by Arthur Edward Waite, originally published 1910.
A winged angel, with the sign of the sun upon his forehead and on his breast the square and triangle of the septenary. I speak of him in the masculine sense, but the figure is neither male nor female. It is held to be pouring the essences of life from chalice to chalice. It has one foot upon the earth and one upon waters, thus illustrating the nature of the essences. A direct path goes up to certain heights on the verge of the horizon, and above there is a great light, through which a crown is seen vaguely. Hereof is some part of the Secret of Eternal Life, as it is possible to man in his incarnation. All the conventional emblems are renounced herein.
So also are the conventional meanings, which refer to changes in the seasons, perpetual movement of life and even the combination of ideas. It is, moreover, untrue to say that the figure symbolizes the genius of the sun, though it is the analogy of solar light, realized in the third part of our human triplicity. It is called Temperance fantastically, because, when the rule of it obtains in our consciousness, it tempers, combines and harmonises the psychic and material natures. Under that rule we know in our rational part something of whence we came and whither we are going.
by S. L. MacGregor Mathers, originally published 1888.
Combination, Conformation, Uniting.
Ill-advised combinations, Disunion, Clashing interests, &c.
by A. E. Thierens, originally published 1930.
“… the Genius of the Sun holding two cups and pouring from the one into the other the liquor which holds life.” (P.)—” A winged angel with the sign of the sun upon his forehead … pouring the essences of life from chalice to chalice.” (W.) Another version has: “… pours the fluid of Life from a golden vase into a silver one.” (P.) This is evidently the cosmic function next to the Sun, messenger of the same: Mercury or Vulcan, lord of the sphere of Virgo, surrounding the solar Leo-sphere. Other traditional descriptions confirm this: “It is the symbol of combinations, working incessantly in all regions of Nature.” (P.) On his breast this angel bears a square with inscribed triangle, reminding us of the passage of the cosmological Stanzas of Dzyan, “The Three fall into the Four,” which means the beginning of Manifestation. “Entry of Spirit into Matter and reaction of Matter upon Spirit.” (P.) So on the subject of this card there seems to be perfect understanding. “Incarnation of Life,” P. adds. This is Mercury, who has to do with the distribution of life-currents from the Sun farther on into the solar-system and from the heart and solar-plexus farther on into our physical body. The golden vase and the silver one illustrate this distribution from higher to lower regions.