Daniil Andreev. «The Rose of the World»
Book VIII. On the Metahistory of the Tzardom of Moscovy

VIII. Chapter 2. The Egregor of Orthodoxy and Infraphysical Fear

Any conscientious researcher would hardly deny the fact so embittering to our national pride: the lack whatsoever of artefacts that would testify to a fruitful work of the analyzing and broadly generalizing thought. Strictly speaking, neither to Russian chroniclers, nor to church writers and poets from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries, nor even to Ivan the Terrible who had shown an extraordinary intellectual vigor in his letters to Kurbsky, could we apply the term “thinker”.

As a matter of fact, this is only natural. Early historical stages of any people do not and cannot see anything different. What could puncture our pride is too protracted – over more than eight hundred years – a period of our cultural childhood.

Something else is natural, too: a remarkable integrity of character and, I would say, undifferentiation of psyche intrinsic to the people of those times. Russian characters of the eleventh or sixteenth centuries, whether it be Alexander Nevsky or Ivan Kalita, Svyatopolk the Accursed or Malyuta Skuratov, Stephen of Perm or Nil Sorsky, Andrei Rublev or the author of “The Tale of Igor’s Campaign” (it is possible to judge the author’s personality from his literary work) would appear to us as though carved out of stone. It seems that the only kind of inner conflict those people were well familiar with was the pangs of conscience. Yet, for this kind of conflict, a kind of catharsis was also procured by the shepherd of souls, the Church: repentance or, in some extreme cases, taking the monastic vows.

This was only natural because, up until the second half of the sixteenth century, historical experience did not bring the Russian consciousness to clash with the unresolvable contradictions of thought and spirit, did not provide the grounds to peer into the abyss of ethical and religious dualism. The struggle with the Tatars was a struggle with a concrete, plain, clearly delineated, nationwide enemy: such a struggle could only spur the development of a wholesome and adamantine character. The contemporaries of Yuri Dolgoruky or Vasily the Dark were barely aware of the collision between the Christian Myth and pre-Russianism as a deep spiritual conflict. Rather, there prevailed a syncretism of sorts – a steady, not quite conscious dual faith of everyday life which was adhered to by all but a small group of society: the monks.

The first historical figure that heralded the passing over into another stage was Ivan the Terrible. It is clear that such a figure, with the pedestal of his supreme political authority being in full view, as it were, of all the people, could not have made a more staggering, appalling, I would say, totally bewildering impression upon his contemporaries. But Ivan the Terrible was followed by the Time of Troubles revealing the all-out confrontation of metahistorical forces – the time that pulled all strata of the suprapeople into its apocalypse.

The metahistorical experience of those years translated into a certain mindset shared by broad layers of the people, which, ultimately, led to a great Church dissent.

The people’s psyche severely traumatized by the hardships of the Time of Troubles and their transphysical undercurrent could recuperate only over a turn of a few generations. Too palpable and burning was the breath of the anticosmos that scorched the contemporaries of Ivan the Terrible and False Dmitry. It was the first time in history when the people was on the brink of demise, not at the hands of a flat-out, unmistakable foreign enemy like the Tatars but of some enigmatic forces lurking from within and opening the doors to an enemy from without – irrational, mysterious, and thereby even more frightening influences. For the first time, Russia came to realize what abysses surrounded not only her physical, but also her psychological existence. Flagrant crimes committed by the rulers with impunity, their inner tragedies exhibited to everyone, the pangs of their conscience, their uncanny horror of the otherworldly retribution, the evanescence of their royal grandeur and frailty of all undertakings which had had no blessing from above, mass apparitions of lightful and dark armies fighting each other for something most sacrosanct, most pivotal, most untouchable in the people, perhaps, for some divine being – this was the country’s atmosphere from Ivan the Terrible’s childhood up until the childhood of Peter I. An acute watchfulness, mistrust, and suspicion of everything novel and untried in that epoch was natural and explicable. It took the lapse of the whole century for the people to be able to take to something new. In order to reconcile with a cultural revolution not unlike Peter’s reforms, it had to distance itself from the Time of Troubles.

Indeed: hadn’t the first witzraor’s tyrannical tendency been manifested so precociously and vigorously, inner reforms of Peter the Great would have been possible a century earlier. I personally believe that the lightful mission of Ioann IV, of which he accomplished only a fraction, may have even been a preparation precisely for the broad reforms aimed at coming closer together with other Christian cultures. Yet, the fact of the matter is: not only Russia need not have hastened to be on close terms with the West but precisely protraction of its historical movement in the sixteenth-seventeenth centuries could have had a providential meaning. Had the transformational change in Peter the Great’s fashion occurred in the sixteenth century (given the autocracy of Moscow rulers beginning from Ivan the Terrible, this could have happened only if a legitimate ruler of Peter’s type and stature had found himself on the throne), this change might have grossly distorted the nascent metahistorical – and historical – ways of Russia. The people was too naïve spiritually, too drained psychologically by the Tatar yoke, and not yet tempered in combat with infraphysical temptations. Had Europeanism gushed into the cultural zone of Russia, it could have flooded the hotbeds of Russian national spirituality and stifled fragile shoots of the idiosyncratic Russian culture with the alluvial sludge of a foreign, more materially developed civilization. The people should have been first allowed to strengthen, the country should have been led through the crucible of satanic temptations to begin with – these were unavoidable all the same. Yet, at the same time, the tempting forces should have been compelled to limit their repertoire to temptations that the people could handle, unlike intellectually high and ethically low temptations of Catholicism at the time of the inquisition from one side, and temptations of the secular era that Western Europe was already poised to enter – from the other. Russia had been destined for a singular and unique role, a global-wide mission was being prepared inside her and above her. The implementation of this mission would have been doomed should the spiritually unseasoned people and unripe country have been pulled into the orbit of the more mature metacultures of the West, that is, turned into one of the many nations of the Catholic and North-Western cultures.

The demiurges of suprapeoples are not the highest metahistorical hierarchy. There are others. There is the Griddrutva, the White Chamber wherein the enlightened ones, upon rising into the World Synclite from the zatomises, are creating together the spiritual plane for the all-human ascent; there is the Synclite of Humanity, there is the Elite of Shadanakar, there is the World Salvaterra. The unfathomable designs of these hierarchies peek through, if only partially, after a lapse of centuries. Only then the higher aspect begins to show through, the innermost layer of teleology, of which rippled and fragmented reflections make their way into the teleological blueprints of all humanity’s demiurges – the creations of magnificent yet limited spirits, imperfect or too parochial plans in spite of all their grandeur, which do not foresee, forethink, and encompass everything there is.

And so, the Time of Troubles snapped the people out of childhood. It gave the people a metahistorical experience, an enriching one at that. Yet, the assimilation of this experience took a long time; apparently, even nowadays it has yet to be assimilated fully. The seventeenth century is marked entirely with this assimilation, this transition from childhood to adolescence. Apart from assimilation, the time was also marked with a certain new factor which encumbered this process and shaped it in most peculiar ways.

World history knows of graphic examples when belligerent egregors have also emerged over religious communities. An impetuously manifesting expansionist and, all the more so, vampirical tendency, once tightly merged with the religio-communal worldview, bears the best testimony to a powerful religious egregor being actively demonized by Gagtungr, thus transforming from a mere unavoidable obstacle into a conscious and dynamic enemy of the Providential process of metahistory. It suffices to recall the history of Judaism or the murderous expansion of early Islam.

We have already talked about the immense – and fortunate at that – significance of Vladimir the Holy’s personal decision in regard to Russia’s state creed. Now we ought to recall that Vladimir had Russia embrace precisely this creed that, owing to its almost millennial-old tradition, and the circumstances of its formation in the cultural centers of Byzantium by the emperor’s throne, was spared of the extreme theocratic tendency. Compared to the egregors of Islam and Calvinism, and also – all the more so – the monsters towering behind Judaism and the Papacy, the egregor of Russian Orthodoxy was torpid, amorphous, unaggressive, and weak. The Church had long become the state’s spiritual ally, then helper, then lackey, then, under the Third Zhrugr – slave, only once having attempted to claim its supreme all-state role. However lamentable this staircase of ever-increasing submission to the state is from the religio-cultural or even denominational-Orthodox point of view, still it is the lesser of two evils compared to its opposite extreme.

A dark-etheric egregor grew strong over the Russian Orthodox Church owing to the psychological climate that dominated in the country, much as a result of the struggle with the Tatars and the establishment of the national belligerent “greatpowerness”. The egregor was being formed from those radiations of the churched human masses which were imported by any soul that had not achieved righteousness and admixed the radiations of so-called “rubs and worries of life” to the emanations of awe, adoration, and love. The egregor’s growth was also fatally propelled by the peculiarities of the medieval half-magical pietism which prompted believers to make huge donations to monasteries for conducting memorial services and impelled princes to confer on monasteries massive land tracts. The monks, in their turn, took it all for granted. The prodigious accumulation of wealth by the monasteries, the overall enmeshment of monks and clergy in worldly matters was a rather fertile ground for a dark-etheric outgrowth on the church’s organism. At the foot of its collective meta-etheric massif, something of a foggy lump was condensing, a billowy haze of sorts which, with its blind equivalent of consciousness, apparently identified itself with the church. The danger of its swelling lay in the emergence of a kind of invisible barrier between believers’ souls and the transphysical essence of the church that these souls were aspiring for. Therefore, however dimly believers sensed this danger, it must have appeared to them as even more menacing than the vampirical tendency of the Zhrugrs.

Of course, the Church did not stay indifferent to this worrisome phenomenon. A historical manifestation of these two chief tendencies contending within it – egregorial and Providential – was the confrontation of proponents and opponents of large land-ownership by monasteries. The most prominent representatives of both these trends were Nil Sorsky and Joseph Volotsky, with their open battleground being the Assembly of 1503, as well as heated literary debates. Tellingly, the leader of those opposing the land ownership happened to be precisely Nil Sorsky, a man of an exceedingly subtle soul organization, the true poet of hermitage, the bearer of a real saintliness, a vessel of spirituality in the full meaning of the word. It was not the stirrings of “the historical feeling” that Nil Sorsky, together with nearly all hermits lacked in, but, rather, a profound transphysical concern for the church that nudged him out of his reclusion and had him confront the Josephites. Although the church did canonize him later – to not honor the memory of one of the greatest Russians saints would have been impossible – all in all, the victory was with the Josephites. Thus the egregor of Orthodoxy retained the breeding ground for the dark-etheric milieu nourishing it. In the space of a century, shortly after the Time of Troubles, the fruits of all this reaped with a vengeance.

Having carried out the intrachurch reforms of an almost exclusively liturgic and textual nature, patriarch Nikon undoubtedly manifested the sheer will of the church as such. Having aspired for the supreme post in the state, attempting to overshadow the cloth of the king with that of the patriarch – whatever his personal intentions were – he turned into a blunt instrument of that parasitic dark-etheric formation on the church’s body which we are talking about.
His and his inspirer’s defeat stemmed not only from the greater power possessed by the demon of statehood but also a broader epochal-historical rationale behind the demon’s actions. The witzraor’s legitimacy was apparently sensed by a wide swath of the population. If the purely liturgical reforms of Nikon caused a backlash – one so strong that the constructive forms of the Old Belief which it was molded into have survived until our days – his attempt at a theocratic or, rather, hierocratic revolution must have repelled even larger masses, including the overwhelming majority of the clergy. The latter, as a result of this revolution, would have been shouldered with an unreasonable, strange, incomprehensible, hence unrealizable responsibility. The “pope-like” ambitions of Nikon breathed of a vaguely familiar spirit: it was reminiscent of that tyrannical tendency that had deeply scorched the Russian society in the time of Ivan the Terrible and, again, succeeded in blowing strongly at the end of Boris Godunov’s reign. Still fresh in memory were sufferings it had led to and the abysses it had cast into. The fact that this danger was now coming not from the demon of statehood but from something uncannily nebulous, coming from the bosom of the church itself, only intensified the irrational, transphysical fear.

The hierocratic encroachments of Nikon were cut short, but the otherworldly fear could not have been eradicated by that alone. This gave rise to Raskol (a major religious schism in the fold of the Russian Orthodox church in the mid-seventeenth century, translator’s note) permeated with the terror before the “Prince of this World” which seemed as though he had already come and built a nest in the sancta sanctorum of humankind – in the church. From thence, the “non-class” or “beyond-class” nature of Raskol was joined by people from all social strata and walks of life, by all those who had sensed that infraphysical fear in their hearts. From thence came Avvakum’s vehement intolerance and denial of any possibility of compromise as well as passionate yearning for martyrdom. From thence evolved the unflinching ruthlessness of schismatics that were ready, in case of their church and political victory, to stack corpses upon corpses of “Satan’s children”. From thence emanated that ardent, impatient longing for deliverance, for ultimate salvation, for the sought-for end of the world, which is hardly graspable to people from other epochs. From thence, finally, came that unparalleled heroism of bodily self-destruction – as we delve into the history of massive self-immolations – something that stupefies us, unless metahistorical contemplation is not foreign to us at least in some degree, and shatters us to the core of our being if, as issuing from such contemplations, the true nature of this fascinating phenomena has been revealed to us.

Nikon was exiled; then, he passed way. However, the church did sanction his reforms. Decades passed by, yet no return to the old faith was in sight. And when the demiurge, in materializing his planetary design, nominated such a giant as Peter the Great; when the Second Zhrugr involtated him with all his youthful might; when, on behalf of the king-reformer, the state assigned the church a small corner in its domain having bent religion to its interests and narrowed down the people’s spiritual creativity, only then did Raskol take on a concrete shape to which its otherworldly consternation and hatred were attached. Peter was proclaimed the Antichrist.

We should not be surprised with the pettiness of the purely formal, far from dogmatic dissentions between the Old Belief and Nikon’s Orthodoxy; from the seventeenth century’s vantage point – half-magical and, at the same time, unafraid of some radical inferences – the Antichrist’s spirit was not bound to manifest in defying the Creed or physical decimation of the religious community. This spirit was envisaged as “the Father of Lies” starting off from satellitic, superficial switches only to drag the ensnared soul, step by step, down into the anticosmic abysm. And if we cannot feel sympathy with Raskol’s actors in their ideological orientation and methods, the understanding of and sympathy with a great vexation of minds caused by Raskol are within our reach.

It is true that the egregor of Orthodoxy was met with a resounding rebuff, and, from that side, dissipate the danger did. What is also true is that behind Peter there stood such inspirators, and the pathway, having been traced by this king, opened such prospects that the idea of the Third Rome could appear a backwater parochialism. Yet, this future, at the same time, boded for a chain of such changes and switches, yawned with such unexplored abysses, and the recent flames of the Time of Trouble gleamed with such a premonition that the mind involuntarily flinched back, inside, into the spiritually veracious, centuries-hallowed forms of spirituality that had delivered salvation to the countless legions of souls of grandfathers and great-grandfathers.

Therefore, a spiritual process of extraordinary importance began emerging in the sixteenth century and took its final shape a century later. It could be outlined with the following complementary definitions:

a) disintegration of the primeval wholesomeness of the soul’s organization

b) dialectically unavoidable passing through a protracted period of inner disharmony

c) developing the ability to simultaneously contemplate antipodal spiritual depths

d) a cultural and transphysical broadening of personal limitations

e) struggling of thought to comprehend the metahistorical experience

It could be surmised that this spiritual process stopped short, died out, and confined itself within the Old Belief owing to a sheer historical feebleness and inability to probe into the essence of cultural-historical processes. Quite the contrary: all religious philosophy and historiosophy of the nineteenth century from Pyotr Chaadaev and the Slavophiles to Vladimir Solovyov, Dmitri Merezhkovsky, and Sergei Bulgakov, all psychological dualism, all contemplation, emotional and life experience of both spiritual polarities residing just as in Lermontov and Gogol, so – even to a greater degree – in Dostoevsky, Vrubel, and, finally, Blok, are nothing but subsequent stages of this process.

Let us consider this in more detail.

In the nineteenth century, the fragmentation of the primeval wholesomeness of the soul reached such a depth that even Pushkin’s personality, riddled with contradictions and having swung between opposite poles in religious and political views, yet appears to us wholesome as compared to the psychological cast of his contemporaries and descendants.

Nearly all the cultural creativity of the nineteenth century is marked with an inner disharmony. Only by the end of that century does there emerge a possibility of its overcoming – a deficient possibility fraught with even more dismal catastrophes at that – as on the global historical plane, so in terms of the personal eschatology, that is, of the otherworldly destiny of human shelts. What I mean by this: here we find the origins of the colossal movement over which the figures of Plekhanov and Lenin tower.

The ability to simultaneously contemplate opposite spiritual depths proved to be nothing but the manifestation of the archetypal Russian proclivity for uncircumscribed breadth that merely corresponded to the new cultural age of the nation: the selfsame broadness which, in times of primitive and wholesome characters, manifested psychologically – in the oneness of the soul organization coupled with the width of boundless forests and steppes; emotionally – in the heroic valor; and historically – in having created a monolithic state from the Baltics to the Pacific Ocean. Pechorins and Pierre Bezukhovs, Stavrogins and Ivan Karamazovs, characters of The “Enchanted Wanderer” and “Crime and Punishment” – grandsons of path-breakers and oprichniks (oppressors of the groups of people opposed to the king, t/n), monks and highwaymen, Cossack leaders and self-immolated dissenters; it was simply a matter of a different cultural age, hence a different magnitude.

This led to the cultural and transphysical broadening of personality – such a fact appears to be obvious, with no need for illustrations or commentaries.

As for the struggle of thought to comprehend the metahistorical experience, the best Russian minds of the nineteenth century were, essentially, given to that, and this is despite the fact that the notion of metahistory was yet to be formulated and even become conscious. In the contemplations of Belinsky upon the new Russian literature, doesn’t one feel attempts to read history as a system of ostensible tokens of some invisible spiritual process? Don’t masses of people and their leaders come to be manifestations and instruments of the otherworldly forces in Leo Tolstoy’s unparalleled historical epic (“War and Peace”, t/n)? As for Dostoevsky’s historical concepts, doesn’t one sense in them an unflaggingly glimmering otherworldly light that transforms historical perspectives into misplaced, overturned, uncanny, and fascinating perspectives of the metahistory? Would anybody deny the spiritual standpoint on the national past in the artwork of Surikov or popular dramas of Mussorgsky? – I limit myself to pinpointing only the nineteenth century’s celebrities; mentioning names of a lower stature would demand a separate chapter.

So, all five features of the aforementioned process in question have been made plain. It becomes clear to us that the process which had originated in the far-distant times of oprichnina – the process of experiencing both polarities of the transphysical world, of their perception and comprehension stage by stage – reached a climax in genius artistic generalizations and philosophical intuition by the twentieth century. I hardly need to explain the fact that the twentieth century’s events were to further deepen this process – to take to the extreme just as the inner disharmony, so the struggling concepts, so the emotional fervor of the polarized ideas. Thus was laid the groundwork for the phase of synthesis which was to be realized by the generations to follow.

In this sense, we cannot but feel our kinship with those who had burned themselves 250 years back – a feat almost unfathomable to us; nor with those who were creating an epic of the invisible town Kitezh in the decades to follow.

For the above reasons, the crystallization of this legend was precipitated precisely in Raskol. It is only natural that the epic allocates this town of the righteous on the shores of Svetloyar (a lake in Russia, t/n) to the remote trans-Volga woodland, which had been lit by hermitage lampions of saints since time immemorial. Its connection with the outside world is carried out through the town of Minor Kitezh being carried over onto the borders of steppes – a symbol of the historical church with its human weaknesses: that historical church the true essence of which is concealed from searching souls and muddied by the hazy, dense, and sensual egregor of Orthodoxy. Under a rapid and sweeping onslaught of the foreign enemy, the historical church perishes “without striking a blow and with a great disgrace”. It does not perish completely, of course: Maiden Fevronia, an embodiment of the Ideal Soul steeped with a poetry that can issue from Navna alone, enters Great Kitezh1 as a martyr. Great Kitezh is physically defenseless: a small warrior host of its heroes suffers martyrdom in the Battle at Kerzhents. And then, as a response to the people’s ardent prayer to the Great Intercessor, the town mysteriously submerges to the bottom of Lake Svetloyar into “the life eternal” – it passes over into another mode of existence.

(1) Here, I am trying to pinpoint the metahistorical significance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s musical mystery as the hitherto highest stage in the development of this fascinating epic.

In a transformed way, The Kitezh epic reflected the essence of Raskol as it was envisaged by its loftiest dreamers, contemplators, and “poets of the heart”. It did idealize the reality beyond recognition. Yet, thereby it produced an incomparably deeper, lasting, and universal image than the very historical phenomenon of Raskol: the mystery of the people, culture, or an individual soul, which inviolable inner sanctuary, protected by the hierarchies of Light, remains unapproachable to any, even the most powerful enemy, for it withdraws into the mysterious spiritual depth from any invasion, from any malign encroachment.

to the next part: 8.3. Bridging the Gaps Among Cultures
to the previous part: 8.1. Succession of Witzraors
to the beginning: «The Rose of the World». Table of contents
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