Here She Comes 11/14/2009
 
The November Man is coming: rain, rain, rain - over here in Europe. Light the candle and listen to good music: "And from a womb of growing corn..."

And in the days of to come,
The sound of iron and the sound of drums.
And in the days of to come,
The earth shall seethe and the clouds will bleed.
And in the days of to come,
Will we be drowned in a sea of scum?
And in the days of to come,
Will man spew out a bastard son?

But from the forest and the field,
Here she comes, here she comes.
And beneath the turning of the sun's wheel,
Here she comes, here she comes.
And from a womb of growing corn,
We are reborn, we are reborn.
Her moon that lights us til the dawn,
Here she comes, here she comes.

And in the days that will be,
The doors of hope will have no key.
And in the days that will be,
No books or gods, only greed.
And in the days it will show,
That the rule of gold will drag us low.
And in great halls where treason breeds,
Even noble hearts become diseased.

But from the forest and the field,
Here she comes, here she comes.
And beneath the turning of the sun's wheel,
Here she comes, here she comes.
And from a womb of growing corn,
We are reborn, we are reborn.
Her moon that lights us til the dawn,
Here she comes, here she comes.

And from the forest and from the field,
Here she comes, here she comes.
And beneath the turning of the sun's wheel,
Here she comes, here she comes.
And from a womb of growing corn,
We are reborn, we are reborn.
Her moon that leads us to the dawn,
Here she comes, here she comes.

Here she comes, here she comes.
Here she comes, here she comes.

Sol Invictus, In the Days to Come, from the album 'In the Rain'

http://www.lastfm.de/music/Sol+Invictus/_/In+Days+to+Come

 
 
                   I don't expect I'll ever understand
                   How life just trickled through my hand


                                                     Jhonn Balance



Today five years ago, John Balance died in a tragic accident. Goeffrey
Rushton, better known under the name Jhonn Balance, is an artist whose art,
life and magick has inspired me in many ways, when I was a teenager. John
has started out as a fan of the infamous 'Wreckers of Civilization', Throbbing
Gristle, where he met Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson, his life partner and
co-founder of their band Coil. They founded the band Psychic TV and Thee
Temple Ov Psychick Youth with Genesis P-Orridge in 1981 (as far as I remember).
After arguements they both left TOPY and Psychick TV to follow their own creative
spark and to break free from TOPY that seemed to turn into a trap of a cult, as they
said.

"Genesis is definitely, concretising ideas from various traditions, but we
assumed the mantle of organised religion, copying aspects of The Process
Church, Jim Jones and actual clerical stuff, and we came across as a cult,
but we were in fact individually practicing sexual magic. So that was a
camouflage, which eventually became a trap that we had to break away from.
I felt very strongly that we had to get away from that."

Their first mini-album has become How to Destroy Angels, 'music(k) for the
accumulation of male sexual energy', which is to say that men could use it
for homosexual magic(k) (though they said that women could use it, too).
Their following albums Scatology and Horse Rotovator are a testimony to
their brilliance and that they have always been ahead of their time (like
with most albums that followed). John Balance was responsible for vocals,
lyrics, chants, synthetics and various esoteric sound-making instruments
and devices. Outside of Coil he collaborated with Nurse With Wound, Death
In June, Psychic TV, Current 93 and Thighpaulsandra, and produced a couple
of Nine Inch Nails remixes. His early work and wide-ranging collaborations
made him one of the most influential figures in the industrial, experimental
minimalist and neofolk music scenes. Peter Christopherson is the 'unseen'
genius behind the inimitable sounds and 'styles' that Coil has invented. He was
one of the original members of the band that invented the genre of Industrial Music,
Throbbing Gristle, co-founded Psychic TV and Coil. Christopherson has participated
in the reuniting of Throbbing Gristle (I think in 2004) as well as composed an album
for his current solo endeavour The Threshold HouseBoys Choir (now SoiSong).
John and 'Sleazy' have nurtured the entity called Coil for 23 years.

John Balance has influenced me on many levels. First of all, Coil helped me
in times of isolation in ways I hardly can describe. They helped me to come
to terms with the fact that I am an outsider and that I'm neither mad nor
alone. (In fact Sleazy once told me in Berlin that "it's very important to be
an outsider"!) The music of Coil displayed an orginality and a creativity that
showed that 'occult experiences' are real and can be 'translated' into sound.
John was initially influenced by Max Ernst and the surrealists. Later P-Orridge
and Burroughs introduced him to the general concept of magic as a practicality
in everyday life. After having been asked how magic has sweeped into his work,
he answered:

"Well it has, totally. I've always been into magic, with Crowley's 'k', and
studied it. I tried to buy stuff by Crowley when I was young, but my
parents absolutely refused to have anything to do with it and actively
discouraged me. I wrote to Alex Sanders (King of the Witches), when I was
14, and he wrote back to me saying thanks for writing, I'm very pleased
that you want to do this, but can you write back when you're 18. He
wouldn't accept anyone so young into his coven. I used to worship the moon
too, I'd encourage other boys at school to do it, too. I just instinctively
did things like that. It once got me into trouble. I was at school with the
son of David Tomlinson, who was in Bedknobs and Broomsticks (a Disney
comedy about witches). The two of us were taught astral projection by a
teacher and there was a scandal because they thought there was some
homosexual relationship going on with the three of us, but there wasn't. I
went to school one day and there was David Tomlinson's limousine outside -
he grabbed me as I was coming off the school bus and asked whether his son
and I had a sexual relationship with this teacher. From then on, all the
teachers were watching me!"

Asked at which point he started to practice magick, he said:

"...even as a kid I used to do it. I was an only child, always talking to
animals, fantasy creatures and spirits. I would make little plasticine gods
and make offerings to them. I was just born with a pagan sensibility. I'm
an animal, I've never been a human – there's no difference between animals
and humans to me. I think that's one of the signs of a true pagan. Some
life experiences can just jolt you into it. I had German measles really
badly, twice I think, and wasn't allowed contact with the light in case I
went blind. Shut in this dark room, that was like my initiation, I imagine."

However, it was really Spare who got him into a way of magick that was
truely his. "As soon as I discovered Austin Spare I realised that we were
loners, we practiced magick on our. That's my style of magic, the shamanic
way - and Spare was definitely a shaman." Like Spare did paint pictures in
a sidereal fashion, where images and gestalts are infused into the realm of
Midgard, Coil did a sidereal sound, where 'the Other' – the Mystery – (Runa?)
pours into mundane reality.

"What Spare did in art, we try to do through music. This is why we do
sidereal sound. The way he twisted his pictures, so that the geometry
appears warped, we try to do that, to produce strange geometries through
sound, so that it comes out sideways. We do it with technology, with 3D
devices, phasers, out-of-phasers, all sorts of gizmos. There's no one
particular box that does it, we all do it any possible way that we can. …
Spare used to do speaker battles, where he would project sound into the
aether - which I think is a real physical thing, some kind of cosmic glue,
a genuine substance, or non-substance - that connects everything and allows
unexplained things and ideas to be transmitted."

John Balance had a very intimate relationship with Spare. He did sigils to
'contact' Spare and his Current of the Zos Kia Cultus. After that Coil were
in touch with Crowley's and Spare's art forever. In many ways Balance was
overwhelmed by the results of his magical workings. They collected many
artifacts from these two artists and magicians. Balance claimed that you
can commune with the pictures of Spare and that they would change.

"Some of the chaotic ones, you look at them with one person and see certain
things, and you look at them with another person and you see a completely
different set of things. Every piece he did was magical. There were some
that were done for other people specifically as magical spells, such as the
stele or the magical alphabet. But he lived his life as a magician and a
stoic. He could survive for a week on a kipper... Austin Spare had people
who came through for him, spirit guides, and there are magical currents. He
may have opened up a gateway or whatever, but now it's flowing in trickles,
rivulets, even streams. That's why it's very important that we flash Zos
Kia Cultus - Spare's magical philosophy or code - and his images onto the
screen at our performances, to energise Spare's current and put our own
energies into it. To make it a living, breathing, energising, wonderful
thing. By Cultus I don't mean a cult, but a way of life, a philosophy, a
code, which puts me in touch with what I really, truly should be doing on
this planet."

And this means really - albeit in a different context - what Ódhinn meant
by the saying that "I Give myself to mySelf": that you would totally
dedicate yourself to the divine current you come in touch with. Everything
you do becomes you. There is no difference between your everyday life as
Joe or Harry and Sigurd or Egill.

"Like Burroughs, or Spare, there's no difference between our philosophy,
our lifestyle and our art. This is what we do. We are what we do."

Well, my friends, and this is what I call Chaos Heathenism in action.
However, there is a dark side to all of this. Jhonn (as he later spelled
himself) suffered from two demons: depression and alcoholism. He struggled
with both of them his whole life. And as Peter has told me, his alcoholism
started when they were doing E's (MDMA) in the mid-80s and Jhonn began to
use alcohol for 'coming down' from them. On November 11th 2004 Jhonn fell
down the stairs in his house after having been drunk for weeks. He never
again regained consciousness and died on November 13th 2004.

This has been one of the saddest days of my life. I was to perform my duty
in a Gnostic Mass as a Deacon in OTO (now I left the order, as you know).
My friend Maarten e-mailed me to tell me these terrible news. I was
hardly able to perform the ritual, but I did and prayed for Balance and lit
a candle for him (as I do every year). For days I was in shock and my girl
friend (though not being a 'fan', but knowing my pain) cried. I will never
forget the pain and grief I felt for weeks, if not months, after this
shaman died. It was as if a brother has gone away.

When I interviewed 'Sleazy' on December 30th 2005 in Berlin with my friend
Henrik, when Throbbing Gristle were doing an exhibition in Berlin, he told
me many times things like this: "You should've asked Jhonn", "Jhonn was the
expert", "Jhonn was into the Occult". I've seen Jhonn performing in
Amsterdam in the year 2000 and in Berlin a few years later. I've never
spoken to him out of shyness. There's nothing I regret more nowadays, but
it seems to me that this was necessary. There were those who had the key to
Coil (an elite or minority), and then there have been the 'fans'. I've
certainly belonged to the minority of those, who knew what Jhonn was
talking about. In many ways his life has been an example of a prophet in a
Blakean sense. We have seen a few of such seers. One example has been
Allen Ginsberg. But at the same time you could fill in the gap by saying
Jhonn Balance:

"He considered his role of poet-prophet as part of the miraculous tradition
of his creator, William Blake … He recognized that the Latin conception of
the poet as vates, the prophetic seer, fitted his own identity as a
divinely inspired poet who could now see below the surface of reality into
the very essence of existence. … When Ginsberg started searching through
Blake's writing for a model for his role as poet-prophet, he was startled
by Blake's insistence that … the art of the role of the poet was to help
his fellow men perceive the depths of reality. … Blake's prophet is not a
person who predicts the future; rather, the prophet sees deeper into the
meanings of things." (Portugés 1978: 65/66)“

Jhonn Balance was just such a man. I admire the work he has created with
Sleazy and I will never forget all the special moments, inspirations and
revelations I experienced whilst listening to Coil. "When you listen to Coil,
do you think of music?" was one of Coil's slogans. Well, when I listen to Coil
I think of magic(k). But Jhonn Balance's tragic death meant also a departing
for me on a magical level. In the past when I got 'into' magic(k)' I entered the
same chaotic place into which Jhonn has immersed himself totally: the
derangement of the senses, as Rimbaud called it. But after I have stared into
the abyss a few times – drug abuse like and otherwise – I knew that Jhonn's
sudden death was also a warning for me. Though his death had more to do
with his alcoholism than magic, I also believe that approaching magic like
Jhonn did (and many of us did probably) has certain dangers:

"Experience has shown that one's life is a reflection of spiritual
processes, and a magician's desire may be counter to his or her soul's
necessity, unless backed up by the order of the sacred world (echoed in the
soul) has temporary effects and often conspires to undo the fertile areas
of one's life. Therefore, magic is by no means the sole answer in the face
of life's greatest hardships (...)" (Travers 2008: The Serpent and the
Eagle
, p. 8f)

I also think that approaching magic without certain inner developments is a
very dangerous thing. Development of Self ahead of the development of sorcery
techniques (like casting sigils etc.) ensures that you will have the wisdom to
seek what you need more than what you merely think you want. My path is
now more towards a balance – a harmonious and more ordered way
of approaching the initiatory process rather than 'thee Chaotick Path', as it were.
To immerse oneself firmly in one's indigenous, 'natural' Tradition that one is born
into – being rooted in one's culture – gives a solidity, a real fundament, that I find
indispensable on a magical path (of course, you can do without – I don't deny
that). So, in a certain way, Jhonn's death was also a marking point for me to
leave the path I've been walking on and to turn away from 'Western Occultism'.
However, Jhonn Balance is a hero in my personal 'pantheon' of great individuals.
May he find his way back to Midgard in a transformed form.



"I don't want to be the one
When everyone has gone
When everyone is gone
I don't want to be the one
I don't want to be the one

I don't want to be the one
To see so far ahead
I have to live life looking back
To see the skies turn red

I don't want to be the one
To play this dangerous game
To find out why they came

I don't want to be the one
When everyone has gone
When everyone is gone
I don't want to be the one
I don't want to be the one
I don't want to be the one"



May the Gods Bless Thee,


Matt Anon.







 
 
This song has been played by the German band FORSETI and sung by Ian Read:

This is dedicated to my father, who died on April 11th 2008. Having fought communism, you are an example for all those, who fight for Freedom! I love you...

Empfindsamkeit

Siehst du der Felder Leuchten,
Wenn Tau im Morgenlicht
Berauscht vom Rot der Sonne
Durch junge Halme bricht.

Hörst du der Wälder Atem,
Der durch den Abend weht
Und fernen Sturm verkündet,
Der sich schon bald entlädt.

Spürst du die rauhe Rinde
An alter Esche Stamm.
Zerfurcht vom Weltenwandel,
Das Holz vom Nebel klamm.

Riechst du den Duft der Erde,
So regennaß und schwer.
Er strömt aus schwarzem Grunde,
Noch kahl und saatenleer.

Schmeckst du das Salz des Meeres
Im Wandel der Gezeiten.
Ein Sehnen nach der Ferne,
Nach unbekannten Weiten.

Kannst du im Traum erahnen
Verborgener Sinne Macht,
Die deinen Geist begleiten
Durch tiefe Erdennacht.
 
Liber OZ 10/25/2009
 
Aleister Crowley is an interesting subject of study to magicians. He is both: a failure and a success. Those who strive for the Divine within know that 'Homo est Deus'. I hereby declare that EVERY HUMAN IS FREE, if (s)he accepts the resposibilty of being a human. But then again, Man is God, as it were. Affix this to every church and every governmental building. Absorb this 'Zen Dogma': YOU ARE FREE!


"the law of
the strong:
this is our law
and the joy
of the world." AL. II. 2

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." --AL. I. 40

"thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay." --AL. I. 42-3

"Every man and every woman is a star." --AL. I. 3

There is no god but man.

1. Man has the right to live by his own law-- to live in the way that he wills to do:
to work as he will:
to play as he will:
to rest as he will:
to die when and how he will.

2. Man has the right to eat what he will: to drink what he will:
to dwell where he will:
to move as he will on the face of the earth.

3. Man has the right to think what he will: to speak what he will:
to write what he will:
to draw, paint, carve, etch, mould, build as he will:
to dress as he will.

4. Man has the right to love as he will:-- "take your fill and will of love as ye will,
when, where, and with whom ye will." --AL. I. 51 5. Man has the right to kill those who would thwart these rights. "the slaves shall serve." --AL. II. 58 "Love is the law, love under will." --AL. I. 57


 
 
I've been busy with my studies at university, so that little time remained for this blog. The situation won't change for the next year, but I will try to post something every now and then. Lastly I've been very involved with a paper on Seidhr (unfortunately in German). In this context I have interviewed some people involved in these practices of our ancestors. One of them has been Jan Fries. Though he has hardly any influence on my magick, there's been a time (nearly a decade ago) when his book Visual Magick has opened a few doors in my mind. It wasn't easy to get these answers to my questions as Jan's interest is not in academia, but rather in doing stuff! He avoids definition and language, which made the process of interviewing him in an academic context really hard. Formerly I intended to write about this, too, but now I decided to not bore you with this, so here's the interview:



Matt Anon: This interview is part of an academic investigation of the practices of Seidhr in the postmodern world. Could you tell me a little bit about your background in the area of magic(k) and/or Neo-Paganism and how you came to practice Seidhr?

Jan Fries: Magic is central to my life. I had my first dreams of Kâlî, Medusa, Lilith etc when I was a child (they usualyy scared me out of my head), learned basic self hypnosis, breathing exercises and vowel singing at the age of eleven from a friend of my grandmother, Dr. Gisela Eberlein, started to meditate in various ways around the age of fifteen, began with Yijing divination, astrology and martial arts at sixteen, rituals at eighteen and so on. My orientation has always been eclectic, I do not believe or subscribe to any tradition apart from 'find out for yourself'. I respect and appreciate aspects of a number religious, shamanic or magical systems, such as Huang Lao Daoism, early Chinese Wu shamanism, Tantric Kaula, Krama, Mahâcina, Haitian Voudou, non-Crowleyan Thelema, Ma'at Magick and reinterpret the local European pagan religions as I like. If forced to define the whole thing I would call it practical pantheism. However, I believe that the individual is a lot more important than any system, religion, cult or school. And if you have to stick a label to yourself to do your thing you ain't good enough yet.

As to getting into seidhr, well, I never did think about it. I simply noted that in a number of interesting trance- or obsession states, boddy tends to shudder, sway and shake. More so, it turned out that excitement increases the shaking and shaking can increase excitement. Both of them improve visualisation and produce a state of mind that may look uncontrolled or strange from the outside, but is actually quite focused and lucid from within. As I researched shaking trances worldwide, I found examples in Siberian, Napalese, Chinese, Korean and Japanese 'shamanism', in Indian Kaula, the Vedic vipra-seers, Haitian Voudou, a lot of African sorcery, the Mesmeric movement, the medieval Welsh seers and so on. And in one of the trances I had the insight that body is the cauldron while awareness is the seething fluid within. By changing the 'heat' (the excitement induced by imagination), the 'seething' of awareness can be controlled. It connected neatly with Simrock's translation od seidhr as Sudkunst, so I began researching 'shamanic' elements (or really techniques) in Viking literature. There are some very close parallels.

As I keep emphasising, my identification of seidhr with shaking or trembling trances is hypothetical.

Nor do I claim to teach seidhr, for the simple reason that I don't know what seidhr really is. After all, Nordic literature on the topic was composed by people who were usually Christian, badly informed or even hostile to the art. And the sources contradict each other. There is not a single statement by anyone who actually practiced seidhr. While we all may guess what seidhr was really all about by emphasising one source and ignoring another, I believe the main thing is not the word seidhr but how people can change their consciousness. The Nordic mystique is just one frame of reference, a useful metaphor if you like. The fact is that seers and healers have used shaking, swaying and rhythmic body motions at least since the Rig Veda was compiled, and regardless whether we call it seidhr or anything else, it happens work.


Matt: Where does Seidhr come from? What was Seidhr in the past and what is Seidhr today?

Jan: Where my impression of seidhr comes from was outlined above. Historically, Viking seidhr seems to have counterparts in the skohsl dances of the Goths and the 'shamanism' of the Sami. Not to mention a number of ecstatic trance elements in medieval Island Celtic lore, such as Theo awenyddion which Giraldus Cambrensis daw in Wales, or the frenzied bards at king Maelgwynn's court (according to Gildas). Such matters are discussed at length in Seidways.

What seidhr is today? I have no idea. All I know is that a number of people do things they call seidhr. You better ask them.


Matt: Why do you think Seidhr should be practiced? What does result from practicing Seidhr?

Jan: Why I think seidhr should be practiced? I don't. Do you think mountaineering should be practiced? Do you think everybody should go diving?

Look, trancing is not suited to everyone. I don't know about seidhr, as I don't know what reidhr really is, but I do know that some people get along perfectly with shaking trances and others don't. It's an advanced trance requiring good health and sanity and I would suggest before anyone went into it, a couple of years of regular meditation and daily physical exercise are wise. Nor do I think that shaking trances are a must. There are so many ways of changing consciousness. People do it all Theo time. They get excited or angry, they fall in love, worry or feel sad. The

human nervous system has an enormous abilitx for developing and maintaining highly unique consciousness states. You can use 'shamanic' methoda, including dancing, shaking, drumming, chanting etc., or maybe Yoga, using posture, breathing, mantra, visualisation, or you could just sit down, induce a deep trance and change your brain rhythms, chemistry and the flow of energy in your body. It's easy. All of these are conveniences. They produce different states of consciousness, but what happens in them, and how you use (or abuse) them depends entirely on you.

The only thing which I would recommend for other people is to learn how to think and make good feeling. We could do with more happy feelings in this world. When you are happy you make better decisions, and that leads to being even happier. Fellings don't just happen, they can be learned and made.


Matt: What sources have inspired you to take up the practice of Seidhr? What sources have you studied / read?

Jan: Theo sources that inspired me can all be looked up in my bibliographies provided one isn't too lazy.


Matt: Do you think one has to speak Old Norse or has to study the original sources to be able to practice Seidhr?

Jan: I don't think one has to learn specific languages to practice any sort of magic or consciousness changing. A couple of hundred words of special terminology, sure. Learning languages is fun, but not essential. It's different when the literature happens to be untranslated. I learned bronze age Chinese as most of the inscriptions have not been translated into European languages. Now some people need old languages for the feeling. Others dress up in costumes, or redecorate their homes. Well and good. Anything that works is fine.

As to the practice of 'old seidhr' well, even with Old Norse you won't be sure what thaz really was about.


Matt: Despite the fact that the term 'shamanism' is itself controversial outside the context of Siberian shamanism, do you believe that Seidhr is a kind of 'Northern Shamanism'? Does Seidhr feature shamanistic elements?

Jan: If we use 'shamanism' in the common, Eliade-type definition (which I am not too happy about) as a loose term for ecstatic consciousness changing healing trance ritualism, sure, there are parallels. Read them up in my books. Personally, I am not too fond of the term as it was used in such a sloppy way by a few anthropologists and a lot of fakes. So if we have to use it, then only in want for a better term. I prefer to speak of shamanic techniques, which you find in many cultures, than of shamanism, which is such a wide (or narrow) field of cultural activity that I wouldn't like to define it at all. Instead of looking for what people call themselves (or others) I prefer to learn what they do, how they do it, how it works and what it is good for.


Matt: What are the differences between shamanism and Seidhr? What are the specifics of Seidhr?

Jan: We had these questions earlier. You tell me what these two things are. What is 'shamanism' and what is 'seidhr'? One term is too vague and the other refers to a phenomenon we don't know much about, and that is questionable. So please tell me. When you've done that you can look for differences and similarities. Or do something worthwhile for a change.


Matt: Do you consider Seidhr as part of the 'Northern Tradition' / Teutonic-Germanic Religion?

Jan: I don't know what you or anybody else understands as 'Northern Tradition / Teutonic-Germanic religion. In my opinion there are wide differences between the beliefs of various Vikings (about which we know far too little), the prehistoric so-called Germans (about which we know even less) let alone whatever you consider 'Teutonic'. As I recall the Teutons spoke a Celtic language. So just what are you talking about?


Matt: What is the role of women in Seidhr? Is Seidhr somehow more connected to women?

Jan: Yes, we all read that bit about Odin teaching seidhr to Freya and Theo goddesses. So what? There are a number of seidhrwomen in Theo sagas, just as there are women in many forms of 'shamanism'. And sure, Tacitus also had his say. Well and good, but I really don't care. I don't believe in gender or race, I believe in individuals. As far as I'm concerned, souls don't have a gender. They get one when they are born, but may have a different one in Theo next life. So Theo only thing I can say is that when it comes to shaking (which may or may not be part of seidhr), in my experience women tend to learn it faster. Simply because of gender roles. Males usually learn to freeze their hisps (to use a metaphor courtesy of Wilhelm Reich) in western cultures, and this can make shaking more difficult. But what does this amount to? Tension can be relaxed and shaking is possible regardless of gender. Just like any other trance state.


Matt: Is it 'unmanly' to practice Seidhr? What does that say about the role of men and women in (ancient) Germanic culture? How is this seen in (post)modern Neo-Paganism / Ásatrú?

Jan: I don't know anything about modern, postmodern or postmortal Asatru, as I don't belong to any such organisation. I know that some people got quite excited discussing the meaning of argr-, you can find my interpretation in Seidways and Helrunar. And I've heard people mixing the matter with trans-sexual behaviour and getting carried away discussing whether homosexuals could be pagans or whatever. Frankly, I don't care. For me, the whole issue isn't what any organisation says. It's about you, on your own, experience in your contact with the divine, whatever you call it and however you contact it. And how it improves your life. Cults, organisations, churches, dogmas etc. only get in the way of true experience.


Matt: Germanic Neo-Heathenism has been often accused of being racist / right-wing? Why do you think that is the case? Can descendents of non-European cultures be part of Ásatrú?

Jan: I believe that (at least some people) get reborn (unless they don't want to), and that any capable sorcerer should live in several distinct cultures. I don't believe that the concept 'race' means anything. 'Culture' or 'subculture' may be slightly more meaningful, as you can join or leave them as you like. We are talking categories here. This is a long way from real life. And regarding politics, I cannot say anything about groups I don't belong to. I can only say that politics and religion are usually a bad combination, as they make even more stupid than they already are.


Matt: Why do you think so many people feel attracted to Neo-Paganism today (including Wicca, Druidry & Ásatrú)?

Jan: One major reason for the increase of new faiths is that people are not satisfied with the old ones any more. But then, it has always been that way. There has always been an urge to commune or unite with the divine (no matter how you call it), and whenever people organised to do so they defined themselves, they included some and excluded others, and as we happen to inhabit mammalian bodies, they also organised group behaviour in terms of territory, hierarchy and finally power poltics and money. By then, other people got fed up and invented their own faiths. It happens all the time.


Matt: Finally, what answers does Heathenism / Paganism have to the condition of the modern world (including modern challenges like climate change, overpopulation, financial crisis etc.)? In which way does it help to improve the conditio humana? (I would also like to ask in this context: Why is it 'better' than the monotheistic cults?)

Jan: In a world which is steadily becoming more integrated regarding communication, travel, trade, work, culture, art etc., poly- and pantheism make communication with other faiths and cultures easier than a monotheistic attitude does. Especially a narrow-minded monotheistic attitude, as in the first commandment. But that's really all. I don't believe 'Heathenism / Paganism' have any answers to anything. There ain't such thing. It's just two words you put together as if they were meaningful. Words, words, words. We are not talking churches or politics, we are talking people. And we don't talk them either. They all have their own answers. Ask them. And listen.



 
 

To the brave may come the vision of the Valkyrie.
                                                                  Dave Lee


The pathways lead us on since the screaming Lord awoke
Some heed unto the Need when the secret keys were spoke

The bridge wends ever on into worlds both dark and bright
Some hear the inner voice where the silence speaks aright

The journey has no end since such was never meant
Some feel beyond the veil where the ashen spear was lent

                                                                 FIRE + ICE



The following description of the PROCESS that the Elder Futhark embodies, is purely SUBJECTIVE. I neither claim that my description of the Futhark is 'true' in any objective sense nor that it is of any value to anyone else than me. So why present it to others? Well, I would like to think that it inspires others how Runes can be applied on a individual level beyond the general presentation of each Rune as an 'isolate', seperate Stave.

A few years ago, when I was doing STAV with a few companions, I was taught to go through a series of 'Tai Chi'-like movements of which every one was a Rune Stadha (but we were doing this with the Younger Futhark). I'd like to think of doing this with the Elder Futhark as a means of actualizing the whole cosmogonic process (that the Futhark embodies) in oneSelf. One could also sing through the whole Futhark or do the Stadhas & sing the Runes simultaneously. The idea behind this is to anchor the Runes in one's psyche, so that they can become associated with certain states of consciousness. Of course, it's necessary to do some research and Runic Meditations before one can go through the whole Futhark. But after having stated the obvious I'd like to suggest the idea that the cosmogonic process (the 'creation' of the world) is not something that has happened once in a distant past, but that it is an ongoing process. It's what Goethe called „dieses 'Stirb-und-Werde'“ („this 'Die-and-Become'“) that the Runic Process can symbolize and stimulate in the psyche of the seeker. Further I like the idea from Jewish Mysticism that „in the beginning was the Word“. As Galdor is a form of verbal Magic and each Rune Sound (I especially think of the „Kernel-Sounds“ as Thorsson calls them in Rune-Song, p. 33/34) is associated with a certain 'cosmic' / magical (cosmogonic ?) energy, it follows that each time we sing consciously the Runes with full concentration, we create the world(s) anew. Magic is then the methodology of re-arranging the world(s) (within or without) by projecting the sonic & visual energy of a particular (combination of) Rune(s) into the cosmos at will.

One word about the Übermensch: I was thinking about my use of the word 'Übermensch' in the Third Aett and if it could disturb some readers. But given the fact that the readers of Elhaz Ablaze are surely not 'mainstream' & must be rather anarchic spirits, it should follow that you are not 'brainwashed' by mainstream media. 'Übermensch' (superman) doesn't imply the idea of 'Untermensch' (subhuman). The latter is a perverted creation of the Nazis, not Nietzsche himself. The opposite of 'Übermensch' is not the 'Untermensch', but 'Mensch' (human). It's my conviction that the Elder Futhark describes an 'evolutionary' process on several levels: the cosmonogonic / cosmological and psychological / spiritual level. The ultimate aim of the Elder Futhark on the psychological / spiritual level is, perhaps, the Immortalization of the Soul / Consciousness of the vitki. Such a magician could be considered as a human being that has reached a divine level of existence and all traditions of ancient wisdom have some kind of a word for such beings, for example Xian (in Daoism), Bodhisattva (in Tibetan Buddhism), or Einherjar (in our Heathenism Tradition). I consider the word 'Übermensch' as an accurate term, because such a Rune Master is considered to have reached a level that is more than human (which doesn't mean that he isn't a human anymore). Yes, of course, this is speculation! It's my opinion, personal belief, UPG ('Unverified Personal Gnosis') – whatever you want call it, dear. My ideas below are inspired by several sources mixed with my own intuition. The sources include diverse artists (bands) & authors like Fire + Ice, Death In June, Ironwood, Chris Travers, Leon D. Wild, Dave Lee, Jan Fries, Sweyn Plowright and Norbert (who taught me STAV for a while). However, the foremost inspiration has been the body of work created by Edred Thorsson – and, of course, my 'Deep Mind'.

Each Aett has a certain 'feeling' attatched to it & represents a certain level of Initiation. I have given every Rune a 'sentence' that I somehow associated with each Rune in some of my Runic Meditations (some of them are taken from the lyrics, in part or as a whole, from the bands mentioned above). Then I try to put every Rune in the context of a certain stage of development. The First Aett describes the cosmogonic process (more or less), then I 'jump' from that macrocosmic to the microcosmic level (this happens somewhere inbetween Kenaz, Gebo & Wunjo). Please keep in mind that this description is not at all a final piece, but rather a fragment that reflects a part of my understanding of the Runes. Please regard it as an exercise in 'poetry' rather than a metaphysical interpretation of the Runes. At some point, it has been suggested, one should write one's own Rune Poem. I haven't yet reached that point. However, here we go!


THE FIRST AETT (The Beginning of the Universe / Spiritual Childhood):

FEHU („Eternal Fire. My Being broadens itself over the Vastness of Space!“):

Fehu is the primal movement, the ever extending fire emanating from Muspelsheimr. This eternal extention becomes

URUZ („UR-Form and Form-Giver. I begin to wax and thrive!“):

Uruz is the vital force that shapes all things. Audhumla is licking the Giant Ymir out of the frost that emerged from Niflheimr. As the forms are eternally shaped by Uruz, another force originates:

THURISAZ („Shifter and Resistance-Breaker. My Will is Coming Into Being!“):

Thurisaz is the necessary agent that breaks through all resistance. The three forces of Fehu-Uruz-Thurisaz are so primal, chaotic and ancient that they can only be perceived – in the context of cosmogonic processes - as 'blind', unconscious, gigantic movements.

ANSUZ („Ancestral God-Conscioussness. I Give myself to mySelf Eternally!“):

It's only now that the first consciousness emerges in this evolutionary process that becomes conscious of itself (the First God, Odhinn) - this is the mystery of Ansuz. The triad Odhinn-Vili-Vé dismembers Ymir & creates the universe. This results in

RAIDHO („Holy Order. Rightly I Ride Along the Runic Roads!“):

Raidho - the Holy Order emerges from the sacred consciousness of Odhinn-Vili-Vé. From the Holy Order enflames the spark of knowledge and creativity.

KENAZ („Controlled Fire. I enflame the Holy Spark.!“):

Kenaz is the Promethean Fire given from the Gods to Men. Thus, for example, the discovery of making fire reflects man's divine ability to use knowledge creatively, which leads to new skills that man continually develops and improves. This is the realm and power of Kenaz. It is also the fire of passion and sexuality, which leads to ecstasy when controlled and used wisely.

GEBO („The triple Gift. The more I Give, the more I Get!“)

Man receives the triple gift (Gebo) from the Gods: the Body (Lík) symbolized by the Tree is ensouled by Life-Breath (Önd) & Consciousness (Ódhr). „Wind and Thought have shaped the Trees.“ (Ian Read) As man fully develops these faculties he reaches

WUNJO („Strength Through Joy, Joy Through Strength. I balance the forces within mySelf!“):

Wunjo represents a perfectly balanced & harmonious state that the aspiring vitki experiences as Joy. Wunjo also embodies the sacred bond of friendship and the Joy experienced in a community. Man is a social animal, but the Runer must necessarily be also a lonely wolf.

Here, in the First Aett, man is spiritually still innocent. The end of this process, Wunjo, is the aim of the naive mystic and in a negative aspect this state can become the obsession for the wooly cotton- brained New-Age romancer. But to the Rune Magician Wunjo is only a necessary requisite.


THE SECOND AETT (The 'Catastrophes' & Ordeals of the Magician / Spiritual Maturation):

HAGALAZ („Crisis Leads to Enlightenment. Hail the White Grain!“):

Man's spiritual childhood is interrupted by a shock that initiates a process of transpersonal growth & spiritual maturity. Hagalaz is the seed of destruction that has encoded in it the seed of enlightenment: the Hail-Stone.

NAUDHIZ („Need-Fire. Seeker, overcome thyself!“):

Naudhiz represents the hardship of life. The Need-Fire is created. This is the necessary friction to test the will of the magician. Finally, it brings progress in his magickal development.

ISA („Silence of Ice. Silence all the senses and listen to the Voice of Silence!“):

In the process of these distressful transformations the vitki must find a silent place within himSelf. By cultivating silence the magician finds a resourceful state within him that is the Region of Pure Will. Thus he develops a mature sense of self without an excessive ego („body armor“). However, nothing ever remains the same...

JERA („Cycles within Cycles. Through Faith in mySelf and my Rhythm I move easily through the Cycles of Life!“):

The vitki realizes that for everything there is a season. As he sows so shall he reap. By observing the cycles of nature he learns about the cosmic 'laws'. He realizes that the processes in the macrocosmos mirror operations of the microcosmos (his soul). They become allegorical, alchemical keys that bring forth procedures to explore the soul. Thus he finds the World-Tree...

EIHWAZ („Yggdrasil, Pattern of the Worlds. The Fire of the Yew brings Immortality to my Soul!“):

The vitki wanders between the worlds and is taught the mysteries of Life and Death: Eihwaz – Great Initiator! Here he learns about the worlds and their 'laws'.

PERTHRO („The Three Norns. I Weave my Wyrd with Mighty Deeds!“):

Perthro teaches about the Wyrd and Orlög. Understanding his Wyrd the magician knows there is only one thing worth pursuing: to strive for the Divine within. This is the mystery of

ELHAZ („I strive for my Higher Self. Elhaz Ablaze!“):

Elhaz expresses Man's longing for the Higher Self. This leads man along the thunderbolt-path, along the serpentine spiral (the shape of Sowilo), to his divine consciousness. Elhaz ignites the Holy Fire of

SOWILO („Eternal Sun, Guide me along the Serpentine Path to the Knowledge of my True Self!“):

Sowilo: the sacred, silent, synthesizing Self is experienced fully for the first time! Here the goal & the way are the same. The Sacred Self is the aim of the magician, but it is also the necessary requisite to travel along the initiatory path without the danger to get lost & become mad. One of the very fascinating features of Runic Mysticism is the fact that this is not the end of the spiritual journey. Rather it's another beginning.


THE THIRD AETT (The Great Initiations of the Rune Master / Spiritual 'Übermensch'):

The third Aett shows the Path of the Rune-Master and his Great Initiations...

TIWAZ („Supporter of Heaven, Mighty Pillar of the Sky God!“):

Tyr is the Lord of Law and the Guardian of the Holy Order. The Irminsul is established from within to without. The transcendent centre within the psyche must be fully established – the esoteric location that some German Rune Magicians of the early 20th century have called 'Thule'.

BERKANO („Pregnant Mother, Container of Strength!“):

Berkano teaches secret growth, the process of Becoming, Being, Decaying and 'Rebirthing' is used for the power of the magician. Thus he becomes aware of the Other within. Our ancestors have thought of that quality as a Being independet of the magician's Self:

EHWAZ („The Golden Wedding. I strive for the Alchemical Marriage!“):

This is „the lonely path towards the eightlegged steed“ (Ian Read). The Fylgja / Valkyrie reveals herself to the vitki. He's on the cutting-edge of overcoming Death. Marr er manns fylgja („The Horse is the Fetch of Man“).

MANNAZ („Consciousness is Holy. What is Whole, is Holy!“) :

The bipolar structure of man's consciousness reflects the divine origin of the human psyche. The conscious Mind / Intellect (Hughr) and Remembrance / Intuition (Myne) unite and are enflamed with Inspiration by the Wode-Self. The Well of Urdhr streams eternally from 'below' (Jung's 'Collective Unconsciouss' / Myne) to 'above' (the Hughr). Thus the 'super-consciousness' (Roberto Assagioli) is created at the centre between those three faculties (Hughr, Myne, Wode).

LAGUZ („The Waters of Eternity open up. Flow Along the Runic Rivers!“):

Laguz is the final test. The ancient waters of Life-Force, the Ur-Waters streaming from Niflheimr, pervade man's Mind, where the accumulation of wisdom & his transpersonal growth become an endless process, if he's on the path of the Rune Magician, because Laguz is a crucial point. I would like to define the path of the magician against the path of the mystic here (for the sake of playing around with ideas):

You could say that these forces – Laguz – are so strong that the sense of Self will be absorbed by the ancient waters (the path of the mystic). Mystics often speak of this experience as an 'oceanic feeling' (cosmic consciousness). One could say that the mystic cures his fear of death by confronting Nothingness (Dave Lee). He gives in & submits his sense of Self to the Life-Force (Laguz); the cosmic Ur-Waters of Laguz 'consume' him. He looses his individuality & dissolves into that Cosmic Ocean like a drop of rain. From the mystic's point of view the following happens: He realizes that he has no individuality, it's an illusion – he has always been the Ocean. Thus he looses all fear. In the context of this article, I want to argue that, if any mystic could follow that initiatic path so far, his journey ends here.

The magician instead has to 'seperate' his Ek from that turmoil, because magick is about control. LHP magicians are control freaks! But this Ek is not the ego at all, as Dave Lee so aptly demonstrates in his Master Work Bright from the Well. Rather it is Spare's Kia, Verdhrfölnir or the 'Ultimate Observer' (de Ropp's 'Fourth Room' or Lilly's 'Center of the Cyclone' or Osho's 'The Watcher on the Hill'). To stay in the metaphor from above: The rain drop does not dissolve and mingle with the Cosmic Ocean, but remains its individuality.

INGWAZ („The Principle of Wihaz. Gestation and Transformation. Man, Become God!“):

By isolating himself from all these changes around him, the vitki starts a controlled process of absolute transformation. The storage of the Life-Force of Laguz leads to the gestation of the Seed of Immortality. This seed becomes the 'Body of Light' (or what the Vajrayana-Buddhists call the 'Diamond Body'). „Man finds his Ing (Rune Games, Osborn & Longland).

DAGAZ („The Morning of the Magician. Atheling, Awake!“):

Dagaz dawns as the darkly shining Noxia-Licht („Night-Light“) of Enlightenment. This Rune is central to the understanding of the essence of Odhinn. Dagaz leads directly to the synthesis of all polar extremes. It's the Paradox that lies at the centre of the Mystery of Wodhanaz. By uniting the opposites (f.e. 'Man' & 'Woman') a third thing is born (f.e. a 'Child'). This is an eternal process. The journey has no end since such was never meant.

OTHALA („Eternal Soul. I, the Winged Ing, repossess my own Space!“):

Othala represents the individuated psyche (in a Jungian sense). This is man's reclaimed estate of kingly existence, his Immortal Soul. „There are Thrones underground and Monarchs upon them.“ (Coil)

Putting Dagaz as the last Rune of the Futhark could symbolize that the process of 'uniting the opposites', that finally leads to what has been called enlightenment, is eternal and never-ending. On the other hand as Fehu symbolizes movable possession (the extension of the Self), Othala represents the end of this process, symbolized by the 'rewon' kingly estate (the perfected Self).

I'm in the beginning of learning Galdor. It seems to be a very difficult art. The Runes - the 'tools' of Galdor - seem to be of such a mysterious nature that they never can be understood fully. When you move nearer to them, they seem to move further away from you. This lies at the centre of the mystery of Runa. It has been said that the fatalistic acceptance of the fact that Runa will never be fully grasped is the hallmark of a true Odian (a seeker who does not worship Odhinn, but rather emulates the way of Odhinn). Such a vitki explores the dark magick of the Germanic LHP. Let me conclude with the words of a magician, whose words never fail to illuminate my mind:

"In galdor-type magic, the self is fully-conscious at the moment of projection of the will. In other words, the magical self extends its will at the same time the observing self sees it all happen. The observing self is unfazed by the focus of the magical  self - context is not lost, even though the magical self is in a narrow, focused, fanatical state. This is the nature of this kind of magic – that the observing self is present throughout it, and that the consciousness of the wizard is doubled.
So, what we are really developing in our magical work is the ability to split our attention in this way, to bring the observer-perspective into even our most passionate and intense trances. The path of the magician emphasizes both the transcendent and the immanent, worldly aspects of life, in contrast to the way of the mystic, who seeks to transcend the whole show."
(Dave Lee, Bright from the Well, p. 134)

Reyn til Runa.




 
 

The following article was intended as my first one for Elhaz Ablaze. Somehow I never finished it. But as Elhaz Ablaze has had its birthday a few days ago, I think it makes sense to write my own story how I came to call myself a Chaos Heathen. The first time I read about Chaos Heathenism and the explanation of it written by Henry I felt that it resonated with my being very strongly. Though I personally think that one-word descriptions (or two words in that case) cannot really express who I am and how I feel, I still think that the term Chaos Heathenism is really a gem.

„Why Chaos? Why Heathenism? And what is Heathenism anyway?“, I heard some of my friends ask. Friends of mine – most of them – don't call themselves anything and, if they are religious (or spiritual, as most of them would prefer that term), they don't like the idea of belonging to some kind of philosophy and/or religion. So, what is Heathenism? (I know that most readers of Elhaz Ablaze already have a very clear conception of what Heathenism is.) Basically, I think that Heathenism is the 'religion' of our ancestors. But it's not really a religion, it's more a way of life, or to be even more accurate, a 'way of doing'. However, this way of doing is based on certain philosophical / 'religious' concepts that imply powerful truths about the nature of reality and consciousness. To me personally Heathenry is really about roots (RE-connecting with your ancestors & the ancestral, primal root of consciousness – ANSUZ), the interconnectedness of everything (Wyrd) and about a living, 'ensouled' universe/multiverse with which humans can communicate by interacting with 'beings' that are imagined as gods, elves, dwarfs & other mythical beings (Esoteric Runology). And, of course, Heathenry is about values (like honour & loyalty), where one's deeds & words count for something.

But the values of our ancestors implied also a very different approach to the Divine. I've been raised as a Catholic and to me God has always been associated with fear (to some degree). Heathenry is very different from such an attitude. The arch-heathen would be able to argue, laugh & talk with his / her Gods. There were also Heathens that only believed in their own 'might and main' – rather than in any Gods. But the difference between such an arch-heathen and a modern atheist would be the basic feeling about the universe. The modern atheist basically feels that the world around him is without any meaning (except the one attatched to it by the individual), while the arch-heathen felt a mystical 'web' of mystery surrounding him/her and carrying the very fabric of his/her existence (cp. Jan de Vries: Die geistige Welt der Germanen). This is the huge difference, from which very different attitudes towards life and its possibilities arise. This includes a very different attitude towards death, too.

I'd argue (like Edred Thorsson in his brilliant The Northern Dawn – a must-read for anyone, who believes that the heathen worldview is somehow lost and not accessible to us anymore) that modern atheism and its most intelligent and sensitive articulation, existentialism, is a consequence of the monotheistic cult, Christianity. The Kristjan (old way of spelling Christian) worldview NEVER suited to the European 'soul' – our ways of thinking & feeling, fighting & loving, doing & being – and it was only a matter of time until it deconstructed itself. Further, what appears Kristjan on the surface is often Heathen beneath its appearance (Yul / Xmass, the Xmass Tree, Easter, Easter Eggs etc. etc.). And many early Kristjan ideas have been 'germanized' just to fit to the Heathen mind! Otherwise many Kristjan ideas wouldn't have been even understood by our Heathen ancestors. Consider how brutal and cunning the Kristjans have been just to realize, why they have converted to a creed that has been totally alien to them. After these important considerations have been 'digested', it doesn't appear so weird anymore (though it's certainly Wyrd), why being a Heathen in these modern times is like 'coming home' or 'becoming who you are', rather than just following another foreign cult and/or religion. So, to put it in plain view: when (young) people feel the sacredness of nature, or feel drawn to magic(k) or the Runes or pagan deities asf., I consider all these manifestations as authentic expressions of Self – our Heathen 'soul'.

But then, why Chaos? First of all, the Chaos perspective just admits that the world has changed dramatically since our Heathen forebears lived on this planet and we cannot (and do not want to) turn back the clock. Our ancestors have been so succesful, because they were pragmatic and knew how to adapt to new challenges. Otherwise they wouldn't have survived and we woulden't BE HERE NOW (this being a mantra to achieve a state of real wakefulness :-). The chaos perspective allows us to draw new inspirations from different contexts as we are able today to connect with and elect from many ideas, philosophies, magics, techniques & cultures that surround us materially and virtually. So I don't consider it as 'untrue', when I find myself 'working with' Ganesha or Kali (or any other deity I feel drawn to) and/or when I am exploring magical paradigms/techniques/ideas that are not part of the Heathen Lore. (Though, honestly said, I'm beginning to become very sceptical of 'working with' Gods from different cultures as this approach of 'working with Gods' seems to be disrespectful to other cultures and to the deities themselves. However, this is a topic for another article...) But there is another aspect: the chaos magickal or freestyle 'shamanic' approach just suits to many of us rather than a strict, ceremonial way of doing magick (though I tend to like both & lean a little bit more towards a strict way of doing rituals). I'd argue with Freya Aswynn that the Northern Tradition is far more in harmony with chaos magick than a Western 'Ritual Magic' approach.

"The magical arts of the Northern peoples covered a wide spectrum of activity, all of which was purely practical. There was none of the Qabalists' occupation with building a stairway to the Deity, no Golden Dawn mysticism. It was, as the poet T. S. Eliot so aptly put it, 'designed to produce definite results, such as getting a cow out of a bog'. If it bears a resemblance to any modern magical system then the most likely candidate is Chaos Magic...“ (F. Aswynn: The Northern Magical Tradition. In: The Fenris Wolf, Issue No. 3 (1993), ed. Carl Abrahamsson, Psychick Release Production Cerebrum & Press, Stockholm.)

I personally like the idea that Galdor represents a more 'strict' way of working magick and that Seidhr equals the chaos magick approach. However, a Chaos Heathen is someone who doesn't deny his/her many 'selves' and will move on to new horizons of understanding. This should be reflected in one's own magickal practice. For example, if one still uses the same approach to sorcery after some years of practice, this would reflect that no real progress has taken place. For me Chaos Heathenry just expresses an attitude that allows for more experimentation, free exploration and an undogmatic, fresh perspective. A chaos heathen won't bother too much about debates that 'it isn't historically proven' to use Runes or Seidhr in such-and-such a way. S/he knows also that it's not much that we know and that the way historical information is interpreted & presented always reflects the individual agendas of the persons using them. That doesn't mean that I as a Chaos Heathen dismiss Tradition, but that I believe that one of the cornerstones of that Tradition has been innovation and a creative spirit – not orthodoxy (being a rather Kristjan obsession). Of course we have to avoid New Age nonsense. But we don't want to fall into the trap of dogmatism either. There is no 'one right way' of walking the Runic Path. The Lord of Light & the Drighten of Darkness HimSelf was/is a couragous, creative, innovative explorer & shape-shifter, wandering restlessly between the worlds, always ready to look behind the curtain and to find a new secret. I think that to emulate this spirit in the here-and-now is more noble than to try to live in the distant path of our ancestors. If Othinn was alive as a human being today, he would be a Chaos Heathen. May His Power be Mighty amongst us!

Hail Chaos! Viva Loki! Aum Wotan!

 
 


We moderns have nothing whatsoever of our own; only by replenishing and cramming ourselves with the ages, customs, arts, philosophies, religions, discoveries of others do we become anything worthy of notice.
                                                                     
                                                                      
Friederich Nietzsche 

 


                           Exit all legends, enter the laws of magick.

                                                                      Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

 

 

"You got no love in your heart. When you got no dreaming, no story, you got nothing", an Aborigine says to the hero in a movie called ‘Australia’ (the movie is crap, but I’m used to look for gold in shit). The aborigines have a very mysterious concept that they call dream time, this is the mythical & magical time, where the ancestors still live & sing and every thing has a ‘song’ attached to it: rocks, trees, bushes asf. – all have a ‘song’. And the initiated sorcerer of the Australian natives can communicate with these ‘things’ by singing their songs (a form of verbal magic, in Norse magic represented by Galdor). Here we are once again confronted with the holistic vision of a sacred landscape, where everything is interconnected & alive – a worldview that was also common to our European ancestors (or wherever your ancestors come from). This vision is contrary to the modern myths created by the visions of Descartes & 'Newton’s sleep' (William Blake). Both of them had literally visions. Descartes’ thinking has been influenced, for example, by his dreams & Newton has been an occultist, who has received his vision of the mechanistic ‘clockwork universe’ from an ‘Angel’ of the Enochian system of magick ‘invented’ by Dr. John Dee. Their visions are the stories about the universe we are brought up with. (If you have really bad karma you have been brought up with Kristjan stories about the universe :-). They do not stem from dream time, but from the modern myth of linear time. ('Our enemies are material. Our enemies are direction and fact. Our enemies are Because.' GP-O)

Anyway, what really strikes me is the idea how much power a story has over our lives and that – since nobody owes the absolute truth, if such a mysterious thing exists at all – all religions, philosophies, myths, histories, fictions and movies are essentially stories, stories we tell ourselves or that are told to us. Of course, this is a postmodern attitude that I am extremely wary of as it includes the risk of fundamentalist relativism and an ‘epistemological hypochondria’ (Geertz), where ‘anything goes’ and thus real knowledge becomes impossible anymore. But everything has two faces and there are also great advantages, when one uses POMO thought in a critical & self-conscious fashion.

"Post-modern research … embodies a critique of the conventional logical positivist discourse derived from rationalist Enlightenment philosophy, which privileges the European, male, individual subject and the indisputable authority of scientific explanatory frameworks.” (Robert J. Wallis 2003: Shamans / Neo-Shamans – Ecstasy, alternative archaeologies and contemporary Pagans,
p. 2).


I think this critique is a necessary step, if one really wants to understand the local knowledge of a native people, like the Aboriginal tradition (or our Heathen tradition). This means, too, that to select carefully a few essential tenets of postmodern philosophy can bring about changes in attitudes, values, perceptions, and worldviews that help us to heal the wounds between ‘whites’ and the peoples we have hurt (see Henry’s article Culture, Genocide and Whingers). More generally speaking, such a ‘paradaigm shift’ on a grand scale can help us to heal the wounds between humanity and the Earth Spirit (Anima Mundi). Further, the positive effects of postmodernism can be, if used wisely, that we deny to follow 'universal rules' (of life, art, philosophy, or anything else). And those who have the will and determination can choose pathways to individual fulfilment & self-empowerment based on the story (‘paradigm’) chosen or created by themselves, instead of following the universal appeal or supposed authority of a story they were told to believe (be it religious metaphysics or scientific materialism, or whatever your favourite mental prison is). If something feels internally authentic & right, it’s the way to go. For us Chaos Heathens / Pagans this attitude makes it possible to liberate us to return to the trú traditions of our ancestors in new, exciting, and creative ways, in ways that adapt and apply the ancient wisdom to the circumstances and the Need (in the sense of Nauthiz) of our times.

However, to me storytelling is a form of magick and a form of knowledge. Imagine a tribe 10,000 years ago in a dark forest at night. You can hear the wolves howl, and you hear the strange sounds of other dangerous animals, above you the stars and a full moon. Only a little bonfire enlightens the night and you sit there in a circle with your comrades, the shaman of your tribe – a miraculous man with special powers, who is treated with awe by all men of the tribe – sits with you there and tells wyrd stories of cosmic, uncontrollable and daunting forces, of Fire and Ice generating the events that created the universe. He tells you about Ymir, the bipolar Giant, dismembered by the mighty Gods, Odhinn (Master of Ecstasy), Vili (Sacred Will) & (Hollowed Space), who made order (Futhark) out of the totality of existence (Ginnung) and shaped the first man & woman, Askr and Embla, out of trees (!), giving them the triple Gift (Gebo) of human shape (Lík), life-breath (Önd = Prana, Chi, Libido) and (divine) consciousness (Ódhr). His stories tell you about the adventurous journeys and brave deeds of heroes that are your direct ancestors, whom maybe your dead great-grandfather met personally, when he was a child. These journeys of those heroes turn into ordeals & initiations, where they gain insights into the mysteries and cycles of birth, life, death & rebirth. These stories are strange allegories that illumine your understanding of the world surrounding you. They give you heroic models of behaviour that help you to live in an honourable way. Our shaman from 10,000 years ago is a storyteller. He creates a sense of self, of who and where you are. He gives codes of meaning & an intelligence to your life that makes you aware of the interconnectedness that the Web (Wyrd) woven by the Three Norns originates. Magick is possible here – you are not alone, disconnected & alienated from the world!

But 10,000 years later these stories of old are not told to us anymore. They became myths in a negative sense, fantasies of stupid, uneducated, brutish barbarians. The modern stories describe such states of consciousness (as mentioned above) as being ‘primitive’, ‘infantile’ and ‘wishful thinking’. They are something that must be ‘overcome’ by logical & scientific thinking. The French ethnologist Lévy-Bruhl interprets such a healing and wholesome state of unitary consciousness in a negative sense as participation mystique and the Austrian psychoanalyst Freud called this ‘magical thinking’ (based on his idea of primary narcissism). ‘Magical thinking’ is the belief that a person can impact reality by wishing or willpower.  Such a belief demonstrates a belief in the self as powerful and able to change external realities. To put it shortly, magical thinking is in many ways what I strive for! For many years now, I try to decondition myself from this vision of ‘flatland’ logic by psychedelic drugs, meditation and magick (more or less successfully until now :-). Though in the long run POMO thinking is not at all ‘magic-friendly’ and, though the whole POMO current has created in many areas a body of knowledge of rather dubious value, I still believe that on a philosophical level some POMO ideas are useful to regain ‘magical thinking’ in a positive, ‘enlightened’ way, namely by creating new stories. Don’t get me wrong, science is invaluable! But the scientific story – if not balanced by wisdom, if not shown where its authority ends, and if not shown where it failed (!) – has not much (interesting) to say about the most important questions of life: What is the purpose of life? What happens after death? What is wisdom? Or, if I may quote again my ‘Aboriginal friend’ (from Hollywood:-), his answer to science would be the same as to the white man: “You got no love in your heart. When you got no dreaming, no story, you got nothing”. This is not completely true, of course. Science has a story: it dreams of ‘eternal progress’ and a condition where all disease, probably even death, is cured. For those who haven’t been so optimistic, it has created nihilism. And what is the story of nihilism? It goes: “The story is pointless. It all makes no sense. End of story.” But we Need a story. A brighter story, a greater story, a hopeful story!

But what can a story do on an individual level? Isn’t a story just a story? Well, yes and no. For example, what is the ego? From a meditative point of view, my ego is just the stories I tell myself about myself. But some stories are charged with a very high emotive energy. So, before my ego would give up its ‘core’ stories, it would probably run mad & defend them from extinction like a religious fundamentalist would protect his belief in God, just because the ego consists of these stories. Probably that’s why it’s so hard to ‘Cross the Abyss’, as Crowley has put it. Probably that’s why most humans fear death! Probably that’s why it’s hard to change at all! Because, you know, 'that’s just the way I am!', so I won’t give up
this-or-that habit or such-and-such a way of thinking or repetitive emotional pattern, even if it’s bad for ‘me’. Because 'that’s me'! You get the picture… The ego will all-ways convince you with its stories, why you shouldn’t change, why meditating is boring, or why you have the right to behave angry, feel depressed or be xenophobic. So, in a fundamental way, it’s of great importance what story dominates you, what story you tell yourself about yourself. This, probably, is the reason, why meditative systems of the East have only little use for ‘developing a strong personality’ etc. and focus very much on developing ‘egolessness’, developing equanimity towards life, pain & death and fostering devotion towards the God/dess or the guru, who represents the God/dess and, ideally, works as a ‘mirror’ for the apprentice. However, this is, it seems to me, not an adequate path for the Westerner (at least, in most cases – I have seen too many ‘failures’). Our Northern Tradition fosters instead the development of a strong Hamingja (cp. Sweyn’s True Helm) and of courage towards life, pain & death (cp. Dave Lee’s Bright From the Well).

On a more profane level just consider what psychotherapy basically does to people. It just gives them a story, a meta-narrative, that makes sense out of all the shit that went wrong and by explaining why this shit has led the individual to feel ‘so-and-so’ about himself. By giving sense to that which seems senseless, by explaining the pain and giving it a meaning, and by telling the person that s/he is not defined by its past and that s/he can now choose to do better. Basically, it creates a better story and thus a better 'self'
the stories, of which the ego consits, are changed!
('Change all memory. And change your ways to perceive.' TOPY proverb) In a way, the therapist is a modern echo of the storyteller, as is, of course, the priest. But finally that’s not enough, because today, if you are a genuine member of the holiest of all holy orders, the COT (= Club Of Truth-seekers :-), the truth of someone else won’t suffice. The shamanic storyteller from 10,000 years ago is dead and gone. The only one who can ‘replace’ him today is not a politician, priest, psychotherapist or some self-proclaimed guru, but it is you. So creating your own story is a good starting point. The chaos magician Andrieh Vitimus suggests:


“The imagination is more powerful than merely the facts. An idea backed by emotional responses can be seductive enough to enslave many to its cause, whether the idea is a spirit, a piece of art, a cause, or a concept. The majority of people seem content to give away their imagination and creative power. Often, this manifests in letting other forces (advertising, religion, ideas, spirits, whatever) decide what they should do and what they can have and be. This is the power of imagination. It can free us or be our worst prison.” (Andrieh Vitimus 2009: Hands-On Chaos Magic, p. 365, my accentuation)   

In days of yore Imagination was a natural part of daily life and regarded as valid as any other human faculty. Walliam Blake, whose Poetic Genius has created a unique poetry (see 'The Proverbs of Hell'), embraced Imagination as 'the Body of God'. Today our Imagination, our visualising asf., is 'stolen' by the story-sellers, who created the 'Body of (Pavlov's) Dog'.  Advertising is a good example. It sells ‘imagination’. So you buy the ‘myth’ surrounding the package, not the content itself. You don’t buy a perfume, but the ‘imagination’ that it makes you more erotic, attractive, seductive asf. Today we have no genuine storyteller except, probably, the artist. For example, artists who sing about the way they experience truth, like this one: “Waking sleep, cocooned within a veil of fog, Sight no further than my hand, Tearing at this web spun through reality … Through the sacred dance I Awaken, Through faith in myself and my rhythm, Conscious for the first time…” (Ironwood – here's a fantastic German review). But today such artists are rare. Because in these modern days even the artist has become a whore of capitalism and thus he turned from a genuine storyteller to a storyseller – a faker, a peacock, a good-for-nothing. Mehr Schein als Sein ('More Appearance than Being'). And stories they sell, packaged in a ‘consumer-friendly’ form, devoid of meaning and any real depth. A true storyteller, shaman & madman, Jhonn Balance (now dead dead dead – may he be blessed by all horned animals!), has warned our culture by proclaiming that Constant Shallowness Leads To Evil!  The German artist and shaman (of sorts), Joseph Beuys, has said once: Every human is an artist. I would like to add: ...and a storyteller. At least s/he should be. POMO theory started out when it proclaimed that there is no ‘grand narrative’ anymore (that the ‘scientific myth’ of modernity of eternal progress & secularization has kind of come to an end that's why post-modern). So, after Nietztsche proclaimed that 'God is dead', now the ‘grand narrative’ is dead, too. But I believe that we, as individuals and as a folk, need a narrative again, a story. And, in this globalized world, we need also a story for the earth community – a story that makes us aware of the interconnectedness of everything on this green-blue and fragile planet. Because when I poison the air over here in Europe, your air will be finally poised over there in Australia, too. So what could this story be about? Well, I’m not wise enough to answer this question, but we can silence our minds and listen to what the voice of our hearts has to say (what our ancestors called 'High Rede'). And surely we can look with confidence to the wisdom of our ancestors and apply it. If the climate catastrophe shall be anticipated in time, science must be part of the solution, I believe. As the Permaculture slogan goes: 'The problem is the solution.' Mid-gard Middle-Earth must be guarded, and it can only be guarded by us humans.

 
The Journeybook 04/27/2009
 

                                     If the doors of perception were cleansed, 
                                     
everything would appear as it is - infinite.
                                          
                                                                                      St. William Blake


In my last post I have stressed the importance of the psychedlic experience for my first contact with magickal consciousness that has become kind of my entrance into Neo-Paganism & Thelema. As I said I do not think that most people use these sacred plants in a beneficial way, but some do. And I still have a sentimental love for the psychedelic subculture. I find it's great when some individuals explore the strange & wyrd pathways of consciousness through the gateways of psychedelic plants and create documents (if that be music, books or art) of their adventurous journeys into the anima mundi.

I don't know what has been the exact role of sacred plants in Heathenism, but I once read in a book by Christan Rätsch that the Mead of the berserkers had only 2% alcohol & the really active contingents have been psychoactive substances of sacred plants (maybe also including Psilocybin mushrooms, he suggests). However, I found this interesting book by the Australian- based art collective Undergrowth, who have released The Journeybook.

 
 

                            Rúnar munt thú finna    ok rádhna stafi,                                                                                     mjök stóra stafi,
                                             mjök stinna stafi,                                                                    
                                            er fádhi fimbuldhulr                           

                                           ok goerdhu ginregin                                                     
                                          ok reist Hroptr rögna
.  
                                                                                   

                       Runen wirst du finden     und lesbare Stäbe,
                                         sehr starke Stäbe,
                                       sehr mächtige Stäbe, 
                                    
gefärbt von Fimbuldhurl   
                           gegeben von den magischen Göttern 
                         und geschnitzt vom höchsten Herrscher.

                        
Runes wilt thou find     and read the staves,
                                          very strong staves,

                                        very stalwart staves,
                               which the mighty theal colored
                                  and the magical gods made
                             and Hropt of the gods carved them.


“Hávamál”, verse 145. Old Norse version & English translation taken from Rune-Song by Edred Thorsson; German translation taken from Helrunar by Jan Fries, with little variations by me
                                 
My first conscious contact with magick happened, when I took ‘magic mushrooms
(f.e. Psilocybe cubensis, Psilocybe mexicana, Psilocybe semilanceata asf.). They worked for me as a trigger & made me aware of the fact that self-awareness is a miracle & mystery in itself. Having said that, let me state clearly that the prolonged use of such substances may have disastrous effects on the psyche. I’ve seen that happening to friends! Drugs, including psychedelics, are in most cases no help for spiritual seekers. (Heedful & experienced use of ‘chemognostic sacraments’ is possible in a shamanic and/or therapeutic context as the writings of Stanislav Grof prove. Nevertheless, most people misuse drugs. They try to escape reality & the responsibility of being human.) For spiritual pursuits – and most other endeavors in life – counts the following: Es gibt keine Wunder, nur Disziplin. (“There are no miracles, only discipline.”) Ian Read said this in his brilliant magazine RUNA, No. 19. (North Americans can purchase Runa Magazine from Runa Raven press, orders outside the US here) Most hippies & other protagonists of the 1960s who fished for short-cuts on the spiritual path somehow forgot about that. However, I’d argue that the first manifestation of my magickal path has been ‘psychedelic neo-shamanism’. What followed, sounds to me today like a cliché. An uprooted & alienated, urban & postmodern youngster tries to overcome his youthful nihilism by taking drugs & trying to escape consensus reality by following (what I then believed to be) AmerIndian shamanism. I was introduced to Castaneda’s books, Sun Bear, Terence McKenna, Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary & Jim DeKorne’s Psychedelic Neo-Shamanism. I visited often the local forest of my town & have been doing ‘shamanic journeys’ to the underworld (today I’d say my subconscious mind or the Deep Mind, as Jan Fries calls it), where I met my ‘power animals’ & asked them questions about certain issues that were important to me. The shamanic journeys came to an end, when I came across a very mysterious & weird book: Liber AL vel Legis (The Book of the Law). This “Book of Claws” :-) has been written by the notorious & furious, half-mad & half-ingenious Devil’s advocate: the Beast 666, also known as Aleister Crowley, called lovingly by us all who were ‘seduced’ by his exhilarated & energized enthusiasm Uncle Al. Being who I am I found out EVERYTHING about Aleister Crowley & wanted only one thing from that moment on: to learn about magick.  This has led me at age 19 to the Ordo Templi Orientis. OTO is a group that promotes Crowley’s religion of Thelema (“True Will”) & occasionally practices (rather boring) rituals of Ceremonial Magick. While having been studying the stale & dogmatic system of Crowley, I slowly realized that there were other systems of magick around that have a far more easier & pragmatic approach to sorcery. (Then being “brainwashed” by modern occultism I thought of sorcery as a kind of ‘lower’ form of magick.) This was the hour of Austin Osman Spare & his ‘revolutionary’ method of sigil sorcery. Because reading AOS is a rather complicated issue, it was the repeated application of ‘Thee Sigil Ov 3 Liquids’ in Thee Greyer Book that initiated a series of events that convinced me once & for all that magick WORKS as I got immediate results. (This manual was/is the manifesto of Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth that was founded in 1981 by Genesis P-Orridge, Peter Christopherson and others who are no longer its members.) It must have been what they call ‘beginner’s luck’! Such experiences with practical sorcery – those that manifest in the material world – are more important for the budding magician than reading thousand books by Crowley or whomever. I was 22 then. Thus my soul was sold to the Devil (he looked like him), the inventor of magick and anything else that is fun & forbidden. But at that moment in time I already knew that the Devil was nothing but the degenerated manifestation of a far older god of our pagan forefathers. I believed this pagan god to be the ecstatic Pan, but I hadn’t realized then that this was Crowley’s god, not mine. (Of course any god that was associated with sensuality, sexuality & sorcery became a Devil. Satan does not exist, except in the minds of those that deny these aspects of Self.) As I’m a very loyal person it took me a while until I accepted the conclusion that my path lies outside of Crowley’s Current 93 & I left OTO at age 25. (Though to this day I find the 93rd Current an important one and I do believe that an intelligent & creative person can use Crowley’s work in a beneficial way. The most insightful comments on how to use Crowley’s work and the Thelemic concepts I found in Don Webb’s Aleister Crowley: The Fire & the Force.)  However, leaving OTO was an initiation in itself. But this initiation was not the kind of ‘freemasonic theatre play’ you pay 100 or 200 Euros/Dollars for to ascend in the artificial hierarchy of a magical order. No! This step has led to a spiritual crisis (the ‘Hagalaz-Nauthiz-Isa-Jera dance). It’s important to die before you die, my friends! This was the time, when I toyed around with chaos magick and, as I said before, there is no doubt that this current has brought fresh & new perspectives into contemporary magick. It synthesized the threads of the antagonistic twins Crowley & Spare in conjunction with the spirit of ‘free-form shamanism’ to bring forth a postmodern approach to magick, where “Nothing Is True & Everything Is Permitted” (Hassan-i Sabbah). I found a lot in chaos magick that inspired me, especially the fundamental insight that Gnosis & Belief are important for magick to work, though some chaos magicians already come to the conclusion that “belief alone is […] the basis of magick and gnosis is optional.” (Dave Lee, in a review of Chapman’s book Advanced Magick for Beginners). However, as time progressed it became obvious to me that ‘shifting paradigms’ – a major tenet of CM – is nothing I can relate to. Simultaneously my interest moved ever stronger towards the Runes. Though I have heard of the Runes for the first time when I was 15 or so, I’ve been confronted at that time only with the inauthentic Armanen-Futhark (composed of 18 Runes, which Guido von List ‘received’ in a state of crisis during which he was blind for a half year) and the terrible New Age nonsense by Ralph Blum (whose ‘system’ is anathema to anyone who is committed to the Runic Tradition). But since then I felt a deep respect for the Runes. Years later I found a book in the university library next to my school. It was called Leaves of Yggdrasil written by the Dutch singer, writer & ‘Norse Occultist’ Freya Aeswynn. She inspired me to do a few divinations with Runes that were intriguing. However, as I don’t like to fiddle about too much, my focus has still been to unravel Crowley’s system of magick first. I also understood intuitively that Runes are nothing you can just explore in a few weeks. Rather you have to dedicate your whole life to them, if you want to become an expert. Many years later, when I was already studying at university myself, I came across the German translation of Edred Thorsson’s Nine Doors of Midgard. This was for the first time when it suddenly dawned on me that there is a Runic Revival going on & that the Runes have a Tradition of their own – completely independent of the different currents in occultism that some call the Western Mystery Tradition. As I became already dissatisfied & disaffected with Crowley’s system & the OTO (it didn’t seem to hold what it promised!) and chaos magick began to crack open my head, I started to study the religion, culture & language(s), in which the Runes have originated. And here, for the first time, I realized where my roots lie – hidden. I am still fairly new to Heathenism & it’s not long ago that I swore my first oath to Odhinn. From the first moment on I read about the idea put forth by Edred Thorsson / Stephen Flowers that one has to emulate the archetype of the First Runemaster Odhinn – to emulate His act of ‘Winning the Runes’ –, if one wants to gain insight into Runa (the Mother of all Mysteries, the Unknown & Unknowable One), I knew this is where my magick has led me. Ever since I’m feeling the pull from Runa becoming ever stronger. Yes, I sold my soul the Devil (now I remember, it was this guy!) & this has led me finally to the one-eyed God whose Rune-Might still manifests in Midgard. I just can join in the singing: “Woden destroy my form. Rend me down to the bone. Distil my deepest meaning. Reforge me whole and seething. WODANAZ.” (Ironwood) And as long as there are those who devote themselves to the Quest for Runa like the First Rune Master did, who arranged & carved the Runes 2200 years ago in the form of the Elder Futhark, the Might of our Holy Gods still lives on. “Our freedom shall hinge on it soon… Take Wyrd in your hands & reclaim your Might.” (Fire + Ice) And it’s only now that I begin to have glimpses of understanding the words whispered to us through the ages. Just by reading these words and speaking them aloud I get a lightly ecstatic feeling.

                             Rúnar munt thú finna    ok rádhna stafi,                                                                                     mjök stóra stafi,
                                             mjök stinna stafi,                                                                    
                                            er fádhi fimbuldhulr                           

                                            ok goerdhu ginregin                                                     
                                           ok reist Hroptr rögna
.