Aeclectic Tarot
Tarot Cards & Reviews Live Tarot Readings Tarot Card Meanings Forum Archive

Are the Fool and the Magician reversed?

  > Aeclectic Tarot Forum > Tarot Special Interest > Rider-Waite-Smith


 
Zephyros's Avatar
Zephyros  Zephyros is offline
Jedi
 
Join Date: 31 Jan 2004
Location: Israel
Posts: 8,179
Zephyros 
Jedi

Zephyros's Avatar
Are the Fool and the Magician reversed?


This may have been addressed in passing in other threads, but I have never seen it discussed in depth. Paul Foster Case tells why the orientation of the Fool is what it is, a Masonic reference:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Foster Case
Always it faces unknown possibilities of self-expression, transcending any height it might have reached at a given time. On this account the sun behind the traveller is at an angle of forty-five degrees in the eastern heaven, as Swedenborg says the celestial sun remains forever in the spiritual world. The spiritual sun never reaches its zenith, for from the zenith it would have to descend, and the idea here intended is that infinite energy can never reach a point in manifestation whence it must begin to decrease in power. On this account, too, the Fool faces North-West, toward a direction which, for Masonic and other occult reasons, has for millenniums been symbolic of the unknown, and of the state just prior to the initiation of a creative process
However, this leaves out why the magician is oriented according to the Fool. Both seemingly point upward at the "spiritual sun," at Keter but Masonic symbolism notwithstanding, taken together they appear contrary to other representations of the Tree of Life, where the Fool is on the right hand side while the Magician is on the left hand side. This would not be an issue, perhaps, if there wasn't an actual white (perhaps the color of "brilliance" would be a better term?) sun in the corner of the Fool, who's meaning is fairly obvious. Now, while it is fairly clear Waite did not use a completely different version of the Tree generally known to the GD, the question is why this is so?

The Wang tarot has the orientation of the Fool reaching up to the right (to pick the fruit), from the left, while the Magician is standing up straight. The Thoth has both figures standing up straight. The Dowson Hermetic Fool looks up to the left (West?) while the Magus seems to be similar to the RWS figure. He faces West, too, his wand having Keter at its tip, "creating" a Fool-like figure as Mercury and showing a sort of triangle.

Waite is very vague on the positions here, although he may give a clue to this in the entry about the Magician:

Quote:
Originally Posted by A.E. Waite
Fool:The sun, which shines behind him, knows whence he came, whither he is going, and how he will return by another path after many days. He is the spirit in search of experience. Many symbols of the Instituted Mysteries are summarized in this card, which reverses, under high warrants, all the confusions that have preceded it.

***

Magician:The suggestion throughout is therefore the possession and communication of the Powers and Gifts of the Spirit... This card signifies the divine motive in man, reflecting God, the will in the liberation of its union with that which is above. It is also the unity of individual being on all planes, and in a very high sense it is thought, in the fixation thereof.
The only way to correct the RWS discrepancy is to hold the pair, together with an Ace, up to the mirror. Is all this because Waite saw the Tree not as an external story of creation, but rather a representation of the Adam Kadmon, i.e., the whole deck exists within Man? Or, did he in fact create an entirely new model of the Tree, with the Chariot on the Piller of Mercy and the Hierophant on the Piller of severity (and so downward)? The latter makes no sense, either in what we know of Waite or in how the deck is arranged on the Tree. The former makes much more sense, but what would this say about the deck as a whole?
Top   #1
Abrac  Abrac is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 13 Aug 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 4,466
Abrac 
Citizen

If I understand you, you're wondering why the "sun" is behind The Fool when his orientation on the Tree (path 11) suggests it should be above him?
Top   #2
Zephyros's Avatar
Zephyros  Zephyros is offline
Jedi
 
Join Date: 31 Jan 2004
Location: Israel
Posts: 8,179
Zephyros 
Jedi

Zephyros's Avatar

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
If I understand you, you're wondering why the "sun" is behind The Fool when his orientation on the Tree (path 11) suggests it should be above him?
Not above, but in front, appropriate to his place on the Tree. The Magician, on the other hand, should (could?) switch the orientation of his arms.
Top   #3
Abrac  Abrac is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 13 Aug 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 4,466
Abrac 
Citizen

Hmm...Waite's comment, "and how he will return by another path after many days." and the Fool's orientation, does make ya wonder if The Fool's actually on path 12 and The Magician on path 11; visually it makes more sense.

But I also wonder how much Waite had the Tree in mind and how strictly he wanted all the cards to correspond accordingly. My sense is used it loosely but didn't base the whole thing on it.

It's an interesting idea you've brought up though and I'll be curious to see what develops from it.
Top   #4
Richard's Avatar
Richard  Richard is offline
Le Mat
 
Join Date: 21 Dec 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 6,587
Richard 
Le Mat

Richard's Avatar

Maybe not all of the nuances of the paths can be depicted accurately in a Tarot image or, say, a lodge room ritual, which is why Case refined the Cube of Space model. Anyhow, our spatial visualization is limited to three-dimensional images. Reality does not conform to this sensory limitation. For example, in our everyday temporal world, the three dimensions of space are extended in time, and the only way to suggest this is by means of a movie or a succession of snapshots. In fact, it has been proven that space itself is curved in the vicinity of a mass, and the curvature becomes extreme in a black hole. This is mind-blowing, because it is impossible to visualize space curvature accurately, since such visualization would demand at least one more dimension (preferably another two or three, since time itself is also 'curved').

I've decided not to be too concerned about it. The Tree of Life and the Cube of Space and the Tarot are all metaphors of reality. All metaphors are limited. If you try to extend a metaphor too far, you begin to get gobbledygook and eventually pure horsefeathers.
Top   #5
Richard's Avatar
Richard  Richard is offline
Le Mat
 
Join Date: 21 Dec 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 6,587
Richard 
Le Mat

Richard's Avatar

FWIW, the frontispiece of Waite's The Holy Kabbalah is the Adam Kadmon facing the reader, so the Tree of Life appears reversed.
Attached Images
 
Top   #6
Abrac  Abrac is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 13 Aug 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 4,466
Abrac 
Citizen

Wow, that's amazing. It definitely puts a new light on it.
Top   #7
Zephyros's Avatar
Zephyros  Zephyros is offline
Jedi
 
Join Date: 31 Jan 2004
Location: Israel
Posts: 8,179
Zephyros 
Jedi

Zephyros's Avatar

Yes, thank you LRichard, that's fascinating, and does shed great light on the question! And in response to your earlier post, I am of course not looking for anything definitive, it is all remarking on the quirks of the RWS, of which there are many. It's all mental gymnastics (:
Top   #8
Zephyros's Avatar
Zephyros  Zephyros is offline
Jedi
 
Join Date: 31 Jan 2004
Location: Israel
Posts: 8,179
Zephyros 
Jedi

Zephyros's Avatar

However, in the picture, it seems Waite seemingly carries out a double reversal. Although the Tree is reversed, and fits with my theory of us looking at the Tree of the RWS from the inside, the Man himself isn't reversed, but that's just picking.
Top   #9
ravenest's Avatar
ravenest  ravenest is offline
ravenator
 
Join Date: 02 Feb 2006
Location: NSW, Australia
Posts: 13,835
ravenest 
ravenator

ravenest's Avatar

yes, there are two ways of 'looking at' the tree ... well, one way of looking AT it and one way of looking out from it. (Endless debate about this with the pillars / B & W 'children' in the Gnostic mass temple set up and in other areas.)

Is it possible to 'look out from the Tree' and see 'Man' 'looking in' and hence get a double reversal ... now if we were discussing anything other than Waite I would not have said that!
Top   #10


 


 


Tarot Cards & Reviews Free Tarot Readings Tarot Books Tarot Card Meanings Forum Archive
Aeclectic Tarot Forum Links
· Tarot
· Tarot Special Interest
· Beyond Tarot
· Forum Library

Aeclectic Tarot Categories
· Angel Decks
· Dark & Gothic Decks
· Goddess Decks
· Fairy Decks
· Doreen Virtue Decks
· Beginner Decks
· Cat Decks
· Pagan & Wiccan Decks
· Ancient Egyptian Decks
· Celtic Decks
· Lenormand Decks
· Rider-Waite Decks
· Marseilles Decks
· Thoth Decks
· Oracle Decks
· List All Decks
· Popular Tarot Decks
· Available Decks
· Tarot Books
· What's New

The Aeclectic Tarot Forum closed permanently on July 14th, 2017. The public threads remain online as a read-only archive and resource. More information on our decision can be found here. Thank you for being a part of our active community over the past seventeen years.

Copyright © 1996 - 2017 Aeclectic Tarot. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy. Contact us.