Arthur Edward Waite

Arthur Edward Waite

Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA
Death 19 May 1942 (aged 84)
Bishopsbourne, City of Canterbury, Kent, England
Burial Bishopsbourne, City of Canterbury, Kent, England
Memorial ID 24995221 · View Source
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Author, Occultist. He received notoriety as an American-born British poet, writer, occultist and as the designer of a popular deck of Tarot cards. Seeking spiritual guidance, he became a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1891, a Freemason in 1901 and joined the Societas Rosicruciana in 1902. Given to controversy, he soon caused turmoil in the Order of the Golden Dawn with his support of mysticism rather than magic, which appealed to the majority of the members. With this turmoil, the organization collapsed shortly afterwards, torn apart by internal dissent. The same year, Waite left the Societas Rosicruciana in 1914 to form the rival group, the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, a Christian based group with mystical practices. His group made it clear that it was in no way connected to any other group. It has to be mention that he advanced to the higher rankings in all the other organizations. During the rival, he made a foe of Aleister Crowly, who described him as the villainous “Arthwate” in the novel “Moodchild” and in the magazine “Equinox,” referred to Waite as the “Dead Waite.” Author H. P. Lovecrafter wrote about an evil character, villainous wizard named Ephraim Waite, which was based on him. Waite was a prolific author publishing at least sixty books on the topics about divination, the occult, esotericism, Rosicurucianism, Freemasonry, ceremonial magic, Kabbalism, the Holy Grail and Alchemy. He also wrote lectures and rituals. His friendship with author, Arthur Machen , led to his writing on the subject of the Holy Grail. In 1921 he wrote “A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry.” He translated to English the works of 18th century French authors, Eliphas Levi and Papus, as well as reissuing works of Thomas Vaughan, who wrote about mystical philosophy, and natural magic published under the pseudonym Eugenius Philalethe in the 17th century. Using Rider Publisher, he was the co-designer of the world-wide-known Rider-Waite Tarot cards, which were illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith. He wrote a guide to Tarot, “The Pictorial Key to the Tarot” published in 1911, which is still available in print. His father was an American Merchant Marine. When his father died at sea on September 9, 1858, his pregnant widowed mother took him to her homeland of England. Although his mother's family were wealthy, they had rejected his mother when she became involved with his father, hence he and his sister were raised in poverty. His mother converted to a Roman Catholic in 1863 and taught her children this faith. After being educated in a private school in North London, he transferred at the age of thirteen years old to St. Charles College, a Roman Catholic school. Not graduating from college, he left to become a clerk and to write poetry. While grieving from his sister's 1874 death, he left the Roman Catholic church and began to research psychic and occult topics by reading at the British Museum, thus beginning his life-time quest for knowledge on these subjects. He married in 1887, became the father of a daughter, and as a widower, remarried in 1927. His first published work was “An Ode to Astronomy” in 1877, after which he published manypoems and stories in minor literary journals, later he also edited a small magazine “The Unknown World.” In 1886 his first major work on the occult appeared: “The Mysteries of Magic,” a Digest of the writings of Eliphas Levi.” Waite’s lasting legacy is not through his prolific writing, but through his creation of the Rider Waite Tarot Deck.

Bio by: Linda Davis





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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: NWO
  • Added: 2 Mar 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 24995221
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Arthur Edward Waite (2 Oct 1857–19 May 1942), Find A Grave Memorial no. 24995221, citing St Mary Churchyard, Bishopsbourne, City of Canterbury, Kent, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .