6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Idiosyncratic Interpretation, Erudite and Brilliant Symbolic insights,
This review is from: The Hermetic Tradition: Symbols and Teachings of the Royal Art (Paperback)This is a highly stimulating, if sometimes idiosyncratic, exploration of the Alchemical tradition written from a distinctive initiatic viewpoint. Julius Evola depicts the Alchemical tradition as being characterized by the 'virile-heroic' disposition rather than a 'religio-mystical' perspective, toward which he is consistently hostile. This viewpoint of course overlooks the continual exhortation throughout the texts of the Royal Art to a life of intense prayer on the part of the alchemist, the concept of the laboratory as mystical oratory as shown by Heinrich Khunrath and others and the persistent concept of the secret of the Lapis Philosophorum as the 'Gift of God' , the 'Donum Dei', revealed by the miracle of Grace to His elect. In fact Evola's attitudes here may be rather more influenced by 19th century anti-clericalism, Nietszchean nihilism, Spenglerian historicism and political modernist agendas than any genuine traditional Hermetico-alchemical authority, all the more so when one considers just how prominent Christian priests, monks, abbots and even popes have always been as practitioners and masters of the Hermetic Art during the last few millenia. (For instance one recalls the image of Father Nikolaus Melchior Cibinensis and his revelations of the Catholic Mass as the supreme operation of spiritual Alchemy.) Evola's quirks in describing the Hermetic Tradition as one remote from the 'religio-mystical' character and approach is simply not borne out by acquaintance with the Tradition itself as a true spiritual science with an authentic salvific-gnostic and soteriological complexion.
Also consider that the original 'Age of Gold', such as the Satya Yuga in Hindu Tradition, corresponds always to the Brahminic function and that the sacerdotal power is invariably regarded as the apex of the traditional spiritual world-view. The reader should study the magisterial works of Rene Guenon on these matters of the perennial Tradition and bear in mind that the so-called 'revolt of the Kshatriya' in truth marks the first deviation from, and symptom of decline of the Tradition. (The figure of the universal sovereign in fact unites both sacerdotal and regal functions in the Primordial Tradition.) The Royal Art of Alchemy in reality belongs to the highest function of the Traditional hierarchy and is the prerogative of the sacerdotal power of the Royal Priesthood. However if one can disregard this persistent, and sometimes misleading, Neo-Ghibelline/Kshatriya pre-occupation which colours and soemtimes distorts Evola's interpretations of myths and symbols there is plenty to be impressed by in this study - it's hard not to be dazzled by the 'Black Baron's amazing range of erudition in the Hermetic literature and his fecund and provocative insights certainly convince one of the brilliance and depth of his esoteric vision and realisation of hermetic truths. This is certainly an impressive exposition of the Alchemical Tradition by a mind of peculiar penetration and symbolic-analogical range. Evola's exploration of the Royal Art of Hermes illuminates, stimulates and commands respect. The Evolan perspective, refracted through the principle of Kshatram/Rajanya, here illuminates the inner significance of Alchemy, not as plant spagyrics (which can only be a secondary or tertiary application of alchemical principles in the medical realm rather than Alchemy proper) or the 'psychologism' of Jungian individuation - but as the authentic primordial initiatic science of the Tradition.
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Initial post: 19 Jan 2010 21:29:55 GMT
Mysterium Ineffable says:
Excellent review, thank you. I especially enjoyed your insights into the possible influence of "anti-clericalism, Nietszchean nihilism, Spenglerian historicism and political modernist agendas" in Evola's thought.
In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jan 2010 21:08:57 GMT
Nigel C. Jackson says:
Dhakir hello and glad you found the review stimulating. I guess you may already be acquainted with Titus Burckhardt's 'Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul' which is perhaps the most outstanding treatment of the Hermetic Art from an authentic Traditionalist-Perennialist perspective. In particular I think Burckhardt resolves the issues surrounding the colour sequence of the Opus in the light of the three Gunas and what this says about the specific scope and limits of Alchemy as a secondary cosmological science, albeit one whose symbolism is capable of being transposed into a genuinely spiritual-initiatic domain.
All the Best,
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