Chapter two goes back to the beginning.
- It covers Guénon's life from birth until 1908, and examines the nature and consequences of his involvement during the Belle Epoque with the Martinist Order and other occultist groups led by Gérard Encausse ("Papus," 1865-1916), as well as in Guénon's own short-lived occultist group, the Renewed Order of the Temple.
- The chapter also examines the origins of Perennialism in fifteenth century Italy , of Freemasonry in sixteenth century Scotland , and of Western interest in Hinduism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (in India with Reuben Burrow, in Britain and France , and in America with Ralph Waldo Emerson). It traces these three influences on Guénon through Helena Blavatsky's Theosophical Society and Encausse, as well as parallel influences on Guénon's collaborator Coomaraswamy.
- The chapter also introduces one of Guénon's first important followers, Georges-Auguste Thomas (1884-1966).