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Various: Tarot Attributions

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.tarot,alt.divination,alt.magick,alt.pagan.magick
From: "J. Karlin" 
Subject: Re: Various: Tarot Attributions
Date: Sun, 04 May 1997 10:59:49 +0000

Bob O'Neill wrote:

> *****************************
> I think your reading of Waite is accurate on the Wheel - I think the
> implication is deliberate.  He got the idea from the French Occultists.
> My disagreement is more like: Waite and the occultists didn't have much
> historical information on the Tarot deck - basically they didn't know
> that it was devised in Italy in the 15th century.  

You're generalizing too much here.

Waite writes---

"I end, therefore, the history of this subject by repeating 
that it has no history prior to the fourteenth century, when 
the first rumours were heard concerning cards. They may have 
existed for centuries, but this period would be early enough, 
if they were only intended for people to try their luck at 
gambling or their luck at seeing the future; on the other hand, 
if they contain the deep intimations of Secret Doctrine, then 
the fourteenth century is again early enough, or at least in 
this respect we are getting as much as we can."

And, more than this he says re: what Court de
Gebelin made of the history of tarot---

"He made enquiries concerning it and ascertained that 
it was in circulation over a considerable part of Europe---
Spain, Italy, Germany and the South of France. It was in 
use as a game of chance or skill, after the ordinary manner 
of playing-cards; and he ascertained further how the game 
was played."

---and this directly disputes Dummett's notion that 
Court de Gebelin was little interested in tarot's 
use AS A GAME.

Finally, he concluded on Court de Gebelin's findings---

"But it was in use also for the higher purpose of divination 
or fortune-telling, and with the help of a learned friend 
he discovered the significance attributed to the cards, together 
with the method of arrangement adopted for this purpose."

Of course, one of things Dummett slams in 'Game of Tarot'
is this notion that divination with tarot was ALSO in
use at the time. He claims that Court de Gebelin originated
that usage. AND, as I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, 
even though he now admits that he was wrong (although
he never has the courage to point out he had been
previously in error on this point), and that 
fortune-telling with tarot WAS going on BEFORE Court de
Gebelin began writing about it, he has not seen fit
to point out the importance of that admission, which is
simply that Waite's original analysis of Court de Gebelin's
contribution to understanding the way in which the cards
were used for this purpose MAY have been 'discovered'
instead of 'invented'.

This is just one more reason to question whether
Dummett can be considered a reliable source for ANY 
reasonable or responsible interpretation of the facts 
behind the development of occult tarot.

I offer this as an example that what 'occultists'
REALLY thought about the history of tarot and the
degree to which they separated their knowledge
about the 'facts' from their speculations about
the symbolism is NOT a story that has been 
accurately told yet.


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