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Introduction to Magic, Volume II

The Path of Initiatic Wisdom

Foreword by Hans Thomas Hakl / Translated by Joscelyn Godwin
Published by Inner Traditions
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

Authentic initiatic practices, rituals, and wisdom collected by the UR Group

The “Gruppo di UR” was a group of Italian esotericists who collaborated from 1927 to 1929. The purpose of this group was to study and practice ancient rituals gleaned from the mystery traditions of the world, both East and West, in order to attain a state of superhuman consciousness and power to allow them to act magically on the world. They produced a monthly journal containing techniques for spiritual realization, accounts of personal experiences, translations of ancient texts, and original essays on esoteric topics. The group included a distinguished line-up of occultists, neo-pagans, freemasons, Anthroposophists, orientalists, poets, and members of high society. 

This volume, the second in the series, complements the first one, yet they are not strictly sequential, and their contents can be read in any order. Volume II shares authentic initiatic wisdom and a rigorous selection of initiatory exercises, including instructions for creating the diaphanous body of the Opus magicum, establishing initiatic consciousness after death, and the construction of magical chains (the enchained awareness of initiates). It offers studies of mystery traditions throughout history, presenting not only the principles themselves but also witnesses to them and their continual validity today.

This series shows that the “Magic” of the UR Group meant an active and affirmative attitude toward individual development, handed down from a “primordial tradition” and discernable in alchemy, Hermetism, esoteric religious doctrines, indigenous practices, Tantra, Taoism, Buddhism, Vedanta, and the pagan mysteries of the West.

Chapter II.1

Instructions for Magical Chains

The following instructions concern those students of esoteric science who, having found among themselves sufficient spiritual affinity and seriousness of intention, wish to organize a chain that will eventually be able to contact other chains, created on the same principles by other groups and in other places.

We presume that a chain set up in this manner has an essentially initiatic purpose. Thus above all else and any incidental intention, it aims to promote and develop realization of a spiritual type suitable to each member. Such a chain will be marked by particular types of activity, awareness, and individuality. In some kinds of chain the individuals are simply thrown together, and the polarity of masculine and feminine necessary for operations is not reflected harmoniously in every member. Instead, they separate into the opposition of the fluid, passive mass formed by the majority, and the active role of a leader. But in the type of chain proposed here, every member must distinctly and firmly possess self-awareness, control, and mastery: thus both aspects of the Hermetic complementarity. Each must participate in the chain as an individual, as a distinct force. The chain formed by such individuals will become compact and positive in every way when, through repeated meetings, the various distinct elements become attuned and form a unity.

Following this intention, every group will cohere by means of an essentially dynamic symbol such as the pentagram, which will be cast projectively, i.e. from right to left. The emissive way of drawing (from left to right) is limited to the symbol of the circle, to be drawn before the pentagram not so much for insulation as for accumulating the individuals’ energies.

For the same reason, unlike what might suit a purely ceremonial magic, one does not rely simply on the strength of the collective ritual and of quasi-automatic elements (ex opere operato). On the contrary, this requires that for a good while, both before and during the meetings, the members should work energetically on themselves, with their own energies, so that they can contribute actively to the firm structure of the chain.

We will begin by outlining the discipline that the members chosen by the group leaders must observe individually, uninterruptedly, with firmness, intelligence, and zeal. These are mostly exercises already described in the first volume of this collection, but which we will now organize as a daily program. One must persevere at them until one feels their result in an abandonment of the usual, lethargic attitude toward things and toward oneself, which is the chief obstacle to initiatic realization.


Aimed at the following goals:

1) Awakening a greater intelligence toward natural phenomena, so that the sense of life extends rhythmically beyond oneself. We will dwell for now on the basic phenomenon of the succession of day and night.

2) Training the mind in dynamic concentration, consisting in the tracing and projection of figures and symbols inside oneself.

3) Training the spirit in fixity.

4) Strengthening in the course of daily life the sense of the continuity and presence of oneself.

1) For the first point, practice the contemplations before sleeping and immediately on waking, with the symbols of the “sun” and the “mountain.” Where the outer light declines, the inner light arises. In the evening, before sleep, in a calm mood, not exhausted in body and especially not in mind (the habit of taking a bath before bed is a useful restorative), visualize a slow sunrise while you see and feel yourself climbing a mountain, up to an imaginary midday peak corresponding to the depth of night in the physical world. Then fix this idea: “I AM THE LIGHT.” Accustom yourself to sinking into sleep with the mind on the one idea of the nocturnal sun at its zenith, calmly refusing every other thought or image that may arise.

In the morning, free the mind from any residual sleepiness, then re-evoke the nocturnal sun at the zenith where you left it, and imagine that it is going down, while you yourself descend from the peak. The dawning of the physical sun and the awakening in the physical body mark the moment of return to this world of darkness, from which you took leave last night, with the nocturnal light. Nonetheless, evoke the sense of this nonphysical and invisible light, and while trying to retain it, say: “THE LIGHT IS IN ME.” Carry that as the very meaning of being awake, aware, and active as an individual among external things. Feel that the light in your own soul is stronger than the external light. This sense increases until midday, then declines in the evening, when you retreat from that battle position which is our life as humans, and reenter the world of light.

These contemplations must become alive. If not, they are fruitless. They should lead to an awareness of day and night; to a sort of subtle sensitivity to the various hours; to perceiving a rhythm in which the inner and the outer meet. Do not suppose that this demands a special kind of life removed from normal occupations. The purpose is all the better served when the discipline is not kept separate from those but succeeds in affirming itself in the thick of everyday life. No one, however busy during the day, lacks moments of pause when his thoughts wander at random or dwell on his concerns. These moments can be used instead for recollection to higher consciousness: for example, for feeling the present time of day and paying attention to the sense of the “hour,” to the degree of light of one’s own consciousness and one’s own energy.

A controversial philosopher and critic of modern Western civilization, Julius Evola (1898-1974) wrote widely on Eastern religions, alchemy, sexuality, politics, and mythology. Inner Traditions has published his Eros and the Mysteries of Love: The Metaphysics of Sex, The Yoga of Power, The Hermetic Tradition, Revolt Against the Modern World, The Mystery of the Grail and Ride The Tiger.

“The formulas that Evola transmits, and the complex listing of the causes and effects that accompany them, seem to me so important, not only for spiritual life but for the use of all the faculties, that I know of no human condition that they cannot improve, whether in the case of the man of action, of the writer, or simply the person in the toils of life.”

– Marguerite Yourcenar (1903-1987), author of Memoirs of Hadrian

“A dazzling and interesting, but very dangerous, author . . .”

– Hermann Hesse, author of Siddhartha

“One of the most difficult and ambiguous figures in modern esotericism.”

– Richard Smoley, author of The Deal: A Guide to Radical and Complete Forgiveness

Eros and the Mysteries of Love invokes the rich sexual symbolism of religious myths and mysteries throughout history, from the I Ching to the Kabbalah, to illustrate the redemptive power of the sexual act.”

– Los Angeles Times

Introduction to Magic, vol. I, 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, author of Egregores and founder of the Institute for Hermetic Studies

“The collection of essays in Introduction to Magic, vol. I . . . 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

Revolt Against the Modern World is destined to remain an essential work and frame-of-reference for anyone seriously involved in native European spirituality.”

– Michael Moynihan, coauthor of Lords of Chaos

“Disgusted by the cruelty and artificiality of communism, scorning the dogmatic, self-centered fascism of his age, Evola looks beyond man-made systems in Men Among the Ruins to the eternal principles in creation and human society. The truth, as he sees it, is so totally at odds with the present way of thinking that it shocks the modern mind. Evola was no politician, trying to make the best of things, but an idealist, uncompromising in the pursuit of the best itself.”

– John Michell, author of The Dimensions of Paradise

“Men Among the Ruins is Julius Evola’s most notorious work: an unsparing indictment of modern society and politics. This book is not a work for complacent, self-satisfied minds . . . it is a shocking and humbling text that will be either loved or hated. Evola’s enemies cannot refute him; they can only ignore him. They do so at their peril.”

– Glenn A. Magee, author of Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition

“In Ride the Tiger Evola shows, unintentionally but with passion, why European Tradition may not be able to match East Asia in riding the tiger in today’s world. It lacks a spirituality for today’s mundane world, tempered by the harsh realism of Daoism and the practical disciplines of Confucianism.”

– New Dawn Magazine

“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: A Journal of the Western Inner Traditions

"An impressively informative and exceptionally well organized and impressive study, Introduction to Magic: The Path of Initiatic Wisdom is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections. Also very highly recommended is Julius Evola's Introduction to Magic: Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus, which is volume one of this outstanding two volume body of work."

– Julie Summers, Midwest Book Review

"An impressively informative and exceptionally well organized and impressive study, Introduction to Magic: The Path of Initiatic Wisdom is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections. Also very highly recommended is Julius Evola's Introduction to Magic: Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus, which is volume one of this outstanding two volume body of work."

– Julie Summers, Midwest Book Review

“Evola offers real information about initiatic traditions. The information he presents resonates credibly with my accumulated knowledge from other sources and from my personal experience. From Pythagoras, through Christian Mysticism, Hinduism, and Hermeticism, Evola spells out the roots of traditions that spawned currently-popular “New Age” practices. Essentially, he is telling readers how to elevate “astral” curiosity into spiritual growth that transcends the boundaries of the physical plane from generation to generation.”

– Anna,