“Traditionalism as a Theory: Sophia, Plato and the Event” – Alexander Dugin (2013)

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

Chapter 8 of In Search of the Dark Logos: Philosophico-Theological Outlines

(Moscow: Academic Project/Department of the Sociology of International Relations, Faculty of Sociology, Moscow State University, 2013).

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Mark Sedgwick and his hypothesis on Sophia Perennis

In his book, Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century [1], the contemporary scholar and historian of Traditionalism, Mark Sedgwick, based on research into the philosophical sources of the worldview of the founder of Traditionalism, René Guénon, advanced the hypothesis that the Traditionalist movement, in its assertion of Sophia Perennis (Philosophia Perennis) and the “Primordial Tradition” as its foundational theory, is based not on some “mythical”, exotic, “Eastern” sources, but on none other than the Western philosophical tradition, whose roots can be traced back to the Renaissance Platonism of Gemistus Plethon, Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Agostino Steuco, etc. The current which took shape in this circle elevated the figure of Sophia and the corresponding notion of “Primordial Theology” (as in Steuco’s Prisca theologia), and the content of this “primordial theology” boiled down to Platonism, Neoplatonism, and Hermeticism, which were rediscovered in Western Europe thanks to translations from Greek of a broad spectrum of these currents, whose texts were brought by the Greek Gemistus Plethon from Byzantium in the final period before its final fall. Although Sedgwick’s thesis has seemed to many Traditionalists to be “disrobing”, overall this analysis of the intellectual circles of the Renaissance Neoplatonists and their ideas demonstrates a considerable convergence with Guénon’s views and those of his followers. 

In turn, the works of the English Dame Frances Yates dedicated to these very same intellectual currents of the European Renaissance and Modernity [2] have shown just how enormous of an influence Platonism exerted on the formation of the philosophical, scientific, and political views of this transitional epoch. Both Sedgwick and Yates show how a significant number of the founding fathers of the modern scientific view of the world were in fact largely inspired by mystical-religious ideas and Neoplatonic theories, even though only one side of their works – that tied to empiricism, rationalism, mechanism, etc. – would make it into the scientific canons of Modernity, while the mysticism and “Perennialism” of the Renaissance would be left “behind the scenes” or alternatively interpreted in naturalistic, pantheistic, or deist directions. A prominent example of this is Issac Newton, who was both an alchemist and a Kabbalist on the one hand and, on the other, the founding father of mechanistic physics and rationalist, empiricist natural science. The historian of religions Mircea Eliade, who in his youth participated in the Traditionalist movement, developed this perspective with the proposal that we view the rational-scientific and progressist topography of the philosophy of Modernity as a product of the secularization of European Hermeticism. 

These considerations led Sedgwick to reconsider the influence of Traditionalism on philosophy, science, and to a certain extent politics in the 20th century. This movement, lying at the heart of Modernity and appearing in new form as the philosophy developed by René Guénon, Julius Evola, and a broad circle of thinkers on which the former had decisive impact, was much more significant and important than can be judged on the basis of mere superficial familiarity with the subject. At the same time, they appear to be somewhat more modest and even, to a certain extent, marginal. At the source of Modernity lies Platonic universalism, which became the ideological grounds for proclaiming the universalism of the rational philosophy of post-Medieval Europe. Gradually, the bulk of attention came to be drawn towards the technological side of this movement, towards pure empiricism and rationalism, while the metaphysical dimension was neglected and written off as one of the costs and remnants of “Medieval irrationalism.” However, following this scheme, it turns out that with the exhaustion of the technocratic, rationalist philosophy, Baconist scientism, and Cartesian dualism of the epoch of Modernity, this second side, which had long since receded to the periphery, began to make itself known again. Guénon’s Traditionalism became its developed manifesto. Hence the growth of Traditionalism’s significance in correlation with the ever broader and deeper consciousness of the “crisis of the modern world.” Thus, in the transition to Post-Modernity, Modernity has once again remembered its “occult roots.” The Enlightenment, now called into question, has turned towards its “Rosicrucian” beginning. 

This hypothesis of Sedgwick and Yates, shared by a number of other authors, is productive. In the very least, it raises the status of Traditionalism to that of one of the most important philosophical currents to emerge in the critical moment of the exhaustion of the agenda of the classical scientific rationality of Modernity and with the formation of the first Post-Modern theories subjecting Modernity to deconstruction. If we recognize that at the very heart of Modernity, which claimed rationalism and the theory of progress to be the foundations of its universalism, there lies a set of irrational views that appeal to deep antiquity for substantiation, i.e., the Platonic-mystical and Hermetic universalism of the Perennialist and Sophiological shade, then Modernity itself appears under a completely different light, and Post-Modern critics thereby acquire yet another argument, namely, that Modernity was not at all what it claimed to be, but was merely a poorly disguised, masked version of the traditional society which Modernity sought to overcome, annul, and dismantle. 

On the other hand, Traditionalism itself thereby appears to be a phenomenon that is critical of, but nonetheless related to Modernity. It is not simply the “continuation of Tradition” by inertia, but an altogether specific and original critical philosophy which refutes Modernity and subjects the latter to merciless critique on the basis of a special, complex set of ideas and theories which, taken together in their sum, constitute a “Perennialism” or “universal esotericism” which, it ought to be noted, does not coincide with any one single really existing historical tradition. Thus, we are only one step away from recognizing Traditionalism to be a “construct.” The revolutionary, critical, and modern potential of Guénon’s philosophy was rightfully noticed by the Traditionalist René Alleau, who proposed to consider Guénon alongside Marx as one among the constellation of radical revolutionaries and critics of modern civilization.[3] 

From Prisca theologia to René Guénon

A number of various, altogether interesting conclusions can be extracted from Sedgwick’s analysis.[4] Here we will fixate on merely one point, that of the conceptual unity of 20th century Traditionalism (Guénon, Evola, etc.) and Renaissance Platonism (Plethon, Ficino, Steuco, etc.). Both of these philosophical currents can be generalized with the notion of “Perennialism.”

If we can historically trace Guénon’s philosophical inspirations back to the Renaissance, which Guénon himself harshly criticized for misunderstanding the sacred civilization of the Middle Ages, and if we can find there the first formulations of Sophia Perennis or the Prisca theologia which compose the foundation of Traditionalist philosophy, then in it becomes completely obvious that these currents came to Western Europe in the Renaissance from the much deeper past and, to a certain extent, from a different cultural context (more specifically, the Byzantine-Greek). Of course, Platonism was well known in Medieval European Scholasticism, but it had long since yielded to Averroism and Aristotelianism enshrined virtually dogmatically in the realism of Thomas Aquinas. Hermeticism had existed in the form of alchemical currents and esoteric fraternities, but in the Renaissance these tendencies surfaced in rather vivid and magistral form, such as in the forms of open Neoplatonism and philosophically-formulated Hermeticism (with numerous direct or indirect polytheistic elements), which claimed to be not merely a secret tradition parallel to the dominant Scholasticism, but a foundational, universal worldview. Renaissance Platonism and Hermeticism directly opposed Catholic Tomism and formulated the agenda of Renaissance Humanism. This humanism was magical and sacred: man was understood to be the “perfect man”, the Platonic philosopher, the Angel-Initiator. 

The Renaissance Platonists appealed directly to the works of Plato, Plotinus, Hermes Trismegistus, and the broader corpus of Neoplatonic and Hermetic theories, many of which were freshly translated from Greek. Platonic humanism was reformed into a conceptual, theoretical bloc and began its offensive against previous philosophical and theological constructs. The Neoplatonists justified their claims to truth by emphasizing the antiquity of their sources and by claiming to propose a philosophical paradigm which could generalize different religious confessions, and as such was more universal and more profound than the Catholic religion of Europe. This synthesis came to include, in the very least, Byzantine Orthodoxy, but the reform program of Gemistus Plethon was even broader, proposing a restoration of “Platonic theology” as a whole and a return to certain aspects of polytheism. Platonism, like Hermeticism, was seen not simply as one philosophical or religious tendency among many others, but as “universal wisdom” capable of serving as a key to the most diverse philosophies and religions, as a common denominator. This idea of a meta-religious generalization became the most important notion of the Rosicrucian movement and, later, European Masonry (as shown by Yates). 

This universalism was substantiated by references to “Perennialism”, to the existence of some kind of exclusive instance in which all of world wisdom, independently of historical peripeteia, is present and preserved in its “paradisal”, primordial state. This “perennial wisdom”, Sophia, was the point of departure that allowed one to examine specific religions and philosophies as individual and historically conditioned constructs, thus laying claims to a universality transcending any and all individualities. This Sophia was knowable and, as follows, he who participated in her, loved her, and identified with her received access to “absolute knowledge.” Renaissance Humanism was therefore Sophiological. Sophia was treated as the Angel of humanity, the latter’s living and eternally present, eternally youthful archetype or eidos. 

It is by all means possible that European Modernity’s claims to the universalism of its values are to be sought in precisely this source. As Catholic ecumenism was abandoned, the cultural messianism of the West demanded new substantiation, and such was found in “Perennialism”: the new Europe, post-Medieval Europe, conceived itself to be the privileged region of the revealed, eternal Sophia, and on these grounds the Europeans of Modernity acquired their mandate to newly master and conquer the world, seeing themselves as not merely raptorial colonizers, but as the bearers of higher universal knowledge. This explains the special incandescence of the era of geographical discoveries and (Francis Bacon’s) call to discover Atlantis not only in the new colonies, but in the Old World itself. Thus, Renaissance Platonism and its corresponding Perennialism ought to be considered a most important factor in the formation of the structure of Modernity as a whole. The profane universalism of progressist and rationalist Europe has its roots in the sacred super-rationalism of the Renaissance Platonists oriented towards eternity and deep antiquity. 

The construct of Sophia 

The “constructivist” character of Renaissance Neoplatonism is obvious to us. We can easily trace how and on what sources it was constructed. The Hermetic Poimandres and Asclepius attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, as well as the cosmological and anthropological dialogues of Plato (the Timaeus, the Republic, the Laws, the Symposium, etc.) were taken to be universal and interpreted in the spirit of the Neoplatonic systematizations of Plotinus and his followers. Neoplatonism situated Sophia as its main content, its systematized philosophical hologram. And it is through this prism that other religions and philosophical systems were interpreted as individual cases of a generalized perennial(ist) paradigm. René Guénon acted in approximately the same manner as he employed a system of definite metaphysical, cosmological, and anthropological views to examine various traditions, religions, and the modern world itself as a denial of these views and, in its final phase (the opening of the egg from below) a parody of them. Not a single religion, theology, or philosophical system contains the paradigmatic matrix with which Guénon operated. But it is with the aid of this matrix, taken from somewhere else, that historical religions, theologies, and philosophers were altogether successfully treated and interpreted by him. Guénon based himself on the “Primordial Tradition”, sanātana dharma, or Sophia Perennis, and he drew his knowledge directly thither. The Renaissance Platonists acted in precisely the same way. 

With Sophia, both the Renaissance Platonists and Guénon in the 20th century deconstructed everything else. The very algorithm of their deconstructions was, in turn, represented by a construct: the construct of Sophia.

The “Dark Logos” of Neoplatonism

The artificial character of Renaissance Perennialism is rather transparent. But here the question should be posed: how does this Renaissance Platonism, which lies at the origins of 20th century Traditionalism, relate to the Platonism on which it was constructed? In other words, was this constructivist nature a quality of the Renaissance anticipating Modernity, or did the very material upon which Renaissance Sophiology was constructed lend any definite grounds to this approach and display any convergent qualities?

With regards to Neoplatonism (from Plotinus and Porphyry through Iamblichus to Proclus and Damascius), this is nearly obvious: Neoplatonism presented a construct developed on the basis of the main ideas of Plato, but in synthesis with other Hellenistic and Middle Eastern philosophical, religious, and mystical systems. This Neoplatonism was distinguished by its extraordinary inclusivity: it selectively incorporated Platonic re-interpretations of Aristotle (and accordingly, a re-thinking of the Stoa), Orphism, Pythagoreanism, Egyptian Hermetism, cults from Syria and Asia Minor (theurgy, the Chaldean Oracles), and Iranian dualist doctrines and Chaldean astrology. On the basis of Plato’s Parmenides and his main hypotheses, Proclus constructed an elaborate “Platonic theology” which was carried on and substantially re-interpreted by Damascius. The latter’s commentaries on the Timaeus thoroughly and in great detail described a synthetic cosmology built on the principle of noocentrism. 

The system that the late Neoplatonists of the Hellenistic era built with their open metaphysics and apophatic, dialectical Logos can, without a doubt, be fully considered to be an earlier version of the “Perennialism” which we encounter in the Renaissance. In Proclus’ works, particularly his exegeses, we can see the skeleton of all the later derivations of Neoplatonism, both religious and philosophical. His theories and methods can unmistakably be sensed in the Areopagites and, further, in the whole tradition of “mystical theology” which became so widespread in the West (from Scotus Eriugena to Meister Eckhart, Henry Suso, and Jakob Böhme) as well as in the East. We can find the dialectic of the uncreated One developed by Proclus in the works of the Islamic thinkers of Al-Falasifa, in Ibn Arabi and the Ishraq school, whereby it defined the dramatic picture of Ishmailite theology and eschatology. Moreover, the classical method of Kabbalistic interpretations of the Zohar and early Kabbalah fully reproduced Proclus’ fixation on certain words and phrases (and their numerological equivalents) in Plato’s dialogues which at other times seemed only secondary. Henry Corbin rightly noted that the Parmenides was for Proclus the Theogony, on the basis of which he would later develop his Platonic Theology. Plato’s Parmenides was a kind of Bible or Sacred Scripture for negative, Neoplatonic, apophatic theology.[5] Every word of Plato’s was subjected to detailed and comprehensive hermeneutics. The idea that Plato was the “sail” of the Divine became a Neoplatonic dogma in its own right.

Neoplatonism conceived itself to be a universal tradition on the basis of which one could interpret all existing religions and philosophical systems. It was the religion of the Logos, a noocentric cosmology and apophatic metaphysics claiming the ability to interpret any and all forms of polytheism, symbolism, and theurgic rites. Following the Greek Neoplatonists, this idea penetrated other religious environments as well, such as in the works of al-Farabi and Ibin Sina, the Sufis, the philosophers of the Ishraq school, the initiatic verses of Rumi and the diaries of Ruzbehan Baqli, to the synthetic doctrines of Haydar Amoli or Mulla Sadra. Something analogous can also be encountered in Kabbalah, as well as in Christian mysticism (with some reservations). Everywhere we look, we encounter the idea of Sophia Perennis and spiritual universalism, reproducing in one form or another the noocentric, and at times paradoxical and dialectical, “Dark Logos” of the Neoplatonists. This Logos is “dark” because it postulates the pre-existential nature of the Principial (the One), the vertical of the Logos is opened upwards, and because it constantly and repeatedly upturns the strict laws of Aristotelian reason with its foundational principles of triumph, denial, excluding the third. Instead of logical clarity, we are dealing here with a paradox, an aporia, or a super-rational ambiguity (amphibole) which is evasive, demanding of the high art of dialectics, and which leads the “philosopher” (whether the Sufi, the adept, or the initiate) through the dizzying chain of insights and initiations, upon each new link of which consciousness collapses and is recreated anew. 

Having established this state of affairs, we can easily extend the history of Renaissance Platonism and its Perennialist construct of Sophia even further back than a millennium. Gemistus Plethon and his Neoplatonic reform in Mystras on the eve of the fall of the Byzantine Empire can be seen as a link in the direct transmission of this tradition from the last Diadochi of the Athenian Academy expelled by Justinian, to Michael Psellos, to the unsuccessful Neoplatonist deemed heretic John Italus, and to the Florentine circle established by Marsilio Ficino around Prince Cosimo Medici. In addition to the Greek branch, we can also consider the “Islamic trace”, where the Dark Logos of apophatic “Platonic theology” became the common denominator of a wide range of different currents representing the heights of Muslim philosophy, theology, and culture. Another route ran through Jewish Kabbalah, which was structured according to the very same algorithm. Finally, in the Latin world, we can see the numerous streams of Hermeticism, alchemy, mysticism, as well as all Gnostic sects and millenarian currents (in the spirit of the doctrine of the Three Kingdoms of the Calabrian Joachim de Flore) which flowed into the revolutionary ocean of the Reanissance. Still further from the Renaissance, following Sedgwick and Yates and numerous other authors studying modern mystical and occult orders, lodges, and sects, we can trace the line of the dark Logos through even more reliable and well-researched material, from Giordano Bruno to the Rosicrucians, Masons, mystics, and the representatives of “occultism” among whom Guénon discovered it and laid it at the heart of his completely original and extremely influential Traditionalist philosophy. 

Thus, tracing the genesis of this construct of Sophia leads us to the history of the Logos  as it has unfolded in the periphery of Western European culture and, as Corbin has shown, in the center of the Islamic spiritual tradition (where the “Dark Logos” was not exclusive and one, but was adjacent to and sometimes sharply rivaled rationalist kalam, Asharite atomism, Fiqr, and Salafist purism). The difficult reception of Kabbalah in the Jewish world and its nearly full and final acceptance as a flawless orthodoxy make up yet another page in this history. Jewish Kabbalah fell into the sphere of interests of the Renaissance Neoplatonists, and in the works of Pico della Mirandola and Reuchlin (and later of Knorr von Rosenroth) we can detect the outlines of a project to establish a “Christian Kabbalah.” Further, once again through Masonry and Hermeticism, Kabbalah reached Fabre d’Olivet, Eliphas Lévi, Papus, Saint-Yves d’Alveydre, and Guénon himself. In Guénon and in his “revolutionary” Perennialism, all of these numerous streams come together to compose the most modern, capacious, and systematized worldview. 

Theory as Homeland

Now we are left with posing a final question, namely: To what extent did the Neoplatonists of the first centuries of our era create something completely unique and original out of the texts, ideas, and traditions associated with the name of Plato, and to what extent can we find something similar in the works of Plato himself? Here the works of the great scholar of Plato, Neoplatonism, and Hermeticism, the French curé André-Jean Festiègere, come to our aid.[6] Festiègere draws our attention to the meaning imbued in the notion of “Theory” (θεορία) in Plato’s era and in his own philosophy. Originally, this notion meant an “inspection”, “survey”, “contemplation”, “meditation”, or “observation.” In Ancient Greece, in philosophical milieus, it bore two subtle terminological nuances: 

  1. A “theory” was a survey of the cultures and societies of different peoples, among whom the philosopher should travel and dwell as part of his preparation for a new life (hence why we constantly read of the travels of philosophers to other countries: “traveling” is a purely philosophical occupation). 
  2. By analogy with the survey of different nations, societies, and their religious and ritual systems, a “theory” was a survey of different systems and ideological connections leading to a higher principle.

This connection between traveling and theoretical contemplation is extremely important. Theory is the contemplation of that which is different, taken to culminate in a common, universal model. Plato’s doctrine of ideas itself is directly associated with contemplation. The contemplation of ideas is active “theorizing”, or the distinguishing of common and unchanging paradigms as well as constantly changing phenomena. Just as the Hellenic philosophical traveler studies the religions and customs of different Mediterranean societies, seeks correspondences with the Greek religion and Greek traditions, establishes analogies and, when necessary, replenishes his own religious views and his language, so does the Hellenic philosopher contemplate ideas, the universals of the infinite order of things and phenomena. There are many societies, religions, and cults, and the contemplative traveler strives to deduce from his survey that which is common, that which he has already identified in the places he has been and in the new, still unknown countries and lands in which he finds himself. The case is strictly the same with immersion into the world of ideas and in the process of comparing them with the world of phenomena. Contemplation and theory are the construction of the common, the culmination of a model. 

In Plato, this acquires a distinct and salient character. Theory as construction is simultaneously illumination, enlightenment, and absorbing the rays of the Good. Ideas are indifferent to things, but they are not indifferent to those who strive to theorize, whom they passionately rush to meet, in excelsis. The field of theory thus transforms into the space of epiphany, where ideas are not only reflected, but acquire a specific being and are embodied in the theoretical existence of the philosopher. By traveling to temples and shrines to various gods and by being present at different rituals, the theoretician (the one who contemplates) prepares to meet with the real God for whom all the different gods of different cults serve as masks, names, and messengers (angels). In different rites and sacred ceremonies, the philosopher rushes to the main philosophical rite, the rite of rites, where the main realization to be accomplished is the discerned merger of the noetic cosmos with the aesthetic cosmos, the “fulfillment of all fulfillments”, the magical meeting of God with the raging sea of multiplicity. Later, this ritual of all rituals would be conceptualized by the Neoplatonists as theurgy. 

Plato’s Theory is therefore not simply a preparation for something – for political activism or sacred rites – but is a higher form of reality, the ultimate expression of concentrated praxis. Contemplation is thus the work of the gods, and is their blissful rest and the source of higher pleasure. Theory is the place where being, dispersed into multitude and elusive in difference, is tied together into the knot of intense concentration, finding in itself elastic unity and bright clarity. The contemplative philosopher stands above the priest and the king, for he rises to the zone of pure divinity, un-diluted by any additional functional burdens and completely free from multiplicity, both temporal (the change of moments) and spatial (the change of places). The culmination of this journey is the return to the philosophical Homeland, where there is no more time or relative forms. Theory is the Homeland. None other than nostalgia for it pushes the philosopher to travel through both countries and the networks of light-like ideas in search of the point of Sophia, whom the philosopher loves with all his being. 

This understanding of Theory illustrates how Plato’s philosophy was that very synthetic universalism which generalizes different philosophical systems and knowledge just as the traveler generalizes the experience of the societies he witnesses. Plato’s works therefore present not one point of view to one or another question, but always several; they become material for contemplation and, like steps, they lead to a higher synthesis. At the peak of this synthesis, ideas begin to live beyond the discursive Platonic text and reveal themselves directly to those who have followed Plato and the personages of his dialogues to the very end, where the stairs leading to the sky end. There dialogue ends, but theory does not. Now the philosopher must take one more step, this time without Plato and texts – this is the step of thought, the step of illumination, the step of contemplation. The step into the sky. Only there does real Platonism – the “secret doctrine” – begin. It has not been transmitted to anyone; it can only be discovered independently, through the sacred experience of theory.

Open Philosophy 

As the formulator of theory, as the guide to the geography of ideas, Plato created a consciously open philosophy, in which the main point is not uttered, but must be sought and experienced independently. Hence the term “philo-soph”, or “lover of Sophia”, of Wisdom. If the question at hand was simply who bears this Wisdom, we would be dealing with a closed system, that is, something individual. Wisdom cannot be learned, it is not a given. One can only break through to it upon enormous labor and at the cost of incredible efforts. Philosophy is the realm where minds and hearts gather together in passionately thirsting for Wisdom, whey they are fallen in love with Sophia and are excited contenders for her hand. No one has any guarantees. There is only Love. Led by Her, they embark on their journey, towards contemplation, towards theory. They settle in the vicinity of Sophia and inch ever closer to her. They seek the universal, and thereby themselves become more and more generalized, eidetic, and less and less individual. Philosophers construct themselves in the vicinity of Wisdom. Purifying themselves in Her rays, they reveal evermore distinct contours. 

In the case of Plato, this means that we are dealing with the Logos as such, for the Logos is in its nearly original form, is still undefined, and is open to being opened or closed, understood in one way or another, or conceived and outlined in one or another vector. In Plato, philosophy is the sharp impulse of nearing Sophia Perennis, the leap into the ocean of eternal light, it is contemplative and divine praxis. In this sense, philosophy is higher than religion and myth, insofar as religions and myths are but testimonies to the main actor – Saint Sophia. Therefore, Plato himself can be called a “Perennialist” and, correspondingly, a Traditionalist. It does not matter whether Plato adhered to Greek civil piety and offered sacrifices to the gods and heroes of his polis. Such was part of a much more important and significant philosophical cult: the cult of Sophia, the cult of the pure Logos. 

Plato as an Event

Let us pose the final question. Did “Perennialism”, Traditionalism, universalism, and the philosophical cult of Sophia all begin with Plato’s Theory? With his doctrine of ideas? With his Timaean cosmology? 

For Guénon and Traditionalists, such a personification would be a scandal. But upon fully recognizing Plato’s direct connection to the “Primordial Tradition”, Traditionalists would undoubtedly begin to see Plato as a link in the golden chain of initiates which stretches back to the dawn of creation, to the earthly paradise, and which has become increasingly difficult to access, closed, and exclusive in our time, the Kali Yuga, the “end times”, the era of the “great parody.” Traditionalists understand “perennialism” literally and even somewhat naively. Such can by all means be seen as a symmetrical response to the just as literal and even more naive historicism which predominates in Modernity. Yet in the vicinity of eternity, “before” and “after”, “now” and “then” are not so important. Indeed, they have no meaning. What is important is what. Plato, like Zarathustra in Iran, might have been both an historical figure and a sacred personage, like al-Khidr or the Angel-Initiator. Perhaps there are multiple Platos. And this means that Plato’s spirit can be called upon (as Plotinus did in the temple of Isis); he can be appealed to. His return can be awaited, for there is no irreversibility in eternity. In eternity, everything is reversible – everything has even already been reversed. In the most rationalized form, one could accept that Plato merely transmitted knowledge that he had acquired along the chain of initiation, and in this sense was their ordinary re-translator who became world famous only by virtue of the importance of the truths he voiced, as a kind of philosophical prophet. 

Yet Plato can be approached in other ways as well, for example, as an Event in the spirit of the Heideggerian Ereignis. This would distance us from both the “Perennialists” and the “historicists.” Plato happened and philosophy happened. Sophia was designated and the philosophical geography was marked. If this was supposed to have happened, then it would have happened no matter what – whether by way of Plato or someone else, should we be reproached on this matter. But perhaps it would be better to think differently: if Plato did not exist, there would be nothing else. In particular, there would be no notes in the margins of his texts. There would be no philosophy. If Plato was in fact divine, then he cannot be subordinated to any mechanical necessity. Nothing can oblige him to be. Further, if he had not risked everything to become Plato, his philosophy would have been negligible. Thus, Sophia might not have been. Or in other words: instead of Sophia, instead of the secret bride of the order of lovers, something else could have been revealed to Plato.

Plato’s exceptionality (although perhaps this is just as wrong and does not correspond to the truth) is more existentially attractive and productive than his link in the chain, even if it is the golden one. Plato’s divinity lies in that he was human.

Modern Traditionalism is, of course, more adequate than profane academic philosophy and is more prosperous than Post-Modernity. But all the signs of Traditionalism’s transformation into a convention, a routine, into a “scholasticism”, of its conscious quenching of any living movement of the soul or heart, are glaring. Here it is discovered that “Perennialism” is a construct and always was such from the very beginning. The appeal of a Traditionalist towards really existing tradition decides nothing, just as Plato’s reverence for his paternal gods did not exhaust his philosophy. 

Traditionalism is something other than tradition. It is a breakthrough to that which is the tradition of traditions, the secret grain, the theory. But being a theory, a construct, it needs to be continuously recreated. A construct is not so bad if the matter at hand is something rooted in the light nature of man himself. By creating, man creates himself. Therefore, Traditionalism must either happen or disappear. Its claims are too enormous and its bar has been set too high by Guénon and the Sophiologists on whom he constructed his doctrine. “Perennialism” means that Sophia is Perennis: she is here and now. But how can we relate the fact of the Kali Yuga, our God-forsaken “now” and the dustbin of the modern Western-centric global world, our vile, desolate “here”, with the rays of the Angel-Initiator, the light of Great Love, and the nature of man as a winged divine being? The Gnostics offered a dualist answer which often seems to be the only one acceptable and applicable to us. But is this not simply a recognition of our own weakness, of our own personal inability to transform the “Cover” into the “Mirror”, Absence into Presence, apophany into epiphany, and occultation into revelation? Is this not the signature on the warrant for the death of the Logos, the insuperability of Western nihilism, or the recognition of the closed, self-referential world to be the only possible and real? 

Traditionalists frequently speak of the “great parody” that is the modern world. This is true, but are they themselves not a parody? After all, not only Guénon, but the Neoplatonists, and Plato himself can all be parodied. 

The discrepancies between Traditionalism and Heidegger did not hinder Henry Corbin from engaging Neoplatonism in Islam with love and delicate refinement over the course of his life. Such is the behavior of a living person who responds to Sophia’s whisper no matter where it resounds.

Today this whisper is more silent than ever. But it cannot be so quiet as to be indistinguishable at all. We must learn to listen to silence, for silence sometimes conveys extremely meaningful things. 

 

Footnotes:

[1] Mark Sedgwick, Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[2] Frances Yates, The Art of Memory (Saint Petersburg: 1997); Ibidem., The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (Moscow: Aleteia, Enigma, 1999); Ibidem., Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2000). 

[3] Réné Alleau, De Marx à Guénon: d’une critique ‘radicale’ à une critique ‘principielle’ des societés modernes (Paris, Les dossiers H., 1984).

[4] Some aspects of this question have already been treated in Alexander Dugin, Postfilosofiia (Moscow: Eurasian Movement, 2009).

[5] Henry Corbin, Le paradoxe du monothéisme (Paris, 1981).

[6] André-Jean Festugière, Contemplation et vie contemplative selon Platon (Saint Petersburg: Nauka, 2009).

Mysteries of Eurasia: Continent Russia

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

Chapter 1 of Mysteries of Eurasia (Moscow, Arktogeya: 1991/1999)

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The country within

Land-masses hold symbolic meanings which are as much linked with cultural stereotypes as with real-life experiences. Europe holds different meanings for the European who lives there, for the American who originated from it, for the African who is freeing himself from its influence, for the Pacific islander, and so on. Stereotypes of the continents have not remained purely and simply products of cultures born of more or less accurate knowledge, more or less lively feelings and more or less clear awareness. They have sunk into the unconscious with so strong an emotional charge as will emerge in dreams or in spontaneous reactions, often linked with unconscious racism. At this point a continent will no longer represent one of the Earth’s five land-masses, but will symbolize a world of images, emotions and desires. For example, Dr Verne has clearly shown in the analysis of one of his patients’ dreams that she did not regard Asia as a memory of, goal of, or desire for intercontinental travel, but as a symbol of ‘the return to something holy, to the world of the absolute, the mystery of out of the body experience, the way towards the oneness which bears the message of the true and real’. Asia had become an inner continent, like Africa, Oceania, or Europe. These continents and what they symbolize will differ from person to person. This inner dimension may fasten upon any place, be it town or locality; what is important is to know what it means to each individual, what images, feelings, emotions, and prejudices it carries, since these comprise the subjective truth of the symbol. Geography generates as much geosociology and geoculture as it does geopolitics.”[1]

Such is the content of the entry “Continent” from the French Dictionary of Symbols by Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant. We have permitted ourselves to give such a long quotation in full since it immediately defines the plane upon which our study will unfold. Often amidst a rise of national feeling and even racism, and in flashes of patriotism among different peoples, irrational elements stand out on the surface which, at first glance, cannot be explained by logical reasoning or an analysis of egotistical motives behind such an ideological complex. The awakening of national, racial, or continental memory often occurs without any external reason. Deep archetypes of the unconscious simply and suddenly burst and, like a chain reaction, awaken the whole complex of a collective worldview that seemed to be long gone. Examples of this include the stability of Celtic-Irish, Jewish, Korean, African, and Japanese nationalisms which continue to live and grow despite all the social and historical preconditions objectively contributing to their extinction.

In principle, this is exactly the same case with the “enigma of Russian patriotism.” Mystical Russia, the “White India” of Klyuev, the “Holy Rus” which Yesenin set above Paradise and which Tyutchev equated to a religious principle in which one has to believe – imagine how absurd “Holy Australia” or “Faith in the Czech Republic” would sound! – is undoubtedly a deep reality of national psychology, an “Inner Continent” synthesizing in itself the worldview of a giant nation. The memory of “Continent Russia” may lurk and sleep in the depths of consciousness for many long years, but sooner or later it will come to life and, when the time of Awakening arrives, it will become a storm, a vortex, a scream.

However, the psychological reality of “Inner Russia,” in order to be effective and specified, should have an archetypal structure fully corresponding to objective historical processes and geographical areas. In this way, it is not merely a passive reflection of the external, but a paradigm which forms and structures the surrounding temporal and spatial space. In this regard, the famous historian of religions, Mircea Eliade, keenly observed: “Nature is something determined by culture (culturalmente condizionata); some of the ‘laws of nature’ vary depending on what the peoples of this or that culture understand by ‘nature.’”[2]

Russian Sweden

What is the archetypal structure of “Inner Russia?” On what is the concept of “Holy Rus” based? What are the origins of the complex of the imperial God-bearing people? We can find traces of this ancient tradition in the linguistic archetypes that date back to the formation of Indo-European unity and which, with remarkable resistance, are preserved in toponyms, myths, legends, and even in the ordinary correspondences between symbols and words. In addition, this entire complex of purely religious symbolism is closely linked with this ancient tradition. Otherwise, the baptism of Rus could not have happened so harmoniously and easily. The totality of Christian doctrine, in its ritualistic and symbolic paradigm, is consistent with the logic of older cults which were not abolished but transformed by Christianity into a new synthetic unity. The cycles of Russian lives and the specifics of Russian Orthodoxy present us with thousands of pieces of evidence of this. One canonical example of this is the summer festival of the prophet Elijah, who became the Orthodox expression of the old Aryan “god” of thunder, sky, and light, Il (from the same root of the ancient Russian word for “sun,”, solntse, which in old Aryan means “good light”).[3] Let us consider some aspects of the archetypal combinations which define the logic of the Russian national mentality. We will start with the concept of “Holy Rus.”

It is curious to note that evidently long before the arrival of the Slavs to the territory of Russia, the region of the Southern Russian steppes from the Black Sea to the south of the Urals was named by the Aryans inhabiting it “Dwelling of the Gods – Great Sweden” or “Cold Sweden,” and only much later did this shift with the Germanic tribes to Scandinavia, which became “Dwelling of people – Little Sweden.” The sacred rivers of the ancient Aryans flowed into this “Great Sweden”: the Don (Tanaksvil or Vanaksvil – “the branch of the river where the Vanir live”) and the Dnieper (Danapru or, in Greek, Borisphen). The very Russian word for Sweden, Shvetsiia – Sweden, Suetia – most likely meant “bright, white, luminous.” And this Indo-European root szet is possibly, and quite logically, etymologically similar to the Russian word for holy, svyaty. In addition, the Hindu tradition to this day still remembers Śveta-dvīpa, the “White Island” or “White Continent” lying to the North of India.

In most cases, Śveta-dvīpa meant the symbolic island of Vārāhī, the place where the Hindus’ ancestors originally resided at the North Pole. By analogy, it is appropriate to transfer this name to the territory of the temporary settlement of the Aryans before their migration to India. That the ancestors of the Hindus – the carriers of the Vedantic tradition in its earlier form – lived for a certain period of time on the territory of what is now Southern Russia is confirmed by modern archaeological excavations. Therefore, the light, white holy country was associated in ancient times with the Russian lands, a view which could take deep root in the consciousness of peoples, such as the Aryans, contact between whom was maintained even after their linguistic and traditional unity was destroyed, as well as other indigenous paleo-Asiatic peoples who on more than one occasion have demonstrated the unique capacity to preserve the mythological complexes which they received from the Indo-Europeans for entire millennia.

The second component of the combination of “Holy Rus” is the very name “Rus.” One of the most likely and acceptable etymological interpretations of this word is the Aryan root ros (compared with German rot, Latin russus, French rouge, English red, and Sanskrit rohita) which means red, ginger, or pink. It is entirely unimportant if Russia was named after a Slavic or Scandinavian tribe. The main point is that, on a subconscious level, red is closely associated with Russia, and was one of the favorite colors of the Russian princes, and the very Russian word krasny, besides denoting the color red, in the ancient Slavic language meant “beautiful”, “distinguished,” etc. It is also curious that another Russian word for designating the color red is chermny, which is etymologically close to the word cherny for black. In ancient Indian, the root krisna also meant “black” and “beautiful.” It cannot be ruled out that this etymological connection was somehow imprinted in language associations and in half-effaced semantic structures of linguistic thinking lending the meaning of the word red a kind of semi-conscious connection with the word black (i.e., “distinguished,” “clearly defined,” etc.). If we combine these two lines, then we see that the concept of “Holy Rus” might be translated into the colorful symbolic dyad: “white – red” or even “light – dark.” And, not incidentally, the combination of “white-red” was one of the most common among Russian princely heraldry, national costumes, ornaments, paintings, etc.

Khvarenah – Royal happiness

One of the most significant aspects of “Inner Russia” was the sacred mission of the Russian monarch. Holy Rus always had its sacred center. Just as it had its capital (first Kiev, then Moscow), it also had a living and personified pole of national sanctity: the Tsar, the Anointed by God. Interestingly enough, some of the Turkic peoples preserved the tradition of venerating the Russian monarch up into the 18th century. For example, the Buryats believed Catherine to be the incarnation (embodiment) of the White Tara, one of the greatest Bodhisattvas of Lamaism. Such  universal importance assigned to the monarchy within the framework of the Empire once again shows that Russia has never recognized itself to be something purely ethnic. By contrast, she is a reality of a higher level, a reality of the geosacred Tradition in which different peoples had their proper place. Therefore, the Russian White Tsar was simultaneously the Tsar of all ethnoi inhabiting the Empire.

The Russian monarchical tradition began, as is known, with the calling of Rurik from the Varangians to kingship over a group of Slavic and Finno-Ugric tribes. In the later period, descent from the first prince Rurik was the spiritual and genealogical justification of royal authority, its legitimacy and sacred legality. This tradition was so persistent and deep, so self-evident and absolute in Russians’ understanding, that it simply could not have been inconsistent with the indigenous archetypes of ancient forms of consciousness which, although moved into the sphere of the unconscious, nevertheless did not lose their efficiency and validity. In our opinion, the calling of Rurik from among the Varangians was seen as a great, nationwide mystery embodying in itself the script of the supernatural origin of royal power that is characteristic of all ancient, traditional dynasties.

Let us try to clarify the sacred underpinnings of this mystery which confirmed the sacred-dynastic center in the space of “Inner Russia.” First of all, we can refer to Zoroastrianism, in which the mystical side of royal power was elaborated in detail and had a significant impact on the structure of the consciousness of the peoples who have inhabited the ancient Russian lands. Zoroastrians believed that the emperor has a special, more than merely given, right to rule. This sanction is embodied in the possession of a light-bringing force – Khvarenah. Khvarenah (or farn) is a condensed light energy which renders a person equal to a god. The symbol of Khvarenah was traditionally believed to be the falcon Vargan and sometimes the ram. On the other hand, Khvarenah was identified with the element of fire, which only naturally strives upwards towards heaven. Every Iranian king had his own personal fire symbolizing the possession of Khvarenah.

If we return to Rurik, called from among the Varangians to kingship, we see that he etymologically embodies this entire complex of Zoroastrian ideas (and apparently, some common Aryan ones). Rurik, in Scandinavian, means “falcon,” that is, the predominant symbol of Khvarenah. In addition, the word rurik is startlingly close to the Old Church Slavonic rarog, i.e., “fire” or “spirit of fire” (in fact, the old Church Slavonic rarog also meant “falcon”). With the baptism of Rus, Tsar Rurik also became anointed by God, endowed with the power of Christ, and referred to as the “Lamb.” Thus, the idea of the Christian monarch was the spiritual development and sacred confirmation of the ancient monarchical tradition perceiving the calling of Rurik as a nationwide acquisition of heavenly blessing, or Khvarenah. In this case, as in many others, Christianity did not abolish, but rather exalted and confirmed the ancient, pre-Christian faith.

Now about the Varangians. Without entering into the debates over the ethnic identity of this tribe (which is unimportant for us), we will try to identify the symbolic meaning of this name. Zoroastrianism once gave us some keys, so we turn to it once again. The word “Varangian”, in terms of sound and possibly also in terms of origin, is close to the name of the Zoroastrian god Varhorn (or Verethragna). Varhorn is one of the seven supreme “gods” of Mazdaism, the god of victory. It was none other than this god who was believed to be the fundamental carrier and bearer of Khvarenah, and he was traditionally associated with the falcon Vargan (compare: vargan, varingr, i.e., varyag which is Russian for “Varangian” or “viking”), as his constant companion or even his incarnation. Thus, the Varangians, in addition to their historical specificity, could represent some kind of symbolic meaning, the embodiment of full Khvarenah, royal happiness, one precious part of which – Rurik-Falcon – descended, like manna, on the grace-hungry tribes. But the mythological, etymological chain doest not end there. The word varyag is also quite comparable with the Sanskrit root svar, or “sky,” “sunlight,” (in fact, it is also very close to the Persian hvar from which Khvarenah is derived). It is possible that the Russian word for north, sever, is also related to svar, as the North was considered to be of a “heavenly, divine orientation” by the ancient Aryan peoples. Therefore, the correlation between the Varangians, the North and the sky perfectly corresponds to the very mysterious logic of the calling of the first Tsar.

It is possible to go still further. Varharn is the Persian equivalent of the Sanskrit word vritra-han, i.e. “Slayer of Vritra,” the epithet of the Heavenly Tsar, the god Indra. Indra is the Hindu archetype of all kings, who dwells and is found, according to traditional Hindu cosmography, in the sky – svar. The very name “Indians” and “Hindi” is by all means likely the theophoric (god-bearing) name of the “people of Indra,” and therefore a god-bearing people. The Varangians, for their part, as one of the Indo-European tribes, could have essentially been the theophoric people of Vargan or Vergarn-Veretragna, i.e., essentially the same as Indra, the “Slayer of Vritra.” Nor can it be excluded that the distant echoes of these mythological correspondences, living on in the depths of the national unconscious, gave rise to the concept of Russia as the “White India” among poets of a folk-mystical orientation, such as Klyuev and Yesenin. The Russian monarchical emblem, the Byzantine, two-headed eagle, can also be compared to Falcon-Rurik, the carrier of the magical power of Khvarenah. Another curious detail is that Moscow, the capital of the Russian state and the seat of the Russian Tsar, has as its emblem St. George slaying a serpent (the emblem of Prince Yuri Dolgoruky). Varharn (the god of Khvarenah) is first and foremost the god of victory, and St. George is also the victory-bearer. In addition, the very name Varharn-Veretragna, as we said above, means “Snake-Slayer,” or “Slayer of Vritra,” and St. George is usually depicted as killing the Serpent. It is also characteristic that Iranian mythology contains a number of tales depicting a struggle between a solar hero (Kersaspa, Traeton, etc.) and a Serpent or Dragon, the conflict of which is over the right to possess the mystical power of Khvarenah, a right for which the opponents challenge each other. Thus, the combination of these symbols in the coat of arms of the capital – the residence of the Tsar – along with the eagle as the symbol of Russia in general, yield the paradigm of the ancient structure of the monarchical mystery.

Another traditional symbol of royal authority and the state is the orb mounted with a cross – the symbol of the earth in ancient astrological texts. The state of the Russian Tsar, naturally, is identified with the Russian land. And here once again we are talking about “Inner Russia,” which we spoke about in the beginning. It is especially important that in the national sacred tradition, it is precisely the Tsar, the Anointed by God, the messenger of heaven, and the bearer of supernatural fire, who protects and keeps in his hands a gigantic land (hence the title “autocrat” from the seven secret saints of the Christian tradition on whom the whole weight of the world rests).

All of Russian history is permeated with the deepest understanding of the sacred role of the Tsar. This understanding contributed to a much more religious relationship between the Orthodox and the monarch than that seen between the Catholics and their kings.[4] Moreover the Orthodox idea of the Tsar sharply differs on a theological level from the corresponding Catholic concept. In Russia, there was never a division between purely spiritual life, subordinated to the spiritual hierarchy, and purely secular life, subordinated to kings, as in the case of the Catholic West. In the idea of Holy Russia and Tsarist Russia, all levels of the sacred way of life are combined. The Church, as the spirit of Russia, did not set itself above the Tsar, but recognized his supernatural and legal authority, and gave blessing to his power, without which the state would have lost its sacred pole. Thus, the “inner continent,” Russia, had its “inner center,” the sacred monarch. Their merging (their symbolic hierosgamos) accounts for the specific Russian fate and the deep dimension of Russian history.

The mystery of the pole

Now we would like to mention a study by the French Traditionalist Gaston Georgel devoted to historical cycles and the logic of the cultural development of ancient civilizations, which bears direct relevance to our topic. Georgel’s book under consideration is called Rhythms in History.[5] In this extremely interesting work, there is a small section which examines the patterns of the movement of the centers of this or that ancient civilization around the Eurasian continent. Without delving into the essence of the author’s interpretation of certain patterns, we will simply provide the facts which are given and which have direct relevance to “Inner Russia.” Studying the geographical location of the centers of ancient civilization, Georgel noted one astonishing peculiarity. Starting with Elam (around 4,000 B.C.) and finishing in our times, we can observe a shift of certain cultures from East to West. Georgel endeavored to draw a single line connecting the ancient center of Elamite civilization, located not far from the town of Kelat, the ancient Sumerian city of Ur, Greek Athens, and French Paris. The result exceeded all expectations.

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The arc connecting these centers turns out to divide them almost exactly into sectors of 30 degrees. According to the author’s notes, at exactly 30 degrees along the eclipse, the point of vernal equinox moves over a period of time equal to 2,160 years, that is, the time separating the epochs of these cultures is 4,000 years up to Elam, 2,000 up to Ur, a bit more than 2,000 years ago to Athens and, finally, to the contemporary “capital of Europe”, Paris. The arch extending over the East at 30 degrees leads to the location of the capital of Tibet, Lhasa, and the same arc of the same curvature, merely belonging to a circle of a larger radius, connects Jerusalem and Rome. But where does the center of this circle reside? Here once again is a strange thing: it lies at the intersection of the Meridian at 60 degrees east of the Arctic circle, i.e., on the territory of Russia, North of the Ural mountains (let us note that Moscow is located near to the radius which connects Athens with the center of the circle). It is with this, in fact, that Georgel ends his account.

We can go one step further and point to even more bizarre patterns. It is generally known  that the line of the North Pole is the projection of the circle of the celestial sphere, along which the North Pole of the World shifts (due to a phenomenon termed in astronomy the precession of equinoxes) around the pole of the eclipse. But if the celestial sphere is stationary, then the globe rotates in space relative to it, or more precisely, relative to the eclipse plane which is identical to the plane of the orbital rotation of the earth at 23.5 degrees. This shift of 23.5 degrees is fixed on the line of the Arctic circle. If we compare the point of the North Pole of the earth with the current north star – Alpha Ursae Minoris – then the center of the eclipse, and hence the true pole of the sky (the most immobile of all, as the earth’s axis makes a circle around it over a vast period of time – 25,960 years), will be projected on the line of the Arctic circle. But how can we determine which exact point?

Here the first globes of the Renaissance era come to our aid, on which at the same angle of 23.5 degrees, a projection of the eclipse inclined towards the earth’s equator and marking respectively the northern Tropic of Cancer and the southern Tropic of Capricorn was marked. What is important is on what meridian the projection of the sign of Capricorn is placed, which then allows one to logically determine the order of the projection of constellations on the globe, as well as to find in the Arctic circle the point corresponding to the center of the eclipse. All old maps and globes answer this question unambiguously: on the basis of late Medieval and Renaissance geographical knowledge, the sign of Capricorn, the southernmost point of the eclipse, is projected on the meridian which passes through the Ural mountains (the Ripheans, as the Greeks called them), the symbolic border between Europe and Asia. On this very meridian, 60 degrees East longitude, Gaston Georgel conducted his study of the geography of ancient civilizations! This means that the pole of the eclipse, the true celestial pole, when projected onto the globe, corresponds to the pole of the circle around which the focus of civilizations shifts over millennia.

 

screen-shot-2018-07-26-at-12.22.07-pm.pngIf today we are now capable of making similarly logical inferences on the basis of an elementary knowledge of astronomy and geography, then why should it be excluded that the  ancients, holding such knowledge (this is proven by a swathe of modern research on the ancient observatories of the Chinese, Sumerian, Celtic, and other traditions), and not being burdened by technocratic and agnostic prejudices, were perfectly well aware of the correlations between the earth and the sky, and built on these correspondences their sacred geography and the logic of their sacred history? It is most likely that the completeness of this synthetic knowledge gradually drifted into the realms of mental archetypes, fairy tales, fables, and legends, manifesting itself most openly in especially rotary periods in the history of mankind.

Russians and Hyperboreans

This French Traditionalist’s empirical discovery of the hypothetical pole of civilizations might help explain not only a number of enigmatic facts of humanity’s past, but also yield the keys to understanding one of the most strange secrets of our time – the secret of “Russian patriotism”, which can in no way be reduced to the banal nationalism of a particular ethnic group. “Russian patriotism,” in its deepest dimension, is universal and “pan-human” has F.M. Dostoevsky said, himself connected with the “inner continent,” with the central continent located in the vicinity of the fixed point of the “wheel of life,” the circle of the wandering human soul. And perhaps it is only appropriate that the city closest to the point of this Northern center was the city of Inta, which is similar to the name of the Peruvian sun god Inti and the Aryan Indra. Moreover, if we project celestial constellations onto land on the basis of the above-mentioned correlations, then our center, as well as the center of the eclipse, falls on the constellation of the Dragon, the eternal enemy of Indra and the “sun gods” of victory.

Interestingly enough, the abode of Indra in Hinduism is believed across various accounts to be in the North-East, and the name of Indra’s elephant, Airavata, coincides with the Jain name of the northernmost countries on earth. But this land, as we have already said, was also called Varahi, i.e., “land of the Wild Boar,” which precisely corresponds to the Greek root bor, i.e., “North”, the country of Hyperborea (“lying in the Far North”), the abode of the Sun of Apollo, who is also a “dragon slayer.” It is no coincidence that Ancient Greek sources tell of the Hyperboreans sending symbolic gifts of wheat to Delphi via the Scythian and more Northern Russian lands. It is curious that the word varahi reminds us also of varyagi, i.e., the legendary people who gave the Russians the sacred monarch.

In legends of the Hyperboreans, the “herbal” nature of their gifts, such as ears of wheat, is always emphasized. The ancient tradition believed that agriculture was the most important ancient occupation of people, prior to livestock breeding. The metaphysical view of the ancients on this reflects a fundamental peace and fixation (the sedentariness of farmers) which is put above dynamism and variability (nomadism and pastoralism). Moreover, the most characteristic occupation of Russians has always been agriculture. In this regard, the following fact is of interest: one of the old names for the Slavs in general was vene or Venety, as was one of the names of one of the Slavic tribes. And to this day, the Estonians and Finns still call Russians vene. In all of this it is impossible not to notice the obvious parallels with the Vanir of the Nordic sagas. The Vanir are the group of gods engaged in agriculture (in contrast to the nomads and pastoralists of the Aesir), who embody the traits of sacred peace-loving and, according to the ancient sagas, inhabited the lower reaches of the Dnieper and the Don. Here it is appropriate to recall that one of the favorite and most frequent Russian names is Ivan. Although the latter is derived from the Hebrew name John, it can be assumed that the self-designation of the Slavs survived in this Christian form. Moreover, there is a peculiar symbolic coincidence between the gospels’ tale about the head of John the Baptist and the ancient Germanic myths of the Vanir and the head of the giant Mimir, which the Vanir cut off and sent to the Aesir. This same story of beheading is central in the life of John the Baptist. Just as Odin, the leader of the Aesir, enlivens the severed head of Mimir, which foretells him of the beginning of the Final Judgement (Ragnarokr), so do the Christian parables tell us of the miraculous finding of the talking head of John the Baptist. Here it should be added that the warning of the Final Judgement from the head of Mimir is a direct parallel to the eschatological warning of the prophet John about the coming of the Messiah.

In our opinion, all of this can be explained by the existence of a united, primordial mythological complex that was rooted in the Indo-European peoples in primordial times. Historical outbreaks of this complex are always correlated with certain cyclical patterns and certain territories. The “inner continents” and their mythologies could slip across the planet together with their tribes, their bearers. They could be clearly fixed at certain places of the earth. They could be transferred from people to people. And finally, they could be integrated into different religious structures, thereby composing the archetypal unity of traditions. For us, the most important in all of this is identifying the specific logic of the archetypal tradition and its spiritual and symbolic content. The ethnoi which in this or that period became bearers of this Tradition soak in it, turning into theophoric (god-bearing) or idea-bearing ethnoi, thus becoming the earthly body of some kind of heavenly entity, a living idea, or an archangel.

Whatever might be the fleeting historical reasons behind the sacred association of these lands, and whatever peoples might have inhabited them, “Inner Russia” was, in its deepest dimension, identified with “earthly paradise”, with the territories of the Golden Age and, moreover, the symbolism of Hyperborea, Varahi, and the Vanir-Ivan tillers. Across the most different traditions, “Inner Russia” is constantly associated with none other than the ancient homeland of the free, immortal ancestors. To speak of a “national identity” of Paradise is quite ridiculous. It is for this reason that every upsurge in the unconscious archetypes of “mystical patriotism” in the Russian people has never been comparable to any ordinary, small nationalism. The Russians themselves call “Russians” all those who are in solidarity with them in their deep intuition of the sacrality of the lands upon which they live. This fundamentally distinguishes Russians from other peoples and, in particular, from other Slavs, who are much more soberly and rationally conscious of national boundaries. Although something of the sort has always been characteristic of truly imperial peoples, in Russia this was and is revealed in a special form with a special force.

Mystical Russia

Let us draw a few conclusions:

The self-consciousness of the peoples and nations traditionally inhabiting the territory of Russia is fundamentally connected with the specific, sacred geography of this territory.

In the complex of sacred geography, the lands of Russia occupy a central place in accordance with the ancient logic of astronomical and astrological correlations.

Consciousness of the uniqueness of Russia from the perspective of sacred geography largely determines the mystery of “Russian patriotism.”

“Russian patriotism” is imbued with a cosmic fate and is not only a fact of history. He who lives and learns Russia lives and learns the secret bequeathed to distant generations of ancestors who fought under the banner of Alexander the Great, galloped across the steppes among Tatar cavalry, worshipped the the Son of God in Byzantium, lit the sacred fires on the altars of Ahura-Mazda, listened to the teachings of the druids under the oaks of Europe, beheld in spiritual ecstasy the eternal dance of Shiva-Nataraja, built the ziggurats of Assyria, destroyed Carthage, and sailed the seas in boats with the curved neck of the Hyperborean Swan at the nose, always remembering the Heart of the World, the “golden heart of Russia” (Nikolai Gumilev) and “Mystical Russia.”

We are approaching an important spiritual milestone. Global forces are stretched to the limit, and in many ways the fate of our country today determines the fate of the planet. Therefore, it is important to break through to the depths of the sacrality of Russia and its prehistoric roots in order to understand its strange and sorrowful path, and to muster strength for the revival of this Holy Country and the rebirth of Continent Russia together with its secret, permafrost-covered center.

 

***

Footnotes:

[1] Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, The Dictionary of Symbols (London: Penguin, 1996), 233.

[2] Mircea Eliade, L’épreuve de labyrinthe. Paris, 1985.

[3] See Alexander Dugin, The Metaphysics of the Gospel, Chapter 36.

[4]  From a theological point of view, there exists a huge difference between Tsar, King, and Prince. The Tsar is the Emperor, the Basileus, the head of the church-going Orthodox Empire who unites under his reign a number of countries, kingdoms, and principalities. The principle of the Emperor-Tsar is associated not only with temporal power but also with the mystery of “Katechon,” “the one who withholds,” while royal dignity belongs to an ontologically different, lower, secular and administrative level.

[5] Gaston Georgel, Les rythmes dans l’Histoire. Belfort, 1937.

 

 

© Jafe Arnold – All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without expressed permission.