The Grand Etteilla: First Use

AUTHOR’S NOTE: For those of you familiar with Etteilla, in this reading I “went by the book” in some cases (that is, The Grand Etteilla by Orsini, Lemarchand and d’Odoucet) but in many instances (after having read both that book and Alliette’s own Etteilla or the Only Way to Draw the Cards), I decided to follow my instincts in the interpretation.

I finally got around to breaking out my new Etteilla I deck for a trial run. Since Alliette’s spreads for use with the deck tend to be highly complex, I decided to use my self-created “astrological” version of the 21-card Romany spread for this reading (which echoes Alliette’s affection for multiples of “7”). The question involved a person who is nearing a crossroads in career and in life. The spread delivers a “personality profile” from past, present and future perspectives. It provides for Alliette’s assumption that the influence of a card above “falls into” the card(s) below, in that the Past cascades into the Present, which in turn feeds the Future. I used reversals since the Etteilla cards have double-ended keywords, one for upright and one for reversed; however, reversal in this system merely furnishes alternative (and not always particularly congruent) meanings; it doesn’t seem to have any other divinitory significance.

The first column (Sun) displays the characteristics of Ego, including one’s sense of self-worth and orientation to the world. The cards pulled were “Plus” (More) in the Past; “Table” (Feast) in the Present; and “Le Souverain” (Sovereign) in the Future. The suggestion is that this individual, who was needy and seeking betterment, may be taking advantage of the good will and generosity of a well-situated man, and could be headed for a clash of wills. (Julia Orsini’s text gives us “loss of confidence from an important person, who extended much benevolence toward you.”)

The second column (Moon) describes the emotional dimensions of the situation. The cards pulled were “Folie” (Foolishness) in the Past; “Nouvelle” (News) in the Present; and “Indecision” (Indecision) in the Future. The impression is one of ill-considered past attachments meriting a “wake-up call” that will leave the person in a quandary about what to do next in the realm of relationships.

The third column (Mercury) reflects the mental state arising from the circumstances. The cards pulled were “Maladie” (Illness) in the Past; “Desunion” (Disunity) in the Present; and “La Justice” (Justice) in the Future. As always, the Justice card implies “receiving one’s just desserts,” and the other two cards indicate that the individual was not mentally equipped to tackle the situation in the first place. A certain “malaise” is indicated by this sequence that may end in an unsympathetic judgment.

The fourth column (Venus) is an expression of “desires” (or what the querent wants). The cards pulled were “Campagne” (Countryside); “La Prudence” (Prudence) and “Courroux” (Wrath). “Countryside” implies wanting to stay in the “comfort zone” with no disciplined focus or vested interest in the matter, just kind of “there” without really being “anywhere” in particular. “Prudence” suggests trying to keep one’s head down and let the unpleasantness of the next card (Wrath) blow over. This will only work for so long.

The fifth column (Mars) shows the actions the individual is willing to take to achieve the foregoing desires. The cards pulled were “Homme Bon et Severe” (Good and Severe Man) in the Past; “Le Pretre” (Priest) in the Present; and “Effet” (Effect) in the Future. The implication is of a worthy but impatient man with high expectations who has tried to set a good example for the individual through teaching and hands-on guidance, and the Nine of Coins indicates that, with effective action in the near future, all is not yet lost. The last card also suggests having a “side gig” (such as a second job). The main point of this series is that the actions were not taken by the individual in question, but rather by the sponsor, who may have acted more as an “enabler” for minimal coping than as a “facilitator” of independent advancement. But as George Carlin once said, first “Ya gotta wanna.”

The sixth column (Jupiter) provides an indication of opportunities for growth in the matter. The cards pulled were “Faux” (False) in the Past; “Retard” (Delay) in the Present; and “Solitude” (Solitude) in the Future. The unavoidable conclusion is that initial presumptions were ill-founded (perhaps under “false pretenses”), leading to a disappointing rate of development and the potential for disassociation (“severing ties”) in the future.

The seventh column (Saturn) reveals the impact of any limitations on the individual’s success path. The cards pulled were “Femme de Campagne” (Country Woman) in the Past; “Societe” (Society or Associations) in the Present; and “Force Majeure” (Superior Force) in the Future. They appear to show a decent, unassuming individual who was not really cut out for the high-pressure “fast lane” and is now facing the demands of the “public” who may want more than can be delivered (“Society” could also mean the distractions of social involvement); the last card shows that things could get out of hand and require draconian measures. (The image is clearly a precursor to the modern Devil card.)

Overall, this is not a hopeful forecast. Even the productive improvements that can be made with the 9 of Coins in the “Actions” column may be too little, too late.


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