(Added in 2014: Please note that I also have other Etteilla-related blogs; the links are below.
http://etteillastrumps.blogspot.com/, transcribing and translating Etteilla's comments, in his 2nd Cahier, on the trump cards of his deck.
http://neopythagoreanisminthetrot.blogspot.com/ , discussing Etteilla's followers' word-lists for the numeral cards and connects them, by means of Neopythagorean writings, with the corresponding images of the Sola-Busca deck of c. 1491 and the Waite-Smith deck of 1910.
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.
And http://etteillasangelology.blogspot.com/ translating and discussing the portion of Etteilla's 1785 book Philosophie des Hautes Sciences that deals with the "72 angels of God".)
In September of 2012 "Corodil", a native French speaker, posted on Aeclectic Tarot Forum (http://tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=180963) his transcription of Etteilla's 3rd Cahier, a work many have wanted to read but few have taken the trouble to either obtain (on microfilm from the Bibliotheque Nationale) or make available. I am not fluent in French, but I did want to read what it said. So I undertook a translation into English, relying on what I know, translation machines, dictionaries, and occasional help from people who are fluent in French. In this blog I am giving again what I posted on Aeclectic, but in a more readable form, in as much as it includes all the corrections I went back and did. Words in italics are as in the original. The French is still available on the link just given. Since it isn't my work, I didn't feel comfortable posting it here.
Etteilla begins the book as follows:
|The Art of reading French Cards,
having generally pleased, I believed that I would also flatter the
curiosity and the taste of almost all Europe, if I brought to light
that of reading the Cards named TAROT, these being in all respects the
origin of ours, because they come to us (as M. Court de Gébelin has very knowledgeably told us, in his eighth Volume of The Primitive World) from the first Egyptians.
I shall not talk thoroughly here about this Deck of Cards, or rather this invaluable Book, which is familiar to me since 1757, about which I protest that I have found some unique information; however I shall say what is its way of being amusing, in imitation of the ancient Peoples who made this Deck of Cards, formerly named the book of Thoth, their most robust activity, containing generally all their sciences, and particularly their Religion, their Oracles, and their universal Medicine, so that it is easy to explain, by interpreting, like the Ancient Mages, the seventy-eight Hieroglyphs that are contained in this Deck of cards). (*1) To understand what I am going to say, it is useful to have before your eyes the deck of cards named Tarot, and so as not to have trouble with the order which I consider as their numbers and the interpretation which I give to Hieroglyphs, it is necessary to write both on each of the Cards, following the plan which I indicate, promising, besides, to bring to light what is lacking here, so as to have a complete idea of this Book of Thoth, which contains the whole Universe. (*2)
(*1.) See in the work, p... nos. 9, 10, 11 & 12.
(*2.) It is the true expression of the wisest and greatest Ancients who have come before us.
P.S. This corrected Deck of Cards is found, in Paris, at the home of the Author, living at Rue de la Verrerie, facing that of la Poterie, in the new building. Address the Porter.
|HOW TO AMUSE ONESELF
WITH THE DECK OF CARDS NAMED TAROT
Serving as the third Cahier of this Work
No. 1. The Egyptians took this Card or sheet [Fr. lame = literally laminate in English], (*3) on which was drawn a Hieroglyph (4) for the man who consulted them; so this Sheet or Card means, or represents, he who questions the Oracles by the Book of Thoth. [In F, on the cards, “Questionnant” = “Male Consultant” is the reversed keyword, in D “Le Questionnant” = “The Enquirer (man)”. The Upright in both F and D is “Etteilla”. R has nothing for this card. S for the sole keyword has “The Male Querent”, in the upright word-list “God”, etc., and in the reverseds, “the Universe, the physical man, the male, the querent”. DDD: Etteilla/Male questioner. The c. 1840 in the uprights has “Etteilla” as keyword and in the word-list “Dieu”, i.e. God, etc., and in the reverseds “Le Questionnant” and “Philosophe, Sage” etc., i.e. “Philosopher, Sage”.]
No. 2 The Sun, this hieroglyph means enlightenment. [F & D have Feu = Fire for reverseds; S and R have Fire.]
No. 3. The Moon, means harmful talk [lit. “blow of tongue”]. [S Proposal, discussion...gossiping...malicious gossip, slander; R Comments, Symposium, conversation... Prattle... Malicious Gossip, Slander; F & D Propos = Discussion in F, Talk in D. Reversed: L’Eau = Water; DDD Opinion, Water]
No. 4. The Star means loss. [S Dispossession; R Desolation, Privation; F Loss; D Privation. Reversed: Air = Air; DDD Deprivation/Air]
No. 5. The World (*5) means journey. [R Voyage, F Travel. Reversed Terre = Earth; DDD Journey/Earth.]
No. 6. The Empress (*6) means, from something bad comes good, or, what has damaged us will become useful to us. [F and D upright Nuit = Night; S and R Night. For reverseds, Jour = Day; DDD Day/Night]
No. 7. The Emperor signifies support. [In reverseds, F & D have Protection = Protection, S & R Protection; DDD Support]
No. 8. This Card, or better this Hieroglyph, like both the preceding ones, no longer looks in any way like it was for the first Egyptians. (*7) Today on this Card we see a Juno, or a Female Pope, or a Spanish Girl; it means the woman for whom we question the Oracles of the Book of Thot. [F & D uprights: Etteilla. F reversed, “Questionnante” = “Female Consultant”; D reversed, “La Questionnante” = “Enquirer (woman)”. DDD: Etteilla/Female questioner. In S, the upright keyword is “Female Querent”, followed by the list “nature, repose” etc.; the reversed words are “imitation, Garden of Eden” etc. In R the keyword and upright are the same as in S, and the reversed is “Reproduction, Garden of Eden” etc. The c. 1840 has “Etteilla” as upright, followed by “Nature, Repos” etc.; in the reversed it is “La Questionnante” and “Imitation, Jarden d’Eden” etc.]
Nº. 9. Justice means Equity; example: C.B.A. A is Jupiter. Justice is B, & some other figure is C. .... A, Jupiter, B will render Justice to the figure C. On the contrary, in A.B.C., it will be C who will render justice to A. This example should serve generally for all, when one must interpret the Oracles offered in the entire spread drawn. [Upright is Justice. For the reversed, F & D have Le Légiste = Jurist in F, Law giver in D, Legist in S, Jurist in R]
Nº. 10. Temperance means or announces that one must moderate oneself. The subject being considered is that indicated in the sheet [or card, Fr. lame] following, whether physical or moral; the extremes, in the one and the other case, being contrary to the law that wise Nature indicates to us in its general movements. [Upright is Temperance. For the reversed, F & D Le Prêtre = the Priest; S Minister, Priest; R Minister, Priesthood]
Nº. 11. Strength. Let it be C.B.A.: A, the consultant; B, Strength; C, a rival of the consultant; the latter will be vanquished. Let it be B.C.A.: against the danger of A, ... C is going to seek Strength B, & vanquish A. ... This correct Hieroglyph, like the two preceding & and the ones following, comes to us directly from the Egyptians, if one allows that while passing through the hands of the Greeks, the Arabs, the first English People, and the Spanish, and finally the Romans, the Germans, etc., they have been altered, thus in general transposing nearly all the numbers; this I demonstrate and prove to be evident in the entire Work; but the number is correct for Strength. [..ce que je démontre & prouve évidemment dans l’Ouvrage entier: signifie la Force.] [Upright is Strength. For reversed, F & D Le Souverain = Monarch in F and Sovereign in D, while S and R have Sovereign]
*3. They were of the finest gold, and their dimensions were 1 by 2.
*4. The Hieroglyph that was on this card is totally changed; thus without entering the matter, this Card offers today, according to the country where it is made, only a Jupiter, or a Pope, or a Swordsman.
*5. Remove the oval Cartouche, & put in its place a Serpent having its head in its mouth... & in place of two miserable blades of grass, put two pyramids of 59 measures, because the figure had some 121; & in agreement with all the Wise, you will conceive that this figure was surrounded by seven stars.
*6. Our inestimable Ancients would certainly verify that this is mistaken: this Hieroglyph is modern; in one of the three other cahiers I will demonstrate that this was originally the fourth day of creation.
*7. The Dissertation that I made on this Card, proving in an irrefutable manner the sort of Hieroglyph it was originally, merited at Frankfurt-on-Main in 1777 the appellation of Astro-phil-astres, & Mage of France, in the terms of [aux termes de] the second [of the] human Sciences.
|No. 12. Prudence; (*8) sometimes when this Card comes up in the
reading, it is a piece of wise advice to proceed carefully, because it
is recognized that prejudice and ignorance make a crime of our most
praiseworthy acts, when they do not understand the steps that we take to
bring the unrefined man to a life that is honest and useful to Society;
it means Caution [French original: Prudence]. [In reverseds, S & R Nation; F & D Le Peuple = The Masses in F, The People in D
No. 13, Marriage (*9); this Hieroglyph is one of those on which the Egyptians were very expansive. They said: Marriage is the absolute will of the Creator, and whoever disturbs this agreement, or diverts its progress, will not live in this world, nor in the other. ...it means Marriage. [In reverseds, S & R lists have Society; F & D Union = Union]
Nº. 14. The Devil. The Egyptians, by this word Devil, or Demon, did not understand infernal Spirits enchained in the abyss, but a man whose science surpassed many others; finally, who knew everything by divine gift, or by prolonged [interpassante] study. Such were the Brahmins, the Gymnosophs, the Druids, etc., etc. This Hieroglyph means superior force, in everything concerning the things of human life. [S force majeure [left in French]; R Great Force; F & D Force Majeure = F Absolute Necessity; D Major Force; DDD Major Force. Reversed: F Force Majeur = Absolute Necessity; D Force Mineure = Minor Force. S list, slightness, weakness; R, insubstantial, weakness; c. 1840 Légèrité, Faiblesse, i.e. lightness, weakness]
Nº. 15. The Bateleur, (*10) means Illnesses: in a different sense, sometimes regarded as a Mage, it means Health. [S Sickness, in list illness, infirmity; R Illness, infirmity; F & D Maladie = Illness, both upright and reversed; DDD Illness. S list has in reversed, mental illness, headache; R reversed has Mental Illness...Head Injury; c. 1840 reversed, Indisposition...mal de tete, i.e. headache]
No. 16. Judgment. C.B.A., Judgment in C, says that you judge on nothing. B.C.A., what you judge of B is true; what you judge of A is false; means Judgment. [F & D Jugement = Judgment, both upright and reversed; S & R reversed lists: arrest, decree, weak mind]
Nº. 17. Death. Note that death has to come; but you should not get it mixed up. C.B.A., Death in C. says nothing; A.C.B., bad news for A; but as the book of the Oracles is not one of Decrees, it is most often necessary to believe that the death coming here in C is only a small courtesy visit that it renders to A: nevertheless it would be necessary to distrust B; because it is he who sends C to A. And finally, for C to bring lead (shot) to A, there would have to be D.A.C.B.; if we find A and B and C alone, it means death, or as little of it as necessary, for the sheet [= card, Fr. lame] that follows, which most often is an unknown, or a Project, or a Legal Case; and in this last case, so much the better.[S keyword Mortality, in list death, in reverseds list inertia; R Mortality, then in list annihilation, inertia; F & D Mortalité = Death in F, Mortality in D; DDD Mortality; in reverseds F & D Néant = Nothingness]
No. 18. The Hermit. The Egyptians took this, as the Provençals say, as The Capuchin [Friar], when the first degree of Knowledge and human Wisdom is reached: these Philosophers there were themselves, in a way, forced by their contemporaries, and by their Followers, so that, according to the vulgar idea, the corpuscles of the sublime did not exalt not so freely: today this Hieroglyph means a hypocrite, a traitor (*11). [S Traitor, in list betrayal...deceit, hypocrisy, and in reverseds loner; R Traitor, Treason...Dissimilation, Hypocrisy, and in reverseds Hermit; c. 1840 Fourbe [deceitful[, Hypocrite, reverseds Hermite; F & D Traitre = Traitor, in both uprights and reverseds; DDD Traitor]
No. 19. Maison-Dieu [literally. House-God, but in Old French, per Kwaw's later post, meaning House of God]. As we see that this House looks like the Tower of Montgommery, which has just been knocked over, or a small Castle that has been knocked over, it is very correct not to make it, like the ignoramuses, the Temple of the Eternal. So, as shown by the Egyptians, who never named it Maison-Dieu, but House of the punishments of God ...it means Prison, poverty. [S Distress, then in list situs, misery or wretchedness...poverty, and imprisonment in the reverseds; R Misery, in list Distress...Poverty and in reverseds Imprisonment; c. 1840 Indigence...Détresse, then Imprisonnement; F & D Misère = Poverty in F and Misery in D, and in reverseds, F & D Prison = Prison; DDD Misery/Jail]
No. 20. The Wheel of Fortune. This Hieroglyph means increase and fortune; note however that every time it appears in a spread, you should not believe that it is ours; finally, it is necessary to consider where it is placed (*12).[S Fortune, in list good luck, happiness, and in reverseds Development; R Fortune, in list Happiness, and reverseds Increase; c. 1840 in list Bonheur, reverseds Accroissment; F & D Fortune = Fortune, and in reverseds Augmentation = F Raise and D Increase; DDD Fortune]
No. 0. The Madman, or Madness; this Card is the only one that in fact never had a number; which returns well enough to the fact that it is hardly possible to assign a number to our dear madnesses (13); means madness . [R and DDD Folly, all others Madness, for both upright and reversed. S list has madness...dementia, extravagance, unreasonableness, reversed idiocy, ineptitude, carefreeness. R list has Demented, Eccentricity [Extravagance], Insanity, reversed Imbecility, Ineptitude, Carelessness; c. 1840 has Démence, Extravagance, Déraison, reversed Imbécilité, Ineptie, Insouciance.] It is necessary to understand that these first 22 Leaves never had, for the Egyptians, with regard to divination, a single meaning; but when this book was finally moved and mixed, opened, or cut, and one of these 22 Hieroglyphs coming upside down, then the forecast was less, that is to say, the chariot coming reversed, upside down, the quarrel is less considerable.
If the so-called Devil comes feet at the top, the superior force [force majeur] is less; so of these twenty-two meanings, 22 major Hieroglyphs being interpreted, as I said for divination, and not for hermetic Philosophy, which is so perfectly developed there, that it is impossible not to recognize in it the Originals of all the Adepts who have written. We are going to pass to the 56 minor Hieroglyphs, taken up under the primary four faces, which have all the numbers relative to the high Sciences, or second Human sciences. (*14)
*8. Cross off absolutely the hideous name of the hanged man, which the most excessive ignorance gave to this invaluable virtue.
*9. In the work I give reasons for the transposition that I make of this Hieroglyph in the place of death, which I classify as No. 17. And without demonstrating here that I am just translating the thought of the Egyptians, I say that it is necessary to go back to the spirit of Marriage, which is birth, as birth is the spirit of death, and this one of life.
*10. This hieroglyph is very altered; it was a mage. ...
*11. I warn the Reader that I always translate only with regard to the divination of the Egyptians.
*12. This has often been thought very bad, going as far as regarding it insane; but I believe it very wise, because it takes as its task only tormenting the insane.
*13. The Egyptians offer us this Hieroglyph as a mirror, which without being coated, gives to each the power to see on one side the defects of some, while those see by looking on the opposite side at the defects of the others.
*14. I will give the reason for all these divisions, not in the style of the Ancients, but according to the knowledge of the Cabalists.
In a post on Aeclectic (http://tarotforum.net/showpost.php?p=3235242&postcount=14), "Kwaw" (Steve Mangan) gave an excellent explanation of the reasons for "absolute necessity". My choice, "superior force", is the Wikipedia article's translation of the original Latin phrase vis major. The problem with "absolute necessity", I think, is that it doesn't admit of more or less, and Etteilla says that when the card is reversed, the "force majeur" is less. But he doesn't mean "weakness", at least not in this book--just less of the superior force. Hence my choice of words.
Kwaw also corrected my translation of "Maison-Dieu" as "House-God". I also see that in the Grand Robert Dictionnaire de la Langue Francaise, 1986 edition, "Maison-Dieu" sometimes referred to the Temple of Jerusalem.
At this point we have reached the end of the trumps, or "major arcana" (words that did come into use until after Etteilla). I will pick up with the suit cards in my next post.