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“Fair Nottamun Town”: Mystical and Alchemical Symbolism in an Appalachian Folk Song

One of the trademarks of traditional Appalachian folk singer Jean Ritchie is a song called “Fair Nottamun Town,” which passed to her through her family. (Bob Dylan used the same tune for his song “Masters of War.”) She tells how she and her sisters, as children, used to sit in the evenings on the porch of their farmhouse near the town of Hazard in Perry County, Kentucky, and try to untangle its meaning. In later years, on a trip to England, she learned that “Nottamun Town” is a version of the English mummer-song “Nottingham Town,” and that the song has a taboo on it: whoever figures out its meaning will lose all of his or her luck.

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Perspectives on the End Times

Those writers of the Traditionalist school who deal most directly with eschatology—René Guénon, Martin Lings and Leo Schaya—do not anticipate an earthly millennium of the latter days. They are not chiliasts. They do, however, see a brief “restoration” before the end of the cycle.

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The Legend of the Tollhouses

In the Eastern Orthodox Church there is a tradition regarding the “aerial tollhouses” which the soul encounters after death. Though it does not have the force of dogma, it is recounted by such Church Fathers as St. John Chrysostom, St. Athanasius the Great and St. Ephraim the Syrian.

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Charles Upton’s Legends of the End

In Legends of the End, Charles Upton dares to question the literal notions of the apocalypse and the ‘End Times’ in religious scriptures as real events that are imminent, and instead reveals an esoteric and metaphysical reading of mythology that uses ‘Facing the Apocalypse’ as a form of spiritual therapy.

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What About Neglected Traditions?

The Traditionalist School once embraced Hindu members, including Ananda K. Coomaraswamy and A. K. Saran; a prominent Buddhist member, Marco Pallis; and an element of Judaism through Leo Schaya (although Schaya himself was a Muslim), through his book The Universal Meaning of the Kabbalah [Sophia Perennis] and his important article “The Eliatic Function” which appeared in Studies in Comparative Religion. But who are the Hindu, the Muslim, the Jewish Traditionalists/Perennialists of today?

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“Principial” Psychology: The Tripartite Human Psyche in Fall and Restoration

The tripartite nature of the human microcosm—Spirit, soul and body—which is directly correlated with the tripartite nature of the created macrocosm—the Celestial/Intelligible/Spiritual plane, the psychic/imaginal plane, and the physical/sensual plane—is reflected on a lower level within the soul or psyche itself. In line with this truth, we can say that the human soul is made up of three primary faculties: the rational mind, the affections, and the will.

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Christianity and the Traditionalists by Jennifer Doane Upton

There’s a real and intrinsic relationship between the Traditionalists and Christianity—but more than in the case of the other traditions there also seems to be an antagonism. Traditionalists often come to their knowledge through “pure mind”; this phrase, however, can indicate both true Intellection and mere mental acuity, and the same person can display both aspects at different times.

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Christianity and Exclusivism by Charles Upton and Jennifer Doane Upton

Traditional Christianity is nothing if not exclusivist. As a new revelation that entered the decadent world of Greco-Roman Paganism and survived as an outlawed sect in the Roman Empire for its first 300 years, it has good historical reasons for its exclusivist stance. As with the Jews vis-à-vis the fertility cults of the Near East, it was surrounded by religions that had mostly lost any sense of transcendence; a mighty effort had to be made to prevent Jesus Christ from being syncretized with other Pagan deities “as just another dying are resurrected god” like Attis or Adonis.

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The Transcendent Unity of Religions and the Orthodoxy of the Revelations

According to my understanding of Traditionalist doctrine, the Revelations must be understood in their own terms because each is “quasi-absolute”; Traditionalism in and of itself is not at meta-doctrine standing above and outside the Revelations by which they can be criticized and evaluated, since such a doctrine could only be based on a new Revelation, and Traditionalism does not claim to be such a Revelation.

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Purgatory as a Type of the Spiritual Path by Jennifer Doane Upton

As many have pointed out, the Divine Comedy is a complete map of the spiritual life. In the Inferno, sin— both moral and intellectual—is discovered; in the Purgatorio, it is expiated; in the Paradiso, Divine Love leads on to spiritual Knowledge.

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