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Kabbalah, astrology, SKT, and various decks


Misterei

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@Natural Mystic Guide said in response to question whether astrology was in traditional Jewish Kabbalah

<<I am too ignorant to be able to answer that question.  I do look forward to understanding it better in the future.  Studying Jewish astrology is on my list.  Jewish astrology is a strong and well developed branch of Jewish knowledge.  At one time it was required study for every Rabbi.  The other question that I look forward to answering is what correlation is there between Jewish astrology and other well established branches of astrology.  Since both Kabbalah and astrology were flourishing at the same time it seem that there must have been overlaps.>>

 

Now this is an interesting take. Somewhere out here in the interwebs (I wish I could remember) there was a controversy on this subject. One side said that practicing astrology and fortune telling was forbidden in the Jewish holy books. This side of the argument said that the ancient jews did NOT practice astrology. But then someone found a picture of a very old temple ... and it had a a beautiful zodiac mosaic right in the middle of the temple floor. That mosaic in the ancient temple kinda seems like not only were they practicing astrology ... but it was revered.

 

OTOH, astrology has different functions. For example, the zodiac is a calendar and almanac even if you don't get into the mystical or predictive sides of it. Did the ancient Jews revere it as a calendar? Or as a mystical system? Or both?

Middle Ages - Renaissance Europeans and Arabs definitely used astrology predictively. Indian astrologers also used it this way and still do.

 

@Natural Mystic Guide said

<<It is validating to hear that you reached s similar conclusion to me re.  western hermetic kabbala for your own independent reasons.  Because I am immersing myself in studying the SKT and Benebell Wen's Tarot work, of necessity, I must understand the basics of this western hermetic kabbala.  It doesn't mean I have to like it.>>

 

Yes, I also studied the basics (VERY basic) because you can't escape this "hermetic kabbala" if you're going to be serious about working with RWS or Thoth, and apparently SKT. LOL and it doesn't mean I have to like it!

 

In the end I gave myself permission to ignore most of the kabbala and some of the astrology in RWS/GD based decks.

I began applying Vedic Astrology (which is quite similar to Renaissance astrology) by my own system and it made more sense.

 

 

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Natural Mystic Guide
8 hours ago, Misterei said:

practicing astrology and fortune telling was forbidden

The most recent thing that I read about this topic made a lot of sense.  Jews were forbidden to go to non-Jews for astrology, 'fortune telling' or divination, and dream interpretation.  As long as you went to a Jewish practitioner, it was kosher.  I can think of Jewish based reasons why fortune telling by whomever might be deleterious to one's spiritual growth. IMHO these continue to hold true for anyone.

 

I am so ignorant about astrology.  Can you recommend a thumbnail sketch online that gives the highlights of the differences between Vedic astrology and modern astrology?  So glad that you have arrived at something that works for you and gives you peace of mind.

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On 9/6/2023 at 1:18 AM, Misterei said:

@DanielJUK

sure, whatever. It started on Nemia's thread and at a certain point I was afraid we were overstaying our welcome.

 

Oh NO. You're more than welcome to my obscure little corner of this forum, bringing light and warmth and interest ❤️

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On 9/5/2023 at 11:46 PM, Natural Mystic Guide said:

The most recent thing that I read about this topic made a lot of sense.  Jews were forbidden to go to non-Jews for astrology, 'fortune telling' or divination, and dream interpretation.  As long as you went to a Jewish practitioner, it was kosher.  I can think of Jewish based reasons why fortune telling by whomever might be deleterious to one's spiritual growth. IMHO these continue to hold true for anyone.

 

I am so ignorant about astrology.  Can you recommend a thumbnail sketch online that gives the highlights of the differences between Vedic astrology and modern astrology?  So glad that you have arrived at something that works for you and gives you peace of mind.

OK the thing about the Jews vs. non-jews is now making more sense. We know in the bible that the jews did fortune telling by drawing lots. For which the fancy word is sortilege. Then there are accounts of Jews in 1200s Spain getting arrested for reading cards ... but if they were reading for other ppl in their community and if they just considered cards as a fancy form of drawing lots (sortilege) ...? Hmmm.

 

LOL every religion has those who bend the rules };>

 

Vis a vis astrology ... there are loads of books ... but I have a pretty short version on my website ... which I guess you have to link through my signature line ...

I get this question all the time!

 

Mod Edit: Own Link Removed

Edited by Misterei
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Natural Mystic Guide

Another account of Jewish divination was the breastplate or ephod or choshen mishpat that the High Priest would wear.  I think that it was largely used for making military strategy choices.  The stones in the breastplate would light up giving the answers.

 

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Hi, we don't allow sharing links to our own sites in any areas outside of our signatures or the promotion areas. It seems helpful to post our own writings on a topic but it breaches the self-promotion rule and I have had to remove the link and discussion about the site from the recent posts. Thanks for your understanding about our no self-promotion rule.

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On 9/9/2023 at 6:06 AM, Misterei said:

Then there are accounts of Jews in 1200s Spain getting arrested for reading cards

 

I hope I don't sound pedantic but I'm curious about this because I remember that playing cards were introduced in Europe in the 14th century. Maybe they were using other kinds of cards for their readings? 

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On 9/9/2023 at 8:26 PM, Akhilleus said:

I hope I don't sound pedantic but I'm curious about this because I remember that playing cards were introduced in Europe in the 14th century. Maybe they were using other kinds of cards for their readings? 

@Akhilleus yes they were reading playing cards. Which supposedly arrived in Spain 1200s. [later edit:1300s]

My understanding is that playing cards went from the Mamluks (in Levant and North Africa) to Spain via Egypt and Morocco pretty early.

At least according my "amateur historian" research ... not like I have a PhD in art history or anything };>

Edited by Misterei
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Natural Mystic Guide
On 9/10/2023 at 11:26 AM, Akhilleus said:

Then there are accounts of Jews in 1200s Spain getting arrested for reading cards

This is a fascinating topic.  I realize that we cannot post links, here.  Google:  torahtarot  and you will find a great website by Stav Appel.  You can also search torahtarot on Instagram for great information.

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17 minutes ago, Natural Mystic Guide said:

This is a fascinating topic.  I realize that we cannot post links, here.  Google:  torahtarot  and you will find a great website by Stav Appel.  You can also search torahtarot on Instagram for great information.

@Natural Mystic Guide I had a quick look. Fascinating. I'm low-key angry, though. I'm working on the powerpoint for a class I teach in October ... and I just wrote about how the Kabbalah in Tarot was artificially imposed by Eteilla, De Gebelin, and Levi. Now I've got to redo those slides. *sigh*.

I don't go on IG ... but I just found the History section on his website.

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@Misterei Thanks for the clarification!

 

@Natural Mystic Guide That is fascinating. I liked how he associated each major with a Biblical figure. I'm just a tad wary of his claims because as he himself noted in his lengthy but informative history of the Marseilles Tarot, what he proposes does go in the face of what serious scholars like Dummett have stated about the Tarot's secular history. But hey, we should always be open to novel ideas, though we should not hesitate to put these under intense scrutiny. 

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Natural Mystic Guide
4 hours ago, Misterei said:

Fascinating. I'm low-key angry

I have been mid-key angry for some time.  Reading Appel's history just made me cry.  Then I felt vindicated and understood my anger (and revulsion for Western Hermetic kabbalah) much better -- basically these guys just ripped off the term and the superficial framework of a mystical system to lend an aura of mystique and credibility to their inventions -- which have very little to do with true Kabbalah.  In their process, they have created a great deal of confusion and obfuscation.

Edited by Natural Mystic Guide
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Natural Mystic Guide
1 hour ago, Akhilleus said:

we should always be open to novel ideas, though we should not hesitate to put these under intense scrutiny

Agreed.  Agreed.  I'm not swallowing the whole thing hook line and sinker.  I'm observing and following along with great interest.  New stuff keeps surfacing on the IG page.

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13 hours ago, Akhilleus said:

@Misterei Thanks for the clarification!

 

@Natural Mystic Guide That is fascinating. I liked how he associated each major with a Biblical figure. I'm just a tad wary of his claims because as he himself noted in his lengthy but informative history of the Marseilles Tarot, what he proposes does go in the face of what serious scholars like Dummett have stated about the Tarot's secular history. But hey, we should always be open to novel ideas, though we should not hesitate to put these under intense scrutiny. 

@Akhilleus LOL I just hope I don't have it wrong!

I personally think Dummett went too far. It's like we have the fanciful fakelore folks on one side ... and the hard-core secular fundamentalists on the other side ... and reality is nearly always somewhere in the middle.

 

Games of chance have ALWAYS been associated with fortune telling.

The first dice were carved from bones ... likely b/c bones were used for Osteomancy (bone divination).

Dice were used for gaming and fortune telling (Astragalomancy).

Are we to believe early playing cards and tarots weren't used by fortune tellers? B/c they're so different from dice? Really?

Seems to me humans use any nifty new invention to tell fortunes. Even AI.

11 hours ago, Natural Mystic Guide said:

I have been mid-key angry for some time.  Reading Appel's history just made me cry.  Then I felt vindicated and understood my anger (and revulsion for Western Hermetic kabbalah) ... basically these guys just ripped off the term and the superficial framework of a mystical system to lend an aura of mystique and credibility to their inventions -- which have very little to do with true Kabbalah.  In their process, they have created a great deal of confusion and obfuscation.

@Natural Mystic Guide Haha. Mid-key angry.

In one respect, Appel's ideas realistically explain how De Gabelin and Eteilla might have started their whole Kabbalah obsession ... through contact with Jewish mystics who were, of course, unnamed and hiding their religion. They got zero credit.

On the flip, side some of his theories don't hold water historically vis a vs the historical connections between Tarocchi and TdM.

Still I re-did those slides and the (short) Kabbalah section in my course manual. I felt that his work should be mentioned even if I don't agree with all his conclusions. It's a sort of cultural co-opting to have a Kabbalah that doesn't credit the Jews.

You mention "confusion and obfuscation". The original Tarocchi Triunfi encoded neo-platonic and Hermetic principles "hidden in plain sight" from the Inquisition. People often get mad if I say that ... and tell me, "No, it's Kabbalah ..."

LOL but they don't mean actual Jewish Kabbalah. *sigh*

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8 hours ago, Misterei said:

I personally think Dummett went too far. It's like we have the fanciful fakelore folks on one side ... and the hard-core secular fundamentalists on the other side ... and reality is nearly always somewhere in the middle.

 

Games of chance have ALWAYS been associated with fortune telling.

The first dice were carved from bones ... likely b/c bones were used for Osteomancy (bone divination).

Dice were used for gaming and fortune telling (Astragalomancy).

Are we to believe early playing cards and tarots weren't used by fortune tellers? B/c they're so different from dice? Really?

Seems to me humans use any nifty new invention to tell fortunes. Even AI.

 

@Misterei Maybe it's my training, but when it comes to issues of historical veracity, I'd almost always lean towards the side supported by weightier evidence. That does not mean that I'll brand all other viewpoints as verboten and their adherents as irrational. I don't believe in ostracizing people due to their beliefs - all theories and speculation should still be allowed to circulate and either be supported or debunked in the marketplace of ideas. But unless there's unquestionable evidence that the Tarot or playing cards were indeed used in divination during the Middle Ages - like in mentions in various verified memoirs of the era, for example, or in the period's literature or even in genuine grimoires - then while I find Appel's theories indubitably compelling and very highly possible, if I am asked to weigh in I will honestly say that since the current facts support Dummett then I simply believe him more. 

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Natural Mystic Guide
8 hours ago, Misterei said:

It's a sort of cultural co-opting to have a Kabbalah that doesn't credit the Jews

Thanks for your sensitivity.  Yes all of history is one big hodge podge of re-writes, cultural co-opting, and syncretization.  We do our best to wade through it all and be nice, tolerant, sensitive people.  Hermetic kabbalah certainly has a thriving life on its own and brings order and meaning for lots of people.  Like it or not, it is here to stay.  To function as a Tarot reader in the world, I need to have that basic knowledge.  I love systems.  I've just never been into the whole Crowley thing (and now I better understand why).  When I read stuff that is written in that vein, my eyes kind of cross over and my brain just turns off.  Maybe I'm not smart enough?  Maybe I'm too smart?  Maybe I'm too Jewish?  Maybe I'm not Jewish enough?

 

8 minutes ago, Akhilleus said:

unless there's unquestionable evidence that the Tarot or playing cards were indeed used in divination during the Middle Ages

I don't think that Appel is saying that.  I think he is saying (and Dovid Drafchow author of Kabbalistic Tarot who speculates that the Jews were gambling with Tarot cards during the Hellenization of Israel) that Jews were not using the cards for divination but as a clandestine way of studying Torah by pretending to gamble with cards that had secret coded information embedded in the cards. 

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1 hour ago, Akhilleus said:

Maybe it's my training, but when it comes to issues of historical veracity, I'd almost always lean towards the side supported by weightier evidence.

Fair enough. But this strategy sort of falls short when we're talking about things that were kept secret or driven underground.  Anyhow, we do have some records. For examples arrest records for fortune tellers using cards. And a 1500s literary reference to telling fortunes with Tarocchi cards in Italy. So I feel I've seen some pretty credible evidence.

 

@Akhilleus said

<<But unless there's unquestionable evidence that the Tarot or playing cards were indeed used in divination during the Middle Ages - like in mentions in various verified memoirs of the era, for example, or in the period's literature >>

 

Yes, I think we do have some of that. Not in grimoires. In arrest records. Passing mentions in literary sources. Per above.

Also in common sense. Pretend you're a fortune teller in Spain in the 1300s ...

Why would you NOT use that deck of playing cards your husband got at the Tavern?

Not as some super fancy occult tool ... just as a way to cast lots. Fortune tellers of the time used dice ...

 

@Akhilleus

<<if I am asked to weigh in I will honestly say that since the current facts support Dummett then I simply believe him>>

 

chacun à son goût. I think Dummett ignored a few facts and maybe missed a few art references. I'm with you on needing to scrutinize fakelore and false claims ...  even the phrase Major Arcana is steeped in fraud ... but sometimes the "debunkers" have an axe to grind.

 

God save me from the atheists who are SO SURE there can be no God due to lack of evidence. And the science fundamentalists who are SO SURE no one can ever predict the future b/c ... ya know ... science. Funny thing is ... go deeply enough into science and it starts looking mystical.

 

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Oh, my apologies @Natural Mystic Guide. The Marseilles history on the torahtarot website seems to have been cut short, ending with the decline of European Jewry in 1648 and the creation of the Noblet Marseilles two years after that. I assumed that since the topic of divination was introduced, the continuation of his discussion on the Noblet and the Kabbalah touches on that without verifying this for myself, which I should not have done. What I emphasized before that was that the hidden lessons on the Torah that he ascribed upon the Noblet run counter to Dummet et al's view of the Tarot's secular history before Gebelin. It seems to need more sturdy evidence to buttress his claims, though again they do seem very compelling. We are in agreement regarding that though. 

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1 hour ago, Natural Mystic Guide said:

... Hermetic kabbalah certainly has a thriving life on its own and brings order and meaning for lots of people ... I've just never been into the whole Crowley thing ...  When I read stuff that is written in that vein, my eyes kind of cross over and my brain just turns off.  Maybe I'm not smart enough?  Maybe I'm too smart?  Maybe I'm too Jewish?  Maybe I'm not Jewish enough?

Both Thoth and RWS decks were based on GD ... and all of that GD based Hermetic Kabbala makes my eyes glaze over. Many years ago i had a Jewish friend who also did Tarot. I would BEG her to teach me how to say the words properly. Even all those years ago, I instinctively felt something artificial about people who couldn't pronounce the words and knew nothing about Judaism ... being so adamant about Kabbalah + Tarot. She's the only person I ever even sort of got into Kabbalah with ... because she could actually say the terminology properly in Hebrew.

 

@Natural Mystic Guide said

<<I don't think that Appel is saying that.  I think he is saying ... that Jews were not using the cards for divination but as a clandestine way of studying Torah by pretending to gamble with cards that had secret coded information embedded in the cards.>>

 

The Rennaissance Italians who invented the Triunfi likely were also hiding "forbidden knowledge" in plain sight. But it was Christianized Neoplatonism and Alchemy. They didn't gamble (so they said). The nobility who owned the first Tarocchis got over on the Inquisition by saying Tarocchi was an instructional game meant to teach a progression toward Christ's wisdom. Playing cards for gambling was illegal. They definitely needed a cover story if they were gambling ... much less gambling with cards that encoded occult secrets };>

 

I don't know if Noblet deck was designed to encode Jewish mythos as Appel theorizes. It's secrets within secrets. Secret Jews hiding their secret mythos in cards. It's not like we have any written evidence ... that's why things got hidden in pictures. And although I'm not a fan of the so-called Hermetic Kabbala ... Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) was supposedly the first Christian to learn Kabbalah. And he was at the accademia neoplatonica di firenze ... but this post is getting waay too long!

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I'm very curious about that @Misterei. Can you point out where I can read about these arrest records and literary reference? Literary references can be interpreted a number of ways, but I think that verified records stating so-and-so and this-or-that were arrested due to cartomantic divination do seem to indicate the possible general existence of the said "crime". These will directly fly in the face of current scholarship about the Tarot's utilization in the Middle Ages!

 

I've also been looking at the established origins of playing cards in Europe, and all of the references I've encountered - Britannica, World of Playing Cards, Wikipedia (yikes!) - state that playing cards (or rather, records affirming their existence) only appeared in Europe in the latter half of the fourteenth century. I've found no account that reports that playing cards existed in Spain in the 1200's. Can you point me out to a reference that states this? 

 

And please don't interpret these as challenges. The thing is, I do recognize that my knowledge of these matters and the resources I can get my hands on only seem to scratch the surface. Evidences that are suppressed in support of the reigning orthodoxy - these are things that I like to get my hands on, if only as a wink to the marvelous possibilities that they promise. I would be very grateful to you for these. 

 

Asking for material historical evidence is very different from asking for "evidence" on the existence of God though. Apples and oranges. And yes, I've had some rather interesting skirmishes with atheists in the past lol. 

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20 hours ago, Akhilleus said:

ICan you point out where I can read about these arrest records and literary reference? Literary references can be interpreted a number of ways,

My dear @Akhilleus

I must thank you for making me go back over my notes and bibliography.

I had my dates too early ... playing cards arrived in Europe 1300s NOT 1200s. You were right. Mea culpa!

 

OTOH ... I always think things are already happening by the time people get around to officially documenting them ... so there's that.

 

Here's an excellent article I very much enjoyed. The author is Ross Caldwell with some nice credentials that impress amateur historians like myself

Ross Caldwell (Toronto, 1966; York University, BA 1992, History, Religious Studies; Harvard Divinity School, MTS program, 1992-1995, History of Religions).

His article can be found online if you search for its title: Brief History of Cartomancy

 

@Akhilleus said

<<but I think that verified records stating so-and-so and this-or-that were arrested due to cartomantic divination do seem to indicate the possible general existence of the said "crime". These will directly fly in the face of current scholarship about the Tarot's utilization in the Middle Ages!>>

 

All my references are from the 1500s ... I couldn't find the one I thought was 1200s. 

1500s came up in my research about the Italian witch La Frappona ...but I don't have the notes handy. Here's one from Caldwell:

"Henry Cuffe, (1563-1601), executed for treason in 1601, had his death foretold twenty years before the event by a “Wizard” with some playing cards."

for 1600s:

"Records of the Inquisition in Spain, collected by Sebastián Cirac Estopañán in 1942,[i] provide other early indications (although not complete descriptions) of how some women read cards in the 16th century. During the witchcraft trial of Margarita de Borja in Madrid (1615-1617), it emerged that she read cards for clients"

I think there's a typo 16th C would be 1500s but she lived in the 1600s.

 

And some literature Caldwell mentions:

"The simplest and earliest card-fortune book, the Mainzer Kartenlosbuch, printed in Mainz around 1505, directly associates each card of a 48-card German-suited pack with an eight-line fortune."

 

This one about Tarot from the 1500s is a literary source I referenced.

"... what many consider the first account of a Tarot divination. Teofilo Folengo (whose pen name was Merlin Coccai), ...

Chaos del Triperuno, 1527:

(Limerno speaks) "...yesterday Giuberto, Focilla, Falcone and Mirtella secretly led me into a room where, since they’d found playing cards of trumps [Tarot], they dealt these according to chance among themselves, and having turned toward me, each one of them explained to me the specific destiny of the trumps received"

 

@Akhilleus

<<And please don't interpret these as challenges.>>

 

THANK YOU for a good challenge! All this stuff goes into my class manuals. I strive to catch mistakes. I'm grateful if other people catch them. God knows I don't want to sound ignorant on a tarot forum };>

 

@Akhilleus

<<The thing is, I do recognize that my knowledge of these matters and the resources I can get my hands on only seem to scratch the surface. >>

 

Scratch the surface is all any of us can do when it comes to the mysteries of Tarot. I try to keep a balance between dry provable history ... but also juicy speculation. The historians who sanitize all the mystery out of Tarot rather miss the point IMO. No scientist or historian will discover anything they've dismissed as "impossible".

 

Meanwhile, I NEVER wish to present speculation as "fact".

 

OTOH ... history is written by the victors. When we talk about fortune telling and witches and the inquisition ... so many UNwritten factors were at play. Tarots themselves were visual in a time where writing or saying the wrong thing could get you burnt at the stake.

 

And then there's the whole class thing that happens even today:

The lower classes didn't necessarily write grimoires or books. By the time we see some educated person writing it in a book ... it's been happening for years already.

 

A similar issue may be why historians say: Kabbalah was added to tarot in the 1700s by deGabelin and Eteilla ... meanwhile maybe the Jews had been doing it secretly for at least 50 years. Just a thought. A bit of juicy speculation.

 

Anyway, totally appreciate your comments and conversation.

Edited by Misterei
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