Modern Man Believes in Nothing: Modernity in Contemporary Satanism and the Order of Nine Angles

Posted: May 4th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Church of Satan, Culture, Fenrir, Inner ONA, Michael Aquino, Nihilism, O9A, Occultism, Order of Nine Angles, Temple of Set, The Sinister Tradition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Modern Man Believes in Nothing: Modernity in Contemporary Satanism and the Order of Nine Angles

Cole_Dream_med

– Thomas Cole, The Architect’s Dream, 1840[1]

Reposted from Lux Lycaonis:

https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/05/04/modern-man-believes-in-nothing/

Modern Man Believes in Nothing:

Modernity in Contemporary Satanism and the Order of Nine Angles[2]

by Nameless Therein

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of studying with a former and well-respected Harvard professor, a man who later became a mentor to me and shaped my spiritual and intellectual worldview. Armed with Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, Richard Tarnas’ The Passion of the Western Mind, and some of the most important texts in the Western tradition, we critically examined the relationship between faith and reason in Western thought over the last two thousand years of intellectual and religious history. In clarifying the context of our modern perspective through the clash between faith and reason, we came to a deeper understanding of how that relationship shaped our entire worldview. Contrary to my own view at the time, I learned that faith was not a belief in something without good reasons, nor was it a euphemism for “religion” or the opposite of reason. Rather, as Wilfred Cantwell Smith notes, faith is not belief but the essential human quality, one “constitutive of man as human,” where “that personality is constituted by our universal ability, or invitation, to live in terms of a transcendent dimension, and in response to it.”[3] Van Austin Harvey elaborates on this distinction as follows:

In the history of Christian thought, two general tendencies concerning the concept of [faith] may be observed: (1) [faith] is regarded more nearly as belief or as mental assent (assensus) to some truth, whether about the nature of God (supernatural truth) or about the past (historical truth). (2) [Faith] is understood to be the basic orientation of the total person that may include belief but is best described as trust (fiducia), confidence, or loyalty.[4]

Faith in this sense is not a fideistic blind belief, but a dynamic mode of knowledge as a descriptive relation of being. It is what bridges the gap between the known and unknown, the rational and the empirical, the idealistic and the materialistic. In one sense, it involves a form of mental assent; but it also involves the total orientation of a person toward the transcendent.

Contrary to the modern tendency to reduce faith to a religious worldview, modernity itself embodies a powerful kind of faith in its belief in nothing. Our post-Enlightenment faith in reason as a talisman for “real” knowledge, in the relativity of meaning, in empirical science as a dogmatic means to objective truth, and in the conviction that religion is an anachronistic and outdated mode of thinking all point to our uncritical confidence in a myth that has now become modern canon. David B. Hart describes this in the following way:

As modern men and women – to the degree that we are modern – we believe in nothing. This is not to say, I hasted to add, that we do not believe in anything; I mean, rather, that we hold an unshakable, if often unconscious, faith in the nothing, or in nothingness as such. It is this in which we place our trust, upon which we venture our souls, and onto which we project the values by which we measure the meaningfulness of our lives. Or, to phrase the matter more simply and starkly, our religion is one of very comfortable nihilism.[5]

As modern individuals, many of us are unaware what this “nihilism” actually entails, given our lack of understanding regarding the historical, cultural, and intellectual roots that comprise our modern perspective. This lack of awareness is reflected in the superficiality of nearly every so-called contemporary “Satanic” or left-hand path tradition, and is additionally operative in the Order of Nine Angles. David Hart elaborates on what this entails in a powerful way:

We live in an age whose chief moral value has been determined, by overwhelming consensus, to be the absolute liberty of personal volition, the power of each of us to choose what he or she believes, wants, needs, or must possess; our culturally most persuasive models of human freedom are unambiguously voluntarist and, in a rather debased and degraded way Promethean; the will, we believe, is sovereign because unpromised, free because spontaneous, and this is the highest good. And a society that believes this must, at least implicitly, embrace and subtly advocate a particular moral metaphysics: the unreality of any ‘value’ higher than choice, or of any transcendent Good ordering desire towards a higher end. Desire is free to propose, seize, accept or reject, want or not want – but not to obey. Society must thus be secured against the intrusions of the Good, or of God, so that its citizens may determine their own lives by the choices they make from a universe of morally indifferent but variably desirable ends, unencumbered by any prior grammar of obligation or value … Hence the liberties that permit one to purchase lavender bed clothes, to gaze fervently at pornography, to become a Unitarian, to market popular celebrations of brutal violence, or to destroy one’s unborn child are all equally intrinsically “good” because all are expressions of an inalienable freedom of choice. But, of course, if the will determines itself only in and through such choices, free from any prevenient natural order, then it too is in itself nothing. And so, at the end of modernity, each of us who is true to the times stands facing not God, or the gods, or the Good beyond beings, but an abyss, over which presides the empty, inviolable authority of the individual will, whose impulses and decisions are their own moral index.[6]

In its emphasis on its own moral index, its advocacy of precisely this kind of “inviolable authority of the individual will,”[7] its emphasis on extremism as a substitution for meaninglessness or “nothingness,” its dogmatic weariness of all things “abstract” at the expense of long-term practical strategy, and in the erroneous substitution of brutal violence for its muliebral virtues of compassion and empathy due to an avalanche of misinterpretation on the part of its associates, the Order of Nine Angles has not just become mundane; it has become distinctively modern.

This is nothing new. In fact, this lack of awareness regarding the roots and pitfalls of our modern perspective is operative in nearly every contemporary “Satanic” and left-hand path tradition, rendering the majority of them inoperative. We saw this years ago in the Church of Satan, as the death throes of LaVey’s naturalistic animism substituted the mystery of Satan for hedonistic atheism in the form of a voluntarist symbol. We saw this again in the Temple of Set, who, in positing Set as an “isolate intelligence,” failed at the outset to understand or account for the significance of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenological dissolving of the traditional distinction between subject and object, both as a response to the long-standing problem of the self-contained Cartesian subject and as an important part of his theory of intersubjectivity and temporality.[8] (Far from a trivial theoretical issue, this point calls into question the entire epistemological framework of the Temple of Set.) And we see this currently in contemporary groups like the Dragon Rouge, who, despite their motivations to establish a trail along the narrative of truth, nevertheless fall victim to a hidden reductionism in their attempt to reconcile their magickal system with a modern perspective.

That so many groups, traditions, and initiatory orders get this wrong at even the most basic level points to the urgency with which we need to correct this tendency within the Order of Nine Angles. In the last decade, we have seen a shift from that tendency toward one of misunderstanding, misinterpretation, bigotry, infighting, extremism, racism, prejudice, and violence. Less and less, we see a grappling with the ideas that have shaped the modern world, let alone a critical examination of the ideas that now threaten the extermination of the ONA as a tradition that barely managed to live out the twentieth century. Nothing new or worthwhile can be offered by a tradition that is not aware of its own perspective, nor can it rightly be called a “tradition.” The Order of Nine Angles is sadly no exception.

Despite these bleak prospects, there is hope. But before we can correct the mistakes of the past, it will be necessary to first critically examine the perspective that comprises the modern world. Only then will it be possible to collectively renegotiate the direction and context of the ONA as a tradition located squarely within modernity, despite its ancient influences and claims to the contrary.

With this, I return to my discussion of the aforesaid seminar with my former Harvard professor. The lens of interpretation we used to examine modernity’s place in the context of the Western tradition involved many important texts and thinkers. The one that left the deepest impression on me, however, was Richard Tarnas’ seminal work, The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View. This text eloquently surveys the ideas that shaped the Western tradition, beginning with the ancient Greeks and moving through post-modernity. On the cover of the 1991 Ballantine Books edition, Joseph Campbell describes the text as, “The most lucid and concise presentation I have read, of the grand lines of what every student should know about the history of Western thought. The writing is elegant and carries the reader with the momentum of a novel … It is really a noble performance.”[9]

Whether in The Passion of the Western Mind, his later work Cosmos and Psyche, or in his November 2007 lecture on The Art of Writing at the Pacifica Graduate Institute,[10] Tarnas has had a powerful influence on my own thinking and writing. Like my former professor, Tarnas was a Harvard graduate in addition to being the previous director of programs at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. His understanding of the Western intellectual tradition is comprehensive, deep, and unrivaled in most academic circles.

Though Tarnas has nothing to do with the Order of Nine Angles (and in fact would be appalled at being mentioned in the context of the ONA), his work provides a foundation for coming to terms with modernity as a necessary lens through which to view the ONA. With that in mind, the following lectures provide an introductory overview to some of the ideas covered in his texts.

1. “The Evolution of Consciousness from the Primal to the Postmodern”

This brief lecture provides a concise overview of Tarnas’ distinction between what he terms the primal worldview and the modern worldview in Cosmos and Psyche.[11] An article that I have been recently developing concerns the way the Order of Nine Angles attempts to restore the primal worldview against modernity; though whether it can and will be successful in this largely depends on whether it can come to terms with its place within the modern perspective.

2. “A Brief History of Western Thought, part 4 of 5”

This lecture addresses the post-modern, picking up where the previous lecture leaves off. Both lectures segue into the important post-secular examination of disenchantment, which connects to my above discussion about the role of faith and reason in modernity.

On a personal level, I will say that a post-secular lens of faith illuminated more depth and meaning with respect to what Satanism really is than did my two decades of committed Satanic practice through contemporary left-hand path groups claiming that title. In my experience, the ONA touches on that deeper post-secular sense of the Satanic in its broader and beautiful spectrum of the sinister and sinister-numinous. However, much work needs to be done before the ONA will be equipped to address this. Part of that work will involve an understanding of the post-secular context of disenchantment, which is what the next lecture addresses.

3. “Disenchantment, Misenchantment, and Re-Enchantment”

Tarnas’ overview of the post-secular topic of disenchantment in the introduction of this lecture is an excellent introduction to the topic. This examination helps deepen the context of modernity in terms of the relation between the primal and modern worldviews – a relation that the ONA attempts to address.

4. “The Great Initiation”

This final lecture provides an additional overview of some of the aforesaid modern phenomena within an initiatory context. In addition to other relevant points, Tarnas’ account of the relation between the masculine and the feminine in terms of the astrological context of the sun and moon can deepen the ONA’s explication of the masculous and the muliebral at the core of its philosophy.

In closing, two points are worth emphasizing with respect to the final lecture listed above on “The Great Initiation.” The first concerns the way in which Tarnas’ characterization of modernity equally applies to the current climate of the Order of Nine Angles; and this is no coincidence, given what I have said above. Here, Tarnas quotes Woody Allen, whose comments highlight a tension that the ONA has been facing for over a decade (and now more than ever). Tarnas says the following:

The New York Jewish philosopher Woody Allen put his finger on this with his customary Schopenhauer-like clarity … in a speech he gave to the graduates some time ago: “More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other [path], to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly. I speak, by the way, not with any sense of futility, but with a panicky conviction of the absolute meaninglessness of existence which could easily be misinterpreted as pessimism. It is not. It is merely a healthy concern for the predicament of modern man.”[12]

The second point worth emphasizing is a quote Tarnas cites from Jung’s The Undiscovered Self. In addition to characterizing modernity, the following comments by Jung find a powerful voice in the current struggle of the ONA. As a meditation on what I have written in this article, I will end with this quote:

[A] mood of universal destruction and renewal … has set its mark on our age. This mood makes itself felt everywhere, politically, socially, and philosophically. We are living in what the Greeks called the καιρός – the right moment – for a “metamorphosis of the gods,” of the fundamental principles and symbols. This peculiarity of our time, which is certainly not of our conscious choosing, is the expression of the unconscious man within us who is changing. Coming generations will have to take account of this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science.[13]

Nameless Therein
Scothorn Nexion
May 4, 2022

NOTES

[1] For more information on the significance of this painting and why Richard Tarnas chose it for the cover of The Passion of the Western Mind, see 4:21 of the following lecture: https://youtu.be/2B3zm8R0dEo?t=261

[2] The phrase “modern man believes in nothing” was inspired by David B. Hart, “On Being Modern,” First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life (October 2003).

[3] Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Faith and Belief: The Difference between Them (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 1998), 129.

[4] Van Austin Harvey, “Faith,” in A Handbook of Theological Terms (New York: Macmillan, 1964).

[5] Hart, “On Being Modern,” 47.

[6] Ibid.

[7] In fact, the over-emphasis on the authority of individual judgment without any critical examination of the historical and intellectual context of modernity has given rise to a democratizing of individual opinion, thereby mistaking it for knowledge. In some respects, the need to critically examine the ideas that have shaped our modern perspective are condemned as an “abstraction” rather than being recognized as an attempt to reconcile our daily mode of operation at the most practical level. This has done great harm in the ONA as the need for this critical examination has shifted to ruthless and vacant extremism in light of the substitution of opinion for knowledge, resting on a gross misunderstanding of what the ONA actually is.

[8] Interestingly, I recall Michael Aquino himself acknowledging his lack of understanding regarding Husserl’s philosophy on a 600 Club forum post many years ago. I have not since been able to locate that post since the site closed down, but it appeared to be authored by him. Nevertheless, I sensed this fatal flaw at a young age, given that much of the Temple of Set’s philosophy rests on a metaphysical distinction between subject and object – a distinction phenomenology largely did away with in the early twentieth century. In some respects, the ONA’s distinction between “acausal” and “causal” risks a similar danger; and though I will not elaborate further here, it is a topic that I may investigate in the future. Regardless, it is something to be aware of, particularly in the dogmatic and often uncritical repetition of such terms on the part of the ONA’s associates.

[9] Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that Have Shaped Our World View (New York: Ballantine Books, 1991).

[10] This all-day workshop was recorded and previously available on DVD by Depth Video. See Richard Tarans, “The Art of Writing: An All-Day Workshop Presented Nov. 17, 2007 at the Pacifica Graduate Institute” (Santa Barbara, CA: Depth Video, 2007). The description on the rear of the DVD summarizes the workshop as follows:

This landmark workshop, the fruit of 30 years of writing and teaching, was given before a sold-out audience at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in November 2007. In these lectures, Richard Tarnas provides an in-depth look at writing not just as an intellectual or artistic discipline, but as a spiritual path. Because we live in a time of extraordinary urgency, when we must contemplate the future of the Earth community, it is essential that those with relevant information speak and be heard, received, and understood. Writing in the service of such a goal involves the development of certain skills, disciplines, and knowledge, as well as other less tangible but perhaps even more important capacities. These lectures illuminate the writer’s path with both practical tips and a larger vision of the writer’s noble calling.

[11] See, for example, Richard Tarnas, “Forging the Self, Disenchanting the World,” in Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View (New York: Viking, 2006).

[12] Tarnas appears to be referencing Woody Allen, “My Speech to the Graduates,” New York Times, August 10, 1979, https://www.nytimes.com/1979/08/10/archives/my-speech-to-the-graduates.html

[13] Carl Jung, The Undiscovered Self, trans. R.F.C. Hull, rev. ed. (1990; repr., Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), 60.


An Update on Lux Lycaonis and the Fenrir Team

Posted: April 28th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Fenrir, Inner ONA, News, O9A, Occultism, Order of Nine Angles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on An Update on Lux Lycaonis and the Fenrir Team

Loki

– An image of Loki from the eighteenth century Icelandic manuscript, “SÁM 66”

Good evening everyone,

I wanted to write a brief update regarding the Lux Lycaonis site. Slowly but surely, we have been expanding the Fenrir team, ever on the lookout for those who, through their deeds, ethos, works, and talents, have proven themselves capable of making meaningful contributions to the establishment of a viable future for the Order of Nine Angles.

We recently acquired a new addition to our team, which is now well-equipped to address the philosophical, literary, magickal, historical, mythological, musical, and artistic domains required for that future – all with an eye toward approaching the ONA in a new way, paying homage to its origins but expanding its theory and practice into new spheres of influence.

With that in mind, I want to note that while many of my articles will be relayed to the o9a.org site, much of the content by the rest of our team will remain exclusive to Lux Lycaonis. There have been some updates in the last few days, including new content. And we anticipate an influx of new work on the way.

Much of this anticipated work will address important and overlooked esoteric topics within the ONA. For example, one of our team members is currently completing an article on Uranianism and Sapphic sorcery with respect to certain non-negotiable esoteric sexual techniques. One such technique is Locis Muliebris, which is required for particular rites of the Septenary system. In exploring these and other features of Uranianism and Sapphistry, this author will additionally expound upon the qualities of Sapanur as the patron Dark God associated with homosexual men, who is identified in “The Black Mass: Gay Version.”

Which is all to say that there are many interesting things on the way. In addressing these and other topics – topics which have remained at the core of the ONA since the time of its inception but are almost completely overlooked or ignored – we hope to challenge many of the prejudices falsely levied against the tradition by opponents and associates alike. With respect to associates and the future of the ONA, the Fenrir team agrees that we need to call home those who left disgruntled, augment those who are still here but lying low, and call new individuals to the fold who can make the aforesaid contributions. To do this, we aim to emphasize the tradition’s strengths rather than its weaknesses as a taste of things to come.

 

 

Nameless Therein
Scothorn Nexion
April 28, 2022


Update on Fenrir & David Myatt

Posted: April 4th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: David Myatt, Fenrir, Inner ONA, News, Order of Nine Angles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Update on Fenrir & David Myatt

Fen logo

Good evening everyone,

I’ve made a few minor updates to the Lux Lycaonis site. Included among these is an announcement with some news about the status of the upcoming edition of Fenrir. Please see the following link, which also includes some exciting news regarding David Myatt. Stay tuned!

Update on Fenrir & David Myatt


“Where’s Your Will to Be Wyrd?”: An Examination of Wyrd in the Anglo-Saxon Religious Imagination

Posted: March 29th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Alchemy, Culture, Etymology, Fenrir, Inner ONA, O9A, Occultism, Order of Nine Angles, paganism, Rounwytha, The Sinister Tradition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Where’s Your Will to Be Wyrd?”: An Examination of Wyrd in the Anglo-Saxon Religious Imagination

Venerable Bede

– Harry Clarke, St. Bede the Venerable, 1931
St. Cuthbert’s Church, Durham

Reposted from Lux Lycaonis:

https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/03/29/will-wyrd/

What follows is another article for the upcoming edition of Fenrir. This article covers the subject of wyrd in relation to the medieval Christian influence on the Anglo-Saxon pagan Weltanschauung. In examining the role of wyrd in extant Anglo-Saxon verse, I demonstrate how the role of wyrd as Other illuminates the meaning of the phrase, “elþeodigra eard gesecan” – “to seek the land of foreigners” – in relation to the Hermetic quest (ἄνοδος) of the Order of Nine Angles. In so doing, I then examine how the relations between man, wyrd, and God and three types of human responses to wyrd in medieval Anglo-Saxon verse shed light on the deeper esoteric role of wyrd within (and beyond) the ONA through what in Beowulf is called “forethought of mind,” and what in devotional Anglo-Saxon verse is referred to as “thinking well” or “thinking wisely” – all with an eye toward addressing “the inability of the individual to comprehend the operation of wyrd in man’s daily life and the human endeavor to live meaningfully in the face of that incomprehensibility.”

“Where’s Your Will to Be Wyrd?”

An Examination of Wyrd in the Anglo-Saxon Religious Imagination

by Nameless Therein

monað modes lust mæla gehwylce
ferð to feran, þæt ic feor heonan
elþeodigra eard gesece.

The mind’s urging admonishes the spirit at every moment to set forth, that I might seek far from here the land of foreigners.

– “The Seafarer,” translated by Andrew Galloway

The above poem fragment is taken from the tenth-century manuscript known as the Exeter Book, which “constitutes the largest extant collection of Old English verse.”[1] Some scholars have suggested that the phrase “elþeodigra eard gesecan” – “to seek the land of foreigners” – is a “common expression for a journey into religious exile.”[2] In the poem, “The Seafarer,” the phrase is meant to indicate an “oblique and elusive resolution” as “the speaker passes beyond the world of heroic obligations … to another sphere.”[3] This “passing to another sphere” alludes to a complex historical relationship between the concept of wyrd or “fate” in Anglo-Saxon literature and that of choice, indicated by the verb (ge)ceosan, “to choose,” which appears in the tenth and eleventh centuries.[4] While this relation can be observed historically with respect to the notion of Christian predestination,[5] the relation speaks more broadly to “early English poetry’s deterministic vision of history.”[6]

That deterministic vision of history takes on additional significance when considering how the phrase “elþeodigra eard gesecan” finds application in the modern world, specifically in terms of wyrd. In the complex relation between fate and choice, and much like its central place in the “surviving paganism … [of] Anglo-Saxon literature,”[7] wyrd plays a central role in the Order of Nine Angles. Here, “elþeodigra eard gesecan” can be interpreted as the way wyrd directs each individual across the Septenary spheres of the Tree of Wyrd, thereby “passing to another sphere” or “from sphere to sphere” over the course of their Hermetic quest (ἄνοδος).[8] While many associates have a cursory understanding of what the term “wyrd” means in this context – as an unclarified sense of “fate” or “destiny,” for example – few have a grasp of its etymological origins and fewer still get beyond the apparent duality it alludes to within the practice of the ONA. This duality concerns two horns of a dilemma upon which each initiate necessarily finds themselves impaled – a dilemma involving the emphasis on solitary, individual experience on the one hand, and the confrontation with something other than the self on the other. The dilemma concerns the way one can become ensnared in various “traps” or “deceptions” as the duality “turns in” on itself through the dissolving of the ego, either through the temptation to over-emphasize individual experience, where one can lose their way in mistaking a personal map for impersonal territory;[9] or in deceiving oneself into believing that dissolving has occurred before it has begun.[10] All in all, one must remember that the ONA’s emphasis on solitary practice and pathei-mathos with respect to individual experience is intimately conjoined with empathy as a means to empathic living.[11] More specifically, solitary practice and individual experience are a means to the radical confrontation with something other than the self, which empathy makes possible; and this confrontation recasts each initiate in a shadow of destiny that exceeds the boundaries of the individual.

Wyrd is important in this respect because it involves this “something other than the self.” At one level, said confrontation can take the form of a relation to the other person; but at a broader level, it can reveal itself in the form of fate or nature (physis or φύσις). Though other phenomena can assume this role, the acknowledgement of something other than the self plays an important role in the dissolving of the ego. While more attention can be dedicated to this relation, this article will focus its attention on the cultural, historical, and etymological origins of wyrd in relation to this “something other than the self,” both in terms of wyrd as Other and in terms of the relation between man, wyrd, and God in Anglo-Saxon literature. The purpose here is not to conduct a systematic analysis of these subjects, but to highlight certain recurrent dynamics that can occur in the transformative experiences of ONA praxes like the Seven-Fold Way.

WYRD AS OTHER IN THE MEDIEVAL CHRISTIAN AND ANGLO-SAXON WORLDVIEW

The term “wyrd” has complex origins culturally, historically, etymologically, and in terms of its usage in the early literature of the Order of Nine Angles.[12] We find references to it in the Old English poetry of the tenth-century manuscript known as the Exeter Book, in the epic Anglo-Saxon[13] poem Beowulf,[14] and in King Alfred’s Old English translation of the Roman philosopher Boethius’ influential work, The Consolation of Philosophy, which marked one of the last great crossroads between the Classical and Medieval worlds.[15] Though translating “wyrd” was once a “polarizing enigma for scholars of Old English literature and of the history of religions,”[16] philologists of the nineteenth century translated it as “fate” and held that “the presence of the word in the … [Old English] corpus … [represented] one of the few preservations of England’s Teutonic pre-Christian cosmology.”[17] Jacob Grimm, for example, notes the “philological link between wyrd and the Norse norn Urðr, one of the three entities responsible for weaving the fates of humankind.”[18] Wyrd is thus described as a “fixed fate that shaped the pagan world of the Anglo-Saxons,”[19] which, in “pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon mythology” denoted “a force in the universe which controlled the destinies of all things.”[20] In this, its role is similar “to that of fate in Old Norse literature, where it compels even the gods to act in accord with its dictates.”[21] In Beowulf, “Wyrd is the force that eventually destroys the lives of the violators of unknowable universal order,”[22] which F. Anne Payne describes in the following way:

[Wyrd] is the agent in the most terrible experience of the day of death. It is the opponent of man in the strange area of the most intense perception and consciousness. Though it may hold off for a while, the individual in the end makes an error in choice and releases forces whose consequences at the moment of crisis he controls no longer and Wyrd is victorious. Wyrd affects only those with the strength and energy to enter that space where order is at first contingent on their choices. When they fail as they inevitably do because they are human, Wyrd’s dreadful power compensates for their inadequacies. While it is completely accurate to say in epic and tragedy in general that the hero seeks his fate, it is totally erroneous to say he seeks his Wyrd. Wyrd is alien to the individual; it is the force which balances his errors, punishes him, at best tolerates him. Wyrd is always the Other.[23]

In this sense, wyrd thus functions as the form of alterity alluded to at the beginning of this article: a fundamental Other or otherness that we encounter through empathy in the radical confrontation with something other than the self. While alternate forms of alterity can take on this relation, each with their own dynamic in relation to the self (nature or physis being one example), such relations are sometimes sensed more prominently with the dissolving of the ego. Thus, to revisit the phrase from “The Seafarer” introduced above: “elþeodigra eard gesecan” does not just refer to seeking “the land of foreigners” as an expression for a journey into religious exile. In “passing to another sphere” or “from sphere to sphere,” wyrd also refers to exile from the self in confronting something other than the self. In this respect, wyrd as enigmatic, impersonal, and incomprehensible is reflected in the poetry of the Exeter Book, which thematically addresses “the inability of the individual to comprehend the operation of wyrd in man’s daily life and the human endeavor to live meaningfully in the face of that incomprehensibility.”[24] In this, “elþeodigra eard gesecan” indeed indicates a passing “beyond the world of heroic obligations … to another sphere”[25] as each initiate continually immolates and re-constitutes their sense of self in the face of wyrd’s incomprehensible influence across the Tree of Wyrd.

MAN, WYRD, AND GOD

In this context, wyrd does not just refer to fate but “inexorable fate,”[26] one in which “the hopeless pagan vision of a crumbling world” – whose “bitterly cold, inconsolable pagan worldview” makes poems like “The Wanderer” in the Exeter Book so compelling – eventually converges with Christian consolation.[27] In fact, though the Christian influence in Anglo-Saxon works is explicit, there is disagreement regarding its role and origin. While early scholars considered the term “wyrd” in such literature “a rare preservation of pre-Christian belief in the extant corpus,”[28] a more recent scholarly consensus acknowledges the Christian context of extant Old English literature,[29] possibly tracing the derivation of wyrd to the verb weorðan (to become).[30] This Christian context introduces alternate ways of interpreting the term “wyrd.” Though there are various occasions in Old English literature “where wyrd is personified and is distinguished from God,”[31] there are numerous references to God and “God’s wyrd” throughout the poems of the Exeter Book.[32] F. Anne Payne notes that “[t]he relation of man, Wyrd, and God which is represented in Beowulf finds its philosophical clarification in [King] Alfred’s use of the term in his … [translation] of [Boethius’] Consolation of Philosophy.”[33] Payne adds that “Alfred’s metaphor for the absolute relation of … [man, Wyrd, and God] makes Wyrd a great wheel on which men are caught, the worst toward the outer rim, the best near the axle, which is God: ‘swelce sio eax sie þæt hehste god þe we nemnað God.’”[34] On this point, Susanne Weil traces the “many words that express the concept of wyrd” to the term’s Old English root meaning “to shape.” She notes that gescipe, or “destiny,” means literally “that which is shaped”; that the verb sceppen means “to destine, to shape”; and that “one of the most frequently used words for ‘God’ is Sceppend,” which literally means “Shaper.”[35] With respect to the relation between man, wyrd, and God in Anglo-Saxon verse and literature, she adds:

Since the motif of wyrd as the implacable arbiter of men’s struggles resounds throughout the Anglo-Saxon canon like a perpetual minor chord, the synonymous nature of fate and shaping in Old English should not be surprising: the singers of the canon were always aware that the events of their lives had been “shaped” by a force (or forces) beyond their control. Given the primacy of tactile imagery throughout their poetry, their vision of destiny as a process of shaping is characteristic. It is as if their Shaper were a sculptor, carefully crating the form of each man’s fate, molding a rough edge here, a smooth curve there, until the work took on its final cast in the moment of death.[36]

Against this clear Christian influence, however, there does seem to be something mysterious with respect to wyrd in the underbelly of the pagan Anglo-Saxon Weltanschauung. As monks historically moved into Britain and began recording Anglo-Saxon writings, it was assumed that the Sceppend was the Christian God. But Weil raises the important question: “who was he before that?”[37] After all, “The Anglo-Saxon tongue existed before the Christianization of Britain, and yet the Germanic religion which had held sway there had no supreme Shaper.”[38] On this point, Weil finds that, “As we push the parameters of the mythology, every possible explanation seems to lead to another mystery. The Anglo-Saxon universe seems curiously without cause, yet brimming with effects—all subsumed under the murky heading of wyrd, which remains a force, not a figure. Who, then, is the Shaper?”[39]

In relation to wyrd, Weil suggests that a clue to this question can be found in the following lines from Beowulf, where Beowulf says that “Gaeð a wyrd swa hio scel (Fate always goes as it must!),” and also that “Wyrd oft nereð/unfægne eorl, þonne his ellen deah (Fate often saves an undoomed man if his courage is good).”[40] In these two axioms, there appears to be an inconsistency: in the first “fate is unalterable,” and in the second “[fate] plays favorites.”[41] Later in Beowulf, the narrator seems to suggest that fate “is subordinate to both “wise God” and “the man’s courage.”[42] At a superficial level, these differing conceptions of wyrd appear to reveal an inconsistency. At a deeper level, however, that inconsistency may confirm Weil’s suspicion that neither Beowulf nor the narrator are confused here – that it is instead the modern audience who has missed the point of these pronouncements.[43] She elaborates on this in the following way, unpacking the relation between the Christian influence and the pagan Anglo-Saxon worldview:

Critics who see the poem as primarily Christian … view the narrator’s pronouncement on the power of God as evidence that Christian providence, not wyrd, was the Shaper of the Anglo-Saxon world—ignoring other pronouncements that the narrator makes elsewhere about the supreme power of fate. If proving God to be the sole power were the narrator’s purpose, why would he immediately append the caveat “yet is discernment everywhere best, forethought of mind?” He seems to be telling his audience not to count on the power of God or wyrd: the future will be a mixture of satisfaction and suffering even though God (or fate) “rule(s) all the race of men.” What a man can depend on is his “forethought of mind”: this is the core of the individual’s power to endure.[44]

“FORETHOUGHT OF MIND” AND “THINKING WELL”: THREE HUMAN RESPONSES TO WYRD

This “forethought of mind” as a means of enduring wyrd is an important theme, one that other scholars have taken note of. The “narrator’s purpose” Weil refers to above with respect to “forethought of mind” occurs in Beowulf as follows: “Forþan bið angit æghwær selest, [/] ferhðes foreþanc,” which can be translated as, “Therefore understanding is best everywhere, forethought of mind,”[45] or, “Yet is discernment everywhere best, forethought of mind.”[46] As a parallel to the reference to “forethought of mind” in Beowulf, we find an analogue in what Karma Lochrie renders as “thinking well” in one of the poems of the Exeter Book.[47] The reference occurs with respect to a series of “less obvious sequences of poems” in the Exeter Book, ones that “present variations on some particular theme or a series of instructions for devotional exercises.”[48] Such poems are noted by Lochrie to reveal a “pattern of the sacrament of penance.”[49] These form a “thematic group” and are headed by a “Judgment Day” poem, which is comprised of three short poems: “Judgment Day I,” “Resignation A,” and “Resignation B.”[50] These three short poems comprise three different approaches “to the common concern with wyrd and its effect on mankind” in the form of “a homiletic poem, a prayer, and an elegy.”[51] The phrase “thinking well” occurs in the first of the three poems that comprise this triplex: “Judgment Day I.”

“Judgment Day I” is described by Lochrie as a “homiletic poem in the third person” that “switches curiously … to a prayerlike, first-person narrative mode in which the speaker solicits the audience’s participation in his poem.”[52] The poem seems to call the reader to prayer after “a description of the inexorable end of the world through God’s wyrd and the judgment of mankind through His Word.” The call appears to be a “response to the mysterious upheavals and revelations wreaked by wyrd,”[53] where the ending “embarks on a prayer for the recognition of one’s inability to change or postpone wyrd ‘under heaven’”:[54]

Oncweþ nu þisne cwide; cuþ sceal geweorþan
þæt ic gewægan ne mæg wyrd under heofonum,
ac hit þus gelimpan sceal leoda gehwylcum
ofer eall beorht gesetu, byrnende lig.
Siþþan æfter þam lige lif bið gestaþelad,
welan ah in wuldre se nu wel þenceð.

(Repeat now this saying; it shall come to be
that I may not frustrate wyrd under heaven,
but it shall happen thus to all people
the coming of the burning flame, over all this bright creation.
After the flame life will be established,
and he will possess happiness who now thinks wisely.)[55]

This poem points to the fact that “the individual cannot ‘frustrate’ or prevent God’s wyrd under heaven, that in fact that wyrd is destined to frustrate the individual’s plans for the future, and that he or she must endure the ‘burning flame’ which will engulf all creation equally.”[56]

It is in this enduring – specifically with respect to enduring wyrd – that we find a link between the “forethought of mind” in Beowulf and the “thinking well” that Lochrie mentions with respect to “Judgment Day I.” “Thinking well” is also rendered as “thinking wisely,” where “the poet also adds to what might otherwise be a pessimistic outlook that the individual can affect his or her destiny by ‘thinking wisely’ now—that is, in the present.”[57] Whether referring to wyrd as “the speaker’s hardship, suffering, and misery which he cannot understand or prevent” in “Resignation B,” or as “the final conflagration and Last Judgment” in “Judgment Day I,” the lesson is the same: “one must not try to change or appeal one’s destiny; instead, one must ‘think well’ in order to endure it.”[58]

These three poems – “Judgment Day I,” “Resignation A,” and “Resignation B” – present variations on the limits of human understanding in relation to wyrd, and illustrate three “particular human responses to wyrd.”[59] “Judgment Day I” establishes a “triptych” that “portrays these [three] human responses to wyrd” – responses that “[hinge] upon the quality of one’s thought, and … [whether or not] we consider the truth well.”[60] The three responses involve three characterizations or caricatures: 1) the gromhydig guma or “the grim-thinking man”;[61] 2) the earthly feaster;[62] and 3) the deophydig or “deep-thinking” soul.[63] Of these, the first two are “caricatures of the unwise—those who are heedless of the future in their overweening confidence in the present.”[64] The third conversely “assumes the model human response to wyrd.”[65] I will briefly examine each of these in turn.

The first type of response, the gromhydig guma or “the grim-thinking man,” is suggestive of a character who boasts and “heaps scorn on his lord, murders him, and flees to hell with his friends.” He is “the destroyer of peace who, in his grim ravaging of the earth, fails to consider the ‘dark creation’ which eternally waits for him.” As a response to wyrd, “the grim-thinker’s failure to know what lies beyond the present” represents a species of “proud ignorance by which man exploits the limitations of his own knowledge on earth.” Lochrie notes that the remedy for such pride is suggested by the word ferðgleaw, an adjective meaning “prudent.” With respect to wyrd, prudence “is a wisdom in the face of the future which recognizes the limitations of human knowledge and our inability to change our future” and is characterized by forethought.[66]

The second type of response is that of the earthly feaster. Similar to the grim-thinking man, “the feaster is oblivious to his wyrd.” Lochrie contends that the feaster “is guilty of another kind of pride which is associated with the ‘immoderate mind’.” The feaster is additionally characterized by an indifference or lack of care towards knowledge.[67]

The third type of response is the deophydig or “deep-thinking soul.” The deep-thinking soul “considers well his journey hence and looks upon his sins with anxiety, sorry, and suffering.” This type of response marks a soul characterized by prudence, one who, “while not … [presuming] to know or understand God’s wyrd, is able to endure it patiently by thinking well upon the future.”[68]

All in all, these three responses to wyrd are meant to indicate the types of qualities required to endure it: “understanding, patience, and memory.” On this account and in order to receive these qualities, the speaker of “Resignation A” realizes that “he must first learn to ‘think well’,”[69] as indicated by the poet’s words:

Gesette minne hyht on þec,
forhte foreþoncas, þæt hio fæstlice
stonde gestaðelad. Onstep minne hige,
gæsta god cyning, in gearone raed.

(Set my trust in you,
strengthen my forethoughts, that they may
stand fast. Raise my thoughts,
God King of souls, in ready wisdom.)[70]

CONCLUSION

Over the course of this paper, I examined some of the cultural, historical, and etymological origins of the Anglo-Saxon term “wyrd” in two contexts. The first concerned a radical confrontation with something other than the self, where wyrd took on the fundamental role of Other. I investigated this in some of the poems in the tenth-century manuscript known as the Exeter Book, in the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, and in the Old English translation of Boethius’ The Consolation of Philosophy. Here, I found that the phrase “elþeodigra eard gesecan,” or “to seek the land of foreigners” could be interpreted as more than a religious exile, referring instead to how an initiate in the Order of Nine Angles is exiled from the self in confronting something other than the self. That other (or Other) can take the form of wyrd.

The second context concerned wyrd’s deeper constellation of meaning when examined through the lens of the medieval Christian influence on the Anglo-Saxon pagan Weltanschauung. We examined different interpretations and possible etymological origins of wyrd in extant Anglo-Saxon verse in relation to God and the three different human responses to wyrd described by Karma Lochrie. These responses centered around the theme of “thinking well,” which I suggested is analogous to the idea of “forethought of mind” in Beowulf. Through an examination of “Judgment Day I,” “Resignation A,” and “Resignation B” in the Exeter Book and their characterization of the three human responses to wyrd, we learned that the appropriate human response to wyrd is prudence: “the recognition that we cannot change or frustrate wyrd.”[71] Hence, “Thinking well and wisely upon our future judgment while accepting the limitations of our understanding of divine wyrd finally means suffering well our present.”[72]

While prudence as an appropriate human response to wyrd may conflict with the Order of Nine Angles’ philosophy – there may in fact be magickal and esoteric techniques to alter or “re-direct” one’s wyrd, which is an element of the ONA’s esoteric system that seems to attract the dogged initiate – it does cast an interesting light on a deep historical complexity surrounding the cultural, historical, and etymological origins of the term “wyrd.”

In closing and as a testament to the importance of activating what has been said here in a participatory manner – one that brings wyrd to life in life, not on paper – I will end with a brief symbolic gesture: long ago, on the trail of danger and adventure in my younger years, I had a close friend who, now on the path to becoming an adept, once said to me: “Where’s your will to be weird?” Like a forethought of wyrd echoing into that present – a present which is now the past but is still very much alive – the question stuck with me. The question returned. The question evolved and took on strange forms. Now, as an echo across history into the present, as a moving anchor into the future, wyrd seems to be revealing itself to itself, providing temporal clues as to what this was intended to mean. Like many of the mysteries or “treasures” revealed in wyrd, I sensed the meaning instinctually, liminally, beyond the bounds of understanding. Until now, I never knew how to describe this “sensing.” In closing and as a clue as to the meaning of the title of this article,[73] I end with a passage from Payne:

The adjective “weird” and the noun slang term “weirdo” describe an event or person whose attributes are suddenly discovered to be outside the bounds of normal expectation and arouse an experience that an observer contemplates with uncomprehending but compelling uneasiness. This combination of attraction and awe in the face of an event in a space whose dimensions are undefined and uncontrollable hovers about the meaning of Old English Wyrd.[74]

Nameless Therein
Scothorn Nexion
March 28, 2022
2775 ab urbe condita

Wudu mot him weaxan, wyrde bidan,
tanum lædan; ic for tæle ne mæg
ænigne moncynnes mode gelufian
eorl on eþle.

(The tree might flourish, abide its wyrd,
sprout forth with branches; I for disgrace may not
any of mankind love in heart
any earl in my native land.)

– “Resignation B,” translated by Karma Lochrie

NOTES

[1] Courtney Catherine Barajas, “Introduction,” in Old English Ecotheology: The Exeter Book (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2021), 20.

[2] Andrew Galloway, “Beowulf and the Varieties of Choice,” PMLA 105, no. 2 (March 1990): 199.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., 197.

[5] A noteworthy development in this respect is the lesser-known fifth-century Christian heresy known as Pelagianism. Pelagianism, which is associated with the British monk Pelagius, held that “the grace needed for salvation comes from God through creation (which gives humans the capacity to do good) and from revelation (which teaches and encourages them toward goodness).” According to Pelagianism, sin “does not invalidate these gifts, and baptism is not necessary for the forgiveness of original sin.” These teachings were opposed to the views of St. Augustine, who held that “humans pass original sin to their children through reproduction, and that after Adam’s sin they lost the divine gift of love that makes human actions effective for salvation.” On Augustine’s account, “Without love, even things that seem to be virtues have evil motives.” Pelagianism was condemned by the Church as a heresy. Interestingly, a group now referred to as the Semipelagians, “represented by the monks John Cassian and Vincent of Lerins,” agreed with Augustine “on the necessity of interior grace and the effects of sin, but felt that predestination was dangerously close to some kind of destiny.” Predestination in relation to destiny is beyond the scope of this article but is mentioned here in passing given its relevance to this discussion of wyrd. Charles Taliaferro and Elsa J. Marty, eds., “Pelagianism,” in A Dictionary of Philosophy of Religion (New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group, 2010), 174-75.

[6] Galloway, “Beowulf,” 197.

[7] Eric Gerald Stanley, “Wyrd,” chap. 11 in Imagining the Anglo-Saxon Past: The Search for Anglo-Saxon Paganism and Anglo-Saxon Trial by Jury (1975; repr., Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2000), 85.

[8] The Greek term “ἄνοδος” commonly occurs throughout ONA literature to describe this Hermetic quest. See, for example, Kerri Scott’s point that, “The symbolism of ω9α philosophy is – as described in the Poemander/Poemandres tractate of the Corpus Hermeticum and in many Renaissance alchemical texts – the ancient one of seven spheres (ἑβδομάς) and of a hermetic quest (ἄνοδος) by the individual from the first, lower, sphere to the seventh, higher, sphere.” Along these lines, Scott also notes that, “The Seven Fold Way involves an individual or a partnership undertaking a difficult hermetic quest, an ἄνοδος, either overtly Occult – as for example described in the Naos manuscript – or based on a non-Occult seeking as described in the text The Sevenfold Seeking And Noesis Of The Hebdomian Way.” Scott adds that, “Those on such a quest, often called the Hebdomadary (singular) or Hebdomadarians (plural) generally concern themselves with their quest, their interior life, their partnership, and family, above and beyond the dialectical machinations of the external world such as those of politics.” Kerri Scott, “Guide to Omega9Alpha Subculture” (self-pub., 2022).

[9] There is a powerful sense in which wyrd relates to the self in a way that exceeds the boundaries of the self. This involves a kind of personal intimacy; but that intimacy is also enigmatic and impersonal in its relation to forces that cannot be reduced to comprehension or understanding. It is, however, rarely abstract, embodied in an experience that can neither be “located” nor locuted, defying all natural forms of expression and grammar; all except, perhaps, music. In this way the map can become the territory, and the way this occurs is deeply personal.

[10] These are two common examples that many individuals fall victim to. Regarding the latter case, said “deception” can occur as an ulterior resistance structure or unconscious defense mechanism that artificially “elevates” the individual above the actual confrontation, sometimes out of fear, denial, unresolved trauma, or a refusal to let go. Small – and sometimes not so small – signs can indicate this type of inflationary response in the individual: in the way they speak, their mannerisms, their response to conflict, their etiquette, and their interpersonal relations, to cite a few examples.

[11] On this point, Myatt notes that, “The Way of Pathei-Mathos is an ethical, an interior, a personal, a non-political, a non-interfering, a non-religious but spiritual, way of individual reflexion, individual change, and empathic living, where there is an awareness of the importance of virtues such as compassion, humility, tolerance, gentleness, and love.” David Myatt, “I. Morality, Virtues, and Way of Life,” in The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos, 5th ed. (self-pub., 2018).

[12] Sadly, overuse, misuse, and a lack of knowledge regarding the origins of ONA terminology on the part of many ONA associates has diminished the meaning of such terms; but through a careful examination of some of the complexities that inform their intended meaning, we may breathe fresh life into a terminological framework that has been stripped of significance through years of carelessness. Such investigations will hopefully inspire others to find new ways to describe complex phenomena – phenomena that may appear conceptually contradictory but consistent in experience. There is evidence that the early authors of the ONA were aware of the complexities surrounding such terminology and were possibly attempting to exceed the limitations of such terms in creating clear divisions like “causal” and “acausal.” While such distinctions can be misleading, they lend the advantage of drawing our attention to their apparent limitations so that we may evolve and exceed them in turn.

[13] Note that while “Anglo-Saxon” is often used synonymously with “Old English,” the term and its Latinized form, “Anglo-Saxonicus,” originally applied “to the people and language of the Saxon race who colonized the southern parts of Britain.” The Saxons were distinct from the Angles, who colonized the northern regions. “Anglo-Saxon” does not refer to a combination of Angles and Saxons – i.e., “the people and language of the whole of England.” The latter would be more accurately described by the term “Old English.” Since the revival of such studies in the sixteenth century, however, “‘Anglo-Saxon’ has been used as the general term, without a sense of geographical distinction. Dinah Birch and Katy Hooper, eds., “Anglo-Saxon,” in The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature, 4th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

[14] There is controversy surrounding the dating of Beowulf. See, for example, The Dating of Beowulf: A Reassessment, ed. Leonard Neidorf (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2014). Neidorf notes that scholars have assigned dates ranging from the seventh to the eleventh century. Prior to the 1980s, “most scholars held that the poem was composed during the seventh or eighth century.” Interestingly, J.R.R. Tolkien was convinced that Beowulf belonged to the age of Bede, which lasted from 672-735. On this point, Francis Gummere wrote: “There is no positive evidence for any date of origins. All critics place it before the ninth century. The eighth brought monastic corruption to Northumbria; while the seventh, described by Beda, with its austerity of morals, its gentleness, its tolerance, its close touch with milder forms of heathenism, matches admirably the controlling mood of the epic.” R.W. Chambers additionally notes that, “[F]rom the point of view of its close touch with heathendom, its tolerance for heathen customs, its Christian magnanimity and gentleness, its conscious art, and its learned tone, all historic and artistic analogy would lead us to place Beowulf in the great age – the age of Bede.” Other scholars disagree with this assessment. Scholarship on the dating of Beowulf appears to be “uneven in quality.” Leonard Neidorf, “Introduction,” in The Dating of Beowulf: A Reassessment, ed. Leonard Neidorf (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2014).

[15] Victor Watts, “Introduction,” in Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy, rev. ed., trans. Victor Watts (1969; rev. ed., London: Penguin Books, 1999), xi. Boethius’ Consolation marks one of the great crossroads between the classical pagan worldview and early medieval Christianity. Boethius is said to have written this work in prison before his execution in 524 AD. Watts notes that, “[I]n the absence of firm evidence to the contrary … [we must believe that] Boethius … wrote [Consolation] in prison, alone, under the shadow of eventual execution, unaided except by the power of his own memory and genius.” Watts, “Introduction,” xxii.

[16] David Pedersen, “Wyrd ðe Warnung … or God: The Question of Absolute Sovereignty in Solomon and Saturn II,” Studies in Philology 113, no. 4 (Fall 2016): 714.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid. Pedersen interestingly cites a long-standing conflict between pagan and Christian interpretations of this term in an Anglo-Saxon context. He notes that “numerous proponents of the preservation of Germanic mythology in … [Old English] literature pointed to the various occasions throughout the corpus where wyrd is personified and is distinguished from God.” This began to change in the early twentieth century, however, as “a predominantly English school of scholarship began to attack the idea that the extant sources preserve some vestiges of Anglo-Saxon paganism, contending that the nearly three centuries of Christianity preceding many of the earliest literary occurrences of wyrd preclude any pagan connotations.” Pedersen, “Wyrd,” 714.

[19] Susanne Weil, “Grace Under Pressure: ‘Hand-Words,’ Wyrd, and Free Will in Beowulf,” Pacific Coast Philology 24, no. 1/2 (November 1989): 94.

[20] Jon C. Kasik, “The Use of the Term Wyrd in Beowulf and Conversion of the Anglo-Saxons,” Neophilologus 63 (January 1979): 128.

[21] Ibid.

[22] F. Anne Payne, “Three Aspects of Wyrd in Beowulf,” in Old English Studies in Honour of John C. Pope, eds. Robert B. Burlin and Edward B. Irving (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974), 15.

[23] Payne, “Three Aspects,” 15-16.

[24] Karma Lochrie, “Wyrd and the Limits of Human Understanding: A Thematic Sequence in the Exeter Book,” The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 85, no. 3 (July 1986): 324.

[25] Galloway, “Beowulf,” 199.

[26] Dan Veach, “The Wanderer,” in Beowulf and Beyond: Classic Anglo-Saxon Poems, Stories, Sayings, Spells, and Riddles (Atlanta: Lockwood Press, 2021), 41.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Pedersen, “Wyrd,” 713.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid., 714.

[31] Ibid.

[32] For example, see Lochrie’s discussion of the poem “Judgment Day I” in “Human Understanding,” 325.

[33] Payne, “Three Aspects,” 16.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Weil, “Grace Under Pressure,” 94.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid., 95.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid., 95-96.

[45] Pedersen, “Wyrd, 726.

[46] Weil, “Grace Under Pressure,” 95.

[47] Lochrie, “Human Understanding,” 327.

[48] Ibid., 323.

[49] A reference to L. Whitbread quoted in Lochrie, “Human Understanding,” 323.

[50] Lochrie, “Human Understanding,” 324.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ibid., 325.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Quoted in Lochrie, “Human Understanding,” 325. Translation by Lochrie.

[56] Lochrie, “Human Understanding,” 326.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Ibid., 326-27. There is a parallel between “forethought of mind” and “thinking well” in Anglo-Saxon verse and my analysis elsewhere of the importance of what Hannah Arendt refers to as the vita contemplativa or the contemplative life. That parallel has to do with the role of contemplation in relation to action. The parallel only indicates a relation, however; the two issues are not identical.

[59] Ibid., 327.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Ibid., 328.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Ibid., 327.

[65] Ibid., 328.

[66] Ibid., 327.

[67] Ibid., 328.

[68] Ibid.

[69] Ibid.

[70] Quoted in Lochrie, “Human Understanding,” 328. Translation by Lochrie.

[71] Lochrie, “Human Understanding,” 331.

[72] Ibid.

[73] I should note that the phrase “Anglo-Saxon religious imagination,” which I chose as the subtitle of this article, comes from Pedersen, “Wyrd,” 713.

[74] Payne, “Three Aspects,” 15.


Announcing the New Home of Fenrir: Lux Lycaonis

Posted: March 19th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Fenrir | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Announcing the New Home of Fenrir: Lux Lycaonis

Fen logo

Announcing the New Home of Fenrir: Lux Lycaonis

As promised, here is the important announcement I recently alluded to: After a great deal of time, energy, and effort – and on the night of the full moon – it is my pleasure to announce the official new home and website of Fenrir: Journal of Satanism and the Sinister!

https://luxlycaonis.com

[Repost from: https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/03/18/558/]

What follows is some commentary on the choice of the name “Lux Lycaonis,” in addition to the future direction of the site and what purpose it will serve.

A Note on the Name “Lux Lycaonis”

The name “Lux Lycaonis” comes from the Latin “lux,” meaning “light,” and the myth of the impious Greek king of Arcadia and son of Pelasgus, Lycaon.[1] Lycaon, whose name appears to come from the Greek word for wolf (λύκος),[2] “is sometimes considered to be the first werewolf.”[3] While Lycaon’s actions occasionally depict him as a “culture-bringer and pious ruler”[4] – as the founder of Lycosura and having given Zeus the epithet Lycaeus, for example[5] – he is depicted elsewhere in a different light. Some sources report that he “sacrificed a human infant to Zeus Lycaeus.”[6] Other sources, such as Ovid’s Metamorphoses, follow the tradition “that Lycaon offended the gods by serving human flesh to them.”[7] In the latter case, Lycaon’s impiety is compounded by entertaining “Zeus … [at] a feast and … [offering him] human flesh to test his divinity.”[8] Thus centering around the theme of the “wickedness of mortals,”[9] the myth of Lycaon is recounted in the following way:

Prometheus had a son, Deucalion, and Epimetheus had a daughter, Pyrrha. Their story … involves a great flood sent by Zeus (Jupiter) to punish mortals for their wickedness. In … [Ovid’s account], Jupiter tells an assembly of the gods how he, a god, became a man to test the truth of the rumors of human wickedness in the age of iron. There follows an account of Jupiter’s anger at the evil of mortals, in particular Lycaon.[10]

Ovid’s account in Metamorphoses thus recounts Zeus’ telling of the story:

Reports of the wickedness of the age had reached my ears; wishing to find them false, I slipped down from high Olympus and I, a god, roamed the earth in the form of a man. Long would be the delay to list the number of evils and where they were found; the iniquitous stories themselves fell short of the truth. I had crossed the mountain Maenalus, bristling with the haunts of animals, and Cyllene, and the forests of cold Lycaeus; from these ridges in Arcadia I entered the realm and inhospitable house of the tyrant Lycaon, as the dusk of evening was leading night on.

I gave signs that a god had come in their midst; the people began to pray but Lycaon first laughed at their piety and then cried: “I shall test whether this man is a god or a mortal, clearly and decisively.” He planned to kill me unawares in the night while I was deep in sleep. This was the test of the truth that suited him best. But he was not content even with this; with a knife he slit the throat of one of the hostages sent to him by the Molossians and, as the limbs were still warm with life, some he boiled until tender and others he roasted over a fire. As soon as he placed them on the table, I with a flame of vengeance brought the home down upon its gods, worthy of such a household and such a master.

Lycaon himself fled in terror, and when he reached the silence of the country he howled as in vain he tried to speak. His mouth acquired a mad ferocity arising from his basic nature, and he turned his accustomed lust for slaughter against the flocks and now took joy in their blood. His clothes were changed to hair; his arms to legs; he became a wolf retaining vestiges of his old form. The silver of the hair and the violent countenance were the same; the eyes glowed in the same way; the image of ferocity was the same.[11]

The name “Lux Lycaonis” was thus selected for this site in light of the following: first, the myth of Lycaon recounted by Ovid is in keeping with the heretical and impious nature of the Order of Nine Angles, both in terms of the two sides of its dialogue (embodied in the relationship between Zeus and Lycaon) and its roots in the ancient Greco-Roman tradition.[12] Secondly, the myth illustrates a tension at the heart of the ONA: that of navigating some of its deliberate trickery and misdirection aimed at imparting something important – something true, sincere, and honest – to the adept through years of difficult discernment. Again, this speaks to the need for Hellenic contemplation or “mindfulness” to inform action, as acting without foresight or proper reflection can prove disastrous (and often has in the ONA). Thirdly, the transformation of Lycaon into a wolf bears an obvious relation to the title of this journal (Fenrir); but the addition of “lux” or “light” also alludes to Fenrir as the Journal of Satanism and the Sinister. This concerns the sense in which, while lycanthropy and werewolves are often associated with lunar aspects of transformation, there is also a hidden solar side. That dynamic has to do with the sense in which these lunar aspects – which are typically “hidden,” “dark,” “absent,” or “unknown” – interact with this solar aspect. While that aspect is typically associated with what is “seen,” “present,” or “illuminated,” it is interestingly hidden from the moon and yet provides the moon with its source of illumination and light. Lycaon’s transformation into a wolf speaks to this dynamic. With respect to Mircea Eliade’s notion that objects and human action are only made real through participating in a reality that transcends them,[13] it also speaks to the importance of the sun in the ONA as the center of the Tree of Wyrd – a center that every other dynamic, process, sphere, and entity on the tree participates in (including the hidden paths, albeit in a complex way). The sphere of the sun is also an important part of the process of dyssolving, involving as it does the essential alchemical process of putrefaction, and thus is an important – and overlooked – part of Satanism and the sinister.

In turn, while this site will remain the official home of Fenrir, I thought it important to leave room for expansion (hence the choice of “Lux Lycaonis” for the name over something like “Fenrir Journal” or the like). Thus, in addition to showcasing the work and talent of the main contributors of the journal, whom I have invited to be a part of this and assist with the Fenrir project, there will remain the possibility of adding other elements to the site to broaden its purpose and horizon. Additionally, while there will indeed be a primary emphasis on contemplation, scholarship, esotericism, and practical magick here, I also hope to incorporate and emphasize music, poetry, and art in the future. Finally, this site will be a lighthearted place to air the thoughts and personal experiences of all involved as we continue our journey through the ONA, in addition to providing news and updates on various related subjects.

Nameless Therein
Scothorn Nexion
Full moon in Libra
March 18, 2022
2775 ab urbe condita

NOTES

[1] Christine L. Albright, “Lycaon,” chap. 3 in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, 1st ed. (Oxon: Routledge, 2018), 10.

[2] Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth, eds., “Lycaon,” in The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed., (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

[3] Albright, “Lycaon,” 14. Albright notes that the phenomenon of lycanthropy is not unique to the myth of Lycaon in ancient Greece. Plato alludes to it in the Republic, where men transform into wolves “after eating human flesh at a human sacrifice on Mt. Lycaeon in Arcadia.” The ancient Greek geographer Pausanias notes how “these men would return to human form after nine years, provided that they abstained from eating human flesh.”

[4] Hornblower and Spawforth, “Lycaon.”

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Albright, “Lycaon,” 14.

[8] Hornblower and Spawforth, “Lycaon.”

[9] Mark P.O. Morford, Robert J. Lenardon, and Michael Sham, Classical Mythology, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), 99.

[10] Morford, Lenardon, and Sham, Classical Mythology, 99.

[11] Quoted in Morford, Lenardon, and Sham, Classical Mythology, 100.

[12] The question of piety and impiety has deep roots in ancient Greece. See Plato’s Euthyphro, for example.

[13] Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), 34. For Eliade, anything that has reality through its participation in a transcendent reality composed of mythological archetypes is considered sacred. Anything that lacks this reality is profane. This applies to contemplation and equally to action (“an object or act becomes real only insofar as it imitates or repeats an archetype”); though importantly, action without contemplation – without this participation in that transcendent reality and being informed by it – is profane. To use a common term the ONA employs, we might say in light of this that many of the actions and activities associated with the ONA are not only profane but “mundane.”

 


Aeonic aims of the ONA

Posted: March 15th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Acausal Theory, Alchemy, David Myatt, Fenrir, Inner ONA, National Socialism, O9A, O9A Nine Angles, Occultism, Order of Nine Angles, Order of the Nine Angles, paganism, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Aeonic aims of the ONA

[Reposted here: https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/03/18/aeonic-aims/]

In response to Clarice and in an effort to halt any tensions between us, what follows is an excerpt from a dialogue we had concerning the aims I hope to see realized collectively with respect to the future of the ONA. While many will not agree with what is expressed here, I think it may help clarify some of the motivations behind Fenrir. Additionally, I should note that I consider my personal desires, aims, and “vision” irrelevant to the ONA. Whatever emerges beyond our lifetime must realize itself organically through forces that are out of our control. I realize that it may be possible to influence these in our lifetime; but I sense that we are rarely in control of the actions that catalyze this influence.

[My purpose] is motivated by the … [original aims] of the Old Guard: to enact the conditions for the possibility of long-term and concrete Aeonic change across the world – both as a practical strategy for future generations, as well as those within our lifetime. This purpose is informed by my history in sinister and Satanic magick, my experiences through the Grade Rituals and alchemical transformations of the Seven-Fold Way, the insights I have gained from those experiences, the conversations I have had with some important associates of the ONA, and my desire to see an end to the current narrative of extremism and radical politics, which I think has become self-destructive toward these aims. If we are to take the notion of [the transitory nature of] “causal forms” seriously, which includes that of radical political ideologies like National Socialism, there cannot be a double-standard.

In reviewing some of my recent writings, a friend of mine from a known Italian Nexion remarked that “what is happening suggests that the O9A might be using its own disruptive evolutionary techniques on itself,” which is … [an accurate observation]. My practical aim here is to [aid in restoring] a positive image of the Order of Nine Angles in the public eye, [to help filter out] those who are detrimental to its survival and aims, and to redirect the negative attention it has received in order to create the necessary conditions for transparent Aeonic change.

The other side of this purpose concerns practical techniques that can aid in the devotional practice of sinister magick across a wide spectrum. Aside from my work in esoteric chant … [both myself and contributors on the Fenrir team] hope to introduce techniques that can, in combination with some of the “contemplative” ideas I will introduce, be layered into unique and more powerful systems – all with the aim of Aeonic magick in mind. With respect to Fenrir … [we aim to] create a true dialectic (though I have issues with that term): contemplative, “numinous” scholarship addressing the higher three Septenary spheres (past the Sun), and techniques of practical Sinister magick [introduced by other Adepts in the ONA] to guide those who resonate with the lower three “sinister” spheres. The alchemical unification of these at an internal level in the ONA, collectively and across history to ensure its survival and growth – in this way, the gun is loaded.

All this is well and fine. But Clarice importantly remarked that it is hard to see a “tangible end” to this desire for long-term Aeonic change. In turn, she posed the following question:

So, we ask again, if you could show us a video-recording of the Aeonic change already having changed this inner society of individuals, what scenes and personalities would we see in that “movie”?

From a place of sincerity and honesty, my answer comes from instinct, as instinct has always guided everything I do and say, including my thought. My answer is this: We would see scenes of deep compassion, a mutual desire to uphold the lessons derived from meaningful tragedy, a profound intimacy shared between us from that understanding, and a stillness and silence content with the majesty and beauty of this world. I think more than anything, we would see love, which to me is profoundly heroic. This would not be a society of philosopher kings but of heroes. We would find fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. We would see the value in family and a simple way of living. We would share in the joy of this unique existence and treasure the time we have together. This is my vision of that Aeonic change. If this was a movie, it would be Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev or the Czech masterpiece, Marketa Lazarová. That change is perhaps best summarized in the following vision from Major Briggs to his son Bobby in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, which applies powerfully to the ONA:

May I share something with you? A vision I had in my sleep last night – as distinguished from a dream which is mere sorting and cataloguing of the day’s events by the subconscious. This was a vision, fresh and clear as a mountain stream – the mind revealing itself to itself. In my vision, I was on the veranda of a vast estate, a palazzo of some fantastic proportion. There seemed to emanate from it a light from within – this gleaming radiant marble. I had known this place. I had in fact been born and raised there. This was my first return, a reunion with the deepest wellsprings of my being. Wandering about, I was happy that the house had been immaculately maintained. There had been added a number of additional rooms, but in a way it blended so seamlessly with the original construction, one would never detect any difference. Returning to the house’s grand foyer, there came a knock at the door. My son was standing there. He was happy and care-free, clearly living a life of deep harmony and joy. We embraced – a warm and loving embrace, nothing withheld. We were in this moment one. My vision ended. I awoke with a tremendous feeling of optimism and confidence in you and your future. That was my vision: it was of you.

As a response to this vision – and to the “vast estate” it refers to – and being first and foremost a musician, I think its application to the ONA can additionally be illustrated through music. Music alone can express what in speech must remain silent. And silence is the creative foundation for all music. The following song, and particularly the lyrics, perhaps better express what I’ve said above (and to be clear, United Bible Studies has no affiliation with the ONA and has spoken out firmly against it). It has had a powerful influence on my thinking over the years, and speaks to the mystery at the heart of the Order of Nine Angles:

When I was born, my father said to me:
The room in which I was born
was not what it seemed

It had a coffee pot,
a cat,
and some shadows

I asked what he meant, and he said:
Do you mean –
The room in which you were born
is not what it seems?
It was built ten long years
after when you were born

I said: what do you mean?
The room where I was born?
I recall his cold eyes
as he revealed this truth to me:

My son, it’s a shameful secret
spoken in the room where you were born,
which was itself born after me,
which I believe makes me unborn –
Unborn
Unborn

Though I think this vision may not be attainable – perhaps closer to something like a regulative ideal – the sentiment it expresses may serve to balance the other side of the ONA’s dialogue, directing us toward a future end that cannot possibly be known. My hope is that this is not an end, but merely a beginning.

Nameless Therein
Scothorn Nexion
March 15, 2022
2775 ab urbe condita


Vita activa

Posted: March 15th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Culture, Fenrir, National Socialism, News, O9A, O9A Nine Angles, Order of Nine Angles, Order of the Nine Angles, Politics, The Sinister Tradition, The Sinisterly Numinous Tradition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vita activa

[Updated repost with some additional commentary can be found here: https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/03/18/vita-activa/]

Most amusing, Clarice. But let me be clear:

From your reaction and from my writing, many reading the last few posts here may think that I’m some studious, academic bookworm lost in a world of theoretical reflection and abstraction with no grounding in vital experience or action: a “pathetic husk pouring over the dusty tomes of vacuous minds intent on finding solace for their inadequacy-in-the-world,” bound, as you put it, to “the emasculating chains of vain scholarship” in opposition to “putting boots on the ground to carry out definitive action.”

In response, I will say this: those who know me personally – including some of the most powerful Nexions in this tradition – know that my background is steeped in a solemn history of profound sinister/Satanic activity. What I write is not meant to be theoretical. And it is from my history of violent and transformative action that I can even approach the contemplative. My journey along the Seven-Fold Way was prefaced by extreme experiences: I know what it’s like to fight for my life, to be beaten and broken, to approach physical death on more than one occasion; of losing everyone and everything and having to rebuild from a bottom that no longer exists. I know what it’s like to lose my mind, to find my best friend dead in a bathtub after committing suicide, to find myself in the emergency room on multiple occasions, to know and love a woman and then to see her die … My boots aren’t just on the ground: they’re on the earth.

The best among us know what it’s like to be wounded. One cannot approach the ONA or the Seven-Fold Way, let alone expect to succeed, without having had such experiences break down the resistance structures that prevent us from maintaining composure in the face of great adversity. It is precisely from this wounding, from having been the recipient of its necessary violence, that I object to propagating it, whether in language or in deed.

You have misunderstood what was written in my last post: action is not meant to be a substitution for contemplation, but neither is contemplation meant to be a substitution for action. The two must inform each other.

What I wrote was not meant to target any specific person or Nexion. I have engaged in brief dialogue with your parent Nexion, The Black Order, for example – and while I disagree with much of what is written in their literature on some of the grounds explicated in my previous post, I think it is nevertheless important to engage in serious dialogue with them and their ideas for just this reason.

Your response, which I found vulgar and distasteful, seems to indicate just the contrary. And it’s “vita activa,” not “via activa.”

But my brain grew more and more perplexed. At last I jumped out of bed to find the water tap. I wasn’t thirsty, but my head was feverish and I felt instinctively a need for water. When I had had my drink, I went back to bed again and decided that I was going to sleep, by hook or by crook. I closed my eyes and forced myself to be quiet. I lay for several minutes without moving a muscle, began to sweat and felt the blood pulse violently through my veins. Wasn’t it just too funny, though, that he should look for money in the cornet! And he coughed, just once. Is he still walking around down there? Sitting on my bench? … The blue mother-of-pearl … the ships …

– Knut Hamsun, Hunger

Nameless Therein
Scothorn Nexion
March 15, 2022
2775 ab urbe condita


Contemplation, Logos, and Faith: The Role of the Vita Contemplativa in the Politics of the Order of Nine Angles

Posted: March 14th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Culture, David Myatt, Fenrir, Inner ONA, Islam, News, O9A, O9A Nine Angles, Occultism, Order of Nine Angles, Order of the Nine Angles, paganism, Politics, The Sinister Tradition, The Sinisterly Numinous Tradition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Contemplation, Logos, and Faith: The Role of the Vita Contemplativa in the Politics of the Order of Nine Angles

What follows is a draft of an article for inclusion in the upcoming edition of Fenrir on the subject of politics and extremism in the Order of Nine Angles. While the upcoming edition explicitly moves away from politics and extremism, the article attempts to clarify what a “movement away” involves. In unveiling some of the deeper Hellenic influences at the ONA’s roots and examining the way these inform the relation between action and contemplation, it is hoped that the content presented here will impart a new perspective on a very old dialogue, in turn opening new lines of communication and inspiring a few individuals along the way.

The Death of Socrates

– Jacques-Louis David, The Death of Socrates, 1787

Contemplation, Logos, and Faith: The Role of the Vita Contemplativa in the Politics of the Order of Nine Angles

[Posted here: https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/03/18/contemplation-logos-faith-o9a/]

The upcoming edition of Fenrir’s movement away from extremism and politics marks a return to the ONA’s roots in esotericism and scholarship – esotericism with respect to the hidden nature of experiences attainable through this tradition, and scholarship with respect to both the Aristotelian role “for contemplation of a larger order as something divine in us” [1] and the ancient Hellenic role of the vita contemplativa[2] or the contemplative life. While the ONA has roots in extremism and politics, it may be helpful to clarify what is meant by Fenrir’s “movement away” from these in relation to the lesser-known Greco-Hellenic influences that form a large part of the ONA’s foundation.

Contemplation played an important role in the ancient Hellenic world. While many historical shifts occurred during that time, one of particular significance was the shift from the vita activa or active life to the vita contemplativa or contemplative life. Hannah Arendt, a notable student of Heidegger,[3] analyzes these in detail in her influential work, The Human Condition. She describes how the three activities of the vita activa – labor, work, and action, respectively – have specific conditions and contexts. Arendt notes that the condition of labor is nature, whose domain has to do with providing the necessities of life. The condition of work is world or worldliness, which contrasts with labor in terms of the human-made things it pertains to and carries a sense of artificiality. (Labor, by contrast, concerns the phenomena of nature.) For Arendt, labor in relation to nature illustrates our relation to other animals, whereas work in relation to worldliness is distinctively human.

Action as the third activity of the vita activa takes on a special significance. Arendt identifies action as the prerogative of the human being, where the condition of action is plurality. For Arendt, “[p]lurality is the condition of human action because we are all the same, that is, human, in such a way that nobody is ever the same as anyone else who ever lived, lives, or will live.”[4] Arendt draws our attention to the fact “that men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world,”[5] where action is “the only activity that goes on directly between men without the intermediary of things or matter.”[6] Action is thus important in several respects: it “has the closest connection with the human condition of natality”[7] insofar as it pertains to the way birth brings with it the potential for what is new; natality in relation to action has some bearing on Arendt’s discussion of mortality; and – most importantly for our purposes – action is political in nature and is connected closely to the domain of the political.[8]

Through a major historical shift that marked “perhaps the most momentous of the spiritual consequences of the discoveries of the modern age,”[9] Arendt notes how action and the political were overtaken by the vita contemplativa, the contemplative life. As the highest and purest type of action, it became the highest rung of human activity, and this lasted for some time. The trial of Socrates in ancient Greece played an important role in this shift,[10] where philosophers began to distance themselves from and distrust the political following the execution of Socrates. On this point, it is important to note that the primacy of contemplation did not equate to the primacy of thought over political action, as Arendt makes a clear distinction between contemplation and thought.[11]

Arendt observes that “the enormous superiority of contemplation over activity of any kind, action not excluded, is not Christian in origin.”[12] Contemplation can be found, for example, “in Plato’s political philosophy … [and in] Aristotle’s … articulation of the different ways of life … [which is] clearly guided by the ideal of contemplation (theōria).”[13] She describes how the philosophers of the ancient Greek world added “freedom and surcease from political activity (skholē)”[14] to the “ancient freedom from the necessities of life and from the compulsion by others,”[15] whereby the “later Christian claim to be free from entanglement in worldly affairs, from all the business of this world, was preceded by and originated in the philosophic apolitia of late antiquity.”[16] Thus, “[w]hat had been demanded only by the few was now considered to be a right of all.”[17] In this, we find a close parallel to what David Myatt, in “Classical Paganism and the Christian Ethos,” refers to as an “ancient paganus spirituality,” or “paganus weltanschauung” present in the Greco-Roman worldview.[18] From Arendt’s analysis, we find a clue and possible answer to Myatt’s question, “Is the fundamental difference between such a paganus spirituality and Christianity (past and present) simply the difference between λόγος (logos) understood as ‘reason’ and λόγος understood as faith and belief and thus as the Word of God?”[19] As we have seen, the difference rests heavily on the shift from the vita activa to the vita contemplativa in the ancient Greek world, where contemplation becomes the highest human activity. Understanding this shift may thus help us better understand the complex relation between the ancient Greeks and Christianity, and thus between logos and faith.

As a more substantive response to Myatt, I will note that Pope Benedict XVI addressed this very question – the relation between logos and faith – in his September 2006 address at the University of Regensburg, entitled “Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections.”[20] The Pope states that “[t]he encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance.”[21] From the vision of Saint Paul, for example, “who saw the roads to Asia barred and in a dream saw a Macedonian man plead with him: ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us!’,”[22] we find a line of interpretation that points to the necessity of a “rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry.”[23] Though in the late Middle Ages there is evidence of certain theological trends “which would sunder this synthesis between the Greek spirit and the Christian spirit,”[24] the dialogue between the ancient Greeks and the early Christians – and thus between faith and reason – was more than a conversation: it took place as a kind of communion, one that has had a lasting influence on the modern world.[25] In fact, the “dehellenization” of the Christian worldview did not emerge until the sixteenth century with the “postulates of the Reformation,”[26] where Reformers were responding to a system of scholastic theology that appeared as “an alien system of thought” – one where “faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an overarching philosophical system.”[27] This was in contrast to the principle of sola scriptura, which “sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as originally found in the biblical Word.”[28] Even after the dehellenization of the Reformation, we find the convergence between the ancient Greeks and Christianity carried through the Enlightenment and into the modern world as a powerful impulse. Immanuel Kant, one of the most important thinkers in Western history, “stated that he needed to set thinking aside in order to make room for faith,” where he “anchored faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to reality as a whole.”[29]

In response to Myatt’s question then, we find that the complex relation between faith and reason has a similarly complex history with respect to the ancient Greek worldview and Christianity. In that history, the demarcation between logos as reason and logos as faith becomes blurred, which undermines its role in distinguishing the ancient Greek worldview from its Christian counterpart. On this point, Pope Benedict XVI says the following:

[D]espite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom literature. Today we know that the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced at Alexandria – the Septuagint – is more than a simple (and in that sense really less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: it is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christianity. A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, an encounter between genuine enlightenment and religion. From the very heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought now joined to faith, Manuel II [Paleologus] was able to say: Not to act “with logos” is contrary to God’s nature.[30]

Thus, in many respects the ONA is a response to a very old and long-standing dialogue between faith and reason, directed through the ancient Hellenic role of the vita contemplativa as the highest human activity, one that directly informs action. To return to the aforesaid question concerning a “movement away” from the ONA’s roots in extremism and politics with respect to Fenrir, it should be noted that this emphasis on contemplation is not meant to replace the three activities of the vita activa; it is meant to inform them by restoring a direct line of communication between how the transformative and ecstatic experiences of the ONA – such as those catalyzed by the Grade Rituals of the Seven-Fold Way – shape the way we inhabit and interact with the world.[31] With respect to the ONA, contemplation is specifically meant to inform plurality as the condition of action, where plurality and action also inform contemplation. Attempting to exclude one over the other is to misunderstand this relation, which sadly continues to occur both within the ONA and by its opponents. Insofar as action as the condition for plurality is political, so too are the ONA and Fenrir in this respect. However, Fenrir’s “movement away” from politics concerns a movement away from the substitution of action for contemplation, which involves a breakdown of the relation between the vita activa and the vita contemplativa. We find this breakdown in almost every major socio-political outlet in the world, which fail to take this complex historical shift into account – a shift that has made possible various developments in the modern world.

With respect to Fenrir’s movement away from extremism, Pope Benedict XVI’s comments regarding the topic of violent religious conversion ring true here. In a dialogue between “the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam,”[32] the Pope recounts how:

The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. “God,” he says, “is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably (σὺν λόγω) is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…”[33]

In closing, one should recall that Fenrir remains – and will remain for the foreseeable future – a journal of Satanism and the Sinister; and this should, at the very least, give one pause in considering how to interpret what has been said here: that the outer boundaries demarcating the true nature of the Order of Nine Angles are deeply hidden, complex, and discoverable only through years of difficult ordeals, careful navigation, and – most importantly – contemplation informed by plurality and action. The upcoming edition’s underlying themes of alterity, empathy, and practical sinister magick speak to this in a powerful way.

Home! and with them are gone
The hues they gazed on and the tones they heard;
Life’s beauty and life’s melody: — alone
Broods o’er the desolate void, the lifeless word;
Yet rescued from time’s deluge, still they throng
Unseen the Pindus they were wont to cherish:
All, that which gains immortal life in song,
To mortal life must perish!
– Friedrich Schiller, “The Gods of Greece”

Nameless Therein
Scothorn Nexion
Sun in Pisces, March 13, 2022
2775 ab urbe condita
 

NOTES

[1] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), 27.

[2] Hannah Arendt identifies the vita contemplativa with the ancient Greek bios theōrētikos. See Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 2nd ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1958), 14. Regarding the role of contemplation in the ancient Greek world, Arendt characterizes it as follows: “and the life of the philosopher devoted to inquiry into, and contemplation of, things eternal, whose everlasting beauty can neither be brought about through the producing interference of man nor be changed through his consumption of them.” Arendt, Human Condition, 13.

[3] Hannah Arendt’s history with Heidegger is complex and will not be explored here. See, for example, Antonia Grunenberg, Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger: History of Love, trans. Peg Birmingham, Kristina Lebedeva, and Elizabeth von Witzke Birmingham (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017). What is important for our purposes is that in addition to having studied under him directly, Heidegger had a profound influence on Arendt’s thought. Lewis and Sandra Hinchman note, for example, that “[r]eading Arendt’s few comments on Heidegger, one would scarcely imagine what a vast, pervasive influence he had upon her.” They add that “[t]he stamp of Heideggerian thinking is especially noticeable in three elements of Arendt’s work: the status of her elaborate system of distinctions and concepts, her approach to language, and her interpretation of action as self-revelation.” Lewis P. Hinchman and Sandra K. Hinchman, “In Heidegger’s Shadow: Hannah Arendt’s Phenomenological Humanism,” The Review of Politics 46, no. 2 (April 1984): 196.

[4] Arendt, Human Condition, 8.

[5] Ibid., 7.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., 9.

[8] This is consistent with the fact that the condition of action is plurality, since it is the plurality of human beings that constitutes the domain of the political.

[9] Arendt, Human Condition, 289. The full quote is as follows:

Perhaps the most momentous of the spiritual consequences of the discoveries of the modern age and, at the same time, the only one that could not have been avoided, since it followed closely upon the discovery of the Archimedean point and the concomitant rise of Cartesian doubt, has been the reversal of the hierarchical order between the vita contemplativa and the vita activa.

[10] See Arendt, Human Condition, 12: “The term vita activa is loaded and overloaded with tradition. It is as old as (but not older than) our tradition of political thought. And this tradition, far from comprehending and conceptualizing all the political experiences of Western mankind, grew out of a specific historical constellation: the trial of Socrates and the conflict between the philosopher and the polis.”

[11] Arendt does not address contemplation at length in The Human Condition, as she is interested in the historical shifts that have to do with labor, work, and action. However, regarding the shift from the vita activa to the vita contemplativa, in addition to the difference between contemplation and thought, the following comments may be helpful:

With the disappearance of the ancient city-state—Augustine seems to have been the last to know at least what it once meant to be a citizen—the term vita activa lost its specifically political meaning and denoted all kinds of active engagement in the things of this world. To be sure, it does not follow that work and labor had risen in the hierarchy of human activities and were now equal in dignity with a life devoted to politics. It was, rather, the other way round: action was now also reckoned among the necessities of earthly life, so that contemplation (the bios theōrētikos, translated into the vita contemplativa) was left as the only truly free way of life. (Arendt, The Human Condition, 14)

[12] Arendt, Human Condition, 14.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid., 14-15.

[17] Ibid., 15.

[18] David Myatt, “Introduction,” in “Classical Paganism and the Christian Ethos,” 2nd ed. (self-pub., 2017).

[19] Myatt, “Introduction.”

[20] See Pope Benedict XVI, “Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections” (speech, Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany, September 12, 2006). A transcript of the speech can be found at www.vatican.va.

[21] Pope Benedict XVI, “Faith.” Interestingly, Pope Benedict XVI also addresses faith and reason with respect to the relation between Christianity and Islam. Recalling part of a dialogue carried on “by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam,” he notes “the truth of both,” adding that:

It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur’an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between – as they were called – three “Laws” or “rules of life”: the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur’an.

[22] Cf. Acts 16:6-10

[23] Pope Benedict XVI, “Faith.”

[24] Ibid.

[25] With respect to the convergence between the ancient Greek world and Christianity, Pope Benedict XVI observes the following:

This inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance, not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history – it is an event which concerns us even today. Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, finally took on its historically decisive character in Europe. We can also express this the other way around: this convergence [between the ancient Greek world and Christianity], with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe and remains the foundation of what can rightly be called Europe. (Pope Benedict XVI, “Faith”)

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] The question of how we interact with others in the world, particularly with respect to the relation between plurality, action, and community, is a theme relevant to my forthcoming article for the upcoming edition of Fenrir, which concerns alterity (our relation to the other).

[32] Pope Benedict XVI, “Faith.” The Pope notes that this dialogue may have occurred in 1391, “in the winter barracks near Ankara.”

[33] Ibid.


Wonder, Alterity, and the Immemorial as Devotional Candor in the ONA

Posted: March 10th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Acausal Theory, Alchemy, David Myatt, Fenrir, Inner ONA, O9A, O9A Nine Angles, Occultism, Order of Nine Angles, The Sinister Tradition, The Sinisterly Numinous Tradition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Wonder, Alterity, and the Immemorial as Devotional Candor in the ONA

Visitation

– Jacopo da Pontormo, Visitation, c. 1528-1529

Wonder, Alterity, and the Immemorial as Devotional Candor in the ONA

[Posted here: https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/03/18/wonder-alterity-and-the-immemorial-as-devotional-candor-in-the-ona/]

Much like the Order of Nine Angles, the ideas that have shaped the Western tradition are characterized by what Aristotle identified as wonder. This sense of dispositional awe in the face of an incomprehensible mystery – what Rudolf Otto, in one of the most widely read German theological works of the twentieth century,[1] famously characterized as mysterium tremendum et fascinans, “a mystery that inspires dread and fascination simultaneously”[2] ­­– marks an enduring response to the way we inhabit and orient ourselves in the world.

This “solitary and silent ‘residence’ of wonder”[3] finds shelter in a wide history of Western thought. In the Theaetetus, Plato describes wonder (thaumazein) “as the beginning or archê of philosophy.”[4] Aristotle describes this with respect to the way we begin (archontai) by wondering (thaumazein) whether things are as they seem.[5] We find these “beginnings” reiterated powerfully in the Renaissance Platonists, who were “[h]eirs to late ancient and medieval Christianity” and stressed “the epistemological or ontological status of miracles, thus exploring the cognitive side of amazement and the metaphysical side of any sort of spiritual intervention”;[6] in works of the early thirteenth century, such as those of the English nobleman Gervase of Tilbury, who outlined “three categories of wonderful things”;[7] through the exploration of magic in the Middle Ages and early modern period as an “enquiry into the wonderful”;[8] and in many other major Western figures, such as Plotinus, St. Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Pascal, Thomas Hobbes, John Milton, Malebranche, Spinoza, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Kant. In fact, it was Kant who famously remarked how two things fill the mind with wonder: the starry sky above and the moral law within.[9]

All of these explorations of wonder share in common an “attitudinal change which occurred in the European history of ideas,” one in which “a radically new way of approaching reality evolved.”[10] In a similar spirit, we are witnessing a radical new way of approaching reality in terms of the ONA’s evolution. In addition to an attitudinal change in the ideas that have shaped the tradition, one can sense a change in the climate that informs the ONA’s praxis. From the flashpoint of the “noise,”[11] gossip, and interpersonal infighting that have occurred for decades at its outskirts, we now find reflected in its collective exoskeleton what has always remained hidden in its esoteric heart: a relationality or plurality that becomes “visible” when this sense of wonder comports one utterly beyond rational comprehension, one that is acknowledged in our fundamental relation to the other. In the ONA, this relation is embodied in transformative action through empathy; and in such a way that it cannot be reduced to the self or comprehension.[12]

Through wonder and in the face of modernity, the ONA attempts to explore “what was lost in the destruction of our capability to be astonished and perplexed.”[13] As Jacques Taminiaux notes, this wonder or thaumazein is enduring,[14] driving the way the ONA’s philosophy informs its praxis and how this carries over into concrete experience. As one embarks on a journey leading to radical transformation with respect to the incomprehensible alterity or otherness of the world, one discovers what David Myatt, in reference to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, cites as a “wordless-awareness,” which he connects to empathy in the Corpus Hermeticum.[15] Myatt’s point regarding “a mortal apprehension that Being, and certain beings, are not or cannot be subject to, nor explainable, in terms of causality”[16] is analogous to the fact that our fundamental relation to the other through empathy cannot be reduced to comprehension. Rather than comprehended or understood, it is acknowledged or “apprehended” through the practice of simple but difficult primordial experiences leading to transformation. Thus – and this point is sometimes overlooked – in addition to its philosophy, the ONA also requires practice.

As that which directs this wordless-awareness in relation to empathy as a fundamental relation to the other, we find that wonder is not just enduring but what Jean-Luc Nancy calls the immemorial: a kind of excess or overflowing that resists memorialization or being made into a monument. As a vital collective presence spanning a plethora of ancient and modern traditions, the ONA exceeds itself, having neither definitive leadership nor singular authority. In some respects, its enduring wonder “never commemorates”[17] – it is not a monument to the past, nor does it memorialize. And yet, what Nancy says of the immemorial equally applies to the ONA from its past to present day: it is “what is infinitely ancient and thus definitively present.”[18] In its cathartic practice and tragic revelation, the ONA speaks to something timeless and yet concretely present in the world. The mysteries it promises are systematically attainable through practical action. And while they remain intimately hidden and out of reach as an irreducible opacity – something ungraspable, even to the self – they are nevertheless not beyond the world but “present right here.”[19] In the value of what it reveals, in its timeless mystery, and in its solemn yet enduring visitation, the ONA is “what is never to be seen or said, but toward which one does not cease to move – and that is the immemorial.”[20] In much the same way that the immemorial frees itself from memorialization through its own excess, so too does wonder free the ONA from becoming yet another internet relic, one crystalized in history as a blueprint for what could have been, lost to future generations as a curious irrelevance. With the changing seasons and as we look from earth to sky for guidance, I remain optimistic that what Nancy says of the immemorial may serve as a kind of ongoing augury for the future of the ONA: “[that it is] always to come again like the return of a past more ancient than any past, its visitation always reprised in a movement in which the surface itself rises up, billowing and leaping out.”[21] Whether this “billowing and leaping out” will prove to be a hex or a haruspex remains to be seen.

In closing, I would like to note that it is this spirit of wonder that will motivate the upcoming and future editions of Fenrir, the ONA’s journal of Satanism and the Sinister. This article will be published in slightly revised form in the upcoming edition and is meant to serve as an introduction to some of the themes that will be addressed in more detail there – themes such as alterity, empathy, and sinister magick. As editor of the journal, I should also note that I have an important announcement, which will be revealed in the very near future. I would like to conclude with an excerpt from a message I recently wrote to a friend and well-known ONA associate, one that I think will prove timely, relevant, and interesting for our best and brightest:

[…] whether running Fenrir or having a wide influence on the ONA in a public capacity, one cannot let transparent emotions inform the opaque intentions motivating what others say. The ONA is beyond personal affectation or judgment, beyond you and I, beyond even its founders. Over the last decade of involvement with the ONA and the Seven-Fold Way, I have witnessed some of the most painful and transformative experiences of my life shape something radically ineffable, melancholic, cathartic, serene. In that “something,” which is utterly intangible and yet directs everything we do, I found a presence worth dying for; and, more importantly, worth living for – authentically and with integrity. It is my hope that […] you see the value in devotional candor, in submitting to something beyond the self, something absolute and incomprehensible.

Four Witches

– Albrecht Dürer, The Four Witches, 1497

Nameless Therein
Scothorn Nexion
Moon in Gemini, March 9, 2022
2775 ab urbe condita

NOTES

[1] Todd A. Gooch, The Numinous and Modernity: An Interpretation of Rudolf Otto’s Philosophy of Religion (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2000), 1. The text referred to here is Otto’s Das Heilige: Über das Irrationale in der Idee des Göttlichen und sein Verhältnis zum Rationalen (1917), commonly known by its shortened English title, The Idea of the Holy.

[2] Ibid., 2.

[3] David Bollert, “The Wonder of the Philosopher and the Citizen: Plato, Aristotle, and Heidegger” (PhD diss., Boston College, 2005), 2.

[4] Ibid., 3. The reference to wonder in Plato’s Theaetetus occurs at 155c-d.

[5] Ibid., 93. See Aristotle’s Metaphysics, 983a12-13.

[6] Elisabeth Blum and Paul Richard Blum, “Wonder and Wondering in the Renaissance,” in Philosophy Begins in Wonder: An Introduction to Early Modern Philosophy, Theology and Science, ed. by Michael Funk Deckard and Péter Losonczi (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co, 2011), 1.

[7] Koen Vermeir, “Wonder, Magic, and Natural Philosophy: The Disenchantment Thesis Revisited,” in Philosophy Begins in Wonder, 45. These three categories are characterized by “things we consider unheard of,” sometimes through variations in nature, “at which we marvel”; by things whose cause is unknown and thus “inscrutable to us”; and by “customary experiences” that differ from others.

[8] Ibid., 51. Vermeir here lists two philosophers of this period with respect to the relation between magic and wonder: the Protestant philosopher Heinrich Alsted (1588-1638), who wrote that “magic is the art which is concerned with wondrous effects [apotelesmas], commonly known as incredible”; and the Jesuit scholar Gaspar Schott (1608-1666), who defined magic as “whatever is marvellous and goes beyond the sense and comprehension of the common man.”

[9] Dennis J. Schmidt, “Thank Goodness for the Atmosphere: Reflections on the Starry Sky and the Moral Law,” Research in Phenomenology 50 (2020), 370.

[10] Péter Losonczi and Michael Funk Deckard, “Introduction,” in Philosophy Begins in Wonder, xvii.

[11] Despite a few interesting ideas and an appetite for vital experience, I find Crowley’s writings and way of thinking problematic on a number of grounds. That said, something he wrote in Magick without Tears is relevant here: “You ask me what is, at the present time, the greatest obstacle to human progress. I answer in one word: NOISE.” Aleister Crowley, Magick without Tears, ed. Israel Regardie (St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1973), 125. See chapter 14, “Noise.”

[12] Part of the mystery of this esoteric dynamic lies in the twofold sense in which the relation to the other arises from the ONA’s emphasis on the individual as a means to empathy, and how this acknowledgement actualizes itself at the level of transformative experience (which occurs individually but exceeds the individual).

[13] Losonczi and Deckard, “Introduction,” xxv.

[14] Bollert, “The Wonder of the Philosopher,” 3.

[15] David Myatt, “Chapter Two,” in “Classical Paganism and the Christian Ethos,” 2nd ed. (self-pub., 2017). See the section, “An Appreciation of Acausality” in addition to the subsequent section, “A Mortal Wordless-Awareness.” The reference here is specifically to “the activity of theos … [as] a wordless-awareness.” His reference to empathy in connection to this worldless-awareness pertains to tractate VIII of the Corpus Hermeticum.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Jean-Luc Nancy, “Visitation: Of Christian Painting,” chap. 8 in The Ground of the Image, trans. Jeff Fort (New York: Fordham University Press, 2005), 108.

[18] Ibid., 116.

[19] Ibid., 109. On pp. 108-109 Nancy says: “On this side of or beyond the memorial, that is, beyond or on this side of the self and of what can be subjectivized: the hereafter or the other world (death, in that sense), not outside the world but present right here.”

[20] Ibid., 111.

[21] Ibid., 118.