What is ‘Wotanism’?

The Creed of Caledon is based on the doctrine known as ‘Wotanism’, which is a modern-day expression of the people of Europe’s ancient religious and spiritual beliefs. The head of the Teutonic pantheon as far as the lore can tell us was known as ‘Wotan’ to the Germans, ‘Woden’ to the Anglo-Saxons and ‘Oðinn’ to the Norse. Though the names of the deities in Wotanism are based on those of these particular cultures, the path is open to all those of European descent and one may refer to deities from other European pantheons and even figures from Christianity, which has incorporated much of our ancestors’ traditions into its practices. It is a belief based on blood kinship and the bond with our sacred land, and so it is tied to the seasons and features of the landscape such as rivers, springs, hills, mountains and groves. Therefore the functions of many of the deities correspond to things such as the weather, the sea, the sky and even Mother Earth herself. There are others who oversee more human aspects, such as bravery, strength, wisdom and magic, and they are all described in detail in Angels and Demons in Teutonic Mythology.

The most commonly cited figures in Wotanism are David Lane and Ron McVan, who gave birth to the idea of ‘Wotan’s Folk’ in the 1990s. David Lane came up with the name and philosophy, while Ron McVan wrote much of the literature, including The Temple of Wotan, which is the source of the Creed of Caledon’s philosophy and rituals. However, the concept of ‘Wotanism’ goes back much earlier, to an Austrian mystic known as ‘Guido von List’, who was born in the mid-19th Century and died not long after the First World War. He coined the term ‘Wotanism’ to describe the exoteric religion of the Ancient Teutons, which involved invoking the deities in ritual and emulating the gods, particularly Wotan. This was paired with the concept of ‘Armanism’, an esoteric practice that involves working with the runes, particularly the Armanen Futhorkh, which was revealed to List during a period of blindness and is based on the rune poem in the Hávamál, which Wotanists consider to be the most sacred text. The Armamen Futhorkh is explained in his work known as Das Geheimnis der Runen (‘The Secret of the Runes’), published in 1908.

Armanen futhark stem version

Armanen Futhorkh

Wotanism can be described as a ‘pagan’ religion, which primarily involves interaction between oneself, one’s ancestors, ones kin, one’s land and one’s gods. Therefore it is a ‘folkish’ belief system that is dependent on one’s genetic and cultural lineage. It can be observed anywhere in the world, though only by those of European descent and preferably in a temperate climate which suits our kind best in ecological terms. This is different from ‘Armanism’ in that it is based on the external and objective reality, while Armanism is based on one’s own internal and subjective experience and should be seen more on an individual level. Armanism is a mystery religion akin to Gnostic Christianity, Vajrayana Buddhism or Western Hermeticism, though it is still based in Teutonic language and tradition. Therefore, Wotanism is not so much a form of ‘Neopaganism’, but a Wihinei (‘way’, more specifically ‘folk-way’), that incorporates aspects from other Aryan religions.

While Wotanism has been linked to Neo-Nazism and ‘White Supremacy’, it is worth remembering that many Wotanists  were interned in concentration camps under the Third Reich, as they were considered ‘heretics’ or ‘occultists’ that were deemed a thread to the regime. Heinrich Himmler’s spiritual advisor, Karl Maria ‘Weisthor’ Wiligut, declared Wotanism to be a false religion, and was in opposition to his doctrine of ‘Irminism’, which may have been the intended state religion of the Third Reich that was to replace Christianity had Hitler won the Second World War. Therefore, it is not in our best interests to support any totalitarian regime, be it Communist, National Socialist or Corporate Socialist.

As Wotanism is not a centralized religion without any structured organization outside of each kindred, there are many different interpretations and definitions of the doctrine and so the personal opinions of one adherent or kindred may be at odds with another. This, however, is not the case when it comes to the core philosophy, which is that we are to be gaining and spreading awareness of the ways of our forebears and promoting the wellbeing of our descendants. This is done through personal self-improvement, much of which is tied to the particular archetype or’ god’ which we unknowingly impersonate. By assessing one’s own nature and reason for being, you can aspire to achieve your full potential and become a valuable asset to your tribe. The tribe is considered to be a network of family and friends that share with you a common genetic and cultural bond.  It is a ‘nation’ that is not so much centred on what nation state you ‘belong’ to, but on whom you can trust and rely on.

Much of the work done by Wotansvolk, in the 1990s and early 2000s was involved in prison outreach, which is now impossible seeing as Wotanist literature is banned from many prisons because it is seen as such a threat to the establishment. However, the core mission of Wotanism hasn’t changed, and emphasis is placed on rehabilitation of those struggling with addiction, criminality, violent tendencies or simply weakness (with the exception of those who have committed crimes against children, who will never be welcome among the folk). It is true that Wotanism draws many who believe in Neo-Nazism or White Nationalism, but much of our work is designed to divert energy away from negative and destructive ways of thinking towards productive and honourable ideals and behaviour. This is why, despite the fact that I have written about political issues, the Creed of Caledon takes no particular stance in that area and supports no political organization. Our only concern is when such organizations transgress our natural rights or attempt to silence us.

We have much in common with other groups that describe themselves as ‘Odinist’ or ‘Wodenist’, though we call ourselves ‘Wotanists’ to distinguish ourselves from any organizations whose members may refer to themselves by those terms. The main difference being that we have no central authority or hierarchy, aside from those that are present in Nature between gods, men and beasts. Therefore, while each kindred is led by a goði (‘priest’), there is no overarching structure and connection with other kindreds is based on networking. We perform two types of rituals, which are known singularly as blót and sumbel. The former consists of ceremonies that are performed at holy tides (including Yule, Easter and Midsummer) and involve offerings to the gods and celebration of the seasons. The latter refers to folk-binding rituals which are less formal and include pledging oaths and recounting one’s ancestors and past deeds in order to encourage self-improvement. These are not held at fixed dates and are usually observed more frequently than blótar.

We believe that we are undergoing Ragnarök , ‘the doom of the gods’, and so the world is in the process of being destroyed so that it can be remade. The acceleration of Postmodernism has led to the downfall of Western Civilization and left a heap of ruins and lost and spiritually starved people. While the state and corporations seek to replace this need with consumerism and political involvement, some of us have become disillusioned with the established dogmas and decided to follow our own way. As Wotanism is based on self-reliance and intimate trust, we encourage others who feel that this is the way for them to create their own kindreds and endeavour to improve themselves. Rituals and ceremonies help to strengthen kinship, but more important is the need to fulfil one’s own talents and embody your chosen archetype. Remember who you are and where you came from, and honour yourself, your ancestors and descendants.

Wulf Willelmson

European Entheogens: Folk Medicine and Magical Aids

If you have an apprehension towards the use of psychoactive plants and their effects on humans outside of the context of Modern pharmaceutical medicine, then you may not wish to read on about this particular subject. Even more so, this topic deals with some substances which are currently illegal or extremely dangerous to use without training, and thus are unsuitable for experimentation by most people. If this concept frightens or irks you, begone! It is better for those who do not know enough about the nature of such things to rely on the advice of professional practitioners, preferably ones who do not fall for the reductionist quackery of Modern medicine (though for most of us, this is unfortunately not the case). However, for those of you who feel compelled to explore such things in depth, or possibly those who feel the call to study the art of traditional medicine, I will present a summary of some of the main plants that can be used in a sacred or ‘shamanic’ context within European culture.

It just so happens that we are among those various peoples across the world who do not have a significant tradition remaining that involves the use of such substances. The main culprit for this current state is the mania that seized our lands from the late 15th to the 17th Centuries AD, which encouraged religious and secular authorities to root out all traces of feminine folk wisdom and brand the practitioners of such arts as ‘witches’. This followed the social calamity of the Black Death and was an attempt by the Judeo-Christian authorities to assert themselves when the drastic population reduction in Europe and the loss of central authority had made folk more reliant on traditional methods in order to survive.

Much of this involved consulting wise women who were skilled in potion brewing and ointment making, as well as the creation of good luck charms and the practice of divination. These disciplines are all inter-related, and many of them can be achieved by working with plants which were once considered sacred. Sadly, the imposition of Judeo-Christianity merely followed earlier, statist attempts to outlaw such substances within the Roman Empire, and under such circumstances the use of these substances typically loses its sacramental context and devolves into a recreational or criminal activity.

Among tribal societies, however, the knowledge of how to work with sacred plants is at the heart of the spiritual, physical and psychological well-being of the tribe and the individuals that use them in this way are treated with a mixture of fear and respect. On one hand, they have an intuitive understanding of what particular plant should treat a specific ailment, and also what the dosage should be depending on the individual requiring treatment. However, their working of potentially poisonous plants and the ability to travel to other worlds and converse with deities and other spiritual beings makes them potentially dangerous. The accusations levelled at women (and sometimes men) who were supposedly engaging in black magic during the Burning Times were not completely unfounded all of the time, as the ability to heal also enables the potential to harm; and so it would be naïve to assume that some of the cunning folk never employed poisoning or hexing, either as an abuse of power or as a way of teaching a lesson to a fool. However, the gift given to such individuals by the gods was one which could be taken away if misused, and so those involved in such practices had to abide by a deep adherence to natural law and know how to work above their own ego.

Below is a list of some of the more powerful substances that are known to have been used in native European tradition. I believe that it is important to focus on our own cultural perspective, as the adoption of practices from other cultures may not coincide with those of our forebears. It is unfortunate that we have experienced such a complete and utter devastation of the traditional use of entheogens in Modern Europe, and so most people’s understanding of these substances is tainted by harmful perspectives that are a result of prohibition.

Whether it be hysterical rejection of the use of such substances because of a belief in their inherently harmful nature and an ignorance of their positive uses, or a completely hedonistic worldview which sees such treasures as a way to ‘get high’ and only seeks such substances for the sake of pleasure, I find it necessary to give a third perspective which focuses on their sacred rather than profane usage. As there are many fantastic blogs which deal with herbal lore, I will only focus on those that are more suitable for a ritual context rather than those which are of a more mild nature and can be utilized for everyday use. Be warned that the penalties for messing with these things may end with a prison sentence or harming one’s body or mind because of side-effects, and I provide this list merely as a guide to entheogenic study.

Belladonna (Atropa Belladonna)

A-127-11 Atropa belladonna

This infamous plant is commonly known as ‘deadly nightshade’, a name which has been attached to it mainly to ward of children from eating the berries, which are luscious and sweet, but usually result in a painful death for them. The main chemical constituents are scopolamine and hyoscyamine, though the latter metabolizes into atropine upon drying and is the main chemical associated with this plant. These chemicals are known as ‘anticholinergics’ and are capable of inducing delirium, realistic or terrifying hallucinations, a rapid heart rate, difficulty urinating and stupor. However, they are also invaluable for their use in treating nausea, insomnia, toothache, low blood pressure and bradycardia (a dangerously slow heartbeat), and were historically used as sedatives before performing surgery.

Despite the lethal danger to children, Belladonna poisoning does not usually result in death for adults. However, its ability to trap a victim in a waking dream of hallucinations and delirium can have disastrous consequences for somebody who becomes poisoned by her, as they are reliant on others to make sure that they do not confuse their hallucinations for reality and injure or kill themselves in the process. It is for this reason that belladonna is feared for her dangerous power, and will only respond positively to those who employ her aid for reasonable purposes.

One particularly notable instance of its use for poisoning was at the Battle of Denmarkfield near Luncarty in Perthshire during the 11th Century. The Danes, led by Sweyn Knutson, had been pillaging Fife and besieged MacBeth near the River Almond. The Scottish king, Duncan, offered Sweyn and his army wine laced with Belladonna as a sign of truce. By nightfall, the soporific effects of the drug caused the Danes to pass out or become delirious, and were easily massacred by the Scots. Sweyn escaped, but the Danes were expelled from our land for good. There is a standing stone to mark the site of the battle near the village of Luncarty. Archaeological excavations have also unearthed remains of Belladonna seeds at the Medieval town of Elgin in Moray, and they are usually associated with monasteries. After the conversion to Christianity, much of the medicinal lore was kept in the hands of the monks, and healing herbs were a common feature of monastic gardens. Though Belladonna is fairly common in England, it is much rarer in Scotland, as it prefers chalky soil and much of our native soil is very acidic and dense in clay.


Denmarkfield ‘King’s Stone’, said to commemorate the Battle of Denmarkfield, Luncarty

Aside from the medicinal uses mentioned above, Belladonna is known to have been used to induce trance and was used in the practice of astral projection, where the user is able to send their hama (‘soul-skin’ or ‘astral body’) into other worlds to attain visions for the sake of divination or healing. It is for this particular quality that the cunning folk sought her aid in private rituals, although they would usually have needed an assistant to watch over them while they journeyed. Typically, Belladonna was used in the form of a ‘flying ointment’ in conjunction with other, more poisonous herbs such as wolfsbane (aconitum napellus) or hemlock (conium maculatum). Atropine is unable to pass through the skin, and so this would reduce the negative effects on the body that would result from ingesting such a chemical. In this context, the entheogenic use would have been more secretive than that of some other substances, though it may have been used by a group of practitioners to achieve spirit flight.

The chemicals in Belladonna are also known to cause lycanthropy, a condition where the subject believes themselves to be a wolf, and may be connected to folklore about werewolves. An elite band of warriors in Norse society was known as the ulfheithnar, and they were supposedly able to invoke the spirit of the wolf to aid them in battle (much like the ‘berserkers’, whom I will mention shortly). It is possible that Belladonna was used in potions or ointments by these warriors for this purpose, and it could also have been used to contact one’s own spirit animal. Belladonna is sacred to Nerthuz and it can be used as part of a Saturday incense (though this is not recommended).

Cannabis (Cannabis Sativa)


Ah, what a controversial herb this is! Found in every street in all corners of British society, this particular weed is widely utilized for its ability to treat nausea, calm the mind, relieve pain and increase appetite. Sadly, it is more often than not used as a recreational drug, and is associated with a black market that mass produces the plant without any regulation or oversight. As the result of prohibition, it is unable to be used for medicinal purposes unless in the extracted, chemical forms, though the non-psychoactive varieties of hemp are grown for their nutritious seeds which can be used to make oil, and also as a textile.

Nowadays, this herb is associated with Black gang culture and all of the thuggery and degeneracy that goes along with the criminal and recreational elements, but this is only a recent phenomenon. In the past, cannabis sativa was grown all over Europe for its value both as a medicine and as a textile, though it is probably not native. Its native range is probably Central Asia, and it was likely to have been introduced to Europe by the Aryans migrating from the Russian Steppe, where it grows wild in the form of cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis sativa is the cultivated form of the herb and has been widely utilized for its mind altering affects, particularly those relating to euphoria and creativity. The main chemical constituents of cannabis are THC and CBD, though the ratio of these may vary between different strains of the herb.

The connection between Cannabis and ecstasy (the state of being, not the drug MDMA) is well attested today and in ancient times. It is known by names such as ‘reliever of grief’ and ‘banisher of sorrow’, and was used to treat anxiety because of its ability to engage the more logical side of the brain and calm over-active emotions. It has been used by Indian ascetics known as sadhus to assist in meditation and to achieve liberation from the five senses. Naturally, the use of the herb for this purpose requires tremendous will and discipline, and so most folk prefer to utilize its ritual or medicinal uses.

One example is given by the Greek historian, Herodotus, who wrote that the Scythians of the Russian Steppe used Cannabis as part of a funeral ritual, where the seeds (he probably meant the flowers, which are known as ‘buds’ and do not look like flowers) were thrown on heated stones underneath a felt blanket and the resulting vapour was inhaled by the participants. The effects of the vapour were probably intended to soothe grief and accept the passing of a relative, by easing the attachment to that person temporarily. Cannabis was also used by the Ancient Celts, as excavations of an Iron Age chieftain’s grave in Hochdorf, Germany, have revealed traces of hashish (a refined form of Cannabis) on his cloak, suggesting that he was involved in using the sacrament. Hemp seeds have also been found among the clothing of women from Viking Age burials in Denmark, although it is not clear whether they were used for psychoactive purposes or simply for food. Even excavations of William Shakespeare’s home at Stratford-Upon-Avon have revealed traces of Cannabis in clay pipes found in what would have been the garden, supporting the idea that Cannabis has, and still is frequently used, by writers and poets for inspiration and creativity.

Cannabis is not known to be lethal in any capacity (though it may be adulterated with toxins as a result of illicit production) and while its medicinal effects are lauded by those with enough clarity to see them, it also has its downsides as a drug. Some people with a predisposition to addiction may find themselves indulging in the plant for psychological pain relief, something which is possible with Cannabis but must be accompanied by the appropriate therapy, otherwise it becomes a habit and a vice. Excessive use can cause a loss of motivation and apathy, and may even result in a worse mood when the effects of the drug have worn off.

An excessive dosage can also cause tachycardia (rapid heart rate), low blood pressure, hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia (although this last side-effect is probably due to the fact that it is illegal, as the stimulating nature of Cannabis would worsen the worry about this fact). However, within a medicinal context, such issues are rarely a cause for concern, and it is a dreadful shame that many who need pain relief are unable to access it and are forced to rely on the pharmaceutical extracts or on street dealers who have no interest in their well-being. In the UK, Cannabis is a Class B controlled substance, and being found in possession of it can result in up to 5 years in prison or an unlimited fine and it is illegal in most parts of the world. Cannabis is sacred to Freya and can be used for any magic involving love, as it is known to be an aphrodisiac.

Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria)


This visually attractive red and white mushroom is ever present in European artistic aesthetics, as it is commonly portrayed as being surrounded by fairies and is usually associated with Father Christmas and his reindeer. It grows under birch and spruce trees and is native to all temperate and sub-Arctic parts of the world. Though not the ‘magic mushroom’ that will be covered later on in this article, it is still psychoactive, though it is difficult to assess its actual effects for unknown reasons. For some reason, it can either have negligible effects or produce an intense hallucinogenic experience and it is difficult to know how to achieve this.

It is known that the main chemicals of Fly Agaric are muscimol and ibotenic acid, as well as muscarine and muscazone. Muscimol is a hallucinogen, while the other chemicals are simply poisons, and the side effects that can be experienced by this drug include delirium, stupor, vomiting, sweating and low blood pressure, effects which are associated with ‘cholinergic’ drugs. For this reason, there is a lot of superstition surrounding the mushroom, and factors involved in the potency of the drug include the time of year picked, the conditions of the location where it grows (presumably soil acidity is a factor) and how it is dried. The mushroom eaten fresh and picked late in the year is known to produce the most side effects, while those picked earlier and dried are said to yield more positive results.

Though Fly Agaric is commonly described as lethal in mycology guides, this is incorrect, as it is only seriously dangerous raw and in large amounts and would even be eaten after parboiling by natives of Siberia and Asiatic peoples in Northern Europe. It has been observed among the Sami people that reindeer eat the mushroom, and that the poisonous effects are mitigated by drinking the urine from the reindeer after its ingestion. Such practices have also been followed by priests in Western Siberia, where the tribal priests take the mushroom and dispense their urine to their congregation.

In Eastern Siberia, use of the mushroom is less restricted, and it is not considered as essential that only the shaman can ingest the mushroom. The desired effects of Fly Agaric are similar to those of Belladonna and other plants carrying tropane alkaloids, though they have the opposite chemical mechanism on the brain and actually act as potentates or antidotes to atropine poisoning. While Fly Agaric may also cause delirium and stupor, the effects are known to be less unpleasant and dangerous as those of the tropanes, and in its dried form it is relatively safe to be ingested. The ability to induce dreamlike states and visions means that Fly Agaric is very valuable to shamans, and would also have been important to our European equivalents. Fly Agaric is not exactly used medicinally, being more utilized for its mind altering effects than anything else.

Interestingly, it has also become associated with the ‘berserkers’ of Norse lore, and it has been suggested that it was used to induce ‘battle frenzy’ among these men. ‘Berserker’ means ‘bear shirt’ and refers to the use of animal hides used to invoke the protection of an animal spirit. Though the connection between Fly Agaric and the berserker has been dismissed in more recent times, there is sufficient evidence that it was used by them. The Icelandic word for Fly Agric is berserkjasveppur, which means ‘berserker mushroom’ and it has also been connected to the Indo-Aryan sacrament known as Soma (analogous to the Iranian Haoma).

This substance was used by Aryan warriors to achieve mental clarity, though it is difficult to imagine how this was achieved with the stupefying effects of Fly Agaric. It is likely that a combination of and mixture with other substances as well as the intention and discipline in conjunction with ingestion were utilized to achieve this, though it is difficult to assert with certainty due to the lack of evidence regarding its effects. It has also been connected with esoteric Christianity and and teachings of Christ, as one anecdotal claim holds that the subject experienced visions of Heaven and Hell, reinforcing the idea of the connection to Christian imagery. Though not illegal to posses, it cannot be bought or sold under recently implemented drug laws in the UK, which prohibit the sale of non-approved psychoactive substances. Fly Agaric is sacred to Wotan and the dried skin can be used in smoking blends with other herbs.

Henbane (Hysoscyamus Niger)


Another one of the tropane herbs, this plant is very similar in its actions to Belladonna, though it possesses its own distinct character and attributes. Henbane grows on waste ground and near the sea across Europe, though it is very rare and considered endangered in the wild. It is not native to Northern Europe, most likely originating in the Mediterranean, though it was brought here millennia ago. Traces of Henbane have been found in a clay pot from Balfarg, Fife, dating to around 3,000 BC, which suggests that it was used as part of a ritual. Henbane seeds have also been found among the burials of women in Viking Age Scandinavia (much like the hemp seeds, making a stronger case for the use of Cannabis as an entheogen). The effects of the herb are more or less the same as that of Belladonna, though it may be slightly less poisonous due to the small size and different chemical composition of the plant (Belladonna is a perennial shrub, while Henbane may come as an annual or biennial). Therefore, Henbane may be more suitable for ingestion than her sister, though this is not recommended due to the toxic nature of the tropane alkaloids.

Henbane was another ‘witches weed’ and was considered especially useful in treating toothache, though the potential side-effects mean that it is no longer used medicinally today. In a magical context, Henbane was plucked by naked virgin girls in Medieval Germany in a ritual attempting to attract rain. It was also part of a potion given by the Iranian prophet, Zoroaster, to King Vishtaspa, who went into a deathlike sleep for three days and travelled to Heaven in that time. Henbane was also used for more sinister purposes by the Ancient Gauls, who dipped their javelins in poison derived from the herb in order to inflict more damage upon their enemies. Henbane may also have been part of the potion given by Circe to Odysseus’ men in The Odyssey, since the connection between tropane alkaloids and believing oneself to be an animal, as well as the connection between Henbane and pigs (which is what they were turned into), may mean that the story is about a witch who stole the wits of men by giving them a potion that made them believe that they were pigs. Henbane is sacred to Nerthuz, though some prefer to attribute its power to Thor, on account of its use in rain-making rituals.

Liberty Cap Mushroom (Psilocybe Semilanceata)


Also known as a ‘magic mushroom’, this is another substance which is prohibited under Modern law and has become associated with the worst aspects of the hippie culture and recreational drug use. Though more well-known than many of the other entheogens on this list, it is unique in being possibly the only psychedelic drug native to Europe. Psychadelics are different from other hallucinogens in that they do not produce delirium or dissociation, but rather they evoke colourful and geometric ‘visual distortions’ which are sought after by those looking for a step up from the curious effects of Cannabis.

Naturally, such substances are not suitable for social gatherings outside of a medicine ceremony and are frequently abused by party-goers, which can lead to unpleasant experiences. When used in an appropriate setting, magic mushrooms are useful in psychological therapy, and are known to treat depression and anxiety. Another difference between this fungus and the other entheogens on this list is that its medicinal values seem to be purely psychological and spiritual in nature, as is not known to relieve physical ailments. While they are not completely non-toxic, you would need to ingest and absurd amount of mushrooms to become poisoned, and as such they are safe to the human body for consumption in reasonable doses. The main chemical constituents are psylocin and psilocybin (which converts into psylocin during digestion).

Unfortunately, we know next to nothing about their use as an entheogen in Europe, the only clue being that in Ireland, they are known as ‘fairy mushrooms’. That and the fact that they can produce visual swirls and patterns that are reminiscent of Neolithic art suggests that they were known to our ancestors. Mesolithic cave paintings from Spain and Morocco depict strange beings holding mushrooms, and these are suggestive of shamanic use involving psychoactive mushrooms. Another small detail that may go unnoticed is the depiction of magic mushrooms in Medieval art, which feature occasionally and are curiously associated with the Apple of Eden, suggesting that Medieval Europeans knew more about these substances than we may have suspected.

If they were used in a similar way as by the natives of places like Mexico, then the Church would have taken a dim view of such practices and seen them as being used to communicate with devils. Such were the criticisms levelled at the use of magic mushrooms by the Catholic Church when it came to Mexico, and the suppression of these cults is a reasonable explanation as to why we have no indigenous tradition in Europe pertaining to the use of these mushrooms. If their use had been driven underground during the Middle Ages and only surfaced in art, we can be sure that the last vestiges were driven out of our lands during the Burning Times, and so we are left with a dearth of knowledge on how to use them.

Fortunately, we can speculate to some degree based on their usage in Mexico. They were used by the Aztecs and the Mazatecs in order to communicate with the gods, and the purpose was usually to discover a cure for an illness. They could have been used either by the healer alone, or by the healer and the patient if the illness was of a more metaphysical nature and required expelling negative entities from the patient. Typically, these healers are not looking for the fantastic visual effects, but for the intuitive voice that tells them what they need to know. Though magic mushrooms can have awful side effects, these can be mitigated by the guidance of an experienced healer and are not as commonly felt if the participant engages in preparation beforehand.

Usually, a participant would fast and abstain from meat, sex and alcohol for a few days before taking part in a medicine ceremony, as the mushroom cleans out the body on a spiritual level and any toxins remaining may lead to nausea and other discomfort when under its influence. Psilocybe semilanceata typically grows on pasture and grassland and is native to temperate zones, growing near, but not on, the dung of cows and sheep. Its association with cattle means that it is sacred to Frigg and its effects would also associate it with healers. Unfortunately, in the UK it is a Class A controlled substance, which may lead to up to 7 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine, and (like Cannabis) is illegal in most countries.

The use of these substances is something which is heavily looked down upon in our society, as it is deemed necessary for the state to have complete control over what medicines the people may have access to. Therefore, I neither promote nor encourage the use of such substances, as it is up to each individual to know if it is worth taking the risks that I have mentioned and if they can gain anything from their use. Some people are not meant to take certain substances due to risk factors, and so most of us will remain in the dark about their potential due to the restrictions on what can be done with them.

Though there is more and more evidence suggesting that our common perceptions of psychoactive plants are based on misinformation and lies, governments are slow to respond and prefer to maintain the unregulated black market rather than allow individuals to act responsibly and use what they can to treat illness. It must be kept in mind that if one does choose to use these drugs, then they must approach it with the utmost respect, as disregarding the spirit of the plant may anger it and may even be dangerous for the user. Therefore, it is important to remember what you are using them for and why you need to invoke their aid. Typically, other healing methods should be tried before attempting to deal with psychoactive drugs, and though some of these substances are not illegal, they are still capable of inflicting harm as much as they can heal. Tread carefully fellow travellers, as the world of entheogenic plant spirits is as dangerous as it is rewarding.

Wulf Willelmson

Who Were the Picts?

As one of the peoples that contributed to the genetic and cultural lineage of Scotland, the identity of this enigmatic folk has been a mystery that has been debated for decades. Details about their language have proved elusive, and they have been associated with various cultural practices that put them at odds with their neighbours. No written texts in the Pictish language have survived, and so we are forced to rely on the commentaries of those other peoples that have ventured to our island; particularly the Northumbrian Anglo-Saxons, who inhabited the lands to the South of Pictish territory, and the Romans, both of whom tried to subdue the Picts through conquest and ultimately failed.

In fact, the domination of the Pictish folk was only ever achieved by the Gaelic Scots, who instead relied on marrying Pictish noblewomen and inserting themselves into the Pictish aristocracy gradually. This allowed their language to proliferate to such an extent that the Scottish landscape is covered with Gaelic place-names, to such a degree that it gives some of us the impression that Gaelic culture is the ‘native tradition’ of Scotland. To consider the importance of Gaelic tradition as part of our heritage is worth acknowledging, however, it really is no more ‘native’ to Scotland than the Teutonic traditions of the Anglo-Saxons, Norsemen and Flemings. These cultures were all preceded by one which had been established much earlier and survived in modified form in the land North of the Forth, which retained distinct archaeological and linguistic characteristics throughout the Iron Age and the Dark Ages.

The most informative historian about the Picts was the Northumbrian monk known as Bede, who lived during the 8th Century AD. In his book, The Ecclesiastical History of the English Peoples, he gives us helpful ethnology concerning his nation’s neighbours, including the Picts. The origin story that he provides for the Picts (which he could have obtained from either a Gaelic or Pictish source), says that the Picts came from Scythia (that is, the Russian Steppe) and arrived in Ireland. They asked to settle in their land, to which the Irish replied that they could not, but instead gave them wives and told them that they could settle on another island to the East, which would be Britain.

While this story may seem far fetched, it can actually be explained by what we know about the earlier Aryan migrations that gave birth to the Copper and Bronze Ages. The archaeological culture ascribed to the ‘Beaker People’ is connected to the male genetic haplogroup R1b, which originated in the Russian Steppe with the Aryans. Their discovery of metallurgy allowed them to expand to the East and West, introducing the Indo-European languages to Europe, as well as Central and South Asia. However, it is very likely that this did not just consist of folk migration, where a whole tribe would move as one, but also expeditions by explorers who were able to spread scientific and spiritual knowledge to the other peoples that they encountered.

The oldest name for Britain is ‘Albion’, which may have originated in the Stone Age. However, the people that were said to inhabit Britain by the time of the Iron Age were known as ‘Pretani’, which is attested by the Greek geographer, Pytheas, who called the British Isles the ‘Pretanic Isles’. This indicates that both Britain and Ireland were inhabited by the same peoples, and that they have long been considered united in this respect. In Welsh, the Picts were once known as Brithwyr and their land as Prydyn, acknowledging that the Picts, rather than the Celtic Britons, were the earlier inhabitants, as the Celtic Britons referred to themselves as Cymry.

These ‘Pretani’, were the descendants of Aryan men who had intermarried with the women of Neolithic Britain, who were themselves a mixture of European hunter-gatherers and farmers from the Middle East. However, one of the customs which has set the Picts apart from other Aryan folk is the practice of matrilineality, whereby descent would be traced through the female line. This would have meant that their children would grow up speaking their mother’s language, as the preservation of the family lineage would depend on the woman. This ensured that, despite the proliferation of Aryan genetics across Western Europe, the languages spoken in this part of the World descended from the previous, Stone Age inhabitants and would have been spoken throughout the Bronze Age.

Archaeological evidence of the ‘Atlantic Bronze Age’ culture can be found from Scotland to Spain and the language family that was spoken in this part of the world most likely survives as the Basque language of the Western Pyrenees mountains, straddling the border between France and Spain. The Basques have also historically practised matrilineality until the 20th Century, which has allowed the language to survive as an isolated pre-Indo-European speech for thousands of years. If the Pictish language was related to Basque, it would be part of the hypothetical ‘Vasconic’ language family.

Another example of a cultural practice that is not known among most Aryan folk is the art of tattooing, which was unknown among the Gauls or Teutons, but was also practised by the Scythians. The practice was described among the Picts by the Roman historian Herodian and the Visigoth historian Isodore of Seville, the former mentions depictions of animals while the latter refers to the use of a pin to paint the tattoo (the Latin name ‘Picti‘ means ‘painted ones’ and refers to this practice). Though possibly another contribution from the Aryans, it is more likely to have been something adopted by the Scythians from the neighbouring Turks, as this has not been a widespread practice in Europe historically until recent times, with the exception of the Picts and the Britons (as well as Northumbrian warriors who were chastised by the Church for imitating such practices). Though tattooing was also practised by the Celtic Britons (likely adopting a local custom), this practice is not recorded among them after the Romans, and so it presumably died out under Roman rule.

The Celts arrived in Britain during the Iron Age as traders and craftsmen, much like the original Aryans, and they were also responsible for introducing ironsmithing to our island. The Celts were also patriarchal, as opposed to the matriarchal Picts, and so they were able to conquer Western Europe both culturally and linguistically. By colonizing rather than conquering, they were able to establish a permanent hold in Britain, where they survive today as the Welsh. This was probably a different scenario on the Continent, as the overland expansion would have facilitated conquest though force of arms. This meant that the Celtic colonization in Britain was less extensive than on the Continent, and so there was more of a cultural blending than domination, reflected in the continued practice of tattooing in Britain.

However, despite the fact that most of the Pritani adopted Celtic language and culture, those living North of the Forth resisted, and continued to practice matrilineality. However, they most likely adopted a patriarchal system of governance in order to compete with the Celtic Britons, as a Brittonic chieftain would simply have to marry a Pictish matriarch in order to bring a tribe under his dominion. Maintaining matrilineality meant that the Brittonic language could only infiltrate Pictish culture through intermarriage with Brittonic women, which eventually occurred and gradually introduced Celtic vocabulary into the Pictish language.

They also practised similar styles of warfare, with the exception that, while the Celtic Britons were willing to compromise and capitulate, the Picts would never do so for any length of time. It is for this reason that the Romans were never able to conquer the Picts, as they would inevitably suffer betrayal of treaties and constant aggression form the Picts, which was the result of three unsuccessful attempts in the 1st 2nd and 3rd Centuries AD. While the Celtic Britons were eventually conquered by the Romans, the Romans found that attempting to hold the part of Britain known as Alban (the land North of the Forth which retained the pre-Indo-European name for the island) was an impossible task, and were forced to retreat behind the River Tyne, and eventually Hadrian’s Wall was built to solidify the border.

This may have been because, even if they held Southern Scotland (which was inhabited by Celtic Britons), they would be constantly attacked by the Picts. The Roman emperor, Antoninus, attempted to push the border beyond the Britons and even built a wall on the Forth-Clyde isthmus, but was forced to pull back after only twenty years due to persistent harassment by the Picts. The Picts were experts in skirmishing and would wear down the large and slow-moving Roman army through ambushes and hit-and-run tactics, luring individual soldiers away with livestock, killing them and then retreating into the forest. These strategies were only possible because the Picts made use of the once extensive Caledonian Forest, which stretched across the Highlands and gave them a place to hide and stage ambushes.

The Picts seem to have engaged in a more primitive form of warfare than their neighbours. No evidence of iron weapons has been found in Pictish territory, though they would have probably had some. The Roman historian, Dio, claimed that they had daggers and spears, which had bronze “apples” (orbs) at the butt that were used to make a rattling sound, for which there is archaeological evidence and is also shown on the Pictish Collessie Stone in Fife. According to Herodian, as iron is not plentiful in Scotland, the Caledonians (as the Picts were known until the 4th Century, a reference to the most powerful tribe, the Caledonii of Perthshire) wore iron as jewellery, and valued it as much as gold. Archaeological evidence, however, shows that they also wore bronze jewellery in the form of huge armlets, sometimes with a serpentine design. He also noted that they spurned armour, as they viewed this as a hindrance to their speed and agility.


Modern painting of image on the Collessie Stone, warrior with spear and shield


Bronze serpentine armlet

There is also a very interesting reference by the Roman historian, Tacitus, who wrote a biography of the Roman governor of Britain, Agricola, and his campaigns in Scotland. When describing their battle tactics, he not only says that they hurled masses of javelins and also had chariots, but that their ‘swords’ were huge and lacked a thrusting point. This does not sound much like a sword at all, but would probably have been more like the Aztec weapon known as a macuahutil. This is a long club that is edged with obsidian blades, capable of decapitation. Since obsidian can be found in Scotland and iron is comparatively rare, it is possible that this is the sort of weapon that the Picts used rather than a sword.


Modern reconstruction of an Aztec Macuahutil

During Agricola’s campaigns in Caledonia in the late 1st Century, his army had to endure constant evasion and refusal to meet on the battlefield from the Picts. Eventually, the Picts confronted the Romans at the Battle of Mons Graupius (possibly Moncrieffe Hill near Perth) and under the leadership of ‘Calgacus’ (‘the swordsman’ in Brittonic) they amassed their combined strength of around 30,000 men. Unfortunately, their large numbers were not enough to defeat the disciplined and tightly-formed Roman army. Tacitus notes that, though they had a massive army, after the initial skirmish their large ‘swords’ and small shields proved awkward during close combat, and so the Picts were not able to hold the line. The Romans gained the victory, and the Caledonians burned their own villages and fled to the Highlands, subsequently surrendering to Agricola. However, Agricola was called back by the Roman emperor, Domitian; as the Picts proved too much of a nuisance and there were more serious threats to the empire, such as the Dacians of Romania, though Tacitus attributes the decision to jealousy of Agricola’s achievements.

While so fiercely proud of their heritage that they would not relent in repelling an attacker, the Picts never sought to expand their territory, which meant that their tribes would continue to remain independent throughout the Roman occupation of Britain. In 367, the Picts conspired with the Britons in the South of Scotland, the Saxons in Germany and the Scots in Ireland to launch a multi-pronged attack on Roman Britain in an event known as the ‘Barbarian Conspiracy’, whereby each group attacked from the North, East and West. This event signalled the death-knell for the Roman rule in Britain, and they had abandoned the province by 410 due to constant raids from these peoples draining military resources which were needed more to defend Gaul and Italy from Teutonic invaders.

However, after the departure of the Romans, the Picts continued to raid the lands to the South, presumably because tribal warfare between the Picts and the Romano-Britons had flared up after the Romans left. By this time, the Picts had become proficient pirates, as they found that this was a more effective way to attack the Romans without the threat of fighting in a pitched battle, which they would certainly lose. It is quite possible that the Picts had simply become accustomed to raiding this way, and so the Romano-Britons recruited Anglo-Saxon warriors to defend what is now the East Coast of England.

Though this tactic proved effective in preventing Pictish piracy, the Romano-Britons eventually found themselves at war with the Anglo-Saxons, who then proceeded to conquer what is now England and the South-East of Scotland. In addition to this, two other groups settled on the West Coast of Scotland, the Picts of Galloway and the Scots of Dal Riada (Argyll). While we have been mainly concerned with the Picts in Scotland, it is worth noting that they also inhabited Ireland, and were gradually pushed North-East by Gaels from the South, who were a Celtic tribe originating in Northern Spain. The Gaels arrived in Ireland during the 2nd Century AD and began to dominate the Picts (who were known to the Gaels as Cruthin) and other Celtic tribes who had settled in Ireland. By the 4th Century AD, the powerful Gaelic O’Neill clan was pushing East into what is now Ulster, which in turn pushed some Cruthin into Galloway.

They were the folk that became known to Bede as the ‘Southern Picts’ and as Goidel Ffichti (‘Irish Picts’) to the Welsh. Due to intermarriage with Gaelic women, these Picts spoke Gaelic and introduced the language to the South-West of Scotland. The Scots of Dal Riada were known by this name because they too spoke Gaelic (the Scoti were one of the first Gaelic tribes to arrive in Ireland from Spain and gave their name to the Gaelic language, known as Scottis during the Middle Ages), though they were not Picts, but rather one of the Celto-Germanic tribes that had migrated to Ireland from Belgium (known as the Belgae in Latin and Fir Bolg in Gaelic) and had been influenced by the Gaels linguistically through intermarriage. Bede claims that the Scots colonized what is now Argyll through “a combination of treaty and force”. The Scots became the Picts’ new neighbours and introduced the Gaelic tongue to the Highlands.

One other feature which distinguished the Picts from the peoples surrounding them are their elaborate symbol stones, which can be found all over the areas that the Picts inhabited. Examples of carvings are depictions of animals including salmon, geese, bulls, wolves, bears and horses, as well as the mythological kelpie, or water-horse of Scottish mythology. They also had unique symbols that were specific to the Picts and are difficult to interpret. In addition, they also showed images of people, either hunting, fighting on the battlefield or simply alone as on the Collessie Stone. One such stone found at Aberlemno, Angus, dates from the 8th Century and depicts the Pictish army engaged in battle with the Strathclyde Britons.


Section of the battle scene from the Aberlemno Stone

By this time, the Picts had adopted the more conventional battle tactics of their neighbours, and they are shown using spears, swords and even pikes against the Brittonic cavalry. Noteworthy is the depiction of the Britons wearing helmets and mail coats, which are notably absent from the Pictish army, suggesting that they continued to reject the use of armour well into the Dark Ages. Later stones take on a different form, and become Christian cross slabs in the tradition of Celtic Christianity, depicting scenes from the Old Testament. Though their unique pagan religion became gradually replaced, the Picts still found ways to incorporate their own stone carving style into the high crosses, and continued to feature pictures of animals.


Older Pictish stone also at Aberlemno, depicting a snake, a mirror and a ‘z-rod’ symbol

It is after the Roman departure that the new religion of Christianity began to affect the Picts, and it is the Southern Picts who were first converted by Saint Ninian in the 5th Century AD, establishing a church at Whithorn in Galloway. However, a letter from Saint Patrick to the king of Strathclyde (which is where Saint Patrick was from) refers to the Southern Picts as ‘apostates’ suggesting that they had abandoned Christianity and would have been subsequently converted at a later date by Irish missionaries. The conversion of the Northern Picts was a later process, and was also achieved through the efforts of the Celtic Church, which began with the establishment of a monastery at Iona by Saint Columba in the 6th Century.

Though Columba himself managed to convert some Picts, the bulk of the conversion was done by his disciples, which allowed Gaelic culture to proliferate among the Picts through the establishment of monasteries. We know nothing about the pagan Pictish religion, and it is unclear to what extent it was influenced by Celtic culture and how much it retained an older form. Though the Picts were initially converted to the Celtic version of Christianity, they eventually switched to the Catholicism that was practised among the Anglo-Saxons in the 8th Century, which was more orthodox. By establishing their own bishoprics, the Picts were able to free themselves from the influence of Iona and assert their culture within the Church, though they then became more influenced by the Anglo-Saxons.

The Anglo-Saxons of Northumbria conquered what is now Lothian in the 7th Century and the Picts had yet another new neighbour. However, unlike the Scots who were not interested in expanding into Pictish territory by force, the Northumbrian king, Oswy, attempted to subjugate the Picts, and succeeded in the only way that one could with the Picts; by having them as clients. Oswy was able to expand his hegemony through extracting tribute rather than through conquest, which would have been impossible with the Picts. Indeed, though Oswy’s son, Ecgfrith, defeated the Picts after they had refused to pay tribute, he would eventually be defeated by them. Initially, the Picts had been defeated by Ecgfrith at the Battle of Two Rivers, which would have been in a Lowland area of Pictish territory.

Under the leadership of King Bridei of Werturiu (the most powerful Late Pictish kingdom which consisted of Moray, Ross, Badenoch and Strathspey), the Picts lured Ecgfrith’s mounted warband into the Highlands, and crushed them at the Battle of Nechtansmere, which most likely took place near Dunachton in Badenoch. After this, the Picts became the dominant force in Scotland, and for the first time were able to assert themselves through shrugging off the influence of Iona and through making peace with the Northumbrians. During the 8th Century, the Picts began to extract tribute from their other neighbours, namely the Britons of Strathclyde and the Scots of Dal Riada. It was at the peak of their power that the Picts were to face their greatest threat, which lay the foundations for their final defeat.

From their mountainous and sea-swept homes in Noway, the Vikings began to raid the Northern and Western Isles at the beginning of the 9th Century, and subsequently settled there, establishing their culture, language and pagan religion. From there, they went on to invade the mainland, and the Pictish kingdom of Cait (Caithness and Sutherland) fell under the control of the Orcadian Norsemen. Eventually, they descended on Werturiu, and the Pictish royal family were slaughtered by them, bringing the carefully constructed Pictish high kingship into chaos and civil war. The linchpin that held the Pictish kingdoms together was the able rulership of the kings of Werturiu, and once they were defeated it fell apart.

Despite attempts by other Pictish kings to gain control, they were eventually subjugated by the king of Dal Riada, Kenneth MacAlpin, through treachery and murder of the other Pictish kings at Scone. He then began the domination of Gaelic culture among the Picts by establishing patrilineal descent and his successors went on to unite the Picts and Scots into one folk. While the Scottish kingdom retained the ancient name of ‘Alba’, it was no longer culturally Pretanic, and as such became absorbed into the wider Indo-European world after resisting for so long. The Pictish language had probably died out by the 11th Century, and so all that survives are place-names and the names of Pictish kings. Though many of these are Brittonic in form, this is due to the partial adoption of that language because of their close proximity to the Celtic Britons, as Bede makes it clear that they spoke different languages.

During the conquests of Edward I of England, ‘Hammer of the Scots’, he made every effort to undermine Scottish royal authority by destroying as many texts as he could pertaining to Scottish history. In addition to the sacking of abbeys during the Reformation, this has ensured that if any texts were ever written in Pictish, they do not survive and so we have no real idea of what their language looked like, what they called themselves or what their mythology would have been. Though the Southern Picts of Galloway retained their cultural and political independence until the 12th Century, the cultural and religious reforms under David I meant that they too were finally absorbed into the Scottish kingdom, though they had long abandoned the Pictish tongue in favour of Gaelic.

It is for this reason that we have suffered a cultural disconnect with our ancestors, and so many of us who are interested in reviving their traditions have either the Gaelic or Teutonic paths to choose from. Yet the Picts still remain a feature of history that are unique to both Scotland and Northern Ireland. Though known under different names, they formed a continuum with the earlier, pre-Indo-European culture of the British Isles, one which was sadly broken over a thousand years ago. Even though we do not know what gods they worshipped or what their customs were, we can still look back on them as an example to be proud of our heritage and to never give up or give in to invaders. Despite this loss, we still inherit the same blood and inhabit the same soil.

Wulf Willelmson

On the Importance of Syncretism

One of the main differences between orthodoxy and eclecticism in religion is the willingness to incorporate other belief systems into a spiritual practice. While orthodoxy emphasizes purity of dogma and rigidity in structure, in more mystical or folkish religions there is more of a tendency to acknowledge similarities with the religions of other peoples and adapting to changes brought about by migration and trade. While there is nothing wrong with a more defined and specific approach per se, it does limit one’s perception and the failure to give value to the insights of others may hinder understanding of one’s own belief system. A more syncretic approach is becoming necessary in response to globalization and the erosion of traditional religion in the West. While Christianity has largely lost relevance among Westerners at the same time as the expansion of Islam in our lands, it makes sense to proudly defend our traditions from all throughout our history, not just those from the time before Christianity.

Though we carry the torch that has been passed down to us from our ancestors within our genetics and our culture, and in many ways we embody our ancestors, we are not living under the same conditions as they did. This means that our forebears had more access to their own local traditions in the form of skills passed down through generations, as well as folk-binding ceremonies such as the ceilidh (an event traditionally hosted by the local storyteller, now more centred around Highland dancing). However, many of us today have lost touch with our roots in the whirling confusion that is living in a Modern multicultural society, and so we need to be less picky about what can be used to further the spiritual well-being of our folk.

As opposed to the Judeo-Christian Europe of the Middle Ages (where the Church engaged in pogroms against ‘heretical’ sects, who were usually practising some form of Gnostic Christianity), the pagan Europeans had a much more relaxed attitude towards the cults of other peoples. While the adoption of Celtic, Teutonic and various other European pantheons by the Romans helped to strengthen their state religion, it also led to the eventual decline of paganism in the Roman Empire. As Asian and African cults (such as those of the goddesses Cybele and Isis) were also incorporated into Roman religion, they undermined the patriarchal vigour of the Greco-Roman belief systems and allowed for Judeo-Christianity to take over the empire. And this is where the danger of syncretism lies; in order for this method to work, a belief system must be compatible with another in a way that there is no contradiction due to a common spiritual understanding.

More often than not, this is only possible with other spiritual teachings that derive from the same racial root as the one you may wish to supplement. It is no good trying to adapt the beliefs of foreign races into one’s own religion, as the cultural assumptions will differ and lead to a misunderstanding of symbolic meanings. For example, the wolf or dog is considered a noble (if not somewhat dangerous) animal in Aryan and Turkic cultures, and is the guardian animal for many tribes among these two races. However, in Semitic cultures, the dog is seen in the same light as the jackal, a lowly creature who is shunned and considered unclean. Attempting to reconcile such contradictory symbolism will only lead to confusion about the role of parables and symbols in religion, leading to its eventual abandonment.

However, it is now the case that many of our native European customs are so intertwined not only with each other, but also with Christianity, that it is necessary to admit to what works and what doesn’t with regards to carrying tradition. During the Dark Ages, Gnostic Christianity successfully merged with Celtic paganism in order to compose what has become known as ‘Celtic Christianity’. In many cases, the folklore and mythology from Medieval Ireland and Wales are so heavily shaped by this post-Roman culture that it is now difficult to separate the two, making the attempt to reconstruct a ‘pure’ form of Celtic paganism fruitless. Even with regards to Anglo-Saxon paganism, we only have fragmentary evidence for their specific spiritual practices, and most of this comes from after their conversion to Catholicism. In this way, the poetry of Anglo-Saxon England is no less ‘authentic’ despite the Christian overtones, because the original tradition is preserved underneath the symbolism reflecting that time period. It is only because of the preservation of Norse mythology in Iceland that we know more about Teutonic paganism than its Celtic counterpart, although even the works of Snorri Sturluson (the Icelandic priest responsible for preserving the Eddas and Egil’s saga) are written from a Christian perspective.

Nowhere is the need for a combination of cultural motifs in contemporary paganism more apparent than here in Scotland, where it is difficult to ignore either our Celtic or Teutonic heritage. The British peoples are known to be mongrels, yet we still preserve a specific blend of traditions that is unique to both us and the Irish. Specifically, they do well to compliment each other as embodying the masculine and feminine (or patriarchal and matriarchal) forms of religion, with the Teutonic tradition as the former and Celtic culture as the latter. The head of the Teutonic pantheon is Allfather Wotan, who values the manly pursuits of warfare and rune magic, in addition to encouraging exploration and adventure.

While Wotan’s Celtic cognate, Lugh, is also the chief deity in Irish mythology, there is a strong emphasis on the cult of Danu (‘Mother Earth’ equivalent to Nerthuz) and more focus is placed on trade and shamanistic ‘woman’s magic’. Together, their worship forms the basis of the solar and lunar festivals; Yule, Ostara, Litha and Winter Finding (marking the solstices and equinoxes) among the agricultural Teutons, and Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh in the Gaelic pastoral tradition, marking the beginning of each new season. It is for this reason that I consider Wotanism and all other folkish forms of paganism as the European variant of Aryan religion. We do not need to have our religion specific to one ethnic group or another, as long as the mixture is between cultures with a shared origin so that each can represent two sides of the same coin. While the main source of pagan lore comes from Norse mythology, there is also much to be learned from the cultures of all Aryan peoples, from Ireland to India and from Russia to Spain.

Having said that, care must be used when dealing with the religions of Iranian and Indian cultures. Though the peoples of Central and Southern Asia share much in common genetically and culturally with Europeans, they have also been affected by the presence of indigenous non-Aryans (such as the Dravidians of India) and by incursions from peoples like the Arabs and Turks. This means that while the esoteric meanings of Zoroastrianism or Hinduism can be adapted and applied to European paganism, the more exoteric cultural aspects (such as traditional cuisine or music) may be more alien and inappropriate for blending with our own culture (for example, the presence of figs and dates in Middle-Eastern folklore, whose symbolic meaning is difficult to apply in temperate Europe where they don’t grow).

An example of a successful cross-cultural interpretation is with the story of Wotan and Gunnlod. Wotan wished to drink the sacred Odrerir (‘mead of poetry’) held by the giant, Kvasir. To achieve this, Wotan slept with his daughter Gunnlod for three nights, each night turning into a snake and slithering up the mountain to drink the mead. On the third night he was caught by Kvasir and had to turn into an eagle to escape back to Asgard. This symbology can be interpreted as a metaphor for the practice of Kundalini yoga, with the mountain representing the body and Wotan as a serpent representing the astral ‘snake’ (Shakti in Hinduism) that travels up the spine. The drinking of Odrerir and changing into an eagle is representative of the ecstatic state achieved by channelling this power, and this is a feature of Wotan’s quest for wisdom which serves as an example for his followers.

As a reflection of my mixed ethnic heritage, I choose to outwardly revere the gods of the Teutonic pantheon, while at the same time studying Druidism and other forms of Celtic and Aryan mysticism. This feels like a natural state and it is similarly the case for many of us in Britain. While there is a stronger Teutonic presence in somewhere like England, and in turn a stronger Celtic influence in a place like Ireland, the aspect of this mixture is what gives us our own unique sense of identity. It is obvious that most will swing more one way or the other, but the dual nature of each aspect is always present, and has been for millennia.

While the Nordic character of the East coast has been shaped by the first inhabitants who crossed the lost land of Doggerland in the North Sea, down to the Aryans and later Anglo-Saxons and Norsemen, the West has been more thoroughly colonized by folk from lands facing the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas. It is because of this that it is necessary to draw from a larger pool of culture, as the demise of Western civilization has stripped our heritage down to its roots, and it is more pragmatic at this time to revive our local customs in addition to taking inspiration from religions far and wide. Our blood and spirit runs much deeper than nation or language, as the source has and will remain for as long as we remain.

Wulf Willelmson

Paganism or Christianity? Which is the Way for the West?

This issue in particular has come to my attention among those who wish to revive our native folk spirit and once again see our civilization flourish. There are those who feel that it is most important to acknowledge our Christian heritage as a source of strength, and that this is the only way to rally our people to defend our lands. Others see Christianity as having caused the problems of multiculturalism and environmental devastation in the first place, and that only by returning to our pagan past can we see a true revival among our folk. This issue is not as clear-cut as it sounds, and it is quite frustrating to see Europeans bickering amongst each other over matters of religion while the enemies are at the gates. I wish to give a broader analysis of the situation, and will attempt to explain why it is not an issue of which religion is the ‘true’ one, but rather which one is appropriate for the present situation.

First of all, I will address some of the concerns of pagans who have an issue with Judeo-Christianity and see it as the source of our woes and wish to abandon its tenets in favour of the ways of our ancestors. As this is the camp which I fall into as a Wotanist first and foremost, I can sympathize with such concerns. The abuses by the Church against our folk for the sake of profit by promoting high-minded ideals while indulging in the very things that they preach against (such as adultery, pleasurable sex and attachment to material possessions) has sickened many people to their stomachs, severing their trust in organized religion and even the idea of ‘God’ itself. I too held this view of Christianity for many years even before becoming a pagan and it is because of this hypocrisy that paganism has seen a revival in recent decades. Christianity has become a part of all of our institutions, even though in Britain (and especially in Scotland) it has largely taken a vestigial role. Though this may be the case, it still looms large as part of our cultural fabric, and it is difficult to escape its presence.

However, as I have explained before, ‘Judeo-Christianity’ is a specific form of Christianity, it is not a particular sect or offshoot, but rather a method of employing religion as a way of practising capitalism. It involves the deception of believers into giving their money to the Church, not because they provide an actual service in the form of offering tips on achieving connection with God through the self, but in order to bolster its authority and capital in order to maintain its control over the parishes. Judeo-Christianity was promulgated by Paul the Pharisee as a way of merging the Judaic religious hierarchy with the teachings of Christ that were intended for gentiles. This religious structure was adopted by the Roman emperor, Constantine, who used it to secure his hold on the Roman Empire, by emphasizing the monotheism of Christianity in order to legitimize his own rule as ‘God’s regent’ on Earth. This tactic was later employed by Medieval kings as a way to consolidate their power.

One can be a Christian without being either complicit in or fooled by this tactic. If one knows how to interpret the teachings of Christ correctly and not to take them literally, then you have already raised yourself above the level of what the Church expects its followers to be, which is sheep. This path is known as ‘Kristianism’, and involves discovering esoteric knowledge through personal study of the Bible. There are also simply’ Cultural Christians’, who adopt Christianity as merely a cultural garb and to whom the corruption of the Church is known, but who also know their local clergy well enough that they can trust them and for whom engagement in Christianity fills both social and spiritual needs. This is particularly relevant to those following Catholicism, which has incorporated Pre-Christian practises in order to convert pagans in the past. The result is now that it is essentially a syncretic religion that has more relevance today than any attempt to revive the original paganism, as this is the form in which those traditions have survived.

As to the concerns of Christians with regards to the resurgence of paganism, I must say that many of their fears about this are misplaced. There are some who see such a phenomenon as ‘the devil’s lure’ and conflate the return of paganism with the proliferation of Cultural Marxism and other Modern ills. For this reason, paganism is seen as a threat rather than an ally, and the Christian heritage of the West is emphasized, particularly the Renaissance. I would disagree with some pagans that the Renaissance was more pagan than Christian, it seems to have been a mixture of both. For this reason, I do find it rather annoying that some Christians see paganism on the same level as Islam, and are not willing to work with pagans because their religious beliefs prohibit this.

This may prove to be an especially dangerous move on the part of the Christians, as the fact that Judeo-Christianity and Sunni Islam fall under the Abrahamic umbrella may be used by the powers that be as a way to turn both forces against us pagans, reviving the Burning Times and securing the control of the Church and other various Abrahamic institutions. While I do not think this is likely, it would be the result of a reluctance for Christians to cooperate with pagans, a scenario which is also not helped by the attitude of some pagans, who also refuse to work with Christians because they cannot see any merit in Christian teachings as they conflate this with Judeo-Christianity. Simply saying to a Christian “all of the good parts of your religion are stolen from paganism” is not going to win you any friends, and this will only result in confirming their perception of us pagans as brainless barbarians who are unable to reconcile the cultural contributions of Christianity with their own heritage. Christians would also do well to remember that their religion is indeed in decline, and that it would be wise to ensure their survival through working with emerging faiths, as opposed to sealing their fate to the history books by lashing out in the same way as Islam.

And now I wish to move onto my final point, which is that different types of religion are appropriate for different periods in history. To illustrate this, I will reference a symbol which can be appreciated by both pagans and Christians alike, the Trinity. The Trinity can be expressed in a variety of artistic forms, from the triskele (triple spiral) of Celtic paganism, the valknut (triple triangles) of the Teutons, or the triquetra of Celtic Christianity. The Trinity is taken in a theological sense to signify the Son, Father and Holy Spirit within Christianity (as aspects of God) or as three gods or three goddesses within paganism (such as Wotan, Thor and Tyr in Teutonic paganism, or as Morrigan, Badbh and Macha in Ancient Ireland). In a metaphorical sense it has many meanings, but one of the main principles of the Trinity within Aryan philosophy is that of representing arising, being and passing away; in other words, birth, life and death. This is taken to reflect the cycles of life and applies to all forces within Nature, such as creation, sustenance and destruction. They are also reflected in the gunas or ‘energies’ in Hinduism, which are rajas (generation, passion, building), sattva (goodness, stability, peace) and tamas (darkness, ignorance, degeneracy).







And so, how does this all relate to which religion will enable our people to find their inner strength? Well, in one sense, each person is suited to a particular path; whichever one calls each individual should be their own guiding light, and this is for no one else to interfere with. However, it is clear that civilizations go through these same cycles found in Nature, and so one type of religion will be more appropriate for each stage in an epoch. These three types of religion have mainly to do with interpretations, which take the form of either paganism, mysticism or fundamentalism. Essentially , the difference in attitude between these three belief systems is that, for pagans, their general philosophy is “I must take care of myself and my kin”, for mystics, it is “I must take care of others before myself” and for religious fundamentalists and materialists, it is “others must take care of me before themselves”. However, I find it necessary to explore the differences between these approaches in more detail and compare their varying attitudes and attributes.

First of all, ‘paganism’, in a true sense, refers to a religion or culture that is embodied by rajas; for which the main focus will be fertility and procreation, art and literature, mutual exchange, war and conquest, animal sacrifice, fortune-telling, magic and folklore. Paganism is often polytheistic, emphasizing the importance of multiple deities (also known as ‘archangels’ in Abrahamic mythology) and their interaction with each other and with each individual human. The gods represent seven archetypes (and are further subdivided into different characters in mythology) and they act as role models for an individual to both relate to and embody, and can be called upon for various desires, if the favour is returned in the form of an offering or sacrifice. Paganism tends to be a communitarian religion, and the relationship with one’s ancestors is seen as one of the most important facets of one’s life. Paganism embodies all that is practical, creative and sensual. The pagan religions consist of what are considered ‘native religions’, which are folkish belief systems specific to each culture and people. Their membership is therefore restricted to each ethnicity from which these religions emerge, since power is gained from one’s ancestors which one does not share with the rest of humanity.

In contrast to this are the mystical religions, which include Kristianism, Buddhism, Sufi Islam, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism and the various mystery religions of history. In Hinduism, this takes the form of devotion to Krishna (another name for Christ) and is associated with the mode of sattva; and so adherents to mysticism value modesty, chastity, humility, charity, making plant offerings and practising meditation and fasting as a means of attaining peace. The focus of mysticism is for each individual to follow their own path to enlightenment, and so this applies to all of humanity and is therefore universalist. Mysticism tends to be either panentheistic (“God exists in all things”) or monistic (“all is one”).

Mystical teachings encourage connection between oneself and the universe, and so this involves seeing all other plants, animals and humans as part of one self, which exists as a singular entity in union with God (or ‘creative force’). This path is personal and is usually pursued on an individual basis, and so it involves the study of Gnosticism and esoterica. Groups are formed by those who share such beliefs, but the main emphasis is on a deep, personal connection with one’s surroundings in order to attain peace, which is why monasticism and Hermeticism (a ‘hermit’ is somebody who follows the ‘Hermetic’ or ‘wisdom’ teachings) is so popular among such people. Those who follow the mystic teachings exemplify grace, unity and purity.

The third type of belief system in this context is religious fundamentalism. Such religions consist of what are known as ‘Orthodox’ interpretations of scripture, and include Judeo-Christianity, mainstream Sunni and Shi’a Islam, Orthodox Judaism and various death cults that have existed throughout history; including the thugee of India, who drugged and captured travellers and sacrificed them in the name of the goddess Kali. Religious fundamentalism requires a literal interpretation of mythology, and so being in the mode of tamas, encourages deception, coercion, enslavement, humiliation, violence, bigotry, hatred, perversion, human sacrifice and demonolatry (‘demon worship’). It is worth clarifying that ‘war’ in a pagan sense is quite apart from ‘violence’ within fundamentalism.

While warfare is seen by pagans as a necessary act as a means of gaining honour in battle with other combatants, religious fundamentalists will typically resort to attacking the weakest targets, such as women and children, and by employing trickery to gain sympathy while they commit crimes against others. Religious fundamentalists tend to be either monotheistic (“one god is the only true God”) or atheistic (“there is no God”) and will appear in the form of any religion (including paganism), as their intent is to subvert religious doctrine to suit their own needs. Though they desire to attract more adherents, religious fundamentalists will typically shun anyone who does not follow their specific dogma and are usually hostile to those outside their own faith, particularly pagans. Fundamentalist leaders demand conformity and obedience from their followers.

Though usually associated more with politics, it may also be said that Marxism is a type of religious fundamentalism; the only difference being that, instead of committing atrocities in the name of ‘God’, they do so in the name of ‘humanity’. Their human sacrifices are those who stand in the way of their pursuit of ‘progress’. In essence, any interpretation that takes some statement literally (such as ‘all humans are equal’ or ‘God will punish those who disobey’) comes from a place of ignorance and can be seen as contributing to the destructive forces of the universe.

While some (usually mystics or fundamentalists) tend to see such interactions in the form of ‘good versus evil’, as a pagan I do not believe in such concepts. Rather, each of these forces form a necessary part of struggle in life, and must be relegated accordingly to each situation in which they are appropriate. Unfortunately, for those who wish for there to be no negative interpretations of religion, this in itself is a form of ignorance, as such practices will always exist among humans, and it is up for each individual to choose the path for which they are best suited. If there were none who embodied the destructive and chaotic aspects of reality, how could we compare their behaviour in contrast to nobility or goodness? It is more a matter of management than eradication, as the belief that we can erase evil from our world is as foolish as it is undesirable.

Which brings me to my conclusion with regards to which religion will meet the needs of the time in which we find ourselves. As I said before, each type of religion will be for each person to choose, and so no one can be blamed for feeling the call to a path that is not the one in vogue at a particular time. However, as for the collective, it is clear that one approach will suit each time period to reflect the state of our civilization. It is apparent that we have been living in an age of decay, and the tamas energy has been reflected the Death of the West. The proliferation of Marxism alongside Christian and Islamic fundamentalism have been the signs that materialism has dominated and accompanied the destruction of the environment, our societies and ourselves. However, it appears that we are moving into a new age, where the energy of rajas will likely become dominant, and that this can be shown by the resurgence of native faiths across the world.

My feelings are that this is a part of the struggles that we are facing today, our folk and our civilization is being reborn. However, it is a painful process, but one which cannot be held back by the hangovers of the previous age. We have experienced this before; after the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe experienced the gradual conversion to Christianity. However, before the Late Middle Ages, most of Europe was still pagan, even if Christian in name, and the nations that were born in this period (France, Spain, Italy, Germany, England, Scotland, Wales etc.) are those which exist today. By the Late Medieval and Renaissance period, Western civilization was at its peak, and Hermeticism was proliferated throughout Europe by means of widespread literacy. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches had also secured their hold on our lands, but for most this was an opportunity to experience unity with their fellow Christians. However, with the tumult of the Burning Times, this period gave way to the Modern period, in which liberalism and secularism became dominant, and the Western nations began to build empires in order to feed the ravenous hunger of the central banks from which the kings of Europe had borrowed money to pay for armies and secure their political power.

And so, the last century has been characterized by the fall of the European empires, the spread of Marxism and consumerism, the invasion by foreign peoples and the decline of our societies. This means that the cycle will begin anew, and this means that it is paganism, not Christianity, that will lead us into a new era. I do not say this based on my own bias, but rather because this is simply a recognition of the rhythms of the universe and what will be essential in order to face the challenge of rebuilding our civilization. Christian teachings of charity and pacifism are ill-suited to repelling invaders and meeting the basic needs of survival, something which concerns paganism much more closely.

Of course, Christians will not simply go away, even if their numbers are falling. They are still important to our sense of history and heritage, as they preserve that element which is sustainable, and they may carry a tradition that extends beyond the borders of our own folk. There will come a time when the generative force of paganism is no longer relevant, at which point Christianity (or whatever form European mysticism takes in the future) will be necessary in order to maintain what we have built. After those teachings fail to reach enough people through corruption, they will be twisted into literal interpretations for the sake of greed, and so civilization will once again fall and the cycle begins anew. We are at the beginning of an exciting new dawn, as we not only have the traditions of our ancestors which have survived the ravages of time, but also the shared knowledge and technology that characterizes the world in which we live. Strength and honour shall be the order of the day!

Hail Wotan!

Wulf Willelmson

The Dark Ages

The term ‘Dark Ages’ refers to the time also known as the Early Medieval (or ‘Early Historic’) period between the 5th and 11th centuries AD, and this is because we know little about events from the historical record in Western Europe compared to the Roman and Late Medieval periods. This can be contrasted with the Renaissance and the resurgence of paganism and occultism in this part of the world following the Middle Ages around the 16th Century. After the fall of Rome, the Continent was divided between pre-feudal, Teutonic kingships, while the British Isles descended into tribalism; where there was competition for land and resources between the native, Brittonic folk and Anglo-Saxon settlers.

However, despite the suggestion of genocide that has been proposed by some Modern archaeologists, there is no reason to believe that the Anglo-Saxons had some sort of ‘apartheid’ regime (something which can only be implemented through the state, which was not present in Britain following the Roman departure). Exterminating the Britons would have made little sense if much of the land was depopulated, a process which began in Late Antiquity and continued into the Dark Ages. It is certain that there were folk that came from what is now mainland Denmark and Northern Germany, though they arrived in Britain over a continuous time, as they were hired as mercenaries by the Romans and later the British petty kings to help fight the marauding Picts and Gaels. Thus, the Anglo-Saxons became more populous on the Eastern and Southern coasts of England, and eventually took control of the areas in which they formed the majority.

They could only have achieved this with the help of British pagans who felt alienated by their Christian rulers. There is reason to believe that the Anglo-Saxon warlords married into local noble families and gained power this way. The founder of Wessex, Kerdic, has a Celtic name, and so it is likely that he had an Anglo-Saxon father and British mother. Also, the Northumbrian king, Oswy, gained the territory of Rheged (Lancashire) through marrying a princess of that kingdom. It is for this reason that many Britons became absorbed into Anglo-Saxon culture through intermarriage and because of shared religious beliefs.

This is presumably what is meant in the Welsh Triads by the description of the Lloegrians (Britons of the South and East) coming into confederation with the Angles and Saxons. Though the Angles, Saxons and Jutes (who settled in Kent and also in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight) were three different tribes, they all spoke the same language and worshipped the same pantheon, which is why they are known culturally as Anglo-Saxons. Christianity subsequently fell out of favour among many of the Britons, but was reintroduced from Ireland by missionaries. These ‘Celtic Christians’ were more successful in converting the Britons than the earlier, state-imposed Roman Church, as they preached a doctrine that was more suited to Celtic culture and spirituality.

The first among the Teutonic tribes of England to be Christianized were the Jutes, whose close contact and trade with the Franks over in France, Belgium and the Netherlands exposed them to the later ‘Catholic Church’ that was more friendly to pagan customs. The Dark Age Roman missionaries were advised not to destroy pagan shrines, but to simply consecrate them in the name of Christ and convince the local people that they were Christians. In Late Antiquity, their methods included desecrating pagan shrines and attacking pagans, acts which did not win the hearts of the common folk. While the Jutes, Saxons and Mercians were converted to Roman Catholicism, the Northumbrians initially responded to the Church established by Saint Columba.

Edwin, was the first Northumbrian king to convert, though Oswy (a rival to Edwin and future King of Northumbria) converted to Christianity while he lived in exile in Iona. However, Oswy would eventually be responsible for turning his back on the Columban Church and agreed to revise the date of Easter to conform with mainstream Catholic custom at the Synod of Whitby; a move which would be followed by the Picts (in whose lands lived many Culdees, ‘hermit monks’ who preserved the Celtic tradition) and later at Iona itself. And so, the Catholic Church had succeeded in drawing the folk of the British Isles closer to its dogma, and went on to firmly establish Judeo-Christianity among the peoples of our land.

A similar process that occurred with the Britons and Anglo-Saxons may have also have happened among the inhabitants of the Northern Isles (and some of the Western Isles), and the Norsemen who settled there. These islands were some of the last places to be Christianized, and though they were attractive to the Culdees due to their isolation, they presumably did not bother the local pagans. The folk of the Northern Isles, especially in Shetland, have inherited much of their genetic lineage from the Norse. However, this does not mean that the natives were massacred by the Vikings. Rather, it suggests that they were more open to interaction with the Norsemen than with the mainland Picts and Gaels.

This may have been because the high kings of these peoples were known to raid the Northern Isles and the Hebrides, of which the goals were usually to capture booty and some slaves. It is important to note that chattel slavery was not widely practised in Britain before the introduction of Christianity, aside from kingdoms in the South-East who were in close contact with the Romans. Though there were many in European tribal society who were not free due to debt (and so were more like serfs), the market for this practice was only opened up through trade with the Mediterranean. Mercantile slavery was also not initially a feature of Scandinavian society, though they engaged in the practice once they began raiding other parts of Europe (especially in Ireland).

The place-names of the Isles show no trace of a Brittonic language such as Pictish, though we know that their culture was present in this part of the country at least so some degree because of the survival of some scattered Pictish symbol stones. However, the lack of Pictish material culture may also suggest that many of those living on the Isles before the Viking Age (between the 9th and 11th Centuries) were not Picts, and that this process may also have occurred over a longer period of time through cultural contact.The folk of the Northern Isles were converted to Christianity by the sword at the behest of the Norwegian king, Olaf Tryggvasson, who was one of the most bloodthirsty and fanatical Christian kings in history.

The Western Isles were presumably converted more gradually as they merged with the Isle of Man to form their own kingdom, independent from Norway. Gradually, the process of Norse domination reversed, as the folk of the Western Isles adopted the Gaelic tongue and were eventually incorporated into the Kingdom of Scotland in the 13th Century. This later period produced more literature than the previous Dark Ages, as the Catholic Church had secured a monopoly on the production of books among most of the European kingdoms (Eastern Europe underwent a similar process with the Orthodox Church, though pagan customs were still more prevalent there than in Western Europe).

However, despite the fact that the Dark Ages heralded the introduction of Christianity to Northern Europe and the Middles Ages were characterized by the domination of the Church, it was still a time of dual faith; meaning that while society maintained the veneer of Christianity, most of the folk traditions and customs of the Europeans at the time remained rooted in paganism. This was also reflected in the monastic literature, as myths from Ireland and Iceland were preserved by the dedication of some monks to maintaining the ancient tales, though they probably omitted details if they offended Christian sensitivities.

Even in France and Germany where the pagan myths had not been written down during the Dark Ages, the rise of Romance literature continued the common themes of Celtic literature, such as the legends of King Arthur and his knights. While Welsh monks managed to preserve earlier versions of these stories, the French and German versions were more heavily adapted to feudal society (with Arthur and his knights acting more according to contemporary ideas of chivalry rather than his status as a warlord in Welsh stories). However, they still contained the pagan and Celtic elements at their core, and had many parallels in Welsh mythology.

While the Church continued to control the narrative of the written word, most folk of the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages engaged in oral tradition, and they preserved their people’s history through storytelling rather than writing. Though some of these stories were written down at some point during the Middle Ages, it is certain that many more have been lost over the centuries. There have been many attempts to record the ancient legends about Finn MacCool and other Gaelic heroes in Scotland and Ireland throughout the Modern era, either as a transcript or as audio recordings. These recent retellings in many cases match the ‘Classical Gaelic’ versions written down in the Middle Ages.

This is a testament to how strong the continuity of oral tradition can be, which is vital to maintaining the survival of a people through reminding them of the deeds of their ancestors and providing guidance for future challenges. Texts (and for that matter, computer data) are liable to be destroyed easily, and as their content resides in something external to ourselves, thy are forgotten if committed to writing and then lost or destroyed. This is why so many powerful institutions seek to control the narrative through media, and it is more effective to do so through the means of text and pictures. One of the reasons why folk customs were demonized in the Burning Times was that they posed a threat to the established order by diverging from the mainstream narrative and surviving thanks to the folk that remembered them. These ‘cunning folk’ were most likely to be engaged in what was deemed ‘witchcraft’, such as fortune-telling and herbal medicine.

I am unfortunately pessimistic in regards to our own time, as I do believe that we are on the verge of another Dark Age, as events that mirror the situation during Late Antiquity that preceded the fall of the Western Roman Empire signal that the collapse of our civilization has already begun. Our society is constantly over-stretching its limits and we are likely to see such events as mass starvation and outbreak of disease, as environmental disasters such as soil erosion and floods will lead to these conditions in a way similar to the Late Roman period. As the Roman elites became so corrupt that they practically enslaved their own populations (as they were no longer receiving slaves from imperial expansion) and introduced foreign populations against the wishes of the people for the sake of their own political interests (the Roman military needed soldiers, the central banks need debt-slaves).

Now that the European empires have expanded and subsequently fought each other in two devastating Brother Wars, only the shells of these empires remain and are being filled with more and more people to prop up consumer culture. Ethnic and religious tensions tear apart empires, and I can easily see Britain descending into tribalism once more if the central authority breaks down and people are left to fend for themselves, just as Emperor Honorius told the British nobles that they would no longer be receiving soldiers from the empire, as Britain had become such a vulnerable province.

In such events, the Celtic peoples survived because they managed to maintain their oral culture and were not devastated by the coming of Christianity. However, the Britons of the South-East became absorbed into Anglo-Saxon culture because they no longer shared the beliefs of their countrymen, and because they became surrounded by foreigners with whom they had more in common spiritually. I do wonder if the vacuum that has been left by the widespread abandonment of Christianity in the West is now being filled by Islam, as it is also an organized religion that insists on spreading its message to all corners of the globe through persuasion or by the sword.

In this way, historical patterns repeat themselves and we can tell what may happen by paying attention to the past. With the loss of spirituality in the West, it must quickly be replaced by our native belief systems, otherwise we may see another wave of violence similar to that during the Dark Ages. Whereas the people under the Roman Empire were protected by the imperial army, the petty kingdoms of the Dark Ages relied on local militias and mercenaries, a situation which is also mirrored today in the Middle East. This is a result of the breakdown of societies, which happens as they become less homogeneous and different cultures compete to control the narrative. Many indigenous cultures around the world have now become endangered, including our own.

However, it is still possible that we could have another Renaissance, as we Europeans rediscover what we have lost and realize who we truly are. This may be possible after a population collapse in the wake of catastrophic events (as with the Black Death that signalled the end of the Middle Ages), and less people would mean that more resources would be available. However, it is only possible to achieve this with dedication in recovering our heritage and history, and by thinking of ourselves also as worthy of being remembered in legends.We are not, as Modern nihilistic thinking suggests, individuals that only exist for one lifetime, but are part of a chain that connects us to both our ancestors and our descendants.

This link may only persist by thinking less about ourselves and more about our families and our folk. One of the reasons that the Dark Ages were known for the prevalence of warfare was that scarcity of resources once the Anglo-Saxon population expanded led them to push further and further West. Many of the inhabitants of cities such as York were still living within the Roman walls, and so urban life continued in some parts of Britain after the Roman left. However, these areas were more susceptible to cultural assimilation, as they were cosmopolitan and did not have a sense of national identity in the same way that the Britons of the countryside did. In the same way, it is in the rural parts of our country where our culture will have a chance of survival.

Wulf Willelmson

‘Ostara’, Goddess of Dawn and Spring

As our second blót of the year, the Creed of Caledon has performed our first ‘Ostara blót’, and are looking towards the coming season with optimism and determination. ‘Ostara’ is the reconstructed form of the Germanic holiday known in Old English as Eostre and in Modern English as Easter. There is some variation as to when the festival is celebrated. Though it traditionally marks the Spring Equinox (which is when we have chosen to celebrate it), it may also be celebrated the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, as in Western Christendom. ‘Ostara’ is the personification of the dawn, and is an alter-ego of Freya (whose twin brother, Frey, is associated with sunset). Traditionally, our forebears would perform this blót at dawn to greet the goddess of Spring. However, because of personal obligations (this year, the Spring Equinox was on a Monday, which does not work well with a regular work schedule), we chose to celebrate it on the evening prior, which is just as sacred a time to perform a blót as at dawn.

Because of it’s association with Freya and the Vanir, Ostara is a fertility festival, marking the blossoming of the flowers and the reproductive activities of the animals. Hares and rabbits in particular are associated with Ostara, and the ‘Easter Bunny’ which lays eggs is a symbol of fertility. This represents the possibilities in our lives that need to incubate before they can hatch in the summer (although the association with pregnancy would mean that the cycle begun at the Spring Equinox will complete at the Winter Solstice). In this sense, now that Winter has truly ended, we can now focus on starting projects and making changes in our lives. It’s astonishing to see how so many people choose to move house at this time of year, and it is also now that ‘Spring cleaning’ is necessary to prepare for Summer. Since Ostara follows Lent (another Christian tradition with origins in paganism), it also means that we can once again look forward to growing crops after the ‘hungry gap’, the early part of Spring when very little grows and food is even more scarce than in Winter. Now is the time to think about sowing seeds for the coming season, as the earth has become fertile once again. The Spring Equinox is important because it marks the point where day and night are equal in length, and so from this point the days will become longer than the nights. The extra sunlight will encourage growth and will hopefully encourage us to spend more time outside.

Though known as Easter or some variant of Passover (as in Judaism) in Europe, the Spring Equinox is also an important part of other Aryan cultures. In India and Nepal, the festival is known as Holi, which is ‘the festival of colours’, and is marked by people smearing each other with coloured dye and throwing water balloons at each other. It is also customary to imbibe bhang (a traditional drink with cannabis as the primary ingredient) as a way of getting in touch with the feminine energy of Springtime and feeling joy at the prospect of growing days and a fruitful season. Among the Iranian peoples, the festival is celebrated as Nowruz, and is traditionally the New Year in Central Asia. This time of the year is marked in all Aryan cultures as a time of increased activity, and a good opportunity to make good on personal promises or ‘New Year’s resolutions’, which are much harder to fulfil while the days are still dark and the weather is still cold. Though it is still cold in Scotland at this time of year, it is starting to get warm enough that we don’t have to pile on as much clothes to keep warm, and we can look forward to spending more time outside, either in Nature or simply in our back gardens or local parks. I have always personally had a certain distaste for Spring, though understanding the importance of the yearly cycle and coming to appreciate the religious and spiritual significance of the Spring Equinox has made me more content with this time of year.

Hail Ostara!

Wulf Willelmson