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Waite's description of the Hermit

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Herodotus  Herodotus is offline
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Waite's description of the Hermit


In Waite's Pictorial Key to the Tarot, in the section on divinatory meanings of the Major Arcana, he writes of the Hermit:

"Prudence, circumspection; also and especially treason, dissimulation, roguery, corruption."

This treason business surprises me, especially considering this is the only source I'm aware of which treats the Hermit this way.
I'm given to understand that the Hermit does march to the beat of his own drum, and his lantern is intended to guide others along his path, which, when taken to extremes, can amount to what Waite says of him. I'm also given to understand that Waite purposefully wasn't exactly straightforward in his writing for the sake of maintaining at least to some degree the secrecy that was supposed to surround the Tarot, and with that in mind, I try to take everything he says with a grain of salt.

However, I'm still left scratching my head about all this. Can anyone shed some light on this? Perhaps illuminate for me just what Waite was getting at here?

(On a semi-related note, this reminds me of Led Zeppelin's use of the Hermit image for Stairway to Heaven, and the accusations of subliminal Satanic messaging the song received from many uptights which followed. Maybe there's something to those claims, after all.)

Thanks.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herodotus View Post
In Waite's Pictorial Key to the Tarot, in the section on divinatory meanings of the Major Arcana, he writes of the Hermit:

"Prudence, circumspection; also and especially treason, dissimulation, roguery, corruption."

This treason business surprises me, especially considering this is the only source I'm aware of which treats the Hermit this way.
Many common DM's are derived from Etteilla. The equivalent of the Hermit in the Etteilla deck is called 'Traitre' (traitor), and reversed 'Faux dévot' (false devotee - someone who simulates devotion) :

http://www.lepalaisdutarot.com/Tarot...hoth_Tarot.jpg
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Herodotus  Herodotus is offline
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A) Why?

B) I thought the Hanged Man was the traitor.
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Some preliminary research has shown me that the Ettiella (sp?) is not like the RWS. So I suppose the Hanged Man question is irrelevant. However, I wonder, why would Waite base his divinitory meanings upon a deck that was so different than his own? The whole thing just doesn't make much sense to me.

My interest in this pre-Waite deck has been piqued, however. I know this is the wrong thread for discussion, so could someone perhaps point me in the direction of some more info? Any books I could look up, perhaps?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herodotus View Post
Some preliminary research has shown me that the Ettiella (sp?) is not like the RWS. So I suppose the Hanged Man question is irrelevant. However, I wonder, why would Waite base his divinitory meanings upon a deck that was so different than his own? The whole thing just doesn't make much sense to me.
As I understand it (by exposure, not by deliberate research), Etteilla's card reading was quite broad, from "normal" cards to creating his own divination deck, which broadly reorganized the trumps (Lovers as #13?), so I caution against jumping to conclusions about where precisely he got the significations that he used. Apparently another deck contributed to the minor's art choices, so that deck's relationship with Etteilla may be relevant, too.

Paul Huson's Dame Fortune's Wheel tarot deck is based on his research into classical card reading with a focus on Etteilla-style interpretation in the recognizable Tarot structure. Although I rarely use the deck, I studied his large white book (available freely from his website) and have found the Etteilla interpretations quite useful when the "normal" Waite cliches fail, so it's certainly worth reading. These Etteilla sourced meanings sometimes pop up in Waite's PKT as little comments wedged into a card's description, suggesting that Waite knew that the meaning was important and couldn't be omitted, but it didn't fit into his greater re-imagining of the card's meaning.

As for Waite's assignment of rascally attributes to Hermit, it seems like Waite took the older interpretation, with Hermit indicating circumstances of impeded progress, and converted it into things that cause impeded progress. Perhaps he wanted to lessen the rascally attributes associated with Hanged Man, to make it more strongly a symbol of recovering from personal flaws than of the flaws themselves.
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Why take Waite's suggested divinatory meanings so seriously? In PKT, at the end of §3.3 he writes:
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.
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Herodotus  Herodotus is offline
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It's not that I take them very seriously at all. I was just surprised and curious.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herodotus View Post
It's not that I take them very seriously at all. I was just surprised and curious.
It was a good question. Even Waite thought the meanings were "artificial and arbitrary". Kwaw certainly seems to be correct about some of the Hermit meanings coming from Etteilla. Waite's meanings come from various sources, and he cobbled them together. Even more interesting is the fact that Waite seemed to consider the Trumps inappropriate for divination.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard View Post
Even more interesting is the fact that Waite seemed to consider the Trumps inappropriate for divination.
Does he explain why he thought so?
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Waite didn't see the Hanged Man as traitor so it was quite easy for him to assign that meaning to another card.

I think he saw the Hermit, in one of its aspects, as an apostate. He is a bearer of light but has denied Truth. This is how he sometimes describes Lucifer—as "light-bearing but lapsed."

To me a better meaning for Etteilla's Capuchin would be apostate or defector, rather than traitor.

Waite has some good stuff in his commentary on the Hermit in the first part of the Pictorial Key that may shed some light.
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