In his book Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power, René Guénon writes:
Almong almost all peoples and throughout diverse epochs – and with mounting frequency as we approach our times – the wielders of temporal power have tried [...] to free themselves from all superior authority, claiming to hold their power from themselves alone
This revolt, writes René Guénon, is manifested by an inability to know all the implications of pure transcendence, a knowledge specific to the spiritual authority; it marks the birth of particular naturalistic tendencies to varying degrees, by the inability to recognize superior principles to the natural laws of manifestation. This gives rise to a deviated doctrine and an attitude "- condemnable though it may be as regards the truth – not altogether devoid of a certain grandeur" and...
[which] could be characterized quite exactly by the designation 'Luciferianism', which must not be confused with 'Satanism', although there is doubtless a certain connection between the two: 'Luciferianism' is the refusal to recognize a superior authority whereas 'Satanism' is the reversal of normal relationships and of the hierarchical order, the latter being often a consequence of the former, just as after his fall Lucifer became Satan.
In his book The reign of quantity and the signs of the times, as well as in some other articles, René Guénon describes in what sense one can identify a source to the influences of dissolution that must be exercised to the maximum in the human realm before the onset of a new cycle. This source, which he describes as "the most redoutable of all the possibilities" included in the cyclic manifestation, is related to the Koranic nomenclature of awliyâ esh-Shaytân (literally "Satan's saints"); it refers to the existence of a counter-hierarchy "apparently opposite" to the true spiritual hierarchy (called "awliyâ er-Rahman"). Guénon introduces the term 'counter-initiation' to describe it:
'counter-initiation' [...] cannot be regarded as a purely human invention, such as would be in no way distinguishable by its nature from plain 'pseudo-initiation'; in fact it is much more than that, and, in order that it may really be so, it must in a certain sense, so far as its actual origin is concerned, proceed from the unique source to which all initiation is attached, the very source from which, speaking more generally, anything in our world that manifests a 'non-human' element proceeds; but the 'counter-initiation' proceeds from that source by a degeneration carried to its extreme limits, and that limit is represented by the 'inversion' that constitutes 'satanism' properly so-called.
Guénon distinguishes two phases in the action of 'counter-initiation', the first being purely negative and devoted to the destruction of everything authentically traditional in the human realm, a phase that culminated in the kind of materialism that could be called 'integral'. But that latter phase is only a preparatory one, destined to be followed toward the setting up of something that can more appropriately be called a 'counter-tradition', which is yet to come before the end of the Kali-Yuga. These two phases are contemplated by Guénon using the symbolism of solve & coagula taken from alchemy. In the 'counter-tradition', the role to be played by the 'counter-initiation' is referred to by Guénon in the following terms: "after having worked in the shadows to inspire and direct invisibly all modern movements, it will in the end contrive to 'exteriorize', if that is the right word, something that will be as it were the counterpart of a true tradition, at least as completely and as exactly as it can be so within the limitations necessarily inherent in all possible counterfeits as such".
About "false spirituality", the term refers also to beings involved in the 'counter-initiation' and engaged in 'inverted realization' and who lose themselves in a way that can only end, in the extreme cases, at last in the total 'disintegration' of the conscious being and in its final dissolution, "thus realizing the inverse of the effacement of the 'ego' before the 'Self', or, in others words, realizing confusion in 'chaos' as against fusion in principal Unity". A finality so conclusive represents only an exceptional case, which is that of awliyâ esh-Shaytân, but the goal of 'counter-tradition' will be to divert as many as possible from true spiritual path. 'Neo-spiritualism' and the 'pseudo-initiation' proceeding from it were only, writes Guénon, "a partial 'prefiguration' of the 'counter-tradition'", notably in their utilization of elements authentically traditional in their origin, "perverted from their true meaning". But this perversion "is only a move in the direction of the complete reversal that must characterize the 'counter-tradition'".
This "false spirituality" should be expressed, according to René Guénon, even in the social field through the establishment of a "counter-order" opposed to the traditional notion of Sanctum Regnum (whose motto is Ordo ab Chao), and run at unprecedented scale in human history according to traditional data. When such a counter-order will be about to appear, Guénon writes that modern social concepts for human organization inherited from the first phase of the antitraditional action such as "egalitarism" and other similar ideals will be abandoned in favor of the setting up of a "counter-elite" and the reintroduction of "counter-values" which will form the social basis for the 'counter-tradition'. Symbolism itself will be subverted by the counter-initiation through subversion of inherent double meanings of its constitutive elements, according to a complex notion exposited in chapter 30 of The reign of quantity and the sign of times. He identified, in some undercurrents manifested from the seventeenth century and continued throughout nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the premises of this final phase of dissolution.
The reign of the 'counter-tradition', writes Guénon, is identical to the traditional notion designated by the 'reign of the Antichrist', whichever way this latter symbol is understood, either as an individual or a collectivity. In a certain sense it could be both, as there will be a collectivity that will appear as the 'exteriorization' of the 'counter-initiatic' organization itself when it finally appears in the light of day, "and there must also be a person who will be at the head of the collectivity, and as such be the most complete expression and even the very 'incarnation' of what it will represent, if only in the capacity of 'support' to all the malefic influences that he will first concentrate in himself and then project onto the world".
Guénon precises that he can therefore be regarded as the chief of the awliyâ esh-Shaytân, it can be said that he will be as it were their "seal" (khâtem), according to the terminology of Islamic esoterism. He will be an 'imposter' (this is the meaning of the word dajjal by which he is designated in Arabic), since his reign will be the 'great parody' in its complete form, the 'satanic' imitation and caricature of everything that is truly traditional. The Antichrist can adopt the very symbols of the Messiah, "using them of course in an inverted sense". In the same way, "there can be and must be a strange resemblance between the designations of the Messiah (El-Mesîha in Arabic) and of the Antichrist (El-Mesîkh)". Here, writes Guénon, there is an untranslatable double meaning: Mesîkh can be taken as a deformation of Mesîha, by the mere addition of a dot to the final letter; but at the same time the first word means 'deformed', which correctly expresses the character of the Antichrist.