Tarot Trump IX: Father Time
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If this looks a little obscure, that is because it references an older image - the ninth trump was not always The Hermit, it only became The Hermit after a mistake - we know this from both early cards and written sources.
When card makers wanted to create a tarot pack, they would have to copy the designs of another maker and carve their own wood blocks. As tarot spread, it moved far from where some of its references were familiar and with each successive copy, details would change in a pictorial variation of Chinese Whispers.
This is how Temperance got her wings. Originally seated, with the corners of her chair's back just showing above each shoulder, from copy to copy, those corners became increasingly curved, until the French copiers interpreted them as the tops of wings and made them obviously so.
But while Temperance retained her identity, the single altered detail in the ninth trump had a more dramatic effect.
What was mistaken for a lantern was in fact an hour glass - the ninth trump was Old Father Time!
Sadly, I'm not sure that my own hour glass is not clear enough.
- December 31, 2009
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