Let me start by stating that I am only writing this piece as a follow up to BAP’s analysis of neo-paganism. I am not one for histrionics, nor am I frankly keen on involving myself with the current discourse. However, if there is a hunger for knowledge, for spirit, for metaphysics, then I will make the most of that opportunity.
I would like to start by elaborating upon an aspect of “sophisticated” polytheism which is rarely discussed: The scientific.
For most Westerners science and religion would seem to be two very separate spheres of thought, but this is not the case in the Orient, nor was it the case in pagan Europe. For these people science and religion were absolutely intertwined. That’s not to say, of course, that you didn’t have atheists and God-deniers in Ancient Greece or Rome, but even they likely found it difficult to shake the less dogmatic aspects of spirituality such as astrology, as can be seen in the writings of Ptolemy (the foremost scientist of his time).
It goes without saying that today, in the Orient, in China, Israel and especially India, science is absolutely intertwined with the traditional mysticisms of these Asiatic peoples. And why shouldn’t it be? Most recent studies in the field of quantum physics strongly suggest the existence of a spirit world, suggesting that “concrete reality” as we know it is a myth, an illusion, “maya” generated by the poverty of our consciousness. The double-slit experiment immediately comes to mind, but there are many others.
Unfortunately, despite the probable existence of spirit worlds and parallel dimensions, a revival of the old European paganisms seems unlikely, bordering on the impossible. Indeed, Carl Jung appears to have been correct when he identified a sort of religious dialectic within each race following the same familiar trajectory: thesis (paganism) – antithesis (Christianity) and synthesis (Gnosticism).
According to Jung eventually all cultures and spiritualities evolve towards the “Gnostic” framework, which can be seen in the Asiatic cultures of both Vaishnavism and Buddhism. I would go so far as to equate this “Gnostic” stage of development with Perennialism and its related schools of thought. Within the “Gnostic” stage of spiritual development, the soteriological essence of Christianity is preserved along with various elements of polytheism. As such, what was once a narrow path to Heaven (or the Monad), becomes many paths. What was once a method of control, becomes a method of liberation.
That’s not to say, of course, that Christianity does not have a place in the world, as it certainly does. I am merely stating that a gentleman with a scientific disposition must necessarily consider the value of long lost AND alien schools of thought. According to Tantric Hinduism, for example, there are limitless “Heavens” and thus limitless aesthetic possibilities. In terms of manifestation, this translates into limitless aesthetic possibilities here in the material realm. In fact, I would go so far as to say that these yogic “planes of desire” would accomplish the much desired “deterritorialization” that our thalassocratic sophists have been hinting at for the past four decades.
Now being at risk of descending into obscurantism, let me return to my central point. BAP in his essay identifies three modern strains of polytheism and we could categorize them thusly: philosophical, artistic, and intuitive. While the modern man may naturally gravitate towards just one of these approaches, it is my opinion that every gentleman in this era must necessarily synthesize all three modes of understanding. It goes without saying that these different approaches naturally intersect, but in the winter of our civilization man must go beyond this. Without a doubt, the gentleman of our era must master all three modes of understanding if he is to contribute to a new culture form, as it is only through the power of revelation, through philosophy and art, that the occult can give birth to new societal forms.
It is at this point that I would like to touch upon the essence of the Perennialist project. Many so-called Perennialists, such as Julius Evola, strove to reinvigorate Western spirituality and science by integrating the mystery schools of Africa and Asia. As many of you know, the general belief was that the mystical traditions of the West had degenerated and what remained was largely “counter-initiatory,” based on fragmentary remnants of Greco-Roman and Magian cultures. Theosophy, despite its poetic power, was placed in this category by Evola, as were Freemasonry, Thelema, and other similar schools of thought. To Evola, these sects had lost touch with the Gods and could derive little to no benefit from most of their practices (though he would admit the research conducted by these groups should be useful).
Evola was also skeptical of neo-pagans in his time, expressing many of the same concerns as BAP.
Baron Evola had this much to say on the subject:
“Certainly the word for pagan or heathen, paganus, appears in some ancient Latin writers such as Livy without an especially negative tone. But this does not alter the fact that with the arrival of the new faith, the word paganus became a decidedly disparaging expression, as used in early Christian apologetics. It derives from pagus, meaning a small town or village, so that paganus refers to the peasant way of thinking: an uncultured, primitive, and superstitious way. In order to promote and glorify the new faith, the apologists had the bad habit of elevating themselves through the denigration of other faiths. There was often a conscious and often systematic disparagement and misrepresentation of almost all the earlier traditions, doctrines, and religions, which were grouped under the contemptuous blanket-term of paganism or heathendom. To this end, the apologists obviously made a premeditated effort to highlight those aspects of the pre-Christian religions and traditions that lacked any normal or primordial character, but were clearly forms that had fallen into decay. Such a polemical procedure lead, in particular, to the characterization of whatever had preceded Christendom, and was hence non-Christian, as necessarily anti-Christian.
One should consider, then, that “paganism” is a fundamentally tendentious and artificial concept that scarcely corresponds to the historical reality of what the pre-Christian world always was in its normal manifestations, apart from a few decadent elements and aspects that derived from the degenerate remains of older cultures.”
Ah, a harsh analysis to be sure! But all too correct I fear…
So as to the way forward? What then? Christianity obviously can and must be tolerated. It is not only a spiritually valid belief system, but the foundation of European society even in our secular age. Despite its obvious shortcomings we cannot afford to be myopic in this area. No, what I propose is not a new religion, but a shift in the Western mentality. I am calling then for a revival of the “interpretatio romana,” for the assimilation of all foreign and ancient mysteries which offer us, the remnants of the European civilization, some sort of transcendental power. This can be done through any perspective available to us, whether it be German Idealism, Platonism, or their derivatives.
I am asking then for a new age of spiritual discovery, of metaphysical pluralism, but accompanied by the objectivity and discernment of the European man. One of the first steps that can be taken in this process is the reclamation of divination from histrionics and women; that is to say, the sciences of augury such as astrology, numerology, palmistry, et cetera. For too long these arts have been ignored in Western society, and I believe that if properly studied can offer Western man the compass necessary to rebuild his spiritual life. Remember, in the Orient these arts are dominated by men, many of whom belong to lineages of magicians stretching back hundreds of years. It is only in states of decay such as ours that these areas become dominated by women, homosexuals and the like.
Once Western man is attuned to the subtleties of the spirit realm, then I firmly believe that this spiritual revival will begin in earnest. And, no, it will not look like the current revival, but entirely different. From the plethora of cults and magicians, new prophets and belief systems will emerge— it is then, if you’re lucky, that a new culture form will emerge from deep within the collective unconscious of your race. I offer these comments in addition to BAP’s ideas regarding theurgy/the discovery of new Gods and spirits which I wholly endorse.