Waite's FRC Tree of Life Diagram


I think it's a little of both. Occult fraternities are usually always the keepers of something from the past; but where facts or knowledge are lacking they come up with ideas of their own to fill in the blanks, sometimes quite creatively, other times not so much. I don't think the Tarot was ever intended as a match for the paths but it's evolved into it, beginning with the marriage between Tarot and Kabbalah.

Waite's system is the first I've been motivated to study because it's so different from anything else I've seen and it sometimes helps elucidate his first Tarot trumps, about which next to nothing of real substance has been written. :)


Thought I'd post an updated Tree diagram and link above. The main change is the switching places of the Fool and Magician, i.e. Magician from Chockmah-Chesed to Binah-Geburah, and vice-versa for the Fool. I'm missing one ritual that might clarify exactly which one goes where, so I've been relying on the website linked to above in Post #5; but I've found a couple of their correspondences I know for sure are incorrect, so it's not inconceivable I've found another. Besides this there are clues in the rituals I do have, and in the images, that seem to confirm my suspicions.

First, the Magician in the RWS has a link to Geburah through the black pillar "leg" of the table; and the word DIN was an alternative name for Geburah in the GD. Also, the Waite-Trinick Magician has a connection to Geburah through the pentagram floating above his head. The pentagram was a symbol of Geburah in the GD and Waite clearly identifies it as a symbol of Geburah in the FRC. In the RWS Magician, the "grace, virtue and light" being drawn down are obviously from Binah; this is another clue pointing to the Magician as occupying the path Binah-Geburah.

Great Symbol of the Magician

The pentagram is also seen in the Great Symbol of Death which is the symbol of the path leading to Geburah in the FRC.

Great Symbol of Death

For the Fool there's a reference in the Adeptus Minor initiation. At the beginning there's a list of Robes and Jewels of the Celebrants and Members; one of the items listed for the officer the "Merciful Exempt Adept" [Chesed], is a "Wand surmounted by the figure of the Risen Christ." The Great Symbol of the Fool is a picture of the risen Christ (notice wounds in hands, feet and chest), so it seems appropriate that it would be on the path above Chesed.

Great Symbol of the Fool

Furthermore, in the FRC, the grades Adeptus Minor, Adeptus Major and Adeptus Exemptus have the following correspondences:

Adeptus Minor (Tiphareth): House of Life
Adeptus Major (Geburah): House of Death
Adeptus Exemptus (Chesed): House of Resurrection

following the "Christ-Life Formula" Waite used. This is another clue that supports the Fool as risen Christ on the path Chokmah-Chesed.

Any ideas or feedback let me know. :)


I switched paths 16 & 17 back to how they were before and updated the Tree diagram. After a careful review and rereading of the Adeptus Major and Adaeptus Exemptus rituals, I believe they were correct they way they were, despite appearances. I'll forgo all the technical details and just say the meanings of Zain and Vau work a lot better this way.

Traditionally, the Hierophant is Vau; what Waite appears to have done is made the Hierophant Lamed (one meaning of which is "teach") and moved Vau to the path above. In this arrangement, the Magician is seen as a "hierophant" on a higher plane—a priest and interpreter of higher mysteries; the Hierophant below is a teacher of morality on the lower planes to humanity at large. In the FRC, Adepts reaching the grade of Chesed automatically became Priests and Authorized Teachers. Another strong clue is in the number of the Chesed grade: "The Pass-Word of the Grade is Ahav, signifying Love, and thence is derived the Mystical Number, which is 8, being that of Christ the Spirit." 8, it will be remembered, is the number Waite associates with the RWS Magician. There's also the issue of the "Great Symbol of the Rose-Cross" on the front of the Magician's garment—only Adepts reaching the grade of Chesed were allowed to wear it.

The Pentagram above the Magician's head appears to be a dead giveaway that would associate him with Geburah, but things are not always as they seem. I believe it's carried over from Geburah and the previous ritual. Geburah symbolizes mystic death and an inner experience. The Great Symbol shows a naked soul clothed in the brilliant light of a Pentagram which symbolizes the Holy Spirit from Binah. Chesed symbolizes bodily resurrection and a return to the outward manifest state. To me it appears the Pentagram above the Magician's head, while in some respects does symbolize Geburah, in this case symbolizes the Spirit with which the Magician is now empowered. It's similar in meaning to the lemniscate above the Magician in the RWS, which Waite calls "the sign of the Holy Spirit." The Adeptus Exemptus (Chesed) initiation says: "The priesthood is of the inward spirit in Geburah, but of the body also in Chesed."

The Tree is also more balanced with this arrangement. Waite follows a consistent numbering pattern all the way down which a person can see in the Tree diagram; if paths 16 and 17 are switched, it throws it off. There are many other factors, but listing them all would be tedious and would probably be information overload anyway.

Sorry to flip-flop; I know that can be confusing. If anyone wants additional clarification or has comments just let me know. :)


Something that more or less settles it for me is the large dark orb above the Fool. Don't know why I didn't think of this before, but Binah is by her very nature darkness; her only light is that which is reflected from another source. The Fool's downward-facing palms give the impression he's descending from Binah above into Geburah below. :)


I've been making small changes to the Tree Diagram off and on but this is the first one in awhile that I felt needed any comment. I moved Vau of the Divine Name from Daath to Tiphareth. I was examining the Rituals a little more closely and I can't find where Waite specifies exactly where it should be, at least in the ones I have. Technically Vau includes the Sephiroth from Yesod to Daath, so Tiphareth seems like the most logical place; and some of the material in the Rituals seems more clear with Vau centered in Tiphareth. In the absence of any new evidence to the contrary, that's where I'm leaving it.


Vau on the TOL

Abrac I'd say that your attribution of Vau to Tiphereth is correct .
In the "Holy Kabbalah" Waite says : " It is to be noted that Vau , the letter which symbolizes the Divine Son as on a Great Cross of Manifestation , is denominated Tiphereth , because it contains all things , exercises domination in all and is invested with all Sacred Names." ( Page 607 0f the University Books edition of 1972 ).

I'm not sure why what comes after the " because " necessarily follows but there it is anyway.


That's a good quote. He says something similar in The Secret Doctrine in Israel, Ch. 16, 1913:

"Later Kabalism locates the conception of Yod in Chokmah, excogitated as King and Father; He in Binah, as Queen and Mother; Vau posited in the Six Briatic and Yetziratic Sephiroth from Chesed to Yesod inclusive, but enthroned especially as the Son in Tiphereth; while the He final is in Malkuth."​

But I'm not sure how accurately these quotes reflect Waite's own personal views. In his article "The Great Symbols of the Tarot," Occult Review, January, 1926, he says something a little different (also found in Shadows of Life and Thought, Ch. 20):

"He [Levi] could then have allocated correctly as follows: the King to Chokmah, the Queen to Binah, the Knight to the six lower Sephiroth from Chesed to Yesod inclusive, governed by the semi-Sephira Daath, and the Damoiselle to Malkuth. He would have found also in this manner a complete correspondence between these Trumps Minor and the four letters of the Tetragram."​

This sounds like Waite saw Vau as governing from Daath. But where he assigns it in the FRC system is a mystery. Probably Tiphareth, but I'm not sure.


Sorry - misread

Daath in the GD was the intermediary between the supernal trinity and the world below - the redeemer (Zair Anpin - microscopus - the six sephiroth Chesed to Yesod) is begotten by Aima (Binah) and Abba (Chokmah) and is represented by Daath as intermediary between the supernal triad and the 'fallen' universe.

"The Fall, which cut away the higher from the lower Sephiroth in Daath, was also our descent into this life, as it were, from that Upper and Higher Soul."
10th Knowledge Lecture

Also in the 4th is a section on how the four river of Eden flow from Daath...


The FRC seems similar to the GD with one exception, Microposopus includes Malkuth. This can be seen in Waite's familiar illustration. In the FRC Practicus Ritual he describes a diagram which sounds like it's based on this illustration. Vau corresponds to the "Divine Son" (a.k.a. Microposopus) so logically Vau would encompass everything from Daath to Malkuth:

"Kether is called the place of God and His Shekinah in the state of absolute Union; but the procession of the Great Law brought them forth in a state of distinction, which is not to be understood as separation. They became in this manner the Abba, or Father, in Chokmah and the Great Mother, Aima, who is the transcendent Shekinah in Binah, corresponding respectively to the letters Yod and He of the Divine Name. These are male and female, and they produced—as the fruit of their union—a Divine Son, who is shewn in the Diagram extended on the Sephirotic Cross. His head rests upon Daath, which is Supernal Knowledge; the arms stretch to Chesed and Geburah, while Tiphereth is over the region of the heart; and that which in the purity of the Secret Tradition is termed an organ of holiness is veiled by the Sephira Yesod. The feet of the figure rest on Malkuth, to indicate that the Kingdom of this world is in subjection to the Kingdom of Heaven. Among the letters of the Divine Name, this Divine Son is in correspondence with Vau."​

From what I've been able to infer from the rituals, the Sephiroth Daath to Malkuth represent different aspects of Microposopus, so I guess Vau would correspond to them all in different ways.

In reading through some of this material again I stumbled onto something interesting that I missed before. Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malkuth correspond to Yod, He, Vau and He respectively and represent the First and Second Orders. The Third Order, summarized in Tiphareth, is represented by Shin and completes the name Yeheshuah, or Christ. The First and Second Order initiations represent a "restoration" of the Divine Name, while the Portal represents a new birth in Spirit. For example from the Portal Ritual:

"Guide of the Paths: Master of the Portal, I testify that the Postulant has traversed all the paths and dwelt in all the Sephiroth of the First and Second Orders; that the Divine Name Yod, He, Vau, He has been restored in a sacrament within him; that with the zeal of his whole being he looks towards the Second Birth and the sacred letter of the spirit which completes the Divine Name. He bears it on the Cosmic Cross, which is the Badge of his Admission."​


"The word of the Portal is Yeheshuah, which is at once a Divine Name in the personal and universal sense, signifying the Christ manifest in life and time, and the cosmic Christ. It is formed by placing the sacred letter Shin in the centre of the four letters Yod, He, Vau, He, which are read by us as Jehovah. You know that these letters are inscribed on the laminae of the Officers in the worlds of symbolism through which you have passed, under the obedience of the Rosy Cross. They signify the purified state of the four parts of personality, to which the Officers correspond. The Third Order is concerned with the quest and attainment of that state which is symbolized by the letter Shin. Therefore, this sacred letter is emblazoned in the centre of the rose on the Rosy Cross which I bear. I invest you with the corresponding jewel of the Third Order."​

I'm not sure if this is similar in the GD Portal Ritual, I know Waite cribbed a lot of their material for his own rituals. It's interesting to note in light of this the letters of the Name YHVH on the breast of Waite's Temperance card, Temperance being the card corresponding in the GD to the 25th Path, that of the Portal. :)

*I think what I'll do is move Vau back to Daath and put Shin in Tiphareth. Though not exactly precise, it'll be a good working model.

**From The Secret Doctrine in Israel, toward the end of Ch. 3:

"The reference to Yesod shows that the Lesser Form is extended through the Lower Sephiroth. It is the Begotten Son or Vau whose place we have been seeking on the Tree; and as its name is Daath or Knowledge, being a semi-Sephira which represents the junction point of the influences flowing from Chokmah and Binah, the inference is that the Lesser Countenance or Head is located there, while the feet are situated in Malkuth, as later Kabalism affirms."​

This is from Kabbalistic literature and not Waite himself, but it seems to be the view he adopted. A distinction is made between the Lesser Countenance (Head) and Lesser Form (body).