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Raphael in The Lovers

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Raphael in The Lovers


To the best of my limited knowledge, the figure of Archangel Raphael in The Lovers is original to the RWS. Raphael is best known as a healer, but is also the patron of matchmakers, so his appearance does make sense. He is very different from Cupid though, in so far as Cupid's arrow (and isn't he always pictured with just one?) only affects the person it hits, not the couple.

Does anyone have in insights, observations, and/or ideas about Raphael and what he means in the context of this card? Is his role as a healer at all relevant or just his patronage of matchmaking? What extra layers of meaning does he bring to the card? Are these new layers or layers that were there in older versions of the card but that were hard to see?

I welcome your ideas.
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From what I remember in catechism class, the Archangel Raphael not only heals the mind, body, and spirit, he also represents Divine Wisdom and provides guidance when one most needs it. The latter two is especially important since The Lovers card is also the card of grand, life-altering decisions and choices. This can be seen in many Marseille decks that shows a guy having a hard time choosing between two girls. It is in these times - the pivotal moments in our lives where the road breaks into two paths and our decisions can lead us to either success or ruin - in which we need wisdom and guidance the most. Through the intercession of the Archangel Raphael we just might be inspired to take the better option.
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To me the first question which must be asked is if the figure is indeed Raphael. Is there a reason you believe it is that archangel?
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Cool "A Great Winged Figure..."


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Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
To me the first question which must be asked is if the figure is indeed Raphael. Is there a reason you believe it is that archangel?
A very good point. To quote Vincent from an old thread on Angels in this forum:
Quote:
Paul Foster Case at one time says the 'Angel' on the Lovers is Raphael and another time says it is Michael. There are some reasons as to why someone might believe it to be either. For example, Raphael is associated with the sixth Sephira Tiphareth, and on the other side, the flames on the angel's head suggest it could be Michael.

But all this speculation, begs the question of whether the figure in the Lovers is an angel at all. Waite simply calls it a "great winged figure". And, if Waite fails to identify it as an angel, what else could it possibly be?

The Golden Dawn symbol/diagram called "The Garden of Eden before the Fall" is closely associated with this card. You can see a modern version of it here;
https://www.golden-dawn.com/eu/displ...efore-the-fall
but if you have a copy of Israel Regardie's Golden Dawn, there is a much more detailed version.

If you read the essay, you should be able to see why the "great winged figure" might not be an angel, but something else entirely.
So, you're quite right that Waite never labels the winged figure as Raphael or even an angel at all.

You can read more of this thread on Angels here: http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=37039. Another poster argues that it's Gabriel. Note that the URL Vincent mentions in the original thread is no longer there, so I exchanged it in the quote above for one that shows picture and essay. The essay suggests that the winged figure is not an angel but "the neshamah, or Divine Feminine, of the Qabalists."

I don't know about the "divine feminine" but one succinct quote on Neshamah/Neshama is: "The word neshama has the same root in Hebrew (NShM) as the word for breath. This soul level is associated with higher awareness and angelic realms, it is a defining quality of human consciousness. In many ways, the neshama is an essential aspect of creation. As the neshama is an aspect of soul that is directly connected with the divine source of life, it is via the neshama, and the higher levels of soul, that we co-partner with God in the continuous unfolding of creation. The neshama is pure in its essence. It cannot be blemished. When we die, it immediately returns to its source." For more see here: https://www.rabbidavidcooper.com/coo...-the-soul.html
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Judging by iconography, it's Raphael. Michael is nearly always wearing his warrior's outfit, has a sword and armour. Gabriel is often carrying the lily.

Raphael is associated since Milton I think with Adam and Eve (and with Tobit of course who plays no role here). But the un-warriorlike appearance speaks for Raphael.
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Question Why is Raphael "fiery"?


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Originally Posted by Nemia View Post
Judging by iconography, it's Raphael. Michael is nearly always wearing his warrior's outfit, has a sword and armour. Gabriel is often carrying the lily. Raphael is associated since Milton I think with Adam and Eve (and with Tobit of course who plays no role here). But the un-warriorlike appearance speaks for Raphael.
But (the other thread argues), the angel is "fiery" and that is Michael. And if Raphael, where is his staff or fish? If the lack of armor means it's not Michael, then we also have to say that the lack of usual items that come with Raphael means it's not Raphael either.
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Well, that's fair. I guess that I don't recall not seeing the figure referred to as Raphael. I know that Biddy's site cites him as Raphael and I recall seeing it in an older book from the library that I *think* was case. I think there's another library book with a big purple cover that also claims it to be Raphael. As the patron of matchmakers (and considering that some older versions of the card have a matchmaker on it) it seems that, if it's an angel, then Raphael would be the immediate candidate.

As far as it not being an angel at all, I think that's a bridge too far for me. We're in a setting that's clearly evocative of the Garden of Eden and a figure that's on point with classical depictions of the Angels is standing over it. If someone wants to argue that Waite didn't necessarily think of it as an angel, it seems, prima facie, that Pixie did.

This isn't to mention the correlation between the traditional cupid imagery and Christian angels. In Renaissance art the figure of Cupid is often intermingled with baby angels ("putti," often mislabeled as cherubim). Case in point, Parmigianino's 1530s painting Cupid Making His Arch (aka Cupid Making His Bow) in which Cupid is seen in the company of putti. Obviously this isn't directly applicable to what Waite may or may not have thought but it shows that at the time of tarot's development that visual culture connected the figure of cupid with the Christian Angelology and that, therefore, reading an angelic presence into The Lovers (even in TdM, etc.) shouldn't be seen as particularly heretical.

Thank you for your input. This is an interesting discussion.
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I'm open to the possibility it's an angel even though Waite doesn't identify it as such, but I don't think it's Raphael or any of the others (Michael, Gabriel, etc.). I'm open-minded about it though, I just haven't heard any argument which seems convincing.

Charlie Brown I do agree about it being original. I don't recall ever seeing anything else like it.
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James Sturzaker, in Qabalistic Aphorisms, describes it as the Guardian Angel, and Gareth Knight, in A Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism, when discussing Crowley's card, calls it "a figure of the Creator," and under his Manly P. Hall entry, the "Holy Guardian Angel," which has a Tiphareth association. Since I never had much practical use for the concept of archangels, I never thought to try to name it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Brown View Post
Well, that's fair. I guess that I don't recall not seeing the figure referred to as Raphael. I know that Biddy's site cites him as Raphael and I recall seeing it in an older book from the library that I *think* was case. I think there's another library book with a big purple cover that also claims it to be Raphael.
It hardly matters how many books claim it's Raphael if Waite never does. I mean, it's a little like the internet, right? If I say "This Angel in the Lovers is Uriel" and someone quotes me, and someone quotes them, and someone quotes them...

Suddenly you might well say, as you do a search, "Gosh, every tarot internet site says it's Uriel!" But that doesn't mean it *IS* Uriel. Same here. All you're arguing is that Biddy's site read a book saying the angel was Raphael, and that book's author read it in some other book, and that's book's author read it in another book...etc. All the way back to whomever decided it was Raphael...never mind if Waite was there to say they were right.
Quote:
As far as it not being an angel at all, I think that's a bridge too far for me. We're in a setting that's clearly evocative of the Garden of Eden and a figure that's on point with classical depictions of the Angels is standing over it. If someone wants to argue that Waite didn't necessarily think of it as an angel, it seems, prima facie, that Pixie did.
You're arguing a faulty premise. "Garden of Eden" doesn't mean classical depictions are all that's on the table. Waite and company DID study up on Qabalah there and they did know their Hebrew and Hebrew lettering. They did know that there are more than angels within the Old Testament, and they did use iconography and symbols that go back BEFORE classical depictions where every winged adult figure is, by default, an angel.

And you really need to remember: YOU and all those who would say this winged figure is "obviously" an angel were NOT the intended audience for this deck. The intended audience were Golden Dawn folk who'd studied and gone through initiations and would, for example, look at the 10/Swords and instantly recognize it as Hiram, Solomon's architect...unlike most of readers of tarot who would never think that. Ditto here. Are you sure that such initiates would look at this winged figure and say "Angel" rather than something else? Something they'd been specifically taught to recognize? That this must be an angel is not so "prima facie" as you think.

I think it's well within Waite's wheelhouse to say that this fiery winged figure is something more or other than an "angel." But even if we agree it is one...why must it be a named archangel?
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