In my previous post I emphasized the similarities between Bologna 1760-1782 and Etteilla 1770. (Since posting I have corrected a few minor errors there in the chart.) There are also significant differences, ones that say something about possible transmission between Bologna and Paris.
First, while it is true that the same meanings wander among cards as we go through the history of cartomancy in Italy, these shifts are decades apart and probably due to errors in oral transmission rather than deliberate reinterpretations. After Etteilla's first cards in 1789 much the same keywords appeared in much the same places on Etteilla decks for 150 years, until 1977 for the Grand Etteilla I by Cartes France, but still not for Grand Etteilla II and III. The main shift was that on the Ace of Batons "Chute" became the Upright and "Naissance" the Reversed, and in a few cases when the word was the same Upright and Reversed, there was a different word for the Reversed. In an age when the written word is the primary means of transmission, variability is much less. My conclusion is that there was not enough time between 1770 and 1782, or 1760 and 1770, for the number of shifts that we see.
Second, the Bologna cartomancer has no reversals. These might have been left off on purpose or added on purpose, but it is an apparent difference.
Third, there is no significator card in Bologna, unlike for Etteilla. Having a special significator card was Etteilla's invention. Normally it was just one of the court cards. In reply it could be said that the Bologna cartomancer simply didn't care for that invention. Going the other way, it might be replied that Bologna did pick a significator ahead of time, but that this wasn't mentioned in the document. If so, the document becomes a record of a reading from the querent's perspective, who was not told some details. One common method of card-reading is to divide the cards into x number of piles and read only the pile where the significator is. On the other hand, the lack of a significator is also not part of modern cartomancy in Bologna.
The method of dividing a large number of cards into piles is not recorded in Etteilla or de Mellet. I am not sure what to make of this difference. It is similar to laying out cards in a succession of rows, which is seen in pictures of cartomancy in France of c. 1800.
An argument in favor of the transmission going from Bologna to Paris
Now I want to add some data on the Etteilla side that I think is helpful, namely, a "Petit Etteilla" included in the book Le Bohémien, contenant l’Art de tirer les cartes, suivi par l’Art d”Escamoter, et de l’application des Rêves aux Numéros de la Lotterie
. My copy is Paris 1802, but it was originally 1797 according to DDD, note 65 on p. 275.
Although anonymous, there are good reasons to think the author, or at least editor, was Jacques Saint-Sauveur. After attending school in Paris, at least until 1772, he followed his father’s career in the diplomatic service and then wrote illustrated travel books; he also seems also to have been known for performing magic tricks, which is what the second half of Le Bohemien
is devoted to explaining. Decker, Depaulis and Dummett state that he published a Petit Etteilla, i.e. a Piquet deck marked with Etteilla’s keywords, sometime in the last years of the 18th century. They also observe that the publisher’s address for the earlier printing of the booklet on magic tricks (Le Petit Escomoteur) is the same as that given for “citoyen” Saint-Sauveur for his Petit Etteilla.
L’Art de tirer les cartes
is a compendium of different methods of reading ordinary playing cards, using different layouts and different sets of meanings. About the short treatise, again called Le Petit Etteilla, the editor says it is a transcription of a work that Etteilla printed privately for friends in 1771. In it are two sets of cartomantic meanings for the Piquet deck. The editor says that a copy fell into his hands, and he went to visit Etteilla in 1772, to ask permission to reprint it. He continues (p. 46; I thank Alain Bougereal for disentangling the first line):
Eteilla fut plus loin, et crut me devoir des obligations de réimprimer ce petit amusement, duquel il n'avoit prétendu tirer aucun parti; ayant donné cette manière de tirer les cartes a l'âge de quinze ou seize ans, et l'ayant vérifiée juste à celui de trente-trois.
(Eteilla went further, and considered that he should pay me if I reprinted this little amusement, from which he had not claimed to take any advantage; having given this way of drawing cards at the age of fifteen or sixteen, and having just verified it at thirty-three.)
Since Etteilla was born in 1738, Decker, Depaulis and Dummet point out, he would have “given” this work in 1753 or 1754, and “verified” its correctness in 1771. They note that what comes next “strongly resembles Etteilla’s own very peculiar style.” This early date is consistent with other reports attributable to him. A 1791 document, to which Etteilla gave his signature, also characterizes him as “giving” (donnant) his method in 1753. Somewhat confusedly, it also speaks of him writing an “abrège” (synopsis) in 1757. However in 1785 he said he wrote that work in 1753. In any case, its first set of meanings is much the same as those of his book of 1770.
As to where this system came from, the 1791 document mentions only “three elderly persons” imprisoned for cartomancy in Paris 1751-1753. This passage was misleadingly paraphrased by DDD, who say only that he "restored" their false meanings (p. 97), leaving it unclear on what basis he did so. Decker corrected this impression (The Esoteric Tarot, 2013). Rather than use his translation, I will give the French original plus as literal a translation as possible (I get the French from the little white book that accompanies the France Cartes edition of the Petit Etteilla, which agrees 100% with that in the British Museum, except for not including the address of "citoyen" Saint-Sauver at that time.):
Notre auteur, dès 1753, en donnant la manière de lire les significations adaptées aux cartes, avaid non seulement rediges les fausses significations que les trois personnes leur admettaient, chacune de leur côté; mais il avait en outre accordé ces significations, en prenant légitimement pour le neuf de coeur celle de la victoire, qui, par une autre de ces trois personnes, était mal à propos attibutuée au neuf de carreau, etc.
(Our author, from 1753, giving the manner of reading the meanings adopted by the three persons, not only rectified the false meanings that the three persons granted them, each on their part; but he also harmonized these meanings, taking from them legitimately for the nine of hearts that of victory, which by another of these three persons, was improperly attributed to the nine of diamonds, etc.)
What he did, according to this account, was to "harmonize" the three sets of meanings. Decker properly observes (Esoteric Tarot
The fifteen year old Etteilla, although fascinated by the reading of cards, was alert to its inconsistencies, and he confidently addressed them. He tabulated the cards' meanings and issued the tables in print.
Etteilla does not say explicitly how he "harmonized" the meanings, but presumably he eliminated that given by only one, if the other two agreed on something else.
What follows in the 1802 text are these meanings of 1753-1757, as published in 1771. There are two sets, one much shorter than the other, due to there being many more Reversed meanings. Both are of interest. I have cut and pasted the relevant passages from the 1802, by suit, with the first set on top and the second on the bottom. Here are Hearts and Diamonds, then Clubs and Spades:
They largely agree with what he said in 1770. I now give a translation into English of the above (again, please check my translations against what preceded it, cut and pasted from the 1802 book), comparing them to the Bologna document again. You will notice that there are only two hair-colors. That, among other things, leaves spaces for other significations There are four new pairs of interest, which I have put in bold.
In Kings we see a connection between Bologna and Etteilla that wasn't there before: between Bologna's "evil tongue" (mala lingua) and Etteilla's "evil man" (homme mechant).
In Queens we see a stronger connection between "whore" (P--ana) and the Queen of Swords, who is here not a "woman of the world" but a "femme gallante", which means "woman of loose morals". Etteilla substituted "femme du monde" in 1770. But in Bolognese cartomancy we see the term again in the 19th century: the King of Cups is "Gallantuomo P" and the King of Coins (these are the two older men in tarot depictions) is "Gallantuomo". But of course an older male "gallant" is not the same as a young female one. I also do not think it is the same as a "femme d'amour", which I interpret as "wife of love" - but I might be wrong. For these later occurrences of "gallant" see my list of all the Bolognese meanings, from the sheet and also the handwritten words on three later decks, spanning 1820 to 1920.
In Pages we see Bologna's "piensiero da donna" in cropping up in Etteilla's Page of Jearts as "piensee d'un homme blond" (thought of a blond man). This term "Pensée de" never turns up again, although we do have "Pensée" by itself for the 7 of Hearts in 1770. In Bologna, however, "pensiero di..." appears numerous times. In the document there is precisely "piensiero della donna" for the Knight of Hearts., and in later Bolognese cartomancy, the Page of Bastoni "Bastone in pensiero" (as opposed to "Bastone in personne" for the Queen) and "Suo pensiero". The Knight of Swords later gets "piensiero di spadina" (thought of the dagger) and the Knight of Batons "piensiero della Regina" and "pensiero di lui". These later occurrences could not be due to Etteilla's writings, because by 1770 he had removed them everywhere. All that remained was "pensee" for the 7 of Spades.
In the Tens we see the words "courreaux" and "colere", both meaning "anger," which is just a strong version of vexation. Neither word ever appeared in the Petit Etteilla. Yet oddly it does appear in his Tarot, in the same reversed meaning.
These four on the Bolognese side are precisely the ones that couldn't be matched to anything very well in Etteilla. So now there is a 100% match, even if some of them take a bit of imagination. That is more than I would expect if the medium was simply word of mouth from practitioner to practitioner over decades. Even within Bologna, over a fifty year period, there isn't such a match. However since some of the associations are weak, it is still possible.
A feature of the two of these that have the closest match - "gallant" and "pensiero de..." is that they continue to be used in Bologna long after they have disappeared from French cartomancy. In fact they do not appear in any of Etteilla's books, just the 1771 booklet of quite limited circulation. This contrast leads me to wonder if these locutions, "gallant" and "piensiero de/pensée de" are more Bolognese than Parisian. If so the meanings on the Bologna sheet would indeed be at least 1730-1740 if not earlier, to get to Paris by the early 1750s.
An argument against this argument
However there is one eventuality that would reduce this quite reasonable argument to nothing, namely, if someone with Masonic connections had managed to obtain this very poorly distributed booklet and then traveled with it to Italy sometime between 1771, the year Etteilla reportedly printed it, and 1782, the last reasonable date for the Bologna sheet, where he circulated it among Masons in Italy, who then, for protection in case they were betrayed to the authorities (remember that the Index is in full swing and Bologna a papal city), reassigned the meanings to different cards.
This may seem like a remote possibility, but in fact there is someone who fits these conditions, namely Saint-Sauveur himself. His father was a career diplomat who, after years of suffering disgrace, even prison, in Paris, was given a position as consul to Trieste, in precisely March of 1772 (I get this information from the entry for Saint-Sauveur in an 1826 biographical dictionary that Steve linked to at http://tarotforum.net/showpost.php?s=38 ... ostcount=9
). I would expect that the father would have gone first and then, perhaps even at the end of the school year, his family would have followed, including 15 year old Jacques. If he acquired the booklet in 1772 as he says, he would have had it with him going to Trieste. Even though then Austrian, the city was quite close to Venice, which of course is not far from Bologna. If he ever reprinted it, it would have probably been in this new milieu.
Moreover, he is not the only aristocratic French enthusiast of Etteilla-style cartomancy in the area around that time. In her 2018 book The Untold Tarot
, p. 92, Caitlin Matthews gives a long quote from 1779 on the cartomantic meanings of the cards of the Piquet deck:
The general rules are as follows: the hearts indicate happiness and success in gallantry, and the diamonds, of one's interests and finance; clubs are favorable to one's ambitious views, and spades to war projects or military advancement; when contrary, the spades are unfavorable in the affairs of gallantry, the clubs must give reason to fear that financial and business interests go wrong, the hearts announce great disappointment in projects of ambition, and the diamonds act contrary to soldiers. If it is a married man who questions and is distinguished, the king is the most favorable card there is, if is a woman, then it is the queen, and if it is a young person, it is the Valet. The tens signify the greatest happiness or misfortune, then the nines, eights or sevens,in the decreasing order, and finally the ace is the smallest injury or slightest advantage.
Besides the use of the word "gallant" there are other connections with both the Bologna document and Etteilla, besides the obvious ones to men of distinction, women and young men. If Spades are unfavorable to "gallantry", that would explain some of the negative consequences of love in Spades: pregnancy, a trial, letters. tears. Another emotion being played with is trust, given that some Pages turn out to be traitors or thinking of women beyond their station, and women traitors or whores. Likewise the satisfactions of food and drink do not exactly prepare one for battle or other enterprises. Unfortunately de Paulmy does not say which Hearts and Clubs are unfortunate.
Matthews identifies that author as "Paulmy d'Argenson" and herself as the translator, but nothing else. In 1779 there are two people with that name, or rather combined title (Paulmy and Argenson). One was an army officer in Italy in the War of the Austrian Succession in the 1750s who then went back to his chateau in France. Although he published war memoirs, there is nothing from 1779. A more likely candidate is Marc Antoine René de Voyer de Paulmy d'Argenson, who was ambassador to Venice 1766-1770 (https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/1911_Enc ... a/Argenson
). He was also a renowned bibliophile, whose collection formed the basis for the Bibliotheque Nationale, as well as an editor, author, and translator. I notice that the British Museum does have a multi-volume work with 1779 as the initial publishing date (the Britannica indicates 65 volumes), but I have no idea how to access it. or find anything in it
Finally, one small additional bit of information comes from the play "Jack the Giant Killer" of 1730 London, with its four giants (we owe this reference again to Steve, http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... stcount=10
First Woman. You. Lord Gormillan, are the King of Clubs; Lord Thunderdale shall be the angry Majesty of Spades; The Diamond Crown Lord Blunderboar shall wear; and King of Hearts Lord Galligantus shall assume.
Here it seems logical to me that "Galligantus" would be related to "Gallant", just as the other three names derive from the characteristics of their suits. ("Or" as gold in Clubs/Coins, "Thunder" for Spades/Swords, and "Blunder" for the strutting King of Batons) "Or" of course is French, as are the suit meanings, especially appropriate for their tarot equivalents.
Arguments against these arguments
However if Bolognese-style cartomancy passed by word of mouth to Paris, or by diplomatic pouch frm Venice to Masonic circles there, Etteilla's system could well be based on Bologna.
The Kings of "Jack the Giant killer" are of course what in cartomancy are known as significators. Even if there are none explicitly in the Bologna document, all the tarocchi appropriat
i in which cards are assigned to particular people in Bologna, whether ladies, parishioners, or canons, have the same function. Ross in his "brief history" describes something similar in Spain, where the Jack of hearts (female?) was assigned to the lady querent and the king and knight of hearts to the man she was interested in. If in the spread he ended up next to some other jack, that meant she had a rival. This was in the 16th century. I see no reason why such wouldn't have been widespread in Western Europe. In other words, Bologna, among other places in Northern Italy with "tarocchi appropriati", would seem a likely point of origin for the kind of connection of people with cards that is used in "Jack the Giant Killer". Nothing comparable has been found in France that I know of.
It is the same for Etteilla's method of building a prediction from a spread, as he describes it in the 1771-maybe 1757 - document:
La première carte que vous avez, supposons, tirée, est le sept de trèfle; la seconde, la dame de trèfle; vous devez dire, c'est de l'argent qui vient à une femme brune. Si la dame de trèfle étoit venue la première, et le sept de trèfle la seconde, vous auriez dit: c'est une femme (start 55) brune qui enverra de l'argent; à qui ? à la première figure qui vient après.
(The first card you have drawn, let us suppose, is the Seven of Clubs; the second, the Queen of Clubs; you must say, money comes to a brunette woman. If the Queen of Clubs had come first, and the Seven of Clubs second, you would have said: it is a dark-haired woman (start 55) who will send money; to whom ? to the first figure that comes after.
One must convert the keywords, in order, to words of a sentence, subject-verb-object. That is precisely what the tarocchi appropriati
poems did, using the titles of the 22 tarot subjects. The only new thing is that the order of the sentence follows the order of the cards; from my experience, Italian word order is more flexible than French. Again, Italy and not France would be the point of origin, and it would be strange if the practice, after migrating to France, died out completely in its place of origin. While that did happen to the game in some places, notably Ferrara, the same cannot be said for Bologna, which seems to have clung tenaciously to old practices with the deck they considered a Bolognese invention.
Dummett in his article wondered what happened at the beginning of the 18th century that made people suddenly interested not only in cartomancy but in divination of all sorts (p. 79):
Was there a change in the attitude to divination in the XVIII century? So far as I know, no one has enquired into the question; but
it deserves enquiry.
He offers no answer. It seems to me that he needed only to look at the history of his own country, England, which in 1689 had its "Glorious Revolution," with freedom of the press to follow step by step in the decade that followed. Suddenly in that country references to cartomancy abounded. Such freedom could not but be felt next door in France, which eventually relaxed its censorship. If arrests suddenly show up in France for cartomancy in the 1750s, that may well be because others were doing the same practices without penalty, and it was only a matter of who one was or how public it was whether one suffered a penalty. In other words, people were always interested in cartomancy. but in an age of unpredictable censorship, it wasn't safe to say anything.
At least that's what I suspect. However what needs to be determined is whether either of the two French gentlemen I have mentioned had any contact with the person who left us the 1760-1782 document.
How they fit in, in case it wasn't clear in this somewhat disjointed post, is as follows:
First, A, if the Bologna meanings started in Bologna, then
A1. They move slowly by word of mouth and itinerant fortune-tellers to France and then London (in French), by 1830, and survive in France and arrive in Paris by 1750, in the form of three elderly people, from whom somehow the 15 year old Etteilla gets the information.
Or: A2, by 1768 or so, the system gets to Etteilla by means of a more aristocratic informant who is a frequenter of shops specializing in old prints such as Etteilla's. In that case, the information could have been received in France by route A1 or from NE Italy by way of someone with Masonic connections and an interest in cartomancy. The French ambassador to Venice 1666-1670 is such a person.
On the other hand, B, if Bologna received its information from France then either
B1.After developing in France with the Piquet deck, perhaps by 1730, it travels by word of mouth to Bologna, where the reading on the sheet is recorded between 1750 and 1782.
B2. The system, after coming to Etteilla's attention, gets to Italy by way of a French person who had purchased Etteilla's 1771 booklet in Paris and then moved to Northern Italy (including for this discussion Trieste), sharing it with Masonic elements there. They adapt it to Bolognese cards so that it can be used for a reading in Bologna before 1782. The Saint-Sauveurs are such a family.
That's as far as I can get at present.
Well, I can add two short things. First, I do not see any relation between the 6-9 in the later decks and Etteilla's 6-9. It is just the five ranks I have been talking about. Second, if we infer the missing meaning of the Page of Swords from its c. 1820 meaning, "ambasciata", it is an exact translation (or vice versa) of Etteilla's meaning for the Page of Spades, "envoyé": Etteilla in 1770 (p. 12) even says "ambassadeurs, envoyés". Of course by then someone could have gotten that from Etteilla's book, or the Petit Etteilla that Saint-Sauveur published. But that does not seem to have happened with any other cards (although perhaps the Queen of Swords' c. 1820 "afflizione", another meaning missing from c. 1770, has some affinity with "widow").