A certain false dichotomy seems to hang over black metal in modern times in that what is known as “satanic” black metal is seen as separate and almost opposed to “pagan” black metal. Further confusion ensues when the ignorance of proponents on either side distort the nature of either by assigning modern overtones of atheistic/agnostic individualism and materialism to a metaphorical Satanism (as per moronic pandering of Anton Levi, and further distracted with the fancies and distortions of The Golden Dawn), and modern hippie interpretations to Paganism (distorted by teenage Wicca mentalities). The original and true nature of both is rather close, being one and the same when understood historically and in the correct folkish context. When we understand that the expressions of natural satanism are derivations of old, dark witch cults of Europe that took on the symbolism and names imposed on them by Christianity, and that European Paganism refers to an incredibly diverse yet commonly-rooted set of cultures that followed the same ideas and believed in the same pantheistic polytheism, it becomes easy to see that the former is a part of the latter.
A widespread culture of human sacrifice and a warrior-like lifestyle beyond light and dark, good and bad, was a key feature of this underlying and dormant ancient culture of Europe. The Ancient Cult that then went underground and later became transformed into something seen as strictly satanic was in origin a tradition that worshiped a Horned Figure with which scholars of so-called pre-history are very familiar. Particularly interesting and evident findings can be found in respect to sacrificial cultures of Europe when studying the so-called Celts (there is no one such people that go by that name, but it is rather a family of closely-linked cultures). Scary for many to the point of ignoring all evidence in favor, these cults have managed to survive throughout the centuries, possibly up to this date, though in ever decreasing numbers and in places where rural life and ancient customs are greatly and naturally preserved. The organic heirs of such sensing and aural traditions have maintained a proper line of oral and cultural inheritance.
The music of Graveland in Thousand Swords is a praise to the warrior aspect of this culture, where darkness is implied and grim reality communicated through raw music. We do not find here a romanticized picture of war, but a functional bloodlust purposely channeled in order to repel a foreign menace that threatens to destroy what makes the warrior and his people who they are. There is an ennobling of the whole of reality that is traditional and transcendental rather than romantic; struggle, death and pain are seen as a nondescript part of living (which is as a whole and in itself meaningful) and not covered up by euphemisms or seen under superficial idealizations. Beauty in the eyes and lips of the traditional noble spirit is beyond appearances and devoid of the pretense characteristic of overtly intellectual or artistically decadent cultures.
Few will understand the nature of a natural and honorable nobility towards which some of us would strive, such is the nature of nobility that only a minority will glimpse its true sense and meaning beyond forms distorted by materialism and luxury, and far less the elite who will embody such high ideals through an exeatic existence1.
“For some – it is horsemen; for others – it is infantry;
For some others – it is ships which are, on this black earth,
Visibly constant in their beauty. But for me,
It is that which you desire.
To all, it is easy to make this completely understood
For Helen – she who greatly surpassed other mortals in beauty –
Left her most noble man and sailed forth to Troy
Forgetting her beloved parents and her daughter
Because [ the goddess ] led her away ….
Which makes me to see again Anactoria now far distant:
For I would rather behold her pleasing, graceful movement
And the radiant splendour of her face
Than your Lydian chariots and foot-soldiers in full armour ….”
—Sappho, Sappho: Poetic Fragments, Fragment 16, translation by David Myatt
1 Defined as “going beyond and transgressing the limits imposed and prescribed by mundanes, and by the systems which reflect or which manifest the ethos of mundanes – for example, governments, and the laws of what has been termed society”.