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




Ten of Wands from The Rider Tarot DeckWAITE: A card of many significances, and some of the readings cannot be harmonized. I set aside that which connects it with honour and good faith. The chief meaning is oppression simply, but it is also fortune, gain, any kind of success, and then it is the oppression of these things. It is also a card of false-seeming, disguise, perfidy. The place which the figure is approaching [see Illustration, left] may suffer from the rods that he carries. Success is stultified if the Nine of Swords follows, and if it is a question of a lawsuit, there will be certain loss. Additional meanings: Difficulties and contradictions, if near a good card.
Reversed: Contrarieties, difficulties, intrigues, and the analogies.

MATHERS: Confidence, Security, Honor, Good Faith.
Reversed: Treachery, Subterfuge, Duplicity, Bar.

ETTEILLA: Treason, Perfidy, Trickery, Deception, Cunning, Surprise, Disguise, Dissimulation, Hypocrisy, Prevarication, Duplicity, Disloyalty, Evil Deeds, Deceitfulness, Subterfuge, Conspiracy.—Impostor.
Reversed: Obstacle, Attentiveness.—Bar, Hindrance, Vexations [Contrarities], Difficulties, Pain, Toil.—Inconvenience, Abjectness, Quibble, Complaint, Stumbling Block, Fence, Entrenchment, Redoubt, Fortification.

llustration (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.


Nine of Wands from The Rider Tarot DeckWAITE: The card signifies strength in opposition. If attacked, the person will meet an onslaught boldly; and his build shews that he may prove a formidable antagonist [see illustration, right]. With this main significance there are all its possible adjuncts—delay, suspension, adjournment. Additional meanings: Generally speaking, a bad card.
Reversed: Obstacles, adversity, calamity.

MATHERS: Order, Discipline, Good Arrangement, Disposition.
Reversed: Obstacles, Crosses, Delay, Displeasure.

ETTEILLA: Delay, Waiting Time, Distance, Adjournment, Deferral, Suspension, Extension, Slowness, Slowing Down.
Reversed: Crossing, Obstacle, Difficulties, Vexation [Displeasure], Disadvantage, Adversity, Pain, Bad Luck, Misfortunes, Calamity.

llustration (above): Nine of Wands, 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: Activity in undertakings, the path of such activity, swiftness as that of an express messenger; great haste, great hope, speed towards an end which promises assured felicity; generally, that which is on the move; also the arrows of love. Additional meanings: Domestic disputes for a married person.
Reversed: Arrows of jealousy, internal dispute, stingings of conscience, quarrels; and domestic disputes for persons who are married.

MATHERS: Understanding, Observation, Direction.
Reversed: Quarrels, Intestine [Internal?] disputes, Discord.

ETTEILLA: Countryside, Field, Plain, Agriculture, Cultivation, Plowing, Landed Property, Real Estate, Solid, Farm, Garden, Orchard, Meadow, Woods, Grove, Foliage, Pleasure, Divertissement, Amusement, Pastime, Relaxation, Festivities, Peace, Calm, Tranquility, Innocence, Country Living.—Forest, Small Valley, Mountain, War Camp.
Reversed: Domestic Dispute, Examination, Reasoning, Discord [Quarrel].—Regrets, Remorse, Repent, Internal Trouble, Indecision, Uncertainty, Inconceivable, Incomprehensible, Doubt, Scruple, Troubled Conscience.


Seven of Wands from The Rider Tarot DeckWAITE: It is a card of valour, for, on the surface, six are attacking one, who has however, the vantage of position [see illustration, left]. On the intellectual plane, it signifies discussion, wordy strife; in business—negotiations, war of trade, barter, competition. It is further a card of success, for the combatant is on the top and his enemies may be unable to reach him. Additional Meanings: A dark child.
Reversed: Perplexity, embarrassments, anxiety. It is also a caution against indecision.

MATHERS: Success, Gain, Advantage, Profit, Victory.
Reversed: Indecision, Doubt, Hesitation, Embarrassment, Anxiety.

ETTEILLA: Discussion, Interview, Conference, Symposium, Conversation, Dissertation, Deliberation, Talk.—Word, Pronunciation, Language, Idiom, Dialect, Negotiation, Purchase, Barter, Evaluation, Commerce, Trade, Correspondence.—Speak, Say, Utter, Confer, Chatter, Chat, Share, Prattle, Converse.
Reversed: Indecision, Indecisiveness, Uncertainty, Perplexity, Fickleness, Flightiness, Variation, Variety, Diversity, Hesitate, Hesitation.—Waver, Vacillate, Changeability.

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


Six of Wands from The Rider Tarot DeckWAITE: The card has been so designed that it can cover several significations [see illustration, left]; on the surface, it is a victor triumphing, but it is also great news, such as might be carried in state by the King’s courier; it is expectation crowned with its own desire, the crown of hope, and so forth. Additional meanings: Servants may lose the confidence of their masters; a young lady may be betrayed by a friend.
Reversed: Apprehension, fear, as of a victorious enemy at the gate; treachery, disloyalty, as of gates being opened to the enemy; also indefinite delay. Additional meanings: Fulfillment of deferred hope.

MATHERS: Attempt, Hope, Desire, Wish, Expectation.
Reversed: Infidelity, Treachery, Disloyalty, Perfidy.

ETTEILLA: Domestic Worker, Servant, Valet, Lackey, Maid, Mercenary, Subordinate, Slave.—Courier, Messenger, Domestic Help.—Interior of a House, Housekeeping, Family, All Domestic Servants.
Reversed: Waiting, Expectation, Hope [Desire], Believe Deep Down, Base Yourself On, Trust, Promise Yourself.—Confidence, Foresight.—Fear, Apprehension.

llustration (above): Six of Wands, 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: Imitation, as, for example, sham fight, but also the strenuous competition and struggle of the search after riches and fortune. In this sense it connects with the battle of life. Hence some attributions say that it is a card of gold, gain, opulence. Additional Meanings: Success in financial speculation.
Reversed: Litigation, disputes, trickery, contradiction. Additional Meanings: Quarrels may be turned to advantage.

MATHERS: Gold, Opulence, Gain, Heritage, Riches, Fortune, Money.
Reversed: Legal proceedings, Judgment, Law, Lawyer, Tribunal.

ETTEILLA: Gold, Riches, Opulence, Splendor, Sumptuousness, Brilliance, Luxury, Abundance, Fortune.—Physical, Philosophical, and Moral Sun.
Reversed: Legal Proceeding, Lawsuit, Disagreements, Discussions, Disputes, Fights, Litigation, Pre-Trial Investigation, Judicial Proceeding.—Annoyances, Conversation, Squabble, Harassment.—Contradiction, Inconsistency.


Four of Wands from The Rider Tarot DeckWAITE: They [the divinatory meanings] are for once almost on the surface [see illustration, right]—country life, haven of refuge, a species of domestic harvest-home, repose, concord, harmony, prosperity, peace, and the perfected work of these. Additional Meanings: Unexpected good fortune.
Reversed: The meaning remains unaltered; it is prosperity, increase, felicity, beauty, embellishment. Additional Meanings: A married woman will have beautiful children.

MATHERS: Society, Union, Association, Concord, Harmony.
Reversed: Prosperity, Success, Happiness, Advantage.

ETTEILLA: Society, Association, Assembly, Connection, Federation, Union, Assembling, Reunion, Circle, Community, Gathering, The Masses, Crowd, Throng, Group, Band, Company, Cohort, Army.—Convening, Accompaniment, Blending, Mixing, Alloy, Mixture.—Contract, Convention, Pact, Treaty.
Reversed: Prosperity, Increase, Growth, Advancement, Success, Attainment, Happiness, Flourishing, Felicity.—Beauty, Embellishment.

llustration (above): Four of Wands, 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: He symbolizes established strength, enterprise, effort, trade, commerce, discovery [see illustration, left]; those are his ships, bearing his merchandise, which are sailing over the sea. The card also signifies able co-operation in business, as if the successful merchant prince were looking from his side towards yours with the view to help you. Additional Meanings: A very good card; collaboration will favour enterprise.
Reversed: The end of troubles, suspension or cessation of adversity, toil and disappointment.

MATHERS: Enterprise, Undertaking, Commerce, Trade, Negotiation.Reversed: Hope, Desire, Attempt, Wish.

ETTEILLA: Enterprise, Begin, Start.—Usurp, Seize.—Daring, Brashness, Boldness.—Carelessness, Adventurous, Audacious, Temerity, Bold.—Undertaking, Muddled.—Disconcerted.—Paralyzed, Effort, Test, Temptation.
Reserved: Interruption in: Misfortunes, Troubles, Pain, and Toil.—End, Cessation, Discontinuation, Respite, Rest, Influence, Intermediary, Intermittency.

llustration (above): Three of Wands, 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.


Two of Wands from The Rider Tarot DeckWAITE: Between the alternative readings there is no marriage possible; on the one hand, riches, fortune, magnificence; on the other, physical suffering, disease, chagrin, sadness, mortification. The design [see illustration, right] gives one suggestion; here is a lord overlooking his dominion and alternately contemplating a globe; it looks like the malady, the mortification, the sadness of Alexander amidst the grandeur of this world’s wealth. Additional Meanings: A young lady may expect trivial disappointments.
Reversed: Surprise, wonder, enchantment, emotion, trouble, fear.

MATHERS: Riches, Fortune, Opulence, Magnificence, Grandeur.
Reversed: Surprise, Astonishment, Event, Extraordinary Occurrence.

ETTEILLA: Chagrin, Sadness, Melancholy, Affliction, Displeasure, Distress, Grief, Mortification, Ill Humor, Quarrel, Disease, Gloomy Ideas.—Harshness, Anger, Vexation.
Reversed: Surprise, Enchantment, Shock, Trouble, Unforeseen Event, Unexpected Occurrence, Fright, Emotion, Fear, Dread, Terror.—Dismay, Astonishment, Domination, Ravishing, Alarms.—Wonder, Phenomenon [Event], Miracle.

llustration (above): Two of Wands, 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: Creation, invention, enterprise, the powers which result in these; principle, beginning, source; birth, family, origin, and in a sense the virility which is behind them; the starting point of enterprises; according to another account, money, fortune, inheritance. Additional Meanings: Calamities of all kinds.
Reversed: Fall, decadence, ruin, perdition, to perish; also a certain clouded joy. Additional Meanings: A sign of birth.

MATHERS: Birth, Commencement, Beginning, Origin, Source.
Reversed: Persecution, Pursuit, Violence, Vexation, Cruelty, Tyranny.

ETTEILLA: Birth, Beginning.—Nativity, Origin, Creation.—Source, Principle, Primacy, New.—Extraction, Race, Family, Station [in Life], House, Lineage, Posterity, Circumstance, Cause, Reason, First, First Fruits.
Reversed. Fall, Cascade, Decadence, Decline, Wasting Away, Weakening, Dissipation, Collapse, Bankruptcy, Ruin, Destruction, Pulling Down, Damage, Devastation.—Mistake, Error, Misunderstanding, Despondency, Exhaustion, Discouragement.—Perdition, Abyss, Chasm, Precipice.—Perish, Descend, Wane, Demean Yourself.—Depths.


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).