Tarot Divination:
Three Parallel Traditions
Edited & Translated By
James W. Revak




Folly from Etteilla’s TarotWAITE: Folly, mania, extravagance, intoxication, delirium, frenzy, bewrayment.
Reversed: Negligence, absence, distribution, carelessness, apathy, nullity, vanity.

MATHERS: Folly, Expiation, Wavering.
Reversed: Hesitation, Instability, Trouble arising therefrom.

ETTEILLA: FOLLY (78 or 0)—Demented, Eccentricity [Extravagance], Insanity, Aberrations, Intoxication, Delirium, Frenzy, Defective, Rage, Carried Away.— Enthusiasm.—Blindness, Ignorance.—Crazy, Insane, Irrational, Innocent, Without Affectation, Simpleton.
Reversed: Imbecility, Ineptitude, Carelessness, Stupidity, Imprudence, Negligence, Absence, Distraction.—Apathy, Fainting Fit, Exhaustion, Sleep, Nothingness, Nullity, Empty, Nothing.—Vain.

Illustration (above): Folie [Folly], adapted from Le Grand Etteilla (after Etteilla’s original deck, c. 1788), published by Grimaud.


The Magician from The Rider Tarot DeckWAITE: Skill, diplomacy, address, subtlety; sickness, pain, loss, disaster, snares of enemies; self-confidence, will; the Querent, if male.
Reversed: Physician, Magus, mental disease, disgrace, disquiet.

MATHERS: THE JUGGLER—Will, Will-Power, Dexterity.
Reversed: Will applied to evil ends, Weakness of Will, Cunning, Knavishness.

ETTEILLA: ILLNESS (15), Infirmity.—Trouble, Sadness, Anguish, Evil, Displeasure.—Harm, Pain, Misfortune, Disaster.
Reversed: Mental Illness, Head Injury, Unfortunate Situation, Disgrace, Trouble, Anxiety [Disquiet], Affliction.—Physician, Magician.

Illustration (above): The Magician, from an early edition (c. 1910) of The Rider Tarot Deck by Waite & Smith, first published by Rider in 1909 (from the private collection of Holly Voley).  Click the image for a larger one.


WAITE: Secrets, mystery, the future as yet unrevealed; the woman who interests the Querent, if male; the Querent herself, if female; silence, tenacity; mystery, wisdom, science.
Reversed: Passion, moral or physical ardour, conceit, surface knowledge.

MATHERS: Science, Wisdom, Knowledge, Education.
Reversed: Conceit, Ignorance, Unskillfulness, Superficial Knowledge

ETTEILLA: FEMALE QUERENT [CONSULTANT] (8)—The Woman Who Most Interests the Querent, if Male—Nature, Rest, Peace and Quiet, Retreat, A Withdrawn Life, Alone, Retirement.—Temple of Heat, Silence, Tenacity.
Reversed: Reproduction, Garden of Eden, Effervescence, Bubbling, Fermentation, Ferment, Levin, Acidity.


The Empress from Ancien Tarot de MarseilleWAITE: Fruitfulness, action, initiative, length of days; the unknown, clandestine; also difficulty, doubt, ignorance.
Reversed: Light, truth, the unravelling of involved maters, public rejoicings; according to another reading, vacillation.

MATHERS: Action, Plan, Undertaking, Movement in a matter, Initiative.
Reversed: Inaction, Frittering away power, Want of Concentration, Vacillation.

ETTEILLA: NIGHT (6)—Obscurity, Darkness, Lack of Light, Night Scene, Mystery, Secret, Mask, Hidden, Unknown, Clandestine, Occult.—Veil, Symbol, Figure, Image, Parable, Allegory, Mystic Fire, Occult Science.—Hidden Machinations, Mysterious Intervention, Clandestine Actions.—Blindness, Confused, Cover, Wrap, Difficulty, Doubt, Ignorance.
Reversed: Day, Clarity, Light, Brilliance, Splendor, Illumination, Manifestation, Evidence, Truth.—Clear, Visible, Luminous, Grant the Day [Donner le jour], Seize the Day, Make Public, Make Appear.—Pierce, Coming of Day, Brightened Up, Acquire Knowledge.—Expedient, Easiness.—Opening Up, Window, Gap, Zodiac.

Illustration (above): L’Impéatrice [The Empress], from Ancien Tarot de Marseille by Marteau (1930), copyright © 1980 Grimaud.  Click the image for a larger one.


WAITE: Stability, power, protection, realization; a great person; aid, reason, conviction; also authority and will.
Reversed: Benevolence, compassion, credit; also confusion to enemies, obstruction, immaturity.

MATHERS: Realization, Effect, Development.
Reversed: Stoppage, Check, Immature, Unripe.

ETTEILLA: SUPPORT (7)—Aid, Prop, Flying Buttress, Column, Base, Footing, Foundation.—Principle, Reason, Cause, Subject, Stability.—Assurance, Persuasion, Conviction, Surety, Security, Confidence, Certainty.—Help, Assuagement, Assistance, Protection.—Relief, Consolation.
Reversed: Protection, Influence, Benevolence, Kindness, Charity, Humaneness, Goodness, Commiseration, Pity, Compassion, Credit.—Authorization.


WAITE: Marriage, alliance, captivity, servitude; by another account, mercy and goodness; inspiration; the man to whom the Querent has recourse.
Reversed: Society, good understanding, concord, over-kindness, weakness.

MATHERS: THE HIEROPHANT, or POPE—Mercy, Beneficence, Kindness, Goodness.
Reversed: Over-kindness, Weakness, Foolish exercise of generosity.

ETTEILLA: MARRIAGE (13)—Union, Joining, Assembling, Bond, Alliance, Chain, Slavery, Financial Straits, Captivity, Servitude.
Reversed: Society, Contacts, Alloy, Blending, Compounding.—Peace, Concord, Accord, Harmony, Correct [Good] Understanding.

The Lovers from Tarocco SoprafinoVI. THE LOVERS

WAITE: Attraction, love, beauty, trials overcome.
Reversed: Failure, foolish designs. Another account speaks of marriage frustrated and contrarities of all kinds.

MATHERS: Wise Dispositions, Proof, Trials Surmounted.
Reversed: Unwise Plans, Failure when put to the test.

ETTEILLA: [No corresponding card exists for purposes of comparing divinatory meanings.]

Illustration (above): Gli Amanti [The Lovers] from Tarocco Soprafino di F. Gumppenberg (1835), republished by Il Meneghello.


WAITE: Succour, providence; also war, triumph, presumption, vengeance, trouble.
Reversed: Riot, quarrel, dispute, litigation, defeat.

MATHERS: Triumph, Victory, Overcoming Obstacles.
Reversed: Overthrown, Conquered by Obstacles at the last moment.

ETTEILLA: DISSENTION (21)—War, Dispute, Disruption, Troubles, Riots, Unrest, Battle, Fight, Combat.—Arrogance, Haughtiness, Vanity, False Glory, Pomp, Ostentation, Daring, Temerity.—Violence, Disorder, Anger, Injury, Abuse, Presumptuousness, Vengeance.
Reversed: Unrest, Racket, Quarrel, Disagreement, Contesting, Lawsuit, Harassment, Debates.


Strength from Antichi Tarocchi BolognesiWAITE: Power, energy, action, courage, magnanimity; also complete success and honours.
Reversed: Despotism, abuse of power, weakness, discord, sometimes even disgrace.

MATHERS: (11)—Power, Might, Force, Strength, Fortitude.
Reversed: Abuse of Power, Overbearingness, Want of Fortitude.

ETTEILLA: STRENGTH [FORCE] (11)—Heroism, Magnanimity, Greatness, Courage.—Ability, Power, Empire, Powerful Influence.—Mental Work, Patience, Resignation.
Reversed: Sovereign, Kingdom, State, Republic, Government, Administration, Reign, Despotism, Sovereignty, Supreme Power, Arbitrary Power, People, Nation, Weakness, Imperfection, Quarrel [Discord].

Illustration (above): La Force (Strength) from Antichi Tarocchi Bolognesi di Giacomo Zoni (c. 1780), republished by Lo Scarabeo.


WAITE: Prudence, circumspection; also and especially treason, dissimulation, roguery, corruption.
Reversed: Concealment, disguise, policy, fear, unreasoned caution.

MATHERS: Prudence, Caution, Deliberation.
Reversed: Over-Prudence, Timourousness, Fear.

ETTEILLA: TRAITOR (18)—Treason, Disguise, Dissimulation, Hypocrisy, Deceiver, Corrupter, Seducer.—Trickery [Roguery], Impostor.
Reversed: Hermit, Anchorite, Hidden, Concealed, Disguised, Clever, End.


WAITE: Destiny, fortune, success, elevation, luck, felicity.
Reversed: Increase, abundance, superfluity.

MATHERS: Good fortune, Success, Unexpected Luck.
Reversed: Ill Fortune, Failure, Unexpected Ill-Luck.

ETTEILLA: FORTUNE (20)—Happiness, Felicity, Improvement, Enhancement, Prosperity.—Advantages, Riches, Profits—Gifts, Favors.—Fate, Destiny, Adventures, Good Fortune.
Reversed: Increase, Expansion, Abundance, More.—Development, Growth, Production.


Red indicates passages from Mathers or Waite which parallels those of Etteilla, in the opinion of the editor

Green indicates passages from Waite which does not parallel those of Etteilla but does parallel those of Mathers, in the opinion of the editor.

For further details concerning the presentation and sources of this material, see the Introduction.


Copyright © 2000 James W. Revak.  All rights reserved.  Version 1.1 (3/27/00).