The Tarots of TWIN PEAKS

[THE USUAL DISCLAIMER: These are notes and drafts, not a completed work. As such, I have not worried too much about the academic niceties of form, and everything I write is subject to change, and people are welcome to make suggestions or criticisms. In fact, I’m hoping that you do. –Kitos]

Usually when Tarot cards make an appearance in movies, they are laid out without any rhyme or reason. Or you’ll see them in a scene in which someone draws a single card and throws it dramatically face up on the table. And—gasp!—it’s DEATH or THE LOVERS or something a Tarot-naive audience can make sense of without foreknowledge.  Twin Peaks is a television series which aired on CBS in the United States between 1990 and 1991, the creation of Mark Frost and David Lynch. Twin Peaks shows some sophistication about the actual use of tarot. For example, the American villain Blackie has a Rider-Waite-Smith clone deck and the layout she uses is the Celtic Cross. That kind of deck and spread are in fact most popular among Americans and British. 

By contrast, the French Canadian Québécois villain Jean Renault (who just happens to be in the midst of a tarot reading when we first meet him) is using a French Marseille deck in a the three-card spread, both more common in the Francophone world. 

Clearly someone involved in setting up these scenes knew at least that much about Tarot culture.  Now to look at the cards to see if they seemed to be deployed with any significance. We are somewhat limited in making this evaluation, as there are only a few shots where the cards are visible and identifiable.

First Season: Episode 8

When we first see the tarot cards, they are presented in the same shot as the television monitors for the casino, obviously to establish their identical purpose: surveillance.  Blackie O’Reilly, the madame-manager of the One Eyed Jacks Club in Canada, is in her office laying out cards in what is clearly the traditional Celtic Cross arrangement. The King of Pentacles is clearly visible in the “What Crown You” (or Conscious Influences) position at the top of the cross. The deck O’Reilly is using is the Hansen-Roberts Tarot, by the way.

Blackie O’Reilly is the #2 in command of this moneymaking operation, working under Benjamin Horne, the richest man in Twin Peak, so it is easy to see how the King of Pentacles in this position would be relevant. King Benjamin Horne is what crowns Blackie.

And precisely when O’Reilly is in the act of laying a card in Position 8, or the What-You-Need-To-Know-About-The-People-Around-You, the door in the background opens and in comes her new hire, reporting for inspection.  

Triple Surveillance: the monitors, Position 8 of the Celtic Cross, and the in-person inspection.

And what Blackie really Needs To Know About Her, but doesn’t, is that this woman is actually Audrey, on a secret mission of her own, and the daughter of the club’s owner, Benjamin Horne. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell which card Blackie has just laid in Position 8.

[Two Asides, before I move on to the other tarot  deck we see in this series. If you like, you can skip over these asides to get to the other Tarot deck in Twin Peaks.

1.  The Lesbian Innuendo of the 52-Card Deck

After looking her over, Blackie tells Audrey to pick out a card from a standard 52-card deck (spread out face up), and Audrey picks out the Queen of Diamonds. What’s the point of having someone pick out a card from a deck face up? Is the Queen of Diamonds is obviously meant to represent Blackie herself, as the Club-cum-Brothel-cum-Casino’s Queen (Diamonds equate to Pentacles) and Second-in-Command under Pentacle King Benjamin Horne.

The two out-of-sequence Queens that don’t roll with the straight crowd.

After Audrey deliberately chooses this card, she and Blackie make prolonged eye-contact, Blackie puts her hand on Audrey’s, and we hear some cliched sexy music. Blackie has made a lesbian overture, and Audrey has signaled interest. (Later in the series, we will see Audrey, as if branded, wearing a Queen of Diamonds on her sexy clothing.)

The details of this exchange are interesting to note. 

When Blackie spreads out the deck with the cards face up, we see the cards in partial order: nothing but straight-flush runs of five or more cards. The Queen of Diamonds violates this pattern: she is all by itself between straights of spades and clubs. This can only mean that Blackie had deliberately positioned the card in the deck.

The visual pun is that the Queen doesn’t belong to the straight crowd.

Even though the Queen’s index number is only partially visible, it stands out as the only red card by itself, and Audrey picks it out right away. Did Audrey realize what the overture was and so signal her acceptance of it?

I also note, by the by, that the only other card that is by itself and not part of a suit sequence is the top card Blackie’s hand is covering when she fans out the deck, and it is another Queen: the Queen of Spades. So, true to her name, Blackie’s also a very dark queen.

It’s striking that we have a scene with both tarot cards and an ordinary poker deck at work in it.   Since one of the primary themes of  Twin Peaks is the juxtaposition of the ordinary with the mystical, perhaps this is being expressed in this scene by the juxtapositioning of an ordinary 52 -card poker deck and the Tarot.

Second Aside:. Other Peripheral Tarot Symbolism

When I first saw this scene, I wondered whether or not the roulette wheel in the second monitor was another Tarot reference (The Wheel of Fortune, obviously). The roulette wheel calls attention to itself, since is odd for the monitor’s camera to be aimed at the wheel itself and not at the table. And that in turn led me to wonder whether the figure in the first monitor, FBI Agent Dale Cooper was meant to suggest the First Arcanum, the Magician. Cooper is visible from the waist up before a table (like the magician) table and making a fortune with his usual aplomb and luck. He is even depicted at the same angle as the Marseille Magician always is. The fact that he’s wearing a tuxedo is also evocative of a stage magician. (Remember, the traditional Tarot magician is more like a stage performer than a magus. Cooper is a bit of both.)

So, subsequently I found out that someone had designed a Tarot deck featuring characters from TWIN PEAKS in the Major Arcanum. It turns out that the character used for the Magician card is, in fact, Special Agent Dale Cooper.

I don’t know much else about the deck besides this. It may be a splendid deck, but it makes it difficult to do internet research on tarot in Twin Peaks, since since virtually every internet search I try connecting Lynch with Tarot just turns up references to this Tarot deck.]

Now, on to the other Tarot deck in Twin Peaks. ]

Jean Renault’s Tarot

(Episode 4 of Season 2, also known as Episode 12)

Jean Renault is one of those villains whose veneer of elegance makes him all the more frightening.  As noted above, he’s using a Marseille tarot.

It looks to me like the deck Jean Renault is using is the 1974 U.S. Games CLASSIC TAROT,  which is a reproduction of the 1751 Claude Burdel deck. I was only able to tell after seeing this shot of the cards in a different scene.

The giveaway is the card with that red object on it.  Can you make it out? Here, I’ll invert the image.

It’s the lightening-struck tower of Arcanum XVI. The only deck I know with a red tower belongs to a deck in the Marseille genus: the U.S. Game 1974 TAROT CLASSIC, a reproduction of the 1751 Burdel deck.

As for the spread itself. The cards he has drawn are the Devil, the Three of Swords (inverted), and Death (inverted).  

We might start off by noting that, if nothing else, this at least shows an awareness that inversions in Tarot have meaning.

Is this spread relevant to the dramatic situation? Well, let’s consider this. The dramatic context is that Audrey, being held captive to work as a prostitute subsequently has had a heroin habit forced on her to render her more helpless. Since she has been refusing to have sex with clients, Emory Battis, her “manager” has dragged her to Jean to sort her out. But Audrey tells Jean that Emory has struck her for her non-cooperation. Jean finds this unacceptable promises Audrey that nobody will ever hit her again. By way of reassurance, Jean then shoots Emory dead right in front of her.  

So, you’ve got the Devil card, associated with bondage and imprisonment. The Three of Swords (inverted) is associated with sorrows of some sort. It is sometimes said to represent the resolution of a conflict with coworkers (!). Or, one could get visual about it à la readers like Camelia Elias and see the card as a heroin needle being plunged downward into Audrey’s arm. But however you take the Three of Swords, the inverted Death card is not hard to work into the reading in some way. Is it the imminent murder of Emory—a murder which ostensibly is committed to reassure Audrey but is probably intended more to intimidate her? An evil sophisticate like Jean Renault might relish a double-entendre like that.

Obviously Jean’s reassurances are meant to seem hollow and insidious.  As if to drive this point home, when he’s trying to reassure Audrey, he inadvertently keeps flashing the Maison Dieu (Tower) card at her. 

Later, when we see Jean and Blackie together, the Death card is visible on the counter as they discuss killing Audrey. 

But in actuality Jean is preparing to kill Blackie herself. As if to conceal his intentions, he places his glass on top of the Death card.

To be continued…

[THE USUAL DISCLAIMER: These are notes and drafts, not completed works. As such, I have not worried too much about the academic niceties of form, and everything I write is subject to change, and people are welcome to make suggestions or criticisms. In fact, I’m hoping that you do. –Kitos]

The King of Cups

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Synthetic Meaning

            Sitting comfortably, his body oriented towards to the left and his head to the right, wearing a crown, extended boldly to the left and right with material blue on the inside and red on the outside, the King of Cups holds in his right hand a tall cup with a small opening to show that every effective achievement must be accompanied by a passive state which permits Being to orient itself towards what is Above through the extension of his psyche, such as prayer or any other form of mystical elevation.

Analytic Meaning

            The extensions of his crown are animistic impulses, energies driven by feelings to open themselves up to the Universal and characterizing great psychic activity with a very impersonal feeling.

Specific Analogues

            The crown, firmly placed on his head and covering it completely, shows that the extent of its influence embraces his whole mind and enables him to communicate directly with the Universal.

            His white hair under the crown is a synthetic element interleafed to establish a transition between his mind and his means of expression (the crown and its wings). The part which covers his ears serve as protection for him to avoid the mixture of currents and shows that he will not allow himself to be distracted in his mission. The black lines drawn on it represent his resistance, and the white material which runs from his neck to meet the cup indicates the impersonality which, as a last resort, synthesizes his contribution. His white moustache and beard separate into two points, characterizing his impersonal judgement.

            The comfortably-seated posture of the King is meant to affirm the passivity which the nature of the cup has imposed on him, but his head, turned towards the right, indicates the obligation of an activity in his internal thought, which he affirms by the fact that the cup is held in his right hand.

            The cup is tall to underscore the period of incubation of altruistic or mystic sentiments and the extent of what Being has to give by itself; the cup of the Page was equally tall, bearing nothing but hope, and it was receive it instead of give it.

            The Page and the Knight only were bearing the cup, while the King and the Queen hold it firmly to indicate that the previous two receive it: the Page to incubate it, the Knight to bear it somewhere; while the latter two represent, for the Queen, a capturing force ensuring intuition and, for the King, a force of diffusion making his psyche manifest.

            His left hand, resting on a golden belt, implies an interior effort to establish through his mind and equilibrium between conscious sentiments (his chest) and instinctive ones (stomach).

            The four buttons on his blue thorax indicate the four stages of elevation, going from the psychic to the spiritual, while passing through the animistic and the mental.

            The red of his mantle represents his psychic activity, and the yellow border and lining represent the intelligence behind this activity, directed towards psychic realization. The black stripes are the resistances which he encounters.

            The bottom of his seat, flesh-colored, with its numerous black stripes, represents the obstacles which the King encounters in the domain of his nervous system before materializing in the physical his psychic contribution underlined by the blue color of his feet.

            The yellow ground, oddly covered with black lines in all directions, confirms his passivity.

Meanings As They Relate To The Three Planes

            MENTAL Security in judgement.

            ANIMISTIC. Very extensive love, very comforting (like Saint Vincent de Paul), very dynamic, like feeling.  Psychic protection.

            PHYSICAL. Rapport with the two Major Arcana XVII and XXI. Abundance. Major business, going well, or rather social or general importance, like an international exposition.

            INVERTED. Very heavy weight, with great difficulties in unloading it after a long time.

*       

      In its Elementary Sense, the King of Cups represents the renouncing of personal will in order to open up with confidence to the Universal.

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Knight of Cups

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Synthetic Meaning

     The Knight of Cups, hatless, supporting on his right hand a large open cup and trotting to the left, indicates the enthusiastic impulse of beings called to that which is Above and carried towards altruistic growth.

Analytic Meaning

      The Knight of Cups signifies a pledge in exchange for an offering; the Knight is coming with this pledge, one of an animistic order, first by virtue of the innate significance of the Cup and then because he is turned towards the left.

Specific Analogies

      This Knight has the appearance of a mounted Page. The Cup, which he holds positioned on the palm of his right hand just like that of the Page of Cups, symbolizes accumulated earthly treasures, that is to say, all human knowledge, but these treasures, which motivate the bearer of the Cup, are transitory, such knowledge not being able to be crystalized in a state of immobility.

      While the Cup has the shape of a hourglass, it is able to be inverted and the knowledge which it contains in a passive state can become unconscious; it is also able to be oriented towards that which is Above as well as below and to be good as well as bad; the Knight’s Cup violates this symmetry; it is mostly uncovered to show that the treasures of knowledge in its possession are no longer able to change their qualities; they are good or evil.   

      His head, without a hat, and the open cup are indications that he is receiving inspiration and apport directly from Above.

      The horse, flesh colored, symbolizes the nervous energy and the vital forces expended for the things imported into it;  the trotting of the horse expresses impulse and shows that these forces could overtake the power of the Knight if he does not keep it restrained with a mere pair of reigns held in his left hand, indicating therefore that he is not wholly able to direct it, but only restrain it.

      The red sphere at the center of the cup has the same significance as that of the Page of Cups, the effort which the soul must exert in the material world.

      The blue mane as well as the four hooves have the same meaning as they do for the Knight of Swords.

      The four points on the collar of the house answer to the quaternary and to Lame IV, the Emperor, and indicate the powerful force of the apportand his solidity; the four points and the three points on the rump straps show that the Knight operates on the three planes of consciousness and under the four constituent aspects of the material plane, which is to say, with a great expanse (3+4=7=the range).

      The yellow ornaments which decorate the horse show that intelligence is at the foundation of his action, and the white stirrup shows that the Knight’s fulcrum is neutral: we do not hold onto knowledge: it departs, it spreads out.

      The variety of colors on his clothing has the same meaning as it does for the Knight of Batons.

      Same meaning for the ground as for the Knight of Swords.

Meanings as They Relate to the Three Planes

      MENTAL. The contribution of fertile ideas, inspiration, ideas which spontaneously emerge.

      ANIMISTIC. Flowering of artistic gifts, especially for a musician, since the scale is represented by 4 + 3 = 7.   

      PHYSICAL. Happy marriages, good matches, very good health.

      INVERTED. The power of the Card is halved, being too active to be eliminated; there is delay or embarrassment.

*

      In its Elementary Sense, the Knight of Cups represents the sensible and affective part of Man, susceptible to great enthusiasm and devotion.

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The Knight of Swords

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Synthetic Meaning

            This card depicts a Knight dressed in armor, holding a while sword and mounted on a galloping horse, flesh-colored, partially covered by fabric and whose shoes are blue. It symbolizes therefore the force of sudden propagation, powerful, enlightened, and disciplined, depending on the vital energies of the physical world and propagating themselves through animistic qualities.

Analytic Meaning

            The blue armor of the Knight of Swords shows an energetic will, one disciplined by an animistic nature. The mask which he wears on his left shoulder marks the fact that the power granted the Knight is transitory and does not belong to him, since it disappears along with the armor from which, moreover, he can be detached.

            The long sword, not colored, as well as the hilt, indicate by their whiteness a synthetic force from the light and, consequently a force directed towards the higher planes; it still specifies an abstract note, that is to say, that it does not reveal the plane on which its action will be directed.

            The fabrics which cover the horse, while covering it with flexible substances, but still material, show that the fulcrum and the transmission of the force of the Knight (the flesh color of the horse) is surrounded and protected by the vital energies of the physical world.

            These fabrics, forming a caparison, are for the most part red, with a yellow border above and below, connected in front by a white band, thus signifying that his actions will be intelligent and balanced. The various patterns, arabesque and black points appearing on the yellow part represent the material parts which have not yet evolved.

            The shoe, the point of contact with the ground, is blue.[1] This indicates the spiritual basis of his progress. The iron of the horseshoe is fastened with five nails,[2] five being the number of the vibration, which is to say, of the propagation of a state or a plan to another state or plan. The number 10, figured by the ten nails which border the visible part of his helmet (or 2 x 5) accentuate this idea, but moreover it recalls the 10th Arcanum, the Wheel of Fortune, because the Knight of Swords introduces, depending on the environment, the promotion of evolution, or a renewal of something in the events, a change of situation; in a word, the unexpected.

            The blue of his breastplate and helmet show that the spiritual is protecting him him in his struggle, and the yellow shows that this protection is a matter of intelligence. His white belt, on the blue background of his breastplate, indicates that his spirituality is based on purity. The Knight must stand firmly in his spirituality by the blue stirrups which are fitted to his red feet, and the yellow of his leg touching the top of the stirrup signifies that intelligence must proceed to the spiritual. His knee pad, blue in front and yellow on the back, confirms the preceding.

            The mane serves to swat away insects; it is here depicted in blue, showing therefore that it is the spiritual flyswatter which will shoo away the parasites disposed to attach themselves to his will.

            The galloping of the horse indicates the sudden apparition of force propagatedby the Knight of Swords. The oblique direction of the horse, while marking the passive orientation of the Knight, shows that while it is not the origin of what the Knight is pursuing, it is permitting a rapid advance towards an engaging activity. Its four blue shoes underscore its spiritual direction.

            The flesh-colored mask which the knight wears on his shoulder also symbolizes the physical heredity which his struggles waged at sword point must destroy and dissipate their defects as well as the burden which this heredity imposes on him.  It is on the physical plane that he must strike them, for his upper part of his sword arm is red, and his forearm and hand are flesh-colored.

            The yellow ground, rugged and streaked with black lines, represents points of resistance; some yellow tufts of grass represent intellectual contributions coming to his aid.

Meanings As They Relate To the Three Planes

            MENTAL. Source of clarity brought to bear on projects and their solution, unexpectedly, by showing their multiple aspects.

            ANIMIQUE. Exchange, something quickly supplied and vibrant, since the horse is galloping.

            PHYSICAL. Unexpected achievement which nothing predicted.

            INVERTED. Great embarrassment, disputes, decline in business.

*          

   In sum, in its Elementary Sense, the Knight of Swords represents Man’s quick command; a reflexive decision before an unanticipated event, one not foreseen by fate.


[1] The horseshoes of the four Knights’ horses are all blue, marking thus the spiritual basis of their action.

[2] This detail may also be found in the other three Knights.

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Knight of Coins

[Return to Table of Contents of Le Tarot de Marseille by Paul Marteau]

[A very rough draft]

Synthetic Meaning

            Mounted on a walking horse entirely flesh-colored, and the fact thatthe Knight of Coins is directed to the right, resting a baton on his shoulder and gazing at the point positioned in front of him at eye level, symbolizes the balancing of constructive actions by the sureness of his action, his calmness, in the continuation of his movement forward and the perfect direction of his instructions.

Analytic Meaning

            The coin, placed near the top of the card–that is to say, in the spiritual area–clearly before the eyes of the horseman, is like a star fixing his direction and towards which he calmly directs himself.

            The baton, firmly resting on his shoulder, asserts his self-assurance and symbolizes his will, his personal energy, because it is in his right hand.

            The Knight of Coins has no incubation period. Like the Page of Coins, he has already received the message (the Page is exhibiting the coin in his right hand, carrying it in peace with whatever energy is required.

            The Knight of Coins, with the idea of progression evoked by the horse, symbolizes the transformation of words as well, and the yellow baton, held in his right hand, indicates their eventual intelligent destruction on the physical plane.

            His activity is drawn entirely from the vital forces, since the horse is flesh-colored, except for its blue hooves which mark the necessity of supporting the animistic (see the Knight of Swords). The horse by walking indicates a certain advancement, a calm and measured effort; the orientation towards the right affirms the resolve behind the action.

            He rides in the opposite direction of the other Knights, having turned around to underscore clearly that his path is opposite of that which has been drawn for others, their directions having the quality of an outcome, while his is completely isolated and has no contact with human thoughts.

            His hat, round and red with a blue border, signifies his irresponsibility for his eventual destruction and that this takes place in the material world under spiritual influence. We do not see the hand which holds the yellow reigns, this force being directed by an invisible but intelligent hand, not being a destructive force without purpose.

            The red stirrup shows the material fulcrum which the Knight takes up to bring about these transformations.

            The yellow ornaments of the horse have the same meaning as they do for the Knight of Cups, along with the points on the harness and the reigns.

            The colors of his clothing have the same meaning as the Knights of Cups and Batons, along with the ground.

Meanings As They Relate To The Three Planes

            MENTAL. The representation of all that which intelligence devises for construction in the material world: geometric problems, architectural plans.

            ANIMISTIC. emotional stances, stable and progressive.

            PHYSICAL. Necessary guidance given to some matters which progress without worrying  about repercussions, since if they get in the way, he or she will break through them with the baton. Good health. Healing a certainty in the case of a serious, long, or chronic affliction.

            INVERTED. No longer able to act, it is neutralized and has no meaning.

*

            In its Elementary Sense, the Knight of Coins represents Man carrying on in peace with his mental energies to construct something which is solid and durable.

[Return to Table of Contents of Le Tarot de Marseille by Paul Marteau]

Knight of Cups

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Synthetic Meaning

     The Knight of Cups, hatless, supporting on his right hand a large open cup and trotting to the left, indicates the enthusiastic impulse of beings called to that which is Above and carried towards altruistic growth.

Analytic Meaning

      The Knight of Cups signifies a pledge in exchange for an offering; the Knight is coming with this pledge, one of an animistic order, first by virtue of the innate significance of the Cup and then because he is turned towards the left.

Specific Analogies

      This Knight has the appearance of a mounted Page. The Cup, which he holds positioned on the palm of his right hand just like that of the Page of Cups, symbolizes accumulated earthly treasures, that is to say, all human knowledge, but these treasures, which motivate the bearer of the Cup, are transitory, such knowledge not being able to be crystalized in a state of immobility.

      While the Cup has the shape of a hourglass, it is able to be inverted and the knowledge which it contains in a passive state can become unconscious; it is also able to be oriented towards that which is Above as well as below and to be good as well as bad; the Knight’s Cup violates this symmetry; it is mostly uncovered to show that the treasures of knowledge in its possession are no longer able to change their qualities; they are good or evil.   

      His head, without a hat, and the open cup are indications that he is receiving inspiration and apport directly from Above.

      The horse, flesh colored, symbolizes the nervous energy and the vital forces expended for the things imported into it;  the trotting of the horse expresses impulse and shows that these forces could overtake the power of the Knight if he does not keep it restrained with a mere pair of reigns held in his left hand, indicating therefore that he is not wholly able to direct it, but only restrain it.

      The red sphere at the center of the cup has the same significance as that of the Page of Cups, the effort which the soul must exert in the material world.

      The blue mane as well as the four hooves have the same meaning as they do for the Knight of Swords.

      The four points on the collar of the house answer to the quaternary and to Lame IV, the Emperor, and indicate the powerful force of the apportand his solidity; the four points and the three points on the rump straps show that the Knight operates on the three planes of consciousness and under the four constituent aspects of the material plane, which is to say, with a great expanse (3+4=7=the range).

      The yellow ornaments which decorate the horse show that intelligence is at the foundation of his action, and the white stirrup shows that the Knight’s fulcrum is neutral: we do not hold onto knowledge: it departs, it spreads out.

      The variety of colors on his clothing has the same meaning as it does for the Knight of Batons.

      Same meaning for the ground as for the Knight of Swords.

Meanings as They Relate to the Three Planes

      MENTAL. The contribution of fertile ideas, inspiration, ideas which spontaneously emerge.

      ANIMISTIC. Flowering of artistic gifts, especially for a musician, since the scale is represented by 4 + 3 = 7.   

      PHYSICAL. Happy marriages, good matches, very good health.

      INVERTED. The power of the Card is halved, being too active to be eliminated; there is delay or embarrassment.

*            

In its Elementary Sense, the Knight of Cups represents the sensible and affective part of Man, susceptible to great enthusiasm and devotion.

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Knight of Batons

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Synthetic Meaning

            Richly dressed, mounted on a horse in mid step with its white head turned to the right, the Knight of Batons, holding his baton in his left hand, indicates a pronounced passivity and an internal undertaking, but as he holds his baton vertically and towards the right, he shows that he nevertheless manifests energy for which he is the transmitter, and that he himself represents the transferring of physical energies across the material until they may emerge.

Analytic Meaning

            The Knight of Wands would the energies which nature places at the disposition of man, but he, enclosed in matter, can only gain use of them after the work of hatching them in himself.  All powers used by Man undergo preparatory work before being put into play: the slow  processing of coal, of chemical products, of minerals in their gangue, etc….

            With the Knight of Batons, this internal processing is indicated by the horse, force organized but without personal action, for its head is white, and if its blue mane is suggestive of the energy in spiritual things, its caparison, flesh colored, weights him down by enveloping him in matter, but as it is woven of the vital forces, it assures the activity of its internal undertaking. The immobility of the horse shows the passivity necessary for this internal work; it equally serves as a seat supporting the certainty that matters will be firmed up on the physical plane.

            The thrust of energy across matter to ascend onto a higher plane is indicated by the vertical direction of the baton and its up-and-down position.

Specific Analogies

            As opposed to the Page who leans on his staff planted on the ground, symbolizing thus someone ready for the hike through earthly life, the Knight of Batons, through the advancement suggested by his horse, represents someone moving towards his own evolution.

            The horse has its head turned to the sight and its legs hidden in order to indicate that man in his physical life is unaware and must not know of the advancement he is stepping towards; however, his shoes are visible and colored blue to show that he is surely guided by a spiritual force. The appearance of the horse, its knowing gait, its pointed ears, its blue mane, all show that the abstract plane is not inattentive to the physical plane.

            The yellow baton and its red top signify that Man, having started out by trudging through matter, is drawing its strength (the symbol of the Baton) and is advancing with intelligence from Above, while remaining in contact with matter, but without being directed by it. The Knight looks attentively at his baton, because his glance, a symbol of intelligent whiffs [“effluves intelligents”], is turned towards a symbol of force.

            His hat, in the shape of an 8, shows by the arrangement of its colors—blue, yellow, and red—that the forces have been set up in balance at the instigation of the anima, clothed in intelligence, expressed in the physical world by mental activities.

            The sumptuousness of his clothes represent the knowledge acquired through successive lives, and his general appearance represents the mastery which a man is able to acquire by drawing on inspiration from the forces Above.

            The four points on his hip, along with the flower with four petals on his knee, indicate the material doings of the Knight, while the seven points of the harness show that the work of energies is done in all its modes, because the septenary symbolizes symbolizes all vibratory ranges. These numbers also establish a link between the Knight of Batons and the Emperor (Card IV) in the same way as the Chariot does (Card VII).

            The flesh-colored stirrup emphasizes that the fulcrum which permits this accession, this evolution is on a physical plane, and the red strap, the nerves supporting physical activity.

            The significance of the ground is the same as it is for the Knight of Swords.

Meanings As They Relate to the Three Planes

            MENTAL. Intelligent and intuitive activity in the material world, happy achievement.

            ANIMISTIC. Reconciliation in matters of feeling of any kind: amity, affection, fellowship. Protective activity: things veiled for incubating them more easily.

            PHYSICAL. Harmonious achievement. Success in business. A happy result in a current case. From the point of view of health, hope for people convalescing for the recovery of their health, for a renewal of life.

            INVERTED. Delay, resistance.

*

            In sum, in its elementary sense, the Knight of Batons represents the incubation by Man of material energies put at his disposal, until he is able to make use of them at his convenience.

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Queen of Swords

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Synthetic Meaning

            Represented by a woman turned towards the left, with white hair, crowned, sitting on a large throne and tall throne and holding a red sword upright, the Queen of Swords symbolizes the all-powerful role that enlightened intuition plays in judgement, to which mental activities must subordinate themselves when they are exercised over matter.

Analytic Meaning

            The Queens signify passivity, subconscious intuition, that is to say, mental and animistic assimilation, which permits enlightened and inspired understanding, because they wear a crown and, with the exception of the Queen of Coins, they have white hair spilling onto their shoulders.

            The crown, with its shape suggesting radiance, has its source from subtle planes. With its flowers, centers of attraction, it reflects cosmic principles and shows that the Queens have access to the Universal.

            Her white hair represents a complex and synthetized radiance of mentality, while its scattered locks denote a great willpower, without being dominated by one side or the other–that is, by the left pole over the right or vice-versa.

            The passivity of the Queens is expressed by their sitting position and, except for the Queen of Batons, by their orientation towards the left. This posture is more boldly expressed by the Queen of Swords, since her incubation is deeper than that of the other Queens, and it is reinforced by the close fitting of her clothing, signifying that her workings are confined to within.

            In sum, her pose and attendant characteristics underline the specifically mental nature of the card.

Specific Analogies

            The sword which she holds indicates that her role is to judge, since a sword slices, decides between two things, symbolizing judgement, and this must be impersonal and inspired by synthetic points of view, as the Queen’s white hair defines it.

            This sword is red, because we ask it for solutions in the material world, and its hilt guard is yellow in order to show that intelligence must intervene by avoiding judgement subservient to the material world. Her gaze directed towards the red sword on the left equally indicates that she must dive into herliabilities, that is to say, into her achievements in the physical world, to develop the elements of her decision.

            The points marked on her crown, collar, and belt recall her accordance with the cosmic properties and her affinity with the Majors, being the same in number. Those of the crown, numbering 12, connect it with the first 12 cards and make it more active when it is with one of them; moreover, 12 forms a complete evolutionary cycle, and a judgement is satisfactorily made only when it embraces the entire evolution of the question.

            The 8 points of her collar and her belt show her affinity with Card VIII, and present with it similarities of fate; but as appertains to the Minors, that is to say to elementary principles, its action is less copious, less extensive, less powerful, and less concrete than that of Card VIII. The points on her collar have the sense of animistic judgement and those of her belt, a practical sense.

Meanings As They Relate to the Three Planes

            MENTAL. Judgement obtained through intuition.

            ANIMISTIC. The protection of feelings through an intimate sense of their consequences.

            PHYSICAL. Absence of action, because it comes from the mind and its passivity prevents it from bringing change, such as for example in a dispute. In a business matter, it offers nothing. In a health issue, it shows that the doctor or the remedy is acting for the best, without giving any result.

            INVERTED. Very bad, because she is submitting to all injustices, to all judgements, to slanders.

       *

In its Elementary Sense, the Queen of Swords represents the obligation for Man not to act without having consulted his intuition, awaking through the concentration of knowledge on the question forming the object of his mental activities.

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Queen of Coins

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Synthetic Meaning

            Holding in her left hand a scepter topped with a floral motif and holding up a coin in her right hand, in profile and almost standing, the Queen of Coins, with her crown thrown back on her blue hair, suggests powerful internal working of an animistic order to assure, in their best state, the preparation and the organization of exchanges between the individual and her environment.

Analytic Meaning

            The crown suggests radiance in the Universal; here it is pushed back on her headandbarely visible when the Queen of Coins is seen from the front. This shows Universal access is not the goal sought by her, and that her action, in conformity with the meaning of the Coin, must be directed towards material working.  This position of the crown also indicates, by its receding position on her head, a psychic and mental condensation, coming from the past, and forming the skills that serve as the basis for the favorable making of exchanges; the inner netting and the outer flowers symbolize the means for penetrating into matter.

Specific Analogies

            Her posture, half-sitting and in profile towards the left, brings to mind the activity which characterizes the Coin, but it is activity exercised by necessity on the interior, since the Coin is passive; this shows an intimate effort towards a solution close to any constructive question considered by the Queen of Coins, who has completed the preparation for the active work of the King of Coins. The Green throne reinforces her support in the physical world, and the yellow border, her intellectuality.

            The blue color of her hair shows that she is clairvoyant and that her designs are essentially intuitive; her clothing of a similar color reinforces this tone since it shows her entirely enveloped in psychism.

            The scepter, black like the coin, recalls the obscurity which reigns between the three zones of the coin and which exists in intuition, whose formation always remains secret; the flowers at the end show the development of the concentration achieved by the Queen of Coins.

            The coin, presented face-forward, makes manifest the wealth provided by the Queen; it is positioned on her fingers and held high to show that the action which she has prepared is ready to be put to use, as well as her attraction to higher states which the Queen has put in rapport with the physical plane.

            The belt, separating her chest from her abdomen, symbolizes mutual support and conciliation between the animistic and material dispositions; the 12 points which appear there show that they are at the end of a cycle and are oriented towards the Universal. The large yellow stripe connecting the flesh-colored belt to the collar of the same color, shows the divine intelligence illuminating her psychic activity.

Meanings As They Relate to the Three Planes

            MENTAL.  Assurance of success in one’s research undertakings, especially those of an abstract order.

            ANIMISTIC. Comfort, strong affection, power, radiance.

            PHYSICAL. Good health; in the case of sickness, certainty of recovery. Business matters in good order and conducted rationally.

            INVERTED. All kinds of embarrassment, confusion, great difficulties in extricating oneself from bad situations, because the means which the Queen possesses to act over matter encumber her and trap her there.

*

            In its Basic Meaning, the Queen of Coins represents the latent and intuitive work of Man, which must precede all construction and change so that such things may be realized in their optimum state.

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Forward to Paul Marteau’s LE TAROT DE MARSEILLE

[by Eugène Caslant]

ROUGH DRAFT (A very rough draft, in fact)

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            If one were to attempt to show a man of science the value and the divinatory properties of the Tarot, it is likely that the demonstration would be met with skepticism, if not irony, since the Tarot would provoke in him the memory of card readers, fortune tellers, and he would regard it entirely as a product of superstition and a means of exploiting human credulity.

            Perhaps he would change his mind by considering that it necessary to challenge one’s preconceived notions, that more often a remnant of the past as enduring as Tarot conceals an original and profound meaning which may have been obscured by the notions of the present. Possibly, when remembering that the Tarot has engendered the cards, that is, one of the principal instruments of passions of gaming, would he seek out the cause for the role which they play in humanity, and would he want to know why people would submit themselves to risks of their own devising, with the hope of obtaining from them their fortune, whereas too often they only reap disappointments? And wouldn’t he be inclined to wonder whether this attraction of the cards for people came from profound sources?

            People will receive a response if they take the trouble to examine how they arrive at knowledge; then they will recollect that the logical modes which they employ in the search for knowledge are primarily reasoning based on identification and reasoning based on analogy. The former serves as the basis for the modern sciences, from which are derived mathematics and most branches which are taught in our schools. The second is used by Nature; this one ignores our so-called exact sciences, which in reality are nothing but abstract methods, born from our heads, chosen by us because their mechanism is easily adapted to the imperfection of our faculties.  Nature does not accept rigorous reasoning, whose lack of flexibility would paralyze its efforts, since it never creates two things which are identical; it only knows qualities and, to organize these qualities among themselves, it is based on analogies and proceeds by affinity.

            Also, to understand the laws and principles of Nature, it would be necessary to determine the analogical links which connect everything. But this operation, by the immensity and complexity of the elements which it encompasses, beyond the reach of human understanding, so that it can only be realized by limiting it to the study of the simplest and most accessible connections to our spirit. However, those who meet these conditions must enter the framework of tangible things and, therefore, take the aspect of the forms which are familiar to us. They then serve as a basis and allow a glimpse of other levels through their similarity. This is how people have been driven to resort to symbolism, which is to say to the transference of cosmic laws to the physical world, by making them concrete, in the form of pictorial scenes. Such are the causes which have led people in times past to conceive of the images of the Tarot.

            What knowledge do we have about the origins of the Tarot and the vicissitudes of form and interpretation which it has undergone across the ages?

            A chronicle of Giovanni de Juzzo de Caveluzo, preserved in the archives of Viterbe, fixes the time when the cards appear in Europe in the following passage:

            “In the year 1379 was introduced to Viterbe the game of cards which came from the land of the Saracens and which is called “Naïb” among them.”

            This shows that the cards have a very foreign origin. If we put historical writings aside and look to the oral tradition and to certain books such as those of Paravey[1], or Moreau de Dammartin[2], the Tarot goes back to the Egyptians who themselves may have borrowed it from anterior races. We may suppose that the elite of these peoples, in contemplation of the heavens, perceived in the groupings of stars and the movement of the planets, the manifestation of cosmic laws, which their sense of symbolism expressed in a series of images. Each of these, through the arrangement of their colors, objects, and figures, highlighted, with their implications, the principles which their authors had recognized. Their number and their sequence was determined by the rules of analogy, and their organization, to which was given the name of Tarot, constituted a synthesis, which offered a summation of the evolution of the universe. According to the authors whom we have cited, these images, schematized to the furthest extent, have been the origin of hieroglyphic writings. Moreau de Dammartin, in support of these ideas, combines many constellations and draws them in such a way so as to represent “The Bateleur” in the sky and some other Lames of Tarot along with the alphabetic signs which correspond to them.

            Anyway, according to oral tradition, the Lames of the Tarot constitute a pictorial representation of the history of the world and their combinations express the undulating and various play of universal forces. This is why those who wielded these Lames felt that their combination, if it were done in affinity with the mental or emotional projection of the querent, would be able to detect the cosmic law in play and revel, up to a certain point, his or her destiny.

            The consequence of these origins was to present the Tarot in three aspects: one symbolic, another divinatory, and the third related to various combinations. From these result three currents: the initial one, accessible only to analogical minds, represents the Tarot proper; the second, called fortune telling, used by cartomancers, is translated by the figures derived and degraded from the original Tarot; the third, which is only concerned with selection and creating combinations, constitutes playing cards.

            This triple current has given birth to innumerable images varying by particular details, by the nature of the figures, by meanings philosophical, ritualistic, or humorous which we have wanted to attribute to them, but relating with some degree of fidelity and fantasy to the principles of Tarot. Thus, besides playing cards, we find either a multitude of decks representing scenes and historical, political or satirical figures, or groups of symbolic images suitable for facilitating divination, such as those of Mademoiselle Lenormand who, it is said, had predicted to Bonaparte his destiny; or finally, drawings intended to reconstruct the original Tarot, as much from personal inspiration as from the data of ancient works, such as those of Etteila, Eliphas Levi, Papus, Stanislas de Guaita, or Oswald Wirth, composed in the previous century and at the beginning of this one.

            What must one think about this mass of images, which of them are the most interesting? Does there exist one of them which stands out among the others and which deserves particular attention? It was up to Paul Marteau to answer that question.

            Paul Marteau, grand master cartier of France, is one of the directors of the House of Grimaud whose renown for the manufacture of decks of cards is worldwide. He ignores nothing of what has been said or done with respect to cards. Merely to walk into his office, lined with decks of every kind and from all periods, is sufficient to attest to his competence in such a field. He recognizes their value, he knows how to describe all their particulars with humor. But in his eyes no deck is comparable to the ancient Tarot called “Marseilles,” because, according to him, it conforms most to the tradition and is the richest in analogical meanings. As its design is mystifying and the profundity of its symbols, which can only be appreciated through minute analysis, has resulted in its neglect, Paul Marteau has thought it advisable to call attention to it and to present his interpretation of it to the public.

            This is why he first re-edited it with such care, then composed the present book in which he is eager to show to the reader that nothing in this Tarot has been left to chance, that the designs have been conceived in such a way so as to give a meaning to the smallest details, that the colors are always appropriate for the master idea of each Lame, and that the whole thing reveals a transcending philosophy. His work does not cover, therefore, either the history of the cards or even any critical commentary about the conception of the Tarot of Marseille. He treats solely of its symbolism.

            A delicate operation, which is easily made apparent when considering the difficulties of the problem. Few are the things which one can use as a starting point or for support. As a point of departure, there are some rules of symbolism: it is known, for example, that in general yellow signifies intelligence or spiritual things, blue psychism or a mystic state, red the passions or the appetites. In support of this, there are commentaries published on similar Tarots, but besides that most of them are only concerned with the 22 Majors and leave the 56 Minor Arcana in the dark, they scarcely go beyond the philosophy of their authors and their designs are incomplete or distorted, since they have neglected to represent that which they have misunderstood. On the other hand, little is known about the origins of the Tarot of Marseille. Certain characteristics of design, the form of costume and of the faces lead one to suppose that it goes back to the middle of the 16th century and that it has been traced to Germany. According to the occult tradition, it would a reproduction, adapted to the clothing of the present epoque, of a more ancient Tarot belonging to the Greeks in Phocee—the ancient Marseille—who themselves had taken it from the Egyptians.

            Faced with such meager information, it was necessary to proceed often with a minute analysis, often through synthesis,  in order to interpret the minor nuances of the images and organize them in a way so that the results form a coherent and rational whole. This arduous work still remains insufficient if we consider that the Tarot, in order to make flexible all the laws of nature and of the Cosmos which it purposes to reflect, had to adapt the elements of its design, its colors, shapes and presentations, to the specific meaning of each Lame, without however deviating from their principle meaning. The white, for example, a synthesis of all colors, indicates among other nuances, the abstract, nothingness, or repose; the abstract, if the card envisages it as a symbol of the universal; nothingness or a negation, if it is considered from a material and tangible point of view where there is no abstraction; repose, if it is attached to some idea of action or inertia. The red signifies, sometimes, the stagnation of the soul in matter, and sometimes, in a more concrete sense, the impulsivity of the instincts and animal passions. This results in a multitude of nuances which are not only difficult to appreciate, but also are beyond the means of expression of the French language, rich as it is.

            Another difficult lurks in the extent of the meanings which a single symbol may indicate. For to interpret a symbol is to discover by analogy the idea which is attached to this or that pose, this or that contour; more exactly, it is to establish the passage from the concrete to the abstract; but this is a passage from the most down-to-earth meaning to that which derives from the highest metaphysics, and it travels from one extreme to the other through an indefinite series of levels. Consider, for example, the first four Lames of the Tarot which form an ensemble: the Bateleur, the Papesse, the Impératrice, the Empereur, and let’s consider them first in their higher sense.

            The Bateleur signifies the first emanation, and, consequently, it represents the nebulous laws which preside over its development. The Papesse symbolizes the universal matrix, and with the book which she holds on her knees and which describes all the cosmic combinations, she draws the ideograms, which she projects in space and they become the germs of worlds. The Impératrice is the universal Fate and she weaves the threads of cosmic destinies with which the Empereur constructs worlds.

            In their lower and concrete meaning corresponding to human undertakings, the Bateleur is no more than just the beginning of something, whose outcome is indicated by the cards which surround him, the Papesse becomes the appearance of something unexpected, the Imperatrice is a gestation, an unknown factor which one must await to emerge, and the Empereur is domination over the unstable, an ephemeral power, a momentary plan.

            We can arrive at another interpretation of the Lames, then, purely abstract, when interpreting by analogy the significance of the numbers inscribed at the top of each card. The I (Le Bateleur) signifies the beginning of all things, the primordial principle, the action taken in its essence; the 2 (La Papesse) constitutes, on the contrary, the essence of passivity, because the two things united which comprise it, from a qualifying point of view, are taken in an inverse sense, they are opposed to each other.  They engender, through their collision, a movement in place, a dynamic stabilization, which symbolizes any substance with the mysteries which she contains and which she owes to the effect of her receptivity to universal forces.  The 3 (L’Impératrice), which characterizes the notion of “succession” (1 + 1 + 1), symbolizes the evolutionary passage from one plane to another; there is, in the Trinity, the current which goes from the Father to the Son and from the Son to the Father through the Holy Spiri. The 4 (L’Empereur), or 2 opposed to 2, indicates a double polarity which, depending on whether or not they oppose or conciliate each other, are represented by the square and the cross, expressing matter with its four elements (fire, air, water, earth), or the balance of forces in constructive action.

            Between these extremes there are multiple transitions. Paul Marteau could not think of touching on all of them; he had to make a choice and stick to an arena accessible to the public and likely to be of interest. He stopped at the psychic level, as the Tarot had led him to it, that is to say, at the oscillations of the human soul between the embracing of matter and the call of the Divine.

            Added to this limitation is another: the Tarot subordinates its philosophy to that of numbers, that is to say, to their analogic laws. Logic would have liked for Paul Marteau, in order to make his deductions comprehensible, to offer a preliminary presentation on the symbolism of numbers. By doing so, he would have satisfied readers eager to see the interpretations resting on a logical base. Besides the fact that this would have been a tedious task because of its abstraction, it would have required a supplementary volume; so he had to reduce his examination of numbers to that which was strictly necessary for the understanding of the Tarot.

            Besides, criticism is easy in a field which does not include the rational form of our contemporary sciences. This is why, we repeat, Paul Marteau did not want to conduct a reasoned study of Tarot in general, nor criticize what may be good or defective, complete or incomplete, in the Tarot of Marseille; he has sought out the meaning and has revealed it to the reader so that he may appreciate for himself a work which human wisdom has given birth to over the centuries.

EUGÈNE CASLANT

L’Ecole Polytechnique

ROUGH DRAFT


[1] (Le Chevalier Charles -Hippolyte de Paravey, orienataliste français, 1787-1871. —Différents ouvrages:  overview of the manuscripts which were still handwritten, about the origin of the globe, the age of the Zodiacs, etc., Paris, 1835. — Confirmation of the Bible and the Egyptian and Greek traditions, by the hieroglyphic books discovered in China, Paris, 1838. — Astronomical knowledge of the ancient peoples of Egypt and Asia about the satellites of Jupier and the rings of Saturn, etc., Paris, 1835— Hieoryglyph documents seized by Assyria and preserved in China and in America about the first Flood of Noah, etc., Paris, 1839. — Essays on the unique origin and the hieroglyphics of numbers and letters of all peoples, preceded by a quick glance at the History of the World, between the age of the Creation and the Age of Nabonassar, and about certain ideas about the Formation of the First of all writings, which existed before the Deluge, and which was the Hieroglyphic system. Paris, Treuttel nad Wurtz, 1826.— Illustrations of Hieroglyphic Astronomy and the Planispheres and Zodiacs discovered n Egypt, in Chaldea, in India and from Japon, Paris, Delabaye, 1835. —A new consideration about the Planisphere of Dendera, etc., Paris, Treuttel et Wutz, 1835. — On the Sphere and the Constellations of the ancient Hieroglyphic Astronomy, etc., Paris, 1835.

[2] Origin of the shape of the alphabetic characters of all nations, the Chinese keys, the Egyptian Hieroglyphics, etc., by Moreau de Dammartin, member of the Historic Institute, Paris, 1839.

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