That ‘Old’ Tarot de Marseille Lore...

#1
That ‘Old’ Tarot de Marseille Lore
Where is the tarot’s very own Eddie Lenihan?


Hello all.

With the arrival of the restored Dodal deck by the Flornoys I have been enjoying some details in the cards that are linked to what I would call the Tarot de Marseille lore. Many of these details aren’t easy to spot in the Noblet, which is my usual choice for readings. I see them as small ‘footnotes’ to the card’s iconography that people has been adding along decades. I keep collecting them, from reading other authors or listening to other readers. To me, these are Short Tales -some sort of extreme opposite from Tall Tales- that aren’t necessarily accurate in historical terms, but they don’t feel outrageous, because we can visually verify them in the cards. At the same time, such visual verification validates the tales themselves. That is why I like to call these footnotes ‘narrative spells’. :-) They are ‘tricky’ in that they are engaging -in the same sense that all analogies seem to make sense even if they are false- and have some sort of poetic flair.

Although they don’t seem -to me at least- to add up to a whole comprehensive system, nor they seem to have any real relationship with the image’s original iconographic intention (this is, I suspect they don’t explain much about the tarot’s original purpose), I believe that these little tales about ‘this hand’ or ‘that head’ are important within what we could define as a ‘Tarot de Marseille Tradition’, even if -as I suspect- these embellishments in the way of describing certain details in the cards probably developed in the 20th Century. I am going to write down some parts of that Tarot de Marseille lore that I recall, and I will appreciate if anybody could add on to that list. I am not so much interested in these things you can make up on the spot, but on observations that are similar to the ones I quote below that you may have read, or heard, elsewhere.

Here we go:

- The Magician is waiting for The Fool to start his act.

- In his table, The Magician shows the four elements corresponding to the four suits of the tarot.

- The Magician is ignoring La Papesse, who preaches to him about the virtues of the Good Book.

- The Pope gives his blessing to The Lover.

- The Lover is about to fall victim of Cupid's arrow, but Le Chariot comes to remind him of his destiny.

- Justice teaches The chariot how to manage the two horses. She also wears around her neck a rope to hang the Hanged man with, but she also caries the sword that could free him.

- The Hermit lends his light to Justice. His figure hides a visual pun: a man looking at his own lantern can only blind himself. That’s why he has a cane that connect his heart to the ground, as if saying: “privilege intuition over reason”. This is important because, although we can see the ground in front of him, there is no ground behind him. He moves forward by walking backwards, trusting his intuition.

- Strength takes the lion's tongue out to lend it to the Hanged Man.

- Death comes to free the Hanged Man as last resource, IF Justices chooses not to do so.

- Death is the nameless card. The Fool is the numberless card. Their posture matches because Death is The Fool’s skeleton.

- Temperance could revive the two persons whose heads Death has severed, but if she does so, she will become the devil and the two people her captives.

- The devil holds his slaves captive inside the tower. We know this because the silhouette of the Devil matches the silhouette of the broken tower.

- The Star is putting The Tower's fire out. She takes her water from the lake we see in The Moon.

- The wall we see in The Sun conceals behind it the tomb depicted in Judgment.

- The person who is awakening in Judgement is composed by two different halves, as if these twins in The Sun melted into one being.

- The cloud around the angel in Judgment can be seen as the lower section of The World's mandorla.

- Along the Trumps sequence the figures get progressively naked, as if suggesting the transcendence of the spirit over material gains.

- The black bird in The Star sings at the twilight before the sundown.


Those are the ones that come to mind right now. If I remember something else I will add it to the list.

Thanks in advance for any addition.

All my Best,


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

Our Lady's Juggler (Re: That ‘Old’ Tarot de Marseille Lore)

#3
EnriqueEnriquez wrote: - The Magician is ignoring La Papesse, who preaches to him about the virtues of the Good Book.

...Thanks in advance for any addition.
Our player of hocus pocus lays down
his wand, takes up
a ball and cup,
prays "come closeup"
and moves them round and round.

Our Lord's lady in her bridal habit
just loves to look
upon the crook;
her open book
mere pretense for the abbot.
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: That ‘Old’ Tarot de Marseille Lore...

#4
SteveM wrote:
Our player of hocus pocus lays down
his wand, takes up
a ball and cup,
prays "come closeup"
and moves them round and round.

Our Lord's lady in her bridal habit
just loves to look
upon the crook;
her open book
mere pretense for the abbot.
Thanks for that Steve. The ‘Our Lady’s Juggler’ I recall is a tale about a juggler that offers his juggling as a prayer. Is this referred to the same thing, or there are more stanzas applicable to the tarot?
Corsufle wrote:Thanks for posting. I love this sort of lore. Can you cite any references (written or oral, even vaguely remembered would be OK)?


I am not confident about quoting sources here, as these are things I have heard or read more than once, but Tchalai Unger’s book comes to mind (originally published to accompany Grimaud’s tarot), as well as some of Jodorowsky’s lectures and Jean-Claude’s book, which is full of these little narratives (Now, these three authors seem to somehow share a common universe/past/origin in the figure of Jean Assens, but I am not certain about the extent of his ideas or influence in them). The little tales I have mentioned are those that I have seen repeated over and over, so I can’t attribute them to just one person. If I were to situate them in a time period, I would say they are all pretty much 20th Century, but that is a wild guess.



Thanks,


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

Re: That ‘Old’ Tarot de Marseille Lore...

#5
EnriqueEnriquez wrote:
- The Magician is ignoring La Papesse, who preaches to him about the virtues of the Good Book.
Or as a critical commentary upon the state of the church:

The papesse looks not into the open book in her lap, but upon the juggler: as the Catholic church looks upon transubstantion, purgatory, veneration of saints and relics, miracles and other such juggleries rather than upon scripture.

Also we have the juggler as a juggler of words, the eloquent, seductive speaker and the papesse with book, the written word: figurative of memory and traditions of the the oral and written word (a common motif of poetry).
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: That ‘Old’ Tarot de Marseille Lore...

#6
SteveM wrote:The papesse looks not into the open book in her lap, but upon the juggler...
"Be above board bateleur!"

A card gambling saying from the 15th century- that comes down to us as something done honestly.
It meant back then keep your hands above the table, in case it is thought you cheat.
Sopra di Asse.......

~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: That ‘Old’ Tarot de Marseille Lore...

#7
SteveM wrote:n book in her lap, but upon the juggler: as the Catholic church looks upon transubstantion, purgatory, veneration of saints and relics, miracles and other such juggleries rather than upon scripture.
...the magic of the church trumps that of the juggler, like the miracles of a Moses trumps the trickeries of the pharoe's magicians; as St. Peter trumps the juggleries of a Simon Magus...

...no matter how good a juggler you are, the papesse reminds us, there is one that is better.
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 6 guests

cron