There is a multitude of groups, organisations and communities that represent a worldview which agrees with that of Via Electri, as well as those which are of interest to our goals and practices. This article begins our introduction of such Traditional European Pagan communities with the Italian group Societas Hesperiana that was founded in 2010. The full name of the association is ”Societas Hesperiana pro Cultu Deorum (S.H.C.D.) and in English it means ”The Hesperian Community of those who make cult to the Gods”. The name ”Hesperian” refers to the archaic name of the Italian peninsula, Hesperia, meaning ”Land of the Twilight, Western Land”. The association honours the Roman pantheon and practices the Italic Ethnic Religion. The association also pays specific attention to the local dimension and regional variations of the ancient religion of Northern Italy, known by the Romans as Gallia Cisalpina. More on the society can be found on their website (link).
SOCIETAS HESPERIANATurning away from an anti-spiritual conception of life that destroys Man and Nature, we return conscious of the most natural way to be spiritually Italians and Romans in our own, still beautiful, sacred Land. It’s not an easy path and ours is not an easy task: we want to win our world back, better than before.
"The Roman-Italic rituals and their sources"
The Triple Exile
As we all know, after the doomed and execrable Second Edict of Theodosius in the year 392 CE, private (communitarian and domestic) rituals were banned in the entire territory of the Western Roman Empire. Eventually, terrible persecutions punished all who continued to honour the Gods and the Ancestors in all the territories of nowadays Italy. Nonetheless, we know from historical sources and because of the persistence of many ritual acts in rural Italy that many fellow Gentiles continued to perform rituals during the long centuries of oppression. Furthermore, the memory of the Traditional Religion of Rome and Italy lived on in the upper classes’ culture, in literature and in the esoteric milieus. This is what we call the "triple exile of our legitimate Tradition": not "dead" or "extinct", our religion has lived for a millennium and a half in the Italian (and Alpine) folklore and in our high culture, and it was - and is - also kept and guarded by a line of different groups and organizations, both "religious" or "esoteric", "secret" or "visible".
1) History, literature and archaeology
Just because of this long survival - and because of the importance of Latin literature in the European culture - we have a lot of written historical sources for the ritual aspects of the Roman-Italic religion. We even have a few sources that describe a complete ritual from the beginning to the end, especially if we talk about the more complex and important public State rituals. Still, Cato, Macrobius, Virgil, and many other classical authors give us important and almost complete extracts of the private - familiar - rituals. Many other authors, like the Roman and even Greek historians, provide us with more detailed information about the public rituals. An important, even if late source is provided in “On the marriage of Philology and Mercury” by Martianus Capella, a Late Antiquity poet and scholar who wrote a sort of summa maxima of the Roman Age knowledge, poetry, religion, geography and mythology. From this book we can interpret the Etruscan-Roman archaeological sources that teach us the spatial directions to keep while praying to the Gods, a very important aspect of our Tradition. Archaeology can also be very important, because through it we can find traces of our Religion and how it was practiced by our ancestors, but it needs to be interpreted through written sources, folkloric comparisons and - most importantly - through a spiritual, not materialistic, approach to the matter.
2) The Living Book: the Italian and European folklore
Both the private, familial and clan rituals - which have their roots in the pre-Roman traditions - and the Roman State Religion have left important and durable traces in the Italian folklore. It is said that the main moments of loss of our ritual continuity were not (only) the Christian persecutions during the Late Antiquity, but more recent events like the Counter Reformation in the 16th century, Industrialization and the two World Wars. The most archaic religious aspects, id est the ones strictly connected to the Sacred Calendar, to agriculture, to healing and to the spirits of the Dead, were and are practiced in many parts of Italy, with a strong adherence to the rhythms and the forms of the Roman religion or to even earlier Italic, Gaulish, Hellenic or pre-Indo-European specific cults. To give some examples: Charles Godfrey Leland, an American anthropologist of the late 19th century, observed an almost complete Etruscan-Italic-Celtic pantheon of fairies, spirits, gods and beings who were praised by the commoners of Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, just a century ago; in Central-Eastern Alps, the tradition of Faunalia Rustica still lives in the Krampus Nächte, a procession of wolf-goat masked men which takes place in nowadays Italy, Austria and Slovenia; many Goddesses are masked behind very specific Madonnas; many saints are clearly Gods and spirits in disguise... All such information is a Living Book of our Tradition: some aspects need to be purified and interpreted, other are strictly "Pagan" in form and they are survived aspects that can be taken and adopted by their legitimate heirs. We have to note that in almost all these cases of popular traditional remnants, only the form has remained, but a deep theological aspect is lacking. The current followers of the Italic religion should not be "romantic scholars" or historical re-enactors of both folklore or ancient history: from both we have to take information to do what is right, and nothing more. We are not 15th-century farmers or ancient Romans: we are ethnic Italians and this is our legitimate Tradition for the right sake of Blood, Culture, Soil and Language.
3) Perennial Tradition and Esotericism
Esoteric knowledge, philosophy and magic were always followed by the Italian and European upper classes; during the centuries, prelates, nobles and scholars gave life to many esoteric associations and groups of various tendencies. We know that during the Middle Ages, a line of poets called "i fedeli d’Amore" ( 'the devotees of Amor', because Amor is both "love" and the anagram of "Roma") kept memory of the Roman tradition in an (apparent?) syncretism with Christianity. The most known of them is Dante Alighieri, father of the modern Italian language. During the Renaissance due to the influence of Neoplatonist philosophers who left Greece to Italy because of the Ottoman invasion, we see a strong amount of 'Pagan', traditional aspects in Italian high culture and esotericism. It seems that in both Italy and Greece some lineages weren’t interrupted... and some influences endured until today, like an "underground river". In certain cases such utilisation of our traditional theology, magic and knowledge was "pure" and legitimate. In other cases, we observe a strong colonisation of foreign aspects, especially from Judaism/Kabbala and then Freemasonry. We have to wait until the early 20th century to see in the Italian esotericism a clear will of freeing our Tradition from every alien colonisation. During the tragic days of the WWI, the mysterious group of 'Ekatlo(s)' evoked a manifestation of the Dioscuri twin Gods in the sky of Rome, announcing the rally of the Italian soldiers after the disastrous rout of Caporetto. It was done "celebrating the same Roman-Italic ritual, every day..." In the 1920s, another group called 'UR' tried to influence the political and cultural reality for the resurrection of Rome, practicing Roman rituals. We have to say that even the UR group, although founded by a lineage of Neopythagorean followers, was still a spurious experiment with some bounds with occultism and fringe Freemasonry. The groups operated - ritually speaking - only for two years. In any case, the most Roman-oriented elements, like Arturo Reghini and Julius Evola, left many teachings and writings for a new generation. They followed the Perennial Tradition hypothesis and they considered our Tradition as an immortal, everliving, divinely inspired Spiritual Centre, and not only a chaotic mass of historical remains. After WWII in 1968 - at Julius Evola's home - a group of youth that was free from any occult or masonic behaviour, started a new operation: the 'Dioscuri'. Their aim was - and is - to evoke and protect the Holy Fire of Rome and Italy. As we know, reserved but not strictly "secret", this operation lives on...
Back from Exile: Roma Renovata Resurgit!
Since the late 1980s, many different groups and associations started to meet and to practice our religious tradition in a more visible and "public" form (in the modern sense of the word). Some of them are just a little more than historical re-enactment, others were still influenced by pre-20th century para-Masonic influences, but a strong core of different groups - young or older - are following a "pure" form of communal, familiar and individual rituals which are based on our historical, legitimate tradition that is Roman and Italic - Italian and European - without any syncretism with Freemasonry, occultism and, to be more precise, with nothing to do with the evocation of names and entities of the Judaeo-Christian Kabbala.
The sources provided us by folklore, archaeology, history are very useful for such groups, but only if they are considered as living matter, not only as cold erudition. Our tradition is our local "adaption" - Italian and Roman - of the Perennial Tradition of every spiritual, dharmic Man. If it is true that any sources could teach us "how to perform a ritual", from the Perennial Tradition doctrines we know what a Man, and a Folk, should do to purify and celebrate himself and the surrounding, living and animated World. What could seem only as "erudition" is actually pure gold in the hands of someone who follows the spiritual path of abdication of the modern, profane, pseudo-values. Because of its many valuable and living sources, our Tradition is still practicable for the ones who want to start a path of purification of the intoxications of this godless modern "Civilization".
Turning away from an anti-spiritual conception of life that destroys Man and Nature, we return conscious of the most natural way to be spiritually Italians and Romans in our own, still beautiful, sacred Land. It’s not an easy path and ours is not an easy task: we want to win our world back, better than before.
Roma Renovata Resurgit! - Rome Renewed Rises!