Has anyone noticed [Visconti and Marseille details]

brad stieger

1. Has anyone noticed that the shape of the earliest cards , such as the Visconti Sforza & "Charles VI" seem to match the square root of five rectangle, formed by putting two squares together, like I believe in some versions of the Templars Beauseant & the basic unit of a Masonic floor. According to Robert Lawlor in his excellent book "Sacred Geometry", this symbolises the relationship between spirit & matter.
2. That in the Visconti Sforza Fortune the ascending "I will rule", has ears but no tail. The descending "I have ruled" has a tail but no ears. The king "I rule", who sits on a hexagonal platform simular in shape & placement to the one that New Jerusalem is on in the World card, possibily indicating the King / Emperor is correlated with Heaven / Zeus, clearly has ears but where is the tail? He seems to be the only figure whose speech ribbon doesn't emerge from his mouth & is illustrated in such a way that it could be in front of his body but could also be behind it, as a tail
3. In the "Charles VI" Hanged Man the two bags with a coin sticking out of them, might just be sunsets, esp if the descending man relates to the setting sun, then the coin on the left is lower than the one on the right, possibly suggesting Winter Solstice on the left & Summer Solstice on the right. In both the Visconti & the "Charles VI" cards the head is turned to the left hand side, also in both cards a leg points to the left hand side indicating Winter Solstice, The time of reversal, when the end becomes the beginning
4. In the Marseilles Empress has anyone noticed what appears to be a wing sticking out from under her rear, I've only found one reference that might be relevant in "Man, Myth & Magic" that tells about a practice of buring one wing under the soil, to prevent Zeus / Jupiter fron destroying the crops with hail. Crops indicate Demeter, the fertile Earth.


Welcome to Aeclectic, brad stieger.

The 2 x 1 shape of some cards (or very close geometrical ratio) has been mentioned at various times by a number of us in the past. What is interesting is not only the sacred geometry it produces, but also, on a more mundane level, that it results with any two cards forming a square.

Of course, this 2x1 ratio is also a very simple one to make, and is not used (unfortunately) by all early decks (eg, the Noblet).

I personally remain unsure as to how best explain this overall preference. In at least two types of pre-tarot deck of influence on its development, the ratio resulted in a rather long and narrow strip - I am thinking here of the Chinese and the Mamluk decks. In later developments, we see a progressive reduction in the ratio towards the golden mean.

With regards to the Visconti-Sforza Fortune card, I do not recall previous suggested correlations to Zeus or the heavens (though perhaps through lack of memory). The question is, however, if the Wheel shows the tides of ascent and dethronement in the fortunes of humanity, whether a link to the Heavens and Zeus is necessary, especially as there appears to be no other indicators to suggest such.

In similar depictions are sometimes a knight-looking figure rising, a king atop, and a toppled king falling (with crown falling off his head), with another older king trampled beneath.

Such cycle of kingship could, of course, be similarly be explained by an account of the repeated rise of fall of successive gods in the Zeus (and his forefathers) saga. As such, it provides an interesting further allusion to the ongoing effects of Lady Fortuna.

With the hanged man and the coins out of the bags, various references have at times been made to both Sunset and to the Solstices (and the the equinoxes, for that matter). Of course, having his head down does suggest a sun-setting and hence, if one is going to add compass points, we are viewing west in looking at the card, suggesting that at the further left is the winter solstitial point, and to the right the summer solstitial point (in the northern hemisphere, of course).

If that is the case, however, the head is still centered, and hence indicating an equinox. His direction of gaze, however, is interesting and adds to a point you raise: by looking to the left of the card, his direction is towards winter, and hence would suggest (if any seasonal factors are at all suggested) the autumnal equinox.

...thing is, how does this compare to, for example, the Catelin Geoffroy (1557) depiction in terms of implied or intended seasonal interpretation?