The Anima of Disintegration

“Titanic forces war within us. A war waged by the blood against the intellect, between the influences of the industrial fallen world in which we live, and the primeval, fecund, blood drenched swamps that we remember in our dreams and in the shadows of the woods at night.”

From Ramon Elani

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“Life is never a thing of continuous bliss. There is no paradise. Fight and laugh and feel bitter and feel bliss: and fight again. Fight, fight. That is life.”

—D.H. Lawrence

The birth of the modern world brought with it the death of the old gods and their ways. As D.H. Lawrence wrote “it was in 1915 the old world ended.” When the factories came, when the machines arose, when history became the demon that had once haunted our groves and forests. The ethos of the modern age placed humanity at the center of the cosmos. They promised a world of endless human perfection, a world without suffering, a world were engineering could so arrange society that the demons would be driven out. But, as we know, the demons will always find other homes. Now we see what these promises have come to. A world of ash, a world of endless ruination. Inseparable from the acts of enclosure, from the mechanization of human life, came the prohibition against violence. Modernity and the techno-industrial society that it created, teaches us that violence is a thing to be abhorred, resisted, renounced, abandoned The Christ-worshippers and their other desert dwelling brethren of the crescent moon and the temple and the lamp teach us this. The servants of capital and industry persuade us to repudiate violence so that we might not be tempted to turn it against them. The ghosts and bones speak: we would rather die than live mechanically. There is truth in blood. Not in the blood of this tribe or that nation. But the pumping, wild, vital blood of the animal that still lives within us. There was a time when we listened to the lessons of the blood, before the spirit of the modern age told us to fear that voice. The spirits still dwell among the blood, in the world of instinct, of wildness. The spirits that modernity sought to quell. For my blood is of the ocean, and the ocean is of my blood. It is in blood and vitality that humanity discovers its true being. Modernity has taken the cosmos from us and replaced it with a lie. A grotesque lie, made of factory chimneys and machines. We would rather die than live mechanically! The techno-industrial world denies the blood and denies its expression in violence. As we shall see, there are few voices that argue more compellingly in defense of the truth of the blood and against the tragedy of the modern age than D.H. Lawrence.

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Though Lawrence had no direct contact with Sigmund Freud, the ideas of the unconscious and the subconscious run deeply through Lawrence’s oeuvre. The key point to make in this regard, however, is that Lawrence instinctively rejected Freud’s conclusion that pre-modern or pre-civilized humanity was nothing more than a horrific riot of bloodshed. Clearly there was blood and suffering but there was also a deeper connection to the mystical essence of humanity and to the cosmos as well. And the eradication of the primal violence of the pre-modern era also brought with it the derangement of the cosmos, the annihilation of the natural world, and the alienation of humanity. While Freud is terrified of primal humanity and sees it as a force that must be imprisoned, to protect humanity from itself, Lawrence finds the darkness to be fertile and ripe with meaning and beauty. In the words of Ursula Brangwen, heroine of both The Rainbow and Women in Love, “You are a lurking, blood-sniffing creature with eyes peering out of the jungle darkness, snuffing for your desires.” For all our veneer of civilization and rationality, we are still bloody beasts haunting the dark forests. And this is why modern humanity fears the forest. We know that among the shadowy trees and the uncanny light of the moon, we will find our true selves. Not only is there a truth in acknowledging the essential, primal, bloody nature of humanity but further, there is a greater beauty in it than the fictions of modernity and the humanists.

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For Lawrence, like Carl Jung, the unconscious is not merely the basement prison where our complexes and repressed memories ferment and mutate, as it is for Freud. Lawrence saw in the unconscious a burial mound, a haunted relic from pre-modern times where a world invigorated by blood still lived and breathed. The forces of industrialism and modernity sought to keep these ancient memories suppressed and thus deprive life of its true meaning: violent, bloody, life-affirming struggle. Lawrence was disgusted by Freud’s fear of primal humanity: “The psychoanalysts show the greatest fear of all, of the innermost primeval place in man, where God is, if he is anywhere.” For Lawrence, who had strong inhumanist tendencies, it was not clear that divinity still resided within humanity at all but if it did, if even a spark of the world soul still flickered in our hearts, it could only be in the depths, where we still lived as dark primordial beings, monstrous and bloody and alive.

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The soul of the pre-modern world is unapologetically violent. Blood ran freely and the people were possessed by blood. But the lived and they lived in the lap of the gods. They saw them, felt them in the roar of ritual and the darkness of oak groves. As we see everyday around us, humanity is dying. Its vitality denied. Its blood denied. Like a tree uprooted, humanity is torn from its intuitive life. Modern consciousness displaces instinct. We are taught to fear the body, for it is the source of wickedness. How telling that as modernity seeks to dispel the old gods, the same repressive impulse is given free reign by the stories of the Christ-worshippers. Thus modernity and Christianity go hand in hand. They work together to deny the body and its blood. To eradicate the world of nature, which cannot be conquered so easily by technics. Both fill our heads with stories of a world to come, in which all struggle will disappear. Humanity will live in peace, in harmony, as one. Whether this is told via the worship of Christ the Redeemer or Technology the Redeemer, the message is the same. The demons in our heart enter the world through the body and the blood. To keep them at bay, to suffocate them, we must deny our nature. Forget the body, it is the source of pain and misery. Deny the body until someday, the priests of technology promise, we may be able to do without them altogether.

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The only path for humanity that leads away from the waking nightmare of industrialism is to successively dive deeper and deeper within our psyches to rediscover the true self, the self forged in bloodshed, and animated by passion. As modernity evolved and expanded, this true self was buried beneath the lies of a benign, passive cosmos and a docile human nature. Industrialism taught us that the world could be controlled and that what was best for humanity should be our only concern. Thus the truth of blood became hidden from us. For Lawrence, our only hope is to swim through the oceans of the unconscious and to arrive again on the mysterious shores, thick with fierce life, where we abandoned ourselves. The intellect, the tool of industrialism, the demon of modernity, denies this true essence and pushes it down. In fact, the intellect seeks to persuade us that it never existed at all. The intellect, which speaks in the language of control teaches us to fear and disregard the things that overwhelm us, the forces that resist control. Thus violence is, above all, abhorred by the intellect. Violence appears as an irrational power. It seizes us in the language that only blood can understand. Everything that we have not chosen, everything that is above and beyond us is anathema to the intellect. And therefore, the intellect cannot help us understand the most profound experiences of life for truly, who can say that when they were consumed by the living heart of the world that the rational, conscious mind gave them words to express the wisdom that was bestowed upon them.

Lawrence dedicated his life to discovering the power that lead to greater wisdom than the bland, tasteless fruits of the intellect and the conscious mind. The power that could shatter the bitterness of the industrial world and its crimes against the earth. In a letter dated 1913, Lawrence writes:

My great religion is a belief in the blood, the flesh as being wiser than the intellect. We can go wrong in our minds. But what our blood feels and believes and says, is always true. The intellect is only a bit and a bridle. What do I care about knowledge. All I want is to answer to my blood, direct, without fribbling intervention of mind, or moral, or what-not.

The inhumanist, who boldly asserts the limits of the human view of the world and the weakness and fragility of our species before the might of the cosmos, knows too that morality is nothing more than a trick of the mind. The blood pays no attention to these inventions that are not reflected in the universe beyond ourselves. Throughout his career, Lawrence sought to refine this view. He maintained that there was a seat of higher wisdom and greater self-knowledge than the mind. The blood contains its own consciousness, for Lawrence, separate from the rational faculties of the mind. In 1919, Lawrence writes:

the blood has a perfect but untranslatable consciousness of its own, a consciousness of weight, of rich, down-pouring motion, of powerful self-positivity. In the blood we have our strongest self-knowledge, our most powerful dark conscience. The ancients said the heart was the seat of understanding. And so it is: it is the seat of the primal sensual understanding, the seat of the passional self-consciousness.

In other words, our consciousness is not monolithic. Our innermost soul is Vigrid, the plains of battle where Ragnarok will be fought. Titanic forces war within us. A war waged by the blood against the intellect, between the influences of the industrial fallen world in which we live, and the primeval, fecund, blood drenched swamps that we remember in our dreams and in the shadows of the woods at night. Industrialism has deified the intellect, since it is by such powers that humanity has gained its cursed dominion over the earth. The heart and the blood will not assist in such an unholy crusade. The law of the blood is to tear down, to expend itself in a glorious detonation of fire. The intellect is a bridle, a yoke forced upon the wild human spirit. For truly, how else could those that hope to reduce humanity to a state of endless servitude accomplish their designs? The wild within us will not serve! It cries out with foaming jaws! The wild will must be broken in order to build the world of artifice and degradation that the Mammon worshipers desire. The call of the blood must be silenced. The vigor of humanity must be denied and renounced.

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The destiny of blood is war and struggle. Bliss and self destruction. As violence is denied, so to is the joy of an unfettered life. For Lawrence, predating Jung, the blood consciousness was seen as the subterranean force, which the domination of the intellect was built upon.

Destroy! destroy! destroy! hums the under-consciousness. Love and produce! Love and produce! cackles the upper consciousness. And the world hears only the Love-and- produce cackle. Refuses to hear the hum of destruction under- neath. Until such time as it will have to hear.

These two complimentary forces, destruction and creation, were both given their due in the world before industrialism crashed down upon us like a wind from the abyss. The imbalance in these forces is what now drives us to the precipice. Lawrence saw, like Jung, that the blood could only be denied for so long. Slumbering powers would not consent to dream forever. There will be a time when the blood rises again and it will take its revenge upon the bland, tasteless, ashen prisons that we have built around it. What will that time look like? Apocalypse. Revelation. The veil built by centuries of denial and repression will be shredded. And blood will return with a fury that we have never seen. It has grown rancorous in its years of imprisonment. Oh, that we had shown reverence to the blood and cast aside the chains of the machines and the intellect when we had the chance. And Lawrence saw all this: “There’s a bad time coming. There’s a bad time coming, boys, there’s a bad time coming! If things go on as they are, there’s nothing lies in the future but death and destruction, for these industrial masses.” A bad time, indeed.

The spirit of blood and violence screams in the words of Lawrence, “I’d wipe the machines off the face of the earth again, and end the industrial epoch absolutely, like a black mistake!” The gods fled in the face of these monstrosities that we gave birth to. And in our denial of them, they retreated further and further. And so humanity began to rot. Only in the vigorous struggle does life exist and only in the throes of a wild battle the likes of which have not been seen in hundreds of years, will the gods open their bleary eyes and gaze upon us with curiosity and something approaching tenderness. The intellect and modern consciousness lead us, again and again, away from the path. The intellect of consciousness knows nothing but anguish and dullness. It winds around and around in mazes of its own creation. But it is too blind and bedizened by its own design to ever find its way out. Look what I have created! It proclaims like a madman. But it is nothing more than its own tomb. The intellect knows nothing of value. It knows how to imprison, it knows how to divert the natural course of the water until it pools in fetid, subterranean filth. The blood, the blood only knows the language of freedom, the language of the gods. Truly there is nothing to fear from anger and the letting of blood. It is when blood is denied that it becomes stagnant and sick and infects the body of humanity. Born from the cosmos, humanities only hope is to return to the rhythm of the cosmos themselves. A rhythm of destruction and creation, death and rebirth. There can be no rebirth without death.

As Jung and others have articulated, the self is not the self. The unconscious and its hidden depths are not clear to us. They are murky as a forest tarn, thick and black with the compost of millennia of dead leaves. The unconscious, the deepest self, the blood self, the awareness of the bodily, returns to us only in brief glimpses and hauntings: “The self that lives in my body I can never fully know. . . My body is like a jungle in which dwells an unseen me, like a black panther in the night, whose two eyes glare green through my dreams, and, if a shadow falls, through my waking day.” To shun and renounce the intellect and the techno-industrial world is to dive into the world of dreams, to seek what we have forgotten in ourselves. At the bottom of the murky pool, we will find a beast. There is terror in the depths. But that is not all, for we can only be free and experience joy when we find and do homage to the monster that lives in our deepest places. For Lawrence, this path, the diving path meant abandoning the scientific view of the cosmos, which had grown out of modernity, the bloody sire of industrialism. Science represented to him the principles of death and the machine. The unconscious may be unknowable to the rational mind, to the intellect. But like Jung, Lawrence believed that we could rediscover our essential nature by returning to a religious conception of the universe. We must realize that the techno-industrial world and its rational, scientific view is precisely what puts us out of balance and separates us from the world of blood and wild nature. The ancient spiritual teachings of the pre-modern world sought not to explain the mysteries of the gods and cosmos, but to acknowledge them, to honor them.

Lawrence dedicated his life and creative efforts to articulating the meaning of the blood and rediscovering the true self that techno-industrial society has displaced. It ultimately led him to write this creed:

That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women.

We must submit to the gods, and the blood through which they speak. Forces beyond our understand and control rule us, utterly. At best, we may hope to discern their presence in the nighttime places, the dreamtime places. Beyond this, the beauty and truth of Lawrence’s creed speaks for itself.

Unfortunately, Lawrence’s religion of blood and dark self-knowing was misunderstood by many. Bertrand Russell, who maintained a correspondence with Lawrence even identifies this philosophy as an antecedent of the horrors of the Nazis. Russell writes “He had a mystical philosophy of “blood” which I disliked…This seemed to me frankly rubbish, and I rejected it vehemently, though I did not then know that it led straight to Auschwitz.” Perhaps it is unsurprising that a philosophy of the world that conforms so much to Jung’s view also becomes conflated with abhorrent ideas and actions. It is also unsurprising that someone with such a radically rational perspective as Russell misunderstood Lawrence so outrageously. When Lawrence writes of the blood, I believe it is quite clear that he refers, like Jung’s collective unconscious, not to the blood of this particular race or nation but to the blood of humanity as a whole. To an impulse which is universal in humanity and a force that is vitally present in the non-human world as well. This is a cosmic force, not one that suffers the pettiness and vileness of nationalism or the intolerant, narrow minded hatred of the demagogue. Author Rex Warner likewise situates Lawrence in this milieu, writing in 1946: “There must be nothing at all gentle about the ‘dark’ force to which the dark independent outlaws of his dreams would owe a sort of reverence… Fascism finally succeeded, at least temporarily, in making the synthesis that eluded Lawrence.” Again, this misreading of Lawrence fails to acknowledge that the power of the blood brings with it joy and bliss, as well as violence and struggle. Lawrence is significant precisely because, like Jung, he understood that humanity must accept that it has a dark dimension to its nature. And that this element within us puts us in touch with the vast sublimity of the cosmos.

What both Warner and Russell mistake in Lawrence is the same problem that we can see so clearly in Freud: the hysterical fear of the realm of instinct, blood, and wildness. There is an assumption among over-rational minds that if there is something we cannot control within ourselves then that thing must be feared, abhorred, shunned, denied, or denigrated. There is something to be feared within the wild, bloody heart of humanity. But it is not this force that left unchecked that will turn the world into a graveyard. It is the other. The intellect, running rampant, will annihilate humanity and the world far quicker than the savage violence of those who sleep in tombs beneath the earth. No, let us be quite clear: the gas chambers and the unspeakable horror of the holocaust were born from the ruthless, rational, mechanistic mind of industrialism not from the pre-modern darkness that dwells in of the blood and its mysterious power. And likewise, there can be no doubt whatsoever that the rule of the intellect and the techno-industrial order is solely responsible for the destruction of the earth. A holocaust against the earth which has lasted every single moment of every single day for hundreds of years.


Ramon Elani

Ramon Elani holds a PhD in literature and philosophy. He is a teacher, a poet, a husband, and a father, as well as a muay thai fighter. He wanders in oak groves. He casts the runes and sings to trolls. He lives among mountains and rivers in Western New England

More of his writing can be found here. You can also support him on Patreon.

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From Ramon Elani: “We are never alone.
And the darkness is not outside of us.
Solitude is a gift only found in the endless soul of the ocean.”

“I will no longer mutilate and destroy myself in order to find a secret behind the ruins.” —Hermann Hesse

 

Within us, there is another,
Who we do not know, who walks beside us,
Sleeps beside us,
The opposing force, The other,
The one who stands behind,
The one who sits at the foot of the bed while we dream,
The shadow by moonlight.

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The thing that, when denied, rises up
From the black meres and tarns smoking with mist
In the depths of the shadowy primordial forests,
Where our souls and dream wander.
It rises, in blood, when it is forgotten,
And we live a fetch-life, a double life,
The twin of our soul that stalks through the ruins of the world,
Howling and begging in a storm of fire,
A ghost hungry with wrath.
And so the world becomes the blood-stained battlefield of our souls disregarded.
We see the twisted, mutilated fragments of our selves
In the face of everyone we meet.
That which is denied in the self is born into the world.
There is a deepness within us,
A depth that cannot be sounded,
And that void is haunted by a universe of spirits
That seek to claw their way to the surface,
And overcome the self that rules,
And lay waste to all that has been built.

He who voyages into the darkness of dreams will find the other.
He who searches for the demon will find him.
And he who does not search will be devoured.
The monstrous gods have retreated into the heart,
And by denying them, we become them and bring them into the world.
We are never alone.
And the darkness is not outside of us.
Solitude is a gift only found in the endless soul of the ocean.

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He who is whole alone may be King,
And take the crown of the Children of the Goddess,
And bear the arms of Four Cities.
Silverhand!
Who led his children from the North of the World
In ships of war to the land of the Bag Men,
Swollen with the fury for battle.
And Mac Erc saw in a dream the fair gods descending from clouds of fire,
And he woke in horror,
And he knew the day would soon come when he would seek water
And desire it more than life itself,
And the water would be hidden from him by the weavers.
And thus shrieking for water, would he be cut down.

And with the Goddess behind him,
Silverhand declared half the land for his kin.
But the Bag Men defied him
And in honor of their glorious pride,
He joined them in the sacred covenant of war.
Silverhand, whose sword none could withstand,
Thus faced the champion Sreng
On the plain of broken towers.
And Sreng in his warlike might shattered Silverhand
And sundered his arm from his body.
And the Children of the Goddess wept as they saw the king go down.
But the battle turned against the Bag Men,
For the spirit of the blood swan was not with them.
And Sreng found himself alone on the bloody field,
And in his martial rage he shook his spear
At Silverhand and demanded recompense for his kinsmen slain.
War for eternity, did Sreng promise to the Children of the Goddess.
War without end.
But Silverhand would not face the dread man again
And overcome by his valorous soul,
Gave him the gift of land and pasture.

And then was a hand wrought of silver to replace
What the king had lost.
And so was he known as Silverhand thereafter.
And then did he regain the kingship, for he was whole once again.
But his wyrd came for him in time,
As it does for us all.
And when the Deep Ones came upon the land,
Silverhand fell to the arms of He of the Evil Eye.

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None are free, all are driven by the monster inside of us.
We push it aside, only to ensure that it will follow us with even greater force.
Blood engenders phantoms.
As Paracelsus wrote, there is within the human soul
The quintessence of the universe, light and dark alike.
And there is poison in all things if not taken in their measure.
What we have lost has not disappeared,
It is always within.
And the flames of the world are nothing to the infernos inside of us.
The path is a spiral.

The path we walk is the path of madness,
But we must not turn away, we must not purge the madness from inside of us.
Those who abandon the path of madness within  make the world into a nightmare.
The demons that we seek to banish from our souls wreck the pillars of the world.
How can we choose?
Between a dry, placid soul and a world sundered by horror
And
A lacerated spirit, panting and wounded from endless battle, living in a world of stars.
Alas, the choice is a false one.
For only the one who is whole may rule.
And in the depths, there is only the cacophony of struggle
And the quietude of the Moon, in her strange ways.


Ramon Elani

Ramon Elani holds a PhD in literature and philosophy. He is a teacher, a poet, a husband, and a father, as well as a muay thai fighter. He wanders in oak groves. He casts the runes and sings to trolls. He lives among mountains and rivers in Western New England

More of his writing can be found here. You can also support him on Patreon.


The Wyrd of the Weorld is to be Mere-Deap: The Return to Mythic Time

There is a feeling of strangeness that has come over the world. We have a sense, scarcely articulated, that something is coming. And that the world we have become familiar over hundreds of years of capitalism and industrialism, has suddenly become surreal and bizarre. We suddenly become aware of the shadow that walks alongside us.

From Ramon Elani

“Wild, dark times are rumbling toward us, and the prophet who wishes to write a new apocalypse will have to invent entirely new beasts, and beasts so terrible that the ancient animal symbols of St. John will seem like cooing doves and cupids in comparison.”—Heinrich Heine

“The dream is a hidden door to the innermost recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night…All consciousness separates, but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of the eternal night. There he is still whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood.”—C.G. Jung

The human world drifts closer to the abyss. We may still linger in the shallows. The water maybe only knee-high. Gentle fish play about our ankles and tickle our toes. But a deep blue void beyond our comprehension awaits. Are we seeing the future or the past? Cities swallowed by rains. Water rising. Skyscrapers shrouded with seaweed. Highways and shopping centers encased by mountains of sediment and algae.

Modern, capitalist, industrial consciousness is unprepared to make sense of what it sees. And what it now knows is coming. The myth of the future has long since eroded and collapsed, sending up a cloud of dust to block out the sun. Progress. Technology. Human perfection. Four hundred years of dreams. Dreams of shimmering tomorrows extending like a neon caterpillar into the heart of eternity. All blown away in a hurricane from paradise.

I.

In 1962 J.G. Ballard wrote The Drowned World, his first novel. In this maddeningly prophetic vision, Ballard imagines the world of the 21st century, devastated by climate change. As the concept of manmade global warming was still essentially unthought of at the time, the cause of Ballard’s apocalypse is a series of powerful solar flares that weaken the atmosphere and initiate a process of irrevocable heating. Confined to the polar regions, civilization is only barely able to survive and humanity knows that will not last much longer. A strange mix of scientists, mystics, and eccentric adventurers travel south to the remains of Europe, which has reverted to a prehistoric swamp, inhabited by the massive reptiles that are gradually reclaiming the ruined earth. The human population has dropped to no more than five million and babies are no longer being born, a result, perhaps, of the massive amounts of solar radiation that pours unfiltered into the earth’s atmosphere. There is no human future and the planet rushes unstoppably back toward its own primordial dawn.

We too now stand at the threshold of a primeval, mythic age. The sorts of cataclysms that are foretold by every culture’s oldest stories are now commonplace and we know that greater ones are not far off. It is time to acknowledge the nature, the character of our present moment. What form of temporal consciousness can account for the increasingly likely possibility of human annihilation? For those who inhabit Ballard’s Drowned World, the only response to an undeniable geological reality is a descent into the ominous lagoons of the prehistoric, prehuman psyche that persists residually in the shadowy subconscious. As the conditions of Ballard’s world becomes more similar to that of the Triassic age, so too does the psychological and spiritual condition of his characters revert to prehistoric forms. The world dissipates into an archaic dreamscape.

“Everywhere in nature one sees evidence of innate releasing mechanisms literally millions of years old, which have lain dormant through thousands of generations but retained their power undiminished… We all carry within us a submerged memory of the time when the giant spiders were lethal, and when the reptiles were the planet’s dominant life form.”

What other mysterious shapes lie beneath the dark waters of conscious thought? As Houston, Mumbai, and Miami are drowning, we must ask ourselves: how do we face this world of catastrophe? The oceanic mother is drawing us back to herself. We are being pulled back to the water. Back to the womb.

“If we let these buried phantoms master us as they re-appear we’ll be swept back helplessly in the flood-tide like pieces of flotsam.”

There are powers awakening in the world that we have long forgotten and if we do not heed them, we will vanish from the face of the earth. Techno-industrial society has taught us to deny those powers. To deny that they ever existed. Climate change has shattered that vicious lie. Who can watch the waters rising, the deserts spreading, the sun burning through the sky without feeling terror grip the heart. Climate change has reminded us how small we are and how weak we stand before the might of the gods. We stand now with two choices before us: collective suicide or the descent into what we have forgotten. The descent into the deep, into the world that we foolishly believe dwells only in our dreams. No, it is a world that pulses in our blood. Memory. The terror we feel when we see the storms approaching reminds us of the mythic age we once inhabited.

II.

Amitav Ghosh begins his new book The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable by reflecting on the history of his people in what is now Bangladesh. Ancestral memories of flooding rivers, displacement, wandering, refugees. Ghosh writes “I remember the elemental force that untethered my ancestors from their homeland… When I look into my past the river seems to meet my eyes, staring back, as if to ask, Do you recognize me, wherever you are?” The folly of bourgeois, capitalist, industrial society is to deny agency to the non-human world. What is non-human is only relevant apropos its use to humans. Thus climate change presents a paradox so inconceivable to the techno-industrial mind that it has become utterly paralyzed. Nobody knows how to respond. What does it mean that the earth has risen up against us? This earth that we have, over the last 300 years, become accustomed to seeing as nothing more than a resource to be exploited or a backdrop for our human dramas. We have forgotten the gods but that does not mean they cease to exist.

The techno-industrial world is not capable of understanding what it has unleashed. Thus it will drift away in the flood of history. We are only confused in our response because we have accepted the terms of our education in modernity. We are only confused because we have been taught to see humanity as the center of the universe. We have been taught that humanity is exceptional. That the rules don’t apply to us. That we are irreducibly other than the world. That we are above the world and its powers. In short, the legacy of the enlightenment has taught us to believe that we can become gods. Climate change has shattered this delusion. Humanity will utterly perish if it does not abandon this foolishness. And if we readjust our eyes to see without the distortion of the past 300 years, we will see that everything is clear. As Ghosh writes, “comprehension need play no part in a moment of recognition. The most important element of the word recognition thus lies in its first syllable, which harks back to something prior, an already existing awareness that makes possible the passage from ignorance to knowledge.” In other words, comprehension is a tool of the capitalist, the engineer, the scientist, the modern. Comprehension is an idea engendered by a conception of the world that is measurable, knowable, finite and a conception of humanity that is limitless. Comprehension is an idea of control, of domination. To comprehend is to name, to bind. It is an idea that will strangle and suck the life out of the world and ourselves.

Recognition is the language of the seer, the wild deer in the misty glen, the bloody raven on the alder tree, the bear dreaming in a mossy cave. Recognition has always been with us. It is the way of our first ancestors and our last descendants. To know what you always knew. To be accepted and to accept. I will not seek to control you. I merely see you and I know what you are. There is an ease and a quietness to recognition, though it can bring earthquakes and break the sky. Ghosh reminds us, “[recognition] cannot disclose itself except in the presence of its lost other…it arises from a renewed reckoning with a potentiality that lies within oneself.” Recognition is a return. It is to find what has been lost, and to understand that it has been within us the whole time. We stand upon the barren mountaintop, upon the cliffs before the pounding waves, amid the lifeless suffocating sands. We see the ruin and devastation coming toward us. The coming storms are inescapable. They cannot be reasoned with. We cannot throw money at them. We cannot bomb them into oblivion. We cannot think our way out of this. We have reached the edge of what techno-industrial, capitalist society can accomplish. There is nothing left for us now than to sit with our horror; to dive into the depths, to welcome the rushing dark waters, and to seek what we have forgotten beneath the waves.

Thus climate change brings us back to ourselves and the world. It reminds us what we have known throughout our time on this earth: that we are surrounded by forces and powers and energies that are utterly beyond us, that we can never hope to dominate them, that every moment of our lives are conditioned and made possible by them, that we are nothing more than fruit flies to them, that we can never understand their workings or the extent of their might. We know in some vague way that we function through them. We know that there is a relationship between us. There are terms and agreements. There are consequences for promises and covenants broken.

It is not so long ago that all humanity held covenant with the spirits of the earth. Floods, famines, draughts, storms were seen as the actions of the gods. There was a cultural and psychological context for such events. When the gods were angry they punished humanity. The end of the world was a story all people told. And that story was always followed by rebirth. In other words, these stories helped humanity understand its place in the cosmos. Small, helpless, fragile. As subject to the greater powers as the smallest creature that runs and scurries. But also connected to the cycle of destruction and rebirth. To be subject to the terrifying forces of the universe is also to be bound to all of creation. What agonies do we suffer now from our insistence of separation from the world? How easy it has been for us to delude ourselves thus. For hundreds of years and increasingly, humanity has built its world to be apart from the greater world. To encase ourselves in steel, to escape into a virtual world, to preserve ourselves in the tower. All to be immune from the violence and terror of the gods. We sadly believe this to be our goal. But the flood that comes upon us now will bare us naked. A new time is coming. As Ghosh puts it: “we have entered a time when the wild has become the norm.” It is implied of course, that for almost all of our history, the wild was the norm. It was never not the norm. We just pretended for a bit.

III.

Thus, let us bravely declare our return to the age of myths! To the timeless! To the dreaming! We know the monsters that lurk in the heart of the storms. We fought them before. We knew them to be greater than ourselves and when they came, we lost many souls. Yet we stand before them proudly, defiantly, because we know that we are part of this world just as they are. We are made of the same stuff and we return to the same source. We have the same mother. “Every man and every woman is a star.”

Modernity has strangled itself. When time became conscious of itself, the gods and their powers fled from the time-demon that we conjured. Jung: “As you know, in olden times the ancestral souls lived in pots in the kitchen. Lares and penates are important psychological personages who should not be frightened away by too much modernity.” We have driven the world away from us. This demon helped us reimagine the world as tame, safe, abundant, slow, and weak. Things may change, the modern voices mutter, but they change slowly. Never fear, never fear. These are the voices of ghastly withered things. They do not see how their bodies have crumbled beneath the tedium and banality of bourgeois consciousness. And with their bodies, the body of the earth. Modernity has tried to tell us, for three hundred years, that nature could be controlled, that humanity could be perfected, that the myths of Ragnarok and revelations were mere fables, not to be believed. All swept away by the storm.

For thousands of years we have known that tigers are demons, to be feared and appeased. Villages must be built far away from the realms of the tigers and their forests and mangroves are not to be disturbed. We have known that trees have spirits. We have known that the ocean is dark and that its wrath is terrifying. Thus villages and houses would never have been built by the beach. As Ghosh points out, now it is considered a great mark of wealth and status to have a beachfront property. The gods care nothing for our wealth and status and these houses will be swept away to be driftwood and seaglass. The catastrophes that are coming and are here, for all the anguish they cause and loss of life, bring us back. Bring us to remembrance. Bring us to recognition.

There is a feeling of strangeness that has come over the world. We have a sense, scarcely articulated, that something is coming. And that the world we have become familiar over hundreds of years of capitalism and industrialism, has suddenly become surreal and bizarre. We suddenly become aware of the shadow that walks alongside us. Ghosh aptly brings to mind the concept of the uncanny. Climate change is nothing if not uncanny. We cannot think it. It is beyond us. But what is the nature of this quality? Climate change is uncanny because “we recognize something we had turned away from: that is to say, the presence and proximity of nonhuman interlocutors.” Mythic time animates a world filled with voices. Stones, trees, clouds, ferns have always sought to speak with us. We have long since ceased to listen or respond. As the hurricanes come down upon us now, all that is left is to beg them to spare us from their wrath.

Ghosh suggests that climate change forces us to remember that “humans were never alone, that we have always been surrounded by beings of all sorts who share elements of that which we had thought to be the most distinctively our own: the capacities of will, thought, and consciousness.” There was a time when this idea would not have seemed strange. Indeed, there was a time when this idea would have been universally accepted by every man, woman, and child on earth. Modernity posits a lonely world, emptied of life and vitality. Humanity sits alone in the tower. But now the tower is crumbling.

In the mythic time it was understood that as the wild world around was throbbing with consciousness, that consciousness could also interpenetrate our own. There was communication between humanity, animals, plants, stones, and trees: “there are entities in the world, like forests, that are fully capable of inserting themselves into our processes of thought.” In other words, the horizon of human thought is defined by the forces and spirits of the earth. Perhaps humanity is nothing more than a thought or a dream of the earth. Climate change has made it clear to us that the nonhuman world is influenced by human action, despite the fact that its power is unimaginably more vast and profound. The mythic consciousness understands this relationship intimately. Offerings and sacrifices were made to honor and acknowledge this relationship. Demons, monsters, and catastrophes are sent by the gods to punish or teach us. It is a response to our actions. The horrors of climate change “are the mysterious work of our own hands returning to haunt us in unthinkable shapes and forms.” Jung was of the same mind. Observing the mechanized reality of 20th century America, he pleaded that something must be done to “compensate the earth.” We turn away from the world we have wrought because it is too horrible to believe. There is no penance or sacrifice great enough to atone for what we have done.

And worst of all, we have no excuse. As Ghosh points out “it is not as if we had been warned… An awareness of the precariousness of human existence is to be found in every culture: it is reflected in biblical and Quranic images of the apocalypse, in the figuring of Fimbulwinter in Norse mythology, in tales of pralaya in Sanskrit literature, and so on.” Every culture on earth has spoken of the end times. The time when the gods would bring the full force of the earth against the human race. The mythic world gives us a way to understand this notion of time. It teaches us that the end of this world is not forever. Indeed, it teaches us that there is no real end, only new beginnings. But make no mistake, a new beginning can only occur by obliterating every trace of the old world in a violent conflagration so massive that the cosmos themselves will shake. The coming dawn of the new world does not make the darkness, terror, and blood of ragnarok any less. The mythic consciousness understands that we cannot have rebirth without death. That violence is the shadow side of creation. Horror and love. Power and frailty. Modern consciousness insists on splitting everything up into discrete boxes. The box has been shattered now and we can no longer turn away from the shadows. Linnaeus wrote, “Surely Descartes never saw an ape.” Jung articulated the same position: “He [man] can only state with certainty that he is no monkey, no bird, no fish, and no tree. But what he positively is, remains obscure.” Modernity teaches us that we can make easy distinctions. The wild world resists this with a strength cannot be denied.

Modernity teaches us that time travels as an arrow. The future rushes irresistibly towards us. The forms of consciousness of the past are rendered invalid by being part of the past. Modernity teaches us that everything evolved from a less developed form. Climate change has changed it all. Modernity has now revealed itself to be a hollow fiction. We rush blindly into the past. The doors of the spirit world swing open. The world of myths, the world of dreams await us. We have no other way to understand the world around us and this world will destroy us.

IV.

Let us end here with Jung. If the way through the horrors that are coming lies in the deep twilight of our mythic past, there can be no better guide. For Jung, everything we are as modern creatures rests upon an immeasurably vast primordial foundation. Millions of years of memories swim in the darkness of this buried swamp. Having put aside the world of omens, magic, and superstition we have denied the knowledge contained in these memories. And by keeping them shut away from the light, we mutate them into grotesque, murderous things and will creep out of the muck and slime in the depth of night and strangle us. The animal in us, the mythic consciousness, the power of instinct, the ability to hear the rustling voices of the trees, these things cannot be extinguished. They can only be forgotten or remembered. And the recognition that Ghosh writes about is the method by which these powers are restored to us. Climate change stabs our heart with such profound terror that ancient whispers within us cry out. They remember cataclysms of the past. They remember stories of the end of the world.

There is only one path now. For that I suppose we must be grateful to modernity. A thousand more years of this world would have wrought unspeakable horrors upon the human soul and the spirit of the earth. We know now, or will shortly know, that techno-industrial society is a fraud. We must abandon the pursuit of knowledge and control. Jung wrote “knowledge does not enrich us; it removes us more and more from the mythic world in which we were once at home by right of birth.” For all the technical prowess of modernity, climate change was the result. And we cannot tinker our way out of it. But to be separated from the mythic consciousness only by a distance of time is no separation at all. For we no longer assert the linear movement of history. We stand at its edge and find ourselves back to its beginning.


Ramon Elani

Ramon Elani holds a PhD in literature and philosophy. He is a teacher, a poet, a husband, and a father, as well as a muay thai fighter. He wanders in oak groves. He casts the runes and sings to trolls. He lives among mountains and rivers in Western New England

More of his writing can be found here. You can also support him on Patreon.


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The Way Of The Violent Stars

“The only way for humanity to make itself immune to violence is to allow the creation of a vast authoritarian system that protects individuals from personal violence through the endless impersonal violence of the state.”

This essay, by Ramon Elani, originally appeared in Black Seed 5, along with an essay by Rhyd Wildermuth. Black Seed 5 can be ordered at this link.


“I hate the word peace, as I hate hell.” ~William Shakespeare

“I shall try to make plain the bloodiness of killing. Too often this has been slurred over by those who defend hawks. Flesheating man is in no way superior. It is so easy to love the dead. The word ‘predator’ is baggy with misuse. All birds eat living flesh at some time in their lives. Consider the cold-eyed thrush, that springy carnivore of lawns, worm stabber, basher to death of snails. We should not sentimentalise his song, and forget the killing that sustains it.” ~J.A. Baker

As green anarchists and anarcho-primitivists, we have utterly idealized indigenous or so-called primitive people. In doing so we have failed to understand precisely the reason we should follow their path. Most discourse around primitive life is drawn from western anthropology, though from the conclusions most anarcho-primitivists and green anarchists have drawn, it is clear that very few of them have actually bothered to read the texts they are referring to. Even given the Eurocentric bias of most anthropologists, those texts paint a much richer, more complex, and more conflicted view of primitive life than one finds in the vast majority of anti-civilization writing and discussion.

The most egregious assumption is that primitive life is supposed to be happy and easy. This is, of course, drawn from notions of primitive abundance and leisure. The fact, however, that individuals in primitive communities only worked for a very small amount of time per day does not mean that there were not other difficulties and hardships to be faced. Anarcho-primitivist and green anarchist writers suggest that modern humanity’s neurosis and pathology is entirely a product of the alienating forces of techno-industrial society. Indigenous communities now and in the past had their own ways of understanding and addressing anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Of course, it is likely that they experienced these conditions differently than we do or to a lesser degree but clearly they still exist regardless. To avoid essentializing primitive or indigenous lifeways, we must understand that they experienced as broad a range of emotional states as we do.

In other words, the old assessment that ancient hunter gatherers were happier than we are is irrelevant and likely untrue. It is important here to acknowledge the distinction between the terms anarcho-primitivism and green anarchy. While green anarchy presents a wide range of conceptual apparatus for confronting techno-industrial society, Anarcho-primitivism dogmatically insists on a prescriptive vision of non-civilized life. For anarcho-primitivists, the only communities that count are ones in which no power structures or symbolic culture exist at all. In this vision, since there is no oppression of any kind or rupture with the non-human world, there are no social or existential problems. It is, of course, unlikely that such a community has ever existed.

Primitive life certainly involved hardship and suffering. Contrary to much received wisdom, violence was universal among primitive communities and remains so in those that persist to this day. Primitive life was also not a leftist utopia of perfect egalitarianism. Of course, the fact that pain, suffering, trauma, and tragedy was always present does not mean that joy, happiness, and pleasure were not also always present. Perhaps it is so, as I believe, that the very presence of ubiquitous violence and struggle intensified the feelings of happiness, contentment, and satisfaction that ancient people experienced. But in the end, this is neither here nor there. The point is that primitive life is superior to our own because its impact on the biosphere was minimal and people lived in close contact with the non-human world; that is the only reason and that is sufficient.

People who do not know what it means to fight cannot understand violence. They fear it because they have never experienced it. Aside from posturing and play acting, most anarchists and activists have never experienced violence. This is not to say, of course, that many of them have not been brutalized by the police, etc. Fighting with an enemy is not the same thing as being ruthlessly beaten by an anonymous employee whom you cannot strike back against, or harassing racists and idiots in the streets.

The violence of the mob, of the masses, is a different beast entirely. It is more akin to being crushed by a blind stampede of herd animals than anything else. Traditional people understood the need for ritual combat, for battle enacted under the strictest and most sacred terms: tt make a square within staves of hazel, to tie your strap to a spear plunged into the dirt.

Among the ancient people of Scandinavia the power of the state was weak and in the absence of a police or military to enforce the law, individuals resorted to ritual combat to resolve conflicts without disrupting the community as a whole. This practice, known as holmgang, involved the voluntary participation of both combatants and stipulated that the source of the conflict must end with the conclusion of the duel. In other words, the rules of holmgang were designed to ensure that other family members did not get caught up in the feud. Moreover, holmgang did not require one of the two combatants to die. In many cases the drawing of first blood was considered sufficient to determine a victor. Unsurprisingly, the practice of holmgang was outlawed in the early 11th century as Christian law stamped out pagan ways of life and hegemonic power grew in the region.

Even in such classic works of anthropology as Stanley Diamond’s In Search of the Primitive, we find a picture of traditional life that fully embraces violence. Diamond writes, “the point is that the wars and rituals of primitive society (and the former usually had the style of the latter), are quantitatively and qualitatively distinct from the mechanized wars of civilization.” This is to say, the type of violence, the experience of the violence, makes an enormous difference. As critics of civilization and techno-industrial society we have inadequately accounted for this. Violence and war are not to be feared or condemned. It is the nature of the violence that must be interrogated and reconsidered.

The custom of counting coup, practiced by the tribes of the American Plains, is an important historical example to cite here. To count coup means to demonstrate one’s bravery and courage by achieving a number of increasingly difficult feats on the battlefield. As George Bird Grinnell observed among the Cheyenne and Crow, “the bravest act that could be performed was to count coup on—to touch or strike—a living unhurt man and to leave him alive.” Joe Medicine Crow, the last war chief of the Crow Nation, achieved this feat a number of times as a soldier during World War II. Among his many achievements include disarming and fighting an enemy officer in hand-to-hand combat, as well as stealing 50 horses from a German battalion and riding off while singing Crow war songs. According to his obituary, Medicine Crow felt war to be “the finest sport in the world.”

As ancient people understood well through their war cults and warrior societies, there is tremendous wisdom and meaning to be gained through violence. In the first case you learn that pain is just another sensation in the body, it does not need to be feared. In the second case, to stand proudly against another, an equal, is to test yourself in a way that we have little ability to replicate. It is a form of physical relationship with another that is unique. You learn that you are strong, that you are skilled. You also learn that there is strength in the other. That sometimes your strength and your skill are insufficient and you strive to make yourself stronger. You learn about the world, about the nature of life, grounded in the body. Modern humanity is utterly separated from this. To return to Diamond: “war is a kind of play. No matter what the occasion for hostility, it is particularized, personalized, ritualized. Conversely, civilization represses hostility in the particular, fails to use or structure it, even denies it.”

The violence that we experience, as modern, civilized humans, that we perceive around us in countless ways, brings nothing but trauma. It is utterly, radically distinct from the violence of the primitive societies. It is depersonalized, sterile, and more destructive on a previously unimaginable scale of magnitude. In techno-industrial society we experience the violence of the police, the violence of men against women, the desperate random violence of humans driven to madness and hopelessness, violence against minorities, violence against the poor, and most importantly, no matter where we are, all around us, every single hour of every day we experience unspeakable degrees of violence against the earth.

Moreover, the soldier is not the warrior. The warrior longs for meaning, for connection with the cosmos and himself. The soldier is an automated, anonymous employee. It searches for nothing. It kills because it has been programmed to kill. It has no joy, no sorrow, no thought of what it does. When such emotions do occur they are shoved deep into hidden places in the soul and when they break out they cause insanity and horror. The violence of the soldier is the violence of the machine. It is a bloodless kind of violence, a violence that erodes the soul, no matter what it does to the body. Those pitiful beings that serve as the instruments of the brutality of the machine understand nothing, they are numb and insensate. They are appendages of the thing that annihilates. They have never felt the challenge of facing a foe who is trained and prepared for them, to be joined in valor. They execute. They bomb. They murder. Existentially, they count for nothing. Their lives are nothing.

Peace is understood as little as battle. Peace is not synonymous with joy, nor with righteousness, nor with abundance. Peace has only ever been achieved through history’s greatest atrocities. Peace has only ever meant power to the victor and misery and degradation to the vanquished. We, in the heart of technoindustrial society, are experiencing what peace means. A life devoid of joy. A sterile life. A non-life. And worse still, it is a life maintained perpetually by the slaughter of those on the fringes of our world. As the world-machine continues to expand outward, more and more will be pacified and brought within our life of shopping malls, endless highways, obesity, sickness, despair. And peace will reign. Peace, peace, peace.

What do we long for? A life of joy and passion. A life that is alive, throbbing with blood. A world that pulses with vitality. Do we want the icy porcelain bodies of mechanized gods? Or do we want living animal bodies that break and heal and decay and die? The latter is the body that is shaped by violence, by suffering, by hardship. Just as it is shaped by joy, pleasure, and robust health. Ancient people did not live a life without pain. They suffered acutely and they experienced joy acutely. We experience neither truly. What would you choose? Who would not trade this world of atomic bombs, environmental annihilation, and mechanized dehumanization for a world of primal war?

But let us be clear: the world we have is the world that exists. And wishing will not make it otherwise. Moreover, the skill, courage, and strength of the warrior will never defeat the impersonal mechanized destroyer.

In our greatest manifestations and noblest moments, we are beasts. The myth of human exceptionalism has poisoned us to the core. There is nothing wrong with being animals, in fact it is a far greater thing than the fantasies that humans tell themselves about their supposed superiority. Anything good that has come from human action or thought has come from our animals nature. The evil and vileness we do, contrary to received wisdom, comes the part of us that no other animal shares. To understand this means to understand that the world of beasts involves its own kind of brutality. When lions slaughter hyena babies, it is not because they are hungry. We dislike this because of our human moralizing. We easily perceive that “nature, red in tooth and claw” is not the whole story. But it is an inescapable part of the story.

The only way for humanity to make itself immune to violence is to allow the creation of a vast authoritarian system that protects individuals from personal violence through the endless impersonal violence of the state. If you can’t protect yourself, you will rely on someone else to protect you, whether you realize it or not, regardless of the cost. Humanity is capable of radically limiting pain and suffering. We can live longer and longer. We can cure diseases. We can create enlightened societies with relatively low rates of violence. All of these things come at the cost of the earth, the things of the earth, and our connection to the earth.

Posing a vision of humanity without hardship or suffering denies the reality of the wild world and it distracts us from what is truly important: not the avoidance of pain but our unity with the myriad things and spirits of the world. The strength and the future of the human race lies only in its ability to show proper reverence to the gods of the earth.


Ramon Elani

Ramon Elani holds a PhD in literature and philosophy. He is a teacher, a poet, a husband, and a father. Until recently he was a muay thai fighter. He wanders in oak groves. He casts the runes and sings to trolls. He lives among mountains and rivers in Western New England

More of his writing can be found here.


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The Raven Banner

Mythic poetry from Ramon Elani

I dreamed that I stood upon a barren plateau, the wind screaming.
And I heard a rush of voices all around me.
The growling rocks, the screeching sands, the whispering clouds.
They told me of the cities below the ancient plain.
The told me of the entrails of the earth dragged up with ripping claws and teeth of steel.
They told me of war and catastrophe.
They told me of great forces beyond the ken of humans that were rising, powers long neglected and forgotten that sleep but never die.
On the day the sun turns black, so they said, a great shifting will come and all will be restored to what it once was.

The beasts will return and humanity will meet their cousins again in kindred friendship.
Old bonds will be reconsecrated and the sacrifices will be made to preserve them everlasting.
The circles of stone, the gifts freely given, the fragments made whole.
Fear not, they told me, the songs of oblivion and the chants of doom.
We will walk the path together amidst the ruins of this darkest age.

Raise the Raven banner! Bloom fungus!
Wash away the bricks and steel in a flood of shrieking fur, tusk, tooth and claw.
Pierce the clouds of filth with a thousand spears of light and fire to drive away the darkness of generations of hate and fear.
Rise up oak and smash the stones that choke the dirt and strangle the weeds.
The wind will blow from the West full of fragrant petals and musty leaves.
And those who left will return from the land of the dead upon a ship made of toe nails.

And bones will stir and shake off millennia of moss and vines and stampede forth across the plains.
The wild flowers will burst into the air with a thousand explosions of blue.
And the mountains will erupt with ferns curling up to the sky.
And the gilded temples built to the cold crystalline gods below the earth will shatter and be put down into dust, their priests and hierophants dragged naked and bloody beneath the wheel.

And the wolf, tiger, and lion shall rend the gowns and silken rainments of kings and magistrates.
And their thrones will be swallowed by the mist and left to rot for worms and beetles.
The flags of a thousand empires will totter from the lances and monuments of state to be pecked at by pigeons and plumed birds.
And the stars will blaze in the sky.
And nations will be devoured by glaciers possessed by blue-shirted demons that will crash down with the cold fury of a twinkling diamond.

And the rivers will swell and break the dams.
The deepest black waters of the ocean will surge with life.
And lost creatures that history has forgotten will wake from uncountable ages of slumber to churn the waters into a mighty typhoon.
And the detritus of a decadent and rotten culture will be swept away into grottoes and chasms, where millions of years hence strange fish will blink their eerie glowing eyes in bewilderment at these meaningless relics.
The titanic carcasses of whales will fall among them and bury them under pillars of fat and guts and bone.
And the wild children will rejoice and spread their arms to the howling moon and rub ashes, blood, and black mud upon their strong arms.
The old and proud will be humbled and their free sons and daughters will untomb the masks of the ancients.
And they will walk into the wild with heads held high, virile and robust despite the heavy weight on their shoulders.
And the people will cease their endless search and they will live in the wisdom that seeks not riches or power over any thing living or dead.
Nor revels in the creation of abstractions, of empty ideals that pollute the mind with the fog of intellect.
And in time the ice will gather with brooding moans.
And the ice will shudder when the soft paws of the bear lords march upon it.
Snowy mist will pour down from the mountains and slither among the evergreens like a wyrm.

And in the murky gloom of twilight the elks’ proud antlers will shine like fire through the dusk, beckoning fur-clad travelers.
Their beards frosted with snow, steam floating upwards from their heavy brows, old blood caked on their spears.
A horn will sound in the depths of the dreamtime woods and they will trudge on closer to the hearth fires of their kinfolk, safe and warm in smoky halls.
Their brothers the wolves will herald their return and the Ravens will gather among the clouds for gifts of bloody tendons and innards.

In the time to come we will put off the shirts that have strangled us for many thousands of years.
We shall once again be whole and free.


Ramon Elani

Ramon Elani holds a PhD in literature and philosophy. He is a teacher, a poet, a husband, and a father. Until recently he was a muay thai fighter. He wanders in oak groves. He casts the runes and sings to trolls. He lives among mountains and rivers in Western New England

More of his writing can be found here.


 

A Winter Walk: Fimbulwinter

“We will not turn from this fire.

We will not try to fix that which should break before us.”

Ritual poetry, from Ramon Elani

 

Vitoð ér enn, eða hvat? (Would you yet know more?)—Voluspo

 

My son looks up at the towering pylons above us.

“What is that, daddy?”

A cold wind blows across the barren wastes of the future and stings my cheeks and eyes.

“The ruins of a world that doesn’t know it’s already dead.”

We walk on through silent pines and boulders dripping with ice

And stand before a frozen waterfall, among wet woods of mistletoe.

Domed hills rise up around us, still and ominous.

Troll caves hidden among the moss and trees.

“Winter, stay forever.”

Come the frosty whispers of giants.

We say our bright blessings to the frozen things that watch us.

 

I bear the mark of the gap upon my thigh

And the cosmic egg inside a kernel of ice upon my left arm.

We come to the rushing void where the embers of fire blast forth

From the Sundering Land, home of the world-breakers,

To mix with the rimey spray that flows from the Mist World.

And in that terrible, yawning gulf where the two streams met

Shapes emerged from the drippings.

A man and a cow floating through the depths of eternity,

Creating worlds without end as they fell in and out of time.

The she-cow licked the salty ice until her coarse tongue met scarlet lips

And golden hair shone in the abyss of space.

Ice child. Armpit and toe children.

The titanic father slaughtered in a deluge of blood.

And the leeks grew from his guts and bones.

 

I seek a pool in the forest that is unfathomably deep,

And I seek the crone that sits by the side of the pool and protects its wisdom.

She bears the rune of loss.

I offer her my eye and she drops it into the pool.

With tears of blood I watch it fall, down through memory

Until it settles into the dust and sediment of aeons.

It will shine there in the murky gloom forever.

I see the bridges fall in the twilight that comes at the end of time.

I see the burning rim of the world.

And the house of silence reigns triumphant.

 

Suddenly the stillness is broken by the noise of train.

I hold my son in my arms and we stand upon a boulder,

Watching as the machine rushes past us.

“Where is it going, daddy?” My son asks.

“South,” I say. “South to the cities of the humans.”

“What does it carry?” He asks.

“It carries the bleeding heart of the forest.” I say.

It carries beaver dreams, the longings of the moose, the laughter of weasels.

I bend down to lick the old rotted trunk of an apple tree.

I taste the richness of decay and feel an unimaginable power growing inside of me.

I thank the tree for its gift and upon my arm,

The mark of hail burns with the fire of change and catastrophe.

 

We will not turn from this fire.

We will not try to fix that which should break before us.

Dark things stir among the bracken and the moss.

Memories, dreams, or prophecies of things to come.

Old gods that grimly await us upon the Plains of Adoration.

The ironwood throne lies empty and the world resounds.

Threads are woven together in the hollow beneath a tree.

Threads that bind, threads that lead us back to where we belong,

To the halls of the moon, like dogs we are all.

Sacraments made upon the beak of a night-owl.

Our weirds have been written.

In the mud and under the mold, we are caught in the web of fate.


Ramon Elani

Ramon Elani holds a PhD in literature and philosophy. He is a teacher, a poet, a husband, and a father. He recently retired from being a cage fighter. He wanders in oak groves and speaks to trees. He casts the runes.

More of his writing can be found here.


 

Upon The Plains of Adoration

“The machine-world, offering nothing but ash and bitter hate, will in time make a sacrifice of us all.”

Ritual prose from Ramon Elani


In dappled groves of ancient, hulking oaks standing god-like among endless oceans of emerald moss, a voice rises up from the black, fragrant earth strewn with forgotten ruins and grim stone shapes hidden beneath mountains of ivy. Thin and airy at first. A mere dream of lurking things at the edge of thought. Suffocating darkness that reaches its tendrils deep into the well beneath the trees. A memory, only half-recalled, that wanders like a hungry ghost among the empty, cobwebbed corridors of the ruined mansions and submerged palaces of consciousness.

It floats and drifts like smoke, becoming fuller and stronger as it climbs above the crowned heads of the trees. Now like a chorus of monstrous chthonic angels, the song rings out over the land, bursting with glory and rage. A name that has been cursed for millennia shrieks out like a thousand dire pipes and shatters the foul torpor of a world lulled to dreamless sleep by the lies of the machine. It spits its proud wrath upon the face of heaven itself: Cromm Cruaich! The Crooked One of the Mound!

The corn-headed one rises up upon his bloody pile. His bony shoulders stooped and the horns upon his brow piercing the sky and the sun blazes above him like a halo of fire. Shrouded in mist, he sits enthroned on the Hill of Kings surrounded by his wizened idols. In his dread claws he holds the gifts of milk and grain, and in the timeless deep did Tigernmas one distant Samhain eve march to that hill with his panoplied men of war to give homage to the Bent One. Tigernmas, that beautiful Lord of Death who did such feats of war upon the line of Finn that he nearly rooted out the blood of those kings forever, who did make much slaughter upon the kings of Assyria, who did first give the drinking horn to his vassals to drink, and robe them in imperial purple.

What dark dream moved him to march his host to that place and do their deeds there? For from that long march to the high hill, the flowering youth of Banba in their vigor and virility would never return. For upon that hill Cromm held court long before the Tuath De descended from dark clouds onto the mountains of that land, long before the Dagda stirred his cauldron and shook his wild club. No, from those older and deeper did Cromm trace his lineage. From those who who did battle with the Bright Ones, after they burned their ships. From those who did war upon the very fabric of reality. They who were there when the first came upon the shores, they who were there when the flood came and after, they who rule even now in Mag Mell. The latent-ones, who lurk within every heart and place of darkness, who swim with smiling teeth beneath the troubled waters of the ancient cosmic sea.

To Tigernmas did this Cromm speak and say: give me your sin, your filth, and I will devour it. I will carry it for you and within me it will grow and bear fruit. And from thence I will sit here with my bloody head upon this mound, abhorred and eternally defiled by the excrement that you bring me and I will gleefully swallow. Whatever your crimes and horrors, I will take them and they shall fertilize the harvest and bring forth such splendor and plenty from the earth. I make now with you this covenant.

So with wild eyes and bloody fists the dread King Tigernmas and his men did beat themselves raw and weep and fall to the ground overcome by lamentation and there surrounded by a circle of stones arranged in ranks of four times three did Cromm find their offering to be pleasing and the mighty host was there slaughtered to a man for the gift of milk and grain.

For thousands of generations after the bloody place was held in reverence by the Gaedil-folk, who brought their own sacrifices for the gift of milk and grain. They crowned Cromm in gold and silver. For life on the plains was hard in those times and the secret powers of the god demanded the pouring of bright blood in a circle around the barrow. Even as they emptied the lives of their first born to the god, the people gave thanks in their grief and so the land about the mound became known as the Plains of Adoration. Then came Patrick of Ravenglass, from the home of the Raven Woman, who defied the Ones who Stood in the Grove and spewed impieties from a table in the front of his house. He cursed Kings and Tribes and Nations and came with iron and fire to tear down what had stood since the dawn of ages. So was Golden Cromm sundered and dragged from his holy seat upon the mound. And the earth opened up and swallowed his henges, menhirs, and standing stones, his idols, and the tombs of the heroes laid to rest upon that hallowed hill. And so did the Man of Ard Macha seek to make the place and its gods to be forgotten forever.

Let us turn away from the gods of the sky, in their pride and vanity. They who seek to shatter the wheel, to establish dominion without end by the might of their catastrophic arms. Theirs is a reign that will never be overturned, they declare. By the force they wield the chthonic ones will never again threaten their imperial peace. And like, Patrick who served them, they will eradicate the memories of where we once stood and offered ourselves to the dirt. They will teach us that our forms are made to be bathed in light, that we must shun the dank and the rot, the hollows, and the mounds. That we should not seek the deep places and that we should make enemies of the powers that dwell there.

But we will remember, even in shadows that emerge from the woods at night. Forces that move invisible. Dreams that walk in shimmering moonlight. Stare deep into the dusky grove and do not look away, even when you feel the eyes of the Watcher pierce your heart and lay bare your most secret desires. Do not turn away! The shapes and thoughts that haunt you will tear your soul to shreds with birch branches if you turn from them. And we have turned indeed, to our doom. We have forsaken the powers and they have in turn withdrawn their blessings.

We shall no longer speak of Earth, the Mother. At least not the Mother that gives and gives and gives until her teats are withered and raw from the cruel teeth of her most wretched and ungrateful spawn. No, if we speak of a Mother it shall be a one that is deep and clouded and dark and full of terror. Not without love but a love that is weird and mysterious and to be feared. A love that is not understood but craved. A maddening love that comes upon us in the light of the moon. A love we would do anything to protect.

The mother does not give without claiming what is hers in return. The Earth demands blood. The machine-world, offering nothing but ash and bitter hate, will in time make a sacrifice of us all. It will blot the very sun itself and the universe will fly apart. The old ways are tied to the earth, tied with bonds of blood, terror, and love. In the brutality found upon Cromm Cruaich’s mound there is a mercy that we cannot understand in our world of silicon and cold metal. It lies in understanding that the gods of the earth will take what they are owed, whether it is offered freely or not.

We must submit, not to an external authority but to a truth that haunts us, to a vision that rises up from from the flooded landscape of our dreams. We must dig through the silt of ages to find those remnants, those long buried shapes and structures that moulder, that hold up generations of ivy and moss. Our souls are choked with ruins, littered with archaic forms that drift among layers of sediment, driven along by titanic geological currents. The memories of the ancestors wander among those forgotten paths. Memories that disturb and unsettle us. Aboriginal, they guide us over silent waves to a lonely shore beneath a metal-grey sky. The silence is thick and unmoving. It lulls into the endless sleep of ages and in that sleep, we find ourselves.

Standing among crystalline palaces at the edge of history, we imagine that we are far from a nightmare world of stones and blood. But the one we have exchanged it for is more horrible by far. Though we walk through utopia, asteel fantasy, our souls remain archaic.

Terror lies in the heart of love.


Ramon Elani

Ramon Elani holds a PhD in literature and philosophy. He is a teacher, a poet, a husband, and a father. He recently retired from being a cage fighter. He wanders in oak groves and speaks to trees. He casts the runes.

More of his writing can be found here.