Sources of the Waite/Smith Tarot Symbols by Robert V. O'Neill The Lovers

The Lovers

Central SunWirthVandenborre
Straight RaysWirthT d Marseille
AngelWirthT d MarseilleVisconti-Sforza
Angel MatureVandenborre
Red WingsVisconti-Sforza
CloudGoulinatVievilleRosenwald Sheet
Apple treeParisian
He Right, She LeftEtteillaParisianRosenwald Sheet
Both BlondeVievilleVisconti-Sforza
MatureEtteillaT d MarseilleVisconti-Sforza
She looks upVievilleRosenwald Sheet
He looks at herEtteillaParisianVisconti-Sforza


  1. 1. The angel with red wings and flame hair also appears on the Judgement card and is described in the Golden Dawn Practicus ritual as “...MICHAEL, the Great Archangel, the ruler of Solar Fire...” (Regardie, p 172).

  2. Apple tree/Serpent/Flame Tree/Naked Figures is obviously drawn from the Genesis story of the Garden of Eden. This suggests that the Flame Tree behind the male is the Tree of Life, associated with the QBLH tree of life. The same theme will be repeated again in the tails of the figures on the Devil card.

  3. This card is assigned to Gemini which may explain why Waite changed the image to 2 figures. The traditional TdM image shows a man between two women.

  4. There are hints in Waite’s other works that he associated this image with Rosicrucianism and also with QBLH.

    In The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross (p 169), he quotes from one of the early Rosicrucian writings (The Chemical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz): “There were two lovers and about them was a Cupid.” In The Secret Doctrine in Israel (pp 254f), he says “the Higher Eden is the place of Divine Nuptials, while the garden...was the place of nuptials below...the nuptial intercourse which was infinite and holy in the world above, in the world below, descended through what is termed the Fall of man into the...order of animal things.”

    That is, the false significance of the male-female duality occurred (mythically) in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve perceived their “nakedness.” Order is restored during lawful intercourse because the male/female duality is dissolved into Unity in the ecstasy of mutual orgasm. And you thought QBLH was about Sephira and Letters!!!!

Based on original research by Robert V. O'Neill. To add to this collection of information, please email Robert V. O'Neill.

The Fool
The Magician
The High Priestess
The Empress
The Emperor
The Hierophant
The Lovers
The Chariot
The Hermit
Wheel of Fortune
The Hanged Man
The Devil
The Tower
The Star
The Moon
The Sun
The World
Introduction to Sources of the Waite/Smith Tarot Symbols

Additional Tarot History Resources Related to
Sources of the Waite/Smith Tarot Symbols

Holly's Rider-Waite Site A. E. Waite
The Hermitage: A Tarot History Site Villa Revak