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Waite-Smith Designs, G.D. Meanings

October 10, 2019

by Tony Willis  

Whatever A.E. Waite may say on the matter, the images of the Waite-Smith tarot rely as much on the significances the Golden Dawn attach to the cards as they do on any interpretations offered by his alternative sources. It should not be forgotten that Waite and his artist Pamela Coleman Smith were both members of the Golden Dawn when the latter drew and painted, under the former’s direction, the pictures for the tarot deck that now bears both their names.

If the Waite-Smith images reflected the Golden Dawn meanings in an undiluted state, writing this article would be a far easier task to complete. But, for reasons best known to himself, Waite decided to have the images of the spot cards partly relate to the Golden Dawn meanings and partly to certain other sets of meanings which, where the minor arcana are concerned, tend more often than not to run counter to those advocated by the G. D.

The Trump cards pose less of a challenge and I will start with them. Nowhere in The Key to the Tarot (or in the illustrated version, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot) does Waite express his own opinion as to the meanings of any of the cards belonging to either arcana. Instead he tells us what significances other authorities have assigned them. He does, however, record his approved interpretations of the Trumps in a book first published under the pseudonym Grand Orient. These can be extracted and compared with the Golden Dawn meanings. When I speak of Waite in the following section, I am referring to him writing under the nom de plume ‘Grand Orient’.

In every case, the first meaning cited is Waite’s, the second being the official G.D. reading of the card.

For Trump number 1, which he calls the Juggler, Waite gives the following meanings. “Skill in any department within the sphere of the subject [consulted about]; subtlety; savoir faire; on the evil side, trickery; also occult practice, apart from [i.e., not including] the wisdom of adeptship.”

In the Golden Dawn system of divination, a card might be ‘dignified’ or ‘ill-dignified’. For our purposes, we can take these terms as signifying ‘upright’ and ‘reversed’ respectively. Waite may or may not have intended ‘trickery’ to be a quality of Trump 1 only when it is ill-dignified. I cannot be certain as there was a tendency in the first half of the twentieth-century to allow the Juggler to indicate trickery even when upright, a reflection of the juggler’s status as a fairground huckster, whose main aim was to extract money from potential customers. Setting that consideration aside, Waite’s meaning for the card matches very well that assigned it by the Golden Dawn, which was: “Skill, wisdom, adaptation. Craft [including craftiness], cunning, etc., always depending on its dignity. Sometimes Occult Wisdom.”

Of the significance of the High Priestess, Waite tells us that she indicates: “Nature generally and particularly also as regards her operations, including therefore the material side of generation and reproduction; fertility; change.”

Apart from the abstruse attribution of Nature to the card, Waite remains, as he did with Trump 1, in line with the Golden Dawn understanding of the card.

“2. High Priestess. Change, alteration, Increase and Decrease. Fluctua­tion (whether for good or evil is . . . shown by cards connected with it.)”

As can be seen, the G.D. express the same ideas as put forward by Waite but in different terms.

Having established the principle that Waite’s interpretations of the Trumps are broadly in line with those laid down by the Golden Dawn, I am going to list the remaining meanings, those put forward by Grand Orient and those of the G.D., side by side. The correspondence between the two is, in almost every case, unmistakable.

3. Empress – The sphere of action; the feminine side of power, rule and authority; woman’s influence; physical beauty; woman’s reign; also the joy of life, and excesses on the evil side.

3. Empress. Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, also luxury and some­times dissipation, but only if with very evil cards.

4. Emperor – Logical understanding, experience, human wisdom; material power on the male side, and all involved thereby.

4. Emperor. War, conquest, victory, strife, ambition.

Although Waite, in his summation of The Emperor’s divinatory meanings, appears to move away from the G.D. paradigm, note that Paul Foster Case, who like Waite and Coleman Smith, had been a member of the Golden Dawn, agrees with his interpretation. Case gives the meanings for Trump 4 as: Stability, power; reason (vide Waite’s ‘logical understanding’); ambition. Not all the Order’s teaching relating to tarotmancy is to be found in the its Knowledge Paper on the Tarot.

5. Pope, or Hierophant – Aspiration, life, power of the keys; spiritual authority developed on the external side; temporal power of official religion; on the evil side, sacerdotal tyranny and interference.

5. Hierophant. Divine Wisdom. Manifestation. Explanation. Teaching. Occult Wisdom. Also advice, meaning Good Counsel.

Waite’s perception of the card veers in a spiritual, even a sacerdotal direction; the instructions given by the G.D. tend more toward the material, with its Teaching, Explanation, and Good Counsel. The appraisals are, of course, nothing more than two sides of the same coin.

6. Lovers – Material union, affection, desire, natural love, passion, harmony of things; contains also the notions of modus vivendi, concord and so forth; equilibrium.

6. The Lovers. Inspiration (passive and in some cases mediumistic). Motive-power and action, arising from Inspiration and Impulse.

While Waite does not repeat the significances allotted to Trump 6 in the G.D.’s Knowledge Paper on the Tarot, mark well that other ex-G.D. alumni supply readings for the card paralleling those put forward by Waite writing as Grand Orient. Crowley has: attraction, beauty, love, and when reversed or ill-dignified instability, indecision, union in a shallow degree with others. Paul Foster Case’s reading of the card is even closer to that suggested by Grand Orient.

7. Chariot – Triumph of reason; success in natural things; the right prevailing; also predominance, conquest, and all external correspondences of these.

7. The Chariot. Triumph. Victory. Health. Success though sometimes not stable and enduring.

8. Fortitude, or Strength – Courage, vitality, tenacity of things, high endurance.

8. Fortitude. Cour­age, Strength, Fortitude. Power not arrested as in the act of Judgment, but passing on to further action; sometimes obstinacy, etc.

9. Hermit – Caution, safety, protection; wisdom on the manifest side; and the isolation thereof; detachment; the way of prudence; sagacity; search after truth.

9. The Hermit, or Prophet. Wisdom sought for and obtained from above. Divine Inspiration (but active as opposed to that of the Lovers).

This is a further instance where other products of the G.D. training system concur with Waite/Grand Orient. Crowley assigns the card the meanings: wisdom, prudence, circumspection, retirement from participation in current events. Paul Foster Case agrees with all of this, excluding only ‘retirement from participation in current events’.

10. Wheel of Fortune – Mutation, circumstances; revolution of things, vicissitude; time and its variable development; all that is understood by the external side of fortune.

10. Wheel of Fortune. Good fortune and happiness (within bounds), but sometimes also a species of intoxication with success, if the cards near it bear this out. In practice the Wheel signals a change of fortune for the better.

Waite’s approach to Trump 10 is high-minded and esoteric, as it so often is; but basically he adheres to the G.D. view of the card. Speaking of the more day-to-day significance of The Wheel, Paul Foster Case invests it with the meaning: Destiny; good fortune; turn for the better. Crowley writes of it in the same vein.

11. Justice – Equilibrium on the mental side rather than the sensuous, for which see No. 6; under certain circumstances, law and its decisions; also occult science.

11. Justice. Eternal Justice and Balance. Strength and Force, but arrested as in the act of Judgment. Also in combination with other cards, legal proceedings, a court of law, a trial at law, etc.

12. Hanged Man – The symbol of renunciation, for whatever cause and with whatever motive.

Waite does not use the word ‘sacrifice’ in relation to Trump 12, but it evidently belongs under this heading, and almost every other commentator of the time places it here, the author of the G.D.’s Paper on the Tarot included.

12. Hanged Man or Drowned Man. Enforced sacrifice. Punishment, Loss. Fatal and not voluntary. Suffering generally.

Crowley gives this Trump the meanings: Redemption through sacrifice, enforced sacrifice, punishment, loss, suffering in general, defeat, failure, death. Paul Foster Case concurs. All the keyword Crowley employs are compatible with the interpretation the G.D. put upon the card. We can assume that Waite accepted them too, even if he prefers the term ‘renunciation’.

13. Death – Contains naturally the meaning implied by its name and illustrated by its pictorial symbol, but not only and not at all of necessity; transforming force, independent of human will; may signify destruction; power behind the world which alters the face of the world, but it is this power in one of its respects only.

13. Death. Time. Ages. Transformation. Involuntary Change. Sometimes death and destruction, but rarely the latter, and the former only if it is borne out by the cards with it.

14. Temperance – New blood, combination, admixture, with the object of amelioration; providence in desirable change.

14. Temperance. Combination of Forces. Realisation. Action (material). Effect either for good or evil.

For once, Waite’s keywords for the Trump throw light on those favored by the author of the Order’s Paper on the Tarot. Other G.D. students found the Order’s suggestions regarding the meaning of this card less than helpful. Thus Paul Foster Case assigns Trump 14 the significances: Combination, adaptation, economy, management. Case, like Waite/Grand Orient, overlaps with the Order’s meanings only on ‘combination’. In the G.D.-type temple I attended, Trump 14 was assigned supplementary meanings closer to Waite’s and Case’s. They were issued orally and I and my fellow students were very glad to have them.

15. Devil, or Typhon – Fatality, evil, the false spirit; can indicate also the good working through evil.

15. Devil. Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession, especially if associated with the Lovers.

Here is yet another example of Waite gearing a meaning towards the abstract spiritual; and even when he travels down the planes a notch or two – and speaks of good working through evil – he does not provide specifically event-oriented keywords either to match or to compete with the Order’s ‘Temptation’ and ‘Obsession’. We can turn to Paul Foster Case to flesh out the meanings supplied by Waite and the G.D. He furnishes his pupils with the terms ‘Bondage’ and ‘Force’ (citing particularly the force of convention and public opinion).

16. Ruined Tower – Destruction, confusion, judgment; also the idea of Divine Wrath.

16. Tower. Ambition, fighting, war, courage. In certain combinations, destruction, danger, fall, ruin.

Waite concentrates on the latter portion of the meanings that the Order associates with Trump 16. But since most authorities on the tarot of his era do the same, Waite can hardly be criticized for that.

17. Star – Light descending, hope; the symbol of immortality.

17. Star. Hope, faith, unexpected help. But sometimes also dreaminess, deceived hope, etc.

While the Waite/Grand Orient meaning is sketchier, there can be no doubt that the two lists depend upon the same comprehension of what Trump 17 represents.

18. Moon – Half-light, mutation, intellectual uncertainty, region of illusion; false-seeming.

18. Moon. Dissatisfaction, voluntary change. Error, lying, falsity, deception. The whole according whether the card is well or ill-dignified, and on which it much depends.

As with the Star, while Waite tends to be more ethereal and conceptual in his language, the parallels between his meanings and those of the G.D. are manifestly present – ‘false-seeming’ on the one hand, ‘lying and deception’ on the other, and so on. The phrase ‘half-light’ plainly has special connotations in Waite’s philosophy; compare with ‘full light’ assigned to The Sun in the following paragraph.

19. Sun – Full light, intellectual and material; the card of earthly happiness, but not attained individually.

19. Sun. Glory, Gain, Riches. Sometimes also arrogance. Display, Van­ity, but only when with very evil cards.

When he uses the phrase ‘earthly happiness’ Waite has material satisfaction in mind, e.g., riches or monetary gain. His ‘full light’ translates, in G.D. terms, into ‘glory’ on the positive side and ‘display’ on the negative. Waite also subscribes to a tradition that the G.D., in my experience of its tarot method, did not: he reads the boy and girl on the Marseille version of the card as a paring, a couple, and this accounts for his observation that earthly happiness is not attained individually. In some French schools of tarot, the card symbolizes marriage, and accounts such a union as another facet of earthly, that is to say physical, happiness. There are continental decks whose symbolism points more candidly in that direction. (See below.)

19t marriage emphasized

20. The Last Judgment – Resurrection; summons to new things; a change in the face of everything.

20. Judgment. Final decision. Judgment. Sentence. Determination of a matter without appeal on its plane.

Waite’s understanding of the Trumps rarely goes against the G.D. interpretations, but here we have one of the exceptions. It is a divergence I can sympathize with. In my time as a member of a G.D.-type temple, most of my fellow students had problems absorbing the significance given to Trump 20 in the Order’s Instruction Paper on the Tarot. Meanings more in line with those favored by Waite/Grand Orient – summons to new things, change in the face of everything, new life breathed into an old ambition – tended to be adopted in place of the G.D.’s ‘final decision, judgment, sentence.’ Crowley brings a degree of clarity to the matter with his description of the card’s meaning in his Book of Thoth: “Final decision in respect of the past, new current in respect of the future; always represents the taking of a definite step.” In practice, Crowley’s first two significances frequently run together, affording the card an aura of ‘out with the old and in with the new’.

21. The World – The glory thereof under the powers of the higher providence, the sum of manifest things; conclusion on any subject.

21. Universe. The matter itself. Synthesis. World. Kingdom. Usually denotes the actual subject of the question, and therefore depends entirely on the accompanying cards.

Here we have one of the few instances where the meaning suggested by Waite, in the persona of Grand Orient, needs analyzing. (When writing as Grand Orient, Waite is generally more straightforward and less grandiloquent than he normally is. In this instance, however, he regresses into Waite-speak.) Under this heading, he is referring to the glory of the World operating under the powers of the higher providence, the Cosmos as the container of all things manifest. Or in G.D. language, the matter inquired about. A more useful meaning for those working with the predictive tarot is ‘the conclusion of a subject’. Oral teaching within the Order is summed up in Paul Foster Case’s recommended reading of the card. “Well-dignified it signifies success, a favorable issue to the circumstances. Sometimes change of place.” That last phrase, ‘change of place’, in tarot parlance invariably indicates elevation, a promotion or its equivalent. The G.D. named the card The Universe and, in the Waite-Smith tarot, A.E. Waite follows suit.

Writing as Grand Orient, Waite gives no predictive meaning for The Fool card. He takes it as his significator and associates no other connotations to it. To divine how he would have interpreted it in a reading made with all 78 cards we need to look at the significance he allows it in The Key to the Tarot. There he takes a view both traditional and widely accepted at the time he was writing: “Folly, mania, extravagance, intoxication, delirium, frenzy, bewrayment [betrayal, though literally ‘to have one’s true character exposed’]. Reversed: Negligence, absence, distribution, carelessness, apathy, nullity, vanity.”

This matches neatly the meaning the G.D. gave to the card, which was:

The Fool: if the Divination be regarding a material event of ordinary life, this card is not good, and shows folly, stupidity, eccentricity, and even mania, unless with very good cards indeed. It is too ideal and unstable to be gen­erally good in material things.

Changes of Symbolism in the Waite-Smith Trumps

There are many innovations to be found among the Waite-directed designs for the Waite-Smith Trumps. The illustrations for Trump 6, The Lovers, and Trump 0, The Fool, are original conceptions. Otherwise, however, none of pictures for the Trumps in the Waite-Smith deck seem to have been plucked out of thin air; they all have a history.

The blueprints for Waite’s Magician and High Priestess are to be found in the ‘Egyptian tarot’ published in Practical Astrology (by Edgar de Valcourt-Vermont but published under the pseudonym of Comte C. de Saint Germain, 1901). The designs for the Trumps of the ‘Egyptian tarot’ are based on the teachings of Paul Christian.

01 c  of lightQ  the-magician-rider-waite

Trump 1: The ‘Egyptian tarot’ calls this card the Magus, following Christian’s lead. This may be where the G.D. got the idea to call their version of Trump 1 The Magician. Waite has his artist embellish the design with roses and lilies, a snake belt, and a change of costume that befits the magus’s station in life. The reason for these additions, as well as for the inclusion of roses over the Magician’s head, are explained by Paul Foster Case. (See the chapter on The Magician in his The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages [NY: Macoy Publishing Co.].) Waite reverses the hand gestures found in the Marseille tarot so as to have the magician hold the wand in his right hand. This change should perhaps not be considered an innovation, as the exchange had occurred on previous occasions on the design of the Juggler card in decks printed by means of woodblocks. Though an image may be incised correctly on woodblock, the picture appears in reverse, as in a mirror, when the card is printed. The illustrations of the Trumps presented by Court de Gébelin in Le Monde Primitif suffer the same fate. Furthermore, the Magus of the ‘Egyptian tarot’ holds his wand in his right hand.

2 b of light    r-w priestess 2

Trump 2: Neither in the ‘Egyptian tarot’ nor in the Waite-Smith deck is there any sign of the Tarot de Marseille’s Papess in their respective representations of Trump 2. Waite has Coleman Smith elaborate the picture by putting on the veil between the pillars a design suggesting the layout of the Qabalistic Tree of Life and by situating a crescent moon in the card’s bottom right-hand corner, the G.D. associating Trump 2 with the Moon. The symbol on the priestess’s breast is, in the ‘Egyptian tarot’, is the sigil for Mercury, ruler of Virgo, the zodiac sign which that deck associates with Trump 2. On the Waite-Smith card, the Mercury sigil is altered to a Greek cross, representing the four lunar phases (although continental commentators tend to call it a Solar Cross). The ‘Egyptian tarot’ presents the pillars either side of the priestess in different colors – white and black or black and red. Waite has letters imprinted on the pillars, B and J, standing for Boaz and Jachin, thereby identifying the Temple at whose entrance the priestess sits as that of King Solomon. Waite may not be the first to name the pillars. Morley, in his Old and Curious Playing Cards of 1931, has a depiction of the High Priestess, still named La Papess, flanked by pillars bearing the names Boaz and Jakin written in full. (See below.) Jakin is the preferred spelling of the word among French Masons. Morley’s card, which he dates to the nineteenth century, shows the priestess adorned with a Greek cross, a crescent moon at her feet, exactly what we find in the Waite-Smith version of the card.

Trump2HTM    2 la_papesse

Examine the Marseille version of the Trump and compare it to the Morley card, of which the Waite-Smith rendering is a modification. Plainly, a huge chasm lies between the two concepts. The change was brought about by Paul Christian’s commentary on the Trumps. He renames Trump 2 The Gate of the Occult Sanctuary and presents the priestess as guardian of that gate. The ‘Egyptian tarot’ obliges by depicting her in front of two pillars, one red, one black as per Christian’s instructions. Later rectifiers of tarot turn the pillars into those of the Solomonic temple and align the priestess with the moon. Waite and Coleman Smith were inheritors of that tradition and incorporated it into their work on the Waite-Smith tarot.

Trump3HTM    3t rw

Old and Curious Playing Cards is a fascinating book but I am puzzled by the dates attributed to some of the Trump cards used as illustrations. Morley has examples of Trumps 3 and 4 that are almost exact duplicates of their Waite-Smith fellows. The former is dated to the nineteenth century, the latter is undated but appears to come from the same deck as his illustrations for The High Priestess and The Empress. However, his L’Imperatore, as said, differs not at all from Coleman Smith’s Trump 4. He wears the same headgear, holds the same scepter, as the Waite-Smith Emperor does; he faces out of the card and sits on a throne decorated with ram’s heads again exactly as the Emperor does. The ram’s heads link the Trump to the sign Aries. Morley’s card has a French title but no French school of tarot associated Trump 4 with Aries, and in the nineteenth century, neither did any British or American school of tarot, apart from the Golden Dawn, whose attributions, at that time, remained a secret. I am, therefore, wary of the dates Morley gives to any of the Trumps in his book that closely resemble Waite-Smith designs.

Emperor not ws    w-s-emperor

Having covered Trumps 3 and 4, I shall move on to Trump 5.

Whereas, in her transition from Papess to Priestess, the figure on Trump 2 lost all her papal regalia, the renaming of Trump 5 after the chief officer of the Eleusinian mysteries has no effect on the way the central figure on that card is presented. It remains a pope, despite the change of name. The triple tiara, the crosses on the stole and slippers, the tonsure of the supplicants at hierophant’s feet all proclaim a Christian as opposed to a pagan setting.

Trump 6: Waite replaces the traditional design with a representation of the Garden of Eden before the Fall. This symbolism has great significance in G.D. teaching, which is why he chooses to introduce it here. Again, the most reasonable explanation of the image is to be found in Paul Foster Case’s The Tarot.

Trump 7: The Waite-Smith picture is a partial redrawing of the Marseille card. (Sphinxes now draw the chariot instead of horses, for instance.) The image relies on Eliphas Levi’s re-envisioning of the card. Otherwise there is nothing novel or innovative about the illustration.

Trump 9: Waite has thoroughly overhauled this Trump, though the changes are not immediately apparent, and the too-trusting student might easily miss them. The traditional Hermit is in motion; often he is compared to Diogenes, searching for a good man by the light of a lantern in broad daylight. In the Tarot de Marseille’s card, the lantern is partly concealed by the hermit’s cloak, hence the mystic title Christian gives the Trump: The Hidden Light. In contrast, Waite’s hermit stands atop a mountain, his lantern held on high, visible to all. Waite specifically says (in The Key to the Tarot) that the lantern is a beacon for others. He rejects the idea that the hermit’s “lantern contains the light of occult knowledge and that his staff is a magic wand.” Waite argues instead that “this is a card of attainment . . . rather than a card of quest.”

9 tdm hermit   Arcane-Arcana-09-hermite-hermit   9 hermit

Of the designs of Trump 8 and Trump 11 there is nothing to say. Waite exchanges their positions, renumbering them in the process. However, their designs are the familiar Tarot de Marseille ones, smartened up somewhat by Ms Coleman Smith’s elegant draftsmanship.

The Waite-Smith Trump 10 is a redrawing of the traditional illustration, in this instance relying heavily on Eliphas Levi’s re-imagining of the card.

10-tarot-eliphas-levi    RWS_Tarot_10_Wheel_of_Fortune

Trump 12: As was the case with The Emperor, the Waite-Smith Hanged Man has been remodeled. Most notably the gibbet from which the figure hangs has been transformed into a T-cross. Waite, a committed Christian, possibly wanted the symbolism to replicate as nearly as possible the image of Christ on the cross. Waite has had his artist insert a halo around the hanged man’s head. Of the inner significance of the card, Waite is coy, telling readers of The Key to the Tarot only, “I will say simply on my own part that it expresses the relation, in one of its aspects, between the Divine and the Universe.”

12 II    r-w 12-The-Hanged-Man

For Trump 13, Waite sets aside the Marseille image and has Ms Coleman Smith instead adapt one of the earliest Italian designs from the mid-fourteenth century.

13 cary yale    r-w death

Trump 14: For this card, Waite has had his artist redraw the traditional design to include a stream at the angel’s feet beside which a clump of irises grow. Other additions include the geometric figure on the angles breast and the haloed crown glittering in the distance.

Trump 15: Morley has an illustration of The Devil in Old and Curious Playing Cards that is almost the twin of the Waite-Smith picture. He claims it dates to the seventeenth-century although its style is that of those nineteenth-century cards also included in the book that bear suspicious similarities to their respective Waite-Smith equivalents. The Waite-Smith Devil is in many ways a toned-down version of Eliphas Levi’s design for the card (second image below).

Devil not ws    levi15devil

Trump 16: The Waite-Smith Tower is at base a redrawing of the traditional illustration. The major adjustment is that the crenelated battlements of the top of the tower in the Tarot de Marseille version now resemble a crown suitable for a medieval king to wear. This may not have been the original intention, but ‘crown’ is a highly charged word to Qabalists such as Waite and Foster Case, and it is noteworthy that Case too, in his BOTA deck, has the upper part of the tower resemble a toppled crown (second image below).

16 tower g    bota trump 16

The Waite-Smith tarot’s Trump 17 is little more than a redrawing of the traditional design, as is its Trump 18, except that the latter has acquired some of its symbolism either directly from the ‘Egyptian tarot’ image or obliquely from Paul Christian’s card description on which the ‘Egyptian’ designs were based.

18 b of light    waite_moon_large

For Trump 19, Waite again jettisons the traditional design in favor of a very early one depicting a boy on a horse carrying a banner. To this Waite has had his artist add a wall over which the heads of sunflowers are visible. He has also had her add a feather to the wreath on the child’s head, replicating the wreath sporting a single plume that adorns the brow of the Waite-Smith Fool.

rw sun    20t judgement

Trump 20 is Ms Coleman Smith’s rendering of the traditional design, to which she has added other bodies rising in the background of the card. The intention almost certainly is to indicate that what is represented esoterically by the Trump can, and indeed will, given time, happen to everybody and not just to the three individuals usually on view. This moves the imagery away from the emblematic in the direction of a Christian vignette of the Last Judgement.

Once again, Trump 21 is essentially a redrawing of the Tarot de Marseille card.

21 II    rw-World

The Waite-Smith Trump Zero’s design was a novel one when it was first introduced, something that tends to get forgotten today. It is Waite’s “interpretation” of the G.D.’s understanding of the Trump. Not wanting to reveal the image used by the Order (a naked male child plucking a yellow rose, accompanied by a wolf, which the boy has on a leash, reproduced below), Waite created another, the picture we are now all familiar with. Like the G.D., Waite turns his back on the traditional image – a ragged beggar attacked by a dog or a lynx-like animal. Paul Foster Case’s deconstruction of the Waite-Smith card’s symbolism is illuminating. It can be found in the chapter on The Fool in his book The Tarot.

0 Fool22 fool z

While Case approves many of Waite’s innovations, and indeed builds upon them at times, improving or clarifying them where he feels it necessary to do so, note that he reverts to Tarot de Marseille models for cards such as The Emperor, The Hanged Man, Death, and The Sun, evidently preferring these images to those Waite replaced them with.

This discussion of the symbolism and significance of the Major Arcana has taken more space than I at first intended to allow it. With this work carried out, however, I will continue in my next article to look at the pictures on the Waite-Smith spot cards and their relationship to the divinatory meanings sanctioned for them by the Golden Dawn.

One Comment
  1. hermes400 permalink

    The very best explanation that I have ever read on this aspect of the Tarot.

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