I’ve gotten a bit undisciplined, or at the very least haphazard with the order I’m drawing these cards. I hop and skip around the deck, arbitrarily picking what to draw next based on my whims.
So here we are at the Wheel of Fortune.
I went with the 1870 Jeu de l’Oracle des Dames version of Card 20 for reference. The monkey king with a cape and sword situation didn’t really vibe with me.
Lady Fortuna as depicted in the illustration is a syncretizing of Haudenosaunee traditional indigenous patterns draped in a Greco-Roman style. (Update: I digitally fixed her left sleeve so it wouldn’t be so wonky looking.)
Just another blog post update on the progress of my Etteilla deck. This is the Ace, Two, and Three of Cups.
Please continue to treat what you see in these progress posts as works-in-progress. Everything is subject to change. Keywords are temporary placeholders. And I still don’t know about the final layout design.
Ace of Cups
My last Etteilla tarot deck project update left off with an incomplete Ace of Cups. I’m back from my hiatus, but due to a lot going on in my life right now, the pace at which I’ll be creating these cards will be significantly slower than what I could do for the SKT.
For the suit name I decided on Cups instead of Chalices because this isn’t an occulty esoteric deck like the SKT. I want the Etteilla deck to feel more mundane and versatile.
Etteilla associated the Ace of Cups card with the Ten Commandments, so in the reversed position, I feature the Ark of the Covenant, which houses the tablets.
The Ark is depicted on the Ace of Cups reversed as a divinatory omen that a profound change has already occurred in the querent, a complete change to your essence that results from reconciliation between Divine Will and personal will.
There’s also another fun connection. In theosophic numerology, the Ace of Cups corresponds with the number 4. Note here in Etteilla’s numbering, card 49 = 4 (4 + 9 = 13, 1 + 3 = 4). And that Ark image I’m using is the same one from SKT’s Key 4: The Emperor. =)
I’ll be taking a several-month hiatus from working on the Etteilla deck project because I have a book manuscript to complete. But before I take that hiatus, I want to “leave off” on a happy card.
And the last card of the Second Septenary in the Etteilla– The Devil– isn’t quite the happy card I’m thinking of. =)
So I’ve started the Ace of Cups, and am intentionally leaving it incomplete. That way it’s the prolonging energies in my space until I return. More about that. Keep reading.
POLL #1: Should I call the suit Chalices or Cups? I think technically for this deck, it’s supposed to be Chalices, right? But Cups just flows off the tongue better than Chalices, and much easier to verbalize. Let me know what you think.
What we call the “Petit Etteilla” refers to a class of 32-card piquet decks for cartomancy based on Etteilla’s 1770 text, which used the courts (Kings, Queens, Jacks), Aces, Tens, Nines, Eights, and Sevens from a playing card deck. To the 32-card pack, Etteilla added a 33rd card called “Etteilla” to designate the querent. And thus he proposed that the original Egyptian tarot pack consisted of 33 cards.
UPDATE: I referred to this deck as a “Petit Etteilla” because that’s how the British Museum referred to it. However, one of our community’s preeminent tarot historians, with a particularly vast amount of knowledge on the Etteilla, John Choma, came back with some clarifications.
This is not a Petit Etteilla deck, but an unrelated deck called the “Livre du Destin” (or Book of Fate), created some time in the mid-1800s. You can check out a few historic examples (thank you, John, for the links!): here (M. Violet, éditeur), here (Le Livre du destin), and here. These images are also notably similar to other 19th-century oracle decks like the 53-card Sibylle des Salons and the 36-card Petit Cartomancien.
You can ignore the misalignment issue with the card numbers (like what you see above between 7 and 8) because I need to change the layout design entirely.
Above for reference you’ll find Cards 7 & 8 from Etteilla II on the left and how they look in Etteilla III on the right (these are illustrations from the Lemarchand text). I’m slowly translating the card meanings found in the Orsini and Lemarchand texts from French to English for the guidebook.
Eighteen cards in and I realize my initial vision for the layout design is not going to work. The font size right now is at 64 pts. By my estimations, it needs to be at 85 pts.
Instead of continuing on to the second septenary of Majors, in order, I realized that practically speaking, I had better try my hand on some of the pips early on, because the last thing I want to happen is to finish the artistic labor for all the Majors then start on the pips, only to realize I hated the direction I was going in and having to abandon the project altogether, after all that work had already been done.
So I thought, okay, let me see if I can even come up with a good approach to the pip cards first, before committing to this deck project.
But where do I start? I started at the tail end of the deck (but not Card 78 or Key 0 The Fool). I started with Card 77, the Ace of Coins, then worked backward to Card 76, the Two of Coins, Card 75, the Three Coins, and so on.
This blog post will showcase the first drafts of the seven Coins cards corresponding with the Sacred Seven (in the order of Sun, Mercury, Venus, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn).
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
Card No. 3 upright
Day 3 of Creation
Land, Sea, and the Plant Kingdom
Card No. 4 upright
Day 2 of Creation
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
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
Card No. 3
Card No. 4
Card No. 5
Card No. 6
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.
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 Solomon– hyperlinked 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.