Etteilla Pattern

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Petit Etteilla, Etteilla's cartomantic piquet deck - King of Spades
Grand Etteilla Egyptian Gypsies Tarot, Grand Etteilla reproduction deck published by Grimaud - Discussion (Discussion), numbered 3 (corresponding to the XVIII Moon of other decks)
Book of Thoth - Etteilla Tarot (Lo Scarabeo photoreproduction of the Tarot Egyptien: Grand Jeu de l'Oracle des Dames) - Folie, numbered 78 (corresponding to the Fool)
Jeu de la Princesse Tarot (Dusserre edition) - La Mer et les Poissons (The Sea and the Fishes), numbered 7, appearing to take the place of the III Empress card of the Tarot de Marseille


For main article, see Etteilla.

(pseudonym for Jean-Baptiste Alliette, 1738-91)

Etteilla was an Enlightenment-era French esotericist who could be considered the grandfather of the occult Tarot and the first professional Tarotist in recorded history.. He was the first person to publish on the subject of Tarot divination, simultaneously providing the first elemental and astrological attributions for the tarot cards.

Around 1788, he also created the first purpose-built divinatory tarot deck. In around 1770, he had created the Petit Etteilla, a cartomantic divinatory deck based on playing cards for the French card game piquet[1]. A piquet deck consisted of 32 cards (King, Queen, Jack, Ace, 10, 9, 8 and 7 for each of the four suits). To the 32 cards, Etteilla added a 33rd card (the Etteilla card) which functioned as a significator card.

It is possible that without Etteilla's work, the occult theories of Court de Gébelin would have been doomed to obscurity, and Tarot would have remained a quaint parlor game in the popular consciousness.

School of Etteilla decks

The articles on James W. Revak's website (links below) provide an excellent overview of Etteilla and his tarot.

Grand Etteilla

The Grand Etteilla was the purpose-built divinatory tarot deck designed by Etteilla around 1788. It was Etteilla's own deck. This deck is referred to by card historians Detlef Hoffman and Erika Kroppenstedt as Grand Etteilla I.

A feature of this deck are the keywords printed on the cards giving divinatory keywords for both the upright and reversed cards. Many of those upright and reversed keywords can be traced to keywords on the Petit Etteilla cartomancy deck. The various tracts written by Etteilla and his students contain not only the keywords but numerous "synonyms" for the keywords.

A model of the Grand Etteilla I deck is photoreproduced by publishers Dusserre. As well, a model of this deck, with revised keywords by publishers Grimaud, is the subject of the reproduction by Grimaud. Generally, where a Grimaud keyword for a card differs from the corresponding Grand Etteilla I keyword, it is, or is consistent with, a "synonym" of the School of Etteilla for the Grand Etteilla keyword.

While the Petit Etteilla has an additional, 33rd card as the significator card, the Grand Etteilla has two gender-specific significator cards. Card 1 Etteilla/Male Questioner and card 8 Etteilla/Female Questioner appear to take the place of the II Popess and V Pope cards of the Tarot de Marseille deck.

A variation, which differed only slightly from Etteilla's own deck, was published in 1838 by Simon Bloquel. This variation is referred to by Hoffman and Kroppenstedt as Grand Etteilla II.

It should be noted that, although Etteilla professed an Ancient Egyptian origin to tarot, the artwork and iconography in the Grand Etteilla I (and II) cards was European rather than Ancient Egyptian.

Tarot Egyptien: Grand Jeu de l'Oracle des Dames

The Grand Jeu de l'Oracle des Dames was published circa 1865. This deck, referred to by Hoffman and Kroppenstedt as Grand Etteilla III, has neo-Gothic designs that differ greatly from Etteilla's own deck. This deck has been photoreproduced by Dusserre and, more recently, by Lo Scarabeo.

Jeu de la Princesse Tarot

The Jeu de la Princesse Tarot is attributed to Lorambert and appeared circa 1843. This deck retains the structure of Grand Etteilla I but (unlike the Grand Etteilla I, II and III) uses Ancient Egyptian motif artwork. This deck was photoreproduced by Dusserre. A modified version of this deck has been reproduced by Lo Scarabeo as the "Esoteric Ancient Tarots".

Apparent 19th-century Etteilla-style Russian tarot deck with scenic pips

The Grand Etteilla I, II and III and Jeu de la Princess decks did not have scenically-illustrated pip cards. On his website, James W. Revak mentions, and has card images from, a deck whose provenance and dating are unknown but which appears to be a 19th-century Russian tarot deck with artwork resembling that of the Grand Etteilla III deck, but with scenically-illustrated numeric pip cards[2].

External links