The Lord of the World
By Willam Grimstad

It's hard to think of an "occult" topic, other than Atlantis or "flying saucers" or the Bermuda Triangle, that has been the subject of more irresponsible writing and spurious research than has the vexed subject of Agartha.

For obscure but seemingly inborn psychological reasons, the idea of a sort of hidden pope coordinating all the secret activities of the world from an underground kingdom in the vastness of the Himalayas has a recurring glamour.

Starting with a 19th century traveller and romancer named Louis Jacolliot, the line of such superficial commentary slides to a reductio ad absurdum in the fantasies of "pop" mystic Robert Charroux: "There are four entrances to Agartha: one between the paws of the sphinx at Gizeh, another on the Mont-Saint Michel, a third..."

Even so deadly serious a purveyor of metaphysic wisdom as Helena Blavatsky waxes faintly ridiculous in her solemn revelations of supposed huddles with spooky "Eastern masters" such as Koot Hoomi of the "Great White Lodge." Ditto for her Theosophical Society followers, Annie Besant and Alice Bailey, together with an unknown legion of spin-offs among today's vendors of what has irreverently been called "kharma cola."

What is surprising, however, in view of this prolonged flood of fluff, is that there have been a number of sober and closely reasoned explorations of the curious lore, both ancient and modern, that has given rise to the Agartha mythos. By far the most important of these is "Le Roi du Monde," a 1927 study by the great French student of symbolism and ancient Aryan religions, Rene Guenon.

Guenon is not what we today might call a "user friendly" writer. All of his books are as short on colour and personalising touches as they are marked by rigorous economy and reduction to essentials. Because of this "density," they demand a rather high involvement by the reader, and fortunately the English edition of The Lord of the World has been graced with a fluent translation that is far superior to the pedestrian rendering of his magnum opus, The Reign of Quantity.

An example of the care that has gone into this volume may be seen in the presentation of its title. Although the literal meaning of "Roi" is "king" it was felt that "lord" would better evoke the author's idea of a simultaneous spiritual and temporal authority.

For some reason, the Agartha theme has been highly stimulating to the Gallic imagination. Guenon's book takes as its starting point the two earlier works: Mission de l'Inde by a certain Saint Yves d'Alveydre, and the better known Beasts, Men and Gods, by a French academician and political writer of this century, Ferdinand Ossendowski.

Guenon always seemed able to draw upon vast - presumably initiatic - sources of profound information into the sundry arcane topics to which he turned his attentions. He appears to have set out here to amplify Saint Yves's brief early-day account, and to clarify Ossendowski's often rather superficial observations.

Both men were travellers recounting what they had been told about a mysterious centre of power reputed to exist somewhere among the deserts and mountains of Central Asia. Saint Yves concluded that this place had inherited the authority of the universal lawgiver, Manu, a "cosmic intelligence that reflects pure spiritual light and formulates the law ("Dharma") appropriate to the conditions of our world and our cycle of existence," as Guenon puts it.

However, the Lord of the World as such is not "Manu," but rather a sort of prime minister who mediates "Dharma" into the affairs of mankind. His title, Guenon informs us, is Brahmatma, "sustainer of souls in the spirit of God." Or he also may be known as Chakravarti, which in Hindi signifies "He who makes the wheel turn." As Ossendowski was told by a lama:

"The Lord of the World is in touch with the thoughts of all those who direct the destiny of mankind... He knows their intentions and their ideas. If these are pleasing to God, the Lord of the World favours them with his invisible aid. But if they are displeasing to God, He puts a check on their activities."

As for Agartha, it is a locus usually referred to as underground, or something quite specifically located in a vast network of caves. This very likely is metaphorical, since the name Agartha itself means "inaccessible" or "inviolable."

However, Ossendowski accepts the literal truth of the subterranean tradition. He reports that "a Soyot from near the Lake of Nogan Kul showed me the smoking gate that serves as the entrance," but admits elsewhere that "no one knows where this place is. One says Afghanistan, others India."

Agartha then, strictly speaking, would represent more of a condition of this supreme centre on earth than its actual location. Traditionally, the centre withdrew from accessibility about six thousand years ago, with the onset of the degenerate era of the Kali-Yuga. With this topic, Guenon begins his extraordinary symbological odyssey, taking up where the earlier writers leave off.

Guenon was profoundly steeped in the ancient Aryan literature of the Vendanta, one of whose chief tenants is that of the four ages of Yugas. These are: Krita-Yuga, Age of Bronze, and Kali-Yuga, the Age of Iron, or Dark Age.

The last terminal era of smoke, ruin and blood is under domination of the death goddess Kali, and it is marked by the final degradation and dissolution of humanity. The Hindu sages believe that the world is now approaching the very abyss of the Kali-Yuga. One of the major themes of Guenon's many books is to chart exactly how this process is coming to its dire fruition, chiefly through the spread of philosophical materialism and maniacal enshrinements of quantity over quality via modern science, technology and industry.

Only with the catastrophic end of this epoch, fast approaching in the view of Guenon, can the great cycle begin anew and Agartha and its Lord of the World reappear before mankind.

The Agartha story would remain an interesting footnote to Asian folklore were it not that the legend has so many unexpected points of contact with the chief arcana of the Western mystery tradition. It is these that Guenon, with his unique combination of immense erudition and gemlike conciseness, has brilliantly summarised within this surprisingly modest compass.

Most obvious, of course, would be the ageless theme of "inner earth" beings. This has exercised human imaginings from Orpheus in Hades through the medieval alchemists and Rosicrucians to modern enthusiasts of the "hollow earth" ideas of Richard Shaver and Raymond Bernard. The Lord of the World represents the obvious epitome, and quite possibly the real point of origin, for these.

Guenon's list of other major themes tied in one way or another to Agartha is long: the Spear of Longinus and the Holy Grail - the Arthurian legends - Monsalvat pilgrimage centre - the "Great Beast 666" - the Knights Templar - Freemasonry - Tibetan lore - the mysterious land of Tula or Thule, which was so bizarrely commemorated in the enigmatic Thule Gesellschaft (Thule Society) that gave rise to the National Socialist movement in Germany.

Indeed, the fateful swastika symbol itself, we are told, is intimately connected to the tradition as the virtual emblem of the Lord of the World:

"... This centre constitutes the fixed point known symbologically to all traditions as the "pole" or axis around which the world rotates. This combination is normally depicted as a wheel in Celtic, Chaldean, and Hindu traditions. Such is the true significance of the swastika, seen world-wide, from the Far East to the Far West, which is intrinsically the "sign of the Pole."

Guenon finds Manu and his deputy the Lord of the World reflected in the Shekinah and Metatron of Kabbalistic mysticism, the latter being similarly styled "Prince of the World," and the "celestial Pole."

However, it is the shadowy figure of Melchizedek that both connects the Judeo-Christian tradition with Agartha, and brings Guenon's work right up to the present in relation to one of today's most controversial phenomena of popular psychology.

Melchizedek, the supposed ancient king of what is now Jerusalem, appears a number of times in the Old and New Testaments.

Guenon writes:

"Melchizedek, or more precisely Melki-Tsedeq, is none other than the title used by Judeo-Christian tradition to denote the function of the "Lord of the World." We have hesitated before publishing this information which explains one of the most enigmatic passages of the Hebrew Bible, but, having decided to treat the issue of the Lord of the World, concluded it could hardly he passed over in silence..."

Melki-Tsedeq is thus both king and priest. His name means "king of justice" and he is also king of Salem, that is of "Peace," so again we find "Justice" and "Peace" the fundamental attributes pertaining to the "Lord of the World."

In the 1940's, ethereal "foo fighters" reportedly dogged Allied aircraft over Germany. An obscure aviator called, Kenneth Arnold galvanised a curiously receptive world media corps, and coined an unfortunate phrase, with his story of strange aircraft "like flying saucers" in the skies near Seattle, Washington.

Since that time, the unidentified flying object phenomenon has see-sawed in the public consciousness, with periodic waves of public sightings followed by stony denials from government and intense ridicule from a small cadre on the periphery of the scientific community. Most of these latter scoffers appear not to be true working scientists, but mainly journalists with strong ties to the aerospace industry and to government-controlled space programs.

The upshot of this often ferocious debunking process has been that only a few genuine scientific researchers have had the hardihood to delve into the extremely "messy" UFO business. One of the more perceptive of those who have is the French-born mathematician and computer researcher Jacques Vallee.

After a series of books examining the UFO phenomenon from a mechanistic perspective, Vallee's thinking, like that of virtually all serious UFO students, appears to have evolved in the direction of pondering less the troubled reality of the "saucers" and more the effect that their appearances - and allied cultism - seem to be having on the public.

In his study, called Messengers of Deception, Vallee makes telling observations on how damaging the long siege of UFO hijinks has been to the public's formerly unquestioning faith in rationalism and its self-chosen priesthood, the scientific community.

There is much independent evidence that something like this is happening, and on a far broader scale than Marilyn Ferguson has examined the spectrum of opinion-molding esoteric cultism in the Western World. Her work indicates a broad decline in popular regard for the basic positivist-rationalist credo.

The implications of this for the present "pluto-technocratic" world order are serious indeed. But more to our purposes is what Ferguson reveals (and does not reveal) about the comparatively small number of guiding personalities at the top of the far-flung "Aquarian" pyramid. We are left wondering - From whom do they get their marching orders?

For Vallee, however, this is a side issue. The greater part of his unusual book if taken up with a subject that is clearly of huge perplexity to the author, because he found it interwoven with UFO matters worldwide. Eventually, it even began involving itself in his own life.

It is both a cult phenomenon, expressed in a maze of grouplets of unstable people that come and go, and beyond this, a more elusive and seemingly international coordinating centre of some kind. Its name, Vallee tells us, is the Order of Melchizedek.

His research reveals earlier Melchizedek traces in the now obsolete Roman Catholic Tridentine Mass, in the senior priesthood of the Mormon Church, and in rituals of certain elite sects of Freemasons. Vallee is let to speculate on the connections, if any.

Rene Guenon was mainly known in his day as a student of Oriental religions and of traditional philosophies. However, future readers will come to value still more his incredibly deep insights into the cosmic art of symbolism. In his Apercu sur l'Initiation, Guenon has written:

"The true basis of symbolism is, as we have said, the correspondence linking together all orders of reality, binding them one to the other, and consequently extending from the natural order as a whole to the supernatural order. By virtue of this correspondence, the whole of Nature is but a symbol."

Vallee shows an unconscious drift in this same direction that also is visible in the work of many other scientists now in this day of the "Tao of Physics" when a researcher like Murray Gell-Mann can win a Nobel Prize for applying concepts like "charm" to the increasingly bewildering vagaries of so-called subatomic particles.

Vallee's major field is computer information theory, and by the end of Messengers of Deception, he concludes that what the UFO phenomenon and its allied Melchizedekian sects really signify is, not visits by interplanetary astronauts, but a maddeningly subtle sort of "reality game" that is being played from somewhere unknown as a "control system" (his words) over the attitudes of large groups of diverse people.

The ultimate question, Vallee opines, comes down to the real nature of energy and information:

"I have always been struck...by the fact that energy and information are one and the same thing under two different aspects. Our physics professors teach us this; yet they never draw the consequences..."

If energy and information are related, why do we only have one physics, the physics of energy? Where is the physics of information? Is the old theory of Magic relevant here? Are the writings of Paracelsus with his concept of "signatures," an important source of information?

His implied answer: Yes.

To all of which, Guenon probably would have given one of those inimitable Gallic shrugs as if to say "what has taken you so long?," then parenthetically suggesting the more precise word symbolism for Vallee's information.

Practically everyone who has looked into the role of clandestine control groups behind the scenes of everyday political and social "reality" eventually has arrived at the question: Is there some central authority above the diverse Trilateralists, Zionists, Freemasons, KGB/CIAS, central banks, multinational cartels, and other furtive power blocs at work shaping our world?

Is there, to address the issue raised by this book, a living, breathing Lord of the World? Ferdinand Ossendowski had no doubt of it, recounting reports that the Brahmatma had visited Buddhist festivals in Siam and India in recent times, displaying the emblem of a golden apple surmounted by a lamb.

Unfortunately, Guenon does not categorically answer this key question himself. He appears to wish to leave us with the more implicit image of the Lord of the World as a sort of vast, panhistorical construct of diverse symbol textures.

But perhaps, as Jacques Vallee's trend of thought would suggest, there really might be some place in the world at which idea and energy inter-convert. That may be as close as we in this troubled era, with our rigidly linear mental habits, can approach to the ramparts of long-hidden Agartha.

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