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Greater Arcana Study Group—The Magician

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Abrac  Abrac is offline
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I reread Waite's description in the PKT and noticed he says the roses and lilies represent the "culture of aspiration." In Azoth he talks a great deal about cultivating aspiration. It's an involved concept and I'm not sure I can do it justice without reproducing half the book, but it's there if anyone's interested.

If I did try to define it, I’d say in one aspect it’s a sublimation of the desires towards the things of God. It’s also and refinement of the external environment to reflect the good and the beautiful; to reflect in our external world those things of God to which we aspire in our heart. That's how I understand it.
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Summing up what he's just written concerning the "Spiritual Elevation of Sense," Waite says:
"We have passed in the aspiration of the senses through a pleasant region, full of light and depth and richness, tinged with the rose red and royal violet of exterior beauty. We have indicated after what manner the path of the life within is a way of joy and flowers." Azoth, p. 185.
There are several references in that section to flowers.
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This quote from Azoth, p. 196 has cleared up one mystery.
"With roses and lilies from the Paradise of the life to come."
In the PKT Waite says:
"Beneath are roses and lilies, the flos campi and lilium convallium*, changed into garden flowers, to show the culture of aspiration."
In the Magician no lilies are in the upper part, but it can be seen what Waite's getting at. He says the roses and lilies represent the "flos campi and lilium convallium," but they have been changed to common garden flowers. The Magician has cultured, or cultivated, the roses and lilies in his environment as symbols of his aspitation for that which is above, i.e. the flos campi and lilium convallium!

There's also another aspect to this card I've never given much attention to before, and that's where he says, "It is also the unity of individual being on all planes . . ."

*Literally "Flower of Sharon and Lily of the Valley." Commonly translated "Rose of Sharon and Lily of the Valley"; a reference to Christ.
Top   #53
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If there are two themes running through Waite's Azoth, or, The Star in the East, they are (1) the Soul reaching upward to God and (2) humanity transformed as a result of the Soul's union with God; this is how Waite defines Mysticism. In a sense, the Magician is Waite's ultimate mystic. His right hand is raised toward heaven demonstrating his aspiration for the Light. His left hand is lowered demonstrating his cultivation on earth of those things of God to which he aspires. In the section of the book entitled "The Testimony of Aspiration," Waite describes the ideal male archetype: "He is Apollo, he is Hermes, the son of Maia; his heroic spirit mingles with the stars. He is the most eloquent of speakers; chains of gold flow from his mouth; he is a sweet-voiced musician." In the PKT Waite describes the Magician as "having the countenance of divine Apollo."

In the section entitled "The Garden of Paradise and of God," there are a few things that can shed some light on exactly what this Magician is up to. The description in the PKT says the flos campi and lilium convallium have been changed into "garden" flowers; a seemingly insignificant reference, but maybe not so insignificant in light of what follows from the "Garden of Paradise" section:
"And now we are concerned with the Garden of Paradise and of God, with the Terrestrial Paradise of Humanity. We have to learn again from legend and poetic lore of that fabled period when man came perfect from his Creator’s fashioning hands, and when the Elohim walked with the Adamic nature in the cool of the evening. Did ever this fabled time have a place in fact is a barren enquiry. It at least has a place in the future; we must either work up to it or back to it; the desire of all the world spurs us on to achieve perfection. We may, or not, have possessed it in the past, but at least in the past we have dreamed it, and, God willing, who is indeed willing, we must, we will possess it in the coming time, and all the infinite possibilities which are involved in the divine and luminous meshes of the great futurity must be appropriated and shaped for our achievement."

and

"It is possible for man to re-enter Paradise. If the swords of the Cherubim guard it, it is with those swords that we must pierce the intervening barriers."
There's a reference in Waite's description of the Magician that I've always wondered about: "On the table in front of the Magician are the symbols of the four Tarot suits, signifying the elements of natural life, which lie like counters before the adept, and he adapts them as he wills." Okay, he adapts them, but what exactly is it he wills? The preceding quotes seem to answer that question to a certain extent. He adapts and appropriates them toward his aspiration of Paradise on earth. The roses and lilies he's cultivated also symbolize his desire to bring Paradise to earth.

In the "Garden of Paradise" section Waite also writes, "We preach the contempt of that world wherein Christ has not anything. . ." This is interesting in light of his references to Christ in his description of the Magician.
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In Waite's Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, he uses the Alchemical symbolism of Sulphur, Mercury, and Salt to represent three primary principles:

Sulphur = Desire/Aspirations of the Heart,
Mercury = Mind/Thoughts,
Salt = Will/Purpose or Intention.

In the Magician, all three are represented and mentioned by name in the PKT.

Aspiration

"Beneath are roses and lilies, the flos campi and lilium convallium, changed into garden flowers, to shew the culture of aspiration."

The flowers symbolize his desire for heavenly things cultivated in his heart.

Mind

"It is also the unity of individual being on all planes, and in a very high sense it is thought, in the fixation thereof."

His mind is fixed on the attainment on the goal, the "end" as Waite likes to refer to it.

Will

"On the table in front of the Magician are the symbols of the four Tarot suits, signifying the elements of natural life, which lie like counters before the adept, and he adapts them as he wills."

and,

"This card signifies the divine motive in man, reflecting God, the will in the liberation of its union with that which is above."

His arms represent his will, adapting the objects before him in accordance with Divine purpose.

All three are seen as working together to bring transformation, both in himself and in his environment.
Top   #55
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I've been thinking lately about the three illustrations on the edge of the Magician's table. Unfortunately it's very difficult to say what two of them are exactly. The one on the left could be water or a mountain range. The one in the middle is nearly impossible to figure out. I can possibly see rivers and a lake. If anyone has any new thoughts on this it would be interesting to hear them.

Though it's very hard to say for sure what they are, Waite seems to give some clues in his text. He says,
"This card signifies the divine motive in man, reflecting God, the will in the liberation of its union with that which is above. It is also the unity of individual being on all planes. . ."
So there's the unity of that which is above with that which is below. And there's the unity of the individual on all planes which seems to me the key. What are the planes he's talking about? The short answer I believe is Body, Soul and Spirit. In his Azoth, or The Star in the East, Waite writes extensively about the harmonization of these three. In his PKT description of Temperance he also mentions the "human triplicity":
"It is, moreover, untrue to say that the figure symbolizes the genius of the sun, though it is the analogy of solar light, realized in the third part of our human triplicity."
He stops short of saying what the human triplicity is, but it can be figured out fairly easily from the imagery on the card. There's earth and water, and the third part is mind.
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For a long time the word "DIN" atop the leg of the Magician's table has been somewhat of a mystery. The key to solving it, I believe, is in the fact that Din is another name for Geburah. This explains why the leg of the table is in the form a black pillar, the pillar on which Geburah is located. Geburah means "power" or "strength." It's interesting to note that the magical title of the GD Magician is the Magus of Power. The idea of power seems to be what Waite is going for, spiritual power. From the PKT:
"The suggestion throughout is therefore the possession and communication of the Powers and Gifts of the Spirit."
The Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom says:
"The Fifth Path [Geburah] is called the Radical [root, essential] Intelligence because it is itself the essence of Unity, uniting itself to Understanding, which emanates from the primordial depths of Wisdom."
Unity is another theme clearly illustrated in the card. Waite's Adeptus Major Initiation in the FRC says:
"Geburah itself is called the Radical Intelligence, by allusion to that state in which there is kinship with the Supreme Unity."
The fact that the black pillar is the only one showing [no corresponding white pillar] is deliberate in my opinion. Adding the other one was unnecessary and would've just confused things.
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Whenever The Magician card comes out in the readings, I used to wonder "who on earth is he?"

The figure in the card always seems trying to say something to us, or trying to get attention of us at least.
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I had an interesting idea concerning the Magician as I was reading through some of Waite's FRC rituals. You can refer to this picture as I go along. The grade of Adeptus Minor is one of rebirth and regeneration. It's the first grade beyond the purely material grades below it. Adeptus Major is one of mystical death and awakening in Spirit. It's the grade where the material is left behind utterly and union with the Christ mystical, or the Word, occurs. The path leading from Geburah to Chesed is one of resurrection, and Chesed itself (Adeptus Exemptus) is the grade where the postulant returns to material form but as a new being and with a new mission, that of communicating his mystical experience and knowledge to others on the path who seek Wisdom. When a person was initiated into Adeptus Exemptus, they automatically became an Ordained Priest and Authorized Teacher.

It's important to understand that in the FRC not all paths are traversed upward, but every path is utilized as a conduit for influences from above to travel downward. Path 16 is a case in point; the only lawful way of ascent to the Supernals is through Daath. As I was pondering this, I noticed the influence from Chokmah to Chesed is represented by the Magician and leads directly into the grade of Adeptus Exemptus! If Adeptus Exemptus represents the resurrected and new being, might this also be what is represented by the Magician? A lot of Waite's terminology in the PKT description makes it seem possible—the sign of the Holy Spirit, the eternity of attainment in the spirit, communication of the Powers and Gifts of the Spirit, and many more as you read through it. Also of interest are Waite's comments: "the will in the liberation of its union with that which is above"; and the four symbols on the table which the Magician adapts as "he wills." In the FRC, the right-hand pillar is that of Will. The whole idea of the Magician is that of communicating that which is above to that which is below, exactly as with the Adeptus Exemptus.

If you compare the Waite-Trinick "Magician" it's very similar to the Waite-Smith, indicating Waite could've already had some of these ideas in mind and were later developed in the FRC.

Geburah is DIN on the table leg that's visible (black pillar). Might we be looking at Chesed and the white pillar in the Magician himself? His inner garment is white and he's placed exactly in line with the table leg where the white pillar would be.
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In the FRC, two paths lead downward from Tiphareth [the middle path from Yesod to Tiphareth is traveled upward]. On the side of Mercy there's the Christ Spirit and on the Severity side is Lucifer. I bring this up in connection with the Magician because of something Waite says in his comment on these two paths in his Ceremony of Reception in the Portal of the the Third Order, and how it sheds light on the Waite-Smith Magician. Here's Waite:
"Remember, my Brother, that you are following the path of liberation, but liberation is according to law. It is for this reason that there is a seal upon the Path of Samech [Path 25, see diagram], and this seal is not broken. You will observe that the symbol beneath the Banner of the path is in the likeness of him who was called the Son of the Morning and Light Bearer, rather than of Diabolus, or Satan. He is the Prince of this World, and the antithesis of the Christ Spirit, represented by the other symbol. It is for this reason that they are contrasted together in the paths. The Lucifer of this diagram is the desire after spiritual things, to empower the life of sense and to equip the mind in separation. He is the magus opposed to the saint, and the path of occult science in its contrast to the science of the mystics. The end of these things is bondage, represented by the chained figures shown beneath his Altar in the symbol."
Waite draws a clear distinction between magus and saint, the saint operating under liberation—which is according to law—and the magus trapped in bondage. In his comment on the Magician in the PKT he says, "This card signifies the divine motive in man, reflecting God, the will in the liberation of its union with that which is above." The card is called "The Magician," and he says he's "in the robe of a magician," but it's interesting that all the rest of the language in his description points to the Magician as a "saint."
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