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Title: Prophetical, Educational and Playing Cards
Author: Rensselaer, Mrs. John King Van
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Prophetical, Educational and Playing Cards" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



    1 Il Bagattel

    2 La Papessa

    3 L'Imperatrice

    4 L'Imperatore

    5 Il Papa

    6 Gli Amanti]

  Prophetical, Educational and Playing Cards


  Author of "The Devil's Picture Books," Etc.




"I proclaim it aloud--What Has Been Will Be--I am Nebo--The Lord of the
Writing Tablet--Glorify Me."


  CHAPTER I--PROPHETICAL AND OTHER CARDS                             27-57

    Divining cards--Tablets of fate--Tarots--Gambling cards--
    Their difference--Persian cards--Oldest emblems--Standard
    packs of Tarots--German designs--French designs--Rouge et
    Noir--Persia and Sweden--Writers on cards--The three
    gods--Derivation of name--Mercury and his predecessors--
    Writer of E-Sigalia--Fortune-telling--The priest of
    Thoth--Speech--Italian Tarots--L'Ombre--From leaves to
    cards--Attributes of Mercury--Atouts--de Gebelin--From
    arrows to cards--Gambling sticks of King Qa--Rods--
    Devices--Argiphontes--Cyllenius or Agoneus--Caduceator--
    Chthonius--The study of cards--Rods--Many authorities--
    Papus--Temple at Baiæ--Book of Thoth--Addha-Nari--
    Heraldry--Tradesmen's signs--Lady Mary Wortley Montagu--
    Terminus--Cestus--Pigs and tongues--Gazelle--Number

  CHAPTER II--THE BOOK OF THOTH, HERMES, AND NEBO                    58-71

    Its leaves--Mercury's attributes--Il Matto--Nebo--Tablets
    of fate--The Atouts--Their significance--de Gebelin--
    Egyptian deities--Parchment records--Thoth the framer of
    laws--Bible of the gypsies--Attributes of Mercury--
    Interpretation--Balaam--The "baru"--Tête-á-Tête
    mysteries--The pack--L'Ombre--Skus--Pagat--Austrian
    Taroks--The romance of a pack of Tarots--Austrian games--
    Austrian game books--A clergyman on cards.

  CHAPTER III--MERCURIUS                                             72-93

    The rank of Mercury--His occupations--His statues--
    Cadueceus--The purse bearer--The sword--The cup of
    Hermes--The four symbols--Nebo's temple--E-Sigalia--
    Pozzuoli--Its merchants--The Serapeon--Serapis--Roman
    villas--The temple of Mercury at Baiæ--Mercurius--His
    work--His parentage--His Infancy--Gifts from the gods--
    Golden-leaved rod--Wings--The planet--Different
    Sirius--Hermes introduced by the Pelasgi--Books of
    Thoth--Inventor of games--Great teacher--Titles of
    books--Connection with cards--Their scientific

  CHAPTER IV--THOTH                                                 94-108

    M. Maspero's description of temple--Mr. Rawlinson's
    account--Psammetchas--Nebo and Thoth--Symbols--The
    month--Its device--Tablet of Khufu or Cheops--
    Hieroglyphically described--Names of gods--Qualities and
    titles of Thoth--At judgment seat--Sacrifices--Books--
    Colleges--Priestess of Thoth--Khufu--Thotmes--Cleopatra's
    needles--Generations of priests--Gypsies--Hermetic
    books--The ghosts--Book of knowledge--Its boxes--Magical
    texts--Amulets--Ritual of the dead--Hall of two
    truths--Osiris--Confession--Three Writings--King of
    Sais--The dumb children--Some of the books of Thoth--The
    temple--Wall pictures--Origin of Atouts.

  CHAPTER V--NEBO OR NABU                                          109-123

    Chaldean god--Different names--Parent--Wife--Presides at
    birth and death--Sword as symbol--Assyrian gods--King's
    temples--Protector--Hymn to Nebo--Borsippa--E-Zida--Great
    library--Invocations--Titles--Emblems--Stylus--God of
    Revelations--Nabi, Naypes or prophet--Mr. Chatto's
    derivation--Early cards in Italy--Planet--Assyrian gods
    identical with Roman gods--The Moon--The month--Dog
    star--Sacrifices--Card emblems--Boar--Temples--Cult--
    Nebuchadnezzar--All wise--Asshurbanipal--Assyrian
    invasion--Mingling of cults--Highway of Egypt--Cuneiform
    inscriptions--Tablets--Texts--Hymn to Nabu--Origin of

  CHAPTER VI--THE ATOUTS OF THE TAROTS                             124-174

    Consultation of the divinities--Wave offerings--Prayers--
    Priests and Priestess--Hermetic books--Ishtar--Rods--
    Jackstraws--Rites--Graven images--Divining arrows--
    L'Ombre--Egyptian gods on the cards--Number One--The
    Pagat--Quotation--Baton de Jacob--Meaning of Rod--Choice
    of the boy--Lottery Chart--Aleph--Meaning--Bohas and
    Jakin--Initiation of youth--Tablets of fate--Korean
    superstitions--Fringes of temple--Numbers or letters--
    Number Two--La Papesse--Isis--Emblems--Qualities--Eve--
    Derivation of name--de Gebelin--Juno--Emerald Tablet--Mr.
    Willshire--Juno's worshippers--Ritual of dead--Beth--
    Number Three--The Empress--Maut--Attributes--
    Number Four--Emperor--Ammon--Daleth--Persian cards--
    Titles--Invocation--Number Five--Le Papa--Phthah--
    Attributes--Hands--Fatima--Number Five's Meaning--Number
    Seven--Chariot--Mystic meanings--Zain--Arrows--Marked Yes
    and No--Chinese sticks--Mercury--Pythagoras--The occult
    seven--Three ages of the world--Seven evil spirits--Hymn
    to them in Assyric--Seven in the Bible--Other references
    to that number--Number Eight--Justice--Ma or Truth--The
    Nine--The Hermit--Aspect--Diogenes--Significance--Rod--
    Texts--Typical of shelter--Teth--Number Eight--Rota,
    Wheel of Fortune--Osiris--Anubis--Typhon--The Circle--
    Wheels of Ezekiel and Pythagoras--Yod--Termius--Use of
    Yod--Anubis called the Lord of Burying Ground--As jackal--
    Number Eleven--Strength--Mystic hat--Una--Amazons--Kaph--
    Goddess Neith--Emblems--Inscription on her shrine--
    Brides--Number Twelve--Il Pendu--Hanged man--Freemason's
    signals--Pagat--Lamed--Its meanings--Vulcan--Number
    Thirteen--Death--Skeleton--Proverb--Horse of Aurora--Bad
    luck--Its reasons--Mem and its meanings--Number Fourteen--
    Temperance--Nut or Nepte--Titles and description--Nun--
    Oil--Oblations--Number Fifteen--Devil--Set or Sutech--
    Parents--Title of Hyksos kings--Ears--Zam--Significances--
    Number Sixteen--Tower--Lighting god--Castle of Plutus--
    Rameses II and the thieves--Bael--Enlil--Second Dynasty
    of Ur--Dr. Radau's translations--Goddess Nin-Mar's hymn--
    Ayin--Number Seventeen--The stars--Dog star--Nebo's
    Eighteen--La Lune--Attributes--Tzaddi--Diana--Number
    Nineteen--The sun--Zoph--Ra and Rameses--Number Twenty--
    Day of Judgment--Resh--Significance--Pluto--Ishtar--
    Epitaph of Lord de Ros--Number Twenty-one--Le Monde--
    Verity--Four Apostolic emblems--Their manifold meanings--
    Tau--Le Fou or the Joker--Mat--Emblems--Shin--Gypsies--
    Early Tarots--Intention of Atouts--Bible of Gypsies.

  CHAPTER VII--PIPS OF THE TAROT PACK                              175-195

    Suits--Court cards--German, Spanish, Italian and French
    cards--Emblems of Mercury--Four castes--Lucky devices--
    arrows--Golden rod--Numbers 17--Symbols of the
    Israelites--Indian--Typical of families--Chinese
    fortune-telling--Zeichiku--Meisir games of Arabia--Naib
    or prophet--Trèfle--Coppas--Assyrian cup--Cup-bearers--
    Saki-bearer--Jamshid--Omar Kayyam--Golden cup--Texts--
    Hall of Two Truths--Osiris--Ma--Thoth--Espadas or Piques--
    Argiphontes--Meaning of sword in Hebrew--Pitch-pot--Money
    suit--Collars--Zones--Meaning of suits--Numerical value--
    Court cards--Their meaning--Seventy-eight Tarots--Rods of

  CHAPTER VIII--SOME OLD ITALIAN TAROTS                            196-207

    Mysteries--St. Paul--Osiris--Bewildered historians--
    "Portrayed on the walls"--Nebo the Writer--Gypsies--The
    crossed palm--Spanish cards--The Egyptian fleet--Essay of
    Count Emiliano di Parravicino--Professional teachers of
    early days--Cards belonging to the Duke di Visconti--The
    Royal pack--The artist da Tortona--A wedding gift--Old
    Tarots--The artist Cicognara--Historic cards--The
    proverb--Fibbias Tarocci--Museum at Bergamo--Victoria and
    Albert Museum--Beautiful Tarots.


    Oldest French pack--The costumes--Charles VI--The
    marriage fête--The fire--Original French Piquet pack--
    Invention of French pips--Vignoles and Chevalier--Jacques
    Coeur--The Palace at Bourges--Money or Carreaux--Swords
    or piques--Sticks or Tréfles--The pun--Red and black--The
    startling inquiry--Tarots, Playing Cards or the Book of
    Thoth--Ignorance of writers--French cards born three
    hundred years ago--Vignolles--Chevalier and Jacques
    Coeur--Piquet--Agnes Sorel--Black and red--de Gebelin's

  CHAPTER X--COURT CARDS WITH FRENCH PIPS                          222-244

    Paio--Stock--Widow--Bunch--Pips--Court cards--Their
    historic derivation--The number of pip and court cards--
    The Joker--His origin in America--Cunning Mercury--
    Fantastic designs--Conservative court dresses--
    Double-headed and index cards--Costume of the Kings--
    Their attributes and headgear--Charles of France--Old
    Tarots in Paris--French cards--The names on the French
    cards--La Hire--The dress of the knaves--Their
    attributes--Patch the court fool--Nicknames--The Bowers--
    Skat--Le Valet--Le Fante--Il Soto--Der Ober--Der Unter--
    The Queens--Elizabeth of York--Her husband's picture--The
    history of Elizabeth our Queen of Cards--Her birth,
    education, betrothal and costume--The jilting Dauphin--
    Louis XI--Marriage--The poem--The credulous queen--The
    elegy of Sir Thomas More--Elizabeth's effigy in
    Westminster Abbey--Card backs--Messages and invitations.

  CHAPTER XI--POINT CARDS WITH FRENCH PIPS                         245-252

    The Pique--Its names--Dr. Stukley's cards--A Picke--
    Clubs, the emblem of Agnes Sorel--Hearts--The Ace--The
    Earl of Cork--Le Borgne--Spanish nicknames--The Deuce--
    The curse of Scotland--Duke of Cumberland--Chinese card
    and counter boxes--Pope Joan--Trey--Nicknames for the
    four and five spots--"Grace's card"--Lady Dorothy Nevill--
    The origin of visiting cards--The backs--Derivation of the
    name of Tarot--The reverse designs--Dolls and their
    furniture from cards--Thackeray's invitation--Sir Jeffry
    Amhurst's bid to a ball--Luck at Piquet.

  CHAPTER XII--"ACCORDING TO HOYLE"                                253-276

    The original game played with cards--L'Ombre and its
    successors--Manilla--The Matadores--Spadille--Nine of
    Money--The game described in "Cranford"--Punto--
    Primero--Philip of Spain--Piquet in England--Earl of
    Northumberland's letters--Sidney papers--Sir Walter
    Raleigh--The terms used in Primero--Its Italian
    rules--Rabelais--Shakespeare's and other plays--Terms
    used in Primero--The games that succeeded it--Mawe--
    Noddy--Gleek--Terms and nicknames used--Ruff, Whisk or
    Whist--Piquet--Its inventors, Rules, Hands--Ballet--
    References--Piquet or Cent--Political satire--Hamlet's
    speech--"The age is grown so picked"--Euchre--"Heathen
    Chinee"--American Hoyle--History of Euchre--Dialect--
    Bower or youngster--Euchre derived from Juch--The German
    words--An unreliable derivation--Poker--Jack-pot--Widow
    and Kitty--Poker, Patience--Rules of game--According to
    Hoyle--His birth and history--The story of Whist--Hoyle's

  CHAPTER XIII--ENGRAVED CARDS                                     277-291

    Print lovers--Invention of Xylographic arts--Earliest
    wood cuts--Double purposes--Rare prints--Gregineur--Dr.
    Stuckley's pack--Cologne engraved cards--Spanish pips--
    German emblems--Martin Schoengaur--Le Maître--His
    designs--E. S.--Augsburg--Its guild of cardmakers--The
    cards of Nuremburg--Jost Ammon--His productions--Italian
    and Netherland cards.


    Invectives from State and Church--Destruction in
    Nuremburg--Its Museum--"The Devil's Picture Books"--
    Bishop Latimer--The Text--German instructive cards--Those
    of China and Japan--The Friend's cards--Dr. Muruer's
    cards--Louis XIV's cards--History of France--Heraldic
    cards--Political and other packs--Cards with Mercury's
    emblems--Harlequin cards--Musical packs--Japanese cards--
    Cards as Christian and Jewish Prayer Books--Grammatical
    cards--Plato's advice--A tract--Astronomical and religious
    packs--Historical cards of the United States--Proverbs.

  CHAPTER XV--EUROPEAN PLAYING CARDS                               308-321

    Cards--Charles V--Proclamation in Paris--Red Book of Ulm--
    Palamedes and the siege of Troy--Egyptian gambling rods--
    Cards as postals--Evolution--M. Angelo--Prince of Pisa--
    Maffei Ringhierri Feliceano and Menesturier--Singer--
    Chatto, 1392--St. Cyprian--Nearsighted writers--The
    points of view--Concealed practices--The game of gold--
    Chinese legend--Connection with divination--Count de
    Gebelin--"The great dreamer"--Connection with magic--
    First French cards--Rouge et noir--Rapid spread through
    Europe--The sailors with Columbus--Introduction of cards
    into America--Italian verses--Pictures--Literature.

  CHAPTER XVI--ASIATIC PLAYING CARDS                               322-340

    Discoveries of Messrs. Cushing and Culin--Arrows of
    Divination--The Magi before Pharaoh--The Rod of Moses at
    Horeb--The connection between arrows and cards--Korean
    cards--Alaskan rods--The game--Hida Island Indian rods--
    The next step--Htou-Tjyen or "Fighting arrows"--Chinese
    lotteries and cards--Derivation of pips--Actor's cards--
    Jokers called Blessings--Educational cards--Japanese
    cards--Historical, gambling and divining arrows--Poetic
    cards--Cashmere cards--Persian cards--Their emblems.

  CHAPTER XVII--CHESS AND OTHER GAMES                              341-364

    Chess a battlefield--The Emperor Akbar and his queen--
    Lady Dufferin's description of the Palace of Glass--
    Living Chess--Two Jokers--Derivation of Chess--Troy--
    Crete--Nig--Egyptian caricature--Korean Chess--Set in
    British Museum--Chess from Brahmins--Ravan, king of
    Ceylon--Seffa's trick--Persian words--Jussef's
    escape--Mora--Draughts--The Pharaoh--Greek and Roman
    names--French games--Checkers--Korean "horses"--Dice--
    German dice cards--Korean dice--Dominoes--Jackstones--
    Materials--Ball--Pieces--Kong-Keui--Chinese and Korean
    games--The sets--Muggins--Milking the cow--Grab--Peas in
    the pot--Horses in and out of the stable--Sweeping the
    floor--Spreading the table--Laying eggs--Setting eggs--
    Hatching eggs--Jackstraws--A set described--Their values.


    Methods--Etteila--Le Normand--Fortune-telling cards--
    Rules--Meanings of cards with French pips--A fortune
    told--The hairdresser of Paris--The First Napoleon--Les
    hautes sciences--Deductions of the fortune-teller--
    Papus--Definition of suits--Key to the pip cards of the
    Tarots--Staves, Cups, Swords and Money--Rules for
    reading the cards.

  CHAPTER XIX--READING THE BOOK OF THOTH                           384-392

    Rules--The first diagram--Directions for divination--The
    young man's career--A second game with its rules--To
    establish fluidic sympathy--The fourth deal--Etteila's


  ATOUTS OF AN EARLY ITALIAN PACK OF TAROTS, 1 TO 6         _Frontispiece_

                                                             _Facing Page_

  ATOUTS OF AN EARLY ITALIAN PACK OF TAROTS, 7 TO 12                    30

  ATOUTS OF AN EARLY ITALIAN PACK OF TAROTS, 13 TO 18                   54

  WITH TWO COURT CARDS                                                  74

  EARLY ITALIAN TAROTS, COURT CARDS                                     98










  ENGLISH, GERMAN AND CHINESE GAMBLING CARDS                           326

  EDUCATIONAL CARDS                                                    354


If an apology is needed for writing again on the subject of playing cards,
the excuse may be offered that new lights have been turned on the subject,
so that there is fresh information to lay before the public, derived from
a close and exhaustive study of the European libraries and museums, as
well as of the pictures on the Playing Cards themselves or prints found in
those repositories, and also in the collection owned by the writer; for
these speak their histories to those who regard their symbols with
appreciative knowledge, since they had an immense significance when
originally adopted.

It is twenty years since The Devil's Picture Book was published and it is
now out of print. The writer has been frequently called upon to furnish
papers on the subject, so that it has been kept fresh in mind. At the time
that the first book was issued it was the only one that had been printed
in the United States devoted entirely to the history of cards not
necessarily connected with games. Since then little has been published on
the subject, and the information given in the present volume has been
largely derived from the writer's own observations and studies.

A collection of Playing Cards, begun at that time with a solitary pack
brought as a curiosity by a traveler from Algiers, that bore the ancient
pips of Swords, Staves, Money and Cups, has now grown to hundreds of
specimens culled from many different countries. Comparing these with each
other, and studying all obtainable histories on the subject, leads to the
conclusion that the writers of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries were correct when they stated that no historical record existed
before the middle of the fourteenth century of _games played with cards_.
But each and all of the writers on Playing Cards agree that there were
cards and that they seem to have been used for fortune-telling before
1350, and also that there was a baffling resemblance between the
traditions of the cards and what was recorded of the Egyptian mysteries
connected with the worship of Thoth Hermes.

It therefore followed that the history and traditions peculiar to the
ceremonies connected with that personage should be studied in order to
trace Playing Cards to their birthplace and find for them an origin,
without weakly stopping at the fourteenth century, and declaring that
cards came out of space, as many authors have done.

The heraldic devices of Mercury, which are the emblems of what has always
been called, by historians, "The Book of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus," are
in themselves mute proof of the connection of the Tarots (as they are now
called) with the cult of Mercury. These cards are the oldest ones known,
and the symbols are retained in Italian Tarots of to-day, so it may be
allowed that when Playing Cards are studied as the leaves of the book of a
cult, not as a game, their own pictures relate the story that has lain
dormant for many hundreds of years. They only required to have a key in
order to be intelligible to any one interested in the subject, and this
has been furnished by recognizing the four attributes of Mercury in the
card pips, which had escaped the notice of students until the present
time, as well as the attributes of the picture part of the pack called the
Atouts, which are those of Egyptian gods.

The popular notion that cards were invented for the amusement of a crazy
French king is quite disproved by the historical records of the Tarots of
the fourteenth century and the packs that survive. There are some
beautiful specimens in Mr. Pierpont Morgan's collection, the emblems and
devices of which are identical with records of the ancient Tarots, and
these cards are very much older than the French packs.

Although the gap between the old cards and the worship of Mercury in
Etruria is still to be bridged through accurate historical data, the
inferential connection is too strong to be ignored and the rules of the
games played with the cards intended for prophesying or fortune-telling,
as well as the tradition connected with the Tarots themselves offer
connecting links with the cult of Mercury that cannot afford to be
disregarded, as has been done hitherto.

Mr. Stuart Culin, in his introduction to "Korean Games," says:
"Investigation has been hitherto comparatively unproductive of results
from the fact that most students have failed to perceive the true
significance of games in primitive culture, regarding them primarily as
pastimes." But he traces many of the games which are common to all
children all over the world to a "sacred and divinatory origin, a theory
that finds confirmation in their traditional associations, such as the use
of cards in fortune-telling."

That Playing Cards are derived from the mysteries of ancient days will
prove to be such a novel idea to many persons that the well-worn
expression: "It can't be true, I never heard it before," will be hurled at
the author. But such critics are begged to pause, to consider the subject
carefully, and to marshal convincing proofs to the contrary before dipping
caustic-tipped pens into the inkwells of ignorance, doubt and disbelief.

Court de Gebelin, over a hundred years ago, was scoffed at and called a
dreamer by the writers who followed him and wrote on the subject of
Playing Cards; yet these same gentlemen with strange accord, while failing
to advance any proofs of de Gebelin's inconsistencies or ignorant
deductions, contradicted themselves by agreeing with his bold statement
that the Tarots were the survival of the cult of Mercury or Thoth Hermes.

The nineteen-hundred-year-old crusade against cards, as wicked tools of
wicked persons, dates from the struggle of the early Christians against
idolatry, and this has been transmitted for generations, although there
are few persons who can trace their prejudices to the true origin. Nor do
they realize how often Divine commands to consult the occult were laid
upon the Israelites without carefully perusing the books of Moses.

It may be as well to sum up in a few words the various proofs that the
Playing Cards we now use are descended from the ancient mysteries. First,
Arrows, and their successors, Straws, Sceptres or Rods. Cups, Swords and
Money have always been used in connection with prophesying. Second, the
emblems of Swords, Sceptres (or Stylus), Cups and Money have always
represented Mercury, Thoth and Nebo as their emblems or attributes. Third,
the worship of Thoth was introduced into Italy by the priests of that
cult, as is proved historically by the remains of their Temple at
Puozzoli, as well as the Temple there to Mercury, near which place the
Tarots are still found in common use in their original form, displaying
pictures of the Egyptian deities. Fourth, the Egyptians or Gypsies are
the fortune-tellers of Europe and always use cards for the purpose. Fifth,
the name given originally to the Tarots or prophetical cards that bear the
ancient emblems was Nabi, Naypes or "Prophets," which name is retained for
playing cards in many parts of the world.

Thanks are due to the custodians of various museums who have displayed
their collection of cards, and in particular to the artist, Mr. Burton
Donnel Hughes, who kindly and skillfully designed the beautifully symbolic
cover for this book.


_New York, 1912._



Playing cards may be classified under three distinct heads. First, are
those intended for divining purposes; these have descended from an ancient
religious cult that would be entirely forgotten were it not for the
traditional ceremonies connected with consulting this oracle, or "The
Tablets of Fate," that are known as Tarots, and which are still used for
fortune-telling in southern Europe, Asia and Africa.

The second division embraces cards used for gambling as well as for
educational purposes, which have a short and easily studied history
covering the time of their invention and the amusements for which they
were intended. These date no further back than the end of the fourteenth
century in northern Europe.

The third division includes the cards used for amusement or gambling,
commonly known as playing cards, which are found in common use all over
the world, although the designs on them vary with the location, and those
familiar in France, England and the United States are unknown in Spain,
Italy, Germany, Sweden, Persia, China or Japan, since each of these
countries has playing cards peculiar to the nation and quite unknown to
the others.

The French and German packs were invented solely for amusement or gambling
purposes, while the Tarots, with their typical and heraldic designs,
transmitted from early days, are now only to be found entire in Italy,
other countries having adopted one portion or the other of the original
set as more convenient for games. This separation renders the decks
useless for divining purposes; whereas, when intact they are distinctly
prophetical or fortune-telling cards, that are derived from ancient
mysteries, not only bearing the emblems of the three prophetical gods, but
also those of the chief divinities of ancient days.

In some countries, such as Persia, only the emblematic or picture part of
the pack, called by the Italians Atouts, is used; but the greater part of
the world ignores these entirely and is ignorant that such cards exist,
recognising only the pip or suit part of the pack, but in almost every
quarter of the globe four suits composing a pack are known, although the
symbols on them vary widely.

The oldest emblems are those of the Tarots that are still those most
commonly known. These are Swords, Rods, Money and Cups, which are the pips
familiar in Italy as well as Spain, Algiers, South America, Cuba, Mexico,
Porto Rico, the Philippine Islands and wherever the Spanish language is
used, for the Spaniards, when conquering the world, carried their favorite
toys with them, introducing them to the natives who accepted the novelty
with avidity and used them for games, just as the Spaniards had adopted
them from the Italians.

The standard pack has ten pip and four court cards, or fifty-six in all,
which are headed by a King, a Queen, a Cavalier and a Knave, and these
cards all have names given to them according to the country where they are
used. Cards for all parts of the world are made in Paris and local
preferences are closely followed, although most countries manufacture
their own cards, and a considerable revenue is gained by taxing the
product as well as the import of cards. But while the ancient emblems are
now commonly used in the countries mentioned, the important part of the
ancient pack has been discarded. This comprised twenty-one picture cards,
which were a most necessary adjunct to the pip cards, for when the
fortunes of the players were to be revealed by reading the prophecies of
the gods it was imperative that the two sets should be used in connection
with each other, but the complete pack that is still known as Tarots can
only be found in Italy.

The German cards were never intended for fortune-telling, but entirely for
gambling, and they have devices peculiarly their own. Hitherto no one has
explained why or for what purpose these symbols were invented, since they
had no particular significance when used in connection with the cards.
They are Acorns, Bells, Hearts and Leaves, and are partly heraldic emblems
connected with the game of Lansquenet. There are but three male court
cards called King, Over Knave and Under Knave.


    7 Il Carro

    8 La Giustizia

    9 L'Eremita

    10 Ruota della Fortuna

    11 La Forza

    12 L'Appeso]

France uses the gambling pack invented for Charles VI about the year 1395.
This contains three court cards--namely, King, Queen and Knave, and the
cards display Carreaux, Piques, Coeurs and Trifles, or as we know them
Diamonds, Spades, Hearts and Clubs. This French pack is the only one
confining itself to two simple dominant colours, while all other cards are
extravagantly blazoned in variegated tints that are by no means as
harmonious as the distinctive French _Rouge et Noir_, which commends
itself so well to players for gambling purposes, that the packs of this
nation are being now rapidly introduced and adopted all over the world to
the exclusion of native designs, even although these symbols have been
inherited from the prophetical cards of prehistoric times. This is due to
the fact that the cards used for fortune-telling are not as convenient as
those that were invented particularly for gambling.

In Persia, where only the Atout or figure part of the pack is used, while
the pip part is omitted, the figures are painted in harmonious colours and
it is left for the tints of the background to indicate the suits. In the
Kile Kort or Cucu pack of Sweden (which also has figures) there are no
colours whatever, but the designs are printed in black ink on white
cardboard. This is also the case with old cards from the Netherlands, but
none of these packs were ever intended for fortune-telling.

There have been many persons who have interested themselves in the history
of playing cards, and some of them have pierced the veil surrounding their
cradle; but, generally, since these students have only been interested in
the cards as toys or gambling instruments or as rare specimens of
painting, engraving or stencilling, the studies have not extended beyond
the time when playing cards became common in Europe, or about the
beginning of the fourteenth century. None of these students followed the
clues that would have proved the original purport of the "tablets of

In "Les Etudes Historique sur les Cartes à Jouer," by M. C. Leber (1842),
the question is asked: "Where do cards come from, what are they and what
do they say?" These queries the writer proceeds to answer only in part,
for he fails to see the connection of the cards familiar to him, that have
French or German pips, with the more ancient Tarots, which, in all
probability, he had never seen. But Leber states positively that cards
"are of ancient origin and Eastern invention, and primarily they
constitute a symbolic and moral game." He professes to be guided by the
emblems on the cards themselves, but he fails to decipher or to understand
the evidences shown by the heraldic devices peculiar to one of the ancient
Greek gods, which would have answered his questions.

According to the Rev. Edward Taylor and other authorities, the emblematic
and mystic cards called Tarots were "born long since in the East, from
whence they were brought by the gypsies for thaumaturgic purposes."
Although it is declared that the gypsies always carried and consulted
packs of cards ever since the wanderers were known in Europe, these people
themselves have no history of their mystic book that they will disclose,
so the positive historical record of playing cards as used for gambling
games or fortune-telling does not commence before the second half of the
fourteenth century.

These cards are the ones we call Tarots, which are still common in Italy,
and the emblems on the cards themselves reveal their original connection
with the worship of Mercury in Etruria, of Thoth in Egypt, and of Nebo in
Babylonia. These three gods have the same attributes, and were worshipped
for many generations in the then civilised portions of the world; yet the
forms of their worship, that have been so strangely transmitted to us
through the greatest of their books, the cards are now little understood
and seldom consulted.

Indeed, the very name Tarot has been deemed by some authors as positive
proof that the cards are the unbound leaves of one of the great books of
the Temple of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus, since they derive the word Tarot
from Thoth or else from Thror Tahar, which, says Wilkinson (Volume II,
page 90), "were the parchment records kept in the Temple, which are
mentioned in the time of the eighteenth dynasty that were written on
skins." The same author states (page 207) that "Thoth framed the laws." In
fact, his temple was the seat of all learning, where doctors, lawyers and
scientists were able to study and to devote their knowledge to the god
they worshipped.

It seems, therefore, that the name is in truth one of the links in the
chain of evidence proving that what we use as playthings were once part
of the great cult of Mercury and his African or Asian _confrères_, in
whose time the pictures and the emblems were thoroughly understood and
were regarded with awe or reverently consulted, since by their means alone
could the wishes of the gods be made known to mortals, through the medium
of the priests of Mercury, Thoth, or Nebo.

The intimate connection of the triple god is no fanciful suggestion, but
is acknowledged by all students. Nebo, of the Babylonians (mentioned in
the Bible), Thoth, of the Egyptians, and Hermes, of the Greeks, were all
worshipped as gods of speech and inventors of transmitted ideas. It is not
credible that in Asia or Africa, even as early as the twelfth dynasty,
that voice language or speech was a gift newly granted to mankind, so
there must have been some reason for the belief that "these gods gave
speech to mankind." This is one of the superstitions puzzling many modern
students who have tried to investigate the mysteries of the Temple of

It is now believed that one of the priests who was connected with the cult
conceived the bright idea of communicating the wishes of the planets, of
the vegetable and the animal kingdoms, as well as those of the patron
gods, to mankind through a well-arranged system that had the Temple of
Thoth for a centre and its priests as interpreters. The power that this
system would give to the learned men congregated in the vast Temple of
learning would be great, and would increase their prestige to a wonderful
extent. Before that time the primitive people were content with simple
means of consulting the wishes of the gods, or with the decrees written at
the birth of each child on the tablet of fate by "the writer of Esigalia,
who was called Nebü." The means generally resorted to were those still
common in Korea, Japan and China, where the oracle is consulted by
throwing a handful of sticks before a shrine. Among the Arabs a sheaf of
arrows is used. Gordon Cummings describes his negro servants using sticks
which were marked and then thrown on the ground, when the natives desired
to be told by their gods where the game lay and what direction to take
when hunting.

The scientific arrangement devised by the priest of Thoth that earned for
his god the reputation of giving speech to mankind was done through
placing on the walls of the temple a series of pictures representative of
the chief gods, such as Thoth, Isis, Maut, Phthah and Ammon, as well as
various virtues, vices, etc., either pictorially or through heraldic and
emblematic devices. These mural pictures could be consulted by the priests
by casting on a central altar a handful of arrows, straws or rods, that
were always connected with the magic of the Egyptians, as is mentioned in
Exodus. As these rods fell they naturally pointed toward the pictures on
the walls, and since these represented nearly every event in human life
the "speech or commands" of the gods were readily interpreted by the
priests, who thus proved that Thoth was the "God of speech" with
themselves for his mouthpieces. This superstition was carried out even to
the sacrifice of tongues, which was customary as late as the days of the
Roman emperors, when tongues were used as one of the sacrifices to

It can easily be seen that the primitive arrows were incomplete without
the interpretation of the pictures on the walls used in their connection,
just as the pip part of the Tarot pack is useless for fortune-telling
without the Atouts, which are supposed to be crude Europeanized copies of
the pictures on the walls of the Egyptian temples representing their
deities. It will also be seen that the cards bearing the comparatively
modern pips of Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs and Spades, or of Acorns, Bells,
Hearts and Leaves have no power whatever of translating the wishes of the
gods, since they were invented for another and widely different purpose.

Some old and beautifully painted Tarots have been found in Italy, so it is
assumed that their use was common among the upper classes in that country,
who could afford to buy the beautiful unbound leaves of the great book of
Thoth, long before there is any historical record of cards either for
gambling or for fortune-telling, and that these cards were probably used
for the latter purpose whenever any wandering priest of the cult could be
induced to interpret their meaning.

We find that these mediæval Italian Tarots are usually painted on
cardboard by a skillful hand, and that when they were used for amusement
the game was called "l'Ombre" (or The Man). The rules for playing it show
plainly that it was not originally intended for amusement, but for a
serious consultation of the wishes of the divine powers. In short, the
game was identical with fortune-telling, since the most important rule
determines that only two persons took part, the one to inquire the future,
and the other to interpret the meaning of the cards that were dealt. Both
the rules for laying out the pack and the value or significance of the
cards point to the occult meaning of the game, which is still played with
somewhat the same laws, although alterations and modifications have crept
in that obscure the original intention, of consulting an oracle which is
probably not even conjectured by modern players of _Tarocci_, as the game
is now called.

The arrangement of the unbound leaves of the book of Thoth Hermes
Trismegistus, that is regarded to-day as a mere pack of playing cards,
enabled the priests (or initiates, as we may call them) of ancient days to
carry a pack on their persons, so that the wishes of the gods might be
consulted at any place. This rendered it needless to enter the Temple of
Mercury for the purpose, which had been the custom before the Christian
era. After this time secrecy was probably necessary, since the priests of
the Roman Catholic Church naturally discouraged any consultation with the
gods of ancient mythology, although the people might cling privately to
the cult that they had enjoyed and had believed in since prehistoric ages.
Through appealing to the prophets (or fortune-tellers, as the priests of
Mercury would be deemed at present) the superstitious people believed that
they were actually receiving divine guidance, and this belief is secretly
held by many, even in the twentieth century; although few of those who
consult diviners through playing cards realise that they are worshippers
at the shrine of Nebo, of the Babylonians; the great god Thoth, of the
Egyptians, or their successor, Mercury, of the Romans.

Many links in the chain connecting playing cards with the ancient
mysteries can be separately taken up and studied. In the first place, the
histories of Mercury show him as being worshipped under several distinct
attributes, combined with that of being the Interpreter or Messenger of
the gods, and the students who were of his cult learned twenty or more of
the arts and sciences which Thoth or Mercury was supposed to have
invented, such as speech, music, painting, agriculture and astronomy, all
of which were under his protection. Virtue, vice, death, temperance,
health, joy and sorrow each had an emblematic figure peculiar to and
connected with it, such as a hanged man or a skeleton. Each of these
figures, if displayed on the walls of a temple could be recognised even by
an unlettered congregation, so the people would have been accustomed to
these representations, even after they were removed from the walls to the
flat surface of the cards and no longer displayed in their exalted

The emblematic figures found on the Tarots and called the Atouts are still
known by the names given to them when the Egyptians introduced them to
Europe, and are as familiar in Italy to-day as when worshipped under the
protection of Mercury. After a little study the attributes displayed on
the modern Tarots show most plainly their Egyptian origin, and mutely
declare their pedigree--the image, value and position of each card,
unchanged for ages, all silently pointing to this. Yet, while strangely
conforming to all the attributes, decorations and posture of the gods as
represented in the Egyptian temples, the designs have been so modernised
as to be at first difficult to recognise.

It is supposed by several authors, notably by Court de Gebelin, as early
as 1773, when he published "The Primitive World," that originally the
twenty-two figures of the Atout or emblem part of the Tarots were painted
on the walls of the temples, a fashion inherited from Biblical times, to
enable the worshippers to recognise gods, sciences, arts or conditions
represented by the figures and their attributes when it was wished to
consult them. Discoveries in Babylonia and Egypt since De Gebelin's time
have confirmed his suppositions.

These figures in themselves were insufficient for communicating with the
gods, for they were speechless, so for the purpose of transacting business
with them the second volume of the book of Thoth was adopted by taking
from the peasants their ancient fashion of consulting the gods through the
throw of arrows or rods. These were marked with figures representing a
father, a mother, a child and a servant, and four tokens or heraldic
devices were also scratched on the rods, dividing them into the suits
that have been so universally retained. These symbols were always
connected with the worship of the gods, and ivory rods bearing these
devices have been found in the tomb of King Qa, who is supposed to have
lived about 4000 B. C.

Thus, the ancient divining arrows became the pip cards now in general use,
while the pictures on the walls, or the Atout part of the pack, is unknown
except in Italy, where the complete book of two volumes with twenty-two
Atouts and fifty-six pip leaves is still found.

Originally what we call the suits or pip cards were probably simply rods
inherited from Moses and Aaron, or perhaps only a quiver full of arrows,
or a bundle of straws, which we know were used at the Delphic oracle; and
out of these primitive articles the cards were evolved. On them were
placed the four heraldic emblems of Mercury by which any statue or
painting of him may be readily recognised. These emblems are convincing
proof that cards were part of the worship of Mercury, since the four suits
of the Tarots represented the four chief attributes of the god, those
symbols by which he is universally recognised, which are _Espadas_
(Swords), _Denari_ (Money), _Bastoni_ (Rods), and _Coppas_ (Cups).

Any one familiar with the many beautiful statues of Mercury that are
scattered through the great museums of Europe, or the funeral urns or
sarcophagi on which Mercury is represented, is aware of this. First, he
appears as Argiphontes, with the harpé or sword at his side, given him by
his father, Jupiter. Second, he is shown as Cyllenius, or Agoneus, holding
a purse, through the meshes of which round coins can be seen, signifying
the protector and representative of merchants. Third, he appears as
Caduceator, or the messenger of the gods, bearing aloft the caduceus, or
magician's rod. Fourth, he is represented as Chthonius, presiding at birth
or leading the soul to the unknown regions, when his emblem is the Cup of

This emblem inspired the shape of the beautiful Etruscan funeral vase,
which is in itself symbolical and derived from the worship of the
Assyrians. He is frequently represented by a cup or chalice, since Mercury
was also the cup bearer of the gods, like the butler of the Pharaoh
(Genesis xl), who protected his master from poison. When he was the
messenger he held to the lips of mortals the seven-ringed cup of sorrow or
joy, and the many significances of this cup, although now nearly
forgotten, were realised by the ancient worshippers as an important emblem
of the functions of the god.

If the Tarots are the direct descendants of the occult images in the
Temple of Thoth, as is conceded, it must also be acknowledged that then
these cards each has a meaning or intention worth studying, if only to
discover their secret; and that if they are connected with the ancient
mysteries they represent human life in all its phases. To wrest their
secret from them has been the endeavor of many writers, some of whom have
learned their portent traditionally, others through careful historical
investigation, while some confess to inspiration without authority or
support, but not one of these authors discovered the important connection
between the emblems on the cards and those representing Mercury
heraldically under his chief guises, although such a discovery would have
been conclusive proof that their surmises were correct and that cards were
the survival of the cult of Mercury and his predecessors.

Nevertheless, a thorough examination of all these writers shows that
through different channels they all come to the same conclusions, and by
comparing their writings with that of the original rules for the game of
l'Ombre (or The Man) quite a definite idea of the value and meaning
attached to each card by the initiates or priests of Mercury may be

Raymond Lulle (1235-1315) gives an historical account of Tarots in his
"Ars Magna." Jerome Cardeau (1501-1576) writes of the historic pack in his
work "Subtility." An English writer named Mathers has written exhaustively
about the great book of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus, chiefly with the view
of explaining fortune-telling through a correct reading of the mysterious

Court de Gebelin, although sneered at by the authors who followed him, who
found his learning too deep for their understanding, has given a lucid
account of Tarots and their connection with divination, while Boiteau, in
his "Les Cartes à Jouer et la Cartomancie"; Merlin, in his "Origin des
Cartes"; Chatto, in his "Facts and Speculations About Cards," and Taylor,
in his "History of Playing Cards," agree that cards appeared suddenly in
Europe early in the fourteenth century, that the cards of that day were
the Tarots, or the fortune-telling cards, that they were altered to suit
Dutch, Swedish or German tastes, or the fancies of a French king,
following also the desires of each nation that adopted them for gambling
purposes, with no thought of the ancient cult to which they had belonged.
Not one of them, however, pointed out the connecting link with the emblems
of Mercury, or explained the reason for this sudden appearance in
civilised nations of these fortune-telling packs, except De Gebelin, while
even he failed to connect the attributes of Mercury with the pips on the
cards or the emblematic figures on the Atouts that still show the
attributes of the chief gods of Egyptian mythology, that would have been
such convincing proofs of their origin.

We are indebted to Papus, in his "Tarots of the Bohemians," for clearly
pointing out that the cards are derived from the book of Thoth and for
explaining the meaning of each leaf. But even Papus, shrewd and far-seeing
as he is, does not bridge the chasm lying between the temples of the
Egyptian deities and the introduction of cards into Europe, although he
recognises the paramount importance of the emblem of Rods, which he wisely
calls Sceptres, since he sees the value that such a symbol of power was to
the ancients, and he never condescends to call the pip by its vulgar name
of Club.

It is the more strange that the surviving signs connecting the ancient
worship of Mercury with the emblems on the pip cards remained unnoticed,
for the old Temple of Mercury at Baiæ remains with its vaulted roof in a
fairly good state of preservation; and on the ceiling of this temple can
still be seen traces of pictures resembling those on the Atouts. Almost
obliterated and difficult to see, since the place is dark and there is no
means of lighting, they can yet be discerned, even though it would be
impossible to reproduce the emblems.

They are in the shape of the old Atouts, that is to say, the figures are
enclosed in a well-defined line the shape of a card, and the same size if
considered in reference to that of the emblematic pictures. Two of them
are distinct enough to show a figure, although which one of the Atouts is
intended it is now impossible to say. Traces of other Atouts may be
discerned all along the roof of the building, although they are being
rapidly destroyed by the weather.

Enough evidence exists now to show that, in this house erected to Mercury
by the rich merchants of Rome, the emblematic figures were displayed as
ornaments on the ceiling and were not concealed in alcoves or curtained
niches, which some writers have supposed was done in the more ancient
temples of Egypt where pictures have been discovered that have puzzled the
savants who have not connected them with the worship of Thoth or Serapis.

Why the emblems of Mercury did not receive recognition from the
authorities on playing cards of the past three centuries, or from others,
remains a mystery, since it seems to be quite evident that, while the
Atouts show the various virtues, vices, arts and crafts, which were under
his protection, the pip cards display his four chief attributes, and that
these were evidently placed in the book to represent the god when it was
necessary to call on his good offices to protect or guide merchants, to
direct love affairs, to encourage warriors or to inspire scientists. No
other derivation for these devices has even been suggested, and these
self-evident links in the chain of evidence connecting playing cards with
the worship of Mercury have been totally ignored. Many students have,
however, pointed out that the Tarots are the survivors of his cult and
were originally the Book of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus.

In the "Catalogue of Playing and Other Cards in the British Museum," by
William Hughes Willshire, M. D. (1876, page 52), he shows a picture of
Addha-Nari, saying, "she is the Isis of the Hindus, a pantheistic emblem
typifying Nature, Truth and Religion." In this Hindu emblematic figure the
four symbols of the ancient Tarots (now the suit marks of the numeral
playing cards of the Tarots and of Italy and Spain) are placed in the four
hands of the figure that has the crescent or emblem of prophetic power on
her head--namely, the Cup, the Circle (or Money), the Sword and the
Magician's Rod. "These are recognised," says Mr. Willshire (page 62), "as
being the symbols of the four chief castes into which men were divided on
the banks of the Ganges and of the Nile. Accordingly, the Cup denotes the
sacerdotal rank or priesthood; the Sword implies the king, a soldier or
military type; the Circle or ring of eternity (that in the hands of the
protector of commerce became Money) typifies the world or commercial
community, and the Staff is emblematic of agriculture or the tiller of the
soil." This connection between these symbols with those on the Tarots has
been copied slavishly by many authors as the only explanation for the
adoption of these devices. That there were in early days these principal
caste divisions is unquestionable, and men of the different professions
selected their heraldic emblems when consulting the oracle to worship or
consult Mercury as Chthoneus, Argiphontes, Cyllenius or Caduceator.

The bridge connecting the great goddess of India with Mercury has not yet
been built, although the foundations have been laid and will soon be given
to the world. It is sufficient to say at present that the mythologies of
Babylonia and Egypt have mingled mysteriously, and that the mother of
Thoth is connected with the Indian deity so that symbols and rites common
to one country are often found in the sister continent.

Before the era of printing men crystalised their ideas by making pictures
to portray the thing or person that it was desired to represent. Thus the
heraldry of to-day is simply this crude idea scientifically treated and
classified, and a coat-of-arms is the name of a family pictorially
represented. The totem of the North American Indian displays his family
cognomen in this way, as do the various symbols of uneducated people all
over the world who are unable to express their ideas in written

Signs over the doors of tradesmen carry out the same plan, as the barber's
basin or pole (the latter being really the caduceus of Mercury, that was
inherited from the doctors who studied at the Temple of Thoth). The bunch
of grapes or bush of a wine dealer shows an inn, and a well-known saying
of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu recalls this, for she remarked, "How should
we know where the wine was sold if we did not see the bush?"

Thus, also, at a cross-road where directions from the god Terminus
(Mercury) were required, his pointing finger [Illustration: pointing
finger] (which was also the Yod found on the Tarots) was a pictured sign
that all could comprehend. It is the same with all the other emblems
connected with this ubiquitous deity, and the ancients understood these
devices far more easily than we of to-day, as the lapse of time has caused
the intention of many of them to be forgotten, and none more so than those
of Mercury on the pip cards of the Tarots. That their meaning is forgotten
is not the fault of those who credited transmitted knowledge through
pictures instead of written words, as the devices remain as a simple key
to the origin of cards that originally were intended only as a means of
communicating with occult powers. (See Numbers xvii.)

In order to come closely to the meanings attributed to the devices as well
as to the figures on the Atout part of the Tarots, each one must be
studied separately, and close attention must be given to the other
connections with the cult of Mercury that have not been dropped from the
cards in the course of ages, but which remain to enlighten us.

Thus, the girdle or cestus that Mercury stole from Venus encircles the
deuce of Money, and all the oldest cards retain this symbol as well as
those manufactured now. This card plays an important part in the
soothsayer's pack. Under some conditions it signifies thieving, which
probably refers to the theft of the girdle. A pig is always displayed on
the two of bells of the German pack that was evidently derived from the
Tarots, since it was sacred to Nebo. Pigs and tongues (representing
speech) were always part of the sacrifice to Hermes at his annual
festival, and both were sacred to Proserpene, whose descent to hell was
celebrated on the day she was dragged from her mother, Ceres, and
conducted by Mercury Chthoneus, to the arms of Pluto.

A gazelle under a palm tree is placed on the knave of Money, which recalls
the worship of Osiris, in which Thoth plays such an important part.
According to a legend, the gazelle gives notice of the rising of the
waters of the river Nile by fleeing from its wonted feeding grounds on the
banks to the recesses of the desert, long before the first signs of the
coming flood are noticed by mankind. The gazelle acts in this way as a
lieutenant to Hermes, or as a messenger from the gods to humans, and it is
sacred to Thoth, who was afterwards, by the Romans, merged into Mercury.
Thoth is also represented on the Fool or Joker.


    13 La Morte

    14 La Temperan

    15 Il Diavolo

    16 La Torre

    17 Le Stelle

    18 La Luna]

The number thirteen has always received mystic reverence, and the reason
for this has been sought by many. Among the Atouts that number is on the
card representing Death. Mercury's festival falls on the thirteenth of the
fifth month, so the thirteenth card has more than one significance to the
believers in the old pictured symbols, particularly when connected with
the Tarots.

The card known to us as the Joker combines in itself all the versatile
qualities attributed to the god Hermes himself, and it is small wonder
that it was so regarded, as he was supposed to represent in his own person
so many and such different things. Among the Atouts it is called Le Fou
(the Fool). It has no number in the pack and was not one of the pictures
that were placed on the walls, but was probably a statue occupying the
centre of the temple, where it might be separately approached. Among the
cards it outranks all others, and is as volatile and as little to be
depended upon as the god of Quicksilver himself. It controls and dominates
every card in both the pip and Atout parts of the pack. It represents the
unforeseen, the unexpected, uncertainty or uncontrollable fate, and the
destiny that presides over every walk in life. It stands for Destiny,
whether it be called Kismet, Luck, Chance, Fate or Mercury, who alone
could tell to mortals what he had foretold at their birth, when as "the
Writer" he inscribed on his "tablets" all the events of life.

Through studying the Joker and the value bestowed on him in the old as
well as in the modern packs the similarity of the powers that he wields
with those that were attributed to the Hermes of the Greeks may be
recognised, and this representation of irresponsibility, of chance or of
luck, is found in every part of the world where divining cards are used.
It marks the difference between the Tarots and the French, German and
Swiss packs that were invented for gambling only, and were never intended
for fortune-telling. That packs in the United States, with French pips,
have a Joker, does not prove that in France the gentleman is known, for he
made his appearance here after 1850, as will be related later.

The way that the Joker is represented varies most strangely. Sometimes the
card shows a group of huddled imps. Sometimes it is a blank like that of
Korea and Japan, or it may show the figure of a clown or a jester like
that of Austria. It would be interesting to follow the history of jesters
through the troubadours from Mercury himself. But each and all
representations have the same value when luck rules, and the Joker takes
every card in the pack.



The complete pack of Tarots (sometimes called "the book of Thoth")
contains seventy-eight leaves, and, of these, fifty-six bear pips, with
four court cards to each suit, which show the attributes of Mercury,
namely: Swords, Staves, Money, and Cups. Besides these, there are
twenty-two cards with emblematic figures, that were also connected with
the worship of Mercury or some of the ancient mysteries; and they, as a
whole, represent the chief moral or spiritual characteristics of mankind,
the cardinal virtues, marriage, death, creation, and resurrection, closely
following the attributes of the Egyptian deities. They are presided over
and controlled by Mercury himself, the card being named in Italy "_il
Matto_," or "_le Fou_"; and we know it as the Joker. This figure was also
originally intended for Thoth or Nebo and is often presented as a vagabond
or tramp, who typifies irresponsibility, the elements of uncertainty,
chance, or luck, that pervade all the concerns of life, and which must be
acknowledged and provided for under all circumstances, and in all social
conditions from the emperor to the beggar.

The close resemblance of this Matto, in all the attributes bestowed upon
him in the card world, to the Greek god Hermes should not be overlooked,
for he was so rapid in his movements as to have quicksilver named after
him, the mineral that has so many qualifications and is so uncertain. The
name was probably given to the metal by the scientists who belonged to the
Egyptian temple of learning. Then, too, its healing qualities were
recognised by the medical world of ancient days, and, as these wise men
were under the protection of the god Hermes, that also may have
contributed to its having been named after him. Mercury also was the
unexpected and versatile god who attended the dying, although he did not
cause the death. He was the inventor and patron of games, although he was
no gamester himself, but he personified luck and chance; so, with these
and many other characteristics, Mercury was, indeed, the Joker of the
pack, "the Trump that captures all other cards."

The twenty-two Atout cards, as they are called, present allegorical
figures in which the attitude, the costume, the accessories, and the
attributes each have a significance that may be traced back to their
origin, and although some of these symbols are still unidentified, the
greater part are recognised, so the value of the figure itself is
understood. Some of them were connected with one or the other of the arts,
crafts, or sciences that were taught by the priests of Thoth, and by them
transmitted to their successors in Italy; twelve of them represent the
gods of Olympus; the others are connected with Egyptian gods or can be
traced to even earlier ceremonies connected with divination.

Before describing each one of the Atouts and their meanings, it must be
mentioned that, while many authors have written of different packs of
cards, there are but two authors who have made a study of the Tarots, and
that neither of these regards the packs as toys or gamblers' instruments,
but as the outcome of a great mystery or religious cult. Court de Gebelin,
as early as 1773, declared: "The complete pack of Tarots, with pip and
emblem cards together, were part of the Egyptian mysteries, and
particularly of the worship of Thoth," and he traces the resemblance of
the figures and the quality or value attributed to them to Isis, Maut,
Anubis, or other personages in the Egyptian cosmogony, which theory is
confirmed by Papus in his "Tarots of the Bohemians." A careful study of
Sir Gardiner Wilkinson's "Ancient Egyptians," and Mr. Rawlinson's "Ancient
Egypt," shows how accurate these surmises were, for the origin of many of
the figures on the Tarots can be traced in these works, although in the
days of de Gebelin, Egypt was a sealed book to students.

Sir G. Wilkinson stated in "Ancient Egyptians" (Vol. II, page 207):
"Parchment was used for the records kept in the temples and is mentioned
in the time of the eighteenth dynasty, when there were histories written
on skins called Thr, or Tahar, and Thoth (Hermes) framed the laws." This
proves that the rules governing mankind emanated from the temple of Thoth
(as the name is indifferently spelled), and that, if it were necessary to
give publicity to the mandates, it could be done outside of the temple
with written characters, or ideographically. Probably letters were not
used at the time, although Thoth was the god of letters and the inventor
of the alphabet; but symbols and emblems were adopted, since they could be
more easily understood by illiterate people. This, then, might well have
accounted for the figures of the Atouts, even if there were no other
reasons for them.

We are indebted to M. de Gebelin for connecting the Tarots with this cult,
as well as to Papus, for the latter, in his "Tarots of the Bohemians," not
only accepts the statements made by the other writer, but tries to prove
that the Tarot pack was "the Bible of the Gypsies" and states that "it was
also the book of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus of ancient civilization."

Other writers who have studied the cards believe that they "are the key to
forgotten mysteries"; but none of them have pointed out the significant
facts connecting the emblems of the suit cards with the heraldic
attributes of Mercury, and none have noted the value and connection
between the different figures of the Atouts with those of the gods of
Babylonia mentioned in the Bible, yet they are so remarkable that it seems
incredible that they should have been so long overlooked by those who were
searching for the origin of Playing Cards.

It is quite evident in the first place that the Staff, or magic wand, must
have been inspired by the caduceus, or, perhaps, by the stylus, which is
also emblematical of Thoth and was used by the Babylonian god Nebo to
write on his tablets of fate. The Sword was derived from the Harpé
presented by Jupiter to his son, Mercury, and was also used by Nebo. The
purse of Money, and the Chalice, have from the earliest times been
connected with spiritual uses and the mysteries of the three prophetical
gods. Any one of the four denoted Mercury, while not one of the other gods
of Olympus, Babylonia, or Egypt was ever so marked, and none of them
combined all the sciences and arts that were practised by his priests and
dedicated to the honour of the god who was worshipped as the prophet and
messenger from gods to men.

The connection of the Tarot cards with astronomy and astrology is a study
by itself, but, since these sciences were part of the course of studies
pursued by the priests of Thoth, many emblems connected with them are
found on the Atouts. These had meaning for those learned enough to read
the signs. But each Atout, be it connected with kabbalism, demonology,
Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek or Roman mythology, is written in a language
now partly forgotten, but once widely known and revered.

At first the book of Thoth, or prophetic cards, was only in the hands of
the priests; but as the meaning of these detached leaves was from time to
time revealed to the educated classes, these persons learned to consult
the Tarots for themselves when desiring to know the wishes of the gods. A
systematic arrangement of the cards could be made by a couple of players,
and this tête-a-tête method of asking for divine guidance is a very
ancient custom, and must receive due recognition when studying the cult of
Mercury, for it must be particularly noted that all the earliest known
games with cards are invariably for two persons and two only, so that when
more players were added to the game its name was altered.

It will be recalled how many times magical performances are mentioned in
the Bible, one of the most notable being in Numbers xxii, when Balak
consulted Balaam. The whole ceremony is there graphically described, but
these two men were the only ones who took active part in the ceremony,
although Balak sent "the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian to Balaam
with the rewards of _divination_ in their hands." By some people it might
be supposed that Balak intended to bribe Balaam for a favorable report
from his god, but "When Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless
Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments" (Numbers
xxiv:1). The whole history of the occult transaction shows that these two
men alone took part, although others stood aloof and watched from afar.

Prof. Samuel Daiches, in his essay, "Balaam a Baru," declares that "Balaam
was a sorcerer pure and simple," quoting from certain Babylonian tablets
written in cuneiform characters, to prove his resemblance to the "baru" of
the ancient ritual who would be deemed a magician in these days. Professor
Daiches also states that, in the Babylonian Ritual Tablets lately
deciphered, is found the statement that "the diviner and the inquirer in
the ceremony have _both_ to be engaged and present when the wishes of the
gods are to be consulted," and that "this was followed in religious
ceremonies in many other countries." This custom is adhered to at present
in the Roman Catholic Church when the penitent confesses to the priest,
the two people being alone and shielded from observation.

All the early games for the Tarots were arranged for two persons. The
modifications that crept in after 1400 allowed other players to join, when
different names were given to the newly invented games. The main rules
were but little altered and the play was only changed in order that others
might take part, which is one of the clearly defined marks indicating the
period when the Tarots were discarded by initiated persons and adopted by
people in general, who accepted the cards for amusement, leaving the
prophetic mysteries to the superstitious. The complete pack of Tarots, as
it came from the ancients, consists of two parts, twenty-two Atouts and
fifty-six suit cards, or seventy-eight in all; but these are used only in

A pack called Tarok or Taroc is a favorite in Austria and Hungary, though
unknown elsewhere, a fact of which the Viennese are inordinately proud,
for they declare, and with truth, that their game is scientific and
requires keen intellects to play it successfully. But their handbooks on
the game do not recognise the fact that their cards are copied from the
ancient Book of Thoth, and that their game is almost identical with the
original one of divination called "L'Ombre." The Austrian Taroks have the
same numbers as the originals, and retain twenty-two Atouts, but only "le
Fou" or "Mercury" has an emblem resembling those on the old leaves. The
designs have within fifty years changed from the German or Italian pips to
the French devices of Coeurs, Carreaux, Trifle and Piques.

"Le Fou," or the Joker, is called Skus, Skis, Skys, or Stüs. The Juggler
of the old pack is named Pagat, and although the lowest in number it has
peculiar values that recall the fact that when used for fortune-telling it
represented the inquirer into the wishes of the gods. The card of highest
value in the Austrian Taroks is the World, and is called after its
predecessor, retaining the name, as well as its position in the pack, with
the value of its namesake, but the picture on the card does not resemble
the original, and it requires the inspection of an expert to connect these
two packs, since the Austrians have strayed so far from the old designs as
to make the emblems hardly recognisable.

The pictures on the rest of the Atouts are not even copies of those that
formerly were used in Vienna. One of these packs is now in the writer's
collection, bearing the date 1780; and showing some faint resemblance to
the Italian Tarots, proves its descent, for in it the figures of Death and
other characters are retained, while the card makers of the twentieth
century adorn the Austrian Taroks with pastoral views, which mislead
students who have not older packs with which to compare them, so the book
describing the Wiener Tarok games claims that these cards and games
originated in that city and are peculiar to that locality.

The Austrian Taroks, given to the writer in 1890 by an old lady in New
York, were wrapped with a faded green ribbon and accompanied with a note
describing how they had come into her possession. It seems that her father
left Vienna when a young man, having got into some scrape through playing
cards. Before leaving he bade farewell to his betrothed and begged for her
garter and her miniature. These he placed with the fatal pack of cards and
kept in his desk. After several years the young man, having made a fortune
in America, wrote to his ladylove, begging her to cross the ocean to marry
him. The answer was that, not having heard from him since he had left, she
had married. Her lover consoled himself with an American wife, and had
many children, the descendants of whom are now well-known people in New

There are several complicated and interesting games played with the
Austrian Taroks derived from "l'Ombre," or "the man," and originally
intended for two players only. One is called the "Great Tarok," another
retains the old name "Tarok l'Ombre," while a third game (a modification
of the last and arranged for more players), is called "Tarok for Four."
The game called "Tapp Tarok" requires but fifty-four cards; it is only a
variant of the others and is most popular. "Styrean Tarok," like the Tapp
game, requires three players, the fourth one being a silent partner or
dummy. These games are so intricate, and have so many rules, that none but
Austrians play with these adapted cards.

In the "Illustrirtes Wiener Tarokbuch," by Ulman, we find this statement:
"Two centuries had not passed after cards were introduced into Europe,
when Francis Fibbia, Prince of Pisa, Italy, arranged from the oldest of
all games, called Tappola, a new one called Tarok, which is found in
Bologna as a favorite game during the fifteenth century. This was played
with Trappola or Trappelin cards, when the original suits were retained,
which were Cups, Money, Swords, and Staves, but after wood engraving was
invented, the French pips were adopted and are now the only ones used in
the Austrian Tarok pack."

It is noteworthy that the Rev. Edward Taylor, in his "History of Playing
Cards" (pages 209 and 457), mentions an interesting pack of cards, "the
imprint of which states them to be sold by John Lenthall, stationer at the
Talbot over against St. Dunstan's Church, London, who carried on business
there from 1665 to 1685, so the cards were probably issued immediately
after the Restoration." They were prophetical or fortune-telling cards,
and their use was described in directions published with them. The pips
were French; the emblematical figures were imitations of the Atouts and
evidently had been copied from part of a pack of Tarots, but the figures
had names applied to them that were not exactly like the originals. The
Ace of Hearts had a figure that was named Hermes Trismagus, which leads to
the supposition that the original connection of Mercury with the Tarots
was not entirely forgotten in the seventeenth century, but was known in
connection with fortune-telling. As a prophet he was still an important
personage. The other figures on the cards represented Roman Catholic
saints or modern heroes, so that of Mercury was entirely out of place,
unless in connection with his cult.



Although treated by modern writers as one of the minor of the twelve gods
of Olympus, Mercury was by no means so looked upon by the ancients, who
revered, feared, consulted and obeyed him as they did no other deity, so
he wielded more influence over the lives of mankind than did all the other
gods put together. Jove was dreaded because a bolt from the blue might
destroy the unwary at any moment; even though Mercury was the lightning
conductor, the latter was not blamed for the catastrophe. Juno commanded
admiration by her beauty, but her cold self-esteem drew few followers;
still, as presiding over maternity, she delivered, through Mercury, the
newly born to its parents. Diana had, perhaps, the largest number of
worshippers, since she had a plurality of attractions, and had under her
protection many and various walks of life, when Mercury acted as her
lieutenant. It was Mercury who lured Proserpine from the side of Ceres,
to reconduct the former to earth when spring followed winter, and it is
under this form, as Chthonius, that Mercury is allegorically represented
as the messenger conducting the soul at death to the future state.

Mercury was the peacemaker, or adjuster of difficulties, as well as the
councillor and intercessor, for he could be appealed to with the certainty
that his orders could be received by mankind, and by them could be
comprehended through a sign language interpreted by his priests. He was in
reality more powerful than any of the other gods taken separately, for,
although they might be lavishly propitiated, they could not reply to
invocations except through their messenger, Mercury. He was also the
inventor of emblems, pictorial art, and language, through which he could
be directly approached and his wishes communicated in response to
invocations by means of the Atouts and the pip cards. Any profanation of
his mysteries was rapidly revenged by his worshippers, so it is little
wonder that they were not placed in town records or in early histories.
Nor, if they were, would these mysteries have been mentioned as Playing
Cards, for the ancient Book of Thoth was not classified as a game, and
until the Temple of Toth, as well as the Serapeon, near Naples, were
destroyed, compelling the exiled priests to carry on their person the
emblems taken from the walls, there was absolutely nothing like a card to
mention in the official records. Students, therefore, must search for
descriptions of wanderers, of soothsayers, of astrologers, of
fortune-tellers, of prophets or of gypsies, if they wish to discover
traces of the cult of Mercury, since it was gradually and imperceptibly
merged into the Playing Cards as we understand them.

There were few of the homes of the rich Romans that were not adorned with
a statue of this god under one of his four great attributes. The best
known is, perhaps, one by John of Bologna, showing him as Caduceator, or
the messenger, under which guise Mercury carries the caduceus and points
with his right hand to heaven. When represented in this way, he is the
bearer of news, of life, and of health. It was his wand, or caduceus,
that, up to the middle of the eighteenth century, was the emblem of the
medical man, who always carried his stick or staff into the sick
chamber. It is still used by barbers, who display his staff, apparently
wound with bloody rags, before their shops, a survival of a custom dating
from the time when barbers were the dentist surgeons and "blood-letters."
His wand was also representative of the stylus which was used to write on
the "Tablet of Fate," for Mercury was also the god Nebo of the
Babylonians, who is mentioned under this name in the Bible. He is credited
with being "the writer in the Book of Fate" and, says a Cuneiform
inscription, "had foretold the destiny of mankind since eternity." The
stylus was also the emblem of Thoth, who wrote in the "Book of Good Works"
after death.


    19 Il Sole

    20 Il Giudizio

    21 Il Mondo

    22 Il Matto

    23 Queen of Cups

    24 King of Cups]

As the protector and foreteller of events, Mercury was represented as
benign or benevolent, but the second attribute as reproduced in his
statues was purely mercantile. These statues are frequently found holding
a purse in the right hand, the coins inside being seen through its meshes,
emblematic of the Money pip on the cards. When represented in this way the
face is no longer joyous or serene as it is when depicted as the
messenger; it is stern, cold and calculating, perhaps rather shrewd, yet
still self-reliant, and with an air of concentration, but always youthful.
As the god could foresee and foretell business probabilities, since they
were already written in his Book of Fate, or could give counsel in
mercantile transactions, Mercury was always consulted and obeyed. It was
due to this that his image bearing aloft the money bag was a favorite
decoration in the homes of successful merchants, who credited the counsels
of Mercury with having caused the riches of Plutus to fall into their

The beautiful statue of Mercury seated idly with a sword girded at his
side, but trailing on the ground, is well known. Here another and most
powerful attribute of the god was silently displayed for worship in all
that concerned enterprises other than commerce, since the sword denoted
warlike expeditions, explorations, and voyages, and was the symbol of
rulers, of soldiers, and of men of a class superior to rich merchants.
Besides, under the attribute of "the sword," Mercury was the patron of
books, and of arts and crafts, as well as the encourager of learning.
Girded with the ever-ready sword, presented to him for his wit and
understanding by his father, Jupiter, Mercury was alert to point out in
the Book of Fate the initiative that should be taken, if success was
desired, and also to adjust quarrels, smooth away strife, or heal
differences. Under the emblem of the sword, Mercury was an often-consulted
oracle. The sword (or lightning) was also emblematic of Nebo.

The fourth guise of Mercury was usually kept for serious or sacred periods
of life, and was seldom seen in the home, as it was reserved for more
grave positions. After Mercury gave up being the cupbearer of Olympus to
the beautiful Hebe he retained the badge of office, and "the cup of
Hermes" remained as one of his attributes as a reminder of this position.
To-day it is used at Christmas in Italy, when presents are placed in
Mercury's cup for distribution instead of being hung on a tree, as is the
more northern custom. The seven-ringed cup was sacred to Nebo as well as
to Toth, and this votive cup entwined with two serpents--now in the
Louvre--proved that the Chalice and the Caduceus were always typical of

As Chthonius, Mercury was always the useful helper of mankind. He presided
at birth, when he recorded the future events of a child's life on "the
tablet of fate," as had been done by his predecessor, the god of the
Babylonians, Nebo. He also attended the dead, when the tablet was broken,
(which was Thoth's perogative), so he is allegorically represented on
funeral urns, where he is seen leading Proserpine to Hell. The vase has
been converted into one of Mercury's emblems on the cards, as the Cup or
Chalice. Many of the beautiful Etruscan vases in the Vatican show Mercury
with Pluto's reluctant wife. Perhaps the most graceful of stone pictures
on this subject is in the British Museum, where a female figure reclines
on a couch, surrounded by a group of mourners, and behind the dying woman
stands Mercury, patient and alert, ready to show the soul to its bourn.
The cup of sacrifice is overturned, the tablet is broken, and Mercury's
task is to guide her spirit carefully and gently to another sphere.

Here, then, are the four attributes of Mercury through whose aid he speaks
to men: the Caduceus, stylus or magic wand; the Coin or ring, emblem of
eternity; the Sword, and the Cup or chalice.

Always depicted as a youthful or, perhaps, irresponsible man, sometimes
described as inconsequent, volatile and light-hearted, still Mercury was
the most affording and helpful of all the gods of Olympus, and it was he
who interceded for men, who presided over births and deaths, as well as
over love affairs, business, and the arts. He was, therefore, consulted at
every turn of life--small wonder that his image was a prized ornament of
their homes, under one of his three attributes, or else near their tombs
under the fourth.

Temples to Mercury, to Thoth, and Nebo, were the principal and most ornate
ones that were built. The great one at Babylon to Nebo was called
E-Sigalia. He was worshipped as the "tablet writer" who foretold fate.
There is one to Mercury that is still in a fairly good state of
preservation and is first of the group to the other gods of Olympus, at
Baiæ, a town ten miles north of Naples in Italy. This temple was probably
erected by the rich merchants of Rome, near their own beautiful villas,
that have rendered the place historical. The other temples are little more
than charming ruins, but that of Mercury survives to remind us that
mutilated rites are still held in his honour in all parts of the world,
although by persons who have lost their clue to the original intention of
the cult that they follow.

It is probable that the adjoining town of Pozzuoli was the cradle of
Playing Cards in Europe, for it was here that the mysteries of the
Egyptian god Thoth were taught by the priests of that cult. Close to the
edge of the water are the ruins of the vast temple of Osiris, or Serapis,
called the Serapeon. Here the strangers worshipped, who landed there
yearly from the Nile, from a vast fleet which was sheltered in the bay of
Baiæ. Its arrival was heralded by a number of swift yachts that could be
recognized as they passed through the narrow straits between Capri and the
mainland with topsails flying, a privilege that was accorded to none but
the visitors from Alexandria, who were too powerful to offend and too
desirable not to conciliate.

The exports of corn from Alexandria were of such importance to Italy that
the trade enjoyed the peculiar protection of the State, and "the
Alexandrian corn fleet," says Merivale ("Roman Empire," Volume IV, page
392), "enjoyed the protection of a convoy of war galleys that was met by a
deputation of senators."

The visitors landed at Pozzuoli, at the spot where St. Paul disembarked
from the _Castor and Pollox_, in a bay that sheltered mariners from Spain,
Sardinia, Elba, Cyprus and all the great trading ports of Asia Minor, the
isles of the Ægean Sea and, above all, Greece. This great centre received
merchandise, iron and fine tools from the clever workmen of Elba, and
gorgeous carpets from Phoenicia, as well as Egyptian goods and cults; so
it was natural that what was presented at this port should also be
exported from there. Thus it was with the learning and the arts of Egypt
that were taught by her priests or initiates in the temple erected by them
at this spot, which points to the probability that their great book was
from this centre scattered over Europe.

What is now called the Serapeon is one of the most remarkable ruins in
Italy, for through some volcanic action it was buried beneath the sea in
the twelfth century during the last eruption of the Solfatara, reappearing
after another volcanic outburst in 1538. It had been forgotten for
centuries, but when the fresh movement of that ever-swaying shore made the
waters recede, the temple again appeared above the surface. Some of its
marble columns are still erect, although they are honeycombed with holes
made by a little bivalve that is still found in the bay of Baiæ, and in
these perforations countless of their shells can be seen. Enough of the
temple remains to record the fact that the Egyptians were numerous and
prosperous on the foreign shore, and it is probable that it was built 211
B. C., although many students think its erection was even earlier.

Serapis, or Osiris, was worshipped as Hermes, or Mercury, by the Romans,
which worship was introduced into the neighbouring city of Rome by the
Emperor Antoninus Pius, in A. D. 146, which may indicate the date of the
Temple of Serapis (Mercury).

Serapis was the god of commerce, so his shrine was enriched by the
merchants who thronged to the ever-busy port. It was probably after this
temple (the original home of Mercury) was submerged, that the smaller one
was erected to him at Baiæ. The latter was a famous marine watering place
of ancient Italy, perched on an indentation of the western shore of the
Bay of Naples. It is celebrated for the softness of its climate, and the
abundance of its hot springs, so it became fashionable about the era of
Lucullus, the ruins of whose magnificent villa, as well as those of Cæsar,
Pompey and Augustus, still remain. It was a favourite resort until the
invasion of the barbarians under Theodoric the Goth.

Horace alludes to the palaces and temples overhanging the sea, but most of
these have now fallen into the water, where beautiful columns may be seen
beneath the waves.

Besides these luxurious homes, and the vast temple of Serapis that was so
near, there remain ruins of a temple to Jupiter, another to Venus, and
others that are unidentified. But the one that remains in the best
condition and state of preservation is Mercury's, as the domed roof
protected it when the others were destroyed by the ashes from the
neighbouring volcano. The façade of the temple has been removed, but one
long vaulted hall remains. It is not pierced with windows, and was
probably intended to be dark, for the better perpetration of mysteries. On
the ceiling may be traced oblong shaped paintings, "men portrayed upon the
wall," that are too much defaced to identify, but they recall the shape
and approximate size of the Atouts of the Tarots. These may be seen at
stated intervals, and, when originally placed there, would have
accommodated the twenty-two Atout cards ranged in the order in which they
are now numbered. It was supposed that the emblematic figures representing
Osiris, Maut, Isis and other deities with the virtues, vices, love,
marriage, death, etc., were placed in recesses or alcoves in the Egyptian
temples, but if these half-obliterated figures in the temple at Baiæ were
intended to represent the Atouts, a different plan was followed, more like
that mentioned in Ezekiel xxiii:14. It may have been that the priests
followed the idea of putting the figures on the ceiling, so that they
might teach their followers the significance of the emblems when it was no
longer worth while to make mysteries of them and to conceal them.

Beside the temple, and opening from it, is an inner room that was probably
once covered by a roof, but that has fallen, and now the space is only an
enclosed court. In the centre remains what might have been a platform or
altar where the sacrifices of pigs or tongues, and of other things
immolated to Mercury, were made yearly at the time of his festival, on the
thirteenth of May.

Prof. Charles Anthon, in his "Classical Dictionary," when describing
Mercury, says:

"Mercurius was a celebrated god of antiquity, called Hermes by the Greeks.
He was the messenger of the gods and of Jupiter in particular. He was the
god of speech, of eloquence, the patron of orators, of merchants, and of
all dishonest persons, particularly thieves, of travellers, and of
shepherds. He also presided over highways and crossways, and conducted the
souls of the dead to the world below, and it would be nearly impossible to
discover anything about which this versatile god could not be consulted
through his learned priests, who had been taught the gift of speech from
him that they transmitted to their followers. The Egyptians ascribed to
Hermes the invention of letters, and the Greeks accredited him with many
other important improvements that made men's lives happier or better, such
as the invention of the lyre, as well as the regulation of commerce, and
the improvement of gymnastic exercises, while, by a strange perversion the
Greeks made Hermes the protector of thieves, when, in Egypt, he was the
god of merchants, so that it may be possible that the crafty god favoured
the person who first propitiated him or, perhaps, the highest bidder."

Mercury was the son of Jupiter by the brightest of the Pleiades, Maia,
herself the daughter of Atlas, King of Mauritania, and Pleione, one of the
Oceanides, or ocean nymphs whose mother was Tethys, and father, Oceanus.
Such distinguished ancestry may well have placed the ever-youthful Mercury
among the presiding deities of Olympus, even if he had not inherited the
mantle of the Egyptian god Thoth, and with it the ægis of the god of the
Babylonians, Nebo, who was the arbiter of the fate of mankind.

His infancy was intrusted to the Seasons, who could not prevent his
stealing the trident of Neptune, the girdle of Venus, the sword of Mars,
and the sceptre of Jupiter, all of which are displayed on the old pip
cards, the sword and sceptre being two of the pips, while the girdle of
Venus encircles the Deuce of Money.

The ingenious god presented the lyre that he invented to Apollo, receiving
in exchange the "golden three-leaved rod," called by the poets _Aurea
virga_. It was represented as a wand of laurel, or olive, with two dainty
wings on one end, and entwined with two serpents, the whole emblematical
of many things besides peace, or a flag of truce, for which it was
generally used. This rod entwined with serpents is one of the most ancient
symbols and is found on a vase discovered in Babylonia that is supposed to
have been used 2350 B. C. Another device showed the staff wound with ropes
tied after a peculiar fashion, and when so depicted the caduceus
represented commerce and merchants, since the rope tied after a certain
fashion was the token of the Phoenician traders. This is retained on the
Ace of Sticks in the Tarot pack. When the caduceus was wound with stripes
of red and white it represented surgeons, or the healing arts; and, as has
been mentioned, is so displayed on barbers' poles to-day. The stick wound
in this way also represented birth, and, set before the door, was a token
of Mercury's recent visit carrying a babe from Juno to its parents. The
caduceus served Mercury as a herald's staff, and this name was sometimes
applied to the white wand or rod that in time of war was regarded as a
signal for peace.

The wings of Mercury typify the planet named for him, that is so fast that
it completes its revolution around the sun in a little less than three
months. He is connected with the old Israelitish legend, referred to in
Ezekiel ix:2, where Nebo is one of the seven planets.

The important place given to the rod in the Bible must not be overlooked.
It is closely connected with the arrow of primitive peoples, that was used
not only for war or the chase, but serving also to ascertain the wishes of
the gods, for when a bundle of arrows was cast to the ground from a quiver
or the hand, according to certain well-known laws, they indicated the
wishes of the divine power by the direction in which they fell. This is
recalled in Jeremiah, in the story of Jonathan and David, besides in many
other instances.

It was a natural sequence that Mercury, who had inherited the "tablet of
fate" from Nebo of the Babylonians, should also have received the "wand of
the magi" that, when cast before the Pharaoh by his wise men, was able to
swallow the serpents that sprang from the rod of Moses. The rod, when used
as a sceptre, has other and important significances, and is one of the
chief signs of a ruler's position and power.

Mercury was the most active and useful of all the gods, owing to his
temperament, and no event or ceremony was undertaken without seeking his
advice. He had many names under which his good offices were invoked, such
as Argiphontes, or the slayer of Argus, when he represented warriors. Then
he was called Chthonius, or "he who guides the dead"; when thus
represented he is generally seated and is without sword, caduceus, or
purse. Another name for him was Agoneus, the patron of gymnastic
exercises, of commerce, and of executive ability.

Sometimes Mercury is represented in his birthday suit, at others with a
chlamys or cloak enveloping him, the petasus or winged cap on his head,
the talaria, or winged sandals, on his heels, bearing the caduceus aloft.
Ancient representations of Mercury were simple wooden posts, the terminals
carved with a rude head wearing a beard, which were the original

Professor Anthon says: "Hermes may in some degree be regarded as a
personification of the Egyptian priesthood. It is in this sense,
therefore, that he is regarded as the confidant of the gods, their
messenger, the interpreter of their decrees, the genius who presides over
science, the conductor of souls to the realms of bliss."

One of the Egyptian names for Mercury, when he combined many attributes of
Osiris and other deities, was Thoth, which, according to Jablonski's
"Pantheon Ægypt," signifies "an assembly composed of sages and educated
persons, the sacerdotal college of a city or temple." Professor Anthon
says: "Thus the collective priesthood of Egypt, personified and considered
as a unity, was represented by an imaginary being to whom was ascribed the
invention of languages and writing, hence the sacrifice of tongues to
Mercury. He was also credited with the origin of geometry, arithmetic,
astronomy, medicine, music, rhythm, the institution of religion and sacred
processions, the introduction of gymnastic or health-giving exercises,
and, finally, the less indispensable, though not less valuable, arts of
architecture, sculpture and painting. So many volumes were attributed to
him that no human being could possibly have composed them.

"For many years it was customary for the priests devoted to his service to
present the results of their labours to Thoth, receiving no reward or
glory for the individual work, which was turned to the advantage of the
whole sacerdotal association in being ascribed to its presiding genius,
who, by his double figure, indicated the necessity for a plural doctrine,
of which the interpretation was confined entirely to his initiates, or
priests, who translated the occult signs of the gods or the learning
entrusted to their care to the inquirers, who frequented the temples to
receive knowledge or directions in the material walks of life which they
were taught to believe was transmitted by the oracle to ordinary mortals
by the priests of Thoth, who alone understood the painted or written

Besides the arts and crafts before mentioned as being under the protection
of the Egyptian god, was the important one of commerce. "This in like
manner," says Professor Anthon, "was intended to express the influence of
the priesthood on commercial enterprises."

"The identity of Hermes with the Dog Star, Sirius, that serves as
precursor of the inundation of the Nile, the emblem of which," says the
same authority, "was the gazelle that flies to the desert on the rising of
the waters, his rank in demonology as the father of spirits and guide of
the dead, his quality of incarnate godhead, and his cosmogonical alliance
with the generative fire, the light, the source of all knowledge, and with
water, the principle of fecundity. It is surprising, however, to observe
how strangely the Grecian spirit modified the Egyptian Hermes, who was
transformed by the Greeks into the messenger or interpreter of the wishes
of others who were more powerful than himself, but not omnipotent, as the
Egyptian mythology regarded him."

This is seen in the mystic portions of the early Orphic or Homeric hymns,
where Hermes is treated quite differently than is done in the Iliad or the
Odyssey. The earliest records of Hermes recall all the peculiar qualities
of the Egyptian Hermes, and sometimes even the strange legends of the
Hindoo Avatars, as well as the Babylonian Nebo. One of the Hindoo gods
bears the same emblems that are devoted to Mercury, namely: the Cup, the
Sword, the Staff, and the Ring, Coin, or Circle; but a striking difference
is noted when Hermes is adopted by the Romans, who even changed his name
as well as his characteristics, although retaining his distinguishing
marks or emblems.

"The Romans," says Professor Anthon, "first received the sacerdotal
Hermes, whose worship had been brought into Etruria by the Pelasgi,
previous to the time of Homer, and, as the earlier Hermes had been
represented by a column, he became with them the god Terminus. When,
however, the Romans became acquainted with the twelve great deities of the
Athenians, they adopted the Grecian Hermes under the name of Mercury,
preserving at the same time the remembrance of their previous traditions
and jumbling the attributes of the Egyptian god Thoth with that of the
Grecian Hermes."

But, in order to make this favourite god of use, it was necessary to
approach him through his own priests, the only persons who were initiated
into his mysteries and who could interpret them. Since these priests were
already established and had been for some time in Italy, in the great
temple of Serapeon, it is easy to see how the cult engaged the attention
of the people, and how readily it absorbed the new-fashioned god who
strayed there from so many different quarters.



The great authority on modern Egyptian discoveries, M. Gaston Maspero,
says in his book, "Ancient Sites and Modern Scenes": "On the outskirts of
Thebes there are ruins that lie to the north of the Valley of Kings. The
temple was built or restored in the last years of the seventh, or in the
first years of the sixth, century B. C. to Thoth, the master of magic and
letters; the god who was the scribe and the magician of the gods."

This mysterious but powerful god ranked high in the Egyptian cosmogony and
the remains of his worship flourish to-day among the votaries of the card
table, who, however, no longer consult him as the oracle, but use his book
for their amusement or pleasure.

"During the Roman period, from 527 B. C. to 332 B. C., that was called the
Egyptian renaissance," says Mr. Rawlinson in his "History of Ancient
Egypt" (Volume II, page 502), "Asia poured the fetid stream of her
wonderful superstitions into Africa. The exorcisms of Thoth and the powers
of witchcraft in league with him are the favorite themes which cover the
polished surfaces of the monuments at this remarkable time." And on page
465, "Asiatic Greeks became in the reign of Psammetchas (about 610 B. C.)
close to the throne. Consequently, free communication and commercial
intercourse between Egypt and Europe were opened." This ruler was devoted
to art, architecture and adventure, and one of the inventions of his reign
was the enchorial or demotic writing which superseded the hieratic. This
was attributed to the priests of Thoth, those wise men who sought no
personal glory, but who contented themselves with placing their works at
the feet of their presiding genius and attributing their own discoveries
to him.

Without discussing whether the Assyrian god Nebo absorbed the Egyptian
Thoth, or the reverse, we may concede that such strong similarities exist
between them that they are virtually the same. With similar heraldic
symbols and functions, they were the inventors of many useful arts, that
of writing always being attributed to both. Besides, both gods were
supposed to have the power of recording the fate of mankind at birth, and
both presided at the judgment of souls after death.

The ibis-headed Thoth was also symbolized by a stylus and inkstand, and
was often termed "the Scribe," just as Nebo was called "the Writer," and
had for his device a stylus and inkstand. A month was dedicated to each,
that of Thoth being the first in the Egyptian calendar, or our September.
Its symbol was a reversed crescent with three lotus flowers, under which
were two aspects of the moon, as full and as a crescent. One cannot but
wonder if the artistic Egyptians, while adopting the cuneiform characters
which resemble long shafts with reversed triangles on top, did not alter
the lines and convert the "arrow head" of Nebo's invention into the
graceful flower, thus retaining the original conception of the symbol of
the Assyrian god, while stamping it with their own love of the beautiful.

The tablet of Khufu at Wady Magarah shows Thoth bearing in his right hand
a sceptre (one of the designs of the Tarot pack). This rod has three
triangles on it that resemble the cuneiform characters, which is certainly
not accidental.

The name of Thoth is written heraldically as "an ibis standing on a perch
(which in shape again recalls the cuneiform) followed by a crescent and
the two oblique lines commonly used to express the number one."

The principal likenesses of the great gods of Egypt seem to be represented
in the Atouts of the Tarot pack of cards, called "The Book of Thoth Hermes
Trismegistus," for the sun, moon, seven stars, etc., are all among the
Atouts. Mr. Rawlinson ("History of Ancient Egypt," page 315) gives the
names of the gods, and the qualities for which they were worshipped,
revered or dreaded, as follows:

    NUM or KNEPH--the creative mind.

    PHTHAH--the creative hand.


    RA--the sun.

    KHONS--the moon.

    SEB--the earth.

    KHEM--the generative power in nature.

    NUT--the upper hemisphere in heaven.

    ATHOR--the lower world.

    THOTH--divine wisdom.

    AMMON--divine mysteriousness.

    OSIRIS--divine goodness.

All knew that there was but one god, but these were the interceders.

On page 370 of his book, Mr. Rawlinson says: "Thoth was the oracle or the
clerk (recorder) of the wishes of the divine circle, who bears as insignia
a palm branch or a stylus, and often a tablet. Sometimes he carries the
Crook Headed Sceptre. His titles were Lord of Sesennu and Lord of Truth.
He is called one of the chief gods--the Great God--the God Twice
Great--the Great Chief in the paths of the dead--the Self-created or
Neverborn--the Lord of Divine Words--and the Scribe of Truth."

Thoth was often represented under two different forms, earthly and
infernal, or as Thoth in the House of Selection, and Thoth at the Balance
of Souls. As the god who took part in the judgment of the dead Thoth was
revered throughout Egypt and it is written of him: "All Eyes are open on
thee and all men worship thee as a god."


Court Cards of the Pip Part of the Pack

    25 Queen of Rods

    26 Queen of Swords

    27 Queen of Money

    28 King of Rods

    29 King of Swords

    30 King of Money]

Oxen, cows and geese were sacrificed in his honour and the ibis with the
cynocephalous ape were sacred to him. Very many images of him are found
that show him in attendance on different kings, either purifying them or
inscribing their names on the sacred tree. His spiritual office was to be
present in Amenti when souls were to be judged, to see their deeds weighed
in the balance and record the results. This is recalled in the Atout of
the Tarot pack, named Justice. Thoth also reveals to men the will of the
gods. He composes the Ritual for the Dead, that great work that is so
frequently found bound in the shrouds of mummies, to instruct the soul how
to conduct itself in the world of spirits. It is also Thoth who, in the
realms below, writes for good souls with his own fingers the Book of
Respirations, which protects, sustains, and enlightens them, causing them
to "breathe with the souls of the gods for ever and ever."

Thoth had three great colleges, at Thebes, at Memphis, and at Heliopolis,
where he was worshipped by priestesses as well as by priests, and there
are many records of the prognostications of the former. If the supposition
is correct that the gypsies are descended from the outcasts of the temple
of Thoth, near Naples (the Serapeon), when that building was overthrown by
an earthquake, it may be noted that in the tribe the women are the
principal soothsayers, while the men generally pursue other occupations.

King Shafra, who built the Second Pyramid, married the daughter of
Meri-Aukhs. Her tomb at Saccarah bears an inscription stating that she was
a "Priestess of Thoth," and her son was called "a sacred scribe." From the
time of Shafra, scribes are frequently represented as seated or squatting
at work, with a pen or brush in the right hand and one or two tucked
behind the ear, while the left hand holds the paper or a palette.

"The first and greatest of the builders of the pyramids," says Mr.
Rawlinson, "was Khufu or Cheops. He composed a religious work called the
Sacred Book. He was a great admirer and worshipper of Thoth, who is
represented with him on the rock pictures."

Closely copying the Assyrian kings, who placed themselves under the
protection of their gods, notably that of Nebo, by adopting their names,
several of the Pharaohs called themselves Thothmes, meaning child of
Thoth. The third ruler of that name, who has been called the Alexander of
Egyptian history, raided the heart of Western Asia, going as far as
Nineveh. He was wise as well as valiant, and noted all novelties in the
lands through which he passed, which he afterwards sought to introduce
into his own country. The two obelisks known as Cleopatra's Needles were
originally set up at Heliopolis, one of the temples of Thoth, by Thothmes
III. They were transported to Alexandria and afterwards carried to London
and New York, so the genius of playing cards still presides at the two
great world centres, where cards are a favourite amusement.

The priests of Thoth were said to have descended in a direct line from
father to son for three hundred and forty-five generations. This habit is
another one common to gypsies, who rarely marry any but their own people.
To the priests of the temple of Thoth many books called Hermetic were
ascribed that were so dedicated to the honour of the god that the name of
the writer is merged into his. M. Maspero mentions "an Egyptian romance
that describes the adventures of a family of ghosts who were living with
their mummies in a tomb lighted by a wonderful talisman, which was an
incantation written on papyrus by Thoth himself." Another work was
particularly full of wisdom and science, containing in it everything
relating to the fowls of the air, the fishes of the sea, and the
four-footed beasts of the mountains. "The man who knew a single page of
the book could charm Heaven, Earth, the great Abyss, Mountains and Seas.
This marvellous composition Thoth enclosed in a box of gold, which he
placed within a box of silver, within a box of ivory and ebony, and that
again within a box of bronze, within a box of brass, within a box of iron;
and the book thus guarded he threw into the Nile at Coptos. The act became
known, and the box was searched for and found. It gave its possessor vast
knowledge and magical power, but always brought misfortune on him." One of
the books of Thoth consists of magical texts, and Mr. Rawlinson says: "The
belief in magic was widely spread among the Egyptians, and the behests of
the priests were obeyed with confidence that, whether they turned out well
or badly for the inquirer, they had been foretold at birth. The fatalism
of the North Africans is too well known to be disputed, for they accept
misfortune bowing the head and saying: 'It is the will of Allah.' This is
the inheritance of ages."

The priests explained to the inquirer into the divine wishes the commands
of the god, and then inscribed them on parchment or some convenient
material. These records were either hung around the neck or bound on the
arm. The ignorant folk considered that these amulets would preserve them
from all evil. This practice is observed to the present day by members of
different religious cults. One amulet has been translated: "Thou art
protected against the accidents of life. Thou art protected against a
violent death. Thou art protected against fire. Thou escapest in Heaven
and thou art not ruined upon Earth." Such a valuable insurance against
every evil during life or death must have been well worth a handsome fee
to the priest who issued it.

Lenormant, in his "Manual" (Volume I, page 516), says: "It is remarkable
that the Ritual of the Dead (the Egyptian name for which was Manifestation
of Light, or the Book Revealing Light to the Soul) is accompanied by
pictures which form the essential portion of it." So the Book of Thoth
Hermes Trismegistus, or the Tarots, is composed of pictures that can only
be deciphered by initiates. The Ritual of the Dead claimed to be a
revelation from Thoth Hermes, who through it declared the will of the gods
and the mysterious nature of divine things to mankind. Portions of it are
expressly stated to have been written by the finger of Thoth, and other
parts to have been the composition of the god himself. It was held in such
high esteem that portions of it were placed in coffins. The Ritual has
been divided into three sections. There are prayers for the dead, and a
long chapter that has been said to "contain the Egyptian Faith." This
creed is followed by a series of prayers, and spells, and famous chapter
(cxxv) describing the seat of judgment known as the "Hall of Two Truths."
Here the deceased is brought before Osiris as supreme judge. The latter is
seated on a lofty throne, surrounded by forty-two Assessors, each of whom
addresses the dead person in turn, and to each he declares his innocence
of crime or sin, saying, "I have not blasphemed. I have not deceived. I
have not stolen. I have not slain any one. I have not been cruel. I have
not caused disturbance. I have not been idle. I have not been drunken. I
have not been indiscreetly curious. I have not multiplied words in
speaking. I have struck no one. I have caused fear to no one. I have
slandered no one. I have not eaten my heart through envy. I have not
reviled the face of the king nor the face of my father. I have not made
false accusations. I have not kept milk from the mouths of sucklings. I
have not caused abortion. I have not ill-used my slaves. I have not killed
sacred beasts. I have not defiled the river. I have not polluted myself. I
have not taken the clothes of the dead." A dead person is always spoken of
as "An Osiris," or "He sleeps in Osiris."

Egyptian writing was of three distinct kinds, known as Hieroglyphic,
Hieratic and Demotic or Enchorial. There is but little difference between
the Hieratic and the Demotic. The former is the earlier of the two, but
was nearly lost in the Demotic, which, according to Lenormant, was
introduced about the seventh century B. C., and rapidly superseded the
Hieratic, being simpler. Both were written from left to right.

It was about this time that the worship of Nebo, in Babylonia, and of
Thoth, in Egypt, was most important, so it is probable that the priests,
who were the learned and scientific men of the day, then reconstructed the
art of writing and so earned for their patrons the honour of being gods of
writing, although the stylus and the title of "the Writer" had been born
for many centuries.

Pasmmetichas, king of Sais, who, as has been already mentioned, fought the
Assyrians, must have been a most intelligent person, for during his reign,
says Mr. Rawlinson (page 465), "a question was raised as to the relative
antiquity of different races of mankind. Therefore the Pharaoh had two
children isolated from their species and brought up by a herdsman who was
dumb, and suckled by a goat, in order to see what language they would
speak, presuming that they would revert to the primitive type of speech.
The result of his experiment was thought to prove the Phrygians to be the
most ancient nation, and the Egyptians, we are told by Herodotus, accepted
it as an established fact."

Thoth was revered as a great teacher, since his works treated of all
things, such as the creation of the world, of divine power, of wisdom, of
the art of presaging the issue of maladies by means of the planets. The
work treating on this was dedicated to Ammon. Then there were the
Aphorisms of Hermes, which consisted of astronomical propositions
translated from the Arabic about the time of Manfred, king of Sicily. "The
Cyranides of Trismegistus" treats of magic power and the medicinal virtues
of precious stones, of plants, and of animals. Many of the other books of
Thoth are treatises on chemistry or alchemy. One is called "The Seven
Seals of Hermes Trismegistus," another, "Chemical Tinctures," and a third,
"The Emerald Tablet," describing the art of making gold. It is said that
Sara, the wife of Abraham, found the Emerald in the tomb of Hermes, on
Mount Hebron. One essay is to Tat or Esculapius, another is entitled "The
Virgin of the World," as Isis is sometimes called, and is a dialogue
between her and her son Horus.

Many small statues were found in a well in the temple of the Sphinx, that
may have originally represented the gods now found among the Atouts. This
would be a most valuable confirmation of the theory of their original
position in the temple when the priests and initiates wished to consult
the occult.

In an age when letters were only used by the learned, and pictured emblems
or symbols took the place of an alphabet, it was natural that the priests
of Thoth, when pressed to divine the fate of men, should place sketches of
the great gods on the walls of their temples, so that, by combining them
with the rods of divination, the wishes of the supreme beings could be
easily conveyed. The custom of adorning the walls of the temple is
referred to in Ezekiel xxiii:14. "She saw men pourtrayed upon the wall,
the images of the Chaldeans (or Nebo and his confrères) pourtrayed with
vermilion, girdled with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire
upon their heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the
Babylonians of Chaldea." This was possibly the origin of the Tarots, or
the Atout volume of the Book of Thoth.



A great Chaldean god was Nebo, mentioned in Isaiah xlvi:1, "Bel boweth
down, Nebo stoopeth," and he had an immense influence over the lives of
the Assyrians and Babylonians, extending over centuries. In primitive
times nothing was undertaken without an attempt to consult the wishes of
the superior gods, and it is interesting to trace through the tablets on
which are inscribed the wonderful cuneiform inscriptions, discovered and
deciphered during the past fifty years, how the people were taught by
their prophets or priests to consult the predestinations of Nebo, who
inscribed at birth what would befall each person during life. Nebo had
many names or designations. He was called Laghlaghghi-Gar, or illuminator;
Gishdar, or god of the sceptre; Ilu-tashmit, or god of revelations; and
the spouse of Tashmit; his name signifies Proclaimer Herald in Assyrian,
and Height in Hebrew.

Nebo, called Nabu by the Babylonians, was the son of Enlil, or Marduk, the
Merodach of the Bible (Jeremiah l:2), who became merged in the Jupiter of
the Romans. Nebo was the husband of Tashmitum, or Tashmit, or Tashmetu,
sometimes called Erna. Her name is translated as signifying "revelation,"
"she who listens," or "she who intercedes." She is frequently invoked and
besought to placate her more important spouse, or she is appealed to by
worshippers to intercede with her consort to reveal what he had prophesied
on the "tablets of fate."

As the grandson of Ea, who was the god of doctors, Nebo inherited the
privileges of healing. He also presided at birth and death, and could cure
diseases. One of his symbols seems peculiar and is still retained on the
Tarots. It is a sword, for in the minds of the men of his day a pestilence
was a certain follower of war. Although Nebo was not the god of war, he
was first its herald and then the healer of the sick or wounded, so it was
under these conditions that a sword became his attribute.

Nebo shared with Shamash, Gula, and Nergal of Assyrian mythology, the
power of restoring the dead to life, which, being interpreted, means
curing the ill, whether from disease or sin.

It was to Nebo that the Assyrian kings ascribed their wisdom, for he was
deemed to be the source of all knowledge, and the wonderful inventor of
the art of writing that enabled the wise men who were his priests to
preserve the records of the different reigns and the history of wars, the
description of buildings and their donors, of deeds of valour and of
charity, for the enlightenment of posterity.

The great temple built at Calah in the time of Ram-man-nerari III (812-783
B. C.) is inscribed with a dedicatory inscription placed by the king on
the statue of Nebo. It closes with the sentence:

  "Oh! posterity, trust in Nabu,
   Trust in no other god."

Nebo was also the patron of agriculture, who taught the husbandmen when to
plant, the best time for irrigating, and a favourable time for the
harvest. Being the messenger from heaven to earth, one of his symbols was
the lightning. This emblem is preserved on the Japanese cards, although
it is probably accidental. A hymn to Nebo attests his having lightning as
an attribute, and the tablet upon which it was transcribed in cuneiform
characters has been translated as follows:

  "Lord of Borsippa, Son of E-Sagila! Oh, Lord, to thy power
   There is no rival. Oh, Nebo, to thy Temple E-Zida there is no rival,
   Or to thy home, Babylon. Thy weapon is the lightning,
   From the mouth of which no breath does issue or blood flow.
   Thy commands are as unchangeable as the Heavens,
             Where thou art Supreme."

The chief temple of Nebo was at Borsippa, on the opposite side of the
Euphrates to Babylon; the town was sometimes called Babylon II. Nebo's
temple was styled E-Zida, the true house, and E-Sagila signified the lofty
house, which was the temple of his father, Marduk. The connection with
lightning is too marked to be overlooked when studying the derivation of
Mercury's attributes from those of Nebo.

The mighty king Ashur-banapal invokes Nebo on thousands of tablets that
have been found in his great library. Nebo is called "the opener of the
ears to understanding," "he who gives the sceptre of sovereignty to kings,
that they may rule over all lands," "the upholder of the world," "the
general overlord and the seer." All these attributes were combined with
the scientific attainments of Nebo, and he was proclaimed as the inventor
of language and the art of writing, together with being the great teacher
and encourager of learning and scientific investigations. This is all
emphasised by his numerous titles, such as "Speaker," which is said to be
derived from his name, signifying "to speak," or "one who announces the
fate of mankind," which was another inheritance of Mercury's when he was
called the "Messenger of the Gods." The attribute, then, in both cases,
was the emblematic Sceptre of the ruler, the caduceus. The Sceptre was
also named by the Assyrians "the Proclaimer," and was variously
represented, sometimes by the Staff with twisted serpents, although in
earlier times it was generally pictured as stylus, which was closely
copied in the representations of Thoth. The entwining serpents of the
caduceus sacred to Mercury were directly inherited from votive emblems
peculiar to the Babylonians, and they received force and significance
after the rods of the Egyptian magi were turned into serpents and
swallowed by the rod of Aaron.

When Nebo is called "Ilu-tashmit," or god of Revelations, who teaches
through his invention of writing and of speech, he is then regarded as a
soothsayer or prophet. The Hebrew word for prophet is Nabi, and this leads
to the interesting discussion that was started by Mr. Chatto in his
"History of Playing Cards" (page 22), when he speculates on the name of
Naibi, given to cards by the earliest Italian writers who mention them. As
Naypes or Naipes is still the name printed on the wrappers and on the Four
of Cups of Spanish cards, it evidently was connected with prophesy, and
this card has peculiar values and significances among the gypsy
fortune-tellers. Mr. Chatto states that in Hindustani the word Na-eeb or
Naib signifies a viceroy or overlord, and quotes from "several Spanish
writers" who have "decidedly asserted that the word Naipes, signifying
cards, whatever it might originally have meant, was derived from the
Arabic." All the writers on playing cards quote from Corvelluzzo, who
states: "In the year 1379 was brought into Viterbo the game of cards,
which comes from the country of the Saracens and is with them called
Naib." The Arabian "divining arrows" are always made from a tree called

This little history, which is one of the earliest records of cards that
were then no longer considered prophetic, has seemed to close all inquiry
into the birth of games or their vehicle. No inquiry was therefore made
into anything preceding this period. However, had cards been regarded as
the survival of one of the most ancient of cults, connected with it by its
traditions of prophesy or fortune-telling, the true story might have been
unravelled centuries ago, for a study of the traditions, religions or
superstitions of Africa and Asia would have revealed that Naibi (the name
given at that time to cards) meant prophesy or revelation, and was
inherited from the great "Writer on the Tablets of Fate," Nebo the
prophet, the Assyrian god. The prophets of the Bible were called Nabi, and
it seems to be no accident that the mountain dedicated to Nebo and
bearing his name should have been selected for the death place of the
great prophet, Moses.

In the earliest histories of Assyrian mythology Nebo was not the
influential personage that he became afterwards. But it was still early
days when he was accorded the honour of having one of the planets named
for him, which afterwards became identified with Mercury. When Nebo took
his place among the mystic seven great gods, he found associated with him
Marduk (or Jupiter), Nergal (or Mars), Ishtar (or Venus), Nineb (or
Saturn), the Sun, represented in a chariot drawn by horses, as copied in
the seventh card of the Atouts, and the Moon (Nan-nar), who was called the
"Heifer of Anu," and was the presiding genius. She received the name
because the horns of the new moon resembled those of a cow. Her Assyrian
temple was at Ur of the Chaldeans, and she was also worshipped in Egypt
and is represented by the eighteenth Atout. Her horns are always typical
of wisdom and prophesy, and, as such, are used on Michael Angelo's famous
statue of Moses.


Pip Cards of the Cup Suit

    31 Ace of Cups

    32 Deuce of Cups

    33 Trey of Cups

    34 Four of Cups

    35 Five of Cups

    36 Six of Cups]

The first month of the Babylonian year was sacred to Nebo and his
father, Marduk, and was called Nesan. The Egyptians made Thoth, or
September, the first month; that began August 29th, as we figure it, with
the rising of the Dog Star, which also was sacred to that god. This is
symbolised in the seventeenth Atout, called The Stars, represented by an
oblation to Osiris.

Daily sacrifices were made to Nebo, the offerings being bulls, and other
animals, fish, birds, vegetables, honey, wine, oil and cream. Their
technical term was Sattuku and Gina. It is probable that the wild boar was
sacred to Nebo, as it was to Mercury, being one of the animals sacrificed
to the latter, and the emblem is still found on the Two of Bells of the
German cards. The boar was sacred among the Assyrians, and its flesh was
forbidden on certain days in the Babylonian calendar. Its name was
Nin-shakh, or Pap-sukal, meaning "Divine Messenger," the name that was
synonymous with that of Nebo.

There were many great ceremonies connected with the rites of Nebo, for the
scientists, doctors, warriors and kings were all anxious to conciliate the
arbiter of their fate, and there were many statues erected in his honour
all over the land. The one representing him that was kept in E-Sagila, at
Borsippa, called by Nebuchadnezzar "the house of the temple of the world,"
meaning the lofty home, was yearly conducted with great ceremonies across
the Euphrates in a car, or ark, shaped like a ship, in order that Nebo
might pay homage at the temple of his father, Marduk.

The cult of Nebo reached its height when Nabu-polassar (626 B. C.),
Nebu-chadnezzar (605 B. C.), and Nabonnedos (556 B. C.), adopted his name,
thereby throwing themselves on his mercy, or invoking his protection.
Nebuchadnezzar adopted it as signifying "Oh, god Nebu, protect my

About the ninth century before Christ there were innumerable temples
devoted to the cult of Nebo dotted over the land, for those were troublous
times, and, doubtless, the rulers and their people were anxious to have
all the advice that they could obtain from the "Arbiter of Fate." He was
styled "the all-wise who guides the stylus of the scribes," as well as
"the possessor of wisdom," and "the seer who guides all gods." These
inscriptions are found in many places, not only on the temples but on clay

Ashur-banipal extols Nebo on many of the tablets found in his great
library at Nineveh, thanking him for his instructions and the inspiration
that enabled the king to record in writing his valiant deeds, that were
thus preserved for the benefit of his subjects. One of them reads, "write
for posterity."

The Assyrians invaded Egypt many times, and the Egyptians in return
overran Palestine, Persia, Babylonia and Assyria, so that by intermarriage
and constant intercourse the scientific attainments and the mythologies of
both became influenced or mingled.

Although the capital of Menephtah, the Pharaoh of the Exodus, was at
Thebes, the site of the great temple of Thoth and the favourite residence
of "the Ruler" was Zoan, or Sau, as it is now called, which is three miles
from Goshen. It was there that Moses and Aaron had their interviews. From
that time on Thoth and Nebo became almost one god, and it is by no means
stretching a point to connect the cults of Assyria and Babylonia with
those of Egypt. Isaiah xix:23 says: "There shall be a highway out of Egypt
to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt and the Egyptian into
Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians." In the same
chapter (third verse) we find: "And they shall seek to the idols, and to
the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards."
It is, therefore, but a simple conclusion to suppose that the magi of
Egypt adopted the great tablet writer of the Assyrians as one of their
inspiring gods, and, that afterwards, when the pair were introduced to
Europeans, they were merged into Mercury, while "The Book of the Writer"
became known as "The Book of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus" (three times
great), now called the Tarot pack of cards.

"The Bearer of the Fate Tablets," dedicated to Nebuchadnezzar at Borsippa,
has been translated, "Oh! Nabu! On thy unchangeable Tablets which
determine the boundaries of Heaven and Earth, decree the length of my
days. Write down posterity." Which we would read, "Tell me how long I am
to live and bestow children upon me."

There is a colophon in Semitic Babylonian, written by Nabu-baladhsuigbi,
son of Mitsircea (the Egyptian), probably during the reign of Nabonidus,
the father of Belshazzar, that is also an invocation in the same style.
The inscription of Tiglath-Pileser I, king of Assyria, which "is the
longest and most important of early Assyrian records," says Professor
Sayce, dates from about 1106 B. C. This inscription was found under the
foundations of the four corners of the temple of Kileh Shergha, the
ancient city of Asshur, and is now in the British Museum. The one hundred
and fifth sentence mentions divining rods as the "Oracle of the Great
Divinities," being placed within the temple. "This Elalla," says Professor
Sayce, "was a stem of papyrus covered with writing."

Many tablets of Assyrian times have been deciphered from the cuneiform
text and are designated as "Tablets of Grace," or "Tablets of Good Works."
These are supposed to be those that Nebo wrote describing the virtues of
men. Besides these, the Babylonians mentioned tablets on which the sins of
the evil were recorded. The pious worshipper, therefore, prays that the
Tablet of his sins and iniquities may be destroyed, saying: "May the
Tablet of my sins be broken," showing how prevalent was the belief that
Nebo controlled fate entirely, both when predicting the future and also
after death, and in this Thoth resembles him closely.

Similar connections are met with in the Old Testament, when Moses cries,
"Forgive their sins--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book
which thou hast written." (Exodus xxxii:32.) The belief that such records
are kept by the Almighty is referred to also in the New Testament. "Your
names are written in Heaven." (St. Luke x:20.) The verse in Ezekiel ix:2,
"One man among them was clothed in linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his
side," is supposed to refer to Nebo, "the Heavenly Scribe."

In a long cuneiform text inscribed on a terra cotta prism found at
Nineveh, King Asshur-banapal glories in having received from Nebo and
Tashmitu (his consort) the power to understand "the art of
tablet-writing." In "Babylonian Magic and Sorcery from the British
Museum," by Leonard W. King, M. A., Assistant in the Department of
Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities, British Museum, there are tablets
invoking the protection of Nebo as well as of other gods. One of them has
been translated as follows:

  "Oh! Hero Prince, First born of Marduk;
   Oh! prudent ruler of Spring of Zarpanitu;
   Oh! Nabu, Bearer of the Tablet of the destiny of the Gods, Director of
   Lord of Izida, Shadow of Borsippa,
   Darling of Ia, Giver of Life,
   Prince of Babylon, Protector of the Living."

It may be stretching a point to observe that the "arrow-headed" letters on
the tablets of Babylonia closely resemble a sheaf of arrows that have
fallen haphazard. But this may be seen in the name of the god Nebo.




Since the creation of the world mankind has realized a divine power
shaping his destiny, and has tried to conciliate the unknown god. Since
life is made up of happenings that are unforeseen, man believed that
certain occult powers directed and shaped them. It was natural, therefore,
to try to ascertain the wishes of the controller of fate, so that they
might be complied with and misfortune thus averted.

Invocations, sacrifices and queries, private or public in the temples, are
recorded from early days. Some have been found that date from at least
five thousand years before Christ. Directions for "wave offerings," "burnt
offerings," etc., are frequent in the Old Testament. The commands for
marking the "rods" with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, for the
purpose of laying them on the altar and awaiting results when the wishes
of the Lord would be revealed, are given in Numbers xvii. Prayers to Nebo,
Thoth, and Mercury are found everywhere in the countries where they were
worshipped. The use of divining arrows (rods), when demanding the wishes
of the gods, is a known historic fact, so it is readily seen whence the
Egyptians received their inspiration to gather together the customs,
ceremonies and superstitions of alien religions, to absorb them in the
worship of their god Thoth.

The temples of the Egyptian gods were generally gorgeously decorated, and
those of Thoth were filled besides with learned women and men who devoted
the result of their studies to the common good, without a thought of
self-aggrandisement. They made themselves the go-between of Thoth and man,
when revealing the wishes of the occult beings. The number of Hermetic
Books, written at Thoth's dictation, is given by Jamblichus as 20,000.

Naturally, when sacrifices or offerings were made, the worshipper demanded
a reply to his inquiries, thus taxing the ingenuity of the prophets, who
were, in fact, no wiser than himself as to the predestinations recorded
at birth. So, sometimes they found the desires of the gods hidden in the
entrails of animals or in the palms of the hands.

Astronomers and astrologers, observing that the heavenly bodies conformed
to certain laws, decided that these laws also governed the lives of men.
In the worship of Ishtar, the great Babylonian goddess, who has been
identified with both Venus and Diana, the flight of birds had portent;
while at the oracle of Delphi straws (a variant of the rods of Aaron or
the divining arrows of the Asiatics) were employed to ascertain the wishes
of the gods, and it is the descendants of these that are now sometimes
known as Jackstraws, that came to us from the Chinese, and at others are
identified as the pip cards now in common use.

A close study of each card of the old Tarots reveals much of the history
of the book and its original intention, for the resemblance of the
different cards to the different Egyptian deities is clearly displayed to
the student. The attributes and costumes of Maut, Isis, Phthah, Neith,
Amun, Thmei, Nepte, Seth, Anubis, and Ra are all to be traced on the
detached leaves of the ancient book. The costumes are those of Italians of
about the thirteenth century, it is true, but the caps, the girdles, the
positions and the attributes, as well as the qualities assigned to each by
the fortune-tellers, are too apparent to be ignored. It would seem that
the cards were designed by some person to whom these different marks had
been described, but who had no knowledge of the original pictures of these
gods that are still so instructive in Egypt. While the attributes are
retained, the pictures do not recall the old ones that can still be found
in mummy cases or historic monuments. It was therefore impossible for
those who wrote on Playing Cards before the great discoveries in Egypt to
recognize the connection of the Tarots with the ancient mysteries,
although the symbols of Mercury might have given a clue, had these been

Without declaring that the deductions connecting the Atouts with the
Egyptian gods is infallible, the strong resemblance between them must be
carefully considered, and the intention of each card studied with all the
obtainable history connected with it.

I. LE BAGATLEUR (Il Bagattel)

This card, also known as the Juggler or Pagat, bears various names,
according to the locality where it was used. "It is derived," says Count
Emiliano di Parravicino, in the _Burlington Magazine_ for December, 1903,
"from Bagat or Paghead and Gad, that signifies fortune, and the card is
often called Bagatto (or cobbler), since there are sometimes tools placed
on the board in front of the figure, one of which (in the corrupted
designs of modern cards) resembles a cobbler's awl." The figure on this
card represents the Player or Inquirer, and when the cards are laid out,
according to the rules of prophesying, it is controlled by all that are
dealt close to it. That is to say, the cards surrounding this figure tell
the events that are likely soon to befall the inquirer. The first Atout
represents a young man standing behind a table. On his head is a hat of
mystic meaning, for it is shaped like the sign of "eternal life,"
[Illustration: infinity symbol]; his left hand carries a wand, called by
de Gebelin "_son Bâton de Jacob, ou Verges des Mages_." This magician's
wand was readily recognized by the shrewd Frenchman, who evidently
understood the symbolism of the rod of Aaron (or Jacob). The rod is really
the caduceus of Mercury that has so many significances. It is one of the
pip devices that has been reproduced in the Ace of Rods, Staves, or
Sceptres, as it is variously called, and, by placing it in the hand of the
inquirer, it denotes that he has been given the power to consult the
oracle. The other articles placed on the table before the youth are the
other devices that mark the suits of the cards, namely: Money, Cups and
Swords, although on modern Italian Tarots these emblems are often changed
for others that lack significance. In "the lottery chart," called
Tsz-fa-to, used by the Chinese fortune-tellers, there is a figure like the
Bagatleur, holding up his hand in the same way, which recalls the many
mystic meanings attached to the "blessing hand." The Pagat or Magician (as
this card is often called) is sometimes expressed merely by the Hebrew
letter Aleph, which is placed beside the figure, or is used alone, when an
Initiate understands the symbol as well as if the Pagat was in its place.
What relation the Hebrew alphabet has to the Tarots is a matter for
conjecture, but the characters are often placed on early packs, and some
writers have pointed out that, in their opinion, these letters offer fresh
evidences of the origin of cards and their connection with divination. So
Papus says: "The first letters of the alphabet express hieroglyphically
man himself as a collective unity--the Master principle--the ruler of the
world." In very old packs the earth is represented at the bottom of the
picture, ornamented with its fruits. The centre is occupied with the man,
whose right hand bent towards the ground, the left hand raised towards
heaven, thus representing two principles, the one active and the other
passive, of the great All, and it corresponds with the two columns of
Jakin and Bohas of the temple of Solomon and of Freemasonry, as well as
with the great statues erected before the tombs of the Egyptian kings. The
meaning may be thus stated: "Man with one hand seeks for God in Heaven,
and with the other he plunges below to call up the demon to himself, and
thus unites the divine and the diabolic in humanity."

It is well known that among primitive people, boys, upon arriving at
manhood, went through certain ceremonies with fasting and incantations so
this card also represents a youth making his first offering to the gods of
the temple, and consulting them as to his future life, or asking what Nebo
or Thoth had written at the time of his birth on their "Tablets of Fate."
In order to learn from the gods what his future occupation should be, one
of the symbols of Mercury is lifted haphazard from the table before him.
Thus, if a sword be grasped, a man will be a soldier, and a woman will
have a person of rank for a husband. The Cup represents the Church or
Love. In primitive nations various articles are still placed before a
child, and the one selected influences its occupations, when mature. In
Korea a bundle of yarn, a handful of rice, a few coins, a cake of ink, a
brush, and some paper are placed before a baby, on attaining its first
birthday. If it selects the yarn, it denotes a long life; the money means
prosperity; the writing materials signify that a scholar's life will be
the one followed, while rice means happiness. Hebrew letters can be
expressed by numbers as well as by the conventional characters; this is
well exemplified by the way they were used in making the fringes of the
temple of Solomon, the strands of which were peculiarly knotted in groups
of different numbers, that, when deciphered, represented a text. A similar
knotted fringe adorns the Taleth or praying scarf, worn by the Jews when
worshipping in the synagogue, on which a text is typified by groups of
knots expressing Hebrew letters. "This fringe is made with four threads,
one of which is longer than the others. Two threads are bound together
with the longest one in a double knot, then it is wrapped seven times,
then eight, then eleven, followed by thirteen, with two knots separating
each." "According to the Kabbalah," states Professor Rosenau, in his book
entitled "Jewish Ceremonial Institutions," "these knots and windings have
a secret meaning, making thirty-nine in all; they correspond to the
numerical value of the letters constituting two words, or 'the Lord is
one,' since each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has numerical

Among uneducated people symbols took the place of written characters in
early days, so, since these knots conveyed a sound and a meaning, a number
is also indicated by the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. These letters or
numbers that were occasionally placed on the early Atouts have the
greatest value when deciphering the attributes found on the Tarots, since
each one has occult significance attached to it, evidently placed there
with the intention of assisting the early fortune-tellers to decipher
their meaning, although omitted in the later books of Thoth-Hermes, when
they were used only for amusement or gambling.


This card is supposed to represent Isis. She is typified by a seated
female figure with two pillars behind her, between which hangs a curtain
indicating her temple. She is crowned with a triple tiara, and has an open
book in her lap. This goddess instructs and persuades. Law, erudition, and
occult science are under her protection. As the first female figure among
the Atouts, she represents the priestess of the temple of Thoth, also Eve,
also the mother. When a woman is the inquirer, this card represents her,
instead of the Pagat, which represents a man inquirer. The name of
Papessa, given to this card by the modern Italian card-painter, seems to
be a corruption of Isis. The former name is misleading, and has no
connection with the original meaning of the figure, for it has nothing in
common with the mythical Pope Joan of the Roman Church, while all the
attributes show that the figure represents Isis, or, perhaps, Tashitum,
the consort of Nebo, called "the Interceder." "The Italian card-makers,"
says de Gebelin, "named numbers II and V of the Atouts, mother and father,
or Papessa and Papa;" but he declares "their emblems are Egyptian and the
triple phallus worn by number II is the one borne by Isis in the _Fête des
Pampylies_, where Isis joyfully receives Osiris. It is the symbol of
regeneration of plants, or spring." The card is also supposed to represent
Juno in the Roman mythology. "The attitude connects it," says the same
authority, "with _la haute magic_, since it is the first of the symbols of
the Emerald Tablet, one of the books of Thoth, that was discovered on the
mount of Nebo." Wiltshire says: "Believers in magic find occult meanings
in the hands of this figure." Roman women sacrificed to Juno on their
birthdays, as she was not only the goddess who presided over maternity
(making Mercury her messenger, who carried the child to its parents) but
she was also the protector of women. Part of the great book of Thoth,
called the Ritual of the Dead, said to have been written with the finger
of Thoth, and generally placed with a mummy, says: "I am yesterday.
Yesterday is Osiris. Phthah goes around. The divine Horus prefers Thee.
The god Set does so in turn, as well as Isis, whom thou hast seen." The
Hebrew letter on the second Atout is Beth, which hieroglyphically
expresses mouth or tongue, one of the things used in the sacrifices to
Nebo and to Mercury.


This card betokens Venus Urania according to the Roman mythology, or Maut
according to that of Egypt. The vulture is its emblem, one of Maut's
attributes signifying maternity. The mouse also represents her, and it
typifies fecundity. The card has many significances, such as speech,
action, initiative, friendliness, protection, progress, production, and
helpfulness. The figure is that of a seated woman holding a shield and a
sceptre. In old cards she is crowned with a diadem that has twelve stars
on its points. This card also symbolizes generation and productive
forces. Its letter is Gimel, the meaning of which is the throat, or the
hand of a man half closed; hence, it signifies that which encloses, that
which is hollow, a canal, an inclosure. The card also represents a woman
friend, but not always one that is desirable. The Egyptian goddess, Maut,
wears a cap and crown, and she bears a sceptre. Her flowing robes are
confined below the breasts with a girdle, the typical zone that has such
occult meanings. Among the Persians and tribes of North Africa, the girdle
is always removed from a bride, as part of the wedding ceremony, and
neither is she nor the bridegroom allowed to wear one for seven days after
the marriage. Maut is called "Lady of Heaven," and "Giver of Life," and
has been identified by some as the Ishtar of the Babylonians.

IV. L'IMPERATORE (The Emperor)

The fourth Atout shows in profile a male figure seated on a throne. He
represents Jupiter or Amun, the Ammon of the Egyptians, the Marduk of the
Babylonians, and the Merodach of the Bible. This letter is Daleth,
suggesting growth, nourishment, generation, divine will, long life,
strong character or personal ability and ambition. This card and number
three have similar representations on the Persian cards, which pack alone
of those adopted by different countries retains the figure-pictures, to
the entire exclusion of the pip cards. This seems to point to the fact
that, while the Egyptians or Assyrians overran Persia and imposed some of
their customs and religious beliefs on the people, the great gods were
adopted reluctantly, and the key to their wishes was not bestowed on the
conquered people, as would have been the case had their use, in
combination with the prophetic arrows or rods, been taught at the same
time. The great temple of Ammon was at Thebes, the southern Egyptian
capital. The name Ammon means concealment, to veil, to hide. "His most
common title," says Mr. Rawlinson, in "Ancient Egypt" (page 322), "was
Suten-Netern, king of the gods, also called Hek or Hyk, the Ruler, the
Emperor, Lord of Heaven, strong bull." His image, like that of the fourth
Atout, is represented as seated on a throne. He is crowned, and wears a
collar and bracelets. He bears the sceptre, the symbol of power and
plenty. One of the invocations to Ammon begins "Hail to thee, Lord of
Truth, whose shrine is hidden."

V. IL PAPA (The Pope)

The pronunciation of the name of this card alone proves its connection
with the Egyptian god, Phthah, but, besides this, it has many strange
significances assigned to it, all of them pointing to the same conclusion.
The figure denotes the religious superior, as it wears the triple crown,
combined with the two pillars of the temple. The African god was greatly
revered and feared, while many temples were dedicated to his worship. Four
figures kneel before Il Papa, whom he blesses with uplifted palm, sacred
to religious ceremonies, and inherited from the "hand of the Cohen" of the
Jews. In the old cemetery at Prague there are hundreds of tombstones, on
which the uplifted hands are carved to represent ideographically the
descendants of Aaron, who alone can bestow benediction in this way. The
hand plays an important part in heraldic emblems. "The Ulster, or bloody
hand," is a mark of rank, not only in English heraldry, but is venerated
by Orientals as well. A bloody hand is frequently found stamped beside the
lintel of the door among North Africans, and small silver or brass
facsimiles of the right hand are also fastened to the door or worn on the
person, to ward off the evil eye, when it is called the "hand of Fatima."
Arabs frequently wear this hand, that is then covered with engraved
quotations from the Koran. Their name for it is Kam or five fingers. The
number five--Khamsa--is considered so powerful and mystic that it is
believed to bring bad luck if it is mentioned, so the word is not
pronounced, but the Arabs say "two-three" instead. The Neapolitans
generally wear a hand with one finger outstretched as a charm, one of the
many links connecting them with Egypt. The fifth Atout in its position and
consequence represents aspiration, health, intelligence, union, strength
of will, religion and faith. The accompanying letter is He, the meaning of
which is aspiration. The triple-barred sceptre is an especial emblem of
Phthah, who was known as "the revealer," the one who made hidden duties

The first four figures of the Atouts are connected with family life. The
inquirer in number one, the parents in two and four, and the influence of
State and Church in three and five, forming a significant group when
studying the cards and their meanings.

VI. GLI AMANTI (The Lovers)

The sixth card has not yet been connected with any of the occult gods of
Egypt or Babylonia. The figures seem to belong solely to Cupid. The card
shows a young man between two females, symbolizing virtue and vice. Cupid
hovers overhead, blindfolded, and with bent bow, ready to "shoot an arrow
into the air." When used for prophesying, this card is typical of a young
man starting in life, whose future depends upon the choice before him,
since good and evil both seem to claim him. The card also denotes
affection, love, friendship, charity, union and sight, the latter being
indicated by the letter, which is Vau, the hieroglyphic sign for eyes,
light or brilliancy. The import of this figure is personal magnetism. This
card also indicates marriage, and is emblematic of the legal tie, as well
as of luck and good fortune.


Pip and Court Cards of the Cup Suit

    37 Seven of Cups

    38 Eight of Cups

    39 Nine of Cups

    40 Ten of Cups

    41 Knave of Cups

    42 Cavalier of Cups]

VII. IL CARRO (The Chariot)

This is one of the most mystic of cards, its number being one that was
regarded as occult by the ancients. It displays a picture of a king or a
conqueror, in his car drawn by beasts, precisely as Nebo was frequently
represented in the texts, "when the gilt chariot never marks the way."
Sometimes the car is drawn by horses, frequently by oxen, sometimes by
lions, and occasionally by black and white sphinxes. This car typifies
Mars, the god of war mentioned in Babylonian mythology and in the Bible,
"when every nation made gods of their own and the men of Cuth made Neral
(Mars)." (2 Kings xvii:30.) As has been mentioned, Nebo bore a sword and
was regarded as accompanying warriors, although he generally represents
the pestilence that follows in the wake of war. The Hebrew letter of the
seventh Atout is Zain, that expresses an arrow, thus suggesting a weapon
as well as a soldier, so it denotes victory, a ruling power, triumph,
protection, a domineering character. "The arrows of divination" are
frequently referred to in the Bible, for instance, when "the king of
Babylon stood at the parting of the way at the head of the two ways to
use divination. He made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he
looked at the liver." The tablets found at Nippur frequently refer to all
the arts of divination, as when a text in cuneiform characters says: "the
arrows were marked Yes and No," or, "the king had shaken the arrows,
questioned the house gods, and looked into the liver." Mr. Culin, in his
"Korean Games," considers that divination by arrows is one of the most
primitive forms, and it is still kept up in Korea, China, Japan, etc. The
sticks used for the purpose in China are in the form of arrows, and are
kept in a cube-shaped box resembling a quiver. They are shaken in a
peculiar way until one jumps out, when the design on it, and the direction
in which it points to the shrine, are considered to have replied to the

The Chariot of the Atouts was, under certain conditions, supposed to
represent Osiris. It was also called "the chariot of Mercury," in the
sense that he was the messenger of Mars when war was to be proclaimed, or
when his caduceus was used as a flag of truce. Seven was always considered
by the Egyptian savants a mystical number, so this card played an
important part in occult science. Count Emiliano di Parravicino, in his
essay published in the _Burlington Magazine_, December, 1903 (page 238),
says: "Mgr. Antonio Dragoni (1814) suggests that the Atouts, numbering
twenty-one [not counting the Joker (_Fou_), which has no number],
represent the Egyptian doctrine beloved by Pythagoras, of the perfect
number Three and the mythical number Seven. Hence, Thoth, the Mercury of
the Egyptians, forms with the pack of pip cards his book or picture of the
creation of three classes of images, which symbolize the first three ages
of the world--_i. e._, the golden, the silver, and the bronze. Each of
these three classes is to represent in its seven divisions a greater
reference or mysticism, a mysterious book of the highest value in the art
of divination, since this book of unbound leaves contained the key to all
mysteries, although its contents were undecipherable to all but those
taught in the temples of Thoth." This proves that other thinkers besides
Papus and de Gebelin had come to the same conclusions from their study of
the Tarot pack, although without having the benefit of exchanging views on
the subject.

The Babylonians believed in seven evil spirits, as the following prayer,
translated from a cuneiform tablet, will prove:

  Seven are they. They are seven,
    The same in the mighty deep;
  And Seven are they in heaven,
    'Though in water, sometimes they sleep.
  They are neither male, nor female,
    These awful spirits that fly,
  But like destructive whirlwinds,
    They swirl across the sky.

  Without a home or offspring,
    Compassion and mercy are nil,
  Since prayers or supplications,
    They neither hear nor feel.

  Like wild beasts bred in the mountains,
    They defy both gods and men,
  Polluting even the fountains
    The rivers, the marshes, the fen.
  Evil are they, strangely evil,
    In temples, in cities, in homes;
  For Seven are they, cruel Seven,
    With weird and terrible forms.

Mr. Willshire, in his "Catalogue of the Playing Cards in the British
Museum," says: "It hardly requires a reference to the Bible to notice the
frequency with which the number Seven is mentioned. Not only was the
Seventh day to be kept holy, but, then, there was the mystery of the Seven
stars, of which Nebo (Mercury) was one, the latter being the most rapid
and brilliant. Also of the Seven golden candlesticks, and, in Zachariah
iii:9, we find that on the stone laid before Joshua there were Seven eyes.
Mercury invented the lyre, according to the Egyptians, in the year of the
world two thousand. At first it had only three strings, but in the hands
of the Muses, Seven were adopted. Then also the Seven virtues were called
the Seven cords of the human lyre, having their analogies in the Seven
colours of the prismatic spectrum. Then there were Seven precious stones,
namely: Carbuncle (garnet), Crystal, Diamond, Agate, Emerald, Sapphire,
and Onyx, besides the Seven chief metals." The emerald was considered the
stone of Thoth, we may infer, since one of his books was entitled "The
Emerald Tablet." Among the Berber tribes, of North Africa, the women put
seven marks on their foreheads, to protect them from the evil eye; this is
also done among some of the Negro tribes. When consulting the pip cards,
the Sevens have peculiar and occult values, marking the boundaries between
those lower and higher. They also make combinations that influence the
consideration of other cards.


The figure on the eighth card is represented in the most modern fashion,
and yet, with its attributes and values, it is much as Egyptians would
have known it when the worship of Thoth was at its height. It is the
goddess of Truth or Ma. Her title was sometimes adopted by the kings, who
called themselves the friends of Truth. Mr. Rawlinson, on page 385 of
"Ancient Egypt," says: "The chief judge of every court is said to have
worn an image of Ma around his neck, and when he decided a case he touched
the litigant with it, in whose favour the decision was made, in order to
testify that everything had been done with justice and truth. In the final
judgment of Osiris, the image of Ma was placed in the scale, and weighed
against the good actions of the dead." It may easily be perceived what a
forceful figure the one of justice must have been to the people who
consulted the oracles in the temples of Thoth. Justice is represented on
the Atout as a seated female figure, on a throne bearing her usual
heraldic marks of a sword and a pair of scales. Law and order are denoted
by every line and emblem on the card, which, summed up, expresses
conscientiousness, balance, power, and poise, in all their forms. The leaf
also corresponds with some of the attributes of the god Tiemei, and again
represents one of the deities of Olympus. Heth, the letter corresponding
to it, means a field, and from that springs the idea of anything requiring
labour and continued effort, the elements and existence. When it typifies
Ceres, of the Olympic gods, it denotes the mother as she is generally
represented, with her daughter, Prosperpine, endeavouring (as the original
type of a mother-in-law) to keep her from the arms of Pluto, while Mercury
leads the wife forcibly away. This card is the dominating one of Cups
(meaning sacrifice) of the pip part of the pack.

IX. L'EREMITA (The Hermit)

The Hermit is one of the most mysterious designs on the Atouts, and has
not yet acknowledged all its intentions. For the meaning assigned to it,
and its value for soothsaying, hardly correspond with the personage
depicted, so it is supposed that the artist who modernized the ancient
design has altered it too completely to be recognised by those
unacquainted with the original intention. It shows an old man, holding a
lantern aloft, and by some is regarded as a watchman calling the hours of
the night, and by others, as Diogenes searching for an honest man. But the
attributes or values given to the card rather quarrel with the design, for
they signify friendship, protection, and wisdom. The rod or staff
signifies a pilgrim, certainly an overseer, and is a favourite emblem in
the Bible, as in Psalms xxiii:4, "Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me,"
or, in Isaiah x:15, "If the staff should lift up." It is the cane of the
medical man, and represents the Sceptre suit of the pip cards. This Atout
typifies strength of character, philanthropy, the wisdom of silence in
difficulties, circumspection, prudence, and sympathy; in short, all the
qualities desirable in a friend. The letter is Teth, which represents a
roof or place of safety, suggesting the idea of a shelter and protection
given by wisdom and forethought. The card also typifies human love and


(The Wheel of Fortune)

This Atout has many and various connections with the superstitions of
ancient days. It is the Wheel of Fortune, and, among other things,
represents Osiris judging the souls of the dead. Anubis clambers up on one
side, while Typhon descends on the left of the wheel. "There are two
ideas," says Papus, "expressed by this symbolic card. The first is that of
supremacy, the second of eternity." The former is typified by Anubis and
Typhon climbing or falling, one reaching to overpower the other, while the
wheel turns eternally, lifting first one and then the other. Thus it is in
life, for fortune changes from good to bad with unceasing regularity,
sometimes slowly and sometimes rapidly, but always controlled by an
unknown force, that is called luck. The circle signifies eternity, and the
Wheel of Fortune is one of the oldest known symbols in the world. It is
deemed by some to have its analogy in the "Wheels of Ezekiel and of
Pythagoras," with all the significances attached to these emblematic
figures. Being numbered ten, its Hebrew letter is Yod, the hieroglyphic
meaning of which is "the forefinger extended as a sign of command." This
sign [Illustration: pointing finger] is recognised even by the
uninitiated, and is one of the surviving attributes of Mercury in common
use to-day. It was placed under the head of Mercury, when he was erected
by the roadside as Terminus to point out a road. In every synagogue is
found a pointer, called Yod, because its long arm terminates in a
beautifully modelled hand, with the forefinger outstretched. This is used
by the reader of the Scriptures to keep the place, since the text is
written in fine characters not easily followed without the pointing finger
of the Yod. The Wheel of Fortune typifies magic power, fortune, expression
of the will of the gods, or their commands, supremacy, superstition, and
luck. Anubis was the conductor of spirits to the judgment seat (or
Mercury, as Chthonius); he also held the balance in the hall of the dead.
He is called "Lord of the Burying-ground," and is represented as a
jackal. The Wheel of Fortune is derived from Osiris, on the judgment seat,
with Anubis as assistant.

XI. LA FORZA (Strength)

This Atout shows a female figure, wearing the mystic hat, or vital sign
[Illustration: infinity symbol], seen on the Pagat, or the first Atout.
The girl forces open the mouth of a lion, expressing vitality, force,
courage, daring. It would seem the ancients believed that, in suffering or
trouble a woman was superior to a man, for endurance and strength of mind.

The figure also typifies innocence, so the fable of Una and the lion seems
to be depicted, whether intentionally or not. Another symbol is that of
the Amazons, who pretended, say modern writers, to great strength, in
spite of being women, but the translations of some of the cuneiform
tablets lead one to suppose that these female warriors were more noted in
their own times for their wit than for their strength. The value given to
the card indicates it to be under the protection of Minerva. The Hebrew
letter for this card is Kaph, which typifies a grasping hand. This card
represents subtle and mystic occultism, with its influence over mankind;
in fact, female charity. It recalls, by its costume and attributes, the
Egyptian goddess Neith, whose temple was at Sais, the chief city of the
Delta. She wears a peculiar emblem on her head, sometimes called a
"shuttle," recalling the device of the Atout. Mr. Rawlinson, in his
"Ancient Egypt" (page 342), says the inscription on her shrine reads: "I
am all that was, and is, and is to be. No mortal hath lifted my veil." The
last expression would be understood in Egypt, for the lifting of the veil
is the conclusion of the marriage service, when the bridegroom sees his
wife for the first time. Therefore, one meaning of the card is a bride.

XII. L'APPESO (The Hanged Man)

The hanged man is a remarkable figure on the twelfth leaf of the Book of
Thoth. The person is suspended by one foot from a gibbet that is crudely
made, by placing a bar in the fork of two opposite trees that have been
lopped of other branches. The hands are tied behind, and the right leg
crosses the left, by which the figure is suspended. This peculiar form of
punishment was at one time inflicted for certain kinds of crimes in
Etruria, and was probably typical when it was adopted. It has been
suggested that one of the signs of recognition between Freemasons consists
in crossing the legs, although these persons generally remain upright and
are not contortionists, so it is difficult to concede this connection with
the figure on the Atout. It shows a young man, who is said to be the
Pagat, or inquirer, of the first Atout, who, having passed through the
temptations of youth, begins to aspire to an ethical future. This is
exemplified by his position, indicating discipline, or submission to a
superior will. Perhaps another idea is, that since all the blood has run
to his head, the powers of knowledge are concentrated, and will be
increased. The card expresses equilibrium, charity, courage, knowledge and
prudence; also wisdom and fidelity. Lamed is the corresponding Hebrew
letter; it designates the arm, so is, therefore, connected with expansive
power and movement, as applied to all ideas of extension, of occupation,
of possession. The figure being raised above the earth, and in a position
of pain, together with humility, typifies a mind withdrawn from temporal
ideas, or a martyr to science. Vulcan is supposed to be the Olympian god
typified by L'Appeso, not only on account of the strong arm, but also
because he was thrown out of heaven and lamed for life.


This thirteenth Atout is represented on some cards as a skeleton mowing
off the heads of men, on some as a rider on a white horse, and on others
on a black one. There is an old proverb: "Death comes riding on a white
horse," and sometimes the clouds betokening rain are called "the white
horses of death." One of the horses of Aurora was called Abraxas, the
numerical value of these letters summing up three hundred and sixty-five,
or the number of the days of the year. The occult meanings attached to
this card and its number in the Atouts are well known, for the latter is
connected with bad luck or death in all European countries, and in every
place where the worship of Mercury or the Hermetic art, as connected with
cards, has penetrated. It is not so regarded, however, by savage tribes,
who have not followed this cult. This superstition is, therefore, by many
deemed to be one of the proofs that the cards were descended from those
mysteries. It is supposed that this image of Death was the half-way
position in the temple of Thoth, and therefore divided the Atouts to the
right and to the left, since they were placed in sequence on both sides.
Thoth Hermes, the unnumbered Atout, was represented by a statue that
occupied the centre of the building, under which stood an altar. On this
altar the rods (or pip cards) were thrown when consulting the oracle. At
any rate, the altar (or its remains) occupies the centre of the ruins of
the temple of Mercury, at Baiæ. The central position of Death was deemed
to indicate the dividing period of a man's life. The inquirer, after
consulting the pictured figures, representing the family, religion,
government, and friends of the beginning of his life, now learned of the
more serious affairs of later years, not necessarily death or bad fortune,
but, rather, a transforming force, since this Atout marked such a distinct
epoch in the path of life, and was to be considered most seriously. Still
the card also portends sorrow, destruction, and death. The letter is Mem,
meaning fertility and formation, or the development of the being in an
unlimited space, perhaps regeneration after destruction, or immortality in
another world.

XIV. LA TEMPERAN (Temperance)

It is probable that this figure was intended for Nut or Nephthys. Of her
but little is positively known, and, so far, no temple erected to her has
been discovered. She was called the wife of Seb, and the mother of Osiris.
Her titles are "the Elder," "the Mother of the Gods," and "the Nurse." She
is usually represented as veiled and pouring a liquid from a vase. Her
figure frequently appears in tombs, as if she was the guardian angel or
protector of the dead soul. This idea of an oblation to the gods, through
pouring wine or oil before them, is found to be common among the
Babylonians, and to "pour oil on the troubled waters" is no mere figure of

The fourteenth Atout is represented as a winged female pouring liquid from
one jug to another, signifying individual and corporeal existence,
production, fruition, health, temperance, economy and offspring. Its
letter is Nun, signifying fruit of any kind and all things produced.
Neptune is typified by one of his nymphs offering an oblation when
mingling the waters. There may be a remote and more occult connection with
this device and divination, for one of the earliest methods of consulting
the gods was through pouring water on oil, or oil on water, and
prognosticating from the results. This process is found to have been used
among the Babylonians as early as two thousand five hundred years before
Christ. Two books have been discovered on this subject that give full
directions for consulting the wishes of the gods through those means, and
they have been fully translated by Dr. Arthur Ungnad. One is,
"Interpretations of the Future among the Babylonians and Assyrians," and
in it are found many directions for discovering the wishes of the gods,
such as: "If the oil fills the cup, the person dies;" "If the oil floats
on water to the east, the person will die;" "If to the right, it is good
luck, if to the left, it is misfortune." The name, Temperance, given to
this card, seems to be rather misleading and modern, since the picture
evidently typifies this most ancient custom.

XV. IL DIAVOLO (The Devil)

Set, or Sutech, the principle of evil, who is connected with the myth of
Osiris, needs but little explanation. Even moderns can comprehend at a
glance all that it typifies. Mgr. Antonio Dragoni is one of the earliest
persons to identify this card with Set or Typho, the son of Seb, who was
the brother of Osiris, and one of the geniuses of evil. Any one who has
attempted to read the myth of Osiris will appreciate the difficulties of
unravelling it. The Hyksos, or shepherd kings, selected Set as their sole
deity, and Seti I assumed his name, thus placing himself under the
protection of the evil one. Afterwards the worship of Set ceased entirely
and he was abhorred. The long ears retained on the figure of the fifteenth
Atout mark the connection with Set, for that was one of his distinguishing
attributes. The Hebrew letter that represents this card is Zain, which
means arrow, or any weapon of destruction. The intention of this Atout is
destiny, chance, fatality, superstition, illness, temptation; it
represents a spirit of evil, hatred, jealousy, and suspicion.

XVI. LA TORRE (The Tower)

In this leaf, a building struck by lightning is portrayed, through a
thunderbolt shot by Jupiter, and conveyed by the "Messenger," Mercury. The
"lightning god" was one of Nebo's titles, and the mark is retained on the
Japanese cards, although probably accidentally, since there is no
connection between their playing cards and the original Atouts. Some
writers call this tower the "castle of Plutus" (the Roman god of wealth),
deeming it a warning to misers, for it recalls the legend relating to an
incident in the life of Rameses II, recorded in Herodotus. The Pharaoh
ordered a tower to be built for his treasures, and he alone had its key,
but daily he discovered that his valuables were disappearing, although
there was only one egress. A watch was set, and it was found that two of
the sons of the architect could enter by displacing a stone, that had been
left for the purpose of thieving, and when the men were entrapped inside,
they threw themselves headlong from the tower. This picture shows a
connection with Egyptian legend that must not be disregarded in seeking to
trace the Tarots to the mysteries of Thoth. Besides, some persons believe
that the card represents the destruction of the temples of Babylon, and
due weight must be given to the significance awarded by that people to
lightning, when consulting the gods through divination, particularly as it
was the weapon of Jove (Merodach), who was connected with the Baal of the
Bible, and sometimes worshipped as Enlil, who was frequently implored not
to destroy his people by lightning. But there are other legends connected
with the destruction of ancient temples that are even older than that of
Egypt, and we are lucky to have access to one that has lately been
translated from the Sumerian language, written in cuneiform characters on
one of the tablets discovered by Prof. Herman V. Hilprecht in the Temple
Library of Nippur. Above two hundred of them were of a religious or
historical character, which he set apart for the well-known scholar,
Doctor Radau, to translate. These related chiefly to the worship of the
gods of the second dynasty of Ur, or about two thousand five hundred years
before Christ. "Although the beginning of the Babylonian religion, as
portrayed in these tablets," says Doctor Radau, in "Miscellaneous Sumerian
Texts from the Temple Library of Nippur" (page 389), "has to be sought
somewhere at about 5700 B. C., when the religions of Babylon were
systematized." One tablet relates how a king of that period conquered his
enemies with the help of the chief god, who at that time was named Enlil,
"the Governor of the gods," "the god who destines fate." It was his son,
Nebo, who was his confidential messenger, his "lightning-rod," and who
wrote on the "tablets of Fate" the decrees of the supreme being at the
birth of each mortal. It may be noted that Nebo is given a different
father at different times, but so it is in the mythologies as now
interpreted; the oldest accounts name the chief gods, whose qualities and
symbols later became merged in more modern ones, and they were given
different names at various times, which is most confusing. The great
temple consecrated to Enlil is called E-Kur, and is at Nippur. This name
for this particular tabernacle became the common name for temple in
general (page 411). No king of Babylon ventured to do anything or take
any step without "kissing the hand" of Enlil, to obtain his consent and
approval. According to Doctor Radau, Enlil was afterwards succeeded or
displaced by Marduk (the Merodach of the Bible, and the Jupiter of the
Romans), although the supremacy of Enlil lasted some three thousand five
hundred years, quite long enough to leave an impression on the "Book of
Fate." One of the tablets translated from the Sumerian language has been
given almost literally, and is an invocation to Enlil, bewailing the
destruction and begging for the restoration of the principal cities of
Babylonia, together with the temples that had been destroyed, which were,
in fact, the homes of the priests, who always dwelt in the sanctuaries.
Doctor Radau (page 444) calls the song, "The Lamentation of the Goddess
Nin, of the City of Mar, who was called Nin-Mar." He gives a literal
translation of the cuneiform text of the tablet that has a well-defined
metre, and is divided into sections. The first three verses are an
invocation to Enlil, the supreme god, by this goddess, Nin-Mar, who
declares that she is "Mistress of Mar," who, through the power granted to
her by Enlil, was once able to destroy the enemies of her country and lay
waste their lands, but the power has left her, as her "Master" sleeps.
Nin-Mar gets a sympathetic god, named Nin-ib, to sing a hymn with her, in
which the destroyed temples are recounted. Nin-ib was the solar deity of
Nippur, also a war god, but inclined to be beneficent to mankind. One of
his titles was "the warrior," and he is identified as the planet Saturn.
His symbol was a man with a lion's head.


  Oh, Enlil, who placed on the waters
    A shelter for men and for all,
  Great God, who creates and then slaughters,
    Come, hark to the children's call.
      Nin-Mar, the smiter of mountains, I sigh, I sigh;
      Enlil, to thee I cry, cry, cry.

  Shall the Mistress of Mar and his daughters,
    His doves and the broods on their nests,
  Shall their homes be cast out on the waters,
    While their Master is lying at rest?
      Nin-Mar, who was the destroyer of lands, I sigh, I sigh;
      Enlil, to thee I cry, cry, cry.

  Exalted one! Listen to pleadings,
    For my Nippur now covers its face;
  My E-Kur, my Ki-Ur have vanished,
    May all be restored to their place.
      It is Mar, the smiter of mountains, I sigh, I sigh;
      Enlil, to thee I cry, cry, cry.


  Great Nippur, and E-Kur and Ki-Ur with Girsu have perished in flame,
  Then harken, oh, powerful Enlil, and restore them to greatness and fame.
  Oh, then shall thy cities exalt thee, thy harems, thy children, thy
  The doves which fly over the towers, the temples that rise from the
  We pray that thy days may be lengthened, thy cities, like mountains,
  Then open thy ears, mighty Enlil, to thy children's most sorrowful cries.
      Listen to Nin-Mar, its Mistress, I sigh, I sigh;
      Enlil, to thee I cry, cry, cry.

The Atout of the Tower typifies the money pip of the cards, with all of
its mundane significances, so its meaning is easily translated as
intending sorrow, destruction, vice, descent, perverseness, wickedness,
degeneration. Ayin is the letter of _la maison de dieu_, or _le feu de
ciel_, as the card is variously called, and both its design and its
complementary letter express all that is crooked, bad, and false.


This Atout shows a young woman "beneath the mystery of the stars," the
seven stars of the Bible, that were the seven planets of antiquity. The
name star is derived from that of Ishtar, the great Babylonian goddess.
The central and most brilliant star on the Atout represents Mercury as the
god of speech, or the transmitter of the wishes of gods to men, or Nebo,
"the writer on the tablets of Fate." The Dog Star was called Thoth by the
Egyptians, who also considered this god the author of speech, language,
and writing, like his predecessor, Nebo, whose mountain was at the plain
of Moab, (Deuteronomy xxxiv:1), and he also had the same planet dedicated
to him. He, the differentiating letter, means voice or speech, just as
Nebo, or Nabi, means prophet, proclaimer. Hebe, who succeeded Mercury, as
cupbearer to the gods, represents him here dispensing the essence of life
equally between two jugs; and, to carry the resemblance still further, the
picture recalls oblations to Osiris, which were typical of the mingling of
life and power, as exemplified by pouring out water when standing on the
earth. Thus, two of the elements are shown, a third one having been
represented in the lightning of the preceding card. The different
connections between the ceremonies of the ancients with the Cup and the
cupbearer have been described in the chapter relating to that emblem. On
some of the oldest of the Atouts, before their designs became confused by
ignorant artists, when some of the most distinctive emblems were omitted,
or altered, a gazelle stands behind the woman. This still further shows
the connection of this card with old Egyptian legends, for it was said
that the gazelle gave warning of the rising of the Nile, by fleeing to the
desert, even before the inhabitants expected the flood. The gazelle is
sacred to Osiris. This animal is also retained on one of the pip cards of
the Spanish pack. The Stars typify immortality, creation, hope, song,
music, speech, and the connection between humanity and a supreme power. It
will be recalled that all these things were attributed to Mercury,
Thoth, and Nebo. A god pouring a liquid from one vessel to another is
frequently found on Egyptian seal cylinders. It is generally the sun god,
although other gods are frequently represented.


Pip Cards of the Rod Suit

    43 Ace of Rods

    44 Deuce of Rods

    45 Trey of Rods

    46 Four of Rods

    47 Five of Rods

    48 Six of Rods]


The eighteenth Atout speaks for itself. The legends connected with it are
far spread, but all are practically the same. Two dogs bay at the moon,
that is represented at the top of the picture. They are symbols of Marduk,
which seem to have little connection here. A crawfish crawls from the
water to land. The meanings are manifold, for the letter Tzaddi (although
its hieroglyphic idea is similar to that of Teth on the ninth card) has
different significances, according to its position in a word. It chiefly
means an aim, an end, a succession, and its value varies.

The occult significance of this Atout is the material body, with its
gratifications, such as gourmandising, drinking, covetousness, gambling,
selfishness, and the danger of self-indulgence. Then, also, the card warns
of hidden dangers, enemies, and accidents, representing, besides the
ibis-headed Thoth, the god of letters. To discover all its significances,
the eighteenth card must be studied with due regard to conditions,
position, and the meaning of those adjoining it, all of which aid in
deciphering the obscure intentions of this leaf, that is assigned in
mythology to Diana.

XIX. IL SOLE (The Sun)

A representation of the sun is the design on the nineteenth Atout, the
accompanying letter of which is Zoph, signifying a defensive weapon. This
Atout indicates the elements, precious stones, and minerals; an awaking,
revival, excitement, transition, nutrition and digestion; also
self-esteem, indulgence, eagerness to make money, and probable success by
self-exertion; also a worldly person, or a happy marriage. The god Ra is
represented by the sun in Egyptian mythology. He was greatly revered by
some of the Pharaohs, such as Rameses, who adopted his name.

XX. IL GIUDIZIO (The Judgment)

The Day of Judgment is the symbol of this Atout, and its letter is Resh,
representing typically the head of man. The picture shows an angel
blowing a trumpet from the clouds, while below, the earth is yawning, to
allow the dead to rise. This is a strange emblem to be placed among the
heathen leaves, for it is peculiarly Christian in its significances; but
even the oldest designs show it pictured in this way. As it stands, it
expresses motion, movement, travels, readjustments, originality,
determination, respiration, and regeneration. Then, also, it typifies
scenery, skill, and artistic capabilities. The Romans dedicated it to
Pluto, the ruler of the nether world. It has many of the attributes of
Ishtar, the goddess of the Babylonians, from whose name Easter is derived.
She represented spring, and was the protector of vegetation, growth, and
agriculture. The angel blowing the trumpet is a very old design, and one
often used on tombs or cenotaphs. It recalls Theodore Hook's witty epitaph
on Lord de Ros, of whom little good could be said, and who was accused of
cheating at cards, but whose family erected a fine monument to his memory,
on which was the representation of the angel of the Resurrection. Under it
Hook wrote: "Here _LIES_ England's Premier Baron patiently waiting the
last _trump_."

XXI. IL MONDO (The World)

This card shows the nude figure of a woman, in an ellipse of leaves and
flowers, the victor's wreath of the Grecians. She represents verity or
truth. In the four corners are the emblems of the apostles that St. John
borrowed from Ezekiel, and the latter from Assyria and Babylonia. These
are the Man, Lion, Bull and Eagle. Besides typifying the apostles, they,
in a manner, suggest the four attributes of the pip suits, and also the
four elements. The inscrutable-looking man represents brain, knowledge,
and mystery. The ox typifies strength, and the lion courage, while the
eagle suggests inspiration and the power of soaring above mundane affairs.
These four emblems represent also the four seasons, when the ox stands for
autumn, the man for winter, the lion for summer, and the eagle for spring;
so the complex meaning of the twenty-first Atout suggests that the head or
wisdom of man prescribes the will of the ox, the courage of the lion, and
the aspirations of the bird, through the mouth of Truth. The attributes of
the designs on the cards are also included in this leaf from the book of
Thoth. The wand that the figure holds represents the Stave, or caduceus,
or magic wand of Aaron, "that was kept for a token," as well as fire. The
Cup betokens the south, and summer, and water. The Sword, earth, and the
Coin (or Ring), eternity and air. Il Mondo's letter is Tau, which
symbolises perfection. The meaning of the whole card covers the elements
of success, luck, happiness, marriage, contentment, bliss.


The twenty-second Atout has no number upon it, and is called Le Fou, Il
Matto, or the Joker. It is the presiding deity himself, Thoth, Nebo, or
Mercury, in all his various moods, with all his many qualifications. These
are denoted by the cards that fall near him, when being dealt, that are
controlled or influenced by his overwhelming personality and
qualifications. He generally brings news and good luck. Count Parravicino
declares: "the Italian name is derived from an Egyptian one, Mat, which
signifies beginnings or perfection." The card represents everything that
is typical of Mercury, such as irresponsibility, with all its
consequences. The figure of Il Matto carries the attributes of Mercury:
the staff he holds in his hand, while a purse dangles from his side. He is
travelling or walking, as if carrying news, or a message, and also
suggests a wanderer, a pedler, or a merchant. Motion, energy, and luck are
expressed, as well as fickleness, inconstancy, and unconventionality that
may amount to insanity. The letter is Shin, and expresses cyclic movement.
In some of the old Italian Tarots, Il Matto is represented as being naked,
or else in tattered garments, like a beggar, when he symbolises folly,
frivolity, or chance. In the Austrian Tarots he is dressed like a
harlequin, or else simply with cap and bells. He is the gypsy wanderer, as
we know him, believed by some persons to be the descendant of the Egyptian
priests of the temple of Serapeon, at Pozzuoli, who were forced to wander
by the destruction of this temple.

It must be remembered that no Tarots have been discovered that are over
five hundred years old, and that a great gap exists between these and the
mysteries of the temple of Thoth; therefore, some of the emblems or
symbols that we know may not resemble those of the originals. We must
also recall that there is more than one cult represented among the Atouts;
therefore, many of the attributes of different deities are mingled
confusingly, perhaps, on one and the same card. The student is necessarily
limited by conditions, for many of the virtues accredited to the
emblematic figures have been received traditionally, or have been
discovered by intuition, and are attributed first to one god, and then to
another, as the study of ancient myths or cults reveals a hitherto
unexpected connection.

The intention of the Atouts, as a whole, is the representation of a youth
and his parents or governors and sponsors. These are followed by
everything that can express human life, such as ambition, love, marriage,
temptation, friendship, luck, trials, illness, hatred, jealousy, despair,
hope, enemies, success, and death. When combined with the pip cards, the
whole makes an interesting game of life, presided over by the versatile
god, Mercury, "the writer on the tablets of Fate."

The whole of the Tarot pack has been called "the Bible of the Gypsies,"
"the Athor of the Egyptians," "the Thora of the Hebrews," "the Great Book
of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus," and "the Key of Things Hidden from the
Beginning of the World"; so, how should poor mortals be able to unravel
all its secrets and lay them bare before an uncrediting world.



The numbered or what are technically known as the pip cards of the Tarot
pack are divided like those of more modern ones into four sets, called by
English-speaking people "suits." These are headed by four court, or
"coate," cards, namely, King, Queen, Cavalier, and Knave, making one more
than usual to each suit, or fifty-six in all. Besides this royal family,
there are the cards numbered from one to ten. In some of the games two or
more of the pip cards are dropped, but this was the original pack. In
Germany there are only three court cards, like the French ones, but there
is no female in the set. The German suits are Herzen, Grünen, Eicheln, and
Schellen; the Spanish, Bastos, Otos, Coppas, and Espadas; the Italian,
Bastoni, Danari, Coppe, and Spade, and English, Rods, Money, Cups, and
Swords. These pips are emblematically displayed through appropriate
symbols, and, besides, each of them represents an idea and a number, all
of which are valuable assistants when grouping the cards, in order to
divine their hidden meanings that are almost lost to us, although quite
decipherable by those who held the key to the ancient mysteries.

The reason for invariably having four suits would be incomprehensible were
it not recognised that there were four emblems that were peculiar to and
always represented Mercury, namely, his Caduceus, his Money, his Chalice,
and his Harpé or Sword, which also typify the four grand divisions into
which the classes of people were divided all over the known world of the
day, particularly in Egypt, for they were Workmen, Merchants, Churchmen
and Soldiers, who were easily recognised through the symbols. If any man
of one of these castes wished to consult the oracle he selected the emblem
of his class and in this way communicated to the god his status in the

Since four was not a favorite number among the mystics, there could have
been no other reason for selecting that number for dividing the pack into
suits, and none other has been suggested by students. As it stands, it
shows that it was arranged scientifically and with a decidedly
well-considered purpose that met all the requirements of the worshippers
at the temple of Mercury.

That the pips have this interpretation seems natural, for if it had been
intended to select lucky devices common at the time it is more probable
that a swatzka, a circle for immortality, or a wheel or perhaps an ankh,
that were favourites among the Egyptians would have been chosen, since all
these devices are quite as old and significant as the ones adopted, being
closely connected with mysticism, it seems to be sufficient proof that the
ones selected were taken because they represented Mercury, so these pips
must be considered valuable links in the chain connecting them with his
worship, even if they stood alone and were not supported by every card in
the Atout part of the Tarots.

That the religions, superstitions and deities of Asia, Africa and Europe
have mingled from time to time there is no doubt. E. Levi, in his "Dogme
et Ritual" (Vol. II, page 230), says: "Passing from India to Egypt with
its occultism, and then to the Hebrews and their theosophy, the stick (or
the wand) corresponds with the Phallus of the Egyptians and the Yod of the
Hebrews that is used to point to the sentence read from the Scriptures.
Thus the vase (or cup) of Mercury is the Cteis, and the primitive He, the
Sword, is the conjunction of the Phallus and the Cteis represented in
Hebrew anterior to the captivity by the Vau, while the Circle or Money
that may be vulgarly considered the emblem of the world is the final He of
the divine name. Thus we have Jod-He-Vau-He, or conventionally pronounced

The wand or staff of the Tarots represents the cards as they were
originally used for divination, when a bundle of arrows, of rods, of
straws or of sticks were gathered together and cast down before the images
in the temple, so that their direction might be noted and inferences drawn
as to the wishes of the gods.

Divination arrows with many mystic significances were common among all
primitive nations. The "golden rod" given to Mercury was evidently the
magician's wand used when the plagues of Egypt were overwhelming the
land. The staff of Moses brought forth water, while that of Aaron curled
into a serpent when it symbolised eternity. There are few of the rock
pictures of Egypt that do not represent their Pharaohs, their gods, and
their priests with a sceptre, a rod, or a staff as an emblem of authority.
So it was typical in ancient days, requiring then no explanation. It may
be noticed in the Atouts that the cards representing the divinities show
each god carrying a staff or sceptre. This fact greatly aids in
identifying them, for the old Italian artists understood enough to place
the sceptre in the hand of the emperor, and give only a staff to the
hermit or priest.

Divining arrows have been connected with worship from very early days and
probably preceded the rods. The former are mentioned more than once in the
Bible, and the first verses of Numbers xvii are particularly interesting
as being a historical reference to the divine commands to consult the
occult, as well as marking the period when rods were substitutes for
arrows. "The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 'Speak unto the children of
Israel and take every one of them a rod according to the house of their
fathers ... twelve rods: write thou every man's name upon his rod. And
thou shalt write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi: for one rod shall be
for the head of the house of their fathers. And thou shalt lay them up in
the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet
with you.'" It was Aaron's rod that put forth leaves and fruited, showing
that he was the one selected by the Lord, who conveyed his commands in
this way.

It would be interesting to know what were the distinctive symbols of each
tribe, but the only trace of them is found in Genesis xlix, which
indicates that Judah had a lion or a sceptre. The symbol of the uplifted
hands still marks the Cohen or Aaron's descendant, while the "Magen
Dovid," or the "shield of David," the six-pointed star, has been so widely
adopted by Freemasons as to have become almost identified with them. By
some people it is called Solomon's seal.

This record of "marking" or numbering the rods is most important, for
through it we trace the origin of the marks which in the hands of the wily
Egyptian priests were afterwards placed on material they deemed more
convenient than the primitive arrows, such as papyrus, or parchment, thus
converting the divining arrows of the past into pip cards as we now know
them. Rods with notched ends, and also some on which figures of men are
cut, have been lately found in the tombs at Abydos. The divining rods of
the Alaskan Indians are given numbers by painting stripes of different
colours on them, while the rods of the Haida Island Indians, off the coast
of North America, are differentiated by tribal distinctions, such as the
Bear, the Tortoise, and so forth. The names of the different families show
how little the savage people have parted from ancient customs. The long,
thin, arrowlike paper cards of Korea show the same tribal marks.

As in Biblical times the rods were called after the men who used them as
representing the ruler of their families, so substituting their pictures
was probably the next step. The cards then were numbered up to ten, while
the father, mother, child, and servant were represented in what we name
Court cards. This enabled a man to ask queries of the gods in a most
particular way. Should he be a soldier he would select a Sword emblem to
typify him and his family, and then, laying the cards of that suit before
the testimony (which signifies the tables of stone or the commandments),
he awaited the answer that was conveyed to him after the priest had
consulted the cards with reference to the way they were dealt in
connection with the pictures on the walls.

In Chinese fortune-telling the gamblers resort to a "shrine of the god of
war," says Mr. Culin, in "Korean Games" (page 23), "and throw numbered
arrows or sticks to divine the wishes of the gods, while sometimes paper
lots are employed." The arrows are kept in a tube like a quiver, or
dicebox, and shaken out at random. The shrine is finely decorated,
containing mystic figures and devices, and it stands upright against a
wall. A table on which to shake the arrows is placed before the shrine. On
page 26 of "Korean Games," Mr. Culin states: "In Japan fifty slender,
rounded splints of bamboo, called Zeichiku, varying in length from two to
fourteen inches, are used. The fortune-teller gathers them in his right
hand, raising it reverently to his forehead, muttering incantations, then
parts the sticks into bundles, prophesying good or evil according to the
number in each, and it is said that each splint, having its value and
meaning, covers all events of a man's life as recorded in a book of
'oracular responses' that the diviner keeps beside him for reference."

Mr. Culin also mentions the "Meisir game of the Arabs," when seven arrows
were shaken from a tube or quiver. This old game was played before the
time of Christ, and Mahomet prohibited it, calling it "the work of
devils." Arrows made of nab-a tree were used. (This name was seemingly
derived from Naib or prophet.) They were of a bright yellow colour, and
when shaken in the box gave a peculiar ringing sound, so arrows made of
any other wood were considered undesirable and were discarded. Each arrow
had a name and was marked with a numeral.

The significant and historical Staff or Rod of the Tarots was replaced in
the French pack by the design of a clover leaf, or, as it is called,
_Trèfle_, which we name a Club, a cognomen that recalls the original
intention, so would otherwise be meaningless. Nor does the Coin or the
Denari take the place of the one that originally represented Mercury
Agoneus, the protector of merchants and of commerce. This sign when
consulting the oracle denotes fair people and also the element of water,
and anything floating on it or living in it, besides all things connected
with trade, mercantile transactions, or development.

The Coppas or Cup suit is appropriately typified by a Cup or Chalice or
the Vase of Mercury Chthonius. This device is superseded by the Hearts of
the French pack, which symbolise the passive principle of the universe.
Corresponding as it does with the chalice of the clergy, it betokens not
only men of religious life, but those of knowledge and power through
learning, and also scientific men and those in the government and law.
Love and instruction are typified by the symbolic Cup that denotes fair
people, who are also represented by the suit of Denari when the cards are
consulted about the affairs of life.

The Cup plays a prominent part in the symbolism of ancient days. In
"Records of the Past," by Professor Sayce (Vol. III, page 86), is a letter
from Dusratta to Amenophis III, translated from a cuneiform tablet
discovered at Tel-el-Amarun, in Upper Egypt:

  "And to my father did thou send much gold,
   An oblation dish of solid gold and a Cup of solid gold,"

showing that the Cup symbolised not only a connection with sacrifice, but
was also a bond of friendship. Votive cups are found in the temple of
Osiris, showing that they were used in his worship. Some are very small,
as if intended for children to use.

The "Cupbearer" to Royalties in Babylonia and Egypt was a most important
post, for the person was chosen for faithfulness, since poison could be so
easily conveyed in wine and drunk unsuspectingly by the king. The
"Sakibearer" or Butler of Persia became one of the heroes or gods. He was
also called "the Spiritual Instructor," showing a connection with the
priesthood, or "He who hands a Cup of Celestial Love," which is typified
by the wine as well as the Cup. "Jamshid, one of the greatest rulers of
Iran" (Persia), says Major Sykes, in "The Glory of the Shia World" (page
139), "was able by means of his seven-ringed Cup not only to predict the
future, but also survey the entire world." This Jamshid had many of the
qualities of Thoth Hermes attributed to him, for he introduced into his
country the use of iron, the arts of weaving, wine-making, and healing,
with many other arts and sciences, his memory is greatly revered. Omar
Khayyam sings of him

  "Iran, indeed, is gone with all his Rose
     And Jamshid's sev'n ring'd Cup,
   Where? No one knows."

The Cup placed in the sack of his brethren by Joseph was no mere accident,
as it had for them a most important and symbolic meaning that is indicated
but not enlarged upon in the Bible. Babylon is called "A golden Cup in the
hand of the Lord." (Jeremiah li:7.) That it was a symbol connected with
power, priesthood, sacrifice, and friendship is indicated whenever it is
mentioned in the Bible--for instance, Psalms lxxv:8, where it is said:
"For in the hands of the Lord there is a Cup"; or the thirty-seven other
times it is again spoken of in the Old Testament, and the thirty-two
references to it in the New. The cups discovered in Babylonia and Egypt
are of many different shapes that indicate the particular uses to which
they were to be put. Those intended for holding the sticks when consulting
the oracle of Thoth resemble a modern dicebox, as well as the box still
used for sticks in China and Japan.

In Egypt immediately after death the soul was supposed to descend to the
Lower World, and was then conducted to the Hall of Two Truths, where it
was judged in the presence of Osiris and the forty-two Dæmones (the Lords
of Truth) and Judges of the Dead. The Director of the Weights was Anubis,
who placed in one of the scales of Justice (or Ma) a figure of Truth, and
in the other a Cup containing the good actions of the deceased, while
Thoth stood by, tablet in hand, to record the result. This shows the
positive connection of Thoth with the emblems that afterwards became one
of the devices of Mercury when he succeeded Thoth in both the upper and
the lower worlds.

Late discoveries in Crete show frescoes representing handsome youths as
cupbearers to King Minos.

The Espadas or Sword suit speaks for itself, and here, as well as in the
name of the Club suit, the origin of the Spade is preserved, for _Les
Piques_ of the French pack (that represents the Halbert of mediæval times
or the guardians of the person of the king), resembled garden spades to
the English, who called them by that name, that when spoken recalled the
pronunciation of the Spanish pip _Espadas_. A Harpé or Sword was presented
by Jupiter to his son Mercury as a token of bravery and skill when he was
the Messenger who killed Argos, or the herald of Mars. His title was then
Mercury Argiphontes when he represented the best qualities of the warrior,
such as courage, bravery, decision, and temperance. The suit typifies dark
people and the element of air, and protects those who fly, whether birds
or men. Altercation is also denoted by the Sword suit, as are troubles,
sorrows, transformations, lawsuits, hatred, enemies, spies, or rivals. The
word in Hebrew signifies lightning, brightness--as in Job xx:25, "the
glittering sword cometh out," which is particularly typical of the bright
planet and the god of lightning. The Sword as "Messenger" is frequently
referred to, as in Numbers xxii:31, "The angel of the Lord standing in the
way and his sword drawn in his hand."

The Cup and the Sword pips are recalled by a game played in Korea called
Pitch-pot, one of the oldest games known to history. Arrows are thrown
into a vase of water placed two and a half lengths from the player, who
kneels on a mat to throw his weapon into it. After all the arrows have
filled the cup the loser must drain it at one swallow.

The Money suit not only recalls the connection with merchants, with
Mercury as their protector, but probably had an earlier origin in the
mystic circle so beloved by occults. Isaiah xl:20 mentions the one "that
sitteth upon the circle of the earth," which quotation is fraught with
symbolism. The royalties on the Egyptian tombs always wear a broad collar
or necklace, the narrow cord being the emblem of the slave; but the King
wears it as denoting his submission to the gods, while claiming to be
supreme among men. The circle placed on their heads was a sign of
unceasing power, and the zone or belt worn by female goddesses or
princesses signified maidenhood or supremacy and had other mystic
meanings. The coin placed on the cards signified many things besides
merchants and their occupations, but it was generally connected with the
material things of life. The Chinese coin still retains the hole in the
centre, making it a hollow round. It is supposed by some that the coin
was originally the mystic serpent with tail in mouth, thus completing the
circle. Zwvoi meant the Serpent which girdles the globe and represents the
Zodiac or Ecliptic line denoting the path of the sun.

The four Court cards dominate and control the pips of their own suits and
play an important part wherever placed. The suits of Money and Cups denote
the home and family life and are considered benign, while Money represents
friends, partners, or strangers, and Swords may mean any one of them as
desired by players; but the last two suits are usually deemed material or
malignant, being the opposite to the benign suits. In general, Rods
represent enterprise and glory; Coins denote investments or transactions;
Cups typify love and happiness; while Swords seem to call for hatred and

Then the number of each of the cards betokens something, for, dealt in
four packets with three cards in each one of the heaps, a singleton is
left for the fourth packet. The first pile should contain an Ace, Deuce,
and Tray, which portend commencement. That is to say, if Rods are the suit
these three cards tell of the beginning of an enterprise. If the suit
is Cups they mean the beginning of a love affair, and in the same way
hatred or a quarrel is denoted as beginning if the Sword suit is used,
while Ace, Deuce, and Tray of Money announce the inception of a business


Pip and Court Cards of the Rod Suit

    49 Seven of Rods

    50 Eight of Rods

    51 Nine of Rods

    52 Ten of Rods

    53 Knave of Rods

    54 Cavalier of Rods]

The second packet includes the Four, Five, and Six, which denote inertia,
stoppage, opposition, concentration.

The Sevens, Eights, and Nines represent balance, poise, or result, and the
Tenth card means uncertainty.

Each number has the same value or meaning. That is to say, an Ace of Rods
means the beginning of an enterprise, the Deuce that the enterprise is
arrested, while the Tray signifies that the enterprise having been
established, can be continued.

The Ace of Money is the commencement of fortune, the following two cards
mean opposition and good fortune. The Ace of Cups the dawn of a love
affair, the Deuce opposition to it, and the Tray consent. The Ace of
Swords means enmity, the Deuce that the enmity is arrested, and the Trey
declares open rupture or war.

Therefore the packets of three with the singleton may be classified as,
first, commencement; second, opposition; third, balance. The first three
indicate dawn, the second three noon, while evening is represented by the
Seven, Eight, and Nine, and the Ten card shows bewilderment or night.

The court cards in the Tarots have four to each suit that are named King,
Queen, Cavalier, and Knave, and they represent man, woman, child, and
servant. The male figure denotes enterprise, the female characterises
affection or love, the youth typifies conflict, strength, struggle,
rivalry, or hatred, while the Knave means transition. The court cards also
express pointedly the meanings of the suit that they represent. They
betoken family life, with the King as father, the Queen as mother, the
Cavalier as son, and the Knave as daughter, child, or servant.

The King of Rods or Staves is a dark, kind friend; his Queen represents an
amiable, good, charitable, or friendly person. The Cavalier is dark and
good; the Knave is a dark messenger or child.

The court cards of Money typify fair people who are friendly, kindly
disposed, or indifferent; the King representing the male, the Queen the
female. The Cavalier portends strangers, and the Knave messages or news.
These figures of the Rods and Cups bear inverse value to the Swords and
Money, for the latter do not belong to the family, but indicate outsiders,
strangers, or the world in general.

The King of Cups is a fair man and frequently means a lawyer, a councillor
or a clergyman. The Queen is a blonde friend, perhaps the best beloved,
and the Cavalier is sometimes a fair-haired lover, while the Knave is an
infant, a messenger, or a birth.

The Suit of Swords always is unlucky, and its King betokens a dark, bad
man, an enemy or some one to be mistrusted. The Queen represents a
brunette who is wicked and to be feared, a gossip, a treacherous
character. The Cavalier is an enemy or a spy, and is dark; while the Knave
is bad news, delay, or malice. The whole group indicates opposition raised
outside of the home.

It will be seen that if each one of the seventy-eight cards belonging to
the Tarots be given the meaning assigned to it in the foregoing rules,
nearly every emotion, every incident, every characteristic of man is
typified, and the combinations are as endless as are the chances of life.
As the cards are dealt and fall together, one balances or controls the
other, so that when their meaning is deciphered as a whole there is a most
interesting picture of ordinary life.

The game is played by two persons, one who deals and one who reads the
cards, or rather interprets with superior knowledge the meaning of the
great Book of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus. It can readily be seen how the
game could be taken advantage of by the unscrupulous, who induced
credulous persons to believe that the leaves of the book revealed the
future. This faith, indeed, was inherited through generations, who
received it from Moses and many of the Hebrew prophets, as well as from
the priests of the temple of Thoth and those of Mercury; so it is small
wonder that the mysterious leaves were regarded with awe, and that their
revelations are received with implicit obedience, since the orders of the
gods could be transmitted through the rods of Moses and Aaron that became
the pip leaves, and the message was exemplified through the emblematic
figures on the walls. The pips translated the meaning of the Atouts,
without which neither part or volume of the book could be fully
understood. Therefore all fortune-telling with packs of Hearts, Diamonds,
Spades and Clubs is nonsense, since these cards were invented for games or
gambling and have nothing occult or prophetic about them.



It is practically impossible to bridge the chasm between the abandonment
of the actual and open worship of Mercury in his own temples to the
transference of his heraldic emblems to the unbound leaves of a book that
could be concealed on the persons of his priests, for doubtless the rites
of Mercury were practised privately for many years by people who had every
motive for concealment; and since there was no law against these secret
practices, there is no record of their having been broken, no ordinance
concerning games of cards or fortune-telling, and no official record
pointing directly to cards under the name now generally given them. What
may be recorded concerning the priests of the cult of Mercury remains to
be discovered.

Nor can we date the period when these same leaves came to be regarded as
affording amusement, or from being wholly in the hands of initiated
persons and regarded as a vehicle for consulting the wishes of the
deities, they fell into the possession of soothsayers or unscrupulous
fortune-tellers, who did not hold the interpreting key and made improper
uses of the ancient Book of Thoth.

Nor, again, is there any record of when cards became the tools of
gamblers, who used them for games of chance, although their consultation
might always have partaken of the elements of "chance," but in a very
different way.

However, it is well known that the introduction of Christianity into Rome
gradually caused the deities of Olympus to be disregarded, so that those
who still worshipped the gods of their ancestors did so in secret, and
when St. Paul set foot at Pozzuoli, close to the temples of Osiris and
Mercury, the first step was taken towards the downfall of the ancient

It is quite natural, therefore, that writers on the origin and history of
Playing Cards have found no record of their invention, no monument to
their inventor, and no cradle at their birthplace, since they looked
solely for the cards that were familiar to them and for games played with
those cards, while they failed to recognise that the cards were part of a
cult and were the heraldic emblems of Mercury (as displayed on the pip
cards) and those of ancient Egyptian gods (as depicted on the Atouts),
and, therefore, these writers declare that no link exists between the
Italian Tarots of the present day and the great Book of Thoth Hermes
Trismegistus, while they acknowledge that Playing Cards owe their
invention to the Egyptians, who, having inherited the "men portrayed upon
the walls" from the Babylonians and the traditions of Nebo, "the one who
writes the tablets of fate," elaborated the ceremonies, simplified their
code, and introduced them to Europe, first through the priests of the
Serapeon, and then, by means of the Tarots, to other parts of the world.

Some claim that the gypsies were originally the initiates of the temple of
Thoth, and that it was they who carried Playing Cards as a means of
divination through Europe. One of their customs is to demand that the palm
of the right hand be crossed with a piece of money before beginning to
read a fortune; and by some this custom is supposed to date from the time
when the fortune-teller demanded from his clients an oath of secrecy,
which was ratified by making the sign of the cross. Unless there was some
such meaning originally attached to the custom, there would seem to be no
reason for this performance being enacted in connection with
fortune-telling with cards, and as far as is known with no other
transaction in the commercial or nomadic world.

There are many signs suggesting that the gypsies were able to translate
the symbols on the cards at an early date, soon after they appeared in
Europe, and it is certain that for several centuries these nomads have
used Playing Cards for telling future, past, or present events, and have
done it with so much self-confidence that it would seem that they
possessed a key to the occult mysteries. It is, therefore, unwise to
discard this theory entirely, for the gypsy tribes scattered over Europe
certainly aided in widely distributing the cards. Nor does the connection
of gypsies with the ancient mysteries quarrel with the statement that
cards were part of the worship of Mercury, since no man can say that these
people were not the original priests of the temple who were cast out of
their shrines and forced to wander about the world. In England these
nomads are frequently called the Egyptians, while their own name for
themselves is Romany.

Spain has contended with Italy for the honour of originating Playing
Cards, but without proving her case, for Spain preserved only a mutilated
pack of pip cards, showing the symbols of Mercury, indeed, but
unaccompanied by the emblematic Atouts that were the first volume of the
book; these have never been known in that country. But, then, Spain was
not the home of the gods of Olympus, nor was that country in close contact
with Egypt, as was Italy. There is no historic record of yearly
communications between the two opposite shores of the great sea, as is the
case with Italy, for Seneca has left an interesting description of the
great fleet from Alexandria that yearly visited Pozzuoli, on the bay of

These vessels carried not only wares, but merchants and missionaries, from
the great seats of learning at the temples of Egypt. The priests of those
days were not necessarily religious men, but they were scholars and
scientists, who thought that their best use in the world was the
diffusion of their learning and knowledge.

Since it is clearly established that the worship of Serapis, Thoth, and
Mercury was followed at Pozzuoli from a very early date, preceding
Christianity, it may be conceded that the people there were imbued with
the appreciation of its mysteries and adored them. When Christianity
refuted the doctrines of the heathen gods, those who followed the ancient
rites were forced to conceal them. Hence it is that if Playing Cards are
derived from this mysterious worship, through which they consulted the
wishes of their gods, no trace of them can be found in the legal records
before the middle of the fourteenth century, when the cards were
established as a game but not as a cult.

Count Emiliano di Parravicino, in his essay on Tarocco cards in the
_Burlington Magazine_ for December, 1903, declares that professional
players or teachers, known as _barrattieri_ or _rabildi_, were organized
in guilds that were recognised by law as early as the beginning of the
thirteenth century, which seems as if the deposed initiates, or the
priests of Mercury, were still vital and a recognised necessity, although
under a new title.

Happily for the card student, there still remain several packs of Italian
cards that link the present ones with the ancient emblems of Mercury. The
ducal family of Visconti inherited sixty-one cards that originally
belonged to Duke Filippo Maria Visconti, having been executed for him by
Marziano da Tortona early in the fifteenth century. These were mentioned
by Breitkopf in his work published at Leipsic in 1784. This pack differs
from its compatriots and successors in having five, instead of four, court
cards. The Atouts are beautifully painted with all the attributes
connected with Mercury. That of "the Lovers," No. VI, represents Duke
Filippo Maria wearing a broad-brimmed hat on which is inscribed "_A bon
Droit_"; the female figure is dressed as a bride and is probably a
likeness of the Duke's first wife, Beatrice di Tenda, the widow of
Francisco Cane. These figures are surrounded with small shields blazoning
the arms of Visconti and Pavia.

Among these Atouts No. XIII, Death, is represented on a black, instead of
on a white, horse. The figures on the other cards resemble those still
commonly used, but, unfortunately, there are fifteen cards missing from
the pack. This historic collection of Tarots has been frequently described
and reproduced, since Marziano da Tortona, who executed the pictures, was
a scholar, as well as a skillful artist. He introduced some original
features in his treatment of the pictures while strictly conforming to the
heraldic devices that marked their origin, for no man living at that time
would be ignorant enough to change the devices, since they still told
their story to the people of the day, who understood heraldry even if they
could not decipher written words.

This celebrated pack of cards was probably a wedding gift to the
illustrious couple, since the artist was also their secretary. That it was
prized, but little handled, and kept as a work of art is proved by the
good condition of the pictures, which are almost as fresh as when they
left the hands of the designer. They are treasured possessions of the
descendants of Duke Filippo Maria Visconti and are seldom allowed to be
seen or exhibited.

Another interesting collection of early Tarocci (little Tarots) is
described by Count di Parravicino, who states that the pack was painted
early in the fifteenth century by a Ferrarese artist named Antonio
Cicognara. These cards have been owned in one family several centuries
with an authentic history of them, for in the annals of Cremona, written
by Domenico Bordegallo, is found the following reference to the pack:

"1484. In this year our townsman, Antonio di Cicognara, a most skillful
painter of pictures and an admirable miniaturist, designed and illuminated
a magnificent pack of cards called Tarots, which have been seen by me, and
he made a present of them to the most honorable, reverend, and illustrious
Lord Ascanio M. Sforza, Cardinal of the Holy Church, Bishop of Pavia and
Novara, at one time dean of our cathedral and now commendatory of the
canons of St. Gregory, and son of the most illustrious and excellent
Francesco Sforza and the Lady Bianca Visconti, born here in Cremona."

"The same artist," states Count di Parravicino, "illustrated other packs
for the sisters of this Cardinal. They were nuns in the Augustine Convent
founded in this town by the aforesaid Madonna Bianca."

This naïve record of the amusements of the religious communities of the
fifteenth century presents a novel picture to the minds of those who
suppose that cards were not permitted within the sacred precincts,
although such was not the case, as is confirmed by a proverb of the day
that says "Mind what the friar says, not what he does."

The Tarocco cards were thus called from the game "Little Tarots" or
"Tarocci," played at the time, said to have been invented by Francis
Fibbia. Thus the older name of Tarots became corrupted to Tarocco,
although the number and value of the original pack remained unaltered.

The cards painted for Cardinal Sforza are still in existence. Some are
shown in the Carrara Museum at Bergamo; others are in the possession of
Count Alessandro Colleoni; while thirty-five cards of this pack are owned
by Mr. Pierpont Morgan and are exhibited by him in the Victoria and Albert
Museum in London.

It is impossible to do justice to the beauty of this set of cards that are
painted in the most delicate manner. The background is of gold picked out
or embossed with a diapered pattern dotted in raised designs on a smooth
surface; the figures are cleverly moddeled and beautifully executed; the
faces are painted with the delicate touch of an accomplished miniaturist.
That of the Knave of Money is seen in profile, and is so expressive that
it is probably a likeness, since the treatment is even more careful and
the features better drawn than those of most of the Atouts.

The Knight of Cups in the pack (originally owned by Count Alessandro
Colleoni, now owned by Mr. Morgan) is mounted on a white horse and is
dressed in an embroidered coat, with white leggings and pointed shoes. The
hair is parted and falls in waves on either side of the face, which is
that of a very young boy and rather effeminate. There is a crown on the
saddle-cloth of the horse that probably denotes the rank of the rider.

The King of Swords also seems to be a likeness. He wears black armour, and
his shield displays armorial bearings. The Queen of Money has a
beautifully embroidered robe with a regal mantle falling from her
shoulders. Her hands are particularly well drawn and her attitude is
remarkably graceful.

Temperance, Death, and Strength are among this pack, the former pouring
the water and oil together, which is one of the earliest known devices for
consulting the wishes of the gods. Death is the usual skeleton, who in
this case bears a sceptre, and Strength also repeats the emblem of the
sceptre or the caduceus.



It is probable that one of the oldest existing packs is the Tarot pack now
preserved in the Cabinet des Estampes in Paris. Others discovered in the
back of a book in Florence in 1910, also Tarots, have not been open to the
inspection of students. They are valued at two thousand dollars, but the
pack is not complete, nor on record, so the cards painted for Charles VI
may still claim to be the oldest known. The débris of this pack was also
discovered in the binding of a book of the fifteen century. The heraldic
devices on the cards and the detail of the costumes, which are essentially
French, point to their having been produced in the time of Charles VI. The
robes, beards, etc., of three of the Kings are similar to the portraits of
Charles or his courtiers. The velvet hats are surmounted with crowns and
the robes are trimmed with ermine. The dress of the Knaves corresponds
with that of the pages, or else with that of the _sergents d'Armes_ of the
day, while the Queens are dressed like the portrait of Isabella of
Bavaria. The court cards of the fourth suit show a marked contrast to the
richly bedecked ones of the three other suits, for the figures are habited
like savages, which is supposed to recall a fête given on the occasion of
the marriage of one of the queen's maids of honour to the Chevalier de
Vermandois, that had such a horrible termination.

Charles VI had had attacks of mania, but was at that time more reasonable.
Hugonin de Janzay, one of his favourites, planned to entertain him by
inducing him to take part in a mummery, for which the king and five other
men were to be dressed as savages, and were to enter the fête to surprise
the guests. The party were dressed in linen soaked with tar and covered
with fur, so were completely disguised. They rushed into the ballroom
shouting and rattling their chains, when the Duc D'Orleans, brother of the
king, seized a torch from an attendant to look more closely at the
strangers, and by mischance set the inflammable clothes on fire. Most of
the men were chained together and could not escape, but one of them freed
himself and saved his own life by plunging into a cistern of water which
was placed in the buttery for the purpose of rinsing the drinking cups.

The king, who was standing at a little distance talking to the Duchess de
Beri, was saved by that lady, who, with great presence of mind, wrapped
her velvet cloak around her royal master. This gruesome incident brought
on another attack of mania, that lasted until his death on the 21st of
October, 1422, after a reign of forty-two years. It is presumed by M. Paul
la Croix, in his essay on "Cartes a Jouer" (1873), that this celebrated
incident was perpetuated in the French cards that he thinks were invented
and painted at about that time.

The fragments of the second pack, that apparently belong to the same
period, closely resemble those with which we are familiar, since they are
not Tarots but bear the pips invented by the French, and M. la Croix
states (page 241) that he "credits the tradition declaring that these
particular cards are the first Piquet pack, and that these were the
original cards that dethroned the Tarots of the Italians to become the
favorites of the French nation."

These French pips were afterwards adopted by the less ingenious English,
while the Germans invented devices of their own, called Grünen, Eicheln,
Herzen, and Shellen, at about the same period. Although the Spaniards
remained faithful to the Tarots, they discarded the Atout part of the
pack, retaining only the suit cards with the pips of Cups, Money, Swords,
and Staves. The emblems adopted in the several countries nearly five
hundred years ago (when a wave of card playing seems to have swept over
Europe), have retained their hold on the affections of those who adopted
the individual devices, for each nation still clings to the pips that were
then chosen, and it is only by degrees that the French designs are
emigrating to different parts of the world.

The "Jesse" pack of cards, now to be seen in Paris, are painted on
cardboard, and the figures are dressed in the fashions of the day. The
emblems recall the heraldic tokens of two of the courtiers of Charles VI,
as well as the one identified with one of the most beautiful and learned
women of her day. It is said that the invention of these pips was due to
the anxiety of Queen Isabella and her ministers to divert the unfortunate
monarch, so as to prevent his interfering with their schemes.

It was with the alteration of the pips, the adoption of _Coeurs_ (Hearts),
_Carreaux_ (Diamonds), _Trèfles_ (Clubs), and _Piques_ (Spades), the
distinctive use of red and black unmingled with other colours, and the
discarding of the fourth court card, together with the Joker, and the
Atout part of the old pack, that the fortune-telling Book of Thoth became
transformed into a set of toys or gambling instruments. It is little
wonder that their original intention, purpose, and history became
obliterated and finally almost forgotten, so that when a French writer
ventured to state that cards were part of the Egyptian mysteries he was
treated as a foolish dreamer.

The invention of the French pips is attributed to two persons, both of
them courtiers of the king, who probably worked together to produce a
simple and convenient set of devices that should be easily recognised and
as well adapted for playing, as were the original Tarots suited for
divining the lives and characteristics of mankind. One of the inventors
of the French pips was Etienne Vignolles, whose nickname was La Hire, and
this name has been found on some of the old cards, as if he wished to be
perpetuated in this way, and not as the brave old soldier who was well
versed in chivalric customs, and who, according to historians, had always
his sword drawn against the English. The second person to whom is credited
the invention of the Piquet pack is Etienne Chevalier, secretary to the
king, and his treasurer, who was noted for his original and inventive
genius and his quick wit. It is more than probable that to his facile
pencil the new designs should be attributed. The men who formulated the
rules of the game for which they invented the cards must have been clever,
as it is arranged with such care that these rules have remained
practically unaltered for five hundred years, and Piquet is still a
favourite in men's clubs and the best tête-a-tête game known.

The Piquet pack contains five pip cards, Ace, Seven, Eight, Nine, and Ten,
with three court cards, King, Queen, and Knave, called by the French names
of Le Roi, La Reine, and Le Valet or varlet. With this handful of cards
we are all familiar. Here was a great modification of the old suits with
their heraldic devices. The Cavalier of the Tarot pack was discarded, thus
reducing the court cards to three instead of four, while five of the pip
cards were also omitted. The game was thoroughly scientific, needing close
attention and discretion even with the curtailed pack of cards. It showed
the soldier's hand in its stratagem, and that of the artist in its simple

The king's banker was Jacques Coeur, whose beautiful palace in Bourges
shows a pun on his name in every lintel, door or window where a heart is
cut in stone or wood to remind one of the owner. Tradition states that it
was in honour of Jacques Coeur that his heraldic emblem, _Coeurs_
(Hearts), was placed on the cards to perpetuate his memory, to the
exclusion of that of his patron, Mercury, the god of merchants.

The Money emblem was changed to _Carreaux_ (Diamonds). This device may
have been inspired by the little lozenge panes of glass in the windows of
Coeur's palace, or by the tiles in the floors, or perhaps by "_les fers de
fiche_," which would have retained the original idea of the "divining
arrows" from which the old cards came. M. la Croix says: "The Sword of the
ancients became _Pique_ (Spade), to do honour to the two soldier brothers,
Jean and Gaspard Bureau." The _Trèfle_ (Club) was the heraldic device of
Agnes Sorel, a greatly accomplished woman who displaced the queen in the
affections of her husband. Sorel is the French for what we call shamrock
or clover, and was a pun on the name of the lady.

M. la Croix thinks that these cards were devised some time between the
years 1420 and 1440. If so, they could only have been born at the very end
of the mad king's life.

The distinctive marks of the French pack are the two dominating colours,
red and black, that strongly contrast with the various and mingled colours
seen in the Tarots. The reason for simplifying the pips in this way is not
recorded, although the change makes it much easier for players and was a
clever idea, but no sharp division like this is called for when playing
the game of Piquet (or little Pique), for which these cards were primarily
used. It was probably intended to simplify the work of the card maker, as
it demanded only the two colours commonly used by printers, black and red.

It was about the year 1785, over three hundred years after the French had
become accustomed to their new cards, and had entirely forgotten that
there were any others, that Court de Gebelin, a French writer, published
his essay on Tarots, which he calls "that strange collection of unbound
leaves that are the parents of all modern playing cards." It is entitled
"Extràit du Monde Primative Analysé et comparé avec le Monde Moderne, Tome
I, Du Jeu des Tarots."


Pip Cards of the Sword Suit

    55 Ace of Swords

    56 Deuce of Swords

    57 Trey of Swords

    58 Four of Swords

    59 Five of Swords

    60 Six of Swords]

The account begins with the announcement that the origin of the Tarots and
their allegories will be traced and explained, as well as their connection
with the cards of the day. The essay being in French, a free translation
with necessary omissions must be given, while the curious are referred to
the original. M. de Gebelin begins:

"If it were announced that one of the ancient books of the early Egyptians
that contained most interesting information had escaped the flames that
consumed their superb libraries, every one would doubtless be anxious to
see such a precious and rare work. If added to this information it was
stated that the leaves of this book were scattered over Europe, and
that for centuries they had been in the hands of all the world, surprise
and incredulity would greet the suggestion. Yet when, to crown all, it was
realized that no one had even suspected the connection of the scattered
pages in their possession with those of Egyptian mysteries, nor had any
person deciphered a line on them, and that the fruit of an exquisite
wisdom is to-day regarded as a collection of extravagant pictures without
any significance, the world would be surprised at its own supineness or
ignorance. Despite incredulity on these points, a great Egyptian book, the
sole survivor of a valuable library, is still in existence, and, what is
more strange, this book is so universally used and seems to be so
insignificant that no savant has condescended to study its unbound pages,
nor has any student suspected its illustrious origin. Composed of
seventy-eight leaves that are divided into five classes, this book is, in
one word, what is commonly known as the Tarot pack of cards. Of ancient
origin, the bizarre pictures that they display do not betray the intention
or motive for assembling together such peculiar figures and emblems.
These pictures, that seem to be incongruously mingled, call for an answer
to the enigma, and they should not be treated as trifles or merely for
amusement." Such is the opinion of a scholar who lived over one hundred
years ago, and this opinion has survived the ridicule, abuse, and disdain
showered on de Gebelin after he had pointed out that the Tarots were in
truth the Book of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus.

There is only one spot in the world where these cards remain in their
pristine condition and are played with to-day, and where they are offered
for sale, and it is interesting to note that it is close to the place
where the worship of Thoth first made its appearance in Europe.

The Tarots are now used for playing several games, and these, if analysed,
will show marks of the ancient mysteries. Through them can be traced not
only a birthplace, but a history declared by de Gebelin to hark back to
the borderland of civilization. He points out that the writers of his day
have confined their studies to French cards used in Paris, when they were
looking for the origin of playing cards, entirely ignoring, or at least
never referring to, the Tarots, of which probably they had never heard.

The history of French cards was not hard to relate, since it goes back
little over three hundred years. There is a record of their birth, and, as
has been mentioned, there are survivors of the original pack now to be
seen in Les Cabinet des Estampes in Paris, which display Hearts, Diamonds,
Clubs, and Spades.

Merlin, Chatto, Singer, and Breitkopf look farther afield than de
Gebelin's predecessors, whose writings are now forgotten, but all of them,
while acknowledging that the images or the pips of the Tarots with which
they are familiar have some connection with an old condition of affairs,
fail to trace it, since no reliable historical or legal record of cards
that are called "Playing Cards" can be discovered prior to the Middle
Ages, so they assumed that cards could not have existed before that date,
but the possibility that they might have lived and flourished under
another name is overlooked.

These authorities acknowledge that the shape, the sequence, and the
grouping of the Tarots display system, which they decide is interesting
but incomprehensible, yet they fail to unravel the significance of these
arrangements. They touch upon the strange resemblance of various figures
and their value in the game of _L'Ombre_ (The Man) to the civil law,
philosophy, and religion of the ancient Romans, Greeks, or Egyptians. Mr.
Singer points to one of the Atouts that he says "resembles the attributes
of Osiris," and other cards impress him as recalling those of Mercury, as
well as other mythological personages that he writes "seem to be found
among the Atouts." But all the authors arrest themselves at this point
without inquiring if these ancient gods whom they recognised were placed
with intention or by chance on the cards, and, although they concede that
the cards were used for divining purposes, they fail to connect them
distinctly with the mysteries of past ages.

De Gebelin declares that "the Tarots could only be the outcome of the work
of sages," and that "these cards were intended for the use of initiates
and not for gamblers." He alone pierces the mystery of the origin of the
Tarots, while the others content themselves with supposing that cards
sprang in their present form into use precisely as Minerva emerged fully
equipped from Jove's head; they write that cards had no existence, no
form, and no record, previous to those accorded to them about the
thirteenth century.

To call an antagonist "a dreamer" or "a fool" is an unconvincing form of
argument. To declare that a proposition is untrue because it is presented
for the first time and has not been looked into is absurd; so to-day, over
one hundred and twenty-five years after Court de Gebelin spread his pearls
before the uncomprehending students of Playing Card lore, it may be well
to recapitulate his theories and study his conclusions with minds opened
by latter-day revelations of the ancient rites, mysteries, and cults, and
not to reject them without investigation.



As early as 1656, according to the writers of the day, a pack of cards was
called in England, "a pair of cards," which was evidently derived from the
Italian, Paio, as the combined Atout and numbered cards, or the two
volumes of the book of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus, were occasionally called
in Italy. The importation of cards was prohibited in England in 1463, by
Act 11, Henry VII, as local productions were to be encouraged, so foreign
cards are seldom found in England.

Sometimes the collection of fifty-two cards, adopted from the French, was
called "a stock," notably in the play of "The Three Ladies of London,"
where one of them says: "Now, all the cards in the Stock are dealt about."
But the word is now only applied when it is wished to designate those
cards left after a hand has been dealt, although they are more commonly
called "the widow," or "the forsaken one." In Queen Elizabeth's day, a
pack of cards was called "a bunch," and Shakespeare terms them "a deck,"
which designation is still used in Scotland and in parts of the United

The designs on the cards representing the numbers are technically termed
pips, or peeps, perhaps from the seeds of apples, pears, and oranges, that
are so called in England; and they are also called spots.

In the "Metamorphosis of Ajax," by Sir John Harrington (1615), he says:
"When Brutus had discarded the kings and queens out of the pack, and shown
himself sworn enemy to all the Coate cards, there crept in many new forms
of government." This rather unique and old-fashioned way of designating
the figures in the pack leads some persons to suppose that the name
implied "coated figures, that is to say, men and women wearing coats, in
contradistinction to the other devices of flowers or animals." The term
does not seem to have been general, however, and it is more probable that
they were called "court cards," since these representative persons are
dressed in ermine, with rich embroideries and jewels, and two of each suit
are crowned, so that they were recognised as "coated," or fashionably
dressed. It has been pointed out that the original French court cards were
probably likenesses of the kings of France of the day, as well as their
consorts and mistresses; while in England, they were copies of well-known
portraits of Henry VIII and his beautiful mother, Queen Elizabeth of York,
so that they were rulers of the card kingdom, as well as of their
respective countries. The cards were, therefore, called "of the court," or
"court cards."

The collection necessary for most of the games played with the French
cards vary in number, but this is merely a matter of local preference, as
demanded by the games in vogue. In Paris, a Piquet pack requires only
thirty-six cards, while, in the United States, Nonsuch Euchre calls for
sixty-one, including the Joker, which card is unknown in France. A
standard French or English pack contains fifty-two cards, divided into
four suits, like their forefathers, the Tarots. The distinguishing feature
of the junior pack is the two colours into which it is parted, for two of
the suits are painted black, and two are red; this distinction marks the
difference between the French cards and those of all other nations, where
local pips are used.

The Tarots had four court cards to each suit, while the French and Spanish
packs have only three members of the court world. The Spaniards omit the
woman from their cards, while the French drop one of the men, the
cavalier, a mounted figure that gives variety and value to the royal
family in other countries, and makes the game more like one of war, and
not merely a compliment to a distinguished lady. However, the King, Queen,
and Knave are now the only ones with the French emblems, and these are
followed by ten pip cards, in which number one, or the Ace, is sometimes
the highest, and, at others, the lowest in the pack, according to the game
to be played.

In the United States, a pack is incomplete without the Joker, which then
makes fifty-three cards to a standard pack. Many writers have tried to
connect the number fifty-two with the weeks of the year, but, as can
easily be seen by studying the Tarots, this was not the original number,
and the French, when inventing their new set of cards, probably had no
such connection in mind, and the Piquet, which is the earliest French
pack, contains less than fifty-two cards.

The Joker did not make its appearance in the United States until about the
middle of the nineteenth century, and then for a rather strange reason.
The cards used in the Northern States were those inherited from France or
England, while those used in the extreme South-western States were of
Spanish origin, but the packs of none of these countries had retained the
old figure of Mercury. The Joker, however, suddenly appeared in the
American packs, the reason for this being as follows, cards are printed or
stamped on large sheets of paper, which are afterwards cut apart to the
required size. When arranged on the sheet, one space in a corner was not
used, and, therefore, left blank, although the back was printed exactly
like all the rest of the pack. Having no need for this card, the makers
generously threw it in, and placed it on the outside of the wrapper, so as
to show the colour and design of the back. The value of the new card was
rapidly recognised by players, who, impelled by some unknown power,
assigned to it the position originally occupied by Il Matto of the Tarot
pack, with all its old privileges of taking every other card. It was
particularly valuable in the game of Euchre, that sprang into popularity
at the same time that the Joker (or the one who played tricks and took
them) was adopted. So, through this accidental appearance of a blank card
in the pack, Mercury suddenly asserted his old supremacy, and cunningly
resumed his wonted place and power in the card world, although his
original prominence and his cult had been entirely overlooked and
forgotten for over five hundred years, except in one particular town in
Italy, where the old Tarots are retained in their pristine condition.

Instead of using a blank card on the outside of the pack, some of the
European card manufacturers make a hole in the wrapper, through which may
be seen the Ace of Hearts, stamped with the government revenue stamp. In
England and the United States, the name of the manufacturer is printed on
the Ace of Spades, and the revenue stamp is pasted on the wrapper of the
pack. German card makers often place a blank card in their wrappers, but
it has not been incorporated into any of the local games, nor does it bear
a revenue stamp or the maker's name upon it.

As soon as American manufacturers discovered that card players considered
the odd card of value, the Joker was quickly represented by various
grotesque figures, that differ in every pack, and are somewhat confusing
to players. It, therefore, seems a pity that a uniform design is not
agreed upon, as is the case with the court cards. Any deviation from the
dress of the figures on the latter meets with instant opposition from
players. It seems peculiar that the card is never represented by Mercury,
or a fool, or a clown, or perhaps, a red devil, which would make it easy
to distinguish from the Ace of Spades, which is often, and sometimes
disastrously, mistaken for the more powerful Joker. The most desirable
image that might now be used would be a reproduction of the beautiful
flying figure of Mercury, carrying the caduceus, by John of Bologna.

No French packs, and very few English ones, contain a Joker, since the
games that call for its use are not favourites in those countries.
However, the Joker, with all its inherited value, is known in the
Japanese and Korean packs of cards, where it seems to be of sporadic
growth, and is apparently not connected with the ancient god, Mercury, the
quondam ruler of the cards.

Nor are the makers of the French packs wedded to one costume for the court
cards, as are those of England, where the slightest change in the dress,
emblems, or colours, causes a remonstrance from players, who insist on
retaining everything as they have been accustomed to it for several
hundred years. The English people, however, do not reverence the images
because they are those of their own royal families, for it remained for an
American to identify the origin of the pictures, and to connect them with
the originals.

English players even resented the alteration made about 1870, when the
cards were cut in two, and reversed, making what are known as "double
headers." These are sometimes declared to be an American innovation, but
in "Cartes a Jouer," by M. Merlin, a pack of Venetian cards, dated 1602,
is illustrated, the court cards of which are so divided.

Another novelty invented and introduced in America, is the "index," or
the number of the card printed in the upper left-hand and lower right-hand
corners. This was necessary for playing Poker, where the players keep the
cards squeezed together as closely as possible, to prevent other players
looking into their hands. These useful little numbers have given their
name of "squeezers," or "indexed cards" to this fashion. English clubmen,
however, absolutely refused to adopt cards printed in this way.

The costume of the King in English and American packs is a grotesque
reproduction of that of Henry VIII of England, and that of the Knave is
like the dress of the page of his day. The long sleeves were nicknamed
"pokeys," since food or precious articles might be concealed in them, so
these bag sleeves were the ancestors of pockets and reticules.

It is quite as important to retain the position as the dress of each
figure, if the wishes of players are to be respected. Thus, the King of
Hearts holds the sword of Mercury uplifted in his left hand. It is an
heraldic weapon, and not a rapier, or what is known as a dress sword, that
would have been usual with the costume of the period. His mate on the
English cards, the red King of Diamonds, has a battleaxe displayed in the
upper left-hand corner, and he is the only king whose face is in profile.
His right hand is raised, as if bestowing a blessing.

The two black kings each hold uplifted swords. That of Clubs faces towards
the left, as does the King of Hearts, but Clubs holds an orb in his right
hand. The King of Spades faces towards the right. All the kings have long
hair, resting on the shoulders, and curling upwards at the ends. They wear
small, pointed moustaches (with the exception of Hearts), and all have
beards divided in the middle and curled. Crowns and long, flowing robes,
trimmed with ermine, complete the costume, excepting on the modern,
double-headed cards, where their royalties are curtailed of half of their

It was once fashionable to assign names to the royal family of cards. This
custom has been retained in France, and is the only one, with the
exception of the colour and designs of the pips, that has been kept, for
the early dresses have been entirely discarded, and fantastic ones, with
no heraldic meaning and no inherited intention, have been substituted.
The revolution that overturned the throne of France also upset the
costumes of the card world, that had closely resembled the original
designs up to that date, but when royalty was banished, the cards followed
many and various fashions.

In the originals, the Knave of Clubs was named Roland, for one of the
heroes of French literature in the time of Charlemagne. The king of that
suit has a legend printed beside his name, "_faut sou_" or "lack penny."
The Queen was called Tromperie.

The King of Diamonds received the historical name of Corsube, and the
motto of his Queen was "_en toi te fie_," or "self-trust." The King of
Spades was Apollin, a Saracenic hero, and the Queen of Hearts bears the
motto, "_La foie etsp. d. u._," or "lost faith." The date of these cards
is about 1450.

In another pack, of probably nearly the same date, the King of Hearts is
named La Hire. This was the nickname of the warrior who was said to have
assisted in the invention of the game of Piquet, and the pips unalterably
connected with it. The King of Diamonds has, beside his name, that of
Hector of Troy, said to have been the ancestor of the kings of France. The
Knave of Spades is Ogier the Dane, reminding the players of one of the
peers in the time of Charlemagne. The kings of this historic pack were
Alexander, Cæsar, David, and Charlemagne. The queens were Judith, Pallas,
Argine, and Rachel. Judith was intended for Isabella of Bavaria, mother of
Charles VII, and a very disreputable person; Pallas typified Joan of Arc,
who gave her life for her nation; Argine was supposed to represent the
wife of the king, Marie of Anjou; and Rachel was Agnes Sorel, whose
emblem, the sorrel or clover leaf, had been placed among the pips.

The Knaves in the card kingdom of England wear battlemented caps of red
velvet, shaped like those worn in that country by the servant class in the
middle of the sixteenth century, when the dress of each man and woman
marked his or her position with peculiar distinctness. To be quite
correct, the caps should be black, but the touch of colour is well-liked
on the cards. The warriors or police of the pack are the black knaves who
hold pikes as weapons. The Knave of Clubs looks to the right, and his
comrade to the left. These cards typify Boaz and Jakin, or the pillars of
the Temple of Solomon, revered by Freemasons.

The Knave of Hearts is a soldier, like his comrades, but of a somewhat
higher grade, and he carries on his right arm a halberd "at rest." In his
left hand is a branch of olive, representing the messenger of peace,
clearly descended from the emblem of Mercury, whose wand was often used as
a flag of truce. The Knave of Spades carries a twisted ribbon, strongly
suggestive of the caduceus; and he is supposed to represent Patch, the
favourite court fool of Elizabeth of York. Both the Knave of Hearts and
the Knave of Spades are in profile, and look over the left shoulder. The
hair of all is long and curly. With the exception of Clubs, all of the
Knaves wear moustaches, but no beards. Diamonds once sported a quiver with
arrows, but this has now become part of the dress, and is difficult to
separate from its trimmings. Before they were so ruthlessly cut in half,
these Knaves had funny short, fat legs, with broadtoed shoes.

The names given to the knaves in different localities and in different
games are not written on the cards, as is the case in France, but they
receive them from the players, and are sometimes historical and rather
affording. In the old game of Gleek, they were nicknamed Tom. In other
games, the Knave of Clubs was designated Pam, and in Germany, he is called
Wenzel, Wencelaus, or _der Treffle-Bube_.

Jack was the name given to all the Knaves in All-Fours, which cognomen has
clung to them. In Euchre, the Knaves of Trumps are called Bowers. The
rules of that game make the Joker the highest card, followed by the Knave
of the suit declared to be trumps, and the Knave of the suit of the same
colour. Thus, if Hearts are trumps, its Knave is called "the right bower,"
and the Knave of Diamonds becomes "the left bower." This word is a
corruption of a dialect word, meaning "young man," and was given to the
Knaves when Euchre was invented, about the middle of the last century, at
the same time that the Joker was reappointed to his old place in the pack.

In Skat and the games from which it has been adapted, such as Tappé Tarot,
of the Austrians; L'Ombre, of the Italians, and Primero, of the Spaniards
and English (to all of which the German game bears a strong resemblance),
the Knaves are called "Matadores." In France, the Knave is called Varlet,
or Valet; in Italy, Fanté; in Spain, Soto; but there are local nicknames
for all the Knaves in different countries and in different games. Obermann
and Untermann, or, for short, Ober and Unter, are printed on the two male
figures in the German packs, where three court cards are retained, but
where no Queens are to be found, although the Tarots had four royal
personages, including a Queen.

The attributes, dresses, and devices of the queens of the card kingdom are
historical and most interesting, for, like their kings and valets, their
fashions have survived unchanged for practically four hundred and
twenty-five years, since the French cards were introduced into England.

None of the faces are in profile, but the Queens of Diamonds and Clubs
incline to our right, while the Queens of Hearts and Spades look towards
our left. The robes are trimmed with ermine and are confined at the waist
by jeweled buckles. A wimple or veil floats from the fair hair that is
parted over the brow and crowned with a diadem, worn quite far back
instead of on the top of the head.

The representation of the Queens on the cards is a close copy of the
costume of the many portraits extant of Elizabeth of York, daughter of
Edward IV of England, wife of Henry VII and mother of Henry VIII. Some of
her likenesses are in different collections in England, the most
interesting one being in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The picture of Henry VII, which hangs as a pendant to that of his lovely
wife, is marked 1505, or four years before his death, and looks like an
elderly, careworn man, but that of his consort was probably painted at the
time of her marriage, as she is portrayed as a young, sweet-faced woman.
It is this picture that has been placed on the cards, where it has
remained practically unaltered for four centuries, while her husband's
likeness has not been perpetuated among the court cards.

The reason for placing the likeness of Elizabeth of York on the cards may
be briefly stated. She was born in the palace of Westminster, February
11, 1466, and was the eldest child of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.
For some years the little royal princess was heiress to the throne. When
his daughter was about nine years of age, King Edward made an expedition
into France, and war with that country was averted only by her submitting
to become tributary to the invaders. In the articles of peace, the
Princess Elizabeth was contracted to the Dauphin Charles, the eldest son
of Louis XI and the great-grandson of the crazy Charles VI, for whom the
French pips were said to have been invented.

"From the hour of her contract with the heir of France, Elizabeth was
always addressed in the palace," says Miss Strickland in her "Lives of the
Queens of England," "as Mme. la Dauphine," so "the most illustrious Maid
of York" (as she was also called) was taught to speak and write French by
ladies sent to England by Louis. They also dressed the princess in the
latest French fashions. The simple veil of fine white muslin, that had
been the customary court dress, was replaced by a velvet hood with long
lapels heavily jeweled. Flowing sleeves trimmed with ermine took the
place of the tight ones with broad lace cuffs that had formerly been the
style in England, and a robe confined at the waist by a girdle and jeweled
buckle took the place of the stiff, tight bodice. All these items of dress
have been closely copied in the cards, where they may be easily studied.


Pip and Court Cards of the Sword Suit

    61 Seven of Swords

    62 Eight of Swords

    63 Nine of Swords

    64 Ten of Swords

    65 Knave of Swords

    66 Cavalier of Swords]

Elizabeth was also taught embroidery by her French _dame d'honneur_, but,
above all, was instructed to play with the cards bearing French pips
instead of those with German emblems, showing Acorns, Leaves, Hearts, and
Bells, that were probably used before that time in England, since they are
the only ones found in that country.

The marriage contract was treacherously broken by the French king, who
married his son to Anne of Bretagne, and this slight to the Princess
Elizabeth so infuriated her father that it caused his death.

After years of sorrow and vicissitudes, Elizabeth married Henry VII,
January 16, 1486, thus uniting the houses of York and Lancaster, and her
heraldic rose remains on the cards to remind us of this important event.

John de Gigh, a prebendary of St. Paul's, wrote a Latin epithalamium on
her marriage, and a part of it describes this exalted lady on her wedding
day. A free translation of it may be given as follows:

                      Oh! royal maid,
  Put on your regal robes in loveliness.
  A thousand fair attendants round you wait,
  Of various ranks, with different offices,
  To deck your beauteous form. Lo, this delights
  To smooth with ivory comb your golden hair,
  And that to curl and braid each shining tress,
  And wreathe the sparkling jewels round your head,
  Twining your soft, smooth locks with gems. This one shall clasp
  The radiant necklace framed in fretted gold
  About your snowy neck, while that unfolds
  The robes that glow with gold and purple dye,
  And fits the ornaments with patient skill
  To your unrivalled limbs, and here shall shine
  The costly treasures from the Orient sands.
  The sapphire, azure gem that emulates
  Heaven's loftly arch, shall gleam, and softly there
  The verdant emerald shed its greenest light,
  And fiery carbuncle flash forth its rosy rays
  From the pure gold.

This graphic description of hair, costume, and ornaments seems to be still
repeated in the cards of to-day that closely resemble the portraits of
this dainty queen.

Elizabeth was a believer in fortune-telling and consulted an astrologer on
many occasions. It was predicted that all sorts of good fortune would
befall her in 1503, on the day that she completed her thirty-seventh year.
This is alluded to in the elegy that Sir Thomas More wrote on his royal
mistress, describing in it the folly and vanity of such divinations and
their untrustworthiness, as follows:

  Yet was I lately promised otherwise
  This year to lie in weal and in delight;
  Lo! to what cometh all thy blandishing promises,
  O false astrology and divinitrice,
  Of God's secrets vaunting thyself so wise?
  How true is for this year the prophecy?
  The year yet lasteth, and lo, here I lie.
  It booteth not for me to wail and cry,
  Pray for my soul, for lo, here I die.

For, after a short and sad married life, Queen Elizabeth died on her
birthday, February 11, 1503. "She was," says Miss Strickland, "one of the
most beautiful of our queens. Her portraits are numerous and her
monumental statue is in King Henry's Chapel at Westminster Abbey. It was
designed by Torregiano and shows the sweet expression of her mouth."

The portrait of this lovely, gentle lady may well remain as queen of the
Card Kingdom, with that of her son, Henry VIII, as king. In England the
Queen of Hearts is still frequently called "Queen Bess."

The plaid or chequered backs fashionable at one time on cards were later
discarded, since they could so easily be used by gamblers, who put marks
on the cards that could not readily be discerned by unaccustomed players.
The chequered backs gave rise to the supposition that the board for
playing chess had been transferred to the backs of the cards, and the
chessmen had been converted into printed figures on the faces of the
cardboard. This idea has been proved incorrect, since cards are in no way
derived from the game of Chess.

In France the backs of the cards are highly glazed and are of a plain,
uniform colour, generally red or green. In Spain card makers use speckled
backs. The modern Tarots have designs engraved on a very thin paper that
is pasted on the back, the edges of which are turned over the face of the
card, making a narrow border. These designs are sometimes "the woman of
Samaria," and at others a Hercules throwing rocks down a precipice. The
backs of old English cards were generally plain, and when paper was scarce
or expensive, old cards were too useful to be destroyed, and were used for
various purposes; hence we find them in the bindings of old books.

Sometimes they were cut up for paper dolls. The richly dressed figures of
the court cards were ingeniously put to this purpose, while a skillful
cutter could with a pair of scissors fashion sleds, chairs, tables, etc.,
from the pip cards.

In "Henry Esmond," Thackeray mentions that an invitation was sent on a Ten
of Diamonds, and this was a common practice in America before the
Revolution. There are several cards preserved in different families on
which invitations have been written or printed. One of them is as follows:
"Sir Jeffery Amhurst's compliments to Mrs. Paul Miller, and desires the
Favour of her Company to a Ball at the New Assembly Rooms on Saturday the
23d inst., being the Anniversary of St. George. Head Quarters April 18th,
1763, New York."

In the days of Charles I and the Commonwealth, there was a Sir John
Northcote, ancestor of the present peer, who took the Parliamentary side
against the king. His father was Justice Northcote, who at a game of cards
won an estate in Devonshire from a Mr. Dowrish. The game played was
Piquet, and to commemorate this transaction, the hands held by the players
were afterwards inlaid upon the table they used, that is still preserved
by the family.



When Mercury's emblems were discarded by the French, some four hundred
years since, to be replaced by local designs, it was but natural that the
points should be accorded original and appropriate significances at their
birthplace, as well as in the alien countries where these new pips were
adopted. Names were suggested by the shape or usage of the device in
different games or under noteworthy occasions.

Thus, the Pique of the French (the shape of which was derived from the
outline of the _hallebarde_ of the soldiers who were on guard about their
king) received from the English the name of Spade, and for this several
derivations have been given. One of them is that the shape resembled that
of the shovel or spade common among miners, but the more probable origin
is the one that is suggested from the Tarot pip called by the Spaniards
Espadas, the name of which was transferred to the new emblem, which is a
suggestion that the Tarot cards were not unknown in England before the
arrival of the French pack, although no cards of this period have been
found in England.

This is strange, for fragments of an old pack called Dr. Stukley's cards
are now in the British Museum, bearing Bells and other German emblems.
They are of about the date of the invention of the French pips, but since
they were found in the binding of a Latin book that may have been imported
into England, the originals may never have been used in that country.

In Yorkshire, the common people call a Diamond a "Picke," says Mr. Taylor,
"because it is picked or sharp-pointed as the diamond stone." Other
authorities declare that "it is to be gathered from its resemblance to a
mill-pick," and others assume that the small window frames of early days
are responsible for the name Diamond, as they were generally lozenge or
diamond-shaped. The name "Picke" may also have been a corruption of the
French Pique, assigned from the original to the pip of another colour.

The name Club by no means describes the clover or sorrel leaf that was
the emblem adopted by Agnes Sorel, but was probably the name originally
given to the Rod or caduceus of the Tarots, again showing that these cards
were probably known in England before the French pips became fashionable.
They may have appeared first at court, and then among the noblemen and
upper classes, although it was probably a hundred years before these
emblems became common, as fashions moved slowly in those days and cards
were not cheaply reproduced, but for some time were expensive luxuries
only to be found among the rich.

Hearts are the only pips whose emblem is correctly described by its name.

The name of Ace seems to have been derived from As or Asso, which was the
unit of the Roman coinage. It is represented by a single device, placed in
the centre of the card, a fashion followed in all countries.

A nickname for the Ace of Diamonds in Ireland is "the Earl of Cork." This
is explained by Mr. Taylor, who says: "It was because it is the worst Ace
and the poorest card in the pack, and the Earl of Cork was the poorest

The Spaniards call the Ace of Money _Le Borgne_, or "the one-eyed." The
Trey of that suit is _Le Seigneur_. The Trey of Cups is named _La Dame_,
or the Lady, and the Deuce of that suit _La Vache_, or the Cow. The Nines
of Cups and of Money are "the great and little Nines," while the Ace of
Sticks is "the serpent." This is the caduceus of Mercury, around which
originally were wound the two heraldic snakes, which have now degenerated
into two strips or ribbons.

The Aces of the Swiss pack have flags wrapped around the central pip, and
those of Germany have beer mugs and kindred subjects printed on them. In
European countries, cards can only be purchased from tobacconists or in
beer gardens.

The Spaniards call the Two spot Dos, the Germans name it Daus, and the
French and English dub it Deuce. Although it is always the lowest in the
pack, since in almost all games the Aces are "high," there is an old
proverb which says, "There's luck under the black Deuce," and old whist
players had a habit of trying to prevent the good fortune from falling to
an adversary when they turned it up for trumps by saying, "Not when the
right elbow is on it," and suiting the action to the word.

In England, at one time, the Nine of Diamonds was called "the curse of
Scotland," or "the cross of Scotland," referring to the arrangement of the
pips, which, with the addition of a few connecting lines, can be made to
look like the heraldic St. Andrew's cross on the arms of Scotland. Mr.
Taylor quotes on page 235 from "The Oracle or Resolver of Questions"
(1770), saying "the Crown of Scotland had but nine diamonds in it, so that
was the origin of the name for that card."

An explanation is given for calling the card "a curse," as there is a
tradition that it was on this card that "the Butcher Duke of Cumberland"
wrote his sanguinary order after the battle of Culloden, and yet another
reason given is that, in the game called after her, the Nine of Diamonds
is named Pope Joan, to whom a large forfeit must be paid. Old Chinese
laquered boxes, that also contained beautifully carved mother-of-pearl
counters (chips), always had several little trays in them, which obviated
the necessity for spoiling a fresh pack of cards and folding them for the
necessary trays. The Chinese boxes had the Kings, Queens, Knaves, and
Nines of Diamonds painted on their bottom. These were placed in the centre
of the table and the forfeited counters paid into them. The game called
for one chip to be paid to the King, two to the Queen, three to the Knave,
and four to Pope Joan (the Nine of Diamonds), causing this card to be
disliked by players, who considered it "a curse."

We call the Three spot a Trey, which name is probably derived from the
Spanish Tres or the French Trois.

The Four of Hearts is sometimes called Bob Collingwood, and is by some
considered an unlucky card, while the Four of Spades has received the name
of Ned Stokes; but these are probably localisms and have but little
interest for the general public. The Four of Clubs is nicknamed "the
Devil's bed-posts," and in the old game of Gleek all the Fours were named
Tiddy. The Four of Money frequently bears the emblem of the double star,
signifying the "house of David," that was one of the signs adopted by

In the game of Gleek the Fives were called Towser, and the Sixes Tumbler,
and these were lucky cards, as they counted double when they were turned
up as Trumps.

"In Ireland," says Mr. Taylor, "the Six of Hearts is called 'Grace's
card,' from the spirited answer returned by one of that family to Marshal
Schomberg, who sent to tempt Grace to espouse the cause of William of
Orange. A reply was written on the Six of Hearts as follows: 'Tell your
master that I despise his offer, and that honour and conscience are dearer
to me than all the wealth and titles that a prince can bestow.'"

Lady Dorothy Nevill, in her interesting book, "Under Five Reigns," says
(page 320): "Visiting cards, it is not generally known, originated from
ordinary playing cards, which were used as such as late as the end of the
eighteenth century. A proof of this is that when, some time ago, certain
repairs were being made at a house in Dean Street, Soho, a few playing
cards were found with names written on their backs behind a marble chimney
piece. One of the cards in question was inscribed Isaac Newton, and the
house had been the residence of his father-in-law, Hogarth, in one of
whose pictures of Marriage a la Mode, Plate IV, several 'playing card'
visiting cards may be seen lying on the floor on the right side of the
picture. On one of them is inscribed, 'Count Basset begs to no how Lady
Squander slept last nite.' As time went on, specially devised visiting
cards with somewhat ornate calligraphy took the place of playing cards,
and these, in time, developed into the small and simple pieces of
pasteboard in use to-day."

Although the Tarots and the cards of many nations have well-decorated
engraved backs, these sometimes were simply chequered or covered with tiny
dots, which made some writers believe the name Tarot to be derived from
_taroté_, or spotted; but this was not the case, since the original name
for cards was the "Book of Thoth."



The ancestor of all our common games of cards is probably L'Ombre, El
Hombre, or The Man, sometimes also called La Beste, the origin of which
has been traced to the middle of the fourteenth century in Italy, where
the original Tarots were used as they are to-day. A modification of the
old game is called Tarroco, the rules for which have been altered during
the centuries that have passed since the game was first taken to the
hearts of the gamblers, who succeeded the fortune-tellers or the priests
of Mercury. The game having now but few interpreters, the cards have
nearly ceased to bear the messages of the gods, and the cult of Mercury is

L'Ombre was played during the fourteenth century in Spain, and wandered to
England, France, Germany, and Austria. It still receives its original
title in the first two countries, and is played by country folk, but in
France it seems to have been discarded.

Under the name of Skat, and played with the pips of that country, a
modified form of the game is known in Germany. In Austria the game is
called Tappé Tarok, and the ancient names are assigned to strangely
designed cards quite foreign to the original Tarots, although the pack
includes twenty-two Atouts and fifty-two pip cards that bear the French,
but not the Italian or German, designs. For this game the old rules are
largely retained, and it is considered difficult and highly scientific, so
this rearranged pack has taken the place of the old Tarots in Austria.
Tappé Tarok is a fashionable game in Vienna, where the "Hoyle" of the day
calmly announces that it originated in that city with the cards invented
for it, totally ignoring the lineage of the true Tarots, of which their
Tarok pack is simply an alteration, with the French pips exchanged for
Cups, Money, Swords, and Staves. That the new symbols were adopted at the
same time that the emblematic figures of the Atouts were cast aside, to be
replaced by meaningless pictures, is most probable, and one author
declares that the change was made "lately," but a pack in the writer's
possession proves that such was not the case, for the designs are those of
the old Tarots.

After the fortune-telling pack had been adopted for a tête-a-tête game, it
spread rapidly from Etruria to other places, and L'Ombre is mentioned in
early Italian books of history, romance, and poetry, where the game is
frequently called Tarroco or Minchiate. In England the Poet-laureate
Waller immortalized "a card torn at L'Ombre by the Queen," who was
Catherine of Braganza, the wife of Charles II. It is Belinda's game in
"The Rape of the Lock," and in many pictures of that time players are
depicted either tête-a-tête, or else three persons are seated at
three-sided tables that were particularly fashioned for this game; these
are still treasured in old mansions, where they are called Ombre or
Preference tables.

The Spanish nickname for L'Ombre is Manilla, which is also that of one of
their favourite cards. Some of their towns have had this name given to
them, one of which is in the Philippine Islands and one on the African
coast. La Manilla is one of the "Matadores," the name given the four
cards that are selected to outrank all the others, and so called because
they are "killers" or "slaughterers," since they kill or take all other

The Ace of Espadas (Swords) is the first Matador, nicknamed Espadilla, or
little Sword, after the Harpé of Mercury that is represented on this card,
the suit being called after its emblem. In England the card is called

The second Matador is the one named Manilla or Malilla, and is the Nine of
Money. The third Matador is the Ace of Sticks, called Basto, "he who
knocks or beats." It is the Caduceus, or Rod, and the suit takes its name
from it. In certain parts of the game it is played with great effect, as
is mentioned in "Cranford," by Mrs. Gaskell, where is a description of
some ladies playing a game that was then called "Preference"; where Miss
Barker at the card table was "basting most unmercifully, although she
declared that she was too ignorant to know Spadille from Manille." The
fourth Matador is the Ace of Cups, and is called Punto, which means the
point or spot.

Players of Skat will readily recognize these terms and the value of the
cards. Rules and play vary in different countries, so it would take close
study of each game to point out the various rules, names, etc., that
connect the games of the day with their five-hundred-year-old ancestor.

In England the eldest descendant of L'Ombre seems to be Primero, Prime,
Prima-sta, or Preference, for all are the same game. Some writers claim
that when Philip of Spain was wooing Mary of England he taught her the
game fashionable at the court of his father, Charles V, but Primero was in
vogue among the people from the days of Henry VIII to that of James I, so
much so that Piquet, the French game taught to Henry's mother when the
French pips were introduced into England, was greatly neglected except in
court circles.

In the Earl of Northumberland's letters we find a reference to the game,
as in one of them is the following sentence: "Jocelyn Percy was playing at
Primero on Sunday in Essex House, when his uncle the conspirator called on

In the Sidney Papers, Vol. II (page 83), there is an account of Sir Walter
Raleigh, William Ambrose Willoughby, and Mr. Parker "being at Primero in
the Presence Chamber, the queen was gone to bed. Lord Southampton, as
Squire of the Body, desired him, Willoughby, to give over. Soon after he
spoke to them again that if they did not leave he would call in the Guard
to pull down the board, which Sir Walter Rawley seeing put up his money
and went his ways." This occurred in 1598.

In Marcus's "Life at Primero," many of the terms used in the game are
mentioned, such as Prime, Rest, Eldest Hand, Flush, Stop, Pack, etc., all
of which have been adopted in one or more modern games. In Minshew's
Spanish Dictionary there is an illustration of players at Primero in the
time of Queen Elizabeth.

In "Capitolo del Gioco della Primera," by Berni, the game is thus
mentioned: "To describe what Primera is would be little less than useless,
for there can scarcely be any one so ignorant as to be unacquainted with
it, although played differently in Florence from Venice, Naples, France,
or Spain, but none of these various ways of playing the game are superior
to the Rules of Rome, where the game principally flourishes."

In one of the works of Rabelais, edited by M. le Duchat, two kinds of
Primero are described called "the lesser" and "the greater." In the former
only pip cards are required, but in the latter the whole Tarot pack is
retained, as in Austria, where Atouts and pip cards belong to Tappé Tarok.
The Germans play "the lesser Primero" and call it Skat. This shows how
widely the rules of the game have parted from the original laws, which is
the reason that it is now almost impossible to harmonize it with the
fortune-telling game that it was primarily. In Italy it is called
Minchiate, Tarocco, and Tarocconi. These now differ as much from the
original as bridge whist does from these games.

The terms of the different games were frequently used in old plays or
romances in England, as well as in other places. Shakespeare mentions
Primero in "Henry VIII" (v:1): "I left the king at Primero with the Duke
of Suffolk." Again, in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" (iv:5), Falstaff says:
"I never prospered since I foreswore myself at Primero."

Sir Harry Wildair (1701) says: "The Capot at Piquet, the Paroli at Basset,
and then Ombre. Who can resist the charms of Matadores?"

Lady Lurewell answers: "Ay, Sir Harry, and the 'Sept le va, Quinze le va'
[of Basset], 'the Nine of Diamonds at Comet' [or Pope Joan], 'three Fives
at Cribbage and Pam,' the 'Queen to the Knave of Clubs in Loo.'"

The terms in Primero have been so generally adopted in modern games that
they are familiar to all players, although as a collection they are no
longer used for one game. Primero is played by dealing four cards, at
which the players look, and, if they are unsuitable, they say "Pass." The
Sevens are the highest cards and are worth twenty-one points. The other
numbers have values that differ according to the locality where the game
is played. Quinola, or the Knave of Hearts, represents the Joker, and the
cards left after dealing are not called the Widow or the Stock, as in some
games, but the Rest. Punto, or "point," is not the Ace of Cups, as in
Spain, for in England it is the Quinola. Flushes are four cards of the
same suit, and Prime is a hand in which there are four cards of the same
value, but each one of a different suit.

Card games followed each other, first one and then another becoming the
fashion, only to be replaced by a new one or a modification of some old
one, and after L'Ombre and Preference came Mawe, Post, Lodam, Noddy,
Barkerout (probably Baccarat), and countless others, to the now
all-important Bridge or Auction Whist.

Mawe is described in Mr. Singer's "History of Playing Cards" (page 258)
"as a playe at cards grown out of the country from the meanest into credit
at court with the greatest." The game is frequently referred to by name in
books or plays written about 1580. The Ace of Hearts is called Rumstitch
or Romstecq, the name given to Mawe in the Netherlands. In Germany the
game is played with a Piquet pack of thirty-six cards, and any number of
persons from two to six may form the party. The Italians call a similar
game Romfa.

Noddy is a childish game, but it was fashionable in the seventeenth
century, and is frequently referred to by writers of that time.

Gleek is described in Cotton's "Complete Gamester," where it is called "a
noble and delightful game or recreation." It is also mentioned by Villon,
who wrote in 1461, and other contemporary authors. M. le Duchat, the
editor of Rabelais, declares that the name is derived from the German word
_Glück_, meaning chance or luck. It is played by three persons only, each
of whom is dealt twelve cards, eight being left in the widow, that is
called the "stock." The Deuces and Treys are taken from the pack. If the
Four is turned up as trump, it is called "Tiddy," and each player pays
four counters to the dealer. A Mourival is a hand holding all the Kings,
Queens, Knaves, or Aces. The players bid for the stock, as is done in
Nonsuch Euchre. The eldest hand says, "I'll vie the Ruff"; the next, "I'll
see it"; the third, "I'll see it and revie it," or, "I'll not meddle with
it," which terms are closely copied in modern games. The Ruff is the
highest flush, or else four Aces. The game of Ruff seems to have succeeded
Gleek, and many games have been evolved from it, including Bridge, Poker,
and Euchre, each one of which has adopted certain rules to the exclusion
of others, in this way making such different games that few people can
trace them to the originals. To ruff is a term still used by provincials,
by which they mean to revoke.

The steps from Ruff to Bridge are called by different names, such as Trump
or Triumpo by the Italians and Spaniards. "Ruff and Honours, Alias Slam,
was once a favourite in England," says Cotton in 1680.

In 1737 Richard Seymour published some rules, in which he says: "Whist, or
the silent game, vulgarly called Whisk, is said to be very ancient among
us, and the foundation of all the English games upon the cards." Dean
Swift declares that in his time "Whisk was a favourite among the clergy."

"His pride is in Piquet," says Lord Godolphin in Pope's "Moral Essays,"
showing the position that this game occupied in England in 1733, about
three hundred years after its introduction to the English court. It is
still played at the clubs to-day, showing what a strong hold it has upon
the affections of card players, and its original rules are hardly altered,
while the cards remain practically the same as when invented by La Hire,
Etienne Chevalier, and Jacques Coeur.

It is supposed that the first reference to Piquet in print is in the works
of Rabelais, already quoted from (1533). Probably the earliest book of
rules is the one published at Rome in 1647, and translated into English in
1652. The rules were very much the same as those laid down afterwards by
Cavendish in 1882. The "point" was called the "ruffe," or, in French,

In "Les Facheux," by Molière (1661), there is an interesting Piquet hand
described by Alcippe, one of the players. In 1646 a _Ballet du Jeu de
Piquet_ was produced, in which the dancers were ranged according to their
colours, the blacks opposite to the reds and both sides headed by the
court cards. This ballet became a great favourite and was often produced,
as it interested the audiences, who appreciated the various movements of
the dance that reproduced and corresponded with the play of the game.

English and French plays frequently refer to the card games of their day,
and Piquet is often mentioned. In the Epilogue to "Sir Harry Wildair"
(1701) is the following:

  Vat have you got of grand plasir in dis town?
  'Tis said Vidont is come from France, dat vil go down.
  Piquet, Basset, your vin, your dress, your dance,
  'Tis all you see tout a la mode de France.

John Hall was one of the early writers in England who referred to
Piquet, originally called Cent in that country. He says, in 1646, "a man's
fancy (or character) would be summed up at Cribbage; Gleek requires a
vigilant memory, Mawe a pregnant agility, Picket a various invention,
Primero a dexterous kind of rashness."


Pip Cards of the Money Suit

    67 Ace of Money

    68 Deuce of Money

    69 Trey of Money

    70 Four of Money

    71 Five of Money

    72 Six of Money]

In 1659 a curious pamphlet was published called "Shuffling, Cutting, and
Dealing in a Game at Pickquet," a political squib which used the terms of
the game to describe the politicians.

Hamlet says: "How absolute the Knave is. We must speak by the card or
equivocation will undo us. By the Lord, Horatio, these three years I have
taken notice of it, the age is grown so picked (piqued)."

As the French cards, with the game of Piquet for which they were invented,
were introduced into England in the time of Edward IV, it is possible that
Hamlet used a familiar term when he declared the age was picked, as this
is an expression frequently used in the game.

It is generally supposed that Euchre is a variant of the French game
Ecarté, the name of which is taken from one of the rules, meaning "to put
away or discard." In the United States, Euchre was adopted about 1840,
appearing first in the Middle West. It was for this game that the Joker
was reinstated in the pack, a card that at first was a blank one left
imprinted, but its adoption was accomplished very slowly, and it did not
change the games or completely dominate the packs until within the last
few years.

Others assume that the game had a nautical derivation and was invented by
old salts, as the names given to the commanding cards have reference to
the forward anchors of a ship.

In the year 1870 the first celebrated and authentic illustrated history of
the game of Euchre was published by Bret Harte:

  Which we had a small game,
    And Ah Sin took a hand;
  It was Euchre, and the same
    He did not understand;
  But he smiled as he sat by the table
    With a smile that was childlike and bland.

The verses continue describing the game, in which all cheated, and its
disastrous termination, "When we went for that Heathen Chinee," is too
well known to require repetition.

In early editions of "The American Hoyle," as the book is called which is
the acknowledged authority on card games in this country, the history of
Euchre is given tentatively, but the account is rejected by later
editions, or, at least, not republished. Although the compilers of these
later editions evidently did not value, or perhaps credit, the history
given by their predecessors, it may well be quoted, since no other has
been advanced. The edition of 1864 says:

"The origin of this fascinating game is somewhat uncertain. From the fact
that the word Bauer (a peasant) is pronounced similarly to the names of
the leading cards of the game, some have supposed it to be a German
invention, yet the game is unknown in Germany except in those parts where
it was introduced by wandering Americans." Nor do the German pips and
cards lend themselves to the chief features of the game, particularly
since they have no Joker, which is the most important card in Euchre.

In speaking of this game, Hoyle writes as follows: "As it has been traced
to the counties of Bucks, Lancaster, and Lehigh, in the State of
Pennsylvania, where it first made its appearance about forty years ago,
it is not difficult to conjecture how it arose. Some rich farmer's
daughter of those American Teutonic regions had occasion to visit
Philadelphia, and carried back to her home a confused memory of Ecarté.
From her dim account one of her ingenious rustic beaux created the
rudiments of the original game of Euchre, which it is claimed is a
corruption of Ecarté, which by alterations and additions grew to what it
is. Conjectural as this is, a number of corroborative facts seem to
indicate that it is the fact."

So far "according to Hoyle," but any one who has studied games and their
sequences may also suppose that among the descendants of the Prince of
Hesse's soldiers who were left after the war with England to spend the
remainder of their lives in exile, the old games common in their country
were remembered, and a game was evolved that suited the cards with the
French pips, which were the only ones obtainable in this country, even
although they differed from those of the Fatherland. Euchre resembles
Gleek or Glück, a game well known in Germany, so the tradition of the
farmer's daughter, although ingenious, is probably without foundation.

Many of the terms used in Euchre and Nonsuch Euchre are probably derived
from the dialect spoken by German immigrants and their children. The name
Bower is the American-German word signifying "youngster," which may well
describe "the Knave child," as it was at one time called in England. This
word was naturally bestowed by Pennsylvania Germans on the card, for they
still speak a _patois_ peculiarly their own and clearly derived from their
ancestors. It was probably they who gave this name to the Knave, and it is
retained for the aforementioned game, where certain Knaves have a
particular value.

The word Euchre seems likely to have been derived from the shout of
exultation usual when playing certain games of cards in Germany, although
the evil tendencies of the imp who presides over the spelling of English
words has altered the original word _Juch_ to the peculiarly unmeaning one
of Euchre.

_Juch_ pronounced Yuch, is a cry of exhultation. There is not only a verb
to cry out, _Juch_, but a somewhat unusually constructed noun made from
that verb, which is _Jucheier_; whereas _Jucher_ would be the normally
constructed noun made from that verb. Therefore, it seems quite natural to
assume that _Jucher_, describing a player shouting with exultation when
winning a point, must have been used unconsciously, whether this word is
to be found in the dictionary or not, for it is certainly this exclamation
that is used as the player throws down the card winning the third trick in
Euchre when the opponent has ordered or taken up the trump card or made
the suit. The words Keno or Domino are commonly used to declare winning
one of those two games, particularly in foreign countries, and since
Euchre is evidently derived from alien games, and was introduced by
persons speaking a _patois_ of English and German, the name is probably
taken from the verb mentioned. Ch is pronounced in German like K, so
_Jucher_ has the sound of Euchre. In Grimm's "Deutsches Woerterbuch," we
find the following definition:

    JUCH (interjection).--A loud burst of joy. As example, "The good man
    dreamed as if he were still at the card club, shouting, 'Juch, Juch,
    Grun (the leaf suit in the German cards) is chosen.'"

    JUCHEN (verb).--To shout "Juch."

In the New English Dictionary, commonly called the Oxford Dictionary
(1905), we find the following:

    EUCHRE or UKER or YUKER.--Of uncertain origin, supposed to be German.
    As Bower, one of the terms used in this game, is of German origin, it
    has often been supposed that the word Euchre is also from the German,
    but no probable source has been found in that language. Can it be that
    it is the Spanish Yuca, in the sentence "Ser yuca," given by Cabillero
    as an American expression for "cock of the walk," meaning to "get the
    best of anything"? In 1847 Euchre was common in Mississippi, and is
    alluded to in various celebrated lawsuits growing out of disputes over
    the game.

It would seem that the compilers of the English dictionary had not given
enough weight to the localisms of Pennsylvania when they could discover
only a Spanish derivation for the terms used in Euchre, a game unknown in
Spain. The game that apparently started in the western part of that State
seems to have travelled down the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers, for the
earliest mention of it comes through the boatmen on those great streams.

Poker seems also to be a game evolved by gamesters of the United States
from the old Primero, with its ancient derivations, for so many of the
rules and expressions common in the modern game may be traced to the
fourteenth century. It is played by four or more persons, who bet on the
value of their hands, a pair being the lowest and a straight flush being
the highest hand, the names of which were inherited and explain
themselves. Jack Pot, Widow, and Kitty are some of the cant words used in
the game, the derivations of which are evidently from Primero. The first
signifies the Pool under certain circumstances. The Widow (or the
forsaken, the discarded one) was originally called the Stock, or the cards
unused after dealing. The Kitty is the name for the forfeit paid at the
end of each game by its winner to the gambling house, that frequently
amounted to a considerable sum of money.

In 1908, a variation of Poker was arranged in England, although one writer
thinks that it originated in China, but without giving any authority for
the statement. The game is called Poker Patience. It can be played by one
or more persons, who are supplied with a board on which are twenty-five
squares that, when covered with the cards, according to the rules, will
count ten poker hands, five horizontally and the other five vertically.

The first card is placed on square No. 13, directly in the middle of the
board, and the next card played must touch the first one on one of its
eight adjoining squares. The third card should touch either the first one
or the second, and so on until the twenty-five squares are covered. The
hands are counted exactly as in Poker, a straight flush being the highest,
and counting thirty points, while a pair is rewarded with only one point.
The flushes are not of much scoring value, being only five points, but
they are not difficult to make. This game is easy and interesting when
used as a solitaire, but when two or more players are pitted against each
other and bent on preventing the score of the opponent, it will be seen
that there is a great deal of "play," for there are so many cards left in
the Widow that the game is uncertain until its finish, as a card that is
most desirable may never turn up, and, therefore, there is much chance as
well as skill in the baby prodigy.

"According to Hoyle" has become a proverb among card players, most of whom
could give no more explanation for the term than they could for the origin
of Playing Cards, although it trips so readily from the tips of their
tongues. But whenever a play at cards is disputed, the justification is
that it is "According to Hoyle," which leads to the query of how and where
the sentence originated that is freighted with so much weight and
expression. With this cant phrase goes another, that was once frequently
on the lips of card players, which condemned an unlucky player or a
careless partner to "go to Halifax."

These proverbs will be explained by a cursory glance backwards over the
life story of Edward Hoyle, born in England, in 1672, near the little town
of Halifax, in Yorkshire. He was of a good family and was educated for the
law, for which his clear, analytical, and logical mind seemed to be
particularly adapted. Living in London, he amused himself in the evenings
by meeting some friends at what was the precursor of men's clubs, the
Crown Coffee House, in Bedford Row, to play Whist or Triumph, a title that
was about that time shortened to Trump, a name that is retained to
designate the highest suit elected by the players at the beginning of each
hand, either by turning up the last card of the deal or by electing a suit
according to the preference of the players. The French retain the old name
of Atout for that purpose, although those picture cards have not been used
in that country for centuries.

The first mention of Whist under the revised name is in "The Compleate
Gamester," which was published in 1674, and was intended to supply
standard rules for the fashionable games of the time. But Cotton's laws
were confusing, and the game was played in various ways in different parts
of England, since this standard was not universally accepted, and it is
said that Whist was a favourite only in the servants' hall, so that these
unarbitrary rules led to quarrels and sometimes even to bloodshed.

But when Edward Hoyle became interested in the game of Whist, he had for
partners or opponents some of the deepest players and most distinguished
men about town, and the gamesters gradually adopted regular rules for
their own guidance, which usually originated with Hoyle, so the fame of
his decisions about disputed points was noised abroad throughout London.
This led to his taking pupils at a guinea a lesson, and finally Hoyle
wrote out his rules for their benefit, distributing them first in
manuscript, but finally publishing them in "A Short Treatise on Whist,"
for which he received one thousand guineas. Hoyle's rules were adopted by
the clubs and players throughout England, so, when any dispute arose, his
book was consulted, and, instead of the players saying, "It is the wish
(or the voice) of the gods," as had been the original custom when
consulting the oracles of Mercury, and continued by card votaries, it
became customary to say, "It is according to Hoyle."

That gentleman lived until 1769, and his rules remained unaltered for over
one hundred years. In 1864, however, the Arlington and Portland Clubs,
finding that modifications were needed, revised the rules, after which the
"Cavendish rules" became the mode, but books on card rules are still
issued under the name of Hoyle's "Games of Cards," so "According to Hoyle"
is still a fashionable saying among the votaries of the card table.



Thanks to the lovers of woodcuts, prints, and engravings, the history of
European Playing Cards has been preserved. Through these it has been
investigated, as it would have been impossible in any other way, since the
men who are devoted to the card table are not usually of an investigating
turn of mind, while those who prophesy with cards prefer the occult and
mysterious to the scientific.

It was far otherwise with the _dilettanti_, who recognised the master hand
that had produced beautiful pictures, intrinsically valuable, although put
to what, in the opinion of connoisseurs, was a debased use. Since the
cards, as gamblers' tools, or the instruments of diviners, had little
attraction for print lovers, the latter traced the origin of the cards
from an interest in the method of their production. But the history of
these instruments followed, since it was an integral part of the story of
the pictures that had at first been produced by hand, and then by
mechanical arts. This led to an awakened desire to understand the
connection of the gambling toys with the period when prints were first
issued. But when these learned men studied the histories of the European
countries for the first printed or legal record of Playing Cards, and
decided on the fourteenth century as the date of their birth, they never
looked into the haze of the past to the period when cards were not bits of
pasteboard, but of very different character. So the mystery of their
origin was not unfolded, although all of the written records mentioned
that cards were called the Book of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus, who was
evidently an unknown person.

It was owing to the necessity of producing cards cheaply, on account of
their widespread use, that xylographic arts were invented and perfected,
thus leading the way to printing, that art which has enlightened mankind
as nothing had done before in the same space of time.

Mr. Singer states that "the earliest examples of woodcuts were intended
for Playing Cards," although it is generally believed that the earliest
example of a woodcut that survives is the picture of St. Christopher,
which was discovered pasted inside of the cover of an old book. Many
Playing Cards have been preserved in the same way, since frugal persons
utilized the precious paper on which the cards were printed, and did not
waste it, as is done in this extravagant age.

That the oldest known print is that of a saint does not disprove Mr.
Singer's statement, for many of the rude figures produced by the first
engravers served a double purpose, being equally well adapted for court
cards or as representations of historical or saintlike characters, they
were often adopted first for the games, and then transferred to the homes
of peasants, where the pictures were accorded the name of a patron saint
and revered accordingly, so in many such places priceless cuts and
engravings have been found, and from there have been transferred to
museums or to private print collections, where they are recognised as rare
and valuable specimens of the art of the graver's tool.

These old figures and the cards that followed them are not classed under
the head of games or Playing Cards, so students wishing to examine
examples of early European Playing Cards must seek the print rooms of the
British Museum, or the Nuremburg Museum, and the national libraries of
Vienna, Bologna, and Paris.

Since among the first productions of the graver's tools were gambling
cards, Mr. Singer and others have studied the games for which so much time
and labour were devoted. "It is evident," he says, "that since the
earliest specimens of engraving on steel and on copper both in Italy and
Germany are cards, there must have been a great demand for them, and that
their cheap production was eagerly seized upon by the card makers, who
through it considerably shortened their labours and increased their
output, so from this moment games with cards rapidly spread over Europe,"
while the Book of Thoth was abandoned to gypsies and fortune-tellers.

The cards painted under Grigoneur for the French king, and now in Les
Cabinet des Estampes, Paris, are probably the oldest extant, and are about
contemporary with the Italian packs in Bologna and those in Mr. Morgan's
collection, that are painted, but not engraved.

A pack in the British Museum goes by the name of Doctor Stukley's cards,
for he was the first to exhibit them. They are stencilled and have German
pips. There is no Queen among the court cards, but her place is taken by a
male figure called Ober, accompanied by a King and Unter. There are no
Aces, so the cards were probably intended for the popular game of
Sixty-six. These cards were rudely printed and coloured with stencils.
They were first shown to the society of Antiquarians, London, November 9,
1763, and have been frequently exhibited and discussed. They were found in
the binding of an old book, supposed to be Claudian, printed before 1500,
and to these we owe a debt of gratitude for exciting an interest in
Playing Cards, to which much of their history is due. The supposition that
the German pips were used in England before the French cards were
introduced is sustained only by finding this solitary pack. The book
itself was not printed in England, while the name assigned to the suit of
Spades is clearly derived from the Spanish Espadas, which points to the
probability of the Swords, Rods, Cups, and Money pips having been known in
England. The Trèfle of France was called a Club, as had probably been
done with the Rod suit of the old cards.

A nearly complete pack bearing these designs and almost facsimiles of the
Stukley pack is in the Historical Society of New York.

Among the earliest specimens of ornamental engraved cards are some that
were executed at Cologne, the different cards of which are so widely
separated that the complete pack can nowhere be found. Solitary examples
are scattered in different museums, where they are treasured as beautiful
representations of "the master's" art, although no person knows his name.
The wrapper of these cards has been found, and on it is a well-executed
design of three ornamental crowns, placed inside of Gothic arches, that
are connected by a gracefully twisted ribbon on which is the inscription
"_Salve Felix Colonia_" which is the only remaining clue to the engraver,
the date of execution, and the birthplace of the pack.

In it are five suits instead of four, and these have original emblems
that, however, never seem to have been popular or intended for gambling,
or even for divination, but they were probably the invention of the
artist, who had little idea of the significance of the original emblems
of Cups, Swords, Staves, and Money, for not only was a fifth and
unprofitable suit added to the pack, but the pips were changed to artistic
designs that may delight the senses of the connoisseurs, but fail to
appeal to a card player, since the designer was evidently not as clever as
the Frenchmen, who invented a new set of emblems for their royal master,
and through constructing the game Piquet, that could only be played with
these cards, clinched their adoption by players. The five suits of these
German cards were Hares, Parrots, Pinks, Roses, and Columbines, with four
court cards to each suit, and they are illustrated in "Playing Cards," by
Mr. Singer (page 47), and are attributed by him to Martin Schoen, or
Schongaur. "The costume of the figures," he says, "belongs to the
fifteenth century, and seems conclusively to establish the fact." To this
statement other authorities do not agree.

One of the earliest examples of Playing Cards executed on copper was
produced in Germany before 1446. The artist is known only by his initials,
and is called "The Master E. S." His cards are original and finely
executed, although his emblems stray as far from the ancient ones
peculiar to Mercury as the games to be played with them differ from
divination. The devices are Roses, Cyclamen, Savages, Birds, Stags, and
Lions. This "Master E. S." seems to have copied most of his designs for a
smaller set of cards, and he also executed a pack that had Shields,
Flowers, Animals, and Helmets for pips. These are artistically grouped,
and the escutcheons display coats-of-arms of the nobility that go far to
establish the date of those that are not marked. But the pips, although
they were gracefully marshaled, were troublesome and confusing to the
players, which has caused these cards to be chiefly valued as examples of
the graver's art, lacking the simplicity of the French pips, with their
harmonious red and black colours, these peculiar designs failed to
revolutionise the Playing Cards in common use, as had evidently been the
intention of "The Master."

The little that is known of "E. S." points to his having been the
immediate predecessor of Martin Schongaur, of Colmar, who was the
unrivalled engraver of his time, and has been described as the Van Eyck of
engraving. He was "the actual creator of the art as practiced in modern
times," says Max Lehrs in his essay on the Playing Cards engraved by this
master. "To him we owe the technical method of producing the appearance of
relief and solidity on a flat surface by the combination of a number of
parallel lines on transverse lines, which effect had only been obtainable
before his invention by the addition of colour to the finished prints."
His home was probably in the vicinity of Freiburg, or Breisach, and it is
supposed that he died in 1467.

The cards attributed to "E. S." are scattered over Europe, but they seem
to be universally acknowledged as the first specimens of _engraved_
Playing Cards. The dainty pictures served as models to the students of the
Master, and have often been copied or adopted as accessories to other
pictures. The Four of Men and the Ober Knave of the same suit, the Four of
Dogs, and the Three of Birds were used to adorn the cover of a Bible that
is now in the University Library of Erlangen. These designs were also used
in the tooling of other books.

Augsburg may lay strong claim to be considered the first seat of the art
of engraving on wood, as a Guild of Card Makers is mentioned in the Town
Roll of 1418. Sheets of cardboard on which the pack was printed from the
block, but not yet coloured by hand, are to be found in museums, and it is
supposed that the celebrated woodcut of St. Christopher, dated 1423, was
produced in Augsburg, which about that time became the great exporting
centre of card makers, against whom the manufacturers of Vienna, Venice,
and Viterbo caused ordinances to be passed in their respective cities,
forbidding the Augsburg and Nuremburg cards to be sold within their
boundaries. This law is enforced to-day, which has prevented the
introduction of foreign or French pips into Austria and Italy.

An interesting sheet of cards produced by the tool was acquired by the
writer in Nuremburg in 1910. It is about ten by twelve inches in size, and
is made of several sheets of paper pasted together. The reverse side shows
a lozenge pattern, and each one of the spaces contains a _fleur de lis_,
emphasised at the corner by a square. The sheet has not been cut apart,
and there are eighteen cards printed on it, comprising all those belonging
to the court, and six pip cards bearing the usual German devices. The
figures do not include a Queen, but have the King, the Ober, and the
Unter. The King of Eicheln (or Acorns) is seated, wears a crown on top of
a turban, and holds a sceptre. His Ober and Unter both carry two swords.
Their dresses are richly trimmed and they wear lace at the neck and

The King of Grünen (or Leaves) also wears a crown on top of a turban, but
holds his sword in his right hand instead of his left, as is the case with
his brother of Acorns. His chair is more ornate than that of any of the
other kings. He wears at his neck two muslin lapels, such as were once
worn with black silk gowns by ministers when preaching. One of his Knaves
plays a flute, the other beats a drum. The King of Bells wears a
five-pointed coronet and has a book on his knees. His Ober has a wig and a
richly embroidered coat, but is bareheaded, as is his Unter, who is a
ludicrously stout figure, parrying a thrust with his sword from an unseen
warrior. The King of Hearts has a crown with _fleurs de lis_, and on the
side of his chair is an anchor with the initials M. S., leading to the
supposition that these cards were engraved by Martin Schongaur, the
successor to the "Master E. S." The execution, however, is far inferior to
his usual delicate work. The Ober of Hearts is armed with a pike and his
hair is tied with ribbons, the two ends of which float carelessly down his
back. He and the Unter of his suit can "ruffle with the best of them," for
both have side arms as well as long pikes, and their coats are handsomely
embroidered, while they wear lace at the throat and wrists.

The four Deuces are on this sheet. That of Hearts has an escutcheon on
which is a lion rampant. The Two of Leaves shows a deer and a unicorn
rampant regardant. The Two of Acorns has a Bacchus astride of a beer
barrel, holding up the Cup of Hermes, and the Two of Grünen has the sow
sacred to Prosperine and Mercury, that was always sacrificed to them at
the feast of Hermes, on the thirteenth of May, when Spring commenced, and
Mercury led Prosperine from Pluto back to earth and to her Mother, Ceres.
The pig was also sacred to Nebo, so its position on the cards is fraught
with meaning. The Ten of Leaves and the Seven of Hearts complete this
valuable sheet that shows an early process of card production.


Pip and Court Cards of the Money Suit

    73 Seven of Money

    74 Eight of Money

    75 Nine of Money

    76 Ten of Money

    77 Knave of Money

    78 Cavalier of Money]

A beautiful pack of cards was engraved by Jost Ammon, who was born in
Zurich in 1539. His wood engravings are very numerous. He died in
Nuremburg in 1591. The interesting cards attributed to him were published,
it was said, to inculcate "Industry and Learning" rather than "Idleness
and Debauchery," so may be placed under the head of Educational Cards.
Each one shows a pip, under which is a clever sketch that is fully
described by some appropriate Latin verses. The pips are Books, Winepots,
Cups, and Printer's Balls. One of the cards represents a wood carver at
work, supposed to be a likeness of the artist. Another shows a printer. A
third has on it a bibliomaniac surrounded by flies that he is striking at
with a flapper, and the accompanying verses are forcible, if inelegant. On
the Three of Printer's Balls are a lady and gentleman playing cards. The
Six of Winepots shows two men at a game of Draughts. Some of the cards
have pictures of men and women playing musical instruments, while others
depict various homely occupations.

These symbols did not take the place of those simple devices that convey
at a glance to a player the suit or number of a card, so necessary from a
gambler's point of view. Their authorship has been disputed, but the cards
remain as interesting specimens of wood engraving.

The greater part of the early Italian cards are printed with a pale ink of
a grayish tint. The earliest specimens are a set of Tarots that are much
larger than the standard size of Playing Cards, being about four by six
and a half inches. These cards are finely executed, and are one of the
first of the educational packs, since the emblematic figures of the Atouts
are Rhetoric, Arithmetic, etc.

The specimens of engraved cards of the Netherlands are of a later date,
being about the middle of the eighteenth century. They are carefully done,
and the two red suits are distinguished by being printed with a pale red
ink, while the Spades and Clubs are printed in black. These cards are
pretty miniature pictures, with local figures and landscapes, while the
pips are French and are placed in the upper left-hand corner.

The Dutch have also several educational packs of cards. Some are
historical, with Kings, Queens, and Knaves representing their royalties.
There is also one showing the chief products of their kingdom and its
dependencies. A third pack illustrates the costumes of the different

Germans, French and English were very fond of teaching children through
educational games of cards, and a great collection of these may be found
in the print room of the British Museum under the head of Lady Charlotte
Schrieber's Collection, but it is carelessly kept in drawers, the packs
tied with bits of string or worsted, and it is difficult to study on this



It was but natural that, from the very date of the readjustment of the
Book of Thoth, when it was deposed from its high position of being the
voice of the gods to become the tool of gypsies or the toy of gamblers,
that invectives should be hurled at it from the pulpit, from whence the
early war is continued, as well as from the government, for when pleasure
becomes a vice it behooves those in authority to repress it, so as to
protect the unwary or the ignorant from traps laid for gain against them.

Cardinal John Capistran, who visited Nuremburg in 1452, found the
inhabitants devoted to all games of chance, and so addicted to gambling
that the prosperity of the town was threatened.

The good Cardinal preached against the vice of gambling with such fervor
and eloquence that the cathedral could not contain the crowds who went to
listen to him, so a pulpit was erected before the church, in the great
square or Market Place, under the clock, where a procession of wise men
bowing before the King still takes place daily at noon, and from this
rostrum the Cardinal ordered that all cards, dice, chessmen, draughts
(checkers), etc., should be brought before him and publicly burned; an
order that was implicitly obeyed.

How well the good man succeeded in obliterating games of chance or hazard
may be questioned, since Nuremburg is still one of the chief centres of
card making, the descendants of the original makers being in active
business to-day, who sell sheets of cardboard that were concealed for many
years, on which the cards are printed, but not cut apart, for probably the
manufacture was checked at the time, but never entirely suppressed. The
celebrated museum of the town has one of the best collections of native
Playing Cards to be found, while the dramatic holocaust is recalled with
pride by the inhabitants, who value the woodcut that is commemorative of
the event.

English preachers denounced card playing, and the Scotch dubbed the packs
"The Devil's Picture Books." Robert Burns says:

  The Ladies, arm in arm, in clusters,
  As great and gracious a' as sisters,

    *       *       *       *       *

  On lee-lang nights, wi' crabbit leuks.
  Pore owre the devil's pictured beuks.

The Sunday before Christmas, 1529, Bishop Latimer preached a sermon
against gambling at St. Edward's Church, in Cambridge, taking for his text
"Who art thou?" and filling his sermon with phrases that were culled from
Primero, which was the favourite game of his day. This knowledge showed
such an intimate acquaintance with the game that his offended hearers used
it with great effect against him. The sermon is now remembered only
because of these phrases and expressions that give students a clue to the
rules and play of the old game.

One ingenious preacher took for his text: "As God has dealt to every man"
(Romans xii:3), implying that the Almighty had sorted and distributed the
cards of life. This practical allusion to gambling so horrified his
congregation that they nearly pulled the minister from the pulpit. Yet
St. Paul evidently referred to the "tablets of fate," on which the
destinies of men were written at birth as "the measure of fate," since
these traditions must have been active in the mind of the apostle. Modern
people seldom place themselves in the atmosphere of Biblical times, which
leads to much misconstruction and misunderstanding.

The various proclamations and edicts passed against Playing Cards are a
history in themselves, although it is a pity that they are of too late a
date to throw much light on the first alteration of the cult of Mercury
into games, a change that was probably gradual, and so insidious or secret
as to have no public record. Still, it is through these legal papers that
we get authentic dates and the earliest mention of cards as gambling
instruments or toys; but at the end of the fourteenth century, at a time
when cards were denounced as such, and by name there is still no
interdiction of fortune-telling, which may have been conducted too
secretly to occasion attention, or, perhaps, the general law against
vagrants or gypsies may have been deemed sufficient protection.

M. la Croix says: "The Germans were the first to apply cards to
instructing young persons, by endeavouring to teach them different
sciences illustrated by the cards, that had printed on them historical
tales, sums of arithmetic, heraldic devices, astronomical symbols, bars of
music, or quotations from the poets, with the pips displayed in the
corners to deceive people into imagining that they were enjoying a play,
when in reality they were being gently led along the paths of learning,
and that this idea seems to have found favour in other countries,
particularly in Great Britain and France."

In this list of countries that adapted cards to purposes of instruction
might have been included China and Japan, had M. la Croix studied the
games of those nations. The latter country has two packs that are devoted
to quotations from the poets, or historical tales.

Numerous specimens of these educational cards are now to be found in all
card collections, although to those who regard Playing Cards as part of
the cult of Mercury these instructive bits of pasteboard are no more
related to the Tarots than are advertisements or school books.

There are some puritanical persons who regard Playing Cards with horror,
and will not touch "the devil's picture books" that display the symbols of
Hearts, Clubs, etc.; but these same people adopt with avidity these
educational cards that sometimes have the pips slyly tucked into a corner.
Or, perhaps, they use cards that have numbers printed on them to indicate
the pips, with other marks to show the suits and the court cards, so these
good people play Grabouche, Pinocle, Bezique, Flip, and other games that
are, in truth, recognised as games of chance.

In 1507 a set of instructive cards was invented by Dr. Thomas Muruer, the
celebrated opponent of Martin Luther. The pack was printed at Cracow and
called _Chartiludui Logicae_, and these were intended for the use of the
inventor's pupils in the art of reasoning. At first people were delighted
with them and their novelty, and then they turned against this method of
instruction and threatened to burn the doctor for inventing them.

This pack was an imitation of the Tarots, and was composed of ten logical
cards with sixteen suits of emblem cards, the pips being the German Bells,
Acorns, Leaves, and Hearts, with additional symbols of crayfish,
scorpions, etc.

When Louis XIV was eight years old, it was necessary to educate him, but
he was a dull and reluctant pupil, so Cardinal Mazarin invented some
"instruction cards" for the youthful king that illustrated fables and
proved attractive to others besides the agrammatist.

A little later, some cards depicting the history of France were designed
by the artist Desmarits, who, finding that they were received with favour,
followed them with a geographical set, and then with one called harlequin,
in which the figures of well-known persons were grotesquely dressed.

There are later French packs illustrating the kings and queens of France,
and also some that commemorate the Revolution, the Empire, the reign of
the Orleans family, and that of Napoleon III; for in that country not only
were the cards used for illustrating their historical events, but the
court cards changed their dress with the rulers, not keeping to the
costumes of the fifteenth century, as the English cards have done.

The French also issued a pack of cards to teach heraldry as early as 1680,
and one for music in 1808, while in 1820 two instructive sets were
issued, one of them on botany and the other one on astronomy.

Heraldic cards were published by M. Claude Finé in 1659, and others were
issued in 1725. This idea was followed in England in 1675, when some
German cards were adapted to the needs of the other country. The Germans
issued another pack on which were heraldic devices in 1700, and a similar
one came out in Venice in 1707. The cards are not useful for gambling or
fortune-telling, but they are ornate, and are fine examples of print work,
and as such find places in collections.

In 1656 practical cards for teaching spelling, arithmetic, etc., were
issued in London by F. Jackson, and at about the same time satirical and
political cards were published. Those interested in full descriptions of
these packs can find a list in "The Catalogue of Playing and Other Cards
in the British Museum," by Mr. Willshire.

Cards for divination have appeared from time to time, but the emblems were
so fanciful and so unauthoritative that the unhistoric designs have not
found favour. One of them in the British Museum shows traces of being
derived from the Tarots, as Mercury is seen hovering over a sailing
vessel under his guise of protector of merchants. It is to be remarked
that it is the Seven of Bells and is called Commerce. The Eight of Bells
is the Wheel of Fortune. The Two of Leaves is Hope, and the Six of that
suit is the Death card. It is evident that the artist picked out at
haphazard certain designs on the Tarots for imitation, and that he had no
comprehension of the meaning or value of the numbers, such as three,
seven, or thirteen, accorded to them by mystics.

Humourous, or what are known as harlequin, cards have been published in
all countries, where the emblems themselves have been taken for the
foundation of fantastic figures. One of these packs was designed by Mr.
William Thackeray. There are several French and Belgian packs, but far the
best one was designed by Mr. Charles Caryl and issued by Messrs. Tiffany &
Co., New York.

Musical cards are ingenious, and, by following the rules, several pretty
airs may be played. Cards for the game of Authors were lately popular, and
the game called Doctor Busby was a capital one for teaching children
observation and concentration.

The Japanese cards, that have been referred to, are original in conception
and design. The pack emblematic of the weeks of the year seems to be
intended for gambling, although it shows no traces of a descent from the
Tarots, for the cards display no suggestion of the pips or emblems of
Mercury. Nor are there any emblematic figures like those of China, where
the cards show evident imitations of the Stave, Money, and Sword pips,
with some court cards. The Japanese themselves declare that Portuguese
sailors introduced gambling cards into the country, but the only proof
lies in the tradition and in the name by which cards are known in Japan,
which is _Karta_, for the Portuguese use cards with the Cup, Money, Sword,
and Stave pips, and no traces of these are to be found on any of the
Japanese packs. In that country divining cards or sticks are used, which
seem to have been inherited from China, and the methods of using them
follow closely the rules adopted in all primitive countries, where the old
superstitions referred to in the Bible are still active and in force.

A chap book of the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century had a
large circulation, for it described one Richard Middleton, who, being
caught playing with a pack of cards in church, was haled before a
magistrate, who was amused when the soldier declared that he looked upon
the cards as his Prayer Book, and described what they conveyed to him as
he ingeniously connected each one with some Biblical reference.

This original description led to his release, and it has frequently been
quoted. A variant of the story appeared in "The American Hebrew" that is
worth repeating, as the original Christian ideas have been altered to suit
the synagogue. It says: "The Ace is the only God. The Deuce, the two
tables of stone that Moses broke at one blow. Try to keep them. The Trey
is the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The four is our four
ancient mothers, Sarah, Rachel, Leah, and Rebecca. The five, the books of
Moses. The Six, the six days of the week, and the Seven is the Sabbath,
when God rested and the seven-branched candlestick was made. Eight
righteous persons were saved from the flood, Noah, his wife, three sons,
and their wives. Joab came to Jerusalem at the end of Nine months. Ten
Commandments are the cornerstone of the jurisprudence of the civilized
world. The Knave is the constable who took me up. He was a fool, or he
would not have disturbed me at my devotions. Queen Sheba and King Solomon
are the Royal family. The former dressed fifty boys and fifty girls alike
in male attire, and, to test the king, asked him to tell which were which.
The wise one ordered water to be brought, and then quickly picked them
out, greatly to the astonishment of the queen; but the children had
betrayed themselves, as the boys only washed their wrists, while the girls
washed to their elbows. Furthermore, there are three hundred and
sixty-five spots in a complete deck of cards, corresponding to the days of
the year, fifty-two to a pack corresponding to the weeks. Twelve picture
cards, one for each month. Four suits, Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.
Diamonds represent wealth, Hearts love, Spades health and labor, and Clubs

In the British Museum is a pack of grammatical cards printed by Jane, June
1, 1676. A small treatise of instruction that went with the cards begins
as follows: "To all ingenious gentlemen the Purchasers of these Sciential
cards. It was Plato's custom, after he had ended his disputation, as he
went forth from his school, to give this admonition to his scholars,
'_Videte ut ocium in re quapiam honesta collocetis_,' or, 'Nothing is more
irksome to nature than not to know how to spend one's time,' and if the
mind have not some relaxation from its grave and Serious Employment it
cannot endure. I should have been very injurious to you if I should have
Obscured this Grammatical Epitome and Deprived you of that which will make
much both for your Leisure and Profit."

There is another pack in the same collection with "a short tract" teaching
their use, saying: "For as your cards are entitled Hearts, Diamonds,
Spades, and Clubs, so ours are to be called by the names of Orthographie
(Spades), Etymologie (Clubs), Syntax (Hearts), and Prosodie (Diamonds)."
By such gentle paths were men lured from vice to literature!

Astronomical cards were early adopted in Nuremburg, as was natural, for
one of the most celebrated astronomers lived in that town, and the Tarots
certainly lent themselves more easily to conceptions based on astronomy
than to any other science, since so many of the Atouts have derivations
from the planets. There are also French cards that are dated 1620, and
Italian ones of about fifty years earlier, all of them being on the same

Many of the Atouts in the Tarots are connected with the signs of the
Zodiac, but the emblems on them are not clearly displayed, so inferences
from them are mere guesswork.

The astronomical cards of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, showing
the signs of the Zodiac, are clearly inspired by the Tarots, but the
designs are supplemented by figures that show no connection with the Book
of Thoth.

An English pack, dated 1700, called Virtues and Vices, has the former so
repulsively and the latter so attractively displayed that they can serve
no good purpose.

Historical cards are interesting to students of costume. In the United
States one pack commemorates the war of 1848 with Mexico, and the Kings
represent the generals of the day. On the Aces are views of well-known
country places, One is of the headquarters of General Washington at
Newburgh; another is Highwood, on the Hudson River at Wiehawken, opposite
Forty-second Street, New York, the residence of Mr. James Gore King.

A pack of cards of 1863 represents the battle between the "Monitor" and
the "Merrimac," and the court cards are soldiers in the uniforms of the
day, such as zouaves, etc.

A pack in the British Museum displays small and very indecent pictures
with descriptive legends. Some of the latter are amusing, such as, "Hee
that has no Head wants noe Hatt." Under the picture of a bachelor maid is:

  I know well how the world waggs,
  He's most beloved that has most Baggs.

Under the sketch of an old woman with her pet is written: "Two heads are
better than one, which made the old woman carry her dog to Market with
her," and its mate has: "Men and Doggs may goe abroad, but Women and Catts
must stay at home." Another reads: "Two Doggs and a Bone, Two Catts and a
Mouse, Two Wives in a House can never Agree."

The picture of three doctors entering a room with their sticks to their
noses and approaching a sick man bears the legend:

  If you'll avoid old Charon, the Ferryman,
  Consult Dr. Dyett, Dr. Quiett, and Dr. Merryman.

The following card has on it: "An Ounce of Mirth is worth a Pound of



According to Spanish writers, the authentic history of Playing Cards in
Europe begins about 1332, for they point with triumph to an order issued
by Alphonse of Castile, presumed to be of that date, forbidding his
soldiers to play games or to gamble. It is pointed out by disputatious
writers that the command was not directed against Playing Cards, since
they were not expressly mentioned by name, as are the other prohibited
games of chance. Then there is a second statement that Charles V of Spain,
in 1369, denounced cards, calling them by the local name of Naipes, or
prophets; and also a third record that, in 1387, dice, cards, and chess
were banned by John of Castile.

It is evident through these trustworthy records that gambling was widely
practised in Spain, and that, even if cards were not particularly named in
the first-mentioned edict, it was but little more than eighteen years
later that they had become so common it was necessary to forbid their use
through an official decree.

In 1395 the Provost of Paris issued a proclamation against Playing Cards,
showing that their abuse in the capital of France had become intolerable.
With these and other evidences, it may well be asserted that by the
beginning of the fifteenth century Playing Cards were commonly known in
the capitals of Europe, where they were publicly used for games and
gambling, as well as for fortune-telling.

It has already been mentioned that there are records of Playing Cards in
the "Red Book of Ulm," of 1397, and an account in Nuremburg, dated 1384,
when a monk preached against the inordinate love of gaming among his

Aretino assigns the invention of cards, as well as of chess, to Palamedes,
in the Grecian camp before the wall of Troy, thus claiming a very early
date for their introduction to Europeans; but, while little credence has
been placed on this record, it is more than probable that Tarots were part
of the equipment of the camp if the soldiers wished to have their future
foretold by the messenger of the gods, and gambling sticks, made of ivory
and marked with men's heads, have been found in the tomb of King Qa, at
Abydos, Egypt.

History states that the Crusaders played at "tables" (as draughts or
checkers were then called), and also that King Richard Coeur de Lion was
fond of chess; but the English histories do not mention cards at that
date. German authors infer that cards were introduced into Europe by the
Crusaders, who, finding the Tarots common among their enemies (or
prisoners), the Saracens, learned to play from them, and as the pictures
on the cards were attractive, they used them to send home as missives to
their families, and these authors support their theory by pointing out
that cards are still called "briefe," or letters, in Germany, while we
might say that these pictures were the ancestors of the postal cards of
the present day.

Writers harp on the lack of historical data concerning Playing Cards
before the middle of the fourteenth century, oblivious of the fact that
previous to that time it is probable that Tarots would not have been
classed with games, and that educated people had not learned to use the
pack for amusement, nor had the lower classes grasped the fact that they
could be converted into a means for gambling, so they disregarded the
ancient symbols, which they considered only useful for fortune-tellers, so
cards at that date would not have been classed as gambling tools.

As soon as a game was arranged for the cards, however, they were eagerly
adopted by all classes of society as a welcome diversion. From that time
on, numerous descriptions are to be found in the archives of European
countries, appearing almost simultaneously. Gough (a writer mentioned by
the Rev. Edward Taylor in his "History of Playing Cards," page 187)
expressly states that "the Italian game called La Minchiate, which was
played with the ancient Tarot pack, was invented at Sienna by Michael
Angelo to teach children arithmetic." It would seem that the writer was
slightly confused in his ideas, for the cards invented for teaching
arithmetic were not true Tarots. He may be correct, however, in supposing
that cards were arranged by the painter for educational purposes, and that
they followed closely the number and arrangement of the older pack, for
there are such cards still to be found in collections, although hardly of
so early a date.

There seems no reason to doubt the record that "Francis Fibbia, of Pisa,
invented the game of Tarrochino (or little Tarots), in 1419, receiving as
reward the permission to place his own coat-of-arms on the escutcheon of
the Queen of Staves, and that of his wife on the Queen of Money," as
stated by Leopold Cicognara, for we are told that there is a picture
extant showing this prince with a number of cards scattered before him, on
which are these arms, so it may be that he arranged a game for common use
from the more ancient one of L'Ombre, since the games closely resemble
each other, and the former is popular to-day in parts of Italy, where the
ancient Tarots are still used.

Rafael Maffei, who lived at the close of the fourteenth century, has left
a description of what he calls "a new invention," or a game played with
Tarots. A Bolognese gentleman named Innocento Renghierri, who lived in
1551, declared that "cards were invented in days of yore, and by an
industrious and very learned person." Unfortunately, neither the name of
the inventor nor the date is mentioned, for, if given correctly, it might
have saved much trouble and dispute.


    79-80-81 Swedish Cards for old Cucu game. No. 80 is the Joker.

    82-83 Korean Cards showing numeral and suit marks with feather design
    on reversed card.

    84-85-86 Japanese Educational Cards with quotations from favorite
    poets, for game of Hayku-Niu-Isshu.]

In the "History of Viterbo," by Feliceano (1742), there is a statement
quoted from Covelluzzo that cards called Naib were introduced into that
city in 1279 from a Saracenic source. This name given to the cards in
Italy is interesting, since it is the one used to-day in Spain, for which
various derivations have been given. It was probably derived from the
Hebrew word for prophet, emphasising the original intention of cards for
divination purposes. It seems strange that one of the best known and most
widely spread cults has received so little recognition or study among
those who have interested themselves in the religious progress and
civilization of mankind. Even if regarded as toys or gambling instruments,
Playing Cards certainly fill a great part in the lives of men, while their
origin and the influence they have wielded in the past should surely have
created more interest than has been the case.

A Frenchman, Père Menestrier, studied the history of the cards that were
known to him as early as 1704, when he published "Des Principes des
Sciences et des Arts Disposé en Forme de Jeux." Others followed his
example, but they all looked upon cards simply as gambling instruments, or
regarded them as interesting historical fashion plates picturing French
celebrities, or else as rare engraved plates; so they treated the cards of
their own countries only from this point of view. Of course, most of the
writers knew only the cards of their immediate surroundings, and, if they
ever were cognizant of the ancient Tarots, disregarded them entirely.

When, in 1836, Samuel Weller Singer published his "History of Playing
Cards," he was interested in engraving, with its kindred arts, and he
found that the earliest work on wood or metal had been done to reproduce
cards. This book was followed by the "History of Playing Cards," by
William Andrew Chatto; "Origin of Playing Cards" (1865); "History of
Playing Cards," by Rev. Edward Taylor, and many others. Although two
persons in the priesthood devoted time to studying cards, they did not do
so with reference to their religious influence on their congregations.
Still, they acknowledged with surprise that these unbound leaves offered
an interesting study, and, while each one pointed out the probable
connection of Playing Cards with the Book of Thoth and the cult of
Mercury, not one of them proved the statement, but slurred it over, as if
rather ashamed of the idea, although the fact could easily have been
proved through a careful examination of the marks, the pips, and the
emblems on the cards themselves, that are so undoubtedly the heraldic
devices through which Mercury is always recognised, and which he received
from the most ancient forms of worship in Babylonia.

These authors, with other German, French, and Spanish writers, unanimously
decided that, since there is no legal record or trustworthy mention of
cards intended for use in games before the year 1392 (the one that they
seemed to agree upon, ignoring the account given of the martyrdom of St.
Cyprian in 258, who was killed for remonstrating against playing cards),
and since chance has not disclosed a hitherto unknown monument to their
birth and cradle, that these playthings were suddenly invented just about
the date when they appeared simultaneously all over Europe for the
amusement of pleasure-loving mortals. However, they quarrelled a bit as to
whether cards were first known in the Occident or in the Orient, but none
of the authors studied divination, and the rules known to astrologers,
fortune-tellers or gypsies that are carefully preserved, as well as the
evident connection of Playing Cards with the tools of the diviners of
ancient days.

These authors proved entirely too near-sighted and would not read what the
cards themselves displayed before their semi-opened vision, probably
because they despised the professional prophets. Besides, the French,
Spanish, German, and English writers each claimed for his own country the
first knowledge of Playing Cards used for games, without recognising that
their bantlings all came from a common mother stock, the great Tarot pack.
Thus the arguments, deductions, and theories of these writers can command
respect only to a limited degree.

Merlin and Chatto have treated cards as interesting examples of the
xylographic art, and it is certainly true that they were an important
factor in developing it; but this period in the history of Playing Cards
was by no means its childhood, as the writers seem to consider. Many of
them did not know that almost every one of the European countries had
emblems peculiar to the locality, which is also the case in Asia. None of
the museums have even now any packs except those peculiar to their own

In the Middle Ages games became necessary amusements in camp and home, so
there was a demand for a rapid and inexpensive form of reproduction that
should take the place of the expensively painted replicas of the Book of
Thoth, which before had been within reach only of the wealthy.

Of course, the original emblems had never been entirely lost or forgotten,
but had been concealed in the hands of the initiates, who regarded them
with reverence and transmitted them secretly from one to the other, but
did not use cards for gambling or amusement. These persons did not reveal
the history or import of the Book of Thoth to the triflers of the outside
world, and had no desire to see their treasured secrets cheaply
reproduced, to be carelessly handled by curious or pleasure-loving

The author of "The Game of Gold," published at Augsburg in 1472, says he
has read that "the game of cards was introduced into Germany in 1300."
This is one of the first written accounts of Playing Cards used for games.
It was pointed out by Chatto that there is a Chinese legend claiming
Playing Cards as being used in China some two thousand years before
Christ. Doubtless the Chinese recognized that their games of divination,
as still commonly played, were identical with the cards used for chance,
as the little flat cards are still used for both purposes.

When Columbus made his first voyage across the Atlantic, his men gambled
continually, and, although the superstitious sailors threw the cards
overboard when they feared that they would never reach land, they
manufactured new ones immediately on their arrival in America, and taught
the savages their game, so we know without question that cards reached
America in 1492. They were called Naypes and bore the emblems of Swords,
Money, Cups, and Rods.

After these records of Playing Cards come some that are of later date. In
"Capitolo del Gioco della Primera," by Berni, published in Rome in 1526,
the author claims that "playing cards were invented by King Ferdinand,"
which statement may be regarded with amusement, since other Italian
records prove an earlier date.

There is an interesting invective against cards published in 1550, called
"Il Traditor," which may be translated:

  What is the meaning of the female Pope,
  The Chariot and the Traitor,
  The Wheel, the Fool, the Star, the Sun,
  The Moon, and Strength, and Death,
  And Hell, and all the rest
  Of these strange cards?

Showing that the Egyptian temples had not disclosed their secrets that
identified these pictures on the Tarots common in Italy with the cult of
Thoth, Mercury, and Nebo.

Painters have transmitted to us pictures of many games of cards, and
perhaps one of the earliest is the one ascribed to Van Eyck, of Philip the
Good, Duke of Burgundy, about the year 1493. The early Dutch painters
often depicted boors playing cards, and those by Jan Steen, the two
Teniers, and others are well known. Hogarth devoted a series of
engravings to depicting grotesque figures playing chess, draughts, and

After the fourteenth century, it is easy to learn the important position
that Playing Cards reached in Spain, Italy, Germany, France, and England
through the works of other painters, miniaturists, and engravers, while
books such as "Fortune-Telling," by Francisco di Milano, published in
1560, or the one by Francisco Marcolini, published in Venice in 1540,
prove the hold that the new amusement had taken on the people at that

Proclamations against cards followed each other rapidly from State and
Church, so histories are filled with the denunciations of the clergy of
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries against the old sin that had
reappeared under a new form for them to combat. Mercury was as active as
ever, and had quite as strong a hold on the affections of the people as he
had in the days when St. Paul landed in Italy, close to the Temple of
Mercury, and it was quite as hard to overcome his influence as it had been
when Christianity first began to overthrow the heathen gods. Perhaps the
day may come when those who believe in fate and predestination will
confront these preachers with the divine commands to consult the prophets
so often mentioned in the Bible, notably when the Rods of the Israelites
were marked and laid before the testimony.



It has long been the opinion of students that the key to many things that
are mysterious to Europeans could be found through studying the habits,
customs, games, or cults of Asia and Africa, whose people cling to ancient
ideas and habits, so through looking at things with their eyes, and
listening to their views or opinions on the everyday happenings of life,
that the tangled skeins that puzzle our academically trained minds would
be unravelled.

Much has been done in this direction by Mr. F. H. Cushing and Mr. Stewart
Culin, who have discovered, by patient research in America and the Eastern
part of Asia, the value of the arrow in divination, in music, in
money-making, and in symbolism, as well as in war, for which purpose it
was primarily intended. It was put to minor uses by its simple
adaptability to the needs of the people, who were direct in their
purposes, and who used the tools that were at hand no matter for what
they were originally intended.

Any student of the Bible knows how often the gods were appealed to, not
only through the different offerings, but also for the purposes of
directly divining their wishes, which was done most frequently through a
simple stick that could be cut from any sapling. This became in turn a
"divining arrow," or a magician's wand when in the hands of the Egyptian
magi. "The staff of Moses" as used during the plagues of Egypt, or the rod
"that put forth leaves" when marked with Aaron's name. Small wonder, then,
that the "golden-leaved rod," or _Aurea virga_, given by Apollo to
Mercury, was a venerated symbol, probably derived from the Egyptians, and
by them from the Assyrians, where it was symbolically used in the worship
of the gods, and when it was placed on the cards all persons could
understand at a glance the intention and meaning of the Rod. It was not
only adopted from the Babylonians, who used it with the serpents twining
around it exactly as it is seen in Mercury's hands, but the people had
seen it put to practical use by the great marshal of the Israelites, who
confounded their wise men, or magi, with their own weapons. "And the Lord
spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying: ... Take thy rod and cast it
before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then
Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; now the magicians of
Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments, for they cast
down every man his rod, and they became serpents; but Aaron's rod
swallowed up their rods." (Exodus vii:9.) Then Aaron was commanded to take
"the rod which was turned to a serpent," and to "smite the waters that
were turned into blood"; but the magicians did the same thing, and again
were able to produce the next plague by imitating Aaron's rod when it was
stretched forth. But these wise men failed with their enchantments to
produce lice at their biding, saying: "This is the finger of God." It is
more than likely that these magi were priests of the temple of Thoth, who
were the learned men of that day.

Moses was also commanded "to lift up thy rod," so that the children of
Israel should "go on dry ground through the midst of the sea" (Exodus
xiv:15), and to use the same rod to "smite the rock in Horeb" (Exodus
xvii:6). These examples may be multiplied, but enough has been quoted to
show the importance of this symbol in the minds of primitive people.

Looking next to a people of this century who have retained almost
unchanged their inherited customs, Mr. Culin has dwelt at length on the
people of Korea, who with the culture inherited from their neighbours, the
Chinese, have still a childlike simplicity and follow in the footsteps of
their ancestors in their habits, games, and heraldic devices.

In "Korean Games," Mr. Culin traces the origin of Playing Cards directly
to "practical arrows bearing cosmical or personal marks used by primitive
man." See also Numbers xvii:3. He says: "The pack of cards used to-day
stands for a quiver of arrows with the emblems of the world's quarters,"
and further states that the most primitive Playing Cards of Asia, the
Htou-Tjyen of Korea, still bear the marks of their origin. This confirms
the opinion already formed by the writer, who studied the subject from the
Biblical and African point of view, concluding that the pips on the Tarot
cards had a meaning that could be traced to the diviners of a period much
earlier than the fortune-tellers or gypsies of Europe; that the cards
themselves were not intended for a game, but were originally devoted
entirely to consulting the wishes of the gods; and that it was more than
probable that the cult of Thoth Hermes was a scientific adaptation of the
arrow worship of early man; and that the gift of speech that Mercury was
credited with bestowing on humans was the comprehension of the signs and
the ability through them to transmit to men the wishes of the gods.

The Korean cards are printed on paper, and are, therefore, one step higher
in the scale than those found among the Alaskan Indians. These are simple
round sticks on which are painted stripes of red and black, to denote
their value. In some sets the ends are notched like arrows, which probably
adds to the numerical value of the card. The Indians keep their sticks in
a sealskin pouch wrapped around with a thong of leather, on the end of
which is a shark's tooth that is passed under the wrappings to hold them
in place and secure the contents. A handful of oakum accompanies the bag.
This is needed during the consultation of the wishes of Manitou, for
these sticks are used for divination purposes as well as for play. A heap
of oakum is placed on the ground, under which the sticks are hidden. The
players squat in a circle around and draw from under the pile one stick
after the other, the meaning of which is interpreted by one of the party.

[Illustration: GAMBLING CARDS

    87-88-89 English Court Cards with French pips. About 1840.

    90-91-92 German Cards, showing Six of Acorns, Six of Leaves, and Six
    of Hearts.

    93-94 Chinese Cards showing Money and Rod emblems.]

The Alaskans also have a game somewhat like the Mora of the Egyptians and
the Italians, only it is the value of the sticks or the stripes painted on
them that must be guessed.

One step higher are the sticks used by the Hidah Indians, the natives of a
little group of islands in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of North
America. These sticks show the totem marks of the tribes or families, such
as the Bear, the Tortoise, etc. They are clearly derived from arrows, and
sometimes have notched ends, and are still used for divination, although
also for games. Taken with those from Alaska, they are the most primitive
packs known.

The next step forward is from the wooden shafts or rods to thin slips of
yellow oiled paper, narrow and long, that belong to the Koreans. The use
of these "cards" is still the same, and the close resemblance to the
North American packs is marked, showing that all came from a common
source. These Korean cards serve as a link connecting the primitive arrow
or rod with the step that follows, from which come the Chinese gambling

The Korean cards are made of strips of paper about eight inches long by
three-quarters of an inch wide. They are uniformly decorated on the
reverse side with a feather, which Mr. Culin considers important as
attaching the cards to the original winged shaft. There are eighty cards
in the pack, divided into eight suits of ten cards each, numbered from one
to nine with numerals peculiar to these cards, which, like the device on
the other side, come from arrow feathers. The suit marks correspond to the
totemic emblems of the Koreans.

These cards are a vital bridge between the primitive traps for divination
and the more enlightened devices of the canny Egyptian priests, for it was
through the use of strips of bamboo, simple straws, or the arrows of the
period that the priests first transmitted the wishes of the gods to
mankind. But whether the cult of arrows originated in Egypt and travelled
from that centre both east and west, being modified, simplified, or
elaborated by every nation through which it passed, or whether it started
on the Pacific Ocean, to sweep across Asia to Africa and Europe, has not
been made clear.

It is more than probable that the simple art of divining through the fall
of arrows is due to the primitive tribes of Asia, and certainly in Exodus,
Numbers, and others of the books of Moses, there are many records of the
direct command of the Almighty to his people to carry out his wishes
through using the "rods," or to consult his orders through occult means to
be revealed by the rods. These are authentic records on the subject, and
are supported by the tablets found at Babylonia, so we may suppose that
"the arrows of divination" spread gradually from this Asiatic centre,
becoming altered from time to time, until in many places all traces of the
original purpose was lost, and the art of consulting the wishes of the
gods through them lapsed into the pleasure of gambling.

The Korean name for their pack of cards is Htou-Tjyen, signifying
"Fighting Arrows," according to Mr. Culin in "Korean Games" (page 128).
"The suits," he says, "represent Man, Fish, Crow, Pheasant, Antelope,
Star, Rabbit, and Horse, the name of the card being written on it in
Chinese characters in some packs. Six Generals, or Court cards,
representing the heads or the chiefs of the different families, and two
entirely blank cards, or Jokers, complete the set."

Other packs have different totemic marks, but all agree with each other in
general appearance. It is said that there are a number of games that are
played with these cards, but they are difficult for a foreigner to
understand or learn.

A close connection exists between the Korean pack and the lots used by the
Chinese to divine the lucky numbers in the game called Pak-Kop-Piu, as
these cards retain the feather device, and the names of both are nearly
identical with the word for arrows.

The most common packs of Chinese cards are narrow, like those of the
Koreans, but are less than half the length, sometimes only about two and a
half inches long by a quarter of an inch wide. These packs generally have
plain red or black backs with no designs on them, and are printed with
black ink on white paper. There are at least twenty-five different kinds
of Playing Cards common in China. Some of them are intended simply for
divination, others are for gambling, and some for the amusement or
instruction of children.

Some are very primitive in their markings; others closely resemble
dominos, having similar spots on them denoting their value; while the
cards in common use have distorted emblems that are clearly derived from
the Sword, Stave, and Money pips of the Tarots, although the Cup of Hermes
is not retained. It is noticeable that the Money emblem has a design upon
it, and is not the simple ring of primitive times. This leads to the
suggestion that these particular cards were devised from those of Mercury.
Since there are Court cards and a Joker, it would seem as if the Chinese
had adopted part of a pack of Tarots, omitting the Cup suit, since it had
no meaning for them, but copying the other emblems in their own peculiar
way; but this is only a guess as to the origin of this particular set of
cards, and only those used for divination bear these devices.

The Chinese also have Actors' cards, bearing portraits of the heroes and
heroines of certain favourite plays. These have three Jokers, that in
China bear the name of "Blessings." Then there are flower packs and
educational packs, Proverb cards, and cards to teach writing, so that the
Chinese have in their own original way marched step by step with
Europeans, but on parallel lines that have not met. The Chinese declare
that they have known and used Playing Cards for two thousand years, in
which statement they are probably correct, as certainly the Rod, the
Sword, and Money emblems were known and used by the Babylonians in their
religious rites two thousand five hundred years before Christ.

Owing to cards having been introduced into Japan by Portuguese traders,
the packs are called by the Portuguese name of Karta, as has been
mentioned. But the resemblance to European cards stops there, for the
"shut-in nation" invented designs and games for themselves, keeping them
distinct from divining instruments, of which they have a full share, some
of them being identical with the Chinese rods for divination.

One Japanese game is historical, and the packs are beautifully painted in
miniature, with gold backgrounds and gold backs. The cards are three by
three and a half inches in size. Two sets always come in one box, and the
game is played by matching cards. They far surpass European ones, for they
are most carefully designed and painted. The two sets in the writer's
possession resemble dainty miniatures, and the small figures might almost
be taken for likenesses of living people.

Then there are other sets of cards of the same size as those described,
but differently marked, as they have three suits indicated by the colour
of the emblems, blue, green, and red. There are two emblematic Court
cards, one of them the picture of a house, the other one showing a stream
over which a bridge is thrown. The pack in the writer's collection is
rare, for none like it has been described, and there are none in the
foreign museums.

Another set of cards is called Bakuchi-No-Euda, or gambling cards. Those
in common use are of cardboard about two to two and a quarter inches
square, with black backs and flowers painted or stencilled on them,
representing the weeks of the year. The game played with them is called
"flower matching." January is represented by a Matsu or Pine tree,
followed by the Plum, Cherry, Wistaria, Iris, Peony, and Clover. The
eighth suit has a sketch of a volcano, representing August, which is the
sacred month; during it pilgrimages are made to the mountain. The card
which follows represents a Chrysanthemum; then comes a Maple for October.
November is represented by rain, sometimes with a little man scampering
through the driving storm with a half-opened umbrella over his head, his
shoes flying off in the mud, with the symbol of thunder and lightning
placed in one corner of the card. December has the flower sacred to the
Mikado, the Kiri.

Each card shows the flower representing it in different stages of
development, according to the four weeks in the month. Each has a definite
value, and the game is played by three persons, who match cards to make
different combinations. The Joker is blank, so these cards were never
intended for divining, but were prepared solely for amusement.

Divining arrows, represented by bamboo splints, are used in Japan as well
as in China, and are nearly identical in both countries. Fifty sticks are
kept in a quiver or a tube of cane, resembling the shape of the modern
dicebox. "The splints vary in length," says Mr. Culin, who describes them
in "Korean Games" (page 26), "from two to four inches." One person
consults the oracle, which is interpreted by a "Baru," or fortune-teller,
as described in "Our Neighbourhood," by Mr. Purcell: "Having rattled his
rods together by rolling them between his palms, he raises them to his
forehead." The sticks are then laid out in order on a table, and their
meaning is deciphered through referring to the "Book of Oracular
Responses," or through the "inspiration of the magi, who declares that he
passes one hour daily in a trance, during which he receives instruction as
to the prognostication he must deliver."

There is another Japanese game called Hayku-Niu-Isshu, or the Poems on One
Hundred Arts. For this there are two hundred cards, that are kept in boxes
especially provided for them. On each card is printed or written either
the first or the last half of one of the hundred poems that give their
name to the game, which all well-educated Japanese are supposed to know
by heart. "The one hundred cards having the latter half of the poems
written on them are dealt and are laid out in rows, face upwards, before
the players, one of whom is appointed reader. He holds the remaining
hundred and reads them aloud in whatever order they fall. Skill in the
game consists in remembering the line following the one read and rapidly
finding the card on which it is written. Especially must each one watch
his own and pick it up before it is seized by another. If an opponent is
nimble he snatches the card from the careless player, giving several from
his own hand, and the one who is first able to match and discard all of
his cards wins the game. The players usually range themselves on opposite
lines and play against each other." Such is the account of the game given
by Miss Alice Mabel Bacon in "Japanese Girls and Women" (page 22).

The cards of this set in the author's possession are rather small, being
two by two and a half inches, or a trifle larger than the Flower pack.
They are arranged in small wooden boxes, with a description of the rules
of the game printed on the top; the lid moves up and down in a groove.
The verses are written in fine running characters on a white ground.

In Hindustan we find strange circular cards that have strayed far from the
arrow shape, and seem much more to resemble the European pips. There are
eight suits, indicated by the colour of the background, on which are
depicted Men, Bullocks, Elephants, and Tigers. The Money and Cup suits may
be traced in two of the emblems, the former painted like a double ring,
and it is questionable if these cards were ever intended for divining
purposes, since they seem to be used purely for amusement.

Persian cards are about two inches by one and a half square. The suits are
shown, like those of Cashmere, by the colours of the background. They have
nothing in common with the arrow-shaped Korean, Chinese, or North American
divination cards, but rather incline to the emblematic figures of the
temple of Thoth as retained by the Tarots, for every card displays a
symbolic representative figure. These cards are rare even in Persia, and
only two incomplete sets are in the writer's collection, one of which
contains six, and the other eighteen, cards.

Three of these cards have black backgrounds on which is displayed a white
and yellow animal of a species unidentified. The third card of the set
shows a great dragon with a forked tail twisted around a lion. Three of
the cards have green grounds, on which are seated figures, and one of them
so closely resembles the Emperor, or Osiris, of the Tarots in position and
design that it seems it must have been derived from that figure. Of the
other two, one resembles the Atout called the Empress, and the other is a
seated male figure, in the attitude of some of those in the Tarot pack.
Four cards have black grounds sprinkled with dots of yellow. These four
all show dragons or mythical animals, and are alike in every respect,
which is not always the case with the other designs even when of kindred
suits. As none of the Atouts have animals depicted on them except in a
subordinate way, it would seem that some of the Persian cards are
original, while others may have been copied. Another green suit has only
two cards, although there might be more if the pack were complete. The
ground is _semé_, like the last, with orange-coloured flecks, and displays
a seated figure with an attendant, its peculiarity being that this King
has his legs folded under him in Oriental fashion, while the figures on
all the other cards are seated like the Egyptian gods. Two cards have gold
grounds, and on them are two standing figures, one beating a drum, the
other man holding what may be a magician's rod or, perhaps, a flute. There
are three cards of a dull yellow hue flecked with brown dots. These
closely resemble the Atouts, as one of the seated figures holds up a
circle or the Money mark, like the Queen of Dinari; and against the knees
of the other a child leans, recalling Isis with Osiris. The eighteenth
card is the Joker, and shows a likeness of the late Shah of Persia. It was
brought from that kingdom in 1904. These cards do not seem all to have
belonged to the same pack, for five of them have been much more used than
the others. The Persians are secretive about their games, probably because
the religion of Mahomet, following that of the Jews, forbids any
representation of the human form. Therefore, games bearing such an emblem
must be used in private, and descriptions of them are not readily obtained
by foreigners. The cards themselves offer an interesting problem, since
they retain the emblematic figures without any pip cards, and they stand
alone in this respect in Asia, where the pip or arrow cards are more
generally to be found than the figure cards. But, then, the Persians use
the cup or vase for divining purposes, as a rule, although in some parts
the arrows or rods of divination are common. There are also "sticks" found
among the common people that seem to be used in this way, but the natives
are chary of describing their purpose, so no trustworthy account of them
can be offered.



Many writers have thought that Playing Cards were simply an evolution of
Chess, and the features connecting them have been widely discussed, since
there are strongly marked attributes common to both. But, as far as is
known, Chess has never at any time been used for divination, and there are
no traditions connecting it with prophesying, while from time immemorial
cards have been used for fortune-telling by almost all nations, either
through the complete pack of Tarots, or the Book of Thoth, their
successors, the Playing Cards, or their predecessors, the divining arrows.

On the other hand, Chess is distinctly a mimic battleground, with armies
of warriors drawn in serried ranks, defying each other to mortal combat,
whether there are only two armies, as in the modern games, or four, as on
some of the Asiatic boards. The figures are the rank and file of the
army, with their castles for base and retreat, their cavalry, their
executive officers, and generals, with the monarch to preside over the
field. That in Europe one of the figures is called a Queen is strangely
out of place, for her actions and moves during the game are those of an
active lieutenant or aide-de-camp. The name has been given to the piece in
modern days, for originally and in the East it is called the Vizier. That
the piece may be called after the dame who invented the game, as is said,
seems improbable.

Some writers declare that Chess came from Southern Africa, where it is
well known; but it is also found in primitive form in Korea and throughout
Eastern Asia, and traces of it have been seen in Central Asia, where (in
Babylonia) stones have been discovered that are marked in squares, as if
intended for Draught or Chess boards.

A pretty legend is told of the Emperor Akbar, of India, for whom his
countrymen declared that the game was invented by one of his wives, who
wanted to amuse her husband, after the manner of wives, and to keep him at
home, particularly as the king was suffering from a sunstroke that made
it inadvisable for him to venture to head his army. With this end in view,
she ranged the courtiers on the black and white squares in the courtyard
within the precincts of the palace, in order that the king might amuse
himself fighting his battles in a harmless way from his divan, that was
placed in one of the balconies overhanging the enclosed space. A graphic
description of the palace is given in "Our Vice Regal Life in India," by
Lady Dufferin (page 150). Referring to the legend, she says: "There is a
curious place which is a five-storied open court, each platform getting
smaller, till the top one is a mere little summer house. Each one is
supported on rows and rows of pillars, from them one looks down into a
court, where the Great Mogul used to sit and play Chess with live pieces."

In "India, China, and Japan," by Bayard Taylor (page 108), the author
says: "This palace of Sheesh Mahal (or Palace of Glass), with its
courtyard paved with squares of black and white marble, has an open
terrace in front, where is the throne of Akbar, which is a block of black
marble about six feet square. It is said that when any one seats
themselves on it, blood gushes from a split in the side, and red stains
on the surface support this tradition. Opposite the throne is a smaller
one of white marble, where the emperor's fool sat and burlesqued his
master." This fellow carried a staff of office and conducted the pieces to
their positions as indicated by Akbar and his opponent.

The game of chess, with living pieces, became a favourite with the Rajahs
of India, so many of the courts of different palaces were also arranged
for Chess or Parchesi, a game played with pieces, but with less
complicated rules than for Chess. Though the court jester was the master
of ceremonies, he has not taken his place permanently among the chessmen,
although he may be sometimes found among them, notably in a beautiful gold
and silver set of men made for one of the kings of Bavaria and now in the
Museum at Munich. In this set there are two Jokers, who are placed in
front of all the others in the middle of the board as at present arranged,
but their value and moves seem not to have been recorded and are now
practically unknown.

It was at one time supposed that the figures of the chessmen were
transferred to pasteboard cards, thus making a masked army instead of one
that was on an open field, and that Playing Cards originated in this way;
but this theory is no longer tenable. Mr. Wiltshire, in "Playing Cards,"
derides the idea that they are derived from Chess, saying: "Chess is a
game of calculation and combination, and cards are purely chance," which
opinion is sustained, for up to this time the history of the two games
points to no common derivation.

It is claimed that Chess was first played before the walls of Troy, having
been invented by Palamedes to amuse the Greeks, who were tired of the
monotony of the siege. This is probably one of the first records of games,
although it is not certain that the one referred to was Chess any more
than that it was a game of cards, which some writers have supposed.

In "The Sea Kings of Crete," by Rev. James Baikie, is an account and an
illustration of a gaming board just discovered in the palace of Minos,
which certainly dates from one thousand four hundred years before Christ,
but it resembles a Draught board more than one for Chess.

There is an Egyptian caricature of a lion and a unicorn playing a game on
a table with men, which, however, are too indistinct to describe as
chessmen. There is a set of chessmen in the British Museum, the date of
which is uncertain, that are by some considered to have been of such early
origin that they prove that the Egyptians had the game, although
deductions of this kind are sometimes overthrown by subsequent

That chessmen of the conventional type are by no means absolutely
necessary for a game is shown by the Korean Tjyang-Keui, whose figures
closely resemble the pieces used by the Chinese. The men of the set in the
writer's collection are of wood about the thickness of an ordinary checker
or draughtsman, but they are octagonal in shape, and the size of the
pieces varies, since it is indicative of the value. Sometimes the pieces
are circular in shape, and have their value painted in incised characters
on both sides in red, blue, or green, according to the side they
represent. The King or General is much the largest piece and about an inch
and a half in diameter. The Chariot, Elephant, Horse, and Cannon are of
medium size, while the Pawns and Councillors are the smallest. The pieces
in the writer's collection were kept by the original owner in a netted
string bag. The board differs from those of Europe, as the men are placed
at the intersections of the squares, and not in their centres, as is
customary in other places. The game, as played in Korea, is logical, and
was the inspiration of various games played in Germany, where marbles are
placed in stated positions on boards made for the purpose, with rounded
holes, and marked off with diagrams. In some games the board represents a
fort to be defended; in others, a series of positions to be captured by
one or other of two armies of equal value.

A very interesting set of chessmen in the British Museum was found at Nig,
in the Isle of Lewis, and is described as "North European, Twelfth
Century." The backs are carved with intricate interlacing designs like
those on the reverse of the old Tarots. The Queens rest their cheeks on
their right hands. The Kings have swords laid across their laps. The
Bishops are mitred, and all are seated.

An anonymous writer declares: "The most probable conjecture is that Chess
descended from the Brahmins, through Persia, to Arabia, about the sixth
century, and passed into Europe two or three hundred years later."
Continuing, the writer says: "A mathematician named Seffa originated the
game for his master, Ravan, King of Ceylon, who was so pleased with the
device that he asked the inventor to name his own reward. The cunning sage
demanded enough wheat to cover the board, starting with a single grain for
the first square, two for the second, and so on, doubling the grains until
the sixty-four squares were covered, finally adding the whole amount
together, so when computed, it was found that more wheat would be required
than the world produced in ten years."

The Persians claim that Chess was invented in their country, pointing out
the retention of some of their names and expressions in the English game,
such as "Check," from the Persian Sciack or King, and "Mat," signifying
"dead," hence "Checkmate," or "The King is dead." These words may well
have their derivation from the Persian or Arabic, but they are not
universally employed, although Chess is of ancient origin and has been
played for centuries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. The term Rook, that is
sometimes used instead of Castle, is undoubtedly of Indian origin,
derived from Rokh, and signifying dromedary. In China this piece is called
Ku, and in Korea Tcha, words in no way connected with the Arabic.

There are many historical descriptions of Chess in Europe too well known
to be repeated; besides which, there are numerous copper, steel, and wood
engravings showing persons playing Chess.

In "A History of the Moorish Kings" (1396), there is an account of a game
played when Jussef, the heir to the throne, was ordered to be beheaded by
his usurping brother. An alcade was sent to the prison for the purpose of
carrying out the command, but, finding Jussef playing Chess, and becoming
interested in his skill, he waited until the game terminated to dispatch
the prince. However, before it was finished, the usurper, Mehemed, was
murdered, so Jussef succeeded to the throne and rewarded the kindly
executioner with money and honours.

One of the earliest descriptions of Chess in the English language was
written by Thomas Hyde in 1694, at about the time that Cotton's "Complete
Gamester," on the subject of gambling and its tools, appeared. There is a
rare book, entitled "The Game and Playes of the Chess," that, strange to
say, contains little or nothing concerning the game beyond its title.

"It is remarkable," says Sir Gardiner Wilkinson, in "Ancient Egyptians"
(Vol. II, page 415), "that a game so common as Mora among the lower order
of Italians should be found to have existed in Egypt from the earliest
period of which their paintings remain, even in the reign of the First
Osirtasen." The game, which requires no accessories, is skillfully played
by holding up certain fingers to an opponent, who tries to guess the
number; it was probably carried to the Southern ports of Italy by the
Egyptians, when the yearly voyage was made to the Bay of Naples, at the
time that the great Temple of the Serapeon was erected at Pozzuoli and the
cult of Thoth Hermes introduced.

Draughts were also found in early days at or about the same place, and
that game is represented as being played on the sculptures of Beni Hassan
in grottoes on the east bank of the Nile. The same authority says: "This
would be coeval with Joseph, or 1740 B. C."

An anonymous writer in an English paper states that one of the frescoes of
the palace of Rameses II shows the mighty Pharaoh himself playing against
some of the beauties of his harem.

Many writers consider that the Roman Latronculi and the Greek
Digrammisnios were games of Chess or Draughts. A Spaniard, named Antonio
Torquemada, published rules for the latter as early as 1547, and a
Frenchman, named Pierre Malet, described the Parisian game in 1668. The
latter called for a board of sixty-four squares, the men moving but one
block at a time, and the crowned pieces having the right to move
backwards. The game was not popular in France until the days of the
Regency, when the Polish game, that is played on a board with one hundred
squares, each player having twenty pieces, became the vogue.

This variation of the old game of Draughts was introduced by a man named
Manoury, who started life as a waiter in one of the cafés. He gave lessons
to Marshal Saxe and Jean Jacques Rousseau, besides writing out the rules
governing the game for the use of his pupils.

In France and England players use the black squares on the Checker board,
but in Holland and Russia the white ones are those that are favoured, and
it is strange how puzzling this slight change is to unaccustomed players.

Draughtsmen or checkers are made of many different materials, such as
clay, bone, wood, and ivory. Some old ones in the British Museum are of
ivory, two inches in diameter, and were found in Leicestershire. On one of
them is a figure like Il Pendu, or the Hanged Man, of the Atouts. In the
writer's collection there are some draughtsmen of unpainted wood most
beautifully carved. One of them displays a winged figure with a cap of
Mercury hanging over his head, on top of which is perched a die, a Four
Spot on one side of it, while the other displays an Ace. The cap is
suspended in the air over a table covered with a fringed cloth, on which
rests a rose and a laurel wreath. A motto surrounding the checker reads:
_Fert Praemia Favsta_. On the reverse is a hand emptying a purse on a
Backgammon board, the legend being _Freqvens Tibidissipat Avrum_. Another
checker, a mate to the above, shows a table on which is a Backgammon board
and two players busy over the game. The man is seated, while the woman is
standing with arms upraised, and having evidently just lost a game, is
upbraiding her companion. The motto is _Ars Sortem Corrigat Astx_. The
reverse shows a draped Cupid opening a money chest, the motto being _Sat
Loevlo Havt Ocvio_. A black man of this set shows a warrior talking to a
harpist, the motto being _Juam Rari Amici Chari_. The reverse shows a
figure of Mercury, as Luck, with a philosopher and a courtier trying to
hold the flying figure with ropes that have been thrown around the waist
of the flitting god. The motto is _Ah Fortuna Bona Me Condona_. These
checkers are part of a set that was once in Lady Charlotte Schriber's
collection of games. They are probably of German manufacture, as they
closely resemble sets of draughtsmen that are in the Nuremburg and Munich

In Korea the game of Draughts is a favourite one. The pieces are not flat
and round, like those of Europe, but the "horses," as they are named in
Korea, have shanks about two inches long, with round, solid bases, making
them easy to pick up and move, but they would be awkward if the game
called for "jumping," as does that of European players. With this
exception, the rules for playing resemble those common in Europe.

The Japanese, the Siamese, and the Chinese all play the game with the
assistance of dice, and the men as well as the boards show an origin
common with those already mentioned. They are games of luck or chance, but
are not used for fortune-telling, and have nothing in common with cards,
arrow divination, or prophesying, unless students can hereafter trace them
to the Urim and Thummim of the Bible.

Games with dice are favourites in all Asiatic countries, but the men
themselves and the games played with them are far more elaborate and
scientific than those of Europe, and capable of a great variety of
combinations quite unknown to English-speaking nations. The mathematical
calculations necessary for the Asiatic games are intricate and
complicated, but well worthy of adoption.

About 1815 the Germans issued a pack of cards that had dice on them
instead of the commonplace pips. The set in the writer's collection is
incomplete and incomprehensible without the rules, that have been lost.
The cards have the dice on the lower half, while the upper part displays
different designs, such as a diligence, a ship, a bookcase, and an easy
chair. The two designs last mentioned have "doctor" printed under them.


    95-96 Spanish Cards showing Four of Cups (with name Naypes, meaning
    prophetical) and Knave of Money (with the gazelle of Osiris).

    97 English Educational Cards--historical. One of the Jubilee pack
    containing Queen Victoria and all her descendants.

    98 Netherlands Domino Card for teaching music.

    99 United States Domino Card.

    100 United States Numbered Card for game of Grabouche or Flinch.

    101 United States Educational Card for game of Authors.

    102 English Educational Card for teaching arithmetic.]

Games of dice are probably the oldest known, and are found in all Asiatic
countries. The evolution from them to dominos is easily traced, for the
latter is evidently a pair of dice placed together. The pieces in a Korean
set of dominos in the writer's collection are of the size that a pair of
European dice would make if glued side by side. Besides the games of
chance, dice are used for divining purposes all over the world, but
particularly in Africa and Asia.

Jackstones, or Knuckle-bones, is another old game. There is in the British
Museum a most interesting marble group of boys playing Jackstones. A
lively dispute, if not an active fight, over the result of the game is in
progress, and the little men are scattered over the ground while the boys

Jackstones may be of many different materials, although those most
commonly used are the simple round pebbles found by any roadside. A set
in the writer's collection is of bone, which was common in New York about
1850. Others are of glass and are said to be Phoenician. Ivory and sheeps'
knuckles are favourites with children, who in modern times have added a
small rubber ball for a Jack.

The game seems to be universal, for children on the Nile, in Hungary,
Austria, France, England, and the United States all seem to play the same
primitive game that is common in Asia. In "Korean Games" (page 58), Mr.
Culin calls it Kong-Keui, and says it is played by boys with five or six
stones or pieces of bricks. When girls play, they use cash or coins, and
then the game is called Tja-Ssei. When played with stones, it is called
Ishi-Nago, or throwing stones, and ten of these are used. The Chinese call
the game Chaptsz, or picking up stones.

No rules for the Western game seem ever to have been written, but they are
transmitted from one generation to another with almost no difference,
whatever the country may be, although it is noticeable that the innovation
of the rubber ball for a Jack seems to have been introduced by the Polish
or Russian Jew children to the New Yorkers, as it is chiefly played by
these little immigrants. The game has nothing to do with divination, and
is one merely of skill, as it is a simple amusement of the most primitive
kind, for, given a handful of stones, any one can learn the game, and,
with a moderate amount of practice, can play it with more or less skill.

There are five pieces to a set; four are of equal value, and the fifth is
called the Jack. Any one of the five may be used for the Jack, which is
simply the stone that is tossed into the air while the others are gathered
in the hand.

The sets (or their order) are agreed upon beforehand by the players. Any
number can take part, for each one plays for himself, and the winner is
the one who independently executes all the difficult sets without failing.
Any place is convenient for the game, and the stones are generally thrown
on the lap, the ground, a pillow, a doorstep, or even the pavement.

"Muggins" is the name of the first set, which consists in gathering all
five stones in the palm of the right hand and throwing them into the air
together, then catching all five on the back of the hand. Without
stopping, the stones must be thrown again in the air and all five caught
together in the hand. This makes all the stones of equal value and all of
them Jacks (the technical name for the stone thrown in the air while
different movements are being done). The Muggins set requires considerable
dexterity, and a player dropping any one of the stones loses his turn,
which passes to the player on the left. The next set is not started until
all the players have successfully accomplished their turn of Muggins,
which must be done five times in succession without failing.

"Milking the Cow" is the name of the second set. The stones are gathered
in the hand and the Jack is thrown into the air, and while it is "up," one
stone is quietly and gently placed upon the table from the palm, but must
not be thrown or dropped, and the Jack caught as it comes down. This is
repeated until all the stones are discarded one after the other, the art
being to do this without letting more than one escape at a time. If this
is not done, the turn passes to the next player on the left; but, if
successfully accomplished, the stones are swept into a heap and caught up
in the hand while the Jack is in the air. All the players must do this in
succession or lose their turn. Those who have not completed the first
Muggins take their turn here, and must do it five times without fault
before beginning to milk.

"Grab" is the name of the third set, and it is difficult. It is called
"Laying Eggs" in Korea. It is done by laying four stones about two inches
apart in a row, tossing the Jack and picking them up one by one. The first
stone is kept in the hollow of the palm of the right hand while the Jack
is tossed and the second stone is picked up. This is retained, and the
third stone is picked up in the same way, and so on until all are caught
in the right hand. Then all are placed in a heap and are gathered while
the Jack is tossed. The left hand is not used at all in these two sets.

"Peas in the Pot" is the first set of the second part of the game. The
left hand is partly closed and four stones are placed about an inch apart
in a row, the first one touching the thumb. Players, to show their skill,
will often make the spaces wider, but they must not throw the Jack any
higher than is usual, which is about a foot and a half. The play consists
in throwing the Jack, and, while it is in the air, one stone after
another is picked up and put in the pot (which is the left hand). Some
players push the stones into the pot. To do so, the thumb and forefinger
of the left hand are opened to allow the stones to pass in, but this is
considered unworkmanlike by good players. The stones, after being placed
in the pot and the left hand removed, are gathered with one swoop as the
Jack is tossed.

"Horses in the Stable" is played with the fingers of the left hand
outstretched to form stalls. The stones are placed about four inches away
on the table, and must be pushed into the stalls one by one while the Jack
is aloft. Then all are gathered up at once in the right hand while the
Jack is tossed. In Hindustan the native girls have their photographs taken
when playing this set of Jackstones.

"Horses out of the Stable" follows. The stones are pushed out with one
motion, one beside the other, and then caught up with one sweep as the
Jack is tossed. The art consists in getting the stones close together when
they leave the stalls, so that they can be grabbed with one sweep while
the Jack is up.

"Sweeping the Floor" comes next. The stones are placed four inches apart
in a square, and the third finger of the right hand must sweep inside two
of the stones without touching them while the Jack is aloft. They must
then be gathered and caught with one sweep of the hand.

"Spreading the Table" is done by arranging the square with four stones, as
in the preceding set, after which they are pushed together with one sweep
and caught in the right hand while the Jack is up.

"Laying Eggs," called Al-Nat-Ki in Korea, is the next set. American
children play it exactly in the same way as do the Asiatics. Four stones
are placed on the table, the Jack is tossed, one stone is picked up and
laid down while the Jack is in the air. Then another stone is picked up as
the Jack is tossed and laid down as before, until all are used. In "Korean
Games," Mr. Culin describes this play, but no reference is made to the
preceding sets, although they are played in Europe.

"Setting the Eggs," or Al-Houm-Ki, calls for four of the stones being
placed beside the left hand and pushed under it, as is done in "Peas in
the Pot."

"Hatching the Eggs," or Al-Kka-Ki, consists in holding all the stones in
the right hand, with one tucked under the little finger. This is then
dropped gently on the table while the Jack is tossed, the other stones
being held in the hand, and this is repeated until all are down.

A good player may work right through the whole number of sets before the
opponents have a chance to play at all. Children often arrange handicaps
among themselves to prevent this. One peculiarity of the game seems to be
that it is a point of honour among the children to take no unfair
advantage of each other, but to try to assist and make the others win if
possible, and it is one of the few games played by children that seldom
lead to quarrelling. There are variations of the sets, but the above is
the standard game.

Quite different from the last, which is simply one of skill, is the game
known as Jackstraws, which is a primitive game, but it is played all over
the world, and is evidently derived from the "arrows of divination." A set
of Chinese Jackstraws in the writer's collection was made about the middle
of the last century, probably for exportation, for some of the straws are
European in character. They are of ivory, which is most delicately
carved, and are not coloured, as are some of the sets of Chinese
Jackstraws that are carved out of bone. They were imported by a naval
officer who was on the expedition under Commodore Perry which opened the
treaty ports of Japan to American trade.

In this set there are two hooks, for separating the pieces one after
another without shaking any of the bunch. The long, slender "straws" are
four inches in length. There are eight that are carved to represent
Javelins, and eight carved like Spears. They count, respectively, one and
two marks if taken from the rest of the pile without shaking. Then there
are twenty Straws, counting ten apiece, that are delicately carved, each
one entirely different from any of the others. There is a Spade, a hooked
Spear, an Arrow, an Axe, a Flag, a Standard, a Halberd, a war Hammer, a
Javelin, a Sabre, a Lance, a Sword, a Trident, and a Pitchfork. These all
seem to be intended to represent weapons familiar in the antiquated
warfare of China. The five European implements are a long-handled Shovel,
a pair of Tongs, a Bodkin, a Pen, and a Musket. The skillful player who
captures the Tongs counts twenty, since it is twice as difficult to
disentangle as any of the other Straws, that are valued at ten marks



Without in the least crediting that cards that are derived from ancient
mysteries are able to reveal the incidents connected with human life, many
people consider the trial an interesting amusement.

What were the methods used by the ancients for divining the wishes of the
gods? Truly this opens a vast field of inquiry that ranges through every
device and symbol ever invented by man.

Within a few years various plans have been suggested for reading the fate
through the hand, as is done by the Gypsies, or by the cards, as practised
by the priests of Mercury; but these are only a few hundred years old, and
probably have but little relation to the actual rites that have left no
authentic record and now can only be guessed.

Consultation of the cards serves to amuse the idle, the curious, and the
credulous, so a brief recapitulation of the two methods most in vogue may
interest readers, who can try for themselves to read what the divining
tools say through the interpretations used by two of the most celebrated
fortune-tellers of the past century, namely: Etteila and Mlle. le Normand.
The latter used modern French cards, while the former required a complete
Tarot pack that is not easy for most people to obtain.

Cardmakers have not been unready to invent for their customers various
fantastic packs with weird symbols, and to bestow on these modern
creations various significances that have no relation whatever to the old
Tarots; therefore they are valueless in the eyes of those who believe in
the ancient mysteries, which have been implicitly credited for ages, and
have a significance that is not difficult to understand, although the
different shades of meaning attributed to them by the Initiates have been

The fortune-telling packs issued by the card makers of the day generally
bear French pips, since these symbols are the ones familiar to
manufacturers in France, England, and America. They have, in addition,
badly drawn, inartistic pictures that are foolish and meaningless, since
they are neither heraldic nor symbolic, and they are only intended for
amateurs, since the true fortune-teller or Gypsy of to-day prefers the
cards with the ancient pips of Money, Swords, Rods, and Cups, together
with the Atouts.

A pack published in Frankfort-on-Main has the French, not the German,
pips, as would seem natural, and the cards are named "Le Normand Karten."
They are great favourites in Europe, where they are used for foretelling
the future and describing the past or present by credulous persons who
follow the rules laid down in the accompanying book or key, believing that
the cards were originally arranged and interpreted by the celebrated
French _cartomancie_, Mlle. le Normand herself, who had wonderful luck in
her business and has had many successors.

This pack is one and a half by three inches in width, which is smaller
than ordinary Playing Cards, and more convenient for laying out on a
table. The pack contains only thirty-six cards, with three court cards to
each suit, namely: King Queen, and Knave. The six pip cards are Ace, Six,
Seven, Eight, Nine, and Ten. Each one has a meaningless picture on it,
such as a coffin, birds, flowers, or keys, and male or female figures
dressed in the fashion of 1850. In the upper centre of each card is a
small space, on which are the court figures or the pip symbols that are
represented on an ordinary pack of French cards.

The directions for consulting the cards are printed in German and French
in a small book accompanying them, so, since any pack with French pips
would serve for the same amusement, the rules and interpretations may well
be here given, as many persons enjoy consulting the cards to discover
through them, if they may, the past, present, and future.

Shuffle and cut the cards, and then hand them to the Inquirer to cut three
times. Deal one at a time, placing them face upward on the table in rows
from left to right. The first four rows each should have eight cards, and
the fifth row only four cards, which should be placed in the middle under
the others. These signify the end of life, and the row is, consequently,
shorter than the others. The cards for this row must be put so that there
are two outside of them on either side, both left and right on the row
above them, which makes the two outside lines count only four cards from
top to bottom, while the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth lines have five
cards under them.

If the inquirer is a female, she is represented by the Ace of Spades, and
if a male, he is betokened by the Ace of Hearts. These cards also
represent husband and wife, or two lovers, and great attention must be
paid to the place where they fall in dealing, for all the other cards are
dominated and controlled by one of these two, taking their significance
from them. The portent of the other cards is great or less in degree
according to their position, whether it be near or far, above or below,
these two representative cards. Those touching them are supposed to show
the events that are happening at the present moment, those far from them
are in the past, or the future, depending whether they are above or below
the two important ones.

The meaning of the thirty-six remaining cards is explained as follows:

    KING OF SPADES.--Great happiness. A journey. A voyage on business. A
    happy life.

    QUEEN.--Happiness throughout life in every way.

    KNAVE.--A birth. A child. A sweet disposition. Affability.

    TEN.--Inherited wealth. Business. Fortune. Journey on account of
    business. Travel.

    NINE.--Successful voyages. Commercial enterprises. Faithfulness.
    Illusions. Flirtations.

    EIGHT.--Social position. Constant love. Unimportant position. Bad

    SEVEN.--Good news. A letter from a distance. Bad news. An invitation.

    SIX.--Long life. Sad life. Sickness. Death.

           *       *       *       *       *

    KING OF CLUBS.--Trouble. Happiness. Disaster to friends. Good news of

    QUEEN.--Misfortune. Bad friends. Slander. Loss.

    KNAVE.--Discord in family. Unhappiness between lovers. Illness.
    Protracted sufferings.

    TEN.--Happiness. Indifference. Trouble from outsiders. Slander.

    NINE.--Annoyances. Troubles from friends. Quarrels. Lawsuit.

    EIGHT.--Friendship. Faithful lover. Powerful enemy. Enemy overcome.

    SEVEN.--Loss. Thief. Loss recovered. Loss irreparable.

    SIX.--Disagreeable news. Slight trouble. Bad news. Trouble for

    ACE.--Engagement. Happy marriage and riches. Broken engagement.
    Separation of lovers.

           *       *       *       *       *

    KING OF DIAMONDS.--Fortune from the sea. Enterprises successful.
    Misfortune. Loss.

    QUEEN.--Unhappiness averted. Danger escaped. Sorrow. Trouble.

    KNAVE.--Chagrin. Misfortune averted. Danger. Unhappiness averted.

    TEN.--News. Secret intelligence. Gossip. Scandal.

    NINE.--Illness. Sorrow. Accidents. Danger.

    EIGHT.--Invitations. A love affair. Pleasure for the beloved. A love
    affair in the family.

    SEVEN.--Happy journey. Arrival of friends. A short trip. A journey.

    SIX.--Pleasure. Good news. Annoyances overcome Good fortune.

    ACE.--Prosperity. Good luck. Discouragement. Misfortune.

           *       *       *       *       *

    KING OF HEARTS.--Reunion. Prosperity. Fidelity. Endurance.

    QUEEN.--An excursion. A journey. A prevented visit. Delayed journey.

    KNAVE.--Love. Happiness. Pleasure. Concord.

    TEN.--Fidelity. Lovers. Friendships. Treachery.

    NINE.--Good news. Tidings. Letters. Visits.

    EIGHT.--Honours. Approbation. Jealousy. Misery.

    SEVEN.--Pain. Slight illness. Recovery from illness. Health.

    SIX.--Good fortune. Happiness. Reverses. Troubles.

With this key to the interpretation of the cards, as arranged according to
Mlle. le Normand's theory, they may be read as follows, counting on the
cards as they fall near or far from the Ace of Hearts. If they are above
or close to and on the right, they mean the first description; if on the
left, they signify the second one. If below on the right, the third
description is the one to be taken, and if below on the left, the fourth.

Suppose a young man is the inquirer, and the cards be dealt as follows:

    FIRST ROW.--Six of Diamonds, Nine of Clubs, Seven of Hearts, Seven of
    Diamonds, Ten of Spades, Queen of Clubs, Ace of Hearts, Ten of Clubs.

    SECOND ROW.--Six of Spades, Seven of Spades, Eight of Clubs, Six of
    Clubs, Nine of Spades, King of Clubs, Ace of Clubs, Seven of Clubs.

    THIRD ROW.--King of Hearts, Knave of Hearts, King of Diamonds, Queen
    of Spades, Knave of Spades, Queen of Diamonds, Six of Hearts, Ten of

    FOURTH ROW.--Queen of Hearts, King of Spades, Ace of Spades, Eight of
    Diamonds, King of Clubs, Eight of Hearts, King of Diamonds, Nine of

    FIFTH ROW.--Ten of Hearts, Nine of Diamonds, Eight of Spades, Ace of

This could be explained through the key as being a young man who from
birth had been surrounded by envious, jealous, and quarrelsome persons,
who formed his character, leading to the greatest unhappiness in the
family life. The marriage of his parents having been unfortunate, it
reacted on the boy's welfare. A trusted friend or guardian stole the
fortune that had been left in trust. But, endowed with good health, these
troubles were disregarded in youth. His character being unbridled,
capricious, frivolous, inconstant, peevish, and given to imagining
grievances, although affectionate to his friends, his disposition made him
uncongenial to most persons.

Secret enemies, who had been trusted as friends, embittered his life in a
way that nothing could overcome. A long journey undertaken for the sake of
forgetfulness was filled with annoyances and mishaps. Some brightness
entered into it through the companionship of a charming woman, which might
have resulted in a happy marriage had not the jealous spirit that
controlled the young man's career prevented. An early death is

Let us now consider the other method of fortune-telling, which was
followed by Etteila, a celebrated French fortune-teller, who lived in
Paris about one hundred years since, who wielded a vast influence over his
compatriots, who firmly believed, as, indeed, he did himself, that he had
discovered the key to the Book of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus through an old
pack of Tarots that fell by chance into his hands.

It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte had great faith in the deductions and
revelations of this _ci-devant_ hairdresser's apprentice, to whom
Josephine presented him. The empress was an ignorant and credulous woman,
owing to her education in the West Indian island of her birth, the society
of which was corrupted by Negro superstitions of a most complicated and
far-reaching character.

Etteila published a book called "Collection sur les Hautes Sciences"
(1780). It included an essay on "The Sublime Book of Thoth" that is now
very rare, but he saw what few others had seen, that Playing Cards were of
Egyptian origin, although he failed entirely to trace their progress
through the temples of Nebo and Thoth to the Mercury of the Romans, so, of
course, never connected the pips with the emblems of Mercury or
discovered that they originated from the divine commands given to the
Israelites, as well as to the desire of primitive people to consult the
Tablets of Fate that were inscribed by Nebo, the great god of Babylonia.
Many of the statements and beliefs of Etteila would have doubtless been
received with greater credence if these tokens had been pointed out. But
Etteila declared that he had discovered the different subtle meanings
connected with the Tarots, and that he had elucidated many of the points
that had previously been obscure. He certainly obtained astonishing
results when consulting the Tarots, or a set of cards that were probably
invented by himself, and which are now rare. They were adorned with
figures of men and women dressed in the fashion of his day, with numbers
on them, but with no pip marks. They were printed on a yellow-tinted
paper, and when issued were accompanied by a small book of rules for their
use in divining.

Papus, in his "Tarots of the Bohemians," having digested various works on
the Gypsies, kabalism, and occultism, worked out many rules for divining
with the Tarots. He places great reliance on magnetic currents, the
position of the stars, and the signs of the zodiac, suggesting astrology,
but he finds these symbols in the Tarots. He also gives value to the
letters of the Hebrew alphabet in connection with the Atouts, but, after
all, he declares that intuition plays a most important part when reading
the Tarots.

As has been pointed out, the Book of Thoth, or the Tarot pack, is divided
into two volumes, twenty-two leaves of which are called Atouts and bear
symbolic figures more or less correctly described by the names written on
them. The fifty-six leaves of the second volume are divided into four
suits, namely: Cups, Swords, Rods, and Money, with four court cards to
each suit: King, Queen, Knave, and Cavalier, followed by nine numbered
cards headed by the Ace.

Papus (page 308) defines the meaning of the suits as follows:

    RODS.--Enterprise, glory.

    CUPS.--Love, happiness.

    SWORDS.--Hatred, misfortune.

    MONEY.--Money, commerce, mercantile interests.

These four sets of principles must be remembered. The four court cards
represent people in general or particular who come in contact with each
other during the events of life. The Kings represent men, the Queens
women, the Cavaliers youths, and the Knaves children.

The court cards of the Rod and Sword suits represent dark people, while
those of the Cup and Money suits represent light or fair people. The
latter are benign, the former indifferent or malignant.

The key to the pip cards as given by Papus is as follows:


    Creation. Enterprise. Agriculture. Fire.

    KING.--A dark man. A friend. Generally married. The father of a

    QUEEN.--Dark woman. A friend. A serious person. A very good
    counsellor. The mother of a family.

    CAVALIER.--A dark young man. A friend.

    KNAVE.--A dark child. A friend. Also represents a message or letter
    from a near relation.

    ACE.--Commencement of an enterprise.

    TWO.--Opposition to the beginning of an enterprise.

    THREE.--Realization of the commencement of an enterprise. The basis of
    the work is now definitely established, and the undertaking can be
    fearlessly continued.

    FOUR.--Obstacles to be prepared for.

    FIVE.--Obstacles surmounted.


    SEVEN.--Certain success.

    EIGHT.--Partial success.

    NINE.--Great success.



    Preservation. Love. Instruction. Earth.

    KING.--A fair man. A friend. A barrister, judge, or ecclesiastic. A

    QUEEN.--A fair woman. The loved one. The mistress of a house.

    CAVALIER.--Young, fair man. A friend. The lover or the loved one.

    KNAVE.--Fair child. A messenger. A birth.

    ACE.--Commencement of a love affair.

    TWO.--Opposition. Unimportant obstacles raised by one of the lovers.

    THREE.--Mutual love.

    FOUR.--Serious obstacles from others.

    FIVE.--Obstacles overcome.

    SIX.--Obstacles insuperable. Widowhood. Separation.

    SEVEN.--Success and happiness.

    EIGHT.--Jealousy and trouble.




    Transformation. War. Hatred. Lawsuits. Air.

    KING.--Dark bad man. A soldier, an enemy, or one to be mistrusted.

    QUEEN.--A dark wicked woman. A gossip. A calumniator. Jealous.

    CAVALIER.--Young dark man. An enemy. A spy.

    KNAVE.--A child. An enemy. Bad news. Delay.

    ACE.--Commencement of enmity.

    TWO.--Enmity does not last.


    FOUR.--Enemy defeated.

    FIVE.--Enemy triumphs at last moment.

    SIX.--Enemy powerless.

    SEVEN.--Enemy successful.

    EIGHT.--Enemy only partially successful.

    NINE.--Duration of hatred.

    TEN.--Uncertainty in the hatred.

    The court cards generally indicate an opposition raised outside of the


    Development. Money. Trade. Commerce. Journeys. Water.

    KING.--Fair man. Inimical or indifferent.

    QUEEN.--A fair woman. Indifferent.

    CAVALIER.--A young, fair man. A stranger. An arrival.

    KNAVE.--A fair child. A messenger. A letter.

    ACE.--Commencement of good fortune. Inheritance. Gifts. Economy.

    TWO.--Difficulty in getting inheritance or good fortune.

    THREE.--A small sum of money.

    FOUR.--Loss of money.

    FIVE.--Success coming that will balance loss.


    SEVEN.--A large fortune.

    EIGHT.--Partial success. Great loss of money at last moment.

    NINE.--A durable fortune.

    TEN.--Great successes and great reverses.

The pips of the Rod and Cup suits indicate that which comes from within or
at home. The pips of the Money and Sword suits indicate that which comes
from outside or abroad.

In order to practise card-reading with success, the Book of Thoth must be
mastered in every detail, and every significance of each of the
seventy-eight leaves must be committed to memory. After this the laying
out of the cards and the reading of their meaning would become mechanical,
were it not that the position of each one, as well as of the surrounding
cards, is capable of such subtle and illusive connections that only those
well versed in cartomancy, or, perhaps, inspired by the dominating genius
of Mercury, can translate their import.

First, then, the direct meaning of each card must be remembered, and then
its significance when it is reversed; thirdly, its value owing to its
position on the table and when in contact with other cards must be known.
The card is read in one way when it is required to reveal the character,
and in another when the social position or the thoughts of the inquirer
are to be revealed. The same card signifies, under other circumstances,
past or future events according to its position. A malignant card may be
entirely changed if surrounded by benign cards. Thus each condition must
be given due weight when the cards are being consulted.

"Human life," says Papus, "passes through four great periods, namely:
childhood, youth, maturity, and old age; so, when the Tarots are being
read with regard to the past, present, or future, this is the first thing
to be dwelt upon to the exclusion of every other significance that may be
seen in the cards. If, however, they are being read regarding events, it
will be seen that commencement, apogee, decline, and fall are

If a business transaction is the subject of inquiry, the suit of Rods must
be the one selected, since it indicates creation, enterprise, agriculture,
art, and the element of fire.

If a love affair is being inquired about, Cups must represent it. The Cup
indicates instruction, preservation, the earth, and affection.

A lawsuit, quarrel, or trouble has Swords for an emblem, as they denote
transformation, hatred, war, trouble, and the air.

Business calls for the Money suit; that typifies development, trade,
commerce, and water, with ships, travelling, and all that is connected
with movement. The Money suit is sometimes named Pentacles.

The Cups and Staves denote the house or the home, the family or near
relatives and friends. Money typifies outsiders, or the world in general,
or unknown persons. Swords may be either close relations or the public,
whichever is indicated by the surrounding cards.

The Atout cards may be divided so that the first seven cards refer to the
intellectual life of man. The next seven cards point to his moral
condition, and the last seven of the Atouts declare the various events of
his life. Taken with the pip cards, a fair narrative of all concerning the
ordinary events of life may be read in the cards, that is at least curious
and amusing, even if no credence is placed in the revelations, and this is
supposed to be what the ancients meant when they declared that Mercury had
invented "speech, letters, and books."



To consult the Tarots, the Initiate must invite the Inquirer to designate
what the cards are to be asked to reveal, and, as has been mentioned, this
calls for the selection of one of the four suits that in this case must be
separated from the other leaves. The suit selected must be shuffled
thoroughly and cut by the Initiate, who then passes them to the Inquirer,
with the request that they be shuffled and cut three times. The cards are
then ranged or spread out on a table, after which the Atouts are shuffled
and cut according to the above directions, to be dealt according to the
rules of the game, remembering that the first card to the left indicates
commencement or childhood, the second one to the right and above it is
youth or apogee, the third on the right signifies decline or maturity,
while the fourth position means old age or fall; in short, past, present,
and future.

A simple way of reading the cards is as follows: With the pip and Atout
cards shuffled and cut separately, the Juggler, or first card of the
Atouts, must be taken from the pack and laid in the middle of the table,
so that the other cards may be dealt around it; for it represents the
Inquirer, and the cards that fall close to it reveal the events in life
most nearly connected with him.

After the cards are cut, the Inquirer may select seven cards from the
Atouts without looking at them. The Bagatleur represents the Inquirer.
Deal four of them one by one, beginning at the left side, so as to fill
the following diagram:

  I            III

Then take three Atouts, selected without looking at them, and place them
in the centre, as follows:

  I   V   VII   VI   III

The last three show past, present, and future; the other four indicate
the character of the person or the events about which the cards are being
consulted. The diagram demands seven Atouts besides the Bagatleur or

Then, without seeing them, twelve pip cards must be taken by the Inquirer
from the suit that has been selected, and these must be laid in a circle
around those already in place, commencing on the left and working
downwards and towards the right. The first card should be next to No. I;
the fourth should be under No. IV; the seventh should be opposite to the
first one and next to No. III; the tenth should be on the top, above No.
II, while the twelfth card falls beside the first one, completing the
circle. The Juggler is then supposed to be placed in the middle of the
diagram or laid above the circle.

The twelve pip cards indicate the different phases through which the
person will pass, or the evolution of the events during the four great
periods of life. Commencement is indicated by the Atout in position No. I;
apogee, by the Atout in position No. II; decline or obstacle, by the Atout
in position No. III, and fall, by the one in position No. IV. Then the
three other Atouts indicate the special character of the person; in the
past by No. V, in the present by No. VI, in the future by No. VII.

The pip cards should be studied where the future is indicated by the cards
in the circle occupying places from seven to twelve, the present by those
occupying positions from four to seven, the past by those occupying
positions from one to four. (These numbers refer to the positions
occupied, and never to the number of the pips on the cards, or to the
numbers placed on the Atouts.)

The above is a short and hurried method of consulting the cards, but
Etteila had a second one that was used when a whole career was to be
revealed, as well as the character, or the influence of education,
friends, and family. It also indicated the future position and chief
events of life. In short, it was supposed to be a repetition of the scene
when a young man, on reaching maturity made a solemn sacrifice in the
temple, when the "Tablets of Fate," that had been inscribed by Nebo,
Thoth, or Mercury at his birth, were consulted. In this way their wishes
were obtained that should govern his career in life. This ceremony was
never repeated, although the orders of the gods were often requested on
particular occasions without going through the entire performance or the
full consultation that had been made at maturity.

According to Papus, four deals are required for this process of
divination, but his methods are unnecessarily complicated, so they may be
simplified without altering the results.

Shuffle all the Tarots without making any distinction between the Atout
and the pip cards. Let the Inquirer cut them three times, and then cut
them in three packets of about equal size. Take the central heap, deal out
twenty-six cards, and lay them to the right in a pile. Shuffle those
remaining with the rest of the pack, and let them again be cut, and then
again cut into three piles. Select the centre and deal seventeen cards,
placing them in a pile beside the one containing the twenty-six cards.
Shuffle the stock again together, and let them be shuffled and cut as
before, taking again the centre packet and dealing eleven cards. Collect
the remaining twenty-four cards and put them aside. This is the Widow, or
Stock, and these cards represent the events that might have happened in
the life of the Inquirer, but were eliminated by luck or chance, and
these often prove most interesting.

The first packet, containing the twenty-six cards, represents the soul or
the character of the Inquirer, and of those most closely connected with
him. The pile containing the seventeen cards represents his mind or the
events controlling him. And the pile of eleven cards represents the body,
the ills or annoyances of life, or the events to take place, such as the
profession to be chosen, the journeys to be taken, with other happenings.

The cards should be spread out on a table, so that they can easily be seen
and interpreted according to their value, as given on pages 000-000, the
upper row containing the "soul" pile, the second row the "mind" pile, and
the third row containing the "body" pile.

"From this system," says Papus (page 330), "Etteila deduced his subtle
arguments upon the creation of the universe, the Kabbalah, and the
Philosopher's stone." If any person can emulate him in these deductions,
they must be "wise in their generation," and must have established direct
communication with the great god Nebo himself, the "writer of the Tablets
of Fate."

For the second deal, the whole pack of seventy-eight cards must be
shuffled and cut three times. Deal seventeen cards, laying them on the
table face up. Then take the eighteenth card and the seventy-eighth card
that should be on the bottom of the pack, and "the meaning of these two
cards," says Papus, "will tell you whether any fluidic sympathetic
communication is established between the Initiate and the Inquirer." Then
the seventeen cards laid out can be deciphered and disclosed.

The third deal is "Etteila's great figure," which gives the key to the
past, present, and future of the person about whose fate inquiry is being

Take out the Atout numbered One, or the Juggler. Deal ten cards side by
side on the left of the table. Shuffle and cut three times, and then deal
ten more across the top. Then shuffle, cut, and deal ten more on the right
side, thus forming a hollow square, with the thirty Atout and pip cards
falling indiscriminately, but arranged side by side.

Deal thirty cards in a ring in the centre, leaving seventeen cards besides
the Juggler, or on one side for the stock, which has the meaning ascribed
to it in the other deals.

To read the cards, they must be picked up one by one, beginning with the
last one dealt on the right side of the open square and the last one of
the ring, explaining their meaning and significance as they are placed
together in pairs, and then discarding them entirely. The twenty cards
that are first taken up relate to the past.

The next twenty should be lifted in the same way, starting with the top
card of the square, and mating it with the one nearest it of the centre
circle, which should be the eleventh one dealt. These twenty cards
represent the present.

The remaining twenty cards, that should be selected in the same way,
foretell the future.

The fourth deal is simple, and through it answers may be obtained to any
queries that are put that have not been covered by the three preceding
revelations. Shuffle all the cards together and cut three times. Then deal
seven cards from right to left and read the answer.

Papus declares that the above system of fortune-telling is based upon
Etteila's method "as given in his Book of Thoth that is very rare," and
that his method has "never before been seriously elucidated by any of his
numerous disciples." Papus, therefore, is one of the first to explain it
upon "simple principles," which, however, require further simplification
to be practical, probably owing to some misprints in his volume.

The manner of telling fortunes by cards, according to the supposed rules
of the priests of the temple of Thoth, requires a complete pack of Tarots
that are at present difficult to obtain. Spanish, French, or picture cards
issued for games are without real value or connection with one of the
earliest cults of the world. Fortune-telling with cards is useless unless
divined through the emblems of Mercury or his predecessor, the great
Egyptian god Thoth, by reading the signs and symbols pictured in his Book
of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus called


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