Varg Vikernes Sorcery and Religion in Ancient Scandinavia

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.



Marie Cachet Le Besoin d’Impossible

To begin with, we should make it clear that whatever is written here on the ideas proposed in Le Besoin d’Impossible by Marie Cachet are the sole interpretation in the understanding of this reader. French is not my strong suit, though it is manageable in writing, and though Cachet’s propositions are set forth in a very formal and logical manner, metaphysical treatises are not known for their accessibility. That said, I am glad to have been able to make it through with a dictionary in hand and a resonance with many of the ideas being put forth, especially towards the end.

It should be clear that this is but a casual, and rather short, commentary on and an emphatic recommendation of the book; the book is short but dense, and is designed to take the reader step by step in logical derivations. It is not precisely a ‘fun’ read, for it is straight up metaphysics, but it does make some bold and interesting points as part of the journey of reason it takes the reader on. If I have misunderstood, I hope the reader and Marie Cachet will forgive me; on my part, I also try to elaborate my own thoughts on this wonderful book.

It is also worth mentioning that upon finishing this book, it struck me that it is actually an excellent formal companion to Varg Vikernes’ Reflections on European Mythology and Polytheism, also published in 2016. Besides that, it seemed to me like the remarks of Cachet towards the end of her book pertaining artistic creation and the ‘temporalization’ of the Eternal in them were an excellent descriptor of the whole intent of Burzum‘s music.

§ The Need for Transcendence

   The main idea of Le Besoin d’Impossible is that humans not only have a predisposition towards the need of finding meaning in the things they do and their life as a whole, but are even hardwired to do so. That means that the moment they find themselves in a position where all transcendent ideas, such as religion, myth, and ideals in general, are taken away from them, they enter a cycle of despair. These ideas are understood beyond what moderns would refer to as ‘superstition’ or ‘mere beliefs’, and require the comprehension of a different mode of thought in a world where religion attains the character of the objective in the eyes of the individual.

The topic is rather well-suited for our modern world, in which a greater part of the population has fallen into this mode of thought; the lower way of life that cycles between the need to survive and the need to escape from the life of survival. Today, humankind believes it has been freed from what it sees as the chains of religion; in truth, it has only changed a kind of religion for another. When before it looked towards the gods and the priests, perhaps, now it looks towards the government and the science establishment. Whether people want to dispute the validity of such claims does not change the fact that people in general do treat these authorities as their new anchor for meaning and purpose.

 The book is divided into three parts in which it presents the claim, elaborates a metaphysical core of thought and thence presents a higher conclusion based the first two. Not deeming myself completely in command of the arguments, I will only briefly explain what each of the three chapters of the book were roughly about.

The first was an establishment of certain premises for the book, including the idea of despair as motivation in modern man to surrender to faith (concentrating on the Christian religion); how this also part of the entertainment humans look for to distract them from the desperation that arises from their own realization of how little they understand and have within themselves. The book necessarily starts from an accurate condemnation of Darwinist Evolution and Freudian Psychology as the companions of the Judeo-Christian faith as the main promoters of guilt and thence blind faith in modern man.

§ We live the Beauty of Eternity

The second chapter goes into a brief metaphysical exposition of the point of view that matter is all there is. That space may permeate matter but that there is no such thing as space without matter; furthermore, that time is the evolution (the change) of matter. This seems to be roughly put together with the Descartian idea of cogito ergo sum (something I was never convinced of, and now am sure is not valid —think hard enough on your own, or read Kant), to then, basically, put forth the idea that all there is for us to know is what is experienced. The latter I consider, perhaps, one of the weakest points in the book, if only because I digress with Descartes.

More interestingly, and arising from the trinity of existence in space, matter and time, is the idea of Eternity within each moment. Such a derivation needs but self-honesty and a logical, mentality stripped off sophistry and unnecessary convolutions that can see through to the bases and simple origins. The idea is that your recollection of the past is merely a present interpretation of reconstructions and hints of memory, the future that has not come to pass does not really exist, and so all that you really have is a continuous fluxion of states that we call the immediate present.

Since in that moment we are perceiving a finite bit of the total of existence, that is, we as finite beings are presencing the all that is, by our available means of perception, essentially infinite, we can say that Eternity, the Eternal, as a whole, is captured or peeked through in every waking moment. That is to say, the window is there, and we are living through it throughout or continued existence. The option to actually stop and witness it or to keep summoning the imagined past or the non-existent possible set of future situations is a decision. The door is there, says Marie Cachet, and it is the individual who chooses to open it as much as he will, or to close it completely.

Le point de vue seul doit changer pour transposer le sujet humain et fini dans l’Éternité, le présent. En effet, le corps, ou même la conscience humaine, est fini(e) et limité(e), mais l’Éternité est bien présente, partout, et l’unique présent. Nous pouvons comparer l’accès de l’homme à l’Éternité à une porte que le sujet peut ouvrir plus ou moins ou fermer totalment.

§ Knowledge of the maze we tread

 As a direct consequence of the derivation of the accessibility of the Eternal in the experience of every conscious human being, the idea of divinity is discussed. Divinity as an amoral (as in lacking the idea of good and evil) state of what is and what permeates reality, as opposed to what humans project onto it. Our relationship to this Eternal, and to the Divine, would appear to lie in the degrees in which we are aware of it and in how we think of it or make use of it.

Its amoral —neutral, as Cachet says— nature in itself is uncaring in the human moral sense; and any distinctions lie only in how close we humans get to perceiving it as it is. Cachet wanted us, from the beginning of the book, to move away from the modern concept of subjective and objective as if they were dichotomies that represent what is real and what is imaginary. And so this ‘subjectively’ perceived divinity is ‘objetive’ in that it is a thing in itself, though perhaps not in the sense that modernity uses the term to signify ‘scientific material confirmability’, and must be approached through inner changes of oneself.

In tandem and as an introduction the concept of will is presented; the will not as a creator, but as the instrument that enables us to redirect and channel forth the Eternal —the infinite— into finite forms that are reproducible in one way or another. Will is also presented as the attraction between spaced out particles of the eternal, which through this separation and polarity create every kind of motion and ultimately represent love at both a higher and more earthly levels.1

The crown of the book, and of these beautiful derivations, is found in the arrival at the traditional idea of the labyrinth of life lived with a transcendental awareness; that in presencing the Eternal, and so connecting with the Divine in ourselves and in everything else, we may rise in that Present and contemplate the maze that life is; in so doing we descry the center of the maze, and so attain our own secret purpose and meaning.

Such words may appear as mere words to those who will not plunge into the depths on their own and need to be guided; but such a feat, and such a world, can only be attained and traveled to through that contemplation and by that stopping of time into essentially what is. To do so is an individual effort, and one that requires simply that one directs one’s senses; it is a simplifying towards what is always there, and away from the complex illusions that abstractions and hubris have created.


It bears mentioning that this idea echoes ancient Indian cosmogony, and Greek philosophy; both of these also find more obscure and esoteric correspondences in the incredibly ancient lore of Hyperborean Europe. More than a few serious works have been written on this topic, but a certain one should be referenced that touches on the traces of Scandinavian lore which can be found in Vedic lore with remains in certain vestiges in ancient Persia. These three constitute the main trilogy of ancient Aryan foundation, as I understand. The interested reader should refer to The Arctic Home of the Vedas, by Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

Burzum The Ways of Yore

Burzum The Ways of Yore has, in the two years which have elapsed since its publication, received a very odd mixture of reactions.  It has either been completely shunned as the work of a madman writing nonsensical empty music, or intuited to be a work of deep spirituality by those attuned to the simple and balanced as a way to beauty.  I am willing to assert that the reason for this is that it operates completely outside the paradigm of modern music.

The music is a mixture between Burzum’s ambient-styled tracks and ancient European music as one would hear in the Anglo-Saxon harp/lyre style1, for instance.  The result leans heavily towards the latter, however, leaving even fans of Burzum who only perceive form but not essence at a loss. As a whole, Burzum’s transition from black metal forms into dark ambient ones, and then further into ancient-traditiona Europeanl hybrid crossings with his own ambient intuitions served as a clear separator amongst the audience. It separated those who attune to the music’s basic elements and are not nailed to modern prejudices or the necessity of being convinced by words and apparent conjurations.

Some among the most ignorant in the audience may want to jump at the swastikas they see on the cover, even going as far as condemning it as a covert sign of white supremacy excusing itself with the fact that swastikas were present in Buddhism hundreds of years ago and continue to be used to this very day.  What is required here is a lesson in the symbol of the Swastika and its 12,000-year-old history.

“The earliest swastika ever found was uncovered in Mezine, Ukraine, carved on an ivory figurine, which dates an incredible 12,000 years, and one of the earliest cultures that are known to have used the Swastika was a Neolithic culture in Southern Europe, in the area that is now Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, known as the Vinca Culture, which dates back around 8,000 years.”

—Ancient Origins, ‘The symbol of the Swastika and its 12,000-year-old history’

The allusion is made to ancient pagan and naturalist religions of Europe existing long before the invasion of the desert religions2, and surviving in mutilated and morphed forms in spite of it.  A good companion to this album, apart from the obvious Reflections on European Mythology and Polytheism by Varg Vikernes himself, are books like The Mabigonion, a cycle of Welsh legends translated in 1877 by Lady Charlotte Guest.

1 One of the most prominent performers of the ancient lyre today is Michael Levy. Ironically, he has increasingly been promoted as a player of Greek traditional music despite his true background and experience, perhaps as a very smart marketing move towards a more profitable market.
An at least cursory understanding of the themes and concepts explained by Sir James Frazer in his The Golden Bough is needed to grasp Varg Vikernes current stance on European art and traditions, I believe.

Varg Vikernes Reflections on European Mythology and Polytheism


The present book is, as the title suggests, a series of reflections and afterthoughts regarding the ancient and original European traditions now generally denominated as “paganism” (a word used by the Christian world to refer to anything different in a derogatory manner).  The study of European traditions is taken up and explored by Vikernes, not with the distanced aloofness of a scholar trying to match foreign theories to a strange phenomenon completely disconnected from himself, but as someone who cares for it as someone would care for a loved one  —a living thing in the full sense of the expression (for it certainly is, a point I am sure Vikernes would agree with).

The present article will briefly go through what the writer considers the main themes and their attitudes that stand out when one first reads this book.  It is important, however, to point out that it becomes apparent to the sensitive reader that Reflections on European Mythology and Polytheism has a rather personal touch to it, like most of what Vikernes does, and one feels as if he were sitting close by talking and expounding on the topics at hand, immersing both himself and the listener in a magical well of knowledge that melds with experience.  It mixes the giving out of facts with insightful pointing out of relations and cross-references, sprinkling the discussion of certain topics throughout different texts so that they build up in the mind of the reader.

“To me only the beauty of European polytheism remains”

— Varg Vikernes, ‘The Lord of the Elves’

These are given in a rather unapologetic tone proper of esoteric treatises which do not make claim to a perfection of the text but which deem the reader worthy enough to receive the statements as they are and then proceed to judge on their own.  The mistaken modern view that  expects a writer to keep apologizing and self denigrating so that the reader does not think he is pretentious is a waste of energy, time and material resources.  If only people would consider content before rhetoric, and then proceed to the discourse only after they have understood the value and significance inherent in the content itself, something close to a proper understanding of things would be possible for the public.

§ Correction of outsider interpretations


Christians destroying symbols of European culture.

The most important feature of Vikernes’ writing and attitude that should be considered as the most important for even the casual reader is the attempt he is making at correcting the biased and often twisted view of ancient European traditions.  Somehow, in the sudden upsurge of views that sought to bring respect and awe for traditions of the East as well as American aboriginals and other foreign groups, the establishment forgot that before the invasion of Christianity, Europe also had equally valid and rich customs that deserved the same degree of respect.  Furthermore, they forgot that these being their own, they deserved an even larger amount of attention.

This may, at first, sound like bigotry, but it can be easily shown it is not when one points out that it is natural and proper that the Chinese person protects and seeks to understand the ancient cultural roots of his folk1; so are the Quiches of Guatemala encouraged and protected that they may cultivate their Mayan roots free of the invading oppression of colonial Christianity and sterile modernity.  Why should it be any different for the peoples of Europe?

“When I — arrogantly as some have claimed — said in the foreword to my book Sorcery and Religion in Ancient Scandinavia that there are no good books (at least not in English, German or Scandinavian) out there about our mythology and religion, to some degree save The Golden Bough, by the anthropologist Sir James Frazer, this is what I mean; just about everything we know about our mythology from these books is seen through dense Judeo-Christian filters and interpreted in a Judeo-Christian light, it is twisted and distorted, and is unrecognisable.”

—Varg Vikernes, ‘Shadows amongst the Ruins’

The point he makes is very important because while we have striven to correct our views on, for instance, Hinduism, so that we can try and understand (as far as that is possible for us as foreigners) them from their own perspective, no such attempt has been made by academia to understand the original traditions of Europe, we have been seen as lowly enemies by the invading and strangling thought of Christianity as an aristocratic way of controlling large masses of people.  Thus arose the image of the Witch-cult2 as an enemy of all that was “proper and good” in the eyes of the authorities throughout Europe, while these were most probably just the extreme expressions of the actual local culture.

1Mythos gives rise to Culture and Culture gives rise to Folk, and Folk gives rise to Race.”, K.

2 The reader may want to refer to Margaret Alice Murray’s book, The Witch-cult in Western Europe; though certainly not perfect and based on conjectures from sparse evidence, this is a book despised on an ideological level because it challenges the standard conception people have of Europe to the point that they start to panic when confronted with the idea of a Europe unified by underground expressions of original culture.

§ A physical and psychological naturalism


It is important to clarify that, to the best of my knowledge, Varg Vikernes is a traditionalist of the most pragmatic kind. The esoteric overtones which his subject matter contains are cut down by him after the manner of Sir James Frazer himself, who saw anything beyond material explanations as mere superstition.  Now, Vikernes does not strike one as having this opinion, for he believes in inspiration and the power derived from symbols and stories.  For him, however, this is simply manifested on the psychological level that then may transfer that into physical action.

This in itself does not contradict occult thought and is perfectly in line with it.  But we can perceive from the text that nothing higher than that in the manner of spheres of existence or levels of manifestation are implied. For him, the interpretation is of the most flat one can give to Jungian explanations of a collective tradition functioning through interaction with the human unconscious.  What must be clarified here is that Vikernes is not a mystic per se, because there is no conscious and direct search for a purposely created space.

The naturalism that he seems to follow with stoic resolution, however, clearly opens up a channel and we see in him, his thought and his artistic work traces of greatness and inspiration.  It might be further observed that contrary to the pretentiousness of self-aware mystics or would-be occultists of the common variety who make overt attempts at being something by following trends in fashion and ways of speaking, there is no such attempt at pretending in Vikernes’ work.  On the contrary, we find a constant flow of observations, facts, and conclusions which are then sprinkled with stout opinions.

We see action before speech, we see concrete results and facts instead of the empty banter of he who claims to experience but has nothing to show for it.  Not that proving your personal journey to someone else is important, in fact, the contrary is closer to the truth.  But Varg Vikernes stands out as an honest man of deep thought who exemplifies through action who he wants to be, offering us in his book the results of his meditations, as it were, through the eye of his own knowledge and experience.

§ Judeo-Christianity as alien to European customs


The other prominent theme that runs throughout the whole of Vikernes’ work is his emphasis the fact that Christianity as stemming from Judaism is an alien religion that was imposed on European peoples.  That this is still contested by the public at large is unsurprising for they have been brought up believing that Christianity is essentially a European religion.  It is incumbent upon the writer to reassure the reader that Christianity was in fact an artificially adopted tactic by the aristocracy which was then used as a tool to oppress and manipulate the native people of Europe.

We do not need to refer at all to any of the books written by Vikernes to confirm this as anyone acquainted closely with Charlemagne’s unification of Western Europe and his involvement and use of religion to this end will already understand this.  The reason why any conquering aristocracy might want to make use of Christianity rather than stick to old religions of local variations is simple: Christianity’s character is essentially universalist. This means that anyone and everyone should be brought under its banner. In this, it mirrors Islam, which seeks to spread its righteousness like black clouds over the whole of the world (and the universe, if they could).

To make a clear distinction here, completely unrelated to the book under discussion, although Judaism is the indisputable father of those two other monotheistic religions, they do not share that attitude of ideological conquering, for Judaism is more of a closed ethnic and tribal authentic tradition that seeks to separate itself from outsiders through custom and race.  Vikernes does not speak about Judaism itself except in some passing light remarks, but we here recommend the reader to inspect books such as Maurice H. Harris’ Hebraic Literature, to understand both differences and roots of Christianity and Islam in Judaism. It is, furthermore, important in understanding its difference with European tradition as seen in Germanic, Celtic and Hellenic traditions, for instance.

Europe has a unifying general concept throughout its geographical territory that is expressed in particular modes that can be easily and directly correlated without much effort.  These all express the values of individual freedom and the value of a personal strength of will, even when under a leader and a duty towards tribe.  This contrasts highly with Judeo-Christiantiy which is, as a famous philosopher once said, “slave morality”. European tradition is one imbued with pride and one that seeks to find its place within a nature it admires and worships as mother. The desert religions, on the other hand, see everything as given to them by god to use as they see fit, and they see humans or themselves as separate from it.  Fundamental contrasts like this one go on and on.

“Man has a free will and is left to find his own way around in the universe, but he is not free from the consequences or the impulses of nature.  In ancient times this free will was seen as a sorcerous tool; a man with a strong will could by the force of his sheer will cause different effects in the world.”

—Varg Vikernes, ‘The Power of Will’

§ A glorious rebirth

Despite the permanent theme of European traditions in opposition to Christianity, the dominating tones in Reflections on European Mythology and Polytheism remain in the reverential and calmly explanatory.  There is, furthermore, a very proud and hopeful outlook that believes in the rebirth of a European population that will reach back and connect with its original roots.  This is completely in line with the traditional beliefs of Europeans, which see after the twilight of the gods, the rule of new and perhaps lesser gods who then become the old gods themselves. This last bit cannot be understood correctly when Germanic/Scandinavian religion is sought to be Christianized or understood in terms of sterile anthropology or Freudian terms, but becomes readily apparent when understood and inspected from the inside out.

“Return to your roots! Like any tree out there, you too need your roots to survive: to grow tall and old, strong and beautiful.”

—Varg Vikernes, ‘The Roots of Europe’