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Tarot: 78 Cards?

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.tarot,alt.divination,alt.magick
From: nagasiva 
Subject: Tarot: 78 Cards?
Date: Fri, 01 Nov 2002 19:28:39 GMT

50021101 VII Winter's Day

"Taliesin2" :
>> ...Why is there 78 cards in a Tarot deck?

FAQ: Why does the occult tarot have 78 cards?

short answer: because it derives from a gaming deck with 78 cards.

"Asiya" :
> Tarot decks were originally developed to play a game in the fifteenth
> century. The rules and game play are affected by the number of cards.

that accounts for the card game decks, right.

> There were decks early on that didn't have 78 cards (some more, some
> less), but these were modifications to the standard of 78 for gaming
> purposes.

what about occult tarot? most seem to have stuck with 78, even up to
modern decks, despite the variation in art, which seems often to look
back to Pamela Coleman Smith (popular and arguably for good reason).

>> What is significent of that number.
> Same significance that "52" has for regular playing cards.

not exactly. there are 52 weeks in a year. this has implications
which 56 cards or more accurately 78 cards do not really touch.

> Qabalistically, the 22 cards that make up the Major Arcana correspond
> to the 22 Hebrew letters and paths on the Tree of Life. 

you switched to occult decks without a turn signal there. do you mean
that the game decks somehow resonated not only in number but also in
card face content? or do you hold with the more popular opinion that
the entirety was a composite creation made from sometimes ill-fitting
components? i.e. my impression is that the art was changed somewhat
in the Major cards from most gaming decks, and that the placement of
scenes on the Minor was less common (I'd still like to hear a descript
of where he got those pictures, whether they were from fortune-telling
decks, literature of a particular type, or fabricated entirely).

> The four suits
>of the Minor Arcana correspond to YHVH, the four elements, the four
>worlds. In each Minor Arcana suit, the 10 numbered cards correspond to
>the 10 Sephiroth. The 16 court cards represent 16 "subelements", Queen
>of Wands is "Water of Fire", Knight of Wands is "Air of Fire" etc.

this is how it has been mapped, yes.

> This is not to say, however, that the structure (number of cards and
> division of suits) was purposefully selected by the original designers
> to convey these ideas. 

no, but it may have been what drew occultists to Tarocci. one might 
compare the draw to Chaturanga and the creation of Enochian Chess. 
the history of occult divination is strewn with games and cyphers.

> Rather, this is how occultists read into the structure.

actually, once the structure is extracted from the gaming decks,
then whatever they say about their deck as to its meaning and
composition (barring irrationality) is what it represents. the
structure is being borrowed for a particular arcane purpose and
manifests according to the will of the magician. displacement of
the tool from one context (gaming) to another (occultism) is just
one of the skills exhibited by the mage creating the oracle.

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