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Marseilles or Marseille—which is it? “Tarot de Marseille”, is the French name (the “de” makes it French) of a Tarot deck style named after the city of Marseilles, France. I am writing in English, so an ”s“ is added when I write Marseilles, France. Also, “Tarot of Marseilles” is the English translation of the French name so the “s” is added. To complicate matters, more and more people, even when writing in English,  leave the “s” off.

The Marseilles-style Fool: In general, people are confused about the Fool’s pants. Only the right leg is pulled down with the left leg appearing intact, as if the pants are torn down the back seam. NO. Early clothing was constructed differently. The “pants” are really chauses, (hose) having separate legs. They are pulled up over the braies (underpants), which have longish legs like shorts and a drawstring at the waist. The chauses are tied to that drawstring. It might seem strange that some Fool cards show braies that are green (rather than white), but clothing was colorful in early times. Also, chauses could be rolled down and gartered at the knee leaving the braes to act as outer shorts. What IS rather curious, is the yellow crescent under the animal’s legs.

Why is your deck square? As I considered my goals, the benefits of the square format became apparent. I’ll name just 3 here (others are explained in the large book):

1. A Trump image suggests more nuanced interpretations when it can fall in any one of 4 (not just two) different orientations. A figure on its back may be weakened. A staff held up (at the top) may be asserting authority.  

2. Pips 1-10 of a suit can appear on just 3 squares when cards are divided into 4 segments. Since the triadic reading method divides pips 1-9 into 3 groups of 3 cards each, a single square defines a group. Card 10 of the suit is added to the last one. This makes the triadic reading method easy to learn. The 4 royals (court cards) of a suit share a square. In a spread, only the top triangle of a suit card is read.

3. This economy of presentation means that the 10 cards of a suit plus its 4 royals, are now on just 4 squares, greatly reducing the size of the deck.

Limitations: A customer questions the limitation of never having certain near-adjacent cards of the same suit in a reading. RESPONSE: Actually, this limitation clarifies the reading. Remember that any undertaking in life has 3 major stages (see bullets below); and in a 78-card deck, each stage has its own 3 cards that further divide that major stage (such as Ace, 2 & 3 of the Triad of Commencement). In the Triadic Tarot, those three are grouped on one square card, so when the Triad of Commencement comes up, the top triangle tells you where in that major stage you are at present.

  • Commencement (a new undertaking)—Ace, 2 & 3
  • Opposition (the difficulties one encounters)—4, 5 & 6
  • Equilibrium (the mature, stable result)—7, 8 & 9

If the 3 of a suit comes up, we know we are at the highest level of a new undertaking in the realm of that suit. In the suit of Rods (birth, growth and development) we are concerned with a new creative project, or perhaps an educational program. The 3 tells us that the new project (or educational enrollment) is established. We are past the first idea (the Ace) and past the stage of second thoughts and doubts (the 2). Those cards cannot come up, but they would serve no purpose. The project is now established.

Staying with the realm of Rods, if the 5 of Rods (Opposition of Opposition) comes up, it brings help to counter outside opposition to a project. The opposition itself, would have been indicated by the 4; but because we are at the 5, that opposition, or the expectation of opposition, is presumed. There is hope that the goal of the project will be achieved so there is no need to make the CHOICE required in the 6, and indeed, the 6 cannot come up. The important thing now (the message to you or the querent), is to consider the nature and source of the help being offered, and whether there may be strings attached.

Can you see how just one of the three pips of a major stage clarifies the current concern?

What if the 8 of Cups had followed the 3 of Rods? The 8 (Opposition of Equilibrium) indicates a situation that requires a quick and competent response. Cups is the emotional and spiritual realm, so there might be a family crisis that requires immediate attention.

If a Trump card had followed the 3 of Rods, it would have given a whole new coloration and perhaps deeper significance to the newly established project. Was this helpful?     ###