If it is the Tarot which is in the bag of Le mat, as we suppose sometimes, the spoon which is used as support for this bag would indicate that it’s content is food. And the length of the spoon’s handle suggests that Le mat does not eat this food himself and that he probably keeps a respectful distance vis-a-vis those which he feeds. In the same way, those who are nourished must be a little wary of this spoon.
Because it is a ladle… (In India, the ladle was a sacred instrument. The sacred ladle was made of wood of acacia.) And in French, the word ladle is louche, like in shady character. Loucher, to slant, suggests to show ambivalence. We know that to keep the course between the poles of ambivalence was at the base of the daily steps of the monks who embraced this aspect of the neoplatonician philosophy. Nicolas de Cues, a philosopher at the beginning of the Renaissance, does not fear to propose in his writings that it is necessary to deny what one has just affirmed. It is a question of creating totalities, to join together the opposites. De Cues thus professed the radical neoplatonism of Jean Scott Érigène, a philosopher of IXth century called The Commentator (of the writings of Denis Aréopagite). The philosophers of the centuries which follow, the benedictine school of Auxerre in particular, are indebted to the translations of Érigène, of the school of Denis. Erigene professes that it is in conformity with the truth and exactitude to deny God rather than to affirm It at all. It is negative neoplatonician theology.
I believe personnally that certain templars ritual as spitting on the cross before going to communion, for example, were inspired by this philosophy. They are easily perceived like pure and simple heresy. Erigene’s works were put on the Index in XIIIth century. Some of his books were even burned.
But in the XIIth century, many monks, like Bernard de Clairvaux, do not hesitate to embrace the negative definition of God given by the Aréopagite. For this thinker, God is ¨pur néant¨, pure nothingness. This assertion is the base of his Negative theology known also as Apophatic. ¨(…) it is not truer to affirm that God is Life and Kindness than to affirm that it is air or stone.¨ (Mircea Eliade, Histoire des croyances et des idées religieuses, tome I, p. 67)
He also speaks of the luminosity of darkness. Extrapolating a little, while making plays on words like a true XIIth century scholar, one can say that the term emptiness applies as much to God as the term fullness. The word emptiness, vide in French, is an anagram of Diev, God.
And it is here that we come back to Tarot.
Let’s return to the bag carried by Le mat. We saw that it is anchored on the shoulder of the character by means of a spoon or a ladle. We deduced from this fact that its content was food.
Let us examine this bag. We note the presence of many folds which indicate that its fabric is not streched. The bag is empty (vide …). We will now indulge in a small etymological investigation. The image of the fool, Le mat, is extremely popular in the Middle Ages. This character leads the cast in the so called Sotties, popular plays enjoyed by the nobility and common folks alike that will eventuallly appear in print centuries later. He is called the fol, the fou or better, le sot.
The origin of the sot word is unknown. As for fol and fou they come from the Latin word follis. This word means bag. It is thus logical to give a bag as an accessory to the character. But follis also means balloon full of air…
The bag is empty indeed !
It is a neoplatonician way of saying that it is also full. As Diev (vide, empty) is pure nothingness according to the neoplatonician school of thought of the times, one can conclude that the Deity is in the bag of Le mat. That it is possible to reach It directly through the symbolic use of the ladle.
The bag would initially be opened. One unties the lace which encircles the opening. And how do we name this opening? An ear! Latin word, auricula… And precisely, at the other end of the stick, the auricular, the small finger of the character, is missing.
It will be noted that the eyes of Le mat are turned towards the sky, his head is tilted downwards and by doing this, the right ear (also missing…) is against this opening, the ear of the bag. And yes, this ear is also a mouth (bouche) which is appropriate because in French the word rhymes with ladle (louche). (The word mouth, in French as in English, is given to all openings.)
Mouth and/or ear, we are talking of an opening which makes it possible to hear the Verb. We are speaking about communion with a spiritual food. The content of the bag is then much more than the Tarot, this oracle we supposed the presence at the beginning of this article. This content, it is the presence of God himself, His voice, the Verb, which is seeked by the neoplatonician adept to express Itself, His will, His plans.
What surrounds It, the fabric of the bag, the sacred laddle, the character, the card deck even, that is the oracle. Le mat bears a burden that is light and heavy at the same time.
( See also: The word tarot is a coded form of the word oracle.)
Translation by Rom, with the help of Babelfish.