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Arthur Edward Waite

The Book Of Ceremonial Magic * Arthur Edward Waite (isbn 1853263559)

I don’t understand why someone would republish a book as famous as Waite’s Ceremonial Magic under a different title. I bought this book as The Wordsworth Book Of Spells in which Wordsworth is of course the publisher. This is Waite’s 1911 famous book about magic and is definately a much better history of magic than Levi’s book under this title. Already early in the book it becomes obvious that Waite is working towards black magic. He distincts white and black, but keeps emphasizing that black magic is mostly a myth and that there is too much overlap to tell them apart. He treats a couple of famous texts at length, some even translation in its entirety. Very nice elaborations of texts such as the Arbatel Of Magic, the larger and smallers keys of Solomon and blacker works such as the Grimorium Verum and the Grimoire Of Honorius can be found. Waite compares the texts, says where are crossbreeds in information, rituals, names, etc. The last part is ‘the complete grimoire’ with detailed information about rituals and translations of texts. Here Waite really works towards the blackest of black magic.

Some people say that Waite proves himself as a black magician working with sacrifices involving human sacrifice, others says that Waite wrote this work as an anti-magic book. Things can be said for both theories. The rituals and explanations are detailed enough to bring people the idea to do their own experiments, but also Waite is often very sceptical and ironical.

All in all an interesting work speaking about the best-known magical texts from the Middle Ages, also showing sides that other writers prefer to avoid. Detailed enough to continue your investigations or compare Waite to other writers, but not always too clearly written.

A New Encyclopedia Of Freemasonry * Arthur Edward Waite (university books 1970 (wings books 1996) * isbn 0517191482)

Athur Edward Waite (1857-1942) is one of the most well-known occultists of the 19th/early 20th century. He was involved in several traditions, groups such as the Golden Dawn and founder of the Fellowship of the Rosi Cross (1914), but I don’t know if he was also an initiated Freemason. He did write a few books on the subject. The present book is (as the title suggest) an encyclopedia / dictionary. The book says that the first print is from 1970, which would mean that it was published post-mortem. I think that 1970 is the first printing of the combined parts and that the book was actually first printed in 1921. In any case, René Guénon (1886-1951) thinks that Waite may have been very scholarly, his ‘esoteric insights’ were not too good since he was involved in the ‘wrong organisations’ (which would imply that Waite was no Freemason, because in the eyes of Guénon, Freemasonry is one of two genuine esoteric traditions in the West).
To the book then. It opens with a short and very helpfull glossary with abbreviations and ‘technical terms’, followed by an introduction into Freemasonry and then follows Masonic terms, symbols, history, rites, etc., etc. in alphabetical order. There is pretty much in it, but of course it is a 900-page reference work. There is a lot of text about subjects that only indirectly have something to do with Freemasonry, such as Kabbalah, Alchemy, ceremonial magic, etc. which obviously gives away the writer’s background. I didn’t find anything wrong myself and there is a lot to be found, so the book is easy for reference-purposes and not too expensive too. There are not too many images in the book, which is a bit of a pitty. It seems that similar books haven’t been written in the last century, so a book like this remains a must-buy for anyone interested in Masonic and/or other occult subjects.
Funny fact. I ran into this book second hand together with A Dictionary Of Freemasonry by Robert Macoy and has these books together in a ‘super-saver’ combination! Both for only $ 30,- plus shipping.