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Tarot History Search started September 2004       

Michael S. Howard

Michael S. Howard lives in Portland, Oregon, USA.

Mike began contributing to tarot forums in 2008. Before tarot he focused on Shakespeare, looking at his plays in terms of alchemy and Renaissance humanistic culture, especially that of late 15th century Italy. One expression of these ideas is a blog Mike wrote on Hamlet. Some of its more tarot-like entries, relating the characters to planets, are posted at http://hermetichamletslideshow.blogspot.com/. This blog started out as a Ph.D. dissertation and evolved into a slide show.

Mike’s interest in tarot is an extension of his interest in Shakespeare and the Renaissance. Mike’s main interest is in reconstructing, by means of historical documents and images, how educated people during the 15th-18th centuries might have interpreted the cards in terms of various wisdom traditions, including Christianity, Christian Kabbalah, ancient Greek and Roman writings (in religion, history, literature, and philosophy), and alchemy. His view (link 6 below) is that the cards were seen as hieroglyphs, i.e. images with meanings hidden from the ignorant; to unravel their meanings was to unlock the wisdom held therein. Mike similarly seeks to unravel meanings, building on the work of other researchers, but through an understanding of the times and situation based on publicly available documents. He has an old blog, which he is now in the process of revising, outlining parts of his perspective, at 22invocationsofdionysus. He has been developing his views on Aeclectic Tarot Forum (ATF) and Tarot History Forum (THF); see links below. Other people’s responses have greatly contributed to his understanding. He uses the name "MikeH" on ATF and "mikeh" on THF.

Mike’s professional background is in academic philosophy and clinical psychology. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. He once attended a seminar taught by the British philosopher Michael Dummett. Mike had a hard time believing that Dummett was also the tarot historian by that name.

Foreign Links:
  • Pico’s 900 Theses and Boiardo’s poem: starts at Forum-Link
  • Marseille tarot and the sefiroth of the Christian Kabbalah, 1486-1533, at latinsephiroth
  • Image transformation Michelino-CY-PMB. THF discussion begins Forum-Link. See e.g. Forum-Link. Earlier on ATF, Forum-Link
  • “Bologna” origin theory discussion; origin of Fool card. Examples: Forum-Link, and Forum-Link.
  • “Tarot of Mantegna” discussion, starts Forum-Link. Continues at http://forum.tarothistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=637">Forum-Link.
  • Historical tarot as “hieroglyphs,” starts Forum-Link
  • Neopythagorean documents applied to Sola-Busca pips and courts, extended to Marseille trumps. Starts Forum-Link. Also Forum-Link
  • Noblet courts in relation to Shakespeare, Italian novellas, and Greco-Roman historical literature. Forum-Link
  • Tarot and alchemy, 1400-1700. (This has been his main focus in 2011.) Forum-Link ff; and Forum-Link ff.
  • Many posts in THF’s “Bianca’s Garden,” documenting historical bases for Christian, Greco-Egyptian, Greco-Roman, alchemical, and Christian Kabbalist (1486-1518) associations for pre-de Gebelin trumps: Forum-Link. Also (Chariot) Forum-Link f.; Star Forum-Link ff.
  • Etteilla's and his school's writings and card designs, starting at Forum-Link

Giovanni Pico de Mirandola

Michael started his explorations with a comparison of Pico's 900 thesis and the Boiardo Tarocchi poem









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