R. Falconnier's Egyptian Tarot. (II)


We continue the description of the Arcana of this 19th century Tarot, started in the previous article.

The XII arcane, the Sacrifice (letter L) is the name given to the letter of the Hanged Man. Nor this card has changed its general image. This idea of ​​sacrifice is widespread in many other visions of the Tarot, being both a personal sacrifice in exchange for knowledge and a universal sacrifice. His number is 30, ten times three. This card, as in most decks, is loaded with more symbolism than others. In this case, the two palm trees between which the hanged man is located delimit a sacred space, in which an inverted triangle is created between the vertices of the palm trees and the arms. The hanging character has his hands tied, but he drops some golden seeds. In Falconnier's, the sacrifice represented is that of the wise man who dies for his ideas. Although he dies, his ideas, the seeds, remain and will grow in due time, multiplying for the next. Also, consider the virtue of forgiveness from the enemy. His astral influence is from the Moon, and his zodiac sign is Libra.

The XIII arcane, Death (Letter M), does not show any changes either. Armed with a scythe, she has at her feet two severed heads, one foot and two amputated hands, but behind the figure of the skeleton there is a rainbow, which according to the author, symbolizes the immortality of the soul above things considered as important as those parts of the body. Her number, 40, is a number considered key to great changes, through its religious meaning, and numerologically it is a difficult number and arguably a bit dark. This card has no astral influence, as it symbolizes a fresh start.

The XIV arcane is the Sun (Letter N), and traces the traditional Temperance, appearing as a winged youth, with wings also on his feet, who passes a liquid, which symbolizes the movement and/or or the elements of nature, of a glass to another, as a symbol of perpetual fertilization through the light and heat of the sun, which shines behind her. The wings are a symbol of divinity and perpetual movement. The sun is divine, and its light is the knowledge to which all must aspire. His number is 50, a number considered positive and also related to movement and changes. His astral influence is the Sun, of course, and his associated zodiac sign is Scorpio.

Arcana XV is Typhon (letter X), which comes to replace the Devil card, although except for its representation as the mythological monster, the other elements, as we will see below, are quite similar. As a symbol of evil and chaos, he has tried to represent it as a hippopotamus with a crocodile head and hooves, reminiscent of the Soul Eater of the Egyptian underworld, but has added the female breasts and penis, common to the traditional representation, as well as a snake coming out of his navel and some wings. He carries a torch in his right hand and a staff in his left, and a flame appears on his head. On its snout it has a horn, as a threat to everything divine, of which it is contrary. At his feet are two chained horned figures, a symbol of condemnation and "chaining" produced by vices and acts unrelated to divinity. His number, 60, is related to the Biblical demonic 6. Saturn is its astral influence, and its zodiac sign is Sagittarius.

The 16th arcane is The Pyramid (letter O), tracing the Tower, also called the House of God. In it two men appear falling from the top of a pyramid, where lightning has fallen, splitting the top. One of these men is crowned, as a message that political position and other issues are irrelevant in the eyes of divine wrath. Hence his number, 70, is identified with the divine 7. Since the pyramid has a marked entrance, it is argued that these men reached the top the easy way, instead of working hard and learning through the correct sciences. Its astral influence is from Jupiter, identified with the Roman divinity and with the storm, and its zodiac sign is Capricorn, which could also be related to Jupiter and Amalthea, his nurse.

Arcane XVII is the Star (letters F and P) retains the name and position of its usual card. The young woman, who appears with one foot in the sea and the other on land, which are the sad and happy days in its most metaphorical sense of life; she symbolizes the truth, and the cups she carries in her hand are goodness and charity, which are poured out on humanity, a plea of ​​hope in the human being. On the figure there is an eight-pointed star that has a rhombus divided in two in its center, the upper part is white and the lower part is black. For some it is similar to earth and water, symbols, black and white, of duality, and due to its triangular shape, of divine reception. For Falconnier, and other followers of this theory, it is the pyramid with its shadow, as part of a joint figure of magic and occultism, that is, the visible and the invisible part. This star is surrounded by seven smaller stars, symbolizing the seven astrological planets. Its astral influence is received from Mercury, and its numerical value is 80, a value similar to that of 8 in terms of duality and balance. As a star itself, it has no associated zodiac sign.

Arcane XVIII (letter Q) is Love. Similar to the Lovers card, a couple of a man and a woman appear holding hands within a circle of flowers, with the sun shining overhead, as a symbol of light. and regeneration: love is not only from the young, but also comes from divinity. Man and woman symbolize the union of opposites for the creation of something new. But at the same time it is a manifestation of the trust of one human being in another as the beginning of society. His number is 100, due to creation and the entire process it evokes, as well as a "new beginning". Its astral influence is received from Jupiter, identified with this leading divinity, and its zodiac sign is Pisces, due to the two fish.

The XIX arcane (letter R) is Awakening. It is very similar to the Judgment card, and to the Christian idea of ​​the Last Judgment, where a winged figure, a spirit, blows a trumpet and the mummified dead rise from their sarcophagi. It is not a representation for the resurrection, but the dead represent the sleeping spirits, those who have not heard or have not yet received the call of divinity, and therefore, of knowledge and truth. We must grieve for these living, dead in life without knowing it, and not for the real dead. Mummification is a symbol of permanence of sleeping individuals who need to be awakened. Its associated number is 200, and its astral influence comes from Saturn, time.

The XX arcane, (letter S), the Crown, is a celestial crown formed by lotuses, with a bird in its center and four figures surrounding it: a man, a lion, an eagle and a bull; These figures are reminiscent of the four evangelists, but here they are seen as representations of the four orientations of the spirit. The circular crown is a symbol of eternity, and also of the infinite chain of existence and thought. At the bottom there is a woman playing a three-stringed harp, referring to the triple harmonic composition of the human being - the body, the soul and the spirit. In relation to this its number is 300, and its astral influence is from the Sun.

Arcana XXI (letter T) is the Atheist, sometimes identified with the Fool. It has no astral influence, since an eclipse is represented on the top left, which represents blindness to the light of faith and divinity. The atheist walks in front of a fallen obelisk, a symbol of religion and the spiritual, but also of the fallen and lost works of the character on the card himself; he carries a stick in his right hand, but behind his steps, so that it is of no use to him. His spiritual blindness leads him directly into the jaws of a crocodile, whose head pokes out from behind the obelisk. Its associated number is 400.

The last arcane, the XXII, (letters T and S) is The Night, a tracing of the traditional tarot card of the Moon. In it, two pyramids, one white and one black, appear at the end of a path, and in front of them are a black dog and a white one, creating a contrast. White and black symbolize true science and false science, the dogs Good and Evil, sometimes interchangeable. Among the dogs there is a scorpion, a symbol of perversion, as an element that leads to disputes and turns everything cloudy. High above, the moon appears partially covered by clouds, as a sign that truth and faith, that conscience and awareness, are not always in the open. Its number, closing the arcana cycle, is 0, and its astral influence is from Aquarius.

As it can be seen, Falconnier exposed a highly mystified Egyptian mythology, which the rest of the Tarots created under this premise, with the exception of Crowley's Thoth Tarot, have failed to expose, since they have focused more on aesthetics and mythology traditionally. studied and therefore closer to the general public. It can be seen without much effort beliefs about a cosmic entity, a regulating divinity and belonging to it is a perennial idea that Falconnier imposed on this deck. It is interesting, therefore, to realize that Egyptian aesthetics hardly has Egyptian symbolism, but that everything is a transposition understood in its own way. It is probably for this very reason that so many variants have arisen later, since the "Egyptian" that attracts is not simply a metaphor of a single divinity to which one surrenders in order to attain knowledge, but a group of divinities that are different faces of a diamond, the One and the Multiples, as Hornung (1971) would say in his homonymous book, and a series of signs that make us perceive the presence of the exotic, with an exotic meaning too, not simply interpretable; and this must be fulfilled in the esoteric and occult world not only to be attractive, but also useful. It is also confusing that knowledge, understood as freedom, becomes a morality defined by this complete and superior divinity to seek and obey. Vice, perversion and doubt are shown as errors, and although in the popular mentality they are, once again, this right of free choice that is being deprived.

The Falconnier's tarot, therefore, opened two paths: The mystical path through the use of Egyptian aesthetics, which had been initiated by Paul Christian, and which would help the perception of the tarot as a mental tool, beyond the simple card game used as a oracle; and the aesthetic path, where all the Egyptian tarots that followed completely altered the imagery of this first model, adding gods and much more attractive scenes for the public, but retaining the primary value of the intention to show Egypt as a cradle of knowledge.

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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