August 19, 2020

Today, I came along a video lecture (1:13 h) by Colin Low about the tarot’s history. This presentation gives a good overview of when and where the tarot emerged. I learned a lot. Did you know that there were playing cards that had female knight cards?

I also continued the General Book of the Tarot by A. E. Thierens (1930). I said earlier that reading Thierens’ associations of the Major Arcana with astrological signs and planets and his explanations of the cards is painful. The pain didn’t stop. I read 57% of the book which covers all cards of the Major Arcana. I intended to read the whole book, but this only seems a waste of time. 

Thierens often cites Papus who associates each letter of the Hebrew alphabet to one of the cards of the Major Arcana. I do not know if Thierens did make mistakes in his citations or if Papus really gave such seemingly odd associations as Thierens cites. For example, he says that the Hebrew letter Beth is related to the High Priestess and that Beth “relates to the mouth of man as the organ of speech”. From what I have learned, it is the letter Pey that relates to the mouth. The letter Beth carries the meaning of house, and family. The Lovers card is according to Thierens associated with Virgo, and Papus associates the letter Vav here, of which he says that it signifies the eye, and all that relates to light and brilliance. Commonly, the letter Ayin carries the signification of the eye, seeing, and knowing. The letter Vav pictures a tent peg and means to secure, to hook. There are many more strange associations and explanations in Thierens’ book.

The associations and interpretations of the Major Arcana by Thierens seem mixed up and confused. I think this is because he wants to make the cards fit to the order of the astrological signs beginning from Aries, at the same time including Papus’ associations and interpretations with the Hebrew alphabet. At this point, it seems that associating the first twelve cards of the Major Arcana to the twelve signs of the zodiac in their order from Aries to Pisces (as Thierens does) is not reasonable.

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