Suggested Reading

Below is a list of suggested reading to help you expand your knowledge of the conference themes. We extend our thanks to Leonard George on his assistance in compiling this list. None of the reading is required.

The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies
by Thomas McEvilley
This unparalleled study of early Eastern and Western philosophy challenges every existing belief about the foundations of Western civilization. Spanning thirty years of intensive research, this book proves what many scholars could not explain: that today’s Western world must be considered the product of both Greek and Indian thought—Western and Eastern philosophies.

The Traveler's Key to Ancient Greece, New Edition: A Guide to Sacred Places
by Richard Geldard
Geldard, who has authored several volumes on Emersonian philosophy and whose doctorate from Stanford is a combined degree in Classics and Drama, has compiled a massive and comprehensive guide equipped with helpful maps, diagrams and drawings to Greece's many archaeological sites. First, he provides a historical background of the area, dating back to the hunters and gatherers, and explains Greek religion, architecture and mathematics. He then takes the reader to the various sites, dividing them into the palace cultures, the temple cultures, and the lesser palace and temple sites, with detailed descriptions of such places as Knossos, Phaestos, Delphi, Olympia and Athens.

Time Stands Still: New Light on Megalithic Science (Paperback)
by Keith Critchlow (Author), Rod Bull (Photographer)
Keith Critchlow, an internationally-renowned scholar, has studied a wide range of Neolithic artifacts. In Time Stands Still, he adopts a technique of cross-cultural comparison to uncover some previously unknown characteristics of the Neolithic peoples. Critchlow uses ancient manuals on temple building from Indian Vedic sources, for example, and applies them to British sites, with fascinating results. He examines Chinese pictographs for evidence of sighting instruments and scientific tools. And, perhaps most significantly, he offers evidence that carved stone spheres having regular mathematical symmetries in Scotland predate Plato's writings on geometric figures by more than a thousand years. The findings contained in this remarkable and groundbreaking book will awaken a renewed sense of wonder for our ancient human past.

The Golden Section: Nature's Greatest Secret
by Scott Olsen
A concise and useful handbook on the Golden Section—also known as the Golden Ratio and Golden Mean. The Golden Section is a line segment divided into two parts, such that the ratio of the short portion to the longer portion is equal to the ratio of the longer portion to the whole. It is one of the most elegant and beautiful ratios of the mathematical universe because of its combination of elegance and simplicity—hence the divine nature of its name. Drawing on art, architecture, philosophy, nature, mathematics, geometry and music—and beautifully illustrated in the Wooden Books fashion with all manner of images—The Golden Section will tell the story of this remarkable construct and its wide-ranging impact on civilization and the natural world.

 
The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History
by Mircea Eliade
This founding work of the history of religions, first published in English in 1954, secured the North American reputation of the Romanian émigré-scholar Mircea Eliade (1907-1986). Making reference to an astonishing number of cultures and drawing on scholarship published in no less than half a dozen European languages, Eliade's The Myth of the Eternal Return makes both intelligible and compelling the religious expressions and activities of a wide variety of archaic and "primitive" religious cultures. While acknowledging that a return to the "archaic" is no longer possible, Eliade passionately insists on the value of understanding this view in order to enrich our contemporary imagination of what it is to be human. Jonathan Z. Smith's new introduction provides the contextual background to the book and presents a critical outline of Eliade's argument in a way that encourages readers to engage in an informed conversation with this classic text.

The Western Esoteric Traditions: A Historical Introduction
by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke
Soon to be released by Oxford University Press.

G. R. S. Mead and the Gnostic Quest
by Clare Goodrick-Clarke
A new entry in the Western Masters Series of concise biographies noting key figures in the Western esoteric tradition, G.R.S. Mead and the Gnostic Quest introduces Mead's life, works, and influences, combining a substantial biography with a collection of his most important writings.

An Endless Trace
The Passionate Pursuit of Wisdom in the West
by Christopher Bamford, Introduction by Philip Zaleski
Two powerful motives weave beneath the surface of our spiritual history: the desire to know and the desire to love. The secret history of the West is the story of saints, mystics, alchemists, poets, and philosophers trying to unite these two streams and celebrate—in the world and in their own persons—the sacred marriage of Logos and Sophia, Word and Wisdom. This book, an impressionistic history of the Western spiritual tradition, follows the traces—from ancient Greece into modern times—of those who sought to know the world and themselves, while realizing that they must overcome themselves to love the world and one another. To purchase and for more information please click here

Wonders of the World
Ordeals of the Soul, Revelations of the Spirit
10 lectures, Munich, Aug. 18-27, 1911 (GA129)
by Rudolf Steiner
In their everyday life, the ancient Greeks enjoyed a close association with the spiritual worlds. An indication of this is reflected in the ways that human passions and frailties were assigned by them to their gods. Today, people depend on intellectual, rational knowledge and have lost that link to spirit. In these lectures, Rudolf Steiner discusses the Eleusinian and Dionysian Mysteries and shows how that living reality of the spiritual worlds can be reawakened through our modern viewpoint by cultivating spiritual science. With this approach, we can once again, like our predecessors, glimpse the same living beings behind the figures of Greek mythology. For more information and to purchase please click here.

Zorba the Greek
by Nikos Kazantzakis
Novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, published in Greek in 1946 as Vios kai politia tou Alexi Zormpa. The unnamed narrator is a scholarly, introspective writer who opens a coal mine on the fertile island of Crete. He is gradually drawn out of his ascetic shell by an elderly employee named Zorba, an ebullient man who revels in the social pleasures of eating, drinking and dancing. The narrator's reentry into a life of experience is completed when his newfound lover, the village widow, is ritually murdered by a jealous mob.

Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic: Empedocles and Pythagorean Tradition
by Peter Kingsley
Empedocles played a crucial role in the development of western culture; yet little is known or understood about this man, who lived in Sicily in the fifth-century BC. This is mainly because his teaching has been reconstructed by modern scholars first and foremost on the basis of Aristotle's hostile reports—producing a picture which is disconnected and lacking in depth. Using material never exploited before, Peter Kingsley presents the first full-scale study of Empedocles to situate his fragmentary writings in their original context of philosophy as a way of life, mystery religion and magic, and of the struggle to realize one's own divinity.

Plato: Timaeus
by Plato (Author), Peter Kalkavage (Translator)
A new translation in the Focus Philosophical Library series, with notes and introduction material, glossary and apppendix. Timaeus is a theoretical treatise of Plato in the form of a Socratic dialogue, written circa 360 BCE. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world.

The Symposium
by Plato (Author), Christopher Gill (Editor, Introduction, Translator)
The Symposium is a philosophical dialogue written by Plato sometime after 385 BCE. It is a discussion on the nature of love, taking the form of a series of speeches, both satirical and serious, given by a group of men at a symposium at the house of the tragedian Agathon at Athens.

Ancient Mystery Cults (Carl Newell Jackson Lectures)
by Walter Burkert
The foremost historian of Greek religion provides the first comprehensive, comparative study of a little-known aspect of ancient religious beliefs and practices. Secret mystery cults flourished within the larger culture of the public religion of Greece and Rome for roughly a thousand years. This book is neither a history nor a survey but a comparative phenomenology concentrating on five major cults. In defining the mysteries and describing their rituals, membership, organization, and dissemination, Walter Burkert displays the remarkable erudition we have come to expect of him; he also shows sensitivity and sympathy in interpreting the experiences and motivations of the devotees.

Iamblichus: De Mysteriis (Writings from the Greco-Roman World, V. 4.)
by Emma C. Clarke (Author), John M. Dillon (Author), N. Festa Iamblichus (Author), Jackson P. Hershbell (Translator)
The need for a new English version of Iamblichus’s De mysteriis, an important attempt to give Neoplatonic theurgy a philosophical basis, has been a pressing issue for many years. This distinguished and reliable new translation by the team of Clarke, Dillon and Hershbell, based on the excellent Budé text of Des Places, is a very careful and idiomatic rendition of the original and will certainly remain the standard and authoritative edition for years to come. Each page of the translation faces the corresponding page of the critical Greek text of Des Places. The book includes an important introduction and many helpful textual annotations.

The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library: An Anthology of Ancient Writings Which Relate to Pythagoras and Pythagorean Philosophy
by Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie
Pythagoras (fl. 500 BCE), the first man to call himself a philosopher or lover of wisdom, was both a brilliant mathematician and spiritual teacher. This anthology, the largest collection of Pythagorean writings ever to appear in the English language, contains the four ancient biographies of Pythagoras and over 25 Pythagorean and Neopythagorean writings from the Classical and Hellenistic periods.

What Is Ancient Philosophy?
by Pierre Hadot (Author), Michael Chase (Translator)
A prominent historian of ancient thought, Pierre Hadot (Philosophy as a Way of Life) revisits the work of Plato, Aristotle, the Hellenistic schools and the philosophical schools of imperial Rome in What Is Ancient Philosophy? He provides an overview of the evolution of ancient thought, focusing particularly on the role of philosophical theory in the lives of the thinkers.

God Against The Gods, The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism
by Jonathan Kirsch
Today the dominant religions in the world are monotheistic: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. At one time, though, the dominant religions in the world were polytheistic and only Hinduism remains to carry on any sort of explicitly polytheistic tradition. How did this dramatic shift occur and what has it meant for western culture?

Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus
by Gregory Shaw
Theurgy and the Soul is a study of Iamblichus of Syria (ca. 240-325), whose teachings set the final form of pagan spirituality prior to the Christianization of the Roman Empire. Gregory Shaw focuses on the theory and practice of theurgy (divine action), the most controversial and significant aspect of Iamblichus's Platonism.

The Spiritual Quest: Transcendence in Myth, Religion, and Science
by Robert M. Torrance
The Spiritual Quest is scholar Robert Torrance's elaboration of his theory that the impulse to seek higher spiritual levels is intrinsic to human nature, and is even the defining component of humanity. Drawing on shamanic traditions around the world, he counters strict materialist notions of human nature with sophisticated arguments from anthropology, philosophy and linguistics. Poet Gary Snyder calls it a "marvelous view."

 

DVDs / Video

The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization
The empire built by the Greeks in the fourth and fifth centuries, BCE, is perhaps one of the most breathtaking ever built. Not just a work of art and genius, the empire laid the foundation for modern science, politics, warfare and philosophy. Come along and recount the rise and fall of the legacy of an empire that marked the dawning of the great Western civilization—the grandeur of the great philosophers, the magnificence of the architecture, the appeal of the great heroes. It's classical Greece like you've never seen! "Birth of Democracy" takes you to ancient Athens where Athenians struggle against tyrants ... "Golden Age" replays the heroic victory over the Persian empire and tells of the startling Greek transformation ... and "Collapse of Confidence" reveals the downfall of a glorious empire through the eyes of Socrates.
LENGTH: 3 hours on 2 videos
Note: This can be purchased through PBS

The Temple of Poseidon
SOUNION
With maps, drawings, reconstructions
A film by Paulos Pissanos
The history of the temple from Ancient Times to the present day. The God Poseidon, the construction of the temple, the male youth statues, the fortress, the Propylon, the Barracks, the citizens' houses, the Naval Shipyard, the shrine of Athena. The manners and customs of that era presented in lively narrative. For more information please click here

Eleusis
THE SANCTUARY OF DEMETRA
With maps, drawings, reconstructions
A film by Paulos Pissanos
Experience the myth and the history... Experience the site of the Eleusinian mysteries with its shrine, Pluto, the Temple of Artemis, the sacrificial pyre, the small and the large Gate, the Sombre Stone ...
The entire history of the shrine from the 6th century BCE to the Roman period. Descriptions of finds including the courtyard of Peisistratus, the Soloneion, the Kimoneion, the Pericleian and the metaPericleian-Roman shrine. Experience the unique, unrivalled sacred site of Eleusina. For more information please click here

 

Online Articles

Mystery Centres
LECTURE XII
The Mysteries of the Samothracian Kabiri
Dornach, 21st December, 1923
by Rudolf Steiner

Mystery Centres
LECTURE VI
Mysteries of Ephesus
Dornach, December 2nd, 1923.
by Rudolph Steiner

The Teachings of Iamblichus: Between Eros and Anteros
by Leonard George
Among the dying oracles of late antiquity, a brilliant pagan philosopher, Iamblichus, emerged offering a religious and philosophical synthesis, the beauty of which echoes down to the present day.


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