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Artha, Pt. I.

By Paul Waggener

I took my first job at 15, working on a roofing crew in Northern California, one of the only guys at the time on my job-site without a criminal record. I remember 105 degree days on wood shingles, getting burnt by the sun and bit by fire ants. I also remember the feeling of satisfaction at the end of a long day, when the foreman asked me and my buddy Sam, then 17 or 18, to come back the next day- a couple teenagers chosen over grown men for our work ethic and hustle.

For the rest of my life, that work ethic defined me on job-sites all over America. I’ve done concrete, tree work, demolition, log cabin construction, and more- always the most brutal grunt work available, since I never was worth much when it came to carpentry, or any of the more skilled labor jobs. I knew how to work hard, I was pretty strong, and I was reliable- three things that will ensure you a job almost anywhere in the country, but will never make you rich.

It wasn’t until I started playing country music that I first understood that hard, brutal work was not necessarily the best way to make money. It sure made other people money, but usually left me tired, mean, and beat up at the end of a week, with just enough money to pay the bills and party a little, before saddling up and doing it all over again the next Monday. I never had more than a grand or two at any given time. Certainly no savings or “rainy day” money.

As I started to play out more, and I improved as a performer, I started making 150 dollars or so for a show, then sometimes 2 or 300. The idea that in two 3 hour gigs I could make what I made in a whole week of breaking concrete with a heavy jackhammer blew my mind. Thinking of playing music full time was something I’d never even considered as a possibility.

A while later, I was working a few days a week as a bartender, and knocking down three or four gigs a week, and instead of pulling in a few hundred a week, I was making a couple thousand. This transition knocked down some major road-blocks in my mind, and in my approach to wealth and currency, and for the first time in my life, I was making “good money” without breaking my back or bones to do it.

These days, I do pretty well for myself, paying the bills with writing, artwork, consulting, all under the Operation Werewolf banner. Anyone who tells you working for yourself isn’t as hard as manual labor has probably never done it, as it presents its own series of challenges, mostly stemming from the fact that you are 100% reliant on yourself for everything- most people don’t have the ability to be their own taskmaster, or they lack the staying power and relentless nature required to run a business. 

However, its infinitely more enjoyable at the end of a day to know that the hours you put in were for you and yours, and being mentally exhausted beats the hell out of herniated discs and blown knees.

I get my physical exhaustion these days from weights and martial arts, which I was often too tired to do when putting in 12 or 14 hour days rolling logs up hills.

For some people, though, I think the problem is all in their mindset.

It seems that most of the people I interact with, especially the modern “pagans” or “heathens,” fall into the low to middle class economic bracket, and that this is largely due to an attitude toward money adopted from either a Christian upbringing or sense of inferiority.

Bringing up money or discussing it is commonly seen by these types as impolite or in bad taste, even though many of them eke out a meager living in decidedly undignified positions, supplemented often by some kind of “side-hustle” so popularly seen at gatherings and on social media. Blacksmithing, jewelry, woodburnings, religious trinkets, mead-making, clothing sales and so forth are all commonplace.

Operate outside these quaint “old-world” hobby-trade pursuits, and now instead of being “industrious” you might find yourself become a “money-grubber” or some other insult slung by those people in a position of less success than their betters.

Here’s a secret:

Everyone wants more money. 



Sure, there may be a few monks on a mountain somewhere who have transcended the desire for the finer things in life, but for the rest of us, money means access, power and leverage. Eating good quality food, exploring the world, the security of our own home, reliable conveyance, medical treatment when necessary without going into crushing debt, even supporting those within our network through patronage by buying or investing in their endeavors- none of this can be done without wealth.



In the pre-Christian era of Europe, from whence this mishmash of modern “pagan revival” claims to take its cues, wealth was seen as a noble pursuit, one that led to respect, power, and leverage. In Hinduism, they called this pursuit “artha” and it was seen as one of the ways to live a meaningful life, when approached in a virtuous and honest fashion.



A chieftain in pagan Europe was largely successful or unsuccessful due to charisma and open-handedness, that is, his ability to attain enough wealth that he could be generous with it, thereby establishing loyalty and love from his inner circle and soldiers, in order to attain even more of it.

Likewise, the great holy festivals and rites of pagan worship throughout the world were largely dedicated to success of some kind- whether in battle or trade, prosperous fields and livestock or conquest in other lands to expand the means and territory of the tribe or people.

The Celts and Germans were known to throw gold and silver into sacred lakes in order to receive a like gift in return from their gods, ancestors or the genius loci, showing an undeniable connection between wealth and their religious practices.

They did this because they understood a simple truth:



Money is power.




People don’t really want money simply to buy nice things, although that is one undeniable and pleasant side effect of having money. But at its core, everyone knows that money represents power in this world, and everyone wants to be more powerful.

This is what we have to change our minds about, and our attitudes. We have to stop looking at wealth as a strict currency, some dirty money that exchanges hands in strip clubs and back alleys, or exists as one’s and zero’s in our bank account, some finite, small concept. Instead, we must understand the mystery of :FEHU: as a power source that fires the circuitry of possibility.

That’s what money is: A tool to leverage possibility.



I heard it said somewhere that increased responsibility meant greater power, but that when we are dependent on someone else, we are relinquishing power. This single idea pretty much sums up my entire attitude and philosophy toward money.

I don’t want to relinquish power over myself to anyone else. I want to hold the reins, and I don’t want to spend my life crushed and beaten down by debt, poverty, reduced opportunity, tightly scheduled labor for pay, or seeking the generosity or openhandedness of greater men.

Better men.

Because in this world, no one is equal.

No one is equal in any way- unless they are.

If I can lift 500 pounds off the ground and you can’t, I am stronger than you at the deadlift.
No if’s, no and’s, no but’s.

If I can’t multiply 12×12 in my head and someone else can, they are smarter, sharper, or more learned than I am.

If I can’t afford to fix my broken down truck and someone else can, it makes them more powerful than me, at least on a temporal level.

These things affect everything- how strong we are, how tough, how wealthy, how good-looking, or charismatic. The people that say they don’t matter are the ones who don’t have them, and can only fling slander and jealous barbs at those who do.

The fact is, it all matters. It all dictates our place in the world, our social standing in the world, and in our own in-groups. We’ve evolved to admire those who are capable of thriving, capable and skilled at acquiring. Whether that is acquiring strength or wealth, or “getting girls,” or anything else, we respect those who can ably “do for themselves.” We look down on those who are always looking for hand out, the self-willed weak, or the socially inept. 

This comparison, these judgements, they happen all the time, every second, every moment.

The reason that wealth and power is the most important of these physical, temporal attributes, is that in this world, it dictates more areas of your life than anything else.



[Note, we are NOT SAYING that wealth is the most important thing there is- only that it is the most important TEMPORAL thing there is- honor, loyalty, virtus, and so on- these things clearly hold more importance to us, and if there must be a choice between them, we will take the eternal and the ideological over the temporal and transient any day.]

To have or to have not.

To go do what you always dreamed of, or to be stuck at home in some shabby apartment watching other people doing what you wanted to do and saying “one day, one day.”

One day is right.

One day you’ll either understand that in order to live lives of legendary excellence, of liberated action, we can’t be dependent on anyone but ourselves- or one day, you’ll die unfulfilled.

The choice is completely up to you how you want to go out, but I can tell you this from personal experience: if you are someone who has big goals, massive dreams, wild, expansive thoughts, creativity, charisma, or whatever else- none of it matters if you’re stuck in the meat grinder of wage slavery.

The pursuit of wealth and power is the game of kings.

It is the high stakes dice roll that harshly marks the line between rulers and ruled, slaves or free men, and make no mistake that this is the true nature of the world whether you like it or not. The concepts and realities of power, wealth and rulership do not require our approval to simple “be.”



Wealth is a storm. A lightning bolt that we can harness to power the entire machinery of our complex goals, plans and network, and allows us to create an empire in the desert.

We can either hold the reins or stay under the whip.


“He who is without wealth amidst unlimited quantities of it, is either a coward, a born slave, or a lunatic.”

– Might is Right

XCII

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The Odinic Path.

by Paul Waggener

Odin has become a shattered archetype.



Adopted by weaklings and underachievers as a loving father figure, or as an oversimplified deity of magic or poetry.

Desacralized through profane use in popular heavy metal or TV shows, the word has become synonymous with bad t-shirts and “Valhalla” memes that run rampant through the internet and social media.

“Hail Odin, drink mead and go to Valhalla.”

Ridiculous slogans that place a childish slant on a feared and fearsome concept. 



Adam of Bremen famously said, “Wodan, id est furor.”



Odin- that means fury.



Like many archaic words and names, we can learn a great deal about this one by studying its roots. From proto-Germanic, *wodanaz is related to *wodaz, “raging.”

When we look at the proper noun in Old Norse, we are seeing a compound word, Óð- as prefix, meaning fury, ecstasy, passion, rage, frantic, possessed, and even, in some cases, “insane,” and -inn, the definite article “the.”

The Ecstatic. The Raging. The Furious. The Possessed.

As the name implies, those areas which fall under Odin’s aegis are ones associated with death, madness, might, magic and warfare.

The character of Odin, throughout the Germanic lore is far from a loving father, and is more often seen as a liar, deceiver, murderer, and opportunist. His sole goal is the acquisition of power, often through the gaining of information and hidden understanding, other times through the more direct paths of conflict and domination.

If Frey is the good and rightful king of plenty, Odin is the king by his own hand, a tyrant, and an intensely Machiavellian character playing at a game to which only he knows the rules.

My understanding of Odin has always been less as a character or personality, and more as a pathway, a development of one’s own character along certain ley-lines that share a commonality with the principles of an “Odinic” lifestyle. 



Some modern writers have attempted to label Odin as a demiurge, painting the Germanic mythological landscape with a gnostic brush to fit their own philosophies, which is itself perhaps an Odinic pursuit- but Odin is not a demiurge.



He did not create matter, nor does he control the universe or the matter within it- in the cosmogony of the north, Odin is a re-shaper of the world around him, which is a critically different concept- rather than being responsible for the winking into existence of the cosmos as we know it, Odin and his brothers reshaped existing reality in the form of the giant Ymir, through a sacrificial act of murder and will, recreating what was already in existence in a way they saw fit. This one simplified concept holds within it most of the bedrock of the practice of “the occult,” or “magic.”

Of course, we are dealing with stories here, truths with a capital “T” and not facts. I have always found literal understandings of any mythology to be abhorrent, and a total obstruction of those truths that can be distilled by way of a deeper approach- there is no dogmatic One Church of Odin, and if there was, and it had members, there would be a strong irony there.

The Odinic path is not a straight road with well defined rules and borders, but a twisted labyrinth of interlocking and crisscrossing pieces, many roads leading to an unknown center. It defies rules and transgresses borders and boundaries, and beckons the one who would walk it out into an ever-changing wilderness without map or compass.

The way of Odin could possibly be best understood as a road of experience and distillation. An alchemical process in which one accumulates massive amounts of raw material and places them in the furnace, burning away the dross and seeing what comes out on the other side, purifying it, re-burning, and filtering everything through the worldview of who the individual desires to be, but perhaps is not yet.

It relies on the development of a sort of spiritual compass. On the one side, there exists the tireless search to find ones correct place in the world, to wander until this is known, or found through the garnering of many experiences in many places. On the other, the Great Work and constant transformation, the acquisition of power and the knowledge that the only good in this world is the feeling of strength increasing.

Above, the one star that burns bright in the firmament for the follower of the Odinic path, or more correctly, the traverser of the Odinic labyrinth- the Ternion configuration of the Valknut, representative of the path itself, and He-Who-First-Walked-It. The crown of fire that exists at the end of the road, the center of the maze, an intangible prize that likely can never be won, but that drives on the traveler and fires his passion.

Below, the commandment from the very roots of his being, deep in his blood, perhaps even in his lineage- the fiery edict to Keep Rising, to combat despair and distraction with purpose. To keep one’s eyes on the only star that will never fail, that is called Destiny, or Fate, or Doom.

The horse he rides is called :ALU:, derived from a proto-Indo-European word that translates as “magic, ritual, possession, intoxication,” and from whence come our words, ale, hallucination. The connection to the name of Odin here is clear, and if Odin is a noun, then alu is the verb with which we attain him, become him, and change ourselves.

This horse is our ritual practice, our elevated work in which we peer into the unknown, and take back mysteries from the void, screaming.

The labyrinth that leads to this fiery crown is not one of “finding balance,” nor “seeking peace.” It is a way of isolation, trial, ordeal, great suffering and huge reward. It relies on passion and fire, the spoken word as a spell of re-ordering the world in our own image. The pillars on which it supports itself are not stability and steadfastness, but chaos and conflict.

The center of the Valknut is the eye of a hurricane, and only the one who is capable of living there- of grasping the power and stillness at the heart of the storm- can call himself worthy of traveling the Odinic Path.

XCII

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Standard Bearers.


by Paul Waggener
Originally published in Inner Circle Issue #4

Operation Werewolf marches under the sign of the black banner which bears emblazoned on it a wolf skull and crossed bones, surrounded by a serpent, ouroboros, the entirety of which we call the “Totenwolf,” or “death-wolf.”

Many have chosen to cast this symbol aside for their own, using the tenets and ideas discovered through Operation Werewolf, as well as the network, to build their own tribes under their own banners, renaming and re-creating the same general method with that spirit of individuality and separation that men naturally crave.



Although I see the perceived value in this, and call many of these men and their tribes my friends, allies, and associates, this action in many ways has missed the mark- overlooked one of the vital concepts around which the creation of Operation Werewolf was based: solidarity, and consonance.

From the Complete Zines, Volume 1: Iron and Blood Vol II:



“Its symbolism is three-fold: Death, the Wolf, and the Serpent, who we call “the Spawn of the Ironwood.” We use these ancient archetypes for their symbolic value in the current age, as well as the internal work we undergo.



In order to create ourselves anew, we must destroy that which came before.

The Spawn of the Ironwood are representative of those energies of destruction, the ending of cycles, the clearing away of old and corrupt forms of being and existing…



When we don the Death-wolf on our back, or fly its dread banner at our Division gatherings, we are hailing those principles that are the bloody death of our old ways of thinking, of doing, of living.

We are hailing our eternal march, grim and warlike, towards a greater destiny than that which would be chosen for us by those who wear the crowns of this earth.



We are signaling to others who are ready for something more, and calling them to our grisly standard.

Werewolf Legions, unite!”

One of the reasons a standard is borne is for purposes of identification on a battlefield. A clear sign showing who allied forces are, to more effectively operate on the battlefield. For this reason, the intention at the beginning was that all those who stood under the flag of the Operation would stand under that same banner, a clear signal to friend and foe alike:



“We are united. We stand together as one.”



However, as stated, the value of individual Divisions wearing their own standard became clear as a way for the “true” to separate themselves from the “rank and file,” those who were perhaps flirting or dabbling with the symbolism but not understanding the life reform that is to come along with it. 



This separation and distinction could possibly have been avoided with a different approach: that of internal correction.

It is true that anyone can put on a wolf-skin, but it does not make them a wolf.

At best, they are attacking the work with heart, in an honest effort to improve themselves, adhering to the tenets of this strength culture, connecting with others and forming lasting bonds that lead to the improvement of the whole- these kinds of men and women are increasing their own honor, and that of the Operation.

At worst, they are interlopers, embarrassments to the cause, interested in the trappings of this growing mythology, but not in the movement and personal transformation it requires. These are the worst kind of people, and we know their works- they are actively inhibiting the Operation, and working to destroy its reputation by way of their own weakness and lack of dedication or understanding.

In militaristic organizations of the past, being a standard bearer was considered an honor, and a privilege, and should still be seen as such- bearing the standard of Operation Werewolf comes along with a certain kind of danger, in that one willingly identifies themselves as a part of something that many are in opposition to.

This opposition sees a standard bearer as a prime target. 

Also, they open themselves up to challenge from within- from other bearers of the standard. This behavior should be encouraged. The Operation was never meant to be insular, or an edgy statement made by lone “wolves,” but a living network of pressure, competition, and power.



Those who actively avoid this sort of face to face interaction and pressure should be pressured all the way out. Operation Werewolf is not for the faint of heart, nor for the lukewarm- it is for the extreme, the passionate, the aflame!

Those who are a vessel of holy fire- a breathing, bleeding temple built to the god called strength and overcoming.

The timid, the chronically mediocre and those who avoid confrontation and pressure must be rooted out before their cancer can spread.

We see Operation Werewolf as a living representation of the black sun, and the black sun as both a threshing floor and a pathway to the center. One begins at the outermost edge and works their way inward, toward becoming. Toward belonging.

But the way to the center goes through the trials and tribulations of this overcoming, and the rays of the black sun are reaping blades! 



“Lonely one, you are going the way to yourself! And your way goes past yourself, and past your seven devils! You will be a heretic to yourself and witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and villain. You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: how could you become new, if you had not first become ashes?”

Those who wear the Totenwolf proudly should be flesh and blood symbols of its tenets and practices, physically strong and mentally sharp, capable, dangerous, moving ever toward the center of the black sun- and it should always be remembered that whatever the banner, we will know one another by our works!


XCII

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Immanentize the Eschaton.

Apocalypse.

Armageddon.



Doomsday. 


The last days, the end times, the Kali Yuga. 

Great upheavals, wars, rumors of wars, brothers killing brothers and the world sinking into ignorance, depravity, filth, and darkness.

The merchants of fear and the prophets (and profits) of doom are doing well. Their message is one of despair, and terror. Their tactics are simple, because they know that human nature is to spread bad news. They plant a virus of an idea, and watch the commoners spread it like plague rats.

Every time you share the “news,” or you heave a sigh and shake your head, or cough out the sickness of “everything is worse than ever,” or the bloody oral dysentery of “it’s hopeless,” you embrace life as one of these rats. You perform your service to the Empire well, and are to be commended on your obedience to The Narrative.

Their message relies on the idea that the world is somehow getting worse. That it started somewhere sane, and reasonable, and perfect, and has degenerated from there.

This may be a hard one to swallow, but man has never existed in some kind of honey-sweet golden era of peace, prosperity, enlightenment, and virtue.

That idea is a fairy tale.



Homo homini lupus. Man is a wolf to man- and it has always been this way.

Slavery, war, brutality, greed, treachery and betrayal are the calling cards of humanity, everywhere, across all time. We do not do ourselves a service by pretending it is not this way.

But this does not mean our next step is to abandon hope, or to give up and become a plague rat.

Our hope is not an impotent desire for a better world, or a mendicant’s begging for a messianic savior- it is a chosen state of mind, enforced by will and informed by truth.

A state of mind that although there has never been a golden age for all mankind, we are not incapable of bringing about one for ourselves.

Our truth is that the future is in our hands, and the only prayers that matter are the ones that lead our bodies to action, and our minds to fiery movement.

We can rebuild the landscape around us, both physical and ideological, by making powerful, virile choices- backed up by consistent, passionate effort.

We embrace the “end times,” and our place in them, and that place is to build a bastion of strength and loyalty to our chosen brothers and sisters in this hell on earth.

What we are building must exist.

It must exist because the alternative is to give in to despair, to inertia, to stagnation and fear and hopelessness- and this is simply not an option. 

Defeat is not an option, and so narratives of defeat, words of despair, weavers of heartlessness are not welcome.

We will immanentize the eschaton.

We will embrace our place in the strange and awful tapestry of space and time, and bring about a kind of golden era that will exist within us and grow, like shining filaments connecting us one to another, across the face of this spinning earth.



It will grow and brighten each time we make the choice for strength over weakness. 



Each time we choose loyalty over betrayal. 



Truth over falsehood.



Unshakeable faith in the beauty and righteousness of our mission over the deep, rotting fear and imprisoning solutions offered to us by the leprous hands of this world’s “principalities and powers.”



This is the end of the world as we know it, and it is happening every moment, every second, every hour.

These are the last days, because they are the last ones we will ever know. 

Our time is now. 



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Total Life Reform.

Operation Werewolf was conceived as an alchemical process designed to rebuild a complete human being.

This process is one of Total Life Reform- meaning a complete re-thinking and tearing down of the conditioned state of being, in order to rebuild the self as an archetype. 



In our present time, it is much more popular for people to treat things “cafeteria style,” taking this little choice piece or that one- disregarding the things they don’t particularly care for, or that seem a little too difficult or “extreme.”



Most settle on a mishmash of philosophies that “work for them,” or that make them feel good about themselves for a while, until they are discarded for the next big thing. 



12 Rules For Life. The 4 Hour Body. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. 



Neatly numbered packages, put together in this way because marketing research has shown that “numbered list” articles and self-help books sell more copies. 



For those interested, the numbered list approach uses the way your own brain is wired to get you to click on those articles and buy those books- studies show that simply using numbers in article headlines make them perform as much as 71% better than those without.



This is one simple example of the way the human being is a product of his conditioning. 

In reality, the answers are not so simple. Life doesn’t break down into neat lists and “just make your bed” styled platitudes.

Humanity is so firmly entrenched in the programming of the modern world that most people are at the mercy of fear, depression, anxiety, weakness, addiction, and, perhaps most importantly, a lack of purpose and true direction.



Their purpose has been packaged and sold to them, and their direction has been whispered in their ear by the forked tongue of marketing and media. 

Incantations sung directly into the deep parts of the mind through television and internet, rooting ideas there with sinister purpose. The triune rites of the industrial megacity-



Consume/Labor/Consume.

The original sin of the modern age is debt- from the moment you are old enough to enter into the working world, it has you by the throat, paying bills, selling you things you don’t need, utilizing sales strategies designed to leverage your own mind against you.



A generation of humans raised by the flickering screen, techno-priests on the other end beaming highly effective and well tested programs into the eyes and ears, cracking the brain just like hacking a mainframe, all too human, all too simple.



Control.



This world is owned and operated. Those who hold the glittering keys to this kingdom do not have your best interests in mind, and what they want from you is simple: everything you have.

But there is an answer. 

That answer is Total Life Reform.



In this alchemical process, we must first undergo Nigredo. Death, and the Black Work. 



A furnace that burns away everything that we were, and shows us that what we are is what we choose to make of ourselves- we become aware of our conditioned state, and we awaken to the knowledge that to create, we must first destroy.

As we awaken, we must realize that this is not a pick and choose operation, but one that must permeate us on every level of our being if it is to be successful in the long term. It requires total dedication on the physical level, on the mental level, and on the spiritual one.

We must begin to become healthy- a word that comes from the Proto-Germanic “hailaz” which means “whole.”



To become whole, it is needful for us to engage our being on all fronts, and to begin with a great purification, a disintegration of habit, of compulsion, fear, and the deeper anguish of our lonesome existence.



This Mahapralaya, or great dissolution, will come about as a product of our ongoing work, and is an active destruction. 



Through a devotion to physical strength and training, we engage with the rebuilding and purification of ourselves on a material level, which is the first stage, and the easiest to see and understand.



As we see our physical forms change, and become lean and strong, muscular and powerful, as the chariot and temple should be, our minds begin to grasp that this process exists in the mental realms as well. 

Through feeding it that which is needful, that which is healthy and whole, and by exercising the mental faculties in the same Spartan and energetic way we treat the body, our minds become sharp, effective, swift, and capable of force and intention. 



We choose what we put in, and what is produced therefrom. We are known by the fruit of our words and deeds.

But the spirit, too, must be engaged.

It must be roused from its deep slumber, ensorcelled to sleep by the dream weavers of Empire- because the awakened and strengthened human spirit is the greatest enemy known to them.



We must feed our spirit through ritual and discipline.



Fire and ash, the forest rites of power, blood on the stones, and words of might and myth spoken and roared to those who awaken with us. 



These primal ceremonies are needful, because they speak to the deep caverns of our being, back through time and space, and reverberate through our blood, raising us up and reminding us that we are creatures of mythological power, capable of harnessing the power of the thunderbolt, and the stars.



We have brought black liquid death up from the deep places of the earth and have made weapons that reduce entire cities to ashes!



We have built wonders and come together at various times and places throughout tens of thousands of years to overthrow and re-make the world in our image. 

The very act of remembering our incredible abilities and the awful wonder of the human mind is one of revolution.



All this and more makes up the process of Total Life Reform that we call Operation Werewolf. 



It is not a neat list. It is not for entertainment value. It is not a merit badge.



It is an ongoing project of the human spirit that calls out to those who would be awakened, and strong, but it asks of them:



What have you made of yourself? What are you making yourself into? Are you willing to engage fully, completely, in the battle against slumber and despair? Are you willing to exist all the way alive?



If your answer is a resounding “Yes!” to life, then you are now under a great responsibility to succeed. To help others succeed.

To see a desolation, and to make it your paradise. 



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Mannaz and Mantra.

This article was originally published in Issue 3 of the “The Inner Circle,” Operation Werewolf’s official monthly e-publication. Each month, a new Issue of the Inner Circle is published here on the website, accessible to subscribers for 10 USD a month, and containing several articles and essays, videos, insider news and more. You can subscribe by clicking the “Inner Circle” tab of the navigation bar.

MANNAZ AND MANTRA

-Paul Waggener

Most who are aware of Operation Werewolf are similarly aware of my interest in runes, both on a linguistic and historical level, as well as their application as a sort of psychological wrench- a mental and spiritual tool used for specific and repeatable purpose. 

Before we continue, because of language limitations and misconceptions, it is necessary to define what I mean when I use the word “spiritual:”




“In its simplest terms, when we use this word, we will be referring to the intangible thing within man which can be seen as the seat of his character, emotions, and connection with the unseen world around him. Also, his will, and other such unquantifiable concepts that man has felt, interacted with, and experienced, knows to be real, but cannot show in a physical form- but certainly can see the effects of.

Just as we cannot see “love” as anything beyond an assortment of chemicals in the brain, but can witness it in a mother’s devotion to her son, or a man’s to his wife; just as we cannot see “will” as chemical combination or a physical form, we can witness it in the determination of a mountain climber, a monk setting his body on fire, or even someone resisting the addiction of cigarettes or narcotics- we cannot see the “soul” or “spirit” of a man, or his “character,” but we can see the change they create in the world about him.”

-from ‘The Werewolf Manifesto,’ available in print from Operation Werewolf Spring 2018




Just as this term ‘spiritual’ is representative of an intangible, the runes themselves are intangibles, gigantic conceptual glaciers and mountains- titanic architectures of thought and experience that have become inseparable from my worldview through long use. A rune, simply put, is a letter in an alphabet- but it is so much more than this in the same way that the ocean is different from a glass of salt water.

One of the runes tattooed on my body is a large “Mannaz” on my right bicep. Mannaz is a word from the theoretical proto Indo-European language, from which the word “man” is derived, denoting man as a collective, “mankind,” and also the individual himself. Some scholars make the connection between *mannaz and the root words *men- (to think, as in, “mentality”), connecting the idea of man defining himself as a “thinker,” or a being of consciousness and thought. The Sanskrit word (a language that comes from the same root) manas has shaped my understanding of the Mannaz rune in many crucial ways, and whether or not linguistic scholars accept or deny the etymological connection between “man” and “mind,” the philosophical connection remains.

Manas is one of the four parts of the mind in Hindu thought, representing the faculty that with the help of the sensory organs, receives information from the world around us and presents it to the intellect. It is the instinctive mind, as well as the individualizing principle that allows man to see himself as an individual, separate from the collective. It is the seat of desire, as well, that undisciplined aspect of self that creates and moves us toward actions for the sake of satiating ourselves in some way or another.



It is divided into two parts, the “buddhi manas” and the “kama manas” which refer to the “higher mind” and the “lower mind,” another idea that has resonated strongly with me and been discussed often in my writing. Even in the shape of the *Mannaz rune, we can see two separate vertical lines “communicating” with one another with a kind of “wiring” that goes from one to the other and crosses in the center, creating a pictogram of balance, interconnectedness, and exchange.



The rune itself also indicates the idea of man in his highest potential- what he is ultimately capable of if he is performing at the greatest level possible through training the lower mind to be ruled by the higher mind. One of the techniques through which this can be encouraged is that of mantra. The word itself connects to the subject at hand, and is a Sanskrit word made up of the root, manas, and the suffix -tra, denoting a tool or instrument. Taken together, a “mind tool,” or “instrument of consciousness.”



In the runic tradition, formulas are created from various runes, and sung in a practice called “galdr,” which refers to the vocal nature of it, often seemingly gibberish words strung together for an initiatic meaning that only reveals itself through the repetition of the galdr. Mantra refers to this same practice, and by its definition, was seen as a tool for training the mind in a certain direction, or to change the thought process by controlling it in a specific way.

In short, one way of looking at mantra is words and sounds designed to produce something in one’s mind. What that something is depends on the mantra itself, as well as the individual’s intention. 

Applying this to our personal practice is an incredibly powerful method of quite literally altering our brains and consciousness in a similar way to how the body is shaped and altered during deliberate physical training.

The study of neuroplasticity has proven that brain activity is changed through practices such as mediation, but also that physical changes occur in the brain itself through training it via these “instruments of thought.”

We also know that physical exercise produces an increase in grey matter volume in multiple regions of the brain, proving that what we do, and the activities we engage in, alter the very seat of our cognitive abilities. 

Scientists have also proven that when we think or feel a certain way, neurons fire together, connect and begin to create a “neurological pathway.” The first time we think to ourselves “I am weak, I can’t do this,” for example, we can see it as walking through an untamed frontier, a difficult and arduous journey from one place to another, cutting through undergrowth and foliage, fording rivers, ultimately arriving at our destinations as trailblazers. The second time, a beaten path begins to appear, and the river fords are built into bridges. By the hundredth time, roads are being built, and train track is being laid, until some time in the future, flying cars are smoothly navigating the highways at blink of an eye speeds.

What this means is that the more times we give in to a negative thought or emotion, self-defeating internal talk, a difficult workout makes us quit- we are making it easier for ourselves to do or feel that in the future. This is not some white-light, hippie talk. This is scientific fact- the more we perform an action, but more importantly, think a thought, we cast a vote for more of the same. We lay down an infrastructure to build up that area of our brain.

This is why it becomes so vitally important for us to train to control our emotional responses to things early and often. Habits become difficult to break, modes of thinking or dealing with our problems become such monumental tasks, because we have spent years building that “muscle” in our mind, until we are fighting a 300 pound sumo wrestler each time we try to not fly off the handle when we can’t find our phone (something I’ve been guilty of many times!).

This is where mantra comes in. 

Developing the correct neurological pathways means treating the brain as a muscle and applying the same principles here that we would in the gym, or on the mats. Repetitive, consistent, correct training to achieve results. My jiu jitsu coach is fond of saying “practice doesn’t make perfect, practice just makes habit. Perfect practice makes perfect.”

We can’t just throw ourselves into something haphazardly, we need an organized training routine. 

My suggestion is that you start simple. There’s no need to learn another language, or pick up an entirely new verbiage in order to get started- although the study of language, traditional mantra and galdr is certainly a rewarding endeavor. Instead, begin by identifying a specific aspect of yourself that you are looking to get control over. In simple terms, this could be a lack of discipline getting out of bed in the morning, or a habit of losing your temper easily. 

You will create (and keep to yourself, for now), a mantra that identifies this by applying a positive approach. It could be something as simple as, “I am in control of myself and my emotions. My temper is a product of my lower self, and I am its master. I am calm, rational, and powerful.” There isn’t a need for flowery words or poetics, although if this helps you connect with the process, by all means, go for it. What we are looking to achieve here is the creation of small, simple tool to begin creating the pathway in your mind in a direction that will prove corrective for the problem you are dealing with.

While you recite your mantra, you will also keep firmly in mind that each time you master your temper, you are building a habit. Each time you give in, you are doing the same. If you master it next time, applying your mantra, being in control, calm, cool, powerful, and so on, you are weakening the neurological pathway that is lit up when your temper flares. By doing it time after time, each success makes it less likely that you will lose your temper next time. 



Success is a habit, as surely as anything else. We create it through developing a practice.


Going forward, each month, when the Inner Circle comes out, I will be presenting one rune each time, with a bit of information on its meaning, application and suggested meditation for it. You can apply these in your creation of personal mantras and “words of power,” that you can begin to see as tools- the kettle bells and barbells of the consciousness, affecting change there just as certainly as in all other forms of our training, *mannaz and mantra working together to build a complete human in the image we have chosen.

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Respect.

RESPECT.

I am addressing this article to men, specifically. This is not because the behaviors listed and detailed in this article are exclusive to men, but because I am not a female and have no interest in lecturing them on how to be “better women.” For the same reason I curl a lip in derision every time I see a woman lead off a sentence with: “real men do/don’t…”, I won’t presume to tell them how to do things.

While I won’t speak for women, I can, however, speak to men. As a man who grew up one of four brothers, has been in aggressive, hyper-masculine peer-groups and social circles since my early teens, and have founded two organizations that are male dominated- I know how men act. I know how they interact, and I know what they talk about, value, fear and desire. I also know what triggers their disrespect and scorn.

It’s been said that a woman’s highest need is to feel loved, but that a man’s highest need is to feel respected. We have spoken often in the past of the need for physical prowess, both in a strong physique and a personal relationship with violence, as a pre-requisite for respect in a male dominated honor-group. It should go without saying that any man reading this should be engaged in the cultivation of those physical attributes- here we are focused on a few of the more amorphous, “behavioral” details.

What follow are some of the ways men erode their respect from other men, often without even being aware of their behavior.

  • No Emotional ControlFor that matter, lacking self-control in general. Men don’t respect men who can’t “keep their shit together.” Whether this means getting a better grip on your temper to not fly off the handle in small, petty situations, or not acting like a wreck after a break-up- take stock of your current emotional self-control and determine where you are.This goes double for not publicly displaying weakness on social media, which is one of the most flagrantly weak ways of showing a need for self pity and validation. Basically, other guys know that if you can’t maintain an even balance and keep your head, you’re no good in any high stress situation, which signals your lack of value in a peer group.

    Combat this by exercising methods of self-control, programmed in the same way you might try to increase your deadlift.

    If you don’t understand it, or where it comes from, start by educating yourself on the topic. We can’t fight something we don’t know, or can’t identify. Here’s a video I shot on the topic a few weeks back, in case you haven’t seen it. Explore other methods of identifying and gaining control over your emotional state- in order to have the respect of others, you must have enough respect for yourself to be in control and mentally and emotionally organized.

  • BrokeNo matter how cool your buddy is who always “hooks you up” when you’re out is, and no matter how many times he says “it’s all good,” he will come to resent you, and other males will notice that you always need a “spot.” What you are telling your friends by always expecting them to help you out, is that your time is more important than theirs, because they are sacrificing time and personal wealth for you constantly, whereas you are sacrificing none (or not enough) of yours.There’s a big difference between having generous pals who have no problem kicking down every once in a while -generosity is a respected trait- but relying on the generosity of others is never respected.

    Get it together, and make your own scratch. If you are having a hard time with financial responsibility, look up a few ways to help budget what you do have, like the envelope system. Check out a few of the Fiscal Fitness videos I did last year to get you started, or pick up a copy of a popular start-up guide like “the $100 Start-Up” by Chris Guillebeau.

    Increasing your personal resources and cashflow is a critical part of not only living the way you want to, but also establishing respect with the men around you.

    The money is out there- get some for yourself, then do something nice for that friend of yours who used to always be the one helping you out. You’ll feel good, and people won’t resent you for being a leech.

     

  • Chronic ComplainerIt’s hard to like someone who always has some bitch or complaint. Again, venting to friends now and again? No problem. Constantly having something to be negative, downtrodden or whiny about? Sounds like you need to raise your test, stiffen your upper lip and set about improving what sounds like a really shitty life. It’s on you to fix your own problems, and no one really, truly, at the end of the day, wants to hear your problems.Remember that, because its true. No one wants to hear it. They might be ok with being the occasional emotional support if you’re going through a hard time, but they’d rather you didn’t. Your problems are yours alone, and complaining has never, ever helped resolve a bad situation.

    Problems are solved with a positive, head-on attitude and the correct application of force in the right direction. If you feel negative often, try writing some basic mantras to repeat to yourself in the morning- I know it sounds fucking tacky, but even this simple step of self-reinforcement and direction at the day’s start can really help change your mindset.

    Try to pay attention to the way you word things, and avoid putting a negative spin on them. Instead of complaining, focus on the positive aspects of things, or remove emotional connection to your problems and attack them rationally instead. Next time you find yourself complaining, just remind yourself of your goal, and remember that its all in how we look at it. The way a man deals with adversity even on a verbalized level tells a lot about him.

  • Thirsty”/DesperateThis one is huge. Not only are high-performing/confident males put off and disgusted by overt shows of “thirst,” or sexual desperation, the irony is that so are women. As a former musician, bartender, and bouncer, I have spent countless hours hearing women talk about the pathetic dudes who throw out weak pick-up lines, comment on their social media profiles, or send self-deprecating direct messages that they think are charming, but are really just sickening and creepy as hell.Avoid thirst traps, and don’t fall for them! A thirst trap is common parlance for a social media post put up for the sole intention of attracting attention from “thirsty” individuals- a classic example of this is a girl saying something like “loving this new hairstyle” with a close-up photo of her at an angle that aggressively advertises her rack, with her hair barely even on camera.

    Engaging with these sort of things is always the wrong move, for several reasons.

    When Ragnar Sonsofanarchysson posts a comment on some overweight “shieldmaiden’s” page, or acts like a little desperate puppy dog in the bar, or wherever, a couple of things happen. First, you actually do the female no favors, nor any other male, because you create a false sense of self image for the female. Inflating their ego to unreasonable levels with your “go-girl” fan comments, or your sexual predator-esque text-version-of-heavy-breathing-on-the-other-end-of-an-anonymous-phone-call is desirous to no one, ultimately not even them.

    The other kicker is, no healthy, normal woman really wants a man so weak and malleable that she can control or dominate them. Your desperation signals weakness to them, and inability. It’s elementary stuff, but women want men who are confident, self-controlled, and respected by other men. More often than not, it is the male with the highest standing in his male peer group or amongst his friends, who has the most desirable female. You can’t fuck with millions of years of human evolution.

    Think before you comment on a girl’s picture, or say something to her at the gym, bar, grocery store, or wherever you meet women- although with the levels of technological mediation at this far off the charts, I’m surprised when people even meet in person anymore without a swipe of the screen.

    Ask yourself, “am I signaling sexual dehydration, like a man crawling through a desert?” And then, just don’t- ultimately, men respect other men who are capable, and this includes being capable in the realms of male-female social interaction. I guarantee your “damn” and “looking good” posts are being noticed by your more self-aware friends and are a source of ridicule- and if they aren’t laughing at you for your desperate attempts, maybe your friends are part of the problem.

 

  • Try HardThis is similar as the last one, but it refers to men who are overly desperate, not for sex, but for the attention of other men. Try-hards are the kind of guy who will laugh loudly at jokes that you tell that aren’t very funny, act like everything you say is a work of art, and constantly self deprecate around you because they think it will make them likable.It doesn’t.

    No one likes a try-hard, because it is a display of feelings of inferiority. You don’t have to be a narcissist to be confident and have good self image. Cultivate this through spending time with strong, intelligent and capable people, embracing physical culture through fitness and strength training, martial arts, increasing your standing at work or in business and so on. But never by sucking up and exhibiting that hated characteristic of “please like me.”

  • Bragging/One UppingMy mom always used to quote, “let another’s lips praise thee,” when we were kids, and I took it to heart. I even get kind of uncomfortable when other people do it. Bragging and excessive showboating is sure to earn the ire of your peers, simply because they will get tired of your mouth, unless your bragging is seriously salted with humor.Even worse than this is the “one-upper,” who always has done just one more than whatever you did. You benched 315? He just did 320. No, “his phone deleted the video, bro. But it was solid.” You hooked up with a good looking girl the other night? He “totally snagged a ten, dude. Yeah, no, she wasn’t from here, and totally had to leave town, but damn, you should’ve seen her.”

    Let your achievements speak for themselves. Spend your time praising other’s achievements that you think are inspiring or meaningful- if what you do is awesome enough, there will be enough people praising you that you can give it a rest.

It is important to recognize these “respect killers” and work towards the respect of men you like, who are in your peer group, because this is one of the key elements of honor, the bedrock of any strong in-group.

Honor is a currency that can only be attained through actions that bring strength and increased reputation to your gang or crew, and through the adherence to that gang’s code of conduct. Sometimes this is written down somewhere in black and white, but often it is an unseen understanding between members of “respect.” Pay attention to the details, cultivate it, and value it higher than gold. Because unlike money- this currency, once lost, can sometimes never be regained.

Each month, we put out free content in the form of “War Journal” articles, videos, posts and more.
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Death and Loss: Creating the Tribal Cult of the Dead

Yesterday morning as I walked into my home gym area, I noticed that something was out of place. A wooden plaque, carved for me many years ago by my friend, that has made many journeys with me, lay there on the floor- quite a ways from where it should have been hanging across the room on the wall.

Picking it up, I turned it over in my hands, as I had done a hundred times before, and read its hand-painted face.

“Whereupon a river of everything-ness and nothing-ness flowed forth from my skull
bathing me in Pain and Wonder.
The screaming of silent songs unto a pale, morose, celestial orb:
Tide of time and way of world. :ALU ALU ALU:
Rending and ascension of mournful mind,
weighted heavily by bitter thoughts- signs to darkness and flesh.”

The whole piece is shot through with symbols and bindrunes, and refers to a shared experience the two of us had years ago, one I will never forget. The friend who made this gift for me died January 7th, 2016. I had known him since he was 15, and watched him grow up around the Wolves, prospect, patch in to our organization.

His death had a hard impact on all of my friends- we all had known him for a long time, and loved him very much. Seeing a young man who all considered to be a brother, as close as blood, die- life unrealized, full of potential that would never be made manifest, is a difficult thing.

He had done so much, but there was so much more undone.

A select few of us were allowed to view the body, to say words to him, and place a few items with him for his cremation. That day, and those moments are burned into my brain forever. The way his body looked, so unlike him, solemn, something not quite “right” about the way he was positioned.

I shed a lot of tears with my brothers that day, and exchanged stories, and stayed at the wake to play his favorite songs on the guitar for his mom and dad, and extended family.

At the wake. January 2016. At the wake. January 2016.

Some time later, we threw a show in his memory at Ulfheim, the Appalachian Wolves’ tribal property. His father attended, drank with us, and gave us ash and bone from the cremation to place inside a stone cairn at the foot of our altar- a piece of our little brother there, where he liked to be the most.

My brother Coyote and I began a tradition, to go down there in the dark when we spend time at the land together- we take down a drink for Njal, or some smoke, and we sit together and tell stories and play songs that he loved, and converse with him, because we know that in some way, he is there.

Easing sorrow with songs.    Easing sorrow with songs.

During one of these conversations, with my brothers Hjalti, Galdr, and Coyote, we discussed death, loss, grief and tradition within our tribe. Njal is the first of the Wolves to die in our time as a tribe, but we know there will be more.

The feeling of loss is sharp, and the grief at first is overwhelming. For the first few weeks after he died, there was a feeling of such unbelievable sorrow that had settled over the tribe, it was hard to see moving past it.

Slowly, as stories were told, toasts made at our ritual drinking rounds in his honor, and traditions began to spring up around his death, we could see that organically, the way we dealt with death and loss was making itself ritualized, and becoming part of the greater expression of tribal life. His name became a thing that meant something more than it did in life, and in many ways, his death had brought the brotherhood together closer than it was before.

Through this painful experience, the group of men who went through it together were different than they had been. We have laughed and cried together telling stories, and we imagine our brother there with us still, painted in the ritual ash, walking with his strange, crooked-footed walk, his big, larger than life presence there at the edge of the firelight.

The grief is now a “sweet sorrow,” softened by time, but despite the modern admonition, we have not “let go.” We choose to believe he is there with us- that he followed the silver sun placed in his coffin back home, so that he can sing those songs in the woods with us, and be spoken of as something more than a man. Through death, my brother has become an ideal, a concept of togetherness and shared pain, and fellowship so strong that it often hurts.

I paraphrase my brother Galdr, saying that, Valhalla and immortality are just a man’s greatest stories being told by the voices of his sons and brothers after his death.

Tribes like ours, and yours, who are reading this, owe it to their brothers to make a better thing of a man’s death than the modern world- tearful men and women around an expensive casket as it is lowered into the earth. Hushed voices at a wake, and a few stories over the years.

The cult of the dead should be alive in our tribes, vital and strong- because our friends, our brothers, fathers and sons will die. When they do, what will we make of them? Corpses in the earth, or legends? We should light the fires for them each year on the anniversary of their death, and sing their songs, tell their stories, laugh and cry for their passing- celebrate them as gone beyond a mere life and become a tribal hero, eternal.

What should the hero cult look like, when it honors those who have died? What will your rituals and traditions be surrounding these concepts? How will you ensure that these names live forever?

What better place to die than within a cult who holds the dead as living among them?

What better way to live than to make certain there are more stories about your life than can be easily be told?

Hail the dead, who have lived a life worth telling of.

-PW 92

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Jealousy and Envy

Here’s a friendly heads up and a reminder for all of you reading this right now who are taking no prisoners on your way to living a strength-filled life of purpose:

When you start to get stronger, more successful, wealthier, healthier, or better in any way- there is a certain type of individual who can’t stand it.

Any positive change you make, there is going to be someone who hates you for it. These people are ruled by resentment, jealousy and anger. Their life is driven by a feeling inadequacy, so their ego creates an external enemy in order to insulate them from the truth:

their only real enemy is THEM.

When they see someone doing more than they are, it creates a venom-release within them. This bile rises up and they spew their vitriolic poison anywhere they can do so, as long as they can do it safely and anonymously.

These people have many terms attributed to them- you’ve all seen them, right?

Internet warriors, keyboard cowboys. Trolls.

What they really are, though, truly, at their core- are cowards. Failures.

These are people who have not been able to succeed on their own at whatever it is they wanted to do in life, whoever they wanted to be, down in those places they were too embarrassed tell anyone about, and too pathetic to go out and achieve: Leaders. Ladies men. Charismatic. Wealthy. Successful. Muscular.

They couldn’t become this, because they are their own worst enemies. They couldn’t get it together enough to make it happen, for whatever reason. Lack of willpower, dedication, or intelligence.

They see others receiving praise that they want for themselves. Others leading people that they wished they could have led. Giving up habits that they never had the strength or determination to give up. Putting in sweat equity to look and feel the way they can only imagine. Making the money they desperately wish they had- and the venom rises, and they lash out.

With words.

They use the weakest possible formats available to them. Safe, anonymous, protected places in order to work their weak will from behind a mask against those who wear no such protection against the world, because they do not require it.

Their arguments against strength are always the same, and make their resentment transparent every time. If you are muscular and fit, they will call you vain, or vapid. If you are charismatic, they will call you a conman. If you are financially successful, they will call you greedy and unscrupulous. They will more than likely not use terms like this- their reckless anger and feelings of inferiority manifest in drooling, wild condemnations, and long, rambling outlines of all ways they feel you live life wrong.

Somehow they imagine that their petty words and verbal stone-throwing will result in some kind of change. They imagine that you, like them, are a coward, and that you will be swayed by their poorly spelled rhetoric. They think that those who support you will see their evidence, and come over to their side of things.

In reality, they don’t believe any of these things, truly. They know that their words are hollow. They know that no matter what they do, they cannot stop your meteoric rise to meeting challenge and overcoming it. Those who must crawl will always despise those with wings- this knowing of their own impotence is the very thing that makes them hate you so much in the first place.

You have, and are doing, everything they want to have and do. So they will hate.

If you find yourself falling into this trap of envy and jealousy and resentment, take a moment and consider:

Would you be better served by being jealous of someone with an enviable life, or viewing them as a teacher and yourself as a student who could be learning? Every successful person’s rise to where they are now can be seen as a puzzle, a narrative to untangle in order to see the patterns and steps that they took to get where they are now.

When I spend time with someone who has more success in the gym than I do, or has a business plan that I admire, or is a high level martial artist- it doesn’t evoke resentment from me. It evokes respect. Admiration. It makes me want to emulate whatever character trait they possessed or unlocked within themselves in order to be more like them in the ways that I wish I was.

I have taken to using the phrase “None Ascend Alone.” What I mean by this is that somewhere along the way, all of us modeled ourselves after someone else that we admired, or took advice from someone smarter than we were, or emulated an individual who had already achieved what we were looking for. Success and achievement does not happen in a vacuum, and within Operation Werewolf, I believe it is fostered through challenge and networking with people who are accomplished and live lives worthy of emulation.

Strong people admire and emulate, until they are admired and emulated.

Cowards resent, sabotage, and ultimately- fail.

View every day as an opportunity to learn, to improve, to succeed. Against the reckless hatred of lesser men, your success is the boiling oil poured down on their heads, from the high walls of the castle that is your utter indifference to their very existence.

Always remember: I’m pulling for you.

-P.W. XCII

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The Golden Mean

Written for Operation Werewolf by Joshua Buckley

The Golden Mean

From Stoic philosophers like Epictetus to the Nordic wisdom-tradition embodied by the Hávamál, moderation has always been regarded as one of the pre-eminent virtues. This is also one of the main strands informing the modern American political tradition, as the talking heads never tire of reminding us. In U. S. elections, or so the popular narrative goes, the deciding votes will be cast by the “moderates,” while any form of “extremism” is to be avoided at all costs. The one exception seems to be the marketing industry, where everything apparently keeps getting more extreme, from extreme snack chips to extreme laundry detergents, to lite beer for people who engage in extreme sports like rollerblading and “freestyle scootering.” (Somehow, these activities are more extreme than conventional sports like football or boxing, where men routinely suffer traumatic brain injuries and are occasionally killed.)

Now it shouldn’t be surprising that the people in power like the idea of the political moderate, and are quick to condemn anything that might be construed as just a tad too far left or right of center. Their job security—and possibly their lives—depend on the idea that we will continue to be satisfied with the choices that they give us, and won’t get any uppity ideas about blowing up government buildings or murdering politicians Hamas-style. If you were part of the Establishment, I’m sure you’d feel the same way.

Moderation is also an ideal that many people try to live by in their personal lives, but this can be harder to achieve than one might expect. Recently, an overweight acquaintance told me about his efforts to lose weight while mindlessly nursing a soda. I gently suggested that drinking carbonated sugar-water might be part of his problem. On the contrary, he informed me, he’d reduced his soda consumption down to just a few cans per day, rather than drinking the stuff continuously like he had done since he was a kid. So, in effect, he was being moderate. This is like someone who prides himself on watching only a few hours of television at a time, since the average American adult watches almost forty hours each week (while simultaneously drinking Big Gulps, no doubt). By comparison, it’s a moderate amount of viewing. But if you contrast this with someone living in a traditional society, or to our ancestors—who managed to thrive in a completely unplugged and off-line world—it’s a staggering amount of wasted time. And wasted time = wasted life.

There are similar problems with trying to be politically moderate, since the goal-posts of political acceptability keep moving around, and anyone can find themselves “on the wrong side of history” in a matter of a few years or even weeks. Just a decade ago, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton opposed gay marriage, supporting some type of legally-recognized “domestic partnership” as an alternative. At the time, this seemed like a moderate position. Gay couples would get most of the legal benefits of traditional marriage, without violating what religious conservatives view as the sanctity of the institution. Today, anyone who opposes gay marriage for any reason will be shunned and ostracized from polite society. They will be branded an “extremist,” and, if they belong to a club or other civic organization that espouses similar views, they might even find themselves placed on a “Hate Map.” What might seem politically moderate today, could make you a Nazi tomorrow.

However, my point is not to argue against the idea that practicing moderation has value. As I mentioned at the outset, this is an idea with venerable roots, even if its true meaning has been obscured over time. The problem is that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that is “moderate” about the modern world. It’s a comforting delusion to tell ourselves that “things have always been this way.” They haven’t. Modernity is unique. Much of this is attributable to the technological upheaval which began with the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century (or maybe even with the advent of agriculture, if you follow the anarcho-primitivist line of thinking espoused by men like John Zerzan), and has built upon itself exponentially ever since. This has radically changed every aspect of human life, from the way we eat, to the way we work, to the way we interact with one another. Cultural theorists like Jean Baudrillard and Paul Virilio have written extensively on how technology has colonized our capacities to think and imagine, and has re-shaped almost every facet of how we see and understand our world. Our ancestors may have faced more uncertainty about their health, or where their next meal was coming from. But they could be certain about one thing: that in its fundamental outlines, the life they were passing on to their children would be very much like the lives they had led themselves. For us, this is not the case. Somebody somewhere once made the point that we have less in common today with someone who lived a hundred years ago, than someone a hundred years ago had with someone who lived a thousand years before them. This “generation gap” is widening all the time, to the point where it might now more accurately be described as a generational chasm.

Moderation is conventionally defined as something like the median option between two extremes. But in the modern world, which is characterized by its hyper-extremity, what can this even mean? Is there a “moderate” position on replacing human beings with machines, or the complete extinction of the natural world, or the global displacement of human populations, or the erasure of every meaningful distinction of gender, and culture, and ethnicity?

We can still cultivate the virtue of moderation, but only if we take a long historical view. In practical terms, this means that we must become traditionalists. We don’t have to ride around in buggies like the Amish, or grow ZZ Top beards like the Taliban. Nor does being a traditionalist necessarily imply a fascination with folk costumes, or fiddle music, or growing your own food, or drinking mead (although these are all good things). For me, being a traditionalist means trying to think about things the way our ancestors did for thousands uponthousands of years, before the aberrant historical disruption that is modernity. Just as proponents of the Paleo Diet will tell you that our bodies have evolved to eat a certain way, it’s perfectly reasonable to believe that our minds have evolved to think a certain way. And just as the modern diet creates men whose bodies are fat and flabby and weak, the modern way of thinking produces men with psyches similarly malformed. To be moderate in the modern world means that we must ignore the opinions and passing fancies of our contemporaries, and should look instead to the accumulated wisdom of the past. This is the only way to determine what “normal” really looks like. Edmund Burke described this traditional way of thinking—which represents true moderation—as “the democracy of the dead.”

Of course, none of this will gain you any friends among the living. Modernity is both a phenomenon and an ideology, and it brooks no dissent. Ironically, the man who tries to live according to principles which would have been considered timeless in any other historical epoch, may well find himself labelled an extremist by the standards (such as they are) of today. In the modern world, the wise man may appear as a thought criminal, the warrior will be branded an outlaw, and the shaman-priest will be counted among the mentally ill. Remember this when they chastise you for not being “moderate”—according to the terms that modernity itself has dictated. In the eyes of our ancestors, we are the moderate ones. It is everyone else who has gone insane.