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Basic Tarot Definitions/Philosophy

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.pagan.magick,alt.tarot,alt.divination,talk.philosophy.misc
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: Basic Tarot Definitions/Philosophy
Date: 12 Jan 1998 15:30:20 -0800

49971221 aa2 Hail Satan!                Yule tidings for all!

re 'a tantric tarot deck' being satisfied by the Secret Dakini Oracle:
I'm new to the forum to which this is originally sent (tarot-l), so I
should say that while my interest in tarot has given me exposure to
a variety of decks and books which may accompany them, I have found
that the Harris-Crowley 'Thoth' deck provided the response of awe
and mystery and continued return in self-readings that I require to
continue doing them, and that when I discovered the Secret Dakini
Oracle I was very excited because not only was it constructed (by
Penny Slinger and Nik Douglas) using collage-technique (an artform
that I have myself worked with for many years), but it integrated
a wide variety of 'tantric' images in playful and significant ways,
allowing a rather positive matching to the disciplining nature of
the Thoth deck.

the purpose for my writing here, however, is less to acclaim these
decks over others (despite being my preference) than to point
out the fuzzy dividing line between tarot and what has come to be
known as 'cartouche'.  decks which did not conform to tarot
standards have, at least by manufacturers and dealers, been
characterized in a different way using this term.  my Bible
(Am. Her. Dic.) defines 'cartouche' as:

        1. *Archit.* A scroll-like tablet used either to
         provide space for an inscription or for ornamen-
         tal purposes.

        2. In ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, an oval or
         oblong figure that encloses characters expressing
         the names or epithets of royal or divine personages.

        3. *Obs.* A heavy paper cartridge case.

        [Fr. < Ital. *cartoccio* < *carta*, card --
                see CARTON.]

        _The American Heritage Dictionary, Second
         College Edition_, Houghton Mifflin Co.,
         1982; pp. 243-4.

I find intriguing the connection both to Italian and
Egyptian sources, reminiscent the Italian *taroccio*
prototype suggested by some tarot historians as well as
the Egyptian origin suggested by many Hermetic religious.
if anyone has some notion of the origin of the usage of
the term 'cartouche' or why it was applied I would love
to hear this (preferrably along with approval to quote
either anonymously or with proper attribution).

and yet this is only the surface of the controversy that
lies waiting to be delved in the study of cartomancy.
where does 'tarot' end and 'cartouche' begin?  there are
many who would claim that the Secret Dakini Oracle,
being devoid of suits, arranged from 0 to 64, having no
discernable 'arcanum' (Greater/Lesser), and possessed
of little traditional Hermetic symbology or structure,
should not be considered a 'tarot deck' at all.

indeed, the authors went so far as to include in their
accompanying book (_The Secret Dakini Oracle_, by Nik
Douglas and Penny Slinger, Destiny Books, 1979; pp. 42-50)
a correspondence table between their deck and traditional
tarot.  the table provides suit-assignments and identifies
the relevant card of traditional decks that corresponds
with their own (generally omitting the Court cards and
proceeding 'down' in the traditional tarot structure).

the Oracle is one of the few card decks that seems to
make few claims to being 'tarot', even while its form
and the intention in creation was in reflection of the
traditional tarot.  some other decks are inspired by
tarot in this way or even patterned directly after it,
and yet vary greatly enough that we must begin to ask
the question: 'how much can a deck be changed before
it can no longer be said to be (even a nontraditional)
"tarot" deck?'.

this really brings us to basic definitions of tarot
philosophy -- questioning the 'nature of tarot':
whether there are significant constants, how many of
these need be present in order to qualify a deck, who
should be or has been deciding where these boundaries
lie, and what repercussions (if any) may result from
such a decision.

the first question in a field of study is always the
most profound and simple, typically structured as a
response to the statement of it as a field.  in tarot
studies the first is 'what is tarot?', and the way we
answer this question displays the particular type of
presumptions we have made about terminology, knowledge,
and the basics which are often overlooked in our rush
to get the 'proper answers'.

blessed beast!
(emailed replies may be posted);; 408/2-666-SLUG
  join the esoteric syncretism in alt.magick.tyagi; 

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