Tarot card alignment and symbols

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Tarot card alignment and symbols

Postby sprouts1115 on 01 Dec 2012, 17:03

You can see the first deck I wish to make at http://texasplayingcards.com It has 16X4 suits for 64 cards. The second deck I want to make has 16x9 for 144 cards. The rank for the 2nd deck goes as followed (K)ing 15, (Q)ueen 14, (B)ishop 13, (C)avalier 12, (J)ack 11, (T)ower 10, (9), (8), (7), (6), (5), (4), (3), (2), (A)ce, (?) Joker.

Just curious, if you had too, what alignment would you put the tarot cards in and what are the old symbols used within them?

what are alinements? cliffsnotes version: http://www.duelinganalogs.com/image/xbo ... ent-chart/

Wikipedia is awesome and needs donations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alignment_(Dungeons_%26_Dragons)

Lawful Good:
Neutral Good:
Chaotic Good:
Lawful Neutral:
True Neutral:
Chaotic Neutral:
Lawful Evil:
Neutral Evil:
Chaotic Evil:


The 4 old tarot decks to find the symbols are in:
Visconti-Sforza, Visconti, Cary-Yale Visconti, Rider-Waite

http://www.albideuter.de - neat website, but it's in german. just hit 0 - Narr (Right - Center)

list of trionfi: http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Sermones ... _Cum_Aliis:

old symbols

Magician--- : merchant with a sword, wand, coins, cup on a table
Empress --- : woman with a crown, scepter, and shield / eagle on the shield
Emperor --- : old man with a scepter and an orb / crown displays an eagle
Popess ---- : woman with 3 crowns holding a cross and a book / looks to be pregnant
Pope ------ : man with 3 crowns and a cross / giving a blessing
Temperance : female pouring water from 1 cup to another /
Lovers ---- : man and a woman with cupid / cupid is blindfolded
Chariot --- : female with a scepter and an orb with 2 white horses /
Fortitude -- : man and loin attacking something / woman sitting on lion holding its jaws open
Wheel ----- : I reign, I reigned, I am without kingdom / woman blindfolded spinning the wheel
Hermit ---- : old man with a walking stick and an hour glass /
Hanged man : man hung by 1 foot /
Death ----- : skeleton with a bow / skeleton riding a horse with a sickle
Devil ------ : horned devil with a man and woman chained to his throne /
Tower ----- : a tower destroyed by the sun with a man and woman falling /
Star ------- : a star above a woman pouring 2 cups of water into water /
Moon ----- : woman, broken bow, moon / 2 towers, 2 dogs, crayfish, moon
Sun ------- : young male with a white horse holding the sun /
Jugement -- : angle blowing a horn, people rise from the dead /
Justice ---- : female with a crown, scales and a sword /
World ----- : 2 angles holding the world / woman holding 2 wands
Fool ------ : a begger with white feathers in his hair holding a stick / holding a bindle, walking stick, white dog attacks
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Re: Tarot card alignment and symbols

Postby sprouts1115 on 02 Dec 2012, 17:33

try some low hanging fruit.


i'm thinking "The Lovers" should be chaotic good. http://www.albideuter.de/html/liebende.html
with cupid there is a choice of falling in love or not; so therefore chaotic. and of course love is always good. right?
if you look the early tarot cards, you had 1 man, 1 woman, and cupid. later on it changed to 1 man, 2 woman, and cupid. to me, the 2 woman also symbolize a choice.

i'm thinking "The Hermit" should be true neutral. i try not to look deep into the meaning of the tarot, but try to look at the symbols. from what i've read the hermit stands alone. so, neutral. and he is always seeking inner knowledge. thats not lawful or chaotic.

im thinking "The Devil" should be lawful evil. it seems the chains symbolize bondage or control. so, therefore; lawful and the devil is basically negative so he is evil.

what do you think? with your understanding of the meaning and symbols. i'm looking for some criticism.
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Re: Tarot card alignment and symbols

Postby sprouts1115 on 16 Sep 2013, 00:27

I'm thinking about a second deck I want to make. The values are as followed: (K)ing 15, (Q)ueen 14, (B)ishop 13, (C)aviler 12, (J)ack 11, (T)ower 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, (A)ce 1, and Joker. I'm going to give the joker the same rack as the Fool in the Tarot. He has no rank, but is part of a suit. So that's 16 cards in a suit for a total of 64 cards.

Some of this is based on this thread: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=788

I did worry about the Jack. It's the last major change with today's cards (1864 Samuel Heart). Before that, It was also known as the Knave and vaguely known as a squire, prince, deputy sheriff, Pawn or foot solider...any thoughts? or is this way out there...
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Re: Tarot card alignment and symbols

Postby Huck on 16 Sep 2013, 05:53

sprouts1115 wrote:I'm thinking about a second deck I want to make. The values are as followed: (K)ing 15, (Q)ueen 14, (B)ishop 13, (C)aviler 12, (J)ack 11, (T)ower 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, (A)ce 1, and Joker. I'm going to give the joker the same rack as the Fool in the Tarot. He has no rank, but is part of a suit. So that's 16 cards in a suit for a total of 64 cards.

Some of this is based on this thread: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=788

I did worry about the Jack. It's the last major change with today's cards (1864 Samuel Heart). Before that, It was also known as the Knave and vaguely known as a squire, prince, deputy sheriff, Pawn or foot solider...any thoughts? or is this way out there...


... :-) ... interesting idea.

You're suggestion is near to that, what Johannes of Rheinfelden described in 1377.

He had King for 15, Queen for 14 and 3 other courts for 11-13 (Ober + Unter as Marshals and a Maid), the numbers 1-10 for the 1-10, and these were filled with persons presenting professions. The deck had 4x15 structure, 60 cards.

I personally assume, that this deck type (well, a luxury deck) developed in Bohemia at the court of emperor Charles IV.

About 80 years later, c. 1455, a deck was made for the Bohemian king Ladislaus posthumus, a rather young man.

This had a 4x12-structure. Kings + Queens were not numbered, 1-10 were again "persons with professions", the professions called "Hofämter".
However, for 4 of the numbers, the designer used used 4x the same "professsion".

10 ... all are Hofmeister
9 ... all are Marschall
6 ... all are Junckfrauwe (maids)
1 ... all are Fools

These number cards (although "number cards") seem to have presented (as a second function) further court cards.

The deck survived, it's known as the Hofämterspiel.

I personally think, that Bohemia knew playing cards, before they arrived in the European main stream. A researcher Hübsch (in c. 1850), who wrote about early Bohemian trade, spoke of playing cards in Bohemia in c. 1340. A confirmation for this is missing, but Prague (place of the Emperor) had a good position for imports from the East. The distance to the "Goldene Horde" in the region of Kiew to Prague is less than the distance between Prague and Rome.
Generally it's plausible, that playing cards came with the Mongols from China. The major researcher thesis sees a transmission to Europe via the Egyptian Mameluks, based on the idea, that Mameluk cards seem to have had that, what is called "Latin suits" (swords, batons, coins etc.).
However, John of Rheinfelden does not speak of Latin suits, and the connected Germany hadn't Latin suits. If the cards came via Bohemia, the Mameluks weren't necessary for the transmission.
It's more logical to believe of two or more trading ways, by which playing cards entered Europe.
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Re: Tarot card alignment and symbols

Postby Ross G. R. Caldwell on 16 Sep 2013, 06:53

Huck wrote:
I personally think, that Bohemia knew playing cards, before they arrived in the European main stream. A researcher Hübsch (in c. 1850), who wrote about early Bohemian trade, spoke of playing cards in Bohemia in c. 1340. A confirmation for this is missing, but Prague (place of the Emperor) had a good position for imports from the East. The distance to the "Goldene Horde" in the region of Kiew to Prague is less than the distance between Prague and Rome.
Generally it's plausible, that playing cards came with the Mongols from China. The major researcher thesis sees a transmission to Europe via the Egyptian Mameluks, based on the idea, that Mameluk cards seem to have had that, what is called "Latin suits" (swords, batons, coins etc.).
However, John of Rheinfelden does not speak of Latin suits, and the connected Germany hadn't Latin suits. If the cards came via Bohemia, the Mameluks weren't necessary for the transmission.
It's more logical to believe of two or more trading ways, by which playing cards entered Europe.


It seems possible, but it is more difficult than just because the Latin suits so closely resemble the Mamluk suits.

First, we have no Mongol cards from that time to compare.

Second, nothing in John of Rheinfelden or surviving Germanic cards resembles Asian card suits. Acorns and Bells and Shields and Flowers and Hearts etc. resemble Chinese suits far less than the Mamluk ones, which contain at least the Polo Stick which looks like the string of coins, and the Coin suit, and the "Tuman" symbol for 10,000, which looks like a cup turned upside down.

Third, if Mongol cards resembled Chinese cards, then these are also very small and do not often have four suits. They also don't have a set of "court cards" for each suit. The Chinese cards don't suggest a court, so it would be very coincidental that Germans and Italians and Spanish around the same time invented a deck with four suits and the same kind of "court", with a King, an "upper" (soldier) or a knight, and a "lower" (soldier), or a valet, and sometimes a Queen. It is easier to think that one of these places invented the King, Knight and Valet, and then the Queen, and that the others copied them.

So the single origin theory is more parsimonious and therefore preferable, despite the variety of different suits (not only in Germany). I think it will take more than an uncorroborated 19th century claim, which could very easily be wrong, to make the theory of a separate origin for German cards viable (Ingold's "1300" is also worthless on its own).
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Re: Tarot card alignment and symbols

Postby mikeh on 16 Sep 2013, 08:48

I think your idea of a separate source for cards into North-Central Europe is very much worth pursuing, Huck. It might relate to another question I have. On another thread (viewtopic.php?f=12&t=971#p14134), reviewing Decker's ideas for how cards entered Europe (the standard one), I wrote, after my evaluation of Decker:
On Wikipedia, I see a description of a Moghul deck of 8 suits with 12 cards each at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganjifa; but nothing else is said about it. Wikipeida gives a link to Ambraser Hofjagdspiel and Hofamterspiel, but I find nothing about either in the "Ganjifa" article, or anything about Ganjifa or Moghuls in the other articles. Perhaps Huck or someone else knows a connection, other than that these games, too, have 12 cards per suit (in 4 suits)

Why is there a link to Ambraser Hofjagdspiel and Hofamterspiel in an article about Ganjifa? I am very puzzled.

Added a little later: Also, Decker thinks that the Chinese suits derived from the Central Asian or Persian. First, he agrees with Dummett (Game of Tarot p. 64) that the 4 suit deck developed somewhere along the Silk Road. In Persia they might have had 3 suits.Then (p. 51):
If we hypothesize a Central Asian origin, we can say that as cards migrated to Persia they gained suits; as cards migrated to Egypt they gained a court card (still more in Europe).
The 4-suit pack apparently migrated to China, too. There, the Coins must have inspired the Chinese Money decks...

i.e. with the suits of Cash, Strings of Coins, etc. He hypothesizes that Strings of Coins are the Chinese adaptation of the suit of Sticks. Previously, all the Chinese had were domino cards, with each card identified as "military" or "civilian". "This appears to be the earliest concept of suits, although they had no suit signs" (p. 45).
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Re: Tarot card alignment and symbols

Postby mikeh on 16 Sep 2013, 20:04

One more thing, Huck: forget parsimony, as I'm sure you will. Human beings aren't parsimonious. That is especially true in the marketplace. Although we don't have Persian/Central Asian cards, that didn't stop Dummett from speculating about them (Game of Tarot, pp. 63-64), justifiably so, and even preferring ("more plausible" is his words) such speculation to the simpler theory that the four suits with suit-signs were invented in China and just moved westward via the Mamaluks to Europe. Unfortunately I don't have time at the moment to type out that paragraph in Game of Tarot.
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Dummet on the origin of suits

Postby mikeh on 17 Sep 2013, 00:39

Here are scans of the relevant paragraph in Dummett, Game of Tarot pp. 63-64.

[Added later: But first you need to know some things, from Decker's previous paragraph. By "two suits artificially imposed" in the passage below, he means the "military" and "civilian"; they are just regular dominos, with no suit signs, which for one particular game were assigned by convention to one of these two groups, which are of unequal size. What Dummett sees as important for the origin of suits is this particular known Chinese game, dating back at least to the 12th century, called T'ien Chiu, "Heaven and Nine". It is a trick-taking game in which the trick is won by the highest domino in the suit led, and then the next trick is led by the winner of that trick, with no other restrictions. Dummett says that the second of these points is characteristic of European trick-taking games, too, and not at all of Indian ones. The paragraph below then follows.]

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At that point Chapter 3 ends. You will notice that Decker has no qualms about speculatively positing a deck in a general area in a general time-frame about which nothing is known except that it has the characteristics he needs, that of having cards with suit-signs, used to signify suits in a variety of trick-taking games. He does have qualms about something else, asserting that the idea of trick-taking games arose independently in two disparate places at around the same time, without further evidence.There is no appeal to parsimony; it's just "more probable" that it didn't happen that way, given the available facts (detailed throughout the chapter). At least that's how I read him. That's not the same thing as positing two separate routes to two different parts of Europe of an invention already made, among people who trade among each other (i.e. on the Silk Road), mostly of the same religion (Islam). That is a much less iffy proposition. And Huck did have a good reason for making this proposal, an 1850 book and the lack of Latin suits in Germany. Perhaps more will be found.

My apologies to Sprouts, This is not quite the subject you wanted to talk about. But it was raised in relation to your subject, so here we are.

Note: I added my summary of the material in Decker's previous paragraph, and my comments afterwards, a few hours after my posting of the scans. That other material was not mentioned by Decker (nor by Huson, who argues for the Persian origin of the four Malemuk suits). I didn't realize the importance of that other paragraph until I re-read it. I won't be able to offer you a scan of it for a while, due to lack of time. I assume someone has the book.
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Re: Tarot card alignment and symbols

Postby Huck on 17 Sep 2013, 20:02

Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:First, we have no Mongol cards from that time to compare.


John Meador once offered links to interesting picture collections, not really playing cards. Very early pictures.
http://tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t= ... ight=tibet

Another point ... I once learned, that Persia in 13th century - more or less ruled by Mongols then - was able to produce a sort of woodcut books. It appeared in a life description of a Persian scholar, I didn't collect the link and didn't research it further. I found it just astonishing.

And likely there had been an excellent Mongolian chess culture. Tamerlane - with some Mongolian roots - had been famous for his chess attraction.
If China had playing cards, the Mongols should have had them also. The Mongols had own sorts of chess, and likely they had own cards, too.

mikeh wrote:I think your idea of a separate source for cards into North-Central Europe is very much worth pursuing, Huck.


Well, by own research I found in Hübsch's global (not specific) references twice the story of 3 card players, which were killed by a thunderstroke. The surrounding of the text passage is not very valid, it looks like a fabulous story.
However, the location is Brieg, a city on the trading way between Prague - Breslau - (Brieg) .... Kiew. In Poland, at least nowadays, and Hübsch had noted, that Polish nobility played with cards already before 1340.

Time: 1303 ... just in this year an important male (boy or "young man") was send from Brieg to Prague to become son-in-law of the current Bohemian king.

Another finding was given by chess author van der Linde, the master of the Deutscher Ritter Orden had prohibited card playing (he had this function from 1324-30). This note is also not sure, I saw the suspicion expressed, that the whole source had been a 15th-century forgery.

All this is not sure, as Master Ingold's opinion (playing cards came 1300 to Germany) is not sure.

Sure is, that John of Rheinfelden already observed a great variety of playing cards, but also states, that he doesn't know, where the cards came from.
Some logic demands to assume "somewhere" a longer playing card development before.

Now Prague was then a place, where artists were nor rare (everybody agrees on this). So a good place for a creatie production island.
Further we have two big Emperor events in 1376 (crowning of son Wenzel as Roman king in Aachen) and 1377 (a second journey to Aachen and Paris). A splendid opportunity to export novelties in the region of Prague (and possibly further in the East) to the rest of Germany.
The astonishing situation, that playing cards had been (possibly) before in Prague already a longer time, but ddn't find their way to other locations, might be explained by the general situation of the repeating plagues, which stopped traffic and trade in many aspects.

The curious document in Bern (published by Kaplan with a picture) about a card playing prohibition as early as 1367
(much earlier than all the other documents) might be explained by the presence of the Emperor in Bern two years before during his journey to Arles.

Whatever the early facts, we have the curious condition, that otherwise documented playing card production started late in Bohemia and also in Poland. For Bohemia one might assume, that the following wars with the Hussites broke down earlier "German nobility traditions". For Poland we have possibly other similar prohibitive reasons, why an early "nobility hobby" didn't proceed to an early constant market.
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Re: Tarot card alignment and symbols

Postby sprouts1115 on 20 Sep 2013, 02:55

Man you guys go off in different directions. Found a neat article. http://www.wopc.co.uk/tarot/rider-waite/

"and the sequence of the majors has been altered from the standard Marseille pattern by switching Justice and Strength." I always wondered why he did that. It's there a thread that explains that?

The Jokers in the 1st deck kind of represent what I want to do in the 2nd and 3rd deck...more realism with swords, armor, shields, alignment expressions, oh my...
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