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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > The Hermetic Tradition Search

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Book Review:
The Hermetic Tradition: Symbols and Teachings of the Royal Art

Author: Julius Evola
Trade Paperback, 240 pages
Publisher: Inner Traditions
Publication date: 1995
List: US$16.95, C$24.50
ISBN: 0892814519
Price & More Info: Click Here

This work, which is translated form the Italian for the first time, will be of limited appeal due to a couple of items. First, even though it ".is among the clearest works on alchemy ever written" it is heavily annotated, Second, the very subject of alchemy, whether seem "merely" as the precursor to modern chemistry or as an integral part of the overall hermetic tradition, is of limited appeal.

The book is composed of two parts - one concerned with the symbols and teachings of the art, and the second part with the techniques and effects. It was revised and expanded twice between its original publication in 1931 (revisions in 1948 and 1971) by the author prior to his death in 1974.

His theories were not always well-received and his drawing inspiration from widely divergent sources (alchemy, theurgy, and magic from cultures ranging from Neoplatonic to Arab to medieval) was intended to show the universality of the concept conveyed by the words of the adepts of all the ages. To many, this approach may seem too eclectic to be workable.

This is not a text on Hermetic magic. If that is what you are looking for, your seeking must continue. If you are looking for a simple explanation of alchemy, this is not the book you want.

There is no way this text is going to be understood in one reading, nor is it intended to be. The first read-through in intended to provide an overview of the subject. Concentrated study is then necessary to begin the process of making this information part of your life.

To be honest, I had a great deal of difficulty with this text, since alchemy is not an area I have much knowledge about. If I had more background data, I would not have had the amount of difficulty I had, I am sure. For those looking to expand their knowledge of alchemy, I would recommend this book. If, on the other hand, you are seeking to begin studying the subject, this book has best be put to the side for a while.

Reviewed by Mike Gleason

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