Symbols of Sacred Science

René Guénon

Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2004.
476 pages
Paperback
ISBN: 0-900588-77-2
Price: $23.95 US
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Hardcover
ISBN: 0-900588-78-0
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The articles that comprise Symbols of the Sacred Science appeared in a number of French journals and were only collected after the author’s death. Though many of his themes, such as those of the Grail, the Tree of Life, and the Center of the World, are dealt with in other books, the present volume constitutes a kind of ‘bibliography’ of books Guénon found neither time nor pressing call to write, for nearly every article is so pregnant with meaning that it could have been expanded into an independent work. But the same thread of symbolic exegesis woven here into so rich a tapestry does also run through many of Guénon’s other books, including Traditional Forms and Cosmic CyclesThe King of the World, and The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times. As traditionalist scholar Roger Maridort writes: ‘The traditional cosmological knowledge to be found in these works constitutes a sum-total of such knowledge that has no equivalent in any language.’ And we might add that, drawing upon a wide-ranging knowledge of mythology and religious symbolism, and a profound grasp of metaphysical truth, Symbols of the Sacred Science moves at a different level than the works of such writers as Robert Graves, Joseph Campbell, and Carl Jung and his followers, whose commentaries are restricted largely to psychological and socio-historical themes. Far more than a simple catalogue of myths and symbols from many traditions, Symbols of the Sacred Science lays the foundation for a universal esoteric symbology. In this work, Guénon demonstrates the fundamental unity—across all cultures and ages—of the images with which the Absolute clothes itself in its cosmic self-revelation.

Table of Contents

TRADITIONAL SYMBOLISM AND SOME OF ITS GENERAL APPLICATIONS

The Reform of the Modern Mentality / Word and Symbol—The Sacred Heart and the Legend of the Holy Grail—The Holy Grail—Tradition and the 'Unconscious'—The Science of Letters ('Ilm al-huruf)—The Language of the Birds

SYMBOLS OF THE CENTER AND OF THE WORLD

The Idea of the Center in the Traditions of Antiquity—Symbolic Flowers—The Triple Precinct of the Druids—The Guardians of the Holy Land—The Land of the Sun—The Zodiac and the Cardinal Points—The Tetraktys and the Square of Four—A Hieroglyph of the Pole—The Black Heads—The Letter 'G' and the Swastika

SYMBOLS OF CYCLIC MANIFESTATION

Some Aspects of the Symbolism of Janus—The Hieroglyph of Cancer—Seth—The Significance of Carnivals—Some Aspects of the Symbolism of the Fish—The Mysteries of the Letter Nun—The Wild Boar and the Bear

SOME SYMBOLIC WEAPONS

Thunderbolts—Symbolic Weapons—The Sword of Islam (Sayf al-Islam)—The Symbolism of Horns

THE SYMBOLISM OF THE FORMS OF THE COSMOS

The Cave and the Labyrinth—The Heart and the Cave—The Mountain and the Cave—The Heart and the World Egg—The Cave and the World Egg—The Exit from the Cave—The Solstitial Gates—The Symbolism of the Zodiac Among the Pythagoreans—The Solstitial Symbolism of Janus—Concerning the Two Saint Johns

THE SYMBOLISM OF BUILDING

The Symbolism of the Dome—The Dome and The Wheel—The Narrow Gate—The Octagon—The Cornerstone—Lapsit exillisAl-Arkan—Gathering What is Scatterred—The Black and The White—Black Stone and Cubic Stone—Black Stone, Hewn Stone

AXIAL SYMBOLISM AND THE SYMBOLISM OF PASSAGE

Symbols of Analogy—The World Tree—The Tree and The Vajra—The Tree of Life and The Draught of Immortality—The Symbolism of the Ladder—The Eye of the Needle—Traversing the Waters—The Seven Rays and The Rainbow—Janua CoeliKala-mukha—Light and Rain—The Chain of the Worlds—The Roots of Plants—The Symbolism of the Bridge—The Bridge and The Rainbow—The Chain of Union—Frameworks and Labyrinths—The 'Sign of Four'—Bonds and Knots

THE SYMBOLISM OF THE HEART

Radiating Heart and Flaming Heart—Heart and Brain—The Sacred Heart Emblem in an American Secret Society —The All-Seeing Eye—The Mustard Seed—The Ether in the Heart—The Divine City

Praise

The Collected Works of René Guénon brings together the writings of one of the greatest prophets of our time, whose voice is even more important today than when he was alive.
Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions

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.