Apas is fourth in the order of five Tattvas, but the third emanation or derivative to evolve from Akasha after Vayu and Tejas. It is equivalent to the Alchemical Water in western occultism. Its symbol is commonly viewed as a white crescent bowl with the horns upward, suggesting its receptive quality, though it is sometimes more accurately represented in the color silver. Even more rare, some Asian texts illustrate Apas in the color violet. White is attributed to Kether on the Qabalistic Tree. The spheres are painted in the ‘Queen Scale’ colors, the scale commonly used for the Sephiroth when the Tree is presented in extant texts. White was not arbitrarily chosen as the color of Apas. The white of Kether and Apas suggests these to be one. The white crescent design for water hints this element has wavelike motion and other properties seemingly like the wet water of the physical plane. In no way is it to be understood as the H2O of physical chemistry. Alchemical Water does behave in a similar fashion. However, it is more accurate to say that what we know as common water of our physical world actually behaves like its metaphysical root. Universal Water was first, before any physical manifestation in this world or any other physical world.
The First Matter does hold all other things in suspension or solution. It does flow as currents, rivers and streams, and even forms whirlpools, but all true alchemists attest their alchemical water to be "water that wets not the hands." It is neither steam nor distilled water nor ‘heavy water’ or any other label one can apply to what we recognize as water in this material plane. It is AIN SUPh AUR of which Kether, Chokmah, and Binah are modes. Kether is Intelligence, a super-consciousness of itself, while Binah is the matter-substance, a subconscious essence of its own nature. AIN SUPh AUR in Kether emits itself in waves, like ‘scintillating water’. So Apas sometimes is shown white to identify it with Kether, and silver to equate it with Universal Mercury, the Prima Materia of the universe that ‘glitters’ and ‘sparkles’ awareness because of the electro-magnetic radiant life-energy and super-sentience within it. Yet is it represented as a crescent in this mode to hint its fluid constitution. The lunar crescent shape infers wavy fluidity, motion and reflected light, as subconsciousness does. Both have always been referred to as 'water.'
There are dozens of Tarot packs on the market today, all quite adequate as mere fortune telling cards. Even a common poker-deck will suffice to that end. Certain older Tarot packs still contain sparks of esoteric knowledge, like some French and Italian packs if one can read through the deliberate blinds set therein from those times. At least two old standbys commonly seen everywhere retain elements of genuine, legible wisdom. With regard Apas Tattva, the A.E.Waite/Smith or Waite/Albano packs show the silver crescent placed at the foot of the High Priestess. This is a perfectly accurate position since the Tattva is symbolic of the water element and subconsciousness, personified by the High Priestess. The High Priestess is the mode of subconsciousness that holds all the things of creation in solution on the macrocosmic scale, and all things in memory on the microcosmic (human) level. She is the storage house of all past forms, and the potential of all forms to manifest hence. This is not unlike what Apas partially represents.
For the discerning, however, the detail suggests a new meaning in the B.O.T.A. Tarot version. In this pack a silver Apas lies under the foot of the Empress. Since High Priestess and Empress are feminine, both may be understood as some function of subconsciousness. The Empress is that aspect of the subconscious attributed to imagination, the 'Luminous Intelligence.' So in the B.O.T.A. version, it is the Empress who has one foot on Apas Tattva. This hints imagination, not memory, as having the foothold or directive power over Universal Water. Prima Materia, the Universal Water symbolized by Apas, will attach itself to matrices formed by imagination. Subconsciousness is the root of all form substance, but it is through the function of imagination that The Matter is directed into specific form and manifestation. We do this all the time. Who can deny that we are presently living previous imagery, for better or for worse, but the images take some time to work down through the planes toward manifestation. A True Alchemist, Adept or Yogi, through Art, enjoys instantaneous manifestation of imagery with immediate healing, turning water into wine instantly, or multiplying loaves and fishes. Masters need no magical pebble in the hand or some powder in a vile. They are the Stone.
The subtle principle of sensation assigned to Apas is taste. When enlightenment comes, it is felt by the happy recipient through all the levels of being. One of the effects is a salty, metallic taste. Would this not be equivalent to the taste of a watery mineral? Qabalists and Yogis assign the musical note A-Sharp to Apas Tattva, which heightens taste sensations after mantra yoga. Reference with TATTVAS, AKASHA, VAYU TATTVA, TEJAS TATTVA and PRITHIVI TATTVA.