A Review of Chapter Three of ‘Mysticism in the 21st Century’
° Monette, Connell. Mysticism in the 21st Century, Sirius Academic Press, 2013. ISBN 9781940964003
Written by Professor Monette of Al Akhawayn University in Morocco as an introduction to modern mysticism for university students, the book contains a chapter, sub-divided into sections, devoted to the Order of Nine Angles. The chapter, of some thirty-five pages, presents a reasoned, informative, and fairly comprehensive, overview of the O9A, and – perhaps most importantly – adds to the sparse academic literature about the Order of Nine Angles.
In several areas, Monette breaks new ground. For instance, in regard to the structure and demographics of the O9A; in providing references to ancient Indic and Arabic sources for the term ‘nine angles’; in explaining that the O9A “has incorporated increasing amounts of hermetic lore, alchemical texts and terminology that are clearly from medieval Indian and Islamic esoteric sources”, and in writing that “a critical examination of the ONA’s key texts suggests that the satanic overtones could be cosmetic, and that its core mythos and cosmology are genuinely hermetic, with pagan influences.” Monette backs up this suggestion of his by describing the seven fold way as “the core mystical tradition of the ONA”, which he says is:
“essentially a hermetic system that defines itself as being deeply rooted in Western occultism, and provides a path to ascension that is exceptionally difficult in physical and psychic terms. The seven stages of the Way are (1) Neophyte, (2) Initiate, (3) External Adept, (4) Internal Adept, (5) Master/Mistress, (6) Grand Master/Mousa and (7) Immortal. Yet unlike other degree-based systems, the ONA does not offer initiation to its students; rather, the students must initiate themselves through personal grade rituals and challenges […] Grade rituals (meaning the rituals of passage) for the fourth stage (Internal Adept) involve living in complete isolation for at least one season, as well as being able to cycle, run, and hike considerable distances. Each grade thereafter requires increasingly difficult challenges, culminating in the 5th grade (Master) with the mystic having to undertake physical challenges comparable to a triathlon, as well as having developed/learned several esoteric skills along the way. One of the most challenging aspects of the Seven Fold Way is the insistence on learning through adversity, known in Greek as pathei-mathos.”
Monette concludes his overview of the O9A by writing:
“Today, the ONA can be considered one of the most prominent Left Hand Path groups by virtue of its public presence, evidenced (e.g.) by its inclusion as a signature antagonist in the Nightingale novel series by bestselling British author Stephen Leather.”
There is, however, one part of the text that deserves a critical mention. This is the brief section, on page 93, dealing with the ‘Outer Representative’. According to O9A sources – q.v. the essay Outer Representatives – there is no longer an ‘outer representative’.
As with many printed books, there are a few typos – for example, on page 95 with ‘essential’ instead of ‘essentially’, and the missing word ‘sources’ after ‘Indian and Islamic esoteric’. There also seems to be an occasional minor discrepancy in dating, with the body of the text for instance mentioning the year 2012 when the footnotes referred to relate to letters from Anton Long written in 2011.
But, such minor caveats aside, the book is highly recommended for those interested in or curious about the O9A, not only for the O9A chapter but also because the other chapters, on other modern mystical movements and groups, place the O9A into the appropriate perspective: a modern hermetic and mystical – not satanic – tradition.
R. Parker, 2014
Update: According to the author, a second (revised & enlarged) edition of the book is scheduled for publication next year (2015) together with an Arabic edition of the book.