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Etteilla & Kabbalah

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GnosticTarotCards  GnosticTarotCards is offline
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Etteilla said in his introductory section of the original booklet accompanying the Grimaud Etteilla Tarot (first published in 1783),

"the high sciences called occult which he has professed for thirty years without interruption", having been shown the truth the about 'The Book of Thoth' in 1757. He does this "to break the silence which has been kept until the present by following the tracks and supporting the ideas of the Court de Gebelin."

It was Court de Gebelin, which carried the message of Esotericism in Tarot to Etteilla

In this way Etteilla makes it clear that he is not making an original claim, nor is he seeking credit for creativity. What Etteilla is trying to do is "demonstrate these truths" that he believes have come down from Antiquity, as declared by his friend the antiquarian scholar. (The "truths" in question, by hindsight, appear to be the linkage of the Hebrew alphabet with the Trumps. In fact it was Etteilla's students who finally completed this revelation, after their teacher died.)"


Christine never said Etteilla was the origin of these attributions, what she did say is that his students and his teachers postulated a correspondance to letters , numbers and tarot cards, that Etteilla actually did refer to AAN in his work.

"The final certification is delivered by investigating the LWB of the Grimaud Etteilla pack, wherein Masonic and Martinist references abound throughout. "

Christine doesn't claim to say what you intended to postulate Kwaw but she does infact make reference to Etteilla's strong esoteric leanings especially to French Masonry

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Originally Posted by GnosticTarotCards View Post
Christine doesn't claim to say what you intended to postulate Kwaw but she does infact make reference to Etteilla's strong esoteric leanings especially to French Masonry

So the table is not meant to imply that Etteilla used the 'old alexandrian' AAN in his deck? OK, thanks for clearing that up ('tis not very clear from the table alone). As for the Gebelin/Mellet influence and possible masonic interests, yes that is well known. From the information Mellet gives he appears to place the letters to the tarot sequence in reverse order - from Alef with the World to Tau with the Fool (placed at the beginning of the tarot sequence). No evidence as far as I am aware that Etteilla used this sequence either (he and a student did create an 'egyptian/cabbalistic' alphabet of their own, unrelated to the Hebrew alphabet, which does appear on his cards - for details see MikeH's translations of Etteilla elsewhere on this forum). But I am not aware of much evidence that Etteilla showed much interest in the Hebrew letter/tarot connections (which were a minor detail in Mellet's essay). The 'truths' he seemed interested in were those of the tarot's supposedly Egyptian origins. Gebelin/Mellet read the tarot sequence as an allegory in reverse order, it's possible that influenced Etteilla's re-ordering to some extent (as also some later Gebelin/Etteilla influenced oracle decks, such as the 'petite dame'). As for the LWB's that came with decks during the 19th century - much of the material in many of them is simply lifted from Gebelin/Mellet and Etteilla.
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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
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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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Originally Posted by closrapexa View Post
While Kaf being "11" irks, Tarot as a K(Q)ab(b)al(l)istic (sorry, couldn't resist!) teaching tool is ...
Deliberate spelling perhaps ? Somewhere here (?) some time here (?) I seem to remember a varient spelling 'tradition' to distinquish the two.

Tarot Cards!? And Qabalah together ??! What sort of mishugina idea is that!?!
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Originally Posted by kwaw View Post
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).
quote:

...
Fourth, the King armed with a bludgeon which ignorance made an Imperial Ball thereafter [Osiris is often represented with a whip in his hand, with a sphere & a T; all these joined together, produced in the mind of a German Cartier an Imperial Ball]: his helmet is furnished at the back with saw like teeth, to make known that nothing serves to appease his insatiability [Or his revenge, if it has irritated Osiris].
Third, the Queen, bludgeon in her hand; its crown has the same ornaments as the helmet of the King.
Second, the pride of power, represented by the Peacocks, on which Junon* pointing to the Sky with her right hand, & the Earth with her left, announces a terrestrial Religion or Idolatry.
First, the Juggler holding the rod of the Magi, working miracles to deceive credulous people. It is followed by a single card representing a Madman who carries his bag or his defects behind him, while a tiger or the remorse's, devouring his haunch, delays his march towards crime [This card does not have a rank: it completes the sacred Alphabet, & answers to the Tau which signifies completion, perfection: perhaps one wanted to represent in his direction the most natural result of the actions of men].
These twenty-two original Cards are not only hieroglyphics, which placed in their natural order tell the history of the first times, but they are also as many letters [the Hebrew alphabet is composed of 22 Letters] which differently combined, can form as many sentences; also their name (A-tout) is only the literal translation of their employment & general property...

...This explanation will be even more natural if one pays attention to the direction & the value of the letters that the tables** represent. The Sun answering to Gimel, means, in this direction, remuneration, happiness. Fortune or Lamed means Rule, Law, Science. Fol does not express anything by itself, it corresponds to the Tau, and it is simply a sign, a mark. The Typhon or Zain announces inconstancy, error, violated faith, and crime. Death or Teth indicates the action to reap: indeed, Death is a terrible reaper. Teleute in Greek means the end, appears to be, in this direction, a derivative of Teth...

End quote
Compte de M : Research on the Tarot.
Publish in Monde Primitif, 1781 (Earliest known reference connecting the Tarot with the Hebrew letters)

* Cleary Mellet is using a Tarot de Besancon.
** I'm not sure what table he is referring too - was there an accompanying table in Le Monde Primitif?
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"As for this atout, we number it zero, though it is placed it in the order of cards after the twenty-first, because it does not count when it is alone, and possesses ontly the value that it gives to the others, precisely like our zero: showing thus that nothing exists without its folly."

Court de Gebelin - game of tarots 1781

this says to me before Levi supposedly put a blind out there it was popular PUBLIC knowledge that Fool was LAST hence "we place it after the 21st" and cant possibly be aleph because in 1781 "it does not stand alone"

You forced me to research questioning the attributions. im glad you did.. this proves that the fool was always a cipher , what i cant find out is

why levi moved it, and how it got a Hebrew attribution. but what this proves to me is It was never, ever associated to the number 1 or Hebrew ALEPH
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Originally Posted by GnosticTarotCards View Post
"As for this atout, we number it zero, though it is placed it in the order of cards after the twenty-first, because it does not count when it is alone, and possesses ontly the value that it gives to the others, precisely like our zero: showing thus that nothing exists without its folly."

Court de Gebelin - game of tarots 1781
Thanks for the correction. (I should have recalled, my own partial translation is over at tarotpedia!). Memory confused by the fact he discusses it first as part of the allegorical sequence (0, I, II, III). The original doesn't say 'in the order of the cards' btw, but 'in play' or 'in the game':

"As for this atout, we call him Zero, although in the game* one places it after the XXI, because he does not count when he is alone, & his only value is that which he gives to the others, precisely like our zero: showing thus that nothing exists without its folly."

*or, although one places it in play/in the game after the XXI

"Quant à cet Atout, nous l'appellons Zero, quoiqu'on le place dans le jeu après le XXI, parce qu'il ne compte point quand il est seul, & qu'il n'a de valeur que celle qu'il donne aux autres, précisément comme notre zero: montrant ainsi que rien n'existe sans sa folie."


In the same book, in Mellet's essay, Mellet also says that the fool follows the bateleur, as per my previous quote:

"First, the Juggler holding the rod of the Magi, working miracles to deceive credulous people.

He is followed by a single card representing the Madman/Fool who carries his bag or his defects behind him, while a tiger or the remorse's, devouring his haunch, delays his march towards crime..."


Premiere, le Bateleur tenant la verge des Mages, fait des miracles & trompe la crédulité des Peuples.

Il est suivi d'une carte unique représentant La Folie qui porte son sac ou ses défauts par derriere, tandis qu'un tigre ou les remords, lui dévorant les jarrets, retarde sa marche vers le crime...


In terms of discussing the allegorical sequence, both Gebelin and Mellet place the fool before the numbered cards in ascending order, or after them in descending order, i.e., before of after I - the Juggler.

As to why Mellet discusses them in reverse order, Gebelin explains:

"We will start with number I and proceed to XXI, as the current use is to start with the least number and proceed to the highest. The Egyptians however commenced the count from the highest and proceeded to the lowest. Thus they sang the octave while going down, & not while going up like us. In the essay following this one the Egyptian custom is followed, & the greater account is shown thereby. Thus both approaches will be covered: ours as most convenient when one wants to consider each card by itself: & the other more useful in better conceiving the whole and their relationships."

I agree it is as silly thinking of the attributions between the cards and hebrew letters as being one based on number - as no such relationship can exist beyond one to ten. It as silly to think of the relationship between O=1 as it is think it is between 0=300 (or 400). At least Mellets attributions have the virtue of not attempting or implying any such correlation.

I don't think anyone has ever disputed he is a cipher!

Kwaw
Essere come il matto fra tarocchi (esser per tutto)
Like the fool of the tarot - here, there and everywhere!

(Old Italian Proverb:
A dictionary of the English and Italian languages
, 1760
By Giuseppe Marco Antonio Baretti)
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Wow Kwaw!

That was phenomenal , we are now discussing a few words, like Christine says the differences that make the difference. Of course I could go into Rhetoric and battle from that stand point, but i'd rather not at this point. Veni Vedi Vici to you my friend!

I do have a historical question, not related to the fool but developing influences on Etteilla's "crazy" thoughts that many others seemed to validate

Why did the Europeans take such profound changes to playing cards once seeing the Mamluk pack, first by adding in a set of Queens, and then by creating a set of 22 extra cards. That seems intentional to me. Im not a historian so maybe you can shed light on that, if so then it might explain why his trumps are make-overs of the original sequence, and even though he puts them in a new order, he absolutely doesn't sever the connection to the original set. His Italian students made a deck in the decade after he died that put his illustrations back in Marseilles, called the Cartomanzia Italiana.

Maybe start there and end there for me. Mamluk, insertion of queens and Etteilla's insistance on the original sequence, but made over.

Thanks. Great job "in the game" profound research, (almost tried to refute, but.. let it be)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GnosticTarotCards View Post
"As for this atout, we number it zero, though it is placed it in the order of cards after the twenty-first, because it does not count when it is alone, and possesses ontly the value that it gives to the others, precisely like our zero: showing thus that nothing exists without its folly."......
Precisely like our zero? Total rubbish! It has no more validity than his Egyptian origin theory.

Zero counts the number of elements in the null set, and it is the additive identity in our number system. Among other things, it tells us when we are no longer "in the red" with an account. Since we use a positional number system, it is convenient that zero can be used as a place holder for powers of 10, but this has nothing to do with its property as the unique integer between -1 and +1: -1 < 0 < +1, or its algebraic properties: a + 0 = 0 + a = a, a x 0 = 0 x a = 0, and (+a) + (-a) = (-a) + (+a) = 0. Moreover, it is the first non-negative integer: 0 < 1 < 2 < .... It is indispensible as a full-fledged number in all branches of mathematics. It is, however, deprived of one right shared by all other non-zero numbers: it may not be used as a divisor. But why would anyone in their right mind want to use zero as a divisor anyhow?
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