People making first steps on the path of sacred knowledge, or what some call “spiritual path”, try to follow the habitual pattern of modern education.
They join groups that have high reputation in their eyes or eyes of their older friends, and then study there, moving from grade to grade until becoming the vice-chancellor (or Grand Master, or mason of whatever degree), which means adding just one more diploma to their virtual resumé; however this is nothing to do with the real goal of any traditional path of knowledge which is a priori transcendental. It does not belong to the plane of mundane achievements or success, it is higher than any “apex of one’s career”, it is bigger than the life of the body. It is beyond anything any formal human society can provide.
1. Time of Knight-errant.
…L’officio non è condizionante, ma in perfetto
allineamento con lo spirito della Magia che sta
nella liberazione da ogni tramite ; un mago vale
per quel che “può” nudo in una isola deserta.
One cold November afternoon about ten years ago I was having tea at the office of Terra publishing house in Moscow with its chief editor and one splendid Russian writer who had presented me with their new collection called “Unio Mistica”. Among other topics we discussed possible ways of spiritual development in the new millennium; I remember the hosts at some point expressed an idea that the time of individual quest is over, that it is no longer possible to liberate oneself alone, as an “independent being”, that now all people that have stepped on a spiritual path should join hands and lead the others (a nation, a state) and perform a great transformation all together. I sincerely agreed with them; at the time I believed it was right. I felt that the path of seclusion had become barren, and the retort of physical individual had to be depressurized, letting the fumes of sublimation unite in one common cloud of spirit.
I was wrong.
Experience is the basis of any Opus, from fixing a stove to creating a Body of Light. Actually, our embodiment in this world, as well as passage through different states of being, makes sense as an experience in first place. We (or our true self to be precise) collect experiences from many lives and reoccurring events, adding the acquired comprehension little by little to the body of perfection – or rather peeling off ignorance, delusions, false ideals, ghosts and amnesia. “Us” means our experience, and if we die having on record only someone else’s thoughts, looked-through books, hearsay truths and the dusty bag of “common sense”, the tragedy of our death is comparable to that of miscarriage.
There are many different stages in life that depend on Fortune (or “circumstances”), on intuition, on mechanics of karmic effects, and on the grace of God. Every stage provides us with new achievements, new ideas, and new tasks. However, in the very center of our life there is a vertical pole on which we spit dry leaves of the facts of our life, and without which it would be an incoherent herbarium scattered by the wind, or just “broken glass in our dry cellar” as one poet put it. We have this pole from the very moment of birth, and if we did not succeed to discover it, we are not worth much as actors of the play of existence. Because in such a case we are not main characters, but rather extra in full makeup – thoughtless, waiting for indications of an assistant director, appealing to the world very much like that anecdotal Russian revolutionary Vladimir Sno: “Please fill me with the content!” Those ones who have discovered this pole, who seek support just in it and nothing else, can endure any transformation, survive any catastrophe, and even “change sides” remaining themselves. When such people are reproached of “betrayal”, or “change of opinion”, or “compromise” on something, it means their critics do not understand that the pole is still the same, it cannot change, and it’s only their – critics’ – perspective of related experience that has actually changed. The knot of individual self is not just a point in space; it is also a point in time. Is there any difference between two works of the same author written before he or she acquired Philosopher’s Stone, and after the achievement? One is written by an alchemist, another – by an accomplished adept; however they are equally valuable, because an alchemist that has found the right path is already an adept in eternity. Bernard Trevisan, aged and ill, gave up on the last cooking, on the last effort to achieve the final goal, because after sixty years of hardship and toil he eventually found the Ariadne’s thread… Is it really that important, will you see the exit from a labyrinth or not, when the thread is already in your hands? You know that now you’re free, and you can die wherever you want, either outside or inside the labyrinth.
My personal experience of the last decade, including biographical events, travels, letter exchange, reading and thinking over the books, creative work and disappointment with the results – in short, experience of digesting and sublimating the matter of existence – convinced me that the beautiful idea, mentioned in the beginning of this text, is inappropriate at this time and place. We all are disconnected culturally, politically and intellectually, our language has become emasculated after decades of meaningless verbiage pouring out of TV, tabloids and “popular fiction”; obviously, we badly need a spiritual basis, the one in the heights, in order to change the things down here. It is true. However it is no longer possible for us as people – not a nation, of course, but “people of Israel”, speaking biblically, or even more precise, the “subterranean folk” from Antony Pogorelsky’s tale “The Black Hen” – because it is proven to be impossible these days to build a solid kernel of several initiated individuals that could attract and unite people around it like a powerful magnet and form of them an organized structure. Last century witnessed a number of such attempts: Julius Evola, René Schwaller de Lubicz, René Guénon, Giuliano Kremmerz and many others tried hard to realize such a society, and every one of them failed. Their experience proves that this bulwark has also fallen, and in our individual quest we have to challenge Archons and orkon of the inferior world as lonely souls.
Problems of the inner circle were manifested already in the beginning of XX c. No one of the above mentioned initiates succeeded to build a kernel that would meet all the traditional criteria and would be strong enough to stand hard blows of Kali. Neither “Ur”, nor “Krur”, nor “Myriam”, nor “Ordre du Temple Rénové”, nor “Veilleurs” ever achieved that status; they hardly survived few decades. And longevity is not that important here as is ability to sprout, to give a fruit. For instance, “Confraternita Terapeutica e Magica di Myriam” could boast just of two Magisters admitted as such by the founder of the group Giuliano Kremmerz, and both of them had been initiated and achieved their status before joining the fraternity. “Myriam” did not brought up a single member that would make any considerable achievement; this was the main reason of disbanding the group announced by Kremmerz in 1926, and this fact was (and is) simply ignored by those who continue to lay claims to the brand. The very heart of that group, “Ordine Osirideo Egizio”, was “frozen” by the beginning of WWII, and it seems like there are fewer and fewer grounds to revive it despite attempts are continuously made (and possibly will be).
Can a seed unable even to sprout become the centre of a garden? Everyone at least superficially familiar with the principles of traditional organizations knows that they should contain an initiatic kernel; it plays the role of a seed that once having sprouted then feeds the stem of the organization (a church, a fraternity), and eventually brings the fruits, perceivable in the “outer world” on material level. When a fraternity or a church denies its living roots, its initiatic kernel, when it instead accepts a dry mummy of dogma as its only basis, and some myopic political or social ”gains” as its most important goals, it destroys not just itself as organization, it destroys trust in efficacy of religion or spiritual brotherhood in general. Exoteric ritual is the pulp that feeds and protects the seed of inner circle; René Guénon insisted that the former is crucially important for any tradition. However, it is worth mentioning that the pulp that hides nothing in its heart will rot without any profit – or rather be eaten by flies, squirrels, hogs and other cunning representatives of the “outer world” to their advantage.
“If the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men”. Everyone remembers those words; however, nowadays they often throw the salt away precisely because it is too salty. The same hesychasm is too bitter in the belly of Eastern Orthodox Church that chases any opportunity to blame it for heresy. No wonder, since hesychasts do not participate in social and political life and do not encourage such participation. They have no intention to ecstatically embrace government’s initiatives, or publicly bless manslaughter for “the righteous cause”, or play political games with the “competing” churches. They are concerned with the one and only thing: monastic practice. For what reason then should socially active, patriotic and politically correct leaders of the church consider those weird people their “kernel”, and follow them? What can a refined expert in scriptures and Swiss watches actually learn from a monk wearing a darned cassock? Oh, how outdated.
Well, let us come back inside. What does now prevent a group of initiates to unite their knowledge and striving for truth, and create a magic seed? And why when it happens does the latter quickly disintegrate and loose its functionality? Probably, for the same reason the hesychastic order is being rejected by the body of the Eastern Church. You may call it separation, or personify as “one that separates” (diabolos in Greek) – our own ego. The closer we are to the end of the aeon, the harder is that conglomerate and more difficult it is to dissolve it. How can envy, jealousy, pride, careerism find its way to the heart of an initiate, establish itself there, and completely conquer it in the end? And still that is exactly what the history of esoteric societies shows us, including those mentioned above. In my opinion, the initiatic knowledge in possession of such a person is profaned no less than it would have been when accidentally fallen in the hands of a profane. Of course, profaned knowledge remains what it ever was as information; however it loses its magic transforming force, its ability to perform anamnesis. And it can regain that quality only with the help of an unselfish and purposeful person, and only for him- or herself. Because that person has only to try to organize any formal group or hierarchy, and those “weaknesses of human nature” will immediately rush through the cracks in the hearts of participants contaminating the relationships inside the group the like a virus, and soon everyone will catch that flu – those who were careless as well as those who were on their guard, unless the latter leave the circle in timely manner.
The Tiger is in a rage now, his run is too swift, and we, having seized the skin on his back, do not look exactly like winning jockeys. We ride our personal striped beasts, and the only thing we can do for our neighbour is to scream out something we have succeeded to understand, hoping that it won’t drown in the gusts of the wind. We are all alone with our tigers, and it’s time to school ourselves to solitude, because even less populated shores are expecting us ahead.
2. The Doom of the collective choice.
…After many centuries of monotheism we cannot feel deeply
the authenticity of badness, the existential autonomy of evil.
Monotheism, originally a purely esoteric teaching, having fallen in the hands of uninitiated (or better in their hearts and brains), eventually led to the total degeneration of the free will principle due to distortion of the concept of oneness and the concept of diversity that took place in the spiritually and intellectually undifferentiated materialistic society.
Projection of the celestial hierarchy into the area of mundane initially was effected with the light originating in the point of the first Principle and passing through the hierarchical levels of higher forms, the shadows of which are material forms and phenomena of the manifested world. Outside that ray of light any connections between the elements of earthly hierarchy are illusory, and it is no longer a hierarchy but a plane (mistakenly called “sphere” of material phenomena). However the line connecting the eye of an observer down here to the source of light above us touches the area of higher forms first; their nature has to be cognized, otherwise that area will remain opaque, and the top of the hierarchy unreachable in the true, informal sense.
In human culture the higher forms, noumena, are often represented as deities whose nature is described by means of a myth. Only those who are truly familiar with that sphere, ontologically “dwellers of Pantheon”, can be monotheists in the strict sense of the word. Pythagoras, addressing his pupils in the famous “Golden verse”, called them to honor gods, heroes, and orcs (i.e. daimons of the lower world); however, he never spoke of the One the Most High for Unity has no name and no attributes, it cannot be scrutinized from outside (because there’s no “outside” possible).