Urzeit – Live at La Dolce Vita (1997) Part I

“When, in the changes of time, archaic powers approach or even supervene – Greek, German, Egyptian or Mexican gods – it is not a repetition that takes place, but a return. A repetition takes place, for example, with Napoleon III. Meanwhile, time has seen his power undermined. Return refers to the acquisition of a position of a starting point outside of time. When this event takes place, it is usually only recognized much later, that is: as a result of that which survives the process of demythologization.”
– Ernst Jünger, Approaches: Drugs and Ecstatic Intoxication.

1. A brief introduction to “Urzeit” and the novel Dayan

“Urzeit” was a track originally composed in circa 1996 for Mordor’s third concept album Amors, never released due to the loss of the recordings. Like “The Black Priestess of Kālī”, this version was unprofessionally recorded hardly in stereophony on a 2-track tape during a private live act, performed in 1997 at the Swiss alternative music club La Dolce Vita in Lausanne. A member of the audience described the song as a blend between dark ambient, Western minimalist chamber music, and industrial doom metal. The studio recording should have include death growls and been of longer duration, but once again this concert version is the only one that remains, with all the technical issues inherent in live performances. Nonetheless, with the demo of “Domnișoara Christina” this archive can help to give a very partial and imperfect insight of Amors, even if it requires the listener to make an effort to recreate inwardly the original Idea of the songs. “Urzeit” was structurally built on one repeating pattern slowly evolving and becoming increasingly complex before returning to its primal set, like a sonic picture of the manifested emerging from the unmanifested, its reabsorption and of the cyclical conception of time opposed to the linear one, as the piece deals in particular with the issue of time and its abolition.

Like almost all tracks from Amors, “Urzeit” was based on a story by Mircea Eliade, who was not only a renowned Romanian historian of religions but also an interesting fiction author. In this case, it is the short story Dayan written between December 1979 and January 1980 that held our attention, due to the fact that it contains several elements relevant to the concept underlying Amors, inspired in particular by Left-Hand Tantrism and the Italian mediaeval secret organization the Fedeli d’Amore (“The Faithful of Love”), to which Dante Alighieri belonged. The main protagonist of Eliade’s novel is engaged in a quest of the “ultimate equation” and “Gordian knowledge” to solve in a radical manner the intractable problem of time, by using both advanced mathematics and perennial wisdom, despite an environment, to say the least, unfavourable. Thus Dayan notably includes a quotation from C’est des Fiez d’Amours, a poem of particular interest written by the 13th-century trouvère (troubadour) Jacques de Baisieux, at the origin of the choice of the album title Amors, and makes some brief references to the Fedeli d’Amore, courtly love, Aztec cosmic cycles and the Spanish devastating conquest of Mexico in early 16th century.

The music video features mainly reworked footage from three films to construct a visual narrative related to the track: The Woman God Forgot, a 1917 American silent historical drama which is set in Mexico, directed by Cecil B. DeMille; The Man Without Desire, a 1923 British silent fantasy drama, which includes some shots of a beautiful lady who could have been celebrated by the Fedeli d’Amore, directed by Adrian Brunel; and ¡Que viva México!,a 1932 Russian portrayal of Mexico culture and politics, directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein, but edited later by other hands. Representations of Aztec deities, glyphs, the monolithic sculpture Piedra del Sol (Sun Stone), which refers to important components of the Aztec worldview such as the cosmic cycles, as well as a scientific simulation video of a fly to the triangular galaxy (M33) released by NASA, ESA, & G. Bacon (STScI) are also used.

Picture taken from the 1917 film The Woman God Forgot directed by Cecile B. DeMille, from a scene used for “Urzeit”, with Taloc (Walter Long), an Aztec high priest and Tezca (Geraldine Farrar), one of the daughters of the tlahtoāni (ruler) Motēcuhzōma Xōcoyōtzin.

2. Of the Fedeli d’Amore “The Faithful of Love” and their ladies

“From the fixt lull of heaven, she saw
Time, like a pulse, shake fierce
Through all the worlds. Her gaze still strove,
In that steep gulph, to pierce
The swarm: and then she spake, as when
The stars sang in their spheres.”

Excerpt from the poem The Blessed Damozel by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, circa 1847.

We have previously mentioned that Eliade’s novel Dayan includes references to the Fedeli d’Amore and courtly love. According to some esoterists like René Guénon, Julius Evola and Arturo Reghini[1], who took in consideration earlier work on Dante Alighieri and the secret language of the Fedeli d’Amore by Luigi Valli, Gabriele Rossetti – father of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood –, Eugène Aroux, and so forth, the Fedeli d’Amore were likely an esoteric and initiatory circle of poets divided perhaps into seven degrees, exalting in their works an incandescent love and the beauty of various ladies. The most well-know example is the Beatrice of Dante in whom the poet perceived the mystery of salvation and the immanence of Sophia, the Divine Philosophy, and whom he has so lauded in La Vita Nuova, as these two short quotations clearly illustrate: “Here is a deity stronger than I; who, coming, shall rule over me”, or: “[I] found her so noble and praise-worthy that certainly of her might have been said those words of the poet Homer, ‘She seemed not to be the daughter of a mortal man but of a [deathless] god.’”[2] Dante also calls her “the glorious lady of my mind”; in addition, Dante Gabriel Rossetti points out that the name Beatrice means “she who confers blessings”. But the Fedeli d’Amore were not concerned with the creation of innocuous sentimental literature: cryptic poetry was used as a sort of sacred language, the “language of the gods” or “language of the birds”, mentioned for instance in Norse mythology, when the hero Sigurðr acquires it after having accidentally tasted dragon blood while roasting the heart of Fáfnir. As courtly love was mainly a matter of chivalry and aristocracy, the Fedeli d’Amore also were men of action and struggle, supporting the Ghibelline faction favourable to the Holy Roman emperor – the Eagle – against the Pope and Guelphs – the Cross; their brotherhood had political and social dimensions, although their main purpose was of a soteriological order. From this perspective, the love they talked about in their poetry was very different from the common one.

According to most of the authors that we have named, the various ladies celebrated by the Fedeli d’Amore were neither idealized women nor personified allegories or theological abstractions, but were all, “under different names, one and the same symbolic ‘Lady’ who represents transcendent Intelligence (the Madonna Intelligenza of Dino Compagni), or divine Wisdom”[3], the gnostic Sophia, female par excellence, “an image of a principle of enlightenment, salvation, and transcendental understanding”[4]. This is a conception similar to Prajñāpāramitā, the “Perfection of (Transcendent) Wisdom” in Mahāyāna Buddhism, “mother of all Buddhas”, often depicted as a goddess or female bodhisattva. Following the Hindu Tantric or Vedāntic terminology borrowed from the Sāṃkhya school of philosophy, the transcendent or active Intelligence is buddhi (the higher intellect), the door-way to inner wisdom symbolically located in the heart, which is not seen primarily as the seat of sentiments and emotions. In The Yoga of Power, Evola defines buddhi as “the principle of every individuation, which is free from every particular form of conditioned existence”, the deepest aspect of the human psyche, while Guénon explains it as follows:

“if we view the ‘Self’ (ātman) or personality, as the Spiritual Sun which shines at the center of the entire being, buddhi will be the ray directly emanating from this Sun and illuminating in its entirety the particular individual state that more especially concerns us, while at the same time linking it to the other individual states of the same being, or rather, more generally still, to all the manifested states (individual or non-individual) of that being, and, beyond these, to the center itself.”[5]

If that principle belongs to the formless manifestation, buddhi however transcends the domain of human individuality and contrasts with ahaṃkāra (the I-maker, egoity, individual consciousness) and manas, which can be equated with the mind, conceived as the “reasoning reason” and as an organ or instrument organizing the data received from the senses, associated with the head. Thus the cuore gentile “gentle heart” of the Fedeli d’Amore is the heart purified, “devoid of all that concerns wordly objects, and by this very fact made ready to receive interior illumination”[6].

We note in passing that the “chivalric” perspective of the Fedeli d’Amore, with the emphasis on an active principle represented as feminine (Madonna) is also to be found in Hindu Tantrism, more particularly in the tendencies inspired by goddess-oriented Śākta traditions. Generally, Śakti “power, energy” is the dynamic, changing aspect of the Absolute, also “the prototype of perfect femininity, the supreme female” (Devī Gītā, 1910 anonymous translation) and Śiva, the static, immutable one, “the perfect prototype of man” too. But Śākta adherents, as the name of this branch of Hinduism suggests, gives priority to Śakti in their doctrine, practices and cults, and She even may be regarded by some of Her devotees as the supreme godhead, source of all powers and potentialities in nature, including other gods, ordering them to perform their cosmic tasks. The subsequent verse of Dino Compagni speaking of the Madonna Intelligenza, “Lady Intelligence”, can be understood with a deeper meaning than being simply a matter concerning the affective domain:

The amorous Lady Intelligence
Who makes her home in the soul
Who with her beauty has made me fall in love.[7]

The love which is in concern to the Fedeli d’Amore is released when the male “possible or passive Intellect” – technical expression borrowed from Aristotle, which expresses the supraindividual noûs as potentiality –, latent and hindered in the ordinary man, is falling in love with the transcendent Intelligence represented as a woman, able to illuminate him, and becomes active. Thus, the objective pursued in the quest is to be eventually reunited with Her, like a man deeply in love who constantly thinks to his beloved, but is separated from her and is eager for meeting her again. In other words, it is the spiritual reintegration of the fallen man through a feminine principle, actualizing a superior potentiality that is in the unawakened man in dormancy. There is for instance a coded meaning in the literature of the Fedeli d’Amore related to the salutation (saluto) granted by a lady to a man and salvation/health (salute), generating a new life and a new being.

The Blessed Damozel (1871-1878), detail of a painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti illustrating his eponymous poem, an artist who was heavily inspired by Dante Alighieri, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum.

If the ladies exalted by the Fedeli d’Amore were likely one single woman – the “Unique Lady” – symbolizing ultimately the transcendent Intelligence, or put differently an image of Sophia, the Divine Wisdom and gnosis, it does not mean that earthly women cannot be an incarnated medium or hierophany revealing the numinous, sometimes even without them knowing. Thus Dante’s Beatrice was probably inspired by Beatrice “Bice” di Folco Portinari, the daughter of a banker, although this identification is disputed by some scholars. Everything may be an obstacle or on the contrary a starting point for a spiritual path according to the idiosyncrasy of the individual concerned, and therefore human love and the sense of beauty may be used – or not – for initiatory purposes. For some traditional worldviews, beauty in its essence is a phenomenon of the divine and may be discovered in landscapes, natural and artificial objects, living beings such plants, animals, and human beings. Iranian perennialist philosopher Seyyed Hossein Nasr summarizes very well this conception applied to mankind:

“The beauty of woman is for spiritual man an unveiling of the beauty of the paradise that he carries at the center of his being […] According to an Arabic proverb, in man goodness is outward and beauty inward while in woman beauty is outward and goodness inward. There is not only a complementarity between the sexes but also an inversion of relationships. From a certain point of view man symbolizes outwardness and woman inwardness. She is the theophany of esotericism and, in certain modes of spirituality, Divine Wisdom (which as al-ḥikmah is feminine in Arabic) reveals itself to the Gnostic as a beautiful woman.”[8]

To define properly the notion of beauty is of course complex, as it involves so-called objective (for instance, mathematical proportions) and subjective elements (beauty is also in the eye of the beholder, for someone must be able to perceive it), and we will not attempt to do it here; we will simply paraphrase a classic saying quoted by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, which adequately synthesizes our view: “To see the beauty of Beatrice requires the eyes of Dante”.[9]

Beata Beatrix (1864-1870), another fine painting by Rossetti, depicting Beatrice Portinari, modelled after his deceased wife Elisabeth Siddal. Dante’s Beatrice has inspired a great deal Rossetti’s art, especially after the death of Elisabeth. Tate Gallery.

The love and the ladies sung by the Fedeli d’Amore seems to belong to the way of Platonic love, which should be not understood in the popular sense of a purely ideal love or affectionate relationship avoiding physical contact with women, but as an initiatory path in which “the desire and rapture aroused by woman is not allowed to develop along material and profane lines, but is used as the means for a spiritual realization, which may even partake of the nature of an initiation.”[10] We can categorize it into the subsection of the Right-Hand path; it is not evident that the Fedeli d’Amore had also practices pertaining to the Left-Hand path, for the indications are missing, which is not the case in Hindu and Buddhist Tantrism where we find both perspectives.

The basic approach of the Tantric Left-Hand path can be resumed thus: “By the same acts that cause some men to burn in hell for thousands of years, the yogin gains his eternal salvation”[11]. Therefore it was logical that the highest latent possibilities of érōs were considered not only symbolically but also concretely, in a way far beyond licentiousness and even utilitarian magia sexualis. Regarding woman as the living embodiment of Śakti and man as that of Śiva, their ritualized union or hierogamy (maithuna, one of the five ingredients used in the secret “ritual of the five M’s”) in the Hindu Vāmācāra reproduces temporarily the divine one, with the opportunity of an ecstasy (or “enstasis”) and “level breaking” abrogating the laws of duality, karmic consequences, and the veil of māyā, allowing thus in the best case to achieve mokṣa, the spiritual liberation. With the evocation of divine powers directly in the consecrated bodies of the officiants and a ritual that requires lengthy preparation and for instance worship of the svaśakti, the “personal śakti” i.e. the wife’s initiate, or of a paraśakti, “the wife of another [man]”, as tangible manifestation of the divine śakti, we are not merely on the human carnal-minded plane but above all on the spiritual one.

We personally note too that it is possible to experience ecstasy not with the participation of an organic partner, but rather with incorporeal beings such as spirits and more rarely, even deities, including spirit-embodiment/possession that requires however special abilities. This is obviously not without dangers as the spirit world(s) has its own agenda and is inhabited not solely according to human criteria by benevolent or unconcerned beings, but also by ambivalent, inimical, and malevolent ones to varying degrees, that may suck for instance the vital energy of living organisms, if not to commit more serious damage. Besides, the choice of an union between a spirit and a man can be more the fact of the inorganic beings than a revocable personal decision, as we see in some shamanic traditions. Then for deities… well, it seems to be definitively up to them. But it may lead to powerful experiences having a tremendous impact on a life. Finally, there is the possibility to use the hidden forces enclosed in one’s organism like the kuṇḍalinī śakti, “coiled snake power”, associated by the Śākta school to the female divine. In The Yoga of Power, Evola cites a Tantric practitioner of the highest level – he pertains to the divya “godly” type of man, superior to that “heroic” – saying: “What need do I have for an outer woman? I have an inner woman within myself.”

Although different, the esoteric perspectives of the Fedeli d’Amore and of the Vāmācāra mentioned earlier were not supposed to be revealed to the average man among other things for safety reasons – both for the adept and for the uninitiated –, hence the use of a “secret language” (parlar cruz) and concealment in both traditions, although it was for other purposes too. Today, the situation concerning the social safety of the practitioners depending on the country concerned is perhaps less problematic, but the fact remains that both perspectives are deeply alien to the modern mentality, as our era of demythologization is dominated by materialistic ideologies engaged in strenuous efforts to desecrate beauty and to suppress the higher possibilities of érōs. For most people, the essential aim of love is hedonistic and/or genesic, a tribute to Schopenhauer’s “genius of the species” as an unconscious search of immortality by procreation, or in scientific terms, to pass genes on to future generations. In that view that we can summarize thus, all life forms eventually are but machines created by genes to improve the genes’ chance to replicate themselves and life has no other purpose that itself. The mysterious attraction between the sexes is the product of chemicals such as hormones like oxytocin and alleged sex pheromones, with the aim of maximising genes’ propagation and their reproductive needs for the survival of the species, or cultural constructs. Although perhaps valid in their respective fields, those viewpoints are evidently unable to understand the metaphysical perspective, like the doctrine of the Androgyne or the divine biunity, the “Two-in-One”, and the evidence encountered during personal experiences not necessarily reproducible by other people. Consequently, both Left-Hand and Right-Hand paths related to érōs request today more than ever a special individual qualification and obviously to go beyond the biological programming, instinctive appetite, social obligations, the basic search of pleasure, or as a type of exercise recommanded for wellness, therapy, self-confidence, and an increased productivity[12]. We must not forget that the way of the Fedeli d’Amore was the fact of an aristocracy of the soul requiring a rare nobility of the heart and mind, while Vāmācāra and the Evolian “differentiated man” are for spiritual heroes, able to overcome the bonds binding the wordly man.

Śrī Cāmuṇḍeśvarī by Sri Shilpi Siddanthi Siddalinga Swami, Mysore Palace museum. The goddess is sometimes identified with Durgā, who according to a Tantric hymn confers buddhi, the transcendent Intelligence that differs from reason.

If the Fedeli d’Amore were an Italian based spiritual militia, there are traces of a similar organization in France and maybe in Belgium, with the figure of the Walloon trouvère Jacques de Baisieux[13]. Dante himself considered that a text can be polysemous, with four levels of interpretation: the literal, the allegorical, the moral, and the most important, the anagogical, revealing the higher spiritual sense. Using a method of exegesis comparable to the Nirukta school of Hinduism focused more on a “symbolical etymology” than a scientific one, Jacques de Baisieux in the Old French poem C’est des Fiez d’Amours – quoted in Eliade’s novel Dayan – gives us the anagogical sense of amor (“love”):

A senefie en se partie
Sans, et mor senefie mort;
Or l’asemblons, s’aurons « sans mort ».

English version:

A signifies in its part
Without and mor signifies mort [death];
Let us now assemble it, we would have ourselves without death.[14]

The key element to understand is that de Baisieux interpreted the Latin/Old French word amor as a-mors, literally “deathless”, mors being the Latin name for “death” preceded by the privative a-. In Sanskrit and Ancient Greek, the prefix a- or an- (before a vowel) is used to negate or invert the meaning of a word, as in Skt. amara “undying, immortal, imperishable” and amṛta “immortality” – a synonym for the Vedic ritual drink and plant soma cognate to Avestan haoma –, which is etymologically and semantically related to Ancient Greek ambrosiā, the food or drink of the gods conferring immortality; the two words appearing to be derived from the same Proto-Indo-European adjective *ṇ-mṛto- “undying, immortal”[15]. Thus amor can be understood as a sort of “hieroglyphic equivalent to ‘immortality’” according to René Guénon. While ordinary human love is finally vanquished by death, the old guide of the main protagonist of Dayan thus summarizes the secret revelation behind amor: “Love, real love, it is immortality”. He also explains that perhaps poetry and mathematics are but the two faces of the ineffable Madonna Intelligenza and that Wisdom is both the Eternal Female and the earthly woman that the protagonist supposedly will love; the second being the reflection of the first in our view.

3. Of the Aztecs and the Spanish conquest of Mexico

“Where we must go? To where there’s death. And so I weep, saying, hearts, be cheered! No one can live here on earth.
Trough princes, they’ve all come to die, they’ve all be put away. Say, hearts, be cheered! No one can live here on earth.”
– Excerpt from a Chichimec piece in Cantares Mexicanos, Songs of the Aztecs, translated from the Nahuatl by John Bierhorst.

We have already talked about the Aztec (or Mexica, Mexitin) tradition and some elements of their worldview as their “active pessimism” in our notes on the track “Death is a Spiral”. Mircea Eliade in his novel Dayan shortly mentions Aztec prophecies and the Spanish conquest of Mēxihco-Tenōchtitlan in early 16th century by Hernando Cortés and his acolytes, with the help of indigenous enemies of the Aztecs and tributary city-states, who later will, however, have to regret their decision, as the consequences went far beyond the fall of the prominent Mesoamerican empire at that time. In Approaches: Drugs and Ecstatic Intoxication, Ernst Jünger writes: “When Cortés came ashore in Mexico, it was an event that for the Europeans had a place in the order of the historical world, while for the Aztecs it belonged to the magical world.” Thus a great seer in circa 1510 warned the ruler Motēcuhzōma Xōcoyōtzin that in a few years Aztec cities would be destroyed and several unusual bad omens of great portent were listed, in phase with a cyclical view of time – this of course is debated by scholars.

There are also accounts that possibly the Aztecs saw the Spaniards as supernatural heralds of the teōtl “god” Quetzalcōātl (or Quetzalcohuātl) and Cortés as the god himself returning back from his exile, but according to some modern historians it would be a post-Conquest construct, as it is mainly mentioned in documents of Spanish or colonial origin; once again it is disputed. The motif of Quetzalcōātl’s exile and future return seems likely to be indigenous, and for the Aztecs it was not impossible that an individual may receive intense amounts of divine powers and becoming a “man-god”. Academic Davíd Carrasco takes a middle position on the question, writing: “In my view the version of Quetzalcōātl’s return in Cortés’s letter and in the Florentine Codex is not purely a ‘post eventum fabrication’ or invention but a ‘post eventum elaboration’ of indigenous beliefs and applications interacting with European beliefs and applications.”[16] If the Aztecs at first thought perhaps that Cortés and the Spaniards were gods, they quickly changed their mind due to the behaviour of the conquerors. In any case, Quetzalcōātl is the Nahuatl name of an old Mesoamerican deity, possibly conflated with a mythologised king of the city of Tula, and should be unlikely to be perceived as the loose memory of European deified visitors prior to the arrival of the conquistadores.[17]

Partial view of ruins of the ceremonial centre of Mēxihco-Tenōchtitlan (Mexico City). The heart of the sacred precinct was named by the Spaniards Templo Mayor, “The Great Temple”, devoted mainly to Huītzilōpōchtli, the tutelary deity of the Aztecs, and to the rain god Tlāloc. The monumental complex had also symbolism related to the native cosmovision. Photo taken by Scorh in 2007, license CC BY-NC 4.0.

In the end, the struggle between Aztecs and Spaniards was a confrontation between two opposed worldviews: one still traditional albeit including some elements unpalatable to even traditionalist thinkers, and much more to the modern mind, the other based on the need of territorial expansion, a greedy search of wealth – “In Gold we trust” – and prestige allied to a conquering, exclusivist monotheism destroying the ancestral ways, all of it foreshadowing in many aspects modernity in the narrower sense – just replace religion by ideologies. It is worth reading an excerpt from an account on the reactions of the Spaniards to gold for instance: “They picked up the gold and fingered it like monkeys; they seemed to be transported by joy, as if their hearts were illumined and made new. The truth is that they longed and lusted for gold. Their bodies swelled with greed, and their hunger was ravenous; they hungered like pigs for that gold.”[18] For us, the Aztec civilization was an example of the traditional type of “totalising society” with a holistic worldview, in opposition to the modern hard and soft varieties of totalitarianism, where one ideology of purely human origin having a restricted perspective tends to dominate every aspect of life. French writer J.M.G. Le Clézio in Le Rêve Mexicain ou la Pensée Interrompue remarks: “It is the totality that characterises the pre-Hispanic religions. There is no solution of continuity between the divine and the human, and the creation of the world of men was done without breaking between the natural and the supernatural.” (our translation). We summarize his following thought this way: to believe in the identity of the divine and man, in the possibility of a direct contact with the gods, or in the reality of the “supernatural” – a questionable term, as nature is not limited to the gross objects perceived in the state of ordinary consciousness – was obviously unacceptable for the conquerors, because it was contrary to the tenets of the Church and the dictates of reason. The respect – a “carnal link” – for mother earth, including her monstrous aspects, and nature was also part of the incomprehensible components for the European “new man” of the 16th century.

Using Castanedian terms, it appears that the Aztecs were defeated first on the plane of the first attention, the day-to-day state of mind which belongs to the physical body and ruler of the ordinary perception: the technical superiority of the conquistadores, horses, the practice of total war opposed to the ritualized “flowery war”, the use of cunning and lies as well as the aid of autochthonous allies and European illnesses were sufficient to annihilate an increasing culture despite its probable better mastering of magic and the second attention, the altered state of consciousness and gateway to other worlds related to the “luminous body”, which is not surprising in the Kali-Yuga climate. In The Fire From Within, Castaneda reports a similar story from his mentor don Juan, when old “Toltec”[19] seers, capable of inconceivable deeds by eating power plants, were nevertheless conquered by an unnamed indigenous people unable to see a long time before the arrival of the Spaniards. The reason given by Don Juan is that “Seeing had undermined their strength and forced them to be obsessed with what they saw”, thus losing the status of “men of knowledge”. Consequently, the surviving “Toltec” seers decided to establish new key procedures like stalking and to reduce the use of power plants. Without knowing it, they were thus better prepared for the Spanish conquest to come and the coercive yoke of new “petty tyrants” – “petty” because for the Supreme Tyrant seen as an immeasurable jet-black Eagle, even autocrats in the end are but food according to Castaneda. Hernán Cortés is considered a positive, valiant figure by some people, the triumphant Faustian man, but if we directly refer to the view of the philosopher Oswald Spengler himself on the Aztecs in The Decline of the West, he offers a statement that differs from the common narrative of barbarians conquered by keen advocates of a more advanced society:

“[…] this is one example of a Culture ended by violent death. It was not starved, suppressed, or thwarted, but murdered in the full glory of unfolding, destroyed like a sunflower whose head is struck off by one passing. All these states, including a world-power and more than one federation – with an extent and resources far superior to those of the Greek and Roman states of Hannibal’s day, with a comprehensive policy, a carefully ordered financial system, and a highly developed legislation, with administrative ideas and economic traditions such as the ministers of Charles V [of Spain] could never have imagined, with a wealth of literature in several languages, an intellectually brilliant and polite society in great cities to which the West could not show a single parallel – all this was not broken down in some desperate war, but washed out by a handful of bandits in a few years, and so entirely that the relics of the population retained not even a memory of it. Of the giant city Tenōchtitlan not a stone remains above ground.”

We would add that the Aztecs had a high quality and significant art as well as a fully developed spiritual tradition and philosophy, even if it was not expressed in the usual way of the Western philosophers, who preferably use rational logic and discursive thought in a systematic exposure of their speculations, but by means of myths, symbols, poetry, hymns, songs, and art. We note for instance according to ethnohistorian Miguel Léon-Portilla the essential conception of a dual supreme principle beyond time and space named Ōmeteōtl (“Dual God” or “God of the Duality”; instead of “duality” we could use “twoness”), “mother and father of all gods and men”, comprising the Aztec pair of male and female deities Ōmetēuctli and Ōmecihuātl, dwelling in Ōmeyōcān (“Place of the Duality”), the highest heaven, the ultimate metaphysical region.[20] Except for some indigenous and Spanish accounts, the partial survival of the Aztec lore and that of other Mesoamerican peoples beyond the transreligious process and syncretism as the Virgin of Guadalupe was certainly the fact of some isolated “sorcerers” and their lineage, who managed to secretly escape to the widespread and methodic destruction of all traditional structures and knowledge by the Spaniards and were less affected in their shamanic private practices than the public state religion and priesthood.[21] By the way, amongst Mesoamerican peoples some rebellions against the Spanish colonial dominion and Christianity were led by hechiceros, “sorcerers” or “magicians”.

Reconstructed scale model of the Templo Mayor of Tenōchtitlan, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City, with the dual pyramid-temple dedicated to Huītzilōpōchtli and Tlāloc, and in front, the semi-circular temple dedicated to Ehēcatl-Quetzalcōātl. Original photo by Wolfgang Sauber (2008), retouched by Joyborg (2010), converted into greyscale tones. License CC BY-SA 3.0.

“Nothing but flowers and songs of sorrow
are left in Mexico and Tlatelolco,
where once we saw warriors and wise men.

We know it is true
that we must perish,
for we are mortal men.
You, the Giver of Life,
you have ordained it.
We wander here and there
in our desolate poverty.
We are mortal men.
We have seen bloodshed and pain
where once we saw beauty and valor.

We are crushed to the ground;
we lie in ruins.
There is nothing but grief and suffering
in Mexico and Tlatelolco,
where once we saw beauty and valor.”

Excerpt from a “song of sorrow” quoted from Miguel León-Portilla, The Broken Spear: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico.

Part II available here

[1] Some books of interest translated into English, which contain valuable information about the esotericism of Dante and/or the Fedeli d’Amore: – René Guénon, Insights into Christian Esoterism and The Esoterism of Dante; – Julius Evola, The Metaphysics of Sex; The Mystery of the Grail; the essay The “Mysteries of Woman” in East & West, published in East and West: Comparative Studies in Pursuit of Tradition; the appendix II Shaktism and the Worshippers of Love in The Yoga of Power, about the Fedeli d’Amore and Tantrism;Arturo Reghini, using the pseudonym Pietro Negri, The Secret Language of the Fedeli d’Amore in Julius Evola and the UR group, An Introduction to Magic, Volume II.

The thesis supported by previous authors like Luigi Valli despite the quality of their work was mostly ignored by the academic establishment or attacked according to Guénon by advocates of “positivist criticism” or “literary criticism”, “well-imbued by scholarly and academic prejudices”, who could not imagine an art both aesthetic and meaningful with initiatory purposes, and by people involved in Catholic circles, opposed to esoteric interpretations and the idea of Dante’s affiliation to a secret organization.

[2] Quotations from The New Life, English translation of La Vita Nuova by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in Dante and his Circle, with the Italian Poets Preceding him, 1874. In the second citation, we have replaced Rossetti’s “God” by “a [deathless] god”, more in phase with Homer’s Iliad and the version given by some other translators, and with the importance of the distinction between immortal gods and mortal men in Ancient Greek tradition and most of the Indo-European ones, as immortality is a basic feature of the gods, which distinguishes them from men.

[3] Luigi Valli’s thesis on the “Ladies” of the Fedeli d’Amore briefly summarized by René Guénon in the chapter The secret language of Dante & the Fedeli d’Amore part 1 in Insights into Christian Esoterism. However, for Evola, terrestrial women were likely concerned too, as we will see later.

[4] Julius Evola, The Metaphysics of Sex.

[5] René Guénon, Man and his Becoming According to the Vedānta. Buddhi is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit root budh “to wake, be awake, be conscious again, etc.”. The same root is to be found in the name Buddha, which literally means “the awakened one” or “the enlightened one”. Heinrich Zimmer defines buddhi in Philosophies of India as “the suprapersonal potentiality of experience”.

[6] René Guénon, Insights into Christian Esoterism.

[7] As cited by Pietro Negri (Arturo Reghini) in The Secret Language of the Fedeli d’Amore in Julius Evola and the UR group, An Introduction to Magic, Volume II.

[8] Quotation from a footnote in The Male and Female in the Islamic Perspective, published in Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 14, No. 1 & 2, Winter-Spring 1980.

[9] The original classic saying attributed to the Persian poet Majnūn is: “To see the beauty of Lailā requires the eyes of Majnūn”, cited in Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, That Beauty is a State, essay first published in The Burlington Magazine, 1915. In a final note about the plates used to illustrate his essay, he specifies: “Beauty is not determined by subject. It is not a power of ethos, but is transcendental, beyond good and evil, sacred and profane; and it is communicated through the disposition of lines and masses […] rather than representation. At the same time, there is this lien [link] with the subject, that Beauty is not reached unless the subject is passionately ‘felt’.”

[10] Julius Evola, The “Mysteries of Woman” in East & West, op.cit.

[11] Tantric Buddhist author(s) quoted by Mircea Eliade in Yoga, Immortality and Freedom. Buddhism especially in Tibet had too some “sinister” (i.e. pertaining to the Left-Hand path), grim, and antinomian practices, as in the Nyönpa group of yogis, or the Chöd challenging meditation and ritual sets in graveyards – also a tradition/lineage divided into two branches, one female and the other male –, usually ignored in the watered down Buddhism currently in fashion.

[12] For a metaphysical viewpoint on érōs, see the remarkable book of Julius Evola The Metaphysics of Sex, also available with the title Eros and the Mysteries of Love: The Metaphysics of Sex. It should be noted that some researchers in epistemology like André Pichot are seriously questioning the mechanical thesis in modern biology and the omnipotent function of genes supposed to control all biological activities.

[13] Incidentally, French Iranologist Henri Corbin has found “typological affinities” between the Fedeli d’Amore and some aspects of Islamic Sufism.

[14] Old French version of the verse is taken from Trouvères Belges du XIIe au XIVe siècle, edited by Auguste Scheler, 1876. It slightly differs from the version found in Dayan used in the track “Urzeit”. The novel is translated into French in Mircea Eliade, Le Temps d’un Centenaire Suivi de Dayan. The English translation of Jacques de Baisieux’ stanza is borrowed from Mircea Eliade, History of Religious Ideas, Volume 3: From Muhammad to the Age of Reforms. Notice that amor is also the inverse of Roma.

[15] The alpha privative a- is derived from Proto-Indo-European *n̥-, the zero ablaut grade of the negation *ne. In a semantic vein similar to *ṇ-mṛto-, we also have the Ancient Greek néktar, the drink of the gods, from the PIE root *neḱ¹– (“death, to perish, disappear”) + *-tr̥h₂ (“overcoming”), itself from *terh₂- (“to overcome, pass through, cross over”), with the meaning of “overcoming death”. According to Calvert Witkins, it is part of the “formulaic manifestation of an Indo-European eschatology, a doctrine of final things: what is crossed over and thus overcome is death”, in How to Kill a Dragon?, Aspects of Indo-European Poetics, subchapter 40 Nektar and the Adversary Death. The full formula is: HERO {OVERCOME (*terh₂-) DEATH}, but only the boxed element is essential.

[16] Quoted from Davíd Carrasco, Quetzalcoatl and the Irony of Empire: Myths and Prophecies in the Aztec Tradition.

[17] However, it is not impossible that some European peoples like Vikings had reached in some way Mexico before the Spaniards: some current representatives of the Mexica “Black Tradition” under the banner of the Black Tezcatlipōca assert that a few of the Mexica rites were borrowed from or influenced by Vikings (M.X., personal oral communication, circa 2003). A vision of a Mexican curandera and our own UPG (unverified or unverifiable personal gnosis) suggest that at least a very few Vikings disembarked in Mesoamerica, following a shipwreck after a long wandering and were probably rapidly assimilated, but to our knowledge, there are no accounts or archaeological evidence to prove it, contrary to North America. As we have not read the books of anthropologist Jacques de Mahieu, we ignore if his controversial thesis of the coming of Vikings in Mesoamerica and South America is based on firmly studies.

[18] Elderly indigenous informants of Bernardino de Sahagún, compiler of the Historia Universal de las Cosas de Nueva España, quoted from Miguel León-Portilla, The Broken Spear: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico. Gold for natives had a symbolical value and besides personal adornment indicator of the social status, was used for offerings to deities and funerals; some gods like Tezcatlipōca carries golden items. The Nahuatl name teōcuitlatl for gold or silver is made up of teōtl (“god”) +‎ cuitlatl (“excrement”).

[19] We have put Toltec in quotations marks because for Don Juan the Toltecs he refers are not the historical Toltecs from the kingdom and city of Tula, also called Tōllān, but are “men of knowledge”. We spoke a little of Castaneda mainly in the section 4. Of Carlos Castaneda and some notions presented in his books in our notes about “Death is a Spiral”. The Aztecs had a high regard for the Toltec civilization, seeing themselves as their intellectual and cultural heirs, claiming to be descended from the Toltec nobility. Furthermore, among Nahuatl-speaking peoples, the term tōltēcātl became synonymous of true, skilled artist and wise man. In Traditional Forms and Cosmic Cycles, Guénon mentions an “Atlantean Tula” (the original place of the Toltecs, probably situated in Northern Atlantis according to him) which “must have been the seat of a spiritual power that was as it were an emanation from that of the Hyperborean Tula”, the polar and supreme spiritual centre for the totality of the present manvantara (Manu’s era). The Atlantean Tula would be a secondary centre derived from the primary Hyperborean Tula.

[20] Cf. Miguel Léon-Portilla, La Filosofía Náhuatl Estudiada en sus Fuentes, translated into French as La Pensée Aztéque and into English as Aztec Thought and Culture: A Study of the Ancient Nahuatl Mind, a book particularly interesting to give valuable insights into the Nahua philosophy. His view on Ōmeteōtl, rarely mentioned in the surviving sources, has been challenged by some other scholars, including one defending a pantheistic view of the Aztec philosophy and a “metaphysics of becoming” instead of a “metaphysics of being”. In any way, it is however hard to negate the importance of the duality or “twoness” in the Aztec thought, as showed for instance by some idiomatic complexes peculiar to the Nahuatl and other Mesoamerican languages using difrasismo, a stylistic grammatical construction where a pair of words is used semantically to refer to a third term. Ōmetēuctli could be translated as “Dual Lord” or “Lord of the Duality”, Ōmecihuātl as “Dual Lady” or “Lady of the Duality”. There are in Colonial-era manuscripts named Tōnacātēuctli and Tōnacācihuātl, most often translated as “Lord and Lady of Our Sustenance”. Ōmeteōtl is at times equated with Huēhuehteōtl/Xiuhtēuctli, the Mesoamerican old god of fire and of time who dwells in the navel of the earth.

[21] Despite strong doubts expressed by academics on the “factual authenticity” of Castaneda’s works, which is not the crucial element for our purpose and that of the “differentiated man”, it existed among the Nahuas various specialists with particular abilities, dedicated to curative, divinatory, magical rites as well as capable of travelling in other worlds by using trance, dreams and power-plants. See for instance the study of Mercedes de la Garza Sueño y Alucinación en el Mundo Náhuatl y Maya, translated into French by Bernard Dubant as Le Chamanisme Nahua et Maya, subtitled Nagual, Rêves, Plantes-Pouvoir. The definition of shamanism is subject of course to numerous controversies. There also were probably among the Spaniards some men more interested in adventures, discoveries, or in documenting the indigenous worldviews and languages than in conquests.