Studies in Comparative Religion
The First English Journal on Traditional Studies - established 1963
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René Guénon
René Guénon (1886-1951) was a writer of extraordinary power and insight—in the early decades of the 20th century, it was Guénon who reintroduced the importance and necessity of integral metaphysics to thinkers in the West, and who delivered scathing indictments of the pomp and hollowness of much of modernism. Traditionalists and Perennialists everywhere tend to view Guénon's writings as having had a profound and critical influence on their thinking.


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Type TitleAuthor/
Reviewed Author*
Author 2/
The Idea of the Center in the Traditions of AntiquityGuénon, René Vol. 16, No. 3 and 4. ( Summer-Autumn, 1984) Comparative Religion
The Sacred Heart and the Legend of the Holy GrailGuénon, René Vol. 16, No. 3 and 4. ( Summer-Autumn, 1984) Christianity
Word and SymbolGuénon, René Vol. 16, No. 1 and 2. ( Winter-Spring, 1984) Comparative Religion
Spirit and IntellectGuénon, René Vol. 15, No. 3 and 4. ( Summer-Autumn, 1983) Hinduism
The Symbolism of the GrailGuénon, René Vol. 15, No. 3 and 4. ( Summer-Autumn, 1983) Christianity
The Corner-StoneGuénon, René Vol. 14, No. 3 and 4. ( Summer-Autumn, 1980) Comparative Religion
The Arts and their Traditional ConceptionGuénon, René Vol. 14, No. 3 and 4. ( Summer-Autumn, 1980) Comparative Religion
The Land of the SunGuénon, René Vol. 14, No. 3 and 4. ( Summer-Autumn, 1980) Celtic
The Mysteries of the Letter NûnGuénon, René Vol. 14, No. 1 and 2. ( Winter-Spring, 1980) Islam
René Guénon finds in Hinduism, Greek mythology and in Judaism instances of the "World Egg", which symbolizes the cosmos in a state which preceded its unfolding as well as the center of the cosmos in its present state. Its contents are the same as those symbolically contained by the heart, which Guénon demonstrates by relating the World Egg to the primordial Avatar.
The Heart and the World EggGuénon, René Vol. 7, No. 4. ( Autumn, 1973) Comparative Religion
Al-FaqrGuénon, René Vol. 7, No. 1. ( Winter, 1973) Comparative Religion
Guénon here undertakes to show how the Taoist tradition is an integral part, though mostly hidden, of the ancient Chinese tradition with its origin in pre-history. This earlier tradition, first visible to history in the I Ching, adapted itself to later conditions through the birth of two parallel and reciprocal doctrinal forms, Taoism and Confucianism. Guénon’s more general objective is to illustrate how “traditional doctrines…contain in themselves from the very beginning the possibilities of all conceivable developments…and also the possibilities of all the adaptations which might be required by later circumstances.” The author demonstrates how the particular application here, namely the Chinese tradition, from a common root was divided into a doctrine of “pure metaphysics” (Taoism) and “the practical domain [or]…the realm of social applications” (Confucianism). The last part of the essay considers how the “real influence of Taoism can be extremely important [in China], while always remaining hidden and invisible.”
Taoism and ConfucianismGuénon, René Vol. 6, No. 4. ( Autumn, 1972) Far Eastern
In referring back to an earlier essay, "The Heart and the Cave," René Guénon explores the mutual relationship between the universal symbols of the mountain and the cave in various traditions. He suggests that the mountain ("the spiritual center" or "Absolute Reality") can also be represented by an upward-pointing triangle, and that the cave ("manifestation") can be represented by a downward-pointing triangle. He goes on to describe the many ways in which the two triangles (and thus the "mountain" and the "cave") can interact in geometric space. For example, the upward-pointing triangle can have the downward-pointing triangle contained within it, or outside and below it, and so on. These geometrical relationships recall, for Guénon, a multitude of relationships in sacred space that represent the meeting of divine realities and their earthly manifestations.
The Mountain and the CaveGuénon, René Vol. 5, No. 2. ( Spring, 1971) Comparative Religion
Guenon offers a linguistic introduction to the symbolism of the cave, the heart and the mountain as they function as spiritual metaphor. He describes the heart and the cave as "the place of the 'second birth'" because its eternal movement inward suggests the beginning of development. He continues on to explore the paradoxical nature of existence, which encourages the unity between opposites. Specifically, Guenon examines the example of this paradox in the etymological roots of the words heart, cave and mountain as they exist in various languages. This article is meant as an introduction to a deeper exploration of the symbolic nature of these images.
The Heart and the CaveGuénon, René Vol. 5, No. 1. ( Winter, 1971) Comparative Religion
René Guénon explores the hierarchical assumption of symbols over rites in the context of spiritual expression. He suggests that symbols are permanent representations of rites and that rites are symbols that are actions “performed in time”. He uses the example of the sign of the cross to suggest that this gesture is a symbol expressed in bodily movement. While symbols are represented in their figure, rites are represented by a performance, but both of these take place on a transcendent plane that is beyond human creation or the origin of the mind and serve to communicate “with the higher states of being.”
Rites and SymbolsGuénon, René Vol. 4, No. 3. ( Summer, 1970) Comparative Religion
Guénon discusses the symbolism of ‘the language of the birds’, found throughout religious tradition. Citing passages from Christian, Hindu, and Islamic sources, Understanding ‘the language of the birds’ often refers, according to Guénon, to understanding the language of the angels “which is symbolized in the human world by rhythmic language.” Guénon goes on to discuss the meaning of poetry as was originally understood – to be a comprehension of the Divine.
The Language of BirdsGuénon, René Vol. 3, No. 2. ( Spring, 1969) Comparative Religion
René Guénon discusses the symbolism of the fish and its centrality to the beginnings of several religions. A symbol of northern origins, its presence having been noted in North Germany and Scandinavia, the fish soon made its way to Central Asia and was directly related to the starting point of the Primordial Tradition. Guénon first focuses on its symbolism in the Hindu and Christian traditions as representative of a preserver or savior figure. He then presents the symbolism of the fish as a common thread among multiple traditions, including those of the Greeks and Chaldaeans.
Some Aspects of The Symbolism of The FishGuénon, René Vol. 3, No. 1. ( Winter, 1969) Comparative Religion
Science and how it relates to the art, or science, of hand-reading is the main topic of this article. Guenon primarily discusses how the meaning of hand reading is related to Islam through the 99 names of God. The planets also relate to the hands in the same way that different parts of the Islamic rosary relate to the hands, through different fingers. And even the twelve zodiac signs are related to the structure of the hands. Ultimately, Guenon makes the point that “there is always a question of adaptation which makes it impossible to transfer these sciences, just as they are, from one traditional form to another”.
The Science of Hand-Reading in SufismGuénon, René Vol. 1, No. 3. ( Summer, 1967) Islam
The subject of Hermeticism is the main topic of Guenon’s article, here he outlines hermeticism as naturally deriving from Hermes who represents a kind of “human alchemy”. Guenon continues in his examination of Hermes by naming several shared symbolisms with other figures. The symbolism of Hermes shares many parallels with, for example, Budha in India, which simply means wisdom. Likewise the figure of Thoth in Egypt also shares a resemblance to Hermes because he represents wisdom as well. Other parallels that Guenon discusses are the connection between Hermes to Scandinavian Odin and the prophet Idris in Islam. By finding the shared symbolism of Hermes to other religious or cultural figures, Guenon demonstrates that the ultimate aim of this figure is to return humans to their “primordial state”.
HermesGuénon, René Vol. 1, No. 2. ( Spring, 1967) Comparative Religion
Guénon examines various correspondences in ancient Hindu, Celtic, and Greek traditions in which the symbols of the wild boar and the bear appear. He informs us that the wild boar and the bear "symbolize respectively spiritual authority and temporal power, that is to say, the two castes of the Druids and Knights, the equivalents, at least originally and in their essential attributes, of the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas." Using mostly linguistic evidence, Guenon suggests how the symbols moved from the earliest primordial tradition through more recent traditions. He reminds us of the place of "the boar" (spiritual authority) as fundamentally superior to "the bear" (temporal authority).
The Wild Boar and the BearGuénon, René Vol. 1, No. 1. ( Winter, 1967) Hinduism
Oriental MetaphysicsGuénon, René Tomorrow, Vol. 12, No. 1. ( Winter, 1964) Comparative Religion
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