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The Game of Tarots - Antoine Court de Geblin

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This discussion (aka Topic) is about Antoine Court de Geblin and the Game of Tarot.

Members who have an interest in a mathmatical Qabalist approach to the tarot, please see post #33 which contains links to the appropriate forum.

Further posts about a mathmatical Qabalist approach in this thread will be removed without notice.



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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjhurst
Patently silly people who do not wish to be laughed at and yet do not wish to abandon their world of make-believe have added a new layer of fiction on top of his original false stories. In this new myth CdG, and presumably Etteilla and the Comte de Mellet (CdM), didn't actually mean any of the absurdly false things they wrote -- they were not asserted as history, but just as charming stories. This rationalization about Court de Gébelin's opus magnum is as false as his original cock-and-bull fabrications were.
I don't know of anyone who has claimed that CdM and Etteilla didn't mean any of the things they wrote. Can you please be specific about who you are referring to? Otherwise, your statement is merely rumor rather than fact. I don't know what CdM and Etteilla thought, but CdM seems to have taken himself very seriously.

When I wrote "Here is the core myth told by Antoine Court de Gébelin," I didn't mean that he was deliberately writing a myth, I meant that it is a myth as we, today, perceive it: "a widely held but false belief or idea".

I call CdM's story a myth because that's what it later became in the occult tarot world—taking on a life of its own. That's why so many books, when discussing tarot's origins, have divided the discussion into myths and history - because they saw a place for de Gébelin's theory (and its later accretions), even though it wasn't fact. Myths are usually taken by some people as truth—until they learn more. It's important to educate people about the difference, but that doesn't mean that the myth doesn't hold its own value in human culture.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjhurst
Mary and many other Tarot cultists claim that Dummett et al. are biased and sloppy researchers, but none have yet produced even a single example, out of the thousands of historical references in those books, which demonstrates bad historical scholarship, much less a major conclusion they botched.
I have claimed that Dummett is biased and sometimes expressed his bias through derogatory terms in his books, and that those terms were (consciously or unconsciously) meant to sway readers toward his own perspective. But I have never claimed he was a sloppy researcher and I don't know of anyone else who has claimed this. I think and have often said that he has done the tarot world a great service through his outstanding research.

Dummett did "botch" (Michael's word) a few things (he's only human), which he and I discussed in a series of letters to each other.

A minor error exists on page 47 of WPC where Dummett says
Quote:
"The term 'Pentacles', used in occultist packs for the suit of Coins (Italian Denari), is more interesting, since it derives from a linguistic mistake of which A.E. Waite, who first had pentacles put on the suit-signs, was complete aware . . . In his translations from Lévi's writings, Waite simply left the word 'pantacle' untranslated, with the inevitable result that British readers thought it meant 'pentacle.' Waite exploited the misunderstanding . . . calling the suit 'Pentacles'."
Actually Lévi talks somewhere (can't look it up right now) about a pentacle being a perfect pantacle. Therefore, if you want to depict a pantacle, the pentacle is the most ideal representation. It incorporates everything a pantacle stands for. There was no 'mistake' or exploitation involved. BTW, in magick a pantacle and a talisman, though similar, are not exactly the same thing—but that's another matter.

On page 244-245, Dummett wrote that in Tarot of the Bohemians, Papus's argument is fallacious and his great numerological theorum doesn't hold. The fact is that he misunderstood the numerology and the whole point of Papus's system.

I wrote him: "Your analysis of Papus’s numerology is in error. . . . In your letter and book you say “He [Papus] then asserts that this [reductive system] will continue.” But he never asserts this in relation to numbers other than those in the 1/4 series. It is you who have drawn a general theorem from this: “If a number leaves the remainder 1 when divided by 3, its theosophic sum reduces theosophically to 1.” But, in your next paragraph, you apply this to the numbers 2 and 3, which Papus NEVER DOES. And he never intends it to be applied thus. I ask you to look in his book and quote me the exact sentence in which you think he does so. I couldn’t find it. Neither does he give any example involving a reduction to 2 or 3. . . ."

Dummett conceded both these errors and thanked me for the additional information.

In the introduction to WPC, Dummett made the claim that he was not evaluating what he found but presenting only the history, but his terms belie this, and I felt it was important to bring this up both in my review of WPC in Gnosis Magazine and to him directly. [I had two whole pages of examples like the one below that I didn't publish.]

I wrote him: "Such words as “lies” imply moral judgments and attitudes, not facts. For instance, the facts are that Paul Christian told a story that cannot be proved, and he ascribed it to a person who, in fact, did not write it. Declaring Christian to be a “lying charlatan” is a moral judgment and does not belong in a work of pure history that claims to "not be an evaluation" of it. I would like to see the facts demonstrating that Christian’s only motive was to get the public “to believe a falsehood,” as you say in your 2nd to last letter. You yourself have brought up motive, and you claim to know what Christian’s is (as historical fact)."

My criticisms were never meant to disparage the unequaled historical work that Dummett has done. But, he set the basis on which he felt his work should be taken, and I noted his tendency to stray unnecessarily outside of that in a way that I felt weakened his otherwise great strengths.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjhurst
Mary's gross ignorance about one of the most significant periods in Tarot history is not surprising, given her "methods". Here is a quote from Tarotpedia:
Michael - You are right, I am sadly ignorant about the develop of tarot decks specific to gaming and am glad to learn more about their development in the 18th century. I don't collect them and I've never studied them.

I wish, though, that you would stop claiming to know my feelings as in, "she fears talk about the game of Tarot." For the record, I don't fear talk about the game of Tarot. In fact, I've taught the basic game in many of my classes.

My comment about "aggressive promoting" by the game enthusiasts was, perhaps, inappropriate. But in my defense, it was in response to the fact that so many tarot videos on youtube and blogs on tarot-as-fortune-telling receive regular evangelistic messages about tarot not being created for fortune-telling but for games. Like this comment posted to a video by an East Indian woman on reading the cards, it seems, to me, like the form of non-commercial spamming that preaches a message:

Quote:
This video is an example of many which depict Tarot in a one sided fashion, as a tool for divination. In case someone hasn't already mentioned divination isn't the only way to use Tarot cards. Divination is not even the original use of Tarot! These cards were actually intended for game playing. The Tarot is really a variant of playing cards. In many European countries, the Tarot is still used for game playing. The traditional Tarot symbolism is actually rooted in Christianity.
and this comment from "Gameoftarot":
Quote:
Thanks to the efforts of the tarot game movement, you cannot google "whoopi goldberg tarot" without coming across our message! Our message is delivered! Whoopi stereotypes our games. Tarot segment appalling!
I simply think that tarotists have the right to read de Gébelin and discuss what he said. In the realm of literary criticism, an examination of the symbolism of the images in a text is a standard approach, even if not everyone likes it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti
I don't know of anyone who has claimed that CdM and Etteilla didn't mean any of the things they wrote. Can you please be specific about who you are referring to? Otherwise, your statement is merely rumor rather than fact. I don't know what CdM and Etteilla thought, but CdM seems to have taken himself very seriously.
I'm curious about this, as I too have never seen anyone claim that Court de Gébelin and Etteilla were not writing with sincerity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti
When I wrote "Here is the core myth told by Antoine Court de Gébelin," I didn't mean that he was deliberately writing a myth, I meant that it is a myth as we, today, perceive it: "a widely held but false belief or idea".

I call CdM's story a myth because that's what it later became in the occult tarot world—taking on a life of its own. That's why so many books, when discussing tarot's origins, have divided the discussion into myths and history - because they saw a place for de Gébelin's theory (and its later accretions), even though it wasn't fact. Myths are usually taken by some people as truth—until they learn more. It's important to educate people about the difference, but that doesn't mean that the myth doesn't hold its own value in human culture.
It's obvious that this is indeed what Teheuti has been saying all along, and one can't help but be mystified by Michael's misrepresentation of her comments, although after his fifth ad hominem attack I got bored with this "method" of "discussion," more accurately described as "flaming," and skipped to the next posts. Rosanne, both A Wicked Pack of Cards and A History of the Occult Tarot are fascinating; please don't reject these books because of the company they keep. It's not their fault.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Debra
Rosanne, both A Wicked Pack of Cards and A History of the Occult Tarot are fascinating; please don't reject these books because of the company they keep. It's not their fault.
I have these books Debra- they sit alsongside a plethora of Tarot books.


It would seem that Michael is in charge of the 'list' of what can be read and what can't be. I grew up with such a "list" it was called the Index Liborum Prohibitorum and was abolished in 1966 to allow freedom of enquiry for Catholics.
I wish the same freedom for Tarotists. I do not advocate for or against people reading anything they so wish to read. That would be a state too far.
~Rosanne
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I think there actually is a consensus that the Tarot did begin as an Italian card game. A press release from The American Tarot Association even aknowledges this. Mary Greer also acknowledges this fact.
The pastime of Tarot game playing is hardly confined to the elderly. I know the French version of the game remains popular amongst young people. Various forms of the Tarot game have actually increased in popularity since the 1980 publication of Game of Tarot. Dummett's Game of Tarot has been updated and expanded in 2004 with a 2 volume book co-written by John McLeod (pagat.com), A History of Games Played With the Tarot Pack.

My main gripe as a game player with occult or divinatory Tarot is that those practicing it have often persuaded most people in countries such as the US and the UK that their form of Tarot is the only one which exists. It is this denial of this other Tarot culture, the culture Tarot game playing which most concerns me.
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The Viscontis are the oldest we know. Who is saying that people played cards with them? I know of no evidence for that.

I personally don't see any evidence that tarot was invented for purposes of divination or magic.
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