Archive for April, 2014

This is yet more thoughts on meshing Heathenry and the principles of Gnosticism. The first, explanatory post is here – read that one first, and then some of my further thoughts here.

sansaromanoff asked me about my impressions of the Old Man and the Father of the Wolf in this context, and I think the important thing to state is that I’m a hard polytheist here. The gods and spirits and other wights aren’t archetypes, or simple personifications of natural forces. Nor are they metaphors – they are beings in and of themselves, just as we are.

The reason I’m stating this right at the beginning is so no offence is created when say, I point out that much of the lore we have regarding the gods is folk-lore and poetry which, while recountings of the gods, ancestors and heroes and their deeds, is composed for humans, by humans. The depiction of sacred reality is not without its political and social agendas. In fact, a distinction should be made that everything I write from here on is not to be regarded as the Truth. Words and language are only methods of transportation and conveyance, tools for changing awareness and transmitting ideas.

(“Make your lies into truth, and your truth into lies.” This I was once told, and it is that what I do.)

Some of you may have read an answer I gave about Odin, a while ago. The whole thing is here, but I’d like to reproduce a section of it:

The Old Man aint like us. That’s the first thing to bear in mind. We’re talking about, even on the simplest level, a god who ripped out his own eye for a chance to drink from Mimir’s well. We’re talking about a god who stabbed himself with a spear, and then while wounded and bleeding, hung himself from a tree for nine whole nights, with no bread, no water, no nothing. Just his pain and the intention that it be made holy – that everything he was be given as a sacrifice, so he could become Something More.

This is a god who will raise up a hero, so that they may lead armies and have  songs sung about them forever, and then turn the tide of battle against them so they are violently slain,and gathered up by the Valkyria.

This is a god who will throw a spear over a battle to make it his own, so that the battle itself is his to manipulate, regardless of what side wins. This is a god who, with a sly wink and tip of his broad-brimmed hat will go about the worlds, proudly bearing the name Bolverk – Worker of Evil. A god who will, according to lore, be willing to commit genocide and murder in order to create the worlds we now inhabit.

Yet for all that, this is a god who is a healer, who sought knowledge so that he might manipulate the inevitable end of existence into a better form for all of us. This is a god who is fiercely kind, who wears ten thousand faces and forms – who gives the gifts of inspiration to poets and artists. This is a god who sees the potential in the worst of times, the wonder in the darkness and the beauty in the most horrific of situations.

If anything, this is a god who embraces non-duality. This is a god who leads us into darkness so that we may see the relentless, restless nature of creativity – who teaches us that all materials can be used for the furtherance of who we Really Are.

Remember, this is a god who is very old, and very much a giant in some senses – unflinching and uncompromising in the expression of his Being.


This is the Master of Fury we’re talking about here. Woðanaz. The one who gave breath to humankind. Lord of Inspiration. This is the one who pulls back the curtain, and reveals to us that change is the only constant in the whole kosmos – and that it is literally impossible to remain static. This is the god who shows us that everything – literally everything – is interconnected, that everything affects everything else.

This is Oski – the fulfiller of wishes. This is One Eye, Weak-eye – he who nonetheless sees more than any except Frigga. A disabled god who binds himself, wounds himself and starves himself.  He accumulates his weakness to its most terrible extent and yet emerges triumphant. This is the Deceiver, the Masked God. The one who tells the Truth even as he spins lies.and tells tales.

He bears all these names, you see. For a moment, take yourselves out of the lore context which Snorri laid down. See these names, and understand the fact that each one is an expression of the same being.

Can you feel the hunger, the way it catches your breath? The way there is an excitement there, of the kind you might feel as you crawl to the edge of a cliff and look down into a vast abyss?  The way a grin shoulders its way up from your heart to tug your lips into a fierce smile of Hell. Fucking. Yeah!

And more than that, for you cannot tell me that you have forgotten the joy in that moment when you finally understood something, or the suddden realisation that one thing leads to another and another?

Not just a simple adrenalin shot, is it? No, that sense of wonder, of sudden limitless possibility, of witnessing just how much variety of experience spreads out before you. How far it takes you from what you thought the world was…

Myth tells us that it was Odin and his brothers who slew Ymir. Who carved the worlds from the bones and flesh of that great jotun. But even before the Father of All did that, let’s consider his father and grandfather. Because here is where things become interesting – for Buri emerged from the ice, freed or shaped by Audhumla’s tongue as she licked the salt.

From whence did he come, this man of ice, emerging from the primordial ice. For all can know that there was only Fire & Ice at the beginning, yes? Just as all know that the lore is written to suggest that another world shall arise from Ragnarok. And whether that beChristian interpolation or not is irrelevant – it matches the cyclical structure, does it not – the cycles of ages spoken of by the Hindus?

For there’s jotun-blood in Odin’s veins, and something more. Something alien to the body and blood that waxed and spawned and died in Ginunngagap, and was rendered into worlds.So buried there in the ice, was perhaps a kind of primordial intelligence, which passed along and down the ancestry.

And as we’ve already suggested, perhaps the blood with all its salt andd womb associations, is yet another vehicle of Soul? The jotuns were all but wiped out in the surging roiling ocean of Ymir’s blood, were they not? The tale says only a pair survived, to spawn the jotuns anew.

All this is mythic language, a drama to evoke certain thoughts – and it’s these thoughts which we may view from a Gnostic perspective. After all, for all his foresight, why should the Allfather choose to mingle blood and soul with Laufey’s son? For despite some folks insisting that he is the Old Norse version of Satan, let us consider that it is he who obtains weapons and treasures  for the gods. That he provides the distraction which aids the reconstruction of Asgard after the Aesir/Vanir war – which its heavily implied that Odin kicked off. Loki is the Mother of Sleipnir, best of all horses – and you wouldn’t give that kind of gift lightly. It is Loki who travels with Thor to retrieve his hammer, amongst other journeyings they have.

In classical Gnosticism, Sophia (wisdom) is the one who falls into ‘creation’. Even when she is ‘rescued’, her divine nature has been passed on to humans by the unwitting demiurge. She is, in a very real sense, the mother of the gnostic spark which remains in all things, waiting to be awakened.

Could this be related to the concept of the anima mundi,or World-Soul?

This has quite a few implications, not least when one considers the fact that the mead of poetry is watched over by a giant-maid who dwells inside a mountain. It is she who Odin woos – and rather than assuming her a passive participant, one  might look at her name which is anglicised as Gunnlod – roughly translating as ‘war-foam’.

The notion of the lady within a mountain or under the earth exists in many forms, and nor is it limited to a male protagonist. If we examine the concept of the dwarfs in Norse myth, we find that they are described as maggots which existed in Ymir’s corpse.

It’s clear that they inhabited the deeper parts of the earth, and it is to them that Loki goes to obtain the gods’ weapons. Yet it is also said that the goddess Freyja won the Brisingamen by spending the night with several dwarfs. Further it’s suggested that Odin learnt the ways of Seidr from Freyja. Traditionally, seidr was held to be womanly magic, unsuitable for proper men – a fact that Loki brings up in reference to Odin during his bitter flyting written of in the Lokasenna:

  Loki spake:
24. “They say that with spells | in Samsey once
Like witches with charms didst thou work;
And in witch’s guise | among men didst thou go;
Unmanly thy soul must seem.”

But what brings on this? A similar accusation levelled at Loki in the previous verse:

Othin spake:
23. “Though I gave to him | who deserved not the gift,
To the baser, the battle’s prize;
Winters eight | wast thou under the earth,
Milking the cows as a maid,
(Ay, and babes didst thou bear;
Unmanly thy soul must seem.)”

Both blood-brothers, it seems, are not beyond transgressing social gender boundaries for specific purposes. For the Jungians, one could argue that the uniting of anima and animus is obvious here, but it goes deeper than mere symbolism.

If the motif of being under or within the earth is important, then we quite clearly are presented with Heraclitus’ words again “The path up, is the path down”. Could this hold a hint – that a coming-together with the chthonic and worldly, perhaps even the Other/Underworldly is vital in obtaning Gnosis?

Is it perhaps something like katabasis  a descent into the world beyond the world one usually inhabits? Considering the story of the meed of poetry, Odin’ entrance into the mountain by means of turning himself into a serpent, and subsequent escape from Gunnlod’s enraged father as an eagle seem to illustrate a classic initiation.

One only has to look at the medieval romance built up around Tanhauser, who comes across the goddess Venus in a mountain bower filled with faerie courtiers and or/souls of the dead, to realise that such themes provide potential keys to gnosis, despite distances in time. Even the general legends around the Venusberg mountain provide a wealth of materials. Check out my esteemed colleague theheadlesshashasheen‘s post entitled Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s off to the Venusberg we go for more info there

For this reason, those of us with a Gnostic perspective might do well to pay attention to the particulars of the myth of Ragnarok. Many blame Loki for this, citing the apparent murder of Baldr, the birthing of monstrous children on Angrboda, and many other episodes of shit-stirring.

Leaving aside questions of origin, the fact remains that Ragnarok is the point at which the maintanence functions of the norse cosmology begin to fall over. However, it’s my contention and experience that it should be viewed with the awareeness that the Norse knew everything ended. Mortality was going to happen. Things change. That’s the fury of Being. Without the siring of the children on Angrboda, there would be no Jormungandr to mark the boundaries of the ocean, no Helja to care for fallen Baldr, allowing him to remerge unscathed.

There would be no reset. No new beginning.

(April 13 2010: The water pours down as I close my eyes in the shower. Amidst the roar of the shower, there’s the sly smile and the shaking of someone deep within the earth. Something twitches and scarred lips touch my ear: “We begin worlds, and we end them.

Ravens call, a wolf pads over earth. Eyes open.

In the corner someone stands, a familiar dark shape with broad-brim hat. It nods at someone  who must be standing next to me. I know there’s no-one there, but you try telling these two that.

A singular gaze, then, from the corner. Another voice, just as familliar, speaking without words:

“Beginnings and Endings. Endings and Beginnings. All the same. We make worlds. And we break them.”)

On April 14 2010 Eyjafjallajökull erupted, bringing chaos to air travel in Europe.

This then, is why we call Gnosis a disruptive thing. It can destroy your old world. Suddenly the boundaries and restrictions placed upon us by archontic forces are broken apart – the structures which enable discrete piecemal experience of existence are blown apart when the beacon of the soul begins to burn, when the deeply buried and bound powers elect to stretch out and break the chains that kept them bound. Except of course, they were never really bound to begin with.

Some call Loki Worldbreaker, and feel the rage of of a bound god’s suffering. Some call Odin the God of Battle. The Wanderer. The Fetterer. The Loosener

The Gnostic in me sees a pair of cunning escape artists, more than willing to teach you their tricks. Your mileage, may of course vary.

NOTE: This was originally written on my Tumblr as a response to a question on there. As such the html may come out funny, but this is here for larger linkage and archiving

First of all, hello to my new followers. I hope you find this Tumblr vaguely interesting. Second of all, thanks for such a positive response to the original Heathen Gnosis Explanation post – I was actually expecting  a bunch of ‘you’re not a real Heathen’ comments, to which I would have responded by grinning, and mostly ignoring them. Instead it seems to have gone down rather well for something that was actually finished at 4am!

Since it seems to have reasonated on some level with lots more folks than I thought it would, I thought’d I’d unpack things a little more, as I see them. This is mostly because I’m aware the original post was pretty dense, as well as being rather long.

One thing that always seems to provoke response is the idea of transcendence – of moving beyond the world and its suffering rather than continuing to toil under the yoke of those forces that would limit and oppress us.

In the language of gnosticism, we might call them Archontic forces – Archon, meaning ruler and being a component of all those words end in -archy. Now that’s not to say that they are ‘evil’ per se – more that these forces are the regulatory tendencies, bodies, entities which maintain the status quo.

The kind of gnosis of which I’m speaking is always defined by those outside of it as ‘against’ the status quo. However, the problem with such an adversarial and dualist description is that it holds the status quo to be the default, when in fact, as Heraclitus points out: Dike eris – Strife is Justice. That’s to say that the regulatory functions which seem unchanging are in fact being constantly maintained – there are constant tweaks being made to ‘smooth out’ the raw flux of existence.

(In short, the Wodhanic fury is subsumed into functions of kingship – the furious inspiration and ecstasy is tamed and made societally acceptable. Wodhanaz becomes Odin the Monarch, head of an artificially enforced pantheon – which itself is a Greek word. But that’s another post.)

So, gnosis as I’m speaking of it is the knowing-of-that-flux, both as experience of and being-part-of-it. As part of that Beingness, the transcendence brought about by gnosis is not a beyondness. In fact it is within the flux. One does not seek to flee the kosmos, but to strip away the false filters and categories which have been laid upon it by Spirit.

For example, I suffer clinical depression, as do several family members. I have been suicidal, rendered breathless by the crushing weight of existence.The pain has been so great that I considered suicide as a way out. When one is depressed, it is extremely hard to ever contemplate another state of being. The horror of it seems to stretch endlessly in all directions.

Yet if we consider existence as flux – that even our bodies rely on homeostasis – then we begin to recognise minute changes in what we are experiencing. Our mental state does shift, however by default we attempt to self regulate so that it seems constant – a complete continuum. This does not blame the sufferer, rather we are saying Spirit would wish us to believe in the two distinct states of Depressed and Not-Depressed.

Soul, on the other hand reminds us that experience is like the ocean – it may seem flat when viewed from above, but it is composed of a multitude of tides, currents, peaks and troughs. This itself can seem terrifying – that there are movements and shifts in experience which we cannot control. We fear these changes may ripple outwards, growing in intensity, until we ourselves are lost.

And yet, have we not said that  Soul is composed of myriad interconnected beings – are we not surrounded by our ancestors? Do they no live in us,and are we not unique expressions of what they have  left behind, combined and born in this place and time?

So gnosis is therefore a deliberate knowing-of-what-is.It’s fundamentally pragmatic, concrete instead of abstract. Gnosis concerns only the Now, which, like a mustard seed, is capable of expanding to unfurl something vast. Something that does not correspond to usual notions of time and space, with clock-time and minutes and seconds.

Instead,we speak of a way of existence in which the past, present and future are in fact all one fabric.If the Old Man is the gifter of Soul and breath, then study of that breath , it’s cyclic motions of inhalations and exhalations, provides us with a way of understanding. By deliberately following the cycle of the breath and being mindfully focused on only what-is-happening-Now we begin to understand something. We need not worry about doing things correctly, or concern ourselves with any past present or future.

All we need do is breathe.

No doubt other things will occur to us, perhaps we may find our attention drifting, or experiencing sensations we were not a moment ago. And that is fine, because we have been breathing throughout all our experiences, and indeed will continue to do so without trying.

So we return our attention to the breath, recognising that it is a manifestaion of Soul, and in breathing, so we immerse ourself in Soul, curiously seeking gnosis with no expectation, only observing what is.

And in doing so, we will often reconsidering and revaluating what we thought we knew, as the knowledge of the head becomes suffused with Soul and transmuted into the gnosis, and the knowledge of the heart. It is a deep and wide understanding, into which we descend – for as Heraclitus says “The way up is the way down.”

For this reason, we pass through suffering, rather than seeking to avoid it. Suddenly, the transcendence is achieved through the world – the escape comes not as flight, but as a prisoner learing the secret which enables them to pass through the walls of their prison.

The principle of weakness applies here – we are taught that strength is to be extolled, that the best thing is to become the top dog, the greatest individual. To our Heathen forebears, none was individual. Even Beowulf was always referred to as the son of Ecgtheow. The interlinking of people, both in terms of friendship, but also in terms of kinship and ancestry means that the idea of self-reliance was fundamentlly different. It is impossible then, to achieve anything without relation to talents and proclivities  which, while we may have refined them, come from outside ourselves, either from help and learning, or from things received in response to heredity.

The notion of meginn/maegn is cognate to ‘may’ and ‘might’ So from a certain perspective we may (pun intended) say that the gnostic is one who is, much like the pneumatics, immersed in the Soul, taking their strength and ability from that interconnected, primordial and timeless Now whichis composed of myriad of forms, beings and ways. For the Soul is not and cannot be monolithic. By definition it too is like an ocean, filled with many things.

Therefore, one who has obtained the gnosis we are speaking of is never alone – but in order to do so they must give up, or sacrifice previous and standard ‘modern’ ideas of selfhood.

(And the next post is probably going to be about Odin a Loki specifically in this gnostic context, just fyi.)


NOTE: This was originally written on my Tumblr as a response to a question on there. As such the html may come out funny, but this is here for larger linkage and archiving

So sansaromanoff asked me to expand on how I, as a Heathen, have meshed the polytheistic reconstruction faith of my Heathen ancestors with the broad school of thought known as Gnosticism.

I mentioned this a bit in a conversation with theheadlesshashasheen, catvincent​ and bearofthesouth which emerged from a picture of Aion. You can find that discussion here – have a read for a basic run-through.

Now, a bit of background here to provide context. I am, amongst other things someone who’s been mucking about with at first, and then seriously studying magic for around 18 years. I was always fascinated about how the universe worked – I was originally going to to go to university to study physics, but the prospect of 4 years of crunching numbers put me off, so instead I looked for something that asked Important Questions and got a degree and did postgrad study in Philosophy.

(Philosophy is important. We’ll come back to it, but perhaps not for the reasons you might think.)

I mention this, because for me, Magic(k) was not only about getting the cool stuff, but about seeking the Mystery of existence. Makes me sound like a ponce, but I’m a curious little bugger. I did some work with the lwa who very kindly helped me out but after a bit told me I should go find my ancestors and that’d be best.

Long story short, I ended up Heathen (Norse flavour hard polytheist), with Odin, Freyja and Loki taking an interest. Which is to say, I work for them, but my relationship with the Old Man is such that while I eschew standard Heathen terms such as fulltrui, or [gods]man, you could use Odin’s Man as a descriptor.

I say this because I make no claims to speak for the Old Grey Wolf. I do not claim to be One Eye’s representative. I am no priest of the Hanged God. But I am one of his, whatever that means.

(“Learn every trick you can.” he says with a flash of bone-white smile, and turns to keep walking over all the worlds.)

Draugrdrottin is he, lord of the Restless Dead. Grimnir, the Masked One. Burden of Gunnlod’s arms. Drinker from Mimir’s Well, as tears of blood burn down that ancient face, welling up from his raw, empty eyesocket. Sacrificer of self to Self.

All this we know, we who hear the old tales, and listen with our hearts. All this we know, the greed for knowing, the roaring fury of Being, here and now.

God of Wisdom. Fetterer and Loosener. Master of Fury.

So I am asked, why Gnosis? Why seek-after-knowing? So I am asked, why raise my head, hoary with the rime of questions?

Simple. There is no alternative.

For there is, quite simply, a way of rediscovering Being. There is a path that the Stoics would call pneuma and certain Gnostics would also refer to certain persons as pneumatics.

These then, are interesting because they equate soul with breath. While at first glance this may seem merely metaphorical, let’s remember something here:

17. Then from the throng | did three come forth,
From the home of the gods, | the mighty and gracious;
Two without fate | on the land they found,
Ask and Embla, | empty of might.

18. Soul they had not, | sense they had not,
Heat nor motion, | nor goodly hue;
Soul gave Othin, | sense gave Hönir,
Heat gave Lothur | and goodly hue. – Voluspa, Adams trans

Then from the host three came,
Great, merciful, from the God’s home:
Ash and Elm on earth they found,
Faint, feeble, with no fate assigned them
Breath they had not, nor blood nor senses,
Nor language possessed, nor life−hue:
Odhinn gave them breath, Haenir senses,
Blood and life hue Lothur gave. – Voluspa, Taylor & Auden trans.


So, it’s obvious that the breath-as-soul is a common concept. Who else, but the Father of Inspiration (which itself is a modern synonym, for life, breath and creativity) would poke me in this direction?

Classical Gnosticism, of which there were many schools, also had a very important point regarding gnosis:

The distinction between faith (pistis) and knowledge (gnosis) is a very important one in Valentinianism. Pistis, the Greek word for faith denotes intellectual and emotional acceptance of a proposition. To the Valentinians, faith is primarily intellectual/emotional in character and consists accepting a body of teaching as true.

Knowledge (gnosis) is a somewhat more complex concept. Here is the definition of gnosis given by Elaine Pagels in her book The Gnostic Gospels: “…gnosis is not primarily rational knowledge. The Greek language distinguishes between scientific or reflective knowledge (‘He knows mathematics’) and knowing through observation or experience (‘He knows me’). As the gnostics use the term, we could translate it as ‘insight’, for gnosis involves an intuitive process of knowing oneself…

Yet to know oneself, at the deepest level is to know God; this is the secret of gnosis.”(The Gnostic Gospels, p xviii-xix) Bentley Layton provides a similar definition in The Gnostic Scriptures: “The ancient Greek language could easily differentiate between two kinds of knowledge... One kind is propositional knowing – the knowledge that something is the case (‘I know Athens is in Greece’). Greek has several words for this kind of knowing-for example, eidenai. The other kind of knowing is personal aquaintance with an object, often a person. (‘I know Athens well’; ‘I have known Susan for many years’). In Greek the word for this is gignoskein…The corresponding Greek noun is gnosis. If for example two people have been introduced to one another, each can claim to have gnosis or aquaintance of one another. If one is introduced to God, one has gnosis of God. The ancient gnostics described salvation as a kind of gnosis or aquaintance, and the ultimate object of that aquaintance was nothing less than God” (The Gnostic Scriptures, p 9).

Faith corresponds to the intellectual/emotional aspect of religion while gnosis corresponds to the spiritual/experiential aspect. Valentinians linked the distinction between pistis and gnosis to the distinction they made between psyche and pneuma. The psyche (soul) was identified by them with cognitive/emotional aspect of the personality (the ego consciousness). The pneuma (spirit) was identified by them with the intuitive/unconscious level. The psyche was seen as consubstantial with the Demiurge while the pneuma was consubstantial with Sophia (and hence with God). Both the psyche and pneuma were capable of salvation. Psyche was saved through pistis while pneuma was saved through gnosis. Hence they distinguished two levels of salvation: psychic and pneumatic.

The psychic level of salvation was characterized by conversion (metanoia) and faith (pistis). This corresponds to receiving oral and written teachings since the psyche “requires perceptible instruction”. (Irenaeus Against Heresies 1:6:1). Herakleon describes the psychic level of salvation as “believing from human testimony” (Herakleon Fragment 39). Through pistis and psychic salvation, one attained to the level of the Demiurge. In order to be saved the person had to freely chose to believe and to do good works (Irenaeus Against Heresies 1:6:2). The psychic level of salvation was decisive in that it opened the person to the possibility of attaining the pneumatic level. – Source, emphasis mine

Ah yes, Sophia. Remember what I said about Philosophy? Philia is usually translated as friendship, but it’s slightly more complicated than that. As Aristotle puts it:

“[W]anting for someone what one thinks good, for his sake and not for one’s own, and being inclined, so far as one can, to do such things for him” – Rhetoric.

So Philosophy is a love for Wisdom, a kind of love as exists between soldiers, bands of friends and other such. In certain theology of some Gnostic schools, it is Sophia who actually makes the mistake which creates the Demiurge, who creates the Archons while believing himself to be the Creator of All. Without getting into the ins and outs of the various schools, it is Sophia who also indirectly inmplants in humans the knowledge of their true Nature so that they can rise beyond the restrictions of the Demiurge. For the Christian Gnostics, Sophia was in a sense the ‘bride’ of the Christ, who rather than being the son of God-as-Demiurge, was sent directly from the One-Which-is-All.

It should be noted that the One was not describable, nor was it precisely God as the Abrahamic faiths would have it. Indeed some schools equated the Abrahamic God as the deluded or blind Demiurge.

Now for the Christian Gnostics, the appearance of Christ meant literally that he would bring about the Kingdom of Heaven. As to what that means, suffice to say that for them by following the teachings of the Gnostic schools, which were supposedly transmitted by Jesus, they would achieve a change in consciousness which enabled them to be free from the Demiurge and the Archons. This has, to a certain extent, a similarity to Hindu Moksha and Buddhist Nirvana/Enlightenment.

It’s also interesting to note that Christ is Greek for ‘the annointed’ raising the prospect of multiple Christs of which Jesus was simply one. This may sound odd, until one recalls that the antecedents of Gnosticism did not spring out a solely Christian milieu, but were borne of a cross-pollination of pagan and magical technologies going back to Neoplatonic, Platonic, and pre-Socratic ideas.

And here’s where we turn to a particular Pre-Socratic philosopher – Heraclitus.

 ποταμοῖσι τοῖσιν αὐτοῖσιν ἐμϐαίνουσιν, ἕτερα καὶ ἕτερα ὕδατα ἐπιρρεῖ.
Potamoisi toisin autoisin embainousin, hetera kai hetera hudata epirrei
“Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers.”

Or, as Plato writes it:

“πάντα χωρεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει” καὶ “δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης”
Panta chōrei kai ouden menei kai dis es ton auton potamon ouk an embaies
“Everything changes and nothing remains still … and … you cannot step twice into the same stream”

From what I’ll call for ease, an Odinic perspective – and indeed a general Heathen one, we are reminded of the fury of which the Old Man is master. From another, we are presented with a world of flux and change which despite our best efforts and attempts at control, ends in our doom, that is our fated meeting with death. Yet the Old One whispers in the ears of corpses, and summons up the souls of long-dead volvas to learn the secrets of the kosmos.

From the Havamal, Auden translation:

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies
Of one who has done well

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But I know one thing that never dies,
The glory of the great dead

Mysterious Shepherds


In my experience, it is this mortality which causes much fear – much accquisitiveness, and indeed the blind denial of death by modern society is, in a sense, an echo of the classical Gnostic Demiurge which claims total authority in spite of such a thing being a lie.

Our Heathen forebears knew the world was full of many types of beings, and that change and mortality came even to gods. In the study of magick unification of opposites is an important signpost.

Classical Gnosticism, as written of by its detractors (which comprised much of what was known about Gnosticism until the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Codices in 1945) seems to present a dualistic perspective – that of a spiritual/soul realm which is apart from the world which serves as a prison or fallen realm. This has much in common with, and may be influenced by the dualism of Manicheism and Zoroastrianism.

However, when we consider this dualism with a Herclitan-Odinic perspective, we can start to realise that the dynamic tension between two apparent opposites is the important thing. It leads to creatitivity, inspiration, and to a certain extent liberation from the things that restrict us in life. I’ve often said that the Old Man is a god of non-duality. He’ll switch ‘sides’ as it suits him – what matters is the battle, the struggle, the furious change. The dynamic creative principle.

As Heraclitus says:

There is a harmony in the bending back (παλίντροπος palintropos) as in the case of the bow and the lyre.

From my perspective, there is a primordial gnosis, a way of knowing-as-active-principle which can only be described through the awareness that we live in a kosmos of roaring daimonic flux. In this kosmos, there is a tension between what one might term Geist and Seele (my initiator is a German native speaker influenced by amongst others, Ludwig Klages, who’s deeply interesting if you can get past the endemic 19th-early 20th Century antisemitism).

Broadly speaking, Geist (translated as Spirit) is the principle of separation and negative intellectualism which has humanity hold itself apart from the kosmos. It is also present in the tendency towards logocentrism – the need to define, reduce and render experience into a discrete particular form. Is that which maintains description is absolute. That which cannot be described or categorised is regarded as irrelevant. It leaves little room for liminality and actively seeks to control and regulate change. It is fond of hierarchy and imposition of structure. One might envisage it as the presiding principle of the Outer Church in the Invisibles, or the constructor of the Black Iron Prison  or Palmer Eldritch in the work of Philip K Dick.

Seele (translated as Soul) is thusly the creative-vital principle, equated by me here with the breath given to mankind by Odin. It is thusly that which flows, in distinction to Geist’s discrete particulate preference. It is once again interesting to note the etymology of Soul here:

soul (n.1) Look up soul at“A substantial entity believed to be that in each person which lives, feels, thinks and wills” [Century Dictionary], Old English sawol “spiritual and emotional part of a person, animate existence; life, living being,” from Proto-Germanic *saiwalo (cognates: Old Saxon seola, Old Norse sala, Old Frisian sele, Middle Dutch siele, Dutch ziel, Old High German seula, German Seele, Gothic saiwala), of uncertain origin.

Sometimes said to mean originally “coming from or belonging to the sea,” because that was supposed to be the stopping place of the soul before birth or after death [Barnhart]; if so, it would be from Proto-Germanic *saiwaz (see sea). Klein explains this as “from the lake,” as a dwelling-place of souls in ancient northern Europe.

sea (n.) Look up sea at Dictionary.comOld English “sheet of water, sea, lake, pool,” from Proto-Germanic *saiwaz (cognates: Old Saxon seo, Old Frisian se, Middle Dutch see, Swedish sjö), of unknown origin, outside connections “wholly doubtful” [Buck]. Meaning “large quantity” (of anything) is from c.1200. Meaning “dark area of the moon’s surface” is attested from 1660s (see mare (n.2)).

Germanic languages also use the general Indo-European word (represented by English mere (n.)), but have no firm distinction between “sea” and “lake,” either by size, by inland or open, or by salt vs. fresh. This may reflect the Baltic geography where the languages are thought to have originated. The two words are used more or less interchangeably in Germanic, and exist in opposite senses (such as Gothic saiws “lake,” marei “sea;” but Dutch zee “sea,” meer “lake”). Compare also Old Norse sær “sea,” but Danish , usually “lake” but “sea” in phrases. German See is “sea” (fem.) or “lake” (masc.). The single Old English word glosses Latin mare, aequor, pontus, pelagus, and marmor.

So, in Norse lore we have Ask and Embla emerging from the sea as driftwood, to be given their faculties by the three gods, suggesting to me a link between sea, breath and soul.

Since the sea itself, both mythologically and literally (in the context of the womb and evolution of life on earth) is the source of existence of all living things, we can also notice that water flows. So we may argue that the soul itself is the mirror of the kosmos – something which is found in the magical doctrine of the microkosmos and the macrokosmos. Therefore, to perhaps echo Klages, the soul is the life-principle, and also the root of ancestral existence. This can be seen in the salt in blood, on a symbolic level. It is also not bound by the same stricture, it will assume a shape, and when no longer restricted will return to itself as water poured from a jug.

In this way we can say that the path of the Soul enables us to make an ancestral connection to the kosmos, surrounded also by the souls of our ancestors, and also contributing to them. It is also for this reason that I work heavily with the dead and landwights – since while they are not identical to my form of current existence, they still possess kind of-Soul-vitality which connects us. It is also why I believe the Well and the Tree to be recurring motifs in Norse lore – the three wells, and in particular Urd’s well being heavily associated with wyrd, which itself implies a level of connectivity and entanglement which seems alien to modern eyes.

Yet for all that, the “battle” betwixt Soul and Spirit is not one of annhilation. Rather, if one is able to infuse Spirit and its acts within our lives and spheres of influence with Soul, one achieves a creative potency which means that the Spirit becomes, rather than a feared stranger, a welcome guest at the feast of existence.

But, as with the Old Man in general, it’s not a path for everyone – to rediscover one’s Soul is to walk a path which ultimately leads to lonely wonderings and wandering in the dark, no matter the spiritual weather.

It requires recognition that the uninfused, unrefined Spirit dwells everywhere about us and within us – implanted in us from day one, and reinforced by society. It requires a dedication to gnosis which can only be described as hungry and fierce. Yet for all that, as with Odin, it must be undertaken with awareness of love and sacrifice – for the gnosis sought by the Hanged God also brought awareness of his own death, as well as enabling survival for others. For while the Terrible One is fierce in in his fury, he is also fierce in kindness, and in his role as a healer – one who makes whole.

I hope that answered some questions. I am of course, happy to answer more.

Graveyard Duties 2014

Originally, we were heading up to the town graveyard on Good Friday to sit with the Dead of Lancaster, pay cultus to Lord Ashton, 1st Baron Ashton who rests in the graveyard, but circumstances dictated we went up yesterday, on Saturday.


That Saturday, when it’s heavily implied by the Apostles Creed that Christ went to hang out with the Dead in Hades aka Sheol.

See, I and the usual suspects have little problem with the fact that Christianity was the dominant belief for over a thousand years in these lands ( and even longer in places where the Celtic church was stronger). So we meet our Christian ancestors ‘half-way’ as it were.

So we headed up here around 11pm:

What may not be clear is that this is one arm of a four-way crossroads, with a war memorial at its centre. At the ends of the other three are funeral chapels for Anglican, Catholic and Non-Conformists. The Williamsons (the Baron’s family and the man himself) are all buried just on the left arm of the crossroads here.

This is the highest point in the cemetery, which overlooks the town, and even despite the town’s light pollution, you can see stars for miles. Plus of course, if you head beyond the leftmost arm, you’ll see the River Lune upon which Roman ships sailed nover two thousand years, and the merchants in the 1700s bought the profits of the slave triangle back to town.

As is usual, words were spoken from the heart, offerings were made to the Dead and the Baron, rum was drunk and I smoked the requisite cigar.

Truly, it’s one of the most peaceful places to be there, meditating on death, in this time when we rember that even gods may die.

Plus, as seems usual, a shooting star was spotted. And apparently what little light there was from distant streetlights mixed with shadow to give me a skull mask.

The latter is apparently not unusual when I perform rites at crossroads, or so I am told by multiple witnesses on multiple occasions.

So yes. That was my Easter Saturday.


My dear brother Faust has a post up on predators and power, inspired due to the arrest of an apparently well known American neopagan on charges of accessing child pornography and some of the frankly baffling comments made by folks online.. You should read it all, because it has directly contributed to the creation of this piece. Please do so, because it willl make this easier to comprehend, for I have been in the middle of nowhere for a week, with no phone signal or internet. It was bliss. I have also had 6 hours sleep in the past 72, while in said wilderness.

Consequently, this shall be somewhat dreamlike, for that is my native thought process when I am away from civilisation and can feel the dreaming All-at-Once beneath the skin of all things. So come with me, friends. Come with me through the wilderness, slipping sideways through the echoes and shards of Memory, into the rawness beyond ordinary conception:

There is a place, you see. A place you may know, may half remember from dreams or visions. A place where something stood for ten thousand, thousand years. Perhaps its stones are cyclopean, as black as the Tower of Chorazin which stands on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Or perhaps they lie festooned, being more moderate in size, in creeper and vine. Wreathed in green; the air all humid with jungle heat, damp with rainforest wetness. Somewhere you may hear the clotted, gurgling roar of a jaguar or nightblack panther moving in the fiercely viridian space.

Look at it another way, and you see the old hieroglyphs, the cuneiform etched deep, as the Wail of Sumer echoes out over the lush green given by the harmony of gods and men. The tumbledown shack in a forgotten, feral Eden. The lost cavern snarled all about with root and branch from the deepest wildwoods.

Long have the winds sighed and roared and howled all about there. Long have hollow voices reached out as whispers on the night’s air. Many’s the time you may hear drums and flutes from within, as if they issue up from the very heart of the Deep Below, emissaries from those who dwell in the hollow hills and earth.

But what’s this? What lie scattered all about but the bones of men and gods, strewn all about? Myriad shades; pale ivory crisscrosses rotting yellow and spongy green, while bleached white stands out against stained scarlet streaks. And make no mistake, all these bones are the bones of predators. These are the bones of kings and lords, of queens and princesses.

Before the entrance to this place lie the last remains of Archons and Kyriarchs.

Some brought with reverence, some cast callously aside. Some shattered into a  hundred slivers, empty of marrow, splintered daggers to prick the pulsing heart of unwary passers-by.

Not that this is likely to happen, you understand, for it is rare that the unwary even penetrate this far.

Neverthess, the wild distance exists – its isolated nature means that even were you to come here with a band of folk, you would in some sense still be alone, each of you enveloped in the presence of this place, an invisible envelope pressing against your skin. For this is the Ruined Temple, the living symbol.

The manifest, recognisable presence exists here. There’s no hand, no edifice which stands eternal and inviolate, for this is where the wildnerness, with all its puissance, meets construction and subsumes it. This is the shattered place, the broken stone standing as  a momento mori, as witness to the vastness of the universe.

All things crumble, and wolves and lions may yet one day stalk city streets, as once they did. Understand then, that this broken place is not lost -rather that it has become something other than what it was. Stone, once cut and dressed, sculpted and shaped for the purposes of humankind, now lies  forgotten by mortal mind. And in that blind forgetfulness, there is something loosed, for the vital forces of the Zoetic and the Cosmogonic have suffused it.

Look on your works, ye mighty – and despair. See what the kosmos does, even to your detritus. Know how it is crushed, burnt and torn asunder by Time, and through such alchemy, how its apparent deformation renders it immortal.

And so we ask, what has this to do with power and those who would prey on others? Simple:

Power must be maintained.


The accumulation of it must be guarded. Each exertion, each stretching forth of the mighty hand, has a cost. This is what you have been taught, and it is true, as far as it goes. There are those who have power, and those who do not. The latter seek to become the former and the former are desperate not to become the latter.

But all must succumb. Every one of us will brought to their knees. This is the smiling Saturnine sickle, the mocking curve on the lips of Time. Rhadamanthus and his brothers were thus for the Ancient Greeks, those who stood upon the threshold.  Watch and learn, and allow the scales to fall from your eyes. See them fall into the soil, which seethes with serpents.

The earth is full of vital kthonic power. Your very own bodies roil with zoetic and biotic forms. Even now as you read these words, your body parts the very aethers, your heart pulses and you expel your used-up breath to feed the very green. For those with eyes that see, and they who have ears – let them hear!

My dear brother is correct – power is transient, precisely because the kosmos is transient. Mortality speaks of ends, all unaware that the womb and the tomb are in fact the same place. Those who inflict crimes against the innocent, also inflict the notion of powerlessness upon them. Folk are robbed of agency and bound with helplessness, precisely because we are taught that transience and powerlessness are not in fact the default state of  humankind. You will fail, you will fall, and anyone who claims not to do so is directly feeding upon the suffering of others, whether they know it or not.

There is much talk of empowerment, or reclaiming what was taken. The truth is, the dialectic between power and powerlessness is self-referential. There is a a secret Mystery here – victim means sacrifice, and a sacrifice is what has been set apart and made holy.Those who have been sacrificed cannot go back to what they were – the events that victimised them force them to find another way to exist, or to put it bluntly, to die.   This fact must be acknowledged, because they have had their choice taken from them – they do not choose to walk a path which isolates them from society at large.

This is why we curse those who inflict such a separation in order to satisfy their own desires – for the paths of isolation and separation which lead to understanding, are not for every soul. Such things must be engaged in wilfully, with clear eyed understanding.

Those who use and and abuse others plunge them into the Abyss, which is less the place mentioned by Crowley, than  an awful Purgatory from which many never emerge. They are rent and torn, brutalised by the shadows and unacknowledged daimons of humanity. The agony inflicted upon them is indescribable; their suffering worse than any hell.

Those who condemn others to suffering do so in a desperate attempt to separate themselves from the mess of their own internal and external conflicts.

Here at the Ruined Temple, there is no compassion for those who abuse, for compassion is as alien as brutality to us. But for their victims, we extend only kindness – and there is a difference between compassion and kindness, mark you. For long ago, we abandoned the concept of power, embracing power-lessness.

Does the ocean have power? Man would say yes – for are not storms mighty? But does the ocean accumulate power? No. It is simply itself, and in being itself, it influences. The ocean is itself, and naught else


Power is externally defined. But those of of puissant influence? Ahh, now that is another story entirely!

There are thing that cannot be be taken from you, if you can find them, under the layers and layers of impressions, conditioning and contouring. This then, is the Absolute of which we speak, the essence of that which exists beyond Saturn, where the Immortals dwell upon the Isles of the Blessed.

This then, is the Golden Age, which may only be rediscovered through ruthless engagement with the Kali Yuga upon its own terms. We must become blacksmiths and metalworkers in this age of Black Iron. constantly aware of the fact that this grim prison is constructed by the subversion of a material which burns at the heart of stars.

It is for this reason that we echo the spirit of the Christ: The First shall be Last and the Last shall be First.

Is this not our role? To use our knowledge and skills to ease suffering, suffering which is inflicted by the constructs of those who would make themselves power-ful, by carrying out their desires at the expense of others? Desires which, like all else, will be reduced to ash and swallowed by the void.

Abandon your conceptions of power – of gain and loss – and move  beyond and through power-lessness, into Beingness. You are what you are, here and now. Much has been heaped upon you, and many are the wounds you bear.  Yet still you remain. This is the Mystery which you may embrace; that there is no difference between you and the powerful in the sight of Death and Time. In dying while living, we become influence, we become ash and flame and cold – we become daimonic.

We become those things that chains no longer bind, for there is only ever us. We become as that which adheres to an inner law, one which smiles out of ten thousand masks, and in doing so we become one with the forces which lie at the heart of that which is revealed at the Ruined Temple – part of the Kosmic beingness found in all things.

And of course, this places one at odds with the consensus, at odds with a culture which teaches greedy acceptance, an ideological gluttony where thoughts, words and deeds are ingested indiscriminately, always seeking the next new hit. One where comfort and peace are sought at the expense of achieving an ever-evolving conception of what is – for the desire to maintain the status quo is deeply engrained.


So let me ask you – where were you when the walls fell?