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Battle of the Magicians:
Baron Evola between the Dancer & the Druid

5,274 wordsAlbrecht Dürer. Paumgartner Altar (right panel, detail). 1503 c. 1503

A Constant Reader has called my attention (keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!) to some critical commentary on the magical writings of Baron Evola[1] by none other than John Michael Greer, who is Past Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America and current head of the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn. It’s entitled “How Not to Learn Magic: An Introductory Note” and you can find it here at his blog, The Well of Galabes: Reflections on Druidry, Magic, and Occult Philosophy.[2] Now, I am neither a Baron[3] nor an Archdruid; indeed, I am not a practitioner of any kind of magic, chaotic or stage, or even Magick.[4]

But I can say I have almost certainly read more by Evola than the Archdruid[5] and, obviously, made use of it a lot more. Moreover, that interest in Evola has recently proved a valuable clue to understanding and appreciating what I call America’s home-grown Hermeticism, native-born Neoplatonism, and two-fisted Traditionalism, New Thought; in particular, the once widely fashionable and now largely — and unjustly — forgotten writings and lectures of Neville Goddard.[6] So although I don’t really have a dog in this fight, it does pique my interest, and I think I have a few things I can contribute to it.

Properly, the Archdruid begins by rehearsing his own credentials; it’s pretty impressive and nicely written up, so I think it deserves quoting at length:

 From my first tentative dabblings in magic in the mid-1970s until 1994, when I was initiated into the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids (OBOD), I worked pretty much exclusively with the Golden Dawn tradition of practical occultism, as interpreted by Israel Regardie[7] on the one hand, and Dion Fortune and her students W. E. Butler, William Gray, and Gareth Knight on the other. That was partly a choice of necessity, since the Golden Dawn system was very nearly the only thoroughly developed curriculum of occult study and practice you could get in those days — if, that is, you happened to be a geeky young man with very little money, no connections in the occult scene, and no access to occult literature except via a few not very impressive bookstores and the kind of mail order catalogues that carried Anna Riva’s Magic Oils, photocopied talismans out of the Key of Solomon, and what passed, in those rather more innocent times, for manuals of racy sex.

Even after I found my spiritual home in Druidry, I continued my Golden Dawn studies and practices. My completion of the OBOD study course in 2001, though, marked a turning point. By that time it was a good deal easier to get access to a wide range of magical instruction, and I’d also picked up a reading knowledge of Latin and French, which opened doors to a range of traditions most people in the American occult scene have still never heard of. By that time, too, I’d worked my way through the Golden Dawn system in its entirety, and while there was still plenty of work there for me to do — you can easily spend an entire lifetime working through the possibilities of any reasonably complex system of magic, and never run out of things to do — I was ready to explore something else for a while.

Exploring something else, in turn, occupied the next fifteen years. I sought initiation in two other Druid orders, and duly became a Druid Adept in the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA) and a Third Order priest in the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA), but my vagaries weren’t limited to Druidry by any means. Among other things, I completed extensive study programs in Renaissance astrological magic and old-fashioned Southern conjure, practiced radionics using a homebuilt Hieronymus machine, devoted some serious time to laboratory alchemy, dove headfirst into sacred geometry, geomancy, and both traditional and modern astrology, got competent at two systems of alternative healing with important ties to occultism, and put ten years into earning instructor’s credentials in one of the old temple styles of t’ai chi ch’uan.

Then there were the books. My idea of a good time tolerably often amounts to a quiet room and a good book, so I worked my way through most of the occult literature of the western world, from ancient Greek Neoplatonist theurgic writings (thank Zeus for good translations!) straight through to the latest oozing-edge products of post-post-postmodern (insert one: C, K, X)aos magi(insert one: c, ck, k, que). There were plenty of things I never got around to doing — I’ve never felt the least attraction to Wicca, for example, so I remain cheerfully ignorant about its inner teachings, and a certain discomfort with the role of clueless white guy has kept me from seeking initiation into any of the Third World magical religions available in America these days — but all in all, I think my wanderings managed to give me a tolerably good glimpse at the landscape of possibilities open to the modern occultist.

As I said, pretty impressive, and I approach this response in the spirit of novice monk who may have a bit to add to the Abbot’s lesson to the rest of the brothers.

Turning to the Archdruid’s critique, one must start with a few generalities.

First, (what I will hereafter call) Magic is described — and dismissed — as a book which

[S]aw print at the peak of the modern occult boom in 2001, . . . made only the tiniest splash in the English-speaking occult scene on its publication, and pretty much sank without a trace thereafter.

The Archdruid gives no evidence for any of this, but hey, it’s just a blog post, and it’s his blog. Still, that doesn’t seem very accurate. I don’t know what “the modern occult boom” is or was, and perhaps he has a definition of it that would make 2001 the “peak.” As for its tiny splash (like Trump’s small hands?) and subsequent sinking, I don’t have any facts and figures, but the book is still in print, fifteen years later, which says something in today’s accountant-driven publishing field; and we’re still talking about it, now aren’t we?

As for its tiny reception, the publisher provides a number of quotes which would seem to indicate a fair amount of interest in the “English speaking occult world”:

“Evola . . . had a clarity of mind and a gift for explaining tremendously difficult concepts in nonacademic language. . . . His descriptions of subtle states and the practices that lead to them are as lucid as these difficult subjects allow.” — Gnosis 

“The essays of the UR Group constitute the most complete and the highest magical teaching ever set before the public. . . . The ultimate goal is the identification of the individual with the Absolute. This is a powerful and disturbing book, and a classic. One can be quite certain that it will still have readers centuries from now.” — Joscelyn Godwin, author of Harmonies of Heaven and Earth [and much more]

“This collection of essays . . . cover the practical, the theoretical and the unclassifiable, such as the Mithraic Ritual of the Great Magical Papyrus of Paris, the only ritual from the Ancient Mysteries to have survived intact.” — The Watkins Review, Winter 2001/02

“Introduction to Magic is a collection of intelligent and erudite essays (many of them admirably concise).” — Hagal, May 2001

“. . . should be standard reading for any serious academic or practical student of occultism. . . . Experienced occultists will welcome it as a breath of fresh air and a journey into little discussed territories.” — Mark Stavish, The Institute for Hermetic Studies, March 2006

And no less than two reviews, in 2001 and then in 2002, in New Dawn.

Now, some of these journals and authors are unknown to me, but then — again — I’m not an expert. But some are known to me, and pretty impressive, and as whole this sampling would indicate someone was reading and appreciating this book. Moreover, as a book scribbler myself, I think I can tell when a book has disappeared without a trace.

Staying with the publisher’s page, another point is that the Archdruid seems to think that Magic is intended as some kind of beginner’s guide to magical practice.

In recent months, several readers of this blog have raised questions about what constitutes an effective and balanced course of magical training, one that guides the student step by step toward the awakening of the higher potentials of the individual without causing the sort of emotional and psychological imbalances so often seen among failed occultists. As I paged through Introduction to Magic, trying to decide whether to give it shelf space or sell it to the used book store mentioned earlier, it occurred to me that one very good way to start that conversation is to take a close look at a system of magical training that is neither effective nor balanced.

The fact of the matter is that Evola’s UR Group was a wretched flop, and the inadequacy of its system of training is a very large part of the reason why. . . . the practical instructions for training given in Introduction to Magic are mediocre at their best moments and seriously problematic at their worst.

All this is true, but the insinuation — that Magic contains, or provides, or was intended as, a course of training in magic practice — is a bit misleading.

Although the UR group certainly engaged in magical practices, Magic itself is simply a compilation, edited by Evola at several later dates, ultimately almost 50 years later, of the articles appearing in the group’s journals, UR and later KRUR. It is a historical record of their activities, not a manual of instruction. It’s mostly, as the Archdruid says,

Philosophical and symbolic essays included in the UR Group papers, which are generally of a very high quality. Evola himself was profoundly erudite, with an extraordinary if one-sided grasp of mystical philosophy.

True, the title, in English and Italian, seems to promise more, and the publisher says that

This classic Italian text collects the rites, practices, and esoteric knowledge of the powerful and mysterious UR Group for the use of aspiring mages.

But I take the sense of “introduction” to be along the lines of “An Introduction to the Study of Pre-Columbian Archeology” or some such title; it “introduces” the reader to a subject he never heard of, but does not promise that after reading you will qualify for an academic post, or be able to lead an exposition. And “for the use of” means no more than edification, or perhaps “as a warning.”

Evola’s collection is an “introduction” because it is intended to clarify the subject of magic — hence, his rather cringe-inducing use of the term at all; Crowley, for similar reasons, chose to spell the word with a ‘k’ to distinguish it from stage foolery. It does so by displaying the activities of an actual magical group, the UR Group. As such, readers, such as the reviewers cited above, are likely to be rather enthused about the whole subject; I know I find it far more enlightening than anything of Crowley’s.

Moreover, as the Preface by Renate del Ponte warns,

Although . . . the monographs in the Introduction to Magic provide invaluable material for those individuals who, even today might combine intention and capability in order to repeat the experiences of UR and, if possible, surpass its results on a practical level . . .[8] we would emphasize that the treatises . . . are definitely not designed for the general public but for a few qualified people who already grasp the precise sense of the notion put forth. . . .

In other words, don’t try this at home. And it’s not likely a careful reader would be inclined to do so, since, as the Archdruid notes,

[A]ccording to the useful preface contributed to the book by Renato del Ponte, two later groups of occultists who attempted to revive the UR Group’s teachings crashed and burned in exactly the same way.

One more small preliminary matter: The Archdruid says that

Evola, for his part, responded to the parallel failure of the UR Group by turning from magic to politics. His entire involvement with magic began and ended in the three years the UR Group functioned, and these were very early in his life — when the UR Group was founded, he was only twenty-six years old. His decision to turn to political action, and from there to cultural politics, was a sensible one.

Now again, this is true but largely misleading. It ignores that when “only twenty-six years old” Evola had already published his philosophical magnum opus, and embarked with some success on careers as a Futurist painter and a Dadaist poet. He did “turn to political action” (though he did not spend “the last part of the Second World War as an officer in the Waffen-SS”[9]), but also to Pali Buddhism, Taoism, Tantrism, the Hermetic Tradition, the Grail legends, and perhaps above all the Traditionalism first adumbrated by René Guénon.[10] In short, his esoteric studies continued, whether technically called “magic” or not, and deepened; he did not go into politics after abandoning magic, like some kind of mystical Richard Nixon: “You won’t have the Baron to kick around anymore!”

It’s odd that the Archdruid fails to note any of this, since it might even help make his major point that

Since he was not the sort of person who could submit to another’s guidance and instruction, he was never going to get the kind of systematic education in magic he needed to accomplish his goals — and the lack of a systematic education in magic lay at the heart of his failure as a teacher of that art.

Evola, the esoteric dilettante. To others, of course, he might just be multitalented; as always, your mileage may differ.

Speaking of which, and a propos Evola’s politics, the ArchDruid gives a rousing defense for reading Evola at all:

It’s common these days for biographical data like these to lead people to insist that books by any such author should never be read, discussed, or even mentioned. I consider that attitude to be somewhere on the notional spectrum between self-defeating and just plain silly. For the serious student of occult philosophy, in particular, an encounter with Evola’s ideas and personality — the two are very much of a piece — is essential. This isn’t because I agree with the man; I don’t. Neither, though, do I agree with a good many of the attitudes and ideas he chose to attack. Evola is among many other things a near-perfect case study in one of the rules of magical philosophy I’ve discussed here and elsewhere: the principle that, far more often than not, the opposite of one bad idea is another bad idea.

You don’t hear that a lot in these days of Dead White Males and micro-aggressions.

All that said, let’s turn to what’s wrong with Magic when construed as a training manual:

Turn the pages of Introduction to Magic and . . . setting aside the philosophical and symbolic essays — which again are generally of high quality — and the turgid rhetoric that seems to have been de rigueur for occult authors in that era, what you get, in terms of practical work, consists of: (a) standard advice on developing consciousness and will in everyday life, mostly cribbed from Eliphas Lévi; (b) an assortment of exercises in meditation and visualization, not well integrated with one another; (c) a few exercises with a magical mirror, for one or two persons; and (d) a simple ritual centering on Pietro d’Abano’s invocation of the archangel of the Sun, without any of the preliminary training needed to make rituals work. As a set of basic practices, that has serious problems: it leaves out a number of things essential to the novice in operative magic, and it’s imbalanced in ways that will produce (and in fact did produce) predictable problems.

Well, as we’ve said, it’s the archives of a magical group, not really intended to be an instruction guide; so yeah, it’s not entirely “original” (not that Evola would care about that), it leaves things out, and isn’t well integrated.

Be all that as it may, the Archdruid does make a very valuable — indeed, devastating — point:

The fact of the matter is that Evola’s UR Group was a wretched flop, and the inadequacy of its system of training is a very large part of the reason why.

It’s a failure that stalks everyone who tries to come up with an original system of magical training without first mastering some existing system from top to bottom, and finding out what systems of magical training are supposed to accomplish. One of the goals of magical training, to turn to technical language for a moment, is the equilibration of the lower self: in less opaque terms, the balancing out of the habitual imbalances of the personality, so that the aspiring mage can use his or her habits of thought and feeling rather than being used by them. Magical systems cooked up by people who haven’t had such a training inevitably miss this; having projected the habitual imbalances of their personalities onto the cosmos — and we all do this, until appropriate disciplines teach us how to stop — they end up reinforcing their imbalances rather than equilibrating them.

Evola’s choice of a basic magical ritual is a good example of this. . . . From a metaphysical and symbolic perspective, it’s entirely appropriate to treat the Sun as a symbol of the Absolute, and so Evola pulled a solar invocation out of its original context in a carefully designed set of Renaissance-era invocations of the planetary archangels, on the assumption that his students could use a ritual based on that invocation to attain the Absolute.

The difficulty here is that novice mages don’t operate on the plane of the Absolute. They operate on the planes of form, and if you invoke the Sun on the planes of form, you won’t get the Absolute; you’ll get the kind of solar influence that astrologers, for example, know well; and if you invoke the Sun only, without equilibrating it with the other planetary forces, you can pretty much count on pushing your personality in the direction of too much solar influence, which will make you behave like an arrogant blowhard — the astrologically literate may imagine a really out-of-control Leo here. If your personality already tends toward arrogance and self-glorifying egocentricity, furthermore, this fate is going to be all but impossible to avoid, because the energies of the ritual and the dysfunctions of the self form a feedback loop that drowns out the signals that something’s gone wrong.

Now, this really caught my eye, because the sun ritual is where I’ve already seen Evola and Neville (he always went by Neville, like Madonna or Cher) linking up.[11] First, let’s look at Evola’s sun ritual:

[B]efore falling asleep, in a calm state, not being tired, having cleansed the mind of all worries, imagine through meditation to be at the foot of a mountain in the early hours of the morning, ready to begin the ascent. Slowly, let the ascent begin, while darkness fades away and the first light, then the sun, appears. You must continue to ascend, imagining the simultaneous rising of the sun in the sky, its growing, triumphant, expanding light shining over all things. Right at the moment you feel you have reached the peak of the mountain, become aware that the sun has reached its zenith in the clear, bright sky. Contemplation needs to be stopped at this point, as you recognize all this as the sense of that which will effectively happen within, beyond the threshold of sleep, until the middle of the night. Naturally, your ascent of the mountain and the rise of the sun from dawn to noon must be felt in strict correlation. Everything must be experienced from an inner perspective as a progression of awakening. This process, once the top of the mountain is reached, must give rise to a sense of identification with the noon light — radiant, silent, pure in the boundless ether.

In the morning, upon waking up, clear the mind from any residue of sleepiness and return through contemplation to the peak of the mountain, which is where you had remained; slowly head back to the valley below. In the meantime, the sun descends, sets, and every light will disappear by the time you reach the plain. This must be imagined and remembered as the meaning of the period between the middle of the night and the morning. In the darkness of the day, in which you find yourself when you awake, let the echo of the Light from above or the echo of the Midnight Sun linger in the sensation that I am the bearer of this Light that is now in your center, namely in the heart. Then you will notice the new, animated sense, according to which the light of the physical sun will appear when these disciplines are realized and lived. Also, you should notice and pay much attention to any other new meaning that flashes in the midst of common perceptions. Besides mere imagining, try to really recall some of the impressions of that time in which, aside from dreams, consciousness is interrupted by sleep.[12]

Goddard2Let’s compare this to Neville’s basic technique, his “simple method for changing the future.” Neville bases his method on sleep — a kind of “dream yoga.” (For him, prayer is only a waking mode of sleep.) Here is Neville detailing his method of invoking not the Sun but anything devotedly wished for:

Preparing to sleep, you feel yourself into the state of the answered wish, and then relax into unconsciousness. Your realized wish is he whom you seek. By night on your bed you seek the feeling of the wish fulfilled that you may take it with you into the chamber of her that conceived you, into sleep or the subconscious which gave you form, that this wish also may be given expression. This is the way to discover and conduct your wishes into the subconscious. Feel yourself in the state of the realized wish and quietly drop off to sleep.

Night after night you should assume the feeling of being, having and witnessing that which you seek to be, possess and see manifested. Never go to sleep feeling discouraged or dissatisfied. Never sleep in the consciousness of failure. Your subconscious, whose natural state is sleep, sees you as you believe yourself to be, and whether it be good, bad, or indifferent, the subconscious will faithfully embody your belief. As you feel so do you impress her; and she, the perfect lover, gives form to these impressions and out-pictures them as the children of her beloved. “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee,” is the attitude of mind to adopt before dropping off to sleep. Disregard appearances and feel that things are as you wish them to be, for “He calleth things that are not seen as though they were, and the unseen becomes seen.” To assume the feeling of satisfaction is to call conditions into being which will mirror satisfaction. “Signs follow, they do not precede.” Proof that you are will follow the consciousness that you are; it will not precede it.[13]

It should be no surprise then, that Neville’s method has been called “the most magical” of all the systems of New Thought. But being the ur-American New Thought, it’s a very stripped down, to the point, no bullshit kind of magick. You may find that attractive; I certainly do.

But what might be a surprise is that the man who said that was: Israel Regardie, the Archdruid’s mentor.[14]

So when the Archdruid says that Evola’s “system” “leaves out a number of things essential to the novice in operative magic, and it’s imbalanced in ways that will produce (and in fact did produce) predictable problems,” it’s interesting that Israel Regardie brings exactly the same criticism — mildly — to Neville.[15]

First, the lack of preliminary training. He attributes Neville’s own success with his “simple method for changing the future” to his training — as well as his presumed natural talent — as a professional dancer.[16]

This is what enabled Neville to achieve, without appreciable effort, states of tremendously profound relaxation, without actually dropping off into sleep and unconsciousness.[17] And this is exactly why Neville never provides, and seems never to have seen a need for, elaborate instructions and training methods so as to bring his listeners up to his level. One can only assume that the ones with natural ability — like those who supposedly make “good” subjects for hypnosis — found the method worked, while the rest gave up after a few failures.

More generally, there’s the criticism of imbalance; psychic imbalance. Regardie criticized Neville’s neglect of the unconscious; it is the unconscious that is the source of our desires, which are “out-pictured” as the world around us. One the one hand, it is futile to try to impose our conscious desires, uses Neville’s method, when the far more powerful unconscious has other ideas; on the other, it may be wrong to try to override those unconscious desires, since they may be trying to tell us something. Before trying to “become a success” perhaps you should find out just why you really want to be a failure.

This, I think, clearly syncs up with the point made by Regardies’ student, the ArchDruid: the need, before embarking on a magical career, of getting the lower self in order.

So, what do we have here? Two systems of magic, neither of which really works unless you’ve already gotten yourself psychically straighten up. Pretty useless, then, eh?

Well, maybe not. I think there’s a kind of trap door, or a trick, in both systems, and in Crowley’s system as well. Hey, they call it magic, right?

Take the latter; Crowley’s magick, inducing changes in the world through will, only works if you have achieved the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Having identified your will with that entity, it is that entity’s will that magick instantiates. “Not my will, but Thine, be done.” As Augustine, not Crowley, said, “Love and do what thou wilt.” As Crowley would say, not only “Do What thou wilt” but “Love is the Law, Love under Will.”

As Alan Watts said, the Westerner thinks that if you say, I am God, then you should be able to “prove it” by doing random, meaningless things like make lightning strike. But if you are God, what you want to do is exactly what’s happening now all around yourself and within yourself; you’ve simply chosen to get out of your own way.

Now, getting back to Evola and Neville (Nevilla? Eville?), both systems require the practitioner to invest an enormous emotional commitment to object of desire. Evola:

Another technical detail is in order. In order for any image to act in the way I am talking about, it must be loved. It must be assumed in a great, inner calm and then warmed up, almost nourished, with sweetness, without bringing the will or any effort into play, and much less without expectations. The Hermeticists called this agent “sweet fire,” “fire that does not burn,” and even “fire of the lamp” since it really has an enlightening effect on the images.[18]

And Neville? Neville no doubt enjoyed fluttering the dovecots of his ladies-who-lunch listeners with his risqué reading of the Song of Songs. Many have wondered what on Earth it has to do with the “wise” Solomon to whom it is attributed; Neville reveals that it is, in fact, the key to the Bible itself, and his method:

What more beautiful description of this romance of the conscious and subconscious is there than that told in the “Song of Solomon”: “By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth [3:1] . . . I found him whom my soul loveth; I held him and I not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me” [3:4].

Preparing to sleep, you feel yourself into the state of the answered wish, and then relax into unconsciousness. Your realized wish is he whom you seek. By night, on your bed, you seek the feeling of the wish fulfilled that you may take it with you into the chamber of her that conceived you, into sleep or the subconscious which gave you form, that this wish also may be given expression.

This is the way to discover and conduct your wishes into the subconscious. Feel yourself in the state of the realized wish and quietly drop off to sleep.

Night after night, you should assume the feeling of being, having and witnessing that which you seek to be, possess and see manifested. Never go to sleep feeling discouraged or dissatisfied. Never sleep in the consciousness of failure.

Your subconscious, whose natural state is sleep, sees you as you believe yourself to be, and whether it be good, bad or indifferent, the subconscious will faithfully embody your belief.

As you feel so do you impress her; and she, the perfect lover, gives form to these impressions and out-pictures them as the children of her beloved.

“Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee” [Song of Solomon 4:7] is the attitude of mind to adopt before dropping off to sleep.[19]

Note: the way to discover as well as to conduct your wishes into the subconscious. Again, not some random, “show off your magic powers” wish, but literally our heart’s inmost desire. And once it is discovered, we know it is God’s will for us, since it is He who placed it there. We can “make changes in accord with our will” because our True Will is, in fact, God’s will for us; we only need to discover it, and then get out of the way.

So if you must find a “system” of magic expounded in Evola’s book, I suggest it can be defended from the charge of ignoring, as Regardie would say, the importance of getting in touch with the unconscious as an essential preliminary; at least, the materials are there, if read against the much clearer presentation given by Neville, the “most magical” of the New Thought teachers.

And this is why I regard New Thought, for all its trailer park hucksterism, to be superior to all the “magickal” systems; no robes and chants and waiving wands around; just a continuous attitude of gratitude (Wallace Wattles) and positive thought (Norman Vincent Peale, Trump’s guru) directed toward what we confidently expect God to provide.[20]

Not surprisingly, Neville seems to have had the most successful life of the three (especially in the very American terms of the New Thought). Marriage and family, living in swanky hotels and apartments, lecturing in New York and San Francisco to sell-out crowds, even a TV show! He also tells stories of successes ranging from getting tickets to a sold-out performance at the Met to getting out of the Army.[21] The rather dismal later lives of Evola, and especially Crowley, are well known.

But is this a fair, or relevant, issue? Evola points out in The Hermetic Tradition (one of those many works the Archdruid fails to mention) that we cannot judge the mage’s accomplishments by his life on this plane; he may be hiding, or he may suffer from “boomerang” effects in this world from his activities in another. Above all, he has risen above all concern for material shows and material gain; just the psychic “adjustment” (“so that the aspiring mage can use his or her habits of thought and feeling rather than being used by them”) demanded by the Archdruid.[22]

After all, it is Neville, after a lifetime of success, who is largely forgotten today; except for a few rarified souls, which happy band now includes . . . you.


1. Specifically, Introduction to Magic: Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2001). This is actually only volume one; the other two volumes have not appeared in English to my knowledge.

2. Perhaps some of you, like myself, are already familiar with his other blog, The Archdruid’s Report, where he posts infrequently reflections on “a wide range of subjects, including peak oil and the future of industrial society,” which are as well worth pondering as they are infrequent.

3. Even a self-styled one like Baron Corvo; see my “E-Caviar for the Masses! Olde Books for the Downwardly Mobile Elite,” here.

4. Or as the Druid puts it with deadly whimsy, “the latest oozing-edge products of post-post-postmodern (insert one: C, K, X)aos magi(insert one: c, ck, k, que).”

5. “As I paged through Introduction to Magic, trying to decide whether to give it shelf space or sell it to the used book store . . .”

6. See, for example, “The Secret of Trump’s A Peale: Traditionalism Triumphant! Or: He’s Our Evola, Only Better?,” here. There are plenty of accounts of New Thought online but you might do well to read Mitch Horowitz’s skeptical but enthusiastic One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life (Crown, 2014). For more on Goddard, see my essay “Magick for Housewives: The Not-So New and Really Rather Traditional Thought of Neville Goddard” in the forthcoming 4th volume of Aristokratia. If you can’t wait for that, consider my kindle version of Goddard’s short book Feeling is the Secret where I contribute an Afterword on Goddard and the Hermetic and Magical traditions.

7. A name that will become significant very soon!

8. “Dear Avid Fan: Inherit my mantle and surpass my achievements.” — Dr. Hannibal Lektor to the Tooth Fairy, Manhunter, Michael Mann, 1986.

9. While Evola did have dealing with the SS, it is unlikely he joined, or rather, unlikely they would have him, given Himmler’s antipathy to him. Also, my understanding is that the Waffen, or “armed” SS was in the field, rather than fiddling around in archives as Evola was. It reminds me of a description of Himmler’s Ahnenerbe as “the faculty of the New School with uniforms and guns.”

10. For Evola’s own account, see The Path of Cinnabar (Arktos, 2009).

11. “Magick for Housewives,” op. cit.

12. Magic, pp. 55-56.

13. Feeling is the Secret, op. cit.

14. See Mitch Horowitz, ed., The Power of Imagination: The Neville Goddard Treasury (New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 2015). This not only collects 10 of Neville’s short books, but reprints the relevant chapter from Israel Regardie’s The Romance of Metaphysics (1946).

15. Romance of Metaphysics, cited from Horowitz, ed., The Power of Imagination: The Neville Goddard Treasury.

16. “[T]he fundamental psychological factor in Neville’s teaching, [and] the fundamental fact about Neville himself . . . is a very simple fact: Neville is a dancer” (Regardie, op. cit.). Not only is Neville’s stage training an important part of his method, I would add that as a dancer Neville is symbolically linked to Krishna, who “from time to time” reincarnates to “re-establish the Dharma.” (Bhagavad Gita) From Krishna to Alain Daniélou, the dancer has always been an archetype of the Realized Man. Clifton Webb was also originally a Broadway dancer, making him the perfect choice to incarnate Krishna in the Mr. Belvedere movies. See my essay “The Babysitting Bachelor as Aryan Avatar: Clifton Webb in Sitting Pretty, Part Two,” here. Such dancing, of course, in its calm, hieratic gestures and world-creating power, has nothing to do with the negroid jitterbugging of today, which Evola frequently condemned as part of the “negrofication” of the modern world.

17. Neville occasionally tells stories — like Jesus, his favorite method — where he seems to be able to drop into such states at will, at the drop of a hat, if you will, and then snap out of them after only a few moments, but having accomplished all his set tasks.

18. “Commentary on the Opus Magicum,” op. cit., p. 57. “The fire of the lamp” recalls Neville’s “You must be like the moth in search of his idol, the flame.” Again, Dr. Lechter comes to mind: an investigator muses over one of Buffalo Bill’s tell-tale moths: “Somebody grew this guy. Fed him honey and nightshade, kept him warm. Somebody loved him.” Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1990).

19. Feeling is the Secret, op. cit.

20. “Faith is the underlying reality of things hoped for, the proof of things unseen.” Hebrews 11.1; “He need only petition God, the one who gives to everyone unstintingly and without asking embarrassing questions, and it will be given him. Only let him be sure to ask in faith, without ambivalence, for the doubter wavers like the tossing of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” James, 1. 6-7 (From Robert M. Price’s The Human Bible; see “Lovecraft’s Bible: Robert M. Price & the [Un]-Making of the New Testament,” here).

21. Horwitz has verified a number of these, including the story of how he dreamed his way out of the Army. Official records show he was honorably discharged in 1942, and awarded American citizenship, in order to, as the discharge paper say, “conduct important wartime activities in civilian life” — giving lectures in New York.

22. The Hermetic Tradition (Inner Traditions, 1995), “The Invisible Masters.”


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  1. Luka
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Was Evola’s Magic ever any different from any other esoteric schools he pursued ?

    It would be then quite difficult to say that his “phase” didn’t last long and ended abruptly. His interest in esotericism in my opinion follows a quite steady path, with some logical refinement taking place, until he ultimately seamed to have reached the most dry path – Buddhist Ascesis.

    For example, his exposition of Tantrism and Shaktism followed the same thought patterns in my opinion.

  2. Reinout van Hulst
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    What Evola and Neville may lack a bit in their approach is the sense of the ‘mysterion’, of the mystery, of the weird, of what students of the Runes call ‘Runa’. They may strive for too much solar simplicity and transparency. They try to impose their vision on reality without investigating the validity of this vision, whether it is their ‘true will’, rather like ‘brutalist’ architecture. Probably the sense of mystery is an awareness of the workings of the unconscious. Magicians dress up not only to become more emotionally involved. It also heightens the sense of the mystery.

  3. D. McCulloch
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    If you go down the path of “magic” instead of tradition, you’ll shortly find yourself surrounded by nutters. The unfortunate term is what attracted the “Druid” to this book, which might have benefited from a title like “Eclectic Initiatic Tradition and Ritual,” or some such. The criticized ritual there is exactly like beginner meditations practiced by my Buddhist sect – an authentic tradition, unlike Druidism – and carries no particular risks of any kind, solar or otherwise. The idea that there should be a tight integration of practices of “magic” is the wish that it should not be magic – and, as the author points out, that the book should be what it manifestly is not intended to be, namely, an instruction manual, instead of a collection from a wide range of authors from different magical schools. Magic, not being an independent tradition, is eclectic by its very nature – not withstanding whatever personal efforts the druid may have made in this respect. I think our author may have made the mistake of becoming too impressed by a resume that does not so much indicate deep learning, as a lifetime of befuddlement.

  4. Jaego
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    The “Druid” said on his blog that he wished he could live to see the Hispano-Asian Civilization that was going to arise on the West Coast. I asked him why he got involved in Druidism at all, since he had no loyalty to the White Race. The Ancient Druids weren’t above the world, except for a few, but rather passionate advocates for their people (thus hunted by the Romans). If he wanted a politically neutral form of Occultism, why didn’t he stick to the Golden Dawn?

    He didn’t print this letter but he did ban me.

  5. rhondda
    Posted July 30, 2016 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    I am rereading Evola’s Introduction to Magic in the light of Neville’s teachings and I must say it is making sense to me. Damn it James, you are too smart for your own good. (but please continue to be so)

  6. Frederik Jürgen
    Posted July 30, 2016 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the article. Any idea when I can purchase Feeling is the secret with your annotations in Germany?

    One thing that I might add: Throughout Evola’s work, even his “esoteric” and “non-political” works, he makes clear that his deliberations happen in the context of the Kali Yuga. Throughout his body of work, he selectively presents religious, magical, esoteric systems which are supposed to be a pathway to enlightenment fit for people like him !!!

    He consciously rejected forms of bhakti Yoga, Christianity (even though he later admitted some forms of Catholicism to harbor the possibility of success) and Islam (as he states in a letter on Guenon, and openly, continuously and coherently presents his vision of virile, solar spirituality in the context of the Kali Yuga.

    I, European, German, find the american magicians lacking in their concern for our age, however, I have found them widely effective in pragmatic application.
    However, as the works of Charles Upton show: This lack of concern for context harbors the dangers of pseudo- and counter initiation.

    Lastly: A very interesting merger of american new thought and modern neuro-psychology is presented by Carmen Simon in “Impossible to Ignore”.

    • James O'Meara
      Posted July 30, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Evola was very deliberately exploring various traditions to find which, or what parts of them, could be of use in our particular station of the cosmic cycle; hence as I point out above, Evola may have “left” magic but hardly further esoteric studies. One point I haven’t emphasized enough is that what’s interesting about NT is that it is in some ways a further simplification of hermeticism into a form (more?) appropriate for our current situation. You are correct to add that their relative lack of awareness of cosmic cycles leaves NT practitioners open to malevolent influences; perhaps both traditions can assist the other?

      I will look into Carmen Simon.

      Neville’s books appear to be in the public domain and dozens of editions are available, in print or kindle. A search of reveals many such, in English and German, including an English ed. of Feeling is the Secret, and an interesting book on the “Magic of Neville Goddard,” However, FITS is a very short book, and you can download it free all over the internet.

      As for my Afterword, it will appear in the forthcoming 4th volume of Aristokratia. If you are on Facebook, perhaps we could find a way to get you a copy, perhaps for a comparable donation to Counter-Currents?

      • Peter Quint
        Posted July 31, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        Mr. O’Meara you are a brilliant reviewer. I hope you review “Hail Caesar,” and “Burn After Reading.” These two movies are brilliant satires of culture and religion by the Coen brothers.

        • James O'Meara
          Posted July 31, 2016 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

          Thanks. I haven’t gotten around to seeing either, but there are several excellent regular move reviewers here at C-C who will no doubt get around to them. How about yourself?

          • Peter Quint
            Posted August 1, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

            I’v thought about it, presently I have to go to the library to get on the internet. If I ever get internet in my residence again I will probably give it a shot. Anyhow I have all of your books that have been cataloged on Counter-Currents.

  7. Peter Quint
    Posted July 29, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I’v read a few of Evola’s books, I need to return to him and read all of them. I read somewhere that Mussolini was in awe of Evola’s magic.

    • Matthias
      Posted July 29, 2016 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

      I read “Revolt” and the one about Tantra, both supremely enlightening and humiliating at the same time – Evola was scarily erudite, I still have a serious inferiority complex when approaching him. I don’t even know if it’s true (with a capital T) what he wrote, but after “Revolt” I never looked at our world the same way again, a real mental nuclear bomb. His work is probably meant to periodically return to, nothing one can digest easily in the subway. Apparently he was heavily indebted to Guenon, whom I want to tackle next.

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