Decker's new book

#1
PART 1: ON HERMETISM, ORIGIN AND SYMBOLISM OF THE SUITS, AND ORIGIN OF THE TAROT

I have commented on Decker's new book The Esoteric Tarot already in a few other threads. However I think there should be a thread devoted to the book as such, because it is rich in ideas--richer, in fact, in ideas than in arguments or documentation. So there is fertile ground for the rest of us to look at them (the ideas in relation to arguments and documentation). I open this thread in the Unicorn Terrace because one of the main themes of the book is a particular theory about the original tarot sequence.

The Introduction introduces the idea that the trump sequence is composed of "hieroglyphs" in the Renaissance sense of pictures with meanings known only to qualified interpreters. In a way they are like statements in the Bible, which were interpretable on four levels. He illustrates the general point with two cards, the first, which he calls the Juggler, and the last, the World, with reference to an illustration by Hans Holbein, so that the Juggler comes out to be the Good Demon of late classical thought, and the World comes out to be Good Fortune in some of its later manifestations, but originally, he maintains with the help of a text by Apuleius, Isis. I have discussed these ideas already (at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=937&start=40#p14102, viewtopic.php?f=11&t=937&start=40#p14112 and viewtopic.php?f=11&t=937&start=40#p14127), so I will skip them here. (Please don't think I agree with them, at least as regards the "original tarot". I have no opinion on that, until I have thoroughly assessed Decker's argument, meaning the first seven chapters of his book.)

The cards are thus for Decker allegories "culminating in the triumph of Isis" (p. 17). His thesis is that the cards originally were designed by someone knowledgeable about Greco-Roman writers enchanted by Egypt (p. 17):
I will again cite Apuleius, as well as other Roman authors, notably Manilius, Nicomachus of Gerasa, Lactantius, Macrobius, and Martianus Capella. They were not from Egypt, but some were enchanted by Egyptian lore. Most were Platonists. All were highly regarded by Renaissance intellectuals. The trump cards unexpectedly illustrate rare ideas from rare manuscripts and therefore are difficult to identify at a glance. This partially explains why the trumps have avoided easy analysis.
And, after discussing Christian elements in the Devil card:
Other Christian concepts and cliches re prominent in the trumps. I conclude that their cretors were Christian Platonists (possibly Hermetists) with an interest in Egyptian Platonism (essentially Hermetism).
He also speaks of the original tarot (p. 19):
Records suggest that the first Tarot (ca. 1440) had only 14 trumps. By about 1465, the deck had expanded to the 22 standard allegories. Possibly the total was contrived to accommodate the number held sacred by the Jews. No deeper cabalism necessarily informed individual trumps.
The Introduction is provocative, probably intentionally so; for the answers to one's questions, one must keep reading. In this post I will discuss Part One, "Theory: Hermetism and the Standard Tarot".

Both the Introduction and Chapter One talk about Thoth, mentioned in Plato's Phaedrus, 274B, a text he says (p. 9) was available in Italy from 1423 (he cites Michael J. B. Allen, Marsilio Ficino and the Phaedran Charioteer, p. 5). Plato was supposed to have studied in Egypt (p. 27):
According to Clement of Alexandria, Plato was the pupil of Sechnphis of On [footnote 1: Stomata, I, 15, 69], Plutarch names Sechuphis of On as one of Plato's Egyptian tutors [footnote 2: On the Daimon of Socrates, 578].

From Plato the Corpus Hermeticum combined Egyptian religion with Greek mythology and philosophy. The Corpus arrived in Italy in the 1460s, he says, p. 29 (actually, 1460 precisely, per Wikipedia), too late to have influenced the tarot. However Latin intermediaries were enough to have influenced the imagery and order of the original trumps. He gives a brief survey of these: Cicero, Manilius, Apuleius, Tertullian, Cyprian, the Latin Aesclepius, Lactantius, Julius Firmicus Maternus, Ammianus, Augustine. He also mentions the Greeks Clement of Alexandria, Plotinus, and finally "Horapollo", author of the Hieroglyphica. He does not document that all of these authors were known in early 15th century Italy, but I have checked and all were except possibly Clement, for whom there is no evidence until Ficino's time (http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?p=2457172),

Chapter Two discusses the evolution of the suit cards. He says that they evolved from dice via domino cards, 21 of them for each combination of two dice, which the Chinese duplicated and reduplicated to make decks of cards, but without suits. The next deck known is that of the Moguls, which the Muslims introduced from Persia into India; it had 8 suits of 10 number cards plus 2 courts. Decks also went west to the Mamelukes in Egypt, probably after the lifting of a papal embargo on Muslim goods in 1344; at that time the Mamelukes were favored by Italian shippers (p. 50). Their deck had 4 suits with 3 courts (p. 46f). My only query is about decks in Europe elsewhere, e.g. Marseille, Barcelona, and especially Spain, where Muslims still controlled the South, and many Muslims lived in Christian territory.

Now Decker advances a theory about hidden astrological significances in ordinary cards, starting with the Mogul suits, which he hypothesize happened when the 8 suits reached the city of Harran, which retained its worship of the Greco-Roman gods and something of Hermetism (p. 52). Decker assumes they had the Corpus Hermeticum; but his source only refers to "Hermetic magical practices". Decker says that in Hermetism Thoth was associated with the Moon, as opposed to Selene, Diana, or some other female goddess. In Copenhaver, I see that association only in the notes, as a fact about the historical Thoth in Egypt and not something in the Hermetica. I find no reference to Thoth in the tractates themselves; there is the easily confused pupil "Tat", but he is hardly the god himself. I have looked in the ancient secondary sources as well , but of course not everything.

The 8 suits were each given one of the planets, plus the "Part of Fortune", which in astrology had to do with material fortune, Decker theorizes. His argument is to compare the colors of the Mogul suits with those associated with these entities in writings about the temples of the gods in Harran (p. 58); he finds a close match and thus identifies each of the eight with the corresponding astrological entity (p. 56). Somehow the suits were reduced to four, those planetary entities associated with fire and water, which are the first elements created in the Hermetic creation myth. He gives no reference, but it is easy to find on p. 2 of Copenhaver's Hermetica.

Thoth, the ibis-headed inventor of writing according to Plato and shown in images as a scribe or architect with a writing or measuring stick, became in Europe the deity associated with Batons, Decker says. He poses the Picatrix as an intermediary here: one of its talismans bears the image of ibis-headed Thoth with his measuring stick, although the depiction has been reduced to "a man with the head of a bird leaning on a cane" (p. 55). As I discussed at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=937&start=40#p14102, I found an additional reference, more accessible than the Picatrix: in the The Marriage of Mercury and Philology, a divination-related ibis is shown with a staff.

The other astrological associations, he theorizes, were the Sun for Coins, Venus for Cups, and Mars for Swords (p. 62). So there are two fire signs and two water signs.

How would the Europeans have managed to learn the astrological symbolism? Decker says that the Mamelukes retained the symbolism in their suit cards. The polo sticks, corresponding to Batons, appear between two crescent moons (p. 58); also the sticks sometimes end in dragons. In astrology the head of the dragon and the tail of the dragon are two "nodes" of the moon (p. 59). In the case of Cups, Venus is a water sign, and in the Mamlukedeck in the Topkapi museum, ducks are associated with Cups. Also the suit of Harps in the Mogul deck are green, which is the tint of copper when it tarnishes, the metal of Venus; musical instruments and cups are associated with Venus in Mameluke art (no references). Finally,
The Mamelukes certainly depicted Mars with a sword.
They knew that gold (as in the Coins) was associated with the Sun.

More elaboration would have been nice.

Here is my assessment so far. Looking on the Web for discussions of Mogul/Moghul cards, especially at the pages in "Andy's Playing Cards", I see a variety of suits and colors, including an astrological deck of 9 suits, including the seven planets and both the head and the tail of the Dragon (http://a_pollett.tripod.com/cards56.htm). The colors for the various planet-cards pictured do not match Decker's assignments; but the mere existence of such a deck is enough to establish what Decker needs for an assignment of some Mogul decks' suits to planets. 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).

I want to say something else in support of Decker's thesis that Europeans learned the planetary associations from the Muslims, orally and by what was on the cards. In its favor are some things de Mellet says about the suit cards, as though he is reporting from his own observations or what he has heard from others. On two of the Aces, reporting on Spanish names for the cards (I am using J. Karlin's translation in Rhapsodies of the Bizarre, pp. 55-57; the original is at http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Recherch ... les_Tarots):

III. Names of various Cards, preserved by the Spanish
One-eyed or the Ace of coins, Phoebea lampadis instar., consecrated to Apollo....
The Serpent or the Ace of batons (Ophion) famous symbol & sacred to the Egyptians.

And in the section IV:
The Ace of Swords, consecrated to Mars....
The ace of cups indicates a unique joy, that one by oneself possesses.

And for the suits (sections IV-V):
The Cups in general announced happiness, & the coins wealth.
The Batons meant for Agriculture prognosticated its more or less abundant harvests, the things which should have occured in or that regarded the countryside.
They [the Batons] appear mixed of good & of evil...
All the Swords presage only evil, mainly those which imprinted by an odd number, still bear a bloody sword. The only sign of victory, the crowned sword, is in this suit the sign of a happy event.
...
The hearts, (the Cups), portend happiness.
The Clubs, (the Coins), wealth.
The Spades, (the Swords), misfortune.
The Diamonds, (the Batons), indifference & the countryside.

The Moon is particularly good for Batons and the countryside, because (a) cudgels are the weapon allowed to peasants; (b) the Serpent was indeed sacred to the Egyptians, in that authorities such as Horapollo had it as a symbol of the "Almighty" and "Spirit" (Hieroglyphica I, 64); (c) the Moon both waxes and wanes, and so could be seen as bringing both good and evil; (d) the Moon is important to farmers for the planting cycle. This account has the virtue of not depending on Thoth as the deity of the Moon, as the serpent is associated with the supernatural in many traditions, while Thoth is not connected with serpents in any ancient text available in the Renaissance that I have found, except in a general way by Augustine as the god from which Hermes Trismegistus is descended. So one explanation for de Mellet's characterizations would be as a survival from the Moguls through the Muslims.

According to Decker, the Europeans, when they introduced Queens so as to make four courts, also associated the courts with these same four deities: the Sun for Kings, Venus for Queens, Mars for Knights, and the Moon/Thoth for Pages (p. 66). With astrological input from both the suit and the rank, the combination of planets can induce conflict or not, according to standard medieval astrological associations (p. 68).

For the four that have the same planet each way (suit and court), Decker sees astrological symbolism visually in the cards. The Tarot de Marseille King of Coins "sits with legs crossed in a meditative pose, which bespeaks an Apollonian person" (p. 68). He adds that the pose can be traced back through medieval portrayals of saints to ancient portrayals of poets and philosophers. Actually the King of Cups also has legs crossed in the Tarot de Marseille (in the PBM, Batons), all except Cups in the Budapest cards (p. 277 Kaplan vol. 2), as well as the Emperor (Tarot de Marseille and CY) and the Hanged Man in the trumps. On the other hand, Panofsky says that in the Renaissance crossed legs symbolized the detachment necessary for judges (Life and Art of Albrecht Durer, p. 78):
This attitude, denoting a calm and superior state of mind, was actually prescribed to judges in ancient German law-books.

And the image that he is commenting on, a Durer Christ, has solar symbolism top and bottom:
Image

Decker continues
The Queen of Cups holds a vessel with a stem marked by a kind of socket, round and red, like an apple. This recalls Venus, the most amorous goddess, who received an apple as the prize in a legendary beauty contest.

See http://www.lookandlearn.com/history-ima ... en-of-Cups. This detail is absent from any extant 15th century cards, and it is a forced interpretation of a small detail in any case.
He adds, "The armored Knight of Swords would Qualify as Mars. But all the Swords males have armor, in the early cards. And in Batons, the Page "wears a distinctive cap (a Phrygian cap) which may indicate a traveler (therefore a ward of the moon)". I don't think it's really Phrygian, which twists forward at the end (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrygian_cap; compare with http://www.planetlight.com/td/content/page-wands), and in any case none of the early cards have him with such a cap.

So I reject the idea that there is planetary symbolism in the courts.

Decker uses his theory about the courts to explain why in some card games the Coins and Cups are ranked Ace, Two, etc. in trick-taking ability, while in the other suits it goes Ten, Nine, etc (p. 70). He says that the Sun and Venus were considered "good" astrological signs and Mars and the Moon "bad" ones. If the power of the suits starts with the Ace, then in Coins and Cups the Ace is the "best", but in the others, it is "worst."

But it seems to me that this same result would come about if war and violence (swords and sticks) are "bad", while wealth and piety/pleasure are "good", independently of astrology,

Chapter Three begins with an account of Marziano's "game of the gods", fairly straightforwardly derivative from Ross's analysis on trionfi.com, which Decker cites. Then comes his defense of a 14 card original sequence, expanded to 22 later pp. 76-77). It is the familiar one advanced here (with much criticism) by Huck (although without crediting Huck and unlike Huck not involving the PMB or the Charles VI). He bases himself on the 14 "figures" in Ferrara of Jan. 1, 1441, followed by the 1442 order there for "triumphs" and the 70 card deck order of 1457 (4x14 + 14). He seems to have written this before the Giusti document of Florence was brought to general attention. He opts for Milan as where the tarot was invented, apparently on the basis of his preference for the "C" order of the triumphs, reflected in the Tarot of Marseille (Tarot de Marseille), of which he holds that a "prototype" was the first tarot, at first with just the first 14 cards of the Tarot de Marseille (numbers 1-14), to which the other 8 were added later, by 1465.

Decker adds that the 14 card deck was first proposed by him in 1974 (Journal of the International Playing Card Society 3:1, Aug. 1974, pp. 24ff). However a look at his article shows that the number 14 there is mostly coincidence. He is speaking of the Cary-Yale, on the grounds that if there were 16 cards per suits, it takes 14 more to add up to 78. He also considers--but does not endorse--the idea that the PMB has 14 (as Huck maintains); the problem is that since the Cary-Yale had a Strength and a World card, it would seem likely they would have been in the PMB, too. (One solution that occurs to me is that if the Popess represents Prudence, as Decker maintains later, then the CY World, with its wise-looking trumpet-holding lady, could have been re-imagined as the Popess,and the Fool, present in the extant PMB but not the CY, is not part of the 14. But Decker does not go that route.)

In the current book, Decker does not maintain that the PMB had 14 cards; he hardly mentions that deck. He does not mention the Cary-Yale of c. 1441-1445. Instead, we are given his Tarot de Marseille ur-Tarot, probably coming out of Milan but maybe Ferrara, perhaps the "14 figures" of Jan. 1, 1440, perhaps invented by Bianca Maria Sforza; it is the "prototype" of the Tarot de Marseille's first 14 cards (p. 79) and apparently looks more like the Tarot de Marseille than any extant 15th century decks, as we shall see .

One argument he gives for the priority of the Tarot de Marseille is correspondences between the Tarot de Marseille and Milanese fashion and heraldry:
In the Tarot de Marseille, the trump figures wear costumes that are mostly in early Renaissance style (belted jerkins, tights, robes, high-waisted gowns).

Also, the Ace of Swords' blade is "encircled with a crown that is draped with two fronds, palm and laurel...The Viscontis adopted the motif of crown and fronds as a heraldic device" (p. 78f). But the most these would show is that the Tarot de Marseille is descended from the decks sponsored by the Visconti-Sforza rulers; there may have been many changes along the way, as well as costumes deliberately intended to look old and venerable. It may well be that the Tarot de Marseille is not so old as we think, i.e. early 16th century Milanese. But that is not the beginning. Perhaps Part 2 of the book, Chapters 4-7, are meant as additional support for his thesis. I will assume this to be the case.

The rest of chapter 3 looks to me fairly uncontroversial, except for his interpretation of another frontispiece, this one from Venice 1526, Fanti's Triompho di Fortuna, a fortune-telling manual for the use of dice; it seems to show several tarot subjects and suggests to him that tarot cards were probably used for the same thing (p. 90). The frontispiece is interesting on other grounds as well; I have discussed it at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=937&start=40#p14127. He also has quotes from Francesco Berni and Flavio Alberto Lollio about how the tarot sequence is a mishmash, which supports his idea that the meanings are hidden. I would note that while some experts still think it is a mishmash, many researchers today think that the sequence makes perfect sense in a Christian context. Also, he cites Folengo's tarot sonnets (see http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Caos_Del_Triperuno) as examples of use of cards to give advice to individuals, and he quotes Giralomo Barghagli on the practice of associating particular cards with particular individuals during pageants (p. 92). He does not mention Andrea Vitali's account of Barghagli in this connection; see http://www.letarot.it/page.aspx?id=199&lng=eng.

I want to stress again that in Chapter Three Decker is likely only introducing his thesis that the original 22 card tarot was similar to the Tarot de Marseille in look and order, and that the original tarot itself was similar to the first 14 of these trumps. His main argument will come later, over the next four chapters, which constitute Section Two of his book, entitled "The Texts Applied to the Trumps". I hope to discuss all four of these chapters in this thread.

a variant of Fanti's frontispiece

#2
Following Michael Hurst's mention of "Le Barerie del Mondo", I found this engraving by Cristofano Bertelli (active 1550 - 1599) which is clearly related to Fanti's frontispiece.
If you follow the link, you should be able to zoom in and read the text.

Image


The naked woman on the right is Nature. She generates the new born men who climb a ladder in order to enter life, which is represented by a globe (actually an analogue of the Wheel of Fortune) turned by an Angel and a Devil. Emperors and Popes can be seen on this globe. Death and Time “extract” the souls of the dead from the globe, passing them through a sieve and assigning them to Devils or Angels.
The center is occupied by a depiction of the torments of the damned. Allegories of Virtues and Vices appear at the left and right of the main scene respectively.
The blessed are allowed to climb the mountain that leads to Jesus Christ (upper left).
WA1863_5738.jpg
(252.66 KiB) Not downloaded yet

Re: Decker's new book

#3
Yes, very nice, thank you, Marco. This one seems to me to combine elements of the Holbein Cebetis with the Fanti, in that there are heights to climb and a goal, Felicity/Jesus. This one seems less positive than Fanti about Popes, in that there is no Virtue figure that he is gazing at; they are simply on the Wheel/Globe. I think that here the Angel is still Virtue, and the Devil is Vice. And the particular characters we've been discussing (on the "Meaning of the first Six Trumps" thread, starting at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=937&start=40#p14102), the old man (Holbein) and the old man plus dice-thrower (Fanti), have been discreetly omitted, replaced by "Nature".

I hope you noticed, in my most recent post on the other thread, my questions about Piscina in relation to the Holbein Cebetis and Fanti, viewtopic.php?f=11&t=937&start=50#p14147. And if you did, notice also that I added a couple of things the next day (for me, although it might be the same day for you). I'd like your opinion about my Piscina questions, Marco; no rush, of course.

Added: The fact that Alciato puts "Fama" at spot 14, and that some Temperance cards also say "Fama" on them (usually "Fama Sol", fame alone), is an argument of sorts for Decker's position in chapter 3 that the Milan tarot had 14 trumps (excluding the Fool) before it had 21. The Cary-Yale has as its last or next to last card a "Fama", in that the lady holds a trumpet. If "fama" is associated with "last", as it is in Piscina, too, in the quote I gave on the other thread, then Temperance, following the Belgian/Vieville pattern, might have earlier been the last card of the sequence.

Decker Chapter 4: Egypt

#4
In Chapter Four Decker addresses one issue he has been postponing: why the designer of the first cards, i.e. the Tarot de Marseille, must have been someone familiar with Roman-era writings about Egypt. His key text is Horapollo's Hieroglyphica, the Greek text that was brought to Florence in 1422 and offered interpretations for 130 pictures claimed to be Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Decker's idea is at least original. De Gebelin, who was the first to publish an interpretation of the trumps in Egyptian terms, did so on the assumption that they meant things actually in Egypt, based on Greco-Roman writings about Egypt. I myself have undertaken Egyptian interpretations along similar lines, but with the assumption that the tarot sequence originated in 15th century Northern Italy. It is not hard to interpret each of the group C trumps (Lombardy and France) in terms of something in ancient sources about Egypt or using ideas contained also in books then attributed to Egypt, e.g. the Corpus Hermetica. Thus humanists playing the game might have enjoyed showing off their erudition by giving Egyptian interpretations based on Greek and Latin authors. In the 18th century, Freemasons and others would have enjoyed explaining the cards in terms of the "Mysteries of Isis" they were fond of (see e.g. the novel Sethos and the opera The Magic Flute). Also, designers might have seen opportunities to sneak in Egyptianate details, or provide lead-ins to such interpretations and thereby promote themselves among the well-to-do, while maintaining the obvious Renaissance Italian Christian imagery. Decker says nothing about such intepretations, not even mentioning the Piscina and Anonymous (1570) booklets that analyzed the cards in such terms; the Anonymous even uses the term "figure geroglifiche" to describe the trumps (http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... ostcount=1). Perhaps Decker is content with his, Dummett's, and Depaulis's 1996 assessment (Wicked Pack p. 33): "Neither of the proposed interpretations is at all plausible"; that is strong language, probably Decker's, with which I don't agree, for exoteric meanings. But it never occurred to me that Horapollo was significant for anything more than illustrating the general idea of using one image to convey an idea different from what was there on the surface. Even if his arguments are weak, his correlations might strengthen my own arguments in this area, as seen on my blog "22 Invocations of Dionysus: The Esoteric Tarot Before 1781" (a title it's had for abut 14 months, changed from the too-specific "22 Invocations of Dionysus", which it never was about exclusively) starting in 2008 (http://22invocationsofdionysus.blogspot.com/2008/06/). However I want if possible to avoid equating "bad argument" with "argument that is inconsistent with my arguments" and achieve some kind of objectivity if possible.

ON THE ACCESSIBILITY OF HORAPOLLO IN 15TH CENTURY ITALY

To introduce this Hieroglyphica, Decker has much to say about the origins of this document in the ancient world and what corresponds to its decodings in the actual Egyptian language, as determined by modern Egyptology; he also speaks of Durer's use of Horapollo c. 1515. But he gives nothing on the dissemination of this text before 1441 into places like Lombardy or Ferrara where tarot-designers would have lived. He just says (p. 101)
Nine fifteenth-century copies of the Hieroglypica reportedly exist [footnote 14: Stanislaus Klossowsky de Rola, The Golden Game: Alchemical Engravings of the Seventeenth Century (New York: George Braziller, 1988), 20 n13). Latin translations of the Hiroglyphica, or parts of it, must soon have been available. It began to influence the polymath Alberti in the 1430s, if not earlier.
De Rola does indeed say that there are nine 15th century copies, but with no references. In any case, the issue is when and where in the 15th century.

I will help Decker here. Curran in The Italian Renaissance writes that Cyriaco of Ancona or a or a contemporary may have made in the 1430s the “Latin abridgement of 36 signs from Horapollo’s book I that was copied years later in a sylloge now preserved in Naples. It is an hypothesis first advanced by Giovanni Batttista Rossi and still “has considerable merit,” Curran says (p. 104). That is out of 70 in part I and 119 in Part II. The translation would probably have been made for his 1435 visit to Egypt. In 1438 he surely heard Plethon talk on Plato and other subjects (such as, I think, the "ancient theology"), because he is depicted in the Medici Procession of the Magi, which started out as a portrayal of everyone who had gone to the conclave in Florence then; he late visited Plethon in Mistra, Greece. Upon his return from each of his trips, Cyriaco probably made the rounds of cities and courts, as we know he did after his last trip. There was also his travel journal, probably with copies of hieroglyphs; the part on Egypt is now lost, probably burned in a fire in Pesaro; the last owner was a Alessandro Sforza, Wikipedia tells us (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciriaco_de%27_Pizzicolli); Alessandro is the probable commissioner of the "Catania" tarot deck, one of the four or five earliest decks with extant cards, probably contemporary with the PMB. We know that Cyriaco went to Ferrara to talk with Leonello in 1449, because of his famous description of the Belfiore Muses in the Belfiore (cited by Venturi, North Italian painting of the Quattrocento: Emilia, 1931, p. 29. In that year also he went to see Sigismondo Malatesta, the man for whom the first recorded tarot had been made in 1440 (Woodhouse, Gemistos Plethon, p. 161), In 1450 he moved to Cremona and stayed they until he died, 2-4 years later (per Wikipeda),

Otherwise, Charles Dempsey reports that George Valla, who was at Pavia 1465-1485 and then Venice, made a partial translation of Horapollo (“Renaissance Hieorglyphic Studies and Gentile Bellini’s Saint Mark Preaching in Alexandria,” p. 344, in Hermeticism and the Renaissance: Intellectual History and the Occult in Early Modern Europe). Other partial translations were made in the early 16th century, and the first complete one in 1517 (D. L. Drysdall, “Fasanini’s Explanation of Sacred Writing,” (Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 13 (1983):1, p. 128f).

Yet it is virtually certain that Filelfo in Milan either had a copy of the Greek or knew its contents, no earlier than his arrival there in 1440 and no later than 1444, when he gives cites Horapollo specifically and gives the correct definition of "eel" in a letter to Scalamonti, the biographer of Cyriaco (“Renaissance Hieroglyphic Studies,” in Hermeticism and the Renaissance: Intellectual History and the Occult in Early Modern Europe p. 354). Ross also notices an allusion to Horapollo in a Filelfo sonnet (http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... stcount=48). Guarino in Ferrara probably would have had a copy. Alberti, who was in Ferrara during the late 1430s and early 1440s. would also have had one, since he quotes it in his treatise on architecture. And numerous Greek-readers would have had it in Florence. For fuller information, see my posts at http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... stcount=44 and the following two.

In examining Decker's decoding via Horapollo, I looked to see if it makes any order out of the mishmash. On this reading, the first trump is someone "who enjoys creating"; the first step, I suppose, in the journey is being created. Then it goes to "inherited traits"--from previous lives or from one's biological parents, is not said. Then we have "mother", then "ruler who doesn't tolerate mistakes"--a bit like father--to "governance", i.e. state or church. Then it's on to "achievement", "triumph", "the middle way" (Justice),the fleetingness of time (the original Hermit as carrier of an hour-glass), and the cycles of the years. That that comes "strength", "prolonged suffering", "departed spirits", and finally "rebirth". That is the end of the first 14. It looks like a picture of life, ending with either a new birth or, more Egyptian, the resurrection of the dead. He says that the next 7 are an expanded version of what comes after death. First is "lust, blasphemy, weakness, and audacity", tending to pull one back to earth, I assume; then the heeding of God's word in Purgatory (if that's "Egyptian"), fate or destiny, the honoring of the moon goddess, the concord of the sun, rise of the spirit, and Isis at the end. (For the interpretation of Isis, see my quotes from Apueius at viewtopic.php?f=23&t=404&p=14117#p14117)

Yes, it makes some sense, much like what other researchers have found in a Christian context. The idea of "new birth" in a new body is Pythagorean; I find no trace of it in classical writings about Egypt; but Pythagoras was said to have studied in Egypt. If Purgatory seems strange here, remember that this is a Middle Platonic Egypt, in which Apuleius's Lucius (not in Egypt, but somewhere where there was a cult of Isis) heeds Isis's call and is transformed. It is also a cosmos in which longing for the body, assisted by wicked spirits, can keep a departed soul from rising.."Prolonged suffering" is not necessarily unto death; Lucius's suffering is in the body of a donkey, symbolic of someone attached to the body.

THE FIRST 14 TRUMPS FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF HORAPOLLO AND EGYPT-RELATED ANCIENT TEXTS GENERALLY

So let's look at how well Horapollo correlates with the tarot. Here, besides making sense of the sequence, both as 14 and as 22, I want to consider that when Horapollo isn't enough by itself, we might supplement it with other classical writings pertaining to Egypt and its religion,such as Herodotus, Plato, and the Roman-era Platonists, especially Plutarch and Apuleius I do so with the idea that the tarot would have been seen not only in terms of esoteric symbolism from Egypt per se, but also as providing insight into the "ancient theology" before Christianity and into a Platonist world-view congenial to many humanists of the Renaissance. Again we have to note the time at which such world-view could have been expected among humanists advising the courts o the Sforza in Milan, the Estensi in Ferrara, the Medici of Florence, and the Bentivoglio of Bologna. As will be evident, the convergence of data begins in the late 15th century, strongly suggesting that an Egyptian perspective was not part of the conception of the original tarot.

In this presentation, I include a variety of images. So as not to interupt too much the flow of the argument, I leave them as links to click on if you wish. In many cases there will be, other material besides the image that I am talking about; that is because I am getting these images from my blog, where I give other arguments besides the ones here. I am not trying to include everything, just enough to make the points.

1. We start with the Bagatella or Juggler. His hands are his most prominent feature, and for "hands" we have "person who enjoys building". in other words, a demiurge. Decker changes it to "person who enjoys creating," which is the much the same thing. But Decker is thinking of the potter-god Khnum, creating humans on his wheel. I have found no evidence that such a god was known in writings available in Italy, although it could have been part of what Cyriaco had picked up. As I have said at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=937&start=40#p14102 there is evidence of the creator-god Ammon and the mind, nous, of the Asclepius, as well as the Agathadaemon of Apuleius, deriving from Plato's Symposium,which appears also in the Greek Hermetica.

2. For the Popess, the only thing Decker finds relevant in Horapollo is the book. A book means "very old". A related meaning, Decker says, is that for papyrus, "ancient descent," the same sort of thing. However what is meant there is a sheaf of papyrus plants, which looks much different from what is on the card (Durer has such a sheaf in his depiction of Maximilian, emphasizing his ancient descent (http://libraryofsymbolism.com/images/ne ... nsl1-3.jpg); he indeed, like Pope Alexander VI, traced his ancestry back to Osiris). So I go with "very old", describing the book, the woman, or what she knows.

3. For the Empress, Decker insists that the bird on her shield is a vulture, quite different from the Emperor's Eagle. A vulture represents "mother". I don't see a vulture (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-sp2sFIa3hJY/T ... obConv.jpg), and it looks the same to me as the Emperor's bird (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... erDion.jpg). Anyway, isn't it the job of Empresses to provide future Emperors? A more natural Egyptian interpretation, for a different bird than the Imperial eagle would be a hawk, which looks more similar to an eagle. For "hawk" Horapollo has "Ares, or Aphrodite", the latter in the sense of a fertility goddess.Ares would be the figure on the Empress's lap; Aphrodite would be the Empress herself. There is also "the lord of sight" or "sublime things". A reader of Plutarch, On isis and Osiris LI (http://thriceholy.net/Texts/Isis.html), would associate also the hawk-god Horus, sitting on his mother's lap as in the Roman coins that were being collected by rich antiquarians (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... sisCar.JPG). That would be an expression of the ancient theology of God the Son, as seen in mature form in the Madonna and Child paintings of Renaissance Italy.

4. The Emperor's eagle represents "a king who is aloof and intolerant of mistakes". Boas has "king living in retirement giving no pity to those in fault" (ii, 56) Yes, that is a good negative interpretation of the card. An Eagle carrying a stone means a man living in safety in a city (II, 49). That could be a positive meaning, the Eagle as contributing to safety.

5. For the Pope, Decker focuses on his stole, i.e. his vestment; Stoles symbolize governance in Horapollo (1, 40) Actually, in Boas's translation, it is not just a stole, but one placed near a dog, who gazes at the king or judge who is naked! Interestingly, Durer draws the stole on the dog, and it is crossed, similar to how the Popess's stole is crossed on the Tarot de Marseille (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-TgyUFEPLutw/U ... gStole.jpg, http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... obConv.jpg). Some versions of the Pope, e.g. Rosenwald, are like that, too. I notice that in Apuleius, stoles are symbolic of the sacred. Sacred governance is a fairly obvious meaning that would hopefully not offend the Papacy..

6. For the Love card, Decker finds nothing in Horapollo. But the laurel on the the Tarot de Marseille Lover card's left lady's head (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... tFidii.jpg) in Greco-Roman art represents achievement, he says: The male "lover" stands between Pleasure (the cute girl) and Virtue (the homely girl). But the latter has an attractive personality: she wears a laurel wreeath, a symbol of achievement. A laurel wreath figures in the medallion that Matteo de' Pasti designed for Alberti, who regarded the wreath as a hieroglyph for "joy and glory".[/quote]
There are no references, but what he says seems true. But in fact laurel is mentioned in Horapollo, II.46; it represents a healing oracle. Love of Virtue (if it is the choice between Virtue and Pleasure) can indeed be healing. But there is no laurel in the early cards (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... hGring.jpg); the earliest I see is the Schoen Horoscope, where it is more likely a crown (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... eville.jpg). Another interpretation might focus on the two figures plus Cupid of the PMB and Cary Sheet: in Egyptian mythology, they could be Isis and Osiris and their son the hawk-god Horus. If the Tarot de Marseille, then it is one Horus with Hathor and his mother, while another Horus flies in the sky (Plutarch, XIX, has two Horuses). This would be another manifestation of the "prisca theologica" , which in mature form would show the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus, with his mother and Mary Magdalene looking on later at the foot of the cross, sadly in that context.

7. For the Chariot card, Decker focuses on the breastplate, which was on the card in the 15th century, although in Florence rather than Milan. He says it meant "triumph". This meaning is not in Horapollo, he admits, but was reported by Cyriaco of Ancona after his travels there. He has no documentation of this, but in support he gives a 1780 picture of an obelisk, said there to represent the victories of Alexander, with various pictures on it, including a very detailed, realistic breastplate. It is obviously not a true representation of an Egyptian obelisk.

I can help Decker out here. In the Hypnerotomachia published 1499 but written earlier, a breastplate is indeed given as a hieroglyph for "triumphal trophy". His hieroglyphs mostly aren't in Horapollo, but some might have had some ancient source. Also, Renaissance art of the time conventionally used the breastplate as a symbol of victory (e.g. Marco Zoppa's "Venus Vitrix" or "Venus Armata", cited in Wind, Pagan Mysterious of the Renaissance, p. 91 n.32). Perhaps it came from Cyriaco and Egypt, perhaps not. In any case, chariots were typically the vehicle of choice in Greco-Roman writings about victory parades, in Egypt and elsewhere.

Or this: Horapollo does have an interpretation of a man in armor:the image means a mob (II, 12). Decker ignores that. Could the card represent a rabble-rouser, like Julius Caesar or Mark Antony?

8. For Justice, Decker finds no interpretation in Horapollo. But he focuses on the the dot in the circle in the middle of the lady's forehead on the TdMII (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MTyGqZhNkes/T ... moinSM.jpg), a feature never found before Chosson and Conver (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... eGring.JPG); Decker says it is the "middle way", something Pythagoras talked about, and Pythagoras was said to have studied in Egypt. I don't recall this in Pythagoras, and in any case this is quite a stretch. But suppose we focus on the upper part of the card except the scales, whose meaning is too obvious. Then we get "a bust with a sword", which means "impiety" (II, 19). Surely the one for whom the sword is intended is impious, obvious but at least in Horapollo.

9. In the case of the Hermit, Decker sensibly opts for the historically correct (for the 1440s) image of the old man with an hourglass. Horapollo has no man with an hourglass, but he does have a man "eating the hours", which Durer represented as a man putting an hourglass in his mouth. The image means "horoscoper", Horapollo says, in other words an astrologer. That seems to me quite suitable, given the hermetic perspective and Apuleius. If the "good genius" sends the signs, e.g. the cards dealt or dice rolled, someone needs to interpret the signs. The old man is an interpreter of what has been, is, and is to come. For some reason Decker does not take that route. Rather, the esoteric meaning is that the man "should observe, display or declare the hours". That seems to me an obvious surface meaning, not needing Horapollo. Decker goes on: the esoteric meaning is "timing". That is vaguely connected with Horapollo, although in a way that Decker does not explain; Horapollo interprets "eating the hours" to mean that different foods are appropriate for different hours of the day.

10. For the Wheel of Fortune, Decker sees the "little apes" on the Tarot de Marseille Wheel (never seen or mentioned in the 15th-16th century) as baboons sacred to Thoth, noting the cycles in the heavens, but he adds, sensibly, that wheels are symbolic of cycles anyway. But in fact Horapollo does have a non-obvious interpretation, about monkeys. They mean a man with two sons, one of whom he raises as his heir and the other he slays (Ii-66). That does seem to fit the Tarot de Marseille card, with a king in the middle and a figure going up and another going down (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... an0251.JPG). On the early cards, however, the figures are simply men, with another at the bottom; in the 16th century it changes to the donkey-headed and -tailed men we see in the cards now in Budapest (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... talian.jpg). By Noblet the man at the bottom had dropped out; so maybe Horapollo's are close enough. The dual role of raiser-up and bringer-down also fits the Sphinx in the tale of Oedipus; it is a Greek tale, but an equally famous Sphinx was in Egypt.The figure at the top of the TdMII does resemble a Sphinx.

11. In the Strength card, the lion is prominent. In Horapollo, a lion's fore-quarters represent Strength. That is obvious and exoteric, a property of this image even at Chartres Cathedral (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... llChar.jpg). One might get an esoteric meaning from Plutarch, the lion as a fire-animal and hence Seth, the desert-god that Isis gains supremacy over. Or the lion as the sun-god Ra, whom Isis bends to her will to have Horus's legitimacy recognized over Seth's ( http://thriceholy.net/Texts/Isis.html, XIX).

In the Renaissance, a comparable picture is Botticelli's Pallas and the Centaur, in which Athena restrains a centaur from acting on his impulses (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... icelli.jpg). Athena was recognized, e.g. in Horodotus, as a Greek equivalent of Isis.

12. Decker goes to rather absurd lengths with the Hanged Man:
Portraits of criminals were displayed, upside down, to disgrace them publicly. The Hieroglyphica cites a ladder as a hieroglyph of "a siege" (II, 28). This might be taken as a metaphor for "prolonged suffering". I suggest that the trancated branches, as seen in the T de M, were used as ladder rungs. The man's tormentors would have climbed the rungs to hoist him onto the gibbet.
There are indeed such notches in the 15th century tarot, although in Florence rather than Milan (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... aGring.JPG), The ladder is now removed, Decker says, so we don't see it. But do we interpret the hidden meaning by what is absent, and especially for a use, siege-warfare, not in the picture, and not for the users but rather those it is used against, also not in the picture? That is not the way memory theaters work.

I myself would rather focus on the hole in the ground under the Hanged Man's head in the PMB, retained in the Tarot de Marseille (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... odCon2.jpg). Osiris, tricked by Seth, enters the darkness of his coffin but is the seed from which a mighty tree will grow. Plutarch XIII relates how the coffin went out to sea and then floated to land, where an imposing tree grew around it. Isis found it and brought Osiris back to life. It is like Christ's entrance into the crypt from which he is resurrected.

13. Decker sees a mask on Death's face, and says that in Horapollo a mask means "departed spirits." But Death is not a departed spirit. Here I like de Gebelin's story of the mummy displayed at banquets, to remind people that to hold death at bay practice moderation. Plutarch XVII says that the custom was to bring out "a dead man in his coffin...to warn one to make use of the present and enjoy it, as very soon they themselves will be as he", The story was cited by Montaigne Complete Essays of Montaigne, trans. David Frame, p. 62, 65, 85), The heads and feet at the bottom of the Tarot de Marseille (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... onver2.jpg) are like the scattered limbs of Osiris in the tale told by Plutarch and Diodorus, symbolic of the resurrection to come. Pico gave that interpretation, saying, in his Oration of 1486 (quoted in Wind, p. 134)
...we shall sometimes descend, with titanic force rending the unity like Osiris into many parts, and we shall sometimes ascend, with force of Phoebus collecting the parts like the limbs of Osiris into a unity.
14. Temperance is the last of the first 14. For Decker it symbolizes rebirth. He gets that from the lady pouring liquid from one vessel to another, which he says is comparable to Horapollo's "a rush of water, from above to below" symbolizing rebirth. I'm not sure that the little stream going from one jug to anther qualifies as "a rush of water"--actually, "water gushing forth over heaven and earth", in Boas' translation (as opposed to the 1840 translation Decker found). In any case, what is symbolized is "the rising of the Nile", in Horapollo, nothing about rebirth. Decker needs "rebirth" because it's the end of his "original" sequence of 25 cards, and it has to either start over or go to another level.

I think the argument could be improved in two ways. First, what Horapollo says is "three water jugs, or water gushing over heaven and earth". We have only two jugs; but when Durer illustrated this image, he had two as well (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PAgDTQ6W80E/U ... erJars.jpg). Perhaps there was a mistranslation: I haven't seen the Latin, either the 1435 or any later. Another way of seeing the card is as the mixing of wine and water for the Eucharist, which sets the stage for rebirth in the resurrection to come. The rising of the Nile is likewise the condition for the rebirth of the plants of the land of Egypt. This sacred rejuvenation is a precursor of the Eucharist. It could also be seen as the combining of water and fire, the water of Osiris with the fire of Seth, upper and lower Egypt, and also of good and evil, which Plutarch XLI, quoting Euripides, said "makes the world go well"; the popularity of this idea is shown in Montaigne (Essays 3. 13, "On Experience." Knopf ed., p. 290). Evil is the condition for good. Without evil to fight against, good is merely a habit or reflex.

THE NEXT SEVEN TRUMPS, AND THE FOOL

15. Evil is the subject of the next card, the devil. Decker points to the animals that are implied in this figure, the goat, oryx and bat. "As hieroglyphs, they respectively symbolize lust (I. 48), blasphemy (I, 49) and weakness and audacity (II, 52)." Boas has this latter as "a weak man who is rash". In these way evil is not outside, but inside the human being, all of us.At the same time, Apuleius, the Hermetica, and Plutarch all warn us about earth-bound evil spirits that take advantage of our weakness to bind us to them. The danger is within and without. The Cary Sheet shows a devil picking up souls as though they were garbage on the ground (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... om16th.jpg). The Tarot de Marseille shows a Devil on high and two small devils tied to his platform by ropes. The scene is reminiscent of an Egyptian stele reproduced in Innes The tarot (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... erSeth.JPG). Although I can't now find my reference, I found in one book about Egypt that it is from Sakara, near Cairo; so Cyriaco could have drawn it. Modern Egyptology says it is Seth and other gods bringing enemy captives to the Pharaoh.

16. Another interesting interpretation of Decker's is of the Tower card, which has a lightning-bolt on it. Horapollo doesn't have "lightning", but he does have "thunder", which means "far-off voice". Decker says, "surely it is of divine origin" and that the Tower is a conventional symbol of Purgatory; I didn't know that, and he has no reference. Hence "Souls in Purgatory still have the option of heeding God's Word and gaining salvation." He is thinking of the tarot sequence at this point as the soul's progress as far as Purgatory, something he has not yet laid a foundation for.and is surely not Egyptian. The lightning as representing the Word of God is not bad, using Horapollo to build a a Christian interpretation. But lightning represents God's will even without Horapollo, e.g. the Tower of Babel, Moses on the mountain, and various enemies of Israel struck dead.

For Egyptian towers, my favorite story is in Herodotus (History Book 3 (Thalia), pp. 17fF, AT http://www.greektexts.com/library/Herod ... ng/62.html).. The Persian king Cambyses conquers Egypt, thus becoming the new Pharaoh, and commits sacrilege by killing the sacred Apis bull. On the way back to Persia he dies of a an accidental self-inflicted injury (hence the man lying at the bottom of the tower) and his deputy, involved in shady dealings over the succession, has a fit of conscience--the voice of God, no doubt--confesses all to the summoned crowd and jumps off his platform, the highest tower in the city In the Noblet card, instead of circles, the shapes near the heads of the men are more like Egyptian hats, shown most clearly in Flornoy's restoration; the Dodal has some of this, but more ellipses (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... dHeron.jpg).

17. A star, Decker notes from Horapollo, means fate, certainly a good Hermetic concept. On a deeper level, on the Cary Sheet we have one big star over four smaller ones, or five if you include the one on the lady's shoulder (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... Sothis.jpg). That might. it seems to me, represent the transcendence of fate by means of Providence, assuming that the lady is Venus, a manifestation of Isis in Apuleius. Horapollo says "And among them Isis is a star, called Sothis by the Egyptians, by the Greeks the Dog-Star, which appears to rule over the other stars." Plutarch calls it both Isis and "Isis' water-carrier" (On Isis and Osiris XXI, XXXVIII) and the herald of the Nile flood, which we see pouring in two vessels, one on the side of a mountain and the other on the side of a hill. In Africa, the Nile is formed by the conjunction of two rivers; the White Nile flows slowly and picks up rich clay;, the Blue Nile comes in a torrent in the summer from the Ethiopian rains. The clay wouldn't get to the fields without the torrent. The allegory might be that for rebirth attention is needed both to the body (slow) and the spirit (torrent).

To judge when the Egyptianizing influence might have come to the tarot, one indicator might be the switch, for a while, from one-jugged Aquariuses to two, and a feminizing of the figure so that it is sexually ambiguous The reason is that in the Dendera zodiacs, above ground on a trade-route since Greco-Roman times, Aquarius is shown with two jugs and sexually ambiguous (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... ETNota.jpg, http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... r2Nota.JPG). That might have induced the change. I see an Italian Aquarius, c. 1475, that fits this description (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... hHours.jpg), and a zodiac in Troyes of 1497 as well (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... zodiac.JPG). The 1497 zodiac will be of interest for the Sun card as well; the Dendera zodiacs relate to both the Moon and Sun cards, as we shall see.

In the Tarot de Marseille, the hills and mountains become trees, and a bird is added (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... olChos.jpg). The bird faces right, the direction of the rising sun, and has its wings spread. That is a description of the Phoenix, one that particularly fits the frontispiece to the French translation of the Hyperotomachia, c. 1600 (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PMRBwK9y-M0/T ... eauLGE.jpg). Horapollo talks about the Phoenix three times. The most relevant passage is at II, 35. I highlight the most relevant words:
When they wish to indicate a long-enduring restoration, they draw the phoenix. For when this bird is born, there is a renewal of things. And it is born in this way. When the phoenix is about to die, it casts itself upon the ground and is crushed. And from the icho pouring out of the wound, anther is born. And this one immediately sprouts wings and flies off with its to Heliopolis in Egypt and once there, at the rising of the sun, the sire dies. And with the death of the sire, the young one returns to its own country. And the Egyptian priests bury the dead phoenix.
The phoenix is also connected with the rising of the Nile. I, 34, says that among other things the phoenix symbolizes a "a flood, since the phoenix is the symbol of the sun, than which nothing in the universe is greater." I, 35 elaborates:
And whatever the Egyptians do in the case of the other sacred animals, the same do they feel obliged to do for the phoenix. For it is said by the Egyptians beyond all other birds to cherish the usn, wherefore the Nile overflows for them because of the warmth of this god, concerning whic we have spoken a little above.
I have read somewhere that one reason for the connection of the sun with the flood is that occurs in the month of Leo (which of course is Greek, but we are dealing with Greco-Roman Egypt).

18. Decker finds a dog in the Moon card, and concludes that it means the Moon is a divinity. But there is no dog in any 15th century Moon card, and it doesn't take Horapollo to interpret the Moon as a divinity. I think he would have done better to take the meaning of "crab", which is the same word as "crayfish" (in Horapollo with an oyster, but let's keep it simple): "a man careless of his welfare".

Actually, "scrab" in Greek is "karabos", which also means "scarab" (http://wordinfo.info/unit/3559). Pictorially, the Cancer on the Dendera zodiacs could be either a crab or a scarab (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... teCrab.JPG). Thus we may invoke Horapollo on the scarab (I, 10), where it is indeed connected with the Moon:
When the male wishes to have offspring, it takes some cow-dung and makes a round ball of it...Then, burying this ball, it leaves it in the ground for twenty-eight days, during which tine the moon traverses the twelve signs of the zodiac. Remaining here, the beetle is brought to birth. And on the twenty-ninth day, when it breaks the ball open, it rolls it into the water. For it considers this day to be the conjunction of the moon and the usn, as well as the birth of the world. When it is opened in the water, animals emerge which are beetles. It symbolizes birth for this very reason. And a father, because the beetle takes its birth from a father only.,,
Assuming a mistranslation of "karabos" as "crayfish", we have precisely the situation on the Cary Sheet Moon card, with its Egyptian background of two obelisks, a temple, and what I think are crocodiles (look carefully!) by a lake (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... detNot.jpg). The crocodile, Horapollo says, is a destroyer (II, 35):
When they wish to represent a man at war with another, they draw a scropion and a crocodile. For each destroys the other.
It is also a lunatic, as we see at I, 67:
When they wish to represent a plunderer, a fecund man, a madman, they draw a crocodile, because it is fecund and has many offspring and raves.
19. Decker sees two men on the Tarot de Marseille Sun card greeting each other, This symbolizes "concord" or "unanimity". He ignores that it is also the Twins, who had the same feelings. But the early cards had no such two men. The PMB has a child reaching for the Sun; in the Cary Sheet, there is appears to be a boy waving a flag, retained in the Vieville (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-f_huNLujqas/T ... eville.JPG). It suggests that the new birth has happened, and it is cause for joy. That is not something particularly Egyptian. But if Egyptian = Hermetic, then it signifies the triumph over the demons who inhabit the space between the Earth and the Moon and on the Moon itself, until passing from the dark to the light side of the Moon the spirit is ready to separate from soul and orient itself to the Sun. It is perhaps the shift from Isis as the Moon to Osiris as the Sun, in the Roman-era interpretation of the cult (Plutarch LII).

In the Sforza Castle card, however, it is a male and female pair touching each other, repeated in the Noblet (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... Noblet.jpg) and Minchiate (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yeUc6jb8pBE/T ... unGem2.jpg). In relation to Egypt, that would correspond to the Egyptian representation of the Gemini at Dendera, clearly seen as male and female (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... Gemini.jpg); the Greek Gemini have become the Egyptian son and daughter of the Sun, Shu and Tefnet. At this point Horapollo's dictum applies. In the 1497 Troyes zodiac (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... zodiac.JPG), we also see a man and a woman for Gemini. Whether that image is part of the original tarot is dubious, because the "Sforza Castle" is later than the earlier Milan cards which show no such two people.

20, For the Judgment (or "Angel:) card, Decker focuses on the Angel's wings. He says that "wings" meant "wind", and wind is breath or spirit. Actually, the image is not "wings" but rather "a hawk rising toward the gods". Since "hawk" is a symbol of the soul, it would follow that a hawk rising up would mean the soul or spirit rising. An angel is not a hawk, but there is enough here to force the analogy, as an Egyptian prefiguration of the angels who assist in the Resurrection, lifting the soul up or giving it wings.

By the time of the Chosson, however, there is what seems to me an allusion to one of the major Egyptian gods (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... Wadjet.jpg). The hills conjoined with the tonsured head of the middle figure form an eye, very similar to the "eye of Horus" or "Wadjet" that was depicted schematically.Plutarch LII describes the eyes of Horus as the sun and the moon. Since the sun sees everything, that eye probably would have been identified with the all-seeing eye of God, a well-known hieroglyph, most famously in the US dollar bill (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-gUn-DswmmJ0/T ... t_Seal.jpg; on the left, the Latin means "This is the way of God").

21. For the World card, Decker has already said that the lady in the middle is Isis. Horapollo says that a woman is Isis (1,3). That fits Decker's interpretation of the Tarot de Marseille card, to be sure, but many other cards as well. That is no objection: in Apuleius, Isis is all goddesses combined into one. Thus for example, even the Cary Sheet's Popess could be Isis, as O'Neill has pointed out. It is quite similar to the Isis of Pope Alexander VI's fresco series (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... ryIsis.jpg, where I have given a mirror image of the fresco, as woodcuts like the Cary Sheet do that to an image). From there we have the curtain behind the Tarot de Marseille Popess as the "veil of Isis" in Herodotus, and we are on our way to the Golden Dawn.

For the Fool, a card he says was added after the first 14 and was not part of the sequence, he interprets the card by the animal reaching up to the Fool: it is a hyena, which the artist, an Italian, didn't know how to draw. That gives the card the meaning of "unstable, because sometimes male and sometimes female". But the early Fool cards had no animal on that card, not even the Cary Sheet, which shows the left half of the card (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-2J3f4rKYxsY/T ... ywFool.jpg). And when there was an animal in art that might have been suggested by the Tarot Fool, as in "Tarot of Mantegna" Misero (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... ovegni.JPG) or Bosch's "Wayfarer" (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... nBosch.jpg), it was unambiguously a dog. A dog looking at something means that what it is looking at is a divinity, Horapollo says. Divinity is one interpretation of the Fool.

CONCLUSION

Can one suppose that the inventor of the cards had to have had Horapollo and the other texts in front of him? There is one major problem. Much of the argument depends on card images that cannot reasonably be thought to exist until late in the 15th century at the least. It is not that "absence of evidence implies evidence of absence", which is indeed a fallacy. It is that there are many contra-indications (contradiction seems too strong a term, the medical term better) in the early cards of Decker's hypothesis.

Also, interpretations involving the Tarot de Marseille too often require knowledge of Egypt that was not available until later, unless Cyriaco was exceptionally well informed. Moreover, correlations do not imply causation, even when repeated 22 times. The early cards simply don't suggest Egyptian interpretations, except possibly the Bagatella with his odd, wide hat. On the other hand, the Cary Sheet was done at a time when over Egyptian references were being made everywhere. The Pope had his apartments painted with scenes from Egyptian mythology and traced his ancestry back to Osiris. Not to be outdone, the Emperor had Durer draw hieroglyphs around him and had his ancestry also traced back to Osiris, and to Hercules as well. After that it was simply a matter of completing the job. Egyptomania was still rampant, and when the Counter-Reformation clamped down, it still raged in France and elsewhere in Northern Europe. Apart from what the designers would have done, I see no reason why a system of "hidden symbolism" such as I describe shouldn't have readily been imposed by viewers of the cards, regardless of whether the artists had them in mind.

Ross (http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... stcount=49) has objected that if Alberti, Filelfo, etc. had been designing tarot cards, they would have come up with something more recondite than what we see. I reply that the situation here is not like the designing of medals and personal devices, where enigma is meant to suggest profundity; and it is not like the emblem books of later years, where enigmatic images encouraged people to read the rather pedestrian explanations. It is like in Shakespeare, where in "Get thee to a nunnery", "nunnery" means both a place for nuns and a whorehouse, and in "I took thee for a fishmonger," "fishmonger" means both a seller of fish and a procurer. The innocents can enjoy the lines, and so can the cynics. Italian poetry of the period was full of such double meanings, usually obscene or insulting. But they don't have to be. Likewise, here it is a matter of taking cards that make perfect sense in Christian terms and aided by ancient pagan sources giving them new meanings, assisted by new designs that cater to them. For me there is no question but that the card were originally Christian and also likely Petrarchan (for its name Trionfi, for its sequence of images through life and beyond, and most of all for the six stages with clear correspondences in the early Milanese cards; perhaps the "Time" card was out of sequence, I don't know). But it is with what happened next that I have been concerned.

Re: Decker Chapter 4: Egypt

#5
mikeh wrote:For me there is no question but that the card were originally Christian and also likely Petrarchan (for its name Trionfi, for its sequence of images through life and beyond, and most of all for the six stages with clear correspondences in the early Milanese cards; perhaps the "Time" card was out of sequence, I don't know). But it is with what happened next that I have been concerned.
I often wonder, then, why you do not apply your considerable talent and energy to what happened before taking flight in these futile (it seems to me) speculations. In other words, come up with an invention scenario, why the designer chose those cards, when, and what it means. An Ur-Tarot theory. Is it too boring? Have you been so colored by Huck's smoke and mirrors of slow and essentially random accretion of the standard sequence over time that it just seems too much of a mess? What is the attraction of trying to imagine what one of these humanists might possibly have seen in the Tarot trump images, if they had bothered to exegete them?

The fact is, they didn't. Filelfo, Alberti, Cyriac, Bessarion, even up to Pico della MIrandola and Ficino, wrote A LOT, and they didn't write a word about this card game. That absence of evidence is pretty strong evidence of absence - absence of interest on their part for what they can only have seen as a common card game, if they knew of it at all. The images are conventional and contemporary - no need to endow them with the aura of the Prisca Theologia, as occultists from Antoine Court de Gébelin onward have tried to do (he, unlike those men of the 15th century, was unfamiliar with the iconography Italian towns and churches were awash with).

Cyriac went to Egypt (three times, only the last is known about)
http://www.dwc.knaw.nl/DL/publications/PU00009753.pdf
(his extracts from Horapollo are on pages 12-13)
- but he has nothing to do with Tarot.

Don Messore went to Egypt with Meliaduse d'Este in the winter of 1440-1441, and left a very full record of the trip - and Don Messore went on to MAKE TAROT CARDS.

Of course Don Domenico Messore was a churchman, and no humanist, and in his record he makes no mention of hieroglyphs at all, even though he has plenty of Arabic words. He wasn't stupid. He was impressed by the pyramids of Giza, which he knew by the name of garnarii de Pharaone (referring to Genesis 41, 35ff, and 47, 22, where the word is horrea (the references to Genesis are from the editor of Don Messore's text, Beatrice Saletti)), and even speculated that the name "garnarium" is a corruption of the word "granarium", and that the original word was "carnarium", in the sense of sepulcher (so "carnarii de Pharaone" - Pharaoh's tomb). But he doesn't evince the slightest interest in hieroglyphs.

We probably don't have any of Don Messore's cards, but it is a good bet that his cards didn't include subtle Egyptian (or Horapollian) hieroglyphic references. That is, he made conventional Tarot cards for the game played with them, as the players expected.

On your remark about Time being misplaced, this shows that you are thinking about the order, but still haven't dared approach an Ur-Tarot theory. Your off-hand suggestion, that it was misplaced in the sequence, was also Moakley's first solution to interpreting the sequence, in 1956. She changes its place in her 1956 theory to between the Tower (or Fame "in Minchiate only") and the Star. The cards Star to World represented for her the Triumph of Eternity (Time alone was the Triumph of Time).

She was thinking along similar lines, scratching her head, and trying to come up with a sensible solution, but it still demanded corruption of the "original" order, which was strictly that of Petrarch's Trionfi, but an expansion of it.

In 1966, of course, her theory had changed. Now it was not an expanded illustration of Petrarch, but a "ribald take off" of him, and based more on the scenes of a parade of tableaux vivants than the text.

She was at least tackling the problem with the common sense notion that the standard trumps appeared together and had a meaning in a specific order. I think we'd like to hear more of how you think it was "originally Christian and also likely Petrarchan". This approach has hardly been exhausted - in fact it has hardly begun.

P.S. - I understand that your work with Andrea takes a lot of time, and it is valuable, both to us and to you. But developing fantasies about "what the most erudite people of the 15th century might possibly have speculated about the deep mysteries of the Tarot if they read them as Horapollo hieroglyphs and knew all the stuff they could have known if they had been in the right place at the right time and met the right person" seems to me to be a quixotic endeavor.
Image

Re: Decker Chapter 4: Egypt

#6
mikeh wrote: Decker says nothing about such intepretations, not even mentioning the Piscina and Anonymous (1570) booklets that analyzed the cards in such terms; the Anonymous even uses the term "figure geroglifiche" to describe the trumps (http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... ostcount=1). Perhaps Decker is content with his, Dummett's, and Depaulis's 1996 assessment (Wicked Pack p. 33): "Neither of the proposed interpretations is at all plausible"
Hello Mike,
thank you very much for summarizing Decker's ideas.
I think that the thoughts of Renaissance people about tarot are relevant to a discussion about how Renaissance people interpreted tarot. It would be interesting to know why the interpretations by Piscina and the Anonymous were considered less plausible than this Egyptian hypotheses: I am sorry that Decker did not comment those texts. Given the popularity of Christian thought with respect to Horapollo at the time when tarot was invented, I would say that the Anonymous and Piscina were closer to the mark than Decker.
mikeh wrote: In examining Decker's decoding via Horapollo, I looked to see if it makes any order out of the mishmash. On this reading, the first trump is someone "who enjoys creating"; the first step, I suppose, in the journey is being created. Then it goes to "inherited traits"--from previous lives or from one's biological parents, is not said. Then we have "mother", then "ruler who doesn't tolerate mistakes"--a bit like father--to "governance", i.e. state or church. Then it's on to "achievement", "triumph", "the middle way" (Justice),the fleetingness of time (the original Hermit as carrier of an hour-glass), and the cycles of the years. That that comes "strength", "prolonged suffering", "departed spirits", and finally "rebirth". That is the end of the first 14. It looks like a picture of life, ending with either a new birth or, more Egyptian, the resurrection of the dead. He says that the next 7 are an expanded version of what comes after death. First is "lust, blasphemy, weakness, and audacity", tending to pull one back to earth, I assume; then the heeding of God's word in Purgatory (if that's "Egyptian"), fate or destiny, the honoring of the moon goddess, the concord of the sun, rise of the spirit, and Isis at the end. (For the interpretation of Isis, see my quotes from Apueius at viewtopic.php?f=23&t=404&p=14117#p14117)

Yes, it makes some sense, much like what other researchers have found in a Christian context.
I must say that the quality of this Egyptian results does not seem to me “like what other researchers have found in a Christian context”. A first point is that a few of the tarot trumps are obviously Christian (e.g. the Pope, the Devil, Judgement), but the most important point is the overall narrative describe by the trump sequence.
I agree that the first 15 trumps represent “a picture of life” and the last 7 represent "what comes after death". But the last seven trumps appear in Christian descriptions of the end of times, such as this sybilline prophecy or the Book of Revelation, with an order which is largely consistent with the order of the tarot trumps. Also, illustrations of this subject in Christian art present the same symbols. Is there an Egyptian (or Renaissance-Egyptian) text that explains why those symbols appear in that order? Are there Egyptian images that include a significant number of these symbols?
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The Bertelli image I posted above, also somehow parallels the trump sequence. It is a Christian allegory which includes a few elements that appear in the trumps: the Pope, the Emperor, Death and Time (the Hermit), the Angel, the Devil, the resurrection of the dead. These are only examples from the many parallels that can be found in Christian art and that people like Michael Hurst and Ross Caldwell have been collecting and presenting for years.

Of course one can explain the details of the single trumps in terms of Horapollo, which basically is a dictionary of images. You can do this with any image, and get results like Kircher's translations of the hieroglyphs:
his Oedipus Aegyptiacus of 1652-4 ... detailed at length his over-interpretation of hieroglyphs, which he considered as the highly symbolic encodings of a recondite antediluvian language. For example, ‘this led him to translate simple hieroglyphic texts now known to read as […] “Osiris says” as “The treachery of Typhon ends at the throne of Isis; the moisture of nature is guarded by the vigilance of Anubis.”
But what about the meaning of the trump sequence? Horapollo cannot help us, because his text is a dictionary, not a narrative. What are the Egyptian parallels to the trump sequence?

Re: Decker's new book

#7
Ross wrote
mikeh wrote
:For me there is no question but that the card were originally Christian and also likely Petrarchan (for its name Trionfi, for its sequence of images through life and beyond, and most of all for the six stages with clear correspondences in the early Milanese cards; perhaps the "Time" card was out of sequence, I don't know). But it is with what happened next that I have been concerned.
I often wonder, then, why you do not apply your considerable talent and energy to what happened before taking flight in these futile (it seems to me) speculations. In other words, come up with an invention scenario, why the designer chose those cards, when, and what it means. An Ur-Tarot theory. Is it too boring? Have you been so colored by Huck's smoke and mirrors of slow and essentially random accretion of the standard sequence over time that it just seems too much of a mess? What is the attraction of trying to imagine what one of these humanists might possibly have seen in the Tarot trump images, if they had bothered to exegete them?
Well, I apologize for the word "originally". I shouldn't have said that. In a critique of someone's theories, my fantasies about "origins" have no place. It's an example of "my fantasies are better than your fantasies". Ur-tarots are very speculative and don't tell us what the actual cards meant in the context of the actal times for particular milieus.

Let me rephrase what I said. I think that the images we see in the early tarot, before the Cary Sheet and with the possible exception of the PMB Bagatto, come from various medieval and early Renaissance (1350-1450) sources. Somewhere between 6 and 9 of the trumps that later appeared may have been inspired by Petrarch's Trionfi. I say "6 to 9" because I'm not sure whether Time was represented by the Old Man or by the Stars, Moon, and/or Sun. These images, too, were symbolic of Time, too, and they have the virtue of being the right place in the sequence. There may have been competing images of Time, for all I know.

I think that from 3 to 7 of the trumps that later appeared come from the virtue series that we see in churches like Giotto's in Padua and illuminated manuscripts of the 14th century, the ones that sometimes have little figures at their feet symbolic of the vices they triumph over. Certainly the three virtues we see. Prudence might have been there, too, as it is in the Minchiate, but in the tarot got disguised as, or merged with, something else. Hope, Faith, and Charity appear in the Cary-Yale with the little vice figures below them.

I imagine that from 2 to 4 of the tarot trumps come from the game of "Imperator". The Emperor. The Empress as a logical complement, and probably the Pope and the Popess as a religious complement.

I have no theory about the Fool. It was already a card in Germany. The Bagatto is somehow connected to the Fool; it seems to be a new image, not seen before the tarot, but correct me if I'm wrong. The "children of the planets" are all after his appearance in the PMB, if the 1450s are its dating.

The Wheel of Fortune comes from medieval allegories and is a logical inclusion just because of the nature of games.

There are also lots of good ideas about why this or that card in the "Bianca's Garden" section of THF. Anyway, not Egypt or Middle Platonic writings about Egypt, for the earliest cards (pre-1465; except possibly the PMB Bagatto.

Exactly what these images meant in the new game of triumphs, with a bunch of these images put together in a trick-taking game, is not clear. They certainly meant what they meant in the manuscripts, churches, etc., before then. But they might have had other meanings. While I do not think that anything like the Tarot de Marseille existed in 1440, except in that the surviving cards bear some distant resemblance, that does not imply that the cards of 1440 were not given Egyptian meanings then, for their commissioners or various humanists. I say that because most of the texts that I applied to the cards in my summary/critique were available by 1430, to a select group in the right cities, and the interpretations do fit the earliest extant cards, as ways of getting at the "prisca theologica", as well as mnemonics for Middle Platonist world-views. I haven't read what the Church Fathers said about the "prisca theologia" (e.g. Augustine, Lactantius), or I'd say more. Since I don't know when, where, or for whom the tarot was invented, I can't estimate the probability of Egyptian meanings being attached to the cards 1430-1438. In 1438 Plethon gave his talks in Florence, and surely had private meetings with important people as well. He would have talked about the "prisca theologia", since it is in his edition of the Chaldean Oracles (written long before, since he was old in 1438; I am going by Hankins here; I have not re-read Woodhouse's translations yet). Filelfo probably would have been exposed to it during his years in Constantinople, and Alberti was likely espousing it by then. It seems to me that Plethon's presence would have provided an impetus for such meanings being considered in a game with allegorical cards, and maybe even an impetus for the game's popularity. It may even have influenced the order of the cards and the rules of the game. So in Florence, Milan, and probably Ferrara and Bologna (where Filelfo taught in 1438), there is some small reason to suspect such interpretations, even of very traditional looking cards, by 1440, getting more likely as time goes on.

I could write my fantasies about tarot origins, but they are built on questionable inferences. I haven't seen any ur-tarots that aren't. It may be worth writing down such fantasies, as long as they are not treated as founded on established fact, I don't know. People might know facts that would make the fantasies more or less plausible, I suppose. But probably I would just get confronted with other people's fantasies presented as though they were sound inferences. I am always interested in knowing more about the origins of tarot. I say, the more fantasies the better. So maybe I'll take you up on your proposal and start a thread "tarot origin fantasies: teapots welcome".

Ross wrote, about why the humanists didn't write esoteric exegeses of tarot cards
The fact is, they didn't. Filelfo, Alberti, Cyriac, Bessarion, even up to Pico della MIrandola and Ficino, wrote A LOT, and they didn't write a word about this card game. That absence of evidence is pretty strong evidence of absence - absence of interest on their part for what they can only have seen as a common card game, if they knew of it at all. The images are conventional and contemporary - no need to endow them with the aura of the Prisca Theologia, as occultists from Antoine Court de Gébelin onward have tried to do (he, unlike those men of the 15th century, was unfamiliar with the iconography Italian towns and churches were awash with).
There are many reasons why they wouldn't write down Egyptianate interpretations.The deck might have gotten shut down by the Church (well, by their polite requests to the Temporal Arm) if they did, for one thing. They threatened to often enough. And they may have succeeded, or else why would we see French cards being imported later? For the humanists, it would have been a useful teaching aid, and a motive for people to study these texts they loved so much--as well a motive for hiring humanists to instruct them. Also, there was the idea that the meanings of good symbols were inexhaustible; so why limit them?. And it was just bad form; Alberti had written about how the symbols were not meant for the masses (who would not understand them anyway) but for the wise in every age, who would be able to figure them out. And the wise in every age would see them in their own way. That way they would be living symbols, continually reinvented, not dead mnemonics for abstruse texts. That would have been a bit optimistic, given the way the earliest tarot looks. So they made a few changes.

Thanks for the link to information about Cyriaco, Ross. I'll read it.

I will get to Marco's post after I've thought about it a bit.

Re: Decker's new book

#8
Thanks, Marco, good questions. Yes, left a lot out. I was just trying to show the relevance of Horapollo and other material relating to Egypt. I will try again. Perhaps we can just focus on a few cards that you addressed in particular, e.g.
But the last seven trumps appear in Christian descriptions of the end of times, such as this sybilline prophecy or the Book of Revelation, with an order which is largely consistent with the order of the tarot trumps. Also, illustrations of this subject in Christian art present the same symbols. Is there an Egyptian (or Renaissance-Egyptian) text that explains why those symbols appear in that order? Are there Egyptian images that include a significant number of these symbols?
The order of images is set by the Christian framework, not the ancient Egypt-related sources.The sources, and the cards as a mnemonic of the sources, attempt to reframe and amplify the Christian framework into what was thought to be a pre-Christian precursor, the "prisca theologia" of which Plethon, Filelfo, Ficino, etc. spoke, but which is really just Middle Platonism. Obviously you can only put so much into one card. In general, the top part of the card is Christian, the bottom Middle Platonic using Egyptian imagery.

So we have a Devil, a lightning-struck tower, a star, a moon, and a sun as the Christian framework, as signs of the impending rebirth of the soul in the New Jerusalem. How are these to be reframed, in the context of cards that have evolved from the Milan base, but not including the 2nd artist PMB?

I am not aware of Christian Revelation-inspired art that has the imagery of what is below the Star and Moon of the Tarot de Marseille/Cary sheet images. They seem in part to be drawn from medieval astrological imagery, but even there the parallels are not precise. Just to focus on the Star card: medieval imagery does not have an Aquarius so androgynous, nor with two jugs, nor pouring into a body of water while standing on the land. If there is a star on the Water-carrier's shoulder, it is usually clearly a star in the sky pertaining to the constellation. That is not the case. And the stars above are not those of the constellation Aquarius.

So what is being communicated? Part of the answer is dealt with in Andrea's essay "The Astral Origin of the Soul," http://www.associazioneletarot.it/page.aspx?id=197, applying Porphyry and Plutarch to these cards. He does a good job of presenting the basic ideas. But his essay does not do enough. I wrote a draft of a supplement to Andrea's essay a while back, to perhaps put as another "host essay", to explain how the cards form a sequence, going from one to the next, leading dynamically from one to the next the stages that Andrea describes in a static way. I still haven't gotten all my quotes from Plutarch lined up in that essay. And now that I have read Decker and Horapollo, I will have to expand it some more.

In Plutarch, the soul after death rises through a region between the earth and the moon called "Hades", within which are devilish demons who try to hold the soul down so that when it is reborn, it will be into a low form of humanity, perhaps even an animal. That is what is on the Devil card, beautifully in the Tarot de Marseille, but also in the Cary Sheet, with its stick picking up souls like garbage. The soul's life, both before and after rebirth, if it remains there, will be Hell. It also corresponds to times in this present life in which one is bound to the demons of lust, blasphemy, arrogance that covers weakness, and so on, as Horapollo's deciphering of the animals indicates. The Egyptian image I used in addition is that of captives led by nooses held by the Seth-animal. In the 16th century they would have been able to recognize the Seth-animal as such, because it had a donkey's ears. So you see what is going on, in the perspective I am talking about, is the insertion of Egyptianate imagery, from Horapollo and possibly an above-ground stele near Cairo, into a Middle Platonic version of the Christian Hell. In this case the result is not that different from traditional Christian imagery of the same thing. The only thing in the Tarot de Marseille I don't recognize from Christian art is a devil on one level binding with nooses the souls on a lower level. Perhaps you know of such a thing.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... erSeth.JPG

The lightning-struck tower is a Christian image of the warnings that God gives to give us a chance to repent. In Middle Platonism, it is the working of providence through the demons to allow the soul to be purified and rise further. In the Cary Sheet it seems to be already in the end-times, when various disasters strike, caused by God as a warning to sinners. In the TdMI there seems to be imagery referring to Egypt: there are Egyptian-looking hats falling off the two persons. In this case I found nothing in Horapollo; Decker, too, could only invoke Christian Purgatory. Indeed, that is one way of describing the scene in Christian terms. Instead, I turned to Herodotus, as I described in my post about card 16, about two evil invaders of Egypt, blasphemers in high places. The king dies in consequence and the second in command confesses his crimes and jumps off a tower to his death. In this life it corresponds to an emergency that awakens us to the evil within us. On the Schoen horoscope, this concept is alluded to in its picture of a man in a hospital bed being visited by others. In adversity and in danger of dying, he has the chance to turn to God for forgiveness.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... sBalog.JPG

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... dHeron.jpg

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... vSchon.JPG

The Star card depicts the next stage in the soul's journey after death, which corresponds also to its journey in this life. In Christianity I see this star as the "bright morning star" of Christ's second comng. In Middle Platonism, this corresponds to the opening of the opportunity to transcend fate by means of providence. Fate chains one to the cosmos, providence enables one to rise above it. In Porphyry's "Cave of the Nymphs", there are the two gates, one leading down to earth and the other up to the gods. In Dante's Purgatorio, at the top of Mt. Purgatory is a spring with two streams flowing from it. Dante must drink from both to enter Paradise. In Plato's Myth of Er, there was only one jug, and the path led only to our world again. Porphyry is improving upon Plato to make a Platonic point, and Dante follows. In the Cary Sheet, we have the two vessels being poured by the young person. In the Room of Psyche at Mantua, there is the nymph with the two vessels, and two bodies of water, one a stream going down, the other a lake at the same level of the gods. This parallels the Cave of the Nymphs. It is a river nymph, to be sure, and on one level corresponds somehow to the geography and governance of Mantua , but this is a room full of Middle Platonism-inspired allegories about the rise of the soul to divine status. In the Cary Sheet card, it is a matter of Egyptian imagery being added to the scene of the two streams. Now I can insert what I wrote in my post:
A star, Decker notes from Horapollo, means fate, certainly a good Hermetic concept. On a deeper level, on the Cary Sheet we have one big star over four smaller ones, or five if you include the one on the lady's shoulder (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... Sothis.jpg). That might. it seems to me, represent the transcendence of fate by means of Providence, assuming that the lady is Venus, a manifestation of Isis in Apuleius. Horapollo says "And among them Isis is a star, called Sothis by the Egyptians, by the Greeks the Dog-Star, which appears to rule over the other stars." Plutarch calls it both Isis and "Isis' water-carrier" (On Isis and Osiris XXI, XXXVIII) and the herald of the Nile flood, which we see pouring in two vessels, one on the side of a mountain and the other on the side of a hill. In Africa, the Nile is formed by the conjunction of two rivers; the White Nile flows slowly and picks up rich clay;, the Blue Nile comes in a torrent in the summer from the Ethiopian rains. The clay wouldn't get to the fields without the torrent. The allegory might be that for rebirth attention is needed both to the body (slow) and the spirit (torrent).
In Apuleius, Isis is the goddess of the transcendence of fate, as my long quote of the lecture given Lucius by the priest (which I cited on the World thread, viewtopic.php?f=23&t=404&start=140#p14117, makes clear.

By the 15th century, such an allegory can be amplified in terms of Dante. There one stream distances him from the demons in himself whom he has seen vividly thus far in the journey, by causing him to forget his sins; the other stream causes him to remember his good deeds, and thus be conscious of enough merit to at least visit Heaven. It is his Christian completion of Plato's "Myth of Er", which had only the drink of Forgetting without that of Remembering. It corresponds very much to the two jugs in Mantua and on the Cary Sheet star card.

In Ptolemaic Egypt itself there are the Dendera zodiacs, whose Aquariuses correspond precisely to the Cary Sheet card. I said:
To judge when the Egyptianizing influence might have come to the tarot, one indicator might be the switch, for a while, from one-jugged Aquariuses to two, and a feminizing of the figure so that it is sexually ambiguous The reason is that in the Dendera zodiacs, above ground on a trade-route since Greco-Roman times, Aquarius is shown with two jugs and sexually ambiguous (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... ETNota.jpg, http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... r2Nota.JPG). That might have induced the change. I see an Italian Aquarius, c. 1475, that fits this description (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... hHours.jpg), and a zodiac in Troyes of 1497 as well (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... zodiac.JPG). The 1497 zodiac will be of interest for the Sun card as well; the Dendera zodiacs relate to both the Moon and Sun cards, as we shall see.
Finally, in the Tarot de Marseille there is the replacement of the Cary Sheet's mountain in the background with a bird on a tree. A phoenix is what fits the allegory, and similar depictions of it are shown in 1600 Paris. This is clearly a late addition to the card. Yet again the symbolism is expressed by Horapollo.
In the Tarot de Marseille, the hills and mountains become trees, and a bird is added (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... olChos.jpg). The bird faces right, the direction of the rising sun, and has its wings spread. That is a description of the Phoenix, one that particularly fits the frontispiece to the French translation of the Hyperotomachia, c. 1600 (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PMRBwK9y-M0/T ... eauLGE.jpg). Horapollo talks about the Phoenix three times. The most relevant passage is at II, 35. I highlight the most relevant words:
When they wish to indicate a long-enduring restoration, they draw the phoenix. For when this bird is born, there is a renewal of things. And it is born in this way. When the phoenix is about to die, it casts itself upon the ground and is crushed. And from the icho pouring out of the wound, anther is born. And this one immediately sprouts wings and flies off with its to Heliopolis in Egypt and once there, at the rising of the sun, the sire dies. And with the death of the sire, the young one returns to its own country. And the Egyptian priests bury the dead phoenix.
The phoenix is also connected with the rising of the Nile. I, 34, says that among other things the phoenix symbolizes a "a flood, since the phoenix is the symbol of the sun, than which nothing in the universe is greater." I, 35 elaborates:
And whatever the Egyptians do in the case of the other sacred animals, the same do they feel obliged to do for the phoenix. For it is said by the Egyptians beyond all other birds to cherish the sun, wherefore the Nile overflows for them because of the warmth of this god, concerning which we have spoken a little above.
I have read somewhere that one reason for the connection of the sun with the flood is that occurs in the month of Leo (which of course is Greek, but we are dealing with Greco-Roman Egypt).
So the phoenix, like the star, is a harbinger of the resurrection, which in Egypt is symbolized by the Nile flood, as the next card expounds further.

The Moon is the card that draws the most from Plutarch, although the symbolism of the karabos, pictured as a crayfish, is expounded by Horapollo. Is the crayfish a symbol in the accounts of the end-days? I am not aware of any. It is again a matter of amplifying Revelation's image of the greater light of the Moon, indicating there that the final days are getting closer. The cards amplify within a Middle Platonic framework drawing again on imagery from Horapollo, as well as other sources. I could go on, the imagery of the towers, etc. (even the eclipse, although I think that's in the Christian antecedents), is really interesting. but I hope that you are getting the method in my madness.

Re: Decker's new book

#9
mikeh wrote: The order of images is set by the Christian framework, not the ancient Egypt-related sources.
Hello Mike,
this is a strong statement. It seems to say that these Egyptian hypothesis has nothing to say about the sequence of the cards, and so the relation between them. So, the contribution of this stuff is going to be minimal in any case. I would have expected Decker to devote is attention to the core of the philosophy that originated Tarot, instead of these speculation that are marginal in the best case and irrelevant in the worst.
mikeh wrote: In general, the top part of the card is Christian, the bottom Middle Platonic using Egyptian imagery.
I am not sure I understand what you mean by “in general”. Which of the 22 cards are Christian in the upper part and not-Christian in the lower part? This pattern seems to me limited to the Star, Moon and Sun sequence, in which the upper part represents the main subject corresponding to the name of the card, and the lower part a secondary meaning. I would not say this is true “in general”.
mikeh wrote: So we have a Devil, a lightning-struck tower, a star, a moon, and a sun as the Christian framework, as signs of the impending rebirth of the soul in the New Jerusalem.
Good, we agree on the essence of the primary meaning of this part of the trump sequence!
mikeh wrote: I am not aware of Christian Revelation-inspired art that has the imagery of what is below the Star and Moon of the Tarot de Marseille/Cary sheet images. They seem in part to be drawn from medieval astrological imagery, but even there the parallels are not precise. Just to focus on the Star card: medieval imagery does not have an Aquarius so androgynous, nor with two jugs, nor pouring into a body of water while standing on the land. If there is a star on the Water-carrier's shoulder, it is usually clearly a star in the sky pertaining to the constellation. That is not the case. And the stars above are not those of the constellation Aquarius.
I agree with your first statement. I disagree on the second, since it is true that the figure in the Star card is an anomalous Aquarius, but the lower part of Tarot de Marseille Moon cards is astrologically sound. This is an image I received from Michael Hurst a few years ago:
l300.jpg
l300.jpg (66.56 KiB) Viewed 16539 times
Don't you think that the secondary elements of the Tarot de Marseille moon card are easily explained in terms of Western astrological imagery? Exactly, which features are explained by Egypt? If I compare the above image with the Cary-Sheet, I find all the features: the Moon (the main subject), the body of water and the Cancer sign (the most important secondary elements), the two towers (the lesser secondary elements).
Can you show a Renaissance-Egyptian image which is a better match for the Cary-Sheet Moon card?
mikeh wrote:Part of the answer is dealt with in Andrea's essay "The Astral Origin of the Soul," http://www.associazioneletarot.it/page.aspx?id=197, applying Porphyry and Plutarch to these cards. He does a good job of presenting the basic ideas. But his essay does not do enough. I wrote a draft of a supplement to Andrea's essay a while back, to perhaps put as another "host essay", to explain how the cards form a sequence, going from one to the next, leading dynamically from one to the next the stages that Andrea describes in a static way. I still haven't gotten all my quotes from Plutarch lined up in that essay. And now that I have read Decker and Horapollo, I will have to expand it some more.

In Plutarch, the soul after death rises through a region between the earth and the moon called "Hades", within which are devilish demons who try to hold the soul down so that when it is reborn, it will be into a low form of humanity, perhaps even an animal. That is what is on the Devil card, beautifully in the Tarot de Marseille, but also in the Cary Sheet, with its stick picking up souls like garbage. The soul's life, both before and after rebirth, if it remains there, will be Hell. It also corresponds to times in this present life in which one is bound to the demons of lust, blasphemy, arrogance that covers weakness, and so on, as Horapollo's deciphering of the animals indicates. The Egyptian image I used in addition is that of captives led by nooses held by the Seth-animal. In the 16th century they would have been able to recognize the Seth-animal as such, because it had a donkey's ears. So you see what is going on, in the perspective I am talking about, is the insertion of Egyptianate imagery, from Horapollo and possibly an above-ground stele near Cairo, into a Middle Platonic version of the Christian Hell. In this case the result is not that different from traditional Christian imagery of the same thing. The only thing in the Tarot de Marseille I don't recognize from Christian art is a devil on one level binding with nooses the souls on a lower level. Perhaps you know of such a thing.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... erSeth.JPG
I have read Vitali's essay and your expansion, but I don't understand exactly what these add to the Christian imagery of the Devil, also in the Tarot de Marseille variant. It seems to me that this 12th century capital posted by Fauvelus a few years ago is a far better analog than Seth. Higher resolution image here. The capital is in a church in Issoire, more or less halfway between Paris (where the Noblet was printed) and Marseille.

Image


If I compare this capital with the Noblet and Conver cards, it looks to me much more similar than the Seth image. Basically, only the antlers of the captives and the pedestal of the Devil are missing. On the other hand, not only the Egyptian image has no antlers and no pedestal, but Seth is completely different from a Devil (wingless and Ibis headed). Moreover (though this question is completely irrelevant, I'm just curious) is it reasonable to assume that this image of Seth was known in the XVII century?
mikeh wrote:The lightning-struck tower is a Christian image of the warnings that God gives to give us a chance to repent. In Middle Platonism, it is the working of providence through the demons to allow the soul to be purified and rise further. In the Cary Sheet it seems to be already in the end-times, when various disasters strike, caused by God as a warning to sinners. In the TdMI there seems to be imagery referring to Egypt: there are Egyptian-looking hats falling off the two persons. In this case I found nothing in Horapollo; Decker, too, could only invoke Christian Purgatory. Indeed, that is one way of describing the scene in Christian terms. Instead, I turned to Herodotus, as I described in my post about card 16, about two evil invaders of Egypt, blasphemers in high places. The king dies in consequence and the second in command confesses his crimes and jumps off a tower to his death. In this life it corresponds to an emergency that awakens us to the evil within us. On the Schoen horoscope, this concept is alluded to in its picture of a man in a hospital bed being visited by others. In adversity and in danger of dying, he has the chance to turn to God for forgiveness.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... sBalog.JPG

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... dHeron.jpg

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... vSchon.JPG
I am sorry, I don't follow you. I have no idea of what Egyptian-looking hats are, and Shoen's illustration of the 6th House seems to me completely unrelated to the Tower.
mikeh wrote:The Star card depicts the next stage in the soul's journey after death, which corresponds also to its journey in this life.
“Next” with respect to what? Is the Christian ordering also relevant for the Egyptian theory? Would it be possible to have a brief summary of a single text in which this Egyptian order is described?
mikeh wrote:In Christianity I see this star as the "bright morning star" of Christ's second comng.[/url]

This is an interpretation that has been proposed, but in my opinion this already is a secondary meaning. The primary meaning can simply be “the stars”, as part of the signs in the sky that announce the end of times.
mikeh wrote:In Middle Platonism, this corresponds to the opening of the opportunity to transcend fate by means of providence. Fate chains one to the cosmos, providence enables one to rise above it. In Porphyry's "Cave of the Nymphs", there are the two gates, one leading down to earth and the other up to the gods. In Dante's Purgatorio, at the top of Mt. Purgatory is a spring with two streams flowing from it. Dante must drink from both to enter Paradise. In Plato's Myth of Er, there was only one jug, and the path led only to our world again. Porphyry is improving upon Plato to make a Platonic point, and Dante follows. In the Cary Sheet, we have the two vessels being poured by the young person. In the Room of Psyche at Mantua, there is the nymph with the two vessels, and two bodies of water, one a stream going down, the other a lake at the same level of the gods. This parallels the Cave of the Nymphs. It is a river nymph, to be sure, and on one level corresponds somehow to the geography and governance of Mantua , but this is a room full of Middle Platonism-inspired allegories about the rise of the soul to divine status. In the Cary Sheet card, it is a matter of Egyptian imagery being added to the scene of the two streams. Now I can insert what I wrote in my post:
A star, Decker notes from Horapollo, means fate, certainly a good Hermetic concept. On a deeper level, on the Cary Sheet we have one big star over four smaller ones, or five if you include the one on the lady's shoulder (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... Sothis.jpg). That might. it seems to me, represent the transcendence of fate by means of Providence, assuming that the lady is Venus, a manifestation of Isis in Apuleius. Horapollo says "And among them Isis is a star, called Sothis by the Egyptians, by the Greeks the Dog-Star, which appears to rule over the other stars." Plutarch calls it both Isis and "Isis' water-carrier" (On Isis and Osiris XXI, XXXVIII) and the herald of the Nile flood, which we see pouring in two vessels, one on the side of a mountain and the other on the side of a hill. In Africa, the Nile is formed by the conjunction of two rivers; the White Nile flows slowly and picks up rich clay;, the Blue Nile comes in a torrent in the summer from the Ethiopian rains. The clay wouldn't get to the fields without the torrent. The allegory might be that for rebirth attention is needed both to the body (slow) and the spirit (torrent).
In Apuleius, Isis is the goddess of the transcendence of fate, as my long quote of the lecture given Lucius by the priest (which I cited on the World thread, viewtopic.php?f=23&t=404&start=140#p14117, makes clear.

By the 15th century, such an allegory can be amplified in terms of Dante. There one stream distances him from the demons in himself whom he has seen vividly thus far in the journey, by causing him to forget his sins; the other stream causes him to remember his good deeds, and thus be conscious of enough merit to at least visit Heaven. It is his Christian completion of Plato's "Myth of Er", which had only the drink of Forgetting without that of Remembering. It corresponds very much to the two jugs in Mantua and on the Cary Sheet star card.

In Ptolemaic Egypt itself there are the Dendera zodiacs, whose Aquariuses correspond precisely to the Cary Sheet card. I said:
To judge when the Egyptianizing influence might have come to the tarot, one indicator might be the switch, for a while, from one-jugged Aquariuses to two, and a feminizing of the figure so that it is sexually ambiguous The reason is that in the Dendera zodiacs, above ground on a trade-route since Greco-Roman times, Aquarius is shown with two jugs and sexually ambiguous (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... ETNota.jpg, http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... r2Nota.JPG). That might have induced the change. I see an Italian Aquarius, c. 1475, that fits this description (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... hHours.jpg), and a zodiac in Troyes of 1497 as well (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... zodiac.JPG). The 1497 zodiac will be of interest for the Sun card as well; the Dendera zodiacs relate to both the Moon and Sun cards, as we shall see.

I don't know. I find this too verbose and very complex. A while ago I posted this fragment from “Mondo Simbolico” by Filippo Picinelli:

Aquarius, a sign of the Zodiac, represented while pouring water from urns, is represented with motto “numquam deficient” [never lacking]. It can be applied to the mercy and benefits from God, which are always poured without failing and in abundance to the advantage of the world.

The above explanation seems to me easier to understand than the Egyptian hypothesis about Nymphs etc. But I understand that this is basically a matter of personal taste. The secondary meaning of the Tarot de Marseille Star card is one of the toughest element in tarot imagery: for our discussion we should focus on what is easier to explain.

Finally, in the Tarot de Marseille there is the replacement of the Cary Sheet's mountain in the background with a bird on a tree. A phoenix is what fits the allegory, and similar depictions of it are shown in 1600 Paris. This is clearly a late addition to the card. Yet again the symbolism is expressed by Horapollo.
In the Tarot de Marseille, the hills and mountains become trees, and a bird is added (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... olChos.jpg). The bird faces right, the direction of the rising sun, and has its wings spread. That is a description of the Phoenix, one that particularly fits the frontispiece to the French translation of the Hyperotomachia, c. 1600 (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PMRBwK9y-M0/T ... eauLGE.jpg).
In the images you linked, Noblet has no bird, Dodal has a bird with closed wings, Chosson a bird with partially spread wings. In the Hypnerotomachia, the Phoenix appears with its typical attributes: the Sun and Fire: none of the two appears in the Tarot de Marseille. There is absolutely no reason to assume that this little black bird is a Phoenix.

The Apocalypse illumination I previously posted features similar birds:
birds.jpg
birds.jpg (43.4 KiB) Viewed 16539 times
Are they Phoenixes too? Exactly, what are the differences between these birds and the Tarot de Marseille birds?
A Phoenix from a XVI Century Horapollo can be seen here. I cannot see any resemblance with those other birds.
mikeh wrote:The Moon is the card that draws the most from Plutarch, although the symbolism of the karabos, pictured as a crayfish, is expounded by Horapollo. Is the crayfish a symbol in the accounts of the end-days?
Nope. In this case the secondary astrological meaning seems to simply clarify the main meaning, making the identification of the card as the Moon clearer, by associating to it the obvious astrological symbol of the zodiacal sign ruled by the Moon.
mikeh wrote:It is again a matter of amplifying Revelation's image of the greater light of the Moon, indicating there that the final days are getting closer. The cards amplify within a Middle Platonic framework drawing again on imagery from Horapollo, as well as other sources. I could go on, the imagery of the towers, etc. (even the eclipse, although I think that's in the Christian antecedents), is really interesting. but I hope that you are getting the method in my madness.
I am not sure. All the elements are in the 1460 astrological image above. What is the need of Horapollo here?

Re: Decker's new book

#10
Marco wrote,
mikeh wrote:
The order of images is set by the Christian framework, not the ancient Egypt-related sources.
Hello Mike,
this is a strong statement. It seems to say that these Egyptian hypothesis has nothing to say about the sequence of the cards, and so the relation between them.
Yes, you're right, Marco, it is too strong a statement. What I should have said is that Horapollo and the other sources of Egypt-related images that I mentioned have nothing necessarily to say about the sequence of the cards, and so on the relation between them. Yes, Horapollo etc. are just a dictionary. Images in other texts may have relationships to other images in those or other texts, and the tarot may be able to use those relationships. That is another question, which I have not addressed.

It is not an "Egyptian hypothesis"; it is a Middle Platonic/Hermetic hypothesis in which Egyptian images play a role. In chapter 5 , Decker discusses how certain Pythagorean-oriented texts, mainly Pythagorean, shape the sequence. These texts have nothing to do with Egypt per se, except that Pythagoras was said in many ancient sources to have learned his doctrines from the Egyptians. Thank you for pointing out my error, Marco. It comes from my persistent unconscious assumption that the cards started out Christian/Petrarchan. I have no business using such an assumption in an evaluation of Decker, who plainly rejects it.

Maybe I should say what the topics are in the rest of the book. Chapter 5 is Pythagorean, "numinous numbers", he calls it, about the order of the trumps. Chapter 6 is astrology "astral archetypes", using Manilus. Chapter 7, "sacred symmetries", is about relationships among cards. (Chapter 4 was "hidden hieroglyphs.) Then in Chapters 8-9 he discusses Etteilla and his immediate followers; Chapter 10 is about "Cards and Kabbalah". In 11 he relates Kabbalah to the words Etteilla associates to his number cards. 12 is his conclusion and summary.

The topics dovetail very much with my own interests, except that I could never figure out how to relate astrology to the historical tarot. So you can see why I wanted to discuss it.

Marco wrote,
I am not sure I understand what you mean by “in general”
The context is the last seven cards. For the "Egyptian hypothesis"--Middle Platonic with Egyptian imagery--what is important are the little figures, the guys at the bottom of the Tower with their hats, the whole scene beneath the big star of the Star card, the scene beneath the Moon on the Moon card, the scene beneath the Sun on the Sun card, and the scene with the three people on the Judgment card. The World card doesn't divide that way. I haven't thought about the other cards.

Marco wrote, re the image (click on the link) download/file.php?id=1175
Don't you think that the secondary elements of the Tarot de Marseille moon card are easily explained in terms of Western astrological imagery? Exactly, which features are explained by Egypt? If I compare the above image with the Cary-Sheet, I find all the features: the Moon (the main subject), the body of water and the Cancer sign (the most important secondary elements), the two towers (the lesser secondary elements). Can you show a Renaissance-Egyptian image which is a better match for the Cary-Sheet Moon card?
I didn't talk much about the Moon card. It is not easy to explain the Middle Platonist perspective relative to it. I will try to do so using one Middle Platonist text at the end of this post. It is not a question of matching images. It is a question of matching symbols. I do not know whether the towers in the two illustrations are similar or not until I know the symbolism. Artists routinely copied images from one context into another. Also, the crayfish in the "children of the moon" picture is not in the water, as it is on the card and in Horapollo, symbolically important. Also, there is a large full moon on the card suggestive of an eclipse, which Dodal and Conver seemed to understand (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... odCon3.jpg. I also see what look like obelisks (or big plants), a temple, and crocodiles on the shore of the lake (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... detNot.jpg). One crocodile is holding something in his mouth, Conver puts something like it in the crayfish's claws (see enlarged detail). All these things are symbolically important and not in the "children of the moon" picture. The Moon card is difficult to explain from a Middle Platonist perspective. I'll skip the Moon for now and get back to it at the end. Even then,I won't deal with some aspects, like the thing in the crayfish's claws. That would take too long.

Marco wrote, about the 12th century capital showing the devil with ropes around his captives (http://www.art-roman.net/issoire/issoire31.jpg),
I compare this capital with the Noblet and Conver cards, it looks to me much more similar than the Seth image. Basically, only the antlers of the captives and the pedestal of the Devil are missing. On the other hand, not only the Egyptian image has no antlers and no pedestal, but Seth is completely different from a Devil (wingless and Ibis headed). Moreover (though this question is completely irrelevant, I'm just curious) is it reasonable to assume that this image of Seth was known in the XVII century?
Good, the one you showed is a Christian version of the image (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... erSeth.JPG). The horns on the small figures have yet to be accounted for (I'll get to them). Seth has a donkey's ears and something like a donkey's snout, somewhat similar to the Devil's, but mostly related to the stories about Seth/Typhon in Plutarch and Diodorus. There's no ibis, which would be Thoth. The parallel to the Egyptian image simply emphasizes the Egyptian religion as a precursor to Christianity, closer to the "prisca theologia", and perhaps emphasizes the place of evil in the Middle Platonic perspective, as discussed by Plutarch and others. I don't know if the capital alone explains the card or not. Simplicity might not have been the main consideration; ambiguity might have been. So the change in the design might have been induced by both images, a happy coincidence that resulted in the Tarot de Marseille card.

Card designers probably would have known this image by the 17th century, even the 16th, although I have no direct evidence. It was on an above-ground causeway in Sakkara (sorry, I can't find the reference; maybe the library dumped the book; they do that); Sakkara is 30 km from Cairo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saqqara). It is a vast mine of mummies, which 16th century Europeans dug up by the shipload, as "medicine" (http://www.artinsociety.com/the-life-an ... brown.html):
By the 16th century, despite legal restrictions, exporting mummies from Egypt to Europe to be ground up and used as “medicine” was big business – what Fagan describes as “a flourishing trade in human flesh”[8]. Collection and distribution businesses were established and, since large profits were to be made, many foreigners – English, Spanish, French, German and others – began to trade in mummies, exporting complete bodies or packages of fragmented tissue from Cairo and Alexandria [9]. In his History of Egyptian Mummies, Thomas Pettigrew commented, “No sooner was it credited that mummy constituted an article of value in the practice of medicine than many speculators embarked in the trade; the tombs were sacked, and as many mummies as could be obtained were broken into pieces for the purpose of sale”[10]. Both locals and visitors dug up tombs and transported mummy to Cairo, where, as recorded by Abdel Latif, “it is sold for a trifle. For half a dirhem I purchased three heads filled with the substance”[11].

At least a few of these Europeans must have been interested in the ancient Egyptian art all around them.

Meanwhile, in their studies, scholars knew all about Seth, the Egyptian equivalent of the Devil, whose color, according to Plutarch was red (I'll give the quote later). Kircher claimed to know the Egyptian hieroglyph for Seth (also called Typhon) (http://echoesofegypt.peabody.yale.edu/e ... aegyptiaci). He may have correctly identified the hieroglyph for Osiris. He went to Egypt once to rob tombs.

Marco wrote, about my exposition of the Tower:
I am sorry, I don't follow you. I have no idea of what Egyptian-looking hats are, and Shoen's illustration of the 6th House seems to me completely unrelated to the Tower.
Sorry. I meant the "white crown" of the pharaoh, on reliefs all over Egypt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharaoh); if that's not enough, it was also Osiris's crown, minus some plumes, again a popular image (e.g. http://newsdesk.si.edu/photos/eternal-l ... ris-statue), especially in necropolises, since he was the judge of the dead. As far as the relationship to Schoen, it depends on what I said in the part you didn't understand. I'll get back to it from another angle later in this post.

Marco, wrote
“Next” with respect to what? Is the Christian ordering also relevant for the Egyptian theory? Would it be possible to have a brief summary of a single text in which this Egyptian order is described?
The ordering is the same C order whether Christian or Middle Platonic. The ordering is what Decker talks about in chapters 5 and 7, as I say. There isn't one single text. Plutarch's "On the Face in the Orb of the Moon" is the closest fit I know of conceptually for the end part, covering the sequence from Death to World in order, in chapters 27-30. There's no reference to Egypt, so the symbolism in Horapollo etc. then has to be related to that. There is a similar implied sequence in his "On Isis and Osiris" which does relate to Egypt. I'll get to these later in the post.

I don't know if I can do "brief"; my summary of Decker's "Egyptian" arguments was about 4 or 5 times longer than his own presentation. Unfortunately the concepts, while not strange in the Renaissance, seem strange now. The Moon essay of Plutarch's provides a Middle Platonic framework. One then has to fit Egyptian imagery in, some of it from the other essay. For the Middle Platonists, there were multiple valid mythic images, across cultures. Horapollo fits into that. It's not simple. Many of the most important humanists enjoyed the complexity of integrating and applying a variety of Middle Platonist and later texts in a contemporary context, such as philosophy, poetry, medicine, satires, plays, architecture, illustrated novels, etc. I see every reason to suppose that the "etc." would have included one of their patrons' most popular games.

Marco wrote
In the images you linked, Noblet has no bird, Dodal has a bird with closed wings, Chosson a bird with partially spread wings. In the Hypnerotomachia, the Phoenix appears with its typical attributes: the Sun and Fire: none of the two appears in the Tarot de Marseille. There is absolutely no reason to assume that this little black bird is a Phoenix.
I was only talking about the Chosson/Conver. It is just a little touch that they added, as part of the overall theme. Nobody could possibly put in the background of a woodcut card a bird like the engraved one you linked to. Black is just the easiest color for anything small on a woodcut; the stenciling process would mess up other colors. The phoenix was not always shown sitting on a fire. I linked to a well-known picture of one on the frontispiece of the French Hypnerotomachia, 1600, in the last sentence of the quote from me you are commenting on (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tRUHOn7VuNE/T ... 300det.jpg). On the card you don't see the sun, but east is to the right and the bird is facing east, for the sunrise, as part of its legend, and it would come to mind given the rest of the picture (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... s.jpg).The birds you show in your next comment don't have their wings out part-way, and are not facing the East in particular. They are just sitting there. Also, they are not a pair. If there is ever more than one phoenix at a time (texts differ; usually there is just one), they are father and son. There are no females that I can find. The bird in the air in your picture is more phoenix-like; the trumpeter is symbolically similar to the sun (download/file.php?id=1170). But without other indictors, such as an Egyptianate or Hermetic framework there's no reason to make that attribution.

Marco wrote,about the Moon card
I am not sure. All the elements are in the 1460 astrological image above. What is the need of Horapollo here?

I have suggested that it is not a matter of anybody's need, but of a humanist desire to (a) show off one's Greek and Latn erudition; (b) understand something of the "prisca theologia" before Christianity; and (c) relate the cards to one's own philosophical understanding and that of classical authors that one is fascinated with. It is that historical context I am looking at the cards in. Do you object to that context?

THE MOON CARD AND THE SEQUENCE FROM DEATH TO WORLD IN THE CONTEXT OF PLUTARCH

So now the Moon card. Well, let me review. In the Cary Sheet I see a lake in front of a temple, obelisks (there were always two in the context of a temple) doubling as plants, crocodiles on the edge of the lake with something in one of their mouths, and a giant p giant crayfish (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... detNot.jpg). Egyptians tended to put lakes next to their temples, and the Romans who imitated the Egyptians, such as Hadrian at his villa, did likewise; there it's called the Canopus, very pretty. All these details have Egyptian significance, and Horapollo comes in to interpret the crocodiles and the korobos (for him a scarab). There is a moon with a prominent face, possibly partially covering the sun, as in an eclipse, more clearly represented in some Tarot de Marseille cards. There are two dogs, or a dog and a wolf, in the Tarot de Marseille. And what seem like multicolored drops emanating from the object or objects in the sky.This is still symbolism, even though not perhaps Egyptian.

The "children of the planets" image is quite different (download/file.php?id=1175). The moon is hardly visible, just a crescent hiding the lady's sex. And it has much other moon-symbolism pertaining to the moon that the designer of the cards did not see fit to put in. Instead he had a huge crayfish and some Egyptian-looking things. The Tarot de Marseille doesn't have some of the symbols of the Cary Sheet, but it does have other symbols not in the "children" picture: the animals, drops, and the apparent eclipse with a full moon (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... odCon3.jpg). Anyway, it is a matter of whether the symbolism is the same, not the images. For example, is the symbolism of the towers the same? For that you need to know more, especially what the Roman numerals I and II mean on the "children" tower. There is also the context. The "children" picture is one of a series of seven; as far as I can tell from looking at them, the order is not important. The Moon card is one of a series of 22, in a specific order.

I invite us to see the card, and in fact the whole sequence starting with Death, in terms of Plutarch, On the face in the orb of the moon Chapters 27-30, the very end of the book. Plutarch's Moralia was available in Greek, but not Latin that I know of, in the 15th century. One would think that the details would be in the essay "The Manuscript Tradition of Plutarch Moralia 70-7" by G. R. Manton (Classical Quarterly 1949), but they aren't, other than "1302" for the whole Moralia, perhaps in Greece, and "15th century", for the basis of the Aldine Greek edition of 1509. The essay on the moon is number 71. A summary of available Latin and vernacular translations of the Moralia in the 16th century, especially in France, is in Hollowet's review of Amyot et Plutarque: La Tradition des Moralia au XVIe Siècle by Robert Aulotte (Renaissance News 1966).

For a text that goes in sequence from 13 to 21, here I go (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/R ... on*/D.html).

The journey of the soul in chapters 27-30 parallels the tarot C sequence 13 to 21, seamlessly with no break between 14 and 15 (unlike A and B). Actually, Plutarch's account might explain why Temperance is where it is, and why the Devil immediately follows, which is somewhat paradoxical in a Christian viewpoint, requiring the hypothesis of a break in the sequence. But on the face of it, it's paradoxical: Temperance, the C sequence seems to say, becomes relevant only after death, and then you go to the Devil and Hell, but not permanently. That's something that works in Dante and other visionary literature but not in Christian dogma. Hence tarot researchers have posited a break in the narrative at that point, jumping to the end-times after a long sleep, with the Devil as one protagonist. The interpretation I am using, for C only, doesn't use the big sleep. It's just a journey through different extra-terrestrial levels, to the Moon, the Sun, and back to the beginning.

In what follows, I am going to give quotes where I think the connection to the tarot needs explaining. These may not be sufficient to understand what Plutarch is saying. Fortunately the whole relevant section is online in one place, and it's short, just 14 small pages, half of which is taken up by footnotes. I assume its available in Italian somewhere, too. The website I am linking to gives the Greek pagination for most of it (on the left). Where for some reason it doesn't, I give the Loeb pagination instead (on the right).

First let me mention that in chapter 26, there is a long passage (p. 173f of Loeb, Greek text 939-940, http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/R ... on*/C.html)) in which Plutarch talks about droplets of dew generated by the Moon both on its surface and toward the earth. This is only one of two classical references I have found that associate the Moon with the drops that fall on the Tarot de Marseille Moon card. De Gebelin found the other, Pausanias 10.32.18 (http://www.theoi.com/Text/Pausanias10C.html), the "tears of Isis" that generate the Nile Flood. It is true that they are already on the Cary Sheet Sun card. Why is a good question, which has an Egyptianate answer (below). But why the Moon, too?

Plutarch begins ch. 27 (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/R ... on*/D.html) with what corresponds to the Death card. The body disintegrates and is absorbed into the earth, the realm of "Demeter" (942b, 943b). After speaking of the three Platonic aspects of the human being (he does not say "soul", he says (943a):
In the composition of these three factors earth furnishes the body, the moon the soul, and the sun furnishes mind...As to the death we die, one death reduces man from three factors to two and another reduces him from two to one; and the former takes place in the (earth) that belongs to Demeter (wherefore "to make an end" is called) "to render (one's life) to her; (the latter) in the Moon that belongs to Persephone...
After physical death, the combination soul/mind remains, in a new form: that's what is at the bottom of the Temperance card, the soul having been poured from one vessel to another. (In chapter 5 Decker claims that the Pythagoreans' word for transmigration was a Greek word meaning the pouring of liquid from one vessel to another: I need to check that. And just a reminder: please don't think I'm giving an account of the origin of the image on the Temperance card! It is obviously the well-worn medieval image, being put to new use in a game.) Plutarch doesn't talk about the form taken by disembodied spirits; presumably they become spirits of the air, which for him exists as far as the Moon. The other death is the separation of soul from mind, which happens on the Moon. He describes the separation of mind from soul as called "'single-born' (943b), because the best part of man is 'born single', when separated off <by> her". Presumably the first death would also be a birth, "born double", so to speak. There is thus some resemblance to the Christian Eucharist, a birth in Christ.

The card, blue and red (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... aDeste.JPG, http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... Ramses.jpg, might also signify the mixture of good and evil that the soul will encounter, Seth (fire) and Osiris (water), as he says in On Isis and Osiris XXXIII (http://thriceholy.net/Texts/Isis.html)
...the more learned among the priests do not only call the Nile, “Osiris,” and the sea, “Typhon,” but give the name of Osiris generally to every Principle and Power productive of moisture; regarding this as the cause of generation and the essence of seed. “Typhon” they call everything dry, fiery, dessicative, and antagonistic to moisture; for which reason as they believe him to have been red skinned...
like the Christian Devil. The second link above has a good statue of the Seth-animal.

Next Plutarch observes (943c):
All soul, whether without mind or with it, when it has issued from the body is destined to wander in the region between earth and moon but not for an equal time. Unjust and licentious souls pay penalties for their offences; but the good souls must in the gentlest part of the air, pass a certain set time sufficient to purge and blow away <the> pollutions contracted from the body as from an evil odour. (Then), as if brought home from banishment abroad, they savour joy most like that of initiates, which attended by glad expectation is mingled with confusion and excitement

Secret-society initiations, certainly by the 17th century, attempted to emulate such a state. And in quieter moments, the brothers no doubt enjoyed a game of tarot, at which the elders could reflect on Plutarch if they wished.

On the one hand, there is this joy of the good, interrupted only when the Moon passes into the earth's shadow, so that they cannot hear the harmony of heaven (Loeb p. 209). Plutarch goes on:
At the same time too with wails and cries the souls of the chastised then approach through the shadow from below. That is why most people have the custom of beating brasses during eclipses and of raising a din and clatter against the souls, which are frightened off also by the so‑called face when they get near it, for it has a grim and horrible aspect.
So although we are not yet to the Moon card itself, we can see the significance of eclipses. (The Moon's entry into the earth's shadow here is the allegorical significance of Persephone's periodic reunions with her mother Demeter.) Plutarch, however, says that what appears to be a grim face is no such thing; it is just mountains and hollows in the Moon's surface . Yet he does not deny that the souls of the chastised take advantage of the shadow to come nearer to us from below.

So the Temperance card has two interpretations: the pouring out of the soul/mind into a new form after death, and the mixture of good and evil that it will encounter, just as this mixture had existed on earth. The fit of the text to the card isn't perfect; the card is certainly just the standard medieval Temperance image. Even the red and blue just meant hot and cold, not Seth and Osiris. Bending images to new uses can make an uncomfortable fit. It is the placement of the card at the 14th place, rather than lower down, that is the closest fit to Plutarch; the time right after death.

In any case, the soul ascends into the space between the earth and the moon, the lower part of Persephone's realm. The whole area is called Hades (942f). Part of it contains earth-bound spirits that try to drag the soul down with it. That's the lower part of the Devil card, from a Middle Platonic perspective, which Christians image as the Devil. So when the little people on the Tarot de Marseille card look like little devils, rather than human souls in bondage, that is more in keeping with the Middle Platonic view than the Egyptian stele I showed from Sakkara, which is surely pre-Ptolemaic.

Souls in this realm eventually get a new life on earth, often as disreputable characters, until the Moon can finally get rid of them. Plutarch writes (p. 219):
Creatures like Tityus and Typho and the Python that with insolence and violence occupied Delphi and confounded the oracle belonged to this class of souls, void of reason and subject to the affective element gone astray through delusion; but even these in time the moon took back to herself and reduced to order.
The "new birth" on earth for such souls is another interpretation of the Temperance card, the return of the soul to the body to become embodied devils on earth. Fortunately, the Moon eventually gets their soul-substance and sends it down to the earth for mind-soul-body combinations, after she has been fertilized by the sun during "conjunction" (p. 215), which I assume are eclipses.

For the better souls, there is help from above: Persephone, whose name Plutarch analyzes as "bearer of light" (942b) shines her light to drive away the evil spirits and purge the soul of its own evil. That, in this interpretation, is depicted on the Tower card. On the Cary Sheet, we have what looks like a scene from the Last Days, with hail etc, similar to the Vieville (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... sBalog.JPG). It is only in the context of the other cards. especially the next two, and Plutarch's text itself, that the Last Days can be transposed to Plutarch's Hades. The card has meaning independently of the "last days". The "Sforza Castle" card shows the House of the Devil, a common early name for the card (there is a devil inside, as can be seen by manipulating the image and comparing it to a Tower of Babel illustration of the time (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... 280det.JPG. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... 16adet.JPG). In Plutarch there is no Devil in Hades, but there are evil spirits, whom we saw on the bottom of the Tarot de Marseille Devil card. As a result some souls are trapped temporarily in Hades as chastisement before entering a new body on earth; others rise up to the next level.

In this life, what corresponds to Persephone's light from above is the attack of otherworldliness people often get in a this-worldly crisis. That is what is I think is illustrated in the Schoen Horoscope (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... vSchon.JPG). I hope you can see that all the other houses in the horoscope have obvious tarot equivalents (as symbols, not necessarily as images; see my explanation at viewtopic.php?f=14&t=942#p13824). This particular illustration's relationship to the tarot is not obvious, as it looks nothing like the card; but the "Maison-Dieu" is the only one I can find that it could possibly be. Also, I have found evidence that some hospices were called "Maison-Dieu" (http://archive.org/stream/cu31924030334 ... 2_djvu.txt: find "maison"). There are other Greco-Roman interpretations of the "arrow" card (the first name for the card), such as Andrea's proposal that it refers to the ring of fire that was thought to circle the earth before the moon. I am just giving one idea. Research in this area is unfortunately at a primitive level.

Then there is the place Plutarch calls the "meads of Hades" (943c), a good place. This is what corresponds to the Star card. There is no imagery of what happens there, except to compare the experience to that of initiates in the mysteries.
Unjust and licentious souls pay penalties for their offences; but the good souls must in the gentlest part of the air, which they call "the meads of Hades," pass a certain set time sufficient to purge and blow away the pollutions contracted from the body as from an evil odour. Then, as if brought home from banishment abroad, they savour joy most like that of initiates, which attended by glad expectation is mingled with confusion and excitement.
One way of putting this into image might be to insert Dante's two streams on the top of Mt. Purgatory and Porphyry's imagery in "Cave of the Nymphs". There is something similar to Dante in Pausanias (9.39.3, http://www.theoi.com/Titan/TitanisMnemosyne.html), an oracle at which to enter and see the future one must first drink water from two springs, of forgetting and remembering. Jane Harrison thought that what Pausanias was describing was a Dionysian initiation (Prolegomena to the study of Greek Religion, p. 575, in Google Books). So we could imagine that the soul takes the drinks that allow it to arrive safely on the moon. But what fits Plutarch's language of "pollutions" is the image of washing and anointing, which we see also in the Bible (King David after the death of his first child by Bathsheba) and the Odyssey (Odysseus before he confronts the suitors). One jug would be water, the other oil, but that isn't what is illustrated on the Cary Sheet or Tarot de Marseille. For the Egyptianate image, I will invoke another essay of Plutarch's later.

On the Moon card, Persephone's realm, the realm of soul, the soul/mind navigates the moon's surface. Plutarch's theory is that, contrary to popular belief, it isn't really a face; there are hollows and mountains on the moon just like on the earth. He speaks of "Hecate's Recess" (p. 209)--Hecate is a Middle Platonic goddess of moon and magic--as the largest of the hollows, where souls "suffer and exact penalties for whatever they have endured or committed after having already become Spirits" (pp. 210f). They can still fall back toward earth, to Hades or below "For many, even as they are in the act of clinging to the moon, she thrusts off and sweeps away" (943d .p. 203). But for the fortunate, there are two long natural passageways, called "The Gates" (p. 211), that lead away from Hecate's Recess through the mountain barrier. Gates imply entrances that keep out the unwanted. If so, they would be imagined like gates to a city (even though there is no city), which had towers above them, to see who was coming. One gate leads to the other side of the Moon, the side facing Heaven where soul/minds prepare for the journey to the Sun (p. 213). The other gate seems to be for purified soul/minds to return to earth to tend oracles, help the good in battles (where the Dioscuri were said to "flash forth" (p. 211), another possible allusion to the Arrow), etc.

There is no crayfish on Plutarch's moon. That comes from astrology supplemented by Horapollo's karabos born on the 29th day in water, signaling the coming of the Nile flood. Plutarch doesn't mention it, but there was also the theory that the Moon had seas, and they gave them names, Mare this and Mare that.

Once on the other side of the moon, the next stop is the sun, where mind is absorbed and recycled as the sun's sperm when it impregnates the moon (during eclipses) to generate new soul/minds.

In the the Tarot de Marseille Sun card, the two people are almost invariably depicted as sad (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Lu-6PwakMv0/S ... erDET5.jpg). Almost everyone ignores that part, assuming bad artistry repeated. But if what is depicted is the separation of mind from soul, and the death of the soul, it is bound to be sad.

So: Hades, part Hell and part Purgatory, is between the earth and the moon; Purgatory proper is on part of the Moon, and then there is the preparation, on the far side of the Moon, for the journey to the Sun, and the journey itself, leaving the soul behind, purely mind, until on the Sun the mind disintegrates and is recycled; that would correspond to the World card. All are in sequence, in one little book by Plutarch. They correspond to stages of the journey on earth, too. But there isn't just one Judgment; instead, there is a series of Judgments, admitting one to higher levels--to the Moon, through the Gate, to the Sun; they amount to the same thing.

Here are the correspondences, the summary you wanted, now of nine cards: Death (body recycled); Temperance (soul in a new vessel); Devil (evil spirits in Hades) Tower (light from above, scattering the evil and guiding the good), Moon (one side of Moon), Sun (other side of moon, soul recycled, mind headed to the Sun), Judgment (all along), and World (in the middle of the Sun, the goal, mind recycled).

Where else, except Dante's Divine Comedy, can you go through all of that in sequence? Not Christianity: once in hell, you're stuck there, although to be sure there are pictures of demons and angels fighting for the soul after death, and also the visions of a St. Anthony. But the latter is in this life, and the former is at the Last Judgment. But in the tarot the Devil is 15. In Plutarch, that is the situation as soon as the soul gets to be on its own (card 14), rising upward.

Now I will use Plutarch's On Isis and Osiris to plug in Egyptianate details, on just one theme, the allegorical interpretation of the Nile flood. There are gaps to be filled in from other sources. Plutarch is explicit on the main part, relating to the Star, Moon, and Sun. My references are to the sections, at http://thriceholy.net/Texts/Isis.html). But let me be clear that how all this relates to the journey of the soul is in his essay on the Moon. I am only using this essay for how various Egyptian images relate in a sequence--in this case, the Nile flood--from 13 to 21, with the tarot as the connector between the two essays.

In the Egyptian spring, the crops are harvested, corresponding to the "Reaper" of Death (not in Plutarch). There is cool drinking water of wells and oases (not in Plutarch). So we have the mixture of hot and cold, red and blue, on the Temperance card; both are needed. Then comes the hot, dry desert wind, the rule of Seth, Osiris absent, in late spring and early summer (XXXIII, XXXIX). I cannot find Tower imagery in this essay. But it can be drawn from other sources, such as Herodotus. Or a Renaissance interpreter could make the "arrow" the early summer storms in Ethiopia (XXXIX, XL). Then the star Sothis (XXXVIII, XXI) rises at sunrise around the time of the Solstice; it is the herald of the Flood to come. On the Dendera zodiacs, figures pouring water out of two jugs are just after Sothis (who appears right between Gemini and Cancer). That is the beginning of the flood (XXXVIII, XXI), shown on the Caru Sjeet Star card, mixing the warm White and cold Blue Niles. Plutarch (also XXXVIII) describes how the priests take water from the Nile and pour it from a little vessel, and also mix Nile water with earth, to celebrate the two principles of Water and Earth, i.e. Osiris and Isis. Thus we have the two colors of liquid being poured on some Tarot de Marseille Star cards.

This preliminary flood continues through the month of Cancer, shown on the Moon card (in Horapollo's image, with the "tears of Isis"). The Flood peaks (the swelling of Osiris, in the month of Leo, represented by the Sun card (XXXVIII), with more tears; ultimately they are caused, we may infer from Plutarch, by the Sun, i.e. Osiris, overpowering the sea (the sea being identified with Seth) with the force of his rains (all described in XL). Just as the light of the moon is really that of the sun reflected, so the "tears of Isis" mourning the dead Osiris are really the action of the Sun. The boy on the Cary Sheet still needs explaining. Well, perhaps he is Carpocrates (XIX),the younger Horus (as opposed to "the elder Horus" in Plutarch), whom Cartari pictured as a child. On the card this child waves the victory flag, after Osiris's successful fertilization of the land, symbolically Isis and the eclipse of the Moon card. After that the new crops can spring up, seen as the resurrection on the Judgment card (not talked about by Plutarch). The bounty of the four elements is enjoyed on the World card (also not talked about by Plutarch).

The result is that the Egyptianate symbols take us to an interpretation of the cards that leads into a philosophy that was supposed trans-cultural (as it indeed was, for cultures within the Roman Empire) and pre-Christian in the sense of the "prisca theologia", out of which 15th-16th century Christian Neoplatonism and the Hermeticism of the 16th-18th centuries could be forged. That is a result that the interpretation in terms of Revelation cannot--and would not, no doubt--dream of.

The Corpus Hermeticum has a variation on the same theme as Plutarch's Moon essay, the journey of the soul. In Tractate I, there is no detailed description of the journey to the Moon; instead, it is a journey at death through seven rather unsavory planetary realms, each full of something very similar to one of the "deadly sins" (Copenhaver p. 6), arriving at the realm of the fixed stars. This merely confirms what the Middle Ages had already read in Macrobius and elsewhere. From Aristotle they derived 10 spheres, as seen in the "Tarot of Mantegna". The earth would make 11, and there are two journeys, down at birth and up at death. The Hermetist Robert Fludd, however, drew a diagram of the soul's progress, down to earth or up to heaven (http://photos1.blogger.com/x/blogger/61 ... sheres.jpg) in 22 steps--no doubt thinking of the Hebrew alphabet rather than the tarot. Such schemas have the advantage of encompassing the entire tarot trump sequence.

Decker does not quite go such routes. He analyzes the 21 simply in terms of the Pythagorean numbers from 1 to 10 and their repetition. Then in Chapter 7 he has three sets of 7, one for going down, one for life on earth, and one for going up. Well, I'll get to that some other time.

The general perspective on the tarot I have been presenting is of course not new, even among historians of the tarot. Andrea wrote in 2006 (Tarots - History Art Magic, in the section "The Divine Hermes" (reproduced with modifications at http://www.associazioneletarot.it/page. ... NG):[quote]
This philosophy inspired such authors as the poet Ludovico Lazzarelli (1450-1500), whose De Gentilium imaginibus deorum was illustrated with figures from the so-called Mantegna Tarot, and the anonymous author of the Sola-Busca Tarot (approx. 1490) with its references to alchemy.

During the same period, several of the tarot images [added in online version: such as the Moon and the Sun were modified on the basis of the iconological treatises of the time, and while the image of the Tower was enriched with biblical contents (the destruction of the house of Job; see the iconological essay The Tower), others] were modified to conform with the Hermetic iconography. The astral origin of the soul, in fact, is represented in the map of the Stars [online: the Star card], and the Anima Mundi, which Ficino believed to represent the mediating influence between man and God, appears in the map of the World [online: the World card]. [/quote]
I do not defend all of Andrea's details, as I have not examined the Sola-Busca in the way he suggests (I have the book, from the Sola-Busca exhibition in Milan, but I haven't read it yet). Some sound details about the Moon, Sun, and World are in Andrea's iconographic essays. Hopefully I have given a few more here, as has Decker in his book. But the state of this work is still at a primitive level.

Note: after originally posting this, at 11 pm Pacific Daylight Time of the same day, I somewhat rewrote the part on the Tower card in relation to Petrarch's Moon essay. Then by 11:30 I had also rewritten the first part of the paragraph on the Star card, too.

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