Bolognese Tarot Divination
Three sources are available:
- Ingallati, Maria Luigia, Il Tarocco Bolognese: l'arte della cartomanzia dall'antica tradizione popolare ai giorni nostri, Bologna, Edizioni Pendragon, 2000 ISBN 8883420268
- Dummett, Michael, Tarot Cartomancy in Bologna, The Playing Card vol. 32 no. 2 (2003) pp. 79-88
- Vitali, Andrea & Zanetti, Terry, Il Tarocchino di Bologna, Bologna, Edizioni Martina, 2005 ISBN 887572024X
Bologna has a tradition of cartomancy with tarot cards that goes back at least 300 years. Printed accounts began to appear only in 2000, but manuscript evidence shows that the tradition has been propagated orally during the whole time of its existence.
This form of cartomancy has been historically limited to the city of Bologna, Italy. It is independent of the French cartomantic tradition, and is first attested earlier than 1750.
- The Tarocco Bolognese pack is used.
- 45 cards of the pack are used (typically).
- There are no special meanings for reversed cards.
- There are no correspondences of cards with esoteric doctrines (in the available sources).
- Divinatory meanings are based on a single keyword and its associations (i.e. they are simple rather than complex (invoking correspondences with other divinatory or esoteric systems)).
Until 2000, the Bolognese tradition seems to have been a purely oral tradition, sometimes attested in manuscript, but never published. Card readers therefore did not rely on any printed sources, but were trained by a representative of the tradition directly. Although no survey has been taken, we may therefore expect there to be numerous "schools" in Bologna. This seems to be borne out by the slightly different meanings assigned to certain cards, the different pips used in the manuscript sources, as well as the different layouts which are to be found in the manuscript and printed sources. Yet the overall homogeneity of this tradition, spanning at least three centuries, is remarkable.
However, the earliest record of Bolognese cartomancy known, a manuscript from before 1750, apparently assigned meanings to only 35 cards; while Ingallati's 2000 book introduced a method using 50 cards. These kinds of variations are consonant with a living oral tradition, although it is clear from the publications of 2000 and 2005 that printed sources have begun to affect the tradition.
Therefore, an oral tradition of great antiquity is fast becoming a codified and literary tradition.
Divinatory Meanings of the Bolognese Tarocchi
Because all of the published sources make reference to the manuscript sources in addition to the oral tradition, the divinatory meanings of the four known manuscript sources is given in tabular form below.
These sources are the following:
- A manuscript from before 1750, discovered and published by Franco Pratesi.
- Meanings handwritten on a pack of Tarocco Bolognese printed in the 1820s, with additions and "corrections" in a late 20th century hand ("c. 1825" in the chart below).
- Meanings handwritten on a pack of Tarocco Bolognese made between 1862 and 1874 ("c. 1870").
- Meanings handwritten on a pack of Tarocco Bolognese printed in 1920 ("c. 1925").
An empty box indicates that this card is not used by the source.
Explanatory notes and observations follow the table of meanings.
early 18th c.
|Angelo||Wedding and settlement||Angel||Of the Angel||Angel|
|Mondo||Long journey||For the world||For the world||World|
|Sole||Day||Day||Time of day (or: daytime)||Day|
|Luna||Night||Evening time||Time of evening/of night||Evening|
|Vecchio||Old Man||Obstacle||Imperfection||Old things|
|Ruota||-||Wheel of Fortune||Turning of the Wheel||Wheel|
|Tempra||Time||The passage of time||Vettinparla or Vettimparla;
|Carro||Journey||Triumph||In tempo di letto
|(Papi 2)||-||Foreigness||Confirmation or proof||-|
|Bégato||Married man||Chatter (idle)||Playing about||Chatter|
|Matto||Madness||Deeds of a fool||Madness||Fool|
|Re||An unmarried gentleman||Batons in person||Him||Young man (Uomo gi.)|
|Cavallo||Door-knocker||Thought/Thought of the Queen||Thought of himself||Man of batons|
|Fante||Thought of the Lady||Batons in mind
("Lady" added in 20th
|Sei||(-)||The street||Make a voyage||-|
|Re||An old man||A cup||Gentleman P. (Galantuomo p.)||Man|
|Regina||Married Lady||A "little cup" (girlfriend?)
|Graceful Lady||Queen of Cups|
|Cavallo||Settlement||Agreement||Accomodation||Man of Cups|
|Fante||The Lady||A coppina||Young lady||Man|
|Asso||The House||Bed||Own house||Knock on the door|
|Sei||(-)||-||-||Under the cups|
|Sette||(-)||-||On the roof||-|
|Nove||(-)||Cups of the house||-||-|
|Dieci||Roof tiles||Happiness||Happiness||May it flourish!|
|Re||Evil tongue||Dagger||Youth||King of Swords|
|Regina||(-)||Affliction||Sad lady||Queen of Swords|
|Cavallo||(-)||Evil tongue /
Thought of dagger
|Asso||Letter||At the door||Knock at the door||Note|
|Re||The Man||Good news||Gentleman||King of Denari|
|Regina||Truth||Of confirmed truth||Letter||Queen of Denari|
|Cavallo||Thought of the Man||Letter||Alla forza
|Man of money|
|Asso||Table||Table-time||Table-time||Outside of the table|
Fuora di tavola