Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#41
robert wrote:I also wonder if this couldn't be cleaned up a bit.. still seems confusing as is:

The trump series originally had a coherent meaning.
There are three families of orders for the trump series.
Every one of the original orders has a coherent symbolic meaning.
Not every tarot trump series has a coherent meaning.
I think what could be confusing is the last point.

Marco

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#42
marco wrote:
robert wrote:So for number 9, is this acceptable:

There is no esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, heretical or magical narrative of the trumps.

???
Hello Robert,
to me it's ok.
If possible, I would only make clear that we speak of the orginal, intended, narrative of the Trumps. Today, all the above narratives exist, and a few of them have been around for a couple of centuries :)
Well, aren't we talking about the building blocks of Tarot History? If we qualify this, than don't we have to start qualifying many things?
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

#43
robert wrote:I also wonder if this couldn't be cleaned up a bit.. still seems confusing as is:

The trump series originally had a coherent meaning.
There are three families of orders for the trump series.
Every one of the original orders has a coherent symbolic meaning.
Not every tarot trump series has a coherent meaning.
I'll have to think about where the confusion lies. With the force and meaning of the term "original"?

For the last one, I felt it had to be there because it addresses the possibility of random changes with no narrative function in the sequence.

This is important because of the "null-hypothesis" (Michael Hurst's term I think), advanced by Dummett on pages 387-388 of Game of Tarot concerning interpretations of the meaning of the sequence, or whether it has one:
I do not even want to take a stand about the theories that have been advanced. The question is whether a theory is needed at all. I do no mean to deny that some of the subjects , or some of the details of their conventional representations, may have had a symbolic significance obvious to fifteenth-century Italians, or, at least, to educated ones, that escapes us and may be revealed by patient research; that is very likely to be the case. But the question is whether the sequence as a sequence has any special symbolic meaning. I am inclined to think that it did not: to think, that is, that those who originally designed the Tarot pack were doing the equivalent, for their day, of those who later selected a sequence of animal pictures to adorn the trump cards of the new French-suited pack. They wanted to design a new kind of pack with an additional set of twenty-one picture cards that would play a special, indeed a quite new, role in the game; so they selected for those cards a number of subjects, most of them entirely familiar, that would naturally come to the mind of someone at a fifteenth-century Italian court.
The problem for me with the Animal Tarock analogy is, of course, that the numbers are already there. They did all the work - any pictures at all, or none at all, could be there - the numbers tell you everything you need to know.

This isn't possible before numbers were placed on the cards, which is presumably the case in the earliest period. When the numbers aren't there to tell you what order the pictures go in, the pictures themselves have to tell you - and when pictures tell you something, that's a narrative. Narrative is by definition a story, and a story by definition has a meaning. Therefore, the order of the unnumbered cards had to have had a meaning - they told a story.

The problem is that numbers quickly got added, already maybe in the 1450s in some places (like the numbers on the Charles VI), and in Ferrara at least by the late 15th century. So we can't take it for granted that on a numbered pack, every visual or pictorial aspect actually has narrative intent. The numbers would presumably have been the only thing the players looked at, and the images were secondary.

So I felt it important to stress that, although we can presume the three original orders were meant to convey a narrative, probably without numbers, we can't take for granted that any given set of images is free of superfluous or incidental - non-narrative - decoration.

Ross
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Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#44
robert wrote:So for number 9, is this acceptable:

There is no esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, heretical or magical narrative of the trumps.

???
How about then: "There is no esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, heretical or magical narrative intended in the original set of trumps."

With the word "intended" we also take care of Prudence's concern about what somebody might have seen in the trumps, whether intended or not.
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Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#45
While I agree that astrology does not have a role in determining the overall structure, I do not think we can be certain that some astrological content is not a part of the sequence.

Also not sure what is meant by numerological, it is quite possible some number symbolism, possibly of a biblical nature, does have some determining impact upon the sequence (in fixing the hanged man and death at 12 and 13 for example).
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: The building blocks of Tarot History

#46
SteveM wrote:While I agree that astrology does not have a role in determining the overall structure, I do not think we can be certain that some astrological content is not a part of the sequence.
I don't think we can be certain either, but proposing it as more than a possibility is controversial, since no convincing case has ever been made. So if one IS made, we could go back and take out the word astrological. Otherwise, since just about anything is a logical possibility, we have to leave everything open - i.e. no possible interpretation of Tarot can be denied, whether there is evidence or argument for it or not, and ignoring that none of the positive evidence supports such ideas. Is this the consensus view of members here?
Also not sure what is meant by numerological, it is quite possible some number symbolism, possibly of a biblical nature, does have some determining impact upon the sequence (in fixing the hanged man and death at 12 and 13 for example).
I found that the number 13 was not associated with "death" anywhere but Tarot, and that as "bad luck" (not necessarily death) the earliest evidence of it comes from Montaigne in the 16th century (the superstition about not having 13 seated at a table - obviously coming from the Gospel story, but not clearly related to Tarot in any way)
http://ludustriumphorum.blogspot.com/20 ... -card.html
I would be very happy if someone could find something earlier than the tendency of Tarot packs to put Death at 13, but so far no evidence has come up, and that is by good researchers who looked at just this question (Hopper and Lachenmeyer, quoted on my blog above - read Hopper's remarks particularly closely).

Moreover, in Italy the bad luck - death number is 17, and this is attested there earlier than any superstition involving 13 - excluding Tarot. So, we are left to wonder whether Tarot really did mean to associate Death and 13, or whether with the spread of Tarot in the 16th century the number became associated with bad luck and death because of Tarot.

I don't think there is much evidence, therefore, that numerology played any role in assigning the images their places in the sequence.

Ross
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Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#47
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
SteveM wrote:While I agree that astrology does not have a role in determining the overall structure, I do not think we can be certain that some astrological content is not a part of the sequence.
I don't think we can certain either, but proposing it as more than a possibility is controversial, since no convincing case has ever been made. [/i]
At least one early deck shows three astologers wise men with the star doesn't it? Which would indicate to me a reference to the Star as signifying the birth of the King of Kings on earth - is that not 'astrological?'

Personally I tend to see them as markers of time, between the fall and restoration.
Also not sure what is meant by numerological, it is quite possible some number symbolism, possibly of a biblical nature, does have some determining impact upon the sequence (in fixing the hanged man and death at 12 and 13 for example).
I found that the number 13 was not associated with "death" anywhere but Tarot...
The association I think is with the traitor at 12 (associated with betrayal through Judas, the 12th disciple), with which death is always paired?

It is also pretty straightforward relationship between the smallest things, a trifle, a bagattelle being assigned to the lowest number in the sequence, and the biggest 'the world' going to the highest number (in some patterns).

There is also the bloodline of Adam to Adam over 77 generations, traditionally split 21/56; that could be related to the 'original' being seen as (or developing into) a 'triumph' of Christ, and associated with the later given name of Tarocch (tree of life, bloodline). So a triumphal sequence related to christian salvation an important element, the tree of life Adam to Adam, is alluded to in the numeration - we may note the tree of life is a common feature of certain types of triumphal procession, as we may find for example in 'Enter the King'.
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: The building blocks of Tarot History

#48
SteveM wrote: The association I think is with the traitor at 12 (associated with betrayal through Judas, the 12th disciple), with which death is always paired?
Is death always paired with Judas? I'm sure Judas is not in every picture of Death, nor Death those of Judas.

Also, is he always the "12th" disciple, in every list?

Isn't 12 a supremely holy number in Christianity, and a standard "completed" number in just about every western system or philosophy? Why would Tarot's designer turn it into the worst of possible numbers, when everybody would assume it to be one of the best?
There is also the bloodline of Adam to Adam over 77 generations, traditionally split 21/56; that could be related to the 'original' being seen as (or developing into) a 'triumph' of Christ, and associated with the later given name of Tarocch (tree of life, bloodline).
I'm not sure what you're talking about here. Please elaborate. What traditions make this kind of split? Why don't any tarot cards show some or any of the figures of this genealogy - and which card is the first Adam? The Ace of Batons or something? How would you guess which it was, and why would you think such an idea was even plausible for the interpretation of the Tarot in the first place?

Where does "tarocch" mean "bloodline" or "tree of life", and why would they spell it like that, when using the "h" after a "c" in Italian serves the sole purpose of making sure that the reader knows the "c" is hard just before an "e" or an "i" (i.e. a plural)? (that's why "tarocco" becomes "tarocchi"). In other words, why a double "cc" with an "h"? If it's not Italian, why a double c?

It smells suspicious, on the face of it. It is also suspicious that none of the trumps show any of the characters of Jesus' immediate ancestry. What you are saying seems to be proposing that some obscure (unknown) person with obscure sources in mind created the Tarot to represent these ideas, and that a few generations later another obscure person (unknown) using an obscure sense of a known word decided to change the name of the game to this known word with the obscure meaning, based on his knowledge of the obscure inventor's obscure intention (he must have, since he divined the original intention correctly, or was part of a completely obscure tradition that passed the knowledge on) - and that this name became universal almost overnight, but the meaning of which was known to nobody ever throughout history.

I think this qualifies as a crackpot idea.

Ross
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Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#49
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
SteveM wrote: The association I think is with the traitor at 12 (associated with betrayal through Judas, the 12th disciple), with which death is always paired?

Is death always paired with Judas? I'm sure Judas is not in every picture of Death, nor Death those of Judas.

Also, is he always the "12th" disciple, in every list?
Is not the traitor always paired with death?

And yes, in every biblical listing of Judas he is listed 12th, with the additional comment of his betrayal.

There is also the bloodline of Adam to Adam over 77 generations, traditionally split 21/56; that could be related to the 'original' being seen as (or developing into) a 'triumph' of Christ, and associated with the later given name of Tarocch (tree of life, bloodline).
I'm not sure what you're talking about here. Please elaborate. What traditions make this kind of split?

[/quote]

Christian tradition lists the geneology from Adam to Abraham to Second Adam - 21 generations and 56.
Where does "tarocch" mean "bloodline" or "tree of life", and why would they spell it like that, when using the "h" after a "c" in Italian serves the sole purpose of making sure that the reader knows the "c" is hard just before an "e" or an "i" (i.e. a plural)? (that's why "tarocco" becomes "tarocchi"). In other words, why a double "cc" with an "h"? If it's not Italian, why a double c?
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: The building blocks of Tarot History

#50
Steve, you seem to be proposing the following:

An inventor noticed 56 cards in a regular deck, and thought of the 56 generations leading up to a "traditional split" with a subsequent 21. The inventor thought - I'll add 21 more, to represent the Triumph of Christ. (and a Fool, just to make the game fun).

The inventor called this game "triumph", and used the normal deck as it was, and added the 21 with different kinds of symbols. These symbols were not intended to represent the 21 generations, except by their very number. The inventor decided to make a few allusions to the life of Christ however, like to Judas and maybe Mary. But he put Christ at the end, so the meaning would be clear.

This game circulated widely under the name Triumphs, and took many forms, none of which represented the hidden inspiration of the inventor.

Late in the 15th century or early 16th century, somebody came along and divined that the game represented the 56+21 generations from Adam to Christ (the New Adam). He decided to rename the game to make that connection clear, calling it "tarocch", which meant "bloodline" (the generations) and "tree of life" (the New Adam, Christ). This name was adopted by all happily, without ever mentioning the meaning.

So, some questions. Since Triumph did not represent the generations, how did the secondary namer know that it meant that? Either there was a tarot that has not survived that he saw which expressed it, or he guessed, or he was part of a tradition that taught it. In any case, this secondary namer was very influential.

Which scenario are you proposing?
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