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Waite's conflicting descriptions of the Fool

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Abrac  Abrac is offline
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Waite's conflicting descriptions of the Fool


Is the Fool the soul or spirit; or is the wallet the soul?

In the Pictorial Key he says of the Fool, "He is the spirit in search of experience."

Yet in his description of the Fool in his 1909 Occult Review article he says, "On the spiritual plane it is the soul. . ."

Again, in the Pictorial Key, the section entitled "Conclusion as to the Greater Keys," he says,

"In conclusion as to this part, I will give these further indications regarding the Fool, which is the most speaking of all the symbols. He signifies the journey outward, the state of the first emanation, the graces and passivity of the spirit. His wallet is inscribed with dim signs, to shew that many sub-conscious memories are stored up in the soul."

This makes it sound like the wallet symbolizes the soul.

Anyone have any thoughts on this or know what to make of it?
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IMHO, the wallet would indeed represent the sub-conscious memories, but as something carried by the soul. It would be a visual way of showing that those memories are stores in the soul, but they are not the soul per se.

I'm hardly a scholar of Western occultism, but we all know that by Waite's time it was heavily influenced by India. The idea of the memories carried by the soul brings to mind what some Buddhist schools call the ālaya consciousness, where karma is stored together with the subconscious memories of all your past lives. All schools of thought in India, Buddhist, Hindu or otherwise, concur in that the real soul, emanation, Atman or whatnot, is something other than that.

So the Fool would be the Soul, and his wallet would be literally his baggage, karmic or otherwise.
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I see what you're saying and can see the reasoning behind it. What about Waite calling the Fool "spirit?"
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
I see what you're saying and can see the reasoning behind it. What about Waite calling the Fool "spirit?"
That question is a little harder than it looks. The soul is spirit, but spirit is not only the soul. According to most schools of thought, the individual souls are emanations of a universal spirit, but the devil (sometimes literally) is in the details.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the individual souls are creations of a higher, indivisible, uncreated spirit; while they are spirits themselves, they are sort of second rate, since they are created.

In most Eastern traditions, there is no creation as we conceive it; the world we live in is illusory, and so is any difference between Creator and Creation. Wisdom is (or beings with) the understanding of that illusion. So the individual souls are emanations of the universal one, but have never been really separated from it; like clonal trees, they all share a common root.

And I think I got a little carried away... For Waite, the Roman Catholic, spirit and the soul would be synonyms in the Judeo Christian tradition, but with the Judeo Chrsitian distinctions. For Waite the occultist, I'd say "the spirit in search of experience" is the pure, uncreated spirit immersing itself in the waters of illusion to become an individual soul and live out that individual life. Am I making any sense?
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I see what you're saying and I don't believe it's that far from Waite's own view. I found a great reference in his Way of Divine Union, Ch. 10, "Of Soul and Spirit in Man." Latin theology recognizes soul and spirit as the same thing and he says mysticism agrees with this only with a slight difference. In Latin theology, soul is seen as that part which is like God; mysticism recognizes a higher aspect of soul and it is this which is God-like.
"According to Latin theology, the soul is spirit, and as such it is like God. Soul and body—part that is noumenal and permanent [soul], part that is perishable and phenomenal [body]—these are recognised only. The words soul and spirit are therefore used interchangeably, so far as man is concerned. It is this which constitutes the distinction between human and animal natures, for the animal soul—ex hypothesi—has not the nature of spirit. There is nothing in mystical theology which contradicts this, though there is a recurring tendency to recognise the subsistence of a higher part,* and the word spirit is assigned to it on rare occasions, by way of distinction. It would be an error for this reason to think that more than two parts of the natural personality are recognised in the annals of Christian Doctrine—understood either as Latin Christianity at large or as Latin Mysticism. It is not a distinction as between two natures but of a higher and lower grade in a single nature; it is a higher part of the soul and not an unknown quality by which the latter is overshadowed."
* There's a footnote here which explains further; I'm quoting two parts of it only: "This is reflected from St. Jerome, who identifies the highest faculty of the soul with the Divine Logos." and "The soul is self in manifestation, acting on things outside and reacted on thereby: the espoused soul is the self turned inward and united consciously to the Christ immanent within. That Christ-Spirit with which the soul seeks union in Christian Mysticism corresponds with what is termed Spirit simply in some other systems."

It seems to me this higher part of the soul, that which the mystics call "spirit," is what the Fool represents. When Waite says he is "the soul" this is also true. The bag represents the "lower" part of the soul filled with subconscious memories and the parts of his personality on the natural side. It is these two aspects of soul which must be unified, or "espoused." I realize there are many ways of looking at it, this is how it makes the most sense to me, for now at least.
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I've thought for a long time that when Waite uses the phrase "the Fool, which is the most speaking of all the symbols " , in the reference to " speaking " he may be hinting at the Logos otherwise known as the Word.
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Wow, excellent catch. Makes sense to me.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
I see what you're saying and I don't believe it's that far from Waite's own view. I found a great reference in his Way of Divine Union, Ch. 10, "Of Soul and Spirit in Man." Latin theology recognizes soul and spirit as the same thing and he says mysticism agrees with this only with a slight difference. In Latin theology, soul is seen as that part which is like God; mysticism recognizes a higher aspect of soul and it is this which is God-like.
"According to Latin theology, the soul is spirit, and as such it is like God. Soul and body—part that is noumenal and permanent [soul], part that is perishable and phenomenal [body]—these are recognised only. The words soul and spirit are therefore used interchangeably, so far as man is concerned. It is this which constitutes the distinction between human and animal natures, for the animal soul—ex hypothesi—has not the nature of spirit. There is nothing in mystical theology which contradicts this, though there is a recurring tendency to recognise the subsistence of a higher part,* and the word spirit is assigned to it on rare occasions, by way of distinction. It would be an error for this reason to think that more than two parts of the natural personality are recognised in the annals of Christian Doctrine—understood either as Latin Christianity at large or as Latin Mysticism. It is not a distinction as between two natures but of a higher and lower grade in a single nature; it is a higher part of the soul and not an unknown quality by which the latter is overshadowed."
* There's a footnote here which explains further; I'm quoting two parts of it only: "This is reflected from St. Jerome, who identifies the highest faculty of the soul with the Divine Logos." and "The soul is self in manifestation, acting on things outside and reacted on thereby: the espoused soul is the self turned inward and united consciously to the Christ immanent within. That Christ-Spirit with which the soul seeks union in Christian Mysticism corresponds with what is termed Spirit simply in some other systems."

It seems to me this higher part of the soul, that which the mystics call "spirit," is what the Fool represents. When Waite says he is "the soul" this is also true. The bag represents the "lower" part of the soul filled with subconscious memories and the parts of his personality on the natural side. It is these two aspects of soul which must be unified, or "espoused." I realize there are many ways of looking at it, this is how it makes the most sense to me, for now at least.

It seems to me as close an interpretation of Waite's symbols and intention as we are going to get.



Quote:
Originally Posted by parsival View Post
I've thought for a long time that when Waite uses the phrase "the Fool, which is the most speaking of all the symbols " , in the reference to " speaking " he may be hinting at the Logos otherwise known as the Word.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
Wow, excellent catch. Makes sense to me.

Yes. It does make a lot of sense. Plus, in Christian theology (beginning with the Gospel of John), the Logos is spirit incarnate.
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If we're correct in thinking that Waite viewed the Fool as the Logos , I think we can find further confirmation for that in the expression which he uses in the description of this card in the PKT viz ; " it is as if angels were waiting to uphold him ". In the Gospel of Luke Chapter 4, it describes how Jesus , after fasting in the wilderness , was tempted by the devil . One of the three temptations is described as follows : And he ( the devil ) took Him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and "On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
So , if this line of reasoning is correct , Waite viewed the Fool as Christ / The Logos or God immanent within His creation . We can recall also that St Paul said that " the foolishness of God is wiser than men ".
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Excellent reference. I've also suspected that that line in Waite's description might be a reference to Christ.
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