A.E. Waite’s Second Tarot: the Waite-Trinick Deck

First, my thanks to Dr. Emily Auger for chairing the Tarot and Divination group at the Pop Culture Association of America conference (here’s a link to her Valleyhome Books page on lulu.com). She’s been doing this for over fifteen years; this was only my third year presenting.

In the course of talking, she made a reference to something I had never heard about. If you’ve done any work with the Tarot, you will be aware of the significance of the Waite-Smith deck. Even if you use a completely different set of cards, this Waite-Smith remains one of the Ur sources of modern decks (no offense to the Thoth deck by Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris).

So I was completely taken aback when she mentioned Waite’s second deck. It turns out that while there is a book published on the topic, Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin’s Abiding in the Sanctuary: The Waite-Trinick Tarot, a Christian Mystical Tarot (1917 – 1923) (with a preface by Mary K. Greer), it was only printed in a limited run (250 copies), back in 2011.

In other words, if you find a copy, snag it.

However, through their work, there are 44 images available for free at the British Museum’s website.

Apparently, this was Waite’s attempt to bring the Tarot more directly into line with the Kabbalah, specifically the Tree of Life, and his own Christian convictions, though he later disavowed any attempts to unite the the Tree with the Major Arcana.

The Tree of Life, an engraving by Athanasius Kircher, published in his Œdipus Ægyptiacus, 1652.

This time around, his artist of choice was John Trinick, an Australian who lived in England for much of his youth. One of Trinick’s primary mediums was stained glass; here is an example of his work:

John Trinick, Salmestone Grange Chapel, Margate c. 1950

While most of his work was ‘mainstream’ Christian in nature, he studied Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry as well. He also wrote, publishing a book of poems called Dead Sanctuary in 1922, and The Fire Tried Stone, a work on Carl Jung, in 1967.


So, back to the Tarot:

It was designed for private use by members of Waite’s post Golden Dawn group, The Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, which dumped the magical elements of the Golden Dawn in favor of Christian Mysticism (his arch-enemy in the Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley, would go in the opposite direction, eventually creating Thelema, a religion/philosophy that was definitely Magic(k)al, and definitely not Christian).

[Note: Crowley preferred the term Magick over magic, to differentiate between Occult operations and stage illusions].

While a few photocopied remains of the Waite-Trinick deck survived, the originals were considered lost – the closest facsimiles being in Ronald Decker and Michael Dummett’s book, A History of the Occult Tarot.

Tali Goodwin found a copy of the cards on e-bay, remembered seeing them in Decker and Dummett’s History, and proceeded to track down Trinick’s surviving family, who were still in possession of  the originals…


Some Samples From the Waite-Trinick Deck:

trinick world
The World
trinick world 2
The World
trinick tower 2
The Tower
trinick tower
The Tower
trinick lovers
The Lovers
trinick devil
The Devil

What does this all mean?

Perhaps that the Journey is ongoing. Waite, with the help of Pamela Coleman-Smith, made a revolutionary contribution to how future generations would see and understand the tarot, but he wasn’t done.

And so he reinvented; and he didn’t stop with this deck, either. He had his eyes set on Celtic mythology, as well, but we’ll get there later.

In the meantime, enjoy these images from a tarot that was never made public, one that is mostly forgotten to history.

And maybe, just maybe, a deck whose time is yet to come…

Waite-Smith (1910) Star Card next to the Etteilla Star (1791).


4 thoughts on “A.E. Waite’s Second Tarot: the Waite-Trinick Deck

  1. Yes, a wonderful deck. I use his original deck and then read with the Trinick Deck – size A4 and A5 – I have had wonderful results – I describe the second deck as ethereal.

    Liked by 1 person

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