From what the Theology of Arithmetic
says about the Ennead, that it marks a turning around to the beginning, the source, one might expect that it would talk about the Decad as the Monad in another form. There is some of that, in that it refers to both as "God." But the Decad is not a new beginning; it is rather the fulfillment of what the Monad began: it is the actuality of that which the Monad was in potentiality. We can tell that by the epithets that it lists for the Decad:
Hence the Pythagoreans in their theology called it sometimes ‘universe,’ sometimes ‘heaven,’ sometimes ‘all,’ sometimes ‘Fate’ and ‘Eternity’, ‘power’ and ‘trust’ and ‘Necessity,’ ‘Atlas’ and ‘unwearying,’ and smiply ‘God’ and ‘Phanes’ and ‘sun.’(pp. 109-110)
Counting to ten on our fingers, when we complete the count we are still on our fingers. It is only at 11 that we start over, either on our toes or our other hand again. It is the same in the Greek way of writing numerals. One is alpha, Two is Beta, and so on up to Ten, which is Iota (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_numerals
). Then Eleven is not Kappa but rather Iota Alpha. The series starts over, on a new level. It is not until Twenty that the letter Kappa is used, and Twenty-one is Kappa Alpha, etc. Iota represents the entirety of what has come before, and that letter followed by Alpha is the new beginning. The Decad is thus the whole, of which the prior numbers are the parts, and after which is only a repetition of what came before.
In that spirit, I see the SB Tens as expressing different interpretations of life's wholes.
First, in Swords, the man's bent head suggests sorrow. All ten swords are in his bag; the job is completed; what next? It is hard to let go of a project once it is done. You want to keep going over something you've written, for example, perfecting it, adding things you missed, etc. You realize its imperfections; it was not as grand as you had hoped. One might imagine the Creator-god feeling that way, surveying his creation in these latter days. It all works, but with such suffering, such antagonisms, such refusal to accept what he has wrought. The demiurge grieves.
The "Etteilla" Uprights very much capture the feeling of the SB card. The Reverseds suggest the other side of affliction when it occurs by virtue of force of arms. One man's sorrow is another's victory. The Reverseds draw on a tradition that the suit of Swords connoted the soldier and warfare. So the most of Swords would be the most of warfare, which results in the most of sorrow for one side and the most in victory, if not always happiness, for the other.
ETTEILLA 10 OF SWORDS: Affliction, Tears, Crying, Sobs, Groans, Sighs, Moans, Lamentations, Complaints, Ailments, Grief, Sadness, Distress, Jeremiad, Lay [Poetry], Desolation.REVERSED: Advantage, Gain, Profit, Success.—Favor, Gift, Kind Deed, Influence, Ability, Empire, Authority, Power, Usurpation.
Smith has given expression to the object of sorrow rather than the one sorrowing. A murder victim, it is one example of the antagonisms let loose upon our world.
Waite's list copies Etteilla, adding, "It is not especially a card of violent death," to qualify Smith's image, lest people think that the card is a predictor of murder. In the Reverseds he adds a moralization about the temporary nature of gains obtained by the sword. Waite's design is conditioned by the narrative he imposes upon swords, which opens with a murder (Kaplan vol. 1 p. 272). Then the Nine of Swords has the man's sister waking up with a start after dreaming the murder. Waite's putting 10 at the beginning is not, of course, in the Neopythagorean spirit, where the Decad is unequivocally end rather than beginning.
WAITE 10 OF SWORDS: Whatsoever is intimated by the design; also pain, affliction, tears, sadness, desolation. It is not especially a card of violent death. Additional Meanings: Followed by Ace and King, imprisonment; for girl or wife, treason on the part of friends.REVERSED: Advantage, profit, success, favour, but none of these are permanent; also power and authority. Additional Meanings: Victory and consequent fortune for a soldier in war.
Waite's list does not at all utilize the Golden Dawn tradition in which Swords represented thinking and the world of intellect. That is another possibility, the completion of an intellectual task; Di Vincenzo interprets the card in this fashion. It is possible, because as we will see, the other Tens all have to do with other "parts of the soul": Batons with the "spirited" part, in the Platonic sense involved with courage; Coins with the material part; and Cups with the immortal spirit. However, from the SB and the Theology
, I see reference to the completion of an intellectual task in only one sense: that of submission to a fate that one has apprehended through the intellect.
It is a peculiarity of the Theology's
concept of Fate that it is an apprehension of the future perceived not by some sort of trance-state but by conscious rationality. In the Theology
, one of the epithets of the Decad is Fate.
Again, they called it ‘Fate,’ because there is no attribute, either among numbers or among things which have been formed by numbers, which is not sown in the decad and the numbers within it, and does not also extend, in the remaining series, step by step, to what follows the decad, and Fate is as it were a connected and orderly result. [Translator’s note: Heimarmene (Fate) is here related to heirmos (series). (p. 110)
To the Pythagoreans, number is what makes possible a rational order in a universe with limitless possibilities. Number equals Fate, the law of God to which, like the man in Swords, all must bow down. What physicist today would disagree? The upside of Fate in this sense, according to the Theology
, is trust: because God works by numbers, the future will be like the past. The sun will rise tomorrow not because it always has, in our experience, but because the numbers say it will. Again, this is something with which both Newton and Einstein would agree.
What is more, from the ten numbers of the Decad alone, the Theology
declares, it is possible to know the laws of the whole universe, in microcosm. For example, if 6x6 results in a number ending in 6, the same will be true of all powers of 6 ad infinitum. A less intuitive example is that the sequence of squares is generated by the successive sums of odd numbers, i.e. 1+3=4, 1+3+5=9, 1+3+5+7=16, and so on. By reason, knowing that the universe is inherently comprehesible, we apprehend fate, with trust that the order will continue. This principle, that the macocosm is like the microcosm, has servd scientists well. The same numeric laws that govern the apple falling on Newton's head govern the movements of the planets.
How, then, can knowing our fate by reason bring sorrow and submission? A mundane example is when one's expenses habitually are more than one's income. One is fated to deal with the debt. In classical literature, a non-quantitative example is Sophocles' Oedipus. He goes about intellectually solving the problem of why Thebes is suffering from plague. In the process, he learns his own origins, and thereby deduces by intellect that he is the problem with Thebes, that he must leave, and that he must atone for his hybris. In self-exiling and self-blinding, he submits to the powers of fate he had previously sought to avoid. Thus indeed, his intellectual task is finished, in great sorrow and all the other words in the "Etteilla" word list.
Now I will move on to Batons. There we see another view of a completed whole. I see it as the commemorative tomb of a man whose life was spent honorably and well. It is the positive side of the Creator-god's work: a world of beauty in which suffering is the ladder toward moral loftiness.
Here I like Di Vinzenzo's statement of the card's significance, which also points to the downside of honor, namely, going after honor too much, with too much self-pride.
Significance: Display one’s successes with pride. Successes in public life, professional rewards, fame, glory. Also, excessive self-love, ostentation of one’s status, narcissism, longing to distinguish oneself at all costs. (p. 119).
I would add that there is the danger of achieving the appearance of honor only, and not the real thing, Plato talked a lot about the life of the man of honor, positively and negatively, in Book VIII of his Republic
The "Ettella" Uprights seem to pick up on just the negative side of the man of honor,i.e. the appearance of honor, not its realization. The Reverseds focus on another negative, the difficulties someone might achieve in the completion of one's goal..
ETTEILLA 10 OF BATONS: Treason, Perfidy, Trickery, Deception, Cunning, Surprise, Disguise, Dissimulation, Hypocrisy, Prevarication, Duplicity, Disloyalty, Evil Deeds, Deceitfulness, Subterfuge, Conspiracy.—Impostor. REVERSED: Obstacle, Attentiveness.—Bar, Hindrance, Vexations [Contrarities], Difficulties, Pain, Toil.—Inconvenience, Abjectness, Quibble, Complaint, Stumbling Block, Fence, Entrenchment, Redoubt, Fortification.
Here Waite merely copies Etteilla (see http://www.villarevak.org/td/td_8.html
). With such a negative take on the card, Smith uses the SB's image for Swords rather than its one for Batons.
In Coins, I think the SB shows us another response to the completion of a task, namely, to keep something undone, so as not to "close the lid," so to speak--or to keep something in reserve, so as not to put all one's eggs in one basket.
The "Etteilla" Uprights seem to me an attempt to reconcile various interpretations.
ETTEILLA 10 OF COINS: House, Household, Economy, Savings.—Dwelling, Domicile, Residence, Manor, Abode, Regiment, Ship, Vessel, Bowl.—Archives, Castle, Cottage.—Family, Extraction, Race, Posterity.—Den, Cavern, Lair. REVERSED: Lot, Fortune, Gambling, Fortunate Situation, Fate, Ignorance, Chance, Destiny, Destined, Inevitability.—Fortunate or Unfortunate Occasion.
We are now in the area of life--for some, the main part--in which the goal is not honor but material things: money, possessions. The tradition that saw Swords as associated with warfare also saw Coins as associated with money an material wealth. De Mellet, in 1781, wrote:
On the SB card, the box below the putto could be such a person's life savings, or also his house and grounds, all that he will pass on to his heirs. The dog scratching itself in front suggests to me the typical placement of a dog, in front of a house as its guardian--in this case, a rather preoccupied one.
I cannot accept Di Vicenzo's analysis of this card, in which the putto is taking the disc out of the box, indicating that the journey to enlightenment has just begun, and the "dog scratching himself" represents "the impurity of one who is still tied to his instincts"; hence "the work of inner growth is just at the beginning" (p. 82). In Neopythagoreanism, Ten means completion, at least of a stage, here as elsewhere.
To keep back one coin, which is what I see the putto doing, suggests to me a hedge against fate, which seems to pull him to have everything deposited in the one place. If all else is lost, the person will at least have something. Or if the one disc is lost, he will still have the rest in safekeeping.
The "Etteilla" Reverseds refer specifically to Fate. Let us recall the Neopythagorean concept of fate as spelled out in the Theology
, which I discussed in relation to Swords. It is a rational apprehension, frequently too late, of what is in store for one. While our fate may be deducible from the numbers,the problem is that we never seem to have all the numbers we need. So perhaps the putto is wise to hesitate before throwing in the last disc. Let us not tempt fate with the illusion of security, i.e. the box guarded by the lazy dog. Perhaps we should gamble our last disc, or invest it riskily, or hold it close to ourselves instead of putting it someplace that appears safer. On the other hand, perhaps our fears are groundless, and there is no place safer than the box.
Waite, I think less interestingly than the SB, merely emphasizes that part of the "Etteilla" Uprights relating to house and family. Smith's card does the same. Superficially it looks quite different from the SB, but if one sees the money-box as symbolizing a house and all that goes with it, there is a kind of connection between the two.
In Smith's arrangement of the discs, she is also giving us the points of the Kabbalah's Tree of Life. This configuration of course is not in the SB card, although the SB 10 of Cups comes closer. Kabbalah, it seems to me, is quite peripheral to the pips, except in the sense that the Kabbalah's ten sefiroth probably owe something in their conception to the Neopythagoreanism that was very much alive during its early years in the southeastern corner of the Mediterranean.
So let us turn to the SB Ten of Cups, which is also the last of the SB cards I am considering on this thread.
This card is rather similar to the Nine of Cups, but with a mature man's face instead of the young sea-god. The cups seem to be dancing around him. We may perhaps get a clue to its meaning from the "Etteilla."
ETTEILLA 10 OF CUPS: Town, City, Homeland, Country, Market Town, Village, Place, Site, Dwelling Place, House, Residence.—Citizen, Citizenry, Town Resident. REVERSED: Wrath, Indignation, Strife, Irritation, Rage, Anger, Violence.
A traditional suit meaning for Cups was the town--in contrast to Batons, which was the countryside. This can be seen in d Gebelin's and de Mellet's essays on the tarot of 1781. De Mellet says:
Les Carreaux [Il est à remarquer que dans l'Ecriture symbolique les Egyptiens traçoient des carreaux pour exprimer la campagne.], (les Bâtons), l'indifference & la campagne...Les coeurs & plus particulierement le dix, dévoilent les événemens qui doivent arriver à la ville. La coupe, symbole duc Sacerdoce, semble destinée à exprimer Memphis & le sejour des Pontifes.
Diamonds [note that in the symbolic writing system of the Egyptians diamond squares represent the countryside] (Batons) indifference & the countryside...The hearts & more particularly the Ten, reveal the events that must arrive at the city. The cups, symbol of the priesthood, seem intended to express Memphis & the stay of the Pontiffs. (Section V, at http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Recherch ... les_Tarots
So in this greatest of Cup cards, we have a townsman, perhaps a shopkeeper and his wares. The Reverseds perhaps indicate the hostility a shopkeeper can generate if his wares are deemed too expensive, or of poorer quality than is claimed for them. I will say more about these Reverseds a little later.
While the SB does not go so far, towns were also the place of large churches or temples, as de Mellet points out; hence there would be an association to the Church and its chalices of baptism and communion. There was also the association of Cups with the Hearts of regular cards, and so also with matters of the heart, i.e. love.
Smith's image, while having a feeling of love, departs considerably from the suit meaning of "town" used by the "Etteilla" Uprights and has nothing of the "Etteilla" Reverseds. However I have nothing to complain about from Waite's list, which seems to me to expand admirably upon the "Etteila."
WAITE 10 OF CUPS: Contentment, repose of the entire heart; the perfection of that state; also perfection of human love and friendship; if with several picture-cards, a person who is taking charge of the Querent’s interests; also the town, village or country inhabited by the Querent. Additional meanings: For a male Querent, a good marriage and one beyond his expectations. REVERSED: Repose of the false heart, indignation, violence. Additional Meanings: Sorrow; also a serious quarrel.
But it seems to me that the man in the center, the still center of all this activity, is not necessarily the "false heart" of Waite's description. It might be the cups themselves, now become the townspeople the man has served so long, who may prove false at any time, and even without provocation from him. For this last possibility, I am thinking of the man as possibly a Jew. I will expand on this point in a moment, but first I want to quote Di Vicenzo on this card (Sola-Busca Tarot
, pp. 52-53). She is worth hearing at length:
The number Ten represents fulfillment, the manifestation of the original unity after working out the first nine numbers, the totality of the universe, but also of man. It is the famous Pythagorean Tetraktys, in which the source and the root of the whole of nature is found. The Tetraktys forms a shape with ten points arranged on four planes (1+2+3+4=10)...
The card symbolically represents the achievement of individuality during the last phases of pregnancy. At the same time, it describes the moment in which the individual, perfectly mature and aware, gets ready to resume the road back to the bosom of divinity.
Significance: A face surrounded by ewers—deep reflection is required. Maturity, completeness, end of a cycle, or doubts, perplexity, well-grounded fears, perspicacity.
Additionally, Di Vincenzo again tries to relate the cups to the 10 sefiroth of the Kabbalah. They do not quite fit that configuration even here, but their layout is not that far out of line. And here the comparison is more appropriate, especially if the man is a Jew. Since Jews were generally forbidden to own land, they were the quintessential town-dwellers.
To me the face even suggests Jewishness. It invites comparison to that of King Solomon in one of Marco Zoppo's works. Solomon is conducting a test like that of the true and false mother; here the putative sons of a deceased man are commanded to shoot arrows at the body of their father. Only the true son, protesting at right in the detail below, refuses.
It may only be the beards on the left-hand figures that make me think this, all rather like Solomon's. But Jews were not the only one to wear beards in Renaissance Italy; Alfonso d'Este the duke-apparent of Ferrara, wore one, and also the Doge of Venice,(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agostino_Barbarigo
The conditions of Jews at that time may be relevant to the card. The numerous Jews in Ferrara had much the same rights as other citizens, and no forced labels on their clothing (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view. ... tter=F#288
). Yet there were occasional indignities--and special taxes to be paid. There was also the ranting of preachers, which Leonelo and Pope Nicholas V had combined to suppress. Ercole lifted the special taxes, as the Jewish Encyclopedia relates:
in 1473 Duke Ercole I. declared, probably in answer to the pope's request for their expulsion, that in the interest of the duchy he could not spare them, and that he would therefore relieve them not only from all special burdens, but also from the payment of the sums formerly extorted as taxes by papal legates.
But the situation could change at any time--and did, after Ercole.
The situation in nearby Venice was much worse; there were occasional forced baptisms, and in 1480, the killing of three in a "blood libel" case (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jso ... enice.html
). They could not build synagogues and had to wear yellow badges, yellow considered the most demeaning color, as that associated with prostitutes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_ghettos_in_Europe
The moral: those who welcomed one, and whom one benefited, could also turn against one. The "false heart" in the "Etteilla" Reverseds, in other words, may be the cups themselves, representing the townspeople he has served so long.