After almost 2 years it is time for a new conference organised by ESSWE, the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism, this time in Riga, Latvia. This year seems to be particularly interesting for those interested in the scholarly study o Traditionalism. With the theme of the conference being on the interactions between East and West, I will be focusing on Reghini and Evola’s reception of Eastern spirituality. Recent studies conducted for a chapter in my thesis have yielded surprising results, and a commitment to Theosophy on behalf of Reghini, which had previously been maybe too hastily analysed by biographers Sestito and Di Luca. Regarding Evola, the links are all too evident and I will just briefly summarise his activity as a translator, his correspondence with Sir John Woodroffe/Arthur Avalon (1865-1936) and his main theories on how to adapt Eastern lore to the Western world. The title of the paper is ‘“Ex Oriente Lux/Ex Occidente Lex”: The Reception of Oriental Forms of Spirituality in the Traditionalist Ideas of Arturo Reghini (1878-1946) and Julius Evola (1898-1974)’.
Other than my paper, I’ll definitely be on the lookout for two papers on Ivan Agueli/’Abd al-Hādī ‘Aqīlī (1869-1917), Peter Olsson’s (University of Gothenburg) ‘Painting the East on the canvas of the West: Ivan Aguéli as an interlock between Traditions’ and Carl Karlson-Weimann’s (University of Amsterdam) ‘A Swedish Oriental: The esoteric evolution of Ivan Aguéli’.
Additionally, Laurent Mignon (University Of Oxford) will be presenting a paper titled ‘Rene Guenon In Turkey’ and Professor Mark Sedgwick (Aarhus University) will be discussing ‘Transregional Sufism and Western Esotericism in the Contemporary Period’.
All in all, a successful presence of Traditionalist themes, and a proof that the academic study of Traditionalism is finally gaining the recognition and respectability it was maybe lacking in the past years. I’ll close this post with my abstract for the paper and with the promise that I will be more active on this blog, starting with a report of the upcoming conference.
“Ex Oriente Lux/Ex Occidente Lex”: The Reception of Oriental Forms of Spirituality in the Traditionalist Ideas of Arturo Reghini (1878-1946) and Julius Evola (1898-1974).
During the first decades of the Twentieth century, Italy, as many other European countries, witnessed an increase in the attention devoted to Oriental spirituality.
Giuseppe Tucci (1894-1984), considered by many to be a pioneering figure in Buddhist studies, travelled widely in Tibet, India and China and taught Oriental languages at Rome’s Sapienza University. The East had also come to the forefront in Occultism, thanks to the presence of Theosophical lodges nationwide and to the efforts of individuals, such as Leone Caetani (1869-1935), one of the country’s greatest experts on Islam.
My paper will concentrate on two figures as examples of the reaction to the Occidentalism/Orientalism debate within the Italian Traditionalist milieu: Arturo Reghini and Julius Evola. Both heavily influenced by the founder of Twentieth century Traditionalism René Guénon (1886-1951), while Reghini auspicated the resurgence of a Western form of initiatory knowledge within masonic and occultist circles, Evola delved deep into Eastern studies, translating Arthur Avalon’s (1865-1936) publications and being inspired by doctrines such as yoga and tantra.
Thus, by choosing two members of the Italian Traditionalist milieu, and describing their different approaches to the doctrines coming from the Orient, it is my aim to depict the exceptionally varied manifestations of the reception of Eastern lore in the West.