Christine Payne Towler - The Continental Tarots (301.0 Kb)
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In the essay titled "The Major Arcana" I emphasize that "something happened" to the Tarot in the late 1600s, when a new trend emerged in the images of the Major Arcana. I point to the Marseilles family of decks and the Etteilla Tarots to illustrate my point. The images shown by Antoine Court de Gebelin in his book Le Monde Primitif further validates this idea.The remainder of this essay is about exploring "what happened." Let's review the situation of Tarot in the first half of the 1600s. Since the early 1400s, both handmade... More >>>
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In the essay titled "The Major Arcana" I emphasize that "something happened" to the Tarot in the late 1600s, when a new trend emerged in the images of the Major Arcana. I point to the Marseilles family of decks and the Etteilla Tarots to illustrate my point.
The images shown by Antoine Court de Gebelin in his book Le Monde Primitif further validates this idea.The remainder of this essay is about exploring "what happened." Let's review the situation of Tarot in the first half of the 1600s. Since the early 1400s, both handmade and woodblock Tarots showed a remarkable constancy of internal structure even though some packs were either edited or expanded to meet the needs of the various games for which they were created.
Tarot appeared in 72-card form in Italy around 1450, although this model may represents "splice" between preexisting symbol sets: the twenty-two Hebrew alphabet-keyed set called the Major Arcana, and the Turkish Mamluk cards of unknown provenance, a 15th century version of which can be seen in Volume 2 of Stuart Kaplan's Encyclopedia of Tarot (see essay on the Minor Arcana).
Kaplan also explains that the numerical order the Arcana appear in now is carried over from the French pack by Catelin Geofroy, published in 1557 (Vol. 1, p. 65). Some earlier fragmentary Tarots show Roman numerals on some of their Major Arcana, but not all of them, and not in the order we are now familiar with. Those very old woodblock decks tend instead to follow the list enumerated in a sermon written by an Italian friar in the late 15th century (see illustration opposite page 1 in Volume 1 of Kaplan's Encyclopedia of Tarot). There is also another order derived from the Charles VI pack that keeps Temperence, Fortitude and Justice together in a group. A very small minority of Tarots follow this order, including Etteilla's Tarots.
Christine Payne-Towler is Tarot Mystic, Author and Expert Tarot Reade, and the founder of Tarot University, established to promote the understanding and study of Tarot as a useful astro-alpha-numeric document with relevance in the twenty-first century.
In our desire to align ourselves with the world's most authentic Tarot wisdom, Visionary Networks was fortunate to know Christine Payne-Towler from appearances on Paul O'Brien's Pathways Radio program. Not only is she a gifted reader who adds deep psychology and hard-won wisdom to her Tarot readings, Christine is a world-class Tarot scholar with an encyclopedic knowledge of Tarot's origins and evolution. She has been featured on many broadcasts and is the author of The Underground Stream: Esoteric Tarot Unveiled, a book on the history and deeper meanings of Tarot decks and cards.
Christine Payne-Towler has invested her life in the study of Tarot. Starting in 1970 with the purchase of a used deck, her new-found passion inspired her to collect Tarot decks that span centuries and continents.
During the course of her studies, she has supported herself using Tarot, Astrology, and Kabbalah in their traditional role as parts of that larger program of Self-Initiation -- a sacred inheritance from the Mystery Schools of the ancient world. Her realization that Tarot is essentially the "flash cards of the western Mysteries" has been the motivating force of all her work, including her contribution of text for Tarot.com and the Tarot Magic CD-ROM.
Some years ago, Christine was invited to join a Templar lodge, which allowed her even better access to the inner traditions associated with the imagery and esoteric content of Tarot. She was inspired to participate in the Secret Society movement of ancient times, which is still alive and well, and continues to provide the framework within which seekers can align themselves with the great work of human evolution going on in all places at all times.
Utilizing her scholarship in historical Tarot, she designed the layouts and wrote the interpretive text for the automated online Tarot reading program at the popular Tarot.com website, offering an online tarot alternative for people who need strong wisdom-tools for personal insight near at hand. A CD ROM of the original interactive tarot computer program, "Tarot Magic", is also available.
She has written and lectured extensively on the history of Tarot, with an emphasis on historical accuracy. Her essays, videos and lecture recordings of the past twenty years are currently being transcribed and published online throughout 2005 via The Tarot ArkLetters, a publication of Tarot University designed for students of Tarot.
Tarot University online tele-classes with Christine take place take place periodically. Students and interested folks can access study materials, practice tools, and the schedule on site. The recommended Tarot Online Forum List can be accessed through the Tarot University News weblog
Payne-Towler currently offers esoteric counseling, personal reading and interpretation for new clients on a limited basis. If her schedule is full (often the case), she highly recommends using her text within the online