Lovers: Woman instrument of Secret Law of Providence?


In the PKT Waite says:

"The suggestion in respect of the woman is that she signifies that attraction towards the sensitive life which carries within it the idea of the Fall of Man, but she is rather the working of a Secret Law of Providence than a willing and conscious temptress."​

This is a perplexing mystery. The only way I can see of interpreting it is Providence preordained the Fall with the woman serving as an unwitting instrument for its accomplishment. I have a couple of questions:

1. Are there any alternative interpretations than that which I stated above?

2. Is there anything in the old literature from which Waite would've gotten this idea. I've done some digging but so far found nothing; every account of the Fall I've found mentions nothing like this.


Ahh, just found something that could be an answer, though not a smoking gun necessarily.

It's in Waite's Secret Doctrine in Israel. He talks about the roles of Samael and the serpent in the Fall, according to the Zohar. The demon Samael—who rides upon the back of the serpent—plays the role of tempter, not the woman; both the man and woman give in to temptation and seal their fates, but Samael is God's messenger as the tempter.

"There is a distinction made in the Zohar between the serpent mentioned in Genesis and him who rode thereon. It is said that the serpent was female and was she who is called the Prostituted Woman. She was the wife of him who rode upon her back, and this was Samael the death-angel. . . .Samael is the tempter-spirit whose purpose is to put man to the test. . ."​


"We shall have to take back into our hearts every primitive form of thought before we shall consent to believe that the Holy One, blessed be He, created the tempter-spirit so that He might put man to the test; but this is one of the theses, as we have seen, and it follows in such case that 'he is also God’s minister.' Perhaps it is for this reason that there is a counsel not to affront the demon, since in virtue of such an imposed office he would be sacred, like the executioner."​

In the PKT Waite is clarifying the symbolism: she's not that "attraction towards the sensitive life. . ." nor is she a temptress; she is that through which "man shall arise ultimately. . ." and "the great mystery of womanhood."


The idea of the Fall is in this card to a certain extent, especially the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the serpent of temptation, suggesting what will happen; but that doesn't seem to be the main idea Waite's trying to get across.

After thinking about this some more, it seems to me the "Secret Law of Providence" to which Waite refers is specifically that Providence which makes the woman man's means of ultimate recovery. I thought he was saying the Fall was also part of that Providence; and it seems clear enough—from the Zohar at least—that the temptation was part of God's plan, but I don't think that's exactly what Waite is dealing with here. He seems to be illustrating the state of perfection before the Fall and womanhood as man's means of arising after the Fall. :)


Ran across something that provides some excellent insight to what Waite probably means here. It's from A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery, 1850, by Mary Anne Atwood. It's from a personal correspondence dated 1901:

"Why he fell or was allowed to fall is not, either, inexplicable under the eternal free-will concept—of a yet higher good to be gained than was otherwise attainable. By the free-will return in grateful submission, the highest realisation of Deity is accomplished, and it will be accomplished when the times are ripe."​

I can see a similar ideology in Waite, though he doesn't explain himself. They were allowed to fall because the Law of Providence had destined them for greater things, things that weren't possible any other way. The woman's "lapse" made it all possible; and because it was she who lapsed, it is through her regeneration that "man shall arise ultimately." I believe all of this is symbolic, the woman representing the soul, whether in a man or woman.

Waite acknowledges Atwood's influence in 1893 in his Azoth, or The Star in the East; and he refers to her book frequently throughout his writings:

"We refer to that epoch-making book which was published in 1850, under the title, A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery and Alchemy. Without being committed to the entire scope of its doctrine, we gratefully acknowledge that it has been a source of help and leading, and has chiefly impelled our researches into the transcendental activities of Azoth, and the supreme mystery of spiritual evolution."​


I'm not sure if you're seeking an answer to something specific here - because we'll probably never get one!

What I will say is that before we were fixed in solid form we could enter and leave form at will. This may represent our state in the so called Eden/Spirit life. We know the snake as wisdom but also a bit of a cunning dude. The apple represents the sweetness and pleasure of that fruit - and any of the other physical pleasures we got attached to that meant we were no longer able to get back into the garden of Eden (leave and enter physical form at will).

Man is higher than the angels supposedly - something to do with them never having entered into physical form. So in that sense, they're pure and untainted and haven't been tempted by the entering and leaving at will aspect: but they're lacking a little something - experience. The woman being the vessel of childbirth and therefore the conduit for life which continues the evolutionary cycle which will clean us up so to speak, is providential, evidently. Sometimes I like to look at the origins of words, their dictionary meanings to get a fuller understanding of what is typically known, as words do seem to change their meaning through time. What does Waite understand providence to be?

Woman is written in the bible as the cause of our fall - but there are symbols with the apple and snake that tell us something more. Eve wasn't necessarily the temptress, because Adam could have said no - God told him not to eat from the tree, not her. Eve was created as a way out of the mess - even if she supposedly got us into it.

Doubt I've contributed anything to your search!


The question I had, which perhaps wasn't framed very well, is about the "Secret Law of Providence." Why would it deliberately work to manufacture our Fall, or at least allow it? Mary Anne Atwood's explanation seems to be a pretty good one and satisfies for now; though not directly from Waite, she was an important influence.

By "Providence" Waite seems to mean Divine purpose or a conscious intent as these quotes from his memoir demonstrate:

"It may have been about this time that we were walking out, once on an afternoon, when it pleased God to send us rain in summer, and we were driven into the refuge of a Church. That gates may open strangely, on strange unknown realms, is on record full often in the high romance of mind. They open on the Land of Psyche and also on the Land of Nous. Moreover, rain in summer may itself be even as a figurative golden gate. It was eminently such in this case, for that towards which it led me was world without end in God. Was it not a Guardian Angel which set the Church-door ajar and took us safely in? It happened also, because of the Providence which works in sacred darkness to shape great ends and true, that a certain Father Rooke was found within. . . ."​

"The books of my childhood were few and far between; but the Providence which shapes our ends to insure its own purpose was at work among them."​

I've also entertained the idea of woman as the vessel of childbirth and conduit of life. It has a lot of things in its favor. As one example, God said to the serpent after the Fall, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." The woman's offspring will ultimately defeat the serpent, though only after many trials.

In Waite's description he says something specific so I believe there is a specific answer, it's just a matter of discovering it. It may take time, and may or may not yield fruit; but one thing's for sure—if one doesn't seek, one will certainly never find. :)


The seeking is like finding little hidden pieces of treasure as we go along. Perhaps life is a treasure hunt, and we're given maps such as the things we read, the sights and visions we see and find magic in - the little ecstasies we feel and epiphanies we are in awe of. Sometimes these treasures and other cannot be shared with others: they are our own precious secret, our own peculiar gifts. The musing is a delight, the answers that come tease us to keep searching.

Waite is likely leading you to a door: you search around the door for the hidden key, then find it and step through the door into a new universe of understanding. There are then other doors and universes. But on the way, we create doors and hide keys of our own which others may step through and they then create their own which we step through. But the keys need to be hidden, or at the least we should have many doors to try before a door opens.

Gene Wilder in the boat in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory comes to mind "The suspense is killing me, I hope it lasts". And I have learnt (however difficult it was to accept) that I will not know it all - for this divine providence you speak of is continually creating. Happy travels and Eureka moments!


The following is from the 1918 updated version of Atwood's A Suggestive Inquiry. It has an Appendix which contains a series of her private memoranda and reflections on Hermeticism. This particular one gives a bit more detail on her metaphisics of the Fall and Restoration.

"94. The strength of the attraction of that which is above (the feminine principle,—Wisdom,—the heart life), forces, draws, attracts, as by a magnet, the self-willed source upwards, so that this latter becomes transmuted into a passive feminine principle. The draw up is sudden and as at an instant; a sudden force of admiration does it; it is love which attracts. Nothing else could move that principle from its self-conscious centre into self-oblivion. The seed of this life, the paternal principle, is drawn up. As the feminine spirit is the cause of the Fall, so is it in an advanced stage, you know, the cause of the restoration when it advances up there. When the attraction is placed above instead of below, a restoration of what was lost takes place and more also; if Paradise regained were merely the old Paradise regained, why, then, the Fall would be a thing to be wondered at and deplored; but seeing that it promises in the restoration a much greater good (for the second Adam is greater than the first) may we not regard it as in accordance with the "eternal purpose, purposed in Christ Jesus, our Lord?"​


In Waite's books on Kabbalah he discusses a doctrine that's very different from conventional Biblical theology and could explain the "Secret Law of Providence" mentioned in the PKT. It's also in Jacob Boehme and others. The gist of it is Adam was tempted and sinned before the woman came on the scene. After Adam sinned, the woman was created as a preventative measure to help him avoid sinking further into the depths of Hell (as Lucifer before him had done). They were placed in the garden, and this time the woman was tempted and lapsed. At this point God said, and I'm paraphrasing, "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head!" (Genesis 3:15) This is generally regarded as a prophecy of Christ, who was born of a woman. There's no record of Adam and Eve having sex before the Fall, so the assumption is they started procreating after the Fall. This is what Waite means when he says, "It is through her imputed lapse that man shall arise ultimately." Her lapse was what started procreation, which in turn brought the Christ. While Waite acknowledges the validity of other religions, he was absolutely convinced that Christianity was the perfect way and that Christ's incarnation (the second Adam) holds the key to humanity's redemption.

Dr. Hans Lassen Martensen, in Jacob Boehme—His Life and Teaching, gives a very good summary of the whole thing:

"According to Böhme, Adam had already sinned prior to the creation of Eve. Namely, Adam was originally androgynous, or the unity of man and woman, which does not imply that he was hermaphrodite. Adam was a higher unity of man and woman—a union of severity and gentleness, strength and beauty, which union was subsequently sundered into the contrast between man and woman. Certainly, he had a bride. But this bride, this wife of his youth, to whom he became unfaithful, was the pure, chaste maiden, the heavenly Sophia, Wisdom, that dwelt in him. For, as Theosophy so frequently re-iterates, Wisdom, the Idea, can, at the same time, diffuse itself throughout all created space, can pervade, and most subtilely permeate all things, and can also concentrate itself, and dwell absolutely in one individual soul. In union with this heavenly spouse, Adam was to have multiplied himself in a supernatural way, and was to have produced out of himself beings like himself, in whom the maiden could dwell. But when Adam assembled the animals and gave them names, he saw that they were paired; he was then seized with an earthly lust to propagate himself in a "bestial" fashion. Then the Sinful Fall had already commenced; for he had now set his imagination upon the natural world and the nature-spirit, "spiritus mundi," over which he was to have been highly exalted. The heavenly, pure, modest, and chaste Virgin departed from him, and returned into the æther; the Divine Image grew pale; and Adam became absolutely powerless. Then the Lord caused a deep sleep to fall upon him. For God saw that, if a greater calamity and crime was to be averted, if Adam was not to sink still lower, there was no other expedient than that of giving him a woman as his helpmeet. Thus, Adam slept away from the heavenly world, and awoke in the earthly.

During his sleep a great change had occurred. The woman had been taken out of his side, out of his rib. God had closed up the place with flesh, which flesh leads us to think of the belly, which is the most fleshy part of the human body (Κοιλία, 1 Corinthians, vi. 13), where the difference between male and female is specially localized. During the slumber, He had made hard bones, and had brought into separation the organs that belong to sexual distinction as well as those that belong to the vegetative processes. When Adam awoke from sleep, the heavenly maiden had vanished. But there stood beside him the woman, the wife, Eve. Eve was lovely and graceful, but she was a “cagastric” person, i.e., she was subject to the influence of the stars, the elements, and the spirit of nature; she was an earthly woman. Adam also had become earthly, and she suited him. They mirrored themselves in one another. He set his imagination upon her; she set hers upon him. They did not, however, notice as yet that they were naked; this they did not discover until the sin was complete. Eve allowed herself to be deluded by the serpent, into which creature the devil had insinuated himself, in order to be able to tempt and seduce her. She ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree, and gave her husband thereof. When they had tasted this fruit unto death, and now both of them had death in their life, they could no longer remain in Paradise.

From this time forth, they begat children, and lived in manifold earthly miseries and troubles in this great world, to which they had surrendered themselves, and by the spirit of which they were now constrained. They consoled themselves, however, with the promise, as yet dimly understood, "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head!" Nor was the relation to the maiden, the heavenly Sophia, in every sense abolished. For she, the heavenly, chaste, modest, and pure maiden, could not forget her favourite, her Adam. Sometimes she displayed herself to him by night as a constellation shining before him at an infinite distance, reminding him of the eternal, heavenly, paradisiacal regions, stirring in him wondrous yearnings and mighty thoughts. Sometimes she sought him at lonely hours, and met him in solitary paths; just as even now she seeks those true lovers who are willing to prepare for her an abode in their hearts.​

In this scenario, the woman indeed is no conscious temptress, but a vehicle of Divine Providence. :)


In Catholic theology the Fall is sometimes called a "happy fault ' or " felix culpa ' . The idea is that Providence allowed it to happen but took a greater good from it ...the Incarnation and Redemption.