Meditations on the Peaks
Meditazioni delle Vette (translated as Meditations on the Peaks: Mountain Climbing as Metaphor for the Spiritual Quest) is a work by Italian esoteric writer Julius Evola. A collection of articles from between 1930 and 1955 as assembled by Renato del Ponte. Published in 1974 by La Spezia: Ed. del Tridente; English translation by Inner Traditions, 1998 (ISBN 0922915415).
Julius Evola considered mountaineering to be an initiatic discipline consistent with his ideas on Traditionalism. In the first chapter of Meditations on the Peaks, Evola contrasts mountaineering with generic "sport" and the scholarly life. He claims that mountaineering, when performed correctly, combines the aspects of heroic action of sport with the discipline and specialized learning of the scholar. This combination of action and learning forms for Evola a sort of ideal ascesis or discipline "in the Roman sense" because it combines an asceticism of action with an asceticism of contemplation.
Evola also explores the significance of mountains to ancient mythologies. Mountains were the seats of the gods in Norse, Greek and Iranian mythologies. Legendary heroes were often required to climb mountains as a symbolic and heroic act in order to achieve the goals of their quests. The mountain is so important because it has a special spiritual significance in that it is "higher" and closer to nature and to the gods. For his description of the importance of the mountain, Evola turns time and again to a quote from Nietzsche, "Many meters above sea level--but how many more above ordinary men!"
The second half of the book is concerned primarily with Evola's descriptions of his own experiences climbing a number of mountains. He describes the perilous circumstances of a number of climbs and both the camaraderie and the solitude he experienced on the peaks.
In the appendices, Evola discusses Nicholas Roerich, an artist whose depictions of mountain scenes Evola finds to be of a spiritual significance. He also discusses religious traditions relating to the mountains in Tibet and Tyrol and their significance to broader tradition. The collection ends with a short essay, "Height", discussing the various ways that distinctions in height are used to connote "higher" spiritual states.
Table of contents
- Part One: Doctrine
- The Mountain and Spirituality
- Some Remarks Concerning the Divinity of the Mountains
- Spirituality of the Mountain
- A Mystic of the Tibetan Mountains
- Race and the Mountain
- The Mountain, Sport, and Contemplation
- Ascending and Descending
Part Two: Experiences
- 8. The Northern Wall of Eastern Lyskamm
- 9. Notes Concerning Psychic Training in the Mountains
- 10. The Ascent of Mount Langkopfel
- 11. Ice and the Spirit
- 12. The Valley of the Wind
- 13. The Ascent of Mount Gross-Glockner
- 14. Meditations on the Peaks
- 15. A Storm on Mount Rosa
Part Three: Appendices""
- Appendix A. An Artist of the Heights: Nicholas Roerich
- Appendix B. Art and Symbol in the Seat of the Snows
- Appendix C. Religiosity of Tyrol
- Appendix D. The Kingdom of the Demon of the Peaks
- Appendix E. Height