Traditional Forms and Cosmic Cycles
The articles collected in this volume represent some of the most unusual from Guénon’s pen. They could be described as fragments of an unknown history, a history reaching back through prehistory to protohistory, for they begin with the Primordial Tradition contemporaneous with the beginnings of present humanity. The text opens with a study on cosmic cycles, taking as point of departure the Hindu doctrine of the Manvantara, though similar doctrines appear in Greco-Roman antiquity, among Jewish Kabbalists, Islamic Sufis and Ismailis, and in the Hopi, Lakota, and Maya nations of the New World. Essential to this doctrine is that earlier ages differed qualitatively from ours, which may explain why our historicism and archaeology have yet to come to grips with ‘Hyperborea’ and ‘Atlantis’, despite the many clues embedded throughout mythology, folklore, sacred architecture, etc. That is, our own time’s quality cannot simply be projected backwards into past ages. In presenting Hyperborean and Atlantean lore—the cyclical mysteries of the West and the North—as well as material on the Hebrew Kabbalah and Egyptian Hermeticism, Guénon successfully transmits the requisite sense of such ‘other’ times, which for some may awaken the intuition of higher levels of Being.
Table of Contents
Some Remarks on the Doctrine of Cosmic Cycles (with book reviews)
Atlantis and Hyperborea—The Place of the Atlantean Tradition in theManvantara
A Few Remarks on the Name Adam—Kabbalah—Kabbalah and The Science of Numbers—La Kabbale juive of Paul Vulliaud—The Siphra di-Tzeniutha (with book reviews)
The Hermetic Tradition—Hermes—Hermes' Tomb
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
René Guénon was the twentieth century's chief ambassador for the Perennial Philosophy. His mixture of arcane learning, metaphysics, and scathing cultural commentary is a continent in itself, untouched by the polluted tides of modernity. One need not accept it all, but a voyage to it is indispensable for those who yearn to understand the deeper currents of religion and history. Guénon's work will not save the world—it is much too late for that—but it leaves no reader unchanged.
Jocelyn Godwin, author of Music, Mysticism and Magic
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.