The Initiate – Journal of Traditional Studies (Review)

the initiate

As it is written at the ARKTOS web-site: The Initiate is a journal which offers a forum to serious writing on traditionalism, spirituality and related topics, seeking to restore something of the lost wisdom of our ancestors to the modern world.

In the past there were many traditionalist editions, magazines, publications. Nowadays people read less and what is even worse – they read less by quality while quantity can remain the same (social network messages can contain lots of text). So I was very happy that in our digital world which is overwhelmed by useless information, such edition as The Initiate was created. There must be a platform for the traditionalists and people who oppose modern world to share their knowledge, experience, thoughts.  By the intuition I thought that The Initiate is in fact this platform. And my thoughts approved when I received the magazine.

In Ukraine we have problems both with book-publishing industry and the translations. Many important works were not translated to Ukrainian. Even now when we witness the rising interest in the traditionalist thought at academic field, there are no Ukrainian translations of Rene Guenon, Julius Evola and other thinkers (whom we can now call classics).  So Ukrainian researchers and traditionalists have to use Russian translations, which are also not so easy to find and sometimes they lack quality (i.e. some of the Guenon’s translations). Of course it’s easier for those who are fluent in other languages; it’s easy to order books from the internet or sometimes just to find the needed texts online.  But French, German, Italian are not so widely spoken by Ukrainians as English. Nowadays many young Ukrainians speak English well and many are fluent in it. That’s why English books and translations give us another access to the texts, which sometimes have no Russian translation. The Arktos is a great example of successful base which not only provides the classic books but also publishes new ones. One can dislike or reject the value of English language but it is the fact that it is most spoken international language and the suitable mean of communication for many traditionalists.

The first issue of The Initiate included articles by David Griffiths, Kerry Bolton (who is already known and respected by Ukrainian readers, there is 1 Ukrainian translation of his “The Traditionalist Cyclic Paradigm”), Sergio Knipe, David J. Wingfield, Martin Häggkvist, James Todd, Tage Lindbom as well as “The Concept of Initiation” by Julius Evola. This issue is available at Arktos web-site for the discount price.

I will review The Initiate II in more details. Firstly I will say that in term of the design it can give good example for many other magazines to follow. There is Evola’s photo on the cover and whole issue is illustrated by the works of Michael Lujan. That gives both esthetic pleasure and the positive impression of The Initiate’s style.

‘I hope that the selection of articles presented in this issue of The Initiate will continue to inspire and to provoke debate, both within traditionalist circles and in the wider world’ – states David J. Wingfield, the editor-in-chief in the “Editiorial Comment”.  That corresponds with the lines I wrote above about the traditionalist platform and you see, I was inspired for writing a review about this journal. Moreover I hope it will also inspire other scholars to contribute their valuable researches to the broader audience, rather than to keep it in small circles. The diversity and the variety of materials presented at the 128 pages are really good-chosen, sometimes debatable, but quite interesting.

Patirck Boch (a founder and a Director of Arktos Media) starts “Vedic Veersa” with Revolt Against the Arm-Chair Traditionalist. Although I don’t see the necessity to appeal to one of the main Evola’s works here, Patrick Boch raises the point of vast gap between the way contemporary traditionalists think and the way they actually live. ‘… they listen to vulgar modern music like rock or heavy metal, they watch degenerate Hollywood films featuring cheap actors and romantic love-affairs, they dine at places like Burger King and KFC, and they even use American slang’.  Then he tries to present Vedic culture and philosophy as a good alternative. Patrick Boch uses the translation of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his photo comes as illustration. I remembered that I’ve seen it in some Krishnaite book. Prabhupada is the founder of “Hare Krishna Movement” and I’ve heard that Krishnaite’s translations are not good and too biased. That can also be a point of discussion, cause in Ukraine Krishnaites are crazy idiots who sometimes make noise, but usually try to sell you books published by them (With a very modern marketing techniques).  Sometimes Krishaites sell food at ethno-festivals and are beaten by intolerant citizens. But anyway I’m looking forward to see more articles by Patrick, who lives in India and is a practicing Vaishnava.

Sergio Knipe is known as a great translator (He translated “Archeofuturism” of Guillame Faye and The Path of Cinnabar).  To The Initiate II he contributed his article “Egyptian Visions of Decay” about cyclical decline and restoration. Written from a Perennialist perspective it contains many narratives and references to the sacred texts.

Robert Bullen is an IT hardware engineer by day, but at the weekends takes a keen interest in post-Napoleonic political history. Although this short bio looks funny, his “Neo-Monasticism” is good historical article. But I don’t recognize neo-Monasticism neither in Bonhoeffer example nor in Troy Southgate. I think there might be much better examples than Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And Troy Southgate (whose music and whose ideas are admired in certain circles in Ukraine) is more like a Nietzscheanic type of man. In simple words monasticism is like escaping from the real life and in contrast Troy Southgate is active in both ideological work and the practical life.

“Love and Knowledge on the Field of Spiritual Combat: A Comparison of the Sufi Teachings of Frithjof Schuon and Javad Nurbakhsh” by Charles Upton is the longest article in this issue. Unless you are seriously interested in Islam – it would be hard to read it. Charles Upton is a recognized authority on Sufism, traditionalism and eschatological symbolism.

“Witchcraft: Mythology and Reality” by David Griffiths is a brilliant text which reveals the falsity of witch religious practices fabricated by Jules Michelet and Margaret Murray. This reminds me about Rene Guenon’s articles written against counter-initiate organizations.  David states in conclusion: ‘The creation of subjective neo-mythologies will ensure that any attempts to revive the ancient traditions of Europe will only ever remain on the margins of society, where they shall become twisted out of all remaining proportion by those who are more concerned with furthering their own positions and interests than preserving and promoting the genuine remnants of our deep and ancient cultural roots’. Then follows “The Witches’ Coven” by Julius Evola, his souvenir of meeting with Gerald Gardner.

Letters to the Editor section includes 3 letters. Charles Upton tells more about his views and that’s interesting regarding to his article I’ve mentioned above. He thinks that it’s not right to define Traditionalism as the movement ‘against the modern world’; it is simply against the world – not in socio-political terms, but in spiritual and contemplative ones.  We can agree with it, because now we live in modern world and there is no other world we can move physically. But in a perfect Traditional word Traditionalism won’t be against anything, there won’t be such movement at all.

Troy Southgate’s letter is “In Defense of the New Right”. It is about comments by David J. Wingfield in the previous issue, “The West Reborn? Reflections on the New Right”. This letter shows us some examples, stories of the New Right and explains some discussed earlier questions. Martin Slader’s “Misinterpreting Trickster Figures” is about James Todd’s “Missae Asinorum”.  This section is a good way of communication between authors and readers.

Book Reviews section includes: The Path of Cinnabar by Julius Evola, Christianity and the Doctrine of Non-Dualism by A Monk of the West, Remembering in a World of Forgetting: Thoughts on Tradition and Postmodernism by William Stoddart. All of these books are worth of attention, but for me the first one is the most interesting.

Music and Magic by Peter Widukind analyzes the power of music, nature as music and music as metaphysics. Then comes Music Reviews section which includes: Yesterday Will by Better by Kirk Withrow, The East Room by Far Black Furlong, The Last Jew In Whitechapel by Ephraim Kohan. I didn’t hear these albums, I have nothing to say about them, but I’ll try to find this music online.

War Protocols by Karlo Z. Valois is basically about differences among superior and inferior men and women. For someone it may be useful in practical life.

Dramatis Personae is a collection of short bios of authors. Most of the authors I’ve heard for the first time so this helped me a lot to remember their names and specializations.

Finally we would like to wish inspiration for all the authors and hopefully we’ll see many other issues of this wonderful magazine.



Written by Andriy Voloshyn

September 2011

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