traditionalism

Tyr journal volume 3

Tyr 3Even though Amazon hasn’t received new copies yet, the journal’s website isn’t updated, the Wikipedia page doesn’t say anything, I am not kidding Tyr journal 3 is available!! Our always up to date tradionalist Ensio Kataja mentioned it is a post of his, so started to search and search, tried the ‘second hand’ sellors at Amazon, but they don’t ship to Europe, so in the end I decided to just send an email to the publisher. A swift reply, a Paypal payment and a few weeks of waiting and since today I am the very happy owner of a copy. No cd this time, but a massive journal of 530 pages with a lot of articles. The “editorial preface” sets the tone with a very critical text about modern society, but when I started to read the first article about “affluenza” by Thomas Naylor, there is little that can go wrong with this newest issue. Naylor puts a fist in the face of the American way of living (and it also applies to Europe). Just a random quote:

Like most Americans, are you spending more and enjoying it less? Do you kids still say, “We’re bored. What can we do?” even though their playthings include lots of sports equipment, expensive mountain bikes, a laptop computer, a cell phone, the latest video games, and a room full of high-tech musical and video toys? Not content with your new Honda, don’t you have your eye on a BMW or possibly a gas-guzzling Hummer? After skiing at Stowe, will your family accept anything less than Aspen or Whistler? And aren’t you planning a vacation in Europe next summer? And maybe a second home?

Other subjects include Perenialism, Traditionalism (and the radical form of course), paganism, music, books, etc., etc.

Send your email to elecampane at bellshouth.net to get yourself a copy or just wait until it is available more easily.

[edit 20/2/08] Ultra now has a website!

Introduction To The Study Of The Hindu Doctrines * René Guénon (2004)

Guenon Hindu Doctrines

introduction générale Í  l’étude des doctrines hindoues (1921)

This is the first book that Guénon wrote, he was 35 years at the time, yet, it already has Guénon’s scornful writing style. The larger part of the book hardly lives up to the title. It is more an exposition of metaphysics with many references to other-than-Hindu Eastern religions including Chinese and near-Eastern. This is interesting in itself, but it takes to the short part three that you will learn something about Hindu doctrines and here Guénon actually only writes about the Darshanas. The book is closed with harsh attacks on Western scholars on oriental religions, Western mentality in general and “pseudo esotericists” dealing with Eastern doctrines such as the Theosophical Society. Introduction To The Study Of The Hindu Doctrines is even for a Guénon book not an easy read. He writes very lengthy, indirect and in the for him typical tone. This book does indeed makes much of a basis for his later “Traditionalist” writings and learns you a bit on Hinduism and how it is portrayed in the West and I always enjoy the writer’s criticism on the West, so it is not really a bad buy.
-2-
Read quotes of Guénon here.

Initiation & Spiritual Realization * René Guénon (2004)

initiation et réalisation spirituelle 1952

On his deathbed, Guénon gave instructions for a compilation of articles that together would form a good supplement to the book Aperçus sur l’Initiation (Perspective on Initiation). That book was the first that I read of Guénon and is it one of the most difficult and most difficult to read. Now none of Guénon’s book are easy to read and I have also often said that Guénon is very good at saying what is not ‘it’, the preface of Initiation & Spiritual Realization promises a more practical and in depth book. Very promising indeed! I can tell you, this book still is no guideline or manual for those wanting to walk the path of “initiation and spiritual realization”, Guénon remained Guénon. On the other hand, it is also true that of all his books (that I have read so far), this is the most practical book and is also the one book in which the writer vaguely hints towards what ‘it’ is. You will read about gurus and upagurus, tue and false spiritual teachers, iniatic affiliation, the sacred and the profane, the initiatic degrees, the necessity of traditional exotericism and much, much more. There are 32 chapters/essays (in 208 pages). In most texts Guénon (further) explains very specific concepts that are misunderstood. Still, you really have to read between the lines to make the information of practical use. In this book Guénon does dive into the deep and the reader that is ready for it, will probably find this his most ‘workable’ book. I would advice to no start with this book if you never read Guénon though. The Crisis of the Modern World is a better starter, maybe The King of the World and then perhaps a book such as this one.
(28/4/07 -4-)
Read quotes of Guénon here.

The Door In The Sky * Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy (1997 princeton university press * isbn 0691017476)

Another compilation of texts by A.K. Coomaraswamy compiled and introduced by his son Rama Coomaraswamy. This time “on myth and meaning”. Like in the other book there are very interesting articles and articles which are just a nice read. Coomaraswamy tends to write too lengthy and treading too many sidepaths sometimes. The introduction by Rama Coomaraswamy is again a nice one. Also the opening article “Myth And Mind” is magnificent. Towards the end there is an article “Literary Symbolism” which is also a great read. For the rest there is a lot about Coomaraswamy’s pet topic, modern ‘art’ in comparison to traditional art.
Coomaraswamy was a traditionalist with an oriental background, but he studied so much Eastern and Western literature that he makes a lot of cross-references which is highly interesting. Not the easiest literature, but a must-read if you are interested in the traditionalist worldview, comperative religions and symbolism.
(21/2/07 -3-)
Read quotes of Coomaraswamy here.

The King Of The World * René Guénon (2004)

le roi du monde 1927

This is one of the earlier books by Guénon and a thin one too. Only just over 100 pages and I read it in not even two hours. This may be due to the fact that I read an unpublished Dutch translation, but also it seems to me that this book is written in a much easier style than for example The Reign Of Quanity & The Sign Of Times. This book may be a good first title to read of this famous French “traditionalist”. Guéon starts with mentioning books by Ferdinand Ossendowski and Saint-Yves d’Alveydre which speak about the subterranean kingdom called Agarttha and the ‘king of the world’ ruling it. This is the starting point of 12 chapters with comparative symbology about for example “Shekinah and Metatron”, the Grail, “Melki-Tsedeq”, Luz, “The Omphalos and Sacred Stones”, to work towards “names and symbolic representations of spiritual centers” and “location of spiritual centers”. The King Of The World doesn’t have the negative tone of other of Guénon’s works, but also not the frequent and clear referrals to ‘the crisis of the modern world’ and the ‘sophia perennis’, but of course, these are also present. So in my opinion with this short book you will get a nice idea (and maybe even a ‘light version’) of what the writings of Guénon are about. Informative, written from a very distinct starting point and with information from a wide variety of religions and traditions.
(14/4/06 -4-)
Read quotes of Guénon here.
2004 sophia perennis * isbn 0900588543

The Crisis Of The Modern World * René Guénon (2004)

la crise du monde moderne 1927

This is not only Guénon’s most famous book, but also the first one that you have to read of him. It is only 116 pages, it is written (especially in the first half) very clearly without too much of his extensive sidepaths and descriptions (he does fall back on this a bit in the second half though). The book is clear of structure, gives the writer’s Traditional views quite clearly and even works towards a chapter with solutions of the “Crisis Of The Modern World”.
There are nine chapters, starting with “The Dark Age”. This does not refer to the Middle Ages, but to our own day and time, the “Kali Yuga” in which especially the Western part of mankind has drifted away from the ‘Primordial Tradition’ and fallen into an a-religious and extremely materialistic worldview. There is an obvious “Opposition Between East And West”, but I am happy for Guénon that he didn’t live to see the situation of nowadays with the ‘booming economies’ of the East. The Western man has lost its ability to understand the true mind of the East (and its own Traditional mind) and the difference between sacred and profane. This leads to “Individualism”, not in the meaning “living alone”, but especially in the meaning of seeing nothing higher than than the self. “The Social Chaos” and “Material Civilization” have their effect on the East to (“Western Encroachment”), because the West forcefully spreads its ideology (I can’t help thinking of the current situation in the near East when reading this), but also because economics have awakened the worst in some Eastern people. Guénon ends with “Some Conclusions” even with something vaguely referring to a ‘solution’. He is of the opinion that there are no links with the Primordial Tradition in the West save for the Catholic Church. The West should reinstall (with the help of the East) an “intellectual” (and this means the “higher intellect”) “elite” who will reform the Catholic Church (‘innerly’, not outerly) and bring back the Traditional spirit into the West.
I do not agree with everything that Guénon has to say, but in most cases he is very right and this little book is the perfect introduction to his thinking and the “Traditionalist School” and brings enough food for thought.
2004 sophia perennis * isbn 0900588241

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 Reign Of Quantity & The Sign Of Times * René Guénon (2004)

la règne de la quantité et les signe des temps 1945

Guénon wrote a lot of books about a lot of subjects. The recently reviewed Symbols Of Sacred Science is regarded Guénon’s primary book about symbolism, The Reign Of Quantity is regarded his primary metaphysical book. Indeed, the first part of the book is very and very literary meta-physical, but the title of the book has two parts. The book speaks about how the modern man came to regard quantity more valuable than quality (the is ‘the sign of our time’) and during the course of the book, Guénon speaks about this and the results of it. The book is quite a difficult read. Not only the English is pretty ‘high-flying’ (I suppose the original France was too), but the subjects often are too. Just a few of the 40 chapter titles: “Spatial Quantity and Qualified Space”, “The Qualitative Determinations of Time”, “The Illusion of ‘Ordinary Life'”, “The Degeneration of Coinage”, “The Successive Stages in Anti-Traditional Action” and then Guénon goes on with a few subjects that still appeal to many: “Neo-Spiritualism”, “The Misdeeds of Psychoanalysis”, “The Confusion of the Psychic and the Spiritual”, concluding with chapters about “Pseudo-Initiation” (and ‘counter-initiation’), “From Anti-Tradition to Counter-Tradition” and “The Great Parody: or Spirituality Inverted”. Like with Perspectives On Initiation, I get the feeling that Guénon keeps telling what is not ‘it’, but he doesn’t really say what ‘it’ is. Also I don’t always understand what he means or where he is going to. He does have a point on most cases, but I sometimes get lost. This is due to the language, long sentences and paragraphs. Not the best book to start with if you never read Guénon I think, maybe it was even a bit too soon for me to read. There are many things to think about, but not really answers or ‘solutions’, just many many questions. (9/4/06 -3-)
Read quotes of Guénon here.
sophia perennis 2004 * isbn 0900588675