.

.

POSTS BY SUBJECT

POSTS BY SUBJECT

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H. Pearson (1) Sabra-Shatila massacre (10) Sandy Hook (1) Sanskrit (1) SAUDI ARABIA (7) Savitri Devi (27) Scandinavia (1) SCIENCE (45) Secret Military Technology (14) Secret weapons (10) Sedition Trial (1) SERBIA (1) sexual freedom (6) Sexualization of Culture (6) Sinister sites (11) Skepticism (1) Slave trade (1) SOUTH AFRICA (10) Space/Apollo_Hoax (54) SPAIN (6) Spanish Civil War (1) Spengler (6) Spirituality (1) Srebrenica (1) STALINISM (1) State_criminality (8) Steganography (16) Steven Yates (7) STRANGE SOUNDS (4) Subterranean_world (10) SUDAN (2) SUPERNATURAL (16) Surveillance (1) SWASTIKA (33) Swaziland (1) SWEDEN (19) Switzerland (1) SYRIA (8) Taj Mahal (13) Ted Kaczynski (1) Terrorism (44) TESLA (6) The 1001 Club (1) The Celts (1) The Cultural Integration Initiative (1) THE END OF WHITE RACE (21) The Great Flood (8) The Irish Savant (9) The Mass Rape of German Women by the Red Army (1) The Nuremberg Trials (5) The plutonium injections (4) the Wealth of Nations (2) Theo van Gogh (1) Thought of the Right (63) Thought-control (3) TITANIC (72) Tommy Robinson (1) Torture (1) Tradition (5) Transatlantic Slave Trade (1) Transcendent Experience (6) TRUMP _Administration (1) Tunguska (1) Tunisia (2) TURKEY (8) TWA flight 800 (1) U.S.A. 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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Julius Evola-Revolt Against the Modern World [book] (4)

Julius Evola-Revolt Against the Modern World [book] (4)


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

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 
3----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
8. The Two Paths in the Afterlife 47 

9. Life and Death of Civilizations 54 

10. Initiation and Consecration 60 

11. On the Hierarchical Relationship Between Royalty and Priesthood 68 
4-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
12. Universality and Centralism 73 

13. The Soul of Chivalry 79 

14. The Doctrine of the Castes 89 

15. Professional Associations and the Arts; Slavery 101 
5--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
16. Bipartition of the Traditional Spirit; Asceticism 1 1 1 

17. The Greater and the Lesser Holy War 1 16 

18. Games and Victory 129 

19. Space, Time, the Earth 143 

20. Man and Woman 157 

21. The Decline of Superior Races 167 

PART II
GENESIS AND FACE OF MODERN WORLD


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

Universality and Centralism 



The ideal of the Holy Roman Empire points out the decadence the principle of 
regere [ruling] is liable to undergo when it loses its spiritual foundation. I will 
here anticipate some of the ideas I intend to develop in the second part of this work. 
In the Ghibelline ideal of the Holy Roman Empire, two beliefs were firmly up- 
held: that the regnum had a supernatural origin and a metapolitical and universal 
nature, and that the emperor as the lex animata in terris and as the peak of the ordinatio 
ad unum, was aliquod unum quod non est pars (Dante) and the representative of a 
power transcending the community he governed; in the same way the Empire should 
not be confused with any of the kingdoms and nations that it encompassed, since in 
principle it was something qualitatively other, prior, and superior to each of them. 1 
There was no inconsistency — as some historians would have us believe — in the me- 
dieval contrast between the absolute right (above all places, races, and nations) the 
emperor claimed for himself by virtue of having been regularly invested and conse- 
crated, and the practical limitations of his material power vis-a-vis the European sov- 
ereigns who owed him obedience. The nature of the plane of every universal func- 
tion that exercises an all-encompassing unifying action is not a material one; as long 
as such a function does not assert itself as a mere material unity and power, it is wor- 
thy of its goals. Ideally speaking, the various kingdoms were not supposed to be united 
to the Empire through a material bond, whether of a political or a military nature, 
but rather through an ideal and spiritual bond, which was expressed by the character- 
istic term tides, which in Medieval Latin had both a religious meaning and the politi- 
cal and moral meaning of "faithfulness" or "devotion." The fides elevated to the dig- 
nity of a sacrament (sacramenturn fidelitatis) and the principle of all honor was the 
cement that unified the various feudal communities. "Faithfulness" bound the feudal 
lord to his prince, who was himself a feudal lord of a higher rank; moreover, in a higher, 
purified, and immaterial form, "faithfulness" was the element required to bring back 
these partial units (singulae communitates) to the center of gravity of the Empire, which 
was superior to them all since it enjoyed such a transcendent power and authority that 
it did not need to resort to arms in order to be acknowledged. 

This is also why, in the feudal and imperial Middle Ages, as well as in any other 
civilization of a traditional type, unity and hierarchy were able to coexist with a high 
degree of independence, freedom, and self-expression. 

Generally speaking and especially in typically Aryan civilizations, there were long 
periods of time in which a remarkable degree of pluralism existed within every state 
or city. Families, stocks, and genres made up many small-scale states and powers that 
enjoyed autonomy to a large degree; they were subsumed in an ideal and organic unity, 
though they possessed everything diey needed for their material and spiritual life: a cult, 
a law, a land, and a militia. Tradition, the common origin, and the common race (not 
just the race of the body, but the race of the spirit) were the only foundations of a supe- 
rior organization that was capable of developing into the form of the Empire, especially 
when the original group of forces spread into a larger space when it needed to be orga- 
nized and unified; a typical example is the early history of the Franks. "Frank" was 
synonymous with being free, and the bearer, by virtue of one's race, of a dignity that in 
then- own eyes made the Franks superior to all other people: 'Francus liber dicitur, quia 
super omnes gentes alias decus et dominatio illi debetur" (Turpinus). Up to the ninth 
century, sharing the common civilization of and belonging to the Frank stock were the 
foundations of the state, although there was no organized and centralized political unity 
coextensive with a national territory as in the modem idea of a state. Later on, in the 
Carolingian development that led to establishment of the Empire, Frank nobility was 
scattered everywhere; these separated and highly autonomous units, which still retained 
an immaterial connection with the center, constituted the unifying vital element within 
the overall connection, like cells of the nervous system in relation to the rest of the or- 
ganism. The Far Eastern tradition in particular has emphasized the idea that by leaving
 the peripheral domain, by not intervening in a direct way, and by remaining in the 
essential spirituality of the center (like the hub of the wheel effecting its movement), it 
is possible to achieve the 'Virtue" that characterizes the true empire, as the single indi- 
viduals maintain the feeling of being free and everything unfolds in an orderly way. This 
is possible because by virtue of the reciprocal compensation resulting from the invis- 
ible direction being followed, the partial disorders or individual wills will eventually 
contribute to the overall order.  
This is the basic idea behind any real unity and any authentic authority. On the 
contrary, whenever we witness in history the triumph of a sovereignty and of a unity 
presiding over multiplicity in a merely material, direct, and political way — interven- 
ing everywhere, abolishing the autonomy of single groups, leveling in an absolutist 
fashion every right and every privilege, and altering and imposing a common will on 
various ethnic groups — then there cannot be any authentic imperial power since 
what we are dealing with is no longer an organism but a mechanism; this type is best 
represented by the modem national and centralizing states. Wherever a monarch 
has descended to such a lower plane, in other words, wherever he, in losing his 
spiritual function, has promoted an absolutism and a political and material central- 
ization by emancipating himself from any bond owed to sacred authority, humiliating 
 the feudal nobility, and taking over those powers that were previously distributed 
among the aristocracy — such a monarch has dug his own grave, having brought upon 
himself ominous consequences. Absolutism is a short-lived mirage; the enforced 
uniformity paves the way for demagogy, the ascent of the people, or demos, to the 
desecrated throne. This is the case with tyranny, which in several Greek cities re- 
placed the previous aristocratic, sacral regime; this is also somewhat the case with 
ancient Rome and with Byzantium in the leveling forms of the imperial decadence; 
and finally, this is the meaning of European political history after the collapse of the 
spiritual ideal of the Holy Roman Empire and the ensuing advent of the secularized, 
nationalist monarchies, up to the age of "totalitarianism" as a terminal phenomenon. 

it is hardly worth talking about the great powers that arose from the hypertrophy 
of nationalism that was inspired by a barbaric will to power of a militaristic or eco- 
nomic type and that people called "empires." Let me repeat that an empire is such 
only by virtue of higher values that have been attained by a given race, which first of 
all had to overcome itself and its naturalistic particularities; only then will a race be- 
come the bearer of a principle that is also present in other peoples endowed with a 
traditional organization, although this principle is present only in a potential form. In 
this instance the conquering material action presents itself as an action that shatters 
the diaphragms of empirical separation and elevates the various potentialities to the 
one and only actuality, thus producing a real unification. The principle "die and be- 
come," which resembles being hit by "Apollo's thunderbolt" (C. Steding), is the el- 
ementary requirement for every stock striving to achieve an imperial mission and 
dignity; this is exactly the opposite of the morality of so-called sacred selfishness 
displayed by various nations. To remain limited by national characteristics in order to 
dominate on their basis other peoples or other lands is not possible other than through a 
temporary violence. A hand, as such, cannot pretend to dominate the other organs of 
the body; it can do so, however, by ceasing to be a hand and by becoming soul, or in 
other words, by rising up again to an immaterial function that is able to unify and to 
direct the multiplicity of the particular bodily functions, being superior to each one of 
them considered in and of themselves. If the "imperialist" adventures of modem times 
have failed miserably, often bringing to ruin the peoples that promoted them, or if they 
have been transformed into calamities of different kinds, the cause is precisely the 
absence of any authentically spiritual, metapolitical, and metanationalistic element; 
that is replaced instead with the violence of a stronger power that nonetheless is of the 
same nature as those minor powers it attempts to subdue. If an empire is not a sacred 
empire it lS not an empire at all, but rather something resembling a cancer within a 
system comprised of the distinct functions of a living organism. 

This is what I think about the degeneration of the idea of regere once it has 
become secularized and separated from the traditional spiritual basis: it is merely a 
temporal and centralizing idea. When considering yet another aspect of this devia- 
tion, one will notice that it is typical of all priestly castes to refuse to acknowledge 
the imperial function (as was the case of the Roman Church at the time of the struggle 
over the investitures) and to aim at a deconsecration of the concept of state and of 
royalty. Thus, often without realizing it, the priestly caste contributed to the forma- 
tion of that lay and "realistic" mentality that unavoidably was destined to rise up 
against priestly authority itself and to ban any of its effective interferences in the 
body of the state. After the fanaticism of the early Christian communities, which 
originally identified the ruling Caesar's empire with Satan's kingdom, the greatness 
of the aeternitatis Romae with the opulence of the Babylonian prostitute, and the 
lictorian conquests with a magnum latrocinium; and after the Augustinian dualism, 
which contrasted state institutions with the civitas dei and considered the former as 
sinful (corpus diaboli) and unnatural devices— the Gregorian thesis eventually up- 
held the doctrine of the so-called natural right in the context of which regal authority 
was divested of every transcendent and divine character and reduced to a mere 
temporal power transferred to the king by the people. According to this thesis, a king 
is always accountable to the people for his power, as every positive state law is 
declared contingent and revocable vis-a-vis that "natural right."-' As early as the 
thirteenth century, once the Catholic doctrine of the sacraments was defined, regal 
anointing was discontinued and ceased to be considered, as it had been previously, 
almost on the same level as priestly ordination. Later on, the Society of Jesus often 
accentuated the antitraditional lay view of royalty (even though they sided with the 
absolutism of those monarchies that were subservient to the Church, the Jesuits in 
some cases went as far as legitimizing regicide 5 ), in order to make it clear that only 
the Church enjoys a sacred character and that therefore every primacy belongs to 
her alone. As I have already mentioned, however, exactly the opposite came true. 
The spirit that was evoked overcame those who evoked it. Once the European states 
became the expressions of popular sovereignty and found themselves governed merely 
by economic principles and by the acephalous organizations (such as the Italian city- 
republics) that the Church had indirectly sponsored in their struggle against imperial 
authority, they became self-subsistent entities. These entities eventually became 
increasingly secularized and relegated everything that had to do with "religion" to 
an increasingly abstract, privatistic, and secondary domain and even used "religion" 
as an instrument to pursue their own goals. 

The Guelph (Gregorian-Thomist) view is the expression of an emasculated spiri- 
tuality to which a temporal power is superimposed from the outside in order to 
strengthen it and render it efficient; this view eventually replaced the synthesis of 
spirituality and power, of regal supernaturality and centrality typical of the pure 
traditional idea. The Thomist worldview attempted to correct such an absurdity by 
conceiving a certain continuity between state and Church and by seeing in the state 
a "providential" institution. According to this view, the state cannot act beyond a 
certain limit; the Church takes over beyond that limit as an eminently and directly 
supernatural institution by perfecting the overall sociopolitical order and by actualizing 
 the goal that excedit proportionem naturalis facultatis humanae. While this view 
is not too far off from traditional truth, it unfortunately encounters, in the order of 
ideas to which it belongs, an insurmountable difficulty represented by the essential 
difference in the types of relationship with the divine that are proper to regality and 
to priesthood respectively. In order for a real continuity, rather than a hiatus, to exist 
between the two successive degrees of a unitary organization (Scholasticism identi- 
fied them with state and Church), it would have been necessary for the Church to 
embody in the supernatural order the same spirit that the imperium, strictly speak- 
ing, embodied on the material plane; this spirit is what I have called "spiritual viri- 
lity." The "religious" view typical of Christianity, however, did not allow for anything 
of this sort; from Pope Gelasius I onward the Church's claim was that since Christ 
had come, nobody could be king and priest at the same time. Despite her hierocratic 
claims, the Church does not embody the virile (solar) pole of the spirit, but the femi- 
nine (lunar) pole. She may lay claim to the key but not to the scepter. Because of her 
role as mediatrix of the divine conceived theistically, and because of her view of 
spirituality as "contemplative life" essentially different from "active life" (not even 
Dante was able to go beyond this opposition), the Church cannot represent the best 
integration of all particular organizations— that is to say, she cannot represent the 
pinnacle of a great, homogeneous ordinatio ad unum capable of encompassing both 
the peak and the essence of the "providential" design that is foreshadowed, accord- 
ing to the abovementioned view, in single organic and hierarchical political unities. 
If a body is free only when it obeys its soul— and not a heterogeneous soul- 
then we must give credit to Frederick II's claim, according to which the states that 
recognize the authority of the Empire are free, while those states that submit to the 
Church, which represents another spirituality, are the real slaves. 

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

The Soul of Chivalry 



As I have previously indicated, not only regality but traditional nobility as well 
was originally characterized by a spiritual element. As we did for regality, let 
us consider the case in which this element is not the natural but rather the acquired 
possession of nobility. It follows that we find a gap analogous to that which exists 
between initiation and investiture. Investiture corresponds to what in the West was 
knightly ordination and to what in other areas was the ritual initiation typical of the 
warrior caste; initiation (a realization of a more direct, individual, and inner nature) 
corresponds to heroic action in a traditional, sacral sense, which is connected to doc- 
trines such as that of the "holy war" and of the mors triumphalis. 

I will discuss the second possibility later. In this context I will only discuss the 
spirit and the mystery of medieval knighthood as an example of the first possibility. 

To begin with, we must be aware of the difference that existed during the Euro- 
pean Middle Ages between the feudal and knightly aristocracy. The former was 
connected to a land and to faithfulness (fides) to a given prince. Knighthood, instead, 
appeared as a superterritorial and supernational community in which its members, 
who were consecrated to military priesthood, no longer had a homeland and thus 
were bound by faithfulness not to peopLe but, on the one hand, to an ethics that had as 
its fundamental values honor, truth, courage, and loyalty and, on the other hand, to 
a spiritual authority of a universal type, which was essentially that of the Empire. 
Knighthood and the great knightly orders of the Christian ecumene were an essential 
part of the Empire, since they represented the political and military counterpart of 
what the clergy and the monastic orders represented in the ecclesiastical Order. Knight- 
hood did not necessarily have a hereditary character: it was possible to become a 
knight as long as the person wishing to become one performed feats that could demon-
strate both his heroic contempt for attachment to life as well as the abovementioned 
faithfulness (in both senses of the term). In the older versions of knightly ordination, 
a knight was ordained by another knight without the intervention of priests, almost as 
if in the warrior there was a force "similar to a fluid" that was capable of creating 
new knights by direct transmission; a witness to this practice is found in the Indo- 
Aryan tradition of "warriors ordaining other warriors." Later on, a special religious 
rite was developed, aimed at ordaining knights. 

This is not all; there is a deeper aspect of European chivalry worth mentioning. 
The knights dedicated their heroic deeds to a woman; this devotion assumed such 
extreme forms in European chivalry that we should regard them as an absurd and 
aberrant phenomenon, if taken literally. To avow unconditional faithfulness to a 
woman was one of the most recurrent themes in chivalrous groups; according to the 
"theology of the castles" there was little doubt that a knight who died for his "woman" 
shared the same promise of blessed immortality achieved by a crusader who had 
died to liberate the Temple. In this context, faithfulness to God and to a woman 
appear to coincide. According to some rituals, the neophyte knight's "woman" had to 
undress him and lead him to the water, so that he could be purified before being 
ordained. On the other hand, the heroes of daring feats involving a "woman," such as 
Tristan and Lancelot, are simultaneously knights of King Arthur committed to the 
quest for the Grail, and members of the same order of "heavenly knights" to which 
the Hyperborean "Knight of the Swan" belonged. 

The truth is that behind all this there were esoteric meanings that were not dis- 
closed to the judges of the Inquisition or to ordinary folks; thus, these meanings were 
often conveyed in the guise of weird customs and of erotic tales. In a number of 
instances what has been said about the knight's "woman" also applies to the "woman" 
celebrated by the Ghibelline "Love's Lieges," which points to a uniform and pre- 
cise traditional symbolism. The woman to whom a knight swears unconditional faith- 
fulness and to whom even a crusader consecrates himself; the woman who leads to 
purification, whom the knight considers his reward and who will make him immortal 
if he ever dies for her— that woman, as it has been documented in the case of the 
"Worshipers of Love" or "Love 's Lieges," is essentially a representation of "Holy 
Wisdom," or a perceived embodiment, in different degrees, of the "transcendent, 
divine woman" who represents the power of a transfiguring spirituality and of a life 
unaffected by death. This motif, in turn, is part of a complete traditional system; 
there is, in fact, a vast cycle of sagas and myths in which the "woman" is portrayed 
according to this value. The same theme runs through the stories of Hebe, a peren- 
nial youth who becomes the spouse of the hero Heracles in the Olympian domain; of 
Idun (whose name means "rejuvenation," "renewal") and of Gurnnlod, holder of the 
magic potion Odhaerir, who attempt in vain to attain Freya, goddess of light, who is 
constantly yearned for by "elemental beings"; of Brynhild, whom Odin appoints as 
the earthly bride of a hero who will dare go through the flickering flame surrounding 
her hall; of the woman of the "Land of the Living" and of the "Victorious One" 
(Boagad) who attracts the Gaelic hero Conall Ceamach; of the Egyptian women 
who offer the "key of life" and the lotus of resurrection; of the Aztec Teoya-miqui 
who leads the fallen warriors to the "House of the Sun"; of the "well-shaped, strong, 
and tall-formed maidens who make the soul of the righteous go above the Kivad 
bridge and who place it in the presence of the heavenly gods themselves"; 4 of Ardvi 
Sura Anahita, "strong and holy, who proceeds from the god of light," and of whom 
one asks for "the glory which belongs to the Aryan race and to the holy Zarathustra," 
as well as wisdom and victory;' of the "bride" of Gesar, the Tibetan hero, who is an 
emanation of "the conquering Dolma," not without relation to the double meaning of 
the Sanskrit term sakti, which means both "bride" and "power"; to the fravashi, di- 
vine women who, like the Valkyrie, are simultaneously transcendental parts of the 
human soul and beings who "bestow victory on those who invoke them, favors on 
those who love them, health on those who are ill." This theme helps us to penetrate 
the esoteric dimension of some of the chivalrous literature about the "woman" and 
her cult. In the Indo-Aryan tradition it is said: 

Verily, not for love of ksatrahood [in a material sense] is ksatrahood 
dear, but for love of the soul [the principle of the Self which is "light 
and immortality"! ksatrahood is clear . , . Ksatrahood has deserted him 
who knows ksatrahood in anything else but the Soul.  

The same idea may constitute the background of the particular aspect of chivalry 
that I have considered in this context. 

It is important to note that in some cases the symbolism of the "woman" may 
assume a negative, "gynaecocratic" character (see chapter 27) that is different from 
the character related to the core of chivalry that leads to the ideal of "spiritual virili- 
ty" mentioned in the previous chapter. The persistent, repeated use of feminine 
characters, which is typical of cycles of a heroic type, in reality means nothing else 
but this: even when confronting the power that may enlighten him and lead him to 
something more than human, the only ideal of the hero and of the knight is that 
active and affirmative attitude that in every normal civilization characterizes a true 
man as opposed to a woman. This is the "mystery" that in a more or less hidden form 
has shaped a part of the chivalrous medieval literature and that was familiar to the 
so-called Courts of Love, since it was able to confer a deeper meaning to the often 
debated question whether a "woman" ought to prefer a "cleric" or a "knight." 

Even the odd declarations of some chivalrous codes, according to which a knight 
(who is believed to have a semi-priestly dignity or to be a "heavenly knight") has the 
right to make other people's women his own, including the women of his own sove- 
reign, as long as he proves to be the strongest, and according to which the possession 
of a "woman" automatically derives from his victory— must be related to the mean- 
ings that I have discussed in the context of expounding the saga of the King of the 
Woods of Nemi, described in chapter 1. 

We are entering here into an order of real experiences, and thus we must re- 
nounce the idea that these are just inoperative and abstract symbols. I must refer my 
readers to another work of mine, The Metaphysics of Sex, where I said that the 
'initiatory woman" or "secret woman" could be evoked in a real woman; in this book 
I also explained that Eros, love, and sex were known and employed according to 
their real transcendent possibilities. Such possibilities were hinted at by several tra- 
ditional teachings, so much so as to define a special path leading to the effective 
removal of the limitations of the empirical self and to the participation in higher 
forms of being. Existentially, the nature of the warrior was such as to present eventu- 
ally a qualification for this path. I cannot, however, develop this point any further in 
this context. 

Materialized and scattered fragments of an ancient symbolism are also found in 
other cases, such as the fact that the title of "knight" confers a special prestige and 
that the knight is in some cases so close to his horse that he shares both clanger and 
glory with it and may become rituajly demoted from his rank when he allows himself 
to be unsaddled. These facts may lead us beyond the merely material dimension, 
and may be related to other filiations of the ancient symbolism of the horse. The 
horse appears in the famous myths of Perseus and Bellerophon as a winged creature 
capable of taking to the sky, the riding of which constitutes a test for divine heroes. 
The symbolism becomes more evident in the Platonic myth where the outcome of 
the choice between the white and the black horse determines the transcendental 
destiny of the soul, represented by the charioteer, and also in the myth of Phaethon, 
who was flung into the river Eridanus by his horse's driving force as it drove the sun 
chariot through the sky. In its traditional association with Poseidon, the god of the 
fluid element, the horse played the role of a symbol of the elementary life-force; 
even in its relation with Mars — another equestrian god of classical antiquity — the 
horse was the expression of the same force, which in ancient Rome was subjected to 
the warrior principle. The meaning of two representations, which in this context have 
a particular importance, will now become clear. First, in some classical figurations 
the "hero-like" soul that was transfigured or made was presented as a knight or 
accompanied by a horse. The second figuration is the so-called Kalki-avatara: ac- 
cording to the Indo-Aryan tradition, the force that will put an end to the "dark era'  
(Kali Yuga) will be embodied in the form of a white horse; it will destroy the evil 
people and particularly the mlecchas, who are warriors demoted in rank and disjoined 
from the sacred. The coming of the Kalki-avatara to punish these people inaugu- 
rates the restoration of primordial spirituality. In another occasion, it would be inter- 
esting to follow the threads of these symbolical motifs from the Roman world all the 
way to the Middle Ages. 

On a more relative and historical plane, European aristocratic chivalry enjoyed 
a formal institution through the rite of ordination as it was defined around the twelfth 
century. Following two seven-year periods in the service of a prince (from ages 
seven to fourteen, and then from fourteen to twenty-one), in which the youth was 
supposed to prove his loyalty, faithfulness, and bravery, the rite of ordination took 
place at a date that coincided with Easter or Pentecost, thus suggesting the idea of 
a resurrection or of a "descent of the Spirit". First came a period of fasting and 
penance, followed by a symbolic purification through a bath, so that, according to 
Redi, "these knights may lead a new life and follow new habits." Secondly (at times, 
this came first) came the "wake in arms": the person to be initiated spent the night in 
the church and prayed standing up or on his knees (sitting was strictly prohibited), so 
that God may help him achieve what was lacking in his preparation. Following the 
example of the neophytes of the ancient Mysteries, after the ritual bathing, the knight 
took on a white robe as a symbol of his renewed and purified nature; sometimes he 
even wore a black vest, reminding him of the dissolution of mortal nature, and a red 
garment, which alluded to the deeds he was supposed to undertake at the cost of 
shedding his blood. Third came the priestly consecration of the arms that were laid 
on the altar and that concluded the rite by inducing a special spiritual influence that 
was supposed to sustain the "new life" of the warrior, who was now elevated to 
knightly dignity and turned into a member of the universal order represented by 
knighthood. In the Middle Ages we witness a blossoming of treatises in which every 
weapon of the knight was portrayed as a symbol of spiritual or ethical virtues; 
symbols that were almost intended to remind him of these virtues in a visible way 
and to connect any chivalrous deed with an inner action. 

It would be easy to indicate the counterpart of this in the mysticism of weapons 
found in other traditional civilizations. I will limit myself to the example of the Japa- 
nese warrior aristocracy, which considered the sword (katana) is a sacred object. In 
Japan, the making of a sword followed precise, unbreakable rules; when a black- 
smith fabricated a sword, he had to wear ceremonial robes and to purify the forge. 
The technique for ensuring the sharpness of a blade was kept absolutely secret, and 
it was transmitted only from master to disciple. The blade of a sword was the symbol 
of the soul of the samurai Ui and the use of such a weapon was subject to precise rules; 
likewise, to train in its use and in the use of other weapons (such as the bow), be- 
cause of their relation with Zen, could plunge a person into an initiatory dimension. 

In the list of knightly virtues given by Redi, first came wisdom followed by 
faithfulness, liberality, and strength. According to a legend, Roland was an expert in 
theological science; he was portrayed engaging in a theological discussion with his 
enemy Ferragus, before combat. Godfrey of Buillon was called by some of his con- 
temporaries lux monarchorum; Hugh of Tabaria, in his Ordene de Chevalrie por- 
trayed the knight as an ''armed priest," who by virtue of his two dignities (military 
and priestly), has the right to enter a church and to keep the order in it with his sacred 
sword. 17 In thelndo-Aryan tradition we see members of the warrior aristocracy com- 
peting victoriously in wisdom with the brahmana (that is, with the representatives of 
the priestly caste, for example Ajatasatru vs. Gargya Balaki; Pravahana Jaivali vs. 
Aruni; Sanatkumara vs. Narada, etc.); becoming brahmana, or, just like other brah- 
mana, being "those who tend to the sacred flame." This confirms the inner character 
of chivalry and, in a wider sense, of the warrior caste in the world of Tradition. 

With the decline of chivalry, the European nobility also eventually lost the spiri- 
tual element as a reference point for its highest ''faithfulness," and thus became part 
of merely political organisms as in the case of the aristocracies of the national states 
that emerged after the collapse of the civilization of the Middle Ages. The principles 
of honor and of faithfulness continued to exist even when the noble was nothing but 
a "king's officer"; but faithfulness is blind when it does not refer, even in a mediated 
way, to something beyond the human dimension. Thus the qualities that were pre- 
served in the European nobility through heredity eventually underwent a fatal de- 
generation when they were no longer renewed in their original spirit; the decline of 
the regal spirituality was unavoidably followed by the decline of nobility itself, and 
by the advent of the forces found in a lower order. 

I have mentioned thai chivalry, both in its spirit and in its ethics, is an organic 
part of the empire and not of the Church. It is true that the knight almost always 
included in his vows the defense of the faith. This should be taken as the generic sign 
of a militant commitment to something superindividual, rather than a conscious pro- 
fession of faith in a specific and theological sense. Just by scraping a little bit off the 
surface, it becomes evident that the strongest "trunks" of the sprouting of knighthood 
derived their "sap" from orders and movements that had the odor of heresy to the 
Church, to the point of being persecuted by her. Even from a traditional point of 
view, the doctrines of the Albigenses cannot be considered to be perfectly orthodox; 
however, we cannot fail to notice, especially in reference to Frederick II and to the 
Aragonenses, a certain connection between the Albigenses and a current of chivalry 
that defended the imperial ideal against the Roman Curia, and which during the 
Crusades ventured all the way to Jerusalem (not without a reason), which it con- 
ceived almost as the center of a higher spirituality than that which was incarnated in 
papal Rome. 

The most characteristic case is that of the Knights Templar, ascetic warriors 
who gave up the pleasures of the world in order to pursue a discipline not practiced in 
the monasteries but on the battlefields, and who were animated by a faith conse- 
crated more by blood and victory than by prayer. The Templars had their own secret 
initiation, the details of which, though they were portrayed by their accusers with 
blasphemous tinges, are very significant. Among other things, in a preliminary part 
of the ritual the candidates to the highest degree of Templar initiation were supposed 
to reject the symbol of the cross and to acknowledge that Christ's doctrine did not 
lead to salvation. The Templars were also accused of engaging in secret dealings 
with the "infidels" and of celebrating wicked rites. These were just symbols, as it 
was declared repeatedly, though in vain, at the Templars' trial. In all probability, this 
was not a case of sacrilegious impiety but of acknowledgment of the inferior charac- 
ter of the exoteric tradition represented by devotional Christianity, an acknowledg- 
ment that was required in order for one to be elevated to higher forms of spirituality. 
Generally speaking, as somebody has correctly remarked, the very name 'Templars" 
bespeaks transcendence. "Temple" is a more august, comprehensive, and inclusive 
term than "church." The temple dominates the church. Churches fall in ruins, but the 
temple stands as a symbol of the kinship of religions and of the perennial spirit in- 
forming them.

The Grail was another characteristic reference point of chivalry. The saga of 
the Grail closely reflects the hidden ambition of the Ghibelline knights; this saga too 
has hidden motifs that cannot be ascribed to the Church or to Christianity alone. Not 
only does the official Catholic tradition not acknowledge the Grail, but the essential 
elements of the saga are related to pre-Christian and even Nordic-Hyperborean 
traditions. In this context I can only remind the reader that in the most important 
versions of the legend, the Grail is portrayed as a stone (stone of light and "lucifenan 
stone") rather than as a mystical chalice; that the adventures related to the Grail, 
almost without exception, have a more heroic and initiatory rather than a Christian 
and eucharistic character; that Wolfram von Eschenbach refers to the Knights of the 
Grail as "Templeise"; and finally that the Templar insignia (a red cross on a white 
background) is found on the garment of some of the Grail knights and on the sail of 
the ship on which Perlesvaux (Parsifal) leaves, never to return. It is worth noting that 
even in the most Christianized versions of the saga one still finds extra-ecclesial 
references. It is said that the Grail as a bright chalice (the presence of which pro- 
duces a magical animation, a foreboding, and an anticipation of a nonhuman life), 
following the Last Supper and Jesus' death, was taken by angels into heaven from 
where it is not supposed to return until the emergence on earth of a stock of heroes 
capable of safeguarding it. The leader of this stock instituted an order of "perfect" or 
"heavenly knights," dedicated to this purpose. The "myth" and the highest ideal of 
medieval chivalry was to reach the Grail in its new earthly abode and to belong to 
such an order, which was often identified with King Arthur's knights of the Round 
Table. Considering that the Catholic Church has descended directly and without any 
interruptions from primitive Christianity, and considering the fact that the Christian- 
ized Grail disappeared until that time a knightly rather than priestly order was to be 
instituted — this obviously testifies to the emergence of a different tradition than the 
Catholic and apostolic one. There is more: in almost all the texts dealing with the 
Grail, the symbol of the "temple" (still a very priestly one) is abandoned in favor of 
the symbol of the court or of a regal castle, as the mysterious, inaccessible, and well- 
protected place in which the Grail is kept. The central theme of the "mystery" of the 
Grail, besides the test of mending a broken sword, consists in a regal restoration; 
there is the expectation of a knight who will restore the prestige of a decadent realm 
and who will avenge or heal a king who is either wounded, paralyzed, or in a catatonic 
state. Crisscrossing references connect these themes both to the imperial myth and to 
the very idea of a supreme, invisible, and "polar" center of the world. It is obvious 
that in this cycle, which was important to the medieval chivalrous world, a particular 
tradition was at work. This tradition had little to do with that of the dominant religion, 
and although it occasionally adopted some elements from Christianity, maybe it did 
so the better to express, or conversely, to hide itself. The Grail is truly a myth of the 
"regal religion" that confirms what has been said about the secret soul of chivalry.

When looking at the outer domain relative to a general view of life and of ethics, 
 the overall scope of the formative and correcting action mat Christianity under- 
went because of the world of chivalry must be acknowledged. Christianity could not 
reconcile itself with the ethos of chivalry and espouse the idea of a "holy war" other 
than by betraying the principles of that dualistic and escapist spirituality that charac- 
terized it over and against the traditional and classical world. Christianity had to 
forget Augustine's words: "Those who can think of war and endure it without expe- 
riencing great sufferings have truly lost their sense of humanity"; the more radical 
expressions of Tertullian and his warning: "The Lord, by ordering Peter to put the 
sword back into the scabbard, has thereby disarmed soldiers"; the martyrdom of 
saints Maximilian and Theogon, who preferred to die rather than to serve in the 
army; and Saint Martin's words prior to battle: "I am a soldier of Christ; I am not 
allowed to draw the sword." Christianity also had to bestow on the chivalrous prin- 
ciple of honor a very different understanding than what the Christian principle of 
love could allow for; moreover, it had to conform to a type of morality that was more 
heroic and pagan than evangelical. It also had to "close an eye" to expressions such 
as John of Salisbury's: "The military profession, both worthy and necessary, has 
been instituted by God himself"; and it even had to come to see war as a possible 
asceticaj and immortalizing path. 

Moreover, it was thanks to this very deviation of the Church from the main 
themes of primitive Christianity that during the Middle Ages Europe came to know 
the last image of a world that in many aspects was of a traditional type. 

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

The Doctrine of the Castes 



The caste system is one of the main expressions of the traditional sociopolitical 
order, a "form" victorious over chaos and the embodiment of the metaphysical 
ideas of stability and justice. The division of individuals into castes or into equivalent 
groups according to their nature and to the different rank of activities they exercise 
with regard to pure spirituality is found with the same traits in all higher forms of 
traditional civilizations, and it constitutes the essence of the primordial legislation 
and of the social order according to "justice." Conformity to one's caste was consid- 
ered by traditional humanity as the first and main duty of an individual. 

The most complete type of caste hierarchy, the ancient Indo-Aryan system, was 
visibly inspired by the hierarchy of the various functions found in a physical organ- 
ism animated by the spirit. At the lower level of such an organism there are the 
undifferentiated and impersonal energies of matter and of mere vitality; the regulating 
action of the functions of the metabolism and of the organism is exercised upon 
these forces. These functions, in turn, are regulated by the will, which moves and 
directs the body as an organic whole in space and time. Finally, we assume the soul 
to be the center, the sovereign power and the "light" of the entire organism. The 
same is true for the castes; the activities of the slaves or workers (sudras) were 
subordinated to the activities of the bourgeoisie (vaisya); higher up in the hierarchy 
we find the warrior nobility (ksatriya); and finally the representatives of the spiritual 
authority and power (the brahmana, in the original sense of the word, and the leaders 
as pontifices). These groups were arranged in a hierarchy that corresponded to the 
hierarchy of the functions within a living organism. 

Such was the Indo-Aryan sociopolitical system, which closely resembled the 
Persian system; the latter was articulated into the four pishtra of the Lords of fire 
(athreva), of the warriors (rathestha), of the heads of the family (vastriya-fshuyant), 
and of the serfs assigned to manual labor (huti). An analogous pattern was found in 
other civilizations up to the European Middle Ages, which followed the division of 
people into servants, burghers, nobility and clergy. In the Platonic worldview, the 
castes corresponded to different powers of the soul and to particular virtues: the 
rulers (ΑΡΧΟΝΤΕΣ), the warriors ((ΦΥΛΑΚΕΣ or ΕΠΙΚΟΥΡΟΙ) and the workers (ΔΗΜΙΟΥΡΓΟΙ) 
corresponded respectively to the spirit (ΝΟΥΣ) and to the head, to the animus 
(ΘΥΜΟΕΙΔΕΣ) and to the chest, and to the faculty of desire (ΕΠΙΘΥΜΗΤΙΚΟΝ) and to the 
lower organs of the body regulating sex and the functions of excretion. In this way, 
as stated by Plato, the external order and hierarchy correspond to an inner order and 
hierarchy according to "justice." The idea of organic correspondence is also found 
in the well-known Vedic simile of the generation of the various castes from the 
distinct parts of the "primordial man" or purusa.  

The castes, more than defining social groups, defined functions and typical ways 
of being and acting. The correspondence of the fundamental natural possibilities of 
the single individual to any of these functions determined his or her belonging to the 
corresponding caste. Thus, in the duties toward one's caste (each caste was tradi- 
tionally required to perform specific duties), the individual was able to recognize the 
normal explication as well as the development and the chrism of his or her own 
nature 3 within the overall order imposed "from above" This is why the caste system 
developed and was applied in the traditional world as a natural, agreeable institution 
based on something that everybody regarded as obvious, rather than on violence, 
oppression, or on what in modern terms is referred to as "social injustice." By ac- 
knowledging his own nature, traditional man knew his own place, function, and 
what would be the correct relationship with both superiors and inferiors; hence, if a 
vnisya did not acknowledge the authority of a ksatriya, or if a ksatriya did not uphold 
his superiority in regards to a vaisyα or a sudra, this was not so much considered a 
fault but as the result of ignorance. A hierarchy was not a device of the human will 
but a law of nature and as impersonal a physical law as that according to which a 
lighter fluid floats on top of a denser fluid, unless an upsetting factor intervenes. 
There was a firmly upheld principle according to which "Those who want to insti- 
tute a process at variance with human nature cannot make it function as an ethical 
system."  

What upsets modem sensitivity the most about the caste system is the law of 
heredity and preclusion. It seems "unfair" that fate may seal at birth one's social 
status and predetermine the type of activity to which a man will consecrate the rest 
of his life and which he will not be able to abandon, not even in order to pursue an 
inferior one, lest he become an "outcast," a pariah shunned by everybody. 

When seen against the background of the traditional view of life, however, these 
difficulties are overcome. The closed caste system was based on two fundamental 
principles: the first principle consisted of the fact that traditional man considered 
everything visible and worldly as the mere effects of causes of a higher order. Thus, 
for example, to be born according to this or that condition, as a man or a woman, in 
one caste rather than in another, in one race instead of another, and to be endowed 
with specific talents and dispositions, was not regarded as pure chance. AH of these 
circumstances were explained by traditional man as corresponding to the nature of 
the principle embodied in an empirical self, whether willed or already present tran- 
scendentally in the act of undertaking human birth. Such is one of the aspects of the 
Hindu doctrine of karma; although this doctrine does not correspond to what is com- 
monly meant by "reincarnation," it still implies the generic idea of the preexistence 
of causes and the principle that "human beings are heirs of karma." Similar doctrines 
were not typical of the East alone. According to a Hellenistic teaching, not only u the 
soul's quality exists before any bodily life; it has exactly what it chose to have," but 
"the body has been organized and determined by the image of the soul which is in 
it. ,,fi Also, according to some Persian-Aryan views that eventually found their way to 
Greece and then to ancient Rome, the doctrine of sacred regality was connected to 
the view that souls are attracted by certain affinities to a given planet corresponding 
to the predominant qualities and to the rank of human birth; the king was considered 
domus natus precisely because he was believed to have followed the path of solar 
influences. Those who love "philosophical" explanations should remember that 
Kant's and Schopenhauer's theory concerning the "intelligible character" (the 
"noumenal" character that precedes the phenomenal world) relates to a similar or- 
der of ideas. 

And so, given these premises and excluding the idea that birth is a casual event, 
the doctrine of the castes appears under a very different light. It can be said therefore 
that birth does not determine nature, but that nature determines birth; more specifi- 
cally, a person is endowed with a certain spirit by virtue of being born in a given 
caste, but at the same time, one is born in a specific caste because one possesses, 
transcendentally, a given spirit. Hence, the differences between the castes, far from 
being artificial, unfair, and arbitrary, were just the reflection and the confirmation of 
a preexisting, deeper, and more intimate inequality; they represented a higher appli- 
cation of the principle suum cuique. 

In the context of a living tradition, the castes represented the natural "place" of 
the earthly convergence of analogous wills and vocations; also, the regular and closed 
hereditary transmission forged a homogeneous group sharing favorable organic, vi- 
talistic, and even psychic proclivities in view of the regular development on the part 
of single individuals of the aforesaid prenatal determinations or dispositions on the 
plane of human existence. The individual did not "receive" from the caste his own 
nature; rather, the caste afforded him the opportunity to recognize or remember his 
own nature and prenatal will, while at the same Lime presenting him with a kind of 
occult heritage related to the blood so that he would be able to realize the latter in a 
harmonious way. The characteristics, the functions, and the duties of the caste con- 
stituted the traces for the regular development of one's possibilities in the context of 
an organic social system. In the higher castes, initiation completed this process by 
awakening and inducing in the single individual certain influences that were already 
oriented in a supernatural direction. The ius of the single individual, namely, those 
prerogatives and distinct rights inherent to each of these traditional articulations, not 
only allowed this transcendental will to be in harmony with a congenial human he- 
redity, but also allowed everybody to find in the social organism a condition that 
really corresponded to their own nature and to their deepest attitudes; such a condi- 
tion was protected against any confusion and prevarication. 

When the sense of personality is not focused on the ephemeral principle of hu- 
man individuality, which is destined to leave behind nothing but a "shadow"at death, 
all this seems very natural and evident. It is true that much can be "achieved" in a 
lifetime, but "achievements" mean absolutely nothing from a higher point of view 
(from a point of view that knows that the progressive decay of the organism will 
eventually push one into nothingness) when they do not actualize the preexisting 
will that is the reason for a specific birth; such a prenatal will cannot be easily altered 
by a temporary and arbitrary decision taken at a given point of one's earthly journey. 
Once this is understood, the necessity of the castes will become clear. The only 
"self" modem man knows and is willing to acknowledge is the empirical self that 
begins at birth and is more or less extinguished at death. Everything is reduced by 
him to the mere human individual since in him all prior recollections have disap- 
peared. Thus we witness the disappearance of both the possibility of establishing 
contact with those forces of which a given birth is just the effect, and the possibility 
of rejoining that nonhuman element in man, which being situated before birth, is also 
beyond death; this element constitutes the "place" for everything that may eventu- 
ally be realized beyond death itself and is the principle of an incomparable sense of 
security. Once the rhythm has been broken, die contacts lost, and the great distances 
precluded to the human eye, all the paths seem open and every field is saturated 
with disorderly, inorganic activities that lack a deep foundation and meaning and are 
dominated by temporal and particularistic motivations and by passions, cheap inter- 
ests, and vanity. In this context, "culture" is no longer the context in which it is pos- 
sible to actualize one's being through serious commitment and faithfulness; it is rather 
the locus for "self-actualization. " And since the shifting sands of that nothingness 
without a name and tradition that is the empirical human subject have become the 
foundation of that self-actualization, the claim to equality and the right to be, as a 
matter of principle, anything one chooses to be is therefore carried forward and strenu- 
ously advocated in modern society. No other difference is acknowledged to be more 
right and truer than that which is "achieved" through one's efforts and "merit" ac- 
cording to the terms of various vain, intellectual, moral, or social beliefs typical of 
these recent times. In the same way, it is only natural that the only things left are the 
limits of the most coarse physical heredity, which have become the signs of incom- 
prehensible meanings and which are endured or enjoyed according to each case, as 
a caprice of fate. It is also natural that personality and blood traits, social vocation 
and function are all elements that have become increasingly discordant to the point 
of generating states of real, tragic, inner and outer conflict; from a legal and ethical 
perspective, they have also led to a qualitative destruction, to a relative leveling, to 
equal rights and duties, and to an equal social morality that pretends to be imposed 
on everyone and to be valid for all people in the same way, with total disregard for 
single natures and for different inner dignities. The "overcoming" of the castes and 
of the traditional sociopolitical orders has no other meaning. The individual has 
achieved all his "freedom"; his "chain" is not short, and his intoxication and his 
illusions as a restless puppet have no limits. 

The freedom enjoyed by the man of Tradition was something very different. It 
did not consist in discarding but in being able to rejoin the deeper vein of his will, 
which was related to the mystery of his own existential "form." In reality, that which 
corresponds to birth and to the physical element of a being reflects what can be 
called, in a mathematical sense, the resultant [the vectorial sum] of the various forces 
or tendencies at work in his birth; in other words, it reflects the direction of the stron- 
ger force. In this force there may be inclinations of minor intensity that have been 
swept away and that correspond to talents and tendencies that on the plane of indi- 
vidual consciousness are distinct from both their own organic preformation and the 
duties and environment of one's caste. These instances of inner contradiction within 
a traditional political order regulated by the caste system must be considered an 
exception to the rule; they become predominant, though, in a society that no longer 
knows the castes and, in general, in distinct social organisms in which there is no law 
to gather, preserve, and shape talents and qualifications in view of specific func- 
tions. Here we encounter a chaos of existential and psychic possibilities that con- 
demns most people to a state of disharmony and social tension; we can see plenty of 
that nowadays. Undoubtedly, there may have been a margin of indetermination even 
in the case of traditional man, but this margin in him only served to emphasize the 
positive aspect of these two sayings: "Know yourself" (complemented by the saying 
"nothing superfluous"), and "Be yourself," which implied an action of inner transfor- 
mation and organization leading to the elimination of this margin of indetermination 
and to the integration of the self. To discover the "dominating" trait of one's form 
and caste and to will it, by transforming it into an ethical imperative 9 and, moreover, 
to actualize it "ritually" through faithfulness in order to destroy everything that ties 
one to the earth (instincts, hedonistic motivations, material considerations, and so 
on) — such is the complement of the abovementioned view that leads to the second 
foundation of the caste system in its closeness and stability. 

On the other hand, we must keep in mind that aspect of the traditional spirit 
according to which there was no object or function that in itself could be considered 
as superior or inferior to another. The true difference was rather given by the way in 
which the object or the function was lived out. The earthly way, inspired by utilitari- 
anism or by greed (sakama-karma), was contrasted with the heavenly way of the 
one who acts without concern for the consequences and for the sake of the action 
itself (niskama-karma), and who transforms every action into a rite and into an "of- 
fering." Such was the path of bhakti, a term that in this context corresponds more to 
the virile sense of medieval Fides than to the pietistic sense that has prevailed in the 
theistic idea of "devotion." An action performed according to this type of bhakti was 
compared to a fire that generates light and in which the matter of the act itself is 
consumed and purified. The degree to which the act was freed from matter, de- 
tached from greed and passion, and made self-sufficient (a "pure act," to employ 
analogically an Aristotelian expression) defined the hierarchy of activities and con- 
sequently the hierarchy of the castes or other bodies that corresponded to them as 
"functional classes." 

Given these premises, which were not theoretical but experiential and thus at 
times not even openly expressed, the aspiration to go from one kind of activity to 
another (and therefore from one caste to another), which from a superficial and utili- 
tarian perspective may be considered by some as a worthier and more advantageous 
step, was hardly considered in the traditional world, so much so that the heredity of 
functions was spontaneously established even where there were no castes, but only 
social groups. Every type of function and activity appeared equally as a point of 
departure for an elevation in a different and vertical rather than horizontal sense; 
and not in the temporal, but in the spiritual order. In this regard, by being in their own 
caste, in faithfulness to their own caste and to their own nature, in obedience not to a 
general morality but to their morality, or to the morality of their own caste, everyone 
enjoyed the same dignity and the same purity as everybody else; this was true for a 
sudra as well as for a king. Everybody performed their function within the overall 
social order, and through their own peculiar bhakti even partook of the supernatural 
principle of this same order. Thus it was said: "A man attains perfection when his 
work is worship of God, from whom all things come and who is in all." The god 
Krsna declared: "In any way that men love me in the same way they find my love: 
for many are the paths of men, but they all in the end come to me."  And also: "In 
liberty from the bonds of attachment, do thou therefore the work to be done: for the 
man whose work is pure attains indeed the Supreme." The notion of dharma, or 
one's peculiar nature to which one is supposed to be faithful, comes from the root 
dr ("to sustain," "to uphold") and it expresses the element of order, form, or cosmos 
that Tradition embodies and implements over and against chaos and becoming. 
Through dharma the traditional world, just like every living thing and every being, is 
upheld; the dams holding back the sea of pure contingency and temporality stand 
firm; living beings partake of stability. It is therefore clear why leaving one's caste 
and mixing castes or even the rights, the duties, the morality, and the cults of each 
caste was considered a sacrilege that destroys the efficacy of every rite and leads 
those who are guilty of it to "hell," that is, to the realm of demonic influences that 
belong to the inferior nature. The people guilty of crossing the "caste line" were 
considered the only "impure" beings in the entire hierarchy; they were pariahs, or 
"untouchables" because they represented centers of psychic infection in the sense of 
an inner dissolution. In India only the people "without a caste" were considered 
outcasts, and they were shunned even by the lowest caste, even if they had previ- 
ously belonged to the highest caste; on the contrary, nobody felt humiliated by his 
own caste and even a sudra was as proud of and as committed to his own caste as a 
brahmana of the highest station was to his. Generally speaking, the idea of contami- 
nation did not concern only the individual of a higher caste who mixed with a mem- 
ber of a lower caste; even the latter felt contaminated by such mixture. When gold 
and lead are mixed together, they are both altered; they both lose their own nature. 
Therefore it was necessary for everybody to be themselves. Thus, mixing subverted 
the traditional order and opened the door to infernal forces by removing what Goethe 
called the "creative limitation." The goal was the transfiguration of the "form," which 
was obtained through bhakti and niskama-karma, namely, through action as rite and 
as oblation; the alteration, the destruction of the "form," no matter the way it was 
carried out, was considered as a degrading form of escapism. The outcast was just 
the vanquished— in the Aryan East he was called a fallen one, patitas. 

This was the second principle on which the caste system was founded; it was a 
thoroughly spiritual foundation, since India, which implemented this system in one 
of its strictest versions (even to the point of becoming sclerotic), never had a central- 
ized organization that could impose it by means of a political or economic despotism. 
Moreover, it is possible to find expressions of this second foundation even in the 
Western forms of Tradition. It was a classical idea, for instance, that perfection can- 
not be measured with a material criterion, but that it rather consists in realizing ones 
nature in a thorough way. The ancients also believed that materiality only represents 
the inability to actualize one's form, since matter (ΥΛΗ) was depicted in Plato and 
Aristotle's writings as the foundation of undifferentiation and of an evasive instabil- 
ity that causes a thing or being to be incomplete in itself and not to correspond to its 
norm and "idea," (that is, to its dharma). In the Roman deification of the "limit" 
(termen or terminus) implemented through the elevation of the god Terminus to the 
highest dignity (he was even associated with the Olympian god Jupiter) as a prin- 
ciple of order and also as the patron saint of the "limits''; in the tradition (susceptible 
of being interpreted in terms of higher meanings) according to which he who knocked 
down or removed a single one of the territorial boundary stones was an accursed 
being to be killed on sight by anybody; and in the Roman oracle that announced that 
the era of the destruction of the limits erected against human greed will also be the 
saeculum of the "end of the world" 16 — in all these elements we find the esoteric 
reverberation of the same spirit. Plotinus wrote: "Each several thing must be a sepa- 
rate thing; there must be acts and thoughts that are our own; the good and evil done 
by each human being must be his own." The idea that to comply perfectly with 
one's own specific function leads to an identical participation in the spirituality of the 
whole, conceived as a living organism, can be traced back to the best Greco-Roman 
traditions; later on it eventually became part of the organic vision of the Germanic- 
Roman civilization of the Middle Ages. 

The presuppositions for the sense of joy and pride in one's own profession (such 
that any job, no matter how humble it was, could be performed as an "art"), which 
have been preserved in some European peoples until recent times as an echo of the 
traditional spirit, are not any different, after all. The ancient German peasant, for 
instance, experienced his cultivating the land as a title of nobility, even though he 
was not able to see in this work, unlike his Persian counterpart, a symbol and an 
episode of the struggle between the god of light and the god of darkness. The mem- 
bers of the medieval corporations and guilds were as proud of their professional 
tradition as the nobility was proud of its bloodline. And when Luther, following Saint 
Thomas, taught that to go from one profession to another in order to enhance one's 
position in the social hierarchy ran contrary to God's law because God assigns to 
each and every one his or her own state, and therefore people must obey Him by 
remaining where they are and that the only way to serve God consists in doing one's 
best at one's job, the tradition was faithfully preserved in these ideas, and the best 
spirit of the Middle Ages was reflected, although with the limitations inherent in a 
theistic and devotional schema. 

Prior to the advent of the civilization of the Third Estate (mercantilism, capital- 
ism), the social ethics that was religiously sanctioned in the West consisted in realizing 
one's being and in achieving one's own perfection within the fixed parameters 
that one's individual nature and the group to which one belonged clearly defined. 
Economic activity, work, and profit were justified only in the measure in which they 
were necessary for sustenance and to ensure the dignity of an existence conformed 
to one's own estate, without the lower instinct of self-interest or profit coming first. 
Hence, we encounter a character of active impersonality in this domain as well. 

It has been noted that in the caste hierarchy, relationships like those occurring 
between potentiality and act were reenacted. In the superior caste, the same activity 
that in the inferior caste presented itself in a more conditioned form was manifested 
in a more pure, complete, and freer manner as an idea. This allows us to take issue 
with the modern demagogical ideas concerning an alleged "flocklike mindedness" 
of individuals who lived in traditional societies, and concerning the alleged lack of 
that sense of dignity and freedom of every individual that only modern, "evolved" 
mankind is supposed to have achieved. In fact, even when the hierarchical position 
of the individual did not proceed from the spontaneous acknowledgment of one's 
own nature and one's faithfulness to it, the subordination of the inferior to the supe- 
rior, far from being an indolent acquiescence, was almost the symbolical and ritual 
expression of a faithfulness and a devotion to one's particular ideal and to a higher 
form of being that the inferior could not directly and organically live out as his own 
nature (svadharma), but which he could still consider as the center of his own actions 
precisely through his devotion and active subordination to a higher caste. More- 
over, although in the East to leave one's caste was only allowed in exceptional cases 
and a fugitive was far from being considered a free man, it was still possible to 
create certain causes through the way one conducted oneself in thought, word, and 
deed. These causes, by virtue of the analogy with the principle or with the hierarchy 
to which one was subjected, could produce a new way of being that corresponded to 
that principle or to that hierarchy. Besides the bhakti or fides that is aimed directly 
at the Supreme Principle, that is, at the Unconditioned, the bhakti that was centered 
on some other high principle was thought to have the real and objective power to 
resolve the elements of the one who had nourished it (following the fulfillment of his 
own dharma) into this same principle, and thus to make that person ascend, not 
exteriorly and artificially (as is the case in the disorder and careerism of modern 
society), but from within, in a profound and organic way, from a lower to a higher 
degree of the spiritual hierarchy as a reflection of the passage of the transcendental 
principle of being from one possibility to another. 

Regarding that kind of social order that had its center in a sovereign and lasted 
up to the time of the Holy Roman Empire, there survives the principle (upheld by 
Celsus against the dualism of early Christianity) according to which the subjects may 
demonstrate their faithfulness to God through faithfulness to their ruler. The view of 
the subject as a being connected to the person of his sovereign through a sacred and 
freely chosen vow is an ancient Indo-European view. In the traditional world, this 
fides ov persona] devotion went beyond political and individual boundaries, and even 
acquired the value of a path leading to liberation. Cumont, in reference to Iran, 
observed that 

The subjects dedicated to their deified kings not only their actions and 
words, but their very thoughts. Their duly was a complete abandon- 
ment of their personality in favor of those monarchs who were held the 
equal of gods. The sacred militia of the mysteries was nothing but this 
civic morality viewed from the religious standpoint. It confounded loyalty
 with piety. 

This loyalty, in the brightest and most luminous forms of Tradition, was credited with 
the power of producing the same fruits faith is supposed to produce. Not too many 
years ago, the Japanese general Nogi, who had prevailed at Port Arthur against his 
Russian foes, killed himself with his wife after the death of his emperor in order to 
follow him in the afterlife. 

Ail of this is self-evident since I have said that faithfulness is the second corner- 
stone of every traditional organization, in addition to the rite and an elite that embodies 
transcendence. This is the force that, as a magnet, establishes contacts, creates a 
psychic atmosphere, stabilizes the social structure, and determines a system of coor- 
dination and gravitation between the individual elements and the center. When this 
fluid, which is rooted in freedom and in the spiritual spontaneity of the personality, 
fails, the traditional organism loses its elementary power of cohesion, paths become 
precluded, subtler senses atrophied, the parts dissociated and atomized. The conse- 
quence of this degeneration is the immediate withdrawal of the forces from above, 
which thus abandon men to themselves, leaving them free to go where they wish 
according to the destiny that their actions create and that no superior influence will 
ever be able to modify again. This is the mystery inherent in decadence. 


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


Professional Associations 
and the Arts; Slavery 



When viewed as a relationship between potentiality and act, hierarchy allowed 
the same motif established at the top to be reproduced in the activities of the 
different castes or social organisms; though on the plane of different (more or less 
spiritual) paths of fulfillment, each one retained in its own way the same upward 
orientation. This is why in the more complete traditional forms, the ''sacred" was a 
light that shone not only on what today are the profane sciences, arts, and profes- 
sions, but on trades and various material activities as well. By virtue of the analogi- 
cal correspondences existing between the various planes, the sciences, activities, 
and skills of the lower plane could traditionally be considered as symbols of a higher 
nature and thus help to communicate the meaning hidden in the latter, since it was 
already present in the former, even though in a potential form. 

In the domain of knowledge, the presupposition was of a system of sciences 
fundamentally different in their premises and methodologies from modern ones. Every 
modern, profane science corresponds in the world of Tradition to a "sacred" science 
that had an organic, qualitative character and considered nature as a whole in a 
hierarchy of degrees of reality and forms of experience in which the form connected 
to the physical senses is just one among others. It is precisely in this way that the 
system of transpositions and symbolic and ritual participations was made possible. 
This was the case in cosmology and in related disciplines: for instance, ancient al- 
chemy was not at all a primitive chemistry and ancient astrology was not at all (as it 
is mistakenly assumed today) a superstitious deification of the heavenly bodies and 
of their movements, but a knowledge of the stars so organized as to be able to consti- 
tute a science of purely spiritual and metaphysical realities expressed in a symbolic 
form. The world of Tradition knew in these same terms a physiology, parts of which 
are still preserved in the East (for example, the knowledge of anatomy and physiology 
presupposed by Chinese acupuncture; Japanese ju-jitsu; and some aspects of 
Hindu hatha-yoga). In this physiology, the consideration of the material aspect of the 
human organism represented only a particular chapter, becoming part of the general 
science of the correspondences between macrocosm and microcosm, human world 
and elemental world. Ancient medicine proceeded from these same premises as a 
"sacred science" in which "health" appeared as a symbol of "virtue"; virtue in turn 
was considered a superior form of health and due to the ambiguity of the term soter, 
he who "saves" was on a higher plane of the same type as he who "heals." 

The development of the physical and practical aspect of knowledge in these 
traditional sciences must naturally appear as limited when compared and contrasted 
with modem sciences. The cause of this, however, was a correct and healthy hierar- 
chy in which the interests of traditional man were arranged; in other words, he did 
not give to the knowledge of external and physical reality more importance than it 
deserved or than was necessary. 2 What mattered the most in a traditional science 
was the anagogic element, namely, the power to "lead to higher planes" that was 
virtually present in the knowledge relative to a given domain of reality; this element 
is totally lacking today in modem profane sciences. The latter, in reality, may act 
and have acted exactly in the opposite direction: the worldview from which they 
originate and on which they are based is such as to affect human interiority in a 
dissolving and negative way— in other words, they are centrifugal.

Coming back to our subject matter, analogous considerations to the previous 
ones may be extended to the domain of the arts, understood both as real arts and as 
the activities of professional artisans. Concerning the former, only in periods of deca- 
dence did the world of Tradition come to know the emancipation of the purely "aes- 
thetic," subjective, and human element that characterizes modern arts. In the figura- 
tive arts, even prehistoric findings (such as the civilization of the Cro-Magnon and of 
the reindeer) show the inseparability of the naturalistic element from a magical and 
symbolical intention; an analogous dimension was present also in later, more devel- 
oped civilizations. The "theater" corresponded to reenactements of the Mysteries, to 
the "sacred dramas" and, in part, to the ludi of classical antiquity, more on which 
later. Ancient poetry had close ties with the art of telling the future and with sacred 
inspiration; poetic verse, in fact, was associated with incantation (see the ancient 
meaning of the word carmen). As far as literature is concerned, the symbolic and 
initiatory element (which proceeded from a conscious intention and also from 
infraconscious influences grafted onto the creative spontaneity of single individuals 
and of various groups) throughout the Middle Ages often influenced not only the 
myth, saga, and traditional fairy tale, but the epic stories and chivalrous and erotic 
literature as well. The same applies to music, dance, and rhythm; Lucian reports that 
dancers, who were assimilated to priests, had a knowledge of the "sacred mysteries 
of the Egyptians," as the science of the mudras, the symbolic, magical gestures that 
play an important role in Hindu rituals and ascetical paths affected the dance, the 
mime and pantomime of that civilization. Again, these were various expressions of 
the same one intent: "one temple, sculptured in a forest of temples." 

With specific regard to professional and artisanal activities, a typical example is 
given in the art of construction and building (their moral transpositions in the Gospels 
are well known), which occasioned even higher and initiatory interpretations. In the 
ancient Egyptian tradition, construction was regarded as a regal ait, so much so that 
the king himself performed in a symbolic sense the first acts of the building of the 
temples in the spirit of an "eternal work of art." While on the one hand people today 
are nowadays puzzled when it comes to explaining how achievements that require a 
superior knowledge of mathematics and engineering were possible in antiquity, on 
the other hand what emerges are unquestionable signs of a priestly art in the orienta- 
tion, placement, and other aspects of ancient buildings, especially temples and, later 
on, cathedrals. The symbolism of masonry established analogical connections be- 
tween the "little art" on the one hand and the '"great art" and the "great work" on the 
other within secret associations that in the beginning could claim links with the cor- 
responding medieval professional corporations. This is also partially true in the case 
of the arts of the blacksmiths, weavers, navigators, and farmers. Concerning the 
latter, just as Egypt knew the ritual of regal constructions, likewise the Far East knew 
the ritual of regal plowing 5 and, in a symbolic transposition of the farming art, gener- 
ally speaking, man himself was considered as a field to be cultivated, and the initiate 
as the cultivator of the field in an eminent sense. (The echo of this has been 
preserved in the very origins of the modern term "culture" in its reductive, intellectu- 
alistic, and petit bourgeois meaning.) 

The ancient arts, after all, were traditionally "sacred" to specific deities and 
heroes, always by virtue of analogical reasons, and thus they presented themselves 
as potentially endowed with the possibility of "ritually" transforming physical activi- 
ties into symbolic actions endowed with a transcendent meaning. 

In reality, in the caste system not only did every profession or trade correspond 
to a vocation (hence the double meaning preserved in the English term "calling"); 
not only was there something to be found in every product as a "crystallized tradi- 
tion" that could be activated by a free and personal activity and by an incomparable 
skill; not only were the dispositions developed in the exercise of a trade and ac- 
knowledged by the social organism transmitted through the blood as congenital and 
deep attitudes — but something else was present as well, namely, the transmission, if 
not the real initiation, of at least an "inner tradition" of the art that was preserved as 
a sacred and secret thing (arcanum magisterium), even though it was partly visible in 
the several details and rules, rich with symbolical and religious elements that were 
displayed in the traditional guilds (whether Eastern, Mexican, Roman, medieval, 
and so on). 8 Being introduced to the secrets of an art did not correspond to the mere 
empirical or rational teachings of modern man: in this domain certain cognitions 
were credited with a nonhuman origin, an idea expressed in a symbolic form by the 
traditions concerning the gods, the demons, or the heroes (Balder, Hermes, Vulcan, 
Prometheus) who originally initiated men into these arts. It is significant that Janus, 
who was also the god of initiation, was the god of the Collegia Fabrorum in Rome; in 
relation to this we find the idea that mysterious congregations of blacksmiths who 
came to Europe from the East, also brought with them a new civilization. Moreover, 
itis significant that in the locations where the oldest temples of Hera, Cupra, Aphrodite- 
Venus, Heracles-Hercules, and Aeneas were built, quite often it is possible to find 
archaeological evidence of the working of copper and bronze; and finally, it is sig- 
nificant that the Orphic and Dyonisiac mysteries were associated with the themes of 
the art of weaving and spinning. This order found its most complete fulfillment in 
examples found especially in the East, where the achievement of an effective mas- 
tery in a given art was just a symbol, a reflection, and a sign; in fact, it was the 
counterpart of a fulfillment and a parallel inner realization. 

Even in those areas in which the caste system did not have the rigor and the 
determination exemplified by Aryan India, something resembling it was developed 
in a spontaneous way in relation to inferior activities. I am referring to the ancient 
corporations or artisan guilds that were omnipresent in the traditional world, and that 
in the case of ancient Rome date back to prehistoric times, reproducing on their own 
plane the typical makeup of the patrician gens and family. It is the art and the com- 
mon activity that provide a bond and an order replacing those that in higher castes 
were provided by the aristocratic tradition of blood and ritual. This does not imply 
that the collegium and the corporation lacked a religious character and a virile, 
semimilitary constitution. In Sparta the cult of a "hero" represented the ideal bond 
between the members of a given profession, even in the case of an inferior one. 9 Just 
like every city and gens, in Rome every corporation (originally consisting of free 
men) had its own demon or lar; it had a temple consecrated to it and a correlative, 
common cult of the dead, that determined a unity in life and in death; it had its own 
sacrificial rites performed by the magister on behalf of the community of the sodales 
or collegae, who celebrated certain events or holy days in a solemn, mystical way 
through feasts, agapes, and games. The fact that the anniversary of the collegium or 
corporation (natalis collegi) coincided with the anniversary of its patron deity (natalis 
dei) and of the "inauguration" or consecration of the temple (natalis templi), indi- 
cates that in the eyes of the sodales the sacred element constituted the center from 
which the inner life of the corporation originated. 

The Roman corporation is a good example of the virile and organic aspect that 
often accompanies the sacred dimension in traditional institutions; it was hierarchi- 
cally constituted ad exemplum rei publlcae and animated by a military spirit. The 
body of sodales was called populus or ordo, and just like the army and the people at 
solemn gatherings, it was divided into ceniuriae and decuriae. Every centuria had its 
leader, or centurion, and a lieutenant (optio) Just like in the legions. To differentiate 
them from the masters the other members had the name of plebs and corporate, but 
also caligati or milites caligati like simple soldiers. And the magister, besides being 
the master of the art and the priest of the corporation in charge of his "fire," was the 
administrator of justice and the overseer of the behavior of the members of the group. 
Analogous characteristics were found in the medieval professional communi- 
ties, especially in Germanic countries: together with the community of the art, a re- 
ligious and ethical element bound the members of the Gilden and of the Zunften. In 
these corporate organizations, the members were bonded together "for life" more as 
in a common rite than on the basis of the economic interests and mere productive 
goals; the effects of intimate solidarity, which affected man as a whole and not just 
his particular aspect as an artisan, permeated everyday life in all of its forms. As the 
Roman professional collegia had their own lar or demon, the German guilds, which 
were constituted as small-scale images of cities, also had their own ''patron saint/' 
altar, common funerary cult, symbolic insignia, ritual commemorations, ethical laws, 
and leaders (Vollenossen), who were supposed to regulate the art and guarantee com- 
pliance with the general norms and duties regulating the lives of the members of the 
corporation. The requirement for being admitted to the guilds was a spotless name 
and an honorable birth; people who were not free and those belonging to foreign 
races were not admitted. Typical of these professional associations were the sense 
of honor, purity, and impersonal character of their work, almost according to the Aryan 
canons of bhakti and of niskama-karma: everybody performed their work silently, 
setting their own person aside, while still remaining active and free human beings; 
this was an aspect of the great anonymity typical of the Middle Ages and of every 
great traditional civilization. Something else was shunned, namely, anything that could 
generate illicit competition or a monopoly, thus contaminating the purity of the art 
with mere economic concerns; the honor of one's guild and the pride in the activity 
characterizing it constituted the firm, immaterial bases of these organizations. While 
not formally hereditary, these organizations often became so, thereby demonstrating 
the strength and the naturalness of the principle responsible for generating the castes.
In this way, even in the order of inferior activities connected to matter and to mate- 
rial conditions of life it was possible to find the reflection of the way of being of a 
purified and free action endowed with its own fides and living soul, which freed it 
from the bonds of selfishness and ordinary interests. In the corporations there was a 
natural and organic connection between the caste of the vaisya (in modem terms, 
"management") and the caste of the sudras, namely, the working class. 

Considering the spirit of an almost military solidarity that was both felt and 
willed, and whereby the vaisya was the equivalent of a manager and the sudra an 
employee, both of whom worked in the same company, the Marxist antithesis be- 
tween capital and labor, between employers and employees, at that time would have 
been inconceivable. Everybody attended their own function and stayed in their own 
place. Especially in the German guilds, the faithfulness of the inferior was the coun- 
terpart of the pride the superior took in the subordinates' zeal and efficiency. In this 
context too, the anarchy of "rights"and "demands" did not arise until the inner spiri- 
tual orientation died out and the action performed in purity was supplanted by one 
motivated by materialistic and individualistic concerns, and by the multiform and 
vain fever brought about by the modem spirit and a civilization that has turned eco- 
nomics into a guiding principle (daemon) and a destiny. 

When the inner strength of a fides is no longer present, then every activity is 
defined according to its purely material aspect; also, equally worthy paths are re- 
placed with an effect-driven differentiation dictated by the type of activity being 
performed. Hence, the sense of intermediary forms of social organization, such as 
ancient slavery. As paradoxical as it may first appear in the context of those civiliza- 
tions that largely employed the institution of slavery, it was work that characterized 
the condition of a slave, and not vice versa. In other words: when the activity in the 
lower strata of the social hierarchy was no longer supported by a spiritual meaning, 
and when instead of an "action" there was only "work", then the material criterion 
was destined to take over and those activities related to matter and connected to the 
material needs of life were destined to appear as degrading and as unworthy of any 
free human being. Therefore "work" (ΠΟΝΟΣ) came to be seen as something that only 
a slave would engage in, and it became almost a sentence; likewise, the only dharma 
possible for a slave was work. The ancient world did not despise labor because it 
practiced slavery and because those who worked were slaves; on the contrary, since 
it despised labor, it despised the slave; since those who "worked" could not be 
anything but slaves, the traditional world willed slavery into being and it differenti- 
ated, instituted, and regulated into a separated social class the mass of those people 
whose way of being could only be expressed through work. Labor as ponos, an 
obscure effort strictly dictated by need, was the opposite of action, the former repre- 
senting the material, heavy, dark pole, the latter the free pole of human possibilities 
detached from need. Free men and slaves, after all, represented the social crystalli- 
zation of those two ways of performing an action— either according to matter, or 
ritually— that I have already discussed; we do not need to look elsewhere to find the 
basis for the contempt for work and of the view of hierarchy typical of the constitu- 
tions of an intermediate type. In such a world, speculative action, asceticism, con- 
templation (sometimes even "play" and war) characterized the pole of action vis-a- 
vis the servile pole of work. 

Esoterically speaking, the limitations that slavery put on the possibilities of an 
individual who happened to be born in this condition correspond to the nature of his 
given "destiny," of which slavery should be considered sometimes the natural con- 
sequence. On the plane of mythological transpositions, the Jewish tradition is not too 
far from a similar view when it considers work as a consequence of Adam's fall and, 
at the same time, as an "expiation" of this transcendental fault taking place in human 
existence. On this basis, when Cathtolicism tried to turn work into an instrument of 
purification it partially echoed the general idea of the ritual offering of an action 
conformed to one's nature (in this context: the nature of "fallen man" according to 
the Judeo-Christian view of life) as a path of liberation. 

In antiquity, the vanquished were often assigned the functions of slaves. Was 
this barbarian-style materialism? Yes and no. Once more, we should not forget the 
truth that permeated the traditional world: nothing happens on this earth that is not 
the symbol and the parallel effect of spiritual events, since between spirit and reality 
(hence, power too) allegedly there was an intimate relationship. As a particular con- 
sequence of this truth, it has already been mentioned that winning or losing were 
never considered as mere coincidences. There still remains today among primitive 
populations the ancient belief that the person afflicted by misfortunes is always a 
guilty person; the outcomes of every struggle and every war are always mystical 
signs, or the results of a "divine judgment," and therefore capable of revealing or 
unfolding a human destiny. Starting with this presupposition, it is possible to go fur- 
ther and establish a transcendental convergence of meanings between the tradi- 
tional view of the "vanquished" and the Jewish view of the "sinner," as they both 
inherit a fate befitting the dharma of the slave, namely, work. This convergence is 
inspired by the fact that Adam's "fault" is associated with a defeat he suffered in a 
symbolical event (the attempt to come into possession of the fruit of the "Tree"), 
which may yet have had a victorious outcome. We know of myths in which the 
winning of the fruits of the Tree or of things symbolically equivalent (the "woman," 
the "golden fleece," etc.) is achieved by other heroes (Heracles, Jason, Siegfried) 
and does not lead them to damnation, as in the Judeo-Christian myth, but rather to 
immortality or to a transcendent knowledge. 

If the modem world has disapproved of the "injustice" of the caste system, it has 
stigmatized much more vibrantly those ancient civilizations thast practiced slavery; 
recent times boast of having championed the principle of "human dignity." This too 
is mere rhetoric. Let us set aside the fact that Europeans reintroduced and main- 
tained slavery up to the nineteenth century in their overseas colonies in such heinous 
forms as to be rarely found in the ancient world; what should be emphasized is that if 
there ever was a civilization of slaves on a grand scale, the one in which we are 
living is it. No traditional civilization ever saw such great masses of people con- 
demned to perform shallow, impersonal, automatic jobs; in the contemporary slave 
system the counterparts of figures such as lords or enlightened rulers are nowhere to 
be found. This slavery is imposed subtly through the tyranny of the economic factor 
and through the absurd structures of a more or less collectivized society. And since 
the modern view of life in its materialism has taken away from the single individual 
any possibility of bestowing on his destiny a transfiguring element and seeing in it a 
sign and a symbol, contemporary "slavery" should therefore be reckoned as one of 
the gloomiest and most desperate kinds of all times. It is not a surprise that in the 
masses of modern slaves the obscure forces of world subversion have found an easy, 
obtuse instrument to pursue their goals; while in the places where it has already 
triumphed, the vast Stalinist "work camps" testify to how the physical and moral 
subjection of man to the goals of collectivization and of the uprooting of every value 
of the personality is employed in a methodical and even satanic way. 

In addition to the previous considerations concerning work as art in the world of 
Tradition, I will briefly mention the organic, functional, and consistent quality of the 
objects produced, by virtue of which the Beautiful did not appear as something sepa- 
rated or distinct from a certain privileged category of artistic objects and the mere 
utilitarian and mercantile character of the objects was totally lacking. Every object 
had its own beauty and a qualitative value, as well as its own function as a useful 
object. With regard to art in the traditional world, 

While on the one hand what occurred was (a) the prodigy of the unification 
of the opposites, (b) the utter compliance with a set of established rules in 
which every personal elan appears to be sacrificed and suffocated and (c) 
the authentic arising of spirituality within an authentic, personal creation; 
on the other hand it could be rightly said that: 

Every object did not have the imprint of an individual artistic personal- 
ity, as happens today with the so-called artistic objects; yet while re- 
vealing a "choral" taste, which makes of the object one of many, infi- 
nite expressions, it had the seal of a spiritual genuineness that prevented 
it from being called a "copy." 

Such products bore witness to one stylistic personality whose creative activity 
developed through centuries; even when a name, whether real, fictitious, or sym- 
bolic was known, this was considered irrelevant. Anonymity, not of a subpersonal 
but of a superpersonal character, was therefore upheld; on this soil what was born 
and proliferated in all the domains of life were artisans' creations that were far from 
both a shallow, plebeian sense of utility and an extrinsic, a functional, "artificial" 
beauty; this scission reflects the overall inorganic character of modern civilization. 

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