mardi, 17 mai 2016
A World Turned Upside Down: Finding True North in the Last Hour
A World Turned Upside Down:
Finding True North in the Last Hour
In this essay I will attempt to sketch out the Traditionalist view of the cosmos and the framework of its decline, with some emphasis on religious aspects—in the basic sense of religio as ‘connection’ between man and Reality, in accordance to the Vedantic maxim: “God is Reality, the world is appearance.” I take my cue partly from Livy’s ‘abstract’ to his monumental history, where he invites the reader to follow his exposition of Rome’s moral decline “while the old teaching was allowed to lapse; then finally the downward plunge which has brought us to the dark dawning of our modern day, when we can endure neither our vices nor their cure.”1
This is a work of synthesis: I have borrowed freely from the findings of philosophy, literature, and science, as well as the wisdom of different traditions, where I found them to speak in concord. Full responsibility is taken for any errors of interpretation and discursive leaps in the dark the reader may find, but I owe all insights herein to the great Traditionalist masters of the 20th century: René Guénon, Frithjof Schuon, and Julius Evola.
The dominant mentality of the Modern world is one of disenchantment, a condition described by Max Weber as a world “robbed of gods.” The pre-modern, ‘organic’ view of the world as a web of symbols and ritual spaces imbued with supernatural power—a living organism—where everything is a symbol that speaks of God, was replaced with a hard, dry, mechanistic world of physical necessity and scientific exactitude, more akin to a machine in its utilitarian functions.
Descartes, amongst other seminal Modern thinkers, provided the philosophical impetus for the forces which would reduce human life to a set of Cartesian coördinates plotted within Weber’s Iron Cage along an x-axis: Reason, and a y-axis: Will—a parody of the Axis Mundi or the double Axe of the ancient god-kings (the prehistoric Cross) which served as the central symbols of the Traditional world. Philosophy was converted from a pursuit of eternal truths into a secular science which emphasized the power of human reason to manipulate the world. Nietzsche was perfectly justified in concluding, if flippantly, that “reason is only an instrument, and Descartes was superficial.”2
Secular life, in Heidegger’s formulation, is typically characterized by submergence in mundane ‘Everydayness,’ oblivious to ultimate Reality—most men, as Heraclitus said, spend their entire lives asleep. This is due to a by-product of the mechanistic worldview, the predominance of technology, or Technics/Technique, as it is termed by the philosophers Spengler and Ellul: “Science brings to the light of day everything man had believed sacred. Technique takes possession of it and enslaves it.”3
Heidegger painted our contemporary technological predicament—“the darkening of the world, the flight of the gods, the destruction of the earth, the massification of man”—with remarkable prescient colours in 1935:
Once the furthermost corner of the globe has been technologically conquered and opened up to economic exploitation, when every possible event in every possible place at every possible time has become as accessible as quickly as possible […] the questions which hover over this whole grotesque charade like ghosts are: for what?—where to?—and what then?4
Ellul summarised the two fundamental characteristics of Technics as rationalism and artificiality. He defines rationalism as the process which “tends to bring mechanics to bear on all that is spontaneous or irrational,” reducing human action “to its logical dimension alone.”5 The artificial nature of Technics is seen in its destruction, elimination, and subordination of the natural world: it “does not allow this world to restore itself or even to enter into a symbiotic relation with it.”6
The mechanistic view of nature nurtures a deadly confusion between ends (purpose) and means (instrument), to the point where relativists deny the concept of ‘purpose’ altogether. This can be seen most clearly in the extent to which human activity in the spheres of sexuality and economics, for example, has been twisted from its natural relationship to the procreation of children and the social good of the community. It is the rationalistic, capitalist doctrine of maximum efficiency and maximally ‘free’ markets which has thrown the native working classes of the West into competition with the cheaply fecund labour of the Global South.
Marx claimed that society was all ‘about the economy, stupid,’ while Freud reduced the motivation of all human endeavour to sex. These prophets of modern orthodoxy relegated the truly important aspects of individual life – culture, spirit – to the status of ‘superstructure’ and ‘false consciousness.’ They are wrong: from the raising of the pyramids to the great cathedral-building age of 12th century France, economic activity has always sprung from religious needs, not vice versa.7
The Veil of Illusion
But their senses were made dull. For, until this present day, the selfsame veil […] remaineth not taken away.
– II Corinthians
Traditionalists are easily accused of taking a sour-grapes approach to the ‘real world.’ Some criticize Traditionalism as mere reaction, invented to rationalise malcontent toward the modern world. In fact, the reverse is true: it is the modern world which is ‘unreal,’ created in direct opposition to Tradition, the world of the eternally Real. This opposition emerged with the rise of rationalism and materialism, which interposed the Veil of Maya, or Illusion—to borrow Schopenhauer’s Sanscrit term—between man and heaven. With Disenchantment, man loses all contact with transcendent truths: “the Shadow,” in Eliot’s words, falls “Between the idea/ And the reality… Between the essence/ And the descent.” The scientific quest, which began with the aim of improving life on earth, ends by creating the most poisonous substances known to man.
The act of living consciously in the Universe, which Ortega y Gasset equates with philosophy, produces truths which are founded on a holistic, integral conception of the world, truths qualitatively different from those of empirical science. “Scientific truth” however, is exact but “incomplete and penultimate; it is of necessity embedded in another kind of truth, complete and ultimate.”8 Science is underlain by man’s “thirst for the essential,” beyond “the limited plane of physical phenomena alone.”9
Heidegger’s Phenomenology offers a partial lifting of the Veil and a possibility for man to regain apprehension of the invisible world of Forms which underlies and gives meaning to the visible world of sense-perception. The first insight of Phenomenology, like that of Gasset, is that man’s primary encounter with the world is not as a world of atomized particles or biological mechanisms such as that investigated by empirical science, but a world of lived spaces and societies imbued with a priori meaning and significance for humans. The Cartesian dualism between mind and reality is thus transcended. Every aspect of belief depends on how we see the world, a metaphysical vision which, as D. H. Lawrence expounded,
is then unfolded into life and art […] We’ve got to rip the old veil of a vision across […] And we’ve got to put it down in terms of belief and of knowledge […] Rip the veil of the old vision across, and walk through the rent.10
The Last Hour
Traditionalists live as men amongst a world of ruins. A question which cuts to the heart of Tradition’s validity is this: “Have these things been foretold”? This question was addressed by Rama Coomaraswamy in a 1978 article in response to the seemingly inexorable march of Modernism.11 The answer is that these things have indeed been foretold throughout the Traditional world, in both symbolic depth and sociological detail.
St. Paul writes that End Times will be preceded by a great apostasy from true religion, when Antichrist will “sit in the temple of God”: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” (II Thessalonians ii.3). In expounding the teaching of the Church Fathers on this great apostasy, Cardinal Newman proposed that the régime of Antichrist would be built up on the same bases as the French Revolution: the idols of “liberty, equality and fraternity.”12 A great warning-sign of this time is the “abomination of desolation” of which we are warned by Christ himself:
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold […] When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation […] stand in the holy place […] then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world… nor ever shall be.
– St. Matthew , 12, 15, 21
The reference itself is to Daniel’s prophecy that the Eternal Sacrifice in the Temple of the Christian faith would be replaced by a display of blasphemy: “The Victim and the Sacrifice shall fail: and there shall be in the Temple the abomination of desolation.” (Daniel ) Again and again it is prophesied that the dominant climate in this last age will be one of widespread deception, where even the faithful will be led astray from Tradition by false Messiahs “and false prophets [who] shall shew great signs and wonders.”
The degeneracy of the present is mirrored in even greater accuracy by the prophecies of ancient India regarding the Kali Yuga or Dark Age, whose darkest terminal phase we have already entered according to various concordant indications in traditional doctrines:13
People will follow the customs of others and be adulterated with them; peculiar, undisciplined barbarians will be vigorously supported by rulers, whilst purer tribes are neglected, and the people will perish […] Money alone will confer nobility […] Boldness and arrogance will be substituted for learning […] Men of all degrees will presumptuously regard themselves to be the equals of Brahmins […] Princes, instead of protecting, will plunder their subjects […] Vaishyas [yeomen] will abandon agriculture and commerce and will earn their living by servitude or the exercise of mechanical professions.14
No doubt is left by the warning of St. John the Divine that we live indeed in the End Times: “Little children, it is the last hour: and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many Antichrists…” (I John ii. 18)
If the Last Hour is indeed come, how shall we tell that time?
The Cosmic Clock: Doctrine of Four World-Ages
From the Indo-Europeans to Mesoamerica, we find that the great traditional civilisations divided world history into Four Ages, a cosmic cycle between Creation and final destruction in which the overall trend is one of inevitable entropy and degeneration. Hesiod, Ovid, and the ancient Iranians, amongst others, identify the successive ages with Gold, Silver, Bronze (or Copper), and Iron. The Traditionalist conception of time is helical: neither linear (contra the myth of Eternal Progress) nor an endless cycle of Eternal Returns—pacĕ Nietzsche, Eliade, and modern Hinduism). The helix is made up of a succession of ever-decreasing cycles of cultural and spiritual disintegration, like the diminishing periods of a free-swinging pendulum) around a central axis. Heraclitus never stepped twice in the same river, and history never exactly repeats itself, but the beginning of a cycle foreshadows its end.15
In the Indo-Aryan tradition, which contains the fullest exposition of the Manvantara (cosmic cycle), the ages or Yugas are named Krita or Satya, Treta, Dvapara, Kali, each of which is shorter than the last, accordingly as one of the hoofs of the bull representing Dharma (traditional law) fails, hence the ratio 4: 3: 2: 1 for the duration of the Yugas. Applying the esoteric principle ‘All is number,’ the total duration of the Manvantara is represented by the symbolically perfect number, 10 = 4 + 3 + 2 + 1, an inversion of the sacred Pythagorean Tetraktys. In Western Hermeticism, this formula expresses precisely the relation of the end of a cycle to its beginning.16
Where do these ages fit into our historical time? No orthodox tradition has ever encouraged explicit ‘fortune-telling’ with regard to eschatological events—“of that day and hour knoweth no man”—and so the actual numbers have always been more or less carefully concealed through mathematical operations.17 However, the World-Ages can be dated in historical time by reference to a cosmological phenomenon of cardinal importance to the ancient world, the Precession of the Equinoxes:18 the slow ‘wobble’ in the Earth’s rotation which causes the spring Sun to rise under a different constellation of the zodiac every 2160 years, passing through all twelve houses of the zodiac – hence the astrological Age of Leo, Pisces, Aquarius, and so on – every 25,920 years. There much evidence that most ancient civilisations used the Precession of the Equinoxes as a ‘cosmic clock.’
The archæologist H. V. Hilprecht, after examining literally thousands of mathematical cuneiform inscriptions, discovered that the figure of the Great Platonic Year went back at least to the fourth millennium B.C. He wrote, “All the multiplication and division tables from the temple libraries of Nippur and Sippar and from the library of Ashurbanipal are based upon 12,960,000.” And as he pointed out, 12,960 x 2 = 25,920.19 The Assyrian King Sardanapalus prided himself on having mastered the esoteric science of his time:
I received the revelation of the sage Adapa [Adam], the hidden secret tradition […] I considered the heavens with the learned masters […] I have solved complicated mathematical problems that have not been understood before. I read the cunning tablets of Sumer and the dark Accadian tongue […] I took pleasure in examining stones inscribed before the Flood.20
Painting of Delacroix: Sardanapalus' death
A cuneiform tablet from the great library Sardanapalus compiled at Nineveh contains a single enigmatic sum which works out to 195,955,200,000,000. This number expresses in seconds, “an exact multiple of any revolution or conjunction period of any planet, comet, or satellite of the solar system […] exactly down to several decimal points.”21 The sacred number of Nineveh also equates, in seconds, to exactly 240 cycles of the Precession of the Equinoxes, that is 480 Platonic Great Years.22 It seems that this is the long lost number called the “Great Constant of the Solar System,” fabled amongst alchemists, astrologers, and astronomers.23 It contains only a single apparent inaccuracy: the Nineveh Constant of 2268 million days is out by a mere 1.0368 seconds when divided into tropical years. This can be explained by the annual decrease of the tropical year by 0.000016 seconds ever since the Constant was first calculated, which can thus be worked out to approximately 62,800 B.C.24
Guénon found that the duration of the four ages could be found by taking the Platonic Great Year of the Persians and the Greeks—12,960 years, exactly half a full Precession of the Equinoxes—and multiplying it by five (the number of world-ages in Mesoamerican tradition).25 Thus our Manvantara is made up of 64,800 years: with the Krita, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali Yugas lasting respectively 25,920, 19,440, 12,960, and 6480 years.26
Based on concordant traditional data given by Guénon27 and the historian Gaston Georgel,28 an approximate chronology of the Four Ages is given below:
62,800 B.C. – Beginning of Golden Age, Satya/Krita Yuga
36,800 B.C. – Beginning of Silver Age, Treta Yuga [Deluge]
23,900 B.C. – Foundation of Atlantean civilisation
17,400 B.C. – Beginning of Bronze Age, Dvapara Yuga
10,900 B.C. – Cataclysm which ended Atlantean civilisation [corresponds with Younger Dryas meteor impact]
4400 B.C. – Beginning of Iron Age, Kali Yuga [corresponds with Indo-European invasions of Europe]
This accords with the best harmonization of scientific data with the Genesis Creation account.29 Eden was a state ‘above time,’ without death, seasons, or religion—which, after all, exists merely as a means to restore the human-divine connection which had not then been lost. The Golden Age opens after the Fall with the emergence of man in a state of near-perfection. The further he descends from the Principle, as the primordial Breath of God sounds ever more faintly in him, the lower he falls. All civilisations except the modern have been conscious of having fallen away from the perfection of Primordial Man, the beacon of which has been kept alight by an initiatic chain of prophets and saints across the millennia.30
The Golden Age by Lucas Cranach the Elder.
Ex Septentrione Lux: “Light from the North”
The most ancient layer of Tradition univocally affirms the primacy of the North as the sacred direction, the place of origin for mankind. Guénon, in many places, alludes to the Hyperborean source of the Primordial Tradition. In symbolic geography the North represents the closest point between Heaven and the temporal sphere of Chronus-Saturn, god of entropy and exiled King of the Hyperborean Golden Age who slumbers beside the frozen Chronian (Arctic) Sea.31
The North is the land where the sun never sets, a place of undying light. Every sacred tradition honours the Centre, the point where contrasts are resolved, the symbolic place not subject to the laws of cosmic entropy. The North was the cardinal point chosen whereby the primæval Logos would reveal itself in History. Every divine revelation in human history represents a reëstablishment of that Centre.
In Mediæval European and ancient Indian cosmology we find a high mountain at the top of the world and water flowing out from this mountain in four streams to the four cardinal points, which William Fairfield Warren, founding president of Boston University, identified as the original, Edenic home of mankind in all the major traditions of Eurasia.32
References to a sacred Arctic homeland abound in the Zend Avesta, the ancient Persian scripture, which describes the polar mountain, Hara Berezaiti, arising at the “beginning of the world” in the North, inhabited by gods and heroes.33 The sun, Hvar, as well as the moon and stars revolve around it. Next to the High Hara, there is a sea containing a paradisal land. On this island “They call a year a day.”34
Analysis of the oldest Indo-Iranian, Greek, and Celtic source traditions reveals a deep collective memory amongst the Indo-Europeans of an original homeland in “the glacial zone of the Arctic […] a home which was abandoned […] upon the onset of intense cold.”35
The Indian nationalist scholar, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, came to the same conclusion based on his analysis of the most ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas: “the poets of the Rig-Veda were acquainted with the climatic conditions witnessible only in the Arctic regions […] described by them […] directly in plain and simple words.”36
Metaphysical ‘Northernness’ transcends the physical compass point. Our respective nations in the South Seas are, after all, typologically Northern. Dante reminds us prophetically of this paradox by situating the Earthly Paradise at the summit of Mount Purgatory (an implicitly Polar image) under the four stars of the Southern Cross—symbolizing the four Cardinal Virtues, Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice—together with the constellations of the Arctic North, mysteriously hinting that Adam and Eve had been the first to gaze upon the Crux Australis.37
A memory of the Primordial North lingers in the human psyche as a nostalgia for the origins, an indescribable yearning or Sehnsucht for ‘Northernness,’ as C. S. Lewis called it—a numinous moment which he first experienced in childhood after reading the first lines of a Norse saga mourning the death of Balder, the Norse Messiah: “instantly I was uplifted into huge regions of northern sky […] cold, spacious, severe, pale, and remote.”38 On a providential level it is no coincidence that Lewis the future Christian thinker would be so moved by a reference to the Norse sun-god, “the just and benignant—whom the early Christian Missionaries found to resemble Christ.”39
Lewis describes his rediscovery of this “authentic Joy” many years later upon glimpsing one of Rackham’s illustrations to Siegfried and the Twilight of the Gods:
Pure ‘Northernness’ engulfed me […] the same world as Balder and the sunward-sailing cranes […] there arose at once, almost like heartbreak, the memory of Joy itself, the knowledge […] that I was returning at last from exile and desert lands to my own country.40
Axis Mundi: “The Vertical Dimension”
Amongst almost all ancient civilisations, the concept of the Northern paradise was closely connected to that of the pillar or tower linking the Centre or omphalos of the earth with the Pole Star or Sun at the centre of the skies: “This was why the Tree of Life stood in the middle of the Garden of Eden.”41
The Sun—with its qualities of immobility, immutability, and stability—symbolized the supreme God, and the positive, masculine principles of his divine nature.42 The axial motif of the Sun radiating from the summit of the Tree at the world’s Centre symbolized the Saviour or divine Son. For example, the Orphic Hymn to Apollo—grandson of the Titan Polus, ‘Pole’—praises the god for harmonizing the opposite poles of the cosmos with his lyre. This imagery harks back to the falcon Horus—god of the sun and the Pole—king and messiah of Egypt, who is depicted as alighting upon the Djed or column of Stability at the creation of the Earth.
Much of this symbolism entered the patrimony of the early Church, where Christ was depicted in mosaic as Apollo in the Vatican catacombs and at the villa discovered at Hinton St Mary. St. Ephraim the Syrian, in fact, equates the Cross with “the Tree of Life […] the sun of Paradise.”43 This was no mere naïve syncretism, but the sign of an acknowledgement amongst the earliest Christians that the promised Saviour Son-god of the ancients had arisen as their “Sun of Righteousness.”44 The Peace of the Church marked a victory for the Apollonian qualities of mercy, discipline, clarity, proportion, and good taste.
The two pillars of Modernity are Reason and Will, to the exclusion of man’s spiritual faculty, the third dimension—the transcendent or vertical, which is represented by the Axis Mundi.
When the Divine Influence acts directly on our world, or ‘vertically,’ the resulting display of supernatural power is commonly known as a ‘miracle.’ Within the usual course of things, transcendent forces act ‘horizontally,’ without directly interfering in or suspending the laws of nature. The error of materialism, as Frithjof Schuon noted, is to restrict all causality to the material world, so that only the horizontal dimension exists.
Henry Corbin, the philosopher of Sufi and Christian mysticism, equated this denial of the vertical dimension to man’s loss of a spiritual Centre, cast adrift in a meaningless, aimless cosmic void without “this celestial dimension, archetypal, angelic, which is the celestial pole without which the terrestrial pole of his human dimension is completely depolarised in vagabondage and perdition.”45
The Occult Temptation: Psychics, Drugs, and Orientalism
[…] for Satan himself transformeth him into an angel of light.
– II Cor.
A Traditional belief system can only be founded on structured authority, as found in initiatory orders or priestly hierarchies. Many of those who realise that Modernity is seriously lacking in the spiritual dimension fall into the trap of seeking an answer in counterfeit traditions bereft of such authority, in highly dubious ‘channelling’ or neopagan ‘Eastern wisdom,’ often cloaked in a thick fog of anodyne mysticism (and pot). A common thread uniting such pseudo-gurus is the typically Modern arrogance that moves them to claim ‘discoveries’ of traditional truths which have never been or can be ‘lost,’ merely hidden from profane view.
Charles Upton, a student of Guénon, observed that the success of the Theosophists of yesterday and neopagans of today, in repackaging Hermetic teachings stripped of their religious and traditional context—along with, for example, belief “in UFOs and alien entities that bear all the marks of classical demons”—merely adds an ‘esoteric flavour’ to the Modern habit of explaining the mysteries of the world by reference to purely material causes: psychic powers, biological race, astronomical events and the like.46
The insipid abandonment to substances which relax self-control and warp one’s perception of reality, so popular in youth counterculture, can only be regarded as another manifestation of what Evola called the irrational, ‘Dionysian’ spirit of intoxication and surrender.47 Some of its more pretentious epigones claim a transcendent aspect for their ‘highs,’ citing the initiatory techniques of shamanic cultures which supposedly made use of amanita and other narcotics, as if such ‘legitimate’ employment of psychoactive drugs, within highly complex and structured ritual contexts, could find any parallel in the commercial hedonism of adolescent ‘stoners.’ No less a New Age guru than Castaneda reveals, after his famous description of supposedly peyote-fuelled Toltec magi in his first two books, that the development of higher, supranatural states of perception is in fact independent of psychotropic ingestion.48 The authority on Nordic shamanism, Åke Ohlmarks,49 distinguished between the sub-Arctic form of shamanism, in which trances are produced artificially through drug or dance, and the original, ‘true’ Arctic shamanism, in which these states occurred naturally.
For those who imagine that the answer to Western spiritual malaise is to found in the ‘unspoilt’ tradition of the East, Philip Sherrard has noted that forms of scientific rationalism and materialism had developed in the Eastern civilisations far in advance of Christendom.50 In the social sciences, Han Fei Tzu’s rejection of Confucian metaphysics and his theories of sovereign absolutism and innate selfishness, which provided the political doctrine for the régime of the First Emperor, anticipate the Occidental upstart Hobbes by eighteen centuries.
The main philosophical sideshows of the last three centuries—Spinoza, the arithmeticians of Empiricism, and the occult distractions of Masonry and New Age cultism—have done little more than provide sanitised versions of Talmudic and Cabbalist speculation for Gentile audiences, the main attraction being their superficial similarity to authentic metaphysical traditions. In a similar vein, the big tussle in political economics of the last two centuries was between Marx’s rip-off of Hegel’s teleology and Plato’s social theory, on the one hand, and the global merchant-financier nexus on the other. The cosmetic divisions between these Modernist factions allow Modernity’s adherents to throw off their critics as ‘conspiracy theorists.’ The truth is that all these movements tend toward the subversion of whatever is left of Traditional society.
Traditionalism posits that all religions are derived from a body of core truths, a Divine Revelation, known as the Philosophia Perennis or ‘Perennial Philosophy.’ The Philosophia Perennis is fundamentally monotheistic, as can be seen in its Semitic and even its apparently polytheistic Indo-European branches; this has been argued most cogently by Ananda Coomaraswamy.51 The Traditional doctrine—that monotheism belongs to the earliest, primordial layer of every religion, only later degenerating into polytheism and idolatry—was proven by Pater Wilhelm Schmidt, founder of the Vienna School of ethnology.52
Count de Maistre noted with great insight that many languages of remote tribes contain references to concepts originating from formerly higher states of civilisation and knowledge;53 this is echoed by Joseph Campbell’s observation that most ‘primitive cultures’ represent “degenerations, and immensely old fossilisations of folkways that were developed in very different lands, often under much less simple circumstances.”54
Although the general trend of cosmic history is downwards, as is recorded for example in Genesis, Providence intervenes at crucial points to restore the Primordial Tradition, when the divine Principle enters the world in the person of a great redeeming figure.55 This characterizes the great religious revelations – such as those of Moses or the prophets – when “a small nucleus of humanity was snatched up and placed on a spiritual summit to act as an ideal and a guiding light for future generations.”56
Before Christ such redeemers were sent only to limited dispensations of people or culture: Zarathustra for Iran, Quetzalcoatl for the Mesoamericans, Buddha to the Indians. The advent of Rome and the World-Empire prepared the world of the Fourth Age for a World-Saviour. The descent of the Only-Begotten Son into the world can be seen as a divine gamble, an ultimate revelation which made possible a universalism of Good; its satanic inversion in Modernity has produced a universalism of Evil.
I suppose it remains for me here to offer some religious solutions to the present turmoil.
In the above synthesis I have hoped to throw some light on Count de Maistre’s affirmation that “that all of Paganism is nought but a system of truths corrupted and displaced; which only need cleansing, so to speak, and reinstatement in their proper position, to shine forth in their full brilliance.”57 I have also tried to suggest that this ‘cleansing is to be found in the Christian tradition, which “in its early days, was for the Christians an initiation, and for the rest a system, a philosophic or theurgic sect.”58
A serious critique of Christianity amongst the major Traditionalist thinkers was that its sacraments no longer represented valid initiatory rites due to the modern Church’s emphasis on exoterism over esoterism. These reservations were addressed by Frithjof Schuon’s strong protest in favour of the full and continued validity of the Christian sacraments, the denial of which would constitute “a betrayal of the Spirit.”59 René Guénon himself confirmed that the Islamic tradition considered Christianity “to have been a tarīqah, that is, essentially an initiatic ‘way’”60 To this I would add that a conscientious Westerner does himself a great disservice to surrender lightly the traditional patrimony of at least a millennia of his immediate ancestors. Through the Christian sacraments, the subject integrates realities in life that are beyond human understanding, forces and powers that existed before and point beyond our limited individual lives: birth, growth, procreation, frailty, guilt, vocation, communion through sacrifice, weakness and mortality.
Remember that I have remembered,
and pass on the tradition.
– Ezra Pound, Canto LXXX
– Michael Tung is a graduate in Ancient History and Political Studies at the University of Auckland and is currently training for registration as a high school teacher. His contribution to last year’s Symposium (“quo vadis conservatism, or do traditionalists have a place in the current party political system?”) was titled “Ride that Tigre; or The Party’s an Ass”.
Of particular interest to any inquirers into Traditional and the Perennial Philosophy are these works:
- Dmitry Merezhkovsky, The Secret of the West: Atlantis-Europe (London: Jonathan Cape, 1933);
- Valentin Tomberg, Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism (London: Element Books, 1975);
- Ivar Lissner, Man, God and Magic [Aber Gott War Da], J. Maxwell Brownjohn (trans.), (London: Jonathan Cape, 1961).
- “[…] velut desidentes primo mores sequatur animo, deinde ut magis magisque lapsi sint, tum ire coeperint præcipites, donec ad hæc tempora quibus nec vitia nostra nec remedia pati possumus perventum est.” (Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, Book I, Preface: § 9).
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Part V, §191.
- Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society, John Wilkinson (trans.), (London: Jonathan Cape, 1965), p. 139.
- Martin Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics, Ralph Manheim (trans.), (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959), pp. 37–38.
- Jacques Ellul, op. cit., p. 78.
- Ibid. p. 79.
- Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God, IV: Creative Mythology (New York: Viking Penguin, 1976), p. 47.
- José Ortega y Gasset, History as a System, and Other Essays. Toward a Philosophy of History, Helene Weyl (trans.), (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1941), cap. I: “Sportive Origin of the State”, p. 16.
- Frithjof Schuon, Roots of the Human Condition (Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2002), p. 20.
- H. Lawrence, Fantasia of the Unconscious, Foreword.
- Rama P. Coomaraswamy, “Have These Things Been Foretold?” The Roman Catholic I, No. 1, (1978).
- John Henry Cardinal Newman, “The Patristical Idea of Antichrist”, in Discussions and Arguments on Various Subjects (London: Longman, Green, & Co., 1907), pp. 44–107.
- René Guénon, Crisis of the Modern World, Arthur Osborne, Marco Pallis, Richard C. Nicholson (transs.), (Hillsdale: Sophia Perennis, 2001 ), p. 17.
- Vishnu Purana, Book IV, Chapter 24; Book VI, Chapter 1.
- Laurent James, “Parousia”, Apex: Avant-garde et tradition, No. 1: La fin des temps—La lutte finale (August 2010), 5–11: 5.
- René Guénon, “Some Remarks on the Doctrine of Cosmic Cycles”, in Samuel D. Fohr (ed.), Traditional Forms and Cosmic Cycles Henry D. Fohr (trans.), (Hillsdale: Sophia Perennis, 2003 ), pp. 1–12: 6.
- Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend, Hamlet’s Mill: An Essay on Myth and the Frame of Time (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969).
- Hermann V. Hilprecht, Mathematical, Metrological and Chronological Tablets from the Temple Library of Nippur: Vol. XX, part I, of H. V. Hilprecht (ed.), The Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania, Series A: Cuneiform Texts, (Philadelphia: Dep’t of Archæology, Univ. of Penn., 1906).
- Maurice Chatelain, Nos ancêtres venus du cosmos, Orest Berlings (trans.), (Garden City: Doubleday, 1978), p. 29.
- Ibid. p. 26.
- Ibid. p. 28.
- Ibid. p. 29.
- René Guénon, “Some Remarks on the Doctrine of Cosmic Cycles,” op. cit., (2003 ), pp. 1–12: 7.
- Ibid. pp. 1–12: 8.
- René Guénon, “The Place of the Atlantean Tradition in the Manvantara,” op. cit., (2003 ), pp. 23–26: 25.
- Gaston Georgel, Le cycle judéo-chrétien, sceau et couronnement de l’histoire humaine (Milan: Archè, 1983), p. 40.
- Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing, 2004).
- Martin Lings, Chapter 4: “The Past in the Light of the Present and the Rhythms of Time” in Martin Lings and Clinton Minnaar (eds.) The Underlying Religion: An Introduction to the Perennial Philosophy (Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2007) pp. 35–54: 51.
- Pliny, Naturalis Historia, .
- Chet Van Duzer, “The Mythic Geography of the Northern Polar Regions: Inventio fortunata and Buddhist Cosmology”, Culturas Populares: Revista Electrónica, No. 2 (May-Aug. 2006); William Fairfield Warren, founding president of Boston University, Paradise Found—The Cradle of the Human Race at the North Pole: A Study of the Prehistoric World (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1885).
- Greater Bundahishn, VI (C); Lesser Bundahishn, VIII.1–5 [Hara is the origin of the Iranian toponym Alburz]; William Fairfield Warren, op. cit., Part IV, Chapters 1 and 5, especially pp. 133–4.
- Zend Avesta, “Vendidad”, Fargard The Zend Avesta [Sacred Books of the East, Vol. IV] (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1880), Part I, 20. (131). Cf. James Darmstetter’s translation:
- Onorato Bucci, “Airyana Vaejah: La dimora originaria degli Arii e la formazione storica del principio dell’armonia cosmica”, in Antichi popoli europei: Dall’unità alla diversificazione (Rome: Editrice Universitaria – La Goliardica, 1993), The writer’s translation.
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak, The Arctic Home in the Vedas: Being Also a New Key to the Interpretation of Many Vedic Texts and Legends (Poona City: Kesari, 1903).
- Dante Alighieri, Purgatorio, Cantos I.22–7, XXX.1–3.
- S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, chapter 1.
- Thomas Carlyle, On Heroes, Hero-worship, and the Heroic in History, Lecture I.
- S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, Chapter 5.
- Ivar Lissner, Man, God and Magic [Aber Gott War Da] J. Maxwell Brownjohn (trans.), (London: Jonathan Cape, 1961), p. 267.
- Samuel Angus, The Religious Quests of the Græco-Roman World (New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1967), p. 275.
- Ephraim the Syrian, Hymns on Paradise Sebastian Brock, (trans.), (Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1990), III.2, p. 90.
- Malachi iv.2; St. Augustine, Sermon VIII, § 7.
- Henry Corbin, The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism, Nancy Pearson (trans.), (New Lebanon: Omega Publications, 1994), p. 3; Henry Corbin, Le paradoxe du monothéisme (Paris: L’Herne, 1981), p. 243.
- Charles Upton, System of Antichrist: Truth and Falsehood in Postmodernism and the New Age (Hillsdale: Sophia Perennis, 2001), p. 419.
- Julius Evola, Ride the Tiger, Joscelyn Godwin and Constance Fontana (trans.), (Rochester: Inner Traditions, 2003), Part VI, Chapter 24, p. 167.
- Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972), Introduction.
- Åke Ohlmarks, Studien zum Problem des Schamanismus (Lund: Gleerup, 1939).
- Philip Sherrard, “Modern Science and the Dehumanisation of Man”, in Martin Lings and Clinton Minnaar (ed.) op. cit., pp. 70–91.
- Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, “Vedic ‘Monotheism’”, Journal of Indian History, Vol. XV (1936), 84–92. [SydneyTrads Editors: the writer relies on Coomaraswamy’s original published work, as cited here. However, readers may be interested to note that this article was subsequently republished as “Vedic ‘Monotheism’” in Roger Lipsey (ed.), Selected Papers: Metaphysics, Bollingen Series 89 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), Vol. II, pp. 166–177.]
- Wilhelm Schmidt, Der Ursprung der Gottesidee: Eine historisch-kritische und positive Studie (Münster: Aschendorff, 1912–55), 12 vols. English translation: The Origin and Growth of Religion: Facts and Theories, H. J. Rose (trans.), (London: Methuen, 1931).
- Joseph de Maistre, Soirées de St-Pétersbourg (1821), Second Dialogue.
- Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, chap. II. 4.
- René Guénon, op. cit. (2001 ), pp. 8, 9; Jean Phaure, Le Cycle de l’Humanité Adamique: Introduction à l’étude de la cyclologie traditionnelle et de la fin des Temps (Paris: Éditions Dervy, 1994), p. 269.
- Martin Lings, “The Past in the Light of the Present and the Rhythms of Time”, in Martin Lings and Clinton Minnaar (ed.) op. cit., pp. 35–54: 47.
- Joseph de Maistre, op. cit., Eleventh Dialogue.
- Ibid., Ninth Dialgue.
- Frithjof Schuon, “Les mystères christiques”, Études traditionnelles, No. LXIX (July-Aug. 1948), pp. 191–203.
- René Guénon, Insights into Christian Esoterism, Henry D. Fohr (trans.) Samuel D. Fohr (ed.), (Hillsdale, N.Y.: Sophia Perennis, 2001), p. 6.
This article is to be cited according to the following convention:
Michael Tung, “A World Turned Upside Down: Finding True North in the Last Hour” SydneyTrads – Weblog of the Sydney Traditionalist Forum (30 April 2016) <> (accessed [date]).