Montag, 3. August 2020

When did the gods became softies - what about the blood?

I was actually looking for a more provokative title but then I also did not want to insult anyone. So what do I mean?

Modern pagans are talking a lot about their personal relationship to the gods and rituals including sacrifieces. They create a nice altar, flowers, self backed bread and cakes, wine and for some of the very masculine gods even hard liquor. Sounds very nice and must look beautiful. And I mean it without any sarcasm or irony intended. But then, I always thought something is missing.

When we read about the ancient/historic heathens in pre-Christian times, we can also read about rather archaic rituals, slaughtering of animals, spreading of blood and even as the ultimate gift to the gods, the human sacrifice. Now, I am not advertising to go around and butchering the guy from next door who is creepy anyways (or is that you?). But as far as some modern pagans even claim to have linage to their ancient ancestors, why flowers and cookies would do these days? Of course we would find ourselfs having to explain to those in uniforms what the hell we were thinking when cutting the throat of that lamb in the garden, smearing the warm blood all over ourselfs and ours.

But seriously, unless we believe that the gods have changed in their nature, why would their needs, their preferences, their demands have changed? Odin is not just that obscure god of a bit of war and wisdom who brought  the runes. He was the one who was pleased by blood. If you take your paganism serious, you have to take the gods nature serious. This specifically counts for those who add magic to their beliefs and practice as the energies we call upon are very specific. We cannot just modernize the gods so they fit in with our yoga class and caffee lattes.

Thus we need to find ways to add that which has always been part of it. Some are hunters and then things may be easyer. But it is not everyone's thing to butcher even a chicken having looked into its eyes. But there are other ways. We may order meat for the specific purpose of a sacrifice, keep it bloody. Come up with something creative other than pie.

If the ritual or its purpose is really important I am even using what comes closest to human sacrifice, I am using my own blood. Of course I am not cutting of my legs or arms or take out organs but a ritual cut and a few drops of blood do more of a representation of a sacrifice than grapes and flowers. Unless you do a sacrifice towards your prefered female diety. But then, are you sure you really know her?

Sonntag, 2. August 2020

Runes and Germanic Traditions - Introduction

If you are interrested in Runes, I am sure you have already found tons of pages with explanations and interpretations, rituals and all that. So why to add sand to the desert? When learning something new, I like to understand the background of what I am studying. I like and need to know the "whys" and "whats/" and most pages or books do not satisfy this need.

A lot of what you find in books or online about Runes does not even contain any scientific background or somewhat solid description of what the Runes where, became and are - and, not to forget, what they are not. Most publications repeat what has been written by others and lack real and scientific based background information. This specifically refers to the esotheric use and those trying to link the Runes to (their) ideology. Both approaches usually lack any real understanding of the Runes, their background in history and linguistics and the underlaying Germanic traditions. Others only see runes in the context of Vikings which are and always have been popular and  are further popularized without seeing the Vikings and their use of the Runes in the wider context of the Germanic peoples and the develpoment of language script and overall tradition.

What I plan to do is providing some information about the Runes, Germanic Traditions and Mythology free from any ideology or specific agenda based on scientific research (not my own though). Additionally I will of course add my own understanding and interpretation of meanings, practices, rituals etc. Most of that will be based on solid foundations, some will be my very own interpretations and understanding. However the latter will be marked as such. I will not claim overall validity of what my understanding is.

I also should add that I am not a historia bny profession. I am also not a linguist or philologist and so unfortunately am not able to read the original sources in their original languages. For that I have to rely on those with proven qualifications.

Having said that, please let me give you some references for getting a general understanding about Runes, Germanic Traditions, hisrotic and linguistic context as this is the necessary basis for the studying of all that. Unfortunately a lot of the books I am refering to are in German only as this is my mother language and a lof of publications are related to German history or those writing about it. I will add some links to English books at a later point.

For Runes in general you will find tons of books. As I said before, a lot lack solid understanding of the historic and cultural background and understanding. I recomend to start with older books but leaving those out that have a proven agenda and ideology behind them (Like the publications by Guido von Liszt and others who followed, who link the Runes to the Germans in a very particular way...).
I recommend "About German Runes" (Über Deutsche Runen) by Wilhelm Carl Grimm, who is one of the famous Grimm brothers who often are only seen as the collectors of fairy tales but who have been the founders of German Philology foremost. Like all older books you have to see its content in its historic context (meaning the context and status of issue related knowledge of the time of its publication).

Also his brother Jacob Grimm has published a huge book about German Mythology. Both of these books contain a lot of knowledge and understanding of the Runes and their underlaying tradition and mythology.

Of course there is Tacitus and his "Germania". While Tacitus not specifically refers to the Runes as such, he refers to the diviniation practices of the Germanic tribes which made use of wooden sticks with carved symbols on them. It is not said that Tacitus in fact described the use of Runes for diviniation. However, it is not unlikely that what he described refers to the use of Runes in a diviniation context as Runes as such most liekly have already existed at that time.

I peronally like the "Handbuch der Runenkunde" by Helmut Arntz (not sure it had been translated). Although he had been a Professor in Germany in the 1930s and  the book has been initially printed in Germany during these times with it's last edition printed in 1944,  he had rejected the idea that the Runes should be used and/or be interpreated in an ideologic way. He explains the development of the various runic alphabets as we know them and also describes the runes in their historic and linguistic meaning and development. He also refers to potential magic meaning, use and understanding of the Runes.

There are several good books from scandinavian authors as well (will add some also at a later point) of course.

For those who prefer to watch videos, I recommend Jackson Crawford's you tube channel. He is a specialist on old norse language and has a bunch of awesome videos not only about old norse language but also about mythology, specifically the Eddas and Sagas of the Viking times but also on the Runes and their use. He also has published translations of some Sagas, the Havamal and the Poetic Edda. Jackson also adds a lot of references to his videos and in some he refers to english books about Runes. His additional webpage you find here.

Additionally, for Norse Mythology there is the channel of Mathias Nordvig. He also has a separate page with more information here

Apart from that for the mythology, read the Eddas in an uncommented version. Read other historic texts, such as Tacitus, Ceasar, Saxo Grammaticus (about the Dahish History), the Sagas...

Only after that I recommend to read some more modern books (if not those of modern scholars) about Runes and Germanic Mythology.

When it comes to most modern books which deal with Rune Magic, Germanic (or Viking) Magic etc, note that most are based on other systems of magical practice such as the Golden Dawn in its various manifestations, Thelema or Wicca when describing magic practice and rituals. Of course we know little about magical practice and rituals as well as their specifics as lived and perforled by the Germanic tribes and what we know is little detailled. But the books you find mostly link modern esoteric thinking, interpretations etc to what they call Germanic Magic, while there is not explanation nor any basis for such interpretations. One example is the attributions of color, gem stones, planets, star signs and much more to runes. This has no basis at all in the historic development of the Runes as we know it. Also there are no sources that would indicate such attributions having been used by the ancient Germanic priests, seers or other people who knew and used Runes. Of course it is ok that modern people create magical systems and interpretations in their own way including Runes. However no one should claim that this has any basis in the historic use or interpretation of the Runes.

With this I will end this post. It is my idea to have a more Rune related introduction followed by posts that are related to the single Runes. I will focus on the elder FUTHARK as I am not focussed on the Viking Traditions as such. However a lot of what we know of the Runes derives from the Viking and post Viking ages.

I also will post about Runes in magical use. Specifically here I will have to rely to my own understanding rather than claiming any historic basis or knowledge.

Stay safe
Arcad

Changes

Initially this blog was aiming to share my thoughts and experiences as a solitary practitoner of the Golden Dawn tradition. However, in the meantime the worlds have changed. That means the outer world, as we all experience it, my own personal "world" and finally also the GD world as we or better I knew it.

The first I do not need to decsribe to you as I do not need wo write about the obvious.  As for the second, I already wrote about that in my last post(s). My spiritual world views somewhat crashed and I am still dealing with the aftermath. However, I have chosen a different path that gives me more freedom and relates more to my general views and understanding of things. It also is more linked to me and the traditions I see myself ultimately belonging to. By ultimately I want to point out that as much as I do cannot claim for a direct link (since for some people linage is everthing, and if you do not have one, you create one irrespective of how obscure the link is) but there is a link by where I most likely come from and the land I am born on and feel related to. Now I need to point out that this statement is free from any blood and honor context at all. Due to lack of prof, it rather is a statement of feeling and choice. I may write more about this at a later point but this is not the place.

At last, also the world of the Golden Dawn has changed a lot. A lot of the blogs and with that the people I was following have gone. Some of these people meant a lot to me in the way of spiritual inspiration and in a way as being teachers, supporters, advisers and listerers of my confusions on the path within the jont GD Tradition we are/were devoted to. I am sure that this was somewhat announced but I missed it due to my long absence. Even Google was not helpful in finding them and although I also have not been on FB for years, I am sure they have been dissapeared from there as well.

However, we all know the world and everthign related to it is going in cycles. And so we just have reached another point in the ever ongoing live.

One of the good things though is that at least my material world has significantly changed as well which made a lot of things easyer. Who ever tells you that material things do not matter either is using that mantra in order not to freak out because they have no material security or have a lot of material security and with that lost contact to earth. We are all depending on material things as we have to feed ourselfs and our families as well as provide for shelter, education and you name what.

So there we are. A new beginning? Well, maybe not because I rather see it as changes that occured, taking another path or road from the ongoing never ending main street. But that road will always have intersections leading back linking the current path with the main one that is not a past one as it is always there continuing. Life does not end but goes on, so do our experiences. The present becomes past while the future becomes present but nothing is lost.

Having said all that, also this blog will change. It will more reflect my experiences outside of the GD though I never completely left that Tradition. This is where I started and the teachings are still valid. However my link to it has weakened for now and so I will shift the focus of this blog. I have thought about changing its name as well but at least at this point I refrain from doing so in case someone still receives messages when a new post is published, remembers this name and trys to find me and also finally because I could not come up with a good alternative name.

If you read this and if you have done so before I would be glad if you leave a short comment saying hi.

Now I am getting another cup of tea and will write my first magic related post since years.

Wishing you all well specifically in these crazy times.

In LVX
Arcad (A name that I may have to rethink too...)

Mittwoch, 10. August 2016

Looosing my Religion

It's been a while...

I recently experienced something which I believe to be a problem for a lot of people and never thought it could actually be a problem for me.

Religion. Well, I always have been Christian. Not one of those fundamentalist born again ones but rather a moderate, open and tolerant Lutheran. No one ever forced me into it, no one ever indoctrinated me. Before that I had been Christian with a tendency towards being agnostic but then I had some key experiences which made me think and read and at the end drew me deeper into the doctrine as such and into the mysteries. I truely believed to be protected and felt sheltered.

However, all that changed. After a longer time of serious struggeling, hoping, praying, then swearing and threatening, I lost all of it. Or maybe, I lost most of it. The thing is that I do not feel that all that was crap and that (the Abrahamic) God does not exist. I just believe now that he does not care.

Now, without going into detail as to why any what, I always felt drawn towards the ancient Germanic traditions. Without becomming really a heathen, I started to come to the conclusion that Charles the great does not deserve his name at all and that he was actually the butcher and grave digger of Saxonians and their religion (and the "Germanic religion" at all). It was forced upon us. So it would be logical to get "back" into it, right. Now here is the thing, I felt - and feel somehow guilt. I feel guilty for creating and performing rituals directed towards Wodan, Donar and the other ancient Germanic gods. And I ask myself, why? From where I come I do not believe in hell or that people are doomed to burn in hell because they do not believe. I never believed in God as the punisher or the envious god. But as I said I came to the conclusion that he simply does not care. So why for gods sake (...) do I feel guilty?

Well, religion is not a question of "pick one that suits" - at least not for  me. I always get nervous when people tell me they have chosen to become x.... . You believe or not but religion rarely is a matter of reason and deciding what sounds better. It is a process, usually a long one. Logic is barely part of it.

What I (also)  feel is a loss. Like a loss of a good (maybe imaginary) friend. A friend you still feel somehow obliged to, not wanting to let him/her down. I had talked to him, discussed and yelled at him. As said before, I felt sheltered. Wodan for example is not a personal god in the same sense. It is difficult imagining the same kind of contact. At the same time I feel that the gods of our ancestors are the ones which are rather helpful - at least for the time being.

Maybe it is a problem with monotheism. In former times it was no problem to integrate "foreign" gods into your own pantheon. A few more or less did not realy matter. The Romans incorporated (if you want to say so) other gods or made them expressions of or equivalent to their own gods.

I always though that god as such revealed themself to mankind in different ways fitting to cultural situations and specifics and understanding of the people at question and so at the end of the day is the same everywhere, may it be split in their different aspects as in politheism or seen as one (or three) like in monotheism/Christianity.

But that all is logic. It should make me feel relaxed and open, not guilty. But then, when I feel that all is the same, the consequence would be that the God I believe to not to care is the same than the Nordic Gods in their various aspects and so - they would not care too, or?

Do not get me wrong, I do not feel like I may be punished, just had a bad feeling for adressing Odin. At the same time I feel the nordic Gods being more powerul, or better saying, to be stronger.

So what is this about now? Logic tells me to not care and to go as I feel. But that is the point, Logic and feeling is not the same. I have no idea how to get out of this and where this will lead to in my case. But what I can say is, you surely will not be doomed and - logically - there is nothing to be afraid of or feeling bad about when you decide to leave the usual path you were walking on. There also is no reason to fall into extremes denouncing what you have been believing before. That is even more an expression of insecurity and possibly fear. The way must be to find peace within, balance. Maybe it is easyer to deal with single aspects of the one than with the one in all its aspects and complexity. Maybe these aspects can "deal" with me according to their nature - easyer with me, my anger, fear, desires, than the whole and one together who represents all aspects together?

No idea, maybe you have any?


Montag, 16. März 2015

Ritual and Gender



Recently there have been several discussions on the internet regarding the question of Gender in Ritual.

Before I am going into explaining my view, let me give you a disclaimer and some definitions.

I am by all means in favour of total equality of all genders. I do not see any superiority of one over another and am of the opinion that we all have to continue working on reaching the goal of total equality in all aspects of society and life.

When I am referring to male and female, I am referring to the common gender aspects in our human lifes. The terms masculine and feminine are used referring to the respective energies and forces and, in this context, do not relate to gender.

The question that has been discussed was, whether it is (still) ok to use gender specific language for Ritual indicating that specific parts of a ritual referring to the male and others to the female should be avoided. Why should not a priestess instead of a priest perform such parts of a ritual initially thought to be performed by a priest? Why should it not be possible that two priests or two priestesses perform the ritual instead of a pries and priestess?

What we see in these discussions is, in my opinion, a mixing up of different things which should be kept separate. From the way and language of argumentation we often see that people include their view of gender politics into the discussion. Those who support the, lets say traditional concept (keep the priest male and the priestess female), often are confronted with the label “sexist”. People explaining that the “sexist” language in rituals makes them sick. At the end there is the request for re-writing the rituals so that they meet gender neutral demands in language (and meaning). No one shall feel offended or left out, right?

Now is this all necessary? Is this all straight to the point or maybe rather missing it?

As I said before, we should separate the actual necessary discussion related to gender neutrality and equality from ritual – unless the reference to a specific gender is solely meant to be referring to power and dominance. However, I do not believe that most rituals intend this.

Throughout ritual we are attempting to balance forces and energies or to make use of a specific force or energy. Thus, the priest is not representing a male person being the priest but the masculine energy and force, solely for the very sake of the ritual’s purpose. Nothing more, nothing less. The priestess represents the female energies and forces, not a woman being the priestess. However, since by nature most of us are male or female by birth, it may indeed make sense to have a male person representing the priest because the priests purpose is it to represent the masculine, which is inherently stronger in a male priest than in a female. Now, I am not saying that it is impossible that a female person can take the role of the priest in ritual (thus representing the masculine) but calling her anything else but “The Priest” in this context would alter the ritual as this term is referring to the masculine aspect of the ritual.

But is it possible that gender and force to be represented in a ritual differ? If you want to work with Venus, you would not use the sigil and representations for Mars, declaring Mars in this context to be representing Venus, even if you follow the correct hour of day etc for Venus.

So does it indeed make any difference whether a masculine aspect within a ritual is represented by a female person? May it be sufficient if that person is wearing insignia representing the masculine, irrespective of gender? If you believe this is so, why?

We often see that people claim that rituals have to be followed by the word when it comes to detail but at the same time state it would not matter which gender represents a specific aspect of a ritual thought of representing masculine or feminine aspects of the ritual. Other than “it should be like that” and “we need to leave that sexist bullshit behind” and the like, I see no factual argument in these discussions. Now I am not saying that it is not possible that a female person represents the masculine in ritual. But I would like to see arguments for or against it which are other than the one used in mundane gender discussion. Why can we change the initial ritual (or better the understanding as it has been so far) here when we can not do the same with other aspects? Or are the rituals misunderstood and they do actually really only refer to masculine and feminine forces and energies irrespective of gender?

If a ritual calls upon feminine energies, would its intensity in result differ if being performed by a male representing the feminine instead of a female doing so when we (would) agree that within a woman, the inherited female energy is stronger than within a man?

Personally, I have no final opinion on this. However, at this point I tend to believe that a female person can represent the feminine in a stronger, more intense way and that the same counts for male/masculine. But as I said before, this should have nothing to do with any thought of superiority or domination but would be owed solely to the purpose of ritual and the forces represented. As I mentioned already, I am not really decided on this issue.

Finally, I would like to see that the arguments within this debate would center more around the questions raised above, focussed on the ritualistic meaning and purpose and if and how changing gender in relation to the force to be represented by the individual performing the specific aspect of the ritual would  - or would not -  cause a change of result or intensity within the ritual instead of using arguments from a different context related to gender politics.

Dienstag, 24. Februar 2015

Teh Golden Dawn, a religion with a specific Supreme Being?

There was a lot of discussion lately about whether the Golden Dawn is a religion or whether it should have a supreme being (indicating in fact a specific one).

Depending on which definition one uses for determining whether the GD is a religion or not, it may fit certain criteria which would indicate it is a religion. However, in my opinion it would still requite that the members of the GD (orders, lodges, groups, solitaries....) see it as a religion. I believe it is common understanding that it is not. Individual opinion may differ though. At the end, if you want to see it as a religion, well, go ahead, as long as you do not start trying to promulgate it or setting up rules for (us) others etc like we see in so many (other) religions. So do not tell me what I have to believe in when following or better working with the GD tradition.

Then there is the big discussion whether there should be a supreme being. Well that would first require the GD tradition to be a religion, otherwise there is no reason for a supreme being. The GD refers to "The Lord of the Universe". Many understand that as "our Lord, God", the Judeo, Christian (Islamic) God. Is that what is meant by it? Well possibly the Tradition`s founders had this in mind in this or that way. However, the reference is open to any possible individual identification one may come up with. If you understand GOD as the old dude (male) with the white long beard having that all seeing eye above his head, sitting on some cloud, well than that is your imagination but it may not be what the term intends. If you identify the "Lord of the Universe" with that old man, it is your interpretation. The set up is universal and open so no one needs to feel left out or pushed away because of interference of the GD rituals with their own belief system.

And there is the problem. In those posts I am refering to the suggestion was to have a specific ancient diety being recognized as the GD´s supreme being. Well that would in fact push away all those who believe differentely. And the question is, why would there be a need to identify a specific supreme being as the ONE?

Even if a specific god or goddess would fit the definition of the Lord of the Universe, the GD does not have that specification. If you want to change it, well go ahead, found your own order if you deem it necessary that your prefered diety rules your rituals and order. But do not demand from all of us others that we follow your lead.


Dienstag, 10. Juni 2014

Let Them Not Hijack our History

I have been contemplating a post about this for a while but somehow never got through with it. However, due to recent events and a blog post by Nick, I decided to do this little post now.

For quite a while I have been interrested in Germanic (heathen) culture and history. Main reason may be that I am German and a history nerd. As a magician, I am also interested in the mythology and magic of my ancestors. However, a lot of bollocks is to be read about both, history and magic when it comes to the ancient Germans. But that is not the main point of this post. Our history was hijacked by nazis and racists. Thus, whenever you show an interrest into the old Germanic culture, you are automatically linked to these nutheads. Nazis use the ancient Germans to found and justify their claims of a strong, "clean" (as in racial clean), dominant German culture which should still be leading Europe and I guess the world. Add some new age esoteric rubbish (note that the term "esoteric" is a swear word in German - or close to it, for good reasons) and you also get a link between Germanic tribes and Atlantis. I am not going into a debate about ideology or what some think about what ideology means and is. But I am pissed to the highest levels, that you can not discuss Germanic culture, religious practice or anything else related to the past without getting suspicious looks - if people are friendly with you.

I do envy people in England, Ireland, Scottland etc for their awareness of the ancient past and history. If someone there is interrested in celtic culture, no one would think that they are nazis or racist. A reason why it is different here is of course the abuse of the Germanic history by the Nazis throughout the time of the 3rd Reich. This history burned the past and puts anyone who shows an interrest into Germanic history (unless it is a pure accademic interrest) into context of what happened between '33 and '45. This made it easy for the Nazis and Neonazis to take over this part of German history (the Germanic one). It is a shame indeed. And often enough people who run pages about Germanic histiory or culture allow or use content which supports this public view (like, why to use Fraktur font in a Germanic context, or black-white-red coloring?).

The same we see in the Golden Dawn community. In Greece some idiots abuse the name Golden Dawn (well, the Greec version but it always gets translated into GD) for their political agenda and the community can do nothing but change the names of their orders or temples. Media would be happy to make a link between facists and occult "secret" orders and "weird" rituals.... Unfortunately some people within the GD community published posts making such links while at the same time claiming to protect the "GD" (most likely less the community and more the desired "dominance" of their order).

There is not much one can do unless the entire community would stand up making a stong statement that there is no link between those Nazi groups and the GD as an occult tradition. The least we can do is to ban those who make such links or propagate any such ideas at first sight!

Let them not hijack our history!!!