Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#111
Marcei wrote:
#1. Tarot was invented in the 15th century for game-playing.
I would prefer, “Tarot, defined as a combination of two decks, one having images to be used as trumps and the other a set of playing cards in 4 suits, was invented for game playing in the 15th century.”

I think it is important to define tarot here, because if we ever agree that trumps and pips don't share a common historical origin, (and we probably won't since that statement was removed all together) it would no longer make sense to refer to the image cards as trumps. Perhaps they alone were once known as tarot, and the Italian game invented with their inclusion was Tarocchi?
#2. Tarot's invention arose by adding a new set of cards (the Trumps) to a previously existing type of playing cards deck derived from the 13th century Mamluk deck, consisting of pips and figures divided in four different suits
Agreed with the exception that the word “new” be changed to ”separate” because we really do not know if the sequence of cards that became the trumps existed prior to the time of its addition to the playing cards. In other words I agree with the old #11.

(#3?)Old #11
The trumps and the pips don’t share a common historical origin.
That the trumps and rest of the deck do not share a common historical origin is, I would have thought, agreed upon by the statement that trumps were added to a Mamluk-type deck.

What we CAN'T say is that tarot is a combination of two DECKS, for that presumes that the trumps form(ed) a separate deck on their own, rather than being added (irrespective as to whether they were added as an existing prior set (for which there is no evidence) of added due to gaming considerations and without a prior set of images existing. Still, I personally see no problems with removing the word 'new' - replacing it with 'separate', however, seems to be far more than is warranted by existing evidence. So, how about (taking the point about 'new') changing 2 to something like:
2. Tarot's invention arose by adding cards (the trumps) to a previously existing deck of playing cards that was itself derived from the 13th century Mamluk deck, consisting of pips and figures divided in four different suits;
Marcei wrote:
#3. The set of trumps originally reflected imagery that was common and meaningful that was: a. informed by orthodox religious motifs of the Roman Catholic church; and b. influenced by Trionfi traditions

I propose several separate statements as follows: (#4?) JMD's simple statement,
The set of trumps originally reflected imagery that was common and meaningful.
(#5?): The trump images appear to conform, in general, to Roman Catholic motifs, and they can be seen to support a Roman Catholic narrative. (Note the word “appear” and the phrase “can be seen to.” (#6?) The imagery and sequence may have been influenced by both Trionfi traditions and by the Catholic religion.
Personally, I would NOT go so far as to claim that 'they can be seen to support a Roman Catholic narrative'. A narrative implies a meaningful whole which is something I doubt was case (though I personally consider that it later developed to a coherent whole). However, motifs used by the Roman Catholic church were common enough on religious houses (churches, cathedrals, monasteries, etc) as stories (and writings), paintings and petroglyphs, and THOSE are what, I would suggest, informed some of the imagery. Also using the word 'conforming' rather than 'informing' seems to me far stronger, with the necessary qualification of 'possibly, 'appear', etc needed if 'conforming' is used. On the other hand, 'informing' implies no more than the imagery that was ever-so prevalent would inevitably have played a role in informing other imagery of the period.

With regards to the influence of Trionfi traditions, you're bringing the point in a more focussed way that suggests something more than how I had it: that there is (I presume from earliest times) a sequence and that THIS (as sequence) is informed by trionfi considerations. In that case, I agree that my combined suggestion would perhaps best be separated out or added to into a couple of statements: one about the imagery and the influences thereon (ie, leave as is point 3); the other about comments about the sequence of the trumps (which is also something that Ross had suggested very early on, but in a different way).

So, to take that to something like the following, inserted between current points 3 & 4:
3i The trump sequences that may have been influenced by Trionfi traditions and the Catholic church

Marcei wrote:
#5 The original set of trumps did not reflect a sequence of esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, heretical nor magical narrative
I would amend this to read (#7?): “It is not known whether the original set of trumps was intended to reflect alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, esoteric or heretical information either individually or in a sequentially narrative form.
The problem with this is that it suggests that such may have. Allow me to perhaps explain why I disagree with your suggestion, taking as a basis the point's opening words:

'The original set of trumps did not reflect a sequence [...]'. There now is a wealth of historical work that has been done on the history of astrology, Kabbalah and Alchemy (to take three of those initially). NONE of those three areas have sequences that reflect what is found in the sequence of trump imagery, even when those are variously ordered. This does not mean that later decks were not modified in order for one or another of those to more-or-less be reflected therein, for there is, of course, evidence that this has occured (especially over the past 150 years). Of the thousands of manuscripts in Alchemy, which displays sequences as important in the process; of thousands of manuscripts on astrology (and astronomy), in which sequences or coherent 'sets' are also important (spatially arranged, as opposed to temporally arranged for alchemy); and of the numerous (thousands also?) of Kallalistic tracts (many of which, admittedly, remain in the province of a few Rabbis), NONE even approximate trump 'sequence', but on the contrary each displays their own inherent sequence peculiar to their area (astrology, alchemy, etc.), and that those are generally consistent within each discipline!

The various writings and other illustrations of numerological, heretical, magical and other 'esoteric' documents that are extent and have been studied similarly displays consistency within its discipline, and that those do not mirror nor approximate tarot sequences.

The conclusion is therefore that what IS known of sequences in astrology, alchemy, Kabbalah, etc, does not reflect sequences in tarot.
Marcei wrote:(#8?)There is no evidence that the tarot was originally intended to be used for divination. It is likely, however, that its suitability for this purpose was recognized and that it was used in this way very early on. The earliest currently documented use for divination is ___________.
You're bringing here an important additional point that has not as yet been mentioned!

May I suggest something a little stronger?
7 Tarot is a suitable medium for purposes of divination and character readings and was used as such from the 15th century
________________________________________

If agreed, this would bring the list to something like:

  1. Tarot was invented in what is now Northern Italy in the 15th century for game-playing.
  2. Tarot's invention arose by adding cards (the trumps) to a previously existing deck of playing cards that was itself derived from the 13th century Mamluk deck, consisting of pips and figures divided in four different suits
  3. The set of trumps originally reflected imagery that was common and meaningful that was:
    1. informed by orthodox religious motifs of the Roman Catholic church; and
    2. influenced by Trionfi traditions
  4. The trump sequences that may have been influenced by Trionfi traditions and the Catholic church
  5. Three families of orders arose by the 16th [? 17th?] century for the trump series, referred to as the A ('southern' - Bologna & Florence), B ('eastern' - Ferrara & Venice), and C ('northern' - Milan, also commonly named 'Marseille') patterns
  6. The original set of trumps did not reflect a sequence of esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, heretical nor magical narrative
  7. A "standard tarot deck" has come to include 22 trumps (sometimes delineated as 1 Fool and 21 other trumps), with four other suits which include a total of 16 court cards and 40 pips, for a total equalling 78 cards.
  8. Tarot is a suitable medium for purposes of divination and character readings and was used as such from the 15th century
  9. ...next?[/color]
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Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#112
robert wrote: I'd agree. I think that if you were going to show the ranks of man, this is a lousy choice of 6 cards to do it with, we have a much better example with the "Mantegna" showing a structure. I'm increasingly less convinced that that is what is being demonstrated with the Fool, Bagatto, Popess, Empress, Emperor, Pope. Of course, this begs the question if not ranks of men, then why are those cards there?

The trionfi card's allegory, likely inspired by the theatrical tradition whose name it bares, exaggerates the nature of its characters - the good are really good,, and the low are really low - giving a clear moral lesson without any ambiguity.

I reckon, that like the stock characters from the morality plays, the six characters of the tarot are to be seen as both individuals who face the reversal of fortune and come to death, and also personifications of abstract virtues or vices, representing the eternal struggle for the soul of man.
When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#113
I'm un-happy about the way I phrased that last point (8) above...
Tarot is a suitable medium for purposes of divination and character readings and was used as such from the 15th century
How about something more along the lines of:
8 In addition to gaming, tarot was also used in a form that is embryonic of what later emerges as 'card readings' from the 15th century
Even that is a little too loose....
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Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#114
Hi JMD,

Thanks very much for your thoughtful response to my post.

True to my penchant for precision, I propose a change even for #1: “Tarot, a deck of trumps and playing cards in 4 suits, was invented for game-playing, and all evidence places that event in what is now Northern Italy in the early 15th century.”

JMD, you wrote:"That the trumps and rest of the deck do not share a common historical origin is, I would have thought, agreed upon by the statement that trumps were added to a Mamluk-type deck.” Yes, I had hoped we were all in agreement here, but when #11 was omitted from the list I was afraid that oops!—I do see your note that 11 had become redundant. Good. Ok, Agreed—we're on the same page here.

When you say, however, as #2.“Tarot's invention arose by adding cards (the trumps) to a previously existing deck of playing cards that was itself derived from the 13th century Mamluk deck, consisting of pips and figures divided in four different suits,” it gives the impression that the image cards that were to become permanent trumps were devised at that time and specifically for that purpose and were not also a previously existing group of cards. I don't know if we should make this presumption. In other words, those images could have been a set, or selected from a set, of images that were used for moral instruction, or they may have been part of a set of memory cards, or they may have been part of a story game, etc.—we simply don't know. So I would be happier if the statement read: “Tarot's invention arose by adding a unique group of cards (to be used as a permanent trump suit) to a previously existing deck of playing cards that was itself derived from the 13th century Mamluk deck, consisting of pips and figures divided in four different suits.” Notice I have not said that the image set was previously existing (although I think this is likely), and I have not called it a deck but rather a group. Do you think this might work or is it just too cumbersome?

JMD, you also said, “Personally, I would NOT go so far as to claim that 'they can be seen to support a Roman Catholic narrative'. A narrative implies a meaningful whole which is something I doubt was case (though I personally consider that it later developed to a coherent whole).” That's ok with me. I merely included it here because a similar statement was made as previous #12 and I thought it would fit in better here. I did, however, change the wording to “can be seen to support” because I read the previous version differently than you do. For me, saying that the images are informed by motifs of the Roman Catholic church is FAR, FAR stronger. It implies that the tarot was intended as an extension of Roman Catholic doctrine, when we know that in order to survive at that time, the images HAD to relate to current religious doctrine. So when I say that they “can be seen to support a Roman Catholic narrative” I mean that a Roman Catholic person can interpret the cards in a way that supports or validates the approved Roman Catholic story. A person of a different mindset, however, might interpret the cards differently. So if you can't live with conform, and I can't live with inform, perhaps we might say, “3. The set of trumps originally reflected imagery that was common and meaningful and that related well with orthodox religious motifs of the Roman Catholic Church.” then as #4. ªTrump sequences, may have been influenced by Trionfi traditions, the Catholic Church, and regional preferences.”

What you now propose as #6 reads, “The original set of trumps did not reflect a sequence of esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, heretical or magical narrative. I suggested, “It is not known whether the original set of trumps was intended to reflect alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, esoteric or heretical information either individually or in a sequentially narrative form.” As I understand it, you object to this statement because it leaves the possibility open. Here is why I think the possibility must be left open: (If I am mistaken in my knowledge, I await correction.)

1. We really don't know what the “original” set of trumps looked like. Paraphrasing information from The Arcane Archive, Early Trump-Game Artist Bio Compilation, an internet site: Karnoffel, a trick-taking game thought to be the first to use trumps (it used partial trumps) was popular among German peasantry. The idea of trumps quickly spread. Italians added cards to standard playing cards to create their trumps, while elsewhere, one of the 4 suits was converted to trumps. Many different deck themes were experimented with, and the people designing them were often the better educated who delighted in arcane knowledge. Marziano da Tortona, secretary to duke Filippo Maria Visconti was one of those people. He was a scholar with knowledge of the Classical world as well as a specialist in astrology/astronomy, and he incorporated these interests in the designs of an early tarot-like deck of cards. Not only did he design the cards which were masterfully executed by Michelino da Besozzo, he also wrote a book not about rules of the game, but about the structure of the deck and the meaning and depiction of the images on the cards—so important were they to him. This, and no doubt, other decks both equally and less ornate are lost to us. We don't know whether the curious set of images that has come to be called the major arcana originated in this way. It does not matter whether a clear narrative is recognized, for it may have been an incomplete selection of images or image themes from a larger group, especially if in some cases the lavish decks only contained 14 trump cards. In the case of the fuller 22 card trumps, it is clear that many of the cards reflect astrological imagery; and it is also clear that in an elegantly simple way, one can place that series of cards in a circle and see in it a representation of the cycle of life and rebirth (reincarnation). This certainly would qualify as heretical in the 15th century. What all this comes down to relates well to Enrique Enriquez's statement: ”When you hear hoofbeats think horses not zebras.” This advice is good here in North America, but when on the African savanna, one should be more flexible. In the intellectual milieu of the 15th century, one is figuratively on the African savanna.

#7. Agreed.

For #8, you suggest, “Tarot is a suitable medium for purposes of divination and character readings and was used as such from the 15th century.” I am not sure I understand the term character readings. Can you clarify that for me? Also, I take it that you would prefer to avoid the issue of intention. Maybe it could be something like this, “Tarot, in addition to game playing, seems to inspire the imagination and facilitate intuition making it suitable for divination, storytelling, meditation, and creative thinking. It can also be used as a memory device.” Too much? I'm sure we could think of even more uses like to endlessly amuse its enthusiasts!

In a moment I will type these suggestions as one more list for others to comment on. But first, JMD, you might have noticed that I did not address the subject of magic or a magical narrative. This is because, first, I need you to define magic for me. The simplest devices that we use every day to provide us with heat, light and running water, in addition to advanced technologies of x-rays, ultra-sound, indeed the wave technology of the full electro-magnetic spectrum, genetic engineering, liquid crystals, LEDs, fiber optics, are all a kind of magic that sprang from the focus of the mind. When a skilled musician elicits feelings of tenderness or passionate arousal, ebullient joy or melancholy, the heat of anger or joyous energy, or even takes you to rare spiritual heights, is this not magic? A person like Enrique with an advanced understanding of human psychology can magically invoke intended thoughts and feelings through his speech and persona. Indeed, we all use magic every time we interact with someone. We shape our world.

Perhaps you are speaking of ritual magic, which can be uplifting or dangerously controlling. Organized religion is not guiltless here, for it has used heightened states to validate itself and a controlling doctrine that diminishes the individual and reinforces group prejudices against those outside the fold. But religion does not call it magic.

Incidentally, I have noticed something curious of late—a strange phenomenon—in that suddenly I am hearing people promote the idea that the Church was never opposed to the tarot; and I am wondering if this is a version of “if you can't beat them, join them.” It would not be the first time history was rewritten; and in a way, each of us rewrites history by the way we think about it. If we want to get abstract here, we can muse that in a holographic universe, (which actually seems to be supported by cutting edge physics), the present doesn't just affect the future, it also affects the past. Conversely, the future affects the past and the present just as the past affects the present and the future, because everything is present in this moment—this moment is all there is.

Too far out? Ok, back to my observation. I am wondering if there is currently an effort to “clean up the tarot,” I mean disassociate it from anything that is not a part of the Christian tradition in order to make it acceptable. Magic is a frightening word for orthodox or for fundamentalist Christians because they have been taught that magic is evil. So there might be an effort underway to distance the tarot from magic or indeed from anything that is not clearly understood. Fear has worked well as a control program that concentrated power in the hands of the few, but this is a new day. We need to approach what we don't understand with good will and a desire to learn. Not just Christianity, but probably most religions fear that they are dying, and they will die if they remain narrow and controlling, and refuse to grow and respect other points of view. In an ever changing world, that which does not change falls away.

The very act of writing was once called magic, and through image-making artists can, not only represent the natural world, but can combine symbols and line and color and rhythmic intervals that convey highly abstract ideas and emotions that influence others. How is that not magic?

You can no more take magic out of the tarot than you can take it out of the world—its all magic!
___________________________
So the list might be:
1. Tarot, a deck of trumps and playing cards in 4 suits, was invented for game-playing, and all evidence places that event in what is now Northern Italy in the early 15th century.
2. Tarot's invention arose by adding a unique group of cards (to be used as a permanent trump suit) to a previously existing deck of playing cards that was itself derived from the 13th century Mamluk deck, consisting of pips and figures divided in four different suits.
3. The set of trumps originally reflected imagery that was common and meaningful and that related well with orthodox religious motifs of the Roman Catholic Church.
4. Trump sequences, may have been influenced by Trionfi traditions, the Catholic Church, and regional preferences.
5. Three families of orders arose by the 16th [? 17th?] century for the trump series, referred to as the A ('southern' - Bologna & Florence), B ('eastern' - Ferrara & Venice), and C ('northern' - Milan, also commonly named 'Marseille') patterns.
6. It is not known whether the original set of trumps was intended to reflect alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, esoteric or heretical information either individually or in a sequentially narrative form.
7. A "standard tarot deck" has come to include 22 trumps (sometimes delineated as 1 Fool and 21 other trumps), with four other suits which include a total of 16 court cards and 40 pips, for a total equalling 78 cards.
8. Tarot, in addition to game playing, seems to inspire the imagination and facilitate intuition making it suitable for divination,storytelling, meditation, and creative thinking. It can also be used as a memory device.
9. We need something here—9 is the number of completion.

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#115
Marcei wrote:

Incidentally, I have noticed something curious of late—a strange phenomenon—in that suddenly I am hearing people promote the idea that the Church was never opposed to the the tarot; and I am wondering if thist is a version of “if you can't beat them, join them.” It would not be the first time history was rewritten; and in a way, each of us rewrites history by the way we think about it. If we want to get abstract here, we can muse that in a holographic universe, (which actually seems to be supported by cutting edge physics), the present doesn't just affect the future, it also affects the past. Conversely, the future affects the past and the present just as the past affects the present and the future, because everything is present in this moment—this moment is all there is.

9. We need something here—9 is the number of completion.

Hello all,

On a provokative way I suggest to put in 9 position (to close cycle):
9 Now Tarot deck appears to have a specific code in it. Made of successive addition of various cards up to a total of 78 cards.

Scientific spirit means permanent evolution and our present reality is mostly made of our level of conscience and experiences.
As said Marcei about Church and Physics all is evolution and Tarot is an evoluating "object" who was build up time after time to be fully operational in end.

To give a rough image of it Tarot is a sophisticated computer well fitted (with a software in it of course).

Of course nobody will agree with this proposal here I suppose, but it was my pleasure to write it and shows you my deep heart thinking.

Have a nice day

Yves Le Marseillais :-h
Personne n'est au dessus de l'obligation de dire la vérité.
Nobody is above obligation to tell truth.

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#116
Hi Yves,

Great to hear from you.

I certainly agree that our present reality is mostly made up of our level of consciousness (I think that's what you meant) and experiences.

The dynamic quality of the tarot never ceases to amaze me. It seems to connect with everyone who is open to it regardless of culture, religion or educational level. As you have said, it is a sophisticated computer. Its software is our minds!

Blessings, @};-
Marcei

what about Occam's razor?

#117
Hello Marcei.
Many things are possible, almost everything is actually possible. In order to be as informative as possibile, I think it is the case to use Occam's razor, and exclude all things that do not help in making specific facts clearer. I don't think that the Building Blocks should be an exahustive list of all that is possible. They should be a list of solid theories for which there is a lot of evidence.
Marcei wrote: In other words, those images could have been a set, or selected from a set, of images that were used for moral instruction, or they may have been part of a set of memory cards, or they may have been part of a story game, etc.—we simply don't know. So I would be happier if the statement read: “Tarot's invention arose by adding a unique group of cards (to be used as a permanent trump suit) to a previously existing deck of playing cards that was itself derived from the 13th century Mamluk deck, consisting of pips and figures divided in four different suits.” Notice I have not said that the image set was previously existing (although I think this is likely), and I have not called it a deck but rather a group. Do you think this might work or is it just too cumbersome?
I think that "history" means making sense of the facts we know. Since there are no facts suggesting that the trumps existed as a "set" or "group" before the invention of Tarot, we must assume that the sequence is an original contribution of Tarot and was invented by the inventor(s) of Tarot. If there are elements that suggest that the group of the trumps existed as a group before tarot, they are not known to me. If such elements exist, of course we must take them into account.
Marcei wrote: For me, saying that the images are informed by motifs of the Roman Catholic church is FAR, FAR stronger. It implies that the tarot was intended as an extension of Roman Catholic doctrine, when we know that in order to survive at that time, the images HAD to relate to current religious doctrine. So when I say that they “can be seen to support a Roman Catholic narrative” I mean that a Roman Catholic person can interpret the cards in a way that supports or validates the approved Roman Catholic story. A person of a different mindset, however, might interpret the cards differently.
Other games that were created in the XV Century include a few biblical elements, but they do not display any specifically Christian content. I am thinking of Marcello/Michelino, Sola Busca, Boiardo. In order to survive, cultural products had to be compatible with the Roman Catholic church, but the Tarot trumps are not only compatible.
Standard tarot includes a number of specifically Christian symbols: the allegory of Church (la Papessa, holding the Christian cross), the Pope, the devil, the resurrection of bodies on judgement day.
This is what makes standard tarot different from other more or less contemporary games, and possibly this is the reason for the success of standard tarot.

Marcei wrote: What you now propose as #6 reads, “The original set of trumps did not reflect a sequence of esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, heretical or magical narrative. I suggested, “It is not known whether the original set of trumps was intended to reflect alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, esoteric or heretical information either individually or in a sequentially narrative form.” As I understand it, you object to this statement because it leaves the possibility open. Here is why I think the possibility must be left open: (If I am mistaken in my knowledge, I await correction.)
....
In the case of the fuller 22 card trumps, it is clear that many of the cards reflect astrological imagery;
We should only leave open possibilities that help explain some known fact.

Astrological imagery includes almost everything. Of course, the Moon, Star and Sun are celestial bodies, but I agree with Ross about the fact that such elements are too simplified to be considered an astrological structure. They are more likely to be a simplified cosmological scheme. Medieval astrology was based on the seven planets, but the seven planets are not present in the trump sequence. The minchiate deck is an example of a Tarot extension that includes Zodiacal astrology. But that is a later developement of "standard" tarot.
Marcei wrote:it is also clear that in an elegantly simple way, one can place that series of cards in a circle and see in it a representation of the cycle of life and rebirth (reincarnation).
One can worship the Devil card in order to receive magical help from it. Or one can use a two of hearts card to sign a pact a with the Devil. One can play Starway to Heaven backwards and find Satanic messages in it. This things tell us something about the cultures that developed such interpretations, but there is no reason to suppose that those were the intended uses of the original objects (cards or songs).

Marco

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#118
Hello all,

I agree with what Marco just wrote, and just want to add a couple of comments.

The idea of several lectures being possible on the tarot’s narrative makes me uncomfortable because it is anachronistic. We now think in terms of comparative religions but such overview wasn’t the norm four hundred years ago. Nothing in the art and literature of the Middle Ages was created so the viewer could see whatever she liked in terms of reincarnation, awakening the kundalini, washing the chakras, etc. These doctrines don’t belong to Western European spirituality, and therefore, such ideas put us again in the realm of those who insist on the tarot having an ancient, mystical, origin. As interesting as such line of inquiry may be, I am not sure it fits within the building blocks of the confirmed tarot history, the one that is supported by evidence.

There is some evidence about the tarot being used for divination from a very early point in time, but none such evidence support the idea of the tarot being created for divination at its purpose. If we sacrifice a goat, cook it and serve it in a ritual meal, we could search afterwards for these little bones diviners use, but goats weren’t created for divination purposes. I would hesitate on suggesting that divination and gaming goes hand on hand when it comes to tarot history. As Marco pointed out, the ‘building blocks’ shouldn’t be all-inclusive, but be limited only to what can be supported by enough evidence.

In regard of astrology, the problem I see is one of consistency. If we were to acknowledge some astrological content in the sequence we will soon see that the representational strategy isn’t always the same for all signs. When we can’t see all the zodiac signs depicted following the same representational strategy we can’t talk about an ‘overall design. On the other hand, the Christian motif is represented in a consistent way all along that trump cycle. The fact that is more readable lends itself to the validity of the hypothesis. Once an again, Occam Razor.

I agree on that ‘everything is possible’, but we can only write down as building blocks what is probable. We must do that not because we like the facts nor because they validate our philosophical or practical positions, but because these facts can be backed-up with evidence.


Best,



EE
What’s honeymoon salad? Lettuce alone
Don’t look now, mayonnaise is dressing!

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#119
Hi all...not to throw any monkey wrenches into the consideration, but pretty much all 560 pages of my recent work argues against:

There is no esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, heretical, magical in the narrative of the trumps.

Of course, each of those above concepts stands in its own history and can not be jumbled up together (particularly 'esoteric' which is simply the 'inner' understandings and realization of spirituality, found in _all_ great spiritual traditions).

What seems to be missing here is realization that Easter Christian influences addressing the Ladder of Divine Ascent were strong in Italy during and after the time of the Ecumenical Council of Churches (initiated in Venice, moving to Ferrara, then Florence). The narrative of a Great Return to the Unity Source of all, i.e. Heaven and its Law, is very much represented in the Triumphs. That narrative forms the very core of esotericism in the great religions. Esoteric does not equal 'occult'.

-Dai
Dai Leon
http://www.OriginsOfTheTarot.com

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#120
If we are agreeing that the card images are based on the trionfi tradition of allegories, that would appear to indicate that there is some significance to their sequences. But from what we can tell of the trionfi tradition, it seems that those sequences were originally at the beck and call of the literary framer of the sequence, and could vary based on the needs of the narrative or the point of the allegory. The trionfi also drew on other sources of late medieval allegory, including the mystery and miracle play cycles. Some of the images, especially to the extent that they depict beings and events from Christian theology, probably come from the plays rather than the trionfi generally.

There do seem to be a number of universals shared by every variant order.

1. Human figures < Allegorical figures < Cosmological figures < Eschatological figures.
2. The human figures would appear to be loosely ranked by social status.
3. The eschatological figures would appear to be sequenced according to Christian theology.
4. In decks that contain the image, the Grim Reaper is always number 13, even in traditions that expand or reduce the number of trump cards and symbols.
5. In decks that contain the Devil, he is usually followed by an emblem of disaster and misfortune: a lightning struck tower, a lightning struck tree, or damned souls possibly escaping from (Minchiate) or being drummed into (Paris Tarot) Hell.

At a very early date, the image on the card came to be more important than the name, and would appear to have preceded them. This may have affected the order, and may not have. E.g. in the Minchiate, the angel sounding a trumpet is reinterpreted as an allegory of Fame rather than the Last Judgment, but that card remains among the eschatological figures. The World may have originally been based on the standard image of Christ Pantocrator, and underwent a sex change without changing the mandorla or sceptre of the composition. But if The Papess was originally an allegory of Faith or Prudence, she was reduced in rank when reinterpreted.
Le beau valet de coeur et la dame de pique
Causent sinistrement de leurs amours défunts.

- Baudelaire

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