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




Ten of Swords from The Rider Tarot DeckWAITE: Whatsoever is intimated by the design [see illustration, left]; also pain, affliction, tears, sadness, desolation. It is not especially a card of violent death. Additional Meanings: Followed by Ace and King, imprisonment; for girl or wife, treason on the part of friends.
Reversed: Advantage, profit, success, favour, but none of these are permanent; also power and authority. Additional Meanings: Victory and consequent fortune for a soldier in war.

MATHERS: Tears, Affliction, Grief, Sorrow.
Reversed: Passing Success, Momentary Advantage.

ETTEILLA: Affliction, Tears, Crying, Sobs, Groans, Sighs, Moans, Lamentations, Complaints, Ailments, Grief, Sadness, Distress, Jeremiad, Lay [Poetry], Desolation.
Reversed: Advantage, Gain, Profit, Success.—Favor, Gift, Kind Deed, Influence, Ability, Empire, Authority, Power, Usurpation.

Illustration (above): Ten of Swords, 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: Death, failure, miscarriage, delay, deception, disappointment, despair. Additional meanings: An ecclesiastic, a priest; generally, a card of bad omen.
Reversed: Imprisonment, suspicion, doubt, reasonable fear, shame. Additional Meanings: Good ground for suspicion against a doubtful person.

MATHERS: An Ecclesiastic, A Priest, Conscience, Probity, Good Faith, Integrity.
Reversed: Wise distrust, Suspicion, Fear, Doubt, Shady character.

ETTEILLA: Unmarried Person, Virginity, Abbott, Priest, Monk, Hermit, Religious Person, Temple, Church, Monastery, Convent, Hermitage, Sanctuary.—Cult, Religion, Piety, Devotion, Rite, Ceremony, Ritual.—Cloistered Person, Anchorite, Vestal Virgin.
Reversed: Justified Mistrust, Justified Suspicion, Reasonable Fear, Misgiving, Doubt, Conjecture.—Scruple, Troubled Conscience, Innocent, Timidity, Propriety.— Disgrace, Shame.


WAITE: Bad news, violent chagrin, crisis, censure, power in trammels, conflict, calumny, also sickness. Additional Meanings: For a woman, scandal spread in her respect.
Reversed: Disquiet, difficulty, opposition, accident, treachery; what is unforeseen; fatality. Additional Meanings: Departure of a relative.

MATHERS: Sickness, Calumny, Criticism, Blame.
Reversed: Treachery in the Past, Event, Accident, Remarkable Incident.

ETTEILLA: Criticism, Regrettable Situation, Critical Moment, Critical Time, Decisive Moment, Unfortunate Situation, Delicate Circumstance, Crisis.—Examination, Discussion, Investigations, Blame, Censure, Commentary, Conclusion, Monitoring, Disapproval, Condemnation, Abrogation, Judgment, Contempt.
Reversed: Incident, Difficulty, Exceptional Situation, Conjunction, Event, Accessory, Unconscious, Obstacle, Delay, Waiting.—Abjection.—Dispute, Contradiction, Opposition, Resistance, Squabble.—Unexpected, Unforeseen, Fortunate Occurrence, Destiny, Fate, Accidents, Misfortunes, Disgrace, Unfortunate, Symptom.


Seven of Swords from Jeu de la Princesse TarotWAITE: Design, attempt, wish, hope, confidence; also quarrelling, a plan that may fail, annoyance. The design is uncertain in its import, because the significations are widely at variance with each other.  Additional meanings: Dark girl; a good card; it promises a country life after a competence has been secured.
Reversed: Good advice, counsel, instruction, slander, babbling.  Additional Meanings: Good advice, probably neglected.

MATHERS: Hope, Confidence, Desire, Attempt, Wish.
Reversed: Wise Advice, Good Counsel, Wisdom, Prudence, Circumspection.

ETTEILLA: Hope, Expectation, Expect, Want, Promise Yourself, Brag, Essence, Design, Will, Desire, Wish, Longing, Craving, Liking, Fantasy.
Reversed. Sage Advise, Good Counsel, Useful Warning, Instruction, Lesson.—Observation, Reflection, Remark, Catching Sight Of, Thought.—Reprimand, Slander.—News, Announcement, Public Notice.—Consultation, Admonishment.

Illustration (above): Seven of Swords from Jeu de la Princesse Tarot (c. 1876), republished by Dusserre. Click the image for a larger one.


WAITE: Journey by water, route, way, enjoy, commissionary, expedient. Additional Meanings: The voyage will be pleasant.
Reversed: Declaration, confession, publicity; one account says that it is a proposal of love. Additional Meanings: Unfavourable issue of lawsuit.

MATHERS: Envoy, Messenger, Voyage, Travel
Reversed: Declaration, Love proposed, Revelation, Surprise.

ETTEILLA: Road, Path, Lane, Walk, Passage, Footpath, Route—Walking, Trafficking, Canvassing, Thoughtfulness [the text reads: Prévenance; but if Provenance is meant, then the translation is: Provenance], Driving, Means, Manner, Way, Expedient, Voyage, Course, Stroll, Pattern, Tracks, Trace, Envoy, Commissionaire [Messenger].
Reversed: Declaration, Declaratory Act, Exposition, Discussion, Interpretation.—Charter, Constitution, Diploma, Manifest Law, Ordinance.—Publication, Proclamation, Conspicuousness, Public Notice, Publicity, Authenticity, Fame.—Denunciation, Counting.—Enumeration.—Knowledge, Discovery, Exposure, Vision, Revelation, Apparition, Appearance, Admission, Confession, Protestation, Approval, Authorization.


WAITE: Degradation, destruction, revocation, infamy, dishonour, loss, with the variants and analogues of these. Additional Meanings: An attack on the fortune of the Querent.
Reversed: The same; burial and obsequies. Reversed: A sign of sorrow and mourning.

MATHERS: Mourning, Sadness, Affliction.
Reversed: Losses, Trouble (same signification, whether reversed or not).

ETTEILLA: Loss, Falsification, Waste, Degradation, Detriment, Decline, Destruction, Deterioration, Deprivation, Reduction, Injuries, Defeats, Prejudice, Wrong, Defect, Fault, Miserliness, Decline in Business, Damages, Disadvantage, Devastation, Squandering, Dissipation, Misfortune, Afflictions, Setback, Reversals of Fortune, Ruin, Downfall, Rout.—Debauchery, Disgrace, Defamation, Dishonor, Vile Abuse, Infamy, Affront, Meanness, Deformity, Humiliation.— Theft, Robbery, Abduction, Plagiarism, Kidnapping, Hideous, Horrible.—Opprobrium, Corruption, Dissoluteness, Seduction, Licentiousness.
Reversed: Mourning, Despondency, Ailment, Grief, Distress, Mental Suffering, Funeral Rites, Interment, Obsequies, Funerals, Inhumation, Sepulcher.


Four of Swords from The Rider Tarot DeckWAITE: Vigilance, retreat, solitude, hermit’s repose, exile, tomb and coffin. It is these last that have suggested the design [see illustration, right]. Additional Meanings: A bad card, but if reversed a qualified success may be expected by wise administration of affairs.
Reversed: Wise administration, circumspection, economy, avarice, precaution, testament. Additional Meanings: A certain success following wise administration.

MATHERS: Solitude, Retreat, Abandonment, Solitary, Hermit.
Reversed: Economy, Precaution, Regulation of Expenditure.

ETTEILLA: Solitude, Desert, Retreat, Hermitage.—Exile, Banishment, Ostracism.—Uninhabited, Remote, Abandoned, Given Up.—Tomb, Sepulcher, Coffin.
Reversed: Economy, Good Management, Wise Administration.—Foresight, Direction, Household Management, Savings, Avarice.—Order, Arrangement, Relationship, Agreement, Concord, Accord, Concordance, Harmony, Music, Disposal.—Testament, Reserve, Limitation, Exception.—Circumspection, Constituency, Discreet, Wisdom, Sympathy, Care, Precaution.

Illustration (above): Four of Swords, 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.


Three of Swords from The Rider Tarot DeckWAITE: Removal, absence, delay, division, rupture, dispersion, and all that the design signifies [see illustration, left] naturally, being too simple and obvious to call for specific enumeration. Additional Meanings: For a woman, the flight of her lover.
Reversed: Mental alienation, error, loss, distraction, disorder, confusion. Additional Meanings: A meeting with one whom the Querent has compromised; also a nun.

MATHERS: Nun, Separation, Removal, Rupture, Quarrel.
Reversed: Error, Confusion, Misrule, Disorder.

ETTEILLA: Estrangement [Removal], Departure, Absence, Gap, Dispersion, Remote, Delay.—Scorn, Repugnance, Aversion, Hate, Disgust, Horror.—Incompatibility, Annoyance, Opposition, Unsociableness, Misanthropy, Rudeness.—Separation, Division, Rupture, Antipathy, Part, Cut.
Reversed: Distraction, Insanity, Delerium, Mental Alienation [Derangement], Absent-Mindedness, Crazy Behavior.—Error, Miscalculation, Loss, Detour, Gap, Dispersion.

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


WAITE: Conformity, and the equipoise which it suggests, courage, friendship, concord in a state of arms; another reading gives tenderness, affection, intimacy. The suggestion of harmony and other favourable readings must be considered in a qualified manner, as Swords generally are not symbolical of beneficent force in human affairs. Additional Meanings: Gifts for a lady, influential protection for a man in search of help.
Reversed: Imposture, falsehood, duplicity, disloyalty. Additional Meanings: Dealings with rogues.

MATHERS: Friendship, Valor, Firmness, Courage.
Reversed: False Friends, Treachery, Lies.

ETTEILLA: Friendship, Attachment, Affection, Tenderness, Kindness, Connection, Relationship, Similarity, Intimacy, Concord, Association, Interest, Conformity, Sympathy, Affinity, Attraction.
Reversed: False, Falsehood, Lying, Imposture, Duplicity, Bad Faith, Roguery, Trickery, Treachery, Deception, Superficial, Superficiality, Surface.


Ace of Swords from The Rider Tarot DeckWAITE: Triumph, the excessive degree in everything, conquest, triumph of force. It is a card of great force, in love as well as in hatred. The crown [see illustration, left] may carry a much higher significance than comes usually within the sphere of fortune-telling. Additional Meanings: Great prosperity or great misery.
Reversed: The same, but the results are disastrous; another account says—conception, childbirth, augmentation, multiplicity. Additional Meanings: Marriage broken off, for a woman, through her own imprudence.

MATHERS: Triumph, Fecundity, Fertility, Prosperity.
Reversed: Embarrassment, Foolish and Hopeless Love, Obstacle, Hindrance.

ETTEILLA: Fructification, Extreme, Big, Excessive.—Extravagant, Fierce, Carried Away.—Exceedingly, Passionately, Inordinately.—Vehemence, Animosity, Momentum, Excessiveness, Wrath, Fury, Rage.—Extremity, Bounds, Border, Limits.—Last Breath, Utmost Extremity.—Quarrel.
Reversed: Pregnancy, Beginning, Seed, Sperm, Matter, Impregnating, Fathering, Conception, Fructification, Labor, Childbirth.—Fertilization, Growing, Formation.—Expansion, Augmentation, Multiplicity.

Illustration (above): Ace of Swords, 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.


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

Green indicates passages from Waite which did not parallel those of Etteilla but did 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).