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Where did Waite get his Minor Arcana iconography?

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santasser  santasser is offline
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Where did Waite get his Minor Arcana iconography?


If you don't know, would you know of a book?
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Originally Posted by santasser View Post
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Some of the imagery came from the Sola Busca and Etteilla decks.

There are some original conjectures by Mary K. Greer about Waite's use of the Minors to illustrate certain narratives about the Holy Grail and the Masonic legend of Hiram Abiff. An early outline of her theory is in Llewellyn's 2006 Tarot Reader, but since then she had made some refinements. There may be some information in her blog.

I don't think you will find much in the way of substantiated information about the iconography in a book, unless it be in the new book by Goodwin and Katz: Secrets of the Waite-Smith Tarot. However, I don't have this book, as I am suspicious of its having been overhyped.

In my humble opinion, among other things the Pips illustrate MacGregor Mathers' application of the the Picatrix decans to Tarot. I offer this for your information, but I have no inclination to discuss it, as for some reason it tends to arouse passionate but otherwise uninformed opposition.
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he was all about the majors. the minors were all pamela "pixie" coleman smith, as i understand it. they built on all the other decks before them, and golden dawn stuff. he commissioned them, but i have come to think of them as pamela's deck.
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In my humble opinion, among other things the Pips illustrate MacGregor Mathers' application of the the Picatrix decans to Tarot. I offer this for your information, but I have no inclination to discuss it, as for some reason it tends to arouse passionate but otherwise uninformed opposition.
I agree, and I suspect there was a certain "vulgarization" of the decans so as to make them more relevant to daily life. The Picatrix and Ibn Ezra's metaphors are fairly straightforward to understand, but there is no doubt they have aged.The "essential energies" are still there in the RWS, but are presented differently. Of course, to me their sources are less important than what they mean, and Waite's Minors do show a certain structural cohesion that can be traced back to Book T and its system. There are too many coincidences for this to not to be the case. Now, they may very well show Grail legends, and the PKT may quote card meanings from older sources, but the basic building blocks are there. Waite did adhere to them, even if he was creative in their execution.

In addition, it is quite erroneous to ascribe the deck to PCS alone, as many modern sources try to do. The cards simply display too much material that she would not have been privvy to, and elements that wouldn't have been possible for her to include by mistake (or "psychic channeling").
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Originally Posted by arya ishtar View Post
he was all about the majors. the minors were all pamela "pixie" coleman smith, as i understand it. they built on all the other decks before them, and golden dawn stuff. he commissioned them, but i have come to think of them as pamela's deck.
That is Robert Place's conjecture, which is based on the fact that the card illustrations do not appear to depict some of the generic divinatory meanings given in PKT. However, Waite makes the point that the meanings in PKT are essentially a crutch for those readers who do not have the skills necessary to read the illustrations directly. I.e., the illustrations are paramount, the PKT meanings secondary.

It is not as if Waite had to go hitch up the horse and buggy and go visit Pixie in order to confer with her on the illustrations. He could simply ring her on the telephone.
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arya ishtar, I mostly agree. I think Waite probably directed Pixie on the Aces more than the others, but the 36 "decan" cards were her babies. I imagine Waite gave her a skeleton outline based on divinatory meanings from Etteilla, the Golden Dawn and traditional cartomancy (probably others), then left her to flesh them out. These images come mostly, with a few exceptions, from Pixie's imagination.
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seeing as the actual pictures and waite's "descriptions" are *completely* different in some cases, i am gonna side with Place on that one. some are soooo far off that it seems waite never even saw the card before...
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Waite didn't, and I doubt that he understood the Minor Arcana very well at all. I think this is Ms. Smith's wisdom you're seeing. Pamela only borrowed a little bit from the Sola-Busca, notably some of the Court and the 3 of Swords, and altered the Ten of Swords into the Ten of Wands. Outside of this, I'd credit her wonderful imagination and ability to put the idea of a number together with the idea of a suit.
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Waite understood the minor arcana better then anyone. The problem is that he was a mystic.
This whole idea that he concentrated more on the majors is just a slight of hand. If he was that uninterested in the minors he could have just gone with numbered pip cards.
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Yes, I agree he understood the minors very well. He was interested in them as a divination tool. Illustrated scenes allowed for more intuitive readings, but he was less involved in how Pamela painted them. The majors and Aces illustrate his mystic philosophy, so he was more concerned about those being just the way he wanted them.
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