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




WAITE: Equity, rightness, probity, executive; triumph of the observing side in law.
Reversed: Law in all departments, legal complications, bigotry, bias, excessive severity.

MATHERS: THEMES, or JUSTICE (8)—Equilibrium, Balance, Justice.
Reversed: Bigotry, Want of Balance, Abuse of Justice, Over-severity, Inequality, Bias.

ETTEILLA: (9)—Equity, Probity, Honesty, Rightness, Reason.—Administering [Executing] Justice.
Reversed: Jurist, Legislation, Legislator.—Law, Code, Statutes, Precept, Natural Rights, Human Rights, Public Law, Civil Rights, Military Law. The Jurist is under the immediate influence of this hieroglyph.

Illustration (above): Justice from the Tarot de Marseille par Nicolas Conver (1761), republished by Héron.


WAITE: Wisdom, circumspection, discernment, trials, sacrifice, intuition, divination, prophecy.
Reversed: Selfishness, the crowd, body politic.

MATHERS: Self-sacrifice, Sacrifice, Devotion, Bound.
Reversed: Selfishness, Unbound, Partial Sacrifice.

ETTEILLA: PRUDENCE—Discretion, Wisdom, Circumspection, Restrained, Discernment, Foresight, Reserve—Presentiment, Prognostication, Prophet.
Reversed: Nation, Legislator, Body Politic, Population, Generation.


WAITE: End, mortality, destruction, corruption; also for a man, the loss of a benefactor; for a woman, many contrarieties; for a maid, failure of marriage projects.
Reversed: Intertia, sleep, lethargy, petrifaction, somnambulism; hope destroyed.

MATHERS: Change, Transformation, Alteration for the Worse.
Reversed: Death just escaped, Partial change, Alteration for the better.

ETTEILLA: (17)—Mortality, Annihilation, Destruction.—End, Deterioration, Rottenness, Corruption, Putrefaction.
Reversed: Inertia, Sleep, Lethargy, Petrifaction.—Annihilation, Somnambulism.


Temperance from Tarocco PiemonteseWAITE: Economy, moderation, frugality, management, accommodation.
Reversed: Things connected with churches, religions, sects, the priesthood, sometimes even the priest who will marry the Querent; also disunion, unfortunate combinations, competing interests.

MATHERS:Combination, Conformation, Uniting
Reversed: Ill-advised combinations, Disunion, Clashing Interests, etc.

ETTEILLA: (10)—Moderation, Frugality, Chastity, Soothing, Treating Carefully [Management], Compromise.—Respect [Accommodation], Consideration.—Temperature, Climate.
Reversed: Minister, Priesthood, Clergy, Church, Religion, Sect, the querent is under the influence of this virtue.

Illustration (above): La Temperanza [Temperance] from Tarocco Piemontese (after a late nineteenth-century design), published by Dal Negro.


WAITE: Ravage, violence, vehemence, extraordinary efforts, force, fatality; that which is predestined but is not for this reason evil.
Reversed: Evil fatality, weakness, blindness.

MATHERS: Fatality for Good.
Reversed: Fatality for Evil.

ETTEILLA: GREAT FORCE (14)—Great Movement, Vehemence, Extraordinary Effort, Strength, Extraordinary Power, Ability—Capability, Impulse.—Enthusiasm.—Ravage, Violence, Physical Work.
Reversed: Insubstantial, Weakness, Pettiness, Moral or Physical Weakness.


The Tower from Le Tarot DivinatoireWAITE: Misery, distress, indigence, adversity, calamity, disgrace, deception, ruin. It is a card in particular of unforeseen catastrophe.
Reversed: According to one account, the same in a lesser degree; also oppression, imprisonment, tyranny.

MATHERS:THE LIGHTNING-STRUCK TOWER—Ruin, Disruption, Overthrow, Loss, Bankruptcy.
Reversed: These in a more or less partial degree.

ETTEILLA: MISERY (19)—Distress, Indigence, Poverty, Dearth, Need, Destitution, Catastrophe, Adversity, Misfortune, Pain, Torment, Sadness, Affliction, Trouble, Punishment, Thrashing, Chastisement.—Awakening, Disgrace.—Severity, Inflexibility, Harshness.
Reversed: Imprisonment, Detention. Arrest, Captivity, Oppression, Tyranny, Chains, Subjection, Constraint.

Illustration (above): La Maison Dieu (The House of God, corresponds to The Tower) from Le Tarot Divinatoire (1909) by Papus & Goulinat, republished by Dusserre.


WAITE: Loss, theft, privation, abandonment; another reading says—hope and bright prospects.
Reversed: Arrogance, haughtiness, impotence.

MATHERS: Hope, Expectation, Bright promises.
Reversed: Hopes not fulfilled, Expectations disappointed or fulfilled in a minor degree.

ETTEILLA: DESOLATION (4)—Privation, Destitution, Abandonment, Test, Extract, Audit, Sorting Out, Separation, Plundering, Despoilment, Theft, Privation, Loss of Help.
Reversed: Air, Wind, Storm, Atmosphere, Climate, Dryness, Heaven, Stars.—Birds, Subtle, Volatile, Tone.—Mannerism, Affectation, Gait, Appearance, Physiognomy, Resemblance.—Vague and Without Substance.—Arrogance, Haughtiness, Importance, Song, Music, Melody.


The Moon from Antichi Tarocchi LombardiWAITE: Hidden enemies, danger, calumny, darkness, terror, deception, occult forces, error.
Reversed: Instability, inconstancy, silence, lesser degrees of deception and error.

MATHERS: Twightlight, Deception, Error.
Reversed: Fluctuation, Slight Deceptions, Trifling Mistakes.

ETTEILLA: COMMENTS (3)—Symposium, Conversation, Discourse, Discussion, Speak, Prattle, Chat.—Malicious Gossip, Calumny, Decree, Deliberation.—Moon.
Reversed: Fluid Water, Dewy, Rain, Sea, Stream, River, Spring, Torrent, Fountain, Brook, Lake, Swamp, Water Hole, Sheet of Water, Pond.—Humidity, Mist [Vapeur imprégrée], Smoked, Mercury, Waters of Chaos, Philosophic Water.—Odor, Wintry Weather, Snow, Exhalation, Evaporation.—Instability, Fickleness, Silence.—Murmur.—Patience.

Illustration (above): La Luna [The Moon] from Antichi Tarocchi Lombardi di Gumppenberg (c. 1810), republished by Lo Scarabeo.


The Sun from The Rider Tarot DeckWAITE: Material happiness, fortunate marriage, contentment.
Reversed: The same in a lesser sense.

MATHERS: Happiness, Content, Joy.
Reversed: These in a minor degree.

ETTEILLA: ENLIGHTENMENT (2)—Light, Explanation.—Clarity, Glory, Heaven and Earth.—Philosophic Sulfur.
Reversed. Fire.—Heat, Glimmer.—Conflagration.—Flame, Passions.—Meteors; Lightning Flash, Thunderbolt.—Inner, Outer, and Philosophic Fire.

Illustration (above): The Sun, 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: Change of position, renewal, outcome. Another account specifies total loss through lawsuit.
Reversed: Weakness, pusillanimity, simplicity; also deliberation, decision, sentence.

MATHERS: Renewal, Result, Determination of a Matter.
Reversed: Postponement of Result, Delay, Matter reopened later.

ETTEILLA: JUDGMENT (16)—Dedication, Intelligence, Conception, Reason, Correct Opinion, Power of Reasoning, Comparison.—View, Suspicion, Thought.—Strong Belief, Sentiment, Disband [Dissolve].
Reversed: Arrest, Decree, Deliberation, Decision [Outcome], Weak-Mindedness, Pusillanimity.— Naïveté [Simplicity].


The World from the Jeu de la Princesse TarotWAITE: Assured success, recompense, voyage, route, emigration, flight, change of place.
Reversed: Inertia, fixity, stagnation, permanence.

MATHERS: THE UNIVERSE—Completion, Good Reward.
Reversed: Evil Reward, or Recompense.

ETTEILLA: VOYAGE (5)—Route, Walk, Gait, Change of Place, Peregrination, Visit, Flight [Race], Foray, Emigration, Transmigration.—Judge.—Collapse, Rotation, Circulation.—Disorient, Disconcert.
Reversed: Earth, Matter, Mud, Sludge, Silt.—Prima Materia, Sulfur and Mercury, Salt of the Sages, Coldness, Dense.—Gnomic, World, Terrestrial Globe, State, Kingdom, Empire.—Terrain, Territory, Possessions, Rural Properties.—Presence, Permanence, Fixitity, Stagnation.—Inertia.—Animals, Beast.—Sepulcher, Tomb—Ash, Powder, Dust.—Philosophic Salt.

Illustration (above): Félicité [Joy, corresponds to the World] from Jeu de la Princesse Tarot (c. 1876), republished by Dusserre.

WAITE: [No corresponding card exists for purposes of comparing divinatory meanings with the following from Etteilla.]

MATHERS: [No corresponding card exists for purposes of comparing divinatory meanings with the following from Etteilla.]

ETTEILLA: THE MALE QUERENT [CONSULTANT] (1)—God, Supreme Being; Central Spirit, Chaos.—Meditation, Reflection, Mental Process.
Reversed: The Universe.—Physical Man or The Male.  The Male Querent.


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).