- Rose Arbor - may be a reference to Rosicrucianism. Members of the
Rosicrucian orders, such as the inner order of the Golden Dawn, were considered to be
great magicians and alchemists.
- Roses & Lilies - in the “Pictorial Key,” Waite writes: "Beneath
are roses and lilies, the flos campi and lilium convallium,
changed into garden flowers..." The
Latin words are from the Vulgate (Latin) Bible, the Song of Songs, Chap 2, Verse 1,
“I am the Rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys. As a lily among the thistles, so is my
love among the thistles, so is my love among the maidens” - so the words are translated as
Rose of Sharon and Lily of the Valley. So that is the ultimate source of the symbolism.
The more immediate source comes from the Golden Dawn initiation ceremonies, as
outlined in the
"Cipher Document." In the Zelator Initiation, (lines 12-13) are the words
"Rose of Sharon. Lily of [the] Valle[y]. Also in the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross
(87) is a reference to Isiah 35:1 - “The desert shall blossum as the Rose.” The
Vulgate says it's “lily” rather than rose. The Hebrew word would today be translated as
Another proximal source may be W. B. Yeats, the Nobel Prize-winning Irish
poet who was a leading member of the Golden Dawn.
In an article in the Occult
Review (Volume X, 307-317) entitled “The Tarot: A Wheel of Fortune,”
Waite stated that as he and Pamela Colman Smith designed the deck, “we have
had other help from one who is deeply versed in the subject.” Roger Parisious
(“Figures in a Dance: W. B. Yeats and the Waite-Ride Tarot”) suggested that
this help came from Yeats. There may be a real basis for the influence of
Yeats in the case of the rose and lily imagery which Yeats used in his
In The Collected Works of W. B. Yeats (Finneran, ed., Vol 1 - The
Poems, Macmillan, 1989), we find #41 “A weariness comes from those dreamers,
dew-dabbled, the lily and rose,” #42 “Soon far from the rose and the
lily and fret of the flames would we be,” and #71 “Lilies of death-pale hope, roses of
Robert Schuler (“W. B. Yeats: Artist or Alchemist?” Review of English
Studies 22:37ff) interprets this last line as relating to Yeats's interest
in sexual magic. Schuler also notes that the lily and rose in alchemical
literature symbolize the moon and the sun, the white and red
tinctures in the alchemical process. More detail can be found in Gorski's
Yeats and Alchemy (State University of New York, 1996).
- At the top of the visible leg, just below the bird, is the word
“DIN.” It’s Hebrew (nun-yod-daleth) and means judgment. It's an
alternative name for the Sephira Geburah (e.g., see Scholem: Major Trends p 263).
The Magician is not a path to or from this Sephira in the Golden Dawn system, so
its presence on the card is obscure.
I have two possibilities
It's a bit of a stretch but perhaps the Din is
on the card to fit in with the nature theme of the Magician card(??).
- In Holy Kabballah (p 427) Waite associates Geburah with gold,
in the sense of the end of an alchemical operation. So perhaps the Din is
to suggest that the Magician is an Alchemist.
- Din is also used as judgment in the sense of favorable
judgment of the Just operating through nature. For example, Job 36:31 -
“Thanks to them he nourishes (Din) the nations with generous gifts of food.
- Waite Works of Thomas Vaughan p 205,
"Out of this Mercury alone all the virtues of the Art is
extracted...the Tincture, both
red and white..." (Magician???? Rose and Lilies??)
- The waistband formed of a snake biting its tail may have a Masonic root.
Ward (An Interpetation of our Masonic Symbols) discusses the waistband that
holds up the Mason’s apron and says: “The Serpent. - The modern arrangement by
which the apron is fastened - viz. a piece of webbing with a kind of hook and eye
- gave a fine opportunity for some really profound symbolism, and I feel certain
that it not accident which led to the
universal adoption of the snake to serve this purpose.”
Based on original research by Robert V. O'Neill. To add to this collection of information, please email
Robert V. O'Neill.