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ATS Newsletters

by author


The Boiardo 15th c Poem
Tarot history in brief

quotations from various people

Functions of Readings
What is Tarot?


Med. on XVIIII

Emily E. Auger

Tarot and Other Meditation Decks

L. Atkinson

Orphalese Software review

S. Arwen

Memory & Instinct

Kathy Berkowitz

Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 1)
Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 2)
Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 3)
Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 4)

Nina L. Braden

Tarot in Literature

David Brice

Birth of Tarot

Colin Browne

Square & Compasses Tarot

Lee A. Bursten

Journeys in Tarot Creation
Vachetta review


Review: The Lo Scarabeo Story

Ross G. Caldwell

Tarot History

Bonnie Cehovet

Tarology - Poetics of Tarot
Review: Secret of Tarot
The Mystereum Tarot

N. Chishty-Mujahid

Concerning Ghisi’s Laberinto

Craig Conley

A House of Tarot Cards

A.B. Crowther

Rachel Pollack interview

Jean-Michel David

On Paneurythmy and Tarot
Tarot's expression of the numinous
Yarker, Tarot & Arcane Schools
Waite-Smith Sun card
The Fool as Wandering Jew
Tarot as Christian Art
Education through Tarot
Tarot: the vatical & the sacral
Fortuna, Ass & Monkey
Steiner and Tarot
1701 Dodal restored!
Enc. Tarot vol I-IV: review
Christ, World & Sin
Caveat Emptor:
       Visual Tarot

Tarot & AlefBeit
Review: Jean Payen Tarot
Tarot and Freemasonry
I-Ching and Pip Cards
Whither directing your course?
Tarot & the Tree of Life
Ovid, Egypt and Tarot
When the Devil isn't the Devil
Four elements and the suits
Court Cards & MBTI
Certification & Codes
Jean Dodal Marseille
Conference FAQs
Golden Dawn
Kabalah & Tarot
Golden Tarot review
Annual spread
Iraqi Museum
Two Brief TdM reviews
Meditations on the Tarot

Enrique Enriquez

The Joy of Wordplay
J-C. Flornoy interview
Embodied Tarot
Indirect Suggestions
Whispering to the Eye

Mark Filipas

History of Egyptian Decks
Lexicon Theory

Jean-Claude Flornoy

in memorium
from Oral Tradition

Roxanne Flornoy

Children and Tarot
from Oral Tradition

Mary Greer

Killing the Thoth Deck
On the Tarot of the Four Worlds
Egypt, Tarot and Mystery School Initiations

William Haigwood

The Sixties: Counterculture Tarot

Alissa Hall

Parlour Tricks

Kris Hadar

The Tarot

Claas Hoffmann

Crowley-Harris 'Thoth' deck

Michael J. Hurst

Tarot Symbolism review

K. Frank Jensen

Century with the Waite-Smith

Shane Kendal

A Poetry of Tarot

Ken J. Killeen

The Metaphysical Bible

Barbara Klaser

Language of Tarot

E. Koretaka

Cardinal Virtues

Dovid Krafchow

Kabbalistic Tarot

Lisa Larson

Perceptions of Spirituality

Suzan E. Lemont

Therapeutic Tarot Work

Eric K. Lerner

Diloggun and Tarot

N. Levine

Tarot of Prague review

C. Liknaitzky

Journey in Ceramics

Joep van Loon

Tarot Wheel

Karen Mahony


S.J. Mangan

Fool, Alef & Orion

Robert Mealing

Petrarch’s Triumphs
Jean Noblet Tarot
Hunting the "true" Marseille Tarot
Cary Sheet

Fern Mercier

Playing the Fool

C. de Mellet

Inquiries into Tarot

Sophie Nusslé

Fantastic Menagerie

Robert V. O'Neill

Tarot Symbolism
Tower Iconology

Michael Owen

Xultun Tarot

Dan Pelletier

Magic Manga Tarot
the Blank Spot

Robert M. Place

The Fool's Journey

Debra Rosenthal

Looking at the Jacques Vieville

Mjr Tom Schick

Tarot Lovers Calendar

Inna Semetsky

Counseling Reading for Spouses
Learning the language of images
Re-Symbolization of Self
Tarot (dis)contents

Diana Sobolewska

'Bateleur's tale'

Russell Sturgess

Jesus's New Testament

N. Swift

Sufism & Tarot

Arthur E. Waite

Symbols of Tarot

Waite-Smith Sun card ‘extra’ squiggly line

by Jean-Michel David

A number of years ago (in September 2006), I started a discussion thread on Aeclectic’s TarotForum with regards a peculiarity of the Sun card on the Waite-Smith deck. At that stage, the discussion did not go very far, yet it remains a detail that has yet to be explained.


images from the 1909 and 1910 publications


As I mentioned at the time, Frank Jensen, in his book Story of the Waite-Smith deck, shows two early images (page 121) from different publications of the Sun card in outline (no colour), depicting, I suggested, different levels of accuracy of Pamela Colman Smith’s actual picture.


I still consider that the most likely explanation for the ‘squiggly’ line adjacent the numeral is that Pamela used the additive form of the Roman numeral (XVIIII) – as seems apparent from the earliest publication – and that this was later changed to its subtractive form (XIX). The original (XVIIII), if I am correct, would likely have been misread as an ‘error’ by the publisher (who may not even have been aware of the additive convention), and was thus quickly ‘fixed’ by scratching off the fourth ‘I’, rendering it the whole as ‘XVIII’ as well as adding a meaningless ‘squiggly’ line adjacent the number. This line was to be subsequently retained in (most) card imprints and somehow considered part of the original drawing – even after the numeral form was changed to ‘XIX’.


image from 1909 in Occult Review


Such error, incidentally, is not unique: a similar error of numeration occurs in a reproduction of the Hermit and of Temperance in de Gebelin – thereby rendering both Justice and the Hermit as ‘VIII’; and both Death and Temperance as ‘XIII’ (interestingly, de Gebelin uses the subtractive ‘XIX’ for the Sun).


images from de Gebelin


As can be seen above in the first set of images (of the Waite-Smith at the beginning of this article), the earliest publication (in Occult Review from 1909) clearly had intended the additive form (unless, of course, this is to be read as an ‘error’ by Pamela, which I personally doubt). By the time of Waite’s 1910-1911 Pictorial Key to the Tarot, the additive had already been altered.


images from the Pam-A, Pam-C and Pam-D decks


It would be wonderful to find copies of the original plates or drawings made by Pamela – this remains, however, highly unlikely. As a consequence, it seems that later imprints of the deck (even the earliest ones, except for the Pam-B imprint – as shown below), have retained that un-natural and pictorially inconsistent addition of the squiggly line.


image from the Pam-B decks

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