Valdr Galga

A friend of mine recently drew a Tarot for me. Not in the traditional way. He lives on the other side of the world, by an 8 hour time difference, but ritually enacted all the same, drew a card which coincidentally been the only Tarot I am familiar with. I am as you know, a vitki, and I study the runes as the main praxis for my magic and divination. However I have had recurring thoughts this last month about this figure and wanted to include this writing from our discussion about it. The Tarot source information is not original.

“The Hanged Man is the only Tarot card visibly based on a mythological figure. He is Odin, the Norse god who hung from the World Tree for nine days to earn the knowledge of the Runes. Of all the cultures who embody the search for knowledge in their myths, only Odin carries out his quest without moving, at least in the physical sense. The true quest is seeking within, not without. This may be confusing at first, but only because the Hanged Man is the card of the paradox. The Hanged Man’s mysteries are some of the oddest yet most 12_The_Hanged_Man_largeenlightening the Tarot has to offer, and they cannot be learned by searching for lessons in the physical world – you must turn within.

Even the appearance of the card is paradoxical. Simple in design, it is one of the more complex Arcana. The lessons it offers are easy to understand but hard to accept when they apply to you. The most obvious answer to a problem may be the simplest, but it is rarely the best. To admit that you are afraid will give you the strength to conquer your fear. When you relinquish your desire for control, everything begins to work as it should. In a world in which you must run as fast as you can to stay where you are, the Hanged Man tells you to stop struggling – and you can move forward. Tell this to others and it seems obvious; try to do it yourself and it will become impossible.

Why is this? Telling others that they have to hang from a tree is simple, but no one wants to hang himself. The Hanged Man, however, has hung himself, and see how much wisdom he has found! Despite his obviously uncomfortable position, he is often pictured as smiling, and with a golden halo around his head to show divine inspiration and power. He is totally vulnerable to the world, and in his vulnerability he has found strength. The sacrifice he has made is his own freedom and power in the physical world; in exchange, he is granted real freedom and power on the spiritual plane. He gives up his old ways of looking at things and is blessed with new eyes.

Not all sacrifices have to be like this, of course. Each moment of your life you make sacrifices. By choosing to eat with a friend rather than eating alone, you sacrifice your solitude. Choosing to play a sport professionally means that you cannot play another as frequently. Choosing one job means that you have to sacrifice any desires for another job, at least for the time being. The only thing in common between all sacrifices is that you give up something you have in exchange for something you want, of equal value. The sacrifice is meaningless unless there is balance and purpose behind it. To give without intent is worse than giving too much or too little.

As the card of the paradox, the Hanged Man also urges you to look at things in a new and different way. If your mind is yelling at you to do something, then doing nothing could be the best thing to do. If something is important to you emotionally but it no longer serves a purpose, you might want to think about letting go of it. And don’t try to force anything to happen while the Hanged Man is about. By trying to force changes, you ensure that they never happen. Relax and let things happen instead of trying to interfere. Instead of fighting against the current, let it take you wherever it is flowing.

When the Hanged Man appears, know that greater wisdom and happiness is at hand, but only if you are prepared to sacrifice something for that wisdom. Sometimes it is something physical you must be deprived of, but in most cases it is a perspective or a viewpoint that must be left behind. For example, a fantasy that you can never fulfill, or a crush on someone who’s out of your reach. Inevitably, sacrificing something you value will always lead you to something even more valuable. In the wake of an unattainable dream you will find something else within your reach. Forgetting about one love will allow your heart to open to someone else.

:Valdr galga: Ruler of the Gallows

It seems the only Tarot card I would thinking fitting for me, Woden has taken up presence within my hamr (shape), and continually tests me with his paradigms and tribulations, and initiations. I used to think that a true heathen worshiped Woden, and perhaps that can be said with some truth, but I do take it on a more metaphysical level. I don’t merely worship him, I am Odhin/Wodhanaz, his name is derivative of madness, like that of the poetry writing skalds, divine inspiration, and berserkerdom (his mannerbunde clan).

Yes, alas I have my own theories and conclusions about the tarot, one of them a general criticism I carry for a lot of religious and neo-spiritual phenomena that I think have pseudo meaning, and lacking in any authentic praxis and observable magical value. It is called the Forer effect, which is simply “the observation that individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people”. But those are opinionated based ideas, my own, and of course Tarot can be used as a valid tool.

WOlOdinHangingI can see this writing has taken a lot of influence from the Germanic psycho-social complex as well in describing the hanged man as the paradox. There is not much to presume in a man hanged, by or not of his own doing that suggests paradox but it is Odhin’s other characteristics and his works within the nine worlds and his past times on Middle Earth that give him the kenning of the paradoxical Ase (god). I follow the Odian path of self sacrifice everyday, which means I must always slough off the skin of my old self with each waking, and become a new. I create my own archetype, whose name in this narrative is called Odhin/Wotan/Wodanaz etc. and progress onwards and upwards to meet the new reality I create for myself as godhead. I can not simply rest, because Woden is a chieftain, he has things to do, and people to see, and values to uphold as an example to the rest of his kin. I do though see the vital importance of material sacrifice as a heathen. Learning not just what you can offer out of respect, but what you can learn to live without. The gods do not actually favor meaningless sacrifice, especially mundane items without any essential or sentimental value to them, but giving up something to recognize that even all that you have built up and hoarded or given life to is impermanent and the Gods will break them and laugh. Odin ripped out his own eye, and through it in the black waters of Mimir (memory?) so he can see all the things that mortal man could not. Into the past and the subconscious, the dark mind map drawn as a labyrinth (A germanic symbol cut into fields and carved in tombs).

The hanged man picture intrigues me, because I have also seen an Ogham (old Druid/Celtic language) variation applied to the hanging man motif. It was a modern interpretation, but mind you still had innovative purpose. After some study on Thursatru and the anti-cosmic deities, I came to thinking that Odin may have hung himself upside down. True, in most pictures his beard covers his neck and he is called the god at the gallows, but in others, as well as the prose depictions of Odin, they never talk about a scar on his neck. I personally think he became tricked by Gullveig, or was sitting at the Yggdrasil tree, which I take to be a Yew rather than an Ash, as was traditional for shamans of the time and meditating to attain Seidr powers. If the tree was built on a howe or mound and some of the Icelandic sources suggest, he could have been trying to raise the dead through necromantic acts, while intoxicated and hallucinating on the Yew leaves which are poisonous and contain a near deadly alkaloid. Then hanging himself upside down, like the Hanged Man of Tarot here.

Woden’s deeds often seem impossible, outlandish, or too immoral for the normal capacity of a human being. It is because he has tapped into his TRUE self, which is lawless, a causal, and potent. Enlightened by runa, the secrets/whispers coming from within, and their symbolic staves observed in phenomenal nature, when he ‘snatched them up’, out of the void.

Winternights Ritual

We started the day by starting a fire and processing acorns. All of them foraged from a fair size oak near one of Coventry’s parks. Sitting by the flames and going about the meditative work, freed my mind to ponder what how my ancestors used to live, and hunter-gatherer clans, when almost nothing was so openly available. Everything would have to have be foraged or killed for a proper meal. The slow, passive work is something that could have been done at any time of the day, during a storm or at night when other physical activity was impractical. I went out to a nearby stream for the leeching process, and made efforts to be more in tune with the more un-urbanized settings. Being temporarily in a city, the focus on spirituality, and ritual seem to diminish in exchange for mundane routine and responsibilities. I performed a hardy workout in the woods to commemorate the hyper masculine season of the hunting moon, and the coming hard times of winter.

Old Norse vetrnætr or winter nights was a  time of year in medieval Scandinavia marking a transition of a time of plenty to a time of ration and sustenance. Sacrifices were performed to the gods for the coming winter.

from wikipdia and the sagas
“Þá skyldi blóta í móti vetri til árs, en at miðjum vetri blóta til gróðrar, hit þriðja at sumri, þat var sigrblót”
There should be a sacrifice at the beginning of winter for a good year, and at in the middle of winter for a good crop, the third in summer day, that was the sacrifice for victory.
Specific sacrifices held at the beginning of winter during the Old Norse period were álfablót and dísablót. Of these, dísablót came to be a public sacrifice, according to the Ynglinga saga performed by the king of Sweden; it may, however, at an earlier time have been a sacrifice reserved for women and performed by priestesses (c.f. mōdraniht). By contrast, álfablót was a sacrifice held at each homestead separately for the local spirits, under the explicit exclusion of any strangers.The meat I wanted to use originally was rabbit, but because most of the farmers do not want the hassle to take the game anymore, I was able to pick up venison meat and sheep hearts, both of which I have never tried before. I used these for their dark cooked flesh, and strong flavor. The buck/stag symbolizes the hardiness through the winter, the quintessential animal of the hunt, and the masculinity of fauna. Despite being stalked by predators like coyotes and wolves, and man for that matter, they are quick to evade and are prime survivors in northern landscapes. They don’t hibernate, and even though they must ration for the available forage, and the biting cold, they manage to survive. The fur of the winter deer becomes thicker, and they learn to alter their diet slightly to cope, and better their woodland hideouts. The sheep heart is the tamer, domestic animal. By taking of the heart flesh, cooked and eaten primitively. My inner wolf which devours the tendency towards mildness and weakness. The wolf toughens itself up for the winter, and thrives in the cold season, when domesticated animals like the sheep/lamb must be kept indoors.I used the runes of Elhaz (protection), Isa (snow and ice), Uruz (Ullr’s primal skills and brute strength), Jera (passing of climactic cycle), Kaunaz (flame and sacrifice) which being vegetarian was one of the most powerful runes I galdored this night, the meat was taken as a privelage) Naudir (nauthfyre, and resources needed during winter), Ingwaz (sacred animal meat/spirit from Ing, and the inverted Algir (organic death cycle and hunt).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Offerings were made to the Disir, Frigga and Freyja for the successful forages, and harvest of the solar seasons. As they joined our feast and made frith amongst our company. As well to Thor and Ullr for their skills and primal actions, the will embodied in the winter of the mind. In honor of the troth, we hailed with mulled cider from horns, and partaken the eating of homemade acorn bread, from Ratatoskr’s store. Sitting around the fire waiting for the meat to cook was very special indeed. It took me to a mindset of how it would have been to eat, say during the Neolithic or Bronze Age. The men would boast of their hunt, and where they stalked the deer, and what finally brought it down. While the women who talk about their day in the village, and trade stories. Looking at the pictures in the flames, and anticipating their next meal as a community. In those cases it would likely have been an entire carcass or several small game to feed their clan. Then they would consume the food, along with whatever had been prepared in their shelters and the whole meal would have taken on a ritual quality to it. I think this is almost entirely missing in contemporary society, and people’s diet. There is no anticipation left for food, when you can buy anything at anytime of year from your nearest market. Most of which takes only minutes to prepare, with minimal effort, and has been so heavily processed that you are left hungry again afterwards. The food ritual has diminished into consumerism and instant satiation. This is one primary reason I try to make my food from scratch whenever physically possible. If I can’t afford something, I try to find it, If I can’t find it, then I can ask a friend if they have some of the ingredients and offer to share it.

The hunting moon was full on this hunt, and a fog was starting to veil it in the orange tinged sky. I was submerged in a light trance after the ritual listening to the frequencies of Animist and Halo Manash, and pulled ever further toward the earth. This was a special night spent in good company in the early morning hours. We feasted, and drank, and conversed and slept the night off in the tent.

Stone Bear Stella Natura Ceremony

It’s taken a full revolution of the seasons for the 7th ceremony of Stella Natura to unravel. I had chosen to attend last year, and found myself in a place so utterly free, wild, and inviting that it became a priority for me to return. What ensues are some of the stand out points of my time at the Stone Bear River Resort. That which is called the Light of Ancestral Fires.

The plan was to meet Sam Zermeno, a friend of mine in Riverside County, and keep up for the 9 hour drive to Tahoe National Forest. After nearly running out of gas on the way and stopping twice to sleep, making the night ride slightly easier, we crept onto Eagle Lake road in the early sun hours. Within the hour we had already traipsed down into the boulder valley churning with the Yuba waters. I found a totem and a crystal left in one of the hollows, and together, a small cove of rocks above the torrent. We drove thereafter into the site, filled with the incense of elder redwoods, pillar pines, and mountain air and quickly made our refuge in a small slice of the forest nearby a handmade stone circle. Shielded by massive etin-rocks all around with panoramic views of the wild lands beyond. After a couple hours of trekking around on the boulders, and eschewing songs of pan pipes and goat horn blowing, we headed to the stage areas. There were 3 stages like last year, one on the mountains edge, one beside the wood, and a full acoustic setup interupting a dirt blazed trail. I caught Dispirit and a special Trepaneringsritual/Sutekh Hexen collaboration. The latter, running into the late hours of the night, wreathed in fog and a cacophony of noise at the acoustic stage.

Day 2, the freezing rains, wind and snow poured down, cloaking the distant hills in white contrast. Equipment was getting drowning, stage pieces were collapsing, and only a couple acoustic acts played while folk beared the chill under tarps. I think this dampened many peoples spirits, and many went home or out of the site to find comfort in the nearest hotel. Sam and I bunkered in for the day, and went to occupy ourselves near the gate. To much appeal, meeting with some other hard natured festival goers and feasting on stew around a barrel fire. On account of Wardruna’s absence, we gathered near the flames listening to Yggdrasil, under the full moon, drinking mulled pear mead until the need for sleep overtook us.

After a rather harsh day on the equinox, the commencing day had an entirely different aura about it. The sun revealed the morning and it was assured to be a full day of music. I met another of the Gild members, Aldis, and we hiked beside the Yuba river. Inside an alcove of stones, a small womblike aperture hid glistening waters filtering in from the waters above. We galdored the futhark together in the darkness. This was the spritual high point for me. Over the course of the day, every band was able to perform, using all 3 stages simultaneously. Blood And Sun hailed the day with solar songs. Hexvessel swooned us with pagan charmed tunes. Saturnalia Temple sacrificed at the altar of Black Magic. Waldteufel made brazen the spirits of the mountain wights. Fire + Ice made anew the English traditions. And Halo Manash slurred the cosmic tones of archaic instruments for a perspicacious few. Completely unannounced and distanced from any sense of audience. Arktau Eos was a whole different take on a live show and for me was the most lucid and profound.A few guys clad in Viking garb were dueling in the dark. The trees were washed with a red hue not unlike the blood of animals, while cold translucent Burzum music echoed through the cold night air. By this time is was 4 am, and I was heavily intoxicated by absinthe, mead, and a psilocybin herbal brew. Three burlap robed, half human forms chanted Finnish spells to the swirling stars, spitting vile liquids during threatening posture magic. It seemed as if they were mediums of long forgotten seed sounds from distant universes and the dark places of the earth. A jar of strong herbal spirit, with decaying plants and a fermenting bird claw inside was passed around which I partook. The taste comes to my mouth even now recalling it. Less than 20 people were there watching, in the freezing cold, under a patchwork of the celestial vault, intoxicated, and half slumbered. We silently wandered back to our camp at 5am and made the journey back to the sunny state.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The connections made at Stella were some of the most special encounters for me, because it is the people there that truly make it what it is. The anonymity found in contemporary society is vanquished, and you are free to act how you are. Th communal aspect of the festival is the axiom of why in my opinion it is such a transformation and time of growth. The ceremony is the living tradition, real culture and the right atmosphere. I have made a vow once again to step afoot there next year.

Barrow at the Vale of Heath: Boadicea’s Grave

This is to my knowledge, the only barrow to be found in current London. It can be found be going to the Highgate Ponds and walking the pathway between the two largest ponds. I only recently migrated to the UK and the prospect of visiting a barrow, or any other prehistoric earthwork is completely new to me, because these don’t really exist, at least not widely in Canada. I have done a lot of research into what the barrows, cairns, cursuses, etc. actually are and what purpose they serve, dating from the Neolithic through the Bronze and into the Iron Age. And through the BBC series Prehistoric Britain and Celtic Britain. The history of them alone makes me proud to have come to this place.

The barrow here if often called Boadicea’s Grave, who was the Queen of a tribe called Iceni, which is the bio-region roughly of contemporary Norfolk. She led this band against rising Roman forces. 60 years after ‘Christ’s Death’ era, she first destroyed Camulodunum (a place containing a temple to Claudius), and then fought with the Ninth Spanish Legion who were a Roman Legion in Londinium (Londom), where 70,000-80,000 Roman and Brits died. Suetonius eventually maintained control over Britain but Nero was considering to withdraw all his legions from the land. The eventual defeat was too harrowing for Boadicea, and she either killed herself or fell sick and died.

That is the brief history of the woman, but alas, it is still not absolute that she came here after death. There  were excavations in the 19th century but because the soil was so acidic, there is no tangible finds inside the mound. The barrow itself is from the Bronze Age 2000-3000 years ago, and the burial obviously much later. So it does serve as just another feature of the landscape. My visit was a conspicuous one, and it is not truly evident what you are looking at if you don’t already know it is there. There is not external monument or signposts saying what it is, only the circular hill in a vale of other roughly hewn hillocks and uneven terrain. But this one of course is slightly more aesthetical. There lies a ditch surrounding it and current hedges, which is like the spiritual lay line. Inside is the sacred space, outside is the normal park where people run, and take their dogs. I went inside, over the barrier and spent a humblr 90 minutes or so speaking with a friend. High words exchanged about Ancient Europe, the runes, and Heathen ritual. There was a divot where some other souls than ours also took awe in the feature and had lit fires in the past. To not reveal everything, the tall trees and greenery enclosed the circled cleared patch at the top, with views over London. I have read, the mound was built by the Beaker people because it has views roughly over the river Thames, which was their original home region. And of course the intentional size and geographic location to coincidence with a deeper purpose is extremely common in other types of earthworks.

Personally, this was the grounding moment for me to better expound a connection to this land. I have lived here in London for 2 weeks but had not truly felt properly here, I needed a special moment like this for it to amount to something. A friend and I took into the forest after because we were told to leave the site ‘which was of great historical value, and not for the public’. We made offerings to our ancestors, the land wights, and new kin over a few phrases and wine drinking. Leaving food and seeds as an offering. I will be checking out more sites possibly near Portsmouth and on the Isle of Wight in the coming months.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

7 hvels/chakras of Bifrost, the rainbrow bridge


It has been postulated by some scholars that the Rainbow bridge in Nordic mythology, the one guarded by Heimdallr, may refer to the milky way. However, I have adapted my own personal understanding of it that may or may not lie in the true occult wisdom of the archetypal Bifrost. My studied of Tantric spirituality, and Hindu/Buddhist religion have unearthed the secrets of the chakra system. This itself, rooted in human biology and science. Essentially, the ‘chakras’ are glands found throughout the body, and there are known to be hundreds of them, depending on which physiologist you may ask. In Tantric meditation, there is an entire system based around 7 separate chakras, called the Kundalini. There are more potent stores or ‘wheels’ of revolving life energy, that when tapped into with deep meditation one can raise a serpent lying at the base of the first chakra, and make it ascend to the crown of the head (Sahasrara). In ascetic inner meditation, it is physically possible to control the nervous system, there is how the chakra system works within the self.  By focusing solely on one of the 7 glands that form the Kundalini, along the spine, up through the neck and to the crown, the internal energy of the body is refined to one place. The glands, being catalysts to how the body performs and each one fulfilling a certain function. From this I had the idea that the rainbow bridge of Bifrost, made of the same 7 colors of the chakras, leading from earth to the heavens is a cultural variation of the same principle.

The earth or ground in Teutonic religion is called Miðgarðr, and the heavens, Ásgarðr. Heimdall is one of the ‘godhead’ incarnate in Ásgarðr. Human beings dwell at all time on the Earth, but in Tantric ideology, even the profane can rise, with the spirit into a godlike state, divine and sacred. This occurs only in the Sahasrara or the crown chakra the very highest of the hvels. Heimdallr sacrificed one of his senses to Mimir, who holds the secrets of the runes (occult knowledge) in her well. He thus gains awareness of all the worlds, the multi-verse of the cosmology. He becomes as a seer with special abilities, from ‘Teutonic Religion’ by Kveldulf Gundarsson:

“He needs less sleep than a bird; he can see a hundred leagues by night as well as by day, and hear the grass growing in the fields and wool on the sheep. As well as being a warder, he is also a giver of wise and cunning redes”

The redes are advice which are given by ‘higher’ beings, meaning advices taken for the highest self, before coming back to the grounded existence to work weal. The runes themselves may be symbolic of some of the chakras. In the pictured depictions of the 3 realms of being, the serpent (Hindu version being kundalini) rests encircling the middle earth. The axis mundi, Yggdrasil could represent the spine? As physiologists know, it connects the who body, the central axis of all that is. As this is still my theory and I don’t have full knowledge of them, I think it is of worthy study.

Ansuz/Crown chakra/light purple: the esoteric interpretation is one of the Æsir, the higher beings.

Mannaz/Third Eye/violet: this chakra is given the qualities of numinous accord, creativity, and intellect. The Mannaz, meaning mankind. Separate from animal, the vessel of the mind. The Óðr of inspired mental activity.

Galdr/Throat chakra/blue: This may not have an exact runic equal, but could be related to galdrar, the chanting of a rune to fuse the energy of the materialistic body with the cognitive mind.

Wunjo/Heart chakra/green: Both of these are always associated with joy, and feeling. Affection or sensual love coming from the heart.

Sowilo/Solar Plexus/yellow: Esoteric interpretation of the solar energy or lightening. In the Elder Futhark, it stands for the universal will expressed through transitioning of the spiritual ‘hvels’. Hvel = chakra from Sanskrit. It ideographic picture is part of a turning wheel. :ᛋ:

Othala/Navel chakra/orange: Apparently Othala is likened to Midgard, the ‘middle’, and the navel is regarded as the middle by Tantrikas and in Hindu tradition. So there may be something there.

Gebo/Root-sex chakra/red: In Futhark by Edred Thorsson he writes…“Gebo contains the secrets of physically joining two people, in order that they may produce a creative power greater than their sum total” It is a rune of sex magic, that was used in Germanic times, so naturally would be associated with whatever glands are at that point of the body. It is the first source of the ecstasy, where the serpent lays coiled.

A lot of this may be quite far-fetched, for anyone reading this, and for me as well. My intentions as a vitki of the runes is to somehow find the practical within the mythological, and the modern wisdom from esoteric lore. Seeing things from many disciplines, such as a skeptical reductionist perspective, but also a spiritual gnosis is the only way I have been able to come to this theory and make it function in my life. I have read a couple very minimalistic articles about the parallels of the chakras to Bifrost.

The scientist in me says: By thinking of the energy stores located along the cervical spine and head, the nervous system is altered with a conscious effort and releases serotonin and DMT from the pineal gland in the forest, overloading the senses and transcending the material flesh.

The Tantric spiritual/Pagan in me says: Meditating on the essence incarnate at the ground of Miðgarðr;, one travels through the seven layers of Bifrost, discovering the occult symbolism of a special rune at each hvel. The coiled serpent Jǫrmungandr unraveling from earth and finally piercing through the last layer of the human being into one of the Ase (higher being symbolic of godhead) over their life.

In chapter 17 Gylfaginning, High tells Gangleri that the location of Himinbjörg (heaven peak) “stands at the edge where Bifrost reaches heaven.”While describing the god Heimdallr in chapter 27, High says that Heimdallr lives in Himinbjörg by Bifröst. The Hindus regard the mountain as the sacred peak that is the highest the human can go. The mountain as the archetype of a human peak, before ascended to the ‘god’ realm. There are probably other theories and perhaps even some more advanced or ‘proper’ texts written thousands of years ago about this by some Viking shaman, but this is what I got out of it. It is in the end, a tool for understanding ourselves, and we are all trying to make sense of things, because it is our primal need. If by embracing myth, one can more firmly grasp the fundamentals of life by it’s variations of reality, and make it more exciting, then one must take the horns and raise them.

The Centurion Method: Initiation in the Woodss

Depending on who you associate with, it may be possible that you will soon be hearing of a new fitness routine, called the Centurion Method, invented by Craig Fraser. This man is a natural fitness guru if you will, and has been cultivating a series of workouts and techniques geared for the wild ‘barbarian and spearwife’ adepts. Those who wish to refine their body with rigorous training, and conditioning oneself to nature’s finest process of natural selection.

From Cave Craig…

The Centurion Method is a Revolutionary Training Program for the Post-Apocalyptic Hominid. We seek to create human beings cast of iron and cooled in blood and sweat.

…seeks to emulate their training pattern, taking inspiration from the Greek Hoplites and the Soldiers of Rome to create a fitness regime that tests the applicant to their utmost limits. We focus on training that is useful, practical and natural, the lynchpin being our R.E.A.L. system”

Craig uses the REAL system to hone the skills, stamina, and dedication of the animal in human. Churning up the settled dust of our bodies, and the physical capabilities that have long been tamed, suppressed or ignored in favor of entertainment, convenience, and luxury. Forging a new being, truly living to the full.

R. REALISTIC. Training should be useful in a real world survival situation; can you carry an injured partner? Can you move long distances with little food and water? Can you move through wilderness with damaged limbs, quietly and stealthily?

E. ENDURANCE. The system focuses on quick movement over long distance, carrying heavy weight, just as the Romans were required to carry 30kg across 30 miles in a day.

A. AGILITY. The horrors of first century battle would have required soldiers to be fast, light on their feet, and above all able to jump, climb, crawl and fight for long periods without rest.

L. LOYALTY. Community bonds are what made the Legions so affective; brotherhood in the face of adversity was the only way to survive in such harsh situations. Training is focused on team activity, assistance, camaraderie and friendship.

I decided to buy the training manual that has a wealth of 100 routines start later this month. While I wait for the book I did a short forest excursion and sought out what could be useful in introducing my body to new stimulus that would be needed for the Centurion Method. I am very fond of Vinyasa and Hatha yoga, but never was much into physical extremes, so this is entirely new to me. I think it would be useful when I have to become more self-sufficient, or solitary camping, and homesteading. First I did some flow yoga in my room then this is what I did in the period of an hour.

25 log lifts over head

32 horizontal pushups on dead tree

40 angled pushups on stump

3 turnovers of tree starting from top and ascending hands until it stood

20 lifts of felled tree

100 crouches holding medium size stone in goddess yoga pose

15 crouches with broken tree on shoulders in same pose

1 rock toss and 1 log toss of 10 feet

I have not been able to see the ‘workout proper’ so to speak, so this was just a taste, but even with these and a short walk through the woods while looking for available resources, I felt the endorphins building up and felt better mentally, and bodily. My body type is not built for any kind of broad-chested berserker form, and I don’t even like muscle but I look forward to what I can do to become closer to nature on her more aggressive scale and reform the self according to her law.

update: all centurion method workouts and various other primal fitness can be found on my sideblog with my mate http://themaidenandherwolf.tumblr.com/

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Cyclic Immortality of Stones

Yesterday before I went out for a nourishment walk to a forest trail on the Montreal islands, I found a curious bag of small stones, seemingly from the ocean or river as they were all polished and devoid of dust. I have never had much of a fondness for stones, and with the exclusion of geologists, found it hard to believe certain individuals could have such an obsession with them, but after I spent an hour looking through them. I really began to appreciate what they were. The stones I found were not crystals or possessed with any ‘magic’ properties. I don’t really collect stones for these purposes, even though I am fully aware of the subtle energy fields and history embedded in stones. I stared consciously at the rocks and stones, analysizing their every facet, curve and decay. I began to feel what I was holding was the outcome of perhaps millions of years. There were multitudes of different colors; some pale orange with white streaks, black and white speckled resembling meteor chips, dull pink, brownish coffee colored with odd circles like owl eyes, black like pummus or amonite, white with sickly green fissures like prehistoric eggs, translucent gray, tiger-tailed swirls, rutty brown like deep soil, oceanic gray blue tints, yellowish marble color with stains of blood red, and light brown like leaves without their pigment. Some were shaped like eggs, others like small comets, arrowheads, or coral debris, others even appeared as if they had rock abscesses growing off them.

I stared and pictured where these rocks might have come from. How far they travelled, and what they were made of. I could see the seperate layers of compressed sand, and glinting fragments of shiny crystals in them. Every one of these stone may have been made up by billions of other stones, as they decayed and released sand particles into the air and over aeons made new forms, then these as well being decayed by wind and continuin the process. I held some lighly in a closed fist and up to my third eye, visually the intricate and beautiful patterns on the surface,
and trying to project the same picture to the rest of the word. One in particular a deep limitless black, with floating bands of brown like planets rings. It was calming to stare at imagine this small rounded piece of earth, dissected from a monolith of ancient stone in such a perfect way, showing it’s journey in the concentric lines lain into it. Stones are truly immortal, and it is humbling to think of how many interstellar pieces have lost their ether orbit and taken rest on terra firma. They are like fraktals, in the sense that each grain that constructs them, is similar to its other counterparts.

In China there are traditional rock gardens, where people will go at all hours of the day and watch rocks. Larger rocks are placed in beds of smaller white stones which are raked by the monks into elaborate or repeating patterns. They go to meditate on the rocks, because they represent simplicity of life, and it calms the mind. This has been a common spiritual practice for thousands of years.
https://i0.wp.com/ww2.odu.edu/ao/oip/studyabroad/images/garden35.jpg
My knowledge of rocks, crystals, and stones does not go very deep. I have up till now, a mere vessel, travelling around over and beneath them without really knowing them, but I sense a new relationships with stones in general, relating to the earth element, to know my land of not only my bio-region but the land of the planet.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Stella Natura Afterglow☽

I had the opportunity lately to experience a very special gathering of kin, held in the Tahoe National Forest of Cascadia. The Stella Natura festival which caters mostly to neofolk, ambient noise, and black metal was sanctioned for existence on the 21-23 September this year over the fall equinox. A plethora of bands, artists, esoteric record labels, mead makers, printing groups, photographers, and pagans alike migrated into California to set up a temporary canvas homestead (or for some few, a cabin) for 3 nights at the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I first of all must say this was something I felt indebted to be a part of after having to cancel a previous trip to Bergen and Oslo for a couple black metal festivals. I have never experienced the communal atmosphere of such an event, and have been fascinated by the lands of the Pacific Northwest ever since discovering music from those regions. The past Stella: Reaping the Flesh of Light summoned up such auditory relics like Halo Manash, :Ruhr Hunter:, Arnica And Fauna. This one was entitled “The Light Of Ancestral Fires”, here is the complete list:

Aerial Ruin, Aluk Todolo, Arktau Eos, Ash Borer, Blood Axis, Burial Hex, Changes, Circulation of Light, COTA, Fell Voices, Funerary Call, Hail, HELL, Hooded Archer, Ironwood, L’Acephale, Lasher Keen, Lux Interna, Menace Ruine, Mournful Congregation, Novemthree, River, Pyhä Kuolema, Sabbath Assembly, Sangre de Muerdago, Servile Sect, The Sterling Sisters, Sutekh Hexen, The Lindbergh Baby, Tuhkankantajat, Velnias, Vradiazei  Waldteufel, Will O’ The Wisp Wolvserpent
Of these at least half of them I was already familiar with and most of the others I became interested in afterwards. This event served to be a sacred place to worship nature, being surrounded by the old growth forests, impeccable people, and a comfortable atmosphere was something I longed for. My body instantly reacted differently to this new ecosystem, my limbs were more agile and the air quality made me realize that I could actually breathe properly rather than inhaling car fumes, humidity, and dust from the metropolis in which I dwell.

My trip was set to begin here, in Montreal, on a brisk morning. I made my way through 2 flights on my way to Seattle where I met a couple friends that until then I had not met in the flesh. We the took the 16 hour car ride to the site ‘Shineyboo Cabins’ with a detour in Portland and Eugene on the way. By the time we were in the thick of the Cascades and Mount Shasta it was getting dark and foggy, thus it was hard to see the peaks. Alas, at 4 a.m we arrived, the first people there, minding the volunteers who were already sleeping in preparation for the next day. I was with Tristan Emerick (see AMSI) & A.e Csaky, and I felt I could hardly be in better company. The need not only to attend, but to share a common respect and connection of values helped ease the weekend into place as we discoursed for hours on our long car rides.

The Site:

Shineyboo Creek Cabins was situated way in the backwoods of Northern California, about 3 hours away from the Sequoia/Redwood forest where General Sherman stands. Half of our drive was in darkness, so I could hardly tell one valley from the other. Shadows drifting across roads were like faunic spectres in a half sleep state, stars in the sky drifted in and out of existence with a carrying fog that levitated over us. The woods were more open grounded than I had expected which was pleasing. I had pictured a little niche in the woods with only enough room for 100 people to stand but probably due to a few selective cuttings for cabins, there was grass growing amongst towering trees, rock caps, bluffs, and open areas for the stage. There were two stages which housed most of the bands, one beside a lookout of the cascades, and one nearer to the rest of the forest. I believe we were around 1,600 feet above sea level. Some beautiful log cabins were dashed throughout the trails, and the Yuba River cut it’s serene course at the base of the cliff, littered by macro boulders and sea rock.

Kin:
The people here were by far the most down to earth, interesting, open, and friendly individuals I have had the pleasure to be in the presence of. Although I am quite socially awkward and have been for my entire life, I felt more willing to engage here, and did meet some interesting people even indirectly. The great repose of relationship with others was quite evident. Seeing the same persons every day, it was as if I had lived in isolation here with these people and had known them for months. Many chose this time to adorn their creative pagan outfits, drinking horns, and battle vests so there was also a sense of alternative appreciation for aesthetics here. People were there with their mates, some with dogs, trios of gothic women, dancers, heathens, black metallers, age indifferent groups, and one guy dragging a ball and chain from his waist. The 3 fires were holy places for communication and intoxication. People were generally scattered around the few hundred hectares of land, either watching music, relaxing in their tent camps, hiking, or swimming nude in the river. The music really penetrated into the spirit of most people, and I saw many lost in the flow, dancing around the fires, or otherwise lost somewhere in their head. The love that people had really affected me. I am used to avoiding the general population, and many time nourish hate more often than love, as I feel trapped in a sick society. Here in the company of other like minded folk, there was this love, social constrictions were not really present, and everyone had a commendable respect for the ecosystem by not leaving trash around. It served as a stage on earth for people to love each other and worship nature.

Vendors:

On the path between the two stage sites was the source for all temptations… homemade mead (of which I drank half a bottle of raspberry, fermented for 11 months), layouts of handmade cassettes and vinyl collections, art prints, band garments, tribal masks, Asatru info, herbs and resin packages, amongst others. The quality was utmost of everything that was being sold, and fortunately because I did not carry American money I did not end up going broke on them, and resisted the urge to buy anything, I just wanted to experience it.

Bands:

Many of the bands were performing their last performance (Blood Axis being one of them), or for some I believe their first. A couple even returning from the past Stella Natura. Many others were of quite rarity (C.O.T.A, Burial Hex). I came across a few them rehearsing in a distance portion of forest or by the river, and nearly all of them added something to the visual appeal of their shows with bones, incense, banners, costumes, plants, exotic instruments, etc. I think some of them deserve special attention…

Arktau Eos:

This finnish horde was set to open the ceremonious equinox as well as close it. Their first ritual was held in daylight lasting only 30 minutes, but truly setting the avant-garde tone that the rest would somehow adopt. They adopted one live member for performances, and are known for their interactive, often provocative shows. All three of the were in black sheaths that draped their waists, and burlap sacks over their face with mouth and eye holes. Identity was blurred in the paradigm of unification, each member acting as part of the unit. They began pouring corn meal over the grass in lines, while a sharpened knife pierced the houmus soil in front of them. Swaying with bells and chimes, engaging in animistic behaviors, mumbling incantations, and drawing points with the knife tip then pouring mead over it and flailing it around walking through alleyways left by the sitting watchers. The sounds they produced were like the Tanpura tones for meditation, and their sun-time performance ended when everyone was brought up to their feet and a binaural hypnotic drum beat became louder and louder. Bodies swirled around the hooded figure in a trance and became existentially violent.
The dark show at the nigh end of the festival was more of an orgy of sound. The gong vibrations rattling the cool night dusk, to the incantations of bells and chants. The drones of their instruments, including something that resembled a violin pulled the fabric of order into a chaotic frenzy of audial memorization.

River & Novemthree:

More folk-oriented, with a light all encompassing tranquility permeating every sound. Music that spoke deeply to the impermanence of dying beauty, the fragility of life, and  epic nature-scapes. An acoustic medley that sent a clarion call to the peaceful harmony between man and his land. I lay down on the grass for them, and just soaked it all in.

C.O.T.A. (Children of the Apocalypse):

Transcending the loopholes of mere musical experimentation, two dark vectors blazing into the realm of the hidden. The use of sigils and sway cast a special aura outwards, and inwards, retreating from a pigeonholed expressionism that is lacked in dark ambient purveyors, and letting the astral self to be revealed.

Fell Voices:

An orthodox, but progressively refined black metal guild that really impressed me. Their songs generally ranged past the 15 minute mark, studded with banshee screams and blasting cacophony throughout. The member did not use mic, minding for their instruments and would instead scream at the top of their lungs, either at the sky, the people, or the tree, or apparently on other occasions inanimate objects like books. The sheer primal core of this band and the musicianship undertaken was alone worth praising.

Waldteufel:

Sadly I missed over half of these German ambassadors, but I came in time to hear their militant hymns of folkloric singing and their climactic ending. Overlapping drones from two steer horns and a french horn, each one adding yet another layer to a riveted pile of drones ad echo. This hit me, just hearing each concurrent frequency taking over the other and seeing the horn players almost go blue in the face from forcing all their breath out. My spine felt cold, and the guard hairs were raised all over my exposed skin.

Blood Axis:

A perfect rendition of classic Blood Axis material reaching out to some of the more nostalgic folk, and the newly adapted. In between songs, sir Moynihan recited some ancient stories, enchanting us with his words, then foraging into the militant sermon of their ancestral musics.

Funerary Call:

A very static performance, of which I mean this in the most positive way. Two hooded menaces anchored on either side of the stage with a soundboard, deer antlers, and a banner that looked like a torn up bedsheet restitched and drawn over with the FC symbol in blood red. One member repeatedly hammering on the antlers with a rod, but producing the sound of a drum. The lack of stage light was fitting to their sinister aura.

Hail:

Sings songs of Finnish mythology and death… these Nordic troops came marching out of the forest behind the stage carrying a banner, wrapped in neo-medieval cloaks. The effect was quite nice towards the fantasy fetish of elder tales. They brought a new sense of heaviness on stage, rattling the earth with deep guttural mantras. My interest in them was rekindled after this show

Burial Hex:

Harsh feedback and a labyrinth of cords running over the stage. The stark contrast of power electronics and atypical sound devices was interesting to absorb amongst the circle of lush pine trees. Clay made walks into the audience, like a brute, writhing in complication and shoving bodies out of his way, yelling in peoples faces, but all in respect. I have seen other performance of such interaction. A strange interlude between the 450-60 minute performance of keyboard harmonics surely published a very peculiar sense of unexpectedness to the set. He ended by sticking the mic in his mouth and banging two corded metal rod type instruments together, that sounded like the breakdown of an industrial structure in slow motion.

Velnias:

I have to commend these barbarians for the immense amount of energy they were able to generate. Several candles on the stage served as their only light, and a distressed vocalist who strode on stage near the end of the set really punched you in the heart with his agonizing screams, hunched over away from our eyes.

Sutekh Hexen:

Seeing Sutekh Hexen is comparable to being tangled in a web of barbed fire, their abrasive sound was rather hypnotizing at the same time. I sat and watched the disarray as incense billowed through the air.

Wolvserpent:

A unique duo disguised in the decaying skulls and jaws of their elaborate stage totems. It was half ethereal, and other half pure metal.

The Land:

Northern California is steeped in rich biodiversity, ancient trees, mountainous peaks and ebbing valleys, and rivers weaving crystalline pathways through rough terrain. All of these was amalgamated at the site where I stayed. I did take the opportunity to cleanse my body in the waters, and traverse the steep slopes to find caves, and shady redwood shelter. One medium sized cave, had nooked inside it’s corner another smaller cave. I was able to crawl through it and inside this cave was a black waterfall, all the walls were dark brimstone color and the water coming from above. I was actually beneath a river at this point. It looked like an ashram for the water element, and I could have easily fallen into a stupor if I stayed longer. Just  to sit in it’s dark grotto for a couple minutes and go under the torrent I felt very alive. I drank a half a bottle of mead, and felt such potent agility and energy that I took to the rocks and was pacing them on all fours, snarling, and jumping, and climbing as fast as possible. This was where I lost most connection with my humanity, I was just another animal. This was it’s own microworld, where many animals thrived. Spotted lizards scrambled over the rocks, lush plantation spread out from crags in the stone, the bark of the trees were as scales growing over top of each other several inches thick. Some of the native trees in this landscape were Douglas fir (the symbol of the new Cascadia flag), White fir, Ponderosa Pine, Incense Cedar, Black Oak, Sequoias, Redwoods, & Lodgepole Pines. I feel my wisdom of trees still growing it’s base, but I certainly felt an intimacy towards all of them, and feel there is much to learn from them. The trees speak a language of old that resonates in the hearts and spirit of it’s residents, and are under increasing conservation. I might suggest looking into the documentary ‘Occupied Cascadia’ on recent progressions with protections of these woodlands. The sheer magniloquence and stature of the vast forest gives me such peace and longing to leave my quaint little apartment room, and spend the rest of my life amongst them. Listening to them creak in shamanic wooden tongues in the night, and open their reservoir foliage for birds and other fauna in the day. Rattlesnakes are also prevalent here, although more common in the unseen crevices of stones, and beneath tree roots, I did not see one but could somehow hear the incipit sound of their rattle in the air, as if it never really was far away, only quieted at times.

Just as the rattle of serpents, or the spectral glow of constellations, or primitive secrets of the forest, the whole region reeked of a tangible essence that I think everyone felt on some deeply personal level. The love of the people towards it, and what it simultaneously gives back to us on an existential level is certainly a reason to protect them from being harmed. I was left feeling contented of having been through a very important life experience, having never traveled this far before. A part of me was traded with this place, the old stasis left behind and a new trans-formative piece taken with me. The knowing. The respect. The unity. I was honored to see all the bands, meet people, and share the experience. If there was anything I could have changed about the festival would only be to not have the same bands from the last one, and a couple more Shamanistic/Ritual Theatric bands. Also, I would also like to attend a future event possibly without a camera to lessen the need to make photos and let the music have its way with me.
To put photos here would be inferior so look at the array of moments I experienced here where I have created a separate folder for this weekend: http://journeyoftheseer.tumblr.com/tagged/stella-natura/