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Upside-down M solved [maybe]

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Abrac  Abrac is offline
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Upside-down M solved [maybe]


Waite's magical motto in the Golden Dawn was Sacramentum Regis (Secret of a King). R.A. Gilbert in A.E. Waite, Magician of Many Parts says this comes from the Latin Vulgate, Tobit 12:7, "It is good to keep hidden the secret (sacramentum) of a king: it is honourable to reveal the works of God."

The Latin Vulgate reads: "Etenim sacramentum regis abscondere bonum est: opera autem Dei revelare et confiteri honorificum est."

To understand what sacramentum regis has to do with the upside-down M, you have to go to the Greek found in the Septuagint, from which the Latin Vulgate was translated. The Greek word translated sacramentum is mysterion (μυστήριον).

On the Ace of Cups right-side up it's W, signifying Waite or the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the obvious meanings. Upside-down it's M, mysterion, the hidden meaning (hidden in plain sight).

It seems strange that mysterion would be translated sacramentum in the Latin Vulgate. One would think they would have used the Latin mysterium, but apparently sacramentum is used instead many times. There's a great article here that explains how this came to be. In English, sacramentum is translated "secret" as in the example above, or "mystery."

The Latin Vulgate is the official Bible of the Catholic Church and no doubt the one Waite would have used.

The full Greek text of Tobit 12:7 can be seen here.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
Waite's magical motto in the Golden Dawn was Sacramentum Regis (Secret of a King). R.A. Gilbert in A.E. Waite, Magician of Many Parts says this comes from the Latin Vulgate, Tobit 12:7, "It is good to keep hidden the secret (sacramentum) of a king: it is honourable to reveal the works of God."

The Latin Vulgate reads: "Etenim sacramentum regis abscondere bonum est: opera autem Dei revelare et confiteri honorificum est."

To understand what sacramentum regis has to do with the upside-down M, you have to go to the Greek found in the Septuagint, from which the Latin Vulgate was translated. The Greek word translated sacramentum is mysterion (μυστήριον).

On the Ace of Cups right-side up it's W, signifying Waite or the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the obvious meanings. Upside-down it's M, mysterion, the hidden meaning (hidden in plain sight).

It seems strange that mysterion would be translated sacramentum in the Latin Vulgate. One would think they would have used the Latin mysterium, but apparently sacramentum is used instead many times. There's a great article here that explains how this came to be. In English, sacramentum is translated "secret" as in the example above, or "mystery."

The Latin Vulgate is the official Bible of the Catholic Church and no doubt the one Waite would have used.

The full Greek text of Tobit 12:7 can be seen here.
Love the article. Thank you. I think it remains open whether Waite knew of the translation issue between sacramentum and mysterium. Is there a book/article that discusses the difference in Greek version from his time? However, it does seem very apt - especially since I personally think Waite intended the word Mystery by that M.

It's also interesting that sacramentum in Roman times meant an oath, and the "covenant" between God and humans was an extremely important element of Waite's Secret Tradition.

Wonderful find!
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Mary, do you mean the differences in the Greek manuscripts used to create the Vulgate? I don't know of any one good source for that but I'm sure there's something. I do know there are a lot of manuscripts and it's a deep subject.

In 1844 Constantin von Tischendorf's discovered the Codex Sinaiticus manuscript which contains a complete Greek New Testament and about half of a Greek Old Testament, including Tobit. I think a lot of the published Vulgates after its discovery are based on it, but Catholicism and the Vulgate are a little out of my element so I could be wrong.

If Waite had access to a Latin concordance it would have been very simple look up sacramentum and find out what word was used in the original. But it would just depend on what concordance he had and how much detail it supplied. It's also not inconceivable that he would've had a Septuagint that included Tobit, then he could've just compared it to the Latin. But I've never read anything from him directly on the subject so it's all circumstantial at this point.
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The Book of Tobit was a major work for him as is made clear by his use of a motto from it. It's also the key to the Fool card and thus the whole "soul's progress" (his term for what we call the Fool's Journey) that he sees as the core of the Major Arcana.

Mystery as the M on the Ace of Cups makes sense in a dozen different ways for Waite, so it could just be an amazing synchronicity that you've discovered - that only deepens the "mystery" of Waite's own life-long journey.
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I can't ignore the fact that only one of the minors in the GD deck incorporates a Hebrew letter in the image. It is the Ace of Cups, and the letter is Heh, the second letter of the Tetragrammaton, which refers to the Supernal Mother and the element Water. Waite places the letter M on the Cup, the womb of the Mother, which produces the God essence, which is assimilated by the communicant. This is Waite's interpretation of the Mystery of the Grail. Thus M could also stand for Mother, and the upside down M crudely suggests the letter W for Water.
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LRichard, there are several good reasons why I think this is probably not what Waite had in mind, but one clear example is in his article in the Occult Review of 1926, "The Great Symbols of the Tarot" (Direct link).

He disparages Levi on several points, then says: "Because of the number four it was inevitable that in a mind like his they should be referred to the four letters of the Sacred Tetragram - Jod, He, Vau, He - which are commonly pronounced Jehovah. It is the uttermost fantasy as usual, as exhibited by his attempted identification of Jod with Clubs, while Cups and Pantacles or Deniers are both coerced into correspondence with the letter He."

I think an important point about Waite's tarot is while it does appear to imitate the GD tarot in some respects, his meanings take a different road. This is critical. Also, there aren't any Hebrew letters anywhere on Waite's tarot, unless you cont the Shin on The Fool's clothes, which was probably put there by Smith and not Waite. Or the "Yods" in cards like The Tower and Moon which may not be Yods at all.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
......Also, there aren't any Hebrew letters anywhere on Waite's tarot, unless you cont the Shin on The Fool's clothes, which was probably put there by Smith and not Waite. Or the "Yods" in cards like The Tower and Moon which may not be Yods at all.
You are changing the subject. Who said anything about Hebrew letters in Waite's Tarot? The letter M is not a Hebrew letter. I suppose you think that the Tetragrammaton on the garment of the Temperance Angel is unintentional, due to wrinkles in the fabric. Maybe you need to take another look at the Waite deck.

Also, I never claimed that the letter Heh refers to the suit of Cups. It is indirectly related to Cups because it (as the second letter of the Tetragrammaton) refers to the Element Water, as does the suit of Cups. The Ace of Cups obviously refers to the Holy Grail. Perhaps you should read Waite's The Hidden Church of the Holy Grail or at least The Hermetic and Rosicrucian Mystery.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LRichard View Post
I can't ignore the fact that only one of the minors in the GD deck incorporates a Hebrew letter in the image. It is the Ace of Cups, and the letter is Heh, the second letter of the Tetragrammaton, which refers to the Supernal Mother and the element Water.
Where is the letter He on the Ace of Cups?
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Hi LRichard, I get where you're coming from. You're saying W = Water. I can see that. But it's the M = Mem/Mother I can't get on board with because of Waite's stated antipathy toward connecting Hebrew letters with suits of the minors. If M ≠ Mem or Mother, it's a lot harder to conclude W = Water.

It makes more sense, to me at least, that W = Waite = Sacramentum = Mysterion.

I've got no issue with the Ace of Cups symbolizing the Holy Grail. We're in agreement on that.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
Where is the letter He on the Ace of Cups?
My exact words were:

Quote:
Originally Posted by LRichard View Post
I can't ignore the fact that only one of the minors in the GD deck incorporates a Hebrew letter in the image. It is the Ace of Cups, and the letter is Heh, the second letter of the Tetragrammaton, which refers to the Supernal Mother and the element Water.......
My speculation is that Waite's reluctance to reveal GD "secrets" may have caused him to approximate the significance of the second letter of the Tetragrammaton with the letter M for (Supernal) Mother.
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