Extra Ecclesiam non est salus – without (outside) the Church there is no salvation. This was the motto of the Christian Church during the Medieval Era, and (supposedly) that which is objectionable in the Church today – the neo-pagans argue that the Church assimilated and reduced what it could not destroy. This argument is actually true, but not in the sense which the neo-pagans intend it to be. The Church did indeed enter a phase of development which represented a diminution, but it was not because it had combated paganism, but because it had decayed the patrimony which those same pagans had entrusted to it.
Specifically, the Church rejected the tripartite definition of man which had been handed to it by those who converted into the Church because they saw something worthy of merit which completed their aspiration. The Fourth Council of 869 AD (note that Constantine had long ago “done his dastardly deed”) repudiated a sophisticated, metaphysical view of man’s nature in favor of something more exoteric and easy to understand.
Though the old and new Testament teach that a man or woman has one rational and intellectual soul, and all the fathers and doctors of the church, who are spokesmen of God, express the same opinion, some have descended to such a depth of irreligion, through paying attention to the speculations of evil people, that they shamelessly teach as a dogma that a human being has two souls, and keep trying to prove their heresy by irrational means using a wisdom that has been made foolishness.
Therefore this holy and universal synod is hastening to uproot this wicked theory now growing like some loathsome form of weed. Carrying in its hand the winnowing fork of truth, with the intention of consigning all the chaff to inextinguishable fire, and making clean the threshing floor of Christ, in ringing tones it declares anathema the inventors and perpetrators of such impiety and all those holding similar views; it also declares and promulgates that nobody at all should hold or preserve in any way the written teaching of the authors of this impiety. If however anyone presumes to act in a way contrary to this holy and great synod, let him be anathema and an outcast from the faith and way of life of Christians.
The esotericism of the Church which had survived Justinian’s codification was declared out of bounds. The time of this council was well after the “Roman” phase of the Church had ended, after the chaos of the Dark Age invasions by Lombards, Franks, etc. The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) was essentially struggling to maintain what it could, both of the Greek connections & the ancient Roman ones. John Romanides has some helpful articles detailing the unintended consequences of Charlemagne’s adoption of Rome. Although he is incorrect to exaggerate the damage done from a proto-Greek perspective, he is certainly right to perceive that the chaos of the Western invasions did immense damage to all Roman institutions. Conditions in the West were so bad that Church fasts were lifted in order that populations might eat meat in order not to starve. For the West, it was the Roman Church, or nothing – Chaos. It is unfair, then, to assume that perfect freedom of choice was exercised when the Church “misplaced” or misunderstood its patrimony. Esoteric meaning can be lost in the best of times (just look around you); how, then, can we assume a deliberate error? Instead, one ought to look for what is best.
The case of Iceland proves the point; one man’s respected voice won a reprieve for paganism there, but only a private toleration – this man was actually a pagan priest. Additionally, the main proselytizing was done on the basis of “trial by battle”, a conflict in which (apparently) the archangel Michael came out over the berserkers, rune curses, and armies and storms of the pagan Gods. And what was the price? Not to eat horsemeat, nor to expose the infants at birth to the elements!
Note, also, that the conversion was done by royal decree & blessed by a heathen seer who had converted :
Shortly after Olaf Tryggvason became King of Norway he decreed that the old faith should be discarded and replaced with Christianity. His decree extended also to the islands of Shetland, Orkney, and Faroe.
When news of Norway’s conversion reached Iceland, it was received by many with great anger. “It is monstrous,” they said, “to forsake our ancient beliefs.”
But Njal, a respected leader known for his ability to foresee the future, replied, “I support the new faith. I believe that Christianity is a better religion than our old one. Those who accept it will be happy.”
The rune magic which was supposedly lost was already very weak, just as Druidism had already been proscribed through battle and law by the Roman Empire. See, for instance, the account of the battle at the Isle of Anglesey. Christianity actually preserved many remnants of paganism and gave them (arguably) a new life. This is not to minimize the bigotry of (for instance) Norman priests in England after the Conquest, but is merely to recognize that the policy of the Church towards paganism is not a simple matter of clear-cut answers. Surely, if paganism had been potent at that point, St. Boniface and others would not have been able to hew down sacred groves for firewood? When King Edwin converted based on the famous sermon with its analogy of a sparrow flying through the hall, from one door to the other, the instance proved that paganism had already lost the metaphysical knowledge of its own rituals.
Steiner and others offer a different account of what was occuring at the time, which has an attraction neo-paganism lacks – it is esoteric. It purports to be the revealing of the inner-ness; neo-paganism (on the other hand) seems to (often) an appeal to a neo-liberal conception of ultimate “freedom of religion”, rather than a cosmic account of history.
Perhaps the most brilliant and influential proponent of this Arabian culture were the Caliph Haroun al Rashid and his associates, in the Eighth Century AD. This culture was, as indicated above, brilliant in a way, but was also anti-evolutionary in that it failed to appreciate the Christ-Impulse and was infected with the Sorat/Ahriman influence from Jundi Sabur.Around this time the cosmic Intelligence began to “fall to earth”, out of the rule of Michael and in the “heads” of Men; the Pan-Intelligence becoming individualized, personal intelligence. This process was a preparation for what was to culminate after the dawn of the Consciousness Soul Epoch in the Fifteenth Century: that Men were to experience their thoughts as coming from out of themselves, as a personal intelligence in individual freedom. In 869 AD the fateful Eighth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople declared to be heretical the doctrine of “trichotomy”: that the Man is body, soul and spirit — thus effectively “outlawing the spirit” in Western Christendom, and plunging West-European mankind ever more deeply into material experience. While this Council was happening on earth, in the soul/spirit world Haroun al Rashid and his associates, who had recently died, conferred with the individuality of Aristotle and associates: Alexander and the “Aristotelians”, together with the “Platonists” and the Knights of Arthur’s Round Table. In this meeting Aristotle and his associates resolved to bring to earth a renewed and Christianized wisdom suitable for the epoch of individualized intelligence of the Consciousness Soul, but al Rashid and his party remained opposed to this Christianization. Subsequently, on earth, the Arabian impulse was carried forward by philosophers such as Avicenna and Averroës, who upheld a decadent and retrogressive quasi-Aristotelianism, which denied human-spiritual individuality surviving death. And the Platonists descended to earthly incarnation, up through the Twelfth Century, as teachers of the Christianized Nature-wisdom of the School of Chartres. (This wisdom later inspired Bruno Latini, and consequently his pupil Dante.) In the Thirteenth Century the Aristotelians incarnated into the Dominican Order, wherein, with the help of the Platonists then in the spirit-world, they upheld the doctrine of human-individual intelligence and immortality, in the subtle conceptual thinking of the Scholastic “Realists”, as against the Arabian philosophers. The greatest of the Scholastics was Aristotle himself, incarnated as Thomas Aquinas, the proponent of the reality of Pan-Intelligence in the form of concepts — the “universals” — and of the reality of human-individual experience of intelligence. — After the end of Medieval culture and the beginning of the Consciousness Soul Epoch, al Rashid himself incarnated as none other than Francis Bacon, the fountainhead of modern, Ahrimanic scientism. (Paradoxically, Bacon was inspired by a high Initiate, who also inspired Shakespeare, Jacob Boehme, and Jacob Balde. [Karmic Relationships, Vol. II] Again: evolution is not a simple, two-sided conflict between “good” and “evil” — in a way, a nominalistic-empirical science “had to” enter cultural development.) Ahriman intends to make the now-earthly human intelligence entirely, overly individualized and personal, so that it degenerates into mere cleverness, driven by lower instincts and divorced from universal reality. But while Baconian science gained ground on earth, in the spirit/soul world the Platonists and Aristotelians convened in a “school” under the leadership of Michael.
No matter what one thinks of Steiner (and keep in mind Evola’s definition of re-incarnation), this account is at least a “mystery” account of the secret history of the world, rather than a Romanticization of an era which we are at least as completely detached from, collectively, as we are from the world of traditional Catholicism. Certainly, the prohibition of the Holy Spirit at that council would explain the submersion of the esoteric stream in the West, so that it had to re-enter the Western world via Tomberg, Solovyev, and others much later on.
Without the restoration of the tripartite doctrine, the veredictum of history on the Church will risk becoming that of John Keat’s on the clergy of his day:
Axioms in philosophy are not axioms until they are proved upon our pulses: we read fine things but never feel them to the full until we have gone the same steps as the author. The Consecration was – not amusing – there were numbers of carriages, and his house crammed with Clergy – they sanctified the Chapel – and it being a wet day consecrated the burial ground through the vestry window. I begin to hate Parsons – they did not make me love them that day – when I saw them in their proper colours – A Parson is a Lamb in a drawing room and a lion in a Vestry. The notions of Society will not permit a Parson to give way to his temper in any shape – so he festers in himself – his features get a peculiar diabolical self sufficient iron stupid expression. He is continually acting. His mind is against every Man and every Mans mind is against him. He is an Hippocrite to the Believer and a Coward to the unbeliever – He must be either a Knave or an Ideot. And there is no Man so much to be pitied as an ideot parson. The Soldier who is cheated into an esprit du corps – by a red coat, a Band and Colours for the purpose of nothing – is not half so pitiable as the Parson who is lead absurdities – a poor necessary subaltern of the Church -
This sad state of Churchism as opposed to Christendom will come to pass, not because neo-paganism was correct in assuming the Church to be an alien usurper upon the Northern heritage, but rather, precisely because the Church failed to preserve a heritage given it by those very pagans who converted, and failed to have it restored by those pagans who picked up their mantle and immediately denounced the world their ancestors created. This is because they are dubious metaphysicians, and incline rather to a “poetic” view of history; even the poets knew better than that:
This is the very thing in which consists poetry; and if so it is not so fine a thing as philosophy-For the same reason that an eagle is not so fine a thing as a truth-Give me this credit-Do you not think I strive-to know myself? Give me this credit-and you will not think that on my own account I repeat Milton’s lines~“How charming is divine Philosophy
Not harsh and crabbed as dull fools suppose
But musical as is Apollo’s lute”
“Dear Unknown Friend, do not interpret what I am saying in the sense that I am opposed or even hostile to the above-mentioned societies, fraternities, and movements of a spiritual and initiatory nature, nor in the sense that I am accusing them of an anti-Christian attitude. Do not attribute me with a lack of respect for the mahatmas and gurus of India. It is a matter here only of the purely psychological tendency (that I have been able to observe something of everywhere) which prefers the ideal of the superman to the ideal of the Son of Man.”