Alexander Dugin: “From Sacred Geography to Geopolitics”

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translators: Jafe Arnold and John Stachelski 

Chapter 7 of Mysteries of Eurasia (Moscow: Arktogeia, 1991) / Chapter 6/Part 6/Book I of Foundations of Geopolitics (Moscow, Arktogeia, 2000). 

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Geopolitics as an “Intermediary” Science

Geopolitical concepts have long been the most important factor in modern politics. These concepts are based on general principles which allow one to readily analyze the situation of any country and any individual region. 

In the form in which it exists today, geopolitics is undoubtedly a worldly, “profane”, secularized science. However, among all other modern sciences, it is geopolitics which has preserved the greatest connection to Tradition and the traditional sciences.  René Guénon said that modern chemistry is the product of the desacralization of the traditional science of alchemy, just as modern physics has its origins in magic. Exactly in the same way, one could say that that modern geopolitics is the product of the secularization and desacralization of another traditional science, that of sacred geography. Since geopolitics occupies a peculiar place among modern sciences and is often ranked as a “pseudo-science”, its profanation is not nearly as complete and irreversible as in the case of chemistry or physics. Geopolitics’ relation to sacred geography is rather distinctly visible in this sense. Therefore, we can say that geopolitics occupies an intermediary place between traditional science (sacred geography) and profane science. 

Land and Sea

The two essential concepts of geopolitics are Land and Sea. It is these two elements  – Land and Water – that lie at the root of humans’ qualitative imagination of earthly space. In experiencing land and sea, earth and water, man enters into contact with the fundamental aspects of his existence. Land is stability, gravity, fixity, space as such. Water is mobility, softness, dynamism and time.

These two elements are, in their essence, the most obvious manifestations of the material nature of the world. They stand outside of man: everything is heavy and fluid. They are also inside him: in the body and blood. The same is the case at the cellular level.

The universality of the experiences of earth and water yields the traditional concept of the Firmament, since the presence of the Higher Waters (the source of rain) in the sky also implies the presence of a symmetric and necessary element – earth, land, the celestial vault. All together, Earth, Sea and Ocean are in essence the major categories of earthly existence, and it is impossible for mankind not to see in them some of the foundational attributes of the universe. As the two basic terms of geopolitics, they preserve their significance for both civilizations of a traditional kind and for exclusively modern states, peoples and ideological blocs. At the level of global geopolitical phenomena, Land and Sea generate the terms Thalassocracy and Tellurocracy, i.e., “power by means of sea” and “ power by means of land” – Sea Power and Land Power. 

The strength of any state or empire is based upon the preferential development of one of these categories. Empires are either thalassocratic, or tellurocratic. The former implies the existence of a mother country and colonies, the latter a capital and provinces on “common land.” In the case of thalassocracy, its territory is not unified into one land space, which creates an element of discontinuity. The sea is both the strength and weakness of thalassocratic power. Tellurocracy, on the contrary, boasts the quality of territorial continuity.

Geographical and cosmological logic at once complicate this seemingly simple model of division: the pair of “land-sea”, by reciprocal superimposition of its elements, gives birth to the ideas of “maritime land” and of “land-water”. The maritime-land is an island, i.e., the base of maritime empire, the pole of thalassocracy. “Land-water” or water within land means rivers, which predetermine the development of overland empires. On the river we find the city, the capital, the pole of tellurocracy. This symmetry is symbolic, economic and geographical all at once. It is important to note that the statuses of Island and Continent are defined not so much on the basis of physical magnitude as by the peculiarities of the consciousness typical of their populations. Thus, the geopolitics of the US is of an island nature despite the dimensions of North America, whereas the island of Japan geopolitically represents the continental mentality, etc.

One more detail is relevant: historically, thalassocracy is linked to the West and the Atlantic Ocean, whereas tellurocracy is associated with the East and the Eurasian continent. The above-mentioned example of Japan is explained, thus, by the stronger “attractive” effect of Eurasia.

Thalassocracy and Atlanticism became synonyms long before the colonial expansion of Great Britain or Portuguese and Spanish conquests. Long before the first sea migration waves, the peoples of the West and their cultures had already begun their shift to the East from their centers located in the Atlantic. The Mediterranean was also mastered from the Gibraltar to the Middle East, and not the other way around. Meanwhile, excavations in Eastern Siberia and Mongolia demonstrate that ancient pockets of civilization once existed there, which means that none other than the central lands of the continent were the cradle of Eurasian mankind. 

The Symbolism of Landscape

Besides these two global categories of Land and Sea, geopolitics also operates with more particular definitions. Maritime and oceanic formations can be differentiated among thalassocratic realities. For instance, the maritime civilizations of the Black Sea or Mediterranean Sea are rather qualitatively different from the civilizations of the oceans, i.e., insular powers and peoples dwelling on the shores of the open ocean. More particular divisions also exist between river and lake civilizations with relation to continents.

Tellurocracy also has its own particular forms. One can distinguish between the civilization of the Steppe and civilization of the Forest, the civilization of the Mountains and the civilization of the Plains, the civilization of the Desert and the civilization of Ice. In sacred geography, diverse varieties of landscapes are understood as symbolic complexes linked to the particularities of the state, religious and ethical ideologies of different peoples. Even in those cases where we are dealing with a universalist, ecumenical religion, the concrete embodiment of such in a given people, race or state will be subject to adaptation to the local sacred-geographical context. Deserts and steppes represent the geopolitical microcosm of the nomads, and it is precisely in the deserts and on the steppes that the tellurocratic tendency reaches its climax, as the “water” factor is minimally present. Desert and Steppe empires should therefore logically be the geopolitical springboards of tellurocracy. As an example of a Steppe empire, one might consider the Empire of Genghis Khan. A typical example of a Desert empire was the Arab Caliphate, which arose under the direct influence of nomads. 

Mountains and mountain civilizations are more often than not archaic and fragmentary. Mountain countries are generally not sources of expansion, in fact, they tend to gather the victims of other tellurocratic forces’ geopolitical expansion. No empire has its center in a mountainous region. Hence the often repeated maxim of sacred geography, “mountains are inhabited by demons.” On the other hand, the idea that mountains can conserve the residual traces of ancient races and civilizations is reflected by the fact that it is precisely in mountains that the sacred centers of Tradition are placed. One could even say that mountains correspond to some kind of spiritual power in tellurocracy. 

The logical combination of both concepts – the mountain as a hieratic model and the desert as a regal one – yields the symbolism of the hill, i.e., a small or average height. The hill is a symbol of imperial might rising above the secular level of the steppe, but it does not reach the limit of supreme power as is the case with mountains. A hill is a dwelling place for a king, a count, an emperor, but not a priest. All large tellurocratic empires’ capitals are placed on a hill or hills (often on seven hills – the number of the planets; or on five – the number of elements, including the ether, and so on).

The forest in sacred geography is similar to the mountains in a definite sense. The symbolism of the tree corresponds to the symbolism of the mountain (both the former and the latter designate the world axis). Therefore, in tellurocracies the forest also plays a peripheral function, as it too is the “place of the priests” (the druids, the magi, the hermits), but also at the same time the “place of demons”, i.e., archaic residuals from a vanished past. Thus, a forest cannot serve as the center of an overland empire.

The tundra represents the Northern analogue to the steppe and the desert, although the cold climate makes it much less significant from a geopolitical point of view. This “peripherality” reaches its apogee with the icebergs which, similarly to mountains, are deeply archaic zones. It is telling that the Eskimo shamanic tradition calls for a future shaman to depart alone on the ice, from where the world beyond will be opened to him. Thus, ice is a hieratic zone, the threshold of another world.

Taking into account these essential and most general characteristics of the geopolitical map, it is possible to define the various regions of the planet according to their sacred qualities. This method can also be applied to the local features of a landscape at the level of individual countries or even of individual localities. It is also possible to trace the convergence of the ideologies and traditions of what are seemingly very diverse peoples. 

East and West in Sacred Geography

In the context of sacred geography, cardinal directions possess a special, qualitative nature. Visions of sacred geography can vary across traditions and periods in accordance with the cyclical phases of a given tradition’s development. Hence why the symbolic functions of cardinal directions often vary. Without diving into the details, it is possible to formulate the most universal law of sacred geography with regards to East and West.

Sacred geography, on the basis of “cosmic symbolism”, traditionally considers the East to be the “land of the Spirit”, the paradisal land, the land of perfection, abundance, the sacred “homeland” in its fullest and most complete form. In particular, this idea is mirrored in the Bible, where Eden has an Eastern position. The exact same understanding is characteristic of other Abrahamic traditions (Islam and Judaism), as well as many non-Abrahamic traditions, such as the Chinese, Hindu and Iranian traditions. “The East is the mansion of the gods”, states the sacred formula of the Ancient Egyptians, and the very word “East”, or neter in Egyptian, simultaneously meant “god.” From the point of view of natural symbolism, the East is the place where the sun, the Light of the World, the material symbol of Divinity and the Spirit, ascends, or vostekeat in Russian, hence the Russian word for “East”, vostok.

The West has the opposite symbolical meaning. It is the “land of death”, the “lifeless world”, the “green country” (as the Ancient Egyptians called it). The West is “the empire of exile” and “the pit of the rejected” in the expressions of Islamic mystics. The West is the “anti-East”, the country of the setting of the sun (zakat in Russian), decay, degradation, and transition from the manifest to the non-manifest, from life to death, from wholeness to need, and so on. The West [zapad in Russian] is the place where the sun descends, where it “sinks down” (zapadaet).

It is in accordance with this logic of natural cosmic symbolism that ancient traditions organized their “sacred space”, founded their cult centers, burial places, temples and edifices, and interpreted the natural and “civilizational” features of the planet’s geographical, cultural and political territories. Thus, the very structure of migrations, wars, campaigns, demographic waves, empire-building, etc. was defined by the primordial, pragmatic logic of sacred geography.

Peoples and civilizations possessing hierarchical characters stretched along the East-West axis – the closer to the East, the closer they were to the Sacred, to Tradition, to spiritual abundance. The closer to the West, the more the Spirit decayed, degraded and died. 

Of course, this logic was not always absolute, but at the same time it was neither minor nor relative as it has so wrongly been considered by many “profane” scholars of ancient religions and traditions today. As a matter of fact, sacred logic and the tracing of cosmic symbolism were much more consciously recognized, understood and practiced by ancient peoples than is acceptably believed today. Even in our anti-sacred world, the archetypes of sacred geography are almost always retained in their integrity on the level of the “unconscious”, and are awoken at the most important and critical moments of social cataclysms. 

Thus, sacred geography univocally affirms the law of “qualitative space”, in which the East represents the symbolic “ontological plus”, and the West the “ontological minus.” According to the Chinese tradition, the East is Yang, or the male, bright, solar principle, and the West is Yin, the female, dark, lunar principle.

East and West in Modern Geopolitics

Now we shall see how this sacred-geographical logic is mirrored in geopolitics, which, in the capacity of the exclusively modern science, merely fixates on the factual arrangement of affairs, leaving sacred principles themselves out of its framework and out of the picture. 

Geopolitics in its original formulation by Ratzel, Kjellén, and Mackinder (and later by Haushofer and the Russian Eurasianists) took as its point of departure the peculiarities of different types of civilizations and states in relation to their dependence on geographical disposition. Geopoliticians established the fact that there is a fundamental difference between “insular” and “continental” powers, between “Western”, “progressive” civilization and “Eastern”, “despotic” and “archaic” cultural forms. Insofar as the question of the Spirit in its metaphysical and sacred understanding is generally never raised in modern science, geopoliticians have also brushed it aside, preferring to evaluate situations in different, more modern terms than those of the “sacred”, “profane”, “traditional”, “anti-traditional”, etc. 

Geopoliticians have identified major differences between the political, cultural and industrial development of Eastern regions and Western ones over the past few centuries. The picture thereby derived is the following: the West is the center of “material” and “technological” development. On the cultural-ideological level, “liberal-democratic” tendencies and individualistic and humanistic worldviews prevail in the West. On the economic level, priority is assigned to trade and technological modernization. The theories of “progress”, “evolution”, and the “progressive development of history”, which are completely alien to the traditional Eastern world (and also to Western history in those periods when a rigorous sacred tradition was still in place there, as was the case in the Middle Ages), appeared for the first time in the West. On the social level, coercion in the West acquired only an economic character, and the Law of Idea and Force was gradually replaced by the Law of Money. A peculiar “Western ideology” was gradually cast in the universal formula of the “ideology of human rights”, which became the dominant principle in the most Western regions of the planet – North America, first and foremost the United States of America. On the industrial level, this ideology has corresponded with the notion of “developed countries”, and on the economic level is related to the concepts of the “free market” and “economic liberalism.” 

The whole aggregate of these features, along with the purely military, strategic integration of different sectors of Western civilization, is defined today by the concept of “Atlanticism.” In the previous century, geopoliticians spoke of “Anglo-Saxon civilization” or “capitalist, bourgeois democracy”, but the “geopolitical West” has since found its most pure embodiment in the “Atlanticist” form. 

The geopolitical East represents the direct opposite of the geopolitical West. Instead of economic modernization, here (in the “less developed countries”) traditional, archaic modes of production of the corporative or shop-manufacturing type prevail. Instead of economic coercion, the state more often employs “moral” or simply physical coercion (the Law of Idea and Law of Force). Instead of “democracy” and “human rights”, the East gravitates around totalitarianism, socialism and authoritarianism, i.e., around various types of social regimes whose only common feature is that the center of their systems is not the “individual” or “man” with his “rights” and his peculiar “individual values”, but something supra-individual, supra-human, be it “society”, “the nation”, “the people”, “the idea”, “the Weltanschauung”, “religion”, “the cult of the leader” etc. The East contradicts Western liberal democracy with a diversity of types of non-liberal, non-individualistic societies ranging from authoritarian monarchies to theocracies or socialism. Moreover, from a pure typological, geopolitical point of view, the political specificity of this or that regime is secondary in comparison to the qualitative division between “Western order” (= “individualist, mercantile”) and “Eastern order” (= “supra-individual – based on force”). The USSR, communist China, Japan until 1945 and Khomeini’s Iran have been representative forms of such an anti-Western civilization. 

It is curious to note that Rudolf Kjellén, the first author to coin the term “geopolitics”, illustrated the differences between West and East in the following example:

“A typical pet phrase of the ordinary American,” Kjellén writes, “is ‘go ahead’, which literally means ‘go forward.’ In this is reflected the internal and intrinsic geopolitical optimism and ‘progressivism’ of American civilization, which is the extreme form of the Western model. The Russians, on the other hand, habitually repeat the word nichego [‘nothing’]. This manifests the ‘pessimism’, ‘contemplation’, ‘fatalism’, and ‘adherence to tradition’ peculiar to the East.” 

If we now return to the paradigm of sacred geography, we see a direct antagonism between the priorities of modern geopolitics (such concepts as “progress”, “liberalism”, “human rights”, and “trade order” etc., are today positive terms for the majority of people), and the priorities of sacred geography, which evaluates different civilizational types from a completely opposite point of view (from the standpoint of such concepts as “spirit”, “contemplation”, “submission to superhuman force or superhuman idea”, “ideocracy”, etc., which in sacred civilizations are exclusively positive, and remain such  to this day for the Eastern peoples on the level of the “collective unconscious”). Modern geopolitics (with the exceptions of the Russian Eurasianists, the German followers of Haushofer, Islamic fundamentalists etc.) analyzes and imagines the world from an opposite perspective than that of traditional sacred geography. But in this, both sciences still converge in their description of the fundamental laws of the geographical picture of civilizations.

Sacred North and Sacred South

In addition to the sacred-geographical determinism along the East-West axis, an extremely relevant problem is posed by another, vertical orientation or axis – that of North-South. Here, as in all other cases, the principles of sacred geography, the symbolism of cardinal points, and the continents related to each, have a direct analogue in the geopolitical picture of the world, which is either naturally built up over the course of the historical process, or is consciously and artificially formed as a result of the purposeful actions of the leaders of this or that geopolitical formation. From the point of view of the Integral Tradition, the difference between “artificial” and “natural” is generally rather relative, since Tradition never knew anything in the likes of  the Cartesian or Kantian dualisms which strictly separate the “subjective” and the “objective” (or the “phenomenal” and “noumenal”). Therefore the sacred determinism of North or South is not only a physical, natural, or terranean-climatic factor (i.e., something “objective”), nor is it merely an “idea” or “concept” generated by the minds of individuals (i.e., something “subjective”). Rather, it is some kind of third form that is superior to both the objective and subjective poles. One might say that the sacred North, or the archetype of the North, was over the course of history split into the natural Northern landscape on the one hand, and the idea of the North, or “Nordicism”, on the other. 

The most ancient and primordial layer of Tradition unequivocally affirms the primacy of North over South. The symbolism of the North corresponds to the Source, to the original Northern paradise from which all human civilization originates. Ancient Iranian and Zoroastrian texts speak of the northern country of Airyana Vaeja with its capital of Vara, from which the ancient Aryans were expelled by glaciation sent upon them by Ahriman, the spirit of Evil and opponent of the bright Ormuzd. The ancient Vedas also speak of a Northern land as the ancestral home of the Hindus, the Śveta-dvīpa, the White Land lying in the Far North. The Ancient Greeks spoke of Hyperborea, the Northern island with the capital Thule. This land was considered to be the homeland of the bright god Apollo. In many other traditions, one can detect the most ancient traces, so often forgotten and fragmentary, of this “Nordic” symbolism. 

The fundamental idea traditionally associated with the North is the idea of the Center, the Immobile Pole, the point of Eternity around which revolves not only the cycle of space, but also the cycle of time. The North is the land where the sun never sets even at night, it is the space of eternal light. Every sacred tradition honors the Center, the Middle, the point where contrasts converge, the symbolic place that is not subject to the laws of cosmic entropy. This Center, whose symbol is the Swastika (which stresses both the immobility and constancy of the Center, and the mobility and changeability of the periphery), has acquired different names for each tradition, but it has always been directly or indirectly linked to the symbolism of North. Therefore, we can say that all sacred traditions are, in essence, the projection of the One Northern Primordial Tradition adapted to all different historical conditions. The North is the Cardinal Point chosen by the primeval Logos in order to reveal itself in History, and each of its further manifestations has only re-created this primordial polar-paradisal symbolism.

In sacred geography, the North corresponds to the spirit, light, purity, completeness, unity, and eternity. The South symbolizes something directly opposite – materiality, darkness, mixture, privation, plurality and immersion in the stream of time and becoming. Even from a natural point of view, in polar areas there is one long semi-annual Day and one long semi-annual Night. This is the Day and Night of the gods and heroes, of the angels. Even decayed traditions remember this sacred, spiritual, supernatural Cardinal North, recalling the Northern regions to be the dwelling place of “spirits” and “forces from beyond.” In the South, the Day and Night of the gods are fragmented into human days – here the primordial symbolism of Hyperborea has been lost, and its memories became mere pieces of “culture” or “legend.” The South generally often corresponds to culture, i.e., to that sphere of human activity at which the Invisible and the Purely Spiritual acquire material, hardened, visible outlines. The South is the reign of substance, life, biology and instincts. The South corrupts the Northern purity of Tradition, but preserves its traces in materialized features.

The North-South pair in sacred geography is not reduced to an abstract opposition of Good and Evil. It is rather the opposition of the Spiritual Idea to its coarsened, material embodying. In normal cases, in which the South recognizes the primacy of the North, there exist harmonious relations between these “parties of light”; the North “spiritualizes the South”, the Nordic messengers bring Tradition to the Southerners and lay the foundations of sacred civilizations. If the South fails to recognize the primacy of the North, then thus begins the sacred confrontation, the “war of continents.” In the view of Tradition, the South is responsible for this conflict in breaking sacred rules. In the Ramayana, for instance, the Southern island of Lanka is considered the dwelling place of demons that have stolen Rama’s wife, Sita, and declared war on the continental North with its capital of Ayodhya. 

Thus, it is important to note that in sacred geography, the North-South axis is more important than the East-West axis. But being the more important one, it corresponds to the most ancient stages of cyclical history. The great war of North and South, of Hyperborea and Gondwana (the ancient paleo-continent of the South) belongs to “antediluvian” times. In the last phases of the cycle, it becomes more hidden, more veiled. The paleo-continents of North and South themselves disappear. Thus, the baton of opposition is passed to East and West.

The shift from the vertical North-South axis to the horizontal East-West axis typical of the last stages of the cycle nevertheless saves the logic and symbolic connection between these two sacred-geographical pairs. The North-South pair (i.e., Spirit-Matter, Eternity-Time) is projected on the East-West pair (i.e., Tradition and Profanity, Origin and Decay). The East is the downwards horizontal projection of the North. The West is the upwards horizontal projection of the South. Out of this transition of sacred meanings, one can readily obtain the structure of the continental vision peculiar to Tradition. 

The People of the North

The Sacred North determines a special human type, which can have a biological, racial embodiment, but also might not have such a thing at all. The essence of “Nordicism” consists in the capacity of man to raise each object of the physical, material world to its archetype, to its Idea. This quality is not a simple development of a rational origin. On the contrary, the Cartesian and Kantian “pure intellect” is by its very nature incapable of overcoming the thin border between the “phenomenon” and “noumenon”, whereas it is precisely this ability that lies at the heart of “Nordic” thinking. The man of the North is not simply white, “Aryan” or Indo-European in terms of his blood, language, and culture. The man of the North is a particular kind of being endowed with a direct intuition of the Sacred. To him, the cosmos is a texture of symbols, each of them pointing towards the First Spiritual Principle that is invisible to the eye. The man of the North is the “solar man”, Sonnenmensch, who does not absorb energy, as black holes do, but allots it – the streams of creation, light, strength, and wisdom flow out of his spirit.

Pure Nordic civilization disappeared with the ancient Hyperboreans, but its messengers laid the foundations of all present traditions. This Nordic “race” of Teachers stood at the origins of the religions and cultures of the peoples of all continents and colors of skin. Traces of a Hyperborean cult can be found among the Indians of North America, among the Ancient Slavs, among the founders of the Chinese civilization, and among the natives of the Pacific, among the blonde Germans and black shamans of Western Africa, among the red-skinned Aztecs and among the Mongols with their wide cheek-bones. There is no people on the planet that does not have a myth about the “solar man”, Sonnenmensch. True spirituality, the supra-rational Mind, the divine Logos, and the capacity to see through the world to its secret Soul – these are the defining qualities of the North. Wherever there is Sacred Purity and Wisdom, there, invisibly, is the North – no matter what point in space or time we inhabit. 

The People of the South

The man of the South, the Gondwana type, is directly opposite of the Nordic type. The man of the South lives in a circle of effects, of secondary manifestations; he dwells in the cosmos, which he venerates but does not understand. He worships exteriority, but not interiority. He carefully preserves traces of spirituality, their embodiments in the material environment, but he is not able to proceed from “symbolizing” to “the symbolized.” The man of the South lives by passion and speed, he puts the psychic above the spiritual (which he simply does not know) and worships Life as a higher authority. The cult of the Great Mother, of matter generating the variety of forms, is typical of the man of the South. The civilization of the South is a civilization of the Moon, which only receives light from the Sun (North), and preserves and diffuses it for some time only to periodically lose contact with it (the new moon). The man of the South is a Mondmensch.

When the people of the South stay in harmony with the people of North, i.e. recognize their authority and their typological (not racial!) superiority, harmony reigns among civilizations. When they claim their supremacy because of their archetypical relation to reality, there arises a distorted cultural type, which can be globally defined by adoration of idols, fetishism or paganism (in the negative, pejorative sense of this term).

As is the case with the paleo-continents themselves, purely Northern and Southern types existed only in remote ancient times. The people of the North and the people of the South confronted one another only in the primordial epochs. Later, whole peoples from the North penetrated the Southern lands, sometimes founding bright expressions of Nordic civilization, such as ancient Iran and India. On the other hand, peoples from the South sometimes went far northward, bearing their cultural type, such as Finns, Eskimos, Chukchi etc. The original clearness of the sacred-geographical panorama gradually became muddy. But in spite of all of this, the typological dualism of the “people of North” and the “people of the South” has been preserved in all times and epochs, only not so much in the form of an external conflict between two miscellaneous civilizations, as an internal conflict within the framework of any given civilization.

The type of the North and the type of the South have since some moment in sacred history opposed each other at every turn, irrespective of concrete places on the planet. 

North and South in East and West

The type of the people of North can be projected in the South, East and West. In the South, the Light of North generated great metaphysical civilizations such as the Indian, Iranian or Chinese, which in the situation of the “conservative” South for a long time preserved the Revelation, were entrusted with it. However, the simpleness and clearness of Northern symbolism turned here into complex and miscellaneous tangles of sacred doctrines, sacraments and rites. The further to the South, the feebler are the traces of the North. And among the inhabitants of the Pacific islands and Southern Africa, Nordic motives in mythology and sacraments are preserved only in extremely fragmentary, rudimentary and even distorted form.

In the East, the North manifests itself as classical traditional society founded on the univocal superiority of the supra-individual above the individual, where the “human” and the “rational” are retracted in view of the supra-human and supra-rational Principle. If the South gives civilization “stability”, then the East defines its sacrality and authenticity, the major guarantor of which is the Light of the North.

In the West, the North is manifest in heroic societies, where such a tendency peculiar to the West as fragmentation, individualization and rationalization surpassed itself, and the individual, becoming the Hero, grew out of the narrow framework of the “human, all too human” personality. The North in the West is personified by the symbolic figure of Heracles who, on the one hand, releases Prometheus (the purely Western, titanic, “humanist” tendency), and on the other, helps Zeus and the gods to defeat the rebellion of the giants (i.e. serves for the sake of sacred rules and spiritual Order).

The South, on the contrary, projects itself on all three orientations according to an opposite image. In the North, it gives the effect of “archaism” and cultural stagnation. Even the most Northern, “Nordic” traditions, when under the Southern influence of “Paleo-Asiatic”, “Finnish” or “Eskimo” elements, took on the traits of “idol-worshipping” and “fetishism” (this is characteristic, in particular, of the Germano-Scandinavian civilization in the “epoch of the Skalds”).

In the East, the forces of the South surface in despotic societies, where the normal and just Eastern indifference towards the individual turns into denial of the great Supra-human Subject. All forms of Eastern totalitarianism, both typological and racial, are linked to the South.

Finally, in the West, the South is manifested in the extremely rough, materialistic forms of individualism in which the atomic individual reaches the limit of anti-heroic degeneration, worshipping only the “golden calf” of comfort and egotistical hedonism. That this combination of two sacred-geopolitical tendencies yields the most negative type of civilization is obvious, since it overlaps two orientations which are already in themselves negative – South on the vertical line and West on the horizontal line. 

From Continents to Meta-Continents

If, from the perspective of sacred geography, the symbolic North unambiguously corresponds to positive aspects, and the South to negative, then in the exclusively modern geopolitical picture of the world, everything is much more complex – and to some extent even upside down. Modern geopolitics understands the terms “North” and “South” as wholly different categories than sacred geography does.

First of all, the paleo-continent of the North, Hyperborea, has not existed for many millennia on a physical level, but remains a spiritual reality towards which the spiritual gaze of the initiated yearning for primordial Tradition has been directed .

Secondly, the ancient Nordic race, the race of the “white teachers” who descended from the pole in the primordial era, does not at all coincide with what is today commonly called “white race” based only on physical characteristics, skin color, etc. The Northern Tradition and its original population, the “Nordic autochthones”, have not existed for quite some time as a historical-geographical reality. Judging by things as they stand at present, even the last remnants of this primordial culture disappeared from physical reality some millennia ago.

Thus, ‘the North’, looked at in terms of Tradition, is a meta-historical and meta-geographical reality. The same can be said about the “Hyperborean race” – it is not a ‘race’ in the biological, but rather, in a purely spiritual, metaphysical sense. The topic of “metaphysical races” was developed in detail in Julius Evola’s work.

The continent of the South, ‘the South’ as it exists in Traditionalist terms, and its most ancient population have not existed for quite some time. In a certain sense, the “South” at a certain  moment came to make up practically the entire planet, as the influence of the original polar initiatic center and its messengers dissipated across the entire world. The modern races of the South represent a product of multiple mixtures with the races of North, and skin color in general long ago ceased to be a distinctive sign of belonging to one or another “metaphysical race.”

In other words, the modern geopolitical picture of the world has very little in common with the fundamentally supra-historical and meta-temporal view of the world. The continents and populations of our epoch are extremely far removed from those archetypes to which they corresponded in primordial times. Therefore, today there exists not merely a discrepancy, but an almost inverse correspondence between actual continents and actual races (the realities of modern geopolitics) on the one hand, and meta-continents or meta-races (the realities of traditional sacred geography) on the other.

The Illusion of the “Rich North”

Modern geopolitics refers to the concept of the “North” most frequently alongside the adjective “rich”  – the “rich North,” the “advanced North”. This term refers to an aggregate of Western civilization which attaches fundamental attention to the development of the material and economic side of life. The “rich North ” is rich not because it is more clever, more intellectual, or more spiritual than the “South”, but because it has built its social system on the principle of maximizing the material that can be extracted from social and natural potential, from the exploitation of humans and natural resources. The racial image of the “rich North” is linked to people with white skin, a feature which is central to various versions, whether explicit or implicit, of “Western racism” (in particular Anglo-Saxon racism). The success of the “rich North” in the material sphere was raised to a political and even “racial” principle in those countries which became the vanguard of industrial, technical and economic development, i.e., England, Holland, and later Germany and the US. In this case, material and quantitative welfare amounted to a qualitative criterion, and it is on this basis that the most ridiculous prejudices about the “barbarism”, “primitiveness”, “underdevelopment” and “untermenschlichkeit” of the Southern peoples (i.e., those not belonging to “rich North”) came about. Such “economic racism” was clearly manifested in Anglo-Saxon colonial conquest. Later, an embellished version was introduced in the most coarse and contradictory aspects of National-Socialist ideology. Nazi ideologists often blended vague guesses about pure “spiritual Nordism” and the “spiritual Aryan race” with the vulgar, mercantilistic, biological racism of the English variety. This substitution of sacred-geographical categories with categories of material and technical development was the most absolutely negative aspect of National-Socialism, and the element which led to its political, theoretical and military collapse. Yet, even after the defeat of the Third Reich, this kind of “rich North” racism has not disappeared from political life. Now, the US and its Atlanticist partners in Western Europe have become its primary bearers. In the most recent globalist doctrines of the “rich North”, questions of biological and racial purity are not stressed; nevertheless, in practice, the rich North’s relations with undeveloped and less developed countries of the Third World still advance the “racist” haughtiness typical of both English colonialists and the German National-Socialists’ orthodox Rosenberg line. 

In fact, the “rich North”, in geopolitical terms, refers to those countries where forces directly opposed to Tradition have won out – the forces of quantity, materialism, atheism, spiritual degradation and emotional degeneration. The “rich North” is radically distinct from “spiritual Nordism” and the “Hyperborean spirit.” The substance of the North in sacred geography is the primacy of spirit over matter, the definitive and total victory of Light, Justice and Purity over the darkness of animal life, the arrogance of individual passions and the mud of base egoism. The globalist geopolitics of the “rich North”, on the contrary, means exclusively material welfare, hedonism, the consumer society, the “problem-free” and artificial pseudo-paradise of those whom Nietzsche called “the last men.” The material progress of technological civilization has been accompanied by the monstrous spiritual regress of all truly sacred culture. From the point of view of Tradition, the “wealth” of the modern, “advanced” North cannot serve as genuine criteria of any real superiority over the material “poverty” and technological backwardness of the modern “primitive South.”

Moreover, the material “poverty” of the South is quite often conversely linked tied to Southern regions’ conservation of genuinely sacred forms of civilization. Spiritual wealth is sometimes disguised behind ostensible “poverty.” At least two such sacred civilizations still exist in the Southern space today despite all the attempts by the “rich (and aggressive!) North” to impose its own measures and path of development on the whole world: Hindu India and the Islamic world. In terms of Far Eastern traditions, there are various points of view: some see certain traditional principles that have always been definitive for Chinese civilization, even beneath the “Marxist” and “Maoist” rhetoric. These Southern regions are inhabited by peoples who have maintained their devotion to very ancient, nearly forgotten sacred traditions. Compared to the atheist and utterly materialistic “rich North”, these peoples are “spiritual”, “whole” and “normal”, while the “rich North” itself is “abnormal” and “pathological” from a spiritual point of view.

The Paradox of the “Third World ”

In terms of globalist projects, the “poor South” is de facto a synonym for the “Third World.” This part of the world was referred to as the “third” during the Cold War, a notion which presupposed that the other two “worlds” – the advanced capitalist and less-advanced Soviet – were more relevant and significant to geopolitics than all other regions. The expression “Third World” has a pejorative connotation: according to the utilitarian logic of the ”rich North”, such a definition renders Third World countries tantamount to a “no man’s land”, to little more than human resource reservoirs slated for subservience, exploitation and manipulation. In so doing, the “rich North” has skillfully played on the traditional political-ideological and religious characteristics of the “poor South” by subjugating it to its exclusively materialist and economic interests and structures which are, in terms of spiritual potential, far superior to the “rich North” itself. The “rich North” has almost always succeeded in this subjugation, since the very cyclical moment of our civilization is conducive to perverted, abnormal and unnatural tendencies. This is due to the fact that, according to Tradition, we are now in the latest period of the dark age, the ‘Kali Yuga.’ Hinduism, Confucianism, Islam and the indigenous traditions of the “non-white” peoples are but an impediment to the material conquests and aims of the “rich North”; yet, at the same time, certain aspects of Tradition are often appropriated to achieve their mercantile goals by manipulating contradictions, religious peculiarities or national problems. Such utilitarian appropriations of various aspects of Tradition for exclusively anti-traditional aims have been an even greater evil than the outright denial of all Traditional values, since the highest perversion is for the great to be made subservient to the “nothing.”

In reality, the so-called “poor South ” is only “poor” on a material level precisely because of its spiritual attitudes, having always reserved only a minor and unimportant place for the material aspects of existence. The geopolitical South in our time has preserved a uniquely traditionalist attitude towards the objects of the external world, a calm, detached, and even indifferent attitude which starkly contrasts the obsessions of the “rich North” with materialist and hedonistic paranoia. The people of the “poor South”, by virtue of living in Tradition, to this day have fuller, more profound and even more magnificent existences. Participation in sacred Tradition bestows upon all aspects of their personal lives’ a meaning, an intensity and a saturation, of which the “rich North” has long been deprived. The latter is left hysterical with neuroses, material fears, inner desolation and a completely pointless existence. It is little more than a languid kaleidoscope with pictures as vivid as they are empty. 

It could be said that the correlation between North and South in primordial times has a directly inverse correlation in our present epoch, as it is the South which today still preserves some links with Tradition, whereas the North has definitively lost them. Nevertheless, this statement does not cover the whole picture of reality, since true Tradition cannot abide such humiliating treatment as that practiced by the aggressively atheistic “rich North” against the “Third world.” The fact of the matter is that Tradition has been preserved in the South only in an inertial, fragmentary, partial form. It holds a passive position and can only resist, it is permanently on the defensive. Thus, the spiritual North has not fully transferred itself to the South in the End Times – the South only accumulates and preserves spiritual impulses that once came from the sacred North. No active traditional initiative can come from the South in principle. Meanwhile, the globalist “rich North” has managed to harden its pernicious grasp on the planet due to the specificity of the Northern regions that are conducive to activity. The North was and remains by its very nature the chosen place of power. Thus, truly effective geopolitical initiatives come from the North.

The “poor South” today has a spiritual advantage over the “rich North”, but it cannot serve as a serious alternative to the profane aggression of the “rich North”, nor can it offer the radical geopolitical project capable of subverting the pathological vision of the modern world. 

The Role of the “ Second World”

In the bipolar geopolitical picture of “rich North” vs. “poor South”, there has always existed an additional component of self-sufficient and critical significance. This is the so-called “Second World”, which is conventionally understood to mean the socialist camp that was integrated into the Soviet system. This “Second World” was not quite the “rich North”, since it had definite spiritual motives that secretly influenced the nominally materialistic ideology of Soviet socialism, nor was it really the “Third world”, since overall an orientation towards material development, “progress” and other exclusively profane principles were at the heart of the Soviet system. The geopolitically Eurasian USSR was located both in “poor Asia” and “civilized” Europe. During the socialist period, the planetary belt of the “rich North” was broken in Eastern Eurasia, thus complicating the clarity of geopolitical relations on the North-South axis.

The end of the “Second World” as a special civilization left the former USSR’s Eurasian space with two alternatives: either integration into the “rich North” (that is, the West and the US), or being thrown down to the “poor South”, i.e., to turn into a “Third world country.” One possible compromise would be the separation of some of the regions to the “North” and some to the “South.” As has often been the case over the last few centuries, the initiative of redistributing geopolitical spaces was the prerogative of the “rich North”, which cynically used the paradoxes of the “second world” itself to fix new geopolitical borders and break up zones of influence. 

National, economic and religious factors are regularly instrumentalized by the globalists as tools in their cynical and deeply materialist-motivated operations. It is therefore no surprise that, in addition to false “humanist” rhetoric, almost blatantly “racist” pretexts are now increasingly invoked to incite Russians to demonstrate a “white superiority complex” towards Asian and Caucasian Southerners. This correlates with the inverse process of the former “Second World” being driven finally towards the “poor South” which has been accompanied by manipulations of fundamentalist tendencies, of the peoples’ inclination towards Tradition and of the revival of religion. 

The disintegrating “Second World” is being broken apart along the lines of “traditionalism” (the southern, inertial, conservative kind) and “anti-traditionalism” (the actively Northern, modernist and materialist kind). This dualism, which is only being strategized today but will become the predominant phenomenon in Eurasian geopolitics in  the near future, is predetermined by the spread of the globalist understanding of the world in terms of “rich North” and the “poor South.” Any attempt to save the former Soviet Great Space, and any attempt to save the “Second World” as something self-sufficient and balancing halfway between North and South (in their exclusively modern meaning), cannot be successful without altogether questioning the fundamentally polar conception of modern geopolitics as understood and realized in its actual form, brushing aside deceitful humanitarian and economic proclamations. 

The “Second World” is disappearing. There is no more place for it on the modern geopolitical map. At the same time, the pressure of the “rich North” on the “poor South” is increasing, with the latter left to fend against the aggressive materialistic technocratic society of the “North” in the absence of an intermediate power, such as the Second World was. Any other possible destiny for the “Second World” will only be possible if accompanied by a radical rejection of the planetary logic of the North-South dichotomy in its globalist vein. 

The Project for the “Resurrection of the North”

The rich globalist North is spreading its domination across the planet through the partition and destruction of the “Second World.” In modern geopolitics, this has also been called the project of the “New World Order.” The active forces of anti-tradition are consolidating their victory over the passive recalcitrance of the Southern regions which continue to preserve their economic backwardness and defend their residual forms of Tradition. The inner geopolitical energies of the “Second World” face a choice – either be annexed into the “civilized Northern belt” and decisively lose any connection with sacred history (which is the project of leftist globalism), or become an occupied territory allowed to partially restore some aspects of tradition (the project of right-wing globalism). Events are developing in precisely this direction today and they will continue to in the near future. 

As for an alternative, it is theoretically possible to formulate a different path for geopolitical transformation based on rejecting the North-South globalist logic and on returning to the spirit of genuine sacred geography – to the extent that such is possible now, at the end of the dark age. This is the project of the “Great Return” or, in other terms, the “Great War of Continents.” In its most general features, the essence of this project is as follows:

(1) The rich North will be opposed, not by the “poor South”, but by the “poor North.” The poor North is the sacred ideal of returning to the Nordic sources of civilization. Such a North is “poor” because it is based on total asceticism, on radical devotion to the highest values of Tradition, on utter hatred of the material for the sake of the spiritual. The “poor North” exists (in a geographical sense) in Russia, which, essentially being the “Second World”, has socio-politically resisted the adoption of globalist civilization in its most “progressive” forms to the present moment. The North Eurasian lands of Russia are the only territories on earth which have not been completely mastered by the “rich North.” They are inhabited by traditional peoples and are terra incognita in the modern world. The “path of the poor North” for Russia means refusing to be annexed by the globalist belt and refusing to have its traditions archaized, reduced to the folkloric level of an ethno-religious reservoir. The “poor North” must be spiritual, intellectual, active and aggressive. Potential opposition by the “poor North” to the “rich North” is possible in other regions as well, perhaps manifesting itself in part of the Western intellectual elite radically sabotaging the course of mercantile civilization and rebelling against the modern world of finance for the sake of the ancient, eternal values of the Spirit, Justice and Self-Sacrifice. The “poor North” could thus launch a geopolitical and ideological battle against the “rich North”, rejecting its projects, destroying its plans from the inside and out, combating its stainless efficiency and thwarting its social and political manipulations.

(2) The “poor South”, incapable of independently opposing the rich North, will enter a radical alliance with the poor Eurasian North and begin a liberation war against the Northern dictatorship. It is especially important to strike at representatives of the ideology of the “rich South ”, i.e., those forces which, working for the “rich North”, stand for the “development”, “progress” and “modernization” of traditional countries, which will otherwise lead to a further departure from what remains of sacred Tradition.

(3) The “poor North” of the Eurasian East, together with the “poor South”, will surround the entire planet, concentrating their forces against the “rich North” of the Atlanticist West. These efforts will put an end to the ideologically vulgar versions of Anglo-Saxon racism and praise of the “technological civilization of the white peoples” along with its accompaniment globalist propaganda. Alain de Benoist expressed this idea in the title of his famous book  Europe, Tiers Monde – même combat [“Europe and the Third World: The Same Fight”], which argues for a “spiritual Europe”, a “Europe of peoples and traditions” instead of the “Maastricht Europe of commodities.” The intellectualism, activism and spiritual profile of the genuine, sacred North will return the South’s traditions to their Nordic Source, and raise the Southerners in a planetary uprising against the common geopolitical enemy. In so doing, the passive resistance of the South will form a beachhead in the planetary messianism of the “Nordicists” who radically reject the degenerated and anti-sacred branch of white peoples who have followed the path of technological progress and material development. This could spark a planetary, supra-racial and supra-national Geopolitical Revolution based on the fundamental solidarity of the “Third World” with that part of the “Second World” which rejects the project of the “rich North”.

Over the course of this struggle, the flame of the “resurrection of the spiritual North”, the flame of Hyperborea, will transform geopolitical reality. The new global ideology will be that of Final Restoration, putting a final end to the geopolitical history of civilizations – but this will not be the end which the globalist spokesmen of the End of History have theorized. The materialistic, atheistic, anti-sacred, technocratic, Atlanticist version of the End will give way to a different epilogue – the final Victory of the sacred Avatar, the coming of the Great Judgement, which will grant those who chose voluntary poverty the kingdom of spiritual abundance, while those who preferred wealth founded on the assassination of the Spirit will be condemned to eternal damnation and torment in hell.

Lost continents will arise out of the abysses of the past. Invisible meta-continents will appear in reality. A New Earth and a New Heaven will arise.

Thus, the path is not from sacred geography to geopolitics but, on the contrary, from geopolitics to sacred geography.

 

“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).

***

 

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 Festugière, come to our aid.[6] Festugière 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 peoples, 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).

Alexander Dugin – “Counter-Initiation: Critical Remarks on Some Aspects of the Doctrine of René Guénon” (1998)

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translated by Eurasianist Internet Archive

Originally published in the journal Mily Angel #3 – Konets Sveta (‘Sweet Angel: The End of the World’, Moscow: Arktogeia, 1998). Subsequently republished as an appendix to the second edition of the book Puti Absoliuta (“The Ways of the Absolute”) in the Absoliutnaia Rodina trilogy (“Absolute Homeland”, Moscow: Arktogeia, 1999).

***

Preliminary remarks: the necessity of correcting Traditionalism

The question of “counter-initiation” is the most shrouded and ambiguous in all of Traditionalist thought. Perhaps this is a consequence of the very reality which Traditionalists, following Guénon, denote with the term “counter-initiation.”

The meaning of counter-initiation is set out by René Guénon in his book The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times. In brief, we can say that Guénon understands counter-initiation to be the sum of secret organizations which, although in possession of initiatic and esoteric data, nonetheless direct their activities and efforts towards a goal which is the direct opposite of normal initiation. In other words, instead of striving towards the absolute, they head towards fatal disappearance and dissolution amidst the “reign of quantity” in its external twilight. In line with Islamic esotericism, Guénon called the hierarchs of counter-initiation Awliya es-Shaytan, that is to say the “saints of Satan.” In Guénon’s point of view, representatives of counter- initiation stand behind all the negative tendencies of modern civilization and are secretly administering the course of affairs down the path of degradation, materialization, and spiritual perversion.

According to Tradition, the logic of the cyclical process inevitably boils down to a trajectory of degradation, from the Golden Age to the Iron Age. As follows, there should be various conscious forces contributing to this process just as, conversely, the forces of true initiation and genuine esotericism try to impede this fatal decline by all means. This historical dualism of Guénon’s in no way affects the metaphysical unity of the Principle, insofar as it belongs to the sphere of manifestation, where the main law is that of duality. This duality at the very heart of manifestation is overcome only upon going beyond the manifest into the sphere of the transcendental. We cannot discard the dualism within the world. Thus, the role of counter- initiation is partly justified insofar as it is rooted not in arbitrariness, but in the very providential necessity tied to the laws of the universe.

 

This purely theoretical aspect of the doctrine of counter-initiation is completely flawless from a logical point of view and is confirmed by all the various doctrines of sacred traditions dealing with “demons”, “the devil”, “evil spirits”, the “Antichrist”, etc. But everything becomes much more complicated when we attempt to move from theory to practice and name specific organizations or secret societies as examples of counter-initiation. This is only part of the problem. Before we can clarify this subtle question, it is necessary to attentively examine what René Guénon meant by “initiation” and “esotericism.”

According to Guénon, the historical variance of sacred forms – religions, traditions, etc. – is a consequence of the differing qualities of the human and historical environments into which the rays of the One Non-Human Truth are projected. In other words, for Guénon, all traditions, as one approaches their center, transcend confessional differences and almost always merge into something unified. Guénon called this the “Primordial Tradition” (la Tradition Primordiale). It is this Tradition, according to Guénon, that constitutes the secret essence of all religions. In a certain sense, this is true. Any careful study of the symbolism of Tradition, its rituals and doctrines, leads one to the idea that all sacred teachings have some kind of common element or paradigm which is somewhat lost sight of when one arrives at more narrow dogmatic aspects and matters of detail. The thesis of the “unity of Tradition” is particularly convincing in current circumstances, as the modern world has built a civilization whose basis strikingly contrasts everything that might be called Tradition(al). In other words, Integral Traditionalism and the appeal to the One Tradition are reliable to the extent to that they contrast the modern world to all those civilizational forms that are founded on sacred elements. Indeed, there are many more similarities than differences between the various traditions and religions when compared to the contrasting backdrop of modern, completely de-sacralized civilization. This postulate is obvious. The question is: to what extent is this convergence in the face of a common enemy a consequence of esoteric unity?

In other words, is the difference between the most sacred traditions merely the result of faults in the cosmic environment at certain moments in the cycle? Are there not some deeper reasons behind this?

One glaring example of the relevance of such doubt can be seen in Guénon’s hesitation as to whether Buddhism should be counted an authentic tradition or not. Guénon initially relegated Buddhism to the category of antinomian heresies, but later recognized it to be a genuine tradition. The question at hand is not even that of Buddhism, but the fact that Guénon’s very own uncertainty exhibits a certain conditionality of his method whenever the matter at hand concerns concrete historical traditions and their dogmatic principles. If even Guénon could be mistaken on the question of Buddhism – which remained for him largely an abstraction, for the analysis of which Guénon relied on the opinions of his Hindu informants who, like all Hindu Traditionalists, are distinguished by their acutely anti-Buddhist orientations – then it cannot be excluded that such errors may occur in the case of other religions as well.

 

Our own studies have led us to the conclusion that Guénon was not quite right in his analysis in two other cases. Firstly, when Guénon denied the Christian Church an initiatic dimension – and he dated the loss of this dimension, present in early Christianity, to the era of the first Ecumenical Councils – he was clearly relying exclusively on the history and historiosophy of the Catholic branch (with the later deviation of Protestantism). Guénon clearly ignored the metaphysical and initiatic reality of Orthodoxy, which differs from Western Christianity sharply and on the most fundamental positions. Guénon equated Christianity with Catholicism and inappropriately projected the proportions of the Catholic organization, including the mystical nature of its rituals and theological specifics, onto Christianity as a whole. This rendered his views on the matter completely incorrect. [1]

Secondly, Guénon was quick to recognize Jewish Kabbalah to bear the quality of genuine esotericism which, in his opinion, is distinguished by universalism and is beyond any particularisms. But in fact, Kabbalah insists on the ethnic specialness of Jews, the uniqueness of their fate, and their metaphysical opposition to all other peoples and religions no less (if not more) than the Talmud and exoteric Judaism. This clearly contradicts Guénon’s definition of esotericism, according to which principles of universal unity and the merging of all spiritual and religious forms into a common concept should predominate. Even in its most transcendental aspects, Kabbalah affirms not unity, but a radical and indelible metaphysical-ethnic dualism.

Moreover, on a more general plane, Guénon’s assessments of certain peoples – such as the Ancient Greeks, the Japanese, the Germans, Anglo-Saxons, and Slavs – were at times so subjective and arbitrary that Guénon’s striving to base some of his conclusions as to the orthodoxy or non-orthodoxy of various traditional forms on these appraisals calls into question everything in Traditionalism related to the application of theoretical considerations to the practical sphere.

The absence of universal counter-initiation

The differences between religious forms can constitute far more of a profound factor than the conditions of exotericism, and can be rooted in metaphysics itself. If, by virtue of the specificity of their traditions, synthesis can be accomplished rather easily with Hinduism and Islamic esotericism (while all other traditions are interpreted in terms exclusively peculiar to them), then the matter stands somewhat differently with other religions. Hinduism and Islam allowed Guénon to construct a logical and non-contradictory picture, but one which becomes less apparent when we try to apply it to different religions and their specific approaches to metaphysics.

For Guénon and the Traditionalists who follow him, the situation is thus: the One Metaphysical Tradition, which constitutes the essence of universal esotericism, is the inner kernel of all orthodox traditions. Dogmatic religions and other forms of exoteric traditions are external shells covering in diverse ways this unity of content (esotericism and initiation). On the pole opposite of universal esotericism is “counter-initiation”, which entails not simply the rejection of this or that religious or exoteric form, but universalism itself. Thus, the very notion of “counter- initiation” is inseparable from the postulation of the esoteric unity of all traditions.

 

However, outside of esoteric Islamic and Hindu contexts, such logic cannot be accepted unequivocally, as the metaphysics of other traditions do not recognize any esoteric solidarity with other religious forms. In fact, the universalism of Sufism and Hinduism is not so obvious as it may seem at first glance. The price of recognizing the orthodoxy of other religious forms is affirming that they are “distorted”, and treating their dogma in the spirit and letter of the specific esotericism peculiar to Hinduism and Sufism. For example, the Hindu approach to Christology practically equates Christ with an avatar, which, in a purely Christian dogmatic framework, is equivalent to the “monophysite” view. Islam, on the contrary, proceeding from a strict monotheism, adheres to a “Nestorian” (“Arian”) Christological scheme. In both cases, the Orthodox Christian formula which ultimately leads to its own, altogether different metaphysical perspective is denied [2]. Thus, the universalism proclaimed by Traditionalists turns out to be not so total and unambiguous as one would like.

Furthermore, Hinduism bases its tradition on a formula that is inverse to that of the Iranian tradition, despite deriving from the same source. As is well known, even in the very names for gods and demons, there is an inverse analogy between Zoroastrianism and Hinduism. Moreover, Hinduism considers Buddhism to be a heterodoxy (a view to which Guénon himself adhered for quite a long time). As follows, these three Eastern Indo-European traditions cannot reach agreement with one another and seamlessly establish esoteric unity. Indeed, it is quite difficult to recognize any “esoteric rightness” on the part of those who call one’s gods “demons” and vice versa (the Devas and Asura in Hinduism and Zoroastrianism are of directly contradictory elements), or who radically deny the authority of the main sacred source (as Buddhists reject the Vedas, castes, and all the foundational doctrines of Hinduism).

The situation is even more severe in the Abrahamic context. If Islam recognizes some kind of legitimacy among the traditions of the “peoples of the Book” (Judaism and Christianity) and believes Muhammad’s mission to be the last word of “Abrahamism” which corrected all previous errors, then neither Christians nor Jews recognize even the slightest authenticity of other versions of Abrahamism, which are considered heresies, lies, and evil.[3] The example of the Zohar, the highest authority of Kabbalah, easily lends towards the conviction that hostility towards Islam and Christianity is not only the case on the metaphysical and esoteric level, but here it attains the highest metaphysical tension. Accordingly, Orthodox esotericism relates to Judaism (both exoteric and esoteric) just as harshly, seeing it not only as an Otherness of external religious form, but as the embodiment of metaphysical evil and the “tradition” of the Antichrist.

Thus, beyond Sufism and Hinduism (whose universalism is also not unlimited), there is no common esotericism. This means that traditions understand “counter-initiation” to be those sacred forms which openly contradict their own metaphysics. If the exoteric evil in this case is represented by the negative points stemming from the ethical-dogmatic specifics of a given religion, then the esoteric evil (counter-initiation) would be the metaphysics of a tradition that contradicts such. All of this incredibly complicates the question of counter-initiation, which ceases to be so obvious and transparent, and in fact becomes extremely confusing.

 

From the point of view of Orthodox esotericism, Judaism and Kabbalah are undoubtedly counter-initiatic.[4] From the Zohar’s point of view, the esotericism of the Goyim, especially the “descendants of Ishmael and Esau” (Muslims and Christians), is “the false teaching of the demon Samael” who “leaps on the serpent Lilith.” From the point of view of Hindu esotericism, Iranian dualism is rooted in the fact that Zoroastrians worship demons, the Asura, (Iranian Ahura), whom they (Hindus) call “gods.” Buddhist esotericists, meanwhile, are convinced that the initiatic doctrines of Hinduism are the ultimate evil, insofar as they only increase the attachment of beings to Samsara – after all, the higher divine worlds are distinguished in the Buddhist perspective by an even greater illusory quality than the worlds of humans, as the absence of suffering only alienates the prospect of achieving Nirvana. In Islamic civilization, the most radical representatives of manifestationist esotericism – such as al-Hallaj, Suhrawardi, etc. – were executed as malicious heretics.

How, in such a situation, can one discern any universal counter-initiation, trace its origins, and recognize the forces and organizations serving as its cover? If the universality of esotericism (in the very least, in our cyclical situation) is not obvious and proven, then how can we speak of any universality of “counter-initiation” being the inverse projection of such?

Inter- and intra-religious contradictions

On the one hand, there exist deep contradictions between traditional religious systems which pertain to the higher realms of metaphysics. On the other hand, these traditional forms are not immutable, but are subject to cyclical laws. Traditions pass through difficult periods of historical embodiment, among which, besides the natural stages of rise and fall, there exist even more paradoxical moments entailing the amendment of internal nature, alienation, and transformation into something essentially different while maintaining external attributes.

More often than not, these disturbing moments cannot be reduced to some “triumph of negative tendencies” as seen by the exoteric tradition and morality derived from the letter of sacred forms. For example, the Islamic tradition can degenerate without its authorities publicly denying the principle of monotheism or the mission of Muhammad, and Christians by no means need to worship other gods (or Satan) in order to break with the source and spirit of the Church. If everything were so simple, history would be an elementary, mechanical device with predictable functioning and an easily foreseen future. In fact, this is how many things are seen by those people distinguished by a naive (if not to say idiotic) view of the world, no matter whether they are “conservatives” or “progressives.” Only a deep understanding of the internal kernel of tradition, the real realization of its higher levels, allows us to isolate and grasp what is foremost and most essential, and that means accurately discriminating between the true axis of orthodoxy and alienation, deviation, simulation, and degeneration. There are no purely external criteria to this question. One should not overestimate the “devil” – if he were as simple as moralists think, he would hardly have been able to participate in human history so actively, for so long, and, most importantly, so unrecognizably.

For example, the schism of the Christian world into the Eastern and Western Churches was far from a purely exoteric event. Behind the schism lurk the most profound metaphysical reasons. The same is true for the Islamic world and the division into Shiites and Sunnis. The Sunni tradition (especially Wahhabism) believes in the high authority of Sultan Yazid, who killed Ali, i.e., Muhammad’s cousin who is the spiritual pole (qutb) for Shiites, the first Imam. Behind this contradiction lie much deeper discrepancies of a purely metaphysical nature. [5]

In a certain sense, things are no smoother in the case of Hinduism, in which Vishnuism and Shaivism are not so harmonious with relation to one another as might appear to be the case at first glance. For example, the traces of such a dualism can be seen in the Mahabharata, whose editing was, without a doubt, the work of Vishnuist circles. The Kauravas, the enemies of the Pandavas and the inveterate villains, are portrayed as inspired by Shiva and his retinue to the point that Shiva is considered to be a “subtle essence” in contrast to the metaphysical and purely spiritual nature of Krishna, the avatar of Vishnu. The parallel with the “devil” begs itself in this case, especially if we take into consideration Guénon’s indication that the “devil” belongs to the “subtle plane.”[6]

 

If we apply the Traditionalist approach to other sacred forms beyond Hinduism and Sufism, we find ourselves in a situation in which it becomes impossible to speak of counter-initiation as something universal and opposed to universal esotericism without falling into mythomania or moralistic dualism which, theoretically, should have been overcome insofar as we are considering the sphere of esotericism. In other words, every sacred form endowed with metaphysical uniqueness formulates in its own way its own theory of what “counter-initiation” is for it (and not only for it). At the same time, the positions of different traditions can coincide in some aspects, while in others they may diverge. Thus, we arrive at the affirmation of an absence of any one counter-initiatic doctrine or organization. Everything that is habitually included in the notion of “counter-initiation” turns out to be a plural, complex, and multipolar reality. The definition of the nature and form of a counter-initiatic doctrine thus derives from the metaphysical particularity of each concrete tradition.

There is no denying the fact that, in recent centuries, there has been a glaringly overarching, broad process which undoubtedly represents a clearly pronounced tendency towards the construction of an anti-traditional society based on principles which are radically opposed to the sum of those which constitute the basis of any tradition.

But there is one exception here: Judaism. In the religious and metaphysical perspective of Judaism, the last centuries, starting in 1240 and especially since 1300, are seen as the prelude to messianic triumph. The fall of Christian civilization and the political liberation of Jewry (not to mention the contemporary successes of political Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel) are seen as none other than the greatest metaphysical progress. Thus, on a matter over which the majority of traditions fully concur with one another, there is the exception of Judaism.

The external revival of confessional religions in recent years, following several centuries of active processes of de-sacralization and secularization, also fits poorly into Traditionalist logic. Although this [renewed] interest in religion is not as easily exposable of a parody as Neo- spiritualism and “New Age”, it is clearly not a true spiritual rebirth.

 

In short, the problem of the “deviation of esotericism”, or counter-initiation, is complicated not only by inter-confessional contradictions, whose origins can be traced back to metaphysics, but also internal transformations within these traditions relative to the stages of their history.

On top of all of this, there exist anomalous cases (Judaism, the new interest in religions in the West, etc.) which seemingly contradict the quite obvious tendency of progressive secularization on the basis of which Guénon attempted to substantiate his theory of counter-initiation and the latter’s planetary plan to prepare the “reign of the Antichrist.”

Counter-initiation and initiation are in solidarity with one another up to a certain point

Guénon’s concept of counter-initiation is based on a scheme to which he adhered in relation to more general questions pertaining to the structure of Tradition. Guénon constantly bore in mind the following tripartite model:

[Принцип-Периферия]

 

1. Principle

2. Intermediary space

3. Periphery

In the center of the circle (or at the top of the anthropological and cosmic hierarchy, the vertical) is initiation, authentic esotericism, the Primordial Tradition, the one metaphysics. This is the inner sphere, the sphere of the initiated beyond confessional differences – the sphere of those who are to be found beyond the threshold of genuine esoteric organizations.

On the periphery (the horizontal plane) are the profane and the un-initiated. For them, the oneness of truth is hidden behind a variety of forms and labyrinths of moral and ethical standards. These are ordinary people who are not conscious of the true nature of things and events.

Finally, lying beyond the periphery, at the lower point of the vertical axis, is a kind of “anti-center.” This is counter-initiation, the place of the “saints of Satan.” Counter-initiation unites various tendencies not in a light synthesis, but in a dark mixture of infernal parody.

This model is obviously transparent and convincing. But the first difficulties with it arise when we attempt to explain the historical and geographical localization of counter-initiatic centers. At this point, it turns out, it is quite difficult to distinguish such centers from properly initiatic societies and orders. Determining on which side of the periphery – the inner or outer, the upper or lower – can be found this or that initiatic organization reveals itself to be extremely difficult (if not altogether impossible), and all external criteria can easily be simulated. Guénon specified that true esotericism is always metaphysically oriented, while counter-initiation remains on the level of cosmology or the “subtle world.” However, an enormous distance separates the profane world and the world of metaphysical principles. In the early stages, it is absolutely impossible to predict for sure whether an initiate will reach the end of this path to the actual metaphysical levels, or whether they will get stuck in the intermediary spheres. And if they “get stuck”, then how do they then differ from those who represent “counter-initiation”?

In other words, up to a certain point, and rather far from the sphere of the competence of the profane, the paths of initiation and counter-initiation are not only parallel, but essentially one. With respect to the orientations of “above” and “below” (which at first might seem to be convincing criteria) it should be noted that they are not indicative in direct initiatic experience, since ascent in the borderline sphere between the worldly and otherworldly is often accomplished by means of descent, a departure which leads straight into the abyss.[7]

If one makes it to the end of this path, the adept attains effective metaphysical realization. If one goes astray, all the attributes of counter-initiation will be glaring.

 

In other words, out of this simple tripartite scheme arises a more complex and less edifying picture, in which the main emphasis is put not on the orientation of movement, but on the reality of the achieved result. Thus, the problem of counter-initiation boils down to an incomplete and imperfect esoteric realization, not some kind of primordially and strictly “Satanic-oriented” secret society aiming to create and strengthen an anti-sacral civilization. The anti-sacral civilization which indeed has been built and is being built today, should be seen as the result of the overlapping of many incomplete realizations, first and foremost of an esoteric nature, the solidarity of which is obvious to all those who have been left half-satisfied with incomplete tendencies in their own sacred form.

The preponderance of profanism, fed by overall degeneration, is only a consequence of the degeneration of initiatic organizations themselves which, contradicting their primordial orientation, are now content with intermediate surrogates and unrealized potencies instead of unceasingly and heroically striving towards the center of metaphysics. At the same time, that very “demonizing” force commonly referred to as “devilish” and “satanic” can hardly be held responsible for participating in this entire process. In fact, the most terrible and formidable results of perversion and de-sacralization are those achieved by people who have the best intentions and are convinced that they are orthodox bearers of the most obvious good. Every initiate who treats their spiritual path with affection, every cleric who considers his tradition and its dogma to be an ethical or moral convention, and every Traditionalist who settles down with reciting the phrases of their master, which are in appearance correct but rendered meaningless by the mental laziness of their followers – all of these types little by little build the structures of counter-initiation and sever the metaphysical apex from the pyramid of initiatic realization.

Those whom it is easiest to single-out as being “representatives of counter-initiation” on the basis of purely external criteria – e.g., open “Luciferians” or “Satanists” – sometimes exhibit tragedy, pain, non-conformism, and the ability to stare the terrible truth of apocalyptic reality straight in the eyes. Hence why they cannot fulfill the role of the main “scapegoats” for Traditionalists. Of course, some of them may be in solidarity with processes of de-sacralization, but this is more of an exception. More often than not, at least among those who take the matter seriously, the point is that, on the contrary, these types are still about rising up against de- sacralization; they stand against conformism with the degenerate world – a world to which many representatives of “orthodox” traditions, oddly enough, easily adapt and in which they manage to perfectly comfortably arrange themselves. More often than not, religious non-conformists (“heretics”, “Satanists”, etc.) are seeking the totality of sacral experience which the representatives of orthodoxy cannot offer them. This is not their fault, but their misfortune, and the true fault lies with those who have allowed authentic tradition to be turned into a flat facade behind which there is simply nothing. Perhaps it is none other than these “dubious” forces and groups who are grimly, desperately, perplexedly, stubbornly, yet heroically pursuing esotericism and initiation deep within reality, while the profane and the moralizing conformists who remain on the periphery of initiation are the ones hindering this path by all means.

 

If initiation and counter-initiation can be distinguished only in terms of the concrete experience of spiritual realization, then no external criteria can help on this matter. This conclusion begs itself especially if we recognize the universality of esotericism, a point on which Guénon insisted. This conclusion remains valid when we apply it to the esotericism of one sacred form taken individually. When we take into consideration the metaphysical contradictions which exist between different forms, then the matter becomes even more complicated.

From the Red Donkey to the Roman Pope

The main examples of counter-initiation to which Guénon pointed included the cult of the Egyptian god Set, whose remnants have survived since the most ancient times along with multiple snake cults in the Middle East. In Guénon’s perspective, the mysterious brotherhood of the Red Donkey (or Red Dragon) exists to this day and is secretly directing the main processes of civilization in an infernal vein. If we digress from the “detective” flavor of this conceptualization, another consideration presents itself: How could an esoteric group of people engaged in the sacred – albeit in such an infernal, serpentine, and possibly fragmentary dimension – have provoked the modern world’s complete ignorance of the sacred, and contributed to the widespread assertion of the primacy of quantity and the radically anti-initiatic approach characteristic of the modern way of life?

Compared to the maniacal system of global lies which we see in the modern mass media, secular utilitarian culture, and everyday lifestyles, any “snake-worshippers” would be an exotic and quite sympathetic group of romantic marginals. There must be a reality behind the anti-sacral aggression of the modern world which is much more formidable and much more thorough than the machinations of some exotic “black magicians.” It is hardly likely that the scraps of ancient cults, even the most sinister ones, could be responsible for the anti-sacral collapse of the modern world. It is hardly likely that a dark and obviously minute sect wields such universality to the point that, in theory, it is capable of effectively influencing the most important events of world history and, most importantly, shaping the prevailing intellectual climate. If something of this sort really has taken place, then such an organization could not possibly have remained unnoticed, and there would be in circulation certain information about it which, although distorted, approximate, and amiss, would nonetheless be extensive.

It is still another matter if we take the bearers of some kind of metaphysical tradition that is radically opposite to the dominant religious culture to claim the role of counter-initiation. For example, an altogether respectable and pious Pars (Zoroastrian) could end up in India and, in one way or another, gain access to influence over the most important spheres.[8] In the context of Hinduism, he would fulfill an openly counter-initiatic function, insofar as Zoroastrian metaphysics is founded on the principle of Dvaita, whereas the metaphysical axis of Hinduism is Advaita. Such metaphysical subversion would be much more destructive than, say, the antinomies posed by radical Shaivist sects who, while being ethically questionable for their ritual devouring of people, sinister necromantic practices in wastelands and cemeteries, their Tantric orgies, etc., do not call into doubt the main metaphysical line of Advaita-Vedanta – on the contrary, they strengthen, affirm, and defend it.

The activities of a Kabbalist Jew within, say, the Islamic tradition or a Christian country, would bear the same counter-initiatic character, and the (negative) efficiency of such would be higher in relation to the depth and sophistication with which the Kabbalist understands the metaphysics of his own tradition (and vice versa).[9] Strictly speaking, an Orthodox metaphysician who is perfectly conscious of all the metaphysical implications of the dogma of the Trinity and who understands the whole depth of the contradictions between the Christian Gospel and the alienated creationism of Judaism and Islam, would by the will of fate become involved in the most important cultural-religious questions in the countries and cultures associated with the strict Abrahamic tradition, and could all together deal irreparable damage to their official ideology (and its limits in culture and politics) – naturally, this would be “damage” from the point of view of the stability and preservation of Abrahamic creativity in its older form. In practice, the presence of such overt or covert religious (and esoteric) groups in different states is an obvious fact, while the “snake-worshipers” are either completely unknown or are extravagant marginal oddities.

Now let us turn to Western civilization, which is the cradle of anti-sacral tendencies. In the West, the counter-initiatic tendencies which produced the monstrous result that we see today developed in several stages. The first stage, associated with Orthodox eschatology, was neglected by Guénon, who had a clearly inadequate opinion of the Christian tradition. This first stage consisted of the fall of Rome from Orthodoxy, the changing of the Symbol of Faith by Charlemagne, and the transition from the Orthodox and eschatological concept of the “symphony of powers” (associated with the metaphysics of the “withholder”, the Katechon) to the Papist (Guelphian) model, against which stood the Ghibelline Emperors of the Hohenstaufen who were just as dear to Guénon as they are to us. [10] Thus, the main sources of counter-initiation in the West should be sought in Catholic Scholasticism and the Vatican.

 

Unlike Orthodoxy, Catholicism lost its esoteric component, and this unleashed a whole spectrum of initiatic organizations of various stripes (Hermetic, proto-Masonic, etc.). Given that these initiatic organizations stemmed from an extra-Christian context (from pre-Christian cults and the Islamic and Jewish traditions), any alliance with the exoteric church was founded not on synthesis and organic unity, but on conformism and conventions. This Catholic civilization was so inorganic and unstable that even in its better periods (such as the Middle Ages), it harbored a number of dubious and at times openly counter-initiatic elements.

This unsustainable compromise was ultimately shaken, and both components of the Western tradition came into open contradiction. Catholicism rejected non-Christian esotericism and finally descended to the level of contradictory, secularized Judeo-Christian morality. Autonomous esotericism, in the form of Freemasonry, became a destructive, rationalistic apparatus in essence anti-Christian and anti-esoteric. These halves of the disintegrating ensemble were marked by counter-initiatic features: in the very least, in the majority of cases the spiritual path towards metaphysical realization could not be stopped at the first stages, but it was simulated, forged, alienated, and turned into its opposite. The very first and most significant chord of such degeneration was the rejection of the completeness of Orthodox metaphysics. This was the most decisive step in the direction of counter-initiation within the Christian world.

 

After having remained for quite some time within the realm of fully-fledged, unified (at once Orthodox and Catholic) Christianity, which had preserved the fullness of its authentic metaphysics and initiation, the peoples and states of the West eventually, in one catastrophic moment, severed this chain. This was enshrined in the introduction of the dogma of the Filioque and in the sacredly-unauthorized conferment of the status of “Emperor” to the Frankish kings before their kind – this destroyed the symphony of powers in the West. Catholic (and later altogether secularized-Protestant) moralism, plus the anti-clerical, bureaucratic, philanthrophic- demagogic rationalism of Masonry – all of this was much more counter-initiatic from the standpoint of fully-fledged Orthodox metaphysics than any splashes of anti-Church, pagan, or even “Luciferian” cults in the West, which perhaps represented but paroxysms of nostalgia for the complete and total Tradition, not even a hint of which had remained in the West since time immemorial.

This combination of Western anti-metaphysical Christianity (Catholicism and especially Anglo-Saxon Protestantism) with rationalistic Masonry (with the active participation of the Jewish factor, which played a significant conceptual role in the degradation of the West – after all, the fall of Edom, the “Christian world”, is the condition of the triumph of Judaic messianism [11]) is what lies at the heart of the poisonous paradigm of the modern world. The role of “Satanists” or “representatives of the Order of Set” in all of this is not only negligible, but generally naught, especially since the very fact of such an order’s existence is presumptive and based on extremely dubious evidence. Guénon cited the illustration of an artist from Cairo depicting a strange monster, the statue of which he allegedly saw in a secret sanctuary.[12] What would Guénon have said about the paintings of Dali, Ernst, or thousands of other avant-garde artists who depicted monstrous creatures on their canvases and told thousands of hallucinatory and narcotic tales?

Very telling in this regard is the story of Léo Taxil, the scandalous author of the late 19th century who was behind the forged revelations of the machinations of “Satanists.” For the Catholics, Leo Taxil described the secrets of “Satanic Freemasonry”, while for Masons he exposed the “perversions” and “black book magic” of the Catholic clergy. In fact, beyond his clearly adventurous personal aims, Taxil quite cleverly showed how representatives of both Western organizations (one embodying exotericism, the other esotericism) were not so much “devil- worshipers” as gullible fools. This grotesque idiocy on the part of both conservatives and progressives is perhaps the most expressive sign of the parody which Guénon himself called the easily recognizable “seal of the devil.”

In fact, Traditionalists and Guénon’s followers have not been able to avoid the same fate, as they uncritically repeat various (and often frankly disputable) maxims of the master and have reached the very same “scholastic parody”, the signs of which were clearly noticed by the much wiser and non-conformist, although no less controversial Baron Julius Evola.

 

The absence of counter-initiatic symbolism in the Primordial Tradition

Now a few words about the Primordial Tradition. From our point of view, the contours of this Tradition were outlined with amazing clarity in the works of the German Professor Herman Wirth, a review of whose book Guénon published in Études traditionnelles.[13] According to Wirth, all existing mythological plots, symbols, religious dogma and rituals, and moreover all human languages and alphabets, evolved from a single calendric proto-form: the Sacred Circle, accompanied by an arrangement of proto-runic signs.[14] This proto-form was a description of the natural phenomena observed by humanity at the North Pole on the ancient disappeared continent of Hyperborea (or Arktogaa). Thus, out of an abstract concept, the Primordial Tradition became a tangible and concrete reality of a paradigm whose main contours were extremely convincingly and voluminously revealed by Herman Wirth.[15]

What interests us in the Hyperborean calendric proto-form is that realm which is associated with the dark, nocturnal sectors, corresponding to the Polar Night and its related symbolism. This is the period of the winter solstice, or Great Yule, the main festival, symbolic and ritual center of the whole structure of the Primordial Tradition. Counter-initiation, according to Guénon’s definition, is related to the negative aspects of universal symbolism and, as follows, in the Hyperborean complex corresponds to those realities describing the state of the Polar Night, the decline of the sun, and other symbolic analogues of this event. The snake and wolf often function as such symbols, frequently imagined as swallowing the sun in the polar winter. This darkness is also identifiable with Mother Earth, from which all living beings come and whither all return to be reborn again.

This primordial picture, which is strictly cyclical and harmonious, preceded the division of this symbolic complex into positive and negative elements. The snake, the wolf, darkness, the underground realms (where the sun descends), death, and night do not have strictly negative significations. All aspects of the cycle are equally important and necessary – the sunset is just as sacred as the sunrise, and without the sun’s “dying” there can be no spring, no rebirth in the New Year. Therefore, the same symbols have both negative and positive aspects. This is an essential point: at hand is not an artificial theological concept seeking to consciously identify positive in negative and negative in positive (like the famous Chinese symbol of Yin-Yang), but rather a special state of consciousness which, in principle, does not know the very idea of negative.[16] It is precisely by virtue of this state that Tradition is indeed Primordial and Integral, that is, preceding any particular interpretation. The possibility for different interpretations of this primordial symbolism is embedded in the overall picture, and such interpretations are what constitute the content (and background) of historical religions and mythologies which evolved into stable symbolical and doctrinal complexes at the cost of metaphysically and ethically emphasizing only certain aspects of the one Hyperborean proto-form to the detriment of others.

 

It can be said that the “Hyperborean Tradition” was simultaneously dual and non-dual, trinitarian and unitary, monotheistic and polytheistic, matriarchal and patriarchal, sedentary and nomadic. Only later did it split into several branches separated from and opposed to one another.

The Primordial Tradition does not annul the metaphysical differences between traditions, since it is in this regard strictly neutral. It provides a general context; it employs a system of correspondences and symbolic series which allow one to explain the most mysterious and darkest aspects of symbolism, mythologies, religious doctrines, and sacred tropes. With regards to metaphysics, this Primordial Tradition is limited to being a mere statement of fact. The metaphysical question attains its real intensity in completely different conditions, those removed as far as possible from the Golden Age of the polar civilization. This, in fact, is why it is impossible to agree with Guénon on the esoteric unity of traditions, since they are not unified on a metaphysical level, but rather unified in the sense of descending from a single sacred cult-symbological complex, a universal language, the basic element at the origins of all the varieties of human culture and human religion. The use of this language can serve to express the most diverse theological and metaphysical constructs, but they all concern one and the same archetypal structure, which they merely interpret and whose metaphysical accents they re- arrange in different ways.

As follows, the symbolic complex which would be associated with counter-initiation, in its most universal aspect, should be that relating to the Hyperborean mystery of Yule. Strictly negatively interpreting this complex might lead to grotesque distortions, to the point that the most important and sacred aspects are treated as “counter-initiatic.” This, according to Herman Wirth, is what happened with the Christian tradition when it equated various “solar-thresholding” Hyperborean tropes with demonic realities, even though their symbolisms are strikingly reminiscent of the calendric history of the birth of the Son of God (the winter solstice). For instance, the demon’s tail was a vestige of the solar-solstice rune connoting the lower part of the polar year and the roots of the world tree. The cauldrons in which the demons cooked sinners were derived from the trope of the winter cauldron (or vessel) of the gods – the cauldron of the Celtic god Dagda which never runs empty. This is a typical winter-solstice motif (and the New Year rune itself was still called Dagda in the Normans’ time, and was depicted as a bowl or cauldron). The horns of the “devil” are a symbol of the spring Resurrection of the sun, as they are the symbolic analogue of the two raised hands – the spring rune “Ka.”[17] And so on.

These considerations show that it is impossible to judge the counter-initiatic character of one or another symbol or symbological complex on purely formal grounds, since in Hyperborean symbolism, which lies at the heart of all sacred symbolism, there are no such symbols.

Conclusion

Summating our brief analysis, it should be clear that it is necessary to radically reconsider Guénon’s theory of counter-initiation and carefully consider the various standpoints involved in this matter. This problem is closely connected to other theses of Guénon’s which, upon attentive study and application to concrete historical religions and initiatic schools, turn out to be too rough, inaccurate, or frankly erroneous. At the same time, this revision in no way tarnishes the high authority of René Guénon. Without his works and most important theses and interpretive models, the whole picture of esotericism and metaphysics would be hopelessly confused today. The point is not to debunk the master, as some of his ungrateful students, such as Frithjof Schuon, have sought to do. On the contrary, it is necessary to refine and hone the great intuitions of this genius human being in order to cleanse his teachings of all that has turned out wrong, and in order to make shine with new strength and freshness those aspects which are expressions of the purest truth. Guénon bequeathed to us an invaluable tool, an excellent methodology for studying Tradition. Thanks to him, we can determine the common denominators of the enormous materials of theology, the history of religions, initiation, etc., with which we have to deal, and which would otherwise remain hopelessly contradictory fragments defying any systematization (not to mention neo-Spiritualist reconstructions or the theories of profane historians and ethnologists).

 

Guénon remains the main and key author. But if, following serious reflections and the results of careful research, we arrive at conclusions which do not concur with his views but correct them, then it is pointless to try to hide and pretend that everything remains unchanged. The question of counter-initiation is highly important and extremely relevant. So is the question of the existence (or non-existence) of a real metaphysical unity of traditions. This text is merely an introduction to this problem, but as an outline for further research it is of colossal significance. We hope to develop this topic in subsequent works.

In the meanwhile, let us remark that an adequate view of counter-initiation, a clarification of its nature, essence, and “localization”, will lead us to the most horrifying secrets which, while hidden behind the dubious myth of the modern world, are ready to find their nightmarish, chilling incarnation in front of a hopelessly slumbering humanity drowsily wandering towards slaughter. Contrary to the naive stories of the “Order of the Red Donkey” and exotic and relatively harmless “Luciferians”, the true mission of counter-initiation is dizzyingly large-scale, effective, and ubiquitous. It is preparing a terrible fate for all peoples and civilizations. But in order to recognize this approaching catastrophe, it is necessary to look at things soberly and intently beyond the romantic haze of residual occultism and the “detective plot” of cheap horror novels.

Nothing rejoices the “enemy of humankind” more than the deafening stupidity of those who hastily decide to embark on the path of struggle against him without seriously weighing all the circumstances and assessing the whole volume of that unfathomable and terrible problem which St. Paul the Apostle called the “mystery of iniquity.”

 

Footnotes:

[1] We addressed this topic in detail in: Alexander Dugin, Metafizika Blagoi Vesti. Pravoslavny ezoterizm (The Metaphysics of the Gospel: Orthodox Esotericism, Moscow: Arktogeia, 1996). This work contains a detailed scrutiny of Guénon’s Christological views arising from his confessional belonging to Islam, not from any correspondences between their “univocal esoteric truth.” Generally speaking, despite the fact that Guénon wrote very little about the Islamic tradition, the majority of his theses on the esoteric question arose precisely out of his Islamic views on things. Hindu Advaita-Vedanta and Sufi Islam were most dear to Guénon. The specific approaches to esotericism proper to these two traditions considerably shaped Guénon’s preferences and analyses in the sphere of historical religions and their dogmas. Regardless of how logical or harmonic these two systems might be, they still far from exhaust all the possible variations of esoteric and initiatic doctrines.

 

[2] See: Dugin, Metafizika Blagoi Vesti.

[3] Christianity is counted among the Abrahamic traditions only in the Islamic perspective and some Judeo-Christian currents. Orthodoxy cannot recognize such a title insofar as it is clearly conscious of its internal spiritual nature as a Melchizedekian, pre-Abrahamic, and supra- Abrahamic tradition.

[4] Dugin, Metafizika Blagoi Vesti, chapter 41. [5] Ibid. `

[6] Is this too really the case? The logic of our analysis suggests that the matter is somewhat more complex.

[7] We can recall the case of Dante’s initiatic journey where, at the very bottom of the crater of hell, he began to descend down Satan’s body even lower, ultimately reaching not the center of the abyss, but the surface of the earth near Purgatory and the hill of earthly paradise. This category also contains a number of symbols which situate paradise under the earth, demons at the tops of the mountains, etc.

[8] For example, the husband of Indira Gandhi was a Pars (Zoroastrian).

[9] This is the case with the Dönmeh, the followers of the Jewish pseudo-messiah Sabbatai Zevi, who outwardly followed their leader in adopting Islam, but who, when heading the Turkish state in the 20th century, immediately abolished Islam as the state religion and proclaimed the creation of a “civilization of the Western type” in Turkey. Even though they were absolutely traditional with regards to their esoteric Kabbalist community and loyal to the general context of the Jewish Diaspora, the Dönmeh carried out what is from a purely Islamic perspective an anti-Islamic, profane mission.

[10] See Dugin, Metafizika Blagoi Vesti.

 

[11] See the article “The Messianism of Kabbalah: The Metaphysics of the Nation, the Messiah, and the End Times in the Zohar” in Mily Angel 3 (1998).

[12] Here is a fragment from Guénon’s letter to a certain Hillel in 1930 which describes this history: “Here behind al-Azhar (a university in Cairo) there is an old gentleman who strikingly resembles the portraits of Ancient Greek philosophers and produces strange paintings. He once showed us a drawing of a dragon with the head of a bearded man in a 16th century hat with six small heads from various animals protruding from his beard. It is especially curious that this figure clearly resembles an image found in Revue internationale des sociétés secrètes as an illustration of the book L’élue du dragon. This illustration is supposed to have been taken from some ancient book…But the real gem is that this gentleman claims to have seen this head elsewhere and painted it exactly like the original!”

[13] See: Mily Angel 1 (1991).

[14] See: Herman Wirth, “Das Heilige Jahr” in Der Aufgang der Menschheit (Jena: Eugen Diedrichs, 1928). Translated into Russian by Alexander Dugin as “Sviashchennyi God” and published in Mily Angel 3 (1998). See also Alexander Dugin, “Kosmicheskii Spasitel’” (“The Cosmic Savior”) in the same number.

[15] See Alexander Dugin, Giperboreiskaiia teoriia (“The Hyperborean Theory”, Moscow: Arktogeia, 1993).

[16] Contemporary linguistics divides types of thinking into two main varieties – “digital” and “analog.” “Digital” thinking precisely corresponds to profanism and materialism, operates with the abstract categories of “there is” and “there is not”, and functions according to the laws of formal logic (the law of the excluded third, the law of identity, etc.). Philosophers call this “classical rationality.” Analog thinking became a scientific category over the course of the study of archaic “primitive” peoples, cultures, and mythologies. Analog thinking corresponds to the world of Tradition and retains connection with traces of the Hyperborean tradition. It knows no “pure negation.” “Not” therefore means “another yes.” Pure absence is unimaginable, as the very concept of “absence” immediately evokes the image of “another presence.” Analog thinking first affirms the whole image, and only then deconstructs it into categories of “presence”, “absence”, “positive”, “negative”, and even “male”, “female”, “big”, and “small.” In analog thinking, there is no strict distinction between the subject of action and the object of action, between the substance and the attribute, the action and the substantive. Thus, in our example, the sun, its disappearance, and its absence act as something whole and integral. The affirmation of the sun already contains its negation (setting in winter), and the negation of the sun (winter darkness) is an affirmation which testifies to the meaning of the sun. On the basis of this logic, the primordial symbolism in principle was not subject to moral interpretation. It was a system of interrelated, integral, sacred elements, none of which is endowed with a value-priority. Everything in it was an expression of the one sacred Being, the Light of the World, at different stages of its cyclical pulse.

 

[17] See Dugin, “Kosmicheskii Spasitel’”, op cit.

The Star of the Invisible Empire: Jean Parvulesco

Author: Alexander Dugin

Source: Open Revolt

Article first published in 1994 in the newspaper Zavtra, re-published in Alexander Dugin, Knights Templar of the Proletariat (Moscow: Arktogeia, 1997). 

 

Profession: Visionary

Jean Parvulesco is a living mystery of European literature. A mystic, poet, novelist, literary critic, expert in political intrigues, revolutionary, and friend and confidant of many European luminaries of the second half of the 20th century – from Ezra Pound and Julius Evola to Raymond Abellio and Arnaud Breker.

Parvulesco’s true identity remains a mystery. A Romanian who fled to the West in the 1940’s, he became one of the most prominent French stylists of modern prose and poetry. But whatever his works might have been, from tantric dances to complex occult novels to biographies of his great friends (especially The Red Sun of Raymond Abellio), Parvulesco’s real vocation is that of a “visionary”, a direct and inspired contemplator of the spiritual spheres which reveal themselves to the chosen behind the gloomy and flat visibility of the modern profane world.

At the same time, Parvulesco has nothing in common with the vulgar representatives of the modern neo-mysticism that is so widespread today as a kind of instrumental compensation for the techno-information routines of everyday life. Parvulesco’s vision is dark and tragic; he has no illusions as to the hellish, infernal nature of the modern world. In this sense, he is akin to a Traditionalist. The infantile optimism of the Theosophists, occultists, and pseudo-mystical “conserves” of New Age are extremely foreign to Parvulesco. But unlike many Traditionalists of an “academic” temperament, he does not restrict himself to skeptical lamentations of the “crisis of the modern world” and bare, marginal condemnations of the material civilization of the end of the Kali Yuga. Jean Parvulesco’s texts are full of the Sacred, which speaks directly through them, on the dreamlike, almost prophetic level of a strange revelation, a “visit” which makes its way from the higher spheres through the magical blockade of dark energies which fill today’s world and the collective and cosmic psyche.

Parvulesco is an authentic visionary. He is sufficiently profound and doctrinally honed, enough so as to not lead one to mistake the first phantoms of subtle reality for “messengers of light.” At the same time, he strains his intuition to the extreme in a dangerous and risky “journey inward” towards the “center of the Black Lake” of the modern spirit, so as to go without fear beyond the limits of fixed rational and dogmatic norms (hence the multi-leveled paradoxes which saturate Parvulesco’s books).

Parvulesco’s message can be defined in the following manner:

The Sacred has disappeared from the daily reality of the modern world, and it is completely obvious that we live in the End Times. This Sacred has not disappeared (since, being eternal, it cannot disappear), but it has passed into the nocturnal, invisible matrix and is now ready to descend upon the human, physical cosmos in a terrifying apocalyptic moment – the apogee of history, the point at which the world, having forgotten its spiritual nature and disowned it, will be forced to confront it in the harsh flash of Revelation.

This has not happened yet. Humanity is fast asleep in its dark, material illusions, while only the chosen, the visionaries, the members of the secret brotherhood, the Apocalyptic Order, are watching awake, secretly preparing the path for the coming of the Final Hour, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Great Empire of the End.

Parvulesco considers himself to be not a writer, but a herald of this Invisible Empire (thus is titled his final book – The Star of the Invisible Empire), a speaker of the Occult Parliament of the planetary elite of the “awakened.” His personality doubles, triples, and quadruples in the characters of his novels, where the author himself is at work alongside his counterparts, his occult doubles, real historical figures, otherworldly shadows, the shells of the “outer twilight”, and the secret agencies of occult intelligence services.

Parvulesco unveils not merely a scenography of individual phantasies or memories, but a whole parallel world. The populations of his texts are genuinely frightening; their strange (quite often dark) humor sometimes reaches the sacred relics of religion, dogma, and canons, thereby awakening and freeing their their inner, secret essence from the stupid fetishistic veneration which kills the spirit. Following the prescriptions of Tantra, Parvulesco makes language come alive, he makes it rapid and “operational.” This is why his texts are more than literature. They are magical spells and scandalous revelations. They are provocations of events and predictions of their meaning. They are immersion into the Ocean of Interiorness, into the underground tunnels of the Hidden, into the frightening empire of that which dwells inside each of us. This is why Parvulesco can at times be just as frightening as any true genius. He attentively and scientifically studies us from within, and his experiments at times overstep well-established boundaries. Parvulesco is a visionary anatomist.

In the Beginning was Conspiracy

Parvulesco answers clearly and paradoxically at once that reality is dual in nature. Secret agents of Being and Oblivion are present in all key spheres of governance in the modern world, directing all processes of civilization. The fabric of actual, concrete history is derived from the superimposition of these energetic vectors of two occult networks upon one another. Generals and terrorists, spies and poets, presidents and occultists, Church fathers and heresiarchs, mafiosi and ascetics, Freemasons and naturalists, prostitutes and blessed saints, salon artists and workers movement activists, archaeologists and forgers are all merely obedient actors in a saturated conspirological drama. Who knows what social identity hides a higher initiate. A robber or beggar often turn outs to be the curator of the President or the Pope, and a military commander or banker can be puppets of a salon poet, behind the grotesque and imaginative personality of whom lurks a cold master and architect of harsh political history.

Against Demons and Democracy

The Star of the Invisible Empire is Parvulesco’s final and key novel. It ties together all the threads of his previous books. It describes the nearing of the final denouement of the transcendent meta-history of which our author has been a chronicler. Here is his résumé:

All across the planet, especially in France and Portugal (as well as Peru and Mexico), and in the magical “acupuncture points” of the occult West, the agents of Oblivion have erected black pyramids – physical and supra-physical installations designed to facilitate the direct invasion of the world by demonic energies, the hordes of the Gogs and Magogs. This apocalyptic project bears the secret name “Project Aquarius.” Corresponding to the relevant astrological symbolism, the “Age of Aquarius” dawns and carries with it not joy and harmony (as the agents of Oblivion try to reassure humanity), but decomposition, decay, chaos, death, and “dissolution in the lower waters.” The hero of Star of the Invisible Empire, Tony d’Antremont, describes his prophetic vision of the onset of the “Aquarian epoch” thusly:

I see, together with Lovecraft, the swarming of gigantic, repulsive masses, moving in endless waves, advancing on the last, residual crystal structures of the resistance of the spiritual elite; I behold in the ecstatic powerlessness of my hallucinatory awakening a flickering black foam, a foam of black dissolution, the terror of the democratic stench, and the terrible apparatuses of these convulsing corpses which – in the make-up of dirty whores with deceitful smiles, with the Californian beach smile of European anti-fascists, with the smile of mannequin whores from glittering showcases (I would define them as such) – are preparing our final defeat, are leading us whither not even they know or, rather, know all too well, all along the way sucking the bone marrow out of us; these are the hallucinatory leaden cloaks of Human Rights, the fecal-vomit emissions of Hell – although by saying such I am insulting Hell.

The servants of Aquarius, by opening the way to the human world for the black “shells” of the outer twilight, are striving to present their counter-natural advent as a blessing, as salvation, as the peak of evolution, while hiding their essence, the Vomito Negro (“Black Vomit”) under the political and Spiritualist slogan of the New Age or New World Order.

Against the conspiracy of Aquarius, in which the whole terrifying “meta-galactic” network of the agents of Oblivion seeking their final embodiment in the “New World Order” is concentrated, are fighting those who represent the Western order of Atlantis Magna. The Woman, known under the mystical name Licorne Mordore, or the “red-brown Unicorn”, plays a special role in the rituals of this order. In physical reality, she bears the name Jane Darlington. However, the true nature of this woman fundamentally transcends the limits of individuality. Rather, she represents some kind of sacred function distributed among all women of the order, whose personal and everyday relationships reflect the ontological hierarchy of being itself (one of them corresponds to the spirit, another to the soul, and another to the body). The men of the order, including the main hero Tony d’Antremont, are also hardly individuals in a strict sense: the descriptions of death and adultery which fill Parvulesco’s novel illustrate the purely functional essence of the main characters. The ritual death of one merely activates the conspirological activities of another, and when their women are unfaithful to them, they find that they remain true to one and the same essence. Thus, Atlantis Magna weaves its continental network of struggle against the conspiracy of Aquarius. On the higher, transcendental level, this means the ritual tantric realization of the eschatological Phenomenon corresponding to the coming of the Consoler and the Wife. Only on this level can those who are building the “black pyramids” be defeated.

The preparation and organization of the most mysterious ritual of the “red circle” constitutes the main trope of the novel. On their way to accomplishing this procedure, the members of Atlantis Magna embark on symbolic journeys, analyze mystical texts, seek the true causes behind political transformations, explore the oddities of the history of various ancient European ancestral lines, they decipher esoteric ideas (appearing like information leaks in ordinary tabloid literature), experience love-filled and erotic relationships, are subjected to assassination attempts, and become victims of kidnapping and torture. But all of this concrete flesh of the fascinating, detective-like novel is a continuous reading and clarification of the interconnected visionary reality of the Final Event of history, the manifestation of the Great Eurasian Empire of the End, the Regnum Sacrumor Imperium Sacrum, whose reflections are discernible in all aspects of the modern world.

On the level of political conspiracy, the novel’s heroes operate actively and decisively. The spiritual resistance to New Age and neo-Spiritualism, for whose representatives (from Alice Bailey to Teilhard de Chardin and Sai Baba) Tony d’Antremont proposes to arrange an “occult super-Auschwitz, a super-Majdanek”, is projected onto political opposition to the New World Order, Americanism, and Liberalism, a confrontation which forces the “agents of Being” to weave a network of global conspiracy with all those political forces opposed to globalism. Palestinian terrorists, underground European neo-Nazi groups, social revolutionaries and Red Brigades, the descendants of aristocratic families who hate “democracy” and secretly wish to end the liberal epoch, members of the Italian mafia, Gaullists and Francoists, Third World revolutionaries, shamans from America and Asia, communist leaders, and German bankers all become participants in a geopolitical project aimed at the establishment of a final Eurasian Empire. Diplomatic receptions, foreign trips, confidential talks, and intelligence gathering make up the political aspect of the conspiracy of the “agents of Being” and a special storyline of the novel, superimposed over occult conversations and the long esoteric monologues of the story’s heroes.

Parvulesco’s novel is not structured along the traditional logic of a complete narrative. It is altogether characteristic that the novel comes to an abrupt end mid-word on page 533. All the preceding contents have brought the reader close to the eschatological denouement of the occult war, but here the literary world ends, and actual reality begins. The majority of the novel’s characters are historical figures, some of whom have died, while others are still alive. The books and texts cited in the tale really exist. While many of the book’s episodes and retold legends are fictional, many are not. One characteristic detail is that the majority of the names mentioned are provided in parentheses with dates of birth and death.

After reading Star of the Invisible Empire, a natural question arises: What exactly have we just read? A novel? Fiction? Fantasy? Surreal literature? Or, perhaps, an esoteric tract?

Or is it a real revelation of the true background to modern history, seen from the standpoint of metaphysical fullness in all its volume, beyond hallucinations which are in essence all banal, everyday views explaining nothing and extremely far from the truth?

In the dedication that adorns the copy presented to me, Jean Parvulesco himself called his novel a “most secret and most dangerous initiatic novel in which Absolute Love presents its final weapon of Absolute Power and lays the occult foundations for the future great Eurasian Empire of the End, which will be akin to the Kingdom of Heaven, Regnum Sanctum.”

Nothing more nor less.

The Red-Brown Shiva

During one of our discussions, when I was telling Parvulesco about the meaning of the term “ours” in Russian political terminology, Parvulesco became very animated and showed me a place in one of his early novels (from the mid 1970’s) in which he providentially employed the very same term in a strikingly similar sense. For him, “ours” are the members of the conspiracy of Being, a secret network of agents of influence who are united by a common occult goal beyond political differences, and who stand against the cosmopolitan and profane civilization that has been established on the planet.

Moreover, my Italian friends once sent me the copy of an article of Parvulesco’s from the late 1960’s in which he spoke of “Eurasianism”, the geopolitical project of a Continental Bloc, the need for a Russo-German alliance (a renewed Ribbentrop-Molotov pact), and even the need to merge red and brown into a single revolutionary, anti-globalist front! It is altogether strange how the texts of this amazing man – which remain popular only as literary works while provoking the condescending smile of “academic” Traditionalists – pre-emptively described many years ago with an almost prophetic clairvoyance precisely that which has become a political fact only in recent years – in Russia, far from Europe.

All of this leads to quite disturbing thoughts as to the true nature of this genius writer. Who are you, in the end, Mr. Parvulesco? The commander of Altavilla? Whoever he is, Parvulesco is undoubtedly “red-brown”, not least because his sympathies are with the mysterious female figure whom certain really existing initiatic societies call the “Red-Brown Unicorn.”, Licorne Mordore. It should be noted that the French word mordoré means, more precisely, “red-brown with gold or a golden tint.” Besides this squeamish and derogatory term “red-brown” which has long since branded the most interesting political forces in Russia, there is also the royal, regal shade of this color – the final, eschatological coronation, with Alchemical Gold, of the great, continental Eurasian Revolution. This Revolution is being prepared and carried out today by “ours” – the secret and overt agents of Being. Yet another personage of sacred tradition is bestowed this color: the Hindu god Shiva, who is liturgically called the “red-brown” and “the terrible.” This god’s character is close to the element of our Red-Browns. Yes, this element is terrible and destructive in its outer manifestation. But the terrible red-brown Shiva is the keeper of the secret of Eternity, that which is revealed in all its entirety in the End Times, when it denies with its “terrible” being the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. Red-brown Shiva is the patron of the tradition of sacred Love, Tantra – the very same Tantra to which one of Jean Parvulesco’s first books, La Miséricordieuse Couronne du Tantra (The Merciful Crown of Tantra), was dedicated.

The agents of the Inner Continent are awake. In the night sky of our repulsive civilization appears the magic Star heralding the imminent transformation of the Inner into Outer. This is the Star of the Invisible Empire, the Empire of Jean Parvulesco.

0

Baron Ungern: God of War

Author: Alexander Dugin

Source: Open Revolt

Episode 6 of Alexander Dugin’s “Historico-Magical Meditative Radio Show” FINIS MUNDI

Petrograd, 1920. Feliks Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky is finishing up a report for comrade Lenin:

It seems that Ungern is more dangerous than Semenov. He is stubborn and fanatical. Clever and ruthless. He occupies key positions in Dauria. What are his intentions? To attack Urga in Mongolia or Irkutsk in Siberia? To swing around to Harbin in Manchuria, and then on to Vladivostok? To march on Beijing and restore the Manchurian dynasty to the Chinese throne? His monarchical plans are limitless. But one thing is clear: Ungern is preparing a coup. He is our most dangerous enemy to date. Destroying him is a matter of life and death.”

Dzerzhinsky attached to his report to the Supreme Soviet an excerpt from a letter that had fallen into the hands of Siberian partisans:

The Baron pronounces the words ‘commissar’ and ‘communist’ with hatred, often adding ‘will be hanged.’ He has no favorites, he is unusually firm, adamant in matters of discipline, very cruel, and very gullible…He lives surrounded by Lamas and shamans…Out of addiction to the scandalous and unusual, he calls himself a Buddhist. It is more likely that he belongs to some far-right Baltic sect. His enemies call him the ‘Mad Baron.’”

Baron Roman Fedorovich von Ungern-Sternberg was born on December 20th, 1885 in Graz (Austria) to a family of Baltic aristocrats living in Estonia. His family can be traced back to at least the 18th century. According to reliable data, two of his ancestors belonged to the Knights of the Teutonic Order and fell at the hands of the Poles. His family members served the Order, then Germany, and, finally, the Russian Tsar and Russian Empire. According to the baron himself, his grandfather converted to Buddhism while in India, after which his father and he himself also became Buddhists. The baron graduated gymnasium in Reval (Tallinn) and attended a cadets school in St. Petersburg, where in 1909 he was sent to a Cossack corps in Chita. During an officers quarrel in Chita, the baron challenged his opponent to a duel and wounded him. The baron himself sustained a serious injury, as a result of which he would experience severe headaches throughout the rest of his life, to the point that at times he lost the ability to see.

Because of this duel, the baron was expelled from the corps in July of 1910, from then onwards beginning a journey around Siberia accompanied by only one companion – his hunting dog Misha. Somehow he ended up in Mongolia, which was destined to be his fate. This strange, desert-stretched, wild, ancient and harsh country fascinated Ungern. In Mongolia, the baron managed to get into personal contact with the living Buddha, Kutuktu, the supreme figure of Mongolian Lamaism. At the time, Mongolia was experiencing a revival of imperial sentiments and was seeking independence from China. In Urga, the Mongolian capital, the baron’s determined character was soon noticed, and Kutuktu himself appointed Ungern commander of the Mongol cavalry. Taking advantage of the unrest and revolution in China, the Mongols succeeded in expelling the Chinese occupants from their country, and in 1911 the “living Buddha” established an independent monarchy in Mongolia. 

The baron’s military services for Kutuktu were duly noted, and he became a deeply revered figure in the Mongol world. Before his departure from Mongolia, Baron Ungern, accompanied by his friend Prince Djam Bolon. At the latter’s insistence, Ungern visited a clairvoyant of a most ancient and respected shamanic line. In this fateful moment, in a trance, the clairvoyant revealed to Baron Ungern the secret of his spiritual nature:

I see the God of War…

He rides a gray horse across our steppes and our mountains. You will

Rule over a vast territory, oh white God of War.

I see blood, lots of blood…

A horse…

Lots of blood.

Red blood…

I see no more. The White God of War has disappeared.”

In 1912, Ungern visited Europe – Austria, Germany, and France. According to the testimonies offered in Krauthof’s book on Ungern, Ich Befehle (“I order”), in Paris the baron met and fell in love with the woman of his heart, Danielle. This was just on the eve of the First World War. True to his duty and on the order of the Tsar, the baron was compelled to return to Russia to take his place in the ranks of the imperial army.

Ungern set off back to the Homeland with his sweetheart, Danielle. But in Germany he was threatened with arrest for being an officer of the enemy army. The baron took an extremely risky journey on a small boat across the Baltic Sea. The little vessel was wrecked in a storm, and the lady was killed. The baron’s survival was nothing more than a miracle. From that time on, the baron would never be the same. Thenceforth he paid no attention to women. He became extremely ascetic and extremely, inhumanely cruel. In his review of Krauthof’s book, Julius Evola wrote: “Great passion incinerated all the human elements inside of him, and from then on only the sacred force that stands above life and death remained in him.”

The maelstrom of war pulled him in. The baron fought with inimitable courage against the Austrians, sustaining multiple wounds and being awarded the Cross of St. George and the Sword of Honor for his bravery and selflessness. After the Bolshevik revolution, Ungern was one of the first to engage in merciless battle with the Reds under the command of Ataman Semenov. And in this war, he distinguished himself with unbridled courage, steadfastness, and superb knowledge of military strategy.

Ungern gradually organized his own division consisting of Russian officers, Cossacks, and indigenous Siberians (especially Buryats) who remained faithful to the Emperor. Its full name was the Asian Cavalry Division. Incredible, inhuman discipline reigned in Ungern’s units. The slightest offenses were punished in the most merciless manner up to the death penalty.

Major Antoni Aleksandrowicz, a White officer of Polish origins and former Mongolian artillery instructor, wrote:

Baron Ungern was an outstanding man, extremely complex both psychologically and politically. (1) He saw in Bolshevism the enemy of civilization. (2) He despised Russians for having betrayed their legitimate sovereign and failing to cast off the communist yoke. (3) Nevertheless, among Russians he singled out and liked ordinary peasants and soldiers while he fiercely hated the intelligentsia. (4) He was a Buddhist who was obsessed with the dream of creating a knightly order in the likes of the Teutonic Order and Japanese Bushido. (5) He strove to create a gigantic Asian coalition, with which he wanted to set off on a conquest of Europe to turn it towards the teaching of the Buddha. (6) He was in contact with the Dalai Lama and the Muslims of Asia. He wielded the title of Khan of Mongolia as well as the title of ‘bonze’, or an initiate of Lamaism. (7) He was ruthless to an extent that only an ascetic could be. The absolute absence of sensitivity that was typical of him can be encountered only among beings who know neither pain, joy, pity, nor sorrow. (8) He possessed an extraordinary mind and considerable knowledge. His ability as a medium allowed him to completely accurately understand the nature of whomever he spoke with from the first minute of conversation.”

This account of Baron Ungern, left by a man who served him, was published in 1938 by none other than René Guénon himself in the main Traditionalist organ, the journal Études Traditionnelles.

***

Mongolia once again lost its independence, and its capital, Urga, was occupied by Chinese troops who actively cooperated with Bolshevik agents and provocateurs among the local population. Kutuktu, the living Buddha, was arrested. The absolutely sovereign, spiritually-incarnated, theocratic ruler of Great Free Mongolia was made into a pathetic prisoner.

The White Cause gradually lost on all fronts. After Kolchak’s defeat, only Ataman Semenov and Baron Ungern posed serious, fierce resistance in the East. Pressed on all sides by the Reds, the Asian Cavalry Division entered Mongolia. Its ranks were composed of representatives of many peoples – both European and Asia. Having lost the Russian Empire, the heroes of the Asian Cavalry Division, faithful to the Principle, marched on to restore the Mongol Empire.

Ungern gradually devised a desperate geopolitical plan to create a unique zone in Asia, or more precisely in Mongolia, free from both Bolshevik influence and the troops of the profane West. It would be a unique world in which the ancient laws of the Sacred Tradition would be in force. Ungern was familiar with the books of Saint-Yves d’Alveydre, and knew of the existence of the secret, underground country of Agarttha, where the laws of time are not in effect and where the King of the World, the Chakravarti, resides. Like the Knights Templar, who not only guarded European pilgrims from the Saracens, but also protected the great mysteries of spiritual knowledge from degenerate Catholicism and the secularizing French monarchy, Ungern aimed to create a special zone between the shrines of Tibet, where according to legend lies the entrance to Agarttha, and the rest of the world.

The Name of Mongolia – Khalkha – means ‘Shield.’ It is the ancient homeland of Genghis Khan, the restorer of the Empire of Ram. The mission of Mongolia is to serve as an obstacle in the path of the rabid hordes of apocalyptic humanity – the Gogs and Magogs of Bolshevism, democracy, and the profane world, the freaks of the modern world…Here, and none other than here, Tradition must be restored and a fight be put up against the forces of the West, the citadel of perversion, the source of Evil. The whole destiny of my line is that of going to the East, to the Rising Sun. I have no heirs and I have reached the Eastern edge of Eurasia myself, on my own. There is nowhere further to go. From this magical point of sacred geography shall begin the Great Restoration…Khalkha – the sacred steppes, the Great Shield.”

Ungern entered Mongolia not as a leader of the last unit of an army battered by the Reds, but as a “mythological hero”, an incarnation of the God of War, as the fulfiller of the Swedish mystic Swedenborg’s testament that “only the sages of the Eurasian steppes of Tartary” – Mongolia – “can find the key to the mysteries of the sacred cycles and the original mystical manuscript long ago lost by humanity under the strange title “The War of Jehovah.”

Ungern’s troops neared Chinese-occupied Urga. On February 3rd, 1920 the baron ordered an attack on the Mongol city of Urga, defended by a Chinese garrison which greatly outnumbered the baron’s warriors. Thanks to a rapid and frantic operation in which Ungern himself took part, his men managed to free Kutuktu, the living Buddha, who was guarded by a large and well-armed Chinese unit. Afterwards, the Asian Cavalry Division, together with Mongol units that joined the baron, attacked Urga. It was a brilliant and extremely important Victory. Tradition and Order were restored in Mongolia. Kutuktu appointed the baron the absolute dictator of Mongolia. Baron Ungern became the first European to receive the title Khan of War, Khan-Chan-Chun.

The first part of this mad plan, parallels to which can only be found in the magnificent and brilliant Middle Ages, not in the “skeptical” and “cynical” 20th century, seemed to be coming true. Henceforth, the dictator of Mongolia, Khan-Chan-Chun, or simply Ungern-Khan, the cruel and noble ascetic, initiated his plan to restore the sacred meaning of Khalkha, the magical Shield of the earth.

No, this is not a fairy tale, not a hallucination. This really happened. Relatively recently.

In dark times, the purity of a hero draws such resistance from the degenerate surrounding environment that curbing and subordinating it necessitates extraordinary means. It is only a matter of course that the majority of officers and soldiers of the Asian Cavalry Division, the Russian Cossacks, and servants did not comprehend the sacred ideals of the mad baron. Kolchak and Wrangel’s failures, apathy, and fatigue all demoralized the army. Many could not resist drinking, stealing, looting, and deserting…The corrupting spirit of the decomposing emigration, the Harbin Russian saloons, and vacant spaces among Parisian taxi drivers – all with Russian tears, saliva, and sighs – all irresistibly tempted the broken fragments of Kolchak’s army.

The Khan of War had to resort to extreme measures. He organized a system of severe punishments. 18 officers, some of whom were decorated veterans personally loyal to Ungern, were thrown into the icy, stormy Mongolian river for drunkery. He spared no one and nothing. Some of those who could swim survived. Some didn’t. But the drinking stopped among them and the rest of those who saw the frozen-blue, frostbitten corpses of their comrades. Such was a kind of forced conversion of the Cossacks to shamanism – after all, swimming in the river in winter in one’s clothes by virtue of internal heat, tapas, and then drying one’s clothes on the shore with the warmth of one’s own body, is a typical shamanic practice. There could not have been more appropriate conditions for indulging in such a national custom.

Colonel Sipailov, Ungern’s shadow, nicknamed the “Thug” in the army, behaved even more grimly. Sipailov was a typical “dark twin” [to Ungern]. Such grotesque characters very often accompany the personal path of great men, embodying the dark aspects of the soul of the hero. If Ungern’s brutality was founded on high spiritual asceticism and was akin to a kind to holiness, then Colonel Sipailov was a genuinely mad sadist. For abusing a yard dog, Sipailov shot the best Cossack commander in all of Ungern’s army and put his corpse on public display. Some were beaten to death with whips for all types of faults, even the tiniest spoils. Sipailov was Ungern’s Dzerzhinsky. All the means by which Ungern imposed order in Mongolia and his army strikingly resembled the Bolshevik terror – no wonder the Bolsheviks respected Ungern more than other leaders of the White movement. Behind it all one could glimpse some kind of inner affinity, a unity of common type at that magical point where extreme right meets extreme left, where opposites coincide.

Sipailov’s atrocities were wild and senseless. Only for a short time did this “black double” of Ungern soften, when he met a girl who melted the stale heart of this sadist. For some time, the officers and soldiers sighed with relief as Sipailov, so it seemed, devoted all his time to pretty little Mashenka.

However, according to eyewitnesses, the following scene eventually took place in Ungern’s quarters. Mashenka had prepared a pie for the commanders. Ungern made an exception and allowed for some champagne to be drunk. Sipailov was extremely lively and unexpectedly kind. When the officers asked him to call Mashenka to thank her for such an amazing dish, Sipailov turned pale, went out, and came back with a strange bag in his hands. He pulled the bloody, severed head of his lover out of it and, with a yellow gleam in his eyes, dumped it on the table in front of the dumbfounded officers. He added laconically: “Bolshevik agent.”

***

Mongolia was still in good hands, but the situation became increasingly ominous. The Bolsheviks were winning on all fronts. Ungern gathered his officers at his quarters in Urga:

Gentlemen, bad news. Ataman Semenov has left Chita. The Soviet General Blücher, a Red Teutonic pig, has just occupied the city. His headquarters are in Verkhneudinsk near Lake Baikal. All of Siberia is now Bolshevik.”

And Crimea?”

Crimea is gone. The remnants of Wrangel’s army have fled on the ships of our Western pseudo-allies.”

The situation was as simple and deadly as the tip of a sword. The Baron summed up in one simple phrase:

Gentlemen, there is only one combat-ready White army left: the First Asian Cavalry Division.”

Well, we are the last ones then.”

This is a catastrophe.”

No, Boris Ivanovich, it is not a catastrophe. It is an honor.”

For Ungern, Honor meant Faithfulness. Or, as the profound contemporary poetess Savitri Devi Mukherji said on an altogether similar matter: “‘Faithful when all become unfaithful—while we never forget, never forgive.”

The storm clouds were gathering. Jean Mabire’s book on Baron Ungern describes Ungern’s last meeting with Kutuktu before the Khan of War left Urga forever to move North, to Siberia, where he would put up one last fight against the Bolsheviks.

Kutuktu, the Living Buddha, took his place. His face, in black glasses, was impenetrable as always, but his terrible fatigue was felt in all its force. Only with great difficulty did the old man restrain a nervous shiver. A huge throne with a high gilded back, littered with yellow silk pillows. Ungern bowed. He glanced around. The Baron was not one to deliver long speeches, he restricted himself to an announcement of his decision:

In a few days I am leaving Mongolia. I am going to Baikal to fight our common enemy, the Reds. Your country is henceforth free, and its sons, scattered around the world, should return to their Homeland. Soon the Empire of Genghis Khan will be reborn. You must preserve the freedom that we have won.’

But in his [Kutuktu’s] soul, a storm raged: without Ungern’s support he was nothing, just a blind old man, too feeble and impotent to drive young revolutionaries like Sukhbaatar and Choibolsan out of the country.  Kutuktu asked the Baron to follow him into his office to talk one-on-one.

The divine Kutuktu walked over to a safe oddly framed against the oriental decor of the room. He fumbled with the lock for a long while. Finally, a heavy door slowly opened…Kutuktu reached up the metal shelves for a casket carved out of ivory. Inside was a ruby ring with a solar sign, the Hackenkreuz, the symbol of ancient Aryan conquerors.

Genghis Khan never took this ring off of his right hand.’

Roman Fedorovich von Ungern-Sternberg stared at the jewel in a daze. As if in a dream, he extended his hand to Kutuktu. The old man was shaking and hardly managed to put the ring of the great conqueror onto the Baron’s finger. The Living Buddha blessed Ungern. Putting his hands on his head, he pronounced:

You will not die. You will be re-incarnated in a more perfect form of being. Remember this, living god of war, Khan to whom Mongolia is owed.’

Ungern felt as if the ring was burning his hand.

The Prince of Mongolia and loyal vicar of Kutuktu went out of the palace of Nogon-Orgo. The Lamas parted in front of him. In his resolutely ringing spurs, Ungern swiftly exited the corridor, never once turning back, and went beyond the palace, where he powerlessly collapse into the back seat of a car.

To headquarters’, he told Makeev.

The Baron felt the circle closing.”

Ungern’s forces once again marched onto Russian land. Now it was no longer a war they were waging, but guerrilla operations. Nevertheless, Ungern very seriously worried the Reds. He appeared where least expected, like lighting, suddenly, and would leave destruction and death in his wake. For him, the God of War, this was natural. The best units of the Red Army in Siberia were thrown at him, and General Blücher was made personally responsible for the whole operation.

But this was already agony. In the material world, everything reaches its fateful, fatal point. Ungern, however, was submerged in another reality, where he saw pictures of triumph and victory and the realization of a cherished dream. His being imperceptibly passed on to another, subtle plane which began to interfere with ordinary reality. His subordinates increasingly came to understand that their commander was insane.

Ungern rose, brought out maps, and unfurled them. Laying them out on the grass, with a bamboo cane he traced an imaginary route. He told his faithful assistant, General Rezukhin:

More fantasy, Boris Ivanovich! We go up to Selenga. It’s worse with Urga. We need to choose. Remnants of the White armies are hiding in western Mongolia. They will start to flock to us. Not all the Atamans and Cossacks have died. Together we will go further to the west. Now we are in Altai amidst mountains, caves, gorges, and shepherds who still believe in the incarnated god of war. We can easily cross the border of western Turkestan.’

In Xingjiang the Chinese will arrest you.’

We’ll deal with them quickly and head further south. We have to go through China. Does such a possibility scare you, Boris Ivanovich? The country is falling apart, revolution is in full swing. The only people we’ll come across are cowardly looters and deserters. All together it’s some thousand kilometers, and we are in an impregnable fortress. And we can start everything all over again. Absolutely everything.’

Tibet?’

Yes. The roof of the world. The Dalai Lama, the highest priest of Buddhism, is in Lhasa. Kutuktu occupies the third tier in the hierarchy compared to him. I made a mistake in the very beginning: the center of Asia is not in Mongolia. Mongolia is only the outer circle, the Shield. We should go to Tibet.’

The baron slapped the map with his bamboo stick right on the mountain chain of the Himalayas.

There, among the peaks, we will find people who have not forgotten their Aryan ancestors. On the dizzying border of India and China, my empire will be reborn. We will speak Sanskrit and live according to the principles of the Rig Veda. We will gain the law that Europe has lost. And once again the light of the North will shine. The eternal law, dissolved in the waters of the Ganges and Mediterranean, will prevail.’

The baron rose. His eyes shined. His voice broke into a rasp. A light stubble covered his sunken, fatigued cheeks. He threw back his hair, revealing an enormous forehead. He was the lone and fragile commander of a people absorbed by the shadow of centuries. He continued:

My Order will be on the mountain tops. Between Nepal and Tibet, I will open a school where I will teach strength, which is needed more than wisdom.’

With feverishly shining eyes, he shouted:

Everything is ready! They are waiting for me in Lhasa! I will reveal the secret of the runes that came from the North and hidden in the secret caches of temples. My Order of warrior-monks will be transformed into an army the likes of which have never been seen before. Asia, Europe, and America will tremble.’

‘No’, Rezukhin said.

For the first time, a little general had dared to stand up to Ungern. But this time, it was beyond his own power. He could no longer obey unconditionally. He forgot about discipline and friendship. His hands trembled, his eyes filled with tears. He repeated:

‘No, Roman Fedorovich, no.’

The Baron winced and looked at him. It was as if the word “no” had suddenly destroyed his dream, as if a runaway avalanche had swept away his Buddhist temple perched on a cliff and he flew into the abyss with his mills for prayers and bonzes in saffron robes.

I don’t understand your plans’, Rezushin, ‘I know only one army – the Tsarist. And one religion – Christianity. But that is not the point. The point is that we will never make it to Lhasa. Look at the map. We can’t cross Chinese Turkestan. And Manchuria is just a stone’s throw away. It’s enough to just head East.’

Never!’, the Baron cried out, ‘Only Tibet!’

Ungern was almost alone, if not for the lot of those who had not been killed and who remained loyal, who had Honor, like him, and Faithfulness too. Ungern rode across the Altai highlands on his favorite filly, Masha, and visions overcame him.

Here on the fortress monastery flies a banner with the golden horseshoe and solar sign of Genghis Khan. The waves of the Baltic Sea break against the mass of Tibet. The ascent, the eternal ascent to the roof of the world, where there is light and force. Ascent…”

The grey horse stumbled on a stone. The dream disappeared, absorbed by mirage that enveloped the sweltering earth.

The dreams of the God of War were a premonition of what is sure to happen – not now, but on another turn of the Eternal Return. He who is truly alive will never know death.

1921. The end. Betrayal. Ungern was captured by the Reds. General Blücher had ordered that Ungern be treated like a Soviet officer. The Red Guards took him to the company command post of the revolutionary military committee of the Yenisei.

Blücher personally met Ungern and proposed that he join the Bolsheviks. Both spoke in German. Blücher spoke of Eurasianists, National Bolshevism, and a special line in the Soviet leadership, a national one, which was merely superficially covered with “Marxist phraseology”, and which was striving to build a gigantic, continental, Traditionalist state not only in Mongolia, but throughout all of Eurasia. Blucher promised the Baron full amnesty and a high position. At the same time, in a secret department of the OGPU, headed by the Martinist Gleb Boki, plans were being developed for an expedition to Tibet, for the transformation of spiritual Bolshevism into a new kind of spiritual reality.

The Baron refused all the offers. Or at least that’s what official history maintains. On September 12th, 1921, Baron Ungern-Sternberg was shot. The God of War was dead.

But do Gods die? If you are asking this, you are absolutely right. They can go away, but they cannot die.

To this day, a legend circulates through Mongolian and Buryat religious circles: “From the North came a white warrior who raised the Mongols, called on them to break the chains of slavery fettering their free land. This white warrior was the embodiment of Genghis Khan, and he predicted the coming of an even greater one…”

The “even greater one” is the Tenth Avatar, the Avenger, the Triumphant, the Fearsome Judge. All Traditions call him by different names. But the essence does not change. The defeat of “ours” is only an eschatological illusion. To embrace it is immoral. Our duty is to stand to the end. It does not matter if we lose every last one and everything losable. Our Honor is in Faithfulness.

To challenge the doom of the dark ages – this gesture itself already harbors the highest reward.

And then a little later the avengers will catch up…the Last Battalion…the Wild Hunt of Odin. “Our” forces – with a golden banner flaunting the black rune UR, the sign of the Cosmic Midnight, the personal standard of the God of War, Baron Roman Fedorovich Ungern-Sternberg, harbinger of the Avatar.

Deconstructing the “Contemporal Moment”: New Horizons in the History of Philosophy

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

Chapter 1 of Noomakhia: Voiny Uma – Tri Logosa: Apollon, Dionis, Kibela (Noomakhia: Wars of the Mind – Three Logoi: Apollo, Dionysus, Cybele) (Moscow: Akademicheskii Proekt, 2014).

 

The contemporal moment: destruction/deconstruction

It is obvious that the history of philosophy must be studied by determining a starting point beforehand. It seems a matter of course that we would automatically take such to be the contemporal moment. The contemporal moment means the “here and now”, hic et nunc. This moment acts as our starting position, as our “observatory point” from which we can survey philosophy as the history of philosophy. The history of philosophy thus unfolds in our direction, towards us. This concerns both time and place: philosophy is historically situated between its “sources” (for example, the pre-Socratics) and the situation in the 21st century (in its philosophical self-reflection). As a rule, this temporal vector is more or less reflexive, hence why the main (axial) discipline in all sectors of philosophy is the history of philosophy. By virtue of fixating on this historico-philosophical vector, we acquire the possibility to be involved in this process, to consolidate our own position as that of a “philosopher” in a historico-philosophical structure. This is the nunc, the “now”, the temporal sector in which our thinking is placed, if it wants to be “philosophical.”

Hence follows the rather important conclusion that was fully drawn between Heidegger and his call for “phenomenological destruction” in Sein und Zeit [1], and Jacques Derrida who developed this thesis into the methodology of “deconstruction” [2]. The history of philosophy, according to Heidegger, is tethered in his case to ontology, to the question of being, and, thereby being an onto-history, Seynsgeshichtliche, is a continuity of stages at each of which the question of being is treated uniquely. As follows, the history of philosophy is a logical structure or a series of logical structures which can be more or less described in ontological terms which in turn determine the place and significance of a philosophy or philosophical school in the overall historico-philosophical process. Determining a philosopher or school’s place in this continuity, which has strict temporal and cultural frameworks (from the pre-Socratics to Nietzsche to Heidegger himself), is equivalent to correctly understanding their philosophy and, accordingly, allows for the meaning of such to be revealed. This is ontological destruction – the placement of a philosopher or philosophical tendency through the revelation of the fundamental paradigm of their ontological positions (often hidden, veiled, or implicit) in a strictly notional sequence: 

The First Beginning (pre-Socratics) -> The End of the First Beginning (Plato and Aristotle) -> the middle – the Middle Ages (Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, etc.) -> The Beginning of the End – New Time (modernity – Descartes, Leibniz, and up to Kant) -> The End of the End (Hegel and Nietzsche).

Destruction is the placement of a philosopher into this sequence in order to reveal his place in the history of philosophy, and thus the meaning of his philosophizing.

For Jacques Derrida, the history of philosophy is a text, the structure of which is determined by the intersections of semantic lines. This is a view which more or less repeats, albeit in nuanced and detailed form, Heidegger’s axial construction. Thus, for both Heidegger and Derrida, it is important to place a philosopher in the context in which the semantics of his constructs are found to represent quotations, polemics, or the overturning or reproduction of the discourses that are at disposal before and around him in the “grammatological fabric.” In this case, deconstruction is the attentive inspection of this fabric’s patterns, in which any “authorship” is conceived as no more than a locus of quotations compiled in an ordered manner. Philosophy, thus, is one field of connotation, and its history comprises changes in the predominant connotative matrices and interpretive algorithms. Between Heidegger and Derrida, we can place Michel Foucault and his epistemology.

Of course, such hermeneutical models of the history of philosophy distinctly crystallized around the end of the 20th century. In the 19th century, and earlier, the “contemporal moment” was described in other terms. For Kant, it was paired with the revelation of the structures of “transcendental reason”, for Hegel such was the “end of history” and the “objective spirit.” For Nietzsche, there was the maximization of the will to power in the figure of the Übermensch. In Marx, there was the horizon of the world proletarian revolution. In all cases, philosophy has been conceived exclusively as a teleological process – whether by those who have tried to give this teleology fixed forms, or those who, on the contrary, have understood history as the accumulation of a “quantity” of individual freedom (Stirner, Bergson or von Hayek/Popper).

For all of these teleologies – both the naive ones of the 19th century and those 20th century theories based on critical reflection, structuralism, and phenomenological corrections (as well as the philosophy of language and psychoanalysis) – the “contemporal moment” serves as an “observatory point”, and he who stands at this observatory point and has considered the content of the moment itself and its structures (no matter who this “someone” might be – the subject, Dasein, a rhizome, a deciphering system, a “body without organs”, a hermeneutic) is the key to the history of philosophy capable of interpreting it in relation to themselves. This is very important, since in such a perspective any preceding “contemporal moment” is conceived as a “preliminary”, “unfinished”, “incomplete” one compared to the current contemporal moment and, as follows, the nunc cannot be adequately described prius, as it does not convert into the past the “contemporality” of the present. In a certain sense, this is history as such, and the history of philosophy is the philosophical conceptualization of its structure.

The French philosopher Henry Corbin used the neologism historial in order to translate the meaning of Heidegger’s expression Seynsgeshichtliche (“onto-historical”) into French. The historial is the structure of the “contemporal moment” which predetermines its content as a teleological vector whose tip points to the nunc and presumes its beginning in the embryonic formation of the Logos.

In one way or another, any attempt to conceptualize the moments in the history of philosophy (of individual philosophers or their schools) beyond the historial, i.e., without deconstruction taking into account such explicit and convincing reflections (phenomenology, Heidegger, Post-Modernity), will look not simply naive, but ludicrous. In the context of the historial, any attempt to read Plato or Hegel outside of their notional sequence, which was in one way or another noted by philosophers in the last quarter of the 20th century, would mean falling into the self-deceit of unreflexive and unstructured quoting with a guaranteed loss of semantic links. If a reading of this or that philosopher does not flow in the context of this historico-philosophical grille de la lecture, i.e., without a thorough review of this observatory point where it is situated – or, in other words, on the other end of destruction/deconstruction operations – then nonsense is guaranteed. Not a single expression, not a single review, not a single intellectual procedure stands a chance at being correctly conceptualized, and instead of philosophy and the history of philosophy, we are left with the “white noise” of gloomy cognition, a simulacrum of thinking.

This is first and foremost the case with the nunc, the historial, or the temporal aspect of philosophy. The matter stands somewhat differently with the spatial aspect, the hic.

The topos of the present: the West as a spatial telos

The contemporal moment is situated not only in a temporal sequence, but also in space, on a scale of synchronic territory. If modern philosophy has devoted enormous, if not all of its attention to the first aspect of the contemporal moment, then spatiality has been left outside of the sphere of interests. Western philosophy is wholly and completely “tempo-centric.” Consequently, in it Sein is bound to Zeit, and this bondage is absolute, as a result of which Raum, or space, is studied merely as a residual principle, as an accident. Kant placed space closer to the object; Descartes altogether identified the object with “extense” (res extensa) in contrast to the subject (res cogens). In new European philosophy, thought is the property of the subject; consequently, time is the basis of philosophy and its context. Hence the historial as a measure.

It is telling that even critiques of the structuralists’ historico-philosophical understanding have by almost no means whatsoever addressed the fate of space in philosophy and philosophical self-reflection. The principle of “spatiality” has been integrated in the form of a synchronic topology intended to serve as a semantic scale for interpreting the content of time. In other words, structuralist topology only serves the historial in the spirit of the Heideggerian sequence or Derrida’s grammatological field.

But if we upset the habitual frameworks of new European philosophy and nevertheless pose the question of “where?” with regards to the observatory point, and if we fix the hic in the famous expression hic et nunc, then we have a specific civilizational concept of the West. The West in this case strictly fulfills the same teleological function as the “now.” The contemporal moment is situated in the West, and is the point towards which all the rays of possible thinking converge, thus achieving their epiphany in none other than the West. The West is the birthplace of the Logos; the Logos is itself in the “evening land”, Hesper, Abendland. This was more or less obvious for the cultural ethnocentrism of the Greeks. It was the core of the Romans’ legal and political self-consciousness, and it became the axis of ecumenism. Then it was incarnated in the concept of universal progress in modernity. It remains the main driving force of the processes of globalization.

Husserl spoke of “European humanity” as a philosophical quintessence of the human as such. Heidegger directly and explicitly equated philosophy with Europe.

The West is the telos of earthly space just as the present is the telos of the past. Thus, “modern” philosophy can only be Western philosophy, and just as the present is the essence of the past, so is the Western the essence of the non-Western. Between nunc and hic there is thus present a direct analogy: time (the historial, or Karl Jaspers’ axial time) convenes in the “now” and space in the “here”, interpreted as “here in the West.” And in precisely the same way that the past is conceived as the not-yet-present, so is the non-Western (for example, the eastern) thought of as the not-yet-Western.

This Western European, spatio-teleological character of the contemporal moment is conceptualized much less distinctly than the historial and the structures of the history of philosophy. Unlike the paramount discipline that is philosophy which deals with the deconstruction of time, spatial correctives and schematizations are the prerogative of the applied, secondary, and even barely institutionalized sciences with weakly developed philosophical apparatuses, such as geopolitics or international relations. On a more serious level, only the first attempts have been made at relativizing the Eurocentrism of modern philosophy as such, as with Edward Said’s introduction of the notion of “orientalism” or the more foundational but not so generalized studies of cultural, social, and structural anthropology.

It is none other than the West for which the absolutization of time and radical tempo-centrism are characteristic. In reducing the historial to a structure, something constructed, and departing from the present, we automatically produce a concentric model of civilizational space in which the West is situated in the center and all the rest of humanity is in the periphery.

Just as attempting to read this or that philosopher in isolation from the historial (without deconstruction and, consequently, beyond the contemporal grille de la lecture) is today philosophical nonsense, the same status is held by all those attempts at substantiating the relevance of non-Western forms of philosophy  – in the best cases, they can be examined as extravaganza, and in the worst as obtrusive attempts by ignoramuses to force themselves upon a scientific problem on equal terms with the opinion of a scholar. What can a not-yet-Logos tell a Logos that the Logos itself does not know?

Thus we have ascertained the structure of the contemporal moment as analyzed from a temporal and spatial point of view.

Post-Modernity and distance

In the structure of post-modern philosophy, the historial is subject to steadfast analysis, and at times this attention is so detailed that the spatial aspect and characteristic Eurocentrism of Western philosophy also come into view. Combined with an anthropological approach, this yields definite preconditions for not only recognizing the structure of the observatory point as such, but also establishing a certain distance from it. The intensive reflections of post-Heideggerian (post-modern) philosophy on the nature of time, and the first glimpses into conceptualizing the spatial situation of contemporality bring us to an entirely new horizon and radically deeper level of philosophical self-reflection. What if the very observatory point from which we survey the history of philosophy, and from departing which we engage in deconstruction, is in turn nothing more than a “philosophical construct?” In other words, to what extent is the very idea of the teleology of the present moment qualified, and as follows, is tempo-centrism justified? Is the historial that serves us as a reliable tool for interpreting philosophy in turn an ephemeral and non-historical paradigm projected into the present which is not cumulative-teleological (regarding content), but arbitrary or arranged in accordance with a mechanism different from the vector of “axial time?” Finally, is the West the “only place” of the Logos, the zone towards which converge the rays of consciousness, or is this only one of many spatial receptacles of thinking alongside others? Does this mean that Eurocentrism is justified at its heart, and does it not follow that we should look for other, uniquely fully-fledged and complete dialects of the Logos?

These suspicions, of course, are left in the periphery of the philosophy of Post-Modernity, in the shadow of more habitual, inertial trends which, although are enriched, detailed, and introspective procedures, perpetuate the “dogmatic” vector of classical Western rationalism. Post-Modernity usually justifies and substantiates itself with routine practices of the contemporal moment, but the post-modern attitude nevertheless makes such suspicions and conjectures wholly natural. This inspires among those most of all worried about the possibility of breaking with the traditions of Western Modernity rather natural concerns: will Post-Modernity not altogether lead to the liquidation of the fulcra of the Western European Logos as such? If distance from the contemporal moment itself might be, even if only theoretically, justifiable, then all the claims of Western European humanity to universality immediately crumble, and this means no more nor less than the collapse of the Logos. Heidegger clearly recognized this prospect and posited that, nonetheless, the West’s teleology and contemporal moment, exposed to nihilistic catastrophe, should and could be overcome only through this moment and only in the West. This proposal consisted not in retreating from the observatory point, but in deepening the bottomless of its fall in order to, in this dramatic collapse, discover the mystery of its meaning and soar up to thrust forth Another Beginning for philosophy. Heidegger deliberately interpreted the shadow unleashed by Post-Modernity as a refusal of the burden of the “difficult knowledge of nihilism.” The decline of Europe, according to Heidegger, is the decline of being itself, and it should be experienced as such.

In post-Heideggerian philosophy, Heidegger’s tragism and heroism were rather quickly adapted into the routine of the new methodology; the anti-technological call to recognize the bottomless nothingness of such in turn became a technology. But postmodernism, albeit vapid and dubious, perhaps even by virtue of its refusal to sink deeper into the dizzying passivity of desperate Heideggerian nihilism, and at the same time not being in any position to turn Dasein’s mode of existence into authenticity (denying the Decision, Entscheidung), nevertheless slightly opened up the possibility for a step in this direction. If the Logos of the West, as far as one can tell, did not accept the Heideggerian invitation to implode, to explode in its own night, then in the very least it dissipated into bits of postmodern miasma and prepared for the last figure of dissolution. The fixation of distance with regards to the moment of contemporality and the clear and intelligible understanding of its “arbitrariness” (in spatial and temporal senses) is already the fait accompli end of the West, its philosophical end. For those for whom the telos of the historial was the only permissible “lifeworld”, this meant the “end of everything.” But here is where the most significant aspect manifests itself: what if the historial, with its fundamental tempo-centrism and concomitant Eurocentrism, with the structure of its Logos and grating deconstruction/ontological destruction, is but one among numerous and equivalent possibilities for reasonably organizing the world? If this is so, then the finale experienced by Western philosophy is no more than an episode in a more complex and multipolar philosophical picture where there might be multiple observatory points and multiple understandings of time, space, and Logos.

Post-Modernity as a whole, of course, does not gravitate in this direction, remaining as it has under the wonted hypnosis of its Eurocentric contemporality, but the distance in question here becomes an open possibility with the dissipation of the European Logos. In Post-Modernity, the structures of this Logos become so blurred and scattered, so unintelligible and weak, that breaking with their suggestiveness turns out to be an extremely easy endeavor. That the strength of this Logos’ inertia is such that the clutch of its impact on the people of the West themselves does not let up even when the nature of rationality itself withers and dissipates in front of their very eyes – that is another matter altogether. The ends no longer come together and liberation from dogma leads to liberation from the process of liberation by virtue of which the subject itself evaporates – after all, Post-Modernity recognizes not only God, but man himself as an “apparatus of suppression”, a “repressive machine”, and thus the freedom of man transforms into freedom from man. This is the logical result. It is a paradox, but today higher humanism means dehumanization or transhumanization. Tragedy thus imperceptibly slips into farce.

Simply stepping away from the observatory point becomes a simple endeavor only for those capable of digressing from the residual hypnosis of the historial, which means that it is by no means simple. Nonetheless, the philosophical space for this has been prepared, and if the distance which we have been discussing is taken as the object of our heightened attention, then we can rather easily differentiate a spectrum of philosophical procedures with which we can feel out a different fulcrum or even a whole constellation of such fulcra in order to, departing from it/them, observe and subject the contemporal moment to deconstruction, thus demolishing the ponderability of temporal and spatial teleology, i.e., the Western Logos’ claims to exclusivity.

Hence the proposal to move in the direction of this new distance and new fulcra, and let the dead bury their dead.

The phenomenology of philosophy as a method

How can this distance be embodied in philosophical practice? Theoretically, the most principled manner is to escape the hypnosis of the contemporal moment, to calmly and with complete self-control refuse the pressure posed by both the historial (the trajectory of the history of philosophy towards the point at which we find ourselves on the scale of historical temporality) and Eurocentrism. To this end, philosophy can be seized through several strategies:

  • the phenomenological
  • the anthropological
  • the Traditionalist

Surely there are other ways by which to resolve this issue, but for now we limit ourselves to these three trajectories. Let us begin with phenomenology. The phenomenologist philosophers, setting before themselves the goal of clarifying the structure of the processes of logical thinking at the first stage, that preceding the engagement of properly logical (in the spirit of Aristotle) procedures of reasoning, transitioned from revealing the nature of intentionality (Brentano) to the concepts of noesis or noema and the “lifeworld” (Husserl). This line was picked up and developed in a particularly original manner by early Heidegger, as a result of which he arrived at Dasein. Phenomenology proposes that we focus our attention on studying the structures of thinking in their pre-logical phases, when consciousness “naively” and “uncritically” operates with its own “representations” (Vorstellungen), by substituting the objects themselves theoretically outside of the subject with the corresponding noema inhabiting consciousness. This logic is constructed upon ascertaining the obvious (evidential) ostensibility of the object, thus as a matter of course accomplishing the step of transcendentalizing. At the heart of this process lies phenomenality itself, on which consciousness usually does not fixate as it instantly flies above this level. However, in phenomenologists’ opinion, it is none other than this phenomenality which is the most authentic and evidential state, and all other procedures of consciousness, including rational logic, are built on top of such with a greater or lesser degree of self-reflection. Thus, in order to achieve a precise and scientifically credible tracing of the basic processes of gnosiology on which thinking, logic, philosophy and science are built, it is necessary to intentionally study the phenomenal level which affects all other stages, hiding under their complexity and thereby dimming clear representations of nature and basic trajectories of thought.

The phenomenological method has been borrowed by the most diverse humanitarian disciplines from sociology to anthropology and psychology. Everywhere where it has been employed, the point has been explaining the arrangement and mechanisms of those structures on a level lesser and more primordial than that of logical thinking. Heidegger constructed his existential analytics on this basis.

In the field of the history of religions, the phenomenological method was actively used by Henry Corbin, who argued that religious doctrines cannot be understood on the grounds of purely, rationally formulated theological dogma and doctrines or by ignoring the inner experience of religious life. It is precisely studying this experience, which may very well contradict our ideas about the structure of the real, possible, and actual, that only can and should construe more complex religious systems. If we ignore this “lifeworld” of the religious person, then our understanding of religious doctrine will be superficial and completely incorrect. After all, we would miss the main and most essential foundation, that upon which such doctrine is built and whose structures it produces (whether revealing or, on the contrary, veiling them). Therefore, Corbin, who studied Islamic mysticism and Iranian Shi’ism in particular, emphasized that in order to understand religion, one must learn to live it from within. Hence why, in some passages, Corbin, himself a Protestant, wrote “we, Shiites” and believed that without such methodological identification with the sphere under study, without such immersion into the phenomenology of religious experience, no reliable judgement concerning the religion under study is possible.

Franz Boas’ cultural anthropology and Claude Lévi-Strauss’ structural anthropology call for studying archaic societies in a similar manner. Archaic man lives in a phenomenal world qualitatively different from the one in which the man of European Modernity lives. They differ not only on the level of development of logical thinking (as the sociologist and ethnologist Lucien Lévy-Bruhl tried to demonstrate), but in the profoundly different organization of the world of phenomena, including taxonomies, the allocation of basic entities, symmetries, and classifications. Lévi-Strauss argued that in archaic tribes and non-literate cultures we are dealing not with a pre-logical type of thinking, but with a different kind of logic that is no less developed than that of European people in Modernity, but is structured around different algorithms and thereby yields different results and gnosiological/ontological systems.

In sociology, an analogous method was employed by Husserl’s student, Alfred Schütz, who proposed to study society by abstracting oneself from the sum of our a priori knowledge of such and any notions of the purported “objectivity” of existing (non-existing) objects of the outside world and their autonomous significance. Different societies, in Schütz’s understanding, operate with different “lifeworld” structures; as follows, they construct different phenomenological systems which at the next stage determine their views of reality, whether internal, external, subjective, objective, etc. Analogous methods were applied by Harold Garfinkel, the founder of “ethnomethodology” who, like Schütz, focused his attention on the “horizons of everyday life” and “practices of everyday life.”

But here is what is interesting: phenomenology as such originally took shape as a philosophical current and was only later applied to other sciences – the phenomenological method was not applied to philosophy itself. Phenomenologist philosophers themselves based their theories on the contemporal moment and, moreover, considered phenomenology to be a more precise and reflective expression of contemporality itself. In its historical movement along the path of scientific process and with its increasing refinement of the methodology of its logical thinking, at one point “European humanity” (Husserl) began developing the sphere of philosophy not in breadth (extensively), but in depth (intensively). This was largely because the expansion of reason had reached its natural borders. This deeper plunge into reason itself is not a step back on the path of singular process in raising the general level of rationality, but a step forward allowing to make those spheres which had previously evaded the arranging and authority of logical procedures into objects of rational attention. Albeit with significant corrections, Heidegger’s philosophy was built in this vein. Philosophical phenomenology, thus, is not only not equivalent to the phenomenology of philosophy, but altogether does not imply the possibility of the latter.

Nevertheless, by making a reverse circle and moving through phenomenological sociology, anthropology, ethnology, and the phenomenology of religion, we can try to apply the phenomenological method to philosophy itself by employing a method opposite to that of deconstruction that reveals the structure of the historial. This is an invitation to perceive this or that philosophical system outside of the context of the history of philosophy, outside of the context of our knowledge about the structure of time, history, reality, the subject and object, and outside of ontology, which we have erected on the basis of the contemporal moment (whether consciously or by inertia). In other words, the phenomenology of philosophy offers the possibility of authentically experiencing the phenomenological basis at the heart of a concrete philosophical Logos, which is taken as a reliable contemporal moment only at a distance from the contemporal moment which constitutes the structure of our philosophical “I.” Thus, an anthropologist immerses himself in the life of an archaic tribe in order to understand its language, its senses, and beliefs from within this life itself, from the experience of being within the tribe, and not from the grounds of superficial comparison with terms, things, practices, meanings, and beliefs which he knows from his personal experience of belonging to modern Western civilization. Since Boas, and especially under the influence of Lévi-Strauss, only field studies grounded in the method of “participant observation”, empathy, and immersion in the phenomenology of the lifeworld of an archaic tribe are considered anthropologically credible. The phenomenology of philosophy should be constructed in a similar way: in order to understand how this or that philosopher thought, it is necessary to trace his thought from the lifeworld to the logical formulation of thought on the high level of logical expression. But this is possible only at a distance from the contemporal moment and its fundamental content, i.e., through the procedure of removing the philosophical identity of the phenomenologist of philosophy. In Heidegger we can see attempts at such a reading of the Greek philosophers and participative immersion into their lifeworld. But the historial in Heidegger supersedes this initiative in full measure, since assigning the pre-Socratics to the First Beginning, and Plato and Aristotle to the end of the First Beginning, forces one to place other relevant doctrines in consciously specified semantic contexts. Heidegger sees the “Greek” and “first beginning” elements in the pre-Socratics on the basis of his reconstruction of the history of philosophy, that is, through performing ontological destruction. Therefore, he also anxiously discarded everything among the Greeks that seemed to him to be “non-Greek” (eastern or oriental – which is clearly evident in his Greece travel journal). In the exact same way, he takes that which does not fall under the “first beginning” among the pre-Socratics (for example, some expressions from Anaximander’s fragments in the likes of the pair of terms γένεσις and φτορά) and attributes such to later contaminations [3]. Furthermore, everything in Platonism which does not fall under his understanding of “finiteness in the First Beginning” – which encompasses no more nor less than the whole scope of “open Platonism”, such as apophatism, the super-essence of the Good in the Republic and the One in Parmenides [4] – is subject to the same censuring. In any case, the level of Heidegger’s self-reflection was so high and transparent that his understanding of the contemporal moment is unprecedented in the profundity of his generalizations of the structure of this moment, which were the most penetrating and convincing (even if their formulation involved his resorting to a certain hermeneutical censorship), and his attempts to immerse himself in Ancient Greek thought were the most successful and authentic among all analogous initiatives.

The phenomenology of philosophy (unlike phenomenological philosophy) proposes that we completely opt out of hermeneutic procedures which presume some starting position (even as a basis for comparison). In clearly accounting for ourselves in the structure of the contemporal moment, in its modernist/postmodernist historial and its Eurocentrism, and in approaching a philosopher or philosophical school separated by time or space from this observatory point, we must effect a radical change in our phenomenological position; we must completely relocate ourselves to a new observatory point where the lifeworld of the person we are studying is situated and from which his ideas and contemplation came. If a philosopher says something about “eternity”, “heaven”, “immortality”, “God”, or “angels”, it follows that such should be understood not in terms of what we know about “time”, the “atmosphere”, the “vacuum”, the “death of God”, or the “naive ridiculousness of faith in angels”, but on the grounds of how this philosopher himself understood, lived, and perceived that of which he speaks. Any discourse on eternity from a human who credibly and absolutely knows (the contemporal moment) that there is no nor can there be any “eternity”, will be perceived either as an allegory, a hyper-exaggerated image, a metaphor, or as a sign without meaning, an empty set. In such a case, one lifeworld (the contemporal) is acting as a judge, prosecutor, and accuser (this is the original meaning of the Greek word διάβολος) of another lifeworld by denying it the right to defend its phenomenological grounds that are completely usurped by contemporaility. If we are capable of logically assessing the arbitrariness of such a loaded approach (explainable through the Nietzschean will to power or Heideggerian Gestell), then the distance from the contemporal moment will take shape on its own, and this means that we are breaking from it and acquiring the ability to embark on a genuine philosophical journey from one observatory point to another observatory point.

The anthropology of philosophy

The case of the anthropology of philosophy is almost the same as that of anthropology. The school of philosophical anthropology of Max Scheler, Arnold Gehlen, etc., took its roots from Kant’s remarks on the anthropological essence of thinking – which can be considered a new formulation of the sophist Protagoras’ maxim that “man is the measure of all things” – a standpoint which was embedded in the language of modernity. However, philosophical anthropology, as a typical product of the contemporal moment, has nothing in common with the anthropology of philosophy. The anthropology of philosophy proceeds from the plurality of human societies and the diversity of their structures as meaningful outside of any hierarchies or subordinations. Man is a plural phenomenon, anthropology (or at least new anthropology) argues, and the societies built by him reflect this essential plurality which can be studied by comparing them, but they cannot be categorically defined on a quantitative scale of primitive/superior, developed/underdeveloped, rational/irrational, savage/civilized, childishly naive/adultly serious and rigorous. A human belonging to a “primitive” (archaic) society and a human formed in a modern, highly-differentiated society (again, the contemporal moment) are both people in a full sense, and their differences are not amenable to hierarchization into greater/lesser, higher/lower, better/worse. It cannot be said that red is “better” than yellow or that savory is “tastier” than sweet, just as it is impossible to argue that larks are “more perfect” than foxes or whales “more perfect” than sharks. Anthropology draws attention to man as a matrix of the society he creates. Once the structure of a human is different, then societies will reflect these differences and repeatedly refract them in the play of reflections, shadows, and flares.

By applying this principle to philosophy – something which anthropologists and even philosophical anthropologists virtually never do – we acquire a myriad of contemporal moments containing historico-geographical (historico-cultural) positions proper to different philosophers, each of which moments should be studied in their internal logic, harmony, symmetry, and by placing the position of the scholar (and his contemporal moment) in brackets. This approach is the qualification of the anthropologist who studies different (archaic) societies and is obliged for the sake of such to operate with a maximally possible pure experience of understanding culture. At the same time, he must obviously, consciously forbid himself from permitting any projections of his own culture and any hierarchizations or hastily drawn systems of correspondences. But anthropologists deal mainly with cultures that are non-literate and have poorly developed systems of rational self-reflection (Lévy-Bruhl’s principle of “mystical complicity”). Myth, ritual, symbol, sacred rite, and initiation by definition deny transparent rationalization. Hence, the open (emphatic) position of anthropologists is considered here to be at once applicable and justified by the difficulty (or impossibility) of establishing precise correspondences between a rational set and set of para-rational (which does not mean “irrational” or “sub-rational” as were so convinced the 19th century evolutionist anthropologists before Boas and Lévy-Strauss). This principle has not been applied to philosophy insofar as it has been believed that transitioning to a rational system means leaving the sphere of the “para-rational” and the implicit (the mythological, symbolic, and mystical) and entering the sphere of universal self-reflection, where such anthropological operations become irrelevant. Thus, from an anthropological point of view, we are affirming a “measure of things” not simply of man, but of modern Western man, and we are assigning the philosophy which has guided this modern Western man the status of a universal algorithm allowing for the interpretation of all other philosophical systems, both non-modern and non-Western. In the study of archaic cultures, such anthropological suprematism (=cultural racism) was categorically rejected for humanistic, ethical, and scientific reasons. But in the sphere of philosophy, it has been implicitly preserved intact and not subjected to any critical reflection. The modern Western philosopher measures all philosophy (ancient and non-Western as well as modern Western) proceeding from the criteria of the absolute superiority of modern Western philosophy as the cumulative telos for all other systems. At the heart of this lies a mono-polar anthropology based in implicit racism.

At first glance, the impression might be had that applying anthropological methodology to philosophy takes us back to a state of naivety and contradicts the methodology of destruction/deconstruction. This is not so. Deconstruction might very well be an excellent propaedeutic for the anthropology of philosophy since it studies in detail the structure of the context in which this or that philosophical system was created or this or that philosopher thought. If we ignore deconstruction, we miss the most important point of language and the semantic structures of the grammatical field in which a particular philosophy is situated. But by including deconstruction as a method, we must simultaneously subject the contemporal moment itself to deconstruction, i.e., deconstruct that which produces deconstruction, which means once again standing at a distance from the observatory point. Deconstruction forbids naively reading a philosopher without indicating his context and semantic ties. This is the force and significance of deconstruction. But in establishing such context and such links, he who engages in deconstruction is in turn operating with the algorithm of the teleological historial which only allows one to order the field of a text. The historial itself is necessary for deconstruction, and the clearer it is realized, the more reliable the result of a deconstruction. But two positions are permissible to take with regards to the historial: one can be under its suggestive, interpretive influence, i.e., be under it, or one can take a certain distance in relation to it, and apply deconstructive reflection and a particular apperception to it. The second case is an invitation to stand above the historial or outside of it. By not curtailing deconstruction in favor of “new naivety”, and by in parallel with this deconstructing the one engaged in deconstructing, we reach the field of the anthropological method in philosophy. In exploring the philosophy of any philosopher and placing it in a well defined context (deconstruction), we should simultaneously perceive such as something open, excluding from our methodology everything that we know with regards to the future and the past vis-a-vis the observatory point in which the philosopher under study is situated. By knowing in advance the end of the play, we unwittingly apply this knowledge to its first acts. It is this which prevents us from genuinely enjoying the action and turns us from participants in the action into the audience or, in the best case, actors ourselves. What truly delights us is the acting of the actors who force us to forget about how the performance will end and who immerse us in the tension of the dramatic moment. Only in this moment, when we seriously begin to believe that the events in the spectacle might actually go quite differently from what we might know from having repeatedly read the script or seen the production, can we talk about any full effect accomplished. The theater becomes what it originally was – an action, a mystery, a transformative act. This is an open theater, a play whose outcome is known neither by the director, the actors, nor, of course, the viewers.

Applying this metaphor to philosophy, he who carries out deconstruction without deconstructing himself and his actions, can be likened to a person who knows the script well and, over the course of the spectacle, obsessively narrates to his neighbor what is happening and how it will end. Sometimes the skeptical and all-knowing expressions of the audience are enough to simply break the spell of theatrical magic. Such annoying companions are capable of nullifying all the drama of the production. Thus, the principle of the “open theater”, in which the content of the drama at its peak breaks away from the rigid frameworks of the script, can be applied to the open history of philosophy based on the anthropological method. If we knowingly rule out that a philosopher whom we are studying might mean something other than what we know of him in identifying his place in the paradigm of the historial, we render ourselves unfit for a real meeting with him. Yet for some reason we dare to describe this weakness of our own spirit as indicating superiority, greater universality of our position, or in accordance with the rules of ethnocentrism and cultural racism. In behaving so, we forbid ourselves from being surprised, and this means we make ourselves completely unfit for philosophy.

Conversely, in applying the anthropological principle to philosophy, we immediately find ourselves in a complex, saturated, and unpredictable world where surprise can seize us at every turn. This is the open philosophy of history, which a priori recognizes the anthropological dignity of all thinkers, none of whom are considered below us, our contemporal moment, or our observatory point regardless of whether it is modern and Western or non-modern and non-Western. The most consistent representatives of postmodern philosophy are moving in this direction as long as they do not stray from this path towards particularities, towards fascination with minor and obsessive details of liberation strategies which in one way or another retain an inertial connection to the arterial tendency of Modernity’s historial, that tendency which has exerted its teleological (anthropologically racist) influence on Post-Modernity in proposing liberation from the details, but remaining in slavery to the overall picture.

Untergang

Before moving on to Traditionalism as the third strategy for attaining distance from the contemporal moment, it is worth dwelling on how Martin Heidegger, the key figure in the clarification of the historial, understood the vector of time in its Seynsgeschichtliche dimension. Heidegger can be seen as a transitional element between those who recognized the indispensability of the contemporal moment in the spirit of Western European philosophy, and the Traditionalists who, on the contrary, as we will see a little later, offered their version of finding the desired distance. The fact is that Heidegger, recognizing the fatality of time confronting the present and the centrality of the West as the birthplace and place of development of the Logos, deciphered the trajectory of time as “descent”, Untergang, “decline”, “flight of the gods”, and as the “abandonment of being” (Seinsverlassenheit). Herein lies the fundamental difference between Heidegger and the majority of philosophers of Modernity and Post-Modernity who, on the contrary and as a rule, treated history as ascent, accumulation, discovery, and movement forwards and upwards. For Heidegger, the contemporal moment is the point of Midnight towards which we are heading from the evening. He decoded the history of philosophy as a process of descent, decline, concealment, immersion, and oblivion. Thus, his philosophy is profoundly tragic, and its eschatology is paradoxical, for at the moment of maximal darkness, Dasein is supposed to remember its Seyn-Being and decipher the pain of its absence as Gottesnacht, “the night of the gods”, as a call to realize Ereignis, “the Event.” Heidegger saw the telos in the moment of Midnight, in the very center of which the sacrament of Dasein switching its mode of existing from the inauthentic to the authentic must be accomplished.

Such a dualistic attitude towards the contemporal moment as a lower threshold, intended as the point from which begins (or should begin) the return, is, however, problematic, as such is not guaranteed. The return might not begin and, at any rate, such presupposes a perspective opposite to that of the historial which inspired Heidegger’s love for Greek thought and his striving to live and think it along with the very creators of the First Beginning of philosophy. Imagining himself as the one completing Seynsgeschichte, Heidegger felt a deep yearning for those who began such. Thus, distance from the contemporal moment was conquered in parallel to phenomenological destruction, without cancelling or replacing it.

The case of Heidegger is unique in many respects, but what interests us in this situation is that the Beginning of philosophy (from the first to the last phase with Plato and Aristotle) in his specific model of the historial is conceived as a philosophical chord followed by descent, Untergang, which leads to the present, and not vice versa as a “childish” and “long-overcome” phase of philosophy. In this regard, the Ancient Greeks and in particular the pre-Socratics are exalted to unattainable heights. As follows, comprehending them is possible only by degree of radically distancing ourselves from the present through the elevation, the “return”, the επιστροφή of the Neoplatonists.

Heidegger distinguishes the Untergang from those who realize themselves in it and see it for what it truly is – the Untergang. One can be simply fascinated by the flow of history, and one can clearly and penetratingly realize that the movement of the historial is a fall into the abyss. Those who recognize time as falling, Heidegger calls “the descending”, the Untergehende. They, unlike all others, descend consciously, clearly perceiving their endeavor without illusions or fears, although not without horror. For them, the Untergang is the Untergang; they see descent as descent, while all others, not being the “descending”, the Untergehenden, can feed themselves with illusions and methodically rise to the luring and guaranteed horizon of “progress.”

Such an interpretation of the historial as Untergang converges Heidegger with the Traditionalists, whose methods we will now examine.

Traditionalism

The philosophy of Traditionalism [5], otherwise termed Philosophia Perennis or “perennialism”, is of colossal significance to our topic. First established and formulated by René Guénon, this philosophy, as correctly noted by René Alleau, can be considered alongside Marxism the “most revolutionary trend in modern philosophy” [6]. If we approach Traditionalism with due scrutiny, we will soon realize that this comparison with Marxism, albeit paradoxical at first glance, is absolutely justified. The Traditionalists’ appraisal of values is, in a whole number of parameters, far more radical, revolutionary, and uncompromising than the ideas of Marx (as well as those of the other “philosophers of suspicion” among whom Nietzsche and Freud are usually numbered).

Of importance to us at the present moment is how Traditionalism helps establish distance with regards to the contemporal moment and, accordingly, why we have distinguished it as an independent strategy. The very structure of Traditionalist philosophy is in many respects close to that of Heidegger’s, insofar as historical time is understood as a downward movement, degradation, a path to the bottom. The Traditionalists extracted this from religious doctrines and myths (including even from the monotheistic religions), as well as from their analysis of the ontological transformations and changes in the state of the cosmos. However, unlike Heidegger, in Traditionalism the scale of degradation takes on a much more extensive scope and goes far beyond European philosophy. If for Heidegger history is the thread of the Logos stretched between the pre-Socratics and himself as an heir and eschatological figure of German classical philosophy, then for the Traditionalists this period is thought of as only one fragment of descent, of the Untergang, amidst more general and fundamental processes.

For Traditionalists, time itself is a fall, or more precisely, a downward spiral. It has ensnared not only the historical European societies known to us, but the entire destiny of mankind, including the societies of the East and those “mythical” epochs from which only the most hazy legends have remained with us (for example, the legends of Hyperborea and Atlantis). Thus, the contemporal moment is conceived by Traditionalists not as a peak or telos, but as a zone of extreme degradation, a lie, oblivion, and delusion. It is the end of the road to the abyss, the moment of reaching the bottom. Accordingly, the observatory point at which modern humanity (in the era of Modernity and Post-Modernity) stands is not the top of a mountain, but the bottom of the world pit from which nothing can be seen besides dark phantoms and unwieldy fantasies. We live in a world of philosophical hallucinations in which the worse we see, the more we flaunt our foresight. Guénon called this the “reign of quantity” and interpreted it as the critical low of spirit.

Accordingly, Traditionalism completely overturns all the proportions assimilated by default by the contemporal moment:

  1. The time in which we live is an era of total poverty and ignorance. If we base ourselves on its “credibility” and “evidences”, it is impossible to correctly decipher the present, let alone the past which was related to more perfect and authentic periods of history.
  2. The West is the cultural field of accelerated degeneration and decline which surpasses other (non-Western) cultures only in the speed of its fall into the abyss.

The distance in relation to the contemporal moment here is maximal: the West and Modernity are thought of as the worst, the sterile, useless, and false which cannot be taken as any kind of reference point for comprehending anything at all. Thus, modern Western philosophy and its axioms are the worst possible philosophy based on ignorance, a wrong decision in its very basic intellectual operations, and completely delusional with regards to nature, the structure of time, space, man, the world, the primordial, the logic of history, the structure of matter, etc. Modern philosophy is arrogant and lofty nonsense. The only way to break through to philosophy lies in absolutely transgressing the foundational paradigms of Modernity and completely overthrowing the dogmas of modern Western culture, science, values, and political and social systems. All of the West and Modernity’s claims to superiority over the past and non-Western societies are completely groundless and unfounded. The modern West is incapable of understanding even its own relatively recent history (the Middle Ages), not to mention Antiquity or the profound, genuine, authentic, and competent philosophies and systems of the East.

In this operation, the observatory point of modern “Western humanity” flies away, and something directly opposite to such is taken as the starting point: Antiquity and the East, which are genuine observatory points and not simulacra. We are proposed henceforth to think against the present and against the West. Thus unfolds a completely different philosophical map on which the vector of authenticity leads not to the contemporal moment, but away from it as if from a black hole, gathering all the more meaningful and enlightening rays the further it is removed from the “center of hell.” The less Western and modern, the more genuine and authentic, the Traditionalists argue. Insofar as degradation is not limited to the West, but has much larger scale boundaries, the distance from the “black point” of reference must be constantly increased. Everything that remotely resembles “modernity” and the West, even in distant periods of history or outside of the European context, must immediately be treated with suspicion. And if we encounter anything similar in philosophy, culture, politics, society, art, etc., then we should be especially careful, for we are likely dealing with things whose trajectory is sharp and rapid fall into the abyss. The West and modernity are the essence of evil, lies, a dead-end, darkness, madness, violence, suffering, and death. And everything that resembles this, even remotely, by virtue of this very fact is dubious, suspicious, and most likely dangerous.

If modernity denies eternity and invests being in the historial of becoming, this means that only eternity is and represents a reliable basis for understanding the nature of time. There is no vice versa. If modernity insists on space being isotropic, i.e., quantitative, then it is obvious that the truth should be the exact opposite, and the anisotropy and “natural places” of Aristotle determine the structures of “sacred geography” and the laws of climate and the elements. If modernity calls reason and corporeality the unquestionably and prime properties of man, then this is in itself sufficient reason to be sure that the body is insignificant and unbinding, nothing more than “leather garments”, and that reason is nothing more than an empty shadow that has accidentally fallen on the temporary surface from the rays of the true, divine, heavenly mind. If modernity proposes to correlate knowledge with experience, then experience as a measure of the authenticity of science should generally be excluded from consideration, for knowledge is realized through contemplation and based on intellectual intuition which grasps the eidetic essence of things rather than their dead shells and “husks.” And so on and so forth.

In other words, in Traditionalism we acquire an operational and fundamental weapon for realizing the most radical postmodernist strategy. No philosophy is capable of so fundamentally relativizing the contemporal moment and exploding the arrogant claims of Modernity and the West to universalism and the teleologicalness of their philosophy. For Traditionalists, the modern Western philosopher is a guaranteed ignoramus or senseless jester, if not a nihilist possessed by infracorporeal entities.

On the other hand, René Guénon’s follower, the Italian Traditionalist Julius Evola, upon developing this line in his book Ride the Tiger [7], came to a very interesting point: if we take eternity seriously, that is, as it was understood and experienced by the philosophers and thinkers of traditional society, then all the content of history should also, in some sense, exist forever and simultaneously. As follows in Evola’s development of this thought, “modernity” as we know it today, what we call the “contemporal moment”, i.e., “the West + Modernity”, should have been present at previous stages as well. In other words, the modern world and Tradition can be considered not in diachronic order, in which Modernity replaces Tradition over the course of degradation and descent, but synchronically, where they coexist with one another simultaneously, even in space. Thus, the forms of Tradition, the philosophy of Tradition, and the Logos of Tradition represent Heaven, and the forms of modernity the worlds of hell, the underworld, Hades, and Tartarus.

Man, as the cosmic mediator, is situated on the border between both worlds, between Tradition (above) and modernity (below). He is always straddling this border, eternally, in both the era of Tradition’s predominance, and in the periods in which modernity temporarily wins. In his eidetic, eternal dimension, man himself is this border, and the movement of his spirit, his thought, his ways and methods of philosophizing, outline the content of that which lies on either side. Through his choice of orientation, spiritual or corporeal, man constitutes the time, the epoch, the age in which he lives.

Thus, residing in the “dark age”, the Kali-Yuga, is neither a fatality, a punishment, nor something arbitrary, but the Night’s testing of the grain of eternity, of the divine center that comprises the essence of man. In other words, no matter how far away the Golden Age might be, a kernel of it remains within man as hope, as opportunity, as a fulcrum, which can always be found in refusing to unconditionally and fatalistically (or unconsciously) accept the conditions of the Iron Age. Time is an illusion. The historial is no more than a sign, a metaphor that can be deciphered in different ways and appealed to freely. We ourselves choose the time in which we live. And if man is born in the modern world and in the West’s zone of influence, this means that he is included in the profound plans of eternity, and this reflects his mission and fate. Modernity is in Tradition, and Tradition is in modernity. But in different sections of the vertical world, their proportions adjust to being polar: in Heaven (Tradition) there is only a drop of hell (the Biblical serpent that first appeared in paradise), and in hell there is a drop of Heaven. But this is enough to stretch a semantic thread of sacred history, or hiérohistoire (in Henry Corbin’s formulation) between these drops.

Thus, Traditionalism offers such a radical revolution in relation to the contemporal moment, which opens up not only the possibility of establishing the desired distance in one direction, but makes available a whole world of mountain peaks consisting of possible observatory points to be sought in Antiquity and in the East, in traditional society and in religious teachings, everywhere and among all, except the modern West and its philosophers. It bears admission that such an open and substantial philosophical perspective cannot but inspire. It proposes to discover what we ourselves have closed, to dive without skepticism and distrust of religion into ancient philosophy, mythology, traditions and beliefs, both those close (European) and distant (Asian). It is tantamount to a proposal to tear off the blindfold covering our eyes which, contrary to the assurances of false doctors, are fully capable of seeing the light and contemplating a world imbued with eidetic, sagacious rays.

We have thus prepared the basis for our further study into the structures and versions of the Logos. We have outlined what in our vision is the field upon which the main strategies of Noomachy, the wars of the mind, should take place. We have relativized the contemporal moment while leaving the possibility for periodically referencing it with the aim of clarifying its ontological content, its place in the overall construct of the different Logos worlds which we will explore along different axes – both vertical and horizontal, moving freely through times (eons) and spaces (layers of being).

In accord with Tradition, the primordial source, the quintessence, the center of all that is the Mind, the νοὖς of the Neoplatonists, the boddhi of the Buddhists, the Mind is eternal and contains everything at once. This means that it also contains us who think of it, and the world that has unfolded before It (before us) in the process of thinking about it. The world exists to the extent that it is conceived by the Mind. But the Mind, containing everything in itself, also encompasses contradictions, conflicts, falls, and descent. It contains modernity as well. Therefore, upon having rejected and undermined modernity at the very outset of our study, we must also find the latter’s rightful place in it. Truth can truly judge not only truth, but also lies, as well as that which lies between truth and lie: the opinion (δὸξα). Thus, the roots of war, tragedy, catastrophe, and problems must be sought within the Mind. In the Mind must be sought the meaning of the night of the gods and the secret of their flight that comprises the essence of modernity. But it is impossible to participate in the Mind and not be involved in the wars which It wages, which are waged within it. We cannot move towards the Logos and remain indifferent to its internal tensions, its splits and its amalgamations.

Philosophy is a mobilization to the front of the spirit. Resolute and irrevocable. We will devote ourselves and one another to such over the course of the unfolding of our book’s subject matter.

Footnotes:

[1] See paragraph six, “Die Aufgabe einer Destruktion der Geschichte der Ontologie”, in Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 2006), p. 19.

[2] Jacques Derrida, De la grammatologie (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1967).

[3] Martin Heidegger, Holzwege (Frankfurt a. M.: Vittorio Klostermann, 1972), p. 296.

[4] See Aleksandr Dugin, V poiskakh temnogo Logosa (Moscow: Akademicheskii Proekt, 2013).

[5] See Aleksandr Dugin, Filosofiia traditsionalizma (Moscow: Arktogeya-tsentr, 2002).

[6] René Alleau, De Marx a Guénon: d’une critique «radicale» à une critique «principielle» de sociétés modernes in Les Dossiers H. René Guénon (Paris: L’Âge d’Homme), p. 193. 

[7] Julius Evola, Cavalcare la tigre: Orientamenti esistenziali per un’epoca di dissoluzione (Rome: Edizioni Mediterranee, 2008).

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Proclaiming Traditionalism

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold 

The preface to the second edition of Puti Absoliuta [The Ways of the Absolute] published in Absoliutnaia Rodina [Absolute Homeland] (Moscow: Arktogeia, 1999/2000). 

 

The Ways of the Absolute was written in 1989. Its main task was presenting the foundations of Traditionalism, exhibiting how Tradition understands the most important metaphysical problems, and on what philosophical principles the sacred worldview is built. We considered the present work to be a kind of introduction to Traditionalism, as transmitting into the Russian context the main lines of such eminent modern Traditionalists as René Guénon (the founding father of this tendency), Julius Evola, etc. We pursued an altogether definite purpose, and it predetermined the topics selected, the methods of presentation, and the emphases. It was extremely important for us to at once put Traditionalist through in its proper context, and show its radical non-conformism, its rigid alternity to academic, “humanitarian” and profane philosophical trends in modern culture. Traditionalism is not a history of religions, not a philosophy, not a structural sociological analysis. It is more of an ideology or meta-ideology that is totalitarian to a considerable extent and places rather harsh demands before those who accept and profess it. Either man breaks with the totality of the worldview cliches of modernity diffused throughout his environment, completely revises his views and positions, investigates the profane genesis and then rejects them all at once in order to accept the norms of Tradition with perfect confidence and strict conviction, or he will remain essentially outside of it, outside the sacred fence, in the Eleusinian swamps of the modern world in which there is no fundamental difference between highbrow professors, philosophers, and the obedient, absolutely unreflective mass of laymen, including even those intellectuals who for “academic” reasons are interested in various “extravagant” subjects, such as theology, rituals, symbolism, traditional societies, etc.

The ambition to emphasize this aspect of Traditionalism with maximal clarity determined the structure of The Ways of the Absolute.

In the preface to the first edition of The Ways of the Absolute, we wrote the following on this matter: “‘Total Traditionalism’ arose in 20th century Europe as a special ideology standing for a complete and uncompromising return to the values of traditional, sacred civilization whose absolute negation is the modern materialist and secularized civilization – the “modern world” as such. Unlike those people who naturally belong to Tradition, the Traditionalists of the West found themselves surrounded by anti-tradition, and in order to affirm their position, they had to first and foremost reveal the elements and principles of Tradition, and declare them openly – something which would be superfluous in sacred societies and impossible in totalitarian, atheistic societies (such as communist ones, for example).”

Russian readers’ first acquaintance with the ideas of Traditionalism has, in our opinion, been quite adequate. We have succeeded in anticipating the opportunity to usurp this topic from irresponsible profane and neo-spiritualist circles.

Since the first edition of The Ways of the Absolute, the first Russian translations of the classics of Traditionalism have appeared and this trend will clearly continue. Readers can gradually, sufficiently familiarize themselves with the wholeness of the Traditionalist worldview, and then arises the new task of adequate applying such to our own tradition, to explaining what aspects of it are applicable to our reality to a full extent, and which aspects are subject to certain adjustment.

Ten years ago, the preface said: “The ideas of Guénon, whose works have hitherto been completely unknown to Russian readers, compose the foundations of this book. We have deemed it possible to avoid direct quotations of his works and chosen to freely present how we have grasped his ideas and how we have subsequently applied them in the sphere of traditional metaphysical doctrines and symbols. The present work contains a presentation of Guénon’s basic principles and concepts, whereas a detailed account of the divergences between such and our views on certain points of metaphysics would make sense only after the publication of Guénon’s main works in Russian. No matter what, it is Guénon who was and remains our spiritual guide and teacher.”

Today it can be said that this indeed happened, and in parallel to Russians’ fuller acquaintance with Guénon’s work, those aspects which were lost in the overall context of presenting the foundations of Traditionalism in The Ways of the Absolute have come to stand out. In our opinion, the gap that separates orthodox “Guenonism”, or literal adherence to Guénon’s thought in all major and minor issues, from the slightly different version of understanding metaphysical questions to which we ourselves adhere, is evermore clear. Before Guenon’s worldview became known to us in its general contours, it was premature to insist on the quality and essence of this gap, and by and large meaningless insofar as such would resemble a comparison between two unknown values. With the development of one of these values, the more prominent became the second, closely related to the first.

In The Ways of the Absolute, we based ourselves on a particular metaphysical tradition whose main lines were developed in a very closed and discrete intellectual milieu associated with such thinkers at Geydar Dzhemal, Yuri Mamleev, and Evgeniy Golovin. Having inherited from them a taste for paradoxical pivot in metaphysical intuition, we tried to combine this with orthodox Traditionalism, subjecting the latter to corrections arising out of the spirit of the above-mentioned school. The result was this book.

Intensive development of certain ideas has led the author to a whole series of new metaphysical conclusions which have been expressed in our other works, first and foremost in The Metaphysics of the Gospel.

We have decided to introduce some minor edits (mostly in the citations) in the text of this second edition of The Ways of the Absolute, since some suspicions have gradually been reborn as convictions, and certain arguments in orthodox Guénonist terms are so inadequate that we have resolved to withdraw them from the text or, in the very least, substantially correct them. Nevertheless, it is extremely important to consider the chronology of the writing and first edition of this book, as such was the first step in what was in its own right a “Traditionalist proclamation.” 

 

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

We and the Millennium

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

The introduction to Russkaiia Veshch [“Russian Thing”] Vol. I (Moscow: Arktogeia, 2001). 

 

Along the roads of lies

We have been very cruelly deceived for a very long time. We are deceived in everything. We have been cheated big time. And this did not just start yesterday…

The world, the reality, the country, and the humanity which scholarly, cultural, and political authorities describe did not and does not exist. All things in our apocalyptic world have been tampered with, as if we look at everything though a hypnotic haze arranged by malicious conspirators and skillfully hypnotic rascals in service of the Prince of this World.

We have just crossed the threshold of the millennium, but we think about toothpaste and phone bills. It is rather sad that we, through the fog of indifference, feel that the Homeland, Russia, is somewhere near, that the thick broth of our national surrounding is poured around us…but what Homeland? Where is the Homeland? Where is she from and where is she going? In what time does she live? We don’t even think about this. Indeed, we cannot even think properly. After all, all the systems of coordinates have been shot down, the structures of contemplating the world have been twisted, and croaking pinko priests spoil the endeavor with the scraps of narcissistic maxims and completely spoiled morals.

Russia is not only losing its place in history. She is also losing consciousness of history. Russia is not only lost in space. It is losing awareness of space.

In the face of the millennium, we are naked with gaping mouths, glazed-over eyes, and a stupid purse in our hands. The soul of Russians is in a cast…

The Black and Golden Millennium

The unidirectional time which irreversibly flows from the past to the future that we were taught for so many years by the preachers of “progress” cannot be found in nature. Time has a special quality associated in complex ways with eternity and it can flow in both directions. This is a basic religious fact: the prophets see what there is, what was, and what will be. All three modalities of sacred history coexist and are present in being. For ordinary people, they open sequentially and unfold in a certain order. But exceptional personalities can have quite different relations with the mysterious elements of time. These exceptional people perceive eternity as a fact, as a reality of experience. The rest must believe in eternity, believe in the eternal essence of being that which was, is, and will be. Those who claim that what exists is only an ephemeral instance, only a fleeting moment “here and now”, and that the rest is just the imagination – these people are puppets of the Antichrist. Their place is in the brutal fires of hell.

In what chapter of sacred time does Russia breathe today? In what historical period are we living?

The answer is disappointing. (Or is everything more subtle?). We live totally close to the end.

We are approaching the end following the natural roads of degradation. Progress doesn’t exist. Only regress exists. We have moved further away from the primordial, deified world. Technological prostheses struggle to make up for the lost spiritual essence, but they cannot. Rather, they only exacerbate the fall and bring nearer the final catastrophe. Technological development is evil and the external expression of active spiritual decline.

The resources of the Golden Age were exhausted long ago. The silver age is far behind us. The bronze age of heroes ended. And even the iron age of dark industry is closed. The millennium is painted black. Finis Mundi. Black Millennium.

This is a general diagnosis of humanity, but it concerns us first and foremost. Why?

Because we were the last chosen ones, and our gold, salvational world mission ended only yesterday…Or maybe it hasn’t even ended…

The sacred civilizations of the ancient world gradually went down the path of global degradation from the Golden Age to Babylonian dust and the sands of oblivion measured by threads of thousands of years. At the edge of the abyss, peering into the abyss of hell, ancient humanity was supported by the gracious sacrifice of the Son. Before the final chord, when the spiral of regression approached the final line, the Son of God revealed the true path to the last children of the last century.

Orthodoxy appeared as a New History in an incredible, salvational perspective which reflected all the preceding epochs. In two thousands Christian years, we relived at an accelerated pace the endless centuries of past epochs stretching back many thousands of years, plus blissful eons when no one considered years or centuries…and once again from the golden age to the iron age. The golden age of Constantine and the Ecumenical Councils. The Silver age of Byzantium. The bronze age of Moscow the Third Rome. And the iron age of modern, total apostasy. The last point was the Russian schism. Then the darkness enveloped everything. Babylon is here.

Russia lived through the silver age of Orthodoxy on the periphery, although sunnily and with dignity, promising with Metropolitan Hilarion a great future. In the bronze age of Orthodoxy, Moscow became the central subject. Muscovite Rus, the country, and its people, that is, we (or “not only us?” or “only not us”?) had been destined to this end for centuries. Outside of Rus, there was no salvation, the spiritual energy of ages was drawn to us, and the rays of eternity shined upon the Homeland. And eternity, just as with the ancients, the prophets, the patriarchs, and the saints, sowed us into the god-bearing people. Russians entered the holiest of times, the heart of which, where there is simply no time.

But Muscovite Rus fell and the iron Antichrist came for real and to stay, now already everywhere.

We slowly slipped (in the Romanov way with Frenchmen at the head) into historical nothing. The place of the amputated dimension ached. The Old Believers, Russian sects, and charming strangers of all kinds howled out of insane, bronze pain. The soul of Russians ached as voluntary bodies crackle in fire, and the citizens of Secret Russia, full of and frantic with the highest hope and with the passports of the celestial chancellery, fell into a maelstrom. The iron age was agony – this was the last Russian testament from Habakkuk to Stalin. 

In October, great suffering came from under the bushel and drowned our vast lands in blood. The Reds. It was much worse and much better at the same time. The deep spirit was unleashed. How it rushed about and swung its poisonous tail – morally judging this is not up to us. Those who know the essence of the point of such prefer not to open their mouths. There are things which are so deep that they are beyond moral evaluation. If you dip your finger into it, you will never be the same.

The Reds attempted to construct an optimistic fortress out of emptiness and longing and transform the pain and misery of the iron age into the triumph of sunny creation. In their own way, they interpreted the mystery of the cross of Nika.

Perhaps we will never truly understand the Soviet stage in the sacred history of mankind. On the one hand, its scribes spread nonsense about progress, reductionism, banality, atheism, the myth of apes, amoebae, bacteria, and plans, nonsense about the equality of people, contempt for the past, historicist ephemerality, etc. But through the grimaces of Soviet idiocy amazing features of another thought stood out and expressed themselves, let themselves be known, haunted from underneath the layers of frozen silence and constantly shaking, sliding, and flowing into a stupor.

This was the difficult, daunting thought of the End. But also of the Beginning. The thought of pain and sorrow, the impossible joy and inevitable anguish.

The Reds wanted to shoot and hug at the same time. They strove to be external just as much as they were internal. They were just as childish as they wanted to appear wise and old.

The Soviet eon was the last chord of the iron age.

Here is the subtlety: we were the last subjects of the bronze stage in the sacred history of Christianity. In a certain and often paradoxical sense, we remained true to this mission in the next, iron age. Our iron age was exemplary. We opposed the vulgarities of liberal degeneracy with the bloody drama of Bolshevism. The Twelve poem. We opposed the rest of humanity’s quiet slip out of reality with the paradoxes of merciful genocide and the machine-gun rattle of the solar Chevengur.

But now this is in the past. Although it all still exists here and now. These are our bodies born from the loins of the natural born killers of October, the bright paladins of pain. These are our streets, our missiles, our hair, the trajectory of our thoughts and carnal inclinations. The holiness of bronze Muscovite Rus and the rebellion of the red dragon out from underneath the lower boundaries of banality soaked the seed from which we, the Russian people of the millennium, hatched. There is no escape!

But now? Let them tell us what is now! Is it really just the end? Oblivion? Are we to be led into the leaded, empty labyrinths of the world market and planetary management?

Not. Not only. We have just misunderstood the End.

The end, the Eschaton, is total restoration. For us Orthodox, there is even something more, much, much more than total restoration. It is Marriage – Marriage beyond. Promised, continually delayed, exhausted, wounded, worn out and bruised by others, we are tired of waiting. Our Marriage. A wedding without measure. The groom is Fire. “Fire, reload.”

Now it will be resolved – which virgins are to sleep, and which are to stay vigil. Some will light a candle, others will snore in slumber.

The five maidens of Rus. Five, regenerated, inner feelings. Five organs of our national perception sharpened by extreme pain, suffering, and compassion, burn marks, shopping fairs, and the NKVD.

On the verge of the Great Midnight. On the edge of the millennium. Rus. Half asleep, half awake. (Where will you find yourself?)

So that it will finally happen! So that it will finally burst! So that the guts of the heavens will be ripped out! So that the winepress of wrath will be clamped on the bastard generation X of the apocalypse! So that we and they will be devoured! Everyone! Some will emerge from the other side. Some will drown. It doesn’t matter! Burning! Burning! Like Elijah – some will have a chariot, some a brake…Burn, sure, clearly burn [Gori, yasno, yasno gori]…

The terrible angels are so close, so close. Their group has already arrived, now they’re getting out of black, chrome cars…

Forward – the End, but what can be sweeter and more bitter than this meeting…

“Wann endet die Zeit? Gott weiss es. Gott alein weiss es” (“When will time end? God knows. God alone knows”).

The North-East

Now about space. Where does the Homeland lie? Where is Russia’s place?

Each point in space is different from another. Their order, their content, their meaning were predefined ages ago. In being, nothing is equal to itself or something else. Reality is open to the rays of the spirit which is present everywhere and fills everything. And this light dimension gives each point a sacred quality. Tout se tient. There is nothing coincidental. 

Space lives by its pulse. Each point of space has its own laws and regulations, constants and processes. Modern physics is a dead science. It just doesn’t know this. Physics is from the iron age, physics is of the spiritual Antichrist. It (like the rest of purely modern science) deals with the dead, quantitative world which doesn’t exist. It aids the murder of living, sacred being, asserting sinister, primitive fables about its nature. Not man, but space descended from the apes. People are from Light. Oh, what kind of ape can that be?!

The Russian space comes from the bear, the boar, and the apple. This is how the lands of the North-East of Eurasia were called in sacred geography. The land of the boar, and later of the bear. Varahi. Or the “apple country” – Jambudvipa. Paradise exists in the East among some people, in the North for others. The Nordic, Eurasian paradise. Hence the magic apples of Hesperides, the Tree of Knowledge or the rejuvenating apples of the Scandinavian myths. Hence the special, piercing metaphysical taste of the Russian Antonovka. In lost Russian fables, the apple in magical regions of the North aids good lads and beautiful maiden.

World history, in its spacial-symbolic sense, proceeded from North to South and from East to West. It departed from its origins. It went “from”, but not “to”. It squandered eternity, extending along the plane of time. The life-giving, heavenly quality was squandered as dark mechanisms of quantity were appealed to, until quality finally disappeared among the rippling mass of capital. Is it a coincidence that the current hegemonic rulers and financial and material bosses are huddled together in the West? Did they entrench themselves there?

No. This is the law of space. Capital wins where the sun dies. These reptiles even have the Sochi climate at our attitude, while in our country, beaches are covered in snow. Our space is not valuable in a touristic sense and is not attractive for capital simply because this is the space of paradise, and someone drove them so out long ago, that even their memory has been erased. They built the city on the hill, exterminated the the red-skinned savages, opened saloons and taverns, began to trade, imported black living goods, multiplied, and leased out and respected human rights.

Rus, albeit iron and falling, albeit Babylon, is a thousand times closer to heaven than non-Rus – even today with its scorched face, ink-smeared cheeks, tattered strands, insolent, unkept look and breasts seized by criminals.

We know “the place of the skull, where Adam was ” [byst mesto lobnoe]…We are being brought to sacrificial slaughter as a burnt offering to the “new world order,” but this is redemptive suffering.

Fighting the West, we are battling against our own death.

We are the heavenly hail of Eurasia, the witness to the apocalypse, the one denouncing the fortress of apostasy infatuated with its impunity of the humanitarian Antichrist.

On the threshold of the millennium, Russia stretches out over the coordinates of the lost paradise. It is closed to us, but there are cracks through which the Russian heart’s fire scorches and flashes.

The heavenly Jerusalem – this is our Russia. It merges with the bear-shaped contours of our expanses as the fabric of history is being thinned down to cigarette paper. And the towers of twelve edges coincide with the distant outposts of our border guards abandoned at the last frontiers, staring into the night of unintelligible and aggressive peoples scattering around and harboring a sheep’s hatred.

The government of the New Jerusalem. The parliament of the righteous shining forth like a sun. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of punishing angelic hordes. The Archangel Michael on a stallion in apples.

By staying in place, we end up ahead of all…

Being true to the earth, being true to our land. There is none other like it.

On the threshold of the Millennium, on the brink of death and resurrection, death and rebirth. On the verge of the eternal question of eternity, being, and oblivion.

Senseless and merciless.

 

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

Christian Metaphysics: The Essence of the Problem

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

Introduction/chapter 1 of Metafizika Blagoi Vesti [The Metaphysics of the Gospel] (1994) in Absoliutnaia Rodina [Absolute Homeland] (Moscow: Arktogeia, 1999). 

Christianity is that tradition whose metaphysical dimension has been studied least of all. This is quite a paradox since one would think that such a deep study of Christianity, the religion of the West, would attract all those interested in metaphysics and who, following Guénon, are trying to make sense of the most profound aspects of Tradition. Nevertheless, the disputes surrounding Christianity in Traditionalist circles are, as a rule, limited to fairly secondary, practical issues regarding the virtual initiation of the sacraments, the absence of an idea of cyclical time, etc. In all of this, one can see a tacit consensus among Traditionalists that Christianity is nothing more than a reduced, incomplete tradition whose esotericism has been practically lost, and whose metaphysical content cannot be detached from the dense veil of exoteric scholastic theology and the hazy subjective intuitions of mystics. All attempts to identify any consistency between the basic principles of Christianity and the conceptual categories of other, more metaphysically developed traditions (primarily Hinduism) have yielded rather poor results and have been based on strained interpretations and biased urges to arrive at any cost at conclusions which match Guénon’s own ideas (this is clearest of all in the book by Abbot Henri Stéphane, Introduction à l’ésotérisme chrétien [1]). 

These circumstances, however, can be explained quite simply. The problem is that the Guénonian approach has spread only in narrow circles of the intellectual elite of the West, where by Christianity is usually understood, in the best case, Catholicism. But the specificity of Catholicism is such that, from the moment that the Western Church fell away from the Eastern Church, Catholicism built its dogmatic and intellectual foundation on a conscious rejection of the metaphysical content of Christianity. All the scholastic constructs were essentially an ambition to develop a slender theological doctrine while completely ignoring the ontological and metaphysical elements which were in fact present in the Christian tradition before the schism and preserved even afterwards. Of course, they survived exclusively in the Eastern Church, i.e., in the bosom of Orthodoxy. But Catholics, and even the most profound among them, seem to be unaware of this.

Orthodoxy, for its part, despite having preserved ontological and metaphysical wholeness, from a certain time onward could no longer assert its metaphysical content (i.e., actual Christian metaphysics) in clear categories. Shortly after the “Palamite disputes” when Orthodox esotericism experienced its last dazzling rise in history, this line was somewhat marginalized and “frozen”, as priority was given to the exoteric sides of the Church. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many Russian theologians and even secular philosophers, intuitively surmising the special metaphysical nature of Orthodoxy, attempted to formulate certain principles for reviving the forgotten dimension of this tradition. However, most of these attempts did not yield serious results since none of them were familiar with the works of Guénon. Hence why only now, in our opinion, is it possible to acquire adequate knowledge of the most important proportions of the structure of fully-fledged metaphysics.

It can be said that although Western Traditionalists had the intellectual apparatus developed by Guénon, they did not have an adequate object for applying such, since Catholicism fundamentally prohibits one from going from the exoteric to the esoteric and metaphysical levels and, moreover, places insurmountable obstacles along the way. The Orthodox had and have a fully-fledged object, the Orthodox Christian Church Tradition and a full, irreducible dogma, but they have hitherto lacked an adequate metaphysical apparatus. Thus, for two opposite reasons, both in West and East the most widespread, well known, familiar, and close tradition – Christianity – has remained the most unknown, mysterious, and closed, all the while as Traditionalists rather well mastered Islamic metaphysics, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and even some archaic cults. The distant and exotic paradoxically became dearer to modern scholars nominally belonging to Christian civilization than “their own,” the familiar and close.

Be that as it may, Russians’ first acquaintance with the ideas of Guénon [2] now allows us to chart our way out of this impasse and to try to compare the overall metaphysical picture with the dogma of Orthodox Christianity. One should not be mistaken as to the simplicity of such a study. The near complete absence of references to Orthodoxy among Traditionalist authorities makes this task extremely difficult and risky. Nevertheless, without claiming final truth on this matter and all the while leaving the way open for alternative pursuits, we will try in this work to understand the metaphysical nature of Orthodoxy and, as follows, arrive at a formulation and recognition of the essence of Christian metaphysics.

 

Footnotes: 

[1] abbe Henri Stéphane, Introduction à l’ésotérisme chrétien, Paris, 1979.

[2] At the present moment, the following books of R. Guénon have been published in Russian: The Crisis of the Modern World (Moscow, 1992), The King of the World in the journal Voprosy filosofii from 1993; The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times (Moscow, 1994), Fundamental Symbols of the Sacred Science (Moscow, 1996), and articles in the journal Milyi Angel No. 1, in the journals Voprosy filosofii, Literaturnoe obozrenie,  and Volshebnaia Gora (chapters from the books An Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines, Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power, and The Symbolism of the Cross, etc.)

 

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

Herman Wirth and the Sacred Proto-Language of Humanity: In Search of the Holy Grail of Meanings – Part 1

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold 

From “Lecture 4” in Filosofiia traditsionalizma (Moscow, Arktogaia, 2002), originally delivered as a lecture at New University in 1998. 

 

The existence of a single proto-language derives from the very logic of Tradition – attempts at reconstruction

The existence of a single proto-language of humanity derives from the very logic of Traditionalism. If there is a single Primordial Tradition, then the language of this Tradition must have a particular expression. This is obvious to any conscientious reader of Guénon and his followers. In addition, intuition suggests that the languages which modern humanity speaks harbor some strange commonality. When we engage in strict linguistic analysis, this commonality continues to elude us, but some kind of inner conviction does not allow us to cease searching.

Attempts at reconstructing this most ancient language have been constantly undertaken. There are many models of a proto-language which try to reduce existing linguistic and symbolic systems. There is the theory (developed in the Middle Ages) that Ancient Hebrew was the primordial language, and Kabbalistic schools existed which seriously attempted to deduce all other languages (including sacred and non-sacred ones, i.e., historical languages) out of Ancient Hebrew. We also have the “Egyptian theory” put forth in the 20th century by Schwaller de Lubicz and Les Veilleurs. Similar theses had been expressed before by numerous European mystics, such as Heinrich Khunrath, “Egyptian masonry”, etc. All of them tried to restore the proto-language and proto-symbolism on the basis of the Egyptian tradition. There is the famous book by the abbot Johannes Trithemius, Steganographia, which compiled mystical signs as symbols of an angelic language. Trithemius’ disciple, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, produced a whole series of angelic alphabets in his works. Also available are the reconstructions of circular “Atlantic” signs by Paul Le Cour, who published the journal Atlantis. There are also Guido von List’s runic tables which were also claimed to offer an interpretation of all languages through the Ancient Germanic and modern German languages. Baron von Sebottendorf explored the magic of the Arabic language and wrote an interesting pamphlet on the rituals of old Turkish masonry.  The idea that all languages descend from Ancient Hebrew was also promoted by Fabre d’Olivet. There are also the only recently published commentaries by young Guénon on Saint Yves d’Alveydre’s Archeometry. The latter was an attempt at creating a universal alphabet that could explain the origin of all languages, traditions, and religious models. Saint Yves d’Alveydre spoke of the existence of a first, primordial language of Vattan in the underground country of Agharta.

There also exists the Brahmanic art of Nirukta (a theologized form of folk etymology), and the cabale phonétique was appealed to by Fulcanelli and the mysterious Grace d’Orsay, one of those astonishing authors who necessitates a separate, detailed discussion.

From the point of view of Tradition, everything necessarily converges to a single formula, a single model. If the world ends (and the end of the world, from the standpoint of Traditionalism, arises out of the infiniteness of its Principle), then finite knowledge about this world should exist. This means that it is possible to know everything all together at once (or almost at once) and forever, to know to the point that nothing in manifested reality is left out of sight. In some sense, absolute knowledge is therefore knowledge of absolute language. The search for such a single, absolute model was particularly actively pursued in the Middle Ages when the holistic approach to reality was widespread among mystics despite the creationist dogmas of official religion. People all at once engaged in mineralogy, theology, medicine, treated peoples and animals, and wrote treatises full of practical advice on smallpox, the names of angels, and the structure of grindstones. All of this comprised a search for integral knowledge, a single formula, a unified model.

The Bible also teaches of a common language of humanity, claiming that one language existed up until the Babylonian dispersion. Christianity also knows of the return to the proto-language, as when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and they spoke in all existing languages at once. The Holy Spirit gave them the special blessing of knowing the original proto-language.

The search for the proto-language in modern linguistics

The idea of reconstructing the proto-language has always excited the minds of the most different people. Many have tried to express their specific views on this matter, but few have managed to forge more or less reliable systems. In fact, such quests have been undertaken by profane Western science as well. Besides the classical line of linguistics which is restricted to the study of language in already existing, historical forms, there also exists in modern linguistics another trend (whose founder was the Italian scholar Trombetti) which proceeds from the assumption of the existence of a single proto-language. Trombetti proved this on the level of positivist facts and believed that the proto-language could be restored. For this he was earnestly criticized. Trombetti’s line was continued by Bopp, the Russian scholar Potebnja, the Soviet linguist and academician Marr (who was harshly criticized by another great linguist, Joseph Stalin) and particularly by the outstanding Serbian scholar Illich-Svitych. The latter founded the Nostratic concept which accounted for the criticisms of Trombetti and Bopp’s models. Illich-Svitych therein developed the thesis that languages are reducible to four or six roots. He distinguished the Eurasian group (including Semitic, Hamitic, Indo-European, and Kartvelian languages), the languages of the North American Indians, and the Sino-Tibetan and Paleo-African groups as the four main meta-clusters. Curiously enough, these four groups correspond to the four corners of the world. The far from mystical Illich-Svitych arrived at these conclusions on the basis of an entirely scientific approach, the path of classical, conventional linguistic analysis. This theory was very popular among Soviet linguistics, but remained unknown in the West. This line has since been discontinued, just as science has frozen altogether. This is a pity, as developing this line could have yielded colossal results. It is one of the most promising trends in linguistics.

Individual (unsuccessful) attempts at constructing a proto-language

In the early 1980’s, I myself actively tried to arrive at this language in imitating the (as a rule, unsuccessful) endeavors of predecessors. After all, the necessity of a proto-language’s existence follows from the Guénonian vision of the Primordial Tradition! Admittedly, I made little progress. I know several languages, including several ancient ones (on a rudimentary level). I tried to somehow systematize the roots and phonetic constructs which seemed to me to be similar. In fact, the Russian scholar Potebnja subjected the Russian language to a similar procedure. To this day, I have a mountain of materials devoted to these experiences. There one can find attempts at reconstructing the proto-language through both mystical alphabets and wholly scholarly linguistic theories. All of this was extremely interesting, took up a lot of my time, but the result was, frankly speaking, pathetic. The ends did not meet. One needs to know much more than I did. Some of the models which I tried to use (including those traceable back to Agrippa Nettesheim [2]) did not stand the test of reliable scientific data.

The revelation of Herman Wirth

And then, suddenly everything changed. I encountered the works of a man who is practically unknown – Herman Wirth. No one knows him in our country, nor do the Traditionalists of the West know him. He is the “great unknown”, le grand inconnu. His works were taken from Berlin by the Soviet Army and for years lay in a storage room where they ended up wet and covered with mold. Nobody had touched them since 1945. I tried unsuccessfully to find Wirth’s works in the libraries of several European capitals. Only once, in the Alain de Benoist’s underground library bunker did I see one of Herman Wirth’s books on a shelf. The owner, however, had paid no special attention to it, which is no surprise, as there was such a volume of books that their owner simply had not yet made his way to Wirth.

I spent two years studying Wirth. For two years I was glued to his works, trying to understand at least something. His works are huge volumes including maps. The text is not structured, everything begins in the middle and stops mid-sentence. I think no one really read it. To do so, one would have to be a fanatic. Interestingly enough, Julius Evola, who is extremely popular among European Traditionalists, called Wirth one of his three main teachers (alongside Guénon and Guido de Giorgio) in his autobiographical work, The Path of Cinnabar. But even after the publication of this book, still no one paid attention to Wirth. Such a strange author. As Guénon wrote, “certain things protect themselves.” There are some items that are laying in the middle of the room in plain sight, but we are incapable of finding them. Modern occultists have even evoked the notion of “black holes” existing everywhere. In fact, everything is more complex and subtle. 

As was Herman Wirth. Guénon devoted a very important review to him. Nevertheless, Wirth is unknown, and this despite the fact that even the most insignificant authors mentioned by Guénon or Evola have been devoted in the very least separate studies by Western Traditionalists. But no one in these circles has heard of Wirth. 

“We are in search of the stone with runic or prerunic inscriptions”

What comprises Wirth’s ideas, his message? Wirth deciphered the very proto-language which we have been talking about. He did this in a reliable manner without occultist exaggerations and positivist skepticism. No more nor less. His work is maximally close to this language. No one has done more reliable metaphysical, historical, linguistic, or conceptual (if you will) studies of the language of the Primordial Tradition. In my opinion, Wirth did not know Guénon, and I found no citations of him in his works. He read Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the famous Hindu Traditionalist, and cited him. However, Wirth himself was not a Traditionalist. Rather, he was an idealist, a scrupulous scholar and a German patriot. The fact that he did not share the numerous prejudices of occultists who hurry to discredit serious research, only enhances the significance of his works. Looking at Wirth through the eyes of Guénon, we see all that Guénon did not say, but which undoubtedly follows from what he did. Wirth adds an essential part to Guénon’s Traditionalism [5]. Even Evola did not add anything in particular to Guénon. Evola was original, daring, and active, but this rather aesthetic and existential component brought to Traditionalism in fact contains little substance.

What Wirth brought is a startling revelation – sudden, extremely complex, and demanding tremendous attention. This figure so much changed the picture of modern Traditionalism that ignoring him is simply impossible. It is intriguing that although we live on the outskirts of the Traditionalist world, in the bear corner, we are one of the first to approach such important things. In his time, the mysterious author Otto Rahn wrote a book entitled The Crusade against the Grail [6] and advanced the following hypothesis: perhaps the Grail was not a chalic, but a stone with certain prerunic inscriptions that are a universal key to all religious models, and all knowledge in general. Guénon himself wrote (if I’m not mistaken, in The King of the World [7]) that there indeed exists a view that the Grail is simultaneously a chalice, a book, and a stone. When Guénon studied the Canterbury megaliths, he said that it is possible that the Grail ought to be understood as a concrete object covered in signs, and that these signs probably represent primordial hieroglyphs. In some sense, Herman Wirth’s reconstruction reveals something very similar. In the volumes of research of this German scholar, there is something of a Holy Grail, a Holy Grail of meanings. 

Arctida – the cradle of humanity

As a kind of prelude to studying the primordial language, Herman Wirth presents an historical-geographical reconstruction of the first ages of mankind. As a positivist scholar, he draws out a long table of monkeys with different species of animals and geological shifts, but we can disregard this. The most interesting begins at 20,000 B.C. Here Wirth switches over to serious, correct language. He adheres to the ideas of the geologist Wegener.

The modern contours of continents emerged only recently. Continents are not dormant and are not constant masses. They slide along the shelf, and thus the look of the earth was once completely different. There once existed two continents: a Northern one, Arctogaia (Arctida) and a Southern one, Gondwana.  Wegener’s chronology, which Wirth partially appropriates, is based on the positivist methods of calculating time and transposing modern physical processes onto ancient times, a method which is rather incorrect. Guénon himself has written much [9] about shifts in the cosmic environment in correlation to the unfolding of the cyclical process. But this is not the point.

Wirth argues that Arctida was the cradle of mankind. This is the starting point in Wirth’s model. He claims that man originated at the North Pole, i.e., humanity is essentially a polar phenomenon. Hence Nordism as a method, as a vision of the particularities of the primordial language, primordial knowledge, and primordial religion. This is not the North Pole as an abstract concept (such as the mountain Meru), but a real pole where the continent of Arcotgaia lay and on which lived amazing people – the Hyperboreans. Contemplating the surrounding world, they developed the proto-language which lies at the heart of the complex of ideas which we have now, many thousands of years later.

This model of Wirth’s perfectly corresponds with Guénon’s holistic views on humanity’s polar origins and the primordial Golden Age. Thus, Wirth’s formally positivist research led him to the Nordic theory of man’s origin which is classic for Traditionalism. But if Guénon limits himself to merely asserting this as fact, then Wirth draws conclusions therein of enormous importance. He reasons that we cannot decipher ancient languages and ancient culture, cannot piece together an adequate view of ancient peoples, nor can we find some, so to say, “antediluvian” remnants simply because we do not accept the notion of the northern origin of humanity, do not take into account the fact that the climate in this northern, polar continent was no harsher than the south of modern France. The North Pole was the point from which the rays of civilization spread South.

Affirming this concept, Wirth with ease explains the hang-ups of paleo-anthropology and ancient history. He explains why there are no remains of Nordic man: firstly, because burial forms for Nordic people were different (as was the very quality of their lives), and the lands which they inhabited either shifted or sank. Wirth conducted very interesting research on the shallows of Dogger between Holland and England, where he sought the remains of Arctida which, from his point of view, existed as centers of civilization up to historical times. These explorations yielded colossal results, most of which are, alas, beyond our scope.

The first hieroglyph – the Nordic Year

Now about the primordial language. In Wirth’s view, the main key to understanding this language, and all existing languages and traditions, is the year. The year and man, the year and God, the year and nature, the year and time, the year and space are, in Wirth’s view, synonymous concepts. Man is the embodiment of condensed time. Time in and of itself is a divine manifestation.

The northern, polar cycle is the highest knowledge and, as follows, everything else is to be explained through the calendar. Special attention should be paid to the natural features of the North Pole. We know that a day there lasts not 24 hours, but six months, as does a night. For example, such a notion as the “midnight sun”, which is addressed in many of the Dionysian mysteries and is a generally important element in multiple sacred theories, acquires an entirely natural sense in Arctida – natural-magical meaning. This is the sun that shines at midnight at the North Pole during the summer solstice. Indeed, there is sun, and there is midnight. The memory of this midnight sun, like the memory of the primordial homeland of our ancestors, has been preserved in traditional models and been passed down from generation to generation in the form of legends and stories.

There is a fundamental difference between the daily and yearly cycles. We, living south of the polar latitude (22 degrees North), imagine the year as divided into days. But the man of polar origin saw the year differently. The day of the gods was equal to a year of people, which means that the difference between the divine and human was erased. There was no difference to be distinguished between the created and uncreated; there was no difference between subject and object or divine and natural revelation. Nature was a fact of the Divine, and the Divine was an inner dimension of nature. There existed a kind of “polar-paradisal worldview” in which the spirit was to be found at both the center and the periphery.

Wirth employed the structure of the polar year, or the year as a set of natural phenomenon characteristic of the northern, polar regions, as a universal instrument for interpreting all other elements. The first people were not comical, semi-finished products from classical evolutionary textbooks, and they did not see the world as primitive and flat. This was something completely different. The most diverse concepts, objects, creatures, situations, scenarios, and rituals boil down to a single paradigm. For Wirth, such a method of explaining everything through the paradigm of the year – the polar year – was the starting point of his ambitious studies.

The first calendar model

This is the basic model of the annual polar cycle. It might seem that there is nothing special here. The only particularity is that the South is identified strictly with winter, the East with spring, the North with summer, and fall with the West. In the annual circle, the sun goes in a different direction than in the daily one.

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Figure 1: “N – summer, E – spring, S – Winter, W – autumn”;  Figure 2: “N – day, E – morning, S – night, W – evening”

In this, in Wirth’s view, is contained great historical and historic-gnoseological drama.

Ancient humanity, according to Wirth and Tilak, moved south for a number of reasons. For example, in the Bundahishn (the sacred Zoroastrian book), it is said that “the red serpent of Ahriman sent cold to the blessed country of the Aryans and the city of Vara where the primordial white people lived, and they were forced to leave their homes.” So what happened then?

The polar cycles’ yearly phenomenon stop below the 22 degrees northern latitude. Man no longer plainly sees evidence of the primordial calendar-topographical model and does not understand the direct meaning of what was so obvious before. He loses the key to interpreting certain signs and schemes in which movement towards summer and movement upwards mean movement northwards.

Everything is inverted in the ordinary daily cycle, and all the phenomena that lie at the heart of the primordial language and the primordial proto-religion are obscured. Accordingly, mythological elements, and language itself, are now interpreted differently. There is an overlap between at least two cycles. In one – the annual, global, Nordic cycle – movement is counter-clockwise, whereas in the other – the daily one – movement is clockwise. It is by virtue of this that these two sacred paradigms (the daily and yearly) change places and (pay attention to how serious this is!) there is a transition from God to man and from the day of gods to the day of people.

As follows, the symbolic details of the primordial code, the primordial language and paradigm of religious knowledge change places. We lose the key to understanding them. This, according to Herman Wirth, is the Babylonian dispersal of languages. We lost the ciphers of the Nordic worldview, and the miasma of the southern seas begin to penetrate our consciousness. We increasingly become mere people to the point that we reach today’s dismal, critical state. There is probably no lower.

Also important is the hieroglyph of the Celtic cross, the circle with four orientations, which is the first calendar.

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Figure 3: “N – summer, E – spring, S – Winter, W – autumn”

 

The very notion of a calendar is a very sacred thing. A calendar is a visual model which condenses and clearly displays two concepts: time and space. In a calendar, time is displayed synchronously and simultaneously. What man is given in progressive development is given in a calendar, and only in a calendar, as a possibility of simultaneous setting. Thus, contemplating over the Nordic calendar, meditating on it is one of the most direct ways of making contact with Eternity. When man looks at the calendar, he grasps all time together as his internal quality, and the nature of perceiving the most simple objects changes. He sees a circle, how time turns into space, and how space, thanks to time, acquires orientation. This is very important, because space itself has no orientation without such a calendar; it is insufficient. The cross which establishes these orientations can thus be depicted anywhere.

Thanks to this calendric perception of the world, what happens in this space undergoes some kind of relativization. In the first lecture, we spoke of the transition from qualitative (sacred) space to quantitative (non-sacred, profane) space. Sacred space, furnished with qualitatively meaningful orientations, arises out of the most complex Nordic operation of bringing time into space (“spatializing time”, so to speak).

The main compass of these sacred, qualitative orientations is the calendar.

The point of the North is one, the South point is another, the point of East the third, and the point of the West the fourth. Each of these points of space corresponds to a certain, strictly fixed sign. If we impose the circle of time onto this space, then it shows all possible mutations of space as if grasping the eternal movement of the four directions in one fixed picture.

Interestingly enough, the problem of squaring the circle and perpetuum mobile (“perpetual motor”) which recently completely puzzled the best men of science, is in fact a distant echo of this Nordic knowledge expressed in this simple figure.

Today football fans wear the Celtic cross on their scarves without knowing what colossal meaning this symbol has. It is also depicted on targets for shooting. In the 1960’s, the Belgian Jean Thiriart made the Celtic cross the emblem of his Young Europe (his pan-European national movement) which was later adopted by football fans and skinheads, since which he has been constantly present in their symbols.

Take another look at the Celtic cross.

The sequence is built into the cycle. The line becomes the circle. Eternal movement is provided by the representation of all time at once. It cannot end and cannot be stopped. It cannot disappear. It is some kind of absolute paradigm, the essence of being, expressed graphically.

Such was Herman Wirth’s first step towards revealing the structure of the proto-language.

Already at this stage we can arrive at numerous conclusions of incredible value. Can every situation, every event, and every mythological tale or everyday scenario be dissected using this model?

How do we act, how do we live? Under the sign of the North? Or under the sign of the West? Under the sign of the East? Or under the sign of the South? Along the downward arc or the rising one? Towards what are things gravitating? Towards the sky and summer or towards winter and earth?

Upon applying this paradigm to the most complex cults and theological constructions, we will always find whole layers of meanings, the existence of which we knew nothing of before. Even if Wirth had stopped here, this alone would have already been very serious and very much, as we would be given a clue. But he went further…

Part two coming soon…

Footnotes:

[1] R.Guénon, “Le Roi du Monde”, Paris, 1993, “Le Regne de la Quantite et les Signes des Temps”, Paris, 1995, “Formes traditionnelles et cycles cosmiques”, Paris, 1995.

[2] H.C.Agrippa, “La philosophie occulte”, Paris, 1981.

[3] J.Evola, “Il camino del cinabro”, Milano, 1972

 

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