Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gnostic Tarot

Dear Lexa,

Thanks for the kind-words at my blog. I have a question about the tarot: do you think there is a connection in their origin to the Cathars/Gnostics?
Best wishes for the holidays!
warm regards,
Matt Janovic

Dear Matt

I believe there are definite ties between the Cathars/Gnostics with regard to the development, study, and design of the Tarot.

We know that some of the most illustrious modern occult figures such as Dr. William Wynn Westcott and MacGregor Mathers (Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn), Aleister Crowley (Ordo Templi Orientis), Arthur Edward Waite (Fellowship of the Rosy Cross), and my favorite guide and teacher, Paul Foster Case (Builders of the Adytum/B.O.T.A.), dedicated their work and lives to connecting the dots and retracing the mystical origins of the tarot cards. These roots include ancient Hermetic, Kabbalistic (both Christian and Jewish), Rosicrucian, Masonic, and Gnostic teachings.

The closest direct connection I have found between the Tarot and the Gnostic/Cathars comes from a work entitled Occult and Mystical Freemasonry (1643 - 1943) MARTINISM History and Doctrine by Robert Ambelain. Ambelain includes a discourse on an esoteric signature used by the occultist Martinez de Pasqually which is referred to as "figure four":
"This mysterious sign figures frequently among the inscriptions discovered by O. Rohn in the grottoes of the Aude region, in the heart of the legendary region of the Albigensian see, in the grottoes of Ornolac, most notably of Lambrives. These inscriptions were attributed by all the examiners to the Cathars who took refuge in these caverns.
When the Cathars, gnostic survival in the Middle Ages apparently disappeared, the same "figure four" was then adopted by another great society of thought, which we have named the Agla. Agla was an esoteric society in the Renaissance period, grouping together apprentices, companions and masters of Guilds associated with Books, librarians, engravers, printers, stationers, and book-binders, as well as card makers who created the first playing cards and the first Tarots."
It is interesting to note that the Cathar/Gnostic mysticism and teachings were deeply rooted in France and the oldest surviving deck, the Paris Tarot, is housed in the Bibiothéque Nationale in Paris. I doubt this is a coincidence.

Thank you for your most intelligent question and may the Gods and Goddesses of Fortune and Wisdom bless you with illumination, enlightenment, and prosperity in the New Year!
In Lux


Liorah-Lleucu said...

I really love your blog! This is going to be a great help to me! While I've been studying Jewish kabbalah and chassidut for nearly a decade, I am rather new to Jewitchery and witchcraft. This is great!

Matt Janovic said...

Dear Lexa,

Thank you for such an incisive answer to my question, you are truly a wise woman! An old-friend and I used to have discussions on the origins of the Tarot decks, and we noted there was a convocation of occultists in Italy around the time of the Renaissance. We came to the conculsion that the Adepts of the Albigensians knew full-well they had to preserve their traditions within the decks, basically. Note also, that around this period Dante was copying the lyrics of the Troubadors, and the preservation of Cathar traditions within those lyrics seems likely. I have a CD of them--my God, incredible. If the music was even marginally close, it was like some proto-ambient music, wow. I am basically someone who relates to Goddess worship, I was
raised by my Mother and Grandmother, both such wise women! My Grandmother went to a "seeing woman" to determine the sex of my Ma when she was pregnant. It was 1944 in Arkansas, incredible! I have the utmost respect for you and your knowledge, and for gracing my site with your kindness.
Now, if there were more women like you!

warm-regards, Matt Janovic

LAGoff said...

What's the connection between the female and Wisdom?
What's the connection between Rome and romance?