Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#51
Hi Jim, you certainly had me thinking and then a hornet appeared so I had to go get some repellent, which upon the label said......
let everyman go about without fear, and let everyman sow, while this lady rules the land, for she has taken power from all the guilty.....
Now you ask for a discussion between the users of cards as in readings and Tarot Historians to see what the originators saw and what readers see today. For me (not that I am a Historian)it is what the image brings up in my mind to answer a question.
It is not just about Virtue. It is also a defined area of 78 cards. It is somewhat like a rosary that keeps your mind focussed upon an area or steps in Catholic spiritual devotion called the 'Stations of the Cross' This is the same as an illuminated Breviary or prayer book for example or a text book for embroidery for that matter. I used to do this with 'Holy pictures' as a child....as a guide book for what to do and what not to do in any given area that was troubling me. I no longer question why it works as a spiritual exercise or a prediction sequence. Maybe it does because there are only so many human conditions, and it is the human condition to ask of ourselves what is the right thing to do. This 'reading' of cards does not exclude me from Tarot History as an investigation into the facts of the origins of the game. I see a realtionship as debra said earlier.
having said that...I have had some bizarre ideas for the origins over the years and as I have said before- I have no reputation to lose in this area- so on I work and read and sometimes blunder...and the generousity of posters in most cases lift me up and point me in the right direction. It is a fascination and absorbing one at that- this Tarot.
Now you said this..
My sense is that there is a general ignorance about the virtue ethic as a spiritual discipline (this understanding of classical philosophies was certainly news to me). So contemporary people in search of workable spiritual tradition misread the traces of the once common and very workable virtue ethic as emerging from something more exotic and hidden.
I do not think this is correct. I have shown cards to many different people over the world and what they see is remarkedly similiar- even though I always say it is a game. I have a set that has no numbers and titles and I ask them to put the cards in some sort of order and within a small variety it comes out as we have it now. So there is a universality about the images and an order that people instinctivly understand.El stupido at the beginning and Wisdom at the end. So I am picking that is what was the intention at the beginning.
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#52
Lorredan wrote:
My sense is that there is a general ignorance about the virtue ethic ...
I do not think this is correct. I have shown cards to many different people over the world and what they see is remarkedly similiar- even though I always say it is a game. I have a set that has no numbers and titles and I ask them to put the cards in some sort of order and within a small variety it comes out as we have it now. So there is a universality about the images and an order that people instinctivly understand.El stupido at the beginning and Wisdom at the end. So I am picking that is what was the intention at the beginning.
~Lorredan
The virtue ethic may be more known among observant Catholics than elsewhere. Hadot trained under Jacques Maritain, and Alisdair McIntyre, who begins "After Virtue," with a post apocalyptic take on how contemporary philosophers understand ethics, teaches at Notre Dame. I was referencing McIntyre's ideas when I said the virtue ethic is fairly unknown.

Your observation on how people spontaneously order an unnumbered/unlabeled deck is potentially very important; since it would indicate there to be some sort of Levi-Strauss-like deep cultural structure underlying the current order. Recording these ordering activities and orders would make for an interesting data-set.

My sense from perusing the Aeclectic tarot fora is that the members are not all that interested in the tarot as a theurgical instrument, i.e. as a way to invoke the sympathetic corresponding vibrations of the universe. The symbols are treated more as entries into a collective unconscious or a Levi-Straussian deep structure. For this purpose, hermetic correspondence symbolism would not be as useful as images with deep cultural and historical roots; that is, "exoteric" decks may work better than the "esoteric" ones for accessing these levels.

However, when you use the cards for meditation, rather than read them as a story, any sort of preestablished meaning may be more hindrance than help. In that case, the history of the cards is not relevant to the practice.

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#53
I do not think you have seen the number of people that read the Thoth Forum on AT- like here who read and never post.
I personally know several people who use white magic within Tarot practice, and considering how small the tarot world is- that could well be considered good data.
We stray away from the thread title neverthess.
I have questions from your other thread.
Were you or are you suggesting that wrong information (via the Egyptian Horapolo) whose's manuscript got into Florence in 1422, somehow infused early Tarot?
Then that infusion was recognised some 350 years later by occultists?
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#54
No, I meant Athanasius Kircher used Horapollo as a source for the hieroglyphic inscriptions he analyses.

The process of remembering the allegory and forgetting the basic meaning has a long and noble history, especially in Alexandria. Just think of the passage of the term Logos from Septuagint via Philo and John the Evangalist to the post-Jewish Christians in the 2nd Century.

Look closely at every tradition, and instead of an unbroken chain of discipleship, you will find a series of hiatuses, after which a rediscoverer or reviver make some sort of sense of texts and other remains he or she can only understand in part. This revival is always described as a perfectly faithful resurfacing of a hidden, continuous tradition, but often contains all sorts of new elements. By selecting the tarot, the revivers of occultism hit on something from a different and somewhat adjacent tradition.

Meric Casaubon, a philogist of distinction, exposed the Hermetic corpus as a 2nd century CE fake. But he thought its authors were Alexandrian Christians rather than Neoplatonists or Gnostics from the same city. The 19th century Tarot revivers make the opposite mistake, and confuse Renaissance Christian iconography with Renaissance Neoplatonic symbolism. It's not that much of a howler, and very much in the best Alexandrian tradition of the imaginative reconstructions of ancient traditions.

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#55
Jim, your references to Hadot in relation to the virtue tradition interested me. I respect what I've read by him. Can you give a reference? And yes, the virtue tradition in ethics was not well respected in British-American philosophy, and I think German philosophy, from the Enlightenment on, until Macintyre's work, which I know was making a significant impact in the US at at the beginning of the 1990s; I have been out of touch since then. I don't know if the occultists were versed in British-American philosophy.

Looking in Waite, I don't find anything as blatant as Payne-Towler's statement. He seems fairly vague, pleading that there isn't enough information, and all he has is hunches, which he doesn't elaborate. But I don't know much about Waite.

Just to be clear, Ross: I wasn't giving Christine of 1999 the benefit of the doubt. To be sure, everything I've read by her is riddled with errors. I give her the benefit of the doubt only in that I don't know what she thinks as of July 2012. I was using her 1999 book as an example of the occultism that Jim was talking about.

For myself, my current hypothesis is that the tarot began as a synthesis of Petrarchan Triumphs with the seven virtues, then a Giotto-style psychomachia, the triumph of Christian/Classical virtue over vice, and wisdom over ignorance, as I explained in the thread on Petrarch and Giotto. However the beginnings of a Neoplatonist and Kabbalist interpretation of some of the cards was possible as of the 1470s-1480s. It's not something I can prove; it's a hypothesis. I don't think I'm making an extraordinary claim; I'm just saying that the requisite literature and thinking was around by then, starting with Filelfo and Ficino (for Neoplatonism and the "perennial theology"), through Pico (1486), Ricci (1515) and Reuchlin (1517) (for Kaballah), and that it is not hard to fit that thinking in with one or another of the trump sequence. Andrea Vitali has examples in his essays, especially on the Moon card. By "Neoplatonist" I mean the mythopoetic material of Plutarch, Apuleius, and the Corpus Hermeticum (technically, all Middle Platonism) and the Orphica and Chaldean Oracles (also Middle Platonist) as embedded in Proclus and other Neoplatonists, some of it via Plethon, and by extension the same analysis applied to Greek myths discussed by Cicero, Diodorus, and Pausanias. This is in contrast to the medieval tradition of the "Moralized Fulgentius," etc. It is something the literati could have had fun playing with, in Italy and then in France and elsewhere.

Neopythagoreanism is something that I think relates only to the number cards at that date, starting with the Sola-Busca. Since I've elaborated that hypothesis in the thread "Deciphering the Sola-Busca Pips" I won't belabor it here.

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#56
mikeh wrote:For myself, my current hypothesis is that the tarot began as a synthesis of Petrarchan Triumphs with the seven virtues, then a Giotto-style psychomachia, the triumph of Christian/Classical virtue over vice, and wisdom over ignorance, as I explained in the thread on Petrarch and Giotto. However a Neoplatonist, and the beginnings of a Kabbalist, interpretation of the cards were possible as of the 1470s-1480s. It's not something I can prove; it's a hypothesis. I don't think I'm making an extraordinary claim; I'm just saying that the requisite literature and thinking was around by then, starting with Filelfo and Ficino (for Neoplatonism and the "perennial theology"), through Pico (1486), Ricci (1515) and Reuchlin (1517) (for Kaballah), and that it is not hard to fit that thinking in with the trump sequence. It is something the literati could have had fun playing with, in Italy and then in France and elsewhere.
Wow! :-o That originator was sure running around collecting influences.
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#57
In terms of the subject of this thread, there is not enough evidence to settle the question of whether the first Triumph deck was a painted luxury item or a mass-produced printed item (by "mass produced" I mean by the score, not the thousands; also understand that color was applied by hand, not stencil, afterwards).

As far as I can tell, the consensus of experts leans towards the game being invented in the Visconti court, thus in "Milan" in the territorial sense (i.e. it is unimportant whether it is the city of Milan, or Pavia, or Cremona, or Abbiategrasso, or wherever, as long as it is understood to be a courtly, and limited, invention). As the game became popular among courtiers and outsiders, mass production was needed, which led to a printed version. The primary evidence for this position is the priority of the Visconti cards. Other evidence sometimes cited is the Marziano-Michelino deck (which is circumstantial evidence that might suggest an interest in novel card games in the court), and the symmetry of the virtues in the Tarot de Marseille order of the cards, when the Tarot de Marseille design is held to have come from Milan.

I favor the theory where a printed version comes first, and establishes the standard subjects for luxury versions (whatever other variations custom-made decks might make). This happened in Florence, or possibly Bologna. The evidence I cite for this position is Marchione Burdochio's non-luxury deck (he was a Bolognese mercer or silk-merchant) already in 1442, which, being 8 times cheaper than a commissioned deck, was therefore printed. I also note the varying qualities of cards already available for retail sale already in the 1440s. I take the absence of evidence of luxury cards from Bologna to be evidence that the game played there was always of the printed popular variety (and the absence of surviving early cards altotgether is just reflective of the ephemerality and disposability of playing cards, equally for triumphs and regular playing cards). Another argument I make is based on the chronology, which I argue from the plotting of the evidence was no earlier than 1437, which leaves too little time for a luxury courtly game invented in Milan to have turned into a printed retail commodity in Florence or Bologna by 1442.

The uniformity of the standard subjects in the surviving luxury sets, whether from Milan, Florence, or elsewhere, works for either theory. This uniformity does establish, however, that the standard subjects were settled early. The extent of the game's diffusion by 1453 (Rome), which was then subject only to cosmetic changes, suggests to me that the standard subjects of the trumps were the original design. An overlooked fact is that the Queen is always included in Triumph decks, while standard Italian cards subsequently drop her (a witness of Florence 1424 shows that at that time the four court cards were the normal or standard kind of deck (no trumps yet)).
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Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#58
Well Ross- that is a printable post and the clearest explanation I have read.
I agree with your favoured view of printed first and painted next, my reasons not erudite and rely on the missing Tower and Devil in the hand painted cards.
It seems easier to have removed these images, than to have added them into the sequence in their on- going stable position. I can surmise (without proof) that to add these two images in particular seems very strange- whereas to remove them seems understandable.
Would a Court want Tyranny in their mostly optimistic set?
So thank you.
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#59
Jim - I have rudely forgotten to thank you for reminding me to buy Origins of European Printmaking. It was on my list a few years ago but somehow got missed (Thierry Depaulis had recommended it too).

For such a large and lavishly illustrated book, it was only 40 euros new, so - in addition to its being the most important single reference for the subject in English in the last decade - it is both a steal and an indulgence.

Now I have only to get Wilhelm Ludwig Schreiber, Handbuch der Holz und Metallschnitte des XV Jahrhunderts, and I'll have most of the essential references for printed images from the 15th century. That 8 volume set will NOT be a steal, but I'm saving up for it.
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Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#60
Lorredan wrote:Well Ross- that is a printable post and the clearest explanation I have read.
I agree with your favoured view of printed first and painted next, my reasons not erudite and rely on the missing Tower and Devil in the hand painted cards.
It seems easier to have removed these images, than to have added them into the sequence in their on- going stable position. I can surmise (without proof) that to add these two images in particular seems very strange- whereas to remove them seems understandable.
Would a Court want Tyranny in their mostly optimistic set?
So thank you.
~Lorredan
That's not a bad argument, Lorredan. It has some merit.

Note, however, that the Tower is actually present in the "Charles VI" set. The numbering is not clear, but it should be "xv" (it doesn't have the descending "j" that it would have if it were 16 - xvj), while the Moon, Sun, World and Angel are numbered "xvij", "xviij", "xviiij", and "xx" respectively, and the Hanged Man is numbered "xij"; Death's number is not visible, but should be "xiij". Therefore, there is only one space left, namely "xiiij", which should be the Devil or a replacement card. All we can say is that something was there between Death and the Tower, so we should suspect it was the Devil.

But I agree with the logic that it is easier to remove cards rather than to add them, especially the Devil card. Shortening the series, usually the pips, but sometimes the trumps, is more common than adding cards to it. Minchiate is the outstanding exception to this.

I also want to reiterate the importance of the insight that the presence of the Queen in Tarocchi decks illustrates the conservatism of Tarot players. When all other Italian decks only have 3 court cards, Tarocchi in all its forms preserves her. And this is AFTER the evidence that the four-court-card deck, without triumphs, existed first.
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