Friday, April 10, 2020

The Crystal Tomb

The Crystal Tomb of the Ozarks

There is a remarkable shrine to the Resurrection* located in the Missouri Ozarks. Situated 15 miles south of Interstate 44 at Lebanon, Missouri on MO 5 and 7 miles north from the little village of Grove Springs at the intersection of Highway J and 5. There you will find a small parking lot in front of an interesting structure.

Constructed out of native rocks using a very old Ozark building style, this small building replicates the empty grave of the rock-cut tomb where the earthly body of Christ was laid after the Crucifixion. At the entrance there is a steel archway over the approach to the tomb that states, “Rejoice the tomb is empty: Jesus will return to reign forever” the words cut into the steel.

The tomb is very professionally crafted out of rocks that are indigenous to this part of the Ozark Mountains. The builders have chosen each rock carefully so that they fit snugly to form the walls. What is truly miraculous is the number of sparkling jewel-like crystals that are in the rocks. Large and small quartz crystals and amethyst embedded in geodes festoon the rock face adding a curious aurora of energy that accompanies the burial chamber. These autochthonic crystals were obviously selected purposely to bring a glorious presence to this place.

It is a wondrous work of art and devotion built by the local people in an act of unselfish love that shares their Faith with everyone.

David S Reif

Good Friday, MMXX AD


Many of you have been enjoying Perennis blog for years since the print version cease to exist. After over a decade we continue to post on this blog as time permits. I still go to work everyday as an artist squeaking out a living with my wife creating things to sell. It is no easier today than ever.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Julius Evola: Hetrodyne Apotheosis

Julius Evola the Hetrodyne* Apotheosis 

  Joscelyn Godwin’s discussion about Julius Evola (1898-1974) in relation to theosophy1 (interview posted here ) inspired me to take up the subject of Evola again after dropping it several times over the years.  Lately there has been a flurry of interest regarding Evola due to reports [now disputed] that well known political consultant Steve Bannon is said to have been influenced by Evola.2
Writers in the areas of the Western Spiritual beliefs and the study of symbolism have included Mr Evola in the Traditionalist school and some seem to conflate that with Perennialism.  Evola can loosely fit the latter due his interest in Imperial Rome, however, his contemporaries would more appropriately be in the area of Traditionalism as a more generic cross cultural eclectic practice associated with Guénon and others.
Evola,  Guénon, and many in their generation sought out the darkest caves and crevices of Western occultism looking for a critique of their culture which was dominated by Roman Catholicism.  Yet it is not difficult to imagine that studying the occult for purely academic reasons can be a pretext for an attempt to amplify ones own personal power, a common practice of the occultist.
In some quarters of the Establishment merely whispering the name “Evola” evokes a spasm of reflexive emotion dredged up from the WWII era.  The victors in that war (as all victors do) set about to write history to suit their own taste and whether justified or not whack anybody tainted with the stain of the vanquished enemy.
Such is the case for Mr. Evola an eclectic philosopher, artist, and poet who has left us a large body of work to sift through.  After having had an on and off quixotic flirtation with German National Socialism and his native Italian Fascist powers of that era Julius settled in the camp of the defeated Axis powers.   At once the ideologue and starry-eyed follower then the next moment a Romanesque visionary caught in a pagan daydream. When the hard power politics of the Nazi SS and Mr Mussolini’s battlefield setbacks collided with the mind of an artist, poet, and philosopher something alchemical happened.
One of the procedures of alchemy is taking matter and stressing it with heat, acids, oxidation, and then repeating the process over and over in a prescribed sequence. This protocol when done properly will ultimately yield something unique and wondrous.  Indeed Evola endured the great stresses of war and political upheaval in the XXth century and while abiding this devastating century he was able to maintain an enlarged perspective of history and philosophy.
Godwin uses Evola’s association with philosopher Rene Guénon (1886-1951) aka Sheikh Abd al-Wahid Yahya (his Arabic name), as a launching point to illustrate certain facts about Evola, “Evola’s engagement in politics...Evola’s heroic path of the solitary “special type of man” working to realize the transcendent in himself and become an “absolute individual...”3 In this contrast with Rene Guénon, the Islamic convert, we see a glimmer of light coming from Evola which is filled out in his writing career that spans some of the most turbulent decades in human history.  These two men in their own way contributed to a renewed interest in the philosophia perennis.  Yet one ended up with paganism and the other with Islam while searching the antediluvian mysteries for the common root in a clouded pre-history where everything is possible.
Godwin also makes a good distinction about theosophy in regards to Evola but it also can be apply in other areas.  “What has been said [about theosophy] explains why this question cannot be answered with a simple Yes or No. If the person asking it associates theosophy only with the Theosophical Society, the answer is No. If on the other hand the question is based on an appreciation of the distinction between that society and the theosophical tradition, then the answer is Yes. Evola was certainly engaged on a search for the Absolute, and he recognized that this search had been pursued by many different routes, at many different periods. In point of fact, he had more in common with Blavatsky than he would have liked to admit, because the goal of his sophia was, like hers, an impersonal one. Both were more sympathetic to the Eastern traditions, especially Buddhism, than to the monotheistic or Abrahamic religions. In reading the Christian theosophists and alchemists, both looked beneath the surface, at the metaphysical doctrines and experiences that transcended dogmatic and biblical modes of expression. Also, the very idea of “tradition,” of a primordial wisdom that has reappeared in different forms throughout the ages, was mediated to Evola’s generation by the Theosophical Society. The Renaissance had known this as the theory of a prisca theologia, a wisdom possessed by pagans as well as by Jews and Christians, but it was the Theosophical Society that publicized it, and widened its scope by including the wisdom of the Near and Far East, even privileging the latter. By the time Evola came of age, the idea that the ancient East possessed a wisdom superior to that of the modern West had entered the general fund of ideas, attracting people who were disillusioned both by Christianity and by atheistic materialism.”4

On to Egypt

Another piece in the Evola puzzle is Martin Lings (1909-2005) who lived in the same period as Evola and Guénon.  “Lings was born in Lancashire, England, in 1909 and received both his BA (1932) and his MA (1937) from Oxford University in English literature was a leading member of the “Traditionalist” or “Perennialist” school and an acclaimed author, editor, translator, scholar, Arabist, and poet whose work centers on the relationship between God and man through religious doctrine, scripture, symbolism, literature, and art. He was an accomplished metaphysician and essayist who often turned to a number of the world’s great spiritual traditions for examples, though he is probably best known for his writings on Islam and its esoteric tradition, Sufism.“
“In 1935 Lings discovered the writings of Rene Guénon, the French philosopher and went to Cairo to study with Guénon. Lings like Guénon was smitten with Islam and lived in Cairo until Guénon died in 1951 and shortly thereafter Lings and his wife were kicked out of Egypt by some of his fellow adherents of Islam during a wave of Jihadism in the early 1950’s which did not approve of his English genetics. He returned to England where he lived the life of an academic. He wrote several books while working at the British Museum.”5
Following in the path of Guénon and Evola, Lings was a critic of Christianity which was an intellectually fashionable position to take in the XXth century that nearly ensured at least some approval from the bookish nabobs in the intellectual glitterati.  His path also mirrored Guénon’s in that they believed Islam was the last bastion of Traditionalism in the face of the modernist onslaught. Unwilling to fight it out in the mean streets of the academy they sought “refuge” in Cairo (of all places) and became pets for the mullahs and muftis who were quite proud of their converts. [read more at the Famous Converts to Islam section].
Cairo was an interesting choice for Guénon.  He had been a profound Roman Catholic and had flirted with offshoot orders of the Church and was married to a devout Catholic.  He also actively participated in many of the occult and dark arts in early XXth century France. It seems that the date he actually converted to Islam is in doubt although certainly by the late 1920’s he had converted to Islam “...but he didn’t converted to orthodox Islam, he chose the highly occult Sufi sect known as Shadhilites.” 6

In the same time period Guénon was in Cairo it was the incubator for radical Islamic revolutionaries.  Perhaps the most famous in the West is the Muslim Brotherhood (1928 to present). “According to founder al-Banna, ‘It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.’  Therefore, the Muslim Brotherhood opposes secular tendencies of Islamic nations and wants a return to the precepts of the Qur'an. The Brotherhood firmly rejects all notions of Western influences... Brotherhood members organize events from prayer meetings to sport clubs for socializing.” 7
It is clear that from the beginning the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) goal was domination of the Islamic world but also the “...entire planet”. This was the desired end of the organization.  No one can ever say that Arabs lack intellect or are deficient in excellent political instincts.  The culture demands a single minded focus on one god and that is Allah.  This practice sets the tone for their other pursuits.  World domination being one of those pursuits.  The MB had laid out a manifesto or declaration of war and everything goes in war including armed conflict but also subversion and non-leathal destabilization of ones enemies.

Mufti of Jerusalem with Adolph Hitler 

With WWII raging in the background while Evola was oscillating back and forth between Mussolini and Hitler concurrently Evola’s associate Mr Guénon was ensconced in Egypt. The Islamic world was watching from the sidelines in Cairo waiting for the “colonial” powers of Europe to kill each other off lending assistance towards that end whenever possible.  If the Europeans continued to weaken themselves with endless wars and Christianity, the backbone of their culture, could be undermined, then a divided and co-opted Christendom would fall to the single minded plans of Arab Islam.
Meanwhile Sheikh Abd al-Wahid Yahya (Guénon) spent his days in hot revolutionary Cairo down playing his ties to a dark occult past in France. At the same time organizations like the MB were spreading a revival of Islamic fundamentalism in the universities, mosques, and throughout the educated classes in the Egyptian bureaucracy.  A number of insurrections broke out in Egypt and it was being torn apart by radical forces.  “In 1952, members of the Muslim Brotherhood were accused of taking part in the Cairo Fire that destroyed some 750 buildings in downtown Cairo – mainly night clubs, theatres, hotels, and restaurants frequented by British and other foreigners”8

Imperial Paganism

To his credit Evola did not succumb to the Adhan (call to prayer) and the Sujud or putting ones face on the ground three times a day as an element of Islamic prostration pointing to the Black Rock at Mecca and saying Arabic prayers.  Instead he rejected Roman Catholicism in his native Italy and dug into Hinduism, the Veda, the Kali Yuga, and its ancient roots in Zoroastrianism trying to absorb the origins of his own Euro-Iranic culture.  He was more akin to embracing classic Roman Imperial paganism rather than the upstart desert craze offered by Islam.

"Dynamic Synthesis" Julius Evola, 1918

Yet he would be plagued by contradictions which were foreshadowed in his efforts as an oil painter. In my opinion he was a talented and creative artist involved in the abstract Futurist movement but a look at his work reveals that he would not be boxed in a commercial style.  Yet more important he seemed to be working out philosophical problems on his canvases.  This was not the point of the Dada abstractionists and he soon move away from painting.

He seemed to always be in a transcended mood although distracted with the pesky confines of “reality” swirling about him,  Somewhere his intuitions had to make sense to him but the impact of cataclysmic event shrouded his view.  The answers were not “...blowing in the wind...” the answers were howling in a hurricane.  Consequently, the abstract (philosophical) paintings in his soul could not conform to the ones in his mind nor could they find coherence in his writings. These are not new issues for the artistic intellectual but for Evola caught in the crossfire of modernism he became the archetype of today’s unmodulated spiritual hetrodyne.
Mr Evola had a curious mind and some of his thinking was original. He had a penchant for viewing mythology in the light of metaphysics.  He saw the myth structure of the West as the operating system for culture.  Yet the stressful times and inability of his Roman Catholic Church to come to grips with modernism skewed his vision.  So whatever might have been good about his ideas were bent into the same dark anti-Western mirage that plagued Sheikh Abd al-Wahid Yahya.  The fall of Christendom for what?
Evola’s work was suppressed after WWII due to his support for the Axis. Lings would be rewarded with a prestigious university position writing brilliant works exposing the underpinning of modernism yet leaving us with a longing for an alternative.  Guénon became the darling of the global ecumenical cadre of the Left who is always inspired by strategies of personal power.
Evola continued to dabble in Nazism believing it was the force that would rekindle the flames of paganism.  During an air raid in the Spring of 1945 while living in Vienna working on occult research for the Nazis a Soviet bomb exploded nearby and a chunk of steel shrapnel hurdled through the streets and slammed into his spine paralyzing him from the waist down for the remainder of his life.  In his earlier research into Eastern Philosophy he became aware of the Kali Yuga or the devolved “Age of Iron” which was given a new meaning that day in Vienna when an iron fragment paid a karmic visit to his Kundalini channel.
The alchemical Work is capable of turning that which is common into something precious. The operations involved are relentless and brutal rending matter apart and smelting soul and spirit in the furnace of our material world. The Work attracts many; some succeed, some fail, while others kibitz.  It can produce things unique and wondrous. In Evola’s case it produced something unique and enigmatic. 

  David S. Reif



3 Ibid,







*In radio communications two or more broadcasts on the same frequency causing an audio dissonance is a hetrodyne signal.


Many of you have been enjoying Perennis blog for years since the print version cease to exist. After over a decade we continue to post on this blog as time permits. I still go to work everyday as an artist squeaking out a living with my wife creating things to sell. It is no easier today than ever .

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Thursday, January 2, 2020

From Sweden to Siberia

King Charles XII's "Victory at Narva"--Gustaf Cederstrom (1835-1933)

From Sweden to Siberia--Theo Berigsen

Editor’s Foreword

By 1700 A.D the example of Jacbob Boehme (1575-1624 A.D.) that lay-people were capable of great spiritual insight had traveled from his home in Goerlitz across the German states and the Low Countries. Boehme’s legacy also had a profound effect on Sweden as a forerunner to the Radical Pietism movement that flowed from the Lutheran philosopher Phillip Spener (1635-1705 A.D.) who created a revolution by stressing the individual mystic connection between people and God. Spener called for an organization of believers through small groups lead by ordinary citizens called “conventicles” which met outside the customary church structure; a very controversial idea in those days.

Spener was acquainted with Wilhelm Kriegsmann (1633-1679) who was a student of spiritual alchemy and other mystical practices widespread in the Germanic states, Austria, Bohemia, Hungary, and other European countries. Kriegsmann had studied the great mystics like Valentin Weigel (1533-1588), Johann Arndt ((1555-162) and especially Jacob Boehme. Spener would meet Kriegsmann at a Frankfurt conventicle during the formative period of the conventicle movement.1 This was a period of great intellectual and theological fervor and debate with speculative theologians influenced by Boehme and other “enthusiasts” [mystics] coming into contact with establishment Lutherans who were interested in reform.

The Pietist movement Spener began in the 17th century continues today as Christian mysticism which is part of the Western Esoteric tradition. Spener also has a central place in the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). Click Here for information about ECC

As Pietism came to Sweden, “... the principal leaders and transmitters of Pietism during the first quarter of the eighteenth century were civil servants and other government officials in Stockholm. The most prominent leader and organizer of the Stockholm circle of Pietists in this period was Elias Wolker. Wolker was an accountant, and it was he who worked both to organize many of the conventicles in Stockholm and to establish a connection with Spener-Halle Pietism through active correspondence with Francke. Other notable leaders of this Pietist circle in Stockholm were Lorens Carelberg, a mint-master, and Georg Lybecker, a deputy judge. The remaining lay-people who participated in the Stockholm circle of Pietists, at least in the first decade of the eighteenth century, were primarily lower government officials and merchants.”2

At the same time these cultural events rocked Sweden the country and their young leader King Charles XII (b.1682) became involved in the “Great Northern War” 1700-1721, something few people in the USA are familiar with but changed the map of northern Europe for over 300 years.

A half century earlier by the end of the “30 Years War” (1618-1648) Sweden had saved Protestantism in Europe from the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation. In doing so they amassed an empire on the shores of the Baltic Sea that was not challenged until 1700. At the end of the Great Northern War Sweden’s empire is supplanted by the Russian Czar Peter the Great and King Charles XII is dead.
 [D S Reif-Ed.]

1“Between Alchemy and Pietism, Mike Zuber, 2014
2 “Swedish Pietism (1700-1727) as Resistance and Popular Religion”, Todd Green, Lutheran Quarterly, December, 2007

Mr. Berigsen begins...

Pietism in the Army of Sweden’s King Charles XII


Pietism in the Army of Sweden’s King Charles XII in Siberia from 1709 to 1722 is an important part of the history of Pietism in Scandinavia. After the battle of Poltava in 1709 in Ukraine the king and his ally, Ukrainian Hetman Ivan Mazepa managed with a few of their armies to escape to Ottoman territory (present day Moldavia). King Charles left it to his leading generals to decide if the main Swedish army was to retreat to the Crimean Khanate, an ally of Sweden, to continue the fight, or surrender. The over 20,000 strong army including almost 2,000 women and children did surrender and the captives were marched by foot to Moscow to be humiliated in a march through the Russian capital guarded by Russian officers and soldiers. After the march from the village of Perevolochna to Moscow the prisoners were divided up. A great part was sent to the capital of Siberia, Tobolsk, while others were forced to work in the newly established Russian shipyards at St. Petersburg on the Baltic Sea and Voronets on the Black Sea.

Many of the prisoners, their wives and children died during the years in captivity and it is estimated that only 25 percent of them could return to Sweden in 1722 after the Peace Treaty at Nystad, Finland, was signed in 1721.

The First Contacts

In his thesis ”Yttre kyla och inre glöd – Pietismen bland Karl XII:s Karoliner i Sibirien 1709-1722” (Freezing Outside and Fire inside – Pietism among the Army of Charles XII in Siberia 1709-1722) in the history of theology Marcus Johansson has in 2012 (University of Stockholm) brought to life the harrowing experience of the soldier families in Tobolsk and how they reached out for spiritual guidance to the leading pietist in Germany, August Hermann Francke of Halle [Halle was a stronghold of Radical Pietism in Saxony, now Germany-ed].

Johansson in his work has studied both published and unpublished material. He concludes that the evangelical movement had its origin in the piety of the Swedish soldiers of the time combined with their situation of deprivation in captivity. The spiritual origins came from Halle and German pietism. The focus was on conversion, struggle against sin and participation in conventicles combined with social activities in education in a school that in practice was a children’s home. Bible reading was important, the views concerning divine retribution and the belief that grace only could save man. The representatives of the state Church of Sweden allowed the Pietists in Tobolsk to express their religious belief as long as it did not compete with Lutheran orthodoxy.

Pietism, Francke and the Swedish Prisoners in Siberia

Pietism began with Philipp Jakob Spener (1635 – 1705), who was born in Alsace and had a devout Christian upbringing. in Rappoltsweiler, a village in upper Alsace, northwest of what is present day Colmar, France. He was raised by his devout Christian and pious parents, and entered the University of Strasbourg in 1651 and completed his studies in 1659. After that he did some travelling, first to Basel in Switzerland, and then to Geneva, Switzerland. Here, he listened to the preachings of French reformed preacher Jean de Labadie (1610 – 1674) who was calling for a true belief and holy living.

In 1675 he published his Pia Desideria proposing reform. Firstly he suggested a greater emphasis and use of the Bible, including institute small group Bible studies. The second proposal was reform in the priesthood. Thirdly he wrote that knowledge of Christian doctrine was not enough, for Christianity consisted also of practice. The unbelievers and heretics should be prayed for, corrected with loving admonition and led back to Christianity by living a godly example of the Christian life was the fourth proposal. This approach should be used instead of disputation, polemics and virulent personal attacks. Fifthly, universities and schools should encourage godly, instead of worldly, living among their students. The sixth proposal was that sermons should be written with the goal of instilling faith and its fruits in the listener to the greatest possible degree. There was generally a very positive public response to the book, but also opposition.

In 1686 Spener was called to become court preacher in Saxony. Shortly after the arrival in Dresden Spener was informed about a conventicle which was administered by August Hermann Francke (1663 – 1727) and Paul Anton (1661 – 1730). Francke had studied at Leipzig University and later lectured there but his employment was terminated and conventicles were forbidden by the Saxon government.

Later Francke was ordained as pastor in Erfurt but had to leave the city in 1691. Soon thereafter he was called to Halle and appointed professor of Greek and Oriental languages. Halle would later be known around the world as a center of Pietism. It was in Halle that Francke started to develop his famous foundations. He started a school for poor children and later in 1696 an orphanage, a hospital, a bookstore, a home for widows, a library, a bakery, a brewery and an art museum. A print shop for bibles was opened in 1697. In 1710 a Bible Institute was created and the world’s first Bible Society. Pietism in Scandinavia first took hold in Denmark and Francke helped the Danes to send missionaries to the trading post of Tranquebar, India.

In 1713 nine Swedish officers imprisoned in Tobolsk (Siberia) had written to Francke in Halle requesting aid in education, medical facilities, and libraries. He was positive and provided money, medicine, books and equipment. This resulted in the creation of Pietist institutions for the prisoners in Tobolsk. Swedish soldiers started to carry devotional booklets written by Francke and printed in Halle. When he passed away in 1727, the pietist movement had been born and continued to thrive.

(The short overview above is based on ”The Rise of German Pietism in the 17th Century” by James Paulgaard. It is available on Internet but was first published as a thesis in History, University of Saskatchewan, Canada, December 1,1998.)

Halle was in East Germany and during the Soviet occupation until 1989 – 1991 the foundations of Francke suffered great damage from neglect. They were restored in the 1990s and Halle now houses a study center, libraries and archives devoted to Pietism and the Early Enlightenment. The large orphanage is once more in perfect condition.

Boehme’s Legacy Continues

Boehme’s mystical tradition continues in Sweden with the influential Swedish Christian mystic Hjalmar Ekstrom (1885 – 1962). He was also a shoemaker born in Helsingborg in Scania region, Sweden. In 1907 he had a strong revelation and later in 1916 he experienced what he called ”the mystic death”.

Among his works are two significant contributions in Swedish: ”The Hidden Woekshop” (1962) and ”The Still Chamber” (1968). In 1980 Ekstrom was the subject of an academic dissertation at Lund University, Sweden: Anton Geels, ”Mystikern Hjalmar Ekstrom 1885 – 1962”.

In the so called Flodberg Circle in Sweden, which included Ekstrom, there was a strong belief in ”The Silent Song of Praise.” It focused on song as a means in the kenotic spirituality. By singing songs, giving music life in one’s inner space one lets the own self, body and mind – become an instrument for music that stems from a divine source. The basis for understanding a life of belonging to Christ is in the understanding of singing. It was the Christian practice known as self-emptying -. Kenesis.

Ekstrom once said that “Boehme belonged to the most pure mysticism”. Further information on Swedish Christian mysticism can be found in ”Western Esotericism in Scandinavia” (ed. Henrik Bogdan and Olav Hammer, Brill Publisher, Netherlands, 2016).

--Theo Berigsen

Many of you have been enjoying Perennis blog for years since the print version cease to exist. After over a decade we continue to post on this blog as time permits. I still go to work everyday as an artist squeaking out a living with my wife creating things to sell. It is no easier today than ever .

I have added a Donorbox link to this blog. Please consider contributing a monthly donation to keep this work going. Or just a one-time sum will be appreciated. You can contribute anonymously if you like.

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