The Mystery Traditions: Secret Symbols and Sacred Art

Excerpts & Samples

By James Wasserman

Publisher : Inner Traditions/Bear & Company

ABOUT James Wasserman

James Wasserman
James Wasserman is the author of the bestselling Templars and Assassins: The Militia of Heaven and The Slaves Shall Serve: Meditations on Liberty. He is a longtime student of the occult sciences and lives in New York City. Visit the author's web site at



A beautifully illustrated lexicon of the major symbology of the great esoteric traditions

• Includes a new chapter on secret societies and their role in safeguarding and transmitting of esoteric knowledge

• Includes a full-color reproduction of the medieval alchemical masterpiece Splendor Solis

Symbol in the esoteric sense is not to be confused with allegory; symbolic images are the alphabet of the "theory of correspondences" that underlies all the Mystery traditions of the West. This theory recognizes the interdependent relationship of all things and provides, for example, the basis of the belief that the position of the stars in the heavens will influence our thought, emotion, and perception. It also explains how the alchemist’s work with base metals will result in a transformation of his own consciousness.

In The Mystery Traditions James Wasserman offers a full-color lexicon of occult imagery drawn from the Kabbalah and tarot as well as the traditions of magic, alchemy, and astrology, accompanied by commentary on each image’s significance and the wisdom teachings from which it derives. In this new edition he also looks at the pivotal role played by secret societies in safeguarding and transmitting these teachings and presents rarely seen artifacts of these societies. Among the splendid offerings in this collection are all 22 paintings of the medieval alchemical masterpiece Splendor Solis in full color and works by significant artists and esoteric thinkers such as Leonardo da Vinci, Robert Fludd, Austin Osman Spare, Harry Smith, Manly P. Hall, and Raymond Lull. This book provides an excellent introduction to the timeless and hidden dimensions of occult practice. An extensive bibliography of classical occult works also complements this unique collection.

"Within this book, in vivid color, are the sacred colors, shapes and symbols of the Western Mystery Tradition. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the wisdom contained herein is infinite. As a reference book for symbols and sacred art, as a gateway into the Western Mystery Tradition, or simply as a pleasant read, this book is well worth adding to your library. You will turn to it again and again, and walk away pleased each and every time."
Bonnie Cehovet,, April 2006

"This is a beautifully illustrated book, and the text matches the illustrations in its honesty and approach. Highly recommended."
Lee Prosser,, May 2006

"This is a fabulous volume of insightful prose, and images that stir the soul. If you already have the previous edition it is worth taking the time to examine this new edition as well, if you own neither, you will enjoy adding it to your collection."
Mark Stavish, Institute for Hermetic Studies, June 2006

“This is one of the most visually stunning works I have seen in a very long time. I would have expected a much higher price for the quality, or a much lower quality based on the price. The combination of excellent quality and reasonable price was a very pleasant surprise. If you are interested in symbolic representations of mystical themes, this book belongs in your library. It is a book to be savored and enjoyed on an on-going basis.”
Mike Gleason, Witchgrove, March 2007