The Doctrine of the Four Ages (RATMW 22)

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Chapter 22

The Doctrine of the Four Ages


In the second part of his magnum opus, Julius Evola takes us on a first step towards understanding the blunders of academia and the concepts that the ancient world had about the development of humankind. Many traditional civilizations seemed to have variations on a myth which saw humankind as going through four or five (differences are in the details and do not seem to contradict each other) in which there was a clear descent from a divine origin to a more materialistic and quarrelsome one. This was a descent from a state of grace and order to one of increasing chaos and deception.

One key aspect that should be highlighted here is that every one of these myths made it clear that when divinity walked on Earth, it existed in parallel with inferior races. That is, more primitive and animal-like races were not believed to have descended from higher beings. These higher beings were rather the fathers and initiators of cultures through the traditions of a higher caste 1.

“As far as the development of science is concerned, we are blinded by a gross misunderstanding; that is, to assume a judgemental attitude toward those times in which men saw effects in the causes, on the basis of times in which men with effort ascended from the effects to the causes; in which people only care about effects; in which it is said that it is useless to be concerned about causes; and in which people have forgotten what a cause really means.”
—J. de Maistre, Soires de St. Petersburg (Paris, 1924), 1.63.
Quoted by Julius Evola in Chapter 22 of Revolt Against the Modern World on page 182

Tikal was abandoned towards the end of the 9th century A.D.

The predominant ideas in these myths is also that knowledge is not built up from the ground by collecting very partial and inconclusive parts as modern science does, but rather received from above in a holistic manner that saw universal connections.

“A very different science, which originated from above and was therefore very dangerous. This explains why in the beginning science was always mysterious and confined to the temples, in which it eventually became extinct when the only thing this ‘flame’ could do was to burn.”

There are references to more esoteric and mystic interpretations that are held by deeper and more spiritual studies, but Evola makes a very wise decision in avoiding going into those recesses and focusing on a wider and more profane audience. In keeping things ‘sober’ for the reader, Evola’s main point remains around the idea of decay and the pointing out of the direction which knowledge and the methodology humankind uses to explore the universe have taken in the modern world.

“In any event one must realize that these and similar indications will play a minimal role for those who are not determined to change their own frame of mind. Every epoch has its own ‘myth’ through which it reflects a given collective climate. Today the aristocratic idea that mankind has higher origins, namely, a past of light and of spirit, has been replaced by the democractic idea of evolutionism, which derives the higher from the lower, man from animal, civilization from barbarism. This is not so much the ‘objective’ result of a free and conscious scientific inquiry, but rather one of the many reflections that the advent of the modern world, characterized by inferior social and spiritual strata and by man without traditions, has necessarily produced on the intellectual and cultural plane. Thus we should not delude ourselves: some ‘positive’ superstitions will always produce alibis to defend themselves.”
—Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, Chapter 22: ‘The Doctrine of the Four Ages’

1 This leads us to the clarification of a big misunderstanding regarding the Maya. The Maya of the great classical cities (Copan, Tikal, etc., most located in Guatemala), who were the descendants of the originators of their great lore and high knowledge, died out long ago. These, as a peak, were the ones who brought about the death of their own culture and lineage. When the Spanish arrived, all that was left of the Mayas was a corrupt and reduced aristocracy, and inferior castes that held on to a totemic cult that can still be seen in Guatemala today. Nothing remains of the solar aristocratic tradition whose peoples brought knowledge, built temples and communicated with the (higher) divine.

Modern "Mayas" in Guatemala. Only in name, not in Tradition.
Modern “Maya” in Guatemala; Maya in name, but not in Tradition.

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