Studies in Comparative Religion
The First English Journal on Traditional Studies - established 1963
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To visit a special web site, "Frithjof Schuon Archive," dedicated to featured Studies contributor Frithjof Schuon, click here.

About this Journal
  • History of the first 25 years
  • Commemorative Editions
  • Studies Past and Present
  • On-Line Journal & Archive
  • On-Line Glossaries
  • About the Logo
  • F. Clive-Ross and Pates Manor

  • History of the First 25 years (1963–1987):

    Studies in Comparative Religion was founded in Britain in 1963 by Francis Clive-Ross (1921–1981) and is the first and most comprehensive English-language journal of traditional studies. The journal was published under the name Tomorrow until 1967, when it was changed to its present name. Four quarterly issues per year, containing over 1,200 articles in total, were published during the first 25 years of Studies in Comparative Religion’s existence, before its publication was interrupted in 1987. William Stoddart served as the assistant editor for most of these years.

    F. Clive-Ross clearly explained the journal’s goals in his introduction to the first issue:

    Studies in Comparative Religion is devoted to the exposition of the teachings, spiritual methods, symbolism, and other facets of the religious traditions of the world, together with the traditional arts and sciences which have sprung from those religions. It is not sectarian and, inasmuch as it is not tied to the interests of any particular religious group, it is free to lay stress on the common spirit underlying the various religious forms.
    One of our primary aims is to meet the need for accurate information created by the now world-wide interest in the question of “ecumenical relations” between the great religions, by providing a forum where writers of proven authority can exchange views on various aspects of religious life, doctrinal, historical, artistic and mystical, not forgetting the element of personal experience and reminiscence.
    By collecting accurate information about the great religions under their many aspects and rendering them available to interested readers we feel we are fulfilling a very pressing need of our time and also contributing in a practical manner to the cause of inter-religious understanding. If there is to be an effective measure of this understanding at any level this can only be on the basis of accurate presentation both of teachings and facts. An ill-informed benevolence is no substitute for genuine insight, based on information that is neither willfully distorted nor confined to the surface of things.
    In this manner we think that we are best serving the interest of our readers in their search for truth.

    As Seyyed Hossein Nasr noted, “When Studies in Comparative Religion began its publication, major traditionalist writers such as Schuon, Burckhardt, Pallis, Lings, W. N. Perry, and many others were alive and/or also still intellectually active. For every issue the editor had a choice of riches hardly imaginable three decades later.”

    The writings of these authors eventually came to the attention of Jacob Needleman, a professor at San Francisco State College who was also the editor for the entire series published as “The Penguin Metaphysical Library”. Needleman became so interested in this intellectual current of thought that he edited a book, The Sword of Gnosis, containing essays from Studies in Comparative Religion and published it as part of the Penguin Metaphysical Library. Needleman wrote in his Foreword to The Sword of Gnosis:

    One of the most interesting intellectual developments of the 1960s was the publication in England of a periodical called Studies in Comparative Religion. When it first came across my desk, it had seemed to me merely another gray scholarly journal—an impression that was only strengthened by its stated purpose of presenting essays concerning “traditional studies.” Like many Americans, I was put off by the very word “tradition.” But I pressed on because I had heard that this journal contained some of the most serious thinking of the twentieth century.
    And in fact I quickly saw that its contributors were not interested in the hypothesizing and the marshaling of piece-meal evidence that characterizes the work of most academicians. On close reading, I felt an extraordinary intellectual force radiating through their intricate prose. These men were out for the kill. For them, the study of spiritual traditions was a sword with which to destroy the illusions of contemporary man…
    All I could have said definitely was that they seemed to take metaphysical ideas more seriously than one might have thought possible. It was as though for them such ideas were the most real things in the world. They conformed their thought to these ideas in the way the rest of us tend to conform our thought to material things. Perhaps it was this aspect that gave their essays a flavor that was both slightly archaic and astonishingly fresh at the same time…
    Readers of this volume will certainly find in the writings of Schuon and those he has influenced completely new perspectives in every aspect of religious thought…. Very probably, it will seem to the reader that until now he has ignored an entire dimension in his thinking about tradition.
    That these writings bring something that has been entirely lacking in Western religious thought is therefore not open to question. But that is not the court at which their work deserves to be judged, nor would they wish it so. Something much more serious is at stake than merely renewing the comparative study of religion throughout the land….

    The Sword of Gnosis identified a particular group of authors on tradition, bringing together for the first time—for North American readers—the writings of what in academic circles were soon to become known as “Traditionalists” or “Perennialists”. The Sword of Gnosis was reprinted by Penguin numerous times throughout the 1970s, ’80s, and early ’90s and a newly revised edition of the book is forthcoming by Fons Vitae. In due course, this book stimulated a much larger debate in American academia about the merits of the Traditionalist point of view, including the ideas of the Perennial Philosophy and the “transcendent unity of religions”. This intellectual current of thought eventually became known as the “Traditionalist School” or the “Perennialist School”.

    Commemorative Annual Editions for the First 25 years:

    “Commemorative Annual Editions” for each of the first 25 years of Studies in Comparative Religion will be republished as proofreading is completed. Each Commemorative Annual Edition will contain all of the articles, editorials, and letters to the editor in the exact manner as the four quarterly issues that were published in the respective years. These commemorative editions are available for purchase on, and the World Wisdom Internet site.

    Studies Past and Present:

    2007 marks the start of the 26th year for Studies in Comparative Religion, which is now located in Bloomington, Indiana and sponsored by World Wisdom. The overall goals of the journal remain as they were originally stated more than forty years ago by F. Clive-Ross. This second phase includes both an on-line and a paper journal.

    Free On-line Journal and Comprehensive Archive:

    The free on-line journal and comprehensive archive contains the following features:

    • A free on-line archive of all the issues of Studies in Comparative Religion dating back to 1963. All of the more than 1,200 existing articles have been scanned but proofreading is not yet complete for all of the articles. Additional articles will be posted on-line as the proofreading is completed.
    • Database search functions by subject or author.
    • The “key word” search engine is powered by Google, thus allowing detailed key word searches throughout this entire historic archive.
    • “Pop-up definitions” are provided by the Dictionary of Spiritual Terms, which allows the reader to click on highlighted foreign or technical words to obtain short pop-up definitions.
    • Free on-line subscriptions to new issues of the journal.
    On-Line Glossaries:

    All articles featured on Studies in Comparative have been enabled to make use of AnswerTips. AnswerTips are small information bubbles that define any word or phrase when it is double-clicked. AnswerTips offers fast facts on 4 million topics provided by when one double-clicks on any word, without opening a new browser or following outbound links. AnswerTips deliver instant definitions, explanations and facts including biographies, tech terms, geography etc.

    Definitions of technical terms contained within articles are provided by Any word with an available definition is underlined. Simply click on the underlined word to view a short definition. Click on the “more information” for a longer definition from the main Dictionary of Spiritual Terms website.

    About the Logo:

    Studies in Comparative Religion was the first journal to use the “Feathered Sun” design of the Plains Indians as its logo. Frithjof Schuon wrote this explanation of the symbolism of the Feathered Sun:

    The Feathered Sun... is found on buffalo hides used as cloaks and occasionally as a background for ceremonies. The Sun is composed of concentric circles formed of stylized eagle feathers; the resulting impression is particularly evocative in that the symbol simultaneously suggests center, radiation, power, and majesty. (The Feathered Sun: Plains Indians in Art and Philosophy [Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom Books, 1990], p. 100.)

    F. Clive-Ross and Pates Manor

    Photo of F. Clive Ross and group outside Pates Manor

    During its first 25 years, Studies on Comparative Religion had its offices in a wing of the Clive-Ross home in Pates Manor, Bedfont, near London, which dates its origins to the 15th century. Standing in front Pates Manor are, from left: Francis Clive-Ross, Catherine Schuon, Frithjof Schuon, Martin Lings, Leslie Lings, Whitall Perry, Barbara Perry and Olive Clive-Ross. Photograph c. 1965.

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