Etteilla Tarot Reconstruction: First Septenary

I’ve started a new project– a reconstruction of the Grand Etteilla. (The deck name won’t be “Etteilla Tarot Reconstruction,” I assure you. It’ll have some overly fancy name. That’s just a placeholder for now.)

The project premise I defined for myself was “reconstruction of the Etteilla,” but the first challenge presented was, which Etteilla? What do you mean by a “reconstruction” of the “Etteilla”? And then, like, the deeper I tried to philosophize on those questions, the faster my brain melted. =(

Here, I’m saying reconstruction because I will be rebuilding the deck with more overtly Hermetic references from the Divine Pymander, which I believe was Etteilla’s original intention. And while I want to stay true to the original imagery– I do– I’m also adamant that the overall approach needs to be updated.

Livre de Thot Engravings by Pierre-Francois Basan (1723-1797)

Tarot historians designate three major iterations of the Etteilla: the Grand Etteilla I, which would be Etteilla’s own pack and its direct descendants, circa 1791; the Grand Etteilla II published as the grand livre de Thot under Julia Orsini, believed to be a pseudonym for the publisher, circa 1838; and the Grand Etteilla III published as the Grand jeu de l’Oracles des Dames, first printed by G. Regamey around 1865. Both II and III were produced by the most notable students of Etteilla’s school of cartomancy. [Decker, Depaulis, and Dummett]

But… (!!!) there’s no real consensus on that. So you’re going to find different Etteilla I, II, III designations in different places. As if I’m not confused enough. =)

There’s also the Jeu de la Princesse Tarot circa 1843 sandwiched somewhere in between II and III, considered an offspring of Etteilla I. Another edition of Jeu de la Princesse Tarot seven years later changed Card No. 1 from the Male Querent (or The Man who Consults) to Thoth and Card No. 8 (previously the Female Querent) to Princess Tarot–“Princess Tarot” being described as a priestess or seer of Thebes and Memphis. After that there were a few more versions of the Etteilla of varying styles.

Grand Etteilla Egyptian Tarot (France 1969)

A 1969 Grimaud version of the Grand Etteilla features astrological correspondences where the first twelve cards are the zodiac signs, Aries through Pisces. So Card 1: Chaos is Aries, Card 2: Light (The Sun card) is Taurus, Card 3: Flora (The Moon card) is Gemini, and so on.

Then the ten pip cards in the suit of Coins correspond with the Sacred Seven planets, Lot of Fortune, and two lunar nodes. So the Ace of Coins corresponds with the sun, the Two of Coins with Mercury, the Three of Coins with Venus, etc.

From Jeu Des 78 Tarots Égyptiens: Livre De Thot (Paris, 1800-1850) published by Z. Lismon

The first seven cards also signify genesis, expressive of Creation. Then Card No. 8 in the second septenary is the High Priestess (in some versions of Etteilla) or more frequently, titled Rest, for the Biblical seventh day of creation when God rested, which He then made holy.

Card No. 1 In the beginning…
Card No. 2 upright Day 1 of Creation Light
Card No. 3 upright Day 3 of Creation Land, Sea, and the Plant Kingdom
Card No. 4 upright Day 2 of Creation The Sky
Card No. 5 upright Day 6 of Creation Land Creatures & Humans*
Card No. 6 upright Day 4 of Creation Sun, Moon, and Stars
Card No. 7 upright Day 5 of Creation Sea Creatures & Sky Creatures
Card No. 8 upright Day 7 of Creation Rest

And here’s how I interpreted the order of Creation that’s expressed in the first seven cards, per the Corpus Hermeticum:

Card No. 1 Void / Chaos
Card No. 2 Light
Card No. 3 Time
Card No. 4 Space
Card No. 5 Matter
Card No. 6 Quintessence
Card No. 7 The Tree of Life / World Tree

Card No. 1 is the Male Querent while Card No. 8 is the Female Querent. The left two cards above are two different versions of the Male Querent card and the right two are versions of the Female Querent significator card. If you’re confused and secretly wondering if you’re dumb, don’t worry– I’m right there with you. I don’t get it either.

Continue reading “Etteilla Tarot Reconstruction: First Septenary”

The Pages: Tarot Card Meanings

This is Video 14 in an educational series on the tarot cards. Closed captioning is provided for all videos in this series. A written transcript is also provided as a free pdf download.

Download the written Video Transcript

The Tarot Pages


The transcript for every video lecture is provided. You can go to the Video Series Homepage, scroll down to “CONTENTS LISTING,” and download the PDF transcript notes for each installment.

The Corpus Hermeticum / Divine Pymander (text download)

I’m currently reconstructing an Etteilla tarot deck, and as part of my process, I’m deep-diving into the Divine Pymander (one version of the Corpus Hermeticum) because Etteilla was reportedly obsessed with the Pymander and gave that text a great deal of sacred authority.

And so to do a proper Etteilla deck, I thought I had better get myself familiarized with this text that he personally placed so much importance on.

(Kinda like how, in order to get into Eliphas Levi, I had to first get into the Key of Solomonhyperlinked Key of Solomon will take you to a free text download)

So I compiled the 1650 Everard translation of the Divine Pymander and the 1906 Mead translation of the Corpus Hermeticum tractates together into a book for convenient referencing. These texts date back to the 2nd century AD, if not earlier, and are discourses in the form of Socratic dialogues on the nature of God (divinity), humanity, the mind, alchemy, and astrology. You’ll also find a lot of crossover with Gnostic doctrine.

As far as I can gather, the Pymander and the body of texts referred to as the Corpus Hermeticum are the same, except there are more tractates, or books, in the Pymander than there are in Mead’s 1906 translation of the Corpus Hermeticum. Since both are included in this compiled book, you can do your own due diligence. In this text download, I’ve also included a few inserts from the Nag Hammadi discovered in 1945 and now added to the Hermetic corpus.

Continue reading “The Corpus Hermeticum / Divine Pymander (text download)”

Cirque du Tarot by Leeza Robertson and Josh Tufts

The Cirque du Tarot is a Llewellyn deck by acclaimed author Leeza Robertson and illustrated by Josh Tufts. I am a really big fan of Tufts’ art. It’s got this Neo-Impressionistic flavor with a little Georges Seurat inspiration. Tufts is a master at character design, which is why this tarot circus cast springs to life.

I love the way Tufts works with contrast and lighting. The colors are just absolutely exquisite. There’s almost a Moulin Rouge aesthetic in low saturation where the colors are pale, giving the art a misty, dream-like atmosphere.

If you can, click onto the photographs so you can view the layout of cards on a large monitor. Zoom in and take a look at the detailing. Don’t know if you’ve read Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, but I’m getting those vibes as well.

For the court cards, the same digital image is used for each rank/title, with different coloring. In the above photo, the last four cards in the bottom row, which all look alike, are the four Pages. The coloring of the smoke around the mirrors is what lets you know which suit the Page is from. Some of the minor detailing in the backdrop also differ.

Above you see the four Knights and the four Queens. “The court of this troupe is not quite as you would expect, for it is not as vast as you are accustomed,” writes Robertson, anticipating how the court cards might be perceived. “Instead of sixteen members, you will find only four sharing the stage of the sixteen court cards.”

The subdivisions of the tarot deck are described as five acts, an intermission, and an encore. Act I introduces you to the main characters– the Major Arcana. A brief intermission takes you into the court cards, which represent the backstage where the actors are preparing for the next four acts of the show. Thus, the Pages are in a quiet dressing room. The Knights are non-binary, without specified gender roles. In all four Knights, the figure is preparing their dress.

Act II is the world of Swords, “where you will travel through space and time to see worlds within worlds.” Above you’ll see the cards Ace through Ten of Swords. I love the interpretation of this airy suit through the Cirque du Tarot– here is a “land of dreams and nightmares.” This Act is one of mentalism, delving into the workings of your mind. “They will explore your dreams, your fears, your nightmares, your points of inspiration, and your decision-making.”

Act III starts with a bang as the ringmaster lights up the stage with the fiery Wands. “It’s all fire and smoke,” is the tagline introducing the chapter on the Wands. This is the stage of the fire dancers. The Wands and the Pentacles suits in this deck stay the most consistent in terms of a limited color set following the elemental. There’s more color variety in the Swords and Cups.

Act IV moves us from fire to water and we flow through the world of Cups. And finally, Act V takes us to the land of Pentacles, where time, work, and gears grind together. These are the four worlds– the wonders of balancing blades, blazing fire dancers, water acrobatics, and clockwork machines. The Pentacles suit has a steampunk vibe to it, doesn’t it?

I love how Robertson stays “in character” throughout the guidebook. It’s written as if the tarot deck is a circus show extravaganza.

Yet it’s practical and will serve a tarot beginner well. For each card you get a full-page spread. You’ll get the Ally aspect of the card and the Challenger aspect.

Whimsical yet mystical, charismatic with its humor and yet with Robertson’s masterfully written card meanings, a very readable deck, Cirque du Tarot is kitsch with substance. Tufts artwork plus Robertson as the ringmaster, with her mischievous-magical written text create a delightful chemistry. If you like the creepy-cute aesthetic or want to add a tarot deck to your collection that’s an homage to entertainers, then you’re going to love Cirque du Tarot.


FTC Disclosure: In accordance with Title 16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 255, “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” I received this deck and guidebook set from its publisher for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck.

The Tens: Tarot Card Meanings

I’m so close to completing the Minor Arcana for this series. =) Here we are on the Tens, then the Pages, and done. At least for the Minors. After that, the Majors.

But as of this moment, I’m anticipating that the Majors should go fairly quickly. I plan on doing a septenary per video, so that’s  7 of the Majors knocked out in each installment. I dunno. What do you prefer– long videos covering more cards? Or short videos with less cards covered in each?

Download the written Video Transcript

The Tarot Tens


The transcript for every video lecture is provided. You can go to the Video Series Homepage, scroll down to “CONTENTS LISTING,” and download the PDF transcript notes for each installment.

The Deep Place Oracle by Rae Serafina Barker

The Deep Place Oracle by Rae Serafina Barker is a 60-card oracle deck created to help you process the depths of your emotions, to work through grief, to be there as a companion and guide when you navigate the dark night of your soul, and to be the light when you explore your shadows.

It is a hug deck in the best possible way, creating an expansive space for you to work through difficult times and complex feelings. As the deck description notes, this deck is to help you when you’re “journeying through the deep place” and need a guiding light to “illuminate truth, expand your sense of what’s possible, and bless your unfolding.”

There are three subdivisions in this deck’s architecture: The Above, The Below, and The Liminal. The Above is the daylight world–that which is visible and clear; that which you can  already see, that you already know, and experience in full light of consciousness. This is about validating and reinforcing your awareness. Cards like Emergence, North Star, Aliveness, Embrace, Melody, and Beauty are from The Above.

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The Archeo Personal Archetype Cards by Nick Bantock

Nick Bantock is the author of 30 books, with about a dozen of them making bestseller lists, including the New York Times. He’s also an artist. His latest publication is a deck of personal archetype cards, The Archeo.

This deck of 40 cards represents 40 inner facets, or characters of you that make up your identity, though some– or most– of these facets remain latent. Archetypes are flexible, not fixed, stereotypes, and meditations on our inner archetypes help us to grow and shape our individual needs.

The term “archeo” is coined by Bantock to represent the concept of multiple archetypes in one. The word also calls to mind “archiac,” to signify that these archetypes are primordial, and are psyches we’ve inherited from our ancestors. The purpose Bantock set out to achieve with The Archeo cards is to produce a tool that will help you to cultivate a healthy, functional personal mythology.

Continue reading “The Archeo Personal Archetype Cards by Nick Bantock”