Tag Archives: Manticore Press

Operative Traditions volume 1 – Miguel Angel Fernandez (2017)

Just as with “Tantric Traditions“, the title suggests that this is another Manticore journal, especially because of the “volume 1” in the title. But just as with the other book, “Operative Traditions” is a book by one author.

Another suggestion of the title is Masonic. Before there was “speculative” Freemasonry, there was “operative” masonry. The selling line: “Where Ernst Jünger & Julius Evola meet at last” seems to suggest another direction though. In fact, both is true. The book is, to a certain extent, about “operative” traditions from before 1717, but rather than seeing it as a progression, Fernandez sees 1717 (the ‘founding’ of modern Freemasonry) as a turning point to the negative. He does not say that Freemasonry is the problem, but suggests that the same development that led Freemasonry to leave operativeness, led the West to loose its eye for the miraculous and an over-appreciation of technology and science.

The book perhaps mentions Freemasonry a few times, the subject is wholly different. Mostly based on the work of three thinkers, the author aims at presenting an idea of a contemporary operative Tradition. These authors are of course the German writer (and “war hero”) Ernst Jünger (1895-1998) who is most famous for his work Der Arbeiter (1932) which Fernandez does not translate as “the worker”, but as “the operator”. The other author is the Italian Traditionalist Julius Evola (1898-1974) who people familiar with this website and the books published by Manticore Press will be familiar. The last author is Eugen Herrigel (1884-1955) whose book Zen in der Kunst des Bogenschießens (“Zen in the Art of Archery”), in which he describes his experiences while studying under master Awa Kenzô, is referred to a lot.

I find Fernandez’ book a difficult read. It is well-written in good English, but often ‘high-flying’, with sentences full of interesting sounding words. Also the book comes across very philosophical to me, writing a lot, but not saying too much. Within the whirlwind of information I fail to find the red thread or even the point. Fernandez manages well to explain spiritual experiences in technological terms (such as a photo camera flash), but the purpose of his lengthy explanations of elements of scientific discoveries elude me. There are large parts that make nice reads. There are also large parts that do not appeal to me at all. What does not help, is that, like I said, I have not found what the author says he presents. The book remains a receptacle of thoughts and information without coming to a clear conclusion.

Fernandez frequently refers to volume 2, so I suppose this part is well in the making. Perhaps there he will ‘wrap things up’.

2017 Manticore Press, isbn 0994595867

Tantric Traditions – Gwendolyn Taunton (2018)

Even though the title suggests that this is one of the Primordial Traditions / Numen Books / Manticore Press journals with a collection of different authors and which mostly have the word “traditions” in the title, this is actually a book solely written by the person behind the publishing house.

“Tantric Traditions” is not a large book. It has a little over 200 pages of text and then some addenda. It is a very nice book though. Frequently railing against the popular Western view of Tantra, Taunton sets Tantra as the religion for the Kali Yuga. Also she shows that Tantra is not a separate renegade Eastern religion, but that is actually comes from the Vedic tradition. Last but not least, beside a sinister side, there is also a ‘lighter’ side to Tantra and the sinister side is much more sinister than you would imagine.

In the beginning of the book, the author explains the idea of the four ages and how Tantra is to be placed in the latest of these, the Kali Yuga. For this she draws on Traditionalists and might have benefited from a book of Joscelyn Godwin that I recently reviewed.
After this she continues with Tantra itself, highlighting different aspects, speaking about its mantras, yantras, but also about the darker rituals. In doing so she quotes primary and secondary sources. All this give a colourful of an interesting Eastern current about which much more is to be said that the popular “sacred sex” books. As a matter of fact, you will not read all that much about Tantric sex. There is so much more to say about Tantra.

Here and there the author seems to take it that the reader has sufficient background knowledge and even though this is by and far not first book about an Eastern religion, I would have preferred some extra information here and there. Also on a few occasions I get the feeling that Taunton suddenly jumps to another subject.

In spite of the fact that some extra editing would do the book good, I find this a highly interesting book about an Eastern tradition that we in the West know little about. I even want to pick up the subject of Eastern religion and esotericism again. It has been too long since it was part of my literature.

2018 Manticore Press, isbn 0648299600

Aristokratia III – K. Deva (editor) (2015)

I guess I am quite at a loss trying to follow Primordial Tradition, erm… Numen Books, or was it Manticore Press? Also the website changed a couple of times and there are several channels on Facebook. So by the time I heard of Gwendolyn Taunton’s latest book called Tantric Traditions, I discovered that by then I had missed two volumes in the Aristokratia series and a book called Operative Traditions. Time to catch up!

Aristokratia is the more political branch of the series of journals. This third volume is subtitled “Hellas”, so in most essays you will run into Plato and Greek democracy, but there is also a lot of Evola, Nietzsche and a few texts that have nothing to do with either Greece or politics, probably texts that fitted better in this journal than in any of the others.

Politics, not entirely my subject. As expected there is a lot of criticism towards democracy, contemporary culture and society and, as the title of the journal suggests, a (new) aristocracy that has to be built in order for the world to survive.

The most interesting article is one of the ‘out of place’ texts and speaks about how Mircea Eliade actually saw Traditionalism, Guénon and Coomaraswamy. Eliade is often seen as a Traditionalist (light), but this is a bit of a one-sided view on the man it seems.

From ancient politics to more recent ones and even a manifesto to build a new form of society, these are the subject that you will find in this journal. The more ‘practical’ side of contemporary Traditionalism so to say.

As I said, not the most interesting of the Manticore journal series to me, but it is always nice to read newly written texts of living persons with unpopular ideas. Volume IV lays ready to be read, so await a review of that one later on.

2015 Manticore Press, isbn 0994252536

Borderline * Lennart Svensson (2015)

“A Traditionalist Outlook for Modern Man” was published just before the end of last year. This Swedish author has written several books in Swedish and recently started to publish in English. He has a BA in Indology, but this book is not an academic one. Actually, “Borderline” contains the musings of an interested layman (it is not about Indian philosophy). It is also the merit of Numen Books to publish titles such as this, because they bring another perspective than what is currently popular in academic circles.

Let me start with some criticism. “Borderline” reads like a collection of separate essays. There is a red thread, but some chapters hardly fit in with the rest. Is, for example, the Edith Södergran chapter just to bring attention to this Swedish poet? The chapter seems to be a bit out of place content-wise. There is also a three page biography of Ernst Jünger which appears to be an advertisement for the authors book about Jünger, but this chapter does not add a whole lot to the content of the present title.
Then there is the fact that Svensson uses terms such as “Perennialism” in a bit of an odd (to me at least) way. However the author knows Guénon and Evola, his “Perennialism” refers to the thought of authors such as Plato, Plotinus, Goethe, Jünger and Swedenborg (and even Jung).
Another point, the acronyms. I fail to see the use. Does the author asume that we are going to throw “RAWALTAFA” at our friends when we want to tell them: “Rather Acting Wrongly And Learning Then Abstaining From Action” or learn them about NAMO as in “Napoleonic Modus Operandi”?

Svensson describes what he sees as the philosophy and mindset for the modern man. He is clear that this is a theistic outlook. He calls his ‘system’ “Holistic” and “integral esotericism”. He does not really care what philosophy his readers adhere, but he is very clear that his own is Christian; not the typical Catholic kind of Christianity, but more of an esoteric one, an esotericism which he bases on Rudolf Steiner and, to a lesser account, on Emanuel Swedenborg. Both not really Perennialists in my definition, but I do not often find a Christian voice in the current ‘neo-Traditionalistic scene’. The anti-materialistic take does make Svensson’s book fit in the Numen Books roster and the different approach makes the book a nice addition to the publisher’s list. Also the fact that “Borderline” is relatively practical makes this a book worth reading.

I do have to say that the book appears to me like the first rendition of a rudimentary philosophy that still needs working. A phase that I have found myself in for too long a time as well, which is the main reason why I do not write as much as I used to. It could be interesting to see how Svensson develops as time passes.

“Borderline” makes an alright read with a somewhat alternative approach to what I am used to which is good, since it forces me to think things over. With that as starting point, I can surely recomnmend this title.

2015 Numen Books, isbn 0994252579

The Everlasting Man * Gilbert Chesteron (1925/2012)

I heard of this book because Numen Books published it. Three are many, many different printings though and I got myself a cheaper one (2010 Martino Publishing). A good guess, because I did not really enjoy this book…

The book starts off alright with the author criticising our modern age with his pompous and humorous writing style. It soon becomes clear that this extraordinary and pompous style is his style. Here and there Chesterton is funny, but his style is usually very tiring. When we continue, he not only continuously sabers modernity, but also everything non-Catholic. Actually, the book is a massive apology of Catholicism. Not that he is entirely uncritical towards his own faith or completely negative about other religions, but with continuously returning arguments against -for example- polytheism and the validity of other religions “The Everlasting Man” was a tough book to get through.

To understand the nature of this chapter, it is necessary to recur to the nature of this book. The argument which is meant to be the backbone of the book is of the kind called the reduction ad absurdum. It suggests that the results of assuming the rationalist thesis is more irrational than ours but to prove it we must assume the same thesis.

(p. 122)

Good for a few laughs and on a few occasions to make you think, but I found the book not really enjoying.

2012 Numen Book, isbn 0987158112

India’s Glory * Raghupati Bhatt (2014)

A history of India from an Indian perspective, that is what the author wanted to present. His little book (218 pages) has short chapters, mostly about noteworthy Indians. From Chandragupta Maurya (around 340 BCE) to Mahatma Gandi (1869-1948).

The author is of the opinion that the West is misinformed about India and its history and wants to correct these flaws. Also he wants to present figures of India’s glorious past. I must say that I do not really have the idea that I read anything radically different from what I already knew. Perhaps this is due to the fact that what I know about India mostly comes from people who were ‘India-friendly’, or perhaps it is simply so that us Westerners are not so badly informed as Bhatt thinks.

Not unexpectedly the book is filled with praise for India and his ‘big names’. Bhatt tells us about Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims alike; a bit about spiritual currents such as Bhakti or Jainism; spiritual leaders and politicians; conquerers and freedom fighters. Quite a few pages are dedicated to the time in which India fought British colonism. Nor does he shy to say -for example- that Gandhi was not favoured by everyone and he has a few things to say about Hindu nationalism, a current which was recently in the news.

“India’s Glory” does not hold any big surprises, but it makes an alright read and it never hurts to see things through the eyes of an insider.

2014 Numen Books, isbn 0987559869

Written In Blood * Mindaugas Peleckis (2015)

I am not completely sure how Numen Books came to publish this book. It is a collection of interviews that Peleckis did, mostly with musicians. I cannot say what period the interviews span. Initially I had the idea that Peleckis was a youngster interviewing band for some website, but the man is actually as old as myself and he has published more books. Peleckis is from Lithuania (but lives in London?) and this is his first book in English. I think there are other interviewers whom I would prefer to collect their interviews and publish them in a book.

Most interviews are not too interesting. Peleckis tends to ask the same questions over and over again. This is perhaps not so noticeable on a website, but when you read a book with interviews, it can be quite sad. “Could you please tell me about your main influences. What books, music, films and other things impress you?” Almost every person, no matter from what background gets the question: “What do you think about the thousands of World Music / Neofolk / Industrial / Ambient / Tribal / Electroacoustic / Avant-garde bands/projects? Is it a kind of trend, or just a tendency toward better music?” Or what about: “When I first heard your music, it impressed me so much I still can’t forget the impression.” Every person’s who is interviewed who has written a book, this book is “revolutionary”. And not to forget: “The sound is magic. You’ve proved it. But what ends when there’s no sound?”
With just a handfull of questions, the length of the interviews depend on how much effort the artist put in it. Some only give two-line answers, some complete epistles. This does result in a few nice to read interviews. Patrick Leagas gives his view on the early days of Death In June. Robert Taylor a nice lecture on Asatru. Peter Andersson (Raison d’Être) gives a peek into his soul.
There musicians that I know, but many that I never heard of. Many of them seem to be “sound artists”, others doom or stoner metal artists, even a group that makes music with vegetables. The variety of people involved is a merit to the book. The biggest surprise to me is Alexander Dugin, the controversial Russian thinker, who does not really come out too well from the interview. I do not know if the interviews are presented chronologically, but the last artist, Z’ev, is about the only person who has an answer to the “when there is no sound” question. What what answer. What a guy!

“Written In Blood” is an alright read, but not much more than that. If one of the artists involved interests you and (s)he happens to have been in the mood to give some proper answers, the book could be a good buy. More out of general interest, I could say that you can just buy it, put it somewhere and read an interview every now and then like you would when you follow Peleckis’ website.

2015 Numen Books, isbn 0994252560

The Grail – two studies – Alexander Jacob (2014)

And again Numen Books comes with an interesting title. This publisher is quickly developing the good habbit of publishing books about subjects that are (just) off the map for other publishing houses, while remaining within (relatively) scholarly fields. Books by (mostly) scholars about not-too-popular subjects so to say. Readable, nicely presented and thought-provoking too.

The present title promises “two studies” of the subject of the Grail. Alexander Jacob found a not too famous essay of Leopold von Schroeder (1851-1920) that this Estonian scholar published in 1910 in the German tongue. Jacob added an essay of similar length of himself making a book of a little under 300 pages. Von Schroeder’s and Jacob’s approaches are alike and when you expect 300 pages about the Grail, you might be disappointed. Both authors wrote massive pieces of comparitive mythology in which the Grail might be the final subject, but it is not touched upon that much. Von Schroeder describes a lot of Indian mythology -and here and there compares it to other mythologies- to show that the Grail is actually a vessel representing the sun.
Jacob goes a step further. He also uses mostly Indian mythology to go beyond the sun-vessel idea to find phallic symbolism at the basis of most mythology and -of course- most particularly the stories surrounding the Grail.
Both authors come up with a staggering amount of comparisons that I do not always find too convincing. Both indeed make a more than a few interesting remarks and make ‘un-Dumézilian’ conclusions that invite to rethink my own limited approach. Jacob also critices Von Schroeder in a somewhat annoyingly pedatic tone like by saying Von Schroeder (or Evola) is wrong, rather than he has a different opinion himself. Both authors make some slips when referring to Germanic mythology, but since they both seem to have Indian mythology as speciality, I asume the information there is all valid. The bottom line is that the source for both authors lays in the Far East (or perhaps a little futher back in time) and it is from that staring point, elements of the Grail stories are explained.

Like I said, another interesting new Numen book for those who like some good old comparitive myth.

2014 Numen Books, isbn 9780987559890

The Crescent And The Compass * Angel Millar (2015)

Subtitled: “Islam, Freemasonry, Esotericism and Revolution in the Modern Age”, the description even promises Traditionalism. A promising combination!

“The Crescent And The Compass” makes a much more interesting read than Millar’s recently reviewed “Freemasonry, a history”. This is not the least because in the current book, the author walks new paths. According to himself, noone so far has investigated the influence of Freemasonry on Near-Eastern cultures and vice versa.

The first half of the book is with quite a distance the most interesting part to me. Millar opens with a chapter about “Gnosis in Shi’ism and Sufism” speaking about initiations and the various kinds of the two named branches of Islam. Chapter two continues with a similar approach to Freemasonry and quickly runs up to the connections between Freemasonry and Islam, how Sufis became Freemasons and how ‘ideologically’ mixed orders were founded. Then Millar says a thing or two on how (Near-)Eastern religion influenced Freemasonry when Freemasons opened their eyes to exotic religions of the East. The strongest influences can be found in what Millar calls “Fringe Freemasonry”, orders that work similarly to Freemasonry, but are not recognised by Masonic bodies. Chapter two is informative and entertaining.

Then we move to a Sufi Freemason that launched a revolution within the Islamic world to get rid of the colonists, but this revolution would eventually backfire and “Freemasonry” became synonymous with Western decadence in the eyes of many Muslims. In the meantime we learn about the first Muslim convert in the UK, about René Guénon and about anti-Freemasonry, a (to me) new look on the Ayatollah Khomeini and we swiftly roll into Jewish/Masonic conspiracies that followed the publication of the Protocolls of the Elders of Sion.
The start of “Prince Hall” (‘black’) Freemasonry followed by black nationalism in the USA is followed by Anders Breivik and Prince Charles in three very different chapters.

In his conclusion, and especially his afterword, Millar calls to us to develop new ways of looking at the world, especially the religion of Islam and its role therein.

I mostly enjoyed the historical parts about Freemasonry in Muslim countries, but in general this little book (some 180 pages to read) touches upon subjects close to my heart. Numen Books has added an interesting title to their roster and seeing how much attention this book gets on Facebook, the publisher might reach quite an audience with this title and the author most likely a different audience from his less innovatory title of a decade earlier.

2015 Numen Books, isbn 0994252501

Aristokratia II * K. Deva (editor) (2014)

It is good that Amazon recommended me this book, because I do not recall having heard of it before they did. It becomes a bit blurry. Like the first Aristokratia, this journal is published by Manticore Press. Since it looks like the journals that are nowadays published under the name of Numen Books, I simply ‘tagged’ this book ‘Primordial Traditions’, the precursor of Numen Books. But, Numen Books will remain Numen Books and Primordial Traditions seems to come rising from its ashes, so I might have to divide them afterall.
In any case, “Aristokratia” forms the more political arm of Primordial Traditions. The journal comes with 320 pages consisting of 17 essays and 7 book reviews. Three articles are from the hand of Gwendolyn Taunton (another reason to see the link) who delivered some very nice texts. Especially her “Emperor Of The Sun” is an interesting read. Taunton takes the theories of Dumézil a step further and more practically (in contast to Dumézil’s theoretical approach) applies it to far Eastern polics in the past. In another article Taunton aims to portray Julius Evola’s actual ideas by going beyond the characterisations of supporters and opposers. Some other authors we know from the first volume of this journal. Like I said, “Aristokratia” is a more political journal and some essays not only describe the state of contemporary politics, but also offer new insights and ideas. Not all essays are political though. Some are more philosophical and/or tradionalistic.
The journal starts off wonderfully, but in the last third there are a couple of texts that I did not find too appealing and did not read them very attentively.
All in all another interesting journal though and a good addition to the ‘Primordial Traditions series’.
2014 Manticore Press, isbn 0987559834, Aristokratia website