The Northern Dawn by Stephen E. Flowers
I have read The Northern Dawn – a History of the Reawakening of the Germanic Spirit by Stephen E. Flowers. As has been the case with the other books of his I have reviewed, I can warmly recommend this one as well. The book contains the following four chapters:
- Ways of Understanding
- The Germanic Tradition
- The Coming of Christianity
- Ages of Darkness
Christianity – Paradigm Shift or Conversion?
The author references The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity by James C. Russel (review) throughout the book, so the two books are good to read one after another. He notes that the term conversion is problematic (absurd and impossible, even), and that paradigm shift is a better term to describe the slow entry of Christianity into the societies of the Germanic peoples. As we noted in our review of Russel’s excellent book, it was indeed a very Germanised Christianity that was the dominant religion during the Middle Ages, and Christianity only became less Pagan during the Reformation.
The Indo-European Acceptance of Foreign Influences
The author notes that it is an Indo-European trait to be open to foreign influences (as opposed to the parochial attitudes of most other biocultures). This is a very important insight to keep in mind both for understanding European history as well as for approaching the modern world. A few years ago, someone commented on a social-media post of mine that he did not want to train Thaiboxing because it was not European. Instead, he only wanted to train Glíma. Funnily enough, this was one of the most un-European (or un-Aryan, rather) things I have ever read (hence it stuck with me even after many years). The true attitude is, of course, to embrace good cultural influences – such as Thaiboxing. This must, needless to say, not be misinterpreted as an acceptance of destructive phenomena such as mass immigration from the Global South into European nations. It must also be noted that the safekeeping of biological integrity is also an Indo-European trait (hence caste-systems). The openness for foreign influences is relevant to the discussion of Christianity in Europe since it makes it easy to understand why many were open to another powerful God (Christ) in the already existing pantheon.
Graeco-Roman Influence on Christianity
As we noted in our review of The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity by Russel, it was an already Indo-Europeanised Christianity that the Germanic peoples encountered. For example:
‘The calendar of festivals, sacrifices, and ceremonial occasions was altered to conform to Christian mythology. This transformation had already taken place in the Greco-Roman world, so the form of Christian ceremonial that confronted the Germanic peoples was entirely Roman with little to nothing of a Middle Eastern or Judaic character. The same can be said about the liturgical forms.’Stephen E. Flowers – The Northern Dawn. Page 78.
Jesus as a Warrior-Lord
Throughout the book, the author discusses Germanic literature. He presents the Old Saxon poem Heiland (meaning saviour in Old Saxon). The epic verse was composed around 830 by a poet-monk (or perhaps an ex-warrior, as noted by Murphey in the book The Heiland). Flowers says the following about it:
‘It is a retelling of the story of the life of Jesus in Germanic alliterative verse. This is not a translation of the gospels, but an original composition that allows the poet to recast the Christian myth in almost entirely Germanic terms. Jesus becomes a warrior-lord (OS drohtin) with a retinue of twelve warriors who fight against Rome.’Stephen E. Flowers – The Northern Dawn. Page 104.
Presenting Jesus in a way that was attractive to the Germanic peoples was a key to success in introducing Christianity in Europe. OS in the quote above means Old Saxon.
The Teutonic Knights
The author discusses the Teutonic Knights and notes that they combined martial prowess with mystical fervour and asceticism.
‘The Teutonic Knight not only carried out a “crusade” in the material world, but within his own mind as well.’Stephen E. Flowers – The Northern Dawn. Page 116.
This is similar to what Evola discusses in Metaphysics of War, where he notes that, in many traditions, the holy war in one’s mind is the greater of the two. For example, the Inner Jihad is the Greater Jihad and the Outer Jihad is the Lesser Jihad. The overcoming of one’s own lower nature is a reoccurring theme in many a spiritual tradition. Speaking of the Teutonic Knights, I will make a Podcast episode discussing them at length (I have a few episodes planned before that).
St Erik as Frey and St Olaf as Thor
The author shares a very interesting insight that I was actually not aware of (despite both Uppsala and Stockholm being close to my heart). He notes that Christian kings could take on Pagan attributes in the folk beliefs and practices that surrounded their persons. For example, St Olaf (who ruled Norway between 1015 and 1030) bashes trolls with his cross (reminding us of Thor fighting giants with Mjölner). St Erik (as seen on the banner in the picture above), king of Sweden between 1156 and 1160 and patron saint of Stockholm, took on the aspect of Frey (who was a particularly important God in Sweden):
‘During the Middle Ages a procession went forth from Uppsala on 18 May (St. Erik’s Day) in which the banner of St. Erik was borne att helga Fruchten medh på Jorden (“to sanctify the fruits of the earth”).’Stephen E. Flowers – The Northern Dawn. Page 152.
The Germanic Gods are of two tribes: the Aesir (Odin and Thor, among others) and Vanir (Frey and Freya, among others). Frey is a God of fertility and kingship. Next time we are in Gamla Uppsala, I will pour a libation to him. Last time my wife and I were there, we poured a libation to his sister – Freya. Pictured below: a humble aspiring Enlightened Despot admiring a garden in sacred Uppsala – City of the Gods.
As already mentioned and as with all of Flowers’ book, I can highly recommend The Northern Dawn – for Pagans as well as Christians, or indeed for the historically interested person. The book is 174 pages. Good stuff!
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