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The Hermetic Text Society, fl. 1907*

The Hermetic Text Society, fl. 1907*

By Cis van Heertum

‘The Hermetic Text Society was a pipe-dream of Waite’s that never proceeded further than the issuing of this breathtaking prospectus’, A.E. Waite’s bio-bibliographer R.A. Gilbert intriguingly observed with reference to a 14-page pamphlet issued by Waite in 1907. [1] Searching the Internet for ‘The Hermetic Text Society’ only yields a few references, all to the now sadly defunct American periodical Cauda Pavonis: The Hermetic Text Society Newsletter. [2] Of Waite’s Hermetic Text Society’s ‘pipe-dream’ there is not a trace on the world wide web; in print, fortunately, there is Gilbert’s brief but informative description of Waite’s ‘grandiose affair’ in the biography which he published in 1987. [3] 

At the time Waite laid down his plan for a Hermetic Text Society, he had already been in control for a few years of the Isis Urania Temple of the collapsed Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which he had re-named ‘The Independent and Rectified Rite’ (with the implicit and tacit addition of ‘of the Golden Dawn’). Waite had diverted the Order away from magic towards mysticism, [4] altogether in line with his belief that there was a secret tradition underlying all esoteric paths, whether mystical, alchemical, kabbalistic, Rosicrucian, masonic or other, which led to direct experience of God. On the professional side of his life, he was wrapping up his career as a commercial manager for Horlick’s, manufacturers of malted milk. Waite wrote in his autobiography Shadows of life and thought that at this time, prospects ‘of a new life’ opened before him: these prospects were related to definitively establishing himself as an authority and an exponent of the ‘secret tradition’. [5] His Hidden church of the Holy Graal, published in 1909, was to be its first product.

Gilbert writes that the idea for the Hermetic Text Society had been suggested to Waite by the gnostic scholar G.R.S. Mead, who had reviewed Karl von Eckartshausen’s The cloud upon the sanctuary in the translation of Isabelle de Steiger for the Theosophical Review in 1903. Waite had written an Introduction for the book, which had caused Mead to enthuse: ‘If only someone – and why not the scholarly mystic who writes this Introduction? – would play Max Muller to the “sacred books” of the Christian mystics from the XIVth to the XVIIIth centuries, what a feast there would be for hundreds of thousands of starving souls!’ [6]

Although Mead thus must have inspired Waite to establish a Hermetic Text Society, the mission statement in the prospectus makes clear that the project was to be modelled after existing learned societies – the very name suggests for instance the Early English Text Society, founded by F.J. Furnivall in 1864 to ‘bring the mass of unprinted Early English literature within the reach of students and to provide sound texts’. Thus Waite’s own Hermetic Text Society was 

”founded on a plan which is similar, broadly speaking, to that of other learned literary associations, and it is designed for the publication, firstly, of archaic texts representing various branches of occult and mystic history, science and philosophy, in so far as such texts exist in the English language, special attention being paid to unprinted literature; secondly, for the literal rendering of printed books and manuscripts in mediaeval Latin and various continental languages; thirdly, for the translation of important modern works chiefly in French and German; fourthly and finally, for the production … of interpretative and historical treatises by well-known English writers.”

The name Waite chose, Hermetic Text Society, of course also brings to mind Anna Bonus Kingsford’s short-lived Hermetic Society (1884-1887), but Waite in his prospectus does not allude to her. Instead, he wrote in his autobiography that it was the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (founded 1888) that was known ‘in the outer world’ as ‘the Hermetic Society’. [7]


Waite’s design was ambitious indeed, but the Hermetic Text Society came to nothing. Gilbert noted in his bibliography of Waite that of the seven projected titles for 1908, two were indeed published, but by other publishers: Waite’s own The hidden church of the Holy Graal (1909) and Lopukhin’s Characteristics of the interior church (1912). [8] Waite, who planned to run his Society through subscription, had also envisaged an annual meeting of members, which was likewise announced in the prospectus. All correspondence to the Society was to be directed to 6, Henrietta Street in Covent Garden, London, then the publishing address of Philip Sinclair Wellby, Waite’s publisher (from 1901 to 1906) and a close personal friend. [9] Waite also had a leaflet printed which proves that he intended to issue The hidden church of the Holy Graal as no. 1 in ‘The Publications of the Hermetic Text Society Series’; the imprint reads: ‘London. Privately printed for subscribers by the Hermetic Text Society. 1908’. But already in the summer of 1908 newspapers were announcing the publication of the book by Rebman publishers for the autumn. What had happened in the meantime is explained by Waite himself in his autobiography. After having already noted that Wellby’s business instincts were such that ‘ever and continually he was opening some fatal door which looked towards a ruinous Cornwall’, Waite recounts that he was persuaded by Dr. Robert W. Felkin, a fellow Golden Dawn member, to transfer publication of the book to Rebman’s, a firm of medical publishers looking to widen their publishing horizon. Waite on his part talked Wellby into understanding that ‘an old-established firm could do better for me than his own mushroom growth’, and accordingly the The hidden church of the Holy Graal was published by Rebman in January 1909. [10] Wellby’s publishing firm went over to the larger firm of William Rider & Son not long after. Waite did not refer to his projected Hermetic Text Society in his autobiography, and the only substantial proof that he ever planned such a learned society is the prospectus.

The prospectus

The Hermetic Text Society’s primary publishing focus was the body of ‘great and memorable texts of Christian Mysticism, of all schools and periods, excluding nothing on the ground of difficulties in doctrine, but distinguishing clearly the position of each text in relation to the chief schools of doctrine’. That Waite associated the term ‘Hermetic’ primarily with ‘Christian mysticism’ might seem incongruous, but ‘Hermetic’ at the time served as an umbrella term for ‘Western esoteric traditions’, of which Waite felt himself to be a prime expositor. [11] By publishing the texts, Waite continued, ‘the several departments of the Secret Tradition in Christian times outside ecclesiastical systems will be found represented’ (p. 7). At the same time Waite stressed the importance of the inclusion of modern writers, ‘because it is only of recent years, in the light of our growing knowledge of the past, that it has become possible to understand more fully the secret traditions and symbolism of former ages’ (p. 8).

The proposed publications were arranged under various headings:

A. Great texts of Christian mysticism

B. Lesser texts of Christian mysticism

C. The literature of the Rosy Cross

D. The archaeology of Freemasonry and Templarism

E. The literature of alchemy

F. Miscellaneous and unclassified

The Board of Control consisted first of all of Director General A.E. Waite. Dora Stuart-Menteath, Waite’s sister-in-law and muse, was Treasurer; Philip S. Wellby was Secretary General. Also envisaged was an advisory committee for the various fields which were to be addressed by the Hermetic Text Society. These were respectively: Symbolism and Egyptology; Christian Mysticism; Secret Societies; Alchemy; Occultism in Folk-Lore; Neoplatonism and Gnosticism; Templarism and Orders of Chivalry; Astrology and Lesser Secret Sciences; Modern Esoteric Literature and finally Craft Masonry and Masonic High Grades. There are no names in print against these disciplines, but the copy owned by the BPH lists in pencil, in Waite’s hand, various candidates, amongst whom are William Wynn Westcott for the subject of Alchemy and George Robert Stow Mead for that of Neoplatonism and Gnosticism. [12]

The secret tradition

When Waite looked back on his life in Shadows of life and thought he defined himself as someone who had

”explored the “Secret Tradition of Christian Times” in all its written developments (…). It lies open to the whole world: it is enshrined in a thousand memorials. By the scores and the hundred have excellent and gifted people presented their views concerning it, their modes of understanding. It has been unfolded and summarised in all languages of the Western World; it has been put into simple words for plain people; yet it remains to this day the most secret of all Traditions.” [13]

From 1906, beginning with Studies in mysticism and certain aspects of the secret tradition, Waite set out to uncover the ‘inward history’, (as he also called the secret tradition in his monumental study on the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross), of the various Western spiritual traditions. Subsequently Waite was to offer expositions of the secret tradition in such fields as magic, alchemy and Kabbalah. [14]

Not everybody was appreciative of Waite’s ponderous efforts to uncover the hidden or inward history of Christian times. A reviewer from the ‘outer world’, writing in 1909 for the Roman-Catholic weekly The Tablet, for instance began and ended his critique of The hidden church of the Holy Graal as follows:

“This book is permeated by one idea, namely that there is a Hidden Church, to which, apparently, people belonging to any church, or to no visible church, may belong; but a Church teaching mysteries into which only a limited number of very highly purified and sanctified souls are initiated; and this Hidden Church the author believes to be the basis of the whole literature of the Holy Graal. (…) His work is evidently the outcome of a great deal of wide and careful reading, deep study, much original thought, and unstinted labour; but he does not appear to us sufficiently to realise the desirability of avoiding repetition, or the undesirability of using a multitude of words where a few would serve; and, so far as theology is concerned, we consider a copy of a little volume commonly called ‘The Penny Catechism’ [15] worth infinitely more than many tons of such books as ‘The hidden church of the Holy Graal’.”

But these are words from an unsympathetic reviewer and concerned Waite’s own works. It is regrettable that Waite’s ambitious project to bring out primary works in the field of the ‘secret tradition in Christian times’ came to nothing – that some of them were not altogether ‘outside ecclesiastical systems’, as Waite also claimed, can be seen from the contents of Waite’s projected list of publications, which follows below.

Great and lesser texts

Gilbert writes that the titles offered by Waite were ‘his, and his alone’ and were not (partly) suggested to him by the advisors he had preliminarily pencilled in. [16] As for the great and lesser texts of Christian mysticism, it seems unclear what distinguishes great from less. Seven out of eleven authors in the first category are medieval; while all authors in the second category are seventeenth-century and up. It is remarkable that the first category features mystics known for their neoplatonic spiritual outlook, such as Dionysius, Bonaventura and Hugo de Sancto Victore, alongside Jesuits such as Bellarmino or Juan de Avila (the latter two surely firmly writing within their ecclesiastical system). It is also noteworthy that most of the ‘lesser texts’ selected by Waite had recently been published by Librairie Chacornac in Paris in French translations. Especially in the category of Rosicrucian literature, Waite seems to have concentrated on unpublished manuscripts (four out of seven titles). The masonic category may have included two historical works of his own – this is certainly the case for the Alchemy section, with one title later published by Waite. The last category, ‘Miscellaneous and unclassified’ is predominantly mystical in emphasis. Waite also added, in pencil, two further titles to the last two sections in the copy of the prospectus owned by the BPH.

A. Great texts of Christian mysticism

1. The treatise of mystical theology. Attributed to S. Dionysius the Areopagite, with the Scholia of S. Maximus and passages from the Paraphrase of Corderius. Translated from the Greek and Latin.

* The Jesuit Balthasar Corderius edited the Opera cum scholiis, Antwerp 1634. His edition, with the commentaries of Maximus the Confessor (580-662) was published in Migne’s Patrologiae Graecae series in 1857.

2. The journey of the soul to God. By S. Bonaventura. Translated from the Latin.

* No contemporary English translation of Bonaventura’s Itinerarium mentis in Deum appears to exist. A Latin edition came out in 1891.

3. The ascent of the mind in God by the grade of natural things. By Robert Cardinal Bellarmine. Translated from the Latin.

* Bellarmino’s De ascensione mentis in Deum had been first translated into English as The ascent of mind to God and published in Antwerp in 1615. There also existed a more recent translation: A gradual whereby to ascend unto God, translated by John Dalton (1844).

4. A manual of the way to heaven. Translated from the Latin of John Cardinal Bona.

* The Manuductio ad coelum by Giovanni Bona (1609-1674) had been translated by Roger L’Estrange as The guide to heaven in 1680 and had been reprinted in 1898.

5. The book of eternal wisdom of blessed Suso, i.e. Frater Amandus [Heinrich vom Berg]. The fourteenth century English rendering compared with the Latin version made or authorised by himself and with the modern German edition of Diepenbrock.

* Melchior Diepenbrock’s Heinrich Suso’s, genannt Amandus, Leben und Schriften was first published in 1829, the fourth edition came out in 1884.

6. The treatise concerning the sacraments by Hugo de Saint Victor. Translated from the Latin.

* No contemporary English translation of Hugo de Sancto Victore’s De sacramentis christiane fidei appears to exist. The text was published in Migne’s Patrologia Latina series, 176.

7. The preparation of the soul for contemplation. By Richard de Saint Victor. Translated from the Latin.

* No contemporary English translation of Ricardus de Sancto Victore’s De praeparatione animi ad contemplationem appears to exist. The text was published in Migne’s Patrologia Latina series, 196.

8. The spiritual institutes of Ludovicus Blosius. Translated from the Latin.

* The Institutio spiritualis of the Benedictine Franciscus Ludovicus Blosius (1506-1566) had been translated by the Dominican Bertrand A. Wilberforce as A book of spiritual instruction and published in 1900.

9. Select writings of Dionysius the Carthusian.

* The Opera omnia of Dionysius Carthusianus (1402/03-1471) were edited in 44 vols from 1896-1913, 1935. No contemporary English translation appears to exist.

10. The blessed Jean d’Avila: audi, filia, et vide.

* Juan de Avila (1500-1569) was an enthusiastic advocate of the Society of Jesus in Spain. His Audi, filia, et vide, et inclina aurem tuam, a pious reflection on psalm 44: 11, was first published in an English translation in St Omer in 1620.

11. The works which remain of Eckart. [17]

12. Gerson’s theory and practice of mysticism, showing his position in respect of Scholasticism, Nominalism and the Theosophy of Ruysbroeck, Eckart and Tauler.

* There is no contemporary edition of Jean Charlier Gerson’s Tractatus de mystica theologia; the title Waite provides would seem to suggest it is a secondary work on Gerson.

13. Passages from the Evangelio Eterno of Abbiati Giochimo di Flor of the early thirteenth century.

* No work of that title has survived of Joachim da Fiore; Joachim’s followers in fact referred to his three principal works as the ‘Evangelium aeternum’; a contemporary study of Joachim da Fiore was H. S. Denifle’s Das Evangelium aeternum und die Kommission zu Anagni, Berlin 1885.

B. Lesser texts of Christian mysticism

1. Select writings of Engelbrecht.

* A likely candidate is Hans Engelbrecht (1599-1642), the ‘German Swedenborg’, whose Divine visions had been translated by Francis Okely and published in 1780.

2. The practical theosophy of John George Gichtel.

* Johann Georg Gichtel’s Theosophia practica came out in 1722; there was also a French edition in 1898, published by Chacornac, entitled Theosophia practica (in fact a translation of Gichtel and Graber’s Kurtze Eröffnung, 1723).

3. Some characteristics of the interior church. By Loupoukine [18]

* Ivan Vladimirovitch Lopukhin, Some characteristics of the interior church. London 1912. Gilbert B29. A French edition, Quelques traits de l’église intérieure, had appeared in 1810, and was reprinted in Lyon in 1901.

4. The dialogue of Malaval the quietist.

* The Pratique facile pour élever l’âme à la contemplation. En forme de dialogue by François Malaval (1627-1719) was eventually translated in English as A simple method of raising the soul to contemplation and published in Waite’s lifetime in 1931 (transl. L. Menzies).

5. The Ecce Homo of Louis Claude de Saint Martin.

* First edition Paris 1792; a contemporary edition, published by Chacornac, came out in Paris in 1901.

6. The shadow of the eternal wisdom. By R.P. Esprit de Sabathier.

* L’ombre ideale de la sagesse universelle. First edition Paris 1679; a contemporary edition, published by Chacornac, came out in Paris in 1897.

7. A treatise concerning reintegration. By Martines de Pasqually. With an account of the analogies in Saint Martin.

* Traité de la réintégration des êtres dans leurs premières propriétés, vertus et puissance spirituelles et divines. The first edition, published by Chacornac, came out in Paris in 1897. [19]

8. A digest of the unpublished writings of Dionysius Freher on the works of Jacob Böhme. [20]

* Apart from Christopher Walton’s Notes and materials for an adequate biography of … W. Law. Comprising an elucidation of the scope and contents of the writings of J. Böhme, and of D. A. Freher, published in London in 1854; there were no published editions of Freher in Waite’s time.

9. The devotional year: A Treatise concerning the Way of Purgation, the Way of Enlightenment and the Way of Union. By R.P. Avrillon, Minorite.

* Several works of Jean Baptiste Èlie Avrillon (1652-1729) had been translated into English in the 19th century, but this title is unknown. Waite’s title would seem to suggest he had in mind a translation of L’année affective.

10. Select works of Dr. Rudd, quietist and supposed Rosicrucian. From the unpublished mss. [21]

C. The literature of the Rosy Cross

1. The Naometria of Simon Studion. From the original MS. [22]

* Unpublished.

2. A consideration of the secret philosophy. By Philipus à Gabella. Compared with the Monas Hieroglyphica of Dr. Dee. [23]

* Philippus à Gabella’s Secretioris philosophiae consideratio brevis, Kassel 1615. No English translation is known to exist.

3. The diary of Rosea Lux. From the unique MS. [24]

4. The doctrine and mystery of the Rosy Cross. Attributed to dr. Dee.

* The rosie crucian secrets. Their excellent method of making medicines of metals also their lawes and mysteries was not published until 1985.

5. The book of the secret processes of Thomas Vaughan. [25]

6. Revelations concerning the Rosicrucians. By Magister Pianea (sic) [Count Ecker und Eckhofen]. From the German Der Rosenkreuzer in seiner Blosse.

* Hans Carl von Ecker und Eckhoffen (ps. Magister Pianco), Der Rosenkreuzer in seiner Blösse, Nuremburg 1781.

7. The secret history of the Rosicrucians. Translated from the German of H.G. Albrecht.

* Heinrich Christoph Albrecht, Geheime Geschichte eines Rosenkreuzers. Hamburg 1792

8. The secret tradition in Rosicrucian literature. [26]

D. The archaeology of Freemasonry and Templarism

1. The true origin of the order of Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry. By C.G. von Murr. Translated from the German.

* Christoph Gottlieb von Murr, Über den wahren Ursprung der Rosenkreuzer und des Freymaurerordens, Sulzbach 1803.

2. Archives of Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism. From the German of C. von Uden.

* Konrad Friedrich Uden, Archiv für Freimþurer und Rosenkreuzer, Berlin 1783, 1785 (2 pts).

3. The Levitikon or heretical gospel of the masonic Knights Templar. As published by Palaprat, [27] the Commander of the Temple in Paris.

* B.-R. Fabré-Palaprat, Lévitikon, Ou exposé des principes fondamentaux de la doctrine des Chrétiens-Catholiques-Primitifs, Paris 1831.

4. Recherches historiques sur les Templiers. By the knight Commander Palaprat. Translated from the French.

* B.-R. Fabré-Palaprat, Recherches historiques sur les Templiers, Paris 1835.

5. Archives mysto-hermétique. Being the Secret Proceedings of the Masonic Lodge of Lyons and of the Knights Beneficent of the Holy City. Translated from the French.

Waite intended to publish this work in 1908, and provided more information in the relevant section (see below). [28]

6. The burning star. By Baron Tschoudy. Translated from the French.

* Théodore Henri de Tschoudy, L’Ètoile flamboyante ou la société des francs-maçons, considérée sous tous les aspects, Frankfurt & Paris 1766.

7. The tomb of Jacques de Molai, with the later Masonic history of the writer.

* Possibly Charles-Louis Cadet de Gassicourt, Le Tombeau de Jacques Molai, ou Histoire secrète et abrégée des initiés anciens et modernes, Paris 1796.

8. Masonry considered as the outcome of the Egyptian, Jewish and Christian religion. By Reghellini da Scio.

* Reghellini de Schio, La Maçonnerie, considérée comme le résultat des religions égyptienne, juive et chrétienne, Brussels 1829; a German translation came out in the next decade.

9. The esoteric history of Freemasonry. [29]

10. The secret tradition in the temple.

11. Added in pencil at the foot of the page: ‘The sons of the valley. [30]

* Friedrich Ludwig Zacharias Werner, Die Söhne des Thales: Ein dramatisches Gedicht, Berlin 1803.

E. The literature of alchemy

1. An open entrance to the closed palace of the King. The first authoritative text based on the collation of all the printed texts.

* George Starkey, Secrets reveal’d: or, an open entrance to the shut palace, London 1669. No further English editions are known, although there Latin and German editions of this work.

2. A new light of alchemy, including the investigation of its authorship.

* Michael Sendivogius, A new light of alchymie, London 1650

3. The christo-theosophical stone. By E.C. Claf. [31]

4. The veritable treasure of human life. [32]

5. Khunraph’s [33] treatise concerning the catholic magnesia.

* Heinrich Khunrath, Magnesia catholica philosophorum, das ist, höheste Nothwendigkeit in Alchymia, Magdeburg 1599. A later edition of this work came out in 1784.

6. The lamp of light and death.

7. The basin of Hermes.

* Perhaps Ludovico Lazzarelli’s Crater Hermetis (1492).

8. Remarks on alchemy and the alchemists. By E.A. Hitchcock. A New Edition, embodying a reconsideration of the subject in the light of new research.

* The last edition of Ethan Allen Hitchcock’s Remarks (first published 1855) came out in 1867.

9. Theophysical alchemy. T. Willis.

* Timothy Willis, The search of causes. Containing a theophysicall investigation of the possibilitie of transmutatorie alchemie. London 1616

10. The secret tradition in alchemy.

* Gilbert A39

N.B. – The initial design of this section is to put forward works which either bear directly on the speculative and metaphysical side of alchemy, or the consideration of which follows reasonably therefrom. But the two original texts with which the series opens belong to the experimental and physical side of the Magnum Opus. [34]

F. Miscellaneous and unclassified

1. The marrow of Jacob Böhme, containing the essence of his doctrine extracted after a new manner. [35]

2. Chronicles of the secret tradition in modern schools of mystic thought.

3. The twelve lamps of Christian mysticism. [36]

4. The friends of God in the fourteenth century. By A. Jundt. Translated from the French.

* Auguste Jundt, Les amis de Dieu au quatorzième siècle, Paris 1897. An English translation is not known.

5. Researches on ancient and modern initiations. By the Abbé Robin. Translated from the French.

* Charles César Robin, Recherches sur les initiations anciennes et modernes, Dresden 1781. An English translation is not known.

6. The works of Thomas Vaughan, Royalist and mystic. Collected for the first time.

* Gilbert B 36

7. The hidden church of the Holy Graal.

* Gilbert A 22

8. La science cabbalistique. By Lenain. Translated from the French.

* Lazare Lenain, La science cabalistique. Amiens 1831. An English translation is not known.

9. The secret tradition in universal mysticism.

10. Added in pencil at the foot of the page: ‘The lesser secret sciences and the tradition therein.’ [37]

N.B. – It should be understood, and this distinctively, that the enumeration of proposed texts does not involve a contract to produce any given work, and that the General Director [i.e. Waite] reserves the right of substitution and all other rights in his absolute discretion.

The publication for the year 1908 will be selected from the following texts:

(a) Archives mystico-hermétiques, sometimes attributed to Lepelletier de Rouen. Translated from the sole French edition of 1780, with an introduction showing the influence of the mystic schools on the High Grade Masonic movement of the eighteenth century (see D5).

(b) Characteristics of the interior church. By Loupoukine. Translated from the French edition, and compared with “The Cloud on the Sanctuary”, and other traces of a secret conclave in Christianity (see B3).

(c) The journey of the soul to God. By S. Bonaventura (see A2).

(d) The marrow of Jacob Böhme. A selection of passages from his writings designed to set forth his place in mystical thought apart from certain physical and metaphysical theorems which have become superseded in the effusion of time (see F1).

(e) The doctrine and mystery of the Rosy Cross. Attributed to Doctor Dee (see C4). [38]

(f) The basin of Hermes (see E7).

(g) The hidden church of the Holy Graal: its Legends and Symbolism regarded as a Mystery of Initiation; its connection with other Mysteries and a New Theory of its Development (see F7).

* Gilbert A 22

Cis van Heertum

References: Gilbert= R.A. Gilbert, A.E. Waite. A bibliography. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire 1983


* I am very grateful to R.A. Gilbert for his careful reading of the texts and for his valuable suggestions and corrections.

[1] R.A. Gilbert, A.E. Waite. A bibliography. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire 1983, 43.

[2] A new series of Cauda Pavonis with the subtitle ‘The Hermetic Text Society Newsletter’ started in 1982 and ran until 1999 under the editorship of Stanton J. Linden. The first issue stated that ‘The Hermetic Text Society is being organized, under the auspices of the Humanities Research Center at Washington State University, to provide scholars and libraries with authoritative, attractive and inexpensive editions of alchemical texts’, words which recall Waite’s own ‘mission statement’ made almost a century earlier.

[3] R.A. Gilbert, A.E. Waite. Magician of many parts. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire 1987, 101-102, 195n.

[4] A.E. Waite, Shadows of life and thought. A retrospective review in the form of memoirs, London 1938, 228: ‘I proposed also that those who regarded the Golden Dawn as capable of a mystical instead of an occult construction, should and had indeed resolved to work independently’.

[5] Waite, Shadows of life and thought, 172.

[6] Gilbert, A.E. Waite. Magician of many parts, 195n. Max Müller was a German-born philologist and Orientalist. Mead here alludes to Müller’s great achievement of the fifty-volume Sacred Books of the East series, English translations of Oriental religious and philosophical works, published under Müller’s general editorship from 1879 to 1910.

[7] Waite, Shadows of life and thought, 228.

[8] Gilbert, A.E. Waite. A bibliography, A22 (The hidden church of the Holy Graal) and B29 (Characteristics of the interior church), respectively published by Rebman and The Theosophical Publishing Society in London. Lopukhin’s work was listed in the prospectus under ‘Lesser texts of Christian mysticism’; Waite’s work came under ‘Miscellaneous and Unclassified’.

[9] Waite discussed the publishing fortunes of Philip S. Wellby in Shadows of life and thought, 153-155, also listing the books Wellby published for Waite (six in all).

[10] Waite, Shadows of life and thought, 154, 173-74. See also Gilbert, A.E. Waite. A bibliography, A22. The volume of Miscellaneous writings and reviews collected by Waite for 1908-1909 includes the leaflet announcing the publication of The hidden church as no. 1 in the Hermetic Text Society Series and a few proof pages of the book itself, printed by the Ballantyne Press in Edinburgh, dated 13 december 1907. Waite writes in his autobiography that Ballantyne’s agreed to relinquish the printing of the The hidden church.

[11] Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, ‘Hermeticism and Hermetic Societies’, in Dictionary of gnosis & western esotericism, eds. W.J. Hanegraaff et al., Leiden 1005, I, 552. See also Alex Owen, The place of enchantment. British occultism and the culture of the modern, Chicago 2004, 52. At any rate there is only one title in the entire list of ca. 60 titles which carries the name of Hermes in the title: The basin of Hermes, see below E7.

[12] The other names are: Symbolism and Egyptology: Marcus Worsley Blackden (an Egyptologist and Freemason); Christian Mysticism: Rev. G.W. Allen, the founder of a ‘Christo-Theosophical Society’; Secret Societies: Robert William Felkin, physician and magus; Occultism in Folk-Lore: William Forsell Kirby (entomologist, folklorist and translator of the Finnish Kalevala epic); Templarism and Orders of Chivalry: Ladislas de Malczovich (a Hungarian mason and author of various articles, including ‘A sketch of the earlier history of masonry in Austria and Hungary’, in Ars Quatuor Coronarum 6 (1893), 85-91) and Modern Esoteric Literature: Ralph Shirley, editor of The occult review and a friend of Waite. There is no name against Astrology and Lesser Secret Sciences, while Craft Masonry and Masonic High Grades has a name with a question mark: [William James] Hughan. I am grateful to R.A. Gilbert for identifying the latter name. For Hughan see also Ars Quatuor Coronarum 114 (2001).

For Blackden, Allen, Felkin, Shirley, Kirby, Mead and Westcott see also Waite’s autobiography Shadows of life and thought and Gilbert’s biography A.E. Waite. Magician of many parts. Blackden, Felkin, Kirby and Westcott were members of the Golden Dawn, see Ellic Howe, The magicians of the Golden Dawn, London 1972.

[13] Waite, Shadows of life and thought, 278-79.

[14] Studies in mysticism and certain aspects of the secret tradition (London 1906, Gilbert A19); The hidden church of the holy graal. Its legends and symbolism considered in their affinity with certain mysteries of initiation and other traces of a secret tradition in christian times (London 1909, Gilbert A22); The key to the Tarot. Being fragments of a secret tradition under the veil of divination (London 1910, Gilbert A23); The pictorial key to the tarot. Being fragments of a secret tradition under the veil of divination (London 1911, Gilbert A24); The secret tradition in go‘tia. The book of ceremonial magic (London 1911, Gilbert A25); The secret tradition in freemasonry (London 1911, Gilbert A26); The secret tradition in alchemy. Its development and records (London 1926, Gilbert A39); The holy kabbalah. A study of the secret tradition in Israel (London 1929, Gilbert A41); The secret tradition in freemasonry (London 1937, Gilbert A45)

[15] A revised ‘Catechism of Christian doctrine’, popularly known as the ‘Penny catechism’, had been approved by the Third Westminster Synod in 1859 and was used to instruct young English Catholics in matters of faith and doctrine.

[16] Gilbert, A.E. Waite. Magician of many parts, 102.

[17] In view of the considerable number of works in Latin and German that have survived, this entry is surely one of the most ambitious in an already ambitious scheme.

[18] Waite’s handwriting in combination with exotic names gave Ballantyne’s compositor some problems. The BPH also owns the first proof of the prospectus, dated 10 December 1907; here Lopukhin’s name reads: ‘Loupon Seine’, corrected in pen by Waite.

[19] This work, which had not been printed before Chacornac’s edition, suggest that Waite got the idea for the majority of the works in this section from Chacornac’s list in particular. Papus had been the first to devote a study to Martines de Pasqually: L’illuminisme en France (1767-1774). Martines de Pasqually. Sa vie – ses pratiques magiques – son oeuvre – ses disciples, published by Chamuel, Paris 1895.

[20] For a list of manuscripts by Freher see Charles A. Muses, Illumination on Jacob Boehme. The work of Dionysius Andreas Freher, New York 1951.The Dr. Williams’s Library in London holds many of the Freher manuscripts.

[21] Waite almost certainly derived his awareness of Rudd from an article by Kenneth R.H. Mackenzie: ‘Rosicrucian visions of  angels and spirits vouchsafed to Dr. Rudd’, published in two parts in The Masonic and Rosicrucian Record, II, no. 22, November 1873, 65-69, and no. 23, February 1874, 82-89. Mackenzie gives the Harleian mss. numbers. I am grateful to R.A. Gilbert for providing me with this information.

For Thomas Rudd (1583/84-1656) see the entry in the New Dictionary of National Biography by Andrew Saunders , 80-81, who, however, does not mention Rudd’s ‘Rosicrucian manuscripts’.

[22] Waite’s Notebook on Simon Studion’s Naometria dates from 1924 and is in the BPH (M 425). The manuscript of Simon Studion’s (1543-1605) Naometria is in the Württembergische Landesbibliothek in Stuttgart, shelfmark ‘Cod. Theol. et Philos. 2¡ 34’. Waite had already discussed Studion in his Real history of the Rosicrucians, London 1887, 213-14.

[23] For Gabella see Carlos Gilly, Cimelia Rhodostaurotica, Amsterdam 19952, 73-74.

[24] C.W. King, The gnostics and their remains, ancient and medieval, London 1887 (2nd enl. ed.), p. 396: ‘This MS., the most remarkable of the kind extant, or ever composed, written between the years 1568 and 1612, is full of mystic drawings, beautifully done in pen and ink, which may be either prophetic hieroglyphs, or else enshroud the arcana of some seeker after the Elixir of Life: the latter it would rather seem, to judge from the perpetual introduction of certain very significant emblems. The author must have belonged (as an actual Mason assures me) to a Lodge of Templars, as is proved by his use of the “hand in hand” and “foot to foot” insignia. As exhibiting the whole list of the present Masonic signs, but employed for Rosicrucian purposes, at so early a date, this Diary is of the utmost value to the history of the Order.’ King was allowed to examine the manuscript by the then owner, J.E. Hodgkin. John Eliot Hodgkin (1829-1912) was an engineer and a collector of books and manuscripts.

Both King’s text and the prospectus read: ‘Hosea lux’; the emendation ‘Rosea lux’ was provided by R.A. Gilbert, who also notes that King’s narrative is not too credible.

[25] R.A. Gilbert suggests the work refers to Lumen de lumine, which Waite published in 1910.

[26] An unsolved title, like E10 and F2, but in view of Waite’s penchant for the element of ‘secret tradition’ in titles, these may have been among his own projected works.

[27] Palaprat’s history might serve Dan Brown as the subject of a new novel. The physician Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat (1773-1838) was the founder of a ‘Johannite’ neo-Templar Church, based on the teachings of Palaprat’s own Lévitikon, ‘which made reference to Jesus’ “lost years”: he allegedly spent his youth in Egypt, where he became a priest of Isis and gained initiation into the Egyptian mysteries. Fabré-Palaprat claimed to have discovered a covert but unbroken lineage of Grand Masters, running from Jacques de Molay to himself’. See George D. Chryssides’ article ‘Sources of doctrine in the Solar Temple’ in James R. Lewis (ed.) The Order of the Solar Temple (forthcoming).

[28] ‘I am grateful to R.A. Gilbert for providing me with the following information: ‘Although Waite has plagiarised the title, this projected work is clearly not the Archives mitho-hermetiques. Critiques, discussions, eclairrissements, observations, ed. Clavier du Plessis, Paris, late 18th c., which has no masonic content. Waite presumably intended to publish historical material relating to the Rite Ecossais Rectifié, which worked the grades of the Chevaliers Bienfaisant de la Cité Sainte, and into which he had been admitted in 1902 at Geneva. However, his proposed publication for 1908 fits neither the above suggestion nor the work of du Plessis.’

[29] Waite already referred to a work of this title in his The occult sciences of 1891, and promised the reader: ‘In a forthcoming “Esoteric History of Freemasonry” he will find the entire subject [of Freemasonry] exposed, with the necessary proofs, documents and available sources of knowledge.’ The Esoteric history of freemasonry was never published, but large parts of this work went into Waite’s Secret Tradition in Freemasonry, see R.A. Gilbert, ‘The masonic career of A.E. Waite’ in Ars quatuor coronatorum 99 (1986).

[30] Waite referred to this work in his Emblematic freemasonry, London 1925, 177: ‘Werner’s Sons of the valley, a dramatic poem first published in 1803 and of extraordinary importance in respect of Templar Masonry – in its development on the side of literature. Werner was a High-Grade Mason and a member of the Strict Observance, the traditional history of which is elaborated in his remarkable work’.

[31] A baffling name and title. The 17th-century French chemist Étienne de Clave, whose work was condemned by the Sorbonne in 1624, cannot have been on Waite’s mind, as his work seems anything but ‘christo-theosophical’, see Lynn Thorndike, A history of magic and experimental science, VII, 186-87, VIII, 120-21.

[32] François Du Soucy, Le vray trésor de la vie humaine, où l’on void comme il est possible de chasser les maladies sans incommoder les malades, Paris 1635, might seem a candidate for this title, but this is a work of medical alchemy – ‘experimental and physical’ in Waite’s terms, and according to his note, only the first two works fell in that category.

[33] ‘Khunrath’ for ‘Khunraph’ was one of Waite’s corrections in the proof which were overlooked by the compositor.

[34] In 1914 Waite re-stated his preference for the ‘speculative and metaphysical side of alchemy’ before the general meeting of the Alchemical Society: ‘So far as he was concerned personally é laboratory work was no part of their programme, which was rather the careful, critical and comparative study of the old texts, in the hope of decoding the most cryptic of all symbolism and thus securing an authoritative canon of distinction between records belonging to the so-called practical work and those of the mystical order, which were those only that deserved the name of practical from his point of view.’

[35] No such title is known amongst the anthologies of Böhme’s works, but Waite may have had in mind a collection like A compendious view of the grounds of the Teutonick philosophy. With considerations by way of enquiry into the subject matter, and scope of the writings of Jacob Behmen, commonly called, the Teutonick Philosopher. Also several extracts from his writings. And some words used by him explained. Published by a gentleman retired from business, London 1770.

[36] Possibly intended to be a collection of essays on mystics and mysticism similar to Waite’s Lamps of Western mysticism (1923). A preliminary essay to this work, ‘Lamps of Christian Mysticism’ was published in The Quest, Vol. 11, October 1919, 1-16. I am grateful to R.A. Gilbert for this information.

[37] The introduction to A handbook of cartomancy (London 1889) which Waite published anonymously (Gilbert B5) has an introduction entitled ‘The lesser secret sciences and the tradition therein’. ‘Astrology and the lesser secret sciences is also one of the subject areas included in Waite’s prospectus – he had not yet thought of an expert in this field, see note 12.

[38] Adam McLean pointed out in an Alchemy Academy communication that ‘The “Rosicrucian Secrets of John Dee” manuscript [Harleian Ms 6485] has nothing at all to do with John Dee, but was Smart or Rudd’s copy and paraphrase of various alchemical writings from earlier in the 17th century, some by Christopher Heydon.’