Re: Tarot and The Church

#31
i would like to jump in and talk about the catholic theme here. first, let me say that any attempt at explaining the tarot outside of a context that contains all of the cards is doomed to failure, as it can be too easy to interpret symbols in different ways. now about the tarot being associated with the church and catholicism, let's keep a couple of things in mind:
1) the church banned playing cards and had them burned when found. so this seems at odds with the idea that they were used as a catholic learning tool. in addition, the use of the pope's image in the cards was strictly forbidded. however, this didn't seem to prevent the cardmakers from including it in their decks. so i question just how "catholic" the tarot makers and/or users were.
2) you have already talked about certain cards which don't appear to fit the mold, so this should point to the fact that using the catholic theme as the source of the cards is doubtful. what should be clear is the fact that many images used in the tarot were simply borrowed from existing themes common to medieval art - many of which were christian. that doesn't mean that the image used was meant to imply the same meaning as the original symbol. as o'neill says, "In the tarot and in the age when they were designed, one can expect that many orthodox symbols will be deliberately inserted into the system, just to deceive the casual observer".(tarot symbolism, p.205)
3) although most of the people during the time the tarot was being developed were good catholics, there were still many other "christian" groups who were considered heretics. these people could very well have used the images in the tarot to convey their messages, which of course would have to be used under the radar of the eyes of the church.

Re: Tarot and The Church

#32
Usually the cities made prohibitions, not the church. Often this were reduced prohibitions, either against specific games or mostly against too high gambling. The behavior of the cities differed, even if specific cities were political united, each city (often) had a local law (for instance in the Florentine region). Prohibitive tendencies wandered in waves, they were not always the same.
The prohibition against cards - if there was one - was less strong as against dice games.

The church (occasionally) prohibited specific games for the priests, for instance chess was occasionally prohibited in 14th century for priests, but it's completely useless to speak in global termini like "the church prohibited", but such information needs a "when" and a "where", otherwise you've nothing to talk about. At begin of 15th century the prohibition against chess for priests disappeared more or less.

Some preachers preached against playing cards, especially Franciscans, especially St. Capristanus and San Bernardino. Not always, this were movements. Then the cities increased their prohibitions as a reaction. After some time the trouble often became forgotten. Or it happened a scandal, somebody ruined himself by gambling. Then the prohibition was also increased.

Some popes played cards. Not all popes ... and those, who played cards, played not always cards. Alexander VI is said to have played with enthusiasm.

Tarot with "pope" was especially played in countries with catholic background, much less in protestant countries. Very seldom the pope card was prohibited.

The idea with the heretics is in my humble opinion nonsense.

The production of the early Trionfi cards was expensive, much more expensive than humble normal playing cards. Expensive means, that only people with enough money could manage to have such a deck. The same group of persons sponsored chapels, holy pictures etc. in the local churches. There was only seldom an interest in the church to generate conflicts with people with much money, especially when the same persons occasionally were the source of income of cloisters, churches etc..

Times of exaggerated prohibition:

1420 - 1427 Preachings of San Bernardino, who gets around 1427 himself difficulties with the pope.
In the 1440's ... cause the weak pope Eugen, who kept himself to the Franciscans, became stronger in the 40's.
In the 1450's ... especially in Germany cause the preachings of St. Capristanus
In the late 1490's ... by the Savonarola movement

The prohibition followed often some logic. So it was (occasionally) prohibited to play in summer ... the people should work. It was often allowed to play in the Christmas season - the people had nothing to do. It was not allowed to gamble for very much money ... it was not a win for a city, when the citizens ruined themselves through gambling.
foolish wrote:i would like to jump in and talk about the catholic theme here. first, let me say that any attempt at explaining the tarot outside of a context that contains all of the cards is doomed to failure, as it can be too easy to interpret symbols in different ways. now about the tarot being associated with the church and catholicism, let's keep a couple of things in mind:
1) the church banned playing cards and had them burned when found. so this seems at odds with the idea that they were used as a catholic learning tool. in addition, the use of the pope's image in the cards was strictly forbidded. however, this didn't seem to prevent the cardmakers from including it in their decks. so i question just how "catholic" the tarot makers and/or users were.
2) you have already talked about certain cards which don't appear to fit the mold, so this should point to the fact that using the catholic theme as the source of the cards is doubtful. what should be clear is the fact that many images used in the tarot were simply borrowed from existing themes common to medieval art - many of which were christian. that doesn't mean that the image used was meant to imply the same meaning as the original symbol. as o'neill says, "In the tarot and in the age when they were designed, one can expect that many orthodox symbols will be deliberately inserted into the system, just to deceive the casual observer".(tarot symbolism, p.205)
3) although most of the people during the time the tarot was being developed were good catholics, there were still many other "christian" groups who were considered heretics. these people could very well have used the images in the tarot to convey their messages, which of course would have to be used under the radar of the eyes of the church.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot and The Church

#33
it seems that the concern over the use of the tarot cards was more than just keeping people from losing money by gambling. the images portrayed in the cards were offensive enough to cause some to preach against their use:
"There is nothing so hateful to God as the game of Trumps [the tarot] … for Trumps are said, so it is believed, to have been given their names by the Devil…. In it not only are God, the angels, the planets, and the cardinal virtues represented and named, but also the world’s luminaries, I mean the Pope and the Emperor, are forced, a thing which is degrading and ridiculous to Christians, to enter into the game". quoted from cynthia giles, tarot, history, mystery and lore, p.7.

your failure to see any heretical influences in the tarot seems to be contrary to many scholars' opinions, including robert o'neill, who did not doubt their contribution to the development of the cards. indeed, it seems easier to show the influence of heretical symbology in the trumps than trying to formulate the complete set of trumps into an orthodox source, although it is obvious that christian images were used - as was common practice in any art form of the time. we should not be so eager to accept the idea that the images portray only what they show on face value.

Re: Tarot and The Church

#34
foolish wrote: first, let me say that any attempt at explaining the tarot outside of a context that contains all of the cards is doomed to failure, as it can be too easy to interpret symbols in different ways.
Hi, foolish. The early Italian cards, the Viscontis, lack a devil and a tower--some think these cards were lost or destroyed; others think they were never part of the original decks. Minchiates have more than 22 trumps.
Early cards weren't numbered; once numbering came in, the numbering systems varied. When you say that explanation needs to involve all the cards or fail--I don't understand your reasoning.

--Debra (same Debra as at the purple forum) :)

Re: Tarot and The Church

#35
i'm not sure i follow the first part of your message, debra, but if you are pointing to the fact that there were many decks which varied in number and content so no one theory can reasonably explain them all, then i get your drift. what i was trying to say was that any solid theory about the tarot should be all enclusive to the cards in the specific deck which it is refering to. this assumes that the tarot changed in the designers intentions as it evolved through its changing uses from location to location and time to time. thus, some symbols were kept and others discarded or changed as was necessary to convey the new messages being incorporated into the cards. we should not get stuck on the idea taht the tarot had one single purpose in every area it was found, since its begining.

what i would ask is, if the Tarot de Marseille was an offshoot of the visconti tart, then why were the devil and the tower added to the deck (assuming they were never a part of the italian deck in the first place)? there must have been a good reason for the Tarot de Marseille designers to include those cards in order to tell their story, don't you think?

Re: Tarot and The Church

#36
The appearance of one or two "bad apples" doesn't make a whole apple-tree bad.

I would be really interested to know your third bad view on Tarot or Trionfi cards during 15th century, of two I know myself and they includes that, what you quoted.
I can point to "6 allowances" of Trionfi and another few times "good words" about them.

If two voices state, that "Jack was a bad man" and many voices claim, that "Jack was very honorable" I've to analyze, that the majority didn't bother about the behavior of Jack. Do you think, that this is a not logical approach?

A paper analysis of the document, that you quoted, stated, that it was made around 1500 in the Ferrarese region.
http://trionfi.com/0/p/17/

In 1497/98 the preacher Savonarola made playing cards burn in Florence. As Savonarola came from Ferrara and duke Ercole was in something like a personal crisis and had decided to be himself a fan of Savonarola, it happened, that even in Ferrara (birthplace of Trionfi cards, with many documents about Tarot production and some surviving cards) playing cards were prohibited.
In mid 1498 Savonarola was burnt at the same place, urged by Pope Aleander VI, from whom himself it is known, that he had a favor for playing cards.

It seems that the text was written during this extraordinary short period with heated arguments and activities outside of the "common reality" of 15th century.

A second attack on Trionfi cards happened 1455 in Padova during the St. Capristan's activities in Germany, where much playing cards were burnt. St. Capristanus' activities aimed mainly at a crusade against the Osmans and followed the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the crusade actually took place in 1456. St. Capristanus died himself at the crusade, the related Spanish Pope died 1458, the somehow also related Alfonso of Aragon ("Spanish" like the current pope, also personally "against playing cards" and gambling) also died 1458.
http://trionfi.com/0/e/13b/

The next Pope Pius II also wanted a new crusade, but he couldn't organize it.

Trionfi cards were defended (possibly against the attack of the preacher in Padova) in a text of the Ferrarese jurist Ugo Trotti in 1456, and generally Trionfi cards expanded in this period, nevertheless.
http://trionfi.com/0/e/14/

Padova belonged to Venice and Venice generally seems to have avoided the general Trionfi habits as they appeared in Milan, Ferrara and Florence - likely cause it didn't fit with their republican ideas. A doge of 1472 in "personal triumph" attempted to establish a new Venetian coin with his personal portrait, but this action was criticized heavily and the coin was banned later. The citizens didn't like "personal triumphs".

Image

Nicolo Tron, 1472

This special Venetian behavior seems to have changed after the Ferrarese war 1482-84 and we find suddenly three allowances of Trionfi cards in three cities on Venetian territory between 1488-91.
http://trionfi.com/0/e/39/

**********

The years between 1400 - 1500 took 100 years (as usual) and this is a complex, long time (3-4 generations) with many different activities, which according the laws of dialectical progress NOT always proceeded in the same direction.

A summary like "the church banned playing cards and had them burned when found" without detailed argumentation only demonstrates, that the author doesn't know about the details.
Well, that's not a personal shame, it's more the description of a general situation. There were a lot of improvements in the documentation and interpretation of Trionfi card documents in the recent years, strongly connected to the possibilities of internet, and if you wish to have serious talks, now in 2010, about the theme of "origin of Tarot", you simply have to know the documents, "as far and as good they're known in the moment" (which indeed is not "always perfect" and just a matter of a slow, occasionally boring, but somehow constant progress).

If you don't know the details, then you simply write books, which are already "too old" in the moment of their production, and, worse, you misguide your readers.

Platina, papal librarian, stated, that there is nothing to say against a card play after the meal for recreation. Surely San Bernardino would have offered another opinion, Filippo Maria Visconti also would have an own view of the problem. This is natural, they were different persons.
The reality of 15th century had a polymorphous structure, as other times had it also, especially the modern times.

For instance: some people use the internet and others don't use it, for instance for Tarot History research. Some started to use it already in 1995 for this interest, others in 2010 ... this involves rather different reflections of the theme.
foolish wrote:it seems that the concern over the use of the tarot cards was more than just keeping people from losing money by gambling. the images portrayed in the cards were offensive enough to cause some to preach against their use:
"There is nothing so hateful to God as the game of Trumps [the tarot] … for Trumps are said, so it is believed, to have been given their names by the Devil…. In it not only are God, the angels, the planets, and the cardinal virtues represented and named, but also the world’s luminaries, I mean the Pope and the Emperor, are forced, a thing which is degrading and ridiculous to Christians, to enter into the game". quoted from cynthia giles, tarot, history, mystery and lore, p.7.

your failure to see any heretical influences in the tarot seems to be contrary to many scholars' opinions, including robert o'neill, who did not doubt their contribution to the development of the cards. indeed, it seems easier to show the influence of heretical symbology in the trumps than trying to formulate the complete set of trumps into an orthodox source, although it is obvious that christian images were used - as was common practice in any art form of the time. we should not be so eager to accept the idea that the images portray only what they show on face value.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot and The Church

#37
Huck is correct. It is a lie promulgated by occultists that the Church ever tried to suppress Tarot cards. I say "lie" because it is known to be untrure, by anyone who has looked into it. If you don't know it yet, foolish (Robert), I'm telling you now.

Preachers did not speak for the Church, and sometimes ran afoul of Church authorities themselves - or powerful factions within it - when they became too popular or said risky things. Bernardino of Siena himself had to face a trial for heresy in 1427, in Rome (he was acquitted).

Playing cards could be a source of income for the Church - in 1405, Baldasarre Cossa, papal governor of Bologna (later Pope John XXIII - now considered to be an antipope) imposed a tax on them in the city. Bologna was a Papal City, and the tax shows that enough cards were made there for some decent revenue to be generated.

It is a myth that "The Church" ran the medieval world like a totalitarian state, with ruthless efficiency.The Church's power only existed insofar as secular rulers cooperated with it, and the struggles of the Papacy with the Empire (and its representatives) and other, independent secular rulers from the 13th to the 16th centuries - when the Church lost control of half of Europe for ever - shows that this cooperation was hardly a given.

In any case, there was never, anywhere, a canonical prohibition of cardplay, except for clergy. And the latter were denied all other frivolous pastimes as well (some local councils did so in the 15th century, but the Ecumencial Council of Trent formalized the ban for clergy in the mid-16th century), the chief reason being to avoid scandalizing the laity. We know that this rule too was largely ignored.

As for the Church's formal involvement with Tarot, the thread would be a short one. Only a single instance of Church interference in the game is known, and it was done for political reasons.
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
The four Moors didn't come into the Bolognese decks until 1725.
The replacement of the 'Papi' by 'Mori' came about in 1725 by the intervention of the Papal Legate, Cardinal Ruffo. At that time, Bologna, although very proud of its ancient liberties, fell within the Papal States, but, by an agreement of 1447, enjoyed considerable autonomy. In 1725 Canon Luigi Montieri of Bologna produced a geographical Tarocchino pack: the body of each trump card gave geographical information ... What annoyed the Legate, Cardinal Ruffo, was that on the Matto Bologna was described as having a "mixed government" (governo misto). Ruffo ordered Montieri's pack publicly burned; Montieri and everyone concerned with its production were arrested. However the Legate quickly came to realise that to proceed against them on this ground would arous deep resentment in the city. He therefore had the prisoners rapidly released, and, to save face, demanded instead that the four 'Papi' be replaced by four Moorish satraps, and the Angel by a Lady (Dama). The first change was accepted, though the second was ignored, and Montieri's pack was reissued with the Moors instead of 'Papi'; moreover, Moors were henceforth used in all Bolognese Tarot packs.
(Dummett and McLeod, "History of Games Played with the Tarot Pack" (Mellen Press, 2004) pp. 263-264)
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=420&p=8467#p8467

In a similar vein, whereever else we find individual clergy or preachers talking about Triumphs or Tarot, it is in the context of complaining about their inclusion of orthodox subjects like the Pope, Judgement, or the four Evangelists, as well as the sacrilege a Popess (you know, the anonymous Steele Sermon author, a Franciscan - the only known instance of an explicit complaint about her). The issue is sacrilege or blasphemy, for including these holy subjects in a card game, not heresy at all. But even then, even with a few grouchy preachers or inquisitors, no Church authority, with the 1725 exception, ever mentions the game, and certainly never tried to suppress it.

As for any churchman ever mentioning the term "heresy" in connection with Tarot, there is not a single instance. I can't speak for the 20th century.
Image

Re: Tarot and The Church

#38
if you saw a tree that had apples on it but also had a few oranges, would you look at it as simply an apple tree, or would you think to consider an alternative?

as far as the "jack is a bad man" analogy goes, we have to consider the fact that making statements about how people thought 500 years ago is made difficult by the shear fact of the lack of existing records of very specific topics such as the tarot. so i think when we come across a document which says that jack may be bad, although others may disagree, we should give it some significance. in fact, the link you supply refers to at least three monks who spoke out against the heretical nature of the cards (i use the term in a broad sense, the way it was used in the middle ages). in a like manner, companies often say that in recieving feedback from the public, one complaint usually represents a hundred others like it who didn't write in. the point is that we should n't dismiss the value of several documents which appear to signify a particular trend of thought.

whether the official position of the church never specifically mentioned the word heresy in the same sentence with the tarot, this does not negate what the popular sentiment was. it also seems that the other references to "official" proclamations about cards were from secular, not church, sources. i think it is admirable that you have spent so much time researching old documents, but sometimes we can get stuck not seeing the forest from the trees. i am always open to learning more, and welcome any input. we both have to be careful not to see this information only from our own bias.

Re: Tarot and The Church

#39
i can see that some of the ideas i have come across from other sources will find opposition in scholarly circles such as these forums. i applaud all of you for the extent you have looked into this subject. i never have presented myself as an expert in the tarot and concede that many people within the realm of this and other tarot sites may have more knowledge of the subject simply because of the time and effort they put into the research. however, i think it's fair to conclude that NO one theory of the tarot has been universally accepted in these circles. my evidence is that if such were the case, it would be a open and shut case and there would be no need for further debate (which is obviously not the case).

so, having said that, i would propose that the book i have written should still be considered a legitimate book, even though you might find some "rotten apples" in it. let me say that i did not start out to write a scholarly treatise about the history of the tarot. folks like you have more than adequately covered the subject. and as you have admitted, that type of investigation can be quite boring. what i tried to do was to share some of the information that i came across which, to me, pointed in a certain direction. the theory itself was previously proposed by others. what i did in addition to relating the theory and some historical background (in order to set the context) was to interpret the images in the cards within that context. i understand that "interpretation" is open to the errors of subjectivity, but isn't that much of what most tarot enthusiasts do? my goal is to present a story that i hope will be both entertaining and interesting in the fact of its plausibility. it is not intended to "prove" a theory, just as no one else in the industry has been able to do that as yet.

keep an open mind. it may just be a very good "read". even if it is flawed in your eyes.

Re: Tarot and The Church

#40
foolish wrote:i can see that some of the ideas i have come across from other sources will find opposition in scholarly circles such as these forums. i applaud all of you for the extent you have looked into this subject. i never have presented myself as an expert in the tarot and concede that many people within the realm of this and other tarot sites may have more knowledge of the subject simply because of the time and effort they put into the research. however, i think it's fair to conclude that NO one theory of the tarot has been universally accepted in these circles. my evidence is that if such were the case, it would be a open and shut case and there would be no need for further debate (which is obviously not the case).
... :-) ... there are indeed points, in which - for instance Ross and me - not agree.

There are a lot of other points, in which we agree ... :-) ... generally a great part of progress means good cooperation and also agreement and experience, how progress is reached, what's promising, and what's not promising. Well, that's a very complex process, the theme has a lots of details.
But, anyway, the new ways of internet have changed the communicative possibilities between researchers, and we profit from it. The key is actually, that we help each other. Everybody has some weaknesses, everybody has some strong sides. By the exchange of information anybody wins.

... :-) ... actually a good critical debate, which makes different positions clear, is often the biggest help for an author, believe it or believe it not.
Didn't you experience radical progress in the last days ?
so, having said that, i would propose that the book i have written should still be considered a legitimate book, even though you might find some "rotten apples" in it. let me say that i did not start out to write a scholarly treatise about the history of the tarot. folks like you have more than adequately covered the subject. and as you have admitted, that type of investigation can be quite boring. what i tried to do was to share some of the information that i came across which, to me, pointed in a certain direction. the theory itself was previously proposed by others. what i did in addition to relating the theory and some historical background (in order to set the context) was to interpret the images in the cards within that context. i understand that "interpretation" is open to the errors of subjectivity, but isn't that much of what most tarot enthusiasts do? my goal is to present a story that i hope will be both entertaining and interesting in the fact of its plausibility. it is not intended to "prove" a theory, just as no one else in the industry has been able to do that as yet.
keep an open mind. it may just be a very good "read". even if it is flawed in your eyes.
It seems, your book is already printed and you paid for it, with heart blood, work and possibly even with money. That's now the mystery of being an author. ... .-) ... it's easier with websites. If something is wrong, you can change it easily.

We don't mind anybody to have an own opinion, and as an author (at least, what I think) he/she should be somehow interested to "prove" his/her case ... even if he/she possibly is disappointed finally. How should he/she else find out, what's right and what's wrong in his/her idea?
Other literature aims at mere entertainment ... it's an accepted market.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

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