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In Death, I Become

by Paul Waggener

I heard a joke the other week while sitting on the mats after jiu jitsu practice.

“Blue belts are the black belts of quitting.”

For those who don’t practice the so-called “gentle art,” (a misnomer if I’ve ever heard one), I’ll explain.

It takes between 6 months and a couple years for most people to attain their blue belt in jiu jitsu, a benchmark that essentially means you’re not a “newbie” anymore.

The blue belt, while certainly a solid accomplishment, often seems like much more than it is in the white belt’s mind, and once he finally gets it after hundreds of hours on the mats, he often succumbs to the feeling of “getting what he came for,” and ultimately, his spirit falters when he realizes how much further the road actually goes.

He quits.

This phenomenon is not limited to the grappling arts alone, but can be seen in many different areas of human endeavor. The beginner works so hard to reach the first milestone, and he builds it up so high in his mind, he forgets that what he was after was the finish line.

Upon reaching the first marker of this long and arduous journey, much more difficult, time consuming, and heartbreaking than he ever thought it would be when he set out, he experiences premature gratification. He lost sight of the end goal, and put all his attention on this infinitely more modest achievement, to the point that the end goal is something he no longer feels he needs to reach.

This is the sweet and intoxicating poison drunk by cowards and self-deceivers.

Over the course of thirteen-plus years in a tribal organization, or what some might call a “club,” I have witnessed this behavior countless times during the process of hangaround, prospecting, and “patching in.”

A definition of terms:

For our crew, the Wolves, individuals desirous of a high level of commitment that may ultimately lead to full membership must undergo a long and rigorous screening process. The ladder-style phases of initiation were borrowed from other outsider groups, mostly an amalgamation of esoteric orders of the past and motorcycle clubs.

First, the individual starts spending face time with us. This can come about in a variety of different ways, possibly by training with us, attending events, or getting invited to other hangouts. For most, this is where the process will both begin and end, as the harsh and highly specific weeding out process developed over more than a decade of tightly knit friendship amongst insiders acts as a filter that allows only the most “righteous” individuals to pass through.

These so-called “hangarounds” have no real obligation to the organization itself, but show their quality in a variety of different ways, mostly through time spent with us, and an obvious, but unspoken desire to move past the “outsider” classification.

After a period of time, which can be brief or incredibly lengthy depending on the person in question, he may be asked to prospect for our group.

A prospect dedicates his life to proving himself worthy of being “patched in.” He is on call at all times, and the requirements on his lifestyle, how he carries himself, what he reads, how he trains, how he will act in general, are specific and highly demanding. This prospecting phase will last for no less than a year and a day, and sometimes much longer- a unanimous vote from all members across the nation is the barrier in his way.

Because of this, he is expected to travel great distances often, undergo trials and ordeals, with swift and usually permanent repercussions for failing to live up to his stated goals.

At some point during this crucible, he will either be subject to a “no vote,” at which time his prospecting phase comes to a sudden end and his chances of becoming a full member are dashed forever, or he will be “voted in,” and a date will be set for him to take the Oath of the Wolves, a binding ritual that ties an individual’s fate together with us forever.

This process can be so long and rigorous, that once the individual in question attains his “patch,” he can succumb to the same blue belt mentality mentioned before, feeling that he has “arrived,” and is finished with his extensive testing, and can rest.

This false summit is dangerous, and often results in the individual being strongly head checked, or, in more extreme cases, losing what he has worked so hard to accomplish.

It is critical that at all times and in all places, we understand that the only true summit is death. The final peak on the mountain of our lifetime of accomplishments does not come at some point while we draw breath and are able to go further.

Our struggle is not forever, but it is for a lifetime.

During our lives, we will reach many of these false summits, and think to ourselves,

“I am here. I have attained what I sought. I can now rest.”

Sometimes, the deception is even more subtle, and we will say,

“I have done so much already. I have conquered so many lands. All I need to do now is maintain a steady and easy course.”

It is not now, and will never be enough to just show up for life. It is not enough to simply not quit.

When we cease to set new goals, to reach one summit and look for one higher, we have surrendered to that great destroyer called complacency, and our glory will swiftly fade into nothing, our names and legends will flicker out like an untended fire at midnight.

We do not become who we are during this life by saying, “good enough.”

We fight the good fight for our entire life, until our last breath is drawn raggedly from our lungs, and at the end of an existence lived for greatness, we say “In Death, I Become.”

Stay the course.
Never surrender.
I’m pulling for you.


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The Camel, the Lion and the Child

by Paul Waggener

Nietzsche said once, “he who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

I have always loved these words, and they have inspired me to keep the steel in my spine, the frost in my blood, or just “hold it together” at various low points in my own “how.”

By clinging to what I saw as my “why,” my greater purpose, my holy mission, I was able to view the various degradations of poverty, injury, betrayal, and so on, as stumbling blocks placed in my way as a test of some kind. By persevering through them, I progressed toward my ultimate goal and grew stronger as a result.

Much harder than dealing with these “hows,” though, are losses of “why.” True dark nights of the soul shake our “whys” to the foundations, and leave us questioning whether our purpose really is what we have perceived it to be, or if there is any point to life at all.

These are the dying times.

The moments where our lives seem to exist on the edge of a razor- everything is precarious, slipping, threatening to fall out of the balance and into the abyss of obscurity, despair, and blackness.

What have we been working for, or toward?
Does anything matter?
Do our lives here have any meaning beyond that which we arbitrarily attribute to them?

These existential crises during which existence itself is often the crisis- the sheer weight of going on, of moving forward, seems crushing, hopeless, and, ultimately, utterly pointless.

Those who have experienced the loss of their why will know exactly what I refer to here when I say that at these crossroads, the horizon appears as vast, cold, and grey as the relentless Pacific. Wave after wave of lassitude and lethargy crashing upon an empty shore.

This is the ultimate struggle of the man who lives a self-examined life- in endlessly searching for the great truth, he will at times come face to face with the horrific possibility that there is, in fact, none to be found. The state of emptiness, of isolation and cosmic solitude that this can produce is staggering, and for many, leads to a surrender to passive nihilism.

Possessed with the futility and dread that the examination of their lives has stirred up in them, they submit to the idea that because they are experiencing this futility and dread, that it is TRUTH with a capital T. It exists everywhere, for everyone, at all times- nothing is sacred, nothing is true, nothing is worthwhile or meaningful.

This passive nihilism is, in fact, a product of rampant ego. Those overcome by it think that because their beliefs have been shattered with the hammer of experience, of “reality,” that this means ALL belief is likewise shattered.

Instead of summoning up a manly approach to what is destroyed, and seeking to rebuild with new material, their entire existence becomes a metaphorical crying over spilled milk.

As Nietzsche suggests, in his “Will to Power,” the only answer for these dark days is to look within, as well as to continue exerting the will without, and to be reminded that our true purpose, our great meaning, does not exist as some golden edict, dictated to us from an alien intelligence without.

It is created by us, on the forge of existence itself.

He says: “The nihilistic question “for what?” is rooted in the old habit of supposing that the goal must be put up, given, demanded from outside – by some superhuman authority.”

These crisis periods are what make us. They remind us that we shape our own lives. We are the hammer and the anvil, and the material upon it. We cannot look to the universe to provide us with our answers- we must be men! We must find beauty in the rawness of life, in its brutality and in its emptiness.

From stone, we must create sculpture and fortress. 
From steel, we bring forth sword and suspension bridge, or we destroy them.
From sorrow, we must distill a song that resonates within our hearts of victory over it.

In “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” Nietzsche says that man will go through three metamorphoses- from the Camel, to the Lion, and finally, the Child.

As a camel, we must seek out the heaviest of experiences, the hardest of truths, the most crushing weights in existence- we make of ourselves a beast of burden, because we see this as the truest way to connect to the deeper veracities of being. We walk alone with them, out into the wilderness, into the great desert of the unknown, bearing these awful cargoes to sustain our journey.

“What is difficult? asks the spirit that would bear much, and kneels down like a camel wanting to be well loaded. What is most difficult, O heroes, asks the spirit that would bear much, that I may take it upon myself and exult in my strength?”

Somewhere along the way, we will either lay down and die with our burdens, or we will assimilate them into ourselves, and cast some away, and we will transform into the lion.

We will stake our claim to territories vast and savage, and with ferocity and roaring, thunder our challenge to the world. As the lion, we make war on everything that threatens us, or provokes our wrath, or encroaches on the borders of our domain.

Our worldview is completely our own- and it brooks no adversaries. We have become alienated, strangers from the world, and the enemies of man.

This is the point during which we began this piece- the Lion is in this state of existential crisis that he must overcome. He is faced with the possibility that there is no great truth, or meaning in life, save that which he can give to himself in an act of supreme self-creation.

“Here the spirit becomes a lion who would conquer his freedom and be master in his own desert. Here he seeks out his last master: he wants to fight him and his last god; for ultimate victory he wants to fight with the great dragon.

Who is the great dragon whom the spirit will no longer call lord and god?

“Thou shalt” is the name of the great dragon. But the spirit of the lion says, “I will.”
“Thou shalt” lies in his way, sparkling like gold, an animal covered with scales; and on every scale shines a golden “thou shalt.”

My brothers, why is there a need in the spirit for the lion? Why is not the beast of burden, which renounces and is reverent, enough? To create new values—that even the lion cannot do; but the creation of freedom for oneself for new creation—that is within the power of the lion.

The creation of freedom for oneself and a sacred “No” even to duty—for that, my brothers, the lion is needed. To assume the right to new values—that is the most terrifying assumption for a reverent spirit that would bear much.”

As the Lion, we take our destiny into our own hands, and we destroy the false god of external rulership- the lies and plastic virtues of the modern world.

We become our own men only when we begin to create, and to see life by our own set of values.

To become the Child- a man must obliterate all rules, and create his own game.

“But say, my brothers, what can the child do that even the lion could not do? Why must the preying lion still become a child?

The child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a self-propelled wheel, a first movement, a sacred “Yes.” For the game of creation, my brothers, a sacred “Yes” is needed: the spirit now wills his own will, and he who had been lost to the world now conquers his own world.”

Rather than seeing territories and battlefields, he sees a playing board.
Rather than opposition and enemies, he sees characters.
Rather than misery and suffering, he creates his world in the way that he sees fit, and plays within his own game, understanding that the key to life is in the act of creation itself.

He is free.
He is wild.
He is playing the greatest game of all- a man, within the wonder of shapeable existence.
Go and do likewise.

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The Eternal Return

This piece was originally spoken by me to my tribe, the Wolves, celebrating our Summer Solstice ritual in 2008. I believe it is more true than ever, and that the words are equally applicable to the strong men and women of Operation Werewolf around the world. -PW

Baldr’s dreams are foreboding ones.

They see a bloody end to all things.

A destructive force leveled at the world of gods and men, an unstoppable entropic ruin.
The fiery burning of all green places and the dissolution of life everywhere.

He forsees his own death, and this feeling of doom remains with him as he wakes.

Steps are taken by his loving mother to protect him from anything and everything that might assail him.

Like any mother she wants only the safety and security of her child, but nothing can stop the cycle of renewal, and that renewal can only come through death, decay and rebirth.

This is the core truth of our tribal belief: the eternal return- that being, becoming, passing away and new birth that sustains and ultimately destroys every living thing.

Baldr’s dreams come to him not only at the end of a personal life cycle, but at the end of an age. His death is significant because it means not just his own demise, but heralds the final breath of an era.

We too, are living in a season of demise. The world around us is crumbling, not only socially, but literally. The green things on the earth are being withered by the flames of Surt’s children. Industry, greed, reckless power and excess.

The branches of the world tree tremble.
We sit at the cusp of destruction, waiting for the Fall.

Like the twilight of the gods, our time here is crucial.

We are anomaly and anathema to the dying world around us- our way is completely opposed to the rest of modern society and makes us a tribe unto ourselves.

All those who hear this ancient call are relegated by the world out there to the shadows at the edge of the firelight.

The rune poem for FEHU says “the wolf grows up in the woods.”
This is our place, then, away from the wretched entanglement of modern hatred, the great expanses of the industrial waste, the spiritual wilderness that pervades the hearts and minds of this world.

All this hopelessness finds remedy in the mysterious passage in Baldr’s Dreams describing Odin, Baldr’s father, approaching the funeral pyre and whispering unknown words in the ear of the corpse as it lays silently awaiting the flames.

The final war occurs, the gods are destroyed, the earth is burned.
The world tree crackles with fire- 

but it survives.
Its heart remains evergreen, and uncorrupted.

Within its sheltering boughs, a seed springs forth to renew mankind- the land rises from the sea and supports new life.

Baldr returns as the lord of the gods, coming back from the dark and dreaded Halls of Hel to once more take his place on the high seat. The man and woman Lif and Lifthrasir represent that which is best in humanity, the unkillable root of our people.

As we live our lives here, at the end of an age, and the ruinous fires sweep the face of this earth, it is more important than ever that we keep these old roots alive, the unshakeable truths and bonds of faith, friendship and family- because that is what is best of humanity.

Our tribal ways value love over all.

Savage, fierce and willful love for our brothers and sisters, our families, our own ferociously independent way of life.

These are the things that will stand forever against the onslaught of time and destruction.

Like Baldr, we must each of us live forever as symbols and touchstones for our people.

Take mastery over your life, and be that symbol, a living representation of these things we value most, what is best in us, and live it without faltering.

From the gods we worship, to our tribe, to our valued friends- though oaths bind the Wolves together, we first had to find each other in this burning world of shadow and poison.

Once found, we recognized kindred spirits and we held onto those things that brought us together like a priceless treasure. 

With no irony or insincerity, we swore under black skies to be family forever.

Families quarrel, families fight, and families disagree- but they are family, and a man’s back is bare without his brother. When the fire comes, the one without a tribe will burn alone, instead of facing his death shoulder to shoulder with a worthy comrade.

May our bonds grow stronger.
May friends become family.
May we stand strong together in the face of everything this world can put against us.

We hail Baldr, and the eternal return of the sun.

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Minimalist Training

I received many questions last week from young guys who wanted to know how they should be training to achieve their fitness goals. Mostly they had a lot of questions on programs, diets, methods, and so on, and used a lot of fancy words or phrases that I was largely unfamiliar with. 

Here is my answer to all of you in regards to what style of training or programming or eating I think is best:


It’s so easy to get pulled in by new gimmicks, training fads, diets, and so on.

Every time you turn around, people are repositioning old methods as new “systems.”

Example: TUT or “Time Under Tension” training used to just be called slow, controlled reps.
Intermittent fasting used to just be called “not eating all the time.”

Butterfly pull-ups used to be called “having a seizure.”

Paleo, gluten-free, keto, whatever.

All are probably fine and have their place (don’t get too triggered here, keto guys!) just don’t get caught up in the hype.

Keep it simple, stupid.

Unless you are training specifically for competitive bodybuilding, the following rules hold true, eternally:

Use barbells for sure, dumbbells and kettlebells if you want, machines sparingly or not at all.

If you are spending more time with chains and bands and gadgets than you are under the bar, putting in smooth, quality repetitions with an intelligently (but simply) programmed regimen, it may be time to ask yourself the important question- what am I training for?

This is a completely reasonable question and usually has a simple answer, if folks are being honest. It will usually be one of four, or a combination thereof, with some emphasis on one or the other:

I am training to be stronger.

I am training to be healthier.

I am training to look good. This also holds true for those who want to look more intimidating, or a harder target, or whatever. Training for aesthetic is not “unmanly.” All animals posture, especially aggressive ones, and anyone who says they don’t train with a certain amount of this as their reasoning is probably a liar.

I am training because I enjoy it.

The last should always hold true, but so often, people start to get caught up in ways that they think they *should* train, or what some “movement coach” is telling them, rather than the ways they actually want to train. Then, training becomes some kind of chore in which technical movements are performed for their own sake, and the sheer pleasure and raw, furious joy that should accompany moving heavy weight is lost in a shuffle of numbers, equations, and boring details.

Push weight, not pencils.

If you are lifting to get stronger, to make progress, to maintain discipline, and to grow thick, gnarly muscles- stay minimal in your approach, and maximal in your effort and discipline and consistency.

Squat, press, deadlift and row. If I could only do four things in the gym forever, these would be it for me, and during my 8 months on the west coast, this is basically all I did (especially if you count weighted chins as a kind of vertical row).

I ate for strength, which means I ate big meals, usually 4 or so a day, that were pretty high in protein and fat, and tried to keep my carbohydrates for after my meal, so I wouldn’t eat as many. If I started getting a little fat, I would eat one less meal a day and do a little more moving around. Walking, pushing or pulling a sled, working the heavy bag, whatever.

My numbers were not phenomenal, but I was pretty strong, with a 415 squat, 505 deadlift, 365 bench and 205 overhead at between 185 and 190 pounds bodyweight most days.

My body fat was never so high that I couldn’t see shoulder and arm vascularity and at least the top set of abs, which is, I think, a reasonable level to maintain even if you are “permabulking,” which I find is usually just something fat guys with no discipline and poverty lifts call “eating like a human garbage can because I can’t stop myself.”

A lot of guys get so worried about the details that they lose the essence of the Riddle of Steel.

Train hard. Lift heavy. Eat well and often. Get good sleep. Be consistent.

If you are training solely to build muscle and get strong, these are your watchwords.

Don’t make it harder than it already is, and remember: 

Strength is the least egalitarian thing there is. It’s something that you don’t deserve to have, and cannot have, unless you do.

You have to put in the time and work for it, and it demands sacrifices.

No one can have it handed to them, which is why we find it so beautiful, so worthwhile, and so brutally honest.



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by Paul Waggener

“I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.”

These words open the film “The Departed,” one of my favorite Scorsese movies, spoken by the character Frank Costello, an Irish mob boss.

The words resonated with me strongly when I first heard them, and have stuck with me for years. I felt like this was the perfect delivery of a truth I had always believed and held as one of the major principles of self-creation.

If we are living lives of mythic action, our every word and deed becomes a spell of creation or destruction- shaping the malleable fabric of the world around us, changing our environment to reflect where our will is applied, and how. Gandhi famously said “be the change you want to see in the world,” a statement often seen on Pinterest styled bumper stickers on soccer mom’s vans, or bright eyed hipster idealists’ rusted beaters. Cliche, but only because almost all statements of basic truth seem that way through overuse and under-application.

In order to “be this change,” one must apply consistent, consonant pressure in the direction he wants to see that change. By consonant, a word I use often, I mean that it has to “make sense together.” Like notes in a music scale, or a well done painting, your actions must find congruence in order to become as effective as possible.

Consider it: what is a more sound strategy in war? Focused, tactical strikes at high-yield targets that eliminate them with brutal efficiency, or random squads sent out in all directions to take potshots into the trees, hoping they hit something?

In order for our lives to achieve this consonance, we must begin to view our life as a whole- as an artist looks at a canvas, or a sculptor his block of stone. From here, we should consider our lives as a work of art in motion, and shape it in a way that has a narrative, a direction- many elements working together in a flow toward some kind of completion. The idea of goals, and plotting the steps toward these goals is certainly one way to achieve this, but on a more visceral level, attaining consonance is done through aesthetic.

The word’s definition is given as “a set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement.”

This view of aesthetic permeates the entirety of a life, and when we think of individuals who typify certain concepts or ideals, we are thinking of them as archetypes, or paragons of a certain aesthetic. Their lives have become “a line of poetry, written with a splash of blood.”

Choosing an aesthetic is a crucial element of building your own legend, the framework within which you will operate, the filter through which you will see the world around you, and the body with which you will interact with that world.

The highest principle of humankind is to create.

It is the way in which we imitate the gods, and emulate the impulse they experienced when they created us in the myriad mythologies of humanity, spread across the aeons.

So many human beings sleepwalk through life, unaware or not stopping to consider and develop these ideas into something that can make their life more than what it is- a sweeping saga of their principles and ideals writ large on the stones of human history.

No one wants to be forgotten, although we are all likely damned to that same grim fate- but we have the choice to attempt the mythic, the timeless, to strive for higher things, even if our outcome is sealed.

In Norse mythology, the gods walk to their final battle aware of the outcome, but choosing to perform the duty for its own sake. That, as Spengler said, is what it means to be a thoroughbred.

To achieve aesthetic and consonance in our lives, we must begin by choosing one to embody.
In writing, they often tell you to fake a voice, or use someone else’s until you find your own, and the same holds true here.

This is why the stories of the many gods and legends of our various peoples exist- to give us archetypes, not simply to revere, but to emulate- to actually spend each day attempting to become them with everything that this implies.

There is so much strength in this practice: losing one’s temper, or making a poor dietary choice becomes so much more removed, or seems so much lesser to us when we are waking each day and choosing to embody a legendary archetype, a specific aesthetic.

We begin to view our lives as “a set of principles,” rather than a random collection of meaningless actions. The environment around us too, should be considered. If we are building ourselves into a monolith of ideals that guide us as sure as a compass point, how can we apply this creative impulse elsewhere?

Obviously, we can do this through a host of actions, such as honing the crafts of writing, engineering, art, music, carpentry, but we can also begin to reinforce  our aesthetic in our immediate surroundings by bringing first our physical form into agreement with our stated aims.

When one considers Achilles, Thor, Hanuman- he does not think of a couch-locked, skinny-fat form, atrophied through years of poor diet and sedentary living. Our emphasis on the ideas of physical training and healthy lifestyle come from many positive principles, but this is their quintessential one:

We cannot emulate the gods in a neglected body.

Beyond our bodies, our domiciles and places of work or training- how can we better bring them into alignment with this aesthetic we have chosen, in order to increase a harmonious interaction between increasing areas of our life?

One can begin to see this architecture grow and expand, as we can no longer neglect our immediate surroundings, but must cultivate them like a garden of the soul. Our dwelling-places and studies, our gyms and our work areas are where we spend many of our waking hours.

Why should they not become temples to the Work, visual reminders of who and what we are seeking to become?

This practice becomes the weave of our own developing mythology as our strength grows, our practice becomes ritualized, our ritual becomes bedrock- the transformations within transform what is without, and ever widening ripples emanate outward from the core of our being into the material world, penetrating and transmuting raw elements and material. This is how men become symbols, what I have called “lliving runes,” and from there can aspire to pass into legend.

Every action is a lesser or greater degree of one that came before it.

If we can change ourselves, we can change the world.

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Woke up this morning hurting.

A physical pain, sure- sprained fingers from 7 hours of jiu-jitsu in the last two days. The inside of my mouth torn up from my crooked and chipped teeth gouging tender areas as I got choked over and over by higher belts on the mat.

Ear is thick, filled with fluid again, cauliflower ear setting in worse. My right foot, exploded years back in a motorcycle crash and never surgically repaired, gets swollen after lots of time on it, little stress fractures that have me limping like an old man at 33.

I could go on- there’s been a lot of savage miles put on this frame from a life lived without much thought given to the future, or “leaving some in the tank.”

But it’s not all the physical stuff that’s the real bitch- today, like many others, it’s a spiritual pain.

An existential one.

As I looked at myself in the mirror this morning, I realized how tired I was. How washed out. A bone-deep exhaustion brought on by stress, uncertainties, friendship disintegration, loss of loved ones, shattered expectations, knives in the back, and every other low and dirty trick that life often throws in the path.

When you’re young and you’re suffering, people will always tell you “it gets better.”

Like so many other things that adults tell youth, this is total bullshit. It never gets better, or easier- in fact, it gets more difficult, more complex, more deeply cutting.

You just have a choice to get harder along with it, and tougher, so that you can deal with what existence has to offer, or you become someone that life broke to pieces. A crippled casualty, traumatized and left to bleed.

It’s been a long year, and easily the most difficult of my life in every area- but this article is not about complaining.

It’s about understanding the choice that you are presented with every morning, every day, every hour, every moment. The choice is: keep moving, or sit down and quit.

No matter who you are, whether hard-case or housewife, life is tough.

You’re not special. Everyone is suffering everywhere, all in their own way.

You can face your suffering as a victim or a victor, and really, like everything else, it all comes down to the mindset you choose. 

If today is kicking you in the ribs with steel toed boots, I am going to do my best to give you a quick roadmap through it. Not because I know you, or necessarily care about your problems (see step 1), but because somewhere deep down, no matter how many disappointments life throws my way, I am an idealist.

I want to help people. I want them to prove me wrong when I am at my most cynical and misanthropic. I want to believe that people change, and improve, instead of just being revealed for what they are.

Mostly, I am going to offer a helping hand, because at my lowest moments, like today, I wish someone would do it for me- and I find that in doing it for someone else, I do it for myself as well. So here goes, with fire and fury.

First- No one wants to hear about your problems- realizing this is step one on the road to changing your mindset during the hard times.

Complaining doesn’t help, nobody gives a shit, and you’re on your own. Even if that’s not totally true, and you’ve got good people around you, you should still live by it, because those who don’t often burden the people around them make for better friends.

That sounds harsh, but we could use a little more “stiff upper lip,” and a little less “embarrass yourself with daily emotional displays” in this day and age.

Second- just like days when you don’t want to go to the gym, or go train, or fix your kids lunch in the morning, or whatever it is: those are the days you most need to. 

If you don’t, life becomes a series of excuses not to do your duty, instead of a series of challenges overcome. And, even if you can’t squeeze anything more out of it, a life spent living up to your duty as a man, a son, a brother, a wife, or a parent is a pretty good way to cross the finish line.

Third- Don’t spend too much time thinking.

On days like these, the more time spent in contemplation of the roadblocks, the failures, the grey waste that stretches out on the horizon, the more likely you are to succumb to despair or enervation.

Even if you feel like sitting down and dying, stand up and fight.

Do not offer yourself up as a willing victim, or surrender when life itself rises up against you!

Hit the gym like it owes you money, run until you’re ragged, plan a murder or start a new religion. Throw yourself into a task- any task, until the blackness subsides and you are in control again.

Fourth- realign yourself with the stars.

By this, I mean remind yourself of who you are and where you’re going.

If all seems lost, look to the heavens and remember what your North Star is: who you are at the core, what it is you are seeking to be an archetype of.

Yourself, sigilized, and burning like a supernova on your way to glory and immortal legend.

Fuck faith, and hope, and fear- be filled with your own fire, your own purpose, and if you cannot find one, just create one, out of nothing, and hold it in your hand like a weapon.
This is who you are now, and have always been, and who you must continue to be, forever, amen.

Don’t surrender, don’t give up, don’t quit.


“O men! Do not be afraid. Do not retreat. Perform sacrifices.
Let those who perform sacrifices prosper.
May truth, passion, and darkness make you complete.”


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From White to Blue.

I’ve never written about jiu jitsu before. 

Mainly, this is because I didn’t want to be the brand new guy running his mouth about stuff. Some white belt pontificating about jiu jitsu is about as valuable as a guy who can’t put up two plates telling you how to bench.

I didn’t know when I started that in order to “put in the time,” to earn my blue belt and feel like I could finally write an article about some of my experiences with grappling would take me the better part of three years, but that’s how it goes.

Ironically, I started training because of an injury, in November of 2015, thinking that jiu jitsu would be a little easier on my body than lifting weights, which is hilarious to think about now. There are people who tell you that jiu jitsu is good for you- I think these people are looking for memberships, because every high level guy I’ve trained with has had the same grim message for me: jiu jitsu, if you’re training hard, will break your body down and especially over 30, you pretty much feel injured or hurt all the time.

To be fair, I had done a little it of grappling years before, in a D.I.Y. gym myself and some friends had, where my brother Matthias and my good friend Chad walked us through some of the basics of Gracie Jiu Jitsu from online courses and VHS tapes they had. I didn’t progress much then, and couldn’t have told you a Darce from an Anaconda, but one important thing did happen: I used jiu jitsu in a street fight.

Making a somewhat long story short, a fight broke out at a party I was at, that might have been started when someone interrupted the Danzig I was listening to on the stereo with some inferior music, and an argument turned into a brawl. It didn’t take much to get me swinging back then.

The guy I was fighting was a good bit bigger than me, I think I only weighed around 145 at the time, and things got dicey when I realized he was a pretty good scrapper- I wound up on the bottom, with him in full mount, raining down punches from a solid and stable top position.

My training came to me- I put my knee in his back and shoved up, hard. He went forward, up toward my head, momentarily destabilized. I wrapped one arm around his back, grabbed his tricep in a strong grip, trapped his foot on that same side with mine, and bridged my hips up, rolling him neatly over, passing his non-existent “guard,” and dropped short elbows and strikes on him until I was satisfied he’d had a bad night.

I had been in a good number of fights in my life, but I finally experienced first-hand the value of jiu jitsu in one. No matter what the detractors say, jiu jitsu is a game of positional and limb control, and has been incredibly valuable in many of the situations I’ve found myself in since. Multiple attackers, armed opponents, whatever. I’ve either experienced or seen allies utilize this art to great effect, and am more than convinced of its “street” application.

Our DIY dojo training didn’t last long, maybe 6 months or so, but it planted the seeds that I’d come back to years later.

I returned to jiu jitsu, as mentioned, due to an injury keeping me out of the weight room, but my decision really happened a few weeks before that, standing around a fire. All the guys I was hanging out with lifted pretty seriously, and some good natured shit-talking turned into some relatively good natured grappling.

Not many of them knew what they were doing, and the matches were sort of wrestling chaos with no real ending, since no one really knew how to throw any submissions. One guy who was there had done some training, maybe a year of BJJ, and just dismantled everybody, all these big lifters, in a few minutes each. All their muscle didn’t count for anything.

I knew this all along, but the situation reminded me how unimportant muscle is, by itself, out in the world. It’s great to be strong, and being strong makes you better at pretty much everything, but if it exists in a vacuum, not informing anything else, you’re just the guy people ask to move heavy stuff. Unless you compete and do well at it, you’re a standard gym rat, who can impress your 3 loyal Instagram followers with your mediocre lifting numbers.

Don’t get me wrong. I am one of those guys, and love lifting weights, but that night I kind of shook my head and thought, “that’s it. I’m getting back on the mats.” It’s not enough to be strong by itself- I want to be able to use that strength, combine it with a technique and use the two to make me more dangerous where and when it matters.

I feel the same about guys who train with firearms or something, but refuse to lift weights or do conditioning. You’ve seen them- hundreds of dollars in “tacticool” gear, thousands in gun mods and all that, but have a hard time getting in and out of their car. They can stop ISIS, but not if the conflict happens at the top of a long set of stairs. 

It’s not enough to be decent at the one thing- we should strive to be more well-rounded. Besides, not being able to fight or hold your own in one makes you a liability and a burden to your friends or honor group.

When I got back on the mats, nothing of that brief 6 months of training had stuck with me except knowing a basic idea of each position, and maybe a choke or two. I was the classic “strong” white belt- way too aggressive, probably irritating the hell out of the blue belts, relying purely on strength until I gassed out early and got choked. As I started to settle down and actually learn, these are some of the things that came to me through the 2+ years I spent as a white belt (I say 2 years, because I spent a consecutive 8 months off from training before coming back to it a few months ago.)

Some are things I wish I’d done more of, or things I wish I hadn’t done, and others are just little realizations that I had on the way, or stuff I wish someone had told me during that time. I hope they help or entertain some of you who may be on your own journey through the savage world of grappling.

Don’t Rush. This is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. You are going to spend a lot of time training, so don’t feel like you have to retain everything and “get to the finish line.” Relax, pay attention, and show up.

Compete More- this is something I definitely regret with my time as a white belt, and plan to fix in the blue belt stage. “Life” was always happening, weekends too busy, or I was hurt, or it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do, or some other reason. There’s a thousand reasons not to compete, but everyone I have talked to has said that when they are competing, their jiu jitsu improves at a greatly increased rate. More is at stake.

Calm Down! You’ll hear this one a lot during white belt. A lot. Take it to heart, because you really won’t start to improve much as a white belt until you can relax, breathe, and notice what’s happening. I started chewing gum every practice, and I chew it when I roll, because it keeps me conscious of my breathing, and keeps my mouth closed a lot, so I have to breathe more slowly and stay relaxed to not choke on it. Straining too hard, always muscling everything, and going all-out every roll is a dumb and obnoxious way to train. Focus on moving more fluidly and keeping your muscles loose until you need them. This is the hardest part of the first 6 months or so.

Make A List. Have a goal with your training, and achieve it by making a list of things you need to be working on or drilling more. At first, just make a list of all the techniques your school expects out of you during the white belt to blue belt process. These should be your priority- not that you can’t be open to learning all kinds of other things, too, but the moves on this list should be the ones you are looking to really get a feel for during this time. It will give you some focus and make you feel less like drowning in a vast ocean of information, which for me was important at the beginning.

Move of the Week. Allow yourself some fun with a “move of the week” from YouTube or wherever. Try to hit it during all your rolls, if possible, and if you haven’t quite gotten it down, make it a move of the month. This keeps things enjoyable and gives you sort of a game to play as you improve.

Tap Early- it’s one thing to try to survive a little longer because you are drilling an escape and want to make it work. It’s another to stubbornly hang on to your pride while getting arm barred or key locked and get hurt. Everyone taps, a lot. Don’t be that guy. Just tap.

Dont Brag. One of the worst guys in the gym is the low belt level who is always bragging about who he tapped. Did he consider that the higher belt level was more than likely “playing” with him, giving up positions, putting himself in bad situations in order to work, and if he had wanted to, could’ve just smashed him? There is no way to look like more of an asshole on the mats than this, except maybe…

Dont Coach. There’s coaches there for a reason, and if you’re a white belt, they know more than you. Don’t coach other people, or try to show them how to do stuff while you’re at class. You will probably show them the wrong way anyhow, and you should be at class to learn and keep your mouth shut- there’s no issue helping another white belt you’re working with through the drill, but don’t take roll time to show your ass by attempting to instruct.

Do Gi and No Gi- before my first competition, I had spent 6 months doing only training in the gi. After losing 4 matches by a few points each, with no danger of having been submitted in any of them, I realized that playing a slow game in the gi had made me a bit ineffective and less aggressive than I needed to be in competitions. I started training no-gi the following week and made a lot of improvements in my movement, speed, scrambles and so on, and now I train no-gi and gi every week.

The Best Number of Days a Week is How Many You’ll Do. Don’t agonize over how many days a week you think you should train. Start with what you know you can do, and go from there. If you can make it for sure 2 days a week, start with that and add one in once you’ve proven you can maintain two. My sweet spot to still lift and not feel totally train wrecked is 3 or 4 classes a week and maybe one extra roll, but everyone’s different. Some guys go more or less.

Shut Up And Train- Don’t Ask too Many Questions. Chances are, you probably don’t even know what question you’re trying to ask, and if you just keep training, all will be revealed. It’s fine to ask for clarification on a technique you’re drilling, but I have so often heard white belts ask questions in class, seemingly just to ask a damn question. Nothing is more frustrating when you’re trying to get your reps in than some guy in class who wants to hear his own voice slowing down training by asking questions he’d know the answer to if he just kept working.

Worry More About Establishing and Maintaining Position Than Submission. Everyone wants the tap, but at low level, I found it was better to worry about establishing and holding dominant position calmly, then work for the sub, than to get carried way looking for a sub and getting swept, rolled or passed.

Make it a Priority. I fucked around a lot at various times during white belt, or things got more important. When I was in Oregon, it was a 2 hour drive to the nearest studio, and other things had taken priority at the time. I think about it now, and if I had made the sacrifice for two days a week during my time there, I would be 8 months better at jiu jitsu. It’s too early in the game to call it, but I don’t ever want to take that long off again. If you decide to start training, take it seriously, train hard, and endure through the hard parts- and it’s all the hard part.

Realize that a Blue Belt is nothing. Lastly, its important to remember that the drop-out rate in jiu jitsu is really high, especially at blue belt belt, because so many people get so worked up about earning their blue belt that once they get it, they feel like they got what they came for. It’s a black belt you’re after, not a blue one! In the grand scheme, a blue belt is such a small accomplishment- be proud of it once you earn it, but realize that it represents such a small part of the sacrifice and journey to something much bigger. Don’t get a big head, or feel like you’ve “made it.” It’s a recognition simply that you’re not flailing around aimlessly on the mats (as much) anymore. Act accordingly.

Take everything I’ve said here with a grain of salt- I’m just a blue belt. I’m pleased to have made it this far, but I know it’s just the end of the very beginning- and I have a feeling things keep feeling that way. 

Good luck, and stay on the mats.


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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


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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.


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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!