Tolkien, Fabre d’Olivet, and the Great Triad (A Note)

It behoves me to issue a self-correction, with regards to my last post about the Platonic Soul in Tolkien’s work. On reading into the symbolism of the right-angled triangle, in René Guénon's The Great Triad, I realised I had mapped out the correspondences between the Soul and Lingard’s geometry poorly. This is how Guenon expresses [...]

Regarding the Platonic Soul and ‘Tolkien’s Dialectic’:

A recent discussion with Carl Lingard on the nature of Tolkien’s “secret grammar” led to the question of whether Plato’s teaching on the soul might be mapped onto what Lingard calls ‘Tolkien’s Dialectic’.1 In Plato’s understanding, the soul is made up of three “parts”; reason, will, and appetite. These correspond respectively to the head, the [...]

Tolkien and Hyperborea – The Four Ages of Middle-earth

It is somewhat surprising, given the popularity of Tolkien’s works, that relatively little attention has been paid to some of the supplementary artwork for The Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion. Among the more intriguing pieces produced by the author are the heraldic designs for the various Elven houses. To my mind, no one [...]

René Guénon and the Vedanta

Now known as the founder of the traditionalist school, René Guénon would probably have objected to this title, insofar as any “ism” implies a historically contingent, ideological movement. A certain resistance to the particulars of history is characteristic of his thought, given its firm basis in a metaphysics that infinitely transcends all contingency. That said, [...]

From Bruno to Descartes – The Problem of “Infinite Space”

In his five dialogues on Cause, Principle and Unity, the Renaissance philosopher Giordano Bruno cites the famous idea that a circle of infinite size is a straight line. He uses this aphorism, attributed to Nicolas of Cusa, as a justification of his own theories of the universe consisting of infinite space. At first hearing, this [...]

From the Madeleine to the Mandala

Sacred Geography and Buddhist Enlightenment in Marcel Proust’s 'In Search of Lost Time' The idea that Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time represents, in one sense, a journey of disillusionment is no new thesis.1 It is the very surface level of the narrative, which nevertheless concludes not in despair, but in several moments of [...]

Why is Taliessin a Unicorn?

Following on from my last article on the Octopods in P’o-lu, I thought I would attempt a brief look at Taliessin’s Song of the Unicorn, to see if we can make any interpretations of its symbolism in a traditional vein. While the answer may get very abstract and philosophical, the question I have to ask [...]

Why are there ‘Octopods’ in P’o-lu?

Any readers of this blog unfamiliar with Charles Williams’ Taliessin poems will have to forgive this rather absurd-sounding question, and may pass over the answers given here. But, really, why are there octopods in P’o-lu? The reason, I believe, is linked to Williams’ use of the Zodiac. The octopus corresponds to the house of Cancer, [...]

Symbolism Refutes Perennialism

What is the place of symbolism in Orthodoxy? How do we make good use of this “traditional science”, as thinkers like Guénon describe it? In this brief article, I mean to touch on some of the key distinctions between a Christian and a perennialist understanding of symbolism. Joseph P. Farrell, in his magnum opus God, [...]

Owen Barfield’s ‘Poetic Diction’ – Psyche and Soma Unified?

I have lately discovered Owen Barfield’s deeply fascinating book, Poetic Diction. Barfield is perhaps known to most as one of the tangential members of the Inklings, a loose society of writers operating in and around Oxford in the mid-20th century. A lifelong friend of C.S. Lewis, Barfield was a key influence on the former’s coming [...]