This deck was created by Olivier Stephane, in the spirit of the Goulinat cards that are featured in “Papus” , or Dr. Gerard Encausse , Le Tarot Divinatoire.
On the card from the book, which is supposedly from Etteilla’s Book of Thoth, there are shown several letters with characters , that have significance to either Goulinat or Papus.
Papus opens with this following statement about the general meaning of this card
The human Will (I), enlightened by Knowledge (II) and manifested in Action (III), created by the Realisation (IV) of a power which one uses or abuses depending on one’s good or bad Inspiration (V) within the circle traced by the laws of the universal order. After having overcome the Trial (VI) imposed upon it by divine wisdom, through its own Victory (VII) it comes into possession of the work it has created, and finding its Balance (VIII) on the axis of Prudence (IX), it then dominates the vacillations of Fortune (X).— The Strength (XI) of man, sanctified by Sacrifice (XII), which amounts to the voluntary offering up of oneself on the altar of devotion or expiation. The triumph of Death, and its divine Transformation (XIII), elevates it beyond the grave to the tranquil areas of infinite progress, as opposed to the reality of an immortal Initiative (XIV), and to the eternal lie of Fate (XV). The passage of time is measured in ruins, but beyond each Ruin (XVI), we see the dawn of Hope (XVII) reappear or the twilight of Deceptions (XVIII). Man constantly aspires to that which eludes him, and the sun of happiness only arises for him beyond the grave and after the Renewal (XX) of his being through the death that opens up a higher sphere of will, intelligence and action.— All will that allows itself to be governed by bodily instincts is a renunciation of freedom, and must then devote itself to the Expiation (0) of its error or fault.—
Papus calls this the “synthesis of magism”. As we can see Papus was primarily concerned with the work of the human will. Each hand of the Anima Mundi in this card has and contains within its unit the propensity for “good” or the propensity for “evil”.
As a 19th century occultist, Papus was focused on the “doctrine of reintegration” that he learned in his Martinist circles. saying :
“the sun of happiness only arises for him beyond the grave and after the renewal of his being through the death that opens up a higher sphere of will, intellegence and action.”
This is one of the major focuses of the Reintegration of being, that originated in the 17th century with Martinez De Pasqually , and was further carried on by subsequent Martinists of Louis Claude De Saint Martin and his group of Unknown Philosophers, after the teachings of Jakob Boehme and the Sophianic mystics of Boehme’s contemporaries.
In Papus’s The Qabalah he says
“each of the letters is an effective force, grouping them
according to certain mystic rules gives rise to active centres of power, productive of actual effects when set into motion by the will of man.”
Of course this concept of using the letters in direct use of the will is what we are attempting to discover in this section of our Tarot Discussion. Most importantly for this discussion is the symbols on the Goulinat cards. These derive from what Christine Payne-Towler calls the “Astro – Alpha Numeric” realm. While this is very easily labeled other names in different philosophical systems, I am not attempting to link one system with another, even though words like Intelligibles, Archetypes, Pleroma etc. have been used to describe the arithmosophic core of all number and letters.
I won’t go into many of the details now , but the symbols on Papus’s Goulinat cards are taken from Saint-Yves D’Alveydre’s work with the Archeometer, which was according to Alveydre, a synthesis of Eastern and Western Mystery religion, initiations and spiritual terms. Alveydre was familiar with Paul Christian’s History and Practice of Magic, which was written by Jean-Baptiste Pitois, pseudonamed Paul Christian. In History and Practice of Magic P. Christian gave a list of correspondences to the Tarot from what has been called the Fratres Lucis document , deriving from ancient mystery societies in Florence Italy. Along with Fabre d’Olivet’s Hebrew Tongue Restored, we are able to see many of the influences in not only Alveydre, but Papus’s thinking as well for Tarot alphabetical symbolism.
This level of Alphabetical symbolism was not only important to Papus, and his contemporaries, but was part of the Elus Cohen notebooks by Martinez De Pasqually in his work as well. Cataloging over 2000 alphabetical symbols and sigils, Pasqually used them in his work with Theurgy. Or as its called now, Ceremonial Magic and Occultism mixed with differing amounts of Philosophy and Theology.
These topics are much larger than can be discussed in a small Tarot entry like this one, but I encourage those interested to look up the information on these names and if you find something you like go to http://www.facebook.com/gnostictarotcards and let me know.