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.
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.
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.
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”