Archives secrètes du Prieuré de Sion/The Secret Archives of the Priory of Sion (e-dite, 2006) ISBN 2-84608-180-8. 

The cards (the thirteenth month)

The Golden Legend reports that Saint Thomas of Canterbury had the habit to wash each day the feet of thirteen poor people and to give four silver coins to each one. 

In an allegorical form, one delivers here the division of the year into four seasons of thirteen weeks and to the game in four colours of thirteen cards, or in other words the equivalence of the fifty-two weeks to the fifty-two cards.

The solution suggested changes immediately when one seeks to divide up the year into thirteen months, as one sees it in the works of alchemy where often there is an image of a tree with thirteen branches whose each fruit is the moon. This division into thirteen is made easily if one gives to each month the twenty-eight days of February. 

Precursors of astrology, one will accord with the astronomers in having distributed the zodiac in to thirteen constellations. For some years, Ophiuchus(1) which our ancestors called “the Red Serpent”, from now on was part of the Scorpion has occupied. The practice of thirteen eggs to the dozen holds the same daydream undoubtedly indicating an old intention to double Paschal time. 

Nowadays, the attention is rather borne at the time of Christmas where the practice of the doubly-paid month secretly reintroduced a thirteenth among the twelve. The thirteen-month year of which each one would have four weeks is very harmonious to count three hundred sixty-four days. It is not necessary any more whereas to locate the first all-powerful day or the last null day to complete the solar year. This day called Christmas will be located in the three days which follow the winter solstice. It will be judged the all-powerful by the advent of the little king or null by the abdication of the old king. This double value of the impotent all-powerful characterises the joker of the card deck which according to the case is the major trump or gains nothing, about in the same way as the “nénette” with the dice game called 421.

It seems whereas the stick of the joker is equivalent to the stake which impales pagan Janus and to the rod of Father Christmas in the Christian folklore.

The mathematicians will reproach the impossibility of dividing the thirteen-month year into four seasons as one can do, and still rather roughly, with the twelve-month year. Will it be necessary to remind these mathematicians that their daydreams on the quadrature of the circle and the incommensurable found their origin in the ratio from thirteen to four which is 3.2.

The thirteen which carried misfortune around the family tables starts to carry happiness on the gaming tables. All occurs as if the thirteenth month prepared its blossoming, as if the universe awaited its joker secretly.

1 - Or Serpentaire. 

[1] From pages 325-6 of Archives Secrètes

[2] The text here has “Ophichius”.

[3] Translator’s Note: The French word for the joker card is “joker”, appropriate for de Chérisey.

[4] “Nénette” (also slang term for a young woman) is the term for the lowest score in 421, that of 122 or 221.