Radix Journal

Radix Journal

A radical journal

Author: Jack Donovan

On ‘What Is A Rune?’

I’m certain I’ll come back to the book and re-read portions of these essays again and again over the coming years, but I thought I’d post some initial personal reactions, as I know many of my readers are interested — either intensely or casually — in Germanic paganism.

Originally published at Jack-Donovan.com

As a lifetime “non-believer” who has been delving into Germanic heathen worldviews and traditions for the past year or so, Collin Cleary’s What is a Rune? pulled a few ideas together for me at the right time, introduced some evocative concepts that I’d like to revisit in visual art, and inspired some new questions. I’m certain I’ll come back to the book and re-read portions of these essays again and again over the coming years, but I thought I’d post some initial personal reactions, as I know many of my readers are interested — either intensely or casually — in Germanic paganism.

I concentrated on the essays that were particularly relevant to my own interests — also the first four essays of the book. (“What is a Rune?,” The Fourfold,” “The Ninefold,” and “The Gifts of Odin and his Brothers.”) As Greg Johnson mentioned in his introduction to Cleary’s philosophy, they build on his discussion of achieving an “openness to the gods,” from his earlier work, Summoning the Gods “What is a Rune?” presents a tighter, more accessible and more definitive handling of this line of thought.

For me, Cleary is building on an idea that first struck me while reading Thomas Carlyle’s essay, “The Hero as Divinity” from On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History. For our ancestors, the world was a more magical place.

Lightning, for instance, wasn’t something you learned about in school or from a photograph — it was real and immediate and alive and they saw it with wonder the way children experience it before they are taught a story about what lightning “is” to modern men. Modern men think of these things as ideas, first, but our ancestorsknew things intimately. A grown man would not simply see a tree and identify it against a field handbook of trees, he’d know it. He’d know how it would burn, how to use its wood, its bark, its fruit and seeds and sap. He’d know how it would grow and how it felt to be surrounded by that particular kind of tree in wooded silence.

It is not so difficult to see the world this way, once you’ve escaped the urban or suburban commerce-scape.

It’s not hard to see “MOUNTAIN” as alive and magical when you’re on one, and it’s easy to stop thinking of “FIRE” as a chemical reaction when you’re sitting around a fire under the stars.

Like Carlyle, Cleary makes some fascinating points about what he calls the “numinousness” of the world before it was “explained” by science. In fact, he makes a point that a “world” is not “earth,” but that it comes from the Old English  weorold, meaning “man-age.” Our weorold is defined by our perception and conceptualization of it, and understanding our ancestors means attempting to understand their weorold. Cleary wonders whether we can ever truly understand their world while living in the modern one, and says, perhaps wryly, that, “our hope lies in Ragnarok.”

This point reminds me a bit of arguments often made against the paleo diet — that we can never truly eat as our ancestors ate, because so much has changed in the world. Critics of paleo often imply that because one can’t exactly replicate the diets of our ancestors, the idea is foolish and presumably we should all just resign ourselves to a diet of Twinkies and Mountain Dew because that’s somehow more authentic to our time. Most serious paleo authors I’ve read have understood that we aren’t hunting aurochs anymore. The basic idea is to better approximate the macronutrient ratios of our ancestral diets (though there were many different ones) and stop eating so much processed plastic food synthesized more for profit than for human nourishment. That’s not so unreasonable.

And neither is aiming to approximate some of the ideas our ancestors and incorporate these ideas into the way we live our lives. Exact replication or reenactment would be asinine and masturbatory — at best a cute hobby. We are men living now and we can only be men living now, in our own weorold. The point is to use the past to inform the present, to live vital lives, inspired by the lives and ideas of our ancestors. This is not so unreasonable.

Cleary also writes about the importance of thinking mytho-poetically when interpreting the runes and stories of our ancestors. This comes easier to some than others — artists and musicians and filmmakers and writers of fiction think poetically already. However, one thing I would like to see Cleary explore in the future is the idea ofacting mythopoetically.

In one sense, we can do this, as I mentioned earlier, by getting out into what is left of nature and experiencing it away from modernity. Ponder Laguz while floating on a lake, while you’re experiencing it. Fish the lake. Boat it. Wade in it. Swim in it. Know it.

In another sense, isn’t a major motivation for performing ritual to act mythopoetically? Hasn’t the point of ritual in many religions been to leave behind the mundane and connect to something timeless and elemental? Modern men can use primal sounds and fire and blood to separate themselves mentally from the modern world and experience a mindset that is still full of magic and wonder. We can never, as Cleary points out, truly live in another age — nor should we try — but we can employ ritual to build a bridge of understanding that can inform and enrich the way we live today. To quote Cleary, “…dwelling in [that] world means poetically giving birth to the world itself,” and ritual is a means to use poetry and myth to birth — or one might say, “start” — a new world.

I know and have known many highly intelligent and creative men with an interest in ritual and the occult, and I’ve come in contact with a lot of total fruitcakes, but ritual and the occult seem to attract some particular kinds of thinkers. I’d like to read a thinker as lucid and methodical as Cleary delve into the idea of ritual as mythopoetic action, and could even envision a ritual drawing directly from his conceptualization of the Fourfold and Ninefold.

As I am still very much an entry-level student of Germanic mysticism or heathenry or whatever you’d like to call it, Cleary’s insights into the Fourfold and untangling of the Ninefold were enlightening, even exciting. The association of Muspelheim and Niflheim with solve and coagula, in particular, stood out, and I now link Niflheim not only with ice, but with serpents and retraction, pulling in and unification. Cleary offers similar oppositional concepts for the rest of the nine worlds, and his interpretations breathed a lot of life into them for me.

Since readers often write to ask for book recommendations, I’m going to include What is a Rune? on a short list of readings and lectures which I’ve found particularly helpful as introductions to Germanic heathenry, in a progression.

  1. Prose Edda
  2. Poetic Edda
  3. “The Hero as Divinity” from On Heroes and Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History, Carlyle
  4. “What is a Rune?” from What is a Rune?, Clear
  5. Reading the Past: Runes, R.I. Page (for non-mystical, historical context
  6. RuneloreEdred Thorsson
  7. Lecture: “The Children of Ash: Cosmology and the Viking Universe,” Neil Price (Youtube
  8. “Editorial Preface,” TYR 4, Buckle
  9. “The Fourfold” from What is a Rune?, Clear
  10. “The Ninefold” from What is a Rune?, Clear
  11. The Shape of the Soul: The Viking Mind and the Individual,” Neil Price (Youtube
  12. Life and Afterlife: Dealing with the Dead in the Viking Age,” Neil Price (Youtube
  13. The Road to Hel, Hilda Roderick Elli
  14. Barbarian Rites, Hans-Peter Hasenfrat
  15. “What God did Odin Worship?,” Summoning the Gods, Clear
  16. “What is Odinism?,” TYR 4, Cleary

This isn’t a meant to be a definitive list, as I haven’t read everything I want to read yet, but I think it will be helpful for others. Everything here was recommended to me by someone, so I’m just passing along the recommendations.

Finally, here’s a meme I created and shared around while reading these essays, from a passage I particularly liked about Odin. Please feel free to share it.

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Who Will Swing the Blade?

When the state puts a man to death, it is only because he decided to go to court and wait to be murdered on schedule instead of making a run for it and being gunned down in the street. For some reason, we don’t call that “execution,” and there are only protesters, riots, looting, and moral showboating when the color combination of cops and executed civilians can be whipped up by media race hustlers into something beyond nervous cops going Judge Dredd on uncooperative suspects.

In a dissenting opinion, U.S. 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Alex Kozinski recently wrote, “If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.” After musing about the reliability and effectiveness of the guillotine, he added, “If we as a society cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by a firing squad, then we shouldn’t be carrying out executions at all.”

After several torturously botched lethal injections made the news, Americans have been talking about the death penalty again. Kozinski’s call for firing squads will get a “Damn right!” response from couch-riding cowboys everywhere.

There’s something Johnny Cash about a good old fashioned firing squad or a hanging. And Kozinski is probably right — a firing squad would be quicker, surer and at the same time remind the public that the state is killing on their behalf, and not just “putting someone to sleep” like a benevolent bureaucracy of merciful veterinarians.

I don’t object to the idea of men killing other men, especially if they’re doing it to protect their loved ones or weaker members of their tribe from harm. Violence is golden. If you aren’t willing to use violence to show that you mean business, you deserve to be ruled by a group of men who will. Laws are meaningless without the threat of violence, up to and including murder, and when the police “escort” a criminal to jail, he only goes because they are threatening to murder him if he doesn’t. When it comes right down to it, everyone in prison is being threatened with murder, every day. When the state puts a man to death, it is only because he decided to go to court and wait to be murdered on schedule instead of making a run for it and being gunned down in the street. For some reason, we don’t call that “execution,” and there are only protesters, riots, looting, and moral showboating when the color combination of cops and executed civilians can be whipped up by media race hustlers into something beyond nervous cops going Judge Dredd on uncooperative suspects.

Two things do bother me about state executions, and state violence generally.

The first is the legitimacy of state “justice.”

America has the largest per capita prison population in the world. Some of it is even run for profit, which obviously incentivizes incarceration and gets palms greased in some way at every level. Prosecutors advance their careers by demonstrating high conviction rates. Prosecutorial misconduct has been described even by the New York Times as “rampant” and studies have shown that misconduct is almost never punished — even when the accused are later exonerated in part or wholly because the prosecutors had been caught lying or withholding important information from defense lawyers. Harsh mandatory sentences mean plea deals have become the norm in most places, with the accused confessing to crimes they may or may not have committed simply because they know that if they lose a trial they’ll be locked away for decades. Losing or winning a trial may well come down to how good of a defense you can afford — or how much the prosecution is willing to lie or manipulate evidence to get a conviction.

“Justice” may have nothing to do with it.

It’s not that justice never happens, that police never catch true “bad guys,” or that people whose actions are absolutely impossible to defend — serial rapists and psychopaths — aren’t better off behind bars or dead.

It’s just that in America’s increasingly byzantine and often arbitrary system of laws, hundreds of thousands of people who aren’t serial rapists or murderers — perpetrators of victimless crimes who aren’t any worse than the rest of us — often end up in jail with them. Supposedly, 86% of the people doing time in Federal prisons are there for victimless crimes.

It’s easy to say, “let’s get tough on criminals,” but as one author wrote, the average person commits “three felonies a day.” People aren’t necessarily going to jail for being “bad people,” so much that they are going to jail for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It’s like we’re on the old Spartan agoge system where you’re expected to steal, but beaten for getting caught.

All those times you were speeding but didn’t get a ticket, the time you drove after two drinks instead of one, that season of Game of Thrones you torrented, the income you didn’t report, the girl who agreed that you didn’t “rape” her after her hangover wore off, the fistfight no one prosecuted, that illegal drug you bought in college, that time you did something you were supposed to have a license to do even though you didn’t know it. Maybe you did something I didn’t list, but you know what you did. You’re guilty. You could have been prosecuted and possibly convicted as a felon, but you weren’t. Because you were lucky. Because you didn’t get caught.

You’re a “free range” criminal. For now.

Sure, none of those things are death penalty offenses. But the fact that everyone is breaking laws every single day while people are being selectively prosecuted and punished by “luck of the draw” because there are so many petty laws and no way to punish everyone undermines the credibility of the whole system. And, if you got snatched up by the kiddie claw crane of the police state and found yourself doing a 10-15 year stretch in a prison run by gangs, maybe you’d end up a murderer, too.

Encouraging formal state execution assumes that the American legal system is credible, just, and expresses the will of the American people. Americans are no longer a “people,” but a sprawling population of different people with different races, cultures, and values inhabiting an oversized economic territory. America’s legal system is, at least generally speaking, broken and corrupt from street cop to senator. Cheerleading for formal state executions under these circumstances is lunacy. The “sanctity of life” has nothing to do with it. The American government simply does not deserve that kind of trust. It has the physical authority to do what it wants because it has the largest, most well-armed and well-coordinated group of enforcers within its territory, but I’m certainly not going to give it my mandate, allegiance or moral blessing.

Speaking of cheerleading and madness, mulling over the idea of state execution got me thinking about proxy violence in general.

It’s a little perverse, isn’t it?

Again, not because violence itself is perverse. I can’t think of anything that seems more just or natural than, say, a father killing — even torturing — a man who molested or murdered his child. And, if he’s not physically able to do it, asking a good man with a talent for violence to act in his place seems reasonable. A coalition of men acting together to right some injustice and enforce tribal order — that sounds healthy and right.

But people demanding the blood of strangers? It’s vulgar, low, and weak. Civilized in the worst possible way, like picnicking at a beheading or showing up early to see someone disemboweled at the coliseum. Saying “we ought to be tough on crime” isn’t the same as doing the dirty work yourself. It doesn’t make you a tough guy. It’s like yelling at quarterbacks on TV, only in this case it’s yelling at miserable low-level government functionaries to push the button. It’s vicarious bloodlust.

“Get him! Kill him! Yeah, you show him!”

I agree with Kozinski that if people can’t stomach the bloody reality of what they are doing, then they shouldn’t be demanding it or supporting it.

If they televised executions, though, I wonder how many people would develop a taste for it. It’s happened before, and while they are often denied even the real-life violence of a schoolyard fistfight, Americans love vicarious violence in entertainment. It’s the only violence they’re allowed. As they progressively relinquish power over their own lives, this illusory power by proxy may seem even more attractive, and their handlers may see it as a cheap circus. Dystopian novels and movies come to mind. Death Race 2000. Running Man.

When it comes to tribally authorized execution, I prefer the Ned Stark way.

Not the people passing it off to some jury of “peers” — who somehow have nothing to do for weeks on end — recommending it to some fat, self-righteous gavel-banger who passes it off to some corrections officer.

No, “The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.”

It’s not exactly practical, but ways that seem right are rarely practical in the mess of modernity.

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Death to Urban Elves!

It’s time to call a spade a spade.

Or, in this case, it’s time to call an Elf an Elf.

Originally published at Jack-Donovan.com

Now is the time for plain speaking.

It’s time to call a spade a spade.

Or, in this case, it’s time to call an Elf an Elf.

Oh, we’ve danced around the issue and called them by many names.

In the 1960s, our people called them “hippies.”

People today sometimes call them hipsters, but hipster-ism is a pose affected by rude, youthful elves who mock us with Pabst Blue Ribbon and vintage cigarettes because they know that when you live for an average of 700 years, you don’t have to take anything very seriously.

“SWPL,” or “Stuff White People Like” was also a cute euphemism, but we all knew we weren’t talking about “stuff white people like” in general. Lots of white people like Coors Light and know how to fix cars and listen to mainstream country music unironically.

We weren’t talking about those white people, and everyone knew it.

We were talking about creatures with white skin who AREN’T REALLY PEOPLE.

I’ve mentioned them in passing, but it’s time to identify the enemy. We must NAME THE ELF.

Elves are often mistaken for humans, because they have similar features and white skin, but they tend to be slender and slightly more delicate than the race of men.

I live in Portland, and that’s where I first noticed the obvious differences between humans who live in the suburbs and in the country, and urban elves, who live downtown, shop at Whole Foods, pretend to read UTNE, and see themselves as “stewards of the Earth.” They’re always saying queer, condescending things to humans, like, “why don’t you just evolve?”

The show Portlandia is actually complicated tongue-in-cheek Elvish humor. It’s self-deprecating and neurotic but somehow also celebratory and awkwardly amusing, like Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Elves can breed with humans, but they are embarrassed of their attractions to brutish and short-lived humans so they prefer to murder the children before their Elders find out. This is why elves tend to be feminist and vote Democrat. Elves also tend to be outspoken feminists because the elvish race, which has much in common with the Dwarves (but we’re not going to get into the whole gold-mongering Dwarf thing here), is almost completely androgynous and elvish communities have been matriarchal since their Age of Vulvar began in 33 AD. Elves will often say that “gender is just a construct” because they like to tease “unevolved” humans, who they know full well have more fully differentiated sexes.

Hen-pecked Elvish males are secretly jealous of human men, though, so they work with the Dwarves to market birth control pills, human pornography, soy products, plastics and other products with dysgenic, emasculating effects. They don’t actually consume these products themselves, which is why they can often be spotted at “health food” stores. “Health food” and “organic” are both shortened versions of unpronounceable Elvish words that translate roughly to “not the poison slop we feed stupid humans.” Sadly, wealthy and high-born humans often collude with Elves to push these products on the lower human castes, to keep them weak, compliant and easy to control.

However, it was the courage of an Alabama congressman that inspired me to finally “come out of the closet” as an elf hater.

Congressman Mo Brooks came out and said what I’ve known for some time.

The thoroughly Elf and Dwarf-controlled Democratic Party has long been waging a “War on White People” by conducting a massive university-based re-education campaign to get white people to “reject their whiteness” which is code for rejecting their basic human nature, and act more like white Elves. Elves see white humans as a nuisance, and know that if white humans hate themselves and adopt Elvish breeding habits and matriarchal lifeways, they will die out in an Elvish decade or two because of their shorter life spans. Elvish Democrats have also moved to import non-white peoples, orcs and goblins into white human areas as part of their ethnic cleansing campaign. Their secret slogan, which sounds far more sinister in Elvish, is “no white people, no white people problems.” After the extinction of white people, the elves will quickly move to enslave the unsuspecting non-whites, orcs and goblins, and rule planet Earth in alliance with the clever gold-hoarding Dwarves.

Most white people laugh at ideas like a “War on White People,” because they have been glamoured by Elvish magic, so they cannot see the Elves’ pointy ears or creepy high cheekbones. Also, it seems like the people in prominent positions on both sides of this “war” are white. Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton, for instance, are not Elvish, but Elvish yes-people who have been promised immortality by Elves in exchange for their treachery. The joke will be on them, because the Elves lost the secret of passing immortality to humans in 1323 BC, during the Tutankhamen debacle, and this was well known to human scholars until the destruction of the Library of Alexandria in 642 by the Goblin Caliph Omar.

I do not mean for this to sound partisan, because the Republican Party in America, for the most part, simply wolf-whistles about the “War on White People” to create confusion and advance the interests of moneyed white humans, who hope to bargain with Elves after the majority of their white human rubes have been exterminated. They are sneaky backroom dealers and cannot be trusted.

That’s why I’m reaching out to you, common white human.

Let the scales fall from your eyes, my brothers and sisters.

The Elves are not your friends.

Stop taking their “diversity” and “women’s studies” misinformation classes. Stop supporting their puppet “parties.” There is only one political party. THE ELVISH PARTY.

Stop listening to their Elvish “Hollywood” folklore.

These are not your people.

They aren’t even people!

They’re elves, and it’s “us” or “them”

DEATH TO URBAN ELVES!

RUN TO THEIR DOWNTOWN BOUTIQUE STORES AND RIP THEIR ANCIENT HEARTS OUT OF THEIR SKINNY, SUNKEN CHESTS BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!

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