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Accademia dei Tarocchi, 2014

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To Sara

Chapter 1
1.1 Etymology

1.2 Study of the Tarot: which Model?

The historical Model
The occult Model
The metànoic Model

Chapter 2
2.1 The first Centuries after Christ
John Cassian

2.2 From 1000 to 1500

Saint Victor and the Visconti Family

2.3 From the end of 1700’s to modern Time

The French School
The Anglo-Saxon School

2.4 The great Error

Nicolas Conver

Chapter 3
3.1 The general Structure of the Tarot
The Minor Arcana
The four Suits: Pentacles, Cups, Wands and Swords
The four Castes
The Major Arcana

3.2 Dualism
Dualism: some unusual cases
Dualism: Male-Female
The Law of Difference
Dualism: general Scheme
Observation Exercise
The Tarot: Yoga for the Soul

3.3 Some meanings of the Tarot

A Path of Knowledge
A Vehicle of Consciousness
An Instrument of Help

Chapter 4
4.1 The Coded Structure: the first Codes
1) Graphic codes
Hanged Man-World code
New Levels
The fifth Element

4.2 The Coded Structure: new codes

The Lover-Judgement Code
2) The Text-Codes
The Apostrophe Code
Various Anomalies

4.3 The Laws of the Tarot

The Law of Antithesis
The Law of Duplicity
Example of the Fool’s Staff
Example of the two houses

Chapter 5
5.1 East and West

5.2 Synchronicity

5.3 Synchronicity and the Tarot

Chapter 6
6.1 An optical Language
Grammar: Codes and Laws
Lexicon: the Keywords
The Book
The Veil
The Horns
The Torches

6.2 The Archetypes

Methods of Interpretations
The traditional syntactic Method
The Personages

Chapter 7
7.1 The Law of Contemplation
Spatial Reference
Temporal Reference

7.2 The Law of Opportunity

To offer a Solution

7.3 Example of a Reading

Chapter 8
8.1 Tarology: a true Science

8.2 Cartomanciy and Divination

Risks: the divinatory Trap
The Advantages
A spiritual Intelligence
Danger Alert

8.3 Multiplicity of Teachings

1) The Builders
2) The Freemasons
Square and Compass
The Artisan
The three Points in a Triangle
The 33 Degrees
3) The Hermits of Egypt

8.4 A Path of Knowledge

Chapter 9
9.1 Anachronisms?

9.2 Prince Castracani Fibbia

9.3 The Cathedral of Orvieto

9.4 The Cathedral of Siena


The Marseilles Tarot
The so-called Marseilles Tarot
The classic Marseilles Tarot
Restoration of the Conver Tarot of 1760


What is the Tarot? It is commonly thought of as a phenomenon so arcane, as to

be unable to discover its origin, let alone its authentic meaning. The number of
estimations in the thousands of publications on the theme of the Tarot is in itself
evidence of a lack of certainty and of definite and convincing answers. This
book offers a totally new vision, which, precisely and simply, illustrates the true
sense of these extraordinary figures.
The first aspect to clarify is this: the mystery of the Tarot has been intentionally
and jealously shielded and concealed over the centuries. It is no surprise that
these cards have been called Arcana, from the Latin arcanus , meaning something
incomprehensible and hidden. Why this concealment? For what secret reasons?
The explanation is only one: the Tarot contains an ancient traditional Knowledge
which, in order to not risk alteration, and at the same time to be protected from
any accusation of heresy, was conserved in the form of symbolic drawings
whose meaning is not readily accessible to all.
To attain this knowledge, we must acquire certain information which, as an
encoding key, will throw open the doors of understanding. This is the only
reason for which experts, unknowing, have never been able to elaborate
conclusive and acceptable hypotheses regarding its true nature. For centuries
academicians, esoterists, artists, even simple enthusiasts, have proposed and
tenaciously maintained their own personal interpretations. Thus, these cards
have become object of theories and opinions of every sort, from the most serious
and honest to the most extravagant and imaginative, sometimes being adapted to
a multitude of doctrinal systems which have totally transformed them. The Tarot
is not at all a simple card game invented for the amusement of a Renaissance
duke. At the same time, analyses conducted using only the methods of
psychological, philosophical and esoteric matrices cannot be accepted without
reserve, as they prove to be partial and incomplete. These figures, in effect, must
not be considered exclusively as Archetypes, nor as inspiration for the study of
an ancient and universal symbolism. These objectives, which must certainly be
developed, are actually accessory to understanding a primary dynamic which lies
at the root of the whole. What is this dynamic? What do we mean by this radical
The Tarot is a group of images composed of features and colors, with the
addition of certain names and numbers. For this particularity, it will be well to
begin with direct observation. Indeed, would we not do the same, facing a
painting? One of the objects of the author is to teach the reader, even the most
inexpert, to see these figures with great simplicity and in the most natural way: as
would a child. This exercise consists in learning to see in a neutral manner,
without committing the error of thinking to see, which would interpose thought
and prejudice. Paradoxically, for us who are used to complexity, this is quite a
demanding exercise, which necessitates, in case we are already familiar with
these figures, the effort to contemplate them as if for the first time.
In order to uncover the teachings they hide, in fact, we must experience
personally and visually, systematically, the soundness of each affirmation. No
explanation may be accepted dogmatically, no matter the brilliance of the author
proposing it, because without an objective and experimentally provable
demonstration, in our case visual confirmation, it would risk revealing itself a
subjective judgment. The ancient schools of wisdom have bequeathed us the
teaching that Truth is a path guided by evidence; when investigating the Tarot,
this criterion must be fully respected. In correctly following this approach,
anyone will be able to verify a quite surprising aspect: the simple observation of
the figures renders manifest the presence of Codes. What do we mean by this?
The Codes of the Tarot are enigmas hiding a solution, like so many puzzles
with which many amuse themselves in their free time. These enigmas may be
illustrated and explained through logical, rational processes because they may be
studied in a repeatable and certifiable manner, which therefore has full scientific
validity. Obviously, recognition is preparatory to their resolution; however, the
deciphering of a Code, in itself, unveils a fragment of the overall teaching of the
Tarot. It is as if we found ourselves before the tiles of an enormous mosaic,
which, arranged in their proper places, progressively reveal the global
representation of which they are part. We use the adjective enormous because the
Codes, of differing degrees of interpretative difficulty, are thousands, all
however coherent in their direction and in a shared consciousness. Decoding
them, we discover that, despite their great number, they are regulated by well-
defined and -delimitated functioning mechanisms. These last, are the Laws
which govern the manner in which the Tarot expresses itself and acts. The two
elements together, Codes and Laws, create an extremely complex and elaborate
Coded Structure , which is the keystone of all results. This Structure , in its
maximum perfection, is retraceable to an ancient deck belonging to the group of
the Tarot of Marseilles, created by the Master Cardmaker, Nicolas Conver. For
this reason, it is used in this treatise, after overseeing the restoration of the
features and the improvement of the colours of the original 1760 version. This
deck, indeed, is the only reliable source not only for the specific category of the
Marseilles Tarot of which it is a part, but for the entire genre, as other
contemporary authors are aware, having recycled and used it for the publication
of their own well-known decks of Marseilles Tarot. Conver’s deck is depositary
of a Tradition rooted in the origins of Christian history, and must be confronted
as a Mute Book of Wisdom: a text that hands down an immense knowledge
expressed through images. The Arcana Icons of which it is composed are
enigmatic as are hieroglyphs; but thanks to comprehension of the Codes, they
become the seventy-eight letters of an alphabet, however unusual. These graphic
symbols are regulated by the Grammar, generated and extrapolated thanks to the
Codes, that is, the Laws, which we might define a succession of principles
necessary to the construction of proper hypotheses. We are face to face with
another revolutionary aspect: by means of the Coded Structure , a Language is
obtained which allows the Tarot to communicate by clear and direct expression.
He who learns it is able to transform a chaotic amalgam of apparently mute and
silent illustrations into an ordered message of complete sense, as would an
interpreter with a text to translate. Furthermore, the Coded Structure , besides
permitting the interpretation of the Tarot as it is commonly understood, sheds
light also upon those aspects to which researchers, believing them inaccessible,
had renounced. Indeed, unable to provide definite answers, for lack of a solid
foundation on which to base them, scholars came to believe that it was
impossible to resolve, in an absolute manner, the principle dilemma of these
cards: their origin. Thus, they concentrated on the cards’ presumed use of a
divinatory sort - for predicting the future - or else exclusively on their symbolic
sense. This last significance, lacking the clear criteria inherent to the Tarot itself,
was extracted from comparison with external symbolisms belonging to diverse
forms of traditional knowledge, even quite distant from one another for epoch
and locality: religions (from Christianity to Hinduism, Buddhism to Shintoism,
only to mention a few of the better known), Astrology, the Cabala, Numerology,
Alchemy, etc. Therefore, there were attempts to explain the Tarot with key points
of other disciplines, resulting in comprehension of inadequate validity.
The point of view we present, also regarding this aspect, is diametrically the
opposite. As anyone who wishes to understand himself, may not ignore his
origins, in the same way we maintain, that he who would understand the Tarot,
must necessarily investigate its genesis. Thus, the Coded Structure proves itself
once again indispensable because, apart from providing the key to the modality
of interpretation, it aids in understanding what these mysterious images are and
where they come from. All this may then allow us to verify empirically their
existence and to have access to the immense Knowledge which lies latent, silent,
and still within these Figures. In fact, the great wisdom and secret hidden here
has never been object of dissertation nor revelation, notwithstanding their
enormous value and potential. The moment has arrived that this treasure be
made free to those who have the desire, the will and the inclination to receive it
and study it in depth. We endeavour here to illustrate this subject in a simple and
linear fashion, to put it at the disposal of even the least expert. For this reason,
the book is divided into sections.
The first part is an historical introduction, which proposes reflections and
considerations relative to the origin of the Tarot, very different from those
formerly postulated by preceding researchers. In particular, we describe the
connection between the Icons commonly known as the Tarot and the teachings
of the Holy Hermits of the deserts of Egypt, the First Fathers of Christianity.
The central nucleus of the book is based on the study of the first rudiments of
the Coded Structure . In this section are a number of easy practical demonstrations
similar to mathematical methods, which allow the verification of the binomial
hypothesis/thesis. These explanations, entertaining and stimulating as well, serve
to indicate the presence of Enigma-Codes, allowing their resolution in order to
discover their teachings.
The last part proposes a completely new use for the Tarot, diverging from the
modern and overly used cartomantic practices, and reveals its true purpose. This
particularly important theme allows us to go beyond the mystifications and
common errors which have, in a reductive fashion at the very least, made the
Tarot an instrument exclusively used for predicting the future. However unlikely
it may seem, these Icons represent a true Science. This discipline, which in
recent times has been rebaptized Tarology, combining the words tarot and logos ,
“discourse on the Tarot”, fully merits the right to be considered a branch of
serious and rigorous knowledge, which must be approached with great respect
and extreme awareness. Learning the normative principles of the Coded Structure
, it is possible to understand the essence and the true extension of the Tarot. Only
this understanding will restore its genuine identity to the Icons, liberating them
from the unworthy reputation of a tool for fortune-tellers and psychics. The
study of the real nature of the Arcana makes of them a means of inestimable
efficacy and, not less important, within reach of all. The Tarot, in fact, may
permit an individual to experience a Wisdom that may advise him on daily
questions as well as upon themes of existential relevance. At the same time, it
represents an Initiatory Path of precise stages, which offers the possibility, to
whoever feels the interior urgency, to advance towards full realization and
contact with his higher Self. Even when they are used as a divinatory instrument,
they enjoy a scientific objectivity, derived from the bond of Codes and Laws,
guaranteeing a reading of great quality and total reliability. In fact, using the
Codes found thanks to the Coded Structure , we may express ourselves in a
manner similar in all ways to written or spoken language.
This book lets us rediscover the original meaning of the Tarot, which, over the
centuries, once taken from the cenobies and the monasteries, underwent a drastic
process of vulgarization, becoming finally known merely as “playing cards”.
That which in the beginning was a Sacred Work, is today considered at best a
form of common amusement. The hope, and indeed the purpose, of the book are
to free it from any negative connotation, restoring its dignity and sacredness. The
keys of access to these images were conserved and guarded by men of great
valour, those whom we name the Holy Fathers of our asceticism. Thanks to these
basic principles the Tarot become the inner workings of a fantastic mechanism
that may be called, without exaggeration, a true Metaphysical Machine. This
machine, when put at the service of man, aids and supports him in his daily task
of dealing with the trials of material and spiritual existence, accompanying him
with will, love, and intelligence, along his Path of evolution.

Carlo Bozzelli

“No one will hide a valuable object in something of great value, but many a time
one has tossed countless thousands into a thing worth a penny.”
(Gospel of Philip)


Tarot: “ Each of the illustrated cards which make up the Tarot deck. The term was
first used approximately a century after the invention of the deck, estimated circa
1500. Its origin is even now obscure. ”
Is it correct, the definition we are used to hearing when speaking of this deck of
cards ? Scholars maintain that the term Tarot, whose etymological origin is still
uncertain, was first used in XVII- century Italy. The term is in any case, mostly
used in the plural. The ample literature on the subject shows us however that its
etymology is not the only thing in doubt: its origin as well is not certain. Almost
all researchers presume that they were created in Italy around the XV century,
during the Renaissance therefore. Actually, this is merely a hypothesis, but
because of the obsessive insistence with which it has been repeated, it has
become automatically true. This approach, from the point of view of authentic
scientific and historiographic research, is incorrect; in that, without definite and
proven evidence, one cannot transform conjecture into fact unless there is the
intention to take intentional liberties with the outcome. For example, we are
convinced that the exact name is not to be found in the Italian language
(Tarocchi) but rather in the term adopted by all other idioms, to wit: Tarot .
Setting aside for a later time an investigation into the more complex aspects of
its etymology, we will limit ourselves for the moment to note that the word is
written, differently from Italian, in the singular form.
One of the most striking of the characteristics of the word Tarot is its analogy
with a somewhat particular language, the so-called Language of the Birds. Here is
the description of a renowned alchemist of the XX century, known by the
pseudonym of Fulcanelli:
“ ...Language of the Birds, mother and doyenne of all others, language of
philosophers and diplomats. Jesus reveals it to the apostles, sending them his
spirit, the Holy Spirit, who teaches them the mystery of all and unveils the most
hidden truths. In the medieval times of alchemy, it was called the Gay Science or
Gay Knowledge. Language of the gods, Goddess-Bottle (...) Today, if we exclude
the argot, we find it in some local languages, as Picard, Provencal, etc, and in
the language of gypsies. 1 ”
Essentially, this language is a system of codes reclaimed from the ancient
Alchemists and used also by poets and troubadours. It is a system based on a sort
of Synchronicity 2 of words founded on the precept that God, Unity, the One, is at
the origin of all. Although not claiming true scientific value, it reflects an
elevated and spiritual logic, which, when it reveals itself, astonishes beyond any
possible rational interpretation.
In the specific case of the word Tarot , we may comprehend a deeper
significance only by accepting the idea that, in order to reveal its hidden
message, which likewise conceals the parameters of the Unity, it is indispensable
to have a suitable decryption system . To confirm this, in fact, we may observe the
manner in which traditional literature, in order to explain the root of the term,
has always been rich in interpretations similar in dynamics to the Language of the
Birds .
For example, experts have found that, analysing the term TAROT we obtain
ROTA, in Latin, Wheel, namely the astrological wheel at the centre of the Way
of the Tarot. This, by its nature, is characterized by a circularity expressed as
well by the two “T”s at the beginning and end of the word itself. They have also
pointed out that in TAROT is contained the word TORA(H), the sacred text of
the Jews, which has a close affinity with these figures; or that TAR-RO in
Egyptian, means” The Royal Way”, a definition which corresponds precisely to
the deepest meaning of the Tarot, being, as we will demonstrate, a true path, road
or way. Even if we admit the partial validity of all these inferences and of their
adherence to the principle of Synchronicity, our purpose is different. In effect,
that which we wish to underline through this comparison is that, in order to
understand the term “Tarot”, as to comprehend the profound essence of that
which it defines, it is fundamental to use keys of decodification: the Tarot are in
fact characterized, as is the Language of the Birds, by an orderly system of
Codes which represent the only instrument for understanding their deepest sense.
Champollion, the decoder of hieroglyphic writings, wrote to Baron Joseph
Dacier, secretary of the French Royal Academy of inscription:
“ I have arrived at the point where I have a complete vision of the general
structure of this form of writing, signs and rules of their combination...thus there
are the bases of the grammar and the vocabulary of these writings which are to
be found on the greater part of the monuments . 3 ”

Fig. 1
Lettre to Mr. Dacier, 1822

The example fits perfectly: it is obvious that we will follow a similar path in
order to arrive at a complete and comprehensive vision of the whole.
The term Tarot is neither arbitrary nor subjective, but an integral part of a
precise, strict and codified system. The five letters of which it is composed,
however much re-elaborated in a modern language, express and at the same time
conceal a sort of hieroglyphic, an ancient symbol of sacred meaning, of whose
complex analysis we shall occupy ourselves later. Clearly, nothing of this is
contained in the Italian term Tarocchi , which remains, independent of any
conjecture, totally lacking in any intrinsic or occult meaning. Based on these
data, let us be allowed one last premise.
This new and surprising vision that we propose, is a work of syncretism of
diverse fields of knowledge: history, philosophy, mathematical thought, science,
etc. The necessity of this manner of proceeding derives from the incontestable
value of rigor and legitimacy that characterize these disciplines when applied
with discernment, logic and equilibrium. However, neither shall we exclude
religious doctrines of esoteric matrix, as its support may allow us to shed light
on the unique sense of certain declarations. In this case, as well, in order to avoid
doubt and obscurity, we will limit ourselves to deduction evident and accessible
only through well-founded thought. Our intention, in fact, is not to request from
the reader a blind acceptance of certain reflections (which would thus risk
remaining mere postulates) but rather to allow him the possibility to follow a
coherent and systematic reasoning leading to true understanding of the meaning
of the Tarot .

Fig. 2
Visconti Sforza Temperance 1440

It seems relevant to ask some general questions regarding the manner in which
these remarkable images have been studied over the course of the last two to
three centuries. What might be indeed the correct approach to understanding this
mysterious subject? Is there only an historical-documentary perspective? Is the
alternative the esoteric perspective? Are there additional paths? These are only a
few of the numerous questions, which, according to us, deserve attention.


One of the modes of research best known to the general public is that which
observes the theme of the Tarot from an historical point of view, concentrating
on documents, of whatever nature, that regard the subject. Here is an example of
one of the many citations concerning their origin:
“ We owe the invention of the Triumphs, 4 almost certainly, to the duke’s passion
for card games. Unfortunately we have no documents which attest to this, but a
group of splendid cards have been handed down to us, the most ancient deck of
Tarot known, whose analysis strongly sustains a Visconti origin: they are the so-
called Cary-Yale or Visconti di Modrone cards, conserved today in the United
States of America . 5 ”
The duke in question is Filippo Maria Visconti (1392–1447), the last of the
Dukes of Milan, who is presumed to be the promoter of the invention of the
cards known today as the Tarocchi , having commissioned their creation by an
artist of the Court, perhaps the Monzese painter, Francesco Zavattini. This deck,
according to historians, was created between 1442 and 1447, and was probably
not the only one commissioned by the duke. Others may be added to this deck,
in fact, one known as the Brambilla Deck, named for the modern location of the
Milanese Pinoteca di Brera and the deck known as the Visconti-Sforza Tarot,
divided between the Gallery of the Carrara Academy of Bergamo, the Pierpont
Morgan Library of New York, and a private collection belonging to the Colleoni
family. Among the many card decks of the 1400’s, this last is certainly the most
complete, 74 cards remaining of the hypothetical 78.
Apart from this single citation, we may say that, overall, the historical approach
maintains the following:
1. The Tarot is of Italian origin.
2. It was created in the mid-1400’s.
3. Its original function was of a recreational-artistic nature.

Therefore, they who begin their study of the Tarot from an historical
perspective, in substance believe them to be of an artistic and decorative, or at
most a didactic and cultural nature. In practice, they exclude any esoteric
function and, postulating that it was created, although with some uncertainty as
to date, for ornamental reasons, eliminate the possibility of investigation in other
directions. Despite some exceptions, this is the general position among the

However, as things now stand, we must remember that these theories lack any
certain and definite basis or decisive historical surety: they are mere

The credibility that they enjoy derives from two principal reasons: the first, that
the most ancient deck of Tarot known today is that of the Visconti. The second is
that researchers, more or less knowingly, have been content to follow slavishly
an already predefined line of research. What then would occur, should another,
more ancient, deck be discovered?
This would be sufficient to cause the immediate and total collapse of all
modern hypotheses. Regarding this, let us refer to the paintings of the V-IX
centuries found in 2001 in the Afghan grottoes of Bamiyan after the terrible
destruction of the two colossal statues of the Buddha by the Taliban. Scientists
demonstrated, thanks to tests carried out at the ESRF (European Synchrotron
Radiation Facility), that a part of the caverns had been painted in oils hundreds
of years before the date which had been hypothesized in history and art texts,
according to which this technique had been born in the XV century. The
discovery of one single work of art sufficed to alter radically the general
conviction. May not the same be true of the Tarot, which, for that matter,
possesses more amply indeterminate temporal margins? To trust implicitly in the
historical model cannot be an exhaustive and complete solution, owing to the
current fragility of documentary proof and the significant weakness of sources,
which render unstable any conclusive consideration. Furthermore, precisely
because of the particular nature of the subject under examination, there is
another relevant aspect to consider. Observing the cards, we find in them
something profound and inexplicable, which has attracted the interest of
thousands in all epochs, including those who have passed into history for their
prolific intellects (it is enough to mention, in the 1900’s only, the winner of the
Nobel Prize for literature William Butler Yeats, then Salvador Dalì, Karl Gustav
Jung etc). Were the Tarot merely a game, from where would come this
propensity for philosophical, psychological, creative and esoteric in-depth
analysis by such outstanding experts in artistic and cultural circles? Might they,
then, be unworthy of trust or esteem, or else grossly misled? It seems to us that
the promoters of the historical model, presuming the superiority of their own
affirmations based upon an intellectualistic and pretentious modus operandi , treat
any other approach in a superficial and summary manner. We believe these, quite
evidently, to be their limits.

Fig. 3
Diary of William Butler Yeats, Nobel for Literature1923:
illustration of the XXI card, the World, Irish National Library.


In the last two centuries, another mode of research has developed, which we
may define an esoteric and occult model. Already at the end of the 1700’s this
current of thought, although with diverse interpretations, maintains that the Tarot
is a Book of Wisdom from the remotest of times, attributing its origin to ancient
Egypt. One of the first to declare this was the pastor and scholar Court de
Gèbelin, who in 1781 was the Royal Censor under Louis XV, an unusual role for
a Protestant in Catholic France. De Gèbelin, also president of the Muséè, a noted
Parisian literary society of the times, was a prominent figure in certain French
circles, friend to the encyclopaedists Diderot and D’Alembert, the scientists
Franklin and Lalande, the revolutionary theorists Danton and Desmoulins, the
hero of the American Revolution, Lafayette, initiates, as was he, in the Masonic
Lodge The Nine Sisters , of which he was Venerable Master for two years. For
these reasons, differently from what might happen today, what de Gèbelin wrote
regarding the Tarot in those days, of which we offer a brief summary, was judged
to be of great interest, without causing derision or being considered extravagant:
“If we were to announce that there exists today an ancient Egyptian Work
which escaped the flames of their marvellous Library, a Work that contains the
purest Egyptian doctrine, who would not be impatient to know a Book so
precious, so extraordinary! In addition, if we added that this Book is well-known
in all of Europe, that for centuries it has been passed from hand to hand by
everyone (....) regarded as a group of strange, senseless figures? Who would not
think that we are joking, or want to take advantage of the gullibility of our
listeners? And yet, that which we maintain is rigorously true: the Egyptian Book,
the only one left from their marvellous libraries, exists in our days and, an
amazing fact, it is so common that no one before us had guessed its illustrious
origin... this book is the card deck of the Tarot. 6 ”
Fig. 4
Le Mond Primitif, Court de Gèbelin, 1781

In fact, the contemporary academic world ridicules this assertion, judging it an

unacceptable foolishness or else a ploy for attention, totally lacking in reliability:
even they who do not doubt the validity and intellectual honesty of the author,
ask themselves whether to give credence to such apparently rash conclusions. It
is a fundamental question, which, far from being an isolated case, may not be
summarily dismissed, as it seeks to arrive at sure knowledge through use of the
model of esoteric analysis. What is, generally, the weak point of this model? If
we reflect attentively, we discover that all those who adhere to an occult
explanation of the Tarot, have been unable to objectively and unassailably
demonstrate the veracity of their affirmations. This is a pitfall connected to the
subjective, interpretative, in way personal, empirical, and interior traits inherent
to this approach. Whoever is sincerely interested in the Tarot, has certainly
followed a similar path and should be perfectly familiar with it. In effect, reading
over the many esoteric tracts dealing with the Tarot, indeed we consistently find
ourselves facing the same insuperable problem: the opinions of the various
authors are often contrasting and indeed prevent the one who desires to learn,
from understanding which considerations are correct and which instead are to
This is owing to the fact that the occult model, especially in the last two
centuries, has pursued recognition of every possible form of the Tarot and the
ancient Books of Wisdom of multiple traditions (the Cabala, 7 Alchemy, 8
Astrology, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc...), seeking to extrapolate the
meaning of the first through the second. However, since this sort of research has
always lacked a critical objective reference point, that is, an autonomous
orientation as guarantee of the correctness of the acquired deductions, a jumble
of exegeses has been created, which has led to total confusion.

Fig. 5
The Chariot, Levi Tarot

Among the many examples we might mention, we remember one, particularly

indicative and which had a great influence on the following generations of
scholars; it is of the famous French occultist Eliphas Levi. In the first decades of
the 1800’s, Levi established a direct connection between the 22 letters of the
Hebrew alphabet and the 22 Triumphs of the Tarot, by him re-baptized
Concentrating almost exclusively on the Major Arcana, he depicted them
according to the Cabala, arriving at the point of considering them universal keys
of access to all the ancient religious dogmas. Passing over the veracity or not of
his judgements, our wish is to point out that this author incarnated the general
inclination of the occultists of the 1800’s and 1900’s who, although each with
peculiar singularity, acted in the same manner, presuming thus to illustrate the
meaning of the Tarot. Actually, the vision of each occultist always follows his
own ideas, his personality, his education, even despite the Tarot themselves. It is
as if the individual cultural and initiatic preparation were an indispensable
condition for interpreting and explaining these images, because personal
prejudice induces one to find the desired answers, at times irrespective of the
real ones.

Yet, at the same time, with this sort of conduct we deny the principle of
independent knowledge intrinsically present in the Arcana themselves.

The esoterists defended themselves from the criticisms against this modality of
research, replying that, the uninitiated to certain mysteries and those without
deep esoteric knowledge could not comprehend the hermetic and profound sense
of the Tarot. Is this true? Frankly, the very existence of a vast and multifaceted
literature seems more than enough evidence that this model of analysis has not
been particularly efficacious, nor able to offer definitive and indubitable
answers. Their difficulties also seem to be connected to certain principles
adopted as prerequisites of research, which have only served to widen the
distance to truth. A brief summary follows:
1. The esoterists hypothesized that the original deck, the Visconti-Sforza Tarot,
were imperfect and therefore necessitated alterations and improvements. This
idea has led to attempts to “perfect” their symbolism over the generations and
has caused the creation of an incredible number of Tarot decks, of presumed
esoteric value, redesigned in the last centuries.
2. Particular attention has never been given to the figures themselves, but
principally to their symbolic value. Briefly, it was not so important how a subject
was drawn, but the meaning that could be attributed to it. Thus, a notable
divergence of opinions was created regarding the symbolic meaning, together
with a disinterest towards the manner in which features, colours, and the figures
in general should be or had been rendered artistically.
3. The total number of the cards, 78 (22 Major Arcana + 56 Minor Arcana) and
the position of the subjects illustrated, 9 in relation to the numeric sequence, from
time to time were thought to be non-essential. For this reason, those who
dedicated themselves to a re-elaboration of the Tarot often created decks with
different numbers of Arcana and with the images in various and arbitrary

Fig. 6
Temperance, Oswald Wirth Tarot

Fig. 7
Temperance, Paul Marteau Tarot

Fig. 8
Temperance, Salvador Dali Tarot

Fig. 9
Temperance, Arthur Waite Tarot

To sum up, we may say that each esoteric, in endeavouring to explain the Tarot,
“redesigned” them according to his own personal canon, believing that the most
ancient ones known were inadequate to express the philosophical, sapiential, or
initiatory values of this antique instrument?. Thus, the decks of presumed occult
value have increased exponentially as the years passed, side by side with others
created with strictly artistic intent (or pseudo-such), which have increased even
more the number of Tarot decks in commerce.
Overall, therefore, this model as well - as did the previous, historical one - has
been insufficient to explain the origin and meaning of the Arcana. On the other
hand, the nonchalant attitude of the esoterists, who did not trouble themselves to
adhere to an experimentally comparable reality, certainly has a positive effect on
research. Thus, if on the one hand there was an historical approach distinguished
by the quest (totally shareable, in essence) of a scientific and provable method,
on the other was the esoteric, which, impotent before the demand for objective
evidence of its own theories, took refuge in assertions of an apodictic or mystical
nature. It appears to be the usual dilemma, with no solution to be found between
science and reason on one side and faith and mysticism on the other.
Is there another way to approach the study of the Tarot? Is it possible to find a
conciliatory form? The rational requests dependent on the verifiability of
advanced attestations, with the far more vast and spiritual dimension of the
theme, “Tarot”. We think so. This innovative manner of proceeding, borrowing a
term from the corresponding figure of speech, may be called the metànoic model.


Before continuing, finding ourselves in a delicate phase of reasoning, let us ask
the supporters of the historical and purely recreational/artistic point of view for
just a bit more patience. It is necessary in fact, in order to act in a correctly
Socratic manner, to hypothesize that these images did not have a simple
decorative function, but that they were the vehicle of transmission of a precise
Knowledge. The methods of research upon which the two aforementioned
criteria depend are, in both cases, connected to...books: what do we mean by
The historical model is based essentially on the collection of information and
written testimony. It corroborates its hypotheses by means of a dense web of
documents, old texts, and ancient decks, they themselves valued as true
documentary proof.
The occult model, on the other hand, uses mostly works of other esoteric
traditions in order to illustrate, through these, the hidden meaning of the Tarot.
Yet, numerous researchers of this group also, maintain that the Arcana are a
great book, so rich in wisdom that, should man remain with no other text, he
could reconstruct through these figures, all Ancient Wisdom.
Therefore, is not this hypothetical Book of the Tarot sufficient unto itself, in
order to be understood? Is it really necessary to explain it through other
disciplines, as is usually done?
The Greek word metànoia comes from metanoêin , composed of metà , meaning
“change, passing or obsolescence” and noêin , “to think,” which means therefore
“to change the way of thinking” and at the same time, “to go beyond thinking”.
In our opinion, there is no better expression to describe the method that must be
used to understand the Tarot, in a new but also ancient manner. What are the
basic premises of this model? Let us begin by understanding the indispensable
prerequisite for rapidly modifying our habitual perspective: let us suppose to be
able to read the Tarot...exactly as we would any other writing!
This being the fundamental axiom of our presentation, let us attempt to place
the reader in the best possible position for judging literally, with his own eyes,
the validity of this assertion. In order not to fall into the error of believing this a
metaphorical exhortation, it is preferable to dispel all doubt point out that the
only way to understand these figures is to understand that the 78 Arcana form a
true book of thousands of pages (however made up mostly of illustrations),
composed in a secret and coded Language.
This language, even admitting that it may be for us unknown and obscure, has
its own effective and real sense: even though for centuries the hieroglyphs have
remained uncomprehended, they had a meaning and were a precise form of
transmission of knowledge, qualities which were revealed after their decoding.
This is the reason for which, overturning the classical point of view, we must
accept the following:

the figures of the Tarot are letters of an extraordinary Alphabet whose

combinations produce compositions similar to those derived from a linguistic
code, that is, proper expressions.

As in every language, written or spoken, in order to construct intelligible

statements we must have a grammar and a lexicon; so it is with this unusual
Language. These two elements, characterized by well-defined qualities and
prerogatives (which will be object of particular study), in the Tarot are
engendered by a Coded Structure which is at the root of all and has nothing to do
with the philosophical or religious interpretations of the occultists of the various
schools. This is a sort of framework of a meticulous and accurate nature, which,
like a device of millimetrical precision, is hidden in the images of the cards, or
rather, is constructed of the illustrations themselves and of their decorative
elements , the features, the colours, and the names/numbers of the figures. Once
unveiled and decoded, they open the door onto a completely new and unknown
dimension. The principle trait of this esoteric Structure , internal (because inside)
and occult (because hidden), is that of being appreciable by all as factual: it lends
itself to objective demonstration . In practice, independent from personal
opinions or subjective considerations, it exists for itself and is logical, coherent,
harmonious, incredibly vast, and may be located through... direct observation !
The philosopher and theologian Raimon Panikkar 10 wrote:
“Metànoia is found beyond the mental, without however denying it. Exceeding is
not denying .”

That is precisely what proceeds from the presence of this Structure, which leads
to exceeding the mental (in the sense of rigid rationality) but does not deny it,
thereby creating the possibility to go beyond . Being empirically observable, it
may be described in clear and disciplined terms, thus representing that which
permits a logical and perfectly certifiable approach. At the same time, being
progressively understood, it immerses the researcher in a dimension that
transcends the category of pure rationality and opens the door to that sacred
space which we may identify as the metaphysical world. How do we enter?
We are speaking of an amazing and yet completely verifiable phenomenon,
exactly by way of that instrument considered inescapable, that is, the intellect. In
effect, if on the one hand this allows objective and concrete comprehension, on
the other, simultaneously allows access to that particular form of consciousness
characterized by immediacy, synthesis, and absolute certainty, which for many
philosophies bears the name of intuition. In practice, the study of the Coded
Structure of the Tarot takes place through a rational and systematic method,
which similar to a meditation, permits the passage from intellect to intuition
“escorted” by a logical and productive process.
As that which we are stating is completely verifiable, as we will demonstrate in
the course of this work, we acquire two effects. One is, that the expression “to
read the Tarot”, which has probably always been considered figurative, must be
taken literally. The second, that a synthesis is born between the historical-
scientific approach, with its empirical and provable necessities, and the esoteric
model, whose assertions, as mentioned, are always difficult to ascertain. In any
case, through the presence of this codified system innate to the Tarot, which
generates a language of communication with humanity, the Arcana themselves
tell the story of their origin, their function, and their initiatic meaning.
Thus, as the author is already familiar with the aforementioned, we have
decided to proceed giving certain hypotheses, followed by demonstrations of
their veracity:

1. The Tarot did not originate in Italy, but in France.

2. It is not of the Renaissance period, but of the I century of our epoch, at least
in the graphic version used in this book.
3. The oldest deck known today, characterized by a sort of perfection
corresponding to the Coded Structure, are the Marseilles Tarot of Nicolas
Conver, already reclaimed and restored by two modern authors.
4. The Tarot do not have an artistic or recreational function; rather, a sacred
and ascetic one: they are a Path of Knowledge. The original deck was perfect
and with a generally harmonious and organic structure bearing an accurate
5. Cartomancy (fortune telling) as it is known today, is practiced according to
personal criteria and subjective invention. It is one of the worst errors in the
modern use of the Tarot, a use which is on the contrary regulated by an exact
Method, pre-established and not arbitrary; a definable Syntactic Traditional
Method which, innate to the Arcana themselves, is by these entirely described
and illustrated.

With these premises we are only at the beginning because nothing has yet been
proved, there being so many aspects preparatory to the evaluation of all the
argumentations. Therefore, let us begin our analysis of the first, and perhaps
most controversial question:

what is the origin of the Tarot?

Footnotes - Chapter 1
1 Fulcanelli, Il Mistero delle Cattedrali , Edizioni Mediterranee 1972.
2 The meaning of the term “Synchronicity” will be explained in Chapter 5.
3 Lettre à M. Dacier ( Letter to Mr Dacier ), 1822.
4 Here used as synonym for the cards of the Tarot.
5 From Storia dei Tarocchi by Giordano Berti, the Mondadori edition, 2007.
6 From the article Du Jeu des Tarots (Of the Game of Tarots), written in 1781 in the encyclopaedia Le Monde
Primitif ( The Primitive World ), volume VIII.
7 The Cabala is part of the esoterical tradition of Hebrew mysticism.
8 Ancient philosofical-esoterical system which combines elements of chemistry, physics, astrology,
semiotics, medicine and mysticism.
9 Regarding this, merely as an example, suffice it to remember that in the Arthur Waite Tarot the positions
of Strength and Justice, dictated presumably by astrological necessity, are inverted with respect to almost
all other decks considered esoterical.
10 Raimon Panikkar, full name Raimundo Pàniker Alemany (1918-2010), was a philosopher, theologian,
writer and Catholic priest, of Indian and Catalan heritage, author of more than sixty books and several
hundred articles on comparative religion and interfaith dialogue.

“And when finally you leave

your earthly body
and go towards the free heavens,
you will see that you are no longer mortal;
but a God, an Immortal, You as well.”
(Pythagoras, Golden Verses)

In the preceding chapter, we presented a series of rather radical theories

regarding the knowledge of the Coded Structure of the Tarot.
It must be clear that, until there is an evident validation of this type of system,
the above must remain a simple supposition. However, from an expositive point
of view, it was essential to proceed in this manner, as the formulation of a
hypothesis must always precede, by its nature, the relative demonstration.
Specifically, regarding the story of the Tarot, we are used to imagining that
their origins reside in the Italian Renaissance, when actually this is a blatant
error. In order to understand the evolution of these cards in the course of the
different epochs, therefore, we have opted for a purely didactical subdivision
into three long periods:
The first centuries after Christ;
From the year 1000 to 1500 circa;
From the 1700’s to modern times.
In this way, we will endeavour to study in depth, the path that these cards may
have followed from an historical point of view, remembering that only the Coded
Structure may provide definite information regarding certain fundamental
considerations that will follow.


According to the most recent theories, the birthplace of the Tarot in the West
was the most ancient city in France, Provence. According to legend, recounted
by Marcus Junianus, its foundation in VI BC was a result of the meeting and
union between the Greek Protis, head of an expedition of Focean sailors guided
by the goddess Artemis, and the beautiful Gyptis, daughter of Nanno, king of the
Segobrigi, a Ligurian tribe of Celtic origin. As often happens, this mythical tale
conceals fragments of truth, which are in this way transmitted to future
generations. In this case, we may deduce that Marseilles, from a cultural and
therefore spiritual point of view -these being, in ancient times, closely
connected- was born under the sign of the Mother-Goddess Artemis, under the
imprint of three principle influences: Greek (Protis), Celtic (King Nanno) and a
third, less evident, Egyptian. The term Gyptis, in fact, takes us back phonetically
to Egypt, as the word gypsy, used also in English to denote the Romany
population, would suggest. 11
This is not an observation of secondary importance. Marseilles was and is the
leading city of a vast region, which includes, in particular, the territory of
Provence as well. For the history of the Tarot, and more generally for a part of
Western esoterism, Provence had a decisively significant role as, from the very
beginnings of the Christian era, it was site of important events. Regarding these,
we may remember:
1. The legend of the landing of a number of Apostles on the coast of the South
of France, told also by Jacopo di Varazze 12 in the Golden Legend and by the
Catholic historian Michel Faillon 13 in a text of his:
“In the VIII and IX centuries, the apostolate of Saint Maximus, Saint Mary
Magdalene, and Saint Martha in Provence, was a fact known and accepted
everywhere in the West, based on immemorial and indubitable tradition.”
Although there are several versions, on the whole they all tell the same tale: of
a number of followers of Jesus who, after the first persecutions in their country
on the part of the emerging Church of Peter, arrived in 44 AD in Saintes-Maries-
de-la-Mer (Saint Mary of the Sea), a small village on the coast of Provence,
where they began to preach the Christian word. Whatever the source, most
narrations agree that these Apostles were Mary Magdalene, her sister Martha,
their brother Lazarus, Mary Salome, Mary mother of James (sister of Mary,
mother of Jesus), Maximus, Sidonius, the blind man of the Biblical story, and a
servant named Sarah.
2. However often forgotten, there is a story from the I century which tells of a
Grail taken to Marseilles by Joseph of Arimathea, a personage of the New
Testament and in some apocryphal Gospels regarding the crucifixion and the
deposition of Jesus. He also was of the group who came to Provence.

Fig. 1
Mary Magdalen travelling to Marseilles, by Giotto.
Assisi, Basilica of Saint Frances (Chapel of the Magdalen)

3. At the beginning of our era, this region was in the middle of the most
meaningful events of Christianity. It is enough to remember that in 314 AD
Arles, a small city near Marseilles, meaningfully known as Little Rome of Gaul ,
hosted the first Western Christian council called together by the Emperor
Constantine. This is undoubtedly a direct testimony to the importance of
Provence at the origin of this tradition.
4. The Sefer ha-Bahir , or simply Bahir , although written after the Sefer Yetzirah
is unanimously considered, for structure, content and symbolism, the first strictly
cabalistic literary work. Notwithstanding the importance attributed it by scholars
of this sort of literature, it remains a text certainly little known in all the Western
world, differently from the more heralded Sefer Yetzirah and Sefer haZohar . It is a
collection of affirmations from various sources written, in effect, in Provence by
an anonymous author, probably near the end of the XII century. The fundamental
importance that researchers confer on this work regarding cabalistic studies, is
that it is the only testimony of the condition of the Cabala at the beginning of its
evolution, when, that is, it was pertinent only to reserved initiatic circles and
before it became known to a larger public.
5. Nostradamus, born Michel de Notre-Dame (Miquèl de Nostradama in
Occitane), was born in Saint-Rèmy-de-Provence in 1503 and died in Salon-de-
Provence in 1566. Astrologist, writer, and pharmacist, he is better known for a
book of quatrains in rhyme, in groups of 100, the Centuries et prophéties (
Centuries and Prophecies ) of 1555, which made him the most famous
prognosticator in history... another unusual and distinctive connection with this
land. Thus, Provence has been for centuries, between myth and reality according
to points of view, a place of singular particularities, among which may be
counted the Marseilles Tarot. To understand their relationship with this region, it
is however essential to introduce another connection, that with Egypt, which has
been revealed of primary importance in order to comprehend further aspects.

Fig. 2
Prophecies of Nostradamus
We have already said that together with the Celtic, the Greek and Egyptian
civilizations were at the root of the founding of Marseilles. This condition is
even truer because the stories of Greek philosophy and Egyptian tradition have
always been closely interwoven. In general, since it is possible to prove a
relationship with the origin of Christianity, ancient Egypt may be considered the
primary crossroads for the development of the culture, wisdom, and religion of
the modern Western world. Thales and his contemporaries, Anaximander and
Anaximenes, are usually considered the first philosophers in Western history. We
are in the pre-Socratic period of the birth of one of the most important schools of
the Hellenistic world, that of Pythagoras, of which Crotone was the principle
centre of illumination.

Fig. 3
Pythagoras, Athenian School

“At its first appearance, its political, ethic, and religious thought spread like a
fire through all of southern Italy; the activity of all of Magna Graecia was
subverted; it spread to neighbouring countries and many came to hear the
marvellous word which resonated in Italy with unfamiliar accents. The
institutions of Rome, as Cicero himself wrote, were much influenced: multa sunt
in nostris institutis ducta ab illis (in our institutions, much is taken from those,
that is, the institutions of Pythagoras). 14 ”
Founded circa 530 BC by Pythagoras, one of the most renowned initiates of
antiquity, this School, directed with severe discipline and organized in three
levels, was structure on the example of the Orphic communities and the religious
tendencies of Egypt and Babylon, lands which, according to tradition, the
philosopher had visited in earlier journeys of study. The injunctions of the
Ancient Mysteries, “Know thyself” and “As above, so below” were used by
Pythagoras to illustrate more clearly than before the marvellous relationship
between Macrocosm and Microcosm, that is, the Universe and Man. Although
having little resonance in the literature of the following centuries, “ the
fascination evoked by the School from the Renaissance onward was in part
owing to the conviction of the Italians that, through Platonic thought,
Pythagorean thought revealed itself . 15 ”
The influence of Pythagoras, then, was enormous, not only upon his
contemporaries but on modern Western thought, as it allows the continuation of
that golden thread of Wisdom between Egypt, whose history loses itself in even
more remote times, and the splendour of Greece of the last centuries before the
appearance of Christian tradition. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the
Egyptian capital, Alexandria, was the greatest cultural centre of the Roman
Empire from III BC, when it was founded, to III AD, epoch of its decline,
having taken on the role that once, in the constant ebb and flow of history,
belonged to Athens. Alexandria, which with its illustrious Library became an
extraordinary point of attraction, in effect offered the possibility to cultivate the
sciences, mathematics, geometry, astronomy, music, history, literature, art, etc, in
a word the most diverse of disciplines in the most various areas. In such fertile
soil, there also developed a meeting of the tendencies of different philosophical
and religious currents of thought of late antiquity. This capital was transformed
into the cradle of that which is today called the metaphysics of Christian
theology. In fact it is here, where the elaborate traditions of the East flowed from
Egypt and Greece, that grew among the other schools, the Didaskaleion , 16 one of
the most important theological centres of early Christianity, which the Church
traces back to the figure of Saint Mark and whose historical data leads to
Clement (150-205 AD), disciple of Pantenus and Origen Adamantius (185-254).
This last in particular, was certainly one of the most significant Christian
philosophers of all time, revealing his genius in the convergence and fusion
between the non-philosophical heredity of the new Christian religion and the
Gnostic and neoplatonic tendencies of his own century.
In primitive Christianity, therefore, certain personages such as Origen,
traditionally counted among the Fathers of the Church, acted as a bridge between
the ancient Greco-Roman mystery cults of Egypt, the Gnostic current of thought,
and the rising framework of Christian theology. Observing modern Christianity,
it appears quite variegated with all of its latrias, from Baptists to Orthodox, from
Calvinists to Roman Catholics and many others; but if we look at the first
centuries after its birth, the variety was even greater. In those times, neither
canon for writing the New Testament, nor creed nor specific structure existed –
they would be established only later – on which all Christians could
unanimously agree. Thus, it is indubitable that the initial formation of this new
belief system was forced to confront other, far more ancient religions, including
those Gnostic doctrines which, from India to Egypt, appeared, disappeared, and
reappeared in the form of the most disparate of beliefs. Gnosticism, more than an
organization or a well-defined doctrine, has always presented itself as a
philosophical, religious and esoteric concept with many ramifications.
This proposed knowledge, which purported to be a revelation of a nature
superior to the common tradition of the Church, from the II and III centuries AD
was severely criticized and was forced to continue the teachings of its
fundamental principles in secrecy and clandestinity. After all, as history is
written by the winners, certain pre-Christian faiths as the Gnostic or other
archaic religions, when not englobed by Christianity, were condemned and
accused of paganism. Consequently, they were persecuted and decimated as
teachings contrary to the truth taught by the current, more powerful, religion. In
any case, after the accidental discovery in 1945 of 13 antique papyri, Gnosticism
became a burning topic for researchers, who analyzed it with great care in the
attempt to better focalize certain historical truths which the Christian religion
had not completely clarified. These Egyptian manuscripts, called The Nag
Hammadi Codes , 17 are for the most part Gnostic writings dated between the II
and IV centuries AD, and include three works belonging to the Corpus
Hermeticum , 18 as well as a partial translation of Plato’s Republic . They are
thought to have been property of the library of a Pacomian monastery of the
area, where the monks had hidden them in order to save them from certain
destruction, precisely when Gnosticism was beginning to be persecuted as
Briefly, therefore, early Christianity was a religion indebted to many ancient
traditions and influences; and the first-century hermits of the Egyptian desert
may be considered the explicit witnesses of this continuity. Around the IV
century AD, this form of Eastern Monasticism 19 was put again upon the
interrupted road of Clement and Origen by an avid reader of the works of this
last, Evagrius Ponticus. Born circa 345 AD, he included a teaching on the rules
of monasticism in a treatise known as Praktikos . Retiring later to contemplative
life in one of the many hermitages in the Egyptian desert, he was the teacher of
an essential personage in the history of the Tarot, the monk John Cassian. As is
known, the ascetics, who lived in an anchoritic state or among the organized
monastic communities 20 , consecrated their life to an experience of total
spirituality. Knowing the immense cultural, religious, and esoteric richness of the
Egypt of those centuries, it should not surprise us that those who in those times
desired to have contact with a different and superior knowledge, decided to
travel to this country and with this specific motivation. Cassian himself, disciple
of Evagrius, spent many years in the desert Thebaid regions in close contact with
these Holy Fathers who gave such prestige to early Christian tradition.


In spite of historical uncertainty as to his origin (he was born probably around
the year 365 AD, in Scythia Minor, the modern Dobruja), we know that Cassian,
raised in a rich and religious family, followed classical studies and after these,
embraced the monastic life. With his friend Germanus he departed for Palestine,
“ to join the spiritual militia ” where, welcomed into the cells of Bethlehem, they
encountered the Cenobites of that region, of Syria, and perhaps of Mesopotamia.
However, “ after having received the first rudiments of the faith and having
gained profit thereof, we felt the desire of a higher perfection and decided to
travel to Egypt. ” 21
Attracted by the inland, they left again in search of the anchorites living in the
deserts where he spent ten, or possibly twenty, years of his life, near wise men
such as Macarius the Egyptian, the abbot Piamm, the Blessed Pannunzio, and
also Evagrius . He thus discovered a new teaching of which, as he himself
averred, he had never heard before.
Having returned to the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, Cassian was
ordained a deacon; but owing to involvement in the dogmatic and political
conflicts between Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, and the Patriarch of
Constantinople John Chrysostom, Cassian was forced to flee to Rome. Here he
became a friend of the future Pope Leo and was consecrated priest. Enrich by
such meaningful experiences, towards 415 he journeyed to Marseilles to found
the monastery known as the Abbey of San Vittore (Saint Victor). The principle
object of this mission was to restore a more complete and spiritual way of living
the monastic life in the region of Provence, in a word, to restore strength and
splendour to the so-called Western monasticism .
In practice, with the mediation of Cassian, religiosity and the knowledge of the
ancient Eastern traditions were transmitted to the West as well, specifically in
Provence. In fact, his written works of this period, among which the Collationes (
The Conferences of the Fathers ), from circa 420 AD and De institutis cenobiorum
( The Cenobitic Institutions ), will be an essential contribution to to the entire later
progression of Western spirituality. In the “Cenobitic Institutions”, in particular,
inspired by his Master, Evagrius, Cassian explains the purpose and right conduct
of a monk. These writings were of such calibre and ascetic profundity that Saint
Benedict of Norcia drew on them in conceiving, elaborating, and living a
morality appropriate for Latin individuals, described in detail in his Rule . He
wrote, in the last chapter of his work:
“ We have written this Rule because, by observance of it in the monastery, we
show a certain restraint of manner or the beginning of spiritual life. But for
those who have urgency to arrive at the perfection of this spiritual life, there
exist the teachings of the Holy Fathers, the practice of which leads man to the
summit of perfection. Indeed which page and which voice of divine authority of
the Old or New Testaments, is not a just rule of human life? Which work of the
Holy Catholic Fathers does not exhort us to reach our Creator by the most direct
way? The “Conferences” of the Fathers and their “Institutions” and “Lives”, as
also the Rule of our Holy Father Basil, are these not a virtuous means for good
and obedient monks? ”
Does it not seem curious that Saint Benedict, spiritual father of the Benedictine
Order, chose to build his monastery in Cassino , thus closely allied with the name
Cassiano and the Cassinite order...? That John Cassian had been the Teacher
whose precepts Benedict affirms to heed in the prologue to his Rule ...? Beyond
these curious and unexpected questions, it is in any case certain that there was a
direct historical tie between the Hermits of the Egyptian desert and Provence; or
between the Eastern, Egyptian teachings, John Cassian (with the Abbey of Saint
Victor, founded by him) and Western tradition. Why is it then, that in this
context, such a long and elaborate introduction had been necessary? The answer
Cassian was a leading figure in the vicissitudes of the Tarot, guarding them and
handing down their authentic Teaching.
The graphic appearance of the Arcana was re-elaborated by a group of Gnostic
initiates of the first centuries. In this version, they may be considered the
testimony, in the form of a silent Book composed only of images, of Knowledge
and Faith derived from an even more Ancient Wisdom. They represent,
therefore, a joining link between Egyptian and Christian knowledge, a spiritual
and sapiential continuum between East and West.
The history of the Abbey of Saint Victor is closely tied to the annals of these
cards, as we will see presently. John Cassian 22 , with the Order that bears his
name, had a great religious and esoteric influence on Provence and on the whole
of Europe: we have only to think that, in the various confraternities, the study of
his theological vision continues even today. This monk and his disciples,
initiated in the same principles, made it their task to preserve and propagate
these Icons today known as the Tarot, in all the territory of the spiritual influence
of the Abbey, also thanks to the fact that in those days the profession of
amanuensis was cultivated, precisely, in religious locations 23 (in Italy in
particular, in the Benedictine monasteries). Therefore, Cassian proved to be an
authentic and fundamental Teacher of Christianity, one of the essential guardians
of Western spirituality, whose works and accuracy it is impossible to doubt.
2.2 FROM 1000 TO 1500

In Western Europe, the period of political instability and the lack of resources,
cause and consequence of the fall of the Western Roman Empire were still
underway. The Eastern Empire suffered the repercussions of the centuries past
while the Arabs and the Muslim peoples enjoyed constantly increased means and
contributions. The expansion into southern France followed strategies already
adopted elsewhere, raiding, plundering and occupying, or the foundation of
coastal centres for penetration inland. For Christianity and its locations,
including the territory and activity of the Abbey of San Vittore, these were times
of great difficulty and continuous retreat.
However, in the centuries following the year 1000 was seen a new prosperity
for the Christian faith, thanks also to religious groups and orders, such as
Cathars and Templars, who defended the original principles of the faith and
brought to the front once more its purity and authenticity. San Vittore itself,
guided by the Spanish monk Isarno, recovered its position, becoming one of the
most authoritative and influential institutions in the West. We concern ourselves
greatly with this Abbey and the territory directly under its control, as in these
locations was found the most ancient documents regarding the Marseilles Tarot .
The hypothesis is that the Abbey produced these Icons, today known as Tarot
cards, distributing them to their dependencies over this vast area, even to the
regions farthest east, as the Duchy of Milan (site of the deck considered the most
ancient of all). This supposition is strengthened by the presence of an historical
tie between San Vittore, Marseilles, and the Visconti family.


Simple Lords of Marseilles and Trets before the year 977, the Visconti were
able to create their own sovereignty in French territory without the obligation of
rendering fealty to the Counts of Provence. Their tie to Saint Victor, in any case,
is certified by the habitual rapport of shared territory, but also by some particular
facts. According to tradition, Guillaume de Grimoard (1310-1370) was the 200th
Pope of the Catholic Church, from 1362 until his death. He took the name of
Urban V and in 1870 was proclaimed Blessed by Pius IX. Already a Benedictine
monk at an early age, theologian and Doctor in Canonical Law, he was Abbot of
Saint Victor for a number of years. Among his many merits, the future Pope
distinguished himself in various diplomatic missions to Italy for the Curia of
Avignon, from1352 to1362. In one of these, the Pope Innocent VI sent him to
Milan, to the Visconti, to attempt to put an end to the bitter conflict arising from
the refusal to acknowledge the temporal sovereignty of the Church.
It seems clear, then, that there existed a direct relationship between Marseilles,
Milan, and the Tarot. Equally evident is the consequence: The Icons, exiting the
walls of the ancient monasteries, became, over the centuries, a recreational and
popular pastime, mere playing cards. What happened? The answer is much
simpler than it appears. Precisely because of the changeable happenings of San
Vittore and its dependencies, the images underwent a vulgarization. In this way,
losing the exclusivity of religious and esoteric environments, they came to be
known by a public uneducated in the authentic wisdom of certain Teachings. In
those days, the fidelity of a copy of the illustrations, as with text, depended
above all on the quality of the original and on the ability of the copier. The
decline of this proficiency, caused by chaos which had erupted through the
monastery territories, caused a gradual worsening of the features and colours of
the illustrations; at the same time, copying, in the hands of individuals who had
no knowledge of their true symbolism, degenerated into an inevitable
modification of the original. Thus, they who decided to re-design the deck for
various purposes, not having at their disposition exact copies of the originals,
had progressively (although involuntarily) deviated the authentic ancient
Tradition. Over time, the symbols and even more the figures, on the basis of a
vastly incomplete graphic (“written”) tradition and on an - inadvertently -
erroneous oral transmission, were dispersed and scattered, becoming many
different decks. In order to clarify this, we will examine these two cards:

Fig. 4
Visconti-Sforza Tarot, 1400 circa

Fig. 5
Marseilles Tarot of 1760 (Restored)

As you will note, both figures of the Hermit hold an object in the hand: in the
first case, an hourglass, in the second, a lantern. We know, from the Codes, the
Coded Structure to which we repeatedly refer and which we will explain at
length, that the Hermit has within himself the concept of time . Therefore, since in
all probability this information was known and orally transmitted, it is
understandable that the author of the Visconti image drew an hourglass in the
hand of the figure. It is to be supposed that not having the original available, the
copier trusted himself to a simple act of memory. In any case, as we will see
later, thanks to the system of Codes, the symbol is incorrect because only the
lantern confers an accurate and perfectly correspondent meaning to the general
esoterical structure, guaranteeing a plurality of sense which is totally lacking in
the case of the hourglass.
We may say then that the symbols which are to be found in the diverse ancient
decks of the Marseilles Tarot, are witness to this oral form which continued to
hand down that which remained of a lost esoteric tradition of the Tarot. This art
spread in every direction, in the engravings, paintings and frescoes of the
churches, and many artists continued this diffusion without actually realizing its
deeper sense. The existence of a model of Tarot containing the secret framework
makes it anterior with respect to decks in which this structure is absent or
deteriorated, which are to be regarded, precisely owing to this lack, as posterior.
Yet the problem of this sort of research is always the same: one begins by
studying antique decks different from the Marseilles Tarot, believing them to be
the true esoteric source, and judging them to be of a later epoch, does not
hypothesize that it is the Marsellaise that contain the original Coded Structure . In
the last two to three centuries, from the end of the 1700’s forward, those who
have attempted to study the Tarot seriously from a symbolic point of view have
been thrown off the track because of this vicious circle. In truth, acting in this
manner, we can find nothing for the simple reason that…there is nothing to be
found! However, knowing of the presence of the system of reference, it is possible
to invert the methodological reasoning . If we estimate the Marseilles Tarot to be
antecedent to all others, as if they were the primary source of this Structure , we
may use the symbols found in the different ancient decks, as testimony to an oral
and a written/graphic tradition which, simply and majestically, confirm the
esoteric framework contained in the Marsellaise themselves. Therefore,
following the logic of this sort of symbolic “breakdown”, it is easy to guess why
the Icons became, over time, a simple game of cards. At the time, in fact, this
sort of recreation was so over-used by the entire population, including aristocrats
and clergy, that numerous ordinances were passed to forbid its use, at least in
religious locations such as inside monastery walls. Often this prohibition had
diametrically the opposite effect, causing an increase in the diffusion of this
pastime. In any case, among the many references, one is of particular interest for
us. This is the most ancient ordinance known today, which expressly forbids the
practice of the Paginae (in Latin, page, paper, parchment) and which dates from
the year 1337: “ Quod nulla persona audeat nec praesumat ludere ad taxillos nec
ad paginas nec ad eyssychum (That no one dare, or take up the game of dice,
cards, or chess).”
According to the lexicographer Du Cange and the historian d’Allemange, 24 this
may be the most ancient citation in the world referring to card games. In 1408,
the word “ card ” and “ playing–card ” are used in the same sentence to describe
the same game. What makes this quote so amazingly particular? That of having
been unearthed in the statutes of a monastery by now known to the reader, the
Abbey of Saint Victor. The most ancient term known today meaning playing-
cards, and the history of the Tarot cards, crossed paths in precisely the same
place…A probability of this sort is decisively against all statistical calculations,
therefore this “coincidence” must be even more heavily underlined. Certainly, it
does not prove by itself the origin of the Arcana, but it is an element of
comparison for objective deduction deriving from the Coded Structure . In fact, to
this same period (the XIV century) dates a petition of the card makers of Lyon,
accusing their colleagues of Marseilles of counterfeiting the Lyonese cards; we
may affirm that the master card makers of Marseilles, although officially
authorized to form a corporation only from 1638, were already active and
To return to the Visconti-Sforza deck, we seem now to be able to collocate it in
the correct dimension. Historians maintain that it is the oldest, while esoterists
and occultists believe it to be the original, imperfect, model. Both hypotheses are
wrong; they are neither the oldest, nor the original model. The card deck known
as the Visconti-Sforza Tarot (apart from further historical and archive
cataloguing, to which we refer the reade 25 ), is a deck derived from even older
Icons, the Marseilles Tarot. We refer to a “faded” copy of a progenitor prototype.
Basically, thanks to the contacts between Provence, the Abbey and the Visconti,
the images must have arrived by word of mouth or at most, in some altered
graphic form, at the court of Milan, leading to the creation of the deck so famous
today. However these images may be judged valuable or priceless from an
artistic point of view, we can find only a residue of the symbolic Tradition from
far earlier; the primitive Tarot, those of Marseilles, bore this Tradition, which is
totally absent in these other figures.

Fig. 6
Cary Sheet, Yale University

Referring the reader to the final appendix for analysis of the period between the
1600’s and part of the 1700’s, let us view the more recent and much better-
known history of the Tarot, from the end of the 1700’s to today.
We have said that at the end of the XVIII century the Tarot had been
assimilated into a game of chance and that their profound significance was no
longer recognized. However, in 1781 a bizarre event occurred which, although
considered by many only a sham, was rather relevant. This was the year in which
the Protestant Pastor Court de Gèbelin, whom we have already mentioned,
claimed to have discovered a connection between the game-cards, used for
recreational purposes, and ancient Egyptian religion.

Fig. 7
Court de Gébelin

The words of de Gèbelin, a complex and well-known personage of the French

cultural environment, had great resonance in intellectual circles and were not
considered fanatical or fantastic. This surprising announcement was, in our
opinion, his greatest achievement, as in this way the flagging interest regarding
the Tarot was re-awakened, focusing the attention of scholars on the philosophic
and esoteric sense of these images and reclaiming them from the exclusively and
merely profane use to which they had been relegated as a game of chance.
Consequently, from that time on, the Arcana will be an object of passionate and
diversified study, which prepared the terrain, although among deviations and
distortions of all sorts, for the comprehension of this new instrument in its
progressive development in modern times. After the publication of de Gèbelin’s
treatise, we may delineate a conventional subdivision of scholars and occultists
of the following decades, into two large Schools: one French, the other Anglo-
Saxon, of whom we offer a brief summary.


Between 1783 and 1787, in Amsterdam and Paris, five booklets entitled
Manière de se recréer avec un jeu de cartes nommées Tarot ( Ways to amuse
oneself with a card game called Tarot ) were published. They contained
instructions on the methods of use of the Tarot in cartomancy, and were written
by the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Alliette (1724-1791), otherwise known by the
psuedonym Etteilla (Aliette written backwards).
Etteilla became a famous cartomancer but also a cult member of the
Pythagoriean Cabala so esteemed that he was invited to participate in the reunion
of the Order of the Philatelists, the Masonic Lodge who counted amongst its
founders, that same Court de Gèbelin. Apart from any technical consideration,
we shall remember simply that Etteilla also regarded the Tarot as a magic text
dating back to ancient Egypt, which he. as did de Gèbelin, identified with the
legendary Book of Thoth . However, because according to him the figures had
been completely altered, he decided to restore their (perhaps presumed) original
aspect; and circa 1769 published his own deck entitled Livre de Thot, ou Jeu des
78 Tarots Egyptiens ( Book of Thoth, or Deck of the 78 Egyptian Tarot ).

Fig. 8
Jeu des Tarots Egyptiens
(Deck of Egyptian Tarot)

Although the use of cards for divinitory purposes was quite ancient, as we are
reminded by authors such as Pico della Mirandola, 26 these times of which we
speak are generally accepted as the dawn of modern cartomancy, that is, of an
exclusively divinatory use of the Tarot. A more noble interest on the part of
esoterists made itself vividly known only after the printing of the book Dogme et
Rituel de la Haute Magie ( Dogma and Ritual of High Magic ), published in Paris
in 1855 and written by the French esoterists Eliphas Levi, pseudonym of
Alphonse Louis Constant.
The interpretation of Levi, although characterized by great intuition, was,
briefly: judging the Marseilles Tarot to be exoteric, he redesigned a version, in
his opinion esoteric, of certain figures, maintaining only the 22 figures of the
Major Arcana to be indispensable. By rejecting the 56 Minoir Arcana, he
affirmed with conviction that only the Major had deep significance, to be found
through a comparitive study of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Basically,
in attempting to explain the Tarot through the Cabala, he was responsable for the
aforementioned error which caused so many negative repercussions on the
modality of research of future generations.

Fig. 9
Eliphas Levi

Some years later, in 1863, another esoterist, Jean-Baptiste Pitois, published the
book L’Homme Rouge des Tuileries ( The Red Man of the Tuileries ). Little is
known about this individual, better known as Paul Christian. Among the
thousand contradictions of his multiform religious inclinations, Pitois may be
considered a Hermetic scholar, who, while declaring himself Christian, admitted
to being attracted by the ancient mystery religions and the magic arts, “ because
magic is not contrary to wisdom, nor to our religious beliefs . 27 ” This first work
of his is characterized by a mixture of three divinatory techniques: astrology,
onomancy, and the “ 78 Hermetic blades ”, as he himself termed the Tarot. In a
later work of his, Histoire de la Magie ( History of Magic ), we find a detailed
description of a secret rite which, in a distant epoch, was said to have taken place
inside the Sphinx of Ghiza, to conclude inside the Pyramid of Cheope. Here the
neophytes came in order to know “The Arcana of Destiny”, which represented a
first step towards a more elevated knowledge. In this Egyptian context every
Arcanum, according to the description of Christian, assumes a precise
denomination and is connected to a rigorous description, which may be
interpreted as a keyword 28 . This concept which, not by chance, will be copied and
repeated many times, correctly developed and comprehended, is revealed today
of capital importance for understanding the true meaning of the Tarot.
In 1886 a young French poet and cabalist, Stanislas De Guaita, published the
book Au Seuil du Mystère ( At the Threshold of Mystery ). The object of this work
was to liberate occultism of mystification and vulgar, witchlike, spiritistic and
divinatory practices which had come to characterize it. His purpose was to show
the nobility of High Magic and above all the importance of the Tarot as a
synthesis of all initiatic knowledge. Despite the modest commercial success of
this work, the text awakened an enormous fascination among many
contemporary esoterists, among whom the French physician Gèrard Encausse,
known as Papus, and the Swiss hypnotist Oswald Wirth. In 1889 in fact, not long
before the turn of the century, another book was printed, Clef absolue de la
science occulte: Le Tarot des Bohémiens, le plus ancien livre du monde, à
l’usage exclusif des initiés ( Ultimate key to Occult Science: the Tarot of the
Gypsies, the oldest book in the world, for exclusive use by initiates ) by Papus.

Fig. 10
Clef absolue de la science occulte, Papus

The fundamental aspect of this study consists in the affirmation that the Tarot
are an initiatic pastime brought to the West by the gypsies, or Bohemians. This
idea, already put forth by de Gèbelin some hundred years earlier, continued
circulating and growing in certain circles. Papus affirms that not only were the
Tarot at the root of the Ars Magna of Raimondo Lullo (1235-1316), Spanish
philosopher, writer and missionary, one of the most famous in the Europe of his
time, but that through them it was possible to understand the mysterious ties
between God, man and the universe. In spite of the fact that Papus, as did all
preceding occultists , allowed himself to re-create his “own” Tarot (specifically,
with Egyptian personages illustrating a Hebrew cabalistic framework), he had
great merit all the same. Let his writing speak for him:
“ Most modern occultist writers who have dealt with the Tarot manifest great
transport regarding the Major Arcana and an equally intense disdain for the
Minor Arcana from which were born card games. There are also many false
systems of reading Tarot based only upon the 22 Major Arcana, taking into no
account the 56 Minor. This is truly infantile. The Tarot is a marvelous whole. 29 ”

Fig. 11
Oswald Wirth

Dr Encausse, then, differently from Levi, understood a fundamental aspect: the

total unity of all 78 images, the 22 Major Arcana and the 56 Minor. This regards
another remarkable matter which we will deal with in due tiime. In the 1800-
1900’s, another notable representative of the French school was, as already
mentioned, Oswald Wirth (1860-1943). Born in German Switzerland, after
various sojourns in France and England, in 1884 he affiliated himself with the
Great East of France, interesting himself deeply in Masonic symbolism. In 1887
he met De Guaita, who introduced him to the study of the Cabala and the Tarot.
Appreciating his artistic capabilities, De Guaita suggested he create a new deck,
in order to restore to the cards their “ Hieroglyphic purity ”, as Eliphas Levi
himself had hoped at one time.
Taking as example the Marseilles Tarot (specifically a Tarot of Besançon) and
an Italian deck, Wirth created a new deck, Les XXII Arcanes du Tarot
kabbalistique, restitués à leur pureté hiérogliphique sous les indications de
Stanislas De Guaita ( The XXII Arcana of the Cabalistic Tarot, restored to their
hieroglyphic purity by indication of Stanislas De Guaita , Paris, 1889). It was
dutiful to give credit to the marquis, because, although he left nothing written
regarding the Tarot, it is correct to affirm that the Wirth Arcana were an
expression of his teachings. Later, in 1926, Wirth, had a new version of the 22
Arcana printed, entitled Le Tarot des imagiers du Moyen Age ( The Tarot of the
Illustrators of the Middle Ages ), with eleven inserted tables, destined to have
considerable editorial success. These Tarot, much appreciated also by Masonic
members, are today a frequent object of study for the many various manuals of
cartomancy and archetypical symbolism.
In the 1900’s, another fundamental researcher of the French school, although
less known to the public at large, was Joseph Maxwell, who in 1933 wrote a
book entitled Le Tarot, le symbole, les arcanes, la divination ( The Tarot, the
symbol, the Arcana, the Divination ).

Fig. 12
Le Tarot by Joseph Maxwell

His merits were numerous, the first being that of declaring, “ the Arcana are an
optical language and constitute a book written in symbols ”. This may appear a
secondary affirmation, but it is one of the ultimate keys to understanding the
Tarot. After some two centuries of hypotheses and suggestions, someone again
began to speak of this matter in a completely new way, favoring the aspects of
empirical observation with respect to the the complicated and almost always
abstruse occult theories. This is not, however, the only merit of Maxwell who, in
fact,was the first to indicate a disposition of the cards (already studied in the
XIX century) according to a triple septenary (3x7), with the Fool, numberless,
considered apart. “ The Fool has no number (...) is therefore outside of the triple
septenary numbered from I to XXI; it is, then, outside the Universe of the 3x7. 30 ”
Although we will consider this last aspect more in detail later, we may affirm
even now that Maxwell was overall a fundamental researcher of the history of
the Tarot; and seeing that some individuals of our age have appropriated certain
of his more notable intuitions, passing them off as their own, we consider it
essential to render justice to his thinking and his worthy goals. In the wake of
this scholar the French school began a progressive decline and we would not
pause longer were it not for an author who had a great, unfortunately
negative,impact on the development and use of the Tarot for a good part of the
1900’s: we refer to the Basque, naturalized French, Paul Marteau. This
individual, in the book Le Tarot de Marseille ( The Marseilles Tarot ), analyzed a
Marsaillese deck, which he considered the first true esoteric model, explaining
its symbolism, features, numbers and colors, following the presumed criteria of
Western magic. His principal fault was in considering this deck, now much
known to the general public as the Ancient Marseilles Tarot , to be the ancient
deck of Marseilles Tarot which, lost over the centuries, had been rediscovered by
him. Recent comparitive studies have demonstrated that it was a deplorable fake.
The features and drawings of these cards, are in fact exact reproductions of the
Besançon Tarot, published by the editor Grimaud in 1898, who merely
reproduced other, former, Besançon Tarot published by Lequart and signed
“Arnault 1748. 31 ” Furthurmore, as if this plagiarism were not enough, Marteau
also took the liberty of modifying certain details of the original, and conserved
only the four basic colors imposed by the typography machines which, in the
course of the industrial revolution, had forced printers to modify their methods
of the coloration of playing cards. In substance, instead of respecting the more
diversified ancient colors of hand-copied cards in re-creating these Tarot, he
used only only the 4 colors of a Convers deck published by the editor Camoin in
1880: red, blue, yellow, and very little green. His deck, during the 1900’s, was
the source of hundreds of interpretations regarding the symbols, illustrations and
colors of these supposedly “authentic” Marseilles Tarot, inspiring generations of
aficionados and researchers, totally unknowing of the fact that they were basing
their interpretations on a banal and mediocre copy, a result of technical and
commercial machinations. It is easy to understand that this episode contributed
heavily towards to the increase of an already widespread lack of knowledge
regarding the Tarot. In fact, if a large number of scholars and cartomacers were
“formed” by, or yet still practice with and study on these cards and their
presumed meanings, how may we give credit, even in good faith, to their
technical preparation?

Fig. 13
Lequart Arnoult Edition 1748

Fig. 14
Conver Edition 1880

Fig. 15
Ancient Marseilles Tarot - Paul Marteau


In most other European countries, no great effort was made towards a fuller
understanding of the Tarot. At least, we can find no figures of equal fame
prestige founded or unfounded (and that itself is another matter) as in the French
school, as it was called. The only other society to evince a deep interest in the
subject, and continues to do so today, is the Anglo-Saxon.
The pioneer of this current of thought, Kenneth Mackenzie, was an English
Mason, member of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA). Thanks to a
letter written in 1887 to his friend and brother Mason Francis G. Irwin, regarding
instructions received from Eliphas Levi “ for working with the Tarot ”, we know
that he associated with Eliphas Levi in 1861, during the French occultist’s
second trip to England. In another letter in 1879, this time to Dr William W.
Westcott, also a member of the SRIA, he wrote that he did not wish to
communicate his “ Tarot system ” indiscriminately because “ it might become a
dangerous weapon in the hands of persons less scrupulous than myself. 32 ”
From his writings we learn that he collected numerous notes on the Tarot and
planned a work, never published, entitled The Game of Tarot, Archaeologically
and Symbolically Considered , containing 78 illustrations. Although it was never
published, we know that Mackenzie showed the project of the work, “ as a
curiosity ”, to Brother Mathers. It is precisely with this last eccentric personage
that the history of the study of the Arcana in the Anglo-Saxon world really
In 1888 Samuel Liddel Mathers published the first English volume dealing
with the Tarot, a simple small manual of cartomancy, entitled Fortune-telling
Cards. The Tarots, Its Occult Significance and Method of Play. The information
was taken from de Gèbelin and from the deck The Great Etteilla by Julia Orsini,
reworked with various notes gathered from Levi and legends of Egyptian
initiatic ceremonies narrated by Pitois. Here are some of Mathers’ affirmations in
appendix to the booklet:
“ This is the hieroglyphic alphabet which Moses made the great secret of his
Cabala (…) it is the famous Book of Thoth (…), preserved until the present
epoch in the form of that particular deck of cards called Tarot (…) .”
These very decided affirmations of Mathers give only an idea of his opinion
regarding the Tarot. His thoughts, in effect, will emerge only following the
foundation of a new esoteric organization, the Hermetic Order of the Golden
Dawn. For the members of this institution, which gathered many adepts
(including the Irish poet William Butler Yeats) in the UK, in France, and later, in
the United States, the Tarot had a fundamental role.
The Golden Dawn gathered, in fact, numerous manuscripts, the so-called Flying
Rolls , composed by various acolytes and put at the disposition of the other
members for the learning of the diverse occult and magic disciplines. Among
these rolls, which actually constituted a course of esoteric studies, there was one
of particular interest to us, the so-called Liber T , a treatise attributed almost
certainly only to Mathers.
This volume, which already in its title refers to the ancient Egyptian manuscript
so often cited by the occultists of centuries past, was a crucial text of which the
initiates of the Order were required to know all the secret attributes, theoretical
and practical. Among the various scholars, we will mention two who had a more
than substantial role in the XIX century history of the Tarot: Aleister Crowley
and Arthur Edward Waite.
The first, an unusual individual, according many depraved, for others a black
wizard, defined himself “ the most sublime mystic in history, the Word of a new
Eon, the Beast, the 666 Man, the self-crowned king that men must adore and
curse. ”

Fig. 16
The Fool - Alister Crowley

His name, after his death in 1947, was forgotten for a long time, to be
rediscovered at the end of the seventies by the hippy generation and raised to the
status of prophet of a new era based on free love... It is not our intention to dwell
upon his fantastical life and on his more than original and not always shareable
thoughts, because that which interests us is only his role in the history of the
Tarot. Crowley, in 1907, after a series of vicissitudes and personal tragedies,
founded the Argentum Astrum, a magic brotherhood which he intended to
replace the aforementioned Golden Dawn. In 1912, he published the first volume
of The Equinox of the Gods , a magazine divulgating instructions for his disciples,
in which he furnished a detailed description of the 78 Arcana. Actually, it was
not an original study of his, but a plaigiarism of the Liber T of Mathers, of which
we wrote above.
Around 1935, the painter Frieda Harris, wife of a Member of Parliament,
entered the organization. The meeting with the artist permitted Crowley to
realize a long-time dream of his: the two together created the illustrations of The
Book of Thoth Tarot , published for the first time in London in 1944 in a black
and white version, which was reprinted in the 70’s in the graphic colour version
more familiar today.
In this manner, the interest for the Tarot migrated from England to the United
States, thanks to the Golden Dawn and its two best-known affiliates, Aleister
Crowley and Arthur Waite. This last is remembered above all for the Rider-Waite
Tarot , the work that gave him lasting fame. A few of his affirmations:
“ The Tarot incarnates the symbolic representation of universal ideas (…), and
it is in this sense that it contains a Secret Doctrine (…) handed down from one of
the chosen to another and which is vouched for by mysterious literature such as
that of Alchemy and Cabala; it is inherent also in certain mysterious Institutions
of which the Rosacrucians are an example near to us, and of which the Masonic
Guild is a living example. (…) I do not mean to suggest that the Tarot is the
figured expression of the secret doctrine, nor that it was followed by the
Hermetic philosophers; but it is notable in that it is the first expression of this
art. 33 ”
“ There is an explanation of the Major Triumphs through that combination of
the figures which belongs to the highest order of Spiritual Truth; it is not occult
but mystic; it is not possible to communicate it because it lies inside its own
Sanctuary.(…) If we attempt individually to define the highest meanings
conceivable in a state of meditation, then combine the message , modifying their
formulations until the entire series is led to harmony, the result may be
something absolutely valid in itself, and therefore true. We are speaking
especially of the Major Triumphs. In conclusion, we must understand that we are
simply working with painted figures; but the modality of the mystical goes
beyond figured mental portrayals: it is behind the kaleidoscope of external
things that the Silent Light may rise inside the mind, in that state of purity that is
the Life of the Soul in God. 34 ”

Fig. 17
The Fool, Rider-Waite Tarot
From these writings, we may appreciate the greatness of the scholar, fully
aware of a mystical function of the Tarot, but unfortunately, of his deck, the
aforementioned Rider-Waite Tarot, we cannot say the same.
It is, in fact, a deck lacking a real objective esoteric component, and which
barely conserves, as do all of the decks described up to now, only vague
symbolic traces confirming the basic Coded Structure . This lapidary statement
will be motivated in detail.
In concluding this research of ours, which does not claim to treat fully all of the
events of the complex history of these images, we will merely mention that
regarding approximately the last two centuries, attention has been concentrated
only upon the two principal currents of study and the accent has been
exclusively on the occult and esoterical aspects of the Tarot. This is not meant to
imply that there have not been other researchers of note, dedicated to other
branches, nor that the approach to the Tarot has always been of an exclusively
esoteric sort.
Regarding the first consideration, we might cite, among thousands of scholars,
several names quite famous in Western culture, such as Peter D. Ouspensky, who
wrote extensively of the Tarot in the volumes A New Model for the Universe and
The Symbolism of the Tarot and Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, who mentioned them
frequently in her Secret Doctrine . Concerning instead other sorts of approaches,
such as the artistic, we prefer to refer the reader to publications specialized in the
subject. Our point of view, in fact, which considers the cards Iconic bearers of
Wisdom, would be unable to describe the manner in which this modality of
orientation, thanks to its infinite and various nuances, may have contributed to
enrich in general, but under other perspectives, the subject of Tarot.

At this point, wishing to point out one of the principal traits which dominated
the investigation of the Tarot in the course of recent history, we might say that
almost all researchers made, more or less artlessly, the same mistake. As we
have seen, most scholars hypothesized that these images had an ancient origin,
and in the long list of hypothetical characteristics, there were those who
connected them to the Book of Thoth of ancient Egypt, to the Hebrew Cabala, to
Gypsy fortune-telling, and so on. In substance, based on these conjectures,
esoterists maintained that the Renaissance Visconti Tarot, the most ancient
known today, were none other than the most recent echo of a remote tradition of
which they conserved only an imperfect memory, but to which because of the
lack of direct provable ties, it was not possible to trace them. What to do, then, if
these cards from the 1500’s were inadequate for expressing a deeper sense?
Convinced that their knowledge was enough to guarantee an integral restoration
of the meaning of the Arcana, they all took the same path:
They redesigned the Tarot according to their own personal visions!
For this reason, each one wrote a text, commenting his own ideas and theories,
using as analysis model the re-created and perfected deck. If, to these Tarot with
more esoteric characteristics, we add the infinite number of decks produced for
other motives, as those for artistic or for recreative purposes, the reason is clear
for which the quantity of decks published, especially in the last two centuries,
has been, and today still is, so copious, reaching an impressive number of
editions. Referring specifically to the Tarot decks created by the more famous
authors of the 1700’s to the 1900’s we may say that the drawings of these cards
express their perspective, their moral prejudices, their personal convictions on
the world.
Each has modified the original plan of the Tarot in favour of a subjective
representation, committing an act of free will, but not to the good. Every
authentic tradition, by definition, transmits an objective message which must
prove to be far from any individual interpretation. Therefore why did these
scholars commit such an abuse? Why did they violate a balanced and impartial
knowledge in favour of a personal and private vision? Were they all in bad faith?
The answer is quite simple: they were unaware of the existence of the Coded
Structure which, once comprehended, allows the revelation of the true sense of
the Tarot.
If this framework were unknown, not only did it not represent the factor of
orientaton of their research, but neither did they consider it in designing their
decks… For this reason, in all the decks of different creators who followed one
upon the other in the course of the epochs, and more generally in all those
designed for the most varied needs, any system at all of codified reference is
totally lacking. This Structure , which explains the meaning of the Tarot, their
function and the correct manner in which to utilize them, even in the known
practice of interpretation, is to be found, in its completest form of perfection , only
in the deck of Nicolas Conver, French cardmaker of the 1700’s, who engraved a
deck belonging to the so-called Marseilles Tarot (a detailed description of this
group may be found in the Appendices).

Nicolas Conver, who founded the manufactory 35 which bears his name, created
his Tarot deck in 1760. He had been named “Master of Cards in Marseilles,
engraver at the court of the King”, which, in his epoch, put him at the top of his
category. Scholars agree that the features engraved by Nicolas Conver on the
blocks in pear wood used in those times for printing the Tarot decks, even
though subject to the limits and errors of woodwork, are the highest exmple of
perfection ever reached. In fact, these cards, in the centuries to come, will be
used for numerous reprintings and re-editions by various publishing houses.

Fig. 18
The World, Conver edition of 1760 - editor Heron
In any case these later publications, although not substituting the matrices and
therefore safeguarding the features, made many alterations and modifications to
the colors. This was owing to the fact that every change in the technique of
fabrication caused inevitable variations. From 1760 to 1880, the Conver Tarot
were painted with colored stencils (the pochoirs ), a method of coloring by hand
in which the color passes through sections of the surface of the material
(cardboard or metal) of the stencil cut-out. With this sort of production, once in
widespread use above all in France, in many varied sectors of graphics, one
painted onto the stencil, but the color passed onto the material below in the
shape of the image desired. Thus there were stencils for yellow, for dark blue,
light blue, one for red, etc, and the technique allowed the reproduction of a
rather large number of colors. stencils, though, subject to wear, were changed
fairly often, creating problems for later reproductions.
In 1880, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the transformation of
methods of printing, the original tints were simplified, as the machines allowed a
more limited number than were to be found on the earlier, handcrafted cards.
Thus, in the new editions, tied to this sort of production in an effort to optimize
the costs of a great number of decks, there remained only red, blue, yellow and
flesh-tone 36 ; green and light blue disappeared and much was subverted, including
the allocation and the disposition of the remaining colors. This led to the creation
of an edition of total fantasy, fashioned according to the necessities of the new
manner of production, which was substituted by the more innovative offset
machines only after the second half of the XX century. These last, although
printing in quadrichromic thanks to a system of rollers, allows the possibility to
print all the tonalities.
However it may be, apart from these vicissitudes, in the last century the Tarot
have awakened an ever-growing interest, inducing researchers to formulate more
serious questions, in particular regarding the Marseilles variety. They have
(naturally, we think) directed much attention and investigation to the deck of
Nicolas Convers, whose version most respectful of the original coloring has
always been the one in blue, light blue, green, pink, yellow and red.
Unfortunately, in the various editions of these images, one of which is
conserved in the Paris National Library, the colors have changed, losing the
brilliance and the original tonalities and, simultaneously there has been a total
disappearance of certain nuances present at the time of printing with the pochoirs
, for example, the lighter and darker shades of green and yellow.
Despite all, these illustrations are to be considered the maximum model of
perfection reached in the more recent history of the Tarot and although some
alchemical symbols needed slight graphic re-elaboration, the relationship with
the Coded Structure forms an nearly impeccable whole.
Nicolas Conver in fact, having recuperated, thanks to his former masters, the
initiatic tradition of the Marseiles Tarot, re-established it by reintegrating the
codification of the colors, the numbers and the symbols. This tradition, until
1631, the year of the liberalization by King Louis XIII of the printing of playing
cards, forbidden until then, had been handed down by a confraternity which,
manufacturing the cards illegally, conserved its secret.
The considerable increase in production, a consequence of this decree,with the
appearance of dozens of decks lacking the authentic tradition, generated a
definitive loss of the true initiatic message. This is also the reason for which the
decks that have come down to us are so many but are all from the mid-1600’s
Therefore, Conver’s deck may be considered the continuation of an original
source; and its recovery, implemented by the author, allows us to fully use again
this metaphysical instrument known as Tarot . The reader will find the technical
explanation of this restoration in the Appendix.
Footnotes - Chapter 2

11 At least until the XV century it was assumed that the gypsies came from Egypt. Today they are more
popularly thought to be of Indian extraction.
12 Jacopo da Varazze, or da Varagine, was born in 1228 and became a Dominican friar and later,
Archbishop of Genoa. He was the author of the Legenda aurea (the Golden Legend ). This text, a reference
for many painters of sacred art, gives information and details relative to the lives of the Saints and
evangelical episodes.
13 Monuments inédits sur l’apostolat de Sainte Marie-Madeleine en Provence, et sur les autres apotres de
cette contrée: Saint Lazare, Saint Maximin, Sain Marthe (Unknown shrines of the apostolate of Saint Mary
Magdalen in Provence and of the other apostolates of this region: Saint Lazarus, Saint Maximin, and Saint
Martha) . Published by Abbot Migne, editor of the Universal Clerical Library, France 1865.
14 Il Messaggio di Pitagora ( The Message of Pythagoras ), Vincenzo Capparelli, vol. I Edizioni Mediterranee
15 Ibid .
16 The school of Alexandria.
17 One of the models typical of Gnosticism was the Valentinian School, founded in Rome by Valentine, of
Egyptian origin, in 140 AD. He had numerous disciples who brought into being two great schools of
thought: the Western (in what are now Italian and French regions, including Provence) and Eastern. To
Valentine, or to members of his School, are attributed some of the more important writing found near Nag
Hammadi, for example, the Gospel of Truth , the Tripartite Treaty , the Gospel of Philip , the Epistle to Reginos
on the Resurrection and, above all, the Pistis Sophia . The texts are written in Coptic, although most of them
(perhaps all) were translated from the Greek. Thanks to this discovery, scholars have identified traces in
the citations, of writings of the Fathers of the Church. The manuscripts have been dated to the III and IV
centuries AD, while for the original Greek texts, however still controversial, a period between the I and II
centuries Ad is generally accepted.
18 The Corpus Hermeticum is a collection of philosophical-religious writings of the late Hellenistic Era,
attributed to Hermes Trismegistus (the Latin Mercury, identified also as the Egyptian Thoth, the God who
gave hieroglyphics and writing to man), which represented the source of inspiration for Renaissance
Hermetic and Neoplatonic thought. The fundamental thought of these texts is summarized in the esoterical
doctrine of a “divine revelation” given to men by Hermes, not through rational demonstration and logical
deduction, but rather through some mysterious initiation. Marsilio Ficino, translator of the Corpus into
Latin in 1471, indicated Pythagorus and Plato as the latest representatives of the ancient Wisdom contained
in it.
19 According to Christian tradition, Eastern monasticism originated with Saint Anthony (ca 251-356 AD),
considered the “Father of Friars” but as we will demonstrate in chapter 8, it is actually far older.
20 The Cenobia were communities of monks and Saint Pacomius the Great was considered their first true
legislator. He, in fact, dictated a Rule for his brother monks according to which they should “ put all of their
earnings from all activities into a common fund, be it for food or for the hospitality of pilgrims. ”
21 John Cassian, Cenobitic Institutions 1, 36.
22 John Cassian was never canonized by the Catholic Church (which in any case celebrates him on July 23)
but by the Orthodox Church, which celebrates him on July 29. He was, however, considered a saint by
several Popes, among whom Urban V (1362-1370) and Benedict XIV (1740-1758).
23 Inside the monasteries, the place dedicated to the copying of texts and antique codes was called the
scriptorium .
24 Domini Du Cange, Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis , Charles du Fresne 1678; Henry René
d’Allemagne (1863-1950) in the work Les cartes a jouer du XIV au XX siecle ( Playing cards from the XIV
to XX century ).
25 Storia dei Tarocchi ( Story of the Tarot ), Giordano Berti, Mondadori edition, 2007.
26 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1469-1533) in his De rerum praenotione counts the images in playing
cards as one of many forms of sorcery: “ Sortium multa sunt genera ut in talorum iactu in tesseribus
proijciendis/in figuris Chartaceo ludo pictis ” ( Many are the types of sorcery, painted in the figures of card
decks, as also in the throwing of the dice. or the game of shells ). Strasbourg (Argentoraci) 1507, without
page numbers, Bk VI chap. VI.
27 Storia dei Tarocchi ( Story of the Tarot ), Giordano Berti, Mondadori edition, 2007.
28 The I Arcanum, the Magician (the Bateleur), symbolizes the Will; the II, the High Priestess, Science; the
III, the Empress, Action; the IIII, the Emperor, Realization; the V, the Hierophant, the Master of the
Arcana; the VI, the Lover, the Two Roads, the Ordeal; the VII, the Chariot, Victory; the VIII, Justice,
Equilibrium; the VIIII, the Hermit, the Veiled Lamp, Prudence; the X, the Wheel of Fortune, Fortune; the
XI, Strength, the Tamed Lion, Strength; the XII, the Hanged Man, Sacrifice; the XIII, the XIII Arcanum,
Transformation; the XIIII, Temperance, the Solar Genius; the XV, the Devil, Typhoon; the XVI, the House
of God, the Tower; the XVII, the Star, Hope; the XVIII, the Moon, Twilight, Delusion; the XVIIII, the
Sun, Well-being; the XX. Judgement, Renovation; the XXI, the World, Recompense; the Fool, Expiation.
29 Papus, Le Tarot divinatoire ( The Divinatory Tarot ), Librairie Hermétique, Paris 1909, p 15 .
30 Joseph Maxwell, Le Tarot, le symbole, les arcanes, la divination , page 13, ed. Libraire Félix Alcan.
31 Basically, these Besançon Tarot, edited by Grimaud in 1898 were copied from the more ancient Tarot of
the cardmaker Lequart (which the editor Grimaud had acquired), of which an example may be seen today
at the French Museum of Playing Cards in Issy-les-Moulineaux, in France.
32 William W. Westcott, 1848-1925, was another member of the SRIA. Around 1888, Westcott presented
Mathers with a recent English edition of the Steganografia , a work on magic cryptography written in the
1400’s by Abbot Tritemius (1462-1516). The white pages of the book, which according to Westcott had
belonged to Eliphas Levi, described the twenty-two steps of a self-initiation into High Magic: these steps
corresponded to the Triumphs of the Tarot. Westcott’s volume was published in London in 1896 with the
title The Magical Ritual of Sanctum regnum and reprinted in Paris towards 1920. Historians of the Golden
Dawn maintain that this work should not be attributed to Levi. Today it is certain that the fraud was
Westcott’s idea, not the only one of his career.
33 The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, Rides & Co., London 1910, page 59.
34 From The Great Symbols of the Tarot b y A.E.Waite, extracted from Shadows of Life and Thought, Selwin
& Blount, London, 1938, p 186.
35 Nicolas Conver founded his Maison Conver, in 1760.
36 Among the tints, black and white are not numbered, being considered “non-colours.”

“And when the seven thunders spake, I was about to write; but I heard a voice
from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write
(Apocalypse of John)


The Tarot is a group of figures, in two subgroups of 22 and 56 cards, called

respectively Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. It may seem superfluous to stress
this fact, but this subdivision has at times been debated. This, because the history
of these images has been so rich in a multiplicity of options, with respect to the
actual number of cards and their general configuration. Therefore, not only a
unanimous agreement is lacking on this point 37 , but many have also contested the
simultaneous origin of the two groups. The most popular theories state that the
Major were created after the Minor, 38 the oriental derivation of which seems to be
demonstrated by the presence of the curved sword, typically Asian. According to
experts, in fact, the Minor Arcana prove from the playing cards themselves that,
invented in China around the VIII century, after having migrated towards the
West, to India and Persia, taken to Europe by the Saracens, Muslims of the
African coast and of Spain, they precede the birth of the Tarot.
The oldest citation supporting this hypothesis is the word naips (similar to the
modern Hispanic naipes ) in the Diccionari de Rims of 1371 of the Catalan poet
Jaume March. This term seems to have been used for playing cards and also for
Tarot cards in spite of the fact that, in the aforementioned tome, its meaning is
never precisely clarified.
However that may be, scholars believe that the Minor Arcana possess the four
suits so well-known to the gaming public (Pentacles, Cups, Clubs and Swords)
precisely because of this lineage and that they are the precursors, followed only
later by the Major Arcana. The truth is another.
The origin of the Tarot has nothing to do with playing cards, being traceable to
the first century of the Christian epoch. It is the playing cards which may derive
from a form of degenerated Tarot. The Tarot, born complete and perfect from its
dawn, owing to the ebb and flow of events, as the preceding story has described,
underwent dispersion and disgregation of its symbols into a series of decks
which, in almost all cases, retain only sporadic fragments of the original deck. 39
From this process of degradation, therefore, were born as well the playing cards
who owe their four suits to the Tarot (exactly the opposite of what is commonly
believed today).
For those experts who protest the presence of the curved sword in the suit of
swords, according to them having, exclusively oriental roots, not ascribable to
any Western period, suffice it to remember the finding of friezes and coins of the
Hellenistic and Imperial Roman epochs. 40 Artifacts showing swords of those
times render plausible the use of a similar symbol in the first centuries of the
Briefly then, the Tarot was not born from the union of two groups, as most
specialists maintain, but has always been a whole in which all the Arcana were
created together. In any case, the most sure and efficient way to dissipate every
doubt in this regard is by comprehension of the Coded Structure , thanks to which
the 78 cards emerge as a unique and finite entirety in which numerous Codes and
correlations connect the Major with the Minor, leading to a close and evident
interdependance of the two series. We have already affirmed that the deck of
Nicolas Conver, in its many versions and more or less faithful imitations, copied
from the 1799’s, is the ancient depository of an initiatic message, more ancient
still. 41
Over the centuries the message, thanks to confraternities of monks and
corporations of master cardmakers, has been perpetuated so as to arrive to us
unaltered. Thus, studying this deck, we will endeavor to understand the nature of
this unique entity called Tarot, constituted by two elements in an intense
relationship one with the other, the Major and Minor Arcana, analyzing its
configuration and the particular functions to which it is destined. We will begin
with the evaluation of its general structure; but in order to do this, we must have
on hand all 78 cards (for those who do not have a deck, it would be well to
obtain one). We invite even the most expert to observe them as if it were the first
time, seeking simple relationships and trying to comprehend the manner in
which the Tarot is composed. The cards should be observed searching first of all
for the logic of their disposition and, only afterwards, the possible relationships
among them.


It is evident that ceratin cards are characterized by clubs, pentacles, cups and
swords, which form four series of ten “object” cards and four “figure” cards, for
a total of fourteen cards in each series. We do not need any preliminary
knowledge in order to see that there are indeed four series: we need only
observe. Here are their names in French:

- Deniers (Pentacles)
- Coupes (Cups)
- Bâtons (Wands)
- Epées (Swords) .

The first ten Arcana are numbered from 1 to 10; the last 4, called the Court
cards, are placed at the end of the sequence and are called:

- Valet (Page)
- Reyne (Queen)
- Roy (King)
- Cavalier (Knight) .

Fig. 1
The Minor Arcana

On the previous image we preesent the 56 cards in order. If we analyze this

structure in detail from a numerological point of view, we find a whole made up
of 14x4, that is, 56 elements.This subdivsion is easy, because the Tarot itself
suggests it. In fact, our choice is not arbitrary but dictated by the nature of the
global composition of the cards, composed in a simple and evident manner by 4
series of 14 elements each. Another important detail, is that the number 4
appears various times: 4 suits, 4 Courts, and 14 cards per suit (10+4 units).
This number in traditional symbolism is tied to the square, which has in fact 4
sides, and is associated with the Earth, as opposed to the Heavens, the spiritual
world, represented by the circle. Thus, such an abundant presence of the number
4 would seem to suggest a tie between the Minor Arcana and the terrestrial
world. Why? We must ascertain the correctness of this hypothesis and its
meaning. In fact, from the first steps in the study of the Tarot, in order to not risk
personal and subjective interpretations, it is necessary to entrust ourselves
contantly to proveable and objective elements.
Firstly, it is worthwhile to know that in order to understand the symbolism it is
not necessary to know complex problems or have particularly qualified and
specialized notions, quite the contrary. In the case cited here, for example, we
could certainly say that the philosopher Plato considered the square and the
circle absolutely beautiful in themselves. According to this vision, the first
would refer to the materialization of ideas, thus expressing phenomena and
tangible reality; the second, vice versa, would represent the spirit, the world of
superior ideations, of the Archetypes, All this, while potentially shareable, does
not help us to understand why these two geometric figures were chosen to
represent Heaven and Earth. In fact, in order to understand the symbolism made
of images, codified by the Ancients, it would be well to appeal, first of all, to
Every truly traditional symbol contains, apart from the generally known
exterior meaning, a superimposed esoterical aspect, accessible only to those who
have arrived at a certain degreee of knowledge. Their great keys of access are
naturalness, clarity and semplicity, which oppose complexity. We do not intend
to say that this is all easy, but only to mainain that the roots of symbolic
knowledge must be grounded in the terrain of evidence in order to then bring
nourishment to the highest, most fragile fronds of a vaster comprehension.
In the case of the square and the circle, therefore, it is enough to reflect upon
their form. We have said that the first is composed of 4 sides, which represent
the 4 elements of the material world: earth, water, fire and air, in which we live
and by which we are surrounded and which, as we are about to see, are in close
rapport with the symbols of the Minor Arcana; it is a stable, solid and “rooted”
figure, and for this reason leads to the terrestrial. The second leads instead to the
Heavens, to that celestial vault which appears to us, as it did to our ancestors
thoousands of years ago, as they lay in the fields, observing the stars. These are
the reasons why, for example, a church, which is a place of conciliatioon
between matter and spirit, is built in a square and surmounted by a cupola, a
circular element.


The Minor Arcana, which, as already noted, in their basic organization possess
a preponderance of the number 4, seem to have a close rapport with the
terrestrial world, itself formed of 4 principles. We aim to verify if there does
exist a connection between the 4 elements of nature and the suits of the cards.
The notion of the 4 elements has been used since antiquity, for example by the
presocratic philosophers (Thales, Anaximenes, Anaximander, Pythagoras,
Parmenides, Diogenes, etc, to name only the most famous) or in a later age,
Aristotle himself. Even the Alchimists of the middle ages formulated the
hypotheses according to which the elements earth, water, fire and air were the
basic principles of our world.
Actually, it was not an exclusively Western teaching but had a more general
valence, being known also to oriental traditions, such as the Hinduist or the
Buddhist, to mention the better known. Briefly, this doctrine avers an esoteric
decomposition of the world into these four factors, which would be the bricks of
the foundation of our physical universe. Instead of accepting this version simply
because we are told that it is true, let us see if this is all confermed by the Tarot.
First of all, we repeat, the Minor Arcana are divided into four series as are the
four elements. As there is a first clear relation with the terrestrial, material and
physical world, let us verify the possibility of greater consistency of this analogy.
We know that the Minors are divided into Pentacles, Cups, Wands and Swords.
What does this signify at a symbolical level? Observe the clarity and the logic of
the following Codes, of these puzzles which permit our first step into the Coded
Structure with which we will concern ourselves in the next chapter.

What do we use Cups for, in our daily lives? If we think of the modern
equivalent, the answer is immediately evident. As glasses are used for drinking,
Cups contain liquid: water, the quintessential liquid. As we look at the first card
of the series, the Ace of Cups (as is correct when studying the Tarot), something
emerges which facilitates the evaluation. Let us observe for a few moments the
following illustration: the water gushing from under the great chalice is a
delicate wink of the Tarot to confirm our suppositions. Always remember, these
images are to be examined, first of all, with our eyes!

Fig. 2
Ace of Cups
As they are coins (and in fact are sometimes called Coins), made of gold. we
may determine an evident connection with the earth, gold being a mineral
present in the soil. If we desire a confirmation in this case also, suffice it to
observe the Ace of Pentacles which, as the preceding Ace of Cups, shows
another clue: from the great golden disk roots and flowers grow, creating an
obvious connection with...the earth! All this is coherent and clear; and all
considered, we could say that the first two symbols have been decodified and
understood with great ease.

Fig. 3
Ace of Pentacles

Regarding the Wands, instead, we must search with more attention. For the
Ancients, what was a possible and practical use for wood? This element burns,
producing fire. In this case as well, if we observe the following card, the Ace of
Wands, we will discover how the Tarot, by the presence of sparks around the the
large central wand, fully confirms our supposition.

Fig. 4
Ace of Wands

Finally, for the Swords, the recognition is more difficult. Regarding this we
should keep in mind that in the Tarot, when there is a group of four factors, the
first two are easy to find, the third a bit less, and the fourth quite difficult. This is
a diffculty scale to be found frequently and which corresponds to a precise rule,
which we will examine in another context, called The Law of Quadruplicity or the
Law of 3+1 . In the case of this last symbol, reflecting upon its use, we discover
that in order to be correctly used, it must cleave...the air! Here then, the last
relationship is evident. In any case, as in the aforementioned difficulty scale
based on the Law of 3+1 , the Ace of Swords as well, which we might have
expected to offer confirmation as did the first 3, sets itself apart from the others,
becoming the exception. Thus, this is the sense of the rule: 3 elements are the
same and one, in the area of the same dynamic, is different. In this Ace, then,
instead of finding a clear symbol of the air, we find again, although with
differnces it is too early to speak of, fire - as for the preceding Ace of Wands.

Fig. 5
Ace of Swords

With this brief analysis we have discovered, in the Tarot as well, the four
elements water, fire, earth, air, perfectly represented by the four series. We
reassume all in the following table:


In order to comprehend the richness of the symbolism of these Icons, and its
absolute universality, let us compare the Hindu castes and the four series of the
Minor Arcana, seeking some connection between the two. This interesting
parallelism, in fact, may open the door to a vaster understanding, not only of the
specific argument we are examining, but also of the history of the Tarot in
general. In the structure of the Minor Arcana, the “figure” cards are
characterized by being four, each representing a different personage. What
connection may these have with the Castes? The Priests, Bramanas , may be
associated with Cups containing liquids, as the chalice is, by definition, one of
the more important symbolic elements of rituals. Speaking of which, this is
confirmed not only in Christian rites but in Janism 42 as well, in which it was used
in votive ceremonies. Water itself-associated with Cups-is a purifying element in
all traditions.

Fig. 6
The Suit of Cups

Warriors, the Kshatriyas , who fight using arms, as may be easily understood,
are connected to Swords.

Fig. 7
The Suit of Swords

And for Merchants, the Vaishyas , who carry out their jobs using money, the
rapport with Pentacles (Gold) is just as obvious.

Fig. 8
The Suit of Pentacles

For workers, the Shudras , fully respecting the principle of the Tarot according
to which the last element of a sequence of four is the most difficult to
understand, the juxtaposition is articulate. As those who work handle tools and
use energy, they are associated with Wands, an explicit symbol which recalls the
concept of work and of fire, as expressly indicated, not only by the sequence
itself, in which figure personages such as the Page and the Knight, represented,
as were the ancient builders, in the act of measuring, but also by the first card,
the Ace, in which is depicted a large staff of wood, clutched in a fist, surrounded
by sparks, that is- energy (fig. 4).

Fig. 9
The Suit of Wands

As we know that the four suits of the Minors, as well as the organization of
castes, reflect the symbolism of the element of nature, we arrive at the following

Air → Swords → Warriors

Earth → Pentacles → Merchants
Water → Cups → Priests
Fire → Wands → Workers

Demonstrating the perfect parallelism between the 4 suits, the 4 elements and
the 4 castes, we have determined the following:

1) The symbolism of the Tarot is universal and brings confirmation and

information, also regarding other Traditions.
2) There exists a rapport between something ancient and of very distant
geographical extraction with respect to Western doctrines (in this case,
Hinduism), which confers a widening of horizons and may stimulate new
historical reflections regarding the Ancients.
In soon-to-be published works we will investigate these themes more deeply
but for the moment, hoping to have satisfied part of your curiosity, we will now
proceed to the analyisis of the general structure of the Major Arcana, which form
the other great group of the Tarot.


Putting aside the 56 Minor Arcana, we are left with 22 cards. These, called the
Major Arcana, are 21 cards numbered in Roman numerals from I to XXI, except
one, the Fool, which has no number. Why? As we saw for the Minor Arcana, the
distrubution of the Major also follows a criterium founded on logic. Let us begin
with a first consideration: although they are 22 units. that does not mean that this
number is fundamental. It may seem an unimportant point, but to underestimate
it would be a serious mistake. In fact, the idea that this number might be of
particular importance generated the conviction, on the part of esoterists of past
centuries, that it was necessary to associate the cards to the Cabala and to the 22
letters of the Hebrew alphabet: this was one of the most glaring errors of the
past. The Tarot, actually, has no need to be explained through the Cabala nor by
any other sacred text; because, being itself a silent book composed of images, it
is perfectly independent, containing, in the thousands of pages to decodify, every
indispensale explanation.
What then must be our reasoning? If the total of the numbered Major Arcana is
not 22 but 21, there must be a reason. We wish to stress that this mode of
thinking, with respect to the Tarot, is quite new. In fact, since the Fool has no
number, in many decks it has been initialed with the symbol “0”. These authors,
unaware of the Coded Structure , believing the personage to indicate the totality
and circularity of being, numbered it thinking to correct an imprecision present
in the cards, without realizing that its absence is quite meaningful. In fact, why
not judge it to be a precise and voluntary indication intentionally inserted by the
ancient creators of the Tarot? If it has no number, it means that it is not part of
the group of cards numbered 1 to 21 and therefore stands alone. Inferring simply
in this manner, we find ourselves, as in mathematics, with two well-defined
groups of Arcana:

1st group: The Fool

2nd group: the cards from 1 to 21

Fig. 10
Group without number: the Fool

Fig. 11
Group of numbered cards
Let us now reflect on the 21 cards in order to understand the function of the
Fool. How to proceed? Having imagined a logic, let us endeavor to apply it.
With respect to the entire structure of the Tarot, we have seen that the
composition of the Minor Arcana awakens no perplexity. In fact, as in the best
puzzles, where a part of the solution is already given to provide a basis of
reference, let us use what we already know. We know that their total is divisable
by two numbers, 4 and 14:

14 x 4 = 56 Minor Arcana

And if it were possible to do the same with the Major Arcana? That is, if this
group also might be divisible by two numbers? Using 21 and not 22 (!), we find
that the only possible combination is offered by 3 and 7:

3x7 = 21 Major Arcana

Proceeding in this way we arrive at the disposition of the cards according to a

very precise scheme, a Diagram, 44 which allows the revelation of the presence of
the Coded Structure of the Major Arcana. This order follows:

Fig. 12
The 3x7 Diagram

We will fully study this Diagram, called the Triple Septenary, in the next
chapter. However, from what has been said already, it appears evident that the
general peculiarity of the MajorArcana (which indeed follows this distribution)
is the connection to the numbers 3 and 7, two sacred numbers in close relation
with each other and with the spiritual world. This is not an unimportant aspect
because, in this way we discover that if the Minor Arcana possess a close tie
with the terrestrial world, the Major have a precise connection with the celestial,
already evident from an overview, by the “supernatural” characteristics of the

Minor Arcana → Terrestrial World.

Major Arcana → Celestial World.

What is possible to learn from comparing these two groups of cards? Why do
they propose this connection between Earth and Heaven? Before we can answer,
we must introduce another essential theme: Dualism.

Dualism, apart from its numerous variants, whose analysis would exceed the
purpose of this book, is a philosophy according to which everything in the
universe is composed of two principles in sharp contrast. These essences, one
celestial and one terrestrial, together create Unity, manifesting in this way their
reciprocal interdependence. Although Pythagoras spoke of them in the VI
century BC, and although this doctrine was the requisite condition for multiple
forms of Gnosticism, of which it is one of the fundamental theoretical pillars, it
is something even more remote. Palaeolithic art, for example, reflected it in
forms of surprising complexity, through figures of animals with masculine or
feminine characteristics or with the contemporaneous, superimposed association
of several species, as horse and bison, in which one subject was the expression
of the masculine and one of the feminine. Such a remote genesis is ascribable to
the fact that Dualism is not a simple philosophical or religious concept but
belongs to our world; it is inborn to it because it describes and represents it.
Concerning this, it is enough to reflect upon certain dualistic manifestations that
accompany us in our daily lives, such as day and night, man and woman, hot and
cold, life and death, and so on. But what is its importance within our own
context? What does it offer us? Let us begin with an hypothesis:

dualism is at the basis of the teaching of the Tarot .

The Swiss psychiatrist Karl Gustav Jung, one of the founding fathers of
modern psychology, taught that in every person there are opposite essences, the
“inferior” ego and the “superior” Self. It is not necessary to examine the
countless nuances of this concept but it is in any case indispensable that we
comprehend that, according to this hypothesis, man is composed of two
principles: Personality and Soul .
The first, the ego, is terrestrial, weak, timid and fearful and leads us towards a
life based on fear and suffering... The Soul, the superior and heavenly Self, on
the contrary, is the altruistic element characterized by the quality of self-
awareness, founded upon joy and hope. Our ordinary consciousness moves
inside the personality but knowing better the particular traits of both, we may
discover when it is, that the Soul has more influence, as one who walks along a
path of interior evolution.
The dualistic vision is not the exclusive prerogative of certain psychological
currents of thought, but concerns, although in different forms and modalities of
presentation, even the diverse interpretations of the authentic initiatic Traditions.
Very briefly, these teach that human beings should tend to realize an
improvement in their capacities of control of emotions, sensations and thoughts,
in order to render the personality (which is governed by these principles) more
docile and open to a meeting with the Soul. For example, control of the mind,
our principal tool of investigation, usually distinguished by logical and rational
thought, allows us entry to the world of Intuition, which is the most direct means
of communication with the Soul, and is the modality by which human beings
may receive thoughts of a superior level. Although this last faculty cannot be
classified as a regular and predictable manifestation, it is scientifically
recognized as a true and efficacious capacity. In fact, as women know better than
men do, it is a precise form of awareness that may be learned and trained
through a gradual work of improvement and perfection of oneself. Therefore, the
Jungian hypothesis is a modern adaptation of the thousand-year-old teachings of
Sacred Scriptures, Western and Eastern. Thus, the possible discovery of a
dualistic framework in the Coded Structure , would be revealed as not only
essential for understanding the Tarot, but also perfectly coherent with the ancient
traditional wisdom. Having stated beforehand that in the Arcana Dualism is
ubiquitous, let us endeavour to understand how it is expressed in the design of
the cards, beginning with some particular examples.


In the Tarot Dualism, however expressed by heterogeneous modalities, is
codified through the contrast between two elements present on the same card or
on two different cards Therefore, in whatever opposition (Male/Female,
Dressed/Nude, Gaze tuned to right/Gaze turned to left and so on, on a long list),
there is always a subterranean dualistic sense. Various images follow for

Fig. 13
Standing - Seated

Fig. 14
In movement - Still

Fig. 15
Male - Female

Fig. 16
Human - Angel

Fig. 17
Dressed - Nude

Fig. 18
Man - Animal

All these criteria, independently from their specific differences, clearly bearers
of more and distinctive meanings, always suggest the same idea of Antithesis .
This because ultimately, the principal objective of this teaching is to emphasize
the rapport of contraposition and mutual relationship between the Earth (the
terrestrial and material) and the Heavens (the celestial and spiritual). In man, this
antithesis is expressed by the two parts, inferior and superior, incarnated by the
two principles called personality and Soul. Therefore, the relevant form of
Dualism elaborated in the Tarot, to which every other duality leads back, is
As example, let us analyze what individuation in the cards of Male-Female
antagonism, entails.

In the 3x7 Diagram, just at the beginning, a relevant fact regarding the principle
of the entire deck, there is a couple twice over, as suggested by the name itself of
the cards, namely, the Empress and the Emperor on one side and the Hierophant
and the High Priestess on the other:

Emperor-Empress and High Priestess-Hierophant

Fig. 19

Fig. 20
High Priestess - Hierophant

In the couple, we find not only Male-Female Dualism but also Terrestrial-
Celestial Dualism as, symbolically, the feminine leads to the concept of Mother-
Earth and the male, to that of the Heavenly Father. The dualistic concept,
however, is expressed also in other forms.
The first couple governs the temporal and material world; while the second
rules over the spiritual and divine. We are still facing a terrestrial-celestial
Dualism, which confirms our supposition:

Empress + Emperor → Terrestrial World

High Priestess + Hierophant → Celestial World.

If we look more closely, we discover another interesting detail: the sceptres of

the Emperor and the Empress symbolize the Earth 44 symbolically represented by
a circle and a cross, while in the Hierophant (on his pastoral staff) and the High
Priestess (on her breast); instead, there are Three Crosses. These symbolize the
Heavens, by the circle of the Zodiac which, having 12 astrological signs
disposed in a circle, may be divided precisely by three crosses. 45

Fig. 21
The two Sceptres

Fig. 22
The 3 Crosses

Fig. 23
The Zodiac and the 3 Crosses

Comprehending Dualism, means causing fragments of an exact teaching to

appear. Specifically, the individuation of a terrestrial couple might suggest that
its members are more connected to the personality; the presence of the celestial
couple, on the contrary, might indicate a connection with the idea of the Soul. In
order to further confirm this reasoning, let us observe the order of the four
figures along the first row of the 3x7 Diagram.

Fig. 24
Lower row- Terrestrial of the 3x7 Diagram

We note that in the terrestrial couple, the two subjects are in sequence and look
at one another. We may deduce that, in order to stay together, they must interest
themselves each in the other, forming a couple that, close-knit, is perhaps
somewhat internalized in itself. This is their natural condition, because the
disposition of the cards is in an ascending and progressive order (III and IV). In
the case of the Hierophant-High Priestess, on the other hand, the two figures
have their backs turned naturally to each other, they take no interest one in the
other. Not because they do not love each other, but because their being together
is an existing condition even while they care for others or for other things,
outside their union.
These evaluations are indubitable as in both cases, thanks to the names on the
scrolls, we may be sure that we find ourselvces before a “perfect” couple,
constituted of personages with a great mutual affinity. Therefore, thanks to these
simple verifications we may deduce that one couple is more “egotistic”, one
more “altruistic”. Thus, because these, as we have already said, are two
fundamental parameters necessary in order to discover if human beings are
dominated by the personality or by the Soul, we may again confirm that the first
two personages are more terrestrial and the other two, more celestial. All this
goes to demonstrate how incessant and continuous is the proof, every particular
a bearer of coherent and meaningful clues. Let us continue to observe.
In the couple of the Empress and the Emperor we see an eagle. This is a
symbool of the animal principle of the human being, which might indicate a
stronger tie with the primordial instincts. In the case of the Hierophant and the
High Priestess, on the contrary, there is no animal, which in this case also, might
be proof of their higher evolution. In order to identify other details, with the
objective of revealing new enigmas (Codes), it would be well to remember an
aspect of maximum relevance. Every time that, seeking to uncover the dualistic
sense present in the illustrations, we make a comparison between two similar
elements, be they two symbols, two concepts, or other, we must consider that,
between them there always exists a difference. There is never and there may
never be, by the way in which the Tarot codify, complete equality. This
criterium, which is called the Law of Difference , is applicable not only in this
specific context but has general repercuassions of great importance.


This rule dictates the necessity to pinpoint which differences (graphical,
symbolical, and of sense) exist between two similar elements. Thus, observing
the cards again, let us focalise our attention on the last detail analyzed. The two
eagles, however similar, are characterized by innumerable diversities which, as
for all the other symbols, past researchers have always neglected: there being
many Tarot decks, one so graphically different from another, attention was paid
to the esoteric sense, to the detriment of the particulars of the illustration
themselves! In the object in case, observation leads to the discovery of
remarkable differences. First, one eagle looks to the right and one to the left. One
is female (because she has an egg); one, having none, is male. One, on the left
part of the card, points its wings toward the sky and is in the air, touched by a
hand. The other, on the right, has its wings pointed downwards, is on the ground,
and is touched by a foot:

Fig. 25
The two Eagles

Head toward the right - Head toward the left

With egg - Without egg
Wings toward the sky - Wings toward the ground
On the ground - In the air
Right side of the card - Left side of the card
Hand - Foot.

Each of these disparities, as all of which might appear from even deeper
analysis, bears a precise meaning. For example, the different orientation of the
wings, as does the position relative to the ground, suggest a terrestrial-celestial
opposition. In addition, the head turned to the left indicates the past; to the right,
the future 46 (again an antithesis). In any case, what we wish to emphasize here is,
as one of the two birds of prey is female; while the other is male, we find the
idea of a couple of eagles, precisely as is the case with the two royal protagonists
who moreover, are connected with the animal principle of an opposite sex
complementary to each other’s.

Male Eagle-Empress and Female Eagle-Emperor

Thus, for the III-IIII couple we have confirmation of the connection with the
personality, here represented by the terrestrial instincts described by the animal
part, the eagle. On another level of interpretation, to have determined the
presence of a couple of eagles allows us to find the terrestrial-celestial Dualism
in yet another form. Inside the couple, the eagle symbolizes the terrestrial part
and the human being (more evolved than the animal, therefore of a superior
degree), the celestial: again, the personality-Soul duality! All depends on the
plan of analysis, although coherence with respect to global teaching is at the base
of all evidence.
As the two eagles appear similar only at a first, superfical observation, thus in
sacred art, of which the Tarot is the maximum expression, there exists an
analogous mode known as the Principle of Imperfection , which predicts the
presence of voluntary assymertry in the artworks. This Rule, not easy to decipher
but always present, is not associated only with the Dualism of the Arcana but has
explicit correlation with other esoterical sciences.
When the two symbols or the two concepts have something in common, there
exists a difference which obeys the dualistic principle. It is enough to simply
seek out any real contrast between the two cards or two elements analyzed.
These differences not only render all of the teachings richer and more elaborate,
but as we will explain, are also used in the practical reading of the Tarot.


Once we have assimilated what Dualism is and how it manifests, let us seek to
understand in what manner this concept reflects on the general structure of the
Tarot, with a brief exercise.

As an overview, consider the Minor Arcana (fig. 1). We should now emphasize
that the four suits, apart from their symbolic value, are represented by objects.
The figures, that is, the pages, queens, kings and knights, are human personages.
In both cases, therefore, as we have already demonstrated, we are facing
something that belongs to the world of earth, something terrestrial.

Minor Arcana → objects and men → terrestrial, human world

Now let us observe again the Major Arcana on the 3x7 Diagram (fig 12). In this
case we find ourselves before humans, but also figures mythological (the
sphinx), celestial (angels, the devil), and heavenly bodies (the Moon, the Sun,
the Star) etc, a universe in its entirety, magical, mysterious and spiritual.

Major Arcana → magical world → celestial and spiritual world

Here we are again facing Dualism! The contrast is great; there has been a
forceful attempt to oppose two levels, that of the earth and the personality, the
Minor Arcana, to that of the heavens and the Soul, the Major Arcana. We may
certainly affirm that Dualism is fundamental to the structure of the Tarot itself,
constituted, as is a living being, by two basic principles:

The Minor Arcana : the earthly world → personality of the Tarot

The Major Arcana: the heavenly world → Soul of the Tarot.

Thanks to all this we may say that the progressive comprehension of the
Arcana and of the inherent teaching codified in it, allow the discovery that,
surprisingly, the Tarot has the function to help us establish a contact and an
accord between our inferior part, the personality, and the superior, the Soul, an
objective hoped for by every authentic form of Tradition.


Fig. 26
The Sun

The Path of the Tarot, in technical terms, we might call a form of yoga. 47 This
path, in fact, offers the possibility of a connection, a bridge, between these two
innate principles in every human being, harmonizing them so that they
collaborate for the same ends. If we observe the XVIIII Tarot card (fig 26), the
concept may be somewhat clearer. We see two personages, one of whom awaits
and welcomes the other, who, slightly disoriented, reaches him walking on the
waters. This is the symbolism of the Soul (the figure on the right) who welcomes
the personality (on the left), that is, of these two principles who find equilibrium
between each other, becoming friends and brothers.
Actually, this concept is perfectly expressed in Astrology as well when, if
treated seriously, is a Science which deals with the esoteric study of the
individual and his relations with the cosmos. In fact, the sign of Gemini leads
back exactly to the same notion. The principle stars of the constellation,
represented by the young twin boys of Greek mythology Castor and Pollux,
indicate the two dualistical elements. It is not, then, a coincidence that when one
sets, the other rises, as witness to the idea that if the personality becomes more
docile and tollerant, the Sun rises to its luminous task of guidance.
With the Tarot, it is possible that this particular condition manifests itself,
although in a different manner, for those who decide to follow this initiatic Path
in the first person, or for those whio turn to the Arcana with the intention of
asking and receiving practical advice. In the first case, the work will consist in
the construction, over time, under the impulse of interior knowledge gained by
the study of these images, of a true contact with ones’ own superior Self. In the
second case, it is a matter of helping the person who requests a consultation, to
listen to the voice of the deepest part of himself, so as to allow a more
knowledable orientation in every decision.

Fig. 27
The Sign of Gemini

During a consultation, in fact, the tarologist 48 , knowing the true essence of

these cards, 49 in dialogue with the personality of the consultant, allows it to draw
nearer to the Soul which, in presence of the Tarot, appears. In this case, the
principle objective in consulting the Tarot consists in an agreement between the
two parts, often in contrast between themselves, so as to offer concrete aid for
individual evolution.
We know well how much suffering and pain a life far from those inclinations
and talents each of us guards or hides inside oneself can bring. We need only
think of the boredom and discomfort, if not suffering, of a job done “only to get
to the end of the month”, after having given up the activity which one dreamed
of since childhood. When the Soul has ambitions different from those of the
personality, our projects, if purely material and terrestrial, find difficulties and
obstacles, as a result of which we do not finish them as we intended to do,
because the Soul always brings us back, even if gradually and over time, to our
own path, that is, towards ourselves. One of the essential qualities for being able
to welcome its true presence, is to learn to recognize the profound altruism
which it constantly evokes, comparing it to that egotism and that thirst for
pleasure so desired by our personality.
After long experience as a tarologist and teacher of Tarot, I may say with
absolute certainty that almost all difficulties met by persons who turn to this
instrument in order to receive support and knowledge, derive from a lack of
harmony and understanding between the intentions of Soul and personality.
When this last prevails, it becomes a tyranny over us, possessive and greedy, and
leads us towards the realization of individualistic projects without generosity,
that always leave us empty and unsatisfied. If it is the Soul to guide, however, as
the human being gradually establishes a greater communione with it, it moves in
the direction of an interior realization which reflects in all it does, every day.
Terrestrial and spiritual intentions converge; this does not only make us happy,
but also radiates a sense of well-being towards those to whom we give our
attention, making possible the construction, right here on earth, of that kingdom
of serenity which belongs not only to the heavens.
This brief exposition on Dualism, which does not claim to be thorough, is only
an outline. Given the immense vastness of the material, and needing to deal with
various subjects, we may not linger more. Our intent was, however, a double
one: on the one hand, to represent several ways in which the Tarot codifies
Dualism, through description of particular cases, or through evidence that the
general structure itself is based precisely upon this concept; on the other, through
practical exercises, to allow the reader to gain confidence with the fact that the
Tarot bases the revelation of its teaching on the capacity of observation , without
the development and training of which, it is not possible to understand its sense.

Before venturing into a more detailed study of the Coded Structure , we should
perhaps overview some general considerations regarding the meaning of the
Tarot. What is commonly believed about it? We may divide the tendencies of
opinion into two large groups:

- the diffident
- the trusting.

We might imagine that to the first category belong only those who, believing
the terrestrial world the only possible reality, laugh at the naivetè or the
gullability of those who, on the contrary, believe in a spiritual dimension of
existence. This tendency, which already accompanies, as obstacle, many
disciplines, from religion itself to the most evolved esoterical practices, with
regard to our subject, complicates the scenario even more. With this group, in
fact, whom we have called the diffident, are aligned also those who, although
confident of a more ample sense of life, still consider the Tarot, at best, a simple
instrument of divination, unworthy of a qualification. In this case, the diffident
believe that the Arcana are useful for nothing more than fortune-telling. As
witnessed by the great blossoming of so many holistic initiatives and roads to
knowledge all over the world (also in the West), humanity, tired of a materialism
taken to the extreme, seeks its own well-being in a new, more natural and
personal dimension. And yet, few are they who have seen in these Icons, a
means to reach this condition. Most, also influenced by the lack of knowledge of
recent centuries, relegate them to a witchly, and often satanic, sphere.
In the second category, that of the trusting, we find those who admit or are
convinced that the Tarot may have a profound content. Not only those, even of
great commitment, who have dedicated themselves seriously and passionately to
study, but also those who turn to the Tarot with hope of an authentic and fruitful
contribution with respect to their own needs and necessities. Nevertheless, in this
second case as well, there are diverse barriers to overcome before one is able to
comprehend the true significance of these Icons. The first step to take in this
direction, is to rid the field of a grave preconception:
the principal purpose of theTarot is not divination!

If it is true that this exists, it is only one of the multiple forms of expression of
this complex Metaphysical Machine and certainly not the most notable In order
to avoid misunderstanding, we must clarify the concept.

The art of predicting the future, when practiced with cards, is termed
cartomancy, a word etymologically composed of the Greek carta and manteia ,
which means, in fact, divination. Modern historiography, as we have said, puts
the first appearance of the cards in Europe in the XIV century. Fernando della
Torre, in a letter of 1450, addressed to the Spanish court, describes the manner in
which players, using a variant elaborated by him, “ could interrogate the future in
order to know by whom they are more loved and whom they desired more and to
know many other things . 50 ”
However, we find more specific testimony only in the 500’s : Pico della
Mirandola includes “ figured images in a game of cards 51 ” as one of several
forms of witchcraft; and the Mainzer Kartenlosbuch (The Mainz Fortune Telling
Book), considered the first book on cartomancy, is printed in Magonza in 1505.
All of these cases refer to playing cards, as the use of the Tarot, or Triumphs, 52 is
seen only in 1527 with the text The Chaos of the Triperuno of Teofilo Folengo
(also known as Merlin Cocai). Other, similar, volumes in the principal European
languages are printed only between the late XV and all of the XVI centuries.
Therefore, we may say that scholars attribute the practice of the first forms of
prediction, first to playing cards and only later, to the Tarot. We would like to
clarify that our position is totally divergent. As we have had occasion to repeat,
it is not the Tarot that derives from playing cards, but the opposite. With the
progressive degeneration of its symbolism, there was a concomitant increase in
the divinatory practice as it is known today which is itself, as a matter of fact, a
degenerate and secondary form of prediction with respect to prophecy (which is,
according to sacred texts, of great value and is practiced through divine
However that may be, the greatest number of documents on this theme, are
traceable from the XVIII century forward, and the father of cartomancy is
universally considered Jean-Baptiste Alliette (1738-1791). From this period on,
in fact, there was only a gradual drift towards the divinatory use of the Tarot,
which will become ever more popular, vast and in some ways corrupt, and which
will reach its height in the 1900’s thanks to the ever more abundante publication
of books and manuals. Precisely because this use of the cards and its explosive
spread, led to completely deviated forms of expression, we consider it
superfluous to remember the total degardation of the current reputation of the
Tarot. It is thus quite normal for those who today seek a Path of interior and
spiritual development, to harbor diffidence and perplexity towards this means.
For this reason we have chosen to bring light to the subject, with the hope of
inspiring a radical change of perception that may restore to the Tarot its lost
integrity. However, if the practice of cartomancy is not prioritary, what is the
purpose of the Arcana? We present several hypotheses which will be the object
of later analyses.

It is a Road in stages, 21 to be precise, through which the traveler, the card
without number, the Fool, heads towards the World, the last Arcanum, with his
gaze turned to the sky, seeking to gain complete realization. The Tarot is a Path
upon which the consciousness is encouraged to increase, it is a Way of
pregressive evolution.

Fig. 28
The Path of Awareness

Let us observe, as if it were a game, the Roman numerals of certain Arcana:

they are not written in a regular manner, according to the correct principles. The
4, in Roman numerals, should be written IV and instead is written IIII; the 9
should be IX and instead is VIIII, etc. Why?

Fig. 29
The two progressive numbers

The reply is simple: in this way, avoiding the subtraction (I from V or I from
X), we add... (III+I or VIII+I)! The Tarot is a Way of continuous additon, of
expansion of the consciouness. This deals with only a small, very simple Code,
indicative however of the fact that, to study the Tarot means to seek contact with
the deepest part of oneself, with one’s own Soul.

“ The Tarot is a book written in symbols . 53 ” This book, made up of thousands of
pages, contains precise, authentic wisdom regarding man, his essence, and the
laws that govern him. If we marvel at the fact that texts such as the Bible or the
Veda are revealed books, then we must marvel in equal measure that the Tarot is
a depositary of exceptional wisdom.
We should stipulate that this parallelism has nothing of the irreverent because
in both cases they are Sacred Works, the sole differnce being that the Tarot
communicates this Wisdom through images. There exists an ancient work, the
Mutus Liber which, as the name itself, Mute Book, says, is a compendium of 15
tables perfectly representing, according to Alchemy, the process of transmutation
and interior transformation.
In one of the illustrations, the penultimate, we find this expression: “ Ora, Lege,
Lege, Lege, Rilege, Labora et inveniens . 54 ”
Thus, to those who apply to the Tarot the same principal, to those who knock at
its door with Love, Will and Intelligence, will be revealed its deepest mistery.

Fig. 30
Mutus Liber

The Tarot, thanks to the group of symbols of which it is constituted, creates a
language. This is not, as we might suppose, an allegory, but a true fact. As we
will see, there exist a Grammar and a Lexicon, 55 elements which, combined
amomg themselves, allow the learning of a new language. This seems an event
so stupefying as to be difficult to believe, at least until we see it in practice.
When we ask a question, there exists a level totally unknown beyond other
planes of interpretation, such as the well-known archetypical 56 : the Tarot, as a
superior Intelligence , through “words” and “rules” composes exact propositions
which answer precisely the question asked by the consultant! One who, in this
phase, may desire to have an idea of the type of mechanism, might try to
imagine the I Ching . 57 The difference is in the type of answer which, with the
Tarot, is not formulated in a metaphorical manner but created with sentences
which perfectly answer the question. These assertions, apart from their objective
clarity, are charaterized by a truely disconcerting rigor and intelligence and
become a concrete and precious aid for whomever receives them. We see here,
then, one of the principal functions of the Arcana, who place themselves,
together with the tarologist (translator of their message), at the Service of
In conclusion. we would like to share some personal considerations. The
significance of the Tarot and its possible applications, go far beyond our current
affirmations. However, in order to maintain a scientific attitude, proveable and
disciplined, we must first of all verify the hypothses accepted up till now which,
after the the indispensable demonstrations, will be recovered and amplified in
the last chapters. This choice is tied also to the will to respect the needs of those
who access this subject for the first time according to the present system. In fact,
we wish to set up our work with the intent of avoiding easy skepticism or
incredulity, or on the contrary, an excess of enthuisiasm. Our hope is that the
reader, through a fluidity of comprehension, gradual but progressive, may reap
the benefits that the first approach to the Coded Structure of the Tarot may offer .
Footnotes - Chapter 3

37 With regard to this, suffice it to think of the many decks, Italian as well, characterized by different
numbers of cards, such as the Minchiate (97), and the Bolognese Tarocchino (62).
38 There also exist diametrically opposed theories according to which the Major Arcana are the precursors
to the Minor. Even in this case, however, the two groups would not have the same origin .
39 Further information relative to this sort of degeneration of the Tarot, and to the restoration required, may
be found in the Appendix.
40 Eugenio Polito, Fulgentibus Armis , p 55, L’Erma di Bretschneider Edition, 1998 .
41 We must remember that the deck of Paul Marteau as well, always sold under the name Ancient Marseilles
Tarot , has its origin, at least partially, in Conver’s deck .
42 Jainism is an ancient religion which does not adhere to well-defined divinities but is based on the
teachings of Mahavira (559-527 BC), an ascetic of noble extraction, who taught that the way to human
perfection is through non-violence and harmlessness .
43 Although others have claimed the paternity of the division of the Arcana according to the 3x7 Diagram,
we invite the reader to consult the text of Joseph Maxwell of 1933, Le Tarot, le symbole, les arcanes, la
divination ( The Tarot, the symbol, the Arcana, divination ) in order to find such a distribution already in that
epoch .
44 In esoterism, Earth is called “the World of the Cross.”
45 These three crosses are called the Fixed, the Cardinal, and the Mobile Cross.
46 In Chapter 7, we will describe the manner in which the Tarot codifies time.
47 The Sanskrit word yoga means, literally, union .
48 The Tarologist, a new professional figure, different than the cartomancer, studies and reads the Tarot,
knowing its true nature. We will explain in depth the difference between cartomancy and tarology in
Chapter 8.
49 The true tarologist is he who knows the vast Coded Structure within the Tarot, indispensable for its
correct use .
50 “Puédense echar suertes en ellos à quién más ama cada uno, e à quién quiere más et por otras muchas et
diversas maneras. ” Fernando de la Torre (1416 ca-1475), Juego de naypes en “ Cancionero de Stúñiga ”,
code XVe siècle, p. 273-293.
51 Jean François Pic de la Mirandole (1469-1533), De Rerum praenotione , Strasbourg 1507, Bk VI chap. VI;
Basel, 1601, page 408: “ Sortium multa sunt genera ut in talorum iactu in tesseribus proijciendis/ in figuris
Chartaceo ludo pictis / & quaecunque prior advenerit expectandis in eruendis longioribus paleis/ in
oculorum iactu super paginis. ”
52 Historians distinguish the two terms, considering the first, prototypes of the second. In this regard our
position is definitely different .
53 The first to formulate this definition was Joseph Maxwell, in the already mentioned text Le Tarot, le
symbole, les arcanes, la divination, (The Tarot, the symbol, Arcana, divination) .
54 The translation is: “ Pray, read, read, read, reread, work and you shall find .”
55 Cf. Chapter 6.
56 Ibid .
57 The I Ching , or Book of Changes , considered the first of the Chinese classics, is divided into two portions,
jing or “classic” and zhuan or “commentary”, composed in different moments but handed down as a single
book for circa 2000 years. The jing portion is made up of 64 units, each based on a hexagram of six lines,
continuous (---) representing the yang principle, or interrupted (- -) representing the yin principle. For every
hexagram there is an explanation accompanied by the interpretation of the single lines constituting the
trigram. As Confucius himself affirmed, it is a Book of Wisdom .

“Infinitely great will be your happiness: from a simple mortal, you are destined,
to become God.”
(Orphic Tombs)


What is the Coded Structure ? To what do we refer when we use this term? We
have mentioned it various times, affirming that it is the basis for the
understanding of the meaning of the Arcana, provided that their disposition
respects certain criteria. In the preceding chapter, we disclosed that the Major
Arcana are divisible, based on comparison with the Minor, by the numbers 3 and
7. In this way, we introduced the concept of the 3x7 Diagram, a scheme of 3
rows with 7 cards each. Although this is not the only order possible, it is
however the one which allows for identification of the presence of the coded
framework in a clear manner. The Fool is situated outside of the scheme because
it is numberless, and therefore has the role of traveller along this path in 7 stages,
to traverse 3 times.
This distribution has already been studied by many authors of the past, without
unfortunately their being able to discover the presence of the Codes, which in
this manner remained, so to speak, eclipsed. What are, in substance, the Codes of
the Tarot? We have already introduced the subject through several examples
relative to the symbolism of the 4 suits of the Minor Arcana or to the modalities
of representation of Dualism, but we have not made demonstrations that are
more complex. Now, in order to proceed, we must enter more into detail, and to
begin, it will be well to return to the 3x7 Diagram shown here:

Fig. 1
3x7 Diagram

The Coded Structure has this name for the presence of Codes which, in order to
be understood, must be decoded . This is not something obvious. To understand
what we mean, as for the “game” of differences described before, we must
imagine our attention concentrated on a puzzle like those found in so many
puzzle magazines. The purpose is to discover, from the illustrations, the hidden,
coded content, uncovering the meaning of the puzzle itself. Every Code of the
Tarot is a puzzle that must be unmasked and understood .
The Coded Structure , in its entirety, contains thousands; and their purpose,
differently than the pastimes we cited, goes far beyond that of simple
entertainment. In fact, deciphering the Codes means to allow our consciousness
access to fragments of principles of wisdom, which, all together, create an
extraordinary teaching that may open the door to a superior consciousness.
Therefore, these brainteasers are not simple pastimes must be considered true
sacred enigmas . We are perfectly aware that all this may seem as improbable as
the plot of a novel; it is real, however, and we will attempt to guide the reader in
experimentation in the first person, of the truth of these affirmations. We must
clarify one point: that that which we have said must all be verifiable. In
describing the occult model, we said that its greatest drawback was its inability
to prove its own hypotheses. This impossibility has always been determined by a
lack of rational objectivity attributed by the esoterists to the particular nature of
the Tarot. In the case of the demonstration of the Coded Structure , instead, its
strong point is, exactly, objectivity . In fact, thanks to the simple observation of
the illustrations - the symbols - the codes and messages transmitted by these may
be understood in an evident and provable manner. Having to do with images,
concrete and examinable by all in the same manner and with analogous results, it
is possible to see that the puzzles are not a product of fantasy, or of the personal
ideas of one who invents them, but are irrefutably real. The Codes are divided
into two large categories:

1. Graphic-Codes: based on the images, the illustrations.

2. Text-Codes, based on the cartouches, the names of the cards .

We must now proceed with some examples; we will begin with the description
of a particularly interesting graphic-Code, remembering that the cornerstone of
Tarot teaching is based on the doctrine of Dualism introduced before.

Let us compare the two cards, attempting to discover if there are particular
connections between them. Wishing to fully experience the comparison, a
special sort of observation is necessary; this means to simply look, without
“thinking of seeing”...two conditions between which exists a great difference. To
decode the Tarot in a more precise and articulate manner, we must observe it
with the eyes of a child, or as the Bible says, with a child’s spontaneity and
Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said,
“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children,
you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2-3).
As excessive conceptualization has already led far too many researchers into
blind alleys, it is necessary to reflect on the possibility of the initial difficulty in
the observation of the two cards, attempting to observe them without
superimposing on the pure objective gaze, any objective knowledge of the
subject. With the Tarot, in fact, especially if we possess prior knowledge, we
often tend to not see with our eyes but to think with our brain , projecting and
binding together an entire series of symbolic meanings (even potentially
correct), there where it would be enough, for the sort of research proposed, to
simply look, and say what we see. Where is the difficulty, for example, in saying
that the Hanged Man is male and the World, female? The danger is that a fact
such as this is not mentioned because judged too simple, too trivial, to be taken
into consideration.

Fig. 2
Hanged Man - World

In any case, the secret of the Tarot lies precisely in this approach, characterized
by a child’s spontaneity without those cultural and mental superstructures that
usually condition our evaluations. In this case, to conduct the analysis in this
way not only reveals the sudden/unexpected abovementioned male-female
contrast, but an entire series of contrapositions: dressed-nude, head down-head
up, hands hidden-hands visible, tied-free, alone-in company, right leg bent-left
leg bent, and so forth:

Although this attitude requires a capacity of simplification, which for adults is,
paradoxically, quite complicated, at the same time it stimulates minds that are
used to other forms of reasoning. In this parallelism, everything seems to lead
towards a hidden message, a Code, referring to an antithesis . This last, a form of
expression of Dualism, leads back to a teaching. We may note that this duality
does not manifest in only one way but in various: through the contrast of right-
side up-reversed, man-woman, dressed-nude, etc. Describing the Code, which
we have baptized Hanged Man-World, we may point out that:

• The applied methodology regards an objective observation of the illustrations.

• Its identification has brought to light a precise teaching (Dualism) .

Wishing to verify the presence of other clues, let us continue the examination
of the two cards. In the Hanged Man, for example, the tree trunks make a great
square/rectangle form, while in the World is present a round-oval wreath of
leaves. These are two forms in opposition, as the first, having 4 sides, is the
geometrical figure by which may be represented the terrestrial world based on
the 4 elements of nature, while the second expresses with naturalness the
celestial vault and therefore the Heavens.

Fig. 3
Square - Circle

We know by experience that at the beginning of the study of the Coded
Structure, one of the first difficulties to arise comes from doubt. Acquiring
comprehension, in fact, we ask ourselves continuously if that which we are
observing (and already it seems so much even to be able to objectify it), may not
be fruit of some singular, if improbable, coincidences. Despite the fact that
statistics might already have been proved wrong, such a high frequency of
simultaneous casual combinations being improbable, the attitude of humans, in
general Cartesian and rational, tends continuously to seek verification. Codes are
fundamental because they are logical, coherent, verifiable and comparable. Their
study allows consistent reference to objectivity even in an area apparently as
distant as that of the Tarot. Let us then investigate further, seeking still more
elements, that any eventual perplexities may be dismissed from our minds.
The Hanged Man, upside down, gazes upwards while the woman in the World,
on the contrary, looks downwards: here as well is an inversion that confirms the
connection between Earth and the Heavens. Observing then the numbers of the
cards XII and XXI, we notice a curious inversion, in the Arabic numerals as in
the Roman:

1 2 ←→ 2 1 or X I I ←→ X X I

If we skim through all the cards in the 3x7 Diagram we see that this is the only
numerical couple with which this is possible, because none other can be
reversed. of the Major Arcana that can be reversed. 58 This discovery reveals a
very interesting fact: the only numbers which can be inverted are those of the
two cards in which all the symbolism is, likewise, in antithesis, as if there were
an actual will to transmit a teaching through messages expressed in a coded
modality .

That which we will now illustrate will be the subject of deep study and
meditation, as every particular of the Tarot bears a meaning. Let us observe the
two cards again: in the Hanged Man, is there something that leads us to his
number? On the yellow trunks at the sides of the figure, there are 6 cut branches
on each side, for a total of 12. Should we seek a similar message in the World

Fig. 4
The 12 Branches and the 12 Constellations

If so, where? We must ask ourselves the same questions that the reader would,
to help himself understand which reasoning to follow. As the boughs belong to
the two trunks, to the rectangular-square form, we should investigate the
corresponding and geometrically inverted symbol, the oval, which recalls
opposition also because made of leaves, in contrast with the bare branches. What
leads back to 12? As the circle expresses the notion of the Heavens, let us
analyse the four Living Beings that surround the female figure in this light. What
do the symbols of Taurus and Leo communicate to us? They are two
constellations. At the same time, the sign opposite Taurus on the oval is Scorpio,
which in antiquity was known as Eagle, while Aquarius, represented by the
angel-human with the pitcher, the symbol of service, is opposite Leo 59 . Thanks to
this evidence, in the World card we find again the concept of 12 expressed by the
constellations of the circle of the Zodiac, even more so as the term mundus, the
Latin etymology of Monde (World), in ancient times designated the celestial
vault, the universe and the luminous heavenly bodies, and was used only later to
indicate Earth and its inhabitants. Moreover, the constellations, differently than
the cut branches, which metaphorically represent that which is “dead”, represent
that which is alive:

12 cut branches (dead)

12 living constellations

Fig. 5
The Constellations

In this way, we may reach new levels of codification. The Hanged Man, in
obvious difficulty, is immersed in the terrestrial and no longer has a connection
with the energies of the constellations, expressed by the 12 cut branches. On the
contrary, the World personage moves freely at the centre of the Heavens, the
universe. Might the different attitudes of the protagonists themselves, create their
status? The Hanged Man is the cause of his own condition. As the man hides his
hands behind his back, what does he not wish to reveal, first of all to himself?
This is even more evident when compared to the female figure which, practically
nude, openly shows her kingdom.
There is a sense of total transparency, all the more so if we remember that the
cartouche Le Monde, 60 in French as in Italian, bears the word with the same root
as “mondare”, to clean. The abovementioned symbolism recalls the theme of
Christ and the 12 apostles, representing the Sun and the 12 Zodiacal
constellations progressively conquered by the disciple along the Path of
Initiation. 61 May we not think then, that the Tarot suggests it is necessary to avoid
hiding one’s true nature from oneself (and from others), to go towards
purification and act with clarity and truth, in accord with the Heavens, in order to
be free and able to move at the centre of one’s own world. According to us, this
way of seeing is far-reaching because it renders us protagonists and responsible
for our destiny and our actions, even the most disagreeable, whose difficulty and
guilt we often tend to attribute to adverse conditions or to other individuals and
never, or almost never, to ourselves.
So from a certain point of view, we may say that finding oneself in a difficult
position may derive from an excess of a material condition deprived of Heavenly
connections, or else from the choice not to adopt a sincere and transparent
behaviour. The firm tie that unites these two states is evident.
We have specified all this, to say that the analysis of the Codes takes place on
multiple levels. In this case, after having identified a first, that is, the total
opposition of the two cards, we enter a second, the terrestrial-celestial sense of
this inversion. Later we access a third level: deciphering the symbolism of the 12
constellations, we discover a new meaning for that which the Tarot intends to
show us - to avoid being imprisoned in the material dimension, the necessity of
connection and communion with the spiritual world. Finally, in the fourth stage,
we understand that sincerity, together with a clear and honest conduct, brings
harmony and joy, which render us free; while hiding, also and above all from
ourselves, makes us prisoners. Every plan rests on comprehension of the one
before it, as in mathematical theory. For example, if we wished to explain
Pythagoras’ theorem to someone who knows little of geometry, we might find
ourselves in the complex situation of having to explain what numbers are (level
1), the triangle (level 2), the areas of geometric figures constructed on catheti
(level 3) and square roots (level 4). For the Codes, which are simple axioms but
become gradually more elaborate, leading towards the construction of ever more
articulate logic, the same thing happens. This is because of another of their
The enigmas of the Tarot are built according to a scheme of progressive levels
and open upon a multiplicity of congruent and coherent meanings.
Arrived at this point, in order to avoid potential doubt that all of this is only a
fascinating exaggeration, we deem it necessary to take up the description of
further aspects by continuing the comparison of the two Arcana.

We have seen that the attitudes of the two protagonists, the Hanged Man and
the World, have very different qualities. The first conceals, he is imprisoned in
the material world, and is in a difficult situation of which he is possibly the
principal cause. The World does not hide; she is free and seems to dance at the
centre of the Circle of the Zodiac, that is, of the Heavens and their energies.
There forms a Terrestrial-Celestial opposition, which extends also to the two
personages, in which the classical dualistic representation of human beings is
underlined. Up until here, in fact, it should be clear that:
1) Among all the forms of Dualism, the Terrestrial-Celestial is the most
2) Human beings as well are characterized by this principle, which in them
takes the form of personality-Soul.
3) Personality is terrestrial, Soul is Celestial.
The Tarot is an instrument that offers enormous possibilities for reflection, but
there would be no sense in meditating upon great existential themes if this were
without a practical and concrete application. Therefore, thanks to the symbolism
of the Arcana, in order to avoid dry theoretical confines, let us attempt to
understand in a more detailed manner with respect to what has been said before,
what is the deeper sense of the relationship between the terrestrial-personality
and the celestial-Soul.
For a start, let us recall the rapport between the 4 elements and the 4 suits of the
Minor Arcana:


We know that, for the entity Tarot , according to Dualism, the Minor Arcana
represent the personality. Being divided in this manner, as we apply this
correspondence to man, in particular to his terrestrial part, the personality, which
belongs to this world, the symbolism of the Tarot arrives, to aid our
comprehension. Let us see how.

Pentacles (or Coins), connected with Earth, correspond to the physical plane .
They are thus associated with the physical body, with money and with all that
which is material.


Fig. 6
The Knight of Cups

Cups, associated with Water (even the horse of the Knight has a head which
resembles that of a seahorse!), correspond to the emotional plane . It is not a
coincidence that common ways of expressing emotional unease are “to be
agitated”, “to be shaken”. Moreover, the Moon is the card of the Major Arcana
which contains the most liquid, because in symbolism, she is the Lady of Waters,
of the body and of the Earth (seas and oceans), she dominates them with a cyclic
nature, with individual rhythms in communication with cosmic rhythms. As the
Moon is associated with the Mother-Goddess and therefore with life and with the
first emotional dependencies of the child towards the mother, thus is explained
the relationship between water and this plane.

Fig. 7
The Moon

Wands, (or Staffs), made of wood that burns, are associated with Fire, as we see
by the flames surrounding the Ace. As symbolically, fire corresponds to the
energetic plane , the concept of sexual energy must be taken into account, as in
fact, sexuality represents the greatest energetic demand for an individual (we
have only to think of the importance of sex in the story of humanity or of the
single person). In this case, as well, the phallic form of the Ace, or the explicitly
sexual symbolism of the Queen of Wands, aid in our comprehension. In this way
the presence of Wands and Cups (for the Ancients, connected to the chalice, the
female sex), shows both polarities, male and female.

Fig. 8
Ace and Queen of Wands

Modern physics as well, confirms the connection between Wands and fire in an
exemplary manner. We know that the Hindu caste Code, 62 associates Wands with
work, which the science of Physics associates with energy; at the same time, this
last, in physics termed.
W, is the product of F ( Force ) multiplied by Distance (s), expressed in calories
or Joules , (units of energy): 63

W (travail) = F x S (mesuré en unité d’énergie)

Thanks to this scientific Code, we confirm a definite association between

Wands, Energy-Fire 64 and Work.

Wands ←→ Energy ←→ Work

Swords, in order to be used, must cleave the air; and therefore lead back to this
element. Here as well the Knight of the suit confirms the hypothesis, as his
horse, compared to the other three, shows all four hooves detached from the
ground, in the act of leaping into... the air!

Fig. 9
The Four Knights compared

Swords then, correspond to the mental plane , belonging to the sphere of

thoughts, ideas, borne on the air. To comprehend the difference that connects to
the emotional, let us imagine a slight automobile accident in which the two
drivers (unharmed), exiting their vehicles, may:
1. Argue: they would be governed by emotions.
2. Calmly compile a jointly agreed statement for insurance purposes: they
would be guided by the mental.
As the Ancients compared the mental plane to a battlefield, in the Tarot as well,
it is represented by Swords. In the Bhagavad-Gîtâ itself, the sacred text of Indian
spirituality, which tells of a war between rival families, a dialogue between
Arjuna , symbolizing the personality, and Krishna , representing the Soul, is
described. The battlefield, metaphorically, is the mental; and the aim of the
personality is to find tranquillity. The only possible way to find it is to transfer
consciousness into the Soul, to listen to the voice of Krishna ; because when our
consciousness is on the mental plane, our thoughts are in constant agitation.
Only when the mental plane has gained control does it transform into a sixth
sense, the means used by the Soul to send its messages, intuitive thoughts: this
is, precisely, the plane of the Soul , the Fifth Element. Let us see how to address
this subject with respect to our theme. 65


According to Tradition, the four elements of Nature are at the base of the
physical and material universe. At the same time, in the human being, these
principles correspond to the physical, emotional, energetic, and mental planes.
Thus, there is a perfect equivalence:

Pentacles → Earth → Physical Body

Cups → Water → Emotional Body
Wands → Fire → Energetic Body
Swords → Air → Mental Body

In all traditions, even if with different names, to these first four is associated a
Fifth Element, corresponding to divinity and sacred Space. According to this
dualistic vision, if in man the four principles are the terrestrial and material part,
the personality, the Fifth constitutes the spiritual and celestial part, the Soul.
Observing again the card of the World, we understand more fully how the Tarot
codifies the message. Let us interest ourselves again in the tetramorph of
creatures surrounding the female figure, and who, we have said, symbolize the
Zodiac. We observe a primordial iconography found also in Christian
symbolism, although in a form different from the astrological one presented

“ Each one had four faces…As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face
of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the
four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an
eagle. ” (Ezekiel 1, 4-11)
“ In the sight of the throne was, as it were, a sea of glass like to crystal: and in
the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four living creatures,
full of eyes before and behind. And the first living creature was like a lion: and
the second living creature, like a calf: and the third living creature, having the
face, as it were, of a man: and the fourth living creature was like an eagle flying.
And the four living creatures had each of them six wings: and round about and
within they are full of eyes. ” (Revelations 4, 6-8).

Fig. 10
The World

What is the connection between the four elements and humans? We have said
that the Living Creatures symbolize Taurus, Leo, Aquarius and the Eagle-
Scorpion. These in turn are connected to the four principles of Nature, although
with certain differences. Taurus is Earth and Leo is Fire, we know; the angel of
Aquarius (bearer of the amphora) is associated with Water; the Eagle, in flight,
with Air. The last two relationships are inverted 66 with respect to traditional
astrology but this should not surprise us, as in this arcanum we have already
observed a long series of Codes based on antitheses. Recognizing the four
elements in the cards, we identify in the four Creatures as well, the components
of the human personality. What role, then, does the woman 67 have? On the one
hand, simply, she represents the Fifth (additional element) in relation to the four;
but the concept is the same, finding herself in the centre of the Zodiac, she traces
the Space-Heavens. It is no coincidence that the etymology of the cartouche, as
we said, leads back to the Latin mundus , connected to the Greek κόσμος (cosmos)
which means, literally, Universe, because the icon symbolizes Space in its
physical and sacred sense. Thus, through these deductions, it is demonstrated
that in the XXI Arcanum is expressed the microcosmical symbolism of the Soul
of man, the Fifth Element associated to the four of the personality, and also the
macrocosmical symbolism of the Universal Soul, the unifying principle termed
by the Ancients, Ether. As this connection was already evident thanks to the
preceding reasoning, with this new intuition, we hope to have been finally able
to demonstrate that in the teaching of the Tarot there exists a true central theme.
Not only those last considerations are coherent with all that we have already
extrapolated regarding the two Arcana, but they appear in harmony with the
entire Coded Structure , which is gradually revealing itself. The Hanged Man, in
fact, detached from the zodiacal and celestial energies, represents the individual
immersed in the personality, by which he is truly bound and imprisoned, who
has no knowledge of his spiritual and celestial component, of which he actually
does not sense the presence. The World, on the contrary, presents us with a
human being in which the Soul has become the true guide of its actions, the
centre of its world , to whose service the personality lends itself. With the XXI
Arcanum, we are at the end of the Journey and the Fifth element, the
Quintessence, which has fully realized its manifestation, may lead the man,
becoming his true creator and teacher. In this task, the four Living Beings of the
personality, his body, emotions, energy and thoughts which, integrated and
evolved now assist it, collaborate in full syntony. If we wished to go beyond this
already surprising level of codification, we would find ourselves facing new
enigmas because the Codes multiply in order to allow research of ever-greater
dimensions. In any case, to gain an overview, let us dedicate ourselves for a
moment to new aspects.

It seems a good idea to pause for reflection on what has been said up until now.
All of the knowledge enclosed in the Tarot over the course of the centuries, has
been totally disintegrated, losing itself in a multitude of different games
containing only a part of the original symbolism. Although the antique deck of
Conver, custodian of the Tradition, conserved the symbols and significance
thanks to the presence of the Coded Structure , we are speaking in any case of
images. How then may the sense of these be comprehended through
observation? What does it mean, to develop the aforementioned attitude of a
child? The key is simplicity . Let us imagine that all the acquired mathematical
knowledge of man were to disappear. How to reconstruct it? We would need to
begin again with primary questions, basic principles. With time, an elaborate
science, whose foundations rest however upon elementary notions, would form
anew. It is the same for the Tarot. Let us immerse ourselves in a distant epoch,
the Middle Ages, for example, in a time with no modern comforts such as
television or internet. We meet a monk who gives us this deck of cards. How
may we, without outside help, enter into the secrets of these Icons? Let us begin
to observe them, perhaps even unable to read the names of the cards, whose
meanings, given the immediacy of the images, we would learn intuitively. Our
sole possibility would be to begin to understand the simplest things: which
figures are of men, which of women; who is dressed, who nude; which bizarre
figures are described, and so on. We would not wonder right away about the
symbolical and occult content, also because we might not have the capacity. All
that would be secondary. In any case, thanks to the first data suggested by
observation of the illustrations, we would perhaps gradually begin to
comprehend certain connections, first in a rudimental manner and then more and
more clearly…until we discover the presence of hidden coded messages. In this
manner, as demonstrated by the comparison Hanged Man-World, we realize that
the Codes necessitate a particular mode of comparing symbols and concepts, a
modality of thought and a form of association to which we are not accustomed.
To analyze the Tarot through this form of association based upon simplicity,
reawakens partially sleeping functions and generates in us new mental abilities.
We undergo the procedures of the Science of Signs , the dynamic that stimulates
the capacity of comprehension of particular connections in the events of the
exterior world with which we interact. The Codes are hidden and with the
gradual development of this aptitude, called the module of Synchronicity , we
begin to observe and comprehend them more fully. At the same time, thanks to
this practice, we observe ever more evident relationships between daily
occurrences, as we undergo an expansion of our capacity to recognize those
happenings which are called coincidences but which would more accurately be
termed synchronicities. Attention, however: this does not mean that we are free
to make subjective deductions (not for the Tarot, nor for events), as the principles
of decoding are subject to iron laws: The Code, in fact, is a mode of expression
characterized by iconic objectivity, bearing a precise message, part of a coherent
and harmonious teaching .

There is no space for fanciful hypotheses, as to enter into the codified

framework means to penetrate with rigor, precision and accuracy into a Science.
In the process of study of the Codes, 3 steps must be followed in order:

1) observation of their existence

2) comprehension of their functioning
3) extraction of a true esoterical teaching.

For this reason, it may be more profitable, at least in the beginning, to entrust
oneself to an instructor of Tarot, who is able to furnish the instruments necessary
for entering the universe of Codes. In this way, the requisites for awakening the
qualities needed, and an autonomous discernment of the subject, are created in
them. In fact, if not correctly introduced to the subject, it is not easy to take the
first steps, whose precise individuation completely changes one’s approach. The
Codes, all connected among themselves, are thousands. To comprehend them, it
is indispensable to follow a definite order and above all to pursue an authentic
search in our daily lives, for honesty and truth, to return to the purity of a child.
For those who proceed without these prerequisites, the access to the Coded
Structure and to the dimension to which it leads, is limited or even forbidden, it
being a world which opens the doors not only to Synchronicity but also t o
Intuition, to and to the comprehension of certain Laws which govern the events
of destiny , treasures that may be received only by those who are prepared. To
comprehend this dimension of comparison, its meaning and to which benefits it
may lead, will be of great help to us in the next comparison we face.


Let us look again at the 3x7 Diagram and dedicate ourselves to the study of the
Arcana of the Lover and of Judgement. Although the comparison may be easier,
it would be well not to let ourselves be fooled by the apparent facility of the
results produced by the discovery of the first Codes. Without a vaster
comprehension of the Coded Structure and without other keys of decryption, we
may easily remain excluded from this sort of sacred edifice, from this enormous
Cathedral that goes by the name of Tarot. In this initial phase, in which the
capacity of observation is still maturing, to be able to see all the connections is
relatively difficult.

Fig. 11
The Lover - Judgement

At first glance, we note a similar scheme: three small subjects in the lower part
of the card and an angel in the sky in the upper part. We find this analogy in
other particulars as well. Behind the angel of the Lover, for example, there are
yellow and red rays; also, with different lengths, behind the angel of Judgement.
In the VI, there are at least two figures in relationship with each other, as in the
XX with two subjects in prayer before a celestial being. There is the concept of
“couple”. The list could be longer, but despite complexity and indubitable
analogy, we note that a series of details is in antithesis. In VI, for example, the
couple is younger and dressed, while in XX the figures are nude and older,
emphasized even more by the presence of the one risen from the dead is
testimony to the maximum possible achievement of goals in the course of a life
with respect to the number of its years. Furthermore, to the nude infant angel
corresponds the dressed adult angel and this opposition, which appears also in
the area of the same card, not only confirms the different ages of the human
subjects, but generates a double inversion. Dualism codified through these
messages is obvious, and is proven by another aspect as well: in the VI Arcanum
the humans are larger than the angel is, they appear more important, while in the
XX the reverse is true. A precise continuity is revealed, as the Lover belongs to
the bottom row and to the lower part of the sixth column of the Diagram, both
facts recalling the Earth, while Judgement is in the top row and the high part of
the vertical, therefore in the Heavens. Here is, once again, the terrestrial-celestial
duality. Let us sum up briefly what we have learned:

3 Personages + 1 Angel ←→ 3 Personages + 1 Angel (analogy)
Yellow and red rays ←→ Yellow and red rays (analogy)
Couple ←→ Couple
3 Dressed personages + 1 nude Angel ←→ 3 Nude personages + 1 dressed Angel
Dressed personages-nude Angel ←→ Nude personages-dressed Angel
Young couple ←→ Elderly couple
Young Angel ←→ Adult Angel
3 Large personages + 1 Small Angel ←→ 3 Small personages + 1 Large Angel

This allows us to take note of two basic points:

1) the preceding mechanism of antithesis/inversion appears as a regular
2) the analogy is intended as a new codifying mechanism.
In order to evaluate the teaching brought forward by this
confrontation/comparison, let us continue with an in-depth analysis of the theme
of the couple.
Fig. 12
Expansion of consciousness

In Judgement, the nudity and the act of devotion itself clearly suggest a more
evolved relationship with respect to the Lover. The hands, for example, in sharp
contrast with those of the lower row, no longer touch. In VI, in fact, the humans
have more carnal and terrestrial desires and seek principally physical contact and
conversation. No one looks up to interact with the angel, representing the
celestial sphere, who therefore in order to be able to give counsel, is forced to
shoot arrows. These, which flying through the air represent the mental planes,
portray thoughts and intuitions sent to allow the spiritual world to manifest upon
the earth. Gradually, after a painful transformation in which we “lose some
pieces of personality”, as suggests the Arcanum XIII at the middle of the sixth
column, in the XX card, men reach a higher evolution. Here, represented nude
and without the lower part of the body, connected to more instinctive desires, not
only are they in prayer, but also listen to (from the trumpet) and see (from the
direction of the bearded man’s head) the celestial messenger.
The elegance of this Code emphasises that the protagonists of the Lover are in
a condition of ordinary consciousness while those of judgement are in a state of
superior knowledge and perception, similar to that of mediums, prophets and
those who transform internally. Not all of these relationships can be casual and
there are sufficient elements to ascertain that, as for the Hanged Man-World
couple, also for the Lover-Judgement couple, the codification is intentional.
Furthermore, here as well we have developed multiple planes. The generally
similar scheme (3+1) of the two cards represents Level 1, which allows the
formation of a more immediate initial comprehension, a “grasp” of the Code.
The presence of a Dualism expressed in diverse modalities of antithesis, is Level
2; the individuation of a couple, young and old, is a new level in itself (3), as it
may suggest teaching of the couple, but also a demonstration of the different
degrees of consciousness to which it is possible to elevate oneself (4). For now,
we will limit ourselves to a general evaluation in order to avoid excessive
complexity. Our objective is of an informative nature, to make known to the
general public the existence of the various functioning mechanisms of the Tarot.
First, it is necessary to understand well the anatomy and physiology of the
Codes, how they are made and how they work, to be able to aspire to a
successive phase, which leads towards the metaphysical teaching they bear. As
all follows a rhythm of learning, let us be content for now with metabolizing that
which has been presented and let us continue in another direction, introducing
those that are called “text-Codes.”

We have already mentioned the existence of the text-Codes, the puzzles present
in the cartouches of the cards. Although the names of the Tarot in the present
(translated) work are in English (in the original, in Italian), their original forms
were in a somewhat atypical French. As the original cartouches are the only ones
to contain Codes, our own choice of names is merely practical. Thus, since in
translation all is lost, it is indispensable to submit a comparative table, as below,
to show the correct nomenclature:
Some important details cannot be missed. For example, if the Tarot was created
in the first centuries A.D., how is it possible that, in that epoch, the names were
written in this manner? For this more-than-legitimate question, there is a precise
answer. In the first version of the Icons, the cartouches were printed in post-
Latin French. French belongs to the Romance language of the Indo-European
family, and is a result of the contaminations that Vulgar Latin underwent in
Rome-occupied Gaul, above all from the V century. In fact, the influence of the
pre-existing local idioms of the Celts and the Franks, originated these languages
(called romanes , or Romance) that later became d’oïl e d’oc , this last typical of the
southern regions. Over the centuries, around the year 1000, the names of the
Tarot were rewritten to adapt them to the times, and the first, Franco-Latin
version was modified. For this task, the rigorous criteria of respecting all text-
Codes and their inter-relations with the graphic-Codes, was followed. Although
at this level it is not easy to comprehend, it was truly a mammoth work, which
we cannot do other than describe with several examples.


Let us observe the cards along the third column of the 3x7 Diagram. In the
cartouches of LIMPERATRICE and LETOILLE an apostrophe is lacking, while
in L’A ROVE DE FORTVNE, there is one too many.

They are not errors or misprints, as we might believe, but Codes. In the
cartouche LIMPERATRICE, for example, thanks to the lack of an apostrophe,
we have the French verb LIMPER which corresponds to the Latin limpido (in
French limpide), clean, pure. In this way LIMPERATRICE becomes “she who is
pure”. The idea that the Arcanum corresponds to “She who purifies” is attested
to also by the presence of an inlaid receptacle for holy water in her throne, a
known symbol of catharsis. Thus, the characteristic of purification is an essential
aspect for understanding the general sense of the card.

Fig. 13
Limperatrice (The Empress)

In LETOILLE, apart from the question of the apostrophe, there is another

anomaly, which we must investigate: the double presence of the letter L. First,
the lack of elision of the vowel creates the definite article LE. At the same time,
the curious underscore uniting the letters I and the first L forms the letter U,
which generates the word TOULE (French root meaning “source”) and which
leads back to TULE. Finally, the close analogy between these two letters, which
in the deliberately imprecise calligraphy may seem two I’s or two L’s, according
to one’s analysis perspective, causes the word ILE ( ile , island) to appear. To sum
up, we find the hidden expression “LE TOULE ILE” , the Isle of the
Source/Font or the Isle of Tule/Thule, the legendary island at land’s end.

Fig. 14
Letoille (the Star)

In L’A ROVE DE FORTVNE, the extra apostrophe suggests that the accent is
intentionally placed over the letter A, or Alpha. This deduction would be
confirmed by the fact that the great wheel, the principal symbol of the card, with
its round form expresses the letter O, or Omega. In symbolism in general, but in
the Christian in particular, 68 the Alpha and the Omega, the first and last letters of
the Greek alphabet, are the symbols of eternity and cyclicity, the beginning and
the end of every principle. Considering the iconography of the Arcanum, it
should not be difficult to accept the presence of this Code, found also, moreover,
in many other points of the Coded Structure .

Fig. 15
L’a Rove de Fortvne (the Wheel of Fortune)

These text-Codes have not been developed in their entire potential. Although
the current intent is simply to make their presence known, with an eye to
consolidating the Coded Structure in the cartouches as well, we must report some
other “anomalies:”



We need only indicate their existence in order to comprehend that they are not
errors but voluntary messages. The choice of limiting comment derives from the
impossibility of exhaustive explanation without greater explanation of other,
closely interdependent, graphic-Codes.

In the first part of the chapter, we spoke of a codified framework made up of a

web of enigmas tightly interconnected among them. In order that these, that are
isolated and unique, may determine a coherent structure, they must obey certain
rules that generate order and harmony. We know that a Code is a symbolical
message deliberately constructed through a combination of allegorical images. If
we find that the functioning mechanism of the Codes obeys certain principles,
we might speak of the presence of schemes, or Laws .


Let us return in our minds to the Codes illustrated before. The analysis of the
two cards Hanged Man-World had shown a total contrast between the two
Arcana: there was, then, an antithetical scheme. In the second proposed Code as
well, the Lover-Judgement, we had espied certain aspects tied to the same

Hanged Man-World → Antithesis

Lover-Judgement → Antithesis

Furthermore, in both cases these Codes allowed emergence from Dualism.

However, we also added that Dualism is ubiquitous. And if at the same time, the
inversion scheme were applicable in a more ample and general manner?
Moreover, if there were a rule in that sense? The reply is affirmative: and it
refers precisely to one of the Laws, the principles, at the basis of the modalities
of expression of a part of the Codes. This rule, called the Law of Antithesi s, states

When two elements, in the same card or in two different cards, are inverted in
their meanings, a Code is created. The inversion, from a graphic or a conceptual
point of view, may refer to a symbol or a group of symbols. The deciphered Code
may be object of an interpretation for the individuation of a teaching.
We propose a simple and immediate example to illustrate the definition, calling
attention to the Arcana at the extreme ends of the 3x7 Diagram, the Magician
and the World, who begin and finish the numbered series of the Majors, because
the Fool, as we said before, numberless and therefore out of sequence.
Observing the two cards, is there something (in opposition) that would strike us?

Fig. 16
Magician - World

In the Magician we note immediately a large rectangular-square form, the table

on which rest his tools, while in the World, as we know, exists the symbolism of
the circle, represented by the great oval form. Here again is the application of
this Law: through the discovery of a small enigma, we have evidence of a
teaching (in this case, terrestrial-celestial Dualism). 69 From this, as always, we
may draw other conclusions. The Magician, for example, is associated with a
specific letter of the alphabet, the A, not only because it is in first position (as is
the A in the alphabet) but above all for a subtle connection with its features with
the Hebrew letter A, Aleph. It is enough to observe the form created by the arms
and the trunk of the personage, and compare it with the letter itself:

Fi g . 17
Magician - Alef

The World, instead, describes the letter O, strongly suggested by the oval.
Thus, in this second case as well, we find a meaning of opposition: the A and the
O, the Greek alpha and omega which, as we remember from their presence in the
card of the Wheel, are cited in Christianity as the beginning and the end,
therefore opposites…In short, the presence of reiterated models leads to the
formulation of a Law. The difference between this and a Code, as a general
principle, is that this last is an isolated event, while the first is a scheme that
repeats itself:

Code: unique and isolated event

Law: scheme that repeats.

Expressed in another manner, when the Codes, which manifest with different
characteristics every time, with diverse designs and symbols, express themselves
by analogous functioning mechanisms, we must conclude that they are
disciplined and regulated by the same Law. This is a very important aspect for
understanding the functioning of the Tarot. The presence of Codes indicates that
there is a fragment of a teaching to be discovered. The Laws lead towards the
understanding of the order existing in the Coded Structure , created by Codes, and
depositary of general teaching. The interaction of the two, like a device with
millimetrical gears and cogs, allows a discovery that, in a gradual motion,
illustrates the sense of the incredible Metaphysical Machine called Tarot . Let us
imagine to have lived all our lives, from birth, in an underground cave, without
ever seeing the light of day. At a certain point, because of a change in our
conditions, we find ourselves on Earth’s surface, where we experience for the
first time a simple yet splendid spectacle: a sunrise. If no one explained this to
us, certainly, after this first experience, we might ask ourselves if this episode
were to consider an isolated event. We might then decide to verify this, going to
sit every day in the same place where we saw that marvel the first time, in order
to possibly observe it again. Thus, gradually, over time, we would realize that the
heavenly body that gives light and warmth reappears periodically, every time. At
this point, even unknowingly, we would have found it (for us, who already
knew), the Law most taken for granted: the sun rises every morning. Returning
to the Tarot, we may say that the presence of a first Code is comparable to the
discovery of the sunrise on that first morning. When we find a second Code
which follows the same mechanism, we have a second day of sun. If, one by
one, we find many other features of the same system of functioning, we will
comprehend the presence of an actual Law: we learn, that is, that the sun rises
every morning . If, then, to remain in the Metaphor, we were not yet sated and
wished to understand the why of this rising, we would need to seek other codes,
other laws, and at that point we would find ourselves on the Path which teaches
us that the rising of the sun is connected to terrestrial rotation. Let us continue
then, along this Path...


It is not easy to approach the scientific dimension of the Tarot, in the current
epoch totally unknown. For this reason, we have chosen to propose an exercise
for this new subject as well. Let us observe the cards listed here, attempting to
discover if there is something in particular which, in every couple, draws the

Fig. 18
Emperess- Emperor

Fig. 19
House of God – Moon

Fig. 20
Chariot – Wheel of Fortune

Fig. 21
Temperance - Star

Fig. 22
Fool - Hermit

In all of these cases, the list of which might have been decidedly longer, is
revealed a constant characteristic: a symbol, which, although with specific
differences, appears in both the Arcana. In fact, in order, we find:

Twice the eagles

Twice the towers
Twice the wheels
Twice the earthenware jars
Twice the red wands

Thus in every couple there is the same element, which appears at least twice.
This is a scheme that repeats , although we now know that this is definable as a
Law. How might we baptize this specific rule? The term that occurs most
spontaneously is The Law of Duplicity , a particular case of the Law of Multiplicity
, one of the most potent pilasters on which is based the Language of the Tarot.
In the preceding chapter we introduced the Law of Difference which, let us
remember, states that, finding ourselves facing two similar symbols, it is
necessary to search also for that which differentiates them. In any case, why do
we meet so many similar elements in the Arcana? In a conversation, or to
emphasize our own opinion, we frequently reiterate a concept of which we are
particularly fond. Through repetition, concepts are consolidated and confirmed.
The same is true for the Tarot which re-proposes certain elements, with the
purpose of drawing attention to the fact that Codes exist (and we have already
partially alluded to this in the case of the two eagles), as also to accentuate their
importance. Let us evaluate some cases in order to better comprehend this


Fig. 23

Let us observe the staff present in the Fool and the Hermit, the last couple of
cards of our list. Experts have always admitted that they noticed it, have always
hypothesized that behind its double presence there was nothing particular to
discover. However, when one is conscious of the presence of the Coded Structure
, our attention and our manner of observing must change. The fact of finding the
same element, only in these two cards among all the 78 that make up the deck,
obliges us to ask if there is a connection between them. Perhaps the Tarot mean
to suggest that there is something to discover?
Mah-jong , an amusing game of Chinese origin, consists in finding couples of
tiles of the same sort, with the same monogram. The purpose is to gradually take
them off the board, freeing those underneath in order to victoriously win the
game. Thus, the red staff, as if it were a monogram, indicates that the Hermit and
the Fool are tiles in relation with each other, not in order to take them away, but
to “liberate” a message…This symbol is there precisely to tell us that between
two Arcana there exists a relationship.
Let us consider them again from another point of view and let us attempt to
understand if this connection truly exists. Observing the Fool attentively, we see
that he might represent a pilgrim or a disciple following a road. The idea of a
pilgrim, of one who begins a journey, is deducible from the iconography of the
image. Among its distinctive traits, we realize that it is the only card in which
real movement is expressed, not simply the idea of movement, which might be
expressed by other illustrations, as the wheel. Furthermore, it is the only blade in
which the gaze of the protagonist is turned upwards, as if he were seeking his
ideal in the heavens. On the other hand, is not the goal of a spiritual pilgrimage,
at least metaphorically, the Heavens?
The Hermit, on the contrary, is old, immobile, and with a lamp in hand in the
act of making light , 70 and might be the elderly Teacher who awaits the Fool, his
disciple. We may also deduce his condition of waiting by the illustration of his
robe, which falls perpendicularly to the ground. If the illustrator had wished to
express the idea of movement, in fact, he would have created the optical effect of
motion of the material of the robe produced by the advancement of one leg with
respect to the other (a gesture necessary for walking). The cartouche of the card
as well, seems to confirm our hypothesis: according to the dictionary, the
Hermit, from the Greek ερημίτης , anchorite and solitary, is a person who, for
religious and spiritual motives, chooses to live alone in hidden places. He is
actually a Saint, or a teacher. Thus, in brief, it is correct to hypothesize that there
exists a precise relationship between the two personages, further confirmed by
another series of Codes. There is, therefore, a privileged rapport between the two
cards and it is the presence of a similar symbol, in this case the staff, to show us
the direction of our first steps. Furthermore, referring to the Law of Difference ,
we may verify that there is a difference between the two staff s. One of them is
straight, oriented diagonally, while the other is curved and vertical. Among the
various meanings that these differences might suggest, we wish to pause over
one in particular, as it will be a theme treated in the following pages. The staff of
the Hermit resembles both a serpent and the letter S, while that of the Fool
reminds us of an I. Associating them, we obtain the Code IS, which identifies the
Egyptian goddess Isis, whose name is a simple doubling of this phoneme and
which in the Tarot has a fundamental role.
Thus, we may say that if a symbol appears at least twice it is of great
importance. Aware of the essentiality of repetition, in this case as well we
propose a second example in order to add another tile to this gigantic mosaic .

Fig. 24
The two Wands


Let us consider again the cards of the House of God and of the Moon:

Fig. 25
House of God - Moon

We have already said that there exists a symbol common to both, the tower.
Actually, in ancient times the tower was the equivalent of a house because at one
time the towers were inhabited. In the first cards, the name Maison Diev ( House
of God ) is certainly not casual. In these two Arcana, the house is represented
twice: why? In order to explain this, we must mention another concept. In each
of these Icons, a certain number of keywords exists. These concepts are deducible
by observation of both the illustrations, as by the deeper and more esoterical
understanding provided by the Codes. Otherwise expressed, observing and
decoding the symbolism of the Tarot, we discover certain essential Ideas , which
may be used in various ways, one of these being practical interpretation.
In the Fool, for example, it would be natural to think of the verb, “to walk, to
go”. Neither is it unreasonable to hypothesize that the keyword of Arcanum XII
might be “tied” (because of the cord). From observation of the characteristic of
the World, instead, we may deduce the concept of “to be free”. All of these are
logical consequences generated by pure observation. We know already that in
the cards XVI and XVIII, the presence of the same symbol suggests the notion
of something relevant, more so as the idea is expressed as well by the
dimensions of the illustration. In fact, as a child would draw a house (let us
remember the gaze of the child...), the House of God in particular is much more
imposing with respect to the other symbols. What does it mean when a child
draws something in this manner? Independently of the fact that it may be a man,
an animal or an object, it means that that something is important to him. The
same is true here, where the house is large because it has great value... In this
way, it is possible to understand two aspects:
1. the house is among the essential concepts of the two cards;
2. the House, the Maison, has an important function for the Tarot.

Thus, this symbol is a keyword of both Arcana, although it is usable with two
different modalities given the graphical differences of the two images. Why are
we explaining all this?
Let us imagine needing to give an answer to a consultant, who asks us,

“Should I go to live in a certain house?”

Let us observe the following three cards, keeping in mind a very important

When the Arcana are extracted right side up, they present no problems or

Fig. 26
Going to live in a house
The House of God and the Moon contain the same keywords as the question,
exactly as if the Tarot were replying with a brief phrase: to go into the house
presents no blocks or problems ... Is that not surprising?
We have already seen that if an element appears twice in the 3x7 Diagram, it is
of great interest. This happens also in practical readings. When the tarologist
observes the same symbol in two side-by-side blades, he understands that the
Tarot, with respect to the specific question of the consultant, is telling him, “
Attention! The keyword here is of GREAT INTEREST. ” For this, it is underlined
by a double presence, where a single case would not cause the same “suspicion”.
It is simply the strength of repetition or, in Latin, the repetita iuvant which, in this
case, helps the Tarologist to understand... 71
We imagine that these affirmations of ours will lead to an interminable series of
questions and doubts. It would seem legitimate to ask the question, “ Does the
Tarot really answer in this manner? It isn’t possible...! ” In any case, even if we
reserve the right to produce new considerations and demonstrations, it is
necessary to understand as of now that the only real way to give a definitive
answer to this or other perplexities, is practical experience, the royal road to
verification of the functioning of the Tarot. Now, our purpose is to illustrate the
presence of rules, such as the Law of Antithesis, of Duplicity, of Difference , which
are only a part of all those present in the Tarot. To conclude, therefore, let us
remember that if we reason simply upon the fact that in the Fool and the Hermit
there is a red wand or that in the couple of Arcana XII-XXI there is total
opposition, we find ourselves on the “plane of CODES”: The CODE of the Red
Wand, the CODE of inversion, Hanged Man-World”, etc. These are unique and
isolated events. When instead we find that theses Codes obey certain rules (in
this case the Law of Duplicity and the Law of Antithesis ), we find ourselves at the
level of a “LAW of the Tarot”, in the repetitive schemes of association of
symbols or concepts found so frequently in these cards.
We are aware of the difficulties and the absolute novelty of this way of
proceeding, so far from anything ever written or said. For this reason, we
consider it a good idea to continue with still more explanations, which may
improve the global comprehension of this elaborate Science.
Footnotes - Chapter 4

5 8 The Roman number IV might be inverted, becoming VI. In any case, in the Tarot the number IV is
written IIII, that is III+I, therefore it is not invertible. In the same way, also the VIIII, the XIIII, or the XIIII
are written according to the principle of addition.
59 Astrologically, Aquarius is represented by a man with a pitcher (the water-bearer). The ancient name of
the constellation of the Scorpion was the Eagle .
60 The French verb monder means “to clean”, as does the Italian, mondare.
61 A much more complex symbolism which leads back to the Path of discipleship.
62 Cf. “ The Hindu castes ” in Chapter 3 .
63 Cf. Chapter 3.
64 With no desire to complicate this explanation, let us emphasize the fact that we obtain the relationship
between wands and work in many ways, passing through the Hindu religion, through the science of
Physics, and thanks to the symbolism of the Builders (in particular in the sequence of the Honours of the
series itself).
65 It is well to clarify that with the expression mental, we intend, given the priorities of the principal
subject, a general definition. This is, in fact, a complex and articulated subject which would greatly the
anticipated limits. In any case, for an in-depth analysis, we refer the reader to the text “ From Intellect to
Intuition ” by Alice A. Bailey.
66 This inversion indicates, as the name itself suggests, another of many Codes. We will speak of this in
another context.
67 It is well to remember that the central personage of the World card is a woman, not an androgyne, as
often proclaimed by researchers. This was one of the greatest errors of the past.
68 As Christ said, “ I am the Alpha and the Omega ”, Bible, Apocalypse chap. 1 verse 8, the God Krishna as
well said, “ Among the letters, I am the A and the O, the beginning and the end .” Bhagavad Gita, chap.10
verse 33.
69 Let us remember that, symbolically, the square represents the earthly and the circle, the celestial .
70 The etymology of the Sanskrit word guru, teacher, master, according to the interpretation of the
Upanisad (14-18), comes from the root gu, which means darkness, and ru, disappear, therefore meaning
He who disperses the darkness, who gives light, illuminates.
71 The two symbols or the two objects may be in different positions. Codes exist which allow us to
understand how to use the Law of Duplicity in an appropriate manner, and according to which rules the
cards must be disposed in order that this rule may be applied. Although this is a subject of maximum
importance, it would take us too far over the limits we have fixed for this text; for this reason we reserve it
a closer and more detailed examination in other work.

“When affirmation and negation came into being, sense (Tao) faded.
After Tao faded, then came one-sided attachments.”
(Chuang Tze [Zhuangzi], IV century B.C.)


Let us return to the example described in the preceding chapter. We supposed

that the two houses of the Maison Diev and the Moon appeared in the reply to a
question regarding, precisely, a house. We have already mentioned the many
questions and the scepticism that these affirmations may create. What would be
the mechanism at the base of this sort of event? Even accepting the hypothesis of
the presence of the rules of interpretation how is it possible that the cards of the
Tarot, which are in any case extracted “casually” after mixing, may truly respond
to this query through the direct use of the same keywords used by the consultant
in formulating the question? This matter deserves a particular reply and a closer
During the last century, the psychologist Karl Gustav Jung, researching the
theme of the collective unconscious, began to concern himself with a subject
particularly interesting to us: meaningful coincidences .What is meant by this
term? Today man is used to thinking of events by applying a cause-and-effect
principle: if he moves a glass off the table and this, falling to the ground breaks,
it seems natural to us that the effect of the breakage is owing to the cause of the
movement made. In general, we may affirm that the philosophical principle at
the basis of our conception of the laws of nature is, precisely, causality: at least,
this is what is hypothesized, often unwittingly and predictably, by a large part of
humanity. Furthermore, modern Western thought, whose evaluation of the world
is founded mainly on a scientific model, calls for that the research into the
solution of any problem to be contingent on the reproducibility of the event in an
experimental manner and according to regularity criteria. In practice, in order to
ascertain the cause which determines a phenomenon, we analyze the
systematicity with which it occurs. We may even overlook the fact that every
experiment imposes upon nature, in order to be carried out, a series of
restrictions, with the obvious result that, whatever result is obtained will be
influenced by a series of conditioning factors. However, the most limiting aspect
of this sort of model is that events that occur only once or a few times are not
even taken into consideration. In certain descriptive natural disciplines, such as
biology and medicine, uniqueness is of the maximum importance: one single
verified example of the possibility of this sort is enough to prove existence. The
predominant factor in this area is the presence of observers, who are able to
convince themselves with their own senses of the existence of a similar entity.
On the contrary, in other scientific disciplines, the relevant criteria are different;
and unique episodes are considered simple deviations from the statistical norm.
Yet, in contrast to predominant Western thought, there exists a quite different
representation of the world. In the East, as is known, there exist various spiritual
traditions, which enjoy a wide consensus: Buddhism, Hinduism, Zen philosophy,
Taoism and so on. These are the principal examples of that which we might
define, on the whole, oriental mysticism. In general, one of the primary
characteristics of these traditions is the attempt to maintain a close connection
between the theoretical-metaphysical matrix and practical everyday life. In fact,
Western man often imagines philosophy or religion as detached from the reality
of daily life, as if the two aspects were of difficult or impossible conciliation.
Suffice it to reflect upon the general attitude of individuals, in whose behaviour
we may glimpse the presence of principles and moral rules but where we
perceive the contemporaneous tendency to keep a distance between the various
dominions, similar to separate and independent compartments. Eastern man, on
the contrary, seeks in daily life a concrete correspondence with abstract and
spiritual aspects. Encouraged in this by the spirit itself of the traditions to which
he belongs, he sees the world as a test bench for the comprehension of the
superior principles pervading it, in which he rediscovers confirmation thanks to
the perception of an overall Harmony.
Although Eastern schools differ among themselves on many points, their
vision is founded on a common awareness: the existence of a mutual relationship
between all events. The essential idea is that the phenomena of the world are
manifestations of a fundamental Unity and are to be interpreted as
interdependent and inseparable parts of this Whole, representing different
expressions of this same ultimate reality. They recognize, therefore, an intrinsic
union among themselves, which thanks to this premise, allows the manifestation
of Harmony and a superior Order. As an example, let us reflect upon a cardinal
concept of Chinese philosophy, that of the Tao . According to Taoism, reality is
conceptually knowable because in all things is hidden something which is in
some way rational. In the Tao Te Ching , one of the most ancient Chinese texts, is
“ The Tao, considered as unchanging, has no name. If a feudal prince or the
king could guard and hold it thus, all would spontaneously submit themselves to
him. The populace would reach equilibrium without the directions of men. Tao
does not act, yet all occur equally everywhere as of its own accord. It is calm, yet
able to predispose. The net of the Heavens is so great, so ample, yet it loses
nothing. 72 ”
There seems to be in reality a harmonizing principle, a sense that regulates,
governs and maintains the world, which Chinese philosophy defines as Tao,
Hinduism as Brahman, Buddhism, Dharma, and so on:
“ That which the soul perceives as absolute essence, is the uniqueness of the
totality of all things, the great All, which encompasses all. 73 ”
It is easy to see that the Eastern and Western models are rather distant between
each other. Yet, perhaps, the differences are not as clear-cut as might be though.
Actually, the hypothesis of a significant Unity and of a self-existent sense is to
be found as well among ancient Western thinkers. Plato, for example, formulated
the existence of images or transcendental models of empirical, tangible things, of
which the things themselves were nothing other than reflections, as if there were
a sense beyond human consciousness, external to man. At the dawn of Christian
theology, Philo of Alexandria, I century BC, wrote:
“ God, intending to adapt the beginning and the end of all created things
together, as being all necessary and dear to one another, made heaven the
beginning, and man the end: the one being the most perfect of incorruptible
things, among those things which are perceptible by the external senses; and the
other, the best of all earthborn and perishable productions--a short-lived heaven
if one were to speak the truth, bearing within himself many star like natures ...
For since the corruptible and the incorruptible, are by nature opposite, he has
allotted the best thing of each species to the beginning and to the end. Heaven,
as I said before, to the beginning, and man to the end. 74 ”

Fig. 1
Anima Mundi

In substance, Philo maintained that the firmament of Heaven is infused into

Man who, including in himself the images of his stellar nature, in his quality of a
tiny part and intention of the work of creation, includes it all. Therefore, it has
always existed, according to a part of antique Western doctrine, reclaimed in
later centuries by other traditions such as medieval alchemy, a “ spiritus mundi ”,
a “ quinta essentia ” which permeates everything, gives form to all, “fills all,
flows in all, unites all and puts all in relation, in order to make of the “ machine
of all the world, a whole... 75 ”
In the past, the interconnection of all things, this essential totality in which the
human Soul would also participate, was not thought of as extravagant but as
something obvious, expected, whereas in modern times, it is generally viewed as
an archaism or a superstition to be carefully avoided. Yet perhaps, something is
changing. In fact, the belief in the fundamental unity of the universe is no longer
an exclusive characteristic of the mystic Eastern experience only of ancient
Western thought, because in our times it appears to be one of the most important
revelations of modern physics. In penetrating the subatomic world, physicists
have observed that the constituents of matter and the basic phenomena in which
they take part are all in reciprocal relationship, interdependent: they cannot
therefore be interpreted as solitary entities but only as an integrated part of the
“ We are led to a new concept of uninterrupted totality which negates the
classical notion of the possibility of analyzing the world in existing parts in a
manner separate and independent (...)
We have reversed the usual classical conception according to which the
independent “elementary parts” of the world are the fundamental reality and the
various systems are merely forms and particular and contingent dispositions of
those parts. On the contrary, we must say that the fundamental reality is the
inseparable quantistic interconnection f the whole universe and the parts which
possess a relatively independent behaviour are only particular and contingent
forms within this whole. 76 ”
We may therefore conclude, not without surprise, that quantistic physics,
ancient Western pre-Christian philosophy, or Taostic and Eastern thought in
general, resemble one another to an extraordinary degree. We glimpse in this a
sort of continuity, a golden thread which runs through both humanistic
knowledge and scientific, making them even nearer and more similar to each
other, To return to the starting point, the cardinal idea of Unity and consequent
Harmony is the fundamental ontological element of that which Jung, speaking of
meaningful consequences, was the first to call the principle of Synchronicity .
What does this mean? Why, in this context, do we speak of meaningful
coincidences, of Synchronicity?

In the Orient, the vision of the world is prevalently centred on a metaphysical

model. Vice versa, in modern Western thought, more space is devoted to the
principle of causality, which for that matter has come to the fore only in the last
two centuries, thanks to the levelling influence of the statistical method and to
the success of the natural sciences. Because of this situation, even beyond the
most recent discoveries in physics, which remain, however, themselves, beyond
common knowledge, the current opinion of collectivity and culture negates any
value, even experimental, to the phenomenon of so-called coincidences. The
motivations are many: on one hand, the widespread conviction of their total
irrationality, their casuality. On the other, the accredited scientific methods which
validate only that which may be statistically repeated according to systematic
laws and parameters. Are there, then, no other possibilities?
As Occidentals, are we obliged to surrender to the imperious domination of our
education with no possibility of reciprocal exchange between the scientific,
empirical and rational component and the mystical Eastern model? As we have
seen, it is science itself, which offers a point of contact, a gigantic door upon a
universe unimagined until some decades ago. Do we wish to lose this
opportunity? Certainly not, and it is for this that it is our intention to proceed in
this direction. However, the scientific model is characterized by precise limits.
Therefore, without a desire to question the validity of a method that has proven
itself key to much research, we ask ourselves, how is it possible to offer a
different and more ample point of view, while holding in consideration a
common viewpoint? For us Westerners, particulars count as single entities; in the
East, they are an integrated part of the general outlook.
Beginning with the supposition that the so-called scientific conception, which
has as a fundamental postulate the theorem of cause and effect, may not be the
only one possible, we ask ourselves how, in a reality observed from a holistic
viewpoint, must we consider those rare and unique facts defined coincidences
which exist and therefore merit investigation and comprehension, although
apparently lacking their own legitimate statistics? Is it possible to hypothesize
the existence of a connection between events of a nature different from a causal
one? Admitting that one exists, we wonder, what interpretative criteria we must
adopt for the sphere of chance, apparently not connected by any cause to the
coincident fact. How to attempt to understand these particular episodes, which
seem to find a precise theoretical base in philosophical and traditional thought?
The term Synchronicity, modern only in its terminological use, derives from the
Greek syn-chrónos , which means together in time . This is the essential trait of the
meaningful coincidence, which is possible precisely because a same sense (that is,
something rational), in a same time , fits both terms.

Fig. 2
Karl Gustav Jung

Jung analyzed this subject thoroughly in his treatise “Synchronicity”, where he

describes the well-known case of a young patient of his in a decisive moment of
her therapy. During a session, the woman was narrating a dream in which she
received the gift of a gold scarab. During the tale, he heard a sound behind him,
as if something were knocking softly against the glass of the window. He opened
the window and took in his hand an insect, which in that moment was trying to
enter the room where the encounter was taking place; it was a Cetonia aurata , a
common rose beetle, at that latitude the insect most similar to the golden beetle.
It was owing to events similar to this that the scholar formulated the postulate:
The terms of a meaningful coincidence are connected by contemporaneousness
and meaning.
In his anecdote, the two events occurred together in time and possessed a clear
and precise meaning for the protagonists of the occurrence, Jung and his patient.
Although a “casual” coinciding would have a statistical improbability of
immeasurable dimensions, as we said before and as is well known, yet the
greater part of individuals in daily life give no value to these facts, regarding
them as happenings of no real importance or considering ingenuous those who
maintain that they possess significance. There are few who stop to wonder about
the coincidences that they encounter. Furthermore, common experience teaches
us that, regarding chance and coincidence, the usual hypothesis is a causal
explanation whose lack of individuation is at the root of the definition of the
event as, precisely, casual .
Our addiction to the principle of cause and effect is so preponderant as to lead
us to place it at the base of everything. Yet, as this axiom has a relative validity
(although the greatest majority of facts is explainable in this manner), there must
exist a “diverse remnant”, either a-causal or whose explanation cannot be derived
directly from the classical relationship cause/effect. Here, in brief are the two
Cause-effect relationship: glass pushed off the table - glass that falls and
Synchronic rapport: dream of a scarab - beetle/scarab which enters the room.
For all the reasons given, if we wished to investigate these episodes, which
today would usually be considered irrational phenomena or mere chance, we
might think that the only path possible might be a very long list of curious cases,
of uniqueness, as that of the tale of the scarab. However, this would lead only to
a rather bizarre collection, perhaps interesting, even fascinating, but certainly
incapable of any greater depth. The point, then, is does there exist basic
interpretative criteria for these manifestations?
The theory of Synchronicity, in its formulation, states that in it is embodied a
connection of significance, subjective and specific for the observer/s, which
appears thanks to simultaneity. He who experiences a coincidence in the first
person feels, even only intuitively, apart from a possible and legitimate surprise,
a particular sensation. It is caused by the fact that the coincidence, especially
when it has been particularly meaningful, produces a very brief interruption, a
sort of disconnection of ordinary consciousness, similar to a tiny shock , which
has the purpose to cause us to reflect upon the reason of this event.
Certainly, for many this passes unobserved. Others instead will ask themselves
about the material reasons: why one has met this particular person, in this precise
place, in that exact moment etc. Yet others, the more observant, will examine the
possible connections with their destiny (the Science of signs) or will reflect upon
the ontological and existential questions regarding Synchronicity in and for
itself, its more arcane and profound significance (the connection with the All).
We speak so at length of this subject because synchronistic phenomena occur
with regularity and frequency in the case of intuitive and “magical” phenomena
such as the Tarot. To be more precise, not only do they occur, but also they are
truly the basis of their functioning . However, as Jung himself reminds us, in this
area the characterizing aspect is that “ the synchronistic phenomena appear
subjectively convincing to the person involved in the practice but prove to be
impossible to formulate statistically, at least for now . 77 ” That is, they possess a
subjective and contemporaneous sense but not a provable objectivity, a
circumstance which enormously limits their possibility of a more scientific
classification. Without presumption, we believe that, regarding this definition, a
new time has arrived. In fact, thanks to the individuation of the Coded Structure of
the Tarot, its specific utilization assumes a profoundly different value. This use
will allow us a new and totally unexpected parallelism, which will be an
exceptional contribution to the demonstrable objectivity of Synchronicity.

In order to understand what we mean to say, we must make an analogy between

the Tarot and quantistic physics. Without letting ourselves be daunted by the
apparent complexity and difficulty of the comparison, let us simply reflect upon
the fact that, in this last, probability is a fundamental aspect, as it governs all
processes and even the existence itself of matter:
“ Subatomic particles do not exist precisely in definite points but rather show
“tendencies to exist” and atomic events do not occur with certainty in precise
moments but show “tendencies to occur. 78 ””
In practice this means that in evaluation of subatomic elements, space and time
are equally subject to probability, as if the particles, according to a series of
factors, had more or less probability of being in a certain point in a certain
This means that we cannot “predict” exactly where and when the particles,
which follow certain laws, will be present. We move, therefore, in a subtle and
complex area: on one hand, we have the (causal) laws of quantistic physics,
which govern the subatomic world; on the other, the “tendency” of the particles,
governed by probability and chance ... What is, if it exists, the boundary?
Regarding the Tarot, from what has been said until now we know that the
Codified Structure is an event of exceptional range for its comprehension and,
more generally, its history. In fact, the Codes and Laws allow an objectivity,
which goes far beyond the interpretative and personal use of the Arcana,
transforming their reading into an exact, rigorous and reliable process. At the
base of this mechanism is, and discloses itself, Synchronicity. When we shuffle
the cards and choose those which will be laid out and used in the consultation, a
manifestation occurs, in the same moment, of two events associated by a nexus,
a significance.
On one side, we have the question of the consultant, on the other the answer of
the Tarot, extrapolated from the objective and pertinent significance of the Coded
Structure , which in this way guarantees, according to the degree of experience of
the tarologist, an obliteration or at least a drastic reduction of subjective
interpretation. Undoubtedly, we cannot affirm that the cards of the Tarot will
present themselves for certain in a definite reading according to our personal and
subjective expectations. 79
As we have seen, not even a science such as quantistic physics, when it must
calculate the position and the moment of subatomic corpuscles, allows itself
such conduct. We may, however, ascertain through empirical experience, that is,
through the interpretations, that the cards show “tendencies to exist” and
“tendencies to occur” according to a criteria of sense which is no longer arbitrary
as in the past, but is disciplined by unequivocal rules (the Laws and Codes) and,
as such, certifiable a priori. These are the only reasons for which we might
change our mental attitude towards this subject. We could no longer affirm, as in
particular do the detractors of an esoteric use of the Tarot that, as the person who
reads it establishes the interpretation, everything is valid and acceptable and,
nothing being demonstrable, there can be no attendibility. On the contrary, we
should consider the question and the answer as united by a synchronistic event.

Fig. 3
Example of disposition of cards during a reading
In this way, we will comprehend that he who interprets the Tarot, applying
precise and pre-determined rules to the cards that present themselves in that
specific reading, allows the emergence of an unmistakeable and provable
meaning in relation to the question asked. In fact, precisely because the Codes
and Laws are established a priori by the comprehension of the Structure of the
Tarot, the interpretation is none other than the practical application of a
theoretical model and is therefore completely certifiable. With this example we
have illustrated a system based upon scientific and causal qualities (Codes and
Laws) associated however with Synchronicity, characterized by apparently casual
criteria. Again...causal or casual? Naturally, it is not our intention to offer a
definitive answer to the question, which exemplifies the modern debate between
the scientific and the Philosophical communities. We would in fact go beyond
the purpose of this work, which intends to offer a new, although antique, point of
view regarding a subject too often ridiculed and little or badly known. To this
consideration is added the certainty that this sort of investigation would be
fruitless with only the means of a purely rationalistic method. What reason could
there be, otherwise, to confront areas such as mysticism and quantistic physics,
worlds which require an approach so different from the ordinary, both beyond
the limits of a reality able to be explored with the common senses? As we know
that the temptation of knowledge is great, we wish to add a reflection. In a
reading of the Tarot, it is possible to observe a fracture in the normal calculation
of possibilities, as those which we have called “meaningful coincidences” occur
constantly, Synchronicity, whose probability of occurrence far exceeds statistics.
This is as much as our reason, observing thanks to objective parameters (Codes
and Laws), may ascertain. However, we will not be completely satisfied. In fact,
even admitting the empirical evidence of these manifestations, we intend to
understand fully, to give an answer to everything, from beginning to end, in a
totally rational manner. This is normal and not to be reproved, as our Cartesian
part is used to this strong dominance. In general, the incessant and irrefutable
certification on the part of reason is that which we seek in any context, even in
those apparently distant from rationality, as is the Tarot. If on the one hand this
attitude is necessary, as it reassures us regarding the authenticity and
concreteness of that which we research, on the other it must not become
Let us be content, then, to objectively take note with objectivity of that which
we observe in the course of a reading and let us fix a limit to investigation into
“ultimate mechanisms”. We need a pause for concentration in order to
understand better the concept of this brief tale.
Once there was a man who wished to climb to the top of the highest mountain.
He prepared everything that might help him on his difficult climb, in particular,
strong, sturdy shoes. The man began his journey and as he ascended, thanked
God that he had fitted himself out with such solid and efficient shoes which, step
after step, were proving to be such a great help and support. However, almost to
the top, just at the final meters, he realized that those shoes, which until then had
been so precious, owing to the particular nature of that area near the top of the
peak, were causing him to slide backwards. He took them off quickly and, with
more grip with his bare feet, reached the top of the mountain, where he wept for
This metaphor, in our opinion, perfectly describes the attitude we should
assume when approaching certain less-known themes. Ascending the
comprehension of the Tarot , our mind, logical and rational, solid and resistant
like a pair of trekking boots, is indispensable for us as it guides us in penetration
of the Coded Structure based on Codes and Laws. When we near the top, where
we may touch the more elevated dimension offered by contact with the Arcana,
at the moment of the answer to the consultant’s question, we may ascertain if
that which we are observing is real or not, if it functions or not. If affirmative,
we will realize that the story suggests to us that we must not continue to ask
ourselves how all this may be true. Let us remember that, if we wish to reach the
top, we must decide to take off our shoes , which now not only are not helping us,
but are actively hindering our climb. Briefly, therefore, we must verify if the
Tarot, in practice, responds according to the rules that we know and if their
mechanism, revealing coherence between two principles, is in agreement with
the criteria that we have learned during our theoretical studies. If and when all
this is ascertained, we do not attempt to go further, as there is the risk of sliding
In fact, beyond any possible explanation, which we have in any case wished to
propose, a part of understanding, here as in any other authentic and traditional
context, is to be accepted in a serene and receptive manner without allowing the
logical-rational component to transform itself from ally into oppressor. If in
effect it will no longer be possible to say, “ no, it is not true, it is all a fantasy ”,
because the Codes and Laws will immediately prove such affirmation wrong, on
the other hand, thanks to obvious obsolescence of the statistics, a new, perhaps
totally unexpected horizon will open before us which, precisely for this reason,
will not always be easy to integrate. Our advice is to accept it with the humility
of one who, as a human being, cannot know and understand all but should,
facing a Mystery, walk again barefoot...
Footnotes - Chapter 5

72 Tao Te Ching , Lao Tsu, chap. 73.

73 A ś vaghosa, The Awakening of Faith , Open Court, Chicago 1900.
74 Filone Alessandrino De Opificio Mundi.
75 Agrippa, De occulta philosophia , chap.14 p. 19.
76 D. Bohm and B. Hiley, On the Intuitive Understanding of Nonlocality as Implied by Quantum Theory in
Foundation of Physics, 1975 p. 96, 102.
77 Karl G. Jung, Sincronicità , Biblioteca Bollati Boringhieri, 2009.
78 Fritjof Capra, Tao della Fisica , Adelphi edizioni 2009, p. 151-152.
79 The more of an expert connoisseur is the tarologist, regarding the functioning mechanisms of the Tarot,
the greater will be his capacity of objective interpretation which, ideally, should be the only evidence .

“ Truth did not come nude into this world, but in symbols and images.”
(Gospel of Philip)


For the Tarot, the Coded Structure is an aspect of fundamental importance. The
Codes and Laws allow an objectivity that greatly exceeds the interpretative and
personal use of the Arcana typical of the past. We reiterate this concept because
the prejudices of the scholars, although not always unmotivated, continue to hold
“ It is obvious that, set before great archetypical figures such as the Emperor,
the Pope, the Lovers, the Chariot, Justice, the Tower, and so on, the multitude of
references, of attributes and reminiscences, becomes impenetrable and any
variable is possible(...). In other words, we must be careful not to consider the
Tarot as we would the symbolic setup of an altarpiece or a celebratory fresco on
the wall of a cathedral or of a princely hall. Certain aberrations of the so-called
“esoterical interpretations”, sometimes taken to such limits of arbitrary
fantastication and beyond, depart from the two (for that matter, contradictory)
principles of the premise of the existence of a meaningful and constant symbolic
value, prompted to the least detail, and by the absence of a precise code by
which the symbolic altarpiece should be inspired: which leaves the one
interpreting free to abandon himself to exegetical virtuosities which range from
the banal to aphilological anomie . 80 ”
In synthesis, the possibility of considering the Tarot as a symbolic system ( an
altarpiece or a fresco ) is contested, owing to the lack of a precise code to which
the symbolism may refer. This lack would cause not only the inevitable
degeneration into “ esoterical ” interpretations, considered personal and
completely unjustified, but also the loss of oneself in critical interpretations with
no foundation. May we be surprised at, or blame severely, those who conduct
this sort of analysis? Evidently not, and the reason is quite simple: if the
researchers did not (or do not) know of the presence of the Codes, how could
they form an opinion different from the one they expressed? Therefore, we may
not be surprised or pained by this error. It would be more serious if, even after
ascertaining the presence of the codified system, one were to still refuse
stubbornly to neither consider nor investigate it.
If the Codes and Laws furnish support which determines the certainty of the
symbolic value and of the meaning of the Tarot, how may we apply all that in
our practice, in the phase in which the Arcana are used for a reading for a
consultant? In order to understand this dynamic, we will use a rather unusual

Fig. 1

The Tarot may be termed a Metaphysical Machine, a sort of cosmic brain. In

this sort of metaphor, actually quite realistic, each single Arcanum is depicted as
a cell of the nervous system, a neuron. The Codes and Laws, which establish a
relationship between the cards, create a dense web of interconnections and may
be imagined as the extensions that connect the neurons to each other. The whole
thus structured, a sort of neuronal web, allows the Tarot intelligence to express
itself, to “speak”, with the tarologist. As we with our intelligence use the letters
of the alphabet in order to converse with other individuals, in the same way the
Tarot uses images (the Arcana) of the Codes and Laws to communicate with us in
a prescribed manner allowing us to comprehend its thought, its message. In any
case, differently than our language made of letters, in this case the alphabet used
is made of illustrations: it is an optical language . What we have just said is not a
simple allegory, because during a reading the mind of the Tarot effectively
manifests itself in the form of statements, actual sentences which, instead of
transmitting sound, are expressed in a graphic manner. This particular Language
is created through two cardinal principles: a Grammar and a Lexicon. If we
imagine studying a foreign language, we may better understand how this is
possible. At the beginning, we are oriented towards assimilating the Grammar,
the rules of structure. Gradually we learn the vocabulary, the terms with which,
precisely because of the rules, we may read, write and communicate wholly
meaningful sentences. Thus, studying the Tarot requires the same method. Let us
see how.


The Codes and Laws, which allow us to understand this sapiential teaching, are
also the principles that establish the manner in which the Tarot expresses that
which it intends to communicate in the course of a consultation. At the moment
of a reading, Grammar is shown to be indispensable; it is the element by which
we may comprehend the manner in which the sentences are regulated and
structured. In fact, knowing a priori the principles, we may be sure to read
correctly that which appears to our eyes, with no interpretative doubts. When we
spoke of the Law of Duplicity and of the example of the house, 81 we were using an
example, which would facilitate the understanding of these affirmations. On that
occasion, we learned that, when a symbol appears twice, it signifies that the
Tarot is “underlining” it because it is of great interest for the question. This is a
principle of grammar, a structural rule: every time that, in two cards near each
other, we find the same symbol or concept, it means that the particular element is
important for the question asked. We may therefore say that, generally speaking,
the Laws are the rules which formalize the logic of the interaction of the cards,
so that the tarologist may orient himself precisely in order to decipher the
sentences, the message-replies of the Tarot.


Still in the same example, the symbol in question, the house, was a keyword .
And a word is part of a... dictionary. What does this mean? The examination of
the illustrations and the analysis of the Codes, lead to the comprehension of
content hidden in the symbolism of the Tarot. Gradually during this process, the
presence of keywords intrinsic to the structure and significance of the various
Arcana, is revealed. Their individuation creates overall, a Lexicon, a vocabulary.
This identification does not happen according to subjective or arbitrary criteria,
but through a precise and rigorous process. The two principal procedures are:

1) Direct observation
2) Decryption.

Fig. 2
The High Priestess

Regarding the first method, simple observation of the images (as the house in the
House of God and the Moon blades) allows us to distinguish immediately a
certain number of keywords. In the second case, instead, esoterical meanings,
internal and secret, of the Tarot are revealed through Codes. These concepts are
keywords as well, which are added to the preceding ones. Here is a
demonstration of the two methods, observation and decryption, of the High
Priestess card .
The woman illustrated in the image holds a book in her hand. From what has
been expressed just recently, it is easy to understand that the book, because it is
visibly observable in an objective manner, is a keyword of the Arcanum. What do
we do with a book? We read or study it. Thus, to read or study, easily deducible
through a logical sense, are other keywords of the card. Up to here, we believe
there will be no objections or difficulty in accepting these considerations, for the
obvious reason that anyone will have been able to identify them, Let us go a step

If we were to say that in the Priestess we find the keyword mother, there might
be objections, and rightly so. In fact, if on the one hand there is something that
allows us to hypothesize some truth to this affirmation, as the illustration is of a
woman, on the other, there are not enough guarantees of this, because not every
woman is a mother, or also because from a Priestess, a religious woman, we do
not expect a maternity. Therefore, in order to demonstrate this concept with
certainty, we must proceed through the analysis of Codes, by decryption. To do
this, let us begin with a postulate:

The Priestess represents a Virgin Mother .

In order to demonstrate this hypothesis, we must go back in time and study the
connection between the Tarot and Egypt, whose antique symbolism is a key
which allows us to proceed in our search for the truth in the area of our
mysterious and complex subject.
Until a few years ago, there were no elements to prove the presence of
Egyptian esoterism in the Tarot. Many had hypothesized a similar connection,
without however being able to prove it. Although the Priestess had already been
compared to Isis by numerous authors, most considered this no more than an
allusion borrowed from the symbolism. To connect the Arcana directly to Egypt
has always been, for the greater part of scholars of the 1900’s, a specious fantasy
and an impassable limit. It is difficult to argue with this position. In a reality
where the Tarot has always been considered a second-rate activity, “the stuff of
witches or charlatans”, there would have been no sense to adding other unproven
elements; it would have only had the effect of giving more credence to that
rumour. Today, however, thanks to the individuation of the Coded Structure , it is
possible to prove scientifically that the Egyptian religion is truly contained in the
Tarot. In this context, even if we offer an explanation limited and relevant only
to the Priestess card, in order to avoid distancing ourselves excessively from our
theme, the demonstration should be enough to open a profound reflection upon
the relationship between Egypt and the Tarot. First, from a strictly historical
point of view, as we have already seen at the beginning of this book, in the early
centuries of the first millennium, there was a close interdependence between this
country and the dawning precepts of Christianity. To be more precise, we may
say that Egyptian doctrine was conserved by those men who settled in the inland
deserts, the Holy Hermits, destined later to become the Fathers of the Christian
Church. This “Egyptian branch” of Christianity concerned itself with
transmitting the teaching contained in the Tarot to Provence, by means of that
order of the Abbey of San Vittore, founded by John Cassian, of which we have
amply spoken. In Egyptian tradition, Isis was one of the most important
divinities, being the goddess of fertility connected to the floods of the Nile. This
yearly overflow, in such an arid and desert region, made it possible for the
people to cultivate the fields made fertile by the river waters. In substance, Isis
was she who guaranteed food and prosperity; it is easy then to understand the
devotion of which she was object: her prestige was such that she was called
“Virgin Mother”. Regarding this, there are many features common to both her
iconography and that of Mary, the Virgin Mother of Christ. It is even reasonable
to suppose that paleo-Christian artists were inspired by the first, in order to
depict the second.
This commonality is seen in the similarity of their delicate and ethereal
features, and in the fact that they both hold an infant, the baby Jesus in the case
of the Madonna and Horus with Isis, etc.

Fig. 3
Isis nursing Horus

However, because of the first real assertion of Christianity during Roman

dominion, under emperors such as Constantine and Theodosius, responsible for
the persecution of members of other religions in Rome and the surrounding
territories, various temples dedicated to Isis were readapted and consecrated as
basilicas for the Virgin Mary and paintings and other works of art featuring the
primitive goddess, modified. Apart from these aspects, it is known that, in sacred
images the divinities, saints or great personages are represented with specific
attributes, which allow them to be recognized. In our case, Isis, portrayed seated
upon a throne, nursing an infant, is also characterized by several particular
elements: veil, horns, book, and torches. What are their meanings and, above all,
what are their connections with the High Priestess of the Tarot? Let us analyze
them one by one.

This is a clear symbol of knowledge; it seems needless to examine it in depth
now, far more complex matters regarding it, which will be analyzed in good
time, given its self-evident value on this level.

Fig. 4
The book

The veil, another of the attributes of the goddess, in esoteric tradition signifies
that which prevents us from seeing the invisible world, that which veils it to our
eyes. Expressed in another way, it is that which makes it impossible for us to
know the mysteries of the symbolic and sacred Temple. The famous veil of the
Priestess, well visible in the card, has much ink to flow, as researchers have
always heard of the comparison with that of Isis. However, have they ever asked,
what is behind this veil?

Fig. 5
The veil

If we observe with the gaze of a child, it should not be difficult to think of the
Priestess as the companion of the Priest (Hierophant). The reasoning is the same
that would be used when thinking of the Empress as consort to the Emperor; in
both cases, they are couples slightly out of the ordinary.

Fig. 6
Couple Hierophant - High Priestess

Thus, if these two personages, as the perfect couple, are husband and wife, we
would hypothesize that they live in the same house, where there are two pillars
to be found also in the card of the Hierophant. We understand that this process of
reasoning may seem somewhat “childish”, but the Codes function precisely in
this manner...Therefore, behind the veil of the Priestess, who lives in the same
dwelling as the Hierophant, there is the same decoration: the two pillars of the

Moreover, we can see part of them on the left side of the card, just under the
veil. This is an affirmation: the Priestess’ veil hides the mysteries of the symbolic
Temple, a fact that coincides precisely with the tradition of the goddess Isis.

Fig. 7
The pillar
Another attribute of the Goddess Isis are the horns. Certainly, parts of the tiara
of the Priestess do not develop normally, vertically, but laterally, and this is not
casual... they resemble horns: evidently, this is to establish a relation with those
of Isis. They metaphorically represent cornucopias, in relationship with fertility
and abundance, of which the goddess, as many legends and numerous historical
finds, was a symbol.

Fig. 8
The horns


Fig. 9
The torches

The participants in certain rituals dedicated to the goddess carried two torches,
called the torches of Isis. In the Arcanum of the Priestess, only these are lacking,
to make everything coincide perfectly. Their existence, in fact, would reinforce
the similarity of identity between the Priestess and Isis and at the same time
would confirm the existence of the Codes. In order to find them, we note the fact
that in this case as well, two elements were easier to discover, the book and the
veil; the third was somewhat more hidden but in any case identifiable, the horns;
the fourth is more difficult still... In fact, to find the torches, we must... turn the
card upside down! And here they appear, hidden in the border of the veil, in the
yellow and red, exactly like the flames...

Fig. 10
The egg

For another confirmation of the maternity of the Priestess, perhaps superfluous

after the evidence already given, we also discover the presence of an egg on the
right of the card. This symbol further proves a relationship with the cult of the
Virgin Mother. In fact, in the tradition of the Easter egg, among other things
originally an Egyptian tradition, the egg symbolized fecundity, maternity. For the
Initiated, it represented the cosmic egg, the Myth of Origins par excellence, that
of the creation of the Universe. Therefore, the egg in the card affirms that there
is undoubtedly a true connection between the Mother and the Priestess. In order
to avoid the slightest doubt it is well to note that we should not be surprised if
certain concepts are not indicated by a more explicit symbolism. In this case, for
example, it would not have been suitable to expect to find in the Priestess, the
iconography of the Virgin Isis holding the baby. The reason is simple: if all had
been so explicit, what need might we have had of the Codes? The Coded
Structure, instead, has an essential role in the story of the Tarot because it has
preserved the entirety and inalterability of the teaching contained in them. This
last, in fact, even if dispersed in the form of scattered symbols in many different
decks, has been neither cancelled nor altered, precisely thanks to the presence of
the Codes, which have allowed its safeguarding over the course of the epochs.
To return to the Priestess, in conclusion, having demonstrated the
correspondence with Isis, we may say that the female figure depicted is truly a
Great Mother. This is why, at this point, we may use for this card, including its
particularity, the keyword mother . It is through this analysis, using the concepts
obtainable from the observation of the Arcana, that we build the great Lexicon of
the Tarot. We must repeat an essential point of this reasoning: keywords are not
applied only to esoterical or symbolical matters in interpretation, but may be
used in any context. With respect to the example, the term “mother” is
completely versatile and flexible and may be used for any subject, even the most
concrete, simple and usual. Furthermore, this dictionary has great force and
solidity. In fact, when meanings are deduced from observation, they are
unmistakable; in the same way, when they are derived from the Codes, it is as if
they were demonstrated through mathematical theorems, therefore proving to be
perfectly logical, rational and objectifiable. The advantage of the Coded Structure
and of the esoterical foundation consists above all in the certainty that it offers,
to tarologist and consultant, with regard to the reading. During the consultation,
the keywords are literally observable or extractable, so that when the tarologist
makes certain affirmations, he is supported by a precise graphic. This also has
the function to reconfirm that we are not dealing with a subjective interpretation
but with an effective reply of the Tarot. This aspect is not at all without
relevance. First of all, thanks to it, the tarologist is in a certain way
“unburdened”, becoming a simple go-between, if possible objective (if he has
studied well the language of the Arcana and has practiced for some time), of a
message not his. Furthermore, the consultant is assured of the fact that this
message, being non-subjective, is truly something that originates in a superior
dimension. The Tarot speaks and expresses itself; it is truly a Language of
Images. The combination of the rules, together with the keywords, allows the
Tarot to construct the sentences that the tarologist, having studied this “foreign”
language, can truly read and translate for the consultant :

Codes and Laws (Grammar) + key words (Lexicon) = (optical) Language.

Therefore, at a certain level of comprehension, the Arcana may be considered

as letters of a slightly particular alphabet, which, through the presence of precise
rules, “mixed” among themselves, create actual statements. Sacred languages
such as Sanskrit or Hebrew, and their relative essential alphabets, participate,
according to their modality and on their level, in a primordial synthesis that is at
the same time their reason for being and their supreme objective. The same
principle is valid for the Tarot: it is a language whose purpose is to put man in
communication with the world of the Spirit, with no intermediary. The tarologist,
in carrying out his work with precision and sacredness, does nothing else than
literally read the Tarot, offering the consultant that which he sees written, without
subjectivity. Becoming transparent, invisible, in a great exercise of humility and
awareness, he allows the dialogue to take place between the consultant and the
Tarot , merely helping the consultant to understand the communication. His role
is comparable to that of a talented translator, whose task is not to interpret that
which he translates but simply to correctly refer the content.

We must now research another aspect of great interest. What does it mean, when
we affirm that the images of the Tarot are Archetypes? What is an Archetype?
Etymologically the term comes from the Greek archètypon , composed of archè
(archaic, primitive) and typos (type, model): the Archetype is thus a primitive
model. In what sense? The ancient philosophers, such as Philo of Alexandria,
Irenaeus, Dionysius the Areopagite, already spoke of Archetypes. Here, for
example, is what Socrates said:
“ Before being born on this earth, we contemplated the eternal Archetypes of
thought, cultivating a latent memory of them, and it is that which allows us to
find them once again. These Archetypes are the nourishment of creative thought,
of the Spirit which lives in the eternal world, without time. 82 ”
In the last century, with the development of psychology, new interest has been
awakened in this subject. Jung in particular, taking up the theme again, wrote
regarding it:
“ The Archetype is at the foundation, not only of the psyche, but of Matter and
the Spirit and symbolizes the mysterious conjunction of all three. These
Archetypes are instinctual, indistinct, nebulous factors. We find them in the
psychic field but also in non-psychic circumstances and they are rich with
fascinating mystery and sacredness. We may say that distance has no effect on
the phenomena of the Archetypes, thus they are not matter, nor force, nor energy
(...). The structure of the collective unconscious is formed of Archetypes. We
must suppose that in the unconscious exists something similar to a consciousness
a priori, free from any causal base. We may speak of a “creatio ex nihilo”, a
creative act inexplicable in causal terms. The objective fact coincides with the
appearance of the Archetype; it does not follow it. This knowledge a priori, this
unconscious pre-science, this representation by simulacra, by subjectless
images, by Archetypes, gives the“ligamentum animae et corporis, la quinta
essentia:” the Spirit which penetrates everything and puts everything in relation,
in order to make of the machine of the whole world, a unity. Things of the Spirit
have a tendency to create something similar to themselves, to bring to the light
correspondences and meaningful coincidences. (...) Synchronicity consists of
homogeneities, which seem casual. Its “tertium comparationis” is based on the
Archetypes. I confess: the Archetype appears to me in a nebulous manner. It is
matter without form; it is form without matter. The Archetype transmits nothing,
but is. We might call the Archetypes spiritual forms or rather categories of
forms, categories not of reason but of the imagination. The surprising
parallelism of such forms and of the ideas which they express, causes me to think
of a resemblance of human thought in all times and all places. The primitive
structural components of the psyche have the same surprising uniformity as
those of matter and bodies. 83 ”
According to this description, the Archetypes are comparable to the “bricks”
which form the collective unconscious: of that part of us whose contents are
connected to the historical-cultural patrimony of the whole of humanity. This
form of unconscious, which connects to our immediate consciousness of a
personal nature, is, in fact, a common, shared and universal psychic system,
identical in all men. It does not develop individually but is inherited and consists
in pre-existent structures, the Archetypes, precisely, which may become
conscious when they determine the profile of certain psychic contents.
Being a matter of a previous form with respect to the unconscious, their origin
is not explicable by a principle of causal origin. It would regard primary
complexes whose entireity would constitute in the individual an innate
consciousness, an unconscious pre-science , which would be at the base of the
harmonious unity and communication between man and his universe. We might
describe the Archetypes as a connecting bridge between humanity, the world of
matter, and that of the Soul; that is, the terrestrial and the celestial parts
coexisting in each of us. For this reason Jung hypothesized that the Archetypes
were spiritual forms or categories of forms which, being present in all
individuals notwithstanding their epoch or location, go beyond space and time.
Apart from the obvious differences, we notice a sort of parallelism between these
primitive images and the eternal Ideas of Plato, which were for the philosopher,
eternal and immutable structures reaching back to a period during which the
consciousness could not yet think but only perceive.
Jung adds, “ The Archetypes are pre-rational organs of the psyche, inherited
and inheritable basic structures, at first without specific content, which appear
at first in personal life where experiences through the senses are based precisely
on these Archetypes. They are organs of thought which, as are organs of the
body, are functional, quite numerous but able to be reduced in number to only a
few by elimination of duplicates . 84 ”

The theoretical and ideal content of the Archetype reveals itself in us through
practical experience, that is, the Archetype acquires tangibility and concreteness
when it is experienced, lived , in daily life. Thus, in order to truly understand an
Archetype, which expresses a part of ourselves, we must live it, be permeated by
it. On the whole, then, without entering into more specialistic considerations,
suffice it that we understand that the Archetype is a manifestation of the
collective unconscious, an ancient basic psychic structure, an organ of thought in
which the consciousness participates through a process of physical, psycho-
sensorial experience. In many of his works, Jung entered into the study and
exposition of the various archetypical themes recurrent in different cultures of
humanity. He referred to the onirical products of the single individual, describing
the many images of this universe, fruit of the deposit of knowledge-generating
experiences over time: the Divine Child, the Wise Old Man, the Great Mother,
the Hero, the Rascal (the Joker), etc.
Returning to the world of the Tarot, the association with the Arcana is obvious:
the Icons of the Tarot are, in fact, Archetypes!
On the strength of such clear evidence, many authors, such as Jung, became
interested in their analysis, seeing them as primitive images, Archetypes, of our
collective unconscious. The Tarot-Archetypes have been evaluated as living
forces with which individuals must compare themselves in order to continue
their own interior evolution. As man, for his physiological functions, is
characterized by a model, a form that makes him specifically a man, at the same
time the Archetypes represent the biological organization of our psychic
mechanism. The more we understand them, the more we participate in their life
and our life, comprehending the deepest aspects of ourselves and of our eternal
and atemporal part, which they express. For this reason, to study a single
Arcanum means to enter into its world but also to enter into ourselves. When we
are attracted or repulsed by a particular image of the Tarot, regarding for that
matter two opposite states which express, on a certain level, the same condition,
it means that we must learn something of and from that Archetype/Arcanum,
that is, of and from that part of ourselves which coincides with it.
Unfortunately, from this psychological and scientific research during the
1900’s, because of cartomancy, a gradually worsening second-rate use of the
Tarot developed, with regard to this function. In fact, the style of this practice
was set supposing that to interpret it meant above all to use the Tarot as
Archetypes. Consequently, all methods of interpretation adapted themselves to
this logic, inserting and adding further divinatory techniques (an example is the
common association Tarot-astrology). In order to understand in detail the sense
of “what happened”, we should know, at least superficially, the functioning of
the methods of reading used by cartomancers to “read the future.”

There are countless systems used for consultation of the Tarot 85 but its in-depth
analysis is certainly not the purpose of this text. We will limit ourselves then to
the description of one example: the “Simple Cross”. Without describing the
diverse varieties, we may say that, the 22 Arcana having been shuffled, the cards
are laid out in the following manner:
1) The First symbolizes conditions favourable for the consultant.
2) The Second symbolizes adverse conditions.
3) The Third represents the situation at the moment of the question.
4) The Fourth is a prediction of the final result.
5) The Fifth represents the counsel of the Tarot.
Fig. 11
The Simple Cross

Without elaborating, the essential point is that in this, as in other systems of

interpretation, the cards of the Tarot are treated exclusively as Archetypes,
models of behaviour. Owing to this particular method of utilization, they are
isolated and static, with no connection among them. Moreover, because of the
limits of the method itself, in which the meaning of the position of the cards is
established a priori and thus predetermined, their sense of separation is further
exasperated. In effect, divided one from another, every Archetype lives in its
world and does not interact with the others: in this way, the cards “do not speak
to each other”. In the method taken under consideration, for example, before the
card is extracted we know already that when it is placed in the first position, it
represents something favourable; in the second, something contrary; and so on.
This means that the reading, the interpretation, is established exclusively by the
presumed value of the Arcana-Archetypes and by the hypothetical meaning of
the positioning of the spread.

Interpretation = Presumed archetypical value + hypothetical significance of


We voluntarily use the adjectives presumed and hypothetical for a simple

reason. Without knowledge of the codes, how is it possible to establish the true
esoterical sense of the Arcana and the correct manner to lay them out in the
spread? From where do these criteria come? From intuition, or from the theories
of some author? How is the correctness of this or other methods proved? Is it
possible to be sure of its legitimacy? To these questions unfortunately, in
desiring to maintain a scientific approach, it is impossible to give a positive
answer as nothing guarantees that it is a valid and rigorous system. In fact, not
by chance, no real uniformity of judgement exists on the part of experts or
researchers, let alone a univocal method of interpretation. To understand what
we mean, the following reasoning will suffice. When wishing to learn to
interpret the Tarot, we buy a book to learn the meaning of its symbols; at the
same time, we study a certain method. All of this, generally, is the product of the
research of an expert. If we were to buy another book, quite probably we would
find other meanings and another method. Omitting the fact that we are often
confused by the profound differences of interpretation of the single Arcana
suggested by the various texts, and ending up trusting our own personal
capacities for interpretation, we may ask ourselves: if there are all these
differences, which may sanction an effective legitimacy of the meanings of the
Tarot and the rules for reading them? The answer is clear: no author, however
brilliant, has this right. Indeed, we may say that from this method may be
obtained only a totally subjective interpretation.
The reasons are many: above all, the meaning of the Tarot is deduced
arbitrarily; furthermore, the method is chosen (or, indeed, created) by the
researcher/esoterist/cartomancer according to his own personal inclinations, or in
conformity with his own personal gifts of intuition or psychic perception, proven
or professed as they may be. The limits of all these methods, which certainly
have their own reduced validity, are therefore evident. How is it possible to offer
the consultant the certainty of a personal intuition? Moreover, how could a
neophyte who wished to, learn such a system, so tied to such extraordinary and
individual capacities? All this would be tantamount to relegating the Tarot to
quite a narrow niche. Fortunately, it is not thus: it is possible for all to read it, the
Tarot is accessible to all, not an exclusive prerogative of mediums! Knowing the
Coded Structure, we discover that not only is the meaning of the Icons totally
objective, but also the Method of Interpretation is perfectly regulated. Let us see
in which way. Let us imagine buying a technological object, such as a television
or a computer. We of course expect to find an instruction manual in the box as
well. For the Tarot, the principle is the same because inside its system of
symbols, of Codes and Laws, there exists a sort of user’s manual, which
illustrates how to use them in a completely disciplined manner. Therefore, there
does not exist a regulamentation only for their meaning (Grammar and Lexicon)
but also for that which concerns their precise disposition in the course of the
reading. It is what might be called the Syntax of the Tarot.


To call this Method “Syntactic” is a meditated choice. Skimming the dictionary,
we discover that it comes from syntássein, which means, “to arrange according
to an order”. The great novelty with respect to any other system of interpretation
is this: the Codes and Laws establish the rules for the correct collocation of the
cards! The result is a precise system which has been defined, not by the arbitrary
choice of an author, but by the Tarot itself...In this method, whose rules of
application will be the subject of a further examination, the fundamental
characteristics are dynamism and interactivity, prerogatives which influence a
use not only archetypical of the Tarot. In many Major Arcana, as in part of the
Minor (we refer to the Honours, the Page, Queen, King and Knight), we find
illustrated personages, human figures. Why, then, should we not use this
particularity in the reading?

Let us reconsider the case proposed at the beginning of the chapter, in which
the High Priestess was presented as the Great Mother, the maternal Archetype;
and if, apart from this function, she were an actual personage, a flesh and bone
mother? Let us consider an example and imagine that the two Arcana, the
Hierophant and the High Priestess, also represent a man and a woman who,
forming a couple, might also be a father and a mother. Therefore, they would
become actual, concrete protagonists of the particular situation explored in the
question. 86 They would be the actors of a scene of real life: two spouses who
regard each other and are interested in each other.

Fig. 12
The couple gazing at each other

In this way would be created a true representation of the scenario of life

analyzed with regard to the answer to the question asked, because the
Hierophant and the Priestess would symbolize actual protagonists. In order to
better comprehend this aspect, let us imagine that the situation described
included the card of the Hierophant reversed:

Fig. 13
The reversed Spouse

In this case, the man would have a problem: 87 in fact, he is not gazing towards,
thus he is not thinking of, his wife. Why? What is he thinking of? To discover
this, we lay out another card just on the side:

Fig. 14
The man (Hierophant) gazes at the Star

The Hierophant regards, is interested in, the Star. If we were to consider the
Tarot on an exclusively archetypical level, we might say that, as the Star
represents the energy of the cosmos, harmony with the celestial world, the
influence of the heavenly bodies etc, the Hierophant is interested in these
Frankly, this seems rather unconvincing... On the plane of personages, instead,
who might the Star be? It is a feminine figure...you see...? The Hierophant may
therefore be thinking of another woman, perhaps a daughter... (No need to be
malicious!) 88 Here is that which constitutes the absolute simplicity and greatness
of this Method:

the cards interact and, based on the question, manifest the dynamics of
relationship, thought and emotion of the various personages of that fragment of
story told by the Tarot, which is nothing else than the life of the consultant.
For one who asks a question, then, it is as if he finds, spread out and developed
before his eyes, his own reality, described through the Arcana. It is a sort of
theatricalization in which the consultant may analyze, in a detached and
objective manner, that specific situation. It is somewhat like observing the
problem of a friend from the outside because, not being involved, we may view
the situation with serenity. The friend, directly involved, cannot have the same
lucidity. We will have a similar sensation observing that certain problem of ours,
delineated by the Tarot: we will see it in its entirety and with an external,
objective eye. This is something phenomenal and incredibly rich, not only if
compared to the relative poverty of the other systems but in an absolute sense.
This method is in constant and total evolution, continual movement. At the same
time, as the questions are different every time, each requires, in order to be fully
“narrated”, a different number of cards. This number will not be chosen a prìori
(as with other methods), but will derive, thanks to the simple application of the
rules codified by the Tarot, from the necessities of description of the situation
and the quantity of images needed in order to formulate, in a thorough manner,
the answer to the question asked. Therefore, to utilize the Tarot also as
personages means to open up unimaginable scenarios. In this way, it will be
possible to investigate, concretely and with precision, all levels: affective,
family, work, or other, obtaining every time a vision extraordinarily close to
reality. We will let a more articulated and detailed example, which we propose in
the next chapter, describe what we have maintained up until now.
Footnotes - Chapter 6

80 Franco Cardini, professor of Medieval History at the Universe of Florence, in the book Il Castello dei
Tarocchi , p 50, Scarabeo edition, 2010.
81 Cf. Chapter 4.
82 From the volume Archetipi by Mario Pincherle, Macro Editions, 2000 .
83 Ibidem.
84 Ibidem.
85 The “3 Cards”, the “Celtic Cross”, the “Twelve Houses of the Zodiac” and many others .
86 We are hypothesizing any query made by a consultant in which a pair of parents might have a role.
87 When a card is reversed it signifies a block for that Archetype and for the personage represented: it is
one of the codified rules of the Tarot, the Law of Opportunity (Cf. Chapter 7).
88 The Star as well looks, is interested, in something or someone else. However, for greater simplicity, for
the moment we will avoid further supposition.

“In the presence of one who is perfectly innocuous, all hostility ceases.”
(Sutra Yoga of Patanjali)


In the previous chapter we introduced the concept of the Traditional Syntactic

Method , the particular system that allows regulate disposition of the Arcana
during interpretation. What are the principles at the basis of this procedure?
They are two important Laws which, although certain modern authors have
claimed them as a personal discovery, it is correct to attribute to the decryption
system of Nicolas Conver.
Let us observe again the figures of the Tarot and analyze in detail the first of
these rules the Law of Contemplation.

Fig. 1
The 3x7 Diagram

The cards’ figures possess heterogeneous gazes: some to the left, some to the
right, others straight ahead. What may we deduce from this? Researchers have
not thought this aspect to be relevant, supposing the direction of the face to
depend upon the whim and will of the engraver. In thousands of decks, in fact,
the cards’ protagonists are oriented in different ways: in one deck the Empress
gazes left, in another ahead, in still another to the right, and so forth. This has led
to a non-realization of the significance of the direction of the gaze, when
actually, it is essential and its meaning codified.

Fig. 2
Empress Crowley Tarot

Fig. 3
3 Empress Rider-Waite Tarot

Fig. 4
Empress Lombardi Della Rocca Tarot

The possibility to interpret what looking left or right implicates, is not
connected to the writing, as some have hypothesized, because this criteria does
not possess a universal validity (suffice it to consider the different ways of
writing of certain languages, such as Hebrew or Arabic). The key is the Fool,
which, containing all the explanatory Codes, allows the discovery of the answer.
We have already mentioned 89 that the lack of a number was not enough to suggest
to researchers that this figure might possess a particular status with respect to the
others. The Major Arcana were considered a unitary whole composed of 22
blades, in the 1800’s even improperly associated with the 22 letters of the
Hebrew alphabet. 90 However, in line with the principle “ Sicut in caelo et in terra
(As in Heaven, so on Earth) 91 , the Fool, as does the Joker of playing cards, has a
special function and a unique role. Let us observe it with attention.

Fig. 5
The Fool

The protagonist, a pilgrim, moves from left to right. It is the only personage of
the Tarot that walks , as no other icon carries this message. In fact, for example,
we might maintain that the Wheel or the Chariot show movement as much as the
XIII Arcanum or the Hermit, which might also mislead us. Actually, this would
be an error, as in the first two no graphic movement is expressed but rather the
conceptual idea, which is different; in the same manner, the XIII Arcanum who
scythes the grass moves his trunk but not his feet while the Hermit, gazing
backwards, is still, as suggested by his staff perpendicular to the ground.

Fig. 6
The Chariot

Fig. 7
The Wheel of Fortune

Fig. 8
The Hermit

Fig. 9
The XIII Arcanum

The Fool, then, is not only the only personage who moves forward but is the
only figure which, in movement, looks towards the sky: he moves from left to
right and from low to high. For these prerogatives, he is to be considered the
Spatial Reference for decoding the direction of the gaze.

Fig. 10
Gaze of the Fool

Fig. 11
Wand of the Fool

In confirmation of this reasoning, we may note another particular. The raised

eyes, in truth, are fixed on the Zodiac (the World, the goal), the circle of 12
constellations. At the same time, the red staff is inclined 30°, exactly the number
of degrees which separate the 360° of the circle, of Space, in 12 equal parts: the
angle of the staff, therefore, is a further affirmation of the Fool-Space
relationship. In practice, if the Coded Structure were expressed in mathematical
form, this Arcanum would be the origin (0, 0) of a Cartesian plan.

Fig. 12
Coordinates of Space

As movement in Space is closely tied to Time, the Fool travels from the past,
the part of the road at his back, towards the future, the part before him. Again,
the inclination of the staff comes to our aid, as Time also is divided into 12 parts
of 30 degrees each: day, with its 12 hours of the clock, and year, with its 12
months. 92 In this way, the movement of the Fool also symbolizes Temporal
Reference and the card thus describes Past, Present, and Future .

Fig. 13
Fool and Time

As through the blades is revealed the reason for the space-time orientation, we
are able to deduce the position of the 3x7 Diagram (from left to right and from
low to high), as well as that of the first three cards at the beginning of the
reading, which, in full agreement with the Codes, indicate the Past, Present, and
Future of the question asked.

Fig. 14
Card of the Past

Fig. 15
Card of the Present

Fig. 16
Card of the Future

Upon this disposition, will gradually be developed the entire dynamic of the
Traditional Syntactic Method, which will allow us to add the other cards to
complete the reading according to the necessities of the question.
Now, once this key of decryption is comprehended, it is easier to understand
the description of the Law of Contemplation . The preliminary requisite is the gaze
of a personage indicates his thought, that of which he is thinking.

Gaze = Thought

This understood, it is evident that, if the gaze is towards the left, thought is of
the past; while if it is towards the right, thought is of the future. Observe also
that, in the case of a face facing forward 93 and a straight-ahead gaze, the Law
does not apply. Every Arcanum displaying this peculiarity is called an
Observation Card.

Gaze to the left = Past

Gaze to the right = Future

Fig. 17
Gaze towards the Past

Fig. 18
Gaze towards the Future

Once established the direction of the gaze-thought, how may we guess its
content? Actually, it is quite easy, as it is represented by the context of the card
next to it, which indicates the subject or the object, according to chance or
interest, placed in the correct temporal collocation. This condition, a potential
prerogative of each Arcanum, is termed Observed Card . In the following
example, the content of the thought of the Hierophant, the gaze of the personage,
is the House of God, which is in this case, precisely, the Observed Card.

Fig. 19
The House of God is an Observed Card

In synthesis, we have:
Observation Card = he who thinks, the subject
Observed Card = content of the thought, the object.

The reason for the name given to this Law should be clear: according to the
dictionary, “to contemplate”, means at the same time, to observe, to think, to fix
one’s attention on an object perceived principally by the intellect, to concentrate
on something. However, if the personage of the Observed Card itself gazes in a
certain direction, this also must be considered. In order to understand this
concept, let us reconsider the example proposed in the preceding chapter: the
Hierophant observes in the direction of the Priestess, that is, he thinks of the
Priestess (his wife). At the same time, the Priestess also looks in the
Hierophant’s direction, she thinks of him. Both cards gaze and, at the same time,
are the content of thought. Therefore, the Observed Card and the Observation
Card may coincide, simultaneously conserving various functions according to the
plane of interpretation.

Fig. 20
The two cards gaze at each other

This is the dynamic of the Law of Contemplation : The gaze is focused on

another card, which represents the content of its thought. It is an easy and
intuitive dynamic, even if it may not seem to be. Thus, when during a reading
another card is extracted, with a personage whose gaze is directed externally, in
order to determine the content of this thought we must always place another
Arcanum by its side, on the right or left. In the example of the preceding chapter,
as the Hierophant was reversed, (a condition which implicates in any case the
presence of the gaze, which simply changes direction), it was necessary to place
a card beside it, the Star, which represented the content of the Hierophant’s

Fig. 21
The Hierophant gazes at the Star

However, this Arcanum as well possessed a gaze...First, for simplicity’s sake,

we decided not to proceed. Now, in order to follow the rules correctly, as in a
true consultation, we must place another card in order to individuate the object
or the person of interest. Let us hypothesize that we extract the Lover; and let us
evaluate the presentation of this new situation.

Fig. 22
The Star gazes at the Lover
In this case we find the woman who gazes in the direction of love, the Lover, in
which is illustrated a man disputed between two women...We will avoid
elaborating on the meaning, as without a precise question it would not be
In any case, we must declare the sequence closed, as no personage has a gaze
turned outward. Consequently, this example also gives us the manner to sum up
what we have already mentioned: in the Law of Contemplation , in order to place
a card beside another Arcanum, another condition is obligatory: not only must the
gaze of the personage be directed towards right or left, but must also exit the
card, direct itself externally. In fact, as in Arcanum VI all eyes are oriented
internally and the subjects look at each other, it is as if the card “does not look.”

Fig. 23
The gazes are “inside” the card

This Law makes a conspicuous contribution to the interpretation of the Tarot. It

is to all effects, as it is with the Law of Duplicity, one of the simplest and most
potent rules. To understand the reason, suffice it to reflect on the fact that, in this
way, it is possible to know the thoughts of the illustrated personages, which are
in effect the interests of the “flesh-and-bone” protagonists (men and women) and
also if they represent Archetypes. It is a further evolution to which we refer for
the sake of completeness but that, owing to its particular complexity, we will
discuss separately in a different context.

A second and fundamental rule which disciplines the disposition of the cards,
the Syntax, during a practical reading, is the Law of Opportunity ( or of Resolution
). In this case, as well we find an objective rule. In order to understand its
mechanism, it is necessary first to consider one point: if we hypothesize the
existence of a solution-principle, this must necessarily be tied to a problem-
principle. To verify this idea, let us observe again the 3x7 Diagram:

Fig. 24
The 3x7 Diagram

Among all the cards, there is one whose position is completely different
compared to the others: the Hanged Man. It is the only Arcanum in which the
figure is physiologically reversed, that is, when the card is placed correctly as
are the others, with the number above, the personage is actually upside down.
We have already mentioned this; but simple observation of the iconography is
enough to see that the man, bound to a sort of gallows (which brings to mind
hanging, as is suggested by the many Tarot decks that copy this idea), is in a
condition of immobility and impotence, a problematic state. This allows us to
suppose that, as in the Tarot all is codified, a card “normally” reversed, which
symbolizes a problem, suggests that this position has a special significance
related to the concept of difficulty. Therefore, in the course of the reading we
must consider that a card extracted in a reverse position indicates a problem, an
obstacle for that personage or that Archetype:

Reversed Position -- Problem Card

This position is objectively disciplined and reminds us that we must interpret

the cards in both positions. To develop a reading with only right side up cards
would be legitimate but incomplete, as extraction may occur in either direction.
What, then, should be our action in the case of a reversed card? The answer,
according to the Law of Contemplation , is simple and powerful. As in everyday
life, in order to solve a problem, we must find a solution, thus in the Tarot we
need to extract another card and place it above, “in the sky of”, the reversed one,
to be able to resolve the problem. In the example, to allow the Hierophant to be
right side up, restoring him to his natural condition, we must place a card above
him, the Opportunity (or Resolution) Card :

The Opportunity Card is placed above the Problem Card .

Fig. 25
Opportunity Card

As the subject is of extreme interest, we will open a brief parenthesis.

As is known to the many lovers of the Tarot, the cards are principally used
today for divination, predicting the future. Passing over the great general
problems regarding this utilization, of which we will speak later, we wish to
concentrate on one of the more evident difficulties relevant to this practice. To
exemplify it, we will use an anecdote.
One day, during a course, one of the participants told of a consultation with a
cartomancer of his city. The man narrated that, at the end of the reading, the
woman, somewhat troubled, wrote a brief message on a scrap of paper and gave
it to him sealed, telling him to read it only after he had arrived home. Taking his
leave of the fortune-teller, the man departed, respecting her instructions. On his
way home, however, he was involved in a traffic accident in which, although the
drivers were not injured, the vehicles were badly damaged. Some days later,
having gotten over the residual shock, he remembered the small note, which he
found and read, finding, amazed, the following words: “ Imminent danger with
the auto ”. What had happened? The woman had foreseen the event without
being able to intervene in order to avoid it. What does this teach us?
The tale emphasizes one of the greatest limits that have always characterized
cartomancy: the impossibility to offer solutions to problems that may arise
during a reading. It is not unusual to hear stories of individuals who,
approaching a study of the Tarot, have become quite frightened. Why? Usually
the triggering factor consists in having found themselves facing a negative
situation before which they feel such a sense of impotence and inevitability, to
find themselves at the point at which they decide never again to use the Arcana.
This behaviour is not to be blamed, on the contrary. How may we use an
instrument which leaves us so passive and incapable of answering in the face of
certain events? What sense is there in being able to predict them? Fortunately, it
is not thus; as, knowing the true essence of the Tarot, we discover that it offers
solutions that the consultant may apply (in accordance with his own free will),
avoiding that attitude of inevitability and resignation typical of a fatalistic point
of view. In the case of our tale, if the cartomancer had known the Law of
Opportunity , facing the danger of an accident she would have been able to
suggest the manner, indicated by the Tarot, to avoid the danger.
This circumstance would have given inestimable value to the consultation. We
wish to emphasize our own point of view with this last, obvious, reflection,
hoping that no extremistic thinker will raise his voice, opposing divination in all
its forms, preferring bad luck to good. In another chapter we will examine this
subject again more vastly and in detail. In any case, we wish to emphasize up
front that the Tarot, as much as any other instrument of aid and support, is able
to give precious help, equal to that offered by modern Science. The great
difference is that, in the case of the Icons, the counsel received originates from a
marvellous extra-ordinary Intelligence of infinite capacities! In our opinion,
then, one of the enormous advantages deriving from the discovery of the Coded
Structure is precisely the individuation of this Law of Opportunity whose
application RADICALLY changes the approach to the reading, even to the
“forecasted” one.

At this point, it seems indispensable to describe the dynamic of an actual

proper reading, in order to allow the reader a more realistic and detailed
comprehension than is possible during practice. In order for our exposition to be
clear, we must be allowed some preliminary considerations. Usually, at least in
popular iconography, a Tarot consultation occurs thus: a woman (or less
frequently a man, but it makes no difference), dressed as a gypsy, with a turban
and a crystal ball, cards on the table, declaims the future to the interlocutor... In
fact, according to the collective imagination, to read the Tarot means to go to
someone who tells us something about ourselves or about our future. We do not
imagine at all that we will need to answer questions, but only that we will
receive answers...
This is a great error: in the Science of the Tarot, the fundamental requisite is
that the tarologist will know the correct questions to ask the consultant . Actually,
the reading is a series of targeted questions which allows the interpreter of the
Tarot to individuate the problem (or problems) and the relative solutions or
answers. In this discipline, to ask does not mean to not know; it does not mean to
wish to understand, or worse, to wheedle out, facts, in order to avoid an
embarrassing silence or because we find nothing to say. To ask questions has
quite another significance as it allows us to e xclude certain possibilities not
pertinent to the context . In fact, every Tarot reading offers as many combinations
as possible for the extracted cards, which derive from the precise “linguistic”
rules of which we have often spoken. The tarologist’s task, possible only thanks
to the interview, is to discard from the limited range of hypotheses, those which
are not appropriate.
Acting in this manner, with certain questions, whose number also depends on
the degree of experience of the professional, the consultant will be asked well-
aimed and completely relevant questions with respect to his own query. This will
be, for him, a subject of deep reflection. Let us attempt to describe the
development of a reading held by a competent tarologist, requested by a
consultant in true and deep need of help.
He must confide nothing more than the initial question (and possible denials to
certain questions for greater clarity), and immediately the queries of the
tarologist will be seen to be quite pertinent with respect to the problem to which
they seek a solution. Led by observation of the symbols, Codes and Laws of the
Tarot, the tarologist will begin to ask questions which, thanks to the consultant’s
replies, will rapidly become ever more relevant and specific to that situation.
The need for this manner of proceeding is not only esoterical. The symbols in
the Tarot are universal, macrocosmic , and adaptable to any context. For this
reason it is necessary insert them into the microcosm of a question, so that they
may manifest with a perfectly appropriate sense. This process of approach,
comparable to a sort of “anchoring” to the consultant’s world, hinges on the
questions, which guide the tarologist along the route to follow.
In any case, there is also a psychological aspect. Owing to the extreme
profundity reached by a Tarot reading, it is easy to find ourselves facing themes
of particular delicacy. Thus, asking questions of the consultant, rather than
making affirmations, means to leave him completely free to choose whether to
answer or not. At the same time, it allows the tarologist to gradually understand
what sort of awareness his consultant has developed regarding that particular
subject. The consultation, in fact, has the objective to bring to the light of
consciousness, aspects that are not yet very clear or completely unresolved. This
is an evolution which must not unfold in a traumatic manner, but must occur
slowly, allowing this same tarologist to regulate its progression in order to arrive
trustingly at a new level of comprehension. In substance, it is he who establishes
the rhythm and timing of the dialogue.
Otherwise, there would be an effect somewhat like a tooth extraction without
anesthesia, risking causing great pain rather than relief. In this way, instead, we
learn gradually to always express ourselves through words, learning also that
that there is no difference between asking something that is revealed to be of an
amazing and millimetrical precision, and affirming it.
Furthermore, to state without asking is a sign of great presumption, a defect
that is the worst enemy of a tarologist. His task is not to place himself as
protagonist of the reading, but to come in aid to the consultant that he may,
almost automatically, guided by the Tarot, resolve his own doubts and interior
In light of what we have said, it should not surprise us that the following
consultation follows the scheme which we have described. With the premise that
it is an actual reading, here is the question of the consultant, a woman of about

“Is my current sentimental relationship positive for me?”

Fig. 26
The first 3 Cards

After shuffling the cards, being sure to rotate them clockwise and anticlockwise
as well, in order to offer all possible positionings of the cards, we extract three.
These represent Past-Present-Future, the base from which we begin the reading.
To gain a certain orientation, let us consider the primary reflections that come
to the tarologist’s mind.
First, all three cards are right side up, which would seem to indicate that there
are no particular problems. As there are two personages who form a man-woman
couple, the Priestess and the Hierophant, and the question being on a sentimental
subject, this is a relevant fact. Furthermore, the central Lover card, which
obviously indicates love, should be considered the card that describes the
situation of this couple, its environment . And what might it suggest? Quite
probably that this is a matter of two persons in love. It is thus that, having
formulated his first hypotheses, the tarologist may begin asking the first
questions of the consultant. These queries are not casual or arbitrary, but closely
tied to what he has observed or decoded from the Arcana through his theoretical
Tarologist: is the person of whom we are speaking, your partner, a man?
This might seem a superfluous question at first. We might be wrong! In fact, at
this stage, we are not even sure that the Hierophant represents the companion of
the consultant; we might face a relationship different from the traditional man-
woman sort. Therefore, it is better to ask.
Consultant: yes.
Tarologist: Are you in love? Have you known each other long?
Consultant: Yes, we are in love, and we have not known each other long. We
are still in the falling-in-love phase...
It is certainly not possible not to note the precision of the card which we have
called environmental in describing the current situation of the couple.
Tarologist: Is he married, or a father?
These last two questions arise from the keyword present in the Hierophant’s
card, “paternity” (which we have already seen before) and matrimony (which we
deduce from the decryption and iconography of the Priest-Hierophant card,
inside a temple, facing a couple). Why ask ourselves these questions? Would it
not be enough to have individuated his companion in the Hierophant card? No,
because as the man has been illustrated as Hierophant, and not, for example, as
Emperor (who is a male personage as well), it signifies that the Tarot is fixing its
attention on still other aspects regarding the personage. Each card, in fact,
contains stratified information, which explains why it is “preferred” above
Consultant: He’s not married but he was before; he’s not a father. His
profession is that of maître.
Tarologist: the Hierophant is the archetype of the Professor, as esoterically he
transmits his knowledge to the two acolytes present in the card. He finds himself
in a more elevated position because his knowledge is superior. This function
corresponds perfectly to the qualification which you describe, the maître (in this
case, maitre d’), which translates literally to master, who “knows more” as well.
We should note that in this case, it is the consultant who furnishes information
to the tarologist. In any case, the information received becomes increasingly a
bridge of union between the two participants in the consultation. Before
proceeding, we must also note the manner in which the original question of the
woman is fully described in the keywords of the first three cards extracted in
reply, which describe the relationship of a man-woman couple (cards III and V),
who find themselves in the so-called falling-in-love phase (card VI which, being
in effect is, precisely, current...) This is a fact to emphasize as, usually, in the
first cards of a reading, we find the precise Arcana containing the keywords
concerning the question : a decidedly improbable frequency, this, which goes
totally against the habitual laws of statistics. At this point, as the Hierophant has
an outwardly directed gaze, turned towards the future, we must place another
card beside him: and here is the Star.

Fig. 27
The Gaze of the Hierophant: the Star

With this last card’s extraction, from the pint of view of the Method, we
conclude the reading, as no further extraction of blades is necessary. In fact, for
the Law of Compensation , the Star gazes towards the Hierophant and there are no
more cards to display. Furthermore, there are not even upside-down cards to
oblige us to extract Resolution Cards. Therefore, the tarologist is able to proceed
with the correct evaluations.
Tarologist: The Star may represent the interest of the man for the “intimate and
physical” aspect (the nude woman) of his companion. The man looks at her,
seems to be thinking of her.
Does he seem particularly attracted by you physically?
Consultant: Yes, a lot, quite a lot in fact... (She laughs with gusto).
Tarologist: I think this is an important aspect of your relationship.
Consultant: I think so too!
Tarologist: The Star, however, also contains the keyword daughter. Do you have
a daughter?
Consultant: Yes, and he seems very interested in building a good rapport with
her. I like this man very much also because of his attitude towards my little girl;
he has a paternal sensibility, and it’s the first time I’ve met someone like that.
Let us pause a moment here, as well. This last consideration regarding parental
sensitivity is of great value as it is connected, obviously, to the concept of
paternity. Therefore, even if he is not actually the father, he is acting like one
towards the daughter of his companion: here is another, subtler, reason for his
being represented by the Hierophant...There is another element as well. In this
particular example, the tarologist does not hypothesize that the Star might be
another woman, ready to vie for the attentions of the man. Why is this? This sort
of presentation of the cards, in fact, could have led to a similar deduction.
The tarologist acted on another hypothesis, instead, and not because this
situation is impossible (it could, from a technical-theoretical point of view, be
part of the range of possibilities, but it would be at the very least hardly logical:
there is no card which tells of infidelity and he had already ascertained that the
reading concerned a couple in the first stages of love.
It was much more reasonable to consider other keywords in the Star, among
which, naturally, daughter, rather than considering other scenarios. For this
reason, it is always well not to be hasty in our affirmations: once we have
considered all possible options offered by the extracted Arcana, it is
indispensable to begin from those that, for common sense and relevance to the
theme of the question, better correspond to the question and to the scenario that
progressively unfolds. This does not mean that other possibilities may not be
valid, but we may say, that they certainly do not have to be. Only dialogue will
confirm, or not, the exactitude of the various affirmations. Thus, having verified
the existence of a daughter, we may make further considerations. These, being
the future card, will not be certainties but indications, although reliable.
Tarologist: It seems that one of the key points of this relationship may be the
rapport with your daughter.
Consultant: It would be a miracle! My daughter is very possessive, and it
would be so great if they could get along well together because in the past, with
other men, the situation was somewhat complicated.
Here as well, thanks to the dialogue with the consultant and with the Tarot, the
idea that the tarologist has formed is fully confirmed by the true circumstances.
In all of this, we can sense reciprocity, a sort of three-way conversation. At this
point, it is possible to decide to deepen other aspects of the consultation,
proceeding from the plane of the personages to that of the Archetypes. Let us see
Tarologist: there is an interesting passage in the reading. The Arcana III and
XVII, if considered from a psychological point of view, both indicate certain
innate aptitudes, certain aspects and facets of woman, which in this case is you,
as you are interrogating the Tarot. The Empress is practical, very sure of herself
(she is used to commanding...), perhaps just a bit selfish...The Star, instead, is
very feminine, sweet, “serviceable” to others (she is kneeling); she seems more
in harmony, with herself as well, as she is nude surrounded by nature, feeling
quite at her ease. Comparing the two cards, from one in the past to the other in
the future, we might hypothesize a change in your behaviour/attitude, with
regard to the sentimental sphere. What do you think?
Consultant: Yes, in the past I was rather indifferent towards men, I was quite
focused on myself and had even too much faith in my own possibilities; I believe
I was quite defiant towards the opposite sex and tended to impose myself, to
dominate. Now, also thanks to my interior path, I feel I’m going in the direction
of that which defines the condition of the Star: I am kinder and more
considerate, attentive to the needs of my companion, more docile (and I have
even decided to be faithful...)
Tarologist: Yes, I can see myself that you truly mean to be faithful. This,
because the central Lover’s card which, as Empress you are looking at, among
its keywords also has fidelity. 94 Let me ask you another question, if I may. Does
one of the two members of the couple desire a child?
The tarologist asks for two reasons: the woman-Empress observes the next card
where, specifically, we can see a small angel which clearly symbolizes...a baby!
Furthermore, the man, already identified in the Hierophant/father, observes--
thinks--in the direction of a pregnant woman, the Star; suffice it to note her belly
in order to understand the reason for the deduction...
Consultant: Yes, he has told me that I’m a woman with whom he could have
children. I told him that twins run in my family; and he said, joking, “Good, that
way we can get it over with right away, two in one go!”
Tarologist: Perhaps your companion would like to be a father…this may be
why he is represented here, at a deeper level, by the archetype: Hierophant,
Pope, papa (father), which indicates paternity.
Consultant: yes, I have thought so too. I think we must have a serious talk
about this.
Thus it is, moving between planes (which in this case we have decided to limit
for necessity of simplicity) it is possible to descend ever more deeply into the
interior space of the protagonists. Naturally, the consultant must desire it as well
and must facilitate the interpretation with dialogue.
In conclusion, let us sum up this example. As all four cards extracted are right
side up, the relationship is serene and it seems that there are the requisites for
harmony, not only physical but also psychological, and not only of the couple.
In fact, the rapport between the man and the daughter of the consultant who,
symbolized by the Star, manifests equal interest as she gazes towards the
Hierophant, may be an important key to the relational equilibrium of this new
emotional nucleus. Lastly, it well that the consultant is aware of the desire for
paternity of her companion, in order to be able to reflect upon it and in future,
evaluate relevant prospects with him.
From this example, we understand the seriousness and the value of these
considerations. At the same time, the multidimensionality of the Tarot is
apparent, the fact that in one Arcanum are contained many meanings which may
make for a complex reading. It is normal and is something we learn gradually
thanks to the progressive knowledge of theory together with a considerable
practical experience. The symbols, in fact, as we have often mentioned, are not
univocal but indicate a multiplicity of levels, which have the distinct feature of
an extraordinary and contemporaneous coherence with respect to the proposed
theme but need a certain degree of experience in order to be comprehended. This
characteristic of theirs, which renders them, in fact, three-dimensional rather than
flat or two-dimensional, to be fully developed need, apart from dialogue, another
essential element: total relevance to the original question! Using a metaphor, we
might say that the question posed by one who seeks an answer from the Tarot, is
like the lighthouse that illuminates the route of the tarologist towards the
“interior harbour”, the quintessence of the consultant or of the subject of the
reading. Without its light, because of the universality of symbols and their
suitability to any context, it would be impossible to make a reading, as we would
lose ourselves on the high seas.
Therefore, the tarologist, as he explores the cards before him and proceeds
through dialogue to keep the correct direction and not lose himself, must always
go back to the question from which everything began. This attitude, furthermore,
humble and respectful, prevents his expressing himself in extensively prophetic
declarations... (On the contrary)! The objective is to offer the consultant a
starting point for reflection, as confirmation or proof of his own intuitions and
sensations, of that which he feels inside and which he is not able to focalize on
or admit to, not even to himself. For the tarologist, in the course of the dialogue,
it is certainly important to receive affirmative answers to the questions he asks,
to confirm the correctness of the path he has taken. For the consultant, in any
case, it is even more significant to achieve an accord between the considerations
proposed by the tarologist in the form of questions, and his inner impressions.
One of the typical phrases we may hear at the conclusion of an excellent reading,
“ What you have told me, actually, I already knew; but now that you confirm it, I
feel more assured, because it means that it’s true. I’m relieved... ”
This sort of declaration is of immense value as it demonstrates the great onset
of awareness that may determine in the consultant interior and exterior changes,
practical ones. Essentially, our actions in life are dictated by that which is inside
us: impulses, thoughts, sensations or emotions. A real interdependence exists
between that which is inside and that which is outside: “ as on high, so below, as
outside, so inside, as above, so below .” 96 If it is possible to read the Tarot while
remaining on more superficial levels, we must remember that to generate more
knowledge means to produce new capacities for action. That is why the true
“motor” of a consultation should always be, in the last instance, the interior
aspect. Later, it is the one concerned who will take his own steps and will
gradually cease to ask of himself and of the tarologist, “ what will happen
regarding this or that? ” asking himself rather, “ what must I do, that this or that
may occur? ” This predisposition agrees with the axiom according to which the
consultation is valid in the moment in which it is complete and its outcome does
not endure in a fixed manner:

The Tarot gives a snapshot of the present!

Modifying the consciousness of the consultant, even thanks “only” to the Tarot,
we may create quite different situations and conditions, in a tempo measurable
more in interior than exterior rhythm. A consultation, then, means this:

to illuminate knowledge by listening to the interior Voice of the Soul, making us

the true authors of our destiny.
Footnotes - Chapter 7

89 Cf. chapter 3.
90 Cf. chapter 1.
91 This is a phrase of the Christian prayer, “Our Father,” as well.
92 Today the circle is divided into 360° and the circle of the Zodiac into 12 parts. Fifteen centuries before
Christ the Egyptians already used this system and divided the year into 12 months of 30 days each, to
which they added 5 final days, interposed. As for the days, they were divided into two periods of twelve
hours. Therefore the Code contained in the staff of the Fool is antecedent to the I century AD and does not
contradict the theory which dates the Tarot to the I century AD.
93 A straight-ahead gaze indicates in any case that the personage looks at the Present.
94 As the card is straight up, the man between two women holding his belt has decided to remain faithful.
The same symbolism would exist in the case of two men and a woman. For this reason we speak of fidelity
or infidelity (when the blade is reversed).
95 Let us remember that we must observe the cards with the eyes of a child, with a gaze simple and without
prejudice or superfluity.
96 An expression attributed the Hermes Trismegistus, a legendary figure of the Hellenistic age, equated
with Thoth, the Egyptian God of letters, numbers, and geometry.

“Yes, let the Word of God precede us! Let it humiliate the potent forces of the
earth, these perverse passions which we wish to mortify and which claim, from
our mortal bodies, a pitiless and tyrannical dominion! Let it subjugate them to
our research and our exposition! Breaking down the doors of ignorance,
shattering the chains of defect which exclude us from true science, let it lead us
to our most secret Arcana.”
(John Cassian, Cenobitic Institutions)


Anyone who has even only a vague knowledge of the Tarot, knows that this
subject calls to mind first of all, prediction of the future. On the contrary, from
what we have described here, it should be clear that there exist diverse ways of
utilizations of the Tarot. It lends itself, in fact, to a multiplicity of uses so rich
and surprising that this practice becomes only one of many possibilities.
The Tarot is a metaphysical machine of which the deck of cards is but a
support, the vehicle of a perfect mechanism thanks to which these images, these
sacred Icons , guard a plurality of teachings regarding man, his destiny, and the
laws that govern him. All this is made possible by a system of Codes and Laws,
making up the Coded Structure , which generates a language of communication
between the human world and the spiritual.
The true Tarot may be considered an esoterical discipline complete in itself,
which in past centuries was named by the ancient Alchemists, Science of the
sciences. For this reason, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, founder of the
Theosophical Society, defined it as “ the key to all Western esoterism ” and it is
for the same reason that it is no longer acceptable to relegate the Tarot to a small
area concerned only with divination.
This use, known today as cartomancy, is therefore to be considered limiting and
completely improper, as it entails a total reduction and a profound debasement of
its value. The definition itself of cartomancy is justifiable only in the case of
ignorance of that which the Tarot does not represent, nor its origin, nor the
authentic significance preserved within it. Therefore, as words are the essential
guardians of the most hidden sense of reality, the term with which to describe the
use of the Arcana must also be changed. Thus, in order to establish the exact
designation of this “new” discipline, a new, scientifically and linguistically
correct word has been introduced: Tarology . 97 This should be an easily
understandable choice, as the prefix taro indicates the Tarot, which is, as we
have said, called Tarot in all languages (except in Italian, in which it is called
Tarocchi); the suffix logy means logos , discourse, study, discipline. Tarology is,
therefore, the discourse on the Tarot , and by extension, the branch of knowledge
which studies and practices it. This term, which guarantees great accuracy and
completeness, adheres with coherence and total correspondence to its deepest
and most esoterical nature. Tarology, in fact, is a subject which has nothing to do
with ordinary cartomancy, as its nature and complexity are very different. In
order to avoid misunderstandings, it will be well to specify what we intend by
these affirmations. Rudolf Steiner, 98 a philosopher and scholar who lived at the
turn of the eighteenth century, maintained that the comprehension of the spiritual
world does not have an artistic character connected to sentiment, as in the case
of a work of art; it has, rather, the imprint of thought which is appropriate for the
knowledge of nature.
This declaration of his expresses a basic requisite: the true researcher, in order
to approach the superior worlds, must utilize the mind as a controlled and
manageable instrument of awareness and comprehension, avoiding losing
himself in the meanders of emotional overflow. In any case, this manner of
approach, for the quality itself of the organ which investigates, in order to be
able to open itself to new forms of understanding such as intuitive
consciousness, needs preliminary assurances derived from rational processes.
According to this vision, amply shared by many traditional forms, at the base of
individual research must lie, therefore, a constant attitude of verification of the
subjective investigation of the metaphysical world through logical and mental
parameters, precisely as if conducted in the area of a scientific practice.
To speak of a connection between Science and Tarot might seem rash and
might risk incurring diverse impressions. Their combination, in fact, could cause
the creation of positions quite diversified and distant, owing to the general
opinions held regarding these two worlds apparently in total contrast with each
other. Speaking of Science, we imagine an empirical and testable approach,
while in the Tarot we find instead the characteristics of that which seems
ascribable only to inspiration and the subjective vein.
Between these two diametrically opposite opinions, however, exists an entire
gamut of intermediate attitudes, of acceptance or denial, conditioned by that
which one thinks to be the content of this esoterical discipline. Some, even
agreeing that the Tarot may be a more serious subject than they generally think,
might maintain that behind such a “presumed” science, lies hidden the tendency
to renew every sort of credence or suspicion, a position justly rejected by those
who have known the true scientific mentality and a pure impulse towards
knowledge... For these others, instead, the name Tarot evokes the intention to
describe something that is not possible to achieve unless attracted by a heartfelt
and profound desire for awareness or by a refined curiosity of the soul. These,
each according to his own disposition, will maintain that it is not possible or
conceivable to catalogue and systemize these subjective qualities following the
scientific method.

Thus, despite the scantily comforting presuppositions, to compare science and

the Tarot is neither arbitrary nor excessive, but NECESSARY!

In order to convince ourselves of this, let us first reflect upon the beginning and
the meaning of science in the life of humankind. Considering the object with
which it concerns itself, it is possible to comprehend this origin only if we focus
our attention on the activity of the human soul, which manifests during the force
to know, on the behaviour adopted by the single individual in the act of
acquiring it. Science, in the strictest sense of the word, with its methods and
ways of thinking, is limited to the sphere of the perceptible. However, we must
allow ourselves to ask, not only if there exists another area of investigation, but
also if the scientific method may possibly find an application there. In fact, what
might happen if we were able to apply its rules to the so-called super sensible
realm as well? Working on nature is a sort of self-education of the Soul, in which
it develops the capacity to utilize the result of this self-training in the non-
perceptible dimension. If for the researching Soul there were an objective means,
complete with a nature logical and rational, what advantages might there be?
Would it not mean to make manifest and certifiable the method of investigation
of non-perceptible reality? The answer is definitely affirmative; as such a
support would satisfy certain grand requisites. On the one hand, in fact, it would
allow investigation with the same criteria with which the naturalistic scientist
treats sensitive content. On the other, it would allow the conservation, within the
scientific procedure, of the interior aspect of the Soul (as is already true in many
spiritual disciplines), but also the formal rigor of concrete and practical
methodological parameters, the criteria of scientific investigation.
For Tarology, the presence of such a vehicle 99 is no supposition, ma something
definite and real, as in the Tarot there is the Coded Structure made up of Codes
and Laws, which constitutes a repeatable and constantly verifiable support. All
of this translates to the possibility of affirming the validity of the progress
accomplished in the knowledge of the subject in analysis, as the results are
always testable, as in science is generally intended. All Traditional Disciplines
state that the stages and experiences of the Soul during its progress towards
knowledge are traversable by all human beings in a homogeneous and uniform
manner. The Tarot, thank to the presence of this support which functions as a
reference system, not only confirm that these phases are truly the same for each
individual who approaches them, but even make possible an objective and
tangible description with extraordinary accuracy and precision.
Tarology, then, has two great priorities among its objectives. On one side, it has
the will to liberate current scientific investigation and attitude from the reductive
analysis drawn from the sole sensitive facts while conserving its general
characteristics of thought and the seriousness of its epistemological criteria. On
the other, it proposes to deal with non-sensitive subjects in the same way in
which natural science develops sensitive ones, without, however, pretension of
totally non-critical acceptance.
All this becomes acceptable only if we consider that Tarology is a discipline
with a solid gnosiological foundation able to be constantly examined and
verified . This last prerequisite, precisely, is the reason for which an interpretive
and subjective study of the Arcana that does not take into account the Coded
Structure , while being of great value, would not be classifiable as a science.
It remains, in fact, circumscribed in a more artistic and personalized sphere
which, influenced by the inclinations of those who practice it, does not have the
essential character of objective replicability. In conclusion, if these motives are
not those for which it is no longer legitimate to associate the Tarot solely with
divinatory practice, how may we delineate the multiple possible uses of
Notwithstanding the limits deriving from a reduced exposition to the
framework of the Codes, we will try to analyze these uses in detail, with the
proviso that, for the great diffusion of cartomancy over the centuries, we are not
exempt from taking it into consideration .

Scholars maintain that divination, not only through the Tarot, originated as a
magic and religious rite, motivated by the fears that have forever obsessed man,
such as the fear of the unknown and of the future and the conviction that the
intervention of superior beings might render them known. Its history, as its same
etymological root demonstrates, is therefore closely tied to the spiritual
dimension. “To divine” comes from the Latin divinus which means “belonging to
God” and as a noun gives origin to the word “diviner”. Literally, it means to
appeal to divine inspiration, through a practice or an instrument, in order to
predict the future or to have enlightenment on conduct in the most diverse of
circumstances. In ancient Greece, these practices were called mantiké-téchne , or
techniques of divination. As the definition itself suggests, these were activities
carried out according to well-defined rules and procedures (in a manner
mechanical, chemical, mathematical, etc.), which had the purpose of obtaining
securely identifiable signs in order to formulate reliable answers.
Among these methods is cartomancy, whose putative father was, as mentioned,
Etteilla, the pseudonym of Jean-Baptiste Alliette. In a text published in the year
of his death, the French occultist affirmed that this discipline, re-baptized by him
cartonomancy, was unknown in France “ until three elders, a man and two
women, respectively in 1751, 1752, and 1753 offered to extract the cards ”. The
author declared to have “ renewed the method, abandoning the technique of
reading by extracting only one card at a time, substituting it with that which
entailed the interpretation of the entire deck spread out on the table. ” 100
Apart from the veracity of his affirmations, it is undeniable that Etteilla was the
first author in modern history to publish a cartomantic method 101 , however
invented and without foundation. In fact, his tireless self-promotion, together
with the great notoriety of the works of de Gébelin, led to the univocal
identification of the Tarot with divinatory practices. Thus Cartomancy, also
owing to its divulgation in the French language (commonly used at the time as
an instrument of international communication), spread through Europe. It
reached further popularity near the end of the XIX century thanks to the
publication of various decks of the French and English schools. 102
Finally, in the nineteen hundreds, the use of the Arcana for divinatory purposes
touched its apex, owing also to a new acceleration received, from the beginning
of the seventies, of the unfortunate birth of cartomancy via television and
telephone. We may then affirm that all modern cartomantic methods derive from
the work of synthesis that the esoterists have carried out since the end of the
seventeen hundreds, culminating with the decks of Waite, Crowley, and Marteau
at the beginning of the last century.
If, on the one hand, the great vulgarization of cartomancy is witness to only one
of Humanity’s attempts to predict its own future, on the other these efforts
demonstrate that divination may have a sense, and certain concrete foundations.
To be honest, then, it is unjust to condemn it as a banal leftover of superstition or
something only for the gullible: it is a matter serious and profound which, for the
implications that characterize it, is certainly worth investigating.


Many modern authors have called the desire to know the future, a trap . Why?
There is no simple answer. In general, when someone wishes to know the future,
it is because he does not give enough importance to the past and does not give
enough value to the actions of the present. However, his manner of being is
influenced by experiences already lived, which often constitute a considerable
burden and which may lead to repeating in the future, the same behaviours
which caused these experiences in the past. In this way, man, essentially trapped
by his past, will often search for consolation in the prospect of a better future
than that which he feels he is foretold. Thus acting, however, he loses contact
with the moment he is living and forgets that the present is a free trade zone
from which to develop infinite possibilities. Each of us, actually, would have the
faculty to decide without conditioning deriving from the past or future; but in
order to do so, first we must convince ourselves of the existence of this
enormous opportunity. One of the greatest dangers of divination is that,
anticipating that which will occur, we risk limiting even more this capacity of
action and choice. To practice in an oracular manner, with connotations of
predestination and fate, may condition the individual severely. This threat
derives from two aspects. First, because our mind, easily suggestible, has the
singular tendency to fulfil that which is predicted to it of negative, as though,
self-convinced of the inescapability of the facts announced, it pursues their
achievement at any cost. This, among other things, is why, even when the
previsions were wrong, they would risk happening all the same, as the individual
himself, in a sort of vicious circle, would tend to re-create all the conditions
“favourable” to their occurrence. In second place, and perhaps this is the more
frequent danger, they who trust themselves to divination in these terms have an
elevated probability of remaining passive spectators of the events of their own
lives. Knowing already how it will devolve, how would we face a certain
situation hypothesizing a positive outcome, will one act normally, as if nothing
had been foretold? Or will he await the outcome in an inert manner? Moreover,
if it was negative? Would he despair, abandoning himself to the impossibility of
a different outcome, or else react in order to contrast the prediction? This is all,
clearly, to be avoided. Each of us is, and must remain, the active creator of our
own existence, because the purpose is to live our own time industriously
building, without fear, in freedom, without limits and in harmony together with
According to diverse Traditional forms, human perfection, which is born from
the accomplishment of our own destiny, is none other than an intelligent
penetration, on the part of man, of the Plan of the will of God. Only when this
clear distinction between our own free will and the Superior Will is established,
we really introduce ourselves into the true causes, that is, into the motivations of
individual histories, collective or individual as they may be. The centre of this
process is that which the Hindus call Karma or Destiny, or the Law of Cause and
Effect, which governs the actuation of Supreme Will inside the frontiers, that
“impassable ring” of the Universe. Generally, that which man does, while he
finds himself in that which he supposes the full exercise of his freedom to
decide, is to offer constant resistance to this Will, mistaking this opposition for
individual intention. A long apprenticeship must be followed before being able
to realize that personal free will often translates into a continuous refusal of this
Will, thus choosing to change the conduct of his own life.
Thanks to the seeding of principles of superior understanding, this is exactly
the comprehension to effect. In the sancta santorum of our own individual heart,
we should practice the transcendent alchemy which may lead to convert free will
into the will perfect for realizing that which, by Tradition, is termed Initiation.
These are, among the others, the profound reasons for which it is necessary to
modify radically the form with which to practice divination. We must avoid risks
of immobilization and influence, but above all, we need to give it back its correct
sense, which is that of being put to the service of the evolution of human beings.
Therefore, in order to understand how all of this may be truly achievable, let us
pause to consider those whom we might define, in a general manner, its
Many scholars consider the possibility to consulting the future, a technique of no
worth and lacking any positive characteristic, if not exclusively negative.
However, this position risks being an uncritical and intransigent evaluation,
which empties of value even that which is connected to the noble and sacred
aspects of divination, such as, but not only, prophecy. Therefore, what purpose
may it serve to question the future?
Let us imagine, purely as an example, the beginning of a new project. Would it
not be an extraordinary thing to know with certainty that it is the right thing for
one who is about to begin it? Alternatively, that it may be fruitful or favourable
from the points of view of the single individual, of the community, at a practical
rather than economical level, or psychological, or from an evolutionary
perspective, or of growth or increased prosperity? Would it not be of the most
value to understand the problems to face with the relative indications in order to
be able to solve them in the best manner possible? Is it necessary to maintain
that all this is inopportune and negative? In our opinion, it would be encouraging
if we found ourselves in the situation described above, to have access to an
objective and superior opinion, of inexhaustible wisdom, that may aid us in
clarifying our own personal judgement. If you knew a man gifted with infinite
knowledge, who furthermore was your friend, would you not ask his advice?
The sort of research which we propose has nothing to do with a fatalistic
reading of the future because, when used properly, the Tarot does not proclaim
the certainty of our actions (which would be, as we have said, a conditioning
act). Its correct use consists in presenting new viewpoints or suggestions, which
may aid us to put into effect our projects, our choices, our life, with awareness
and in a harmonious manner, with ourselves, with others, and with our
environment, while leaving us TOTALLY free to discern, distinguish, and decide.
The Tarot does not limit us; it helps us to decide!
The intention with which it should be used is not to decree categorically that
which will happen, as to indicate the various possibilities, alternatives or
solutions which, if followed and realized, may lead to a better result. Thus, it
may transform into that special counsellor whom many of us dream of being
able to consult in order to resolve doubts, inconveniences and indecisions of
daily life. Certainly, it is not wrongful to desire Good, for man and for the
community, inspired by such an illuminated Wisdom, as it is precisely this of
which man has such great need, considering more than anything the hard times
he is going through.
We do not refer to Utopia or to fantasy: it is a real opportunity, a form of Sofia
applied to human existence. The Tarot suggests and, at the same time, also
leaves us free to make mistakes because it has a profound knowledge of the
double nature of every human being, rich in limits and capacities, inasmuch as
he is composed of Soul and personality. Eliminating the cage of a peremptory
future, the Tarot becomes a tool of enormous power and maximum value, as
much to achieve a vaster view of the concrete reality in which we live, as to
improve our introspection, the only way to adhere to that most elevated and
noble which lies within us. In truth, this is one of its principle functions: to help
us to understand our life, its stages, its trials, its sense, the love and acceptance
of ourselves and of others.
The meeting with the Tarot creates a privileged moment in our life, in which
we may be more receptive than usual, as, confronting ourselves with the
questions which belong to us, we suddenly have the possibility to allow the
Sacred to enter into our existence, feeling it pulse inside us and in our actions.
The Tarot is a door into another universe, a space in which we take an interest in
ourselves, in which we reconnect with something which is hidden inside us and
which we have forgotten. It confirms to us what we already know; it is the
medicine for our memory and often it speaks to us spontaneously, with the
tarologist present simply to aid us in remembering... For these reasons, we
should approach the Tarot in a new manner, with a different attitude from that of
Consulting it on the present and the past, regarding whose true cause we are
often not as knowledgeable as we believe. We may receive innumerable clues for
objective reflection on the facts, events, and blocks that have characterized or are
causing our manner of action, allowing for their correction in order to avoid the
danger of future reiteration. How many of us have asked ourselves, facing the
same scenario in our lives: “ Why do I always find myself in the same situation,
why do I always repeat the same errors...? ”
Regarding the future, asking advice on our manner of acting or behaving, as we
would in prayer or meditation, we will receive council which will help us to
mature, make us grow, will teach us to choose and act correctly, with justice and
altruism, favouring that which is evolutive, for ourselves and others, to the
detriment of that which would be egotistical and regressive. This is Tarology: a
liturgical use of the Tarot, in which the Arcana become a bridge of connection in
dialogue with our Soul, bringing us messages with the force of a wave, striking
us with that energy, that liberty and that joy, which may derive only from a new,
reborn awareness.
These suggestions, furthermore, balanced and prudent as teachings, may be for
us of great support not only in our interior choices, but also in those daily and
prosaic, in our everyday lives. After all, destiny is composed of two orders of
facts, which combine to create that unity which is a human life: the first emerges
from the impulses of the Soul while the second draws near to man from the
exterior world. The Tarot is, thus, a formidable counsellor, an ancient sage who
dispenses exhortations incomparable for their great quality and their capacity to
connect these two orders of reality. Many individuals consider it disrespectful to
address that which is spiritual with non-solemn requests, lacking in austere
sacredness. However, to reason thus would be a grave error, as the Tarot would
be divested of its “humanity” and at the same time, deprived of its greatly
flexible nature. In daily life, every decision, even the smallest, may have a
sacred value, at the same time connected with our own inner being. If realized
with wisdom and conscience, it may create harmony respecting all that
surrounds us. Thanks to our actions, through our gestures, our words and
thoughts, we may enter into a closer relationship with ourselves, and at the same
time with those near us.
The Tarot can accompany us on this journey of realization of that form of
perfection that potentially already belongs to us, guiding us without hurry and at
our own pace. Taking us by the hand, it points out that which is right and which
is not, that which is good and that is to be avoided, that which is favourable or
choices which are not, also and above all in the daily “little things” of which is
woven our existence. In practice, in order to allow us constant progress at our
own pace, it becomes a stool when we are tired and a ladder when we are ready
to climb.
For these reasons, therefore, it is not irreverent on our part to ask if it is “a good
idea to buy that house” which we wish to acquire; it is not disrespectful to ask
advice regarding how to deal with a colleague or with any delicate situation.
These are normal happenings of any existence and these Icons, precisely because
the condition of their sacredness remains authentic as a condition of maintaining
connection with man and his reality are part of this flow, extraneous to nothing
of that which concerns him, including his very humanity. It is enough to ask
directly, with an open heart and sincere intention, as there is no religion superior
to that truth of which our own Soul is part.
This is the vision of Tarology: the Tarot as marvellous, prodigious,
extraordinary Spiritual Intelligence. Let us therefore seek to learn, as has already
been written, to not ask, “ will I meet the man or woman of my life? ”, but to
understand why we have not yet met them on our life’s path. What is it in us
psychologically, or from an energetic or material point of view, which prevents
it. Let us not ask if we will obtain that certain position but try instead to
understand if it is truly favourable for us to obtain it.
Let us attempt to follow the answer as a suggestion--for a possibility of change,
of transformation, realizable through action, ceasing to consider it an inescapable
response, a predestined obligation which would have the effect of merely
creating an indolent and lazy expectation which might occur, paradoxically, even
without our participation...For this reason, and please pardon the quip, an able
tarologist should not reassure us that love will arrive, but help us to understand
why it has not yet found us!

There exists another context of utilization, different and more delicate, which
we feel we must mention. We wish to introduce it with a question to which the
reader must seek to give a well pondered and sincere reply... Let us imagine to
have planned a journey. If there was a possibility of danger regarding the vehicle
chosen for the trip, would it not be better to be aware of it, in order to substitute
it or to arrange another means of travel?
Differently from cartomancy, which has always found itself incapable to offer
solutions to problems (or dangers), Tarology, the true Science of the Tarot,
thanks to its method of interpretation as shown before, illustrates clearly the
possible alternatives, the solutions which the consultant may put into practice in
order to avoid certain problems. This is actually an elevated use of the Arcana,
which may offer a further immense contribution to the development and
protection of the individual and of the community. Many will think that that each
of us has his destiny to fulfil. Is it right, then, to modify it, even, admittedly, for
the purpose of doing good? Others will object that if man is not born with the
gift of clairvoyance, it is not right that he have access to this dimension. We are
of a different opinion and we cannot omit certain reflections. How may we
exclude, for example, that it is in the Destiny of that individual to be able to
avoid a certain event, thanks to a reading of the Tarot...? Who may decide that a
similar circumstance may or may not be part of his Path? Is there something that
belongs in his Destiny, something that does not? This sort of judgment would be
quite arbitrary because, in truth, the event itself of the consultation is an essential
part of the existence of that individual, as much as another any other episode.
Furthermore, as both Eastern and Western teachings remind us, any man may
potentially develop advanced psychic capabilities, which are not the exclusive
prerogatives of mystics and prophets. Intuition itself, which we have all
experienced at least once in our lives, is the demonstration of a form of superior
and perfect perception, which becomes gradually more and more articulate.
If the Tarot exists and functions as a Spiritual Intelligence, with a power not
only divinatory but even prophetic, what human being, judging from his own
limited level of consciousness, has the right to decree that this is wrong?
Actually, the great prejudice of modern times derives from another subject
entirely. The iniquitous and shameful use of the Arcana, which have been used
without a genuine knowledge of their principles which only a comprehension of
the Coded Structure can guarantee, has created the belief that they are an evil and
negative instrument, not to be trusted. In fact, although not for everyone, but
surely for many, their reading is associated with charlatanism, with that which is
the closest thing to diabolical use and the farthest away from the occult truth of
which the Tarot is the genuine representative.
In this way, these practices, including the prediction of the future (without
solutions), instead of being placed at the service of man to aid and counsel him,
has been transformed into an inopportune and coercive force, psychologically
and materially. There exists, however, the possibility of pure divination of a
legitimate and even beneficial nature, which offers warnings regarding
particularly adverse issues? (which the consultant is always free to consider or
not), which might in this case be modified or avoided. After all, Destiny is
meritorious precisely with those who merit it...
With these affirmations, we do not wish to unleash unfounded anxieties or
fears. The Tarot is an essential part of this immense mosaic which is human life,
in which difficulties, accidents, harm, and problems are daily occurrences. Its
purpose is not to sweep all obstacles from our path. The Arcana are not “thieves
of experience”, which are in truth necessary to our evolution; their function is to
protect our passage as would a good father, who does not prevent his child from
committing his own errors but watches over him with an alert and benevolent
eye, careful that he may continue to be free to commit them...
Auspicious is every crisis, which is, in itself, an initiation; but honoured as well
the aid offered us by Destiny, in whatever form it manifests, including that of an
authentic and knowledgeable interpretation of the Tarot!

In the course of this present work, we have often repeated that those wondrous
figures are custodians of an ancient and Traditional Knowledge. It would,
however, be more correct to say that the levels of this teaching are multiple and
that may be explained only through a gradual comprehension of the system of
Codes which characterizes their internal, esoterical dimension. Therefore, taking
into account the decryptions already demonstrated, it is possible to describe a
part of that which is contained in them, examining in depth the relations that
exist between them with respect to certain doctrinal subjects.

The Map of the World shows Christ in a “mandorla” ( vesica piscis ), the symbol
of Christ and the four Evangelists, which appears at the entrance of many
churches. Might there be a common connection between the Builders of
cathedrals and the creators of the Tarot?

Fig. 1
The Cathedral of Arles (France)

Fig. 2
Particular of the central frontispiece

Fig. 3
The World
The many medieval cathedrals diffused across Europe are one of the most
precious treasures left to us by our progenitors, and bear witness to an epoch in
which man reached one of the highest points of expression. In general, we may
refer back to many details of their constructions and of the successive events of
which they were protagonists; and yet, on the whole, we know little of their
more enigmatic and authentic significance, as our times, dominated by a
rationalistic and obsessively scientific attitude, limit these masterpieces to a
prevalently artistic and historical dimension.
Nonetheless, they speak to man at a much deeper level, enclosing mysteries
and symbols connected to the essence itself of spiritual life. They are, in fact,
coffers of wisdom, centres of universal knowledge, which, going far beyond
single factions and religious cliques, belong to the entire human race. This
patrimony, obscured during the Renaissance epoch by the revival of the values of
Greek and Roman civilizations, and even today often neglected, expresses the
extraordinary esoterical richness of the West, which draws its lymph from the
culture of the Mediterranean basin and, firstly, from ancient Egypt. The Builders
of these edifices, similar to actual books in stone , were certainly genial artists and
able artisans, but above all, guardians of millennial knowledge expressed in
symbols, able to cross centuries and cultures in order to speak to every man of
God and the Sacred. Among the many mysteries of which they were custodians
we find secrets of construction based on the use of the so-called Golden Number
(or Number of Phi ). This is a mathematical proportion expressed by the irrational
value 1,648(...) obtained from the equation: (√5 + 1)/2. Although it was thought
that this relationship was defined for the first time by Euclid, three centuries
before the birth of Christ, analysis of the mathematical knowledge of the ancient
Egyptians has led many researchers to assign to them not only the discovery but
also the deep cosmological significance. This section, called Aurea, may be
obtained dividing a segment of a straight line in 2 unequal parts so that the entire
length is to the longer part as the same is to the shorter. Let us take the segment
and divide it into the C point:


The AC segment represents the Golden Section of AB if it satisfies the



In practice, in order to technically apply this proportion, it is sufficient to divide

a first length by 1,618 in order to obtain a second. The two measures, if used in
construction, generate a special harmony and, according to some theories, create
a particular syntony, which predisposes humans to the perception of superior
vibrations. This is a phenomenon known for thousands of years and Builders of
cathedrals, to name but a few, have used them in a systematic manner.

Fig. 4
Rapport Length - Width

What is the relationship with the Icons? Even the Marseilles Tarot of Nicolas
Conver was engraved with the above-mentioned geometrical concept which,
expressed in several ways in all of the cards, contributes to codify certain
messages and to render sacred the entire content. For example, referring to the
symbol of Christ in the Mandorla described by the World, we will not be
surprised to rediscover the Golden Section in the height and width of the oval,
whose division, tolerating a slight deviation owing to the techniques of the
1700’s (which might have caused a minor possibility of definition on a
millimetrical scale), leads precisely to the value of 1.618(...). All this, on the one
hand reinforces the idea of a relationship with the Builders and on the other,
prompts reflection on the use of this proportion and its extraordinary

Freemasonry is an initiatic Order whose members strive for the moral and
spiritual elevation of man and of the human family. Its nature and that of its
institutions is humanitarian, philosophical and moral, its purpose being the
perfection of the individual. Its members, the Freemasons (from the French
franc-maçons), were originally called Stonemasons. Their origin seems to be
connected to the association of workers in the legend of Hiram Abif, the chief
architect of the construction of the Temple of Solomon. 103 These works were
carried out well before the I century AD and therefore the Freemasons seem to
have quite ancient roots. We refer to these facts merely to avoid the temptation to
propose dating the Marseilles Tarot to the XVII or XVIII century, maintaining
that, the Freemasons having appeared only in that period, a more remote genesis
of the Icons would be anachronistic. In truth, a precise temporal indication is
impossible, as originally these Orders were so secret that they continue even
today to be surrounded by mystery. Modern Freemasonry considers itself the
operative and active heir of the Masonic Tradition, and for this reason, its
symbols mirror the ancient ones in such an evident manner. It has been amply
demonstrated that among operative Masons there exists an esoterical
preparation, as it involves brotherhoods whose perspective, beyond the strictly
professional areas, touched the spiritual sphere. These men together attempted to
reach the highest ascetic perfection, carrying out their work with great integrity;
and the same tools used in their daily lives became the symbols of their quest. It
is thus that the square and the compass became the great emblems of
Freemasonry and these, as are many other Masonic elements, are to be found
also in the Marseilles Tarot. The Tarot, therefore, is the depositary of the Science
of the Great Architect of the Universe 104 and describes the initiatic Path of the
Builders of times past.

Fig. 5
Masonic symbols


The Square and Compass are among the better-known symbols because they
express, with admirable synthesis, the entire itinerary from Earth to the Heavens.
The first, in fact, allows us to draw the square rectangle, which symbolizes the
terrestrial; the second is used to draw the circle, the celestial. If we observe the
Bateleur (I) and the World (XXI), that is, the beginning and the end, we find the
form of the square rectangle in the table and that of the oval circle in the

Fig. 6
The Magician
Fig. 7
The World

This is a confirmation of Dualism, which demonstrates yet again, that along the
Way of the Tarot we proceed from the squared square to the circle compass,
from Earth to the Heavens, from the personality to the Soul. If we wished for
more confirmation, we might pinpoint this symbolism, not only at a conceptual
and allegorical level, but at a graphical level as well. Where should we look? Let
us take, as an example, the Emperor:

Fig. 8
The Emperor

Fig. 9
The Compass of the Emperor

On his helmet is a compass of which we see only one branch. In Freemasonry,

the diverse distributions of its areas with respect to the square describe the so-
called three administrative degrees:

• The Entered Apprentice: compass behind the square. Prevalence of the

• The Fellowcraft: alternating compass and square. Terrestrial-celestial
• The Master Mason: compass in front of the square. Prevalence of the

Fig. 10
Square Ruler behind the Compass:
Degree of Master

In the card, as one of the arms is hidden, the Emperor-Builder is a Fellowcraft

who “ explores the terrestrial globe, ” that is, investigates the Material. His gaze,
in fact, is fixed on the symbol of the tripartite circle surmounted by a cross,
which symbolically represents the Earth. To confirm the hypothesis of a
connection with the Freemasons, among other and more complex details,
contributes the particular disposition of the legs as well, whose relationship with
a square is obvious. In the same Arcanum, therefore, we find several elements,
which, through different encryptions, lead back to the same notion.

Fig. 11
Emperor and Square Ruler

These described are only certain examples of the two best-known Masonic
symbols. Many other elements are hidden in the Icons but encoded under more
subtle forms, a few of which we will now analyze.

In the Mantegna Tarot 105 , an ancient Italian deck, the first Arcanum is the
“ARTIXAN”. The name is not casual, and recalls the iconography of the
Magician, Arcanum I, an artisan who utilizes the tools spread out on the table.
This symbolism, similar to that of initiatic fraternities, describes again the Path
which the pilgrim travels from the level of Apprentice-artisan towards that, first
of Fellowcraft, then of Master Mason.

Fig. 12
The Artixan of the Mantegna Tarot

Fig. 13
The Magician - Artisan


The three points in a triangle, used in Freemasonry to abbreviate words,
according to their different disposition also express the symbolism of the four
• Earth is associated with the equilateral triangle;
• Water, to the right triangle;
• Fire, to the isosceles triangle;
• Air, to the scalene triangle.

In the Tarot, we find the three points in an equilateral triangle in the Devil, on
the chest of the small personage on the left. This indicates that the two acolytes,
under the demon’s influence, find themselves in a primitive and terrestrial
condition, as suggested by their animalistic characteristics (tail, horns, claws,
etc.). At the same time, remaining in the Masonic sphere, from the presence of
the cord around their necks we understand that the two subjects are candidates
for initiation. In this stage, they must still overcome certain temptations because
they are prisoners, as are all human beings during the course of their process of
evolution, of the influence of that which is more earthly and material. Only when
purified, in fact, will they be free to enter the Temple, as shown in the Tarot
itself, in which the House of God (card XVI), the equivalent of the Temple,
follows immediately after the Devil (card XV).

Fig. 14
The Devil

Fig. 15
The 3 points in an Equilateral Triangle
Fig. 16
The House of God - Temple

Furthermore, when the two Fellowcrafts liberate themselves from the action of
the Prince of the Earth, in the card of the Sun they transform into evolved and
humanized beings. We are certain of this deduction because on the chest of the
personage on the right there are the same three points present on the Devil. In
this case, however, they are arranged in an isosceles triangle, to affirm the
purification attained through Fire, precisely in the Arcanum which reveals the
most evident relationship with Fire par excellence , that of the Sun.

Fig. 17
The Sun

Fig. 18
The 3 points in an Isosceles Triangle

The Fool, the disciple along the spiritual Path, proceeds in the direction of the
Hermit who, at a certain level, is the Master. Their relationship is confirmed by
the presence of the red wand, which symbolizes their belonging to the same
Order. 106

Fig. 19
The Fool

Fig. 20
The Hermit

At the same time, the Fool holds another wand in an uncomfortable and
unnatural manner. As his left hand, because of this position, rests on the right
shoulder, we see a codified sign of recognition. The Tarot handed down by
Conver in 1760, in fact, not only possesses a particular relationship with
Freemasonry and the Order of the Temple, but is specifically connected to the
Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, the most elevated of the Masonic path. We
are not affirming that it was created by the Freemasons of the Scottish degree;
rather, that the transmitted message is shared. As the Scottish Rite is one of the
Sovereign Initiatic Orders and is articulated in 33 degrees, let us investigate the
symbolism more deeply in order to give solidity to our suppositions.
Let us look again at the Fool who, as we already know, has a special role
because of the card’s lack of a number. The research begins with him; he is the
guide who leads our Soul towards other firmaments and new planes of
consciousness; he is the door into the world of the Tarot. Analyzing his staff
more attentively, we note that, not only does it establish an angle of 30° with the
vertical; moreover, it is not rigorously straight: it is made, in fact, of two straight
sections, which create between each other an angle of 3 degrees, which, together,
form 33...

Fig. 21
The wand of the Fool

There is no doubt: at the beginning of the Path of the Tarot, the symbolism of
the 33 degrees, constituted by the 3 initial administrative degrees (Entered
Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason) plus the successive 33, is already

3° + 30° = Les 33 degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite

This example offers as well the opportunity to repeat that the teaching of the
Tarot is harmoniously developed on various levels. The Codes express,
simultaneously , diverse hidden meanings which allow us to reconstitute a
Science (on an esoterical, philosophical, and theological level) containing the
knowledge preserved by the Ancients. Remembering that the fundamental
characteristic of this sort of multidimensionality is Coherence, it is possible to
demonstrate the existence not only of Dualism, but also of Numerology,
Astrology, esoterical Psychology, and many other complex disciplines,
prerogative of higher levels of Initiation.


Speaking of the Builders and Freemasons, we have mentioned a connection
with Egypt, already an object of analysis in the description of the High Priestess
and her rapport with the Goddess Isis. In order to analyze this relationship we
must confront a new concept, that of the so-called “ Codes of the dualistic
symbols ”. These are a mechanism of codification for discovering the presence of
two distinct elements which, when united, generate a third and different element.
Let us offer an example of clarification.
Wishing to connect Astrology and Tarot, many authors have attempted to
associate every zodiacal sign to a single Major Arcanum. Fortunately, this
correspondence is much richer and more complex while remaining, at the same
time, paradoxically, quite simple. Let us attempt to observe attentively the
following image.

Fig. 22
The astrological sign of Sagittarius

It is Sagittarius, the centaur with bow and arrow. Following the principle of
codification just described, in the Tarot we obtain this zodiacal sign associating
the bow and arrow in the Lover (element 1) with the man-horse in the Chariot
(element 2):

Bow-Arrow (element 1) + Centaur (element 2) = Sagittarius (element 3)

Fig. 23
The 3x7 Diagram

Fig. 24
Particular of the Sagittarius

This example (we will elaborate on the astrological knowledge of the cards in
another context) demonstrates that the above-mentioned rule, according to which
certain symbols are hidden by a method of fragmentation into two separate
factors, is simple but extremely well hidden. Returning to the subject of Egypt,
let us try to apply the same procedure, keeping in mind that our field of research
remains in the area of the sacred. Which are the two most important elements in
the card of the Fool?

Fig. 25
The Fool

Reflecting, and considering that all that is illustrated (and it is not obvious...) is
symbolic, we see the human and the dog. These, apart from any other
consideration, are the most relevant because they are not inanimate but living.
What representation may we reconstruct from these two factors? It is Anubis, the
dog-headed God:

Fool ←→ Anubis

Fig. 26
Although some will think of the jackal, actually they both belong to the same
animal family and there is no contradiction, even in light of the fact that in the
most ancient cult, the first representation of Anubis was with the head of a dog.
Moreover, the surprisingly similar posture, and the presence of the two staffs, is
remarkable. Between these subjects, in fact, there exists a close correlation
which, for its importance and complexity, we will develop in more detail in the
future. For the moment we will reveal in advance that in the Arcana are hidden
the symbolisms of other Egyptian deities whose presence reinforces the
hypothesis of a clear connection with this Tradition. As confirmation of our
reasoning, we offer another example: the Strength card.
Let us observe the card in order to understand the two elements useful for the
sort of codification proposed. With an eye already trained by the example of the
Fool, it should not be difficult to individuate the woman and the lion. Which
Egyptian deity will derive from the union of these two? For Egyptology
enthusiasts the answer should appear obvious: it is Sekhmet , the lion-headed
woman whose name means “She who is powerful”, precisely as in Strength.
Sekhmet , represented with divine symbols such as the sun disk and the ureo , the
corona, the representation of the serpent, was the terrible war goddess who,
personifying the rays of the sun, of a deadly heat, incarnated the destructive
power of that heavenly body. That is why, on the hat of the Arcanum XI, in a
manner now more comprehensible and evident, we find scales (a reference to the
skin of the reptile), but also the yellow rays of the sun.

Fig. 27
The Strenght

Fig. 28

Fig. 29
Scales and Rays

These codes, therefore, confirm the close relationship between the Tarot and
Egypt. Why is this connection so noteworthy? Describing the history of the
Icons, we have remarked upon the existence of a connection with the monk John
Cassian, he himself connected to the Holy Hermits of the desert, the Fathers of
the Christian church. Let us examine further this relationship.
Officially, the first hermits date to the III century AD. Following the
persecutions that they had undergone, authentic Christian practices were in
danger and Saint Cassian, who had spent many years in their company in the
desert, brought back to the West the teaching so opposed by the authorities of the
Roman Empire. Following his protracted Egyptian experience, he established
himself in Provence, where he founded the Abbey of San Vittore, developed and
diffused a re-elaborated monasticism on the Oriental model. As his knowledge
would have been judged heretical, in order to transmit it he was obliged to utilize
in his texts, codes similar in their mechanism to the dynamics of the Coded
Structure of the Tarot. For example, in the preface of the “Cenobitic Institutions”,
one of his more relevant works, in the first paragraph of the text he mentions, in
the very first sentence of the book in fact, King Solomon, and establishes a
connection with Hiram Abif, the Architect of the Temple, comparing himself
directly to him:

“The Old Testament story narrates that the most wise Solomon (...) when he
had the intention to build that famous and magnificent temple to the Lord, asked
for counsel from a foreigner, the king of Tyre. And Hiram, son of a widow, (...)
having been sent to him; with his help and council was able to fulfil all that
beauty that divine wisdom suggested to him to prepare in the temple of the Lord
or for the sacred furnishings. (...)
As you also, most blessed Pope Castor, have in mind to construct for the Lord
a true and spiritual temple, not with inanimate stones but with a community of
holy men, a temple non temporal or corruptible but eternal and impregnable and
as you desire to consign to the Lord precious vessels (...) you then have deigned
to call to participate in such a great work as this, myself, who am needful and
poor from every point of view. 107 ”

With this citation Saint Cassian manifests an explicit connection with the
Freemasonry; as the Temple of Solomon, considered by the Judaic-Christian
Tradition, the first Temple of Jerusalem, symbolically represents the Temple to
which adhere the Freemasons who see in Hiram the figure par excellence of the
Grand Master. 108 With this comparison, therefore, he states his mission to
integrate into the West, where monasticism at this point had become corrupt, the
knowledge preserved for centuries in the Egyptian monasteries and to which
Freemasonry itself was heir.
We could mention many other examples present in his texts, but that which is
important now is to understand that Cassian, through coded messages, affirmed
the transmission of an Egyptian-Christian matrix which from the Hermits (who
according to him were present already in the I century AD and directly
connected to the Apostle Mark from whom they had learned the Rule 109 ) had to
us. The scrolls found at Nag Hammadi in 1945, the so-called Gnostic Gospels, are
considered a concrete demonstration of this truth and, for however strenuously
contrasted by ecclesiastical authorities of the epoch and today considered
apocryphal (in the sense of non-canonical), represent the proof of the intense
activity of primitive Christian groups in the region. The Egyptian initiates
welcomed the nascent Christianity and the ancient knowledge was integrated and
renamed, clothed in the new doctrine. Official history calls them Kadosh , or
Saints as, living in solitary and inhospitable regions, they were the perfect
depositaries of the ancient Tradition directly descended from the Builders of the
Temple of Solomon. For this reason, in Freemasonry the 30° degree of the
Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, one of the highest one can reach along the
Path, is called Kadosh .

Fig. 30
The book of the Hermit

In a context in which Egyptian Tradition, Christianity, Hermits, Builders of the

Temple and Freemasons find themselves wholly interconnected and apparently
with a same common root, the Icons of the Tarot, of which Cassian and his order
were such excellent guardians. It is therefore coherent to find in the Tarot this
mixture of Egyptian and Christian traditions (whose iconography is sufficiently
explicit to not require particular decryption at this time) 110 , as well as the
symbolism of the Builders and Freemasons. A relatively evident example
follows. Which card would represent the anchorite? As the name itself suggests,
it is the Hermit. This Arcanum, on the one hand symbolizes the Fathers of the
Desert, as indicated by the presence of soil, yellow as the desert, at his feet; on
the other, for his staff, to relate to the staff of the Fool (whose symbolism leads
back to the 33 Masonic degrees), symbolizes the Kadosh , the 30th degree of the
Scottish Rite. It is no coincidence that, in the folds at the bottom of his robe, he
hides an open book, partly covered by the robe itself. This hidden symbol
uncovers the close relationship with the arcane Knowledge that the Fathers of
the Church, the ancient Egyptian hermits, secretly received and kept safe. 111 On
the whole, therefore, the Tarot is depositary of the teaching which leads directly
back to the Builders of the Temple and which was perpetuated in Provence by
men such as Cassian and Onorato (founder, upon the model of the oriental
monasteries, of the monastery of Lèerins, and Bishop of Arles from 426 AD).
For this reason, until the appearance of the Inquisition and of the Dominicans
who flaunted their influence, it was the Cassianites (or Cassinites) first and the
Benedictines later (Cassian was one of the spiritual teachers of Saint Benedict)
who spread this knowledge, whose alchemical and occult symbolism is coded in
the Tarot and in churches and cathedrals throughout the Western world.

Egypt being an essential key to the knowledge of the Icons, let us dedicate
ourselves to one of the key aspects of its Tradition, the journey of the dead: a
metaphorical representation of the Soul’s journey through the Afterworld. Is
there a correspondence in the Tarot? We already know that the Fool, being
without a number, is considered a card apart. As the creators of the Icons chose
in this way to represent all of them, as a sort of iconographical-symbolical
summary, let us attempt to understand what this signifies. The Fool is a pilgrim
on a journey and the concept of a Way, the notion of a Path, in itself, thus
assumes relevance. The Tarot, represented in its entirety by this card, becomes a
Pilgrimage, a Research, a Path of 21 stations with the World, the circle of the
Zodiac, the Heavens, the Micro- and Macrocosm, as its goal: for this reason,
under the feet of the Fool we find the colour azure, representative of the
heavenly Way. At the same time, this path, still thanks to the World, immaculate,
affirms the sense of purity and of essentiality. In synthesis, we may say that the
Tarot is a Path in the direction of the Heavens and Purity. What is the
relationship with the journey of the dead? The Fool is a guide, precisely as
Anubis who, in the Egyptian cult, is “ he who conducts and guides the souls of
the dead ”. The term Mat (in Italian, matto=fool, insane person), because of a
presumed and erroneous Italian origin of the Tarot, it has always been associated
with a deranged personage, as indicated by the many decks of the past. In any
case, as the Icons were not created in Italy, the word derives from the Persian
language and recalls the expression “ Shah Mat ” which means the “King ( Shah )
is dead ( Mat )”, an expression used also in chess at the moment of capture of the
adversary’s king, in the word “Checkmate.”
The card, therefore, does not symbolize a fool but a dead person in the spiritual
sense, somewhat more reassuring. Who would wish to follow a spiritual path
indicated by an unbalanced individual? Where would the Arcanum of the Arthur
Waite Tarot, denominated “ The Fool ”, lead us? To the edge of a precipice? Or to
lose ourselves in some psychedelic meanderings of the consciousness? We
would wonder at length regarding the curious opinions of many occultists of the
With the Fool representing the dead, the parallelism with Egyptian tradition
becomes perfect: Anubis, in fact, conducts the candidate, the dead person, in a
boat along a river towards the Chamber of Justice presided over by Osiris...

Fig. 31
Journey along the river in the direction of the Judgement of Osiris

Thus, the fact that the Judgement card expresses the concept of rebirth should
not surprise us: who is the dead one, on the initiatic plane, if not he who is not
yet awakened in the world of the Soul? Or from another perspective, has
renounced the secular and is dead to the material world? For this reason, in the
Egyptian initiatic journey and in the Tarot, as testimony to rebirth, we find the
symbol of the sarcophagus. This was not used only as a coffin for the deposition
of the body of the pharaoh, but was considered the entranceway to another
dimension, a sort of mechanism of rebirth. This is why, changing the depth of
the field of observation, behind the personage of the Hanged Man, appears the
form of a sarcophagus, precisely beside the Arcanum XIII, symbolizing death.

Fig. 32
The sarcophagus

Fig. 33
The XIII Arcanum

Here as well appears a multiplicity of meanings: on one side, physical death; on

the other, thanks to the position of immobility of the Hanged Man, a symbolism
of meditation. After all, what is this technique if not the access to a new state of
consciousness, to a new dimension? The Tarot, in harmony with Egyptian
Tradition, invites us to change our life, to follow ourselves rather than others, in
order to realize a true identity and to enter into contact with our interior reality.
Although these demonstrations are only the beginning of a long series of
correspondences with Egypt, we consider them decisive enough to illuminate the
secret structure of the Arcana in relation to the journey of the dead, which,
through the reawakening of a superior awareness, leads to a second birth. This is
the extraordinary teaching, perfectly summarized by the last two Icons, which
alive, awaits those who travel the Path of Initiation : to reach a new
consciousness (XX) in order to reawaken and achieve contact with the Soul

Fig. 34
The Awakening

Fig. 35
The Soul
Footnotes - Chapter 8

97 This neologism was introduced in the last years of the 1900’s.

98 Rudolf Steiner (Donji Kraljevec 1861- Dornach 1925) was the founder of Anthroposophy.
99 It is interesting that in classic Buddhist literature, various systems of thought are cited. These systems are
called yāna , or vehicles .
100 Etteilla , ou l’art de lire dans le cartes (Etteilla, or the art of reading the cards) , Paris 1791.
101 Etteilla, ou manière de se récréer avec un jeu de cartes , (Etteilla, or how to amuse oneself with a deck of
cards) , Amsterdam and Paris 1770.
102 Of the first, let us remember the Tarot of Wirth at the end of the 1800’s, and that of Marteau at the
beginning of the 1900’s. For the English school, the most important was that of Rider-Waite and of
103 We mentioned the Mysteries of the Temple in Chapter 6, speaking of the relationship between
Hierophant and High Priestess.
104 This term is used by the Freemasons to designate God.
105 A group of cards, for a long time attributed to the painter of this name, classifiable as didactic. There
are 50 blades in groups of 10, and originated between 1470 and 1485.
106 In Masonic symbolism, the red wand is a prerogative of the two Deacons.
107 Istituzioni Cenobitiche, Preface, p 27, Qiqajon Editions, 2007.
108 The Freemasons also call themselves Widow’s Sons, a further analogy with the story of Hiram Abif .
109 “ At the beginnings of the faith, few, but of excellent virtue, were considered worthy to be named among
the number of the monks. They received directly from the Evangelist Mark, of blessed memory and first
bishop of the city of Alexandria, their Rule of life. Having retreated to the most secret places at the
outskirts of the city, they conducted a life so austere and of such abstinence, that even non-Christian men
were amazed. ” The Istituzioni Cenobitiche, Book 2 Chapter 5, Qiqajon Editions 2007.
110 For example, suffice it to reflect upon the presence of the Hierophant, of the High Priestess (as a nun),
of the angels, the devil, universal judgement (Arcanum XX, Judgement) etc.
111 We know that the individuation of the symbol of the book is not immediate and may cause perplexity.
In any case, many Codes exist (which, owing to their complexity, we cannot deal with in this context)
which confirm this supposition with extreme precision. This theme as well will be an object of future in-
depth analysis .

Jesus replied to Mary, “Ask what you will: I will answer openly and manifest
without parables; to all that you ask, I will answer with clarity and certainty.
I wish to render you perfect in all strengths and in all fullness, from the deepest
on the inside to the most external on the outside, from the ineffable to the thickest
obscurity, that you may be named complete and perfect in all knowledge.”
(Pistis Sophia)


Following the development of our reasoning, it should be clear that the

proposed point of view is completely different from that held by the greater part
of historians. We feel ourselves much more in line with those who, even without
proof, recognized in these images the guardians of a very ancient wisdom, the
depositaries of a primordial knowledge.
The significant basic difference with respect to those of scholars of the past is
tied to the awareness of the presence of a system of internal reference. This
Structure of Codes and Laws acts as a compass to orient us objectively in our
investigative exploration of the true significance of the Arcana. Analyzing them
further, developing in a more articulate manner the entirety of the Codes, the
researcher verifies the incredible concordance of symbology on different levels,
derived from a vast multiplicity of religious myths. These are not of exclusively
Egyptian or Christian derivation, but derive as well from other sources, from
Hindu tradition, Buddhist, Taoist, Greek, Judaic, etc. This enormous, immensely
rich plurality, may however lead us into the error of thinking that the Tarot is a
syncretism posterior to all these influences, which would be a great mistake. Not
only is it improbable, if not impossible, to create such a compact and perfect
synthesis of that which today appears an almost unreachable vastness and
abundance of mystic and religious traditions so different from each other, but
above all, because it is that same Coded Structure which indicates another truth.
The Tarot is the most ancient and unified of all myths, found also in Christian
doctrine and only later declining into diverse forms with variable restrictions,
from East to West. However incredible it may seem, the Codes reveal with
certainty that these images are the compendium of a unique ancestral event as
ancient as man. This event which, as such, has the nature of History, having
become religion, travelled on miscellaneous paths and in different cultures,
losing itself in a thousand streams and remaining more cohesive and
recognizable, only in that most ancient cult known to us today, the ancient
Egyptian. These are also the reasons for which esoteric Christianity
(fundamental reference for every sincere researcher having at heart the deepest
sense of occidental spirituality), deeply interwoven with Egyptian teaching, finds
its most perfect expression in the Icons of the Tarot.
As ancient and primordial history, enchanted garden of a newborn humanity,
fragmented and dispersed in all parts of the planet, the images of the Tarot,
graphically revisited in the I century AD because of still more remote origin,
were “eclipsed” in a thousand cards of an equal number of ancient decks. The
essential task of Nicholas Conver, the 1700’s card master of this Tradition, was
that of transmitting to posterity a deck in which the symbols, features, and
illustrations, were newly reunited in their original version, precisely as might be
the parts of a sacred mosaic waiting only to be replaced again into their proper
Therefore, his work is not to be attributed to an individual and personal
knowledge which would remain, however genial, still purely subjective. His
Tarot derive from that which he inherited and transmitted from the guild to
which he belonged, becoming himself the vehicle of that Science, which came
from the Egyptian lands, regions which hosted the anchorite Saints of whom we
have amply spoken. Comprehending that the Arcana are the sum of an
extraordinary knowledge transmitted through the ages, you may understand our
perplexity hearing the affirmations of certain authors who have worked with
these images, later claiming their paternity. How might a single individual, after
having dedicated himself to such a monumental and solemn work, claim the
right to consider the source from which all things flow, a creation of his own
monopolistic property? Certainly, it is predictable that one who carries out a
task, whatever it is, transmits to that which he accomplishes, his own energy.
However, to claim that such a patrimony, immeasurable resource for all human
beings, to whom it naturally belongs, be attributed solely to his own genius for
having restored (and only partially reconstructed) it, is pure falsehood.
Furthermore, apart from the evident vainglory of such a declaration, might all of
this agree with the nature of one who proclaims himself guide of others’ Path,
and with the profound essence of these sacred Icons? We prefer to bypass these
small human disputes and to ask a new, important question: is it possible to offer
historical examples in support of the theory according to which the Tarot is the
custodian of a primitive and archaic symbolism? Regarding this, we must
remember that the most complete and exhaustive manner to obtain certain
replies with respect to this inference is the Coded Structure , which, for
complexity and extension of its contents, guarantees a logic, a clarity and a
coherence that quite literally amazes its scholars. Nevertheless, evaluations
rooted in historiographical aspects, and documented by the Arcana, may be
advanced, however different from that which is generally admitted by experts.
Let us remember that playing cards, according to general opinion, were
invented before the Tarot which, according to scholars, was created in the
Renaissance period as an evolved and more learned form of these same cards,
although still of a recreational nature. Thus, beginning with this premise,
historians committed various errors. On the one hand, they dismissed a priori all
elements derived from the card decks precisely because, treating them as the
original model of the Tarot, they did not take them into consideration as simple
later traces (and this is the correct perspective from which they offer prompts of
authentic reflection). On the other, the clues referring to the same symbolism
present in the blades, found also in paintings, churches, cathedrals, palaces,
monuments etc., were viewed as signs of confirmation of their theories and not
possible proof of disavowal of their theses proposing a completely different
course of events. For example, until today, when an explicit reference to the
Tarot was discovered dating from an epoch earlier than that of its presumed
genesis, the dating of the testimony itself was called into question. All this, in
order to indicate it as later in time, thus to render the date in this way inoffensive
with respect to the dominant theory.
On the contrary, in the case of symbolic recall of an unmistakable antecedent, it
has been hypothesized that this last was an object of interest and used as creative
inspiration by those who in later generations reproduced the Arcana, including
the original prototype of the Visconti Tarot. We do not, in this manner, implicitly
admit to the possibility that any historical reference, as those which we will soon
analyze, might have been created thanks to the precedent model of the Tarot.
However, perhaps the correct attitude to assume, is precisely this last.
Let us try following another logic: hypothesizing that the Icons were
contemporary with the birth of the Christian epoch, it would be perfectly
plausible to find their symbolism disseminated in churches, works of art,
paintings and religious objects in general. These vestiges, obviously, might date
back to epochs even precedent to the Renaissance and there would be nothing
odd or contradictory if there should exist documentation relative to all the 1500
years which separate the advent of Christianity from the Renaissance. In fact,
instead of believing that some object found in a church may have inspired the
symbolism of the Tarot, we could imagine the opposite to be true. Everything
would seem suddenly so simple and elementary, as to appear
absurd...Furthermore, as the Tarot uses a coding technique for its own secrets, it
would be just as likely that whoever in the past was initiated into this sort of
knowledge, might have used these mechanisms in order to hide and transmit his
own message, avoiding the danger of being accused of heresy. After all, John
Cassian himself hid his deepest thoughts by the use of similar stratagems.
Therefore, on the trail of these hypotheses, we will attempt to analyze, from a
very different point of view, a few “suspicious” historical cases.

Until a few years ago, in the Fibbia Palace in Bologna, a famous painting was
conserved. Its location today unknown, it portrayed Prince Antelminelli
Castracani Fibbia, descendent of the celebrated ruler of Lucca Castruccio
Castracani. In the portrait, painted in the XVII century by an anonymous artist,
the personage is depicted standing near a table holding in his right hand some
illustrated cards of the Bolognese Tarocchino, in the process of falling, some to
the floor.

Fig. 1
Prince Francesco Antelminelli Castracani Fibbia

The caption of the painting reads:

“Francesco Antelminelli Castracani Fibbia, prince of Pisa, Montegiori and
Pietra Santa, and Lord of Fucecchio, son of Giovanni, born of Castruccio duke
of Lucca, Pistoia and Pisa. Having fled to Bologna to join Bentivogli, he was
made high commander of the Bolognese army and the first of this family to be
called in Bologna, “dalle Fibbie”, took Francesca, daughter of Giovanni
Bentivogli, to be his wife. Creator of the card deck, the Tarocchino of Bologna.
From the XVI Reformers of the City he received the privilege of placing the
Fibbia arms in the card of the Queen of Wands and that of his wife, in the Queen
of Pentacles. Born in the year 1360, he died in the year 1419.”

Fig. 2
Particular of the caption

Although historians do not doubt that Francesco Antelminelli really existed,

and are convinced that the portrait is not a fancy of the painter; still their
attention has been drawn to several aspects which appear unclear. In the legend,
in fact, there are certain errors, such as the attribution of paternity of Francesco
to Giovanni (instead of to Orlando, son of Errico, brother to Giovanni, firstborn
of Castruccio Castracani 112 ) and the identity of his wife, who was not Francesca
the daughter of Giovanni Bentivogli. Despite these inaccuracies, however, no
doubt exists regarding the whole of the caption in general, including the dating;
and for this reason the portrait has taken on the value of a clue, however
debatable, relevant to the history of the Tarot. Regarding this, we offer a citation
that sums up a certain position:
“ This attribution (the invention of the Tarrochino of Bologna to Francesco
Antelminelli) has no foundation, as Prince Fibbia died when neither the Tarot
nor, even more so, the Tarocchino, a reduction of the original deck, existed. On
the other hand, the writer of the caption committed other errors (The references
to Fibbia’s paternity and to his wife, of which we have already spoken, A/N).
(...) It is logical to ask oneself why the descendents of the prince wished to
attribute to their ancestor the invention of the BolognaTarot (...) In our opinion,
a painting of the 1600’s, full of errors, cannot resist against a confrontation with
all preceding documents which confirm the Visconti origin of the Triumphs 113 (the
Tarot, A/N ).”
The author, then, in line with the general tendency, maintains that attribution to
the prince is not possible, as dating the birth of the Tarot to a slightly later epoch
(1440) to that in which he lived, having died in 1419, a temporal contradiction
would exist. Furthermore, the oldest document (dating to 1459) regarding the
Bologna Tarot, which became popular a few years after the production of that of
Ferrara and were considered a 1500’s variant of the Visconti Tarot, would
generate another evident incompatibility.
How have the various inconsistencies that persist because of the objective
presence of the painting, been resolved? Simply by maintaining that a part of the
caption was added later with the sole intention of enhancing the prestige of the
lineage, as the invention of the Bolognese Tarot would have given distinction to
the whole family. Therefore, not only was the paternity of the deck not attributed
to Fibbia, but much doubt was cast also upon the historical reliability of the
painting termed “full of errors”; with the motivation that the cards would date
back to a later period, their presence itself with all relative implications has been
totally disdained. These, as we may see from the enlarged illustration, are
perfectly traceable to the Tarot deck...
Then we must ask, is the idea of the birth of the Arcana during the Renaissance
not only a hypothesis? How is it possible to construct a certainty declaring: “ this
attribution has no foundation ” upon an uncertain supposition such as “ when the
prince died, neither the Tarot nor the Tarocchini existed ”? A different, more
linear reasoning must be imaginable.
The dates of birth and death of the personage are correct, and independently
from the fact that prince Antelminelli was or was not the true creator of the
Tarocchino, in any case, in the painting are present elements similar in all details
to the Tarot. This being said, rather than discrediting this work with forced and
uncertain conjecture, would it not be preferable and reasonable to take note that
there is proof that attests to the presence of a card deck (called the Bolognese
Tarocchino) before 1440? Would it not be much more reasonable?
We believe that, perhaps for these same considerations, there are historians
who have proposed, fortunately, a different vision. Here is what has been
“(...) Those who commissioned it did not know the precise epoch in which the
Tarot had been created, as did not the men responsible for it in the 1500’s or in
the following centuries. In the painting is written that Francesco Fibbia was the
inventor of the Tarocchini, when we know that these are a 1500’s variation of the
deck of the Tarot, already known by the name of Triumphs, in Bologna from the
XV century on. This means that the author of the caption, referring to a
personage who lived between the 1300’s and 1400’s as inventor of the
Tarocchini, did not know the actual date of their ideation but considered them
the original form and not a later variation. Despite this, the dates indicated in
the painting prove to be quite near those hypothesized for the birth of the
Triumph deck, and this cannot but surprise us. If the author of the writings had
mentioned a later date with respect to that which we know as the hypothetical
birth date of the deck of the Triumphs - the beginnings of the 1400’s - we would
have understood that it was an operation conceived as strong evidence for the
role of this family. Seeing that the Tarot cards were so loved and so much used in
Bologna on all social levels. It was by pure coincidence that the author of the
caption indicated dates so near to the real ones, wishing to promote the image of
his own family. Perhaps it is more likely that he came into possession of an
ancient document and copied it, knowing this would bring prestige to the family.
Personally, I consider this second hypothesis much more realistic 114 ”

Fig. 3
The cards of the Tarot

In synthesis, it is believed that although whoever commissioned the painting

did not know perfectly the exact genealogy of the family, as we may be certain
of the historical reality of that which is written in the caption, it is possible to
hypothesize that it was Prince Francesco himself who invented the Tarot even
before those today considered the oldest, the Visconti Tarot. We welcome this
opinion with enthusiasm as it is representative of a modus operandi which clearly
distinguishes itself from the general conduct in that, not taking for granted the
Visconti origin, considers objective evidence for that which it is, mainly, a
testimony detached from the weight of prejudice. However, although this is of
great interest our own point of view is quite different.
In order to better comprehend our evaluation, it is well to remember that
experts maintain that card decks that have been spoken of since the 1300’s are
anterior with respect to the Tarot. At the same time, the Tarocchino is considered
a recreational variation from the 1500’s, therefore of later appearance. However,
perhaps the reverse is true. As we affirm from the first pages of this book, card
decks, including the Tarocchino, are the profane derivation of an ancient sacred
root, that of the Icons today known as the Tarot. Acceptance of this evidence no
longer causes any sort of contradiction: in the portrait are represented playing
cards (in particular the version called Bolognese Tarot) which may date to the
early 1400’s, without this necessitating abstruse conjectures regarding the
adulteration or the lack of veracity of the work of which they are part.
Contextually, their creator, according to the most recent documentation
attesting to historiographical correctness, might very well be Antelminelli. He
would not then be the inventor of the Tarot but, more realistically, the father of
this recreational variation of it (the Tarocchino, precisely): in this way, all would
be explained with no complications or forcing, and in a perfectly harmonious

Traces and signs of an ancient Tradition tied to the Tarot are not to be found
only in paintings but also in edifices dedicated to the Christian cult, as churches.
Among these, in particular, we must mention the Duomo of Orvieto, in Umbria,
one of the greatest masterpieces of gothic architecture of central Italy. Its
construction was begun in 1290 by order f Pope Nicholas IV in order to create a
worthy collocation for the Corporal of the Miracle of Bolsena.The façade, an
enormous frontispiece reaching towards the sky, is the true face of the monument
and is the glowing and scenographic backdrop of this lovely small Umbrian city.
Built on the base of a tricuspid design, still conserved today in the Museum of
the Works of the Cathedral, it is structured by a rather simple compositive
scheme, in which four clustered columns, crowned with spires, originate an
equilibrated verticalism of horizontal lines created by the base, the cornices and
the trilobate loggia, which divide the whole into two parts. The result is a
tripartite wall in which is repeated three times a single geometric motif, that of
the portal framed by the columns in the centre from which stands out a great rose
window surrounded by a square cornice. According to the most recent
historiography, the entire building process may be collocated between the end of
the XIII and the second half of the XVI centuries.
Probably contemporaneous to the body of the building, upon which worked a
multiplicity of artists in the course of the centuries, it was most likely begun by a
Roman artisan, to be continued by Lorenzo Maitani, a sculptor and architect
from Siena, in the 1200’s. After his death, the work was carried on more slowly.
After the creation of the rose window, between 1354 and 1380, construction
continued, of the lateral niches and minor spires (1373-1385) and the superior
part of the front, terminated by Michele Sanmicheli and Ippolito Scalza in the
second half of the 1500’s. From the end of the 1700’s the church underwent
further interventions of restoration, which were finished only in the following
century, reaching its definitive aspect, which may be appreciated today.
Observing the façade in its entirety (fig. 4), not from an architectural, but a
symbolical, point of view, an attentive eye will reveal certain aspects that assume
a particular and precise interest for our subject.
We may immediately note four bronze statues that stand out from the base of
the vertical columns of the cathedral: an Angel, a Lion, an Eagle, and a Bull, the
four living creatures associated with the four Evangelists present in so many
places of Christian worship. First of all, these sculptures, created in the first half
of the 1300’s, given the context of their placement, may be considered a clear
reference to the tradition of the four Evangelists; the Angel, who represents
Matthew, the Lion, identified with Mark, the Eagle with John, and the Bull with
Luke. In any case, the same Christian symbolism is in its turn debtor to that even
more ancient tradition of the zodiacal constellations of which we have already
spoken: the Angel - Aquarius, the Lion and the Bull, which refer to their
namesake astrological signs and the Eagle - Scorpio, as found on the XXI card
of the Tarot (fig. 5, 6 and 7).

Fig. 4
The Cathedral of Orvieto

Fig. 5
The statues of the 4 Apostles

Fig. 6
The World

Fig. 7
The 4 Apostles in the World card, Compared

If on the one hand it is evident that the presence of these elements does not
prove anything specific by itself, this does not exclude that their existence may
serve as a clue or a confirmation for something more precise and quite
surprising. For this reason it we should concentrate our attention on another
particular of the façade, the great central rose window. It is a work traditionally
attributed to Andrea di Cione, called the Orcagna, but was possibly begun by
Andrea Pisano around 1347-1348.
An open eye in the heart of the cathedral, the rose window a point of
convergence for the entire composition, it is constituted by a frame structure of
22 mullions arranged around the head of the Redeemer, with the rose window
situated in two square cornices of which the outer is subdivided into 52 tiles
bearing heads of the saints in relief. The corners of the second cornice, between
the circle and the first square, are decorated by mosaics portraying four more
saints, the so-called “Doctors of the Church”, Saints Augustine, Gregory the
Great, Jerome, and Ambrose. Following, is an overall illustration, much clearer
than many descriptions:

Fig. 8
The central roundel of the Duomo of Orvieto
The first surprising things of this composition are the two curious numbers
derived from its analysis. On one side, we have 22 equal elements, the mullions:
on the other, 52+4, or 56 more components, still equal, the saints. May we
consider this a coincidence, or is it a direct reference to the number of the Major
and Minor Arcana? In our opinion, there is no doubt; the connection is explicit.
Even more because it is a confirmation of a true relationship with the Tarot, the
22 represented by the circle, which reconnects to the celestial world, and the 56
by the square, associated with the terrestrial, respecting perfectly the dualism
which characterizes the general structure of the Arcana themselves:

22 → Major Arcana → Circle → Celestial

56 → Minor Arcana → Square → Terrestrial

If this were not sufficiently astonishing, the central head of the Redeemer with
the four later personages, reminds us distinctly of the symbolism of the Christ in
the mandorla which we find represented also in the card of the World. This
supposition is confirmed, according to a typical mechanism of the Tarot, the Law
of Duplicity , by the statues of the four living creatures beneath (the first clue);
but also by an oval just beneath the face of Christ, which surrounds the figure of
a woman as in the iconography of the XXI card (fig. 4 and 9).
Fig. 9
Comparison of the symbolism
All this is most meaningful, especially considered that, upon entering this
church by the main door, another surprise awaits: on the left, in the Chapel of the
Corporal, is situated a precious artistic marvel, the baptismal font.

Fig. 10
Baptismal Font and Ace of Cups
It is said that in 1372, a great block of red marble was brought to the church to
be used for the font. In 1385, it was transported inside the Duomo and in 1390
was sculpted by Luca di Giovanni di Siena. The work seems to have disappeared
and in 1402 Pietro di Giovanni di Friburgo received the commission to create a
new font with figures, leaves and flowers, with the left-over red marble. The
year after, a Florentine sculptor collocated it in its present position and in 1407,
Sano di Matteo da Siena created its octagonal pyramid cover. If we compare the
image of the font with that of the first card of the Cup series, the resemblance is
undeniable. Is it possible that we are facing another coincidence...? It seems
rather that the presence of so many curious “fortuities”, leads to the only
possible consideration: that at the base of certain symbolic aspects of this
cathedral, so artistically refined and complex, there was the precise intention to
codify the message with regard to the Tarot. It is not possible to doubt an
undeniable, but predictable, sacred and religious purpose. What might instead
perplex, is the evident relationship with the Arcana as, from a temporal point of
view we are, let us remember, between the mid 1300’s and its end, about a
century before that which is estimated as their period of origin. By consequence
then, how may this series of analogies be interpreted? Conforming to the never
definitely proved theories of a Renaissance genesis, academics have maintained
that the creators of the Tarot, according to them in an epoch certainly posterior to
the realization of this work, had copied its symbolism. Therefore, although
accepting the connection with the blades, they evaluated the cathedral’s
depictions from a religious and esoterical perspective on its own. For this reason,
they consider the symbols present in the Arcana as a secondary reproduction and
therefore necessarily consecutive, created with an allegorical, didactic and
educative function, to satisfy the needs of the mostly illiterate populace. In any
case, this conception is still the more benevolent hypothesis, as the extreme and
intransigent current of thought of experts has always affirmed that the Tarot was
created exclusively for recreational and entertainment use. Beginning from this
perspective, research into deeper religious explanations is considered pure
fantasy and quackery, magicians’ phenomena; and in any case, as conduct
incompatible with the rigor of serious historical and scientific investigation.
Notwithstanding the somewhat uncomplimentary premises, we hold to a
different logic: if, as the internal Coded Structure demonstrates, the Tarot
originated in a period antecedent to the Italian XV century, its symbolism was
not copied later, afterwards, as in the case of the present Christian iconography,
but is primordial. Therefore, in a case such as that of the Duomo of Orvieto, we
face the exact opposite of what was hypothesized: the façade, as the font, 115 are or
contain symbolic elements intentionally and consciously placed to indicate a
precise and arcane knowledge related to the Tarot, hidden with the same
modalities with which the cards codify their own messages. This interpretation is
not at all surprising. The cathedral of the small Umbrian city has a relationship
with the secular Tradition of the Tarot. For this reason it is so meaningful that the
most ancient Italian citation regarding the card deck, nayb (in Italian naibi , in
Spanish naipes and in Flemish knaep ), was found in a chronicle of Viterbo, a city
not far from Orvieto, in the year 1379! We may imagine the response of those
who will judge this evaluation to be totally without foundation, maintaining that
the Duomo was built when the Tarot did not yet exist and that proof from the
1300’s cannot hold up against other documents which indicate the Visconti
origin of the Arcana. If this were their reasoning, we feel able to declare that this
mode of proceeding is incorrect and reproachable. Our purpose is not to judge
the inclination of certain individuals to search out only examples that confirm
their own theories, rejecting as untenable those which, however manifestly,
contradict them. However we cannot ignore the fact that a similar attitude is tied
to the unconscious tendency of the mind to guide and limit one’s research only in
certain directions, adopting a point of view which risks emargination of the truth.
All this results in an objective distortion of the entire evaluation of the subject
under examination, including that mysterious and controversial one, the Tarot.
For this reason it is not acceptable that, in order to elude the clues that might be
contradictory, the defence of a supposition (the creation of the Icons during the
Renaissance), should be based upon the presence of the hypothesis itself as an
evidentiary element. In fact, it is not admissible to declare all data invalidating
the birth of the Tarot in the 1500’s unacceptable because it belongs to an epoch
in which the Arcana themselves did not yet exist: we risk falling into a paradox,
as intolerable as it is absurd! Every trace must be judged for that which it is, a
new potential, objective testimony. Loving authentic and sincere research, every
clue (and every hypothetical indication) must be considered without
preconceptions and in total intellectual liberty. We must free ourselves from
every pre-established and fixed supposition, unless we wish to risk pride and
personal prestige in concealing a possible new truth. This is the attitude that we
hope will be adopted by those who, rich in their multiple experiences with the
Tarot, will wish to evaluate serenely the work presented here.

Fig. 11
The Cathedral of Siena

Although the cases mentioned here are eloquent enough, we wish to present
another: that of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Siena. The construction
of this splendid example among the best examples of Romano-Gothic
architecture began in 1229. Between the years 1258-1285, the direction of the
building was entrusted to the Cistercian monks of San Galgano, who called
Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni to Siena. At the beginning of the XIV
century Siena was at the zenith of its prosperity and the Cathedral’s proportions
appeared unworthy of the splendour of the Republic: it was decided then to
construct a new and grand Cathedral, of which the existing church would be only
a transept. Lando di Pietro was put in charge of the project in 1339, but the
plague in 1348, and several wars with bordering States brought the situation
from prosperous to critical and the ambitious project was definitively
abandoned. Work was then continued on the original Cathedral, and was finished
only in 1382, about a century and a half from the beginning of the work.
With respect to our current theme of interest, our attention for this church is
directed towards the Cathedral Pavement. Considered by Vasari “ the most
beautiful, great, and magnificent pavement ever made ”, the pavement of the
Cathedral of Siena is entirely covered by a series of marble inlays, which seem
the tiles of a great mosaic, realized between 1369 and 1547 by more than forty
artists 116 , the most famous of which was perhaps Bernardino di Betto, called il
Pinturicchio. Their number is highly significant for us: they are, in fact, 56.
What does this number tell us? It is, obviously, the number of the Minor
In this case as well, it is not yet possible to prove a connection with the Tarot.
However, if there were other signs, a correlation could be found.

Fig. 12
Paving of the Cathedral

The first great painting (fig.13), exactly facing the principal entrance, may
amaze us for its subject, having apparently little to do with the Christian Church.
Here indeed the figure of Hermes Trismegistus dominates, a mythical and
symbolical figure believed to be the incarnation of the Egyptian God Thot
(corresponding to the Greek Hermes and the Latin Mercury), inventor of writing,
of Alchemy, and of all science which from him took the name Hermetic.

Fig. 13
Hermes Trismegistus

Hermes is represented as a venerable figure, his right hand extending a volume

to another personage, behind whom appears a third figure of youthful aspect.
With his left, instead, he touches a large stone tablet held up by two sphinxes
with tails entwined, upon which are inscribed some verses of Asclepius and of
Pimander, two ancient books attributed to Hermes, part of the so-called Corpus
Hermeticum . At the base of this mosaic, a scroll is engraved HERMES
Mercury Trismegistus, contemporary of Moses). This is an important fact, as
esoterists have always associated the figure of Hermes Trismegistus with that of
the ninth blade of the Tarot, the Hermit, with which he has also a certain
phonetic assonance. Thanks to the “ Codes of dualistic symbols ” (of which we
spoke before) it is possible to demonstrate that this identification is perfectly
correspondent, as the Hermit also represents Thot. The most amazing aspect is
that we may ascertain, always through Codes, a complete analogy with Moses as
well, with which we will, given its immense complexity, in a future work.
Therefore, the Hermit also represents Hermes Trismegistus; and this fact
explains another subtle singularity of the original name on the cartouche,
l’Hermite . Why is there an H at the beginning when in French the correct term
would be Ermite ? This letter, furthermore, larger than the others (a confirmation
of its importance), is a direct testimony of this identification, as it consents the
association of the Hermit directly to the Greek Hermes, none other than the
Egyptian Thot.

Fig. 14
Hermes and the Hermit

We may be permitted to ask ourselves why, in a Christian cathedral which,

according to the logic of the official church, should be quite bare of this sort of
iconography, Hermes Trismegistus is represented, in the first tile itself, precisely
at the entrance, the most significant location in the entire building? In order to
entirely understand the intentionality of this disposition, it is necessary to simply
remember that the secular esoterical tradition, however nebulous and
nonsensical, maintains that the Tarot is an invention of his, already known under
the name of the aforementioned Book of Thot . 117 Then it cannot be another
coincidence that in the first tile is illustrated, precisely as on the cover of any
book, the author of the remaining “55”...? Apart from the correctness of the
theory on the origin of the Tarot, it is undoubtedly an explicit and voluntary
modality for encoding the relationship between the symbolic message on the
pavement and that of the Icons. Once we have understood this parallelism, we
comprehend why, in the mosaic, behind the shoulder of Hermes, there is
depicted a sphinx (fig. 13). We find this symbol, in fact, which is present also in
the card of the Wheel of Fortune when the cards are correctly positioned
according to the scheme of the 3x7 Diagram, thanks to the natural numerical
sequence, exactly behind the shoulders of the Hermit, as in the Cathedral!

Fig. 15
Hermit and Sphinx (at the top of the Wheel)

With this perspective, then, we also understand the reason for the presence of
another tile, for centuries considered an implicit reference to the Arcana. In it, a
wheel with spokes imagined in movement, dominated by an imposing enthroned
emperor and with three personages attempting to ascend and descend. The
following illustrated figures will aid in verifying that not only the overall sense
of both leads back to the representation of changeable human destiny, but that
they undoubtedly resemble each other .It is not by chance that the sphinx, as
might a king-emperor, wears a crown on its head...

Fig. 16
The two Wheels

Thus, if it is true that the portrait of Hermes Trismegistus (in any case, we
repeat, totally extraneous to the area of Christian symbology) was perhaps made
in 1488 by Giovanni di Maestro Stefano, the second mosaic is datable to the first
years of the 1400’s, the work of Domenico di Niccolò, master builder of the
works of the Duomo from 1413.
In these circumstances, as well are we obliged, as dictated by the
historiography of recent years, to hypothesize that the symbolism present in the
Tarot was copied later? Such obstinacy seems completely inadequate to us, also
because this pavement was created as a sort of great educative fresco, a teaching
by means of images, in a manner in every way similar to the symbolical system
of the Tarot itself. We know that this evidence is not sufficient by itself to
demonstrate in a definitive manner the correctness of the hypotheses that we
affirm. In any case, this is not our objective, which, as we have repeatedly
declared, is to demonstrate the presence of a Coded Structure, the sole true
custodian of the significance of the Icons . However, it is certainly adequate to
call into question the traditional historical point of view and create some doubt
in those who categorically refuse the possibility that the Tarot is truly the
depositary of an extremely remote Tradition, a common source of inexhaustible
spiritual richness.
Footnotes - Chapter 9

112 From the work Le attioni di Castruccio Castracane degli Antelminelli Signori di Lucca con la
genealogia della famiglia, Aldo Manucci, printed in Rome in 1950.
113 Storia dei Tarocchi , Giordano Berti, edizione Mondadori 2007.
114 From Il Castello dei Tarocchi , Andrea Vitali, Scarabeo edition, 2010.
115 There are many other elements of the Cathedral which would be very interesting to examine but in
order to understand them correctly, a more detailed analysis of the Codes of the Tarot is required.
116 Among these are numbered Giovanni di Stefano, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Domenico Beccafumi
and others.
117 This Code, together with the fact that the God Thoth was considered the inventor of hieroglyphic
scripture, explains at least in part why there is a book at the feet of the Hermit .

“But in order to accomplish this great task, man must first reach his Self; beyond
all the jumble of things without value which clutter his life, he must find himself:
not the obvious ego of the egocentric individual but the profound Self of one who
is alive in the world.”
(Martin Buber, The Way of Man)

In order to avoid doubts and misunderstandings, let us conclude with some

clarifications, which we consider indispensable. In particular, we wish to address
those who expect to obtain, from the sole reading of a book on the Tarot, a rapid
and schematic possibility of competence allowing a practical and, above all,
immediate use of its cards. We hope also that those who believe it possible,
through reading a simple monograph, to penetrate completely and definitively
the profound esoterism of this subject, will ponder our observations. From our
writings in the course of this treatise, it should appear clear that the Tarot is
custodian of a rich and complex Science, which cannot be completely explored
in a summary and precipitous manner.
This subject requires a disciplined and logical study, which must be carried out
in a progressive and methodical manner. Among other things, a teaching that
guarantees amazing and permanent results in such an immediate way might
perhaps be unworthy of excessive trust. The knowledge contained in the Tarot,
moreover, must be transmitted orally, through direct contact between teacher and
student, allowing the direct transmission of a part of the knowledge that cannot
be integrated by other means. In substance, the entire subject could not be
illustrated in one sole writing, even wishing to do so; but, apart from this, it
might not even be advisable.
The purpose of the present work is to offer, to even the most uninitiated, a
general panorama of the true essence of these images. As this instrument, the
Tarot, during recent centuries, has been ridiculed and debased and even, more or
less wittingly, manipulated, our principle purpose has been to divulge the culture
connected to the presence of the Coded Structure , the only path, however
completely disregarded, leading to a correct orientation.
Furthermore, in order to reduce the difficulty of the task for those who begin
the true study of the Arcana for the first time, we have limited research to certain
basic mechanisms, postponing the completion of the entire system to later
works. You will have in fact noticed that, differently from the canonical
approach to which we have been accustomed by the multitude of essays and
manuals offered by scholars and aficionados of the sector, in this work there has
been no close examination of the single Arcana, neither the 22 Major nor the 56
Minor. This choice is not motivated by the conviction that a review of them is
not worth making. On the contrary, we believe that, owing to their great
relevance, a deeper analysis requires the knowledge of further principles not yet
described here and which are an essential foundation for an efficacious and
detailed research.
If we return briefly to the comparison according to which, to learn the Tarot
means to devote oneself to learning a true language, what we have just said
seems clear. In reference to the grammatical aspects, the laws that govern the
dynamics of the Codes as well as the construction of the sentences in the course
of a reading, it will be well to emphasize that those in evidence here are only a
part of the total number of rules with which the Tarot expresses itself and gives
voice to its own thoughts. For example, the Law of Duplicity , 118 is a particular
case of a more general rule, that of Multiplicity , which concerns other Laws, as
that of Triplicity and of Quadruplicity . Apart from the aforementioned Law of
Difference , of Antithesis , of Contemplation and of Opportunity , 119 there exist also
the Law of Adjacency, of the Ordinate (also called of Uprightness ), of Polarity , of
Analogy , and of Uniqueness (also called of Irregularity ) which, in their entirety,
represent the entire normative body necessary for understanding the composite
organization of the Tarot.
The demonstration, coherent with the scientific and testable characteristics of
each of these regulated criteria, requires explanations and exemplifications
which, as in the case of those already presented, are of well-structured reasoning.
Therefore, it is inevitable to postpone to a later context the analytic study in
depth of the 78 blades that together, through the individuation of keywords, will
allow the construction of the rich vocabulary cited here. These, as does the
system of rules, will be interpreted and elaborated in detail, from a symbolical
and archetypical point of view and, more relevant still, according to the criteria
of decryption amply explained in a work to be published.
In any case, as we have already disclosed, that the learning of the Tarot cannot
derive exclusively from a written teaching, let us attempt to understand the
motivations of this requirement. The Arcana constitute a path made up of precise
initiatic stages, a Path of knowledge that unwinds in interior evolutionary
degrees. This evolution, by its own nature, is generated according to a rhythm of
individual and subjective integration. Despite this, in order to be accessible to
everyone, it must be developed through an organic and consequential learning
model that allows assimilation by everyone, with relative transformation, totally
harmonious. Consequently, the Tarot, as a scientific discipline, must be studied
according to an exact and punctual training process which, in order to develop in
the best manner possible, requires order and timing which only the presence of a
true guide may guarantee. In fact, to acquire the knowledge deposited in these
Icons is akin to living a vivid and highly meaningful psychological experience
that cannot be calibrated nor measured, if not by gradual levels of profundity.
However, heterogeneous personal capacities may be, and in certain cases
effectively extraordinary, a common denominator is indispensable, a minimum
learning interval which, like a safety valve, allows a tranquil and balanced
integration into the consciousness. Therefore, didactic supervision of a perfectly
prepared instructor is necessary, one who, acting as intermediary, allows the
correct development of these principles. 120
According to all of the ancient traditional forms, including those of the Tarot,
Human Consciousness creates its own reality. Its voluntary expansion, then, is
that which each of us should constantly attain, or at least seek to research. When
this movement of amplification, centrifugal (because human beings possess
senses projected externally) and also centripetal (because it is inside ourselves
that the transmutation occurs) is generated, it causes a slow and radical change in
our manner of perceiving ourselves and that which surrounds us.
Let us imagine ourselves children in our first year at school, during that period
in which we learned to read and write. Effectively, that event was a truly
extraordinary change of consciousness, destined to influence all the rest of our
lives. Previously immersed in a world made of apparently inexplicable lines and
signs, finally, after some months of applying ourselves, we are able to
comprehend, in a manner rather slow and approximate, but progressively more
appropriate, that which at first seemed a chaotic and indecipherable whole. In
time, we began to construct sentences, read books and write themes, in certain
cases arriving even to the composition of sublime masterpieces. Our awareness,
in widening its horizon, has completed a journey of incorporation of this newly
learned ability, proving finally to be permanent and stable. And now, the
“dilation” of consciousness effected in us by investigation of the Arcana occurs
in a completely analogous manner, and is destined to mark us in a similar way.
To profit from their study means to learn a new form of observation of reality
and means to include in our perspective not only a new symbolic world, but also
the mysterious and magical universe of Synchronicity. Furthermore, to meditate
upon them and study them in depth is also to confront our Destiny and its
principles, whose mechanics are perfectly represented by the Laws which govern
the functioning of the Tarot itself. The foundations of our life will be revealed to
our eyes in a completely new way; the discoveries towards which we progress
will allow us to act and to decide, even for the most ordinary choices, having
possibilities and ways unknown until then. We offer a small example to better
clarify that which we have affirmed.
Let us refer to that which we wrote regarding one of the Laws of the Tarot and
let us attempt to transpose its meaning into our daily lives, connecting it to the
unusual experience of Synchronicity. Let us imagine our reaction, should a
“meaningful coincidence” occur twice in a certain time period and let us ask
ourselves how we would interpret this circumstance. Let us imagine ourselves
taking a stroll, our minds on the destination of our coming vacation. Our desire
oscillates between two destinations, which, for different reasons, seem equally
attractive: Greece and Kenya. Intent in our stream of consciousness, we meet an
acquaintance we have not seen for years and we strike up an enjoyable
conversation. During our chat, he tells us that he has just returned from a long
and marvellous stay in Kenya. Undoubtedly, we would be surprised by the
curious combination of circumstances, as we would find it odd that we should
meet by chance someone who speaks so enthusiastically of this country just
when we our mind was on the possibility of passing there some weeks of
repose... If we were even slightly inclined towards certain ideas, we might come
to think of this fact as an explicit omen in favour of the destination to prefer.
After taking our leave from our friend, we continue to imagine ourselves, on
the way home excited and a bit amazed, to recount this singular episode to our
spouse and to share with her (or with him) our deductions. Moreover, she or he,
ever the ferociously tenacious Cartesian, after listening to our story, a bit
amused, exclaims lapidary, “ How silly can you be? To trust to random chance
for choosing where to go on vacation! ” What delusion we might feel facing the
impossibility of demonstrating the truth of our hypothesis; and what perplexity
in being, first of all ourselves, perhaps, not totally convince...
In any case, let us ask ourselves again: what might happen if that same evening,
during a brief session for making a definite decision, our favourite channel
should unexpectedly transmit a fascinating documentary about Kenya that we
have not yet seen, describing the enchanting natural landscape, the beauty and
the splendid photographic safaris, and the extraordinary warmth of its people.
Perhaps even the person who laughed at us before for the importance we
attributed to the preceding curious occurrence, owing to this amazing second
event might recognize the perfect syntony (with which the voice of Destiny tries
to make itself heard, to offer us the right advice and show us the most
appropriate direction to follow.
Attention however to not be fooled by the apparent lightness of the anecdote:
beyond the almost banal plot of the episode, chosen precisely for its
ordinariness, this regards a manifestation of one of the most potent dynamics
with which Destiny reveals itself to us, the Law of Duplicity . We know that a
symbol twice present in a spread of cards assures the tarologist of the certainty
of its validity in that particular context; this occurrence, at the same time, offers
the surety that a voluntary connection exists with the subject of consultation. The
same happens for the verification of doubled synchronistic phenomena during a
circumscribed lapse of time: there where a single fact alone would perhaps not
be guarantee enough for a decision; repetition proves to the observer-protagonist
the reality of the hidden sense and intentional relationship with his own daily

In practice, Destiny, through repetition, offers us the possibility of acting

faithfully and concretely because accompanied and supported by a precise, if
rather metaphysical, confirming causal connection.

For a mind trained by years of rationalistic attitude, it would be more than

legitimate to doubt these declarations even if it is not in our own interest to
convince anyone of their validity. All the same, for those who decide to accept
the commitment deriving from research in the spiritual field, everything will
appear ever clearer and more coherent. The Tarot is an authentic and
illuminating Teacher, whose teaching may transform our existence in an
exceptional and surprising manner. The only way to verify this is to live it in the
first person, without prejudice or apodictic convictions created by centuries of
error and falsehood. Truth, too long buried under dense layers of lies and
ignorance, must finally emerge in all its fullness. A modification of orientation
of general opinion would seem desirable to us, beginning with the deep-rooted
convictions of the collective imagination promoted and fostered by certain not
quite disinterested currents of thought. For example, it is known that, based on
the official theological position of the Church, whoever uses cards for the
purpose of divination commits a reprehensible and sinful act. Therefore, many
Catholics believe that the undeniably general use of the Tarot for reading the
future is to be considered a negative habit, to be avoided. Consequently, not
infrequently, neophytes of the Tarot, in an effort to illustrate the new perspective,
which they themselves have only lately discovered, find themselves facing the
criticism of friends or acquaintances of that persuasion. In our opinion, these are
beliefs to uproot entirely, as they are born of the probably most macroscopic of
all errors: that of considering these images, from their own lack of knowledge or
from culpable judgement, a censurable instrument, an expression of negative
forces at least, if not, indeed, dangerous. Regarding these precepts, therefore, we
not only wish to propose a completely different point of view, but also to affirm:

There is no sin in the use of the Tarot, which, exactly the opposite from what
may be believed, is a Sacred Book, pure and original.

Having finally understood this point, watershed between the old world of
cartomancy and the new universe of Tarology, to continue in such dogmatic
positions would be ideology, or paradoxically, residual fanaticism or
superstition. It should be clear, but we wish to repeat, that it is certainly not our
intention to defend the wretched and uncouth use of the Tarot, which has been,
and continues to be, unrighteously perpetrated. Those who, with no preparation
or with a botched and partial pseudo-formation, take advantage of common
gullibility should be severely condemned for charlatanry. We are the first to
categorically distance ourselves from certain behaviours; and regarding certain
ambiguous figures, we would wish to see the application of the strictest
intransigence and the most rigid vigilance.
However, we maintain that the professional who dedicates himself to the
interpretation of the Tarot with true preparation, the fruit of years of severe and
accurate study, above all, permeated by knowledge gleaned from the principles
of Codes and Laws, has the right to credit and publication as much as any other
esteemed professional. On the contrary, for the very essence of that which he
practices, the truly competent tarologist is so, from a technical point of view as
much as from the criteria of evaluation based on his human qualities. In fact, his
abilities as “translator of the Tarot” and his evolutionary level (determined by the
gradual contact with his own Soul) are two intercorrelated and proportionately
dependent phenomena. In this work, willpower is not enough: a true increment
of one’s capacities and comprehension occurs only if there exists a psychological
and spiritual maturity oriented towards self-perfection and the deriving Will for
good. He who makes himself a bridge between consultant and Tarot possesses a
role of help and support of others and, if it is true that he requires no praise, it is
equally proper that he receive maximum respect on the part of any individual or
Footnotes - Conclusions

118 Cf. chapter 4.

119 Cf. chapter 3, 4 and 7.
120 In Italy there is the Academy of the Tarot, which was founded with the intent to offer a structural and
complete course of formation. It offers classified teaching modules of gradually increasing levels of
complexity, available to anyone wishing to attain an integral and accurate understanding of this teaching.

“Wisdom...is not even useful...It is not a servant...one cannot attain wisdom; one
cannot conquer, capture, and comprehend wisdom...It exists only where there is
abundance, only where wisdom is allowed to overflow out of its plenitude...To
prepare a dwelling place for wisdom is to put down roots in the heart of reality.”
(Raimon Panikkar, A Dwelling Place for Wisdom)


Historians of playing cards, although not unanimously, maintain that two card
decks, the cards of Vieville and of Noblet, 121 dating their creation circa 1650,
must have been the joining link between the Italian and the Marseilles Tarot.
These last, according to them, appeared only some decades later in the future
and despite their name, would not be created in Marseilles. These historians
usually maintain that:

“The Noblet deck marks a further step ahead in the creation of the Marseilles
model and at the same time takes a giant step backwards of over a century :
many of the figures in fact seem copied from the Cary sheet, of the Milanese
Tarot of the early 1500’s, the Visconti-Sforza. However, since no complete
Milanese, nor French, Tarot decks from the XVi and XVII century have been
handed down to us, it is not possible to know at which point Noblet detached
from the model which he had adopted. 122 ”
In brief, historians believe:
1. That the Tarot of Marseilles derives from the Renaissance Visconti Tarot.
2. That it does not come from Marseilles.
The first modern deck considered typically “Marseilles Tarot” is that of 1672,
of François Chosson. The name of the cardmaker and the date of production
(“1C72”) appear, as usual, in the Two of Pentacles. Yet, apart from its place of
origin, some scholars have doubts regarding its dating. In fact, observing this
card, we see that two of the four numbers are deteriorated: the initial “1” and the
final “2” appear authentic. Therefore, the presumed (for its “C” form) “6” and
the “7” are a problem.
Why are they in such a state of ruin?

Fig. 1
The Chosson Tarot

It is possible to hypothesize that the wooden block, the original matrix of the
features, was scraped in order to erase the two central numbers, a fact that might
cause one to imagine an error, or clumsiness, of the printer. However, regarding
the colours, it would be impossible to speak in any manner of inattention, but
rather of incompetence, as these Tarot cards are truly a professional failure. If the
features of the illustrations, as are the names and numbers, are traced with
notable finesse and without a smudge, the application of the tints, on the
contrary, as the image here shows, was done with no respect for the borders of
the features and the limits of the margins, its appearance decisively blighted.
This could only have been done by an inexpert printer, a different person from
the initial engraver who, to judge from his work, was of a Benedictine
precision... Therefore, we might suppose that this second cardmaker cancelled,
and engraved again, in a maladroit manner, the two central numbers, in order to
mark the new version.

Fig. 2
Chosson Fool

Why would he have changed the second number representing the century, when
he could have simply changed the decade? The fact that the second number as
well was changed indicates that the wooden matrix was not engraved in the
1600’s but earlier, otherwise there would have been no reason to alter it.
Furthermore, as the letters of the surname Chosson do not correspond perfectly to
those of the name François , (neither in dimension nor in form, as in the evident
case of the letters N and S), we may suppose that a modification was also made
at the point in the printing relative to the surname; and Chosson would have been
none other than the later addition of this seventeenth-century cardmaker. Would,
then, a certain François , the author’s first name, have created this copy before the
year 1600? In 2001, thanks to certain documents published in the 1800’s, it was
ascertained as well that the card deck, at least the version that we know today, is
definitely of Marsellaise origin. Yet, let us remember that researchers share the
idea that the decks of Noblet and Vieville were the trait d’union between Italy and
France, the bridge between the Visconti and the Marseille Tarots, the first
deriving from the second and of which the Chosson deck must be the first direct
evidence. Merely browsing the list of cardmakers, from 1631 authorized by the
King of France to form a corporation but whom we know to be more ancient
still, we realize how numerous must have been the decks that have been
completely lost. Consequently, it is legitimate to ask, how is it possible to affirm
so assuredly that the Marseilles Tarot is of the seventeenth or eighteenth century
and that it necessarily derives from the Italian model? Might we not suppose the
opposite? The master cardmakers in France were well present even before the
fourteen hundreds: faced with a presence so numerous, for the mere fact that up
until now, we have not found decks of that period, are we authorized to think that
there could not have been any? Obviously, one is not forced to embrace this
theory, which seems to us a rigid sort of speculation and subject to obvious
contradictions, as it is based only on certain presuppostions, for example the
Renaissance origin of the Tarot. Studying more closely the story of these images,
in fact, we have the impression that no one wishes to ascertain a truth different
from the one commonly accepted, not so much for the lack of reliable sources,
but in order to not risk the collapse of the academic framework built up around
it. Despite the presence of numerous historical incompatibilities, as we saw in
the preceding chapter, it would seem that these have not been noticed or, much
worse, have voluntarily not been considered.
We understand that for historiographers, probably already in difficulty in trying
to overcome the prejudice according to which the Tarot cannot be traced, unless
as a phenomenon of “secular degeneration”, to playing cards, the expression of
their history as it has been presented here up to this point must seem quite
impossible. Yet, in complete accord with the Tarot’s Coded Structure (which we
invite every sincere researcher to know and study in depth in order to avoid the
risk of a useless apodictic judgement) we wish to illustrate another vision, which
rests on a fundamental principle:

The Marseille Tarot is much more ancient that the Italian Tarot, which, contrary
to what has been maintained up until now, is a later copy of the first .

Of the Marseilles Tarot, manufactured in diverse French regions and

neighbouring countries such as Belgium, Switzerland, or Germany, there was
abundant proof from the seventeen hundreds forward. The copies, created in the
various epochs by diverse master cardmakers and printers, have many
characteristics in common. Comparative analysis reveals the presence of a
common original Canon , a group of similar characteristics present in the many
decks created. Over the centuries, however, the authors heterogeneously
distanced themselves from this Canon . The cardmakers, unknowing of the
authentic symbolism of the Tarot, simplified it to the extreme, introducing, often
and chiefly involuntarily, various errors into their works, which, in a cloning
process, were transmitted to successive generations. For this reason, many Tarot
decks are only copies of more ancient ones, in which the repetition of the same
inaccuracies bears witness to the reality of the process of mere duplication.
Other master cardmakers, however, fully conscious of their duty to respect the
authentic symbolism, produced decks in which the features and colours, identical
and superimposable among themselves although with some difference in the
figures, are quite close to the same Tradition. In this case, it is not a process of
copying and it can be deduced that these Tarot cards, quite homogeneous among
themselves, have a common and ancient source.
In synthesis, apart from other possible and potentially correct sub-categories,
the presence or absence of these general characteristics allows us to identify two
large groups:

1. The so-called Marseilles Tarot;

2. The classic Marseilles Tarot.


In this first group, we include the decks that distanced themselves the most
from the original canon, as those of Jean Jerger, one of the major manufacturers
of the times, and his heirs: Renault, Kirshner and Blanche.

Fig. 3
Juno, Renault Tarot

Fig. 4
Jupiter, Renault Tarot

Fig. 5
Jupiter, Kirshner Tarot

Fig. 6
Jupiter, Lequart-Arnoult Tarot

Fig. 7
Queen of Pentacles, Lequart-Arnoult Taro

All of these decks were also improperly termed Variants of Besançon , the
capitol of what is now the Franche Comté, from which, at the beginning of the
eighteen hundreds, they were thought to have originated. We also find the decks
of François Heri (1680-1746), a manufacturer of Solothurn in Switzerland, of
whom are known two different decks, one from 1718, which copies the model of
Noblet, and the second, perhaps of the same epoch, which is similar to the model
of the so-called Marseilles Tarot . In the deck of Carrjat, printed in Chambery,
although characterized by a different design than the canon-tradition Marseilles
version, we at least find a Hierophant and a Priestess, whereas in the Besançon
Tarot, in which these two figures have been substituted by Jove and Juno. We
may also mention the decks of Rochias, manufactured in Neuchatel
(Switzerland) or of Lequart, signed Arnoult, of 1748, recuperated, as we
mentioned, by the editor Grimaud. All of these Tarot decks have been changed
and modified.
For example, as we have said, the II Aracanum (the Priestess) and the V (the
Hierophant) have been substituted by Juno and Jupiter; the Ace of Pentacles
lacks the typical towers of the Marseille Tarot but more resembles a bellied
trophy, etc. In general, the features and colours are less precise in their details
and richer in ornamental elements. Although in these figures as well we find
vestiges of the ancient tradition that spanned the centuries, the iconography
appears concentrated on the artistic and decorative, rather than on the esoterical
and sapiential.


In this second group, we include the decks of the authors more faithful to the
primitive symbolism: The Tarot of Jean Pierre Payen, of François Tourcaty, and
of Suzanne Bernardin, to mention but a few of the most typical. The first, who
was born in Marseilles but went to live in Avignon, city of the Papal Seat,
partially rejected the traditional canon. His cards, printed in 1713, are
characterized by certain liberties and the evident wish to realize an aesthetic and
artistic work as well. It is, however, clear that his deck was copied from other,
more ancient decks, of which it conserves vestiges and essence. In the Tarot of
François Tourcaty (1734-53), although not all of the codifications, while often
referenced, are present, we can sense the work of an author rich in inspiration.
The Tarot of Suzanne Bernardin (a female engraver, a notable fact for the epoch)
is dateable to 1839 and is characterized by the presence of details and symbols
correspondent with the common Canon .

Fig. 8
World, Payen Tarot

Fig. 9
Temperance, Tourcaty Tarot

Fig. 10
Fool, Bernardin Tarot

Briefly then, all of these decks, the works of knowledgeable masters, are
marked by an obvious adhesion to the features and authentic symbolism at the
base of the Coded Structure . From this perspective, we believe that it would be
well not to assume automatically that when we speak of cardmakers, we are
speaking of those of the corporation, in professional terms as well as symbolical.
For example, an apprentice was required to undergo a period of training which
varied according to the city and the corporation (in Paris it was five years). After
having terminated this experience, he did not become a master without having
worked for a certain number of years as “companion”. Admissibility to the status
of companion and of master, were subject to exams and tests, among which was
the production of a test piece, a product that gave proof of his acquired
capabilities. Obviously, all this did not derive exclusively only from practical
and concrete professional requirements but was connected to a quite precise
symbolism of which in fact the Cardmasters, with their craft, were the heirs and
which furthermore, as we have seen before, bear a marked resemblance to
modern Masonic hierarchy.
It has already been said that among them, the place of most prestige belongs to
the author of a deck of superior quality, touchstone for all others, the illuminated
master Nicolas Conver. Let us, therefore, illustrate the implications of the
modern reconstruction of his deck.


There, have been countless techniques following one after the other over the
centuries, first for the creation of the Tarot and later for playing cards. We
presume that in ancient times they must have been written on parchment or
engraved on wooden blocks; in the following centuries, manufacturers
progressed from the use of blocks in pear-tree wood (or similar, for it’s soft but
strong consistency) as matrix for the figures, together with coloured stencils (the
pochoirs ), up until the 1800’s machine-imposed industrial revolution. In the
figure underneath, a typical wooden print of the eighteenth century.

Fig. 11
Wooden printing blocks of the XVIII century

It is easy to imagine that Tarot cards today are illustrated and printed above all
by means of digital instruments. The Tarot deck of Conver was published in the
nineteen hundreds as well, with no attempt to recuperate the images or the
colours. Observing the various editions, 123 as a matter of fact, it seems evident
that the tints were often applied in a rough and unskilful manner and that part of
the features, owing to the ruined state of the original prints, is technically
imperfect. Thus, as in an ancient work of art, worn by time, one feels the
necessity for reconstruction of the original form, that it may find again its
splendour, in the same way, one who is fully conscious of the Coded Structure
present in this deck would instinctively feel the need to perform a work of
reconstitution and conservation of its images. Consequently, in order to restore
them to a condition respectful of the ancient symbolism, the restitution of certain
elements hidden by improper application of the colours or deteriorated by the
partial attrition of the matrices, as well as the recuperation of the natural
coloration in general, were carried out through digitalization of the antique
illustrations (made possible with the help of modern technology). One of the
most difficult aspects of this task was the meticulous restoration of the specific
gradation of the colours, carried out with radiesthetic measurements that
permitted re-establishment of the frequency level of the primitive tonalities,
beyond the scope of the human eye.

Fig. 12
Radiesthesic measuring instruments

Radiesthesia may be described as a psychic capacity to perceive various sorts

of subtle energy emissions. It is based on the principle that bodies, be they
mineral, vegetable, or animal, give off waves. Every body possesses its own
radiation, and every person as well transmits it, being able at the same time to
sense that of other bodies.
Radiesthesia. then, allows the acquisition of information in areas which
transcend the sphere of the ordinary senses, based on the capacity of the
radiesthesist to place himself in resonance, to tune himself as it were, with the
vibrational level of the object of his research. Apart from other, more detailed
considerations, which we delegate to specialized texts, it is possible to describe
radiesthesia as a millenary science whose most ancient form of expression is
rhabdomancy, the discipline utilized mostly in order to find appropriate sites for
constructing houses and/or temples and to find underground water. We owe its
modern definition, derived from the union of the roots radius (ray) and aistesis
(sensitivity-perception), to Abbot Bouly at the end of the 1800’s, while its
systemization in scientific terms is the work of Abbot Mermet at the beginning
of the 1900’s. Today this practice is often applied in a distorted and uncontrolled
manner as there are many who use the so-called “mental radiesthesia” in which
the question is not asked of the object of evaluation but of the instrument utilized
(for example the pendulum or another sort of tester) which actually has no
autonomous capacity of answering and is merely a material extension of the
operator. This is the reason for which the only correct modality is that of
“physical radiesthesia” which, in contrast to the mental, depends on an
“energetic witness” present in the same space as the radiesthesist who, in order
to obtain the maximum precision and reliability then uses the object to be
measured (the witness) and also a subject for comparison. Specifically, for the
individuation and restoration of the Tarot’s original colours, we had the
extraordinary and irreplaceable aid of one of the maximum Italian experts of this
Restoration is that process by which things are returned to a satisfactory state ,
in this case the Work that the Tarot represents. Naturally, this presupposes that
the whole and genuine original element must be at the disposition of the restorer,
so that he may work on it in its entirety. This does not require creation ex novo .
To borrow a well-known scientific term, we might describe this recomposition as
a restitutio ad integrum : in this case, the ancient Conver deck, respecting the
authentic Tradition, has simply been restored to its original condition. In order to
achieve this result, it was necessary to use many variations of different editions,
which together allowed a clearer observation of certain details, plus more precise
evidence for rhabdomantic measurements of the colours. The result of this
comparative analysis is the deck used in the present volume, the restored Nicolas
Conver Tarot of 1760 which, faithfully restored to its original features, colours,
and brilliance?, has been reprinted by one of the world’s oldest and most
important producers of cards, the editor Dal Negro of Treviso, (to whom go our
personal thanks).
In this manner, with no subjective contribution if not for that concerning the
faces, deliberately redrawn following personal esthetical criteria, these images
now wholly again respect their Canon. Among other things, concerning this, it
may be interesting to clarify another aspect. In the study of the Coded Structure,
we must distinguish between Graphic Code and Text Code (that is, the enigmas
regarding the cartouches).
In carrying out this task, there was no need to retouch any of these writings, as
in spite of the passage of centuries, in the Conver Tarot are present all the
amazing letter codes with neither subtractions nor loss, neither symbolic nor
linguistic .
To explain more clearly the work done, we will compare some illustrations of
an Arcanum, in particular the Fool, belonging to several editions:

Fig. 13
Conver Fool, Heron edition

Fig. 14
Conver Fool, Scarabeo edition

Fig. 15
Conver Fool, Dal Negro Restored edition

It would not escape even the most superficial observer that, however much it
might amaze, the result of the restoration of the 1760 Conver edition, is
surprisingly similar to a deck well known to the general public. In fact, this
correspondence exists, and is obvious. On the contrary, it would be more correct
to speak of a notable iconographic similarity, as this Tarot is almost identical.
Where then, is the difference? Why was the need felt to carry out this
painstaking task? This restored deck, as must now be evident, is none other than
the reclamation of an antique work. As the restorer of a marvellous painting does
not claim its paternity, although he has worked hard to reconstruct it, the same
was done in this case; the images renovated and presented here, are and will
always be free from any and all presumed copyright. The Tarot is an instrument
created for man in ancient times, in order to educate him (in the etymological
sense of ex-ducere ,) to help him to externalize that which he carries already
inside himself, to guide him along the way, to lead him towards the
comprehension of a superior and spiritual sense of existence, counselling him at
the same time in even the most ordinary and practical choices of his daily life.
We might say that the Arcana are an Abode of that Wisdom, of that Sophia ,
which helps us to realize the fullness of our inner Temple. This Abode must then
be accessible to all of us, because it is “ neither a grotto for the perfect, nor a
castle for the privileged . 124 ” As the Gospels remind us, “ No one lights a lamp
and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it
gives light to everyone in the house . 125 ” With words again borrowed from a true
master if wisdom such as Raimon Panikkar, we repeat that as humans in the
difficult attempt to be of support, one for the other, “ we must not hide this
wisdom, neither must we protect or defend it. Thus as a free man goes
weaponless about his affairs, an honest house in an authentically human culture
has no need of defence systems, electronic or otherwise. True Wisdom needs no
bodyguard, nor a copyright . 126 ”
He who writes has spent and spends his life investigationg the Tarot, studying it
and collaborating with many researchers in the sector. As Tradition teaches, each
of us is born with a gift which, once found and placed at the service of others,
reveals itself to be a source of the greatest joy. At the same time, for those who
search with sincerity, the Tarot becomes an illuminated Master, pure, true, and
faithful. This beacon of knowledge teaches that we must not claim any
intellectual property of Knowledge, unless one wishes to commit the iniquity of
plagiarism or the wicked deed of egotistic appropriation of a creation which, as a
Sacred Work, belongs to all humanity. These are the motives for the choice to
carry out this restoration which allows anyone who so desires to utilize freely the
ancient and perfect deck of the Tarot of Conver. It is none other than the work of
a simple disciple aware of the urgencies of his times, difficult and in many
aspects, uncertain and reckless. From everywhere is invoked the necessity of
more sensitivity and deeper awareness and with this work we wish to offer our
own small contribution.
The Tarot can be a powerful aid and, when widespread and understood, can
invest those whom it touches with an illuminating and conscious energy, be they
tarologists or consultants. Its Wisdom is immense and its desire is to bring Light
to the hearts of all human beings, becoming inspiration for some, helping also to
expose those who strive to limit them to exclusively personal and private use.
With maximum respect for the aspirations, even strictly commercial, of anyone,
we hope that they who sincerely wish to investigate in depth the meaning of
these images will do so. And that, once learned in a serious and disciplined
manner, they can and will propagate, as a wave in the sea, through writings or
direct transmission, without limits or cost, the enormous Knowledge of the
The task, sufficiently arduous in itself, does not require egotistical goals of the
single individual, but the dedication and altruistic collaboration of the group:

“As great as the universe, is the space in the heart. There are the heavens and
the earth, the fire and the wind, the sun and the moon, the lightening and the
stars, that which is and that which is not, all is contained therein. 127 ”
Footnotes - Appendix

121 The Tarot of Vieville, of which remain all of its 78 cards, is attributed to the Parigian Iacques Vievil.
Although the production date has been cancelled, analysis of the cardboard and the printing technique
allows them to be dated around 1650. The Tarot of Jean Noblet, instead, is incomplete: 73 out of 78.. It is,
however, securely datable to between 1643 and 1664, as the name of its printer, that same Noblet, appears
in the Parigian archives of that epoch.
122 Cf. Storia dei Tarocchi , Giordano Berti, edizione Mondadori 2007.
123 The French editor Heron published the version used as the principal model of referral.
124 Raimon Panikkar, La Dimora della Saggezza , p. 33, edizione Mondadori 2005.
125 The Gospel of Matthew , 5-15: Mark , 4-21; Luke , 8-16 and 11-33 .
126 Raimon Panikkar, La Dimora della Saggezza , p. 33, edizione Mondadori 2005.
127 Ch ā ndogya-upani ş ad VIII 1, 3.
FILS 1822.
FRESNE 1678.
PARIS 1889.