Tuesday, 5 April 2016


Weiser edition cover

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The Zelator: A Modern Initiate Explores the Ancient Mysteries, by Mark Hedsel, edited by David Ovason, is a spiritual autobiography relating one man's travels through much of Western and some Eastern esoteric teaching. This style of free, individual searching is called the Way of the Fool in the book.
The Zelator is a rich commentary on representations of esoteric principles in art, tradition, architecture, living schools and much more. At one point Hedsel discusses his studies in Paris, probably under George Gurdjieff, although the latter is not specifically named.
The book is very well sourced, with extensive appendices and references. This is an excellent source for an overview of Western esoteric tradition.

See also

The following pages explore concepts and contain quotes from this work:

The Fool is an important archetype in esoteric lore. We see the Fool in places from the tarot deck to medieval feasts to medieval art and literature and treatises of alchemy.
Mark Hedsel discusses this concept in his book The Zelator. Specifically, the Way of the Fool is an independent path of initiation where the student can at different times study under many masters but will not make any lifelong commitment to any one path nor enter into vows of secrecy.
The following excerpts from The Zelator may shed light on the spirit of this way:
"The Way of the Fool is no easy way, for it involves a balancing act, in which the Fool may stumble and become a fool. It is a cunning way, a way of strange knowledge. It is 'the Way that Is Not a Way' - 'the Way that Cannot Be Named'. Such titles alone should alert us to the ignorance of this Way, save among esotericists. Perhaps, when the ecclesiastical authorities attempted to root out the Festum Fatuoruin - the Feast of Fools, in the 15th century, they succeeded in driving underground any esoteric groups linked with the Way of the Fool.
"And what is the result of such a journey? The result is a wise Fool. A fool is the one who gives up everything for an idea. The wise Fool is the one who knows that he never had anything to give up in the first place. Is that foolish?"
The old man has committed himself. He has made a stand. Life has made him do that. He has drawn a circle around himself, and said, "This is where I stand, this is what I must do." He has committed himself to an action. Because he has drawn a circle around himself, others can see where he stands. He can be attacked by others, His position is weak. Those who have not committed themselves can mock, if they are so inclined. This is the age-old battle between youth and age. The one who has committed himself appears to be in a weak position. Yet the Spiritual truth is quite otherwise. It is the one who accepts commitment who is strong.
Creativity is the giving away of Spiritual energy. Creativity is the soul in the expenditure of a bottomless purse. One gives sulphur away - initially perhaps through an excess of joy - for that is the foolishness of young men. Later, one gives away energy through commitment to an idea.
Let me tell that Fools like myself become Teachers, because we find suddenly that there is no one else. It is as simple as that. One day, you are wandering through Florence, after a day in the libraries, surrounded by books. You are carrying under your arm further books, to pursue further dreams. You see a young child playing with a ball near the Baptistery. His mother stands some way off. She is paying no attention to the child. She has a cigarette dangling from her mouth. You can tell a great deal about that woman, and about the future of her child. Suddenly, there is an illumination. You realize how great is the gulf between yourself and those others. There is a curtain between you. You understand that this curtain is good for neither of you. The house out there is burning. You can see the flames, but those others cannot see the flames. All you have learned from those books, and from those conversations with wise men, from all those meditations, is to see the flames.
Now the question is, can you leave those people in the flames? Would it not be the act of a Fool to snatch one, or perhaps two, out of the conflagration?' 'If that is what they want.' 'They cannot see the flames, but they do not wish to be burned. You see, my friend, you are an alchemist. You know that there are two sorts of flame. There is the soft and slow flame of the inner heat, and that terrible burning flame which consumes, and which feels no human pain. Both are the flames of burning sulphur, but they produce very different results."


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