The Mysteries of Magic: A Digest of the Writings of Éliphas Lévi by A. E. Waite


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Chicago: De Laurence, Scott & Co., 1909. First American edition, Revised and Enlarged. 544 pages. Original red cloth decorated with gilt pentagram, gilt titles to spine. Frontispiece portrait photograph of L. W. de Laurence with tissue guards, publishers original stickers present. Preliminaries printed in red and black. Light shelf-wear to edges, boards marked to the extremities, a small number of short pencil annotations neatly beside text, an exceptional example of this scarce work. Near-fine copy.

The Mysteries of Magic: A Digest of the Writings of Éliphas Lévi. With Biographical and Critical essay by Arthur Edward Waite.

Arthur Edward Waite's pioneering collection of Éliphas Levi's works in translation, the first significant publication of his work in English. After acquiring a copy of Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, Waite began work on an translation, he thought an anthology of Lévi's writings based on these
translations would make a good book. After collaborating with publisher George Redway, they released The Mysteries of Magic in 1886. After extensive revisions adding new material from Lévi's minor works and his Paradoxes of the Highest Science, a second edition was published in 1887, of which this a reprint.
'The book drew the attention of L. W. de Laurence (1868 - 1936), an author and publisher of occult literature, who was also a prolific pirate and plagiarist. Laurence was known for taking other people's work and reissuing it under his own name. According to Gilbert, Waite's translation of Levi was too well known for de Laurence to get away with publishing it as his own work; so instead he confined himself to stating that he had arranged "for its Publication in Its Present form".' (Weiser Antiquarian.)

Arthur Edward Waite 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. 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." Waite was a sporadic member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Éliphas Lévi (1810-1875), born Alphonse Louis Constant, was a French occult author, socialist, and ceremonial magician. Lévi exerted a profound influence on those who would follow: the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Helena Blavatsky, Aleister Crowley and many more.