Re: Origin of the Grand Etteilla II lower panels...

Thanks for all your additional research and links! I have all the books except Salette's Dictionnaire synonimique du livre de Thot, and would be interested in a copy when/if available.

[aka: Kwaw, Koy Deli]
Tarot_John wrote:
18 Jan 2020, 00:30
I also have a couple different copies of Joubert de La Salette's Dictionnaire synonimique du livre de Thot being scanned as we speak, one from the Wellcome Library and the other from BIU Santé. I should receive them in the next month or so. I'd be happy to forward them as well if you're interested. Just let me know! =)
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: Origin of the Grand Etteilla II lower panels...

Hey Steve! Thank YOU for all of your contributions here and at Aeclectic. It's made for some enlightening reading these last couple years. =)

I'll send you and Mike a PM the second I get the Dictionnaire synonimique du livre de Thot. I ordered my copies at the start of this year. I think the libraries are still working through the backlog of orders from the holidays, but I should get it by mid-February at the latest.

Re: Origin of the Grand Etteilla II lower panels...

I have finally gotten around to putting the "Etteilla and Variants Timeline II" from Aeclectic onto a blog, so I could make additions reflecting new information, chiefly from Huck and SteveM on the "Etteilla followers" thread, and Tarot John here.
The additions are in bold red and are mainly links to works cited previously but without such links to uploaded scans of the texts. Of Etteilla's works, we have managed to find links to uploads of everything except the Cours Theorique et Pratique and the two short pieces on the lottery, Instruction sur le lotus des Indiens nous a Donné Que en 1772 M. Etteilla, professeur d'Algèbre, and Instruction sur la hislérique combinaison, Extraite du Loto des Indien, the titles for which I get from Wikipedia's entry "Etteilla".

Another work I can't find a link to is the Nouvel Eteila, ou le Petit Necromancien of 1826.

This leads me to a rather prolific author mentioned by Decker, Depaulis, and Dummett who had escaped my notice until Tarot John called attention to him, saying:
Johannès Trismégiste's 1864 edition of L'Art de tirer les cartes
( This copy is missing its title page and as a result has been incorrectly attributed to François-Lubin Passard aka Arthur Delanoue, who I believe to be the editor of the book. Compared to the 1843 version (and its 1850 reprint) this book creates alternate titles for the Jeu de la Princesse Tarot cards. DDD talk about this edition on page 150 of A Wicked Pack of Cards. The 1843 edition can be found here:
DDD and the BnF on its author data page,, identify the pseudonym as that of Lorambert, but even that may be a pseudonym. The uploader on and the Wellcome Library say, for the author:
By Lorambert.--cf. Weller, E. Lexicon pseudonymorum (1886) p. 572
For the 1843, at least, there is another problem. Looking through it and comparing it with the 1864, I find that only two short chapters are the same, both on divination using a piquet deck. The rest is remarkably similar to how DDD describe the 1826 book that went with the Mongie Grand Etteilla I deck. Here is my timeline summary of pp. 144-147.
1826a. Pierre Mongie l’aine (the elder) publishes Etteilla’s tarot deck (Grand Etteilla I) from the original copper plates, but altered to erase the astrological symbols in the corners. To most of the trumps, court cards and Aces, it adds new titles in cursive script, inside the picture frame, of a Masonic or Biblical flavor, such as “Hiram’s Masonry” for card 2 or “Solomon” for card 9. On card 1, instead of “Etteilla” and “Questionnant” it has “L’Homme qui consulte” both top and bottom (Kaplan vol. 2 p. 400f). There is also a book, The art of reading cards and tarots, or French, Egyptian, Italian and German Cartomancy. The author, given as “Aldegonde Perenna, Polish sibyl,” is actually Gabrielle de Paban, cousin of editor and collaborator Collin de Plancy. In an introductory essay, de Plancy says that the 1200 pages of Etteilla’s two large volumes contain nothing but astrological fantasies; the present work, by contrast, is at least clear. Its section on “Egyptian tarots” was reprinted numerous times by Grimaud to accompany its reprints of Etteilla’s deck (DDD pp. 144-147).
I should add that de Paban only wrote the part on tarot, per DDD. The part on ordinary cards is by de Plancy, but it is copied word for word from the 1802 Oracle Parfait of Albert d'Alby.

In any case, the content described by the title of the 1826 book is precisely what is covered in the 1843 book, except for the addition in 1843 of the chapter on Patience (different forms of solitaire). Also, the 1826's account of the individual tarot cards is indeed what is in Grimaud's booklets later, word for word, except for a short preamble (added next day: not only in the 1910 French language LWB I have scans of, but also the 1969 Cartes France LWB in English translation; in the 1977 LWB, however, a few of the titles change, and the text is quite different). I have not yet compared the 1843 wording with that of 1826, at ... &q&f=false. However I do notice that the Google Books version does not have the chapters on the French and Italian tarots, as promised, (which are, however, in the 1843) but only the Egyptian and German. Added next day: comparing the two, I see the 1843, while using much the same wording, also abridges the 1826 and occasionally differs in its interpretation of card combinations. Also, the 1843 uses more conventional titles, borrowing heavily from the Grand Etteilla II for the triumphs.

The 1864 is quite different. Besides the two chapters on the piquet deck (from 1802!), it only describes the "Egyptian tarot", offering a rather odd, complex, difficult to remember system of interpreting cards, taking several pages for each card. One chapter, on the history of tarot (starting of course with ancient Egypt) is mostly in quotes, followed at the end by the name "Arthur Delanoue". I suspect that he, whoever he is, wrote that chapter, and most of the rest is by somebody else.

I have done a little more digging about the works of "Trismegiste". Here is what I have so far, for the Timeline blog:
1845, 1850, 1854. Another book by "Johannes Trismégiste" is L'art d'expliquer les songes, ou, Signification détaillé de tous les songes. It is published in 1845 by the same Jules Laisné (of the 1843 book on cards),, then in 1850 by Martinot, ... &q&f=false. and again, minus its first two chapters, by Passard, ... navlinks_s. He also has L'art de connaître l'avenir par la chiromancie, les horoscopes, les divinations anciennes, le marc de café, etc., in 1843, again Laisné, ... 1%2C0.1741 , and another, all I can find is that edited by Passard in 1854, on "magnetism", The first two, at laest, are similar but not identical to works put out by Blocquel and Castiaux, notably the 1810.
The 1810 is something I found by accident: Le grand Traité des Songes ... avec 50 gravures. ... Édition augmentée de l'art de lire dans le marc de café, ... navlinks_s.

I have no idea where "Lorambert" comes from, or who he or she is, apart from "Johannes Trismegiste" and "Weller, E", equally obscure.

Note: I made two additions to the above the next day, their placement highlighted in bold.

Re: Origin of the Grand Etteilla II lower panels...

Nice job on the timeline, Mike!

I did some digging...

"Weller, E." refers to Emil Ottokar Weller (1823-1886), a German publisher (see here:
In 1886, Weller published the Lexicon pseudonymorum, a dictionary of pseudonyms (see here: Indeed, on page 572 he lists that Johannès Trismégiste is a pseudonym for Lorambert.

Lorambert might be a real name. It could also be another pseudonym like you suggest.

I'm currently investigating a theory of mine that Julia Orsini, Johannès Trismégiste (aka Lorambert), Mlle Lemarchand/Lemarchant, Antonio Magus, and Esmael are all pseudonyms used by Castiaux/Blocquel/Delarue and their successors. If that's true, then their family is responsible for every other Grand Etteilla variant aside from those based on Etteilla's original deck. Here are the four "families" of Etteilla decks which would be included:

  • 1838 - Grand Etteilla II (first appears in Julia Orsini book)
  • 1843 - Jeu de la Princesse Tarot (first appears in Johannès Trismégiste book)
  • 1856 - Grand Etteilla III (first appears in Mlle. Lemarchand/Lemarchant book)
  • 1874/1875 - Dumont Etteilla (appears in Antonio Magus and Esmael books)

Here is a picture of a card from the Dumont Etteilla in case you haven't seen it. The 2nd edition of the Magus book in which it appears can be found here: It's also in Kaplan II on page 410. I own an original copy of the Esmael book.

The signature reads "Li Dumont del. S.C."
"Li" probably means "lithography by"
"del." means it was "drawn by"
Dumont is probably Louis-Paul-Pierre Dumont (1822-18??), a famous engraver. See here: ... rre_dumont
No idea who "S.C." is...

We know that Julia Orsini is actually Simon Blocquel and that Mlle Lemarchand/Lemarchant is a pseudonym used by the family for publishing Les Récréations de la Cartomancie ou description pitoresque de chacune des cartes du grand jeu de l'Oracle des Dames (i.e. the first appearance of Grand Etteilla III) in 1856. The others will take some investigating...

I have a couple reasons for suspecting that these four variants are somehow related. First, all four of them were created by people using pseudonyms. Second, several of the engravings used in the Johannès Trismégiste books that you posted can also be found in other Castiaux/Blocquel/Delarue publications. I've seen them before. For example, compare the image of the devil reading cards on an 1845 Johannès Trismégiste book here: with the devil on the title page of an 1847 Blocquel-Castiaux publication here: It's also on page 193 of the 1850 Julia Orsini book here:

Coincidence? I wonder... =)

Re: Origin of the Grand Etteilla II lower panels...

Interesting and informative posts, John: thanks.

The Johannès Trismégiste book caught my eye some time ago, as it is the source (and probably recycled at that) of quite a few things that turn up in a number of other books, Bourgeat, for instance.

Another thing: it also appears to be the first instance of the "Sesostris connection." (None of the other Egyptocentric works I have been able to consult mention this. I cannot claim to have been as exhaustive in this respect as this thread demonstrates though.) The Wasteland references have been well-researched, and while T.S. Eliot admitted to having read the Aldous Huxley novel in which this name appears ('Chrome Yellow'), it is not impossible that Huxley himself had read one of these French cartomantic manuals.

Re: Origin of the Grand Etteilla II lower panels...

Tarot John wrote
I'm currently investigating a theory of mine that Julia Orsini, Johannès Trismégiste (aka Lorambert), Mlle Lemarchand/Lemarchant, Antonio Magus, and Esmael are all pseudonyms used by Castiaux/Blocquel/Delarue and their successors. If that's true, then their family is responsible for every other Grand Etteilla variant aside from those based on Etteilla's original deck. Here are the four "families" of Etteilla decks which would be included:
  • 1838 - Grand Etteilla II (first appears in Julia Orsini book)
  • 1843 - Jeu de la Princesse Tarot (first appears in Johannès Trismégiste book)
  • 1856 - Grand Etteilla III (first appears in Mlle. Lemarchand/Lemarchant book)
  • 1874/1875 - Dumont Etteilla (appears in Antonio Magus and Esmael books)
As far as the devil reading the card, there is the same question as for the lower panel engravings (or woodcuts): might he have just copied it from another source? However in all these cases the copies, if that's what they are, are very good. Not my area of expertise.

Otherwise, in favor of your hypothesis is that some of the language of Orsini is carried over into the 1843 cards as well: Birds and Fishes, anyway. On the other hand, many are different from both. But also, I think some of the card interpretations have language more like Orsini than like de Paban; so far I've only checked card 29, as one of the less likely to be standardized. You might do a linguistic comparison in relation to various texts that came before. Another point in favor is that the Orsini advertises Trismegiste's edition of Nostradamus. Against is that Trismegiste consistently has different publishers. You would think that at least the first publisher would be Blocquel-Castiaux, but it never is.

Another thing that might be worth tracking , John, are the various versions of Le Petit Etteilla, ou L'Art de Tirer les Cartes as published by Blocquel-Castiaux. Gallica has one from 1826, with an 1827 almanac in back. I have one from post-1838 (because it advertises Orsini and the deck by "Blismon") with a treatise on chiromancy in the back. The frontispieces and illustrations are different, too. Then there is one by "Flamand", identical wording for the first twenty or some pages, then "Flamand" steps in (explicitly). The first part is "apres Etteilla".

Ronan, I would think that Sesostris would have been too well known, and too interesting, to identify a particular source where Huxley, or perhaps even Eliot, might likely have read it. He was first mentioned by Herodotus, then Diodorus, as the Egyptian who invaded Europe (

There is one more large work by Etteilla that I cannot find online, Philosophie des Hautes Sciences. to put a link to in the Timeline. If anyone knows of a link, please let us know. I have it in scans, but it would be nice for others. There is absolutely nothing in it about cartomancy, however.

Re: Origin of the Grand Etteilla II lower panels...

In the context of Huxley's novel and Eliot's poem, I see your point. In Huxley, "Sesostris" is a male palm reader dressed up as a woman. Why pick the name of an ancient Egyptian general? Perhaps Huxley wanted to add to the general absurdity of the scene, for those readers who knew Herodotus. I would have thought that Herodotus would have been better known than an obscure tarot manual in French. But he could well have gotten the idea from the manual, knowing that it was an Egyptian general, finding it amusing. Or perhaps he just saw the deck. Does anyone know a copy of that card? Then Eliot coincidentally applies it to a reader of tarot cards, even if she uses a Marseille deck rather than an Etteilla. Or perhaps it is no coincidence.

Re: Origin of the Grand Etteilla II lower panels...

Got you covered, Mike!

Here is Philosophie des hautes sciences at the Internet Archive:

After my last post, I too noticed that none of the Trismégiste books were published by Blocquel-Castiaux. Kind of throws my original theory into a cocked hat, doesn't it? Interesting that you found an advertisement for a Trismégiste book in Orsini, though... There is at least some connection between the two groups. Maybe one copied from the other, or maybe they copied from each other. The whole thing could be a kind of "cola wars" situation ( Companies in the same market start offering products similar to those of their competitors in an attempt to grab a larger market share. We've done it with sugar water. Why not fortune-telling books?

Like you say, a textual comparison might reveal more. I'm putting the synonyms from all known Etteilla decks/books into a spreadsheet so I can compare the wording card by card. I've also got some artist friends who do woodblock engraving, lithography, etc., for a living. Might talk to them and get their opinions on just how similar the images from the books are. We'll see what turns up.

In regards to other Blocquel-Castiaux books, I've begun gathering material concerning Le Petit Etteilla. Found the ones you mentioned at the BnF. I'll start looking through them when my schedule frees up. =)


Interesting that you bring up the Sesostris connection. I'd never noticed it before in the Johannès Trismégiste book. Nice find! It's been a while since I've read Huxley's Crome Yellow or Eliot's The Waste Land, but I'm familiar with Eliot's repurposing of the character. I always understood his alternate spelling of the name as a kind of play on words. Instead of spelling it "Sesostris" like Huxley's character, Eliot spells it "Sosostris" as in "so-so" (i.e. mediocre). In other words, he's presenting her as a fraud. Indeed, the character in Crome Yellow actually is a fraud. Sesostris is really Mr. Scogan disguised as an old woman. Both Huxley and Eliot seem to be cynically poking fun at the practice of fortune-telling.

Huxley may have been familiar with French cartomancy. He was into mysticism. But he was also a pretty well-educated guy, and my bet would be that he got the name from historical sources. A quick search of the text of Crome Yellow reveals that the character's full title is Sesostris, the Sorceress of Ecbatana. Both Sesostris and Ecbatana appear in Herodotus' Histories, albeit separately. As Mike pointed out, Sesostris was the Greek name of a historical Egyptian pharaoh who was sometimes conflated with Ramses II. Ecbatana (sometimes spelled Agbatana) was a city in the ancient kingdom of Media (modern-day Iran). Huxley probably found the two unrelated names in Herodotus and then combined them to give the character a mystical, exotic flair.

Linking Egypt with the occult was not a new idea in Huxley's time by any stretch of the imagination. Several of the early figures in occultism and French cartomancy (Court de Gébelin, Etteilla, etc.) did this very thing and attempted to create a connection between Egypt, Gypsies, and fortune-telling. We now know these fantastical theories to be false, however this didn't stop them from filtering into popular culture. By the early 1900s, they were common knowledge. Many artists/writers continue to adorn their Tarot decks/books with pseudo-Egyptian motifs even today. Both Johannès Trismégiste and Huxley seem to be doing this, but for different reasons. Trismégiste does it to make his work more "authentic" and Huxley does it to ridicule this practice. I think it's probable that Sesostris was a famous enough historical figure for both Trismégiste and Huxley to have referenced him independently, but I'm not ruling out a connection. =)

Here are some pictures of the references from the books. Top left is the 1843 Trismégiste. Bottom left is the 1864 Trismégiste. On the right is the corresponding Jeu de la Princesse card at the BnF:

Re: Origin of the Grand Etteilla II lower panels...

Mike, John:

For some reason I was unable to post for a couple of months since my previous thread, and I haven’t got my notes to hand right now. In any case, the Tarot in Eliot’s Wasteland has been researched quite a bit, on account of the notoriety of the poem, and because of some the incongruities this presents. The point was that this identification - as far as I can tell, checking the usual suspects, Christian, Falconnier and a few others - is made for the first time in the Trismégiste book.

I could be wrong though, of course, given that this book was later recycled in turn, there is a chance that it too was cobbled together from other sources. It's also possible that Huxley came up with this all by himself, although I'd be curious to see a list of the books in his library, if such a thing exists.

Finally, to add another twist in gender, Anthony Burgess - himself an amateur of the Tarot - used to dress up as a “Madame Sosostris” and read cards at fairgrounds, according to his book review of Dummett’s “Game of Tarot”!

“In 1949 I managed to get hold of a copy of Papus's The Tarot of the Bohemians, which exalts the cards as the 'absolute key to occult science', and, with its aid, turned myself into a fairly efficient Madame Sosostris of the charity bazaars. Michael Dummett now comes along to tell us that the Tarot is primarily for games, not cartomancy, and that there is nothing either venerable or mystical about it.”

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