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!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Again with the Nazis

Seriously, guys. This is what you look like to normal people.
I really, honestly, didn't want to have to post a follow-up on this topic, but considering it was my post originally that triggered this series of posts from the otherwise-usually-terrific Son of Hel, I think I should point out that he has completely and utterly missed the point of the original.

The backlash he has received for posting a five-part defense of National Socialism (and for all his attempts at backpedaling, that's what this has been) does nothing more than to demonstrate my original point. And that is, quite simply; it doesn't fucking matter.
  • It doesn't matter if you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that National Socialism is the best economic system ever devised (it's not)
  • It doesn't matter if Germany had legitimate grievances after the Treaty of Versailles (it did)
  • It doesn't matter if National Socialism did some, or even many, good things for Germany before September 1939 (it did)
  • It doesn't matter if you have films showing the Allies building fake gas chambers (they didn't)
  • It doesn't matter if the Wehrmacht operated according to the Geneva Convention and otherwise generally honorably during the war (they did, for the most part)
  • It doesn't matter if there really is a world-spanning Jewish conspiracy to exterminate white people that spans from every kosher deli owner up to George Soros (there isn't)
  • It doesn't matter if the Communists killed ten times as many people as the Fascists did (they did)
All of those things would be, and are, completely overshadowed by the fact that the National Socialist "brand" has been forever tainted in the public mind because of the crimes the regime committed. You already lost that particular war of ideas decades ago, and you are never, ever, going to win it. To even make the attempt simply tarnishes you, and no amount of trying-to-be-clever backpedaling about "pointing out the good points isn't the same as endorsing the bad points" is going to change that.

And by the way...

NEWS FLASH: Nobody today going around waving Nazi flags is doing so because they believe in the 1932 NSDAP job creation program or because they think the Autobahn is so wonderful. They're doing it because they hate Jews and blacks and they like the fact that the Nazis tried to murder as many Jews as they could*.

You can't make an interstate highway system without
exterminating some untermenschen!

Coincidentally (at least I think it's coincidental; as far as I can tell neither side has mentioned this blog or Son of Hel, so I'm assuming it's just something in the air at the moment), there's a bit of a back-and-forth between Varg Vikernes and Guardians of Scandinavia (which seems to have either taken down all their videos or have had them taken down for them) about whether Tribalism or National Socialism is the best route to go in Scandinavia. Varg seems to be of the opinion that National Socialism isn't viable because the Jews and their puppets in the American military wouldn't ever allow it, while the Guardians seem to think that National Socialism is absolutely the only way that Europeans will ever endure, and any other approach is doomed to failure. Le sigh

There is one exception, however.

If one has a track record of being patently against the excesses and crimes of National Socialism, unabashedly and unreservedly, then one might -- might -- have a chance to redeem certain of the genuine parts of Germanic tradition that are perceived as tainted by the National Socialist regime. And there are indeed worthy projects along those lines that have been done in the past, are being done today, and are still to be done in the future.

Redeeming the runes themselves was a task, successfully done by rigorous academic study applied in a strictly apolitical context. There's currently a movement afoot to redeem the swastika, both by those who are sincere and those who are disingenuous; the latter aren't doing the former any favors, by the way.

Yeaaaaaah, about that...

There are doubtless more such battles to be fought because the Nazis tore through our lore like a tornado looking for bits and pieces to use to inspire their followers, but they're never going to be won by people who are obviously doing it as a way to attempt to "normalize" National Socialism. Because that's not going to happen. Ever. Just stop trying. Blame it on the "total control of the Jews over the national media" or whatever paranoid fantasy keeps you from realizing that nobody's really in control of what happens in the world, but just stop. Let's try to keep the good stuff without embracing the bad stuff, mkay?

Since "folkish" doesn't mean "racist", that should be easy enough.


Just to clarify the attempt of the original and this post. I am not trying to attack anyone. Honest! I am making a genuine plea to knock off a trend that I think is genuinely harmful not only to Asatru in specific, but our Folk in general. There are so many talented, creative, and awesome people who insist on trying to be "cute" and walk this line, that I think is so ultimately harmful to our cause. Put your energies into things that aren't so thorny (or "edgy" if you prefer) and I think you'll find the results are way more impressive, and the end result far more effective, than you think.


* Or they're simply trying to get a rise out of people, and do it for the lulz, in which case they're just being disruptive, as opposed to genuinely trying to influence policy. There are a lot more people like that today than there were in, say, the 1960's when George Lincoln Rockwell was making speeches, or the 1970's when the remnants of his movement were marching through Skokie. Today even the Alt-Right dismisses the armband-crowd as cosplayers.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday YouTube Roundup - July 30, 2017

Hey all! I'm pressed for time this week, so we'll jump right in. First off, Sargon of Akkad examines The Unquestionable Idea, namely that Islam is above scrutiny:

Next up, the ever-controversial Varg Vikernes uses his new beater car to make a point about Different Perspectives; having a car that needs a lot of work is only a problem if you can't fix it yourself. And that applies in a lot of different areas as well:

The Grow Do It channel has a nice piece on the Nordic Permaculture Festival in Iceland. Looks really cool!

And finally, we have...

Fuck. I don't even know what to make of this. Is it a parody? Is it serious? I'm going to guess parody, but looking at the rest of the channel, it's entirely possible that Poe's Law is in effect.

I'm just going to drop this here and let y'all fight it out in the comments on Afro Aryan Slavic Viking Pride Band - We Were Vikings and shit (Traditional Azz Nordic Music Nigga) (I shit you not; that's the title):

Either way, well played Tony Haben, well played.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

This month's issue of Skeptic Magazine

I'm a regular reader of Skeptic magazine. Even though they have (like so many things) taken a turn towards politicization of their articles (such as their stance on global warming, which they have decreed is impossible to be skeptical about), but especially for someone like me who is deeply involved in magical and mystical things, it's important to remain grounded and to constantly remind oneself and train one's mind to look for mundane explanations before automatically leaping to a supernatural agency (although it's also important not to go too far and say that everything must have a scientific explanation). It makes the really supernatural stuff all the more awesome.

That said, the issue currently on newsstands (Volume 22, Number 2) has a cover story about artificial intelligence, which is definitely an interest of mine, and thus I dutifully bought the issue. But what should I find within but a plethora of articles about, you guessed it, race and politics.

First up is "Are You An Unconscious Racist?" by social psychologist Carol Tavris. This, unexpectedly, is a wonderful critique of the Implicit Association Test (IAT), which purports to measure unconscious racial bias. The article gives in-depth criticisms of both the efficacy of the test itself and what it really measures (as opposed to what its designers thought they were measuring), but also how it is still being misused today:
...does the IAT really capture unconscious prejudices? Can the test predict whether people will actually behave in a biased or discriminatory way? The evidence is now pretty clear that the answers to both are "no."
That is followed up by "The Rise of the Alt-Right and the Politics of Polarization in America", by associate professor of criminal justice and author of a bunch of anti-"extreme right" books George Michael. Right off the bat I found the title of this article off-putting, seeming to blame, as it does, the current political polarization on the Alt-Right, rather than the blame being shared (in my opinion) by both sides of the political aisle. Michael takes us on a tour of some of the luminaries of the Alt Right movement; Richard Spencer, Jared Taylor, Kevin MacDonald, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Matthew Heimbach, and Alexander Dugin, as well as Breitbart News.

Predictably, and unfortunately, the article reeks of bias, as was to be expected given the author. He blames Trump and the Alt Right as the purveyors of "entryism", which has in fact been a tool of the far left for generations; burrow into a sub-culture or institution and politicize it. We've seen it on display in Neopaganism, but to Michael it's only something that the right does. Similarly, he claims "conspiracy theories have long resonated with the far right," although the number of left-wingers who trot out conspiracy theories about vaccines, GMOs, and most recently, Trump-Russia "collusion."

All in all, it's a pretty terrible article, trying to paint the Alt Right in as bad a light as possible, ignoring parallels among the Ctrl Left, and ultimately trying to undermine Donald Trump by making false associations with the boogeyman of the hour, the Alt Right.

Finally, we have "Is Race a Useful Concept?" by graduate student of genetics Razib Khan and associate professor of epidemiology and criminal justice Brian Boutwell. It begins by splitting the baby, somewhat:
We seek to address a singular, simple question: are racial classifications (Black, White, Hispanic, etc.) a pure social construction, or are they "real" on some deeper biological level? Scientific advances continue to converge on a single, clear, conclusion: Race is a useful social construction that maps onto a biological reality.
The article then goes into the genetic component of race, the value of social constructs, and compares the concept of race to that of species, which is as they say "slippery." On the whole it's a nice little article, although it doesn't really bring a lot of detail to the discussion, that isn't its purpose. It's setting out to start the conversation in a way that doesn't bow to the conventional progressive view of the subject, and I daresay the letters column in the next issue of the magazine will be interesting indeed.