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JMD's Reading the Marseille Tarot- Chapter 2, Le Bateleur

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surpeti  surpeti is offline
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Originally Posted by Rose Lalonde View Post
I can't remember where I read it, but I remember someone saying that sometimes the wood block for the engraving would break off in small, detailed places, and that it was probably a case of using (or re-using) a block that had the bit of hand and tip of the wand missing. So the phallic look is probably unintentional... or so I read.
Thanks, Rose, that now seems pretty obvious--doh! Though I am curious why Fluornoy chose to leave it as-is rather than restoring it as he masterfully did with the couple of missing cards...

Quote:
Originally Posted by dancing_moon View Post
Actually, this was mentioned in JMD's book, in this very chapter about Le Bateleur.

And yes, a shady character indeed. But in many folk tales it's not uncommon for the trickster to trick unfair people - usually the ones who were normally not punished by the law, like the rich and the influential, - and thus bring justice in a rather twisted way.
I guess this is part of the trickster archetype--it's not that the trickster is always bad--he's an ambiguous figure.

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Originally Posted by swedishfish612 View Post
That interested me, too, and I LOVE the link you posted. Yes, it is curious to think about the deck of cards on that one card...I like it there. Makes me think about the Tarot reader as a version of Le Bateleur!

I'm curious how, or IF, what is on the table affects one's interpretation of the card? At this point, while I find it interesting to think about, I don't feel that it affects how I see the card if I use one deck vs. another, with different implements on the table.
Something touched on in jmd's book is the parallel between the bateleur and the priest, the articles on the table paralleling the articles on the altar. Which would make the bateleur a bit sacreligeous--mimicking the religious functions. JMD also mentions, I think, that the priests themselves were often seen as disreputable. After all, the reformation was prompted because of abuses like the selling of indulgences to reduce your time in purgatory, etc. So priests and bateleurs may have been closer than I would have initially thought.
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surpeti  surpeti is offline
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Originally Posted by jean bosco View Post
I was just thinking about Le Bateleur being number 1 in the Major Arcana. He kind of introduces us to the deck, he's like a representative, standing at the doorsteps. He stands for entertainment, skillful manipulation of our perception, having fun, play (cup game, dice play...) - something that may for a moment let us forget our fears and worries. Also playing card games can achieve that. When we are playing we are in the moment and our thoughts are occupied by what is going on in the play. And I also think many people go to a card reader for having that "effect". We want somebody who skillfully 'manipulates our destiny' so everything will work out fine and we don't have to worry anymore... We are talking about the future (in a reading) but in fact (at least partly) we want to get rid of our worries and have an easier present therefore...
Le Bateleur is likely to be met at a market, I imagine. In Vienna there are many food-markets where one can also have a coffee or a snack. Often gypsie women come by there and ask people if they wanted their future to be read (mostly palm reading).

Just some thoughts...
I like this a lot. I'm a person who tends to take everything seriously, so this was an excellent reminder that tarot and "knowing the future" is also fun. And a doorway to a kind of relief from the worries of the moment. Thanks for the reminder, Jean Bosco!

To relate that to my previous post, perhaps there's a parallel: some people get comfort from the priest, others from a card game or street magician!
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Rose Lalonde  Rose Lalonde is offline
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Originally Posted by dancing_moon View Post
Actually, this was mentioned in JMD's book, in this very chapter about Le Bateleur.
Good grief. Can you tell I haven't re-read the chapter for this week yet? I guess I can trust the source, then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by swedishfish612 View Post
I have to admit, the TdM's version seems kind of...watered down and wimpy. The Magician in RWS decks is one of my favorite cards, and there's been a time or two when a "bad" or "wimpy" Magician card ruined a whole deck for me.

However, I will say that what I like about the TdM version is that I think it lends itself well to more down-to-earth readings. I don't know if that makes sense. But I often pulled the RWS Magician for a situation where it just seemed too...other other and "otherwordly" for the situation at hand. I can see where the concept of the trickster/manipulator would fit in better for readings.
Like you, I found the Magician otherworldly, and he's part of what can make the RWS Majors seem too one note to me -- every card at the same level of spiritual badassery. But a good Bateleur was skilled and charismatic, because he had to be if he wanted to eat. I see why you'd find his skillset watered down compared to the elemental power of the Magician, but the street performer's life is so self reliant, especially without many of today's social safety nets. And he's surviving without the benefit of special, arcane knowledge, which makes me agree with you that he can fit better into my readings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jean bosco View Post
I was just thinking about Le Bateleur being number 1 in the Major Arcana. He kind of introduces us to the deck, he's like a representative, standing at the doorsteps. He stands for entertainment, skillful manipulation of our perception, having fun, play (cup game, dice play...) - something that may for a moment let us forget our fears and worries. Also playing card games can achieve that. When we are playing we are in the moment and our thoughts are occupied by what is going on in the play. And I also think many people go to a card reader for having that "effect". We want somebody who skillfully 'manipulates our destiny' so everything will work out fine and we don't have to worry anymore... We are talking about the future (in a reading) but in fact (at least partly) we want to get rid of our worries and have an easier present therefore...
Le Bateleur is likely to be met at a market, I imagine. In Vienna there are many food-markets where one can also have a coffee or a snack. Often gypsie women come by there and ask people if they wanted their future to be read (mostly palm reading).

Just some thoughts...
I like that idea of him on the doorstep as a representative! He draws us in by making us think we're going to win something easily, but what we actually get is entertainment and a realization that we can't always trust appearances; we have to look deeper to see what's really going on. Put in your context of Le Bateleur as introduction to the tarot deck, it fits well.
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Rose Lalonde  Rose Lalonde is offline
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Originally Posted by surpeti View Post
Thanks, Rose, that now seems pretty obvious--doh!
It wasn't obvious to me either (maybe because Noblet's deck has a number of sly details?) until I read it. So I'm in the same boat.
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kwaw  kwaw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surpeti View Post

Something touched on in jmd's book is the parallel between the bateleur and the priest, the articles on the table paralleling the articles on the altar. Which would make the bateleur a bit sacreligeous--mimicking the religious functions. JMD also mentions, I think, that the priests themselves were often seen as disreputable. After all, the reformation was prompted because of abuses like the selling of indulgences to reduce your time in purgatory, etc. So priests and bateleurs may have been closer than I would have initially thought.
Games as an invention of the Devil, that form a sort of 'diabolical liturgy' that mimics in mockery that of the church, was a common theme of anti-gaming sermons of the 15th century and later. For exampe that of the 'Steele Sermon', c.1500, in which the first complete listing of Tarot trumps appears:

"About whom we complain and on what evidence. Who invented the game? I answer upon the origins of three kinds of games of chance, dice, cards and triumphs. All these St. Thomas and many others agree were invented by the devil and explain it in this manner. For in the early church the Bishop of a community formed parish churches and chapels, so that each community had its bishop and parish priests and chaplains and collected holy relics of the Saints and consecrated the altars and the chalices and the hosts. And all the faithful congregated together at the churches in large numbers to celebrated Christ’s birth. And of such magnitude was their divine praise, that by their songs and organs the air and the whole universe was filled with praises. And from thence the spirits fled to the lower regions where the great Lucifer asked them why so many had fled the light. Thereupon a demon named Azarus arose and explained why they had fled. “But”, he added, “if you have the strength to obey me, I shall overturn them to forswear God and love yourself.” “And what will you do?' Lucifer asked. “I shall set up”, Azarus replied, “in the towns and the encampments and the villages the bishopric of the gambling house, and for bishop a true cheat. On the night of the Nativity more people will come to our church than to God’s. Our parishes will be the tavern, the tavern keeper our priests, the wine cellar our chapel, the cellarman our chaplain. Our sacristy will be the house bank, dice made of animal bones our holy relics, the cards our images, the bench our altar, the playing table our holy paten, the goblet of wine our chalice, a gold coin our host, the dice will be the Missal, whose pages are the cards and triumphs.”

http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Sermo...Ludo_Cum_Aliis

In certain aspects the bateleur reminds me of Chaucer's 'Pardoner', with his false relics made of animal bones. The phallus like wand of the Noblet emphasises the connection (the Pardoner being described as like 'a gelding or a mare' (a eunuch); also of the wonder-working cup and ball player of French 16th century farce who 'turns a cock into a hen'.

The description of the Pardoner:
http://www.sparknotes.com/nofear/lit...e/page_17.html

The Pardoner's Tale:
http://machias.edu/faculty/necastro/...t/15pardt.html

Commentary on the Pardoner's Tale in The Yale Companion to Chaucer:
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=B...page&q&f=false

Re: the cup and ball player who 'plays at the arts of Toledo' and 'turns a cock into a hen', see posts 29 & 30 in thread here:
http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=83721&page=3
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surpeti  surpeti is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwaw View Post
Games as an invention of the Devil, that form a sort of 'diabolical liturgy' that mimics in mockery that of the church, was a common theme of anti-gaming sermons of the 15th century and later...
In certain aspects the bateleur reminds me of Chaucer's 'Pardoner', with his false relics made of animal bones. The phallus like wand of the Noblet emphasises the connection (the Pardoner being described as like 'a gelding or a mare' (a eunuch); also of the wonder-working cup and ball player of French 16th century farce who 'turns a cock into a hen'.

The description of the Pardoner:
http://www.sparknotes.com/nofear/lit...e/page_17.html

The Pardoner's Tale:
http://machias.edu/faculty/necastro/...t/15pardt.html

Commentary on the Pardoner's Tale in The Yale Companion to Chaucer:
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=B...page&q&f=false

Re: the cup and ball player who 'plays at the arts of Toledo' and 'turns a cock into a hen', see posts 29 & 30 in thread here:
http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=83721&page=3
Thanks for these interesting leads. I'm not a historian, but I've had the impression that in medieval and early Renaissance times, there was a bit of yin in the yang and vice versa, you might say. As if the intense dualisms of good-evil, God-devil, etc. just had to have a pressure relieve valve. The Bateleur's resemblance to the priest reminds me of this. Similarly, the medieval Boy Bishop tradition (wherein a boy was installed as bishop and parodied the various rites); or the strangely wild sheela-na-gig symbols found on Romanesque churches in Britain, Ireland, and the continent.
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alanemeriel  alanemeriel is offline
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Surpeti, your post makes me think about the good-evil duality, and you are right. Thank you for inspiring me.
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