Arthur Edward Waite

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Arthur Edward Waite (October 2, 1857 – May 19, 1942) was a 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."[1]


Early life

Waite was born in the United States.[2] Waite's father, Capt. Charles F. Waite, died when he was at a very young age, and his widowed mother, Emma Lovell, returned to her home country of England, where he was then raised.[3] As they were not well off, Waite was educated at a small private school in North London. When he was thirteen, he was then educated at St. Charles' College.[4] When he left school to become a clerk he wrote verse in his spare time. The death of his sister, Frederika Waite, in 1874 soon attracted him into psychical research. At twenty-one he began to read regularly in the Library of the British Museum, studying many branches of esotericism.

When Waite was almost thirty years old, he married Ada Lakeman (also called 'Lucasta') and they had one daughter, Sybil Waite.[5] Some time after Lucasta's death in 1924, Waite married Mary Broadbent Schofield. He spent most of his life in or near London, connected to various publishing houses, and editing a magazine The Unknown World.

A.E. Waite joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in January 1891 after being introduced by E.W. Berridge.[6] He became a Freemason in 1901,[7][8] and entered the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia in 1902. The Golden Dawn was torn by further internal feuding until Waite's departure in 1914; later he formed the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross,[9] not to be confused with the Societas Rosicruciana. By that time there existed some half-dozen offshoots from the original Golden Dawn, and as a whole it never recovered.[10]

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