I think I may have finally cracked Waite's meaning for those three symbols on the edge of the Magician's table. If I'm right, they're related to Salt, Sulphur and Mercury but not in a way I was expecting. The first and third ones aren't that difficult, Water and Spirit respectively; it's the middle one that's always had me stumped. I believe it's supposed to be Blood. Let me first share this quote that's found in the Latin Vulgate and King James versions of the New Testament, then I'll explain more with quotes from Levi and Waite.
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." —1 John 5:7-8.
After doing some research I discovered this quote is found quite a bit in Occult and Hermetic literature. Levi and Waite actually explain it in a fairly straightforward manner. Here's Levi from Transcendental Magic
"The double triangle of Solomon is explained by St. John in a remarkable manner. He says, 'There are three which give record in heaven—the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit'; and 'there are three which give testimony on earth—the spirit, the water and the blood.' Thus, St. John agrees with the masters of Hermetic philosophy, who attribute to their Sulphur the name of Ether; to their Mercury that of Philosophical Water; and to their Salt the qualification of the Dragon's Blood or Menstruum of the Earth.
Blood or Salt corresponds by opposition with the Father; Azotic or Mercurial Water with the Word, or LOGOS; and the Ether with the Holy Spirit. But the things of transcendent symbolism can only be understood rightly by the true children of science."
By "double triangle of Solomon" I assume he means this image
; that's how he identifies it in the book at least. It illustrates the conjunction of Macrocosm and Microcosm, or heaven and earth if you will. He identifies the Blood, or Dragon's Blood with Salt; Ether (Spirit) with Sulphur; and Water with Mercury. These correspond below to that which is above: Salt (Blood) = Father, Sulphur (Spirit) = Holy Spirit, and Mercury (Water) = Word, or LOGOS.
Waite's correspondences are different but the idea's the same, that which is above in correspondence that which is below.
"Think for a moment of that which is signified by the versicles of the Chief Adept when the stigmata are impressed upon him. They refer to the Triad in the Archetype and because of the correspondence between things above and below they refer also to the Triad in humanity; to the Spirit, which is the Divine part; to the Water which is the psychic part; to the Blood, which is the life in Nephesh, the animal part;"—Gilbert, Hermetic Papers of A. E. Waite, "The Allocution of the 5 = 6 Grade."
"The triad of Supernals bears testimony to that triad which is below, the Spirit, the water and the blood; the spirit which is the self-knowing part; the water, which is the psychic part; and the blood which is the part of the body of man."—Gilbert, Ibid.
Waite also quotes from 1 John in his FRC Adeptus Minor initiation: "There are three that bear witness on earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." So this idea of Water, Blood and Spirit wasn't something foreign to Waite. The middle panel looks to me to almost resemble a dragon with its mouth open, a play on Levi's "Dragon Blood," but that might just be coincidence.
Magician Table Edge Pic