Arthur Edward Waite

British occultist mystic, poet and writer
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Arthur Edward Waite (2 October 1857 – 19 May 1942) was a British poet and scholarly mystic who wrote extensively on occult and esoteric matters, and was the co-creator of the Rider–Waite tarot deck. As his biographer R. A. Gilbert described him, "Waite's name has survived because he was the first to attempt a systematic study of the history of western occultism—viewed as a spiritual tradition rather than as aspects of proto-science or as the pathology of religion.

Waite in 1921


  • The Turba Philosophorum is indisputably the most ancient extant treatise on Alchemy in the Latin tongue, but it was not, so far as can be ascertained, originally written in Latin; the compiler or editor, for in many respects it can scarcely be regarded as an original composition, wrote either in Hebrew or Arabic; however, the work, not only at the present day, but seemingly during the six or seven centuries when it was quoted as an authority by all the alchemical adepts, has been familiar only in its Latin garb. (preface)
  • But thou, admired Eugenius, whose great arts
    Shine above envy and the common arts
    ... Shake off the eclipse, this dark, intruding veil
    Which would force night upon us and entail
    The same gross ignorance — in whose shades he
    Hath lost himself — on our posterity.
    Down, all you stale impostures, castles rear'd
    In th' air and guarded by thy reverend beard, Brat of Nichomachus.
    I will no more Bow to thy hoary handful nor adore
    Thy tyrant text; but by this dawning light,
    Which streams upon me through thy three-piled night,
    Pass to the East of truth, till I may see
    Man's first fair state, when sage simplicity,
    The dove and serpent, innocent and wise,
    Dwelt in his breast and he in Paradise.
    There from the Tree of Knowledge his best boughs
    I'll pluck a garland for Eugenius' brows,
    Which to succeeding times fame shall bequeathe,
    With this most just applause — Great Vaughan's wreath.
    • Works of Thomas Vaughan: Eugenius Philalethes, by Arthur Edward Waite, (Prefixed to 1919 edition of Vaughan's The Second Wash or, The moore scour'd once more: being a charitable cure for the distractions of Alazonomastix by Eugenius Philalethes; (several formats), (1651)
  • It seems to follow that we know as much and as little about the passing of Thomas Vaughan as might be expected from his literary importance and repute at that period... His little books could have appealed to a few only, though it may be granted that occult philosophy was a minor fashion of the time.
  • As after the zeal of research and the satisfaction of learning displayed in a memorable pageant, Cornelius Agrippa became convinced that the sciences of his period were vain, including his own, so was he disillusionised in matters of official religion. But he did not become a protestant. His position is comparable to that of Paracelsus, who wished Luther and the chaos of reformers well, believing doubtless that something would evolve therefrom, but he did not join the reformers.
The Golden and Rosy Cross, understood in the secret circles ns the Cosmic Cross of the Order, symbolizing universal manifestation, with the manifested Christ in the centre ns the power and the grace of all things.

The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross: Being Records of the House of the Holy Spirit in its Inward and Outward History, 1924


(full text at

  • The Golden and Rosy Cross, understood in the secret circles ns the Cosmic Cross of the Order, symbolizing universal manifestation, with the manifested Christ in the centre as the power and the grace of all things. The motto is: Ego sum flos campi et lilium convallium. This emblem appears on the title-page of Geheime Figures, issued at Altona in 1785, and is characteristic of the theosophical spirit which permeates the whole work. It was attached evidently to a ribbon or collar, and is probably the reverse side of a Cross shewn in another plate, described as of fine gold and said to have been worn by each Brother on his breast. The inscription on the reverse is the well-known salutation of the Order which was repeated on exposing the symbol: Benedictus Dominus Deus noster qui dedit nobis signum. Beneath this inscription the signs of Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are written about a six-pointed star, having the Sun in its centre. (preface)
  • A tract entitled Clypeum Veritatis, otherwise The Shield of Truth, which appeared early in 1618, is a typical deliberation on the pro et contra side, and I am taking it out of due order as it connects with the next tract. It claims (i) to deal with everything which “hereunto has been set forth openly, either for or against the Most Honourable and Blessed Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross,” and (2) to exhibit once and for all that which zealous disciples may expect confidently therefrom. The author in this case also was Irenaeus Agnostus, who subscribes himself (1) as writing from Tunis on February 21 of the year mentioned, (2) by special command of the glorious Brotherhood, he being (3) its “unworthy notary” through- out Germany. It affirms (1) that our highest good and way to the blessed life lies in the knowledge of God; (2) that the man who is devoted to the word of God is ever proceeding further in the quest of wisdom; and (3) that learning must be maintained for the propagation of celestial doctrine. (Development of Rosicrucian Literature)
  • Not only are great subjects encircled, for the most part by an external penumbra which, in comparison with them- selves, is a region of trifles, but the subjects themselves, when approached, not so much in an unserious spirit as in the mood of the light mind, seem, under such auspices, to abdicate their proper office and to manifest on their fantastic side. They enter to this extent the region of comedy, and as he must be a cross-grained poet who cannot be diverted by the skilful parody of his own work, so it is in no sense outside the law that the true mystic-— who is saved by many things, including a sense of humour — should be the first perhaps to appreciate the motley appear- ance of his own interests, when seen under the reflections of travesty. (Chapter XXII, A Kabalistic Order of the Rose-Croix)
  • As regards the teaching of the Order it has been inherited through a valid and unbroken succession; it is the custodian of things hitherto regarded as lost; its vocation is to bring errant wanderers to the light of virtuous and true knowledge; it has never designed that all men should accept its teaching
  • “From small beginnings unto greater ends” is an old, it may be, an honoured adage. Hereof is the Mystery of the Rosy Cross in origin, history and development. At the last close of all, there is something that remains to be intimated, and it is of two kinds: (1) There is that which is left over for want of available materials, and here it is an open question whether there is any way in which our knowledge is likely to be extended, unless it be in respect of accidents and minima, in days to come; (2) There is something which belongs to the Holy Assembly, is reserved thereto and can be found only by those who are without when he who is now a Stranger at the Gate receives that call which takes him across the threshold. But this is of the spirit, is indeed the inward life, and not matter of history. Benedict Dominus Deus noster qui dedit nobis signum . For those who know or can discover the authorised battery of the Rite, it may happen that the door will open and that he — Ostiarius Magnus — by whom they are admitted will be Christian Rosy Cross, who after witnessing the Hermetic Marriage left the Palace of the King, expecting that next day he should be Door Keeper. Introilus Apertus est ad Occlusum Regis Palatium. The ways indeed are many, but the Gate is one. V ale te, Fratres. Ch XXIV
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