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The Hermetic Tradition: Symbols and Teachings of the Royal Art

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This important survey of alchemical symbols and doctrines sets forth the mysterious worldview and teachings of the practitioners of the "royal art." One of the leading exponents of the Hermetic tradition, Julius Evola demonstrates the singularity of subject matter that lies behind the words of all adepts in all ages, showing how alchemy--often misunderstood as primitive ch This important survey of alchemical symbols and doctrines sets forth the mysterious worldview and teachings of the practitioners of the "royal art." One of the leading exponents of the Hermetic tradition, Julius Evola demonstrates the singularity of subject matter that lies behind the words of all adepts in all ages, showing how alchemy--often misunderstood as primitive chemistry or a mere template for the Jungian process of "individuation"--is nothing less than a universal secret science of human and natural transformation. First published in 1931 in Italian. This is the first English translation. Draws from a host of sources in the Western esoteric tradition--works on theurgy, magic, and gnosticism from neoplatonic, Arab, and medieval sources.


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This important survey of alchemical symbols and doctrines sets forth the mysterious worldview and teachings of the practitioners of the "royal art." One of the leading exponents of the Hermetic tradition, Julius Evola demonstrates the singularity of subject matter that lies behind the words of all adepts in all ages, showing how alchemy--often misunderstood as primitive ch This important survey of alchemical symbols and doctrines sets forth the mysterious worldview and teachings of the practitioners of the "royal art." One of the leading exponents of the Hermetic tradition, Julius Evola demonstrates the singularity of subject matter that lies behind the words of all adepts in all ages, showing how alchemy--often misunderstood as primitive chemistry or a mere template for the Jungian process of "individuation"--is nothing less than a universal secret science of human and natural transformation. First published in 1931 in Italian. This is the first English translation. Draws from a host of sources in the Western esoteric tradition--works on theurgy, magic, and gnosticism from neoplatonic, Arab, and medieval sources.

30 review for The Hermetic Tradition: Symbols and Teachings of the Royal Art

  1. 5 out of 5

    TR

    A fascinating and comprehensive primer on Hermetecism, perhaps the Western/Aryan 'Zen' (or better perhaps, Zen is a less dynamic, Oriental 'Hermeticism'). Evola, as always, writes with precision and erudition. Recommended for all interested in the esoteric, and especially those who think the east has a monopoly on detached spirituality and enlightenment. This should probably be read multiple times. A fascinating and comprehensive primer on Hermetecism, perhaps the Western/Aryan 'Zen' (or better perhaps, Zen is a less dynamic, Oriental 'Hermeticism'). Evola, as always, writes with precision and erudition. Recommended for all interested in the esoteric, and especially those who think the east has a monopoly on detached spirituality and enlightenment. This should probably be read multiple times.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mario

    A complex and fascinating masterpiece from a master of the western tradition. If you're hoping to find a detailed manual for self initiation you will be disappointed, a crystal clear exposition and a philological approach to an immense body of sources sheds no light on the processes of western hermetic tradition, yet it's by far one of the best books about it. To be read at least twice. A complex and fascinating masterpiece from a master of the western tradition. If you're hoping to find a detailed manual for self initiation you will be disappointed, a crystal clear exposition and a philological approach to an immense body of sources sheds no light on the processes of western hermetic tradition, yet it's by far one of the best books about it. To be read at least twice.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    Short of it: the first half was quite good, but the second half was either incoherent or just plain wrong. Julius Evola correctly notes that the ancient teaching of alchemy wasn't simply about transmuting metals. It was about developing the soul (or ascending to higher realms). Using alchemical language, he offers a manual for purifying the soul. In the first half of the book he decodes numerous symbols. These discussions are often exhilarating and always exciting. They reveal a robust metaphysic Short of it: the first half was quite good, but the second half was either incoherent or just plain wrong. Julius Evola correctly notes that the ancient teaching of alchemy wasn't simply about transmuting metals. It was about developing the soul (or ascending to higher realms). Using alchemical language, he offers a manual for purifying the soul. In the first half of the book he decodes numerous symbols. These discussions are often exhilarating and always exciting. They reveal a robust metaphysics which has strong affinities with Christianity and Torah/Prophets. For example, "chaos" simply means the realm of undifferentiated potentiality--prime matter. Saturn is heaviness, inertia. "The Tomb," infamous in Plato, notes the body By itself and apart from the animating spirit, it is dead matter, the flux of chaos. The hermeticist does not want to escape the body because it is bad, but to temporarily separate to reestablish a dominating and causal solar principle. All well and good. And then comes the second half. To be honest, I am not sure what he was getting at. And it's probably best I didn't.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    Fascism aside, this is a decent exploration of alchemy from an interesting fellow.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Christian

    Maybe the best of Evola. Few entirely unfounded historical aberrations, but a wealth of symbols, presented in an interesting, thought-provoking manner based on surprinsingly rich sourcematerial. The "practical" (although quite theoretical) second half is weaker, more rambling. You can see traces of his later "absolute individual" already, so tread carefully (since this is not the goal of alchemy, at least not in the sense he means it), but the exposition throughout the first part is priceless. Maybe the best of Evola. Few entirely unfounded historical aberrations, but a wealth of symbols, presented in an interesting, thought-provoking manner based on surprinsingly rich sourcematerial. The "practical" (although quite theoretical) second half is weaker, more rambling. You can see traces of his later "absolute individual" already, so tread carefully (since this is not the goal of alchemy, at least not in the sense he means it), but the exposition throughout the first part is priceless.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

    I think a lot of the confusion in the second half of the book stems from Evola's overcomplication of the subject with the use of too many words, for a process that is really intuitive to anyone half-versed in spiritual alchemy. If only he put a little more faith in the readers ability to allow his words to reveal themselves to them, this section would be much more useful and easier to understand. But by overworking his definitions it kind of stiffens and somewhat kills his intent, and inadverten I think a lot of the confusion in the second half of the book stems from Evola's overcomplication of the subject with the use of too many words, for a process that is really intuitive to anyone half-versed in spiritual alchemy. If only he put a little more faith in the readers ability to allow his words to reveal themselves to them, this section would be much more useful and easier to understand. But by overworking his definitions it kind of stiffens and somewhat kills his intent, and inadvertently creates blinds, and makes this section almost useless. Like how someone wants their words to be so perfect they spend so much time going back and editing and refining them until they lose all life they originally had. That being said there is still great material in this section, and I found it easier to digest by not overthinking parts that were less understandable, trying to keep the flow of Evola's thought process in tact, understanding the big picture rather than straining to figure out every little detail. The first half of the book however is absolutely Five Star material and I will be revisiting that part again in the future.

  7. 4 out of 5

    JA

    It's terse, it's dense, perhaps the translation could have been a bit simpler, but wow, what a unique perspective on the Royal Art and Western Esoterica. While most of the material on Alchemy and Hermetism is filtered through the eyes of Anglo-Britain, Evola gives the Southern European. Latinized perspective if I may be so bold. Be aware this is not a book on laboratory praxis, although it can inspire the lab alchemist, Evola instead encompasses the 'bigger picture' for the gentle reader, and in It's terse, it's dense, perhaps the translation could have been a bit simpler, but wow, what a unique perspective on the Royal Art and Western Esoterica. While most of the material on Alchemy and Hermetism is filtered through the eyes of Anglo-Britain, Evola gives the Southern European. Latinized perspective if I may be so bold. Be aware this is not a book on laboratory praxis, although it can inspire the lab alchemist, Evola instead encompasses the 'bigger picture' for the gentle reader, and indeed all roads lead to the Soul.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    A fascinating, although still obscure and infinitely unpackable look at Hermetico-Alchemical thought as a metaphysical system. The book invites multiple readings as the early crash course in Alchemical symbolism only really begins to do work later, and so a lot of revisiting is required to fully appreciate the explanations given earlier in the book as well as the usage of the symbols later in the work.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anja Weber

    Tradition and symbolism, Jung and lot of links with past..Interesting and provoking..

  10. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is not a book to be read but a work to be studied. Very interesting

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    The best introduction to alchemy available in English. Don't expect to understand it for a while. The best introduction to alchemy available in English. Don't expect to understand it for a while.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    It's decent, but i believe my critique relies on Hermetic symbolism moreso than this book itself. It felt like a lot of the symbolism was pulled from too many places/religion and not properly synergized to make a coherent picture. My standards were set a little high because i thought the picture was painted rather well with the tree chapter. The rest of it was mostly elemental and cosmological reductions. Just because water molds with everything doesn't mean everything had to be reduced to water/ It's decent, but i believe my critique relies on Hermetic symbolism moreso than this book itself. It felt like a lot of the symbolism was pulled from too many places/religion and not properly synergized to make a coherent picture. My standards were set a little high because i thought the picture was painted rather well with the tree chapter. The rest of it was mostly elemental and cosmological reductions. Just because water molds with everything doesn't mean everything had to be reduced to water/mercury. Regardless this book was decent and did it's job, but felt scattered in certain places. It did a fine job at the "lifecycle" of goign through the elements and stages of life though.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Will Jones

    A complex read; did not enjoy it as much as other books by Evola. Some parts were interesting; other parts felt like I was reading a horoscope. Most of it flew over my head, and I am not interested enough in alchemy to really study it. Not for casual reading. Surprising to see Nicholas Flamel and the Philosophers Stone mentioned quite a few times, which might be interesting to Harry Potter fans. Lots of footnotes; thoroughly researched.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brendan

    Evola's study of alchemy is definitely geared toward an extremely scholastic audience. Nonetheless, his presentation is fantastic, erudite and incisive, with an eye to almost microscopic detail. I definitely plan on returning to this book again. Evola's study of alchemy is definitely geared toward an extremely scholastic audience. Nonetheless, his presentation is fantastic, erudite and incisive, with an eye to almost microscopic detail. I definitely plan on returning to this book again.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Aarón

    Fascinating stuff although it was not what I was looking for, I expected it to be focused more on the history part of it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Strauss

    I’m sure that some people will get more out of this than I did. Not for me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    GUSTAVO

    The Hermetic Tradition: Symbols and Teachings of the Royal Art keeps you interested all the way through.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mellie

    I was caught up in the suspense.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Samuel

    Pretty interesting work on Alchemy, if you put aside his personal political views at least.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Salvatore Cunsolo

    Bellissimo

  21. 5 out of 5

    Set11

    simple yet efficient and throughout explanation of basics of alchemy

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ietrio

    A formulaic description of some rituals and symbols. Like school curricula, something you might need if you have to pass an exam about it. Otherwise, completely useless.

  23. 4 out of 5

    John

    I'm tempted to rate this book even lower. It read like a bunch of rambling, disorganized thoughts. And obviously, you won't be making any gold. I did not enjoy this one and wasn't sure why it is considered essential reading by some. I'm tempted to rate this book even lower. It read like a bunch of rambling, disorganized thoughts. And obviously, you won't be making any gold. I did not enjoy this one and wasn't sure why it is considered essential reading by some.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Johan Dingler

    Creo que es el libro más complicado que he leído hasta ahora. Estoy seguro de que volveré a él más de una vez en mi vida.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kjǫlsigʀ

    Another breathtaking scope and scale of insight from the Sicilian Baron; this wealth of rare learning can be mined for new transformations of perspective time and time again.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ever

    Fairly dense, but fascinating and worth studying.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell26 McLaughlin

    I was looking for something Hermetic, while this was fully Alchemical.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anabela Costa

    As usual in Julius Evola books, an excellent treatise on alchemy and hermeticism, a book which I strongly advise anyone interested in the subject

  29. 5 out of 5

    Neil Hiscocks

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Allison

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