The Mysteries of the Goths by Edred Thorsson
Posted on August 7, 2022
I have read The Mystery of the Goths by Edred (Thorsson) – Stephen E. Flowers. As is the case with his other books that I have reviewed, it is well-written and full of interesting insights.
Visigoths and Ostrogoths
The author notes that the names Visigoths and Ostrogoths do not actually refer to West Goths and East Goths respectively, but rather that the Visigoths are ‘the good and noble Goths’ and the Ostrogoths are ‘the Goths Glorified by the Rising Sun.’ As is evident by the title of the book, the Goths are the main topic of the book, but the author also elaborates on certain other Germanic tribes and their relationship with the Goths.
Arian Christianity and the Goths
The author elaborates on the Gothic conversion to Arian Christian. Arian in this sense should not be confused with Aryan (Indo-European); it refers to Arius of Alexandria (AD 256–336). In essence, Arian Christianity views Jesus as subordinate to God. This view would lose to the prevailing Christian view of Jesus as a part of the trinity. Early Church history is full of fascinating theological disputes and heresies – they really took infighting to the next level!
The Arianism of the Goths would lead them into conflict with the Catholic Church. Related to this, the author mentions something interesting, namely that the Visigothic legacy in Spain is honoured, as can be seen when looking at Spanish men’s names: Alfonso, Rodrigo, Fernando (among others). In France, however, the Gothic heritage is not honoured in the same way. This is because the Franks (backed by the Catholic Church) defeated the Goths, and thereby gained control over what would become France. The conflict between Paris (the Frankish north) and the south of France would continue during the Middle Ages – as is detailed by Otto Rahn in his Crusade Against the Grail. I talk more about this conflict in Podcast Episode 9. The Pinnacle of Civilisation –France and will return to it in coming episodes as well.
The pre-Christian spirituality of the Goths was very similar to that of other Germanic peoples, and, more generally, to other Indo-Europeans. The author elaborates more on the topic in the excellent book The Nine Doors of Midgard (review).
Attila the Hun – The Germanic Name Attila
The story of the Gothic people is interlinked with that of the Huns – their allies and enemies. Interestingly, the author notes that the name Attila is of Germanic origin:
‘The degree to which the Hyns were open to foreign influence is reflected in their personal names. A study of these names by Prof. Otto Maenchen-Helfen (pp. 385-442) shows that a surprising percentage of them are of Germanic and Iranian origin, although, of course, their own native Turkic names predominate. Among the Germanic names are Attila. This is a specifically Gothic name. Atta is a familiar form of “father,” as we see the Gothic translation of the “Lord’s Prayer” begins with the phrase Atta unsar – “our daddy.” To this stem has been added a diminutive suffix, –ila. Att-ila means literally “little father.”Edred – The Mysteries of the Goths. Page 21.
This knowledge sheds some light on the relationship between the Huns and their Germanic neighbours. A simplistic narrative is that the Huns were an all-dominating force that drove all others before them. A more nuanced perspective is to view the Huns as the primary force of the region, but still a force that needed to cooperate and ally with its neighbours. A thorough discussion regarding the relationship between the Huns and the Goths is, of course, beyond the scope of this article, and we are bound to return to it at a later point.
The Greek Origins of the Kabbalah
The author mentions that the Hebrew Kabbalah has its roots in Greek esotericism.
‘By the time the Goths encountered the Greek world in the 2nd century, the Greeks had already developed an elaborate and sophisticated numerological philosophy and esotericism. This was pioneered at the earliest stages by philosophers such as Pythagoras, who lived around 500 BCE. This Greek form of esotericism was absorbed by the Hebrews and became a mainstay of their esoteric tradition known as the kabbalah, “tradition.”’Edred – The Mysteries of the Goths. Page 82.
This can be worth keeping in mind when studying Western esotericism in general. Moreover, this is especially important when discussing Christianity’s role in shaping European civilisation – much (perhaps even most) of Christianity is based upon Pagan traditions. A good example to illustrate this is how angels are portrayed: a European angel is beautiful and good; a Biblical angel looks like a nightmarish horror.
The Hidden Treasures of the Goths
In a chapter titled The Hidden Treasures of the Goths, the author discusses various famous Gothic treasures. Among those is the treasure of Alaric, which he acquired upon occupied Rome.
‘Alaric’s sacking of Rome was not a particularly violent act. The Visigoths simply took possession of the city and in an orderly fashion excised the Roman treasury.’Edred – The Mysteries of the Goths. Page 93.
Describing the sack of Rome as such makes perfect sense when viewing the event from an ethnographic perspective. An orderly acquisition of wealth is, it must be noted, more in tune with the Germanic spirit than mindless pillaging.
Where did the treasure end up? Archaeologists have noted a large influx of gold into Scandinavia during the 400s (an influx which does not appear to be correlated to an increase in mining). Therefore, it can be surmised that the gold came from the Visigothic reserves. It makes sense that the Goths on the continent would send part of their treasure back to their kinsmen in Sweden.
Pictured below: not a Visigothic treasure, but the Sword and Shield of Carl Gustaf Wrangel. The sword and shield were taken as spoils of war by Wrangel from Voivode Jan Zamoiskij following the Battle of Warsaw in 1656. The set was, according to some sources, initially a gift from the Ottoman Sultan Murad III to Stephen Báthory – King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, Prince of Transylvania. I thought the picture and story fitted this article!
At 128 pages, The Mystery of the Goths is concise yet full of interesting insights. I, for one, would welcome a new edition with more pages – the topic definitely deserves it. That being said, I can definitely recommend the book for anyone interested in the Goths (I cannot imagine anyone who is not).
Onwards and upwards!
The Myth of the Eternal Return by Mircea Eliade
Posted on July 28, 2022
I have read The Myth of the Eternal Return – Cosmos and History by Mircea Eliade. Since the teachings of Eliade were heavily featured in Dr. Charles William Dailey’s excellent book The Serpent Symbol in Tradition (review), I deemed it reasonable to start with Eliade’s work. Eliade himself recommends The Myth of the Eternal Return as a starting point to his teachings.
The book contains the following four chapters:
- Archetypes and Repetition
- The Regeneration of Time
- Misfortune and History
- The Terror of History
Archaic Man, In Illo Tempore, and Archetypes
For those familiar with Julius Evola, René Guénon, and the term Traditional man, it can be worth pointing out that Eliade refers to the same (Traditional) as Archaic man. The author notes that the chief difference between Archaic man and Modern man (with his strong imprint of Christianity) lies in the fact that Archaic man is connected with the Cosmos and the cosmic rhythms, whereas the Modern man is connected only with History.
Eliade frequently uses the term ‘in illo tempore,‘ which is Latin for ‘in that time’ and denotes time before recorded history. Another term he uses is ‘illud tempus‘, which refers to sacred time and space (the time of origins, the time when the world was first created).
Moreover, he notes that his use of the term archetype is not the same as the meaning used by Carl Jung. Instead, he uses the term archetype to denote an ‘exemplary model’ or ‘paradigm.’
Archetypes and Repetition
In the first chapter of the book, Archetypes and Repetitions, the author discusses the Archaic man’s attitude towards Creation and towards the cyclical nature of the Universe and of Time itself.
‘In the particulars of his conscious behaviour, the “primitive,” the archaic man, acknowledges no act which has not been previously posited and lived by someone else, some other being who was not a man. What he does has been done before.’Mircae Eliade – The Myth of the Eternal Return. Page 5.
Eliade notes that every creation repeats the pre-eminent cosmogonic act – the Creation of the world. He gives an interesting example with the Scandinavian colonisation of Iceland, in which the colonists regarded the cultivation of the land not as human or profane work, but as a repetition of the primordial transformation of chaos into cosmos by the dive act of Creation. He goes on to note that in this world view, a territory occupied for the purpose of being inhabited undergoes the transformation from chaos into cosmos. He gives the example of the Portuguese explorers, who put up crosses along the coasts where they passed – a practice detailed in Roger Crowley’s excellent book Conquerors – How Portugal Forged the First Global Empire (review). Moreover, he notes that the Archaic man gave most activities a sacred meaning:
‘To summarize, we might say that the archaic world knows nothing of “profane” activities: every act which has a definite meaning – hunting, fishing, agriculture; games, conflicts, sexuality, – in some way participates in the sacred. As we shall see more clearly later, the only profane activities are those which have no mythical meaning, that is, which lack exemplary models. Thus we may say that every responsible activity in pursuit of a definite end is, for the archaic world, a ritual.’Mircae Eliade – The Myth of the Eternal Return. Page 27-28.
From this perspective, we could say that whenever we pray in the Temple of Iron we repeat the primordial act of creating cosmos from chaos. It can also be seen as Mithras’ struggle against the cosmic bull that he sacrifices. There are plenty of spiritual examples to choose from – in any case, praying in the Temple of Iron (strength training) is an act of overcoming yourself in order to create something higher (from chaos to cosmos).
Archetypes and Heroes
Reading the about the repetitions and Archetypes of Archaic man led me to think about a Twitter post I stumbled upon a while back, which basically said that LARPing (LARP = Live Action Role Playing) is a powerful spiritual tool that has been used by great men throughout history: Napoleon LARPed as Caesar, who LARPed as Alexander, who LARPed as Achilles, who LARPed as Hercules.
Thus, one can say that the Archetypal acts of repetition does create new history (even if viewing history as cyclical). This, in turn, led my thoughts to the profound quote by Yukio Mishima that appears in Sun and Steel (review), which is worth sharing in this context as well:
‘The cynicism that regards hero worship as comical is always shadowed by a sense of physical inferiority. Invariably, it is the man who believes himself to be physically lacking in heroic attributes who speaks mockingly of the hero.’Yukio Mishima – Sun and Steel
The Act of Creation
The author notes that for Archaic man, many of the rituals he partook in were repetitions of the act of Creation. By following an already established pattern, he could find his role in the Universe (perhaps many nihilists of our Modern World could benefit from such a mindset). The view of cyclical time and the repetition of the act of Creation can explain the concept of the Eternal Return (i.e. the title of the book).
‘Every New Year is a resumption of the time from the beginning, that is, a repetition of the cosmogony.’Mircae Eliade – The Myth of the Eternal Return. Page 54.
Periodic ceremonies could entail the expulsion of demons, diseases, and sins. This could take shape in the form of fasting, ablutions, and purification. Fasting has, as I detail in Dauntless, a number of health benefits – primarily autophagy (which is basically the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells). Fasting can also be used as a way to attain a certain mental clarity.
Two Views of Time – Cosmic Cycles and History
A central theme in the book is the two different views of time: Cosmic Cycles and History. As most readers are probably aware, the cyclical view of time is connected with Indo-European spirituality – Vedic tradition presents the four ages: Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga, and Kali Yuga (which we are in now). In Germanic tradition, Ragnarök is the event that ends the world – which will then be reborn. Christianity views time as History with a linear progression. Eliade notes that early Christian writers opposed the myth of the eternal return (cyclical time and periodic regeneration of history) but that it still found its way into Christian philosophy to a certain degree. This is an interesting discussion in the book, and the full implications of it lie beyond the scope of this article.
As I noted in a video (Paganism or Christianity. Should You Become a Catholic?) a few years back, the cyclical view of time is, one could argue, more natural for a European, who witnesses the cycle of the year – as opposed to the more static nature of the desert.
Misfortune and History and The Terror of History
In the chapter titled The Terror of History, the author elaborates on how humanity has dealt with History in the form of catastrophes and, generally speaking, bad times.
‘The foregoing chapters have abundantly illustrated the way in which men of the traditional civilizations tolerated history. The reader will remember that they defended themselves against it, either by periodically abolishing it through repetition of the cosmogony and a periodic regeneration of time or by giving historical events a metahistorical meaning, a meaning that was not only consoling but was above all coherent, that is, capable of being fitted into a well-consolidated system in which the cosmos and man’s existence had each its raison d’être.’Mircae Eliade – The Myth of the Eternal Return. Page 142.
In essence, one could say that the suffering became bearable if it had a meaning. This makes perfect sense and is an insight which can be useful to keep in mind. This brings to mind the Rune Hagalaz, which is a Rune of both destruction and creative destruction. The practical application of it can be to view any negative event as also bearing the seeds of something positive to come. I will elaborate on this at length later on.
At 162 pages, the book is quite concise and can be read and digested within a reasonable time frame. Even so, it is densely packed with interesting insights – an impressive amount of insights for so few pages! Thus, I can recommend it for those interested in Traditionalism, myth, and spirituality.
I look forward to getting further acquainted with the thoughts of Mircea Eliade!
The Nine Doors of Midgard by Edred Thorsson
Posted on July 26, 2022
I have read The Nine Doors of Midgard – A Curriculum of Rune-work by Edred Thorsson (Stephen E. Flowers). Reading this was a natural follow-up to the previous books I have reviewed: Icelandic Magic (review), Rune Might (review), and Revival of the Runes (review).
The Nine Doors of Midgard – A Curriculum of Rune-work is, as the subtitle suggests, a guide for practical applications of Rune magic. As I have stated before, I appreciate the amount of practical techniques Flowers presents in his works; I am always in search of techniques I can add to my meditations. Thus, I can, without further ado, highly recommend the book for anyone who wishes to start practising rune magic. For those who are unsure about the term magic, I discuss it briefly in this video: A Heads Up – Also, What Do I Mean By ‘Magic’?
As the title of the book suggests, the curriculum consists of nine doors – each door is a period of training, the training gets more complex for each door (and is dependent upon the training of the previous doors.
The Raido Rune Poem
The author presents a number of rune poems, each gives some insight into the mystery of the corresponding rune. One of the poems dear to my own heart is the following:
[Radio] Riding is in the hall
to every warrior easy
but very hard for the one who sits up on a powerful horse
over miles of road.
Paul Waggener mentions this poem in his Rune course as well. I, too, appreciate the wisdom in it. The insight is similar to the one presented in the great speech ‘The Man in the Arena‘ by Theodore Roosevelt. In its essence, it highlights the difference between talking about the things you will or could do and actually embarking upon a quest. This poem can be useful to keep in mind when dealing with doubts or detractors. You will find that those who are riding on a powerful horse (i.e. being on their own quests) are not the ones trying to denigrate your own efforts. Keeping this poem in mind is also valuable if you feel like things are not quite going exactly according to plan, they seldom do! As the poem says: riding (being on a quest) is hard. If it is not hard – time to set a higher pace!
A Beautiful Blessing
Under the title The Meal Stave, the author presents the following beautiful blessing to be used for drinks:
‘Drink of power, loaded with the force of life – flow into me and fill my being with energy without bound!’Edred Thorsson – The Nine Doors of Midgard. Page 32.
As I write this, I am enjoying my daily espresso and decided to bless it with the words above. Blessings like this have the added bonus of bringing gratitude (a high-vibration emotion) to one’s consciousness. In blessing my drink, I appreciate it more. Gratitude leads to happiness.
Biology of the Runes
The following no-nonsense explanation is given regarding the use of the Runes. I have mentioned blood memory in several Podcast episodes, and this ties into the concept quite well:
‘But why the Runes and not Chinese characters or Egyptian hieroglyphics? Most Gilders know the answer here. Because we are of Wōden (descended from him as our ancestral sovereign god-head), it is through his gifts – in their original forms – that we will most easily gain access to the hidden magical realms of ourselves and of the objective universe.’Edred Thorsson – The Nine Doors of Midgard. Page 42.
Germanic Soul and Metaphysics
The author notes that Asgard is the realm of consciousness and that focus on this realm is the highest form of consciousness. The nine realms of Germanic cosmology are connected to different aspects of the human being; this is a highly interesting discussion, and one that is relevant to many of the workings detailed in the book (I will meditate further upon these concepts and elaborate on them at a later point).
Moreover, he notes that ancient Germanic psychology does not only speak of a single soul but of a number of them, which are connected to the cosmology and together make up a whole person. As we have noted before, the author is not a fan of Christianity, and shares the following critique of the Christian view of the soul:
‘The “substance” in which the Runer works is the soul or psyche. The soul has become less and less well known in our culture as Christianity – with its primitive, unsophisticated, and confused psychology – slowly destroyed our knowledge of our souls and thus of ourselves.’Edred Thorsson – The Nine Doors of Midgard. Page 22.
On a personal note, I am greatly delighted to have discovered the depth and complexity of ancient Germanic metaphysics. Up until recently, I was unaware of this – thus, I can conclude that it was a good call to follow Odin’s encouragement and continue to seek spiritual wisdom. As I mentioned in a recent Podcast episode, I was hit by a certain energy a while back. The energy caused my hunger for knowledge to increase greatly. I cannot explain it in any other way than as a blessing from Odin.
Becoming familiar with the various realms is important when it comes to the practical applications of the Rune magic, as noted in the quote below. Moreover, this shift of consciousness is sometime the goal with certain meditations.
‘The normal ego-consciousness, the subjective I-focus of the self, is in or near the center of the soul, in or near the Midgard-center. Since this is where the magician normally lives, this is indeed the ideal center for this focus. However, when there is magic to be worked, this center can be shifted from the center to the apex of the soul – to the Asgard-center, if you will.’Edred Thorsson – The Nine Doors of Midgard. Page 162.
The author presents several useful meditation techniques. One of those is Elemental Breathing, which (briefly summarised) entails visualising yourself being surrounded by a sphere filled with an element (fire, for example). Your body is a vacuum within that space. As you breathe, visualise the element entering you with each breath. Breathe until you have absorbed all of the fire. I will experiment with this meditation both in the Temple of Iron and in other settings.
The author notes that in the Indo-European system (from which the Germanic and Indic systems are derived) breath was considered a source of spiritual power. This is worth keeping in mind when doing pranayama exercises – they are not foreign to us, which can be good to point out should someone say that they belong to another spiritual tradition.
As stated above, I can definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Runes and/or Germanic cosmology and metaphysics. It contains both interesting insights as well as plenty of instructions for practical applications of Rune magic. I enjoyed reading it and will continue to experiment with the techniques. Thank you, G, for the recommendation.
Onwards and upwards!
Hymns for the Gods – From Olympus to Asgard
Posted on July 21, 2022
I have had the pleasure of reading Hymns for the Gods – From Olympus to Asgard, published by Heliotroph Books. As the title suggests, the book contains hymns to the Graeco-Roman and Germanic Gods. It also contains an insightful introduction in which God, polytheism, metaphysics, and relevant topics are discussed. Thereafter, a number of Gods are introduced and hymns that can be recited (sung) to them are presented. Many of the hymns are quite beautiful, I might add!
‘We affirm that the mystic and perennial truths elucidated by the Orphic, Platonist, Asatru, and Vedic traditions are in fact uniquely and providentially suited to addressing the problems of modernity and post-modernity because they teach us the proper relationship of our selves to our experience, our selves to others, our selves to our spaces, and our selves to their source and cause. They lift our eyes upwards to reveal the fantastic and mysterious motions of the web of forces above us and give us the opportunity to live our lives attuned to that divine clockwork instead of being mindlessly tossed about by it.’– Hymns for the Gods
Plato’s Tripartite Soul
The author introduces Plato’s theory of the soul, which we encountered in our review of The Practical Art of Divine Magic by Patrick Dunn (as well as in my video: Lose Fat With Plato – Mental Technique to Resist Cravings).
In essence, Plato presents the soul (or psyche) as being divided in three:
- Logos – the rational charioteer. The head.
- Thumos – the white horse of will and spirit. The heart and solar plexus.
- Epithymetikon (Eros) – the black horse of desire. The belly and genitalia.
Note: in my own work, I use the term Thumos to mark spiritedness, the Faustian spirit, the Homeric yearn for glory.
Below is a beautiful prayer that appears in the book (the other prayers and hymns are in a similar style):
‘Poseidon of the waters,– Poseidon’s Prayer
God who sends the rollings waves,
May you with royal power
Spur my soul to greater works,
And, tireless with stallion’s might,
Grant us lives so full of life,
Abounding with your blessings’
Helios and Julian the Blessed
In the description of Helios, the author notes that Zeus-Helios was the favourite god of Julian the Blessed. Julian is perhaps more commonly known as ‘Julian the Apostate’, which is the name given to him by Christians. Julian was emperor between 361 and 363 CE and attempted to restore Paganism to the Roman Empire (hence the aversion Christians have felt towards him throughout the centuries). Julian the Blessed sounds good, so I will use it henceforth when referring to him.
On a personal note, Helios has always been close to my own heart. My pantheon is otherwise dominated by Germanic gods. This is something I will elaborate on at length later on, but what we can say for now is that I am, as keen readers of my book reviews may have noted, looking for the Indo-European roots of the gods. Thus, I do not view Helios as a foreign god, nor do I necessarily view some of the Vedic gods as particularly foreign – especially since we noted the following in Revolt Against the Modern World (review):
‘In relation to the Aryan element, in India the attribute used for salvific deities and heroes is hari and harit, a term which means both “the golden one” (in relation to the primordial cycle: Apollo, Horus, etc.) and the “blond god.”’Julius Evola – Revolt Against the Modern World. Page 245.
In the description of Hermes the Messenger, the author shares the following insight, which I found interesting:
‘As the bridge between higher and lower, matter and Intellect, Hermes is the leader, the serial fountainhead, of Soul in the specifically Neoplatonic sense. This is because Soul is the intermediary between the unchanging Intellect and ever-changing matter and therefore becomes the first layer of godhead which could be said to be mobile, interacting with time and space but not contained by them.’– Hymns for the Gods
Speaking of the Soul and Neoplatonism, Keith Woods recently made an interesting video on the subject, which can be watched here: The Ascent of the Soul in Neoplatonism.
Hymns for the Gods is rather concise and therefore does not present a great time investment. It can be viewed as a handbook that can be used alongside one’s worship. The cover is also really nice – great work by Brendan Heard of the Aureus Press! I can definitely recommend the book for someone interested in the subject.
You must be logged in to post a comment.