The Influence of Etteilla &
His School on Mathers & Waite
By James W. Revak



The changes in Version 1.1 are modest.  Perhaps the most important changes comprise the division of the report into a greater number of pages to optimize download times.  To optimize these times further, many illustrations are presented in smaller formats than previously.  However, in all such cases the reader has the option of clicking on the images to obtain larger ones.


This research report treats the renowned eighteenth-century French occultist Etteilla who was instrumental in the early development of the esoteric Tarot.  Specifically, it focuses on his influence on later occultists, with special attention paid to his impact on S. L. MacGregor Mathers and A. E. Waite.

I have chosen to conduct this research and publish detailed results because, despite the leading role played by Etteilla in the development of the esoteric Tarot, he has often received little credit for his achievements.

I have chosen to write this report in a technical or academic style to begin to correct a serious deficiency in literature pertaining to Tarot in general and Etteilla specifically.  Rigorous research into Tarot has been a sporadic affair at best and the literature abounds with misinformation, error, and shoddy documentation.  This certainly extends to the subject of Etteilla and his school of disciples.  Time and again, with regard to them, I confronted misinformation, error, and blatant propaganda in the literature.

For the reader who is unfamiliar with technical or academic research literature, please know that, in part, it requires the author to document his or her findings in a fastidiously detailed manner and I have striven to do just that.  Therefore, the reader will find numerous citations throughout this report.  I have generally adhered to the requirements of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, a widely recognized authority with regard to academic and research paper style.  Generally, sources are cited by name of author and date of publication in the text; thus avoiding the tedium of footnotes.  In the case of works which have been translated from a foreign language, both the date of publication of the original work and that of the translation were provided.  To learn more about any source, the reader is encouraged to turn to the complete list of references accompanying this report.

Readers who have a special interest in divinatory meanings assigned to Tarot cards by the School of Etteilla, Mathers, and Waite, are invited to read the author’s Tarot Divination: Three Parallel Traditions, which is also available via the World Wide Web.  This work includes, apparently for the first time ever, significant selections from the output of the School of Etteilla in English translation.

Finally, I am indebted to Mary K. Greer who first drew my attention to the fact that some divinatory meanings assigned to cards by contemporary practitioners of Tarot parallel those of Etteilla and his disciples, as presented in Papus’ Le Tarot divinatoire.


Copyright © 2000 James W. Revak.  All rights reserved.  Version 1.1 (8/19/00).