Traditionally, the mountains are from whence wisdom is found and dispensed, the homes of the gods, places we look up to for aspiration and inspiration. Yet there is another direction emanating insight, which involves a katabasis, from the Ancient Greek, meaning ‘to go down’, to travel from this world to the underworld. There, the chthonic gods and goddesses are just as real, just as powerful, and maybe just a little edgy from being neglected for so long. It is the journey of the initiate, to die before you die, thence to live twice-born: once of the flesh, and again of wisdom, sophia.
Katabatic Wind is an inspired collection of essays drawn from the lost unknown sacred tradition of the West. Using the lens of mythology, pre-Socratic Greek thought, sacred geometry, and a long essay comparing the West with the Indian tradition through the characters of Hamlet and Arjuna of the Bhagavad Gita, the book illumines how these traditions shadow life lived today. The kernel of these essays is loss, longing for return, and the grief of living in a society without an inkling of its original sacred origin story.
Stephen Crimi has a degree in English literature from Union College, and spent over a decade in traditional Yoga study at Yoga Anand Ashram in Amityville, NY. He’s been previously published in Moksha Journal and Journal of Anthroposophy in Australia. He’s done time as an editor, estate gardener, cook, massage therapist, and most recently, running a biodynamic garden and fiber farm, Philosophy Farm, for twelve years with his wife of three decades, Krys. They now live in the city of Asheville, in the mountains of North Carolina, where they continue to garden and midwife literature. Stephen was born in Brooklyn, and raised on the streets of Ozone Park, NYC. This is his first book.
“If the end of the world is at hand, there’s no point in reading this book—or any other book. If however there
still exists one iota of hope . . . you have about ten minutes . . . to start reading this book.”
—Peter Lamborn Wilson, author, The
Temple of Perseus at Panopolis and Sacred
“Katabatic Wind is an insightful, poetic, as well as asearingly honest analysis of the foundational paradigms beneath our
ever-declining and desacralized cultural-scientific worldview. Stephen Crimi
fingers with jest, dismay, and at times despair, the most important yet
frequently ignored modulators of the befalling darkness. He silhouettes the
sanctification of militarism inherited from our Hindu-Greek myths and history.
He describes the disguised totalitarian society and education infused in
Platonic and Aristotelian doctrines, as well as the intolerant imperialistic
ambitions veiled in the religious ideals of Roman Christendom. This work, while
severe, is beautifully researched, illustrated and poetically companioned
throughout, while keeping in hand both the universal aspects and the deeply
personal psychological and spiritual effects of this phase in the eternal play
of the embodiment of consciousness.”
—Robert Lawlor, author of Geometry
of the End of Time and Sacred
Geometry: Philosophy and Practice.
Review by Mihir Shah
"Lead me from the unreal to the real. Lead me from
darkness to light. Lead me from death to immortality."
In a world that eternally
powers forward, Stephen Crimi’s Katabatic
Wind presents his audience
with an opportunity to awaken the wisdom from within using sacred origin
stories that help readers be more cognizant of the ever-important question: who
am I? This compilation of essays begins with a dive into the abyss of the
underworld, a katabasis, with an analysis of the classic Greek myth of Orpheus
and Eurydice, and culminates with a deep dive into the significance of geometry
and the number 108. The most extensive and intriguing aspect of Katabatic Wind,
however, is the discourse of dharma—duty—and its juxtaposition in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the epic poem, Mahabharata. Crimi’s discourse
is inundated with both analysis and research that helps the reader arrive at a
more complete understanding of how one can lead a more purposeful life.
A thorough reading of Katabatic
Wind will yield one golden
nugget after another of self-realization. The most intriguing of Crimi’s
discussions is this idea of dying two deaths: the death of flesh and the death
of ignorance. Specifically in the Mahabharata,
the world’s greatest archer, Arjuna, is conflicted with his dharma, or the
right way of living, as he and his charioteer, Krishna, described as the
supreme personality of godhead in the Bhagvad
Gita, are stationed in the middle of the battlefield, Kuruksetra.
Incorporating the idea of Sanskrit, the Rgveda, and karma, the author takes
Arjuna’s moral dilemma and compares it to Hamlet’s predicament, where he must
avenge his father’s death by slaying the current king, his uncle, Claudius.
Although Crimi includes complex slokas, or chants from the Bhagvad Gita, he explains the
meaning and his purpose for its inclusion with such precision that even the
layman would pick up the message. For instance, in one sloka, Crimi translates
the Sanskrit version to simple ideas such as transforming from dark to light,
and death to immortality.
Crisis, tragedy, and loyalty are the common themes for both princes, Arjuna and
Hamlet. Both epics debate their moral dilemma through iconic monologues:
Arjuna’s bow, the Gandiva, is described as trembling under the weight of the
family members he must slay to carry out his dharma, while Hamlet’s “to be or
not to be speech” has become a part of all literary canons. The way these
characters make decisions, face their doubt, and come to a resolution is
insightful, and certainly, as Crimi suggests, useful to tackle the daily
challenges of life.
Like an intricate puzzle, Crimi dissects his evidence, and unveils it piece by
piece, until his purpose and the image he is trying to convey fits nicely into
the reader’s mind. In his section on Exegeses,
Crimi goes into the mysticism of the rose and the role it plays over many
cultures and literary texts, including the Islamic Sufi tradition and Dante’s Inferno. On a deeper level,
however, the audience will be intrigued by the intercultural uses of the number
108. Whether it is the Pentagon, the Golden Triangle, the radius of the moon,
Buddhism, or the cosmological Yugas—phases of life—in the Hindu culture, 108
always finds its way into relevance. Interestingly, there is even a section on
the sanctity of the game of baseball and Pythagorean numerics and angles.
In the end, Purgito Ergo Sum,
Crimi brings the lens back to his own life, where he finds himself in an
ayahuasca-fueled journey, and comes to the realization that he is, “neither
Shiva nor Satan,” and “this is all that being human is.” Several elements of
life and myth come through loud and clear after reading Katabatic Wind; however, the
constant is a stronger understanding of cultural origin stories, parallels, and
an overall glimpse into what it means to be human.
Stephen Crimi’s Katabatic Wind leaves no stone unturned. The depth of
research and insightful information he conveys about our identity as human
beings begs for multiple reads of this text. While Katabatic Wind will turn every philosopher into a kid
in a candy store, its concise explanations make for a meaningful read for
anyone who wishes to understand the layers of their humanity.
RECOMMENDED by The US