hist-games: Moakley and Tarot

Susan and Michael McKay seaan at concentric.net
Sun Jun 10 23:36:45 PDT 2001

Chas Wrote:

> On a related Tarot note, I recently saw a small mention of an author named
> Gertrude Moakley who suggested that the personas portrayed on the trumps
> tarot cards may have been inspired by characters that were paraded in
> processions in the 15th century, anyone read this before?

The closest I can think of comes from a conversation I had with Ron Decker,
the curator of the USPC museum in Cincinnati, about his theories for how the
trump suit illustrations had been chosen.  He apparently made a presentation
on this subject to the IPCS in the 70's, but has not published anything
about this since (instead co-authoring "The Wicked Pack..", etc.).

He approached the trump illustrations from the point-of-view of an Art
Student.  He believed that there were at least three different meanings for
the trumps.  One of these was the "7 vices" and "7 virtues".  Some cards
have an obvious resemblance (strength/fortitude for example), but mapping
them all (+plus figuring out which are "7" not part of this classification)
is not easy.  It turns out that a 14th century Italian church has statuary
representing the 7 vices and virtues, which uses symbols that are virtually
identical to early tarot trumps.

Given this background, it would not be surprising at all, if there was a
direct relation (parade with representatives of the 7 vices and virtues) to
the trumps.  Less directly, there were a number of concepts used by both
secular and sacred scholars of the time.  These included what we modern
people consider to be myth (Greek and Roman legends), which were taken much
more seriously during that time by both scholars and the common folk.

Michael McKay  (known in the SCA as Seaan McAy)
seaan at concentric.net

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