First edition: quarto; hardcover, with gilt lettering to the spine and upper board titles and decorations; 338pp., untrimmed pages with an engraved frontispiece (with tissue guard) and many other monochrome illustrations. Moderate to heavy wear; boards heavily rubbed and stained; mild corner-bumping; heavily foxed endpapers and title page; edges of pages tanned.Other pages are clean and securely bound.Good overall condition for the year of printing : 1911. Dimensions : 26 x 20.5 x 5 cm.
Arthur Edward Waite was born in America, and raised in England. After his sister"s death in 1874, Waite lost interest in the Roman Catholic Church, but retained a great love for its ritual ceremony (in his later associations with secret Orders he would utilize various aspects of Roman Catholicism in his own ritual constructions). Waite then began to explore alternate paths of spirituality and occultism. He started with Spiritualism, but found it not to his liking and moved on to the Theosophical Society. This he found fascinating, but disapproved of the anti-Christian bias he found in the works of H. P. Blavatsky, its leading driving force. By this time Waite was a regular reader at the Library of the British Museum, studying many branches of esotericism. It was here that he came across the writings and teachings of Eliphas Levi, and realized where his direction lay, meeting one of the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, S L MacGregor Mathers. He joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1891 and also entered the Societas Rosicruciana. He entered the Second Order of the Golden Dawn in 1899. By 1903, the original Order of the Golden Dawn had been racked by feuds, schisms and scandals, and the order finally split up into separate and independent groups. Those who remained loyal to Mathers formed the 'Order of the Alpha et Omega Temple', while Waite took over as head of the original Isis-Urania Temple. Many of the remaining Golden Dawn members stayed with Waite's group, which he renamed the Order of the Independent and Rectified Rite. Many members at this time rejected his focus on mysticism over magick, and a rival group, Stella Matutina (Morning Star), split off at the urging of poet William Butler Yeats. The Golden Dawn was torn by further internal feuding until Waite's departure in 1914, during which time he disbanded it and formed the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross. By then there existed some half-dozen offshoots from the original Golden Dawn, and as a whole it never recovered. The Book of Ceremonial Magic (originally called The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts) is an attempt to document various famous grimoires (including the Key of Solomon, the Grimorium Verum, the apocryphal Fourth Book of Cornelius Agrippa, Black Pullet, or Poulet Noir), to explain the history behind them, their theology and to synthesize these famous grimoires into one system. This book according to R A Gilbert (Waite's biographer) is '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'.