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.
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.
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?).
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)).
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.
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