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Robert Wang classified the Waite deck as exoteric because it could be (and indeed is) used without reference to the esoteric content. I still sometimes wonder what the exoteric interpreters do with Temperance, since its Qabalistic references are so blatantly in your face. However, I'm not curious enough to find out. (It's a weird enough card, even in the TdM, what with fluid flowing sideways through the air in defiance of gravity.)
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Moderator Note


Off-topic posts about the photo that may or may not be Waite have been split off into a new thread - Waite or Not?

Please keep posts on-topic and if tempted to go off-topic, please remember the Stay On-Topic Rule, which says in part
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Tempted to diverge into an unrelated tangent while deep in a thread? Show good manners and move your discussion to a more appropriate area.
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Kaplan's quote from Waite's autobiography is very telling. I'll post the whole thing for reference.

"The Secret Tradition in Goetia was my first considerable work bearing the Rider imprint; but it was preceded in 1910 by a delightful experiment with the so-called Tarot Divinatory Cards, otherwise denominated the Book of Thoth in the high fantasia of my old friend Eliphas Levi. Now in those days there was a most imaginative and abnormally psychic artist, named Pamela Colman Smith, who had drifted into the Golden Dawn and loved the Ceremonies - as transformed by myself - without pretending or indeed attempting to understand their subsurface consequence. It seemed to some of us in the circle that there was a draughtswoman among us who, under proper guidance, could produce a Tarot with an appeal in the world of art and a suggestion of significance behind the Symbols which would put on them another construction than had ever been dreamed by those who, through many generations, had produced and used them for mere divinatory purposes. My province was to see that the designs - especially those of the important Trumps Major kept that in the hidenness which belonged to certain Greater Mysteries, in the Paths of which I was travelling. I am not of course intimating that the Golden Dawn had any deep understanding by inheritance of Tarot Cards; but, if I may so say, it was getting to know under my auspices that their Symbols -- or some at least among them -- were gates which opened on realms of vision beyond occult dreams. I saw to it therefore that Pamela Colman Smith should not be picking up casually any floating images from my own or another mind. She had to be spoon-fed carefully over the Priestess Card, over that which is called the Fool and over the Hanged Man"

From this several points can be gleaned.

1. Pamela "drifted" into the GD after Waite had already transformed the GD ceremonies.
2. She was abnormally psychic and a good artist.
3. She didn't really understand the occult significance of the ceremonies.
4. Waite intended to construct a deck that was more than a mere divination tool.

By the time Pamela came along, Waite had already moved the GD in a drastically different direction. Under Mathers and Westcott, its primary focus where Tarot was concerned was divination. Waite saw the Tarot as a doorway to mystic visions and direct revelation.

Waite says the GD generally didn't have a "deep understanding" of Tarot, he thought his was deeper at any rate. Nevertheless he felt obligated to keep Pamela in the dark concerning any GD secrets she might pick up psychically. Therefore he spoon-fed her what he wanted her to know, and directed her to make the Majors the way he wanted them so she wouldn't accidentally reveal something.

In conclusion, his primary mission was to create an artistically interesting deck that could be used for meditation. He wasn't trying to conceal any deep dark GD secrets, he was going in an entirely different direction. The deck shows some GD influence but that's about as far as it goes.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
Kaplan's quote from Waite's autobiography is very telling. I'll post the whole thing for reference.
. . . .
In conclusion, his primary mission was to create an artistically interesting deck that could be used for meditation. He wasn't trying to conceal any deep dark GD secrets, he was going in an entirely different direction. The deck shows some GD influence but that's about as far as it goes.
Good summary. I agree except I'd say that the purpose was to illustrate his version of a mystical Secret Tradition, and that there's a bit more than "some" GD influence, however subtle, because he was still working within the GD corpus, even if modified.
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Ditto ... 'his version of ...'

Which included many influences that made that version of the 'Secret Tradition' (not just G.D. Waite's ;masking' , etc )

The Masonic Paper from AQC I linked to in another thread has some good background information on that.

In part, this is why I think his writings can be just as obscure as Crowley's, if one doesn't know what was behind the tradition and what the influences were ... and a fair bit about the 'development' of the individual.

Without that, IMO, it would indeed be obscure (like the imagery on Thoth Atu XI ).
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To be blunt, I think he's lying, or at least stretching the truth, as autobiographers tend to do. He mentions those three cards, which makes sense, since at least one of them (the Fool) is a more radical departure from tradition. However the absence of Temperance is a huge Waite elephant in the room. That card is as blatant as you can get, more than any of the minors.

It's like every time one tries to find some rule, some consistency the rug is pulled out from under you. The Minors, for example. The going opinion is that PCS did them herself, but them there are the esoteric cards that she couldn't have done herself. Same goes for the Courts. And if there is indeed Masonic symbolism there, she would be even more out of her depth. But then he says he wasn't particularly interested in the Minors.

If Pam was that psychic, why didn't she just guess the lottery numbers? That would be easy compared to making the deck. The coincidences that pile up mean that she was either all knowing and omnipotently psychic, or he just told her. But why not admit that?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by closrapexa View Post
If Pam was that psychic, why didn't she just guess the lottery numbers? That would be easy compared to making the deck.
All this shows is that you just don't know psychic. Hey, he says he's an athlete, then why can't he run the mile in under 4 minutes? Both Yeats and Debussy stated that she had an uncanny ability to see (paint) what they saw when they were creating their works. To have a particular gift that works best in certain circumstances and not others does not suggest that she can do whatever you think the word should mean.
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That's a pretty specific gift, seeing alchemical lions, the exact formation of the Tree of life, the Tetragrammaton, mittens, specific ritual temples, and more. Besides, is it even worth discussing whether there's Masonic symbolism in the minors if it all came from her psychic abilities? How can it be possible to take a dual stand, that the minors are rife with Masonic symbolism, yet it all came from her? If it is there, nothing Waite ever wrote about it would matter, since it isn't his symbolism.

I think there's a limit to how far the psychic argument can be taken.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by closrapexa View Post
......However the absence of Temperance is a huge Waite elephant in the room. That card is as blatant as you can get, more than any of the minors......
Nitpick. Temperance could have been slightly more blatant.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by closrapexa View Post
is it even worth discussing whether there's Masonic symbolism in the minors if it all came from her psychic abilities?
Yes, that would close the discussion entirely. Absolute either/or positions ("it ALL came from her") usually do stop discussion and rarely have any relationship to what actually occurred.
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