book/books by A E Waite


> Aeclectic Tarot Forum > Tarot > Tarot Books & Media




 
Vincent  Vincent is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 04 Dec 2003
Location: SA Australia
Posts: 353
Vincent 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillie
I have to say that I found that there washardly any explanation of his symbolism in the book.
That is one of the reasons I was so dissapointed with it.
One example of this.
He says that the stars in 'The Star' have 8 points each. But he does not say why. I would like to knowwhy 8 points is significant, but he won't tell me.
I believe he does tell you. He says;

"The star is l'étoile flamboyante, which appears in Masonic symbolism..."

Perhaps a study of Masonic symbolism might be your next call. I know it isn't easy, but this is not an easy deck to understand. There is a real problem for people when reading Waite and upon discovering that it is difficult to understand, therefore conclude that there is nothing to understand.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillie
Another.
He does not even mention the flowers on the card 'Temperance'. I had not even thought of them, but, when reading the case book (that I cannot find right now) I am told that they are iris flowers. They are symbolic of the rainbow, because Iris is the greek (I think) rainbow goddess.
So. either he mentions significant symbols, but will not explain them; or he ignores significant symbols all together.
I agree, it is disappointing that Waite doesn't discuss everything, but there is no book that discusses every symbol on a card, (except perhaps the Pythagorean Tarot which seems fairly exhaustive.) Some symbols will be left out for various reasons. That doesn't mean that it is impossible to find out, just as you have discovered with the irises. Waite wrote quite a few other books as well, and a lot of answers can be found in there, though if you don't like the PKT, you may not welcome reading larger volumes by Waite.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillie
This is not very useful for someone who is wishing to comprehend the symbols he chose to use.
What is the alternative?

To rely on someone else's view of what Waite might have meant?

If they haven't used the PKT as a source, then they run the risk of being contradicted by Waite. What sort of credibility does that lend to them.

And if they have read it, why is it good enough for them, but not for us?

To sum up, yes it has its faults, but its a lot better than anything else out there. Especially if you want to get at the heart of Waite ideas. Some of the symbolism he uses would require a book of its own.

This doesn't mean you need to read the PKT if what you wish to do is take the Joan Bunning approach, that is, look at the pictures, decide what the symbols mean to you, rather than what Waite intended, and make up a story. And many people wish to do precisely that. I don't see anything wrong with either approach, but they do have different ends in mind.

As a final word on the possible value of reading the PKT; I never much liked studying the art of Mondrian or Joan Miro, but it was through studying those people I became acquainted with the sublime beauty of artists like de Chirico and Max Ernst. The PKT holds a lot of questions. Attempting to answer those questions may well lead you to an author you do like.


Vincent
Top   #21
wandking  wandking is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 22 Dec 2004
Location: alabama, USA
Posts: 478
wandking 
vincent I'll hit these one at a time


"Where does he say that? He does say that; The Tarot cards which are issued with the small edition of the present work, that is to say, with the Key to the Tarot, have been drawn and coloured by Miss Pamela Colman Smith... But nothing about her choosing the colours." Waite completes the sentance with “and will, I think, be regarded as very striking and beautiful, in their design alike and execution.”

Waite specifically states she "coloured" the deck... shall we also play with the word "drawn?" In another section Waite writes, "They have been prepared under my supervision--in respect of the attributions and meanings--by a lady who has high claims as an artist. Regarding the divinatory part, by which my thesis is terminated, I consider it personally as a fact in the history of the Tarot--as such, I have drawn"

Furthermore; any superficial comparison of Waite descriptions of Major and Minor Arcana affirms Waite fails to offer what the scene implies on most Minor cards, leading some to believe he allowed Smith to choose not only colors but also the nature of each scene.

For example:

THE ACE OF SWORDS

A hand issues from a cloud, grasping as word, the point of which is encircled by a crown.

THE TOWER

Occult explanations attached to this card are meagre and mostly disconcerting. It is idle to indicate that it depicts min in all its aspects, because it bears this evidence on the surface. It is said further that it contains the first allusion to a material building, but I do not conceive that the Tower is more or less material than the pillars which we have met with in three previous cases. I see nothing to warrant Papus in supposing that it is literally the fall of Adam, but there is more in favour of his alternative--that it signifies the materialization of the spiritual word. The bibliographer Christian imagines that it is the downfall of the mind, seeking to penetrate the mystery of God. I agree rather with Grand Orient that it is the ruin of the House of We, when evil has prevailed therein, and above all that it is the rending of a House of Doctrine. I understand that the reference is, however, to a House of Falsehood. It illustrates also in the most comprehensive way the old truth that "except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it."

There is a sense in which the catastrophe is a reflection from the previous card, but not on the side of the symbolism which I have tried to indicate therein. It is more correctly a question of analogy; one is concerned with the fall into the material and animal state, while the other signifies destruction on the intellectual side. The Tower has been spoken of as the chastisement of pride and the intellect overwhelmed in the attempt to penetrate the Mystery of God; but in neither case do these explanations account for the two persons who are the living sufferers. The one is the literal word made void and the other its false interpretation. In yet a deeper sense, it may signify also the end of a dispensation, but there is no possibility here for the consideration of this involved question.
Top   #22
wandking  wandking is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 22 Dec 2004
Location: alabama, USA
Posts: 478
wandking 
Vincent, Obviously there is a " recognized scheme" for blue in Masonry


Subsequent color associations are from Talks on Freemasonry by Brother. Kenneth J. Tuckwood, District Chairman of Masonic Education.

BLUE, A deep shade of Oxford Blue, originates from the Most Noble Order of the Garter: Our constitution refers to the color as garter blue. Light blue of private lodge clothing deliberately contrasts with deep blue of Grand Lodge clothing. Blue denotes immortality, eternity, chastity and fidelity. Pale blue represents prudence or goodness. In Masonry, blue is emblematic of brotherhood and friendship, to instruct that in the mind of a Mason those virtues should be extensive like blue arched Heaven itself. Among ancient Jews blue was a religious color: the High Priest wore a blue robe and one of the tabernacle veils was blue to represent air. The Hebrew word to designate blue or purple blue is tekelet and this word seems to reference symbolic characteristics of the color. Tekelet derives from a root signifying perfection. Among ancients, initiation into the mysteries and perfection were synonymous terms. In ancient days, solemn oaths took place on blue altars. Egyptians esteemed blue as a sacred color and the body of Amun, principal god of their theology was light blue to imitate his exalted, heavenly nature. Ancient Babylonians clothed idols in blue, according to the prophet Jeremiah. In mystical philosophy, Chinese employ blue as a symbol of their deity because they say black and red compounds in this color, which represents of the obscure and brilliant; male and female; active and passive principles. Hindus represent their God, Vishnu in sky blue to indicate wisdom emanating from God. To a Druid, blue represented truth. The first three degrees of Freemasonry, called blue degrees, are conferred in a Blue Lodge.

An artist, however, speaks volumes with use of color.

I've seen photos of Waite in Egyptian garb and he certainly employs Egyptian symbolism in his deck, which is in keeping with the GD tradition. Perhaps he gave Smith the Egyptian Blues:

Egyptian blue (irtiu, sbedj) made by combining iron and copper oxides with silica and calcium produces a rich color at first, however, it is so unstable that it sometimes darkens or changes hue over time. Blue is a symbol of the sky and the waters. From the sacred Nile river emerges the ultimate teacher of regeneration but this color transcends from water to sky. It extends symbolism, not simply in annual floods, where blue takes on the meaning of life-giver and a re-grower in an arid region, but also provides symbolism for the potent Sun God Ra, a deity reincarnated daily at dawn. Emblematic of the Nile, blue ties to crops, offerings and fertility. The phoenix, a symbol of the primeval flood, appears patterned from the Egyptian heron. Herons naturally possess a gray-blue plumage but often appear with bright blue feathers in art to emphasize their association with the waters of first creation. Amon, often shown with a blue face to symbolize his role in the creation of the world, led some pharaohs to order their faces depicted in blue, as well, if they sought an association with that deity. Baboons, which are not naturally blue, sometimes bear this color if they signify the eight deities, which embody primeval forces of chaos at creation. The blue ibis, also symbolizes Thoth, which leads to speculation that the baboons were colored blue to emphasize their marked ability to learn, which connects them to Thoth the teacher deity.

I find no indication that Biblical Blue influences the deck: Here's all I found there...

BLUE, describes the color of a wound. (Proverbs 20:30). It also describes fine cloth in multiple references, starting with (Exodus 25:4) and the sky (Revelations 5:17).

I did find some intriguing ties Yoruba based Caribbean Deities in the Majors. One might expect Waite to exhibit greater control of color in the Trumps. Smith spent childhood in Kingston Jamaica, where she learned Caribbean Folklore, which she reportedly enjoyed relaying to friends and associates. Exposure to the symbolism ascribed to colors by Caribbean religions likely form a basis on her grasp of what various hues meant. Although slavery no longer existed when Smith lived in Kingston, religious practices in the area originated from beliefs of slaves seized in West Africa from the Yoruba and Ashanti tribes. Anansi the Spider, central in rare Smith writings, stems from West African beliefs.

Colors on The Fool honor Orunla, a deity presiding over spiritual initiation into adulthood in Yoruba based Caribbean belief systems.

Orunmila (Orunla) – is the only Orisha who witnessed creation of the universe and is essentially next in line to Olodumare. Encompassing wisdom and divination, he rules human destinies. He is the Orisha of priests (Babalawos) and intellectually manifests himself to them only. Babalawos abide by the Table of Ifa, where secrets of the universe and life exist. Oshun is knowledge, while Orunmila is wisdom. The two deities work together, since wisdom without knowledge is useless and those who possess knowledge without wisdom are dangerous to themselves and others. Orunmila, linked with Saint Francis of Assisi, has colors of green and yellow. Collars created by his followers simply alternate yellow and green beads until the desired length.

The red/ white color scheme on The Magician honors the Caribbean deity Shango, a powerful magician that commands lightning.

Chango (Shango) – Ruler of lightning and thunder, Shango also emerges as a warrior, well known for his sexual prowess and many wives. He demands involvement in living life to the fullest and thus deals with day-to-day challenges. Attributed to Saint Barbara by worshipers, Shango colors consist of red and white. The collar consists of six red beads followed by six white beads; then, alternates red with white six times before repeating the pattern. Shango represents a powerful magician in Yoruba belief systems, which portray him as a Christ-like fourth king sent by Olodumare to present morality to humankind. After death by hanging, he became a deity.

Skirt colors on The High Priestess suggest feminine Yemaya, a mystical Caribbean deity honored by the white and blue of her realm the sea.

Yemaya - rules over the seas and oceans. She is the Mother of all and the basis of riches. She is deep and unknowable, like the waters she rules. She is also queen of witches and secrets. Considered the Orisha of mercy, she never abandons her children. Her saint is Our Lady of Regla, the patron Saint of Havana Port. Her colors are light blue and white or crystal and blue. Collars often exhibit seven crystal beads followed by seven blue beads; then a crystal bead alternates with a blue bead seven times. White might replace the crystal beads. This sequence repeats until attainment of the desired length occurs.

I can go on but this is already too long.

I DO stand corrected on when Waite embraced Freemasonry, thanks for catching it.
Top   #23
Fulgour's Avatar
Fulgour  Fulgour is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 10 Jun 2004
Location: slumbrin in the windrows of the hours...
Posts: 7,828
Fulgour 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent
Because it is a primary source. The same reason that Christianity cannot be understood without reading the Bible. Try finding a book concerning the RWS specifically, that doesn't list the PKT in its bibliography. Why do you think those authors use it as a source? A full list might take some time to compile. I suggest you do your own research. First, let me quote you; "Jonathan Dee is like the People Magazine of Tarot." Now, what do you think is so terrible about being labelled a "pop writer", and why is it any worse than being labelled the "People Magazine of Tarot"? Evidence usually. What is your favourite method? Vincent
Do you have Waite's book? What do you think? Is it any good?
Top   #24
Vincent  Vincent is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 04 Dec 2003
Location: SA Australia
Posts: 353
Vincent 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wandking
Waite specifically states she "coloured" the deck... shall we also play with the word "drawn?"
You said; "In The Key to the Tarot, Waite writes that Smith chose the colors" but he doesn't write that all. That is your inference from what he did write. Can you not see the difference?

It is possible that Smith did choose the colours, especially the colours that were used for the first printing, but there is certainly no confirmation from Waite that this is so.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wandking
...shall we also play with the word "drawn?

In another section Waite writes, "They have been prepared under my supervision--in respect of the attributions and meanings--by a lady who has high claims as an artist. Regarding the divinatory part, by which my thesis is terminated, I consider it personally as a fact in the history of the Tarot--as such, I have drawn"
I don't see any ambiguity about the way he using 'drawn' in this context. That is, there is no ambiguity when the full quote is given;

"They have been prepared under my supervision--in respect of the attributions and meanings--by a lady who has high claims as an artist. Regarding the divinatory part, by which my thesis is terminated, I consider it personally as a fact in the history of the Tarot--as such, I have drawn, from all published sources, a harmony of the meanings which have been attached to the various cards..."

If you only read half the sentences then its not surprising meaning can become confused.

Also, in regard as to who did actually choose the colours, some people find the phrase "They have been prepared under my supervision..." to be significant.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wandking
Waite fails to offer what the scene implies on most Minor cards
Furthermore; any superficial comparison of Waite descriptions of Major and Minor Arcana affirms Waite fails to offer what the scene implies on most Minor cards, leading some to believe he allowed Smith to choose not only colors but also the nature of each scene.
Whether Smith chose the colours or not is irrelevant.

You wrote "In The Key to the Tarot, Waite writes that Smith chose the colors". This is incorrect. Waite never wrote that.

Now, as to your additional argument of who actually chose the colours and any other symbolism, I am happy to address that as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wandking
For example:

THE ACE OF SWORDS

A hand issues from a cloud, grasping as word, the point of which is encircled by a crown.
And you believe this to be an example of where "Waite fails to offer what the scene implies on most Minor cards"?

Perhaps it's me, but the description seems fairly close to the image. Where do you believe they are at variance?
Quote:
Originally Posted by wandking
THE TOWER

Occult explanations attached to this card are meagre and mostly disconcerting. It is idle to indicate that it depicts min in all its aspects, because it bears this evidence on the surface. It is said further that it contains the first allusion to a material building, but I do not conceive that the Tower is more or less material than the pillars which we have met with in three previous cases. I see nothing to warrant Papus in supposing that it is literally the fall of Adam, but there is more in favour of his alternative--that it signifies the materialization of the spiritual word. The bibliographer Christian imagines that it is the downfall of the mind, seeking to penetrate the mystery of God. I agree rather with Grand Orient that it is the ruin of the House of We, when evil has prevailed therein, and above all that it is the rending of a House of Doctrine. I understand that the reference is, however, to a House of Falsehood. It illustrates also in the most comprehensive way the old truth that "except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it."

There is a sense in which the catastrophe is a reflection from the previous card, but not on the side of the symbolism which I have tried to indicate therein. It is more correctly a question of analogy; one is concerned with the fall into the material and animal state, while the other signifies destruction on the intellectual side. The Tower has been spoken of as the chastisement of pride and the intellect overwhelmed in the attempt to penetrate the Mystery of God; but in neither case do these explanations account for the two persons who are the living sufferers. The one is the literal word made void and the other its false interpretation. In yet a deeper sense, it may signify also the end of a dispensation, but there is no possibility here for the consideration of this involved question.
Once again you have not put in everything that Waite said, that might be pertinent. Waite also says of this card;

"...the figures falling therefrom are held to be Nimrod and his minister. It is assuredly a card of confusion, and the design corresponds, broadly speaking, to any of the designations except Maison Dieu, unless we are to understand that the House of God has been abandoned and the veil of the temple rent. It is a little surprising that the device has not so far been allocated to the destruction Of Solomon's Temple, when the lightning would symbolize the fire and sword with which that edifice was visited by the King of the Chaldees."

Forgive me for being dense, but again, how is this description at variance with the image?

And how do either or both of these examples prove that Smith chose the colours?

Vincent
Top   #25

Vincent  Vincent is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 04 Dec 2003
Location: SA Australia
Posts: 353
Vincent 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fulgour
Do you have Waite's book?
Everyone has Waite's book. It is in the public domain and can be found online here;
http://www.sacred-texts.com/tarot/pkt/index.htm
What do you think? Is it any good?[/QUOTE]
Yes, especially if you are interested in the ideas that Waite personalised and iconified in his deck.

If not, then there are other books far easier to digest. Have you tried "Tarot for Dummies"? I hear its quite good.

Vincent
Top   #26
Vincent  Vincent is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 04 Dec 2003
Location: SA Australia
Posts: 353
Vincent 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wandking
Subsequent color associations are from Talks on
I can go on but this is already too long.

I DO stand corrected on when Waite embraced Freemasonry, thanks for catching it.
Thanks for taking the time to respond to what was essentially a rhetorical question. There is some good information there.



Vincent
Top   #27
wandking  wandking is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 22 Dec 2004
Location: alabama, USA
Posts: 478
wandking 

I was commenting from a widely shared opinion in my less than formal and erroneous posting that Smith chose the colors. In formal writing I notice the paragraph relating to the topic in the book i soon intend to submit states:

Obviously, to use this book to the fullest potential a Waite/ Smith style deck is highly recommended. U.S. Games Systems Inc. offers a variety of decks, which are close but not exact replicas of the deck crafted by Pamela Smith. These decks all bear the names Rider or Waite. There is even a pack of cards called The Original Rider/ Waite Tarot Pack, which attempts to duplicate the colors suggested by Smith. The original plates were lost or destroyed during the bombing of London in World War II and most current Waite/ Smith decks are printed using the existing examples of cards crafted with those original plates. Keep in mind that color tends to fade and change, over time. It is very likely; no modern version replicates exact shades of color Smith originally employed. During research, it became apparent that there is a misconception among Tarot enthusiasts concerning who selected the colors for the Waite/ Smith cards. In his book, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, A. E. Waite provides an end to any further speculation with these words: “The Tarot cards which are issued with the small edition of the present work, that is to say, with the Key to the Tarot, have been drawn and coloured by Miss Pamela Colman Smith, and will, I think, be regarded as very striking and beautiful, in their design alike and execution.” Like any respected artist,Smith influences color use in her artwork, which demands research into cultural influences that likely affect her choices.

The preceeding entry prefaces a rather exhaustive study of color symbolism that likely influenced choices by Smith and Waite...

Apparently, I approach the same advice from the opposite direction as Vincent.... The Pictorial Key serves to unlock the deck. It leads to paths written about by Levi (but if you only read english, get ready for more Waite, as translator) Crowley, Mathers, Papus and Blavatsky. Perhaps your quest will also lead into the colorful mind of an artist named Smith.

Rhetorical or not the part of my posting on Waites' activity in Masonry came from a clumsy writing transition in the "formal" text i intend to submit. By picking out the flaw you allow me to correct it. thanks

I draw my humble writing skills from a media background and in news, nothing stings like broadcasting (or submitting to publishers) a factual error. Mark Twain said "You are not a writer until someone else calls you one" or something to that effect. In media, copy rarely enjoys the luxury of any association to good writing but media does offer the comfort of proof-readers, which I sorely miss.
Top   #28
Lillie's Avatar
Lillie  Lillie is offline
Frog
 
Join Date: 12 Dec 2004
Location: Nowhere
Posts: 11,969
Lillie 

Ho hum.

I buy a book for 99p and moan about it, but I didn't expect to start a war.

Never mind.

I am not generally a stupid person. I have spent my life reaing and finding things out. However, I only speak English. So, Vincent, if you would care to translate 'l'étoile flamboyante' for me, I might know why Waites star has 8 points.

But on the whole I did not find Waites book difficult to understand. And still I maintain that he does not say nearly as much as he might have.

Yes, I can find out from different sources, some by Waite, some by others, but I would have thought that Waite could have been good enough to give a full explanation of his cards in the book that he wrote about those cards.
There is not that much symbolism on each card that he could not have managed to fit most of it into his book (especially if he had cut out the bit where he says how wrong everyone else is).

The fact that I can, and probably, will search out what I see as missing info, does not make me less dissapointed in the book.
All the way through (and I did read it in full) I got the message, loud and clear, that Waite was the 'great I am', who knew things that he was choosing to keep from lesser mortals like me.
And that is one thing that is certain to get my back up.
And mine is not a PKT. It's just a KT. No pictures (and a broken spine) but what did I expect for 99p?

Oh, and by the way, why is this deck supposedly less easy to understand than anyone elses?
Crowley's for instance? Oh yes, that would be because Crowley wrote a book explaining his choice of symbols.
Top   #29
wandking  wandking is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 22 Dec 2004
Location: alabama, USA
Posts: 478
wandking 

not only does it have 8 points, there are 8 stars in the scene, making the number more significant. 17 the number on the Star also reduces to 8 nemerically. Here's some basic numerology for the eigth life-path:

NUMBER EIGHT – POWER: In numerology, the number eight throngs with the power of manifestation. After the destabilizing energy of seven, eight surfaces as a problem solver. This number opens doors to the professional realm of power and money. At this level, we discover the managerial qualities of an organizer. The number eight sustains over-riding principles of domination, control and achievement. Eight comes across as the executive decision-maker. With an obvious awareness of the material world, the numeration often leads to success in business or financial endeavors. This is also a number of methodical work and keen perceptions, showing a flair for achieving goals. Obviously, the energy of this number tends to be rather formal, stern and hardheaded. More comfortable in the realm of material, tangible facts, the eight becomes exceptional after developing a more spiritual connection but it often lacks compassion. Pythagoras emphasized the study of music and eight implies an octave, a basic component of music. Eight indicates a leader with a grasp of the strategy needed to accomplish goals. Gifts for the eight include decisiveness; courage; focus and an ability to delegate. Hostility, anger and being manipulative or judgmental are the strongest challenges. Achieving power, status and control over the environment are the primary goals of the eight. Those who reduce to eight succeed as any type of profession as a; business owner; publisher; contractor; engineer; financial analyst or judge. Individuals, who reduce to this number, fear being at the mercy of circumstances or others less capable and dread loss of prestige.

In The Star eight achieves a spiritual connection and becomes truly exceptional by shaking off many of the materialistic qualities of the number. Still, The Star holds fast to basic numeric values and offers success.
Top   #30
Elsewhere on Aeclectic Tarot
· Tarot Cards & Reviews
· Free Tarot Readings
· Tarot eBooks
· Tarot Card Meanings

Aeclectic Tarot Categories
· Angel Decks
· Dark & Gothic Decks
· Goddess Decks
· Fairy Decks
· Doreen Virtue Decks
· Beginner Decks
· Cat Decks
· Pagan & Wiccan Decks
· Ancient Egyptian Decks
· Celtic Decks
· Lenormand Decks
· Rider-Waite Decks
· Marseilles Decks
· Thoth Decks
· Oracle Decks
· List All Decks
· Popular Tarot Decks
· Available Decks
· What's New

Copyright © 1996 - 2021 Aeclectic Tarot. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy. Contact us.