Originally Posted by Abrac
I don't really have an opinion one way or another about Waite personally. My interest is only in his philosophy and so I try to stay objective. I find him a little arrogant and condescending at times but many of the occult types of the period were. Not defending him, but I don't think he was as arrogant as some people make him out to be, people who usually know very little of his work.
I'm on the record as one who doesn't subscribe to Waite's philosophy; I have my own beliefs, but I think it's important to know where Waite was coming from, at least for me it is. He often stressed the importance of not mistaking the symbol
for the thing symbolized
. In other words, all the confusing symbolism and jargon is just a smokescreen for the spiritual reality. Nowadays spirituality is more straightforward, people are turned off by puzzles; but back then it was critically important to confuse and discourage all but the most sincere and dedicated aspirants.
Since, I have little knowledge of Waite personally, or even the Golden Dawn for that matter, my opinion of him is speculative...and basically irrelevant. From what little I have read about the occult types of the period I can agree with you regarding their arrogance...and it definitely surfaces in Waite's writings that you quote. The Buddhists, with whom I believe they were fascinated at the time, have a story similar to Waite's admonition regarding mistaking the symbol for the thing being symbolized which goes something like this: 'do not mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon.' (this is a sorry quote, but it went something like that..lol). Susan Langer has an interesting point to make in differentiating the subtleties between sign from symbol....and as an artist who paints symbols in space, I am acutely aware of the differences: a painting of a chair is not the chair itself. This seems obvious until we then dare to enter the world of Levi Bruhl and the concept of "participation mystique" when one actually mistakes the symbol for the thing itself....which in primitive African societies is known as "voodoo." Perhaps Waite's hidden agenda was to entice rather than discourage aspirants....which was certainly characteristic of their subversive antics. Nonetheless, the habit of confusing the language is hardly indicative of intelligence in spite of the fact that one attributes it to an ulterior motive. It is, however, indicative of an heretic who is promoting a private cult, which brings us full circle regarding the septenaries as originated by Papus. The 3-card ternary, Death (13), Temperance (14), and the Devil (15) is the entrance into the last septenary, and the story that septenary tells is the most fascinating of the tarot....makes clear the whole point of the tarot. Perhaps the reason the Papus version was discarded and replaced by Paul Case's version was just another one of their "smokescreens"... in an attempt to confuse.