Sunday, September 3, 2017

Sunday YouTube Roundup - September 3, 2017

Crap, it's been way too long since I did one of these.

I'll try to be better, but no promises. Another reason to go to Denmark, although I want to ask the source for the narrator's assertion that the Vikings were "welcoming outsiders who wanted to be part of their faith." As if they were some hippy-dippy commune. Unless he's counting slaves bought at the market at Birka.

I will just leave this here, but it's effing cool.

A nice recap of the Norse afterlife (and he's spot on about the multiplicity of potential afterlife destinations), although I might quibble about some of the specifics.

And finally, a Finnish Runo-Song (!) which is apparently a traditional Finnish style of folk music. I need to know more about the origin of the name of this style of song.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Am I a member of the alt right?

Today on Facebook, someone made the comment "I just thought you were one of those alt right AFA types."

Setting aside for the moment the fact that I was "one of those AFA types" for years, graduated the AFA clergy program, and think the AFA did decades of good work on behalf of Asatru and the folk before the new leadership took things in a different direction, I'd like to talk about the alt right.

To answer the question, "are you a member of the alt right?" requires a definition of what, exactly, the term means. And despite the rather, shall we say, jaundiced definitions that are floating around out there promoted by people who most definitely do not like the alt right (many of whom are brilliantly tagged the "control left"), the question of "what is the alt right?" is a legitimate one, and one which will ultimately yield an answer as to whether or not I'm one of them.

I will deliberately eschew the labels and definitions that those who do not call themselves alt right provide, as these are by design intended to marginalize, undermine, and ultimately dehumanize (the SJW's use the term "otherize" when it's being done to them) the people who do self-identify with the alt right label. That leaves those who do self-identify as being alt right, and those few outsiders who engage in good-faith efforts to discuss the movement (interestingly, those who do so are themselves condemned as bigots, merely because they try to give an honest look at the alt right, rather than a hate-filled screed designed to eviscerate it).

Skeptic magazine recently came out with an analysis of the alt right, and although they are very obviously not an alt right publication themselves, they did a pretty straight job of describing it and its luminaries ("leaders" seems like the wrong term). That must be why waste-of-oxygen PZ Myers hates them for it.

The general impression is that the alt right is far from some monolithic bloc with a defined credo. It's not. It's a nebulous thing, centered on the idea that traditional National Review-style conservatism and Bush 43-era neo-conservatism is a disaster and barely differentiated from liberalism, with a mix of nationalism, racism and racialism (not the same thing), anti-Islamism, antisemitism, anti-Marxism/Communism, fascism, populism, distrust of big government, and a conspiracy mindset, among many other things. It's also quite aggressive, and willing to push its ideas using tactics that have been entirely the province of the left before now.

That's a huge swath of ideological positions, and the fact that not all are required complicates the question of a definition even further. Indeed, some who self-identify as alt right will argue vociferously that a given position taken by another, and held to be part of their alt right identity, is in fact contrary to the alt right idea.

The true miracle is that they all still use the label and the whole thing hasn't shattered into a zillion pieces before now. I attribute it, more than a little, to the fact that the right is much more forgiving of heresy, and it's the left that demands absolute ideological lockstep on all issues. The left embraces the idea of "I won't call myself X if person Y also does, because he believes in Z. And it's his fault, and needs to stop calling himself X." The right seems much more comfortable with the idea that they can call themselves X and it's just understood that it doesn't necessarily entail also believing Z just because some people do.

What that boils down to is, just because some people in the alt right say a given idea is part of it, doesn't necessarily mean that everyone in the alt right has to agree with that.

What fun!

It's also complicated by the fact that it's not just the alt right that we're talking about. There's also an "alt lite". It's a term that was coined (as far as I can tell) in 2014 by the Occidental Dissent blog, as a disparaging term:
They are conservatives and libertarians who have only recently immigrated to White Man’s Island. Some of these interlopers are now using The Heil Heard Around The World as an excuse to stake a claim to our freaking island.
By the Alt-Lite, I am referring to Breitbart, the Milo phenomenon, Paul Joseph Watson and Infowars, Cernovich and a few other people. A few years ago, none of these people were around. They certainly weren’t nationalists. They saw that our movement was steadily gaining ground and opportunistically hopped on the bandwagon. We’ve always known this would be a problem once our movement began to hit a critical mass.
That post is well worth reading (going on as it does about Jews, and the evils of selling stuff, and gays), but I think the split is encapsulated by this tweet by Paul Joseph Watson:

I think that's my answer. I'm not alt right. I'm alt light. I am quite definitely a nationalist, and want to see our borders secured. But I'm not a white nationalist; I don't think the United States should be a whites-only country based on our history (Europe is a different story, again, based on its history, but so are Japan, and Namibia, and Kurdistan). I love my race and want to see it prosper and endure as a thing unto itself, but I don't want to see other races kept down or anything. I think Asatru is an indigenous European faith, just like I think Shinto is an indigenous Japanese faith, and Yoruba is an indigenous African faith. I loathe Political Correctness and the Social Justice movement, and value individual liberty over collective outrage-soothing, but I'm also not blind to the existential threat Muslim migration poses to the West as a whole.

I'm okay with being on the same side as Breitbart News, Milo, Paul Joseph Watson, and others, and am willing to not be on the side of folks like Richard Spencer, but also not on the side of folks like John McCain, Charles Krauthammer, and Megyn Kelly.

Yeah, I'm okay with that.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Folkish Summer Hallowing 2017

(Top to bottom: Irminfolk, Shield Wall
Kindred, Balder Rising, and
Skylands Asatru Fellowship)
Last weekend the Irminfolk hosted Folkish Summer Hallowing, as they have for several years running. It's a chance for the folkish Asatru community to get together in the beautiful mountains of the Poconos, exchange ideas, hold ritual, and generally recharge the batteries.

The range of groups in attendance was large, and many of them came equipped with their tribal flags and banners to fly from the camp flagpole. As I've written about before, it's sort of a thing here in the northeast for groups to have flags. I love it.

There was also a large number of children in attendance (and several dogs!), and activities were available to keep the younglings occupied throughout the weekend. The Irminfolk are always careful to take very good care that the kids are given stuff to do, and it reflects well on them. There were a number of classes and workshops, including a demonstration of blacksmithing.

I was there not only as a representative of my own tribe (we had a half dozen folks there, both members and family), but I also gave a talk on landwights (one of my hot-button issues) and was vending Viking-themed board games. There were a bunch of other vendors there as well (including two others from SAF), and the raffle on Saturday night was well-stocked with loot. I can report I didn't win diddly, which is par for the course.

On Friday night there was a concert by half of the band Changes (the other half being laid up by car problems), followed by karaoke and not a little drinking, and it's rumored I might have indulged in a song or two. It's also rumored that there is video of this happening, but I will point out the existence of my evil twin brother, who is wont to pretend to be me, for just such an occasion. Ahem.

If that is me, and I deny it's true, I'm the one on the right.
The one wearing pants.
Let's be very clear on that point. Pants.
On Saturday there was both blót and sumbel. Taking the latter first, the sumbel was very well done and heartfelt, and many fine words were spoken over the horn (although no oaths that I recall; the Irminfolk have a somewhat complex tribal thew about oaths, involving keeping some of the mead from the horn until the oath is fulfilled). Skylands officially recognized a new member, and the Irminfolk brought in two new folk this weekend.

But the blót that preceded it... the blót was something special.

It began with a torchlit procession to the ritual site, led by a military-style color guard bearing flags. The procession itself was great, but I have to say the flag thing got a little much for me, as there were various commands of "honor, ten-hut!" and so forth during the blót. I found it distracting, but that's just me.

But the Irminfolk had built a miniature Viking ship and laden it with pine boughs, mineral salts (to provide color as it burned), and invited the assembled folk to lay within it items to be sacrificed; mostly fruits of the harvest were included, but some other objects as well. The blót was dedicated to Thor, and most of the folks assembled toasted him as the horn went around the circle of people. I'm still not a fan of this particular style of blót, but I have to say it wasn't nearly as tedious as I've seen it done in the past. The ship was then carried onto the fire, and as the words were being spoken, I did what I normally do. I looked for omens.

And boy, howdy! Were there omens.

To start with, the blót began a little before dusk, and naturally the sky got dark as it went on. Just as the ritual was dedicated to Thor a single star appeared in the sky. I was certain it was Jupiter (because I tend to keep track of which planets are visible in the sky), but it was very literally the only star visible. At all. Until the blót was officially ended, and at that exact moment, one could begin to see all the other stars in the sky. I wasn't the only one who noticed, and it was later confirmed that the star in question was indeed Jupiter.

And Jupiter is associated with Thor. The god of thunder.

But it gets better. After the blót was formally concluded, as we were watching the fire consume the boat with the offerings, we could see things in the fire. Shapes, images, beings. Here are a few photos; I'll let you see what you see in the flames.

But the kicker came as the boat was burning. Off on the horizon, to the west and north, there was a dazzling display of lightning. There wasn't a cloud over our heads, but off in the distance was a continuous lightning storm. At first I thought it might have been fireworks, but it wasn't contained in a single location; it spanned the horizon for a full 90 degrees.

Let that sink in. The star of Thor the only one visible during a blót dedicated to Thor. Unmistakable images in the fire. And a lightning show afterwards that didn't do anything except inspire awe and wonder in the assembled folk. Not a drop of rain to scatter us under cover.

This was a powerful event. One marked with not a harsh word of hate that I heard, just words of love for our folk. A time when various local tribes came together to celebrate those things that we have in common, Asatru and Theodish alike, and set aside for a time those things that we might not have in common. A time when Thor looked down on those assembled and smiled, to give us strength in the times of trial that are surely ahead of us.

Damn, this was a terrific weekend.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Heron of Forgetfulness: Drink and Moderation in Germanic Religion

The ale of the sons of men 
is not as good, 
as they say; 
since about his own mind 
a man knows less, 
the more he drinks.

That is called the heron of forgetfulness, 
which hovers over ale-parties, 
it robs a man of his mind; 
with this bird's feathers 
I was fettered 
in Gunnlath's garden.

-Hávamál, verses 12 & 13

The stereotypical scene of the Viking feast is one of drunken revelry. Influenced, perhaps, by the iconic scene in the 1958 film The Vikings, we picture in our mind’s eye a wild and raucous scene with food being flung about, beautiful blonde women serving mead in enormous drinking-horns drawn from even more enormous vats, both songs and fights breaking out, and Ernest Borgnine-like figures bellowing loud toasts to “ODINNNNN!!”

The reality was (and is) somewhat different.

As quoted at the beginning of this article, the Hávamál-- one of the poems of the Poetic Edda that concerns itself, among other things, with offering down-to-earth bits of wisdom-- councils against over-indulging in alcohol. This may be contrasted with the importance of ritualized drinking in Germanic religion. In fact, one of the most significant ceremonies in modern Heathen practice is the sumbel (AS symbel), which is built around the ritualized drinking of toasts. How to reconcile these two extremes?

The answer lies in the nature of the sumbel itself.

Sumbel is a ritual wherein a sacramental beverage (usually mead, but cider, wine, beer, or non-alcoholic beverages are often used in modern practice) is used to make toasts of several different kinds. The ritual is described in great detail in the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf (lines 607-641), where Queen Wealhtheow herself serves the holy mead, “through the hall… to younger and older everywhere.” That Wealhtheow was a woman is in itself significant in the context of the offered drink, as many modern Heathens, particularly those of Theodish stripe, believe that it is unlucky to take a drink in sumbel from a man. That she is of high rank is also significant, as the serving of the mead at sumbel is not drudgery to be left to servants, but a high honor, jealously guarded. It is also recalled in the tradition of the valkyries in Odin’s hall Valhalla bearing cups of mead to the assembled heroes who dwell there.

Once begun, the participants of the sumbel are taken, metaphorically and metaphysically, to another place. The words spoken and actions performed during sumbel are of critical significance, as the horn is a symbolic representation of the Well of Wyrd, and words spoken into the Well impact the fate of both speaker and listeners in a very real and literal sense. Oaths, for example, sworn over a horn during sumbel are of particular import. It is not simply the case that, having sworn an oath, one should do one’s best to fulfill it. Having done so over a horn, over the Well of Wyrd itself, means that the oath-maker has literally changed the nature of reality, setting the universe on a course leading to the fulfillment of that oath. It is possible for such an oath to be broken, of course, but doing so upsets the balance of the universe. One’s own fate is rocked by such failure, and the consequences extend to all those who were present in the hall when the oath was sworn, as well as to those whose Luck is intertwined with the oath-maker.

While there are many instances in the literature which demonstrate the ill effects that can come from over-indulgence in drink, the Saga of the Jómsvikings does so with great clarity, serving as a cautionary tale that brings the warnings of the Hávamál into sharp focus. King Sveinn of Denmark gave a great feast in honor of the dead father of several of the Jómsvikings (an independent band of mercenaries). Plying them with the strongest drink available, he goaded them into swearing dangerous and ill-advised oaths. This several of them did, swearing to attack and overthrow the powerful Jarl Hákon of Norway. The next morning, they did not even remember swearing the oaths, but that, in the Germanic conception of the sacred nature of oaths, was immaterial. They had said they would do a thing, and would do it or die trying. The expedition was a colossal defeat.

Most modern sumbels are structured with three rounds of toasts. The first is a toast to the Gods; as a rule, this is limited to Germanic Gods, but different groups have different customs on this count, and guests may or may not be permitted to offer toasts to foreign deities. Some groups place further limits on such toasts, frequently disallowing toasts in honor of Loki, Fenrir, and other figures from Norse mythology who are seen as being enemies of the Gods and humanity. Again, different groups will have different rules, and if you find yourself in a sumbel and have a question about the appropriateness of a toast you intend to make, proper etiquette says that you should ask first. In some cases the horn is passed from person to person, and each makes their own toast. Other groups will do a “group toast”, with everyone assembled drinking at once. There are few hard-and-fast universal rules as far as the details go, as long as the general outline is followed (for example, some groups have a taboo about food being present, or that the sumbel must be held indoors; other groups do not share these restrictions, but might have others of their own).

After the Gods have received their honor, the second round of toasts is usually devoted to personal heroes and ancestors. The third is usually the broadest round of toasts, as it can involve anything from a boast about an accomplishment or one’s worth and/or ancestry or an oath to do some deed in the future. Gifts are often given during this round, and those with musical ability will often take this opportunity to showcase their talents. But it is in the swearing of oaths-- the béot (an Anglo-Saxon word, pronounced “beawt”)-- where the deepest mysteries of the sumbel are discovered.

Because, in Germanic society, “ill luck” from an unfulfilled oath could taint not only the oath-maker, but those others assembled in the hall as well, the office of the thule was established (ON ÞulR, AS Þyle). One of the thule’s roles during sumbel is to ensure that no ill-considered oaths are sworn during the ceremony, nor any unlucky words said or actions taken. In many ways the thule acts as the “master of ceremonies”, ensuring that the sumbel flows smoothly, and that it does not degenerate into silliness or unseemliness. This should not, however, be taken to mean that the sumbel is not a joyous time; humor and wit are welcomed during the rite, as long as the general decorum is maintained.

While the examples above, from the Hávamál and the Saga of the Jómsvikings, come from Scandinavia, the imprecations against excess in drinking were not limited to the Norse. One of the riddles in the (Anglo-Saxon) Exeter Book calls mead “scourge of men”, and says that it leaves men “Flush on the ground, robbed of strength, reckless of speech.” But this is not to say that drunkenness was unknown in Germanic culture by any means! Tacitus, for example, states in his book Germania that “To pass an entire day and night in drinking disgraces no one” and “If you indulge their love of drinking by supplying them [the Germans] with as much as they desire, they will be overcome by their own vices as easily as by the arms of an enemy.” And, perhaps most famously, when describing the Germans’ habit of discussing weighty matters while drunk, and then again while sober, “They deliberate when they have no power to dissemble; they resolve when error is impossible.” Egil Skallagrimson, perhaps the most famous character from the Icelandic Sagas, is sad to have been well drunk more than once, even to the point of throwing up on his host. Critically, this is never seen to have happened at a formal sumbel; the descriptions in the saga are of more ordinary feasts and ale-fests.

Thus we see that, while there is a great history of drunkenness as being the norm in Germanic culture, there was a tradition of moderation as an ideal. This tradition was directly expressed in the literature with which most in a Germanic culture would be familiar, such as the Hávamál and riddles, as well as in cautionary tales such as those found in the Saga of the Jómsvikings. However, in the modern context this ideal is more often expressed and enforced in the ritual of sumbel, that the feathers of the heron of forgetfulness not bind those who are speaking their words into the Well of Wyrd.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

More Thoughts on the Battle of Charlottesburg

The victim. I don't agree with her
politics, but I absolutely don't think
she deserved to be killed for them
Following up on my article from yesterday about what happened at the abortive "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottsville, I want to take a minute to comment specifically on the one aspect that has dominated the discussion, now that there's more information available. That is, the alleged ramming of a car into a bunch of counter-protesters by UtR participant James Alex Fields Jr*.

The fact that someone rammed that car into the crowd, and killed one of the counter-protesters, is not in doubt. The fact that Mr. Fields is now in custody, and will be arraigned tomorrow, is also not in doubt. His possible motives are unknown (although there's no shortage of speculation), but it should also be stressed that he, like anyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law by a trial of his peers.

That said...

If it was done intentionally**, then it was an act of domestic terrorism, and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Period.

There is no excuse for deliberately plowing a car into a crowd. It's terrorism and murder when a Muslim does it, and it's terrorism and murder when an Alt-Righter does it. There's no excuse for it on a human scale, and ultimately it does more harm to the cause he purports to support than it does good. Such a thing is unforgivable and intolerable, no matter what the ideology of the perpetrator.


* Not Joel Vangheluwe, as was widely reported yesterday (and today) on some right-wing websites. The /pol identification of Joel Vangheluwe was in error, and widely retracted. Please don't spread it.

** That is, not some mechanical failure, or some panic-induced attempt to escape being attacked by counter-protesters, or something, both of which seem pretty far-fetched at this point, but just covering all the bases.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Thoughts on the Battle of Charlottesville

An innocent and peaceful antifa counter-demonstrator
punches someone in the back of the head. Well done,
peaceful antifa counter-demonstrator. How tolerant.
Today marked yet another blow in the ongoing campaign of antifa to silence those with whom they disagree. Not that they framed it in such lofty terms, of course; they went to Charlottesville armed with clubs and pepper spray and decked out in helmets, explicitly to deny the Unite the Right rally the chance to speak and peaceably assemble, to protest the removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee.

Yes, I said "peaceably assemble" because it seems to have been a failure on the part of law enforcement to protect the Unite the Right rally's constitutional right to freedom of speech. Instead, they failed to impose restrictions on the counter-protesters, failed to separate them from the UtR rally that had legally gotten a permit to assemble, and then failed to remove the violent antifa/BLM thugs when they predictably turned ugly.

Now, lest you think that the fault for the violence in Charlottesville today was on the right, let's review what happened when antifa and Black Lives Matter protested over the course of the last year or two.

Were there any "white supremacists" or "white nationalists" in Dallas when a BLM sniper killed five police officers? Or three more in Baton Rouge? No, despite the hysterical rhetoric from the left. There were no Klan counter-protesters, no white nationalist groups provoking the Black Lives Matters rioters. They were just there to riot, and they did. And cops died.

And antifa? They wouldn't know a real fascist if one threw them in a concentration camp. To them, everyone right of Bernie Sanders is a "Nazi". And yet they're more than willing to launch their temper-tantrums and cause thousands of dollars in property damage just to stop a gay Jewish man and a woman from speaking in Berkeley. Because they disagree with them.

I thought they were supposed to be on the side of minorities like gays and Jews and women? Apparently not.

But once again, there weren't any hordes of white supremacists on the streets of Berkeley "provoking" them. Antifa doesn't need to be provoked. It comes pre-provoked, and ready for violence, whether against property or people.

Don't believe me? Walk down the street in Berkeley with a Make America Great Again hat. I double-dog dare you.

No, the violence in Charlottesville today was just another example of the far left's "rioter's veto" and when we keep seeing people decrying the "white supremacists" for the violence, we need to remember that that's just another part of the Big Lie.

The true domestic terrorists are antifa and Black Lives matter. The police completely failed today in Charlottesville. What they should have been doing is protecting the First Amendment rights of the Unite the Right rally. What they did instead was to give antifa/BLM another venue to erupt into violence and attack those on the right.

I'm no fan of the Klan by any means. I'm not a white supremacist. But damnit all, they have a right to speak! And no threats of violence to try to prevent or disrupt that right should be tolerated.

If we are going to have government picking and choosing which ideas are allowed to be expressed in public, then the First Amendment is truly worthless. Because if we're going to pick and choose onerous ideologies that deserve to be silenced, then we should be starting with Marxism, with its 100 million body count.

As for the horrific incident with the car, I reserve judgement until all the facts are known. Some moron antifa protester saying "it was NAZIS!" isn't enough for me. I await the facts.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sunday YouTube Roundup - August 6, 2017

First up, Tara McCarthy asks, Can Mixed Race People be Part of the Alt Right? Her answer; yes, for the most part.

Guardians of Scandinavia seems to have gotten its videos back up, and here's one of the ones I mentioned in my earlier post about Nazis; National Socialism vs Tribalism. It unfortunately suffers the same problem in reasoning that many do; it sets up the false dichotomy that if you're not in favor of National Socialism, you're in favor of white genocide because nothing else could possibly save the European peoples. Which of course is absolute nonsense.

Red Ice TV gives us Stephen McNallen, with An Update on the Wotan Network - Wolf Age. Great stuff, and I highly recommend #wotannetwork.

Dr. Dennis Stanford gives a presentation on the Solutrean Hypothesis, which posits that Europeans settled the North American continent some 20,000 years ago, predating the Asian migrants from across the Bearing Straights. Here is Ice Age Discovery of North America. It's long, but interesting if you're into anthropology and archaeology.

Finally, New China TV visited the Viljandi Folk Festival in Estonia, and gives us highlights in their video Estonia's Viljandi Folk Festival - The Party Was a Blast!