Friday, December 18, 2009

AE Waite at the Horniman

We have discussed before at Transpontine the interesting connection between the Horniman Museum and Victorian occultism, specficially the fact that Annie Horniman was a member and patron of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and that through her Order founder MacGregor Mathers and his wife Moina Bergson (sister of the philosopher -pictured) came to live on the site. WB Yeats was among those who visited and took part in magical experiments.

Another visitor was the occultist/mystic Arthur Edward Waite (1857-1942) and his wife Ada Lakeman, known as 'Lucasta'. In fact they were both initiated into the Golden Dawn in a January 1891 ceremony at the Mathers' house, Stent Lodge, in the grounds of what is now the Horniman Museum (source).

Waite (pictured)doesn't seem to have been entirely happy with the ceremonial magic of the Golden Dawn, preferring his own mystical take on esoteric Christianity. When the Golden Dawn broke up into acrimonious factions, Waite started the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross which declared that it "has no concern whatsoever in occult or psychical research, it is a Quest of Grace and not a Quest of Power”.
Waite wrote over seventy books on subjects incuding Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, the Holy Grail and the Kabbalah, but is probably best known today for his part in the creation of the Rider Waite Tarot Deck, with the cards illustrated by the artist Pamela Colman Smith under his direction.

No comments: