Cóndor’s work Sangreal opens with an immense piece that not only represents the sound and method of the band most accurately than any of the others, but which eclipses the totality of their work, past and present. It signals the opening of a path promised to those who have become, as the lyrics say, “worthy of the forests and rivers”1. The rest of the album flows from that liberating trial and its triumphant outcome; not the work that many expected, though perhaps the one that could better express the composer’s aural apprehension of the theme under exposition.
The magnificent piece that bears the name of the whole work, ‘Sangreal’, is one of those works of art which is made immortal by virtue of its elemental purity and its going beyond its own conscious vision, however relatable to the composer’s own artistic evolution it may be when seen from a distance and broadly analyzed in terms of style. This self-surpassing is only achievable through experience —through action2, and is thus beyond the reach of rationalizations unassisted by a knowing that may only come about when such reflexions are directed at a long-lasting participation as well as a refined and scholarly study3.
O mond nòu,
Te liuri la miá vida,
Mas cèrqui en la miá alma
Lo San Sangreal.
The search for the Holy Grail has been vulgarized and therefore been misunderstood like many other ideas that are but remnants of ancient Traditional cosmovisions. It is arrogantly assumed that the urges and ways of seeing life that belong to Westernized and globalized modernity have been constant throughout the existence of human beings. This is the same error that lies at the very foundation of modern theories on human history and sociology, which see in their own temporal and particular predicament, which is a result of their own times and being, a necessary correspondence with those of people whose experience is far removed from ours.
§ The Crusades
“Western diplomats and politicians are careful to avoid any mention of the medieval crusades around Muslim leaders, lest they appear insensitive or conjure up memories of the harm done by the medieval holy wars against them. Unfortunately, these sentiments and approaches are fueled on both sides by an extremely weak understanding of the actual crusades or the medieval world in which they flourished. As a result, decisions—sometimes tragic decisions—are made based on deeply flawed concepts of history.”
—Thomas F. Madden, The Concise History of the Crusades, Preface
Although we will discuss certain concepts pertaining The Crusades from the point of view of a relatively balanced historian, it should not be assumed, therefore, that the argument will run towards a political favoritism. The intention is to hereby provide a background to the equally important questions of spirituality behind the minds of true warriors, whether educated or not, who see meaning and purpose in fight. To set up an even ground, however, it is important to correct some of the popular misunderstandings that have arisen as part of the wave of explicit anti-European sentiment that certain agents have been actively promoting.
There are two main issues that should be cleared up first. These are two blatantly disingenuous assumptions that have been propagated with dubious intent over the masses who live in ignorance about the comparison and relationship between Islam, Christianity and post-Enlightenment thought. The first is the idea that the Christian world in their European greed, attacked the lands of Islam, “the religion of peace”, in order to rape and loot —because that’s just how wicked they were. The second is more the result of extreme narrow-mindedness and arrogance, and it consists in the belief that religious beliefs are simply not worth fighting for, as opposed to modern secular ideologies or nations, depending on who you ask.
With respect to the first of these, it should be pointed out that Christianity did not acquire a political dimension to it, not to mention a warlike one, until it was adopted and fused with the Roman Empire. That Christianity is fundamentally and truly a religion of peace can be glimpsed from the New Testament. Even when wielding war became a necessary consideration for Christianity, the often misunderstood (by those who would read his words in odious passing) Saint Augustine emphatically warned that even though such a concept as a Holy War could be summoned, it should definitely not be used for conversion or expansion of Christianity. That his word was not heeded or that there were truly greedy and manipulative leaders who used Christianity for their aims is whole different story.
¡Qué ingeniosos y hábiles tuvieron que ser los dioses para engañarnos!
Rápidos, estrepitosos y furtivos,
hablando siempre en su lengua extraña.
¡Qué incierta era su música, qué incierto su desconsuelo!
¿Cómo fue que nos engañaron y olvidaron su presencia?
Islam, on the other hand, started off as a fusion of the religious and the political. It was the prophet himself who served literally as a first spiritual, military and political leader for the Muslim world. He, unlike Jesus, did wield a sword, not to protect his people from outside aggressors, but to expand his influence through warlike activity. The present intention is not to disparage Islam, but to bring facts to the table.
The reader is reminded that by the time of Pope Urban II’s call for a first crusade in 1096, Islam had already invaded the Iberian peninsula in 711 and had been forcefully stopped by the Franks as they attempted to continue their armed conquest of Europe. Muslims had already attempted to conquer Sicily. Islam had, furthermore, been in a tug of war with the Byzantine Empire (Roman Eastern) since 780 in a series of conflicts initiated by Muslim religious-political expansion. To even think that Pope Urban II’s call for a Holy War was uncalled for or based on greed is to ignore hundreds of years of heavy Muslim aggression against Europe. This is not one side of history being imposed on an audience with no other source (as is the case with the fraudulent history of the World Wars of the twentieth century), these are facts corroborated in a glorious manner by Muslims themselves.
Believing that modern constructions of value are more accurate than those of the past is a singular mental malady of the modern world, and very few people are able to challenge it, even “educated” people. In fact, it is especially college educated people who tend to have a narrow and inviolable conception of the superiority of modernity. Many of the people who live closer to actual life and strife tend to believe in something more diffuse and organic that is not found in the books of intellectuals.
“By way of introduction I will argue that no idea is as absurd as the idea of progress, which together with its corollary notion of the superiority of modern civilization, has created its own ‘positive’ alibis by falsifying history, by insinuating harmful myths in people’s minds, and by proclaiming itself sovereign at the crossroads of the plebeian ideology from which it originated. (…) Our contemporaries must truly have become blind if they really thought they could measure everything by their standards and consider their own civilization as privileged, as the one to which the history of the world was preordained and outside of which there is nothing but barbarism, darkness, and superstition.”
—Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, Foreword
Most modern ideology and morality is based on the idea that materialism and utilitarianism lead to the real. That if we believe that having more of everything is good, as in consumerist culture, than surely that was the prevalent thought for any human being in the past. The idea is that in the end, we are all just little animals trying to amass fortune and seek a material satisfaction that people nowadays call “happiness”. It is assumed that we all have a merchant’s mentality, and that this is singly the best and most appropriate way of seeing reality. In truth, this merchant’s way is only one possibility with no objective claim to superiority, and it is what would eventually become secular ideology in modern states that exist, not for the improvement of mankind, but simply to maintain a certain status quo while the population is distracted.
At the time of the Crusades, however, Europe, though covered by an aristocratic mantle of Christian domination, was still highly pagan, highly European, and it still upheld the spiritual and the noble as the most important. Although, like any large series of interrelated historical events, the Crusades were infected by manipulation inspired by material greed, they were primordially motivated and based on spiritual and metaphysical principles. While today many an American soldier will vow to die for his country and liberty although those are simply artificial constructs, in the past, people would die for their spiritual beliefs. This all depends on what is the single defining feature of ones existence. For industrialist secular modernity, it is its people’s right to be whatever they want to be in their imaginations, and to keep buying flat screen T.V.s and hamburgers; for aristocratic medieval Europe, it was the protection of the space where they existed as an encroaching enemy grew a step a time, which they accomplished by creating a goal out of the liberation of the Holy Land.
Vi que el camino era largo
Largo el camino a tierra santa.
Ondulaban los montes soberbios
Como mi ánimo altivo.
Me acechaba la muerte,
Muerte en tierra santa.
§ The Greater Holy War
“The greater holy war is of an inner and spiritual nature; the other is the material war waged against an enemy population.”
—Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, Chapter 17: ‘The Greater and the Lesser Holy War’
One of the greatest tragedies of modern secular society is the complete loss of meaning along with a sundering of spiritual (not necessarily implying religiosity) values from the sphere of action. In the traditional world, the material was considered secondary to the spiritual, not because they were delusional, but because that was the chain of meaning-giving that was sustained back then. Today, the mental, the spiritual, the psychological, are somehow seen as contingent to the physical, even though verbally and unofficially even the most rationalist scholar will acknowledge the utmost importance of will, inspiration and discipline over any material means when it comes to achievement.
Noche mía, me has seguido.
Has cruzado conmigo los mares,
Burlado las trampas del tiempo.
La luz que enferma los ojos y
Quema las manos,
Te ha buscado entre frías estrellas.
Pero ahí nunca estarás:
Estás en la sangre que baña mi espada y
La sangre que corre en mis venas.
The reigning paradigm of that ever-fading past (already blurry and degraded in the Middle Ages) afforded a supernatural effect or connection to every single action. What was done on one plane was considered to affect several others. A rationalist explanation to this will limit such spheres to the different mental planes that the best of psychology and physiology has discovered in the human being, but these basically define reality as the human being perceives it. That is, they are not precisely less important or less real than the physical, but simply another aspect of the human experience.
Given this balance and system of correspondences, actions were seen as imbued with spiritual meaning, and certain signs in the environment, impressions, inspirations, were seen as directly connected to a physical reality at some point in time (that is, something that had happened, that was happening, or was going to happen). The modern secularist ignoramus will be quick to point this out as a superstition, but it is only superstition when coupled with a poor understanding. Behind it all is the idea of paying attention to everything and all kinds of inputs in a universe where all events are linked at and across any sphere/level.
“The ‘experience of nature’ as it is understood by modern man, namely, as a lyrical, subjectivist pathos awoken in the sentiments of the individual at the sight of nature, was almost entirely absent in traditional man. Before the high and snowy peaks, the silence of the woods, the flowing of the rivers, mysterious caves, and so on, traditional man did not have poetic and subjective impressions typical of a romantic soul, but rather real sensations —even though at times confused—of the supernatural, of the powers (numina) that permeated those places”
—Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, Chapter 19: ‘Space, Time, the Earth’
Furthermore, the free will that humans boasted of could be used to direct their experience through trials of different kinds which resulted in inner as well as outer transformations. That is, not only would the actions result in physical changes in “reality” but they would also result in spiritual changes. Modern psychology has no problem in acknowledging that trying situations will have deep mental and emotional effects on the individual who goes through them, yet this ancient view is still reprimanded and seen as quaint. It must be said that despite these popular and official apprehensions, high achievers in any field maintain these philosophies even if only at a practical level and without a deeper understanding of their nature.
“The external vicissitudes experienced during a military campaign cause the inner ‘enemy’ to emerge and to put up a fierce resistance and a good fight in the form of the animalistic instincts of self-preservation, fear, inertia, compassion, or other passions”
—Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, Chapter 17: ‘The Greater and the Lesser Holy War’
This concept was latent in the Aryan traditions going back to India as they are portrayed in the Bhagavad Gita. It was understood and underscored by medieval Europe. It was explicitly instated in Islamic doctrine which made a distinction between two holy wars: el-jihadul-akbar and el-jihadul-ashgar; the greater and the lesser holy wars, respectively. The secularized forms of Islam that attempt to erase all signs of war-mongering from their understanding of their own religion notwithstanding, the lesser holy war was still a vital part of Islam, and it consisted in wielding literal war against very real people. The greater holy war was a man’s struggle against the impulses that make him a mere human, against chaos, and against material attachments. That is, a struggle to surpass oneself.
The more the universe, and life within it, is understood in a holistic manner (therefore apprehending something closer to a complete picture) reveals a very different picture of reality than the contradictory and fearful materialism of today’s world which fears everything. In fearing everything, in shying away from death, it also assumes that the Traditional world lived by those same fears and manias, hence the limited Freudian theory, more apt to analyze apes than spiritual human beings. For in the Traditional world, contrary to the secular, there is no shying away from our insignificance, from the fact that Death is an important part of nature and, furthermore, that it is not an end but a transformation. That life does not end with the apparent demise of human being, for life is the current of energy from one generation to the next, and between organisms and the rest of the cosmos. Sounds like meaningless banter to those not used to reflect upon these matters, but someone who has already come to such a deduction will readily acknowledge what is here said.
“Those who are seers of the truth have concluded of the nonexistent, that there is no endurance, and of the eternal, that there is no change. This they have concluded by studying the nature of both. That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul. The material body of the indestructible, immeasurable and eternal living entity is sure to come to an end; therefore, fight, O descendant of Bharata. Neither he who thinks the living entity the slayer nor he who thinks it slain is in knowledge, of the self slays not nor is slain. For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has come not into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.”
—Bhagavad Gita, 2.16-.20
El árbol mira hacia lo alto
Como el caballero agotado,
Cuya sangre cubre la corteza
Con su escudo de roble al lado.
Sus raíces llaman de lo profundo,
Y su sangre densa se mezcla
Con la tierra que vida le ha dado.
Descansa ahora, que vuelves
Como el polvo que danzó
En la fiebre de la batalla.
Hermano junto a hermano
Al cielo miran cansados.
1 “Han dejado allí una espada, para señalar que vencieron en esa Guerra contra la Muerte y por la Eternidad. Es este el resultado de la Alquimia, del Arte Real, practicado por los Héroes y Reyes.”, Miguel Serrano, La Resurrección del Héroe
2 “The normal, healthy Westerner has no desire to escape from life, his urge is to conquer it and reduce it to order and harmony. It is only the pathological types who long to ‘cease upon the midnight with no pain,’ to be free from the wheel of birth and death; the normal Western temperament demands ‘life, more life‘.”, Dion Fortune, The Mystical Qabalah
3 “La meditación consiste en el valor de convertir la verdad de nuestros propios principios y el espacio de nuestras propias metas en aquello que más precisa ser cuestionado.”, Martin Heidegger, Caminos de Bosque (Der Feldweg), translation by Helena Cortés and Arturo Leyte