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MikeH  MikeH is offline
Join Date: 03 Nov 2007
Location: Oregon USA
Posts: 443

Thanks, Philippe. It is very useful to have the text itself before one. And thanks for your attempt, Abrac. For clarity, I should probably have included a translation of that important word "quatrieme". Also, the link was misleading, in that it puts "quatrieme" in brackets after "premier" (and it is not even that, but the "second"!). It is nice to know where that text is, too. I have scans of one copy, but this one might contain text I didn't know about--or perhaps have merely forgotten. I will have to look at it more closely. [Added later: actually, the book has both the second and the first cahiers ('notebooks"), the first after the second.]

If you look at the pages I indicated in my previous post, you will see an important aspect of Etteilla's astrological correspondences: in general, they do not relate to what is depicted on the cards, or even the upright keywords (which, strictly speaking, are not titles, as in the case of the TdM); they are a function of the card's number only; in his presentation, that is all he mentions in giving these correspondences.

An exception might be the Sun's relation to the Ace of Coins, which shows a large yellow circle and a handsome young man suggestive of Apollo. An association to Apollo and the Sun had also been suggested by de Mellet (; for the Sun, the association is to the Ace of Trefles, i.e. Clubs; but Clubs=Coins for him). Since Luna is also out of the traditional Ptolemaic order, there might be a connection to what is on the card there, too, but if so I do not know what it is. Most likely it simply replaces the Sun in the order. I cannot think of other exceptions.

Etteilla insisted that his method of divination should be called "cartonomancy", that is, divination by means of numbers (nom, nombre). The astrological correspondences are a good example of this focus.

Etteilla's order of trumps is quite idiosyncratic, never seen elsewhere (even if there is a certain relationship to de Mellet's backwards presentation in Monde Primitif); that plus the mechanical nature of the assignments--in astrological order--suggests to me that the specific correspondences are also Etteilla's invention, with no precedent in any "secret societies" or prior systems of cartomancy.

The same cannot be said for his keywords, however. Unlike his zodiacal and planetary assignments, they are not a function of their number in Etteilla's sequence from 1 to 78. In the case of the trumps and court cards, they often do have a relationship to what is depicted on the card, a depiction that in most cases did not start with Etteilla. In the case of the number cards, there may have been at some point a relationship to the meaning of the suit and/or the number of suit signs present from 1 to 10, in some numerological system, probably with Pythagorean influence. In his writings I have seen no explanation for most of these keyword assignments; that in itself suggests that they are not original with him.

The method of associating cards with keywords is also seen in Bologna c. 1750, as Pratesi has shown (in English, with the document in Italian, toward the end of; in French, In my opinion there is some correlation between the actual keywords given there and those Etteilla chose, not always with the same cards but enough correlation to think that there may be some historical relationship. But that would take me at least one more post to document sufficiently. (See my post at; a correlation exists only for the suit cards, not the trumps (for which see my post at

So I agree with Decker, Depaulis, and Dummett (Wicked Pack p. 94) that Etteilla's system, at least in its keywords, is "largely fed from older French cartomancy"--in fact, not only French, but perhaps also Italian. I would expect that astrological associations to some of the cards also existed before Etteilla; however the specific astrological assignments that he gave, with at least one exception (the Ace of Coins), started with him.
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