Varg Vikernes Sorcery and Religion in Ancient Scandinavia

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Having read the basic ideas and stories of Scandinavian mythology is relatively enough to delve into Vikernes’ main work on the traditions of his forebears. However, there is an even more important requirement without which the typical, ‘educated’, modern type of human being will not get through or will not be able to learn what can be learned here; namely, one must come to terms with the fact that all interpretations and readings of such distant traditions are necessarily but hypotheses and fallible interpretations, where such consideration most definitely includes those hypotheses and fallible interpretations expounded by members of academia. In presenting his ideas in this book, Vikernes would seem to be stepping beyond an imaginary border circumscribed by generations of scholars interpreting Scandinavian traditions, but the fact of the matter is that it is seldom taken into serious account, until people like Vikernes come about, that the vast majority of these interpretations came through an unsuspecting filter of Christian-based morality and referencing. It is taken for granted that if you append more sources, then it must mean that your claims are more rightly justified; in reality and outside the classroom, all manner of intermediary references (that is, references not to the original people and artifacts but rather to provably distorted or secondary sources) can be and usually are entirely off the mark.

Vikernes opens the book by stating that the reader should get rid of all previous conceptions he has of Scandinavian mythology; furthermore, he directly requires from the reader to convince themselves that what Vikernes is saying is the truth, period. If taken conventionally, this is not just an incredibly arrogant and self-entitled way of starting a book, but it is rather strange, not to mention alienating. For those used to exploring truth rather than the appearance of correctness and methodology (to which we can reduce most of the sociological and anthropological illusory “sciences”), there is actually very little problem with this. While now people are used to asking from those claiming something to produce “evidence” or give “reliable references”, which are both but mirages more often than not, it should really be no problem for the reader to verify many of these claims by doing their own research, thereby relieving a book of this kind from that burden so that it can focus on the delivery of original ideas, as indeed Vikernes does here.

To credit of its author, the present book only gets better as one keeps on reading, having started with a plausible yet highly conjectural piecing together of clues regarding the origin of traditions, Vikernes uses this basis as a way to introduce the reconstructed/reinterpreted tradition without yet revealing in full the inspiration for his machinations; he then introduces the runes and their properties, then takes us through a rather esoteric interpretation of the Voluspa, to finally culminate in a highly inspirational series of conclusions and explanations that give sound purpose to the expounded tradition beyond mere plausibility. To those with experience learning from philosophy in an organic way, rather than through rote-memorization or by a ‘methodological’ approach, and even more so those used to apprehending from esoteric sources on a variety of subjects and differing opinions, this book can be the source of an immense wealth of details and relations that are not only plausible as a reconstruction but also applicable as a practical system that brings life to a dwindling culture through tradition proper. Tradition, though a firm pole around which the times and more passing features change, does not, as some complain, imply a total stagnation; rather, if it is used to prop up life and excellence, it can be the most effective platform for efficiency unto greatness.

Nevertheless, there are a few things that could be said in favor of the possibility of supplying this book with a heftier dose of explanatory content. While there are some claims that, as we said before, can be verified by the reader on their own without that being too much trouble, the development of interpretations could not be hurt by a more explicit detailing of the process which led to that conclusion, especially as those interpretations are surely based on specific passages, and certain knowledge of culture that can be indeed found as part as more thorough researches. To the first, easily-verifiable claims belong those like Vikernes’ mention that oak trees tend to get struck by lightning far more often than other trees in the forest (and which he relates to the mythical relation between Loki, Baldr, and his interpretations of customs thereof); while some rather wild and completely non-apparent interpretations of Voluspa verse-groupings through the application of certain rune-rows (which falls in the realm of divination, a well-respected art if coming from people with discernment), and which interpretations Vikernes consistently ultimately applies to customs and beliefs in the most practical way, in a manner after Sir James George Frazer. The latter kind of claims would be immensely enriched if some comparisons and parallels could be drawn between Vikernes’ thought process and what we read in the huge tomes of Frazer’s The Golden Bough. Would it also be too much for Vikernes to reveal more occult sources of insight?

It would not seem to far-fetched, to someone used to reading that sort of literature, that the compact fluidity and efficiency of the book is intended as an esoteric and practical delivery: for those already opened and eager to learn, rather than eager to debate and be convinced, as is the rule in a highly hubristic modern society.