One year ago Clint, Donovan and I started Elhaz Ablaze. The idea to have a website where we could express and explore our idiosyncratic and potent brands of mystical Heathenism had been pressing on us for a long time.
Finally our empty talk reached critical mass and, with my discovery of the crappy but easy-to-use Weebly blog system, Elhaz Ablaze was born. It was (and is) an ugly site to look at, but we hoped that we could fill it with enough worthwhile content that readers would not mind.
Of course, we had absolutely no idea who would be interested in what we had to say. As far as we knew, the notions that we have come to refer to under the rubric of Chaos Heathenism would fall on dead (as opposed to deaf) ears.
Actually I have to admit that I hoped to provoke hate mail for the controversial opinions we and our guests have presented. But to date we have gone unscathed (much to my Loko chagrin).
Instead we have discovered that people actually seem to like our stuff – and moreover we seem to have some kind of readership, at least guessing from the Google Analytics thingy I set up in early January.
Since January 4, 2009 we’ve had some 1,238 unique visitors, 2,763 visits and 8,693 page views. Not bad for what must be one of the weirdest Heathen/magic/martial arts sites on the ‘Net! I have no idea what the patronage was like prior to that unfortunately.
I don’t know whether we are preaching to the converted (perverted?) or whether we are actually opening folk to new perspectives – I’d like to hope for a bit of both.
Certainly we felt terribly unrepresented by the bulk of Heathen writings out there and we hoped that we weren’t the only ones. Consequently, one of the joys of Elhaz Ablaze is that it has put us in touch with folk on similar wavelengths to ourselves. It’s a relief to know that we’re not alone.
I’m also pleased that we could invite Matt Anon to join our group. I’ve known Matt electronically for years and we are like cosmic siblings (despite having never met), so to have his ideas presented alongside mine is a deep privilege.
One of the fundamental principles of Elhaz Ablaze is our commitment to the notion that there is only OPINION in Heathenism: there is no orthodoxy and anyone who claims a monopoly on truth in such a sketchy cultural manifestation as ours is a fraud.
Hence, I love that we contradict ourselves and disagree with one another. Nietzsche says that the more permissive a culture is, the stronger it is; the more restrictive it is, the more brittle and weak it is. We want Heathenism to be strong, and therefore it must be pluralistic. I’m proud that Elhaz Ablaze has become a model for this ideal.
That extends also to our guest writers, who do a great job of both agreeing with and contradicting both us and each other! I might not entirely agree with, say, Sweyn’s views about modernity (see his articles in the guest section), but I’m proud to offer them a home, to defy the widespread anti-modernity Heathen attitude that I myself tend to adopt.
For myself, I settled into a regular writing discipline from day one of the site and maintaining my journal has really assisted my spiritual development. Keeping a public diary, writing short monographs on magical subjects, etc, has enabled me to objectify the sometimes all-too-ephemeral unfolding of my spiritual experience.
This in turn has helped me to integrate the various facets of my existence to a much better degree than I have ever achieved – Elhaz Ablaze for me has been a powerful alchemical vessel. Although, of course, there is a great deal more work to come, and many a loose end yet to be brought to roost in Wyrd’s weave.
When I am lost to myself I can turn to my writings on this site and they anchor and reintegrate me into Mimir’s gift of memory, so essential to the nourishment of my personal microcosmic Yggdrasil.
Indeed, writing my journal has been like mapping out a vast and unknowable continent. Every entry I write feels utterly essential to my being once it is done. Some time soon I will read over everything I’ve done – it will be fascinating to retrace my steps over the last year (and the earlier essays I posted in particular).
This journal has been a profound anchor and way-station for my evolution (and in the last year I can barely start to express how much my life has changed, mostly for the better, though certainly not without great struggle and suffering).
Given it is our first birthday I feel it is high time to explain the name Elhaz Ablaze.
Elhaz is a rune of polarities – consider the Old English Rune Poem (this translation by the inestimable Sweyn Plowright):
Elk-sedge is native most often to the fen,
It grows in water; it wounds grimly,
Burning with blood any warrior
Who, in any way, grabs at it.
The fen, the marsh, the swamp, is a liminal place between land and sea. We know these were holy places to the arch-Heathens – the bog offerings archaeologists have found alone confirm this. Yet for all of its liminal openness, the marsh is warded by the elk-sedge – sharp grass, the points of the elk’s antlers, the reach of a deadly blade.
Elhaz represents, therefore, all the beauty and magic of vulnerability and mystery; but also the strength and integrity of the wild beast that dwells within the wetlands. It represents our desire to deal only with those on the ‘level’. This isn’t a question of elitism or anything silly like that, more a question of taste and time management.
Why Elhaz Ablaze? The fire to me represents the overflowing flames of inspiration, magic, possession, enlightenment, purification, celebration, Life itself. The two words in combination to me suggest the meeting of frost and flame, fire and water: in Elhaz Ablaze all oppositions are subsumed into a greater and dynamic whole.
In a sense, then, Elhaz Ablaze is the necessary conceptual twin to Chaos Heathenism. Chaos Heathenism is a philosophy built on the notion of Elhaz Ablaze – the Chaos offers us liminality and magic, the Heathenism offers structure and integrity. In combination they create a synergistic conflagration.
Where to from here? Speaking for myself – I am about to go travelling for six weeks and this journal will likely be fallow in that time. However I will soon post up my voluminous (circa 13,000 word) essay in response to Alain de Benoist’s book On Being a Pagan.
This essay was written originally for Heathen Harvest, where it will also soon appear, but they have graciously let me present it here on Elhaz Ablaze too. I figure it should offer plenty of mind-meat in my absence for those that care to read it!
A word on the creative process of this essay. I took extensive notes on the book as I read it, until my brain was super-saturated. Because the book provoked me emotionally as well as intellectually it put me into an intense fervour over the fortnight or so that I read it.
Then, the day before my current university course started, I sat down with all my notes and wrote the whole thing out in one sitting. Since then I’ve been tweaking a little bit and getting a little bit of feedback from a few trusted readers (Volksfreund deserves particular praise in this regard).
In short, the writing of the essay was itself an act of applied seidh. I utilised extended altered states of consciousness, full activation of my deep mind, variegated forms of trance and seething, runic incantations and the riding of my Wode – my personal River of Fire – into the arms of inspired creation.
I could not have written it with cold blood, but thankfully I did not have to. So when you read it, please see it for what it is – an exercise in poetry as much as philosophical discussion.
Now – what next? I really cannot predict what I’ll do once I get back from my adventures (or what I hope amount to adventures), and I’ll be very busy with my studies as soon as I get back. But I’m sure that wherever the creative impulse leads me, you’ll read about it right here.
Oh yeah, that reminds me, Ironwood’s debut album has received amazing press. We still have copies available – see below for some reviewer responses. If you like beautiful, emotionally intense folk music with some heavy excursions – or intense, provocative metal with dreamy acoustic explorations – plus magical lyrics and consciousness-altering atmospheres – well, check it out!