Antoine Court de Gébelin

(January 25, 1725 – May 10, 1784)

   Antoine Court was a Protestant pastor in then rather untolerant and mostly Roman Catholic France. His father was Antoine Court, a religious leader of the Huguenots, members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France. He adopted the surname of his grandmother - Gebelin.

   In 1771 he became a member of the Freemason lodge of Les Neuf Sœurs, the lodge where member was also Benjamin Franklin. No wonder he was a strong supporter of American Independence. He was a man of the many interests. His consideration about nature of the human language at that time was so revolutionary that today he is deemed a pioneer of linguistics. He was a scholar in etimology, history of symbology and mythology, he wrote extensively about history of calendar, he also wrote about economics and mesmerism.

 He considered this contemporary civlization not to be the most civilized in history but that there was a Golden Age in the human earliest history with a global civilization that was enlightened and much more advanced. 

  His viewpoint on the Tarot was that it was a repository of the ancient knowledge Egyptian priests encoded into the images. He was in the possesion of the Tarot de Marseille, Nicolas Conver deck. That deck has some allegedly Egyptian symbols like the winged Sphynx in The Wheel of Fortune but in the late 20th century some excavation in the southern France around the city of Marseille revealed that some ancient cults worshiped the image of the similar creatures thus raising a suspicion that this symbols are of the European origin after all. On the other hand, he claimed that the Tarot has the Egyptian origin and that through the Roman conquest of Egypt it was brought to Rome and than to the city of Avignon in 14th century (time of Avignon Papacy) where it became a part of the French occult practice. In the series of essays called Le Monde primitif, analysé et comparé avec le monde moderne (The Primeval World, Analyzed and Compared to the Modern World) Court de Gebelin had been publishing in that time, Comte de Mellet first mentioned a mystical connection between 22 cards od Major Arcana and 22 Hebrew letters. Soon after that a french writer with a pseudonym Etteilla pusblished a tehnique for reading the Tarot cards and this divination method was born.