Transmutation and Homogenization of Consciousness in Italian Esotericism during the Fascist Period

Mario Manlio Rossi’s Spaccio dei Maghi and Julius Evola’s Maschera e Volto dello Spiritualismo Contemporaneo

Roberto Bacci

During the 1920s and 1930s the idea of transmutation, so essential to esotericism, was at the core of the Fascist agenda in Italy. Sharing with esotericism a repertoire of myths, symbols and rituals, Fascism aimed to create a new kind of man pushing the individuals to fuse into one radically transformed common consciousness. In order to create the new Italian man, to form and fashion the masses into a homogeneous and compliant collectivity, Fascism disqualified individualistic tendencies: subjects had to integrate into collectivity and only thus attain consciousness of themselves as Italians and as Fascists. While these processes were taking place in society, Italian esotericists continued to elaborate the theme of the transmutation of consciousness. Two books published in Italy in those years significantly warned against the risks that such a transmutation could entail: Mario Manlio Rossi’s Spaccio dei maghi (1929) and Julius Evola’s Maschera e volto dello spiritualismo contemporaneo (1932). Both these works were harsh critiques of esotericism written by esotericists, as they reviewed the main schools and personalities of the contemporary occult scene with the purpose of demolishing most of them. Starting from very different premises, both Rossi and Evola expressed a deep concern about the self-determination and distinctiveness of individual consciousness, and denounced the possibility that the ideal of the “new man,” shared by esotericism and Fascism, could lead to the flattening of the differences among otherwise unique human beings and to the erasure of individual specificity.

Rossi, Mario Manlio; Evola, Julius; transmutation; consciousness; fascism; homogenization