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Thread: Playing Cards

  1. #1
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    Playing Cards

    Awhile ago I was doing some research on the major arcana of the tarot, the tradition of the "learned image", different types of "cards" (Thomas Murner, anyone?), masonic tressleboards, and all that good stuff. I've had a long-term interest in techniques associated with "The Art of Memory". I'm a huge fan of Lull and Bruno.

    I also had come across some good information on older astrology and it's focus on the "decans".

    I came up with some ideas about the normal, "exoteric" playing cards that we all know. I think bells starting going off when I read about the "faces" of the decans, and the associated images.

    So with normal playing cards, they number 52. That is the number of weeks in the Solar Year. (it is also the value of Michael in the Roman alphabet, who represents the Sun. 52). The 52 cards are divided into 4 suits of 13 cards each, which might represent the seasons. (13 weeks each)

    Within each suit, you have the number cards 1 (Ace) - 10, the number of degrees per Decan (10x36=360), and three FACE cards, Prince, King and Queen. The decans were considered "rulers" of the Zodiac.

    And with the number cards, you have the Ace which is 1 and 11, which seems to "encode" a lesson of the Decad, that as you complete the cycle of the decad, you return to the Monad, 1. For example, "11" stands for "one ten, and one", And this holds true at each "dimension", 11, 101, 1001, 10001, etc. Always returning to one. (I actually prefer this explanation to what the second image shows.. I reserved the right to change my mind!)

    I admit, this may be a stretch.. but it's something to think about.




  2. #2
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    I like Alejandro Jodorowsky's approach on the Tarot.
    Actually I like Jodorowsky and have just a little experience with Tarot (de Marseille is my favourite).

    I recently discovered a similarity between le pendu



    and this picture from the Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit:



    Notice the chopped off branches on the tree trunks.

    You may like the cards of the "Meister der Spielkarten" as well. Many people see his as an original style reused in many other alchemical works (Sol und Luna, Splendor Solis, Lambspring)

    Example the "Master of Playing Cards:"



    Lambspring (print version)

    Last edited by Florius Frammel; 02-17-2019 at 04:01 PM.

  3. #3
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    Excellent.. Marseilles is my favorite deck also. (I'm really only concerned with the 22 keys of the Major Arcana). As much as I hate to use the Golden Dawn as a "source", I also like their deck sometimes, for some of their symbolism. The Bodet deck is older, but the Marseilles deck is true to it (I only have rather crappy examples of the Bodet deck



    Again, hating to use G.D. as a source, I usually bring up the Hanged Man with Waite's write-up:

    The gallows from which he is suspended forms a Tau cross, while the figure—from the position of the legs—forms a fylfot cross. There is a nimbus about the head of the seeming martyr. It should be noted (1) that the tree of sacrifice is living wood, with leaves thereon; (2) that the face expresses deep entrancement, not suffering; (3) that the figure, as a whole, suggests life in suspension, but life and not death. [...] It has been called falsely a card of martyrdom, a card of prudence, a card of the Great Work, a card of duty [...] I will say very simply on my own part that it expresses the relation, in one of its aspects, between the Divine and the Universe.

    He who can understand that the story of his higher nature is imbedded in this symbolism will receive intimations concerning a great awakening that is possible, and will know that after the sacred Mystery of Death there is a glorious Mystery of Resurrection.
    - The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, A. E. Waite
    I've noticed that in Dreifaltigkeit too. Especially since I can't read it and my focus is strictly on the images. Since you brought it up, some versions also seem to have a possible version of the "wheel of fortune" in close proximity to the hanged man. But I also know the wheel was a version of the "rack" torture. I would assume the accompanying text would point one way or the other:



    I've also come across "The Master of the Playing Cards" while researching.. I didn't know the connection to Lambspring however.



    Here's the version of Lambspring I posted awhile ago.. I don't know how good the English translation is, but my images sure are nice: Lambspring

    Are you familiar with Murner? I collected what I could find on him a couple of years ago. Most of the information is in german. I did my basic image extracting and whatnot and have done nothing with it and never even mentioned him until now.


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    The Buch der Dreifaltigkeit uses its own kind of Kabbala.
    There are always three characters coding a planet/metal/archetype.

    In the case of the hanged Jesus it says "ahp", which means "Mars". Note that the arrow doesn't point on Jesus, but the right (from Jesus' point of view) tree trunk. Maybe the opposite trunk should be called "Venus"?

    The similarities are so obvious, there must be a common source with the Tarot (The chariot has some obvious references to a part of Plato's Timaios, but here the source must be christian of course).

    "ckr" is written on the wheel you mentioned, which means "saturn". Of course here a torture is shown which in german is called "rädern" (=wheeling). Especially Fulcanelli knows a certain "secret wheel fire". Also time often plays a role in the symbolism of wheels. Eventually some speak of (three) rotations in the alchemical practice.

    Above the wheel there is shown a beheading and "biq", which is "Venus".

    I never heard of Murner.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    The Buch der Dreifaltigkeit uses its own kind of Kabbala.
    There are always three characters coding a planet/metal/archetype.

    In the case of the hanged Jesus it says "ahp", which means "Mars". Note that the arrow doesn't point on Jesus, but the right (from Jesus' point of view) tree trunk. Maybe the opposite trunk should be called "Venus"?
    'For Man is known herein by his daily Practice, also by his Course and Discourse; for the Upper Instrument, which is most strongly drawn, is always played upon: Thus also it is with a Beast that is wild, but when it is over-awed and tamed, and brought to another Property, it does not easily show its first innate Form, unless it be stirred up, and then it breaks forth, and appears above all other Forms. ' He must have the Understanding of the Generation of Nature, else all his Labour and Pains are to no Purpose, except the Grace of the Most High has bestowed upon him some Particular, that so he is able to tincture Venus and Mars, which is the shortest [and most ready Way,] if God shows him such an Herb wherein the Tincture lies"

    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    The similarities are so obvious, there must be a common source with the Tarot (The chariot has some obvious references to a part of Plato's Timaios, but here the source must be christian of course).
    Ezekiel. and the resultant "merkaba" (Chariot) literature.

    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    "ckr" is written on the wheel you mentioned, which means "saturn". Of course here a torture is shown which in german is called "rädern" (=wheeling). Especially Fulcanelli knows a certain "secret wheel fire". Also time often plays a role in the symbolism of wheels. Eventually some speak of (three) rotations in the alchemical practice.

    Above the wheel there is shown a beheading and "biq", which is "Venus".
    Some old babblings on rotations:

    ROTA
    TARO
    TORA(H)

    Rota
    Latin[edit]
    rota persica (Iranian wheel)
    From Proto-Indo-European *Hret- ‎(“to roll”).
    Cognate with Sanskrit रथ ‎(ratha, “chariot”), Lithuanian ratas ‎(“wheel”), Old High German rad ‎(“wheel”) (German Rad ‎(“wheel”)), Albanian rreth. Compare the Latin rotundus ‎(“round, circular”).
    -----------
    Tarot = Rota. Rotate.
    Like the Art of Memory systems, themselves deriving from the 'Rotating wheels' in the sefer yetsirah (the source of Trithemius' code wheels - a form of Temurah)

    The systems are about COMBINING. Rotating and Combining.
    rota
    : a list that shows who must do a certain job
    a : a fixed order of rotation (as of persons or duties)


    Sometimes wheels, rings, and hoops are just a another way of saying "circle".

  6. #6
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    I don't know the merkaba literature, but I don't see any similarities with Ezekiel, besides the strange orientation of the wheels on the chariot. Even then in Ezekiel it says the wheels can move in any direction.

    I was wondering about the common source of the two hanged men. The Timaios is a quite exhaustive source for the chariot imo.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    I don't know the merkaba literature, but I don't see any similarities with Ezekiel, besides the strange orientation of the wheels on the chariot. Even then in Ezekiel it says the wheels can move in any direction.

    I was wondering about the common source of the two hanged men. The Timaios is a quite exhaustive source for the chariot imo.
    Yeah my bad, I read it wrong and I was strictly referring to "christian sources" of the Chariot. The Chariot isn't a thing in the new testament, but it is in the O.T., and is connected to pretty specific traditions. The christian source would really only be the hebrew source.

    But I'm not sure what you are referring to in the Timaeus. If you are referring to Phaethon, he's driving Helios' chariot. Around the 5th century B.C., Apollo starts being associated as the Sun as Apollo Helios, and afterwards just "Apollo". If this is what you are referring to, I literally JUST explained the Quadriga of Apollo in a new blog post. Spoiler: The "wheel" is the path of the sun around the zodiac to complete the solar year, the 4 spokes are the "corners" of the world, the equinoxes and solstices marking the beginning of each season (the solar cross). Expanded to 8 spokes for "mid season" points. Easily relatable to some Tarot (for the record, the "world" definitely references Ezekiel with the 4 faces):



    It's in Plato's Phaedrus that there is a "mystical" chariot ride that is very much related to Ezekiel's.

    The only thing I can think of in Timaeus that you may be referring to, especially in terms of rotation in a specific direction, is the description of the two "bands" that make up the "World Soul":

    (36 b,c,d) So he split this whole construction in two, down its length, made the halves cross one another at their centres, in the form of the letter Chi (X), and bent them into circles, so that each met itself and the other at a point opposite that where they had been crossed He then enfolded them in the motion of uniform revolution and made one of them the outer, the other the inner circle. The outer circle he named after the Same, the inner after the Other. To that of the Same he gave a spin 'by the side"' to the right, to that of the Other a spin 'by the diagonal' to the left,and assigned the supremacy to the circle of the Same and Uniform.
    These two great circles are the Celestial and Ecliptic planes. The ecliptic being visualized as the path the planets take around the Zodiac, basically can be imagined as extending from the equator of the Sun (although the sun is even tilted about 5 degrees from this plane). The celestial plane is visualized as extending from the equator of the earth, and this spin is the rotation of the Axis Mundi.

    He describes them as joined in the middle, and forming an "X" at their intersections. These nodes become known as caput and cauda draconis, the head and tail of the dragon.. a.k.a. lunar nodes. These are where eclipses of the Sun or Moon can occur. (the original of the silly sounding myth of the Dragon "eating" the sun/moon).

    Because of the axial tilt of the Earth, these two circles are offset by approx. 23.5 degrees. The text is basically describing an "Armillary Sphere".


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    No, my bad!

    I messed some things up. It's not Plato's Timaeus, but Marsilio Ficino (who did a commentary on the Timaeus), who some consider to be the inventor of the Tarot, who explained the chariot himself:

    https://www.3x7.org/en/5-the-chariot-deciphered-part-1/

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    And it's Plato's Phaedrus that it references. No joke, I was just sorting through my Greek collection yesterday (and trying to decide if Mirandola and Ficino belong under "Greek", or on their own). You should also remember that all these guys are just as steeped in Kabbalah.

    Sometimes too much is made of the 'darkness' of the Dark Ages. Greek and Roman philosophy/knowledge hadn't exactly been lost in Europe until the Renaissance and the translation movements patronized by the Medicis.. Or even the knowledge that was brougth back to Europe during the Crusades. What existed in Europe during the Roman Empire didn't exactly disappear, it was squirreled away in private collections and... Monastaries. The monks still had access to most of it and were literate, even though the general population wasn't. Pretty early on the Church reconciled Aristotle with the "Christian Message" and he was quite acceptable to study.

    But it's interesting that so many of these earliest "names", like Raymond Lully, were monks.

    It turns out I have most of this material from Mirandola and Ficino although I haven't given it any kind of real look. What you linked is very interesting and I'll have to give it a serious read.

    It's impossible to ignore that the 22 keys of the Major Arcana map to the 22 letters of the hebrew alphabet and the 22 paths of the properly designed tree of life.

    (I was 22" when I was born, and currently my street number is 22 )

  10. #10
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    This is going to be hard to believe, but when I typed that stuff about monks, I had no yet come across this old work in my FB memories. This is just a major, freaky coincidence. Another genre that I've downloaded a shit-ton of for the pretty pictures are manuscripts from monastaries and churches.. Psalters, Book of Hours, on the Jewish side, "Mazhors". I actually did a comparison once of some of these images against early alchemical images. It got me kicked out of one of the bigger alchemy groups on fb (where the admin is trying to sell his course).

    Greg Marcus
    February 18, 2017 at 8:48 PM ·
    So the large images are from a "Book of Hours" manuscript.

    The small inset images are from modern version of the Tarot of Marseilles format. I've actually seen a pope card looking pretty much identical to that fat pope but without the surrounding people.

    "The World" i recognized first, of course.

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