Continued from previous post.
Love was next, everywhere except Ferrara. Its identical placement in France needs no further explanation, although the association of Love with the Kabbalists' Tifareth, "beauty", doesn't hurt: as Plato had argued in the Symposium
that what is loved is beauty, whether physical, moral, or spiritual.
But why was the Chariot next? Neither "Pavia" order had it there, nor Ferrara. Alciato had it ninth, as it was in Florence (if not tenth). Only Bologna put it after Love, as part of an order that otherwise bears no particular relationship to the French. Even that is not clear for the 16th century, because in the earliest statement of the order, in 1600, it is after the three virtues rather than before.
But if we look at the Kabbalists' names for the seventh sefirah, Netzach, meaning "victory" or "endurance", there is a clear association. The Vulgate even translates "netzach" as "triumphator" in one of its occurrences, 1 Samuel 15:29. In this case there is a kind of match in Pythgoreanism; in the Theologumena Arithmeticae
7 was related to Athena, goddess of war and wisdom. The earliest French example at seventh position is that of Catelin Geoffroy, with an old man on top of the chariot. He relates both to "endurance" and the Pythagoreans' goddess.
Another explanation might be that Chariot and Justice were switched because in Macrobius, 8 was the number of Justice. I have no particular explanation for how the eighth serfira, Splendor, relates to the lady with the balance. "Splendor" could apply to numerous cards. But perhaps its position on the Kabbalists' "tree", right below the fifth sefirah Din, meaning "judgment", on the left side, counts for something, as a power that might bring divine judgments down on humanity.
A further mystery is why the Old Man, now called the Hermit, came before the Wheel in France, whereas in Italy it had invariably been put after the Wheel, usually immediately after. In fact, relative to the Lombard order, it and Fortitude switch places, separated by the Wheel. Surely an explanation is in order, because it makes so much sense to have an old man, approaching death, come before a man on the point of death and then Death itself.
A Pythagorean justification would be that just as Nine is at the end of the first series of numbers, after which Ten is a new beginning, so an Old Man is at the end of life. In the Kabbalah the ninth sefirah, Yesod, is the gate between the upper world of the planets and our world of the four elements, at least according to Agrippa in Three Books of Occult Philosophy
. Pico called Yesod "the stream through which all rivers flow" (900 Theses
28.27). As can be seen on the frontispiece of the Portae Lucis,
, there is only one path to Malkhut, that to Yesod. So it makes sense that he would be sending the light from above, symbolized by his lantern, illuminating what is below.
I can also imagine a Kabbalist explanation for Fortitude being eleventh. If the direction turns at the Wheel, then instead of the descent of the soul into matter we have the process of its freeing itself from matter. In that way each sefirah might correspond to two cards, the ones below 10 moving the soul downward and the ones from 11 to 21 taking it upwards again. Then the Wheel, as Kingdom, from one perspective reflects the torments and rewards directed by the divine toward its people, while from another perspective it is the Strength of the divine shekinah assisting humanity's ascent. From this latter perspective the lion on the Strength card is the "Lion of Judah", for Christians the Christ of Revelation 5:5, now a mighty figure who "looses the seven seals" and bring on the Last days, at the end of which he will be the sol iustitia, the Sun of Justice, judging the "quick and the dead," as in the c. 1500 Durer engraving of that name (with a lion and sun in the background). The lady facing the lion, Malkuth as a feminine personification, is then facing her God, courageously appealing to his mercy. She is like the courageous Abigail confronting the irate David, bent on destroying her defiant husband and his family; to appease David’s anger she offers gifts and plea for mercy. Similarly the Crowned Virgin intercedes for sinners with a similarly incensed Christ. Such a comparison was sometimes made in religious tracts of the time (see my post at viewtopic.php?p=20018#p20018
. By her courage a physically weak feminine personification can win the admiration of an angry lion, such that by its own accord it allows the lady to open its mouth. Since mercy is more admirable than severity, it is even of benefit to the lion to do so, just as it benefited Mark's lion to offer him its paw to remove a thorn.
But it also might be that in France, Fortitude, as one of the three virtue cards, was placed so that it would be in the middle position between Justice and Temperance, two spaces from each, for the sake of symmetry. That would require its being moved from 9th to 11th in the sequence, with no invocation of Kabbalah involved.
In France the Hanged Man and Death continued in the same positions as formerly, now with the numbers 12 and 13, as in the early orders. No further explanation is necessary. I would point out that the two poles on either side of the Hanged Man in the Tarot de Marseille have acquired lopped off stubs of limbs. Sometimes there are 6 on one side and 5 on the other, with a 12th notch on the horizontal pole, above the Hanged Man himself. In that case he would be Judas. Sometimes there are 6 on both sides, so that the stub above would be the 13th, perhaps suggesting Jesus.
I have already explained why Temperance is 14th, having to do with the defeat of death. In the Catelin Geoffroy I notice that the lady is pouring into a bowl rather than into another vessel. This is similar to depictions on Greek vases of Hebe, female cup-bearer to the gods, pouring nectar at their banquets, the periodic drinking of which renewed their immortality.
Since the sequence from Devil to Sun is in the same order everywhere, there are no changes to be explained by reference to numerological considerations, Kabbalist or otherwise. That would not stop someone from assigning sefiroth to these cards, but except in a few cases people have not done so.
All the same, it is perhaps worth extrapolating from the placement of Malkuth at 11, Fortitude, and Yesod at 12, Hanged Man, to the cards that come after, even if the result is somewhat ad hoc. 13 would be the Glory (one translation of Hod) of a righteous Death, 14 the Victory (Netzach) over death in the Eucharist, 15 the Devil's deceptive use of Beauty (Tifereth), 16 the Severity (Gevurah) of God's Lightning, 17 the Star Lady's Mercy (Chesed), 18 sinners' Repentance (an alternate name of Binah according to Reuchlin and Agrippa) in the Moonlit darkness, 19 the Wisdom (Chochmah) of God, symbolized by the Sun, 20 the reunion with Christ, the Crowned king, declared by the Angel, and 21 the return to the En Sof.
In the 19th century, starting with Eliphas Levi, occultists started assigning sefiroth to cards by their number in a way that corresponds closely to what I have already hypothesized. From the gradual way it proceeded, I expect it was an independent of any tradition continuing from the 16th century. Levi assigned sefiroth to cards in just two cases, that of Tifereth to Love (p. 366 of Waite translation of Dogma and Ritual
, at archive.org) and the World to Kether (p. 369). Papus in Tarot des Bohemiens
went further, assigning the seforth in order to all the cards from Magician to Wheel; but without actually using these assignments in his interpretations. His colleague Oswald Wirth in his 1927 Tarot des Imagiers
did do so, however (see p. 38 of the 1985 translation as Tarot of the Magicians
in archive.org); reference to the sefiroth also appear in the "divinatory Interpretation" for all the cards from Magician to Wheel, with the Fool as En Sof for good measure.
Paul Foster Case went part of the same way in his 1934 Book of Tokens
, assigning from Kether to Gevurah to the cards from Magician to Hierophant, and also, rather unexpectedly, Yesod to the Hanged Man (pp. 18, 32-34, 41, 52-53, 64, 72, and 106 of the pdf - not the numbers someone has added at the bottom of some of the pages - at archive.org). The latter fits my model of an ascent following a previous descent, since Yesod is the sefirah just above Malkuth, which I have identified with the 11th card, Strength.
After 1934 Case did not use any of the assignments to sefiroth of his 1934 book, nor did he or any other occultist, besides Wirth, until Case’s last work in 1947. In The Tarot, a Key to the Wisdom of the Ages,
1947, Case assigned the Fool to the "Limitless Light" (p. 34, on archive.org), echoing the meaning of En Sof, "no limit"; he also assigned Victory to the Chariot, Foundation to the Hermit, and, somewhat unclearly, Malkuth to the Wheel (p 123). But except for “limitless Light” these were brief mentions, a kind of lip service to the sefiroth.
Instead, he and every other English-speaking occultist emphasized the "paths" that the Golden Dawn had assigned to the 22 trump cards, applying Kircher's famous 1653 diagram of the "tree of life” with its 22 paths. Kircher gave no source, but since a few pages earlier he mentioned a book called the “Pardes,” it was probably the Pardes Rimonim
of Moses Cordovero, published in 1592 Cracow, although already finished in 1548 Palestine. In fact the Vatican’s copy of that book, which they date to “ca. 1600,” contains just such a “tree,” with paths matching Kircher’s and little numbers in Hebrew (the first ten single letters, then “ten” plus the single letters again, then Beth again for 20, etc.) indicating the same order as Kircher’s alphabetical one. (For the diagram and its numbering, see Ross’s post at viewtopic.php?p=23539#p23539
and the following discussion).
The result is that the “path” advocated by these occultists for a card is frequently on one side of the “tree” and the sefirah on the other. Since the cards are multi-faceted by nature, this is not necessarily a problem. But it introduces a complexity that the occultists, including Case, mostly ignore, favoring “paths” over sefiroth.
A difficulty is that in his text ([i[Pardes Rimonim[/i] Part 7, Ch. 2, as translated by Elyakim Getz, 2010), Cordovero included two "paths" (the Kabbalists called them channels, Kircher’s canali
) – those from Netzach to Malkuth and from Hod to Malkuth – only to refute them in the next chapter, implicitly replacing them with two others he had mentioned, from Chochmah to Gevurah and Binah to Chesed. In a later work, the Or Ne’erav
(published 1587 Venice, translated by Ira Robinson, 1991) he enumerated this schema more clearly (Robinson pp. 120-121). These changes, of course, would affect the number assigned to a “path” considerably. In fact neither work indicated a particular numerical order among the 22. There was merely an order of presentation, different each time he listed the paths. All that corresponds to the drawing is that the order of presentation accompanying it – the “tree” that Cordovero subsequently refutes - loosely (16 out of 22) corresponds to the numbers in the diagram (here see my post immediately preceding Ross’s above).
However specified, a designation of 22 particular paths was unknown in the Christian West until the publication of Cordovero's books (in Hebrew, but by then many Christians could read them). Before then it was not even clear how many paths there were, much less their order: the Portae Lucis
of 1517, for example, only gives 17, and the drawing of the "tree" in Cordovero's book has 20 (even if his text specifies 22). Another, by Philippe d'Aquin in 1625, has the two denounced by Cordovero but lacks several others. (To see these “trees” and others, plus the relevant quotations from Cordovero, see my post at viewtopic.php?p=20286#p20286
On the other hand, the characterizations of the sefiroth were well known, some from Pico’s 900 Theses
(1486) the rest in Paulo Ricci’s abridged translation of Joseph Gikatilla’s Gates of light
(i]Portae Lucis[/i], 1516), Reuchlin's On the Art of the Kabbalah
(1517), and Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy
(1533). The associations between trump cards and sefiroth articulated by Levi, Papus, and Wirth, unlike those to "paths", could well have been part of the lore of the tarot in France by the first half of the 16th century, and as such, as I have hypothesized, perhaps making a contribution to the standardized order today known as the Tarot de Marseille.