Defining Paganism – Faye

Defining Paganism

By Guillaume Faye

 

Paganism: The philosophic and/or religious attitude, generally polytheistic and pantheistic, that is the antipode to the revealed salvation religions, to religious or secular monotheism, or to Western materialism.

For Christopher Gérard, one of the principal contemporary practicing authorities on the subject: ‘Paganism, as a coherent vision of the world … is faithful to an ancestry, considered part of a very long memory, enrooted in multiple terrains, opened to the invisible … an active participant in the world, a sought-after harmony between microcosm and macrocosm. Paganism in essence is a natural religion, the most ancient of a world “born” with its birth – if the world were ever born. Rather than an eccentric fad – or the elegant nostalgia of literary refugees from some mythic Golden age, I think paganism is on the way to becoming the first of the world’s religions.’ He mentions 1.5 billion pagans on five continents, which would make it the world’s largest religious group. Gérard adds, ‘Without being narrowly moralistic … a lived paganism seems to me incompatible with whatever makes man servile. As the exaltation of life – of the eternal élan – paganism refuses everything that debases man: drugs, dependencies, every kind of unhealthy life.’ A lived paganism, in other words, is not destructuring, nor linked to the permissive, anti-vitalist mores of the present West (as certain prelates would have us believe). Gay Pride has nothing in common with the pagan bacchanalia! Paganism, moreover, is neither superstitious nor vacuously ritualistic, in contrast to Islam (this belief system which is most opposed to it), for Islam is all these things to the highest degree.

Pierre Vial has written that paganism is not anti-Christian, but a-Christian and post-Christian. ‘To be pagan is to refuse the inversion of values that Nietzsche denounced in Christianity. It is to take the hero, not the martyr, as the model. Christian suffering has always repulsed me. To celebrate the redemptive value of suffering seems life a form of masochism.’ (Today, modern European Christians practice their ethno-masochism and culpability on the immigrant colonisers; in every domain they practice the ‘duty to repent.’) Vial continues, ‘To exalt wretchedness, suffering, and sickness is unhealthy and I much prefer the Greek ideal of transcendence or the Stoicism of Marcus Aurelius. Paganism ought not, though, to be confused with anti-clericalism or atheism. Another point: a purely intellectual definition of paganism … won’t suffice. It’s perhaps necessary, but it doesn’t go far enough. For paganism to exist, it must be lived. Not simply in gestures, but in life’s most ordinary expressions. Paganism is defined primarily in reference to the sacred … It affirms the immanence of the sacred.’

For both Gérard and Vial, paganism the authentic ‘religion,’ for it ties men of the same community together and ties them to a cosmos in which the divine is everywhere, where the gods are not separated from, but part of, the profane world.

Similarly, Gnosticism, which inspires Freemasonry, has nothing to do with paganism. Paganism’s constituting traits are: the presence of the sacred and the supernatural within nature; a cyclical or spherical conception of time; the refusal to consider nature the ‘property’ of the men who exploit and thus destroy it; the coming-and-going of sensuality and asceticism; the unqualified apology of the life-force (the ‘yes to life’ and ‘the Great Health’ of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra); the idea that the world is ‘uncreated’ and corresponds to a river of becoming, without beginning or end; the tragic sentiment of life refusing all nihilism; the cult of ancestors, of the line, of our people’s biological and cultural identity; the refusal of all revealed and universal Truths and thus the refusal of all fanaticism, dogmatism, and forced proselytism.

We need to beware, though, of certain so-called pagans who hold that paganism stands for ‘absolute tolerance,’ in the name of ‘social polytheism.’ Such pagans, like the post-conciliar Church, support, for instance, immigration and Islam and refuse to struggle against the reigning social decadence. This pseudo-paganism of secular clerics gives the pagan spirit a Leftist slant. It’s a pseudo-paganism, in effect – purely negative and reactive, a hollow Judaeo-Christianity, an anti-Catholic fixation.

It’s not a philosophy of life, but an attitude of resentment. Besides, these pseudo-pagans, who lack true culture, have never been able to define nor positively live their assumed ‘paganism.’ In a totally absurd way, it’s even led them to a pro-Islam position (whose Qur’an considers pagans ‘idolaters’ – and whose lot is that of the Eid al-Adha’s slaughtered sheep) – and to the egalitarianism of absolute toleration for every form of deviance, justified in the name of a purely casuistic ‘social polytheism’ (hemophilia, antiracism, ethno-pluralism, tribalism, etc.) One doesn’t even have to criticise the Church to assume the position of Monsignor Gaillot and the post-conciliar humanitarians.

Against this, we affirm that paganism is in essence a partisan of social order – which it sees as reflecting the cosmic order, it equally opposes the fusion of peoples, random mixing, and thus a massifying individualism. The pagan vision of the world is holistic and organic and views its people as a hierarchical community of destiny. Like ancient Greek paganism, the notion of the City, inseparable from notions of patriotism and ethnic identity, is fundamental the pagan conception of the world. Similarly, Nietzsche’s notion of the will to power perfectly accords with paganism (to the degree it respects the natural, cosmic order).

In Europe, paganism – her ancient religion, far older than Christianity – has taken several forms: first there’s a ‘philosophical’ paganism (or neo-paganism), with Hellenic, Roman, Germanic, Scandinavian, etc., components, all of which hold no belief in anthropocentric gods, but rather in a sacred, polytheistic, and pantheistic vision of the world, in which the divinities are eternal allegories representing the multiplicities of life and cosmos; this paganism knows numerous communal rituals linked to the different stages of human life and to the seasonal cycles; it’s been evident in European art for centuries. There’s also a ‘wild’ paganism that stretches from the (pseudo-pagan) New Age to European Buddhism. Another false paganism is intellectualist paganism, which is often just a form of anti-Catholic hatred; what Gérard calls ‘salon paganism.’ And finally, there’s the latent or implicit paganism of traditional Catholicism and Orthodoxy, especially evident in their polytheistic cults.

There’s no pagan ‘Church.’ Paganism isn’t sociologically unified – one needs to speak of paganisms. The word itself is ambiguous, coined by Christians to designate the religion of peasants (pagani).

It might also be noted that sects belong neither to paganism nor its philosophy, but to derivations of the mystic monotheistic salvation religions.

Pagans today need to have the intelligence and wisdom to not – apriori – reject traditional Christianity, and vice versa, for the struggle against the common enemy is what’s most important. Not sectarianism, but a historic compromise, is needed here. No reconciliation, by contrast, is possible with the Judaeo-Christianity of the post-conciliar Left.

The main pagan reproach of Christianity (as made by Pierre Vial, Giorgio Locchi, and Louis Rougier) is its roots in universalism and egalitarianism and its progressive view of history; totalitarian ideologies of salvation, such as globalist liberalism, with its end to history and its disarming humanitarianism, are simply secularised forms of Christianity. Universalism, for example, has been transformed into a secular cosmopolitanism, and Christian charity into a masochistic humanitarianism. Universal charity, as it comes from Judaeo-Christianity and clashes with the pagan world vision, has been central to Europe’s moral disarmament, to its failure to resist the Third World’s colonising invasion. Similarly, in situating God outside or above the universe and declaring the latter profane, Judaeo-Christianity opened the way to an atheistic materialism. Following Augustine and Aquinas, traditional Christianity claimed that the equality and universality of men before God is destined not for the City, but for the beyond, following the Last Judgment.

We need, henceforth, to recognise that the egalitarian, universalist, and anti-nationalist virus of the early Christians, neutralised by the Medieval Church and by chivalry, has returned in force with the modern post-conciliar Church. Traditional Christianity, whether Catholic or Orthodox, incorporated important pagan elements, notably in the polytheism of the Holy Trinity, the cult of the saints and the Virgin Mary, etc. We might also mention Pelagius, Teilhard de Chardin, Giordano Bruno, or other Churchmen who attempted a synthesis of European Christianity and paganism.

The most important thing today is to confront the common enemy, Islam – the most abstract, the most intolerant, the most dangerous of the monotheistic religions (founding model of totalitarianism, even more so than Communism), with which, unfortunately, the Catholic hierarchy and our pseudo-pagan ‘ethno-pluralist’ intellectuals suicidally collaborate. In the course of the Twenty-first century, it’s not unreasonable to expect that authentic pagans in Europe and India will be the ones manning the front line in the struggle against the desert’s totalitarian religion – not the Catholic clerics or republican ‘secularists.’

It would be vain to instrumentalise paganism as a ‘political religion.’ For paganism is above all an attitude, a philosophical, spiritual positioning, a choice of values, and in no case does it have a vocation to institutionalise itself as a religion – as a ‘new Church.’ European Catholicism – before it was desacralised by Vatican II – included important pagan elements, to such a degree that certain modern theologians accuse it of having been a ‘pagano-Christianity’ – the same reproach Luther and Calvin made of it. Slavic-Greek Orthodoxy still retains many pagan remnants.

The historic alliance of authentic pagan philosophers (inspired by the heritage of Greece, Rome, and India) to traditional European Christianity is a prerequisite to the merciless struggle that is to be waged against the Masonic gnosis, the obscurantism of the Muslim colonisers, and the virus of materialism.

————-

Excerpt from: Faye, Guillaume. Why We Fight: Manifesto for the European Resistance. London: Arktos Media, 2011, pp. 205-210.

 

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Defining Paganism – Faye

  1. klamuse

    We need to repossess the material world, but not by trying to kill religion, as the far left and far right tried to do, but by including materialism in our revitalized definition of Godhood: we evolve to supermaterial Godhood in the material world. Then perhaps we can also better care for the natural world, since it is the sacred vehicle by which we evolve to Godhood.

    The Inward Path to the God or Father Within estranged us from the desires of the material world in order to symbolically experience the Father Within, but the Outward Path is the transformation of that estrangement of man to evolving to real Godhood. Theological materialism is a broader category than spiritualism or humanism to help us in not only repossessing life and man but in carrying us beyond man to future species in evolution.

    Life and human history can be thought of as the material evolution toward Godhood. This can help demystify religion and philosophy. Our primary life is beyond being citizens of states, or economic units, or dwellers on the Father Within, these are important but secondary to our primary life of evolving to Godhood. And the new scientific cult of Transhumanism also sidesteps material and human evolution in favor of evolving machines, which also alienates us for real material evolution toward Godhood.

    http://civilizingthebeast.blogspot.com/

    • We can agree on accepting religion, but I’m afraid I must disagree with your conclusions because you appear to focus too much on material evolution in your attempt to reconcile it with a religious idea. True religion cannot be reconciled with materialism; it can be reconciled with modern science, but not with materialism, which is a particular philosophy and way of thinking that is antithetical to religious thought and religious ontology. Materialism argues for the primacy of the material realm and existence, but true religion and religious experience is defined by the experience of Transcendence and by a relationship with the Sacred, which is by definition a reference to a spiritual reality and forces that exist beyond the material universe. This has been clearly pointed out by some of the greatest scholars of religion, such as Mircea Eliade, Walter F. Otto, Rudolf Otto, Frithjof Schuon, Joseph Campbell, and more recently Alexander Dugin, among others.

      In this way, one could argue that life and human history is not the “material evolution toward Godhood”, but rather an existence that has two facets: development and experience in the material realm on the one hand, and the experience of and reference to the Sacred or the Transcendent on the other hand. Even if humanity could achieve apotheosis (which is disputable from numerous religious perspectives), it would not be accomplished through material evolution but rather through a form of mysticism or a purely “spiritual evolution”, because the material and the spiritual realms of existence are separate realms (i.e., in any case, material evolution could not by itself lead to spiritual evolution). It is true that the material realm and the Sacred are interconnected (and the Sacred guides the development of the material) and are thus not entirely separate, but their connection does not eliminate the fact they exist as two different realms and forces. Human existence is already actively linked with the Sacred by the fundamental religious and mystical experience. To understand what I am trying to explain, I would recommend to anyone that they begin by reading the works the authors I recommend on my site, in particular Mircea Eliade’s books, some of which are mentioned here: Sacred & Profane – Eliade.

  2. klamuse

    Sorry you can’t see it.

    • I did not mean to appear like someone making a stern judgement. I would like to add that another way to approach the matter is to ask ourselves how would a certain important religious intellectual address the matter. For example, to reference an author that I’m sure you’re very familiar with, how would Julius Evola respond to the idea? I don’t mean to imply that I am entirely in agreement with Evola’s religious and mystical doctrine; I have many disagreements with him, and my views are much closer to those Mircea Eliade (which is why I recommended him in particular). However, Evola’s basic philosophical concept of the primacy of the Transcendent dimension of reality is agreeable from nearly any religious perspective, and it is in reference to that that you could analyse your proposal.

  3. klamuse

    In past writings I have said that while the decadence of the present world is obvious, I reject the deep pessimism of the Traditionalist School, which was well represented by Rene Guenon in the early twentieth century.

    Guenon followed Eastern occultism in proclaiming that the West was decadent beyond repair, that we are at the end of the Kali cycle, and a new cycle can begin only after the destruction of the present age.

    This is based on the Involutionary Inward Path of Eastern religions (and more or less Western religions as well), although Guenon did not like the term “religion” preferring “Perennial Tradition.” In the Involutionary Inward Path, enlightenment is experienced only after the obliteration of the world of the senses and the blocking out of the material world. A series of hierarchical inward “states” beyond the human, supposedly, are sought and attained by the rare initiate in the disciplines of yoga.

    The Evolutionary Christian Church projects a series of actual evolutionary beings, not merely inward “states “ of being, leading upward in evolution to Godhood at the Zenith of material-spiritual evolution. This is the definition of the real “enlightenment,” and indeed, in this case, it would not be humanly experienced, since life would have evolved beyond the human.

    Ours is a Positive Theology, no unreal pessimism is required. The cosmic cycles of the East are based exclusively on the Involutionary Inward Path, which sees the material world as illusion and even as evil, whereas we see the inward Spirit-Will as activating the material world to evolve to Godhood. We do not, as Guenon, proclaim that we have to wait for the destruction of the present world—or help along the destruction, as Evola might do. Indeed, evolution has the “cycles” of arising, becoming, and passing away, but this is based in the material world.

    Never the less, the Evolutionary Christian Church accepts the Involutionary Inward Path as part of the Twofold Path to Godhood, allowing us to see and experience the Soul and Spirit Within as a symbolic experience of real Godhood reached by evolution. Ours is a Revitalized Conservatism, we do not radically reject the past. But we include the vital Evolutionary Outward Path of evolution to Godhood. Eastern and Western religions demand that we apply only the Involutionary Inward Path, which has helped lead to the decadence of the material world.

    True decadence began with the Great Spiritual Blockade of material evolution by the mystics of the East and West. This was the true “Fall.”

    Followers of Rene Guenon and Frithjof Schuon (both men converted to Islam), and the Philosophia Perennis, are courageous and deep thinkers who nevertheless do not affirm evolution, and their problems with science derive from an entirely involutionary nonmaterial view of Godhood. While the Evolutionary Christian Church can affirm many of the insights of the Philosophia Perennis, we view it as seeing only half the picture. God, glimpsed after great effort, as the Spirit Within in Perennial Philosophy, must be seen as in reality attained through the Evolutionary Outward Path of material and supermaterial evolution, all the way to Godhood.

    • Your perspective is interesting, although it is somewhat out of place here because this post is about a definition of Paganism (but I generally do not like to censor sympathetic authors’ comments). What I will add to my previous comments is that likewise I do not share the deep pessimism of the religious philosophy of “Perennial Traditionalism” (I realise that they do not prefer the term “religion”, but that term is proper in the manner defined by other intellectuals). There are a number of other issues with their religious approach from both Pagan and Christian perspectives, but this is no place to discuss that. Concerning your position on religion and conception of evolution, while it certainly is interesting, I am afraid that I must still maintain my earlier position, because we have slightly differing understandings of the nature of religion. My understanding is primarily guided by Mircea Eliade (although not limited to him, as I mentioned before), whose philosophy of course extends beyond the East-West distinction and deals with the fundamental essence of human religious experience, belief and ontology.

      In this regard, there is also the question of the purpose of human existence. Is “earthly” or material existence meant to be completely surpassed, or is there a reason we have both a spiritual and a material existence (defined by the experience of Life)? Whereas “Perennial Traditionalism” and your own group argued that the goal is to completely surpass material existence, many religious perspectives, especially Pagan ones (both European and non-European), hold that the material realm does have a meaning, that it is an important facet of human existence and life-experience. That is, that we can never entirely leave material existence behind, but simultaneously we are not entirely bound to it because we also have a spiritual character, and we must experience the Sacred and the Transcendent as well as the Profane or the material. For some, this is also where religious or mystical philosophy meets Lebensphilosophie, the philosophy of Life. The Lebensphilosophie of thinkers like Ludwig Klages is often seen as completely conflicting with religious mystical thought, yet, the two forms of thought can and have been reconciled. The the valuing of Life can be combined with a reference to the Transcendent realm and the Sacred; valuing Life does not need to be done by devaluing all intellect and the idea of the Transcendent reality. This approach has been demonstrated in both Paganism and other religious forms, as we can see from the works of Eliade, Faye, Benoist, Dugin, etc. These different perspectives need to be taken into consideration.

  4. klamuse

    I added the comments to Faye’s ideas on Paganism to be considered as a natural alternative to both Paganism and the Inward religions—keeping both but transforming them. But fair enough. It’s been good communicating with you.

  5. Based on another conversation (which I removed because of its overall awkwardness), I want to repeat here some of the basic problems with your religious approach. You (Kenneth Anderson, or “klamuse”) argue that your religious conception is a breakthrough in religious history and ideas, an improvement. That is, you do reference the “Inward Path” (of Perennial Traditionalism) as having glimpsed God, and argue that the “Outward Path” is a religious expansion which, unlike the “Inward Path”, has the capacity to go beyond the first glimpse. My suggestion to my audience to read scholars and historians of religion like Eliade are not meant to imply that you are uneducated in religious matters (on the contrary, I can see that you have studied many philosophers of religion from the posts on your site), but to make sure that people realise that there are other, well-founded pathways for religion (and certainly going beyond the simplistic East-West distinction to take into account a more global study of religion).

    Concerning one of the basic objections to your views, the essential problem here is that it could be argued that your religious path is lacking proper references to the Sacred or Transcendent or mystical experiences which are standard for true religion, and thus is a deviation from true religion. Meaning, that one could argue the central conception of “evolution to Godhood” is not truly founded upon the aforementioned references or experiences (which were the foundation of nearly all pre-modern religions), or that your new conception of Godhood, which is supposed to be reached by material evolution, is not founded upon these references or experiences.

    Another way of putting it is to observe that pre-modern religions were all founded upon theophanies or hierophanies, encounters of some sort with the Sacred or Transcendent reality, or spiritual or mystical experiences (grounded in mysticism), whereas your religious belief is, as far as I can see, a purely philosophical creation – founded with reference to past religion but also as a separation from them – and not at all founded upon the same things as pre-modern religions. You must realise that there are people who would go so far as to argue that your religion is a philosophical corruption of religion.

    Additionally, I want to mention here that while you have claimed on your website that Alexander Dugin is nothing more than a “Traditionalist” in the sense of Evola and Guenon, his religious perspective is actually much more complex. While being an Orthodox Christian himself, he is not a simple man and has argued for the complementarity between different religions, including between Christianity and Paganism. Furthermore, his works on religion («Пути абсолюта», «Метафизика благой вести», «Абсолютная Родина», «Эволюция парадигмальных оснований науки», «Философия Традиционализма», «Постфилософия», «Социология Воображения», «В поисках тёмного Логоса») explore a vast amount of philosophers/sociologists of religion, including R. Otto, M. Eliade, C. Jung, H. Corbin, C. Levi-Strauss, G. Dumezil, G. Durand, and more, and also study various religious perspectives (forms of Paganism from different cultures [that is, not only European, but also Asian and Native American], various interpretations of Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, etc.), not merely the Perennial Traditionalists.

    • klamuse

      Saturday, September 06, 2014

      Recently Faye himself agreed with the general trend of the following ideas:

      There is no longer a need to play the Gnostic and Hermetic games of Alexander Dugin

      Alexander Dugin’s Neo-Eurasianism (and it seems, Putin’s) can in many ways be seen as a response to so-called Neoconservatism in the West, in the same way that militant Islam has mainly been a reaction to the global marauding of the Neoconservatives and crony capitalism. Both Neo-Eurasianism and Neoconservatism are imperialistic and therefore on the wrong political trajectory, even if they make little obligatory nods to multi-polarity and ethnostates. Imperialism is anachronistic, unjust, and dangerous to the natural social configurations of human nature, which are ethnopluralistic, preferring smaller states with distinct ethnic cultures, protected by some sort of federalism. Unnatural imperialism always falls back into ethnostates.

      Universalism was the wrong reading of altruism, it was the vain attempt to gather together all kinds of distinctly different people and cultures. Altruism—interest in the welfare of others— is the base of most religions, and it is really group-selection in sociobiological terms, the groups with the most internal altruism were successful over the groups with less internal altruism, and so the genetic traits of altruism were passed on by the successful group. But religion and political philosophy tried to universalize this local altruism, which did not harmonize with real human nature, and so universalism all but lost real altruism. When ethnicity is taken out of the religious “initiation” process (as Evola and Dugin claim to want to do) then real assimilation is slowly lost, since real altruism comes from local ethnic connections and not from universalism. Ethnopluralism is the way to return to real altruism, with smaller states protected by a light federalism.

      Contrary to Dugin, the West’s “angel” is not mammon, it is evolving materialism, raising the standard of living, including wealth creation, and genetic advancement, whereas the angel of the East is the Inward God reached only by ridding the body of all material desires. This is the basic religious element of the Traditionalist School which Dugin wants to conquer with his Eurasianism, managed by Russia, and allied with an Islam which also hates the West’s materialism. The Inward Path to God or the Father Within of Tradition supposedly can be syncretic because it is contained in all the revealed religions. The West has been able to move outside this Great Spiritual Blockade against the material world, but in the process it lost much of its Inward Path religion and moved too far toward hedonism and consumerism.

      The answer is not to return to primordial times and the exclusive life-denying Inward Path, the Inward Path to the Father Within needs to be seen as the symbolic experience of the real Godhood reached in material and supermaterial evolution. This is the Twofold Path of Theological Materialism. Ancient conflicts between religion and science, the West and the East, Atlantis and Hyperboria, are best resolved this way. So-called “spiritual” forces of light against material forces of “evil,” and the dualism of Gnosticism are no longer valid. There is no such dualism or separation, there is at best the supermaterialism of Godhood reached through material/supermaterial evolution. There is no longer a need to play the Gnostic and Hermetic games of Dugin, it is best to cut the Gordian Knot, or better yet, don’t waste time trying to cut the knot. We need to get on with evolving to Godhood.

      Posted by Kenneth Lloyd Anderson
      http://civilizingthebeast.blogspot.com/

      • Guillaume Faye has made some valid contributions in terms of writing, but many times he is prone to making poor judgements based on personal biases or misunderstandings of the people he studies (for example, he attacks Benoist and the New Right in general for a lot of things which he has no good reason to, including the ideas of metapolitics, ethnopluralism, and the rights of the peoples), so we should actually be wary of what Faye says in general (and not just about Dugin).

        Now, concerning Dugin himself, you are still repeating the same claims which have been well addressed by my friend Lucian Tudor; like the groundless accusations of imperialism (Dugin’s views are very close to the anti-imperialist federalism of the New Right) and the dismissal of ethnic reality (which is absurd when one sees how important ethnic identity is for Dugin). Furthermore, to compare Eurasianism with Western “Neo-Conservatism” is ludicrous; the two groups are practically opposites ideologically (and, in total contrast to the modern Western “Neo-Conservatives”, Dugin and the Eurasianists genuinely advocate true ethnic separatism and multipolarism). These topics have been addressed in more depth by Dugin’s own works as well, but the most important ones in this regard are not even in English (they are rather partly in French, and mostly in Russian).

        In addition, while Dugin can be called a “traditionalist” in a broad sense, his “traditionalism” is as distinct from that of Evola and Guenon as is Dominique Venner’s (i.e., it would be an error to consider them of an identical type; Dugin’s views are distinct from both Venner’s and Evola’s). Dugin’s view of religion, at least in his more recent sociological works, clearly surpasses the Evolian-Guenonian religious scheme, even though he shows some appreciation for those thinkers. The East-West religious conflict is resolved in the recent sociological works of Dugin by transcending it entirely and studying the nature of human religion as a whole, across all places and times (globally), and also by taking a renewed look at even the more familiar religions (something accomplished by other religious scholars like Eliade or Durand as well). Let’s be honest here, it is time to move beyond the rhetoric when it comes to people like Dugin. There’s no “Gnostic and Hermetic games” here, there’s a fascinating Russian intellectual who a lot of Westerners really do not want to understand.

  6. All of these arguments neglect the fact that in pre-Christian Europe there was really no separate idea of ‘pagan religion’. Instead, there seems to have been a group-shared ontological concept combining ancestry, locality, cosmology, mythology, philosophy in the practice of ‘cult’, through which deity was defined and communion held. It was a core founding gestalt crossing societies, and open to the usual influences of fashion, politics, tribal conflict and economics. Once this schema came under the lens of classical literary culture, of course, things would never quite be the same…

    • There is some truth to what you say, but it seems necessary here to stress that the term “Paganism” is not limited to European religions, since it just as well describes numerous other religions from all parts of the world which typically share the same defining characteristics. The term “Paganism” and its use as a term to designate religions sharing the same paradigms has already been discussed and well-founded academically (not by Faye, I mean by scholars of religions). Furthermore, despite the fact that Paganism obviously consists of a myriad of religious groups and cults, this does not mean that ancient Pagans themselves failed to realize connections with groups other than their own particular one when they encountered others. In fact, it is well-known that one of the most remarkable traits of Pagans is their ability and willingness to connect their own religion and deities with those of other religions (e.g. the phenomenon of comparing and equating one’s own deities with parallel ones in another Pagan religion).

      Finally, please keep in mind that this little entry by Guillaume Faye does not provide a complete understanding of Paganism or of the arguments for his understanding of Paganism. It seems to me as though the commenter named “klamuse” also had this misconception that Faye’s brief remarks could be assumed to provide a complete view of the issue. I only posted Faye’s entry because it is a useful brief introduction setting down some of the key features of Paganism in general, although it has some flawed statements and it is actually very inadequate for any full understanding. A more complete understanding of Paganism in this regard should be drawn from the works of religious intellectuals such as Mircea Eliade, Rudolf Otto, Alain de Benoist, Frithjof Schuon, Gilbert Durand, Christopher Gérard, etc.

      • It is certainly worth exploring the historical, philosophical and ontological origins of paganism in more detail, as such an exercise seems relevant to humanity’s future social, environmental and political development. I am not sure Faye actually ‘made the case’ because he seems not to have understood that by seperating gnosticism from paganism he was invalidating the intellectual and very pagan neoplatonist philosophy which underpinned it. Equating gnosticism with Freemasonry also had me scratching my head.

      • Faye is a problematic author because he rarely seems to explain matters adequately and often makes careless or inaccurate comments. However, he is not entirely wrong about the issue of Gnosticism vs. Paganism. The link he makes between Freemasonry and Gnosticism is true because many Masonic groups derived their doctrines from Gnostic teachings, but it is irrelevant because there are many different forms of Freemasonry, and undoubtedly some take no influence from Gnosticism and even reject it.

        Concerning the link between Gnosticism and Paganism, as I understand the issue, that really depends on what type of Gnosticism we are speaking of, because there were many different sects/cults with varying teachings, so there were surely a few forms of Gnosticism that can be considered “Pagan” in some sense. However, if we speak of what is typically understood as “Gnosticism,” Faye’s posing of Gnosticism as being in contradistinction to Paganism is actually valid. First, I should mention that I don’t think that Plato’s philosophy should be taken as a complete representation of Pagan thought, even though it is technically a Pagan philosophy, or at least one emerging from a Pagan “social matrix” (I think the fundamental relationship between Pagan ideas and Plato’s thought has been pointed out rather accurately by Mircea Eliade at the end of his The Myth of the Eternal Return). In addition, Platonic philosophy can interpreted in both Pagan and non-Pagan ways, just as other philosophies which are non-Pagan can be compounded on top of it, changing the actual nature of “Platonism.”

        As for Gnosticism per se (meaning, what is understood as the major forms of Gnosticism), the reason Faye is not wrong is because its essential teaching views the world of nature as corrupt and evil, which is in contrast to the Pagan view whereby nature is a valued creation of the Sacred and where the supernatural has some presence in the natural. In his article on Mircea Eliade, David J. Levy made a brief explanation which illustrates the fundamental difference between Gnosticism and Paganism (and apropos to the majority of religious beliefs): “Homo religiosus of whatever tradition catches and clings to intimations of the sacred in the profane course of events. What this means is not that the consciousness of religious man rejects the conditions of human existence as unworthy of his true spiritual nature, as the Gnostics would have us believe, but that he sees the world as itself symbolic, a universal cipher of a reality beyond. This according to Eliade is at the heart of every religious world view.” Ideally, I would have quoted Eliade himself, but that would require too much extra searching through his writings and I only wanted to make the point briefly. I hope that clarifies the problem.

  7. Platonism is not the same as Neoplatonism, of course.

    • That is right, and while I admittedly have not studied it very much, I will dare to say that it is likely well-founded to argue that Neoplatonism is even further removed from genuine Pagan thought and attitudes. Furthermore, it is always important to remember the separation and distance between actual Paganism and the Pagan Weltanschauung (which is what is studied when one studies their essential religious principles, attitudes, and way of being) and certain individual philosophies which emerge in a certain society and context by rational argumentation and intellectual projection of ideas (such as in the manner of Platonic and derived philosophies).

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