Etteilla in English

Tarot card with sun breaking through clouds, labeled Etteilla.
Card 1 from the Grand Etteilla Tarot (source: National Library of France)

On this page, you can find English meanings for every card in the Grand Etteilla tarot deck.

Etteilla (Jean-Baptiste Alliette) was a French cartomancer active in the 18th century. He was one of the first people to popularize a system of meanings for every card in the tarot deck, including upright and reversed meanings. The Etteilla system is the foundation for most divinatory tarot today, notably for the minor arcana of the famous Smith-Waite tarot deck.

Two fortune-telling decks bear Etteilla’s name. The Petit Etteilla is based on a 32-card French-suited piquet deck. The Grand Etteilla is based on a 78-card tarot deck, and generally expands on the Petit Etteilla meanings. Here, we will deal with the Grand Etteilla tarot.

Etteilla’s work is old enough to be in the public domain, and you can find many books and decks online in French. However, there are very few resources on Etteilla in English. I set up these pages as a reference for English speakers who are interested in reading with the Etteilla system.

I have curated the following meanings from Julia Orsini (1850). That is, I did not translate word-for-word: I removed repetitive meanings in some cases and added more synonyms for clarification in others, reorganized word lists to group similar interpretations, and omitted some words that seemed to be misprints. It is my hope that these changes will make the word lists easier to use.

Card Meanings

You can find the card meanings by suit at the links below.

Print Files

You can download printable PDFs with the card meanings below.

Further Reading

The meanings on these pages are drawn from Le grand Etteilla, ou l’art de tirer les cartes et de dire la Bonne Aventure by “Julia Orsini,” 1850. This book is freely available (in French) at <>

The Etteilla’s Trumps blog by Michael S. Howard goes deep into the interpretation of each trump. He incorporates translations of the Orsini book along with some of Etteilla’s and Papus’ writings.

My Tarocchino Arlecchino is based on the Etteilla system, and you can read more about it in the guidebook on this website.

Finally, you can view different versions of Etteilla decks on Gallica (from the National Library of France):