Panels on Magician's table edge


I think I may have finally cracked Waite's meaning for those three symbols on the edge of the Magician's table. If I'm right, they're related to Salt, Sulphur and Mercury but not in a way I was expecting. The first and third ones aren't that difficult, Water and Spirit respectively; it's the middle one that's always had me stumped. I believe it's supposed to be Blood. Let me first share this quote that's found in the Latin Vulgate and King James versions of the New Testament, then I'll explain more with quotes from Levi and Waite.

"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." —1 John 5:7-8.​

After doing some research I discovered this quote is found quite a bit in Occult and Hermetic literature. Levi and Waite actually explain it in a fairly straightforward manner. Here's Levi from Transcendental Magic:

"The double triangle of Solomon is explained by St. John in a remarkable manner. He says, 'There are three which give record in heaven—the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit'; and 'there are three which give testimony on earth—the spirit, the water and the blood.' Thus, St. John agrees with the masters of Hermetic philosophy, who attribute to their Sulphur the name of Ether; to their Mercury that of Philosophical Water; and to their Salt the qualification of the Dragon's Blood or Menstruum of the Earth.

Blood or Salt corresponds by opposition with the Father; Azotic or Mercurial Water with the Word, or LOGOS; and the Ether with the Holy Spirit. But the things of transcendent symbolism can only be understood rightly by the true children of science."​

By "double triangle of Solomon" I assume he means this image; that's how he identifies it in the book at least. It illustrates the conjunction of Macrocosm and Microcosm, or heaven and earth if you will. He identifies the Blood, or Dragon's Blood with Salt; Ether (Spirit) with Sulphur; and Water with Mercury. These correspond below to that which is above: Salt (Blood) = Father, Sulphur (Spirit) = Holy Spirit, and Mercury (Water) = Word, or LOGOS.

Waite's correspondences are different but the idea's the same, that which is above in correspondence that which is below.

"Think for a moment of that which is signified by the versicles of the Chief Adept when the stigmata are impressed upon him. They refer to the Triad in the Archetype and because of the correspondence between things above and below they refer also to the Triad in humanity; to the Spirit, which is the Divine part; to the Water which is the psychic part; to the Blood, which is the life in Nephesh, the animal part;"—Gilbert, Hermetic Papers of A. E. Waite, "The Allocution of the 5 = 6 Grade."​


"The triad of Supernals bears testimony to that triad which is below, the Spirit, the water and the blood; the spirit which is the self-knowing part; the water, which is the psychic part; and the blood which is the part of the body of man."—Gilbert, Ibid.​

Waite also quotes from 1 John in his FRC Adeptus Minor initiation: "There are three that bear witness on earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." So this idea of Water, Blood and Spirit wasn't something foreign to Waite. The middle panel looks to me to almost resemble a dragon with its mouth open, a play on Levi's "Dragon Blood," but that might just be coincidence. :)

Magician Table Edge Pic


Are you compiling these into a paper? If not then you absolutely should :)


I just have a lot of spare time on my hands right now to do research, and I enjoy it; but it's not something I see as a big part of my life long term. :)


In the FRC Zelator initiatin ritual Waite makes a cryptic comment without much of an explanation, but I think I may have found the key. He says:

"In the mystical name Adam, the letter Aleph looketh toward the Supreme Crown; the letter Mem looketh toward the Great Mother in Binah, who is the Divine Mother of souls; but the letter Daleth looketh toward the Sephirah Malkuth and the Bride in manifestation."​

I believe the statement "looketh toward" must mean something akin to "in correspondence with."

Aleph = Kether = Divine Essence.
Daleth = Malkuth = Manifestation.
Mem = Binah = Waters of Creation.

These three are in correspondence with the panels on the edge of the Magician's table.

Bird = Divine Essence.
Blood = Life substance of the physical body.
Water = Source and sustainer of life.

They also correspond to the human triplicity to which Waite refers frequently.

Bird = Spirit.
Blood = Body.
Water = Soul.

These are the parts which make up "Adam." This also gives a bit more meaning to Waite's comment in the PKT: "It is also the unity of individual being on all planes . . ."


Panels on Magicians Table and Temperance

Great insight Abrac .
Could the Magician's three panels and four tools be linked to the triangle and square on Temperance I wonder ?

Perhaps the next thing to try to understand would be if there are correspondences between the Father , Word ( Son ) and Spirit , the Body Soul and Spirit , the Salt Sulphur and Mercury , and the three columns of the TOL as Desire Will and Mind ?

And what this all might mean.


I never thought about it, but the four and three might connect with Temperance. In Waite's comments above in post #1, he draws correspondence between the Supernal triad and the triad in humanity. Those panels on the Magician's table could symbolize the influence of the Supernals working within the material world. By the same token in Temperance, the triangle could represent something similar, the ternary working within the quaternary. It makes you think. :)


Have a look at this pic of the Magician. One picture's worth a thousand words. :)

He might represent Adam Microprosopus (Lesser Countenance). If so, you have Microprosopus side-by-side with the Shekinah card, the High Priestess.


Had a few more thoughts on this. The black leg of the table with "DIN" at the top refers to the pillar of severity summarized by Geburah (a.k.a. Din). The three panels could illustrate the three sephiroth on that pillar. The first, water, is obvious enough, corresponding to Hod which is water. The other two aren't as clear and may require more research but there are possibilities. The second panel, being blood, would correspond to Geburah. In Pat Zelewski's Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn, there are several references to blood in the 6 = 5 ritual (Geburah). This is a grade of symbolic death and the text reflects this. For example:

"In preparing for the Ceremony, Shekinah pours olive oil in to an Alabaster vessel saying: 'The Oil is the Life of the Tree—Let the Tree give its Life.' She pricks herself till blood flows in to the Oil and says: 'The Blood is the Life of the Man—let the Man give his Life.' "​

The third panel, the dove, or Spirit, would correspond to Binah. MacGregor Mathers, in his Introduction to The Kabbalah Unveiled says:

"I have already remarked that there is one trinity which comprises all the Sephiroth, and that it consists of the Crown, the King, and the Queen. (In some senses this is similar to the Christian Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which in their highest divine nature are symbolized by the first three Sephiroth, Kether, Chokmah, and Binah.)"​

And in the Book T description of the Judgment card:

"The Trumpet represents the influence of the Spirit descending from Binah. . ."​

Thus, water would represent birth, or more especially "psychic rebirth"; blood would represent mystical death or a renunciation of the flesh; and spirit would represent resurrection in the Spirit.

This seems to me a good explanation for this curious symbolism. Waite could have designed the card any way he wanted, yet he made it so the black pillar is prominently displayed and the white pillar isn't seen at all, with the panels on the black pillar side. The Magician himself is on the side where the white pillar would be; there may be some significance to that but I'm not exactly sure what it would be at this point.

Any other observations or insight?


Perhaps the Magician himself embodies the column of Mercy . Apart from the fact that the Magician is the path between two of the Sephiroth on the column of Mercy i.e. Chesed and Chokmah , there is also the fact that this column is ascribed to Will and the PKT says that the Magician adapts "the elements of natural life "..... "as he wills " . Also " This card signifies the divine motive in man, reflecting God , the will in the liberation of its union with that which is above ."


Those are some good quotes. No question the Magician's on the white pillar side in the FRC. The question is whether Waite already had that arrangement in mind when this card was designed; I would say a good argument could be made that he did.

In the FRC Adeptus Exemptus ritual Waite writes:

"It is said in the Secret Tradition that the Pillar of Severity, summarised in Geburah, is the way of going in, while the Pillar of Mercy, resumed [now rare: "summarised"; presumably from résumé] in Chesed, is the way of coming out. The science of the Paths which communicate with Chesed belongs to the root-matter of resurrection itself, which involves return in its meaning. To attain resurrection the Postulant must traverse the Path of Teth, but thereafter he comes forth out of Chesed, holding the warrants from above, and proceeds downward, returning on his road to manifest the Word. He takes the part of the Master in Geburah and Tiphereth. He opens the door of Tiphereth which looketh toward Yesod. He is reflected into Netzach as the Master of the Temple in the Second Order and in him also comes back, even into Malkuth."​

From this, it sounds like the black pillar is the way of "going in" while the white pillar is the way of "coming out." I haven't been able trace his source, but earlier in the ritual he says it's from "Zoharic Kabbalism." He says the Postulant "comes forth out of Chesed"; then he describes the various roles the Adept assumes as Officer in the lower Grade rituals. I'm not really sure what significance this has for the W-S Magician, if any; it's hard to say if Waite had it in mind when he designed the W-S Magician but he might have. The Magician's raised right arm could illustrate "going in" and the left arm "coming out."