Temperance and the septenary symbol


I've written an article, in which I attempt to show that the septenary symbol on Temperance's breast refers to the transformation of the rational mind, using two of the Waite Trinick images and quotes from Waite's FRC rituals. It's only four pages but it was a bit much to try and post so I thought it might be better to just create a PDF document. I've called it Temperance Decoded, but this doesn't mean I think that I've entirely decoded it, it's just the title that came to mind so that's what I went with. This is a direct download link.

Temperance Decoded.pdf 1.35 MB


The square as the rational or material mind is making more and more sense, to me at least. The phrase "material mind" is one Waite uses frequently and is synonymous with "natural mind" or "rational mind." The square is an excellent way to symbolize it, though this is the first time I've encountered it.

Also, it seems possible to me that the triangle represents the emergence of the soul. Here are a couple of more easily-digestible quotes from Waite that point to this:

"Above all, we are not concerned with the Old Law or the Old Temple, or with anything indeed but the Old Wine of the Doctrine, as against the comparative water of the old official religions, the indiscriminate providences, the rough ashlars of the exoteric priesthoods, which for many thousands of years have held a patent to establish the Kingdom of Heaven, and have tried as honestly as they could, but have failed always, even as external Masonry has preached the love of brothers and has not understood that love must be declared in the soul before it can sanctify the body or rule in the material mind.—The Secret Tradition in Freemasonry, "Of Christian Symbolism in Connection with Temple Building."​

"It comes about in this manner that we recognise the presence within us of Mind in another mode and after another aspect, which is or may become our guide into all truth. Beyond the vision of the rational mind there is this deeper state which has been known to some, according to records of the ages, and it is known at this day even to a few thinkers in the sacred heart of their being. . .There are the intimations of living experience behind official doctrine, the mind of the Soul behind the rational or so-called material mind."—Shadows of Life and Thought, Ch. 26.​

The triangle represents the awaking of consciousness, the "mind of the Soul" as Waite calls it. The soul, filled with love, "rules in the material mind."


I stumbled across an amazing image from the "Water-Stone of the Wise," a treatise on Christian alchemy originally published in the early 17th century. Waite was certainly familiar with it as it's translated and printed in The Hermetic Museum, Restored and Enlarged, 1893, which he edited and wrote a Preface for. He also makes a reference to it in a footnote in his 1926 The Secret Tradition in Alchemy, pg. 10. It shows a hand holding a torch reaching down from a radiant triangle to light a candle that's rising out of of a heart. The stump on which the candlestick is placed has many visible roots going into the earth. Two figures wearing crowns who look like they might be priests, or at least men of importance, are walking away into the darkness while the ordinary fellow is illuminated by, and in awe of the light.

This image is from the 1743 edition which I found at Internet Archive. There's also a 1760 edition that has the same frontispiece. :)



I updated the document and added some additional material on the solar symbolism of Temperance, starting below Fig. 2, on pg. 2, and going to the end of the page. I also made some minor modifications and corrected typos throughout.

Edit: I had a few problems with the upload. They have been corrected and the latest version is now available.


I went through the document and did some serious editing. In the main it's the same but I changed a lot of things to make it more readable and hopefully more clear. I added a couple of things to the last paragraph of page two. Hopefully I'm done messing with it for awhile. :D


I ran across a reference from Waite where he calls Temperance a type of Shekinah. It's from his lecture "The Tarot and the Rosy Cross" dated c. 1910. If the dating is correct—and there's good reason to believe it's close—then it shows Waite associating the Temperance angel with Shekinah around the time the Waite-Smith tarot was created. Summarizing his comment, the High Priestess is Shekinah in the world of Supernals; Temperance is Shekinah in Briah; the World is Shekinah in Yetzirah; and in Assiah Shekinah is represented by the Hegemon of the Order. Shekinah isn't mentioned by name but the context from which this is taken is dealing specifically with Shekinah.

"Lastly, as the wings of Aima Elohim [Supernal Mother] cover the Supernal Sephiroth in the world of Atziluth, she is the synthesis of that world and is represented as such in the Tarot card of the High Priestess. In her substituted form of Temperance she is called—as we have seen and know otherwise—the synthesis of Tiphereth, and Tiphereth is the synthesis of Briah. As the Isis of Nature in the 21st card, she is the synthesis of Yetzirah; and in Assiah—which is the world of things as they are, the earth and the fulness thereof—she is represented in our Outer Temple by a human being, the Hegemon of the Golden Dawn, who from one point of view should be therefore always a woman, save and except that in the truest and highest sense the male is not without the female nor the female apart from the male, each implied in each and both expressed in either."​


Hello Abrac.

Wow, I have never seen the Waite-Trinick images. I thank you for your article and introducing me. Your scholarly tone and approach are credible and I'm curious about your ultimate goal. Are you writing a book yourself? You've certainly compiled and shared some wonderful info here. As someone who is only just beginning to delve deep in the RWS, I found every tidbit new and exciting. Of course, I cannot find any copies of Mary K. Greer's book anywhere. If the internet is to be believed, there were only 250 copies produced, so no wonder. In any case, it is interesting to see (through those images and Temperance in particular) how Waite himself changed his attempts to communicate the information when prepared directly for GD members.

I suspect there is a conspiracy to keep the RT hidden away by the US games folks.... ((tongue in cheek... mostly))


Hey Ididdy, thanks for the positive feedback, good to hear you enjoyed it.

My main goal is to get inside Waite's head and understand where he's coming from. I was so frustrated by superficial explanations I had no choice but to delve deeper. Second is to share some of what I discover so other might benefit. I've gained a lot from this Forum so it's my way of giving something back. I will never write a book, partly because I wouldn't enjoy doing it; the work and research involved in producing something worthy of the subject matter would be enormous; and secondly I only do this as a hobby, granted a fairly intense hobby at the moment but who knows for how long. :)

Which of Greer's books are you referring to?


All the images from the Waite-Trinick Tarot can be viewed at the British Museum website, http://www.britishmuseum.org/resear...x?assetId=1089907001&objectId=725678&partId=1, scroll down the page to see thumbs. I say all, but I believe there are additional versions of some of the cards in Abiding in the Sanctuary which aren't shown on the BM website.

I don't have the book so anything I say will have to be taken with that in mind. As you may have noticed on Mary Greer's blog, about halfway down the page in the Comments section, Paul Nagy has posted links to a teleconference based on the book, which he hosted. The second link opens a page which has all five weeks listed in the sidebar and can be downloaded. I've listened to all five a couple of times, and based on the discussion the participants don't seem to have much of a clue as to what the images are supposed to represent. This isn't a criticism of them, but it tells me something about the book, which doesn't seem to have been very well researched. It has the images and some very superficial descriptions and that's about it. It does have a Tree of Life diagram that shows Waite's letter/tarot/path correspondences used in the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, but these have been available since 2002 when Decker and Dummett published them in A History of the Occult Tarot (2002). I'm not one to diminish someone else's work and effort so I will only say the authors should be applauded for bringing these images to people's attention (although the Waite-Trinick Tarot had already been written about and described at least as early as 2002 in A History of the Occult Tarot). Is it worth the money you'll have to fork over if and when you can find a copy? Definitely not in my opinion.

K. Frank Jensen has written an unvarnished review of Abiding in the Sanctuary which seems to have been scrubbed from the internet, at least I can't find it anymore. I have a copy though. If anyone's interested PM me and I'll give you the download link.