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‘Beyond Every Destruction’
The Meaning of the Crusades by Julius Evola, 9 July 1935

Evola counters the traditional arguments about the Crusades, either that they were just land grabs under the color of faith or that they represented Christian harnessing of the pagan spirit of heroism for its own temporal ends. He contends rather, that the militant church was hijacked by the descendents of pagan heroes in Christian guise as a means of achieving a higher purpose, of acting on a plane above the petty concerns of Christianity and of joining with an infinitely more ancient force.

Keep in mind that there is no place for heroism in early, pre-Constantine forms of Christianity. Passive death on the cross or in the arena under a lion’s paw, do not fit into any Indo-European, pre-Christian idea of the heroic. These were sacred acts, but martyrdoms tracing back to slave-based ideals of sacrifice, not the heroic notions exemplified by Gilgamesh, Samson, Achilles or Odysseus, and certainly not Heraklean in any sense.

Toward this argument he suggests that contact as enemies and allies, with members of Islamic knightly orders [very much inspired by Indo-Aryan ideals of the perpetual struggle between Light and Dark out of Persian tradition] brought the medieval Crusader into harmony with his sacral enemy on a higher plane of action.

Consider that—as Stoddard amply illustrated in The New World of Islam—Islamic clerisy was essentially born, as we know it, by the adoption of Orthodox Christian priests and Zoroasterian magi into the, at first thin, ranks of Islamic scholars. Many of the Crusaders staunchest foes and allies were Kurdish, Armenian and Iranian, not Arab, possessing hybrid Indo-European heroic traditions. The Turks also brought a hero tradition out of the steppes, duly encountered in allies, such as the Turkopoles and enemies such as the Mamelukes.

There were still other transcendental aspects of the Crusades from the Western European perspective:

“…the conquest of the ‘Holy Land’ located ‘beyond the sea’ was much more closely associated than many people have imagined with the ancient saga according to which, ‘in the distant East where the Sun rises, lies the sacred city where death does not exist, and the fortunate heroes who are able to reach it enjoy celestial serenity and perpetual life.’”

Further in depth was the internal element of sacred war:

“…‘a bath like that in the fire of purgatory, but before death.’ Those who died in the Crusades were compared symbolically by Popes and priests to ‘gold tested three times and refined seven times in fire’, a purifying ordeal so powerful that it opened the way to the Supreme Lord.”

Evola does suggest elsewhere in this work that he suspects the Supreme Lord is closer to the Indian notion of Vishnu than the Christian notion of The Lord of Hosts. This sounds terrible to my Christian friends. But such is the perspective of Paganism, which accepts upward and outward layers of divinity, in which the notion of the God of the Israelites existing as an underlying aspect of Aristotle's Unmoved Mover is livening rather than troubling.

Evola goes on to remind us that “by far” the greater number of Crusaders were warrior monks who had turned their backs on the material order, in search of an irrevocable “celestial fief,” rather than the ever-revocable material holdings bequeathed by their contemptible human status. Where the duelist would be cursed to petty affairs of lethal intent to preserve his intrinsic honor in an increasingly materialistic world, the Crusader took that internal element and projected it into a higher plane, in his way carrying on the ancient Roman notion of war being sacred, a contested sacrifice—seized with bloody hands, not surrendered by a submissive heart—along the lines of supernatural agencies, into a more materialistic world where such sacral notions must be more specifically ascribed to extra-political ends, as well as assigned a temporal portal of transcendent strife, with the need for a Crusader to pursue his higher end in far and precise lands.

Thus, though addressed conceptually here and not specifically, the Italian-Portuguese-Spanish age of Catholic exploration from 1454 through the 1590s was essentially and specifically an extension of the Crusades.

For the postmodern materialist whose head is spinning, Evola composed this:

“[moderns]…have not even the slightest suspicion that what they call ‘religious fanaticism’ was the visible sign of the presence and effectiveness of a sensitivity and decisiveness, the absence of which is more characteristic of true barbarism.”

The final point of this essay is that while the waging of sacral war is different from non-sacred war, primarily interior to the Crusader, that such cultivation of the warrior’s inner self finds external expression and effects an “indomitability” naturally leading to extra-political or universalist expressions of honor and purpose, that while rooted in ideals of race and homeland, are [because and in spite of] projected:

“…ever forward, beyond every limit, beyond every danger, beyond every destruction.”

Might I add, Beyond God and Darkness, with the hero our only vehicle capable of such a journey.

The sense of obscenity with which moderns regard such values is a measure of how far we have fallen, from the Crusading ages, when men such as Columbus, member of a Crusading order, sought new worlds beyond the edge of the Unknown, where we, as an expression of those higher concepts which we may retain, are not even willing to risk exploring the observable, measurable Known.

In the shadow of the Crusades, in the shadow of the hero, we are an infant, fat and content in his crib, afraid to crawl into the shadow that falls before THE DOOR, let alone open it to the truths which came long and truly before.

Of Lions and Men

Add Comment
Julian LOctober 27, 2017 9:49 AM UTC

Very well laid out.

One thing I often wonder is through what manifestation that crusader/explorer type of mindset/behavior will return, now that their are no more frontiers to explore/etc.

In many ways this shameful period seems to have arisen out of the end of that frontier, and while I don't think this present western world of 'flat chested men' can last, I have trouble picturing what the new Crusaders and Explorers will be doing.

Some would say space travel but I will admit I don't find the prospect of space exploration terribly inspiring on a spiritual or 'thumotic' level. Perhaps I am too closeminded.

I guess there's also the chance that everything falls apart and the new Crusaderism and Exploration arises out of that 'Archeofuture' as Guillaume Faye would call it.

Anyway excellent article!
responds:October 27, 2017 9:24 PM UTC

I must address this as an article.