Use of Images from the Tarot Deck in The Waste Land Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein   On the following page are five cards from what is known as the Rider Tarot deck, created early in the 20th century by A.E. Waite and Pamela Colman Smith. This is the deck Eliot would most likely have been aware of. Among the cards he mentions are The Hanged Man, the Wheel, the Man with Three Staves, the One-Eyed Merchant, and "death by water." The card of the "Hanged Man," though suggestive of Christ and the crucifixion, is actually a mostly fortuitous card, representing wisdom, circumspection, discernment, intuition, divination, and prophecy, as well as sacrifice and trials. Eliot seems to have chosen it for its obvious associations with the Norse god Odin, who sacrificed an eye and allowed himself to be hanged on a tree for three days in order to attain the gift of prophecy. The figure hangs on a Tao, a symbol more ancient than the cross; his crossed leg suggests the numeral 4, a number which signifies the building of a new structure. At the moment, he is upside down, being forced to look at things from a new perspective. Eliot may be saying that at the moment our fate "hangs in the balance." The "Wheel of Fortune" is also a positive card, suggesting destiny, fortune, success, luck, and happiness. Of course, what goes up must come down, so the wheel keeps turning, turning, turning . . . The "Man with Three Staves" is obviously the three of wands. The card symbolizes strength, enterprise, effort, trade, commerce, discovery, and the end of troubles. Wands is the suit of spirituality, and of a career in alignment with one’s spiritual purpose for being on the planet. The "One-Eyed Merchant" may be the six of pentacles. The suit of pentacles represents money, or the material by which we sustain ourselves on the third dimension. The only figure in the suit of pentacles, or indeed in the entire deck, which might be considered one-eyed (or with only one eye showing) is this figure dispensing coins to the poor. The divinitory meaning of the card is that all good gifts are coming, and now is the time for prosperity. But the suggestion of a "one-eyed figure" is a parallel again with Odin, and his sacrifice of an eye in order to have spiritual vision. The only card likely to suggest "death by water" is the card on which a ferryman plows the water with two passengers . . . and six swords. However, this card also has positive divinitory meanings, such as taking a water voyage or receiving a marriage proposal. Eliot, of course, wants to suggest that water by itself, without a spiritual regeneration, is a futile symbol, and leads to death rather than resurrection and life unless there is some kind of spiritual shift in consciousness. Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily