Re: Crackpot theories

Hi Yves,
Yves Le Marseillais wrote:
But Jodorowsky is really a nice story teller with good skills in communication. :ymapplause:
I agree with you. He is a master storyteller, to the point that he has, almost single-handily, taken over the tarot world in Spanish and now anybody else is just doing “what Jodorowsky does”. It is a shame that, beyond his very well crafted personal tales, his ideas on the tarot nature and history aren’t much different from the usual New Age stuff. Which makes me wonder to what extent is that intentional, as if it would be impossible to mass-market any more sobering tale.

I am glad to know, thanks to you, that the poor Antiquarian son wasn’t duped. But then again, getting the deck for just $ 500 is just a better story! The guy is a genius.


What’s honeymoon salad? Lettuce alone
Don’t look now, mayonnaise is dressing!

Re: Crackpot theories

errr..... to add a little to the crack-pottiness of the Fool and the Rabbit, I think this arose out of something I first posted and occasionally refer to as an alternate image from the time prior to tarot's creation on, for example, Lumiere ('Gothic') Cathedral petroglyphs.

Thereon, there is a pair of representations of valour and cowardliness, with the coward dropping his sword as a rabbit jumps from behind a bush behind him (in this case, from the Paris Notre Dame Cathedral):


I mentioned this (and showed images of the same) a number of years ago on AT, and also included the above image in a past Newsletter of the ATS.

Re: Crackpot theories

You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans.
Tom Robbins
Love your sig Nicole;)
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: Crackpot theories

Hi all,

crackpot Beanu here. Sorry I haven't been around...

To answer some of the questions....

I use the RWS deck because the original work came about from a suggestion to study the background colours in the RWS, and I primarily worked with the RWS. But it works just as well with older decks also. While the cl;ues are in RWS, the pattern that the clues point to is in all "standard" decks.

I could just claim that I have cracked Waites code, but....
The theory that evolved seems to imply origins in before Waite, and also works will with other decks.
Although Waite did do his own deck, it doesn't show the divergence that many of the modern ones do.
I consider his deck to be the last of the "older tradition" decks. At least it has the rignt number of cards, and I can recognise them all without the need for a companion book ;)

My theory is analytic, not historical, in that it takes the cards as they are, and looks for information within them, but mostly in pattern between cards, moreso than in details of individual cards.

At first it was just my own pattern, but then two things happened -
Someone else suggested a simple mapping from it onto the tree of life, and I was able to compare card meanings with Sephira meanings. I think the match was good.

Next, I noticed that some alchemical drawings have strong correspondence to Tarot images (Waite or older - both work). I searched for more alchemical image matches, and came up with a good set. (about 16, I think )
Using the alchemical images, I was able to map the three-fold process of Spagyrics onto the tarot ant the tree of life. Again, a good match resulted, and I was able to clarify my meanings for cars, sephira and alchemical processes and meaning.

I hang around on the history forum at eclectic, not because I am a historian, but because there are people there who have the knowledge to explore my concept further. One of the good things coming out of these discussions is indications of Platonic, or neo-platonic influence on the cards.

Here's the tricky bit.
One of the sticky points on the tarot to tree of life mapping, was that the cards indicated chockmah = female, and Binah = male, the reverse of the usual interpretation. This reversal also follows through in other areas.

A denizen there challenged me to provide astrological mappings for my system, as he considered astrology to be the ultimate way to map systems together. It took me a while, but I was able to map the standard old (mythologically consistent) sequence onto my system, with a couple of minor problems, and one big one. ( yes, you can now add astrology to the theory. No numerology yet, but I can see it coming down the road with a big headlamp)
Once again, I had to swap male and female at binah and chockmah to get a fit.

Said denizen seems to be quite taken with the resulting astrology to system mapping, and he is currently doing an excellent job of justifying the male female swap for me, by going back before zohar, into gnostic stuff.
So, it appears that my pot may be cracked in that sense. I may have to throw out kabalah and replace it with gnostic numerology. One of the interesting things that looks like coming out of this discussion is an exploration of the formative influences that gnosticism may have had on zohar. Its all well out of my league, but the more the experts dig, the more support I find for my theory (and its continual evolution and refinement).

As for the work up on my website, I don't put any effort into convincing people of the deep dark secret. I basically just present correspondence between tree of life, tarot majors, and some alchemical images. If you see the pattern, you'll love it. If you don't, sorry. However, there is material from the discussion sites that I will add at some stage that firms up the theory into a fairly straight-forward depiction of Plato's Ascent and Descent in the majors.

Does anyone know a good copyright-free source of older deck images that I can use in conjunction with the RWS, or replace the RWS with? Pehaps the presence of an older deck might encourage history-minded people to take a deeper look.

Thanks for the attention - better to be criticised than ignored. :)


Re: Crackpot theories

It is never an interesting mapping that makes something a crackpot theory, but rather a mapping that is presented as though it reflects tarot's supposed 'true' or 'original' (or such-like) meaning or intent.

So in that sense, certainly there may be many interesting aspects to each and every mapping and crackpot theory - and amongst my favourite is Paul LaViolette's views, here summarised by Raymond Lynch:
Elsewhere in the book he probes both the Tarot and ancient astrology and concludes that they provide us with a coherent, plausible, and complete theory of the microcosmic/sub-atomic processes involved in the creation of the physical universe: “…the Tarot metaphorically encodes the same process-based creation metaphysics conveyed in the myth of Osiris… [With an understanding of] the emergence of ordered patterns in non equilibrium systems, we can now for the first time resurrect the Tarot’s ancient wisdom”.
It is, again, fine to be able to use and see ways in which one system or set of images can be made to fit and even illustrate or elucidate points that may otherwise be rather difficult to unveil. It is another entirely to claim, as does LaViolette, that 'we can now for the first time resurrect the Tarot’s ancient wisdom'. That's what makes it 'crackpot'.

Similarly with your own book, beanu (which I have only received yesterday, so have not properly read yet). It's one thing to present to the world a view as to how tarot may be mapped onto another esoteric model (as I too have been doing for decades, by the way - without claiming that I have 'discovered' tarot's true mapping onto the Tree of Life, nor assuming that tarot arose with that playing into its development).

So to get to your book - and thanks for the explanation as to how it arose and developed - what is 'crackpot' about the overall basis of the approach seems to me somewhat akin to saying that because there is a similarity between beetles, flying ants, bats, dragonflies, aeroplanes and birds there must be a common underlying 'lost' system (p 7) that accounts for all these flying things that MUST therefore be related. Or, for that matter, calling dolphins and whales 'fish'.

Certainly in various areas of science there is a need to be able to recognise and remove that which is 'corrupted' in, for example, computer communication signals. The difference is that the item in question, or, if comparing, each of the items in question, must be carefully studied according to their own field of inquiry.

In that sense, tarot's historical development and setting is found to be distinct to, for example, Kabbalistic one, and itself again distinct to alchemical ones. In fact, it is the consistency within each of those various systems and their difference to each other that suggests the opposite of a common lost 'system'.

So there is not, as such, a 'lost secret' that has somehow been corrupted over time... except in the more general sense that there is image degradation that occurs, without thereby implying that the earliest comes from a common source to either Kabbalah or alchemy.

This does not mean that tarot imagery lacks depth. Nor does it mean that we cannot see into the card images a wholeness that transcends a mere image as it calls to mind a whole legend or the philosophical ramifications of an allegory. But that's quite distinct to going far beyond what is warranted by the evidence. And also quite distinct from making numerous errors along the way.

Crackpot theories, in that sense, seek evidence by looking, as an example with alchemy, at a partial scene of one image from the sequence and mapping it onto the partial scene (a card) of another (tarot). As an example, there are those who see in the 'SM' on the Chariot card of the Marteau Tarot de Marseille evidence of two alchemical elements. That's blinkered view, not sensible investigation!

Re: Crackpot theories


do you believe that
a) the tarot major arcana was created by someone(s) with a meaning behind it, or
b) it started as an attempt at a), but evolved over time due to influences.
c) its just a bunch of images from the times - a tower that got hit by lightning, some notable figures of the time, like the pope
d) its just part of a game deck derived solely for amusement
e) c and d combined.


Re: Crackpot theories

I suppose that this is the perfect thread in which to answer as to what I (currently) 'believe' to be the case.

SO in a nutshell, here it is:

The deck arose as an expanded deck with trumps added to the set; these trumps were painted at the whim of the designer, without coherent overall meaning, but 'naturally' guided by a sense that arose as one painted one image after another (so stations in life gave rise to other considerations and imagery of the period, including virtues, love, the Wheel of Fortune, and eschatological and metaphysical considerations such as the heavenly spheres, the Last Judgement and Christ).

These were over time variously standardised and acquired specific ordering(s), which later still may have been influenced by an over-arching organising principle (such as Filipas's Alphabetic Masquerade). These became the canon that we know as and now call the "Tarot de Marseille".

Later still, changes took place that sought to find hidden overarching meanings at play in the earliest decks, hence the coming of 'rectifications' and such-like.

So in terms of your a-e, none of the above.

Re: Crackpot theories

Hi jmd,
an interesting viewpoint that avoids the two usual logical traps of the extremes.
The usual responses would be
"If you believe in an original meaning, then lets get searching for it", or
"if you don't believe in an original meaning, why waste your time on Tarot? Why not study the evolution of art on matchbook covers".

Although my book appears to be totally an "original meaning" theory, I often think of it in the following terms.

There are in history various fashions of so-called "higher knowledge" -
Egypt, Greeks, hermetics, gnostics, post-crusades spain, renaissance, Blavatsky, Golden Dawn, just to name a few.
One thing that these have in common (or at least the later ones)
is that they are "synthetic" approaches. Each pundit learns what he can from previous sources, and takes influence from his contemporary environment, and publishes his own concepts. Thus the publications cannot help but be a synthesis of various ideas, with a new twist added.

Given this fairly obvious process, it is surprising that nearly all such synthesists take the view that they are rediscovering secret truths in the old knowledge. (i.e. Nearly all of the phuilosophical authors studied by historians are in fact the authors of "crackpot theories" as defined in this thread ).

One of the reasons for this approach is simply that we have zero real evidence of the nature of god, the soul, etc.
Anyone who comes up with a completely new theory is automatically a "complete crackpot" whereas an author who expands on previous theories with endless references to sources is a "historian". But it is still all speculation.

The really surprising thing about all of this is that, while we all take the attitude that we are unearthing lost secrets,
the reality is we are attempting to move forward to a convergence, the ultimate synthesis. Each author attempts to find an explanation that is consistent with all of the sources. That is the only thing we can do, except to comment on others, or to introduce new concepts direct from the muses.

In summary, I believe that the Tarot was someone's attempt to express a synthesis of all the information and influences in his head, as an attempt to unite them in some way.
But I don't think he had "the ultimate secret". I think we are still moving towards that. It is in the future, not the past. The only question is whether we are converging or diverging.
My personal opinion is that we are currently diverging in the field of tarot and spirituality in general.
Hence my own synthesis goes back in time a little, trying to find roots in the blending of Christian, Jewish and Moorish culture, so that it has some roots and so is not "completely crackpot".
I am not even claiming to have unearthed the universal secret, just the footprints of an earlier attempt to synthesize the three religions into one, as is historically recorded in Spain 13th Century.
I don't even claim that the Tarot was invented there. I just claim that there are indications in the Tarot that it has its conceptual origins in that earlier attempt, even though it did not emerge into card form until two hundred years later, in the next country over.

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