Comparison of tarot de Marseilles and G.D. decks.

The Major Arcana.

By Uri Raz.

The Major Arcana
MarseillesGolden DawnWaite, PKT.Paul Foster Case,
Crowley, BoT.Comments
Emperor, Marseilles deckEmperor, Whare-Ra deckIV. The Emperor. Here we have the great energizing forces as indicated by the varying shades of red. It may be noted here that the red paths remain red in all planes, varying only in shade. Thus Aries, the Emperor, the Pioneer, the General, is blood and deep crimson, red, pure, vermillion or glowing fiery red. He isHo Nike, the Conqueror, hot, passionate, impetuous, the apotheosis of Mars, whether in love or in war. He is the positive masculine as the Empress is the positive feminine.Emperor, Rider-Waite-Smith deckHe has a form of theCrux ansata for his sceptre and a globe in his left hand. He is a crowned monarch--commanding, stately, seated on a throne, the arms of which axe fronted by rams' heads. He is executive and realization, the power of this world, here clothed with the highest of its natural attributes. He is occasionally represented as seated on a cubic stone, which, however, confuses some of the issues. He is the virile power, to which the Empress responds, and in this sense is he who seeks to remove the Veil of Isis; yet she remainsvirgo intacta.

It should be understood that this card and that of the Empress do not precisely represent the condition of married life, though this state is implied. On the surface, as I have indicated, they stand for mundane royalty, uplifted on the seats of the mighty; but above this there is the suggestion of another presence. They signify also--and the male figure especially--the higher kingship, occupying the intellectual throne. Hereof is the lordship of thought rather than of the animal world. Both personalities, after their own manner, are "full of strange experience," but theirs is not consciously the wisdom which draws from a higher world. The Emperor has been described as (a) will in its embodied form, but this is only one of its applications, and (b) as an expression of virtualities contained in the Absolute Being--but this is fantasy.
Emperor, B.O.T.A deckEmperor, Thoth deckThe card represents a crowned male figure, with imperial vestments and regalia. He is seated upon the throne whose capitals are the heads of the Himalayan wild ram, since Aries means a Ram. At his feet, couchant, is the Lamb and Flag, to confirm this attribution on the lower plane; for the ram, by nature, is a wild and courageous animal, lonely in lonely places, whereas when tamed and made to lie down in green pastures, nothing is left but the docile, cowardly, gregarious and succulent beast. This is the theory of government.

The Emperor is also one of the more important alchemical cards; with Atu II and III, he makes up the triad: Sulphur, Mercury, Salt. His arms and head form an upright triangle; below, crossed legs represent the Cross. This figure is the alchemical symbol of Sulphur (see Atu X). Sulphur is the male fiery energy of the Universe, ... The power of the Emperor is a generalization of the paternal power; hence such symbols as the Bee and the Fleur-de-lys, which are shown on this card. ...

The Emperor bears a sceptre (surmounted by a ram's head for the reasons given above) and an orb surmounted by a Maltese cross, which signifies that his energy has reached a successful issue, that his government has been established.

There is one further symbol of importance. His shield represents the two-headed eagle crowned with a crimson disk. This represents the red tincture of the alchemist, of the nature of gold, as the white eagle shown in Atu III pertains to his consort, the Empress, and is lunar, of silver.
The eagle, striped ball bearing a cross, scepter, and crossed legs are all traditional elements in the emperor card, and all appear in the G.D. influenced decks. The emperor is usually drawn in profile looking left, in contrast to Waite's, Crowley's (whose face still looks to the left and features the crossed legs), Wang's, the Ciceros's, the Whare Ra's cards. Paul Foster Case's trumps are very similar to Waite's, and though his Emperor is very similar to Waite's the Emperor is drawn in profile much the same way as in the Marseille deck. It appears that in the G.D. deck the emperor was drawn in front view.
The G.D. associate this card with Aries and with the colour red, which reflects in the ram heads in Waite's, Crowley's and Paul Foster Case's cards, the red clothes of Waite's emperor, and the extensive use of red in Crowley's emperor.
Crowley has exchanged the Hebrew letters assigned to the Emperor and the Star, which is why the Thoth emperor features the Hebrew letter Tzaddi, in contrast to the Whare Ra and Wang emperor which feature the letter Heh.
Lovers, Marseilles deckLovers, Whare-Ra deckVI. The Lovers. The impact of inspiration on intution, resulting in illumination and liberation - the sword striking off the fetters of habit and materialism, Perseus rescuing Andromeda from the Dragon of fear and the waters of Stagnation. [Israel Regardie's note dropped, compare the Whare Ra card to Waite's]
The colours are orange, violet, purplish grey and pearl grey. The flashing colour of orange gives deep vivid blue while the flashing colour for violet is golden yellow. The flashing colours may always be introduced if they bring out the essential colour meaning more clearly. In practise this card usually signifies sympathetic understanding.
Lovers, Rider-Waite-Smith deckThe sun shines in the zenith, and beneath is a great winged figure with arms extended, pouring down influences. In the foreground are two human figures, male and female, unveiled before each other, as if Adam and Eve when they first occupied the paradise of the earthly body. Behind the man is the Tree of Life, bearing twelve fruits, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is behind the woman; the serpent is twining round it. The figures suggest youth, virginity, innocence and love before it is contaminated by gross material desire. This is in all simplicity the card of human love, here exhibited as part of the way, the truth and the life. It replaces, by recourse to first principles, the old card of marriage, which I have described previously, and the later follies which depicted man between vice and virtue. In a very high sense, the card is a mystery of the Covenant and Sabbath.Lovers, B.O.T.A deckLovers, Thoth deckThis is an examples where the cards vary a lot. Though some similarity exists between Crowley's & Waite's cards, (A central deity blessing a couple), the cards are as different as they can be. The G.D. card probably looked like that of the Whare Ra temple.
Wheel of Fortune, Marseilles deckRegardie: Harken now unto the Mystery of the Tarot Key before thee, and meditate thereon in thy heart. Is not the Taro itself named after the Rota? The Wheel of Destiny: of Birth and Rebirth. Lo, do not the radii thereof spring from the White Centre of the Divine Spirit, passing into the darkness of the womb of the Divine Mother; that being born of the Virgin, they may be crucified upon the Cross of Manifestation, and thence commit themselves again unto the Father.
Man indeed standeth between Spirit and Matter, betwixt Angel and Animal, at the summit of his ascent. We behold as in a glass darkly, that Perfected Being whom our Father strove to represent in the Sphinx, compound of the four elements in balanced disposition. The Intelligence of Man; the soaring spirit of the Eagle, the fiery heart of the Lion, and the firm stability of the Bull. Born of the Spirit, he must descend into Malkuth, even till he is clothed with the coat of skin; the Body which is prepared for him, by the humble brothers of the flesh. And thence shall he arise again, bearing him that creation which groaneth and travaileth together with him until now awaiting Redemption. The 21st Path is the Intelligence of Counciliation and is so called because it receives the Divine Influence which flows into it from its Benediction upon all and each existence!
['The Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden', Adeptus Exemptus ritual.]

Wheel of Fortune, Whare-Ra deckX. The Wheel of Fortune. In the Etz Chayim, or Tree of Life, the Wheel is placed on the Pillar of Mercy, where it forms the principle column linking Netzach to Chesed, Victory to Mercy. It is the revolution of experience and progress, the steps of the Zodiac, the revolving staircase, held in place by the counter changing influence of Light and Darkness, Time and Eternity - presided by the Plutonian cynocephalus below, and the Sphinx of Egypt above, the eternal Riddle which can only be solved when we attain liberation. The basic colours of this trump are blue, violet, deep purple, and blue irradiated by yellow. But the zodiacal spokes of the wheel should be in the colours of the spectrum, while the Ape is in those of Malkuth, and the Sphinx in the primary colours and black.
Wheel of Fortune, Rider-Waite-Smith deckIn this symbol I have again followed the reconstruction of Eliphas Levi, who has furnished several variants. It is legitimate--as I have intimated--to use Egyptian symbolism when this serves our purpose, provided that no theory of origin is implied therein. I have, however, presented Typhon in his serpent form. The symbolism is, of course, not exclusively Egyptian, as the four Living Creatures of Ezekiel occupy the angles of the card, and the wheel itself follows other indications of Levi in respect of Ezekiel's vision, as illustrative of the particular Tarot Key. With the French occultist, and in the design itself, the symbolic picture stands for the perpetual motion of a fluidic universe and for the flux of human life. The Sphinx is the equilibrium therein. The transliteration of Taro as Rota is inscribed on the wheel, counterchanged with the letters of the Divine Name--to shew that Providence is implied through all. But this is the Divine intention within, and the similar intention without is exemplified by the four Living Creatures. Sometimes the sphinx is represented couchant on a pedestal above, which defrauds the symbolism by stultifying the essential idea of stability amidst movement.Wheel of Fortune, B.O.T.A deckWheel of Fortune, Thoth deckThis card thus represents the Universe in its aspect as a continual change of state. Above, the firmament of stars. These appear distorted in shape, although they are balanced, some being brilliant and some dark. From them, through the firmament, issue lightnings; they churn it into a mass of blue and violet plumes. In the midst of all this is suspended a wheel of ten spokes, according to the number of the Sephiroth, and of the sphere of Malkuth, indicating governance of physical affairs.

On this wheel are three figures, the Sworded Sphinx, Hermanubis, and Typhon; they symbolize the three forms of energy which govern the movement of phenomena.

The nature of these qualities requires careful description. In the Hindu system are three Gunas-Sattvas, Rajas and Tamas. ...

The Gunas are represented in European philosophy by the three qualities, sulphur, mercury and salt, already pictured in Atu I, III and IV. But in this card the attribution is somewhat different. The Sphinx is composed of the four Kerubs, shown in Atu V, the bull, the lion, the eagle and the man. These correspond, furthermore, to the four magical virtues, to Know, to Will, to Dare, and to Keep Silence. [These are the four elements, summed in a fifth, Spirit, to form the Pentagram; ...]. This Sphinx represents the element of sulphur, and is exalted, temporarily, upon the summit of the wheel. She is armed with a sword of the short Roman pattern, held upright between the paws of the lion.

Climbing up the left-hand side of the wheel is Hermanubis, who represents the alchemical Mercury. He is a composite god; but in him the simian element predominates.

On the right hand side, precipitating himself downward, is Typhon, who represents the element of salt. Yet in these figures there is also a certain degree of complexity, for Typhon was a monster of the primitive world, personifying the destructive power and fury of volcanos and typhoons. ...
I think this card makes for a good example of how the Marseilles card served as a model to the other decks, yet each card shows some of the characteristics of it's designer.
The G.D. changed the number of spokes to 12 and turned the wheel into the Zodiac, Waite diverges by accepting Levi's interpretation, and Crowley - who coloured the card with the G.D. colours - changed the number of spokes to the number of spheres on the tree of life.
Sun, Marseilles deckCipher Manuscript:
Sun, Cipher Manuscript deck
Regardie: The Sun has twelve principal rays which represent the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac. They are alternately waved and salient as symbolising the alternation of the masculine and faminine natures. These again are subdivided into the 36 Decanates or sets of ten degrees in the Zodiac, and these again into 72, typifying the 72 quinances or sets of five, and the 72-fold Name Schemhamphoresch. Thus the Sun embraces the whole creation in its rays.

The seven Hebrew Yods on each side, falling through the air, refer to the Solar influence descending. The wall is the Circle of the Zodiac, and the stones are its various degrees and variations.

The two children standing respectively on Water and Earth represent the generating influence of both, brought into action by the rays of the Sun. They are the two inferior and passive Elements, as the Sun and Air above them are the superior and active Elements of Fire and Air. Furthermore, these two children resemble the Sign Gemini which unites the Earthy Sign of Taurus with the Watery Sign Cancer, and this Sign was, by the Greeks and Romans, referred to Apollo and the Sun.
['The Golden Dawn', Practicus ritual.]

Sun, Whare-Ra deckXIX. The Sun. The Watery Paths of trial and probation are counterbalanced by the fiery paths of Temptation, Judgement, and Decision. In violent contrast to the somber colouring of Aquarius and Pisces, we are confronted by the flaring hues of the Sun and Fire. The too-aspiring Icarus may find his waxen wings of Ambition and and Curiosity shrivelled and melted by the fiery rays of the Sun and the heat of Fire, but approached with humility and reverence, the Sun becomes the beneficent source of life.

Protected by an enclosing wall, standing by the Waters of repentance, the Pilgrim may submit himself humbly but without fear to the searching Light and absorb warmth and vitality from it for the struggle before him. The colours are clear-orange, golden-yellow, amber shot with red, and the contrasting blue and purple.
Sun, Rider-Waite-Smith deckThe naked child mounted on a white horse and displaying a red standard has been mentioned already as the better symbolism connected with this card. It is the destiny of the Supernatural East and the great and holy light which goes before the endless procession of humanity, coming out from the walled garden of the sensitive life and passing on the journey home. The card signifies, therefore, the transit from the manifest light of this world, represented by the glorious sun of earth, to the light of the world to come, which goes before aspiration and is typified by the heart of a child.

But the last allusion is again the key to a different form or aspect of the symbolism. The sun is that of consciousness in the spirit - the direct as the antithesis of the reflected light. The characteristic type of humanity has become a little child therein--a child in the sense of simplicity and innocence in the sense of wisdom. In that simplicity, he bears the seal of Nature and of Art; in that innocence, he signifies the restored world. When the self-knowing spirit has dawned in the consciousness above the natural mind, that mind in its renewal leads forth the animal nature in a state of perfect conformity.
Sun, B.O.T.A deckSun, Thoth deckThe rose represents the flowering of the solar influence. Around the whole picture we see the signs of the Zodiac in their normal position, Aries rising in the East, and so on. Freedom brings sanity. The Zodiac is a kind of childish representation of the body of Nuith, a differentiation and classification, a chosen belt, one girdle of Our Lady of infinite space. Convenience of description excuses the device.

The green mound represents the fertile earth, its shape, so to speak, aspiring to the heavens. But around the top of the mound is a wall, which indicates that the aspiration of the new Aeon does not mean the absence of control. Yet outside this wall are the twin children who (in one form or another) have so frequently recurred in this whole symbolism. They represent the male and female, eternally young, shameless and innocent. They are dancing in the light, and yet they dwell upon the earth. They represent the next stage which is to be attained by mankind, in which complete freedom is alike the cause and the result of the new access of solar energy upon the earth. The restriction of such ideas as sin and death in their old sense has been abolished, At their feet are the most sacred signs of the old Aeon, the combination of the Rose and Cross from which they are arisen, yet which still forms their support.
The cards are all similar, and it's evident that the G.D. developed the structure of the rays from the Tarot de Marseilles sun rays (12 rays = 12 sun signs, alternately waved and salient), as well as having one child standing on earth and the other on water.
Waite's card shows Levi's influence, replacing the two childs with a single naked one and changing the number of lines, though keeping their being alternately waved and salient.
Crowley's card shows the astrological connection very clearly, but drops the rays that split the Decanates into quinances.
From the picture in the Cipher Manuscript, it appears that the G.D. followed the Tarot de Marseilles design, and placed the two childs inside the wall, while Crowley and Waite took the childs outside. The Whare Ra's Sun card follows the description closely.
World, Marseilles deckCipher Manuscript: H.(ierophant?) describes ... 31 key of tarot with 72 circles round Queen Isis = Sandalphon bears wands has crossed legs 7 pointed star. 4 Kerbim at corners

Regardie: Within the oval formed of the 72 circles, is a female form, nude save for a scarf that floats around her. She is crowned with the Lunar Crescent of ISIS, and holds in her hands, two wands. Her legs form a cross. She is the Bride of Apocalypse, the Kabbalistic Queen of the Canticles, the Egyptian ISIS or Great Feminine Kerubic Angel SANDALPHON on the left hand of the Mercy Seat of the Ark.

The wands are the directing forces of the positive and negative currents. The Seven pointed Heptagram or Star alludes to the Seven Palaces of Assiah; the Crossed legs to the symbols of the Four Letters of the Name.

The surmounting crescent receives alike the influences of Geburah and Gedulah. She is the synthesis of the 32nd Path, uniting Malkuth to Yesod.

The oval of 72 smaller circles refers to the SCHEMHAMPORESH, or Seventy-two fold Name of the Deity. The twelve larger circles form the Zodiac. At the angles are the Four KERUBIM which are the vivified powers of the letters of the name YOD HE VAU HE operating in the Elements, ...
['The Golden Dawn', Theoricus ritual.]

World, Whare-Ra deckXXI. The Universe. Observe that this represents not the World but the Universe. It should be remembered that that to the ancients, Saturn represented the confines of the Solar system. They had no means of measuring either Uranunus or Neptune. To them, therefore, Saturn passing through the spiral path of the Zodiac, marked at its cardinal points by the symbols of the Kerubim forming the Cross, was a comprehensive glyph of the whole.
Thus, in this card we find a synthesis of the whole Taro or Rota. The central figure should be taken as Hathor, Ator, or Ator, rather than Isis, thus indicating the hidden anagram which may perhaps be translated thus: ORAT - man prays. ATOR - to the great mother. TARO - who turns. ROTA - the wheel of Life and Death.
The colours like those of the Wheel of Fortune include the colours of the Spectrum and those of the elements, but they are placed against the indigo and black of saturn, with the white gleam of the Stars shining in the darkness and the misty figure of the Aima Elohim in the midst. In the practical Tarot, this card is taken to signify the matter in hand, that is the subject of any question that has been asked.
World, Rider-Waite-Smith deckAs this final message of the Major Trumps is unchanged--and indeed unchangeable--in respect of its design, it has been partly described already regarding its deeper sense. It represents also the perfection and end of the Cosmos, the secret which is within it, the rapture of the universe when it understands itself in God. It is further the state of the soul in the consciousness of Divine Vision, reflected from the self-knowing spirit. But these meanings are without prejudice to that which I have said concerning it on the material side. It has more than one message on the macrocosmic side and is, for example, the state of the restored world when the law of manifestation shall have been carried to the highest degree of natural perfection. But it is perhaps more especially a story of the past, referring to that day when all was declared to be good, when the morning stars sang together and all the Sons of God shouted for joy. One of the worst explanations concerning it is that the figure symbolizes the Magus when he has reached the highest degree of initiation; another account says that it represents the absolute, which is ridiculous. The figure has been said to stand for Truth, which is, however, more properly allocated to the seventeenth card. Lastly, it has been called the Crown of the Magi.World, B.O.T.A deckWorld, Thoth deckThe cards are surprisingly similar - all feature the four icons of the evangelists at the four corners of the card, with a feminine figure surrounded by an oval shape.
The Whare Ra card is, by far, the most similar to the description of the Cipher Manuscript and Israel Regardie's book.
The image itself is an icon that predates tarot.

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