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Author Topic: Problem with qabalah in the tarot  (Read 3252 times)

Nachtigall

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Re: Problem with qabalah in the tarot...
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2012, 09:43:05 am »
Quote from: JovesChild;80978
Or perhaps a simple solution might be cropping down the deck to remove those symbols? If the rest of the imagery works but that minor piece distracts, cut it out. Might work.

 
...But it's not just the visible Hebrew letters. Most of the card meanings used in modern, GD-inspired decks (90% of them I'd assume) are based, among other systems, on Qaballah. If one simply doesn't want to see Hebrew letters on their cards, fine; but if the reader doesn't want to deal with Qaballah in any way, the only possible way to do so would be to stop using Tarot cards - at least, those that come after Ephias Levi (?) - at all.

Sage

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Re: Problem with qabalah in the tarot...
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2012, 09:49:51 am »
Quote from: Nachtigall;80983
...But it's not just the visible Hebrew letters. Most of the card meanings used in modern, GD-inspired decks (90% of them I'd assume) are based, among other systems, on Qaballah. If one simply doesn't want to see Hebrew letters on their cards, fine; but if the reader doesn't want to deal with Qaballah in any way, the only possible way to do so would be to stop using Tarot cards - at least, those that come after Ephias Levi (?) - at all.

 
Well, what about non GD-inspired decks? I have the Wildwood Tarot for example, and the only thing they've followed from the original Tarot is number of cards and four suits in the Minor Arcana. Everything else has been reimagined in a Celtic/Druid lens.

And even if the archetypes of the Tarot started in a Qabalistic system... what, do only Abrahamic faiths own the concept of the Lovers (finding that thing that makes you complete) or the Tower (having the foundation of your life destroyed) or the Devil (our own fears and ignorance bind us)?
Maker, though the darkness comes upon me,
I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm.
I shall endure.
What you have created, no one can tear asunder.

-Canticle of Trials 1:10

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Nachtigall

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Re: Problem with qabalah in the tarot...
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2012, 10:30:24 am »
Quote from: Sage;80985
Well, what about non GD-inspired decks? I have the Wildwood Tarot for example, and the only thing they've followed from the original Tarot is number of cards and four suits in the Minor Arcana. Everything else has been reimagined in a Celtic/Druid lens.


I am not familiar with this deck. Perhaps it belongs to the 10% and does not have ties with Qaballah or GD system.

Quote

And even if the archetypes of the Tarot started in a Qabalistic system... what, do only Abrahamic faiths own the concept of the Lovers (finding that thing that makes you complete) or the Tower (having the foundation of your life destroyed) or the Devil (our own fears and ignorance bind us)?

 
The separate archetypes may not be solely owned by Abrahamic faiths (or, more accurately, the Wester Esoterism interpretation of them) - although, considering the Arcana such as Hierophant/Pope, Devil, or Judgement, I'd say the interpretation of these archetypes in Tarot is heavily influenced by them as well.

But what's more important, is that the whole structure is based on Qabala/Astrology/other magical systems as well. That is the reason why the cards have exactly the meanings they do.

Let me offer another example. Would you advice using runes for someone who says that Norse Mythology repels them? Or using I Ching for someone that absolutely hates Chinese culture/philosophy? Yet, one may argue that these systems also speak of experiences, universal to all the mankind, not specific to one culture or faith.

Sage

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Re: Problem with qabalah in the tarot...
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2012, 11:28:21 am »
Quote from: Nachtigall;80993

Let me offer another example. Would you advice using runes for someone who says that Norse Mythology repels them? Or using I Ching for someone that absolutely hates Chinese culture/philosophy? Yet, one may argue that these systems also speak of experiences, universal to all the mankind, not specific to one culture or faith.

 
I would advise people to know about the systems of divination they are personally drawn to and make informed decisions about how to use them and in what way. In my experience, I feel like Tarot has been disseminated far beyond its original religious boundaries; when I look at my decks, I don't feel an Abrahamic pull. (If anything, knowing that they originated in Qabalah, if that's true, makes me feel like I'm claiming and repurposing them for my own. :))

I feel like this is different than how, say, the Elder Futhark gets "repurposed" as a "generic" rune set among some New Age/Wiccish circles. (For example, I've seen runes used by a Wiccan circle where the only real knowledge of the runes was that they had something to do with some Viking folks at one point. That was cringe-worthy at best.) I think this has to do with the fact Abrahamic traditions have pretty much dominated the Western religious landscape for a long, long time. Having a real hard time explaining this right now, coffee hasn't kicked in, so I'm gonna leave that half-thought there.

Anyway. I would advise people, literally, to follow their heart and their conscience. If a reader cannot get over the Qabalistic beginnings of the Tarot - if they are constantly worried and reminded of this - then that's a pretty clear sign they should find something else. There's not anything wrong with the reader; they're just sensitive to things that other people may not be.

As far as runes/I Ching go... well, I can't stop anyone from using them, even if I were an Asatruar or a practitioner of traditional Chinese religion. Literally, I can't do it. That information is out there and has been a long time, and anyone can print out a basic rune means chart and go to town. Are they going to miss layers of information they would have at their fingertips had they studied the mythic/historic background of their chosen divination set? Yeah. Are they being culturally appropriative? Yeah. Is their divination experience going to fail miserably? No, not necessarily. And if someone is just looking for something that 'works' and 'connects' with them - whatever level that's on, however shallow or deep I may feel their decision is - well, good luck to them.
Maker, though the darkness comes upon me,
I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm.
I shall endure.
What you have created, no one can tear asunder.

-Canticle of Trials 1:10

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cigfran

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Re: Problem with qabalah in the tarot...
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2012, 11:41:17 am »
Quote from: Sage;80985
I have the Wildwood Tarot for example, and the only thing they've followed from the original Tarot is number of cards and four suits in the Minor Arcana. Everything else has been reimagined in a Celtic/Druid lens.


I have this deck as well and love it, both on its own terms and because I've gone through the phase that the OP seems to be in now. The problem, though, is that 'alternative' tarots just don't have the weight of scholarship (for want of a better term) behind them. They tend to be rather ad hoc, and not as coherent as Ye Olde Tarot.

These days I ignore the overtly Qabalistic theories behind classic tarot and deal with it as a living, evolving system of symbol and thought. The sephiroth have no meaning for me... but wands and swords do.

Sage

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Re: Problem with qabalah in the tarot...
« Reply #20 on: November 15, 2012, 12:37:29 pm »
Quote from: cigfran;81006
I have this deck as well and love it, both on its own terms and because I've gone through the phase that the OP seems to be in now. The problem, though, is that 'alternative' tarots just don't have the weight of scholarship (for want of a better term) behind them. They tend to be rather ad hoc, and not as coherent as Ye Olde Tarot.


While I appreciate Tarot scholarship and I find it enlightening for myself to understand the basics of the Rider-Waite deck, I also appreciate decks that consciously react against it. I think coherency is a high priority for me too, though. The Wildwood Tarot (why I love it so much!) has an underlying mythology of the Wildwood - this very spiritual, visceral Otherworld of Celtic lore - that supplants the Judeo-Christian mythology of the original Tarot.

Quote
These days I ignore the overtly Qabalistic theories behind classic tarot and deal with it as a living, evolving system of symbol and thought. The sephiroth have no meaning for me... but wands and swords do.

 
Exactly. There aren't a lot of Jewish mystics running around proficient in Qabalah - whatever the New Age section at Barnes and Noble wants to tell me - and I'll bet that's why the Tarot has disseminated beyond previous uses. The form works for a lot of people; it's the content that just gets shaken up.
Maker, though the darkness comes upon me,
I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm.
I shall endure.
What you have created, no one can tear asunder.

-Canticle of Trials 1:10

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Gilbride

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Re: Problem with qabalah in the tarot...
« Reply #21 on: November 15, 2012, 02:00:49 pm »
Quote from: Wintersong;80901
I recently read The 78 degrees of Wisdom, among other books, and I am starting to think that the tarots qabalistic symbolism is...repelling me...


As far as I know, the Golden Dawn put the qabbalistic stuff into the Tarot, and they had to force-fit a lot of it. If you really want to work with Tarot, an older deck like the Marseilles wouldn't have those Abrahamic concepts. Or you could try the Lenormand, which isn't Tarot.

Darkhawk

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Re: Problem with qabalah in the tarot...
« Reply #22 on: November 15, 2012, 03:29:27 pm »
Quote from: Wintersong;80901
What I am wondering is this; does anyone else struggle with the qabalistic/jewish symbols that prevail throughout the tarot?

 
I have genuinely never encountered this, at least not in any way I've noticed; I assume that I have never used a deck that had them (or had them prominent).

(I find the standard Rider-Waite repulsive, so it and its close variants have never come into my possession.)
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Wintersong

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Re: Problem with qabalah in the tarot...
« Reply #23 on: November 15, 2012, 05:11:53 pm »
Quote from: Annie Roonie;80930
Also, developing your own system isn't unheard of. That might be more your thing. It's challenging, but it could be very worthwhile too.

I've actually been considering this, based off the mindset that I might be giving other people (waite/crowley/ the GD) far more credit than I give myself.  I think another issue I might be struggling with, is weather or not I am asking the right questions, or asking them in the right way.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2012, 05:21:51 am by SunflowerP »
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Faemon

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Re: Problem with qabalah in the tarot...
« Reply #24 on: November 15, 2012, 08:14:39 pm »
Quote from: Nachtigall;80983
if the reader doesn't want to deal with Qaballah in any way, the only possible way to do so would be to stop using Tarot cards - at least, those that come after Ephias Levi (?) - at all.
Disagree. To my understanding, the Rider-Waite-Smith card designs were based on the 15th century Sola Busca cards, which were very very unlikely to have been a product of Qaballistic gnosis.
Quote from: Gilbride;81030
If you really want to work with Tarot, an older deck like the Marseilles wouldn't have those Abrahamic concepts.
I love the Marseilles majors. Pity it's a pip deck. I read a lot of interesting things about the Marseilles arcanum The Sun, how it's really bardic halves of a year wrestling for supremacy, echoing the Greek theatrical genres of comedy "low art" and tragedy "high art".
« Last Edit: November 15, 2012, 08:18:31 pm by Faemon »
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Wintersong

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Re: Problem with qabalah in the tarot...
« Reply #25 on: November 15, 2012, 09:32:44 pm »
I want to thank everyone for their insight, but what I am starting to realize is that I need to learn more about the basic elements of divination before I fixate on one specific method.  I am starting to think that I might have jumped into the tarot, expecting too much to soon.  I am not giving up, but I will have to broaden my view points on tarot and divination in general before I go on.  Problem is that the internet can be such a wasteland of crumby information and full of instant professionals.  I have been looking into Oracle decks and they seem to be pretty interesting, and more accessible to different views and traditions.
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Annie Roonie

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Re: Problem with qabalah in the tarot...
« Reply #26 on: November 15, 2012, 10:24:12 pm »
Quote from: Wintersong;81066
I've actually been considering this, based off the mindset that I might be giving other people (waite/crowley/ the GD) far more credit than I give myself.  I think another issue I might be struggling with, is weather or not I am asking the right questions, or asking them in the right way.

 
I do not know if you have an artistic bent or not, but if not, by way of encouragement this deck and system was created by an acquaintance. I'm not trying to sell it as I don't think it would be your thing, but I bought it and he's used icons and pictures rather than painted cards, and I think (have not read the book yet) his focus was primarily on the system he created.

As far as questions go, if you can afford it, finding an experienced professional to learn from could be more helpful than the suggestions given in books about phrasing (though they may be helpful too). I only read for personal use and for friends and that is a very different thing than having read for strangers for years. The experienced professionals I have been to have a way of getting to the meat of the matter even if I am lost for a question. Inexperienced pros not so much, or not consistently. Problematic things about doing readings seem to be solved easily by experienced pros, but they've put in enough work to make it seem that way. I've considered myself lucky when on occasion such a pro has let me observe.

SunflowerP

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Re: Problem with qabalah in the tarot...
« Reply #27 on: November 16, 2012, 06:25:36 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;81097
Disagree. To my understanding, the Rider-Waite-Smith card designs were based on the 15th century Sola Busca cards, which were very very unlikely to have been a product of Qaballistic gnosis.http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Sola_Busca_Tarot

 
From what I can gather from a very quick check, some of the RWS designs strongly resemble their Sola Busca counterparts, and some don't - certainly not the major arcana, which in the SB is a set of historic ancient Romans, with very little correlation to the majors as we know them.  The theory among tarot historians seems to be that Pamela Smith drew inspiration for some of her designs from the SB, not that she based her designs on it generally.

One difficulty with suggesting pre-RWS decks as an alternative is that, while they're likely to have less influence from Hermetic Quabalah in particular, they still might have quite a bit of influence from medieval Christian Caballah (not quite so much from traditional Jewish Kaballah except through Christianized lenses, but it's not ruled out), and certainly there's a lot of Christian stuff that's not specifically Cabalistic, some of it other sorts of mysticism, some of it not.

My own "loophole" for dealing with it is a little like Sage's:  it's far from the only thing in my practices that comes from the Western Magical Tradition, the development of which, for many centuries, was almost entiirely in a Christian or Judeo-Christian context - a few things come from non-Judaic pre-Christian sources, but even those have passed through the medieval and early-modern Christian lens.  That doesn't mean they can't be repurposed in a non-Christian or post-Christian frame; generally, it's not so much that they're inherently Christian per se, as they're inherently of the fabric of Western culture.  As am I; that's the cultural milieu in which I was raised, so the symbolisms are likely to make sense to me whether the sense they make is Christian or neoPagan.

That's likely to be a significant influence on both design of divination systems generally, and on most practitioners who are reading this - if a system isn't a traditional component of a non-Western culture, it's likely to have been designed by someone of Western cultural heritage; if it is a traditional system of a non-Western culture, it's likely that someone raised in Western culture will have difficulty connecting to it unless they adapt it to what makes Western-culture sense.  (Heck, even those reconstucting the pre-Christian religions of various strands of the Western cultural milieu talk about the need to develop the mindset of the culture in question, because the mindset/worldview of, say, an ancient Roman or Goth or Gaul is not the mindset/worldview of a modern Westerner.)

All of which might sound like I think Wintersong's quest for a divination system is hopeless.  I don't; I think it's just a matter of him finding something that speaks to him of the stuff he resonates with, and doesn't speak to him of Christian influence - that won't necessarily mean it doesn't have Christian-in-particular or modern-Western-in-general influence, just that it won't poke him in the part of his brain that has issues with that.

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Nachtigall

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Re: Problem with qabalah in the tarot...
« Reply #28 on: November 16, 2012, 06:29:57 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;81097
Disagree. To my understanding, the Rider-Waite-Smith card designs were based on the 15th century Sola Busca cards, which were very very unlikely to have been a product of Qaballistic gnosis.

 
Are these the correct Sola Busca images - http://trionfi.com/0/j/d/solabusca/? If so, aside from almost identical Three of Swords card, I don't see much similarities with the RWS deck.

To a much larger extent, Waite's images were illustrations of the GD meanings. Five of Wands is Strife, Six of Wands is Victory, Ten of Swords is Ruin, and so on.

Wintersong

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Re: Problem with qabalah in the tarot...
« Reply #29 on: November 16, 2012, 06:51:01 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;81159

All of which might sound like I think Wintersong's quest for a divination system is hopeless.  I don't; I think it's just a matter of him finding something that speaks to him of the stuff he resonates with, and doesn't speak to him of Christian influence - that won't necessarily mean it doesn't have Christian-in-particular or modern-Western-in-general influence, just that it won't poke him in the part of his brain that has issues with that.

Sunflower


Damn...You got it pretty much on the money.  I have done enough reading of history to understand that early christian scholars and scribes turned much of the original European lore from spoken to written.  Their influences leaking into the lore and mythologies of other religions/traditions is debatable, but you can't easily escape the mindset of your time and place in life (especially in this day in age, and especially in America).  I understand that Christianity/Judaism is going to be peppered all over the plate, and simply has to be taken for what it is, with all its cultural relevance.

And it is not hopeless.  I've been looking at the Druid Animal Oracle Deck and might be looking to learn about that branch (oracle cards).  I am not a druid, but hell, animal worship is the root of all religion in my opinion and therefore no religion can exclusively claim it.  And besides, Druids are awesome and tell beautiful stories that serve as great food for meditation!

 Thank you suflower!  I rather enjoyed your post!
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