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Errors in post-1927 versions of Wirth's "Imagiers"

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Originally Posted by MikeH View Post
And thanks for explaining the two possible meanings of "effrey", Kwaw. I can't see how either of them fit the context (I mean, why would red indicate fearfulness, and why would a crab be fiery? but then I haven't studied Wirth in detail. .
In fact the english translation is not correct (without counting the mispelling of fiery)

"caractère igné" means exactly "characteristically related to the fire (as) element" and certainly not fiery character. For instance the igneous rock issued from volcano. Of course a crayfish is not a fiery lion...

In french the word effraie exists, it refers to an owl (tyto alba) and consequently the white colour ( this owl is also called Dame Blanche). So it's certainly not what Wirth had in mind when explaining the red colour of his crayfish

French crayfishs were white, that's why Wirth explains (p138) that its red colour is not because of the cooking but to emphasize the active purifying nature (related to the fire element) he assigns to this animal in his tarot. It's a rather uninspired idea : far away from cleaning the natural environment in which they live, crayfishs are victims of the slightest pollution and on the way to disappear.
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Originally Posted by MikeH View Post
I can't see how either of them fit the context (I mean.. why would a crab be fiery?
The redness of the crab shell is 'fiery', and the sign of the crab represents solar force.

In Western (Northern Hemisphere) based astrology, the crab shell is a symbol of solar force. It represents solar force because the sign of the crab (Cancer) begins at the Summer Solstice, the longest day when the Sun is at its peak.

quote:

"...for symbolic meanings are often surprising, such as that implied in the relationship between the retiarius and mirmillo gladiators and the zodiacal signs of Pisces (aquatic forces of dissolution, its attributes being the net and the trident) and Cancer (the solar force, its attributes being fire, the shell of the crab and the sword)..."
end quote

In the same book is also discussed Wirth's moon card:

quote:
"Beneath the moon there is a huge, red crab resting upon the mud... The crab, like the Egyptian scarab, has as its function that of devouring what is transitory—the volatile element in alchemy—and of contributing to moral and physical regeneration."
end quote

A Dictionary of Symbols, by J. E. CIRLOT, Translated from the Spanish by JACK SAGE,
Foreword by Herbert Read.

While Wirth relates the towers to the solstices, and mentions the relation of the sign to the summer solstice, he himself makes an analogy between the crayfishes inner fire to its incessant activity:

L’écrevisse du Tarot est rouge, non parce qu’elle est cuite, mais, au contraire, en raison du feu intérieur qui lui fait déployer une incessante activité pour remplir sa mission de salubrité.

The crayfish of the Tarot is red, not because it is cooked, but rather, because of the inner fire that makes it deploy in ceaseless activity to fulfill its mission of salubrity.
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Originally Posted by kwaw View Post
The redness of the crab shell is 'fiery', and the sign of the crab represents solar force.

In Western (Northern Hemisphere) based astrology, the crab shell is a symbol of solar force. It represents solar force because the sign of the crab (Cancer) begins at the Summer Solstice, the longest day when the Sun is at its peak.
It is also the beginning of Summer, to which Wirth states the ancients related to the element of Fire (spring to earth, summer to fire, air to autumn, water to winter), and the signs of summer are Cancer, Leo and Virgo, then Canin Major and Canis Minor...as well as Bootes:

Au feu reviennent les signes d’été: Cancer* (18), Lion (11) et Vierge (3), puis le Grand et le Petit Chien (18) qui participe encore de la nature terrestre, de même que le Bouvier-Moissonneur (9), dont le lion de Ceres a muri la récolte.

Note to page 86 in Notes section:

*L’Ecrevisse de la 18 clef est rouge, precisement pour indiquer son caractere igné.

The Crayfish of Key 18 is red, precisely to indicate its fiery character.

He states further, on p.230, as I quoted in previous post:

L’écrevisse du Tarot est rouge, non parce qu’elle est cuite, mais, au contraire, en raison du feu intérieur qui lui fait déployer une incessante activité pour remplir sa mission de salubrité.

The crayfish of the Tarot is red, not because it is cooked, but rather, because of the inner fire which it deploys in ceaseless activity to fulfill its mission of salubrity.

(My 1985 Weiser also has Effrey. My French edition is the 1966 Tchou.)
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Mike -
I wish you had been involved when the book was being reprinted. I don't read/speak French (other than a few Tarot-related phrases) and I only had access to an original copy of the book for a few hours, during which I verified a few obvious errors that had been plaguing me.

I asked the publisher if they'd reinstitute the original diagrams (rather than the ones that appeared in the French reprint - which may be the source of several of the errors - especially regarding the illustrations), but they would only do so in one case.

I plan on going through my own copy of the reprint and adding in all the corrections that you mentioned. You are an incredible resource. Thank you so much for doing this. I agree that this book is one of the best Tarot commentaries that's ever been published.
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Thanks, Mary. Alas, you were way ahead of me in appreciating Wirth. And yes, Wirth surely deserves appreciation. I hope that these posts have made up for some of the publisher's cheap, lazy, and occasionally ignorant choices. At least they made Wirth more available (to those who like clean copies) and had you write the Introduction, which they put on Amazon's "look inside" feature. But with the older edition you get more of the pictures he inserted in the text (that are actually his) and an index.

I don't doubt that I have missed many errors of commission and omission. If, in studying Wirth, you find something puzzling in the text, it always helps to consult the French, which the 1966 and reprints seems to have reproduced accurately, except for putting a couple of pages in the wrong places. Wirth's French is simple enough that it mostly comes through OK if you put it through Google Translate and then check any oddities for other meanings via WordReference.

I have made some changes in post 10 (http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.p...9&postcount=10) putting the images side by side to make it easier to compare the three versions. I used the versions of the 1889 cards that are in the back of the 2012 book. They look like the ones you can download for free from the BnF; the ones in the book are only 4 inches high, which is about an inch shorter than tarot cards usually are. I also changed what I said about the Death card, thanks to Philippe's better eye.

I also finally pursued Abrac's report that the older translation was 1985. I have been saying "1980". However I see that WorldCat lists no earlier edition than 1985, and that my copy in fact says on it "first published in English in 1985". I assume that the 1990 advertised on Amazon is simply a reprint of the 1985, but I haven't checked. I have gone through and changed all the "1980"'s I can find to "1985". I have checked and verified that the 2014 French edition with Caillois's introduction is the same as the 1966.
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Thanks for making the card panoramas, it really makes it easy to compare!

I have a set of cards from the 1966 book. They're hard to make good scans of but they're actually very nice with great color and crisp lines. I wish they would've kept the geometric borders though. Occasionally there are symbols hidden in among the patterns. It's not consistent enough to have any great significance, I don't believe so anyway.
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There's a numbering error on the 1966 cards, at least on mine. L'Ermite is numbered 11 and La Force is 9; it should be the other way around. It right in the 1985 book though. I'm not sure what printing of the book the cards came from as I acquired them without the book.
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Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
There's a numbering error on the 1966 cards, at least on mine. L'Ermite is numbered 11 and La Force is 9; it should be the other way around. It right in the 1985 book though. I'm not sure what printing of the book the cards came from as I acquired them without the book.
Mine came with the book, and are numbered correctly -- however, on checking further, although it says Copyright Claude Tchou, editeur 1966 on front inside cover, I have only just noticed on the inside back that it was printed in 1970 -- so a different edition... the cards that came with the book have plain yellow backs.

Sumada has the 1966 -- he shows cards with both numerations (I think the mis-numbered limited edition Tchou, and the US games version as comparison):

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sumada...7631648087172/

(Not sure, but I think this misnumbering occurred on the 1966 limited edition set, but was corrected in later editions?)
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Originally Posted by MikeH View Post

In footnote 2, reference is made to a writer named, in the original, "Goethe". The name appears as “Gothe” in the English versions.
Märchen (Fairytale) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Wirth's translation Le serpent Vert (Conte symbolique de Goethe traduit et commenté par Oswald Wirth), which he refers to on p.23 (Tchou 1970 edition, plus note on p.366), is available online here:

https://archive.org/details/leserpentvert00goet

About Goethe's Fairytale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gr...Beautiful_Lily
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Oswald Wirth wrote a second, shorter work, 'Introduction à l'étude du tarot', published in 1931, and published in English as 'Introduction to the Study of the Tarot' in the early 1980s by Weiser.

It's been some years now, but I recall spotting divergences between the interpretations in the 2 books as I was writing up my own notes - something I do systematically with Tarot books.

Unfortunately, a continent lies between me and my books so I am just putting this out there, in case it stirs up some curiosity in those interested in further studying Wirth - I never had much time for him as I'd always felt he was too much of a mixed bag. I've come to revise my judgement somewhat and hope to examine his works more closely next time I have a proper chance to do so.

It is also worth noting that Wirth wrote a number of articles on Tarot in the early 20th century, published in the occultist journals of the time (Voile d'Isis, etc). Again, I don't recall if this material wound up in his books or not. Papus certainly recycled his material.

Many of these old journals are available online, either on the Internet Archive, Gallica, and there was one other American occultist archive which had extensive scans of old European journals ( http://www.iapsop.com/ ). Could be a starting point for further research.
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