It should be said that this article is about “Traditionalism” within the Philosophic and Esoteric terminology.
In other way a certain branch of thought, not simply people being “traditional in the everyday (very relative) sense of the word.
I should also say that it is not a protest (in lack of a better word) against actual knowlegdge (as oppose to make belief or wishful thinking, innovation for the sake of innovation). I believe in actually learning the real thing before trying to improve on it.
The Traditionalist looks back to some Golden Age where people where wiser and culture richer. Often they see the world as it looks today as “fallen” or less perfect than this earlier world.
This is fine as long as one calls it what it is, mythology or legend (which does NOT mean untrue or useless).
Historically i cant find any evidence of such a time.
When exactly should this have taken place?
Often their own organizations (in the case of Orders and other such esoteric groups) make links back to this or that glorious past and earler historical or legendary organizations.
There where times when some Freemasons actually, literally thought that their organization(s) stemmed from the builders of the Temple of Salomo and the Knight Templars. In the 60´s Wiccans sometimes actually believed that there was a pagan cult all over Europe and that vast number of its members fell victim to Christian persecution in the witch trials.
I dont object to having an “inner mythology” or an origin myth as long as one KNOWS it is a myth.
My own part of Sweden was according to our sagas ruled by the Gods Odin and Freyr. They where part of the royal house of Ynglinga during the migration period.
However, from a historical point of view that cant be taken seriously (who knows, there might have been two kings “called” Odin and Freyr for symbolic reasons, had these nicknames or where even named Odin and Freyr. Having names after Gods is not unusual in our, or many other cultures. There are people today named Thor, Freya, Saga and so on too).
In fact our whole ethnic group is named after a nickname of Odin, Geats (Götar) , after Gauti, a name Odin used among us.
There are to my knowledge no Swedish people today that takes this literally.
It should be noted that in Norse the term “Gullaldr” (Golden Age) is an age AFTER Ragnarök ( Norse mythologys version of Armageddon) and thus in the future.
The Brahma Yugas (ages) are cyclical, thus after 5000 years a new Golden Age takes over after the Iron Age (not to be confused with the Iron Age in historical periodicity).
Many peoples, tribes and even the Romans had founding myths. Many clans trace their heritage back to some legendary or even Divine person. That however is not history.
My own esoteric motto is RiG. Rig is the Norse God who formed the classes of men (the usual three layered class system of Indo Europeans, Norse style), something Evola, for example would have loved (Elitists always assume they are part of the elite). Written out in full it is “Revertere In Gloria” which has both a personal meaning but also conects to the L.V.X formula (the dying and resurecting sun, or simply death/resurection).
I personally belive in founding myths and think they are useful, as long as they are taken as myths.
I dont dispute gathering time periods under a system of periodicity either.
Whether Greek , Hindu Yugas, Thelemic Aeons or Astrological Ages, as long as it is seen as mythological, esoteric themes, NOT historical ages.
One thing that Guenon is very much against is syncretism.
At the same time, perennial thought or the idea of an underlaying (or overlapping) truth or wisdom connecting all esoteric wisdom and permeating all religions is in itself per definition syncretism.
Funny enough there are members of todays esoteric organizations (like the Golden Dawn) who look towards Guenon, seeing themselves as part of “tradition” when in fact they are obviously extremely syncretized.
Dont ask me how they puzzle that together?
Guenon himself would have most likely regarded them as “psuedo religion” (his owm term describing Theosophy and many other syncretized movements which he saw as spiritually subversive).
In this there are two insults based on ignorance masqued as wisdom and knowledge.
1: Syncretized religions are less valid than “pure” ones.
The fact that there is no such thing as a non syncretized religion doesent pose a problem for monseur Guenon.
2: It implies (like all thought of an absolute truth or wisdom permeating all “true” religions) that “You guys all really believe what i do, you are just to stupid to realize it”. Akin to the New Agy concept “We all believe in the same God”.
In Indo European religions there is often a God (usually chief) weilding a hammer or axe, causing thunder as one of his phenomenons (Thor, Perkunas, Perkele, Perun, Rimmon and so on).
The Yoruba and Dahomey peoples of West Africa also have a Divinity weilding an axe, causing thunder, being a protector and warrior and upholder of moral and stability named Chango´.
Like Indo European religions they have an axis mundi / world pillar (symbolized by the Ponton Mitan in Vodoun).
Does this mean that there is some absolute cosmic truth behind it all or simply that people realized that when their axes struck stone it produced a spark?
And that they might have fastened a string to a peg to produce a perfect circle when building?
Guido Von List is not usually counted among the Traditionalists (too syncretized and Blawatsky influenced?) but has the same tendency of psuedo history in his Armanism (and so does Ariosphy in general).
True, there ARE signs of sun woprship in (historical) Bronze Age petroglyphs but appart from that he builds up the same glorious past of his bestest friends, the Aryans, as other Traditionalist do around their bestest friends (and no, i´m NOT implying that Traditionalists are generally anti Semitic. Guenon was clearly anti Facist for example. ).
Julius Evola is another Traditionalist which is also connected to anti Semitism and Facism.
This makes me wonder if the same effect that in founding myths might make people feel special or distinct, empowered and with a source doesent easily tranform into a a rigid intolerance, dogmatism and elitism.
Funny enough Traditionalism is often connected to Perennial Philosophy and the idea of a universal truth or philosophy underlaying all exoteric traditions, religions and cultures.
At the same time, a “setting appart” of oneself, ones order, etnic group or other clique is often part of it.
How can you be universal AND elitist?
And howcome you always end up in the elite group?
I have never heard anyone say “there is an absolute truth and a superior race but i belong to a crappy order, belong to a pariah class, follow a false teaching and belong to an inferior race, and thats the way it is supposed to be.
I exist to serve those superior to me”.
It is a bit like all who experience their former lives always turn out tyo have been Cleopatra or Napoleon (Funny enogh, Evolas real first names where Giulio Cesare, Julius Ceasar. This however was not intentional on his part but was his actual name).
Another funny thing as we talk about terms is that i often hear a protest againt Post Modernism from Traditionalist despite the fact that many of the traits found in Traditionalism are more Post Modern than modern (like the return to certain traditions, a reinissance if you will, but a distrust of institutions and modern society). As a matter of fact Evola was part of the Avant Garde movement in the 1920´s which would make him a Modernist.
His works with sex magic and Tantric Vamachara pushed the boundries and i would argue that one of his more interesting traits was that he renewed, not conserved.
Funny enough the same people who find his work interesting are the same who critisize Crowley.
After all, renewing, pushing boundries,sex magick and Vamachara are just as much traits of Crowley and Thelema, with the difference that Thelema focuses on the individual rather than the collective.
This makes it even more strange that Traditionalists being more Modern and thus should belive in an Objective truth more than the Post Modernist are also the ones following a rather fabricated and fantastic history, rather than the one presented by sciences such as archeology, history, linguistics and anthropology.
“Radical Traditionalism” refers to a worldview that stresses a return to traditional values of hard work, craftsmanship, local culture, tribal or clan orientation, and non-material values in response to a perceived excess of materialism, consumerism, technology, and societal homogeneity. Most Radical Traditionalists choose this term for themselves to stress their reaction to ‘modern’ society, as well as their disdain for more ‘recent’ forms of traditionalism based on Judeo-Christian and early-Industrial Age values. Radical Traditionalism is often allied with branches of Paganism that stress a return to old cultural values that predated the existence of the state system”.
As i often stress to certain Heathen and Pagan “Traditionalists”, Traditionalism isnt that traditional.
True that innovation for its own sake is equal to throwing out the baby with the bath water more often than not, but still innovation itself IS a tradition.
So is adapting to circumstances.
Any esoteric worth his name knows that stagnancy is not wished for.
Still waters rot.
The otherwise interesting Fritchof Schuon make a
Criticism of Relativism and Freudian Psychology
In his essay ‘The Contradictions of Relativism’ Schuon wrote that uncompromising relativism that underlies many modern philosophies had fallen into an intrinsic absurdity in declaring that there is no absolute truth and then attempting to put this forward as an absolute truth. Schuon notes that the essence of Relativism is found in the idea that we never escape from human subjectivity whilst its expounders seem to remain unaware of the fact that Relativism is therefore also deprived of any objectivity. Schuon further notes that the Freudian assertion that rationality is merely a hypocritical guise for a repressed animal drive results in the very assertion itself being devoid of worth as it is itself a rational judgment.
Many schools of esoterica makes clear that rational thought is not the superior vehicle for epitemological studies.
That doesent mean that we shouldnt use rational thought, as well as any other faculty we posess.
Another thing he misses as he takes up the “weakness” of Relativism (which btw it seems Relativists are fully aware of as a general rule ) is that if everything is relative, relativity must also be relative and thus everything must be absolute.
Sure, one of the relatives in Relativism IS the absolute, but that is just one of them.
Funny enough many Traditionalists turn to Islam and Sufism (which is fine.). One would expect them to look for the esoteric versions of older religions.
To me there is an obvious need of BOTH new thought AND tradition.
Initiation, actually learning a discipline before trying to add to it (which would simply be arrogance), an avoidance of ethnocentrism, context, sources.
As well as a distinguishing between history, cult and myth are all part of any spiritual developement.
I might be seen as a Relativist, or more properly a Pluralist, but the Traditionalists have a place in my world and my respect as a world view, i dont have a place in theirs and my views, even the ones supported by science are just “pseudo religion”.
The strictness, law and discipline of of Geburah AND the freedom, openess and expanding of Chesed creates Tiphareth.
Or alternatly (to be relative even in my metaphors), the pushing trough, ambition and breaking down of Geburah AND the comfort, sytem, wheel like, upholding of Chesed creates Tiphareth.