The Pictorial Key to the Tarot


By Arthur Edward Waite

 

Illustrations By Pamela Colman Smith

1911

 


 

 

 

CONTENTS:

 

Introduction

Part I: The Veil and its Symbols

Section 1: Introductory And General
Section 2: Class I. The Trumps Major
Section 3: Class II. The Four Suites
Section 4: The Tarot In History

Part II: The Doctrine Behind the Veil

Section 1: The Tarot and Secret Tradition
Section 2: The Trumps Major and Inner Symbolism
Section 3: Conclusion as to the Greater Keys

Part III: The Outer Method of the Oracles

Section 1: Distinction between the Greater and Lesser Arcana
Section 2 The Lesser Arcana
Section 3: The Greater Arcana and their Divinatory Meanings
Section 4: Some Additional Meanings of the Lesser Arcana
Section 5 The Recurrence of Cards in Dealing
Section 6 The Art of Tarot Divination
Section 7: An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination
Section 8: An Alternative Method of Reading the Tarot Cards
Section 9: The Method of Reading by Means of Thirty-Five Cards

Bibliography

 

 

 


Part III: The Outer Method of the Oracles

Section 1: Distinction between the Greater and Lesser Arcana
Section 2 The Lesser Arcana
Section 3: The Greater Arcana and their Divinatory Meanings
Section 4: Some Additional Meanings of the Lesser Arcana
Section 5 The Recurrence of Cards in Dealing
Section 6 The Art of Tarot Divination
Section 7: An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination
Section 8: An Alternative Method of Reading the Tarot Cards
Section 9: The Method of Reading by Means of Thirty-Five Cards

Bibliography

 

 

Distinction between the Greater and Lesser Arcana
 

IN respect of their usual presentation, the bridge between the Greater and Lesser Arcana is supplied by the court cards--King, Queen, Knight and Squire or Page; but their utter distinction from the Trumps Major is shewn by their conventional character. Let the reader compare them with symbols like the Fool, the High Priestess, the Hierophant, or--almost without exception--with any in the previous sequence, and he will discern my meaning. There is no especial idea connected on the surface with the ordinary court cards; they are a bridge of conventions, which form a transition to the simple pretexts of the counters and denaries of the numbers following. We seem to have passed away utterly from the region of higher meanings illustrated by living pictures. There in was a period, however, when the numbered cards were also pictures, but such devices were sporadic inventions of particular artists and were either conventional designs of the typical or allegorical kind, distinct from what is understood by symbolism, or they were illustrations--shall we say?--of manners, customs and periods. They were, in a word, adornments, and as such they did nothing to raise the significance of the Lesser Arcana to the plane of the Trumps Major; moreover, such variations are exceedingly few. This notwithstanding, there are vague rumours concerning a higher meaning in the minor cards, but nothing has so far transpired, even within the sphere of prudence which belongs to the most occult circles; these, it is true, have certain variants in respect of divinatory values, but I have not heard that in practice they offer better results. Efforts like those of Papus in The Tarot ol the Bohemians are strenuous and deserving after their own kind; be, in particular, recognizes the elements of the Divine Immanence in the Trumps Major, and he seeks to follow them through the long series of the lesser cards, as if these represented filtrations of the World of Grace through the World of Fortune; but he only produces -an arbitrary scheme of division which he can carry no further, and he has recourse, of necessity, in the end to a common scheme of divination as the substitute for a title to existence on the part of the Lesser Arcana. Now, I am practically in the same position; but I shall make no attempt here to save the situation by drawing on the mystical properties of numbers, as he and others have attempted, I shall recognize at once that the Trumps Major belong to the divine dealings of philosophy, but all that follows to fortune-telling, since it has never yet been translated into another language; the course thus adopted will render to divination, and at need even to gambling, the things that belong to this particular world of skill, and it will set apart for their proper business those matters that are of another order. In this free introduction to the subject in hand, it is only necessary to add that the difference between the fifty-six Lesser Arcana and ordinary playing-cards is not only essentially slight, because the substitution of Cups for Hearts, and so forth, constitutes an accidental variation, but because the presence of a Knight in each of the four suits was characteristic at one time of many ordinary packs, when this personage usually replaced the Queen. In the rectified Tarot which illustrates the present handbook, all numbered cards of the Lesser Arcana--the Aces only excepted--are furnished with figures or pictures to illustrate-but without exhausting--the divinatory meanings attached thereto.

Some who are gifted with reflective and discerning faculties in more than the ordinary sense--I am not speaking of clairvoyance may observe that in many of the Lesser Arcana there are vague intimations conveyed by the designs which seem to exceed the stated divinatory values. It is desirable to avoid misconception by specifying definitely that, except in rare instances--and then only by accident--the variations are not to be regarded as suggestions of higher and extradivinatory symbolism. I have said that these Lesser Arcana have not been translated into a language which transcends that of fortune telling. I should not indeed be disposed to regard them as belonging in their existing forms to another realm than this; but the field of divinatory possibilities is inexhaustible, by the hypothesis of the art, and the combined systems of cartomancy have indicated only the bare heads of significance attaching to the emblems in use. When the pictures in the present case go beyond the conventional meanings they should be taken as hints of possible developments along the same lines; and this is one of the reasons why the pictorial devices here attached to the four denaries will prove a great help to intuition. The mere numerical powers and bare words of the meanings are insufficient by themselves; but the pictures are like doors which open into unexpected chambers, or like a turn in the open road with a wide prospect beyond.

 


Part III: The Outer Method of the Oracles

Section 1: Distinction between the Greater and Lesser Arcana
Section 2 The Lesser Arcana
Section 3: The Greater Arcana and their Divinatory Meanings
Section 4: Some Additional Meanings of the Lesser Arcana
Section 5 The Recurrence of Cards in Dealing
Section 6 The Art of Tarot Divination
Section 7: An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination
Section 8: An Alternative Method of Reading the Tarot Cards
Section 9: The Method of Reading by Means of Thirty-Five Cards

Bibliography

 


THE LESSER ARCANA

Otherwise, the Four Suits of Tarot Cards,

will now be described according to their respective classes by the pictures to each belonging, and a harmony of their meanings will be provided from all sources.

 

THE SUIT OF WANDS

King
 

The physical and emotional nature to which this card is attributed is dark, ardent, lithe, animated, impassioned, noble. The King uplifts a flowering wand, and wears, like his three correspondences in the remaining suits, what is called a cap of maintenance beneath his crown. He connects with the symbol of the lion, which is emblazoned on the back of his throne. Divinatory Meanings: Dark man, friendly, countryman, generally married, honest and conscientious. The card always signifies honesty, and may mean news concerning an unexpected heritage to fall in before very long. Reversed: Good, but severe; austere, yet tolerant.

 

 

WANDS

Queen

The Wands throughout this suit are always in leaf, as it is a suit of life and animation. Emotionally and otherwise, the Queen's personality corresponds to that of the King, but is more magnetic. Divinatory Meanings: A dark woman, countrywoman, friendly, chaste, loving, honourable. If the card beside her signifies a man, she is well disposed towards him; if a woman, she is interested in the Querent. Also, love of money, or a certain success in business. Reversed: Good, economical, obliging, serviceable. Signifies also--but in certain positions and in the neighbourhood of other cards tending in such directions--opposition, jealousy, even deceit and infidelity.

 

 

WANDS

Knight

He is shewn as if upon a journey, armed with a short wand, and although mailed is not on a warlike errand. He is passing mounds or pyramids. The motion of the horse is a key to the character of its rider, and suggests the precipitate mood, or things connected therewith. Divinatory Meanings: Departure, absence, flight, emigration. A dark young man, friendly. Change of residence. Reversed: Rupture, division, interruption, discord.

 

 

 

WANDS

Page

In a scene similar to the former, a young man stands in the act of proclamation. He is unknown but faithful, and his tidings are strange. Divinatory Meanings: Dark young man, faithful, a lover, an envoy, a postman. Beside a man, he will bear favourable testimony concerning him. A dangerous rival, if followed by the Page of Cups. Has the chief qualities of his suit. He may signify family intelligence. Reversed: Anecdotes, announcements, evil news. Also indecision and the instability which accompanies it.

 

 

 

WANDS

Ten

A man oppressed by the weight of the ten staves which he is carrying. Divinatory Meanings: A card of many significances, and some of the readings cannot be harmonized. I set aside that which connects it with honour and good faith. The chief meaning is oppression simply, but it is also fortune, gain, any kind of success, and then it is the oppression of these things. It is also a card of false-seeming, disguise, perfidy. The place which the figure is approaching may suffer from the rods that he carries. Success is stultified if the Nine of Swords follows, and if it is a question of a lawsuit, there will be certain loss. Reversed: Contrarieties, difficulties, intrigues, and their analogies.

 

 

 

WANDS

Nine

The figure leans upon his staff and has an expectant look, as if awaiting an enemy. Behind are eight other staves--erect, in orderly disposition, like a palisade. Divinatory Meanings: The card signifies strength in opposition. If attacked, the person will meet an onslaught boldly; and his build shews, that he may prove a formidable antagonist. With this main significance there are all its possible adjuncts--delay, suspension, adjournment. Reversed: Obstacles, adversity, calamity.

 

 

 

WANDS

Eight

The card represents motion through the immovable-a flight of wands through an open country; but they draw to the term of their course. That which they signify is at hand; it may be even on the threshold. Divinatory Meanings: Activity in undertakings, the path of such activity, swiftness, as that of an express messenger; great haste, great hope, speed towards an end which promises assured felicity; generally, that which is on the move; also the arrows of love. Reversed: Arrows of jealousy, internal dispute, stingings of conscience, quarrels; and domestic disputes for persons who are married.

 

 

 

WANDS

Seven

A young man on a craggy eminence brandishing a staff; six other staves are raised towards him from below. Divinatory Meanings: It is a card of valour, for, on the surface, six are attacking one, who has, however, the vantage position. On the intellectual plane, it signifies discussion, wordy strife; in business--negotiations, war of trade, barter, competition. It is further a card of success, for the combatant is on the top and his enemies may be unable to reach him. Reversed: Perplexity, embarrassments, anxiety. It is also a caution against indecision.

 

 

 

WANDS

Six

A laurelled horseman bears one staff adorned with a laurel crown; footmen with staves are at his side. Divinatory Meanings: The card has been so designed that it can cover several significations; on the surface, it is a victor triumphing, but it is also great news, such as might be carried in state by the King's courier; it is expectation crowned with its own desire, the crown of hope, and so forth. Reversed: Apprehension, fear, as of a victorious enemy at the gate; treachery, disloyalty, as of gates being opened to the enemy; also indefinite delay.

 

 

 

WANDS

Five

A posse of youths, who are brandishing staves, as if in sport or strife. It is mimic warfare, and hereto correspond the Divinatory Meanings: Imitation, as, for example, sham fight, but also the strenuous competition and struggle of the search after riches and fortune. In this sense it connects with the battle of life. Hence some attributions say that it is a card of gold, gain, opulence. Reversed: Litigation, disputes, trickery, contradiction.

 

 

 

WANDS

Four

From the four great staves planted in the foreground there is a great garland suspended; two female figures uplift nosegays; at their side is a bridge over a moat, leading to an old manorial house. Divinatory Meanings: They are for once almost on the surface--country life, haven of refuge, a species of domestic harvest-home, repose, concord, harmony, prosperity, peace, and the perfected work of these. Reversed: The meaning remains unaltered; it is prosperity, increase, felicity, beauty, embellishment.

 

 

 

WANDS

Three

A calm, stately personage, with his back turned, looking from a cliff's edge at ships passing over the sea. Three staves are planted in the ground, and he leans slightly on one of them. Divinatory Meanings: He symbolizes established strength, enterprise, effort, trade, commerce, discovery; those are his ships, bearing his merchandise, which are sailing over the sea. The card also signifies able co-operation in business, as if the successful merchant prince were looking from his side towards yours with a view to help you. Reversed: The end of troubles, suspension or cessation of adversity, toil and disappointment.

 

 

 

WANDS

Two

A tall man looks from a battlemented roof over sea and shore; he holds a globe in his right hand, while a staff in his left rests on the battlement; another is fixed in a ring. The Rose and Cross and Lily should be noticed on the left side. Divinatory Meanings: Between the alternative readings there is no marriage possible; on the one hand, riches, fortune, magnificence; on the other, physical suffering, disease, chagrin, sadness, mortification. The design gives one suggestion; here is a lord overlooking his dominion and alternately contemplating a globe; it looks like the malady, the mortification, the sadness of Alexander amidst the grandeur of this world's wealth. Reversed: Surprise, wonder, enchantment, emotion, trouble, fear.

 

 

 

WANDS

Ace

A hand issuing from a cloud grasps a stout wand or club. Divinatory Meanings: Creation, invention, enterprise, the powers which result in these; principle, beginning, source; birth, family, origin, and in a sense the virility which is behind them; the starting point of enterprises; according to another account, money, fortune, inheritance. Reversed: Fall, decadence, ruin, perdition, to perish also a certain clouded joy.

 

 

 

THE SUIT OF CUPS

King

He holds a short sceptre in his left hand and a great cup in his right; his throne is set upon the sea; on one side a ship is riding and on the other a dolphin is leaping. The implicit is that the Sign of the Cup naturally refers to water, which appears in all the court cards. Divinatory Meanings: Fair man, man of business, law, or divinity; responsible, disposed to oblige the Querent; also equity, art and science, including those who profess science, law and art; creative intelligence. Reversed: Dishonest, double-dealing man; roguery, exaction, injustice, vice, scandal, pillage, considerable loss.

 

 

 

CUPS

Queen

Beautiful, fair, dreamy--as one who sees visions in a cup. This is, however, only one of her aspects; she sees, but she also acts, and her activity feeds her dream. Divinatory Meanings: Good, fair woman; honest, devoted woman, who will do service to the Querent; loving intelligence, and hence the gift of vision; success, happiness, pleasure; also wisdom, virtue; a perfect spouse and a good mother. Reversed: The accounts vary; good woman; otherwise, distinguished woman but one not to be trusted; perverse woman; vice, dishonour, depravity.

 

 

 

CUPS

Knight

Graceful, but not warlike; riding quietly, wearing a winged helmet, referring to those higher graces of the imagination which sometimes characterize this card. He too is a dreamer, but the images of the side of sense haunt him in his vision. Divinatory Meanings: Arrival, approach--sometimes that of a messenger; advances, proposition, demeanour, invitation, incitement. Reversed: Trickery, artifice, subtlety, swindling, duplicity, fraud.

 

 

 

CUPS

Page

A fair, pleasing, somewhat effeminate page, of studious and intent aspect, contemplates a fish rising from a cup to look at him. It is the pictures of the mind taking form. Divinatory Meanings: Fair young man, one impelled to render service and with whom the Querent will be connected; a studious youth; news, message; application, reflection, meditation; also these things directed to business. Reversed: Taste, inclination, attachment, seduction, deception, artifice.

 

 

 

CUPS

Ten

Appearance of Cups in a rainbow; it is contemplated in wonder and ecstacy by a man and woman below, evidently husband and wife. His right arm is about her; his left is raised upward; she raises her right arm. The two children dancing near them have not observed the prodigy but are happy after their own manner. There is a home-scene beyond. Divinatory Meanings: Contentment, repose of the entire heart; the perfection of that state; also perfection of human love and friendship; if with several picture-cards, a person who is taking charge of the Querent's interests; also the town, village or country inhabited by the Querent. Reversed: Repose of the false heart, indignation, violence.

 

 

 

CUPS

Nine

A goodly personage has feasted to his heart's content, and abundant refreshment of wine is on the arched counter behind him, seeming to indicate that the future is also assured. The picture offers the material side only, but there are other aspects. Divinatory Meanings: Concord, contentment, physical bien-être; also victory, success, advantage; satisfaction for the Querent or person for whom the consultation is made. Reversed: Truth, loyalty, liberty; but the readings vary and include mistakes, imperfections, etc.

 

 

 

CUPS

Eight

A man of dejected aspect is deserting the cups of his felicity, enterprise, undertaking or previous concern. Divinatory Meanings: The card speaks for itself on the surface, but other readings are entirely antithetical--giving joy, mildness, timidity, honour, modesty. In practice, it is usually found that the card shews the decline of a matter, or that a matter which has been thought to be important is really of slight consequence--either for good or evil. Reversed: Great joy, happiness, feasting.

 

 

 

CUPS

Seven

Strange chalices of vision, but the images are more especially those of the fantastic spirit. Divinatory Meanings: Fairy favours, images of reflection, sentiment, imagination, things seen in the glass of contemplation; some attainment in these degrees, but nothing permanent or substantial is suggested. Reversed: Desire, will, determination, project.

 

 

 

CUPS

Six

Children in an old garden, their cups filled with flowers. Divinatory Meanings: A card of the past and of memories, looking back, as--for example--on childhood; happiness, enjoyment, but coming rather from the past; things that have vanished. Another reading reverses this, giving new relations, new knowledge, new environment, and then the children are disporting in an unfamiliar precinct. Reversed: The future, renewal, that which will come to pass presently.

 

 

 

CUPS

Five

A dark, cloaked figure, looking sideways at three prone cups two others stand upright behind him; a bridge is in the background, leading to a small keep or holding. Divanatory Meanings: It is a card of loss, but something remains over; three have been taken, but two are left; it is a card of inheritance, patrimony, transmission, but not corresponding to expectations; with some interpreters it is a card of marriage, but not without bitterness or frustration. Reversed: News, alliances, affinity, consanguinity, ancestry, return, false projects.

 

 

 

CUPS

Four

A young man is seated under a tree and contemplates three cups set on the grass before him; an arm issuing from a cloud offers him another cup. His expression notwithstanding is one of discontent with his environment. Divinatory Meanings: Weariness, disgust, aversion, imaginary vexations, as if the wine of this world had caused satiety only; another wine, as if a fairy gift, is now offered the wastrel, but he sees no consolation therein. This is also a card of blended pleasure. Reversed: Novelty, presage, new instruction, new relations.

 

 

 

CUPS

Three

Maidens in a garden-ground with cups uplifted, as if pledging one another. Divinatory Meanings: The conclusion of any matter in plenty, perfection and merriment; happy issue, victory, fulfilment, solace, healing, Reversed: Expedition, dispatch, achievement, end. It signifies also the side of excess in physical enjoyment, and the pleasures of the senses.

 

 

 

CUPS

Two

A youth and maiden are pledging one another, and above their cups rises the Caduceus of Hermes, between the great wings of which there appears a lion's head. It is a variant of a sign which is found in a few old examples of this card. Some curious emblematical meanings are attached to it, but they do not concern us in this place. Divinatory Meanings: Love, passion, friendship, affinity, union, concord, sympathy, the interrelation of the sexes, and--as a suggestion apart from all offices of divination--that desire which is not in Nature, but by which Nature is sanctified.

 

 

 

CUPS

Ace

The waters are beneath, and thereon are water-lilies; the hand issues from the cloud, holding in its palm the cup, from which four streams are pouring; a dove, bearing in its bill a cross-marked Host, descends to place the Wafer in the Cup; the dew of water is falling on all sides. It is an intimation of that which may lie behind the Lesser Arcana. Divinatory Meanings: House of the true heart, joy, content, abode, nourishment, abundance, fertility; Holy Table, felicity hereof. Reversed: House of the false heart, mutation, instability, revolution.

 

 

 

THE SUIT OF SWORDS

King

He sits in judgment, holding the unsheathed sign of his suit. He recalls, of course, the conventional Symbol of justice in the Trumps Major, and he may represent this virtue, but he is rather the power of life and death, in virtue of his office. Divinatory Meanings: Whatsoever arises out of the idea of judgment and all its connexions-power, command, authority, militant intelligence, law, offices of the crown, and so forth. Reversed: Cruelty, perversity, barbarity, perfidy, evil intention.

 

 

 

SWORDS

Queen

Her right hand raises the weapon vertically and the hilt rests on an arm of her royal chair the left hand is extended, the arm raised her countenance is severe but chastened; it suggests familiarity with sorrow. It does not represent mercy, and, her sword notwithstanding, she is scarcely a symbol of power. Divinatory Meanings: Widowhood, female sadness and embarrassment, absence, sterility, mourning, privation, separation. Reversed: Malice, bigotry, artifice, prudery, bale, deceit.

 

 

 

SWORDS

Knight

He is riding in full course, as if scattering his enemies. In the design he is really a prototypical hero of romantic chivalry. He might almost be Galahad, whose sword is swift and sure because he is clean of heart. Divinatory Meanings: Skill, bravery, capacity, defence, address, enmity, wrath, war, destruction, opposition, resistance, ruin. There is therefore a sense in which the card signifies death, but it carries this meaning only in its proximity to other cards of fatality. Reversed: Imprudence, incapacity, extravagance.

 

 

 

SWORDS

Page

A lithe, active figure holds a sword upright in both hands, while in the act of swift walking. He is passing over rugged land, and about his way the clouds are collocated wildly. He is alert and lithe, looking this way and that, as if an expected enemy might appear at any moment. Divinatory Meanings: Authority, overseeing, secret service, vigilance, spying, examination, and the qualities thereto belonging. Reversed: More evil side of these qualities; what is unforeseen, unprepared state; sickness is also intimated.

 

 

 

SWORDS

Ten

A prostrate figure, pierced by all the swords belonging to the card. Divinatory Meanings: Whatsoever is intimated by the design; also pain, affliction, tears, sadness, desolation. It is not especially a card of violent death. Reversed: Advantage, profit, success, favour, but none of these are permanent; also power and authority.

 

 

 

SWORDS

Nine

One seated on her couch in lamentation, with the swords over her. She is as one who knows no sorrow which is like unto hers. It is a card of utter desolation. Divinatory Meanings: Death, failure, miscarriage, delay, deception, disappointment, despair. Reversed: Imprisonment, suspicion, doubt, reasonable fear, shame.

 

 

 

SWORDS

Eight

A woman, bound and hoodwinked, with the swords of the card about her. Yet it is rather a card of temporary durance than of irretrievable bondage. Divinatory Meanings: Bad news, violent chagrin, crisis, censure, power in trammels, conflict, calumny; also sickness. Reversed: Disquiet, difficulty, opposition, accident, treachery; what is unforeseen; fatality.

 

 

 

SWORDS

Seven

A man in the act of carrying away five swords rapidly; the two others of the card remain stuck in the ground. A camp is close at hand. Divinatory Meanings: Design, attempt, wish, hope, confidence; also quarrelling, a plan that may fail, annoyance. The design is uncertain in its import, because the significations are widely at variance with each other. Reversed: Good advice, counsel, instruction, slander, babbling.

 

 

 

SWORDS

Six

A ferryman carrying passengers in his punt to the further shore. The course is smooth, and seeing that the freight is light, it may be noted that the work is not beyond his strength. Divinatory Meanings: journey by water, route, way, envoy, commissionary, expedient. Reversed: Declaration, confession, publicity; one account says that it is a proposal of love.

 

 

 

SWORDS

Five

A disdainful man looks after two retreating and dejected figures. Their swords lie upon the ground. He carries two others on his left shoulder, and a third sword is in his right hand, point to earth. He is the master in possession of the field. Divinatory Meanings: Degradation, destruction, revocation, infamy, dishonour, loss, with the variants and analogues of these. Reversed: The same; burial and obsequies.

 

 

 

SWORDS

Four

The effigy of a knight in the attitude of prayer, at full length upon his tomb. Divinatory Meanings: Vigilance, retreat, solitude, hermit's repose, exile, tomb and coffin. It is these last that have suggested the design. Reversed: Wise administration, circumspection, economy, avarice, precaution, testament.

 

 

 

SWORDS

Three

Three swords piercing a heart; cloud and rain behind. Divinatory Meanings: Removal, absence, delay, division, rupture, dispersion, and all that the design signifies naturally, being too simple and obvious to call for specific enumeration. Reversed: Mental alienation, error, loss, distraction, disorder, confusion.

 

 

 

SWORDS

Two

A hoodwinked female figure balances two swords upon her shoulders. Divinatory Meanings: Conformity and the equipoise which it suggests, courage, friendship, concord in a state of arms; another reading gives tenderness, affection, intimacy. The suggestion of harmony and other favourable readings must be considered in a qualified manner, as Swords generally are not symbolical of beneficent forces in human affairs. Reversed: Imposture, falsehood, duplicity, disloyalty.

 

 

 

SWORDS

Ace

A hand issues from a cloud, grasping as word, the point of which is encircled by a crown. Divinatory Meanings: Triumph, the excessive degree in everything, conquest, triumph of force. It is a card of great force, in love as well as in hatred. The crown may carry a much higher significance than comes usually within the sphere of fortune-telling. Reversed: The same, but the results are disastrous; another account says--conception, childbirth, augmentation, multiplicity.

 

 

 

THE SUIT OF PENTACLES

King

The figure calls for no special description the face is rather dark, suggesting also courage, but somewhat lethargic in tendency. The bull's head should be noted as a recurrent symbol on the throne. The sign of this suit is represented throughout as engraved or blazoned with the pentagram, typifying the correspondence of the four elements in human nature and that by which they may be governed. In many old Tarot packs this suit stood for current coin, money, deniers. I have not invented the substitution of pentacles and I have no special cause to sustain in respect of the alternative. But the consensus of divinatory meanings is on the side of some change, because the cards do not happen to deal especially with questions of money. Divinatory Meanings: Valour, realizing intelligence, business and normal intellectual aptitude, sometimes mathematical gifts and attainments of this kind; success in these paths. Reversed: Vice, weakness, ugliness, perversity, corruption, peril.

 

 

 

PENTACLES

Queen

The face suggests that of a dark woman, whose qualities might be summed up in the idea of greatness of soul; she has also the serious cast of intelligence; she contemplates her symbol and may see worlds therein. Divinatory Meanings: Opulence, generosity, magnificence, security, liberty. Reversed: Evil, suspicion, suspense, fear, mistrust.

 

 

 

PENTACLES

Knight

He rides a slow, enduring, heavy horse, to which his own aspect corresponds. He exhibits his symbol, but does not look therein. Divinatory Meanings: Utility, serviceableness, interest, responsibility, rectitude-all on the normal and external plane. Reversed: inertia, idleness, repose of that kind, stagnation; also placidity, discouragement, carelessness.

 

 

 

PENTACLES

Page

A youthful figure, looking intently at the pentacle which hovers over his raised hands. He moves slowly, insensible of that which is about him. Divinatory Meanings: Application, study, scholarship, reflection another reading says news, messages and the bringer thereof; also rule, management. Reversed: Prodigality, dissipation, liberality, luxury; unfavourable news.

 

 

 

PENTACLES

Ten

A man and woman beneath an archway which gives entrance to a house and domain. They are accompanied by a child, who looks curiously at two dogs accosting an ancient personage seated in the foreground. The child's hand is on one of them. Divinatory Meanings: Gain, riches; family matters, archives, extraction, the abode of a family. Reversed: Chance, fatality, loss, robbery, games of hazard; sometimes gift, dowry, pension.

 

 

 

PENTACLES

Nine

A woman, with a bird upon her wrist, stands amidst a great abundance of grapevines in the garden of a manorial house. It is a wide domain, suggesting plenty in all things. Possibly it is her own possession and testifies to material well-being. Divinatory Meanings: Prudence, safety, success, accomplishment, certitude, discernment. Reversed: Roguery, deception, voided project, bad faith.

 

 

 

PENTACLES

Eight

An artist in stone at his work, which he exhibits in the form of trophies. Divinatory Meanings: Work, employment, commission, craftsmanship, skill in craft and business, perhaps in the preparatory stage. Reversed: Voided ambition, vanity, cupidity, exaction, usury. It may also signify the possession of skill, in the sense of the ingenious mind turned to cunning and intrigue.

 

 

 

PENTACLES

Seven

A young man, leaning on his staff, looks intently at seven pentacles attached to a clump of greenery on his right; one would say that these were his treasures and that his heart was there. Divinatory Meanings: These are exceedingly contradictory; in the main, it is a card of money, business, barter; but one reading gives altercation, quarrels--and another innocence, ingenuity, purgation. Reversed: Cause for anxiety regarding money which it may be proposed to lend.

 

 

 

PENTACLES

Six

A person in the guise of a merchant weighs money in a pair of scales and distributes it to the needy and distressed. It is a testimony to his own success in life, as well as to his goodness of heart. Divinatory Meanings: Presents, gifts, gratification another account says attention, vigilance now is the accepted time, present prosperity, etc. Reversed: Desire, cupidity, envy, jealousy, illusion.

 

 

 

PENTACLES

Five

Two mendicants in a snow-storm pass a lighted casement. Divinatory Meanings: The card foretells material trouble above all, whether in the form illustrated--that is, destitution--or otherwise. For some cartomancists, it is a card of love and lovers-wife, husband, friend, mistress; also concordance, affinities. These alternatives cannot be harmonized. Reversed: Disorder, chaos, ruin, discord, profligacy.

 

 

 

PENTACLES

Four

A crowned figure, having a pentacle over his crown, clasps another with hands and arms; two pentacles are under his feet. He holds to that which he has. Divinatory Meanings: The surety of possessions, cleaving to that which one has, gift, legacy, inheritance. Reversed: Suspense, delay, opposition.

 

 

 

PENTACLES

Three

A sculptor at his work in a monastery. Compare the design which illustrates the Eight of Pentacles. The apprentice or amateur therein has received his reward and is now at work in earnest. Divinatory Meanings: Métier, trade, skilled labour; usually, however, regarded as a card of nobility, aristocracy, renown, glory. Reversed: Mediocrity, in work and otherwise, puerility, pettiness, weakness.

 

 

 

PENTACLES

Two

A young man, in the act of dancing, has a pentacle in either hand, and they are joined by that endless cord which is like the number 8 reversed. Divinatory Meanings: On the one hand it is represented as a card of gaiety, recreation and its connexions, which is the subject of the design; but it is read also as news and messages in writing, as obstacles, agitation, trouble, embroilment. Reversed: Enforced gaiety, simulated enjoyment, literal sense, handwriting, composition, letters of exchange.

 

 

 

PENTACLES

Ace

A hand--issuing, as usual, from a cloud--holds up a pentacle. Divinatory Meanings: Perfect contentment, felicity, ecstasy; also speedy intelligence; gold. Reversed: The evil side of wealth, bad intelligence; also great riches. In any case it shews prosperity, comfortable material conditions, but whether these are of advantage to the possessor will depend on whether the card is reversed or not.

 

 


Part III: The Outer Method of the Oracles

Section 1: Distinction between the Greater and Lesser Arcana
Section 2 The Lesser Arcana
Section 3: The Greater Arcana and their Divinatory Meanings
Section 4: Some Additional Meanings of the Lesser Arcana
Section 5 The Recurrence of Cards in Dealing
Section 6 The Art of Tarot Divination
Section 7: An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination
Section 8: An Alternative Method of Reading the Tarot Cards
Section 9: The Method of Reading by Means of Thirty-Five Cards

Bibliography

 



THE GREATER ARCANA AND THEIR DIVINATORY MEANINGS
 

Such are the intimations of the Lesser Arcana in respect of divinatory art, the veridic nature of which seems to depend on an alternative that it may be serviceable to express briefly. The records of the art are ex hypothesi the records of findings in the past based upon experience; as such, they are a guide to memory, and those who can master the elements may--still ex hypothesi--give interpretations on their basis. It is an official and automatic working. On the other hand, those who have gifts of intuition, of second sight, of clairvoyance--call it as we choose and may--will supplement the experience of the past by the findings of their own faculty, and will speak of that which they have seen in the pretexts of the oracles. It remains to give, also briefly, the divinatory significance allocated by the same art to the Trumps Major.

1. THE MAGICIAN.--Skill, diplomacy, address, subtlety; sickness, pain, loss, disaster, snares of enemies; self-confidence, will; the Querent, if male. Reversed: Physician, Magus, mental disease, disgrace, disquiet.

2. THE HIGH PRIESTESS.--Secrets, mystery, the future as yet unrevealed; the woman who interests the Querent, if male; the Querent herself, if female; silence, tenacity; mystery, wisdom, science. Reversed: Passion, moral or physical ardour, conceit, surface knowledge.

3. THE EMPRESS.--Fruitfulness, action, initiative, length of days; the unknown, clandestine; also difficulty, doubt, ignorance. Reversed: Light, truth, the unravelling of involved matters, public rejoicings; according to another reading, vacillation.

4. THE EMPEROR.--Stability, power, protection, realization; a great person; aid, reason, conviction; also authority and will. Reversed: Benevolence, compassion, credit; also confusion to enemies, obstruction, immaturity.

5. THE HIEROPHANT.--Marriage, alliance, captivity, servitude; by another account, mercy and goodness; inspiration; the man to whom the Querent has recourse. Reversed: Society, good understanding, concord, overkindness, weakness.

6. THE LOVERS.--Attraction, love, beauty, trials overcome. Reversed: Failure, foolish designs. Another account speaks of marriage frustrated and contrarieties of all kinds.

7. THE CHARIOT.--Succour, providence also war, triumph, presumption, vengeance, trouble. Reversed: Riot, quarrel, dispute, litigation, defeat.

8. FORTITUDE.--Power, energy, action, courage, magnanimity; also complete success and honours. Reversed: Despotism, abuse if power, weakness, discord, sometimes even disgrace.

9. THE HERMIT.--Prudence, circumspection; also and especially treason, dissimulation, roguery, corruption. Reversed: Concealment, disguise, policy, fear, unreasoned caution.

10. WHEEL OF FORTUNE.-Destiny, fortune, success, elevation, luck, felicity. Reversed: Increase, abundance, superfluity.

11. JUSTICE.--Equity, rightness, probity, executive; triumph of the deserving side in law. Reversed: Law in all its departments, legal complications, bigotry, bias, excessive severity.

12. THE HANGED MAN.--Wisdom, circumspection, discernment, trials, sacrifice, intuition, divination, prophecy. Reversed: Selfishness, the crowd, body politic.

13. DEATH.--End, mortality, destruction, corruption also, for a man, the loss of a benefactor for a woman, many contrarieties; for a maid, failure of marriage projects. Reversed: Inertia, sleep, lethargy, petrifaction, somnambulism; hope destroyed.

14. TEMPERANCE.--Economy, moderation, frugality, management, accommodation. Reversed: Things connected with churches, religions, sects, the priesthood, sometimes even the priest who will marry the Querent; also disunion, unfortunate combinations, competing interests.

15. THE DEVIL.--Ravage, violence, vehemence, extraordinary efforts, force, fatality; that which is predestined but is not for this reason evil. Reversed: Evil fatality, weakness, pettiness, blindness.

16. THE TOWER.--Misery, distress, indigence, adversity, calamity, disgrace, deception, ruin. It is a card in particular of unforeseen catastrophe. Reversed: According to one account, the same in a lesser degree also oppression, imprisonment, tyranny.

17. THE STAR.--Loss, theft, privation, abandonment; another reading says-hope and bright prospects, Reversed: Arrogance, haughtiness, impotence.

18. THE MOON.--Hidden enemies, danger, calumny, darkness, terror, deception, occult forces, error. Reversed: Instability, inconstancy, silence, lesser degrees of deception and error.

19. THE SUN.--Material happiness, fortunate marriage, contentment. Reversed: The same in a lesser sense.

20. THE LAST JUDGMENT.--Change of position, renewal, outcome. Another account specifies total loss though lawsuit. Reversed: Weakness, pusillanimity, simplicity; also deliberation, decision, sentence.

ZERO. THE FOOL.--Folly, mania, extravagance, intoxication, delirium, frenzy, bewrayment. Reversed: Negligence, absence, distribution, carelessness, apathy, nullity, vanity.

21. THE WORLD.--Assured success, recompense, voyage, route, emigration, flight, change of place. Reversed: Inertia, fixity, stagnation, permanence.

It will be seen that, except where there is an irresistible suggestion conveyed by the surface meaning, that which is extracted from the Trumps Major by the divinatory art is at once artificial and arbitrary, as it seems to me, in the highest degree. But of one order are the mysteries of light and of another are those of fantasy. The allocation of a fortune-telling aspect to these cards is the story of a prolonged impertinence.

 


Part III: The Outer Method of the Oracles

Section 1: Distinction between the Greater and Lesser Arcana
Section 2 The Lesser Arcana
Section 3: The Greater Arcana and their Divinatory Meanings
Section 4: Some Additional Meanings of the Lesser Arcana
Section 5 The Recurrence of Cards in Dealing
Section 6 The Art of Tarot Divination
Section 7: An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination
Section 8: An Alternative Method of Reading the Tarot Cards
Section 9: The Method of Reading by Means of Thirty-Five Cards

Bibliography

 


SOME ADDITIONAL MEANINGS OF THE LESSER ARCANA
 

WANDS. King.--Generally favourable may signify a good marriage. Reversed: Advice that should be followed.

Queen.--A good harvest, which may be taken in several senses. Reversed: Goodwill towards the Querent, but without the opportunity to exercise it.

Knight.--A bad card; according to some readings, alienation. Reversed: For a woman, marriage, but probably frustrated.

Page.--Young man of family in search of young lady. Reversed: Bad news.

Ten.--Difficulties and contradictions, if near a good card.

Nine.--Generally speaking, a bad card.

Eight.--Domestic disputes for a married person.

Seven.--A dark child.

Six.--Servants may lose the confidence of their masters; a young lady may be betrayed by a friend. Reversed: Fulfilment of deferred hope.

Five.--Success in financial speculation. Reversed: Quarrels may be turned to advantage.

Four.--Unexpected good fortune. Reversed: A married woman will have beautiful children.

Three.--A very good card; collaboration will favour enterprise.

Two.--A young lady may expect trivial disappointments.

Ace.--Calamities of all kinds. Reversed: A sign of birth.

Cups. King.--Beware of ill-will on the part of a man of position, and of hypocrisy pretending to help. Reversed: Loss.

Queen.--Sometimes denotes a woman of equivocal character. Reversed: A rich marriage for a man and a distinguished one for a woman.

Knight.--A visit from a friend, who will bring unexpected money to the Querent. Reversed: Irregularity.

Page.--Good augury; also a young man who is unfortunate in love. Reversed: Obstacles of all kinds.

Ten.--For a male Querent, a good marriage and one beyond his expectations. Reversed: Sorrow; also a serious quarrel.

Nine.--Of good augury for military men. Reversed: Good business.

Eight.--Marriage with a fair woman. Reversed: Perfect satisfaction.

Seven.--Fair child; idea, design, resolve, movement. Reversed: Success, if accompanied by the Three of Cups.

Six.--Pleasant memories. Reversed: Inheritance to fall in quickly.

Five.--Generally favourable; a happy marriage; also patrimony, legacies, gifts, success in enterprise. Reversed: Return of some relative who has not been seen for long.

Four.--Contrarieties. Reversed: Presentiment.

Three.--Unexpected advancement for a military man. Reversed: Consolation, cure, end of the business.

Two.--Favourable in things of pleasure and business, as well as love; also wealth and honour. Reversed: Passion.

Ace.--Inflexible will, unalterable law. Reversed: Unexpected change of position.

SWORDS. King.--A lawyer, senator, doctor. Reversed: A bad man; also a caution to put an end to a ruinous lawsuit.

Queen.--A widow. Reversed: A bad woman, with ill-will towards the Querent.

Knight.--A soldier, man of arms, satellite, stipendiary; heroic action predicted for soldier. Reversed: Dispute with an imbecile person; for a woman, struggle with a rival, who will be conquered.

Page.--An indiscreet person will pry into the Querent's secrets. Reversed: Astonishing news.

Ten.--Followed by Ace and King, imprisonment; for girl or wife, treason on the part of friends. Reversed: Victory and consequent fortune for a soldier in war.

Nine.--An ecclesiastic, a priest; generally, a card of bad omen. Reversed: Good ground for suspicion against a doubtful person.

Eight.--For a woman, scandal spread in her respect. Reversed: Departure of a relative.

Seven.--Dark girl; a good card; it promises a country life after a competence has been secured. Reversed: Good advice, probably neglected.

Six.--The voyage will be pleasant. Reversed: Unfavourable issue of lawsuit.

Five.--An attack on the fortune of the Querent. Reversed: A sign of sorrow and mourning.

Four.--A bad card, but if reversed a qualified success may be expected by wise administration of affairs. Reversed: A certain success following wise administration.

Three.--For a woman, the flight of her lover. Reversed: A meeting with one whom the Querent has compromised; also a nun.

Two.--Gifts for a lady, influential protection for a man in search of help. Reversed: Dealings with rogues.

Ace.--Great prosperity or great misery. Reversed: Marriage broken off, for a woman, through her own imprudence.

PENTACLES. King.--A rather dark man, a merchant, master, professor. Reversed: An old and vicious man.

Queen.--Dark woman; presents from a rich relative; rich and happy marriage for a young man. Reversed: An illness.

Knight.--An useful man; useful discoveries. Reversed: A brave man out of employment.

Page.--A dark youth; a young officer or soldier; a child. Reversed: Sometimes degradation and sometimes pillage.

Ten.--Represents house or dwelling, and derives its value from other cards. Reversed: An occasion which may be fortunate or otherwise.

Nine.--Prompt fulfilment of what is presaged by neighbouring cards. Reversed:Vain hopes.

Eight.--A young man in business who has relations with the Querent; a dark girl. Reversed: The Querent will be compromised in a matter of money-lending.

Seven.--Improved position for a lady's future husband. Reversed: Impatience, apprehension, suspicion.

Six.--The present must not be relied on. Reversed: A check on the Querent's ambition.

Five.--Conquest of fortune by reason. Reversed: Troubles in love.

Four.--For a bachelor, pleasant news from a lady. Reversed: Observation, hindrances.

Three.--If for a man, celebrity for his eldest son. Reversed: Depends on neighbouring cards.

Two.--Troubles are more imaginary than real. Reversed: Bad omen, ignorance, injustice.

Ace.--The most favourable of all cards. Reversed: A share in the finding of treasure.

It will be observed (1) that these additamenta have little connexion with the pictorial designs of the cards to which they refer, as these correspond with the more important speculative values; (2) and further that the additional meanings are very often in disagreement with those previously given. All meanings are largely independent of one another and all are reduced, accentuated or subject to modification and sometimes almost reversal by their place in a sequence. There is scarcely any canon of criticism in matters of this kind. I suppose that in proportion as any system descends from generalities to details it becomes naturally the more precarious; and in the records of professional fortune-telling, it offers more of the dregs and lees of the subject. At the same time, divinations based on intuition and second sight are of little practical value unless they come down from the region of universals to that of particulars; but in proportion as this gift is present in a particular case, the specific meanings recorded by past cartomancists will be disregarded in favour of the personal appreciation of card values.

This has been intimated already. It seems necessary to add the following speculative readings.

 

 

 


Part III: The Outer Method of the Oracles

Section 1: Distinction between the Greater and Lesser Arcana
Section 2 The Lesser Arcana
Section 3: The Greater Arcana and their Divinatory Meanings
Section 4: Some Additional Meanings of the Lesser Arcana
Section 5 The Recurrence of Cards in Dealing
Section 6 The Art of Tarot Divination
Section 7: An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination
Section 8: An Alternative Method of Reading the Tarot Cards
Section 9: The Method of Reading by Means of Thirty-Five Cards

Bibliography

 

 

THE RECURRENCE OF CARDS IN DEALING

 

In the Natural Position

 

4 Kings = great honour; 3 Kings = consultation; 2 Kings = minor counsel.

4 Queens = great debate; 3 Queens = deception by women; 2 Queens = sincere friends.

4 Knights = serious matters; 3 Knights = lively debate; 2 Knights = intimacy.

4 Pages = dangerous illness; 3 Pages = dispute; 2 Pages = disquiet.

4 Tens = condemnation; 3 Tens = new condition; 2 Tens = change.

4 Nines = a good friend; 3 Nines = success; 2 Nines = receipt.

4 Eights = reverse; 3 Eights = marriage 2 Eights = new knowledge.

4 Sevens = intrigue; 3 Sevens = infirmity; 2 Sevens = news.

4 Sixes = abundance; 3 Sixes = success; 2 Sixes = irritability.

4 Fives = regularity; 3 Fives = determination; 2 Fives = vigils.

4 Fours = journey near at hand; 3 Fours = a subject of reflection; 2 Fours = insomnia.

4 Threes = progress; 3 Threes = unity 2 Threes = calm.

4 Twos = contention; 3 Twos = security; 2 Twos = accord.

4 Aces = favourable chance; 3 Aces = small success; 2 Aces = trickery.



Reversed
 

4 Kings = celerity; 3 Kings = commerce 2 Kings = projects.

4 Queens = bad company; 3 Queens = gluttony; 2 Queens = work.

4 Knights = alliance 3 Knights = a duel, or personal encounter; 2 Knights = susceptibility.

4 Pages = privation 3 Pages = idleness 2 Pages = society.

4 Tens = event, happening; 3 Tens disappointment; 2 Tens = expectation justified.

4 Nines = usury; 3 Nines imprudence; 2 Nines = a small profit.

4 Eights = error; 3 Eights a spectacle; 2 Eights = misfortune.

4 Sevens = quarrellers; 3 Sevens = joy; 2 Sevens = women of no repute.

4 Sixes = care; 3 Sixes = satisfaction 2 Sixes = downfall.

4 Fives = order; 3 Fives = hesitation; 2 Fives = reverse.

4 Fours = walks abroad; 3 Fours = disquiet; 2 Fours = dispute.

4 Threes = great success; 3 Threes = serenity; 2 Threes = safety.

4 Twos = reconciliation; 3 Twos apprehension; 2 Twos = mistrust.

4 Aces = dishonour; 3 Aces debauchery; 2 Aces = enemies.

 


Part III: The Outer Method of the Oracles

Section 1: Distinction between the Greater and Lesser Arcana
Section 2 The Lesser Arcana
Section 3: The Greater Arcana and their Divinatory Meanings
Section 4: Some Additional Meanings of the Lesser Arcana
Section 5 The Recurrence of Cards in Dealing
Section 6 The Art of Tarot Divination
Section 7: An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination
Section 8: An Alternative Method of Reading the Tarot Cards
Section 9: The Method of Reading by Means of Thirty-Five Cards

Bibliography

 


THE ART OF TAROT DIVINATION
 

We come now to the final and practical part of this division of our subject, being the way to consult and obtain oracles by means of Tarot cards. The modes of operation are rather numerous, and some of them are exceedingly involved. I set aside those last mentioned, because persons who are versed in such questions believe that the way of simplicity is the way of truth. I set aside also the operations which have been republished recently in that section of The Tarot of the Bohemians which is entitled "The Divining Tarot"; it may be recommended at its proper value to readers who wish to go further than the limits of this handbook. I offer in the first place a short process which has been used privately for many years past in England, Scotland and Ireland. I do not think that it has been published--certainly not in connexion with Tarot cards; I believe that it will serve all purposes, but I will add by way of variation-in the second place what used to be known in France as the Oracles of Julia Orsini.

 

 


Part III: The Outer Method of the Oracles

Section 1: Distinction between the Greater and Lesser Arcana
Section 2 The Lesser Arcana
Section 3: The Greater Arcana and their Divinatory Meanings
Section 4: Some Additional Meanings of the Lesser Arcana
Section 5 The Recurrence of Cards in Dealing
Section 6 The Art of Tarot Divination
Section 7: An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination
Section 8: An Alternative Method of Reading the Tarot Cards
Section 9: The Method of Reading by Means of Thirty-Five Cards

Bibliography

 

 

AN ANCIENT CELTIC METHOD OF DIVINATION
 

This mode of divination is the most suitable for obtaining an answer to a definite question. The Diviner first selects a card to represent the person or, matter about which inquiry is made. This card is called the Significator. Should he wish to ascertain something in connexion with himself he takes the one which corresponds to his personal description. A Knight should be chosen as the Significator if the subject of inquiry is a man of forty years old and upward; a King should be chosen for any male who is under that age a Queen for a woman who is over forty years and a Page for any female of less age.

The four Court Cards in Wands represent very fair people, with yellow or auburn hair, fair complexion and blue eyes. The Court Cards in Cups signify people with light brown or dull fair hair and grey or blue eyes. Those in Swords stand for people having hazel or grey eyes, dark brown hair and dull complexion. Lastly, the Court Cards in Pentacles are referred to persons with very dark brown or black hair, dark eyes and sallow or swarthy complexions. These allocations are subject, however, to the following reserve, which will prevent them being taken too conventionally. You can be guided on occasion by the known temperament of a person; one who is exceedingly dark may be very energetic, and would be better represented by a Sword card than a Pentacle. On the other hand, a very fair subject who is indolent and lethargic should be referred to Cups rather than to Wands.

If it is more convenient for the purpose of a divination to take as the Significator the matter about which inquiry is to be made, that Trump or small card should be selected which has a meaning corresponding to the matter. Let it be supposed that the question is: Will a lawsuit be necessary? In this case, take the Trump No. 11, or justice, as the Significator. This has reference to legal affairs. But if the question is: Shall I be successful in my lawsuit? one of the Court Cards must be chosen as the Significator. Subsequently, consecutive divinations may be performed to ascertain the course of the process itself and its result to each of the parties concerned.

Having selected the Significator, place it on the table, face upwards. Then shuffle and cut the rest of the pack three times, keeping the faces of the cards downwards.

Turn up the top or FIRST CARD of the pack; cover the Significator with it, and say: This covers him. This card gives the influence which is affecting the person or matter of inquiry generally, the atmosphere of it in which the other currents work.

Turn up the SECOND CARD and lay it across the FIRST, saying: This crosses him. It shews the nature of the obstacles in the matter. If it is a favourable card, the opposing forces will not be serious, or it may indicate that something good in itself will not be productive of good in the particular connexion.

Turn up the THIRD CARD; place it above the Significator, and say: This crowns him. It represents (a) the Querent's aim or ideal in the matter; (b) the best that can be achieved under the circumstances, but that which has not yet been made actual.

Turn up the FOURTH CARD; place it below the Significator, and say: This is beneath him. It shews the foundation or basis of the matter, that which has already passed into actuality and which the Significator has made his own.

Turn up the FIFTH CARD; place it on the side of the Significator from which he is looking, and say: This is behind him. It gives the influence that is just passed, or is now passing away.

N.B.--If the Significator is a Trump or any small card that cannot be said to face either way, the Diviner must decide before beginning the operation which side he will take it as facing.

Turn up the SIXTH CARD; place it on the side that the Significator is facing, and say: This is before him. It shews the influence that is coming into action and will operate in the near future.

The cards are now disposed in the form of a cross, the Significator--covered by the First Card--being in the centre.

The next four cards are turned up in succession and placed one above the other in a line, on the right hand side of the cross.

The first of these, or the SEVENTH CARD of the operation, signifies himself--that is, the Significator--whether person or thing-and shews its position or attitude in the circumstances.

The EIGHTH CARD signifies his house, that is, his environment and the tendencies at work therein which have an effect on the matter--for instance, his position in life, the influence of immediate friends, and so forth.

The NINTH CARD gives his hopes or fears in the matter.

The TENTH is what will come, the final result, the culmination which is brought about by the influences shewn by the other cards that have been turned up in the divination.

It is on this card that the Diviner should especially concentrate his intuitive faculties and his memory in respect of the official divinatory meanings attached thereto. It should embody whatsoever you may have divined from the other cards on the table, including the Significator itself and concerning him or it, not excepting such lights upon higher significance as might fall like sparks from heaven if the card which serves for the oracle, the card for reading, should happen to be a Trump Major.

The operation is now completed; but should it happen that the last card is of a dubious nature, from which no final decision can be drawn, or which does not appear to indicate the ultimate conclusion of the affair, it may be well to repeat the operation, taking in this case the Tenth Card as the Significator, instead of the one previously used. The pack must be again shuffled and cut three times and the first ten cards laid out as before. By this a more detailed account of "What will come" may be obtained.

If in any divination the Tenth Card should be a Court Card, it shews that the subject of the divination falls ultimately into the hands of a person represented by that card, and its end depends mainly on him. In this event also it is useful to take the Court Card in question as the Significator in a fresh operation, and discover what is the nature of his influence in the matter and to what issue he will bring it.

Great facility may be obtained by this method in a comparatively short time, allowance being always made for the gifts of the operator-that is to say, his faculty of insight, latent or developed-and it has the special advantage of being free from all complications.

I here append a diagram of the cards as laid out in this mode of divination. The Significator is here facing to the left.
 


 

The Significator.

1. That covers him

2. What crosses him.

3. What crowns him.

4. What is beneath him.

5. What is behind him.

6. What is before him.

7. Himself.

8. His house.

9. His hopes or fears.

10. What will come.

 


Part III: The Outer Method of the Oracles

Section 1: Distinction between the Greater and Lesser Arcana
Section 2 The Lesser Arcana
Section 3: The Greater Arcana and their Divinatory Meanings
Section 4: Some Additional Meanings of the Lesser Arcana
Section 5 The Recurrence of Cards in Dealing
Section 6 The Art of Tarot Divination
Section 7: An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination
Section 8: An Alternative Method of Reading the Tarot Cards
Section 9: The Method of Reading by Means of Thirty-Five Cards

Bibliography

 


AN ALTERNATIVE METHOD OF READING THE TAROT CARDS
 

Shuffle the entire pack and turn some of the cards round, so as to invert their tops.

Let them be cut by the Querent with his left hand.

Deal out the first forty-two cards in six packets of seven cards each, face upwards, so that the first seven cards form the first packet, the following seven the second, and so on-as in the following diagram:--

Take up the first packet; lay out the cards on the table in a row, from right to left; place the cards of the second packet upon them and then the packets which remain. You will thus have seven new packets of six cards each, arranged as follows--

Take the top card of each packet, shuffle them and lay out from right to left, making a line of seven cards.

Then take up the two next cards from each packet, shuffle and lay them out in two lines under the first line.

Take up the remaining twenty-one cards of the packets, shuffle and lay them out in three lines below the others.

You will thus have six horizontal lines of seven cards each, arranged after the following manner.



 

In this method, the Querent--if of the male sex--is represented by the Magician, and if female by the High Priestess; but the card, in either case, is not taken from the pack until the forty-two cards have been laid out, as above directed. If the required card is not found among those placed upon the table, it must be sought among the remaining thirty-six cards, which have not been dealt, and should be placed a little distance to the right of the first horizontal line. On the other hand, if it is among them, it is also taken out, placed as stated, and a card is drawn haphazard from the thirty-six cards undealt to fill the vacant position, so that there are still forty-two cards laid out on the table.

The cards are then read in succession, from right to left throughout, beginning at card No. 1 of the top line, the last to be read being that on the extreme left, or No. 7, of the bottom line.

This method is recommended when no definite question is asked-that is, when the Querent wishes to learn generally concerning the course of his life and destiny. If he wishes to know what may befall within a certain time, this time should be clearly specified before the cards are shuffled.

With further reference to the reading, it should be remembered that the cards must be interpreted relatively to the subject, which means that all official and conventional meanings of the cards may and should be adapted to harmonize with the conditions of this particular case in question--the position, time of life and sex of the Querent, or person for whom the consultation is made.

Thus, the Fool may indicate the whole range of mental phases between mere excitement and madness, but the particular phase in each divination must be judged by considering the general trend of the cards, and in this naturally the intuitive faculty plays an important part.

It is well, at the beginning of a reading, to run through the cards quickly, so that the mind may receive a general impression of the subject-the trend of the destiny--and afterwards to start again--reading them one by one and interpreting in detail.

It should be remembered that the Trumps represent more powerful and compelling forces--by the Tarot hypothesis--than are referable to the small cards.

The value of intuitive and clairvoyant faculties is of course assumed in divination. Where these are naturally present or have been developed by the Diviner, the fortuitous arrangement of cards forms a link between his mind and the atmosphere of the subject of divination, and then the rest is simple. Where intuition fails, or is absent, concentration, intellectual observation and deduction must be used to the fullest extent to obtain a satisfactory result. But intuition, even if apparently dormant, may be cultivated by practice in these divinatory processes. If in doubt as to the exact meaning of a card in a particular connexion, the Diviner is recommended, by those who are versed in the matter, to place his hand on it, try to refrain from thinking of what it ought to be, and note the impressions that arise in his mind. At the beginning this will probably resolve itself into mere guessing and may prove incorrect, but it becomes possible with practice to distinguish between a guess of the conscious mind and an impression arising from the mind which is sub-conscious.

It is not within my province to offer either theoretical or practical suggestions on this subject, in which I have no part, but the following additamenta have been contributed by one who has more titles to speak than all the cartomancists of Europe, if they could shuffle with a single pair of hands and divine with one tongue.
 

NOTES ON THE PRACTICE OF DIVINATION

1. Before beginning the operation, formulate your question definitely, and repeat it aloud.

2. Make your mind as blank as possible while shuffling the cards.

3. Put out of the mind personal bias and preconceived ideas as far as possible, or your judgment will be tinctured thereby.

4. On this account it is more easy to divine correctly for a stranger than for yourself or a friend.

 

 


Part III: The Outer Method of the Oracles

Section 1: Distinction between the Greater and Lesser Arcana
Section 2 The Lesser Arcana
Section 3: The Greater Arcana and their Divinatory Meanings
Section 4: Some Additional Meanings of the Lesser Arcana
Section 5 The Recurrence of Cards in Dealing
Section 6 The Art of Tarot Divination
Section 7: An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination
Section 8: An Alternative Method of Reading the Tarot Cards
Section 9: The Method of Reading by Means of Thirty-Five Cards

Bibliography

 


THE METHOD OF READING BY MEANS OF THIRTY-FIVE CARDS
 

When the reading is over, according to the scheme set forth in the last method, it may happen-as in the previous case-that something remains doubtful, or it may be desired to carry the question further, which is done as follows:--

Take up the undealt cards which remain over, not having been used in the first operation with 42 cards. The latter are set aside in a heap, with the Querent, face upwards, on the top. The thirty-five cards, being shuffled and cut as before, are divided by dealing into six packets thus:--

Packet I consists of the first SEVEN CARDS

Packet II consists of the SIX CARDS next following in order; Packet III consists of the FIVE CARDS following; Packet IV contains the next FOUR CARDS; Packet V contains Two CARDS; and Packet VI contains the last ELEVEN CARDS. The arrangement will then be as follows:--
 


 

Take up these packets successively; deal out the cards which they contain in six lines, which will be necessarily of unequal length.

THE FIRST LINE stands for the house, the environment and so forth.

THE SECOND LINE stands for the person or subject of the divination.

THE THIRD LINE stands for what is passing outside, events, persons, etc.

THE FOURTH LINE stands for a surprise, the unexpected, etc.

THE FIFTH LINE stands for consolation, and may moderate all that is unfavourable in the preceding lines.

THE SIXTH LINE is that which must be consulted to elucidate the enigmatic oracles of the others; apart from them it has no importance.

These cards should all be read from left to right, beginning with the uppermost line.

It should be stated in conclusion as to this divinatory part that there is no method of interpreting Tarot cards which is not applicable to ordinary playing-cards, but the additional court cards, and above all the Trumps Major, are held to increase the elements and values of the oracles.

And now in conclusion as to the whole matter, I have left for these last words--as if by way of epilogue--one further and final point. It is the sense in which I regard the Trumps Major as containing Secret Doctrine. I do not here mean that I am acquainted with orders and fraternities in which such doctrine reposes and is there found to be part of higher Tarot knowledge. I do not mean that such doctrine, being so preserved and transmitted, can be constructed as imbedded independently in the Trumps Major. I do not mean that it is something apart from the Tarot. Associations exist which have special knowledge of both kinds; some of it is deduced from the Tarot and some of it is apart therefrom; in either case, it is the same in the root-matter. But there are also things in reserve which are not in orders or societies, but are transmitted after another manner. Apart from all inheritance of this kind, let any one who is a mystic consider separately and in combination the Magician, the Fool, the High Priestess, the Hierophant, the Empress, the Emperor, the Hanged Man and the Tower. Let him then consider the card called the Last Judgment. They contain the legend of the soul. The other Trumps Major are the details and--as one might say--the accidents. Perhaps such a person will begin to understand what lies far behind these symbols, by whomsoever first invented and however preserved. If he does, he will see also why I have concerned myself with the subject, even at the risk of writing about divination by cards.

 

 

 


Part III: The Outer Method of the Oracles

Section 1: Distinction between the Greater and Lesser Arcana
Section 2 The Lesser Arcana
Section 3: The Greater Arcana and their Divinatory Meanings
Section 4: Some Additional Meanings of the Lesser Arcana
Section 5 The Recurrence of Cards in Dealing
Section 6 The Art of Tarot Divination
Section 7: An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination
Section 8: An Alternative Method of Reading the Tarot Cards
Section 9: The Method of Reading by Means of Thirty-Five Cards

Bibliography

 


Bibliography
 

A CONCISE BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE CHIEF WORKS DEALING WITH THE TAROT AND ITS CONNEXIONS
 

As in spite of its modest pretensions, this monograph is, so far as I am aware, the first attempt to provide in English a complete synoptic account of the Tarot, with its archæological position defined, its available symbolism developed, and--as a matter of curiosity in occultism--with its divinatory meanings and modes of operation sufficiently exhibited, it is my wish, from the literate standpoint, to enumerate those text-books of the subject, and the most important incidental references thereto, which have come under my notice. The bibliographical particulars that follow lay no claim to completeness, as I have cited nothing that I have not seen with my own eyes; but I can understand that most of my readers will be surprised at the extent of the literature--if I may so term it conventionally--which has grown up in the course of the last 120 years. Those who desire to pursue their inquiries further will find ample materials herein, though it is not a course which I am seeking to commend especially, as I deem that enough has been said upon the Tarot in this place to stand for all that has preceded it. The bibliography itself is representative after a similar manner. I should add that there is a considerable catalogue of cards and works on card-playing in the British Museum, but I have not had occasion to consult it to any extent for the purposes of the present list.

I

Monde Primitf, analysé et comparé avec le Monde Moderne. Par M. Court de Gebelin. Vol. 8, 40, Paris, 1781.

The articles on the Jeu des Tarots will be found at pp. 365 to 410. The plates at the end shew the Trumps Major and the Aces of each suit. These are valuable, as indications of the cards at the close of the eighteenth century. They were presumably then in circulation in the South of France, as it is said that at the period in question they were practically unknown at Paris. I have dealt with the claims of the papers in the body of the present work. Their speculations were tolerable enough for their mazy period; but that they are suffered still, and accepted indeed without question, by French occult writers is the most convincing testimony that one can need to the qualifications of the latter for dealing with any question of historical research.

II

The Works of Etteilla. Les Septs Nuances de I'œuvre philosophique Hermitique; Manière de se récréer avec le Jeu de Cartes, nommeés Tarots; Fragments sur les Hautes Sciences; Philosophie des Hautes Sciences; Jeu des Tarots, ou le Livre de Thoth; Leçons Théoriques et Pratiques du Livre de Thoth--all published between 1783 and 1787.

These are exceedingly rare and were frankly among the works of colportage of their particular period. They contain the most curious fragments on matters within and without the main issue, lucubrations on genii, magic, astrology, talismans, dreams, etc. I have spoken sufficiently in the text of the author's views on the Tarot and his place in its modern history. He regarded it as a work of speaking hieroglyphics, but to translate it was not easy. He, however, accomplished the task that is to say, in his own opinion.

III

An Inquiry into the Antient Greek Game, supposed to have been invented by Palamedes. [By James Christie.] London: 40, 1801.

I mention this collection of curious dissertations because it has been cited by writers on the Tarot. It seeks to establish a close connexion between early games of antiquity and modern chess. It is suggested that the invention attributed to Palamedes, prior to the Siege of Troy, was known in China from a more remote period of antiquity. The work has no reference to cards of any kind whatsoever.

IV

Researches into the History of Playing Cards. By Samuel Weller Singer. 40, London, 1816.

The Tarot is probably of Eastern origin and high antiquity, but the rest of Court de Gebelin's theory is vague and unfounded. Cards were known in Europe prior to the appearance of the Egyptians. The work has a good deal of curious information and the appendices are valuable, but the Tarot occupies comparatively little of the text and the period is too early for a tangible criticism of its claims. There are excellent reproductions of early specimen designs. Those of Court de Gebelin are also given in extenso.

V

Facts and Speculations on Playing Cards. By W. A. Chatto. 8vo, London, 1848.

The author suggested that the Trumps Major and the numeral cards were once separate, but were afterwards combined. The oldest specimens of Tarot cards are not later than 1440. But the claims and value of the volume have been sufficiently described in the text.

VI

Les Cartes à Jouer el la Cartomancie. Par D. R. P. Boiteau d'Ambly. 40, Paris, 1854.

There are some interesting illustrations of early Tarot cards, Which are said to be of Oriental origin; but they are not referred to Egypt. The early gipsy connexion is affirmed, but there is no evidence produced. The cards came with the gipsies from India, where they were designed to shew forth the intentions of "the unknown divinity" rather than to be the servants of profane amusement.

VII

Dogme el Rituel de la Haute Magie. Par Éliphas Lévi, 2 vols., demy 8vo, Paris, 1854.

This is the first publication of Alphonse Louis Constant on occult philosophy, and it is also his magnum opus. It is constructed in both volumes on the major Keys of the Tarot and has been therefore understood as a kind of development of their implicits, in the way that these were presented to the mind of the author. To supplement what has been said of this work in the text of the present monograph, I need only add that the section on transmutations in the second volume contains what is termed the Key of Thoth. The inner circle depicts a triple Tau, with a hexagram where the bases join, and beneath is the Ace of Cups. Within the external circle are the letters TARO, and about this figure as a whole are grouped the symbols of the Four Living Creatures, the Ace of Wands, Ace of Swords, the letter Shin, and a magician's candle, which is identical, according to Lévi, with the lights used in the Goetic Circle of Black Evocations and Pacts. The triple Tau may be taken to represent the Ace of Pentacles. The only Tarot card given in the volumes is the Chariot, which is drawn by two sphinxes; the fashion thus set has been followed in later days. Those who interpret the work as a kind of commentary on the Trumps Major are the conventional occult students and those who follow them will have only the pains of fools.

VIII

Les Rômes. Par J. A. Vaillant. Demy 8vo, Paris, 1857.

The author tells us how he met with the cards, but the account is in a chapter of anecdotes. The Tarot is the sidereal book of Enoch, modelled on the astral wheel of Athor. There is a description of the Trumps Major, which are evidently regarded as an heirloom, brought by the gipsies from Indo-Tartary. The publication of Lévi's Dogme et Rituel must, I think, have impressed Vaillant very much, and although in this, which was the writer's most important work, the anecdote that I have mentioned is practically his only Tarot reference, he seems to have gone much further in a later publication--Clef Magique de la Fiction et du Fait, but I have not been able to see it, nor do I think, from the reports concerning it, that I have sustained a loss.

IX

Histoire de la Magie. Par Éliphas Lévi. 8vo, Paris, 1860.

The references to the Tarot are few in this brilliant work, which will be available shortly in English. It gives the 21st Trump Major, commonly called the Universe, or World, under the title of Yinx Pantomorph--a seated figure wearing the crown of Isis. This has been reproduced by Papus in Le Tarot Divinataire. The author explains that the extant Tarot has come down to us through the Jews, but it passed somehow into the hands of the gipsies, who brought it with them when they first entered France in the early part of the fifteenth century. The authority here is Vaillant.

X

La Clef des Grands Mystères. Par Eliphas Lévi. 8vo, Paris, 1861.

The frontispiece to this work represents the absolute Key of the occult sciences, given by William Postel and completed by the writer. It is reproduced in The Tarot of the Bohemians, and in the preface which I have prefixed thereto, as indeed elsewhere, I have explained that Postel never constructed a hieroglyphical key. Eliphas Lévi identifies the Tarot as that sacred alphabet which has been variously referred to Enoch, Thoth, Cadmus and Palamedes. It consists of absolute ideas attached to signs and numbers. In respect of the latter, there is an extended commentary on these as far as the number ig, the series being interpreted as the Keys of Occult Theology. The remaining three numerals which complete the Hebrew alphabet are called the Keys of Nature. The Tarot is said to be the original of chess, as it is also of the Royal Game of Goose. This volume contains the author's hypothetical reconstruction of the tenth Trump Major, shewing Egyptian figures on the Wheel of Fortune.

XI

L'Homme Rouge des Tuileyies. Par P. Christian. Fcap. 8vo, Paris, 1863.

The work is exceedingly rare, is much sought and was once highly prized in France; but Dr. Papus has awakened to the fact that it is really of slender value, and the statement might be extended. It is interesting, however, as containing the writer's first reveries on the Tarot. He was a follower and imitator of Lévi. In the present work, he provides a commentary on the Trumps Major and thereafter the designs and meanings of all the Minor Arcana. There are many and curious astrological attributions. The work does not seem to mention the Tarot by name. A later Histoire de la Magie does little more than reproduce and extend the account of the Trumps Major given herein.

XII

The History of Playing Cards. By E. S. Taylor. Cr. 8vo, London, 1865.

This was published posthumously and is practically a translation of Boiteau. It therefore calls for little remark on my part. The opinion is that cards were imported by the gipsies from India. There are also references to the so-called Chinese Tarot, which was mentioned by Court de Gebelin.

XIII

Origine des Caries à Jouer. Par Romain Merlin. 40, Paris, 1869.

There is no basis for the Egyptian origin of the Tarot, except in the imagination of Court de Gebelin. I have mentioned otherwise that the writer disposes, to his personal satisfaction, of the gipsy hypothesis, and he does the same in respect of the imputed connexion with India; he says that cards were known in Europe before communication was opened generally with that world about 1494. But if the gipsies were a Pariah tribe already dwelling in the West, and if the cards were a part of their baggage, there is nothing in this contention. The whole question is essentially one of speculation.

XIV

The Platonist. Vol. II, pp. 126-8. Published at St. Louis, Mo., U.S.A., 1884-5. Royal 4to. This periodical, the suspension of which must have been regretted by many admirers of an unselfish and laborious effort, contained one anonymous article on the Tarot by a writer with theosophical tendencies, and considerable pretensions to knowledge. It has, however, by its own evidence, strong titles to negligence, and is indeed a ridiculous performance. The word Tarot is the Latin Rota = wheel, transposed. The system was invented at a remote period in India, presumably--for the writer is vague--about B.C. 300. The Fool represents primordial chaos. The Tarot is now used by Rosicrucian adepts, but in spite of the inference that it may have come down to them from their German progenitors in the early seventeenth century, and notwithstanding the source in India, the twenty-two keys were pictured on the walls of Egyptian temples dedicated to the mysteries of initiation. Some of this rubbish is derived from P. Christian, but the following statement is peculiar, I think, to the writer: "It is known to adepts that there should be twenty-two esoteric keys, which would make the total number up to 100." Persons who reach a certain stage of lucidity have only to provide blank pasteboards of the required number and the missing designs will be furnished by superior intelligences. Meanwhile, America is still awaiting the fulfilment of the concluding forecast, that some few will ere long have so far developed in that country "as to be able to read perfectly... in that perfect and divine sybilline work, the Taro." Perhaps the cards which accompany the present volume will give the opportunity and the impulse!

XV

Lo Joch de Naips. Per Joseph Brunet y Bellet. Cr. 8vo, Barcelona, 1886.

With reference to the dream of Egyptian origin, the author quotes E. Garth Wilkison's Manners and Customs of the Egyptians as negative evidence at least that cards were unknown in the old cities of the Delta. The history of the subject is sketched, following the chief authorities, but without reference to exponents of the occult schools. The mainstay throughout is Chatto. There are some interesting particulars about the prohibition of cards in Spain, and the appendices include a few valuable documents, by one of which it appears, as already mentioned, that St. Bernardin of Sienna preached against games in general, and cards in particular, so far back as 1423. There are illustrations of rude Tarots, including a curious example of an Ace of Cups, with a phoenix rising therefrom, and a Queen of Cups, from whose vessel issues a flower.

XVI

The Tarot: Its Occult Signification, Use in FortuneTelling, and Method of Play. By S. L. MacGregor Mathers. Sq. 16mo, London, 1888.

This booklet was designed to accompany a set of Tarot cards, and the current packs of the period were imported from abroad for the purpose. There is no pretence of original research, and the only personal opinion expressed by the writer or calling for notice here states that the Trumps Major are hieroglyphic symbols corresponding to the occult meanings of the Hebrew alphabet. Here the authority is Lévi, from whom is also derived the brief symbolism allocated to the twenty-two Keys. The divinatory meanings follow, and then the modes of operation. It is a mere sketch written in a pretentious manner and is negligible in all respects.

XVII

Traité Méthodique de Science Occulte. Par Papus. 8vo, Paris, 1891.

The rectified Tarot published by Oswald Wirth after the indications of Éliphas Lévi is reproduced in this work, which--it may be mentioned--extends to nearly 1,100 pages. There is a section on the gipsies, considered as the importers of esoteric tradition into Europe by means of the cards. The Tarot is a combination of numbers and ideas, whence its correspondence with the Hebrew alphabet. Unfortunately, the Hebrew citations are rendered almost unintelligible by innumerable typographical errors.

XVIII

Éliphas Lévi: Le Livre des Splendeurs. Demy 8vo, Paris, 1894.

A section on the Elements of the Kabalah affirms (a) That the Tarot contains in the several cards of the four suits a fourfold explanation of the numbers 1 to 10; (b) that the symbols which we now have only in the form of cards were at first medals and then afterwards became talismans; (c) that the Tarot is the hieroglyphical book of the Thirty-two Paths of Kabalistic theosophy, and that its summary explanation is in the Sepher Yelzirah; (d) that it is the inspiration of all religious theories and symbols; (e) that its emblems are found on the ancient monuments of Egypt. With the historical value of these pretensions I have dealt in the text.

XIX

Clefs Magiques et Clavicules de Salomon Par Éliphas Lévi. Sq. 12mo, Paris, 1895.

The Keys in question are said to have been restored in 1860, in their primitive purity, by means of hieroglyphical signs and numbers, without any admixture of Samaritan or Egyptian images. There are rude designs of the Hebrew letters attributed to the Trumps Major, with meanings--most of which are to be found in other works by the same writer. There are also combinations of the letters which enter into the Divine Name; these combinations are attributed to the court cards of the Lesser Arcana. Certain talismans of spirits are in fine furnished with Tarot attributions; the Ace of Clubs corresponds to the Deus Absconditus, the First Principle. The little book was issued at a high price and as something that should be reserved to adepts, or those on the path of adeptship, but it is really without value--symbolical or otherwise.

XX

Les xxii Lames Hermétiques du Tarot Divinatoire. Par R. Falconnier. Demy 8vo, Paris, 1896.

The word Tarot comes from the Sanskrit and means "fixed star," which in its turn signifies immutable tradition, theosophical synthesis, symbolism of primitive dogma, etc. Graven on golden plates, the designs were used by Hermes Trismegistus and their mysteries were only revealed to the highest grades of the priesthood of Isis. It is unnecessary therefore to say that the Tarot is of Egyptian origin and the work of M. Falconnier has been to reconstruct its primitive form, which he does by reference to the monuments--that is to say, after the fashion of Éliphas Lévi, he draws the designs of the Trumps Major in imitation of Egyptian art. This production has been hailed by French occultists as presenting the Tarot in its perfection, but the same has been said of the designs of Oswald Wirth, which are quite unlike and not Egyptian at all. To be frank, these kinds of foolery may be as much as can be expected from the Sanctuary of the Comédie-Française, to which the author belongs, and it should be reserved thereto.

XXI

The Magical Ritual of the Sanctum Regnum, interpreted by the Tarot Trumps. Translated from the MSS. of Éliphas Lévi and edited by W. Wynn Westcott, M.B. Fcap. 8vo, London, 1896.

It is necessary to say that the interest of this memorial rests rather in the fact of its existence than in its intrinsic importance. There is a kind of informal commentary on the Trumps Major, or rather there are considerations which presumably had arisen therefrom in the mind of the French author. For example, the card called Fortitude is an opportunity for expatiation on will as the secret of strength. The Hanged Man is said to represent the completion of the Great Work. Death suggests a diatribe against Necromancy and Goëtia; but such phantoms have no existence in "the Sanctum Regnum" of life. Temperance produces only a few vapid commonplaces, and the Devil, which is blind force, is the occasion for repetition of much that has been said already in the earlier works of Lévi. The Tower represents the betrayal of the Great Arcanum, and this it was which caused the sword of Samael to be stretched over the Garden of Delight. Amongst the plates there is a monogram of the Gnosis, which is also that of the Tarot. The editor has thoughtfully appended some information on the Trump Cards taken from the early works of Lévi and from the commentaries of P. Christian.

XXII

Comment on devient Alchimiste. Par F. Jolivet de Castellot. Sq. 8vo, Paris, 1897.

Herein is a summary of the Alchemical Tarot, which-with all my respect for innovations and inventions-seems to be high fantasy; but Etteilla had reveries of this kind, and if it should ever be warrantable to produce a Key Major in place of the present Key Minor, it might be worth while to tabulate the analogies of these strange dreams. At the moment it will be sufficient to say that there is given a schedule of the alchemical correspondences to the Trumps Major, by which it appears that the juggler or Magician symbolizes attractive force; the High Priestess is inert matter, than which nothing is more false; the Pope is the Quintessence, which--if he were only acquainted with Shakespeare--might tempt the present successor of St. Peter to repeat that "there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio." The Devil, on the other hand, is the matter of philosophy at the black stage; the Last judgment is the red stage of the Stone; the Fool is its fermentation; and, in fine, the last card, or the World, is the Alchemical Absolute-the Stone itself. If this should encourage my readers, they may note further that the particulars of various chemical combinations can be developed by means of the Lesser Arcana, if these are laid out for the purpose. Specifically, the King of Wands = Gold the Pages or Knaves represent animal substances the King of Cups = Silver; and so forth.

XXIII

Le Grand Arcane, ou l'occultisme dévoilé. Par Éliphas Lévi. Demy 8vo, Paris, 1898.

After many years and the long experience of all his concerns in occultism, the author at length reduces his message to one formula in this work. I speak, of course, only in respect of the Tarot: he says that the cards of Etteilla produce a kind of hypnotism in the seer or seeress who divines thereby. The folly of the psychic reads in the folly of the querent. Did he counsel honesty, it is suggested that he would lose his clients. I have written severe criticisms on occult arts and sciences, but this is astonishing from one of their past professors and, moreover, I think that the psychic occasionally is a psychic and sees in a manner as such.

XXIV

Le Serpent de la Genêse--Livre II; La Clef de la Magie Noire. Par Stanislas de Guaita. 8vo, Paris, 1902.

It is a vast commentary on the second septenary of the Trumps Major. Justice signifies equilibrium and its agent; the Hermit typifies the mysteries of solitude; the Wheel of Fortune is the circulus of becoming or attaining; Fortitude signifies the power resident in will; the Hanged Man is magical bondage, which speaks volumes for the clouded and inverted insight of this fantasiast in occultism: Death is, of course, that which its name signifies, but with reversion to the second death; Temperance means the magic of transformations, and therefore suggests excess rather than abstinence. There is more of the same kind of thing--I believe--in the first book, but this will serve as a specimen. The demise of Stanislas de Guaita put an end to his scheme of interpreting the Tarot Trumps, but it should be understood that the connexion is shadowy and that actual references could be reduced to a very few pages.

XXV

Le Tarot: Aperçu historique. Par. J. J. Bourgeat. Sq. 12MO, Paris, 1906.

The author has illustrated his work by purely fantastic designs of certain Trumps Major, as, for example, the Wheel of Fortune, Death and the Devil. They have no connexion with symbolism. The Tarot is said to have originated in India, whence it passed to Egypt. Éliphas Lévi, P. Christian, and J. A. Vaillant are cited in support of statements and points of view. The mode of divination adopted is fully and carefully set out.

XXVI

L'Art de tirer les Caries. Par Antonio Magus. Cr. 8vo, Paris, n.d. (about 1908).

This is not a work of any especial pretension, nor has it any title to consideration on account of its modesty. Frankly, it is little--if any--better than a bookseller's experiment. There is a summary account of the chief methods of divination, derived from familiar sources; there is a history of cartomancy in France; and there are indifferent reproductions of Etteilla Tarot cards, with his meanings and the well-known mode of operation. Finally, there is a section on common fortune-telling by a piquet set of ordinary cards: this seems to lack the only merit that it might have Possessed, namely, perspicuity; but I speak with reserve, as I am not perhaps a judge possessing ideal qualifications in matters of this kind. In any case, the question signifies nothing. It is just to add that the concealed author maintains what he terms the Egyptian tradition of the Tarot, which is the Great Book of Thoth. But there is a light accent throughout his thesis, and it does not follow that he took the claim seriously.

XXVII

Le Tarot Divinatoire: Clef du tirage des Caries et des sorts. Par le Dr. Papus. Demy 8vo, Paris, 1909.

The text is accompanied by what is termed a complete reconstitution of all the symbols, which means that in this manner we have yet another Tarot. The Trumps Major follow the traditional lines, with various explanations and attributions on the margins, and this Plan obtains throughout the series. From the draughtsman's point of view, it must be said that the designs are indifferently done, and the reproductions seem worse than the designs. This is probably of no especial importance to the class of readers addressed. Dr. Papus also presents, by way of curious memorials, the evidential value of which he seems to accept implicitly, certain unpublished designs of ÉIiphas Lévi; they are certainly interesting as examples of the manner in which the great occultist manufactured the archæology of the Tarot to bear out his personal views. We have (a) Trump Major, No. 5, being Horus as the Grand Hierophant, drawn after the monuments; (b) Trump Major, No. 2, being the High Priestess as Isis, also after the monuments; and (c) five imaginary specimens of an Indian Tarot. This is how la haute science in France contributes to the illustration of that work which Dr. Papus terms livre de la science éternelle; it would be called by rougher names in English criticism. The editor himself takes his usual pains and believes that he has discovered the time attributed to each card by ancient Egypt. He applies it to the purpose of divination, so that the skilful fortune-teller can now predict the hour and the day when the dark young man will meet with the fair widow, and so forth.

XXVIII

Le Tarot des Bohémiens. Par Papus. 8vo, Paris, 1889. English Translation, second edition, 1910.

An exceedingly complex work, which claims to present an absolute key to occult science. It was translated into English by Mr. A. P. Morton in 1896, and this version has been re-issued recently under my own supervision. The preface which I have prefixed thereto contains all that it is necessary to say regarding its claims, and it should be certainly consulted by readers of the present Pictorial Key to the Tarot. The fact that Papus regards the great sheaf of hieroglyphics as "the most ancient book in the world," as "the Bible of Bibles," and therefore as "the primitive revelation," does not detract from the claim of his general study, which--it should be added--is accompanied by numerous valuable plates, exhibiting Tarot codices, old and new, and diagrams summarizing the personal theses of the writer and of some others who preceded him. The Tarot of the Bohemians is published at 6s. by William Rider & Son, Ltd.

XXIX

Manuel Synthétique et Pratique du Tarot. Par Eudes Picard. 8vo, Paris, 1909.

Here is yet one more handbook of the subject, presenting in a series of rough plates a complete sequence of the cards. The Trumps Major are those of Court de Gebelin and for the Lesser Arcana the writer has had recourse to his imagination; it can be said that some of them are curious, a very few thinly suggestive and the rest bad. The explanations embody neither research nor thought at first hand; they are bald summaries of the occult authorities in France, followed by a brief general sense drawn out as a harmony of the whole. The method of use is confined to four pages and recommends that divination should be performed in a fasting state. On the history of the Tarot, M. Picard says (a) that it is confused; (b) that we do not know precisely whence it comes; (c) that, this notwithstanding, its introduction is due to the Gipsies. He says finally that its interpretation is an art.

 

 

 


Arthur Edward Waite



Arthur Edward Waite
(October 2, 1857 May 19, 1942) was a scholarly mystic who wrote extensively on occult and esoteric matters, and was the co-creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. As his biographer, R.A. Gilbert described him, "Waite's name has survived because he was the first to attempt a systematic study of the history of western occultism viewed as a spiritual tradition rather than as aspects of proto-science or as the pathology of religion."

Waite was born in the United States. Waite's father, Capt. Charles F. Waite, died when he was at a very young age, and his widowed mother, Emma Lovell, returned to her home country of England, where he was then raised. As they were not well off, Waite was educated at a small private school in North London. When he was thirteen, he was then educated at St. Charles' College. When he left school to become a clerk he wrote verse in his spare time. The death of his sister, Frederika Waite, in 1874 soon attracted him into psychical research. At twenty-one he began to read regularly in the Library of the British Museum, studying many branches of esotericism.

When Waite was almost thirty years old, he married Ada Lakeman (also called 'Lucasta') and they had one daughter, Sybil Waite.Some time after Lucasta's death in 1924, Waite married Mary Broadbent Schofield. He spent most of his life in or near London, connected to various publishing houses, and editing a magazine The Unknown World.

A.E. Waite joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in January 1891 after being introduced by E.W. Berridge. He became a Freemason in 1901, and entered the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia in 1902. The Golden Dawn was torn by further internal feuding until Waite's departure in 1914; later he formed the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, not to be confused with the Societas Rosicruciana. By that time there existed some half-dozen offshoots from the original Golden Dawn, and as a whole it never recovered.

Waite was a prolific author with many of his works being well received in academic circles. He wrote occult texts on subjects including divination, esotericism, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, black and ceremonial magic, Kabbalism and alchemy; he also translated and reissued several important mystical and alchemical works. His works on the Holy Grail, influenced by his friendship with Arthur Machen, were particularly notable. A number of his volumes remain in print, the Book of Ceremonial Magic (1911), The Holy Kabbalah (1929), A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (1921), and his edited translation of Eliphas Levi's Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual (1896) having seen reprints in recent years.

Tarot deck
Waite is best known as the co-creator of the popular and widely used Rider-Waite Tarot deck and author of its companion volume, the Key to the Tarot, republished in expanded form the following year, 1911, as the Pictorial Key to the Tarot, a guide to Tarot reading. The Rider-Waite-Smith tarot was notable for being one of the first tarot decks to illustrate all 78 cards fully, in addition to the 22 major arcana cards. Golden Dawn member Pamela Colman Smith illustrated the cards for Waite, and the deck was first published in 1909.
 

 

 

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