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kwaw  kwaw is offline
Join Date: 29 Dec 2003
Location: Nr. Ephesus, Turkey
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Originally Posted by GnosticTarotCards View Post
Etteilla pulled from Gebelin and Gebelin was the one who postulated the "fool at the end of the sequence" also like you mentioned Mellet made reference to the Hebrew attributions, which i like because it shows its not just Levi's crazy attributions that he made up, that papus pulled from Etteilla is ascertainable from his introduction to Divinitory Tarot, but he also pulled from the rest of the French manuscripts that are unmentioned in his commentary. I think its fascinating to learn that in the early 1700's the tarot was attributed to Hebrew letters, because this shows that it was derived from at least Renaissance period. Of course we know Tarot is since 1400's but this adds a great flavor since Gebelin was also postulating things before ,levi's translator's attributed craziness to him
Gebelin didn't postulate the 'fool at the end of the sequence' - he kept them in their usual order, with the fool at the beginning - so did Mellet, but he read them as an allegory in reverse order: if one wishes to say that he placed the fool at the end, then it is with the qualification that he placed the world at the beginning. Mellet also appears to have attributed the Hebrew letters to them in reverse order: alef with the world, beth with judgement, gimel with the sun... shin with the juggler, tau with the fool. (He doesn't give a full list, but this order can be deduced from what he does give).

We do not know that Hebrew letters were being attributed to the tarot cards by the early 18th century. All that we can say, from the testimony of Mellet, is that such an association was being made in some (possibly masonic) circles by the late 18th century (Monde Primitif was published in 1781, and is our first testament of such an association being made).

Etteilla initially placed the fool at the end of the trumps (later he put it at the end of the minors, as card 78), but he re-ordered a number of the cards, (putting several of the cards from the end of the TdM sequence to the beginning for example). As far as I can make out from his available writings he did not make any serious attempt to attribute Hebrew letters to the tarot cards - and his astrological attributions to the cards do not fit with such attributions.

Nobody as far as I am aware has claimed that the connection between Hebrew letters and tarot trumps originated with Levi (Waite was well aware of the Gebelin/Mellet essays), only that he popularized a particular set of attributions first made public by him (though many have suspected that the specific attributions published by Levi were the result of his own postulations - he demonstrably had a tendency to make things up, like quotations from non-existent manuscripts). Waite was an admirer of Levi, though not uncritically so, but if you care to check you'll find most of his criticisms were valid. Whatever the matter, other authors followed him and his became the continental standard attributions, with some variation towards the latter part of the 19th century in placing the fool in 22nd place instead of 21st among some schools (and at the beginning in the English esoteric schools).

I don't think one needs to rely too much on hypothetical secret documents - although obviously from the example of the enormous amount of material from the GD there was private teachings going on in the esoteric schools - but on a purely exoteric level one can trace from what was published that Etteilla lifted from Gebelin/Mellet and added his own postulations, Levi from all three, then Christian, Papus etc., with numerous hack writers plagiarizing 'em to boot - much of the similarity in material, phrases etc., does not rely for an explanations on authors copying from an unknown source, but from each other.
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