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Raphael in The Lovers

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The intention was the usual one, to make it difficult, thus discouraging all but the most dedicated and sincere.

Broadly speaking, his philosophy was the science of Christian mysticism, i.e., the practice and experience of union with God. Yes, one his biggest beefs with external religion was its adherence to rigid formality, a lack of Spirit one could say.
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i.e., the practice and experience of union with God. Yes, one his biggest beefs with external religion was its adherence to rigid formality, a lack of Spirit one could say.
What were his methods for "the practice and experience of the union"?

Looking at the Lovers card, the 2x trees in the image caught my attention. The one behind the female has a snake / serpent wrapped around it, and it seems climbing up the tree, and staring at the female as if it is talking to her, or trying to attack maybe?. The one behind the male is just a plain tree. Are they supposed to mean Tree of Life? and its significance in the practice and experience of the union perhaps?
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Before I thought maybe Waite's thinking on this card had evolved in FRC Lovers, but the more I consider it the more I think they represent the same thing. In the FRC Lovers, the man and woman are identified as the soul and Christ natures respectively. In the W-S Lovers, the Tree of Life behind the man seems to suggest something higher. The woman = the soul in its natural state; the man = higher part of soul or Christ part. They aren't holding hands as in the FRC Lovers but their unity seems to be implied as in Waite's observation that they're "unveiled before each"—there's nothing between them. In the FRC Lovers Waite uses the same image as the W-S with some minor modifications. One would think if his thinking had evolved that much we'd see it reflected in the imagery.
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I am not familiar with the FRC deck, but by just looking at the RWS Lovers card, the two people seem standing far apart in remote position (too far away to be able to hold each others hand) separated by the mountainous image (obstacles?) in between. They don't look intimate or close or even are interested in each other. However, they seem as if, are destined to be unified or on the way of unification by intermediation of the middle figure, who looks like some type of divine / spiritual / angelic being calling them / inducing them to unite.

The trees at the back of each individuals seem suggest they also make use of their intellects / feelings to choose their unification, hence their astrological correspondence with Gemini.

Questions still remain to be answered such as - can soul be divided into natural state and higher part or Christ nature? Did Waite actually classify soul into different types?

And his observation "unveiled before each" = how does that entail their unification? needs more explanation.
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Waite does recognize a higher soul and lower soul; they aren't two different things but two aspects of the same thing. In my previous post I referred to higher soul as "Christ nature" but since this isn't technically correct I amended it to say "Christ part."
"According to Latin theology, the soul is spirit, and as such it is like God. Soul and body—part that is noumenal and permanent [soul], part that is perishable and phenomenal [body]—these are recognised only. The words soul and spirit are therefore used interchangeably, so far as man is concerned. It is this which constitutes the distinction between human and animal natures, for the animal soul—ex hypothesi—has not the nature of spirit. There is nothing in mystical theology which contradicts this, though there is a recurring tendency to recognise the subsistence of a higher part, and the word spirit is assigned to it on rare occasions, by way of distinction. It would be an error for this reason to think that more than two parts of the natural personality are recognised in the annals of Christian Doctrine—understood either as Latin Christianity at large or as Latin Mysticism. It is not a distinction as between two natures but of a higher and lower grade in a single nature; it is a higher part of the soul and not an unknown quality by which the latter is overshadowed."—The Way of Divine Union, pp. 215, 216.
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In the W-S Lovers, the Tree of Life behind the man seems to suggest something higher. The woman = the soul in its natural state; the man = higher part of soul or Christ part.
What would be ground for this speculation?
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Reread the post you just quoted from, there's your answer.
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Reread the post you just quoted from, there's your answer.
Taking out the Lovers card again, and looking at both trees, yes I can see your point. Thank you for your patience.
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The intention was the usual one, to make it difficult, thus discouraging all but the most dedicated and sincere.
The other point I am not quite understanding is, if above were the case, how the RWS Tarot has become one of the most popular Tarot decks in history.
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The other point I am not quite understanding is, if above were the case, how the RWS Tarot has become one of the most popular Tarot decks in history.
1) lack of competition in the marketplace for much of its life
2) first commonly available deck with illustrated minor arcana instead of just pips
3) the depth of symbolism allows everybody to work with it regardless of whether or not they understand Waite's secret intentions. Just look at this thread. If the great winged figure is just an angel there are things to be found in the card. If it's Raphael, there are things to be found in the card, Sekineh or Uriel? things to be found.

Regardless of Waite's ultimate intentions (which may or may not have been the same as Smith's) this is an extremely approachable deck that, for much of the world, is synonymous with the word tarot.
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