Dodal’s Secret Code

Note: This article is intended for English speakers with notions of French

When Xavier introduced me to the Tarot de Marseille, it was a first for me. He explained to me the major mysteries according to the reading of his late friend Jean-Claude Flornoy, emphasizing the importance of every detail of the text and the image. This game is a code, he told me, everything is meaningful. It remained engraved. And it paid off.

The first tarot game I had in my hands is that of Jean Dodal, restored according to the original by the master cartier Jean-Claude Flornoy. I flashed on it. For weeks, encouraged by Xavier, I found significant details and built hypotheses. Today I can offer you an unpublished interpretation of the 22 major arcana of the Dodal.

The oldest tarot cards were found in Italy in the 15th century. The Italian word tarocco and the French word tarot are mentioned for the first time in the early 16th century. I dare to believe that the tarot got much earlier origins, it has been interpreted by the masters over the centuries, and it is still today.

The so-called tarot of Marseille designates a set of cards with Latin signs (cups, swords, batons and coins) which have the distinction of having a fifth sequence of twenty-two cards numbered at the top and with their names at the bottom of the cards. They are called major arcana, assets or tarot blades. Two exceptions: the arcanum XIII has no name, and the arcanum Le Fol or Le Mat,The Mad has no number.

The point code

The first thing that struck me, strangely, are the points and signs arranged in the names of the arcana. Remember that every detail counts, the colors, the names, and the oddness … especially in a treasure hunt!

The Masonic companions used to use three points forming a triangle servant and serving as an abbreviation in their titles, as a sign of recognition. Dodal also disseminates points in the titles of the assets of his tarot, apparently insignificant.

These small dots that seem randomly arranged are anything but harmless. I see so many clues of …? of something. But of what ? Suddenly the light came to me: they give a different order of numbering. An order of importance?

We can rely on the careful restoration accomplished by Jean-Claude Flornoy. Craftsman conscientious, passionate, he worked from the originals kept at the National Library in order to reproduce as accurately as possible the features and colors of the cards as they came out of the printing press Jean Dodal in Lyon there are three centuries.

In the tarot of Jean Dodal, and only in this one, a code is hidden behind the points (or diamonds) which appear in the names of the assets. I took my magnifying glass and I scanned. By assembling arcana with similar dot-codes, groups of three cards are formed.

– A first without any point: IMPERATRIS, LEPAPE, LEMPEREUR
– A second with the point on the left: • LESOLEIL • THE BATELEUR, • THE INCREASE
– A third group with the point between the determinant and the name: THE TOILET, THE MOON, THE CHARIOR
– A fourth with the point on the right: IVSTICE ♦, LEMONDE •, TEMPERANCE ♦.

For the remaining cards, the grouping is more delicate: there are still 5 cards with two points. • FORCE ♦ and ♦ LERMITE ♦ having the same disposition, namely a point at the beginning and at the end of the word, I decide to assemble them, and the three other assets: • LA • MOVREV, LA • MAISON • DIEV, LE • FOL • form the fifth group of cards.

There remain 4 arcana with 3 points, the arcana II, X, XII and XV. The arcanum • THE • PANDU • has the distinction of being numbered “IIX” and not “XII” as it should be. Dodal wants to draw our attention to this unknown Roman numeral, which can be broken down into II and X. So I decide to associate it with the arcana II • LA • PANCES • and X LA • ROVE • DE • FORTVN, which thus form the seventh group. By elimination, the sixth group will have the remaining strengths: • LE • DIABLE ♦, • FORCE ♦ and ♦ LERMITE ♦.

Groups of three completed, I got to give them an order. I place them up and down, the top three pointless cards, then, according to our traditional reading direction from left to right, I place those with a point on the left, which form the second trio. Then those with a point in the middle will form the third trio, and so on.

LE • FOL • does not display a number, I decide to give it the value 22. This is justified by the reading of Jean-Claude Flornoy, Le Mat or Le Fol represents the highest possible degree on the internal path that describe the major arcana. With the fol = 22, the sum of the numbers of the major arcana is of 240. without counting the arcanum XIII without name thus without code point, which I put aside. I got a flash in my head.

I remember that at the beginning of the 18th century, date of the birth of the tarot Dodal, the monetary system of the French kingdom was duodecimal: the French pound was divided into 20 pence, each penny being divided into 12 deniers.cents The pound is worth 240 deniers. Chance or not? Xavier would say that chance does not exist. Let’s not forget that the tarot was born in gambling dens like a gambling game, and not as a divinatory tool on the green table of cartomanciennes. This number 240 was obviously familiar to the players of the time.

Looking for a balance in the columns, I find thanks to a spreadsheet a combination for which the sum of the number of the arcana in each column is equal to 80.

In the Greek numeral system, 80 is associated with π, the number pi, the circumference of a circle of diameter 1.

Fast mathematical reasoning: three columns π, so three circles. This symbolism of three associated circles, entwined or not, is widespread: they are called Borromean rings or quicumque. It is likened to Celtic triskell or Tibetan gankyil.

Also, the fraction 22/7 (= 3,1428) was used as the simplest approximation of the number pi. Gold 22 and 7 are two key numbers in the major arcana,

The tarot uses as much as it can of the language of the goslings. Rotta is one of his anagrams, it’s tarot verlan. In Latin, still very used at this time, rota is the wheel. Arcane X is named The Wheel of Fortune. At multiple levels, the tarot represents a cycle. From galaxies to planets, from the infinitely large to the infinitely small, everything turns: the moon, the seasons, the hours, the seconds, our DNA, and the electrons around the atomic nucleus. At the speed when everything turns, it’s a good thing that the furniture stays in place in the living room.

One by one, the little mysteries of this disposition have become obvious. After long periods of doubt, they will confirm the likelihood of this code-point.


In the center of this disposition, the last arcane numbered: XXI LEMONDE •, the world.
21 grams is the mass of the soul according to Duncan MacDougall. The accents being absent it is also read: the pruned. To prune is to purify, to clean; but also remove the skin, the envelope of a fruit, here in this case the almond (the soul in two would say Mother Goose) represented by the central figure in a mandorle.almond He is an androgynous who is represented, half-naked he has nothing to hide, no weapon or shield he no longer needs. Half-man, half-woman, as much man as woman.

At the time of the eternal war of the sexes, it is the best model that can be. All men are not idiots, same for women. This is only one way of looking at things in relation to the disappointments we have all experienced. It is inside that it happens first, dealing with making peace with oneself, with the man and the woman that each one has inside, because they are both beautiful and good. Before you can make peace and love all the men and women of the world.

The androgynous arcanum LEMONDE • has reached the end of the spiritual journey described in the Flornoy version tarot. Path that takes place on a life; or on the scale of the soul which is reincarnated, over several lives: at the right moment, we take again where we had arrived.

The Arcane LEMONDE • is like a way out of this plan for others, regardless of the path traveled and to go, it is balanced and centered that it will be possible to cross the threshold. By rigorously following the middle path perfectly represented by this trio, with justice (IVSTICE ♦) and temperance (TEMPERANCE ♦), the two cardinal virtues that accompany LEMONDE •.

Follow the way of the middle, yes but it often leans, like the scale of IVSTICE ♦ which itself has trouble keeping it balanced …


At the head of this arrangement is the Arcanum trio III – IMPERATRIS, V – LEPAPE, IIII – LEMPEREVR.
THE POPE, in the center, has a butt and a tiara formed of three superimposed crowns, symbol of his triple power. With his right hand he gives his blessing to LEMPEREVR, and, aligned with the two fingers stretched by his hand: the second cross patted with the second hand of the pope, and on the right-hand arcane, the cross patté of the scepter, the symbol 4 , and the number of the arcanum: IIII. Moreover the emperor forms a four with his legs.

A triangle with 3-4-5 proportions is a right triangle. Its many properties have enabled cathedral builders to build buildings with a simple rope at 13 knots. This triangle is called the sacred triangle but also the Isis triangle or isiacal triangle, in honor of the Egyptian trinity Isis – Osiris – Horus. Trinity represented on these royal arcana: Isis – the IMPERATRIS, whose pyramidal headdress is imagined, Osiris – LEPAPE, Horus – LEMPEREVR where one recognizes the eye of Horus in his astonishing crown.
The number 4, which LEMPEREUR looks at, also represents the symbol of Pythagoras’ theorem.


•LE♦PANDV• is found upside down, at the bottom of this layout, as its character upside down.
•LA•PANCES• also, unlike trio 3-5-4: why place it here, when it should have its place alongside the trio imperatris – lepape – the emperor?

Usually called Papesse in other tarots, this name is a peculiarity to that of Dodal. She has a double crown, double as her number II, but instead of a badge of power, she has an open book on an apparent fatness.

Curiously, it is associated with two cards with rather negative connotations: • THE ♦ PANDV • the spreading spreads, which extends upside down; and LA • ROVE • DE • FORTVN: In the 18th century, fortune means luck or bad luck, as in the expression “fortune of the sea”.

Saint in appearance, • THE PANCES • has a second face of a wolf, with its strange chin that looks like a muzzle. We can see it better when the nose disappears … An “L” is printed in the blue of his toga – on his pawn, precisely! Is this the mark of the Wolf?

On his breast, in white and flesh color, appears what seems to be a virile member … This arcane would it have a link with the legend of Pope Joan? In 855, travesty, she is named Pope John VIII. She puts a child in a procession. The scandalized crowd stone it immediately. We do not know the fate of the child.

What is known, however, is that since then, to avoid a new scandal, the custom is to feel the testicles of the new elected sitting on a pierced chair. If the examination is conclusive, the celebrant says with a loud voice: Habemus papam! We have a pope ! And not a popess …


Now it becomes more touchy … I have the idea to add the numbers of the arcana, which gives: 19 + 1 = 20, yeah! And it is true that by associating the images / characters of the two arcana 19 and 1, we got kind of arcanum 20 … Otherwise I am completely stumped.


The indigo blue, sky blue, green, golden yellow, red and flesh pink are the six shades used to color the game. All cards use these six colors, sometimes they are represented by a small detail. All except the arcana of this trio, which lacks the indigo blue. Arcane XIII that I put aside, uses only 4 colors.
Their common point: none of the three cards contains the color royal blue, yet present on each of the other cards.included on the arcane XIII, which is yet only 4 colors


THE FOL who is free of numbers, free of everything, has in his backpack: a ladder. Would it be Jacob’s ladder? A way to rise above the human condition?


In the center, the character of the arcane • FORCE ♦ perfectly masters his, represented by the lion that he holds by the jaws.
• LE • DIABLE ♦, not mastering his power, dark and rampant in all his excesses. The evil forces are just as magnetic as they can be grasped without effort.
In contrast, the old man represented by ♦ LERMITE ♦ stands arched and seems fragile.

Taking stock on the code

In this arrangement, the arcanes opposed by central symmetry (center in Le Monde) reveal original common points:
– The crossed legs forming a 4, green and blue, bare feet, of the emperor are reversed but similar to those of pandu …
– The pope is the opposite of the pances.
The features of the angel of judgment are the same as those of the angel of the devil, they have wings both. And if the judge lies, he may be the devil himself.
– The headdresses of the mountebank and that of the character of the Force arcane are similar and are the only ones of this type in the major arcana: in the form of eight horizontal, symbol of the infinite, the one finished. One is the number of the Arcane of the Bateleur.
– The characters of La Mourevl’amoureux: The Lover and Chariorle chariot : The Chariot have the same face, face, and are each faced with a similar dilemma. The two women like the two horses want to take the man each in his direction: opposite.
– One of the two children of the Sun is one-eyed, his “only eye”seul œil = soleil burned by the overwhelming light of the sun. On the contrary, the hermit looks for light and must light up with a dull lantern.

Between the other pairs, other links are made, but they are less remarkable. These pairs overlap with the asset Le Monde, we can see a notion of Tao (tarot?): That of the unity of opposites.

My analysis of the point code, based on the originals, is the decoding of a message transmitted by Jean Dodal, contained only in his tarot, and more precisely in the 21 major arcana bearing a name. Only the arcane XIII, without name, so without the code-point, was set aside in this analysis.

I have found this new order which seems to me indisputable, but I can not detect the hidden meaning. Initiation is a grace that can be kept waiting. Jean-Claude Flornoy understood the meaning of arcana in the order of numbers with a flash. I will wait until the same fate falls to me.


to be continued…