Saturday, November 23, 2013

Restoration, Revival, Renaissance

The order of these nouns is deliberate. Secular humanists desire to have the last without either of the first two, particularly and most insistently, the first. Christians are generally unconcerned or even aware of the first, & if it is brought to their attention, they become truculent. The third also escapes the notice of many of them, who have been relegated to the merchant or warrior castes, or who have been converted while being laborers or even shudras. In fact, one of the primary dogmas of this era is the idea (variously expressed) that “you can’t go back”, that “(all) change is good”, & that “new is always better”, and almost no one dissents from it. (Wendell Berry hilariously points out that if using a computer is a new idea, then not using one is an even “more novel” one.)

That is why it is important to pursue one’s vocation and caste, as well as practice the “lesser mysteries“, rather than spend too much time worrying if one has attained supreme Enlightenment. Because in the New Age worldview, to not have reached the summit of Mount Parnassus is to not have done anything. This reminds one of A. Jarry’s evil motto – “Until we’ve destroyed everything, we haven’t done anything“. This bastard-like, ungrateful, and rebellious attitude has transferred itself out of the failed 60′s movements, & into the “mainstream”. Nowadays, if someone doesn’t have visions of the angels, adopt children from foreign countries, and float through life in a haze of super-tolerance and up-to-date information, then why possibly bother? Beware of thinking like those who are masterless and rebellious.

Tracy Lee Simmons points out in Climbing Mount Parnassus that
The foundations of the modern world are viewed more competently from this (the “classics”: study of Greek/Roman civilization) height. Poetry, drama, democracy, idealism, scientific curiosity, and so much else furnishing our minds are better grasped, and better judged. We drift without classics, floating on our own deracinated, exiguous islands. And we become fodder for demagogues. We need not a revolution, but a restoration.
I will give you an example. Alcibiades, in Thucydides’ History, defines democracy as the concern simply that the good of all be given due consideration, rather than merely the good of a few (the non-slaves). Now Alcibiades was bargaining for his life with the Spartans, to whom he had fled in exile, so perhaps he was being disingenuous. Nevertheless, even the villains and knaves of ancient history have an unpolished grace that should make us blush. Jose Maria Gironella in The Cypresses Believe in God, has Ignatio say that he defines socialism as the belief that the “rich shouldn’t have everything, and the poor nothing”. Rather than hate democracy uncategorically, perhaps it would be better to examine it & to see where it legitimately applies (eg., local self-governance) & where it becomes an ersatz religion, a demon, and a false God.

In the context of real Restoration, of that which is always True & is always so & abides forever, a great many false dichotomies and catch phrases dissolve into clarity. GK Chesterton, for instance, attempts in his Agrarian and Distributionist thought (which he bases on Hillaire Belloc and other Catholic thinkers), to demonstrate what “Christian democracy” actually meant, rather than what it came to mean detached from God, the soil, and all wisdom.

Therefore, the first thing or first question is “what constitutes Restoration”? As Jacques Barzun notes of education, it is dangerous to look too closely at the object (like staring at the sun, or trying to see the Pleiades head on), because the growth of “education” (or Restoration) is a slow, intangible, and subtle process which is difficult to assess. It might be better, argues Barzun, to stick to teaching Latin, Greek, chemistry, and the rest of the traditional subjects well (just a few of them), and let “education” occur like the growth of a tree. So, work at the destined work of your vocation; practice what lesser mysteries Providence brings to your attention; & assiduously and patiently cultivate your spiritual garden. You are climbing Mount Parnassus.

If one is drinking from the fountain of Tradition (which can be increasingly recognized the more and deeper draughts one imbibes), then you need not fear to lose the way. Alain de Lille (doctor universalis, d. 1203) wrote of the “intelligible sphere whose center is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere” because he had drunk from it. And where did he find such wisdom? Of course, first of all, he had read or been told of such a hermetic tradition. Yet also, it is said that he was preparing a lecture on the attributes of God, and had gone down to the Seine River bank to walk. He met a young child, who had dug a hole in the sand. The teacher told the boy he was lecturing on God tomorrow, and asked what he was doing. The child said, “I am putting the river inside of this hole”. The doctor laughed heartily, and said there was no possibility of that, that his purpose would fail. The boy looked at him, and said that it would be equally impossible to speak of God the next morning. Alanus was shattered, and although he showed up the next morning, he tore his robe off, & without another word, strode out of the university to join a monastery and find the answer to the riddle. God will speak to you in homely terms, in the lesser mysteries, in exoteric religion or philosophy, as surely as in the greatest terms, & the Christians assert that this is due to the Incarnation.

Incidentally, for Christian readers, I will recommend Coleston Brown’s Magical Christianity (the source of the Alanus de Lille story) as a sourcebook for uncovering the Tradition hidden within their own religion. It matches well with Iamblichus’ progression of the first ten numbers, and we shall see if it has any correspondence with the zodiac of Hercule’s labors, as well.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hercules’ Ninth – The Girdle of Hippolyta

Thucydides the Athenian notes that of pre-history, he is obliged to accept what the poets say, although certainly this is unsatisfactory, and the poets are not to be trusted. Since Thucydides was an Athenian, he presumably shared in the general blase attitude which they took towards the rites and rituals. The Spartans would postpone invasions if the auguries were inauspicious, whereas the Athenians did not hesitate to tear down temples dedicated to the gods and fortify them as watch towers. The Spartans consulted the Delphic oracle before waging war, and the Athenians held a democratic (or oligarchic) debate. So we see that the rationalizing outlook is nothing new, for the Athenians defended themselves from charges of impiety by using the excuse that they were compelled by war’s necessity, which was a general law of nature, and that the gods would understand this. They didn’t reject the gods, they merely re-interpreted them, since occasionally a philosopher could offend even their sensibility enough to run the risk of impiety charges. In fact, with their maritime Empire, democracy, riches, and political expediencies (see the Melian dialogue), the Athenians seem to be a very “modern” people indeed.

Those who struggle to undertake Hercules’ labors should take heart that these trends and currents against which they swim are in no way a novelty. Did I mention that Athens lost the Peloponnesian War against Sparta? It was the hubris of their Sicilian Expedition which did them in. Hubris is always present when the gods are disrespected. Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. Immersing yourself in Tradition is one way of “not going mad”; the ancients knew that poetry, myth, legend, and religion were important ways of practicing waking up before one was even fully awake. At least if one goes “mad” during the epicycle of Tradition, there is a cure available within the cycle, since it is “all of a piece”. As we see with Hercules, making human detours or mortal mistakes do not derail him on his path. This is not merely because God “favors” him, but because Hercules is acting a part – that is, he is “acting” above himself, rather than mimicking that which is below him. He is rising to his true Self, doing the opposite of what a play actor does. If you tell a man, “God is Light”, that still requires either a) an epiphany on his part, or b) more explanation. But if you tell him, that in order to go to heaven, he has to pass the three headed dog and travel by the path that borders hell, in the shadow of the dark forest, and save the maiden who waits for him, then he can begin to understand.

In this episode, our hero does quite a bit of killing. As I’ve tried to explain to some liberal friends, if it’s worth dying for, it’s probably worth killing for in some way, as well. Although I don’t fully understand what Christ meant by “those who live by the sword, die by the sword”, there are other Bible proof texts, as long as people are asking.
Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword.Matthew 10:34
I came to bring fire to the earth and how I wish it were already kindled! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.Luke 12:49-51
And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.Luke 22:35-38
Hercules will end up adventuring among the Amazons; Hera comes down, and stirs up their ire, as it would appear that Hercules’ power and charm (by itself) would have overcome them. Only Hippolyta is untouched, but she is doomed in her act of going to Hercules to aid him. Did Hera’s rage affect our hero, as well? We think that a touch of it did cloud him, here.
Diodorus Siculus[29] enlists nine Amazons who challenged Heracles to single combat during his quest for Hippolyta’s girdle and died against him one by one: Aella, Philippis, Prothoe, Eriboea, Celaeno, Eurybia, Phoebe, Deianeira, Asteria, Marpe, Tecmessa, Alcippe. After Alcippe’s death, a group attack followed.
In another version, Hercules’ takes Melinippe (Hippolyta’s sister) captive, and successfully exchanges the girdle in return for her life.

For most versions, after the mob attack on Hercules (which fails), Hippolyta storms to his rescue, but Hercules thinks she has betrayed him, and strikes at  her with the inevitable result.

The Amazons are connected with the city of Troy, & came to its defense during the siege. Coupling this with the episode of Dido & Aeneas (in which Aeneas inadvertently kills Dido and her love by leaving), we can say that the Amazon theme has a strong association with the trajectory and rise of the hero. They come after the affliction, & before the exultation and triumph. The rise of Roma is under the occult name of Love.

Hera is clearly a retarded element in the myth, but the Amazons are not. The girdle had been given by Ares to the queen, and represents feminine power to stand as a man against men. When Hippolyta exchanges the girdle for her sister, she is returned to the world of sisterly and feminine existence. She is tempered and made flexible. Hercules’ death blow may or may not be literal: there is an exchange between them which destroys Hippolyta’s warlike status & leads to Hercules’ obtaining of the girdle.
We have to note that Hercules is not seeking the girdle out of hatred for the Amazons. It is part of the given quest, & Hercules isn’t going to boast about it or even wear it. Hercules’ adventures were the subject of a good deal of contemplation during the Middle Ages. The allegorization of Hercules was not restricted to Christian thinkers, & there were even Tarot cards which used the Hercules motif. In general, we may fairly say that Hercules has by right always been understood as symbolizing the strong man of the real self, who overcomes the lower self and even its own self. Indeed, the theme remained popular through the Baroque era, up until very modern times.

Why make much of the “true Self” and “false Self”? Well, for one thing, we don’t see Hercules sleeping his way through the adventures by bedding a bunch of females. At the most, we reach any hint of that in this story, and only a hint. We don’t find him killing indiscriminately or widely (during this adventure, he does kill some men, but desists when kinsmen of the king are offered in exchange for his fallen comrades, and the Amazon battle is self-preservation). He is not “tempted” in any conventional way, with delights or ease. So the medieval and pre-medieval interpretation is legitimate: Hercules is not a masterless man.

Alice Bailey drew parallels with the Zodiac & the meaning of Virgo, one of the oldest signs. What comes after his death-blow to Hippolyta is instructive:
“Hippolyte is the Queen of the Amazons, a great race of women warriors, to whom Venus, the Queen of Love, has given a girdle, the symbol of unity, motherhood and the sacred Child, achieved through struggle. Traveling to the shores of her kingdom, Hercules fights Hippolyte and kills her for the girdle. Too late, he realizes that Hippolyte had not put up any struggle but offered the girdle to Hercules freely, under instruction from God. In a state of shock, Hercules sets forth to redeem this failure. While journeying back to the shores of the sea, he hears the screams of the beautiful Hesione being attacked and then swallowed by a sea monster. Hercules swims furiously out to sea to rescue her and, as the monster turns on him, opening its mouth to roar, Hercules rushes down the red tunnel of its throat, grasps Hesione and hews his way out of the serpent’s belly. Thus, after slaughtering the feminine principle that gave him what he needed, Hercules makes amends by rescuing that which also needed him.”
What is being uncovered here is the falseness of the corrupt feminine principle (Hera and the mob Amazons) and the new Woman called into being by the progress of the Hero: the man is acquiring firmness without brutality, and the woman is acquiring docility and flexibility without dishonor. Man becomes divine, Woman becomes eternal, together, but in a different way.
Hippolyta is a perfect Dido, and is moreover the perfect woman (although belatedly). Hercules responds by essentially becoming a Christian knight. With this adventure, we have entered the world of the Middle Ages and their romances, deliberately satirized in Don Quixote. But rather than becoming Orlando Furioso, Hercules acts directly. In literary words, Hercules takes the path of Dante rather than the path of Faust; he is open to vertical change, and avoids meandering and wallowing in self-pity, regret, manipulation of Nature, or stasis.

In the liberal world, we are offered a “God Without Thunder“. In this world, God must act according to our preconceptions. Thus, YHWH is guilty of genocide and the worst forms of ancient prejudice and violence, and is a veritable demon, whereas Jesus becomes a prophet-sage who aimed at freeing man from all darkness with the news that “God is Light”. This is the new civil religion for our time. It delights in opposing false anti-theses, in order to develop facetious syntheses. The opposite of this is to peer deeper into the mysteries of existence, & this is done, not through rationalization, but (for most people) legend, myth, history, poetry, and religion. These traditional forms are analogue and temporary substitutes for Right or Pure Reason: they are “practice”, like children playing at sword-sticks – it is also deadly serious, but a form of play. The first card of the Tarot enjoins us to turn “work into play”.
For Hercules the warrior knows there are monsters at large, not least of all in his own heart, & that they must all be conquered, slain, or transformed, as may be. Evil exists, & there is really no way to get God off the hook, rationally speaking. Either one begins the path by piety, submission, and respect for the higher power which tasks you (in which case these higher powers differentiate themselves into Hera/adversary and Zeus/protector, and the end of which is apotheosis and divinization, in which the hero is united to the separated divine) or else you try clever and abstract mental gymnastics. The liberal worldview has chosen the latter, & it is far easier to simply rewrite, ignore, or ridicule Tradition than to take up the cross, and follow the path of the hero-turning-knight. Is there a third way? I do not believe that there is. You can only see more deeply into what is already true, what is already old, what is already there. There is no revolutionary resolution or higher truth that preserves the profundity of Tradition, while somehow transcending the thunder of the Gods which offend our sensibilities. One will devour the other, and this itself shocks the sensibilities!

The temptation here is to mental passion and pride, which is why Gornahoor for Lent last year recommended a “mind fast” rather than a food fast. The myth clearly walks the initiate through the cycle of the Zodiac, and includes not only detours and failures, but also conspiracies and meta-conspiracies, as well as a varied array of monsters. It is, in other words, psychologically and spiritually both replete and complete. It can stand alone as its own veritable natural Gospel, were the coming of Christ hundreds of years off, because it is the primordial Truth in the first place.

When Hercules walks away with the girdle, but then goes and saves the maiden on his way home, & then surrenders the war-relic to his adversary as proof of passing the tests, he has “learned justice and mercy” by triumphing over the passions of vengeance and lust and the temptation to use the rod of iron in the cause of human wrath or personal gain. In each labor, he proves that he has deeply assimilated the implications of each previous lesson learned, even as he stumbles.

The point is not to avoid failure, but to get back up. That was always the point to begin with. The quest doesn’t end, until Hercules is done acting on each lesson learned. Fate is now weaving itself around the hero, rather than weaving the hero around Itself. Ducunt volentem Fata, nolentem trahunt. Hercules, exposed warts and all, is now ta’veren. His deeds are increasingly judged only by his own conscience, & by God. The shallow and base will call out (as they do against God) “you have waded through slaughter to a throne!”. But Zeus & Hercules & Hippolyta know that he is becoming a parfait and gentle knight.
What does it mean? As late as the last adventure, we saw the growing conspiracy, which comes out into the open now, using an arm of humanity (the mob feminists of the day) against the hero in a berserk manner. Hercules stays focused on learning personal lessons, and will not allow himself to be cowed or bullied either inside or out. He stays focused on the lesson, even when failing it. And because of that, he cannot fail.

Is this not the hidden meaning of “all things work to the good of them who love the Lord”?

Sunday, November 3, 2013



When one begins to experience the full effect of the “Times” we live in, it becomes obvious that there are a multitude of factors at work. Cologero has pointed out the increasing complexity and speed of events in the Kali Yuga. Although at first and superficial glance this would strike one as entirely negative (as the rate of “Change” at first is so excited as the preclude the inhibitions of right reason and the evidence of unintended and logical consequences) it is also apparent that a particularly high rate of change begins to have the opposite effect – people quickly, within their lifetimes, see the necessary outcome of events which they misjudged in their youth. The brain no longer has to anticipate the event – events come full circle within years or decades. This is increasingly the case in our own times – a good many converts to Tradition come out of the fog of chaos.

It is by no means certain, however, that the full cycle is possible for many. Some simply die along the way, either physically or morally or spiritually. What is contingently different is that in one physical lifetime, many have the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of Chaos simply by “living” and surviving long enough to be bludgeoned into Tradition by Reality itself.

The first step in Anti-Tradition was to cast aspersion and doubt upon first principles so that one said with Pilate “What is Truth?”. In the West, this was both the cynicism of the Renaissance and then the open infidelity of the Enlightenment. Then came the open confusion of Good with Evil, so that each could be transposed: “Woe unto those who call good evil, and evil, good,” said Isaiah. In our case, Romanticism signaled the initial onslaught, which culminated in moral relativism in our own day. So what comes after this? Naturally, the third and final stage (which is analogous to Divinization in the Christian tradition, after Purification and Enlightenment) is the utter inability to tell up from down entirely, so that Reality itself is confused with Delusion and Insanity. Because Time has sped up, the moral relativism of the 1900-1960s is quickly passing into the delusional insanity of the post-Clinton years, in which the Psyche becomes impotent to discern what is mere wish-fulfillment and what is actually real. See this blog (for instance) for an in-depth analysis of this mindset, which came to full bloom in the 1990s. There is a fourth stage after the third, for the simple reason that after the third, when all reserves have been used up in subsidizing the degeneracy of the avant-garde elements, complete and total collapse is the inevitable outcome of these multiple co-morbidities. This is what is spoken of as Chaos.

For an analysis of this process on the purely physical plane, see the Archdruid Report. But it operates on all planes.

How long this Dark Age (which will be a true Dark Age that makes a mockery out of the propaganda which portrayed the Middle Ages as “dark”) lasts is up to, quite simply speaking, a spiritual elite.
It is obvious from the increasingly compressed time periods of each stage that we will quickly and shortly (within our lifetimes) enter the final phase. Thus, it is not a mere theoretical imperative to begin to work on the Self, and to plant the seeds of the Future, but a necessity of the highest moral and spiritual order.

Where will we find this order? Will we find it by cobbling together scraps of Nietzsche with a new populism? Here is what the Russian Church says: we should not succumb to “a fruitless populist radicalism”, in order to fight the rising threats of immigration and multi-culturalism. Multiculturalism itself exists globally outside the ivory towers of Western decay only as local cultures flattened by globalism. The bitter experience of One World united by post-Christian capitalism is the fuel which stokes the rationalizations of those who theorize it. So that the enemy is actually the post-Christian economic order, an order emanating from New York, London, and Berlin. Steve Sailer calls this the “invade the world-invite the world” strategy. The true and ancient enemy is not the alien among us, but rather the mind behind the mask which connives and schemes and manipulates that presence, which wishes bad fortune to come upon the lower cast. As Mencius Moldbug puts it, the State Department has an interest in keeping the American military busy extending its boundaries over seas, rather than tending to home affairs.

But who to blame? Should one assign responsibility, if it cannot be found? Should one, in fact, infer it?
I do not believe that this is a noble course of action for the truly resolute, for those who follow the path of Hercules. Does Hercules concern himself over-much with Eurystheus and his plots? Does he rage against Hera of the jealous eyes? Does he mutter indignities against the powers-that-be?
He pursues the mark relentlessly, yet almost casually. He has made the burden light. This making the burden light is what those who prophecy gloom miss. They do not feel equal to the challenge. I feel obligated to point out that the Dark Age ethos which is so often feted by the New Right was in fact likely lead by a transmigratory elite of nobility, as the intrigues by Celtic chieftains against Julius Caesar often made clear. It is far from clear to me that what was happening wasn’t actually a family affair, in the sense that various initiates, chiefs, warriors and their on-hangers engaged in the leadership of the various bands or tribes of men living in the North of Europe. The genetic and clannish unity was an accidental by-product of a culture focused on high Northerness. Indeed, this appears to have been the normative pattern throughout Europe until our own day, & the pursuit of such actually gave an accidental advantage to those of “Northerness”, en masse. The subtle ruled, and benefited, the dense. Without that subtlety, it is just more “fruitless populism”, I fear.

All the same, it is good (as Jeeves says) to “know what tune the devil is playing”. It is certainly wise and prudent to assess and measure and identify one’s spiritual adversaries, to maintain a sort of casual and detached regard of their latest fads and pursuits, and to know their names. Has anyone forgotten how Italy provoked France’s star player into throwing away the World Cup? It’s useful to know weak points in the make up of the adversary.

Hercules is unmoved, both by the presence of his own Moriarty (replete with numerous henchmen), and by the presence of even preternatural intervention and conspiracy. In fact, he stands their worst blows, and turns the injustice upon its head. It is not personal, for him, but rather, an occasion for spoiling the Egyptians. Is he not the son of Zeus? What is coming, however, from his triumph, will lead to the complete vindication of every possible injustice, and upon every scale and in every aspect, which was thrown against him.

The path of heaven contains the plan for such a perfect vindication for those who are worthy of it. Since our enemy will have nothing but a fight, then victory will accidentally be part of this. It is said, in fencing, that one should look, not at the sword, but at the eyes, of the opponent. So I have heard it said…