By Christine Payne-Towler
ArkLetter 30, September 2007
One of my ongoing fascinations with the origins of Tarot is focused on
the set of Tarot Trump emblems created by Lodovico Lazzarelli (1447-
1500). In 1468-1469, Lazzarelli completed De Gentilium Deorum
Imaginibus [On the images of the pagan gods]. Along with the poems were
created a set of 27 images, 22 of them being explicit Trumps like those
of the Tarot. These images directly reference (by title and image) two
full rungs of the Mantegna emblem series, linked by two other icons
from the same series (Music and Poetry), thus rounding out the count to
22. The illustrations also include five extra images (named Pallas,
Juno, Neptune, Pluto, Victoria), which depart from both the Tarot canon
and the Mantegna subjects. [see image lists at the bottom of this article]
The world has had to wait for quite a while before we could put the contribution of Lodovico Lazzarelli into perspective, but in the last fifteen years the spotlight of Fame has been swinging in his direction. In 1991, Lazzarelli's most important poetic work, the Fasti Christianae Religionis, appeared in a critical edition by M. Bertolini (Lodovico Lazzarelli: Fasti Christianae Religionis. Naples: M. D'Auria, 1991, (now out of print). Then in 1997, A Critical Edition of De Gentilium Deorum Imaginibus by Lodovico Lazzarelli emerged by William J. O'Neill (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1997). The Italian scholars Maria Paola Saci and Fabio Troncarelli are producing a critical edition of Lazzarelli's Opera Omnia. This and other information shared here comes from Lodovico Lazzarelli (1447-1500); The Hermetic Writings and Related Documents, by Wouter J. Hanegraaff and Ruud M. Bouthoorn (Tempe AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005.)
In Hanegraaff's own words,
"... this poetic work about the planetary gods and the muses of Greek mythology is modeled upon an anonymous fourteenth-century De deorum imaginibus libellus, which is largely dependent upon a similar work by the twelfth-century Vatican mythographer Alberic but adds pen drawings to the verbal descriptions of the pagan deities.... Other than the fourteenth century Libellus, however, Lazzarelli took his inspiration from the now famous contemporary collection of miniatures known as the Tarocchi of Mantegna. With only four exceptions (Mercury, Juno, Pluto and Victoria), Lazzarelli's illustrations are copies from the Tarocchi. "(p. 14) [sic: Pallas reappears in the Mantegna as Philosophia, but there is no Neptune in the Mantegna series.]
According to Hanegraaff,
"The De gentilium deorum imaginibus was originally dedicated to Borso d'Este (1413-1471), duke of Modena and Reggio, who ruled Ferrara from 1450 [and who owned the Schifanoia Palace]. When Borso died, Lazzarelli appears to have erased his name and re-dedicated his work, this time to the condottiere and promoter of arts and sciences Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino (1422-1482...)."
Eventually, the folio with its images and poems made their way to the Vatican, where they reside even to this day. Nowhere in Hanegraaff's biography of Lazzarelli do we find any trace of the folktale related in the Encyclopedia of Tarot, Vol. 1, about Lazzarelli finding prints of these 27 subjects in a Venetian bookstore, thus inspiring him to write his poems. To my unprofessional eye, these are not prints, or if they are, they have been painted over to look like manuscript illustrations.
Until a few years ago, those images were visible at a website run by the Vatican, but nowadays the collection in full is missing from the Internet as far as I know. Nine of these Trumps are illustrated on p. 27 of the Encyclopedia of Tarot, Volume 1. Several images from the series are available in the files over at TarotSalon, - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tarotsalon/ - found by our excellent friend and ally John Meador.
As a foundation for the projections I am about to make upon Lazzarelli's list of Tarot Trumps, I want to point out this very helpful article by Danaa Mindon informing us about the earliest, unlabeled packs of Trumps and pips. Although Lazzarelli created his Trumps nearly a century after playing cards are first written about in Europe, Mindon will help us to have a sense of the working assumptions that were already in place at the point that Lazzarelli took up the Planets and Muses to picture forth his apotheosis narrative.
The Lazzarelli Trumps hold a unique position in history, in that they demonstrate a living link between the Visconti-Sforza packs, the Marseilles packs, the Mantegna emblems and the game of Labyrinth (which admittedly came later, but which embraces all the subjects introduced in the previous Tarots and emblem series.) As we have learned from Mindon, individual Tarot users felt free to derive their card interpretations from a range of different traditional literary works (for example Pythagoras, Revelations, Dante, St. Thomas Aquinas). The resulting insight leaves us fully empowered to consider the bodies of correspondences which might apply to the these emblems, cross-check them against the materials known to be in Lazzarelli's milieu at the end of the 1400's, and finally propose a working system that respectfully relates the traditional Trumps catalogue (with their Hebrew Alphabet ordering intact) to the list Lazzarelli gives us of the Muses, Planets, Music and Poetry.
Please note that I am not claiming to have "discovered the key" to the Lazzarelli Trumps. Other than the poem he left in the file with the images, we do not explicitly know what Lazzarelli was thinking. However, the ideas Lazzarelli was picturing forth have had a long and august career from Antiquity, and were undergoing a revival at the cusp of the Renaissance. Despite the intensely Christian culture of the 1400's, the early Tarot Magi were privately expanding upon the middle-ages tradition of using loaded images (the classical Gods and Goddesses, Angels, Virtues, biblical characters and mythical heroes) as placeholders and 'containers' for their Art of Memory constructs.
If there's anything I hope to accomplish with this article, it is to make Lazzarelli's contribution to the dialogue with his peers more transparent, and to highlight his creation as a stage in an ongoing discussion that was still in motion after his death. We cannot be sure that Lazzarelli's pack of Trumps is the last word on the subject, but we can see that he was trying to make a bold step towards framing out a coherent working group of magical icons flexible enough to reconcile the interlocking demands of astrology, kabala, music theory, myth and Art of Memory.
Also, to answer the unspoken question I assume will be echoing in my readers' heads as they peruse this article -- I did not undertake this investigation using the text that Lazzarelli wrote to accompany these images. For one thing, the text is uneven, reflecting Lazzarelli's changing circumstances and hopes. It seems he had an easier time finding things to say about the first ten icons, compare with the following 17.
For another thing, my approach is that of an occultist foremost and a historian only secondarily. My questions revolve around how such a tool as Lazzarelli's emblems could be made to work in practice. It doesn't matter to me that these images were never circulated as "cards" per se, nor does it signify that the Mantegna emblems were never used that way either. A person using Art of Memory techniques could easily carry the entire catalogue in their head, as many Tarot readers do today. My interest is in fathoming the interior references being made between the Trumps of Tarot and the Lazzarelli series. This is generally not the kind of thing one would find trumpeted explicitly in a literary exercise written to one's patron, especially in those days. My goal is to make a deep examination of the evidence itself, without looking for a specific explanation from the hand of its maker.
To set the stage for this discussion
Let us remind ourselves of the situation 'on the ground' as we enter into the Lazzarelli zone. The Italian Renaissance was roaring up out of the fertile intersection of all the worlds' sacred traditions, converging around the Mediterranean. The participants at the time were not entirely unaware of the uniqueness of their age -- fitting comparisons were easily made to a reawakened spirit of Alexandrian-style syncretism. Intellectual circles of the day were reclaiming, practicing, embellishing, and transmitting a kind of magic that could lift the spirit beyond the boundaries of fixed time and space, allowing the prepared individual to interact with the Arcana, the Verities, those eternal forces enshrined in memory as the Gods and Goddess of antiquity.
These same people were challenging the dominant cultural and religious paradigm by absorbing into themselves roles that had previously been left to the medical, legal and ecclesiastical professionals of the day. Seizing upon the sacred books of the world's traditions, and cross-referencing all the bodies of technique, symbolism, philosophy and remedy they could translate, the era's self-made Magi boldly assembled a "modern shaman's kit" with which, it seems, they were preparing to storm the heavens. The most educated and articulate of these people made themselves into esoteric polymaths, learning how to juggle and intertwine concepts from multiple metaphysical media -- astrology, Kabala, sacred geometry, theurgy, sympathetic magic, theology, talismanics, alchemy, gnosticism, music and more.
A priceless resource for my investigations into the Lazzarelli cosmos has been Joscelyn Godwin's compendium The Harmony Of The Spheres; A Sourcebook of the Pythagorean Tradition in Music (Inner Traditions Press; Vermont, 1993). Because Godwin took the time to undertake this research and extract these pivotal nuggets from each teacher's work, we can hold in one hand the bones of a discussion that's been going on from its classical roots through the musical magi of the Renaissance and right up to the 20th century. This is the group that, in his own era, Lazzarelli was studying with, writing for, and making his bid to join in the hallowed -- and fame producing -- memory of the Muses.
Godwin's section on the Renaissance Pythagoreans includes Marsilio Ficino, Ramis de Pareja, Pico della Mirandola, Franchino Gafori, Francesco Giorgi, and Heinrich Glarean. The two others in the section, Gioseffo Zarlino and Jean Bodin, were born a bit late to reflect the same attraction for recondite correspondence systems as their elders. I include Glarean in this discussion (though he was only 10 years old when Lazzarelli died) because of his synthesizing activities (reporting on the best of what came before), and for his desire to explicate a clean working system from the folds of history. In the same spirit, I'm hoping that by including input from a cross-section of the era's experts on the subject, we will gain perspective on the challenges facing anybody who is trying to make a set of 22 Trumps for Tarot out of the Planets and Muses.
The Christian Awakening to Kabala
The fact that Christianity rests upon the foundation of the Pentateuch forces Christian theology to stand in the footprint of the Hebrew Mysteries. From the early Church Fathers through the cathedral-building era, knowledge of Hebrew has been lapping at the shores of Christianity whether or not the administration at Rome was favorable to the idea. Therefore Lazzarelli had scrupulously unimpeachable sources to draw from within the Christian canon, should he need to defend his personal interest in the Hebrew roots of scripture. Of particular interest to our investigation is the fact that the Christian scheme of Angels, Spheres, Planets and Muses is a mirror of the Kabalistic Sephira and their associated Signs, Planets and Elements. The common denominators linking the two systems are the astrological values held by each.
The Kabalistic cosmos is grounded in the Sefir Yezira, which is how Lazzarelli would have learned about it. Because he was born in, and kept strong connections with, the town of San Severino in the Marches area of northern Italy (which had a significant Jewish community), Lazzarelli was exposed to Hebrew mysticism in a natural way. The works of Abulafia, Gikatilla, and Abraham ibn Ezra enriched his educational and social environment. In his early adult years, he made a systematic study of the Hebrew language "so that he might be better able to investigate all things" (Hanegraaff, Lodovico Lazzarelli, p. 77) After imbibing the Sefir Yezira and the Zohar, Lazzarelli had a firm grounding in the practice of the Hebrew mystics. Therefore it's impossible for him not to have known that the teachings of the Kabala group the letters into orders of 3, 7, and 12 , representing the Elements, Planets and Signs of astrology. The natural order of the alphabet weaves the three orders of letters through each other in what seems like a random pattern, but collectively the Letters define the Tree's three horizontal paths, seven vertical paths, and 12 diagonal paths, all gradually working their way "down" (heaven to earth) through the Spheres. Christians had been encountering this world-view via converted Jews across the 1300's (in Gikatilla's Gates of Light, for one), even before any of the Hebrew holy books were translated by Ricci into the Latin.
What many people forget in their studies of the Kabala is that there is a musical/magical dimension to all the civilizations that were informed by the ancient Babylonian and Egyptian temple cultures. The Jews, of course, were deeply impacted by contact with both nations. I made some steps towards introducing these connections in a previous article in this series. My operating assumption is that Lazzarelli was at least somewhat aware of the Hebrew teachings about the music in the letters, since there is a segment of the Sefir Yezira that exists primarily to help the mystic gain skill in the cantor's art. We will not be discussing this dimension of Lazzarelli's sequence at this time, however, though the implications are potentially huge.
Joscelyn Godwin, in his illuminating Harmonies of Heaven and Earth; The Spiritual Dimensions of Music, gives us a snapshot of the interpenetration of the Hebrew and Christian angelic schemes ((p. 169-170)
"This threefold scheme of notes, planets and Muses became a favorite, It was repeated by Fanchinus Gaffuris (De Harmonia Musicorum Instrumentorum Opus, 1518), Henry Cornelius Agrippa (Book II of De Occulta Philosophia, 1533), Heinrich Glarean (Dodecachordon, 1547) and others. The Angels, it might seem, were usurped by the Muses in the humanistic enthusiasm of the time. But it is clear from their very first description in the Theogony of Hesiod (8th-7th cent. BC) that the Nine Muses are the very same beings as the Angels of monotheism. All that one has to understand -- and for many it is unthinkable, admittedly -- is that these beings actually exist and they are knowable. To Hesiod they appear as messengers who accost chosen human beings such as poets, charging them with a divine mission (Gk. angeloi = messengers), at the same time leading their own life a little below the summit of Olympus, i.e. just below the hierarchy of the gods. The implication of the Muses' patronage of the arts, a theme so beloved in the Renaissance, is that the Arts in their essence are no human invention but a gift of superhuman origin and inspiration, reflecting some form of universal knowledge and wisdom; and that the route to this wisdom lies through mediation by a feminine principle. At the other extreme of Greek Antiquity, the Neoplatonist Proclus (AD 410-485) distinguishes the Muses from those other heavenly musicians, the sirens, by explaining that the gift bestowed by the Muses is an intellectual harmony, that of the Sirens a corporeal one -- 'which is why the Muses are said to prevail over the sirens and to be crowned with Siren's feathers'. To the Christian division of the planetary from the angelic realms, then, we can equate the Classical distinction of Sirens from Muses."
It is instructive to note that we only see these angel/sphere/planet/muse lists co-ordinated with the Hebrew letters for a relatively short span of time (see Thenaud's chart of correspondences at left). As Christopher Lehrich states in The Language of Demons and Angels; Cornelius Agrippa's Occult Philosophy (p. 209 ):
"...Agrippa's Kabbalah is a purely Christian one, treating this sacred Jewish lore as an extremely important and valuable tool, but not granting it fundamental superiority. In a way, we can perhaps say that Agrippa's Christian Kabbalah represents a stage in the maturation of Christian Kabbalah, a step beyond the initial wide-eyed awe of Pico and Reuchlin, and of the young Agrippa himself, for whom the discovery of Kabbalah seemed to offer potential solutions to basic mystical and magical problems.
It remains for future scholarship to ask why Christian Kabbalah died as quickly as it did. After about the mid-seventeenth century, which saw Christian Knorr von Rosenroth's massive Kabbala denudata [Kabala Unveiled], Christian Kabbalah more or less vanished as a form of occult thought. Jewish Kabbalistic thought, particularly Lurianic Kabbalah, reappears periodically over the next two centuries, in Behmenist thought, in Leibniz' theories of perfect languages, in speculative Freemasonry, even in Schelling's Die Weltalter, and comes back to the center of occultism with Eliphas Levi in the mid-nineteenth century. But Christian Kabbalah, of the sort formulated by Agrippa, Postel, and others in the sixteenth century, has its last gasp with Knorr von Rosenroth and Robert Fludd in the seventeenth century.
The reasons for this collapse still require analysis. Our present discussion of Christian Kabbalah in [Agrippa's Three Books] suggests that it may be necessary to look more closely into early modern linguistic philosophies. I suspect, in fact, that some strains of Christian Kabbalah essentially lived and died along with metaphysical linguistic philosophy, and that therefore a considerable wealth of Christian Kabbalah may have heretofore been ignored because it is not sufficiently obviously Kabbalistic to be included in the standard historical account." -- Christopher Lehrich
When I pore over this segment with my mental microscope, it seems that Lehrich is saying that once the later Christian Cabalists learned more than the superficials which Lull, Ficino, Reuchlin, Pico, Agrippa and others up to Fludd popularized (mostly with the motive of converting Jews to Christianity), our archetypal Magi realized that the entire astro-alpha-numeric (AAN) system is more elegant and authentic when studied from the Sefir Yezira directly, than learned secondhand from the less mature wave of Judaising Christians. This is something that I have noticed as well; a gradual trend away from interpreting Hebrew teachings through a Christian lens, moving instead towards studying the Jews on their own terms, in their own language. But Lazzarelli was caught up in the spirit of his times, which was still resonating with the Crusader ideal of "winning souls for Christ".
This might help to explain why, in another text of Lazzarelli's (the Crater Hermetis), our poet included a spurious reference from one of the falsified Hebrew texts circulated by Jews who had converted to Christianity during the second half of the fifteenth century (op cit p. 80). As Hanegraaff states so succinctly, "it is indeed unthinkable that an authentic Jewish source would contain passages about God the Father and God the Son such as quoted by Lazzarelli. We may therefore safely assume that we are dealing here with one of these forgeries." (Let us remember this remark when we are looking at God the Father as First Cause and God the Son as Prime Mover in a system that is connected to the Hebrew Alphabet!)
Not being educated in early modern linguistic philosophies, I may not completely know what Lehrich is referring to here. Nevertheless, these remarks managed to stimulate a realization in me:
There are two primary ways I find the AAN tables of the 14-1600's being presented.
#1 The Christian Cabbalist way -- This is how we see it in Dionysius the Areopagite, Joachim de Fiori, St. Bonaventure, and Thomas Aquinas, who are then followed by Thenaud, Giorgi and Fludd. This links the alphabet and numbers to God and the angels plus the Spheres/planets and the four elements.
Note that in the writings of the Christian Magi these values are usually presented in the Lullian style, with the A on the most divine value in the catalogue (God or the topmost Angel), working systematically 'down' through the alphabet to the bottom of the Ladder of Lights (the four Elements). This general top-down scheme mirrors the Kabala revelation of the Hebrews, in which the Tree is externalized by stages from its uppermost/innermost Mystery to the lowest and most external crust of matter.
#2 -- In contrast, the Mantegna emblems and the standard Tarot trumps generally run the opposite direction, beginning the alphabet at the earthly level (the Stations of Man) and working up the Ladder of Lights, leaving the most celestial values for the end (Primo Causa).
Lazzarelli's collection of Planets and Muses propose a third approach that combines the virtues of the previous two methods in one sequence. Lazzarelli's Trump set is dominated by a synthesizing inspiration, which he demonstrates by arranging his Trumps in a circular pattern. His sequence begins in the heavenly realms (First Cause). He then descends through the Planetary Spheres to the Moon. Then Lazzarelli picks up the zodiac in backwards order (Music = Libra, Poetry= Virgo, Apollo=Leo, and so on). By following the general backward sweep of the Muses, the user works their way through the signs from Libra to Scorpio, as if to unwind the karmas taken on via incarnation (during the original, 10-stage descent). At the end, the cycle leaves off where it took up, back at the footstool of God.
And lest this approach to the 22 as 10+12 seem utterly unwieldy to the modern mindset, I recommend the reader to the excellent and fascinating Tarot and Individuation; Correspondences with Cabbala and Alchemy by Dr. Irene Gad, who is advocating the very same path of self-initiation -- a downward sweep upon the Planetary Spheres (the Kabalistic Sephirot) followed by an upward climb along the Paths. Dr. Gad is using the Oswald Wirth Tarot in Hebrew Alphabet order, she's writing over 500 years after the Mantegna series, plus she's utterly unexposed to Lazzarelli (or so it seems). Nevertheless she uncovers the same archetypal 10+12 model in the Trumps without missing a beat.
But let me note right now: the relationships between the Muses and to their planetary/zodiacal co-respondents are not simple or straightforward. Both the historical path of their arrival at the 1400's, as well as their enthusiastic but mixed reception by the Renaissance Magi, show divisions, experimentations, an unsettled situation overall. The creative tension existing between the Mantegna presentation and the Lazzarelli presentation hangs out a red flag, making us sit back on our heels and really think about what is going on here.
Wheels Within Wheels: Ramon Lull (b. ~ 1232; d. 1315)
It is the inveterate synthesizer and inventor Ramon Lull whom we have to thank for substantiating the ancient image of 'wheels within wheels' into a tangible and practical tool for philosophizing. In modern terms, Lull would be dubbed an early adapter: Once his fertile mind was seeded with the Hebrew astro-alphabet-mysteries, the flexibility of the model empowered his imagination, allowing him to conceive a series of rotating alphabet wheels that set the whole esoteric world spinning. Lull experimented with combinations of stacked wheels wherein the different levels could have as many as 16 divisions or as few as five. The changes that his system underwent through the course of Lull's career show that for him, the concept itself was plastic, meant to be adjusted depending upon what sets of archetypes were under consideration. (The aforementioned chapter by Hulse on making a Lullian Wheel focuses on the numbers 3 and 9, hence comprising 27 discreet meaning-units.)
Lull was not assigning arbitrary values to the variously divided compartments of his wheels. He used the letters of the alphabet to stand for the attributes of each wheel's segments, the same way we nowadays use numbers to count out a list. Because the letters of the alphabet came to him through the Hebrew Mysteries, with a huge symbolic catalogue of correspondences already attached, he quickly saw that using letters would help him pack the maximum amount of information into each wheel while evoking the bare minimum amount of external busy-ness.
The number of compartments in a given wheel would also have significance to the type of associations carried by that wheel. It is a part of the alphanumeric tradition (encompassing multiple ancient languages) that the letter-numbers are each strongly associated with a discrete principle or natural law. The lower the number, the closer to Source that principle stands in the great scheme of creation. This idea gives great power to the single digits and their attendant Principles. To give a few examples :
- Four is the number of directions (N, S, E, W) and elements (earth, air, fire, water) that fill up the earthly world.
- Five points to a synthesis and amalgamation of the four elements into a living substance called "quintessence", representing what is special and unique about humanity within the whole of Creation.
- Six is the number of complimentary opposites, achieving this meaning via the polarity of 2 multiplied by the harmony of 3 (the number of the Trinity), symbolized by three balanced pairs of opposites interacting through a six-pointed star.
- Seven always refers to the Seven Planetary Governors, the visible planets in the nighttime sky, and the cultural week of seven days.
- Eight is the compass points, which mark the solstices, equinoxes and cross-quarter observances of the agricultural year.
One who is aware of this canon of interior associations with the letter-numbers' individual identities comes into possession of a rich body of correspondences with which to harness the number/letters for more than just their ordering and counting functions. Lull's use of letters as both numbers and esoteric identities (governing the themes of his differently-numbered Wheels) encouraged future generations' use of alphabetical organization in their Art of Memory emblems, as we see in the Tarot packs, the Mantegna emblems, and the Lazzarelli Trumps.
That being said, however, it is worthy of note that Lazzarelli chooses to number his images in Roman Numerals, as we also see in the Mantegna series. Roman numerals would have been experienced as considerably less glamorous and more prosaic than Arabic numerals or letters of a magical alphabet would have been in the same context . This makes me wonder whether the numbering system of the Lazzarelli series was intended to carry esoteric content as were the names, the myths, the poses and the allegorical nature of the costumes and symbols that the emblems are associated with. Is it possible that those Roman numerals are merely there to serve as a convenience, for putting the images in a rudimentary order, rather than being intended to carry another layer of significant symbolism meant to enhance the icon's individual meanings? (Anybody familiar with my work will realize that I am usually allergic to thoughts like these. Nevertheless, we will see later that there's an arbitrariness to the ordering of some of the emblems, both in the Mantegna series and in the Lazzarelli images, implying that the pattern of their presentation may not be the only or final order that should be used with them.)
Obviously, this is another of the many questions that will have to be set aside for a further study.
More Alpha/numeric Considerations (on the side...)
The alphabetic subplot present in the Tarot Trumps makes us question whether there might be a similar underpinning to Lazzarelli's choices, including the five 'extra' images in his series. This topic was taken up, alongside the overall discussion about the Muses, at the Aeclectic Tarot forum, in a thread devoted to Lazzarelli - http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=35389&page=1&pp=1. The following quotes were gleaned from that thread, which is fascinating to read in its entirety, though some lines of thought represented in the conversation were subsequently put to rest when Hanegraaff's book on Lazzarelli came out in 2005. For the sake of completeness, I'll mention a few ideas here.
In a post I first made at TarotL - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TarotL - in May of 2000, (which John Meador later re-posted at the Aeclectic Lazzarelli site), I cited these remarks about the significance of 27 units in the series. I had totally forgotten about writing this until his reposting of it:
Lazzarelli does not stay with the Decave as his major model, but he has clearly been influenced by it. ...Looking among my alphabetic references, I find that <Stephen> Flowers (of Hermetic Magic), gives us several versions of Phoenician-based number-letter alphabets with more than 24 letters. However, it is Hulse, in his Key to it All, Book 2, p. 8, that says" "by 400 BCE, a 27-character alphanumeric code for Greek was established paralleling the Hebrew 27 alphabet model of King Ezra.
In a further chapter, after introducing the original six Latin letters which since 300 bce have had numeric value (the Roman Numerals), Hulse then goes into Lull's "Latin Cabala", which he based on three series of nine letters (for the terrestrial, intellectual, and celestial worlds). This makes a total of 27! On page 121 of Book II, Hulse gives very simple instructions for converting Lull's combinatory wheels into a "philosophical machine" of 27 cards ... Lull was very interested in converting both Jews and Moslems to Christianity, so he went with a "new" arrangement that was constructed with the ideas from Astrology and Hebrew interwoven with his base-9 wheels, perhaps so the Christians and Moslems would not reject the system as being too Jewish... Lull, then, could have provided the logic for the Lazzarelli Triumphs." -- Christine Payne-Towler
It is only fair to mention, however, the astute objection (raised by Huck) in this thread at Aeclectic: The manuscript of Lazzarelli's at the Vatican is arranged in two "Books" and an epilogue of sorts, consisting of the first 11 Trumps, the second 11 Trumps, and then the final five. This is the "official" structure (of the poem at least), whereas the Planets-and-Signs model of 10 +12 is implied just below the surface of the images, because of their names. Hence, if there is also a Lullian set of three nines embedded within this structure, it is fairly well obscured by the Decaves of the Mantegna and the machinations of Lazzarelli in creating his 12-image set. (That by itself is not an argument for failing to investigate this possibility! The Renaissance magi delighted in the rebus-like crenellations of their interrelated systems.)
Another contribution from John Meador at the Aeclectic Tarot Forum thread about Lazzarelli (quote 40) brings up this tidbit that goes a long way towards helping us to decode the meaning of the extra five cards:
"According to Claude Mignault of Dijon: "Thus Homer, that greatest of geniuses, represented the first four elements, fighting among themselves and producing each other, under the names of Jove, Juno, Neptune, and Pluto. "
This strengthens the supposition that these 'extra' Trump-like emblems might be holding the places that the Aces do in a traditional Tarot pack -- this small grouping could be the four Aces and a Significator, for example, allowing the Victory card to stand in for the questioner in a prognostication (much like the Etteilla packs do with their Male and Female Consultant Trumps.)
On a more poignant note, it strikes me that the Victory card, as an extra idea above and beyond the Trumps and the elemental Aces, could be serving as a personal talisman of Lazzarelli's, an Art of Memory token reminding him to keep his eye on the highest goal and don't let either life or circumstance interfere with the vision. It is known that Lazzarelli had a life of setbacks and near misses, and he ended his later years feeling slighted by fate and unappreciated by his times. It is conceivable that this image is both a paean to the spirit world in its supremacy over "fallen" matter, and a request that magically borders on a command. (Which request/command, I might add, is being fulfilled right here and now!)
Now that we have heard some interesting leads about the count of 27 and the possible identity of the extra emblems, it's time to lay those subjects aside, since they are not our central issue. Our concern is to follow up any clue that can help us understand the thinking guiding Lazzarelli to fit the Mantegna emblems into an explicitly Tarot framework. Towards that end, it's time to step back into the process of contextualizing the Muses some more, in hopes that gradually the issues will become clearer.
The Art of Memory Catalogue
After exposure to the thinking of Lull, any interested esotericist could easily visualize the circuit of the Tarot Trumps as multiple wheels carrying letter-codes, all spinning on the same axis. As we learned from Mindon, it would be up to the individual user to decide which traditional framework those visualized Tarot wheels corresponded to, including but not limited to:
- Tarot historian's well-known and beloved (3x7)+1 pattern, which also appears in select locations of the Old and New Testaments, or
- the 3/7/12 pattern of the Kabala, or
- the 11/11 pattern of Fludd (collating the Hebrew Letters to God and the ten ranks of Angels, descending down through the Planetary Septenary to the Four Elements) << show Fludd's Ptolemaic Universe 1, we probably have it in our Archives, it's a giant Wheel/spiral with alphabetic coils>>, or
- a Lullian pattern such as the 3x9 pattern that Hulse explicates
- the similar 10/2/10 or (10/12) pattern adapted by Lazzarelli from Mantegna, which assimilates the Planets to the Spheres and then blends the zodiac with the Muses, Apollo and the specifically magian Arts of Music and Poetry.
There were a variety of sources through which our contemporary Tarot Magi could be exposed to a full and representational catalogue of traditional Art of Memory visualizations, suitable for adding interpretive understanding to any series of Trumps in circulation at the time. Jocelyn Godwin highlights several examples in The Pagan Dream of the Renaissance:
- Hypnerotomachia Poliphili
- the Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini (a Christian Neoplatonic treatise in stone, focused on death and the afterlife, illustrating Porphyry's On the Cave of the Nymphs in the Odyssey, created by Leon Battista Alberti; 1404 -1472)
- The Florentine Picture Chronicle Hall of the Months, in the Schifanoia Palace, Ferrara
I'm not sure that a comprehensive list currently exists exemplifying all the possible bodies of correspondences that might have been applied to the early Tarots in a meaningful manner. However, even these few suggestions ought to be enough to demonstrate that the environment within which the Tarot appeared was supplied with a rich mix of inspirational materials derived from Pagan Antiquity, the mysticism of the Arabs and the East in general, the scriptures of Judaism and Christianity, plus a potent brew of contemporary gnostic, magical, Holy Grail and alchemical speculations. In truth, the Tarot researcher is presented with an embarrassment of riches when attempting to winnow the possibilities down to the most likely sources for a given set of images!
In the case of the Lazzarelli Trumps, we are incredibly lucky in that Lazzarelli left us a substantial trail of crumbs to follow, though it has long been ignored. Even better, Lazzarelli's fame is considerably enhanced through his recently released English-language biography. Hanegraaff is an amazing scholar, who, among other amazing productions, is the author of the excellent article Sympathy or the Devil; Renaissance Magic and the Ambivalence of Idols (http://www.esoteric.msu.edu/VolumeII/Sympdevil.html). In this article, Hanegraaff used Lazzarelli's Trump set to demonstrate that these kinds of emblems would have been seen as inherently magical from the very first instance of Tarot's appearance.
Hanegraaff is one of the major formative influences on the emerging new academic discipline of Western Esotericism. Future generations of Tarot researchers will find that he is, wittingly or not, providing a firm backstop with which to brace open the door to Tarot's inner sanctum, that hallowed realm which is always in danger of being slammed shut by materialists who think "there's nothing left to study in that empty chamber". Nothing pleases me more than to sing this man's praises as a benefactor to our humble and beleaguered Art! (In this I mean to highlight his entire body of work, not just this work on Lazzarelli.)
The Mantegna Canon of hierarchy
[visit the link above for several tables of illustrations and explanations at Trionfi]
The challenge of interpreting the ordering of Lazzarelli's choice of Trump subjects is illustrated by looking over the Mantegna emblem series.
What we see here is an attempt to merge multiple orders of entities
inherited from the classical world into a 10x5 matrix. This required
some creative cutting and pasting, because to make these neat, tidy
rows of ten items each, older models had to be rounded up to fill in
the empty categories.
Starting on the foundation of the "Ranks of Man" (1-10), our decave-based ordering is set. The next series (11-20) on this rising Ladder of Lights are the 9 Muses, which are easily completed by Apollo, the leader of the group who sits at the "top" of the list. But let us not allow ourselves to become complacent towards this series of images, because it comprises a surprisingly tough Gordian Knot that we will have to mediate long and hard on before we can come close to untangling it.
The Muses were first named and codified by Hesiod (2nd C.), however their tradition has seen fairly regular re-arrangement from one era to the next. For now, let's just note that these Muses are presented exactly oppositely in the Mantegna series than in the Lazzarelli series. By this I mean, the Mantegna series gives the lowest number in the series to the "highest" of the Muses, listing them by their planetary rulers in "top-down order" so to speak (following a list proposed by Ramos and promulgated by Gafori). Lazzarelli, on the other hand, shares this same list but places the lowest muse on the lowest number, effectively raising his student's sights as the muses appear one after the other. So where the Mantegna presents them as if descending from the heavens, Lazzarelli presents them as if ascending from the Moon to the Stars. (There are other peculiarities apparent in this list, but we will get to them later.)
The next rising series (21-30) portrays the Liberal Arts, though these number only seven -- first the three verbal arts (grammar, logic, and rhetoric), then the four mathematical arts (geometry, arithmetic, music and poetry ). To fill out the row, an extra set of three items is inserted at the high-numbered end of the list, called Philosophia, Astrologia. and Theosophia. Note that because of the decision made to put the three 'extra' emblems at the top of the list, the correspondences are broken between the Muses and the Arts (Urania, muse of Astrology, is in an entirely different number-column than her Art in the row above).
The next series (31-40) is similarly challenging to fit into a 10-based context. This time we are cataloging the Virtues. In this row, the three highest numbers in the series (in descending order) are given to the three theological Virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity). Then we start counting down through the four classical Virtues (Justice, Strength, Prudence and Temperance). The lowest numbers in this row have been given to three entirely novel (and youthfully masculine) personifications: Cosmico (Genius of the Cosmos, or alternately, of Earth, the dimension of Space -- interpretations vary), Chronico (genius of Time), and Iliaco (Genius of Light). The editorial choice to put these three values at the beginning of the row again jogs the correspondences askew.
Finally, the uppermost row of images (41-50) show the Planetary Firmaments (or Governors) from the Moon to Saturn, then an Eighth Sphere, the Primum Mobile (Prime Mover, 9th Sphere) and the Prima Causa (First Cause, 10th Sphere). Again, the extra three that complete the row are placed at the uppermost end of the list, filling the final positions in the entire sequence.
Even before we investigate the details, we can see that the Mantegna pack of icons unabashedly handles these traditional values as if they were pliable and available to interpretive rearrangement despite their long-settled individual characters and internal relations. A tolerance of experimentation seems to have been dawning among our musical doctors at this magical time. One supposes that it seemed logical and appropriate for that milieu, to present a syncretistic amalgamation of both new and old icons, cast in a fresh order. I'm guessing that the spirit of experiment demonstrated in the Mantegna series was part of the reason Lazzarelli responded with his own proposal for a Tarot Trump series in the Mantegna spirit.
Looking at the Muses with extra care
The Muses have a long history, which isn't necessary to rehearse here. Of the names mentioned among Godwin's musical Magi, only Ficino and Pico show up in the pages of Hanegraaff's biography of Lazzarelli. However, certain individuals stand out for their comprehensive attention to the history and attributes of the Muses, and so it is to them that we will look for the conventions governing these ladies' appearances in the 1400's.
According to Ramis de Pareja (1433-1499), who quotes Martianus Capella following Marobius' Dream of Scipio:
"Thalia remains silent, like the Earth, Clio we will attribute to the moon, Calliope we will say is Mercury's; Terpsichore we affix to Venus. The sun will blanch Melpomene. Erato will rouse up Mars; Jupiter will make Euterpe kind and glad; Saturn will sadden Polyhmnia. Lastly, the starry heaven will give comeliness and peace to Eurania."
This is the system we see illustrated in the frontispiece to Franchino Gafori's Practica Musicae (Milan,
1496). Gafouri is also the principle source of Ficino's teachings on
the subject, and later, Agrippa's. Strangely enough, however, we find
Ficino and Agrippa making practical correspondences to the Muses that
differ from the quotes they take from Ramis and Gafori -- both of whom
reach back to Fulgentius. The working correspondences that both Ficino
and Agrippa give (in the cases where they differ from Ramis) follow
Proclus. Glarean, on the other hand, favors Hesiod. Clearly, there was
more than one "tradition" under consideration when the Muses were being
referenced in the Renaissance!
However, let me make note of one thing about Ramis' list, which is crucial for decoding this series of the Muses, and therefore determining what Lazzarelli might have been trying to point towards with his arrangement. The Muses are being named out in Ramis' list from the one that's closest to the human condition (Thalia; Earth) to the one that's farthest out and most celestial (Eurania; the starry heaven). This is not an arbitrary order, but is sturdily traditional, a classic formulation. The observed cyclical periods of each Planet (or Light) create the criteria for ranking the (incorrectly perceived) Solar System by the temporal length of each Sphere's circuit. Earth is at the center of an expanding cosmos, surrounded successively by the Spheres of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. We see this order reflected in the placement of the Planets on the Kabalistic Tree, on the Spheres in the Mantegna and Lazzarelli emblems, as well as in the rulership pattern that distributes the Planets across the Signs from Antiquity. This is a signature of the classic Hermetic Cosmos, which is illustrated in full at the peak of the Mantegna series as # 50, First Cause
We moderns no longer work with this model, since the heliocentric model of the ‘real world’ has supplanted it. Nevertheless this ordering is the signature of the ancient collective psyche, the psychocosm of the Medieval and Renaissance worldview. It is not an arbitrary arrangement and wherever we see it we have to realize that its user is immersed in the inheritance of Antiquity -- the heliocentric thesis would not be accepted for another two centuries at least.
It would be reasonable to assume that both Mantegna and Lazzarelli knew the traditional planet-order of the Muses, just as it had come down to them (apparently from Hesiod), but that does not stop them from upsetting that order when they present their own version. Both series appear in this order:
Translated into ruling planets according to Ramis, that means the Planets are being referenced in this order:
- Stellar Sphere
This is a totally jumbled list, whether it is numbered with an
ascending or a descending count! What can possibly be going on with
this set of Muses?
Further Anomalies among the Muses
Let's look again at the way Lazzarelli is using recycled ingredients to propose a new set of Tarot trumps. It isn't just the emblems from the Mantegna set that Lazzarelli is recasting. He's also restating the Trumps of the Tarot. Intriguingly, he's also implying a sibling relationship to the oddly Trumped Cary-Yale Visconti series, which like Lazzarelli's own series, selects some of its subjects from the canon of Mantegna ideas. (The Cary-Yale Visconti pack highlights Faith, Hope, and Charity, the theological Virtues, among its Trumps.) Clearly, Lazzarelli has surveyed the iconological landscape and has made his choices in an informed manner.
We already know that Lazzarelli's Trump order departs entirely from the familiar Marseilles-style ordering that we have grown accustomed to over the centuries. Instead, he chose to creatively modify a foreshortened set of Mantegna icons while still understatedly holding onto the Hebrew alphabet format. For reasons we are not fully appraised of, he holds his Trump-count down to 22, thus implying (or begging the question of) the Hebrew alphabet he's studying in the Sefir Yezira and the Zohar (both of which Lazzarelli quotes directly in his writings.) Most of the handmade packs and the early woodblock printed decks of the era also had a 22-unit Trumps sets, which reminds us to look for a set of correspondences that relates to the Planet/Sign/Element links that the Hebrew letters bring to the table.
Being aware of the 3/7/12 structure of the Hebrew alphabet as he was, but taking advantage of the Mantegna ordering as he did, Lazzarelli combines the component of 3 (elements) and the component of 7 (planets) into his opening series of the 10 Spheres. These can be understood in Kabalistic as well as Astronomical terms. The Spheres are then followed by a muse-denominated sequence that (generally speaking) starts with the earthly pursuits and gradually climbs to celestial levels. This instantly brings to mind the gnostic vision of the Soul being successively unwound from its planetary bindings, allowing it to ascend to its pre-incarnational origin. If the idea of a resemblance between the Trumps of Tarot and the Lazzarelli series holds water, then the 12 signs should somehow inform his series beginning with Music, Poetry, Apollo, and the 9 Muses.
Through his choice of this cast of characters in his Trumps, Lazzarelli assumes the user has already been exposed to these invisible Planet-to-Muse correspondences. This would not be an unreasonable assumption, because the milieu Lazzarelli mingled in had a huge fascination with the classical gods and goddesses. Even so, Lazzarelli makes it impossible to read his specific correspondences from the faces of the cards. Because he refrains from explicitly naming the correspondences that stand behind his 12-part Muse series, I suspect is that Lazzarelli has left the specifics to the user to determine. In fact, it turns out that in Lazzarelli's own era and area, there is controversy between sources about the details.
Trouble in Paradise
Over at the Triumphi site, a direct identity between the Lazzarelli/Mantegna Muses and those catalogued by Gafourio - http://www.trionfi.com/0/m/12/ - has been unquestioningly accepted. Without looking too deeply into the matter, there seems to be a one-to-one correspondence between Gafourio's presentation and both emblem series' lists of Muses. But on deeper examination, we can see several anomalies that should serve to remind us that these pictured Muses aren't simply copied out of any of the written sources.
We have already seen that the Mantegna muse list moves "down" whereas the Lazzarelli muse-list moves "up". That alone is a clear indication to take nothing for granted from the outset.
Further, because the muse Thalia has historically been corresponded to "earth" or the "subterranean realms" (meaning a realm inferior to the Moon in the old hierarchies), Thalia should claim a "zero" position in the Muse sequence, just as we see her taking in the Gafurio illustration (at the very bottom of the diagram). But in both the Mantegna icons and the Lazzarelli Trumps series, there is no such position -- each row starts with a "one" and ends with a "ten", and the "ten-value" of a previous row is never used as a pickup category for the following row. This is a difficulty for both series. In each set of icons,Thalia is poked into a middling position in the Muse sequence, where she sticks out as an anomaly compared to the list from Gafurio.
Yet again, among the lists of Muse-to-Planet correspondences I have found roughly contemporary to Lazzarelli, there are only four out of nine Muses who are unchanging from one list to the next. That's less than half! This means there were some ongoing differences of opinion about how the other five Muses might be linked regarding planet and sign rulerships. Therefore it is conceivable that these Muses can undergo rearrangement in the sequence depending on which source work is presenting the series.
Finally, in both the Mantegna series and the Lazzarelli series, the Planet sequence in the first half of the Trumps is not lined up exactly with the Muse sequence that follows. The overall ordering of both sets of Trumps is based on tens (+2 in Lazzarelli's case). Yet there are only seven visible Planets, and nine traditional Muses. That leaves both creators to figure out what images to fill in their allotted rosters with. The challenge is also raised of how to harmonize and excuse this ordering in each case.
Within a model with 50 moving parts, one has the conceptual space in which to stretch out and develop ideas in detail. But in the relatively tighter frame of reference that is the Tarot pack, one has to be concise and hit one's marks with the maximum of efficiency. Therefore it is not unusual to see the Trump cards of Tarot decks linked with multiple layers of visible and invisible correspondences simultaneously. As is often seen in attempts to simultaneously codify information from multiple correspondences, something will have to give somewhere. A certain amount of cut-and-paste is unavoidable, risking either leaving some parts of the model on the cutting-room floor, or on the other hand, including "filler" to conceal incompletely realized categories. It seems as if, for the sake of the (unknown) larger goal which both the Mantegna and the Lazzarelli Trumps were created to serve, an executive choice was made to liberate the Muses from their traditional planetary order of presentation.
A catalogue of Muse correspondences
Before attempting to pronounce on what the Mantegna/Lazzarelli Muse list might be expressing in it's eccentric order, let's tabulate the standard associations that each Muse is generally credited with.
There are four Muses that are nearly unanimously agreed-upon, which are the Muses of the Sun, Moon, Saturn, and the 8th Sphere. The corresponding pairs become Clio (Moon), Melpomene (Sun), Polimnia (Saturn) and Urania (the 8th Sphere or Starry Heavens). Ficino and Agrippa, following Proclus it seems, assign the Moon’s Muse Clio to Mars -- but that is the only variation among this whole group of four.
Five remaining Muses are thus in controversy:
Euterpe -- named by Ramis as ruled by Jupiter, but by Ficino, Agrippa and Glarean as Mercury
Thalia, -- named by Ramis as ruled by the silent Earth, but given to the Moon by Agrippa/Ficino, and to Venus by Glarean.
Erato -- named by Ramis as ruled by Mars, but given to Venus by Ficino/Agrippa, and to Jupiter by Glarean.
Terpsicore -- named by Ramis as ruled by Venus, but given to Jupiter by Ficino/Agrippa, and Mars by Glarean.
Calliope -- named by Ramis and Gafori as ruled by Mercury, given to the 9th Sphere by Agrippa/Ficino, or else "an accord of all the Muses together" by Fulganius.
Indeed, it seems that the values given by Ramos, oft repeated as they are, are not the only choices available to our Renaissance Magi. Among the several sources one might turn to for correspondences are Diodorus Siculus (Book V), Homer, Hesiod, Saint Augustine (Book II of De Doctrine Christiana), Proclus, Fulgentius, Callimachus, Aristides Quintilianus (Musica, Book II), and Herodotus of Halicarnassus (in his Hysteria).
From this little tour we can see that we have stumbled into a veritable nest of controversy! How will we ever recover our orientation?
The Transformation of Chaos into Cosmos (with apologies to Lazzarelli, who coined the phrase)
It is Gafori who points a way out of the confusion, though he doesn't completely leave the confusion behind in his own system. As Ramis' primary booster and redactor, Gafori's correspondences fall right in line with those of his predecessor. Additionally, Gafori's urge to report on every list of Muse-attributes he could find across history expands our understanding of the web of correspondences and suggests a hint of a system within these oddly ordered muses. (from Godwin's Harmony of the Spheres, p. 180-181.)
" We think, as many believe, that the muses fit the stars, modes, and strings, so that we ascribe them to single strings to which the beginnings of modes are given, placing one with each.
Subterranean Thalia is first place, as if silent...
To the lowest added string is given the beginning of the Hypodorian (because it is the lowest of the modes), and the moon, the home of Cancer (as astronomers believe) as it is the lowest planet, and Clio...
To the second string... is given the beginning of the Hypophrygian, and Mercury, home of Gemini and Virgo, and also Calliope herself...
The third string... is given to Terpsichore, the Hypolydian... and Venus, Libra and Taurus...
The fourth string... has the Sun, home of Leo, and Melpomene. It is given the Dorian mode...
On the fifth string... are Erato, Mars, Aries, Scorpio and the Phrygian mode...
The sixth string... has Jove, home of Pisces and Sagittarius, also Euterpe and the Lydian mode...
On the seventh string... is Saturn with Aquarius and Capricorn, also Polyhymnia and the Myxolydian mode.
The eight string... is given to Urania, the Hypermixolydian, and the stellar orbit....
then, is our missing information. The muses have traditional
correspondences not only to Angels, Spheres and Planets, but to the
signs as well. The correspondences attached to the Muses are such that
these ladies can be used to signal the signs of the zodiac as well as
the planets of the Solar system.
Now, perhaps, we have enough information to fit the system back together intelligibly. We have to realize up front that the Mantegna pack has reordered the Muses, for reasons we are currently not entirely clear about. Lazzarelli retains that Muse order while adding a few icons at the beginning of the sequence and flipping the orientation of the Muses' flow so they would be seen as progressing "up" the zodiacal rulership ladder (though in backwards order, opposite to the direction the sun travels). Once we bring to mind the correspondences of the Muses to the signs of the zodiac using the rulership pattern highlighted by Gafori (and used everywhere throughout the Medieval and Renaissance eras), we can begin to discern a possible underlying pattern that could be informing the ordering of the second half of Lazzarelli's Trumps.
A proposal towards Lazzarelli's Muse-to-Sign correspondences
- With the understanding in place that the correspondences I am about to assert may or may not be what Lazzarelli had in mind....
- But also knowing that he based his Muses on the jumbled-up Mantegna ordering for a reason...
- And taking into consideration that there were multiple sosurces for correspondence-lists available to choose from at the time...
- While also realizing that both the Mantegna and the Lazzarelli emblems leave it up to the user to determine his or her own Muse-to-zodiac correspondences...
...I will now share the underlying pattern that seems to be inherent
in Lazzarelli's Muses. In every case where I could, I found an
authority that was asserting the same Muse-sign correspondence as I
have given. When that matching process was complete, there were only
two Muses and two signs left unpaired. If you compare this to zodiac
list to the list of Muse/Planet correspondences given above, (where
only four Muse/Planet pairs were seen as uniform across most or all of
the historical sources, and five were seen to be wildly variant from
each other), I consider these 10-out-of-12 matches to be fairly
Stated in Zodiac Order (instead of their numbered order), we find these easily validated, historically-available correspondences:
- Trump XI
- Venus in Libra (traditional to astrology in general, icon of 'harmony')
- Trump XII
- Mercury in Virgo (not a stretch, but not canonical)
- Trump XIII
- Sun in Leo (standard)
- Trump XIV
- Moon in Cancer (according to Gafouri and Glarean)
- Trump XV
- Mercury in Gemini (according to Glarean, Ficino, Agrippa)
- Trump XVII
- Venus in Taurus (Glarean gives this match, and the Taurus reaffirms the ancient connection of Thalia to 'Earth, subterranean')
- Trump XIX
- Mars in Aries (according to Gafori, also quite standard)
- Trump XX
- Jupiter in Pisces (according to Ficino and Agrippa)
- Trump XXI
- Saturn in Aquarius (all sources give this Muse to the 8th Sphere, the starry heavens and the Octave)
- Trump XVIII
- Saturn in Capricorn (standard)
Here are the two less-certain correspondences, with the caveat that these are both 'default options' that were matched up as leftovers:
- Trump XVI
- Jupiter in Sagittarius (given to the Sun by all standard sources)
I am interpreting this energy as Jovian, suggesting the Great Benefic, since we already have a Sun card and a Leo card. This muse is said to excel in profound thought and contemplation.
- Trump XXII
- Mars in Scorpio (given variously to "the concord of all the Muses together", or to Mercury, or to the 9th Sphere).
She has been called "the leader of the Muses". Calliope has the most
ambivalent function of all, which goes along with her many-voiced
nature. I'm going with the assessment of Ramis, who says that Calliope
is an interpreter, therefore sometimes producing divinity, but that her
mode can be used to flatter evil just as easily as it is used to praise
good. Capella grants her "...the entire honesty of human speech", which
is a specialty of Scorpio energy at its highest level.
Let me admit that I would not have come to these concusions just from looking at the Mantegna muses. It's the addition of Music and Poetry to the series headed by Apollo that led to the inspiration of seeing a backwards-zodiac unfolding through Lazzarelli's Muse series. Perhaps there is some documentation attaching to the Mantegna prints that will in the long run solidify or refute this idea relative to the 50-emblem pack. However, it seems to me fairly evident that in the case of Lazzarelli's series, anyway, the signs of the zodiac are the proper set of symbols to expect to appear in concert with a recitation of the Spheres.
But how can the traditional Trumps of Tarot be reconciled with the Trumps of Lazzarelli's Emblems?
With the Lazzarelli images, the 1-22 order is:
- First Cause
- Prime Mover
- Eighth Sphere
Meanwhile, in the SY (Sefir Yetzira) and in the Tarot, the 1-22 order in the most popular branch of the Continental packs is:
Now, how shall we assign the former list to the latter list, without doing violence to the ordering of either list?
Remembering that the Trumps of Tarot were originally unnumbered, the idea arises that these icons can have more than one arrangement and still be "true". I have taken this reality from the game-uses of the cards, as I would assume Lazzarelli was quite familiar with the fact that the Trump order was variable depending on the game being played.
Taking the Lazzarelli list and drawing out the correspondences between the planets and the Muses, I linked the Trumps that are not Planetary Deities to the signs via the Muse's and letters' zodiacal rulerships. The sequence is not perfect, the Muses seem a little bit "rumpled", and were possibly still somewhat experimental at the time. Just as one can find authorities that will vouch for nearly all of these correspondences, there can also be found authorities that would oppose them all.
The attitude I have taken in making these correspondences is this: As in the ongoing controversies surrounding a few of the letter/planet correspondences in the Sefir Yezira, there are also Muse/sign controversies to be reconciled as well. There's no known expert that agrees 100% with any others. Perhaps this was why Lazzarelli specifically didn't assign Zodiac symbols to any of the cards in this part of the series, knowing that each user would need to make their own choices in this area.
The Lazzarelli Order
Here's the correspondence list again, arranged in Lazzarelli Order, with the Angels and the signs of the Zodiac added on. Note that I also condensed the 9 choirs of angels into three ternaries, because the Angels often show up as the component of three in Hebrew-letter denominated cosmogram lists. The Angels are typically assigned to the Trinity in groups of three.
- 1. First Cause --
- Father, Fire, Shin --
- rules Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, the Supernal Triangle of Kabala
- Father, Fire, Shin --
- 2. Prime Mover --
- Son, Air, Aleph --
- rules Dominations, Principalities, and Forces (Potencies), the Heart Triangle
- Son, Air, Aleph --
- 3. Eighth Sphere --
- Astral realm, Water, Sophia, Mother, Mem --
- rules Virtues, Archangels, Angels, the Generative Triangle
- Astral realm, Water, Sophia, Mother, Mem --
- Saturn -- (All planetary Trumps are assigned as named)
- Music -- Libra
- Poetry -- Virgo
- Apollo -- Leo
- Clio --
- Cancer, because this Muse is ruled by the Moon.
- Clio is the "the desire to inform oneself, the will to be taught" Sometimes thought to be the Chief of the Muses.
- Cancer, because this Muse is ruled by the Moon.
- Euterpe --
- Gemini, as this muse is ruled by Mercury.
- Euterpe "takes pleasure in learning"
- Gemini, as this muse is ruled by Mercury.
- Melpomene --
- Sagittarius via Jupiter in (my guess)
- Melpomene "perseveres in contemplation, pursues and renews by studying. "
- Sagittarius via Jupiter in (my guess)
- Talia --
- Taurus via Venus.
- Thalia (Talia) "grasps the seeds of the Virtues and germinates them, holding them fast to the Earth till they germinate."
- Taurus via Venus.
- Polimnia --
- Capricorn via Saturn.
- Polimnia is "the memory of many things", because of which she is of a melancholy temperament.
- Capricorn via Saturn.
- Erato -
- Aries via Mars.
- Erato is Eros -- this Muse "elaborates to herself what she possess in the treasury of memory". Pleasurable fantasy and self-arousal are her gifts.
- Aries via Mars.
- Terpsicore --
- Pisces via Jupiter.
- Terpsicore takes delight in the Arts, able to understand and adjudicate merit based on experience.
- Pisces via Jupiter.
- Urania --
- Aquarius via Saturn.
- Urania chooses well what to appreciate, having "the ability to select the celestial over the transitory"
- Aquarius via Saturn.
- Calliope --
- Scorpio via Mars.
- Calliope is sometimes thought to be Head of the Muses, an expressive interpreter whose pronouncements for good or ill can become destiny. She possesses "the entire honesty of human speech", being "an accord of all the Muses together"
- Scorpio via Mars.
What we see going on here is first a descent through the Spheres of
the planets, then starting with Libra, a backwards rotation through the
signs. This looks like we are unwinding the body's attachment to the
planets and elements which, if true, betrays a powerful gnostic and
Apotheosis motive in the whole series.
Putting the whole catalogue together in Sefir Yetzira alphabet order
To see how these entities line up in the "traditional Tarot order", I am presupposing the classical "continental" Tarot variants, which are of Hebrew form with the Greek-style Planets << see my alphabet chart>>:
- Air -- Prime Mover --
- Moon --
- High Priestess
- Venus --
- Jupiter --
- Aries -- Erato --
- Hierophant (Master of the Doctrine of Correspondences)
- Taurus -- Talia --
- Lovers (germinator and nurturer of seeds)
- Gemini --Euterpe --
- Cancer -- Clio --
- Justice (desire to know the truth of things)
- Leo -- Apollo --
- Virgo -- Poetry --
- Mars --
- Libra -- Music --
- Hanged Man
- Water -- 8th Sphere --
- Scorpio -- Calliope --
- Sagittarius -- Melpomene --
- Capricorn -- Polimnia --
- Tower (walls of Jericho)
- Mercury --
- Aquarius -- Urania--
- Moon (Voice of the Astral Waters)
- Pisces -- Terpsichore --
- Sun (delight in the Arts, sings of joy, arouses holy tears)
- Saturn --
- Judgment (Resurrection) -- here Saturn "eats up" the unripe souls at the Ring Pass Not; only Initiates may enter the Empyrean
- Fire -- First Cause --
- Sun --
- Fool (as in Holy Fool, the Wisdom of the Fool, the Fool for God)
Putting the whole catalogue together in Lazzarelli Order:
- I First Cause =
- Trump 21, World card;
- Father, Fire, Shin -- rules Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones
- Trump 21, World card;
- II Prime Mover =
- Son, Air, Aleph -- rules Dominations, Principalities, and Forces (Potencies)
- III Eighth Sphere=
- Death ; Astral realm, Water, Sophia,
- Mother, Mem -- rules Virtues, Archangels, Angels
- Death ; Astral realm, Water, Sophia,
- IV Saturn =
- V Jupiter =
- VI Mars =
- VII Sun =
- Fool (#0)
- VIII Venus =
- IX Mercury =
- X Moon =
- XI Music (Libra) =
- Hanged One
- XII Poetry (Virgo) =
- XIII Apollo (Leo) =
- XIV Clio (Cancer) =
- XV Euterpe (Gemini) =
- XVI Melpomene (Sagittarius) =
- XVII Thalia (Taurus) =
- XVIII Polimnia (Capricorn) =
- XIX Erato (Aries) =
- XX Terpsicore (Pisces) =
- The Sun (Trump #19)
- XXI Urania (Aquarius) =
- Moon (Trump #18)
- XXII Calliope (Scorpio) =
The Vista from Initiation Mountain
To complete this survey, I'd like to share a beautiful quote from page 216-7 of Fideler's article "Reviving the Academies of the Muses" in Alexandria #3, sharing the etymology of the spiritual journey with the Muses:
"While the muses can be invoked anywhere, certain mountains and groves are especially sacred to them. The Greek poet Hesiod was approached by the Muses while working as a shepherd on Mount Helikon; they conferred on him a scepter of laurel and breathed into him 'a divine voice to celebrate the things that were and shall be.' In his work thus inspired, the Theogony, Hesiod describes the Muses, 'all of one mind,' as spinning about the peak of the cosmic mountain, nine voices united in one song;
There are their bright dancing-places and beautiful homes, and beside them the Graces and Desire live in delight. And they, uttering through
their lips a lovely voce, sing the laws of all and the goodly ways of the immortals, uttering their lovely voice.
While the Greek mountains of Olympos, Helikon and Parnassos were variously identified as the home of the Muses, what is being described here is an archetypal reality, the symbol of the World Mountain common to many traditions. The Cosmic Mountain is a polar, axial symbol located at the center of the world, depicting the levels and hierarchy of being. As we ascend from the miasma of the depths, at first the journey is arduous and painful; but as we progress, it becomes easier and more inviting. At the higher altitudes, the atmosphere is transformed; it becomes clearer, translucent, impregnated with light. We are led upward not in a spirit of conquest, but in a spirit of delight: the haunting choral harmonies of the muses draw us skyward to their bright dancing places, and we are treated to ever more spectacular vistas along the way. Finally, at last, under the direct inspiration of the Muses, we join in their dance and encircle the pole of culture.
The upward ascent under the enchanting inspiration of the Muses is a spiritual journey of cultivation, education and initiation. This is made clear by ancient Indo-European root k*el- [cpt: * =superscript w], which means 'to revolve, move around, sojourn, dwell'. Its basic form gives rise to the Latin colere, to till, cultivate, and inhabit, from which are derived the words colony, cult, cultivate, and culture. A suffixed form of k*el- gives rise to the Greek telos, 'completion of a cycle,' which also means consummation, perfection, end, and result, while teleos means perfect and complete, and is the root of the word initiation (telete) Other suffixed forms of k*el- stand behind the Old English word for wheel and the Greek word kuklos, which means circle and cycle. Yet another suffixed form of k*el- is the source of the Greek world polos or pole, the central axis of a sphere around which all things revolve.
By 'going back to the roots of things', it is possible to see the powerful connections which exist between cultivation, culture and the process of initiation, which denotes a form of personal 'ripening' and becoming who you really are. True culture -- the origins of which are traditionally ascribed to divine inspiration -- encircles a central pole, which gives birth to the city or polis. The words which spring from the Indo-European root k*el- suggest that both culture and personal cultivation (education) encompass a cyclical dimension, something also suggested by the word encyclopaideia, which means 'in the cycle of learning'. True education, rather than something assimilated during four years of college, forms a cyclical process of cultivation and an authentic path of initiation which extends for a lifetime, and perhaps even beyond."
September 11, 2007
copyright christine payne-towler 2005-2007, all rights reserved
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