Origin Of The Symbolism Of The Tarot

As we have already stated, each card of the Tarot represents a symbol, a number, and an idea.

We have endeavoured to avoid empiricism as far as possible in the course of these explanations; and therefore we first studied the numbers, for they are the most settled element, and give the most unvarying results in their combinations.

Relying firmly upon the basis which we have thus constructed, we can now study the symbols with absolute assurance.

We hope that for this purpose you have procured the Tarot 1 of Marseilles, the most correct in its symbolism, or p. 82

else the twenty-two keys designed by Oswald Wirth; perhaps--and this is really almost indispensable--you have both of them.

You need, then, only deal the cards upon the table, to see at once that the personages depicted upon them all wear dresses of the Renaissance period.

And yet, is this pack of cards of ancient origin? It does not appear so.

Look at your figures more attentively and you will soon perceive Egyptian symbols [the triple cross (No. 5), ibis (No. 17)] combined with these Renaissance costumes.

They at once prove that the Tarot of Marseilles is really the exact representation of the primitive Egyptian Tarot, slightly altered to the epoch denoted by the costumes. Only the gypsies possess the primitive pack intact.

The studies of those learned men who have investigated the Tarot have confirmed this fact by the strongest evidence. And the works of Chatto, i Boiteau 2 and above all of Merlin, 3 show us that history corroborates our assertion.

Merlin conducted his researches very scientifically, and succeeded in discovering the original of our Tarot of Marseilles in an Italian Tarot at Venice, the father of all the later packs.

He believes also that he has discovered the origin of this Venetian Tarot in the philosophical pack of Mantegna.

But he cannot determine the origin of this pack, because p. 83

the one that Merlin believed to be the source of the Tarot is on the contrary a reproduction, made by one of the Initiates. The Ars Magna of Raymond Lulle was produced in the same way; it is drawn entirely from the Tarot.

We have given for reference the pack of Mantegna, known in the trade as the cards of Baldini, as well as the packs of the Italian Tarots, from which most of ours are derived.

The tableau 1 which indicates the connection between the Tarot packs and that of Mantegna, ought to be reversed, and on the contrary show the cards of Mantegna derived from the Tarot, as we have stated.

Here are the figures of the Tarots. (See page 84.)


1 The beggar.

11 Calliope.

21 Grammar.

31 Astronomy.

41 Moon.

2 The knave.

12 Urania.

22 Logic.

32 Chronology.

42 Mercury.

3 The artisan.

13 Terpsichore.

23 Rhetoric.

33 Cosmology.

43 Venus.

4 The merchant.

14 Erato.

24 Geometry.

31 Temperance.

44 Sun.

5 The Nobleman.

15 Polyhymnia.

25 Arithmetic.

35 Prudence.

45 Mars.

6 The Knight.

16 Thalia.

26 Music.

36 Strength.

46 Jupiter.

7 The Doge.

17 Melpomene.

27 Poetry.

37 Justice.

47 Saturn.

8 The King.

18 Euterpe.

28 Philosophy.

38 Charity.

48 8th sphere.

9 The Emperor.

19 Clio.

29 Astrology.

39 Hope.

49 Chief agent.

10 The Pope. 20 Apollo. 30 Theology.

E = Positions in life. D = Muses and Arts. C = Sciences.

50 First cause.

A = The system of the Universe.

Minchiate of Florence. 97 cards, of which 40 are Tarots.

0 The Foolish Man.

1 The Juggler.

2 The Grand Duke.

3 The Emperor of the West.

4 The Emperor of the East.

5 Love.

6 Temperance.

7 Strength.

8 Justice.

9 The Wheel of Fortune.

10 The Chariot.

11 The Old Man, with an Hour-glass.

12 The Hanged Man.

13 Death.

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