Decker's new book

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Re: Decker on Etteilla and Kabbalah

Postby SteveM on 01 Jun 2014, 09:08

mikeh wrote: In fact, as I found by producing a searchable version of "Gates of Light" on my computer, at least one of the "Etteilla" keywords for most of the number cards can be found in almost every chapter of the book, and so relating to almost every sefira. The "correspondences" are just too numerous to be meaningful.

Occasionally none of the keywords occurs in the relevant chapter of Gates of Light, for example Etteilla"s keyword "critique" (which Decker translates as "crisis") for the 8 of Swords. In that case, Decker blithely substitutes a vaguely related word that does occur in the right chapter of Gikatilla, e.g. in this case "jealousy". These substitute words are invariably common biblical words found in many chapters of Gikatilla's book.

It may be possible to save Decker's thesis in some other way by reference to Cabalist works, or other esoteric writings available in the 18th century . It is at this point only clear that his arguments as they stand are quite inadequate.


I agree Mike that Decker's argument is unconvincing. While Etteilla frequently uses the term 'cabalistic', there are few places in which he makes direct reference to Hebrew. The largest reference is probably his use of the ShemHamforash (72 names), which as far as I can tell however he doesn't connect with the Tarot but is related to other services he offered (e.g., discovering the name of one's Genie, the making of talismans) and which he presents mainly from their appropriation into astrological lore. There is one brief note however in which he directly refers to the Hebrew names of God as true hieroglyphs - which I make a minor note here only in relation to the Gates of Light being an exegesis of the names of God associated with each sefiroth. In a note at the bottom of p.73 of his Theoretical and Practical lessons from the Book of Thoth:

(1) Reflechiffez,, je vous prie, si les noms de Dieu en caracteres hebraiques, ne sont pas de vrais hyerogliphes.

(1) Consider, I pray you, if the names of God in Hebrew characters are not true hieroglyphs.

(Etteilla makes use of the term cabalistic, in relation to Tarot, as combining letters, numbers and hieroglyphs. However, this brief note is the only place, that I have found so far, in which Etteilla comes close to a direct comparison of the hieroglyphs of the tarot as cabalistic letters with Hebrew characters.)

No doubt some would be delighted by the frequent reference to 'Choens' throughout this text, and treat it as proof positive that Etteilla was a member of the Elus Coens! ;)

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Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot
SteveM
 
Location: Turkey
Favorite Deck: Crowley/Harris Thoth
Aliases: kwaw, koy deli,

Re: Decker's new book

Postby mikeh on 03 Jun 2014, 05:39

Thanks for drawing attention to this footnote. I hadn't picked up on it myself.

SteveM wrote
1) Consider, I pray you, if the names of God in Hebrew characters are not true hieroglyphs.

(Etteilla makes use of the term cabalistic, in relation to Tarot, as combining letters, numbers and hieroglyphs. However, this brief note is the only place, that I have found so far, in which Etteilla comes close to a direct comparison of the hieroglyphs of the tarot as cabalistic letters with Hebrew characters.)

Etteilla was doubtless aware of de Mellet's system of correspondences between Hebrew letters and tarot triumphs. But, like you, I don't find him endorsing it, or any such direct correspondence. in so many words. For one thing, de Mellet used the "unrestored" Tarot de Marseille. Instead, he uses his own "correct" cards, each with its number.

It seems to me that by "hieroglyph"in the footnote you cite, he means a combination of Hebrew letters (which themselves are probably hieroglyphs--as they are, according to de Mellet. For Etteilla there are many examples of hieroglyphs,as he says in the text to which his footnote attaches. He also speaks of hieroglyphs as "nombres". Of course Hebrew letters were also numbers. In Philosophie des Hautes Sciences Etteilla equates the 72 angels with the names of God, a standard move in mystical Judaism (I'm not sure it's even restricted to Kabbalah). Each has its number. Correspondingly, the name of one's personal angel is arrived at, he says on pp. 102-112, by converting certain facts about the person to numbers and then doing a calculation. I discussed this at http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... tcount=250 (as you know, but for others' benefit). The resulting number is that of the corresponding angel. My discussion at that link did not do him justice--it involves doing someone's horoscope as well as the initials of their name and their "favorite number"; I am not sure if the horoscope is done by means of tarot cards, time of birth, time of reading, or what. In any case, it's a combination of numbers according to a certain formula, to go from the person to the number of the angel..
mikeh
member
 
Location: Oregon USA
Favorite Deck: Conver/Noblet & Sola-Busca pips

Re: Decker's new book

Postby SteveM on 03 Jun 2014, 12:43

mikeh wrote:Thanks for drawing attention to this footnote. I hadn't picked up on it myself.

SteveM wrote
1) Consider, I pray you, if the names of God in Hebrew characters are not true hieroglyphs.

(Etteilla makes use of the term cabalistic, in relation to Tarot, as combining letters, numbers and hieroglyphs. However, this brief note is the only place, that I have found so far, in which Etteilla comes close to a direct comparison of the hieroglyphs of the tarot as cabalistic letters with Hebrew characters.)

Etteilla was doubtless aware of de Mellet's system of correspondences between Hebrew letters and tarot triumphs. But, like you, I don't find him endorsing it, or any such direct correspondence. in so many words. For one thing, de Mellet used the "unrestored" Tarot de Marseille. Instead, he uses his own "correct" cards, each with its number.

It seems to me that by "hieroglyph"in the footnote you cite, he means a combination of Hebrew letters (which themselves are probably hieroglyphs--as they are, according to de Mellet. For Etteilla there are many examples of hieroglyphs,as he says in the text to which his footnote attaches. He also speaks of hieroglyphs as "nombres". Of course Hebrew letters were also numbers. In Philosophie des Hautes Sciences Etteilla equates the 72 angels with the names of God, a standard move in mystical Judaism (I'm not sure it's even restricted to Kabbalah). Each has its number. Correspondingly, the name of one's personal angel is arrived at, he says on pp. 102-112, by converting certain facts about the person to numbers and then doing a calculation. I discussed this at http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... tcount=250 (as you know, but for others' benefit). The resulting number is that of the corresponding angel. My discussion at that link did not do him justice--it involves doing someone's horoscope as well as the initials of their name and their "favorite number"; I am not sure if the horoscope is done by means of tarot cards, time of birth, time of reading, or what. In any case, it's a combination of numbers according to a certain formula, to go from the person to the number of the angel..


No, you're right, the 72 names are not restricted to mystical kabalah, they have long been incorporated into astrological lore and also as a maker of talismans he would have been aware of them as an aspect of practical cabalah (without necessarily a deep knowledge of theosophical kabbalah - perhaps as described in Agrippa for example). There is a fascimile of one of his horoscopes, a minimal affair, in a biography of him from the 1850's - generally for his enquiries he commonly asked the persons name, date of birth, favourite number and favorite colour. For his numerological operations he seems to have used a somewhat unique conversion of letters to numbers (certainly does not seem to be related to hebrew letters as numbers). Although I think his division of the Tarot into major, minor and medial hieroglyphs he related to their Egyptian origins, he didn't use the term hieroglyph strictly in relation to Egypt, but in the broader sense such as could be applied to Emblemata for example, and his application of 'cabalistic' science seems in most part to any numerological type operations.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot
SteveM
 
Location: Turkey
Favorite Deck: Crowley/Harris Thoth
Aliases: kwaw, koy deli,

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