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Re-discovering Western Paganism

Whenever the term ‘western paganism’ is written or heard, in our contemporary societies, there is tendency for many readers or listeners to conjure up either images of ancient ‘superstitious barbarians’ offering sacrifices to various gods such as Odin, or images of modern devotees – of what has been termed ‘contemporary paganism’ and ‘neopaganism’ – in robes conducting or attending romanticized rituals and ceremonies such as those now associated with the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge.

In this essay, however, in referring to Western paganism we are referring to a particular and spiritual ethos – to a distinguishing character, or nature, or ‘spirit’ – germane to European lands and thus to ‘the West’, where by ‘spiritual’ is meant concerning what is considered to be, intuitively or otherwise, numinous, and/or concerning those forces or powers which are believed to be, or which may, determine our fate, wyrd, destiny and thus which may bring good fortune or misfortune to us, our family, and to our communities.

Hence, when writing about ‘the West’ we are not writing about the nations of the modern West and the life-styles and politics evident in such modern nations as the United States and Britain. What is meant is the culture and the civilization of and associated with European lands (and with what are now our former colonies or émigré lands) embodied and manifest as that culture and civilization was and is in the paganism of classical Greece and Rome; in the ritual practices and beliefs of North European lands such as Scandinavia and ancient Britain; in Greco-Roman art; in classical – and European folk – music; in the philosophy of the likes of Aristotle; in allegories such as those of Faust and myths such as King Arthur, Wotan, and the Valkyries; in the Greco-Roman mysticism of the Corpus Hermeticum, and in modern science and technology.

That is, we are writing about a particular culture of a particular people; of indigenous Europeans, among whose descendants are people of such lands as are now named Greece, Italy, Britain, Germany, Spain, France, Scandinavia, Poland, Russia, etcetera.

Part of this ancestral Western, this ancestral European, culture is a particular and spiritual ethos, and one which the term Western paganism correctly describes, with this particular paganism having its roots in Ancient Greece and Rome and thus being different, in ethos and in practise, from what is currently known concerning, for example, such religious practices and beliefs as that of ancient Germanic tribes. This ‘Greco-Roman’ paganism is the paganism of Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristotle, Seneca, and Cicero; a paganism that is pragmatically spiritual whose foundation is the rationalization that certain deeds were wise and certain other deeds unwise, with such unwise deeds – such hubris, ὕβρις – upsetting that natural balance of the Cosmos (κόσμος) and thus liable (according to ancestral tradition) to cause misfortune. Thus did Sophocles express a truth of this tradition when he wrote that “hubris is the genesis of tyrants” since tyrants invariably bring misfortune upon the people and, eventually, upon themselves and – quite often – on their descendants. In addition, and importantly, elegance, the beautiful (τὸ καλόν) as well as excellence (arête, ἀρετή) and nobility (τὸ ἀγαθόν) were all associated with those who did what was considered wise and balanced (μέσος, in Aristotle).

This is the ethos, the pragmatic spirituality, and the notion of balance, harmony, elegance, and of beauty, which infuses the culture and the civilization of Ancient Greece and Rome, and which culture so enthused those Europeans – artists, scholars, educators, potentates, and others – who from the 14th century on brought about the Renaissance and which Renaissance, which re-discovery of the culture of ancient Greece and Rome, gave birth to and infused our Western ‘Faustian’ civilization.

A Pagan Renaissance

This Renaissance, however, did not in any significant way include a practical return to classical paganism. Instead of giving rise to a new, an evolved, pagan ethos – and thus dispensing with the notion of anthropomorphic deities interfering in the lives of human beings – it resulted in only minor changes to the governing religious ethos manifest as that was in Christianity with its quite un-classical, rather stark, notions of Hell-Fire, Damnation, Sin, and Prudery. In other words, the governing spirituality continued to be Hebraic, derived from the Old Testament as amended by the ‘new covenant’ of Jesus of Nazareth.

While laudable, the attempt in recent times by some Europeans to rediscover the pagan ethos of their ancestors – exemplified in certain (but not all) neopagan groups and weltanschauungen – and thus distance themselves from Hebraic spirituality, is not and never can be, in our view, effective in reconnecting us to the ethos of the West for two reasons. First, because such attempts (at least so far) do not exemplify, do not manifest, the spiritual ethos of the West, founded as that is on the culture and spirituality of ancient Greece and Rome. Second, because they generally do not take into account how the ethos of the West has itself been distorted by a Hebraicism that is not only spiritual but is now, and has been for over a century, cultural.

This cultural Hebraicism is a mode of thinking and action in which Hebrews – ancient and modern – and their beliefs, and those of their followers and disciples, are taken as the type, the moral ideal, to be aspired to and lauded. In the case of ancient Hebrews and their beliefs, the type, the ideal is evident in the Bible (both Old and New Testaments), and in latter-day interpretations of the Bible. In the case of modern Hebrews and their disciples, the type, the ideal, derives from (a) the dogma of ‘equality of races’ – ultimately derived from Marxism, sociology, and what has been termed ‘social anthropology’, with the belief being that all ethnicities have the same abilities, intelligence, potential, and human character – and from (b) the religious-like remembrance of and compulsory teaching regarding the Shoah, together with a hypocritical championing of ethnic awareness and ancestral traditions for all ethnicities except native European (‘White’) peoples, which ethnic awareness of, and its promotion among, native European peoples is considered ‘hatred’, ‘racist’, ‘extremist’ and is increasing censored and outlawed in the lands of the West with the Hebraic reasoning being that such ethnic awareness of, and its promotion among, native European peoples gave rise to colonialism, to fascism and National Socialism and thus to the Shoah – which must “never be forgotten” – with no Western country ever allowed to again make ancestral European beliefs, and the Western ethos, the raison d’être of a nation-State.

In respect of rediscovering the pagan spirituality of the West a fundamental problem has been a lack of knowledge among those interested in what, exactly, that spirituality is. A problem exacerbated by pre-existing translations of some of the ancient works knowledge of which is necessary in order to understand that spirituality. Works such as the Oedipus Tyrannus and the Antigone by Sophocles, the Agamemnon by Aeschylus, and the mystical texts of the Corpus Hermeticism.

Which problem of translation is why, for example, the Antigone of Sophocles has become to be regarded (by all but a handful of scholars) as some kind of ancient morality tale or as just a drama about a conflict between two strong and different characters, Antigone and Creon; why Oedipus Tyrannus is regarded (by all but a handful of scholars) as a morality tale about “incest”, and why the texts of the Corpus Hermeticism are regarded as imbued with a Christian-like mysticism and as having been influenced by both the Old and New Testaments.

Yet properly understood in the necessary cultural context, the Antigone, as one translator noted in the Introduction to his translation,

“deals with the relation between mortals and gods. The work is an exploration and explanation of the workings of the cosmos, and the answers given express the distinctive ancient Greek ‘outlook’ or ethos. This ethos is pagan, and its essence may be said to be that there are limits to human behaviour; that some conduct is wise, some conduct is unwise. Unwise conduct invites retribution by the gods: it can and often does result in personal misfortune, in bad luck.” {1}

Ditto in respect of the Oedipus Tyrannus, and the Agamemnon of Aeschylus. Regarding the Corpus Hermeticism, as we have previously mentioned, certain new translations restore

“these texts to the Western pagan tradition and make them relevant to our times when Western culture and our classical, Greco-Roman, and pagan heritage is increasingly subsumed in schools and elsewhere by other, non-Western, cultures and religions, with it now being politically incorrect to point out that Western culture with its Greco-Roman pagan heritage has profoundly changed the world for the better and is arguably superior to all other cultures past and present.” {2}

That is, translations of important classical texts are now available which, when studied together, enable us to appreciate and understand the classical, pagan, ethos and thence the ethos of the West itself. {3}

Which understanding might – probably should – lead us, or someone, to develop a new, an evolved, pagan weltanschauung which does not involve anthropomorphic deities but instead is based on a new ontology regarding our relation, as sentient beings, to Being, to the Cosmos, rather than to ‘God’ or to some ‘gods’. Something perhaps prefigured in Greek texts such as these with their reasoned, pragmatic, and often quite warrior-like, spirituality:

The Muse shall tell of the many adventures of that man of the many stratagems
Who, after the pillage of that hallowed citadel at Troy,
Saw the towns of many a people and experienced their ways:
He whose vigour, at sea, was weakened by many afflictions
As he strove to win life for himself and return his comrades to their homes.
But not even he, for all this yearning, could save those comrades
For they were destroyed by their own immature foolishness
Having devoured the cattle of Helios, that son of Hyperion,
Who plucked from them the day of their returning. {4}

°°°°°

You should listen to [the goddess] Fairness and not oblige Hubris
Since Hubris harms unfortunate mortals while even the more fortunate
Are not equal to carrying that heavy a burden, meeting as they do with Mischief.
The best path to take is the opposite one: that of honour
For, in the end, Fairness is above Hubris
Which is something the young come to learn from adversity. {5}

°°°°°

This person, whom I praise, never ceased to believe that the gods delight in respectful deeds just as much as in consecrated temples, and, when blessed with success, he was never prideful but rather gave thanks to the gods. He also made more offerings to them when he was confident than supplications when he felt hesitant, and, in
appearance, it was his habit to be cheerful when doubtful and mild-mannered when successful. {6}

°°°°°

Clytaemnestra:

Because of these grievous things, no one should invoke a fatal curse upon
Nor turn their wroth toward, Helen
As if she was some man-killer who alone destroyed
The lives of those many Danaan men
By having wrought such a festering wound […]

The wife of this corpse presents herself here
As that most ancient fierce Avenger.
It is Atreus, he is of that cruel feast,
Who, in payment for that, has added to his young victims
This adult one […]

But do not suppose that his killing was ignoble
For did he not by his cunning set Misfortune upon this family? {7}

°°°°°

Creon:

So even then you dared to violate these laws?

Antigone:

It was not Zeus who proclaimed them to me,
Nor did she who dwells with the gods below – the goddess, Judgement –
Lay down for us mortals such laws as those.
Neither did I suppose that your edicts
Had so much strength that you, who die,
Could out-run the unwritten and unchanging
Customs of the gods: for the life of these things
Is not only of yesterday or today, but eternal,
No one remembering their birth. {8}

All of which explains why we love to also quote what a certain English poet wrote in 1873 CE: “the separation between the Greeks and us is due principally to the Hebraistic culture we receive in childhood.” All those tall tales from the Bible about various Hebrew folk…

Rachael & Richard Stirling
Shropshire
Autumnal Equinox 2017 ev

°°°°°

{1} Antigone. Translated by David Myatt.

{2} https://regardingdavidmyatt.wordpress.com/2017/03/27/an-insight-into-pagan-mysticism/

{3} These translations – dating from between 1991 and 2017, and all of which are independent of his own mystical – if pagan – ‘philosophy of pathei-mathos’ – are by David Myatt, and include the following important classical texts:

° The Agamemnon of Aeschylus. ISBN-13: 978-1484128220

° Sophocles – Oedipus Tyrannus. ISBN-13: 978-1484132104

° Sophocles – Antigone. ISBN-13: 978-1484132067

° Homer – The Odyssey: Books 1, 2 & 3. ISBN-13: 978-1495402227

° Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates. A compilation containing translations of and commentaries on tractates I, III, IV, VI, VIII, XI, XII, XII. ISBN-13: 978-1976452369.

The commentaries on the tractates are of especial interest in elucidating the paganism of the texts.

His Greek translations are available here: https://perceiverations.wordpress.com/greek-translations/

{4} The Odyssey. Translated Myatt.

{5} Hesiod. Translated Myatt, and quoted (with the Greek text) in his commentary on Tractate III.

{6} Xenophon. Translated Myatt, and quoted (with the Greek text) in his commentary on Tractate I.

{7} Agamemnon. Translated Myatt.

{8} Antigone. Translated Myatt.


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Two events today – one very local and personal, the other of international political interest and personally unrelated to me – reminded me of what we in the West have and one of the important reasons how what we have is currently maintained.

Local

Earlier this morning Police surrounded a nearby house, with one armed Police officer – a quite young man – detailed to guard a possible rear escape route. Raid over, with arrests made, the armed officer politely and calmly re-assured a local resident who had, seeing and hearing the kerfuffle, ventured out into her garden, next door. In return, she thanked him knowing as she did how and why he had that morning willingly put his own life in danger. He genuinely surprised yet pleased that someone, some local resident, understood.

International

Such an orderly, and so very civilized, change of leader of a government in one Western country. Established, time-honored, procedures, a certain formality, and most definitely a long-standing tradition. A last appearance in a debating chamber for the departing leader during which not one of his political opponents used vulgar language or indulged in argumentum ad hominem. Then, for him, a journey – in a convoy with armed Police – to a formal audience with the Royal Sovereign of that land who alone, constitutionally, had the power to accept his resignation as leader, and who asked for his recommendation of who would be his successor as political leader of that land. Followed, shortly thereafter, by that new leader – in another convoy with armed Police – who only the Royal Sovereign of that land could formally, legally, appoint.

Here again were people acting in a civilized, a cultured, way; and here again were Police personnel – without any fuss or bother – putting their own lives in danger.

A Civilization Maintained

Such a contrast to so many places, to so many lands, around the world. Such an order, such a culture, such traditions, such civilized behavior by so many, as we in the West now have and have for over a century managed to maintain, despite the many problems that have afflicted us and despite the uncivilized behavior, the unreason, of many within our own lands.

Managed to maintain: because there are rules, traditions, procedures, for governments and politicians, worked out and refined over a century and more.

Managed to maintain: because there is the rule of law which, despite some individuals some of the time disagreeing with some of those laws, has created and maintained an ordered society for the benefit of the many, which law can be changed by civilized procedures, and which law – for all its faults – does on balance reflect what is fair, civilized.

Managed to maintain: because there is a Police force with long-standing traditions and procedures and with so many individuals within it prepared to put their own lives in danger because they know or because they instinctively feel what is civilized and what it is, in a given situation, the civilized, the fair, thing to do.

Managed to maintain: despite the doubters, the critics, the uncouth, the hateful, ones who seek to overthrow such a civilized, hard-won, order and who – often via the fallacy of arguing from the specific to the general – demean and hate the many (politicians, the Police) for the misdeeds of a minority.

All this, and so many similar things, is why I – aligning myself as I do with Reichsfolk – have a natural aversion to the uncouth behavior and language and the barbaric hatred of the many who now align themselves with National Socialism without understanding, or without feeling, its civilized, cultured, essence: an essence so manifest in the Waffen-SS, and an essence so maligned for so many decades by so much propaganda and so many lies because of the vested interests of so many who, at heart, are uncouth, uncultured, and uncivilized.

S.L.
13 July 2016

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