esotericism

Secrets Of The Widow’s Son * David A. Shugarts (2005 * isbn 1402728190)

I have never read The Da Vinci Code nor anything else by Dan Brown or books ‘surrounding the hype’. Still, about a year and a half ago David Shugarts started sending me emails with questions, asking my opinion about things, etc. Shugarts said that he was investigating what Dan Brown’s next novel would be about in order to come up with a Secrets Of… immediately after. Shugarts has been part of both Secrets Of The Code and Secrets Of Angels And Demons, both edited by Dan Burstein who wrote the introduction to David’s own book. The new Brown novel gets phonephoned again and again, so eventually Shugarts decided (like other people) to publish a book with his findings anyway. And so you get “the mysteries surrounding the sequel to The Da Vinci Code“.

Shugarts started investigating these subjects when his eye fell on smaller and larger mistakes in The Da Vinci Code. Also he noticed that there are codes in all of Dan Brown’s novels which may give a hint of what to come. According to Shugarts, (the meanwhile anounced) the Solomon’s Key will continue where the Code left off, with Masonic conspiracies, Illuminati and this time, the first days of the United States of America.

So while reading how Shugarts’ investigation went and why, you will read about Freemasonry, the Founding Fathers of the USA, esoteric systems such as Rosicrucianism, Kabbalah and magic and a lot about the Masonic construction of Washington. All this may surprise, or even shock, many people, but when you keep in mind that many Freemasons went to the new land during the colonisation of the continent, I find it rather logical that they used their masonic insights and symbolism in the construction of buildings and cities. Maybe many people no longer know that many of the Founding Fathers and later presidents of the USA were/are Freemasons. Shocking? At best surprising. Or of course you should believe the many conspiracy theories that Freemasons want to take over the world with their satanic ideology (the first is highly unlikely, the second downright idiotic). But of course it is nice to read about pentagrams in the map of Washington, the East-West and North-South orientation of the streets and major monuments, etc., etc. This was earlier done in The Temple And The Lodge, but I suppose The Secrets Of The Widow’s Son and especially the new Dan Brown will reach a much larger audience. Much of the information is very basis and for people who need one more step after Brown’s books. People like myself who are more familiar with some of the subjects touched upon, may raise an eyebrow here and there while reading Brown, but also while reading Shugarts. Here are a few things my eyes fell on.

1- p.50 “In 1580 [Giordano] Bruno wrote the Clavis Magna, or Great Key. It was about a mind-alteringtechnique called the Art of Memory.”
Actually there never was no Clavis Magna or it has been lost. Some scholars believe that it is a collective name for Bruno’s works on the Art of Memory.

2- Shugarts writes quite a bit about Freemasonry, but may better have started with a short history. He keeps saying that Freemasonry has no central authority. I don’t know about nowdays Freemasonry in the USA, but at the dawn of Freemasonry there indeed wasn’t much authority, but in 1717 the Grand Lodge of London was founded as umbrella organisation and until the present day a new lodge has to be recognised by the Grand Lodge in order to be ‘regular’. All ‘regular’ lodges (‘true Freemasonry’) live upto the same rules or otherwise they run the risk to be expelled. Yes, the lodges have certain freedom, but to say that there is no central authority? More even, the fact that there is ‘regular’ Freemasonry, means that there is also ‘irregular’ Freemasonry. Indeed there is, but also here are ‘grand lodges’, but for example called ‘Grand Orient’. Unfortunatly there is nothing about this in the book.

3- p. 53 “This secret order [of Rosicrucianism] hit the public mind with the publication around 1616 of the Alchemical Marriage”.
Most scholars agree that there was no Rosicrucian order, just a group of students who -in the flow of alchemy and Paracelsus of those days- wrote three manifestoes. The first of these was the Fama Fraternitatis (1614), the second the Confessio Fraternitatis (1615) and then the Chymische Hochzeit, usually translated as ‘chemical wedding’ (1616), was published. The information about the Rosicrucians on page 68/9 is better.

4- p.76 “Quakers -believe it or not- became associated with these influences [alchemy]. Always troublesome to authority, the early Quakers were unfairly accused of being a “Family of Love” sect (i.e. free lovers).”
David, do you mean what I read here? The Quakers owe a great deal to the famous alchemist Jan van Helmont and also to the founder of the strict religious movement ‘Huis der Liefde’, the Dutchman Hendrik Niclaes. Niclaes was closely related to the Antwerp printer Plantin who also printed books by Agrippa, Giordano Bruno, John Dee, Guillaume Postel and Niclaes, but it can’t be proven that they all knew eachother. Niclaes and also his follower (and later opponent) Hiel (a pseudonym for Hendrik Janszoon van Barrevelt) went to the UK early in their carreers where their writings were translated and published. The movement was for some reason not called ‘house of love’ in the UK, but ‘family of love’ or simly ‘familists’. In 1660 many familists would join the Quakers having a massive influence on their thinking.
Since the ‘Huis der Liefde’ / ‘Family of Love’ was regarded heretical (they were radically protestant) of course many things are said about them, but the word ‘love’ refers to the love of Christ and not ‘free love’ or anything like that.

5- “Jacobite (French reign of terror)”
Jacobites are British followers of the royal house of the Stuarts. In 16/17th century UK power went back and forth between Protestant (Stuarts) and Catholics (Tudors). After the famous virgin queen Elizabeth, it was time for a Catholic period, so many Protestants fled to France where came a fairly large Jacobite society. Indeed, they tried to have their influence in their home country and also in France. Also the Jacobites brought Freemasonry from the UK to the continent where it started to bloom.

6- On page 108 the writer says something about women and Freemasonry. Women couldn’t join (and still can’t in regular Masonry), but they could participate in affiliated organisations, such as the Order of the Eastern Star. I am not totally sure, but I think the Eastern Star is an American thing. Fact is that here in Europe there is both female and mixed Freemasonry, but (of course) not regular. But regular and irregular lodges often use the same building/temples, so the division is only theoretically.

7- I got a bit confused by the following, but the writer is not to blame for this. Shugarts writes “Agapa” for the letters Robert Moray’s pentagram of love, while I usually read “Agape”. The word in Greek could (should) be written in our letters as AgapÍ£, while you pronounce the last letter as a “a” in English or an “e” in Dutch, so this is mainly a confusion of languages.

8- A similar confusion is risen by the different translations that are given of the term ‘hieros gamos’ or ‘sacred marriage’, which is sometimes ‘alchemical wedding’ in the book.

9- p. 141 “the library of Alexandria”
Most people say that there were two, but indeed it seems that also many write about one.

10- “Sephiroth or angels”
The Hebrew word “sephira” means “vessel”, I have never heard it translate with “angel”. Of course it may be possible to contribute angels to the sephiroth, but then you will have to come up with ten names…

11- On page 165 Shugarts tells us a bit about Kabbalah. He uses the terms “Gra” and “Ari” for two kinds of trees of life. I had never heard of these terms! They come from Crowlegian circles it seems. I find the two trees given not the best and there are others as well.

Enough for the nagging. You shouldn’t immediately belief anything you read, even what I write may be wrong!, but I wanted to render some of my questions while I was reading. Also…
I read the book in three nights and it is 200 pages, so this proves that it reads easily. Every now and then there is a “a closer look”. I am sure that people who like The Da Vinci Code and want ‘one step higher’ will love a book like this and either or not may then continue their search. Personally I think the information is too brief and fractured, but this is because I am already quite familiar with the information. The more serious approach of the subjects than in the novels of Dan Brown may bring a new audience on the interesting field of investigation of these kinds of subjects who can take smaller steps with a book like this when they want to start searching for themselves.
All in all it is nice to read some time and German and Dutch translations are anounced to follow soon.

8/10/05 1.0
9/10/05 1.1

De Stok Van Thot * Dick Schoof (isbn 9021543559)

The writer is “a professional tarotist” and connected to the Jungean Academy of Nijmegen (Netherlands) and this is first book about the tarot. He says it is an apprehensive book on the subject and even though it is based on the Thoth Tarot of Aleister Crowley and Freide Harris, you will be able to work with any deck when you have understood this book. Still, when it is meant for beginners I find it strange that he starts with lenghty descriptions of the cards and only after over 200 pages he starts to explain some basic things. Not even the way of playing the game, but first some background information about alchemy, astrology, Egyptian mythology, numerology, Jungeon terminology, Kabbalah and the history of the tarot. These chapters are short and the Kabbalah chapter is full of mistakes (in history and interpretation), but helpfull for the rough scetches. For some reason the writer wants to originate both the Kabbalah and the Tarot in the Cathar community, a point that I much oppose to.

Schoof explains the cards nicely and he says he deals with all 1200 symbols of the complete deck. Also he made aphorisms for all cards and easy reference to the astrological connections. All this is put in an “easy finder” in the back.

There are many books bout the Crowley deck and I don’t know any of them, so unfortunately I can’t compare this one to the rest. A nice book, but I think the writer thinks a little too highly about it. It is good for reference-work.

The Tarot * Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers (isbn 0877287546)

Not a subject I have really studied so far. I have read a handfull of books about the Tarot, but mostly because of it’s links with Kabbalah though. Anyway, this is the quite famous 1888 writing by one of the early members of the Golden Dawn. Ironically enough, this book doesn’t follow the ‘Golden Dawn tarot’ but is based on the system of Eliphas Levi.

But being almost completely blank, this was actually a very nice introduction to me. The work starts with the explanation of the name, a history and some explanations. Then you are informed about the structure of a Tarot-deck, you get different names for the cards and it’s correspondences with the Hebrew alphabet (alephbeth). Then all 78 cards are shortly explained and around the end you get a few methods of laying the cards. This is also a weak side of the book: the layings are very complicated and involve all cards, while there are many simpler forms with only the more important cards.

Anyway, a nice introduction though and available online (without images), so when you were looking for something like this, just have a look at the Golden Dawn site.

Verborgen Wijsheid Van Het Sprookje + Verborgen Wijsheid Van Oude Rijmen * Mellie Uyldert

Mellie Uyldert was born in 1908 and she is still alive. Uyldert is regarded as the Netherlands’ first serious astrologer and the grandmother of the New Age. I didn’t know that when I bought these two booklets separately from eachother. Both are about “the hidden knowledge” of fairytales (first) and ancient rhymes (second). Uyldert gives a few well-known tales in the first book and explains them at length. The same she does with mostly children’s plays in the other book. Uyldert obviously has a spiritual view and she explains the original (sometimes cultic) meanings of the tales and rhymes. Herefor she uses psychology and she goes back to Northern European mythology and folklore and modern Theosophical-like (maybe Antroposophical) spirituality. This results in original and nice-to-read explanations of texts I have known since childhood, giving them a much deeper meaning and understanding. I do not always agree with the writer, sometimes she is a bit too ‘fluffy’, but especially the Nordic background of the tales and games and the natural elements (solstices, seasons, day and night, etc.) are very interesting. Some books of Uyldert are still in print, others you will have to get second hand. Besides books like this, Uyldert has written many books about astrology, herbs, spirituality, etc., etc. In some circles she is controversial for her ideas (race-theories and such), but a book like these two are not about all that.

The Wizard’s Book Of Spells * Beatrice Phillpotts (isbn 1402709528 * 2004)

The Dutch translation of this book just came out under the title “The Book Of Magicians, the world of conjurations, rituals and magical powers”. What a strange book! It is released extremely luxery. It is more than 10×10 inches in size and comes in a hard ‘pillow’ cover with very luxery printing as you can see above. The book is stuffed with images and references to Harry Potter, so when my girlfriend got a review copy we said: “ah, children’s book”. Paging through it, it proves to be not really a children’s book. I doubt Harry Potter teenagers will be able to make much sense of it. The text is too hard for them (I think) and requires some background knowlegde. Terms like “Kabbalah” or “Rosicrucians” are given without any/much information. But, when you are familiar with this matter, the book will work on your nerves, because it is stuffed with stupid mistakes and odd generalisations. Thoth and Hermes are the parents of Hermes Trismegisus (p. 20). The Corpus Hermeticum would have consisted of 42 books of which the Tabula Smaragdina is the most important (p. 20). John Dee used a “selfinvented” language called “Henoch” to summon angels (p. 22). “Members of secret magical orders, such as the Rosicrucians, conducted more and more complex rituals in the 17th and 18th century and consulted esoteric magical manuals for instructions how to conjure the most fitting demons and angels.” (p. 26). And these are just a few examples.

So, what audience would this book be meant for? I think maybe parents of Harry Potter kids and maybe also the more grown up Potter kids who want to read something after the Potter books. I wouldn’t advice this book to those kids though. Personally I think this is just something that will end up on the shell of youngsters going through their Harry Potter period and want something ‘extraordinary’ to read. But then, at Amazon, this book is $ 20,-, not cheap, but the Dutch translation costs no less than E 30,-! I think you better spend your money on Harry Potter books themselves then… This book might have been nice if the writer had done some descent research and written a bit more readable and not jump from subject to subject and write things through eachother. Some structure would have been nice. The book can appeal to an audience that seems quite large (when you see how many of the Potters are sold!), but it can at best trigger curiosity. And then the (probably) young readers will be ill-informed… I am afraid that this book will only look nice and be fun to page through, but to read…? Maybe it is not meant to be read.

Revolt Against The Modern World * Julius Evola (1995)

rivolta contra il mondo moderno * 1934

In 2002 I wrote an article about Julius Evola (1898-1974). I hadn’t read much of the man, nor did I know much about his background. It was a request, what can I say? Now that I have delved more into ”Traditionalism” I thought it was time to read one of the classics of this genre. “[…] my intend was to offer a bird’s-eye view of history” Evola writes on page 327 of this translation. This he did. Revolt Against The Modern World starts magnificently. The starting point seems to be similar to Guénon, but Evola is more clear about ‘what Traditionalism says’. He keeps talking about “the world of tradition” and what happened there and how things where looked upon. How Traditionalism can find a place in the reader’s thoughts and lifes. As the book continues it becomes clear that Evola actually doesn’t really stand on the same line as Guénon. He keeps talking about four casts instead of three (page 250 and 296 for example). On page 254 he even writes about Greece: “The tripartition, instead of the traditional quadripartition, must be explained by the presence of an aristocracy that had simultaneously a warrior and a sacred character”. Most Traditionalists follow Dumézil who discovered the tripartition in all Indo-European systems, apparently Evola didn’t agree. However this subject may be food for a discussion, I also started making notes of things in which Evola is more or less clearly wrong. This mostly concerns the Northern European myths in which I regard myself enough informed to question Evola’s remarks. Just a few examples. First small things, such as strange ways of writing, such as “mitgard”, “mjolmir”, “huelgehmir”, “donner” or “woden”, instead of Midgard, Mjölnir, Hvelgelmir, Donar and Wodan. Typos, caused by the Italian language or silly mistakes? More obvious examples then. On page 123 and 293 Evola says that the rune for Tyr is the “Y” and he describes it as “a man with raised arms”. This description refers to the Man/Elhaz rune, which is a “Y” with the ‘middle pillar’ reaching as high as the arms. This isn’t the rune for Tyr either, since the Tyr rune looks like an arrow pointing upwards. On page 191 Evola says that Asgard is located in Midgard. The abode of the gods and fallen warriors on the plain of mankind?!? I came to much different conclusions in my article about this subject. “Odin, the king of the Aesir, falls, and Vidar himself, who succeeded in killing the wolf Fenrir, falls victim to its poison”. Now that is a sloppy summary of the Ragnarok (about which word Evola also has alternative interpretations)!! In fact, Odin falls fighting the wolf Fenrir, and Vidar, his son fights the wolf, who gets away. Thor fights the Midgardsnake and kills it, only to be killed himself by its poison (that of the snake, not of the wolf of course). Just a few examples that I noted down. I liked Evola’s references to the Northern European myths, but when in every reference there is a mistake, he might have thought twice if he wanted to include them. Such things immediately make me wonder how accurate the rest is. For the rest a few surprises (or not). Evola is not-done, because was a fascist and a racist. Reading this most notorious book, I can’t help noticing his critique on nationalism (ch.36), racism, fascism, Nietzsche and his Übermensch (p.362) the neopaganism of the Nazis (p.362), etc. It is only too easy to blackmail the writer without taking notice of his side-notes. Also he seems to be quite critical about Guénons notice that Catholicism is our only hope to return to the true Tradition. He doesn’t mention Guénon, but the subject of Evola’s conclusion is clear.
Like I said, Evola wanted to give a history of the world. He starts with the doctrine of the ages of the Hindus and other Indo-European peoples. The world is in decline, especially the West. Evola gives detailed descriptions of different periods. Too detailed and as the book continues, the structure and information becomes rather boring and the book even starts to remind of for example Blavatsky or Steiner with their ‘prophetic’ stories of times past.
Revolt Against The Modern World is a nice book. It opens wonderfully, has some thought-provoking thoughts and good explanations, but there are large parts of a completely different level. Evola proves himself to be no ‘member’ of the Traditionalist school (in my eyes) and a not too gifted writer in some parts. I can understand why Evola is more popular than for example Guénon under ‘young radicals’. His writing is more accessible, clearer, easier to put on our own day and time, political instead of religious, but personally I can no longer deny that Evola was a mediocre writer with mostly second-hand (and sometimes badly understood) ideas, writing in a bit too popular fashion. Mind you, the book is certainly worth a read, I would even say an obliged read for people interested in Traditionalism. Some ideas and hypotheses are explained well. Keep big reserves though! To people who adore Evola I would say, be sure to also read a few books of ‘real Traditionalist’, such as the books you can find in my Traditionalist book reviews and don’t take everything that Evola writes for granted.
(1/7/06 -3-)
Read quotes of Evola here.

Symbols Of Sacred Science * René Guénon (2004)

symboles fondamentaux de la science sacrée 1961

This is a book that was published post-mortem, containing 75 articles in four different periodicals between the years 1926 and 1950. I ran into this book on the internet when I was writing an article and because yet another ‘Traditionalist clue’ came to me, an interest to deep into this current deeper was awoken within me. This book by Guénon is no easy read. To start with this is the first book of Guénon that I read. Maybe a Crisis Of The Modern World may have been a better starter, but things just didn’t go that way. The book opens with a magnificent article The Reform Of The Modern Mentality from which I quote opening my article about Traditionalism. Then follow a great many chapters explaining symbols, but this sounds a bit different from what you may expect. A few chapter-titles to illustrate what I mean: “The Sacred Heart and the Legend of the Holy Grail”, “The Language of the Birds”, “The Guardians of the Holy Land”, “Some Aspects of the Symbolism of the Fish”, “The Solstitial Gates” and “The Roots of Plants”. A ‘symbol’ can be a theme from mythology, a character in a story, a ‘visual symbol’ such as the Swastika, etc. Guénon really pierces through the surface of superficial explanations giving information of a whole lot of traditions, comparing, cross-referring and putting them against the other. The writer seems to suppose that the writers of the periodicals are well-informed in different traditions, giving Islamic or Hindu terms without (much) explanation. Fortunately I didn’t run into anything that I really never heard about, but I can imagine that people who haven’t different religions and traditions much, may need some kind of reference. Two points of comment about the book is that there could have been more images. Guénon often describes a symbol, but I would have been easier to just show it. Further there are many and lenghty notes which really do not help the well-readedness. Other than that, the English is clear, but Guénon had a very peculiar way of putting things, which undoubtely broke the minds of the translations often. Symbols Of Sacred Science is a book that keeps being of use. Many symbolisms come back in different chapters. This reduces the value of the book for reference purposes a bit maybe, but on the other hand, it becomes a bit of a learning book to get in ‘the Traditionalist way of thinking’. The publisher Fons Vitae has many more translations of Guénon (and also of other Traditionalist writers). This title is supposedly Guenon’s most important symbolism book, while Symbols Of Sacred Science is his most important metaphysical book.
(18/3/06 -4-)
Read quotes of Guénon here.

sophia perennis 2004 * isbn 0900588772

Perspectives On Initiation * René Guénon (2004)

aperçus sur l’initiation 1946

In 48 short chapters, Guénon writes about (almost) every imaginable aspect of initiation. This book is very ‘Traditionalistic’ and Guénon keeps stressing the ‘authenticity’ or ‘regularity’ of initiatic movements. In the West he recognises only two: Freemasonry and the Compagnonnage (articles about both can be found in the articles-section). He is extremely strict about the ‘unbroken link’ since time immemorial and the fact that initiation is the transmission of ‘something spiritual’ (not ‘knowledge’ or ‘secret symbols’ or anything like that) that has been transmitted since the dawn of men by and to people worthy. All the rest are pseudo-esoteric groups, reversed- or counter-initiators, frauds and swindlers. Guénon is very harsch particularly to movements that were popular in his time, such as the Theosophical and Antroposophical Societies, neo-Rosicrucian movements, etc. Also he is quite critical about Freemasonry, but he thinks that Traditionalism and the elimination of ‘extras’ that were added during the course of time can save it. One thing about Guénon is that he keeps saying what is not ‘it’, what is wrong, who (however he seldom gives names or booktitles) are frauds, etc., but that (besides references to some currents, such as Freemasonry, the Compagnonnage, vague references to Islamic esoteric groups) you will not really learn what he really finds genuine and worthy. Aperçus reads in this regard a bit like Words To The Wise of Manly P. Hall (reviewed elsewhere) who wants to teach his readers how to recognise the frauds. Still chapter 5 is called “conditions for initiation”, chapter 10 “initiatic centers”, but do not expect a nice list with demands. I liked (and understood) the book better than when I first read it, and I can recommend it to anyone seriously interested in the subject or member of or looking for a so-called ‘initiatic organisation’. Aperçus is certainly no light literature and Guénon will definitely offend some people. Also he seemed to jump to conclusions a bit too rapidly, still have been very strict (not changing his conclusions easily) and not always too accurate. But of course Guénon was the primal Traditionalist, a man of massive knowledge and most of all experience so his works (and also this one) are of extremely high value.
(3/5/06 -3-)
Read quotes of Guénon here.
2004 sophia perennis * isbn 0900588322

The Hermetic Tradition * Julius Evola (1995)

la tradizione ermetica 1931/1971

Five years ago I was asked to write an article about Julius Evola. Because of the music that I listen to, I was aware of ‘new right’ thinkers (but never read them), including Evola. I did some investigation and Evola became my first acquintance with Traditionalism. I didn’t quite grasp the implications of this way of thinking it seems when I look back to my review of that time. Now that I am rereading the book I better appreciate what Evola has done. He writes a Traditionalist book, but his Tradition is Alchemy (the Royal Art that he calls The Hermetic Tradition) and this became a Traditionalist book with an alchemical starting point, such as there are Traditionalist books with Hindu or Islamic starting points. Evola was acquinted with René Guénon who is regarded the grandfather of the Traditionalist school and Guénon did not agree with everything Evola writes, including the notion of the Hermetic sophia perennis. You can wonder if Evola can truely be regarded as a Traditionalist, but on the other hand, is Guénon the criterion for Traditionalism? Evola truely believed that that perennial knowledge was of alchemical origin and this book speaks about alchemy tracing the symbolism back to the dawn of men. A nice read, in my opinion not “among the clearest works on alchemy every written” (as the backcover suggests), but a very interesting text from a Traditional point of view. And here follows my 2001 review:

“The Hermetic Tradition” is not the first book that most people think off when thinking of Julius Evola (1898-1974). Of course his “Revolt Against The Modern World” (first published 1934, first English version in 1995) is his best-known and most controversial work. But let us not forget the many non-political books that Evola wrote in his time.
“La Tradizione Ermetica” was first published in 1931 in Bari, Italy and reprinted by the same publisher in 1948. After quite a while, Evola rewrote the book and published the new version for the first time in 1971. It was reprinted two more times in the original language. The first translation was (as with many of Evola’s books) in French in 1965. Piere Pascal was a good French friend of Evola who translated several of his works to French. France had three reprints of “La Tradition Hermetique”. Later there were two Spanish (1975 and 1979) and two German (1989 and 1990) translations/printings and it took as long as until 1994 that for the first time, this book was made available in English. This is the book subject to this review.

First, notion should be made of the way Evola used the expression “Hermetic Tradition”. For him it was a synomymous term to “alchemy”, but not in the way of the predecessor of modern science. Evola’s preface starts with the following lines: “In the present work we shall use the expression “hermetic tradition” in a special sence that the Middle Ages and the Renaissance gave it. It will not refer to the ancient Greco-Egyptian cult of Hermes, nor will it refer solely to the teachings comprising the Alexandrian texts of the Corpus Hermeticum. In the particular sence we shall use it, hermeticism is directly concerned with the alchemical tradition, and it is the hermetico-alchemical tradition that will be the object of our study.” Furtheron Evola says: “we must draw attention to the error of those historians of science who want to reduce alchemy to mere chemistry in an infantile and mythological stage.”

The book is a fairly thin one (only just more than 200 pages) partioned in two parts and 51 short chapters. It is not as much a book about Hermeticism, but a Hermetic book. Many traditional ideas pass the revue, symbols and teachings are explained and indeed Evola managed to make things pretty clear. In contradiction to nowadays books about Hermeticism, there are only a handfull of quotes from the “Corpus Hermeticum” and I don’t think Evola quoted the “Asclepius” (for example) even once. Books and writers that are quoted a lot are Agrippa and especially his “De Occulta Philosophia” (1533); Jacob Boehme, in particular “Aurora” (17th cent); Valentine’s “Bibliotheca Chemica Curiosa” (1702); Berthelot’s “Collection des anciens alchimestes grecques” (1887) and “La chimie au moyen-Í¢ge” (1893), but also a great many other books, modern and traditional, western and eastern.

All in all a nice little book. I didn’t find too much new things, but at least a couple and some different visions of some symbolism and teachings. The translation is well-done and quite easy to read and based on the 1971 first publishing of the new edition of this book.
(10/11/01)
Read quotes of Evola here.

Noord-Europese Mysteriën en hun sporen tot heden * F.E. Farwerck (Ankh-Hermes 1970 (1978 2nd print))

A while ago my eye fell on the back of this book when I visited a second-hand bookshop and passed a section that I normally don’t check out. I don’t believe I knew this book, but paging through it I already found it interesting enough to pay a relatively high price for it. “Northern-European Mysteries and their sources to the present” is a massive book of 650 pages in a very small fonttype, but with quite a lot of images. As the title suggests, it speaks about mystery-cults of Northern Europe. Of course we know about mystery religions from ancient Greece, the Middle East and northern Africa, but northern Europe? Naturally the writer speaks about Scandinavian, German and some Celtic mythology and religion and gives the little information that we have that point towards mystery-practises in these traditions. Doing this you will read a lot about folklore in the countries of the European north, Northern mythology and the like. When focussing on the religious and mystery-practises, Farwerck shows how reminiscenes of these can be found in more recent times upto the present day. This is interesting enough, but more interesting it becomes when Farwerck treats Freemasonry as the natural descendant of mysteries of Northern Europe and follows the known Masonic practises back into the past. Very interesting and this book is truely a standard-work with tons of notes for even more (detailed) information.

When I was already reading the book, I read that Farwerck had ‘spoiled past’ and some further investigation proved that he was one of the big cheeses of the NSB, the Dutch nazi-party in WWII. Farwerck was the person who wanted to replace Christianity by the ancient religion of the North. Not that you will notice much of this past in this book, but just so you know.

This review must have been written in 2002 or 2003. The date below is from when I changed from an html website to WordPress.