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Julius Evola

Introduction to Magic, volume III – Julius Evola (editor) (2021)

The third and last part of the translation of Evola’s republication of the UR and KRUR magazine essays. This time no lengthy and interesting introduction about the Italian ‘Hermetic scene’. This last volume just got a short introduction and then goes to the texts.

Just as in the previous volume we go from Alchemy to magic to ancient and Renaissance philosophy, Eastern ways of thinking and also commentaries about then contemporary new currents in New Age and psychology.

In this last volume we see more clearly Evola setting himself against Guénon. He is critical about Guénon’s views on Freemasonry and the most interesting text in this volume is Evola’s lengthy and detailed commentaries on the ideas of Guénon.

There is also a text of Giuliano Kremmerz (1861–1930) through which the UR group clearly aligns itself with the Italian ‘Hermetic current’.

Just as in the previous two volumes there are texts that interest me more than others. Overall there are but a few really interesting texts, but in general the three volumes of Introduction to Magic give a good idea of the esotericism of the circle in which Evola moved.

2021 Inner Traditions, isbn 1620557193

Introduction to Magic, volume II – Julius Evola (editor) (2019)

Evola himself compiled the texts of the journals UR and KRUR, wrote an introduction, elucidates on some texts, etc. In 2001 the first volume of English translations of these compilations was published and apparently only in 2019 volume II saw the light of day.

Again I find the introduction the most interesting part of the book. This time it was written by Hans Thomas Hakl who just like Renate Del Ponte in volume I gives an overview of esoteric and occult circles in Italy up to and after the UR and KRUR group. Del Ponte proves to be one of the heirs of these groups.

Volume II seems to be a bit more theoretical than volume I, but also here there are translated alchemical texts and magical instructions. A few of the texts are fairly interesting, several are not entirely my cup of tea. There is a great variety in subjects, so when your interests are esoterically broad, there might be some nice reading material here.
It is a bit of a sad conclusion that I enjoy reading about esotericists more than I do reading what they had to say.

Volume III was published in 2021 and there is now also a book that contains all volumes.

2019 Inner Traditions, isbn 1620557177

Introduction To Magic – Julius Evola (2001)

I have known about this book for a long time, bu due to the subject, it was not high on my wish list. Only recently did I realise that this is not a book by Julius Evola, but these are actually texts from the UR and KRUR magazines from the magical group that Evola was involved in early in his life. Actually, there is much more material, so this book is actually volume 1 of 3 and written by “Julius Evola and the Ur group.

Evola himself compiled the texts from the periodicals into a book. He introduced, edited and annotated the texts. This work has been available in Italian since 1971.

I found the introduction by the original editor Renate Del Ponte the most interesting part of the book. The author sketches the occult scene in Italy in Evola’s time and thus introduces the (KR)UR group. The authors wanted to remain anonymous and used pseudonyms, but Del Ponte identified most of them. A varied group. Evola used different pseudonyms.

Among the texts Evola’s are not only recognisable, but also the most interesting to me. They are more esoteric and somewhat Traditionalist than many of the other texts which are often practical magical texts. As interesting as I find people experimenting that way, as little interesting I find it to read about magical operations.

The book goes from -as mentioned- practical magical exercises and rituals, to translations of texts (alchemical, philosophical), initiation, ancient cultures and what not. Very varied indeed. Not all texts are equally interesting to me.

I am not yet sure if I am interested in the other two volumes. Supposedly they contain translations of old texts and other material not necessarily written by the members of the UR group.

So not your typical Evola work!

2001 Inner Traditions, isbn 0892816244

The Mystery Of The Grail * Julius Evola (1994/7)

Well, this is a different kind of book of our Italian thinker. Quite like in the book of Koenraad Logghe (1997), we have here a Traditionalistic approach to the grail legends. Evola compares the grail stories to several mythologies, sometimes the same as Logghe. Evola also finds initiation symbolism in the stories, but he traces the sources further back. This comparitive method makes quite a nice read and however I cannot follow the author all the time, he makes some interesting points. Towards the end the grail stories start to make up less and less of the text and Evola passes through Hermeticism and Rosicrucians to Ghibellism, a subject that pops up in more of his works. He also sets out against Guénon and his ideas about Freemasonry and thus suddenly ends a book about the grail with a lot lot of different paths.
Overall the books make a nice read, but I have the idea that Evola lost structure and felt the need to tread different sidepaths all at the end of the book. He once more shows himself an interesting thinker, but in several opinions, Evola runs off wildly from my own ideas. No worries of course, Evola has more sides that I do not follow him with.
1996 Inner Traditions, isbn 0892815736

The Path Of Cinnabar * Julius Evola (1963/2009)

I was looking what to read and had to think of Evola. After looking around a bit, I opted for the book that the translator has subtitled “an intellectual autobiography”. What a great book! I have read several books of this controversial author and many years ago I even wrote a biography of the man, but like the man says several times in his book: this is the ultimate guide to his ouevre.
Evola lived from 1898 to 1974. He wrote Il Cammino del Cinabro when he thought it was time to look back at his life and work, especially the latter. By the time Evola started to work on this autobiography, his popularity started to rise after a couple of decades of being almost totally ignored. Therefor he thought it high time to put his works in perspective and to create some sort of guidance for his new readership. Now, over 50 years later, The Path of Cinnabar is still very much fitted for that!
The book starts as a relatively normal biography. Evola did not want to write about himself, but about his ideas, but of course he has to add some personal notes here and there. Early in the book he writes about his Catholic upbringing, his break and the way he looked towards Catholicism afterwards. This is pretty much like my own story, but Evola articulates his story a lot better than I could have. From his anarchistic and artistic period, to his encounter with Eastern thought and occultism, Evola is very open about the development of his thinking. What is more, he is also very open about what he wrote at the time and how he looks at his ideas of the time when he wrote The Path of Cinnabar. This is particularly revealing when he comes to his political ideas and how these developped. Those parts also bring perspective to the most common objections agains Evola, but will also confirm some ideas of his enemies.
Regardless Evola the politician, I find the total overview of the development of his philosophy very interesting, particularly when he comes to his agreements and disagreements with René Guénon. Quite surprisingly on a couple of occasions I tend to prefer Evola’s approach to that of Guénon (but not always). Some parts (especially his philosophical phase) are not as interesting as the rest, but the larger part is great reading.
Indeed a work that cannot be missed by Evola’s followers and his enemies and it definately fullfills the function that it was written for: explaining and framing the works of Julius Evola that he produced in more than five decades. What makes the book even better: Evola proves himself a great writer and the translator turned his book into a wonderfull text in English.
1963/2010 Arktos Media, isbn 1907166025

The Doctrine Of Awakening * Julius Evola (1943/1996)

I ran into a free ebook version of this book in the webstore of my ereader’s manufacturer. The version that I have is a pretty badly converted PDF to ebook with notes in the middle of the text (below the pages in the PDF no doubt) and badly converted text with replaced characters (“dtmd” for “atma” for example) and messed-up formatting. Oh well, it is free…

Evola speaks about “the ‘Doctrine of Awakening,” that is to say, Buddhism” (p. 18). He bases himself on the oldest texts which are Pali:

The term Buddhism is derived from the Pali designation Buddha (Sanskrit: Buddha) given to its founder; it is, however, not so much a name as a title. Buddha, from the root budh, “to awaken,” means the “Awakened One”: it is thus a designation applied to one who attains the spiritual realization, likened to an “arousing” or to an “awakening,” which Prince Siddhattha announced to the Indo-Aryan world. Buddhism, in its original form-the so-called Pali Buddhism-shows us, as do very few other doctrines, the characteristics we want: (1) it contains a complete ascetic system; (2) it is universally valid and it is realistic; (3) it is purely Aryan in spirit; (4) it is accessible in the general conditions of the historical cycle to which present-day humankind also belongs. (p. 17)

In this way Evola argues that Buddhism is originally a warrior religion:

Only in certain Western misconceptions is Buddhism —considered in later and corrupted forms- presented as a doctrine of universal compassion encouraging humanitarianism and democratic equality. (p. 48)

Fortunately “The Doctrine Of Awaking” does not get any more ‘political’ than this. Actually, it is something of a spiritual handbook with many quotes, references, thoughts of the author and information about Buddhism in its different forms. Especially the closing part about Zen Buddhism is very nice. Actually I found the book more enjoyable than I expected and especially because I ran into it quite by accident, this was a nice surprise.
1943 /1996 Inner Traditions, isbn 0892815531

Ride The Tiger * Julius Evola (2003)

Cavalcare La Tigre

This translation of the famous Cavalcare la Tigre (1961) is from noone less than Joscelyn Godwin (1945-) the famous scholar on paganism, music and Renaissance occultism. The name of Godwin might remove the sharp edges of this book, which is a good thing in my opinion. The translation is very well readable and Evola’s writings are again an interesting read. I might not agree with several things Evola says and in this book he proves why I do not really regard the man as a Traditionalist, but the nice thing about Evola is that he is practical. The things he describes are recognisable, the things he suggests can often be worked on yourself. Also in several regards he is less pessimistic as Guénon and takes the situation for what it is. This “situation” is of course the degenerate state of modern society and it is exactly that which Evola writes about. Sometimes I find him a bit too down-to-earth. Chapter after chapter is dedicated to proving philosophers and more particularly existentialists wrong, while the note that philosophers work on another level than metaphysicians would have been enough for me. I do not need this philosophising that I cannot follow anyway. What concerns me what lays beyond that sphere. Further Evola describes excesses in society in the form of modern art, music, drugs, sex, nationalism, relationships, etc. and it is very clear that time did not stop after Evola. While Evola is concerned with people smoking “hashish”, people in swiming cloths on the beach, beatnik music based on African rhythms, etc. I sometimes find myself smiling to what Evola already regarded as offensive of degenerate. Would he have survived another 40 years, he might have wanted to rewrite this book entirely. In any case, Ride The Tiger has plenty of food for thought, a nicely radical look on modern society and even some more ‘metaphysical’ theories. Another nice and not all that controversioal read of this controversial author.
1961 -2003 inner traditions, isbn 0892811250
Quotes from this and other books by Evola can be read here, a biography of Evola that I wrote many years ago here.

Men Among The Ruins * Julius Evola (2002)

Men Among The Ruins

Gli Uomini e le Rovine (1953/1972)

After the two world wars, Julius Evola (1898-1974) wrote the first version of this famous/notorious book. A few new versions saw the light and this English translation is based on the 1972 reprint. This English version is also famous/notorious, especially in the music scene were most of my music comes from, because of the involvement of Michael Moyniham (editor, translator) and Markus Wolff (translator). The book itself was translated by Guido Stucco, a foreword and another translation are from the hands of Joscelyn Godwin (a renowned writer of his own). There is a very long, but very interesting preface written by H.T. Hansen for a German version, but it was enlarged a bit by Hansen himself and translated to English by Moynihan. That as information of the publication that this review is based on.

I didn’t really plan on reading this almost purely political book of Evola, but in the end I decided to do so anyway and with no regret. Hansen in his 100 page preface puts Evola in the place where he belongs: a metaphysician so radical in his views that he got both friends, but also fierce enemies in the political spectrum from the left to the very far right. In fascism (Italy) and later National Socialism (Germany) Evola saw a possible return to an aristocratic society built on higher principles. He was disappointed in both currents and did not shy to speak of his reserves even when these parties were at power. In Men Among The Ruins Evola gives a guideline of how a pan-European political system should work and in doing so, he portrays his accurate and sharp view on developements of his time, that for a large part can still be found within our own society. He rages against democracy, communism and a whole range of ‘political systems’ which he (I think) gives his own terms, such as “Bonepartism”, “Machiavellism”, etc. Tendencies in society such as the ever growing materialism, craving for equality, economy, etc. are sabred down. In short I can say that almost any system, party or tendency is burned to the ground by the extremely elitaristic thinker, with words so fierce that I had to laugh out loud numerous times. What you get may seem like an alternative, but later (Cavalcare le Tigre (1961)) the writer admits that his efforts have been futile. In a way Man Among The Ruins is a political handbook which offers systems, ideas and even a worldview for those looking for a “conservative revolutionary” ideology. Evola does not spare anyone though, so the parties for which this book could have been intended, often feel offended (and not without reason). It is not for nothing that Evola came to regard himself as “apolitical” and “fascist nor anti-fascist” and his whole system of ideas can only be appreciated by people who do not feel easily personally attacked. With this in mind the book is hardly a handbook, because Evola does not seem to have had many people with similar ideas. Nowadays -however- now that the taboos arisen by the world wars and the reactions after it seem to crumble down a bit, Evola has a growing attention of scholars and random readers that do not necessarily are politically radical, people like myself. I agree with the writer about the idea that we have lost the Tradition and especially the spiritual way of living. Too much stress came on the lower ratio and the ‘voice of the masses’ which both for some reason enjoy an ever growing respect. Something got lost and we can see that all around us. Evola puts a few alternatives beside that, but his ideas are very utopical (and he realised that himself later). Still Men Among The Ruins is a book that you can read for some radically different views that force you to overthink your own. Be warned though, you have to be able to stand reading about fascism, racism, etc. in neutral and positive ways (but with Evola’s ideas in mind as shown in the preface, this becomes easier) and not shy harsch words on ‘holy houses’. Evola was an interesting thinker, too radical for his own good and with too much stress on some parts of his worldview, but personally I am of the opinion that he deserves to be read with the necessary warnings, but also relativations and with him put where he belongs, not where he is put by people with other agendas.
Added to the book itself is Evola’s defence statement from when he was sued for glorifying fascism (among other things). In it you can see how intelligent the man was and well able to stand up for himself. He was fully acquitted of the charges.
Read quotes of Evola here.

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.

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.
Read quotes of Evola here.