JOURNEYS IN THE KALI YUGA
New Dawn magazine
Aki Cederberg’s Journeys in the Kali Yuga is a unique addition to a very long and venerable tradition of travel writing by Westerners who have spent time in the East. Such accounts tend to either idealize it as a wellspring of religious knowledge and ascetic piety, or else exoticize it as something strange and forbidding, usually accompanied by a hefty dose of eurocentrism. Anyone who has actually been to India, which is where most of the experiences recounted in the book took place, knows that you can find both of these aspects if you look, but they are incomplete; the reality is much, much more complex. Cederberg avoids both these pitfalls and provides an extremely honest, complete, and moving account of a Westerner on a personal quest for the divine.
It is in one way a travel book, but the travel it describes is as much spiritual as it is geographical – detailing experiences the author had in India, Nepal, and Europe as he attempts to reconnect with what he describes as the primordial tradition behind all religions by seeking out holy men, and it is refreshingly free of New Age nonsense. And it is the only book by an outsider about India of which I am aware in which its author attempts to meet the land on its own terms, but at the same time is looking for a way to reconnect with his own, native traditions and identity as a European (Cederberg is Finnish), which were lost in our peoples’ rush to embrace modernity, as much as he is looking to learn about Indian religion. Furthermore, the author’s experiences were recent, within the past decade, and as such it offers a portrait of the new landscape of twenty-first century India: one where you can drink cocktails on the beach and dine at Western restaurants, where terrorist attacks are commonplace, where spiritual masters carry mobile phones, and where some of the latter are originally from the West themselves.
I felt a great deal of kinship with the author as I read given that I myself spent nearly five years in India, at the very same time that Cederberg was conducting his explorations – in fact we visited some of the same places, even though we didn’t know each other – and I was on the same quest, attempting to reconnect with the gods in order to foment a private rebellion against the modern world. We ended up going along different pathways up the mountain, however. He embraced the tradition of the Shaivite Naga sadhus of the Left-Hand Path, while I practiced the very Right-Handed Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition of Krishna with ISKCON (the “Hare Krishnas”).
But as the great philosopher René Guénon once said, the particular religion one practices is largely immaterial; it is the conversion from the modern worldview to that of metaphysical Tradition that truly matters. Both of us went eastwards in search of Tradition. And I can confirm that Aki’s experiences, both with the spiritual and material sides of India, largely dovetails with my own. The India he describes is just as I knew it. He very well details the difficulty a Westerner encounters in looking for God in a place which offers so many challenges to a foreigner – not just culturally and linguistically, but physically; discomfort is the typical state of being. You sometimes find yourself wondering how you are supposed to find God in a country that in many places resembles, at its worst, a gigantic trash heap inhabited by beggars and scam artists. As Cederberg himself notes, the degenerative effects of modernity are just as active in India as anywhere else, even if they are moving more slowly. India is not an easy place to live, which is perhaps a sure sign that it is a place for what the Indians call tapasya – challenges of austerity that one willingly undertakes in order to grow closer to the divine. To see the gods in India requires a great deal of patience, humility, and open-mindedness – but it can be done.
Cederberg does not shy away from the more unsavory aspects of India (but without any hint of Western pretension, it should be noted), but he also depicts the great rewards to be reaped by an encounter with Santana Dharma, which can do so much to take a Westerner out of himself and his illusions – a process that he is poetically gifted at describing. He relates his experiences at the Kumbh Mela festival in Haridwar, and at Shivaratri in Khajuraho, and at rituals held in Europe, among others, and while these are fascinating and informative, the most interesting parts of the book are Cederberg’s descriptions of what was happening within him as he grew and discovered that truth isn’t to be found out in the world, in some exotic place, but within. (Of course, he had to go out there to realize it.)
Ultimately, just as I did myself, Cederberg came to the conclusion that he could never truly know the gods of India, being the products of a culture and a tradition that are not his own – not rejecting them, but seeing them as guides on a journey back toward Scandinavia and his ancestral roots in the Norse pantheon, specifically through the god Freya. The last chapter of the book describes his religious homecoming at the ancient sacred sites in Lejre, Denmark and Gamla Uppsala in Sweden. And for a Westerner, this is perhaps the greatest lesson one can receive from India: From their brightly living gods, we can perhaps hear the whisperings of our own deities, hidden behind the veil of modernity, but undying, calling to us.
Journeys in the Kali Yuga is recommended for anyone who wants to know modern India, and still more to benefit from the experiences of a serious seeker on the path to a better understanding of himself and his genuine, rooted identity.
Review by John Morgan.
Aki Cederberg is a writer, musician, actor and filmmaker. He has worked with the music groups Halo Manash and Maa, is a contributor to the Radio Wyrd podcast in his native Helsinki, and has contributed to Carl Abrahamsson’s esteemed occultural journal, e Fenris Wolf. More recently, he appears as both an actor and narrator in Heikki Huttu-Hiltunen’s Finnish-language documentary, Instrument of Himmler.
But Journeys in the Kali Yuga is about Aki Cederberg the traveler, although it is hardly an ordinary travelogue or a superficial guide for tourists. Like Gerhard Petak (Kadmon), another writer with similar interests who has documented his own travels in and out of various arcane and hidden destinations, Aki does not travel in search of new foods, or new women, or inspiring landscapes—although I’m sure he’s more than willing to sample all three. What Aki is in search of in his travels is darshan, which he defines as a “vision and direct revealing of the sacred.” Sometimes he finds it, and sometimes he doesn’t, but Aki’s experiences here are as much about disillusion as they are about enlightenment. Part of his message seems to be that these two things might not be as unrelated as most of us think.
There is a long history of pilgrims travelling to India to find something “spiritual” that seems to be missing from Western modernity. e Beatles went to Rishikesh in 1968 to study meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and India remains a favored destination for hippies, New Agers, and assorted other white kids with dreadlocks. But while many of these seekers want little more than to live out their fantasies, Aki seems determined to take whatever India has to offer him at face value, free of romantic delusions and cultural distortions (while admitting that this is easier said than done). Nevertheless, Aki is hoping to find something. He writes that “under me was an abyss of existential nihilism that had to be overcome time and again through perpetual spiritual warfare.” Perhaps India will be the place where he finds the “magic mirror” that will lead him out of this endless state of conflict with the Void.
But far from seeing India as a sort of religious theme park where “truth” can be had by anyone who buys a ticket, Aki reports honestly about India as it actually is. Like many travelers before him, he gets violently ill. e country is hot and smelly. ere are terrorist attacks. ere is shit and piss, blood, and bugs. e reality of death is everywhere. He meets four haggard prostitutes in a disco who try to seduce him (“I want you, English dick.”). Many of the so-called “holy men” he encounters are little more than con artists and scammers, and even the “real” holy men are less-than-reputable characters. ere were moments in the book where I imagined the author wrapped in a sheet and drenched in fever-sweat, muttering like Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now: “ e horror, the horror.”
At the center of Aki’s story are the Babas, the sadhus and other wise men who are the bearers of India’s sacred traditions and its myriad initiatory technologies. As I alluded to above, there is an element of fraud that hovers about many of these yogis and wandering ascetics, who are all too eager to help relieve spiritually impoverished Westerners of their more abundant hoards of cash. But many of the Babas are undoubtedly the real deal. Not surprisingly, none of their teachings bear much resemblance to the “Eastern philosophy” that Edward Said would have undoubtedly characterized as a first-rate example of Orientalist wish-fulfillment. In one particularly memorable passage, Aki compares many of the Babas to outlaw bikers. ey are rough men living on the fringes of society who value their brotherhoods above all, and who are not above resorting to violence. Unlike the fantasies of middle-class yoga moms, the sadhu tradition is not all about “peace and love.” Aki recounts the mantra of a Baba who belongs to the casteless, antinomian Nath sect: “Fuck ’em all.” Outsiders who seek out these men with the hopes of losing themselves in the mystical annihilation of the One, may find their preconceptions—both about the Babas, and about themselves—annihilated instead.
This is certainly the case with Aki. He receives diksha (initiation) from Baba Rampuri (born William Gans), a sadhu with the Juna Akhara order who was the first foreigner to ever join the religious order of the Naga Sannyasis. As part of the ceremony, Aki is given the new name Adinath Puri. But despite having gone “full native,” Baba Rampuri does not necessarily recommend that others follow in his footsteps. Westerners, he tells Aki, “have to get in touch with themselves.” is is a refrain that many of the Babas will repeat, and Aki’s book turns into a meditation on what it means to stand outside of a tradition, and whether or not we can ever really assimilate into a culture that is not our own. After years of living in his own head, Aki begins to immerse himself in sex and in the practice of martial arts as a way to reconnect with his own body. He starts to think about the pagan traditions of Northern Europe which existed before Christianity, and his travels now deliver him to the sacred spaces that hallow the Scandinavian countryside. Memorably, he describes these as the “graves of the old gods.”
There is no doubt that much of the spiritual alienation felt by modern people involves the fact that our gods and goddesses were replaced by a religion imported into Europe from another culture and another people. But there is something ironic about looking for a cure in yet another foreign land. India contains much that we as radical traditionalists, or neo-pagans, or heathens, or however else we fancy ourselves, must do without—at least for the time being. India’s spiritual traditions are still meaningfully integrated into its culture, and Indians will always have the Babas to turn to for guidance. Although I don’t entirely agree with it, there is something to the idea—espoused by René Guénon and his school—that once the chain of initiation has been broken, it is well-nigh impossible to reconnect with a tradition. is is not India’s problem, but ours (although India will certainly struggle with it as the forces of global capitalism conspire to transform the entire country into a call-center for the IT industry). For us, the most difficult journey of all may be the one that brings us back home.
Journeys in the Kali Yuga does not follow a traditional narrative structure. Aki travels in and out of India and throughout Europe, but it is difficult to follow the chronology of the book’s events. One thing leads to another in a chain of impressions and associations. ese are strung together based on their importance for Aki’s inner journey, rather than giving us an exact account of his travels in terms of plane tickets, cab rides, food poisoning, or fortuitous meetings with mysterious strangers. e overall tone is raw and hallucinatory. Unlike the congratulatory stories told by self-proclaimed gurus or superhero yoga masters, this is the spiritual autobiography of a guy like you or me, who’s just trying to figure it all out in a world that has lost its way.
Review by Joshua Buckley
Cederberg’s visceral, evocative memoir describes a whiskeyfueled pilgrimage from Finland to India that leads him to dive into the ancient magic of the community of the Shiva-emulating naked mystics knows as Naga Babas. The first half of Cederberg’s strange chronicle celebrates the chaos and noise of Indian culture from an utterly unsentimental outsider’s perspective. Cederberg ardently disdains romanticism and the escapist New Age approaches of Westerners, expressing particular ire for “the smug neohippies that sport a strange kind of hip arrogance and a steady stoned gaze and who often wander around scantily clothed and behaving in an inappropriate manner.” A section describing Cederberg’s visit to the erotic temples of Khajuraho feels more like a travelogue than a spiritual investigation, but when he eventually returns to his Nordic homeland he concludes that a reconnection with the tribal gods of peoples’ native lands—as opposed to universalism or exotic spiritual travel— may be what Western seekers actually need. In his riproaring Englishlanguage debut, Cederberg sets himself as neither guide nor guru, allowing readers to truly participate in his journey without worrying about what exactly they are supposed to learn.
Aki Cederberg’s debut book, Journeys in the Kali Yuga, is a captivating and insightful memoir of a journey through initiation into the Naga Babas, Hindi Sadhu dedicated to a life of spiritual discipline and renunciation of worldly possessions, which ultimately leads him back to the roots of his homeland in a spiritual quest of fulfilment. His story offers a rare glimpse into eastern esotericism, which few westerns have the opportunity to peer into from the outside. Cederberg’s unique position as a westerner initiated into such a time-honoured Indian lineage as the Naga Babas gives him a fascinating perspective, as he juxtaposes and ultimately integrates the two vastly different yet intermingled spiritual heritages of eastern and western esotericism.
Told in traditional hero’s story fashion, Journeys in the Kali Yuga begins with Cederberg’s pilgrimage to India, a world he paints as vividly coloured, filled with a mixture of foreign smells, sounds, and tastes that threaten to overwhelm the senses. Vacillating between divine terror and awe, Cederberg brilliantly captures the spirit of the land that drew him into the wild world of the Naga Babas (literally translated as “Naked Yogis”), who are the mystic madmen of the God Shiva. Despite their unconventional lifestyle, they wield immense power in Indian culture because of the wisdom and knowledge their ancient lineage holds. To join the sect, one must first seek a Guru. In Cederberg’s story, this Guru is Rampuri, who decides he is eligible to join and bestows him with a new name and mantra, which he can grow into on his spiritual path.
Through the journey, Cederberg highlights the sense of feeling like a stranger both abroad and at home as he tries to find his footing in two vastly different worlds — the vivacious, dynamic flow of India that does not necessarily welcome him as a foreigner, and traditions of his homeland that has left him with a feeling of disconnection to more magical aspects of life. He does his best to observe without judgement, believing that:
The only way to really learn and understand anything at all of this was to engage and absorb, which in practice meant to sit, watch and participate, not to make moral, intellectual, or analytical judgments or ask what this or that meant or symbolized, as if all things had implicit and deeper meaning or symbolic value outside of those directly apparent to them — but to simply sit and watch how things unfolded. And that is what I tried to do. I did not make judgments about anything one way or the other but simply let the experience wash over me to see what knowledge would grow from it.
The peak of the journey occurs at Kumbh Mela, a massive pilgrimage where people of Hindi faith come to bathe in the Ganges River, which they hold sacred. Cederberg’s account of the Naga Babas, smoking chillums and stoned out of their minds the entire time, is a once-in-a-lifetime account of seeing the divine in the bizarre reality of life, where the sacred and profane are one. Reading Cederberg’s account of the Naga Babas makes you feel like you are sitting with him witnessing this experience, which is a real treasure as it is something off-limits to the uninitiated. Cederberg has an uncanny knack for conveying the momentum and intensity of the energy as it ebbs and flows, from navigating through streaming crowds surrounding the river, to relishing moments of silence amongst some of the holiest men in India, the Kumbh Mela and spirit of the Naga Babas is brought to life through his writing.
Cederberg’s journey in the second half of Journeys in the Kali Yuga is centred on his return home and crisis of faith. Seeing the discrepancies of spiritual and magical traditions between the east and west left Cederberg feeling disillusioned. He writes, “Again, this brings up a central problem we face in the West. For the most part, we lack our own gurus — that is, teachers and guides with voices of authority and power reflecting an ancient, unbroken tradition. Our traditions have been severed, and the access we too seldom gain to them is through highly suspicious entities, whether modern ones or those claiming ancient lineages.” As he struggles to reconcile the traditions of the west with the wisdom he has gained from eastern esoteric traditions, Cederberg plunges into a dark night of the soul that ultimately reunites him with spirits of his homeland through Norse mythology.
Following his period of reflection, Cederberg does visit India once again, years later and this time accompanied by his partner. He sees India from a new point of a view, with a familiarity of a kindred spirit, yet seeking something different this time. The ancient practice of Tantra and Kalaripayat, an ancient form of Indian martial arts, are brought in to understand India’s complex magical history. The Hindu Goddess Kali is prominent in this section, as she is “the destroyer of illusions, especially illusions we might have about ourselves and our own finite nature. And she is time, all-producing, all-consuming, as everything that is created in time will inevitably be consumed by time as well. Approaching this paradox, turning to Mother Kali means embracing both of the intertwined forces of the universe of which all life and death consists: the creative and the destructive”
Cederberg spends a lot of time discussing the Kali Yuga, which is the last of the four ages in Indian cosmology, characterized by “the loss of spiritual life and tradition and the valuing of everything through materialism and money4. It is a time when society has strayed so far from natural law that they have fallen into destructive behaviour characterized by conflict, strife and degradation of traditions. False prophets reign and our souls are separated from our roots. While adept in technology and pious because of scientific advances, humanity remains floundering and aimless with a sense of emptiness stemming from the disconnection between ourselves an the nature of the world. Cederberg draws a parallel between the age of the Kali Yuga with the Nordic mythology of Ragnarok, in which the trickster god Loki causes the death of Balder, the sun god. The themes characterizing the cataclysmic time of the Kali Yuga, such as war, corruption and ecological disaster, are what we are seeing at the forefront of our modern society, and Cederberg’s journey highlights the importance of awareness during this challenging time.
The most remarkable part of this is the way that Cederberg is able to use his keen sense of self-awareness to yield insights into spirituality in the modern age that truly highlight the current state of the collective. He quotes, “The so-called spirituality of the West today is, rather than an antidote for the Kali Yuga, a symptom of it. The dominant Western religions in their current form are void of vitality and élan — they can no longer sustain and nurture the spirit, if they indeed ever did.” The wisdom he has gleaned from his experience is imparted with tender discernment that gives readers a sliver of his testimonial as an offering to the revival of divine within us, within the roots of our own lands. Returning back to his roots after a sojourn of mind, body, and soul through a culture so unlike his own, Cederberg concludes “What is needed is not another arbitrary ideology, but a rekindling of holy fires, a reconnection with the wisdom of the sacred soil and soul we are a part of.”
Reading about Indian esoteric traditions in Journeys in the Kali Yuga gave me a new reference point for understanding western occult and spiritual traditions. I think it is easy for us to become so immersed in the study of our own traditions that we forget the larger context in which they exist. Cederberg’s narrative was absolutely jam packed with information about a variety of gods and goddesses in both Indian and western pantheons. It was well-researched, demonstrating his intricate and thorough knowledge of eastern and western esotericism, with the added dimension that can only come through first-hand experience. His portrayal of India had me daydreaming about the places he spoke of, his rich imagery truly provides the reader an access point to a culture filled with mystery and wonder.
Truly, I can say Journeys in the Kali Yuga is one of the best books I have read this year. I recommend to any reader who is looking for a tale of self-exploration, with all the epic ups and downs of that journey. Cederberg’s journey from home into a new land, filled with trials and tribulations, comes full circle as he returns home with insights to carry his own culture forward.
In the introduction to this spiritual travelogue, Finland native Aki Cederberg writes that “as far back as I can remember, I have been drawn to and felt a strong resonance with certain sights, symbols, and signs, not exactly knowing why. Some of these have been found in the waking world, while others have revealed themselves in visions and dreams . . . . It’s as if my soul or spirit had been imprinted with images, and consequently my life has been a search for these images in the outside world.”
Cedeberg became intrigued, for example, about the similarities between the trident-shaped Algiz rune of his native Nordic culture and the trishul of the Hindu deity Shiva. His curiosity led him to India.
“His odyssey began as a search for spiritual roots, something missing in the spiritually disconnected life of the Western world, where the indigenous traditions were long ago severed by the spread of Christianity,” reads the book description on the website of his publisher, Destiny Books.
Cederberg, in what is his first book in English, writes that he encountered “a literal army of Naga Babas – the naked ones, the wild, wandering mystics, the holy madmen of Shiva.” He also recounts his adventures with hucksters in Rishikesh, pipe-puffing mystics at a temple of the goddess Maya, the American-born techno-trance deejay Goa Gil, the American-born sadhu Rampuri, and a “raised-arm Baba” who has held up one arm for 40 years to show his devotion to Shiva.
“My initial reaction to all this, of course, as I told Rampuri, was a strong ‘What the fuck am I doing here?’” Cederberg writes. “It was all quite overwhelming and disorienting, suddenly bursting into this alien foreign fairy- tale world.”
Rampuri responds with a Stars Wars tale.
“Oh, great, I thought. A Star Wars analogy,” Cederberg writes, but he was undeterred from his quest: “I wanted not only to see the sadhus, magicians, and shamans, but I wanted to be able to see as they saw.”
Near the end of his odyssey, Cederberg, who lives in Helsinki, reflects on lessons learned: “It had become apparent that for most of the Western individuals I knew their initiation into the Indian esoteric world had not been entirely successful . . . . there is seldom a good reason for a European person to worship Hindu deities, which are . . . specific to them and their lands. For instance, there is something strange in revering Saraswati in Europe, for Europe has its own river goddesses . . . . The more I traveled in faraway lands, the more I felt connected to my own inherited spiritual landscapes.
“All this is not to say that a great deal cannot be learned and experienced from different traditional cultures or that the divine cannot be approached through them, because it certainly can . . . . Yet in the soil one naturally springs from there is an immediacy and an intimacy that would be foolish to overlook.”
Review by Rick de Yampert.
Journeys in the Kali Yuga is a worthwhile read for any student of western or eastern spirituality, especially those with some understanding of the Indo-European spectrum. Aki has allowed himself an outsider's eye in the midst of deep engagement with an ancient, living spiritual tradition: as such, he is capable of reporting both on the external oddities he witnessed during his travels, such as we might guess at from afar, as well as the internal ecstasies he experienced under the guidance of gods, gurus, a sprinkling of ganja, and some good friends.
The story itself is compelling, varied enough in its flight from frenzy to felicity that it keeps one engaged throughout. There's little in the way of "technical references," as I would call them: the emphasis is on the broad experience gained from his trips to the Indian subcontinent and how they relate to his own native tradition, not on the convoluted subtleties that were no doubt the mainstay of any number of rituals and rites engaged in during the course of his journeys. The greater part of the book revolves around his initiation into one of the more clandestine sects of Indian holy men, and yet it is the atmosphere of this initiation, and of the experiences he had in the company of his new adopted spiritual family, that permeates the book, not occult jargon or endless lists of mantras and mudras. One need not be a student of Sanskrit or versed in any degree of Hindu lore to be able to understand perfectly not only what Aki is talking about, but especially what he gained from his experiences, because the essence of what is put forward is a timeless truth: that reality, in all its inconceivable vastness, is to be grasped from within one's tradition, one's tradition to be imparted by reality.
Sprinkled throughout the book are returns to the motherland, where Aki expresses the changes he recognises both in himself and in his understanding of the European tradition following his trips to India. The evolution of both his practice and his appreciation of the ancient European way is made very clear, especially in his interactions with both living friends and the ancient mounds where past glories reside, the stones and sacred spaces of Europe where once a world not unlike that found in India reigned. Even during the passages concerning India and Nepal, there are frequent references to similarities between Indian and European mythology, cosmology, ritual practice and philosophy - the near constant re-application of lessons learned in India to his own native northern tradition is refreshing, especially in a "spiritual market" saturated with unabashed hyper-orientalism.
Aki makes it plain that his own experience of "Hinduism" suggests strongly that it is a tribal tradition, therefore ultimately "off limits" to Westerners - if only in that our long-standing ethnocultural differences, based as they are on geographical and climatic differences, require us to tackle the mystery of reality from different angles. Nevertheless, he easily grasps the underlying current of wisdom that permeates both the Indian tradition and his own indigenous tradition, and therefore uses the experiences he goes through in India to support, even to fill out, his understanding of his own ancestors' way of belief and practice. To this end, this is a fantastic book: as a study of comparative mythology and magical theory, it is second to none that I have read before. There may be others of this calibre, but they are few and far between.
This is not the kind of book that a love-and-light, new age hippie will be happy to sink his teeth into. Nor is it necessarily for the hard-and-fast "Asatruar" who feel that they already know their own dilapidated tradition back-to-front because they read the Eddas once or twice. For those Europeans who are sincere in their desire to unfurl the mysteries of being from their near-lost heritage, and who would happily turn their gaze abroad if it would yield them insight about their own tradition - this is the book for them. Aki's journey in itself is the proof not only that the Indo-European tradition is a consolidated whole, but that it is a timeless and placeless tradition, capable of emerging in a vast array of forms that nevertheless all point back to one single truth and one single origin. The internal diversity of the Indo-European milieu is far from a weakness: it is an incredible strength, indicative of the adaptability of a way of life and vision that sees truth, reality, love and beauty as the objects of meaning, all else coincidental.
For those who believe that India is the place to go for all our spiritual revelations, this book is a firm but gentle "Stop!" sign. "Turn back - you missed a spot." Equally, for those who believe they have nothing to learn from anywhere beyond their own borders, this book is a gentle but firm push to explore foreign pastures, unknown lands, hidden worlds and nameless valleys where the true core and spirit of our ancestors' tradition is not only still alive, but burns brightly with the ancient flame that set all our peoples alight. It may be found in India, it may be found amongst the Parsis, it may be found in the Buddhist tradition anywhere in the world, but wherever it is found, if it is the true spirit that initiated all these diverse faiths and forms, it will be recognised as such. That recognition will lead to the reinstantiation of the ancient European tradition in time, as much as it has done for the Hindus and the Buddhists in times past. If that is our goal, Aki's book is a forward leap. I invite my fellow Europeans to investigate it, if they have a desire to know better the origin of their own tradition.
Review by Alexander Storrsson.
Informed Insights into the Mysteries of the Sacred
WHITLEY STRIEBER / DREAMLAND
I interviewed Aki Cederberg on my podcast Dreamland because I found this book to be powerful and compelling. It takes the reader on a profound journey into the meaning of our age of spiritual degeneration, and of Aki's personal journey between east and west, seeking the meaning of the gods and attempting to recapture a sense of the sacred. He finds remarkable connections between the gods of India and the old gods of northern Europe, in the way that these inner presences influence and subtly govern our lives.
There is exceptional insight here.
Journeys in the Kali Yuga is a fascinating work. I was flipping through an Inner Traditions catalog when the title caught my eye and I was not disappointed. Cederberg is clearly very observational, has a good memory and is a deep thinker. At times he seems to take himself a bit too seriously (though in fairness, I read the book in English, not the original language that it was written in) but I am willing to overlook that because of his honesty. Cederberg lays his thoughts out and presents them as they are - and that is something that I greatly respect. His description of the filthy conditions in India along with the abject poverty were sobering and cause for concern for anyone that cares about the environment. Ultimately, it bears mentioning that I do not agree with Cederberg’s religious views but he explains them well and provided great insight in to both hinduism and the religion of his homeland.
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
"Journeys in the Kali Yuga: A Pilgrimage from Esoteric India to Pagan Europe " is a beautifully evocative account of Aki's personal odyssey to discover authentic and unbroken magical traditions in the East and reawaken them in the West
"Journeys in the Kali Yuga" details the author's encounters with the Naga Babas, his initiation into their tradition, and his experience at the Kumbh Mela, the largest spiritual gathering on Earth; shares the similarities he discovered between the teachings of the Indian tradition and the Western traditions of magic, alchemy, and pagan pantheons; and introduces a wide cast of characters, including Goa Gil, the world-renowned guru of the Goa techno-trance scene, and Mahant Amar Bharti Ji, a "raised-arm Baba," who for more than 40 years has held up one arm in devotion to Shiva
Beautifully detailing his spiritual pilgrimage from West to East and back again, in the age of strife known as the Kali Yuga, "Journeys in the Kali Yuga" shares the authentic and unbroken magical traditions Aki experienced in India and Nepal and how his search for a spiritual homeland ultimately led him back to his native Europe.
Aki also explains how his odyssey began as a search for spiritual roots, something missing in the spiritually disconnected life of the Western world, where the indigenous traditions were long ago severed by the spread of Christianity.
Traveling to India, he encounters the ancient esoteric order of mystic, wild, naked holy men known as the Naga Babas, the living source of the Hindu traditions of magic and yoga. Immersing himself in the teachings of the tradition, he receives an initiation and partakes in the Kumbh Mela, the largest spiritual gathering on Earth.
With his evocative descriptions, Aki shows how traveling in India can be an overwhelming, even psychedelic experience. Everything in this ancient land is multiplied and manifold: people and things, sights and sounds, joy and suffering. Yet beyond the apparent confusion and chaos, a strange, subtle order begins to reveal itself. He starts to glimpse resemblances and analogies between the teachings of the Indian tradition and the Western traditions of magic, alchemy, and pagan pantheons.
Along the way, Aki meets a wide cast of characters, from mystical hucksters in Rishikesh and the veritable army of naked, chillum-smoking mystics of Maya Devi to Goa Gil, the world-renowned guru of the Goa techno-trance scene, and Mahant Amar Bharti Ji, an urdhvabahu or "raised-arm Baba," who for more than 40 years has held up one arm in devotion to Shiva.
After extensive traveling and immersing himself in the extraordinary world of India, Aki returns to his native soil of Europe.
Traveling to holy places where old pagan divinities still linger in the shadows of the modern world, Aki dreams of forgotten gods and contemplates how they might be awakened yet again, reconnecting the West with its own pre-Christian spiritual traditions, sacred landscapes, and soul.
Illustrated with both color and black/white images, "Journeys in the Kali Yuga: A Pilgrimage from Esoteric India to Pagan Europe" is an inherently fascinating, impressively informative, and exceptionally well written account that will prove to be a unique and endearingly popular addition to both community and academic library Religion/Spirituality and Contemporary Biography collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Hindu religion that "Journeys in the Kali Yuga" is also available in a digital book format.
JESSE LÄMSÄ / GOODREADS.COM
This book was one of the most significant reading experiences I've had so far. Cederberg’s story presented me a new way of viewing the world and its deeper layers; it changed my perspective on the spiritual, as well as on the physical levels of existence. In doing so, it also swept away a big chunk of cynicism that has been bothering me for years. A job rather difficult to do in this meaning-vacuum of a world we live in today...
Even though Cederberg’s extraordinary journey and his weird experiences made a really exciting and amusing story to read, there was this serious and in my mind melancholic undertone in the book. This undertone is composed of the constant yearning for something real, and of the awful feeling, that something profound is missing from our culture. Something that once had been an essential part of it. As if the world we live in is somehow hollow and artificial, especially here in the West. That undertone appealed to me greatly, because I've been struggling with those kind of feelings myself for a long time, not really knowing why, and what it was that I feel I'm missing.
Cederberg’s book helped me understand those feelings, and the reasons what might be causing them. But more importantly, it made believe that it is possible to find some true meaning in this world; something real and authentic; something timeless to connect to. His story made me see ancient themes in a new light. It made me ponder the concept of gods in a whole new way, and, in a sense, restored my belief in them. It forced me to think what is sacred to me in life and why. It also reshaped my relationship to nature and to my homeland. All in all, It shed a new kind of bright light to my own spiritual path, and at the same time, it helped me too see the significance of the physical aspect of life too. After reading the book, I have felt the need to get out of the world of sheer abstractions and go explore and experience and feel the world outside. I also feel the need to mention, that I have found new kind of joy and purpose in exercising as well, which was perhaps the most unexpected effects of this book.
I think it's the honesty in Cederberg’s writing that makes the book so compelling, fascinating and convincing. He writes about his experiences genuinely and beautifully, but without unnecessary embellishment. At his journeys from West to East and back again, Cederberg has acquired a lot of intriguing experiences, valuable knowledge and I dare to say, real wisdom. And in his book, he manages to intersperse this wisdom into the story, in an entertaining, tangible and beautiful way.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who seeking something meaningful and sacred in this world or is interested in genuine self-exploration. And of course to those, who just enjoy a deeply personal, touching and entertaining adventure story.