - rocks are split apart.png
End time - rocks are split apart.png (568.89 KiB) Viewed 4283 times
Plenty noisy. Sinners are tossed into the gaping mouth of Hell, amid scenes of opening graves:
into the mouth.png
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Hellmouth on Judgment Day, the ur-tarot that does it all

Hellmouth alone, while it could underlie La Casa del Diavolo, does not explain Lightning or Tower struck by lightning. Hellmouth on Judgment Day on the other hand, leads to thunder and lightning, fire from the sky, and buildings brought down with explosions and fire and tremendous noise. The Last Judgment comes to sinners suddenly, like a bolt from the blue. They are thunderstruck. This card is about ending up in Hell; it is not about getting out. When the card is classicalized, Orpheus and Eurydice is one of several possible stories, but it is the most fitting, because Eurydice ends up not being rescued. Hopeful stories such as Hercules rescuing Theseus from the underworld, or for that matter the harrowing of Hell by Christ; are not natural developments from this essentially negative card.

Hellmouth on Judgment Day leads by streamlining to Hellmouth, and to La Casa del Diavolo, which by euphemism becomes La Maison Dieu. It leads to Orpheus and Eurydice. It leads to thunderstruck. It leads to towers brought down.

Here is a picture that includes the dead rising from graves, Christ presiding over the world (standing on it, actually) and sinners tossed into the gaping mouth of Hell.
Bodl MS Douce 30 RH595.png
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Bodlean, Douce 30 : https://tinyurl.com/y797x5eh

Hellmouth on Judgment Day, is a kind of mirror image of the card known as Last Judgment. Last Judgment is the positive card, the elect rising from their graves to go to heaven. This card is the negative image; sinners going in the other direction. This card, the house of the Devil, has the Devil card before it, Last Judgment has someone standing on the world, as the card after it: continuing the mirror image, The above picture shows both. In the one image, the dead rise joyously from the ground to the sound of the trumpet, while sinners are dragged into a gaping mouth. It is Christ, in this picture, who stands on the world. We might say that of the last seven trumps, the four that aren't sky lights are all shown in this image:

Devil. Hellmouth on Judgement Day, Star, Moon, Sun, Dead rising from graves, Christ standing on the world.

Re: Hellmouth on a busy day

It is hard to post such a long thing without making mistakes,

late news -- I managed to fix both problems with the "edit" feature.

Here's the problems that aren't there any more:

AP's LaFovldre card didn't get posted

AP hellmouth RH595.jpg
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The Towers topple image didn't get placed properly. it is at the bottom

Re: Hellmouth on a busy day

Sandy wrote,
The most interesting thing about Noblet's card, is the name printed on it: The House of God. Some people don't like to say Hell, or perhaps there was a Christian message that even Hell belonged to the Creator. But neither this, nor any other Tower card, is by any stretch a picture of heaven: the name The House of God is a euphemism for The House of the Devil.
Do you have a source for that idea, that "House of God" is a euphemism for "House of the Devil". The word "Devil" is not "Hell", and in any case it is as an expletive that people don't like to say "Hell". Preachers use it all the time. Anyway, "House of God" doesn't necessarily mean "heaven". It could describe a church, for example. I am not saying you are wrong. I just don't see the evidence, in French usage of the period.

I can think of four other explanations for how "House of the Devil" might have become "House of God"
1. It is a misreading of "maison de feu" on an early card (this comes from Moakley; she had no early card, just a 19th century one.) Depaulis also cites this theory.
2. It refers to the Temple of Jerusalem, as indicated in the Grand Robert Dictionnaire entry for the term, possibly referring to the lightning that "rent the veil" a the time of Christ's death.
3. It refers to a hospice, one meaning of the term Maison-Dieu. A place set up for dying in which one has time to repent.
4. It is a generalization from the word for a stone fallen from heaven, l.e. a meteorite, considered good luck and called a "Bethel", which means "house of God". This stone is associated with the lightning-struck tower by Fanti, 1527.

For documentation I refer you to my essay on the card at https://tarotchristianbasis.blogspot.co ... tower.html
and Andrea Vitali's at http://www.letarot.it/page.aspx?id=128&lng=ENG.

In the "Bianca's Garden" section of THF, there is a rich supply of information about this card, in the thread called "The Tower."

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