After having reread Piscina it is clear to me that is where you are taking your cue for the “celestials” from, especially this statement of his: “After the Demons, comes Fire (il Fuoco
), as the due mean between stars, which are celestial, and mundane things: it is affirmed by naturalists or philosophers, the element that is found before the Moon, the Sun and any other Star (2010: 23).”
But what was the author’s knowledge of the original intent of the tarot? The author admits he was only drawn to this subject by a “sudden caprice” and the context was that it was dedicated to the rector of his university. He takes the four aforementioned cards out of context of the deck and likens it to uncited “affirmations” of natural philosophers as if it were a popularly understood sequence. Capricious indeed.
One thing Piscina does point us toward is the social context of the use of the cards, for, besides the impetus of seeing noble woman playing the game that caught his eye (dear ol’ Eros at work), the first metaphor for the entire order of the deck that comes to his mind is this: “For the captain of an army, it is enough, in order to obtain the desired victory, to have found and chosen infantry soldiers and cavalry, artillery and other necessary things, if those are not deployed and used with a good order, according to the situation. So these figures would have given but little pleasure if he had not placed them following and using a beautiful and convenient order (13).” See my relevant post on Pratesi, soldiers and condottieri here:viewtopic.php?f=11&t=985
The “celestial” cards simply are not those four cards – to point to at least one other obvious celestial, “Time” is Saturn. And what is utterly ridiculous here is that his hourglass gets transformed into a lantern (which you could explain away as even weaker than lightning as the furthest away planet) but why does that not get forced into this “hierarchy of light/brightness”? Because it is out of sequence?
I will argue elsewhere that all seven of the planetary gods are present in the deck, reshuffled (perhaps with some caprice) due to the low or high social standing of the exemplar that represents said planet (and I have already explained why the moon and sun would be moved to the top, but these two along with Venus, genetrix of the Visconti dynsaty, are obviously not exemplars but allegories of these celestial bodies).
But back to the military context of tarot and their being commissioned for condottieri – not monks or rectors of universities. Monks and rectors did not hang men (the hanged man), engage in royal courting (Love card with belli
of two houses), impose their wrath on rebel cities (the tower struck by lightning).
So getting back to the card in question, I have already supplied a contemporary use of sagitta
=lighting-bolt-God’s wrath (Filelfo), but here is yet another medium underscoring the overwhelming preoccupation of condotterei with astrology and the planets, especially Jupiter-as-il fuoco-as–wrath: a medal of Montefeltro.
Fire itself (a cannonball that will explode...into a towered city) is a symbol of Jupiter here in the Montefeltro medal, as described by Wind: “The wise Federigo da Montefeltro who, as a successful condottiere, delighted in cultivating the arts of peace, expressed his faith in harmoninous balance through the discordant symbol of a cannonball, which he placed under the protection of the thundering Jupiter. On his medal (fig. 71) the three stars in the sky form a constellation of Jupiter between Mars and Venus, and their symmetry is repeated in the group of emblems below; the sword and cuirass belonging to Mars, the whisk-broom [Sforza’s scopetta
(brush) that refers to Federigo’s wife Battista Sforza, daughter of Alessandro Sforza] and myrtle to Venus, while the ball in the centre is dedicated to Jupiter tonans,
whose flying eagle carries the unusual still-life on its wings (Edgar Wind, Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissnace
, 1958/1968: 95-96).
The cannonball imprese was also picked up in Ferrara: "In all earnestness, the duke of Ferrara, Alfonso d’Este, like Federigo da Monefeltrro befor him, had used a bomb shell as a heroic emblem, a symbol of concealed power propitiously released: A Lieu Temps
The cannonball performed the same wrath on cities conquered by condottieri
as God’s wrathful lightning did on Sodom and Gemorrah (see again the SHS Floretine manuscript). There is not mere “celestial fire” depicted in any
Tower card, but fire brought to bear on erring humanity so as to detroy them.