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).

triskelion

Triskele

valknut

Valknut

triquetra

Triquetra

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

 

Church and State: The Two-Headed Beast

No collaboration has managed to be quite as insidious and abusive throughout history as the union of Church and State. These two pillars of government (represented by the two-headed eagle) are the standard for countries which have adopted an Abrahamic religion at some point in history, and they continue to be particularly strong in conservative Islamic countries; where Sharia is used as a combination of religious dogma and state enforcement. However, they have also experienced periods of conflict. While the Church and State maintained equality of power among themselves during and after the Christianization of Europe (the Early Middle Ages), by the Late Middle Ages the Catholic Church had secured its supremacy across Europe and began to experience competition from powerful monarchs. Their monopoly over the European economies through the businesses of the Church (such as charging for forgiveness of sins and the trade in ‘relics’) made them richer and more powerful than the kings, who could only gain wealth through extracting taxes from their people or as tribute from their defeated enemies. This was consistently the case in the ‘Holy Roman’ (German) Empire, where it was unclear whether the emperor or the pope had more control. This eventually resulted in a Papal Schism and, later on, the Protestant Reformation, which involved removing the influence of the Catholic Church and making the monarch the head of the Church, before transferring secular power to parliaments.

The idea of having spiritual and secular branches of power comes from the basic structure of a tribe. In Ancient Germanic society, the spiritual leader was known as an erilaz (which became ‘earl’) and the secular leader was known as a kuningaz (from which ‘king’ derives). The erilaz was the high priest and magician of the tribe, while the kuningaz led the warriors and was more similar to a general. The kuningaz levied taxes and went on raids to gain tribute or booty, so that they could support themselves and the gothar (priests and magicians in Old Norse). Meanwhile, the erilaz was responsible for the general wellbeing of the tribe and performed sacrifices and offering to the gods, as well as made important decisions about what the tribe should do. In Gaulish society, the vergobret (‘magistrate’ or ‘arch druid’) was elected by the druids (though they were probably elected by all free men of the tribe in earlier times), while the rix (‘king’) was elected by the warriors.

However, the Roman kings sought to become both spiritual and secular rulers, becoming both the heads of the army and the priesthood. This continued even after the Roman Republic, as both proconsuls and emperors held the titles of commander-in-chief and head priest. This is one of the reasons why the Late Roman emperors converted to Christianity, because it had become too difficult to control the empire with both spheres of power embodied in one monarch, and so the pope became the head of the Church while the emperor focused more on leading the army. However, the popes became more and more dominant and saw themselves as more legitimate rulers of a Christian empire than the emperors, which caused the schism between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. In Eastern Orthodoxy, the patriarch acted as the chief priest, but the emperor remained the head of the Church and selected the patriarch, which has meant that there has been less competition between the Orthodox Church and the leaders of Orthodox countries, such as Greece and Russia.

As far as the conversion to Christianity in Northern Europe is concerned, the role of erilaz became secularized, and ‘earl’ has come to be a title of nobility and landownership, based on the earlier territory of tribes (many ‘earldoms’ corresponded to previous tribal boundaries). While the king continued to act as secular ruler and head of the army, bishops were appointed as religious leaders by the Church to act on behalf of the pope. It is in this way that the Catholic Church maintained itself as a religious empire and permeated most of Europe by the Late Middle Ages. Its last acts of conquest in Europe were the ‘Northern Crusades’, carried out against Baltic pagans in Prussia and Lithuania by the German Teutonic Order. In this way, the Church used converted folk to conquer the unconverted. Even after the Reformation, the Catholic Church found new victims in the Americas, Asia and Africa. However, the Reformation did not save the Protestant kingdoms. As the kings and queens moved from secular to spiritual rulers, they simply became the heads of the religion of the State. For example, the Church of England (and Ireland and Scottish Episcopalians) functions as a State religion, with the Queen of England as it’s head. In countries without a monarchy, this role is fulfilled by a president if a prime minister or chancellor acts as the secular leader. In this way, the State acts as a religious body, but without spirituality, both spheres of power have been secularized.

The result of this is that in Protestant countries (but also in any secularized nation whether Christian, Muslim or Jewish) the peoples’ religious needs are fulfilled by consumerism, the shopping centres and cinemas are our churches while actual churches are replaced by mosques to suit incomers from Islamic lands. In removing power from the priesthood, even one as corrupt and abusive as the Catholic Church, the capitalists and ‘social democrats’ (the self-designation of gradualist socialists) have removed the spiritual hearts of our nations, and replaced them with dogmas based on the worship of wealth or the worship of idealism, depending on what side of the political spectrum one chooses to support. Our folk have become disconnected from their native spirituality through centuries of indoctrination and abuse, and are largely unaware of our ancient lineage and heritage.

The Church has so thoroughly mixed heathen traditions with their own that many of us mistake our own customs for Judeo-Christian ones, and so in modern secular society, we have cast aside our own ways in an attempt to throw off the yoke of the Church. Whereas Catholic countries still have these traditions embedded in their culture, the Reformation actually destroyed many texts kept in monasteries and churches and severed many folk from their original, heathen practises. The only leader in the British Isles who ever attempted to do away with Christmas was the Puritan tyrant Oliver Cromwell, a move which even those materialists in control today do not even attempt, at least for now. The doctrine of egalitarianism that was espoused by the Christians has passed over into Cultural Marxism, which denies the legitimacy of the existence of race and folk as a basis for spirituality, leaving hollow faith solely in the ‘human race’ as a uniform and homogeneous unit under one global zeitgeist.

Nowadays, the State is observably more powerful than the Church in people’s daily lives, however, they still continue to support one another. It is no coincidence that there is evidence for widespread child abuse both among political elites and within the Catholic Church. These two institutions exist to mislead and abuse, and are well known for propagating lies to their people. It is telling that both the State and all of the representatives of organized religions in this country (Protestant, Catholic, Muslim and Jewish) encouraged people to support the invasion of Europe by economic migrants from Asia and Africa, conflating them with the refugees from Syria and appealing to ‘humanitarianism’. The Church has done much to feed folk with feelings of guilt and shame that permeate even into secular society, encouraging us to value others more than ourselves, even if others are taking advantage of us. Its role has been to keep folk ignorant and weak, so that we may accept the abuses of the State to take our rights away. We do need two sections of society to balance the spiritual and the secular in our societies, but the Church and the State do not fulfil either need, as their powers are rooted in exploitation and extortion. They only exist in order to govern a population larger than a tribal confederation (such as that of a nation-state or an empire), and cannot be trusted simply on the basis that they cannot possibly have your best interests at heart if they operate as separate classes above the rest of us, rather than belonging to one tribe and working on their behalf.

Wulf Willelmson

Yazidism: The Cult of the Peacock Angel

Though most of my work is centred on my homeland in Europe, which is being assaulted and invaded by hostile forces from within and without, I wish to draw attention to a people in a similar situation in the Middle East as us Wotanists; namely, the Yazidi Kurds of Iraq. While most of the Middle East has succumbed to monotheism, this people stands out among all others because their religion seems to be a form of polytheism; where reverence is given not to a singular, cosmic God, but to seven holy beings known as the ‘heft sirr‘ (‘the seven mysteries’), with particular emphasis on Melek Taus, the ‘peacock angel’. Though they consider themselves Muslims and believe in the power of an almighty God, their religious practice seems to suggest that this is merely to avoid Islamic persecution, as they seem to believe that such a deity does not require worship, but that rather he should be worshipped through the heft sirr.

Melek Taus is revered by the Yazidis because he is seen as the creator and ruler of Earth, and was respected by God for refusing to bow down to Adam when he was created, representing the refusal of a spiritual being made from God’s light to be subordinate to a material creature. This has parallels to the Islamic story of Iblis, the angel who refused to bow down to Adam and so was cursed by Allah and became ‘Shaitan’, the Islamic Satan. This perverse concept that damns spiritual pride and independence has led to the Yazidis to be seen as ‘devil-worshippers’ by many Muslims, and has resulted in their persecution and, more recently, attempts to exterminate them by Islamic State. It doesn’t help that Melek Taus is also known as ‘Shaytan’ to the Yazidis, however, he doesn’t seem to be either good or evil as in Abrahamic religions. While the Yazidis do not have a concept of dualism and do not worship demons, this has led to the abominable practice of killing members of their ethnic group who attempt to leave or marry outside of their religion (also known as ‘honour killings’). Such an extreme practice reflects the severity of persecution and the fear that their unique religion will die out in a sea of monotheism, and the original religion of the Kurds will be forgotten.

The similarities between Yazidism and Wotanism are apparent, as the focus on seven holy beings (considered gods in Wotanism, though the Yazidis prefer to see them more as angels, probably under influence of monotheistic religions like Zoroastrianism and Islam) is a central feature of both religions. Nevertheless, these beings are still subject to higher authority, in Yazidism it is God, in Wotanism is is ‘wyrd’ (meaning something akin to ‘destiny’ and is from where we have the word ‘weird’), which is maintained by the three Norns governing past, present and future. However, these higher cosmic forces are not considered to require reverence, since they are self-sustaining and eternal. However, the gods or angels are dependent on human interaction to survive and maintain order in the cosmos, and so this is why it is they and not God who are focused on by both Yazidis and Wotanists. Melek Taus can also be compared to the god Wotan, as he is considered the leader of the heft sirr, as well as creator of the world (in Germanic mythology, the world was created by Wotan, Wili and We, a triplicity of Wotan). They also share the same holy day, Wednesday, which in English is named after the Anglo-Saxon Woden.

Yazidi customs include parading a golden model of a peacock, which is kissed by Yazidis for good luck. The Yazidis are keen to emphasize that they do not worship the idol, but that it is merely a representation of the spiritual force of Melek Taus. Their New Year is comparable to the modern Easter, as it falls slightly later than the Spring Equinox. They also have two holy books, known as ‘Kiteba Cilwe’ (‘the book of revelation’) and ‘Mishefa Res’ (‘the black book’). Though these have been deemed as forgeries by scholars, it has to be remembered that the Yazidis have a purely oral tradition, and so to make their beliefs and customs known to outsiders it was necessary for foreigners to write them down, as their content is consistent with Yazidi doctrine. Their society is led by a secular ’emir’ (‘prince’ or ‘general’) and a sheikh, who is the spiritual leader and is split into three castes who strictly marry among themselves. In this way, they maintain the structure that has held up their society for thousands of years. As they have been at the centre of many different civilisations, they have been influenced by all other religions in the area, from Zoroastrianism to Greek paganism and Sufi Islam, which is a sect of Islam that teaches pagan wisdom under the guise of Islam in order to preserve the knowledge, mainly among the Iranian peoples.

While the Yazidis join the fight with other Kurds against Islamic State, some of their women are taken as sex slaves and the Yazidis are seen by IS fighters as less than human. This is comparable to the recurring rape of European women by Islamic invaders, though our stronger state structure means that such events are somewhat successful at being covered up and ignored to avoid backlash and so, unlike in Iraq, we have not yet fallen into open warfare. However, it is important that we stand together with our polytheist brothers and sisters from all parts of the world, our struggle is the same and we have the gods on our side. Many Yazidis who have fled to Europe now carry the same fears from their homeland as millions of Islamic invaders are pouring into Europe. It is important that we realise that we are on the same boat and fight to preserve the traditions of all peoples against the cancer of dogmatism.

Wulf Willelmson

‘Myth’ and ‘Falsehood’

The word ‘myth’ is commonly understood to mean something that is untrue, false or otherwise not supported by evidence. This meaning is itself untrue, as myths are neither, strictly speaking, true in a literal sense, but neither are they false, as they are meant to convey a deeper truth. A ‘myth’ is simply a story, and can be interpreted to convey truth or to spread falsehood. What is usually labelled as a ‘myth’ today is not a story with a variety of meanings, but rather a lie which has no basis in fact. For example, the myth of Scotland’s landscape being formed by the actions of a primordial woman known as the ‘Cailleach’. It would be absurd to think that a giant woman existed and shaped the land by doing things like letting a well in a mountain overflow to form a loch, but since the Cailleach is a personification of Mother Nature herself, this helps us to interpret the myth in a way that we can understand.

This is because the events described in myths have taken place so long ago that none now live who remember them, and so it is necessary to describe the events in a way that is easier to remember rather than completely accurate. The problem with the modern use of the word ‘myth’ is that it assumes the inherent falsehood of stories like this because they cannot be true in a literal sense, and so discredits the entire story altogether. This is a narrow way to perceive reality, as it means that only that which is material or tangible can be considered true, while deeper meanings and multiple perspectives are neither considered nor questioned.

Mythology is highly dependent on factors such as culture and environment. The features of a particular country’s landscape give myths observable meaning to the people that inhabit it, which is why the forests and mountains of Northern Europe are said to be home to elves, trolls and fairies, beings which are specific to the traditions of these lands. The mythological creatures that are said to inhabit the jungles of South-East Asia are of a similar nature but different form, because their appearance and behaviours are rooted in the folk-consciousness of the people that inhabit that part of the world, as well as the local environment. This also means that different mythologies reflect different values depending on culture. The aristocratic and pastoral ethics of the Ancient Persian epic, the ‘Shahnameh’ (‘Book of Kings’), where the main characters are noble cavalrymen who play polo, hunt lions and fight in great battles for their king, would find little resonance with the hunter-gatherers of Prehistoric Finland, whose mythology is primarily concerned with creation and supernatural tales of heroes journeying to the underworld.

The peoples of the world tell stories about heroes and gods that they admire and aspire to, as they represent the best people to survive in their own environment and embody the potential excellence of their own folk. Our ancestors would look to their lore in times of hardship to give them strength and wisdom. The story of Robert the Bruce, who was inspired to continue pursuing his ambitions by a spider who never gave up when tying to build a web, even after successive failures, serves as a moral to encourage us to learn from our mistakes and push ourselves to reach for success. Now, this story is probably not literally true (apparently the spider was actually seen by one of his kinsmen who told the king-in-exile, in order to encourage him) and is technically more of a legend, since it is based on a historical event. This matters not, its purpose is not simply to inform us about the past, but to apply what our ancestors have learned in our current and future endeavours.

However, a people’s mythology can be obscured or obstructed through competing forms of media, namely modern mass media and academia. These institutions do not exist for the sake of the survival of a race of people, but rather for their own survival as institutions and the international system that they support. Greek and sometimes Egyptian mythology may be taught to school pupils who learn about history or, if they’re lucky, Classics; but Nordic or Celtic mythology is only at best taught at university level and available for enthusiastic readers, but at worse is portrayed in heavily watered down and maladapted forms in Hollywood films and TV series. The effect of mass media is that it creates its own mythology in place of that belonging to a particular race, and serves only to promote ideas that reflect the values of the establishment rather than the folk that consume it. This is also the case with organized religions, who have a universalist approach to mythology which manifests as dogma, which is interpreted as literal truth by their most fundamentalist adherents. This is why only among the most honest academics, and hardly ever among mainstream Abrahamic clergy, is it admitted that their own teachings are simply variations on Judaic mythology (which is itself a mishmash of Babylonian, Egyptian and Canaanite mythology). Since the events of the Old and New Testaments are not generally presented to us as ‘mythology’, this means that the word ‘myth’ as applied to other traditions gains the connotations of ‘false belief’; which is why, to many today, it sadly retains this meaning.

One size does not fit all in this world, there are many ways to determine truth and it is important that this is what we look for when we interpret stories. Myths that are interpreted incorrectly or purposely misused to control or abuse a population should not receive the support of the masses, as the acceptance of lies only creates an impregnable castle in the clouds for those who gain power by fleecing ordinary folk. While it is is interesting to study the comparative mythologies of nations around the world (which is especially helpful if your people have a mythology that has been suppressed and only survives in fragments), it is one’s own local and ethnic tales which will appeal most to the soul and whose meaning can be best understood by the individual. In a way, the myths are themselves abstract constructions, but they are designed not to distort or obscure history; rather, their importance is more applicable to the present state of things than the past, which has passed into the well of memory and slips further away from us in time.

We will not find Truth in lies, nor lies in Truth. Objective Truth is beyond literal and metaphorical, it simply is. Our folk myths are precious and must be preserved, though it is only natural that once they come into regular, oral use, the descriptions and language will change over time, but the meanings will remain the same. Mythology is not simply a static collection of literary verses, but a living and growing body of lore which maintains and is maintained by a people through regular recitation and discourse. Those of us who enjoy reading regularly can find more books and other information about mythology than ever before on the internet, while others with more aural sensibilities can listen to recitations either in audio-book form or by seeking out storytellers active in their communities. Tradition helps us to continue our story, while modernity makes us forget it. We have precious little time to recover our heritage before we are tested to survive in the new world that is emerging…

Wulf Willelmson