Origins of the Tarot by Dai Léon

Our new member Psykees (Dai Léon) links to his interesting site in the Links area West Wing of the Library section (hard to find leave that section and not head straight to either the East Wing or Zen Den... but here I am).

Thereon is mention of his forthcoming book Origins of the Tarot (and congratulations - I look forward to its release later this year). From the Random House site, the description in part is described thus:
Author Dai Léon explores a confluence of philosophical schools from East and West as they relate to tarot, giving each its due in the exposition of a universal procession of evolution and the soul’s quest for enlightenment.
I am left wondering - though it may need the release of the book to satisfy my wonderings - if the focus is therefore not so much historical, but rather precisely how described above, as a study of how various aspects of divergent philosophical 'schools' can be seen to be reflected in the symbolism of the tarot, especially its trumps.

In other words, and even from the description, I wonder how the term 'Origin' in the title is to be understood: is it more a case of 'origin' in the sense that tarot's impulse takes its rise from the common human spiritual striving?

Re: Origins of the Tarot by Dai Léon

Hi, Jean-Michel,
jmd wrote:I wonder how the term 'Origin' in the title is to be understood: is it more a case of 'origin' in the sense that tarot's impulse takes its rise from the common human spiritual striving?
Among the interesting comments are the following:
It is the thesis of this book that the twenty-two images conceptually originated in Sufi circles trained in Greek studies.... The author is unaware of any treatise before this that has put forth the above statements regarding Tarot origins.... That the coherent, hierarchical worldview represented by the Trionfi was transferred to Italy through the Islamic world under Greek influence, both Orthodox and Neoplatonic, is an obvious theory worth consideration. However, remarkably enough, this theory has never been seriously forwarded by Tarot occultists, card historians, or scholars of comparative religion.
From that, it sounds as if he is talking about a specific "coherent, hierarchical" content related to historical Tarot rather than a hodge-podge of vaguely conceived mystical analogies with contemporary New Age Tarot. This would certainly not be the first time someone had made such a card-by-card argument.

John Dyson Blakeley's Mystical Tower of the Tarot (1974) made such a detailed case based on specific trump subjects, following the general indications of Idries Shah's The Sufis (1964, pp.449-450) and the detailed fiction, (which Blakeley took as a genuine Sufi text), presented by Sir Fairfax Leighton Cartwright in The Mystic Rose from the Garden of the King (1899). This was discussed in some detail in Decker & Dummett's A History of the Occult Tarot (2002, pp.304-6), Mary Greer has written about it in Tarot for Your Self (2002, p.50), and John Meador posted on it to Aeclectic a couple years ago. (There are additional posts on the subject in this thread.)

possible Sufi origin of the Tarot (6/18/06) ... stcount=44

Unfortunately, both Blakeley and Cartwright's books are unavailable via Google Books, even though Cartwright's is over a century old and therefore public domain. However, the crucial passage of Cartwright's book is online in a couple places.

The Mystic Rose from the Garden of the King ... icrose.htm

The Mystic Rose from the Garden of the King

In 1988, William C. Lammey wrote Karmic Tarot which, according to Decker & Dummett, generally follows Cartwright: "Arranging the trumps to symbolize seven stages leading to enlightenment, Lammey finds parallels in a variety of other septenaries, such as the spectrum of colours, the sequence of chakras, and the stages of life."

Best regards,
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: Origins of the Tarot by Dai Léon

Greetings all... thanks, Michael, for the link to tarotforums re sufi origins of the tarot; some good stuff to be explored there.

Origins of the Tarot elaborates Origins primarily from the vantage of what has often been called 'perennial wisdom' tradition. It definitely does not take a 'new age' pov. Getting into just what the sophia perennis is all about entails more than what is probably appropriate to this forum, but then that is the purpose of the book, in conjunction with its influence upon development of the Tarot. Regarding that, the names and hierarchical structure of the triumphs are identified with Ibn 'Arabi's Names of Allah, tied into a Semitic 'science of letters and names'. Association between Ibn 'Arabi's 12th and 13th century school of metaphysics and founding Kabbalists is also examined.

Only the first chapter of the book addresses the Italian history of the cards. Venice and its relationship with Alexandria and Constantinople is a particular focus in the second chapter. The third then addresses Sufism and Ibn 'Arabi's cosmology.
Dai Leon

Re: Origins of the Tarot by Dai Léon

Thankyou both!

I well recall some of the discussions with John Meador, as well as (in more general terms) references to the 'Mystic Rose of the Garden of the King'... now that you bring them back to mind, Michael, so thankyou. It is probably a story that I should remember to at some stage also include in a Newsletter (with some appropriate commentary!).

There are two senses in which "'perennial wisdom' tradition" can be understood, and from the context of both your post and book description, Dai, I presume you mean it in the sense appropriated by Guénon and his followers - ie, the "Traditionalists". This would indeed also explain the usage of the term 'origin' in a sense consistent with the views of that movement.

If that's the case, I probably have some rather not-so positive views on Guénon and the so-called "Traditionalist" school of thought (something on which I do not hold back at times, such as post #62 in the thread 'Tips for reading with the Marseilles', on Aeclectic, shows).

I'll have to await until reading the book for more fair comments and judgements, of course. One aspect that I do find very elegant with many who are interested in Guénon is the growing body of (excessive) eclectic selection of preferred materials to support the dogma, and an unwarranted rejection of the rich wealth that the actual syncretic impulse has had in much of the world's development - including, I would suggest, the 'origins' and development of tarot.

I sincerely look forward to reading the book!

Re: Origins of the Tarot by Dai Léon

I don't even know what a "Traditionalist" is :roll: , well, other than someone who prefers to butter both sides of a grilled cheese sandwich.

You're welcome to discuss you're book as much or as little as you'd like Dai. I'm always interested in the different ways that people approach the history of tarot, and look forward to learning more about yours.
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: Origins of the Tarot by Dai Léon

heheheh... yes, well I too could deliver up a dose of strong criticism regarding R. Guenon, but really do not see that as having much bearing on this forum. I prefer to see the best in the varying neo-traditionalists that became famous during the last century. In any case, writings of that circle (such as A. K. Coomaraswamy, S.H. Nasr and W. C. Chittick) proved to be quite valuable in my research and were put to good use in my book.

My work is as post-modern as it is traditionalist. However, as much as Random House will also slot it into the 'occult,' I would not call it that. It is, on the other hand, strongly oriented toward the concept of evolution, an idea that many of the old-time traditionalists had a problem with. We live in a century of science and need to resolve scientific, modern and post-modern, laws with traditional spiritual principles. Hopefully, Origins of the Tarot will assist in realizing that.
Dai Leon

Re: Origins of the Tarot by Dai Léon

Hi JMD !
You quoted :
wow - buttering both sides of a grilled cheese sandwich!!!

...nice to have differing views about things, or there would be neither possibility of learning nor of interactive discussions :)

So you DONE IT !

You re so too a Laser Mind Brother ...

Ps/ I m also expect read the book and then begin to suppose.

The Universe is like a Mamushka.

Re: Origins of the Tarot by Dai Léon

Well, it is important that I make a strong suggestion to _everyone_ on this forum:

Butter both sides of each slice! I realized at a very young age that this makes a *far superior* Toasted Cheese Sandwich!

My mom did it, and her mom did it, and damn if the world isn't going DownUnder in a HandBasket if people don't respect the age-old wisdom of how to make Ecstatically Yummy Snacks (EYS)!
Dai Leon

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