Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Christ among the tyrants

Gustaf Aulén as Bishop of Strängnäs 

Gustaf Aulén was a prominent Swedish Lutheran theologian, who eventually became Bishop of Strängnäs. The English-language “Christus Victor” is his most well known work. It was originally published in 1931 and is a hybrid between theological tract and historical study.

Aulén criticizes the two most widespread views of the Atonement, the “objective” satisfaction theory associated with both medieval Catholic Anselm of Canterbury and Lutheran orthodoxy, and the “subjective” view typical of liberal Protestantism. What both have in common is that they are man-centered. Aulén believes that the classical view of the Atonement was different from both. 

He associates the classical view with most of the Church Fathers, in particular the Eastern Fathers, but also the New Testament writers, Paul in particular. This view is God-centered, God being both the Reconciler and the Reconciled. God enters the world in order to fight the evil demonic powers which keep humans in bondage. The Incarnation, the miracles and the crucifixion are part of the same struggle, which ends in God´s victory over sin, death and the devil. The culmination of the struggle is the resurrection. At no point does God demand “satisfaction” from man (or from Christ´s human side). Man seems to be wholly passive in the drama, God and the demonic “tyrants” being the only actors. The perspective is dualistic, in that God and the Devil are seen as almost equal powers fighting over the rightful possession of man (ultimately, of course, God stands above the Devil).

Aulén admits that the classical view had some aspects which may seem weird or even repugnant to modern Christians. For instance, Jesus was often seen as a ransom *paid to the Devil* rather than a sacrifice offered up to God. By offering himself as a substitute for man, Jesus freed humanity from the Devil´s bondage, while simultaneously cheating the Devil, who didn´t know that Jesus was really God and could therefore escape his clutches (and destroy the Devil´s dominion). If this sounds familiar, it should – C S Lewis used these notions as the basis for his children story “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”. 

Aulén doesn´t seem to take this colorful language literally, but rather as symbolic descriptions of a mystical reality. Above all, he emphasizes that the Atonement cannot be thought about in rational terms – something Anselm and the Scholastics attempted to do. On Aulén´s interpretation, Martin Luther had the classical view of the Atonement, while later Lutheran theologians (beginning with Luther´s collaborator Melanchthon) once again tried to rationalize it. I assume Aulén preferred the classical view since it emphasizes that the Atonement is wholly an act of grace from God´s side – salvation really is “by grace alone”, whereas the Catholic view gives more leeway to a human-created penitential system. Lutheran orthodoxy is, to Aulén, the most absurd system, being essentially the Catholic system without the penances!

Another interesting point in Aulén´s exegesis is that the Law is one of the “tyrants” from which Christ sets men free, alongside sin, death and the Devil. Not only is the Law incapable of freeing men from sin, it actively leads them away from such a possibility, being a negative force in its own right. This is obviously Aulén´s criticism of legalism, although he never mentions what specific groups he is attacking – something tells me it isn´t Jews or Catholics (tiny minorities in Sweden in 1931). 

One thing that struck me when reading the book is that the classical view of the Atonement as exegeted by Aulén presupposes a view of the world as very radically evil and incapable of change. The world in a sense does legitimately belong to Satan and his host of “powers” and “principalities”. Humans have been snatched away from God´s realm through deceit and are now Satan´s property. From a certain perspective, even God is incapable of simply setting things right by fiat – he must incarnate in the evil world and gradually defeat the “tyrants” one by one, even to the point of suffering and dying. While main-line Christianity wasn´t officially dualist, it´s nevertheless obvious how such a view can morph into Zoroastrian-like dualism or Gnosticism. Even Aulén calls it “dualistic”. In a certain sense, God incarnates in a world which really isn´t his…

According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the fate of “Christus Victor” is an interesting one. The book seems to have inspired both “Paleo-orthodox” Protestants (who I assume are theologically conservative) and various pacifist and politically left-wing versions of Christianity. Since Aulén places so much emphasis on the Eastern Fathers, his work can probably be read with some profit by Eastern Orthodox believers, as well. The leftists, by contrast, like the idea of Christ fighting the powers of evil and eventually being executed by them – only to triumph in the end. Here, the “tyrants” are interpreted naturalistically, as actual earthly powers oppressing the weak.

With that, I end my review…and my reflections.

Vi tänker klippa bort dig från våra gasledningar åxå, din jävel

Eftersom Donald Trump tydligen klipptes bort när kanadensisk TV visade "Ensam hemma 2" kommer här en hel samling som sägs visa *alla* Trumps cameos. 

Den enda jag känner till sedan tidigare (förutom "Ensam hemma") är Trumps uppdykande i "Fresh Prince i Bel Air". Och nej, jag visste inte heller vem fan han var när det avsnittet sändes i svensk TV för många år sedan... 

Gott nytt år förresten! 

Falcons for full employment

America´s strangest job? Yes, falcons are used to scare away "nuisance birds" from valuable crops. This short clip features an abatement falconer at work. Interesting!  

I´m officially off the Trump Train

Hands off our pipelines, Donald. You´re fired!

Note about something else: the pundit interviewed says that Germany claims the Russian gas pipeline will help them switch to renewable energy! 

Er, what? 

This shows what a fucking fraud German "renewables" are. In reality, Merkel is making Germany dependent on fossil fuels from Gazprom, ha ha ha.

End it already, the silly propaganda I mean. 

It begins...

Russia, China and Iran just concluded a joint naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman in the Indian Ocean, close to the Persian Gulf. The clip above is from a Singapore news network. It seems the hunt is on...

An entertaining conspiracy theory

I commented on the Phantom Time theory before (see my review of Emmet Scott´s "A Guide to the Phantom Dark Age"), and here we go again! While I don´t believe in Phantom Time (see debunking in link below), I do suspect that our real history is much *longer* than official archeology would allow for, but that´s just a hunch from my part. At the very least, things such as civilization, agriculture or the human species as such are older than we believe. Which is the second "conspiracy theory" promoted by Sheridan in this clip... 

Phantom Time debunked

Harry Potter and the TERF Phoenix Brigade

Conservative-libertarian gadfly Paul Joseph Watson´s take on the recent drama around J K Rowling, after she supposedly attacked trans-people in a tweet. Trigger warning!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Meeting with gyrfalcons

Sigurdur Aegisson is an Icelandic ethnologist. I haven´t  been able to find his book on Icelandic monster lore, “Meeting with monsters”, and therefore had to rest contented with a small work on very real animals, “Icelandic trade with gyrfalcons: From medieval times to the modern era”, published in 2015. I readily admit that the book is very narrow, and of interest only to gyrfalcon aficionados, or perhaps hardcore history buffs suffering from an enduring obsession with the West Scandinavian theatre. But then, I know that at least one gyrfalcon aficionado is reading my blog on a semi-regular basis, so here we go… ;-)

The gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) is the largest falcon in the world, and the diurnal raptor with the northernmost geographic distribution, living in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia, including Iceland and Greenland. Due to its large size, the gyrfalcon has long been popular among falconers – we are talking about a sturdy raptor that can attack and kill even swans and herons! The gyrfalcon is famous for its many color morphs, with the Icelandic birds being grey, while many “Greenland falcons” are white. White gyrs in particular were highly prized by European and Muslim royals and aristocrats.

Aegisson has probably read every book on the topic of Icelandic gyrs and the trade in them. When Iceland was an independent “republic”, every landowner could freely catch and sell gyrfalcons which lived on his own land. As Iceland became more integrated into the Norwegian and Danish kingdoms, however, this gradually changed until the catching and trade in gyrs became a royal monopoly. Gyrs were taken to a gigantic aviary at Bessastadir, from which they were taken to Denmark onboard ships. The local peasants were forced to hand over cows and other livestock to feed the birds. This can´t have contributed to the bird´s popularity – indeed, most Icelanders regarded gyrfalcons as an annoying competitor (they often killed eiders), and as the international interest in falconry dropped during the 19th century, the falcons became fair game. At the same time that Iceland adopted the gyrfalcon as its national symbol, the actual birds were threatened with extinction!

Judging by Aegisson´s account, this extremely negative attitude to “Falco rusticolus” can´t have been the original one. During the Middle Ages, Icelandic imports were often paid in money earned by selling gyrfalcons to enterprising European traders. The author believes that huge amounts of flour, timber and wax could be imported by the Icelandic settlers in this manner, making the bird an extremely valuable commodity. This is interesting for another reasons, too. Note that the settlers weren´t self-sufficient, at least not during the High Middle Ages, and actually survived on their desolate island only thanks to large scale trade with the rest of Europe! Somehow, this isn´t the romantic view we all have of rugged Vikings living off the land (and the loot) in their own independent state… My guess is that later, as the gyrfalcon trade became a Danish royal prerogative, the locals developed very different feelings towards the unfortunate birds.

Aegisson believes that most Greenland falcons owned by European and Mideast falconers weren´t caught in Greenland but in Iceland. The white Greenland color morphs regularly migrated to Iceland, following icebergs which in turn attracted enormous flocks of seabirds.

Today, gyrfalcons are protected by law and their Icelandic population is relatively stable at around 2,000 birds. One fun fact not mentioned by the author is that DNA tests apparently show that falcons aren´t closely related to eagles, hawks, vultures and other raptors. Rather, they are on the same line of evolution as – wait for it – parrots and passerines! The idea of a gyrfalcon being an Arctic badass parakeet (or is it psittacoid) does have a certain intrinsic appeal, at least in my intellectual neighborhood…

With that, I leave you for now.

A conservative crusader?

“Theodore the Great: Conservative Crusader” is a curious book by Daniel Ruddy, arguing that Progressive American president Theodore Roosevelt (served 1901-1909) was actually an conservative. What makes the book doubly curious is that it seems to describe the politics of TR relatively correctly – I say “seems” since I frankly only skimmed some chapters (the book isn´t very well written) – and yet reaches the conclusion that his Progressive administration was conservative.

I suppose this means that Ruddy has a somewhat unusual definition of “conservative”. It includes people as diverse as Alexander Hamilton, William Howard Taft, John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. If there is any least common denominator at all, it´s the idea that a conservative must be an interventionist and imperialist, making Murica great again (or great for the first time, if you´re Hamilton). Conservationism, huge and federally-funded irrigation projects, a national bank, a fair shake for labor, direct election of senators and finding a third way between laissez faire and socialism are all “conservative” in the mind of the author. I admit that I could probably live with a conservatism of this kind! Ruddy likes the gold standard, too, at least in so far as it brought a certain stability to the economic system – his preferred solution is neither a cross of gold nor free silver, but national banking (which didn´t exist in the US at the time).

Yet, the author isn´t completely uncritical of TR. I don´t think he *really* likes the Bull Moose Party interlude in TR´s career, and he is also uneasy about the US involvement in World War I, interestingly enough given his strong imperialist stances in general. In several chapters, Ruddy actually expresses strong support for Theodore Roosevelt´s diplomatic peace initiatives (which earned TR the Nobel Peace Prize). He also sharply criticizes TR´s record on race. Despite the famous dinner with Booker T Washington, Ruddy believes that TR´s overall politics eroded Black support for the Republican Party, making Northern Blacks gradually embracing the ditto Democrats instead.

Personally, I think bully pulpit aficionado Theodore Roosevelt was pretty much what he claimed to be: a progressive (or Progressive). That is, a really existing progressive. Progressivism with a human face be damned!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my American readers! 

Man får ju ofrivilliga sympatier för KD eller nåt

Firar jul? 

Varför i helvete visar SVT en TV-serie om Jesu DÖD på JULDAGEN, har de ingen jävla biblisk allmänbildning över huvud taget, jag är inte kristen men verkar kunna mer om Den Heliga Skrift (och våra helgdagar) än herr redaktören på licens-TV, han verkar läsa kalendern som Fan läser Bibeln... 

It´s the Age of Aquarius

How do you enjoy the Age of Aquarius so far? Yes, we´re right in it. In fact, we´ve been right in it for about 140 years now. 

Bad news, huh? I mean, this is totally not what we expected, dude!

A new look at an old Devil, or Saturn is Satan after all

“The Fraternitas Saturni: History, Doctrine, and Rituals of the Magical Order of the Brotherhood of Saturn” is the self-explanatory title of this book by Stephen E Flowers. I have the fourth revised and expanded edition (the current one) published by Inner Traditions. A number of previous editions exist, one of them less self-explanatorily titled “Fire and Ice”. The Fraternitas Saturni is an occult order in Germany formed at some point during the 1920´s by one Gregor A Gregorius (real name Eugen Grosche). The order still exists, but probably doesn´t use the rituals described in this work. Apparently, the whole thing leaked out to the public during the 1960´s. Thus, Flowers is really telling us the old news here! Or so he (or the FS) wants us to believe…

The FS is mostly known for their connections to Aleister Crowley and the OTO. In true Crowleyan fashion, the FS places strong emphasis on ritualized sex magic. The rituals are described in this book - they are very bizarre. Apart from ritual sex (some of it group sex or homosexual in nature), the FS apparently also used illicit drugs, sacrificed animals and practiced something called “electric magic” (which could kill people at a distance). In the unlikely case that actual Gnosis interests you more than this gossip, LOL, sure, “The Fraternitas Saturni” does contain material on that, too.

The metaphysics of the FS are complex and convoluted, so only the barest outline will be attempted here. From Gnosticism, the FS have borrowed the idea that the material world is created not by “God” but by a subordinate Demiurge. This Demiurge is identified with Saturn-Satan and the Beast 666. In contrast to Gnosticism, however, the Demiurge is seen as a *positive* force. He is above all Lucifer, the Light-Bringer who rebelled against “God” (the Solar Logos). The rebellion and fall are positive and necessary for evolution and creativity to appear. So are death and destruction. Lucifer is the “higher octave” of Saturn (the divine being identified with the planet in ancient mythology). So is Uranus. Esoterically, initiation into the Saturnine mysteries is also an initiation into the sphere of Uranus, which represents the next stage of human evolution, the Age of Aquarius. (In traditional astrology, Aquarius was ruled by Saturn, while in modern astrology he is under the rulership of Uranus.)

The duality between Saturn-Lucifer and the Sun-“God” is tempered by a mystical unity between them. Deep inside itself, the Solar Logos has a dark “Satanic” streak, since darkness and chaos are more fundamental than creation and the light (compare Jacob Böhme). The demonic influence inside the Sun is identified as Sorath (Rudolf Steiner also uses this name for a demon in his system). In the same way, Saturn has a “solar” streak and will one day return to the Sun and be “redeemed”. As Demiurge, Saturn also has a “lower octave”. Those who fail to reach the higher octave of Lucifer will simply become blind tools of the Demiurge. The initiates are his brothers and co-workers. The FS adopted Hans Hörbiger´s bizarre “Glacial Cosmology” or “Welteislehre” as their own and coordinated it with their own esoteric speculations. In Hörbiger´s scenario, Earth was cast out of the Sun, and this was esoterically interpreted by the FS as “the fall of Lucifer”. Eventually, the Earth would fall back into the Sun and be destroyed – this is the FS “redemption”. (The original title of this book, "Fire and Ice", is presumably a reference to Hörbiger´s speculations.) 

The path to initiation is an arduous one, and includes meditation, visualizations, lodge rituals, magic with pendulums or mirrors, and the previously mentioned sex magic. The attitude fostered should be one of “compassionless love” (which to me as an outsider seems rather like no love at all). The Fraternitas Saturni believed the work of the order was guided by an anthropomorphic spirit-being known as the GOTOS, which embodied the order´s egregore (energy field created by collective magical rituals). Only the GOTOS could initiate the seekers into the higher Saturnine gnosis. A bust of the GOTOS reveals him to be strikingly similar in appearance to Gregorius, the founder of the FS! I get the impression that the practices of the FS were highly eclectic, drawing from both Eastern sources (such as kundalini yoga and Tantra) and Western ones (ritual magic of the “medieval” kind). The organization of the order resembled that of a Masonic lodge. The Eastern aspects apparently became more important after World War II. There is also a pseudo-Christian influence, since the Solar Logos is said to embody the Chrestus principle (Chrestus, not Christus). The name “Chrestus” obviously comes from Suetonius and some Christian apologists! By contrast, the Kabbalah only plays a minor role in the symbolism of the fraternity (i.e. they don´t use the qliphoth to describe their spiritual pass times).

While Flowers compassionlessly denies that the Brotherhood of Saturn are Satanists, I think most people will see them exactly as that. Sure, they represent a Thelemic Left Hand Path and so on. But that´s precisely what everyone outside the Crowleyan demimonde calls “Satanism”.

It seems Saturn is Satan after all.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

God jul

Insåg just att jag inte ordentligt önskat bloggens läsare (alla tre) en riktigt god jul, så jag gör det alltså nu!

Ready for unity at last?

“Det omaka paret: Tjeckernas och slovakernas historia” by Ingmar Karlsson is a recently published book in Swedish on a somewhat obscure topic (at least if you´re Swedish). Yes, it actually deals with the history of the Czechs and the Slovaks, two Slav peoples in Central Europe with a somewhat complex relation to each other. The author has previously published books on Turks, Kurds, Assyrians and European minority peoples (as in the Sorbs or the Ladino). I sure wondered why on earth he decided to tackle Czechs and Slovaks next! It turns out that Karlsson was Swedish ambassador to *both* the Czech Republic and Slovakia during the 1990´s. His wife is Slovak and his mother-in-law Czech (or perhaps Silesian Austrian). Karlsson met both Vaclav Klaus and Vladimir Meciar, the controversial top dogs on, respectively, the Czech and Slovak sides back in the days. Apparently, the meetings were pretty tense! 

As for myself, I have both Moravian, Slovak and Hungarian affinities, and therefore read “Det omaka paret” with great interest. I did manage to find perhaps four or five factual errors (some of them strange), but overall, I have to say that Karlsson knows his Czecho-Slovak history in and out, so much in fact, that I wouldn´t be surprised if he can read Czech and Slovak himself. In the end, even I learned a few things from Karlsson´s book, and I *do* read both languages, thank you.

Karlsson´s main point, which unfortunately is mostly true, is that Czechs and Slovaks (despite speaking mutually understandable languages) really have very little in common. The Czech lands, Bohemia in particular, were once the near-literal center of Europe, both politically and culturally. Prague was an important metropolis for centuries, from the 14th century to the 17th ditto. Bohemia experienced a “Protestant” Reformation a century before Martin Luther burst onto the scene in Germany. The Bohemian king was an elector of the “Holy Roman Empire”. Later, when the Czechs had been suppressed by the Germans, their lands were nevertheless industrialized, giving them an advantage over many other parts of Austria-Hungary when that empire came crushing down after World War I. By contrast, Slovakia was for almost 1000 years a Hungarian-controlled territory, simply known as Felvidék (“the Upper Lands” i.e. northern Hungary). For most of its history, it was strongly Catholic. It was also mostly populated by peasants, often impoverished smallholders.

When Czechoslovakia was formed in 1918, the Slovaks were actually fewer in number than the Germans, the most visible national minority in the new Czech-dominated republic. The Czech leadership declared Slovaks to be part of a united “Czechoslovak” nationality, an artificial creation supposed to boost the Czech numbers at the expense of Germans, Hungarians and other national minorities. While some Czechoslovakist Slovaks did exist, most Slovaks soon threw their support behind the Catholic nationalist Slovak People´s Party, which opposed the central government in Prague. Since this party eventually collaborated with the Nazis, they were banned after World War II. Still, the differences between the two brother peoples persisted. In Bohemia and Moravia, the Communist Party became the single largest party in the post-war elections. In Slovakia, most voters preferred the Democratic Party, the only viable non-Communist party. (This was before the Prague coup in 1948, when the Communists took over completely.) 

Under Communism, Prague centralism was (of course) the order of the day, something which benefitted ethnic Czechs (or at least ethnic Czechs who were Communists!), although *some* positive things did happen in Slovakia - Karlsson believes that the industrialization of this previous rural backwater was a good thing, despite being carried out by an authoritarian regime. The supposed "federation" between the Czech and Slovak "socialist republics" created in 1969 was mostly a sham reform. 

Flash forward to 1989, and the usual pattern reemerges. Immediately after the fall of Communism, political developments took a different course in Bohemia-Moravia compared to Slovakia. In the Czech lands, a mimic of the Western party system emerged, with conservative, liberal and Social Democratic parties. In Slovakia, the political field (after a Catholic Christian Democratic interlude) became dominated by nationalist populist formations with nebulous platforms and strongman leaders. One of the main political issues was the constant conflict with the Hungarian minority. (The German minority was forced to leave the Czech lands after World War II, making Bohemia and Moravia more ethnically homogenous.) While few people *really* wanted to dissolve Czechoslovakia, the inability of the Czech and Slovak politicians to create a federation that would satisfy both sides eventually set the stage for the country´s partition into two independent states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Thankfully, the divorce was peaceful. And inevitable, if Karlsson is right (and I think he is).

The last chapter deals with recent events in the two nations. One thing that struck me recently is that the Czech Republic and Slovakia has become *more* similar the last 20 years or so, not less, which was the tendency immediately after independence. Slovak politics are still dominated by a nationalist populist party, albeit a different one than during the 1990´s. Vladimir Meciar´s Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has been replaced by Robert Fico´s Smer. Critics charge the dominant political factions with rampant corruption, xenophobia and pro-Russian leanings. But the Czech Republic has *also* become anti-globalist, tacitly anti-EU and pro-Russian, even electing a Slovak populist billionaire named Andrej Babis Prime Minister! (Yes, the Czechs have elected a *Slovak* Prime Minister.) This tendency started already during the time of Vaclav Klaus, whose reputation as an orthodox neo-liberal Friedmanite seems to be overblown, to say the least. In reality, most of the Czech economy was subsidized by the government of this supposed market reformer, who opposed Czech EU membership and wrote positively about Vladimir Putin.

It´s almost as if Czechs and Slovaks have finally become ready to create that united nation-state which has proved so elusive throughout history.

The irony!

The Pre-Raphaelites go North

“Edward Burne-Jones: Prerafaeliterna och Norden” is both a book and an exhibition catalogue, the exhibition in question being an ongoing one at Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde, an art museum in Stockholm named after Eugen Napoleon Nikolaus, a Swedish prince and painter. The catalogue is bilingual, with the English pieces in the back and with smaller print. While Prince Eugen did meet the famous British artist Edward Burne-Jones, the connection between the latter and Sweden seems almost non-existent, making a huge portion of the book deal with the Arts and Crafts movement around William Morris instead (Morris was, of course, a friend and associate of Burne-Jones).

Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) was a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and a student of its founder, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The Pre-Raphaelites aimed to revolutionize British artistic life with their Renaissance and medievalist retro style of painting. Many of their works showed a mysterious red-haired lady (actually Jane Morris, the wife of William Morris) who has become almost iconic. Burne-Jones seems to have embodied the contradictions of the 19th century counter-culture almost to a t, being inspired by the High Church Oxford Movement while having contacts with utopian socialist William Morris, who in turn was inspired by national romanticism in both high medieval and Norse forms. Despite his “old fashioned” and mysterious style of painting, Burne-Jones´ artistic ideal was actually intensely democratic. Art should be popular and available to all. The decorative arts should be elevated to the same high level as fine pictorial arts. Apart from painting, Burne-Jones worked with relief sculpture, designing for stained glass, tapestry, embroidery, mosaic, ceramic, book illustrations and jewelry – a conscious way to break with the idea that some art forms were “higher” and some “lower”. Apart from being a Pre-Raphaelite painter, Edward Burne-Jones was an Arts and Crafts pioneer and a forerunner of international Symbolism.

As already indicated, Burne-Jones wasn´t really interested in the Nordic countries and their traditions, being more keen on Italy and Chaucer. Only a few of his artistic pieces show Norse motifs. It was William Morris who was the great Norse-phile, although Burne-Jones did accompany his friend on a trip to Iceland, even drawing a funny picture of a slightly obese Morris trying to climb an Icelandic mountain! And while Burne-Jones did like Wagner´s operas, he was more interested in their depiction of grail knights than their Nordic trolls and dragons. Prince Eugen met both Edward Burne-Jones and Everett Millais in London, but he preferred the artistic work and company of Symbolist painter George Frederic Watts. The main conduit of Pre-Raphaelite and Arts & Crafts influence in Scandinavia was Walter Crane. In Norway, Gerhard Munthe became the main Arts and Crafts promoter, famous for his illustrated edition of the “Heimskringla”. The painter Frida Hansen is considered more of a pure Pre-Raphaelite, due to her ethereal and spiritual style. In Sweden, Ellen Key, Elsa Beskow and the art shop Sub Rosa are associated with Arts and Crafts.

A weird facet of the catalogue is that it tries to connect the Pre-Raphaelites with fantasy fiction, including “A Game of Thrones”, and with non-binary gender identities. This is obviously a flirtation with contemporary pop culture and social agendas. It´s never followed up with any analysis anywhere in the catalogue – something of a pity, really, since many of the characters in Burne-Jones´ paintings *are* weirdly androgynous. 

And yes, I did visit the exhibition…

Merry Christmas and run for cover!

Yes, in Sweden we celebrate Christmas already on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is one gigantic hangover, while Boxing Day is...well, let´s just say nobody knows what the heck Boxing Day is for. Unless you want to start the traditional post-Christmas clearence sale shopping spree already on December 26. Some vendors on the web started it already yesterday! Come again?

For the record, I also believe that "shit´s changing". There has definitely been some kind of shift in consciousness in October, November and December. One manifestation is that Swedish pundits have pretty much given up and admit that Trump won´t be impeached, Brexit will happen, and the "liberal" world order is stone dead. No less! 

My fear is that 2020 won´t be the Aquarian super-year some optimists on the more spiritual end of things are claiming it will be, but rather something much, much darker and more negative. As in world economic crisis, wars and rumors of wars, pandemics and so on. The Fourth Turning is about to happen, and it won´t be pretty.

But sure, in a best case scenario, the people (and a section of the establishment?) will wake up and do what´s necessary to save our Titanic from those icebergs...

If not, well, I suppose there´s always the life boats...and the dragon ships.

Merry Christmas everyone!

It´s official: Christianity has ceased to exist

Thomas Sheridan claims that Christianity has been abolished (!) while a cult statue of Lucifer´s brother Diana mysteriously appears in Rome. I think Brother Thomas is exaggerating *slightly*, but sure, we´ll see... 

The Hare Krishna Brexit

I almost fell from my chair when I saw this. Yes, it´s Boris Johnson worshipping Krishna and Prabhupada in a Hare Krishna temple in the UK! I assumed the Monster Raving Loony Party stood for the hilarity in UK politix, but clearly I didn´t know half of it...

Imagine if somebody in 1968 would have written a science fiction story about a Tory PM in Britain doing puja at a shrine of the Hare Krishna freaks, the story would never be published, "too unrealistic".

Barking mad, barking mad I say!

But on the other hand, perhaps this opens up certain possibilities for one Tulsi Gabbard to actually run for the US presidency? 

The gadfly on the wall

Libertarian gadfly "Sargon of Akkad" trolls Greta Thunberg. Sure hope his bug-out plan in the event of climate change being real is better than boarding a German train with a first class ticket, LOL. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Jaha, det här förklarar ju saken

Pastor Kevin Swanson är inte den ende som hävdar att Greta Thunberg (hon på Tysklands-tåget) är besatt av demoner. Vår gamle vän Thomas Sheridan säger i ett klipp att Greta kan vara en *bokstavlig* demon (när ska Greta ändra sin Twitter-profil och skriva "Literally Demon"?). Och så har jag hittat den här...

Greta Thunberg is demon possessed and in need of an exorcism

Det knäppa med ovanstående är att bloggaren ifråga verkar vara frimurare...

Just det. Frimurare.

Det finns ju iiiiiinga konspirationsteorier om den rörelsen nehejdå.

PS. Jag har ju tidigare trollat Greta Thunbergs fans. Den här veckan trollar jag hennes kritiker istället. Har ni invändningar, grabbar, ta upp dem med Deutsche Bahne, ha ha!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Med andra ord, det gick åt helvete

Om ni bortser från hajpen om "framgångar" så är detta en bra sammanfattning av klimatmötet i Madrid. Ja, det gick som väntat käpprätt åt skogen.

Down and out at COP25

Skaffa hund, era jävlar

"Om du inte vill föda vaginalt, får du väl skaffa hund eller nåt". Ja, detta är en autentisk rubrik från DN - eller nästan autentisk (jag citerar ur minnet).

Japp, gott folk, Hanne Kjöller är tillbaka. Hennes knäppa misantropi fick visst inte plats under DN:s "vakna" U-sväng under migrantkrisen, men nu är högerspöket tillbaka med råge. Den här gången attackerar hon kvinnor som vill föda med kejsarsnitt.

Och nej, jag har inte heller läst artikeln, men jag vet hur hon brukade låta när det begav sig, så jag kan tänka mig...


Sunday, December 15, 2019


Funny how agnosticism always relates to the Christian God. I never met an Allah agnostic, a Buddha Amithaba agnostic or a Rama-with-the-ax agnostic. 

Personally, I´m a Teutatis agnostic. 

I mean, although it´s highly unlikely that the sky could fall down upon our heads at any moment while strolling the streets of Great Lutetia, there is a non-zero probability that it *could* happen. Btw, the sky could fall down upon us for other (and more likely) reasons, but that´s another discussion. 

Take care, kiddos, and see you all next week! 

Hurra för Brexit! DN svänger, biff från Brasilien nästa?

Det verkar som att U-svängen redan är i full gång. Apokalypsen är inställd, nu hurrar vi för Brexit och höjer våra profiter istället! Vågar man gissa att DN snart börjar förespråka import av biff från Bolsonarien också?

Graham Hancocks triumf

Intressant artikel, men författarinnan reflekterar aldrig över det märkliga faktum att "människor med djurhuvuden" verkar vara ett oerhört vanligt motiv förknippat med shamanism, men även vissa senare religioner. Man ser tydligen sånt skit om man trippar med ayahuasca också. Finns det något slags arketyper, trots allt? Eller finns faktiskt andar med djurhuvuden? :P 

Asiens grottmålningar kom före Europas 

Rudolf Steiner and Parvus won´t like this one

Learning Weltdeutsch in German Afrika

It was Germany, stupid. 

The end of American Empire

Time to link to “The National Interest” again. Michael Lind explains why the age of American Empire is over. The article is quite good, but it does have a few peculiar blind spots. For instance, it hardly mentions Russia. Nor does climate change exist in Lind´s universe. And yet, climate change will upset the geopolitical apple cards even more, for instance by making huge swaths of the Arctic Sea ice free. Still, a good introduction to the new world situation. 

Can America share its superpower status?

The lesbians did it

“The Progressive Era” is a doorstopper volume containing writings by Murray Rothbard on this particular period in American history (which to Rothbard also included the New Deal). Some of the material has been published previously in various libertarian journals. Other pieces were intended as chapters of a new work, a work Rothbard never finished. “The Progressive Era” was published posthumously in 2017 by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. I readily admit that Rothbard´s extreme brand of libertarianism doesn´t appeal to me. It also strikes me as contradictory. Rothbard supports open borders and identifies heavily with the Catholic and German Lutheran communities who supported the old style Democratic Party, but these people were hardly “libertarian”. One sure wonders what Rothbard said about the more recent mass immigration of Hispanics and Muslims to the United States? Especially since he supports alien voting rights… Many of Rothbard´s positions would make more sense if he had been a conservative communitarian, but even then, it´s difficult to see how a nation with 100+ such communities could possible survive in the long run, especially if it has a very weak central power. I sometimes get the impression that there isn´t *anything* (except government intervention and lesbianism) Rothbard isn´t willing to defend, from slumlords and child labor to misleading labeling and Tammany Hall politics. That´s “laissez faire” for you, right there.


That being said, “The Progressive Era” does contain interesting takes on a number of topics. Rothbard believes that the conflict between the Federalist-Whig-Republican tradition of cartelized Big Business or Big Government meddling into the life of the ordinary citizen, on the one hand, and the Jeffersonian-Jacksonian-Bourbon Democratic tradition of “individual liberty” and laissez faire economics, on the other, is at bottom a *religious* conflict. What Rothbard calls Pietists or sometimes “Pietistic Liberal Protestants” (PLPs) were pitted against Liturgicals (or rather Liturgicals and something we could call Creedals). 

The Pietists supported the Republicans and their moral crusades to remake all of society by stamping out sin, both individual vices such as drinking alcohol and political sins such as slavery. This moralistic holier-than-thou busy-body attitude rather seamlessly morphed into authoritarian social engineering of a liberal or socialistic slant. Both were based on the idea that the government has the duty to stamp out sin and injustice. Hence progressivism is really a secularized “left” version of Pietistic postmillennial Protestantism. Even feminism is part of this context, since it began as a “Christian” crusade against the saloon, the traditional gathering-place of patriarchal men. The typical Yankees of New England, who began as authoritarian Puritans, were Pietistic under Rothbard´s definition. So were many Scandinavian Lutherans. By contrast, the German Lutherans and most Catholics were Liturgicals, wanted to keep the government out of their communities, and believed that salvation was a private (or perhaps communitarian) matter solely mediated through their respective Churches, not through government institutions. Traditional creedal Calvinists had a similar attitude as the Liturgicals. 

Rothbard believes that a detailed analysis of 19th century election results showed that the Republican-Democratic split usually followed the Pietist-Liturgical divide. In the same city, two equally poor working class districts could vote for two different candidates depending on religious attitude. Democrats did better (or even better) among hard line German Lutherans (yes, that would be the notorious Missouri Synod) than among German Lutherans who were more soft line, and so on. 

The fall of the old style Democrats came in 1896, when the Democrats had been taken over by the agrarian populists around William Jennings Bryan, who spouted a Pietistic program and hence attracted droves of such activists and voters to the Democratic banner, scaring away all Liturgicals except the Irish, who preferred to stay in the Democratic camp due to their control of a number of city-wide political machines. Meanwhile, the Republicans under William McKinley moved to the center, thereby attracting the declutched Liturgicals and winning the election. Unfortunately for any believer in laissez faire, neither party promoted it from then on, the new style Democrats continuing with their Pietistic campaigns under the ever-defeated perennial presidential candidate Bryan, while the “centrist” Republicans turned out to be hard boiled centralizers, cartelizers, imperialists and – surprise – authoritarian social engineers, and hence pretty “Pietistic” themselves, especially under one Teddy Roosevelt. They probably didn´t really believe in the gold standard, either…


When Rothbard is at his most frivolous, he essentially claims that the American welfare state (please, *what* welfare state?) was the work of “lesbians”, that is feminist activists who apparently had this particular sexual orientation to a very large degree. Eleanor Roosevelt is one of the few exceptions – she is rather “our first bisexual First Lady”. OK, Murray, whatever you say. After a cold shower or two, the author does say some interesting things about the women´s movement, too, although they will probably rub the (post)modern feminists the wrong way! The early feminist movement had strong nativist and classist traits, attacking mass immigration (since the immigrant males were often more patriarchal than the Anglo men – sounds familiar?) and the foreign-born working class. The feminists, who were “upper class” according to the author, resented being treated as second class citizens, while immigrant males were automatically given the right to vote. It´s interesting to note that the votes of immigrant males often defeated proposals to extend the franchise to women when put to a referendum, thereby proving a thing or two, but nothing (post)modern feminists want to hear, of course. 

As already noted, the attacks of the Women Christian Temperance Union on saloons (sometimes literal attacks) weren´t simply fanaticized responses to the sin of drinking improperly labeled whiskey. The saloon was the all-male social hub of many immigrant communities, and the saloon-owner was often also a Democratic Party ward-heeler, making saloons politically important, too. It was in the saloon that the Democrats convinced or cajoled the local males into voting Democrat. When the Pietistic moral crusaders (who Rothbard see as proto-feminists) attacked the saloons and/or demanded state legislation against the selling of alcohol, they were striking a blow against the political power of patriarchal structures in the immigrant (often Catholic) districts. Of course, they were also promoting the Republicans over the Democrats…

Rothbard believes that female suffrage was a sheer political maneuver from certain interested parties, rather than a genuine concession to struggling oppressed women. This is most obvious in Utah, one of the first US territories to allow women the right to vote. Here, the reason was to bolster the domination of the Mormon-exclusive People´s Party (hardly a lesbian matriarchy) at a time when non-Mormon migrants settled in the territory in increasing numbers. In Wyoming, where many of the old settlers were Yankees, female suffrage was introduced to ensure old settler control of the legislature as against more transient new settlers. In both Utah and Wyoming, the new settlers had often left their families back East, or didn´t have any, and these all-male constituencies could therefore be defeated at the polls by enlarged male-and-female old settler constituencies. Rothbard believes that a similar scheme was underway all over the United States. If women were given the right to vote, the Pietistic candidates would gain most female votes, since Catholic women usually didn´t vote at all.


Another topic dealt with extensively in “The Progressive Era” is the politics of our favorite US president, Theodore Roosevelt, magnanimously dubbed “the first progressive” by Rothbard. Less magnanimously and more maliciously, Mr R implies that McKinley was assassinated on TR´s orders! To Rothbard, Theodore Roosevelt´s progressive regulations were really a form of forced cartelization of the US industry. This explains the otherwise curious fact that the largest capitalists actually *supported* the administration. Federal regulations made life harder for smaller and medium-sized firms, and also for dangerous innovators, while the large businesses would remain unscathed – since they could afford the regulations, while smaller businesses could not. Thus, federal regulation is a way for monopolistic capitalist businesses to do away with pesky competition and cartelize their respective industries. And not just businesses – the banking interests were busy working backstage to create a central bank dominated by them, something they didn´t succeed in doing until the Democratic administration of Woodrow Wilson (who was just as “progressive” as Teddy Roosevelt). 

Even TR´s much celebrated conservation measures were really undertaken on behalf of Big Business, or so Rothbard believes. By setting aside huge amounts of unused land as a federal reserve, the price of all other land (now a scarce resource) sharply rose, which of course benefited its owners (wealthy Republican donors?). Conservation also benefitted the railway interests, since land around the railways was exempted from government confiscation. This forced settlers to buy land for their farms from the railroad companies (which of course hiked the prices). Rothbard doesn´t give much for the trust-busting activities of the TR and Taft administrations. With a few exceptions, he believes that the trust-busting followed a pattern. Theodore Roosevelt was closely allied with the Morgan banking interest, while William Howard Taft was more lined up with the Rockefellers (so was FDR later). The trust-busting usually hit the capitalist group which *didn´t* support the sitting president…

In a concluding chapter, Rothbard sharply attacks Herbert Hoover, who in his opinion was a super-regulator rather than a proponent of laissez faire. To the author, Hoover´s policies were actually quite similar to those of both Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The difference – which proved crucial in the end – was that Hoover couldn´t accept wholesale federal coercion of the business community. Instead of such “fascism”, Hoover believed that all regulatory measures must at bottom be voluntary. FDR believed otherwise and the rest, as they say, is history.


So what was the Progressive Era? I suppose it was a nativist-imperialist form of neo-mercantilism inspired by Pietistic Postmillenial Protestantism and German Kathedersozialismus incorporating authoritarian social engineering and collaboration between Big Business and Even Bigger Government. While dominated by an alliance of bankers, industrialists and “progressive” Anglo politicians, it attracted middle class intellectuals who saw it as a third way between “anarchic” and “wasteful” free market capitalism and revolutionary socialism. And while Roth mentions it only in passing, one of the system´s functions was to appease and control an increasingly restive working class by co-opting Big Labor.

In other words, the Progressive Era was simply the modern phase of capitalism, in which laissez faire and a weak government is replaced by large scale production and a strong national administration, while the establishment decides to give the native workers a slice of the pie to avoid too much class conflict. Behold, really existing Social Democracy!

Wtf, I love the Progressive Era now.

Condensed and retold

“The Nationalistic and Religious Lectures of Swami Vivekananda” is a somewhat problematic book, since the lectures have been “condensed and retold” by Swami Tapasyananda, a leading member of the Ramakrishna Mission (Vivekananda´s ministry). We are never told exactly what this means. Condensed, how? What does “retold” even mean? Tapasyananda wasn´t a contemporary of Vivekananda. The book seems to be a teaser trailer to Vivekananda´s Collected Works – let´s hope they are unabridged! With the risk of sounding disrespectful, I have to say that these lectures (at least as retold) are also incredibly boring. But then, Vivekananda wasn´t a crazy saint in contrast to his peculiar master Sri Ramakrishna.

Vivekananda (1863-1902) became famous after giving a highly acclaimed speech at the Chicago World Parliament of Religions in 1893. In it, he painted Hinduism as a tolerant religion able to embrace or encompass all the others. Vivekananda was one of the first Hindu gurus who disseminated his message in the West, but there are also suspicions that his message really *was* Occidental in character, Vivekananda essentially being a liberal Protestant in Hindu garb, whose esoteric practice was a highly revised version of Yoga. For more on this, see “A History of Modern Yoga” by Elizabeth de Michelis.

Be that as it may, Vivekananda was a reformer exoterically, too. In his lectures, he makes a distinction between the ritual Vedic scriptures, which he regards as having fallen into abeyance, and the Upanishads, which are still normative. All other Hindu scriptures, such as the Puranas, must be interpreted according to the Vedas, which (of course) means mostly according to the Upanishads. Apart from the Upanishads, with their mystical and pantheistic message far removed from caste and purity laws, Vivekananda really only recognizes the Bhagavad-Gita. It is this core Hinduism, to coin a term, which is the religion Vivekananda wants India to adopt. Somebody might consider it a bowdlerized version. While calling for modernization and attacking really existing Hinduism as “a kitchen religion” (obsessed with purity laws), Vivekananda fears complete secularization. It would destroy India, since India´s only raison d´être is its unique form of spirituality. He seems to be calling for a new India based on tolerant reform Hinduism. Caste privileges are also attacked, Vivekananda saying that only people who actually live like ascetic and learned priests are true Brahmins. Presumably, most “Brahmins” in Bharata have other pastimes…

Vivekananda´s main theological selling point is the tolerance or pluralism of his reform Hinduism, with its “scientific” nature perhaps being second. Since everything is Brahman (the impersonal world-spirit), all religions are in some sense “true”, their gods and holy men all being manifestations of this Brahman. God reveals himself according to the culture and spiritual development of each nation. At the highest level of spiritual accomplishment, however, Advaita Vedanta (pantheist monism) is true. All other systems are lower stepping stones to this absolute truth. Vivekananda tries to harmonize the two main strands within Hinduism: worship of a personal god and the mystical quest for Brahman. He also attempts a harmonization of the different “yogas”, such as karma-yoga, jnana-yoga and bhakti-yoga. In this, he is of course harking back to the Bhagavad-Gita and also to his master Ramakrishna (for more on this, see my review of “Sri Ramakrishna: Life and Teachings”, also by Swami Tapasyananda).

Vivekananda at no point attacks “idolatry”, rather defending it from its Christian and secular detractors, simply giving it a more philosophically sophisticated justification. Although Brahman alone is real, humans can´t approach the Divine in this way. Humans need personified deities. Even better are the avatars, actual living persons who perfectly reflect the Divine in all their actions and words. Indeed, most humans can´t move closer to Brahman without first worshipping an earthly master. Jesus, Buddha and Ramakrishna are examples of such. Here, the reformer sounds distinctly old fashioned! He also has a problem with Buddhism, perhaps because it (or its modernized versions) are so similar to his own brand of Advaita. At the same time, he is close to what I presume is the orthodox Hindu and Indian nationalist take on Buddhism: that it was a heresy adopted by foreign barbarian tribes invading and weakening India.

I get the impression that Vivekananda sometimes indulges in a kind of “reverse Orientalism”. He depicts the Hindus as gentle, peaceful, long suffering and immensely spiritual – apparently a common stereotype at the time (presumably a colonialist one). Rather than seeing this as proof of the effete nature of Hindus, Vivekananda turns it into something positive. It means that the new India won´t become an aggressive great power, just as India never invaded anyone else in the past. Today, these words – perhaps directed at Western or Westernized audiences – sound idealist in the extreme, and they probably sounded strange even at the time they were uttered, except maybe for hopeless dreamers in California or Chicago…

As for science, Vivekananda´s strategy is to simply bypass the breakthroughs of 19th century science, which strongly suggested that religion was simply wrong, Darwinian evolution being a case in point. Christian missionaries often argued that the historical character of their religion proved it was true, at which Vivekananda shrewdly responded that the non-historical character of his religion proved *it* true. Christianity is dependent on Jesus and the Bible actually being historically accurate, and that veracity was challenged by modern Western science. Advaita Vedanta by contrast isn´t dependent on the Vedas or the Puranas being historically accurate, since Advaita deals with phenomena transcending history, such as the relationship between the Atman (the spirit in each human) and Brahman (the world-spirit). This relationship can be proven by yogic practice here and now. Vivekananda therefore believed – quite rightly – that only an ahistorical religion would be able to withstand the challenges of secularism and scientism. As a complete side point, I noticed that the swami doesn´t believe in the Indo-European invasions. Presumably, this is a common position not just among Hindutva nationalists, but among Indians in general. They are wrong of course: get over it, the Urheimat was a kurgan north of the Black Sea…

It´s intriguing to reflect on the heritage of Vivekananda. Today, even Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Modi pretends to worship images of Vivekananda, yet something tells me Modi doesn´t see Islam or Christianity as legitimate avatars of the Dharma. Meanwhile, Vivekananda´s disciples at YouTube claim that he was Shiva! In a weird way, they therefore proved Swami´s point: yes, it seems most humans really do need to genuflect in front of an anthropomorphic savior figure. If that drives them closer to Brahman is perhaps another matter entirely…

Saturday, December 14, 2019

If this is a short introduction, how in the name of Teutatis does the *long* one look like?

“Druids: A Very Short Introduction” by Barry Cunliffe is a very *long* introduction to, among other things, Druids. Nor is it that easy to read, due to its dense nature. The author is British and an Emeritus Professor of European Archeology. So this is how a professor abridges his chosen topic – he essentially doesn´t. LOL! Neolithic burial practices, Bronze Age and Iron Age ditto, every landfall of Greek explorer extraordinaire Pytheas, medieval Irish chronicles and the difference between the Posidonian and the Alexandrian tradition in ancient Greco-Roman writings about Druids are some of the subject-matters covered. For a moment, I almost suspected that the author wanted to take us on an extended journey through modern Freemasonry as well, but he resisted the temptation, instead giving us an overview of the Breton Neo-Druid revival! But yes, he does mention British and Welsh Neo-Druidry, too, even including a funny photo of a young Winston Churchill being initiated into a slightly burlesque Druid order. I mean, the guys surrounding Churchill look like Santa Claus, even spouting false white beards…

Most of Cunliffe´s book is on the serious side, though. What surprised me was his positive view of the ancient written sources – I assumed the paradigm is to disbelieve everything they ever said about the ancient Celts and their esoteric priesthood. Maybe it is. Perhaps Cunliffe belongs to an older generation? We are dealing with an *emeritus* professor, after all. The author reaches the conclusion that although Druidry isn´t Neolithic, and hence isn´t associated with Stonehenge or similar megalithic sites, it could nevertheless be very ancient, more specifically from the Early Bronze Age. Curiously, Cunliffe never mentions the Indo-European invasions. Doesn´t he believe they happened? He does believe that the Celts originated in Atlantic Europe and that the Iron Age La Tène culture was therefore at the periphery of the Celtic world. Druidry itself might very well be of British origin.

The author takes the Greek and Roman sources seriously, including the stereotypical description of white-gowned Druids with golden sickles gathering mistletoe from oaks. The story does sound logical from a religious viewpoint: oaks were sacred to the Celts, and mistletoe is rare on oak trees, so obviously mistletoe was seen as having mysterious properties when it *did* occasionally grow on oak. Nor are the stories of gruesome human sacrifice entirely made up. The ancient Celts did have a bizarre cult of severed heads, as proven by archeological digs. Many ancient sources ultimately go back to a now lost work by Pytheas of Massalia, a Greek explorer who sailed around Britain at some point during the 4th century BC. He may have reached even further north.

According to Cunliffe, Celtic religion was lunar in character, while also having strong chthonic overtones. Or shall we say undertones? The most important deities were a sky god and an earth mother, with the former “civilizing” the latter by ritual sexual intercourse. Metamorphoses played an important role, too, but the author says little about this. The Druids, the Vates and the Bards were the priestly castes. The Druids were the philosophers, the teachers and the intermediaries between humans and gods. The Vates were augurs, while the Bards were poets skilled at both celebrating and attacking people through the power of their words and music. Some ancient sources note certain similarities between the Druids and the Greek Pythagoreans. Thus, both believed in an immortal soul and reincarnation. In the author´s mind, these ideas could have developed independently among the Celts, but another possibility is of course that the Druids were influenced by Pythagoreans, or even the other way around! In the Irish sources, we can see how Druidism is gradually replaced by Christianity, and how the Christians become progressively more hostile to their pagan precursors. Druids and Vates disappeared, while the Bards remained. The author doesn´t seem to believe that any authentic bardic tradition has survived into the modern world, however.

This means that all attempts to resurrect Druidism are essentially fake. The notorious 19th century forger Iolo Morganwg is whipped by the book´s author several times, as is James Macpherson´s “Ossian”. Taliesin probably wasn´t real either. Since the book is supposed to be a “very short” introduction, he doesn´t go into the Arthurian mythology which, of course, includes Merlin. Cunliffe refers to modern “Druids” as “Neo-Pagan” and seem to have a slightly Wiccan understanding of their message. Above all, it´s Green and connected to hippies and new environmental sensibilities. That these groups are included in a work on the ancient Druids isn´t surprising. For starters, the Druid Revivalists gather every year at Stonehenge, often to the chagrin of the police or secular revelers. Also, Druidry has become part and parcel of British identity, and of course Celtic identities, too. What otherwise struck me when reading “Druids: A Very Short Introduction” is how stillborn Celtic Reconstructionism must be. There simply isn´t any way in which ancient Celtic religion can be meaningfully reconstructed today, since it was an integrated part of the cultural, social and political matrixes of the Celtic societies, forever gone. Even apart from that little detail with the severed heads…

With that, I end this very short review. Recommended.