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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Julius Evola-Revolt Against the Modern World [book] (2)

Julius Evola-Revolt Against the Modern World [book] (2)


Contents
1-------------------------------------------------------------------------
PART I
The World of Tradition 


1. The Beginning 3 

2. Regality 7 

3. Polar Symbolism; the Lord of Peace and Justice 16 
2------------------------------------------------------------------------
4. The Law, the State, the Empire 21 

5. The Mystery of the Rite 29 

6. On the Primordial Nature of the Patriciate 35 

7. Spiritual Virility 42 
.....................................................

.....................................................

=======================

The Law, the State, the Empire 



The traditional society's view of both the law and the state is closely related to 
the order of ideas that I have been discussing so far. Generally speaking, a 
transcendent realism is the presupposition of the traditional notion of the law. Espe- 
cially in Aryan formulations, the notion of law has an intimate relationship with the 
notions of truth, reality, and stability inherent to "that which is. M In the Vedas, the 
term fta often has the same meaning as dharma; it not only signifies the order found 
in the world (the world as order, or ΚΟΣΜΟΣ), but it has a deeper meaning whenever 
it designates truth, law, or reality, just as its opposite, anrta, designates falsehood, 
evil, or unreality. Thus, the world of the law and consequently of the state came to be 
equated with the world of truth and of reality in the eminent sense of the word, 

As a natural consequence, traditional man either ignored or considered absurd 
the idea that one could talk about laws and the obedience due them if the laws in 
question had a mere human origin— whether individual or collective. Every law, in 
order to be regarded as an objective law, had to have a "divine" character. Once the 
"divine" character of a law was sanctioned and its origin traced back to a nonhuman 
tradition, then its authority became absolute; this law became then something inef- 
fable, inflexible, immutable and beyond criticism. Thus, every transgression of such 
law was regarded not so much as a crime against society, but rather and foremost as 
sacrilege or as an act of impiety (ΑΣΕΒΕΙΑ), or as an act that jeopardized the spiritual 
destiny of the person who disobeyed it as well as of the people with whom that 
person was socially related. This is why, up to and including medieval civilization, 
rebellion against authority and the imperial I aw was considered as serious a crime as 
religious heresy. Thus the rebels were considered just like heretics, namely, as the 
enemies of their own natures and as beings who contradict the law of their very own 
being. 1 Aryan India employed a special expression to designate those who broke the 
caste law: they were called "the fallen ones," or 'the lapsed" (more on which later). 
The usefulness of the law in the modern sense of the word, that is, its collective and 
empirical usefulness, was never the true criterion adopted in ancient times; not that 
this aspect was never considered, but it was rather thought to be an accessory or a 
consequential aspect in every law, once a law was sanctioned as true. After all, there 
are different views of what constitutes usefulness. The notion of usefulness is the 
ultimate materialistic criterion of modem society, though that was not the case in 
traditional societies, which rather regarded it as a means to be employed in the func- 
tion of a higher purpose. But for a law to be considered useful it was necessary to 
appear as something other than a mere and repealable creation of the human will. 
Once it was established that its authority originated "from above," its usefulness and 
efficacy were definitively acknowledged. This certainty was never questioned, even 
in those cases in which experience, in the most immediate and unrefined meaning of 
the word, did not confirm and even proved such a law to be wrong somehow, since as 
the saying goes, "the web of 'Heaven's way* is complex and incomprehensible." 
This is why in the traditional world the creation of a system of laws and rituals was 
always attributed to divine legislators or to divine mediators; these beings, in turn, 
were considered as various forms or apparitions of the "lord of the center," or "king 
of justice," the forms being determined by different geographical areas and by dif- 
ferent populations. And even when in more recent times the electoral system was 
introduced, tradition retained a partial formal existence when the people's decision 
was not considered to be sufficient; in that case, in order for new laws to be finally 
ratified, it was necessary to obtain the approval of the pontifexes and to make sure 
that the diviners ascertained whether these laws enjoyed the gods 1 approval. 2 

Moreover, laws and institutions, as in the case of all traditional civilizations, 
were both "from above" and oriented upwards. A political, economic, and social 
order created merely for the sake of temporal life is exclusively characteristic of the 
modem world, that is, of the antitraditional world. Traditionally the state had a tran- 
scendent meaning and purpose that were not inferior to the ones the Catholic Church 
claimed for itself in the West as a manifestation of, and a path to, the "world above." 
The very term "state," in Latin status, from the Greek ΙΣΤΑΜΑΙ. "to stay," empiri- 
cally may have derived from the form of social life taken up by nomadic populations 
once they permanently settled down; however, it may also point to a higher mean- 
ing, namely, to an order concerned with hierarchical participation in a spiritual "sta- 
bility" as opposed to the contingent, unstable, changeable, chaotic, and particularis- 
tic character of a naturalistic existence. This order constituted the accurate reflection 
of the world of being in the world of becoming, hence the words pronounced in the 
course of a Vedic royal consecration: "This world of the living is steady, and so is this 
king of the people." In this way, traditional states and empires often employed the 
symbols of "centrality" and of ''polarity" that have been associated with the arche- 
type of regality. 

Thus, while the ancient Chinese empire was called the Middle Empire and the 
seat of the world according to Nordic legends was called Midgard, the "middle abode" 
or center of the world, the capital of the Incas' solar empire was called Cuzco, or 
"navel" of the world. Likewise in ancient Greece, Delphi enjoyed the same designa- 
tion as the center of Doric civilization. It would be easy to find analogous references 
in different civilizations, all pointing to the ancient meaning of traditional states and 
organizations. Generally speaking, in prehistoric times the symbolism of "sacred 
stones" already points to the same order of ideas, the alleged fetishism of the cult of 
the stones partially being a mere fancy of modern researchers. The omphalos, or 
sacred stone, is not a naive representation of the shape of the world; its meaning in 
Greek ("navel") brings it back to the idea of a "center," of a "stable point"; and it can 
also be related to what may be called sacred geography: the "sacred stone" is often 
found, and not without reason, in selected ritual places that served as traditional 
centers in relation to a given historical cycle or to a given people. 3 The meaning of 
the "sacred stone" was often that of a "foundation from above," especially when the 
stone was "from the sky," namely, an aerolith. Some examples are the lapis niger of 
the ancient Roman tradition and the "stone of destiny," the black, fatal stone figuring 
in the British and Celtic traditions, which was important for its alleged ability to 
recognize legitimate kings among various pretenders to the throne. 4 Following the 
same order of ideas, in Wolfram von Eschenbach's view the Grail was a mysterious 
"divine stone" that also had the power of revealing who was worthy of the royal 
dignity. 5 Hence, the obvious meaning of the trial consisting in being able to draw a 
sword from a stone (Theseus in Hellas, Sohrab in Persia, King Arthur in ancient 
Britannia, and so on). 

The doctrine of the two natures — which is the foundation of the traditional view 
of life — is also reflected in the relationship that exists between the state and the 
people (demos). The idea that the state derives its origin from the demos and that the 
principle of its legitimacy and its foundation rests upon it is an ideological perversion 
typical of the modern world and essentially represents a regression; with this view 
we regress to what was typical of naturalistic social forms lacking an authentic spiri- 
tual chrism. Once this direction was taken, an inevitable downward spiraling oc- 
curred, which ended with the triumph of the collectivistic world of the masses and 
with the advent of radical democracy. This regression proceeds from a logical ne- 
cessity and from the physical law of gravity that affects falling bodies. According to 
the traditional view, on the contrary, the state was related to the people, just as the 
Olympian and Uranian principles are related to the chthonic and "infernal" world; or 
as "idea," "form," or ΝΟΥΣ, are related to "matter," "nature," or ΥΛΗ); or as the lumi- 
nous, masculine, differentiating, individualizing, and life-giving principle is related 
to the unsteady, promiscuous, and nocturnal feminine principle. Between these two 
poles there is a deep tension, which in the traditional world was resolved in the sense 
of a transfiguration and of the establishment of an order from above. Thus, the very 
notion of "natural rights" is a mere fiction, and the antitraditional and subversive use 
of that is well documented. There is no such thing as a nature that is "good" in itself 
and in which the inalienable rights of an individual, which are to be equally enjoyed 
by every human being, are preformed and rooted. Even when the ethnic substance 
appears to be somewhat "well defined," in other words, when it presents some el- 
ementary forms of order, these forms (unless they are residues and traces of previ- 
ous formative actions) do not have a spiritual value in and of themselves unless by 
participating in a higher order, such as when they are assumed in the state or an 
analogous traditional organization, they are first consecrated as being from above. 
In the end, the demos 's substance is always demonic (in the ancient, non-Christian, 
and amoral sense of the word); it always requires a catharsis or a liberation before it 
can act as a force (ΔΥΝΑΜΙΣ) and as the material of a traditional political system, and 
before it can favor the development of a differentiated and hierarchical order of 
dignity over and beyond a naturalistic substratum. 

In this regard we shall see that the main principle upon which the differentiation 
between people and the hierarchy of the traditional castes is built has not been 
political or economical, but spiritual; and thus was developed an authentic system of 
participations as well as the progressive stages of a conquest and a victory of the 
cosmos over chaos. In addition to the four major castes, the Indo-Aryan tradition 
knew a broader and more significant distinction that points to the duality of natures; 
1 am referring to the distinction between the Arya or dvija and the sudra. The former 
were the "nobles" or "the twice-born," who represented the "divine" element (daivya). 
The latter were beings who belong to nature, and thus who represent the promiscu- 
ous substratum of the hierarchy that was gradually overcome by the formative influ- 
ence exercised within the higher castes, from the heads of the households to the 
brahmana Strictly speaking, this influence was the original meaning of the state 
and of the law within the world of Tradition; it had a meaning of supernatural "for- 
mation," even where it did not manifest itself immediately in visible ways, because 
of either incomplete applications of the principle or later materialistic and degenera- 
tive processes. 

These premises are the foundation upon which the potential affinity between 
the principle of every state and that of universality is founded; wherever an action 
takes place that is aimed at constituting life beyond the limits of nature and of contin- 
gent and empirical existence, it is unavoidable that some forms not connected to the 
particular will manifest themselves. The dimension of that which is universal may 
appear in different aspects and different degrees in various civilizations and tradi- 
tional organizations. The "formative process 1 ' always encounters resistance from 
matter, which in its determinations caused by time and space acts in a differentiating 
and particularistic sense in relation to the effective historical application of the one 
principle that in itself is superior and antecedent to these manifestations. Neverthe- 
less, there is no form of traditional organization — which despite any local character- 
istics, any empirical exclusivism, any "autochthonism of the cults and institutions it 
jealously defends— that does not hide a higher principle; this principle is actualized 
whenever the traditional organization reaches the heights of the idea of the empire. 
Thus, there are occult ties of sympathy and of analogy between the individual tradi- 
tional formations and something unique, indivisible, and perennial, and these ties 
are portrayed in many ways. Once in a while it is possible to detect in certain histori- 
cal institutions (such as monarchies and empires) an esoteric and universal core that 
transcends the specific geographical and historical dimensions of said institutions, 
thus culminating in a unity of a higher kind; such are the imperial peaks of the world 
of Tradition. Ideally, one same line runs from the traditional idea of law and state to 
that of empire. 

We have seen that the opposition between the higher castes (which are charac- 
terized by rebirth) and the inferior caste of the sudra was considered by the Indo- 
Aryans as an opposition between the "divine" and the "demonic" element. In Iran 
the higher castes were believed to correspond to emanations of the heavenly fire 
descended to earth, and more specifically upon three distinct "peaks"; after the "glory" 
(hvareno), the supreme form that was embodied in kings and priests, such supernatu- 
ral fire descended hierarchically to castes or classes of the warriors and of the 
patriarchical wealthy leaders (rathaestha and vastriya-ishuyant) until it reached and 
"glorified" the lands occupied by Aryan descent. 7 

In the ancient Persian tradition, this was the background against which a meta- 
physical view of the empire was formulated in the terms of a reality unrelated to 
space and time. There are two possibilities: on the one hand there is the ashavan, the 
pure, the "faithful" on earth and the blessed in heaven. The ashavan is one who 
boosts the power of the principle of light here on earth, in the domain proper to him. 
The ashavan is exemplified by the members of three classes: the lords of the ritual 
and of fire, who exercise an invisible power over occult influences; the warriors, 
whose job is to fight against barbarians and impious people; and finally, those who 
work on the dry and arid land, whose job is a militia, since fertility is almost a victory 
that increases the mystical virtus of the Aryan land. 

On the other hand, opposed to the ashavan, are the anashvan the impure ones, 
those without law, or those who oppose the principle of light. In this context, the 
empire as a traditional system governed by the "king of kings" corresponds to what 
the principle of light has successfully snatched from the snares of the principle of 
darkness; the limit of the empire is illustrated by the myth of the hero Shaoshun, the 
universal lord of a future, complete, and victorious kingdom of "peace."** 

A similar idea is found in the legend according to which the emperor Alexander 
the Great contained the onslaught of the peoples of Gog and Magog by building an 
iron wall These people may represent in this context the "demonic" element that in 
the traditional hierarchies was successfully subjugated; one day these people will 
flood the earth in pursuit of conquest but they will ultimately be challenged by fig- 
ures who, according to medieval sagas, will embody the archetype of the leaders of 
the Holy Roman Empire. 4 A similar idea is expressed in some Nordic traditions with 
the image of the bulwarks that protect the "middle abode" (the legendary Midgard) 
from the elementary powers and that one day will be overpowered during the "twi- 
light of the gods" (the ragna-rokkr). The relationship between aeternitas and 
imperium is also found in the Roman tradition; hence the transcendent, nonhuman 
character with which the notion of regere is associated; this is why the pagan world 
credited the gods for the greatness of Rome, the city of the eagle and of the axe. 
According to another view endowed with a deeper meaning, the "world" will not 
end as long as the Roman Empire existed. This idea is connected to the function of 
mystical salvation attributed to the empire, provided that the "world" is not under- 
stood in physical or political terms but rather in terms of "cosmos" and of a dam of 
order and stability containing the disruptive forces of chaos. 

In relation to this theme, the Byzantine continuation of the Roman ideal ac- 
quires a particular meaning owing to the markedly theological and eschatological 
nature animating that ideal. The empire, which even in this context is conceived as 
an image of the heavenly kingdom, is willed and preordained by God. In the empire 
the earthly sovereign (the ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΑΥΤΟΚΡΑΤΩΡ) is himself an image of the Lord 
of the universe; as the Lord himself, the sovereign is alone and without a second. He 
presides over both the temporal and the spiritual domains and his formal right is 
universal. This right extends even over people who have an autonomous govern- 
ment and who are not directly subjected to the real imperial power (any such govern- 
ment being considered "barbaric' 1 and not "according to justice," since it has a mere 
naturalistic foundation). The subjects of the empire are the "Romans" (ΡΩΜΑΙΟΙ), no 
longer in an ethical and juridical sense, but in the sense of a superior dignity and 
chrism, since they live in the pax guaranteed by a law that is a reflection of the divine 
law. The imperial ecumene sums up the order of "salvation" as well as that of the 
law in the higher sense of the word. 

The ideal of the empire reemerged one more time in the Ghibelline Middle 
Ages with the same meta historical content, that is, as a supernatural universal insti- 
tution created by Providence as a remedium contra infirmitatem peccati in order tc 
straighten the fallen human nature and direct people to eternal salvation. This ideal 
was for all practical purposes paralyzed both by the Church and by historical circum- 
stances, which precluded its comprehension as well as its effective realization ac- 
cording to its higher meaning. Dante, for instance, from a traditional point of view 
was correct in claiming for the empire the same origins and supernatural destiny of 
the Church. He was also correct in talking about the emperor as one who, "owning 
everything and no longer wishing for anything else," is free of concupiscence, and 
who can therefore allow peace and justice to reign and thus strengthen the active life 
of his subjects; after the original sin, this life can no longer resist the seductions of 
cupiditas unless a higher power controls it and directs itJ 3 

Although he expressed traditionally correct views about the empire, Dante 
Alighieri was unable to carry these ideas beyond the political and material plane. In 
Dante's view, the emperor's "perfect possession" is not an inner possession, typical 
of "those who are" but it is rather a territorial possession. Also, the cupiditas that he 
abhors is not the root of an unregenerated life tied to the law of becoming and lived 
out in a naturalistic state, but rather the cupiditas of the princes competing for power 
and riches. Again, according to him, "peace" is that of the "world," which constitutes 
the anticipation of a different order beyond that of the empire and of a contemplative 
life in an ascetical Christian sense. 

Tradition lives on, however, although only in faint echoes. With the Hohenstaufen 
dynasty Tradition had a last bright flicker; eventually the empires would be replaced 
by "imperialisms" and the state would be understood only as a temporal, national, 
particularistic, social, and plebeian organization. 

=====================================================

The Mystery of the Rite 



As the king by divine right was the center of the traditional state, two elements, 
rite and faithfulness (fides), connected particular components and activities 
within the social order to this center and allowed individuals to partake of the tran- 
scendent influence emanating from the sovereign. 

The rite was the original cement binding together traditional organizations, 
whether large or small, considered in their non-naturalistic dimension. The rite was 
first of all the prerogative of the king; second, of the aristocratic or priestly classes 
and of the magistrates (whom the Greeks called ΟΙ ΤΕΛΕΙΟΙ, "those whose responsi- 
bility is to perform sacrifices")'; and finally, of the patres, or heads of households. 
Rites and sacrifices were regulated by detailed and strict traditional norms that left 
no room for anything arbitrary or subjective. The performance of rites and sacrifices 
was imperative, his strict urn: a ritual or sacrifice that was neglected or performed by 
an unqualified person, or performed in a way that did not conform to traditional 
rules, was considered a cause of misfortune for both individuals and society, since it 
unleashed dreadful powers both in the moral and in the material order. Conversely, 
in the classical world it was said that the priest in charge of the holy fire "saved" the 
city through his ritual, day after day.- In the Chinese tradition, to establish the rites 
was the first of the three most important things in the government of an empire, since 
the rites were the "channels by which we can apprehend the ways of Heaven." 3 In 
the Hindu tradition, the "sacrificial sites" were considered to be the seats of the 
"cosmic order" (rta) itself;' it is very significant that the expression rta (artha, in 
Persian) appears in connection with analogous conceptions as the root of the Latin 
word ritus, "ritual action." In the ancient traditional way of life, both at an individual 
and at a collective level, every action was connected with a determined ritual ele- 
ment that acted as its support and as the transfiguring and guiding element "from 
above." The tradition of rites and sacrifices, which was often confused with the legi- 
slative tradition (hence the notion of his sacrum), referred both in the private and in 
the public dimensions to a nonhuman being or to a being who had transcended the 
human condition. This can hardly be comprehended by the modem, secular mental- 
ity that views every ritual either as an "outdated' 1 superstition or as a mere cere- 
mony to be appreciated merely for the sake of its symbolical, aestheticaJ, or emo- 
tional value. At this point I wish to discuss some of the aspects and meanings of this 
particular form of the traditional spirit. 

As far as "sacrifice" is concerned, according to a text universally regarded as 
very old, Brahman, "which in the beginning constituted the entire universe, created 
a higher and more perfect form of itself " from which the "gods of the warriors" 
(Indra, Mitra, and so on) came into existence". 

The primordial power's ability to go beyond itself, an act that is credited 
with the origination of entities that are the heavenly archetypes of the divine and 
triumphal regality, is strictly connected with the nature of an entire class of 
sacrifices. A similar idea is found in a cycle of other myths in which we witness 
a fundamental identity between heroes and gods who fight victoriously against 
the personifications of the forces of chaos. 7 This is the same notion of a primor- 
dial power that reacts against itself, frees itself, and ascends to a higher plane 
of being that defines its peculiar divine aspect (the Upanisad's "highest and most 
perfect form of itself"). This plane of being often manifests itself in a law or in 
a principle of order. For example, the Chaldean hero Marduk, who overcame 
Tiamat, the demon of chaos, is a cosmic principle of order; in Hindu cosmogony, 
the vital force produces the "One" of creation through asceticism (tapas tapyati). 
In the Nordic tradition the same idea is expressed through Odin's sacrifice to 
the cosmic tree Yggdrasil, through which Odin draws out of the abyss the tran- 
scendent wisdom contained in the runes and puts it to good use*; also, in one 
specific version of this myth Odin, who is viewed as a king, through his sacrifice 
points the way that leads to Valhalla, namely, to the type of action that allows 
a person to partake of the heroic, aristocratic, and Uranian immortality. 9 

According to its original meaning, the type of sacrifice to which I refer corre- 
sponds to either a similar action that generates a "god" or "hero," or to its repetition, 
which is connected to a sacrificial tradition centered on that particular god or hero; 
this repetition either renews the effective power of that god or reproduces it and 
develops it within the order of a given community. In the Egyptian tradition these 
meanings find a very important expression: according to a myth, Osiris is believed to 
be the one who taught mankind how to perform rites as well as the sacred art of 
temple construction. Osiris is also the god of rites since he himself, first among all the 
gods, went through sacrifice and experienced "death." His death and dismember- 
ment by Set are related to his "being the first to penetrate the unknown of the 
otherworld and to his becoming a being who knows the great secret," 10 The myth is 
developed in the saga of Horus, son of Osiris, who resurrects his father. Horus finds 
the "proper rites" (khu) that give back to Osiris, who has gone into the otherworld or, 
strictly speaking, into the supernatural, the form that he previously had; 

Through death and rites, Osiris, the first among all beings, knew the 
mystery and a new life: this science and this life were the privilege of 
beings who were considered divine. It is from this perspective that Osiris 
was thought to have initiated both men and gods into sacred rituals. 
He had shown to beings who inhabit the heavens and earth how to be- 
come a god." 

From then on, the cult belonging to all divine beings or deified beings consisted 
in reenacting the mystery of Osiris. This was true first of all for the king; the sacrifi- 
cial mystery of Osiris was repeated not only in the ritual of the enthroning and in the 
solemn rite called sed repeated every thirty years, but also in the daily cult, which 
aimed at renewing in the pharaoh the transcendent influence associated with his 
function. The king publicly acknowledged his kingship and paid homage to Osiris by 
"piecing him back together" and by ritually renewing his death and victory. The king 
was called "Horus who shapes the father (Osiris)" and also: "The giver of life, or he 
who through the rite makes divine life arise in a regal fashion, like the sun." The 
sovereign became "Horns" who resuscitated Osiris or was the resurrected Osiris 
himself. Similarly, in the Mysteries the initiates often took then" name from the god 
who had founded those same Mysteries, since the initiation reproduces the same act 
that constitutes the essence of the god, thus determining an analogical similarity 
of natures; sometimes this similarity is figuratively described as "incarnation" or 
"generation." 

What has been said also applied to the rite in general, that is, to the rite dedi- 
cated to the "hero" or to the founding father to whom the traditional patrician family 
lines often attributed their nonmaterial origins as well as the principle of their rank 
and of their rights; it also applied to the rite dedicated to the cult of the founders of an 
institution, of a legislation, or of a city who were believed to be nonhuman beings. In 
these instances too it was believed that in the origins an action analogous to a sacri- 
fice took place that produced a supernatural quality that remained as a potential 
spiritual legacy within the stock as the "soul" of those institutions, laws, or founda- 
tions. In these cases, rites and various ceremonies helped to actualize and to nourish 
that original influence, which by virtue of its own nature, appeared to be a principle 
of well-being, good fortune, and "happiness." 

Having clarified the meaning of a relevant body of traditional rites allows me to 
establish an important point. There are two elements within the traditions of those 
civilizations or of those castes characterized by a Uranian chrism. The first element 
is a materialistic and a naturalistic one; it consists of the transmission of something 
related to blood and race, namely, a vital force that originates in the subterranean 
world together with the elementary, collective, and ancestral influences. The second 
element is "from above," and it is conditioned by the transmission and by the unin- 
terrupted performance of rites that contain the secret of a certain transformation and 
domination realized within the above mentioned vital substratum. The latter element 
is the higher legacy that confirms and develops the quality the "divine forefather' 1 
has either established ex novo or attracted from another world. This quality origi- 
nates the royal stock, the state, the city or the temple, and the caste, the gens or the 
patrician family according to the supernatural dimension that acts as a "form" shap- 
ing chaos. Both of these elements were found in the higher types of traditional civi- 
lizations. This is why the rites could appear to be "manifestations of the heavenly 
law," 13 according to a Chinese saying. 

The unfolding of the ritual action par excellence in its most complete form (e.g., 
the Vedic sacrifice) reveals three distinct phases. First of all, there was a ritual and 
spiritual purification on the part of the person performing the sacrifice that put him in 
real contact with invisible forces and facilitated the possibility of his dominating 
them. What followed was an evocative process that produced a saturation of these 
energies either within the person performing the sacrifice, within the victim, or within 
both — or even within a third element that varied according to the structure of the rite. 
Finally, there was an action that induced a crisis (for example, the slaying of the 
victim) and that "actualized" the presence of the god out of the substance of the 
evoked influences. With the exception of those cases in which the rite is aimed at 
creating a new entity destined to be the "soul" or the "genius' 1 of a new tradition, a 
new city, or a new temple (traditionally even the construction of cities and temples 
had a supernatural counterpart), what took place was something similar to the re- 
leasing and the resealing of hidden forces. In other words, what took place was the 
evocative renewal of the contact with the infernal forces that acted as the substratum 
of a primordial deification, as well as with the violence that freed and elevated them 
to a higher form. This explains the danger believed to be associated with the repeti- 
tion of a traditional rite and also the reason why the person performing the sacrifice 
was called "virile hero." : A rile that fails or that goes wrong or that deviates in any 
way from its original form, wounds and defaces a "god": it is sacrilegium. Once a 
law has been altered, the seal of a supernatural dominion is broken and dark, am- 
biguous, and dreadful forces are unleashed. Even neglecting a rite has a similar 
effect: it. lessens the presence of the "god"' in the relationship with those who are 
guilty of such neglect and it strengthens those energies that were lamed and re- 
strained in the "god" himself; in other words, it opens the doors to chaos. Conversely, 
a correctly performed and diligent sacrificial action was reputed to be the support 
that men and gods provide for each other in their mutual interest. The fate awaiting 
those who no longer have any rite is the 'Infernal regions"; they fall from the super- 
natural order they had partaken of into the states of the lower nature. It has been said 
that only the sacrificial action does not create a "bond." 

Olympiodorus wrote thai the whole world is one great symbol, since it reflects 
invisible realities through sensible forms. Plutarch wrote: "Among the things that 
belong to a higher order there are secret connections and correspondences, just like 
in the order of natural phenomena: these connections cannot be recognized other 
than through experience, traditions and universal consensus." A characteristic ex- 
pression of Jewish esotericism is: 

Through the impulse from below there is a stirring above, and through 
the impulse from above there is a stirring higher up still. Thus by the 
impulse of the smoke [of sacrifice] from below the lamp is kindled above 
and when this is kindled all the other lamps are kindled and all the 
worlds are blessed from it. Thus by the impulse of the sacrifice is the 
mainstay of the world and the blessing of all worlds.

This may be considered the general profession of faith of traditional civilizations. 
According to modem man, both causes and effects are relegated to the physical 
plane, framed within time and space. According to traditional man the physical plane 
merely contains effects; nothing takes place in this world that did not originate first 
in the next world or in the invisible dimension. In this sense too, it is possible to see 
how the rite takes hold and affects the development of all actions, destinies, and 
ways of traditional life. In traditional societies the action par excellence consisted in 
shaping events, relations, victories, and defense mechanisms through the rite, that is, 
in preparing causes in the invisible dimension. Any material action not connected to 
this supreme action was impaired by a radical contingency; the very soul of an indi- 
vidual was inadequately protected from the dark and elusive forces acting within 
human passions, thoughts, and inclinations and behind the scenes of nature and of 
history. 

All things considered, it is difficult to label as "fanciful" the fact that tradition- 
ally the performance of the rite was considered one of the fundamental principles in 
the hierarchical differentiation of people, and generally speaking, it was closely 
associated with every authority within the state, the gens, and the family itself. It is 
possible to reject the traditional world en bloc, but it is not possible to deny the 
intimate logical connection of all its parts, once its foundation has been properly 
understood. 

==================================================

On the Primordial Nature of the Patriciate 



The Indo-Aryan civilization exemplifies one of die most thorough applications of 
the foregoing principles. In this civilization, the brahmana caste was not at the 
top of the social hierarchy by virtue of its material strength or its wealth, or even of its 
para-ecclesiastical organization; only the sacrificial rite, which was its privilege, de- 
termined its higher status vis-a-vis other castes. By permeating those who performed 
them with some kind of dreadful and beneficial psychic power, the rite and the sacri- 
fice allowed the brahmana to partake of the same nature as the evoked powers; not 
only would this quality abide in that person forever, making him directly superior to 
and revered and feared by others, but it would also be transmitted to his descendants. 
Having entered into the bloodstream as some sort of transcendent legacy, this quality 
would become the characteristic feature of a race that is activated in individuals by 
the rite of initiation, 1 The dignity of a caste was determined both by the difficulty and 
by the usefulness of the functions it exercised. Because of the abovementioned pre- 
suppositions, in the world of Tradition nothing was cherished more than the spiritual 
influences that the rite could activate through its necessitating action; nothing appeared 
as difficult as entering into a real and active relationship with the invisible forces that 
were ready to overcome the imprudent person who dared to confront them without pos- 
sessing the necessary qualifications and knowledge. For this reason the brahmana caste, 
despite the fact that it was scattered throughout India, could evince the respect of the 
masses and enjoy a prestige that no tyrant ever enjoyed, no matter how well aimed. 2 

In China as well as in Greece and ancient Rome, the patriciate was essen- 
tially characterized by the possession and by the practice of those rites that were 
connected to the divine power emanating from the founder of a family. In China, only 
the patricians practiced the rites (yi-li), while the plebeians merely had customs (su). 
There is a Chinese saying: "The rites are not the legacy of ordinary people," which 
corresponds to the famous saying of Appius Claudius: "Auspicia sunt patrum. "A Latin 
expression characterized the plebeians as gentem non habent: people who have no 
rites nor ancestors. This is why in ancient Rome the patricians viewed the plebeians' 
lifestyle and sexual coupling as similar to that of wild animals (more ferarum). Thus, 
the supernatural element was the foundation of the idea of a traditional patriciate and 
of legitimate royalty: what constituted an ancient aristocrat was not merely a biological 
legacy or a racial selection, but rather a sacred tradition. In fact, even an animal may 
have biological and racial purity. After all, in the caste system the laws of blood, he- 
redity, and endogamic restrictions did not apply only to the brahmana but to the other- 
castes as well. It was not in this sense that the plebeian was said to lack ancestors: the 
true principle of the differentiation between patricians and plebeians was that the 
ancestors of the plebeian and of the slave were not "divine ancestors" (divi parentes) 
like the ancestors of the patrician stocks. No transcendent quality or "form" entrusted 
to a rigorous and secret ritual tradition was transmitted to them through the blood. The 
plebeians lacked that power through which the members of the aristocracy could di- 
rectly celebrate their own cults or be members of the priestly class (as was the case 
in the ancient classical world , in ancient Northern and Germanic races, in the Far East, 
and so on). The plebeians did not have the privilege of the second birth that charac- 
terized the arya (the noble) and the Manudharmasastra does not hesitate to say that 
even an arya is not superior to the sudra until he has been born again. The plebeians 
were not purified by any of the three heavenly fires that in ancient Iran were believed 
to act as the occult souls of the three higher castes in the empire. The plebeians also 
lacked the "solar" element that in ancient Peru characterized the race of the Incas, The 
plebeians' promiscuity had no limits; they had no true cult of their own, and in a higher 
sense they had no founding father (patrem ciere non possunt). Therefore the plebe- 
ians' religion could not help but have a collective and chthonic character. In India their 
religion was characterized by frenzied and ecstatic forms more or less connected to 
the substratum of pre-Aryan races. In the Mediterranean civilizations, the plebeians' 
religion was characterized by the cult of the mothers and by subterranean forces in- 
stead of the luminous forms of the heroic and Olympian tradition. The plebeians, who 
in ancient Rome were called "children of the Earth," had a religious devotion to the 
feminine deities of the earth. Even in China, the official aristocratic religion stood in 
contrast with the practices of those who were often called "obsessed" (ling-pao), and 
with the popular cults of a Mongolian and shamanic type. 

We find the supernatural conception of the aristocracy also in ancient Teutonic 
traditions, not only because in these traditions every leader was at the same time the 
high priest of his people and of his lands, but also because claiming as an ancestor a 
divine being was enough to separate a family from all the others; a Icing was then cho- 
sen exclusively from among the members of these privileged families. This is why 
the king enjoyed a different dignity from that enjoyed, for instance, by a military leader 
(dux or heritzogo) who was occasionally appointed in military situations on the basis 
of his recognized individual talents. It seems that ancient Norwegian kings celebrated 
die rites by themselves, without the help of the priestly class. Even among the so-called 
primitive populations those who had not been initiated were looked down upon by 
their own people and excluded from all the military and political privileges of their 
clan. Before undergoing rites that were destined to transform one's innermost nature 
and that were often associated with hard trials and a with a period of isolation, a per- 
son was not considered to be a true man but was rather seen as belonging to the same 
class as women, children, and animals. An individual became a member of the group 
of true men who control the community only through the new life awakened in him 
by initiation, almost as if he partook of a "mystery" or joined an order. Once an indi- 
vidual partakes of this new life, which is almost "unrelated to the old one," he receives 
a new name, a new language, and new attributions. Thus, authors such as H. Schurtz 
have rightfully seen in this the germ of true political unity; this insight corroborates 
what I have said before concerning the plane proper to any traditional state, which is 
different from the plane typical of any unity built on merely naturalistic premises. 
These "virile groups" (in German, Mannerbunde) to which one is admitted after a re- 
generation that truly confers manhood and differentiates a person from all other mem- 
bers of the community, enjoy power (imperium) and an undisputed prestige. 

Only in recent times has aristocracy, like royalty, taken on a mere secular and 
political character. In the beginning, aristocracy and royalty were based on charac- 
ter, race, honor, valor, and faithfulness, on noblesse d' epee and on noblesse de coeur. 
In later times a plebeian view of the aristocracy arose that denied even the privi- 
leges of blood and tradition. 

Atypical example of the latter view is the so-called aristocracy of culture, or the 
aristocracy of intellectuals that arose as a by-product of bourgeois civilization. During 
 a census taken in the reign of Frederick the Great, the head of an ancient German 
noble family humorously replied, "Analphabet wegen des hohen Adels," in refer- 
ence to the ancient notion of the British lords who were considered "experienced in 
the law and learned, even though they may not know how to read." The truth is that 
in the context of a normal hierarchical view, the principle that determined the pre- 
cise ontological and essential differences between people and was at the basis of the 
notion of aristocracy and of its privileges was never ''intellectuality'' but rather "spiri- 
tuality." The tradition was preserved, though in an attenuated form, up to the time of 
the knightly nobility where it was embodied in a somewhat ascetical and sacral 
aspect in the great medieval orders. At that point the nobility already had its main 
reference point in the sacred, not in but outside itself and in a separate class, namely, 
the clergy, although the clergy represented a spirituality that was still a far cry from 
the spirituality of the primordial elites. 

The ritual and sacral element was the foundation of the authority of both the 
higher castes and of the father in the ancient patrician family. In Western Aryan 
societies such as Greece and Rome, the pater familiae originally enjoyed a status 
similar to that of the priest-king. The term pater was synonymous with king (hence 
the words rex, ΑΝΑΞ, ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ), it conveyed the idea of a spiritual authority as well 
as that of power and majestic dignity. According to some views with which I totally 
concur, the state is an application on a larger scale of the same principle that in the 
beginning constituted the patrician family. Therefore the pater, though he was the 
military leader and the lord of justice of his relatives and slaves, in primis et ante 
omnia was the person entrusted with performing those traditional rites and sacrifices 
proper to every family, the rites and sacrifices that constituted its nonhuman legacy. 

This legacy, which emanated from the founding father, was represented by fire 
(for example, the thirty fires of the thirty families surrounding the central fire of 
Vesta, in ancient Rome). This fire, which was fed with special substances and lit 
according to specific rituals and secret norms, was supposed to be kept burning at all 
times by every family as the living and tangible witness of its divine legacy. The 
father was the virile priest in charge of tending to the sacred family fire, but he was 
also one who must have appeared like a "hero" to his children, relatives, and ser- 
vants; or like the natural mediator of every efficacious relationship with the super- 
natural; or like the supreme vivifier of the mystical force of the ritual, which was 
present in the substance of fire; or like the incarnation of "order," as Agni was to the 
Indo-Aryans; or like the principle that "brings the gods to us"; or like "the firstborn 
from order"; or like "the son of strength"; or like "he who leads us away from this 
world, to higher dimensions, into the world of the right action." The pater's main
responsibility was to prevent the "fire from going out" so that it might continue to 
reproduce, perpetuate, and nourish the mystical victory of the ancestor; this respon- 
sibility to the fire was the manifestation of the "regal" component of his family, with 
the pater being the "lord of the spear and of the sacrifice." In this way the pater really 
constituted the center of the family; the entire rigorous constitution of traditional 
paternal rights flowed from this center as a natural consequence, and it subsisted 
even when the awareness of its primordial foundation was lost. In ancient Rome, 
anyone who like the pater had the ius quiritium (the right to the bear the lance and to 
perform sacrifices), also had the right to own land; his privileges could never be 
abrogated. He spoke on behalf of the gods and on account of power. Just like the 
gods, he expressed himself through symbols and signs. He was immaterial. Origi- 
nally, it was not possible (nulla auctoritas) to prosecute a patrician legally, since he 
was regarded as a minister of the gods, just like the king in recent times. If the 
patrician committed a crime in his mundus, the Curia would only declare that he did 
something wicked (improbe factum). His rights over his relatives were absolute: ius 
vitae necisque. His superhuman character made it natural for him to sell and even to 
put to death his own children, at his own discretion. 10 It was in this spirit that die 
articulations of what Vico rightly called "natural heroic rights" or "divine rights of 
heroic people" were formulated. 

According to a patrician tradition the rite, which corresponded to a "Uranian" 
component, enjoyed primacy over other elements of the same tradition that were 
related to nature; this can be established from several aspects of the ancient Greco- 
Roman laws. It has rightfully been said that: 

In antiquity what united the members of a family was something more 
powerful than birth, feelings and physical strength: it was the cult of the 
hearth and of the ancestors. This cult shaped the family into a united 
body, both in this world and in the next. The ancient family was more a 
religious than a natural association. 

The common ritual constituted the true bond of the family's unity and often even of 
the gens itself. If an outsider was allowed to participate in the common rite, he thereby 
became an adoptive son who enjoyed those privileges that could also be taken away 
from a biological son guilty of neglecting the rite of his family, or from a son who 
was interdicted from participating in it. This obviously meant that according to the 
traditional idea, rite rather than blood had the power to unite or to differentiate 
people. In India, Greece, and Rome, a woman had to mystically join her future 
husband's family or gens through the rite; the bride, before being a man's bride, was 
the bride of Agni or the mystical fire. Those who were allowed to participate in the 
cult proper of a patrician stock were thereby allowed to enjoy an ennobling mystical 
participation that conferred upon them some of the privileges of that particular stock, 
while at the same time they committed their future offspring to it. Consequently, it is 
possible to understand the sacred aspect of the feudal principle as it previously 
emerged in ancient Egypt, since through the mystical "gift of life" emanating from 
him, the king gathered around himself a body of faithful subjects who were elevated 
to the priestly dignity. Analogous ideas can be found in Peru among the Incas, the 
"Children of the Sun," and to a certain extent, even among the Japanese feudal 
nobility. 

In India one finds the idea — which should be reduced to the doctrine of the 
sacrifices" in general — of a family line of male descendants (primogeniture) that is 
trictly related to the problem of immortality. The firstborn— who alone has the right 
o invoke India, the heavenly warrior god— is seen as the one whose birth frees the 
father of his debt to the ancestors; thus, it is said that the firstborn "frees" or "saves" 
(tvnyate) the ancestors in the world beyond. The firstborn, standing on the "battle- 
field" represented by this earthly existence, confirms and continues the line of influ- 
ence that constitutes the ancestors 1 substance and that is carried on in the blood- 
stream as a purifying fire. It is significant that the firstborn is believed to have been 
generated in order to fulfill a "duty" to this ritual commitment that is not affected by 
human feelings or ties. 

It is not impossible, therefore, that in some cases a family derived by adaptation 
from a superior and purely spiritual type oi unity found in older times. For instance, 
Lao-tzu" hinted that the family arose at the end of a relationship of direct participa- 
tion, through blood, with the original spiritual principle. 
[In Rome there were two types of marriage, one related to the chthonic and the other to 
the Uranian component of Roman civilization. The first type was a secular and practical 
marriage, in which the woman was considered mere property to be transferred to the 
manum viri; the second type was a ritual and sacred marriage, a confarrentio, 
a sacrament or sacred union (ΙΕΡΟΣ ΓΑΜΟΣ). The Hellenistic equivalent of the 
confarreatio was the eggineois; the sacral element that abided in the agape was
considered to be so important that without it the validity of the marriage 
could be challenged.] A similar idea still echoes as 
a residue in the priority acknowledged by several traditions of spiritual paternity 
over natural paternity, or of a ''second birth" versus natural birth. In ancient Rome, 
for instance, we could refer to the inner aspect of the dignity conferred at the time of 
adoption, which was understood as an immaterial and supernatural filiation that was 
believed to take place under the aegis of "Olympian'' deities; at one point in time 
adoption was also chosen as the basis for the continuation of the imperial function. 
According to an ancient Hindu text: 

That his mother and father produced him through mutual desire and he 
was born in the womb, he should regard as his mere coming into existe- 
nce. But the birth that a teacher produces for him ... is real, free from 
old age and free from death. 14 

In this way natural relationships not only are secondary, but they may also be re- 
versed; thus according to the same text, "the brahmana who brings about the Vedic 
birth of an older person and who teaches him his own duties becomes his father, 
according to law, even if lie is himself a child." Wherever the law of patria potestas 
was considered from a social and juridical point of view to be absolute and almost 
superhuman, such a law could enjoy this spiritual character only if it had (or if it 
originally had) such a justification in the order of spiritual paternity, and also if it was 
related to blood ties as the "soul'' is related to the "body" within the organic unity of 
the family stock. I will not dwell further on these concepts; however, it is noteworthy 
that a body of ancient beliefs also postulates the idea of a unity that is not merely 
biological but psychospiritual as well. Thus the guilt of a family member was be- 
lieved to affect the entire family; 
also, according to this idea, a family member may 
redeem another or carry out an act of vengeance on behalf of another, and so on. 

In all of these aspects one finds repeated confirmation of the view according to 
which traditional institutions were ordered "from above' and were not based on 
nature but on sacred legacies and on spiritual actions that bind, free, and "shape" 
nature. In the divine dimension what counts is the blood (ΘΕΟΙ ΣΥΝΑΙΜΟΙ) and the 
family (ΘΕΟΙ ΕΓΓΕΝΕΙΣ). The state, the community, the family, bourgeois feelings, 
duties in the modern (profane, human, and social) sense of the word — all these are 
human "fabrications," things entirely made up and existing outside the realm of tra- 
ditional reality, in the world of shadows. The light of Tradition did not know any of 
these things. 

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Spiritual Virility 



So far I have discussed the roles that the Sacred, the gods, the priestly class, and 
the rites played in traditional societies. In the world of Tradition, these things 
hardly correspond to categories typical of the domain of "religion" in the current 
sense of the word, based as it is on the notion of deities conceived as self-sufficient 
beings and the notion of God as a personal being who providentially rules the uni- 
verse. Moreover, the cult is essentially characterized by an affective disposition and 
by a sentimental and devotional relationship of the "believer" to this Supreme Being 
or deities. In this type of relationship the moral law plays a fundamental role. 

One would look in vain for "religion" in the original forms of the world of Tradi- 
tion. There are civilizations that never named their gods or attempted to portray them— 
at least this is what is said about the ancient Pelasgians. The Romans themselves, for 
almost two centuries, did not portray their deities; at most, they represented them with 
a symbolical object. What characterizes the primordial times is not "animism" (the 
idea that an "anima" is the foundation of the general representation of the divine and 
of the various forces at work in the universe) but rather the idea or perception of pure 
powers, 1 adequately represented by the Roman view of the numen. The numen, un- 
like the notion of deus (as it later came to be understood), is not a being or a person, 
but a sheer power that is capable of producing effects, of acting, and of manifesting 
itself. The sense of the real presence of such powers, or numina, as something simul- 
taneously transcendent and yet immanent, marvelous yet fearful, constituted the sub- 
stance of the original experience of the "sacred." A well-known saying of Servius 
emphasizes that in the origins, "religion" consisted in nothing else but experience 
Even though more conditioned points of view were not excluded from exotericism 
(those traditional forms reserved for the common people), "inner doctrines" were 
characterized by the teaching that the personal forms of deities, variously objectified, 
are only symbols of superrational and superhuman ways of being. As I have said, the 
center consisted in the real and living presence of these states within an elite, or in 
the ideal of their realization through what in Tibet is called the "direct path," and which 
generally corresponds to initiation conceived as an ontological change of nature. The 
saying from the Upanisads that best represents the traditional "inner doctrine" is: "So 
whoever worships another divinity than his Self, thinking: 'He is one and I another,' 
he knows not. He is like a sacrificial animal for the gods.'  

With regard to the rite there was nothing "religious" about it and little or no 
devout pathos in those who performed it. The rite was rather a "divine technique," a 
determining action upon invisible forces and inner states similar in spirit to what 
today is obtained through physical forces and states of matter. The priest was simply 
a person who, by virtue of his qualification and the virtus intrinsic to the rite itself, 
was capable of producing results through this technique. "Religion" was the equiva- 
lent of the indigitamenta of the ancient Roman world, namely, of the body of formu- 
lations used with different numina. Thus it is easy to see that prayers, fears, hopes, 
and other feelings displayed before what has the character of numen had as little 
meaning and effect upon it as if one of our contemporaries were to employ prayers 
when confronting a machine. Instead, what was at stake was to be able to understand 
such relationships so that once a cause was established through a correctly performed 
rite, a necessary and constant effect would ensue on the plane of "powers'' and invis- 
ible forces and states of being. Thus, the law of action reigned supreme. But the law 
of action is also the law of freedom; no bond can be spiritually imposed on beings 
who neither hope nor fear, but rather act. 

Thus in the older Indo-Aryan view of the world only the brahmana caste, con- 
sisting as it did of superior natures, could tower over everybody else since it ruled 
over the power of the rite, or of Brahman, understood in this context as the vital and 
primordial principle. The "gods" themselves, when they are not personifications of 
the ritual action (that is, beings who are actualized or renewed by this action), are 
spiritual forces that bow before this caste/' According to the Far Eastern tradition, the 
person who has authority also enjoys the dignity of a "third power between Heaven 
and Earth." In ancient Egypt, even the "great gods" could be threatened with de- 
struction by priests who knew special sacred incantations. "Kemotef" ("his mother's 
bull) was a title of the Egyptian king, emphasizing that as a man, the king possesses 
the primordial substance; he affects the divine more than being affected by it. One of 
the formulations recited by the Egyptian kings before the performance of the rites 
was: "O gods, you are safe if I am safe; your doubles are safe if my double is at the 
head of all living doubles; everybody lives if I live.'* Formulations of glory, power, 
and total identification are recited by the soul "rendered like Osiris' in the course of 
its trials; these trials in turn can be assimilated to various degrees of solar initia- 
tion. Similar traditions are perpetuated wherever in Alexandrian literature mention 
is made of the "holy race of people without kings, 11 a race "autonomous and immate- 
rial." that "acts without being acted upon."" This race is believed to be endowed with 
a ''sacred science centuries old" that is proper to "the lords of the spirit and of the 
temple" and communicated only to kings, princes, and priests; this science is related 
to the rituals of the pharaohs and later on it came to be known in the Western world 
as Ars Regia.

In the higher forms of the luminous Aryan spirituality, whether in Greece, an- 
cient Rome, or the Far East, the role played by doctrine was minimal: only the rituals 
were mandatory and absolutely necessary. Orthodoxy was defined through rituals 
and practices and not through dogmas and theories. Sacrilege and impiety (ΑΣΕΒΕΙΑ) 
did not consist in "not believing" but rather in neglecting rites. This does not amount 
to "formalism" — as modem historians, who are more or less influenced by a Protes- 
tant mentality, would have us believe— but rather to the pure law of spiritual action. 
In the Doric-Achaean ritual, the relationship with the divine was not based on feel- 
ings but on an attitude characterized by do ut des. n Even the gods presiding over 
'unerals were not treated very "religiously"; they did not love men, nor were they 
oved by them in return. The reason behind their cult was to propitiate them and to 
prevent them from exercising an unfavorable action. The expiatio itself originally 
had the character of an objective operation, such as the medical procedure for an 
infection, without resembling either a punishment or an act of repentance on the part 
of a soul. The formulations employed by every patrician family and by every ancient 
city in their relationship with the forces controlling their destinies, had been previ- 
ously employed by their divine forefathers to overcome spiritual forces (numina). 
Thus, these formulations were merely the legacy of a mystical domain; they were 
not the effusion of feelings but a supernaturally efficacious weapon, provided that 
not a single technique was changed in the course of the rite. 12 

Wherever the traditional principle was applied in its entirety it is possible to 
find, in its hierarchical differentiations, a transcendent virility that finds its best 
symbolical expression in the synthesis of the two attributes of the Roman patrician 
class, namely, the lance and the rite. There one also finds beings who are reges 
sacrorum, innerly free, and often consecrated by Olympian immortality. With regard 
to invisible and divine forces these beings exercise the same function of centrality 
and the same role that leaders exercise among human beings. A very long down- 
ward path or degenerated process unwinds from this "peak" to what is currently and 
commonly considered "religion 11 and "priesthood." 

The world of "animism" represents a fall from and an attenuation of the world 
perceived under the species of "powers" and of numem. This attenuation and degen- 
eration was destined to increase with the shift from a world in which "souls" were 
inherent in things and in the elements to a world in which the gods were conceived as 
persons in an objective sense rather than as figurative allusions to nonhuman states, 
forces, and possibilities. When the efficacy of the rite disappeared, man was moti- 
vated to give a mythological individuality to those forces with which he had previ- 
ously dealt according to simple relationships of technique or which, at most, he had 
conceived under the species of symbols. Later on man conceived these forces in his 
own image, thus limiting human possibilities; he saw in them personal beings who 
were more powerful than he was, and who were to be addressed with humility, faith, 
hope, and fear, not only to receive protection and success, but also liberation and 
stilus (in its double meaning of health and salvation). The hyperrealistic world that 
was substantiated with pure and sheer action was replaced with a subreaL and con- 
fused world of emotions, imagination, hopes, and fears; this world became increas- 
ingly "human" and powerless as it followed various stages of the general involution 
and alteration of the primordial tradition. 

Only vis-a-vis this decadence is it possible to distinguish the regal and the priestly 
functions. Even when a priestly class ruled without departing from the pure tradi- 
tional spirit, as in the case of ancient India, it had a much more "magical" and regal 
rather than religious character, in the usual sense of the word "religious." 

When J say "magical," I do not mean what today the majority of people think 
when they hear the term "magic", which is almost always discredited by prejudices 
and counterfeits. Nor do I refer to the meaning the term acquires when referred to 
the sui generis empirical science typical of antiquity, which was rather limited in its 
scope and effects. Magic in this context designates a special attitude toward spiritual 
reality itself, an attitude of centrality that is closely related to regal tradition and 
initiation. 

Secondly, it does not make sense to emphasize the relationship between the 
magical attitude, the pure ritual, the impersonal, direct, and "numinous" perception 
of the divine and the way of life of savage tribes, which according to the Judeo- 
Christian mentality are still unaware of "true religiosity." In most cases, savage tribes 
should not be considered as precivilized states of mankind, but rather as extremely 
degenerated forms of remnants of very ancient races and civilizations. Even though 
the abovementioned particulars are found among savage tribes and are expressed in 
materialistic, dark, and shamanic forms, this should not prevent us from recognizing 
the meaning and the importance they assume once they are brought back to their 
true origins. Likewise, "magic" should not be understood on the basis of those wretched 
and degenerated remnants, but rather on the basis of the forms in which it was pre- 
served in an active, luminous, and conscious way. These forms coincide with what I 
have called the "spiritual virility" of the world of Tradition. It does not come as a 
surprise that most noted modern "historians of religion" have no idea whatsoever 
about this concept; the confusions and the prejudices found in their highly docu- 
mented works are most unfortunate. 
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