Matriarchy in J.J. Bachofen’s Work

Conspiracy theorists believe that all historical events, whether of the political, social, economic, religious or cultural order, are the result of manipulations performed according to a secret plan designed by influential individuals gathered in a secretive organisation in order to achieve world domination.

The Society of Jesus, the Illuminati, Freemasonry, the Jews, the Communists, the so-called ‘Black Nobility’ and the ‘International Money Power’, are among the main organisations of this kind which have been accused of organising, or extending the influence of, the conspiracy, different combinations of these predominating according to the different theories of the various conspiratological schools which have existed since the late 1700’s.

Originally, however, it was to Freemasonry and the Illuminati that the idea of a widespread conspiracy referred, as exposed by the English author John Robison in his ‘Proofs of a Conspiracy Against All the Religions and Governments of Europe, carried on in the secret meetings of Free Masons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies, collected from good authorities’ (1798), which dealt with Adam Weishaupt’s plan to spread the views of the Enlightenment through the society he led, the Order of the Illuminati, and through Freemasonry, which had supposedly been infiltrated by the Illuminatis’ subversive rationalist anti-Catholic views.

Since then, the idea has flourished in Christian conspiratological circles that the main goal of the conspiracies is to destroy the Church in order to set up a one world government in the name of ‘paganism’, whose influence they claim to find in the Masonic symbols and rites. ‘Paganism’ was the pejorative, catch-all category to which the Christian apologists of the late Roman empire consigned the polytheistic cults – all of the polytheistic cults, without exception, from the Roman religion to the Syrio-Phoenician cults, indiscriminately. This had the effect of lumping together, retrospectively, the ancient Roman cults of the Patricians, and the cults of the various telluric goddesses of nature, from Demeter to the Venus Verticordia and Cybele, the Magna Mater, introduced into Rome under the influence of the Sybilline Books between 258 to 140 B.C., witnessed with repugnance by the Patricians, to whom all of them were completely unknown and all of which were utterly foreign to their solar Apollonian religious spirit, while the plebes, many of them descended from the pre-Roman Pelasgic civilisation, reveled in the festivities organised in the honour of these alien goddesses and gods.

Discrimination is thus required. As was shown by Bachofen, and, we may add, was intuitively understood by genuine Patricians till the end of the Empire, pre-christian cults, far from being homogenous and monolithic, displayed a wide variety of forms which, in the last analysis, can be reduced to the following dualism : « the Olympian-virile idea and the telluric-feminine idea. (…) civilisations of the heroes and civilisations of the Mothers, solar idea and chthonic-lunar idea, paternal right and matriarchy, aristocratic ethic of difference and orgiastic-communistic promiscuity, Olympian ideal of the ‘supraworld’ and pantheistic mysticism, positive right of the Imperium and natural right », each constantly fighting the other throughout history, and, more manifestly than in any other period, throughout the history of Rome. Each of the terms of this polarity can be referred to a different race, the former to the Aryo-Roman one and the latter to the Semitic-Pelasgic one, from within which, it must be pointed out in response to the conspiratolical accusations we have just mentioned, Christianity undoubtedly originated.

Early Christianity completed the work of corrosion and distortion of the Roman civilisation, which had been initiated by the pre-Christian semitic lunar influences from which it itself derived, and precipitated the Empire through the remaining stages of its decline and to its complete and final collapse.

Understanding this enables us to unravel the confusions within which the conspiratologists to whom we have referred are tangled : not only does Catholicism no longer need to be destroyed, since, objectively looked at, it is destroyed already, and Christianity has returned to its pre-Catholic origins, but also, it is not Catholicism as such which these influences wished to destroy, but the Nordic-Aryan elements within Catholicism, which had rectified it to a certain extent from the beginning of the ‘Middle Ages’ onwards. The influences which destroyed it are exactly the same as those which undermined the Roman civilisation and finally ruined that : anti-Aryan influences, deriving mainly from civilisations of Semitic stock. If those influences are ‘pagan’, they are so only to the extent that they represent a type of the polytheistic cultism which was antithetical to the Roman religion and its Patrician successors.

In order to comprehend this more fully it may be valuable for some people to study the work of Bachofen, who identified and highlighted, within the chaos of the cults, legends, symbols, myths, customs, juridical and political forms of the early Mediterranean world, the polarity we have just mentioned, between the Olympian-virile idea and the telluric-feminine idea.

Bachofen’s work, however, because its evolutionist prejudices – which, quite ironically, led it to be adopted by various feminist currents – needed to be rectified before it could provide us with the points of reference necessary for us to make our way into the complex secret history of ancient civilisations, and, at the same time, of modern civilisations, within both of these ideas or forces are still at work, albeit in a less manifest manner. Nowadays it has become transformed, because of the demonic force of economics and other factors, especially in the West, into a pluto-gynaecocracy. The decisive clarification of Bachofen’s work in this respect we owe to Evola, who, throughout his life, expounded and analysed it, with appropriate rectifications, in various articles. He translated ‘Das Mutterecht’ into Italian and wrote an Introduction to it, which we present here in English translation. It will not escape the attentive reader that the last few paragraphs of this Introduction recapitulate to a great extent the last few paragraphs of ‘Do we live in a gynaecocratic Civilisation?’.

« The stars are veiled
Something stirs in the East
A sleepless mass
The eye of the enemy is moving »



Johann Jakob Bachofen could be described as a ‘revelation’ of the most modern European culture. A contemporary of Nietzsche (he was born in Basle in 1815 and died in 1887), he belonged to the same spiritual circles which gave birth to Nietzsche’s ‘Birth of Tragedy’ and E. Rohde’s ‘Psyche’. His work attained virtually no recognition in his own life-time. The general public did not come into contact with it, while the ‘specialists’ in ancient history and archeology hatched a sort of conspiracy of silence against it, because of its opposition to the methods and conceptions which they held dear.

Today Bachofen’s work has been widely rediscovered and acclaimed as pioneering and masterly. A first re-edition of selected writings by Bachofen in three volumes was published in Leipzig in 1926 by C.A. Bernouilli under the title ‘Urreligion und antike Symbole’ ; a second, enriched with a wide-ranging introductory essay, was edited by A. Baumler in 1926 and bears the title of ‘Der Mythos von Orient und Okzident’.

Mastering the knowledge of archeology and philology of his time, Bachofen devoted himself to a distinctive interpretation of the symbols, myths, cults and forms of right of the most ancient times, an interpretation which is particularly important because of the great number of ideas and points of reference which it offers to those who wish to penetrate an almost unsuspected dimension of the world of our origins, and to grasp a sort of spiritual secret history of the ancient civilisations hidden behind their apparent histories, all of which amounts to a supreme instance of what is called ‘critical historiography’. Considering this, the fact that in Bachofen some deductions and some details are inaccurate, that some presentations are flawed by excessive simplification and that, since his time, the science of antiquity has gathered a great deal of other material, does not prejudice the essential value of his works and does not entitle any of our contemporaries to consider his main works, the fruit of profound and complex studies and of happy intuitions, as ‘outmoded’. Bachofen, today, is as little ‘outmoded’ as Fustel de Coulanges, Max Muller or Schelling. In evaluating authors of this sort, it is the authors who has come after them who need to keep themselves in better form, since, although their spectacles, that is to say, their critical and analytical instruments, are undoubtedly more perfect, their inner sight seems to an equal degree to have become more myopic, and their researches, often losing their way in a soulless and opaque specialism, no longer reflect anything of the power of synthesis and of the certainty of intuition of some masters of the last century.

What is interesting in Bachofen, in the first place, is his method. This method is new and revolutionary compared to the usual scholastic and academic way of considering ancient civilisations, ancient cults, and myths, because it is ‘traditional’ in the higher sense of the word. What we mean by this is that the way in which the man of any traditional civilisation, which is anti-individualistic and anti-rationalistic, is more or less the way by which Bachofen has sought to discover the secret of the world of our origins.

The fundamental premise of Bachofen’s whole work is that symbol and myth are testimonies, which any complete historical science must take into serious consideration. They are not arbitrary creations, projections of whim and poetic imagination : they are on the contrary ‘representations of the experiences of a race in the light of its religious sense’, obeying a very precise logic and law. Moreover, symbol, tradition, and legend must not be considered and evaluated according to their ‘historicity’ in the narrowest sense of the word ; it is this misunderstanding which has prevented us from so far gaining the most precious knowledge. What must be addressed is not their problematic ‘historical’ meaning, but their certain meaning as ‘facts of the spirit’.

Wherever the recorded event and the ‘positive’ document no longer speak to us, the myth, the symbol and the legend meet us, ready to introduce us to a more profound, secret and essential reality, a reality of which the outer historical and tangible face of the ancient societies, races and civilisations is only a consequence. Because of this, they themselves are often the only ‘positive’ documents which have remained from the past.

Bachofen rightly notices that history as such can never be grasped : an event can thus leave traces, but its inner meaning escapes us, it is taken away by the current of time, so that it is incomprehensible and unknowable to us except to the extent that it has been specified by tradition and myth. In the development, the transformation, the opposition and even in the contradiction of the traditions, symbols and myths, we can in fact identify the most profound forces, the spiritual and metaphysical ‘primary elements’ which were at work in the primordial cycles of civilisation and brought about their most decisive upheavals. This opens to us the way to a metaphysic of history, which is also an integral history, a history in which the most important dimension, the third dimension, is specifically highlighted. Bachofen’s interpretation of the inner history of Rome on the basis of its myths and legends is one of the most convincing examples of the importance and of the fertility of such a method.

Secondly, Bachofen’s work has a special importance both on the plane of the ‘morphology’ or ‘typology of civilisation’, and on that of the ‘science of the races of spirit’. Starting from the various forms which the relations between the sexes formerly assumed, Bachofen’s research demonstrates the existence of some typical and distinct forms of civilisation from which derive various central ideas linked in their turn to various visions of the world, of destiny, of the after-life, of right, and of society. Such ideas almost have the value of ‘archetypes’ in a platonic sense ; they are formative forces connected by relationships of analogy to the great forces of things. In individuals, they appear also in various modes of being, in various ‘styles’ of soul, feeling, acting and reacting.

This is the special science which Bachofen initiated. However, he did not completely manage to get rid of the ‘evolutionist’ fixation which prevailed in his day. So he was led to believe that the various forms identified by him in the sense that we have just mentioned formed a sort of succession of stages in the progress of human civilisation in general. If the higher morphological and typological meaning of his research is not to be prejudiced, this limitation, naturally, must be removed.

The world considered by Bachofen is basically that of the ancient Mediterranean civilisations. The chaotic multiplicity of cults, myths, symbols, juridical forms, and customs they exhibit boil down in Bachofen’s works to the effects, in varied forms, of two fundamental antithetical ideas : the Olympian-virile idea and the telluric-feminine idea. Such polarity can also be expressed by the following oppositions : civilisations of the heroes and civilisations of the Mothers, solar idea and chthonic-lunar idea, paternal right and matriarchy, aristocratic ethic of difference and orgiastic-communist promiscuity, Olympian ideal of the ‘supraworld’ and pantheist mysticism, positive right of the Imperium and natural right.

Bachofen discovered the ‘gynaecocratic era’, i.e. the era in which the feminine principle is supreme. To this era corresponds an archaic phase of the Mediterranean civilisation, linked to Pelagic peoples as well as to a group of peoples of the South-East and Asiatic basin of the Mediterranean sea. Bachofen correctly noted that, according to the sources, all the varied but concordant elements refer, for such peoples, to the central idea that, at the origin and at the peak of any thing, there must be a feminine principle, a Goddess or divine Woman, incorporating the supreme values of spirit ; compared to her, not only the masculine principle, but also those of personality and of difference must seem secondary and contingent, subject to the law of Becoming and disappearing as opposed to the eternity and the immutability peculiar to the cosmic Great Mother, the Mother of Life.

This Mother is sometimes the earth, or sometimes the law of nature, conceived of as a force by which the Gods themselves are compelled.

Among her other aspects, accordingly, there would be various differentiations : she is both Demeter as goddess of agriculture and organised earth and Aphrodite-Astarte as principle of orgiastic ecstasies, Dionysian wantonnesses, ‘hetaeric’ (from the Greek word ‘etera’, not from ‘ether’) dissoluteness, whose analogic correspondence is the wild swamp or forest.

The main character of this cycle of civilisation consists specifically in its limiting to the naturalistic-material domain everything which is personality, virility, difference, in its putting under the feminine sign (feminine in the broadest sense), the spiritual domain, often so as to make it a synonym for pantheist promiscuity and an antithesis to everything which is form, positive right, heroic vocation of a virility which is no longer material. Outwardly, the most concrete expression of this type of civilisation is matriarchy, and, more generally, gynaecocracy. Gynaecocracy, that is the sovereignty of Woman, reflects the mystical value which is attributed to her in such a conception of the world. Moreover, it can also have as a counterpart, in its lowest forms, the egalitarism of the natural law, universalism and communism. At the root of communistic promiscuity lies the idea of the insignificance of everything which is difference, the equality of all individuals vis-a-vis the cosmic Matrix, the maternal and the ‘telluric’ (from ‘tellus’, earth) principle of the nature whence any thing and any being proceeds and within which it will dissolve again after an ephemeral existence. Of this nature were the orgiastic feasts in which was formerly celebrated the return to the Mother and to the state of nature, and in which all social distinctions were temporarily abolished. The masculine principle does not have an existence of its own, it is not self-sufficient. On the material plane, it only amounts to an instrument of generation, it is subjected to the bond of woman or it is obscured by the Demetrian brightness of the mother. On the spiritual plane, it is only through a Dionysian ecstasy dominated by sensual and feminine elements that it can grasp the sense of what is eternal and unchanging and gain an intimation of immortality – an immortality which, however, has nothing to do with the heavenly one of Olympians and heroes. And also on the social plane, the male, who only knows the violent law of force and struggle, feels through the woman the existence of a higher, quieter and supra-individual order, feels this ‘Demetrian mystery’ which, in one form or another, was in Antiquity the base and support of the matriarchal law and gynaecocracy.

In clear opposition to these views, there is, in the ancient Mediterranean world, the cycle of the Olympian-Ouranic civilisation. Here, the centre is no longer constituted by symbols of the Earth or of the Moon, but by those of the Sun and heavenly regions (‘Ouranic’ from the Greek word ‘Uranos’) ; not by the naturalist-sensual reality, but by the immaterial one ; not by the maternal womb, and not even by the phallic virility which is its counterpart, but by the Ouranic virility linked to the symbol of the Sun and the Light ; not by the symbols of Night and the Mother, but by those of Day and the Father. The supreme ideal in such a civilisation is embodied precisely by the ‘Ouranic’ world, by which is meant that of the bright, unchanging, detached, birthless entities, as opposed to the inferior world of the beings who are born, become, and pass away, according to a rule of life always ephemeral because always mixed with death. This is the highest point of reference, the religion of Apollo and Zeus : it is the ‘Olympian’ spirituality, it is the immaterial virility, it is the ‘solarity’ of gods free from the bondage of the woman and the mother, possessing instead attributes of fatherhood and dominion. The traces left by a tradition of this nature in Hellenic speculation are more or less known to everyone : as conceived by the Greek philosophers, the notions of nous and of ‘intelligible world’ are directly derived from it. Bachofen, however, highlighted many of its other expressions. Patriarchy, especially in its patrician forms, derives from no other basis. The impulse to go beyond the ‘telluric’ (physical and phallic) virility towards a heroic or spiritual virility, the integration of everything which is form and difference instead of its devaluation, the contempt for the naturalistic condition, the overcoming of natural right by positive right, the ideal of a formation of oneself in which the state of nature and its law of the Mother and of the Earth is surpassed by a new order, which is under the sign of the Sun and of the symbolic exploits of Heracles, Perseus and other heroes of the Light, all derive from this type of civilisation.

This is the fundamental conception of Bachofen. It provides the key to an order of researches likely to be extended to fields far wider than those considered by the thinker of Basle, since, as we have pointed out, Bachofen used this conception only in order to identify approximately the conflicts, the upheavals and the transformations peculiar to the secret history of the ancient Mediterranean world. In Hellas, and in opposition to more ancient, aboriginal forms linked with the telluric-maternal cult, the light of the heroic-Olympian spirituality first appears ; here, however, the ‘civilisation of the fathers’ did not last long. Altered by processes of involution, not having been sustained by a firm political organisation, it was swept away by the re-emergence of cults and forces of the previous Pelagic-Oriental period, which, at first, it appeared to have overcome. Its idea seemed to have been transmitted to Rome and to have prompted there a far wider development, the history of which continues to Augustus. At the time of Augustus, Rome seemed about to establish a new universal era by bringing to completion that mission, specifically Western according to Bachofen, for which the civilisation of the Delphic Apollo had proved to be insufficient.

Since those are the main traits of Bachofen’s metaphysic of the ancient Mediterranean history, it is appropriate to indicate its other possibilities, once the ‘evolutionist’ framework is dispensed with. Bachofen noted that, against the substratum of a more ancient world, suffused with a ‘civilisation of the Mother’, the opposite civilisation, virile and paternal, developed to supplant and defeat it, even though, at a later point, at the closing of a cycle, at least in some countries, it was swept away again. All this was regarded by Bachofen as a sort of automatic development in a single family of peoples. The opposition of the two civilisations as he describes it refers therefore essentially to that existing between two evolutionary and progressive stages of a single process, without his inquiring into how the one was derived from the other.

But this problem needs to be posed, ethnologically. What has been learned from the sum total of researches in various other domains gives a certain margin of credibility to the idea that the most ancient, pre-Hellenic Mediterranean civilisation, characterised by the cult of the Woman, of matriarchy, and of social or spiritual gynaecocracy, was linked to pre-Aryan or non-Aryan influences, while the opposite vision of the world, solar and Olympian, had specifically Aryan origins. This was intimated by Bachofen himself in his relating of the first civilisation to the Pelagic populations and in his noticing that the most characteristic cult in the Heroic-solar world, that of Delphic Apollo, had Thracian-Hyperborean origins, which amounts to saying Nordico-Aryan. His evolutionist prejudice, however, prevented him from getting to the bottom of these positive data. While carrying out a work of genius by referring the residual fragments which have reached us of the gynaecocratic civilisation to the archaic unit to which they belong, he failed to proceed in a similar manner with regard to the solar and Olympian elements which emerged and asserted themselves in the ancient Mediterranean world, which would have led him to notice the existence of an Olympian and paternal civilisation, just as archaic, of different ethnic origin.

In the Mediterranean, the purest forms of this second civilisation are, compared to the other, more recent. They are more recent, however, only in a relative sense, in that in the Mediterranean world they only appear at a given moment, not in the absolute sense, which would entail that they had not existed previously and could only ever come to birth by way of successive ‘evolutionary stages’ within one and the same group of peoples. Rather, the opposite could be true, that is to say that many forms derived by Bachofen from the cycle of the Mother (in its higher, ‘lunar’ and ‘Demetrian’ aspects), could be considered not so much as really intrinsic to the civilisations in which they are found, but more as forms of involution of some branches of the solar tradition, or as products of interferences between this tradition and the opposite one. This corresponds, among other things, to the teachings about the ‘four ages’ passed on by Hesiod.

However, we cannot focus here on this argument, given that it does itself not form part of Bachofen’s researches and that, moreover, it has already been dealt with by us in other works (1). Nevertheless, Bachofen’s own work constitutes an extremely useful preparation for further investigation, which, on the basis of the traces constituted by symbols, rites, institutions, customs, and juridical forms, deriving respectively from the civilisation of the Mother and from the Heroic-Solar one, would want to identify the opposing influences, of the ‘race of the body’ and of the ‘race of the spirit’, which were at work in the ancient Mediterranean world, including its Greek and Roman elements. Given the new material which has been gathered in the meantime, such research could achieve very interesting results ; and in addition, it would also be possible to undertake it, on the basis of the same root ideas, with respect to other civilisations, European and non-European.

In regard to Bachofen’s views on the specifically morphological and typological plane, we must notice that this thinker did not stop at the consideration of two terms of an antithesis, ‘solar’ and ‘telluric’, a virile Ouranic-paternal principle and a telluric-maternal principle, but also considered intermediary forms which he related to the terms ‘Demetrian’ (or ‘Lunar’), ‘Amazonian’, « heroic’, and ‘Dionysian’. We thus have, all in all, seven points of reference, according to which not only types of civilisation but also typical modes of being could be defined, so as to enable us to speak of a ‘solar’ or ‘lunar’ or ‘telluric’ or ‘Amazonian’ or ‘Dionysian’ or ‘heroic’ man. We ourselves, in the aforementioned works, have sought to develop, on these bases, a special typology. This is, once again, a new field of the science of the spirit, to the explorers of which Bachofen’s views can provide precious points of reference.

Finally, it has to be pointed out that researches of this kind are not only of retrospective interest in the context of the reconstruction of a secret history of the ancient world, but could also prove to be very useful to all those who strain to discover the true face of the present times and to formulate a diagnosis and a prognosis of the whole of Western civilisation. Bachofen, at some points in his works, sensed the existence of cyclical laws, by force of which, at the end of a given development, some involutive and degenerative forms almost represent a return of primitive stages left behind by the whole development. Now, the worrying degree to which contemporary Western civilisation shows and reproduces the main traits of an ‘epoch of the Mother’, of a telluric and ‘aphrodisian’ epoch with all its consequences, has been noticed, not without reference to Bachofen, by more than one writer. Baumler wrote this, in the introduction to the already mentioned selected writings of Bachofen : « In the streets of Berlin, Paris or London, all you have to do is to observe for a moment a man or a woman to realise that the cult of Aphrodite is the one before which Zeus and Apollo had to beat a retreat…The present age bears, in fact, all the features of a gynaecocratic age. In a late and decadent civilisation, new temples of Isis and Astarte, of these Asian mother goddesses that were celebrated in orgies and licentiousness, in desperate sinking into sensual pleasure, arise. The fascinating female is the idol of our times, and, with painted lips, she walks through the European cities as she once did through Babylon. And as if she wanted to confirm Bachofen’s profound intuition, the lightly dressed modern ruler of man keeps in leash a dog, the ancient symbol of unlimited sexual promiscuity and infernal forces » (2). But these analogies can be much further developed.

Modern times are ‘telluric’, not only in their mechanistic and materialistic aspects, but also, and essentially, in several of their ‘vitalist’ aspects, in their various religions of Life, of the Irrational and of Becoming, precise antitheses of any classic or ‘Olympian’ conception of the world. Keyserling, confirming this analysis, has thought he could speak of a telluric character – that is to say irrational, mainly related to forms of courage, self-sacrifice, fervour and dedication without transcendent reference – shown by this modern mass movement which has been called, generically, ‘world revolution’. With democracy, Marxism and communism, the west has thus re-assumed, in secularised and materialised forms, the ancient concept of natural right, the leveling and anti-aristocratic law of the chthonic Mother, which stigmatises as unjust any difference ; and the power often granted on this basis to the collectivist element seems to bring back into force the ancient irrelevance of the individual peculiar to the ‘telluric’ conception.

Dionysus reappears with modern romanticism : we have here the same love for the formless, the confused, the unlimited, the same promiscuity between sensation and spirit, the same antagonism towards the virile and Apollonian ideal of clarity, form and limit. Even Nietzsche, who extolled Dionysus, is a living and tragic proof of the modern lack of understanding for that ideal, as witnessed by the telluric nature of so many of his conceptions. Moreover, after having read Bachofen, it is not difficult to observe the ‘lunar’ character peculiar to the most widespread type of modern culture : the culture based on a pale and empty intellectualism, the sterile culture separated from life, only capable of criticism, abstract speculation and vain aesthetising creativity : a culture which, here again, is closely connected with a civilisation which has taken material refinement to extreme forms (in the special terminology of Bachofen, we would say : aphrodisian) and in which woman and sensuality often become predominant motifs almost to a pathological and obsessive degree.

And wherever the woman does not become the new idol of the masses under the modern form, not of goddess, but of movie ‘star’ or some similar fascinating Aphrodisian apparition, she often asserts her primacy in new ‘Amazonian’ forms. Thus we see the new masculinised sportswoman, the garconne, the woman who devotes herself to the unilateral development of her own body, betrays the mission which would be normal to her in a civilisation of virile type, becomes emancipated and independent and even bursts into the political field. And this is not all.

In Anglo-Saxon civilisation, and particularly in America, the man who exhausts his life and time in business and the search for wealth, a wealth that, to a large extent, only serves to pay for feminine luxury, caprices, vices and refinements, has conceded to the woman the privilege and even the monopoly of dealing with ‘spiritual’ things. And it is precisely in this civilisation that we see a proliferation of ‘spiritualist’, spiritistic, mystic sects, in which the predominance of the feminine element is already significant in itself (two women, Blavatsky and Besant, for example, set up and managed the so-called Theosophical Society). But it is for a much more important reason that the new spiritualism appears to us as a sort of reincarnation of the ancient feminine mysteries : it is the formless escapism in confused suprasensual experiences, the promiscuity of mediumism and spiritualism, the unconscious evocation of truly ‘infernal’ influences and the stress laid on doctrines such as reincarnation, that confirm, in such pseudo-spiritualistic currents, the correspondence that we have already mentioned and prove that, in these misguided desires to go beyond ‘materialism’, the modern world has not managed to find anything that would connect it with the higher traditions of Olympian and ‘solar’ character (3).

Psychoanalysis, with the preeminence it grants to the unconscious over the conscious, to the ‘nocturnal’, subterranean, atavistic, instinctive, sexual side of the human being over all that is waking life, will and true personality, seems precisely to refer to the ancient doctrine of the primacy of Night over Day, of the Darkness of the Mothers over forms, supposedly evanescent and irrelevant, that rise from it to light.

It must be acknowledged that these analogies, far from being extravagant or amateurish, are based on grounds that are broad and substantial and therefore gravely disturbing, since the reappearance of the ‘gynaecocratic era’ can only mean, to us, the end of a cycle and the collapse of the civilisations founded by a superior race. But many of Bachofen’s views, just as they enable us to identify these symptoms of decadence, show us also the points of reference for a possible reaction and reconstruction. Such points of reference can only be constituted by ‘Olympian’ values of a new anti-gynaecocratic and virile civilisation. And this is what Bachofen has recovered for us, in the ‘Western Myth’ : the formative idea, the ideal, which would define what is the most specifically western in the story of civilisation. As we have explained, for Bachofen it was Rome which, after the attempt of the Apollonian Hellades, would have assumed this ideal, and asserted a ‘civilisation of the father’ on universal bases ; but only by way of a tragic struggle against forces which, little by little, were to flow back and reassert themselves again and again in first one then another domain of Roman life and civilisation.

Whoever can sense the deep truth of this view of Bachofen’s can see a new and extremely interesting field of research opening : that of the identification and discovery of a Olympian-paternal (in the superior sense) Romanity. But after the havoc which a silly and inflated rhetoric has worked upon the name of Rome, after that which an academically dull and soulless erudition and historiography have done to make us forget everything bright and perennial which appeared in the original Romanity and formed its true mission, how is it possible to restore to serious view the importance which such research, and, therefore the work of Bachofen itself and in its entirety, could have for us?

However, all this notwithstanding, what may not be possible today because of a complex of factors, some merely contingent, may be possible tomorrow, in a quieter period. one of the greatest merits of Bachofen is that he has restored the dignity of the virile and Olympian civilisation, thereby contributing to a means of correction for the many ideological distortions and misplaced evocations of modern times.

Julius EVOLA

(1) Essentially in ‘Rivolto contro il Mondo Moderno’, second part.

(2) Introduction to ‘Der Mythos von Orient und Okzident’, München, 1926, pp.CCXCI-CCXCIII

(3) See ‘Maschera e Volto dello Spiritualismo contemporaneo’, Laterza, Bari, 1932, 1949 ; Mediterranee, Roma, 1971, 1990 (‘Mask and Face of the Contemporary Spiritualism’).