It seems very strange that a year ago I had not even heard of Paul Sédir, despite my involvement in things esoteric, including the French, for more than sixty years. My Amazon account tells me that I bought a copy of a translation of his book Initiations in October 2013 and here we are in October 2014, with Skylight Press about to publish my own translation of this remarkable work. Which shows how impressed I was by it.
I decided to embark on my own translation because although I would not claim my own version to be faultless, the ones by Mouni Sadhu and by Mme Zadah-Guerin of some years ago have the kind of errors that are likely to beset someone not translating into their native tongue (for example anyone following a spiritual vocation being called a ‘spiritualist’) along with a certain stiltedness and some idiomatic misunderstanding. Nonetheless one remains very grateful for their pioneering efforts and I salute them for it. In the search for gold, they got there first!
Something of the importance of Sédir’s book is reflected in reviews of the previous translations. Thus:
I read this book first when I was 20. I have waited and looked on old sites for it for years. Finally I have the opportunity to re-read the book that I learned most from ever. As I re-read it, my heart expands with each word I read. It is profound, human and heart warming. It is a classic for anyone studying the yogic ways. [L.S. 9/2010]
God, this book really gets your head around what it takes you to find your Master. It takes you a lot of sacrifices into preparing yourself to earn that rare occurrence of grace. Every truth seeker is looking for “Theophane”, and only those who really deserve the honour – the Master will find. This book is so mystical in nature and it opens a lot of possibilities in your mind, confirming how much ignorance there is in the world, and what’s really going on in the spiritual world. [A.H.K. 10/2009]
In short, this is one of the greatest books on Western occultism and spiritual practice ever penned. It is tragic that this is the only one of Sédir’s books to have made it into English after more than a century. [P.S. 8/2012]
Although it may appear to be a work of fiction, there is (believe it or not!) more fact than fiction in it, as well as the four main characters portraying elements of the human psyche. The Doctor who is seeking occult knowledge and practice represents ordinary consciousness, Andreas is the higher self, Stella the intuition, and Theophane the divine spark at the centre of the human being. Yet it is by no means just an allegory. These are real and remarkable characters, and are based on real life characters. Each of whom, along with some of the astounding esoteric theories and practices described, can have a powerful impact upon the reader. Anyway, you have been warned. Don’t expect to come out of reading it completely unchanged!!