Building a 15th Century divination system

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Building a 15th Century divination system

Postby robert on 03 Jul 2009, 10:24

I'm curious, if we were to build a 15th century divination system to read the tarot with, what do we think it might have looked like?

Would it have used Numerology? If so, any ideas what system(s) might have been used?

Would it have used Elements?

Humours?

How might the suits have been read?

What might a 15th Century divination system have looked like in Italy or France? Would there be a difference between a "scholarly" system and a "folk" system?

Can we (re)construct a system or two or three that, should someone have chosen to, might likely have been used at the time?
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Re: Building a 15th Century divination system

Postby Nicole on 03 Jul 2009, 15:49

Not sure exactly what you are asking but if I am understanding the question I would have to include astrology. I am no historian but of all the systems mentioned, and any I could think, I would guess studying the stars came before any others. It could be both a "scholarly" system and a "folk" system... and no need for carrying about... they are always there. The illiterate could access the heavens as easily as the priesthood. One could designate an area of the sky and pull cards to correspond and create a system to determine which cards were auspicious. That way,even if the sky seemed fixed the cards would change so the meanings would differ.... hope that makes sense. :D
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Re: Building a 15th Century divination system

Postby marco on 04 Jul 2009, 11:31

I agree with Nicole: I think a "scholarly" system would have included astrology. See for instance the Geomancy system described by (or attributed to) Agrippa:
http://www.princeton.edu/~ezb/geomancy/agrippa.html

I think Ross has recently hinted to an allegorical meaning of the four suits that must have preceded the invention of the Trumps. A few years ago, I posted on ATF about a 1551 book ("Cento Giuochi Liberali e d'Ingegno" by Innocenzio Ringhieri) that gives associations between the suits and the four virtues.

Cups Temperance (who holds a cup)
Wands Strength (in the Visconti-Sforza holds a wooden club)
Swords Justice (holds a sword)
Coins Prudence (card coins look like mirrors)

Also Ringhieri was originally suggested by Ross.

About "folk" cartomancy, thanks to Ross we begin to have some real data :)

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Re: Building a 15th Century divination system

Postby robert on 04 Jul 2009, 12:19

I guess what I'm after is an understanding of how to map a system onto the tarot (as I don't particularly believe it is inherit in the tarot) that would have been something that could have possibly been used at the time? I'm curious what our (their!) options would have been? I suppose no matter how we approach this, we are looking from a 21st century perspective... but I'm curious to know, if Bianca Visconti had a teacher to show her how to "read" the cards, what system might they have shown her to use? If a card player in Paris in 1497 hired a fortune teller to read their cards, what system might the fortune teller have used? What possible systems can we imagine that might have made sense to someone at that time?

How would astrology be mapped onto the tarot? Would they have had a "house" system? Would they have assigned Aces as the First House, deuces as the Second House? Would they have seen Aces as Mercury, deuces as Venus... in "order"?

There has been talk about the four suits matching up to a class system, so how would a 3 of Batons be read? as compared to a 3 of Swords?

What "systems", especially ones related to suits and numbers, would have been "likely"?

Was there a common association of numbers with meanings? What would a 7 of Cups indicate?

I like that we have an early reference to each of the suits representing a virtue.. that's a great starting point, what other systems do we know about from the time that was, or might have been, used to read cards?
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Re: Building a 15th Century divination system

Postby EnriqueEnriquez on 04 Jul 2009, 12:29

Hi Marco,

Thanks for that.
marco wrote:I think Ross has recently hinted to an allegorical meaning of the four suits that must have preceded the invention of the Trumps. A few years ago, I posted on ATF about a 1551 book ("Cento Giuochi Liberali e d'Ingegno" by Innocenzio Ringhieri) that gives associations between the suits and the four virtues.

Cups Temperance (who holds a cup)
Wands Strength (in the Visconti-Sforza holds a wooden club)
Swords Justice (holds a sword)
Coins Prudence (card coins look like mirrors)



Just to be double sure, here we are taking about the Spanish-type playing cards, right?


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Re: Building a 15th Century divination system

Postby SteveM on 04 Jul 2009, 12:37

EnriqueEnriquez wrote:Hi Marco,

Thanks for that.
marco wrote:I think Ross has recently hinted to an allegorical meaning of the four suits that must have preceded the invention of the Trumps. A few years ago, I posted on ATF about a 1551 book ("Cento Giuochi Liberali e d'Ingegno" by Innocenzio Ringhieri) that gives associations between the suits and the four virtues.

Cups Temperance (who holds a cup)
Wands Strength (in the Visconti-Sforza holds a wooden club)
Swords Justice (holds a sword)
Coins Prudence (card coins look like mirrors)



Just to be double sure, here we are taking about the Spanish-type playing cards, right?


EE


The Visconti Book of Hours c.1400 shows figures of Temperance, Fortitude and Justice with the emblems cups, clubs and sword - so such an association with the card pip emblems could easily have been made :
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Re: Building a 15th Century divination system

Postby R.A. Hendley on 04 Jul 2009, 13:08

marco wrote:
Cups Temperance (who holds a cup)
Wands Strength (in the Visconti-Sforza holds a wooden club)
Swords Justice (holds a sword)
Coins Prudence (card coins look like mirrors)



I wonder if these would have been seen as being the said virtue, or being in need of the said virtue? For example, Cups = wine, pleasures, etc. = need for moderation, Staffs (or Scepters) = labors (or Rulership) = need for courage, Swords = Power = need for fairness, Coins = wealth = need for wisdom.
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Re: Building a 15th Century divination system

Postby SteveM on 04 Jul 2009, 13:08

robert wrote:IWas there a common association of numbers with meanings?


As numerous then as now probably, check out hopper or agrippa or the theology of arithmetic...
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Re: Building a 15th Century divination system

Postby EnriqueEnriquez on 04 Jul 2009, 15:03

R.A. Hendley wrote:
marco wrote:
Cups Temperance (who holds a cup)
Wands Strength (in the Visconti-Sforza holds a wooden club)
Swords Justice (holds a sword)
Coins Prudence (card coins look like mirrors)



I wonder if these would have been seen as being the said virtue, or being in need of the said virtue? For example, Cups = wine, pleasures, etc. = need for moderation, Staffs (or Scepters) = labors (or Rulership) = need for courage, Swords = Power = need for fairness, Coins = wealth = need for wisdom.


That is a great observation!

When it comes to vice, be moderate.
When it comes to work, be strong.
When it comes to power, be fair.
When it comes to wealth, we prudent.

(The last one is useful, but I am not comfortable with it since the original text alludes to coins as mirrors, not currency).

Thanks!

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Re: Building a 15th Century divination system

Postby EnriqueEnriquez on 04 Jul 2009, 15:06

Thanks Steve,

SteveM wrote:
EnriqueEnriquez wrote:Hi Marco,

Thanks for that.
marco wrote:I think Ross has recently hinted to an allegorical meaning of the four suits that must have preceded the invention of the Trumps. A few years ago, I posted on ATF about a 1551 book ("Cento Giuochi Liberali e d'Ingegno" by Innocenzio Ringhieri) that gives associations between the suits and the four virtues.

Cups Temperance (who holds a cup)
Wands Strength (in the Visconti-Sforza holds a wooden club)
Swords Justice (holds a sword)
Coins Prudence (card coins look like mirrors)



Just to be double sure, here we are taking about the Spanish-type playing cards, right?


EE


The Visconti Book of Hours c.1400 shows figures of Temperance, Fortitude and Justice with the emblems cups, clubs and sword - so such an association with the card pip emblems could easily have been made :


Yes. I was just pointing out that here we may be talking about a way of ‘moralizing’ a regular deck of playing cards, not a tarot deck.

Best,

EE
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