Re: Le Jongleur de Notre Dame

SteveM wrote: "The original story concerns a juggler who joins a monastery, but who is incompetent at studies, singing or any craft or skill suitable to the cloister. When the monks each bring a gift to the statue of the Virgin on the Virgin's birthday (a statue, a prayer, a missal) he can bring nothing, but he creeps alone at night into the chapel and performs his juggling act before the statue. Discovered by the monks, he is about to be reproved by the abbot when the statue of Mary speaks, saying that the juggler's gift is acceptable to her."
Hi Steve,

Thanks for reminding me of that tale, which I like a lot.

On a personal note -and if you can forgive me for speaking as a tarot reader- just yesterday I was telling to a client of mine how useful is for me to think of Le Bateleur in terms of a secular magician or sleight of hand artist. Legerdemain is an important metaphor for the practice of a craft -any craft- and for the way in which such practice builds one’s personality and give ourselves a sense of value and purpose. Legerdemain talks about how practice makes perfection. At the same time, it talks about how such perfection evolves from the repetition of the smallest gestures. The repetition of a sleight builds in muscular memory and a set of automatic bodily responses, in a way that is no too distant from martial arts. (No wonder why some professional magicians I know see that practice as an spiritual exercise). Our craft is that realm we can control, even if we cannot control the rest of the world. More important, that idea of ‘building ourselves through our craft’ and ‘perfecting our practice’ can be applied in practical terms by anybody no matter what the person does: a shoemaker has his craft, but an accountant too. I find that alternative explanations for the image -as the Magician being a sorcerer- lack usefulness and applicability in people’s lives, or at least, they take the advise into a more ethereal realm.

Back to the above tale, we all have a craft whose mastery we can offer.


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

The tale of the Cobbler who unites heaven and earth.

Lorredan wrote: So you cannot have it both ways- if it shows a Christian type sequence it would not show a Juggler I think.
The juggler has many connotations, not all of them negative; but even if they were, that would not deny him a place in any Christian scheme of things. Even the most despicable of Chaucer's pilgrims, such as the Pardoner for example, remains nonetheless a pilgrim. In Christian salvation - the lost sheep too is included. The Ephesian Juggler, old Adam, may still put on the New Man, and find salvation in the New Adam.
Whereas Mercury could well be depicted by a Merchant or a writer- hence the cobbler in other decks etc.
Writing, jugglery, games, merchants all fall under the regis of Mercury - craft is more generally Saturnine, but there is often overlap in planetary attributions.

The craft of the cobbler shares with that of the juggler symbolism of the uniting of that which is above with that which is below. Ancient tales of a cobbler who brings together heaven and earth exists in various versions around the world, the oldest extent version being a Buddhist tale. In a tale that according to Scholem originated with the German Hasidism in the 13th century:

"The patriach Enoch, who according to an old tradition was taken from the earth by God and transformed into the angel Metatron, is said to have been a cobbler. At every stitch of his awl he not only joined the upper leather with the sole, but all upper things with all lower things. He accompanied his work with meditations which drew the stream of emanation down from the upper to lower, so transforming profane action into ritual action, until he himself was transformed from the earthly Enoch into the transcendent Metatron, who had been the object of his meditations." [On the Kabbalah and its Symbolism, p.132].
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

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests