The Key of it All

Much and often people do speak of the so-called Sacred Languages, Astrology as many see would be one, also the Tarot. Few people have taken the Sacred Languages so literally and have explored and studied them with such meticulousness and patience as the man whose books I would like to talk about here.

David Allen Hulse’s work “The Key of it All”, in three extensive volumes, not only provides an incredibly detailed introduction and presentation of the Sacred Languages, but also brings them in their entirety – and what much could have been overlooked in this Opus Magnum – into a system, a sacred system one could even rightly claim. The author is in no way prejudiced by any popular or superficially important “system”, a particular occult school, or a special esoteric doctrine. This is what makes his large collection of tables so fresh and yes, so little dry. Hulse conjures up correspondences and juggles with sacred signs and letters, literally so many of them that one cannot help but be stunningly amazed. He has by no means avoided personal risks in this self-imposed mammoth task. What he presents in the first two volumes seems to be the rich harvest of years of skirmish and struggle for understanding and knowledge. Others would fill hundreds of books with a fraction of his content, but loquaciousness is not something Hulse is interested in. Thus his books remain an invaluable compendium of magickal knowledge and at the same time this work naturally refuses to succeed in the esoteric marketplace, where all too often empty words are twisted and turned around and texts are reformulated and paraphrased and offered for sale again.

What do volumes one and two contain? “The Eastern Mysteries”, Volume 1 of the trilogy, provides everything you need to know as a magickally operating zelator or even ipsissimus (beginner or perfect master) about the languages Cuneiform, Hebrew, Arabic, Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese. “The Western Mysteries”, volume 2 of the trilogy, covers the languages Greek, Coptic, Runes, Latin, Enochian, Tarot and English. Each volume, currently available from Llewellyn Publications, contains approximately 600 pages. It is a concentrate of knowledge, without any superfluous words, concise and presented to the point. The explanatory texts to the hundreds of tables are written fluently and concisely, without vanity or pride in such immense treasures of knowledge. What knowledge? In essence, it is the connection between number and word, the mitochondrion of all true magick. The fact that Hulse focuses on this aspect makes this table almanac so infinitely useful and practical. No theories or mantras are spread out here, here letter is measured with number and number with letter. And everything in the reader calls for the final volume of the trilogy, which has not yet been published. In this third volume, the author does not plan to find and study other sacred languages (of course there are, but the totality of such a task may not be realized in one human life), no, in this third volume his aim is to put number first.

The age-old dream of a magickal Thesaurus, in this upcoming third volume of “The Key of it All” it will come true. The author’s knowledge is enormous and his cardboxes must be countless. Just imagine this for a moment: for each number, say between one and ten thousand, all the words of all these languages are listed that are magickally connected (others use the term Qabalah, Gematria or Isopsephy here) with that number. For what purpose? Because this connection between quantity and content surely is the lost Master Argument of antiquity, nothing more and nothing less. The knowing one will nod, the ignorant will not be touched by it.

I am not different from probably many other of his readers; I can‘t hardly wait for the publication of this third volume of his phenomenal study; science and religion––– this is where they align. Hooray for the author: his Thesaurus will be considered by posterity as a milestone at the turn of the ages.

Under the influence

The Orange Luna Tarot definitely is a Marseille-inspired tarot. But there are more important influences as You might see on the first glance. Here we will show how other tarot decks imbued the designs of our cards. First of all a comparison of the Emperor card between the Tarot de Marseille (edit. Paul Marteau) and the Orange Luna Tarot. As Valentin Tomberg in his „Meditations on the Tarot“ points out, it is a significant detail that the Emperor is without weapons and that he is neither standing nor sitting: „The Emperor has renounced ease, being not seated. He has renounced walking, being in a leaning position and having his legs crossed. He may neither advance in order to take the offensive, nor move back in order to retreat. His station is by his seat and his coat-of-arms. He is on sentry-duty and as such he does not have freedom of movement. He is a guardian bond to his post. […] Authority demands this.“

The overall design of the Orange Luna Tarot is inspired by the beautiful artwork of the Grand Etteilla Tarot dating back in the late 18th/ early 19th century (etchings by unknown hand from the company Basan et Poignant, Paris). Etteilla was the first to create a tarot deck solely intended for esoteric use. Although he was an influential figure in the history of tarot, most of his work has been discarded. The example card here is taken from the Hungarian Edition of the Orange Luna Tarot, translated by Katalin Patnaik. Up to now the deck is available in English, Spanish, Italian, German, Hungarian and Bavarian language version.

Orange Luna Tarot

One of the most beautiful tarot decks, the original Papus Tarot Divinatoire, was designed by Gabriel Goulinat in 1889. Here You can see how the Strenght card of the Orange Luna Tarot was inspired by Goulinats drawing. The example is taken from the Line-Art Edition of the Orange Luna Tarot printed in black & white, suitable to be coloured by the owner of the deck herself.

Orange Luna Tarot

While most of the Major Arcana of the Orange Luna Tarot refer directly to the Tarot de Marseille, there are some cards that are modelled after other patterns. To be more precisley, each trump card combines elements from different sources. Here You can see the Fool of the italian 19th century Soprafino Tarot by Carlo Dellarocca compared to the Fool of the Orange Luna Tarot: the affinity is clear but the detail of tattered trousers remains true to the Marseille pattern.
As can be seen on this example, the correlation of the trump cards with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet follows the lexicon-theory of Mark Filipas. In 2001 he suggested that the Tarot de Marseille is but a “visual abecedarium” of the Hebrew alphabet. However, the Fool in the Orange Luna Tarot bears another attribute, which is original to our tarot deck: the Fool is assigned to the zodiacal sign of Aries.

Orange Luna Tarot

Although there is not much reference to the popular Rider-Waite Tarot, designed by Pamela Coleman Smith in 1910, some cards of the Orange Luna Tarot are paying homage to this famous deck of cards.

This is the deck I probably studied the most: the Builders of the Adytum Tarot, conceived by Paul Foster Case, designed by Jessie Burns Parke and first published in 1931. I did attend the lectures of the Builders of the Adytum for some time. Although the Orange Luna Tarot does not follow the BOTA Tarot in most of its interpretations, this cards had an important impact on how I got acquainted with the tarot.

Another card of the Orange Luna Tarot modelled after is the Oswald Wirth Tarot, first designed in 1889 by Oswald Wirth after instructions of Stanislas de Guaita. The 19th century originals of the 22 trumps are more subtle and beautiful than the later edition of 1925, the renderings by Georg Alexander of 1960 or even the later re-editions. The 2018 Black Edition of the Orange Luna Tarot adds some details missing in the first edition: money is falling now out of the bags of the Hanged Man like in the Oswald Wirth Tarot and an his white haired head is illumined by an halo, just as in the BOTA-Tarot. The other main difference between the first and the Black Edition of the Orange Luna Tarot: the Fool and the Juggler exchange their beard style.

Here You see a comparison of the Knight of Cups out of Robert M. Place’s Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery and the equivalent card of our Orange Luna Tarot.

When I stayed in Buenos Aires in 2014 I had the chance to visit the impressive Xul Solar Museum and to get a copy of the inventive Xul Solar Tarot. The message I grabbed from these cards is that no symbolic system has to be followed in an orthodox way and being an artist means to happily discover and construct new approaches to the ever hiding mystery of life and existence. In this spirit we applied a new correspondence of the zodiacal signs to the trumps of the tarot – here You see the Juggler with the sign of Taurus – and felt free to develop new images for most of the Minor Arcana.

One card of the Orange Luna Tarot makes a big step away from the Marseilles pattern, this is the Major Arcanum #15. The reason is that I couldn’t achieve a satisfying rendering of the grotesque figure displayed in the Tarot de Marseilles. So I did follow the more intriguing and spooky appearance given by the Rider-Waite Tarot or the BOTA Tarot which is clearly influenced of the famous rendering by Eliphas Levi depicted here. Fittingly chosen here is the Devil Card of the 2018 Black Edition of the Orange Luna Tarot.

The Orange Luna Tarot is a truly cosmopolitan Tarot, proofed by the fact of being realised in an Atlantic crossing Argentine-German collaboration. It would not have become reality without the brilliant inspiration, the wealth of ideas and the tireless support of my dear friend Alejandro Christian Luna from Buenos Aires. Together we realised the astrology deck Visual Zodiac in 2013/2014, together we invented the Orange Luna Tarot and our friendship cooperation still connects us today. A Bavarian getting to know Buenos Aires („la ciudad de la furia“), an Argentinean travelling through Berlin, Munich and even Würzburg. The cards shown here is the 4 of Wands of the Bavarian Edition of the Orange Luna Tarot, accompanied by the Virgo-Aquarius card of the Classic Edition of the Visual Zodiac.