Tarot is a Profound Source of Insight - Page 15

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Iconology of the Chariot Cards

Introduction Figure 1 shows the seven extant Chariot cards from the 15th/16th centuries. The Chariot card was number eight in the type B ordering. The Chariot on the early cards appears as a 2-wheeled chariot pulled by white horses. Read More »

Iconology of the Angel Tarot Cards

IntroductionFigure 1 shows the Angel cards that have survived from the 15/16th centuries. The imagery is remarkably consistent across the cards, showing one or two angels blowing trumpets and figures rising from graves. Read More »

Catharism and the Trumps

Part III: Catharism and Tarot Okay, after a couple of dry historical sections--let's get down to the nitty-gritty! Is the Tarot actually Gnostic in origin? The answer is--it's hard to see Catharism as the sole or fundamental source of the Tarot symbols. It is possible that the dualist heresy was A source but essentially we have to reject the idea that the dualist heresy was THE source (or primary or fundamental, etc.). After analyzing what the Cathari believed, it just isn't consistent to think of the Tarot as a Cathar symbolic system. Read More »

Magic: a Dilemma for Christianity

3. Magic: a dilemma for Christianity While it is clear that paganism disappeared, it is equally clear that Magic did not vanish. As a result, the issue of magic always posed a dilemma for the Church. The dilemma could not be solved by crushing Magic because belief in supernatural powers was an integral part of the culture into which Christianity was born. Indeed, Magic was an integral part of Christianity itself. The old and new testaments are full of demons and angels, prophesies and miracles. Read More »

Christian Magic

2. Christian magic During the first few centuries of the common era, magic was identified with the paganism of the Greco-Roman world that gave rise to Christianity. These rival religions were competitors and paganism was seen as a threat. Efforts focused on suppressing the power and beliefs of paganism. Read More »

Joachim of Fiore

Part V: Joachim of Fiore To understand the transformations that occurred in Catharism, we must pause to consider the strange mystic and prophet, Joachim of Fiore. Too "Catholic" for the occultist historian and too "heretical" for the orthodox, he appears more often in footnotes than in the text of history books. It has only been in recent decades that his incredible influence on the intellectual history of the Middle Ages and Renaissance has become the subject of scholarly research. Read More »

Doctrines of Catharism

Part II: Cathari Doctrine and Practice We have a great deal of information on Catharism because of the Inquisition--specifically set up after the Albigensian Crusade to stamp out the heresy. As always, one has to look at the testimony of accusers with a critical eye. Charges of immorality, for example, were not based on evidence but on the prevailing theory of heresy (Moore, 1975). Heresy was evil and unnatural and therefore was expected to show moral and physical symptoms. Leprosy was often taken as evidence of heresy. Read More »

Iconology of the Lovers Cards

Introduction Six examples of the Lovers card have survived from the 15th/16th centuries (Figure 1). In the type B ordering, the Lovers cards are number seven.The imagery is quite consistent and shows a young couple with a cupid hovering above. One card shows three couples with two cupids. The last card (lower right) is a fragment but probably also had the typical Cupid above. Read More »

Art of Memory

8. Art of memory One of the most confusing aspects of magic deals with imagery. It will take several chapters to untangle all the threads. We will begin with the Art of Memory which Yates (1966) established as an integral part of the esoteric tradition. Yates also shows that Llull's Art contributed to this tradition, which helps tie this chapter to material presented earlier. Read More »

Universal Belief in Magic

1. Universal belief in magic There are a number of things that we know about magic in 15th century Italy with a fair degree of historical certainty. We know, for example, that there was a universal belief in the efficacy of magic. So if one were to ask whether the Tarot designers and early card-players believed in magic, the answer is yes. Read More »

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