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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An Esoteric Commentary on the Volsung Saga, Part XII:
Sigurd’s First Initiation into Runelore

Sigurd and the dwarf Regin forge a sword, from the portal of the stave church of Hylestad, Setesdal, Norway c. 1200.

3,469 words

Part I here, Part XI here

In our last installment, we saw how Queen Hjordis, pregnant with Sigurd, is taken in by King Alf, son of King Hjalprek of Denmark. Before his death, Sigmund had prophesied that his son “will become the greatest and most famous of our family.” Sigmund also entrusts to Hjordis the fragments of his sword, broken by Odin. “Take good care also of my sword’s fragments,” Sigmund tells her. “A good sword can be made from them, which will be called Gram, and our son will carry that sword and do many great things with it which will never be forgotten. Read more …

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An Esoteric Commentary on the Volsung Saga, Part XI:
Concerning Queen Hjordis and King Alf

Johannes Gehrts, Sigmund’s Sword (1889)

2,334 words

Part I here, Part X here, Part XII here

After many twists and turns in the story of the Volsungs, Sigurd, the greatest of them all, is about to burst onto the scene.

In our last installment, we saw Sigmund taking a second wife, the beautiful Hjordis, daughter of King Eylimi. But another man desires her, and is enraged when her marriage to Sigmund takes place. Read more …

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Nineteen Eighty-Four Revisited, Part III:
What Orwell Can Still Teach Us

Soviet propaganda poster from 1931 telling the workers that the 5-year plan can be completed in 4 years with enough enthusiasm.

3,175 words

Part 1 here, Part 2 here

4. Doublethink

Among the many useful concepts bequeathed to us by Orwell, “doublethink” tops the list. It is a priceless tool for understanding how “normies” function within the repressive, PC societies of the West. The novel offers us two separate discussions of doublethink, which complement each other. The first occurs early in the story, and is the most famous passage dealing with the term:

Read more …

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Nineteen Eighty-Four Revisited, Part II:
What Orwell Can Still Teach Us

2,995 words

Part 2 (Part 1 here, Part 3 here)

3. The Denial of Reality and the Control of Language

Read more …

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Nineteen Eighty-Four Revisited, Part II:
What Orwell Can Still Teach Us

6,674 words

Part 1 (Part 2 here)

1. Introduction

Everyone thinks he knows what’s in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Is there really anything left to say? It’s as if George Orwell’s masterpiece has been sucked dry. At least, that’s what I thought until I recently reread it, for the first time in over thirty years. Read more …

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An Esoteric Commentary on the Volsung Saga, Part X:
The Deaths of Sinfjotli & Sigmund

2,519 words

Part I here, Part IX here, Part XI here

Chapter 10. The Death of Sinfjotli

In our last two installments, we explored the fascinating digression – the “saga within the saga” – that is the story of Helgi. Read more …

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What is the Metaphysics of the Right?

5,486 words

In my essay “What is the Metaphysics of the Left?” I identified the fundamental presuppositions underlying the Leftist worldview. In the present essay, I intend to build on that analysis by showing how it can enable us, with relative ease, to identify our own metaphysics, the metaphysics of the Right. In short, my approach is indirect: I intend to arrive at our own most fundamental presuppositions by, in essence, negating the metaphysics we reject and revile. Read more …

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What is the Metaphysics of the Left? Part Two

The face of today’s Left

4,645 words

Part 2 of 2 (Part 1 here)

2. A Will to Nothingness: The Essence of Leftist Metaphysics

We are now in a position to step back from these observations and draw some general conclusions about the metaphysics of Leftist ideology. I trust the reader understands, however, that I am identifying the metaphysics that underlies Leftist ideology. Read more …

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What is the Metaphysics of the Left? Part One

3,629 words

Part 1 of 2 (Part 2 here)

Metaphysics is the science of what is real. It is the most fundamental branch of philosophy; other philosophical ideas are derived from or based upon metaphysical convictions. For example, the Epicurean principle that pleasure is the highest good follows from its materialism and rejection of belief in an afterlife. However, it is also possible to speak of metaphysics outside of the context of philosophical systems. Read more …

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And Then They Came for Ricardo Duchesne

3,102 words

Several years ago, I published a mammoth review essay on Ricardo Duchesne’s The Uniqueness of Western Civilization. I regard it as one of the most interesting and important books I have ever read. Duchesne is a valiant defender of Western civilization against the madness of politically correct academics – and now, it seems, he may be paying the price. Read more …

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Helgi: The Return of the Dead
An Esoteric Commentary on the Volsung Saga, Part IX

Ernest Wallcousins, Helgi Returns to Valhalla

5,344 words

Part I here, Part VIII here, Part X here

In our last installment, we explored the career of the legendary Norse hero Helgi. Chapter Nine of the Volsung Saga is devoted to Helgi, and it constitutes a rich and entertaining digression from the main story. At one time, Helgi must have been a very important hero. The anonymous author of the Volsung Saga draws on two poems concerning Helgi compiled in the Poetic Edda: Helgakvitha Hundingsbana I (The First Poem of Helgi, Killer of Hunding; henceforth HH I), and Helgakvitha Hundingsbana II (or HH II). Read more …

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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, Part IX 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 8. 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 3. 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 2. 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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