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Lovers, Temperance, Judgement Angels

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Lovers, Temperance, Judgement Angels


The identity of the angels on the Lovers, Temperance and Judgement cards interests me. Obviously Waite opted not to name them or associate them with any particular angelic hierarchy, but he included a little new symbolism and visual references that inspire comparisons.

The Angel who blesses the Lovers in Eden replaces the child-like cherub or Cupid of the Marseille card. What inspired Waite to exchange them, and is this angel ever named by scholars? His hair is wild and aflame, even psychadelic, which is unusual for classical depictions of angels. The rays of light emanating from him remind me of Uriel, the angel identified as the Light of God, who would also guard Eden with the flaming sword when they were expelled.



The Temperance angel bears the astrological Sun symbol and is the only winged figure in the deck to have a direct astrological reference depicted, where the original angel was merely a robed, winged woman. According to the Key, this angel is sexless, which is typical of several authorities' opinions of angels. Also:

So also are the conventional meanings, which refer to changes in the seasons, perpetual movement of life and even the combination of ideas. 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.

The source I found for "genius" is card 31 of the Mantegna deck, which calls him Iliaco, a name deriving from the god Helios. So apparently Waite wanted to distinguish this figure from Iliaco. My next guess would have been Michael, the Archangel of the Sun in occult, without his characteristic soldier's armour. But it feels like even Waite wouldn't shy from depicting a classical representation of a famous angel without his signature attribute, especially since he has placed explicit symbols of the Four Evangelists on the Wheel and the World.

The second description is curious. Solar light is realized in the third part of our human triplicity. To what does this refer? I immediately thought of Plato's allegory of the soul, of which the sun would govern gold, the spirited "ruler." Or this could refer to the triple Godhead or Trinity in humans, with the Holy Spirit being the third part?



The Judgement card is sometimes called simply "The Angel." When did this title begin appearing on it? I haven't seen it often save on a few Italian decks, and it seems a recent development.

The Wikipedia article says the angel is sometimes believed to be Gabriel, but lists no sources. The identification of Gabriel with the trumpeter in Thessalonians is a popular belief. S. Vernon McCasland in his article Gabriel's Trumpet recounted the earliest identitification of Gabriel as the trumpeter in a 1455 Armenian manuscript.
I can't tell if Waite also believed his Judgement angel to be Gabriel or whether it's another nameless figure.
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According the P. F. Case in Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages, the Lovers angel is Raphael, the Air angel, the sign of the Lovers being Gemini, mutable Air. The Judgement angel is the Gabriel of popular legend, although Michael might be a better fit, as Judgement is the Fire card. (Also, Michael is named as the angel of the Last Judgement in the Biblical book of Daniel.) Temperance is Michael, the Fire angel, corresponding to the Sun symbol on the head of the angel. However, many occultists regard all these angels as different aspects of the same symbolic entity. There may be a Qabalistic reason to regard them as sexless, or perhaps androgynous.
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Waite was a mystic, so it makes sense to me that they're intended as spiritual influences, not specific angels. For example his comment on The Lovers:

"a great winged figure with arms extended, pouring down influences."

And Judgement:

"It is the card which registers the accomplishment of the great work of transformation in answer to the summons of the Supernal—which summons is heard and answered from within."

It all suggests a mystical experience and mystic influences. Not naming them seems to say something about how he viewed them, to me anyway. There's always an exoteric and an esoteric side. On one level, they seem like they could be specific angels from history; but on another more esoteric level, they represent something more intangible.
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Sorry for the telegraphic language below, but I thought I’d just give you the gist of my ideas, for whatever they're worth! It really comes together when you get into it from a cardinal virtue (and angel) art history standpoint.

Cardinal Virtues, Elements, and Angels:

Images of Strength that don’t have a lion have a club or broken column, so are related to Wands and fire. Images of Gabriel (Annunciation) have columns everywhere. He is “Strength of God,” angel of Annunciation, and trumpet blower (announcer) at Judgment.

I know the attributions of Gabriel and Michael are confused and interchanged, but all the columns, along with the hint that the Annunciation caused (rather than just announced!) a pregnancy, convinced me that Gabriel’s the fiery one!

Temperance has Cups, so is water, as is Raphael, angel of healing who carries a box/small cup? of medicine. (I'm thinking, as watery and cuppy, he's also the angel on the Lovers, even though that one LOOKS quite fiery . . .)

Justice usually has a Sword, and so is air, as does Michael, the judge at Judgment (and the general of God's armies).

Some World/Universe cards show the earth or a city in a circle or globe, resembling a Coin and so earth, and so related to Prudence. Other World cards show Christ as Ruler of the World (instead of the World Spirit), surrounded by the four cherubim. Uriel is angel of earth. Or Christ, the only “angel” that is both fully human and fully God.

I hope this makes sense!
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