Insights into Christian Esoterism

René Guénon

Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2001.
136 pages
Paperback
ISBN: 0-900588-33-0
Price: $18.95 US
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Hardcover
ISBN: 0-900588-39-X
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One of René Guénon’s lifelong quests was to discover, or revive, the esoteric, initiatory dimension of the Christian tradition. In the present volume, along with its companion volume The Esoterism of Dante, Guénon undertakes to establish that the three parts of The Divine Comedy represent the stages of initiatic realization, exploring the parallels between the symbolism of the Commedia and that of Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, and Christian Hermeticism, and illustrating Dante’s knowledge of traditional sciences unknown to the moderns: the sciences of numbers, of cosmic cycles, and of sacred astrology. In these works Guénon also touches on the all-important question of medieval esoterism and discusses the role of sacred languages and the principle of initiation in the Christian tradition, as well as such esoteric Christian themes and organizations as the Holy Grail, the Guardians of the Holy Land, the Sacred Heart, the Fedeli d’Amore and the ‘Courts of Love’, and the Secret Language of Dante. One chapter in the present volume, ‘Christianity and Initiation’, is of special interest with regard to the history of the Traditionalist School. When first published as an article, it gave rise to some controversy because Guénon here reaffirmed his denial of the efficacy of the Christian sacraments as rites of initiation, a point of divergence between the teachings of Guenon and those of other key perennialist thinkers. Both The Esoterism of Dante and Insights into Christian Esoterism will be of inestimable value to all who are struggling to come to terms with the fullness of the Christian tradition.

Table of Contents

Editorial Note

I STRUCTURE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION

Concerning Sacred Languages—Christianity and Initiation

II SOME CHRISTIAN INITIATIC ORGANIZATIONS

The Guardians of the Holy Land—The Secret Language of Dante and the 'Fedeli d' Amore' [I]—The Secret Language of Dante and the 'Fedeli d' Amore' [II]—New Insights into the Secret Language of Dante—'Fedeli d'Amore' and 'Courts of Love'—The Holy Grail—The Sacred Heart and The Legend of the Holy Grail—Saint Bernard—List of Original Sources

About the Author

René Guénon (1886–1951) was one of the great luminaries of the twentieth century, whose critique of the modern world has stood fast against the shifting sands of intellectual fashion. His extensive writings, now finally available in English, are a providential treasure-trove for the modern seeker: while pointing ceaselessly to the perennial wisdom found in past cultures ranging from the Shamanistic to the Indian and Chinese, the Hellenic and Judaic, the Christian and Islamic, and including also Alchemy, Hermeticism, and other esoteric currents, they direct the reader also to the deepest level of religious praxis, emphasizing the need for affiliation with a revealed tradition even while acknowledging the final identity of all spiritual paths as they approach the summit of spiritual realization. His greatest contributions are a blindingly lucid exposition of the principles of orthodoxy and traditional metaphysics, an uncompromising critique of the deviation of modernism, and a breath-taking view of the polyvalence of traditional symbols. Implicit in these three genres, as in all Guénon's writing, is the need for personal affiliation with an orthodox tradition as a precondition for a bona fide spiritual practice that might lead, at least in principle, to the intellectual intuition of which he speaks. Little known in the English-speaking world till the recent appearance of his Collected Works in translation, Guénon has nevertheless long been recognized as a veritable criterion of truth by a vanguard of remarkable writers who evince that rare combination: intellectuality and spirituality. Regarded by leading scholars as the first truly authentic interpreter of many Eastern doctrines in the West, Guénon never tired, in face of the seemingly inexorable process of dissolution in the twentieth century, of pointing to the transcendent unity of all religious faiths and the abiding Truth that contains them all.