For the most part, organized religion cannot be trusted, even those outside of the Abrahamic sphere have become corrupted over time to the degree that they are more likely to hinder rather than aid spiritual development, at least if taken on wholesale. This is part of the natural cycle though, as the age known to the Hindus as Kali Yuga has left no tradition untainted at least in some respects by modernity (even Hinduism itself). The ‘race to the bottom’ that has characterized the modern age (specifically the era beginning in the 18th Century and ending around the middle of the 20th Century) has meant that we find ourselves in a spiritual wasteland, where all of the ancient and noble virtues of yore have been cast aside in favour of means to achieve either material or psychological gratification. This too affects those who claim to hold the keys to spiritual truth, from Christian, Hindu and New Age scam-artists to easily-offended and violence-advocating Muslim preachers to self-righteous and judgemental Buddhist monks.
Even ‘indigenous’ spiritual traditions (lumped together under the label of ‘paganism’) are not exempt from folly, since often-times they simply provide excuses for either pathological hatred for other races in the case of folkish paganism, or (at the other end of the spectrum) engaging in recreational drug-use and sexual perversion on the basis that “our ancestors did it.” In this particular case, this perspective comes from ignorance regarding the religious practices of Ancient Europeans, which were a mixture of different traditions from different peoples that eventually ended up becoming melded into an assortment of contradictory beliefs and practices by people living in the same area, but with very different spiritual orientations.
However, because I myself have gone through these phases, I sympathize with those Westerners who seek something meaningful in the traditions of our ancestors. Christianity is a hollow shell of what it once was; there is no longer any relevant spiritual Tradition within Catholicism (and especially not in Protestantism) and so it has merely become a reminder of our colonization by a Middle-Eastern cult and the resulting hypocrisy displayed by many of its devotees, who adhere to letter of the Word but not the essence. Therefore, it is only natural to look at what came before to find a spiritual tradition that resonates with one’s folk spirit. The only problem with this is the paucity of sources regarding these traditions and those that do survive were often written by those who were attempting to suppress them.
The unfortunate result is often a make-it-up-as-you-go-along sort of religion, with bits and pieces scraped together to form something that looks ‘authentic,’ but is really a reflection of a modern mindset pathetically attempting to break out of itself (for which there is no better example than Wicca). While I feel that ‘folkish’ paganism is usually closer to the mark in terms of reflecting authentic Tradition, it too is tainted by its origins within nationalist movements of the early 20th Century and the pseudo-scientific racial theories which often accompanied them.
Therefore, it has also been fashionable for Westerners to look further afield for spiritual inspiration, usually to the mysterious East, a trend which has been observed since at least the 19th Century and was originally known as ‘Orientalism.’ This too is beset with folly, not least because the very traditions that Westerners sought to learn from (Hinduism and Buddhism in particular) were being transformed by changes brought upon by a combination of imposition by Western imperialism and attempts by local regimes to retain their power in the face of it (the concept of ‘Hinduism’ itself is a construct of attempts by the British colonial administration in India to describe the myriad religious traditions of India).
Even before this later phase of undermining spiritual Tradition, religious intelligence organizations such as the Society of Jesus (whose members are better known as ‘Jesuits’) were working hard all over the world to alter with historical and religious texts to better reflect their own world-view, no doubt with help from local religious leaders with similar agendas, as they worked towards their goal of a one-world religion by making Catholicism palatable to indigenous peoples. This means that even religions outside of the West have become corrupted from within and without, and are therefore often no better sources for spiritual development than what little we have left in Christianity and our ‘pagan’ traditions (though they may help to fill in gaps in some cases).
This is not to dismiss or devalue what truth can be gleaned from existing religious texts or to disparage those within any religious tradition that are sincerely devoted to God, but rather to illustrate how there is no certainty or security in adopting any pre-existing spiritual models for one’s own personal uses. Though there are some Traditionalists such as Rene Guenon who found refuge in the few esoteric traditions that remain (he himself converted to Islam and was initiated into the Egyptian Sufi tradition), others such as Julius Evola recognized the futility in looking to the fragments of what is left from times-gone-by and emphasized the importance of an inner, personal orientation towards the world of Tradition. He advised those of us who felt the call to “ride the tiger” and push through modernity and come out on the other side.
Evola died in the early 1970s, and so he was unlikely to have been able to perceive the ways in which a revival of Tradition could have been facilitated by the proliferation of information that we have now thanks to technological innovation. The irony being that technological development in the form of the Industrial Revolution was one of the key factors in the destruction of Tradition and the spread of modernity across the world. Yet, it is not the technology itself which has the capacity to obscure Sacred Tradition, but the spirit (or lack thereof) which is wielding it. We are now living in ‘postmodernity’ (some would even claim that we are living in ‘post-postmodernity’), which means that we have more-or-less passed through the darkest phase of modernity and the deepest pit of spiritual humiliation of the human species.
This is not to say that we do not bear the responsibility of lifting ourselves out of the darkness, but that we are being helped by being supported by the Earth herself, something which was not necessarily the case until fairly recently. As modernity reflects capitulation to illusion, believing the finite to be true and losing touch with eternity, this means that it has no staying power and can only be a passing phase. There is no going back, we cannot return to where we once were before the sink into modernity, but neither can we remain there, lamenting the past and what was once lost. The time has come to raise ourselves above and beyond, to recognize our true nature and reject the mostly self-imposed restrictions which keep us at the level of animals.
All those religious doctrines which make us feel like we need to rely on others (whether they be living humans or egregores such as ‘Jesus Christ’) for our spiritual salvation, all those ‘scientific’ theories that portray humans as subject to their base instincts and needing to be culled like animals, all those political ideologies which seek to put man in the place of God and have us place our faith in the rational mind and the apparatus of the state must be rejected; we are quickly outgrowing our need for them. Of course, some are outgrowing these faster than others, and it will take a very long time before such things can be fully dispensed with, but the process must begin now.
Those of us that can perceive the flaws of the System as it presents itself have a duty to transcend it, because it is no longer necessary for us. Our law is that of God, not man, though we may recognize the ways in which God works through man in order to achieve his ends. The past should certainly be learned from, and my sharp criticism of established traditions should not be taken for the same arrogance of the modern man who thinks that he can rely on his own mind in order to elevate himself. Rather, such ancient ways can be taken as signposts, to guide us the Way, which is always our own Way, for each of us to walk. Though we may have fellow-travellers alongside us and may sometimes require aid, it is up to each of us to decide what to do for ourselves without interference from outside.
This is why it is necessary to reduce reliance on the perspective of those who claim to have ‘authority’ of any kind, because unless you can directly perceive of the ways in which they can demonstrate their expertise, the truth is that they too are on a path of self-discovery and cannot tell you how to walk yours, no matter how much they may want to make you think (or you yourself may want to think) that they can. This is not the same as disregarding advice, because such can be taken or not, you have a choice. A command is only acceptable in situations where the person being commanded has agreed to that position, otherwise it is an imposition and is a violation of one’s right to be sovereign.