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The Sufi Enneagram: Sign of the Presence of God (Wajhullah): The Secrets of the Symbol Unveiled
The Sufi Enneagram: Sign of the Presence of God (Wajhullah): The Secrets of the Symbol Unveiled
by Laleh Bakhtiar
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.43

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Irfanic Knowledge of the Nine Points, 7 Jun 2014
Hints and rumours of a purported Sufi origin of the Enneagram symbol have long circulated, but hitherto a clear demonstration of such a provenance had been wanting - until the appearance of this very valuable work, a luminous unveiling of the wisdom of the Wahjullah. Renowned Islamic scholar and translator Laleh Bakhtiar here expounds the genuine sacred science, the Sufic 'Knowledge of the Nine Points', revealed through contemplation of the Enneagram, as the foundation of an authentic 'psychologia perennis' in the Avicennan tradition: this concentrated tome is a very rich and substantial exegesis of the Enneagram and effectively restores the true Sufic bases of this paradigmatic design(Naqsh), unfolding its application in the fields of traditional ethical teachings regarding conduct and manners(Adab), inner transformation and spiritual realisation: Dr Bakhtiar reveals a depth of fascinating and valuable insights in her hermeneutics of the Enneagram, illustrating the astrological and alchemical dimensions of significance which are contained within this archetypal image: this work conveys a unique wealth of initiatory knowledge regarding the Enneagram in its original Islamic Sufi context and the information this book imparts functions effectively as the key to the volumes which follow and which constitute a precious corpus of teachings of the symbolic sciences and gnosis of Islamic esoterism. If you desire to understand the genuine traditional significance of the Enneagram as a pattern of psychic and spiritual harmony and inner realisation, as well as an archetypal design encoding profound cosmological cycles and alchemical concepts this book is, without doubt, essential reading. In a providential and timely manner Dr Bakhtiar has restored, clarified and transmitted the genuine Irfanic 'Knowledge of the Nine Points', preserved through the ages by the Khwajagan, the sages and masters of the Tradition.


The Message Rediscovered
The Message Rediscovered
by Cattiaux Louis
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars 'The Lord's very heavy Ruby', 3 Jan 2014
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The hermetist, poet and 'Transhyliste' painter Louis Cattiaux captured within the 40 Books of 'The Message Rediscovered' a rare distillation of authentic esoterism which illuminates and profoundly nourishes the reader who approaches with the correct disposition, for this work, subtitled 'The Clock of God's Night and Day' is without doubt a genuinely inspired text wherein we hear the clear voice of a true Initiate amid the babel-like confusion of our degenerate modern world, conveying beautiful refractions and fragrant scintillations of that Primordial Gnosis renewed and transmitted from 'heart to heart' down through the ages along the luminous chain of hidden sages, alchemists, sons of Hermes, unknown philosophers and noble travellers. The text is arranged in 2 columns like the pillars of the temple - one column expresses the external teachings while the other opens up the innermost esoteric significance of the doctrine: however in keeping with the uniquely paradoxical character of the orthodox Christian revelation wherein, as is symbolized by the Veil of the Temple being sundered at the moment of the Mystery of the Crucifixion, the boundary dividing inner and outer, esoteric and exoteric, was forever abrogated, annulled and dissolved, just so the precise relations between the two columns of text shifts and alternates subtly so that one sometimes finds oneself reading horizontally and at other times vertically, as the mysteriously pregnant oracles and utterances of Louis Cattiaux unfold their beautiful depths of profundity to the meditative reader. 'The Message Rediscovered' is a collation of the eternal truths inscribed upon and within the eternal substance of the heart of light, revealing the secrets of the mysteries and the path of spiritual regeneration, rendering visible the arcana of the Invisible to manifest a repository of the ever-living teachings of Elias Artista. 'The Message' is a truly amazing and precious work through which the quickening breath of the Spirit moves, pervading and vivifying the verses 'condensed like liquid air'.

In the review 'Etudes Traditionelles' the metaphysician Rene Guenon greeted this work with one of his rare positive reviews, locating Cattiaux's text within the climate of Christian esoterism and noting that it constituted a work of considerable significance for those drawn to this aspect of Tradition.

For those interested I might add that volume 32 of the Traditionalist journal 'Sacred Web' contains an article by Gauthier Pierozak and Nigel Jackson describing a specific 'talismanic' painting (L'Arbre de Vie') gifted by Cattiaux to Guenon in 1949, a painting which possessed certain highly curious and somewhat mysterious properties: this article draws upon the Guenon-Cattiaux correspondence to highlight some exceptionally interesting materials.


The Sacred Art of Shakespeare: To Take Upon Us the Mystery of Things
The Sacred Art of Shakespeare: To Take Upon Us the Mystery of Things
by Martin Lings
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars 'God's spies': Shakespeare's Hermetic & Mysterial Theatre of the Spirit, 27 July 2013
'To Take upon us the Mystery of Things'....conforming to the spirit of these words of the Bard from 'King Lear' , Martin Lings, who had extensive practical experience of staging Shakespearean theatre, presents a unique and illuminating survey of Shakespeare's dramas understood as authentic sacred art, revealing the initiatory and esoteric Mysteries which they hold: even if Shakespeare lived and worked during the Elizabethan epoch of the English Renaissance (the Renaissance signalling, be it remembered, irreparable breach with the Traditional spiritual world-view) he remained, as Lings notes, an essentially mediaeval artist in terms of aim and conception and his works, whether by design or by divine grace, pertain very little to the diminishing humanistic-secular horizons of the 16th century but rather they reflect a direct and unbroken continuity with the spiritual and esoteric worldview of the Middle Ages, a Traditional theocratic civilization, where drama fulfilled a specific function as in the great Mystery-cycles of mediaeval Europe: there is some preliminary discussion as to whether the Bard was a formal initiate of an esoteric brotherhood such as the Rosie Crosse, in the light of the explicitly hermetic and alchemical meanings which his plays reveal but the question is sensibly left open and the focus is kept firmly upon the inner substance of the works themselves. Here Martin Lings skilfully highlights the genuinely spiritual-mysterial dimension within a selection of the plays, each of which is demonstrated to be a 'chymical' theatre of the soul, an hierophanic revelation of the archetypal drama of the spirit, illustrating the passage of Everyman through the Lesser and Greater Mysteries to salvation and sanctification. It is this interior dimension of Shakespeare's plays which, in common with all true sacred art, may bring about a direct participation in the spiritual Mystery of integration and awakening into the Primordial state of Divine Unity, man's origin and final goal - considered in this light Shakespeare's plays reveal the pathway to Truth and Martin Lings in this series of penetrating essays helps us to appreciate this sacral dimension within the works of the Bard. HRH the Prince of Wales has written the foreword to this invaluable study which will provide a precious resource for anybody seeking the profounder depths and radiant heights of Wisdom within the Shakespearean corpus.


The Crystal Cabinet: My Childhood at Salterns
The Crystal Cabinet: My Childhood at Salterns
by Mary Butts
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'I Strove to seize the Inmost Form', 16 Feb 2013
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Mary Butts' extraordinary and subtle memoir of her Victorian and Edwardian childhood at the grand family home, Salterns, in the landscape of Dorsetshire is at once a delicate reverie of meditation upon childhood with all its praeternatural brightness and lucidity of perception, an evocation of her girlhood years with all its influences and events, the warp and weft as it were of Heimarmene through which gleams the shimmering thread of the Daimon (which as Heracleitus tells us is the Destiny of an individual), of her 'making', the unfolding of the latencies of Imagination, aglow with essences of the Beautiful in contemplation of which her father guided her, from the heritage of the Blake watercolours which hung upon a wall of the room at Salterns to the early schooling in Hellenistic and Norse mythology which fed her soul - her wanderings through the then unspoilt Dorsetshire landscape surrounding Salterns are suffused with a sense of the living Numina, of the sacrality inhering within places and shining through virgin nature, thus of secret presences both wonderful, dreadful or awe-inspiring, experienced in salt-marshes, woods, fens and meadows - these extraordinary passages relating her girlhood explorations of the natural landscape convey perceptions once fresh and timelessly archaic (her delight in stones and other natural phenomena, charged with a mysterious sanctity, reminded me of the young girl's diary in Arthur Machen's tale 'The White People') and transmit the innocence and primordiality of the childhood experience of nature, the sensitivity to the 'signatures' of the Invisible breaking through the visible phenomenal world which accompanied Mary Butts throuhghout her life and of what she termed the 'visible Pan' which she experienced within the natural landscape at certain hallowed loci and seasons. For Mary Butts it was the blood-inheritance of the 'family secret' passed down through her father's line which meant the most to her and defined her inner nature - she defines this as 'a secret common to our blood. A secret concerned with time and very little with death, with what perhaps medieval philosophers called aevum, the link between time and eternity. With which goes an ability to live in two worlds at once, or in time and out of it. Even in a further dimension of time. A secret which might make us devout. Or it might not. Incline us to mysticism, as in the case of my great-grandfather, Tom Butts...old T.B. made the gesture such a secret asks of a gentleman, not by foisting on the world inferior productions of his own...but by becoming the friend and the patron of William Blake' (TCC pp13). So it is upon the sudden death of her father when she was 14 that the whole story of 'The Crystal Cabinet' hinges and becomes thereby charged with spiritual tragedy and loss, a 'story of an un-making, the undoing in less than half a lifetime of the work of centuries...'

Her mother Mary Colville-Hyde remarries and to the youthful Mary's horror commits a crime which for her symbolizes a deeper desecration when she burns the collection of her fathers books, such as gilt-edged editions of Sir Richard Burton's works, which from a viewpoint of Victorian propriety she deems 'indecent' and involves Mary in an act which becomes a symbol of despoliation of the Beautiful which MB sees as becoming a predominant theme of encroaching modernity and materialism, of what she later terms the Tide which engulfs and destroys the Dorsetshire landscape by rampant development - an outward destruction which mirrors the profanation within man's soul and the harbinger of a fatal loss and sense of dispossession, the radiant memory of childhood itself an echo the paradaisical Age of Gold from which MB felt herself an exile.
If her father taught MB the religion of the Beautiful, contemplated in nature and in lovely and skilfully wrought things, her mother's religion by contrast was that of a stifling petty bourgeois status-worship and trite moralism. After her father's death the life of the mind is no longer respected at Salterns and the book-catalogues her father ordered from no longer appear. Her mother quickly remarries and Mary endures a time of spiritual loneliness at her dour Scottish girl's boarding-school where her passionate, sensitive and rebellious adolescent nature is nurtured upon Shelleyan romanticism - she grows aware of how very different she really is by temperament with the other girls and turns inward into dreams inspired by the image of the statue of Hermes by Praxiteles, various prophetic passages from the Bible and the verse of Spenser - throughout her life such symbols of beauty become her 'remembrancers' of the Divine World. Her perception of the subtle world sharpens as she experiences mysterious presences, swirling spirits in the wind, upon lonely Scottish sea-shores near the school. On another occassion she relates her experience of a ghostly 'woman in black' whom she beholds near the Lavender Walk at Salterns. This percipience and sensitivity to the 'signatures' of the unseen would persist through Mary's life.

The ultimate sacrilege is committed when her mother to meet the death-duties upon Salterns decides to sell the Blake watercolours and this for MB creates a lifelong rift with Mary Colville-Hyde whose values she despises and who is thereafter refracted into various tyrannical mother-figures in her fiction whose oppressively conformist and vulgar nature is seen to be destructive and antithetical to the higher spiritual values. For without doubt MB felt that her mother and family had been opposed from the beginning to her realising her true nature as an artist and she in part blames their lack of hope and pride in her acheivements for that psychic malaise from which she sometimes took an unfortunate refuge in the consumption of alcohol and drugs. (There are hints also of her having been accused of illicit relations with her stepfather and of having been a 'corrupting' influence upon her younger brother Tony which added to the sense of division with her mother and family).
Certain sections of the book may strike the reader as long lists, catalogues of the curiosa with which her childhood environment was crowded, strange bits of chinoiserie, carven ivories, cunningly-wrought objects of crystal, ebony and glass, miniatures and unusual paintings and engravings which delighted her childhood eye and which she asserts formed supports for the enhancement her visionary faculty. These passages are an evocation of the atmosphere of artistic beauty, of the strange and curious in which she was immersed in her Victorian childhood.
(Although accounted a feminist in her earlier days, along with a certain strain of idealistic socialism, in this book MB criticizes the course feminism took, chiding it for its deviation into the inessential, its derangement into follies and into divisive gender-war. She eventually became a fervent Anglo-Catholic Christian and Monarchist, wholly opposed to the equalitarian mediocrity of the modern world and its rising tide of cheapening uniformity, of the ascendancy of baseness, commercialism and vulgarity - behind which she detected more sinister spiritual forces at work, anti-human and demonic)
Finally the book ends with the close of her childhood with a rumination upon the spiritual and material ruination which the modern age, the machine-age, has brought upon Dorsetshire and upon the world at large, the developers and all their tawdry works advancing 'like jungle-swine' through the sylvan woods of her childhood ambiance. In a very beautiful passage towards the close of the book she affirms the role which the prehistoric earthwork Badbury Rings played in her awakening as an artist, describing the visits she took, with her brother or alone, to that ancient site as a mysterious sacramental rite of initiatic revelation which fundamentally catalysed and shaped her nature, fitting it for the work she must undertake in the world, albeit without recognition or success (MB never seemed to be able to 'get on' with the right people or 'play the game', to her own detriment, rejected by such as the Bloomsbury set she ploughed her own furrow of patrician 'modernist antimodernism' focussed upon the initiatic quest for the Sacral, the Sanc-Grail, and the 'Mental Fight' and combat against its adversaries, the powers of darkness and their 'obscene icons'). She sleeps, against the folkish counsel of her Nurse, with a vase of heavily-scented hawthorn blossoms beside her bed, gathered that day by her brother, and after reading some pages of Homer, wrapt and enfolded in the incense-like fumes of those blossoms she falls asleep and dreams of the Rings afterward awakening into the heat of the summer night, the dark air outside filled with multitudinous winged insects like liberated souls in flight, rising up renewed in her sense of artistic destiny in a remarkable passage of spiritual awakening which concludes this extraordinary book.

This is a very special work of rare genius, a vitreous Chinese sphere within which other translucent spheres are nested with great craft, each reflecting higher realities, worlds within worlds, a secret classic which characterises Mary Butt's delicate, elusive and elliptical literary style to perfection- a marvellous reverie upon childhood perception, a meditation upon loss, dispersion and dispossession, a spiritual-artistic autobiography, a critique of modernity, materialism and suburban mediocrity, an affirmation of the lambent flame of poetic awakening and aspiration to unity of spiritual vision via the opened eye of the heart - it is all of these and more...

I might add here, for those interested, that my essay 'Obscene Icons: Desacralization & Counter-Tradition in the Work of Mary Butts' has been published in issue II of the literary review 'Sacrum Regnum':

[...]


Mystical Astrology According to Ibn Arabi (Fons Vitae)
Mystical Astrology According to Ibn Arabi (Fons Vitae)
by Titus Burckhardt
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Akbarian perspectives on a Lost Art, 29 Aug 2012
Rene Guenon asserted that 'the true traditional astrology of the ancients' for Western man 'is today as completely lost as all other knowledge of the same order' (The Reign of Quantity, ch.10).

My own involvement in, and contribution (of a purely symbolic-aesthetic nature) to the field of astrology ceased after 2009 when after much reflection I came to concur with Guenon's viewpoint and realised that without the formal chain of transmission within an orthodox sacral form possessing spiritual regularity (such as we see for example in Vedic astrology, Jyotish, within the greater Hindu tradition) the traditional cosmological sciences (such as astrology and magic)in the Western world, following the close of the Middle Ages (for the Renaissance was symptomatic of the breach with the Traditional worldview)and dislocated from the spiritual-initiatic Centre, drifted into advanced decay and decadence, undergoing a rapid descent into the inferior morass of occultism and, it's spiritual vitality having withdrawn, suffering the fate of being 'invaded' from below by anti-traditional and Counter-Initiatic influences which thereafter make the practise of such things highly dubious. Attempts to reconstitute such sciences simply on the basis of old texts or mechanical re-enactment of technique could never fulfil any real criteria of 'traditionality' - the ensuing crass confusion of naturalistic neo-paganism, 'spiritual materialism', subversive syncretism, idolatrous planet-worship and debased magic in pseudo-theurgic habiliments, hoodoo, voodoo, 'hermetic zen' and cheap demonic sorcery, the whole compounded with vulgarian commercialism, convinced me that the pseudo-spiritual 'free-for-all' which characterizes so-called 'traditional''Renaissance astrology' (in actuality the real Traditional Astrology of the West was always that of Abrahamic monotheism, the Astrology of the Jews, Christians and Muslims) was, as well as being entirely unsatisfactory, clearly far from compatible with my deepening esoteric-metaphysical orientation within the Traditionalist school - and such phenomenon would doubtless have caused the great Christian Astrologer William Lilly, a devout Jew like Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra or a pious Muslim like Abu Ma'ashar to shudder with distaste and revulsion at the sordid abuses to which their arts had fallen victim. (I would likewise counsel any serious seeker to avoid/renounce involvement with deviated, deracinated residues of secondary cosmological sciences in the contemporary West such as astrological magic, witchcraft and sorcery - such futile and shabby distractions will definitely obstruct one's path to genuine spiritual-initiatic realisation.)

The march of 'progress' evinced by ubiquitous use of computer software to erect astrological charts 'instantly' rather than the habitual use of the ancient methods of meticulous astronomical observation and patient hand-calculation also bears witness to the falsification of this Art, its replacement by a devitalised mechanistic mirage, dead and literalistic, typical of the world-view of the machine-age whose processes bear the same relation to 'the true traditional astrology of the ancients' as the use of Photoshop does to 13th century tempera painting, or the use of Cubase software does to playing the dulcimer or the Oud. Along with and within the no doubt laboriously exacting methodologies of these technical 'supports' there were always much subtler elements transmitted from master to pupil in the ancient cosmological arts, a certain operative 'baraqah'(just as Denis Zachaire said that Alchemy cannot be learnt from or practised on the basis of bookish learning, referring to this same mystery or magistery)which no longer effectively exists in the West and without which the would-be astrologer is not an 'Artist' in the Traditional sense.

By contrast with the 'uncertainty and vanity' of the deteriorated residues and denatured counterfeits which pass as 'traditional' astrology in our day this very short but closely-textured work, translated by the Traditionalist writer Titus Burckhardt, presents the authentic mediaeval Neo-Platonic paradigm underlying the sacred science, elaborating the geocentric cosmology of the spheres which the sages of the Islamic world inherited from the Hellenistic Ptolemaic schools and refined and extended with their characteristic exactitude within the spiritual worldview of Tawhid, of Abrahamic monotheism in its integral purity. The science of astrology is here unfolded within the structure of a cosmological edifice whose summit is disclosed by the highest Revelation of the Holy Qur'an, leading up beyond all created things to the Footstool and the Divine Throne, to illuminate the cosmological and theological bases of an astrology which is a harmonious expression of the holistic world-view of classical Islam. Furthermore one should never regard the external stars as exerting any influence upon a human being as much as they denote outward indicators of the condition or specific 'degree' determined by the being within the plane of temporal manifestation, for as the ancients always taught 'The Wise Man dominates the Stars'. This book contains a very interesting chart in which Ibn 'Arabi correlates the 28 Lunar Mansions with the Beautiful Names of Allah and the planetary and supercelestial heavens, relating to certain aspects of his doctrine of Islamic theosophy expounded in the 'Meccan Revelations'. This work also contains some particularly graceful reproductions of finely-executed drawings of Muslim astronomical imagery.

Titus Burckhardt (Sidi Ibrahim Izz al-Din) was a life-long disciple of the great Shaykh `Isa Nur al-Din (Frithjof Schuon) - rooted deeply in the ground of the Tradition Burckhardt is a writer whose works are always profoundly illuminating, an authoritative voice of the Perennialist school, especially expert upon the fields of sacred art, traditional aesthetics and secondary cosmological sciences in Islam and Christendom ( his book on alchemy, 'terrestrial astronomy' as the ancients termed it, is one of the very best available) and he is therefore uniquely qualified to interpret the Shaykh al-Akbar's concentrated treatise on the spiritual horizon of Islamic astrology. I would also advise the reader interested in the nature and scope of these secondary sciences of the Tradition to study Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr's classic book 'An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines': a specific chapter therein explores the true import of astrology within the civilization of Islam in a very detailed and enlightening manner.


Mary Butts: Scenes from the Life
Mary Butts: Scenes from the Life
by Nathalie Blondel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary Butts - The Artist as Oblique Adept, 27 Aug 2012
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In a diary entry dated March 1921 written in Paris, Mary Butts ponders upon the nature of 'the artist as the true, because the oblique adept', exemplifying the elusive obliquity of the 'knight's move' in chess which is a subtle but persistent theme in her thought, writing and life-career. Nathalie Blondel's biography of this near-forgotten novelist of the 1920s and 1930s is a fascinating and comprehensive chronicle, dry but nonetheless highly satisfying in its detail and documentation. Her great-great grandfather was Thomas Butts who was a patron of William Blake and in her grand childhood home there was a 'Blake Room' where many of the artists watercolours hung and fascinated the young Mary in her childhood, shaping her creative imagination and in her memoir 'The Crystal Cabinet' MB hints suggestively regarding a 'family secret' passed down her line, a 'priestly line' of Eumolpidae, a secret having to do with what mediaeval philosophers called the 'aevum', intermediate between time and eternity.

This book covers her Victorian childhood at Salterns which she spent exploring the landscape around the old Dorsetshire house and her early days working in London during WWI campaigning for imprisoned conscientious objectors, a period in which she was regarded by friends such as Stella Bowen as an 'aristocratic anarchist', a larger than life figure , impulsive and compassionate, tracing her trajectory as peace activist and militant feminist - her relationships and amours with both women and men are covered, her marriage to the publisher and writer John Rodker and her travels to Paris in the early 1920s with her lover Cecil Maitland - deeply interested in the esoteric she falls in with the libertine occultist Aleister Crowley who invites her and Maitland to come to his 'Abbey' at Cefalu in Sicily, an establishment she quickly comes to realise is a 'sham', dismissing AC as a ego-centric fraud and megalomaniac (and in esoteric matters as Roslyn Reso Foy has written '...Crowley most likely gained more knowledge from Butts than she did from him'). Her novel 'Ashe of Rings', an exquisite and unusual literary masterpiece of the 1920s is published and she is carried on the tides of Parisian night-life in the "années folles", indulging in alcohol, club life and cabarets, smoking opium and taking cocaine and heroin (her unpublished essay 'Fumerie' which explores the subtler aspects of opium experienced and interacted with as a living entity, is a work which one would like to read - Blondel cites a tantalizing passage therefrom). MB was nothing if not sociable and her friends in London and Paris included such figures as Elsa Lanchester (to whom she sub-leased her flat),Ezra Pound, Peter Warlock (who stimulated her interest in magic), Nina Hamnett (who painted her portrait) and Jean Cocteau (who drew her portrait) and her life during this period is a long party, despite the occasional presence of her daughter Camilla, during which she works assiduously on her writing, unfortunately developing addictions which persisted and dogged her to the end. Her troubled relationship with her mother whose sale of the family Blake collection and family seat she never forgave highlights MB's pervasive sense of 'la chute' - of loss and dispossession throughout her life, of being an exile from a disappeared world, the haunted landscape of childhood, a lost England of the imagination.

Blondel examines Butts' subtle mytho-poetic imagination, a fusion of Hellenistic erudition (inspired by Jane Harrison's 'Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion') and a penetrating awareness of the folkloric numen and the 'visible Pan' of the English landscape and countryside viewed through the lens of childhood perception, focussed upon the mysterium of the Sanc-Grail. MB's interest in magic and the occult turns to weariness as she tires of the crassness and jejune pretensions of this type of outlook - she concludes perceptively that a single page of WB Yeats' 'Per Amica Silentia Lunae' is, qualitatively speaking, worth more than all the gaseous bombast of AC's 'Equinox', wisely eschewing the risible charade of the 'magical adept' but rather aspiring thenceforward to assume the mantle of the true artist and writer she was destined by Providence to be. Henceforth she pursues a literary-artistic vision which has been aptly termed 'modernist anti-modernism' - for the fascinating paradox of MB is that she deploys the stylistic idiom of literary modernism (in her beautiful elliptic prose-style with its tersely mannered, pertly chic and compressed poetics) but only to ultimately transcend that position in pursuit of a unique artistic vision of the Sacral, mirrored in mythic refractions of her own personal life-history experienced as an initiatic journey, replete with demonic trials and adversaries, portents, omens and supernatural ordeals, alight with the glory of a heroic quest pursued amid the distilled resentments, attractions, stratagems and frictions of human interactions, dysfunctional family relationships and the desacralization of the world by modernity, the 'obscene icons' of the counter-tradition and its sinister agencies who seek to subvert and destroy the eternal light of the Holy, embodied in such figures as the priestess-like Felicity Taverner who in a mysterious manner personifies the sanctity of the English landscape. Other works such as the amazing 'Mappa Mundi' and 'Brightness Falls' explore subtle intersections and perichoreses of the Imaginal geographies underlying mundane cityscapes of Paris and London with that rare visionary perception of haunting power which transpires at the 'hour of spiritual angularity'...

The detailed biographical account follows MB back to England and to her sojourn in the 1930s in Sennen, Cornwall, where ever-sensitive in her clairvoyant way to the atmospheres of Celtic lore, spirits and lingering ghosts of the local countryside she lived with her husband, the equally-troubled artist Gabriel Aitken. Here MB writes and works on doggedly amid growing domestic disharmony and malaise, still addicted to a potent mixture of alcohol and home-grown opium tea: but here her spiritual sensibility undergoes a mysterious and radical transfiguration after she becomes an epistolary friend of Charles Williams whose mystical novels she admires tremendously, signing her letters to him 'Under the Mercy' in the spirit of the 'Companions of the Co-Inherence' of whom she may be counted a fellow-wayfarer. Impressed and influenced by the charismatic priest Fr. Bernard Walke and guided by the Divine Grace of the Mystery whose presence she senses during Mass at the old Cornish church of St Hilary, MB converts to orthodox Christianity and from the mid 1930s to her death, she found her spiritual home in the Anglo-Catholic communion, renouncing the delusions of modernism and rooting herself in a Traditional position as a strong Royalist and Catholic Christian. MB emerges as a survivor, she comes through the storm of maleficent illusions which beset and deceive modern mankind - her conversion has the feel of a personal spiritual victory over darkness, a quiet miracle of Divine Grace.

Her final years at Sennen make for poignant reading, her health failing and struggling still to gain full recognition and support for her subtle and beautiful literary artistry. Her lonely death in 1937 comes as a sad and untimely event and although her name lived on as part of the bohemian legend of the 'Roaring Twenties', dressed a la mode at the Cafe Dome with her flaming red hair and jade ear-ring, Mary Butts literary legacy is perhaps only now being fully appreciated. This biography, with its copious photos and portraits, notes and annotations is a really wonderful and comprehensive resource on this unique writer and literary figure whose spiritual odyssey and artistic pre-occupations continue to intrigue and inspire...Mary Butts was an artist of rare genius and greatness and Nathalie Blondel's biography is a fine point of departure for the exploration and appreciation of her work and life
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The Rose-Garden Game. The Symbolic Background to the European Prayer-Beads.
The Rose-Garden Game. The Symbolic Background to the European Prayer-Beads.
by Eithne Wilkins
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars The History and Symbolism of the Rosary, 26 Aug 2012
Eithne Wilkin's 1969 book 'The Rose Garden Game' is a beautiful and very pleasing historical and symbolic study of the use of rosary beads primarily in the Catholic tradition of Western Christendom in mediaeval Europe (but including reference to the japa-mala of Hindu and Buddhist yoga and tasbih-beads of Islamic Sufism) - Wilkins' writing style is accessible, informal and enjoyable whilst remaining very informed, and throughout there runs a strain of poetic, aesthetic and mystical sensibility which enlivens her examination of the Rosary's development and the various facets of the symbolism of prayer-beads in Europe: there are plates and illustrations from the Middle Ages which show the strings and rosaries of prayer beads, both simple wooden ones and the more opulent jewelled rosaries of the nobility which were a sometimes ostentatious accessory of the mediaeval lady, verging occasionaly on frivolity (one recalls the amusing description of the Wife of Bath in Chaucer, whose rosary was adorned with the letter A for 'Amor'). Eithne Wilkins does a very good job in highlighting the profound Marian symbolism and mysticism which underlies the use of the Rosary in Catholic prayer and her writing on these subjects is alive with a spiritual sensitivity to the great stream of the mediaeval mystics, nor does she neglect the emblematic resonances of Christian Hermetism in this respect. One takes pleasure in the pictures of such beautiful works of sacred art, revealing the glories of International Gothic, such as the rosary altarpiece attributed to the Master of St Severin in Cologne and various other works of sacred art. Wilkins comments upon the almost child-like, ludistic and folkish quality of chanting upon beads and her book brings together various strands which combine to deepen one's appreciation of the history and usage of European prayer-beads. I was struck by the way she likened the chakras in yogic doctrine, situated along the sushumna-nadi, with the rosary beads threaded along a prayer-string, bringing to mind Rene Guenon's writings upon the symbolism of the sutratma, and reminding me of a rosary which I picked up in the 'gothic quarter' of Barcelona which has petalled rose-flower beads wrought in silver. A fruitful and eloquent study of the Rosary in Europe, skilfully interweaving art-history, folklore, religious devotion and high mysticism, which has not been bettered.


Vectors of the Counter-Initiation: The Course and Destiny of Inverted Spirituality
Vectors of the Counter-Initiation: The Course and Destiny of Inverted Spirituality
by Charles Upton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contra Luciferiani: Light amid the Darkness of the Kaliyuga, 25 Aug 2012
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'French philosopher René Guénon (1886-1951), who spent many years searching for a true esoteric Way, crossed paths with many false and subversive spiritualities before arriving at the threshold of Islamic Sufism. In his prophetic masterpiece The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times he classed the worst of these spiritualities as examples of the Counter-Initiation. Anti-Tradition - secularism and materialism - opposes religion; Counter-Tradition inverts it; and the esoteric essence of Counter-Tradition is the Counter-Initiation... The Counter-Initiation is the ego's idea of spirituality. It appears in the Old Testament as the Serpent in the garden, Cain's murder of Abel, the "sons of God who looked upon the daughters of men and found them fair," the Tower of Babel, the degeneration of Sodom, and the magicians of Pharaoh whom Moses defeated. In the New Testament it is personified by Judas, and in the Qur'an by the figure of as-Samiri, who forged the Golden Calf, and the angels Harut and Marut-testers of man by God's design-who taught magic to the human race in Babylon. For both traditions, it is destined to culminate in Antichrist.' (from the back cover)

'Vectors of the Counter-Initiation is undoubtedly a work of exceptional insight and highest importance, following in the illustrious footsteps of Shaykh Abd-al-Wahid Yahya and written from the authentic viewpoint of an orthodox Muslim and Sufi initiate. 'Vectors' is a more-than-timely book especially as we now witness the emergence of noxious falsifications of Tradition and as the 'Master of Cairo' himself predicted, facile lip-service even being paid to Tradition (or rather to infernal dissimulations thereof) by the very dupes of the dark agencies whose activities this book casts light upon. This book, in my opinion, is in a wholly different league to the general run of 'conspiracist' literature and its uniqueness lies precisely in the fact that Charles Upton's perspective is one deeply rooted in the metaphysics of Tradition and this work along with his other books evinces a formidable faculty of metaphysical intellectuality brought to bear upon the turbid darkness of pseudo-spiritual subversions which proliferate in the terminal phase of the Kaliyuga. Whilst the subjects and topics explored in this book, including a fascinating, disquieting section upon Ufological demonology and mind-manipulation, are quite wide-ranging I will here comment on a few selective chapters whose themes I found especially thought-provoking.

The chapters of 'Vectors' introduce the reader to the increasingly visible machinations of the Awliya al-Shaytan in our contemporary world, activities whose subversive goal is nothing less than the inversion of Sacred Tradition and culminating in the appearance of Al-Dajjal prior to the End of Time. There is a true wealth of material to be found here, much of it decidedly startling and far from reassuring but nonethless needful for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear and who are aware of the 'signs of the times' and their real import to contemporary man. I found the chapter on 'Magic and Tasawwuf' to be a profound and illuminating treatment of the problematics of magic considered from an authentic Sufi viewpoint, explaining why the pursuit of such inferior residues of deteriorated cosmological sciences is absolutely incompatible with genuine Tasawwuf and why such things should be renounced by any serious seeker of spiritual Truth (Upton points out that syncretism itself is always a hall mark of counter-traditional dissolution, degradation and disorder, including attempts to practise numerous forms simultaneously or to fuse elements from various traditional streams as we see from Afro-diasporic religio-magical phenomena to contemporary occultism) - a most pertinent thesis in these times where the toxic sludge-tide of witchcraft, sorcery, paganism and goety reaches full flood-swell, in connection with which the fallen angels Harut and Marut were obliged by the Divine Will to warn man: 'We are just a temptation'. Magical arts for the spiritually diminished man of this age can never access the domain of superior spiritual principles: despite the best of intentions such activities always involve the practitioners thereof in a downward drift toward the demonic and and infra-human as Upton makes all too clear regarding what really amounts to a pseudo-spiritual dead-end. The chapter on the 'Fall of the Jinn' is also of the highest relevance and conveys many sound insights which are of the greatest benefit.

The controversial chapter 'Corruptio Optimi Pessima' deals with Freemasonry and why, in the authors opinion, this phenomenon cannot be regarded as possessing regularity in the initiatic sense and may even have become a field for Counter-Initiatic activity - he cites an 18th century verse which traces the lineage of Masonry back to the builders of the Tower of Babel and we are reminded of Rene Guenon's words identifying the figure of Nimrod with 'Kshatriya revolt' and with those heterodoxic tendencies which inevitably manifest in and facilitate the Counter-Initiation - I was also reminded here of the old Cooke Mss. which states that Masonry derived from Tubal-Cain and Naamah and of the employment of the word 'Tubal-Cain' as a password in 18th century Freemasonry, bringing to mind the malefic aspect of metals in the context of the infra-psychic domain and sinister currents of Counter-initiatic deviation - in Upton's view Freemasonry, divorced from its original Christian matrix, represents the eroded remains of a once regular initiatic organisation descending from the Guilds of the Catholic Middle Ages but sadly one which centuries ago had already become progressively contaminated with counter-traditional elements and which has subsequently undergone grave degeneration - (this chapter also made me think about why such figures as Martines de Pasqually in the 18th century condemned the Masonry of his time as invalid or deficient [as 'apocryphal lodges of error'] and embarked with zeal upon his comparatively short-lived endeavour to rectify and spiritualise it within the context of orthodox Roman Catholicism, a mission sincerely pursued afterward by Jean Baptiste Willermoz.) One recalls that toward the end of his life Rene Guenon himself lost confidence in the rectification of Freemasonry as an avenue of initiatic filiation for contemporary man, concluding that things had gone past the point of no return in respect of the Craft.

Upton also makes a detailed examination of the history and nature of the Knights Templar and likewise explores the netherward-moving stages by which an originally regular Christian initiatory and chivalric organisation lapsed into heresy and deviation and the reasons why the worldly materialism, heterodoxy and corruption of the Templars eventually had to be addressed by the King and Pope - here I remembered Guenon's curious noting of the counterfeiting of coinage amongst the various charges levelled at the Templars and Upton examines the role which the Templars played in the financial and banking system of mediaeval economics with the emergence of usury as the basis of modern Western capitalism and their role as precursors of the globalist banking and financial establishments of our own day and of course Upton is not negligent in exploring the pseudo-esoteric and pseudo-intiatic subversions which are intimately intertwined therein in respect of Templary and Freemasonry. His highlighting the affinities and possible cross-fertilization between Javanmardi/Futuwwah guilds of mediaeval Islamic world and the Craft are also extremely interesting as is his interpretation of the famous Seal of the Knights Templar and its original esoteric significance - a very controversial chapter which will likely ruffle feathers in some quarters but which sadly does seem to reflect an organisation which having seen better days has by degrees declined into an extreme state of decadence and worldliness, its activities and participants largely non-spiritual or even anti-spiritual in character (despite some noble exceptions, admittedly few in number) in line with the vague Enlightenment-era 'deism' or indeed the atheistic and anti-clerical complexion of large sectors of the Craft - personally I found that many of Upton's conclusions did indeed ring true and confirm Guenon's final pessimism regarding the forlorn possibility of reforming Freemasonry as a real initiatic path for contemporary man. And as Louis Charbonneau-Lassay had noted much of the symbolism of Freemasonry was hardly exclusive but in reality belonged, as one would expect of orthodox Catholic Christian stonemasons-associations, to the wider symbolic heritage of mediaeval Christendom and Christian Hermetism anyway. Masonry, according to Upton, long ago ceased to offer man the possibility of that spiritual 'edification' which was its original ambit, having been infiltrated and turned to far less salutary purposes. Whether one accepts Upton's conclusions in part or 'in toto' (and I personally, as did Guenon, feel that the older Masonic tradition preserved to some degree a deposit of primordial symbolism which may in certain cases transmit spiritual and esoteric content), his theses are certainly thought-provoking and worthy of serious consideration.

Chapter 11 'The Fall of Lucifer - A Synthesis of Emanationist and Volitional Theodicy' is a really masterful exposition of the 'problem of evil' in the context of the Fall of Lucifer and the rebel angels which expounds with clarity the metaphysical doctrine of the Tradition regarding these vexed matters, so clouded in confusion (indeed deliberately so) in an epoch such as ours which extols subjectivist ego-rebellion, delusional arrogance (pride, the sin of Lucifer) and nihilistic deviation - this essay is a real antidote to the false thinking which leads some to mistakenly conclude that evil, being in Augustinian terms, a 'privatio boni', therefore doesn't exist and need not be reckoned with - as Upton shows us evil as a privative 'possibility of the impossible', a kind of absurdity in ontological terms is nonetheless characterised by its tendencies to centrifugal dispersion, subversion, inversion and destruction and reveals how the Fall of Lucifer is intimately identified with the human experience of evil within us and outside us and with those tendencies which animate the counter-traditional action of modernity and indeed with the baleful presence and operation of the Counter-Initiation in the latter days of the Kaliyuga. For those whose minds are distorted, seduced and deluded by the 'luciferian' mirages of the fallen ego, the Nafs, and its wider expressions in the world of modernity Upton's book will doubtless cause consternation, contemptuous denial and displeasure and such unfortunate individuals (sometimes deceived by the phony rhetoric of an an alleged 'left hand path' of antinomian 'spiritual dissent', which is only a modern construct deriving from Blavatskian theosophism, itself a highly dubious phenomena) must needs in any case simply play out in somnambulistic fashion the subversive role alotted to them in the design of things as 'useful idiots', instruments of the Awliya al-Shaytan, the 'Friends of Iblis' or 'Brethren of Turbidity and Misfortune', for at the End of Time only the most inferior residues, strange, abnormal and base possibilities, remain to be be exhausted - but for serious seekers who wish to have a deeper understanding of the tenebrous 'Powers, Principalities and Dominions' of darkness who increasingly hold sway and manipulate affairs from behind the deceptive facade of the contemporary world and who aim to heed the teachings of the sages and prophets of Tradition this work by Charles Upton is a very welcome and illuminating work, characterised by a magisterial grasp of Traditional metaphysics, rooted in authentic sacred knowledge and supported by a deep and wide-ranging erudition, conveying a wealth of valuable historical and literary-poetic materials ancillary to the deep metaphysical exposition which underpins the whole book.

This is a remarkable and impressive book which shines a dispassionate light into some decidedly shadowy aspects of the contemporary world, its counter-traditional, subversive and anti-theistic slide toward 'inverted spirituality' and which realistically clarifies the direction in which things are being impelled by murky forces and agencies. Whilst hardly an entirely reassuring read, Charles Upton's book nonetheless bears a highly positive message insofar as it constitutes a sincere counsel to recognize and then eschew pseudo-spiritual falsehood, promethean gigantism and occultist subversion and to turn back to the real Tradition in one of its regular and orthodox forms, resigning oneself to the Will of Heaven amid the spiritual crisis of these perilous times. Whilst dealing with undeniably dark themes 'Vectors' is a very content-rich and spiritually articulate book throughout which Upton's writing oftimes glitters with esoteric insights, like a crystalline prism reflecting and capturing rays of the primordial light of Hyperborean Gnosis.


Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul
Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul
by Titus Burckhardt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.15

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Exploration of the Art of Hermes, 21 Aug 2012
Titus Burckhardt's book on alchemy is perhaps the best and most satisfying treatment of this complex subject available, and explores the whole of the Ars Regia from an authentically traditional perspective. Burckhardt was a Muslim and we see from the outset that emerging from the decadence, disintegration and chaos of late pagan antiquity, as a matter of necessity and survival, the Hermetic tradition had to be preserved within the spiritual context of the orthodox Abrahamic revelations - that is to say that for several millennia a Hermetist was invariably a devout Muslim, Jew or Christian. Alchemy and the other cosmological sciences transmitted under the aegis of `Thrice Great Hermes', could only survive by being synthesized and assimilated organically into the monotheistic world-view of the Abrahamic religions in the West.

Titus Burckhardt examines the initiatory transposition which the Hermetic arts are susceptible to in great detail and brings a deep quality of piercing insight to bear upon the subject which makes this book a unique work of its kind - he considers the teachings and methods of the Royal Art in their original context, eschewing the inadequate pyschologizing tendencies of Jung. In particular he explains why, considering the colour symbolism of white and red, the hues corresponding to what the Hindu doctrine of the Gunas terms Sattva and Rajas, the final goal of the Opus Alchymicum is the Red Stone or Elixir - where Julius Evola mistakenly interpreted this symbolism via the distorted lens of `Kshatriya revolt' and posited an erroneous view by which the primacy of Action/Regnum over Knowledge/Sacerdotium was asserted ( perpetuating an inversion of the true spiritual hierarchic order of the Tradition which always leads to `luciferian' heterodoxy and malefic falsehood and which underlies the whole deviation of modernity), Burckhardt reveals the true significance of this colour sequence in the alchemical Work - as a secondary science pertaining to the cosmological realm Alchemy (like Astrology and other contingent applications of Hermetic knowledge, including those relating to artisanal crafts) belongs to the Lesser Mysteries and the goal of the Red Work reveals the precise limits and scope of the Parva Mysteria - rather than aiming at complete transcendence via attainment of the supra-formal degree of the Supreme Identity which is the term of the Magna Mysteria, Alchemy explicitly sought to realise the `materialization of the spirit' in the Lapis Philosophorum and the Red Tincture thus deliberately alludes to this degree of attainment within the formal cosmological domain (albeit conveying a symbolism perfectly capable of being transposed onto a superior spiritual and initiatic plane as we see in the `station of the Red Sulphur' in Islamic esoterism). Thus we see a demonstration of how in a Traditional civilization everything is to be found in its proper place within the hierarchic order of Reality.

The chapter on the Alchemical work understood within methods of invocation and prayer expounds the teaching of Ibn `Arabi in a really illuminating way and contains a beautiful and fruitful exegesis of the `Angelical Salutation' interpreted along these lines. This book contains a wealth of esoteric insight into alchemy and the hermetic sciences as they were understood and practised in the West and is probably the most accurate treatment of this subject presently available. The chapters on the mysteries of Sulphur, Quicksilver and Salt, the stages of the Work and the verses of the Emerald tablet of Hermes Trismegistus upon which he provides a rich and penetrating commentary, highlighting the affinity with the genuine Tantric and yogic streams in oriental traditions. The unbroken lineage of transmission of the secondary arts and sciences of the Hermetic Tradition (Alchymia, Astrologia, Magia) emanating from the schools wherein these were preserved and taught, ended in the West after the fading of the Middle Ages - (a brief final efflorescence in the early Renaissance failed to counteract the negative tendencies of a worldly `neo-paganizing' humanism, which effectively dissolved the theocentric spiritual world-view which was integral to their authentic doctrine and method - a situation ushering in the ascent of modernity.) With the loss of the authentic lineal continuity of the living chain of transmission along with the preservation in their original state of initiatic regularity within the matrix of an orthodox spiritual Tradition the Hermetic arts in the West foundered, withered and fragmented: based only upon doubtful attempts at revival outside of a normative spiritual Tradition, usually upon mendacious warrants or mere reconstitution from literary texts the Hermetic arts of Alchymia, Astrologia and Magia in the West have long since gone into terminal decline and degenerated into mediocre occultism of a questionable validity and clearly heteroclite complexion (the term `spiritual materialism' accurately describes the decayed state of such things in the modern West as syncretic manifestations of occultism, sorcery and neo-paganism, not to mention the distinctly demonic and degenerate strains which inevitably become all too visible therein.) So Alchemy, Magia and Astrology no longer can be said to actually exist in the West as living and regular expressions in the context of sacred Tradition, but rather as Seyyed Hossein Nasr has stated we now see only inferior psychic residues which contribute to the growing darkness and confusion of the late Kali Yuga. (To find authentic transmissions of such cosmological sciences as living arts one must look instead to the spiritual-cultural sphere of the Orient). Nonetheless even if the Post Judaeo-Christian West has witnessed the decay and demise of the Hermetic arts and sciences which, lacking an unbroken chain of masters and transmission of Baraqah, have long ago been supplanted by pseudo-spiritual subversions and tenebrous counterfeits, those remains of true Hermetism which Titus Burckhardt considers and interprets can still yield an authentically primordial and initiatic symbolism which in certain cases may form the efficacious support of a contemplative approach leading to spiritual realisations - the Spirit bloweth where it listeth.

The study of Titus Burckhardt's book can open the gateway to a genuine apprehension of the essence of the Hermetic wisdom. Alongside this work one might also profitably study Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr's incomparable writings upon Islamic cosmological sciences, and Maurice Aniane's magnificent monograph `Notes sur Alchemie, Yoga cosmologique de la Chretiente medievale' which shows how the cosmological sciences of the Lesser Mysteries, from alchemy to masonry and heraldry, formed an essential element of harmonious balance within the spiritual economy of medieval Christendom, and the profound essay `Hermetic Wisdom in Islam' by the Traditionalist writer Zachary Markwith.


Muslim Devotions: A Study of Prayer-Manuals in Common Use (Ma Study of Prayer-Manuals in Common Use)
Muslim Devotions: A Study of Prayer-Manuals in Common Use (Ma Study of Prayer-Manuals in Common Use)
by Constance E. Padwick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Florilegium of Islamic prayers and devotions., 27 July 2012
This excellent work, originally published in 1960 presents a copious wealth of English translations of Muslim prayers, devotions, invocations, supplications and recitals: Constance Padwick drew upon the abundance of prayer-manuals circulating in the contemporary Muslim world and whilst her primary aim was to highlight this realm of popular devotionalism it is inevitably the case that these prayers overlap to a considerable extent with invocations, of the type of the Wird and the Darood, employed in the various Sufic Turuq and thus she often presents materials relating to the esoteric domain properly speaking - the various sections and examples Padwick gives are fascinating and her detailed commentary is erudite and informed, underpinning one's appreciation of this packed compilation of popular Muslim prayer-formulae, including fascinating lore on the Bismillah, invocations of Sakina, petitions, prayers for the intercession of the Prophets, Tasbih and Taqdis and much more, drawing upon Shia and Sunni traditions and highlighting affinities with Syriac Christian practises and prayers (whist discountenancing the heteroclite abuses or deterioration thereof in the inferior domain pertaining to magical arts). The appendix provides a comprehensive list of the prayer-manuals cited, numerous works published in Instanbul, Bombay, Lahore, Cairo, Baghdad and Delhi.

A delightful example, with parallels in the practises of the Judaeo-Christian world, is this brief, beautiful prayer to the four Archangels of the Throne, (the 'four Pirs of Reality' as an artisanal initiation eulogizes them) from the 'Fathu 'r-rasul' of 'Uthman al-Mirghani:

" The faithful one Jibril on my right, the faithful one Mika'il on my left, the faithful one Israfil before me and the faithful one 'Azrail behind me, and God behind them enclosing all."

Profane modern man is immersed in materialistic delusions, sunk in 'shirq' and the torments of the 'misery of the rebel' - by contrast these exquisite devotional recitations all breathe the serene bliss of total submission to the Divine Will and unveil the supernal radiance which shines eternally at the heart of Islam. This compilation is a rich treasury of Islamic popular spirituality and prayer and provides a wondrous resource for those who seek deeper knowledge, conveying myriads of beauteous flashes and beguiling gleams of esoteric wisdom - in a Darood of the Prophets we find the assertion that 'The wearing of wool belongs to the prophet of God, Yahya' ('Wasiyya' of 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani in 'al-Fuyudatu 'r-rabbiniyya'). For any sincere follower of one of the branches of the orthodox Abrahamic filiation reading and contemplating this powerful anthology of prayers and supplications to God, the Prophets, Saints and Friends, is undoubtedly salutary, inspiring and beneficial, disclosing a balm and antidote against the toxic and infernal influences of the nafs al-ammara - for the golden thread running through all these devout formulae is the doctrine of the Straight Path which exhorts us, in the words of Ahmad ibn 'Ibad, in his 'al-Mafakhiru 'l-'aliyya':

'Beware of pride for pride prevented Iblis from prostrating himself to Adam. Beware of greed for greed led Adam to eat from the tree. And beware of envy for it was only from envy that one of the two sons of Adam killed his fellow'.


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