A lady of my acquaintance runs a game in which she solicits book recommendations and then assigns them to the person least likely to read the book on their own. This time around, I got The Feminine Universe by Miss Alice Lucy Trent.
It’s the manifesto of the Aristasian movement, an esoteric movement that attempted to combine the Traditionalism of Rene Guenon with the Goddess Movement Theaology of Zsuzsanna Budapest. So, it was an anti-modern goddess worshiping cult that was sort of like Diannic Wiccanism without all the hocus pocus, but with a large dose of Julius Evola-style reaction. Eventually Aristasianism collapsed amid allegations of lesbian sado-masochism and forced prostitution. Which makes sense as goddess worship is a fertility cult, a fertility cult is a sex cult and why would anyone bother running a sex cult without exploiting their youngest and prettiest members for fun and profit?
The Feminine Universe opens up with a double barreled blast of comparative mythology to establish historical goddess worship and matriarchy. Comparative mythology is of course, the construction of just-so stories about just-so stories, but it can be fun. I like to rate it on a scale ale of 1-10 with 1 being Daniel Quinn’s idiotic novel Ishmael* and 10 being Frazer’s The Golden Bough. The Feminine Universe rates a solid seven here.
Having, to her satisfaction, proved the historical universality of goddess worship, Miss Trent then argues the esoteric traditionalist line that common elements in various religions represent eternal metaphysical truths. Essentialism is presented, Plato’s allegory of the caves makes its obligatory appearance and the argument builds until we get to a denunciation of the spiritual bankruptcy of modern man due to his abandonment of truth and beauty in favor of materialism and sensationalism.
At this point, I was totally expecting to see Existentialism denounced as a fraud, Sartre damned for a scoundrel and then a discussion of Simone de Beauvoir and the inability to reconcile the essential nature of femininity with the inherently materialistic philosophy of Feminism. It didn’t happen. I also failed to predict the end of “The Usual Suspects.”
Instead, chapter 7 damned Charles Darwin for a scoundrel in one of the most rousing and energetic critiques I’ve ever read. It was worth the cover price alone. 10/10, would read again. Among other things Miss Trent notes that except for a handful of autistic chaps, moderns don’t actually believe Darwin’s theory (which coincides perfectly with my own experience here in Cascadia.) Instead Darwinism is used as a counter-myth (she prefers the term pseudo-myth) to justify denying the existence of absolute truth, beauty or virtue. As a result, moderns are unable to address the problems of their age in any terms except materialistic ones as the solutions require concepts they are no longer capable of understanding. Instead we get left and right wing parties squabbling over the correct economic policies to address spiritual bankruptcy. And so, Western Civilization is nearing collapse.
What should we do? Miss Trent suggests appreciating the better sort of Art Deco and watching movies made before 1960. There’s nothing about lesbian sado-masochism or forced prostitution, because Aristasianism is an esoteric cult and esoteric cults always have secret teachings not shared with outsiders.
Appreciating Art Deco and watching old movies may not seem like the best response to the collapse of the West, but that’s par for the course in esoteric traditionalism. Julius Evola recommended mountain climbing and tantric sex while Mencius Moldbug’s followers proclaim a gospel of twitter trolling and using old comedy routines as a basis for software development (I am not kidding.) This sort of thing makes me glad to possess a faith that has already survived the collapse of civil society in the West and will again if needed, as it is faith in Him who conquered death itself.
All in all, The Feminine Universe is one of the better works of esotericism I’ve read. Miss Trent has Aleister Crowley and Madame Blatavsky beat all to hell (where, we should note, they currently reside.)
* Ishmael is a novel about a nihilist ape who wants to destroy humanity convincing a mildly retarded man to help him through really bad comparative mythology. It’s not nearly as good as it sounds.