Paganism 2.0

I see and approve what is better, but follow what is worse. ~ Ovid, Metamorphoses

I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. ~ Paul, Romans 7

For some reason, there are some who think it is a simple matter to simply create a religion de novo, often with the intent to trick a population into pursuing some desired end. Historically, however, starting with an existing, respected religion and adding onto it seems to have a better chance of success. Recent examples include Joseph Smith with Mormonism and Mary Baker Eddy with Christian Science.

For a variety of reasons which are not important for our purpose, there are occasional calls for a return to a pre-Christian paganism. This if often tied in with the belief in a more “natural”, almost Edenic, lifestyle, unpolluted with the Christian consciousness of the loss of original innocence. Unfortunately, that state never existed, as our epigraph shows. Rather, the pagan was also in torment, feeling himself tied to a fate beyond his control, or at the mercy of boons and banes coming from the gods.

This is not to deny that a noble attitude could not arise, far from it. But the modern neo-pagan does not believe in that in the same way. Moreover, the “mule” of neo-paganism is burdened with things few want to return to: raids and conquests for personal gain, human sacrifice, slavery, a real metaphysical pluralism, and so on. A new paganism, therefore, should build on what currently exists and try to move beyond it.

We can point to two attempts in the 20th century at a new pagan philosophy: Julius Evola and Charles Maurras. Although much of what they believed is anathema to the modern world, their systems are worth investigating, if only for historical interest. At a minimum, they set standards for intellectual rigour.

Magical Idealism

Evola rejected the neo-pagan project. He even asserted that the neo-pagans would be better off joining the Church than pursuing an impossible reconstruction. Rather than back-tracking, he proposed, it seems to me, a post-Christian paganism that wants to recapture a certain nobility of spirit without resuscitating the dead mule of paganism.

For example, Paganism 2.0, in his view, would have to incorporate the spirituality of the Middle Ages by separating its pagan elements from the strictly Christian elements. This brings to mind Psyche’s task of separating the various grains from the pile. In other words, it requires a super-human effort.

Now Evola took the concept of “person” as central, even writing more than once of the “dignity of the person”. The Person, moreover, is a Christian concept, not part of the pagan mindset. Evola also rejected polytheism, since a philosophical pluralism is non-Traditional. Nevertheless, his idea of God seems to be a “god in evolution”. That is, God exists to the extent that the Self achieves the Absolute Self. So rather than pluralism, Evola actually defends solipsism. Guenon regards a belief in an evolving god as “Satanic”.

So what are his raw materials? First of all, there is his philosophical system of magical idealism as expounded in three books (Phenomenology of Magical Idealism, Theory of Magical Idealism, Essays in Magical Idealism) plus the “Yoga of Power”, that is, Tantra Yoga as mediated by John Woodroffe. Magical idealism draws on German and Italian idealism, with insights from Otto Weininger, Max Stirner, Carlo Michelstaedter, Friedrich Nietzsche, Rene Guenon, of course, and various Eastern and Western occult, esoteric, and spiritual traditions. It certainly is an interesting mélange.

Beyond that, Evola wrote books on Hermetism and Buddhism. Although the history of Hermetism is entwined with Christianity, as a post-Christian pagan, Evola attempted to extract its aspects that suited him. He also proposed a form of Buddhism, which I don’t believe actually exists.

This seems to have been a purely intellectual exercise, since, apart from some experiments in the Ur/Krur group, there was no actual esoteric path for the actualization of magical idealism. Since Evola was not fond of priests, there was no basis for an esoteric chain. The post-Christian pagan society would be ruled by a class of nobles and warriors, with the priestly role relegated to secondary importance. Perhaps they would be suitable for the merchants and serfs, but the nobles and warriors would follow the ethos of magical idealism, even if they couldn’t understand it.

I’ve heard from two young men who claim to be studying Magical Idealism in a systematic way. Perhaps something will come from those efforts.

Positivism

The French Revolution shook up Europe at its foundations. The old regime, based on religion and aristocracy, holdovers from the Middle Ages, was suddenly replaced by a revolution from below. That revolution overturned the established order of things. In its aftermath, the distinction between the Left and the Right arose: the Left was in a state of permanent revolution, while the right was nostalgic for throne and altar. The best representatives of that tendency are Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre. Anyone interested in the actual “Old Right” needs to start with them.

From that experience, there arose the mathematician and philosopher, Auguste Comte. If the old regime could no longer support the established order of things, he looked for that support instead in science. His philosophy of Positivism regarded as real only that which could be experienced. Hence, he created a hierarchy of the sciences, based on the object of experience. He regarded the soul faculties of thinking, feeling, and willing as experiences, thereby avoiding the scientific reductionism of the positivists who came after him.

Because his system was conservative, and had space in it for the “higher” impulses in man that religion had previously claimed for itself, his ideas gained some traction. In particular, he had influence in South America because his social policy was compatible with Catholic thought. Brazil’s flag includes one of his mottoes (“Order and Progress”), although I haven’t met a Brazilian who knows where it came from.

Charles Maurras was one such thinker who considered Comte as his mentor. He also looked to Catholic social theory, as it was then being formulated by the popes starting with Pope Leo XIII … that was the original “third way” between socialism and capitalism, although neglected today. His other influence was Ernest Renan, the historian who gave up the priesthood and wrote the famous history of Jesus instead. Although he wrote it as a secular history, he wasn’t destructive, since he still recognized the ideals of religion while denying its supernatural content. Maurras also took much more from Renan, such as his ideas on nationalism. Nationalists today should follow that cue, rather than the enraged irrationalities coming from neo-pagans today. Nevertheless, such ideas will be pretty indigestible in Western nations today.

In France, Maurras brought Action Française to its peak of influence and popularity. It brought together secularists and Catholics, since they could agree on social issues. Catholic teaching is that such doctrines are knowable by natural reason, so there is a legitimate reason for cooperation. Even figures like Jacques Maritain and Rene Guenon were supporters of Action Française, until it was condemned by Pope Pius XI. When Pius XII lifted the condemnation, the damage had been done and it never recovered its former prestige. Atheistic secularism was given free rein in France.

Neo-pagan, nationalist rightists would do well to look to these figures for their intellectuality and emotional detachment, since they actually had a following. There is a reason that neo-pagans are not take seriously today.

7 thoughts on “Paganism 2.0

  1. “The evolution of self towards an absolute higher self is not so much that one thinks one is an evolving god, but that one is evolving , what might be considered godly traits and principles and behaviours , the proof of such is then always presented to others through your living existing self.”

    The manifested vehicle of the being is purified, like cleaning a crystal, so that the uncreated Light may properly reflect itself in It. Change is experienced on the relative level of manifestation, but the Reality that is realized is always so, even while (from the relative perspective) being clouded by individual avidya. My “issue” was only with the idea as expressed in Cologero’s reference to Evola, for that conception—i.e., that God ONLY exists inasfar as He is manifested by an “evolving” self—and that completely regardless of whether or not this was in truth the more mature post-philosophical Evola’s understanding—is a metaphysical absurdity and not part of any Traditional doctrine. The things you say have a degree of relative truth as far as it goes, but must be understood in light of the more essential truth I pointed out in my previous post. These states, however, are “acquired” through an act of grace from Heaven, through the overflowing Power of Absolute Reality, and do not originate as a product of lower causes, nor do they arise through evolution on individual initiative from below, almost as if constructing a Tower of Babel. Individual efforts on the relative level are necessary conditions for letting what is transcendent in regards to one’s individual limitations descend into effective manifestation, but such striving is not at all the essential cause of awakening illumination. No self-determined action can control the wu-wei of the Dao. Becoming generates more becoming. There is an alternative beyond both being driven by self-will and being passively dominated by the world, neither of which is the Way—neither of which can lead to transcendence. Both the clinging to the “I” and the clinging to the world, mistaken these for Reality, are dead-ends. The true value of the I is when it voluntarily and sacrificially lets itself be transcended, when it faces its own relativity and shadow-like nature. The ultimate transcendence is not something that is “done” or “achieved” by the individual. It is something “done” by the Absolute. Clinging to an “evolving” self, one might perhaps be able to attain some realization of the lesser mysteries (at great danger of falling into counter-initiatory traps), but the greater mysteries are out of the question.

  2. Extra piece – I concur to evolas evolution of the i as translated by @ C , but i had previously added my own “possible godly insertion ” onto evolas absoluteness which satisfies my idea of the “godly deflection” which in the example last october manifested through my substitution for the “privation” aspect or extension to it …..
    which allowed me still to adhere to evolas ideal but also adding my own ideal which not so much opposed evils but added to it for my own selfish concerns .

    which went ……

    “In Evolas theory , the evolving i is admitting its not a cause of all the representations it encounters and those it has not caused are just due to an insufficiency in that i-developments full comprehension of their apparent spontaneity , a privation.
    So now i am proposing that the spontaneous activity that meets the i is “indirectly” present-conscious-wise but directly from the deeper-spiritual acquired emanation from that i development , i.e. the progress of evolving the i also co-creates a deeper parallel evolution of the spiritual level of that i .
    Then by introducing the prospect of benevolent and malevolent non-physical entity / entities , that do generate the very so called spontaneous activities that meet each and every i.
    Then another possibility arises that when an i has evolved to a certain level of evolution , it has aroused a particular higher response from benevolent entities that do co-ordinate with its will to be, but also if that evolved i were to somehow choose from temptation a lower level of will to be in the selfish kind, then these benevolent influences, back off, and if the degeneration continues , malevolent influences take the lead .
    It is also then probable that all stage 1 i consciousnesses , also incur benevolent and malevolent influences in relationship to their inner level of purity of intention , or some form of pre-ordained status or acquired status from their encounters with spontaneous challenges to date.
    So the key difference in the evolving i is that the individual is actually raising the level of both their ability to receive joy. pleasure , meaningfulness, and their counterparts , increasing their human state into a super state which results in them increasing power over the nature of their existence and others they encounter . But also there is some form of higher ethical demands put on them as they rise in the consciousness .
    This theory then still allows the phenomena of synchronicity to be a form of benevolent communication , and also allows evolas absolute i to consciously conclude its absoluteness having no requirement to consciously recognise that its has amassed a large amount of benevolent entity influence that does appear to arrange much of its spontaneous activity as “expected activity”
    Just a thought ”

    but today , as always, i am still open to others ideas

  3. The evolution of self towards an absolute higher self is not so much that one thinks one is an evolving god, but that one is evolving , what might be considered godly traits and principles and behaviours , the proof of such is then always presented to others through your living existing self .

    So the self is not just adhering to these higher states but attempting to acquire and be them through a living experience in actions after which they then themselves become a living example to others … to the level of self they currently are at ……in this manner of existing, they are not just a worshipper , they are trying to become something that both has more meaning and acquires more meaning from existence and all this then leads to giving their life meaningfulness, because it is not a static , stay in the pen , situation, even although everyone is in variable types of pens always, they are testing and treating existence as a direct feedback loop of a mysterious connection to this “god” that can only ever have an indirect communication through rebound or reflection , but by evolving the self , they feel that they are closing the gap of intimacy with this mysterious god that can only ever communicate to humans through deflection.

    Obviously in this type of commitment there are many potential dangers, most especially from the very self itself that is evolving and can inadvertently amplify certain areas of negation in itself that can bring it to a critical state of seizure , but worse than this is that , in that over-amplified state, it requires someone else to point to the problematic source ,which can also conveniently occur through deflective process, after which it can retune the navigation through a little humility .

    But the more important thing is that what someone thinks about how an experience may be and how an experience then is, often do not correlate in retrospective reflection, so in this confirmation, one knows for sure the absolute value of “action” in its revelatory certainty over the pre-action presumed state.

    And as every action then must surely alter the self in some manner of speaking , there is no other option but to evolve the self , otherwise life itself will forcefully evolve it, and some people don’t quite like how that turns out , although there may also be some that do.

    But id rather be able to say …ive got no one to blame but myself for how i end up, as far as my means to actively choose were concerned

  4. “Nevertheless, his idea of God seems to be a “god in evolution”. That is, God exists to the extent that the Self achieves the Absolute Self. So rather than pluralism, Evola actually defends solipsism. Guenon regards a belief in an evolving god as “Satanic”.”

    Guenon was right. Such a view, as you present it here, is luciferian and characteristic of the ‘counter-initiation’, in Guenon’s terminology. It is hardly a Traditional concept. But is that really what Evola meant? Evolution is a process of change brought about by causes and conditions, the “dependent co-arising” spoken of by Buddhists. This belongs to samsara and relative truth. Since Supreme Reality, Ultimate Truth, the Absolute, is unconditioned, it cannot be “produced” by an evolutionary process determined by causes and conditions. The “attainment” of the unborn, unoriginated, True Self (satya-atman, a term that is actually used by the Buddha in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra) is only possible because it is ALWAYS the ever-present Absolute Reality (“form is the Void, the Void is form”): it is only from the relative point of view that anything is “attained”; from the viewpoint of ultimate truth, the conditioned self does not “achieve”, almost as its own creation, the Absolute Self, for Supreme Reality, being changeless, remains always what It is, and nothing in relative phenomenal existence can exist without THAT. If only what is realized within Evola’s conditioned consciousness is real, and Brahman is only fully real when Evola has realized it for himself, then the Supreme would be a product of causes and conditions, and hence wouldn’t be the Supreme. The higher doesn’t “evolve” from the lower. This is a most basic principle of Tradition. Only because the Absolute remains Real no matter how darkened one’s individual consciousness may be, is it possible to re-awaken to It. But even the exceptional and extremely rare sage who is liberated in this life, is still conditioned by relative existence in his outward manifestation, even though he has realized supreme knowledge of the divine essence inwardly. Thus, in one sense, he may still praise a Reality that is Beyond his particular condition, if considered in his individuated and limited manifestation, even though he has fully realized that their Essence is the same. But in neither case, either in terms of relative truth or ultimate truth, can there be said to be any evolution as far as spiritual awakening is concerned. The Absolute remains the Truth and the only sovereign Reality completely independently of any particular and limited individual experience. And THAT is the ONLY Absolute Reality. One cannot establish on an individual initiative any rival Absolute Self beside that already established Absolute Self. As an individual and conditioned being, either one remains subordinate to It (like the creature in the monotheistic religions), or one “wakes up” within that Source, without any change having taken place on the ultimate level. And if the Absolute is a truly established, ever-present Reality completely independent of human limitations in “individual” realization, then the same is true of the dimension of reality that is the “Personal” aspect of the Principle, the Pure Being, or God, which is why knowledge of this reality, as well as union with it (virtual in this life, completely effective when freed of the conditioned residues of the human corporeal state) is at all possible: as an ontological level it is always actual, principally preceding our own state and supporting its existence, being closer to the Absolute in terms of the perennial outflow of emanation, with no need of being directly known by a conditioned individual consciousness in order to be Real in Itself. No matter who seemingly knows it, the truth is that it is the Principle Knowing Itself.

    “If you think that first it was defiled and later it became pure, it follows that it is impermanent. From the vantage point of Dharmata [highest Reality], first it was not impure, later it did not become pure. Whether it seems defiled or pure depends on the individual’s mind-stream. Just because individuals change their perspective, it is wrong to conclude that Dharmata is changed.”
    – Taranatha

  5. Max,

    To overcome privations one must simply turn to the Good. Wherever there is any degree of reality there is the Good. Where there is not the Good there is not just privation but negation and thus nothing.

  6. One of the problems with Evola is that despite all talk of asserting masculine values, he sometimes approaches a kind of feminine solipsism. It seems that a true masculinity would have to acknowledge the feminine as well, internally and externally, for creation is not complete without it. Grounding ourselves in positivism, we have to. Otherwise we commit a similar fault as regarding the world as evil, but on a microcosmic order. Drawing from previous posts, it seems the way to overcome a “privation” is to love it.

  7. You are injecting life and vitality and psychic magnetism into history Cologero , on this area ive quoted
    ” his idea of God seems to be a “god in evolution”. That is, God exists to the extent that the Self achieves the Absolute Self. So rather than pluralism, Evola actually defends solipsism. Guenon regards a belief in an evolving god as “Satanic”.
    I myself feel that i cannot choose conclusively between these 2 states of belief , so although aware of them both, i am proceeding with evolas but with an eye to guenons and expecting to evolve an ongoing enlightenment for myself about the mysterys of god as long as i adhere to certain principles and ethics of existing .

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