the Duende and Romantic Love (from Upton’s Shadow of the Rose)

“Romantic love is much more, however, than the union of sexuality and affection, since this union itself requires a sublimation and refinement of soul. Nor is romantic love necessarily young love, nor adulterous love, nor love framed by war, nor even passionate love in the usual sense. Rather, it is that mode of love which is centered on the vision of the beloved, by which the alienation between the world of the single Principle and the world of its multiple manifestations is overcome. If love remains imprisoned in the world of the Principle alone, it becomes abstract; if it is identified with the world of outer manifestation alone, it becomes vulgar and dissipated. But when Principle and manifestation are brought into polar, tantric relationship, then love reaches the point of both its deepest passion and its greatest renunciation.

Federico Garcia Lorca
, in his essay ‘The Duende: Theory and Divertissement‘ ( from The Poet in New York, translated by Ben Belitt), speaks of this quality of passion as the dark, Divine power that inspires all truly Spanish poetry, music and dance, as well as the art of bullfighting; in line with Spanish folklore he names it the Duende, which is sometimes thought of as a kind of elf or household spirit. He writes:

In all Arabian music, in the dances, songs and elegies of Arabia, the coming of the Duende is greeted with fervent cries of Allah! Allah! God! God!, so close to the Ole! Ole! of our bull rings that who is to say that they are not actually the same; and in all the songs of southern Spain the appearance of the Duende is followed by heartfelt expressions of God alive! – profound, human, tender, the cry of communion with God through the medium of the five senses…
…the Duende will not approach at all if he does not see the possibility of violent death, if he is not convinced he will circle death’s house..

Duende, in Spanish, is short for duen de la casa, ‘Lord of the House’, which is, in Islam, specifically a title of Allah, as in the Sufi saying attributed to Rabi’a al-Adawiyya, ‘first the Lord, then the House’. The House is precisely the Kaaba, draped in black, perpetually circled by pilgrims, dressed in their white funeral shrouds. And so Lorca, eight-hundred years of Muslim Spain still in his blood, reveals to us the essence of Romantic passion as a true name of God, whose human reverberation is Ishk – a word that literally denotes the way a vine will hug and wrap itself around a tree, sometimes killing it. It is God’s beauty opening, like a wound, to reveal God’s majesty; it is God’s Wrath opening, like a rose, to reveal God’s Mercy, which eternally rules it.

To have a vision of one’s human beloved, in either physical presence or absence, is to know him or her as imaginal as well as psychical or psychological; it is to see that one as a living symbol as well as an individual, and to know that one’s human individuality as a direct emanation from that symbol, which in a mysterious way is both more transcendental and more personal than the psycho-social personality. It is to know that one, somehow, as the very image of one’s soul, will still granting him his own inviolable uniqueness and solitude…”
Shadow of the Rose: The Esoterism of the Romantic Tradition: in the Chapter Love in the Kali-Yuga, pp. 66-68, by Jennifer and Charles Upton

4 Comment

  1. Sophia Perennis are doing tremendously publishing new Traditionalist work.

    I still cringe slightly though with the casual use of ‘tantric’ as an adjective designating something involving polarity used for spiritual purposes – the category of ‘tantra’ is too problematic for such glib use, and the Sanskrit meanings of ‘tantra’ are nothing like this.

  2. I cringe too, actually. But I couldn’t edit the word out of the quote 🙂

    I think that with the new age crowd any notion of spirituality in love and sexuality is somehow “tantric” in a messy amorphous sense. I think that Upton’s choosing that word was perhaps an attempt to better communicate what he was trying to say to people coming from that mentality. I’m simply guessing the author’s intention.

    That said the basic gist of the quote is striking.

    I am impressed with what Sophia Perennis has been putting out lately. There certainly is a need for a venue allowing the voices of more recent Traditionalist authors to be heard.

  3. It is striking, I agree! Quite neo-platonic with the idea that manifestation might at times have a transparency permitting apprehension of the intelligible world.

  4. On the side,
    I recently checked Sophia Perennis and noticed there are a few very interesting works coming out.

    Also this tickles me pink, but Charles Upton saw fit to publish a discourse between him and I in his Findings In Metaphysic, Path, and Lore. The book looks pretty good and is very thought provoking. It should hit Amazon shortly.

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