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Is there a canonical non-woowoo history of the tarot?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrdavid View Post
One train of thought that I believe is often overlooked is the Cathar and Hermetic influence in Europe at the time Tarot first began appearing.
You'll find extensive discussions of these topics in this section. No one has ever been able to demonstrate a direct connection between the Cathars and Tarot despite a few interesting links. There were several Cathar communities near Milan a century before the Tarot appeared but by the 15th century the communities seemed to have diminished or mostly been assimilated. I don't remember the details.
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Originally Posted by mrdavid View Post
One train of thought that I believe is often overlooked is the Cathar and Hermetic influence in Europe at the time Tarot first began appearing.

It remains a point worth remembering that the church would quickly root out and destroy any overt systems of thought that contradicted its philosophy.
If an esoteric group wanted to infiltrate the masses without drawing attention to themselves then a 'game' like the cards would have been an ideal way to do it.

I think it's worth bearing in mind.
I've seen this assertion before that the GAME of Tarot was designed to conceal some secret teaching. However as a player of Tarot games, I don't find it very credible as the game is far too cleverly constructed to be a mere afterthought. For example, in the original 3 player version of the game the total value of card points is exactly equal to 78, the same number of cards in the deck. This is highly unlikely to be coincidental.
http://www.pagat.com/tarot/counting.html
I find many Tarot enthusiasts to be unduly surprised that such sacred and serious images would be involved in something as non-serious as a game. There is obvious religious symbolism in the traditional Tarot images, most obviously from Catholicism but it should also be stated that Tarot is not the only game incorporating such influences. The ancient Snakes and Ladders board game is a roll and move type game with Hindu influences. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snakes_and_Ladders#History
The board game Rithmomachia is another example said to be strongly rooted in "numerological mysticism" http://www.gamecabinet.com/rules/Rithmomachia.html
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Originally Posted by Barleywine View Post
Adam's alchemy site looks like a good resource.

I don't have much in the way of alchemical writing either. Buried in Israel Regardie's massive Falcon Press tome The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic, at the very end of Volume Two, are two articles on alchemy, one by Regardie and another by his friend, Hans W. Nintzel. The latter cites numerous other writers on alchemy, some older - Paracelsus, Geber, Glauber, Vaughn, Sendivogius, Flammel, Isaac of Holland - and others more recent - Frater Albertus, Phillip Hurley and Archibald Cockren.

In his nearly as massive The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Manly P. Hall devotes 58 pages to alchemy, including two sections titled Theory and Practice I and II. In addition to many of the above luminaries, Hall mentions Raymond Lully, Thomas Norton, Basil Valentine, Jean de Meung, Roger Bacon, Picus de Mirandola, John Dee, John Frederick Helvetius, Alexander Sethon, Count Bernard of Treviso, Sir George Ripley, the Comte di Cagliostro, the Comte de St.-Germain and a host of others too numerous to list. Quite a few of these names I recognize, but I haven't (knowingly) read any of their work.

There is quite a bit on alchemy scattered about Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy but it's kind of a pain to dredge it out using the index.

I also have Paul Foster Case's The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order. Although it has many references to alchemy throughout, it's primarily about the Rosicrucian Allegory and the Grades of the Order. I understand Case was a latter-day GD member, so this one might be of some use to you.
Dont forget Issac Newton !

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_N...occult_studies
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Originally Posted by The Happy Squirrel View Post
Hmm, I just ordered this..... In what way is this book "woowoo"....?
This book is not in my budget at present. I gather from different sources that Decker speculates about esoteric influences on the development of Tarot. Most historians consider this highly unlikely. I believe that if there was an esoteric factor, it would not be subject to historical methods of verification.
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Originally Posted by ravenest View Post
Newton, the mathematical physicist? You gotta be kidding!
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Although the serious, academically-inclined tarot historians no longer post here with any regularity, you'll find some great material if you are willing to comb through the old archives.
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Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell View Post
There is no point in arguing with unreasonable people, because they will perversely persist in believing whatever they want, against all evidence and sound argumentation to the contrary. They do not build a theory up from the facts, as scientists do, but make assertions and challenge rational people to disprove them. It is impossible to prove to unreasonable people that God does not exist, that the Earth is not 6000 years old, or that Tarot is not from ancient Egypt (or whatever fairy tale is preferred). Unreasonable people do not know what proof is, because unreasonable people do not know how to think.
In my opinion, as there appears to be a cipher pre-dating Tarot that enumerates the 22 letters of Hebrew 0-21 and which synchs very well with the TdM’s sequence of icons, it seems that “serious historians” might benefit from examining its’ mechanics to either refute or recognize its possible influence upon the design/development of these cards. What I’ve seen instead is a general refusal to engage in much discussion on the subject – as if so much work has been poured into dispelling the stigma of ‘the occult’ from the historicity of these cards that to entertain such hypotheses now would be tantamount to heresy. Given that a more scientific approach toward the study of our past requires that theories be based upon empirical evidence, it is understandable how delving too deep into any esoteric tradition poses certain methodological challenges. Yet, without a comprehension of what, specifically, is “hidden” within occult tradition, how can one logically dispense with its influence upon the architects of Tarot? If one has not solved its philosophical riddle for oneself, how does one even know what it is that is being refuted?

In other words- the structural similarities between Qabalah and Tarot cannot credibly be argued for or against if the “serious historian” doesn’t bother to learn what they are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
But this is not the terrain of scholarly history. Your "rationale' is irrelevant to scholarly history except as a list of beliefs that occur at certain historical periods and among certain historical persons. It is not the place of historians to learn how a methodology like the one above works.
Isn’t it? To claim that Tarot was not adopted by “occultists” until the 1780’s is an assertion based purely upon the The Primitive World of Antoine Court de Gebelin, and seems to regard them as little more than fortune tellers. As any serious student of “the occult” will tell you, there is much more to the arcana than playing those sorts of card tricks. Call it a “mundus imaginalis” or an “Art of Memory” if you wish, but the systematic use of numbered letter-symbols has a definite logic to it – a distinct structural framework based upon mathematical/geometric/musical principles, inducing the recursion of self-similar forms, and sharing a specific edifice in common. Without having “seen” the architecture behind this occult system one is no position to adequately judge whether or not “occultists” adopted Tarot earlier, much less influenced their invention.

To disregard all such claims as “woo” out of hand and reflexively fall back upon Dummet for one’s null hypotheses seems to rely upon an acute form of logical positivism that cannot verify whether there is a “hidden” secret not because it cannot see one, but because it refuses to look.

For example, where the serious historian might only see a futile effort at the beginning of one's labors, the "occultist" may appreciate the hidden virtue of Sforza's triumph overhead. http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=219843
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I see no reason to take issue with those who use strict historical methodology. I think it is possible that there may have been other influences involved in the development of Tarot which are not subject to historical verification, such as unconscious psychological or even magical factors.

Isaac Newton apparently believed that his discoveries in mathematics and physics were from supernatural sources, yet he did not publish them until he had proved them using the methodology accepted at the time, although he did need to invent the differential and integral calculus in order to explain his laws of motion and gravitation.

I think it is in P. F. Case's The Tarot or perhaps The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order that he mentions his idea that there are two "historical" approaches to Tarot origins, one which is acceptable to academic historians, and another of an occult nature, and that the two are not necessarily incompatible.

It is all speculation anyhow, both that which is occult as well as that which is academically respectable.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LRichard View Post
It is all speculation anyhow, both that which is occult as well as that which is academically respectable.
That's what I meant - both are seen as equal now in the Historical Research section - which is why those who see historical facts as something different than speculation must now go elsewhere.
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