Friends, I know indeed that truth is in the word I shall utter; but it is hard for men, and jealous are they of the assault of belief in their souls. ~ Empedocles
It was difficult to put aside the bottle of El Padrino anejo and a beckoning Cohiba to write this tonight, given the level of meaningless strife recently based on near total incomprehension and ignorance. But strife is not to be avoided, but rather overcome, first in oneself. So I am curious about what in Gornahoor is causing confusion. We have made clear that paganism arose without reference to or concern about Christianity, unlike neo-paganism which is a contemporary artificially constructed system based on a romanticized version of Odinism, a crude grasp of Nietzsche, and a rabid anti-Chrisitianism based more on Enlightenment criticism than any Traditional perspective.
Since there is less known of the Northern tradition, especially in any metaphysical way, we have been emphasizing the better documented Greek and Roman traditions. Guenon simply assumed the Greeks thinkers were inferior to the Asians, so he neglected it and Evola simply assumed that any properly educated man would know the historical background, so he never fully explicated it. Both assumptions are false, though in different ways.
There is real wisdom and an authentic tradition in paganism (properly understood) which we have endeavored to bring out, given the limitations of a blog. Alongside the rites of the city, there were the cults of the Olympian gods and the various mystery religions. Later, the philosophers would attempt in various ways to explicate the ancient wisdom verbally, signaling the shift from mythos to logos. One of the more interesting systems was that of Empedocles who builds on Orpheus, Pythagoras, and Parmenides.
We know of Empedocles from large fragments of two poems which Aristotle described as esoteric. Man in the primordial state was free of Strife under the reign of Aphrodite, the Queen of Love. God is Love as well as Logos and Law. Yet man fell from this state of innocence because of a primal sin, which created the world of strife. The sin was animal sacrifice, a rite of the ancestor worship. This is the path of darkness, or pitriyana, counter to which Empedocles offers the path of light, or devayana.
It begins with a stage of purification. Then, theoria, when the seeker learns the doctrine in an intellectual way, trying to understand it as a whole from the various parts. Finally, one achieves theosis, the state of the god-man; Empedocles himself claimed to be divine. This path is the same as in the mystery religions and is still followed today by the monks on Mt. Athos. This is summarized in ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God’, since, according to Empedocles, only the like can know like. That some see in this doctrine merely a concession to weakness is just another sign of the times.
Empedocles teaches the cycle of existence. In our cycle, we pass from the Reign of Love which is unity and harmony to the Reign of Strife, which is separation and evil. This cycle ends when Love is freed from Strife and brought back to the unity of God.
For further reference:
Reality by Peter Kingsley
From Religion to Philosophy by F. M. Cornford
As for the Mt Athos reference, a manuscripts of missing part of Empedocles’ poems was discovered in a monastery in 1851.