Perspectives on Initiation
The present volume is unique in giving a comprehensive account both of the conditions of initiation and of the characteristics of organizations qualified to transmit it. The book presents such central principles as the dangers and barrenness of syncretism, the often dire consequences of fostering ‘psychic powers’, and the superiority of sacerdotal initiation (into the Greater Mysteries) over ‘royal’ initiation (into the Lesser Mysteries), though both are necessary parts of the initiatic path. This last point precisely defines the rift between Guénon and Julius Evola, whose elevation of royal initiation over sacerdotal must be seen, according to Guénon’s criteria, as a modern-day echo of the ancient revolt of the warrior caste against the priestly one. Whoever follows Guénon’s argument will realize that a romantic warrior mysticism held no fascination for him, and is in fact explicitly contrary to his principles. But pre-eminently, Perspectives on Initiation provides indispensable points of reference for anyone attempting to distinguish between ‘initiatic’, ‘pseudo-initiatic’, and ‘countert-initiatic’ spiritualities in these profoundly uncertain times.
Table of Contents
The Initiatic and Mystical Paths—Magic and Mysticism—Various Errors Concerning Initiation—Conditions for Initiation—Initiatic Regularity—Synthesis and Syncretism—Against Mixing Traditional Forms—Initiatic Transmission—Tradition and Transmission—Initiatic Centers—Initiatic Organizations and Religious Sects—Initiatic Organizations and Secret Societies—The Initiatic Secret—Initiatic Qualifications—Initiatic Rites—Rite and Symbol—Myths, Mysteries, and Symbols—Symbolism and Philosophy—Rites and Ceremonies—Ceremonial Magic—Psychic 'Powers'—The Rejection of 'Powers'—Sacraments and Initiatic Rites—Prayer and Incantation—Initiatic Trials—Initiatic Death—Profane and Initiatic Names—The Symbolism of the Theater—'Operative' and 'Speculative'—Effective and Virtual Initiation—Initiatic Teaching—The Limits of the Mental—Initiatic Knowledge and Profane 'Culture'—Academic Mentality and Pseudo-Initiation—Initiation and 'Passivity'—Initiation and 'Service'—The Gift of Tongues—Rose-Cross and Rosicrucians—Greater and Lesser Mysteries—Sacerdotal and Royal Initiation—Some Reflections on Hermeticism—Transmutation and Transformation—The Notion of an Elite—The Initiatic Hierarchy—Traditional Infallibility—Two Initiatic Devices—Verbum, Lux, and Vita—The Birth of the Avatara
In the exercise of the central function of restoring the great principles of traditional metaphysic to Western awareness this true jñanin gave proof of a universality of understanding that for centuries had had no parallel in the Western world.
Frithjof Schuon,Language of the Self
No living writer in modern Europe is more significant than René Guénon, whose task it has been to expound the universal metaphysical tradition that has been the essential foundation of every past culture, and which represents the indispensable basis for any civilization deserving to be so called.
A. K. Coomaraswamy, The Bugbear of Literacy