R. Falconnier's Egyptian Tarot. (I)


As it was seen in the introductory article to the Egyptian Tarots, the R. Falconnier is the one that can be called, almost without a doubt, the model to follow, at least aesthetically, of most of them. Created in 1896, it follows the ideas of occultist Paul Christian, who also had his own tarot (1863), with a shamelessly medieval air, from which he took only the esoteric messages that he found most interesting and consistent with the "Egyptian" mentality - to be honest, with what was believed, in that age of discoveries, to be the Egyptian mentality, charged everywhere with mysticism, magic and occult symbolism. Possibly for this reason he includes a letter from the so-called Magicians' Alphabet with which he lists the entire deck, to which he thus assigns a letter and a number, in addition to linking an influential astral force to each card. The illustrations are the work of Maurice Otto Wegener.

He introduced, however, several changes, renaming some of the arcana, as can be read below, and modifying their relative numerical position in the deck. This Tarot was not presented colored, although some of its versions, as well as those decks that use the same images, present it full of colors and often gold. Their symbolisms were presented in the different written versions of the tarot, and as it can be verified now, it is not a question of a posteriori interpretation, but the illustrations were really designed to transmit all those messages.

Actually, the value of this deck is driven by the Major Arcana, 22, although in some versions only 21 are included. In fact, the Falconnier tarot as such consists only of the major arcana and these are the ones that we will analyze next. For Falconnier, the "universal language" is only shown through the major arcana, also called hermetic sheets. The minor arcana are only points or details, something that has been preserved in the successive Egyptian tarots that have been appearing on the market since then.

Arcane I (letter A), the Magician, is represented as a man crowned with a scepter in his right hand that ends in a circle, a symbol of perfection and intellect, and a small altar or table, tracing the medieval and Renaissance model of the magician. with their objects on the table. This cube-shaped table symbolizes the stability and balance that must accompany the scholar. In the majority of reproductions, an ibis, animal of Thoth, god of wisdom, is preserved as carved on the cube. The objects are a lamp or cup that represent human passions, a coin that speaks of the reward of knowledge, and a weapon that indicates the need to fight. A shooting star or a comet appears in the upper right corner, as a symbol of knowledge, which also comes from heaven/divinity, or at least pleases it. The magician's belt is a snake that bites its tail, an ouroboros, symbol of eternity. The magician's free hand points to the earth, indicating that he has power over it. Its astral influence is marked by the star, a comet, as a symbol of divinity, or of the "envoy" of God - reminding us a lot of the story of the star of Bethlehem.

Arcana II (letter B), the Sanctuary, changes its position with the Priestess, who traditionally occupies this position. The main figure is in a building with two columns, one black and one white, which symbolize good and evil, the sacred and the profane, in short, the duality of the world and the existence of "another" world. A moon is seen to her left, her astral influence, and the figure herself is crowned with a crescent whose horns point upwards. The moon here symbolizes knowledge, but like the moon, it has phases and can remain hidden from common sight. The figure symbolizes Wisdom, seated, since it is immutable, and wears a veil covering half her face, an idea captured in a very visual way. In her hands she carries a papyrus in which her teachings are supposed to be, but which is also hidden among her clothes.

Arcanum III (letter C) is Nature, replacing the Empress. It is represented by a woman crowned with twelve stars as the twelve months of the year, and seated on a cube -again, stability- covered with eyes, understood as hermetic visions, or of Hermes himself, in relation to the murder of Argos, the guardian of hundreds of eyes of the goddess Hera. He carries a scepter with a ball on top, a symbol of the world, and an eagle or vulture perched on his left hand. The bird symbolizes communication with divinity and at the same time the human soul wishing to join it. Her astral influence is Venus, due to her identification with the generating goddess.

Arcane IV (letter D) is the Winner, and replaces the Emperor. The number 4 is here related to strength, as is its Jupiterian astral influence, but it does not represent a warrior, except for the helmet, which is reminiscent of the crowns of Lower Egypt; the struggle here is to reach superior knowledge, obtained through four phases: affirmation, denial, discussion of the matter and the solution to it. A seated man, again with a scepter in his right hand, the same scepter as the Magician, since he also possesses the sacred science, and his left hand towards the ground as a gesture of domination. Seated once again on a cube, in which a cat is represented, symbolizing this hidden knowledge. His legs are crossed in a triangle, to show the dimensions of infinity: length, width and depth, through which the human spirit moves, also represented by a dove leaning on him or on his wardrobe, which is the innocent spirit willing to learn .

Arcane V (letter E) is the Priest or Hierophant, specifically priest of Isis, so the moon is his star. The number V is identified with the fingers of the hand, and therefore with the capacity to act and to choose. That is why it is located between two columns that represent law and freedom, as well as the temple of the goddess. At her feet are two kneeling men who symbolize good and evil. His right hand makes a gesture of indication or silence, of teaching, while his left hand rests on a somewhat retouched sort of cross, with three protruding ones, which are interpreted as the three paths of knowledge: divinity, intellect, and psychology. On the left of his head is the symbol of Mars, and on his right is his zodiac sign, Aries.

The VI arcane, the Test, replaces the Lover, practically making a tracing; (letters U and V, which after all in Roman antiquity had no distinction) represents the balance of forces, and the duality necessary to create movement, and therefore, that the world "turn" balanced. Not in vain, six is ​​twice three, divine number. The image shows a man, who is understood as a neophyte in the science of knowledge, between two women, a blonde dressed in light and another brunette with a bare chest and dressed in dark, as allegories of Virtue and Vice. , among which is every human being. From above appears an archer spirit aiming at Vice. Some believe that it is a benevolent spirit, that attacks vice so that the neophyte chooses well. Others, (apparently Falconnier himself) who points to it, almost as if it were a Cupid, indicating that human beings tend to choose vice and ease.

Arcane VII (letter Z) is called the Triumph, although its image is a carbon copy of the Chariot. Seven is a key number in the sacred and magical world. The chariot is cubic, again in relation to stability and perfection, with four columns that are identified with the four elements, a starry cloth on the upper part and a circular decoration, infinity, on the lower part. The figure holds a sword in his right hand, as a symbol of the fight, and in his left a scepter in three shapes: a square, for matter, a circle, for eternity, and a triangle for divinity. Two sphinxes rest or pull the chariot. One of them is white and the other is black, representing the importance of the elections. Due to duality, his zodiac sign is Gemini, and his influence is the sun.

Arcane VIII (letter H) is Justice, unaltered, represented as a blindfolded woman with a sword in her right hand and a scale in her left hand: this is nothing new with respect to the Western cultural collective imagination. Its relationship with the number eight is made by its balance and symmetry. The defining characteristics of the card are the surrounding characters. A lion points to the force subjected to justice. A winged genie and a small sphinx symbolize the divine presence and the approval of just punishment or forgiveness. According to some a turtle, according to others a bird, the winged figure on the woman symbolizes the idea of ​​repentance and forgiveness. Justice is seated, because it is immovable, and on three different levels (steps), which indicate that it is above the three worlds -over which there is dispute: physical, psychic, spiritual? Material, intellectual, divine? Matter, the human and the divine? Venus is his astral influence and his associated zodiac sign is Cancer.

Arcanum IX (letters T and H) is the Priest, who replaces the Hermit. The priest wears a cloak with which he covers the lamp that he carries in his left hand: it is the idea of ​​knowledge that guides, but also of humility and discretion. In the other hand he carries a staff that indicates his advanced age, since arriving at the Truth involves many years of experience. His zodiac sign is Leo, since despite his age, he has a greater force that is that of the intellect, as well as the divine plane - the number nine is three times three. His planet is Jupiter, since, although the Pharaoh is the highest authority, the councils of the old priest have similar power and leadership.

Arcana X (letters I, J and Y) is the Wheel of Fortune, not altered, also called the Sphinx, since one appears at the top of the card. On the wheel, rotating on its axis, the monster Typhon (Typhon) appears on the left -also used in what would be the Devil's card- as a representation of evil, with its head pointing downwards, and on the right an identified god as Ptah or Kne-Ptah, as an image of good, with the head pointing up. At the foot of the wheel there are two snakes placed symmetrically, indicating the equality of the opponents, and therefore the infinite turning of the wheel. Above it, on a kind of pedestal, is an armed sphinx looking to the right, towards the east. It represents the human wills: knowledge, daring, action and silence; and the superiority of the divine will. His number, ten, includes all the others, numerically speaking, and is also being (1) and non-being (0). His influence is from Mercury, and his zodiac sign is Virgo, indicating cunning and temperance.

The XI arcane (letter CK) is Strength, with its unchanged image, where a woman holds the open mouth of a lion without showing the need for any effort. The effort comes from experience, learning and education, just as the lion lets its mouth open, without giving in to its trained instinct. Fear or error can always be solved by these. Right and duty go hand in hand. His number is 20, as a sign of totality and its application, and all his astral influence is from Mars.

Continues in: R. Falconnier's Egyptian Tarot (II)

Pietro Viktor Carracedo Ahumada - pietrocarracedo@gmail.com

-Falconnier, R. Les XII lames hermétiques du Tarot divinatoire. Arts independents, París. 1896-Falconnier, R. El tarot egipcio: arcanos mayores. Ediciones obelisco. Barcelona, 1985

- Huson, P. Mystical origins of the Tarot: from Ancient Roots to Modern Usage. Inner traditions bear company. EEUU. (2004)

-Mosquera, J.M. Llonch Segarra, S. Ludus Triumphorum. La Historia del Tarot. Asociación Española de Tarot Profesional. Lulu. (2017)

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