By Gwendolyn Taunton
Ever since mankind became aware of the passage of time, predictions of the future have provided us with a boundless source of fascination – especially in regards to what may lie ahead. If we could but see forward in time, we could forge our own destinies and compensate for past mistakes. From the beginnings of recorded history seers and visionaries have crafted techniques to do precisely this by means of visions and prophecies. A multitude of different predictions have been passed, some originating from dreams, some through prayer, and still others have passed from the tongues of the gods themselves. Each and every prediction tells a story – some tell tales of earthly utopias, others of Armageddon. Amongst all of these foretold events, perhaps none is quite as bleak as the image which is drawn from the perspective of Traditionalism, which establishes a fixed cosmic cycle of future events that cannot be changed or prevented by the course of human intervention. According to this vision of the future, our time on the earth is cyclic, and our civilization will gradually degenerate until it finally collapses so that the cycle may begin again.
Traditionalism bases this premise of cyclic time on the core teachings of major religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Heathenism, to name but a few. The idea of this Primordial Tradition on which cyclic time is based evolved out of the concept known as philosophia perennis, or prenennial philosophy, which in itself is a development from the prisca theologia of the Middle Ages. Both Traditionalism and the philosophia perennis attempt to establish common factors amongst different Traditions, with the goal of producing a superior gnosis or level of wisdom than that which would have been obtained by the study of a single Tradition. This is remarkably similar to the mode of study used in comparative mythology and the history of religions. In this sense, the term ‘Primordial Tradition’ is utilized to describe a system of spiritual thought and metaphysical truth that overarches all the other religions and esoteric traditions of humanity. The idea of the Primordial Tradition was well received by the academic community and its development was actively endorsed by the International Conference of Religions in Chicago, 1893. Outside of the academic community, the idea of the Primordial Tradition received an even better reception, and was advocated by the Traditionalist school – notably Rene Guénon, Julius Evola, and Alain Daniélou. Basing their descriptions of the future and the modern world on predictions found in Traditional teachings, the image of the future portrayed by each of these three figures is pessimistic in outlook and describes the current era in which we live as the Age of Darkness.