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Sir Brax on Tarot

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.tarot,alt.divination,alt.religion.wicca,alt.pagan.magick
From: nagasiva 
Subject: Sir Brax on Tarot
Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2003 06:08:34 GMT

50031015 viii om my comments [in square brackets]

[--- Part 1 -- Intro and Tarot History Fragment]

"Sir Brax" :
# way of using The Tarot Deck... ...split ....

compiled here, my response to the whole follows. I note that 
English is not your first language and I'm trying to translate 
your text as I respond to it in as kindly a way as I'm able.
Marseille seems your gig, so I'll imagine you're French. :>

# ...The Marseille... and Toth [were] the two most prized....
# [of usenetizens, apparently]

Smith-Waite is popular (prized?). Harris-Crowley Thoth is very
well-regarded. the Marseille apparently has a strong following.

# ...The Tarot ...wasn't designed for ['knowing the hidden]
# at first.

it's true! first it was a card game, like Four Seasons (Chess),
which became "Enochian Chess", or Four-Handed Chess became
what I shall call "Yichess" (4-Player Chess-Yijing-Mercury
Game using dice and easily used in conjunction with any Yi
for divination *and* magic), and then it became "The Book of
Thoth" by dint of deception and fabrication!

# ...The clues to decipher the Tarot are : Numbers and geometry.

I like that thesis. it incorporates Pythagorean virtues in a
nutshell and allows for a variety of applications. lovely. I
would add *dice*, though most probably prefer less precision
in defining to what a Tarot must include.

# If you think that you can make a Tarot of your own, because
# this don't ask so may, but this will NOT be a Tarot.
# just an Oracle. Oracles are card deck MADE for scrying and
# playing. more easy to focus on the Card with them, less
# symbolic. Their purpose is to assist the "medium" who want
# to sense whatever situation he want to clarify.

while I disagree that an occult Tarot constructed of one's own
is not in fact a Tarot deck (as long as it conforms, who are we
to judge?), I can see the value in the distinction you are making
between cartomancy and tarotomancy here. one might compare a bowl
or mirror carved or painted with a variety of spirit-sigils and
one painted black for the purpose of projection. it is something
about which I've differed in discussion about proto-(occult) Tarot
gaming decks and their sparseness of symbolism (esp in Small Cards).

# The Tarot is a Book. We could call it, The book of Thehouti
# (Thoth) and Crowley understood it  too. Is-it Egyptian? No
# proof had ever be given that A Tarot was ever made or used
# in Old Kemit (Egypt),and even if a Tarot like the Etteila is
# called Egyptian, This deck is only old from some centuries....

indeed. Paul Christian seems to have been inspired by de Gebelin
and de Mellet's notions about Egyptian Tarot, and Papus ran with
it very fast. Christian's Egyptian rituals keyed to Major Arcana
titles seems to have proven very convincing to generations. you
make it clear later how cards weren't found in Egypt and that 
it was only 1065 or so that anything that *might* be related to
cards is extant, then how the Tarot game itself probably didn't
come about until the 14th century, so I barely responded to it
in Part 3 below.

# ...the second AC, in the city of Venice, called Al-Bunduqiyyah
# by the Egyptians. A Alexandrian Scholar, Basilides, come to
# the city, with a large amount of Ideas and texts, and a dream..
# founding a perfect balance between ALL philosophy and religions,
# He thought that the "Gnosis" could be the perfect match between
# Paganism and The new born religions, as Catholicism is becoming.

what of the Jews, some of which *were* pagan??

# the secret court of Venice, Occultist, Hermetist, Gnostics, Mages
# and likes will stay there..until the need to create something "easy" to
# carry is coming to thought. Something simple, who could be a book, but
# who doesn't have the form of a book.something coded, something who
# would be a synthesis of all what they had found out. The Tarot deck
# is born there, somewhere round the fourteenth century.

entertaining tale. is there any support for it in reliable texts?
I mean, I am aware that Basilides existed, and that he may well
have created Gnostic baubles, but is there some reason to think
that he should be connected with divination at all, let alone some
Book of Tahuti other than that fashioned for this lovely story?

[--- part 2 -- Symbolism and Its Relation To Tarot as Science ]

# ...To say that Symbolism is a Science to explore and explain
# symbols, is surely true..but don't take some other aspects of it.

interesting. my impression was that symbolism isn't an individual
science per se, but moreso a body of study that is multicultural
and cataloging. it seems to form part of anthropology or sociology,
or become the province of study of eclectic mystics and occultists
as global cultural interfusion complexifies. my current favourite
in this line of character is that by J.C. Cooper. I'm sure there
are better, but this one has breakdown by culture and time period.

some occultists, mystics and philosophers attempt to describe
symbolism itself as an occult science, forming part of an
overarching theology and cosmology. this seems to be what 
you are doing here also. typically this is fabricated and
fallacious, promoting a particular sociopolitical platform
and cosmological perspective (e.g. Cirlot's "Dictionary of
Symbols", published by the Philosophical Library, which I do
NOT recommend except as an example of this extreme, and in
particular cf. the introduction!).

# To understand the Symbolism of the Tarot, we must give at this
# science a place within a ensemble of Five Occult Sciences. Magic
# ... or High Magic like It is often called by your side; Astrology,
# Alchemy, Symbolism and Mythology.... Those five fields where, and
# still are, those who prevail to the making of the Tarot Deck, and
# are the sciences where the Tarot can still be at use too... Five
# sciences, Who could be divided as Three, one, one. High magic,
# Astrology and Alchemy are the active sciences..inter-related.
# Symbolism is the way to code and share the information about and
# from those three sciences.. Mythology is the way to pass them
# through the ages.

astrology, magic, and alchemy + symbolism and mythology. again, a
very intriguing hypothesis. this doesn't integrate divination per
se, though it has representation in astrology, and you're locating
Tarot somehow within this. I tend to group "occult" subjects into
Alchemy / Divination / & Magic, and this seems to cover them all
with few real conflicts or overlaps (astrology falling into the
divinatory category, though I understand the folder-busting here).

# Mostly all people here Knows that Lore's and Legends are more
# than often a way to pass information, or in another saying "
# some secret knowledge", through the eons of time. a legend can
# survive...history will fade often in memories. The key to
# decode a legend IS Symbolism.

the fabulous "Hamlet's Mill" of course agrees completely with
your general premise here, being a contention that mythology is
specifically an astronomical databank pointing toward Precession
of the Equinoxes and the Change in the Cosmic (really human
conceptual) Center. Jungians will no doubt find this meaningful
insofar as psychological imagery and form is supposed to reside
in the deep mind as part of a person and be synched with the 
cards on account of some mysterious "archetypes" -- never seen.

# Now, since I mention some numbers here. Five, three, one, one.
# another symbolistic view can be seen : The value of the numbers
# are important. The value used in the Major arcane, as in the
# minor, of the Tarot goes from 1 to twelve, and reverse. So,
# all numbers from 0 to 12 have a meaning, and more than that,
# a charge on their own.

I'm not sure I'm following your logic of 5-3-1-1 and 0->12 here.
the first is a 5 / 8 / 9 / 10 progression, the latter a 13-unit
sequence. 10 are the Numbers for sure, and I could even see the
13-units mapped to the 13-set of the Small Cards (A->13/K), but
the relation with Trumps is not at all apparent to me yet (you've
got 2 extra with the 5-3-1-1 (x2) and 4 too many with the 13 (x2).
the dodecadology of Tarot isn't something with which I'm really
familiar. 2=>9 x4 will produce 36 (3x12), and there are 12x2(-2)
trumps, I guess (usually set into septanaries on account of Fool).

I'd like to hear more about this 12-theme in tarotic numerology,
if you would expand on it somewhat. if I find anything on it myself
during my researches I'll post it here. Calaban recently mentioned
"Secundadeian Beings", but I doubt these are related. :>

# Some of you accustomed to the Kabbalah or Hermetism known for
# sure what I talk about.

oh sure, the history of (occult) Tarot pretty much *begins* with
the association of the Major Arcana with the Hebrew letter-numbers
in "Monde primitif", by Court de Gebelin in the 1780s.

# ...Kabbalist, as many other, had contribute to the making of
# the Tarot deck....

are you saying here that Basilides was a Kabbalist, or that he
was instrumental in contacting Kabbalists in the construction
of the Book of Thoth? there is no end to the number of contentions
that (occult) Tarot was constructed by Kabbalists (usually on the
basis of the number 22 in the Trumps), and in some tarotic trads
(like the GD) there is some French effort to adhere to the source
of the Sefer Yetzira for attributions of Elements/Planets/Signs,
right through to today's occult Tarot!!

# The Tarot is a close relate name to Rota, [which] is the
# Italian (latin) name for Wheel, and since the Taro(t) is
# also a anagram of TORA(t), we can see some analogy here.
# only a T too much, or maybe not??? Why a T at the front,
# and at the end..? I let guess yourself why... but the
# Tarot is, indeed, also a Wheel. like a snake biting his
# own tail, the Ouroboros.A infinity with a value. Zero.

neat poetry. Decker and Dummett stipulate that the TARO-ROTA
thing was characteristic of the occult society The Hermetic
Brotherhood of Luxor. there are so many different legends
about the cards and its content that it can be fun to try to
untangle them all. pretty much *all* of them are fraudulent!
it bodes slightly ill for the occult device when all its
fabulosity crumbles into what Waite called "a poor performance".

# ...each Science, and parts of it, has two aspects: an outside
# aspect: operative, and an inner aspect: reflective....

sort of like Freemasonry: operative and speculative. neato.

[--- part 3 -- The Symbolism of the Marseille Tarot Deck]

# Here we delve further into the "secrets of the Tarot Deck....
# The representation I talk here are all from the "Marseille Deck",
# and especially the one from Grimaud.

I'm curious why you like the Grimaud so much as compared to others.

# ...The First mention of the possible use of cards hang on round
# 1054 by a Greek grammarian of Lombard origin  who's name Was
# Papias. "Mappa etiam dicitur vel forma ludorum" ; Mappa is a
# paper blade, who "could" also be used for a card game. But,
# this isn't surely something close related to our card games
# or Tarot Deck.

# The first Tarot who appeared have slight differences in the way to
# "represent" the arcanas, but none over the value given. One very
# old Tarot is the Visconti deck, who, at first, seemed to be older
# than The Marseille Deck, and where the comparison of the arcanas
# give some differences in the meaning that they can be given...
# but again, no date and proof to be sure that the Visconti is not
# a bit "younger" than expected..

Kaplan does a decent job of presenting all the old decks including
the Visconti Sforza in his Encyclopedia of Tarot by U.S. Games.

# So, we came to one conclusion : The most renown, and for sure by
# reason, Tarot deck is The Marseille Deck by Grimaud.

why is that? I'm not sure I understand how you arrived at this

# Now, One of the reason that some people dislike this deck is
# also coming from the extremely aggressive color of the arcanas...

# Seven color are used in this deck, no more, no less.... Seven.
# Not the "seven color of the rainbow", because this is legend...

ROYGBIV is not legend. making that deck today perhaps I might
employ these 7, or more fruitfully, some more elegant set like

  R      Y       Bl    
     O       G        P

# SIX color and one given by the hand who made it 6 + 1 = 7.
# because only three primary color exist, and this "seventh"
# color is only a distortion.

which you detail as: Yellow, Red, Blue, Green, Black, White,
and Flesh. symbolically, there's a GAPING HOLE without 
Orange and Purple. whatever we might determine Orange and
Purple could mean within its symbolism, this might be
considered the 'Shadow Side' of the Grimaud Marseille Tarot
(made up for in the mardi gras of The Voodoo Tarot? LOL!).

# The Tarot is a Guide for the human, and for what a human
# can become.

as I understand it, the Marseille was made as a game, not as
some cosmic guide. if you have evidence to the contrary, I'd
enjoy hearing about it. thank you.

# here are the colors
# Yellow : Gold, and everything who is ripe, honing, the
#          work of man under the sun
# Red :    Fire, blood, life.... the rhythmic life, red is
#          a "inside" color
# Blue :   extremely intense here, the color of the sky at
#          the morning, the color of the ocean. Blue is a
#          "outside" color

often water in the Smith-Waite

# Green :  Dark and not often utilized, this is not a
#          "young green", but the green of vegetal life.

Emerald? Deep warm Olive? these are on some GD colour scales.

# Black :  only in three arcanas, the color of what lies
#          beneath...The color of Al Khemia, the dark
#          soil of Egypt. The color of promises, if you
#          come with your lamp... to enlighten the cave
#          .........the color of unknown.
# White :  Snow, lily, purity.......also the paper blade,
#          virginity and neutrality. this white is there
#          with dots...he is in 19 of the major arcanas.
#          Detail : the sum of the two first Arcanas who
#          didn't use it give the number of the third Arcanas.

I'm not sure I understand this "Detail" comment. elaborate?

# and
# Flesh :  This is the real seventh color... the color of
#          the hand that made it, used in every Arcanas
#          who use human skin representation. 

almost Escherian!

#          This is the
#          great originality of the Marseille deck....and
#          what make it different. 

you think it was one of the first Tarot decks to have the
flesh-colour, or 7 with the 7th *as* the flesh colour?

#          Some objects have also
#          this color, those who are a prolongation of
#          human, and that they must only be seen as it.

very interesting comment!!! I will watch for this and try
to get a good Grimaud Marseille to view it on! thanks.

#          The table in front of the magician, or the
#          Tower struck by lightning...

commentary based on fleshy phallic objects being struck
by lightning or fleshy tables holding up all the tarot
suits welcome. :>


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