Author Archives: Collin Cleary

Collin Cleary

Collin Cleary, Ph.D. is an independent scholar living in Sandpoint, Idaho. He is the author of Summoning the Gods: Essays on Paganism in a God-Forsaken World (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2011). He is one of the founders of TYR: Myth—Culture—Tradition, the first volume of which he co-edited. He is a Master in the Rune-Gild. His essays have appeared in TYR and Rûna.
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Helgi: The Saga Within the Saga
An Esoteric Commentary on the Volsung Saga, Part VIII

Arthur Rackham, The Valkyrie

3,502 words

Part I here, Part VII here

In our last installment, we saw Sigmund and Sinfjotli (the product of Sigmund’s incestuous union with his sister, Signy) return to the ancestral lands of the Volsungs. Many years have passed since the entire clan left there, and, in the meantime, a pretender has claimed the Volsung kingdom. But Sigmund and Sinfjotli drive him out, and Sigmund becomes a great and powerful king, “both wise and well-advised.”[1] He decides to marry a woman named Borghild, and they have two sons together, Helgi and Hamund.

Read more …

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Edred Thorsson’s History of the Rune-Gild

2,835 words

Edred Thorsson
History of the Rune-Gild: The Reawakening of the Gild 1980-2018
North Augusta, S.C.: Arcana Europa, 2019

Edred Thorsson is one of a small handful of serious characters I am proud to know. To many, he appears to be an odd combination of “contradictions” (though these are only apparent, as I will explain at the tail end of this essay). First, he is a goði and Runemaster who speaks Old Norse with a Texas twang. Read more …

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What Does It Mean to be True to the Aesir?

Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, “Aesir Gathered Around the Body of Baldr” (1817)

3,153 words

“Ásatrú” is a modern coinage meaning “true to the Aesir.” In Old Norse, Aesir is the plural of áss, which is usually translated “god.” In order to understand what it means to be “true to the Aesir,” we must put into question this translation into “god” and “gods.” Indeed, ultimately we must liberate ourselves from the idea of “god” in order to understand who the Aesir are, and our relationship to them. Read more …

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Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind, Part Two

Jonathan Haidt

4,946 words

Part 2 of 2; part 1 here

Jonathan Haidt
The Righteous Mind: How Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion
New York: Pantheon Books, 2012

In Part One of this review I discussed Jonathan Haidt’s argument that morality has evolved in response to a number of “adaptive challenges.” Read more …

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Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind, Part One

4,101 words

Part 1 of 2

Jonathan Haidt
The Righteous Mind: How Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion
New York: Pantheon Books, 2012

Jonathan Haidt is a former liberal who is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Read more …

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An Esoteric Commentary on the Volsung Saga, Part VII

2,900 words

Part I here, Part VIII here

Chapter Eight. The Vengeance of the Volsungs, Continued

In the last installment of this series, we learned of the life Sigmund leads in the forest with his son Sinfjotli – the product of Sigmund’s incestuous union with his sister, Signy. Read more …

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Born-Again Paganism:
Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring

4,866 words

The Criterion Collection’s recent release of a comprehensive Blu-ray collection of the cinema of Ingmar Bergman is an opportunity to re-assess the work of this greatest of Nordic filmmakers. Those who seen little of his work (or none at all) usually have the impression that Bergman’s oeuvre is dark and gloomy, filled with existential angst over the “death of God.” Read more …

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Christmas at Counter-Currents
Some Thoughts on Yule

3,342 words

Yule is the midwinter festival celebrated by my ancestors and by Germanic neo-pagans today. Midwinter is a time when much of nature seems to die or to depart. The trees are stripped of their leaves. The birds abandon us, flying off to warmer climes. Bears, badgers, chipmunks, and squirrels hibernate. Water freezes over. The earth is covered in ice and snow, so that nothing can grow. The air is so chilled that when we are out in it for too long, death becomes something tangible, and we rush inside.  Read more …

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The Problem of Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle

4,752 words

It would be no exaggeration to say that Eckhart Tolle is now the most popular “spiritual teacher” in the United States – and possibly the world. The New York Times and The Watkins Review have declared as such. And he has been heavily promoted by Oprah Winfrey. The actor Jim Carrey is also a big fan. Normally, this would be enough for me to completely dismiss someone, but in this case I cannot. Read more …

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An Esoteric Commentary on the Volsung Saga, Part VI

2,829 words

Part I here, Part II here, Part III here, Part IV here, Part V here, Part VII here

Chapter 8. The Vengeance of the Volsungs

In the last installment of this series, we told of the birth of the hero Sinfjotli, product of the incest of the twins Sigmund and Signy. Read more …

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An Esoteric Commentary on the Volsung Saga, Part V

Sigmund & the wolf.

2,559 words

Part I here, Part II here, Part III here, Part IV here, Part VI here

In our last installment, we saw that after Sigmund pulls the sword from the tree Barnstokk, Siggeir (who has just married Sigmund’s sister, Signy) offers to buy it from him. When Sigmund refuses, Siggeir immediately begins plotting revenge. On a pretext, he takes Signy and leaves the wedding feast early, inviting Volsung and his ten sons to visit him in Götaland. Read more …

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An Esoteric Commentary on the Volsung Saga, Part IV

Willy Pogany, Sigmund & the Wolf (1920)

3,220 words

Part I here, Part II here, Part III here, Part V here

In our last installment, we saw how King Volsung marries his daughter Signy off to the loathsome King Siggeir of Götaland, a man she “was not eager to marry.” Read more …

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An Esoteric Commentary on the Volsung Saga, Part III

Siegmund the Walsung, Arthur Rackham, 1910.

1,890 words

Part I here, Part II here, Part IV here

Chapter Three: The Marriage of Siggeir to Signy, Volsung’s Daughter

In our last installment, we met Volsung (“stallion phallus”), who becomes a great King and sires eleven children: the twin brother and sister Sigmund and Signy, and nine brothers (who go unnamed). Volsung builds a “magnificent hall” around an immense apple tree whose branches weave about the beams of the roof. Read more …

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An Esoteric Commentary on the Volsung Saga, Part II

Arthur Rackham, Siegfried’s Death (1924), from his illustrations for Wagner’s Ring

3,283 words

Part I here, Part III here

Chapter Two: Concerning Rerir and His Son Volsung

In the previous chapter, we saw that Sigi, the son of Odin, is the first step in the god’s master plan: the creation of a new race of super-warriors, who will come to be known as the clan of the Volsungs. In order to become a truly great warrior, Sigi must transgress man’s laws and remove himself from society – entering the wilderness where he will live as his own master and create a world of his own. Read more …

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An Esoteric Commentary on the Volsung Saga, Part I

A carving depicting Sigurd sucking the dragon’s blood off his thumb, from a stave church in Setesdal, Norway.

4,517 words

Part II here

The purpose of this essay is to offer an account of the hidden meaning of the Volsung Saga (Völsunga saga). In drawing out this meaning, I will approach the saga from a Traditionalist standpoint, broadly speaking; i.e., from the standpoint of Guénon and Evola. I will touch on some details concerning the relation of the saga to other sources, but I do not aim to provide anything like the sort of account a historian or philologist might give. Read more …

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How to Know if You Have Had a Mystical Experience

Hildegard von Bingen’s “finger of God”

4,074 words

Most people believe they have never had a mystical experience. This includes sceptics, of course – but also those who are quite open to the idea and who wonder, perhaps, why they have never been graced with one. However, the conclusions of both groups are usually based on misconceptions about what a mystical experience must be like. People imagine, for instance, that it involves visions of some kind, in which, perhaps, voices are heard or supernatural beings appear. Read more …

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Introduction to Vedanta, Part IV
The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

An illustration of the Mandala-brahmana Upanishad, in which the god Narayana, a form of Vishnu, teaches yoga to Yajnavalkya.

3,744 words

Part I here, Part II here, Part III here

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is quite long, and we can only scratch the surface here. In truth, even the shortest of the Upanishads could justify a long commentary. The texts of Vedanta are a whole, each of the parts of which reflects the whole in miniature. In other words, within each text one may find the whole teaching. This does not mean, of course, that the whole teaching is explicitly stated. Rather, one will find that to truly understand the full significance of any one statement in the Upanishads, we must situate it within the context of the entire teaching.

“Brihadaranyaka” means “of the great forest.” Aranyaka means “of the forest” or “of the wilderness.” The Aranyakas are understood to be a type of ancient Hindu literature, along with the Samhitas, the Brahmanas, and the Upanishads. Read more …

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Introduction to Vedanta, Part III
The Katha Upanishad, Continued

Lord Yama instructs Nachiketa, as related in the Katha Upanishad.

4,644 words

Part I here, Part II here, Part IV here

In the last installment of this series, we saw that the Katha Upanishad tells the story of Nachiketa, a boy who is tutored by Yama, the god of death. The boy makes a request of Yama, which at first the god does not want to grant: “When a person dies, there arises this doubt: ‘he still exists,’ say some, ‘he does not’ say others. I want you to teach me the truth.” But Yama soon realizes that Nachiketa is a worthy student, and begins to teach. Read more …

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Introduction to Vedanta, Part II
The Katha Upanishad

Yama, the Vedic god of death

4,058 words

Part I here, Part III here, Part IV here

The Katha Upanishad tells the story of a boy named Nachiketa whose father, Vajasravasa, decides to curry the favor of the gods by giving away his possessions. However, it seems that he was rather selective in what he gave up, only parting with things that were now useless to him. Nachiketa, who is quite pious, sees through his father’s insincerity: “What merit is there,” the boy asks, “in giving away cows that are too old to give milk?” This question, from a mere child, wounds Vajasravasa’s pride. Foolishly, Nachiketa persists: “To whom will you offer me?” he asks. Vajasravasa ignores the question at first, but when Nachiketa repeats it his father answers angrily, “To death I give you!”  Read more …

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Introduction to Vedanta, Part I
The Isha Upanishad

Lord Vishnu as Vishvarupa, illustrating the three realms: heaven (head to belly), earth (groin), and underworld (legs). Painting c. 1800-50, Jaipur.

2,774 words

Part II here, Part III here, Part IV here

In this series of self-contained essays, I will offer an introduction to Vedanta, the philosophy of the Upanishads, through brief commentaries on individual Upanishads. These essays are geared toward individuals drawn to the path of Traditionalism – and especially the Left-Hand Path of Evolian Traditionalism.They place Vedanta in the context of Tradition. Further, they make clear the relevance of this path for those of us who are not just in revolt against the modern world, but who wish to live the ideal of “self-overcoming” –  an ideal for all ages. Read more …

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Evola’s Nietzschean Ethics:
A Code of Conduct for the Higher Man in Kali Yuga

5,808 words

The subtitle of the English translation of Julius Evola’s Ride the Tiger (Cavalcare la Tigre) promises that it offers “A Survival Manual for the Aristocrats of the Soul.”[1] As a result, one comes to the work with the expectation that it will constitute a kind of “self-help book” for Traditionalists, for “men against time.” Read more …

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Ancestral Being, Part Four

Siegfried & Mime, Arthur Rackham, 1911

2,325 words

Part 4 of 4 (Part 1 here; Part 2 here; Part 3 here)

7. Concluding Reflections

I turn now to some thoughts on how the foregoing treatment of the influence of the past on the present ought to affect our own present, when we finish this essay and return to the real world.

It is a well-known fact that our ancestors acted with awareness of membership in the clan: trying to be worthy of their own ancestors, and not to disgrace them. Read more …

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Ancestral Being, Part Three

Rupert Sheldrake

3,409 words

Part 3 of 4 (Part 1 here; Part 2 here; Part 4 here)

6. The Presence of the Past: A View from the Margins of Science

Some of the above remarks might suggest that we should interpret the Germanic hamingjafylgja teaching as a mythic, symbolic, or even superstitious way of understanding the phenomenon of inheritance – something our ancestors relied upon because they did not have the modern science of genetics. Read more …

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Ancestral Being, Part Two

The Norns by Johannes Gehrts, 1889

4,547 words

Part 2 of 4 (Part 1 here; Part 3 here; Part 4 here)

4. Tradition

Having now discussed the clannic being of the individual purely in philosophical terms, I now turn to a consideration of the treatment of this idea in the Germanic tradition.

The first thing we must note is what can be called the “primacy of the past” in that tradition. Read more …

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Ancestral Being, Part One

4,538 words

Part 1 of 4 (Part 2 here; Part 3 here; Part 4 here)

1. Introduction

This essay presents an “ontology of the individual.” The theory is new, though it has very old roots. “Ontology” is the branch of philosophy that studies being-as-such, or “being as being,” as Aristotle expressed it.[1] My argument is that the being of an individual person is bound up with that individual’s relation to his family or clan. Read more …

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Some Thoughts on Yule

StonehengeSunset3,344 words

Yule is the midwinter festival celebrated by my ancestors and by Germanic neo-pagans today. Midwinter is a time when much of nature seems to die or to depart. The trees are stripped of their leaves. The birds abandon us, flying off to warmer climes. Bears, badgers, chipmunks, and squirrels hibernate. Water freezes over. The earth is covered in ice and snow, so that nothing can grow. The air is so chilled that when we are out in it for too long, death becomes something tangible, and we rush inside.  Read more …

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What is Odinism?, Part IV:
Odinism as an Esoteric Path

5,637 words

Editor’s Note:

This is part four of a four-part essay that first appeared in Tyr: Myth, Culture, Tradition, vol. 4.

Read more …

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What is Odinism?, Part III:
The Odinic & the Faustian

3,131 words

Editor’s Note:

This is part three of a four-part essay that first appeared in Tyr: Myth, Culture, Tradition, vol. 4.

Let us return to the story of Mímir’s Well, and Odin’s sacrifice of an eye. What does this loss signify? As Wagner recognized, it means that while Odin gains wisdom, he also becomes half blind.[1] On a literal level, this is obvious. Read more …

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What is Odinism?, Part II:
The Allfather

1,919 words

Editor’s Note:

This is part two of a four-part essay that first appeared in Tyr: Myth, Culture, Tradition, vol. 4.

The idea that the Odinist must strive not just to become Odin but to surpass him – to seek to realize an ideal of perfect knowledge and supremacy – is obviously a very provocative one. Read more …

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What is Odinism?, Part I:
Odin the Philosopher

1,965 words

Editor’s Note:

This is part one of a four-part essay that first appeared in Tyr: Myth, Culture, Tradition, vol. 4.

This essay is dedicated to Edred Thorsson.

Edred Thorsson has stated that Odinism[1] is not the path of one who worships Odin, but who strives to become him: Read more …

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