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


Phallic HillVisconti-Sforza
Field BehindVisconti-Sforza
Plain SkyFalconnierT de MarseilleVisconti-Sforza
LemniscusWirthT de Marseille
MatureWirthT de MarseilleVisconti-Sforza
White tunicFelkinVachettaT d Mantegna
Closing MouthFalconnier
Left on TopGebelinVievilleCary Sheet
Lion StandingFalconnierVachettaT d Mantegna
Licking HandWirth
Facing LeftVieville
She behind LionGoulinatVieville
Lion looking upWirthVievilleV d Madrone
Tail between legsVisconti-Sforza
Looking downWirthParisianV d Madrone


  1. Waite probably associated this card with alchemy. In his Hermetic Museum (Volume 1, The Golden Tract, p 42), we find “they conducted me to the Lion...they said that when I had bound him without being harmed by his sharp claws and terrible teeth, I should know all the rest.” The same work (Vol 1, p 348) shows women riding lions with a distant mountain similar in shape to the one on the card.

  2. Sash of Roses - the sash is wound around the waist with the end left hanging. This resembles the “tow-chain” that is placed around the waist of the initiate for the Masonic degree of Master Mason. The use of roses may, once again, be a suggestion of the Rosicrucians. The flowers in the hair and waistband may also be an alchemical reference (Waite Hermetic Museum, Vol 1, p 44): “I found white and red roses and stuck them in my cap.”

  3. This card is assigned to the zodiacal sign Leo in the GD system. This may explain why it is numbered 8 in the Waite deck. The numbers 8 and 11 (Justice and Strength) were switched in order to make the zodiacal signs come out right. The switch is indicated in the Cipher Document.

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