“The so-called 'Left-Hand Path' - that of Kaulas, Siddhas and Viras - combines the... Tantric worldview with a doctrine of the Übermensch which would put Nietzsche to shame... The Vira - which is to say: the 'heroic' man of Tantrism - seeks to sever all bonds, to overcome all duality between good and evil, honor and shame, virtue and guilt. Tantrism is the supreme path of the absolute absence of law - of shvecchacarī, a word meaning 'he whose law is his own will'." ― Julius Evola, The Path of Cinnabar.

“It is necessary to have “watchers” at hand who will bear witness to the values of Tradition in ever more uncompromising and firm ways, as the anti-traditional forces grow in strength. Even though these values cannot be achieved, it does not mean that they amount to mere “ideas.” These are measures…. Let people of our time talk about these things with condescension as if they were anachronistic and anti-historical; we know that this is an alibi for their defeat. Let us leave modern men to their “truths” and let us only be concerned about one thing: to keep standing amid a world of ruins.” ― Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World: Politics, Religion, and Social Order in the Kali Yuga.

“We are born into this time and must bravely follow the path to the destined end. There is no other way. Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii, who died at his post during the eruption of Vesuvius because someone forgot to relieve him. That is greatness. That is what it means to be a thoroughbred. The honorable end is the one that can not be taken from a man.” ― Oswald Spengler, Man and Technics: A Contribution to a Philosophy of Life.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cosmodromium, Traditionalism, and Western Esotericism

As Nietzsche was the most important reading experience and philosophical encounter of my teens and twenties, Heidegger and Spengler in my twenties and thirties, so Julius Evola and René Guénon are proving to be in my forties. Although a lifelong student of Western Esotericism, it fascinates me that my interest in politics, specifically Italian Fascism (and the esoteric undercurrents of international Fascism and German National Socialism in general) led me to a close study of Evola, and therefore Guénon (and a select few other “Traditionalists”), and thereby back to a close study of Western Esotericism, particularly older material, alongside the primary texts of the various ancient world religions (particularly of the east – although not excluding the Bible and esoteric Islam).

Things come full circle. I still have books from my pre-teen and early teen years on various aspects of Western Occultism – so I could say without contradiction that it was the “religion” of my childhood (Christianity certainly was not) – So Evola and Guénon have brought me into intensive re-engagement with material I’ve been immersed in for most of my life, though having second-shelved it for quite awhile out of disgust with the mainstream squalor of “occultism” wallowed in by those who have relegated themselves to the intellectual ghetto of masturbatory post-Crowley Golden Dawn/OTO re-enactment. Not only was I prepared for Evola and René Guénon by having read Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Spengler – I found, especially when reading Evola, that his works consistently footnoted works almost completely represented in my private library – such as John Woodroffe, Evans-Wentz, the 51 volumes of The Sacred Books of the East, Agrippa, primary texts on ceremonial magic, astrology, alchemy, the Tarot, Holy Grail literature, mythology, etc. accumulated over the last three decades working in the field of antiquarian books engaged with an active interest in this specific subject matter.

Although Evola, and even René Guénon, concede in some respects that the 19th and early 20th century Anglophone “esoteric” orders adopted and retained some authentic shreds of Tradition – mostly in the form of symbolism, although jumbled into a pastiche of Victorian Egyptomania, Theosophy, and erroneous evolutionary and “New Age” ideas – it is safe to say that (with few exceptions) the post-Crowley “magicians” and “occultists” have drowned face-down in their own shallow incestuous excrement. My experience directly interacting with these types in nearly thirty years of dealing in esoteric books only confirms my bias. How many times have the various publishers of pulp-occultism – Llewellyn, Weiser, Falcon Press, etc. – republished basically the same information merely reformatted by unimaginative parrots regurgitating the material put out by Mathers, Westcott, Crowley, Fortune, etc., now over a century ago? Even worse, they repackage and re-sell the even later degeneration, cobbled together from the hideously contaminated backwash of late-1960’s American counterculture (read Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson), arguably the single worst thing to happen to Western Esotericism in its long history (essentially outward signs of its rotting from the inside). Anton LaVey was entirely warranted in exorcising the worthless hippy counterculture elements that had engulfed and polluted the study of Western Occultism and Eastern Religions in the 1960’s – although that is not to paint LaVey into unconditional sympathy with the primary material even when deloused of its insipid American countercultural refuse.

As I wrote in my book (very superficially, in “Satanism vs. Traditionalism”), the transcendent element is absolutely foundational to any “school” of authentic Traditionalism, therefore Satanism and Traditionalism are fundamentally irreconcilable (even though they may find certain points in common, especially with Evola, such as a contempt for egalitarianism) unless one is willing to question crude concepts of “materialism” (of relatively recent provenance in the history of ideas) and the assumed bifurcation of “spiritual” vs. “carnal” (which Evola deals with admirably in his Yoga of Power), but this does not address other areas of conflict such as reconciliation with “modernity”, heavily conflicting evaluations of “progress” and “evolution” etc. Traditionalism does not recognize any permutation of a “New Age” idea (however camouflaged in black) much less embracing devolved aspects of “culture” and human society.

This is not material for anyone lacking intellectual stamina, for those wearing ideas to impress others without doing the actual work required for authentic comprehension. At its best, this material demands a high level of comprehension and engagement, it does not lend itself to “popularization” (for very specific reasons) and is not remotely egalitarian or “for everyone.” My interest and enthusiasm does not extend to the expression of Americanized “Radical Traditionalism” manifest in various music and fashion-statement subcultures – a case of direct devolution in action – and arguably so from a Traditionalist perspective. Especially within the corrosive American sphere, it is a given that most elements huddled under the umbrella of “Tradition” – as another “ism” – are operating in complete or partial ignorance, or in direct conflict with Tradition. There is nothing safe or half-way about the René Guénon of Crisis of the Modern World or The Reign of Quantity & the Signs of the Times and there is certainly nothing safe about Julius Evola, but they are only two, albeit foundational, figures of what is now called “The Traditionalist School.” Even the publishers of René Guénon’s works in English stoop to appeal by quoting popular Jazz singers to make a point. I had the recent misfortune to witness a discussion of so-called “Traditionalists” in which a consensus was reached that they were all in favor of it insofar as it recognized a kind of ecumenical egalitarian “truth” in “all” creeds, but stopped short where it veers into “creepy politics” – obviously a reference to Evola – so in other words they are only “Traditionalists” insofar as it is warm and comforting, with all the scary parts taken out, and only so long as it doesn’t threaten their precious ideals of democracy and equality.

Arguably the most important event in Western Esotericism over the last two-to-three decades, from the Anglo-American perspective, is the translation of the writings of Julius Evola and René Guénon into English, alongside the rise of serious (even when hostile) scholarly treatment of historical Western Esotericism by the likes of Jocelyn Godwin, Antoine Faivre, etc. embodied in various centers for the scholarly study of Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam, Sussex, etc., and scholarly publishing ventures such as the State University of New York press series in Western Esoteric Traditions, and the Mythos and Bollingen Series published by Princeton University Press (although some of these have been in print longer than the past 30 years), even where devoid of “insider” perspective most of this material is of use.

I intend to write more from this perspective in the future.

Secretum Templi

1 comment:

Kauz R. Waldheri said...

This blog is excellent. I stumbled upon it by google searching "Julius Evola and the Bhagavad Gita". First I have to say that Julius Evola's writing guides me through my daily life and my spiritual life as well. He represents everything the world hates, yet NO ONE has the guts to dispute his claims and his stances. I found a few "bashers" but even they had very little to work with. The best they could do is point out areas where Evola supposedly contradicted himself. Which it turns out, the passages were from different books and different perspectives on different topics. Anyway, thank you for doing this blog. I have LOTS of reading todo here. Nice to meet you.