On ATF there was one thread at http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.ph ... hlight=ars, where Marco posted a translation of one document proposing that art as a means of remembering what cards had been played in trick-taking card games. I am concerned with something else: a possible connection between the art of memory and divination with cards, i.e. the activity that later became known as cartomancy.
Later in the thread just cited, John Meador quoted another text, 1594, attesting to something more astounding:
...two especial uses, I have often exercised this art for the better help of my own memory, and the same as yet has never failed me. Although I have heard some of Master Dickson, his schollers, that have prooved such cunning Cardplayers hereby, that they could tell the course of all the Cards and what every gamester had in his hand. So ready we are to turn an honest and commendable invention into craft and cousenage."
-Hugh Platt: The Jewell House of Art and Nature 1594
This art, or at least its claims, goes somewhat beyond remembering what cards have been played: they actually can use it to know what the other players have in their hand, before playing the cards. Platt considers this a kind of cheating (usually "cozenage", from "cozen", first use 1573, probably from the Italian cozzone, horse trader, per http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cozen).
Meador has two other quotes, both from a 2002 book on occultism in England and Scotland during the time of the Stuarts, Marsha Schuchard: Restoring the Temple of Vision, 2002.
...When Cardano practised the Art of Memory, he concentrated on the numerical-linguistic and architectural images advocated by the Cabalists and Lullists. By methodically intensifying these mental gymnastics and visualizations, he would achieve an "intuitive flash" that made the proper connections and analogies of all elements - natural and supernatural- vividly clear. From this insight, he could sometimes predict future events.
As a kinsman and friend of John Dee, Platt recognized that Dickson (like Dee) had to be cautious in his teaching in order to avoid accusations of magical practice lamented that such charges were used to prevent advances in natural sciences, for Cardano, Baptista Porta, and "the rest of that magical crew" are used as bogeymen to instill "terror unto all new professors of rare and profitable inventions.
The quotes from Schuchard are online, p. 159 and p. 207 at http://books.google.com/books?id=YvBynN ... no&f=false
These remarks suggest that the art in question is “Lullist and Cabalist” as well as divinatory. Schuchard gives no references for her assertions in either place, unfortunately. I assume that the part about the “magical crew” comes from Platt. Until I get my hands on Schuchard or Platt, I cannot go further with these quotes.
Both Platt and Dickson (also spelled “Dicson”) are mentioned in Frances Yates’ 1966 book The Art of Memory. In his book, she says, Platt says he took lessons from “Master Dickson” but found the results disappointing. “He was evidently not initiated into the Hermetic mysteries”, Yates concludes (p. 285). Dicson was a disciple of Giordano Bruno and his “ars memoria”. He wrote a short book that, like Bruno’s of a similar title, managed to talk cleverly about it without actually giving away the method, which of course required private lessons. Yates observes (p. 269) that it is a dialogue based on the passage in Plato’s Phaedrus about Theuth, the inventor of writing and games, in which the king of Egypt, Thamus or Ammon, objects that writing will make it no longer necessary for people to recall things from within themselves, and so instead of wisdom there will be the “conceit of wisdom”. The passage is worth quoting, since most of us never read past the part about games (including me, until now). I have put in bold one part I want to emphasize (http://www.english.illinois.edu/-people ... edrus.html):
The story goes that Thamus said many things to Theuth in praise or blame of the various arts, which it would take too long to repeat; but when they came to the letters, “This invention, O king,” said Theuth, “will make the Egyptians wiser and will improve their memories; for it is an elixir of memory and wisdom that I have discovered.” But Thamus replied, “Most ingenious Theuth, one man has the ability to beget arts, but the ability to judge of their usefulness or harmfulness to their users belongs to another; [275a] and now you, who are the father of letters, have been led by your affection to ascribe to them a power the opposite of that which they really possess. For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of [Hackforth translation: “within” instead of “of”] themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem [275b] to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.
Socrates then goes on to decry even images, at least in the form of paintings; this part of course the Protestant iconoclasts liked. Dicson’s Socrates, however, is a pedant whose dialectic misleads; Dicson is satirizing the iconoclasts, unfortunately at Plato’s expense (it seems to me that Plato is talking about outer images as opposed to inner ones that are part of a system; see 277b-c at the above link. After all, Socrates had just given the memorable image of the Charioteer.).
Dicson also quotes from Corpus Hermeticum XIII (I’ll get to it later), and speaks of a “bowl (crater) of regeneration” that Yates thinks might derive from to its Tractate XVI, translated by Lazzarelli, as well as Lazzarelli’s own Crater Hermetis (pp. 271f). Tractate XVI also distinguishes between Greek writing, which is "vain and empty" (due to its phonetic nature, I think), from the "efficacious virtue" of Egyptian writing (i.e. hieroglyphs that have the proper mystery and need to understand each concept deeply).
In England Dicson’s dialogue aroused almost as much opposition as Bruno’s, as Yates relates. John Dee was another in this group, and after them came Robert Fludd. Yates does not mention Cardano, whom tarot researchers know as a writer on games, including tarot ((http://www.letarot.it/page.aspx?id=238). She does have a brief mention of Baptista Porta, in a context I will describe later.
I should say a little more about Cardano. Born in 1501, he was a mathematician, astrologer, and physician. He grew up in Milan and had the Chair of Medicine for at least the year 1544 at Pavia, where he considered himself a friend of Alciato's (Book of my life, p. 57), who in that year published a book containing his version of the tarot sequence. Cardano says he gambled nearly every day, out of necessity to support himself (inventing probability theory in the process). He wrote many books. In the early 1550s he made a lucrative trip to Scotland, where he successfully treated an Archbishop given up as incurable; the man survived 15 more years, until being executed by the Protestants. In 1562 he got a position at Bologna, but was imprisoned by the Inquisition in 1570 (Anthony Grafton, introduction to The Book of My Life, p. xiv). He was released on condition he not publish or teach. Grafton describes his last years (p. xv):
Cardano the astrologer sat in his bare rooms in Rome, decorated only with a banner claiming "Time is my Posession," and knew that in sad fact his times were out of joint. Still famous and respected when he died in 1576, he might have ended on a pyre like Giordano Bruno if he had lived somewhat longer.
His favorite poets were Petrarch and Pulci (Book p. 65).
GIORDANO BRUNO AND THE “ARS NOTORIA”
Looking up “ars memoria” on Wikipedia, I found a suggestion that for some people in the Middle Ages, looking at certain images was considered a means of gaining all knowledge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_of_memory). It quotes Yates, Art of Memory:
The practitioner of the Ars Notoria gazed at figures or diagrams curiously marked and called 'notae' whilst reciting magical prayers. He hoped to gain in this way knowledge, or memory, of all the arts and sciences, a different 'nota' being provided for each discipline. The Ars Notoria is perhaps a descendant of the classical art of memory, or of that difficult branch of it which used the shorthand notae. It was regarded as a particularly black kind of magic and was severely condemned by Thomas Aquinas.
The article goes on to say that Giordano Bruno’s art of memory was likewise based:
...in part upon schematic diagrams in keeping with medieval Ars Notoria traditions, in part upon groups of words and images associated with late antique Hermeticism, and in part upon the classical architectural mnemonic. According to one influential interpretation, his memory system was intended to fill the mind of the practitioner with images representing all knowledge of the world, and was to be used, in a magical sense, as an avenue to reach the intelligible world beyond appearances, and thus enable one to powerfully influence events in the real world.(14)
The “influential interpretation” is Yates, according to the footnote, but with no page number given. In her book I see nothing similar to the Ars Notoria in Bruno; there are at most ordinary pictures put in schematic relation to one another on the page. But perhaps Bruno has other images in his books. (Note added next day:) In Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, she does have such diagrams from Bruno, on unnumbered illustration pages. She says in the text, p. 265 n. 2, that Bruno distinguished his art from the "ars notoria" in that his summoning of inferior demons is with the permission of the head of the superior demons. Hey, I just report these things.]
Another use of pictures had been long endorsed by the Church, Wikipedia says. Pictures were considered helpful to retain an important story in the memory. In this context the frescoes and statues in churches and the illuminations in manuscripts played an important role, naturally approved by the Church. The tarot sequence might, with a little strain here and there, be seen as such a story to be remembered, for avoiding hell and obtaining heaven. Playing a game that requires memorizing the sequence could help one to remember the story itself. This of course has nothing to do with divination.
I noticed that one of the charges against Bruno, a major exponent of the art of memory, was "dealing in magics and divination" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno). What kind of divination was Bruno charged with? In his play Il Candelaio he mentions the tarot: an innkeeper asks a scoundrel in his establishment if he likes to play tarot; the scoundrel replies
”A questo maldetto gioco non posso vincere, per che ho una pessima memoria”.
(“At this cursed game I cannot win, because I have a terrible memory”)
I doubt that Bruno used tarot cards in divination. He had his own images, not very exotic, but displayed in exotic ways. Nonetheless his burning sends a definite message about using images for divinatory purposes. The Inquisition’s power did not extend to Protestant countries, as long as they remained Protestant. After the defeat of the Spanish Armada, England was safe for a time, but then there were the Puritans and a monarch who took witches seriously. Fludd found that in 1618-1621, English publishers demanded an exorbitant fee to publish his work, whereas the Frankfurt publisher paid him.
FLUDD’S “ARS MEMORIA”
An image from Fludd in Tyson’s edition of Agrippa's Three Books on Occult Philosophy, 1531, (p. 780) caught my eye, in an Appendix by Tyson in which he is explaining what geomancy is. His annotation below the image says
: Here, from the alchemywebsite.com, is the page itself, without Tyson’s annotation:Methods of Divination, Showing Geomantric Chart, from Tomas secundus de supernaturali, praeternaturali et contranaturali microcosmi historia by Robert Fludd (Oppenheim, 1619
As you can see, the title has different wording: Tomi secundi, Tractatus Primi, sectio secunda, de technica microcosmi historia, in portiones VII divisa. I will account for that later.
What caught my eye was the part labeled "ars memoria”
At least three of the five pictures here resemble tarot cards. the Tower, the Hermit and the Ship; the Ship is in the Sicilian tarot and is also the image of Water in Minchiate. The obelisk I take as signifying that the pictures are hieroglyphs, meaning images that have other meanings besides the surface meaning. Obelisks were then the chief source of Egyptian hieroglyphs, and Fludd refers to his images as “hieroglyphs” (Yates p. 324). Fludd’s pictures are not tarot cards, but they are more like tarot cards than any other set of images used as examples of the “ars memoria” that I have seen. For the picture of a forest, there might be a parallel to a Venetian Sun card, which has trees (3rd from left at http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... villel.JPG), or to the Tower card, which in Vieville at right at http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QweHijnPZxg/U ... obViev.jpg), the Venetian card, and maybe the Cary Sheet (at left, with the outline of something at the cut) had one or more trees. Fludd’s image (I don’t know about the rest) probably also has something to do with the Lullian image of a woods of all knowledge, created and nourished by God (this is in Yates’ discussion of Lull somewhere).
But are these really seven forms of divination? Yates has a chapter on Fludd. She explains how “Sectio II” of “Tomas Secundus” fits into the rest of the work. As a whole it has a long Latin title of which she gives an abbreviated translation: History of the Two Worlds. These “Worlds” are the Macrocosm, vol. 1, and the Microcosm, vol. 2. Vol. 2 has two sections. Sectio I is “Metaphysica atque Physica...Microcosmi Historia”. Sectio II is as we have seen. Then there is the title and publication data “De Praeternaturali utriunque mundi historia, Frankfort, typus Erasmeri Kempferi, sumptibus Johan-Theodori de Bry, 1621.” Since the date 1621 for this part is different from that of the “Tomas secundus” (1619), that is perhaps a section printed separately, but Yates doesn’t say. You can see Yates’ whole footnote (p. 322) at http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-6Gyt9QtWKVs/V ... tes322.JPG.
Yates later devotes a paragraph to the particular pie-shaped image that Tyson reproduces (Yates p. 326).
She does not say that these “magical and occult arts” are all divinatory in nature, in the sense of predicting the future. Physiognomy, as I understand it, was in part about judging a person’s character by comparing the face to that of a corresponding animal. But it might have also included reading someone’s future from his face as well. Chiromancy, astrology, geomancy, and prophecy certainly did engage in prediction. It is likely that “ars memoria” did as well. But how?
Yates also discusses another set of five images at the beginning of the chapter on Ars Memoria. I give first the picture (using the better reproduction in Roob’s Alchemy and Mysticism p. 572) and then her discussion:
Here instead of a forest we have a Last Judgment, and instead of the Hermit we have Tobias and the Angel. These changes do not depart from the themes of the tarot. In the Book of Tobit, according to Wikipedia, Tobias is a young man who receives help from the angel Raphael. A fish attacks Tobias’s feet in a stream, but the angel helps him kill it. Raphael instructs Tobias to save the heart and liver, and then on his wedding night tells him to burn them to drive away a demon. We can see Tobias carrying the fish in the engraving. The angel seems to substitute for the Hermit, but one versed in magic, a Hermetic.
Roob has another set of images from the same work, which again are reminiscent of the tarot (Roob p. 573:
It is true that there are two hanged men and not one, and that they are not upside down, but non-Italians cannot be expected to understand the symbolism. We again have the tower and the tree, this time suggesting a dynamic relationship between the above and the below, the microcosm influencing the macrocosm and benefitting from its fruits..
Since I am going to continue quoting Yates, I want to say in my defense that I know that Yates has been subject to criticism, but this is primarily for a way of taking her first book in a counter-cultural way. I am not aware of any criticism of Art of Memory. She certainly does not treat the Lullian art, as developed by Bruno and others, as something underground and against the mainstream culture, if by that is meant that of governmental leaders. However there does seem to be a good case that it was not accepted by many universities (except astrology) or by a large segment of the Church, which even in the 15th century persecuted or tried to persecute proponents of Cabala (e.g. Pico, Reuchlin) and magic (e.g. Ficino, Pico), increasing in power by the end of the Council of Trent. Calvinists also mostly had no use for the Lullian art, or anything involving images. There is also the question of whether modern science developed out of the magical tradition. That can be exaggerated but not entirely denied. Both claimed to be based on experience, and some the same people did both without making a separation (e.g. Kepler, Cardano). Likewise, aspects of both were seen as unacceptable by factions of the authorities. What is important is having a nuanced view.
FLUDD’S “ROUND ART” AND “SQUARE ART”
In the chapter on the “ars memoria”, Yates says, Fludd delineates two forms of the art: round and square. I would observe that the pie-shaped image conveniently has both: the round pie and the square pictures under “ars memoria”.
The round art, Fludd says, is used for “anything not composed of the four elements, that is to say for things spiritual and simple conceived in the imagination, for example angels, demons, the effigies of stars, the images of gods and goddess to whom celestial powers attributed and which take more of a spiritual than of a corporeal nature; simlarly virtues and vices conceived in the imagination and made into shadows, which were also to be held as demons” (Yates, p. 327 quoting Fludd).
I am not sure how this distinction relates to the tarot. Is the Bagato something corporeal, or an allegorical figure for something spiritual? The same would apply to the other low-numbered cards. In any case, the virtue cards are spiritual and so are Death, the Devil, the Celestials, Judgment, and World.
The “Square art” is the medieval art of memory associated with Aristotle, the ancient rhetoricians, Aquinas, and the Dominicans. It was used in pagan times to remember the parts and their order in speeches. In the Middle Ages it was used in the churches, where images of the virtues, etc. were put in distinct locations of the church so that people would remember “Heaven and Hell” and the road toward the one and away from the other. In the Renaissance, preachers used it to remember the points of their sermons.
The “round art” was identified with Plato. It is the famous “ladder of ascent and descent”. The procedure was adopted into the “art of memory” in the Middle Ages by Raymond Lull (e.g. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mqYF8LbUvr4/U ... a-1512.jpg, in a 16th century rendition, according to http://introrenaissance.blogspot.com/20 ... study.html). His name also, incorrectly, was on many alchemy books of apparent Lullian inspiration. Yates says that the Franciscans tended to favor this Lullist form of “ars memoria”.
It seems to me (enlarging upon Yates) that an example of how memory serves the ascent to the divine is in the Symposium, in which Diotima instructs Socrates in the mysteries of love (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... age%3D211; the passage goes from 210 to 212, of which I give one small part here on 211):
So when a man by the right method of boy-loving ascends from these particulars and begins to descry that beauty, he is almost able to lay hold of the final secret. Such is the right approach [211c] or induction to love-matters. Beginning from obvious beauties he must for the sake of that highest beauty be ever climbing aloft, as on the rungs of a ladder, from one to two, and from two to all beautiful bodies; from personal beauty he proceeds to beautiful observances, from observance to beautiful learning, and from learning at last to that particular study which is concerned with the beautiful itself and that alone; so that in the end he comes to know [211d] the very essence of beauty. In that state of life above all others, my dear Socrates,’ said the Mantinean woman, ‘a man finds it truly worth while to live, as he contemplates essential beauty. This, when once beheld, will outshine your gold and your vesture, your beautiful boys and striplings, whose aspect now so astounds you...
The goal was to remember the intellectual and spiritual things that the soul forgot upon entering this world, and so and so “Lethe’s fetters break”, as the Orphic hymn entreats the goddess Mnemosyne. To accomplish this, one would have to remember a great many real particular things and in the process discern what they had in common. And then one would have to go from lower to higher forms, again surveying a great many. Such discernment is of entities not given in nature and so deriving, less and less impurely, from a divine source. It is not only the quest to apprehend absolute beauty, but all the attributes of God and His principles of creation. In the Symposium Diotima had been doing a similar inquiry into the nature of the good. The same process is alluded to in the Phaedrus discussion of writing I liked to earlier.
Naturally the “round art” would depend on the “square art” in its spiritual or mystical aspect, going from the images in the cave of the world to their spiritual source in God. Some people, of the “Aristotelian” bent, cautioned against such lofty ambitions.
We are still not very close to seeing tarot images as divination. For that I have to go to Venice of the 1520s and 1530s, and in particular to a then-famous person named Giulio Camillo, whose work Yates describes in detail. In turn this work has its roots in Pico’s Conclusiones and Ficino’s writings and translations. Before that were the medieval “cosmographs”, of which Camillo’s is an elaborate expansion.
COSMOGRAPHS AS MEMORY AIDS
First I want to present what Yates has to say about the cosmographs. These were used in the ordinary “Aristotelian” art of memory as easily remembered place holders in which to put the things to be remembered. They typically had anywhere from 14 to 32 places (fewer, if the elements were excluded; one with 32 was in the Visconti library; see ). It would be 14 if only the four elements and ten spheres were included. Here is one with 15 spheres (adding the “crystaline” sphere after the “fixed stars”, Yates p. 111) and as many as 6 “square” compartments in the bottom sphere:
The number of spheres would be 23 if the 9 ranks of angels were added, and 26 if hell, purgatory, and the “terrestrial paradise” were all included, as shown below (Yates p. 116):
Interestingly enough, 14 and 25 are the minimum and maximum numbers of subjects that have been variously proposed for the tarot prior to being fixed at 22. Fludd's’ own cosmograph had exactly 22 spheres:
CAMILLO’S MEMORY THEATRE
Camillo constructed, out of wood, a “memory theatre” in which anything at all could be put, and which in fact he did put an enormous amount of information, much of it written out on paper to be inserted in specific places in it. Yates does not mention anything about tarot, but much of this work is lost and known only through descriptions and his followers. There are several circumstantial connections to the tarot in the work of his students. One is to Alessandro Citolini’s Tipocosmia, a work of encyclopedic nature; it contains a list of games including tarocchi. The work was considered by many to have been taken from Camillo’s writings (Yates, p. 239 and note). Tomaso Garzoni in his Piazza universale. Dummett says that Garzoni probably copied it from Citolini (Il Mondo e l’Angelo p. 184). He adds amusingly that:
Se Garzoni plagiò da Citolini, non gli fece un gran torto perché questi era egli stesso un plagiario. 8
8 Secondo l'Enciclopedia Italiana, s.v. Delminio, Giulio Camillo, La Tipocosmia era in parte un plagio da Giulio Camillo detto Delminio (c. 1485-1544).
(If Garzoni plagiarized from Citolini, he did him no great wrong because he was himself a plagiarist 8.
8. According to the Encyclopedia Italiana, s.v. Delminio, Giulio Camillo, the Tipocosmia was in part a plagiarism from Giulio Camillo, called Delminio (c. 1485-1544).
Another student of Camillo’s was Girolomo Ruscelli (Yates p. 170 note 24), who wrote a book on Impresi that shows Camillo’s influence. In relation to the tarot, he is more famous for a book he wrote on folk remedies that his group in Naples had tested and found to be effective, a book that went into least 100 editions and was translated into the major languages of Europe. For that book he used the pseudonym of Alexis Piemontese (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexius_Pedemontanus), which happens to be the name of the man that Etteilla later claimed to have learned about the tarot from, a descendant of the other.
Baptista Porta, mentioned by Schuchard as part of the “magical crew”, was a successor to Ruscelli in Naples, establishing his own academy there in 1558, which discussed things both magical and what today we would call scientific. Yates calls him “the famous magician and early scientist” (p. 205). His most influential book was Magia naturalist, on correspondences between the upper and lower worlds; it influenced both Campanella and Francis Bacon. There is nothing unorthodox in his treatise on memory, Yates says.
Camillo constructs his theatre as seven rows of seats with seven seats in each. Here is Yates’ paragraph on the general idea (p. 137):
Camillo’s job is to provide vivid images for each of the seats. For the Sefiroth he has no images; instead, he gives us the planetary gods, with the names of the eight lower sefiroth on the appropriate seats, starting with Binah/Saturn. (Putting writing on images was a customary way of indicating abstractions, for example in book illuminations.) Venus gets two sefiroth, Hod and Netsah (p. 148); this is his departure from Pico (Conclusiones 11>48), who had used only the lower seven sefiroth, giving Netsah the planet Saturn. There are also seven archangels, whom he lists by name. He does not deal with the two highest sefiroth; even Moses did not get beyond Binah, Camillo says.(p. 149). On the stage is the Trinity, from which all things flow.
I found on the web (at http://ianjwpollard.wordpress.com/2010/ ... al-places/) a picture of Yates’ fold-out (which is not in my library’s paperback): http://ianjwpollard.files.wordpress.com ... llo1-1.jpg.
For the second row he imagines a gate with the word “Banquet”, i.e. Banquet of the Gods, on it; here are seven more gods, including Vulcan, Juno, Cybele, and something that looks like “Elephant”. After that comes seven “Hermetic Caves”, adapting Plato’s image in the Republic. These are combinations of the four elements, Yates says. Then comes the “mind and soul of man”. Then man’s body. Then a row called “the Sandals” of Mercury, which he put on when carrying out the commands of the gods. These are “the operations that man can perform naturally”. The seventh row is that of Prometheus, “all the arts, both noble and vile”.
Each of the outer rows in some way relates to the seven seats in front of it. And on each seat is a box with many other subcategories, which Camillo wrote down. Although he never finished, it is this writing of the outermost rows that was said to have been taken by Citolini. The outer rows would seem to relate to the “Children of the Planets” series of illustrations from the previous century.
Besides the “theatre” in Venice, Camillo also constructed a copy in Paris for Henry II, in return for money given him by Francis I. This was no mere encyclopedia. It had a “secret”. In memorizing the contents of God’s world, and going from particulars to the ever more general, one also ascended the spheres into the divine realm and so partook of some of God’s own powers, because according to the Corpus Hermeticum and other authorities the mens of man was divine. Camillo writes (pp. 148-9):
Here the “secret” is in the last line: knowledge of “all things, present, past, and future”, i.e. divination, of such a nature that a king would like to have. Of course it is only the one who engages in the labor that gets the reward. It is only by actually memorizing the particulars and their ascent to the general that we can benefit from the secret.
A HYPOTHETICAL CARTOMANTIC APPLICATION
In this context, one could easily imagine the cards of the tarot as occupants of similar seats in a similar theatre (not as a substitute for Camillo's but as a supplement to it). There are up to ten or eleven seats in a row, going back ten rows. The sections are labeled A (for Atutti), B (for Bastoni), C (for Coppe), D (for Denari), and E (for Espadone, Venetian for Spada). This is the system that probably also governed the “tarocchi of Mantegna”, where the Venetian E got changed to S in the second series, done in Rome (as explained under “The Mantegna Context” at http://www.trionfi.com/0/c/karn/wheel2.html).
In the first row are seated Atutti 1 through 10, in that order, with the corresponding sefira and an astrological entity written with the card. The second row has the Atutti from 20 through 11, in that order, with the same sefira as the card in front but a different astrological entity. The Kabbalistic “tree” is descended and then ascended. As for the Fool and card 21, they might go in seats next to 1 and 20 (expanding these rows to 11), or on the floor under 1 and in the air above 20, or maybe on the stage, in place of Camillo's Trinity. They correspond in Kabbalah to the Ein Sof but have no direct relationship to the rows in back.
Here we have to remember that Camillo is now in Milan, advising the governor there, so the order is Milanese. But the astrological entities may not follow the Milanese, if they were assigned elsewhere. There are several ways of assigning astrological entities to the tarot sequence; the 10 or 11 spheres above the earth doubled, or an arbitrary assignment, like Etteilla does. But the one with the most meaningful associations probably is with the Florentine order represented by the Rothschild sheet, in relation to the historical Sefer Yetzirah (as opposed to the Golden Dawn’s; see my post at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1019&p=15486#p15486, starting where I talk about the A order). The two cards on stage, which I said play no direct role in what follows, might be assigned two of the elements, air and fire. These elements are also part of the makeup of other astrological entities.
Instead of being organized by planets, this theatre is organized on Pythagorean principles about the ten primary numbers. These shape (or emanate from) the sefiroth, going down through the planets and zodiacal signs and back up, and also the four suits. This Pythagorean element may be what the “numerical” part of memory was for Cardano according to Schuchard. Camillo used the planets; Bruno and Dicson apparently emphasized the zodiac (Yates p. 276). The system I have found with the most workable associatons incorporates both.
There may also be other Hermetic influences. Dicson’s dialogue quotes from the Corpus Hermeticum’s Tractate XIII: “It is the duodenarius, driven out by the denarius” (Yates p. 270): in other words, 10 virtues driving out 12 vices. Pico had said something similar in his Theses on “Mercury the Egyptian”. If the tarot sequence is seen as a psychomachia, it might be cast as 10 positive (i.e. spiritual) cards defeating 12 negative (i.e. earthly) ones.
Let us proceed. Behind the Atutti, in one row are the four Bastoni court cards, with the Page in the column of Attuto 1, and in a second row the Ace through 10. Each card represents a different set of Pythagorean associations: in the case of Bastoni, with sticks, clubs, wands, scepters, and the like. The Coppe follow, with drinking, feasting, love potions, the Eucharist, and the like; Denari go with merchants and all the happiness and security that money can buy; Espadone go with war, force, hatred, knives, divisions, and the like.
I say “the like” in an associative way. There is a taxonomy (as Socrates recommends) based on Pythagorean number-theory, but with images we can also exploit whatever similitudea aid the memory in going from one thing to another. Each of the cards will itself include a multitude of particulars, of which as many as possible need to be memorized according to the “square method”, using associations from one to another, including e.g. homonyms and antomyms as well as positive resemblances.
A 15th century example where this type of Pythagorean associations seems to me to perhaps have shaped the imagery on the card is the Sola-Busca in its suit cards. I have expressed elsewhere (viewtopic.php?f=12&t=530) how these images might relate to a Pythagorean text, in particular the Theologumena Arithmeticae, of which Bessarion’s copy was accessible in Venice of the 1470s and after (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=613&p=8936&hilit=Arithmeticae#p8936).
In this context we can also say what a card-reading would consist of. For simplicity let us say it involves five cards, laid down after the one for which the reading has shuffles and cut the cards (in that sense, the layout was “determined” by that person’s “energy”). This determination by the person is rather like, in physics, the properties and influences of an mass whose motion is to be predicted through space: i.e. its weight, shape, trajectory relative to level ground, air resistance, and so forth, all of which is “determined” but not known in advance. We must remember that this procedure is being developed in the age of the cannon, a weapon only as useful as the knowledge of where the cannonball will go and with what power.
In our case we borrow from the “square art” developed for memorizing what cards have been played. I think that a useful adjunct to putting imaginary pictures of the cards in their imaginary places occupied by each of the players (in the passage translated by Marco at http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.ph ... hlight=ars)) would be to construct narratives for each of the players, one card at a time. In a hand with 4 players and 21 atutti there will be about 5 Atutti per player, more or less. So each player gets a short narrative, built upon the cards he or she has played. So for example, the Popess hits the Fool, upsetting the Devil, who meets his Judgment. This same procedure is applied to the five cards of the reading, using the associations that have been developed on the memory theatre in relation to the particular question asked. More complex readings are of course possible.
All of this is precisely what Etteilla’s method consisted of: five cards (at least) put into a narrative, using the associations suggested by the keyword, depending on whether the card is upright or reversed. It is not only the keywords, but also the astrological sign, if there is one, the element, if given, and the day of creation, if listed. And besides the keywords on the cards, there are also the synonyms, homonyms and related meanings given in the “Dictionnaires” that his disciples produced. It is essential, of course, to memorize this material and understand its interconnections, not simply to look it up. Otherwise there is no ascent. How these meanings relate to the same Pythagoreanism of the Sola-Busca I have explored on the “Deciphering the Sola-Busca pips” thread (starts viewtopic.php?f=12&t=530).
For best results the keywords and other clues should not be on the cards. They might be suggested by details of the imagery, but not depicted directly: they are known by association only, because everything is to be held in memory. The particular associations may even vary from one person to another, depending on that particular person’s share of the universal knowledge and the associations they develop. But it all needs to be memorized in advance. There is no fixed interpretation, although experience over time will indicate what interpretations work and what don’t. As in experimental science, one learns the principles by practical experience. However a basic knowledge of hermetic principles and outlook will be required.
Here it is obvious that cards with images on them, each strikingly different from others, will work the best. It is true that the number cards look much alike; but the number of suit objects can be seen even if the number is not on the cards. And in fact by this time numbers were mostly on the cards, most places (except Bologna).
All of this seems quite naturally to flow from Camillo’s invention. By the 1540s at the latest, occultists would be in a position to do divinatory readings, from their vantage points above the slope of the world.
Added a few hours later: I inadvertently left out an important quote from Yates p. 137 (and instead put another quote twice). It is now there.