Auribus Teneo Lupum: Alterity and Ethical Diastasis in the Dyssolving of the Wolf

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Avribvs Teneo Lvpvm:

Alterity and Ethical Diastasis in the Dyssolving of the Wolf[1]

by Nameless Therein

Reposted from Lux Lycaonis

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the face

 

Any crewmen who ate the lotus, the honey-sweet fruit,
lost all desire to send a message back, much less return,
their only wish to linger there with the Lotus-eaters,
grazing on lotus, all memory of the journey home
dissolved forever. But I brought them back, back
to the hollow ships, and streaming tears – I forced them,
hauled them under the rowing benches, lashed them fast
and shouted out commands to my other, steady comrades:
‘Quick, no time to lose, embark in the racing ships!’ –
so none could eat the lotus, forget the voyage home.
They swung aboard at once, they sat to the oars in ranks
and in rhythm churned the water white with stroke on stroke.

Homer, The Odyssey 9.106–117[2]

Auribus teneo lupum: I hold a wolf by the ears. The proverbial expression comes from the Carthaginian-born Roman playwright Publius Terentius Afer, better known as Terence. As one of the originators of European comic drama, Terence’s six comedies are based on Greek models known as “fabulae palliatae,” or “plays in a Greek cloak [pallium].”[3] Among these, we find the expression “auribus teneo lupum” in his fourth comedy Phormio, which is based on the lesser-known play The Claimant by Apollodorus of Carystus.[4] At lines 506-507 in Phormio, Antipho, the son of Demipho, says to the slave-trader Dorio: “auribus teneo lupum: nam neque quo pacto a me amittam neque uti retineam scio.”[5] This can be translated as “I’ve got a wolf by the ears, as they say, can’t let go and can’t hold on.”[6] An alternative translation renders this as “I’m holding the proverbial wolf by the ears. I don’t know how to let go or how to hold on to her.”[7][8]

Indeed, much like the title of the Fenrir journal, the “proverbial wolf” points to a duality present at various levels of complexity, one that deepens its meaning as it returns to a dynamic point of self-reference. Commonly understood, the duality of holding a wolf by the ears is illustrated by a twofold risk: in either case, letting the wolf go or continuing to hold it by its ears will prove fatal. One is thus paralyzed by inaction and yet must act, torn between two polarities that will ensure harm regardless of one’s action.

We can trace this cursory understanding of the aforesaid duality of the wolf to deeper levels of complexity. At one level, we find a similar dynamic paralleled in many of Terence’s plays. As John Barsby notes with respect to Phormio, “As with most of Terence’s plays, the plot is double, involving two fathers and two sons; the two halves are united by the close associations of all of the characters.”[9] Beyond the text, we find this theme paralleled in relation to the Fenrir journal through its allusion to the climate of opposition, emergent potential, and creative momentum that prompted the journal’s revival. At another level, we can trace it to the broader historical horizon of Fenrir as a whole, from past to present. In some sense, this duality has functioned as a healthy catalyst for the journal’s survival, directing it into a domain of opposition that has motivated its reception. At another level, it has served that role with respect to the Order of Nine Angles itself, pointing to the latter’s Labyrinthos Mythologicus. This is not, however, a childish sense of the reactionary. Rather, as a twofold risk resting on primal adversity, we find that the wolf is as beholden to us as we are to it.

More than beholden, the possibility of death from holding the ears of the wolf points to a shift from duality to relationality. We find this shift centered in a long-standing dialogue within twentieth-century Continental thought, most notably in the fields of phenomenology, relational ontology, existentialism, deconstruction, and theology. In the phenomenological and ontological vein, we find figures like Alfred Schutz, Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Jean-Luc Nancy; in the existentialist vein, Martin Buber has made notable contributions; in the deconstructionist camp, Jacques Derrida explores this issue in terms of the [O]ther or alterity; and in the theological vein, Jean-Luc Marion draws this out in his own way. In an effort to recontextualize this dialogue within the tradition of the Order of Nine Angles, the purpose of this article will be to examine the shift to relationality in the work of Emmanuel Levinas, specifically with respect to his analysis of our relation to the [O]ther[10] as a response to Heidegger’s ontology. Here, as in the work of Levinas, our relation to the [O]ther concerns what is referred to as alterity, which has to do with otherness and the [O]ther in general as something that is in some sense “more” or “other” than the self. For Levinas and in response to Heidegger, this relation constitutes the most fundamental level of human experience, constitution, and identity, one that precedes ontology.

What follows is an examination of some of the dynamics and tensions Levinas brings to light concerning this relation, especially in works like Totality and Infinity. I attempt to illustrate how these dynamics and tensions are operative at the heart of the Order of Nine Angles in a hidden and more or less unexamined way. In hermeneutic fashion and in a spirit appropriate for Fenrir, I center this under a hermeneutic theme I refer to as the dyssolving of the duality of the wolf. That theme involves an interplay between Terence’s “auribus teneo lupum” and the notion of lupus non mordet lupum – how a wolf does not bite another wolf. I attempt to demonstrate how the two can be paired through Levinas’ analysis of relationality and alterity, thereby dyssolving the duality highlighted by Terence and revealing it to be an artificial construction or illusion to begin with. I then center this within the Order of Nine Angles to make visible certain features of a deeper lens of reality at its core, features which remain invisible, hidden, opaque, and unseen.

In drawing out these dynamics and tensions, I would like to note that my approach – in terms of writing, language, and analysis – is consistent with a style of French Continental and hermeneutic thought that was resistant to what is sometimes referred to as parisianism. Parisianism is related to a style of philosophy that emerged from the Annales school of thought in early twentieth-century France. It is characterized by treating argument as a series of assertions and counter-assertions, paired with hyperbolic, fact-based claims pushed to great extremes. By contrast, my approach resists a structured, fact-based argument in favor of hermeneutic analysis, which is meant to illuminate certain truths that are not directly expressible in propositional terms. This hermeneutic approach operates by forming a healthy rather than vicious circle – much like the primordial ouroboros – through a movement beyond strictly logical or rational thought. By drawing out hidden paradoxes and aporias and then using their tension to reveal a hidden resolution, I attempt to disclose the relation to alterity that Levinas brings to light. In this lighting up of world, this savage visibility, I aim to help others make the invisible visible within themselves, within the world, and within the ONA.

Levinas, Ethics, and the Face of the Other

Whether considered in the phenomenological, ontological, existentialist, deconstructionist, or theological schools of twentieth-century Continental thought, the issue of the [O]ther is perhaps most pronounced in the work of Emmanuel Levinas. Levinas was one of the most important French thinkers of the twentieth century and was deeply indebted to the work of Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, and Martin Heidegger, who worked as Husserl’s assistant for a time. He played a major role in the transition of phenomenology from Germany to France. Having taken courses with Husserl and Heidegger, his first published textbooks were devoted to the work of both these thinkers. With respect to Heidegger, Levinas described Being and Time as “one of the greatest books in the history of philosophy.”[11] With respect to Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, Levinas “[described] himself as a phenomenologist and as being faithful to the spirit of Husserl.”[12][13] Although in early writings like Totality and Infinity Levinas incorporates the ontological language of Heidegger’s Being and Time in order to exceed those ontological categories and overturn ontology,[14] he nevertheless argues in favor of something that is more fundamental than ontology, something which he calls “ethics” – ethics as first philosophy.

Levinas’ use of the term “ethics” differs from its traditional moral sense.[15] Here, ethics “is neither a code of rules nor the study of reasoning about how we ought to act.”[16] Rather, it concerns a fundamental relationship with alterity, a relation to the [O]ther that is more fundamental than ontology, understood as “a relation of infinite responsibility to the other person.”[17] Although ethics for Levinas is not “a theory of justice or an account of general rules, principles and procedures that would allow us to assess the acceptability of specific maxims or judgements relating to social action, civic duty or whatever,” he may have been trying “to give an account of a basic existential demand, a lived fundamental obligation that should be at the basis of all moral theory and moral action.”[18] The point here is that while Levinas’ use of “ethics” does not concern morality or a moral sense, our relation to the [O]ther is so fundamental that it can be thought to serve as a condition for the possibility of all moral theory and moral action. “Ethics” in terms of morality, right and wrong, or normative action – what we should or should not do – is essentially an epistemological domain, which concerns knowledge and the conditions for knowledge. Ontology on Heidegger’s account, which concerns [B]eing, precedes epistemology. It is more fundamental and serves as a condition for the possibility of knowledge.[19] Heidegger’s overturning of the historical priority given to epistemology over ontology is one thing that makes his seminal work Being and Time so important and revolutionary. It is also why Levinas calls it “one of the greatest books in the history of philosophy.”[20] However, Levinas’ thought was just as revolutionary. He demonstrates how “ethics” as a fundamental relation to the [O]ther precedes even ontology. It precedes epistemology and ontology. Thus, if there is any moral sense to Levinas’ use of “ethics,” it is only in terms of our fundamental relation to the [O]ther serving as the potential basis for the formation of any moral theory or moral action as the deepest level of human constitution. My usage of “ethics” regarding the ONA is consistent with this non-moral and constitutive sense. Levinas describes his usage in the following way, which concerns the relation between what he calls the Same[21] or the self and the [O]ther:

A calling into question [mise en question] of the same [or self] – which cannot occur [se faire] within the egoistic spontaneity of the same – is brought about [se fait] by the other [l’Autre]. We name this calling into question of my spontaneity by the presence of the Other [Autrui] ethics. The strangeness of the Other, his irreducibility to the I [Moi], to my thoughts and my possessions, is precisely accomplished [s’accomplit] as a calling into question of my spontaneity, as ethics. Metaphysics, transcendence, the welcoming of the other by the same, of the Other by me, is concretely produced [se produit] as the calling into question of the same by the other, that is, as the ethics that accomplishes [accomplit] the critical essence of knowledge.[22]

Here, ethics as the “calling into question of my spontaneity by the presence of the Other” is tightly linked to what Levinas calls “metaphysics,” which he also uses in an unconventional way. Whereas ethics is the “calling into question,” metaphysics is the “welcoming of the other by the same” or the self. Just as Heidegger overturned a traditional and positivistic model that prioritized epistemology over ontology, so too did Levinas overturn ontology with ethics and metaphysics, defined in relation to the [O]ther so described. Once again, whereas Heidegger shows how ontology precedes epistemology, Levinas shows that ethics and metaphysics precede ontology. As Levinas says, “And as critique precedes dogmatism, metaphysics precedes ontology.”[23] Our relation to the [O]ther, both with respect to the “calling into question of … [our] own spontaneity by the presence of the Other” in the case of ethics and with respect to the “welcoming of the other by the same” in the case of metaphysics, constitutes one of the deepest domains of human identity and reality.

For Levinas, the ethical subject is “an embodied being of flesh and blood.”[24] Ethics as a relation to the [O]ther is thus not an abstraction but “lived in the sensibility of an embodied exposure to the other,” whereby the “deep structure of subjective experience … is structured in a relation of responsibility or … responsivity to the other … [which calls] me to respond.”[25] Levinas’ main idea is that our relation to the [O]ther cannot be reduced to comprehension or understanding. The strangeness of the [O]ther must be preserved in its strangeness without being reduced to the “I” (the self) or what Levinas calls the “Same.” As an ethical relation, it structures the experience of our sense of self or subject.[26] For Levinas, an ethical relation “is one where I face the other person.”[27] In turn, his task to describe a relation to the [O]ther that “cannot be reduced to comprehension” is found in what he calls a “face-to-face” relation. On this point, Levinas says that “[t]he way in which the other presents himself, exceeding the idea of the other in me, we here name face.”[28]

Speaking, Seeing, Silence

For Levinas, this “face-to-face” relation with the [O]ther “is not a relation of perception or vision, but is always linguistic.” That is, “The face is not something I see, but something I speak to.”[29] It is an irreducible relation that “makes possible the pluralism of society.”[30] Levinas thus emphasizes sound over light and sight in this relation. On this point, Derrida notes that “Levinas places sound above light” specifically in the sense in which Levinas views thought as language, one that “is thought in an element analogous to sound and not to light.”[31] Elaborating on the relation between the eye and sight in juxtaposition to Levinas, Derrida quotes an incisive passage from Hegel:

If we ask ourselves now in which particular organ the soul appears as such in its entirety we shall at once point to the eye. For in the eye the soul concentrates itself; it not merely uses the eye as its instrument, but is itself therein manifest. We have, however, already stated, when referring to the external covering of the human body, that in contrast with the bodies of animals, the heart of life pulses through and throughout it. And in much the same sense it can be asserted of art that it has to invent every point of the external appearance into the direct testimony of the human eye, which is the source of soul-life, and reveals spirit.[32]

In contrast to Hegel, Levinas’ emphasis on speaking rather than seeing the [O]ther reveals a potential connection to Martin Buber’s description of “a silence which is communication.”[33] Buber notes that silence can take the form of speaking, where a conversation can be had without a sound or gesture: “[s]peech can renounce all the media of sense, and [yet] it is still speech.”[34] This, he says, is not the “lover’s tender silence” or a mystical silence whereby we “[take our] stand in the reflection of the divine Face”;[35] rather, this silence takes shape as a silence that one “bears … to his neighbour”:[36]

Unreservedly communication streams from him, and the silence bears it to his neighbour. Indeed it was intended for him, and he receives it unreservedly as he receives all genuine destiny that meets him. He will be able to tell no one, not even himself, what he has experienced. What does he now “know” of the other? No more knowing is needed. For where unreserve has ruled, even wordlessly, between men, the word of dialogue has happened sacramentally.[37]

We thus find that the face of the [O]ther is spoken to, not seen; and in speaking, one engages in a relation to the [O]ther that is not a stance “in the reflection of the divine Face”[38] – Levinas is not claiming that the [O]ther is God, but in fact substitutes the [O]ther for God[39] – but a concrete act or practice, where one does not contemplate but converses, focusing on “the particular individual in front of me.”[40] Buber’s account demonstrates how this conversation can occur silently, where silence becomes our way of speaking. In conversing with our neighbor through silence, one comes to “speak” without speaking. Likewise in Levinas, in speaking to the face rather than seeing it, one comes to “see” without seeing. Where no more knowing is needed, as a dialogue happening sacramentally – as “‘expression’, ‘invocation’, and ‘prayer’”[41] – and in the call of the [O]ther to respond, we reach acknowledgement.[42] It is in this seeing without seeing, this speaking without speaking, that we come to speak not just face-to-face but see eye-to-eye. This acknowledgement unfolds primally into empathy, and there the duality of the wolf dyssolves. It dyssolves into a relation. And in the reception of all genuine destiny that meets us, this relation always already was and always already is: Wyrd. No longer do I hold a wolf by the ears. Now lupus non mordet lupum: a wolf does not bite a wolf. We become more than a neighbor to the [O]ther; we become a brother and sister, a father and mother, a son and daughter, extending our dynamic point of self-reference to a relation of infinite responsibility.

Alterity, Diastasis, and Dyssolving in the Order of Nine Angles

In some respects, the Order of Nine Angles has lost touch with this conversation, this sacramental dialogue, impaled on the horns of a dilemma: on the one hand, the irreducible and incomprehensible transformations that Hebdomadry and the Seven-Fold Way are capable of catalyzing connect us through living action to the “speaking or calling or listening to the other” Levinas describes.[43] Even as a solitary path, our “[O]ther” finds its voice in physis, where nature’s solemn triumph becomes the banner upon which that calling occurs – and not as mere reflection or mere abstraction, but as an active and existential engagement in a “non-subsumptive relation.”[44] On the other hand, as a solitary path this engagement resembles the silence Buber describes – a silent communication where the voice of the [O]ther in physis takes on the voice of destiny through Wyrd, and where the silence of our conversation reaches a depth where it cannot help but be spoken and yet cannot be fully heard: Wyrd rather than word describes it, and its utterance is ineffable.[45]

The Wolf, Physis, and Wyrd in the Empire of the Same

The aforesaid dilemma thus rests on a kind of diastasis or separation. Transformation involves a relation between this seeing eye-to-eye without “speaking” (where silence becomes our way of speaking) and speaking face-to-face without seeing (where sound is emphasized over light and sight). However, the two are inadvertently pulled apart with respect to how the ONA engages in conversation. Much like the duality of the wolf described above, where in holding a wolf by the ears we attempt to reduce the wolf to the self (attempting to understand, evaluate, and comprehend what the wolf may or may not do from the vantage point of the self), so too does the ONA create an artificial duality in separating the solitary act of transformation from the ethical act of conversation. In both cases, we attempt to preserve the [O]ther as [O]ther – as an object of knowledge or experience – where that knowledge “is always my knowledge” and where experience is “always my experience.” That object, whether as wolf or physis or Wyrd, “is encountered only in so far as it exists for me,” which immediately diminishes its alterity.[46] In the ONA, there may be conversing but seldom conversation. This is a problem, because conversation as a relationship with alterity, an opening to the enigmatic world, and an acknowledgement of the strangeness of the [O]ther is the condition for all transformation. It is the basis for the self to encounter something other than itself. Along these lines and in contradistinction to the typical usage of terminology within the ONA, we might thus say that the terror of the alienness and strangeness and alterity of the [O]ther – the acknowledgement when face-to-face and eye-to-eye with the wolf that neither she nor the danger she poses can be comprehended or reduced to the self – may be properly called the “sinister” in the ONA; while the sense of “something-outside-everything” as transcendence, exteriority, or what Levinas calls infinity in relation to the [O]ther may be properly called the “numinous.”

Contrary to what is commonly thought in many esoteric traditions, this “pulling apart” or diastasis does not result in dyssolving. It results in an artificial duality. Regardless of whether we attempt to substitute the wolf, physis, or Wyrd for the [O]ther, insofar as they are always an object of my knowledge and my experience, encountered only insofar as they exist for me,[47] we are reducing the [O]ther to the Same (or self). Here, the [O]ther appears as “a temporary interruption to be eliminated as it is incorporated into or reduced to sameness.” [48] The Same essentially attempts to “incorporate … that which lies outside it.”[49] Whereas Husserlian phenomenology “establishes the Ego as the source of all meaning and knowledge,” and whereas in Heidegger the relation of “beings to Being entails the exclusion of anything that might lie outside that relation,” Levinas was working against the idea of philosophy as an “egology,”[50] one that acknowledges the [O]ther only in order to suppress or possess it, “asserting the primacy of the self, the Same, the subject or Being.”[51] Though the ONA also works against this sense of “egology”, so long as the [O]ther is still operating “within the empire of sameness,” there remains a sense in which “the Other is only other in a restricted sense,”[52] as in the case of the wolf, physis, and Wyrd.

Contra Egology: Empathy and Pathei-Mathos as Ethical Relation to the [O]ther

Although the ONA falls victim to the reduction of the [O]ther to the Same in certain respects, at its heart it does attempt to resist this reduction. In its transformative underbelly, its receptivity to nature, its overarching openness, its dynamic malleability, and its emphasis on empathy it attempts to restore that sense of thinking the [O]ther as [O]ther, reaching an acknowledgement and recognizing its strangeness without reducing it to comprehension. Though it does place emphasis on the individual in several respects – individual experience, individual transformation, individual authority, and pathei-mathos as a learning from personal experience – it does so with respect to the cultivation of empathy as a relation to the [O]ther. Empathy is the primary way one relates to the [O]ther in the ONA, and pathei-mathos plays a role in informing how one directs oneself with respect to that relation. This relation is so fundamental that without it there would be no possibility of transformation or even the possibility of a relation to the self.[53] The ONA’s emphasis on empathy aims at “discovering the irreducibility of the alterity of the Other” as the only means through which I can come to understand that “I am neither solipsistically alone in the world nor part of a totality to which all others also belong.” Nothing can precede or take priority over the ethical relation to the [O]ther because it “characterizes human relations at their most basic level.”[54] That the ONA is aware of this, and that empathy steered by pathei-mathos is a crucible upon which so much hangs, points to its underlying core as deeply ethical in nature. It is unfortunate that so many individuals associating with the ONA have misunderstood this point at the most basic level.

Enantiodromia, Dyssolving, Revealing

Here again we find a parallel to the hermeneutic theme of the dyssolving of the duality of the wolf, one that references and deepens itself across a recurrent matrix of meaning. On the one hand, the ONA emphasizes pathei-mathos with respect to the individual and personal experience. But it does so in conjunction with empathy, where pathei-mathos is a form of empathic living.[55] Pathei-mathos thus targets our “separation-of-otherness” or our separation from the [O]ther, and along with empathy attempts to restore our relation to other human beings.[56] David Myatt describes the process of enantiodromia as a revealing of the separation-of-otherness returning to the wholeness or unity it came from.[57] Anton Long describes this as “a type of confrontational context whereby what has been separated becomes bound together again [united] enabling the genesis of a new type of being.”[58] The ONA’s emphasis on the individual and solitary practice thus does not point to a clear division between the self (or Same) and the [O]ther – not a duality – but rather a way of preserving their independence while still maintaining an irreducible and fundamental relation to one another.[59]

Here, we find a deeper esoteric sense of the dyssolving of the duality of the wolf: what “dissolves” is neither the self nor the [O]ther, as the two are not simply annihilated, abolished, or reduced to one another in order to eliminate their duality. Rather, the mystery lies in their coming together as a relation through the dissolution of their exclusive separation. The [O]ther is revealed but not reduced, acknowledged as “the other within the same, in spite of me, calling me to respond.”[60] We find this mystery paralleled in the philosophy of pathei-mathos, where what is revealed by enantiodromia[61] can be connected to the Levinasian acknowledgement of the ethical relation to the [O]ther. The irreducible strangeness of the [O]ther, for example, may be revealed in that acknowledgement rather than comprehended or understood. This connects to Buber’s silent communication, where what is communicated silently may require a revealing rather than understanding or comprehension, involving as it does something that “escapes the cognitive power of the subject.”[62] This connection to Levinasian acknowledgement and Buber’s silent communication points to the depth of the mystery of dyssolving – which, like the dyssolving of the duality of the wolf developed in this article, can neither be understood nor comprehended. It requires a different approach, one which the Order of Nine Angles attempts to explore through a spiritual cartography designed to navigate the unseen, unknown, and unexplored.

Conclusion: The ONA and the Preservation of the Other

Whereas the Western tradition has been characterized by the reduction of the [O]ther to the Same, the ONA is a living example of a tradition that attempts to preserve the enigma of the [O]ther. We can observe many examples of this, both directly and indirectly. One indirect example can be found in the etymological relation between “weird” and “Wyrd,”[63] which hints at a being who is not self-contained but “understood as inseparable from temporality and historicity.”[64] Here, Wyrd marks an encounter with something other than the self (as a “pull” or “push” of fate or destiny “outside” the self), where self-presence is broken out of its imprisonment toward an enigmatic world in all of its strangeness and “weirdness.” In this directedness and “breaking-out-of” toward that which lies outside us, we no longer try to grasp, represent, understand, or comprehend in an effort to return that strangeness to “the hegemony of the Same”; rather, in preserving that sense of “outside ourselves” as “an exit from oneself,” we attempt to acknowledge our relationship with alterity.[65][66]

Much like Levinas’ goal then, the ONA’s rests on the establishment of a relationship between the Same (or self) and [O]ther, one “which does not entail the dissolution of either.”[67] In calling the Same into question and acknowledging the [O]ther in all of its strangeness, we do not simply push for a dislodgment of the primacy of the Same by the [O]ther, where, in Levinasian terms, “infinity abolishes totality.”[68] The difficulty rests on producing a sense in which both self and [O]ther are “preserved as independent and self-sufficient, but in some sense in relation with one another.”[69] Colin Davis notes that “[t]he ontological imperialism of Western thought manifests itself in different forms, but the hidden purpose is always to find a means of offsetting the shock of alterity.”[70] I have attempted to illustrate how the Order of Nine Angles does not want to offset the shock of alterity but acknowledge it. In fact, I claim that it wants to recall it. As Odysseus indicates when he and his men reach the land of the Lotus-eaters described in the opening quote of this article, we must not just speak but shout to the [O]ther – to our other comrades, the rest of the enigmatic world, and our opponents – “so none … [can] eat the lotus, forget the voyage home.”[71] From our forgetting – from a conversation that has by and large been forgotten, reduced to the Same, lost, and distorted – we must recall. That recalling is not the anamnesis of Plato, which “asserts that I already know what I seek to know, all knowledge is already contained within myself.”[72] Our recalling rests on the fundamental relation to the [O]ther, juxtaposed from a self “‘tethered to itself [rive à soimême]’ … trapped and longing for escape.”[73] In conversing and recalling as we make the voyage home, the following questions thus splinter with urgency from their need for resolution: with whom are we conversing? With whom are we having a conversation?

The task now is to break open the ONA’s emphasis on solitary practice and experience toward an openness and relationality that goes deeper than ontology. Although the ONA does reduce the [O]ther to the Same in several respects, these points of tension can reach a productive resolution if re-worked into a relational framework along these lines. I believe Anton Long would be the first to acknowledge some of these limitations, in addition to recognizing the need for ethical conversation so described. What I have written in this article is meant to illuminate some of those tensions with an eye toward their resolution. It is my hope that addressing this in terms of our ethical relation to the [O]ther will offer something of value to the reader in assessing how they approach the ONA, other associates, other people, and the rest of the world.

Levinas endeavored to “protect the Other from the aggressions of the Same, to analyse the possibilities and conditions of its appearance in our lives, and to formulate the ethical significance of the encounter with it.”[74] I believe the Order of Nine Angles and its preservation as a living tradition involves much the same goal, whether we are talking in terms of concrete objects, domains of reality, other life forms, or other people. But preserving this tradition requires more than conversing; it requires conversation. It requires ethical relation. Time will tell whether the ONA’s interior soliloquy has the resolve to evolve into a call – one which, as a living tradition, is “lived in the sensibility of an embodied exposure to the other,” and where the “deep structure of subjective experience … is structured in a relation of responsibility or … responsivity to the other … [which calls] me to respond.”[75] Whether associates will take this to heart or merely keep it in mind remains to be seen. I, however, remain optimistic.

[H]ere we landed, and surely a god steered us in
through the pitch-black night.
Not that he ever showed himself, with thick fog
swirling around the ships, the moon wrapped in clouds
and not a glimmer stealing through that gloom.
Not one of us glimpsed the island – scanning hard –
or the long combers rolling us slowly toward the coast,
not till our ships had run their keels ashore.
Beaching our vessels smoothly, striking sail,
the crews swung out on the low shelving sand
and there we fell asleep, awaiting Dawn’s first light.

Homer, The Odyssey 9.157–167[76]

Nameless Therein
November 23, 2022
2775 ab urbe condita

In loving memory of Allan Holdsworth.

Notes

[1] The term “diastasis” comes from Emmanuel Levinas’ Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence. His use of this word is complex, sometimes used in relation to identity or the “diastasis of the identical,” elsewhere in relation to “temporal diastasis.” The way I use it in this article is meant to suggest a general sense of separation. The title of this article,“Avribvs Teneo Lvpvm: Alterity and Ethical Diastasis in the Dyssolving of the Wolf” refers to diastasis as a separation or breakdown in our relation to the [O]ther. As I note throughout the article, Levinas uses the term “ethical” to describe that relation. His use of the term does not refer to its traditional “moral” or normative sense. That is, it concerns our relation to [O]ther, not what we ought to do or what is considered right or wrong.  For Levinas, ethics refers to a “calling into question of my spontaneity by the presence of the Other [Autrui],” which I describe later in this article. Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, trans. Alphonso Lingis (1969; repr., Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2007), 43. In turn, alterity refers to this sense of otherness and concerns the [O]ther. If you put these together, you get something like: otherness and the separation, breakdown, or “coming apart” of our relation to the [O]ther, which is indicated and reiterated throughout this article in the form of a paradox or aporia I call “the duality of the wolf.” I see that duality as artificial – something that does not exist, something erected and created in an artificial manner. “Dyssolving” is meant to indicate how that aporia is resolved in the context of the Order of Nine Angles. I develop these themes hermeneutically, which concerns a healthy circle of descriptive and recurrent meaning rather than a fact-based argument involving assertion and counter-assertion.

For more on Levinas’ use of “diastasis,” see Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence, trans. Alphonso Lingis (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1974; Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991). The term appears in the Kluwer Academic edition on, e.g., pages 29, 30, 34, 36, 42, and 115. For an overview of hermeneutics and my approach to it, see Nameless Therein, “The Star Game, Chess, and the Nine Angles: An Introduction to Chess Hermeneutics,” Lux Lycaonis, Fenrir: Journal of Satanism and the Sinister, April 13, 2022, https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/04/14/chess-hermeneutics/.

[2] Homer, The Odyssey, trans. Robert Fagles (1996; repr., New York: Penguin Books, 1997).

[3] Terence, Terence: The Comedies, trans. Peter Brown (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), xii.

[4] Terence, xii. See also Terence, Terence in Two Volumes, trans. John Sargeaunt, vol. 2 (1912; repr., London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1959), 2-3.

[5] Terence, Terence in Two Volumes, 58.

[6] Terence, 59.

[7] Terence, Phormio, The Mother-in-Law, The Brothers, trans. and ed. John Barsby, vol. 2, Loeb Classical Library 23 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 69.

[8]Traduire, c’est trahir,” as Levinas was fond of pointing out. To translate is to betray. See Simon Critchley, “Introduction,” chap. 1 in The Cambridge Companion to Levinas, ed. Simon Critchley and Robert Bernasconi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 18.

[9] Terence, Phormio, Mother, Brothers, 4.

[10] Regarding my usage of [O]ther throughout this article, Levinas makes a distinction between the personal Other (“autrui”), which is capitalized and which refers to “the you” or another person, and the lowercased other (“autre”), which refers to the other generally and not necessarily to another person. It could, for example, refer to an object such as “the other bookshelf” or “the other glass of water.” The capitalized Other, however, refers to a person. My use of [O]ther throughout this article merges the two; because within the context of the ONA, [O]ther refers to the other person as much as it does to other life forms and objects. I leave it as [O]ther to keep this adaptive and open-ended, taking whichever reference necessary for the context it is found in. See Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 24. The footnote at the bottom of that page explains this distinction.

[11] Emmanuel Levinas, Entre nous: Essais sur le penser-à-l’autre (Paris: Grasset and Fasquelle, 1991), 255, quoted in Colin Davis, Levinas: An Introduction (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1996), 9.

[12] Critchley, “Introduction,” 6.

[13] In contrast to Heidegger and Husserl, Levinas thought the relation to the other person was not phenomenological – “not a phenomenon but an enigma,” and thus “not a matter for [intentional] thought or reflection,” where “intention” in this phenomenological sense refers to an object of consciousness rather than something like a motivation or volitional act. Critchley, “Introduction,” 8. Additionally, though Levinas was familiar with Heidegger’s later work, he was indebted to the early Heidegger – the Heidegger of Being and Time. Critchley, 10.

[14] See Davis, Levinas, 38: “Levinas acknowledges that Totality and Infinity continues to use the language of ontology … even though the arguments advanced in that book aspire to overturn ontology.” Derrida critiqued this in his work, “Violence and Metaphysics.” See “Violence and Metaphysics: An Essay on the Thought of Emmanuel Levinas,” chap. 4 in Writing and Difference, trans. Alan Bass (1978; repr., London: Routledge, 2001). On this point, Critchley notes that “[Derrida] argued that the attempt to leave the climate of Heidegger’s thinking was doomed from the start because Levinas still employs Heideggerian categories in the attempt to exceed those categories. Derrida extended the same argument to Levinas’s critique of Hegel and Husserl.” Critchley, “Introduction,” 17. Critchley additionally points out that Levinas was tormented by the questions Derrida raised in “Violence and Metaphysics.” In response, Levinas acknowledged that he was trying to move away from that ontological terminology in his later work.

[15] I want to emphasize again that the way I am applying “ethics” to the ONA in this article does not involve a traditional moral sense. It has to do with our relation to the [O]ther, with alterity. It is not normative or proscriptive, does not concern questions of right or wrong, and has little to do with the traditional philosophical field of ethics in any straightforward sense.

[16] Davis, Levinas, 35.

[17] Critchley, “Introduction,” 6.

[18] Critchley, “Introduction,” 27-28.

[19] In Heidegger’s language, the mode of being-in-the-world called knowing is anterior to ontological being-in-the-world.

[20] Levinas, Entre nous, 255, quoted in Davis, Levinas, 9.

[21] Though Levinas makes a distinction between the personal Other (“autrui”), which is capitalized in English, and the other generally (“autre”), which is lowercased (see note 10 above), my capitalization of the word “Same” here (used to refer to the self) is a matter of personal taste. Davis, Critchley, and translators of Levinas have their own conventions regarding the capitalization of this term. I have opted for capitalization only as a matter of consistency throughout this article.

[22] Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 43, quoted in Davis, Levinas, 36. Davis’ quote of this passage uses slightly different capitalization for certain words. I have retained the capitalization of the edition of Totality and Infinity listed in the bibliography for this article.

[23] Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 43.

[24] Critchley, 21.

[25] Critchley, 21. Note that Levinas’ departure from Heidegger’s analysis can be illustrated in the following way: “Levinas claims that Dasein’s understanding of Being presupposes an ethical relation with the other human being, that being to whom I speak and to whom I am obliged before being comprehended. Fundamental ontology is fundamentally ethical.” Critchley, 10.

[26] Critchley, 25.

[27] Critchley, 26.

[28] Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 50, quoted in Critchley, “Introduction,” 15.

[29] Critchley, “Introduction,” 12.

[30] Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 291.

[31] Derrida, “Violence and Metaphysics,” 124.

[32] G. W. F. Hegel, The Philosophy of Fine Art, trans. F. P. B. Osmaston (London: C. Bell and Sons, 1920), 1:206-7, quoted in Derrida, “Violence and Metaphysics,” 122-123.

[33] Martin Buber, Between Man and Man, trans. Ronald Gregor-Smith (New York: Routledge, 2002), 3. It should be noted that Levinas had problems with some of the work of Martin Buber and mysticism generally. One must be careful in drawing a connection between their thought, in addition to exploring Levinas’ thought in the context of this article, whose frame of reference he almost certainly would have opposed. His ideas nevertheless cast important implications over a shadow of discourse surrounding the ONA, which could benefit from this line of development.

[34] Buber, Between Man and Man, 3.

[35] Buber, 4.

[36] Buber, 4.

[37] Buber, 4-5.

[38] Levinas is not claiming that the [O]ther is God. Critchley emphasizes this point: “[Nor] is … [Levinas] claiming that the other is God, as some readers mistakenly continue to believe.” Critchley, “Introduction,” 14.

[39] See Davis, Levinas, 40: “So Levinas transforms Descartes’s infinite God into his own Other.” See also Critchley, “Introduction,” 14 and Hilary Putnam, “Levinas and Judaism,” chap. 2 in The Cambridge Companion to Levinas, ed. Simon Critchley and Robert Bernasconi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 42. With respect to the relation between Descartes’ res cogitans and God, Putnam says: “It isn’t that Levinas accepts Descartes’s argument, so interpreted. The significance is rather that Levinas transforms the argument by substituting the other for God.”

[40] Critchley, “Introduction,” 12.

[41] Critchley, 12.

[42] Regarding acknowledgement, Critchley says the following: “That is to say, there is something about the other person, a dimension of separateness, interiority, secrecy or what Levinas calls ‘alterity’ that escapes my comprehension. That which exceeds the bounds of my knowledge demands acknowledgement.” Critchley, “Introduction,” 26.

[43] Critchley, 12.

[44] Critchley, 12.

[45] And yet we hear it and are called to respond. However, we may have trouble “listening” to that call, because although we sense it intimately its utterance is so ungraspable and incomprehensible that we only “see” its contours – and blindly, at that. We must make out its shape in an impenetrable darkness, one without light or sight. So there is a kind of “hearing” without hearing to go with our seeing without seeing and speaking without speaking. The point is that this relation cannot be reduced to comprehension. It cannot be reduced to the self, to the “I,” to the Same. This is what Levinas means by “a relation that is not a relation,” from which the phrases I am employing here – “seeing without seeing,” “speaking without speaking,” and “hearing without hearing” – are derived.

[46] Davis, Levinas, 41.

[47] Davis, 41.

[48] Davis, 3. The full quote on the same page elaborates on this point: “In Levinas’s reading of the history of Western thought, the Other has generally been regarded as something provisionally separate from the Same (or the self), but ultimately reconcilable with it; otherness, or alterity, appears as a temporary interruption to be eliminated as it is incorporated into or reduced to sameness. For Levinas, on the contrary, the Other lies absolutely beyond my comprehension and should be preserved in all its irreducible strangeness; it may be revealed by other people in so far as they are not merely mirror images of myself, or … by religious experience or certain privileged texts. Levinas’s endeavour is to protect the Other from the aggressions of the Same, to analyse the possibilities and conditions of its appearance in our lives, and to formulate the ethical significance of the encounter with it.”

[49] Davis, 40. On the same page, Davis notes: “The ontological imperialism of Western thought manifests itself in different forms, but the hidden purpose is always to find a means of offsetting the shock of alterity.” See also Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 43: “Western philosophy has most often been an ontology: a reduction of the other to the same by interposition of a middle and neutral term that ensures the comprehension of being.”

[50] A simple way to think of this: my egology is your ontology.

[51] Davis, Levinas, 40.

[52] Davis, 40.

[53] See, for example, Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 40: “Alterity is possible only starting from me.”

[54] Davis, Levinas, 48.

[55] On this point, Myatt says that “[t]he 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. (CreateSpace, 2018), https://www.davidmyatt.info/numinous-way-pathei-mathos.pdf.

[56] David Myatt, “III. Enantiodromia and the Separation-of-Otherness,” in The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos, 5th ed. (CreateSpace, 2018), https://www.davidmyatt.info/numinous-way-pathei-mathos.pdf.

[57] Myatt, “Enantiodromia.”

[58] Anton Long, “Enantiodromia: The Sinister Abyssal Nexion,” Lapis Philosophicus (blog), https://lapisphilosophicus.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/enantiodromia-the-sinister-abyssal-nexion.pdf. In the first endnote of the article entitled “The Abyss” in this collection of articles and notes, Long directs us to David Myatt’s essay, “The Abstraction of Change as Opposites and Dialectic,” which details the origin of the term “enantiodromia.” See David Myatt, “The Abstraction of Change as Opposites and Dialectic,” The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos (blog), https://perceiverations.wordpress.com/change-opposites-and-dialectic/. Long notes how, according to Myatt, the word is “a transliteration of the compound Greek word ἐναντιοδρομίας and which word first occurs in Lives of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius.” According to Myatt, Diogenes is thought to have paraphrased Heraclitus in saying: “πάντα δὲ γίνεσθαι καθ᾽ εἱμαρμένην καὶ διὰ τῆς ἐναντιοδρομίας ἡρμόσθαι τὰ ὄντα,” which Myatt translates as: “All by genesis is appropriately apportioned [separated into portions] with beings bound together again by enantiodromia.” This idea of apportioning or separating into portions “with beings bound together again by enantiodromia” bears some resemblance to the idea of ethical diastasis described throughout this article – the idea of a separation or breakdown in our relation to the [O]ther, then dyssloved through the elimination of an artificial duality (here, the duality of the wolf). Though there are differences between this sense of enantiodromia and Levinas’ ethical relation to the [O]ther, this is a line of inquiry worth exploring.

[59] For Levinas, this refers to the sense in which our ethical relation to the [O]ther plays a defining role in the identity and constitution of the human being. In the ONA, this marks the genesis of a new being. Insofar as the ONA and Levinas find a point of overlap here, it may be that this is not the genesis of a new being but an ancient one. Furthermore, this being may be an ethical synonym for the human being (ethical in Levinas’ sense of a relation to the [O]ther). It would appear then that the adept and human being are not so different after all. Here again we find the theme of the dyssolving of the duality of the wolf. Here again we find the need to engage in ethical conversation. Combined, one begins to see the contours of a different sense of “mundane” when considering that the adept and human being are not so distinct. At their heart, both are striving to speak to the [O]ther, to listen, to hear the call. Here they find an important point of commonality, one that constitutes the core of their identity and reality, even if those differ radically.

[60] Critchley, “Introduction,” 21.

[61] Cf. Myatt, “Enantiodromia.”

[62] Critchley, “Introduction,” 15.

[63] For more on the etymological connection between “weird” and Wyrd,” see Nameless Therein, “‘Where’s Your Will to Be Wyrd’: An Examination of Wyrd in the Anglo-Saxon Religious Imagination,” Lux Lycaonis, Fenrir: Journal of Satanism and the Sinister, March 28, 2022, https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/03/29/will-wyrd/. Also see 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. There, Payne says the following about this connection: “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.”

[64] Davis, Levinas, 16.

[65] Davis, 21. On this notion of “an exit from oneself” and “the relationship with alterity,” see Emmanuel Levinas, En decouvrant I’ existence avec Husserl et Heidegger (1949; repr., Paris: Vrin, 1974), 139 and 145.

[66] Indeed, this points to the deeper levels of the mystery of dyssolving in the ONA, in addition to the dyssolving of the duality of the wolf described in this article. Both concern a sense in which dyssolving does not involve the abolishment of self or an annihilation of the aforesaid duality. The key and mystery lie in the opening as an exit from oneself through the acknowledgement of our relationship with alterity. The relationship involved in this sense of dyssolving, or at least what it “opens” us to, can be characterized by a relation between the face-to-face (speaking without seeing) and the eye-to-eye (seeing without “speaking”) described above. Both additionally concern what I have described elsewhere as “making the invisible visible.” See Ariadne and Nameless Therein, “Arcadian Truth & the Instar Emergence: The Task of Outer Representative,” Lux Lycaonis, Fenrir: Journal of Satanism and the Sinister, November 5, 2022, https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/11/05/alea-iacta-est/. Nexion of Ur also develops this point in “Burial Night,” Nocturnal Reflexions, November 11, 2022, https://nocturnalreflexions.wordpress.com/2022/11/11/burial-night/.

[67] Davis, Levinas, 20.

[68] Davis, 41.

[69] Davis, 41.

[70] Davis, 40.

[71] Homer, The Odyssey 9.106–117.

[72] Davis, Levinas, 40.

[73] Davis, 18. The phrase “rive à soimême” is from Levinas, De l’évasion (1935; repr., Montpellier: Fata Morgana, 1982), 87.

[74] Davis, 3.

[75] Critchley, “Introduction,” 21.

[76] Homer, The Odyssey 9.157–167.

Bibliography

Buber, Martin. Between Man and Man. Translated by Ronald Gregor-Smith. 1947. Reprint, New York: Routledge, 2002.

Critchley, Simon. “Introduction.” Chap. 1 in The Cambridge Companion to Levinas, edited by Simon Critchley and Robert Bernasconi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Davis, Colin. Levinas: An Introduction. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1996. First published 1996 by Polity Press (Cambridge).

Derrida, Jacques. “Violence and Metaphysics: An Essay on the Thought of Emmanuel Levinas.” Chap. 4 in Writing and Difference, translated by Alan Bass. 1978. Reprint, London: Routledge, 2001. First published 1967 by Éditions du Seuil (Paris).

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. The Philosophy of Fine Art. Translated by F. P. B. Osmaston. London: C. Bell and Sons, 1920.

Homer. The Odyssey. Translated by Robert Fagles. With introduction and notes by Bernard Knox. New York: Penguin Books, 1997. First published 1996 by Viking Penguin.

Levinas, Emmanuel. De l’évasion. Montpellier: Fata Morgana, 1982. First published 1935 as an article.

———. En découvrant I’ existence avec Husserl et Heidegger. Paris: Vrin, 1974. First edition 1949 with additions in 1967.

———. Entre nous: Essais sur le penser-à-l’autre. Paris: Grasset and Fasquelle, 1991.

———. Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence. Translated by Alphonso Lingis. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1974. Reprint, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991.

———. Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. Translated by Alphonso Lingis. 1969. Reprint, Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2007. First published in French as Totalité et infini: Essai sur l’extériorité. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1961.

Long, Anton. “Enantiodromia: The Sinister Abyssal Nexion.” Lapis Philosophicus (blog). https://lapisphilosophicus.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/enantiodromia-the-sinister-abyssal-nexion.pdf.

Myatt, David. “The Abstraction of Change as Opposites and Dialectic.” The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos (blog). https://perceiverations.wordpress.com/change-opposites-and-dialectic/.

———. The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos. 5th ed. CreateSpace, 2018.

Putnam, Hilary. “Levinas and Judaism.” Chap. 2 in The Cambridge Companion to Levinas, edited by Simon Critchley and Robert Bernasconi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Terence. Phormio, The Mother-in-Law, The Brothers. Vol. 2, Loeb Classical Library 23, translated and edited by John Barsby. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.

———. Terence in Two Volumes. Translated by John Sargeaunt. Vol. 2. 1912. Reprint, London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1959.

———. Terence: The Comedies. Translated by Peter Brown. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.


Inspiration, Interpretation, and Christopher Hyatt on the Idealized Self

Posted: April 30th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Culture, O9A, Order of Nine Angles, The Sinister Tradition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Inspiration, Interpretation, and Christopher Hyatt on the Idealized Self

Gilbert_vanity

– Charles Allan Gilbert, All Is Vanity, 1892

[Repost of: https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/04/30/inspiration-hyatt/]

Although I am adamant about the importance of finding new and uncommon sources of inspiration to interpret the world, I find that certain sources leave a recurrent impression across the psyche. Such works lend depth to the way inspiration can be made meaningful, which can then be used to inspire others through the creation of new works.

My approach to the Order of Nine Angles is no different. In identifying, interpreting, and then making meaningful certain recurrent dynamics from my own experiences and then finding correlates at the heart of the ONA, I try not to draw from the Spenglers or Toynbees of the world, or even the literature of the ONA; rather, I look to the Alfred North Whiteheads, Alasdair MacIntyres, Charles Taylors, Henry James’, Thomas Manns, and Guy de Maupassants – sources that contain these dynamics in a much richer and deeper way, but which go unnoticed and unexamined within the tradition.

Insofar as the ONA is not just a system of thought or practice but a mode of life, one can learn to identify the dynamics it reveals in transformative experience through the cultural canvas of the world, be that nature, thought, art, music, or the history of ideas. In identifying these dynamics in uncommon and unexpected sources of inspiration, one can impart a certain vitality to the tradition. Thus, rather than recycling what have now become dogmatic misinterpretations within and outside of the Order, one can learn to view it through a new and valuable lens of interpretation, thereby lending a much-needed source of renewal and novelty to the tradition.[1]

With that said, there are two main approaches to that renewal and novelty. The first involves identifying the deep dynamics of transformative experience in unexpected sources outside of the tradition and then synthesizing them into new forms within the tradition. The second involves a kind of hermeneutic approach, where one revisits sources of inspiration from their past through a new lens of interpretation, one made possible by transformative experience. In the latter case, the lens changes as we do, which makes the source in question “recurrent,” in that it is continually redefined and, in that sense, “alive.”

While both approaches are essential and typically work together, one such “hermeneutic” or recurrent source I revisit regularly is the following lecture by Christopher Hyatt (aka Alan Miller). When I first discovered Hyatt’s work many years ago, what struck me was not his knowledge of magick, training under Israel Regardie, or previous association with the OTO – none of which appealed to me – but the richness of his life and the no-nonsense pragmatism with which he approached the human mind and our place in the world. Hyatt’s brutal honesty and ruthless empiricism find shelter in much of the ONA, despite their differences in approach; but unlike the ONA, Hyatt seems to form a bridge between practical utility and meaning – between whether something works and what it is in determining how it finds meaningful application.

Having revisited this lecture today, I reflected on some of its deeper psychological import and application within the ONA. In my experience, Hyatt’s psychological characterization of what he terms the idealized, actual, and diminished selves can serve as a powerful psychological model to gauge “where one is” with respect to the dyssolving of the ego. It may also be a helpful way to gently estimate where others are in their own development, particularly within the ONA and in terms of its opponents. This lecture thus struck me as relevant to the current climate of the ONA, keeping in mind that this is merely a model, an overview, and one way of viewing the human psyche (and a general one at that):

Nameless Therein
Scothorn Nexion
Walpurgisnacht,
April 30, 2022

[1] And to clarify: the sources I have in mind here are primarily philosophical, artistic, and related. Syncretizing certain incompatible “magickal” traditions with the ONA is not something I generally find productive or worthwhile, seeing as how many of these lack the depth of their philosophical and artistic counterparts, particularly in a modern context. However, members of the Fenrir team do have the knowledge and experience to syncretize traditions that are compatible – and this I view as important and worthwhile. Combined with the philosophical and artistic domains, this knowledge can then be used to expand the ONA’s system of magick and, eventually, create one’s own.


“Deep Roots” and Meaningful Associations: Musical Tarot Continued, Auditory Sigils, and Aeonic Chant Magick

Posted: April 9th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Acausal Theory, Alchemy, O9A, Occultism, Order of Nine Angles, Rounwytha, Tarot Cards, The Sinister Tradition, The Star Game | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Deep Roots” and Meaningful Associations: Musical Tarot Continued, Auditory Sigils, and Aeonic Chant Magick

chant-grid

[Repost of: https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/04/09/aeonic-chant-magick/]

“Deep Roots” and Meaningful Associations: Musical Tarot Continued, Auditory Sigils, and Aeonic Chant Magick

With respect to my previous post on musical tarot (“Techniques for Doing a Musical Tarot Reading & Creating Auditory Sigils”), I would like to add a few comments regarding the selection of appropriate music. I will additionally offer some commentary regarding the purpose of sensory layering techniques like combining musical and visual tarot readings in relation to the creation of advanced auditory sigils for the purpose of chant magick. I will conclude by noting a few ways this finds application in Aeonic magick.

Regarding the selection of music for musical tarot readings, a few things should be kept in mind. The music selected should be meaningful to the user, emotionally evocative, and selected with care, keeping in mind that it needs to be appropriate for this type of working. While one should feel free to experiment, it should be noted that certain forms of popular music may introduce coloration and structural distortion in the creation of auditory sigils. Lyrics and certain lyrical themes, certain musical production elements, “noise,” and other distracting characteristics may misdirect the user’s emotional and psychic attention. Lyrics, for example, can be distracting insofar as they involve the mediating role of language. This is not to say that music with lyrics should be avoided; chant itself is defined as “sung speech.”[1] But on this point – and though here taken grossly out of context – something Nietzsche wrote on the relation between lyric poetry and music is relevant:

Language can never adequately render the cosmic symbolism of music, because music stands in symbolic relation to the primordial contradiction and primordial pain in the heart of the primal unity, and therefore symbolizes a sphere which is beyond and prior to all phenomena. Rather, all phenomena, compared with it, are merely symbols: hence language, as the organ and symbol of phenomena, can never by any means disclose the innermost heart of music; language, in its attempt to imitate it, can only be in superficial contact with music; while all the eloquence of lyric poetry cannot bring the deepest significance of the latter one step nearer to us.[2]

In keeping one’s “eye on the prize,” the user must remember that the goal of techniques like sensory layering is to form meaningful associations – associations that combine many levels of meaning across the emotive, mnemonic, sensory, and symbolic domains. These are structured organically, in that each experience will be unique according to the musical selection, tarot reading, and a plethora of other associations from the user’s unique history; but there is also an element of chaos, in that the way these meaningful associations structure themselves systematically through sensory layering are unpredictable and beyond the comprehension or control of the user. Interestingly, however, in being directed systematically across the seven Septenary spheres of the Tree of Wyrd, the structure of such experiences can be reproduced for other individuals (in using, for example, the same music and tarot reading); but the way that structure takes shape across the psyche for a given user will be unique. This structure, which is in part created by meaningful associations combined with sensory layering techniques in motion across the Septenary spheres, creates what I call an “auditory sigil.” In the technique described above and in my previous post, this involves combining musical and visual tarot readings using a Septenary spread and then moving from one card and sphere to the next sequentially while listening to the corresponding music.

These auditory sigils become more efficacious as layering meaningful associations reach their zenith through an increase of precision and symbolic condensation. The technique I suggested of combining musical tarot readings with visual tarot readings and then directing them across the seven Septenary spheres is an introductory exercise. It is meant to allow the user to experience certain energies of the Septenary spheres, to form meaningful associations with them through sensory layering, and then to direct these systematically across those spheres, where the sequential movement or motion of meaningful associations from one sphere to the next essentially creates the auditory sigil (at the most basic level of chant, melodic movement and chant sequencing across the spheres perform this function). The exercise is not only a useful introductory tool to familiarize and then personalize the Septenary energies and correspondences, but also serves as a simple and practical technique to start creating and then cataloguing a “toolkit” of auditory sigils for use in more advanced Septenary and sinister magick.

As one gains experience with the creation of auditory sigils and begins to establish a catalogue, the practitioner may wish to make their way into the more advanced domain of esoteric chant magick. Much more can be said on this subject, and I may elaborate on some of the following techniques in a subsequent article. But part of the purpose of chant magick is to expand and increase the efficacy of these auditory sigils, and then direct them. Through a precise series of correspondences, meaningful associations can be focused, deepened, and directed using advanced sequences of melodic motion, specific Gregorian modes and diatonic musical keys, polyphonic and harmonic layering, visual sigils, incenses, colors, and the Dark Gods, to list a few examples. Each individual will additionally bring with them a vast host of meaningful associations from their life experiences, magickal experimentation, and transformations through the Grade Rituals. Previous, less clarified, and rudimentary auditory sigils can be expanded upon and developed; they can be structurally recreated and worked with interpersonally and intersubjectively in a group setting; they can be introduced into even larger groups of practitioners for purposes determined by specific Nexions; they can be used in the Star Game, including the advanced form, for the purposes of Aeonic magick; and they can be animated as “egregores” through advanced mimetic techniques.

While these are only a few of the applications of esoteric chant magick, its application, unlike external and internal magick, is one of the most powerful forms of magick in the Order of Nine Angles. These techniques are unique to the tradition. It is also one of the few forms of magick that is capable reaching the Aeonic level for use in Aeonic magick.

On this point, and returning to the topic of selecting music for musical tarot readings, I would like to draw the reader’s attention to an interview with the composer Edward Artemyev on his experience working with the cinematic auteur and master, Andrei Tarkovsky. Artemyev’s account of Tarkovsky’s views on the inclusion of music in his films not only highlights the appropriate mindset one should have in selecting music for a musical tarot reading, but illustrates what is partially required for chant magick to find application in Aeonic magick, where all previous meaningful associations, symbolic “gestures,” and forms fall away, collapsing into an incommunicable essence that is then directed as “melodic” spiritual energy:

I’ll begin with Tarkovsky. The most unusual things were the tasks set and our first conversation with him … I was struck by his attitude to music in film, precisely in his films. He told me right away that he didn’t need a composer at all. He needed the composer’s ear and his masterful command of sound, in order to mix music, to make musical effects. Possibly, to add some orchestra, but so that it didn’t stand out. So that it be background sound organized compositionally. I was simply startled by this. But so it was when we filmed Solaris, Mirror and Stalker. This idea of his was constantly present. He did not need music as a developing theme. “This is not a concert,” he said. “This is something special. When I run short of cinematic means, then I put on music.” But since he, basically, had enough means, he needed a composer only as an organizer of the background sound. And if a film needed some music, as in Solaris, he used Bach. There was Bach in Mirror, too, it was either “The St. John Passion,” or “The St. Matthew Passion.” Music as the lining to image he did not want.

Once Tarkovsky told me a very interesting thing. I asked him: “Why? I can write something [music] for the film too.” He [Tarkovsky] answered that cinema had no roots, that it was too young an art. It is only one hundred years old. To give the viewer a sense of deep roots, to make a linkage with the world art, the music of old masters is needed. As well as the paintings of old masters which he did quote … Subconsciously, it creates, as he believed and was right to believe, the deep roots for that art.

In many respects, the Order of Nine Angles is equally too young an art, despite its ancient influences and roots. In constructing meaningful associations with the aim of auditory sigils and chant magick, in addition to the application of magick in general and the establishment of tradition, Tarkovsky’s point is helpful: the creation of “deep roots” requires a “linkage with the world of art,” and for this “the music of old masters is needed.” This is perhaps even truer in making linkages with the world of magick. For this, the “music of old masters” is indeed needed; and in the application of chant magick, that music tends to find its most powerful voice through devotional Gregorian chant. The “deep roots” Artemyev referred to need to initially extend into the unconscious and find shelter there, which is part of the goal of introductory sensory layering techniques like combining musical tarot with visual tarot. When one reaches the more advanced stage of esoteric chant magick, these will begin to form a “bridge” into consciousness (through, for example, the path from the Moon to the Sun, which is the path of Azoth / Satanas). Eventually, these “deep roots” will exceed both, requiring the dyssolving of the ego. At this point, previous forms of meaningful association will shed their skin, taking on a structural identification that can only be approximated in music or speech as their sensory, psychic, and spiritual layering becomes more and more condensed. This can occur, for example, when one’s “catalogue” of correspondences, associations, and auditory sigils has become rich and expansive enough to resemble a Tree a Wyrd through the “doors” or “paths” created by layered associations across the psyche (through, e.g., years of advanced chant magick). Chant itself then becomes malleable, where certain musical and magickal elements of a given chant become interchangeable with others. Auditory sigils themselves can then be layered, where that malleability can lead to a kind of musickal dyssolving, unlocking the true power of chant magick. Contrary to popular belief, the map can become the territory. And this is required before an Aeonic context becomes possible. For this, “deep roots” and meaningful associations can only do so much; it is necessary to enact both as a kind mimesis through embodied imitation – an imitation of these condensed associations and their function as a Tree of Wyrd within the psyche – through transformative activities like the Grade Rituals of the Seven-Fold Way (though there may be other ways). Put another way, one’s psycho-spiritual constitution should actually resemble the “deep roots” and meaningful associations an individual has established – a resemblance that mirrors and enacts a functional Tree of Wyrd within the psyche. (One’s psycho-spiritual constitution and the development of “deep roots” go hand-in-hand. Attempting to develop one without the other will usually be self-evident to those who have developed both.) Unless real alchemical change has occurred in the individual in lock-step with their approach to chant magick, this kind of magick is not only dangerous but may have catastrophic effects.

With respect to Artemyev’s reference to Tarkovsky on “deep roots” in relation to art, some of Nietzsche’s comments on the Apollinian and the Dionysian in The Birth of Tragedy may be helpful. Though unrelated and taken completely out of context – this passage needs to be read in its proper context to understand what Nietzsche is trying to convey – it does cryptically illuminate a sense of some of what has been said here on the relationship between “deep roots” and chant magick, particularly with respect to “imitation.” In needing to be practiced and experienced, chant magick by and large resists rational comprehension or explication – and Nietzsche indirectly captures both sentiments if the following is read “artistically” or “musically” with this in mind:

Thus far we have considered the Apollinian and its opposite, the Dionysian, as artistic energies which burst forth from nature herself, without the mediation of the human artist – energies in which nature’s art impulses are satisfied in the most immediate and direct way – first in the image world of dreams, whose completeness is not dependent upon the intellectual attitude or the artistic culture of any single being; and then as intoxicated reality, which likewise does not heed the single unit, but even seeks to destroy the individual and redeem him by a mystic feeling of oneness. With reference to these immediate art-states of nature, every artist is an “imitator,” that is to say, either an Apollinian artist in dreams, or a Dionysian artist in ecstasies, or finally – as for example in Greek tragedy – at once artist in both dreams and ecstasies; so we may perhaps picture him sinking down in his Dionysian intoxication and mystical self-abnegation, alone and apart from the singing revelers, and we may imagine how, through Apollinian dream-inspiration, his own state, i.e., his oneness with the inmost ground of the world, is revealed to him in a symbolical dream image.[3]

In closing and to elaborate upon what has been written here a little further, I would like to share a transcript of part of a conversation I recently had with a close friend – someone who has completed the Grade Ritual for Master of the Temple (the sphere of Mars, past Internal Adept). Our conversation was on the subject of chant magick, during which I was asked the following:

As a musician … do you feel like when you perform esoteric chant … it is the precise performance of the chant that gives you access to … [a] particular pathway of [the acausal]? Or do you feel that it … [arises from] the connection … [you make] empathically [to it]? Or is it somewhere in the middle? Is it because you are a musician and by performing … [the chant as accurately as possible, you evoke] that empathic connection and … access is granted to you? What are your thoughts on that?

My response was as follows:

[While much more can be said,] the most important thing with respect to accessing the acausal is what I would call “charging.” Someone could formulaically perform a chant perfectly at every technical level and achieve nothing by way of magick. There are so many factors that play into successful chant work, but the energy generated to “unlock” a certain direction or momentum … [to] puncture into the acausal “stratosphere,” so to speak, comes from a continual, impromptu acclimation into higher and higher spheres of meaningful signification. This happens in real time, and those significations converge, often violently. I call this “charging,” and without that chant is at best informal mediation, not musick and certainly not magick. In this, certain “forms” can help the charging – the more symbolically condensed and meaningful the better. But eventually one doesn’t … need such symbols anymore. The condensation, like a sigil, becomes a kind of “muscle memory” – a treasure incarnated and recalled with each subsequent performance and charging.

The amazing and difficult thing about chant magick is that unlike, say, a Hermetic ritual, there are no symbols or meaning structures other than the internal movement of the … melody in combination with the words. Generating the proper charge from that takes skill and a certain – I would say [almost] Rounwythic – constitution. Because by definition and at the most advanced level, there are no gods, dates, holidays, or other meaningful correspondences. One has to make their own [through the malleability and “openness” of these condensations]. And this symbolic condensation is quite nameless, quite wordless, in the act itself. Which in my opinion and experience makes chant magick one of the most powerful types of magick, [capable of tremendous energy, direction, and adaptation to any form of chaos]; [capable, in turn,] of reaching the Aeonic level.

Nameless Therein
Scothorn Nexion
April 9, 2022

ADDENDUM: GETTING STARTED WITH ESOTERIC CHANT MAGICK

For those interested, there are many ways to begin learning chant. Other than various online resources, including the instruction manual by Fr. Columba Kelly provided in the first endnote below, the best way to start, as with all music, is to use your ear: listen. Listen carefully, thoughtfully, and actively, as many times a day and as often as you can. Repetition is the key to many mysteries; and chant magick is no exception. There is much to observe in listening: the movement of the melody, the structure of the chant, where to hold notes, how to enunciate and project properly, as well as breathing and breath control. Once you have listened carefully for some time, the next step is to try to imitate what you are hearing, trying to match your performance to the original as closely as possible through continual practice and repetition. After you have spent some time singing along, start looking at the chant notation while you sing to try to understand what certain symbols and notes mean. Once you have done this for some time, supplement your eyes, ears, and voice with a more detailed study of the notation itself using an instruction manual. There are further resources at the bottom of this addendum to assist with this.

To get started, I suggest beginning with the main ONA Septenary chants, which are simpler than some of the more advanced ones, such as the Dark God chant arrangements below. The main ONA Septenary chants will provide a basic familiarity with the energies of each of the spheres on the Tree of Wyrd and will provide a framework to learn and construct more advanced sequences. Below are some resources to get started.

Once upon a time, I learned the main ONA chants from the old Chant of the ONA cassette, released by MMP Temple. Most people have digital versions of these and they are not hard to find. Currently, they can be accessed here, for example:

There are, however, mistakes in some of these performances. I corrected these in the versions found in my “Dark Gate” sequence. This can be used to practice the main Septenary chants (and I recommend these over my older versions of the chants). It should be noted that this sequence includes the first public recordings of the chants for the Star Gate (“Chant to Open a Star Gate”) and Dark Angle or Man’s Gate (“Chant to Return Atazoth to Earth”), which are advanced and difficult to learn (having taken me many years to decipher, learn, and then finally record and release). They are required and important for more advanced chant sequences, being two of the most powerful, dangerous, and magickally significant chants:

When one gains more experience and familiarity with the main chants, they can move on to experiment with more difficult chants, such as the arrangements I did for each of the Dark Gods. Though I will not elaborate on how to use these in detail here, the most basic approach involves substituting Dark God chants for specific Septenary sphere chants in a given sequence or series of sequences to generate a specific type of acausal energy. (These can follow a specific pattern determined by the cantor according to, e.g., a “magickal algorithm”; or they can be completely random, to list just two examples.) For example, the “Agios Kthunae” chant could be substituted for the “Agios Alastoros” chant for Mars in a given sequence to target a specific aim, goal, energy, attribute, or desire. The Dark God chants can be found in the following playlist:

Other chants, such as the chant arrangements I did for those listed in the ONA’s Black Book of Satan can be found through the following link. These can be used to generate specific types of energy, usually of a sinister or “Satanic” nature:

Finally, some of the advanced chant magick techniques I alluded to in this article are demonstrated in the following chants I composed. These are but an introduction to the many possibilities of such techniques:

Additional chants can be found on my youtube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsERKck5lRE0rL8h_q2nDXA

It should be noted that chant can be used for more subtle forms of magick, such as internal and external magick. These can take the form of devotional, contemplative, reflective, or pensive exercises aimed at creating or projecting a certain type of energy generated from a “mood” or “disposition.” These require a different approach to creating and layering meaningful associations, which I will not go into here. My chant composition for David Myatt’s c. 1986 poem, “In the Night,” is one such example:

More resources can be found within the ONA for guidance. I may create a more detailed list in the future. For now, I suggest NAOS: A Practical Guide to Modern Magick for the beginner, which provides some basic instructions to get started. The Hostia texts and some of the old Fenrir editions under Christos Beest provide more advanced guidance for the discerning reader.

A helpful resource outside of the ONA can be found at Corpus Christi Watershed. The Saint Antoine Daniel Kyriale performances are accurate and are an excellent place to start:

https://www.ccwatershed.org/gregorian/

https://www.ccwatershed.org/2014/04/25/st-antoine-daniel-kyriale/

NOTES

[1] See Fr. Columba Kelly, “Part 2: Chant is ‘Sung Speech’,” in Singing Chant: Latin and English: A Performance Manual (Indiana: Saint Meinrad Archabbey, 2016). I consulted this text for many years in learning chant. It is a great resource and reference manual. The text can currently be found in its entirety at the following location: https://www.saintmeinrad.org/media/1387/chant_manual03.pdf

[2] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, in Basic Writings of Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: The Modern Library, 2000), 55-56. One must be very careful here, as making sense of what this passage means requires carefully navigating Nietzsche’s analysis of the Dionysian and the Apollinian, in addition to understanding the distinctions he makes between epic poetry, lyric poetry, art, and music in relation to these. See, for example, Nietzsche’s characterizations of the “plastic artist,” the epic poet, the Dionysian musician, and the “lyric genius” on p. 50. See also p. 49, where Nietzsche discusses the taking for granted of the union or identity “of the lyrist with the musician” in relation to ancient lyric poetry.

[3] Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy, 38.


“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

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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.”