The Esoterism of Shakespeare’s Macbeth

The King – Pontiff

Regarding Duncan as the rightful king according to his upward tendency, “every traditional civilization is characterized by the presence of beings who, by virtue of their innate or acquired superiority over human condition, embody within temporal order the living and efficacious presence of a power that comes from above. One of these types of beings is the pontifex.”1 The word literally means “builder of bridges,” but symbolically this important function “is that which fulfills the function of mediator, establishing communication between this world and the higher worlds.”2 He is both a bridge-builder and bridge himself and the pontifex is traditionally identical with the king and can therefore be called: King-Pontiff. This concept of priest-king signifies at once both a sacerdotal and a royal power. “The one who represent him and fulfills his function must be, at least in principle, a ‘transcendent man’, that is, have realized the final goal of the ‘greater mysteries.'”3 One can only be king-pontiff “if he possesses the ‘mandate of heaven.’4
Macbeth, in symbolizing a warrior-king, does obviously not have the ‘mandate of heaven.’ His innate nature does not contain an upward striving tendency, but a downward, inferior tendency, which makes him unfit for such an elevated position. The term enthroned is often synonymous with “initiate.”5 The initiate is traveling from the lesser mystery to the domain of the greater mystery.

Macbeth kills not only the rightful king, but a sacred king, to whom in tradition is referred to as a priest-king. This is his dilemma and the cause of his downfall as a ruler.
Macbeth as a warrior-king cannot be regarded as a “real” king in its esoteric meaning and is thus upsetting the whole natural hierarchy; taking what is not given to him by fate or destiny and a position which he is in no way qualified to hold because of his corrupt inner nature. Being a bridge between heaven and earth signifies ruling according to the Divine Law and such a leader cannot be impure otherwise the Divine could not be “passed down” vertically.
The main conflict inside Macbeth is that he unconsciously knows that he is not worthy of this task, his actions are opposing the natural order. The impurities in his soul i.e. his ego, are stronger and his comparison of Duncan’s virtues to “angels, trumpet-togued” implies a fear of judgement in the life to come…”6

In this context, Macbeth himself represents the modern era or the modern man, Duncan therefore represents the era of tradition or the traditional man. “…The manliness Lady Macbeth requires of her husband is not bravery, but insensibility; not nobility, but imperiousness to conscience; not to be more than a man, but less than a man.”7

Another point which we must make is that even though Macbeth and the leaders of today may seem to have much in common a fundamental difference has to be explained, in order to further support our case. The exoteric manifestation of the natural hierarchy according to the three gunas, as explained earlier, has changed through history and has become almost inverted or turned up-side-down. Those who are at the bottom of the natural hierarchy are today at the top of the exterior one, sitting on the thrones as false kings. “Today there are millions of such thrones (positions) everywhere. We have artificial organizations in all areas of life today: politics, military, religious organizations, the corporate world, academia and criminal organizations.”8

The most important reason concerning Macbeth’s “purgatorial” sufferings is the struggle between the noble and the impure traits in his soul. This seems to be the key to the differences between him and the leaders of our current time, since someone like for instance Lenin or Ceausescu doesn’t seem to have anything resembling nobility in the highest sense. These figures don’t display any ambivalence, no sense of right or wrong, no notion of what is good or bad in the esoteric meaning of this concept, since remorse, fear or any such feeling would suggest traces of higher ideals, even though in an impure state.
It is said in the Qur’ān that “fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom” and this fear would be an indication that their is still something noble in a soul.
The usurpation of the throne in this context must be regarded as “a directly sensed experience of error, enough in itself to produce a profound ‘alchemical’ effect upon the soul,”9 i.e. on a noble soul.
The leaders of today are displaying sub-human traits, where no higher knowledge can be found whatsoever. The sense of right and wrong is inverted and they are not even aware of it. The difference is perhaps subtle, but nevertheless, the consequences has been enormous.

The Outlook of Modern Art

Concerning the modern outlook of politics today all leaders are of the same inferior material and they are puppets acting according to an agenda, which someone else higher up in the hierarchy is dictating, a sort of hidden ruling power.
This is the concept that Radok is adapting the opera to and in so doing, he has destroyed the work of art.
The forces of world-subversion, for instance Communism, was deliberately propagating modern art. These forces wanted to pervert traditional art, religion and culture etc. in order to pervert the very soul and spirit of the people, since cultural expressions always are the expression of a people’s soul and spirit. A people deprived of their soul and spirit has no identity and a people without identity is a people easy to control and rule over.
For the record, it must be added though that the acceptance of a perverted idea or corrupt ideal is always voluntarily in the deepest sense; nobody is forcing anybody to accept such a notion in one’s heart. Having said that, it is very ironic that Mr. Radok in his eagerness to display the degenerated, corrupt, and violent nature of modern world leaders is destroying one of the best plays known to man.
It must be pointed out that Radok seems to have a most superficial sensibility for the higher reality of the material in this case.
It is with a sad heart I say that the outlook of modern art has been dictated by such operators Radok opposes – by judging from his interpretation of Verdi’s Macbeth – and unfortunately, he is unconsciously promoting this agenda.
Another problem with modern productions of classic plays or operas is that directors seem to want to use the framework of the audience; the references which they possess, which are mainly from media or history books with fabricated facts, corrupt ideals and notions etc. Being up-to-date in reality means to be an instrument of world subversion. These directors are unaware of the fact that they are being part of this promotion of world subversion, because they are displaying the same outlook in their work that they have been feed and taught. Perhaps this is the reason why the inner core of such a play as Macbeth simply is not understood by modern directors. The directors who have success, and have well-known names and faces should ask themselves what the reason to their success really is.


The Sacred Art of Shakespeare, Martin Lings.
Symbol & Archetype, Martin Lings.
Shakespeare the Professional, Kenneth Muir.
The Convivio, Dante Alighieri.
The Republic, Plato.
Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines, René Guénon.
Man and his Becoming According to the Vedanta, René Guénon
The King of the World, René Guénon.
The Great Triad, René Guénon.
Revolt Against the Modern World, Julius Evola.
Men Among the Ruins, Julius Evola.
Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power, Evola as he is, Julius Evola.
Solum Ipsum, Metaphysical Aphorisms, András László.
The Relation between Religion and Art, Artifex 2, Arthur Osborne.
War Protocols, Karlo Z. Valois.

  1. Revolt Against the Modern World, Julius Evola. []
  2. The King of the World, René Guénon. []
  3. The Great Triad, René Guénon. []
  4. Ibid. []
  5. Revolt Against the Modern World, Julius Evola. []
  6. Shakespeare the Professional, Kenneth Muir. []
  7. Ibid. []
  8. War Protocols, Karlo Z. Valois []
  9. Symbol & Archetype, Martin Lings []
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