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The Golden Thread: The Ageless Wisdom of the Western Mystery Traditions Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Quest Books (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0835608603
  • ISBN-13: 978-0835608602
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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These and other questions are hinted at, but not adequately explored.
Stephen J. Triesch
Clear, concise, witty, and insightful, it is written with academic rigor while in a style that is flowing and captivating.
Mark Stavish, The Institute for Hermetic Studies
Put me in touch with esoteric approach to music from all different religions.
Jacob

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 51 people found the following review helpful By oc9399 on March 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
My first encounter with Joscelyn Godwin's work occurred about 10 years ago while leafing through an issue of the journal Rûna. Godwin's article, "Polar and Solar Symbolism", profoundly opened me to an esoteric school of thought that captivates my mind to this very day. Since then, I have read a handful of his other works, including the truly astounding Arktos which provided a foundation for further philosophical and spiritual inquiry. Henceforth, it continues with his latest book, The Golden Thread. For those who are unfamiliar with Godwin, this latest offering is as good a place to start as any. In fact, it may be his most accessible work to date.

The Golden Thread opens with an informative and insightful Foreword courtesy of Richard Smoley, followed by Godwin's Preface which explains the terms `esoteric' and `exoteric'. Although this book provides a linear history of numerous prophets, priest-kings, and philosophers, the esoteric current underlying their teachings is the gist of this book. Additionally, Chapter 1, "The Prisca Thelogia" (the primordial theology) crucially lays the foundation upon which the subsequent material rests.

Godwin covers a staggering amount of material in the first part of The Golden Thread that can be a bit overwhelming at times. Even so, his coverage of renowned philosophers Pythagoras and Plato (each of whom an entire chapter is devoted) is quite fascinating and highlights their larger-than-life personalities and landmark work in the fields of music, mathematics, astronomy, and politics. Godwin also discusses contemporary figures such as Carl Jung, including some critical remarks regarding Erich von Dänkien's enormously popular but mundane pulps on "gods from outer space.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Golden Thread is a lightning tour of the Western esoteric tradition, by one of the world's foremost scholars of esotericism. Crammed with invaluable footnotes, this slim book packs a punch far beyond its meagre size - it's simply chock full of interesting insights.

Basically, The Golden Thread is about wisdom; a wisdom that has survived only as a thin (and infinitely precious) thread - hence the title. This golden thread in fact gave birth to modern science, but 'science' in its contemporary sense has come to mean only knowledge 'about' something...whereas true wisdom comes from experiencing something. As C.G. Jung observed, "belief is no substitute for inner experience."

Richard Smoley notes in his foreword that "the fate of wisdom in the West has been an unusually dark one." This has been partly on account of Christianity (with its totalitarian mental outlook), and partly because of the pseudo-religion of scientific materialism, which "denies any reality other than the purely physical and mechanical." Materialism acknowledges only quantity - that which can be measured or counted.

Each chaper of this book looks at a different aspect of the golden thread. As the author notes in his preface, "each stage is perpetually present," and thus each chapter "makes reference to some aspect of contemporary life." But esotericisms are not for everyone...they are only for "those with sufficient interest, motivation, and capacity to benefit from them." Today, most of these people have become "lonely travellers among the ruined monuments of ancient mysteries. This book is offered by one such traveller, for the guidance and entertainment of others." And as such, it fulfills its stated purpose rather well.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Mark Stavish, The Institute for Hermetic Studies on September 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Golden Thread by Joscelyn Godwin is one of the best introductions to the Western mystery traditions available. Clear, concise, witty, and insightful, it is written with academic rigor while in a style that is flowing and captivating. Dr. Godwin has managed to present to the reader the essential elements of the various streams of Western esotericism in a living and dynamic nature, taking the reader from the early Hermetic and Gnostic periods to the present day. Those unfamiliar with Godwin's work will find this a delightful and informative introduction; those already familiar with this living giant - a genuine Renaissance man in his own right - will find the highest quality of thought and warmth of appreciation for the material that they have come to expect.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Fuller on December 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
In modern Western society, we take it for granted what is real lies outside ourselves and is objective, substantial. Highlighted by Plato, however, the 'Real' was subjective and consisted of ideas...the world then emanated from Mind. Living in Alice's Wonderland, us Westerns have lost grasp of this vital Truth and have spent centuries chasing various rabbits down various holes. Comical. Beginning with Orpheus, Godwin traces this perennial philosophy through such luminaries as Pythagoras and Plato, highlighting how each added their own nuances to the Idealistic Philosophy. A wonderful read for anyone seeking a good introduction to Platonic philosophy and before, as well as for those with more esoteric interests.
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Stephen J. Triesch on October 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
In "The Hidden Thread," author Joscelyn Godwin provides a brief history of the various facets that comprise the so-called Western Mystery Tradition. Godwin traces the tradition back to its origins in Egypt, the Platonists, and the ancient mystery schools, then on through the rise of Christianity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and into modern times.

There are chapters on Pythagorus, the Gothic cathedrals, the "negative" mystics of Christianity, the alchemists, the Romantics, the theosophists, the influence of Eastern religions in the West, and the New Age movement, among other topics. (The Kabbalists and the Sufis are not given quite enough attention, in my opinion.)

Godwin has given us a book that is wide-ranging, yet somewhat skimpy. Godwin thus makes a number of interesting observations, yet typically fails to explore their implications in any depth. She points out a number of intellectual dilemmas, e.g., the perceived conflict between science and mysticism, and suggests that the Western Mystery Tradition might be the solution to those dilemmas, but does not spell out exactly how or why.

As a general introduction to the Western Mystery Tradition, I think "The Golden Thread" falls short of efforts such as "Hidden Wisdom," by Richard Smoley and Jay Kinney.

Godwin does not explore some key questions with sufficient depth. What is alive and what is dead in the Western Mystery Tradition (WMT)? Is it possible that the WMT can ever revivify Christianity in any of its forms? What would such a Christianity look like? Is the WMT to be forever the province of the solitary practitioner? (Godwin seems to answer "yes" to that question.) Is it possible that a future Western civilization will be based on the esoteric principles of the WMT?
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