Traditional Tarot

Desultory Notes on the Tarot

Tchalaï: Why the Tarot of Marseilles?


Second Spanish edition of Tchalaï’s booklet for Grimaud.

Why the Tarot of Marseilles?

Tchalaï Unger

As you will have already noticed, this groundwork relies on examples taken exclusively from the Tarot of Marseilles. Why?

We may discuss the matter all day long, but not if we have really worked with the Tarot, instead of shoving our ego into it. There is no Tarot other than the Marseilles Tarot. This apparently dictatorial assertion would be intolerable to Piek Anéma[1] (who has published a number of worthy volumes on the Tarot), or to Domenico Balbi[2] (who is so erudite and who has drawn such a lovely tarot). They will both forgive me. Or perhaps not. We can back up this affirmation with dozens of proofs, and notably on astounding numerological arguments. But I want but one proof, objective, clear, and precise: the Tarot of Marseilles is the richest, the fullest, the simplest, period.

Line up all the others next to it. Even those which have seen fit to add on a Hebrew letter, a planet, or whatever, are by far inferior in both meaning and content, and appear clumsy and wretched. Many people, too often too learned, have wanted to improve on the Marseilles Tarot by “completing” or “simplifying” it. Only… when we change the shape of the card, its colour, its name, we have also completely changed the vibratory content of the card. These other “tarots” are sometimes very interesting, or harmonious, or decorative, or charged with experience (notably psychedelic), but we find therein the portrait of those who designed them, and not the portrait of the Universe. This becomes a catalogue of preconceived ideas, and not a living path of initiation.

  • [1] Piek L. Anéma, Dutch Tarot collector and author of an encyclopaedic work in French on the subject, of which only three small volumes were published. See here and here. – Ed.
  • [2] Domenico Balbi, Italian artist and engraver, creator of the Balbi Tarot published by Fournier in 1976. – Ed.

– Excerpt from Le tarot: comment s’en servir? (The Tarot: How to Use it) published in Question De, no. 30, May-June 1979.
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2 thoughts on “Tchalaï: Why the Tarot of Marseilles?

  1. Pingback: Le Soleil | A Coat for a Monkey

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