Leisure: The Basis of Culture

“In our bourgeois western world, total labor has vanquished leisure. Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for non-activity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture.. and ourselves” images.duckduckgo.com

– Josef Pieper

This is the opening missive in an extended essay entitled Leisure: the Basis of Culture, one that I just finished reading and found particularly striking in its accuracy and conviction. The sentiment is postulated that total work as it currently makes the crutch of society, is dehumanizing and lacking in the spiritual and divine counterpart which is free leisure. In the essay Pieper explains how leisure was the foundation of Western culture, that hearkens back to Aristotle’s time, when he was writing his politics. He splits the hair between intellectual work and worker, Kant and the Romantics, how knowledge is related to work, and what the modern picture of work looks like now. He uses many greek terms, like acedia (meaning sloth or the inability to fully enjoy leisure), and brings in mythological figures like Sisyphus to represent the quandary of working for works sake, without taking the divine rite of ceremony between works. Attention is paid to the feasting days, when humanities gathered to worship, and let down their industriousness for at least one day a week in the name of his or her Gods.

Personally speaking, I have held the notion that our indigenous ancestors did not work as much as we do today, partly in reason that they were far more efficient than we are, and did not have a superfluous field of work that is so irrelevant to any sense of well being. Their ‘work’ revolved around procuring the basic needs of life, hunting for meat and fish, foraging wild food or growing it from the soil, procuring and bettering the shelter, midwifing, raising children, making tools and keeping them in good shape, fixing implements, boats, weapons, and tending the homestead.

Henry David Thoreau statue located by his Walden cabin replica, next to the Thoreau Society stor ...These would not all be done in one day however, and a lot of leisure time was freed up midway the tasks. Some anthropological studies I have heard stated that our tribal nomadic ancestors worked as little as 3 hours a day, while agrarian people around 6 hours, while the rest of the day was spent in leisure; singing, practicing their faith, making jokes, sitting around a fire eating or drinking stimulating foods and plants, making music, dancing and laughing. All the finer things in life, many of them, as Henry David Thoreau spoke of in Walden, makes to better an existence. The simple and beautiful things that make us essentially human.

Fast forward to the 21st century and it is easy to recognize how industrialized, co-modified, regaled, regimented, oppressive, and labor intensive the modern working man and woman fits into his world. One does not work to live; one lives to work, but shall the objective be to ‘work so we may have leisure’. All spiritual tangents come when the mundane work is done and the sacred work begins. The sacral can be infused into normal work as well of course, but the objection is about man’s enslavement to his work.

‘But the Gods, taking pity on mankind, born to work, laid down the succession of recurring Feasts to restore them from their fatigue, and gave them the Muses, and Apollo their leader, and Dionysus, as companions in their Feasts, so that nourishing themselves in festive companionship with the Gods, they should again stand upright and erect. – Plato

My own bias reveals what I think about this social stratification, and my careful observations of the working world, and as a hard worker who also enjoys plenty of rest myself, I have reached a conclusion that man is rather foolish, an echo Nietzche in saying that most of his work is futile, and that he is the accumulation of dust, as the north Germanic rune poem reads. I encounter many folks and have during my  travels who appear to be completely in bondage to their work, unhappy, misdirected and seeking a way out. During their time off, they ‘spend’ their time, literally or figuratively on experiences that have no substantial meaning or value like watching movies, or inebriating their mind with libations and speak no good words amongst others who are on the same level. Their energy is completely spent on their work, so often they will fill their leisure with more work, and eventually suffer burnout because they were never able to open the window for the divine to influence their leisure. Virtues can be obscured to the depth of masochism wherein a kind of believed true virtue only gains merit through struggle. Instead of mastering their natural bent in day to day life, to extract and refine the idle hours down into pure experience of leisure, the times are whittled away until they become recognizable, and he loses his will to power and his drive for spirit.

The Education of Ancient Greece | Interesting Facts for Kids

Aquinas writes “It is necessary for the perfection of human society, that there should be men who devote their lives to contemplation -nota bene, necessary not only for the good of the individual who so devotes himself but for the good of human society.”

Culture lives on in religion, and tradition through divine worship. And when culture itself in endangered, and leisure is called in question, there is only on thing to be done, to go back to the first and original source. The forced onset of total labor and man in perpetual work is like Sisyphus pushing his burden, never stopping to ask why? I think this book opens a lot of interesting materials and cover some ground that I have been perpetually looking to traverse in the classic literature. It is the only essay I know of in its kind, and hits close to home because I have always suffered my own questions and doubts of the modern workaday world, the relevancy of it all, and the importance of real work imbued with meaning. I think it is our job, our prerogative as human beings to truly embrace the being part of human, where leisure is allowed to thrive. Too often we are simply human doings, following a set of parameters and being far too good sheep. To step out of the constant, on tap supply, of doing and working oneself into the ground, take time out to write, lose your mind in a real work of great literature, recognize the ancient pagan holidays, and enjoy the finer strains of music, art or architecture that the centennial ages of yore have given us through leisure. Stop re-creating and re-acting and start creating new things, ideas, artworks and songs that out progenitors can behold and understand what it meant to live as full humans, all the way alive.

The One Eyed God: Odin & The (Indo) Germanic Männerbünde review

This is a book I have been trying to get my hands on for nearly five years while I perused the amazon market and found only overprices used copies and out of print stock from foreign distributors. As part of the old Galgragildi curriculum, it is one that intrigued my interest early on when I first forayed into the schools of heathenism and proto-European study. It is published by the Journal of Indo-European studies, written by Kris Kershaw.

The One Eyed God (referring to Odin), is a dense and academic work focusing on the central tenets revolving around the myth of Odin (wodanaz) and the various symbolic attributes that are ascribed to or involved with him, mainly speaking, the male oriented cult of initiation, the Mannerbunde. The archaic rites and rituals of the Mannerbunde are observe first from Scandinavian and European sources, in the gangs of Berserker and Ulfhednar, and then further into the Greek, Roman, Latin, Celtic, and Indo-Aryan sources, as well as the cults of Vedic-era India. Kershaw mines into great detail using heavy notations, and sourcing of scholarly works sourcing several languages and often referring to many at once in each sub chapter, this makes it a challenging read, but there is a conceptual and organized arrangement of the multi-faceted aspects of his central theme. To get an idea of some of the headings assuming the subject matter of each chapter, are; ‘The Einheriar, Furor Teutonicus, The Vratyas, Odin Analogs, warrior brahmins, Rudra, darkness dogs and death, and so forth.

After starting with the Indo European sources discussing early brotherhoods, the wild hunt, agrarian rites of sacrifice, old customs and beliefs, he branches further out into the greater European sources, talking about ancestor cults, the formations of cities like Roman by theriomorphic demigods and roving bands of outlaw men, and then further back into the Indian texts, and information about the Saivites, the Aghori, the soma cults, etc. There is much to digest, and I would suggest reading slowly. The book can be hard to follow at times with the constant language switching and annotations, so one might find themselves glossing over words or sentences that can be hard to comprehend. But this is a purely scholarly work, and contains such a wealth of information for those who are truly seeking to understand more about the paradigms of the mannerbunde, male cults, the wild host, and these early Odinic wolf god attributes of pre-Christian Europe. The parallels with other mythologies are extremely valuable as well, and Kershaw does a good job of drawing the comparative similarities of customs and traditions over spans of time that the student with only a surface interest of these subjects would probably not associated as potentially linked. The implications of the continued tradition and roots of the mannerbunde is fairly intriguing though I don’t agree with all of it. For the serious reader, who wants to implore the mysteries of the proto-cultic brotherhoods and early gang mentality of the early European empire, this is a solid read.

The Longhouse Ontology

“How is the longhouse a part of the longue durée? – in this context begs the question: Is living with plants and animals a part of the longue durée? How are these other beings so deeply embedded in the farmscape and lifespace that they are fundamental to being? Partly, the answer surely lies in their immutability, the cyclical nature of farming life, in which life is centered around animals and plants, individuals die, but the life force of the flock, the plants and the family remains. The farmhouse as an anchoring point brings all of these farming practices together. The farmhouse can thus be seen as an ontology unto itself, the basic framework upon which every aspect of life depended. The framework of the longhouse appears to have been a physical, spatial as well as embodied, structuring principle upon which social relationships were given meaning and were played out.”

-Kristin Armstrong Oma, excerpt from The Agrarian Life of the North 2000 BC to AD 1000, Studies in Rural Settlement and Farming in Norway, from the article Long Time – Long House

Witnessing the Similarities between the Popul Vuh, and the Icelandic Sagas

The Keq’chi Maya are an indigenous people that live throughout Guatemala and primarily in the states of Alta Verapaz and Peten in the cloud forests of the North. The prominence of their mythological tradition stems from  a book entitled the Popul Vuh, an ancient text that tells the stories of the early Keq’chi or Quiche, the creation of the world and different phenomena, familial geneologies, and folk legends. Through the language of exaggerated narration, memory, and representation, the Mayan Keq’chi beliefs and cosmology comes to be known. The translation I am reading is from Latin to English, and contains deep anthropological, theological, historical, and traditionalist fields in which to understand it from.

As a student of old Teutonic culture, Norse Mythology, and the Icelandic Edda and Saga literature, my usual bent is towards the branches of text that stem from the North Germanic regions, and pan-Scandinavian customs. I have read probably a few hundred works, folk stories, and legends that originate in the Icelandic tomes, yet I remain culturally sensitive in my travels and heavily influenced by the local languages and societies, so on a recent trip to Guatemala, I have been reading said book, the Popul Vuh, and without intervention on my own part have been noticing the similarities in these two vastly different branches of ancient civilization.

Kennings: Something any well read reader of the Icelandic Sagas and indeed the Edda or Amma, will indeed know and understand the use of kennings. Cheiftain Snorri Sturluson was the infamous Icelander who helped devise many of these kennings, and in my own opinion they are the lynchpin of all Icelandic mythology. They represent the advancement of language and poetry which the literate Northmen had even before the Christian Era, when almost all literature was instead composed by monks. To be simple, a kenning is a set of words or references to a single thing, idea, or phenomena. The kenning can be another way of speaking about something that is mentioned far too often, thus making it redundant, and in the Icelandic sagas, this happens a lot. For instance a Viking ship may easily be called by its name, but using kennings and compounded kennings allows the writer to implore their imagination into the subject, and the reader to create more verbally textual memories of the passage by thinking of it from a different angle. An example would be to call the ship as the ‘brine stallion’, ‘the wave horse’, ‘the vessel on the fish’s bath’, and so forth. In the Popul Vuh, I also observed this custom of using kennings in a similar fashion for instance in Ch. 7 of Part II, when a hawk is referred to as ‘he who devours snakes in the corn fields’, or when the Earth was created it was formed by ‘the Heart of Heaven, and the Heart of Earth’. The names of animals and trees are also referenced by many different words for instance the gum as ‘noh’ and ‘pericon’, and a different tree that exudes red resin is known as the ‘dragons blood’, or the ‘heart of man’. The kennings used in the Popul Vuh are indeed of a different calibre than those used in Icelandic literature, and of course for the purists they may say there is no comparison at all and each one is exclusively unique of itself, and that may be true as well, but for now I am only drawing certain arrangements of patterns between the two kinds of literature, what we might called an indigenous literacy, or ancient language style, that perhaps is lost to us now in our dialects and poetical minds.

Geneologies: The Sagas of the Norse Kings or ‘the Resultado de imagen de heimskringlaHeimskringla’ is but one major work of the Scandinavia northlands that deserves attention here, for it is literally all about geneology from the last Kings of Norway all the way back to the descendant lines of Yngvi-Frey or the Ynglings and that of Odin. Geneology and heritage in these works are sometimes daunting and monumental and it was only after several years of reading the Sagas and stories that I began to pick through them with any clarity rather than skipping through them. It is not uncommon in the first few paragraphs of a heroic saga to mention the familial ties ranging back as far as three, four, or five generations, naming each mother and father, grandmother and grandfather, each son and daughter and cousin. This can go one to the point of seeming mundanity and confusion as the Icelandic naming tradition, as in any culture had a specific set of names for males and females and names are often repeated within family lines. This kind of chaotic order of tracing geneology is fascinating for scholars but to the average reader can be offputting. A typical passage might enumarate the relatives of “Leif, who is son of Bestla and Bjorn, who also bore daughters Ingrid, Hildagard, and Solveig, and sons Ragnar, Svart, and Svein. Solveig also had two sons, one named Bjorn and the other Ivar. Leif’s grandfather was a wealthy chieftain in Iceland and had many wives ‘Astrid, Helga, and Bjork’, who in turn gave him many sons, Bjorn, Leif’s father being one of them.” I am just making this passage up but this is respectively how the opening passages of a true Icelandic saga can be expected. In the Popul Vuh, I came across this same kind of nomenclature of the men and women, and their familial ties. The opening of part II reads “Here is the story. Here are the names of Hun-Hunahpu and Vucub-Hunahpu, as they are called. Their parents were Xpiyacoc and Xmucane. During the night Hun-Hunahpu and Vucub-Hunahpu were born of Xpiyacoc and Xmucane. Well now, Hun-Hunahpu had begotten two sons, the first was called Hunbatz, and the second Hunchouen. The mother of the two sons was called Xbaquiyalo. Thus was the wife of Hun-hunahpu called. As for the other son, Vucub-Hunahpu, he had no wife, he was single.” And so it goes on like this naming off several members until all are accounted for, and then sometime later in the story they will make their appearance to some imporant degree, or be named specifically because they are to be known for some reference point of meaning.

Resultado de imagen de popul vuhDrama/Violence: Any good saga has some violence in it, and sometimes it is extremely amusing to read of the antics that a band of stoutly countrymen inflict upon each other. Iceland was a lawless country for a long time, and several parts of the glacier country was known as the utangard because of the many horse trails that crossed it, lingering with thieves, murderers and outlaws. If I remember correctly, there is a passage in one of the Sagas involving a breeched whale, wherein a conflict between two Vikings arises, and they are fighting on the back of the whale while it is being cut by others for the blubber. Here are the men in a holmgang or duel, and one of them is struck with the sword to his death. Just about every saga, even the romance genres are filled with duels, wrestling, revenge, killing, and domestic violence. In the Popul Vuh, there is also a high focus on violence and warfare.
The place of Xibalba for instance is a house of torture. When Hunahpu and Xbalanque are tricked by the Lords of Xibalba, they go through several chambers and places in which different types of discomfort, pain and violence are treated to them. They enter the house of Jaguars, where they must throw bones to the animals so that they not bite them. They go into the House of Fire, which inside ‘was only fire’, or the House of Bats, which sheletered a creature that killed using its stingers. The bizzare and strange ways of torture are also complemented with human violence, in the way the head of Hunahpu is used for play in the ball game, a kind of primitive Mayan soccer that is itself incredibly aggresive that might make the British football teams seem tame. The violence in both this Mayan/Central American literature and the far sub-arctic North are worlds apart, yet add a kind of comic relief, and may intrigue readers of general novels to reading both of these works.

The last that I wish to mention, although there may be more ties I can draw out, is the evident nature of the oral tradition. The Popul Vuh IS the word, and thus the Saga is too the story of someone or several people retelling actual events but through a lens that is subjective and often exxagerate or phantasized. Regardless, these books are dictums of the oral tradition and passing on stories from one generation to the next, and the fact that we still have them here with us, even if they be translated from heiroglyphs, runes, latin, or proto-Norse is besides the point. They have simply survived because of their remarkable nature and remain classics because they are so interesting and compelling to read. I certainly could not read nothing but Icelandic sagas for all my days sitting in a rocking chair and imagining Viking warbands conquering the land, but it is fun to indulge in that sometimes, and the same to read the very primal sources of ancient cultures through a different lense, and being able to draw from it, the sources of its humanness and roots of our language.

Yagé Letters review

This tome is a collection of the letters between Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, who both took individual journeys down into the Amazon searching for the Vine of Spirits, although it was not called as such at the time, and known locally as Yagé. In this redux version it is split first into Burrough’s letters, followed by Ginberg’s. It is noteworthy to mention because they are some of the first published literature concerning the ayahuasca medicine, only precluded by the Ayahuasca Analogues of Jonathon Ott, and is worth a read for those psychonauts and people interested in pharmacology, anthropology, or psychedelics. In Burroughs’ letters, a rather vulgar language pervades, and aesthetes of his earlier characters come through, such as his past addiction to drugs, being a junkie, and his homosexual tendencies. A few passages, I found that must have been quite controversial to publish at the times of the first pressings, but it is about the hunt for this plant, so I will get back to that. Burroughs’ finds some of the shamans who administer the ayahuasca brew to him on several occasions, and his letters are heavily focused on the sickness he feels at the time, and the struggles of his travels, he writes fervently sometimes in a dis-coherent manner to Ginsberg for support, and seems to approach the ayahuasca in a kind of naive way at times. Ginsbergs letters on the other hand are very humble, and he writes to Burroughs like seeking help from his guru. He perhaps has the more intense and authentic experiences in my opinion with the plant.

There are some insightful takeaways from this book, for instance, the name Yagé as the plant moniker, is not the only name for Ayahuasca, in fact it can be a different plant mixture altogether, of different herbs, and is named locally according to which tribe lands it grows in. You will have to read it yourself to find out the other names, but I was able to sit through this one in 1 day, it’s not a long or exhaustive read at all and because of its nature of dealing with this still conspicuous plant, the chewy biological information is lacking. This became a cult book, and still stands as an interesting window into the early days of how Ayahuasca made its way into the western world. A must for any connoisseur of drug literature.

Aldous Huxleys Island: review

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I just finished reading, and experiencing Huxley’s utopian novel Island, the third of his works I have bitten off now after the Doors of Perception, and Brave New World, and this is another work of genius, foresight, ingenuity, and pioneer literatureship, is that a word? Now it is.

Where in Brave New World, a strange society, and strange is the world for it was quite removed from it’s political and social setting of the time, is set as the status quo, a population of genetically engineered beings, who are perfect in every way, with manicured behaviors, and conformist attitudes, and if anything happens there is always Soma. This narrative is one of futuristic outlook on a rapidly evolving world and the authors own subjective fantastic analysis of one of it’s possible outcomes. The upheaval of a hyper-modern and industrial age, set betwixt an aristocratic backdrop of representative England, and the savage and brutal worlds of American and Iceland, for those that missed those references. While in The Doors of Perception, there is a personal account of a self-induced experience with the alkaloid mescaline, and a kind of social commentary of drugs, medicine, social politics, and a slew of interesting academic brain scratchers, it really gets you thinking in a transcendental way. But I think Island is the most approachable so far I have read, for someone who is looking for a lighter work with a higher spiritual inclination. It is a book that was relevant then, and I would say is even more so important to read today, and its subject matters are something growing in concern for us all. The revolving themes of colonization, industrialization, modernism, teaching, drug use (in an atavistic religious way), community forming, human behavior, consciousness and a few other metaphysical concepts that are intersticed through the grain of this work.
The subjects are part of the everyday life of the people of Pala, a small island in the tropics, with a stable population of essentially Indo-Europeans, tuned onto Mahayana Buddhism, self-sustainability, and radical schooling. This is a dart on the bulls-eye for all those out there who are interested in seeing the precepts in potentia, or theorizing and observing how they can function in a small population, so I would recommend it not only to people like permaculturalists, environmentalist country folk, psychedelic thinkers and activists, but also vastly different personalities like city planners, politicians, and government officials, though for that sake, I don’t really have the latter in my friend circle.

Will Farnaby is washed ashore this island, and gradually starts to meet the ‘indigenous’ people there, and it is through him and his questions, juxtaposed through a ‘your way and our way’ perspective, that is of Pala vs. the West/America. The main character comes with his problems, nervosas, and issues, and gradually learns, through the brilliant mind of Huxley’s fictional residents, what a healthy population looks like, how it works, and what to be aware of. That is a key thing throughout the book, awareness, and is quite humoristic in the way it is passed across. The people of Pala came from abroad, but chose to settle here, until they were reformed, and started to practice a kind of spiritually enlightened branch of Buddhism. There are these religious tenets stuck in through the daily life and text of this book that even I found highly intriguing from a heathen perspective because it is not overbearing or dogmatic in any way. The island has something they call mutual adoption clubs, which is a practice that most indigenous tribes of the Amazon, Africa and the rest of South America instilled in the upbringing of their offspring. Image result for huxley islandBasically these were larger tribal families, and one child had several mothers, several fathers, and many siblings, so there  was a preservation of diversity of care, intelligence, teaching, and discipline. This was one of the main teaching points I thought, and represents how far modern families have diverged from this healthy paradigm, where now the nuclear family, usually 2 parents, 2 children of opposite sex, all living in the same house until the children reach full maturity, which ironically takes about 18-20 years in these conditions, and sometimes embarrassingly longer. The youth are stifled from lack of attention, integration with society, and a diminished form of love when being raised, and family socialism becomes a kind of limitation for interaction with the world, the neighbors and even stagnates by itself in the household, because of having no outlet for problem venting. So the nuclear family vs. the mutual adoption society is a keen thing that is addressed, but in a novel sentimental way. Huxley has a way of conveyance that opens empathy, sympathy, and mutual understanding.

Another rather taboo confluence of thoughts that runs through the book is the use of indigenous drugs for conscious altering experiences. Not for the sake of pure hedonism and leisure, but as medicine. This is the distinguished difference here. Today we smoke weed for leisure, at least the majority, for thrills, for sexual stamina, and sometimes there is nothing wrong with this, but the medicinal value is often disregarded or forgotten and instead the commercialism of product reigns in its place. The people of Pala use something they call the moksha-medicine, which early in the book they refer to the biology of, in what I took to be the Amanita, even describing it as red, but then later talking about the effects, and considering the climate and ecology they exist in, I am rather convinced it may be Psilocybin but it is hard to say, as also Asian shamans have traditionally used the Muscaria, and not the latter. I would have to consult Huxley’s ghost for that, but it’s Image result for mynah birdbeside the important point, and would be missing the meal offered here. The Palanese use this medicine, and encourage to youth to take it as a rite of passage, after they have undergone an ordeal. So it is shamanic in nature. Their reasoning is, the moksha can take one to vistas of the luminous bliss and light, to realms that are beyond the mundane, the ordinary, and profane, while their spiritual practices, like anger management, and all the Yogas of being they persuade are ways to maintain the perpetual course taken to preserve the closeness of that state. In the end, Will Farnaby himself takes the moksha medicine, and is elaborated through a psychedelic experience that would make McKenna blush, and Lovecraft grin. The advocacy of this drug, and their philosophical stance of control over consumption should be a model for this bizarre paradigm most of the developed world, especially first world, still tries to impart with the war on drugs. They are only drugs, because their healing and evolutionary properties are undermined, and used improperly.

Their use of Yogas I highly admire, as well from Aldous’ view essentially, exudes a more subtle truth of the real Yoga. Something I was turned off of for a couple years, after heavy intensive practice in my early-twenties because of the sheer commercialization, profit mongering, and pseudo-spirituality that surrounded that scene. I just didn’t want to be part of it. But the Palanese practice a form of personalized and subjective yoga that I think is way more important, one that goes to the roots. Of ‘yoking’ with the intentional actions of their body, and will, thus building soul. It really just has a lot to do with awareness of everyday passing ons, and proper behavior. There are no deep secrets in this yoga, which I also practice every day in my own lifestyle, even this very minute. So there are things like the yoga of love making, the yoga of not doing, the yoga of remembering, the yoga of speaking, and every other niche sympathetic, and mechanical function we have as humans. This is part of the Palanese teaching, as well as a unique kind of stress management. Using energy arising from possibly violent tendencies and turning them towards productive means. They have a whole group who just chop wood, or scale cliffs, or stamp their feet in a bizarre dance form. They cultivate skepticism in their youth, and teaching them all the practical sciences when they are young, the hard stuff first, which I think is really radical. The children grow up to actually appreciate the relative simplicity of surviving, and thriving through responsibility and change. They have an interesting experiment that involves checking their sons/daughters for hypnotic tendencies, because they can then be taught to defend themselves against future commanders, authority, outsiders, religious fanatics and militants, into exploiting them.
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Pala is a picture of an organic community that has not been developed, they have no wars, no plantations or factories, no harbor for possible invasion, no self-defeatist and dogmatic religions, or surplus, no need to import or export. They are their own microcosm, where the individual is as sovereign as the whole. I would be interested to know if the general plot of the Western man who visits a native population, still in touch with their spiritual heritage and animistic lifestyle, using entheogens and cut off from the world mimics Ernst Junger’s work A visit to Godenholm? If anyone has read it in German or the English translation, I would love to hear about it. Also if anyone might recommend another gem in Huxley’s line up, because he has quite the stack of literature he was written, I am really getting to be absorbed by his mind. Their are many take-aways from this one, insights into our certain cultural crisis’, personal sentiments, empathy of characters in sometimes dark ways, and an intriguing eye into thinking you are actually reading a real anthropological account of a lost people, which I love.

Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky: review

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Believe it or not, Jung wrote a book on UFO’s and it took me a couple years to find it, but I finally tracked down a copy here in the Newfoundland University library, to which I left quite happily with. It’s a short book, only 145 pages with the epilogue but it is a worthwhile tome, and reads like a full book. There are copious mythological and archetypal references in here and a full dose of symbolical language, that I found I had to read several times over before getting a grasp on it. It is one of these books that require its readers to be familiar with several others of Jung’s work before really diving in, and is worth its weight for any scholar or amateur researcher to pick it up.

The first chapter which I found most useful and helpful is ‘UFOS in rumors’, which Jung in his traditional verbose language dives into the psychological and analytical nature of these flying saucers, touching on the links to a post-war collective consciousness, but also digs into random anomalies like the diversity and variance of how these UFO’s have been experienced through time at different geographies, set and settings, through those both with former knowledge of them, and without. Jung talks about how the rumor mills came to take an empirical existence in the form of these archetypal flying saucers, and why they mean what they mean to us even today. Then he goes on to talk about the early radar stations that were set up, the influence of George Orwell, and the involvement with military aircraft sites in building up the mythos of the UFO. I found all this information intriguing, and easy enough to believe. The psychic aspect he postulates is quite convincing, and though he was not going out to prove or disprove anything, he offers the clearest window into the phenomena the world had at the time in the late 1950’s. So this was quite novel, written over 5 centuries ago, and really captured people’s imagination. Jung goes into all the metaphysical reasons why they can and should exist, in his sort of psycho-analytical praxis, as if these flying saucers were part of a universal language of emblematic symbols, belonging to humankind, which they actually are.

The second part is about UFO’s in dreams, and for it’s worth is a study not only of the dream evidence of flying saucers and everything that comes with it, like little men, voices, sexual imagery, and strange lights, but also a mine of symbolic figures, historical reference, psychology, cultural mythology, and mathematical genius. A lot of it went over my head, no joke intended, as my insight and knowledge of all the worlds different archetypal pantheon of gods, deities, religions, metaphysics and such is shallow compared to anyone like Jung, and he really goes deep with it, to the point of it seeming like fantastical association. After the dream, he goes into the commentary, where the big words and references come in, and where the reader needs to know about his other works; to which I would suggest Man & His Symbols, his Black Books a.k.a. Dream books, and perhaps the Red Book. So he relates the dreams through these filters of information of what they represent. For this part I find even reading the dreams alone, stimulating in a more sensual, imaginative way. Some of the interpretations are quite bizarre

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The third part looks at some UFO’s in paintings at the time, and talks about the artwork which is a nice part if you are artistically inclined, they are what I would call psychedelic paintings, for the way in which they were painted. Printed here in black and white, but still capturing the imagination in very obscure and provocative ways. The intentions behind the paintings are very peculiar and worthwhile to read if you have interest in art history.

The fourth part is the previous history of the UFO phenomenon and looks back at some documents, literature and engravings that hint at things that relate to UFO’s though they may not have been called such at the time. Some of these are from well known medieval works, and I found this to be kind of a testament that this is not some just a science fiction illusion of the 21st century but something as well our ancestors experienced, and preserved the memory of through writing about it, or making emblematic art directly inspired by the experience. These engravings and representations of the UFO come from an age that to us seems less learned, but actually it was a time in which things like flying saucers were observed without the same criticism we see today.

The last part before the epilogue is about the flying saucers in a non-psychological light. So if there is any physical evidence, than what are they? Jung kind of ask a lot of probing questions and leaves it open ended. I will probably give sections of this book a re-read, because it is fascinating, and I know there are a lot of hidden gems of information in there. The epilogue is about another experience, by someone named Orfeo Angelucci, written in rather a prosaic style, I don’t know if it was the mood I was in, but this account really felt involving, and made me think of a couple scenes from Fantastic Planet, for it’s strangeness, contact with the Other, and then the kind of psychedelic come down into mundane humane routine, and talks about Orfeo’s re-experiencing of contact, and willingness to talk about it, for which he is ridiculed of course. Jung’s work also forced me to think about my experience with some kind of ‘unidentified flying object’ that I saw over a jungle in Yucatan, to whom I haven’t really related to as a story to anyone outside the country, for it is a rather local phenomena.


The value of this book I think is underrated, and has a lot of relevance for the whole conspiracy theory movement of today in which to understand it by. This is a tool for those seeking to settle with the unknown, and as Jung calls it, the collective union with the subconscious into a self that is whole.

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World review

Before reading this part biographical, part memoir and historical account of Humboldt’s life and journeys in South America, Russia and Venezuela, I can honestly admit I did not know the character. A man well before other naturalist writers, like Muir, Thoreau, Darwin, & Haeckel. His life works came to inject a current of holistic understanding into nature’s complex biography. This tome written by Andrea Wulf, literates Humboldt’s well, not so humble beginnings, he was born into an aristocratic family, though his mother and father always expected more from him. For years they tried to shape him on the potting wheel of the latest moral ideals of that time. There is a stress on the political climate of Humboldt’s childhood right through his coming of age, and later years of life. There are descriptions of him and his brother, who seemed to long for entirely different ideals in life, one entirely reserved on his studies of language and scholarly things, and one on completely immersion in nature. This is an interesting kind of ‘twin paradox’, though the brothers were not twins, but are archetypal of the diversity of even closest relatives and the mystique of what fate becomes a man, regardless of birthplace, parental heritage, or cultural surroundings. It actually reminds me somewhat of the split in persona between myself and my own brother, one (the author of this journal) a wanderer, feral, and extrovertive with the right people and places, the other, rather sedentary, domesticated and reserved. After this early smoke clears and goes through Humbdolts desires to travel, he eventually finds a place on a ship and makes a journey through Venezuela and the Americas of the new world.

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What follows are sweeping prosaic accounts of his personal steps in a time before plane travel, and mass tourism. I find these narratives of old most interesting for their pioneering value, the adventures in the jungle were not catered and mapped out along distinguished tourist routes like what modern day Latin and Central America. Those who visited these parts of the world were left to their own devices, brought in their own maps, or made them by hand, carried several scientific instruments, a camera was usually not one of them, made their own rations and food supplies, and relied on biological and botanical knowledge to read the landscapes they now inhabited. These were not just quick trips into the Amazon or the Andes for bragging rites, a few selfies and a return to the hotel. Humboldt met some of the Indigenous people and hired one or two of them along the way for assistance, but his journeys lasted longer than a year, in which he was collecting specimens, taking measurements, making sketches and diagrams, writing journals and hypothesis, analyzing natural phenomena, sending letters, pressing plants, and gathering knowledge from locals. These were exhaustive journeys.

The book follows his beautiful adventures in the Andes, and traces his observations on deforestation, man’s effect on nature, and slavery. But the main vein of his travels focus on the new insights he brings to the ontology of nature, his precious observations, and poetical way of narrating his account. He eventually meets Thomas Jefferson, and lives like his right hand man before returning back to Europe, stocked with new specimens, collections, books filled with data, and so forth. There is melancholy in his new life, as he drifts between London, Paris, and Berlin quite often, teaching lectures, classes, meeting with scientists and naturalists, and trying to plan another trip to India. Though his fame grows as he lives royally under honor of the King, but he doesn’t enjoy being back in Europe. There is an emphatic strain here I can relate to as he comes back from his epic adventures into the highly modernized and progressive Europe which is at war at the time. He feels a loss of authenticity and wonderment in his life. Something felt by almost all travelers I know after going home from a long time away in the world into foreign landscapes and cultures.

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After years of trying to convince a branch of the Indian government to allow him to travel there, he is still not permitted. But over thirty years later he finally is able to forge eastwards to undetake scientific research on geology and mining, which he uses an an excuse to wander through Russia, Mongolia and the China border of his own accord. The most important aspects of this book are his observations of the patterns of nature, such as what he observed at a river in Russia, where the plants on one bank are entirely different from the other, this posed a new theory of the geographical movement of different species across the land. And not only this but many of his thoughts were quite radical and praised at the time, the world beyond Europe was so exotic to the white man. Some things that are today common knowledge also took root in Humboldt’s ideas, like his Naturegemalde picture which showed the regions, lattitudes, and longitudes of plant and arboreal distribution, using a mountain as an emblem to show this and later compared his findings to studies in Europe and Russia.

After the portions about Humboldt, there are small sectionsImage result for alexander humboldt journey about other naturalist writers who came to know a kind of solitary fame, namely Darwin, Bonpland, Thoreau and Muir. There are passages from their books and journeys, all tying back to relations with Humboldt. For he built the skeleton which the others fleshed out in their own way. It is a pretty involving book and hard to put down, there are copious new ideas, and some historical views into the social situation at that time, so it serves for anthropological interest of me as well. I don’t think I am really giving justice to the near 350 pages of this work, but I found the same pleasure reading it, and it has lead me to his personal works which I may come to enjoy later.

The Heathen Eclectic Library

I have amassed a collection of rare books, discontinued works, transcripts from scholarly summits, symposiums and conferences, eddas, the icelandic and norwegian sagas in 6 different languages, indo-european studies, germanic heathen journalism, rune poems and rune tomes, ‘magic’ books, and language sources for icelandic, anglo-saxon, gothic, and old norse with translations to english. These also include a few of my published works, Runaz Sterno Skiwo (a book on a Nordic cosmology and runic star system), and Pillars of Ygg (a health and fitness regime). I have been collecting these works, books, and texts for near a decade with several works penned from involvement in different gild curriculums. I want to provide these to the heathen community, not charging for any authorized works but a reasonable to compensate for my own works, and the collection of several years of organizing this library. There are literally hundreds of .pdfs here which I will make into a disc for anyone interested. $30 is the asking price.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: review

So you’ve read 1984 and The Circle, and probably have a few other dusty dystopian novels sitting on your shelf, but have you gone so far back to the psychedelic mind of Huxley, even before Orwell’s tome? Based on a fictional society in London AD 2540, (if we get that far), the book is swelling with all the fears of the modern age that occupy the citizen of today. Savage exhibits, psyche conditioning, machine induced reporoduction lines, psyoachtive drugs, and artificially modeled sentience. The novel unravels a grim, but rather clean and ‘sophisticated’ summa of just 6 centuries of time ahead of that in which is was written, in a world where technology is running all full efficiency, and all ‘old world’ sentiments like love, beauty, tradition, and culture has been replaced by ‘feelies’, sex-hormone chewing gum, soma grams, and synthetic happiness. A loss of identity occurs that mirrors the Americanization of the world.

This book can be quite dense, which is why I opted for the audiobook (it’s rather ironic when I think about it). Huxley, whose imagination is on the far verge with other psychedelic thinkers like Leary, McKenna, and D.H. Lawrence, yet this work was produced by LSD was even synthesized. We are throw into a micro-controlled world, where people are raised from hatcheries into a caste system, perhaps those more perspicacious than I can already see this happening in the world of quantum physics, cloning, and experimental biology. It is a life no longer ruled by natural processes, and at every step of growth, the lower ranks of this caste are medicated by chemicals. I think of Dolly the sheep here, or the experiments to reproduce human tissues and programming new dna on a laptop while sitting at a cafe, all ideas and realities on the frontiers of modern science. A scary reality indeed.

These pseudo humans are controlled through subliminal messages. If you have ever seen ‘Fantastic Planet’, these are the scenes I think of, between the Draags and the Oms. Radical thinking is not allowed, and classic literature is taboo or banned. In my opinion I think we are already there, or partially guilty, when our modern libraries carry the drivel of lackluster fiction works on every shelf, but are rare or sparse in the classics, the sagas, or the philosophies or ‘politcally incorrect’. And our most radical thinkers are put in secret prisons for thought crimes, does this sound familiar? The ‘feelies’ live in a herd mind, where recreational sex, and an all powerful drug is administered if anything goes wrong. They are encouraged to keep in order, don’t stand out, don’t be alone, don’t look too weird, etc. It’s like the social media illusions that now 4 billion people play at, pretending to have real relationships, when in fact, their identity is locked up on a supercomputer without an un-hackable IP address, and anyone and everyone can get a biography of your everyday life with a few clever navigations on a laptop. Huxley invents a plethora of really clever mantras and memes ‘a gram is better than a damn’, ‘everyone belongs to everyone else’, and speaks to the confused, and ignorant state that the latest line of humans belong to, the only altered state of consciousness most of the world is going to embrace anyways.

I like the book for its satire, its ability to play with the reality of godlike ability, and its references to indiginous ‘savage’ culture. In some chapters of the book, the ‘feelies’ take their copters to America, behaving like tourists on holiday at these primitive resorts. They watch elder and people of the village who live in ‘filth’, and dance to beat of drums, and see their aesthetics as so far removed from themselves, that there is no real dynamic between them at all. One of the pseudo humans and the savages eventually fall in love, and the book takes on an ideological, questioning tone of the nature of behavior and freedoms. I enjoyed picturing these bizarre scenes, of a wild hunter gatherer in metropolis London, trying to bring liberty to the slaves. Something interesting happens when he escapes, which I will let you get to the end for. Another interesting bit is when the master of control threatens one of the feelies for acting out of line, saying he will send him to Iceland. It’s like Iceland is the opposite of this rigorous controlled existence, and from my visits here, it comes pretty close. Who would want to live in a self sustainable existence, in the country, with unexpectant weather and beauty anyways?

There are numerous allusions to modern day phenomena, and a unique humor that is rather lost in todays work in this genre, which can be appreciated even more if one can put themselves in the time frame this was written. One of the most lasting lines of this masterwork of Aldous Huxley’s was uttered by the savage when he is pressed to admit what he wants and is willing to accept in life, he says “the right to be unhappy”. I think it speaks volumes to the way that other people are trying to always rigidly keep us in one narrow minded frame of the human experience, to control the intake of stimulus, emotion, and sensation so we no longer find the variety of psycholigcal states as useful. Not only corporations and media, but authorities like teachers, parents, bosses. In my own opinion, there is nothing wrong with being unhappy, or troubled, or inconvenienced, or poor, because there is a contrast for all these emotions, and the basic spark behind them also keeps us thriving towards a greatness of our own. Brave New World, is one of those books that can be read more than once because it is so far out, and you might miss something the first time. If you read, or listen in my case, between the lines, you might pick out some valuable insights, lessons, or confronting ideas of the collective abstract ideas about the future, and of your own.