Tuesday, May 15, 2012





(Added 2014, corrected 2017: Here are links to other blog-essays of mind relating to Etteilla:
http://etteillastrumps.blogspot.com/, in which I transcribe and translate Etteilla's comments on the trump cards of his deck in his 2nd Cahier and its Supplement.
http://thirdcahier.blogspot.com/, in which I transcribe and translate Etteilla's list of upright and reversed meanings for all 78 cards of the tarot in his 3rd Cahier, including also others' translations and keywords in various editions his cards, plus his corrections in the 3rd Cahier and 4th Cahier Supplements. http://templeinmemphis.blogspot.com/ discussing a diagram that is the frontispiece to Etteilla's Leçons Théoreque et Pratique du Livre de Thot in terms of an essay by his follower Hugand, of which I translate the relevant portion.
http://etteillasangelology.blogspot.com/ translating and discussing the portion of Etteilla's book Philosophie des Hautes Sciences dealing with the "72 angels of God".)

In this essay I am going to look at the historical tarot in terms of Pythagorean and Neopythagorean philosophy from ancient Greece and Rome as known during the Renaissance. The decks I will consider are the Sola-Busca of c. 1491, along with the Etteilla of 1789 together with the Etteilla School's word-lists associated with the cards. Excluding the Sola-Busca trumps, which are mostly of Greco-Roman heroes and unrelated to Neopythagoreanism that I can see,there is considerable affinity between the number cards as pictured in the Sola-Busca and as characterized in the Etteilla School word-lists, despite the separation of some 300 years.

(I know of two of these word lists. One is in Papus's Tarot Divinitoire of 1909. The other was published c. 1838 in a book called Le Grand Etteilla, by "Julia Orsini," generally considered a pseudonym for the publisher Simon Blocquel. There is much overlap, but also differences. They both presumably date from 1790 or a little later, by different followers of Etteilla.)

At the same time, I find that the standard "Marseille" style designs, starting with the Noblet of the 1660s and ending with the Conver of 1761, are amenable to a similar Neopythagorean analysis. So I will consider them as well, at least for the design of their trump cards ("triumphs", "major arcana").

Besides these decks, I will consider Neopythagoreanism in relation to one other deck, namely, the Rider-Waite, done in 1909 with A.E. Waite as its guiding light and Pamela Smith as the actual artist. Waite and Smith had seen an exhibition of the Sola-Busca in London just before she painted her cards, and the influence is noticeable throughout her number cards, which are the first since the early 16th century to use scenes from life, as opposed to having the suit-objects arranged in various ways with flowers and vines filling up the spaces in between (as we see in the Marseille cards). I don't think it is realized how much Smith got from the Sola-Busca. To show how extensive the borrowing was, I will be making comparisons at the end of each section.

Waite borrowed heavily from the Etteilla School's word lists in his interpretations of the cards as given in his Pictorial Key to the Tarot (http://www.sacred-texts.com/tarot/pkt/index.htm). If I am right that both the Etteilla Word-Lists and the Sola-Busca number cards are heavily indebted to Neopythagoreaniam, then what I am doing here can easily be extended to the Rider-Waite (or Waite-Smith, as I prefer to say) as well.

The Golden Dawn. of which Waite had been a member, stimulated the development of other occult systems, e.g. that of C.C. Zain's book accompanying his deck, which is basically the "Marseille" in an Egyptianate style (developed earlier in a French deck designed by Falconier and executed by Wegener). Whether they knew it or not, Zain and countless others have relied on Neopythagorean number symbolism in their analysis of the number cards. Again, what I am doing is showing the historical basis of these expositions, distinguishing it from the intuitive innovations that the various authors make.

How a tradition starting around the time of the Sola-Busca and continuing to the present day could have been maintained without leaving extant documents I do not know.  But in the concluding post in this blog I will give evidence that Etteilla did not himself invent his system, because something very similar, at least for the trumps, existed slightly before him in Northern Italy, in a document found by Franco Pratesi in a library in Bologna.

One thing I will not do is to make the Neopythagoreanism fit a predetermined schema of suits. By that I mean a classification of suits according to some generic quality capable of having many species. The most popular is to assign thinking to Swords, emotion and feeling to Cups, material concerns to Coins (sometimes called Pentacles), and either intuition or desire to Batons. Then each of the number cards and courts gets interpreted in terms of the characteristics of the number as applied to each of the four qualities. Historically, another way division into four was in terms of the four temperaments, i.e. sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic. The Sola-Busca in fact seems to do that in the court cards, about 63% of the time (see section on Courts). I have tried to see whether the same pattern applies to the pips, but without even that degree of correlation. Another schema is the four elements, which then get translated into the four temperaments and connect to thinking, feeling, etc. Historically, however, temperaments were correlated to elements in a variety of ways. Another demonstrably historical way of classifying suits is in terms of classes of society: military for swords, clerics and artists for cups, agriculture for batons (often having green in them) , and merchants and bankers for coins. These might correlate roughly to thinking (strategy as opposed to emotion), feeling (clerics and artists),  desire (agriculture seen in sexual terms), and material concerns (merchants, providing wares). None of this has to do with Pythagoreanism, although these different schemes may have influenced the variations in interpretation from suit to suit. So I have simply stuck to the Pythagorean writings and tried to fit them to the images of the Sola-Busca, without worrying about what general category they might reflect in virtue of their suit.

Now let me say something about Pythagoreanism and Neopythagoreanism.

Fragments of Pythagorean philosophy found in Aristotle and many other ancient writers had exerted an influence on Christian writers since Clement of Alexandria. In the section on the Aces, we will see one example from the School of Chartres. 13th century.

There were two sorts of ancient Pythagoreans. First, those referred to by Plato and Aristotle, of the 6th century, followers of Pythagoras, who according to legend founded a school in Italy in the 6th century. Then there was a revival of Pythagoreanism called Neopythagoreanism, starting in the first century b.c. and continuing through the Neoplatonists Macrobius, Porphyry, and Iamblicus, also popularized in Latin by Martianus Capella and others.

Neopythagorean number theory focused on the numbers one through ten.  Its chief representative was a mathematician named Nichomachus.Some of his mathematical works were preserved, but none of his philosophical ones.He is known through quotes, most extensively in a work called the Theologumena Arithmeticae written in Greek and now lost. But this book became the basis for a later Theologumena Arithmeticae which contains, scholar say, many selections from Nichomachus's work. Still in Greek, it was not translated into any foreign language until the 1988 English version

The Theologumena came to the West from Constantinople in the middle of the 15th century as part of the collection of Bessarion, the Greek prelate turned Roman Catholic Cardinal. After Bessarion's 1469 death, his collection became the nucleus of the Biblioteca Marciana of the Republic of Venice, available for borrowing by qualified citizens. Copies of Bessarion's manuscript found their way to Florence and Naples. The one in Florence reportedly contains marginal notations in the handwriting of the Florentine scholar Poliziano. It may have been he who introduced Neopythagoreanism into the tarot, perhaps with with his friend Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Poliziano and Pico traveled together to the various libraries of Italy in the late 1480s. They both had homoerotic leanings--a tendency quite noticeable in the Sola-Busca deck--and were killed together in 1494 Florence, by arsenic poisoning; whether this was intentional or the result of their taking it as a medicine is unknown..

The Theologumena then reappeared in Paris through being reprinted there in 1547. It wasn't reprinted again until the early 19th century. After that, other editions appeared and a critical edition, still in Greek only, in 1922. It is from the introduction to that edition that I get my information about preceding versions.

During the Renaissance, there were also extant writings in Latin that presented Neopythagorean number philosophy, notably Macrobius's Commentary on the Dream of Scipio and Martinus Capella's Marriage between Mercury and Philology, both continuously available in manuscript and in print starting in the late 15th century. There were also Pythagorean-inspired  passages in Augustine, Origen, and their medieval followers, such as Robert Grosseteste. Eventually, in the 16th century, there was a section on the mystical properties of the first ten numbers in Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy, 1533.

Briefly, Neopythagoreanism is a way of philosophizing in terms of number. With number as its organizing principle, it introduces not only the tenets attributed to Pythagoras but also a philosophical analysis of myths about the gods and medical beliefs about humanity, presented in a developmental way of ten steps repeated as needed. Centered in Egypt and the Near East, it no doubt influenced Kabbalah as well as other religious and philosophical systems of the day. In the Renaissance, there was Pythagorean architecture, Pythagorean fortune-telling, and various published sequences of 10 and its multiples, e.g.: the 50 images of the "Tarot of Mantegna," c. 1470 (not a tarot) and the 20 images of the alchemical Rosarium Philosophorum, first printed 1550 but available in manuscript since c. 1400. And while the tarot had 22 trump cards, called triumphs, they can easily be seen as two sets of 10 flanked with two special cards at the beginning and end. There are also the four sets of 10 number cards, flanked with a variety of court cards, as few as 1 (in the case of a "game of the gods" of c. 1425 Milan) or as many as 16 (in the case of the Cary-Yale Tarot of c. 1445 Milan).

As I have said, I am going to use the Neopythagorean writings on the numbers one to ten to develop an explanation for the illustrations used for the Sola-Busca number cards and, to some extent, for the Marseille trumps in their particular sequence. It seems to me that these interpretations somehow must have got attached even to standard decks of cards in fortune-telling, because the words associated with the Etteilla number cards are susceptible to the same interpretations as the Sola-Busca cards on average 88% of the time. How a tradition could have been maintained without any known documents recording them remains a mystery. I am just reporting what I see.

To relate this material to modern tarot decks, I have extended my investigation to include Waite's account of the number cards in Pictorial Key to the Tarot and the cards painted by Pamela Smith at that time. It not new that Waite's word-lists of Upright and Reversed meanings derive from Etteilla; but since the original proof, by James Revak, no longer appears on the Internet (as of 2017, as opposed to 2012), I have included extensive quotes from Waite along with, among others, Revak's translations of Etteilla.

Since Greek and Roman numbering did not have a zero, except late in the Roman period for astronomical observations, I will have not have a separate Neopythagorean analysis of the Fool card (which if given any number, had that of zero). I begin with the Magician, which was called at the time of the Sola-Busca the Bagatella, and in Etteilla's time the Bateleur, and together with that, an analysis of the Aces. But it will turn out, from investigating the Bateleur, that there is in fact a Neopythagorean analysis of the Fool, as that which was before the Creation. I will explain further at the end of the next section.

Magician and Aces

Among Latin sources, there is Macrobius, who writes (I.VI.7-8, Stahl translation, pp. 100-101:
...one is called monas, that is, Unity, and is both male and female, odd and even, itself not a number, but the source and origin of numbers. [8] This monad, the beginning and ending of all things, yet itself not knowing a beginning or ending, refers to the Supreme God, and separates our understanding of him (the One, without number) from the number of things and powers following; you would not be so rash as to look for it in a sphere lower than God.
Those who could read Greek could read something similar in the Theology of Arithmetic:
..sun-like and ruling,... it resembles God, and especially because it has the power of making things cohere and combine, even when they are composed of many ingredients and are very different from one another. (p. 36)
By itself the Monad is unitary, but it creates all numbers out of itself, and establishes the whole in harmony. As Agrippa says:
It is therefore the one beginning, and end of all things, neither hath it any beginning, or end itself: Nothing is before one, nothing is after one, and beyond it is nothing, and all things which are, desire that one, because all things proceeded from one, and that all things may be the same, it is necessary that they partake of that one: And as all things proceeded of one into many things, so all things endeavour to return to that one, from which they proceeded; it is necessary that they should put off multitude. One therefore is referred to the high God, who seeing he is one, and innumerable, yet creates innumerable things of himself, and contains them within himself.
What it creates first is the archetypal world, a world of pure form, everything permanent and unmoved, as the Theology continues:
because it maintains everything and forbids whatever it is present in to change, it alone of all numbers resembles the Providence which preserves everything, and is most particularly suited both to reflect the principle of God and to be likened to him, in so far as it is closest to him. ...In respect of its knowledge it is sameness and unvarying. Just so, the Monad, which even if differentiated in the different kinds of thing has conceptually encompassed everything within itself, is as it were a creative principle and resembles God, and does not alter from its own principle, and forbids anything else to alter, but is truly unchanging... (pp. 36, 38)
The Monad as unchanging yet the source of multiplicity is like the one who holds on his table the four suit objects, symbols of the four elements out of which he will create the world. For Plato, this created world was a world of illusion; so likewise the Bateleur creates his illusions, shuffling his little round pebbles among cups. Only the illusory world changes; the true world of the archetypes remains the same.
The Bateleur's four suit-objects occur even as early as the Sforza card of the 1450s. And his little cloth covering something on the table compares him to a priest preparing the Eucharist, continuing a tradition said to have been initiated by Christ.

Plato in fact imagined two gods, one to create the archetypes and another to create the world, which he called the Demiurge. But in the Judeo-Christian Genesis, one god creates everything. If in the Gospel of John, we have the Logos creating things in the world; that is still the one God, now Father, now Son.At the same time, in Christianity God is also three, the Trinity. This number might be why there are so many a groups of three on the Noblet card: three coin-like circles, three dice, three cups, a three-pointed plant, three visible legs. The later Marseille cards do not maintain this feature.

It is possible that in its capacity of representing the creator, the card became part of a tradition associating the first seven cards with the Biblical seven days of creation. Etteilla, in his own late 18th century deck, used that theme; possibly it wasn't original with him. In ancient Alexandria, Philo had written the essay On the Creation associating each of the seven numbers, in its Pythagorean associations, with the seven days of creation. Such an approach applied to the tarot might have been seen as a continuation of that theme. If so, the Bateleur might represent the first day of creation, when the light started working on the chaos. The Fool, in this schema, might be the chaos that the Bateleur works on.

Etteilla actually had a card for the Chaos, his number One. In that one, the clouds represent the Chaos, and the bright spot in the middle is for God, before he says, "Let there by light." Below center is a poor reproduction, from the book Wicked Pack of Cards, of the earliest version of Etteilla's card. A c. 1838 version is at right.
Eteilla's card is modeled on the first card of an earlier deck, the Minchiate Francesi, called "Le Chaos." It can be seen at left above. According to Huck on Tarot History Forum this deck is dated to around 1660 (http://forum.tarothistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=782), Huck observes that the dating comes from a publication in which the noted French card historian Thierry Depaulis participated (http://www.millon-associes.com/doc/CP-Carte-a-jouer-051111.pdf). Since Minchiate was an Florentine game, there is probably a connection to Italy.

The idea of Chaos as preceding the creation is in Hesiod's Theogeny, written in the 8th century b.c.e., making it earlier than the earliest Pythagoreans. In Hesiod Chaos was the beginning of everything (http://www.theoi.com/Text/HesiodTheogony.html):
Verily at the first Chaos came to be, but next wide-bosomed Earth, the ever-sure foundations of all the deathless ones... From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night; but of Night were born Aether and Day, whom she conceived and bare from union in love with Erebus....
Erebus is Greek for "darkness". He and Night are the children of Chaos. Other writers had Chaos as in the second generation, after time and necessity but still before the creation of the cosmos (http://www.theoi.com/Protogenos/Khaos.html). So in a sense there is indeed a Neopythagorean card for the Fool: the Chaos, which in Hesiod existed before any gods.

For the interpretation of this and the other cards of Etteilla and his school, there is the list of keywords by him in the 3rd Cahier (which I have translated at http://thirdcahier.blogspot.com/, along with the words that he had put on his original cards of 1789; there were two per card, one if the card is dealt Upright and the other if Reversed.  In addition, there are two sets of word-lists of "synonyms and related meanings". One appeared in c. 1838, under the authorship of one "Julia Orsini". Despite an engraving of a beautiful and somewhat mysterious-looking young lady on the back cover of the book, library cataloguers attribute authorship of the book to the publisher, Simon Blocquel. No "Julia Orsini" at that time and place is known; on the other hand, a famous, or infamous, lady of that name was Rodrigo Borgia's mistress at the time he was Pope Alexander VI, in the years just before and after 1500. 

The other list is in Papus's Tarot Divinatoire of 1909. Papus says in the introduction that they derive from Etteilla and his disciple D'Odoucet. They have been translated into English twice. One is by Beryl Stockman as part of her translation of Papus's book. The other is by James Revak on a website that is no longer active. So it is no longer possible to verify my borrowings from him; the versions of his translations of the word-lists may be the only remnant of Revak's contribution surviving on the Web.. Unfortunately I did not do a good job here of separating his from Stockman's; where there were differences, however, I did sometimes indicate the differences. I did a better job in another blog, about Etteilla's 3rd Cahier; anyone who wants to see the differences between her and Revak can also go there, http://thirdcahier.blogspot.com/.) 

For major differences between the two French lists (which may have been compiled by different people, probably D'Odoucet and de La Salette, although I don't know which is which), I indicate which says what. I will indicate keywords--derived mostly from the c. 1838 and the 3rd Cahier, because Papus is inconsistent in giving them--by putting them in capital letters with the corresponding French word in parenthesis.  

The word-list for Etteilla's card 1 - which is not the same as the list for the Fool, card 78 - is as follows (Papus, who does not have a card called "Etteilla", associates this list with the 6th trump, which he interprets as the questioner making a choice):
UPRIGHT: ETTEILLA. Both lists: God, supreme being, Most High, the Chaos.  Meditation,, Reflection. C. 1838 list only: All-powerful.  the Unitrine,  spirit of God, the male querent. Thought, Contemplation. Papus list only: Central Spirit, Concentration  . REVERSED: THE QUESTIONER [MALE]. C. 1838: Philosopher, Philosophic, Philosophically, Sage, Sagacity, Sagely.  Papus list: The Universe. The Physical man or the male querent.
In contrast, the list for the Fool, Etteilla's card number 78, is "madman, insane, drunkenness, rage, furor, frenzy, ignorance" etc. in the Uprights and "imbicility, imprudence, negligence, emptiness, vain" etc. in the Reverseds.

I would do a comparison with the Etteilla version of the Marseile Bateleur, except that it is one of the later trumps in his system and with keywords and synonyms related only to sickness (including mental sickness) and health. That is one aspect of the Logos, the one by whom "all things were made" on the one hand, and Jesus, the worker of miracles, on the other. Curing illness in ways the authorities do not approve was also the trade of the Renaissance mountebank (from montambanco, mount a bench), who stood on a platform and got people to listen to his sales pitch by means of magic tricks and other entertainment. Medical treatment was also a Pythagorean enterprise, by means of music and other means to achieve the right internal balance. But that process involves more numbers than just the Monad.


In the Marseille tarot, the Aces of Swords and Batons suggest the Judeo-Christian God as presented in Genesis, as opposed to the God of Greek philosophy.
In Batons, we have a hand reaching out from an unseen body, holding a green stick. Green is the color of spring and life. It is God as the source of life. The red at the cuts in the wood suggest the red blood of life.

Such a conception is found, oddly or not, in the word lists that Papus (Le Tarot Divinatoire, 1909) attributed to the Etteilla School. He specifically mentions Etteilla (d. 1789) and D'Odoucet (p. 9 of English translation). There is another list of the Etteilla School contained in the book Art de Tirer Les Cartes by Julia Orsini (probably a pseudonym), published in Paris and Lille c. 1838. There may have been two lists, one by de la Salette and the other by D'Odoucet. I will indicate in brackets when the c. 1838 work deviates from Papus's list.

Batons deals with the origins of things, the creative aspect of God as conceived by the Theology--although to be sure not only there.

ACE OF BATONS UPRIGHT: BIRTH (NAISSANCE), Beginning.—Nativity, Origin, Creation.—Source, Principle, Primacy, New [not in c. 1838, which has Primeur, First].—Extraction, Race, Family, Station [in Life], House, Lineage, Posterity, Circumstance, Cause, Reason, First, First Fruits. REVERSED. 3rd Cahier, "DISTRUST THE FIRST VICTORY." On the 1789 card and c. 1838: FALL (CHUTE). Papus: SEEMING VICTORY, FALL, Cascade, Decadence, Decline, Wasting Away, Weakening, Dissipation, Collapse, Bankruptcy, Ruin, Destruction, Demolition, Damage, Devastation.—Mistake, Error, Misunderstanding, Despondency, Exhaustion, Discouragement.—Perdition, Abyss, Chasm, Precipice.—Perish, Descend [c. 1838 has Tomber, i.e. Fall], Wane, Demean Yourself.—Depths 
The Reverseds are obviously just the opposite of the Uprights. In the c. 1838, the lists are reversed: "Chute" starts the uprights and "Naissance" starts the Reversals.

To show the influence of these lists, one has only to compare them with Waite's lists in the influential Pictorial Key to the Tarot. For this card he has (http://www.sacred-texts.com/tarot/pkt/pktwaac.htm):
Divinatory Meanings: Creation, invention, enterprise, the powers which result in these; principle, beginning, source; birth, family, origin, and in a sense the virility which is behind them; the starting point of enterprises; according to another account, money, fortune, inheritance. Reversed: Fall, decadence, ruin, perdition, to perish also a certain clouded joy.
It is obvious that Waite took his "divinatory meanings" mostly from the Etteilla school. 

In the Upright list for Swords, we can see another facet of the Judeo-Christian God:
ACE OF SWORDS, UPRIGHT: 3rd Cahier: "CRAZY LOVE" [amour folle]. Lists: EXTREME (Extreme), Big, Excessive.—Extravagant, Fierce [not in c. 1838, which has Furious], Carried Away.—Exceedingly, Passionately, Inordinately.—Vehemence, Animosity, Momentum, Excessiveness, Wrath [Colere, i.e. Anger], Fury, Rage.—Extremity, Bounds, Border, Limits.—Last [c. 1838 only], Last Breath, Utmost Extremity. [c. 1838 only: Brouillerie, i.e. Tiff.]. REVERSED: PREGNANCY (GROSSESSE), Beginning, Seed, Sperm, Matter, Impregnating, Fathering, Conception, Fructification Labor, Childbirth.—Fertilization, Production, Composition, Growing, Expansion, Augmentation, Multiplicity, Multiplication].
The Upright epithets could perhaps fit the God of the Old Testament at his most angry and destructive, one who reappears in the Book of Revelation. It is also the experience of being overwhelmed, indeed "carried away", as the word-list states. The Reverseds are simply a different aspect of the Upright, that of the fertilizing power of the divinity, which will get expressed further in the numbers to come.

Again we can see where Waite (http://www.sacred-texts.com/tarot/pkt/pktswac.htm) got his meanings:
Divinatory Meanings: Triumph, the excessive degree in everything, conquest, triumph of force. It is a card of great force, in love as well as in hatred. The crown may carry a much higher significance than comes usually within the sphere of fortune-telling. Reversed: The same, but the results are disastrous; another account says--conception, childbirth, augmentation, multiplicity.
Etteilla and his school also have lists for Coins and Cups. Here is the one for Coins:
ACE OF COINS, UPRIGHT: PERFECT CONTENTMENT (PARFAIT CONTENTEMENT), Felicity, Happiness, Rapture, Enchantment, Ecstasy, Marvel, Complete Satisfaction, Complete Joy, Inexpressible Pleasure, Color Red, Perfect Medicine, Solar Medicine, Pure, Accomplishment [last 2 not in c. 1838, which has "Prayer Accomplished"]. REVERSED: PURSE (OR GRANT, BOURSE) OF MONEY (D'ARGENT), Sum, Capital, Principal.—Treasure, Wealth, Opulence.—Exceptional, Dear, Precious, Inestimable.
The Upright list suggests both the sun and life spent dwelling in something like divine rapture, the result of being pierced by a divine force.

Here is Waite:
Divinatory Meanings: Perfect contentment, felicity, ecstasy; also speedy intelligence; gold. Reversed: The evil side of wealth, bad intelligence; also great riches. In any case it shews prosperity, comfortable material conditions, but whether these are of advantage to the possessor will depend on whether the card is reversed or not.
Waite's last thought, that whether material prosperity is of advantage to the possessor depends on whether the card is reversed or not is rather paradoxical. The uprights are not about material prosperity at all, which only appears in the Reverseds. Except for the part about "evil", the meanings, both Upright and Reversed, are much the same the Etteilla school's.

The coin on the Marseille Ace of Coins resembles the sun. And the vines emerging from it remind us that living things need its light and warmth. Etteilla's "Reversed" list pertains more to the specific suit, that of money. In Cups, the divine seems referenced mainly in the version reported by Papus (the non-c. 1838), consistent with what the Theology and other Pythagorean texts give to the Monad. However the c.1838 leaves those words out, drawing from some other traditional meaning of the card:
ACE OF CUPS, UPRIGHT: TABLE (TABLE), Meal [not in c.1838], Feast, Gala, Treat [Regal in c. 1838], Nourishment, Food [not in c.1838], Nutrition.—Guests [c. 1838 has Convivial], Service [not in c. 1838].—Invitation, Prayer, Petition, Convocation [last 3 not in c. 1838].—Host, Hotel, Hotel Trade, Inn, Cabaret, Bistro, Tavern [last 3 c. 1838 only], Abundance, Fertility, Production, Robustness, Stability, Steadiness, Constancy, Perseverance, Continuation, Permanency, Duration, Regularity, Persistence, Confidence, Courage. Picture. Painting, Image, Hieroglyph, Description [last 17, after "Abundance," not in c. 1838]. Tablets, Note-case [last 2 not in c. 1838, which has "Shelf"], Portfolio, Writing-Desk, Study [for last 2, c. 1838 has Desk and Secretary], Table of Nature, Bronze Table, Marble Table, Law, Catalog, Table of Contents [not in c. 1838], Garden Table, Sound Table, Altar..REVERSED. CHANGE (CHANGEMENT), Mutation, Permutation, Transmutation, Alteration, Vicissitude, Varieties, Variation, Inconstancy, Frivolity, Slightness, Casualness or Thoughtlessness, .—Barter, Exchange, Purchase, Sale, Deal, Treaty, Convention—Metamorphosis, Diversity, Versatility, Reversal, Disruption, Upheaval, Revolution, Reversion.—Version, Translation, Interpretation.
"Table" in French has as one of its meanings "food" but in the sense of hospitality, as in "He serves a fine table". The Reverseds, even in the case of the c. 1838, are in general the opposites of the non-c.1838 Uprights: alteration, transmutation, variation, inconstancy, etc. The c. 1838 seems to be aware of that omission in its explication of the card, where it says (p. 115)
Le sens primitif de ce tarot etait loi qu'on a truiduit par table ou table de la loi...
(The first meaning of this card was law, which has been translated by table or table of the law...)
The "table of the law," of course, is the law of God given to Moses in the form of the tablets of the law. a law written in stone, as if to emphasize its permanence. But this list mixes at least three ideas. Words like "Abundance," "Fertility," Production," might be more appropriate in Batons, as pertaining to life. "Courage" seems to fit Swords.  Moreover, the keyword "Table" is not, as is clear from the first group of "synonyms", anything divine. The cup is simply a drinking cup in a regal feast, a divine feast only in hyperbole. 

The words in the list added by Papus's source, do, however, suggests God. It would seem to be the water of the baptismal font, spilling over in three directions in the "Marseille" version (though not Etteilla's): it is the water that grants eternal life  Its threeness of course suggests the Trinity.

Here is Waite:
Divinatory Meanings: House of the true heart, joy, content, abode, nourishment, abundance, fertility; Holy Table, felicity hereof. Reversed: House of the false heart, mutation, instability, revolution.
Again, the list  reflects much of what is in the Etteilla lists, but Waite has simplified it. What is a "Holy Table"? If the source of felicity, it is most likely that of the Eucharist. That is also suggested by the images on his version of the card, which includes a communion wafer above the cup, and the dove of the Holy Spirit above that. (The card is reproduced at the bottom of this page.) It is odd that there are four streams coming from Waite's cup, instead of the three on the "Marseille" version. It is perhaps a precursor of Jung's doctrine that the godhead is quaternary, including the Ascended Virgin--or Lucifer, Christ's evil twin.But there are other foursomes in the deck: four suits, four courts per suit.

In the Renaissance, God was only three. Nicholas of Cusa claimed to find that doctrine originally in Pythagoras (http://my.pclink.com/~allchin/1814/retrial/cusa2.pdf, p. 13)
But Pythagoras, a very famous man of undeniable authority in his own time, added that this Oneness is trine.
He explains:
But since oneness is eternal, equality eternal, and union also eternal, oneness, equality, and union are one. And this is that trine Oneness which Pythagoras, the first philosopher of all and the glory of Italy and of Greece, affirmed to be worthy of worship.
Indeed there is something like this account in an ancient source about Pythagoras that was available in the Renaissance. Porphyry in his "Life of Pythagoras," section 49 (from The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library, p. 133, in Google Books) said:
The Number One denoted to them the reason of Unity, Identity, Equality, the purpose of friendship. sympathy, and the conservation of the universe, which results in persistence in Sameness.
This says nothing about Unity, Identity, and Equality being one, or worthy of worship. For that we  Cusa had another source, which I will discuss a bit later in this section. We will also see Cusa's explanation later in his book of how it is that oneness, equality, and union are one

The Marseille motifs are quite early, as we can see from the images in this 16th century Italian proofsheet now in the Budapest Museum of Art. The rays emanating from the unseen figure holding the sword and baton is particularly suggestive of the deity. In Cups, the chalice is held by a hand; and there seems to be a dove on top.

I will say more about the Marseille Aces in relation to Neopythagoreanism in a later section, on Neopythagreanism in the Marseille pips. Here I have been mainly concerned to bring out their relationship to the Etteilla School word lists.


The SB Aces of Batons and Swords each have two figures, as opposed to Coins and Cups, which have three (I will get to them later). That immediately raises the question, how can the Monad be expressed by two figures, much less three? Let us first look at the cards,

In Batons, we have two identical cherubs facing each other and working together to hold up a club much bigger than they are. (my source for these images is (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Sola-Busca_gallery.) In Swords, we have two different-looking figures holding up one sword, looking away from each other. Moreover, the figure on our right is decidedly effeminate. If one didn't look closely, one would think it was a woman with a broad feathered hat. As it is, an arm and attached hand appearing out of nowhere (we can see the fingers) obscures the view.  The figure's ample blouse suggests breasts underneath. Even looking closely, I am not sure what the feather-like thing on top is. Besides a feather, it could be an artificial cobra, in the manner of Egyptian headdresses. One might be tempted to wonder if the two letters "M" and "S" stood for two families united in marriage. More likely they are the initials of the person for whom the deck was done (the diarist Marino Sanuto has been suggested, about which more when I get to the Twos.
It seems to me that Batons, in one possible interpretation, represents the union of sames, and Swords the union of differents. In Plato's Timaeus (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timaeus_(dialogue)), "Same" and "different" are two out of three basic categories there (after the four elements); the third is "being."

For the Theology, harmony is characterized as a combination of "same" and "different." The components may all be musical tones (or whatever is in harmony); but in music, harmony can be analyzed down to units in specific proportions, e.g. 2:1 (the octave), 3:2 (the fifth) 4:3 (the fourth), etc. (see "Interval" entry at Wikipedia). In these two Aces, we see an emphasis on "same" in Batons and "different" in Swords; yet in each the result is a unified design. For even though the cherubs of Batons are essentially "the same," yet they accidentally different, in that one is on the right facing left, and the other on the left facing right. And although the two figures in Swords are essentially different, yet they also have attributes in common, in that both are human figures on either side of a sword, facing away from the blade. Thus each Ace is in microcosm a philosophical image of one aspect of God, as that in which all opposites and sames are combined harmoniously.

There is another way in which the Ace of Swords reflects a specific "unity of opposites" and humans as a microcosm of God: the Theology says that the Monad is "both male and female at once" (p. 38), because it produces everything out of itself with no recourse to anything else. It is called "androgyne." Thus we have what I see as the male and female appearances of the two figures on the Ace of Swords. In the 3rd Cahier, the descriptor "crazy love" would probably be understood as of a person for someone of the opposite gender.

And there is yet another interpretation of both aces, namely, as the second and third persons of the Trinity. That is how three can illustrate the One. Nicholas of Cusa, who thought of himself as applying Neopythagoreanism to prove the truths of Christianity, said, in his On Learned Ignorance:
But since oneness is eternal, equality eternal, and union also eternal, oneness, equality, and union are one. And this is that trine Oneness which Pythagoras, the first philosopher of all and the glory of Italy and of Greece, affirmed to be worthy of worship.
All that is missing is the notion that the second and third persons "proceed" from the first. That the One "generates" Equality is the subject of Cusa's Chapter 8. That Union "proceeds" from Unity and Equality is the subject of his Chapter 9.

That this does proceed from Neopythagoreanism, is evidenced by the Theology of Arithmetic. "Equality" is declared a property of the Dyad in the Theology of Arithmetic. "Union"--the combination the Monad and the Dyad--is a property of the Triad, which Cusa appropriates for the third person of the Trinity. What Cusa is doing is attempting to show that since all three, Unity, Equality, and Union are are eternal, are all descriptive of the one God, thus a proof of the Trinity derived from Pythagoras.

According to Cusa's translator, footnote 39,  Cusa's source was.John of Salisbury's De Septem Septenis VII (PL 199.961C). This text, as far as I can determine, is only available in Latin. I located it on-line using my local library's "First Search" search engine (from WorldCat). It is in volume 5 of Joannis Saresberiensis Opera Omnia, p. 233.
Deus est unitas: ab unitate gignitur unitatis aequalite procedit. Hinc igitur Augustinus: Omne recte intuenti perspicuum est; quare a sanctae scripturae docturibus patri assignatur unitas, Filius aequalitas, Spiritui Sancto connexio; et licet ab unitate gignatur aequalitas, ab utroque connexio procedat: unum tamen et idem sunt. Haec est illa trium unitas: quam solam adorandam esse docuit Pythagoras. ....
Marco, on Tarot History Forum (http://forum.tarothistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=530&p=9383), provided a translation:
God is unity: generated by unity he proceeds from the equality of the unity. Therefore Augustine: everything is clear to he who examines in the right way; for this reason those who have studied the holy scripture attribute unity to the father, equality to the Son, union to the Holy Spirit; it follows that equality is generated from unity, and that union proceeds from both [unity and equality]: yet they are one and the same. This is the unity of the three: which Pythagoras taught to be the only thing [deserving] to be adored.
We can see here that Cusa has taken his text directly from Salisbury.

In this case, I can see an alternative interpretation of the Ace of Swords. That is, the two figures on each side of the sword, different in appearance but doing the same thing on the same level, might represent "the Equal," and so the second person of the Trinity, the one who came not to bring peace, but the sword.

The two identical putti on the Ace of Batons, however, are still "the Same." In Chapter Nine (http://my.pclink.com/~allchin/1814/retrial/cusa2.pdf, p. 15), Cusa goes on to identify "union" with "the same."
And although equality of oneness is begotten from oneness and although union proceeds from both [of these], nevertheless oneness, equality of oneness, and the union proceeding from both are one and the same thing--as if we were to speak of [one and] the same thing as this, it, the same. The fact of our saying "it" is related to a first thing; but our saying "the same" unites and conjoins the related thing to the first thing. Assume, then, that from the pronoun "it" there were formed the word "itness," so that we could speak of oneness, itness, and sameness: itness would bear a relation to oneness, but sameness would designate the union of itness and oneness.[In this case, the names "Oneness," "Itness," and "Sameness"] would nearly enough befit the Trinity.
With "the Same" as the third person of the Trinity, the raising of the baton over the empty cuirass and helmet then signify the overcoming of the strife brought by Christ, in the peace of the Holy Spirit. The SB Ace of Batons in that way is similar to the "Venus Victrix" of Zoppo's Parchment Book, done somewhat earlier, probably in Venice, the vanquishing of Mars by Venus, of war by love, as in the image on the right below, with the cuirass reduced to a prop or plaything (for a fuller discussion, see my post at viewtopic.php?f=12&t=530&p=8743&hilit=Venus+Zoppo#p8743),
Admittedly this interpretation of the Ace of Swords, as "Equality" as well as "Difference," and the Ace of Batons as "Union" as wel as "Sameness"  is rather obscure. But it might have been just the thing, in a noble Venetian drawing room, to add the proper elevated tone to what might have otherwise looked like a rather plebian game of cards. 


The SB Ace of Cups and Coins, I think, also relate to the Monad as God. Here Christianity again shows its influence, as it does in the "Etteilla" Swords. This time both cards depict the Christian Trinity as a whole, as opposed to the philosophical God of the Timaeus, or the second and third persons of the trinity, in SB Swords and Batons.

Cups (below) has three cherubs on a cup: three on one, so to speak. Why else three, except to signify the Trinity? They correlate well to the three streams we see coming out of the cup on the Marseille Ace of Cups, already discussed. Admittedly, using cherubs to represent the Trinity is a bit perverse or comical; but many of the SB images are that way. In Coins, as we shall see, cherubs more clearly represent the Trinity.

There is also the motto "Trahor Fatis" painted on the cup. I will talk about that motto in relation to the Ace of Coins, where it also appears. In Cups, it has no particular function that I can see, and the motto was not part of the original engravings; perhaps it is a motto favored by the patron who commissioned the painted deck (as Zucker, Illustrated Bartsch vol. 24 part 3, p. 81, suggests).
So now let us look at the three cherubs' counterparts in Coins. Tarotpedia (http://www.tarotpedia.com./wiki/Ace_of_Coins_Sola-Busca) points out that the cherub on the left, holding his head in its hand, is in a characteristic pose signifying melancholy (for example in Durer's engraving with that title). and thus also the alchemical stage of the nigredo, Latin for blackening. Above this cherub is a banner, not part of the engraving but painted later; it reads, "Trahor Fatis"-- "I am drawn by Fate." Tarotpedia goes on to say that there is a comet above this cherub, traditionally a bad omen. I don't think we can conclude that it is a comet, because there is no tail, here or on the other cards where this motto and the star-like image appears (Postumo, Trump 2; Catone, trump 13). Zucker (pp. 66, 107) says it is simply a star. The motto might just mean that the cherub is ruled by Fate, whether good or ill, as opposed to its own will. There might be a reference to the Theology's Atropos, the Fate who chooses the time and manner of death.

It seems to me that this cherub also represents the Father of the Trinity, in particular, the Jehovah of the Old Testament. Jehovah was identified with Saturn, the god associated with lead, blackness, and melancholy. Moreover, after Adam and Eve's sin, all humanity was condemned by God to suffer death without a return to Paradise; "Sheol" was the soul's destination, a dismal place like the Hades of the Greeks (although there was also the "bosom of Abraham" as temporary quarters for the righteous; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheol); such is the lot of those bound by Fate, until the advent of Jesus.

The center cherub triumphantly carries a coin that is bigger than it is. Around the coin is painted the motto,"Servir. Chi persevera infin otiene"--"To serve. If you persist you obtain [your goal] in the end." Tarotpedia interprets the ox skull as connoting hard, persistent work, thus relating to the motto. The coin is probably golden, and hence signifies the rubedo in alchemy.

It seems to me that this cherub also signifies the Son of the Trinity. It is because of the crucifixion that humanity can now, through faith and good works, rise above Fate and return to Paradise. That is the main goal which persistence and hard work attain. Even in alchemy, the rubedo was associated with the Son. For example George Ripley's Cantilena ends with the elevation of the "ruddy son" and his mother (Fabricius, Alchemy, p. 134f, also Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, p. 283). An English cleric, Ripley was in Italy 1457-1477, according to Wikipedia.

Tarotpedia says that the cherub on the right probably represents the albedo in alchemy, which occurs between the nigredo at he beginning and the rubedo at the end. Since there is white space above this cherub and the other two cherubs represent the two other major stages of the alchemical work, this hypothesis is reasonable.

It seems to me that this cherub also represents the Holy Spirit. For one thing, it was conventionally represented by a dove, which is white. For another, Jesus was conventionally shown praying when he received the Holy Spirit at his baptism, just as the cherub is on the card.

Another example that supports my hypothesis is the early-15th century "Ripley Scrowle." Tarotpedia applies one version of the particular image I have in mind to the Three of Swords (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Three_of ... Sola-Busca). I think it fits here as well. The image on Tarotpedia is in color (or was, as it seems now, when I look, to have disappeared entirely), and it says XVII century. I have not so far confirmed that dating; their reference, to Adam MacLean's site (http://www.levity.com/alchemy/rscroll.html) is to an image that appears there in black and white and undated. A similar one in black and white is from 1715 (http://hdelboy.club.fr/gravures.html; search "Ripley Scrowle," and the image is "IV" in the series). There is also a 15th century image (http://hdelboy.club.fr/gravures.html, clicking on "IV" of the "Erskine Roll"), which is more primitive, shown in green and white below, to the left of the other one. What interests me is not the three circles at the bottom, which Tarotpedia focuses on for the Threes, but the three at the top; I have reproduced these details in the second pair of images below. In the 15th century image, two of the circles are white, one black. By 1715 the two white ones are further differentiated (as they are on MacLean's image); I suspect that the meaning was the same in the 15th century: what we see is a black circle for the Father, a white one for the Holy Spirit, and a third circle (white in the version below, but light-colored on levity.com) with a dot in it, the symbol of the sun, for the Son.


And here is a section of Ripley's poem accompanying the illustration:
Many a name he hath full sure
And all is but one Nature
Thou must part him in three
And then knit him as the Trinity
And make them all but one
Lo here is the Philosophers Stone.
I think that Coins provides us with the most specific correspondence between the "Etteilla" list and the corresponding SB card. Namely, the large coin held by the center cherub, the one representing Jesus, connotes the "sunny" (i.e. happy) attributes of the person whose life, after death and some of the time on earth, is spent with Jesus. Moreover, the "Etteilla" word "redness" might correspond to rubedo stage of alchemy; and it certainly corresponds to Jesus as the rising sun of the second coming.



It is well known that Waite and Smith borrowed ideas both from "Etteilla" and from the Sola-Busca. How Waite (1910) borrowed from the "Etteilla" word-lists (Papus, La Tarot Divinatoire 1909) was shown on Revak's site, when it was active, http://www.villarevak.org/td/td_1.htm. (Since it isn't, I have simply pasted the lists from the online "Pictorial Key to the Tarot".) In the case of the Aces, Waite borrows mostly from the Marseille style, inasmuch as all of the Waite-Smith Aces have a hand coming out of a cloud--the hand of God, I assume. Only in the Ace of Cups do I see a possible SB influence, in that all three persons of the Trinity are represented: the hand of the Father, the cup and Omega of the Son, and the dove of the Holy Spirit. This card is also closely related to another historical depiction of the Ace of Cups viewable in London, namely, the "Goldschmidt" (here) and "Guildhall" versions (here). But the dove and wafer are Waite's additions.

To sum up the Aces I want to try to quantify the extent to which which Etteilla's word-lists are related to the Sola-Busca designs and Waite's word-lists, the Sola-Busca designs are related to Smith's designs for Waite, and how well all three relate to Pythagorean concepts. Then at the end I can simply add up the percentages to get an idea of how much these relationships hold for the whole.

For the Aces, then,  Smith borrows from the SB only one detail--the Trinity for cups, so about 12% of the total (half of one, i.e. 1/8). However I don't think the Aces should count in the overall comparison, because Waite clearly wanted them not to follow the complex and obscure designs of the Sola-Busca.

Between Etteilla's word-lists and the Sola-Busca designs: in so far as there are putti, i.e. infants, on the Ace of Batons, there is some relationship to birth, maybe 25%. In so far as Swords seem to suggest male and female, there is some relationship to the word-list's "crazy love" and "pregnancy", again maybe 25%. In Coins, Etteilla's "joy" seems to connect with the standing putto but not the other two, so maybe 26%. In Cups I really see no relationship between the three putti on a giant cup and the Etteilla lists.

So in all we are talking about only an 19% relationship between Etteilla and the SB. Etteilla, like Waite, seems to have thought of the Aces in terms of God, i.e. the Marseille images. In that regard, both Etteilla and Waite relate well to the Pythagorean characterization of the Monad, 100% of the time, I would say. So, if extended to include the Monad as triple, do the Sola-Busca designs.

Popess and Twos

The Popess, in the majority of tarot orderings, had the number 2, thus corresponding  to the Pythagorean Dyad. I again start with Macrobius, who, however, in this treatise focused mainly on astronomy is none too clear (On the Dream of Scipio, I.VI.18, Stahl translation p. 103):
...two, the dyad, because it is first after the monad, is the first number. It first departed from that single Omnipotence into the line of a perceptible body, and therefore refers to the errant spheres of the planets and the sun and moon...
What is operative here is the dyad's "errant" and embodied nature. In the Neopythagorean Theology of Arithmetic, 2 is the first number that separates off from the Monad, an act of daring audacity (p. 42):
The dyad gets its name from passing through or asunder (translator’s explanation: Duas [dyad] is here linked with dia [through or asunder]), for the dyad is the first to have separated itself from the monad, whence also it is called ‘daring.’ For when the monad manifests unification, the dyad steals in and manifests separation.
It is like Eve's act of disobedience in the Garden, a declaration of independence. The Monad is androgynous, containing the Dyad within it in essence, and the Dyad is female. Macrobius says that even numbers are all Mothers, and odd numbers Fathers. 

Another branch of Neopythagoreanism, that reflected in Martianus Capella, adds another dimension to the dyad, that of being the wife and sister of the Monad (Stahl and Johnson translation, p. 277):
Because between it [the dyad] and the monad the first union and partnership occurs, it is called Juno or Wife or Sister of the monad.
Martianus in the paragraph before had identified the monad as Jupiter, "because it is head and father of the gods" (Ibid.).  There is an Old Testament parallel here, in the "Wisdom" books, where Sophia is said to be "with God from the beginning". Such a parallel would not have been lost on Renaissance thinking (even if I cannot find it explicitly spelled out); the Dyad/Popess would be assimilated to Wisdom or Sapientia, who was illustrated, like the Popess, with cross-staff and book, as well as a crown (albeit not multi-leveled), in illuminated manuscripts of the time (e.g. that at left. from the 13th century Bibia Magdalena, f. 109, in the Laurentian Library of Florence).

The Theology gives a different interpretation of the Dyad. In the dichotomy between Matter and Form, the Dyad represents Matter. The Theology says (p. 44f):
It is also called ‘deficiency and excess’ and ‘matter’ (for which, in fact another term is the ‘indefinite dyad’) because it is in itself devoid of shape and form and any limitation, but is capable of being limited and made definite by reason and skill.
Having separated off, it nonetheless longs for a return to the Monad (p. 46).
Apart from recklessness itself, they think that, because it is the very first to have endured separation, it deserves to be called ‘anguish,’ ‘endurance’ and ‘hardship.’ (Translator’s explanation: Duas is here linked with due [anguish].)...The dyad, they say, is also called ‘Erato’; for having attracted through love the advance of the monad as form, it generates the rest of the results, starting with the triad and tetrad. (Translator’s explanation: Erato is one of the Muses; her name is cognate with the Greek for ‘love.’)
It will receive the Monad again, in a new unity or synthesis, as form imprinted on matter. It is like the Virgin Mary in Christianity, who yearns for the Messiah, and while pointing to the text in Isaiah is told that God is imprinting his nature into her womb. The Dodal Popess card was entitled "Pances," or "Belly," rather than "Popess," I think precisely to emphasize the womblike nature of the Dyad, embodied by the Virgin.

In Genesis, the second day of the week is one of separation, too: of the upper waters from the lower waters, and of the firmament from what is below the firmament. There it is a process that began on the first day with the separation of light from darkness, and will continue on the third day, in separating the sea from dry land.
Etteilla identified the Popess with his 8th card, that of the "female querent".  He puts circles around her (8 of them). That would signify her entrapment by the planetary and zodiacal powers, as Adam and Eve were by the serpent in Eden and humanity, in the first tractate of the Corpus Hermeticum, is by physis, matter, in thrall to the seven planets and the sphere of the fixed stars.  More positively, she is the solitary one, as indicated by the word-list when the card comes in the normal Upright position:

ETTEILLA. Papus only: The Woman Who Most Interests the Querent, if Male, and the female Querent herself. Both: Nature, Rest, Peace and Quiet, Retreat, A Withdrawn Life, A Solitary Life, Retirement Religious life, Orphic life. Repose of Old Age. Temple of Ardor, Silence. Papus only: Tenacity. 1838 only:Taciternity, Life of a hermit [vie d’hermite],  REVERSED.  FEMALE QUERENT [LA QUESTIONNANTE].  Imitation, Garden of Eden, Effervescence, Bubbling, Fermentation, Ferment, Leaven, Acidity.
As I say, it is only the upright keywords that apply to the Popess, as the embodiment of the solitary religious woman, on the model of the Virgin Mary after Jesus's death, Mary Magdalene or their mythological predecessors, such as Isis in search of Osiris. The Reverseds apply to the female Querent., as the Dyad in a less elevated state, that of Eve after eating from the Tree of Knowledge, dominated by material concerns that keep her in ferment yet longing to return to Eden.

Etteilla's cards and meanings seem derivative from the "Marseille" cards and the symbolisc meaning attached to them by some tradition antedating him, reflecting the Roman numeral II on the card. That place in the order in turn is derivative from practice in Italy, where in at least some places the Popess had that same place in the order. But unlike the Fool, which was unnumbered or had the Arabic number 0 (for which there is no Roman equivalent), the Popess in one region where tarot cards were produced, namely Ferrara and Venice, was given the number 4, in other words, the number that other regions gave the Emperor. As for what Ferrara did give for the number 2, both the Empress and the Emperor are found. I cannot see how to interpret the Popess as reflective of the Pythagorean Tetrad, or the Emperor or Empress as reflective of the Dyad. 

This is not the only variation in number assignment in the early orders as given in written lists and as written on the cards. Starting immediately after the Pope, which is always the fifth card, there is a large variability of number assignments, in Florence and Bologna as well as Ferrara and Venice. Perhaps a few meaningful Pythagorean interpretations of these different assignments can be made, but by no means all. It seems to me that it may have been precisely the amenability of the Lombard order to a Pythagorean account of the meanings of the figures that, among other things, made that order appealing in France. The Lombard order, as reported by Alciato in 1544 and Susio a bit earlier or later, had the Hermit 11th and Strength 9th. By the time of Catelin Geoffroy's tarot of 1558 Lyon, it was the other way around. I will discuss what difference that change makes, if any, when I get to those cards.

The Twos 

Looking at the Marseille-style Twos, nothing much stands out. We could perhaps get a sense of a bond between two people in Coins, and of something germinating between them in the rest. That is not much. We could project a lot of things onto these cards.

However it seems to me that the interpretations articulated by the Etteilla School do fit the Neopythagoreanism of the Theology of Arithmetic and other Neopythagorean accounts. They in turn, as I hope to show immediately after, fit the Sola-Busca pictorial versions of the cards, sometimes better than Waite's own meanings (taken from the Etteilla school) fit Pamela Smith's designs.

I will start with the word-list for Batons, as translated on the James Revak website.
Again bear in mind that I am drawing on two lists:
2 OF BATONS: SORROW (CHAGRIN), sadness, Melancholy, Affliction, Displeasure, Distress, Grief, Mortification, Ill Humor, Quarrel, Affliction, Gloomy Ideas.--Bitterness, Anger, Spite [last 3 not in c. 1838, which has Vapeurs, i.e. Steamed]. REVERSED: SURPRISE (SURPRISE), Enchantment [not in c. 1838], Deceit, Trickery, Cheating [last 3 c. 1838 only: Fourberie, Tromperie, Tricherie], Shock [not in c. 1838, which has Mistake], Trouble, Unforeseen Event, Unexpected Occurrence [last 2 not in c. 1838], Fright [c. 1838 only, Effroi], Emotion, Fear, Dread, Terror.--Dismay, Consternation [c, 1838 only], Astonishment, Domination [c. 1838 has Admiration], Ravishing [ravissement, i.e. Rapture], Alarms.---Wonder, Phenomenon, Miracle.
 Many of the Uprights fit the Dyad as expressed in The Theology (p. 46):
Apart from recklessness itself, they think that, because it is the very first to have endured separation, it deserves to be called ‘anguish,’ ‘endurance’ and ‘hardship.’ (Translator’s explanation: Duas is here linked with due [anguish].)

According to the Theology, the Dyad separates from the One in an act of bold audacity. It is like Eve in the Garden of Eden, recklessly disobeying God's instruction not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. The result is an experience of anguish and hardship, on its own away from the womb-like security of the Monad.

For the contemporary relevance of this material, one might look at Waite's "divinatory meanings" for the same card: for the uprights, "physical suffering, disease, chagrin, sadness, mortification" and "Surprise, wonder, enchantment, emotion, trouble, fear" in the reverseds. These are almost direct quotes from the Etteilla school. The only thing Waite adds is, I assume from another tradition, "riches, fortune, magnificence," in the uprights, which fits the globe his man holds in his hand (at left), signifying that riches and conquests can be, for someone drawing this card, an empty satisfaction.

 The usual Italian twos, of the same style as the "Marseille", of course do not illustrate these meanings. But I seem to see them in the Sola-Busca, with its nude, corpulent man looking off into the distance. His batons form an X, a typical formation of batons in the Twos; but they also act as a barrier to keep him from going further. He has separated from the One, the ideal, and feels the anguish of that separation, from which he cannot by his own efforts return. His corpulence reflects the Neopythagorean conception of the Two as matter separated off from form.

Some have suggested a likeness between this man and Cosimo Il Vecchio di Medici. If so, it might depict him in exile, which he spent in Padua and Venice.

The same fit between SB, the Etteilla School, and the Theology works for Cups. In the SB we see a love-possessed putto playing the violin to his beloved. And here is the Etteilla School's word list:

2 OF CUPS: LOVE (AMOUR), Passion, Inclination, Sympathy, Appeal., Proclivity, Friendship, Kindness, Affection, Attachment, Liking, Union, Gallantry, Attraction, Affinity. REVERSED: DESIRE (DESIR), Want, Wish, Will, Craving, Covetousness, Cupidity, Concupiscence, Jealousy, Passion, Illusion, Longing [not in c. 1838], Appetite.
 These are simply the positive and negative aspects of Desire, in particular the desire of the soul for reunion with its God. Waite has for this card, "Love, passion, friendship, affinity, union, concord, sympathy, the interrelation of the sexes," but without any Reverseds.

In terms of the Theology, the Dyad wishes to attract the Monad to itself. The Theology says (p. 46):
The dyad, they say, is also called ‘Erato’; for having attracted through love the advance of the monad as form, it generates the rest of the results, starting with the triad and tetrad. (Translator’s explanation: Erato is one of the Muses; her name is cognate with the Greek for ‘love.’)
The SB Cups' putto playing a violin while looking upwards is reminiscent of the courting lover serenading his beloved below her window. Their eventual union will result in enformed matter, as expressed in the Triad onward.

Here is the Etteilla School's word-list in Swords. 
2 OF SWORDS: FRIENDSHIP (AMITIE), Attachment, Tenderness, Kindness, connection, Relationship, Similarity [not in c. 1838, which has Identite, Identity], Intimacy, Concord, Association [not in c. 1838, which has Correspondence], Interest, Conformity, Sympathy, Affinity, Attraction. REVERSED: 3rd Cahier: Unhelpful or False Friends, or Relatives of Little Help. Lists: FALSE (FAUX), Falsehood, Lying, Imposture, Duplicity, Bad Faith, Roguery, Trickery, Treachery, Deception, Superficial, Superficiality, Surface [last 3 not in c. 1838].

Compare here Waite on this card: "courage, friendship, concord in a state of arms; another reading gives tenderness, affection, intimacy", and in the Reverseds, "Imposture, falsehood, duplicity, disloyalty". The "another reading" is of course Etteilla's, who also supplies the Reverseds. Waite's addition has to do with his sense that Swords has to do with military virtues (and vices). Unaccountably for all the meanings shared with Etteilla, the picture on the card is a lone woman with two swords.

Etteilla's list, on the other hand, seems to relate more to the Neopythagoreans' relationship between the Monad and the Dyad. The Reverseds perhaps relates to God's feeling of betrayal after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.  In the Uprights, it is a feeling of affection and support. The separation of the Dyad from the Monad is a natural one, even if done with a certain amount of anguish. trepidation. The Etteilla word-list represents the expression of these feelings on the human level. Again the Sola-Busca card is compatible and in fact adds very human imagery expressive of such feelings. The swords each is holding suggest a military context, with the younger one looking to

 the older for advice and support, perhaps even not to be left on his own. This advice could either be well-intended or duplicitous--like that of the serpent in Eden-- corresponding to the Etteilla Upright and Reversed meanings.

On the older man’s head is a curl that is most likely a horn but also suggests a lock of hair.
In Renaissance symbolism forelocks represent opportunities to be seized (James Hall, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, p. 229, in Google Books). This card is much better at expressing even Waite's meanings than the card that Pamela Smith drew.

A detail that perhaps needs some interpretation is the specks in the air to the right of the younger

figure. They could be birds; their flight encourages the young man to journey likewise. Alternatively, they could be insects buzzing around him. In another deck done around this time, in a very similar style, the so-called Leber (named after one of its owners), the Fool card has just such insects, here drawn as 8s. Here they seem to act as irritants. "If only someone would give me a net," the Latin on the bottom says (as translated by Marco and Ross at http://tarotforum.net/showpost.php?p=1810685&postcount=7).

In other contexts at that time, insects are a metaphor for "evil tongues." Alberti, in “Rings,” a short work circulating in manuscript at this time in Northern Italy, describes his 12th ring as follows: “Behold a helmet and mask engraved in emerald, and see the swarm of flies which surrounds them!” (Dinner-pieces, trans. Marsh, p. 213). The interpretation:

Like flies, some men are born only to bite and buzz. We must shield ourselves against such men, and must assume either a mask of severity to drive them away, or a mask of indifference to ignore them. Human follies must be swallowed whole (Marsh, p. 217).
There is also Alciato, in his Emblematum Liber, which appeared in numerous widely varying editions starting in 1531. In a 1540 Spanish/Latin editionm Emblem 51, "Maledentia," Slander, offers a similar interpretation of a swarm of insects as in Alberti's "Rings"; this time they are wasps. The verse reads
Archilochi tumulo insculptas de marmore vespas
Esse ferunt, linguae certa sigilla malae.

On the tomb of Archilochus wasps had been sculpted in marble;
these, as it is said, provide dependable symbols for evil tongues.
(Alciato, A Book of Emblems: The Emblematum Liber in Latin and English, trans. John F. Moffitt, p. 70).
In the context of the SB image, the flying creatures, as flying insects, thus could represent the slanderous biting and buzzing of evil or "waspish" tongues, hindering one from doing what needs doing. The young man must ignore them and seize opportunity by the forelock.

The only suit that is difficult to fit with the Theology as I have been reading it is Coins. Here is the Etteilla School's list:

2 OF COINS: EMBARRASSMENT (EMBARRASS), Obstacle, Engagement [not in c. 1838, which has Engorgement, i.e. Blocking], Obstruction, Hitch, Snag [last 2 not in c. 1838].--Trouble, Upset, Emotion, Awkward Position, Confusion, Difficulty, Unexpected Obstacle, In Error, Obscurity [last 6 not in c. 1838].--Agitation, Anxiety, Perplexity, Concern [not in c. 1838]. REVERSED: LETTER (LETTRE), Note, Written Document, Handwriting, Sacred Writing, Profane Writing [last 2 c. 1838 only], Test [not in c. 1838, which has Text], Literature, Doctrine, Erudition, Written Work, Book, Production, Composition, Dispatch, Epistle, Missive .--Written Character.--Literal Sense[last 5 not in c. 1838].--Alphabet, Elements, Principles, Bill of Exchange.
Perhaps these have to do with the relationship between two friends.

Waite's divinatory meanings are in part simply what is suggested by his version of the card, a juggler holding a disc in each hand, and in part Etteilla's:
Gaiety, recreation and its connexions, which is the subject of the design; but it is read also as news and messages in writing, as obstacles, agitation, trouble, embroilment. Reversed: Enforced gaiety, simulated enjoyment, literal sense, handwriting, composition, letters of exchange.
Etteilla's "embarrassment" has somehow dropped out; instead, we have entertainment. But seems to me that the Sola-Busca can perhaps help explain that keyword.

The card has on it two medallions, one of a young noble, in the style of a Roman profile, and the other an older man in a typical Italian hat
of the time. It seems to me that the two medallions express the idea of partnership between the representatives of two classes of society. The top figure wears a laurel wreath, representing Apollo and victory, hence excellence derived from conformity to the eternal archetypes physically, aesthetically, intellectually, and morally. The Italian aristocracy saw its model in the philosopher-kings of Plato’s Republic. Rulers are victorious and win the respect of their subjects by keeping their ideas on the ideal. The other is lower down in the hierarchy. The contrast is that between Form and Matter, as the Theology relates:
The dyad is also an element in the composition of all things, an element which is opposed to the monad, and for this reason the dyad is perpetually subordinate to the monad, as matter is to form.
It is the partnership of the ideal and the material. But if so, we still need to know how the Etteilla School's "embarrassment" get in there?

The medallions have often been understood to represent two actual people, not Venetian but Ferarrese, Ercole d'Este and Girolamo Savonarola. Ercole d'Este was Duke of Ferrara at the time the deck was made. Savonarola was originally from Ferrara, where his father had been a close friend of the previous duke. Savonarola himself was a Dominican preacher who attacked the excesses of both the aristocracy and the clergy. He was so popular that in 1994 he managed to unseat the son of Lorenzo di' Medici as ruler of Florence. Ercole had become very religious since the death of his wife, and the two men had a warm correspondence. But then Savonarola started attacking the reigning Pope himself. That was going too far. Ercole had to publicly repudiate Savonarola to forestall the papacy's coming after himself as well as Savonarola.

In this interpretation, the card expresses the friendship between the two men. The Etteilla Reverseds express the means by which the friendship was conducted, by letter, while the Uprights express the resulting embarrassment to Ercole.

This interpretation, however, is not likely part of the card's original intent. There are two likely times when the cards could have been done, 1491 and 1525 (based on an inscription on the cards of the year, reckoning from the founding of Venice). In the first case, the cards would have been before the friendship between the two men occurred (Ercole's wife died in 1493, and the correspondence started 1494); the second date is after the friendship would have been too embarrassing to commemorate. Moreover, Savonarola is hardly a representative of matter as opposed to form; his interests were spiritual in the extreme, and he seems to have considered himself subordinate to no one but God.

In fact, the second man on the card has recently been identified not as Savonarola the Dominican preacher, but rather his grandfather Michele Savonarola (c.1385–c.1466), friend and physician to Ercole's predecessor dukes of Ferrara. This idea was put forward by art historian Paola Gnaccolini in "Il segreto dei I tarocchi Sola Busca e la cultura ermetico-alchemico tra Marche e Veneto alla fine del Quattrocento" (Il segreto dei segreti: I tarocchi Sola Busca e la cultura hermetico-alelchemica tra Marche e Veneto alla fino del Quattrocento, Milano 2012, pp 15-59), p. 36. Below, after my translation. I include the footnotes; I had no idea so much was written about the man.
Il carattere arcaico dell'abbigliamento potrebbe far pensare a un tributo postumo a un grande studioso e alchimista, che potrebbe allora forse essere, vista la coincidenza con i tratti fisionomici tramandati da un ritratto miniato (111), il medico padovano Michele Savonarola (112), nonno del più famoso' Girolamo (113) che, dopo aver a lungo insegnato all'Università patavina, si era trasferito nel 1450 a lavorare alla corte di Ferrara come medico personale di Niccolò III d'Este (e dopo di lui di Leonello e Borso).
The archaic character of the clothing might suggest a posthumous tribute to a great scholar and alchemist, who could then perhaps be seen, given the coincidence of facial features of an extant illuminated portrait (111), as the Paduan doctor Michele Savonarola (112), grandfather of the more famous Girolamo (113), who, after teaching a long time at the University of Padua, moved in 1450 to work at the court of Ferrara as the personal physician of Niccolo III d'Este (and after him of Leonello and Borso).  
111 See in Bologna Codex of 1450  Archiginnasio Library, Bologna, A, 125: see. Carbonelli [Sulle fonti storiche della chmica e dell'alchimia in Italia, Roma] 1925, p. 10 fig. 5.
112 Segarizzi [Delle vita e dele opera di Michele Savonarola, medico padovano del secolo XV, Padova 1900;
Carbonelli 1925, pp. 10, 154-157; Samaritani ["Michele Savonarola riformatore cattolico nella corte estense a meta del sec. XV", in Atti e memoria nella deputazione provinciale ferrese di storia patria, III, XXII,] 1976 pp. 1-95 (in particular bibl. pp. 21-22 in footnote 46); Jacquart ["Medecine et alchimie chez Michel Savonarola (1385-1466)", in Alchimia et Philosophie] 1993, pp. 109-122; F. Tomolo, in La Miniature Ferrara 1998, pp. 99-101 cat. 12; Pereira [Arcana Sapienza: l'alchimia dall'origini a Jung] 2001, p. 171; Crisciani [Historia ed exempla; storia e storie in alcuni testi di Michele Savonarola", in Il Principe e la storia] 2005, pp. 53-68; Crisciani, Zuccolini [eds., Michele Savonarola, Medicina e cultura di corte (Micrologus Library, XXXVII] 2011. On the relationship between alchemy and medicine Crisciani, Pereira ["Black Death and Golden Remedies: Some remarks on Alchemy and the Plague", in The Regulation of Evil: Social and Cultural Attitudes to Epidemics in the Late Middle Ages, ed, by A. Paravicini Bagliani, F. Santi] 1998, pp. 7-39; Pereira ["L'alchemista come medico perfetto nel 'Testamentum' pseudolulliano", in C. Crisciani, R. Paravicini Bagliani, eds., Alchimia e medicina nel Mediaevo, 2003], pp. 77-108; Crisciani ["Il famaco d'oro: Alcuni testi tra e secoli XIV e XV", in Crisciani, Paravicini Bagliani 2003], pp. 217-245.
113. Hind, [Early Italian Engraving: A critical Catalogue with Complete Reproductions of all the Prints Described]1938.1, p. 242, proposed the identification of the sitter as Girolamo Savonarola, although aware of the problems of this hypothesis, even concerning the chronology.
This identification fits with the Gnaccolini's proposal that the initials "MS" stand for Marino Sanudo. Sanudo's father represented Venice in Ferrara at the right time, 1457-59, to have known this physician to d'Este

But it occurs to me that perhaps Hind was not the first to identify the portrait, mistakenly, as that of Girolamo Savonarola, who did indeed turn out to be an embarrassment to Ercole (For more of Gnoccolini's discussion see my blog-entry at http://newmaterialsolabusca.blogspot.com/2015/07/part-5.html.)

As physician, Michele Savonarola was concerned primarily with the physical health of his ducal patients, a concern with their material well-being, in contrast to their own concern with administering the state in conformity with the ethical  ideals of Christianity, i.e. Platonic ideals vs. the physical body. It then about the congruity of the two.

"Huck" on Tarot History Forum (http://forum.tarothistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=530&p=9242). has suggested that the card might represent the friendship between Ferrara and Venice at that time. In that case, the upper figure on the card might have been intended to suggest Alfonso d'Este, the heir-apparent in Ferrara, and the physician as representing Venice, since Padua had for a few centuries been the main city of Venice's holdings on the mainland. In favor of this interpretation, the figure on the card is the right age and has a short beard. Alfonso d'Este, unlike his father, was portrayed with a beard. Also Alfonso did pay a visit to Venice at that time, one in which after some strain (a war, in fact), the traditional ties between the two cities were being renewed. 


So what we have in the Twos, and the Popess as well, are various expressions of the Neopythagorean Dyad: as daring separation, as anguish, as desire, and as union, between the archetypal world of form and the physical world of matter.

I don't see that Waite and Smith borrowed much visually from the Sola-Busca in designing their Twos, In Batons there is the same looking off into the distance as in the SB,  and the same feeling of love (although in this case the love-object is present) as in the SB Cups. However the lady in Swords has a determination that the young man in the SB lacks, while she lacks the older friend for support. As for Coins, while two objects in the juggler's hands could be form and matter, or two friends, that is not a natural interpretation. So overall I'd say 25% for borrowing from SB to Smith.

As far as Waite's word-lists in relation to Etteilla's, Waite has added "riches, magnificence" to Etteilla's upright Batons; the two lists correlate at about 75%. In Cups, the Uprights are the same, but Waite has no Reverseds. I do not know  if we can count that lack as a lack of correlation. I will count it half, so again we have 75%. He has added only one word, "courage," to Swords; other than that, they are the same. So 90% correlation. In Coins, he has aided "gaiety" and "enforced gaiety" to the uprights and reverseds. So 60% there. The average is 75%.

In relation to Pythagoreanism, the general theme of the Etteilla list is that of the rewards and difficulties of two friends who are separated, in all the suits. The Sola-Busca seems to express the same idea (assuming the man in Batons has a friend in the land from which he is barred). The Pythagoreanism is less clear in the Waite-Smith. It is possible that the lady in Swords feels grief for a dead brother, but there is no question of re-uniting. Coins' juggler might be seen metaphorically as a juggling act to maintain friendships with both of two friends who are enemies of each other (the papacy vs. Savonarola), but the only suggestion of that in the interpretations is in the word "letter, communication". In the Waite-Smith Swords, I do not see anything Pythagorean. In Cups, however, the affection is clear enough. So let us say 30% overall, compared to at least 80% for the SB and Etteilla. However for Waite's lists the correlation is closer; perhaps 70% would be a good estimate.