Friday, June 22, 2007

Pagan Regeneration


REVIEW: ON BEING A PAGAN. Alain de Benoist (Ultra, Atlanta, 2004)

My initial impression of reading Alain de Benoist is of being pleasantly accosted by the archetypal French philosopher and being taken to a Paris café where the author engages in vibrant, passionate argument across a table stacked with bottles of red wine while gesticulating with a Gitane. By the end of the first few chapters this impression of frivolity has dissipated as the force of de Benoist's argument takes over. His style is vivid, knowledgeable and playful – but the ideas he plays with are profound and soon the idea and the power of his position take dominance. The chatty French voice is overwhelmed by the strength and depth of his arguments and insights.

In the bulk of the book, de Benoist compares and contrasts Europe's original Aryan spirituality with the later infestation of Semitic monotheism from the Middle East. Here is a polemic for anyone who desires to understand how truly corrosive Semitic monotheism has been in Europe, not just on homosexuality and sexuality generally, but more profoundly and shockingly on the deepest strata of Aryan (here called Indo-European, presumably out of politeness) psyche and culture. Jews/ Christians/ Muslims are shown as introducing an alien antithesis to the core beliefs of our culture. Whatever the prevailing Aryan cultural values of any particular time, you can be sure that the Semitic monotheists believed the opposite.

Towards the end of the book, de Benoist embarks on a description and history of non-dualist mystical philosophy in Europe. Non-dualism is a tricky subject: it is the one mode of thought that forever slips from the grasp of expression (like trying to explain the 4-dimensional space-time continuum, or quantum mechanics). When I worked at Watkins esoteric bookshop off Charing Cross Road, we had a whole floor dedicated to non-dualist/ advaita literature. So much to say so little! Alain de Benoist’s last few chapters are no different, yet he makes a better bash of it than most, and importantly puts the subject into a European cultural context.

Once again in a recent book review, I feel compelled to say a word about what I consider to be a mis-matched front cover, that reminds me more than anything of the rather lurid covers favoured by American publishers Llewellyn to adorn their pagan book titles ten years ago. Some people may enjoy the artwork of Madeline von Foerster, with its graphic depiction of Odin flanked by his totem animal symbols of wolf and raven, lifting in his one hand a drinking horn and in the other gesturing the reader to accept the offering of an eye of wisdom. I would prefer a cover inspired by 1930s political poster art, or a science-fiction-style spacescape depicting Imperial battleships patrolling a hazardous solar system at the further reaches of our galaxy, bringing order to chaos. Both alternatives would be just as fitting.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

GAPS IN GERMANY'S NEW RIGHT


REVIEW: GERMANY'S NEW RIGHT AS CULTURE AND POLITICS. Roger Woods (Palgrave, Basingstoke 2007)

In this clear and workmanlike report and assessment of the New Right in Germany, Roger Woods first of all examines the cultural background, then goes on to explore the problematic Conservative Revolutionary and National Socialist legacy, New Right values and programmes, before reaching a somewhat downbeat conclusion. “The New Right project of providing itself with a cultural dimension as a solid foundation for new political thinking has not gone according to plan” says Woods, early-on.

Woods outlines three phases of New Right development in Germany since 1968; firstly as a meta-political movement taking its lead from the French New Right interpretation of Gramsci and culture combined with 1970s ideology, then the period 1982-1989 when the New Right served as a right wing corrective to right wing German Federal and Land governments and also in the historians dispute, and finally from 1989, after the collapse of socialism, when issues of national identity came to the fore.

The most interesting parts of the book deal with the ambiguous inheritance of Conservative Revolutionary thinkers of the Weimar Republic and the background of cultural pessimism. Woods emphasizes the uncertainty many German New Right thinkers betray despite promoting traditional values such as the Church, Family, Nation/ State. The cultural pessimist insight is that all these ideas have been tried, and failed, and that modernity in all its aspects is irreversible. With the current ecological crisis of climate change and industrial pollution, as Botho Strauss points out, not even nature can be relied upon. The quest for institutions that can embody transcendental values is abandoned. It is this feeling of resignation that allows German New Right thinkers like Martin Schwarz to contemplate compromise with Islam: “In a speech to the right wing organization Synergon Deutschland Martin Schwarz declares that if Europeans were to adopt the principles of Islam their nations would flourish”. “We live in a time of chaos and disintegration. If we wish to survive we must not convince ourselves that our main aim is to confront those people who are being uprooted and tossed around as the old order disintegrates...There is no Islamic conspiracy to bring down the West!” - Martin Schwarz.

Opposed to this defeatism are a minority including Pierre Krebs of Thule Seminar: “In the land of Nietzsche and Wagner, Bach and Kant, Clausewitz and Thomas Münzer a single word could fan the red glow of history back to life, smash to pieces half a century of dictatorial 'reeducation' that thought it could displace this word from the mind of a whole people without encountering any resistance”.

From an English perspective, this cultural pessimism may seem a result of over-intellectualizing and the particular, awkward memory for Germans of the NSDAP. If, as it is commonly held, Europe is a Symphony of Nations, then we have already heard the majesty of Mussolini and the sombre, expressionist tones of German National Socialism; yet England, the Celtic lands, Scandinavia, central Europe and Russia have so far remained silent. Let Russia sing and England and France take up the reprise! (Britain's particular excuse for European dis-engagement has been its global empire, its invention of the modern world, and currently its maintenance through force, financial power and flim-flam of that same decaying world).

Unfortunately, there is a significant oversight of which this book is guilty. I would argue that the major fault with the German New Right, and Woods account of it, is a lack of awareness of our true, shared pre-Christian Aryan heritage. As for Christianity, there seems little point in falling back on the tradition of a religion if that religion is wrong; and not only wrong, but destructive. German religious traditionalists are still mainly Christian, thereby continuing the Semitic monotheist intrusion into Aryan spirituality. How can Germans “return” to a faith that caused them so much physical and mental harm, from encouraging Charlemagne to slaughter thousands of pagan Saxons in order to force conversion, or that wasted Germany for generations after the carnage of the Thirty Years War?

Neither Roger Woods nor the examples he cites have much time for the insights of European paganism and the apparent pre-Christian Aryan ideology uncovered by Indo-Europeanists like Georges Dumezil and Alby Stone. European pagan metaphysics in conjunction with the ideas of Western philosophers such as Nietzsche and Heidegger and the political outlook of Evola and Yockey can provide meaning, to resist the onslaught of nihilist modernism and the doubts and uncertainties expressed by New Right thinkers in Germany. This is where the German New Right, and the New Right across Europe, will find the “fixed points”, the traditions, the models for a functioning society, and the new elan – the new spirit of adventure, hope, and destiny – for which the German New Right, and many Europeans more generally, have been searching.

This new spirit must originate from and embody the European Faustean sensibility; it must embrace synthesis, science and technology: “The fascist is obsessed with an ideal of Modernity and youth: he wants to create a new man, a lover of sport and autosport, living in a new city which has been given new life by futuristic architecture. He is an admirer of Le Cobusier, Marinetti, Gropius. He loves motors, mechanical engineering and speed.” - Zeev Sternhell, quoted on p68.


I have just two caveats for a book that is otherwise fair as far as it goes:
- for a book published in mid-2007, the references don't extend beyond Summer 2004 at the latest, as far as I can see. I don't blame the author for this; publication schedules are often delayed.
- secondly, the front cover appears to be a (totally uncredited) photograph of the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. According to the text within, “For the New Right, however, the Holocaust memorial is 'the last testament of the generation of 68'. Before they retire they want to deal Germany a blow which will shake it to its core. Junge Freiheit quotes Rudolf Augustein's view that the memorial is aimed against the newly emerging Germany in Berlin and the sovereignty that Germany had taken so long to restore”. To choose this particular image to illustrate the cover of a book on Germany's New Right is singularly inappropriate, almost a calculated insult directed at the book's readers.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Decline and Fall

There were at least four major reasons why Christianity superseded paganism towards the end of the Roman Empire (and countless minor reasons, such are the contingencies of fate):

a. Demographic changes within the Roman Empire. It’s well known that Christianity deliberately set out to appeal to Rome’s multi-cultural lumpenproletariat and slave underclasses, groups that were growing all the time, in opposition to the original Roman Citizens who were the culture-bearers of Hellenic civilization. “What made the oracle at Delphi mute was not the eventual discovery of some sort of trick, but the disappearance of the Greeks.” – Jean-Luc Marion.

b. Political expediency. As the office of Emperor was transformed increasingly into a bejewelled despotic Eastern Potentate (think Xerxes in 300), Constantine realized that a formal link to strict, unified monotheism was to the advantage to him and his dynastic successors.

c. Changes within paganism itself. Paganism was moving toward a more explicitly non-dualist philosophy. Belief in the gods of Olympus was evolving into a religion not dissimilar in outlook to today’s dharmic eastern Aryan religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism etc.. This had two direct consequences: it made pagans even more tolerant (contrary to subsequent Christian propaganda about “persecutions”) and also meant that paganism itself became more difficult to grasp for many ordinary folk, compared to the black-and-white certainties presented by Christianity.

d. Christianity also was being modified by exposure to the European mind-set, most dramatically by replacing the strict monotheism of early Jewish Jerusalem-Christianity with such pagan notions as the Trinity (Trimurti in Hinduism/ Odin-Vili-Ve in Germanic mythology), saints and holidays. Erich Fromm has described the conversion of Europe to Christianity as “largely a sham”, a view shared by Oswald Spengler amongst many others. “European peasants could only eventually find communion with Christian theology by transforming Christ into a bearded god who lived and worked like them” – Mircea Eliade.

I strongly disagree that the paganism of the late Empire lacked depth; as I stated above, it’s partly because of its subtle complexity that it went into decline, at least amongst the uneducated classes (although Hindu peasants today seem to have no problem with the implications of advaita).

Any notion of a serious revival of the original Olympian religion today is ridiculous. Modern “Faustean” paganism needs to develop from the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger and even such Christian mystics as Meister Eckhart and Paracelsus.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Greek Philosophy and Particle Accelerators

Heraclitus and Non-Dualism

The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus has been heroized by many since his death, most recently by European Identitarians and the European New Right.

Heraclitus famously postulated that all things in the Universe are made of One Thing: Fire. In a sense, he is right, if by Fire you mean energy; if Fire is interpreted as energy. Energy and mass are interchangeable, as triumphantly demonstrated by nuclear physics. They are in the final analysis One Thing. Eastern Aryan philosophy (the Dharmic religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism) had already postulated the idea of the One Thing: consciousness. In effect, they were saying that consciousness is energy; the One Thing that in the cosmos of Heraclitus everything is made from: Fire. We don’t yet know (due to the lack so far of the remaining fragments of recorded writings) whether Heraclitus himself was explicitly non-dualist.

“This world was created not by God or men,” wrote Heraclitus “but it existed, exists and will exist forever like an eternal living flame…” ON BEING A PAGAN, Alain de Benoist p143.

Man, by being conscious, and also self-reflective, partakes of the divine. He is as much that One Thing as everything else. “the gods are immortal men, whereas men are mortal gods; our life is their death and our death is their life” – Heraclitus. “That is not dead which can eternal lie. And with strange aeons even death may die.” – horror-fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft.

One of the aims of Aryan Futurism is to demonstrate and prove, by experimentation with matter (in accordance with our Aryan Faustean/ Promethean spirit), that consciousness and energy are the same thing, in the words of Heraclitus: Fire.

What happens to consciousness during FTL (faster than light travel)? The Greeks and Shakespeare believed that nothing is swifter than thought.

Enlightenment? Drugs help, and hallucinogens are sacred in all Aryan religions. Everything is on fire and everything is burning with consciousness. We are burning the time barrier, burning space and burning consciousness, simply by existing.

If I have succeeded in establishing a connection between Heraclitus and advaita Hindu and other non-dualist philosophies, then that is an accomplishment I hoped to do: a synthesis of eastern Aryan and western Aryan philosophy.

NB: Fascism has always claimed to be the ultimate synthesis – the final resolution. Fascistic Thought is always at the vanguard of seeking resolutions to the most contemporary dilemmas: left versus right, poor versus rich, environment versus big business, thallasocracy versus continental empire, globalized consumer capitalism versus European Identitarianism and nationalism, the individual versus the collective. Liberal, multicultural “gay” versus the Aryan homosexual.

For that reason, we European Fascists (defined in the sense of the true inheritors of the Hegelian dialectic) are always at the forefront of any dilemma, seeking resolution. We are surfers at the crest of the wave. So Fascism is best thought of as a process; a process whereby conflicting polarities are resolved.

Of course there are differences between historical Fascism and Aryan Futurism, not least the latter’s belief in pan-Europeanism and the pagan Aryan Imperium with a stronger emphasis on technology and expansion into outer space, and our Olympian destiny.

Of course I believe in the Gods because I created them and they created me. In Europe, European Identitarians and continental New Rightists have examined our current dilemmas with surgical precision.

You know I’m right.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Play of Aryan Archetypes in Space 1999

Although Aryan themes abound in science fiction comics, books, TV and films, I will concentrate on those that run like a thread through the 1970s British TV series Space 1999.

Gerry Anderson's mid-70s live-action series starts with the Moon being blasted out of Earth's orbit after the catastrophic explosion of a lunar nuclear waste dump, and the rest of the series follows the adventures of the Alphans – inhabitants of Earth's only lunar colony, Moonbase Alpha – as they hurtle through the cosmos at unlikely speed. The initial premise of the Moon leaving Earth's orbit is an interesting reversal of Hans Hörbiger's Welteislehre: the scientific theory, popular in 1930s Germany, which proposed a succession of ice-formed moons sequentially crashing to Earth. The popularity of this theory can be explained in part by its similarity to ancient Germanic mythological concepts of the creation of the cosmos from the dynamic interaction between fire and ice, and therefore appealed directly to northern European race-consciousness.

Anderson's Space 1999 lasted for just two series, with the first judged generally far better - and more metaphysical – than the second. The latter series suffered the misfortune of being produced by Fred Freiberger, who had previously ruined the third series of Star Trek. All episodes mentioned below (Episode 3. Black Sun; Episode 14. Death's Other Dominion; Episode 16. End of Eternity; Episode 22. Mission of the Darians; Episode 24. The Testament of Arkadia) are from the first series.

In addition to these specific episodes, Space 1999 retained an identifiably British occult sensibility in other episodes by starring Hammer Horror stalwarts Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, and with stories by Irish author Johnny Byrne, who has expressed his interest in Celtic mythology.

Black Sun

The most interesting feature of this early episode is the title itself, which has a long history in Aryan esotericism. Already by 1974, when this episode was shot, the commonly accepted designation for the interstellar gravity-pit that captures the Moon and its crew of Alphans was a “black hole”. The Alphans avoid their expected disintegration and annihilation on encountering this particular Black Sun, and instead undergo an enlightening mystical experience.

Death's Other Dominion

As the Moon drifts past the ice-blue planet of Ultima Thule, Commander Koenig decides to send an expedition to the surface. On landing the Alphans almost perish in a frozen wasteland, until rescued by a typically bombastic Brian Blessed. Blessed's band of rugged Thulians (formerly earthmen and women) have discovered the secret of immortality. Blessed offers the Alphans everlasting life in his “We shall be as gods of the universe...” speech, but the Alphans conclude that the price demanded is too high. In a previous scene they have been tipped off to the lurking danger by the trickster archetype in the form of a transposed medieval court jester. The episode was directed by veteran British director Charles Crichton, who was also responsible for editing H.G. Wells' 1936 classic Things to Come and directing a few of the post-war Ealing comedies. Ultima Thule in European mythology is the sacred land at or near the North Pole and an original Aryan homeland. Blessed's immortal followers, although they have access to the highest technologies, still dress in fur-skins.

End of Eternity

In this episode the Alphans rescue the oversized alien prisoner Balor from a sealed cave hidden deep within a passing comet. The inside of cave is painted with the grotesque scenes of horror and destruction that Balor had unleashed on his home-planet, a fate that awaits the Alphans should they be unable to return Balor to his entombment. Apart from the obvious reference to Balor of the Evil Eye from Irish mythology (the story was written by Johnny Byrne), the character can also be seen as a reference to other bound-giants of Aryan mythology, notably Prometheus and Loki. Like the culture-heroes Loki and Prometheus, the alien prisoner is portrayed as a catalyst to dramatic evolutionary change, and is punished for his efforts.

Mission of the Darians

The Darians (named from the Ancient Greek tribe of Dorians, and perhaps more remotely from the divine Celtic tribe of Tuatha Dé Danann) inhabit a generational galactic starship which had suffered a nuclear disaster some 900 years before the arrival of the Alphans. Led by the regal Joan Collins (who memorably guest-starred in such Sixties TV science fiction classics as Batman opposite Adam West and Star Trek: City on the Edge of Forever) the chiton-clad Darians' ignoble mission is to survive as best they can by harvesting the organs and otherwise exploiting the less fortunate members of the crew who were previously abandoned in the contaminated regions of the vast ship. This is a basic re-telling of the modern European Industrial myth of the bifurcation of society into haves and have-nots; first posited as science fiction by H.G. Wells in The Time Machine (Morlocks and Eloi) and first filmed by Fritz Lang in Metropolis. The story was again written by Johnny Byrne, who also wrote the final episode of the first series, The Testament of Arkadia.

The Testament of Arkadia

This, the final episode of the first series, is the most explicit and influential of all the mythologically-driven plots; drawing on contemporary “ancient astronaut” von Däniken theories of the first impulse to civilization and older, Theosophical notions of the origins of mankind.

The lead character, Luke, played by Italian actor Orso Maria Guerrini, resembles Freddie Mercury during his 80s clone incarnation, complete with convincing clone moustache. It was no accident that he was chosen for his Indo-Iranian/ Persian good looks (“Testament Of Arcadia still generated a spiritual frisson when I last saw it - though at that time money was tight and we were lumbered with Italian leading men who could hardly speak a word of English.” - Johnny Byrne).

The Alphans use their Eagle spaceships to land on the apparently-dead world of Arkadia, which at first sight resembles a desolate WWI battlescape. Luke (from the Proto-Indo-European root word light: *leuk) stumbles into a skeleton-strewn cave and discovers a tablet with writing engraved into the wall. That this significant discovery is made in a cave is also no accident: the supreme act of the apotheosis of the Persian god Mithras, the sacred taurobolium – slaying of the bull – is performed in a cave. “The cave in which the 'bull' seeks refuge at the end of its run, corresponds to the alchemical 'cave of mercury' which is often associated with the subtle centre of the body located at the base of the spine, which the Hindu call muladhara; the Hindus relate it to the tattva [roughly: Truth] of the earth.” The Path of Enlightenment in the Mithraic Mysteries – Julius Evola

The engraved writing is in Sanskrit, and tells of how all life came to an end on the planet 25,000 years previously in “the light of a thousand suns” - an obvious reference to the quote from the Bhagavad Gita, famously recalled by J. Robert Oppenheimer on witnessing the Trinity first nuclear test explosion.

Luke and his female Alphan companion Anna read about how a few of the Arkadians managed to escape the catastrophe and establish their culture on a new planet – Earth. Luke and Anna come to understand, via some psychic Arkadian device, that their destiny is to bring life back to Arkadia, thus fulfilling a pre-ordained circuit in space and time. Their conversation is sprinkled with references to Providence - “when the lines of destiny meet” - and allusions to “going home”; realizations of the nature of fate which put them at odds with their “non-initiated” Alphan companions.

The name Arkadia/ Arcadia itself has huge resonance: named by the Pelasgians for the most favoured region in Ancient Greece and referenced in the Poussin painting that helped kick-off the whole Holy Blood, Holy Grail/ da Vinci Code phenomenon.

“The name 'Arcadia', written alternatively with 'k', is derived from the Sanskrit word arka respectively, the stem 'ar(k)', containing the mystical 'ra' symbolizing cyclic return. Its derivations prove to be a repository of Polar lore.
“The word arka means 'ray' or 'flash'. Both arka-tanaya or arka-nandana are translated 'Saturn'. Derived from arka, arcat means 'shining' and is one with the word catar or Cathar, explained previously. From arcat 'Arcadia' is derived. The Land of the Living is the Shining Realm or the Luminous Land of the Spirit-Light. The word arka-mandala has the meaning of 'disc of the sun', exoterically depicting the luminary in the solar system, esoterically applying to the Black Sun that shines above the Midnight Mountain.” Polaria: The Gift of the White Stone. W.H. Müller (Albuquerque, 1996).

http://www.space1999.net/catacombs/

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Valkyries and Brassy Barmaids

Our culture has always been one that values public discourse and a life lived openly. The typical Ancient Greek city state was studded with theatres, stadia, gymnasia and agoras where men spent their days mixing openly and publicly. The frequent religious festivals and games for both men and women encouraged further communal revelry.

Unsurprisingly this openness extended even to clothing and fashion, which was kept to a practical minimum. How different from the dense cumbersome coverings of the peoples further south and east!

CONTRAST WITH SEMITES

This vivacious conduct is in stark contrast to the closed, isolationist way of life practiced by the patriarchal, nuclear families of the ancient Middle East where strict religious law was paramount and where the dreary succession of domestic hovels was relieved only by cemeteries. Towns in the Holy Land had no stadia, amphitheatres or gymnasia, at least not until they were introduced into Judea by Antiochus Epiphanes and Herod during the eastern expansion of the Roman Empire.

“Wood is used along with this humble material [i.e. mud], but stone very rarely. Perhaps ancient Jewish towns and villages, in the same way, may have had more wood used in their construction than would be possible at present, when building-timber is practically unknown in the country; but neither wood nor mud bricks have elements of permanence. The 'tells,' or mounds, which mark the site of old Jewish communities, have, moreover, precisely the appearance of similar mounds now forming around, or, one might say, beneath, existing mud-brick villages in India and Egypt...The road runs nearly straight north, at the foot of the hills, which are frequently dotted with villages, almost undistinguishable from the soil around, because of the leaden colour of the mud huts.” Cunningham Geikie THE HOLY LAND AND THE BIBLE (1887).

It was this tedious pattern of urban living that was later used as a model for Calvin's Geneva and Cromwell's England.

ROME AND THE NORTH

The notion of shared space was by no means confined to the Greeks. Romans, with their Hellenic heritage and the addition of baths and forums, imposed their version of an open society across the rest of Europe. The northern tribes of Celts and Germans however were familiar with this outdoor lifestyle. They had already developed their own public assemblies (the Thing) and Tacitus describes their main entertainment, “They have only one kind of public show, which is performed without variation at every festive gathering. Naked youths, trained to the sport, dance about among swords and spears levelled at them. Practice begets skill, and skill grace; but they are not professionals and do not receive payment. Their most daring flings have their own reward in the pleasure they give the spectators.”

At Yeavering in Northumberland the Seventh Century royal complex included a grandstand, “enlarged once by the addition of further tiers at the back, which doubled its seating capacity. The nearest comparable structures are the stone theatres of the Roman world and it would seem to represent a small section of such a theatre constructed entirely in wood.” Martin Welch, ANGLO-SAXON ENGLAND (English Heritage 1992).

MEAD HALLS

Through the hall then went the Helmings' Lady,
to younger and older everywhere
carried the cup, till come the moment
when the ring-graced queen, the royal-hearted,
to Beowulf bore the beaker of mead.

- Beowulf

Naturally the cooler climate of northern Europe was not so conducive to this open lifestyle as that of the Mediterranean, but our ancestors managed to overcome these limitations with the development of the mead hall. Mead in the early Middle Ages was a very different drink from the innocuous concoction we are familiar with today. It was the “mead of inspiration”, mythologically rescued from the Giants by Odin, and mixed with such hallucinogenics as henbane, cannabis or magic mushrooms.

Mead halls were not just men-only affairs; myths, legends and the historical record testify to the presence of women in the halls. The halls were a single large building, often over 50m long, comprising of just one room, which had been developing in northern Europe since the late neolithic period.

VALKYRIES AND BRASSY BARMAIDS

The custom of having women serving the drinks was set by divine precedent as demonstrated in this description of Valhalla: “The valkyries lead the slain heroes (the Einherjar) to this hall, to Odin, and they serve them with meat from the boar Saehrimnir. Everyone has enough to eat from the boar, which renews itself constantly. The Einherjar drink mead with this meal which flows from the udders of the goat, Heidrun.” Rudolf Simek DICTIONARY OF NORTHERN MYTHOLOGY (1993).

On the mortal plane of Midgard, women were expected not just to serve the drinks, but also to join in the celebrations. “The earl [Arnvid] gave them a hearty welcome when they arrived and showed them into a hall where there was ale ready on the table. They were served with drink and sat there till evening. Before the tables were cleared, the earl said that seating arrangements must be decided by lot, and that each of the men should have a woman as drinking partner, as long as there were enough women. After that, the rest of the men were to drink on their own.” EGIL'S SAGA

The powerful and enduring archetype of the female hostess is reflected in the more mundane “ale-wives” who managed London taverns from the Thirteenth Century onward. Flick on any English TV soap opera today, and they still maintain their pride of place behind the bar of the Queen Vic and Rover's Return, though sadly without their gleaming armour.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Using Runes: Starting

Runes were the first comprehensive script used by the peoples of central and northern Europe. They are accessible to all who share this inheritance, and who approach the Runes with the right attitude.

The original 24-Rune Futhark was developed, probably from a combination of Etruscan, Greek, Italic and early Germanic symbols, around 250bce. In Norse mythology the god Odin is credited with the discovery of the Runes after being hanged on the World Tree for a period of 9 days. 'Futhark' has the same meaning as 'alphabet' and is constructed in a similar manner, using the initial sounds of the first 6 Runes. The Anglo-Saxons later added a further 9 Runes, while the Scandinavians eventually cut the number down to 16. At the beginning of the Twentieth Century a German called Guido von List invented an 18-rune Futhark known as the Armanen Futhark. It was this Armanen Futhark that was later appropriated by the Third Reich. Since it has no archaeological validity, it is beyond the scope of this essay. The 24-Rune 'Elder Furthark' is the earliest Futhark, was used for the longest time-period, and is considered the standard today.

The traditional tripartition of the 24 runes is: FEHU to WUNJO = first aett; HAGALAZ to SOWILO = second aett; TIWAZ to OTHALA = third aett. 'Aett' simply means 'group of eight' and each group is traditionally ruled over by different male and female cosmic forces, in accordance with George Dumezil's tri-functional hypothesis of Aryan mythology and culture.

It is always best to make your own Runes, rather than relying on commercially manufactured Runes. This is easy to do, whether on wood (as is traditional), stone, bone or metal.

Time

Sometimes the last two runes (DAGAZ and OTHALA) are swapped around, especially when the runes are used for measuring time, so that DAGAZ is the last rune - marking mid-day. If you want to use the runes as a clock, then the runes follow each other on the half-hour, starting with FEHU (12:30-13:30), then URUZ (13:30-14:30) and so on, until DAGAZ (11:30-12:30); so that the middle of the “hour-glass” shape of the DAGAZ Runestave marks mid-day exactly.

Mid-day is to the day as mid-Summer is to the year, so you can also use the runes as a calendar, with the central point of DAGAZ indicating mid-Summer, and the central break of JERA marking the Winter Solstice. The rest of the runes, each lasting for a period of just over a fortnight, can be plotted around these two dates. Notice how the Winter runes – HAGALAZ (hail); NAUTHIZ (need); ISA (ice) and EIHWAZ (yew – an evergreen) crowd around the coldest time of year. The same is true with the other runes: SOWILO (sunshine) and BERKANO (birch-tree) in Spring; GEBO (gift) and WUNJO (joy) at harvest-time. Uncanny, isn't it? We can only hope that seasonal changes due to climate change don't knock these correspondences out of kilter.

Rune Poems and the Esoteric Meaning of the Runes

Our main sources for the esoteric understanding of the Runes are the Anglo-Saxon, Old Norwegian and Old Icelandic Rune poems. The two latter Rune poems are based on the Scandinavian 16-Rune 'Younger Futhark', hence the apparent gaps in the verses. Each of the Rune-poems could be nothing more than mnemonics (“A is for apple” etc.), although that's unlikely, given their consistency, internal logic and spiritual resonance.

Some people interpret the Runes depending on whether the facing Rune is upside down or not, but there is no evidence in the traditional literature that Rune-casters, or 'Erulians', took any notice of the directions of individual staves when casting the Runes. It's most likely an innovation taken from tarot cards, so can be safely ignored. Even worse, some modern Rune-sets include a “blank-rune”, also taken from non-Germanic fortune-telling techniques. This is an abomination, which should be stamped out! The word 'Erulian' is from the Germanic Heruli tribe, who are believed to have spread knowledge of the Runes across Europe and who practiced ritual homosexuality.

There is enough to learn from Runes: times, seasons, and in particular and most interestingly the roots of words (e.g. 'Fee' and 'Feudalism', 'Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum' from FEHU; ur – meaning 'proto' in German, or 'first', from URUZ etc.), and concepts that were important to our ancestors in an agriculturally-based society, without getting into the whole esoteric stuff.

This is how I think the Runes can initially best be used – as a link to understanding the past and a stimulus for the creative imagination – rather than for tawdry magic. At their best they express eternal patterns within the European mind, Jung's archetypes if you will, and should be contemplated poetically.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ego Death, Destiny and Serpents in Germanic Mythology

These observations of stories from Germanic mythology are written with reference to Michael Hoffman's ENTHEOGEN THEORY OF RELIGION AND EGO DEATH, http://egodeath.com/EntheogenTheoryOfReligion.htm where the snake or serpent is seen as a symbol of the stream of consciousness (“frozen-time determinism” in Hoffman's EGO DEATH language), and also as a pointer to the entheogenic substance aiding that symbolic realization.

According to Hoffman's EGO DEATH site, “Time can be envisioned as a space-like dimension, forming a block universe [a cube] that includes frozen, unchanging, snake-shaped personal worldline threads, each snake or thread representing a person's entire subjective stream of thoughts during their entire life (Ruckner 1984).” In this sense, the snake can be imagined as fulfilling the same function as the threads drawn by the Norns (the three fates/ Weird Sisters) of Northern myth. It is the “Necessity” expressed by the tenth rune, 'Nauthiz'.

There are three stories from Germanic mythology of particular relevance and resonance to the concept of EGO DEATH and the serpent: that of Jormungandr (the World Serpent), Loki's punishment and, above all, Odin's transformation into a snake in order to obtain the Odroerir – the Mead of the Skalds – which he then returns to Asgard.

1. Jormungandr – the World (Midgard) Serpent

Jormungandr is one of the three monster-offspring of Loki and the giantess Angrboda (“the bringer of grief”; their other two offspring being the Frenris wolf and Hel, the goddess representative of the underworld). The first two monsters are essential to the story of the final unfolding of Ragnarok, while Baldr's release from Hel after Ragnarok allows the sun god to rule over a shining new world. The most famous story about Jormungandr is when Thor goes fishing with a giant into the middle of the ocean, in order to catch and kill the earth-girdling snake. His voyage is a failure. He finally succeeds in slaying the Midgard serpent during Ragnarok, but at the cost of his own life.

2. Loki in the Snake-Pit

Loki is punished by the gods (for having brought about the death of Baldr) by being bound to a rock in a cavern. Above him Skadi, the goddess of hunting, has placed a venomous snake, and Loki writhes in agony, causing earthquakes, whenever the poison touches his skin. The parallels with other bound giants in Aryan mythology, notably Prometheus, are striking. Prometheus is another cultural hero and inventor, like Loki. Interestingly in this context, Goethe's Prometheus is made to exclaim to Mercury, “Did they [the divine parents of Prometheus] protect my heart/ From serpents that secretly tormented it!/ Did they steel my breast/ To defy the Titans?/...Was I not forged into a man/ By all-powerful Time/ And eternal Fate,/ My masters and yours?”

3. Odin and Odroerir

In the story of Odin and the winning of the Odroerir, snakes and entheogens are directly linked. According to Edred Thorsson in RUNELORE (Weiser, 1987), “In the guise of Bolverkr (Worker of Evil) and by cunning and oath-breaking, he gains access to the mountain where an etin-wife, Gunnlodh, guards the mead. He bores his way into the mountain in the shape of a serpent [actually the bore-hole is created by the Baugi the giant, Odin merely slips through as a snake] and remains in the interior for three nights, sleeping with the etin, after which he gets to drink down the mead in three gulps from the three vessels – Odhroerir, Son and Bodhn – in which the mead was held. Then he shape-shifts into an eagle and flies out of the top of the mountain and back to Asgardhr, where he spits out the mead into three vats – thus returning the mead to its rightful place among the Aesir and humanity. It is specifically stated that some of the mead dropped to the earth when Odhinn flew away, and this anyone can drink (if she or he happens across it by accident). Thus, it is called the 'fool-poet's share'.
“This myth is vital to runic tradition..It describes the path of becoming, the pathway of transformational Odianism...Here is hidden the significance of the serpentine aspect of the Odhinic cult, well-known from snake-bands on runestones and the famous dragon ships of the Vikings.”

From the traditional literature, the Eddas, we know that Odin uses three paths in his eternal quest for knowledge; insights that he hopes will allow him to defy destiny at Ragnarok. The first leads to his sacrifice on the World Tree and discovery of runes. Along the second he drinks from the Well of Mimir or Urd's Well, for which he pledged one of his eyes, (in the Voluspa, Mimir the Rememberer is said to drink the mead Odroerir from the Well every day). Third, through the mead Odroerir itself, created by the dwarves and won by Odin from the giants, as described by Edred Thorsson in the story above.

“The name Odroerir is sometimes used [in the Eddas and Germanic mythology generally] for the cauldron containing the mead of inspiration and sometimes for the mead itself. It means 'ecstasy-inducing,' or as we might say “ecstatogenic,” with the same word-root as Odin, god of inspiration and ecstasy. Since Odin was also said to drink mead from Odroedir when he came down from the World Tree after discovering the runes, this visionary mead is involved in all three of Odin's paths to knowledge.” - Ralph Metzner, THE WELL OF REMEMBRANCE

As with all myths, these can be interpreted on a number of levels. For instance the Arktion Federation published in its journal an explanation of Jormungandr as being a description of the water cycle. It could equally be the carbon cycle.

The three stories outlined above are amongst the most popular and recurrent motifs in northern pagan art. They are also inextricably bound up with the idea of the fate of the individual and the world.

Terror at the threshold of awareness

As Hoffman mentions in his EGO DEATH article, and as anyone who has experienced salvia divinorum or an LSD bad trip will know, the experience of entheogen-induced awareness of ego-loss and pre-destination can be disconcerting at best, and at worst a shattering of cosmic order from which it appears impossible to recover. At its best, it is humbling and ennobling, but when tainted with either physical or mental impurities it becomes an ordeal ending in a crushing nihilism.

Bad Trips, H.P. Lovecraft

“Saturn, as governor or gatekeeper of the outermost [ancient] planetary sphere which is associated with the sphere of the fixed stars, rides in a serpent-drawn chariot and eats the child or youthful self-concept as the price of passage across the boundary into the transcendent heavens beyond the starry Heimarmene[Fate]-boundary.” - Hoffman, EGO DEATH

“Both ego-less animal existence and man's ego, which is but matrical sensory cognition, originate in the same Matrix of Dream. This must be transcended. It is Polar insight, the inward-looking way that leads out of this cyclic Matrix. However, the man's ego, being the man-god, fears mystical dissolution, because it fears its “death”. Only if “death” is realized as illusion by experiencing it mystically in life, can essencification and spiritual unity be achieved. The ego fears “death” because it does not know that there is none. 'Fear' is the sword the ego wields, yet its iron melts away in the black heat of Wisdom.
“In Lovecraft's stories the elements of decay and death prevail. These are the emotional patterns of one approaching...The transformative Way across the Bridge of Fog, from animal-man to god-man, is painful. Everyone claiming the contrary, is speaking with a Minotaurian voice.
The Way leads through the Tomb of the Individual toward the Emergence of the Entity. The same is applicable to humanity. Saturn is throwing its charnel light toward this planet. But the Pilgrim must know that Saturn is but the Threshold, not the Destination.” W.H. Muller - Polaria p113

The Minotaurian voice that Muller refers to is the voice that asserts the supremacy of the ego. It is the animal-man trapped in the labyrinth of ordinary, uninspired consciousness.

Dialectics, Non-dual Synthesis and Tantra

It is interesting that these processes are always tripartite; EGO DEATH itself is a 3-stage process: ordinary consciousness is expanded by entheogens to an appreciation of frozen-time determinism (block universe) and the hidden transcendent control of thoughts, then to non-dualism: the non-dualism conveyed by Advaita Vedanta in Hinduism, the Diamond Sutra in Buddhism or Meister Eckhart and Georg Hegel in post-Christian Germanic tradition. “3-stage initiation paths centred around determinism are often posed as 2-stage systems: they both endorse and disparage the realization of determinism, which is the intermediate destination on the path to salvific regeneration” - Hoffman.


“...India was to be credited for the the ideal of liberation and the West was to be credited for the ideal of liberty. On the one hand, there is there is the impulse to escape from the human condition in order to become reintegrated in an absolute from which we separated ourselves only to end up in a world of illusion (maya). On the other hand, there is the impulse to feel free in a world that is no longer denied, but that is rather considered as a field for action and for experiencing all of the possibilities inherent in the human condition...In Tantrism we find a very interesting phenomenon; those ascetic techniques that were well-known in India are no longer employed to achieve an otherworldly liberation but in order to achieve liberty within the world. These techniques are supposed to bestow on a superior human type an invulnerability that allows one to be open to every worldly experience and that grants the power 'to transform the poison into medicine'.” - Julius Evola, THE YOGA OF POWER

Evola suggests a possible resolution of the mundane-consciousness belief in free will, and the heightened-consciousness awareness of predestination: through Tantra. Hoffman's “salvific regeneration” could then be understood as the Tantric moment of realization of non-duality; there is no “other” that sets the universe and the individual on a pre-destined course. Odin is still on the road to Ragnarok, Thor is still destined to be overwhelmed by the World Serpent, while Loki is fated to escape his own serpentine tormentor and unleash Ragnarok. But none of these events have yet taken place: the final battle between Odin as questing consciousness and the snake as inexorable fate remains unresolved.

http://egodeath.com/EntheogenTheoryOfReligion.htm

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Dr. Tomislav Sunic on Paganism

Can we still conceive of the revival of Pagan sensibility in an age
so profoundly saturated by Judeo-Christian monotheism and so
ardently adhering to the tenets of liberal democracy? In popular
parlance the very word "Paganism" may incite some to derision and
laughter. Who, after all, wants to be associated with witches and
witchcraft, with sorcery and black magic? Worshiping animals or
plants, or chanting hymns to Wotan or Zeus, in an epoch of cable
television and "smart weapons," does not augur well for serious
intellectual and academic inquiry. Yet, before we begin to heap
scorn on Paganism, we should pause for a moment. Paganism is not
just witches and witches' brew; Paganism also means a mix of highly
speculative theories and philosophies. Paganism is Seneca and
Tacitus; it is an artistic and cultural movement that swept over
Italy under the banner of the Renaissance. Paganism also means
Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Charles Darwin, and a host of
other thinkers associated with the Western cultural heritage. Two
thousand years of Judeo-Christianity have not obscured the fact that
Pagan thought has not yet disappeared, even though it has often been
blurred, stifled, or persecuted by monotheistic religions and their
secular offshoots...Abraham and Moses may be dethroned today, but
their moral edicts and spiritual ordinances are much alive. The
global and disenchanted world, accompanied by the litany of human
rights, ecumenical society, and the rule of law ---- are these not
principles that can be traced directly to the Judeo-Christian
messianism that resurfaces today in its secular version under the
elegant garb of modern "progressive" ideologies?

And yet, we should not forget that the Western world did not begin
with the birth of Christ. Neither did the religions of ancient
Europeans see the first light of the day with Moses-in the desert.
Nor did our much-vaunted democracy begin with the period of
Enlightenment or with the proclamation of American independence.
Democracy and independence-all of this existed in ancient Greece,
albeit in its own unique social and religious context. Our Greco-
Roman ancestors, our predecessors who roamed the woods of central
and northern Europe, also believed in honor, justice, and virtue,
although they attached to these notions a radically different
meaning...

Who knows, with the death of communism, with the exhaustion of
liberalism, with the visible depletion of the congregations in
churches and synagogues, we may be witnessing the dawn of
neopaganism, a new blossoming of old cultures, a return to the roots
that are directly tied to our ancient European precursors. Who can
dispute the fact that Athens was the homeland of Europeans before
Jerusalem became their frequently painful edifice?

Great lamenting is heard from all quarters of our disenchanted and
barren world today. Gods seem to have departed, as Nietzsche
predicted a century ago, ideologies are dead, and liberalism hardly
seems capable of providing man with enduring spiritual support.
Maybe the time has come to search for other paradigms? Perhaps the
moment is ripe, as Alain Benoist would argue, to envision another
cultural and spiritual revolution-a revolution that might well
embody our pre-Christian European Pagan heritage?


-- Dr. Tomislav Sunic
TOMISLAV SUNIC is the author of AGAINST DEMOCRACY AND EQUALITY: The European New Right (Newport Beach, CA. Noontide Press 1990/2004) ISBN 0-939482-63-0
http://doctorsunic.netfirms.com/
http://www.alphalink.com.au/~radnat/tomsunic/index.html
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