The modern world in our ancestors’ wake ponders a riddle we ourselves who seek our roots must also ponder. And that is the Germanic equanimity which outstrips death of so much power without ever having had need of a particular Scripture for to do it with. Where, o death, is thy sting? We have discussed many reasons, but death as a phenomenon was not separate from life. Life was itself a thing, not an abstract as now. Life is life – I believe that this might also be a Laibach song. Life being life is not to be infinitely subdivided like corroded atoms, as we like to do. Life is life. Life is not the life of Brian, it is not the life of pie, or the half-life of my crippling impatience with Clown World. Life is life.
To that end, life being a kind of unifying monad, an absolute simplicity (to borrow from medieval scholasticism) than it follows life cannot end, as life continuously seeks to regenerate itself. The passing of one organism into death still passes within the context of life itself. Life, as we say, goes on. Life goes on. The question as it always has been for he selfish, boils down to the self. Do YOU go on? We can dispense with the formalities of philosophical outlook and fail to ask what “you” are. Commentary about that can be found in spades elsewhere in this series and on this blog hosting it. Suffice to say, “you” are a part of LIFE, which is a self-sustaining, continuously regenerating phenomenon, or monad – whatever.
In the abstract, death is passing from the Folksoul, which itself is much closer to eternal than would be your soul, or your brother’s. Eternal here being understood as unchanged. In a world where nothing ends, it can only change shape. Te family might change shape, but it will resemble itself for many hundreds, even thousands of years longer than you yourself shall. I digress. Being cut off, cordoned and abandoned and as logic dictates, forgotten, is a fate worse than the pale and weak death we fear now. If death as a pretence of erasure chills our blood now, imagine the discontentment one of ours would feel considering a fate worse than death – eternal dishonour in which the consciousness itself is degraded until it becomes non-sentient, insipient and base. Imagine their raw dread of dishonour, shame and degeneration. Excommunication, better known as Outlawry to our forefathers, was the worst punishment one could marshal against the worst offenders. The lowest of scum were what were stung by this blade. Likewise, the most worthless of selfish nidings would be those who would cut off flesh from the soul without good cause. In our sections on Frith and Honour we discussed in part the hellish tortures that questions of Frith brought up. Mind; the soul of man was dependent on the Folk Soul of the Clan, which itself was a microcosm of the Oversoul of the Tribe, or the racial spirit more simply. To be severed from these was to lose your humanity, again, to become a niding. A living inversion of humanness.
Now it would be a mistake to peradventure that this Outlawry, driving an engine of forgetfulness, marked the annihilation of the soul. Gronbech makes quite clear that such an affront is a purely modern invention. In some ways we oh-so-wise modern men pine for nihilism because that takes us off the hook, it eases our mutilated and deracinated consciences and is just another permission slip. Nihilism is cowardice, unrefined and raw. A bleeding, oozing, festering wound. Always has been, always will be. Will the wonders ever cease?
“Death is not the worst of all evils,” a wise man once said. He said some other things too – much more inspiring than my substitute of “for Monday is not the worst of all ZOG’s evils.” Whatever. In some ways it was the least. Death. Ours was not a Fountain of Lethe, in which the souls of lesser man drank, and drank, until they themselves were dissolved into the waters of unlife and forgotten. We are not Greeklings, ours is not that fate. But well the Greeks must have understood: for all intents and purposes, to be forgotten is to seek unlife. To be unravelled, dissolved. One might think that would be a good spot to end this tale, life ends when it is forgotten. Logically, your grandfather five times removed: how real is he, if nobody remembers him? Is he in a way not gone, altogether?
This was the most a nihilist could hope for: that they should make such an affront against nature, or be brought so low by another’s evil will, that their bloodline would shrivel, and that one among them should live to be the last of their kin. Knowing that upon their death, their essence is no more than imprint on another man’s memory. Could it be this soul should end, it’s soul being returned to the aether? That in itself is no end. The role of memory is to keep something in shape. Simple. If you don’t remember yourself, you become something else. All the world being a stage, and all. In death, the forgotten man slowly becomes something else. A niding, no more to aspire amongst the Alfar – those ancestral dead.
There was a word for a man who would become a niding, whom death has touched even as his breath is drawn. That man is fey. This comes to us from the Anglo-Saxon fæge, or the Icelandic feigr. He was a doomed man. He was marked by a sudden turn of luck. His plans, even brilliant ones, are thwarted by fate. So cursed, life continues to chip away at the man until the source of his unluck is uncovered, or else he is driven to madness. That madness would consume him, in part of the self-fulfilling prophecy of the niding. Witches were they who could find the root of fey within a man, and with little more than their tongue, strike at his luck. She could find his weakness, and with her words, bring it to life. If not she, than the Norns who wove fate would bring out that force.
No more to stand with the Einherjar, those nobly slain. No more to seek the light and aspirations of man’s loftiest dreams, but rather the end of man’s darker shadow. And after time, that soul would shrink back upon itself, numbed by decadence until there was little left but the sparks that started the last life and cycle. That soul might begin again, spawn a new Clan – but it would not be his, it would be another. One perhaps resembling the old, maybe even replaying it – that is a mystery neither Gronbech nor I seek to disambiguate. For the energy of that soul would have had to go through nidinghood, and reduced to bestialism before slipping into a kind of reset. This is the closest to extinction one could come. To stand at the brink of that abyss, with it looking back at you. And those who know that fear understand its power, and the mere formalities of urban stress and decay that haunt so many I know cease to be wholly relevant. I have stood at that abyss, and felt lucklessness. I have also steered the prow of my bloodline toward new life, and regeneration. Our soul carries on in my son. Hopefully my luck will grow, by leaps and bounds, before I am dead, and fill the souls of his sons. And so forth. There are worse things to hope for, aren’t there?
So it goes.
Regeneration. This is an important concept. Not even the Clan that is withered and “destroyed” is gone. Neither does honour release her teeth from your soul when you die. Honour, as with all things, is a communal principle. When you die, the duty of honour’s upholstry falls to your kinfolk. It is their sacred duty to honour your name. We know this was once universal among Europids. The Romans and death masques, their Lararia. We know the Celts engaged ancestor worship. As for us? We knew that monstrosity in Midgard was a failure of honour.
The niding, I believe we discussed, is one whose honour is wounded. That wound is upon the soul, it festers. Cancer grows. It consumes the host. The living niding is reduced to cowardice and avarice. The dead niding becomes a monster. Trolls, demons, things of the night are the dishonoured dead. The soul of the man dishonoured seethes and rages in his barrow, mewling over the injustice of it, slowly decomposing until all that made the soul a soul of man degenerates into something craven. It becomes the soul of an animal, and not a particularly noble one.
This was the varg. The tainted wolf. This was the name Gronbech asserts was given to those who were outlawed. They became wolves of the wild, lone wolves. It isn’t hard to imagine why the association is there. What is a lone wolf? A thing without a pack. Wolves are pack animals. So are men. A wolf unpacked is a bad wolf, it defies the laws of nature. So it is with man. Here is no Adalvulf, Ethelwulf or Adolf. No, here is a prowling beast. And again, it didn’t happen all at once. Like with any man, one does not simply snap their fingers and become a monster or degenerate. There is a slow process of rationalisation and acceptance, and for our ancestors, a gradual numbing of the senses which facilitated the monstrosity.
It isn’t hard. If I asked you to put a percent to those entrenched in reactionary mind-sets, rather than pre-emptive, reflective or intuitive ones – what percent would you give? Mine is frighteningly high. This may be because I have been struck hard with cynicism in my ‘aldr.’ In my age. But, again, can one so struck be blamed? There is no quarter for the man apart, no freedom. He who seeks the light, in whatever way he seeks his freedom from the thraldom of our unthinking world, is shunned. Without the strength of place, being reduced to vargr, who could bear that burden indefinitely before feeling themselves slipping away? Into vice, into rot? And on some level, those so falling know they are – and what else can come but a numbness of being? I’ve seen the end of that too, the dead eyes of addicts, of compulsives. Your heart aches, but some are too far gone. Others slipping, you feel such a rage for being unable to pull them out of their own sin that you yourself can begin to wither and die inside. So it was for our fathers, who live in us – as we have written.
The barrow guardians, those monsters that heroes slay to earn renown, can be reckoned as degenerated ancestors. Or maybe those ancestors who, unburied, became landvaettir (spirits of the land.) These were they who could not seize their honour from the abyss within themselves, reduced to monstrosity by the all devouring eye within that abyss that became them. The grotesqueness of their forms equivalent to the amount of scorn and shame heaped upon their names. The dragon slain by Beowulf was likely the avenging spirit of the extinguished clan in the barrow Beowulf stalked. Having none to assuage the honour of their name, the soul of the clan itself became tainted. Here we can use the word Gronbech favours: unheore, an Anglo-Saxon word whose opposite is found in Heorot. Unheore which has modern German continuity, is a state of unwellness, unsanctity, unholiness. A tainted place is unheore, and it is so because the spirits of the land (landvaettir) have themselves become corrupt, their corruption tainting the very soul of the land.
Can we not see parallels in our walking nightmare world? Unheore indeed. We walk among degenerate aisles, and we see the swift sword of malcontents bear down upon the unwary. It is easy to hide from honour, in this world. Righteousness is spat upon. Conflict comes like breath, and like bad breath it leaves a lingering stench. The soul, being a basin, is sensitive. Gronbech speaks of the Germanic man as being capable of slavery to a word, caught in the grindstone between the wheel, as it were. If something so seemingly (betrayingly) mean as a word, could do a man in, then it takes no great pain to think of how ill the cause of living in this world can be to those with feeling souls. This world needs not a word to grind you down, the mere act of waking up and opening your eyes to the grinding, gnawing insipid melancholy of the system we have inadvertently sponsored is quite enough. But they do not stop there, at the grinding monotony, reminders, words, infinite words, are added to the disgusting stone soup we are given to keep the elites in their palaces and us in our prisons.
And here we are. In the grind.
Yet, I also mentioned regeneration. This could all be turned around. As life is a whole, than we might see that life as a means of expression within a concentric circle; life is the greatest spiritual force of all, following the Oversoul, the Folk Soul and then the Soul of Man. Life regenerates all, but each drink from the greater fountains. Thus, a living man could cease to be a niding, he could again grasp life. Life, being life, is a force of perpetual regeneration – or at least the urge toward it.
The Outlaw could find a new home. He could be born again, like a woman being born again as a wife, or a child as kin. In some ways I see the modern parallel being collectivising as dissidents. Obviously, this is best done in person. I wonder some days, what our ancestors would think of all this shenanigans with the internet. A bad vision, perhaps. Though obviously much good comes through the net, much bad comes as well. It is also unreal, and that power of the unheore can be seen in spades there where there is less power to constrain it than in the flesh. At any rate, dissidents can attest to the power of loneliness. They can attest that it eats the soul, and that the holes loneliness gnaw into your inner landscape – they must be filled. Why else would dissidents be so attracted to the unheore? To the drink, the drug, to crime and other vices? And so it goes with everyone, but for the dissident who knows the score; these sins seem as scarlet as blood on the snow. It is understandable. And we know that few are they who are going to become paragons of righteousness all on their own. The lone hero, it has been argued ad infinitum, is worthless without the clan to receive him. But there is a spiritual power in finding a home, in approximating the simulacrum of a clan. I have seen it, a dozen times before. More than that, I reckon. It is a very small light in the infinite void of Khaos, but isn’t that what Kosmos has always been? A miracle in the dark?
So it goes. Living nidinghood is bad enough, but to betray the souls of the dead is to invite monstrosity. And we, in our Nations, in our billions, have forgotten the ancestors. Mother Earth herself is turning against us, and the whole of the world is tainted meat. Whomst can you trust, in a world in which even brothers are thrown away like putrefying trash? It may well have been understood that this is the beginning of the Ragnarok. A closing in of the world upon itself as that which made the Eald one of Wer becomes one of Niding. Nideald, maybe. It seems dreadful enough that no word for it was enlisted and the world simply reset, as it likely has so many times before, in so many folksouls and so many lores. Note the parallels between Ginungagap and Ragnarok, in the same way the world came to be, it ends. Themes abound. The mistakes of the Gods become doom. And mankind, having abandoned frith, poisons the world. Mother Earth is drowned in the flood made by the destruction of Fimbul’s ice by Muspell’s flame. And what should Fimbul be but the likely manifestation of that old realm of Nifel into which Hel herself was thrown? We knew there were signs, and they sound a lot like ours. Father betrays son, brother wars against brother. Gross sexual sin abounds; theft becomes the norm. All that is good and clean and pure is turned to shit. How disappointing for the Folksoul that sustains us, and the kinfolk swimming in our veins, that rather than with cosmic fire, the Ragnarok is ushered in between the aisles of a goddamn Wal-Mart.
Of course, I shouldn’t be so grim. It isn’t all bad. It just seems that way if you have eyes in front of your face and a brain between your ears with thoughts that drive your mind. The ancestors who were venerated, they actively blessed the living. Pilgrimages to barrows might be made. A grandfather might give a grandson his sword, and in that way live again in him. We have tales of Ivar So-and-So going to the barrow of a male relation and “remembering who he is,” and this he did without the sage counsel of such archons of righteousness and raw power like Richard Spencer. After all: why did Odin try and thwart the Ragnarok? Maybe it was because he knew it could be done. And we might be so bold as to say he did: was the reset complete? We know that the Gods lived on in their children, and we know that Lif and Lifthrasir came out from Mimir’s Holt and that they did not have to be named again, nor carved as it were from trees. Unless, of course, it follows that Ask and Embla’s being carved from the trees was a kenning, and that the inside knowledge was that the Gods helped them out of the Forest, or Holt.
The luck of the living and the dead were interconnected, recalling as you might that the “individual soul” was recycled within the construct of a clan, most often and reasonably enough, along closed bloodlines. The soul of man was an extension of the soul of clan. Death was the means by which a body returned its ownership to the true owner. Or perhaps, the means by which the soul returns the body it borrows to Earth. Death did not excommunicate kinfolk from the community. The dead so long as they were remembered were held to be active members. They received offerings and visits as any living kin. Places might be held for them at the table. And later, when Christ came to town, it was understood that they who waited in purgatory would relay your messages to a god who otherwise might not be bothered by you, the living. They heard your prayers, as they were closer to you. In time, this became the Communion of the Saints. It was not a strange notion, with differing words the Celtic and Germanic tribes held this notion high – that the dead were not ‘dead and therefore gone.’
The internal consistency and logic is not hard to fathom. I would like to add, that in the rear-view mirror we can see a number of satisfying thematic continuities. Being fire and water, often symbolic of the dualistic parallels of conditions necessary for life. Life being a dialectic in materialism, true materialism, not the counterfeit model popularised by Freud-Gang and up. There were funerary rites incorporative of both fire and water, on their own and together. And likewise, there were ruinous sacrifices that followed this pattern. A great many votive offerings have been found in water bodies, giving rise to our unthinking custom of chucking pennies into fountains and asking the mysterious universe for “good luck.” As I draw toward the end of this paragraph, it dawns on me that by extension there is too the “lucky penny.” The very idea an object can be imbued with luck hearkens to the old ways, no matter how much we would like to think we’re beyond all that then, the past informs us. Life is life, after all – this means the past leads us directly to the future with the present as an illusory medium between. One whole, one life. I digress, as I do. We all know about sacrifice by fire. Older is likely sacrifice by earth, possibly a throwback to older forms of the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) religion which is thought to have been censored, displaced or otherwise absorbed by the conquering Aryans (or whatever you’d like to call the bringers of the Sky Gods to the Earth Goddess(es.) So informing sacrifice of earth may well be sacrifice to Earth. Can I prove that? Maybe, but not in this paper.
We can look at it in another way, to facilitate a pereniallist appreciation for how some other things played out. If you add that there were occasionally open air burials, then an element of wind is added. Bringing us to Earth, Fire, Water, Air which all tie into Aether. It’s another little thing we can imply the Wiccans (or at least the purveyors of the trends they championed) had right, before the poz set in. If we consider exposure as a sacrificial means to rebirth – remember, the exposed children were to be reborn in the family line untainted – than all four material elements are representative toward the maintenance of the eternal element, being Aether or Spirit. I would like to suggest that it is tenuous examples like these (and many more we haven’t got time to list) that the Folksoul and Racial Spirit preserve and transmit from an ancient pulse, titbits which bring us back through an Eternal Return, darkly, to our Traditions. Traditions which, like the eternal regeneration of the life-force allow us to refocus, seize the centre and try as we might to hold it. Life being beset by struggle, surrounded as it were on all sides by Utgard and hostile thurses and blights – much like Yggdrasil which, despite its eternality, is nevertheless assailed by harts and bugs and all manner of ill-boding thing. So it goes with us, forever becoming ourselves, a constant stream of life seeking meaning, strength and prosperity.
So there we are, perhaps this is enough to think about. Enough about unlife, death, life and new life. Hopefully we have given you something of a refreshing insight into things, and in this dollop of soulfood something to chew on which leaves a kind aftertaste in your mouth.
Death to Boredom: more soulfood!