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Emblems and Tarot History

To: alt.magick,alt.tarot,alt.magick.tyagi
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: Emblems and Tarot History (was Re: 'Real' vs. 'Nonhistorical....)
Date: 27 May 1997 12:48:39 -0700

49970527 AA1  Hail Satan! (R Brzustowicz):
>An emblem is not a simple object (like "+" or "-", or like a crucifix or a
>cave).  It is a scene or tableau, in which objects with both conventional
>and "symbolic" meanings are arranged in a pattern that can be read
>according to some set of conventions.  (An icon could be regardec as a
>special case of this; a coat of arms could also be seen as emblematic.)

>In the emblem book tradition, the image was usually accompanied by a
>title, by a verse, and by a text.  (_Atalanta Fugiens_ is a great example
>of this, by the way.)  In a very strict sense, one might want to take
>"emblem" to refer only to images occuring in emblem books.

>I would prefer to use the word "emblem" (and its adjective, "emblematic")
>in a broader sense, to refer to images constituted from arrays of signs
>(and symbols) according to conventions (explicit, or implicit but
>eventually specifiable) that allow them to be "read"....

>"Emblem" provides a category that can include icons, heraldric devices,
>tangkas, devotional pictures, memory images, and other similar items.

from the preface to the Haus Kaos copy of _Atalanta Fugiens_:

	The fact that the composer is no Monteverdi, the illustrator
	no Rubens, is not only irrelevant to the purposes of the
	emblem book: it is actually an advantage.  The fugues and
	emblems are not entertainments, much less expressions of
	personal emotions, which is what early 17th century music
	and art were mainly concerned with.  They are supports for
	contemplation.  Hence their repetitive nature, for in
	contemplation one does not need novelty or variety, but a
	focus for the attention.

	...My own approach to the work, and to emblem-books in]
	general, is as a compilation which invites one to impose
	one's own structure, just as in the Hermetic work one 
	brings into order the confused mass of the Prime Matter.
	The Hermeticists of the early 17th century likened this
	task to that of the Creator, organizing Cosmos out of Chaos
	according to archetypal laws of measure, number and weight.
	Dr. Streitch's essay, similarly, makes a cosmos of its own,
	self-consistent and illuminating by considering the fugues,
	especially the last ones, in numerical sequence.  Maier
	has furnished the material for this and for other organi-
	zations: witness Adam McLean's analysis of the emblems
	into seven groups of seven, plus one ("Michael Maier's
	Atalanta Fugiens: Links with the Archetypal Symbolism of
	the Vault", in McLean, ed., *A Compendium on the 
	Rosicrucian Vault*, Edinburgh, Hermetic Research Series,
	1985, pp. 122-30 and folding plates; a new edition from
	Phanes Press is forthcoming).  A work as rich as this
	can never be exhausted, nor will the last word ever be
	said on it.

				--  Joscelyn Godwin
	_Atalanta Fugiens_, by Michael Maier, tr./ed. by Joscelyn
	  Godwin, Phanes Press, 1989; pp. 16-7.

from this I think we can gather support for the contention that the
meaning of emblems are not necessarily in any way always intended
by their originators, nor is the sole value always to be found in
the originator's ideas on same.  _Atalanta Fugiens_ expresses a kind
of skeletal significance which can be interpreted in a variety of
valuable ways.  this is even more true of _Mutus Liber_, which only
contains graphics or with daDaist collage-emblembooks like those
constructed by Max Ernst.

as the progression from the Mutus to the Atalanta to what later came
to be tarot deck+book emblem-assemblage, not only was the intent to
somehow indicate the cosmic significance of the cards themselves
(whether solely through an explication of their meaning or in also
attributing to them mythic origins), but also to connect their use
and purpose to the procedures of oracular divination (clearly to be
seen in the descriptions of the Small Cards in _Book T_ and _The Tarot_).

I'm beginning to compile a small list of names for further study in
the origins of tarot as a field and I gather that the following may be
a good start: de Gebelin (for his imaginative promotions), Levi (for 
his consolidation of structure and synthesis of occult concepts), Smith
and Waite, (for their work in revitalizing the tarot and deriving the 
emblematic qualities of the Small Cards, Waite (alone for his mass-
marketing of his deck as a tool of magic), Case (for his refinement of 
the cards and focussed instruction on contemplation of the emblems as an 
essential study of the tarot), the author(s) of _Book T_ (GD; who 
apparently codified a symbolic association with the cards in a meaningful 
and rationally-coherent system), Harris and Crowley (for their work in 
revising the deck as a whole and its particular components), and Crowley 
(for his refinement of tarot philosophy and its particular symbolic 
components to fit his own preferred ideological slant, elaborated with
fluency in _The Book of Thoth_).

I'd appreciate review, additions and correction to the above, thanks.

blessed beast!

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