Charles III: The Traditionalist King of Britain

As of September 8th 2022, Queen Elizabeth II is dead. That means the man we called Prince Charles is now King Charles III. I’m not going to talk too much about whether it’s “the end of an era” for us in the UK. Mostly because I don’t give too much of a shit. But there’s one thing that interests me about what the reign of Charles III might mean. I speak, of course, about his support for Traditionalism; specifically the philosophy of one René Guénon.

Now, some people stumbling onto this article might well wonder, who is René Guénon? René Guénon was a French esotericist and religious philosopher who is perhaps best known as an early proponent, or perhaps arguably the founder, of a school of thought known as Traditionalism. Traditionalism in this setting refers to the belief that all major religions are founded upon a single shared set of primordial metaphysical “truths” referred to as “perennial philosophy”. “Perennial philosophy”, otherwise referred to as “Absolute Truth”, is to be understood as a set of axioms that are to be intuited through a “divine intellect” that is also their source, believed to be latent in the souls of all humans. Traditionalists also tend to believe that adherence to “perennial philosophy”, through one of the major world religions based upon it, is the sole foundation of all genuine esoteric practice. Unsurprisingly, proponents of Traditionalism believe that the “truth” of “perennial philosophy” has been “lost” in modernity, seemingly having been obscured by modernism, secularism, “The Enlightenment” and similar philosophical tendencies, and that we must therefore abandon modernist ways of thought and life in order to reaffirm the”unchanging truth” that is “Tradition”. In practice, this tends to mean embracing a certain set of oppressive hierarchical relationships deemed to be in alignment with that perennial “Tradition”. René Guénon, for his part, opposed democracy in favour of a rigid caste system ruled by spiritual elites.

While Guénon is one of the earliest proponents of this concept of Traditionalism, other notable proponents include Frithjof Schuon, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Martin Lings, Titus Burckhardt, and Charles Upton, to name just a few. The fascist philosopher Julius Evola was also, in his own way, a Traditionalist, though he apparently developed certain ideas about Traditionalism that differed from Guénon’s original thought. Traditionalism in turn has been massively influential on not only modern far-right and fascist politics but also certain segments of modern conservatism. Evola’s Traditionalism became part of the broad ideology of Italian neo-fascism as well as the broader European “New Right”. For that matter, Evola himself attempted and failed to influence the Italian Fascist and Nazi German regimes. The ideas of both René Guénon and Julius Evola form a major part of the ideology of Aleksandr Dugin, one of Vladimir Putin’s most important advisors and the creator of the Russian Eurasianist movement. Guénon’s ideas also seem to have been influential on Steven Bannon, the former advisor to Donald Trump, as well as a major interest for Olavo de Carvalho, a Brazilian political philosopher, conspiracy theorist and apparent advisor to Jair Bolsonaro. In Argetina, Guénon’s ideas were widely read in (and had a major impact on) the bourgeoning fascist movement in the country during the 1920s and 30s. To this day Traditionalism is also a current in contemporary esotericism. Nigel Jackson, after having abandoned the Luciferian witchcraft of Michael Howard (which he would go on to completely denounce), took up the Guénon’s Traditionalism as his new esoteric path.

The basic throughline of Guénon’s Traditionalism is obviously a recollection of a much older idea found within the “humanist” tradition of the Christian Renaissance, in which it was often argued that all religions contained some aspect of a larger divine mystery. In this argument, the divine mystery means the hidden teaching of Christianity, which was said to have been spoken by Jesus in parables to all except his disciples and hidden in all religions preceding Christianity through poetic language and esoteric symbolism. Renaissance humanist philosophers such as Giovanni Pico della Mirandola argued that this idea was confirmed Dionysius the Areopagite and supported by Augustine of Hippo’s statement that “What we now call the Christian religion existed amongst the ancients, and was from the beginning of the human race, until Christ Himself came in the flesh; from which time the already existing true religion began to be styled Christian”.

In the context of the time, this humanist thesis probably emerged as a way of reconciling Christianity with the ancient pre-Christian Greco-Roman philosophy and culture that had been rediscovered at the time, not to mention some Christian encounters with Jewish mysticism (Mirandola in particular is considered the father of what’s called Christian Kabbalah), but it has persisted over the centuries and can be found in certain variations within not only Traditionalism but also Theosophy and certain New Age and spiritualist circles. In fact, you’ve probably heard about the concept of “perennial philosophy” from the work of Aldous Huxley, who despite not being a Traditionalist in the strict sense definitely adhered to his own concept of perennial philosophy, for which he titled a book about mysticism. The irony of this, of course, is that the Renaissance is sometimes cited in Traditionalist narratives as the beginning of the current stage of humanity’s supposed spiritual decline. Even more ironic is the fact that the very term “perennial philosophy” itself was actually coined in 1540 by Agostino Stueco, an Italian Renaissance humanist.

Of a certain relevance to Satanists and travellers of the Left Hand Path as well as the subject of Satanic Panic is Guénon’s denunctions of what he considered to be “Satanism” and “Luciferianism”. Guénon believed that, just as surely as there existed a great perennial philosophy and tradition, there existed forces of “counter-tradition” or “counter-initiation” in the world, which thus opposed tradition. “Counter-initiation”, he said, involves “true Satanism” which “overturns the sacred” by way of “degradation until the most extreme degree”. For Guénon, such forces of “counter-initiation” included occultists such as Theodor Reuss, Aleister Crowley, Jean Bricaud, Charles Detre, G. I. Gurdjieff, R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, and possibly Giuliano Kremmerz – no doubt all of them occultists who Guénon disagreed with or detested for whatever reason. Guénon also included Freemasons in his network of “counter-tradition”, as well as Mormons and practitioners of ancient Egyptian magic (the latter of which he believed consisted only of “dangerous” and “inferior” magic dedicated to Set or Typhon). Guénon also frequently claimed to be the victim of attacks by “counter-initiates” against him. To Guénon, the difference between Satanism and Luciferianism was simply a matter of consciousness – Luciferianism meant rebellion against tradition in the name of the idea that Satan was actually an angel of light named Lucifer or simply a form of “unconscious Satanism”, while Satanism per se meant the conscious subversion and degradation of tradition in itself. For Guénon, “unconscious Satanism” meant practically any theory that he believed “disfigured” the concept of God, including the “limited God” theory and the idea of an evolving God, which he thus attributed to thinkers like Baruch Spinoza, G. W. F. Hegel, and William James.

It cannot be overstated how important Guénon is to the imagination of right-wing and fascist conspiracism. In fact, I consider my precise lack of discussion of Guénon in my previous article on Satanic Panic to be a gross oversight. If you consider right-wing conspiracy theories with Guénon in mind, you can easily imagine all of the major villains of the right-wing imagination as “agents of counter-initiation”. That angle is essentially the idea of many of the original anti-Masonic and anti-Illuminati conspiracy theories in that the premise was that shadowy organisations were fomenting revolution in order to destroy the Catholic Church (thus, “Tradition”). From this standpoint, right-wing conspiracism itself emerges as an emergent, organic expression of what is essentially traditionalist ideology, and thus the growth of the far-right also means the growth of traditionalism at large.

So, having established all of this, how do we go from René Guénon to the new King of the United Kingdom? What does Charles III have to do with Guénon and his Traditionalism? The short answer is this: Charles III is a Traditionalist, in the sense that he is a student of René Guénon’s spiritual ideology.

When it comes to discussions of Charles III’s quasi-activist role in British politics and its public discourse, most people focus on either his tendency to talk about environmentalism, his apparent interest in homeopathy, or his prolific opposition to genetically modified crops. But if we take note of the fact that Charles buttresses those latter two concerns in a generalized appeal to “traditional” knowledge and ways of life, it is not hard to realize – and I think not even many critics of Charles’ political activism notice this – the way that Traditionalist ideology plays a role in even this particular form of nuisance politics.

Charles III is a patron of an organisation called the Temenos Academy, which asserts itself to be “dedicated to the teaching and dissemination of the perennial wisdom”, which they regard as “the ground of every civilisation”. This is very much an explicit statement of Guénon’s ideology of Traditionalism. Charles III, who has been a patron of the Temenos Academy since it was founded in 1991, seems to have held the work of the Academy in high regard, saying that the organisation was committed to “fostering a wider awareness of the great spiritual traditions we have inherited from the past”, which he asserted “form the basis of mankind’s most civilised values and have been handed down to us over many centuries”. Charles III also seems to have been a close friend of one of the Academy’s founders, Keith Critchlow, who apparently travelled with Charles for 30 years and taught both Charles and Prince Harry the art of “sacred geometry”. This friendship probably began while Charles was busy campaigning against “inappropriate architecture” (presumably meaning the “monstrous carbuncles” of “modern” architecture) in 1984, at which time Critchlow had come up with the idea behind the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, which Charles later founded in 2005. In 1986, Charles established the Prince’s School of Architecture, which then incorporated Critchlow’s Visual Islamic and Traditional Arts department into its cirriculum, which in turn was later transferred to the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts when it was founded. Critchlow himself was also acquianted with Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a Traditionalist intellectual who was also a scholar of Sufi Islam.

The connection to Islam is somewhat fascinating, considering the nature of British conservative politics and its tendency towards Islamophobia, and so merits considerable attention. In fact, Charles III has something of a reputation as an unexpected advocate for the merits of Islam. In 1993, Charles III gave a speech at the Sheldonian Theatre in which he urged greater understanding between Islam and “the West”, arguing that Islam and Christianity share the same tradition of ethical monotheism, that sharia law is misunderstood by the public because of Western media, and, most importantly, that Islam, unlike modern Christianity, “has preserved a metaphysical and unified view of ourselves and the world around us”. In 1996, he spoke at the Foreign Office Conference Centre to encourage the teaching of Islamic pedagogy and philosophy to young Britons, in 2010 he gave a speech to the Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies arguing that the Quran teaches that “there are limits to the abundance of Nature” established by God and that “we cannot exist on our own without the intricately balanced web of life around us”, and according to his 2018 biography, Charles At Seventy: Thoughts, Hopes, and Dreams written by Robert Jobson, it is recounted that Charles studied the Quran and that he argued that Christianity needs to learn from Islam as well as Judaism, and thus rediscover “universal truths that dwell at the heart of these religions” in order to secure the future.

Such a worldview can be interpreted as an appeal to tolerance or even multiculturalism, and it has certainly endeared him to Muslims around the world. Indeed, if his biography is to be believed, Charles III actually opposed the US invasion of Iraq, disagreed with banning the niqab, and even argued that a political solution for Palestine was necessary to resolve the enmity that he felt was at the root of international terrorism. However, his particular appreciation of Islam may also have brought him on the side of reactionary religious authoritarianism. In 1989, when Ayatollah Khomeini issued the infamous death fatwa against Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, Charles III refused to give any public support for Rushdie’s right to freedom of expression. According to Martin Amis, who had an argument with Charles III over this subject, Charles seemed to suggest that no one had the right to insult “someone else’s deepest convictions”, which by implication means that he may have supported Khomeini on this issue. He also seems to have made the same argument much later in response to the publication of Danish cartoons that mocked the Prophet Muhammad.

In view of the broader context of Traditionalism, any connection to Islam is probably not an accident. Islam, or rather Sufi Islam in particular, is one of the religions that Traditionalists believe contains the perennial philosophy. In fact, Traditionalists also often believe that, whereas in “the West” this perennial philosophy is almost entirely lost or forgotten, in “the East” it has been preserved in doctrines such as Sufi Islam and Advaita Vedanta. Moreover, René Guénon himself converted to Islam in 1912, later moved to Egypt in 1930 in order to be initiated in a Sufi order and then study, practice, and preach Islam, and apparently the last word he uttered before he died in 1951 was “Allah”. This perhaps also explains the fact of Guénon’s work having spread and become as influential as it did in the Islamic world, at least if Seyyed Hossein Nasr is to be believed. In Iran, three out of seven members of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution organised by Ayatollah Khomeini were influenced by Guénon’s Traditionalism, and meanwhile Guénon’s work was widely read and discussed among the Iranian intelligentsia during the 1960s and 70s. Likewise, in Pakistan, Guénon’s ideas seem to have inspired the famed author Hasan Askari, as well as A. K. Brohi, the intellectual politician who served in the regime of Zia ul-Haq, and apparently Muhammad Shafi Deobandi, the father of Deobandi Islam.

For all of that, however, while Charles III has been presented as an inveterate anti-Western Islamophile and even a possible Islamic convert by sections of the British establishment and the Transatlantic right-wing press eager to present his appreciation of Islam as a rejection of Christianity and a possible threat to the British nation, Islam is not the only religion that Charles has a special appreciation for. Charles III has also been notable for a similarly intense interest in the Eastern Orthodox Church, which I have to assume has not come at the expense of his appreciation of Islam. In 1997, soon after the death of Princess Diana, Charles III visited Mount Athos, the famous autonomous Greek Orthodox monastic community, presumably seeking to find solace in the mountain’s cloisters. Charles has since made multiple visits to Mount Athos over the years, and in 2004 he offered to assist the Greek and Serbian governments in restoring the Monastery of Chelandari, which was damaged by fire. Around this time he also became a member of an organisation called Friends of Mount Athos, which was set up to raise funds for the Monastery of Chelandari. Close friends said that Charles adorned a section of his Highgrove home with Byzantine icons, possibly originally from Mount Athos, and Athonite monks were convinced that Charles was “Orthodox in his heart”. Charles has also made numerous visits to Orthodox churches not only in Greece but also Serbia, Romania, and elsewhere.

You might be wondering how to make sense of this. Charles III is definitely not a Muslim or a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church in any official capacity. He is a member of the Church of England, and for him to convert to Islam or Eastern Orthodoxy he would have had to give up the right to succeed the throne. Rather, it seems more likely to be the case that Charles admires both Islam and the Eastern Orthodox Church as doctrines in which he sees survivals of what he believes to be the “traditional worldview”. There’s a way that I believe makes more sense of this as it relates to Charles’ affinity for Mount Athos. Abbot Ephraim of the Vatopedi Monastery once said that Athonite monasticism is both “a signpost to heaven” and “a bridge over which pass true spiritual provisions for the world”. From this perspective, we might suppose that Charles III looks at Mount Athos as a worldly link to the universal order of life, a place where “traditional wisdom”, or “perennial philosophy”, and its “blessings” are passed from heaven to earth.

It is worth noting that Charles has also offered some praise to religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, though this praise seems to be mostly in connection to his much larger appraisal of Islam, and his opinion of all three of those religions is connected to his belief that they reject the idea of Man being separate from Nature, religion from science, or mind from matter. Charles III has also praised the principles of Sikhism ahead of his visit to India in 2019. However, it seems clear to me that much of his focus is on the three “Abrahamic” religions, or rather at least two of them: Christianity and Islam. As for Judaism, I haven’t been able to find any extensive discussion of Judaism from Charles, or at least nowhere near as much as Islam or Christianity. That said, Charles was apparently circumcised as an infant by Rabbi Jacob Snowman in a Jewish ceremony, maintained a close friendship with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, and it has often been said that he had a special relationship with the Jewish community. At the same time, however, in 1986 Charles blamed unrest in the Middle East on “an influx of foreign Jews” and called for the United States government to “take on the Jewish lobby” in a letter addressed to his friend Laurens van der Post.

In a much broader sense, Charles III has been rather consistent in his advocacy of Traditionalism as an ideology. As Hannah Gais points out in her article for The Baffler, Charles suggested in an essay in 2006 that “so much discarded and derided tradition is not the enemy of modernity, but is its inevitable future precisely because of the balance that needs to be struck”. In a 2000 address before the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Charles proclaimed that “our secular age” runs the risk of “ignoring, or forgetting, all knowledge of the sacred and spiritual”. In his 2010 book, Harmony: A New Way of Looking At Our World, Charles argued that all the major crises of the modern world comprise a “crisis of perception”, in that humanity no longer knows how to live in harmony with the planet because it has lost sight of the sacred principles that it embodies. In his lectures, Charles III often references the work of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, who let’s once again establish is an intellectual devotee of René Guénon. In fact, I should also note that, in a 2008 issue of Sophia, a journal published by the Foundation for Traditional Studies, a speech from Charles III about humanity’s relationship to the environment, alongside a similar discussion by none other than Seyyed Hossein Nasr, can be found among its content.

Charles III is also a contributor to an organisation called The Matheson Trust, a think tank on comparative religion that was founded by Donald Macleod Matheson in 1974. The Matheson Trust seems to be interested in spreading works of traditionalist scholarship in order to promote the idea of the underlying metaphysical unity of all religions. Charles III has an essay titled A Sense of the Sacred: Building Bridges Between East and West published in Volume 13 of Sacred Web in 2004. Charles also gave an introductory speech for The Matheson Trust’s Sacred Web Conference in 2006. In fact, both the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts and the Temenos Academy are listed as “academic contacts” on The Matheson Trust’s website, suggesting a solid connection between these organisations. Donald Macleod Matheson himself, by the way, in addition to being an active part of the Traditionalist School, having translated the works of Traditionalist authors such as Frithjof Schuon and Titus Burckhardt, was also the Secretary to the National Trust, for which he received appointment as Commander of the Order of the British Empire. That’s quite a prestigious honour, at least when you consider who else has received it.

Perhaps the smoking gun in all this is the fact that Charles III, even if he may not publicly call himself a Traditionalist, is clearly aware of his own connection to the Traditionalist School and its broad movement. The proof of this is that, in that 2006 introductory speech for The Matheson Trust’s Sacred Web Conference I previously referenced, Charles explained that the mission of both the Temenos Academy and Sacred Web is to explore the role of “Tradition” in the modern world while critiquing “the false premises of Modernity”. Charles refers to this critique as the same critique that was set out by none other than René Guénon, or more specifically in Guénon’s book The Reign of Quantity. Thus we see that Charles III, in an audience of Traditionalists, hosted by a Traditionalist organisation, directly acknowledges his ideological and cultural mission as being based on the ideas of René Guénon.

Understand now that it is the Traditionalism of René Guénon that is at the root of many of Charles III’s political involvements. He is a Traditionalist in the sense that he adheres to the basic form of René Guénon’s ideology, albeit in his own distinct way, and he takes that ideology seriously. He genuinely believes in Traditionalism as something that confronts what he believes to be the dominant ideology of modernity, and he defends Traditionalism from the charge of nostalgia by claiming that it seeks not so much the past as much as “the sacred”, and reveres the past only because it consisted of “the sacred”. There are many conservatives across the Atlantic who fail to understand this and so prefer to think of Charles III as little more than a freewheeling liberal dilettante for his inclinations, but no such prejudice could be further from the truth.

Think about why Charles expressed an interest in being called “Defender of Faith”, referencing religion at large, rather than the traditional “Defender of the Faith”, referencing specifically the Church of England to which he is royally bound. To most people it sounds like just an expression of liberal pluralism or multiculturalism, which some may find noble and high-minded while others deem it to be a bewildering eccentricity. But in reality, what appears to the conservative and liberal alike as an expression of multiculturalism is actually based on the Traditionalist premise that all major religions share an underlying metaphysical unity in the form of perennial philosophy.

Or how about Charles’ environmentalism? Most people assume that this is, again, just fashionable liberal politics, and in turn despised by many a conservative. But while environmentalism may be its own ideological interest for Charles, it is for him rather neatly blended with his overall Traditionalist worldview, or indeed may ultimately derive its core premise from that Traditionalism. His basic argument in Harmony is apparently that “Modernity”, in the sense of our purported move away from the metaphysical order and unity of the world, is the primary cause of our lack of harmony with the planet, which in turn is the supposed cause of the present ecological crisis, and all other social crises. Indeed, I think that Charles’ ideology might make for an curious template for what to expect of “conservative environmentalism”, or “traditionalist environmentalism”, in the future as the bourgeoisie continues to scramble for strategies on how to respond to climate change.

Even Charles’ prolific interest in homeopathy or “alternative medicine”, and further prolific opposition to genetically modified crops, is best understood through his adherence to the Traditionalism of René Guénon. Charles’ argument in defense of homeopathic/”alternative” medicine, as was given during his inauguration speech as President of the British Medical Association in 1982, is that according to him “folk healers” have over the centuries practiced a form of medicine that he believes to be “guided by traditional wisdom”, which, he claims, “sees illness as a disorder of the whole person, involving not only the patient’s body, but his mind, his self-image, his dependence on the physical and social environment, as well as his relation to the cosmos”. It sounds like it’s just airy nonsense – though I would contend that actual indigenous people using their particular medicinal arts probably weren’t as hopelessly inadequate as the modern “skeptic” would have you believe – but even this is an expression of Traditionalism in Guénon’s sense. What is “traditional wisdom” for Charles if not a name for perennial philosophy? Indeed, that holistic worldview he discusses is basically the same as that which he attributes to Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and to some extent Christianity. As for GM crops? Well, his objection that it involves meddling with “realms that belong to God and God alone” can probably be contextualized in his views on “Tradition”, which he most certainly assumes to be “God-given”.

And so we understand that Charles III, the new King of the United Kingdom, is a Traditionalist, and in all likelihood has been a Traditionalist for much of his life. Charles has undeniably studied Traditionalism, is familiar with the work of René Guénon and other Traditionalist authors such as Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and all of his political activism has been on behalf of his Traditionalist ideology. That’s why Charles granted patronage to homeopathic organisations, religious organisations, Islamic studies courses, and of course Traditionalist think tanks. That’s also why he lobbied for Tony Blair to give official state support for “alternative medicines”, it’s why he has devoted such personal and official effort to opening up dialogue between Christianity and Islam, and it’s also part of why he goes on visits to places such as Mount Athos and the Middle East.

Now, what does this all mean now that Charles III is the king of Britain? At this early stage of his reign it’s not easy to get a reliable picture of how his reign could turn. There is a general speculation that Charles III could be somewhat more interventionist than his predecessor. I suspect that this means he will actively lobby on behalf of his personal political priorities, not unlike his attempts to lobby Tony Blair’s government to endorse homeopathy. Perhaps we could expect royal diplomatic ventures in the Middle East? That depends, because the British government has already barred Prince William from getting involved in Israeli and Palestinian politics, though perhaps Charles III could order that bar to be lifted if he saw fit. Charles III has been publicly endorsing homeopathy for decades, it’s come up fairly recently as well, and it’s probably going to come up again, which means he may lobby the government on this again. It’s possible that Charles III may try to establish himself as a tangible world leader in the global effort to combat man-made climate change, which would contrast him with the fact that the ruling Conservative government is currently staffed with inveterate climate change deniers. I suspect that his particular ideological inclinations may actually put him at odds with those of the Conservative Party, whose conservatism is based essentially on the ideology of classical liberalism and its belief in “free market” capitalism, although we should be clear that Charles III obviously has no interest in the abolition of capitalism in any form whatsoever. Hannah Gais is probably on to something when she speculates that any solution Charles puts forward will involve elite management.

But whatever Charles III does, insofar as he takes any concrete actions as the official head of the British state, you could expect all of it to be guided by Charles’ particular form of Traditionalist ideology. If you follow through the connections I’ve presented thus far, this fact becomes obvious. That means Charles III being King means we now have a committed Traditionalist as the head of state. Don’t make any mistakes about what this might mean. While the British commentariat and much of the public currently assumes that Charles’ stances will bring more of a liberal-progressive social agenda into focus, the reality is that behind all of that is a deeply conservative and reactionary ideology that is just as much a part of the growing reactionary tide as any of the right-wing populists vying for power – not to mention, was part of the original primordial soup of reaction from which fascism as we know it emerged. No, Charles III won’t be somebody like Viktor Orban or Donald Trump (just for anyone who might be getting the wrong idea), but he will use his power to fulfill the agenda of Traditionalism as much as he can. That could be a major political victory for the Traditionalist movement, and in that sense a victory for global reaction.

And yes, make no mistake, Traditionalism is an enemy. The institution of the monarchy is itself already one of the eternal champions of authority against freedom, but Traditionalism is likewise such a vanguard, and all the more insidious. I believe that, if you study Traditionalist ideology from a critical perspective, you will be able to see aspects of its ideology across the major developments of global reaction, esoterica, and in the subtle, often barely noticeable contours of reactionary online discourse. Once that happens, it might just transform the way you look at politics and its intersection with culture.

In esoteric terms, Traditionalism is one of the clearest expressions of the Right Hand Path you will find in Western esotericism/occultism. Its premise is that the purpose of life is to live in harmony with a metaphysical order of truth that underlies everything, and esoteric attainment on Traditionalist terms requires participation in “orthodox” religions. René Guénon indeed positioned himself as the defender of traditional religion and esotericism, which set him against many other contemporary occultists that he deemed “counter-traditional”, and he established regular Masonic lodges, such as La Grande Triade (which currently still exists under the Grande Loge de France). The occultists that Guénon opposed include neo-Gnostics, the founder of Thelema, irregular Masonic rites/lodges and their members, syncretic practitioners, Egyptian magicians, to name a few, and he names Enlightenment-era rationalist, pantheist, and empiricist philosophers as “unconscious Satanists”. To my mind, this recalls the way that Enlightenment ideology and its exponents were invoked as a “Satanic” adversary against the Catholic Church. Conspiracy against the order of Christianity thus feeds the trope of conspiracy of counter-initiation against metaphysical tradition. Insofar as Guénon hit out against the arguably “counter-cultural” forms of occultism in his day while elevating regular Masonry and “orthodox” religions, Guénon can be thought of as, ultimately, a champion of The Establishment, in the sense that we mean the religious and esoteric establishment of his day, true to the will of the Right Hand Path.

Charles III is also The Establishment in modern Britain. Indeed, now that he is King of the United Kingdom, he is officially at the maximum possible level of being The Establishment that you can be in this country. And as a committed Traditionalist he thus stands as an almost conscious representative of the Right Hand Path. But on that note, I can’t allow myself to wrap up this article without discussing the fact that Charles III is not the only man of power to have convened at Mount Athos. It may surprise you to know that Mount Athos has, for decades, served as a place where world leaders and powerful people got together, ostensibly for the purpose of spiritual contemplation.

According to an article found on The Seattle Times written by A. Craig Copetas (apparently originally for Bloomberg News), thousands of politicians and elite businessmen have visited a private pilgrimage site at Mount Athos as a sort of spiritual retreat before travelling to Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum at Davos. According to Copetas these men include not only Charles III but also Silvio Berlusconi, Juan Carlos, Jimmy Carter, George Karaplis, George H. W. Bush, Vladimir Putin, Peter Armitage, the Aga Khan, and even Fidel Castro. That sounds like quite a lot of names, and it does seem strange that they would all go to such a place. But I double-checked; at least a few of these aren’t solely off of Copetas’ reporting. George H. W. Bush appears to have visited Mount Athos in 1995 and attended a ceremony there, seemingly as part of a weekend trip to Greece where the shipping tycoon Yiannis Latsis presented a luxury yacht to the Bush family. Vladimir Putin has made multiple pilgrimages to Mount Athos over the years, the earliest I can find being at around 2005. Peter Armitage, who ran a company called Capital International, has visited Mount Athos, and in fact he seems to have taken an interest in Christianity and Buddhism some time after he left the company. Fidel Castro visted Mount Athos in 2004, after having invited Patriarch Bartholomew to attend the inauguration of Cuba’s first Orthodox Church. Apparently, in 1998, Mount Athos was visited by the exiled Bulgarian king Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha, the fourth Aga Khan Shah Karim al-Husayni, and Vladimir Romanov, apparently to create a “Club for Friends of Byzantium”. In 2018, Abbot Ephraim met with Eugene Fishel, from the US State Department, along with Wess Mitchell and George Kent, at the Vatopedi Monastery in Mount Athos to discuss the Orthodox Church and apparently also the persecution of Christians in parts of the world. In fact, The Guardian noted in 2004 that Mount Athos has been seen as an ideal “detox trip” for the European bourgeoisie.

With these facts established, not to the mention the original Bloomberg article, I have to assume Copetas is on to something legitimate. So we can take as granted that George Karaplis, the former chief financial officer for the OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation), has in fact visited Mount Athos, apparently having made up to 70 pilgrimages since 1991, and has even described Vatopedi Monastery as “the original World Economic Forum”. He even claims to have accompanied senior executives from Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley. Apparently Mount Athos was considered a highly fashionable retreat for world leaders, and according to the local Athonite monks businessmen come to the Vatopedi Monastery all the time. Father Irenaios has said that he has spent hours listening to professionals, politicians, and businessmen talk about their lack of focus in life, while Father Germanos has said that businessmen regularly come to Mount Athos with “a great emptiness”. According to Copetas in his book, Mona Lisa’s Pajamas: Diverting Dispatches from a Roving Reporter, businessmen, politicians, and monarchs have been making visits to Mount Athos since as far back as 985 AD, when three rich merchants built the Vatopedi Monastery with their fortunes, and since then the monastery has been visited by the likes of the Medicis, the King of Spain, and wealthy brokers such as Ciriaco d’Ancona. You wouldn’t know it too much today, though, since meetings with businessmen typically aren’t publicized. The visits are treated as private moments, and are apparently usually kept secret. This secrecy also goes for royalty, with both Charles and Harry having visited the Vatopedi Monastery in secret.

This is all fascinating especially when your mind turns to certain conspiracy theories about how the bourgeoisie are all godless devil-worshippers. I mean, you could argue that it doesn’t have much meaning, but think about it: if you have the money to go anywhere in the world to find yourself, why the holiest Orthodox site in the world? Is it because Vatopedi Monastery, in addition to being a place of monastic contemplation, also happens to be a historical place of financial influence? Or do they happen to find some vague meaning in Christianity in particular? That wouldn’t be too surprising. Despite decades of conspiracy theory there’s simply no way that the bourgeoisie consists of Satanists. Even things like the Bohemian Grove or that one Surrealism-themed party aren’t “Satanic rituals” in any sense. If they were Satanists, why the hell would they go to Mount Athos, which is an immensely holy place for Christianity – and they go there in private I might add! If nothing else it’s more proof of how Christianity is still to this day bound up in the dominant capitalist system, which is quite the problem for those on “the Left” who keep trying to appeal to some fanciful socialist Christianity. But in a broader sense, you should understand the ruling class not as godless nihilists or devil worshippers, but as faithful servants of the White Lodge, just as eager for the stamp of heaven as any poor worker fearfully humbling themselves before God. Thousands of businessmen, probably many more, and multiple politicians and heads of state, have all gathered at the Vatopedi Monastery at Mount Athos, and perhaps they seek some aspect of what Charles III was looking for. They go there for solace, contemplation, meaning, “heavenly provisions” etc.

King Charles III, and his Traditionalist inclinations together with his history of going to the Vatopedi Monastery, can be thought of as a symbol of the elite progress of the Right Hand Path. At least, if he indeed is as much of an “activist monarch” as we might suspect. He’s certainly much more concerted about any coherent spiritual project than almost anyone in the British ruling class that I can think of, almost impressively so. He should be observed in tandem with the continuing progress of global social reaction. The White Lodge is on the move. I wonder what will follow.

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