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The Thirteenth Moon
Join Date: 17 Sep 2001
Location: Pluto
Posts: 8,760
Smile Agree.

Originally Posted by EmpyreanKnight View Post
I dunno, but if we're going to box all the RWS's meanings to what Waite just says, we're never going to get really far. I mean, his book on the subject is not that detailed. Waite was pretty vague on the point after all (I mean, "great winged figure"?), so experts are of course going to weigh in and give their own interpretation on the matter.
Oh, I agree, and I apologize if I implied that if Waite didn't say it, it isn't true. You're right that Waite was vague, and you're right that scholars will and should fill in the blanks. I'll also add that I have no objection to the angel being seen as Raphael by any given reader or scholar. Airy Raphael works very well for the Lovers card. I just think that we can also box ourselves in if we say (or think) "it's obviously Raphael" as there are no clues on the card to support that (never mind what Waite said). We have the Angel with a trumpet on the Judgement card, a good clue that it's Gabriel....(or wait! Others argue it's Michael who blows the Judgement day Trumpet... Check out my post below on the other Angel's thread. Things are not so obvious as they seem even with the right iconography!)

But where's the clues that the Lover's angel is more-than-likely Raphael? So, while I agree that it's wrong to say to anyone "It isn't Raphael and it can't be..." I also think that we should allow that there is no knowing for sure who or what that Angel is. As to whether it's an angel (or more to the point, archangel)....
I think that with the RWS being chock full of Christian imagery and with other major arcana cards having angels too, thinking that it's an angel is quite reasonable really.
Yes, RWS is chock full of Christian imagery, and, again, other evidence in the Lovers card (Adam and Eve) would support seeing that winged figure as an angel rather than, say, a greek god. But there are a lot of other types of iconography in the RWS, and we do have to be careful of going into Judeo-Christian default. Take the Wheel of Fortune: there are Egyptian sphinxes, Hebrew letters, and a "Set" (Egyptian god) figure along with an angel in the upper left corner there...but wait, all creatures in corners have wings! They stand for the four zodiac signs (making that winged man NOT an angel but Aquarius with wings!).

So...apparently not every winged person depicted in the RWS tarot is an angel. But granted the Biblical setting makes it more likely that the Lovers winged figure is an angel...even when we do have an unambiguous angel, named so by Waite, like in Temperance, that doesn't mean the winged figure is more than just an angel (i.e. an archangel). Though there have been discussions about which angel Temperance is, most agree that Temperance is a cardinal virtue and the angel represents that. So...why not just see the angel in the Lovers card as the spiritual connection between the Lovers rather than a specific archangel like Michael or Uriel?

Which is all to say: I totally agree that I was wrong to imply that if Waite didn't call his figure an angel that it's not an angel. But I do think relying on first impressions or what's obvious can equally box us in.

Maybe? Yes?
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