Tag Archives: Julianus

The Mystery of the Grail

The Mystery of the Grail: Initiation and Magic in the Quest for the Spirit by Julius Evola, reviewed by Julianus, in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Evola The Mystery of the Grail

This book originally formed an appendix to the author’s Revolt Against the Modern World, which he later expanded into a book in its own right. Evola’s thesis is that the Grail Cycle forms a Pagan “northern” mystery distinct from the “southern” Christian religion, and that this represented an Imperial “resistance” to the Church in the Middle Ages. I am not entirely convinced of this, but there is much interesting analysis of the Grail legends in here.

The Masters Revealed

The Masters Revealed: Madame Blavatsky and the Myth of the Great White Lodge by K Paul Johnson, reviewed by Julianus, in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Johnson The Masters Revealed

Everybody in occultism has heard of the Secret Chiefs who direct world affairs from behind the scenes with their awesome powers. H.P. Blavatsky was probably most responsible for popularizing this idea and much controversy has ensued over whether she was faking those “letter from the Mahatmas” or not. Mr. Johnson takes a middle course between the two extremes on this subject; he concludes that HPB really was the representative of a world-wide network of Adepts which she deliberately mythologized for various reasons. The book is mostly a series of capsule biographies of real people that HPB was known to be in contact with (though some cases rest on circumstantial evidence.) These people range from European explorers, occultists, and revolutionaries to Sufi mystics to Indian Rajas. The fact that an overwhelming number of these figures were involved in revolutionary or anti-colonial political movements goes a long way to explaining Blavatsky’s concealment of their identities, and Mr. Johnson presents (for example) internal memos from British intelligence showing that she was watched by Colonial authorities in India.

Another interesting aspect of the “Myth of the Masters” is how it was inflated by HPB’s disciples, much to her annoyance. Mr. Johnson takes great pains to show how the most extravagant claims originated outside of Blavatsky’s control. The result is kind of an object-lesson in human credulity.

The two major problems with this book are, first, that it is really to short– the biographical material is so brief that one feels at time as if one is reading a “Cliffs Notes” version of the real book (indeed this is apparently a “popular edition” of the author’s Master’s Thesis.) The second problem is that many of the “Masters” listed really do not seem to have much real connection to Blavatsky or Theosophy except that the author seems to think they should! Perhaps this due to the above-mentioned abridged quality of the work, and if so I do hope he expands on these points in future editions.

– Koot-Hoomi

The Lord of the World

Julianus reviews The Lord of the World by René Guénon in the Occult Book Reviews archive.

Guenon The Lord of the World

Rene Guenon is the founder of the Traditionalist school of religious philosophy. They consider that all “authentic” religions are derived from the “Primordial Tradition” and spend a great deal of time denouncing the anti-Traditional trend of modern civilisation. This odd little pamphlet is all about Lord of the World who is sort of a Secret Chief behind all valid Traditions. Much of this material comes from Theosophy, which Guenon denounced as a “pseudo-religion” in an early book, and this edition is published by some Gurdjieffians, who Traditionalists abhor as horrid anti-Initiates. This strange bedfellowship suits the odd mix of Hinduism, Grail mythology, 19th century occultism, and Qabalah in the text. Not bad for a guy who looked like a dead fish.

The House of Toad

Julianus reviews The House of Toad by Richard Tierney in the Occult Book Reviews archive.

Tierney The House of Toad

A sort of modernised Cthulhu Mythos novel featuring a Black Magician named “J. Cornelius Wasserman” who is fond of saying, “Let thine own Will become the Law of Laws.” Like many such books, it starts out interesting and then succumbs to deus ex machina as the author lets the good guys win. File it under “fictional use of Crowley”, cross-index it with “Lovecraft pastiche”, then go reread the real things.

The H P Lovecraft Dream Book

Julianus reviews The H.P. Lovecraft Dream Book in the Occult Book Reviews archive.

Lovecraft The H P Lovecraft Dream Book

Despite all the rumours amongst the Junior Satanist League types, HPL was certainly not a practicing occultist, at least not conciously. He was a great dreamer who could hardly nod off for a second without entering some elaborate fantasy, many of which formed the basis for his best-known stories. This chapbook collects some 23 letters describing various important episodes in Lovecraft’s dream-life, sometimes giving varying accounts of the same dream to different correspondents. Some of these would certainly be classed as significant visions or past-life memories if the writer were a Magician, and a Qabalistic analysis of these would be interesting. Of special note is an extended dream of ancient Rome where HPL experienced something like a week of detailed coherent life (not the least bit “dream-like”) in the period. This was used almost verbatim as an episode in Frank Belknapp Long’s “The Horror from the Hills.”

The Blessing of Pan

Julianus reviews The Blessing of Pan by Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett in the Bkwyrm archive.

Dunsany Plunkett The Blessing of Pan

Heralded by no less an authority that Aleister Crowley as “a noble and most notable prophesy of Life’s fair future,” this novel recounts the return of the Old Gods to an English village sometime in the late 19th century. Told from the point of view of the local Church of England Vicar, it begins humbly enough. A not-terribly-bright boy makes panpipes from some reeds and plays them in the forests of an evening and from there the entire valley is slowly brought to the worship of Pan. Dunsany’s eye for the significance of small actions- or omissions- and his prose, less lofty that his earlier works but still marvelous to read, make this the perfect literary counterpart to “The Wicker Man.” One strongly suspects that Gerald Gardner had a copy on his bookshelf and all good Pagans should hope that this comes back into print.

You can find this book at Amazon, Abebooks, and Powell’s.

The Club Dumas

Julianus reviews The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte in the Bkwyrm archive.

Perez-Reverte The Club Dumas

This is possibly the most unique novel I’ve read in years. Our hero (if we may call him that,) is a sort of hard-boiled European private detective with a remarkable specialty: he works for an exclusive handful of antiquarian book dealers and collectors, usually to “acquire” rare books and manuscripts “by whatever means necessary.” He is hired by one dealer to authenticate a manuscript chapter of Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, then a rich collector hires him for what should be a more difficult job concerning The Book of the Nine Doors to the Kingdom of Darkness, which is said to contain the secret of summoning the Devil. The author of this work swore just before the Inquisition burned him at the stake that only one copy existed, so why are no less than three listed in the bibliographies? Our hero’s task is to determine which, if any, of the three is genuine and finding it, to get it however he can.

During the course of the narrative it turns out that these two jobs are not as unrelated as they may appear. We encounter the strange world of rapacious collector, unscrupulous dealers, impoverished noblemen desperately trying to retain their ancestral libraries, famous occultists, restorers who are not above a little forgery on the side, a mysterious young woman who may be an Angel or the Devil or a character out of Sherlock Holmes, several people who take Dumas’ novel VERY seriously, and a disconcerting number of characters who turn up inconveniently dead. This is a first-rate mystery with many twists and an ending as satisfying as it is unexpected.

You can find this book at Amazon, Abebooks, and Powell’s.

The Complete Pegāna

Julianus reviews The Complete Pegāna: All the Tales Pertaining to the Fabulous Realm of Pegāna by Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Baron Dunsany, edited by S T Joshi, in the Bkwyrm archive.

Dunsany The Complete Pegana

In the year 1904 e.v. an English Gentleman, big-game hunter and chess enthusiast created a new mythology; and no, I don’t mean Crowley. The gentleman in question was Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, eighteenth Baron Dunsany (1878 – 1957) and the book was The Gods of Pegāna. Dunsany created the first original mythology in English literature since William Blake and his work had tremendous influence on H.P. Lovecraft. Crowley was also passionately devoted to Dunsany’s work and got him to contribute a short story to the Equinox.

Dunsany generally wrote everything in a single draft with a quill pen and his prose style is unique. Brilliant and musical, it truly seems more like a newly-discovered scripture than a literary production. Fate and Chance, Gods large and small, heroes and prophets, Time and Death are all unveiled in glory and tragedy. Only Clark Ashton Smith, one of Lovecraft’s literary comrades, can approach Dunsany’s mastery of the short fantasy.

The present volume contains all the stories from The Gods of Pegāna as well as its sequel, Time and the Gods (1906,) along with three later stories on the theme. These books have not been reprinted in their entirety in eighty years and one may hope that more of Dunsany’s massive corpus, which includes over fifty volumes of fiction, drama (he once had four plays on Broadway at once,) poetry and autobiography, will follow.

You can find this book at Amazon, Abebooks, and Powell’s.

The Art and Architecture of Freemasonry

Julianus reviews The Art and Architecture of Freemasonry by James Stevens Curl in the Bkwyrm archive.

This is the first book of its kind and you could not ask for a better introduction to the subject. Well researched and lavishly illustrated this survey covers the development of Masonic iconography in detail and demonstrates its influence on religious and secular architecture. Discussions of Solomon’s Temple, mortuary architecture and Mozart’s Masonic music (“The Magic Flute” being only the most famous example) are included. This is a high-quality art book, easily worth the price to anyone interested in the subject and I hope Professor Curl publishes more on this topic.

You can find this book at Amazon, Abebooks, and Powell’s

Summoning Spirits

Julianus reviews Summoning Spirits: the Art of Magickal Evocation by Konstantinos in the Bkwyrm archive.

It is high time someone came out with a specialised handbook to this important branch of Magick, and this is a fair initial entry. It has the handicap of the usual patented Llewellyn “Magick 001” tone which I can barely stomach anymore. There is also the obligatory “It’s-all-perfectly-safe-and-easy-and-it’s-certainly-not-Satanic-at-all-nope-nope-nope” chapter whose presence I have never understood, since I presume the reader already knows this or he would never have picked up the book in the first place! The book itself is a pretty complete overview of the subject, in fact it is practically self-contained, and I am rather uncomfortable with the idea of divorcing an advanced practice such as Evocation from a fully-rounded Magical curriculum as Konstantinos does. He also places far too little emphasis on banishing and purification, telling the reader to rely on “Divine Providence” or some such goop– and people say Crowley lays booby-traps for the unwary! The author’s research is pretty good, and he thankfully avoids the old “these-spirits-are-really-just-parts-of-your-own-subconscious” cliche. So this is a promising start for a guy who’s just 23– I wouldn’t want to read anything I would have written at that age!– and I’ll look forward to seeing really decent stuff as he matures.

You can find this book at Amazon, Abebooks, and Powell’s