Monday, December 06, 2010

The Yule-Wights Come Near

In winter's rage
Seek the fire-keeper;
Woe in that time
To men and beasts
Though seeds hide
And later golden grow

* * *

We have washed ourselves clean in the birch-dales
And now stand in the hallowed place of the Yew;
Before the doors of Sunna's house may Jolnir show Sig-
Holy might from Heaven's Halls,
Holy might and main from All-Giving Earth,
Drighten of Gods and Alfs impart peace.
Grist to our houses, Frith to our joinings,
And Ljosalf-blessings on our farthest farings.

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Manifesto of the Atheling

This third draft of a Manifesto I'm writing, describing a code of living for the “Interior Elite” or the Athelings – is, in a sense, my attempt to rebirth a code of Master Morality for modern people. This work blends elements of the Perennial Tradition, primordial Pagan models of spiritual and symbolic worldview, and Classical virtue all mixed with a generous dash of Ancestral Traditionalism and Spiritual Ruralism- just perfect for (and quite expected from) a mind like mine. But I have a feeling that I'm not alone. This is for the true nobles.

* * *

The Manifesto of the Atheling
Copyright © 2010

The "Interior Elite" or the "Aristocrats of the Soul"- those for whom we follow the lead of history and tradition and re-anoint with the princely title “Atheling"- are herein described. The term “Atheling” has, for this study and meditation on morality, been stripped of its old political associations (once it referred to the scion of any noble family) and is now given a more profound, internal, and universal meaning which speaks to moral and spiritual nobility.

1. The Athelings of our world have three things in common: they all evidence a natural thoughtful introspection, a desire for the calm beauty and quiet simplicity of the rural landscape, and a natural disdain for degraded modernism.

2. Spiritual "Ruralism" is not a re-statement of the older notion that a life based on farming or agrarianism is morally superior to a life spent in the giant maws of our cities; it is, instead, a call to appreciate, preserve, and seek out whenever possible the only peace and serenity in the exterior world that can match and sooth the thirst for peace and serenity within- the peace found in the untamed, unspoiled, or prudently and respectfully modified countryside.

3. Far from the crowds, the madness, the damnable noise, and the hosts of predatory minds warped violently by the poverty of aggregation, is found the only true refuge for the Atheling.

4. The Atheling will always cultivate a mental and spiritual detachment from modernity, though they are forced by Fateful circumstances to dwell among its artifacts, and among the anonymous masses of its unthinking disciples.

5. This detachment nourishes a dignified spirit; it partially soothes a soul forced to drink the bitter waters of the dull, uninspired aesthetics, the crimes of unrestrained capitalism, unrestrained collectivism, industrialism, and the stultifying social and religious choreography that all join together to define the spirit of the modern age.

6. In the special detachment of the Atheling, the entire sublime field of experience, anciently interwoven with reason, creativity, and a taste for the mystical (that sacred reality beyond our rational understanding) is safely preserved from the shallow absurdity of materialism and the arrogance of the materialistic sciences.

7. That divine creativity which alone can spare the soul from a painful famine and final death in the barren modern wasteland, is sheltered and flourishes in detachment from the clumsy grasping of the rude masses.

8. For the true Athelings of our world, Nature is never judged to be mere “material” and “resource”; it is symbol and spirit, never separate from the living and enduring being of each person.

9. The Atheling sits, unseen by the world, on a throne of highest dignity at the center of a kingdom of conscience. The noble man or woman always experiences two lives, a life of necessity in the outer world, and a life of eminence within.

10. In the detachment of the Atheling, the stains of modernity cannot cling to his or her spotless garments; the sovereign will of the Atheling is not moved, though a billion voices together call for that will to bend.

11. That sovereign will is instead freely given over to the dictates of the quiet and faultless conscience which moves and perceives with nature's all-encompassing fluidity, and that will is given freely to itself, draped in a cloak of creativity, crowned with the diadem of inspiration, and co-existing in serene trust with the ancestral and primordial wisdom that first established the foundations of the world, the foundations of excellence and heroism, and the foundations of a just social communion, so long ago.

12. Coeval with the perennial patterning of human experience is the primordial wisdom that was the provenance of sacred mythology- those precious and timeless stories of Gods and Heroes that are keys to insight and truth for the discerning and aristocratic soul. In these things trust can be reliably placed.

13. The Atheling is beholden to no modern judge, nor human spiritual authority; like all beings, he or she will only be finally and truly judged by the ancient voices and the enduring primordial spirit by which all things are rightly measured.

14. The true Atheling does not stand out of any crowd, nor do they blend in; they are immune to the tyranny of the group-mind, the hysteria of mass unconsciousness, immune to the inducements or threats of the powerful few, and unmoved by the manipulations and power-games of the disempowered many.

15. Passing trends do not obsess the Athelings; nationalism does not impress or impassion them, and wasteful, thoughtless living arouses only a just contempt which at any rate does not distract them from the path of sovereign will and the quest for truth.

16. For the demonstrable good of society, the Athelings make sacrifices; the for the good of husband, wife, children, and dearest companions, they sacrifice even more.

17. The saga in which the noble one will be remembered, their true fame, is in the flesh of offspring, in the memories of those dearest and closest, and the in the unfailing memory of the Godly world that remains invisible yet evergreen, even in this age wherein wisdom lies abandoned and is seldom found.

18. The fear of pain and lust for pleasure alike are secondary concerns in any decision the Atheling makes; a noble bearing born of interiorized truth and the balanced, reasoned dictates of conscience accompany the Atheling’s will in any action.

19. No action is well-taken without reference to the divine; the traditional origin of true human culture is the union of the human and godly worlds, and therefore the Atheling, as a bearer of the spirit of the true culture which shines behind the long descent of history, raises (through spontaneous and organic ritual) every intentional action of substance or potential gravity to the level of a sacred act.

20. The fantasies of the noble man or woman contain more truth than the "facts" tossed about and cherished by the peasants of modernity.

21. The interior spaces of the self- that unseen country free of the anguish of time’s decay, which forever borders the profound depths that are source to all persons and things- are the fields in which the Atheling plants the seeds of life, loyalty, affection, and highest aspiration to truth.

22. That interior self, and the Godly spirit that dwells forever there, is the only justification Athelings need for any act of will; they never apologize for arising in might, or for seeking or seizing what they or their own need for life or for their flourishing.

23. The Athelings are not strangers to acts of compassion; real nobility is also marked by fairness and compassion. Their occasions of compassion never come about under compulsion, nor are they condescending acts of pity, but freely chosen displays of solidarity with another soul that struggles.

24. Athelings never apologize for strength or virtue. They never apologize for the outcomes of their own willed actions working in clear-sighted tandem with their conscience.

25. Athelings never complain about powers and forces operating outside of their control in the body of nature, nor superior forces that no courage or ingenuity of man can tame or defeat; they simply and wisely endure the unavoidable outcomes of these things.

26. Noble human beings never debase their humanity, their bodies, their souls, or their spirits by consenting to accept a degraded, guilt-ridden vision or understanding of those vessels of truth and virtue.

27. What is most precious to the true noble is given to the deepest interior of the self, never to be lost again. That great interior realm is an impregnable fortress, safe from the assaults of the degenerate age, from the shallowness that masquerades as morality and righteousness in the outer regions, and from the greatest temptation of all- that seduction that would unseat from the throne of will and conscience he or she who rightly occupies it.

28. The Atheling never feels guilt; they only feel shame for the times when they allowed their own sovereign will to be subverted and led away to the outcome of their own pain, displeasure, or harm, or the harm of others. In that shame, they re-master themselves, and wax mightier, to the accomplishment of the highest ideals.

29. The Atheling dies- alone if need be- for this morality of strength and virtue which cannot, by its very nature, submit to the wills of lesser men or demons.

* * *

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Missionaries of Heathendom?

The Missionaries of Heathendom?
Our Present, Our Growth, and Our Possible Future

The "Fastest Growing' Religion?

Is Paganism of any sort, or all Paganisms out there together, the “fastest growing religion” in the West? There is much talk these days about the spread of Heathenry, and of Pagan religions in general. It goes without saying that there are more neo-Pagans of various stripes than traditional Heathens, Heathens here meaning followers of the Asatru religion, or Theodism, or the like. But taken as a whole, does the (painfully) generalized "Pagan" movement really grow as dramatically as some claim?

The best answer I've heard was during a discussion on "The Wild Hunt". A rather insightful fellow there said "The reason "the Pagan community" *seems* to be "gaining adherents" is because, in my opinion, there are no bounds that define what paganism is."

He is very right; when you get outside of the world of reconstructionism, of traditional ethnic and scholarly approaches to the Old Ways, you find yourself in a miasma of ill-defined, sometimes indefinable quasi-religious movements that all claim to be "Pagan".

This is the new-age miasma that I am referring to, of course; the broad "movement" of various forms of badly watered-down Wicca and new-agery that anyone can begin claiming as their own "ancient tradition" after just reading a book or a website. These watery hodge-podges have all the usual Eastern new-age elements ("all the gods are one god", a belief in Hindu-like or Buddhist-like reincarnation, and usually a "Great Goddess" somewhere) and people who find, create, and maintain these beliefs tend to be young, very liberal, and quite dramatic.

These people are seldom defined by who they are and what they believe, but in how flamboyant they can be and how in line with the liberal political agenda they are. They know more about chakras and the cabbala than the actual cultural stories of the Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe. They want to "draw down the moon" more than re-create the ancient and powerful ritual of sacrifice, in some form, to re-establish bonds of reciprocal giving with the living, individual Gods.

Whatever their failings may be, they are what the mainstream of the non-Heathen or non-Pagan public actually see; the eye of the media and the eye of the common man on the street encounters them far more often than they encounter serious traditional Heathens or reconstructionists. And, whether we like it or not, we Heathens get judged by the standards these new-agers set. This presents an issue worth considering, and getting back to.

A Sad State of Affairs, Really

I don't think that "Paganism" is growing so quickly- I think that, since anyone can claim to be Pagan at any time, and many do, it seems that way. But many of these "Pagans" drift away from their proclamations just as quickly as they make them. These people have, somewhere inside them, a desire for the Old Ways- I don't doubt that. But, finding no real focus, and finding only fads and passing fashion statements, that desire (lacking grounding) fades away.

It's a sad state of affairs, really. I've often said that even the worst new-ager team is better than the best Christian or Muslim one, and I mean that (however painful or tedious I find them all). But the facts would seem to be clear, to any who observe trends of "growth"- we cannot count on the general "new age" world to reliably grow into anything of social consequence beyond what it has already become.

It's done some interesting and important things- battles have been fought for constitutional rights on various issues, to Pagan symbols on grave stones, Pagan chaplains in the military, Pagan chaplains in Prison, Pagans in public office, and brave, bold men and women have taken these steps- and not all of them have been Heathen. The best and finest of the non-Heathen world are people with formidable spirits, and may Allfather and the Disir keep them safe and give them victory.

But I still believe that we won't see much beyond what we've seen now, precisely because "Paganism", as it stands, means very little. Of course, it means something different to nearly every Pagan you ask, but in meaning so many things, it ultimately means little. It has little strength to establish itself as an entity of its own, with clear boundaries and some form of identity. It will remain as it is: small cults of personality and internet celebrities and some yearly conventions and festivals for the big stars to attend, a lot of mass-media paperbacks and renaissance festivals with booths selling pentacles and Willendorf Venus jewelry.

The Dreaded Trap

Should we be concerned about the "growth" of Heathenry? Or even "Paganism", in general? Should this be an issue of discussion? What are the theoretical benefits of creating a larger, more cohesive "Pagan" movement? Or even creating a centralized "Heathen" movement? More political representation? The exploding of "myths" about "us"? A solidification of "our" identity as a suffering minority faith, persecuted and here to fight for our rights? (That's the idea I get from most new-agers, though not from many Heathens, thank the Gods).

There is a reason that even the "liberal" media doesn't take Paganism of any stripe seriously- because they can't codify it, present it in a way that the average red-blooded American can understand on the news, and because a lot of the "pagans" today have to take silly-sounding names, dress in tie-dyed Celtic knotwork robes, and make a spectacle of themselves on television or Youtube that is immature by any measure of maturity that I can personally think of.

Beyond maturity, it's undignified. These people are definitely trying to express something spiritual and important to them, but cut off from the needed education on what the real old ways were about, their "new old ways" are nothing short of embarrassing.

I can say that it would be nice to have more political protection/representation, and more friendly portrayals in media. It would be nice if the positive and useful perspectives that the Heathen way actually contains could reach the people outside of Heathendom- I believe many problematic social issues could be addressed by giving Indo-European rooted cultures in the modern day (and the people of Indo-European descent, whether genetic or cultural descent), a sense of heritage and pride in the accomplishments of their true Ancestors.

People cut off from their past and their source cannot truly flourish, nor find real purpose in this world. Perhaps the "cultural stagnation" that we've seen for centuries has a deeper origin than most people imagine!

We all know how much the world could benefit from people today adopting a spiritual-ecological approach to nature, and the ancient religions often experienced the sacred in terms of the natural world, so there is a natural advantage there, too. For most Pagans of any stripe, becoming "Pagan" is a return to seeing this world as ensouled, or full of spirits, or Gods; and that sort of reverence for nature is a powerful basis for dealing wisely with the environment.

I think that nothing but good can come from people respecting the Old Gods, for I have seen their might, kindness, and wisdom in my own life.

But how would Heathens- or even the non-Heathen pagans- go about introducing these things about themselves and their religion to the world, without falling into the dreaded trap of "evangelicalism"? Even neo-Pagans don't tend to be this narcissistic or this far gone- even they don't want to be going door to door playing the "knock knock, ever heard about the Great Goddess?" game. And Heathens, with very, very few exceptions, aren't actively seeking members in that manner. At most, Heathens will put some posts on the internet in various places advertising their community, with a polite invitation for "interested" people to come by for a beer or a blot.

Don't Look Down on Small Teams

The New-agers are, generally speaking, more willing to accept flashy personalities to speak on their behalf: they have a small corps of best-selling new-age authors with high dollar websites, busy blogs, and a lot of "public rituals" done at conventions and spiritual merchandising gatherings. But Heathens?

The few umbrella organizations of Heathens (and the oldest) that boast across-state lines members are still quite small, and aside from crossing paths with media every now and then when some issue related to racism comes up, or helping local prison wardens to "understand" Asatru among the inmates, these (sometimes very honorable) men and women cannot speak for the Heathen movement as a whole. They never have, and never will.

This is not a rebuke of those men and women; it's just an observation on the nature of Heathenry.

So how are we going to "grow"? Do we need to? Speaking directly to Heathens now, I must say, even the "big boy" Heathen organizations are still small- splinter small- compared to even a moderate-sized Methodist church in any American town. The membership in the "big boy" Heathen organizations tend to be more quality- more faithful, more tied to the heart and spirit of Heathenry, but they don't surge in numbers. Are their members all the sires and matriarchs of huge families of new Heathen children? No, not really. Even their Heathen children (like my own) may find Christianity one day, thanks to a boyfriend or girlfriend or husband and wife, and leave the Old Ways, due to the miracle of "love".

We all know it. The movement is beautiful, powerful, the Gods are real, and powerful- but the movement, as much power as it has, does not have fire for rapid (or even steady) growth. I'd like it to, actually; as I said, I think it could help this world and many people in many ways. But Fate has the final word on these matters.

As things stand, it seems Fatefully allotted for us- for all of us, Heathen or otherwise- that we will see our population of adherents remain about where it is now, for many years or generations to come. Hey- it's not all bad; Christianity was also once a tiny movement of a few people gathering here and there in backwater Roman towns, and alleys in big cities, or on their couches in their homes, and after 300 or so years of that, they managed to subvert politics and bring about the greatest social change in the history of the West.

So, I don't mean to be down on a small movement. Maybe it's time to admit that we are still young; even if we feel the ancient power of our ways, and even if we feel very old in spirit, at times, we're young as a reborn, revived movement in the Christian West.

How can we not feel ancient?
Our ways are as old as human culture, and yet, our ways and Gods and symbols and religious impulses are alien to the eyes of people who see us- people whose own Ancestors once did and believed much the same things as we modern Heathens do now. It's a strange amnesia, a strange denial, a strange lack of memory. It's also a perilous loss of wisdom, and a crime against honor, to see the Ancestors' ways so forgotten, sometimes butchered, and even mocked, in some circles.

No Fire Burns Forever

But the impulse to believe in the Old Ways is (clearly) still here- in each one of us. We didn't choose to have it, and it isn't going anywhere. It was always here. But where will it lead? Who can say?

I can say this, with some certainty- as people become more and more disaffected with Christianity, they will seek alternatives. This is the destiny of organized, revealed religions- they begin on a flimsy basis, and thus, have no destiny which is worthwhile. Take Christianity, as an example: it began in a desperate, grasping need for a "savior" to come and fix the poor, lost, helpless humans- it began and still begins in a desperate need for "love", for holiness, for an identity to hold on to, and to have manufactured certainties that life doesn't tend to offer people. They needed to know the "truth" about things... and didn't want to go through the many difficulties that the truth requires before she will unveil herself. They preferred to have a book and other people just tell them the answer.

And Christians back in the day (as well as now) settled for their quick answers, no matter how harmful or absurd those answers were. This dim psychology only knows one thing: it's better to believe something, anything, than to be uncertain. There is a deadly pride here that will not allow some people to just admit that they don't know the answers to every question life poses, and that no one does.

Then, after 16-17 centuries or so, the fire of the initial massive burst of zeal finally blazed out. It ends in the same place it began: in uncertainty, fear, and in need for something to hold on to.

Truth be known, the fires of Christianity blazed out long ago- centuries ago- only rote tradition and custom has kept it going this long. This is why "revivals" are always being attempted by the most hysterical of Christians- always that killing need to "revive" the corpse. And the answer is always disappointment and silence and guilt after the revival fire dies out, which it always does.

Islam's turn is coming soon, and even sooner, now that they have encountered the marvels of Western culture, which invalidates their worldview in countless ways, and introduces them to different ways of thinking and living, more liberated ways. Even the false prophet's ravings must go back to the same silence they emerged from, as the world cycles and discards yet another religious movement. They come and they go, forever.

So, as these revealed religions come crashing down, their adherents look around with a "what now?" look on their faces. If we are there, presenting a mature front, with a solid basis for what we believe, born in the world's oldest truths and spiritual beliefs, we may see our numbers begin to grow. Half of what keeps people from really being open-minded about modern Heathenry or Paganism is the disapproval of Christian society for these things- fear of disapproval from family, community, friends, and the like. When our society no longer accords religious groups major air-time, and when the voices screaming for ten commandment tablets in all government buildings and (christian) prayers in school all go quiet, that pressure will be gone.

The Only Missionaries We Need

Wow! Doesn't that sound like a vulture's approach! Wait till their corpse goes silent, then start picking the meat off! It may seem that way, but it is not. Organic religions like Heathenry, and even the well-meaning attempts at Paganism on behalf of the new-age kids, are not vulture religions; they are the ancient land and sky that these revealed monotheistic religions have been throwing their 17 century-long fit upon. When the temper tantrum of the revealed religions finally calms down, when they lose their breath, and vanish, as they must, land and sky will remain.

Land and sky welcome any to come home to them again, they give all, take all, and give again, without moving even a bit from where they were. Natural peace and sanity is always possible. What shall we do in the meantime? Make Heathen missionary teams? No. But making a more serious and mature presentation of ourselves in public is a must. Insisting on boundaries between ourselves and the Non-Heathen who lack the needed maturity, insight, education, and depth of spirit to be a credit to the revival of ancient European religions in the modern day is also a must.

Every person who finally gets fed up with the ephemeral promises of organized religions, and the politics, and the madness, drifts on seas of uncertainty for a while, seeking better horizons, greener lands. And Heathenry is certainly a good, green country, full of rest for those whom the Gods still watch over, even though generations of their families before unconsciously fell into ignorance about the Gods.

In this age of rapid information sharing, we can reach people in incredible ways- but not necessarily "missionary" ways; by simply and honestly presenting a spiritual maturity and extolling the dignity of the Ancestral Way to the public, we can attract precisely the sorts of people that will be a credit to us. In a sense, the only "missionaries" we need to help our cause are Christian missionaries- the more people they insult, badger, use fear-tactics on, and in general harass with their nonsense, the more appealing non-Christian religions will seem to the discerning.

And we should seem more appealing, because we aren't insane. We're doing what the Ancestors were doing before the religious hysteria of revealed, organized religions spread like wildfire through Europe, and subverted the sanity that was before. But fires burn out, always. Let it be, Gods, let it be. Let the old growth forests return, and let us have peace in their dark, sheltering boughs.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Were the Viking attacks self-defense against Christianity?

I found an excellent article, linked below, outlining a profound new perspective on the Viking raids on Christian settlements and monasteries during the Viking era:

"A new theory about what drove the Vikings to raid Western Europe in the late eight and ninth centuries has been published. It suggests that the Vikings in Denmark were reacting to a threat from the Carolingian ruler Charlemagne, who was seeking to destroy their society and impose Christianity on them.

The theory was put forward by Robert Ferguson in an article for the December 2009 issue of BBC History Magazine. His book, The Hammer and the Cross: A New History of the Vikings, was also published in November.

Starting in the 790s, Viking ships began raiding throughout Western Europe and the British Isles, often targeting monasteries. Ferguson points out that peaceful contacts between the Norse peoples and Christian societies, such as trading with each other. He therefore asks why did the Viking attacks begin when they did?

But with the accession of Charlemagne in 771, the Carolingians began to implement a new program of converting their pagan and neighbors and promoting Christianity. Charlemagne launched numerous invasions of the Saxon peoples led by Widukind.

In a podcast interview, Ferguson adds the goals of Charlemagne were to force the Saxons "to abandon their culture, political system, beliefs and everything, and make them part Christians and part of his empire."

Ferguson notes an episode of "ethnic-cleansing:" when, in 782, Charlemangne's armies forcibly baptised and then executed 4,500 Saxon captives at Verden, a town close to Denmark. The Danes would have been well aware of what was happening with the Saxons anyways, as Widukind was married to sister of the Danish king, Sigfrid, and often took refuge in Denmark to escape the Carolingians.

Considering the situation, Ferguson writes, "Should the Vikings simply wait for Charlemagne's armies to arrive and set about the task? Or should they fight to defend their culture?"

But the Norse could not fight the Carolingian military directly - instead they went after soft-targets, such as monasteries, which were symbols of the growing Christian encroachment. Ferguson says, "everything points to a hatred that goes beyond just robbers who just wanted money."

The article goes on to describe these early Viking attacks, and how their raids expanded throughout Europe, with Viking kingdoms developing on the British Isles and elsewhere.

Several other explanations have been put forward for Viking violence, such as innovations in shipbuilding which encouraged piracy, and overpopulation in Scandinavia, which forced many of its people to leave their homeland in search of fortune.

The article, "The Vikings: Why did their violent raids begin?" is in the December 2009 issue of BBC History Magazine."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I'm a Heathen, Not a New Ager

I wrote a list of twenty salient facts about Heathens that separate the majority of them from the mainstream of the "new age" movement. You can see it here:

I'm a Heathen, Not a New Ager

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Blot to Odin

Hear me, Wild Hunt's Grim Lord, Wish-Father Wandering,
Warg-master, Wolf in Timber Howling,
Wooer of Gunnlod, two ravens following!
Odin, High Lord of the Ancestral Host,
Fare in secret to my fire-lit hall,
Come to your honored seat,
And receive your cup of holy mead.

* * *

This short article contains a form for modern Blots or sacrifices, close to the custom of Blot as it is done in the Idavoll Kindred, but also (I think) representative of most "general" Heathen Blots. It's good for poetic usage as well as a general inspirational model. The Blot itself is for the Sig-Father and Warg-Father, Odin, but the form can be extended for use in Bloting other wights.

Click Here to see it: Blot to Odin