The Secret Tradition in Alchemy – A. E. Waite (1926) (1st ed)


The Secret Tradition in Alchemy – A. E. Waite (1926) (1st ed)


Title: The Secret Tradition in Alchemy

Author: Arthur Edward Waite

Publisher: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., London, 1926. First edition.

Condition: Hardcover, no dust jacket. Very good. Spine faded and very slight mark to cover. Former owner’s bookplate to endpaper, and a small bookseller’s sticker to title page. Else very good. Pages clean and bright, binding firm. 415pp., app 9.5″ by 6.5″.

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About the book (from Google Books):

A complete history of alchemy revealing the subject as much more than the attempts in early science of turning base metals into gold or silver, this book goes about intimating the mystical experience underlying hermetic symbolism. It outlines some of the ‘secret’ inner meanings to alchemy – symbolism, metaphysics, and spirituality. This book contains a universe of information and is worthwhile reading for anyone wanting to know more on this engaging subject. Originally published in 1926.

About Arthur Edward Waite (from Wikipedia):

Arthur Edward Waite (2 October 1857 – 19 May 1942) was an American-born British poet and scholarly mystic who wrote extensively on occult and esoteric matters, and was the co-creator of the Rider-Waite tarot deck (also called the Rider-Waite-Smith or Waite-Smith 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.”

He wrote occult texts on subjects including divination, esotericism, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, and ceremonial magic, Kabbalism and alchemy; he also translated and reissued several mystical and alchemical works. He wrote about the Holy Grail, influenced by his friendship with Arthur Machen.[ A number of his volumes remain in print, including The Book of Ceremonial Magic (1911), The Holy Kabbalah (1929), A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (1921), and his edited translation of Eliphas Levi’s 1896 Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual (1910), having been reprinted in recent years. Waite also wrote two allegorical fantasy novels, Prince Starbeam (1889) and The Quest of the Golden Stairs (1893), and edited Elfin Music, an anthology of poetry based on English fairy folklore.

Waite is best known for his involvement with the Rider-Waite tarot deck, first published in 1910, with illustrations by Golden Dawn member Pamela Colman Smith. Waite authored the deck’s companion volume, the Key to the Tarot, republished in expanded form in 1911 as the Pictorial Key to the Tarot, a guide to Tarot reading. The Rider-Waite-Smith tarot was notable for illustrating all 78 cards fully, at a time when only the 22 major arcana were typically illustrated. (The Sola Busca tarot, 1491, being a notable historical exception.)