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To Yod or Not?

On a number of Tarot cards in the RWS deck you can see drop-like things. On the Tower and on three of the aces (Cups, Swords, Wands) they are very visible. With the Cups they look like drops of water, with the Wands they look like leaves. But what are they about the in the  Swords suit? What do these drops symbolize and why was the Ace of Pentacles skipped?

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Tarot and Alchemy: a short introduction

When you think of Alchemy, you usually think of the 16th and 17th centuries. You probably see the image of (old) men brewing all kinds of concoctions from which they try to make gold. The candlelight and the old books & manuscript add an occult touch to this image. You might think it is a bit silly, but many great discoveries have been made during these experiments! And nowadays,  we are actually able to create gold out of other commodities (although this is such an expensive process that the costs do not outweigh the benefits of the gold obtained). You could, however,  argue that these alchemists were the forerunners of our “modern” sciences (physics, chemistry, medical sciences).

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Deep Sighs and Being Consumed by Jealousy: The Vera Sibilla

Although we know that the first Tarot cards were originated in early Renaissance Italy, it is the French who take credit for the way we work with the Tarot today; After all, it was the French occultist Jean-Baptiste Alliette  (1738 – 1791) who – as far as is known at least – was the first to assign all kinds of occult correspondences to the Tarot and showed a broader audience how to use Tarot for divination. More Frenchies followed and for years the Marseille deck was THE Tarot deck to be used for divination purposes. The British also contributed a great deal when the members of the Golden Dawn started to delve into the occult writings on the Tarot at the end of the 19th century. The have ‘corrected’ the work of their French predecessors. It is not completely clear if these corrections are for the better, some argue they do and some argue they don’t.

Arthur Edward Waite  (1857 – 1942) is probably the best known Golden Dawn member because he released the popular Raider-Waite-Smith deck in 1909, in cooperation with Pamela Colman Smith (also a Golden Dawn member). Previously, a separate tradition of divination cards had also arised in Germany and the surrounding areas: The Lenormand and the Kipper decks are both of German origin. These four systems (Marseille Tarot, RWS Tarot, Lenormand and Kipper) are the most commonly used decks to date. What about the Italians?

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The Belline Oracle

The name ‘Belline’ is probably familiar to some; Especially to those who are interested in the history of the Tarot and like to work with the somewhat unknown decks like the ‘Grand Tarot de Belline’. This deck consists of 78 cards and the system looks like a mixture of the work of Jean Baptiste Aliette and the traditional Marseille deck.

The ‘Belline Oracle’ and the ‘Grand Tarot de Belline’ are named after the man who is actual name is Marcel Forget (1924 – 1977). Marcel Forget was a well-known Tarotist in Paris in the 20th century, but the decks he published were not of his hand. The original author is Mage Edmond (real name: Jules Charles Ernest Billaudot). And he was also an interesting character….

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