EnriqueEnriquez wrote:Yes, I agree. I wasn’t taking into consideration the narratives of the whole process, the divinatory relationship, between reader and client, but speaking from a technical point of view about how much information was extracted from the oracle itself.
an early account of "clairvoyant" divination with cards - at least I think that is the best interpretation of it. I think the storyteller's reaction - calling it "sorcery" - indicates he was thinking in ways we might now call suggestion or hypnosis.
In 1620 John Melton recorded the following story in Astrologaster, or, The Figure Caster. It was repeated by William Rowland, in Judiciall astrologie, judicially condemned (London, 1652) and tells of Henry Cuffe, (1563-1601), secretary to the Earl of Essex, whose death was foretold by cards twenty years before it happened. Cuffe was executed in 1601, so the incident allegedly dates from 1581 when he would have been 18 years old:
“There was another Wizard (as it was reported to me by a learned and rare Scholler, as we were discoursing about Astrologie) that some twentie yeeres before his death told Cuffe our Countreyman, and a most excellent Graecian, that hee should come to an untimely end: at which, Cuffe laughed, and in a scoffing manner entreated the Astrologer to shew him in what manner he should come to his end: who condiscended to him, and calling for Cards, entreated Cuffe to draw out of the Packe three, which pleased him; who did so, and drew three Knaves: who (by the Wizards direction) layd them on the Table againe with their faces downewards, and then told him, if hee desired to see the summe of his bad fortunes reckoned up, to take up those Cards one after another, and looke on the inside of them, and he shluld be trouly resolved of his future fortunes. Cuffe did as he was prescribed, and first took up the first Card, and looking on it, he saw the true portraiture of himselfe Cape a Pe [hat on head], having men compassing him about with Bills and Halberds: then he tooke up the second Card, and there saw the Judge that sat upon him: at last, he tooke up the last Card, & saw Tyborne, the place of his Execution, & the Hangman, at which he then laughed heartily; but many yeres after, being condemned for Treason, he remembred the fatall Prediction of the Wizard, & before his death revealed it to some of his friends. If this be true, it was more then Astrology, and no better then flat Sorcery or Conjuring, which is divellish.” [John Melton, "Astrologaster, or, The Figure Caster" (1620), p.42. (thanks to Michael Hurst)]
Whether "true" or not, it is clear to me that Melton was repeating a story he believed, and as he describes it, what happened is that the Wizard turned three Knaves into the cards that Cuffe saw, and Cuffe - according to Melton - created a narrative out of them at least at the time leading up to his execution
I tend to see veracity in the story. Melton obviously doesn't know about cartomancy, which is why he is shocked at it, and this corresponds to what we might expect of cartomancy to have looked like in those first few centuries - ad hoc, local, opportunistic - but the point in response to your statement here is that it was explicitly deriving narrative information from the images
This suggests to me that a creative use of cards for creating hypothetical narratives relevant to the immediate and credulous interests of a questioner (using credulous
not as a negative term here but only as the best I can think of for "the questioner believes
such a method can help them" - no different, in other words, from going to a priest, counselor or psychotherapist - i.e. referring to an authority, without judgment as to whether the basis of belief in the authority is "superstitious" or not) is an innate
reaction to randomizable images (and texts, like bibliomancy, or drawing phrases from a hat), and a probable
use of cards as "cartomancy" - as we would recognize it - from very early times.