Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#121
SteveGus wrote: There do seem to be a number of universals shared by every variant order.

1. Human figures < Allegorical figures < Cosmological figures < Eschatological figures.
2. The human figures would appear to be loosely ranked by social status.
3. The eschatological figures would appear to be sequenced according to Christian theology.
4. In decks that contain the image, the Grim Reaper is always number 13, even in traditions that expand or reduce the number of trump cards and symbols.
5. In decks that contain the Devil, he is usually followed by an emblem of disaster and misfortune: a lightning struck tower, a lightning struck tree, or damned souls possibly escaping from (Minchiate) or being drummed into (Paris Tarot) Hell.
Nice to see you Steve. I like this summary very much.
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#122
Psykees wrote:Hi all...not to throw any monkey wrenches into the consideration, but pretty much all 560 pages of my recent work argues against:

There is no esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, heretical, magical in the narrative of the trumps.i
Hi Dai (Psykees),

My copy of your book just arrived. I am thrilled to see such a weighty tome and expect to find within its pages much more than the usual superficialities.

Mostly though, I thank you for arguing against the above statement, “There is no. . .” which I find incredibly arrogant. It is one thing to say that one does not see evidence of such significance, or to say that one remains unconvinced by scant evidence, but the proposal here is to simply issue an unequivocal decree. This, coupled with the attendant ridicule of any who may entertain speculation will not only stifle discussion, but may prevent the emergence of new information. Perhaps that is the real intent. —Marcei

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#123
Marcei wrote:
Psykees wrote:Hi all...not to throw any monkey wrenches into the consideration, but pretty much all 560 pages of my recent work argues against:

There is no esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, heretical, magical in the narrative of the trumps.i
Hi Dai (Psykees),

My copy of your book just arrived. I am thrilled to see such a weighty tome and expect to find within its pages much more than the usual superficialities.

Mostly though, I thank you for arguing against the above statement, “There is no. . .” which I find incredibly arrogant. It is one thing to say that one does not see evidence of such significance, or to say that one remains unconvinced by scant evidence, but the proposal here is to simply issue an unequivocal decree. This, coupled with the attendant ridicule of any who may entertain speculation will not only stifle discussion, but may prevent the emergence of new information. Perhaps that is the real intent. —Marcei
I just don't think that is the case. Isn't it also arrogant to ignore the research and evidence that has been accumulated over the past years, decades and centuries and to insist that those who choose to rely on it to build an understanding of the actual history of the development of tarot are somehow seeking to prevent the new information from coming to light?

I don't like being painted as some baddie who is trying to stifle the "truth" from emerging. I'm completely the opposite, I'm trying to get to the truth. That is my sole goal in this, and the reason for this forum is to share that journey with others who want to discover the truth. I have no qualm whatsoever with there being an "esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, heretical, magical in the narrative of the trumps", but so far, after years of discussing this and looking for it, no one has found the evidence to prove this. If it is there, let's discuss it. Simple as that.

Personally, nothing would delight me more than finding out that the tarot is some secret book of magic from Egypt, or a lost Templar code book. Yay! I would be beside myself, and I suspect most of the other people who are looking for the truth here would also be just as happy to see this evidence. I'm no pro-Catholic, anti-pagan (that's laughable if you knew me) trying to suppress the truth, I'm an earnestly interested hobbyist who want's to cut through all of the lies and stories and fantasies that have been piled on top of these cards and find out what actually happened 500 years ago to create this deck. If it's Atlantis.. fabulous, but if it isn't, and there is no magic behind it, then that has to be fine with me too. I'm have no pet theory to prove for the origin, I'm an equal opportunity disbeliever desperately trying to find something worthy of believing... but that's going to be based on evidence, not wishful thinking.

The point of this area within the forum is to look at actual research and evidence and to hold these theories to something like the same degree that any other historical examination would be. The point of this thread is to try to establish a foundation for what we know so far based on the evidence that has been collected. If anyone would like to discuss theories that have substantiating evidence, this forum is the place to present them. If anyone wants to discuss theories without evidence to support them, then there are other places on the forum to explore ideas. But ultimately, I'm not willing to believe in something just because I think it is nice, or exciting, or wonderful to do so, I will believe in something because I can be convinced by the evidence that it is the most likely explanation. What I believe changes all of the time as new evidence is presented, that's the whole point, we have an evolving understanding of tarot history. If we have evidence to present that changes the "building blocks", then lets discuss it; but no one should be accused of trying to suppress information, I don't believe that true of anyone here; it's unfair, and takes the discussion away from the facts about tarot history, and belittles all of us who really are, after all, only trying to find the truth.
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#124
If there is an order, or at least a series of smaller orders, based on the notional content of the card images, then it seems to me that, at minimum, some sort of significance to that order, even if the eighteenth to twenty-first century magical or mystery traditions exaggerated the level of sophistication there when they sought to incorporate the Tarot into their belief systems.

The chief areas of disagreement are probably significant in themselves:

- Disagreements about the relative rankings of the Emperor (and his family) versus the Pope (and his "family"?) I know just enough of the relevant history to think this may have been a Big Deal during the period of Italian history in question. In some traditions, the Pope and Papess were suppressed very early, of course.
- The rankings of the several allegorical virtues;
- The World versus the Last Judgment. If the Tarot de Marseille image of The World was originally a male figure representing Christ's return to found the New Jerusalem, it makes theological sense for it to be the last. But if it is downgraded to being simply an image of the world or cosmos, theology suggests that the Judgment should rank higher. And this is what we see happening in many of the variant orders.

The earliest painted decks are uniformly missing Death, the Devil, and the Tower. There's some dispute as to whether they never had them, or whether they were discarded or not commissioned by the folks who paid for them. It doesn't really matter for this purpose who's right. If they were removed, it's because the subjects were understood, and thus gave offense. If they were added later, it seems likely because a set of images that already has the Last Judgment and Second Coming would seem incomplete without Death, the Devil, and Hell.
Le beau valet de coeur et la dame de pique
Causent sinistrement de leurs amours défunts.

- Baudelaire

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#125
Hello all,

Perhaps I have expressed myself poorly. Let me try to clarify my position.

Robert, it was not my intention to paint you as a “baddie,” and I do apologize if I seem to have done so.

It is clear that many of you have reached a conclusion that you honestly feel is strongly supported by historical evidence, and it would be fine to say that. In the building block, however, this conclusion is being stated as established fact; and I think that is misleading. There may at present be no incontrovertible evidence to prove that the trumps are anything other than 15th century images gathered together for the sole purpose of creating a game, but neither is there incontrovertible evidence that this is all that they are.

Robert, you said,
Isn't it also arrogant to ignore the research and evidence that has been accumulated over the past years, decades and centuries. . .
It certainly would be arrogant to ignore research and evidence, but I don't believe that I am doing that. I simply don't find the evidence conclusive.

Regarding evidence, JMD wrote,
There now is a wealth of historical work that has been done on the history of astrology, Kabbalah and Alchemy (to take three of those initially). NONE of those three areas have sequences that reflect what is found in the sequence of trump imagery, even when those are variously ordered. This does not mean that later decks were not modified in order for one or another of those to more-or-less be reflected therein, for there is, of course, evidence that this has occured (especially over the past 150 years). Of the thousands of manuscripts in Alchemy, which displays sequences as important in the process; of thousands of manuscripts on astrology (and astronomy), in which sequences or coherent 'sets' are also important (spatially arranged, as opposed to temporally arranged for alchemy); and of the numerous (thousands also?) of Kallalistic tracts (many of which, admittedly, remain in the province of a few Rabbis), NONE even approximate trump 'sequence', but on the contrary each displays their own inherent sequence peculiar to their area (astrology, alchemy, etc.), and that those are generally consistent within each discipline!

The various writings and other illustrations of numerological, heretical, magical and other 'esoteric' documents that are extent and have been studied similarly displays consistency within its discipline, and that those do not mirror nor approximate tarot sequences.

The conclusion is therefore that what IS known of sequences in astrology, alchemy, Kabbalah, etc, does not reflect sequences in tarot.
I think the operative phrase here is in the last sentence, “what IS known,” and what is known is not conclusive because those doing the searching are not privy to information that was too heretical to state in an overt way. Furthermore, all traditions have information that is exoteric, and they have information that is esoteric; the Church itself is no exception to this rule. In fact you can take that reality all the way back to clearly stated evidence in the “Naghammadi Library,” —extant manuscripts whose translations are now available to the layman.

It seems to me that if we make a premature conclusion into a building block we will have a false foundation.

I would also ask, Robert, why it is necessary to trivialize me by implying that I am a proponent of fantastic claims ”some secret book of magic from Egypt, or a lost Templar code book” for I am promoting none of these things. I have said that I personally believe that the series of images called trumps had/have meanings beyond the standard Christian explainations already discussed, but I do not state that opinion as fact, nor do I think the theories of others should be stated as facts.

Enrique, you said,
There is some evidence about the tarot being used for divination from a very early point in time, but none such evidence support the idea of the tarot being created for divination at its purpose.
I never said that it was, nor do I personally believe that that was the original intent. What I said was, “There is no evidence that the tarot was originally intended to be used for divination. It is likely, however, that its suitability for this purpose was recognized and that it was used in this way very early on.” After which I provided space for the earliest documented date which I didn't take time to look up. Again, my personal belief is that divination was not the original intent but I did not state that as fact. I said, “There is no evidence. . .”

Enrique, you also said, The idea of several lectures being possible on the tarot’s narrative makes me uncomfortable because it is anachronistic.” I cannot understand why the trumps having more than one line of meaning (if I am correctly understanding what you mean by “lectures”) would make you uncomfortable. And I certainly don't understand why such would be anachronistic since we have already recognized 3 different regional sequences, each likely having had some rationalization.

Marco, you wrote,
I don't think that the Building Blocks should be an exahustive list of all that is possible.
I agree. I never said it should be. My proposed statement you referenced read: “Tarot's invention arose by adding a unique group of cards (to be used as a permanent trump suit) to a previously existing deck of playing cards that was itself derived from the 13th century Mamluk deck, consisting of pips and figures divided in four different suits.”

Then you wrote,
They should be a list of solid theories for which there is a lot of evidence.
Here you lost me. I understood the building blocks not to be theories, solid or otherwise, but to be facts supported by evidence. Enrique called them, “...the building blocks of the confirmed tarot history, the one that is supported by evidence.” (though he probably will not like me using his statement to support mine :D ) So maybe I don't understand what is intended by “building blocks.”

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#126
Marcei wrote: Mostly though, I thank you for arguing against the above statement, “There is no. . .” which I find incredibly arrogant. It is one thing to say that one does not see evidence of such significance, or to say that one remains unconvinced by scant evidence, but the proposal here is to simply issue an unequivocal decree. This, coupled with the attendant ridicule of any who may entertain speculation will not only stifle discussion, but may prevent the emergence of new information. Perhaps that is the real intent
About the intent to "prevent the emergence of new information", I can only observe that Statement 9 has been proposed by the person in this forum that is providing the greatest amount of authentic and extremely precious new information. Such as XVII century descriptions of cartomancy recorded in the acts of the Spanish Inquistion:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=210

Marco

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#127
robert wrote: Personally, nothing would delight me more than finding out that the tarot is some secret book of magic from Egypt, or a lost Templar code book. Yay! I would be beside myself, and I suspect most of the other people who are looking for the truth here would also be just as happy to see this evidence.
Marcei wrote: I would also ask, Robert, why it is necessary to trivialize me by implying that I am a proponent of fantastic claims ”some secret book of magic from Egypt, or a lost Templar code book” for I am promoting none of these things.
Hi Marcei,

I meant exactly what I said, and I wasn't in any way suggesting anything about you or your claims. My point was solely that I would personally dearly love to have a more exciting explanation for the origin of the cards, and that I suspect that most of the other members of the forum would love it too. I chose Egypt and Templars because they were the first two things that came to mind as popular theories that I would find incredibly delightful were they to be proved true, just as I stated. It wasn't about you at all, it was about me.

And my point really is that I don't see myself or most of the people on this forum as trying to suppress anything, rather, we are trying to expose. I think most of us came to tarot hoping to find evidence other than what is presented in the building blocks, and there is still a part of me that keeps looking elsewhere still; but I think that the desire to find the truth outweighs the desire to find a more fabulous origin, so we work with what we have until some evidence comes along to take us in another direction.

That said, I still think there are lots of wonderful mysteries to be solved working within the building blocks: Which order is the oldest? How old is the Tarot de Marseille? Is it French or Italian? Why did the Vieville use iconography from decks like the Minchiate or Bologna? Were there originally titles and numbers on the Tarot de Marseille? Why is the Popess in the Deck? or the Hanged Man? What is the meaning of the Fire/Lightening/Tower? Who is the figure on the Tarot de Marseille World card? Is the Belgian based on the Vieville or do they share a similar source? Which is older Tarot de Marseille I or Tarot de Marseille II? What is the Cary Sheet and where is it from? Were there originally 22 trumps? etc....
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#128
marco wrote:
Marcei wrote: Mostly though, I thank you for arguing against the above statement, “There is no. . .” which I find incredibly arrogant. It is one thing to say that one does not see evidence of such significance, or to say that one remains unconvinced by scant evidence, but the proposal here is to simply issue an unequivocal decree. This, coupled with the attendant ridicule of any who may entertain speculation will not only stifle discussion, but may prevent the emergence of new information. Perhaps that is the real intent
About the intent to "prevent the emergence of new information", I can only observe that Statement 9 has been proposed by the person in this forum that is providing the greatest amount of authentic and extremely precious new information. Such as XVII century descriptions of cartomancy recorded in the acts of the Spanish Inquistion:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=210

Marco
Exactly.
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#129
I apologize for offending you, Robert. I wish that I had been more diplomatic in voicing my objections to what I considered a premature conclusion :ymblushing: . This forum is a most valuable tool for collecting objective information on the history of the tarot, and it only exists thanks to your tireless efforts to maintain it.

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#130
Marcei wrote:I apologize for offending you, Robert. I wish that I had been more diplomatic in voicing my objections to what I considered a premature conclusion :ymblushing: . This forum is a most valuable tool for collecting objective information on the history of the tarot, and it only exists thanks to your tireless efforts to maintain it.
That's very kind, and also unnecessary Marcei. I think that fundamentally, all of us are much closer to agreement on things than we are in disagreement, and writing on a forum is not the ideal way to have conversations of this sort.

It's not me that makes this forum, it's you and the other members who contribute to it, otherwise I'd just be talking to myself (or margo, or james.. :D ).

I am in awe of the level of knowledge and the many different types of contributions made by members here, and I am very glad to have you be a part of it.

I'm much more of the Judy and Mickey "Come on everyone, if we all pitch in together we can put on the best show ever and save the theatre!", type of working with others than I am into flaming and arguing. My favourite threads are ones where everyone contributes and we discover new things together, and I hope that we can all do that a bit more often.
:-bd
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

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