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Tarot of the masters [Vacchetta]

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Let me know if either happens...


I like starting with a low cost version and upgrading or personalizing if there are options available...in the case of what you are saying about the Vachetta, all of the above are great ideas. It's a beautiful old design, much prettier to me as I see options.
Now because of seeing the Jost Amman deck, the Vacchetta is much more interesting to me than the Sola Busca...I long to see a design history, as well. (Although the English translation of the design history in the introduction that Berti does for the Sola Busca book was quite valued to me.)
Thanks,

Mari H.
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I love this deck!


The Tarot of the Master is a wonderful deck which I have been using since I found it in the New Leaf catalogue last winter. It jumped easily into my collection because most of my working decks are Continental, historical, and harken back to earlier traditions. Since the Vachetta deck was created by someone with a sense of nostalgia who is educated in the esoterism of the 1500's, its quite delightful to me.

The first thing that I saw in this deck is that the images seem to make reference to the style of illustration found in the enigmatic compendium called the _Hypnerotomachia Poliphili_, which was published very soon after the technology of printing arrived in Europe. This volume set benchmarks for the publishing field in a number of different ways, not the least of which was the inclusion of engravings embedded in the text, rather than just leaving blank spaces that a commissioned artist would fill in for his employer.

The form of the story "is modeled on the idyllic pastoral, bucholic *romanzo d'amore*, a tradition that had peaked over a century earlier with its universally acknowledged master, Giovanni Boccaccio...[The Hypnerotomachia] is an anachronism. It adds nothing new to the amorous imaginary. It brings together all the steriotypcal characters traditionally associated with what was by then a highly stylized genre; the enamored hero and the indifferent heroine, atended by scores of stock characters, -- nymphs, maiads, satyrs, gods, ogddesses, and demigods -- who, all too predictably sing, dance, give advice, and in general eagerly officiate wehnever there is opportunity for the lovers to engage in a rite of union. It settings bow to the invariable formula of verdant glades, babbling brooks, and enclosed gardens. As for the plot, it too conforms to the conventions of the genre's time-worn topoi -- the lover's unrequited love, his quest to win the heart of the heroine, love's triumph, the blissful union." (p. 8 of Liane Lefaivre's _Leon Battista Alberti's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili_.)

To my eye, Vachetta was mentally "hanging out" with the stream of enthusiasts of this unique production. It had several different editions despite its prodigious size and virtual untranslaltibility. If you can find illustrations of the Hypnerotomachi online, do take the time to just flip through the imagery till you have an "eyefull". Then take out your Tarot of the Master (any edition) and see if you don't see a resemblance.

This deck raises some fascinating questions, since it emerges shortly after the Etteilla decks, which (IMHO) seemto have stylistic relations with the Lazzarelli images (a few of which Kaplan pictures for us at the beginning of his Vol. 1). Lazzarelli's images were given to the Vatican very late in the 1400's, parallel to the time when the Hypnerotomachia emerged (though it is thought to have been written several decades earlier). Might we be seeing a shared aesthetic between the *romanzo d'amore*, the Hypnerotomachia, the Lorenzo images, and the culture-wide "classical revival" that was drawing Europe into the Renassance?

Looking over at Jocelyn Godwin's excellent _The Pagan Dream of the Renaissance_, there seems to be further resonance. Godwin includes the Mantegna imagery in his cataloge of sculpture, engravings, and paintings that demonstrate the desire to "Re-order the World" through art. I feel fairly certain that the Vachetta was created while under the spell of "The Pagan Dream of the Renaissance".

Blessings, C
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Thanks for the updates!


I'm pulling out my deck again.

I did get the Il Menghello version awhile back as inspiration for watercolor studies...and forgot about it until you posted.

Thanks!

Mari H.
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finally . . .


I ordered the Il Meneghello version some time back and just recieved it. It is like night and day compared to the Scarabeo version! The Meneghello reproduction is truly excellent and the layout treatment far better. The impact of the imagery benefits tremendously as a result.

I only wish I could find more of an online presence regarding the material Christine had mentioned.
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further Hypnerotomachia musings


I'll just keep mentioning references I have found that link back to this "Pagan Dream of the Renaissance" (as defined by Godwin), because maybe one thing will lead to another and others will have an "AHA"...

I have the first five volumes of _Alexandria_ the journal from Phanes Press, where they every-so-often bind together a collection of articles that are too short to print alone. In Volume 5 (edited by the fabulous David Fideler), there is an article called "Oneiriconographia: Entering Poliphilo's Utopian Dreamscape -- A Review Essay", by Peter Lamborn Wilson. (It is possible that this essay might be online too.) This
essay was wonderful to read, because it is a recollection of a walking tour that some Italian friends told him he **had to take** in Viterbo, a little ways outside of Rome. It became clear during this little tour that the author had been sent to the very gardents and castles which were apparently either the inspiration for, or the results of, the vision and spiritual creativity present in the Hypnerotomachia.

If I could only type in this whole article, I would, but this will have to dop. 408)
"This world is not merely sensual, but simultaneously magical, initiatic, and philosophical. Botticelli absorbed his "pagan" worldview from the Platonic Academies of Ficino and Pico, who read Plato through the lens of "Late Classical" Neoplatonism, Hermeticism, and theurgy. But the Reanissance Hermeticists' positive evaluation of sensuality and the material world is clearly not derived only from classical sources, but rather it represents their own breakthrough into a world of "magical materialism" -- a philosophy with political implications. The defense of the body against dualism and moralism constitutes the most radical plank in the platform of Renaissance neopaganism. By no means can the Hermeticists be considered simply as materialist precursors of "modern science." however. On the contrary, they were "pantheistic monists" in revolt against the church and its "slander of the body," and in extreme cases, this position led to a kind of crypto-apostasy, replete with magic and neopagan ritual."

You can probably see why this turns me on! My intuition tells me that the Tarot is a product of "the margins of Relgion" rather than its mainstream, despite my old debate-buddy Bob O'Neill's thunderings to the contrary.... So I'm thrilled to see Wilson's review here, and wonder what else he has published that might be relevant to Tarot, even obliquely...?

Christine
www.tarotuniversity.org
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Wilson's suggestions about Emblems


Another snip from the article by Peter Lamborn Wilson, mentioned in my last post: (p. 413)

"The emblem tradition -- deeply imfluenced by the Hypnerotomachia, one of the first precursors of the genre -- was entirely give over to propaganda in the sense that all emblems were 'moral'. [Walter] Benjamin stresses the allegorical and moralistic aspect of the emblems, but if we concentrate on the specifically Hermetic emblems, we can admit that some 'morals' are not moralistic at all, and that 'alchemic polysemy' involves much more than a one-to-one translation of word-into-image, or vide versa. Books like the Hypnerotomachia are not only symbolic as well as allegorical, they are also ~initiatic~ texts. Concentration upon the images, meditation on the text and its relation to the images, and 'inner work' on the self in light of the revelations and inspirations thus obtained, all allow the book, in a sense, to ~replace~ the "laboratory work" of alchemy -- equating it, as it were -- with an inner transformative process of directed imagination. Because the emblem is not merely discursive or lineal or completelyl accessible to reason, ~bcause~ the emblem is occulted, obscured, it needs to be penetrated on all cognitive levels simultaneously -- incluse of meta-rational levels of consciousness that ie beyond cognition in a ny ordinary sense. Precisely for these reasons, the emblem book becomes a process -- or even a ~performance~ -- in which the reader can achieve self-relaization through the initiatory 'magic' of the text."

Here again, I just love this stuff. This is how I approach the Tarot myself, and my favorite decks are usually the oldest, so when someone like Wilson starts to talk like this (even if it's not about Tarot), then I'm all ears!
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a few more for the road....


Looking through the bibliography for Wilson's article (above), I tripped over one reference that I have LOVED that also bears on this question of "what, besides Christianity, were the Renaissance Magi seeing in the cards?"

That's Ioan Couliano's _ Eros and Magic in the Renaissance_. ( I think there's a bit of an article about it in the TarotL archives written by me two or more years ago.) This book is tantalizingly suggestive for sympathizers of the idea that Tarot contains a strata of magical/mystical/initiatory references. I can't say enough about it, really, nearly every page of my copy has highlighter on it from my avid readings and rereadings. Couliano opened my eyes to the "learned games" of the Renaissance and the multiple levels that an educated person might be able to juggle together in their head during the course of "play".

Of course, this leads right back into "The Art of Memory" practices that Yates documents so thoroughly in her book by the same name. That one has been reprinted several times, so perhaps it is not too hard to acquire. This is another book of mine that is now barely readable because so many colors of underline and hightlight have amassed through the years...

This calibre of reading is scholarly, dense, and even 'crunchy' sometimes, but there is no substitute if one wants to see the potential of the Tarot from the Renaissance POV. I know the "historians" will say that the subject-matter of these books hits ~aside from~ or ~later than~ the appearance of the very first Tarots, but for those of us who are as interested in the history of beliefs as we are in the development of the images, these kinds of studies help us feel our way into the "rest of the story".
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By the way...


I found some beautiful correspondences of the Vachetta designs in different historical researches of Ferarra of the 1400s, so it seems there is much history that the design master Vacchetta drew from.

Artemis/Diana as the huntress in Luna/Moon; the violinist to me
is similar to an appeal to Apollo by Dante where the reference to the musician who competed against the god Apollo (probably not the same, though, as the violin should be a lyre--this is my association); Force reminds me of the Minchiate where the woman is beside a column and the lion tamed to her hand reminds me of historical depictions of Strength; the Queen of Swords remind me of Judith from Matteo Maria Boiardo's poem tarocchi verses; eight of coins remind of Caesers on the Minchiate; King of Denari reminds me of the stability of certain dukedoms that housed the Jewish population and received in return a great and reliable tax base that contributed to their riches--at least this was the historical case in Ferarra. And finally, Amor precariously balanced on the globe and blindfolded, with two turtledoves or just a pair of lovebirds. The title of the card is Amore, which is the state of love...

Very beautiful deck that reveals its riches slowly to me.

Mari H.
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I found Mark McElroy's Taking the Tarot to Heart uses this


and I'm rather glad, as it always seemed to me to be a deck one could use for modern readings. I like the fact his books sometimes uses decks not normally seen in other books...

Regards,

Cerulean
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Hypnerotomachia Poliphili translation free e-book


http://mitpress.mit.edu/e-books/HP/

or you can buy it off Amazon.com for about $30.00 hardbound with all the engraved plates or wait for it to come out in paperback.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/IS...sim/aeclectic/

Based on the beautiful leads given by others, I finally found this book and am re-reading it...it will go with my historical Emblem Book known as Theatre De L'Amour...but I'm playing with it and my Vacchetta...

Regards,

Cerulean
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