Seven of Coins — Cary-Yale Visconti Deck

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Today I draw a card for a woman I know in a faraway land. Because I like renaming people, and because I am supposed to be learning French (ha!) and she is in France, I rename her l’Accordéoniste, which looks fancy to me because it has an apostrophe after the “l” and an accent aigu over the “e.”


“Show me a card for l’Accordéoniste and give her a castle and true love,” I demand.


Seven of Coins shows its face upright and says to me:


I give her nothing. Her labor’s fruit is all her own.

If she is wise— and wise she is— she will work hard

and know that growth of fruit takes many years.

The tree that fruits is strongly formed and neatly pruned,

its soil fed, its rats and insects chased away,

and it is blessed with ideal weather by the gods.

Seven coins are golden fruits of each of seven loves,

and the boughs of the tree are her castle;

and the music she plays entices the gods

to properly favor the weather.

Six of Coins — Cary-Yale Visconti Deck

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Artist: Unknown


Nice interpretation: Generosity. Philanthropy. Charity. Kindness. Gratification. Gifts. Material gain. Not-so-nice interpretation: Avarice. Selfishness. Envy. Jealousy. Bad debts. Unpaid loans.


I think I’ve posted this image upside-down, which might be bad luck. Looking closely at the card, there are three coins that have a horse and rider on them. The way I have it posted, horse and rider are upside-down. Giordano Berti proposes, in his book The History of the Tarot, that the deck was produced between 1442 and 1447, because the coins show both sides of the golden florin coined by F. M. Visconti in 1442 and withdrawn from circulation at his death, in 1447. Upside-down and right-side up are not so important in this deck as they are in modern tarots: there is no evidence it was ever used for divination. I like to assume the card was right-side up when I drew it.


I could find the fact that the deck was never used for divination as a wonderful excuse to write nothing further about the meaning of this card. The other wonderful excuse I have is that the washing machine overflowed today, spreading about ½ an inch of water through a large portion of the mildew-inclined basement. That said, I’m glad the washing machine was in the basement and not on the first floor, and I’m glad it’s winter so we can keep the wood stove cranked to help dry things out, and I’m glad it seems a relatively easy fix. Martin came home early to help me wring out the spare futon and the collection of cardboard boxes and the drywall and such. So I think the card was definitely right-side up. If it was upside-down, I’d be in a foul mood— but I’m happy.

Female Knight of Staves — Cary-Yale Visconti Deck

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Artist: unknown
Interpretation: upright: Confidence. Letters. Faithfulness. A friend of many years comes to visit. inverted: Lack of commitment. Gossip. Bad news. Disillusionment with an old friend.
I wonder who thought up this interpretation—
The main founding father of tarot occultism, Antoine Court de Géblin, was a “Protestant pastor, Freemason and savant (p 52).”* Court de Géblin was one of the founding fathers of the Plilaléthes, an esoteric cult who combined, it seems, most any en-vogue and occultist literature into their doctrine. He wrote innumerable unscientific articles and essays on the history of  civilization all the while demonstrating a disdain for serious evidence and rational thought.
In the early 1770s, Court de Géblin was introduced to the game of Tarots by a woman who was visiting Paris from “Germany or Switzerland.” Within the course of fifteen minutes, he scanned the entire pack. He immediately declared it thoroughly Egyptian and announced that its secret knowledge had survived so long because the deck was disguised as an instrument of play instead of the antique book of wisdom it truly was. “He did not pretend to have derived his knowledge from any ancient tradition, orally transmitted… for long ages no one had suspected the truth until he himself had with his genius perceived it and uncovered it (p 58).”
Court de Géblin had grown up in Switzerland and thus had seen the cards as a child, but not since. The game of Tarots was, at the time, still popular in Switzerland and generally forgotten in France. This foreignness was an essential element in Court de Géblin’s ability to spread his grandiose theories of the origin and significance of the tarot pack.
The deck that Court de Géblin saw in the woman’s possession was one of 78 cards. It is important to note, as demonstrated with this 86-card Cary-Yale Visconti Deck, that not all decks used in the game of trumps had 78 cards. Decks and their suits and trumps were regionally consistent, but not internationally consistent. Whereas the number of cards is significant in contemporary “traditional” occult methods of divination, all that is important for game playing is that the players are familiar with the deck and agree on the rules.
The first professional cartomancer, Jean-Baptiste Alliette, or Etteilla as he was known, also used a 78-card pack. He “corrected” many of the trumps to show images we are more familiar with today. His numbering of trumps differed from the order used in play in the tarot of Marseille and contemporary occult tarot, and the meaning of the numeral cards has evolved significantly since his time. However, the number of cards in the occult tarot deck has remained consistent from Court de Géblin’s “discovery” in the 1770s.
That is, until the mid 1990s with the addition of the Happy Squirrel Card in the Simpson’s episode #19, Lisa’s Wedding.
So, when Stuart Kaplan took to publishing facsimiles of antique tarot decks, who took on the task of assigning esoteric meaning to the additional eight cards in the Cary-Yale Visconti Deck? My guess is Stuart R. Kaplan himself, who has earned great recognition for his contributions to the occult tarot since the late sixties.
*R. Decker, T. Depaulis & M. Dummett A Wicked Pack of Cards, St. Martin’s Press, 1996. History of the tarot deck & all quotes from this source.