‘Deep Ecology’ and Our Place in Nature

I have to admit that there is something very appealing about the worlds shown in fantasy literature, films and video games. One feature that seems to encompass all of these portrayals is the prevalence of wildlife and wildwood, which are also populated by magical beings such as elves, goblins and trolls. The forests and open landscapes are what many heroes have to pass through on their quests, as the human settlements are either small villages or castles, as opposed to large cities that have very little biodiversity in and around them. The reason for this is fairly obvious, it reflects our continuous longing for a time before, when we had not learned how to exploit the land and its creatures, and we lived alongside rather than apart form Nature.

Our native mythology is the source of this imagery in modern fantasy, as our ancestral memories will evoke the desire to once again see what our land was like before the extermination of the wolf and the boar, but also other paranormal creatures such as BBCs (British Big Cats, large panther-like felines seen throughout the British countryside and are part of our native lore). Not only that, but the forests and caves are also places where a hero must journey to seek some sort of person as part of their quest, or to find some special object and overcome a guardian (such as a dragon or an elfin knight). Our relationship with the land is reflected in our stories and songs, and so its’ welfare is directly linked with our spiritual health as a people and how much we value our own country. Another consistent feature of fantasy is the absence of high technology, as most technology is represented at a Medieval level, with honourable weapons, such as swords and shields and bows and arrows, being used in the place of guns and drones. The destruction is present, but it does not throw the whole system out of balance, as warfare and disaster is a part of life and will happen no matter how much ‘control’ we may think we have over Nature.

One of the major downsides of Modern bourgeois life is that it has become so dreadfully mundane and mediocre, the most that any of us can expect is for things to trundle on in the search for eternal comfort and ease without regard for what we are even meant to do with the time given to us to live on Earth. Few believe in the existence of fairies or sprites because they are not material beings, and so they cannot exist because they do not inhabit the same material plain as we do (Midgard is the ‘Middle Earth’., betwixt the heavens and the underworld and surrounded by the Otherworld). The result is that our environment becomes nothing special to us, it provides useful resources in the form of raw materials and space to build more habitations; but it isn’t seen to have any independent or intelligent agency of its own, and many are still confused as to why things exist in the forms that they do and what we are meant to do with them.

There are few reasons why our economic system that is based on continuous expansion (a concept so absurd is is frightening to think that so many in power take it seriously) would consider the loss of biological life to be less important than human demands, and also the fact that all reigning political and social ideologies place humans above the Earth and not on it. For this, we have the lasting influence of the Abrahamic religions to thank, as the commandment by ‘Yaweh’ to “be fruitful and multiply” did not stress the importance of population control and the consequences of ‘giving’ the Earth to humans. We cannot be ‘given’ the Earth as we are a part of it, and we are dependent on each other’s survival. We would not exist if Nature did not think us suitable to evolve to this level, and if we were not expected to fulfil our duties and responsibilities to maintaining balance on the planet.

The direct connection that we have with Nature is one of the reasons why ideologies that place human ideals above the laws of Nature consistently fail when put into practice, because they do not consider what is required to maintain a healthy ecosystem and that it is only within this framework that a society can survive long-term. Understanding our influence on our environment is essential to functioning in the real world and requires the humility of seeing your own needs as just as important as other life around you. This is known as ‘deep ecology’, which stresses the need to assess our impact on life around us and to reduce not only our own comfort and excessively high standards of living, but also to think about the importance of particular organisms and their purpose in the environment. Every life form belongs somewhere, even hated creatures such as wasps or spiders are essential to their own sphere of existence, which requires predation on flies and other insects to control their population. Animals such as rats or ants only become a problem and breed in excessive numbers if humans have radically altered the environment in a way that does not accommodate animals with more niche requirements, and they simply survive on the waste left by humans, which is now very excessive. Some issues are uncomfortable to discuss an many are so detached from Nature that they don’t wish to deal with things like pollution from the production of plastics or the amount of human waste that ends up in the sea because there is nowhere else to dump it that doesn’t cause disease (at least in the mean time).

Environmentalism has become sadly associated with socialist values, and many ‘Green’ parties have embraced such ideas to the point where they seem more important than actually dealing with our ecological crisis. They, unfortunately have the tendency to espouse ‘social ecology’, which (as you can probably tell from the word ‘social’) is an attempt to bring the environment in line with our perceived needs. The idea that we can maintain the same standard of living while also reducing our destructive impact on our world is another idealistic and unrealistic perspective on the environment. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels will not reduce our excessive demand for energy, for which governments seem content to subsidize corporations to build even more roads and infrastructure for the sake of very inefficient ‘green energy’ technology (such as windfarms and hydroelectric dams). The political response is completely skewed towards meeting this demand, and the difference is only whether we should primarily rely on fossil fuels or not.

Modern values are also not consistent with Natural Law, in that they do not consider laws which are not made by man and cannot accommodate the problems that result from introducing and exterminating certain species from an ecosystem.While some foreign species can be introduced with little harm to the native flora and fauna (such as beech and maple trees and fallow deer), this is usually because they also come from a similar ecosystem, which may or may not be nearby. However, plants such as rhododendron from the Mediterranean and and animals like grey squirrels from North America have had a devastating impact on the British ecosystem, as they compete so fiercely with the native inhabitants to ensure their own survival in a foreign environment, they end up taking over and decreasing biodiversity. If humans are at least part animal (providing the possibility that we are also divine), then that also means that we are subject to Nature’s laws and the interactions between different human populations can mirror those between native and invasive species, if peoples with incompatible cultures are introduced to the wrong environment.

Such issues are uncomfortable to address in such a repressed society, where people’s personal sensitivities are held above objective truth. There is also no equality in Nature, and each being is possessed of its own capabilities which enable it to compete with other organisms. If you remove this then you are left with a monoculture, where only a few select species exist in large numbers are there is less biodiversity. Ignoring problems does not make them go away, and the consequences of our hubris are building over time. It is unfortunate that Modern society has made the masses weak and ignorant to their surroundings, as this will only mean that catastrophe will be something unexpected and impossible to deal with for those who don’t know what is coming. As with personal emotions that create a shadow if they are not accepted to be a part of oneself (which embodies all that is rejected and becomes larger if ignored), the waste from nuclear power, plastic production, cleaning chemicals, humans and their food will create a fertile environment for disease, which always spreads quicker in overpopulated areas, and the human species could see a near extinction event.

This is a result of our own collective neglect and loss of spiritual values, as we struggle to find meaning in a Hell which we have created for ourselves because we have lost our connection with Nature. I’m sorry to say that most of our problems will not be fixed by focusing on reducing our ‘carbon footprint’ to counter ‘climate change’ and the practice of recycling. At this point, the best thing one can do is to focus on reducing your own living standards (which is not the same as what we might associate with the Third World, but rather a cleaner and more autonomous lifestyle that reduces general consumption) and work with others who are doing the same. The sad fact about environmentalism is that it cannot save all of the people on the planet and also restore the balance of the environment. This is why the wishes of ‘humanitarian’ philosophies will always be at odds with Natural Law and the equilibrium that we are supposed to uphold.

Thankfully, continuing our quest of insight into the world around us will guide us through dark times, and Nature will be kinder to those who understand what she requires from us. This does not mean that learning to live in harmony with Nature will make you immune to any of the disasters and plagues that exist in the world, but an autonomous lifestyle will help to deal with such events. Survivalism and self-reliance are the most useful ideals when learning to live naturally, as this enables you to be responsible for yourself, but also more free like a wild animal. ‘Wildness’ is simply ecological maturity, it is the point at which an organism comes into its own and is instinctively able to determine its place within the world around it after growing up. The self-domestication of mankind has led to our infantalization and many of us are still too immature to deal with reality well into old age.The age of the ‘suffering god’ (Christ on the cross or Wotan on the tree) has ended and we have come into a time that requires a different outlook.

Instead of the loss of honour that has affected our species for thousands of years, we can now reclaim that lost glory as we recognise the importance of who we are and where we are from. Heritage is not only our connection to our ancestors and our folk, but also to the land that we live on. Once we can again imagine the world we inhabit as both wonderful and horrible, material and spiritual and full of both loss and joy, we can regain our power to act with dignity and respect to our Great Mother. Her lessons will be harsh and it will inevitably become a matter of survival of the fittest, in ways physical, mental and spiritual. An awareness of the causes of disease and of cures that can be found in the wild fulfils our needs for interaction and communion with Nature and also enables us to protect ourselves and our families against the forces of death and destruction. To live without a fear of death is the way of the warrior, and this code of behaviour is our best chance of survival if we wish to maintain the prosperity of our folk.

Wulf Willelmson

Traditionalism and Reconstructionism

To begin explaining the difference between these two approaches within modern paganism, I wish to share my own personal experience which led to my current understanding of Wotanism and of modern paganism in general. I have always had an interest in the occult as well as history and philosophy, but it was only as a teenager that I began to search for my own spiritual path. I trawled through various belief systems that interested me (Wicca, Norse paganism, Satanism etc.) before settling on an entirely atheistic and fatalistic perspective which was rooted in a materialist understanding of the world that came from my adherence to Marxism. It was only after going through the worst year of my life that I began to lose faith in such a hopeless and destructive way of thinking and once again became interested in something that appealed to my own tastes from a cultural perspective. Listening to a lot of pagan black metal music, I started to wonder about the pagan past of my own country, and looked to history to discover what was most relevant for my time and place. The part of Scotland that I live in was inhabited by the Picts in Pre-Christian times, and it was my research about this people in particular that informed my understanding of paganism (with an emphasis on the Brittonic tradition). My interest continued through to university (which provided much more free time for study than high school) and I learned more and more about the period preceding the Picts’ conversion to Christianity, namely the Late Iron Age and Post-Roman Scotland. It was what we know about this period in history that shaped my religious and spiritual beliefs and was the period I wanted to recapture through re-enactment.

However, I began to discover that it was a tricky business to try and retrace the steps of my Pictish ancestors. This mainly has to do with the lack of historical and archaeological information regarding the Picts and how they actually lived. While Germanic lore is fragmentary at best, Celtic mythology is very disconnected in time from the period that I was most interested in. Most of the tales that we know today were not written down until the Late Middle Ages (13th and 14th Centuries) and survive in heavily Christianized forms. This is especially true for Welsh mythology (as there is evidence that some parts of Irish mythology were written down as early as the 8th Century), and so what we know of the Brittonic tradition is noticeably lacking in authentic pagan lore. As for the Picts, no records of mythology or Pre-Christian beliefs survive, except from the very biased and fanciful descriptions by Christian missionaries, such as Adomnán (Ath-ov-nawn) of Iona. This is also where I encountered another problem with being focused on ‘Pictish Reconstructionism’, which was the fact that, as a nation, we retain almost no linguistic and cultural continuity with the Picts. The Picts were closely related to the Britons of Southern Scotland, and it appears that they also spoke a Brittonic language. This means that though they shared many aspects of Brittonic culture, they were considered a distinct ethnic group and likely had their own version of now lost lore. It is not that the Christian Picts were illiterate, their monks were probably also producing as much literature as their contemporaries in England and Ireland. However, it is very likely that all such evidence has been lost or destroyed following the campaigns of Edward I of England and the Protestant Reformation in particular, where monasteries were looted and burned in an effort to undermine their religious authority.

Aside from the loss of almost all literary records of their language (we know that they probably spoke a Brittonic language because of place-names and the names of Pictish kings written in Gaelic records), Pictish became extinct in the centuries following the ascension of the Gaelic aristocracy in Scotland. After the defeat of the high kings of Fortriu (Moray and Ross) by the Vikings, the Pictish kingdoms became dominated by the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riada (which was previously tributary to the kings of Fortriu). The new mormaers intermingled with the Pictish commoners and their language probably replaced Pictish alongside the cultural interactions following Christianization. As the missionaries who converted the Picts were Gaelic, it is likely that it was an important ecclesiastical language alongside Latin (most Ogham stone inscriptions from Scotland are written in Old Irish). And so, Pictish came to be replaced by Gaelic (and was also replaced by Old Norse in the Isles) and does not survive, although modern Scottish Gaelic does retain some features from Pictish that make it distinct from Irish and Manx. Now, even Gaelic is no longer spoken in most of Scotland, as the Lowlanders came to speak Scots (a language descended from Northumbrian Old English) and following the Highland Clearances and dissemination of British mass media, the vast majority of our countrymen speak English as their first language.

And so, it is clear what is problematic when it comes to ‘Celtic Reconstructionism’, which is that you cannot authentically reconstruct traditions in a culture that no longer has a linguistic connection to their pagan forebears. There are those that consider themselves ‘Gaelic Traditionalists’ who claim that they practice the most authentic expression of Gaelic culture, as they are native Gaelic-speakers and usually live in areas where Gaelic is still spoken, such as the Western Isles. One criticism levelled against traditionalists is that they are usually Catholic and therefore do not represent the most accurate practices of the Ancient Celts. However, this is where traditionalism differs from reconstructionism; it is the acknowledgement that the past has gone and that we can never return to Pre-Christian times. ‘Paganism’ is not about recreating the past of our folk, but rather creating a future for our folk. The syncretic mixture between Gaelic culture and Catholicism is a memory of more ancient traditions, but retains the innovations from under the influence of the Church.This reflects the methods used by the Catholic Church to convert people, as they preferred to simply modify existing pagan shrines and customs within a Christian context rather than through forceful conversion that was carried out by the Romans (and later the Franks) on the Continent. This innovation was, in fact, a result of the efforts attributed to Saint Patrick and his disciples; so Catholicism would not have reached the Picts and many other peoples around the world if not for this change of tactic on the part of Irish missionaries, which was subsequently adopted by the Catholic Church at large (such ideas included the concept of Purgatory, which was based on the Celtic belief in reincarnation).

This is typical of Catholic countries around the world, where ancient traditions survive in the veneer of Christianity. This syncretic path is the most authentic traditional expression of the cultures that have been converted to Catholicism, as they retain much of the pagan traditions from their past and continue to practice them today in that form. However, I was raised a nominal Protestant, and such is not the case when it comes to the cultures of Protestant countries. The Reformation was a largely left-brained (skeptical) reaction against the centralized hierarchy of the Catholic Church, and so religion to those who became Protestant was secularized. Rationalism and reductionism are the result of Protestant thinking, and so such cultures are largely devoid of tradition and have become some of the most materialistic in the world. This is largely because, in attempting to throw off the yoke of popery, we cast away what was left of our ancient customs and were left with a hollow, Germanic version of Judaism (which is only tolerable to us in the present because it is so superfluous as a part of our daily lives). However, because of the promotion of liberalism and critical thinking in Protestant lands, we are able to use what was saved from ancient times (such as the Icelandic Eddas and Sagas) and work with existing traditions to perfect our own path. The ways of our ancestors are so irrelevant to most people that they can be practised without fear. It is typical of our secular society that we would try to ‘recreate’ the past because we see it as separate from our own, as their philosophies were not based in liberalism or egalitarianism, and so they cannot truly be practised by those in a Modern mindset. The reason that I began to feel a loss of purpose with reconstructionism was that there was a sense of distance between myself and my ancestors, and I realized that I could not live and breathe as a ‘real’ pagan if I did not carry on their traditions for the sake of my descendants.

Our heritage is not something that we should simply stroll out once in a while as an accessory to our involvement in Modern society, it is a living and continuous flow of energy from our ancestors that works through us for the sake of our peoples’ survival. The interactions with each other and with our native land are what bring forth our customs and traditions. The cycle of the year and the flora and fauna of our environment are the basis of our lore, and it is to ensure the prosperity of our kind that we remember our ancient traditions in order to understand our place in the world and our unique relationship with Nature. We have lost our roots, and so we have been left to fall as a race. However, what has not been destroyed is again being found, as we now have access to more information than ever that can help us rediscover our relationship with the Earth. It is also important to be true to your own heritage and to be honest about who you are. Language is one of the most fundamental connections to our culture that we have, and the acknowledgement of our ancestors’ ethnicities should be a part of one’s self-perception. My own Germanic heritage has led me down the path of Wotanism, though some of my countrymen may prefer the Gaelic Traditionalist or Druidic traditions. Both of these contain more integration with Christianity, though many of our modern, Protestant customs still retain the bare framework of our ancient traditions that can be charged with new spiritual energy from our own personal practice and knowledge of lore.

The old divide between Catholic and Protestant has tended to run along the cultural differences between Celtic and Germanic folk in Western Europe (although the Isle of Lewis, where Gaelic is most heavily spoken, is traditionally Presbyterian, possibly due to their Norse ancestry). However, both of our cultures have been paralyzed by secularism, and even these distinctions are beginning to pass into the morass of multiculturalism. I feel rather estranged from ‘Scottish Nationalism’ because of the strong emphasis on our Gaelic heritage (which I appreciate but it is something which I consider only one part of my heritage), though I can understand those who view ‘British Nationalism’ with suspicion because of its emphasis on the dominant, Germanic culture of our Isles if they feel more inclined towards Catholicism or Druidism. Both paths are meant to exist side-by-side, their engagement does not need to express itself through either religious sectarianism, or by being partitioned into the ‘right-wing/left-wing’ dichotomy politically. It does not matter which one is more prevalent or ‘politically convenient’, what matters is that they form masculine and feminine counterparts intended to guide our folk depending on their personal inclinations (Celtic tradition emphasizes the role of the Goddess, while the Germanic is more of a path to God). Much of this discord is expressed by the friction between many modern men and women, through the disregarding of both divine masculinity and divine femininity. Peoples are not one unified mass, they consist of distinct parts which in turn are parts of the larger human species. When we attempt to reconstruct paganism, we are simply imitating a previous incarnation of our folk. However, when we attempt to recognise our present day plight and the need for spiritual fulfilment, we must learn from all that has happened since the rule of Christianity and its replacement by secularism, and move forward in continuing our traditions through cultural memory and awareness of our ethnic identity.

Wulf Willelmson

From Behind the Shadow Veil: The Rise of Traditionalist Witchcraft

There is a tremor rumbling through human consciousness that is only becoming more and more noticeable with each passing year. The status quo in terms of political, social and spiritual discourse is beginning to crack and ideas which have been buried for decades (sometimes even centuries) are finding their way into conversations when they wouldn’t have before. Over the years I have had an increasing interest in authentic magical and occult practices, and I do not seem to be alone. When I first began researching such things as I was moving from childhood and into adolescence, much of the discourse on topics magical and spiritual were held within the domain of the New Age movement. This can best be described essentially as a subculture and umbrella religion that has been carefully controlled and cultivated in its message so as to provide an outlet for dissatisfaction with the cold and calculated nature of our bureaucratic society, while still keeping one locked in the globalist mindset, specifically touting the mantra of “we are all one”. Nowadays, however, this is not so much the case. At the time when I began to research such topics, the internet was becoming prevalent, but still had less influence on public consciousness than mass media and what folk could find in their local library, if they bothered to look (sad to say, I never did). However, with the rise of social media and its eclipsing of television and newspapers as primary sources of information (particularly for younger generations), ideas which were previously filtered through the New Age movement, such as shamanism, magic and the use of entheogens are now shared within the context of exploring tradition, which has become particularly important to those of European descent.

One of the reasons that shamans were so fascinating to Western anthropologists was that our society had no real equivalent to such people. We had doctors, pharmacists, priests and other such professions (which are rolled into one within the shaman), but no ‘witch doctors’, who relied on spells and enchanted objects as part of their healing skills. This is because such ideas had been expunged from our society as part of the destruction of our folk heritage during the Burning Times, and so all that was left in the following 18th, 19th and 20th centuries was a secularized and distorted understanding of medicine and science. Therefore, those who went to study other cultures where this had not occurred found peoples who were ‘superstitious’, meaning that they engaged in magical thinking with regards to illness and cure. Shamans are typically animists, and so they see every living thing as possessed of a spirit, in addition to disembodied spirits which live in other dimensions and may have beneficial, detrimental or parasitic effects on humans.

Diseases are not seen to be caused by bacteria and viruses, but by vulnerable spots in one’s aura through which parasitic entities can drain your energy on the astral plane, which weakens the immune system and allows harmful microorganisms to proliferate, while your body’s attempt to fight these invaders manifests as symptoms. This is remedied not only with the use of healing herbs to strengthen the body, but also with talismans (which may also be the root of a herb) and chanting, to restore the balance of one’s energies and heal a broken aura. While such practices certainly require the power of imagination, it is not enough to simply ‘make things up’ in order to properly cure an illness. A knowledge of sacred words and tones in the human voice (something which can be aided by study of the runes) that resonate with the vibrations within a person is required in addition to a pharmacological knowledge of herbs and their effects.

The awareness of these practices among foreign peoples remained restricted mainly to academia, and were simply unavailable to most people, and various folk remedies that survived throughout the Modern era have been dismissed as ‘superstition’ and ‘auld wife’s tales’. This changed with the social upheaval that occurred in the 1960s, when disillusioned youths took to exploration of consciousness through mind-altering drugs, sexuality and spirituality. Tales of shamans in Tropical Mexico who took hallucinogenic mushrooms as part of their healing rituals and of sadhus (holy men) in India who imbibed cannabis to aid meditation became part of a cultural craze in the West, which was spurred on and accompanied by social alienation and rebellion against established authority. Experimentation with drugs and the native rituals associated with them led to an increase of interest in the occult, which had not been as strong since before the Second World War. This was reflected in emerging styles of music, as the psychedelic influenced rock music became more and more associated with the occult with references to Satanism and paganism.

Unfortunately, because the mass media still had influence over most people at the time, such practices degenerated into drug abuse and promiscuity as there was little information available on how to do such things properly. As these people were demonized by the media, their ideas were pushed further and further away from public consciousness, and the response from the United States and most other governments around the world was to ban the drugs that had become associated with the hippie movements, namely psychedelics. Cannabis had already been made illegal in the United Kingdom in the 1920s, though this was more to do with the interests of companies that produced pharmaceuticals, paper and plastic that felt threatened by the newly discovered uses for cannabis and hemp for all of these things, which would have been so cheap that there would be less need to rely on the extraction of oil and wood or on the production of synthetic pharmaceuticals.

The movement against the use of psychedelics and cannabis by the establishment meant that public support for the anti-war movement waned, as such ideas became associated with drug abuse and criminality. In response to the proliferation of heroin in the drug scene by gangs that ended up selling cannabis and psychedelics on the black market (as a result of criminalization), some hippies responded by becoming careless and overdosing people on psychedelics in an attempt to compete with the gangs pushing harder drugs. The terrible experiences that resulted from a lack of consideration for purpose, preparation and setting turned most ordinary folk away from using such substances, and so they became associated with a criminal subculture which sometimes led to the use of harder drugs. The New Age movement is not necessarily associated with drug use (in fact, most New Age practitioners advise against it), but it is evident that it arose from the turbulence associated with the transition from the 1960s into the 70s, and many who have an interest in New Age subjects also use cannabis or psychedelics. This subculture is generally associated with right-brained (emotionally driven) perceptions, the worship of pagan gods, the practice of Asian expressions of spiritual traditions such as yoga and meditation and experiencing spirituality as an individual.

However, despite the fact that this subculture is somewhat removed from mass society, there is still an association by those that are part of the movement with establishment ideals such as leftism and feminism, in addition to others that are against the establishment, like environmentalism. The New Age belief is a synthesis of ideas which takes from authentic tradition (such as the eight ‘sabbats’ in Wicca, which are based on Celtic and Germanic high festivals), but watered down to accommodate the Modern lifestyle (since Wicca was founded for the express purpose of promoting nudism, not paganism). It is something that provides a loosening from the control of your mind, but which still maintains its hold. Most mainstream ‘pagan’ organizations in the West today have explicitly multiculturalist, homo-normative and feminist ideals as part of their philosophies, which gives a conflicting and contradictory impression of paganism to most people. Paganism is the religion of the folk, and it does not extend to other peoples outside of a common acknowledgement of the gods and spirits. Certain esoteric traditions contain philosophies which transcend collective identities and are available to all peoples, but the common religion has always been based on shared heritage. The names and archetypes of deities are unique to each culture and do not translate precisely into others.

For example, Wotan is the chief deity and a god of war in Germanic culture, but in the Egyptian tradition his scribal and eloquent attributes are more heavily emphasized in the form of Thoth. Both gods are based on the same archetype but are also specific to each culture and can be seen as separate entities. The same goes for traditions in different countries, where one culture’s understanding of the significance and attributes of a certain plant or animal may differ from another. In the West, black is used to represent death, but in China they see white as a better colour to express this concept. This is why in authentic traditions, the practices consist of innovations by the people within a particular culture rather than from outside it. What works for one person might not work for another, and the same is true with the various races and peoples of the world. Universalist religions preach equality because it means that they can gain a monopoly on the minds of more people, by convincing them that they are all the same as long as they hold the same beliefs. However, you cannot make different peoples believe the same thing, as their inherent differences will be expressed through believing different things. The irony of most Neopagan attitudes is that they unwittingly promote ideals intended to erode their own traditions while basing their religious practices on such traditions.

Fortunately, this is beginning to change. Many of us have started to see that the demands for resources caused by mass immigration, for example, are in conflict with environmentalism, and that there is an inconsistency and hypocrisy in having empathy for other cultures, but disdain or apathy towards one’s own, especially if you consider yourself a ‘pagan’. At the moment, Folkish pagans are in the minority among those that consider themselves to be followers of the old gods, but changing political and social attitudes are having an impact on these movements. My own awakening to such ideas coincided with my study of entheogens alongside archaeology and history. What began as a curiosity about the altering of consciousness became a stronger interest in the traditions of my ancestors and in preserving my heritage. Working with sacred plants helps to get us in touch with Nature and discover her secrets, the old ways have a new appeal to those of us that see our society as almost completely disconnected from her. This practice goes beyond simply being escapist or making life in Modern society bearable enough to ignore its problems (as is the case with drug addiction and indulgence in Hollywood media), but seeks to actively restore and heal our currently decrepit human state with what has been missing from our society for hundreds of years.

The spirits are calling us from other worlds, and we can hear them better than before. We realize that we cannot simply dip our toes in the water in an attempt to fill our religious or philosophical needs o a superficial level, but that we have to embrace the Way and find out how to make these practices work today. Nature provides all of our needs, and there are many hidden cures for common ailments. Aside from the mainly psychological uses of illegal drugs such as psychadelics, physical problems can be solved by plants that can easily be grown or found in the wild. The bark from water elder can be used to ease menstrual cramps, while nightshades such as henbane and belladonna can be used to treat asthma and eczema. Even more mild herbs such as nettle can be drunk regularly for a variety of problems. As a reslt of the renwed interest in authentic practices, there is now more information than ever before on the internet about the uses of herbs in folk medicine and magical rituals. Sometimes this involves working with dangerous plants (recipes for ointments used for astral projection contained wolfsbane, the most poisonous herb in Europe), which has made such practices unappealing to most Neopagans.

However, with careful study and knowledge, one can reduce the harmful side effects of such dangerous chemicals, by knowing which plants counter their effects. The main principle is to be deliberate in intent, to know what you are working with such plants to achieve and how to go about it. When you see all plants and animals as beings in their own right, you learn to develop more respect for them, particularly the hallucinogenic ones, whose psychoactive effects on humans are a sign of high intelligence in the plant or mushroom. One thing to remember for those serious about engaging in ‘shamanic’ practices is that you do not interact with such organisms for fun, but that you work with them to achieve some sort of magical or medicinal benefit. As this is an exchange process, the spirit of the plants will also want certain things from you before they agree to work with you. This may include fasting, abstinence or a more general display of self-discipline before imbibing sacred plants and fungi. It should be stressed that in this context, the use of drugs for recreational as opposed to medicinal or spiritual uses is a sign of abuse, and will inhibit one’s ability to perform magical rituals properly, as the draining of energy that results from addiction and laziness means that you have less energy to put into your magic. The main demand from magical practice is self-mastery, to act as an adept of magic rather than the servant to desires or ideas. This also involves acting and thinking independently of any external authority, be it the public consensus or whatever religion you happen to be a part of.

Traditional witchcraft and Folkish paganism are still small movements within the wider counterculture, and are overshadowed by their ‘safe-bet’ counterparts in the form of Wicca and Neopaganism, but there is a growing interest in these subjects that goes beyond the modified forms of accepted norms offered by New Age beliefs. Cultural and racial awareness is taking hold all across the world, and part of this has to do with the availability of such resources on the internet. Not only can you study the culture and traditions of other countries, but also your own, which may have significance to somebody from another country but with a shared heritage (such as that between the British and Irish and many North Americans and Australasians). Over time, ‘paganism’ will become more and more associated with having a sense of identity through heritage and culture among all peoples, and the Universalist outlook which has dominated the New Age scene for the last half century will diminish. Those who are so abhorred by the ideas of self-determination and racial pride will abandon the idea of paganism in order to avoid being associated with ideas that they find repulsive, while those who value their traditions and ancestors more than mainstream society will only make our movement stronger by turning on their programmed beliefs and embracing freedom of expression and to go against what is considered ‘socially acceptable’ to say and do in our repressed society. While this is the result that we want, we will have to be wary of the authoritarians and their response, and it is possible that such a strong Folkish movement could end with an attempt to foist an oppressive Neo-Marxist or Islamic regime on our folk in order to combat what they see as “the rise of the racist far-right”. However, since the customs and values that we hold are those derived from the folk itself, it is likely that we will have those that have at least some awareness of their own heritage and do not see it as a bad thing will be on our side. They can’t get away with burning us at the stake, but they will try every way they can to shut down the threat of self-determination by using the media to turn the public against us. Thankfully, less of us watch television and read newspapers these days and more of us care about having freedom of religion, speech and expression.

Wulf Willelmson