Early Occult Tarots: Images and/or Descriptions


These Tarot trump descriptions were published in the books,
The Isiac Tablet
The Bembine Table of Isis
by W. Wynn Westcott, M.B.

Bath: Robt. H. Fryar, 1887
(Facsimile reprint edition: Los Angeles: Philosophical Research Society, 1976)

A History of the Occult Tarot
by Ronald Decker and
Michael Dummett
London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd, 2002
(c) 2002 by Ronald Decker and
Michael Dummett
William Wynn Westcott
In about 1886, Westcott made ink sketches for Tarot trumps.

the Names of the Tarots
some hints of their significance
The dogmas of the Sepher Yetzirah also form a perfect Tarot

His order is that of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor (Justice = 8, Fool = 22), examplars of which are the Tarots of Saint-Germain, C.C. Zain and Jesus Iglesias Janeiro.

1. The Magus
1. Aleph. Man. Unique God
1. Aleph, Air, the Firmament, the Holy Spirit. The Human Respiration, the Chest
In the first key, a youthful man, standing at a table laden with 'swords, cups and pantacles', lifts a 'miraculous rod', which Westcott pictures as the caduceus of Hermes. The youth has 'curly hair, like Apollo or Mercury'; Westcott makes the locks long enough to suggest the traditional Christ, also depicting a long robe, beard and halo.
2. The Hierophantess, Pope Joan
2. Beth. Woman. Sanctuary
2, Beth, Luna, Nature
The personified Duad, although she holds the book of the Popess, is supposed to be Isis and accordingly wears the Egyptian crown with a disc framed by a pair of horns. While Levi mentions her mantle, Westcott makes it a transparent veil covering her entire figure, which is seated.
3. The Queen, or Empress, Juno
3. Ghimel. Isis. Urania. Nature
3, Ghimel, Mars, Force
Levi's Empress, also seated, is described as holding a sceptre topped with a globe. Westcott provides a terrestrial globe, sizeable and embellished with a world map. Levi notes that 'her sign is an eagle', and Westcott makes the bird perch on the woman's shoulder.
4. The King, Jupiter
4. Daleth. The Cubic Stone
4, Daleth, Sun, Fertility
According to Levi, the Emperor's body 'represents a right-angled triangle and his legs a cross'. Westcott allows the sovereign casually to cross his right shin over his left; he sits in a profile pose, and his sword, sheathed at his side, tilts backward to form a hypotenuse against perpendiculars in the throne.
5. The Hierophant, Pope
5. He. Religion. Inspiration
5. He. Aries. Voice
The Pope is seated on a dais above two kneeling 'ministers' as described by Levi. He says that the men's heads, together with the capitals of two flanking pillars, denote the Quinary. Westcott improves on the formula by involving five globes: a geographical globe supported by each capital, a pair of imperial orbs affixed to the corners of the chair's back and one spherical connection along the staff of the Pope's cross. The floor of his chamber is tiled in a chequered pattern...
Another source was the Grand Etteilla, the Tarot by Alliette. Several of his cards include tiled floors like that surrounding Westcott's Pope.
6. Marriage, the Lovers
6. Vau. The Two Ways. Trial
6. Vau. Taurus. Mind
Several of Westcott's images have traits never envisioned by French Tarotists. In his version of the Love key, Cupid aims an arrow at a bearded man who, classically draped and seated in a classical chair, resembles a poet or orator. To his right is a lady in peplum and sandals; to his left is a nude woman whose long tresses are snakes like Medusa's.
7. The Conqueror in a Chariot, Osiris
7. Zain. Victory
7. Zain. Gemini. Motion
He has copied Levi's Chariot, illustrated in the Rituel.
8. Justice, with Sword & Balance
8. Cheth. Equilibrium. Themis
8. Cheth. Cancer. Sight
The allegories of Justice, Fortitude and Temperance also wear classical costumes.
9. The Hermit, Philosopher, Sage
9. Teth. Wisdom. The Veiled Lamp
9. Teth. Leo. Hearing
Both Westcott and Etteilla show the Hermit as a monk wandering amid classical architecture.
10. The Wheel of Fate
10. Yod. Key of Occultism, Virility
10. Yod. Virgo. Work. Duty
Westcott copied his Wheel of Fortune from a plate in Levi's La Clef des grands mysteres.
11. Fortitude, Power
11. Kaph. Triple Chain
11, Kaph, Venus, Generation
The allegories of Justice, Fortitude and Temperance also wear classical costumes.
12. The Hanged Man, Judas, Prometheus, the Adept
12. Lamed. the Great Work, Crux
12. Lamed. Libra. Sexual desire
Westcott also represents the Hanged Man as nude, inverted on a gibbet of massive tree trunks.
13. Death
13. Mem. Death, Renewal
13. Mem, Water, the Earth, the Belly, the Womb
Westcott's skeletal reaper preserves Etteilla's Death, but the exotic pyramids have become Christian graves.
14. Temperance
14. Nun. The Seasons, Climate, mutation
14. Nun. Scorpio. Smell
The allegories of Justice, Fortitude and Temperance also wear classical costumes.
15. The Devil, Baphomet
15. Samech. Evil Magic, Sabbat
15. Samech. Sagittarius. Sleep
... the equivalent picture is missing from Westcott's sketches
16. House of Plutus, Babel
16. Oin. The Lightning, failure
16. Oin, Capricornus. Fury
The Tower is not Etteilla's classical temple, but a ziggurat (the 'Tower of Babel' in the 'Divine World').
17. The Dog Star, Blazing Star
17. Pe. Canopus. Sirius, Astrology
17, Pe, Mercury, Wisdom
Westcott imitates the figures and landscapes that Etteilla adapted from the Star and the Moon in the Tarot de Marseille...
Westcott follows Etteilla and Levi in accepting the nudity of the figures for the Star, the Sun and the World.
18. The Moon
18. Tzaddi. Magnetism. Light
18. Tzaddi. Aquarius. Taste
Westcott imitates the figures and landscapes that Etteilla adapted from the Star and the Moon in the Tarot de Marseille.
19. The Sun
19. Soph. The Stone. Gold
19. Soph. Pisces. Mirth
Most of Westcott's figures occupy spacious settings, whether natural or architectural. Of the latter, key Nineteen is noteworthy: beneath the sun, a nude couple stands on a wide pavement, surrounded by four crenellated walls.
20. The Last Judgment
20. Resh. Vegetables. Medicine
20, Resh, Saturn, Peace
Robes cover those who rise from their graves at the sound of the angel's trumpet in the twentieth allegory.
21. The World, the Crown, Kether with the Cherubim
21. Shin. Sensitive life. Animals
21. Shin, Fire, the Heavens of Stars and Suns, the Brain, the Head
Westcott follows Etteilla and Levi in accepting the nudity of the figures for the Star, the Sun and the World.
0. The Uninitiate. The Fool. Le Mat
0. Tau. The Microcosm. Pan
22, or 0, Tau, Jupiter, Beauty
Westcott's Fool, however, is dressed in modern clothes: cap, jacket, trousers and one boot. The other boot, upside down, is impaled atop the vagabond's walking-stick. The worrisome animal in this case is a spotted cat or leopard. The tramp advances toward a riverbank or ditch. He is decrepit and deliberately comical, the antithesis of the radiant youth that, at later dates, would be conceived by A.E. Waite and others.

Early Occult Tarots: Images and/or Descriptions