Re: Neoplatonic Tarot? Start with O'Neill.

#21
mjhurst wrote:Hi, Robert,

Just a couple points: 1) remember O'Neill, and 2) what does Tarot mean?
robert wrote:In the Catholicism and tarot thread, Eugim suggested a connection between neoplatonism and tarot, which seems to have become rather a standard understanding of tarot development, especially since Robert Place's book.
I think that this has been the common refuge (as noted by Ross) of historically-oriented esotericists since Alfred Douglas (1972). It was developed in considerable detail by Robert V. O'Neill (1986), who credits Douglas and has said that he long used the Douglas-Sheridan deck for meditation. Bob's book remains the best example of interpretation in terms of Neoplatonic mysticism. So any discussion of the question must at least begin with his extensive research and analysis, the same way that any discussion of Tarot history must begin with Dummett.

O'Neill worked hard on the problem, examining all the traditional esoteric and exoteric explanations and systems. He could not discover any coherent design to the trump cycle. Tarot Symbolism is therefore most notable as a fairly exhaustive catalog of negative results, rejecting every theory put forth in the previous two centuries, written by someone trained as a research scientist, someone who has used the trumps for personal meditation for most of his adult life, someone personally committed to finding esoteric meaning in the trumps. That's kind of a big deal.

Although O’Neill rejected any grand synthesis or systematic integration of the assorted elements, anything which might be called a controlling didactic design to the trump cycle, he did present a framework for considering this eclectic hodge-podge as something more than a mere grab bag of esoteric images. It might be compared to a preacher’s sketchy notes for a long and rambling sermon, using examples taken from diverse areas. In a 2001 TarotL post, he described it as such: “I don’t see [early Tarot] as a grand synthesis. I see it more like a sermon. There is a basic Neoplatonic mystical story and illustrations/examples inserted—from Petrarch, Catholicism, Catharism(?), Alchemy, Astrology, Neopythagoreanism, Hermeticism, QBLH(?), etc.—attempting to assert that there is only one truth and all paths are the same. So it is a hodge-podge.”

The trump cycle might be better compared to snapshots from a long journey, pictures that are selected and assembled to remind one of the most moving experiences encountered in a wide ranging adventure. In the same post, O’Neill wrote: “Imagine you have taken a long journey and didn’t keep a diary but took snapshots. Afterwards, you select 21 images to represent the most significant experience you had at each of the 21 locations—hoping that each image would elicit the same kind of ‘feelings’ you had at that place. That is the kind of hodge-podge/synthesis I see in the Tarot.” In Tarot Symbolism he explained the purpose of such a design. “The Tarot is a guide to the mystic, not a system of theology. The purpose is to inform the mystic that the states he experiences at various stages of his journey are well-known. The cards are guideposts showing the mystic that he is not lost and his current state, no matter how strange it may seem, is normal and to be expected.” As such, it is in the tradition of ars memoria, a mnemonic structure, and the penultimate chapter of Tarot Symbolism is titled "The Art of Memory".

So, ex hypothesi, the content of the trumps is an esoteric sampler, and the purpose is to guide the mystic on his journey. Therefore, it must have been created by a mystic steeped in Renaissance esotericism. O’Neill explains his concept of a disjointed esoteric design by reference to a syncretic Renaissance mindset, referring to the writings of late fifteenth-century intellectuals like Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Ficino, whom O’Neill describes as the epitome of the “Renaissance Magus”, “reflected the mindset of the Renaissance intellectual, the mindset shared by the Tarot designers.” O’Neill prefaces his last chapter, “Final Interpretation of the Cards”, by saying that “the intention is to view the cards the way the original designers might have. To do this, we will place ourselves into the mindset of the Renaissance and suggest what the Renaissance Magus might have seen in the cards.” Thus, his historical theory encompasses not only the intended design, meaning, and purpose of the trump cycle, but also identifies in general terms the designer of Tarot. Tarot is thus a mystical Baedeker, essentially Neoplatonic, and its essence is the so-called “Fool´s Journey” interpretation as an historical theory of Tarot’s design, meaning, and purpose. As such, his essay on the Fool's Journey at tarot.com might be considered a supplemental chapter to Tarot Symbolism.

This gets back to the "how do we advance" question: ALWAYS we begin by looking to those who have gone before. We can only see farther than them if we stand on their shoulders. (Apologies to Newton.)
robert wrote:Do we agree that there is a relationship between Neoplatonism and tarot?
I'm not sure what you are suggesting we agree with. You are asking about the appropriateness of a very broad label to a very diverse body of artifacts, so the question borders on the meaningless. What do you mean by Neoplatonism? Some people would say that any medieval hierarchy owes some debt to the Neoplatonists, and the trumps are by definition a hierarchy. Otherwise they would not serve as trumps in a card game. Some say empty things like "everything" was influenced by Neoplatonism, so Tarot must be Neoplatonic. To avoid such embarrassment, you have to obey the First Commandment of The Reformed Church of JK: Be specific.

There is one aspect of the trump cycle that is directly related to mystical hierarchies, beyond simply being a hierarchy of trumps. However, as with the rest of the meaning of the trump cycle, I wasn't looking for it and the label only became appropriate after finding the meaning which justified it. (If you can't explain the trump cycle then you obviously can't meaningfully categorize it -- you don't know what it is!) IMO, "Neoplatonic" is a label that can be meaningfully applied to one aspect of one section of the trump cycle.

More generally, I use labels like "Stoic-Christian", "secular", "mainstream Christian", "Triumph of Death", "De Casibus narrative" or "Triumph of Fortune", "Roman Catholic", and so on all the time. But before I started using any of those labels, I figured out what the hell Tarot means. Labels come last, to categorize and summarize the more detailed findings.

For example, if we accept Moakley's analysis then the proper labels might include things like "Carnivalesque parody of Petrarch's Trionfi". If we accept Shephard's analysis, then "astrological cosmograph" would be a good label. If we don't accept that analysis, then that would not be a good way to label it. So the first question is, can you explain the trump cycle? Your question begs the more fundamental question -- what does Tarot mean?

BTW, Psykees -- rather than attacking an anonymous "cabal" for claims that no one ever actually made, if you feel the need to attack someone you might want to 1) name them and 2) quote what they actually wrote, then 3) dispute them with evidence and argument.

Playing-card historians are extremely unlikely to have said what you suggest, to focus exclusively on one deck, or region, or ordering. From the historical point of view, which you evidently fail to grasp, each historical revisioning is an interesting artifact in its own right. Art historians aren't looking for the "true" Tarot with the secret teachings of the ages or any nonsense like that. Every standard pattern and each novelty deck has its own story and, although we all have favorite decks, most of us seem to be interested in the broad assortment of designs that are Tarot. So rather than attacking anonymous bad guys who haunt your imagination, can you say anything interesting about any historical deck?

Best regards,
Michael

Brilliant - my brain exploded.

Re: Neoplatonism and tarot, is there a relationship?

#22
Well, I agree with Ross and M. Hurst. However, I think the error is to propose a reductionist explanation of a phenomenon as complex as the tarot.

There are many cards. And there are many cards in each deck. In some cases, we need read Plato's Republic, in others, Boethius, Petrarch, Cessolis, the Roman de la Rose, the Bible, Macrobius, Cristina Pizan, Boccaccio ... That is, I dont think we can say that the tarot is Neoplatonic or Christian o. .. Each deck of tarot reflects the beliefs of his time, and these, in the Renaissance, cant be reduced to a mere label, whatever it is.

Regards.
When a man has a theory // Can’t keep his mind on nothing else (By Ross)

Re: Neoplatonism and tarot, is there a relationship?

#23
Hi Ross

I respect your works but it seems that we still disagree on this point.

Tant pis...

For those indeed interested by such a relationship , please take a look at the iconographic essays of Andrea Vitali : Star, Moon, Sun and World
As for a possible Neo-Pythagoreanism , see my essay published in February 2010 :

http://www.letarot.it/Tarot-and-Neo-Pyt ... 3_eng.aspx


Best to all

Alain BOUGEAREL :fool
http://www.sgdl-auteurs.org/alain-bouge ... Biographie

Re: Neoplatonism and tarot, is there a relationship?

#24
hi Alain,

nice to meet you again.
BOUGEAREL Alain wrote:Hi Ross

I respect your works but it seems that we still disagree on this point.
....

As for a possible Neo-Pythagoreanism , see my essay published in February 2010 :

http://www.letarot.it/Tarot-and-Neo-Pyt ... 3_eng.aspx

Alain BOUGEAREL :fool
In your article you note "1461" as the year for the production of the Boiardo Tarocchi poem, which earlier had been the "lowest possible estimation" in the time frame 1461-1494.
From the occasionally intensive studies around the Boiardo poem it seems, that an "around January 1487" might be the most plausible date, cause in January Lucrezia d'Este, illegitime daughter of Ercole d'Este, married Annibale Bentivoglio in a great festivity connected to two theater shows in Ferrara and a triumphal march plus other wedding elements in Bologna. At the opportunity various poets engaged in praising poems for the bride, and it seems that Boiardo's poem belonged to this series, cause in the Tarocchi poem Boiardo presents (somewhat surprizing) "the Roman Lucrezia" in the top position card 21.
Further we have a Roman Lucrezia painting in Ferrara around the same time by Ercole Roberti (or Lorenzo di Credi) and a specific theme "women are better than men" starting possibly 1487, which found its representation in a greater private manuscript production made by a Ferrarese notary Goggio (finished 1490). The same theme appears in the Tarocchi poem.

Image


http://www.tarotforum.net/printthread.php?t=116722
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucrezia_% ... i_Credi%29
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Neoplatonism and tarot, is there a relationship?

#25
Hi Huck

Always delighted to have exchanges with you ... :)

I had [1461 - 1468? - 1491].

so as it is already written in :

http://www.tarot-fr.com/structure/fr/ar ... andrie.htm


I wrote that the datation should probably be after 1461 and before 1491 (Sola Busca?).

And when I wrote at time this last chapter, I gave a hint in favor of Lothar's hypothesis :

1468 /


� Une date probable pour le premier jeu Visconti-Sforza comportant 22 Triomphes serait l�ann�e 1468. Le jeune Duc Galeazzo Maria �pouse Bona de Savoie, et les mariages sont traditionnellement de bonnes occasions pour cr�er un nouveau jeu. �



Anyway, I transmitted your correction to Professor Andrea VITALi and he has agreed for the data :

{1461 - 1487 - 1494] as you suggested.

Thank you for your constructive contribution.

Ciaio

Alain

Nota :
http://www.associazioneletarot.it/Tarot ... 3_eng.aspx
http://www.sgdl-auteurs.org/alain-bouge ... Biographie

Re: Neoplatonism and tarot, is there a relationship?

#26
hi Alain,
BOUGEAREL Alain wrote: And when I wrote at time this last chapter, I gave a hint in favor of Lothar's hypothesis :

1468 /

� Une date probable pour le premier jeu Visconti-Sforza comportant 22 Triomphes serait l�ann�e 1468. Le jeune Duc Galeazzo Maria �pouse Bona de Savoie, et les mariages sont traditionnellement de bonnes occasions pour cr�er un nouveau jeu. �
The hypothesis about 1468 as the start of a Trionfi deck with 22 special cards had been weakened with the time by various conditions. It's not completely dead as a sort of lower border in the calculation, when this step was done, but some things point to a later development.

Andrea assumes, that the Rosenwald Tarocchi might be a later forgery. The hypothesis about 1468 had been built partly on the condition, that the Rosenwald Tarocchi would be early. An identification as a "later forgery" doesn't kill the theory about 1468 totally, cause a later forgery might have been done according earlier still existent motifs (there are proven forgeries of 16th and 17th century, so they are often also rather old), but it weakens the idea about 1468.
Then there's the fact, that some of the connected cards to the Rosenwald fragment carry the motto "nec spes nec metu", which was a motto used by Isabella d'Este. An earlier use of the motto by somebody else couldn't be proven. Likely she started to use the motto around 1505 - according the current state of information.

This again weakens the 1468 hypothesis.

The calculation, that the Boiardo Tarocchi poem had been made in ca. January 1487 (date of the Lucrezia wedding) was made only by arguments raised by studying Boiardo's life circumstances and the content of the poem itself. When this idea was born an somehow confirmed by other observations, the fact appeared at the surface, that Picode Mirandol had started to publish his famous work in December 1486, so only one month before Boiardo (his elder cousin) had probably given his poem to the public.
As Pico opened with his text a general preference for the 22, an accidental coincidence is not impossible, but somehow not likely. It seems plausible, that both, Boiardo and Pico had some exchange with each other and that this exchange led to the coincidence. For both it is known, that they made Hebrew studies.
So it might well have been, that the Boiardo Trocchi poem was the first deck, which used the deck structure 4x14+22.

Pico wasn't attacked immediately after the publication. The papal attack followed around March 1487, so Boiardo could use the new idea without any bad feeling about it ... :-)

When Boiardo used the 22 it doesn't mean, that naturally other card producers followed his idea immediately. The next deck, from which we know, had been the Sola Busca Tarocchi and this also had 22 special cards and was also totally different. It likely was made 1491, and probably also in Ferrara.

There's a further argument with the Lorenzo Spirito lot book edition. It was (perhaps) first produced in 1482 (at least this is very sure) and it used the number 20 as a base, indeed a 20+20+20+20 concept. There's only a vague indication, that the real first appearance happened already in 1473 in Vicenza, and another indication, that he copied the system of an earlier German edition, which used a similar model, but with the numbers 22+22+22+22, already in existence since 1450.
Now ... if Spirito copied from the German model and at the same time Italy already had a greater interest in Trionfi cards with 22 special cards, why should Spirito have reduced the German 22+22+22+22 -model to an Italian 20+20+20+20-version?
Spirito took the 20+20+20+20-version as his model and became very successful with it. There's reason to assume, that Italian Trionfi cards had something with 20 special cards in the 1470's, not with 22.

Further we have the Minchiate, noted in Florence in the years 1466, 1471 and 1477 (official allowance 1477). We don't know, which structure the deck used, but the later Germini of ca. 1550 used (beside court cards + fool) 40 small arcana + 40 trumps, which are also interpretable as 20 (2 suits running 1-10) + 20 (2 suits running 10-1) + 20 (Trumps 1-15 + 5 not numbered trumps similar to normal Tarot) + 20 (special trumps 16-35, 4 additional virtues + 4 elements + 12 zodiac signs). These might have existed already in 1477, so contemporary to Lorenzo Spirito's situation.

Now Lorenzo Spirito's version has some similarities to the Minchiate .. both are own constructions, but similarities are given. One of the similarities is a 2x10 model in the single groups, which later (1487 + 1491) also appears as a structural element in Boiardo Tarocchi and Sola Busca (inside the 22 special cards - each ignoring 2 additional cards at Fool and World position; the Boiardo and Sola Busca trump cards are paired in 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 - etc. structure).

So there is not only one element, which indicates, that in the 1470's + 80's in Italy a sort of 2x10-model was popular and somehow used as a game structure ... and if this was so and there's no real indication, that a 22-model was competing in this time, it somehow becomes probable, that such a model simply didn't exist.

So the 1468 - hypothesis has reached the state, that its correctness is not impossible, but not very likely. We're looking for the real date.

As a second development the whole 5x14-theory has transformed to assume, that the early Trionfi card development was much stronger influenced by chess, as earlier expected. Trionfi cards are - more or less - a chess extension. Chess was played usually at an 8x8 board, and each player had 16 figures. And we've 3 decks, from which we know or assume, that they had 16 special cards: Michelino deck, Cary-Yale and Charles VI.

But chess was also played at decimal boards, 10x10, at least in Asia. In such games each officer has one pawn and builds with it a pair, so totally 2x10 pairs - as in the observed objects above. There was a war between Venice and the Osmans (1463 - 1479), just in the right time, and it was attempted to communicate with the ruler of the Persian region, Uzun Hassan, to reach cooperation. Persia was the motherland of chess in the eyes of Europe and they played decimal chess versions there and considered them superior to "small chess", as versions for noblemen. The customers in Italy, from which we know , that they could pay for expensive Trionfi decks, also felt like noblemen - the impulse to understand, what currently was "en vogue" in Persia, is understandable.

Generally chess knew a lot of variations. The time, when printing started, became a communicative revolution, different people from different countries got exchange and learned, that there was not only one way to play chess. Chess was revolutionized and around 1495 a Spanish writer talked about "old chess" and "new chess". The Queen became a dominant figure and the bishop was strengthened and it took only a few decades, that this new version were the "real chess", communication structures had improved. The time, when the later Trionfi card searched and found their final number (1465 - ca. 1500), likely saw a lot of "game discussions" and the Trionfi cards played a role in it.

... :-) ... so chess research and Trionfi card research somehow merge together.


Tamerlane chess, preferred and played in Persia during 15th century and at least known since ca. 1340:

Image


56 figures
21 different figures
----------
56 + 21 = 77

11 columns
10 rows
---
21 + 2 "fooling" citadel fields

11x10 + 2 = 112 ; 112 = 2x56

Each pawn was differentiated and a specific figure.

The Mongols knew the combination of modern bishop and rook move (in Europe = "modern Queen's move") likely before it was invented in Europe in the so called Hiashatar, "Bodyguard-chess". Tamerlane was of Mongolian descent, Uzun Hassan still at least a little bit.



Federico Montefeltro, duke of Urbino, got a visit of the Persian ambassador in c. 1473/74, a Spanish jew in Persian service.
After this Montefeltro showed a stronger interest in the number 28 in the years 1474-76, for instance he commissioned the painting of 28 famous men. Montefeltro was then the major condottiero of the pope Sixtus IV.

It was a general Italian fear, that the Osmans would soon jump from the Balkan to Italy and they really came in 1481, taking Otranto. But the deciding Sultan died.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Neoplatonism and tarot, is there a relationship?

#27
Hi Huck,

About Boiardo's datation ...

Lothar Tekemeier of Trionfi.com - Essayiste, historien et chercheur du tarot - had written about the difficult datation of the Boiardo pem :

The first secure “22-special-cards” context is the Boiardo Tarocchi poem, with very great problems to give it a plausible dating. After our long research around this point, which consisted of deeper studies of Boiardo’s life, contexts of the d’Este court, translation and analyses of the poem, the opinion has developed, that the poet wrote it probably around January 1487, as a gift for Lucrezia d’Este’s wedding.


http://www.letarot.it/Trionfi.com_pag_pg166_eng.aspx
http://www.sgdl-auteurs.org/alain-bouge ... Biographie

Re: Neoplatonism and tarot, is there a relationship?

#28
BOUGEAREL Alain wrote:Hi Huck,

About Boiardo's datation ...

Lothar Tekemeier of Trionfi.com - Essayiste, historien et chercheur du tarot - had written about the difficult datation of the Boiardo pem :

The first secure “22-special-cards” context is the Boiardo Tarocchi poem, with very great problems to give it a plausible dating. After our long research around this point, which consisted of deeper studies of Boiardo’s life, contexts of the d’Este court, translation and analyses of the poem, the opinion has developed, that the poet wrote it probably around January 1487, as a gift for Lucrezia d’Este’s wedding.


http://www.letarot.it/Trionfi.com_pag_pg166_eng.aspx
Yes of course, the research did reach this around winter 2008.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

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