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What is Tradition?

R.D. White

Tradition is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (such as a religious practice or a social custom)”. The second definition give is “ the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction”. The handing down of information is key here, as Tradition is generational. What should be included in that list, besides information, beliefs, and customs, is Truth.

For Tradition to be important, we need to accept there is, in fact, absolute Truth. Truth which is fundamental in our universe, Truth which is the foundation of all being. Truth which exists beyond our belief in it or not, simply that which is. We then can see that this Truth is not hidden, but known, almost obvious, we are surrounded by in and live in it. This Truth exists as the root of everything, even if at times we blind ourselves to it. Knowledge of this Truth has always been passed down, within different cultural frameworks, from generation to generation. This is what we call Tradition.

Therefore Tradition is the awareness of Truth, of absolute reality, over time and across generations. It is the experience of Truth on a social and cultural level. Tradition is living Truth over generations.

Traditionalism seeks that which is true and stretches back into prehistory. Little in our modern age can truly be called traditional, as modernity has devoured most of what was always considered sacred in the past. Truth is hidden behind billboard advertisements promising happiness through material goods. Traditionalism seeks to return to the Truth behind the distractions and noise, and bring again the experience of the sacred to our lives.

Culture is the package that Tradition is handed down in. Cultures vary, naturally, however at the root of every culture is Tradition, the absolute Truth which will be the same in substance, if not in form, no matter what culture is expressing it.

Change is inevitable. Tradition is not opposed to change, but rather just insists that change not deviate from Truth. Changing small cultural traits is fine, and to be expected, so long as the result continues to reflect the deeper Tradition. We should resist radical departure from Tradition, so as that we do not lose our way and forget the Truth, as has happened to a great extent unfortunately in modernity. However the Truth can never truly vanish, and can always be recovered. Traditionalism is the cure for the modern world.

Real tradition is paganism.

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