Re: Spanish cartomancy, help with translation

#31
Thanks VERY much for that Enrique.

Yes, Marino says that trintin and perseguera are otherwise unattested. I speculated that "trintin" might be a form of "trente-et-un", whether it came from French or is just a corrupt Spanish word. Eugim wrote someone in Barcelona who responded saying that "trintin" is a word for the tinkling sound of coins on a table as well. Your speculations about perseguera being a trumping game sound plausible. One of the characteristics of trumping games is the requirement to "follow suit", so maybe that is where the "pursuit" comes from.

But the most important thing is your understanding of the cartomantic passage. Finding Estopañán's - and a few others of the 17th century - references were astounding enough. But with a casual method like this so early (around 1450), it is a minor revolution in our understanding of when and how cards were used for divination. It doesn't matter that it's not cartomancy "as we know it" - what matters is that it is cartomancy at all, and moreover that we can begin writing a history of cartomancy that seems more intuitively correct - i.e., that people took to using cards to answer questions about "hidden" matters pretty much as soon as they appeared.

As late as 2007, Michael Dummett can write categorically "Fortune-telling with playing cards was unknown until the eighteenth century." (The Philosophy of Michael Dummett (Open Court, 2007) p. 917). These sorts of references are direct refutations of that statement. The occult/esoteric "moralization" of playing cards and tarot is certainly a product of the late 18th century, but fortune-telling is something else entirely, having no necessary relationship with esoteric doctrines beyond a belief in providence (is a belief in providence esoteric?).

Best regards,

Ross
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Re: Spanish cartomancy, help with translation

#32
Hi Ross,

I am glad you liked the video.
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:I can't decide between sleight of hand and suggestion in this story, since what Cuffe claims he saw doesn't resemble any Jacks I've ever seen. An early commentator (Taylor in the 19th century?) on this story thought they were tarot cards - if so, the conjurer made Cuffe choose the Knaves and part of the story is missing - the conjurer had to get his hands back on the cards somehow to change them into other cards, maybe Tarot cards. But just having a Valet, Justice, and the Hanged Man still wouldn't guarantee the Cuffe interpreted them "right". I guess some degree of suggestion had to have been at work. I'm no magician though, so pure sleight of hand may really account for the changed cards, although what kind of cards they were is still unresolved.
It is possible for it to be a mix of both. If the conjurer switched the ‘plain’ knaves by cards that were more appropriate for Cuffe, -as we may see by Scot’s book, this was a common sleight- Cuffe’s impact/surprise after turning them over could have confused him enough for him to become more open to suggestions. That’s a common practice of popular healers and shamans: a small trick opens the way for a bigger suggestion. So, after a switch like this, any interpretation the conjurer may have suggested was more likely to be accepted. Then you have selective recollection: Cuffe may not remember that the conjurer took the deck back and handled it, and more important, afterwards he may have recalled the reading, and the images, in a way that felt closer to his own fears, projections, or to the way the actual events of his life unfolded.


Best,


EE
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Re: Spanish cartomancy, help with translation

#33
Hi Enrique,
EnriqueEnriquez wrote: It is possible for it to be a mix of both. If the conjurer switched the ‘plain’ knaves by cards that were more appropriate for Cuffe, -as we may see by Scot’s book, this was a common sleight- Cuffe’s impact/surprise after turning them over could have confused him enough for him to become more open to suggestions. That’s a common practice of popular healers and shamans: a small trick opens the way for a bigger suggestion. So, after a switch like this, any interpretation the conjurer may have suggested was more likely to be accepted. Then you have selective recollection: Cuffe may not remember that the conjurer took the deck back and handled it, and more important, afterwards he may have recalled the reading, and the images, in a way that felt closer to his own fears, projections, or to the way the actual events of his life unfolded.
That makes a lot of sense to me. I find it implausible that Cuffe would have randomly drawn three knaves to begin with, which makes me think it was a set-up for a sleight right away. But with Cuffe's little astonishment opening the way for a deeper suggestion, and then his selective memory, it makes perfect sense.

Ross
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Re: Spanish cartomancy, help with translation

#34
Ross,

It is indeed quite amazing to find such an early reference, in Spain!
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:The occult/esoteric "moralization" of playing cards and tarot is certainly a product of the late 18th century, but fortune-telling is something else entirely, having no necessary relationship with esoteric doctrines beyond a belief in providence (is a belief in providence esoteric?).
I am not sure about if it is or if it isn’t but if something is suggested by authors like Eliphas Levi or Papus is that cartomancy/fortunetelling was a lesser aspiration for any serious occultist. Somehow, that was the easy road, a deviation from the ‘transcendent’ quest for occult knowldge.

I was precisely thinking about this last night. I may be mistaken but my suspicion is that, with cartomancy, we are talking about a very popular, ‘low-brow’ phenomena: easy to use, easy to teach, easy to understand, and without any ‘big’ question behind it; while occultism and all the esoteric tradition seems more of an intellectual pursuit. On a different level, I tend to think that cartomancers weren’t looking for an alternative doctrine to Catholicism, while all the esoteric practices seem to be counter-cultural -as in non-mainstream- quest for an alternative spirituality.

Best,


EE
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Re: Spanish cartomancy, help with translation

#36
This is so basic, but I have to ask....are we calling this cartomancy and not divination then? :ymblushing:
"...he wanted to illustrate with his figures many Moral teachings, and under some difficulty, to bite into bad and dangerous customs, & show how today many Actions are done without goodness and honesty, and are accomplished in ways that are contrary to duty and rightfulness."

Re: Spanish cartomancy, help with translation

#38
I posted this on AT in response to a comment, but it is worthwhile to post it here too I think.

‘I am fearful and I conjure you,
By Barabbas, by Satan
And by Maria Padilla and all her band,
And by the Lame Devil,
So that it be quicker;
I command and ordain,
So that it tells me the truth.’

The spell translated above comes from Valérie Molero and Jacques Soubeyroux, “Magie et sorcellerie en Espagne au siècle des lumières”, pp. 225-226.) This is from the testimony of Francisca Romero in 1741:

"J'ai peur et je te conjure
par Barrabas, par Satan
et Maria Padilla et toute sa bande,
et par le Diable Boiteux, pour être plus rapide,
je commande et ordonne
qu'on me dise la vérité."

The same spell in Spanish by Francisca Romero, as given by María-Helena Sánchez Ortega (“La mujer como fuente del mal; el maleficio” (Manuscrits no. 9, Enero 1991, pp. 41-81), is slightly different:

"Yo tengo miedo y to conjuro
con Barrabás, con Satanás,
y María de Padilla y toda su cuadrilla
y el Diablo Cojuelo,
por ser más ligero,
le mando un pelo
porque se me diga la verdad."

This was translated for me by Enrique Enriquez:

"I am afraid and I conjure you
with Barrabás and Satan,
and with Maria de Padilla and her whole crew
and en Diablo Cojuelo
since he is the swiftest,
I send him a hair
for the truth be told to me.”

Particularly the difference between "je commande et ordonne" and "le mando un pelo" - I have to assume the French text is either a poor translation or a different text entirely (or that "le mando un pelo" is a way of saying "I command and ordain" (i.e. I REALLY command you)).

These texts have made me reconsider how I view the history of cartomancy, and its definition (at least for scientific/historical purposes).

The earliest kind of cartomancy is also the most intuitive and natural - pulling a card out like a lot or sort and taking the message from there. This is as simple as tossing a coin to make a decision or pulling daisy-leaves saying "he loves me, he loves me not." The games played this way are countless and can't be considered to have "begun" at any time - they are timeless. The earliest evidence of this kind of "play-divination" is evidently in the 1450s, with cards with stanzas written on them. They fall into the category of fortune cookies, pulling names out of a hat, letters of the alphabet, charades, whatever (you can see I view divination as a form of play, whether casual or serious) - in my definition, to be "active divination", there has to be a question asked and the answer is expected to reveal the truth. "Passive divination" is like the fortune-cookie - no question asked, but a fortune is given (nevertheless there is a context - a social ritual - that makes the moment of learning the "fortune" part of the overall scheme; hence a slight "anticipation", with an often implied, if secret "question", in the light of which the fortune is interpreted).

This leads to my second historical "requirement" to be true "cartomancy" - there has to be the belief that the supernatural is somehow involved, that God, spirits or destiny somehow guides the answer, and if it is a client-reader relationship, that the reader has prophetic ("mantic") insight somehow that is invisible to the client. Either appeal to spiritual forces or mantic power is sufficient for me to consider it, for historical purposes, cartomancy. Thus in its attenuated form nowadays, even without a prayer or incantation before the reading (which I have never seen done), if the client believes that the reader has mantic power, then it is still cartomancy.

This is what I think is so impressive about the Spanish accounts, which are careful to say a spell or incantation beforehand - there is a direct appeal to the hidden world of the spirits. This kind of thing is explicit even in the Golden Dawn's long method - "serious" occultists taking divination as seriously as the "superstitious" witchcraft methods.

But such methods, and even the belief system of modern sophisticated card-readers, have neither appeal to the spirits nor belief in the superior insight of the reader - it is something completely different nowadays, informed by psychology and narratology, where the participants, client and reader, together interpret the art on the cards in a process of making a story that brings insight to the client and perhaps a new perspective. It is therapeutic in other words, but completely divested of the supernatural aspects of traditional cartomancy.

Perhaps the loss of direct appeal to spiritual forces - and/or trust in the mantic powers of the reader - is answered in occultism by appeal to the authority of a fictitious antiquity. This endows the object itself - in this case, Tarot cards - with a numinous aura. Maybe this acquired "numinosity" is a substitute for the direct power of invoked magic.

Ross
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Re: Spanish cartomancy, help with translation

#39
Hi Ross,
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote: Particularly the difference between "je commande et ordonne" and "le mando un pelo" - I have to assume the French text is either a poor translation or a different text entirely (or that "le mando un pelo" is a way of saying "I command and ordain" (i.e. I REALLY command you)).

I think the sentence ‘the mando un pelo’ which translates as ‘I send you one hair’ refers to El Diablo Cojuelo from the previous sentence, and alludes to spell casting. It is believed that a hair, nail clippings or anything belonging to a person would be effective at activating a spell for/to/against that person. So, IMO, the spell reads as if the person who cast it is ‘giving one hair’ to the devil -El Diablo Cojuelo*- in exchange for information about the future.

I find peculiar that all these translations overlooked that sentence.

Recently I was told of a palm reader who, after taking a hair from the client’s head, will burn it and rub the ashes on the client’s palm before reading it. Since this isn’t consistent with any cartomantic system in itself I assume it is mere theatrics. But even so, the psychological effect of having part of your body, even if it is as seemingly irrelevant as one singe hair, forming part of the ritual is strong.


Best,


EE


*There is a novel by that Name “El Diablo Cojuelo” written by Luis Vélez Guevara in 1641 whose Spanish version can be found here: http://es.wikisource.org/wiki/El_diablo_cojuelo . There was also a Cuban literary Newspaper by the same name founded by Fermín Valdés Domínguez in 1852. But as far as I understand a “diablo cojuelo” -‘cojuelo’ would mean crippled or limping- is a popular little devil whose effects are more like pranks and mischief than actual damnation. This won’t be an actual ‘limping devil’ since ‘cojear’ or ‘to limp’ can be understood as having a ‘little deffect’ of moral nature. In other words, a diablo cojuelo would be a lesser/little demon, or a devilish spirit. In any case, I would love i anybody from Spain can expend on that.
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Re: Spanish cartomancy, help with translation

#40
Hello again Ross,
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote: This leads to my second historical "requirement" to be true "cartomancy" - there has to be the belief that the supernatural is somehow involved, that God, spirits or destiny somehow guides the answer, and if it is a client-reader relationship, that the reader has prophetic ("mantic") insight somehow that is invisible to the client. Either appeal to spiritual forces or mantic power is sufficient for me to consider it, for historical purposes, cartomancy. Thus in its attenuated form nowadays, even without a prayer or incantation before the reading (which I have never seen done), if the client believes that the reader has mantic power, then it is still cartomancy.

This is what I think is so impressive about the Spanish accounts, which are careful to say a spell or incantation beforehand - there is a direct appeal to the hidden world of the spirits. This kind of thing is explicit even in the Golden Dawn's long method - "serious" occultists taking divination as seriously as the "superstitious" witchcraft methods.
Even today, you will find such incantations in any divination system that is linked to a religion, like in the chamalongos (coconut shells) or the Diloggún (cowrie shells). The liturgy in these session is quite complex and it always ‘opens’ with a call to the spirits which is no different, in concept, to the ones you shared here from Spain. In fact, these oracles are seen as the spirit’s ‘mouths’, so, what occurs in the reading is a dialogue between the diviner and the spirits, whose answers can be seen on the ground or the board where the objects are cast.

These Spanish accounts are extraordinary in that, by reading them, you can get into the ambient of what a cartomantic session could have been. As with the shells or the coconuts, the main presupposition would be that the spirits invoked are speaking through the cards.

Incidentally, there is in Brazil a strong cartomantic tradition based on the LeNormand cards. It is said that the Lenormand cards were brought to Brazil by French prostitutes -if this is true, I have no way to understand why these cards are unheard of in other South American countries but, sadly, I don’t know anything about prostitutes, French or otherwise :D . The Lemormand pack is so popular in Brazil that they have their own slightly modified version, different from the French one. In any case, it is said that, in a reading, it is Pomba Gira Cigana Cartomance, a spiritual entity who is linked to Umbanda and Candomblé, the one who whispers the right words on the cartomancer’s ears. In other words, and probably because Candomblé and Umbanda are African-Diaspora Brazilian equivalent of Santería and Palo Mayombe (Cuba/ The Caribbean) or Voudou (Haiti), the reading is again a dialogue with a spirit.

Now, what I find interesting is that María Padilla (Maria Padilha) is one of the many identities for which Pomba Gira is known for. If you notice it, María Padilla is invoked in that Spanish incantation.

Pomba Gira is associated with prostitutes (maybe they also brought María Padilla to Brazil) and some people believes that, in order to be possessed by Pomba Gira the person has to be a woman or an homosexual. Other people disagrees with that and says that men can also be possessed by her. Some people advices decent girls against invoking Pomba Gira since she allegedly could turn them into prostitutes. (‘Pomba Gira’ means ‘swirling dove’ as a crazy dove who goes around in circles).


Best,


EE
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