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Alef = I-Bateleur or = Fou ?

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kwaw's Avatar
kwaw  kwaw is offline
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Originally Posted by Helvetica

But what of beit being feminine? Does that not intrigue you? How do you parallel beit and Le Bateleur, which is such a masculine principle?
Beit means house and can refer to any type of 'dwelling place' from a tent to a temple, pigsty to palace, to the whole cosmic creation as dwelling place of the divine 'presence'. As the first letter in the Torah it is first in the building of the 'cosmos', creation. Its value is two, the 'first' number [one, being singular, is not a ‘number’ which by definition is plural, two technically is therefore the first number. The metaphysics of Cusanus makes use of this fact]. In the Sefer Yetzirah it is attributed to Saturn [there are variations in late redactions], significator of architects, builders, craftsmen.

In kabbalah the builder [BNH - BoNeH] is the 'son' [BN] whose mother is 'understanding' [BN 'son', from BNH - Binah, the third sefirah, to which Saturn is also traditionally attributed]. The son is identified with the 'Prince of the World' YHVAL [YHV/IAO + the divine suffix AL, by gematria BN and YHVAL both =52], which is the first [of seventy] names for the Angel Metatron. Metatron designates the 'Active Intellect', a personification or manifestation of the 'divine intellect' and 'father' of the human intellect or 'son' [BN]. Metatron is called the 'youth who is old', as he is the first of all created things, thus the divine name associated with the letter Beit is 'BChUR', which means 'youth' [but he is an elder, not a lad, thus in keeping with the attribution of Saturn]. See my post on ‘the old man called youth’ in this thread:

The builders building blocks, the atomic elements from whose permutations all things are created, are the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The letters are the'stones' from which the House [beit - cosmos, words, the divines name(s) or logoi] are built or constructed. The 'son' is Shem [BN becomes ShM by means of a cipher], who was the son of Noah who according to tradition taught Abraham the secrets of the letters and sacred names [shem in Hebrew means 'name'] as recorded by Abraham in the Sefer Yetzirah. A practicing kabbalist magician is called a Baal Shem, 'Master of the Name'. A biblical example is Bezalel, builder of the Tabernacle, who 'knowing the combination of letters with which heaven and earth were made' was able to build the tabernacle as an exact microcosm of everything in heaven and upon earth. So great was his magical powers, resulting from his knowledge of the creative powers of the letters, that according to kabbalistic tradition that 'for him it would be a little thing to create a man or any living creature.'

The BaalShem [masters of the name], are the Jewish sect of magicians that originated in Baghdad and started ariving in Europe in the 10th century. The Baalshem peddled their magical charms, amulets potions and cures among the gentiles as well as the Jews and Gershom Scholem states that they probably had a major role in giving the Jews a reputation as sorcerors among the gentile. I suspect they had a major role in the formation of kabbalistic ideas as they began to form in Southern France/N.Italy in the 13th century and wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't through them that the Bahir, of which we now only have fragments, arrived in the west from the east.

According to legend the Baalshem were descendants of Enoch, their patriach one of whose symbols is the shoe anvil, which may relate to the image of Atu I as a cobbler:

"The patriach Enoch, who according to an old tradition was taken from the earth by God and transformed into the angel Metatron, is said to have been a cobbler. At every stitch of his awl he not only joined the upper leather with the sole, but all upper things with all lower things. He accompanied his work with meditations which drew the stream of emanation down from the upper to lower, so transforming profane action into ritual action, until he himself was transformed from the earthly Enoch into the transcendent Metatron, who had been the object of his meditations." [On the Kabbalah and its Symbolism, p.132].

The tale of a cobbler who brings together heaven and earth is an old one that exists in various versions around the world, the oldest extent version being a Buddhist tale. In Jewish terms the cobbler is a symbol of the Jews wandering in exile (in which circumstance they wear out a lot of shoes!). By unifying heaven and earth the cobbler hastens the return of the Jews to their homeland.

According to Scholem the earliest reference to this is among the German Hasidism in the 13th century. In the same period there arose in Germany a Christian legend that seems to have mixed this tale with that of Aristeos in Greek myth. According to this version Christ, carrying the cross, rested on the doorstep of a cobbler. The craftsmen told him to go away to which Christ responded "I will go, and fast, but thou will tarry till I come again." The cursed cobbler becomes an immortal witness to the Christ, a wanderer through the nations of the Earth until Christ comes again. According to the legend he ages until 100 when he falls into a trance from which he awakes restored to the age of 30. This tale became very popular from the 13th to the 18th centuries with reports of the appearance of the 'wandering jew' appearing in Europe and America under a variety of names. He appears as Buttadeus in Antwerp in the 13th century, in Milan in 1413 and again in 1415 (bagato in modern Milanese dialect means 'cobbler'), a second time in Germany and the low countries in the 15th century and a third time in Germany in the 16th century. He is reported for the last time in 1774 at Brussels but reappears shortly after in Venice under the name of Gualdi. In France he was called Laquedem, other names under which he was reported to have made himself known are Ananias and Ahaseur. The tale of the 'Wandering Jew' has been adapted to numerous poems and novels over the centuries.

I am a magus of laws new,
A madman whom a star's made blind,
Who strayed far wide to bring to you
The stories of my land.

I among you my burden carry,
In dirt befouled and in laugher scorned,
For woe to him bereft of country
That begs his home to be returned.

The prime experience in the initiation of the Baal Shem in their passage to becoming magicians and prophets is the 'encounter with the self.' The Baal Shem has to invoke his 'self made perfect', his higher self or guardian angel, which appears to them in their own image as his 'shadow' or 'reflection'. This personal guardian angel then teaches the Baal Shem all magical knowledge and enables them to prophesy.

As in astrology Aries in the natural order of the zodiac is associated with 'self', so its opposite, Libra, is associated with this 'perfect self' as 'other'. Libra in the SY is attributed to the letter Lamed, which among other things is said to symbolize the power to direct and control the animal instinct. This is related to the association of Lamed with 'ox-goad' [suggested by the letterform as a 'crooked stick'], a spur to direct the power of the ox, an ancient and biblical symbol of 'Strength'. There is also another indirect correspondence to the concept of 'Strength' in the name Daniel. Daniel means 'judgement' [DN] of 'God' [EL]. DN, Judgement is one of the names of the fifth sefirah, more commonly called 'Strength'.

The guardian angel is symbolised by an angel closing the mouth of a lion, after the Angel who 'shut the mouths of the Lions' protecting Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, exorcists, Chaldeans and diviners [also known as Daniel] in the Lion's den. According to kabbalisitic texts, possibly influenced by neoplatonic doctrines, this Guardian Angel was Daniel's own 'self made perfect'.

This personal angel is a mediating principle between the magician and the angel Metatron, or the form in which Metatron the Active Intellect can be drawn down. As such another of the names of the angel Metatron is 'one two', symbolising the self and the higher self as other. The attribution of the magician [roman numbered I, one] to Beit [Hebrew two] reflects this name of metatron ‘one two’.

Some Hebrew words beginning with the letter Beit:

Baal Shem – Magician [biblical examples Balaam the evil magician sent by its enemies to curse Israel but whose curses turned to blessings, Belteshezar chief of the magicians of Chaldea otherwise known as Daniel, Bezalel who was chosen to build the tabernacle because he knew the secret of letter combinations and permutations]
BRA – to curse/to bless
BRVQM – rich apparel, many colours
BRVSH – a tree [mulberry, balsam]
BQAY – a coin [worth half a shekel]
BChVR – youth, young man
BD – liar, boaster, charlatan, oracle priest
BDIM - liar, false oracle, conjuror
BGD – deceitful, treacherous dealer
BLY'L – scoundrel

Note: This post is pasted together from other posts I have made in this forum.
Top   #21
Fulgour's Avatar
Fulgour  Fulgour is offline
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Gosh Kwaw... where have I seen this posted before...?
Top   #22
jmd's Avatar
jmd  jmd is offline
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In my own personal view, Tarot reflects, Kabalistically, not complex considerations that may be argued in relatively obtuse ways.

In that sense, there is a simplicity in the correlation between the ordinal values of the Hebrew alphabet and the Tarot Atouts.

The concept of the Roman 'I' and the Hebrew 'one' is not, really, that dissimilar: both refer, when used as numbers, to the cardinal number one and to the ordinal number denoting 'first'.

In that sense too, it makes for an ease of reading to consider the fifth card (as an example), as numbered with its Roman number, to be referred to the fifth letter. Likewise for the 17th numbered card (XVII) to be correlated with the 17th letter (Peh).

Where the correlation does of course break down is if one wants to make a numerical link between ordinal and cardinal value past the tenth number: with the Hebrew (and the Greek, for that matter), the eleventh letter has a cardinal value of twenty; the twelfth of thirty; etc..

Even here, however, having a letter correlation may assist the alphabetic novice to remember not only the sequence, but also the cardinal value (and of course the sequence has to be known by the novice for the cardinal value to be retained, or the other way around, which amounts to the same).

Alef may certainly be correlated with any and all Atouts if one wishes.

The question comes for those of us who do prefer to make a sequential correlation between Atouts and letters, and here of course the determining factor will, in great measure, be the relative position of the (un-numbered) Fou.

If preference is for the Fou to be allocated a numerical value of zero, it will inevitably be placed first (prior to card one) - and with Alef. As penultimate, with the penultimate letter Shin. As final, with the last letter Tav.

Personally, I prefer the Alef = one = Bateleur sequence, which appears to both my eyes and my reflections as far more 'natural'.
Top   #23
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Sophie  Sophie is offline
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I hope your move went well, Jean-Michel!

Thank you for this very lucid and clear exposé - which this novice certainly appreciated. I am trying to find handles to study Tarot: given the influence of Kabbalah (both Jewish and Hermetic) in the High Middle Ages and the Renaissance, I think it not unreasonable to think that Kabbalistic ideas will have found their way into its creation.

I don't enough about both, yet, to be clear about the associations, and I'm not even touching the Tree of Life until I can be comfortable with Arcana/letter correspondence. I intuitively favour the I=Bateleur and all the sequence that follows from there - though as you say, there is some hitch around Le Mat. He's unnumbered, so it's not illogical to put him at the beginning, as kwaw does (ie alef), or at the end (ie tav) or somewhere along the way (shin, you wrote - but why there in particular? - is it because of the "mother letter" idea?)

My - personal - feeling about Le Mat is that he is so mobile that he might fit any place, and any letter. He walks between the beginning and the end and makes a ruckus at all places in between - the "walker and screamer between the worlds", alive and dead, one might say. But that does not help for letter attribution! Is there a Hebrew letter that might correspond to this Lord of Misrule with his torn clothes and crazy glare?

I do realise, too, how much Kabbalah deserves study in its own right
Top   #24
Diana  Diana is offline
Join Date: 01 Jan 2002
Posts: 8,204

Originally Posted by Moonbow*
Why? Why do we need to apply the Hebrew letters to tarot cards? [/url]
I would go one step further than Moonbow*.

Should we be applying Hebrew letters to Tarot cards?
Top   #25
Sophie's Avatar
Sophie  Sophie is offline
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Originally Posted by Diana
Should we be applying Hebrew letters to Tarot cards?
Wait until you see my Chinese ideogramme-Tarot correspondence chart, Diana (shock horror, a heretic )

I like associations d'idées. And Kabbalah was an important influence over the period in which Tarot was created, so it's not even remotely far-fetched to apply Hebrew letters to Tarot.
Top   #26
Fulgour's Avatar
Fulgour  Fulgour is offline
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Originally Posted by Diana
Should we be applying Hebrew letters to Tarot cards?
It's quite the other way around you'll see,
or failing that, why worry about such things?
Top   #27
MikeTheAltarboy's Avatar
MikeTheAltarboy  MikeTheAltarboy is offline
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I personally prefer the aleph = fool.
This order puts the 3 elements and 12 signs (except the justice/strength swap) of the sepher yetzirah in very believable/acceptable places. The planets don't line up at all - but evidently other texts (or even other manuscripts?) assign the double letters to the planets differently anyway.

As for the issue of aleph=1=bataleur- remember that the trumps used to be unnumbered. Their *order* was fixed before values were applied. Making the Bataleur 1 and leaving the fou unnumbered makes sense according to the rules of the game - the bataleur takes a trick but the fou can't.
Just more to ponder. :-)

Top   #28
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Umbrae  Umbrae is offline
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There are a couple ways to look at this conundrum.

One is that on the Continent they still use Aleph = Magician.

English/American’s and GD followers (English School) use Aleph = Fool.

But studying the letter meanings alongside card meanings leads one to follow Continental attributions.

And when looking at the GD folks, were Gentiles!?!

And you’re gonna learn Hebrew from Goyim?

Mashuga, ya Talimid…
Top   #29
mythos's Avatar
mythos  mythos is offline
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I've been messing around with kabbalah and the tarot, trying to create internally satisfactory connections for a couple of years now. If I had to link the letters with the cards (and I don't have to) I would place 1 - Magician/Bateleur, with the Fool as 'Shin'. I'm not even going to attempt to justify such choices primarily because they are 'intuitive' and operate from a 'feels right' perspective. Hardly evidence.

When one adds to this mix that I prefer an unnumbered Fool, all logic flies out the window. This leads me back to the original question of 'why connect the two?" Yes, of course Kabbalah and Tarot both existed in the same environment, but then so does Australian Rules Football and Aboriginal Dreamtime Art - both could be considered 'religious artifacts' in Australian culture for example. However, merely because they both exist at the same time, and just because a lot of Australian Aboriginal people both play football and paint their dreaming, and just because there are bound to be football fans who also appreciate, and may even have Aboriginal Dreamtime Art hanging on their walls, doesn't create a correspondence of a metaphysical, or even remotely relevant and meaningful, nature.

I think that we need to remember that just as our societies and cultures are complex, so too was the one in which Tarot arose. It is easy to take slices from a time which we only know through our studies, slices which are constrained by our areas of interest, our perceptions, our internal needs and so on, and shuffle these slices to create a picture of what is meaningful for us, but didn't necessarily have any meaning in its time - though it might have.

Think of our time - there are people of the fundamentalist kind who see tarot as a tool of the devil, others who see it as a crutch upon which they can lean for prediction of future events, others who see it as a system for personal and spiritual development, others who collect decks because of a passion for the artwork and so on and so forth. Which view is right? ... all of them? Which is reality? All of them? Which are Truth? That depends on your position on the possibility of absolute truth or truth as a relative concept.

Why attribute Hebrew letters to Tarot? If it interests you, do so. If not, then don't?

Which system is accurate? All or none or something in between?

Will I continue to study this area? ... of course, until I have wrung the guts out of it, and then I will make a decision - maybe! I'm not about to throw an idea away before digging into its depths, or because it's 'too hard'. Nor am I going to keep it because the 'tarot police' told me to. I'll keep my version (which may or may not agree with others) because my own studies and intuitive wisdom leads me to it, or toss it for the same reason ... or drive myself utterly crazy flipping between the two trying to make a decision - which is difficult for a person with a Libra Ascendent. Also, what I will do is throw in my two bobs worth, and happily agree to differ.

Top   #30



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