The First Systematic Integration
of Tarot and Astrology: Etteilla’s
Correspondences and Divinatory Method

Etteilla’s method is dependent on attributing zodiac signs, planets, and other astrological concepts to specific cards.  A horoscope is derived from the spread by interpolating the Tarot attributions (see appendices A and B).  One may use this technique with a wide range of Tarot decks.  However, using a deck closely based on Etteilla’s original deck, e.g., Grand Etteilla: Ou Tarots Égyptiens [Grand Etteilla: Or Egyptian Tarot]48 is preferable; correspondences appear on the appropriate cards.  The Tarot de Marseille is another tarot deck that will replicate these attributions, and was probably used by Etteilla.  A unique feature of Etteilla’s attributions is his assignment of the two lunar nodes and the Part of Fortune (see Appendix B).  Please note that this Tarot spread uses all of the cards in the deck, so it is somewhat lengthy.  A large table is a real asset.

Astrology is complex, and it is very time-consuming to construct a chart by hand.  Since Etteilla did not have computers to erect charts, of necessity, any astrological work he did would have been demanding.  This original Tarot technique would have provided many benefits for him in his practice.  He may have developed and used it for individuals who did not know their birth data.  He may have also offered it as a less expensive alternative to erecting a chart by hand from astronomical data tables.  Finally, this method is an ingenious shortcut for creating a horary chart for specific questions.

Horary charts are created, or cast, by erecting a chart for the exact moment a question is asked.  The resulting chart is interpreted to answer the question by determining which planets fall into which houses, specifically the houses relevant to the question at hand.  Without modern tools, this method requires several complex calculations.  The rules for horary astrology are time-honored standards, as this method has been in popular use since medieval times.

Step 1.  The querent asks a question.49

Step 2.  Separate the 12 zodiacal Trump from the deck. The 12 zodiacal Trumps from the deck—the list of Etteilla’s correspondences between cards and zodiac signs—is provided in Appendix ASpread these in a 12-house arrangement using the current Sun sign for the first house. The example spread for the fictitious querent, Sue Smith, found in Appendix D, is dated March 12, 2002.  The Sun is in Pisces, and the card for Pisces occupies the first house, then Aries for the 2d house, Taurus for the 3d house, and so on, following through the natural order of the zodiac.  The dates when the Sun is in each sign of the zodiac is provided in Appendix A.  On dates when the Sun is preparing to move from one sign to another (i.e., around March 21st, when the Sun is leaving Pisces and moving into Aries), check an astrological calendar for the exact date of this transit, or follow your intuition about which sign’s energy seems to be strongest on the day of the reading.50

Step 3.  The remaining cards are shuffled while focusing on the specific question. Spread cards, starting with the 1st house, 2d house, 3d house; through the 12th house.  Continue spreading cards around the circle until all of the cards are placed.  The first twelve cards dealt occupy the number 1 position in each house in the spread form.  The 13th card from the deck becomes the second card in the First House.  The first six houses will contain six cards each; the 7th–12th houses will have five cards each.51  On the blank Tarot layout form (Appendix H), spaces are provided to note both the zodiac cards in the houses (12 cards), and all of the cards that are dealt to each house (66 cards).

Step 4.  Read the cards by interpreting specified card pairs in a specified order without special reference to astrology.  This part of the technique is exclusively Tarot-related, and extremely in-depth.  The card pairs are analyzed from various standpoints for their meanings.  This part of Etteilla’s method, which belies concise summarization, is unrelated to astrology; therefore, a description of it falls outside the scope of this article.  Interested readers may consult appropriate sources for a complete description.52

One may adapt this step of Etteilla’s method by first deciding which house best reflects the subject matter most closely related to the querent’s question.  Appendix C provides a delineation of the 12 houses.  A question about love would be a subject of the 5th house; a question about career a subject of the 10th.  Simply interpret the five or six cards contained in the relevant house as a preliminary answer to the question using meanings attributed by Etteilla and others.53  In the example reading of Appendix D, the question is about a new boyfriend, so the 6 cards in the 5th house would be interpreted as a Tarot sequence.

Step 5.  Review the card piles for each house, and determine which houses contain the ten Coin pip cards.  Note these locations, and construct a chart by transferring the planetary attributions to a horoscope form (provided in Appendix I).  When transferring the spread from its initial Tarot format to the horoscope format, remember to add in the correct zodiac signs for the 12 houses, as shown in Appendix E.  A space around the edge of the horoscope form is included to note the Coin cards; the planets are noted as glyphs within the central wheel as they would be in an actual horoscope.

Step 6.  Interpret the resulting chart using astrological techniques.  Tips on interpreting the horoscope are provided later, and demonstrated in Step 6 of the example chart interpretation.

By way of gentle advice to those who experiment with this method, there are a few procedural techniques that have been found to ease the process.  First, when dealing the cards around the 12 zodiac card circle, spread them face down.  Moving to Step 4, turn the pile of cards in the question-related house to face up, and interpret these as you would a five or six card Tarot spread.  In Step 5, go through the 12 piles of cards sequentially, from the 1st house through the 12th house, and note them in the spread form.  When notations for a house are complete, if Coin pip cards have appeared in that house’s pile, keep them face up and reverse the remaining pile of non-Coin pip cards.  Constructing the horoscope is much easier if only the relevant Coin cards are visible.

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Copyright © 2003 Elizabeth M. Hazel & James W. Revak.  All rights reserved.  (10/25/03).