We must be ready for a profound event in the divine order, toward which we are marching with an accelerated speed that must strike all observers. Terrible oracles already announce that the time has come. ~ Joseph de Maistre, Soirées de Saint-Petersbourg
Herein, we review the following books:
- Seven Archangels: Rhythms of Inspiration in the History of Culture and Nature by Emil Pales
184 pages in full colour, linen hardcover with dust jacket, format 190 x 135 mm, 115 colour illustrations, 105 diagrams
- Contra Mundum: Joseph de Maistre & The Birth of Tradition by Thomas Garrett Isham
- The Templars: Knights of Christ by Regine Pernoud
- Studies in Freemasonry & the Compagnonnage by Rene Guenon
First of all, we should mention that the book itself is a work of art. A finely crafted hardcover printed on glossy paper with dozens of illustrations and diagrams. It even comes with a purple ribbon for bookmarking. The appendix is also of interest. It is comprised of a series of seven images of the angels by the artist David Newbatt, along with a detailed interpretation.
Emil Pales is a philologist and mathematician living in Slovakia. His aim is to continue the theology of Sophia which was developed by Vladimir Solovyov. This involves, as we have pointed out, the synthesis of science, art, philosophy, and religion. He claims Goethe, the biologist Adolph Portmann, and Rudolf Steiner, as other influences.
The main idea is that the seven named Archangels are really the spirits of the seven traditional planets, viz., the Greek gods associated with them; he even traces them back to the Babylonians. Each of the Archangels rules or influences a specific time period in human history. Using statistical techniques, Dr. Pales has documented periodic cross-cultural changes in human history. This book is an abridgment of the 1500 page Slovak version, which has more extensive supporting documentation. We miss the days when the educated would communicate and publish in Latin; there are only so many languages one can learn.
Dr. Pales offers this explanation:
Angelology is a spiritual astronomy. It is a science about introspective observation of phenomena in the spiritual sky.
Star and angel are used interchangeably in the bible, since angels are the spiritual intelligence of the stars. Just as the planets and stars have their laws and cycles, so too does the activity of the angels. Their activity can be noticed on three distinct levels:
- The evolution of the universe
- Changes in human culture
- The developmental stages in the life of the human being
The correspondence between the planets and the angelic intelligences was pointed out inTantra Vidya by Oscar Hinze. Using a totally different approach, he demonstrated that the correspondences between the chakras and the planets could not have arisen by chance. This would account for the third level. Dr. Pales goes further, showing that levels one and two are not random processes, but are rather the manifestation of deeper metaphysical laws. For reference, these are the correspondences noted in the book.
|Moon||Sin||Gabriel||The archangel of the Moon • Enlivener of nature • Inspirer of childhood and the Baroque • The most picturesque of the angels • Unrecognized by scientists and philosophers • The queen of the heavens is alive|
|Mercury||Nabu||Raphael||The archangel of Mercury • The patron of physicians, botanists and linguists • The geological age of Mercury. The birth of Gothic • The inspirer of rationalism and the Enlightenment • The joker and protector of youth|
|Venus||Innana||Anael||The archetype of love and beauty • The spirit of puberty • The muse of fine arts. Soul copper • Compassionate saints • Romantics, mystics and revolutionaries • Patron of alchemists|
|Sun||Shamash||Michael||The sun of truth • The spirit of the Paleozoic era • Michaelic art • Sun cults • The inspirer of philosophy • The history of democracy • The task of the present day|
|Mars||Nergal||Samael||Gods of war • The geological age of dragons • The universal conflagration • The rhythm of the goddess Eris • The twentieth century • New knighthood|
|Jupiter||Marduk||Zachariel||The god of the celestial dome • The geological age of Sagittarius • The patron of Indo-Europeans • The great kings • Renaissance aesthetics and thinking • The inspirer of geometry and geography • The soul blue of those in their fifties|
|Saturn||Ningirsu||Oriphiel||Soul lead • The geological age of Capricorn • The patron of hermits and emperors • Oriphielic geometry: the circle • Saturnian sciences • Every man is the architect of his own fortunes|
For the modern mind, this is all absurdity. Dr. Pales points out the three stages of decline that leads to our incredulity:
- First, direct experience of angels
- Then, mere verbal assent to their existence
- Finally, disbelief
Like Rene Guenon, Dr. Pales, traces the devolution of our understanding of angels to the waning of the Middle Ages. Apart from a few, people believed in angels, but without any gnosis. Angels then become the subjects of schlock art, but without any relevance to natural processes and world affairs. For example, I recently listened to a youtube talk by a Catholic doctor of theology. He scoffed at the notion that there are cosmic forces at play in the world.
To recover an interest in angels, in is imperative to understand who and what they are. Viz., they are discarnate intelligences. That means, we experience them in our thoughts, moods, inner images, etc. These inner experiences are so close to our identities that we seldom take care to obverse their real source. This book will serve as a guide to become aware of angelic influences in cosmic evolution, human history,
For the still skeptical, there are the many graphs and histograms demonstrating the thesis of the book by using contemporary research tools. Nevertheless, the events described are not due to impersonal, mechanical causes. Since angels have intelligence and will, there is ipso facto a moral cause behind the world process. This leads us into a discussion of Joseph de Maistre.
Joseph de Maistre
Thomas Garett Isham wrote the book Contra Mundum about Joseph de Maistre and his ties to esoteric teaching. In particular, he compares Maistre to Guenon in a fruitful way. He has previously written a few books on the Enneagram.
Thus, in this book we get an esoteric perspective on Maistre. The most influential essays on Maistre have been by the atheist Isaiah Berlin and by the nihilist Emil Cioran. As Mr. Isham points out, they both see in Maistre only a proto-fascist; yet Berlin condemns him and Cioran praises him. Obviously, such an anachronism does a disservice to Maistre. Berlin and Cioran are unaware of the Maistre’s deeper spiritual project.
First of all, he was intransigently opposed to the philosophes of the Enlightenment. Although a conventionally religious Catholic, he recognized the importance of the esoteric dimension, which was not opposed to exoteric practice. Thus for years, he was a member of a Masonic lodge. But that was at a time when it was more focused on esoteric ideas, before the Masons became a secretive political power. In particular, Maistre was influenced by the illuminist writings of Louis Claude de Saint-Martin. As Mr. Isham pointed out:
members were drawn for weightier reasons and they found the churches spiritually mediocre and ill-suited to the mentality of the age.
Maistre proposed three degrees on Masonry:
- The promotion of benevolent acts and the study of morals and politics.
- The promotion of the reunion of the Christian churches and sects.
- Seeking the revelation of revelation, the sublime knowledge that constitutes knowledge of man at the highest level, a transcendent Christianity based on factual research and metaphysical knowledge.
Maistre further adds:
This Science does not differ essentially from ancient Greek or Egyptian initiation.
Mr. Isham writes about Maistre’s interest in ancient pagan and Christian antiquity, particularly his high regard for Origen. He writes:
Maistre shared Origen’s belief that the planets were “alive,” part of a cosmos “created by and for intelligence.” Imbued with such notions Maistre went so far as to urge the Platonic idea that the stars themselves were divinities and to hold that at least some early Christians found this belief conformable to dogma and of use in their initiations.
Throughout his book, Mr. Isham points out some “amazing” parallels between Maistre and Rene Guenon. Obviously, they had common interests: the Primordial Tradition, initiatic organizations, esoterism, Masonry, spiritual hierarchy, reaction against Modernity and the Enlightenment. He then adds an extensive review of Guenon’s Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power. What Guenon makes explicit in a systematic way, Maistre held implicitly, scattered throughout his writings.
In our time, constitutions, whose origins are public and allegedly clear, are believed to be the foundations of the political system. Yet that is delusional, since there is debate about what precisely the constitution means. Hence, there is something deeper, and not fully understood, that is the real foundation. Mr. Isham explains Maistre’s opposed view:
In Maistre’s view, the origins of both spiritual and temporal authority are necessarily shrouded in mystery. For obscure origins are the hallmark of legitimacy. Miracle, ritual, the favor of heaven; all are part and parcel of the traditional order. Hence legendary or mythical beginnings, he insists, more adequately ensure the wisdom of the governors and the consent of the governed than the shaky parliamentary systems and man-made constitutions of modern dreamers.
In Contra Mundum, we have a work that deals with Maistre’s ideas as he may have experienced them, rather than as an academic exercise.
The story of the Knights of the Temple of Solomon has had many variations over the years. Some consider them as a holy Order of Knights that protected pilgrims to the Holy Land. Others see in them the founders of usury and deviant spiritual practices. More outlandish are the conspiracy theories described in various fictional accounts.
Curiously, the ultra-traditional SSPX organization has promoted the recovery of the Templars by making available a CD and a book on them. The book The Templars: Knights of Christ by Regine Pernoud provides an historical record of the Templars, based on primary documentation. As such, it is quite matter-of-fact in its approach. Although such an approach is informative, and even necessary, Pernoud does not address the deeper spiritual nature of the Templars. Presumably that is because the Templars did not commit such topics to the written word. Moreover, in an initiatic organization, the leaders would have been of a higher grade. The neophyte knights, on the other hand, would not have been privy to their deeper knowledge.
There is extensive documentation about the initiation rites, the daily life, the architecture of the Templar buildings, their many battles, their banking activities, and finally their arrest and trials. There is too much detail, e.g., their daily food productions, to mention here. What is amazing is the sheer number of Templar monasteries scattered across Europe. Their unique life as both monks and warriors must have appealed to a large number of men. In addition to the knights, a large supporting staff of sergeants, squires, and sundry other workers were necessary to sustain them. Although they were the recipients of largesse from the wealthy, each monastery was self-sustaining.
The story of their decline is disheartening. After years of success in the Holy Land, they started losing battles. Rivalry with the Hospitallers led to unnecessary battles. King Philip the Fair coveted their financial wealth. He had the Templars in France arrested on trumped up charges, with confessions made under torture. In that way, he aimed to confiscate their wealth. He pressured Pope Clement V to disband the order, thereby inverting the proper order between the spiritual and temporal authorities. Thomas Isham makes this clear:
By these actions, temporal power began to use spiritual authority for its own ends. Guenon says it is instructive that Dante attributed Philip’s action to cupidity, the vice of greed, the vice not of a Kshatriya but of a Vaishya. “We could say that when they enter a state of revolt, the Kshatriyas, as it were, degrade themselves, losing their own character and taking on that of a lower caste.
Templars and the Esoteric Tradition
In Studies in Freemasonry & the Compagnonnage, Rene Guenon includes a chapter on Joseph de Maistre. For our purposes, we are more interested in what Guenon has to say about the Templars and their relationship to Masonry. He quotes Maistre: “What does the destruction of the Order of the Templars matter to the Universe?” Guenon then responds:
But it matters very much, since this marks the point at which the West broke with its own initiatic tradition reaches back, a rupture that is truly the primary cause of the intellectual deviation of the modern world. This deviation in fact goes back further than the Renaissance, which marks only one of the principal stages, the fourteenth century being int actual staring point.
This corresponds to the time frame mention by Emil Pales. Although Maistre maintained their existence, he knew nothing of the actual means of the transmission of initiatic doctrines nor of the representatives of the true spiritual hierarchy. In the case of the Masons, Maistre noted that the beginning of Masonry coincided with the destruction of the Templars, but did not really connect those events.
The irony is that the last Grandmaster of the Templars, Jacques de Molay, who was executed by the Church, then became the spiritual father of the Freemasons, the sworn enemy of the Church. Moreover, both Masonry and the Church seem to have lost their initiatic character. Nevertheless, Guenon rather optimistically believed that the Great Work could be resumed in some other form. He explained:
Is this to say that such a Plan will never again be undertaken in one or another form by some organization with a truly initiatic character and possessing an Ariadne’s Thread to guide it through the labyrinth of innumerable forms under which the sole Tradition is hidden, in order finally to recover the Lost Word and leave the Light of the Shadows, the Order of Chaos?