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Grail Mystery Rediscovered in Tarot

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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Meador
"The theory that all esoteric practices and traditions, whether alchemy, the Hebrew Kabbalah, the legends of the Holy Grail, Rosicrucianism, Christian mysticism or Freemasonry, were secret paths to a direct experience of God had been developed by Waite over many years. He was convinced that the symbolism in each of these traditions had a common root and a common end, and that their correct interpretation would lead to a revelation of concealed ways to spiritual illumination. "
-R. A. Gilbert: The masonic career of A.E. Waite
http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/aqc/waite/waite.html
This is a good summary of Waite's intent.

Quote:
This reminds me of a stimulating discussion many years ago on TarotL where it was suggested that Waite intended the trumps to occupy the sephiroth in an ascending and descending pattern...
I don't think there was ever any material from Waite himself that demonstrated this. There is proof, however, that when Waite devised the Trinick deck he also assigned many of the cards to different paths on the standard GD Tree of Life.
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Grail Mystery


Yes, the 6 of cups: from the grief of the 5 of cups to a gesture of joyful giving, from loneliness to warmth of heart-to-heart, from a deed failed to a deed accomplished. (The 5 to 6 reminds me of Parzival who self-centeredly failed to act, to the compassionate Parzival who gives out of his heart, but that is a long story. Interesting that a bridge leads to a castle in the background of 5 of cups, just as Parzival left the Grail castle in disgrace for inaction.) The 6 of cups has the the golden cup with its white star-flower given by the red-hooded taller figure to the smaller child. Behind and above the two figures giving and receiving is a cup with star-flower atop a cross of St. Andrew, symbolic of the Christ spirit or impulse that guides humanity by sacrificial giving. To the left of the highest cup is a courtier in blue walking away with a spear in his right hand. Cup and spear side-by-side, symbols of the Grail ceremony in Wolfram's Parzival, associated with Christ's suffering and shedding blood, the spear of Longinus, the Grail cup. Also, if one considers cups 5, 6, and 7, the act of kindly giving (6) is perfectly balanced between the dark, heavy earthly realm and the light,freely visionary astral realm : the soul Christ-inspired to give out of the heart, neither self-consumed earth-bound gloom (5) nor self-consumed astrally enraptured vision (7). I think all this is part of the Grail Mystery in the Waite-Smith Tarot.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Hall
Yes, the 6 of cups: from the grief of the 5 of cups to a gesture of joyful giving, etc.
Yes. Even though I feel the suit of Cups illustrates the Joseph of Arimathea story, there are yet elements of key themes in the other Grail stories as you've pointed out so well.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Meador
Neville Meakin (EOL) & Robert William Felkin (FR) were evidently members of a certain Order of the Graal, that Waite (SR=Sacramentum Regis) may have been affiliated with circa 1912 (see page 42):
http://74.125.45.104/search?q=cache:...ient=firefox-a
John, I apologize for not looking into this more closely when you first mentioned it. Waite also discusses several Grail rites in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. The link you give seems to refer to the roots of Felkin's NZ "Order of the Table Round."

It seems from all the evidence (including the 1933 edition of The Holy Grail) that Waite never formulated a Grail rite. Why should he when it was the Attainment found in the "Greater Arcana" that truly interested him? I think he roughed out a couple of story lines corresponding to the "Lesser Arcana" as a story of "Loss," but felt no need to actualize them in a ritual grade or Order. They exist only in a vestigal stage in the RWS deck.

In exploring the Neville Meakin connection I came across this excellent synopsis of the GD's involvement with Secret Chiefs. It's off topic but of the utmost value for anyone interested in GD history.

http://gyllenegryningen.blogspot.com...and-third.html
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Here's a very brief summary of the 2nd half of the 1909 Hidden Church of the Holy Graal Ch. 9. Then, in the 1933 The Holy Grail revision, Waite turned this text (with only minor changes) into the Summary Chapter of Bk XI on the ritual aspects of the Grail:

Quote:
"The message of the Secret Tradition in the Christian Graal mystery is this: The Cup corresponds to spiritual life. It receives the graces from above and communicates them to that which is below. The equivalent happens in the supernatural Eucharist, the world of unmanifest adeptship, attained by sanctity [Grace].

"We are confronted by two theses:
1) The Mystery of Divine Attainment subtly calls and can be experienced even in the modern world.
2) The Great Secret is no longer available externally [that is exoterically; through the stories in the Lesser Arcana].

"Several scholars think it existed only in heretical schools of concealed sects. They didn’t know it existed as a concealed sanctuary, a “Third Heaven” that can only be known through vision, not communicated, except through approximation. Though the external doctrine is the same, the secret school opens one to what lies behind definitions and expressions that satisfy the mind. It never tried to change doctrine but, rather, to carry the Universals implied to their final Universal implication.

"We are spiritually isolated and conscious of our loss.

"We move through our spiritual and everyday life, hearing veiled voices that signify the Presence, but we don’t know where/how to find it. Dead sects and legends offer us little. Freemasonry says the grave is empty and the enemy within. Is there any greater desolation than what has lost its sacred significance? Until the lost is restored, the true temple can only be built in the heart.

"It is only the higher side of alchemy which has continued to point the path of Attainment, telling us of the One Matter, the One Vessel, the one way of perfection. Only Divine Guidance can lead us in the path of illumination and help us acquire the most hidden of all secrets. Our inhibitions only need a small shift to transform into Grace.

"Like Perceval, it is as if we failed to ask “one little question” [i.e., “Whom does the Grail serve?”], because we only know it externally. We are haunted by a voice that says the question and answer lie within. All creatures wait for us to be unspelled. The unspelling is of the High Order of Union. The external orders and conventions do not give us this highest advice. But, if we persevere and affirm our beliefs in this Glory, it will be revealed.

"The same story of loss is told everywhere, though never in the same way. But a story also continues, from age to age, that somewhere, sometime, the missing Word, the key to our Existence, will be restored. Christian mystics say it is here and now, while the Hermetic Mystery says, ‘In the place of wisdom there is still the Stone of the Wise.’"*
-----
* Notes regarding the 'Stone of the Wise' - which seems to be the grand culmination of everything Waite had to say on the subject:

In one of the GD rituals it is said, “In the alembic of thine heart, through the athanor of affliction, seek thou the True Stone of the Wise.” [alembic & athanor are alchemical vessels of transformation] Waite favorably compares the Greater Arcana with the major alchemical texts.

The Stone is the result of the Great Work of alchemy. Waite writes in the 1933 edition of The Holy Grail:
“The Alchemist is himself finally the Stone, and because many zealous aspirants to the Art have not understood this they have failed in the Great Work on the spiritual side. . . . But “God abides in Man.” (1933, p. 457),
and
“Christ is therefore the Stone, and the Stone in adept humanity is the Union realized, while the Great Secret is that Christ must be found within, and manifested from within outwardly.” (1933, p. 459.)
and
“Make of man and woman a circle; then a quadrangle; out of this a triangle; make again a circle, and you will have the Stone of the Wise. Thus is made the stone, which thou canst not discover, unless you, through diligence, learn to understand this geometrical teaching.” From Michael Maier's "Atalanta Fugiens."

Waite also wrote: "The 'Secret Symbols,' is, by its very nature, a sealed book to all except those who have made some progress on the way of the 'Great Quest' of what is variously called, 'The Stone of the Wise,' the 'Summum Bonum,' and by many other names, or simply 'The Stone,' implying thereby, all that the word means in the language of the Secret Tradition."

We've now finished with Waite's original chapter on the four Graal Hallows and the Tarot suits.
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Thanks for this thread which is very interesting (and completely new to me).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosanne
I was reading once more the Kaplan Vol 1 and 11 about the various Visconti decks and the Visconti Sforza history. In it it gives the drawings of a hand illustrated manuscript dated 1446. The style and aesthetics are similar in many ways to the art in the Visconti cards. The manuscript is popularly called 'The story of Lancelot of the Lake' Codex Palatino 556.
I know it's off-topic, but I searched the internet for a few image from the Lancelot illustrations by Bonificio Bembo. Here are the links:
http://www.lombardiabeniculturali.it...3a060-0000015/
http://it.geocities.com/a_pollett/cards32i.htm
http://www.tarotpassages.com/artcat-so.htm

From the Tarotpassages page: "La Tavola ritonda", an Italian version of Arthurian legend, is very similar in appearance to the "Historia de Lancillotto del lago", so I assume it was also Bembo's work.

Marco
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Waite also discusses the Grail connection to the Minor Arcana in an article for The Occult Review, that he wrote in response to some criticisms by John Brodie Innes.

Quote:
I have said, now long ago, (1) that there are vague rumours concerning a higher meaning in the minor cards but (2) they have never yet been translated into another language than that of fortune- telling. ... In any case, the four suits of Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles have two strange connexions in folk-lore, to one of which I drew attention briefly in The Hidden Church of the Holy Graal. So far as my recollection goes, I have not mentioned the other in any published work. The four Hallows of the Holy Graal are (1) the Graal itself, understood as a Cup or Chalice, being the first Cup of the Eucharist; (2) the Spear, traditionally that of Longinus; (3) the Sword, which was made and broken under strange circumstances of allegory; and (4) the Dish of Plenty, about which the Graal tradition is composed, but it is understood generally as the Paschal Dish. The correspondence of these Hallows or Tokens with the Tarot sults will be noted, and the point is that albeit three out of the four belong to the Christian history of relics they have an antecedent folklore history belonging to the world of Celtlc myth. This is a subject which I shall hope to carry farther one of these days. There are also the four treasures of the Tuatha de Danaan: these were the Sword of the Dogda, the Spear of Lug, the Cauldron of Plenty and Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny which indicated the rightful King. I remember one of our folk-lore scholars, and a recognized authoritv on the texts of Graal literature, suggesting to me that something ought be done to link these pagan talismans with the Tarot suits, but I know as yet of no means by which the gulf of centuries can be bridged over. For the Tuatha de Danaan are of pre-Christian myth, but no one has traced Tarot cards earlier than the fourteenth century. The Tuatha de Danaan were mvsterious beings of Ireland and divinities of Wales: some information concerning them will be found in Alfred Nutt's Voyage of Bran. They are said to be (1) earth-gods, (2) gods of growth and vegetation, (3) lords of the essence of life. They are connected with the idea of rebirth, usually of a god or hero. I assume that an adequate survey of the vast field of folk-lore would produce other analogies, without appealing—like excellent old Court de Gebelin—to Chinese inscriptions or the avatars of Vishnu. It follows that the archaeology of the Tarot has made a beginning only and we know not whither it may lead us.
from "THE TAROT AND SECRET TRADITION" By A. E. Waite
The Occult Review, Vol. XXIX, No. 3; March, 1919.
Mary
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Well he has this right....For the Tuatha de Danaan are of pre-Christian myth, but no one has traced Tarot cards earlier than the fourteenth century.

Is there any written word or idea that Waite ever saw hand painted Tarot cards from Italy? Or even remnants of Minchiate- anything other than TdM and Sola Busca photos? German hand painted playing cards?

~Rosanne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosanne
Is there any written word or idea that Waite ever saw hand painted Tarot cards from Italy? Or even remnants of Minchiate- anything other than TdM and Sola Busca photos? German hand painted playing cards?
There is a fairly extensive collection of old tarot decks at the British Museum, which I was priviledged to examine in 1971. I believe most of the collection was there in Waite's day. However, I don't believe they have any 15th century Italian cards. I don't remember any Minchiate - but I wasn't looking for those at the time.
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Thank you for this imput Mary!
It is just that that statement from Waite is weirdly accurate and I wonder how he came to it? We know much more now- but really that one sentence still says it all.

Secondly, although I never thought it before I went to Italy to follow the trail off Francesco and Bianca Sforza- I never saw the 'quest' aspect of the Visconti cards. It is like almost like a typical Crestien de Troyes tale- this life of Francesco and his 'Quest' for Milan and Truth and Peace...and Bianca. I know in Kaplan he speaks of this association through Bembo's art of the Lady of the Lake- but I passed it over- thinking that Waite was first to make the association. I am more and more convinced there is this Grail element in the Visconti. Maybe the cards have always had this Christian mysticism and Waite recognised it more clearly than we do, even today. There is this Folk tale aspect that really stands out- well in my eyes anyway..now.
~Rosanne
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