“The Traveler of Agartha”: the magical realism of Abel Posse

In the initiatory novel by the Argentine writer and diplomat, published thirty years ago and set during the last bars of the Second World War, the "magical realism" of Pauwels and Bergier, the esoteric doctrines of the Theosophical School of the late nineteenth century, are combined. which then influenced the Central European secret societies Thule and Vril and the eastern legend of the underground kingdom of the Immortals. In the background, a Europe by now on its last legs and a Tibet that within a few years would have experienced the indelible tragedy of the Chinese invasion.

di Marco Maculotti
cover: Nicholas Roerich, “Flowers of Timur / The Lights of Victory”, 1933

In the summer of 1943 Walther Werner, brilliant SS officer assigned to the top secret association Ahnenerbe, a section of the National Socialist state machine dedicated to anthropological studies (literally: "Ancestral Heritage Research Society"), is summoned by the Führer himself to perform a very specific task: to locate the mythical underworld of Agartha [1], hidden in the highlands of the Himalayas, and from there lead to Germany, which was about to lose the war, "the secret metaphysical weapon" that could have changed its fate, the Vril [2]: "Without that power all our material victories become illusory, irrelevant, without purpose" [p. 115].

The Traveler of Agartha - Abel Posse - Book - Three Publishers - | IBSTo this end, Werner will replace an English archaeologist named Robert Wood, already known for having accompanied Hiram on the expedition to the Peruvian Andes that led to the discovery of Machu Picchu. [3], of which he will use the personal details to access territories then under English domination: Tibet and India, where the peaceful revolution led by Gandhi was progressively repelling British power without a shot being fired. This in a nutshell the plot of The Traveler of Agartha (El Viajero de Agartha), novel by the Argentine diplomat and writer Abel Posse [4], originally released in 1989 and published in Italy for the first time in 1997 (Sonzogno, Milan) and, more recently, by Tre Editori (2009, translation by Chiara Tana).

A novel of travel and exploration, one might therefore think, along the lines of those that were so much in vogue in the nineteenth century. Nothing more reductive: why the journey to the Land of the Immortals rises in Posse's novel to a real initiatory and imaginative experience, where reality and fantasy intersect indelibly without interruption. «This is much more than a map […]. It is the union of visible reality with the magical and the invisible ", Werner is told before he sets out on his journey into the Unknown. “Look for the opening point, the passage, between what is physical and what is metaphysical. Probably it combines the possible with the utopian, the origin with the future ... " [p. 16]: this is the direction towards which his mission is oriented from the beginning, according to a line of thought that not too veiledly follows that of the "Magic realism" de The morning of the wizards by Jacques Bergier [5] and Louis Pauwels (1960), the key text of the so-called "alternative reality" trend that casually combined mysterious archeology, occultism and esotericism of the Nazi type, for a controversial revision to say the least - obviously in a fantastic - of the history of humanity and civilization as we know it in a profane way. 

remember-1924.jpg! Large
Nicholas Roerich, “Remember”, 1924

On the other hand, Posse's novel aside, the Nazi anthropological expeditions and researches in Tibet as elsewhere (e.g. in the Amazon) were historically based on an equally fantastic, greatly indebted to the theosophical esoteric doctrines et similia (you can think of Gurdjieff [6], moreover mentioned several times in the pages of Traveler from Agartha): "We are not interested in the East as the nostalgia of imperialists who collect the remains of what they have destroyed and put it in a museum", he states at one point in the novel Hausofer [7] throwing a dig at the British Empire: "For us in the East we find the primordial embryo that is still alive" [p. 31]. And this "primordial embryo still alive" would be, in the more esoteric theories ranging from Gurdjieff and Secret Doctrine area of Blavatsky [8] up to Thule company and, through it, National Socialist esotericism, the Original Man existing before the Old Testament Fall, the dramatic end of the Golden Age and the Flood that followed, which put an end to Atlantis and its Sacred Mysteries. Werner's mystical quest therefore focuses on the so-called "Magical powers" of the Primordial Man, called siddhi o kundalini of the Indians e mana by the Polynesians, with whom even some privileged souls of the modern West came into contact [p. 153]:

«They are the powers of Nietzsche in the vision of Sils Maria [9]. The power of the prophets is the power to unite and lead the masses towards the only valid goal: rebirth, superman. "

As regards the Sacred Mysteries above, the author suggests how Werner felt them flow in his own genetic heritage from childhood, by virtue of what is sometimes called blood memory. "During the harvest and grape harvest period, during our peasant festivals, the true buried god, Dionysian and solar, was manifested. It was like an explosion in repressed people within a provincial and sacristy censorship. [...] An occult god appeared with the explosion of each spring " [10] [p. 24]; so that he experiences «this march in the most solitary area of ​​the world as a party. The feast of [his of him] his return "[p. 114]. At a macro-historical level, as is well known, in the National Socialist doctrine it is monotheisms that have produced this unforgivable detachment from the primeval man, with its absurdities and its dogmas, first of all that of original sin: "It is difficult to free ourselves from the deceptions with which we are castrated by Judeo-Christianity", notes at a certain point in the novel Werner: "to live carrying a great crime unmentionable. Blame. The repugnant inside me survives other"[P. 68]; "In the deep ego, however, there is another life, an inner being faithful to the tradition of its fall" [p. 91]. Later the protagonist increases the dose, even going so far as to justify the "Final Solution" according to the same logic that would have directed his research in Central Asia [pp. 87-88]:

« It is a supreme sacrifice. It is the definitive break with the culture of degradation. With this sacrifice we will oust ourselves once and for all from history. The Führer explained in the Ahnenerbe the meaning of the final solution… After it there will be no more return or refuge for us. […] The Jews are the bearers of the lethal germ of the ideological corruption of Western man. They transmitted the virus of the god who sucks up all forms of human life, the destroyer of all that is noble, of which it is wholesome animal, of that which is instinctive. The god who taught to despise the earth, to fear nature. »

Nicholas Roerich, “Star of the Morning”, 1932

It will never be sufficiently stressed as historically the Nazi expeditions in the Himalayas - of which the best known is the one completed in 1938-39 under the guidance of Ernst Shäfer [11] - that linked Germany and Tibet in a privileged geopolitical position were undertaken under this sort of mystical inspiration, according to which the Germans were convinced that they could find in the most inaccessible areas of Central Asia mystery brotherhoods that carried on, still in the twentieth century, the sacred rituals of the epochs that have now slipped into the realm of myth. This was not, as mentioned, an exclusively Nazi idea: in Posse's novel itself, historical figures of great importance are mentioned who, in the century preceding Hitler's seizure of power, carried out expeditions in the Himalayan area, aimed at finding the secret reign of the Venerables: in addition to the aforementioned Gurdjieff and the Thule Society expedition which he saw as explorers Sebottendorff [12] ed Eckart [13], we talk about ossendowski [14], author of the controversial work Beasts Men Gods (1922), from King of the World the French esotericist René Guénon (1927), of the mystical journeys of Theodoric Von Hagen - a Benedictine friar who had fled several times from the Lambach monastery to find Agartha - and the Jesuit Theilard de Chardin [15], to the point that this "very strange navigation" of the protagonist seemed to have "as its final stop not a port, but rather a myth or a magical reality" [p. 94].

READ MORE  The Demiurge and the Negative Possibility: Fall

So for example Dietrich Eckart of the Thule Society - which was historically the occult master of Hitler -, during the "journey of the powers" in Mongolia in the company of Sebottendorff, he began to hallucinate claiming to be assisted by invisible dervishes and completely losing track of time and space: "He visited dimensions, he spoke to beings"; and when he later returned to Germany he had to struggle desperately to "regain the logic of our language", as if his mind had managed to access for a time a reality completely detached from that on which Western civilization is founded [p. 98]. The Thule Society had previously taken possession of the three mysterious ones "Black Notebooks " of the Benedictine abbot Von Hagen, who was convinced that the true Christic message - originally held by the sect of the Essenes [16] - had been misrepresented for centuries due to the deception hatched by Saul of Tarsus (San Paolo). Towards the middle of the 103th century he wrote [p. XNUMX]:

«We have lived almost two thousand years in the falsification of a false god, in the Judeo-Christian superstition whose deception I have demolished at the risk of my own life. The result of this scam are the underemployed and the Western subculture. Despite European arrogance, however, we are only caricatures. The real man will have to be born and prevail. His seed and his power are preserved in the innermost East. The birth of him will be terrible and bloody. But it will be, and he will regain the exact place he deserves in the Cosmos: apparently it will be less, but it will be more. »

Nicholas Roerich, “Stronghold of the Spirit”, 1932

It is this, Werner comments laconically at one point in the novel, the only way left for dying Europe to get out of its hell: “the voice of nostalgia for the lost gods […]. The rest, all of our famous Culture, is nothing but a chatter of angry whores and sons of traders expelled from their paternal home " [p. 197]. In this perspective, the nomadic populations of the Mongolian steppe and the Himalayan highlands pose themselves as an image pure of humanity, still today immune to the Western and monotheistic virus - those "strange eternal nomads who rejoice at the sight of the desert plateaus. They live intense nights around the camp fire, telling each other stories, laughing. Beings close to a primeval cosmic order that we, the so-called civilized, have lost. In them everything seems clear, simple, pure. They fall asleep wrapped in thick blankets with their gaze lost in a sky where the stars shine like lighthouses "[pp. 84-85]. "Here", he concludes later, “There is no other space than that of the triad of Chinese mystics: Earth-Man-Divinity. […] There is no death or time for them […]. Because when nothing is calculated, neither weighed nor measured, one is already in the quiet side of not being. Who can speak of death or life? […] Is it really in being? Is it possible to lose being? " [p. 201].

It is in the face of this completely different reality from that of Germany - and entirely Western - that the protagonist begins to ask himself questions about his mission: "For the first time I felt I was the representative of a futile world", confesses at some point; "A chaotic world, Noisy, if compared to the serenity of the Lama monastery in front of the lunar desert, to the cosmic silence of Takla Makan "[p. 143]. Compared to the timeless expanses of Central Asia Europe suddenly appears to him «like a frenetic animal, pressed against the edges of the map which he had seen in the monastery of the Tatelang Lamas "[p. 196]. Suddenly the entire European culture that has survived to the present day seems to him "a broken culture [...] a culture of hysterics and dead myths"[P. 197]. A bitter awareness, that of Werner, who knows his climax when he is told in no uncertain terms by the Venerable Living Buddha Gomchen Rinpoche, to meet whom he made his mad journey [p. 222]:

« All your peoples have been defeated in this war. The hinges of the doors of time have turned, but in the opposite direction. It is now the beginning of your end, of you who have taken possession of everything. Of those who took everything, measured it, transformed it: destroyers of the world. Nothing of what you have taken belongs to you: you pass without being, like the swan that passes over the waters of the lake without getting soaked. "

Nicholas-roerich-path-to-kailas-4 (1)
Nicholas Roerich, “Path to Kailas”, 1931

What remains, then, to the European man, whose wounds bleed profusely in the face of a defeat that has the chrism of cosmic tragedy? It remains in fact agartha, that secret kingdom which is, as Gurdjieff said, "where geography ends and the labyrinth of symbols begins" [p. 247]; that place, in Ossendowski's words, "Where the earth and the sky hold their breath" [p. 244] or, according to those of Von Hagen, found «In a stopped time at the edge of time» [p. 166]. Because, again quoting Von Hagen, «[f] as we enter reality, the fears and difficulties are the obvious and predictable ones. Things get complicated when you begin to move from so-called reality to transreality. When what is invisible envelops and confuses, like a fog, what is visible. […] And that is it the true habitat of man, which man tries to ignore"[P. 130].

READ MORE  Towards "TimeWave Zero": Psychedelia and Eschatology in Terence McKenna

A primeval and essential habitat, even terrifying for its power of to attract ed blind the visitor, transforming himself into a passion that constantly burns away from earthly things, of which he highlights the illusory limits, (yes, you can learn it) from his own individuality and personality (or person, in the Etruscan-Latin sense of mask): «Whoever yields to it is inevitably attracted to its center, like the insect by the light of the night. Near Agartha the initiate will feel detached from his inner life. He will experience uncontrollable fears, but this is a good sign. Agartha demands the passage to another dimension"[P. 215]. All the more so because, as specified at a certain point in the novel, "Midnight is certainly not over yet and the most evil are yet to be born" [p. 175] [17].

Screen 2020-11-17 10.16.51 to
Nicholas Roerich, “Maytreya, Keyong”, 1931


[1] Aghartha (or Aghartta or Agharti; also known as Shambhala) is a legendary kingdom found within the Earth (Hollow Earth theory), first described by the French occultist Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre (Mission of India in Europe, 1881), as well as later by writer Willis George Emerson (The Smoky God, 1908), by the Polish Ossendowski [see note 14] and by the French esotericist René Guénon (The King of the World, 1927). According to some, Aghartha / Shambhala would be "located in India and coinciding with Mount Meru or the North Pole before the displacement of the terrestrial axis, the center of the world and the original earth of humanity" [cit. Wikipedia.it: "Agarthi"]. On the subject, in addition to the texts already mentioned, cf. W. Kafton-Minkel, The underground kingdom; J. Godwin, The polar myth and A. Znamenski, Red Shambhala. See also M. Maculotti: "Underground" civilizations in myth, occultism and "reality alternative" and V. Pisciuneri, Roerich, Gurdjieff, Blavatsky: the secrets of the Gobi desert. On Smoky God by Emerson, cf. M. Maculotti: Underworld civilization in science fiction fiction.

[2] Vril is a hypothetical form of energy described in various works relating to modern esotericism, such as The future race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1871) e The morning of the wizards by J. Bergier and L. Pauwels (1960), which would allow a mysterious civilization residing in the Hollow Earth to develop supernatural powers (homologous to siddhi of the Indian tradition) which would make them similar to deities.

[3] The numerous mentions in the novel to the Andean geographical area and its traditional culture are not strange: correspondences between the Andes and Tibet were also noted by Colonel Percy H. Fawcett during his explorations in South America (Fawcett exploration, 1953) and Harold T. Wilkins (Mysteries of Ancient South America, 1946). One can, for example, mention the dilated ears of the highest members of the priestly class (both in Buddhist iconography and, among the Incas, as regards the so-called Dried peaches), the "Llamas runners", able to travel great distances in mystical trance, without ever stopping, almost not touching the ground with their feet (they too have identical counterparts in ancient Peru), or the artistic patterns of the colorful clothes traditional (which, both in the Himalayas and in the Andes, denote a preference for red / magenta and yellow tones); without forgetting the mirrored legends concerning secret worlds and underground tunnels. On the Dried peaches cf. M. Maculotti: Viracocha and the myths of the origins: creation of the world, anthropogenesis, foundation myths.

[4] Abel Posse (born 7 January 1934), author, among other works, also of Daimon (1978), historical fresco of Hispanic America that received not a few acclaim from the critics; Dogs of Heaven (1983), with which he won the Rómulo Gallegos Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in Latin America; And I Prague Diaries (1998), focusing on the figure of Che Guevara.

[5] On Jacques Bergier, cf. M. Maculotti: The "Great Game" by Jacques BergierJacques Bergier and "Magic Realism": a new paradigm for the atomic age; A. Scarabelli: Colin Wilson & Jacques Bergier: that is, the conspiracy of historyMircea Eliade: "Pauwels, Bergier and the Planet of Wizards".

[6] Georges Ivanovič Gurdjieff (1872 - 1949); Armenian philosopher, writer and mystic; his teaching, centered on the "doctrine of awakening", combines Sufism (including the sacred dervish dances), Islamic mysticism and other religious (Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Hinduism), esoteric and philosophical traditions.

READ MORE  Abysmal thinking: Friedrich Nietzsche and the eternal return

[7] Karl Ernst Haushofer (1869 - 1946); German general and political scientist; in the first decade of the twentieth century he made several trips to the East (Japan, India, Tibet, etc.), countries of which he studied the religious and esoteric culture. In 1918, having returned to Germany after having fought in the First World War, he founded the Vril Society, a secret society in various respects similar to the Thule Society.

[8] Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831 - 1891); philosopher, essayist, occultist, medium and co-founder of the Theosophical Society in 1875; she is the author of some of the basic texts of Theosophy, including The secret doctrine (1888) and Isis unveiled (1877); traveled all over the world, in Europe (England, Italy, France, Greece), North Africa (Egypt), the Middle East (Turkey), America (United States, Canada) and above all Asia (India, Ceylon, Tibet, Japan, Siberia), where he took particular interest in Hindu, Buddhist and shamanic secret traditions.

[9] Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900) spent seven summer stays in the XNUMXs at Sils Maria, where he had the "revelation" of the concept of "Eternal Return", which he would later develop in Thus spoke Zarathustra, published in four parts between 1883 and 1885. To the aforementioned "revelation" he also dedicated a poem, entitled precisely Sils Maria:

"Here I stood and waited, I waited for nothing,
beyond good and evil, now beyond light
enjoying, now the shadow, all simple game,
and sea and noon, all time aimlessly.
And suddenly, friend! Behold the One became Two -
and Zarathustra passed me by ... "

On Nietzsche and the Eternal Return, cf. MC Valentini, Abyssal Thought: Friedrich Nietzsche and the Eternal Return.

[10] Regarding the agrarian cults of ancient Europe, cf. James Frazer, The golden branch (1890)

[11] Ernst Shäfer (1910 - 1992); German ornithologist and zoologist, he made several expeditions to Tibet and China: the first two, in an American team led by naturalist Brooke Dolan II, in 1931-32 and in 1934-36; the third, on behalf of the Third Reich, in 1938-39. The German expedition arrived in Lhasa on January 19, 1939 and remained there for two months, during which time its members established good relations with Tibetan officials and Schäfer personally met the regent Reting Rinpoche. Schäfer observed Tibetan rituals, including celestial burial, as well as photographed and filmed various folklore ceremonies.

[12] Rudolf von Sebottendorff (1875 - 1945); German engineer, prominent figure of the Thule Society, was interested in esoteric practices and doctrines (Sufi meditation, astrology, numerology, alchemy, cabala); he spent most of his life in Turkey, where he possibly converted to Islam.

[13] Dietrich Eckart (1868 - 1923); German politician, one of the earliest members of the German National Socialist Workers' Party, was a member of the Thule Society.

[14] Ferdynand Ossendowski (1876 - 1945); Polish writer, journalist, explorer and political activist; in 1920 he enlisted as an anti-communist in the "white army" of Baron Von Ungern-Spernberg. At the end of 1921 he published his first book in English, Beasts, Men and Gods, in which he describes his travels during the Russian civil war. On this work, cf. D. Palmieri: Beasts, Men, Gods; for an extract see: The Underground Kingdom (F. Ossendowski, "Beasts, Men, Gods"); on Von Ungern, cf. A. Of the War: Von Ungern-Sternberg's religiosity: between Buddhism, shamanism and Christianity.

[15] Pierre Theilard de Chardin (1881-1955); French Jesuit, philosopher and paleontologist. Known during his lifetime as an evolutionist scientist, his notoriety as a theologian is due to the posthumous publication of his main writings, among which must be mentioned The human phenomenonHuman energyThe appearance of man e The future of man. His eschatological theory of the "Omega Point" is well known, a term he coined to describe the maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which the universe seems to tend in its evolution, a doctrine that inspired, among others, Terence McKenna [cf. . M. Maculotti: Towards “TimeWave Zero”: Psychedelia and Eschatology in Terence McKenna e Terence McKenna and the "food of the gods"].

[16] The Essenes were a Jewish group of uncertain origin, perhaps born around the middle of the second century BC and organized into isolated monastic communities that led a hermit or cenobitic life. They are credited with the so-called "Qumran scrolls", found in 1947 in some caves on the western shore of the Dead Sea, where some Essene brotherhoods historically existed. “According to Martin A. Larson, the now misunderstood Essenes were Pythagorean Jews, who lived as monks. As vegetarians and celibates, in self-sufficient communities, avoiding marriage and family, they preached a looming war with the "Sons of the Dark". As "Sons of Light," this reflected a separate influence from Zoroastrianism through their kinship ideology of Pythagoreanism. According to Larson, both the Essenes and the Pythagoreans remembered the thiasoi, or the cult units of the Orphic mysteries. John the Baptist is widely considered as an excellent example of an Essene who had left community life… »[cit. Wikipedia.it: "Esseni"].

[17] Regarding this prophecy, we refer to the chapter of Ossendowski's book “The underground kingdom” [cit. in note 14] and the aforementioned essay by Znamenski [cit. in note 1]; this prophecy could also refer to the invasion of Tibet by Communist China, which took place in 1950.

5 comments on ““The Traveler of Agartha”: the magical realism of Abel Posse"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *