Every civilization on Earth has a form of mysticism. If it isn’t part of their present, it stands at least as a light illuminating their past and, ideally, informing their future.
Each form of mysticism has a particular flavor that speaks to the fundamental national character of the people. This mysticism may change clothes and forms, but its flavor and underlying essence remain constant. The Greeks may have abandoned their indigenous form of paganism, but their love of ritual and the character of their paganism lives on in Greek Orthodoxy. Likewise, the indigenous Japanese gods and the style of cosmology that is apparently fundamental to the soul of the Japanese people was seamlessly integrated into Buddhism and, were a new system to fully replace it, the underlying spiritual aesthetic of Japanese religion would still be present. The fundamental essence of a spiritual practice comes from the heart of the people. It can be suppressed, but if it is allowed to flourish, it will make itself known in any time and place.
We can see this most clearly in ourselves, in the mirror that is the history of the spirit of Western man. The tradition of Western philosophy and introspection is older than or as old as most religions—we could say it began in the time of Plato and Pythagoras, around 500 B.C.
Initially this practice was interwoven fully with the esoteric. This is perfectly embodied in the life of Pythagoras, who was part mathematician, part philosopher, part scientist, and part magician.
Pythagoras teaching in Raphael’s ‘School of Athens’
From the esoteric lives of the ancient Greeks (who were probably not the oldest example, just the most well documented) a fantastic array of intertwined paths stretch forward, all unique yet similar, like wildly different works of art all made by the same artist. This similar essence stems from their shared origin: the mind of Western man.
We have all of the Greek traditions, contemporaneous and earlier forms of Paganism, Christ and his legions of mystical followers, the work of Hermes Trismegistus and his students, the myriad of practices and intellectual arts that are found under the umbrella of Western occult, alchemists bridging these esoteric arts with the physical sciences, and modern occultists attempting a synthesized understanding of all or some of this.
Western man has a garden of unimaginable riches right in his backyard, yet he believes himself to be impoverished. Modern Western man is so systemically denied knowledge of his past that he is forced to seek his spiritual heritage elsewhere, in places he will never find it. He will travel to Tibet and learn the strange tongue of an enigmatic mountain culture before he will recognize the greatness of Socrates. He will travel to central America and worship at the altar of defunct cultures who murdered people at an industrial rate to appease their sun god, and simultaneously he will turn his heart away in disgust at the idea of Christianity – a religion that has served his people like a loyal friend for centuries.
To seek refuge in the spiritual practices of other peoples is a quest that is always doomed to fail. I have an immense respect for the traditions of other cultures. I have learned from Confucianism, Bushido (Japanese), Buddhism, and many other foreign systems of thinking. I simply recognize the reality that if you’re homesick, there is only one solution: to go home—and the soul of Western man is decidedly homesick.
The fact that mysticism is the flowering of the national soul is made apparent in the levels of affinity and cohesion between the occult practices of different peoples. Mongolian and Tibetan people share certain similarities, therefore it was natural that the Mongolians felt an affinity for the Tibetan religion and adopted it. Likewise, Tengrist practices from Mongolia would go on to influence Tibetan Buddhism (the affinity between these two relatively similar peoples is so strong that the name Dalai Lama was actually given to the Tibetan leader by a Mongolian leader).
The I Ching (basically a system of divination), which is commonly associated with China, is so popular in Korea that four I Ching symbols (trigrams) appear on the South Korean flag.
Obviously, Korean and Chinese people and culture are extremely different, but they are more similar (most likely due to their geographic proximity) than Korean culture and Nigerian culture, or Chinese culture and British culture.
This affinity between esoteric practices is found throughout the globe. Southeast Asian Buddhism has a certain flavor and cosmic aesthetic not found elsewhere, Zoroastrianism largely spread into Arab lands and places, sub-Saharan African religions often share similar qualities and characteristics, and the religions of Central American empires also share a fundamental underlying essence despite the fact that they span multiple millennia (the Olmec, circa 1000 BC to the Aztec, circa 1000+ AD).
Some people will say that these sympathies stem from geographic proximity and intertwined histories rather than from similarities or differences in the people. Population groups are a function of their geographic location and their historical trajectory, so I agree with this assessment and do not think of it as a refutation. Sure, Japanese and Chinese culture may share similarities because they are near each other, but if Japanese people evolved and lived in sub-Saharan Africa, they wouldn’t be Japanese, they would be something else.
And so we come to Western man, who is gifted a spiritual puzzle by circumstance that he alone can solve. His spiritual heritage is like a forest of barely overlapping Venn diagrams with no center that he must map and comb through alone.
The extreme biodiversity in the spiritual garden of Western man is in fact one of our biggest assets. It may appeal, in each of its differing manifestations, to a different iteration of the Western mind. Western spirituality may be philosophical, scientific, devotional, mystical, magical, or a mix of all of these qualities. We essentially have a spiritual buffet.
And yet, no one is eating. I believe this is for two reasons. One, there is no easy entry point into this labyrinth of beautiful ideas. Two, the next chapter of this story, the esoteric practice of modern Western man, has failed to materialize.
The first problem is easy to solve. A comprehensive introduction to the spiritual practices of Western man will most likely surface. It will probably have to be written by one of us if it is to be truly efficacious. Along with a comprehensive history, some bombastic and visionary work could also serve as the spark that will start people on their own journey of self discovery. I am imagining our version of The Matrix: a story, film, album, graphic novel, aesthetic, a new anything that will light the fire inside people. The materialization of these two works is extremely plausible and we can only hope to get as many minds working on this as possible until their appearance becomes an inevitability.
It is the the second barrier holding us back that I would like to address here as it is rarely discussed elsewhere. Plato and Pythagoras fit ancient Greece, Hermeticism and the desert fathers fit the early centuries of the first millennium AD, Renaissance style magic fit the Europe of the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, and modern Golden Dawn style occult practices fit the Western mind of the early twentieth century.
Modern Western man is still waiting for the new form of this perennially blooming flower that will illuminate his soul once more. This new form of spirituality will unite the man of science, the man of philosophy, spiritual men, and non spiritual men around the light of the greatest civilization that ever lived and inspire them to help tend to this fire. Its light will be so immense and bright that it will call to every Western mind across the Earth and unite them in a new and mystical body politic.
I’m not really a fan of Aleister Crowley, but it seems that the Golden Dawn movement of which he was a part was primarily well intentioned and was set on relatively solid foundations. They did a lot of good work and we, partly, now stand on their shoulders.
That being said, their movement was largely flawed, and this is evident in their lack of success. It’s great that they still exist, but after a full century of incubation their movement is still confined to a small number of books and basements across the anglosphere. They have evidently failed to take the world by storm – in fact, most people have never heard of them.
This failure most likely has an almost infinite number of complex causes, but there is one in particular I would like to focus on, as it is especially relevant to our movement.
These early twentieth century occultists still believed in the myth of a universal brotherhood and the universality of the human experience. For this reason, they, especially Crowley, aggressively sought to lateralize, equivocate, and integrate spiritual practices from across the globe, as though the spiritual life of all people could be reduced to a shared fundamental experience. They were lead to the false conclusion that the religions of man only appear different, and that these differences are ultimately masking a fundamental similarity. This is simply not the case.
And so, their approach to spirituality is like that of a painter who seeks to understand painting by mixing every color together. All this does is neutralize the natural character of each color: the resulting mess is not only ugly but useless.
Reading Crowley, one would be lead to be believe that all of the differing pantheons of gods that man has produced were really all the same characters in different clothing. If a word can mean anything, the word actually means nothing. Likewise, if Thor, Zeus, Ra, Shiva, Mahakala, and Apollo are all the same or equivocal, then their differences (the qualities that actually define them) are meaningless, and we are left with a vague and amorphous powerful male deity who stands for nothing and imparts nothing.
We often find the same error in modern new age goddess based practices. If Kali, Ianna, Diana, Tara, Guan Yin, Hecate, and primitive Earth deities are all just the same mother goddess, then the specific attributes that give these archetypes their power are stripped from them and we are left with an extremely vague figure who stands only for a poorly formed loose confederation of vague and unrelated ideals.
This practice is, in a sense, a premonition of modern cultural Marxism, which does the same thing with the varied peoples of the Earth: it makes them equivocal and thus interchangeable.
This mistake is not made when we attempt to run a common thread through the spiritual history of a single culture, such as Western culture. European style paganism failed to extend into non-European countries, and European style Christianity also largely respected these boundaries for most of history. The torch was passed between these two styles of spirituality with almost no exceptions, therefore there is an actual continuity and connection between these two spiritual worlds that is real and not imagined. It is not a fool’s errand to try and link these two spheres, in fact it is the most logical course of action: examining what came first and correlating it with what came next in an attempt to forecast what will happen in the future.
This is as good a time as any to clarify the role I believe Christianity will play in this. Ironically, Christian people often think I am calling for the displacement of Christianity while non-Christian people often think I am calling for its resurgence.
I am not Christian, but I would say that I feel an extreme affinity for Christianity. As Western occult is not organized, I would say Christianity is the religion in which I feel most at home. I feel that I am an ally of Christianity, and as I recognize the role that Christianity had in rearing Western culture, I feel it would be ignorant to suggest that it will play no role in stewarding its future.
That being said, I do not think that Christianity alone will be the answer. I would cheer for the rise of Christianity as much as any Christian, but I do not think that this will solve all of our problems.
In short, I feel that Christianity is too based in faith to solve our problem on its own. It will be a piece of the puzzle, but the need to believe in the historical Jesus as god’s only son come to redeem the world is too high a barrier of entry, and it will keep out certain minds that pride themselves on being scientific or philosophical. That is not to say that it is impossible for a philosophical or scientific mind to be Christian, but people in their twenties who think of themselves as fact based will most likely not begin to convert to Christianity en masse.
So modern Western man needs some new form of spirituality that will allow him to investigate and participate in his spiritual heritage and inner life without turning his back on the rationality that has, at least in part, allowed the West to become so great.
I believe a hint of the first flowering of this new spirituality can be found in the nationalist movements that were arising in Europe about a century ago. They, like us, were largely reacting to a cultural form of Communism that sought to erase all differences between people and institute a worldwide suppression of man’s spirit, all while enshrining the worship of the state and the false god of equality.
Soon, hating Communism will be cool again.
Upon reading The Doctrine of Fascism, I was extremely surprised at its highly spiritual nature. This short manifesto makes constant reference to the spiritual life of man. In the view of the philosophers who crafted this new worldview, man is nothing when he exists outside of the historical timeline. He is nothing when he attempts to divorce himself from the past and future of his people and society.
Conversely, modern man’s mystical experience and transcendence of self occurs when he considers himself part and parcel of his society and nation, and he rises to the standards set for him by his people. This is the enlightened state for the modern man who is largely uninterested in transcendent deities: full participation in his nation and the selfless devotion to the fate of his civilization. This lifts his eyes up from the constantly rotating wheel of hedonistic pleasures and casts his energy into the largely selfless and righteous activity of making the world around him a better place and ensuring a future for those that will come after him.
In this worldview man is a microcosm of the nation, as in Hermeticism where man is a microcosm of the universe.
I believe this idea contains the seed of the answer that we are looking for because it is a marriage of the mystical and physical realities that no one can deny. There is no need to believe in a God or esoteric forces for this to work: you literally share an occult and spiritual connection with those around you by virtue of the fact that you have both been born from the same culture, and you both participate in its creation and perpetuation every day.
Individuals vary to some extent, but they are all a product of their culture. Culture apparently sets certain limits on our variability and gives us certain archetypes and patterns that it is impossible to fully divorce yourself from.
This means that all individuals in a nation or cultural group are woven together by a cultural net that connects them. This cultural net is intimately woven into the fundamental essence of who we are: it is inseparable from the phenomena that we experience as the individuated ego. It is a literal and undeniable occult bond that unites us.
Modern Western man suffers from an intense feeling of isolation because he is systematically robbed of these classical means of transcending the self. Classical faith based religion is unpalatable to him, and he has been taught that to identify with his in-group, be it his nation or his people, is evil and makes him a bad person. So, he floats, with no context for his life and no means to transcend himself, in a completely meaningless and materialistic existence.
It is my opinion that as faith and deity based religion vacated the throne, this idea of culture as religion was meant to ascend and replace it. Largely due to the events of and narratives surrounding world wars one and two, this failed to happen. Nationalism and cultural pride were demonized, and our intellectuals could only offer us increasingly strange and obtuse philosophies that primarily focused on the trivial aspects of modernity: for the most part, this has only made people more confused.
The time has come for the next paradigm shift: culture as religion. This is the only way forward, unless you would like to walk further and further into the eternal night of modernity.
This will also solve our spiritual crisis as it will:
A ) create a method for transcending the self that is not antithetical to reason
B ) it will create a context for participation in the spiritual traditions of the West that will appeal to the scientific mind.
On the first point, as I stated before, it is simply a fact that you are connected by an almost infinite number of invisible threads to the other members of your culture. Your destinies are woven together, you are partially cut from the same cloth. When you integrate the understanding of this fact into your everyday life, you cease to be an isolated and individual ego and begin the fundamentally mystical experience of living life as a part of something larger than yourself.
On the second point, once you realize that you are intimately woven into the fabric of your culture, a spiritual investigation into your self will also necessitate a spiritual investigation into your culture. It doesn’t matter if you believe in Christ or not, the practices and ideas of Christianity helped create your culture, and thus they partially created you, literally. This obviously means that they are worthy of investigation.
The same goes for pagan deities. It doesn’t matter if you believe in Odin, the stories of Odin and his religion played some role in the creation of Western culture, therefore it is also a part of you if you are a Western person. This also applies to alchemy, astrology, magic in general, to any Western occult practice. It doesn’t matter if you believe in it or not, these things are a part of who you are – that alone gives them merit.
This view of man as a microcosm of his culture removes the need for belief from spiritual practice – the highest and most difficult barrier to overcome for modern Western people. You can simply partake in these practices and areas of study because of your place in the historical timeline. This makes your participation in them fully valid, and opens the door to us furthering the spiritual traditions of Western culture which have always sustained us.
In my opinion, a people are sometimes defined more than anything by their spiritual practice and religion. This is why we are currently floundering: this door to one of our main sources of power has been shut, and the idea of culture as religion will reopen it.
It is up to us to create the social context that will allow the full flowering of this new cosmology to take place. It is the only path that will take us all the way to victory. We cannot head backwards into a pagan fantasy, nor can we continue to ride the highway of death that is materialistic atheism.
See you on the road.