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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Julius Evola-Revolt Against the Modern World [book] (1)


Revolt Against the Modern World

Rivolta contro il mondo moderno


Julius Evola 



Translated from the Italian 
by Guido Stucco 


To the 

1st Battaglione Carabinieri Paracadutisti "Tuscania" . 

Caesarem Vehis! 

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




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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

11. On the Hierarchical Relationship Between Royalty and Priesthood 68 

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 

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

Introduction 175 

22. The Doctrine of the Four Ages 177 

23. The Golden Age 184 

24. The Pole and the Hyperborean Region 188 

25. The Northern-Atlantic Cycle 195 

26. North and South 203 

27. The Civilization of the Mother 211 

28. The Cycles of Decadence and the Heroic Cycle 218 

29. Tradition and Antitradition 230 

30. The Heroic-Uranian Western Cycle 253 

3 1 . Syncope of the Western Tradition 278 

32. The Revival of the Empire and the Ghibelline Middle Ages 287 

33. Decline of the Medieval World and the Birth of Nations 302 

34. Unrealism and Individualism 312 

35. The Regression of the Castes 327 

36. Nationalism and Collectivism 338 

37. The End of the Cycle 345 

Conclusion 358 

Appendix: On the Dark Age 367 

Index 370 

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


Foreword 



For quite some time now it has become almost commonplace to talk about the 
"decline of the West 1 ' and the crisis of contemporary civilization, its dangers, 
and the havoc it has caused. Also, new prophecies concerning Europe's or the world's 
future are being formulated, and various appeals to "defend" the West are made 
from various quarters. 

In all this concern there is generally very little that goes beyond the amateurish- 
ness of intellectuals. It would be all too easy to show how often these views lack true 
principles, and how what is being rejected is often still unconsciously retained by 
those who wish to react, and how for the most part people do not really know what 
they want, since they obey irrational impulses. This is especially true on the practical 
plane where we find violent and chaotic expressions typical of a "protest 11 that wishes 
to be global, though it is inspired only by the contingent and terminal forms of the 
latest civilization. 

Therefore, even though it would be rash to see in these phenomena of protest 
something positive, they nevertheless have the value of a symptom; these phenom- 
ena clearly illustrate that beliefs that were once taken for granted today no longer 
are, and that the idyllic perspectives of "evolutionism" have come of age. An uncon- 
scious defense mechanism, however, prevents people from going beyond a certain 
limit; this mechanism is similar to the instinct found in sleepwalkers who lack the 
perception of height as they amble about. Some pseudointellectual and irrational 
reactions seem to have no other effect than to distract modem humans and prevent 
them from becoming fully aware of that global and dreadful perspective according 
to which the modem world appears as a lifeless body falling down a slope, which 
nothing can possibly stop. 

There are diseases that incubate for a long time and become manifest only 
when their hidden work has almost ended. This is the case of man's fall from the 
ways of what he once glorified as civilization par excellence. Though modern 
men 1 have come to perceive the West's bleak future only recently, there are causes 
that have been active for centuries that have contributed to spiritual and material 
degeneration. These causes have not only taken away from most people the possi- 
bility of revolt and the return to normalcy and health, but most of all, they have taken 
away the ability to understand what true normalcy and health really mean. 

Thus, no matter how sincere the intention animating those who today attempt to 
revolt and to sound the alarm may be, we should not cherish false hopes concerning 
the outcome. It is not easy to realize how deep we must dig before we hit the only 
root from which the contemporary, negative forms have sprung as natural and neces- 
sary consequences. The same holds true for those forms that even the boldest spirits 
do not cease to presuppose and to employ in their ways of thinking, feeling, and 
acting. Some people "react"; others "protest." How could it be otherwise considering 
the hopeless features of contemporary society, morality, politics, and culture? And 
yet these are only "reactions" and not actions, or positive movements, that originate 
from the inner dimension and testify to the possession of a foundation, a principle, or 
a center. In the West, too many adaptations and "reactions" have taken place. Expe- 
rience has shown that nothing that truly matters can be achieved in this way. What is 
really needed is not to toss back and forth in a bed of agony, but to awaken and get 
up. 

Things have reached such a low point nowadays that I wonder who would be 
capable of assessing the modem world as a whole, rather than just some of its par- 
ticular aspects (such as "technocracy" or the "consumer society"), and of under- 
standing its ultimate meaning. This would be the real starting point. 

In order for this to happen, it is necessary to leave the deceptive and magical 
"circle" and be able to conceive something else, to acquire new eyes and new ears in 
order to perceive things that have become invisible and mute with the passing of 
time. It is only by going back to the meanings and the visions that existed before 
the establishment of the causes of the present civilization that it is possible to 
achieve an absolute reference point — the key for the real understanding of all mod- 
em deviations — and at the same time to find a strong defense and an unbreakable 
line of resistance for those who, despite everything, will still be standing. The only 
thing that matters today is the activity of those who can "ride the wave" and remain 
firm in their principles, unmoved by any concessions and indifferent to the fevers, 
the convulsions, the superstitions, and the prostitutions that characterize modern 
generations. The only thing that matters is the silent endurance of a few, whose 
impassible presence as "stone guests" helps to create new relationships, new dis- 
tances, new values, and helps to construct a pole that, although it will certainly not 
prevent this world inhabited by the distracted and restless from being what it is, will 
still help to transmit to someone the sensation of the truth — a sensation that could 
become for them the principle of a liberating crisis. 

1. I say among "modem men" since the idea of a downfall and a progressive abandonment of a higher type 
of existence, as well as the knowledge of even tougher times in the future for the human races, were well 
known to traditional antiquity. 

Within the limits of my possibilities, this book hopes to be a contribution to such 
a task. Its main thesis is the idea of the decadent nature of the modern world. Its 
purpose is to present evidence supporting this idea through reference to the spirit of 
universal civilization, on the ruins of which everything that is modern has arisen; this 
will serve as the basis of every possibility and as the categorical legitimization of a 
revolt, since only then will it become clear what one is reacting against, but also and 
foremost, in what name. 

By way of introduction I will argue that no idea is as absurd as the idea of 
progress, winch together with its corollary notion of the superiority of modern civili- 
zation, has created its own "positive" alibis by falsifying history, by insinuating harmful 
myths in people's minds, and by proclaiming itself sovereign at the crossroads of the 
plebeian ideology from which it originated. How low has mankind gone if it is ready 
and willing to apotheosize a cadaverous wisdom? For this is how we should regard 
the perspective that refuses to view modern and "new" man as decrepit, defeated, 
and crepuscular man, but which rather glorifies him as the overcomer, the justifies 
and as the only really living being. Our contemporaries must truly have become 
blind if they really thought they could measure everything by their standards and 
consider their own civilization as privileged, as the one to which the history o\^ the 
world was preordained and outside of which there is nothing but barbarism, dark- 
ness, and superstition. 

It must be acknowledged that before the early and violent shakings through 
which the inner disintegration of the Western world has become evident, even in a 
material way, the plurality of civilizations (and therefore the relativity of the modem 
one) no longer appears, as it once used to, as a heterodox and extravagant idea. And 
yet this is not enough. It is also necessary to be able to recognize that modern civili- 
zation is not only liable to disappear without a trace, like many others before it, but 
also that it belongs to a type, the disappearance of which has merely a contingent 
value when compared with the order of the "things-that-are" and of every civiliza- 
tion founded on such an order. Beyond the mere and secular idea of the "relativism 
of civilizations, 1 ' it is necessary to recognize a "dualism of civilizations.' 1 The consid- 
erations that follow will constantly revolve around the opposition between the mod- 
ern and the traditional world, and between modern and traditional man; such an 
opposition is ideal (that is, morphological and metaphysical) and both beyond and 
more than a merely historical opposition. 

As far as the historical aspect is concerned, it is necessary to indicate the width 
of the horizons confronting us. In an antitraditional sense, the first forces of deca- 
dence began to be tangibly manifested between the eighth and the sixth centuries 
b.c, as can be concluded from the sporadic and characteristic alterations in the forms 
of the social and spiritual life of many peoples that occurred during this time. Thus, 
the limit corresponds to so-called historical times, since according to many people, 
whatever occurred before this period no longer constitutes the object of "history." 
History is replaced by legends and myths and thus no hard facts can be established, 
only conjectures. The fact remains, however, that according to traditional teachings, 
the above mentioned period merely inherited the effects of even more remote causes; 
during this period, what was presaged was the critical phase of an even longer cycle 
known in the East as the "Dark Age," in the classical world as the "Iron Age," and in 
the Nordic sagas, as the "Age of the Wolf." 2 In any event, during historical times and 
in the Western world, a second and more visible phase corresponds to the fall of the 
Roman Empire and to the advent of Christianity. A third phase began with the twi- 
light oi' the feudal and imperial world of the European Middle Ages, reaching a 
decisive point with the advent of humanism and of the Reformation. From that pe- 
riod on, the forces that once acted in an isolated and underground fashion have 
emerged and led every European trend in material and spiritual life, as well as in 
individual and collective life in a downward trajectory, thus establishing one phase 
after another of what is usually referred to as the "modem world." From then on, trie- 
process has become increasingly rapid, decisive, and universal, forming a dreadful 
current by which every residual trace of a different type of civilization is visibly 
destined to be swept away, thus ending a cycle and sealing the collective fate of 
millions, 

This is the case as far as the historical aspect is concerned, and yet this aspect is 
totally relative. If everything that is "historical" is included in what is "modern," then 
to go beyond the modem world (which is the only way to reveal its meaning), is 
essentially a process of traveling beyond the limits that most people assign to "his- 
tory." It is necessary to understand that in this direction, we no longer find anything 
that is susceptible again to becoming "history." The fact that positive inquiry was not 
able to make history beyond a certain period is not at all a fortuitous circumstance, 
nor is it due to a mere uncertainty concerning sources and dates or to the lack of 
vestigial traces. In order to understand the spiritual background typical of every 
non moderm civilization, it is necessary to retain the idea that the opposition between 
historical times and "prehistoric" or "mythological" times is not the relative opposi- 
tion proper to two homogeneous parts of the same time frame, but rather the qualita- 
tive and substantial opposition between times (or experiences of time) that are not of 
the same kind. Traditional man did not have the same experience of time as modem 
man; he had a supertemporal sense of time and in this sensation lived every form of 
his world. Thus, the modem researchers of "history" at a given point encounter an 
interruption of the series and an incomprehensible gap, beyond which they cannot 
construct any "certain" and meaningful historical theory; they can only rely upon 
fragmentary, external, and often contradictory elements — unless they radically change 
their method and mentality. 

On the basis of these premises, the opposition of the traditional world to the 
modern world is also an ideal one. The character of temporality and of "historicity" 
is essentially inherent only to one of the two terms of this opposition, while the other 
term, which refers to the whole body of traditional civilizations, is characterized by 
the feeling of what is beyond time, namely, by a contact with metaphysical reality 
that bestows upon the experience of time a very different, "mythological" form based 
on rhythm and space rather than on chronological time. 3 Traces of this qualitatively 
different experience of time still exist as degenerated residues among some so-called 
primitive populations. Having lost that contact by being caught in the illusion of a 
pure flowing, a pure escaping, a yearning that pushes one's goat further and further 
away, and being caught in a process that cannot and does not intend to be satisfied in 
any achievement as it is consumed in terms of "history" and "becoming" — this is 
indeed one of the fundamental characteristics of the modern world and the limit that 
separates two eras, not only in a historical sense but most of all in an ideal, meta- 
physical, and morphological sense. 

Therefore, the fact that civilizations of the traditional type are found in the past 
becomes merely accidental: the modem world and the traditional world may be 
regarded as two universal types and as two a priori categories of civilization. Never- 
theless, that accidental circumstance allows us to state with good reason that wher- 
ever a civilization is manifested that has as its center and substance the temporal 
element, there we will find a resurgence, in a more or less different form, of the 
same attitudes, values, and forces that have defined the modem era in the specific 
sense of the term; and that wherever a civilization is manifested that has as its center 
and substance the supernatural element, there we will find a resurgence, in more or 
less different forms, of the same meanings, values, and forces that have defined 
archaic types of civilization. This should clarify the meaning of what I have called 
the "dualism of civilization" in relation to the terms employed ("modem" and "tradi- 
tional") and also prevent any misunderstandings concerning the "traditionalism" that 
I advocate. "These did not just happen once, but they have always been" (...). 
The reason behind all my references to 
non modern forms, institutions, and knowledge consists in the fact that they are more 
transparent symbols, closer approximations, and better examples of what is prior 
and superior to time and to history, and thus to both yesterday and tomorrow; it is 
these alone that can produce a real renewal and a "new and perennial life" in those 
who are still capable of receiving it. Only those capable of this reception may be 
totally fearless and able to see in the fate of the modern world nothing different or 
more tragic than the vain arising and consequential dissolution of a thick fog, which 
cannot alter or affect in any way the free heaven. 

So much for the fundamental thesis. At this point, by way of introduction, I would 
like briefly to explain the "method" I have employed. 

The above remarks will suffice to show how little 1 value all of what in recent 
times has officially been regarded as "historical science" in matters of religion, an- 
cient institutions, and traditions, nor do I need refer to what I will say later concern- 
ing the origin, the scope, and the meaning of modern "knowledge." I want to make it 
clear that I do not want to have anything to do with this order of things, as well as 
with any other that originates from modem mentality; and moreover, that I consider 
the so-called scientific and positive perspective, with all its empty claims of compe- 
tence and of monopoly, as a display of ignorance in the best of cases. I say "in the 
best of cases"; 1 certainly do not deny that from the detailed studies of the "scholars" 
of different disciplines what may emerge is useful (though unrefined) material that 
is often necessary to those who do not have other sources of information or who do 
not have the time or intention to dedicate themselves to gather and to examine what 
they need from other domains. And yet, at the same time, I am still of the opinion 
that wherever the "historical" and "scientific" methods of modern man are applied 
to traditional civilizations, other than in the coarser aspect of traces and witnesses, 
the results are almost always distortions that destroy the spirit, limit and alter the 
subject matter, and lead into the blind alleys of alibis created by the prejudices of the 
modem mentality as it: defends and asserts itself in every domain. Very rarely is this 
destructive and distorting work casual; it almost always proceeds, even though indi- 
rectly, from hidden influences and from suggestions that the "scientific" spirits, con- 
sidering their mentality, are the last to know. 

The order of things that I will mainly deal with in this present work, generally 
speaking, is that in which all materials having a "historical' 1 and "scientific 1 ' value 
are the ones that matter the least; conversely, all the mythical, legendary, and epic 
elements denied historical truth and demonstrative value acquire here a superior 
validity and become the source for a more real and certain knowledge. This is pre- 
cisely the boundary that separates the traditional doctrine from profane culture. In 
reference to ancient times this does not apply to the forms of a "mythological" or 
superhistorical life such as the traditional one; while from the perspective of "sci- 
ence" what matters in a myth is whatever historical elements may be extracted from 
it. From the perspective that I adopt, what matters in history are all the mythological 
elements it has to offer, or all the myths that enter into its web, as integrations oi' the 
"'meaning" of history itself. Not only the Rome of legends speaks clearer words than 
the historical Rome, but even the sagas of Charlemagne reveal more about the mean- 
ing of the king of the Franks than the positive chronicles and documents of that time, 
and so on. 

The scientific "anathemas 11 in regard to this approach are well known: "Arbi- 
trary!" "Subjective!' 1 "Preposterous! 11 hi my perspective there is no arbitrariness, 
subjectivity, or fantasy, just like there is no objectivity and scientific causality the 
way modern men understand them. All these notions are unreal; all these notions are 
outside Tradition. Tradition begins wherever it is possible to rise above these notions 
by achieving a superindividual and nonhuman perspective; thus, I will have a mini- 
mal concern for debating and "demonstrating. 11 The truths that may reveal the world 
of Tradition are not those that can be "learned" or "discussed 11 ; either they are or 
they are not. 4 It is only possible to remember them, and this happens when one 
becomes free of the obstacles represented by various human constructions, first among 
which are all the results and the methods of specialized researchers; in other words, 
one becomes free of these encumbrances when the capacity for seeing from that 
nonhuman perspective, which is the same as the traditional perspective, has been 
attained. This is one of the essential "protests" that should be made by those who 
really oppose the modem world. 

Let me repeat that in every ancient persuasion, traditional truths have always 
been regarded as nonhuman. Any consideration from a nonhuman perspective, which 
is "objective" in a transcendent sense, is a traditional consideration that should be 
made to correspond to the traditional world. Universality is typical of this world; the 
axiom, "quod ubique, quod ab omnibus et quod semper" characterizes it. Inherent to 
the idea of "traditional civilization" is the idea of an equivalence or homology of its 
various forms realized in space and time. The correspondences may not be notice- 
able from the outside; one may be taken aback by the diversity of several possible 
and yet equivalent expressions; in some case the correspondences are respected in 
the spirit, in other cases only formally and nominally; in some cases there may be 
more complete applications of principles, in others, more fragmentary ones; in some 
there are legendary expressions, in others, historical expressions — and yet there is 
always something constant and central that characterizes the same world and the same 
man and determines an identical opposition vis-a-vis everything that is modern. 

Those who begin from a particular traditional civilization and are able to inte- 
grate it by freeing it from its historical and contingent aspects, and thus bring back 
the generative principles to the metaphysical plane where they exist in a pure state, 
so to speak — they cannot help but recognize these same principles behind the differ- 
ent expressions of other equally traditional civilizations. It is in this way that a sense 
of certainty and of transcendent and universal objectivity is innerly established, that 
nothing could ever destroy, and that could not be reached by any other means. 

In the course of this book 1 will refer to various Eastern and Western traditions, 
choosing those that exemplify through a clearer and more complete expression the 
same spiritual principle or phenomenon. The method that I use has as little in com- 
mon with the eclecticism or comparative methodology of modern scholars as the 
method of parallaxes, which is used to determine the exact position of a star by 
reference to how it appears from different places. Also, this method has as little in 
common with eclecticism — to borrow an image of Guenon's — as the multilingual 
person's choice of the language that offers the best expression to a given thought. 5 
Thus, what [call "traditional method" is usually characterized by a double principle; 
ontologically and objectively by the principle of correspondence, which ensures an 
essential and functional correlation between analogous elements, presenting them 
as simple homologous forms of the appearance of a central and unitary meaning; 
and epistemologically and subjectively by the generalized use of the principle of 
induction, which is here understood as a discursive approximation of a spiritual intu- 
ition, in which what is realized is the integration and the unification of the diverse 
elements encountered in the same one meaning and in the same one principle. 

In this way I will try to portray the sense of the world of Tradition as a unity and 
as a universal type capable of creating points of reference and of evaluation differ- 
ent from the ones to which the majority of the people in the West have passively and 
semiconsciously become accustomed; this sense can also lead to the establishment 
of the foundations for an eventual revolt (not a polemical, but real and positive one) 
of the spirit against the modern world. 

In this regard I hope that those who are accused of being anachronistic Utopians 
unaware of "historical reality" will remain unmoved in the realization that the apolo- 
gists of what is "concrete" should not be told: "Stop!" or "Turn around!" or "Wake 
up!" but rather: 

Go ahead! Achieve all your goals! Break all the dams! Faster! You are 
unbound. Go ahead and fly with taster wings, with an ever greater pride 
for your achievements, with your conquests, with your empires, with 
your democracies! The pit must be filled; there is a need for fertilizer 
for the new tree that will grow out of your collapse. 6 

In the present work I will limit myself to offering guiding principles, the application 
and the adequate development of which would require as many volumes as there are 
chapters; thus, I will point out only the essential elements. The reader may wish to 
use them as the basis for further ordering and deepening the subject matter of each 
of the domains dealt with from the traditional point of view by giving to them an 
extension and a development that the economy of the present work does not allow 
for 

In the first part I will trace directly a kind of doctrine of the categories of the 
traditional spirit; I will indicate the main principles according to which the life of the 
man of Tradition was manifested. Here the term "category" is employed in the sense 
of a normative and a priori principle. The forms and the meanings indicated should 
not be regarded as "realities" proper, inasmuch as they are or have been "realities," 
but rather as ideas that must determine and shape reality and life, their value being 
independent from the measure in which their realization can be ascertained, since it 
will never be perfect. This should eliminate the misunderstandings and the objec- 
tions of those who claim that historical reality hardly justifies the forms and the 
meanings (more on which later). Such a claim could eventually be validated without 
reaching the conclusion that in this regard, everything is reduced to make-believe, 
Utopias, idealizations, or illusions. The main forms of the traditional life as catego- 
ries enjoy the same dignity as ethical principles: they are valuable in and of them- 
selves and only require to be acknowledged and willed so that man may hold steadily 
to them and with them measure himself and life, just like traditional man has always 
and everywhere done. Thus, the dimension of "history" and of "reality" has here 
merely an illustrative and evocative scope for values that even from this point of 
view, may not be any less actual today and tomorrow than what they could have 
been yesterday. 

The historical element will be emphasized in the second part of this work, which 
will consider the genesis of the modern world and the processes that have led to its 
development. Since the reference point, however, will always be the traditional world 
in its quality as symbolical, superhistorical, and normative reality, and likewise, since 
the method employed will be that which attempts to understand what acted and still 
acts behind the two superficial dimensions of historical phenomena (space and time), 
the final outcome will be the outline of a metaphysics of history. 

In both parts 1 think that sufficient elements have been given to those who, today 
or tomorrow, already are or will be capable of an awakening. 

The skillful masters (of the Tao) in old times, with a subtle and exquis- 
ite penetration, comprehended its mysteries and were deep (also) so as 
to elude men's knowledge . . . Shrinking, looked they like those who 
wade through a stream in winter; […], like those who are afraid 
of all around them; . . . evanescent like ice that is melting away; unpre- 
tentious like wood that has not been fashioned into anything; vacant 
like a valley, and dull like muddy water. . . . 

Who can make the muddy water clear? Who can secure the condi- 
tion of rest? . . . 

They who preserve this method of the Tao do not wish to he full of 
themselves. It is through their not being full of themselves that they can 
afford to seem worn and not appear to be new and complete. 

— Tao te Ching, 15 
(from R. Van Over, Chinese Mystics) 
====================================================================


The Beginning 



In order to understand both the spirit of Tradition and its antithesis, modern civi- 
lization, it is necessary to begin with the fundamental doctrine of the two natives. 
According to this doctrine there is a physical order of things and a metaphysical one; 
there is a mortal nature and an immortal one; there is the superior realm of "being" 
and the inferior realm of "becoming." Generally speaking, there is a visible and 
tangible dimension and, prior to and beyond it, an invisible and intangible dimension 
that is the support, the source, and true life of the former. 

Anywhere in the world of Tradition, both East and West and in one form or 
another, this knowledge (not just a mere "theory") has always been present as an 
unshakable axis around which everything revolved. Let me emphasize the fact that 
it was knowledge and not "theory." As difficult as it may be for our contemporaries 
to understand this, we must start from the idea that the man of Tradition was aware 
of the existence of a dimension of being much wider than what our contemporaries 
experience and cal 1 "reality." Nowadays, after all, reality is understood only as some- 
thing strictly encompassed within the world of physical bodies located in space and 
time. Certainly, there are those who believe in something beyond the realm of phe- 
nomena. When these people admit the existence of something else, however, they 
are always led to this conclusion by a scientific hypothesis or law, or by a speculative 
idea, or by a religious dogma; they cannot escape such an intellectual limitation. 
Through his practical and immediate experiences, modem man, no matter how deep 
his "materialistic" or "spiritual" beliefs may be, develops an understanding of reality 
only in relation to the world of physical bodies and always under the influence of his 
direct and immediate experiences. This is the real materialism for which our con- 
temporaries should be reproached. All the other versions of materialism that are 
formulated in scientific or in philosophical terms are only secondary phenomena. 
The worst type of materialism, therefore, is not a matter of an opinion or of a "theory," 
but it consists in the fact that man's experience no longer extends to nonphysical 
realities. Thus, the majority of the intellectual revolts against ''materialistic" views 
are only vain reactions against the latest peripheral effects stemming from remote 
and deeper causes. These causes, incidentally, arose in a different historical context 
from the one in which the "theories" were formulated. 

The experience of traditional man used to reach well beyond these limits, as in 
the case of some so-called primitive people, among whom we still find today a faint 
echo of spiritual powers from ancient times. In traditional societies the "invisible" 
was an element as real, if not more real, than the data provided by the physical 
senses. Every aspect of the individual and of the social life of the people belonging 
to these societies was influenced by this experience. 

On the one hand, from the perspective of Tradition, what today is usually re- 
ferred to as "reality," was only a species of a much wider genus. On the other hand, 
invisible realities were not automatically equated with the "supernatural." Tradi- 
tionally speaking, the notion of "nature" did not correspond merely to the world of 
bodies and of visible forms — the object of research of contemporary, secularized 
science — but on the contrary, it corresponded essentially to part of an invisible real- 
ity. The ancients had the sense of a dark netherworld, populated by obscure and 
ambiguous forces of every kind (the demonic soul of nature, which is the essential 
substratum of all nature 's forms and energies) that was opposed to the superrational 
and sidereal brightness of a higher region. Moreover, the term nature traditionally 
included everything that is merely human, since what is human cannot escape birth 
and death, impermanence, dependence, and transformation, all of which character- 
ize die inferior region. By definition, "that which is" has nothing to do with human 
and temporal affairs or situations, as in the saying: "The race of men is one thing, 
and the race of the gods is quite another." This saying retains its validity even though 
people once thought that the reference to a superior, otherworldly domain could 
effectively lead the integration and the purification of the human element in the 
direction of the nonhuman dimension. Only the nonhuman dimension constituted the 
essence and the goal of any truly traditional civilization. 

The world of being and the world of becoming affect things, demons, and men. 
Every hypostatic representation of these two regions, whether expressed in astral, 
mythological, theological, or religious terms, reminded traditional man of the exist- 
ence of the two states; it also represented a symbol to be resolved into an inner 
experience, or at least in the foreboding of an inner experience. Thus, in Hindu, and 
especially in Buddhist tradition, the idea of sarhsara — the current that dominates and 
carries away every form of the inferior world—refers to an understanding of life as 
blind yearning and as an irrational identification with impermanent aggregates. Like- 
wise, Hellenism saw nature as the embodiment of the eternal state of "deprivation" 
of those realities that, by virtue of having their own principle and cause outside of 
themselves, flow and run away indefinitely (del peovra). In their becoming, these 
realities reveal a primordial and radical lack of direction and purpose and a peren- 
nial limitation. 1 According to these traditions, "matter" and "becoming" express the 
reality that acts in a being as an obscure necessity or as an irrepressible indetermina- 
tion, or as the inability to acquire a perfect form and to possess itself in a law. What 
the Greeks called avarjKCciov and arteipov, the Orientals called adhnrma. Chris- 
tian Scholastic theology shared similar views, since it considered the root of every 
unredeemed nature in terms of cupiditas and of appetitus hinatus. In different ways, 
the man of Tradition found in the experience of covetous identification, which ob- 
scures and impairs "being," the secret cause of his existential predicament. The in- 
cessant becoming and the perennial instability and contingency of the inferior region 
appeared to the man of Tradition as the cosmic and symbolical materialization of 
that predicament. 

On the other hand, the experience of asceticism was regarded as the path lead- 
ing to the other region, or to the world of "being, "or to what is no longer physical but 
metaphysical. Asceticism traditionally consisted in values such as mastery over one- 
self, self-discipline, autonomy, and the leading of a unified life. By "unified life" I 
mean an existence that does not need to be spent in search of other things or people 
in order to be complete and justified. The traditional representations of this other 
region were solar symbols, heavenly regions, beings made of light or fire, islands, 
and mountain peaks. 

These were the two "natures." Tradition conceived the possibility of being bom 
in either one, and also of the possibility of going from one birth to another, according 
to the saying: "A man is a mortal god, and a god is an immortal man"" The world of 
Tradition knew these two great poles of existence, as well as the paths leading from 
one to the other. Tradition knew the existence of the physical world and the totality 
of the forms, whether visible or underground, whether human or subhuman and de- 
monic, of VTrepKOOjAta, a "world beyond this world." According to Tradition, the 
former is the "fall" of the latter, and the latter represents the "liberation" of the 
former. The traditional world believed spirituality to be something beyond life and 
death. It held that mere physical existence, or "living," is meaningless unless it ap- 
proximates the higher world or that which is "more than life," and unless one's high- 
est ambition consists in participating in vnepKOopia and in obtaining an active and 
final liberation from the bond represented by the human condition. According to 
Tradition, every authority is fraudulent, every law is unjust and barbarous, every 
institution is vain and ephemeral unless they are ordained to the superior principle of 
Being, and unless they are derived from above and oriented "upward/' 

The traditional world knew divine kingship. It knew the bridge between the two 
worlds, namely, initiation; it knew the two great ways of approach to the transcen- 
dent, namely, heroic action and contemplation; it knew the mediation, namely, rites 
and faithfulness; it knew the social foundation, namely, the traditional law and the 
caste system; and it knew the political earthly symbol, namely, the empire. 

These are the foundations of the traditional hierarchy and civilization that have 
been completely wiped out by the victorious "anthropocentric" civilization of our 
contemporaries. 
===================================================================


Regality 



Every traditional civilization is characterized by the presence of beings who, by 
virtue of their innate or acquired superiority over the human condition, em- 
body within the temporal order the living and efficacious presence of a power that 
comes from above. One of these types of beings is the pontifex, according to the 
inner meaning of the word and according to the original value of the function that he 
exercised. Pontifex means "builder of bridges," or of "paths" (pons, in ancient times, 
also meant "path" 1 ) connecting the natural and the supernatural dimensions. More- 
over, the pontifex was traditionally identified with the king (rex). Servius, a late 
fourth-century commentator on Virgil's works, reports: "The custom of our ancestors 
was that the king should also be pontifex and priest." A saying of the Nordic tradition 
reads: "May our leader be our bridge." 1 Thus, real monarchs were the steadfast 
personification of the life "beyond ordinary life." Beneficial spiritual influences used 
to radiate upon the world of mortal beings from the mere presence of such men, from 
their "pontifical" mediation, from the power of the rites that were rendered effica- 
cious by their power, and from the institutions of which they were the center. These 
influences permeated people's thoughts, intentions, and actions, ordering every as- 
pect of their lives and constituting a lit foundation for luminous, spiritual realiza- 
tions. These influences also made propitious the general conditions for prosperity, 
health, and "good fortune." 

In the world of Tradition the most important foundation of the authority and of 
the right (ius) of kings and chiefs, and the reason why they were obeyed, feared, and 
venerated, was essentially their transcendent and nonhuman quality. This quality 
was not artificial, but a powerful reality to be feared. The more people acknowl- 
edged the ontological rank of what was prior and superior to the visible and temporal 
dimension, the more such beings were invested with a natural and absolute sover- 
eign power. Traditional civilizations, unlike those of decadent and later times, 
completely ignored the merely political dimension of supreme authority as well as 
the idea that the roots of authority lay in mere strength, violence, or natural and 
secular qualities such as intelligence, wisdom, physical courage, and a minute con- 
cern for the collective material well-being. The roots of authority, on the contrary, 
always had a metaphysical character. Likewise, the idea that the power to govern is 
conferred on the chief by those whom he rules and that his authority is the expression 
of the community and therefore subject to its decrees, was foreign to Tradition. It is 
Zeus who bestows the θέμιστες on kings of divine origin, whereby θέμις, or 'law 
from above," is very different from what constitutes νόμος, which is the political law 
of the community. The root of every temporal power was spiritual authority, which 
was almost a "divine nature disguised in human form/' According to an Indo-Euro- 
pean view, the ruler is not "a mere mortal," but rather "a great deity standing in the 
form of a man." 2 The Egyptian pharaoh was believed to be the manifestation of Ra 
or of Horus. The kings of Alba and of Rome were supposed to be the incarnations of 
Zeus; the Assyrian kings, of Baal; the Persian shahs, of the god of light. The Nordic- 
Germanic princes were believed to derive from the race of Tiuz, of Odin, and of the 
Aesir; and the Greek kings of the Doric-Achaean cycle were called διοτρεψέες or 
διογενέες reference to their divine origin. Beyond the variety of mythical and 
sacred expressions, the recurrent view of kingship is expressed in terms of an "im- 
manent transcendence" that is present and active in the world. The king— who was 
believed to be a sacred being and not a man— by virtue of his "being; 1 was already 
the center and the apex of the community. In him was also the supernatural strength 
that made his ritual actions efficacious. In these actions people could recognize the 
earthly counterpart of supernatural "ruling," as well as the supernatural support of 
Life in the world of Tradition, 3 For this reason, kingship was the supreme form of 
government, and was believed to be in the natural order of things. It did not need 
physical strength to assert itself, and when it did, it was only sporadically. It imposed 
itself mainly and irresistibly through the spirit. In an ancient Indo-Aryan text it is 
written: "The dignity a god enjoys on earth is splendid, but hard to achieve for the 
weak. Only he who sets his soul on this objective, is worthy to become a king." 4 The 
ruler appears as a "follower of the discipline that is practiced by those who are gods 
among men. " s 

In Tradition, kingship was often associated with the solar symbol. In the king, 
people saw the same "glory" and "victory" proper to the sun and to the light (the 
symbols of the superior nature), which every morning overcome darkness. "Every- 
day he rises on Horus's throne, as king of the living, just like his father Ra [the sun]." 
And also: 4t I have decreed that you must eternally rise asking of the North and of the 
South on the seat of Horus, like the sun." These sayings from the ancient Egyptian 
royal tradition bear a striking similarity to the sayings of the Persian tradition, in 
which the king is believed to be "of the same stock as the gods": "He has the same 
throne of Mithras and he rises with the Sun"; he is called particeps siderum and 
"Lord of peace, salvation of mankind, eternal man, winner who rises in company of 
the sun." In ancient Persia the consecrating formula was: "Thou art power, the force 
of victory, and immortal . . .Made of gold, thou rise, at dawn, together with Indra and 
with the sun. 1 " In the Indo-Aryan tradition, in reference to Rohita, who is the "con- 
quering force" and who personifies an aspect of the radiance of the divine fire (Agni), 
we find: "By coming forward, he [Agni] has created kingship in this world. He has 
conferred on you [Rohita] majesty and victory over your enemies." 6 In some ancient 
Roman representations, the god Sol (sun) presents the emperor with a sphere, which 
is the symbol of universal dominion. Also, the expressions sol conservator and sol 
dominus rornani imperii, which are employed to describe Rome's stability and ruling 
power, refer to the brightness of the sun. The Last Roman profession of faith was 
"solar," since the last representative of the ancient Roman tradition, the emperor 
Julian, consecrated his dynasty, his birth, and royal condition to the brightness of the 
sun, 7 which he considered to be a spiritual force radiating from the "higher worlds." 
A reflection of the solar symbol was preserved up to the time of Ghibelline emper- 
ors — one may still speak of a deltas solisin reference to Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. 
This solar "glory" or "victory" in reference to kingship was not reduced to i 
mere symbol, but rather denoted a metaphysical reality. Eventually it came to b< 
identified with a nonhuman operating force, which the king did not possess in and b; 
himself. One of the most characteristic symbolic expressions of this idea comes fron 
the Zoroastiian tradition, wherein the hvareno {thε "glory" that the king possesses) is 
a supernatural fire characterizing heavenly (and especially solar) entities that al- 
lows the king to partake of immortality and that gives him witness through victory. 
This victory must be understood in such a way that the two meanings, the first mys- 
tical, the second military (material), are not mutually exclusive but rather comple- 
mentary/ Among non-Persian people, this hvareno was later confused with "fate" 
(TUX?]). With this meaning it reappeared in the Roman tradition in the form of the 
"royal fate" that the Caesars ritually transmitted to each other, and in which the 
people recognized an active, "triumphal" undertaking of the personified destiny of 
the city (ru^r/ noXetoq), determined by the ritual of their appointment. The Roman 
regal attribute felix must be referred to this context and to the possession of an 
extranormal virtus. In the Vedic tradition we find a parallel notion: Agni-Vaishvanara 
is conceived as a spiritual fire that leads the conquering kings to victory. 

In ancient Egypt the king was not called merely "Horus," but "fighting Horus" 
(Hor aha), to designate the victorious and glorious character of the solar principle 
present in the monarch. The Egyptian pharaoh, who was believed to descend from 
the gods, was "enthroned" as one of them, and later on in his life he was periodically 
reconfirmed in his role through rituals that reproduced the victory of the solar god 
Horus overTyphon-Set, a demon from the netherworld. L ' These rites were thought lo 
have such a power as to evoke the "force" and the "life" that supematurally encom- 
passed the king's person. The hieroglyphic for "force" (uns) is the scepter handled 
by gods and kings alike. In the oldest texts, the scepter is portrayed as the zigzag bolt 
of lightning. The regal "force" thus appears as a manifestation of the dazzling, heav- 
enly force. The combination of signs represented the concept of "life-force" (anshus), 
form a word for "fiery milk," which is the nourishment of the immortals. This word is 
not without relation to uraeus, the divine flame, at times life-giving, at other times 
dangerously destructive, which crowns the head of the Egyptian king in the shape of 
a serpent. 

In this traditional formulation, the various elements converge in the idea of a 
nonterrestrial power or fluid (su). This power consecrates and gives witness to the 
solar, triumphant nature of the king, and "gushes" forth from one king to the other, 
thus guaranteeing the uninterrupted and "golden" sequence in the divine lineage, 
which is legitimately appointed to the task of regere. Interestingly enough, the theme 
of "glory" as a divine attribute is found even in Christianity, and according to mysti- 
cal theology the beatific vision takes place within the "glory of God." Christian ico- 
nography used to portray this glory as a halo around the person's head, thus visibly 
representing the meaning of the Egyptian uraeus and of the glowing crown of the 
Persian and Roman solar kings. 

According to a Far Eastern tradition, the king, as a "son of heaven" who is 
believed to have nonhuman origins, enjoys the "mandate of heaven" (lien ming), 
which implies the idea of a real and supernatural force. Tins force that comes "from 
heaven," according lo Lao-tzu, acts without acting (wei vu wei) through an immate- 
rial presence, or by virtue of just being present. 10 It is as invisible as the wind, and yet 
its actions are as ineluctable as the forces of nature. When this power is unleashed, 
the forces of common men, according to Meng-tzu, bend under it as blades of grass 
under the wind. 11 Concerning wu wei, a text says: 

By its thickness and substantiality, sincerity equals earth; and by its 
height and splendor it equals heaven. Its extent and duration are with- 
out limit. He who possesses this sincerity, without showing himself, he 
will shine forth, without moving he will renovate others; without acting, 
he will perfect them. 12 

Only such a man, "is able to harmonize the opposing strands of human society, to 
establish and to maintain moral order in the country".

Established in this force or "virtue," the Chinese monarch (wang) performed the 
supreme role of a center, or of a third power between heaven and earth. The common 
assumption was that the fortunes and misfortunes of the kingdom, as well as the moral 
qualities of his subjects (it is the ''virtue" in relation to the "being" of the monarch, 
and not his "actions," that carries positive or negative influences on them), secretly 
depended on the monarch's behavior. The central role exercised by the king presup- 
posed that the king maintained the aforesaid "triumphal" inner way of being. In this 
context, the meaning of the famous saying, "Immutability in the middle," may corre- 
spond to the doctrine according to which, tl in the immutability of the middle, the vir- 
tue of heaven is manifested." 14 If this principle was implemented as a general rule, 
nothing could have changed the arranged course of human events or those of the state. 15 

In general, the fact that the king's or chief's primary and essential function con- 
sisted in performing those ritual and sacrificial actions that constituted the center of 
gravity of life is a recurrent idea in a vast cycle of traditional civilizations, from pre- 
Columbian Peru to the Far East, and including Greek and Roman cities. This idea 
confirms the inseparability of royal office from priestly or pontifical office. Accord- 
ing to Aristotle, "the kings enjoy their office by virtue of being the officiating priests 
at their community's worship.' Mf, The first duty of the Spartan kings was to perform 
sacrifices, and the same could be said about the first kings of Rome and of many 
rulers during the imperial period. The king, empowered with a nonterrestrial force 
with its roots in something that is "more than life," naturally appeared as one who 
could eminently actualize the power of the rites and open the way leading to the 
superior world. Thus, in those traditional forms of civilization in which there was a 
separate priestly class, the king, because of his original dignity and function, be- 
longed to this class and was its true leader. In addition to early Rome, this situation 
was found both in ancient Egypt (in order to make the rites efficacious, the pharaoh 
repeated daily the prayer that was believed to renew the divine force in his person) 
and in Iran, where, as Xenophon recalls, 17 the king, who according to his function 
was considered the image of the god of Light on earth, belonged to the caste of Magi 
and was its leader. On the other hand, if among certain people there was the custom 
of deposing and even of killing the chief when an accident or a catastrophe oc- 
curred for this seemed to signify a decrease in the mystical force of "good fortune" 
that gave one the right to be chief "—this custom gives witness to the same order of 
ideas, although in the form of a superstitious degeneration. In the Nordic racial stocks 
up to the time of the Goths, and notwithstanding the principle of royal sacredness 
(the king was considered as an Aesir and as a demigod who wins in battle thanks to 
the power of his "good fortune"), an inauspicious event was understood not so much 
as the absence of the mystical power of "fortune" abiding in the king, but rather as 
the consequence of something that the king, as a mortal man, had done, thus compro- 
mising the objective effectiveness of his power. It was believed, for instance, that 
the consequence for failing to implement the fundamental Aryan virtue of always 
telling the truth, and thus being stained by lies, caused the "glory: 1 or the mystical 
efficacious virtue, to abandon the ancient Iranian king, Yima. 1 " All the way up \o the 
Carolingian Middle Ages and within Christianity itself, local councils of bishops were 
at times summoned in order to investigate what misdeed perpetrated by a represen- 
tative of the temporal or ecclesiastical authority could have caused a given calamity. 
These are the last echoes of the abovementioned idea. 

The monarch was required to retain the symbolic and solar dignity of invictus 
(sol invictus, ήλιος ανίκητος), as well as the state of inner equilibrium that corre- 
sponds to the Chinese notion of "immutability in the middle"; otherwise the force 
and its prerogatives would be transferred to another person who could prove worthy 
of it. I will mention in this context a case in which the concept of ""victory" became a 
focal point of various meanings. There is an interesting ancient saga of Nemi's King 
of the Woods, whose royal and priestly office was supposed to be conferred on the 
person capable of catching him by surprise and slaying him. J. G. Frazer tracked 
down numerous traditions of the same kind all over the world. 

In this context, the physical combat aspect of the trial, if it had to occur, is only 
the materialistic transposition of some higher meaning, and it must be related to the 
general view of "divine judgments" (more on which later). Concerning the deepest 
meaning of the legend of Nemi's king-priest, it must be remembered that according 
to Tradition, only a "fugitive slave" (esoterically speaking, a being who had become 
free from the bonds of his lower nature), armed with a branch torn off a sacred oak, 
had the right to compete with the Rex Nemorensis (King of the Woods). The oak is 
the equivalent of the "Tree of the World," which in other traditions is frequently 
adopted as a symbol designating the primordial life-force and the power of victory. 20 
This means that only a being who has succeeded in partaking of this force may 
aspire to take the place of the Rex Nemorensis. Concerning this office, it must be 
observed that the oak and the woods, of which Nemi's priest-king was rex, were 
related to Diana. In turn, Diana was the "bride" of the king of the woods. In some 
ancient, eastern Mediterranean traditions, the great goddesses were often symbol- 
ized by sacred trees. From the Hellenic myth of the Hesperides, to the Nordic myth 
of the goddess Idun, and to the Gaelic myth of Magh-Mell, which was the residence 
of very beautiful goddesses and of the "Tree of Victory," it is possible to notice 
traditional symbolic connections between women or goddesses, forces of life, im- 
mortality, wisdom, and trees. 

Concerning the Rex Nemorensis, we can recognize in the symbols employed 
that the notion of kingship derives from having married or possessed the mystical 
force of "life," of transcendent wisdom and immortality that is personified both by 
the goddess and by the tree. 21 Nemi's saga, therefore, incorporates the general sym- 
bol, which is found in many other myths and traditional Legends, of a winner or of a 
hero who possesses a woman or a goddess. The goddess appears in other traditions 
either as a guardian of the fruits of immortality (see the female figures in relation to 
the symbolical tree in the myths of Heracles, Jason, Gilgamesh, and so on), or as a 
personification of the occult force of the world, of life and of nonhuman knowledge, 
or as the embodiment of the principle of sovereignty (the knight or the unknown hero 
of the legend, who becomes king after taking as his bride a mysterious princess)." 

Some of the ancient traditions about a female source of royal power 23 may also 
be interpreted in this fashion; their meaning, in that case, is exactly opposite to 
gynaecocracy, which will be discussed later. As far as the tree is concerned, interest- 
ingly enough, even in some medieval legends it is related to the imperial ideal; the 
last emperor, before dying, will hang the scepter, the crown, and the shield in the 
"Dry Tree," which is usually located in the symbolical region of "Prester John," just 
Like the dying Roland hung his unbreakable sword in the tree. This is yet another 
convergence of symbolical contents, for Frazer has shown the relationship existing 
between the branch that the fugitive slave must break off Nemi's sacred oak in order 
to fight with Nemi's king and the branch Aeneas carried to descend, while alive, into 
the invisible dimension. One of the gifts that Emperor Frederick II received from the 
mysterious Prester John was a ring that renders invisible and victorious the one who 
wears it. Invisibility, in this context, refers to the access to the invisible realm and to 
the achievement of immortality; in Greek traditions the hero's invisibility is often 
synonymous with his becoming immortal. 

This was the case of Siegfried in the Niebelungen (6), who through the same 
symbolic virtue of becoming invisible, subjugates and marries the divine woman 
Brynhild. Brynhild, just like Siegfried in the Siegdrifumal I (4-6), is the one who be- 
stows on the heroes who "awaken" her the formulas of wisdom and of victory cont- 
ained in the runes. 

Remnants of traditions, in which we find the themes contained in the ancient 
saga of the King of the Woods, last until shortly beyond the end of the Middle Ages. 
They are always associated with the old idea, according to which a legitimate king is 
capable of manifesting in specific, concrete and almost experimental ways, the signs 
of his supernatural nature. The following is just one example: prior to the Hundred 
Years War, Venice asked Philip of Valois to demonstrate his actual right to be king 
in one of the following ways. The first way, victory over a contender whom Philip 
was expected to fight to the death in an enclosed area, reminds us of the Rex 
Nemorensis and of the mystical testimony inherent in every victory. 24 As far as the 
other examples are concerned, we read in a text dating back to those times: 

If Philip of Valois is, as he affirms, the true king of France, Let him 
prove the fact by exposing himself to hungry lions; for lions never at- 
tack a true king; or let him perform the miraculous healing of the sick, 
as all other true kings are wont to do. If he should fail, he would own 
himself to be unworthy of the kingdom. 25 

A supernatural power, manifested through a victory or through a thaumaturgical 
virtue, even in times like Philip's, which are no longer primordial times, is thus in- 
separably connected with the traditional idea of real and legitimate kingship. 26 Aside 
from the factual adequacy of single individuals to the principle and to the function of 
kingship, what remains is the view that "what has led people to venerate so many 
kings were mainly the divine virtues and powers, which descended on the kings 
alone, and not on other men as well." Joseph de Maistre wrote: 27 

God makes kings in the literal sense. He prepares royal races; maturing 
them under a cloud which conceals their origin. They appear at. length 
crowned with glory and honor; they take their places; and this is the 
most certain sign of their legitimacy. The truth is that they arise as it 
were of themselves, without violence on their part, and without marked 
deliberation on the other: it is a species of magnificent tranquillity, not 
easy to express. Legitimate usurpation would seem to me to be the 
most appropriate expression (if not too bold), to characterize these kinds 
of origins, which time hastens to consecrate. 28 
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Polar Symbolism; 
the Lord of Peace and Justice 



It is possible to connect the integral and original understanding of the regal func- 
tion with a further cycle of symbols and myths that point back in the same one 
direction through their various representations and analogical transpositions. ! 

As a starting point, we may consider the Hindu notion of the cakravartin, or 
"universal king." The cakravaitin may be considered the archetype of the regal func- 
tion of which various kings represent more or less complete images or even particu- 
lar expressions whenever they conform to the traditional principle. Cakravartin liter- 
ally means "lord 1 ' or "spinner of the wheel/' This notion brings us back again to the 
idea of a center that corresponds also to an inner state, to a way of being, or better 
yet, to the way of Being. 

Actually the wheel also symbolizes samsara or the stream of becoming (the 
Hellenes called it κύκλος της γενέσεως, the "wheel of generation," or κύκλος ανάγκης, 
"the wheel of Fate"). Its motionless center signifies the spiritual stability 
inherent in those who are not affected by this stream and who can organize and 
subject to a higher principle the energies and the activities connected to the inferior 
nature. Then the cakravartin appears as the dharmaraja, the "Lord of the Law," or 
the "Lord of the Wheel of the Law," 2 According to Confucius: "The practice of gov- 
ernment by means of virtue may be compared to the polestar, which the multitudi- 
nous stars pay homage to while it stays in its place." 3 Hence the meaning of the 
concept of "revolution," which is the motion occurring around an "unmoved mover/ 1 
though in our modern day and age it has become synonymous with subversion. 

In this sense royalty assumes the value of a "pole," by referring to a general 
traditional symbolism. We may recall here, besides Midgard (the heavenly "middle 
abode" described in Nordic traditions), Plato's reference to the place where Zeus 
holds counsel with the gods in order to reach a decision concerning the fate of Atlantis: 
"He accordingly summoned all the gods to his own most glorious abode, which stands 
at the center of the universe and looks out over the whole realm of change." 4 The 
abovementioned notion of cakravartin is also connected to a cycle of enigmatic tra- 
ditions concerning the real existence of a "center of the world" that exercises this 
supreme function here on earth. Some fundamental symbols of regality had origi- 
nally a close relationship with these ideas. One of these symbols was the scepter, the 
main function of which is analogically related to the "axis of the world." 5 Another 
symbol is the throne, an "elevated" place; sitting still on the throne evokes, in addi- 
tion to the meaning of stability connected to the "pole" and to the "unmoved mover," 
the corresponding inner and metaphysica I meanings. Considering the correspondence 
that was originally believed to exist between the nature of the royal man and the 
nature produced by initiation, in the classical Mysteries we find a ritual consisting of 
sitting still on a throne. This ritual appears to have been very important since it was 
sometimes equated with initiation itself. The term τεθρονισμένος, enthroned, is of- 
ten synonymous with τετελεσμένος, "initiate." 6 In fact, in some instances, in the 
course of an initiation the θρονισμός, or royal enthronement, preceded the experi- 
ence of becoming one with the god. 

The same symbolism is embodied in the ziggurat, the Assyrian-Babylonian ter- 
raced pyramid, as well as in the master plan of the capital of the Persian kings (as in 
Ecbatana) and in the ideal image of the cakravartin 's royal palace. In these places 
we find the architectural expression of the cosmic order complete in its hierarchy 
and in its dependence upon an unmoved center. From a spatial perspective this cen- 
ter corresponded, within the building itself, to the king's throne. Similar to Hellas, in 
India we find forms of initiation that employ the ritual of the so-called mandala. 
These forms dramatize the gradual ascent of the initiate from the profane and de- 
monic space to a sacred space, until he reaches a center. A fundamental ritual sym- 
bolizing this journey is called mukatabhisaka and it consists in being crowned or in 
being given a tiara; he who reaches the "center" of the mandala is crowned as king 
because he is now believed to be above the interplay of the forces at work in the 
inferior nature, 7 It is interesting that the ziggurat, the sacred building towering 
above the city-state of which it was the center, was called "cornerstone" in Babylon 
and "link between heaven and earth" in Lhasa; 8 the theme of the "rock" and of the 
"bridge" is pretty much summed up in the Far Eastern expression: "third power be- 
tween Heaven and Earth." 

The importance of these traces and correlations should not be overlooked. More- 
over, "stability" has the same double dimension; it is at the center of the Indo-Aryan 
formula for consecration of the kings: 

Remain steady and unwavering ... Do not give in. Be strong like a 
mountain. Stay still like the sky and the earth and retain control of power 
at all times. The sky, the earth and the mountains are unmoved as un- 
moved is the world of living beings and this king of men.  

In the formulas of the Egyptian royalty, stability appears as an essential attribute that 
complements the attribute of "power-life" already present in the sovereign. And just 
as the attribute of "vital-force," the correspondence of which with a secret fire has 
already been emphasized, "stability" too has a heavenly counterpart. Its hieroglyphic, 
djed, conveys the stability of the "solar gods resting on pillars or on light beams." 10 
These examples bring us back to the system of initiations, since they are much more 
than abstract ideas; like "power" and "vital-force"; "stability" too, according to the 
Egyptian tradition, is simultaneously an inner state of being and an energy, a virtus 
that flows from one king to the next, and which sustains them in a supernatural way. 
Moreover, the "Olympian" attribute and the attribute of "peace" are connected 
to the condition of "stability" in the esoteric sense of the word. Kings "who derive 
their power from the supreme god and who have received victory at his hands," are 
"lighthouses of peace in the storm."" After "glory," centrality ("polarity"), and sta- 
bility, peace is one of the fundamental attributes of regality that has been preserved 
until relatively recent times. Dante talked about the imperator pacificus, a title pre- 
viously bestowed on Charlemagne. Obviously, this is not the profane and social peace 
pursued by a political government — a kind of peace that is at most an external con- 
sequence — but rather an inner and positive peace, which should not be divorced 
from the "triumphal" element. This peace does not convey the notion of cessation, 
but rather that of the highest degree of perfection of a pure, inner and withdrawn 
activity. It is a calm that reveals the supernatural. 
According to Confucius a man destined to be a ruler (the "virtuous"), unlike ordi- 
nary men, "rests in rectitude and is stable and unperturbed"; "the men of affairs enjoy 
life, but the virtuous prolongs it." 12 Hence that great calm that conveys the feeling of 
an irresistible superiority and terrifies and disarms the adversary without a fight. This 
greatness immediately evokes the feeling of a transcendent force that is already mas- 
tered and ready to spring forward; or the marvelous and yet frightful sense of the 
numeric The pax romana et augusta, which is connected to the transcendent sense of 
the imperium, may be considered one of the several expressions of these meanings in 
the context of a universal historical realization. Conversely, the ethos of superiority 
over the world, of dominating calm and of imperturbability combined with readiness 
for absolute command, which has remained the characteristic of various aristocratic 
types even after the secularization of nobility, must be considered an echo of that ele- 
ment that was originally the regal, spiritual, and transcendent element. 

The cakravartin, besides being the ''Lord of Peace," is "Lord of the Law" (or 
cosmic order, rta) and "Lord of Justice" (dharmaraja). "Peace" and "justice" are two 
more fundamental attributes of royalty that have been preserved in Western civili- 
zation until the time of the Hohenstaufens and Dante, even though the political as- 
pect predominated over the higher meaning presupposing it. u Moreover, these at- 
tributes were also found in the mysterious figure of Melchizedek, king of Salem, one 
of the many representations of the function of the "universal king." Guenon has pointed 
out that in Hebrew, mekki-tsedeq means "king of justice," while Salem, of which he 
is king, is not a city, but rather "peace," at least according to Paul's exegesis. Tra- 
dition upholds the superiority of Melchizedeks royal priesthood over Abraham's. It 
is not without a deep reason that Melchizedek was present in the enigmatic medi- 
eval allegory of the "three rings," and that he declared that neither Christianity nor 
Islam know any longer which is the true religion; moreover, the "royal religion of 
Melchizedek" was often upheld by the Ghibelline ideology in the struggle against 
the Church. 

At this level, the expression "king of justice" is the equivalent of the previously 
mentioned dharmaraja, designating the "universal king. 1 ' From this expression we 
may gather that in this context, "justice" and "peace" do not have a secular meaning. 
In fact, dharma in Sanskrit also means "proper nature of," or the law typical of a 
certain being; the correct reference concerns the particular primordial legislation 
that hierarchically orders, in a system oriented upwards, every function and form of 
life according to the nature of every being (svadhamia), or "according to justice and 
truth." Such a notion of justice is also characteristic of the Platonic view of the state; 
this view, rather than an abstract "Utopian" model, should be regarded in many as- 
pects as an echo of traditional orientations from an even more distant past. In Plato 
the idea of justice (ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣΥΝΗ), of which the state should be the embodiment, is 
closely related to that of ΟΙΚΕΙΟΠΡΑΓΙΑ or cuique suum, that is, with the principle 
according to which everybody should fulfill the function typical of his or her own 
nature. Thus the "king of justice" is also the primordial legislator, or he who insti- 
tuted the castes, assigned the offices, and established the rites; or, in other words, he 
who determined the ethical and sacred system that was called dharmanga in Aryan 
India, and that in other traditions was the local ritual system that determined the 
norms for regulating individual and collective life. 

This presupposes that the royal condition enjoys a higher power of knowledge. 
The capability to deeply and perfectly understand the primordial laws of human 
beings is the basis of authority and of command in the Far East, The Mazdean royal 
"glory" (hvorra-i-kayani) is also the virtue of a supernatural intellect. And while 
according to Plato 16 the philosophers (οι σοφοί) should be at the top of the hierarchy 
of the true state, for him the abovementioned traditional idea takes on an even more 
specific form. For Plato, wisdom or "philosophy" is understood as the knowledge of 
"that which is," rather than the knowledge of illusory visible forms. The philosopher 
is one who can effectively formulate laws conforming to justice precisely because 
he has the direct knowledge of that which is supremely real and normative. The 
conclusion Plato draws is: 

Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have 
the spirit and power of philosophers, and political greatness and wis- 
dom meet in one, and these commoner natures who pursue either to the 
exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never 
have rest from their evils, nor the human race itself. 17 
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