The Behenian Fixed Stars


kwaw said:
The idea that the tarot too is connected with mnemonic tropes has occurred to many of us individually and can be found suggested among several tarot authors from an early period. Of anyone to whom the idea has occured and found expression however I believe Diane O'Donavon has done most to seek to substantiate and demonstrate such with a great deal of original research in this area, some of which hopefully she will be able to share with us while she is here.

The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric and the Making of Images, 400-1200 (Cambridge University Press, 1998)
Firstly whilst I agree with your sentiments here; I must say that it is you Kwaw- who have provided the inspiration for the last couple of years, for me personally, and I am sure, others a well. It was you who introduced me to Mary Carruthers. Your links, and therefore allowing each individual to seek and search for themselves, little snippets of appropriate poetry, interesting emblemata and the like -always stretching my imagination- it's been invaluable. Take a bow yourself and thank you. ~Rosanne


Rosanne said:
It was you who introduced me to Mary Carruthers.

Well I don’t think I came to read Carruthers until c.2003 in relation to a study group totally unrelated to tarot; Diane I believe has been promoting Carruthers in relation to tarot as mnemonics since the 90’s; so I can’t pretend any originality there

If you are interested in the art of memory I recommend:

The Book of Memory by Carruthers, Mary.

The Medieval Craft of Memory: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, edited by Carruthers, Mary.

The Craft of Thought by Carruthers, Mary.

The Gallery of Memory: Literary and Iconographic Models in the Age of the Printing Press by Bolzoni, Lina

Logic and the Art of Memory: The Quest for a Universal Language by Rossi, Paolo.

The Art of Memory by Yates, Francis.

(Don't buy... Get your library to order them. You can always buy later if you decide you want/need them).


Thanks Kwaw I have the first three- will get the library to get the others in as I have blown the book budget of late. It has taken me a while, but I think Tarot was an Aid to memory device sequestered for a game. I think it is, because it was an aid in this way, it looks like it is a coat of many colours. Anti church, stars, maps, punning, and especially Biblical. Just like the thoughts of the Chaucer Verses.The origin in France or Italy or Sicily even :D
I have been thrilled to read what I can of DianeOD's essays. ~Rosanne


Memory and pictorial figures

No need to buy this one, if you can browse in a good bookshop..

In Veronika Sekules, Medieval Art (Oxford History of Art series), Chapter 5 is entitled, 'Image and Learning'. Contains a very lucid short essay as text, and well chosen pictures e.g. the cosmic body, a diagram showing the sort of time-and-place [temporal] unity then accepted; an example of the genealgical Tree and tower diagram and two brilliant examples of a diagram/memory key for what's termed the "encyclopaedic" style in medieval studies. See these pp.134-5.

The second of those diagrams is especially interesting, being from the Liber floridus, such 'flowers' being not only the basis (as I think) for Llull's memory method, but linking later with those Flos-kaartjen being talked about in another thread.

Really commend Sekules book to you, Rosanne


I'm opening this thread to continue a discussion that has sprung up about the Fixed stars and their possible relation to the TdM trumps.
If anyone else knows of other constellational (non-Zodiac) Trump assignments by any authors I'd love to know about them.

Although I don't believe that the so-called Behenian stars were the basis of the 22 Tarot Trumps, but I do believe that many comments made in this thread have truth and bearing upon the origin of the Tarot, especially in relation to fixed stars and constellations. I think the astronomical-navigation system that was the basis of the Tarot was in existence before the astrolabes pictured. - Lance

QUOTE=Scion;1116620]How about Spica (from Latin spīca virginis "Virgo's ear of grain") for Trump III: The Empress?
Spica is associated with Demeter/Ceres and the various names of the star in different Mediterranean cultures connect it with the Virgin, Grain, Hips, and Feritility:

Spica is in the constellation Virgo, the Virgin, who in my opinion is pictured in the World card. - Lance

So I guess the cards maybe are a part of the image bought to mind. So like Kwaw said -The Star has elements of what is depicted around it on a celestial map- Aquarius and the Pisces Austrinus the fish all in one card. I am thinking that maybe these 22 Cards are a celestial map cut up into individual pieces..
:D ~Rosanne

It is also my opinion that the 22 trump cards are from a celestial star map that was cut into individual pieces. Most of the images can be recognized, such as the Empress being represented in the celestial sky by the constellation Cassiopeia and the Emperor being represented in the celestial sky by the constellation Cepheus. - Lance

Alternatively the Moon could be seen as Cancer, with the two dogs Procyon and Sirius beneath; Procyon (the lamentor or weeper) being the 'root' star of the card [Procyon and Cancer being connected in star lore]; Sirius the crosser or travellor then connects into the Fool of which it is the 'root' star...? Regulus is perhaps the root star beneath Leo, placing Moon and Sun opposite Star / Delta Capricorni {tail of the goat} / Aquarius.

Bateleur as Spica is v. interesting, the relationship of the star to Virgo / Libra also links in perhaps to Justice.

The Moon as Cancer is logical as is the Sun as Leo. Sirius, the Dog Star, pictures Isis and the stars surrounding Sirius in the constellation Canis Major. The constellation Libra pictures the Justice card.

The Trump cards are spread all over the map (star map that is). Even the suits and court cards can be found in the celestial sky. In my opinion, the Queen is Cassiopeia, the King is Cepheus, the Knight is Perseus, and the Page is Andromeda. The Sword is Cygnus, the Wand is Draco, the Cup is Cepheus and the Shield is Hercules. The Trump cards picture the celestial Holy Grail. - Lance

Pleiades - not a star (as noted) but a star cluster. In Mythology, they were the "7 Sisters" (and now are seen as the logo of Subaru....). I've often heard that the star formation in "The Star" (in the Marseilles deck, it's 1 large star and 6 smaller ones) representing the Pleides

The Star card can also be seen picturing the large star Sirius, with minor stars surrounding it. The constellation Columba is next to Canis Major and may represent a bird in the Star card.

But it is important to realize that these were not the chief astrological stars, but the most important of the navigational stars: the ones which are used to indicate directions, as well as seasons, in the real world of the naked-eye navigators.

I have come to the same conclusion after spending decades of research into celestial charts and ancient writing systems, although my methodology and results were different. I believe that what we see in the Tarot Trumps is an astronomical navigation system that made it possible for those using it to sail or travel around the world. - Cartomancer (Lance Carter)