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Transmission of Magical Knowledge to the 15th Century

5. Transmission of magical knowledge to the 15th Century Occultist writers often attribute the transmission of magical knowledge to secret societies. The claim has some basis if we consider the 16th to 20th centuries. However, it does not suffice to explain the transmission from ancient times to the 15th century when the Tarot was invented. There simply are not any secret societies that could have served the purpose (see separate article on Secret Societies and the Tarot) nor is there any hint of such a society in the hundreds of medieval manuscripts that deal with magic. Read More »

Ramon Llull

Ramon Llull Perhaps it would be well to step back from the generalities and abstractions about magic and consider an individual 'magician'. In the 15th century, Ramon Llull (1232 - ~1316) was considered one of the greatest minds of the late middle ages. His magical thought and alchemy influenced Agrippa and Bruno (Yates 1982) and this influence was still alive in the 19th century (Levi 1860). 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 »

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 »

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 »

Origins of Catharism

Part I: Origins of Catharism Were the Cathari direct descendents of the ancient Gnostics? Yes, sorta, kinda. The Medieval Manichee by Runciman (1947, Cambridge University Press) is a dated but classic treatment of the subject. The influence of Runciman's work can be seen in the fact that the book was reprinted in 1955, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1991, and 1996. The book is a real goldmine for the English-speaking reader because it provides a comprehensive synthesis of the earlier French and German scholarly studies. Read More »

Iconology of the Early Tarot References

Anderson, M. D. 1963. Drama and imagery in English medieval churches. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge. Read More »

Albigensian Crusade

Part IV: Albigensian Crusade and the Inquisition The "problem" of the Cathari was solved by the Albigensian Crusade. Without going into irrelevant details, the Cathari in Provence (called Albigensians after the town of Albi) were preaching the downfall of the Church under the protection of powerful local rulers who were snubbing their noses at the Pope. When they murdered a Papal Legate, the pope went anaerobic and called on the rulers of northern France to intervene. Read More »

Confluence of the Three Systems

In this essay we will examine the most esoteric, interior architecture that connects Tarot to the historical stream of Mystery School teachings passed down and grafted together from most ancient times. Read More »

Introduction to the Magic of Tarot

Introduction One of the most controversial issues in the history of Tarot is the extent to which magic and divination played a role in the design of the 15th century Tarot. Opinions are sharply divided and vehemently argued. On one side are those who side with Dummett (1980) and maintain that the Tarot was designed to play a game - plain and simple. Their strongest argument is that extensive treatises on magic written in the 15th and 16th century, such as Agrippa's De occulta philosophia libri tres (1531), never mention the Tarot. There is no smoking gun. Read More »

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