Not the Monthly Post

Our Werewolves, Ourselves

The muse who inspires these essays is an unruly goddess.  I was planning this week on picking up the threads of the sequence of posts I began at the start of this year, summing up what I’ve learned so far in my exploration of enchantment, disenchantment, and the rise and fall of civilizations, and sketching out the terrain ahead. Instead, a chance discovery in the course of research for an upcoming novel sent me chasing off in an unexpected direction—and that’s why we’re going to talk instead about lycanthropy, Donald Trump, and the persistence of primal archetypes in our supposedly oh-so-modern industrial society.

I think most of my readers know by now that I’ve recently launched a new series of novels in the occult-detective genre, featuring 18-year-old novice occultist Ariel Moravec and her adept grandfather Dr. Bernard Moravec. It differs from other occult-detective novels in that all of the magic that features in the books is the kind of thing that operative occultists today can actually do. The first book in the series, The Witch of Criswell, is out now; I trust it won’t startle anyone to learn that it features a witch—or, rather, three witches, one of them long dead but still very much a presence.  The second volume, The Book of Haatan, is in the publisher’s hands now; it features a stolen grimoire, magical treasure hunting, and a quest for pirate gold.

Those two required little research, since they dealt with branches of magic I’ve studied in quite some detail already. The third volume in the series, The Carnelian Moon, is turning out to be a little more research-heavy. Its central theme is lycanthropy—not the Hollywood makeup-artist variety made famous by Lon Chaney Jr., much less the biologically impossible horror-fantasy cliché that has human beings physically turning into wolves, but the older, stranger tradition that Eliphas Lévi intuited from medieval records and anthropologists and archeologists have documented in quite some detail in recent years.

It was in the process of researching that tradition that I found a remarkable little paper published a few years back, “Donald Trump, Werewolf Spawn?” by Kevin D. Pittle and Nicholas A. Hopkins. The title sums up the basic theme of the paper tolerably well. Its authors speculate, on the basis of inconclusive but interesting evidence, that Donald Trump may be descended from Peter Stumpf, one of the most famous victims of Europe’s sixteenth-century werewolf trials.

A contemporary media portrayal of Peter Stumpf. The media hasn’t gotten much better since then, has it?

Connoisseurs of werewolf lore will doubtless remember that Stumpf, also known as Peter Stubbe, was tortured on the rack until he confessed to murder, cannibalism, rape, incest, bestiality, and pretty much every other crime the local inquisitors could think of.  He was then broken on the wheel, beheaded, and burnt at the stake in Cologne on October 31, 1589. (The authorities were nothing if not thorough.)  His daughter and a woman named Katharina Trump, both of whom were accused of having affairs with him, were also burnt at the same time. The latter, Pittle and Hopkins note, may well have been the same as a Katharina Trump who features in the family tree of Donald Trump. If this is true—and again, this is a speculative hypothesis—Donald Trump is descended from a werewolf’s love child.

By now those of my readers who don’t happen to be connoisseurs of werewolf lore may be scratching their heads, so let me explain a few more details. Yes, there were werewolf trials in sixteenth-century Europe—quite a few of them, in fact, and more in the centuries immediately before and after. They were conducted in the same dubious fashion as the witch trials of those same years:  that is to say, once an accusation was made, the accused was presumed to be guilty, tortured savagely in order to extract a confession, and then put to death, preferably after he’d implicated several other people who could then be subjected to the same treatment. It was an ugly chapter of history, though there are plenty of equivalents before and since.

Jules Michelet. I doubt he had any idea what he was setting in motion.

The witch trials of the same period have gotten much more press recently, largely because they got reworked into a central theme in the historical mythology of modern Wicca. There’s a colorful story behind that transformation.  In 1862, riffing off a contemporary media furore about revolutionary secret societies, French historian Jules Michelet introduced the idea of medieval witchcraft as an underground religion of sexual and social radicalism in his book La Sorcière (The Witch; the English translation is usually titled Satanism and Witchcraft).  That idea got picked up promptly by an assortment of writers, notably American feminist Matilda Joslyn Gage, who identified medieval witches as early feminists in Woman, Church, and State (1893), and folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland, who claimed in Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches (1899) that he’d found the sacred text of a witch-cult exactly like the one Michelet described still surviving in Italy.

From there it was an easy step to Margaret Murray, whose books The Witch-Cult in Western Europe and The God of the Witches deployed a great deal of blatant academic fraud to identify medieval witchcraft as a surviving Pagan faith, and to Murray’s friend and fellow folklorist Gerald Gardner, who manufactured Wicca in the early 1940s out of a free mix of ceremonial magic, the Woodcraft youth movement, and the teachings of Aleister Crowley, and marketed it to an eager public as the Old Religion that Murray discussed in her works. The modern Neopagan movement followed promptly, and so did the widely circulated claim (promoted earlier by Matilda Joslyn Gage) that the medieval witch hunts slaughtered nine million peaceful, goddess-worshipping wise women.

It happened, all right — just not on the industrial scale Wiccans used to claim.

More recent scholarship showed that Gage’s figure was wildly exaggerated.  Maybe 50,000 people—men and women alike—were put to death as accused witches during the era of witch hunts:  ugly enough, but not much higher than the annual death toll from auto accidents in the United States. The claim that modern Wicca is in any way descended from medieval witchcraft turned out to be equally inaccurate, as research into Wiccan origins proved readily enough. (That doesn’t make Wicca spiritually invalid, by the way; it simply means that like a great many new religious movements, it manufactured a mythic history for itself.)

What makes this all the more fascinating is that there seems to have been something other than superstitious terror behind the original witch panics. In his 1991 book Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath, historian of religions Carlo Ginzburg showed that behind the frantic claims of the inquisitors lay a body of relatively coherent beliefs that seem to have belonged to various more or less shamanistic cults, some surviving in isolated corners of Europe during the handful of centuries since the arrival of Christianity, some introduced from points further east with the migrations of Magyar, Slavic, and other newly arrived populations. Three decades of research since Ginzburg’s publication has strengthened his thesis, and provided ample evidence that folk traditions of magic and shamanism, some of them very ancient, contributed to the witch panics that burst over Europe in the fourteenth century and continued to claim lives until well into the eighteenth century.

This is where we return to werewolves, because all the same points recent research has made about medieval witchcraft can be made, and have been made, about medieval lycanthropy.

The Indo-Europeans were just another tribal people of Eurasia…

Follow the track of the werewolf back into the mists of Eurasian antiquity and it’s possible to trace the outlines of an archaic set of traditions of the Indo-European peoples back when they were cattle-herding tribes on the plains of what are now Ukraine and southern Russia. In those days, boys who reached puberty left their home villages to dwell in the forest under the tutelage of elder shamans.  For a period of several years, they spent the summers living like wild things, eating raw meat, sleeping in the open, and raiding neighboring tribes to steal cattle. The winters, in turn, were devoted to harsh austerities and rituals of initiation.

The most important of those rituals centered on the mythic theme of casting off the participants’ identity as boys and becoming wolves: fierce, predatory, loyal, tough, attuned to the wilderness.  Then, once their period in the forest was finished, they cast off their wolf-identity through another ritual process, became men, and returned to their villages to take up their social roles as husbands, fathers, providers, and warriors. For thousands of years, that was how the Indo-European tribes handled the turbulent transition from boyhood to manhood, and traces and mythic echoes of these same customs remained in Indo-European societies from India to Ireland long after the original tradition had faded out.

Did these boys in the wilderness actually turn into wolves?  Not in any biological sense, surely. That said, human consciousness is capable of strange things.  Certain bands of Norse warriors in historic times were called Úlfhednar, “wolf coat wearers;” like their close equivalents the Berserkir, “bear shirt wearers,” they could enter into a battle-frenzy in which they behaved like wild beasts, possessing superhuman strength, insensibility to pain, and the ability to walk over burning coals unscathed. (A priestly clan among the Faliscans, an Italian people absorbed by the Romans, had the same firewalking reputation; they were called hirpi Sorani, “wolves of the god Soranus.”) Certain kinds of out-of-body experience, in which the participants experience themselves as taking on animal form, also seem to be caught up in the same tradition. It’s a heady mix of practices, more than enough to make its initiates fierce and effective warriors in an age of hand-to-hand combat.

…until they domesticated horses and invented the chariot. Once climate change forced them to migrate or starve, the conquests began.

The initiation rituals referenced above aren’t simply a matter of speculation. Archeologists have dug up at least one site where they were performed:  an isolated structure at Krasnosamarskoe in Russia, dating from around 1800 BC, where dogs were ceremonially sacrificed and eaten in the midst of other ritual activities.  Dogs are considered good eating in many cultures, but in societies descended from the Indo-European tribes, the thought of eating dog meat gets an immediate reaction of repulsion.  That’s the last dim echo of an archaic taboo that once restricted eating the flesh of canids to the wolf-boys in the forests. The dog sacrifices took place during the winter ritual season—you can tell such things these days from skeletal remains.  Combine that evidence with input from myth, legend, and folk tradition and you can glimpse a little of the ancient wolf-magic as it once existed.

That, to sum up decades of scholarly research, is what lies behind the legendary image of the werewolf in European folklore.  After the great Indo-European migrations and conquests, the bands of boys-become-wolves in the forests gradually changed into permanent warbands under the command of local chieftains, and then morphed further into the feudal system of medieval Europe, with each young generation of warriors absorbed into the retinues of barons and kings, and so no longer a threat to the status quo.  The old traditions clung to shadowy life here and there, mostly in isolated areas, and gave rise to bands of outlaws:  in several old Indo-European languages, as a result, the word for “wolf” is also the word for “outlaw.”  (In Old Norse, that word is vargr—yes, this is where Tolkien got the word “warg.” He was a brilliant philologist fluent in all the Germanic languages, and knew all this stuff.)

In the forest somewhere, becoming wolves —  and then men.

As medieval European society settled down after the era of mass migrations, and Christianity became more centralized and dogmatic, surviving traces of the old shamanistic traditions got squeezed out a little at a time. Whether or not Peter Stumpf was involved in one of the last flickering traces of the old wolf-cult will probably never be known, but it is at least possible. It’s also possible that a few scraps of the old tradition still survive, either in Europe or in some corners of the European diaspora.  The novel I’m writing assumes that one version of it has survived more or less intact into our times, but authors of fiction get to take such liberties.

Whether any remnant of the archaic wolf-cult endured, however, it’s safe to say that its archetype certainly did, and it remains a living and potent force today.  Imagine for a moment how the reputation of the ancient wolf-initiates changed as the tribal cultures of Indo-European antiquity gave way to the settled societies of medieval Europe, as warriors were expected to become the loyal servants of feudal magnates and the new ideology of Christianity put its own spin on the legacies of the distant past. Here and there, as in the legends of Robin Hood, outlaws seized the popular imagination as an emblem of resistance to the status quo, but far more often the fierce, lonely men who had been driven out of polite society and dwelt in deep forests and mountainous regions were feared and despised by the respectable people of their time. It was proverbial in medieval England that outlaws “had a wolf’s head”—that is to say, like the wolf that was their ancient emblem, they could be killed out of hand by anyone tough enough for the job, and their deaths would be met with general rejoicing.

This, of course, is where we circle back to Donald Trump.

There he is, howling at the moon.

Love him or hate him, the man’s made an enduring mark on American culture in our time, and he’s done it by violating all the rules that polite society has erected to maintain the grip of today’s privileged classes on the levers of political and social power.  It’s a piece of synchronicity that Carl Jung would have appreciated that Trump may be descended from a famous werewolf, because he’s the outlaw of today’s American politics, sporting a wolf’s head in the best medieval style, refusing to play by the rules that keep power in the hands of a failed managerial aristocracy that can’t lead but won’t get out of the way.  That’s why he fields the same kind of blind hatred that Peter Stumpf got from the German authorities of his time.  It’s no exaggeration to say that there are plenty of people who would gladly see Donald Trump broken on the wheel, beheaded, and burnt at the stake if they thought they could get away with it.

There’s more to the archetypal pattern than this, however. Of all the many people who rallied around Trump’s banner in 2015 and haven’t abandoned it yet, what’s the group that’s made the biggest mark?  It’s primarily young men, the same group that would be out there in the forests learning how to be wolves if we still followed the folkways of Indo-European antiquity.

I know of no evidence that ancient werewolves worshipped a frog god…

This is a bleak and bitter time to be a young man in America.  Outside the narrowing circles of the well-to-do, boys and girls alike face a world in which every option pushed on them by their society—employment, college education, you name it—is a mug’s game rigged to make others rich at their expense.  Boys, however, face the additional burden that maleness has been pathologized in our schools, so that boys are systematically punished and penalized for the crime of not acting more like girls.  Those boys who can’t handle the demands for passivity and obedience imposed on them can count on being drugged into submission if they aren’t simply arrested and put into what has been usefully labeled the school-to-prison pipeline.

The military used to be the great escape hatch for young men who couldn’t find a place in civil society, but that door’s been slammed shut in recent years as Pentagon bureaucrats push an increasingly strident woke ideology on the rank and file, and the benefits of military service have become increasingly limited when they’re not wholly imaginary; the salary you get as an enlisted man these days won’t keep your family fed and housed, and the Veterans Administration medical system has turned into a sick joke. These days a rapidly growing fraction of the young men from working class backgrounds who used to keep the US military well supplied with recruits are walking away from military service, and they’re doing it with the encouragement of their elders; many of these latter, after all, are military vets who know exactly what the score is.

…but times change.

Rejected by the cultural mainstream, and as often as not condemned by woke ideologues as personally guilty of every wrong ever inflicted by their ancestors, a great many young men have been driven to the fringes of our society.  The folk knowledge, the traditional customs and the largely intact ecosystems that would enable them to live in the forest, gnawing on raw meat and carrying out cattle raids on neighboring tribes?  Those no longer exist, so the young men in question are finding refuges in the wilderness of the internet and cobbling together traditions of their own. That the raw material for those traditions comes from the things our mainstream society rejects is hardly a surprise.

Yes, I know that there have been various attempts to create models of male initiation in our time. All of the ones I’m familiar with—well, let’s just say that you can tell easily that they were invented by middle-class suburbanites. They provide a weak simulacrum of the tribal initiations of the past, lacking the terrifying intensity of those initiations’ head-on confrontation with the realities of death, violence, fear and pain. It was because the military provided that intensity through combat that it so often served as an initiatory experience.  Lacking that, it’s no surprise that so many young men make a beeline for gangs, or find some other socially unacceptable way to define themselves in opposition to a society that so obviously hates and fears them.

Exactly how all this will play out is impossible to say.  One of the core insights of depth psychology, though, is that you can’t get rid of something you don’t like by repressing it.  All you’ll get by piling on the punishment is a more serious blowback. That’s a lesson both sides in today’s culture wars could stand to learn.  Another such lesson is the reminder that the thing you hate most in other people is by and large the thing you refuse to see in yourself.

As I argued earlier in a series of blog posts and in my book The King in Orange, the first round of blowback from the repressions just discussed put Donald Trump in the White House.  The second round could quite possibly repeat that, or it may lead in directions even more unpalatable to today’s status quo. Nor will a silver bullet solve the problem. (Why silver?  The Moon’s metal, emblematic of feminine energy, represents the longing for marriage, family, and a settled life that once transformed the wolf into a man.)  Look instead into the silvered mirror, dear reader. The wolf’s face that stares back at you may be your own.

* * * * *

This month has five Wednesdays, and by a longstanding tradition on my blogs, that means the readers get to vote on what they want me to write about for the fifth Wednesday post. What do you want to hear about?  Let me know.


  1. At this link you can see all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared across the Ecosophia community. Please feel free to add any or all of the requests to your own prayers.

    If I missed anybody, or if you would like to add a prayer request for yourself or anyone who has given you consent (or for whom a relevant person holds power of consent) to the list, please feel free to leave a comment below.

    * * *
    This week I would like to bring special attention to the following prayer requests.

    Nichole Cardillo had a cancerous tumor in her duodenum (in her small intestine) and she went into surgery on May 1st to try to remove it; that her surgery was successful and completely removed the cancer, and for blessings, protection, and a full return to health.

    Patricia Mathew’s friend Al (Alison Kulp) is in the hospital with a nasty life-threatening MRSA infection; please play for her to be blessed, protected, and completely healed as soon as is possible. (Update here.)

    Luke Dodson’s friend B, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, and is still in serious condition though she’s already had surgery; for blessing, protection, healing, and a full return to health.

    Lp9’s request on behalf of their hometown, East Palestine Ohio, for the safety and welfare of their people and all living beings in the area. (Lp9 gives updates here and most recently here, and says “things are a bit… murky”), and the reasonable possibility seems to exist that this is an environmental disaster on par with the worst America has ever seen. At any rate, it is clearly having a devastating impact on the local area, and prayers are still warranted.

    * * *
    If there are any among you who might wish to join me in a bit of astrological timing, I pray each week for the health of all those with health problems on the list on the astrological hour of the Sun on Sundays, bearing in mind the Sun’s rulerships of heart, brain, and vital energies. If this appeals to you, I invite you to join me.

    Guidelines for how long prayer requests stay on the list, how to word requests, how to be added to the weekly email list, how to improve the chances of your prayer being answered, and several other common questions and issues, are now to be found at this link.

  2. Great post, as usual!

    I hadn’t considered the “unacceptable behavior” of online young men, such as those on the chans, as akin to the social rejection/distancing of initiation, that’s quite an interesting implication that warrants further reflection. I had mostly seen things like a willingness to use unapproved language and make jokes about taboo subjects as a form of costly signaling that you do not belong to the woke, but of course, these things are not mutually exclusive.

    Minor typo note: you referred to your book as The King In Yellow, which I believe was a mistake unless memories of a previous life as Robert Chambers have recently surfaced 🙂

    For the Fifth Wednesday post, I’ll try once again to get the ball rolling on a “military history of the deindustrial future” – maybe this time it will be early enough to get some other folks on board.


  3. For the fifth Wdnesday: Russian Cosmism.

    Were there any cultures that had people ritually transform into big cats? Because I imagine there would be an interesting society on the far side of that…

    This is an account of how aggressive impulses were diverted in a very specific way: (feel free to ignore the dumb final conclusion on how it could be transferred to human society). It suggests one possible answer to what would happen to violent impulses in a utopian society (the other is naturally gladiatorial combat between consenting adults).

  4. Dear Sir:
    Great post and thanking you for it. I am not one for pontificating on my esoteric knowledge. All I know is I have been following your work for years and have learned a lot from your posts and other readers comments here.
    I am more of a visceral learner while I am voracious reader, I am contemplating buying some more of your books, esp the ones mentioned here.
    Later, dude and thanks for all the fish.

  5. As one who has been privileged to be in the presense of my family’s ‘animal ancestors’, I will quibble about the “spirit of Wolf” that you have set forth. It is not what I have learned as one who is within the protectorate of “Wolf”. I know that there are many cultural differences between the Eurocentric mythologies and those of the central plains and forests of pre-colonial Turtle Island. This is not to dismiss your analyses of current social and cultural calamities in the U.S., as that is certainly dominated by Eurocentrism.
    Would that we could learn more of what has been and still is present in our world rather than closing off what is considered ‘beyond the pale’ of our narrow [and further narrowing] mythological worldviews. “Burning more books” and forging but ‘in-group’ alliances will certainly lead to further unrest – as described by you in your online novel. Yes, Wolf is territorial and ruled by alpha female and male pair, but their offspring are always free to move on beyond their ‘tribe’.

  6. You were kind enough to write an essay on Rudolf Steiner. I wonder if — at some time — you could write a similar essay on George Gurdjieff?

  7. Wow! Bravo, JMG! I look forward to your post every week but this one especially good. Both such a well written pleasure to read and a fascinating look into a corner of Spirituality that I’ve never run across before.

  8. Much of the movie The Northman now makes more sense.

    Thinking about it, where do young men go to hang out nowadays? I don’t even know any to ask.

  9. Dear JMG,

    Fascinating post. As father of a teenage boy I can attest to the challenges they face today. Might the popularity of violent video game play be one outlet? Not my son’s cup of tea, but he has been pouring himself into physical fitness, strength conditioning. He also aspires for some role in the military – and that is not anything he has seen modeled by any family members. We seem to lack initiation tools that are community supported so the market is stepping in with many substitutes of questionable efficacy and morality. As mentioned, even well meaning parents can offer what they need in this case.

    It was also interesting to hear the description of the path from pagan wolf to westernized serf/soldier. I see a curious metaphor in my limited knowledge of game history. The Roman ludus latrunculorum (based on Greek petteia) is a simple wargame and sometimes the pieces are called robbers or dogs. Some game historians argue that the Roman game made its way to India, by way of Persia, where the pieces were incorporated into chess-type games as pawns. So the little robber/dogs made the same journey as the wolf/boys and became the domesticated levies in Medieval Europe’s incarnation of chess. I don’t know if the history is right but fun to think about.

  10. Thank you! This essay literally made me smile. Several times. I’ve no idea why, exactly, but will ponder on that.

    A question, if you please, JMG: What’s up with what seems to me the fetishization of dogs in our (North American) culture? Please understand that I have nothing against dogs. I like them well enough, but don’t have or desire one.

    Several people in my life over the past several years, almost exclusively women, positively dote on them; feeding them expensive special diets, taking them to massage and chiropractor appointments, referring to their paws as hands. It makes me cringe a little. No, actually, I cringe a lot!

    Meanwhile, the local animal shelters always have hundreds of these “fur babies” on offer. Clearly they are highly disposable once they’ve fulfilled whatever their mission is in the life of their human.

    Are those of us of Indo-European descent so completely cut off from our roots that we’ve gone bonkers over the very animal our warriors-in-training once ate? I’m most certainly not saying we ought to eat dogs. But it seems the old taboo has morphed into something utterly bizarre.

    Thanks as always for your insight,

  11. Hi John,

    1. Would you mind passing along your sources for occult treasure hunting? The ones I mentioned to you in a recent post are more recent, and I’d like to go a bit further back, as this is a topic I’ve been reading on the past few years, and it is an area of further workd I’d like to do.

    2. Paul Naschy was my favorite werewolf actor. And since May Day was this week, his best movie for the uninitiated is “La noche de Walpurgis” or the more fun and sordid “The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman” when dubbed for English speakers.

    3. Wow. Pretty dang good article for a day and a culture that is waxing gibbous.

    Last week Steve T was talking about cowboys. Of course one of the archetypal activities of the cowboy is the cattle raid. The whole interface between cowboy stories and outlaw stories is fascinating to think about with regards to all this, and the tamanous culture to come.

    Many thanks for this Wednesday’s reading material.

    4. For a fifth wed. post I cast my lot for a post on the tug and tension between Neptunian communal tendencies and Uranian individualism esp. with regards to the future of America in the Aquarian age.

    Btw, any chance you’ll be cycling back to your history of occult America?

  12. In Pynchon’s novel about the Mason-Dixon Line, while cutting a path through the mountains and forests just a little north of where you used to live in Cumberland, they encounter a werebeaver. Naturally this leads to an amusing match-up between Mason’s & Dixon’s best tree-cutter and the werebeaver to see which one could fell the most trees on a single night. I don’t want to give away the outcome; I believe there were protests lodged over certain technicalities. As I think I’ve said before, “Mason & Dixon” was the last Pynchon novel that I actually enjoyed.

  13. Interesting, interesting topic.
    Not being a young man anymore, but still struggling to keep, even find, a place in this society I find it fascinating, but also a bit… sidelined. Being 40 and still lost in this world as a what, male.
    I do feel like Ted Murchison at the start of The Winged bull.

    There was a thread of votes last time for the 5. Wednesday on toxic, or sacred, masculinity. Might I vote for that.

    🙂 a historical opinion on masculinity

  14. I have been reading you for many years and it’s sad to see you following James Kunstler into a place where basic empathy — which is all “woke” means — is something to be ridiculed. I was a young man bullied relentlessly by several embodiments of your ideal man, and I’m very much uninterested in pushing the traditional masculinity you are urging. Men are muscle. That’s all we are. It’s important…indispensible, even…but it’s not a sufficient quality to relegate women to second class or worse. Like Trump, who sees docile women as sex objects and strong women as harridans. A “real man”, by my lights, doesn’t mock men they perceive to be weak or, heaven help us, effeminate.

    I respect you tremendously. I’m hoping I am reading this column all wrong and you’re not suggesting Donald Trump is the benchmark for modern masculinity.

  15. Did not know about the werewolf myth origins. Very interesting. Thank you.

    The wolf-outlaw connection makes a lot of sense, and Tolkien wasn’t the only writer who used it in their novels. I’m thinking of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series, in which there is a character known as ‘the wolf of the kilghard hills’ who is an outlaw, and also a song called ‘Brother Tell Me, Tell Me’ involving a man ostensibly getting killed by wolves, until his brother admits it was actually him who committed murder and then gets declared outlaw by their mutual sister over the deed. I think it’s meant to be a survival from an older Gaelic tradition brought from Earth. It might actually be a song from the real world; I’m not sure.

  16. Though witch trials and executions were not a good solution, demonic possession was a genuine problem in the 1600s. There have been plenty of stories made about the Loudon possessions in France in the early 1600s, including how priest Urbain Grandier was likely railroaded and tortured out of jealousy and spite, however, there may be some substance to the reports of nuns being possessed by demons. A bystander claimed:

    “The nuns struck their chests and backs with their heads, as if they had their necks broken, and with inconceivable rapidity; they twisted their arms at the joints of the shoulder, the elbow, the wrist, two or three times around. Lying on their stomachs, they joined the palms of their hands to the soles of their feet; their faces became so frightful that one could not bear to look at them; their eyes remained open without winking. Their tongues issued suddenly from their mouths, horribly swollen, black, hard, and covered with pimples, yet while in this state they spoke distinctly. They threw themselves back till their heads touched their feet, and walked in this position with wonderful rapidity, and for a long time. They uttered cries so horrible and so loud that nothing like it was ever heard before. They made use of expressions so indecent as to shame the most debauched of men, while their acts, both in exposing themselves and inviting lewd behaviour from those present, would have astonished the inmates of the lowest brothels in the country.”

    For those reading who are like “sounds like the average Madonna farewell tour”, I see you coming, very funny. Besides the aforementioned feats, the nuns stayed in these states for hours to six days at a time and did not come out of them any worse for the wear. Some even seemed healthier than before. There were other phenomena observed around the nuns, such as one speaking in multiple voices that argued with each other though her mouth was closed the entire time, levitation, and their bodies becoming extremely heavy and unable to be moved.

    Long after the execution of Grandier, the possessions continued in Loudon.

    I have a difficult time believing all of these people were so stupid and insane that they could have caused themselves such horrendous problems out of sexual frustration. Yes, sexual frustration is a heck of a drug, but it cannot cause you to go limp and throw your head from your spine into your sternum and come out unscathed.

  17. Read something the other day about Evelyn Underhill that intrigued me and was wondering about your take on her philosophy.

  18. Hi JMG
    Thank you for a very interesting post.
    Thinking about young men – it occurs to me that the idea of “Toxic masculinity” is related to embracing a very abstract idealism which doesn’t map well to how many humans actually behave. I suspect most societies have developed ways of dealing with the more awkward inclinations of young men whilst minimising any problematic and anti-social effects. I certainly think its best all round if this is addressed. But without those traditional ways of dealing with young men’s masculinity, or something doing the same job, you have a problem which is what I think “toxic masculinity” may refer to. If I’m right it seems as much a failure by the critics to effectively deal with the all too human sides of their population as much as the young men. Young manhood is, after all, downstream of human reproduction and so is a part of society. But if an abstract idealists theory of society doesn’t account for it, young manhood appears to be an error or flaw in the system. If I’m right referring to “Toxic masculinity” is effectively admitting that “my model of society is incomplete”.
    Also – for werewolves – I thinking back to how much I loved being in woodland when I was a young man. It just seemed like a great place to be at that time.
    By the way – I’ve just started “The witch of Criswell” today – I am really enjoying it. Thank you for that, too.

  19. The insistence, since the high middle ages, that everyone do, say, believe and think (think!) exactly the same approved stuff is in effect a kind of utopianism, meaning, there is no end-point for approval and control, as the goal-posts are moved continuously. This is one issue with the professional management class’s predicament today, as, since we do not exist in a well-defined stable situation but in an even more utopian one than that, such that even before everything began falling apart they had and have no real safe place…and they know it. Add into that the determined and persistent efforts of the neo-Marxists to dissolve all existing social structures and the power they seem to have, and a sense of all-pervasive dread enters into everyone who has something, some little corner of whatever there is, to protect. Even we little people. Not to mention anger at being put into such that condition.

    This situation is exacerbated by the problems you outlined in this article, where the realities of human development and biology and just plain facts of every kind are blatantly ignored and even attempted to be suppressed, and the pressures of the real against the unreal build up just like pressure in an un-attended boiler. While the collapse of the status quo may not be the Mad Max scenario some are hoping for or fearing, that does not mean we won’t experience some genuinely explosive situations. A cliff, if you will. My own feeling (and that’s what it is, I haven’t specifics to point to) is that, in accord with some things that futurists like Clif High and Martin Armstrong have pointed out, we may see some dramatic things happening before the end of this summer, say July.

    How that plays out in our polity remains to be seen. I cannot see our now rotted constitutional fabric being stitched back together very effectively in response to emerging situations. One wonders what intelligence those so aligned may have gotten from the Elder Gods about this? And how many unintentional lycanthropes we may see appearing in our neighborhoods?

  20. Would you be willing to share any of the sources of the werewolf cultural history you found in your research? I would really like to read more on this. I don’t have time for a super deep dive but one or two primary texts would be very much appreciated!

  21. There was a time that a stint in the military could provide the kind of harsh initiation that would shock a boy out of dependent childhood and into maturity. But with the dropping of the draft accompanied by the morphing of warfare into a meat-grinding, traumatizing slaughter often done at long distance by missile or drone, nothing has come to take the place of puberty ceremonies. The spiritual jolt that brings on manhood (under the careful guiding hands of those who had gone before) has fizzled away leaving a gaping vacuum to be filled either with pain-numbing fentanyl or wild-eyed conspiracy discussions done in front of a glowing screen. There’s no real path to manhood here. And flipping a tassel from one side of your cap to the other at college graduation doesn’t cut it either. Small wonder our young people are flailing in confusion.

  22. Excellent essay. I particularly liked your point about the symbolism of silver at the end, considering how the messed up nature of modern dating is playing into this overall trend.

    I wonder if during your research you came across this modern day story of berzerker rage. UFC light heavyweight Anthony Smith having to deal with a crazed(but much smaller and less trained) Luke Haberman breaking into his home in the middle of the night:

    I know you don’t do video but Haberman’s insane scream was caught on a neighbors doorbell camera. Gives you a pretty good idea of the amount of energy in that mental state. At the 3:00 mark:

    *like the video says, turn your speakers down*

  23. This essay reminds me of Charles Eisenstein’s “The Farthest Shore” which arrived in my email in box just yesterday. While coming at the central concept from a different direction, his thoughts are summed up at the end: “Power over life. Endless wealth. Unassailable safety. What a good description of the priorities of America over my lifetime, with its full spectrum dominance and homeland security, its explosion of (financial) wealth, lockdowns, total information awareness, the incursion of “liability” into every corner of public life, and the removal of all the fun playground equipment… But the alternative to taking the terrifying risks of life and love is worse: to hold oneself apart and never plunge all the way into relationship; never plunge all the way into life, and thus, never to fully exist.”

    I see this all around me. Just yesterday, our local swimming pool announced that season passes are now available. Going to the pool’s web page, the pool rules were published. Prominent among them were

    *No diving from pool side.
    *No competitive breath-holding or prolonged underwater swimming permitted.

    Needless to say, diving boards were removed long ago. No, wait. This is a newer facility. They were never installed.

    When I read these rules, my mind went back to my own childhood. The local pool had not one diving bard, but two, a high board and a low board. Diving was permitted from the side where the pool depth exceeded 5 feet. The joy of going to that pool was in sharp and depressing contrast to today’s oh-so-safe, sedate, and, quite frankly, boring experience at our local pool today.

    More to the point, I can tell you from my own personal experience that it took guts to go off that high dive the first time. It looks a lot higher from up there than it did down on the pool deck. The lifeguards helped you to confront your fear and work up the courage to go off the end by not allowing you to go back down the ladder once you’d gone up. If you went up, you had to go off — no chickening out. I won’t claim that going off was a transformative experience, but looking back, in some small way, it must have been. I can still remember the experience many decades later. It was in some small way a rite of initiation — a rite of initiation that is denied today’s youth.

    To underscore JMGs contention, it was predominantly boys who took up the challenge.

    And no competitive breath-holding? No prolonged underwater swimming? Please show me even one child who has been harmed by such challenging activities. Or is preventing harm not the point, but rather preventing children from challenging themselves?

    In the name of safety, we have forfeited for our children exactly what we are trying to preserve — a fully engaged and rewarding life.

  24. Hi John,
    I’m informed by the ever-reliable National Enquirer that no less than King Charles “actually FEARS he’ll become a WEREWOLF!” The article within explains, “Incredibly, Charles is also said to fear he may be a werewolf after learning his ancestor, mad King George III, suffered from porphyria, the bizarre condition behind the mythical half-man, half-wolf beasts.”
    I can see it now, a headline about that frightening fellow across the pond: TRUMP’s the SPAWN of a WEREWOLF’S LOVE CHILD! Secretly recruiting FROG-WORSHIPPING DEPLORABLES for his WEREWOLF ARMY!

  25. What a horrible society to raise children! If they don’t get autism from those medical procedures that the government requires, they get pushed into trans-ology when they hit school. If they somehow maintain their sanity, health, and gender by the time they hit college and career age, if they happen to be white males, they have no chance at a white-collar career. If they are straight males and they want to marry — whoo! — the field is littered with independent American women who will cry intimidation and rape if they don’t want you in their life or chew you up and spit you out as an initiation rite if they do.
    Anything else seems better.
    When the world you have created is hostile to healthy child and young adult development, you put yourself at the wrong end of natural selection.

  26. Dearest JMG,

    Many months ago I wrote comments telling that I had started writing a book. I want to thank you for your encouragement at that time, in particular your encouragement to just “Write!”

    I have found a deep, insightful, strong, powerful muse/voice inside me and have been taking your advice to heart. The thing is that this project has sprawled! I now have the outline for a set of at least 4 books, all interconnected, (on the scale of the Lord of the rings and/or War and Peace) with spirituality/economics/financial/ freedom/justice/materialism and, of course, “magic”/the unseen/mysticism all involved in each storyline.
    They are historical “fiction” (I put that term in quotes because really it is based entirely in “truth” and is based in actual events with some liberties taken to tell the story….)

    The good news is that I have outlined and diagrammed the first book (and most of the three others) and have about 50 pages of it written. I’m not ready to discuss the plot yet etc. But will say the story starts 35 million years ago and runs through the present day, through multiple generations of interconnected families. And, while going back to Europe at times, is an american tale. Rooted in a little known spot, and a little known family (both of which are strangely not covered much in the history books even though they are pivotal! to our history), and their interconnected journey.

    I hesitated to write this comment, except it seems we are in synchronicity. I also, while researching my book, went into a bit of what I thought was a Rabbit hole, but instead, (with much synchronicity and spine tingling), gave me the entire book in my head, which I have been doggedly and persistently trying to get down on paper. Also, your post lines up entirely with this book in ways that I can’t begin to tell at this moment, again, synchronicity.

    So, and I realize this might not sound connected to this conversation, but I can assure you that it is, I am compelled to ask 2 questions:

    1. What is the astrological significance of the date June 28 throughout history?

    I don’t know much about astrology so I post this here in hopes that you or someone else here knows something.

    2. What is the significance of the crow? What does it represent? I am particularly interested in the Druid ideas/beliefs and European ideas, but any and all thoughts welcome. (I have read most everything I can find online so at this point looking for something with more depth.)

    Finally, I hate to admit this, but I have never read H.P. Lovecraft…… That said, I am glad of it now! because I feel that his work would end up influencing the stories I want to tell too much.

    Thanks again to you and all of the wonderful commenters here at ecosophia. I couldn’t have even attempted to start this project without all of you. It seems to me now this path is a lonely one, all alone, so I look for the connections with like minded people to help me to find the strength to carry on. (Please don’t take that to mean I’m in a bad way! I am better than I have ever been honestly. But any spiritual help is always beneficial to keep one on the path.)



  27. Fifth Wednesday ask: Universal Studios style match up between Werewolf Trump, Frankenstein Biden and shadowy vampiric figure manipulating both of them!

  28. @Jason #25, et al: Here is some more berserker fodder:

    I don’t know if this guy needed to hold the other guy down for that long, but between our failing social structures, and lack of protection from police, I see more vigilante type situations arising. Aka outlaw situations. That’s the breeding ground for protection rackets and gangs -our proto-warbands.

    Also @JMG: I’m glad you mentioned that both sides of the forever culture war need to look at what each are repressing, because it will come back. It seems ever more sane to look for that abandoned center, or other type of ternary, because the binary seems to be such a horn-lock (to use a masculine image), one may take the other down, but the other one is going to go with it. I guess that may also be because in many ways its a uniparty. Retrotopia’s DemReps indeed.

  29. As I enter my mid-40’s, I look back with surprise on how quickly American society has changed. When I was coming of age in the late 1990’s, traditional ideas about masculinity and pathways to become a man were still the norm (at least for the working class in the Midwest). Young men today have few healthy or normal paths forward. I feel complicit to a certain extent, but it’s taken me over 20 years to climb from my working class origins to a comfortable Upper-middle class corporate position and one misstep or incorrect pronoun could send me tumbling back down. I’m careful to never let my interactions with co-workers stray beyond the most superficial of pleasantries, and greedily watch my net worth ratchet higher. My spouse isn’t on board with collapsing now and avoiding the rush (She likes the McMansion and foreign travel), so I have leaned into my Gen-X tendency to ennui. My concessions to the long emergency include maintaining physical fitness and teaching my children how to garden and use guns. Whenever the collapse advances far enough for the young men to reassert themselves, I hope they burn the remains of this society to ashes and put heads on pikes, even if its my own.

  30. Arr-arr-arooo!

    Hehe. Nice post! Trump as werewolf makes more sense than it should. I looked at the detective series book. It sounds young adult. What is the reading age? Would it compare to someone like Percy Jackson in reading level?

  31. Robert Eggers recent viking film The Northman addresses the wolf cult initiation directly.

  32. I’ve read the words “lycantrioy” and “werewolf”, and I’ve thought quickly in this 80s British movie:

    Do you have watched it? What do you think on that transgressive and original approach to the werewolves world?(OK, I’m not impartial, I like it).
    Somebody here has quoted the name of Paul Naschy as “werewolf”. Good mention, thanks! I’m a big Naschys fan…

  33. The late Malidoma Somé had some pungent things to say about our modern absence of any proper rite of passage from boyhood to manhood, he emphasized the extreme harm that the lack of such a rite does to Western societies, and he predicts that this lack will eventually destroy our modern societies.

    Somé was African (Dagara, from Burkina Faso), and underwent his initiation as a man later in adolescence than most boys would in his tribe, so he writes from his own, somewhat atypical experience. His description echoes strongly what our host says about our own distant ancestors.

    The cohort of boys are ceremoniously taken away from their village and away from women, and led into the wilderness under the guidance of men, where they will live for a month or two. There they undergo hard physical and emotional trials, they are deprived of full sleep, they are taught tribal lore for men by their elders, they experience things that by our own modern lights cannot happen, they encounter other-than-human persons of power (not all of them friendly, and some even that kill and eat humans), and they enter other realities beyond the mundane world, sometimes with the aid of mind-altering commestibles prepared by the initiating elders. In every cohort, a number of boys die in the course of this work, and that fact is acceptable to the tribe. Eventually the survivors return in a group to their village, boys no longer, but men.

    The only comparable ritual we have in modern American society (apart from the military boot camp) is the college experience–all the way from the elders teaching cultural lore right down to the sleep deprivation, the mind-altering substances, the systematic breaking of the taboos of childhood, and the numbers of young people who die in the course of the college experience. But we do it quite incompetently, and it takes us much longer (forsooth!). Also, our culture actually believes that college is doing something else–providing information, training skills and giving out credentials, not conducting a real (but badly done) initiatory rite of passage from boy- or girlhood into adulthood.

    [Somé’s books are Ritual: Power, Healing and Community (1993), Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic, and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman (1994), and The Healing Wisdom of Africa (1998). The first book is by far the best; the other two have been “fluffed out” with New-Age woo-woo, though they still have value for their account of Dagara practices.]

  34. @Orion (#29):

    Your description–through multiple generations of interconnected families–makes me very eager to read your series. Way to go!

  35. Quin, as always, thanks for this.

    Jeff, duly corrected — and your vote has been tabulated.

    Yorkshire, yes, very much so; ritual shapeshifting into felid forms is a thing in some African and central American native cultures.

    Uncle Albert, you’re welcome.

    Team10tim, duly tabulated.

    Bruce, er, I think you may have misunderstood this post. I wasn’t making any comments about wolf-spirits, however punctuated or capitalized. I was talking about a particular tradition in Indo-European societies and its archetypal dimension, which is again specific to those societies. (A lot of people have forgotten that Jung pointed out that some archetypes are universal but many, many others are not.) What your traditions teach you about wolves is entirely relevant to those traditions and the people who follow them, and potentially to those who live in the same land — but again, that was not what I was talking about.

    AA, are you proposing that as a fifth Wednesday post?

    Btidwell, thank you!

    Siliconguy, I have no idea.

    Daniel, I think a lot of this is hardwired into the nervous systems of many young men — there are good evolutionary reasons why that should be so — and they’ll do their best to recreate the old traditions if they have half a chance. As for the ludus latrunculorum, hmm! Fascinating; that’s quite possible.

    Daiva, it’s going to happen — I just had to give the werewolves some space first.

    OtterGirl, for many middle-class women, dogs are a substitute for children, thus the nauseating term “fur babies.” Dogs never grow up and insist on living their own lives, so they’re very attractive for a certain class of women.

    Han, yep. I’ve corrected it.

    Justin, I was mostly working from secondary sources; E.M. Butler’s Ritual Magic discusses that tradition, and so (in a different vein) does much of the literature on LDS founder Joseph Smith. Cowboys are quite the reversion to Indo-European type; it’s not surprising that cowboy music includes a fine example of the Wild Hunt in the form of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” (as Jung himself pointed out). Your vote is tabulated; as for occult America, I hope so!

    Phutatorius, hmm! I may actually read that one of these days.

    Marko, I think a lot of men feel that way. I’ve tabulated your vote.

    Ken B, I was also bullied savagely by such men and boys when I was a kid, and yes, you’ve misunderstood this post. I’m not offering a model of masculinity for all and sundry; I’m suggesting that unless our culture provides outlets for the many boys and young men who do fit that model, we’re not going to get past the current cultural mess. I’d like to suggest, though, that you sit with that claim of yours — “Men are muscle. That’s all we are.” — and reflect on the bitter self-hatred that statement reflects. I’d also suggest that if you’re going to claim that the woke movement is nothing more than basic empathy, you spend some time listening to the torrent of death and rape threats being flung by transwomen and their enablers at women who don’t agree with the woke ideology, or the bullying dished out by woke ideologues more generally to those who disagree with them, and see how well that corresponds to your claim.

    Pygmycory, good heavens. Now there’s a blast from the past. Yes, I also recall that story.

    Kimberly, I’d encourage you to read up on 19th-century literature on sexual pathology. Yes, lifelong sexual repression backed up by stark terror that you’ll fry in Hell if you admit to yourself that you feel aroused will in fact make such things possible. Did demonic entities also get involved? Quite possibly; as Dion Fortune points out, demonic obsession is very often the cause of mental illness and even more often a side effect.

    Steve, are you suggesting this as a fifth Wednesday post?

    George, exactly! “Toxic masculinity” is a very vague label, and it can refer to anything from actual male nastiness to the systematic pathologization of maleness. (There is also, of course, such a thing as toxic femininity…) Young men going through their peak years of virility are a challenge to every society — a potential blessing if the challenge is met well, a potential curse if it’s not. A case has been made by historians, in fact, that one of the reasons so many ancient societies built big things from stone is that hauling multi-ton blocks of stone gave young men a way to work off their energy constructively; the graffiti scrawled on pyramid stones by the builders in Old Kingdom Egypt, basically gang tags put there by the work crews, would seem to support this. Glad you’re finding Ariel good company!

    Clarke, a fine summary! Yes, we’re facing a world-class mess, and a shortage of strong young men who are motivated to throw their energies into maintaining a viable society is one serious part of that.

    Kevin O, the best summary of the evidence I’ve found so far is a book-length study, Werewolves, Warriors and Winter Sacrifices by Anders Kaliff and Terje Oestgaard. It covers the last century of research very well and has a robust bibliography of sources — many of which are available on sites such as

    Jeanne, no argument there.

    Jason, yes, I heard about that. The berserkrgang is a reality. I knew a martial artist with a strong interest in Celtic scholarship who believed he’d worked out the method the Irish used to achieve the same state; of course he never tested it, as homicidal mania isn’t a useful state in most situations!

  36. Two recollections: In the ancient days of just before and of early 4chan, when there was /b/ and little else, our rites to break the taboos of boyhood were the walls of pain, gore galore of every single atrocity documented on film, before 4chan, it was which was the depositary of such things. Our most taboo of rites was to take child pornography, posted freely in those savage days, and grit ourselves to masturbate to completion. The raiding and trolling of the rest of the internet was par for the course.

    The other thought, more directly related to the theme of werewolves, was the plague of the furries, taboo for even the hive of scum and villainy of the /b/tards. “Suffer not the furfag to live” was the phrase we lived by, and yet those animal headed degenerates never did give up their presence, which in time begrudgingly begat some respect in hand with the unceasing insults.

    To what offramp do we get off? “Don’t forget, you’re here forever” is the phrase we bandied about half jokingly/deadly seriously. By the Simpsons formulation of the phrase, the answer is “Do it for her”. A portion went for variations of imaginary lady of chivalric poetry, and that was their “her”. Some yearn for the day the collapse of the internet comes to 4chan and frees them from the hold they cling on. The rites of baking threads and ritualposting continue, the place has always been terrible, the channel where the threads flow constantly towards oblivion, ever present.

  37. Even 40 or 50 years ago both prospective blue collar and white collar boys had rites of initiation and manhood that no longer exist beyond the military. My acquaintances in the Pipefitters union have told me of the types of both hazing ( and positive) initiation rites that go in to an apprentice making the transition to a Journeyman. Most of these still exist but are seriously under threat. Even upper class men had initiation rites built in to the fraternity and secret society system as recently as 30 or 40 years ago. These have been mocked and trivialized in Hollywood and modern culture but are more significant than most people realize. I belonged to a fraternity in the late 70’s early 80’s at a college where the greek system controlled the majority of upper class housing and thus more than 60% of men were members ( more than 50% of my pledge class were ROTC and would go on to the military right after college in a time and place that was common.) We went through a 6 month rite of passage involving late night rituals with occult symbols, intricate tasks, and dangerous traditions that definitely created a kind of transition to manhood. I believe these helped create men who populated the PMC at a time when it could still get things done, win wars, and put the man on the moon. All of this has been stripped away by the administrators of universities in the name of “in loco parentis”, and ridding the world of toxic masculinity. Where once we gathered to celebrate surviving a week where we had to carry a railroad tie wherever we went, by singing bawdy drinking songs on the roof of the fraternity house boys now huddle in corners tapping out memes on their phones.

  38. @ Ken Breadner #17

    “Men are muscle. That’s all we are.”

    Might you find a way to broaden your view of what you, and what other men, ARE? Muscle is good. But it is far from the whole story of you. Or the whole story of any man.

    Blessings upon your goings and doings.

  39. Helix, exactly. Exactly. Nothing is more threatening to a society based on conformity and pleasure-seeking than the willingness of individuals to push their own limits.

    Gregsimay, Charles should certainly become a werewolf. I imagine him sprouting fur and dancing through the coronation, to the tune of this classic from my misspent youth. As for those latter headlines, I look forward to them.

    DT, I’ve sometimes wondered if there’s a collective death wish behind all this. One of the things nobody in the mainstream likes to mention is that every person who transitions surgically is by definition permanently sterile thereafter. You don’t encourage children to do that unless you’ve basically given up on the survival of your society.

    Orion, glad to hear it. (1) No calendar date has a fixed astrological meaning, because our calendar isn’t synchronized to the heavens. Thus every year’s June 28 has a different astrological pattern. (2) If you’ve read everything online you’ve covered everything I could fit into a comment here. I’m not sure what there is in the way of books on crow symbolism — anything else?

    Drew, erm, okay, your vote is tabulated.

    Lothar, good heavens. Synchronicity strikes!

    Karl, I wonder how many people with their hands on the levers of power feel the way you do. That would explain the utterly self-destructive policies our society has embraced.

    Jastan, I’m not familiar with Percy Jackson. The Ariel Moravec stories are written at a prose level that intelligent older children can handle — that’s what you have to do to make a book readable by American adults these days, due to our lousy school systems — and it contains nothing inappropriate for young adults, certainly; I want to write these for the largest possible audience.

    Douglas, interesting. An idea whose time has come, maybe!

    Chuaquin, never watched it. Sorry.

  40. I have rarely (never?) appreciated a voice fiction or nonfiction as much as I enjoy reading JMG, 13 thank you ‘s
    I know I will enjoy any and all posts, but the suggestion of hearing you write about G.I. Gurdjief, has be very intrigued . . .

  41. Jeff Russell #2, whatever military technology is available, doctrine will develop around its use. If the best transport a fighting force has are golf carts, there’ll be nuance to the best formation to drive in, whether to fight mounted or dismounted, and if dismounted, exactly where to stop and get off relative to terrain and enemy position. 🙂

  42. JMG,

    As always, the synchronicities stun me. I was just thinking today about how men no longer have rites of passage, variations of which we have had through most of our prehistory and history, and how the lack of those rites has left most men uncertain of how to BE in the 21st century.

    To Ken Breadner @17

    You are most *definitely* reading this article wrong, and you also have no idea what you are talking about if you can assert with a straight face that “woke” just means “basic empathy” (an assertion as catechistic as any I’ve heard from the most fundamentalist of Christians). “Woke” describes a sanctimonious moral posturing in support of whatever moral stance the military-corporate-financial-media-higher’ed complex mandates at a given moment. “Woke” is supported by “basically good people” who don’t mind papering over the fact that one can be empathetic with competing, and even conflicting, perspectives. “Woke” screams “love and compassion” over and over again at a free jazz concert, all while insinuating that that love and compassion are only deserved by the “basically good people.” If I had grown up as a fundamentalist Christian, and I did, I would say that “woke” is a fundamentalist new religious movement that has grown up in the void left by the New Atheists and is primarily a way of social signaling.

  43. Not very well but yes a Wednesday post about the philosophy of Evelyn Underhill would be great. I did a search and didn’t see a mention. I’ve been reading you since the Archdruid Days and I can’t recall her from there either.

  44. Karl, JMG,

    I grew up in the Canadian elite class. I’ve noticed a lot of people have an odd respect for me having chosen to deliberately walk away from it all. Few of them can admit it publicly, but once it’s clear this isn’t the posturing of youth and I’ve actually walked away from it all, the response is almost always positive, or at least neutral.

    The thing is, a lot of the people I know through my family will quietly tell me that their lives are unsatisfying, immoral, and destructive, and more than one has mused that perhaps the world would be better if they were to dangle from lampposts, but although they wish they could follow in my footsteps, the costs to give it all up are too high: they have spouses, and children; their family would never understand; they have no clue how to function without the perks they get; and so they go through the motions clinging to a system they despise.

    So, here in Canada, the mentality Ken describes does seem to be a fairly common one among our elite. Given how closely intertwined our elite classes are, this probably says it’s a very, very popular mentality for the elite in the US as well.

  45. Dear Mr. Greer,
    I’d like to see more of your insights on our evolving collapse, particularly regarding the status of our energy sources (fossil fuels, solar, wind, nuclear, hydro) for the fifth Wednesday. I find this sort of stuff endlessly fascinating.

  46. I would like to second Justin Patrick Moore’s idea for the tension between the Uranian and Neptunian influences in relation to the Aquarian Age. It’s been kind of baffling to me to see how conformist our society is, how the mass media and government got everyone to march in complete lockstep, and then ask myself how this manifests the Uranian/Aquarian Age. Although I guess such a question is a fine theme for meditation. I see the answer as being more that there were some Aries influences in the Piscean age due to astrological factors, and we must be going through some kind of Neptunian/Piscean influences, age due to astrological factors. But then again my knowledge of astrology is junior at best. In other words, where my individualism at?

  47. An old (fiction) story of a female going to the wild side, classic here in Finland, The Wolf’s Bride Written in beautifully archaic language, don’t know how well it translates.

    Thank you for the post, matches some of my intuitions. In Europe there is an undercurrent of humans turning into animal-like bestiality that is loathed and demonized. This is unlike the non-christianized cultures that seem to have more benevolent relationship to animal characters. Of course this is a too sweeping generalization.

  48. How widespread was the belief that witches and/or werewolves were immortal, and could persecution of those believed to be either have been motivated by simple jealousy?

  49. Is the Witch of Criswell available in the U.S.?
    The link leads to a U.K. publisher. Ordering a book from across the Atlantic really racks up the shipping charges (ask me how I know and thank you, IngramSpark for that lesson).

    I’m interested because I’m interested AND because Bill’s interested enough to read the book and possibly interview you for the Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop ( podcast.

    He’s their interviewer and Deb Beamer (the owner) gives him some latitude in guests. You’re not their typical cozy mystery author but Deb also likes the offbeat guest to keep things interesting.

    But she has to have the book in the store to sell as the podcast’s purpose is selling books and keeping one of the few mystery-centered bookshops in business.

    So, are you available in the U.S. or is that coming?

  50. JMG, I am proposing Gurdjieff as the post for the 5th Wednesday but suggesting that if you can’t do it this time, then perhaps at some later date.

  51. john, thank you for the last two posts. it seems the more i learn the less i know about whats going on in the world today so i appreciate the clarity these last two weeks have blessed me with. if anyone is interested, the Dan Davis History youtube channel delves deeper into the initiation themes mentioned here.

  52. @JMG,

    Long-time reader here, but I haven’t commented for a while. This post grabbed my attention, since it touches a nerve about what our society’s doing to young men… and I really do wish I shared your optimism about imminent blowback.

    I am a young man myself: 26 years old, not married yet, but gainfully employed, and hoping to find someone to settle down with sooner rather than later. But I’ve already watched the degenerate culture around me successfully turn so many promising young men my age into NEETs (Not Engaged in Education, Employment, or Training), or what Dmitri Orlov calls “Office Plankton.”

    The worst was a boy I knew when we were in middle-school, a bright and outgoing kid, who seemed certain to make it a long ways in some skilled profession or another. But he was on ADHD medication, and by the time he finished high school the nasty effects had really kicked in – he was depressed, socially withdrawn, unmotivated, and put most of the energy he still had into video games. And then a few years later he switched genders. He’s still employed, though, in one of those low-skilled office jobs that’s probably going to get taken over by AI sometime soon.

    Then I had another friend, also diagnosed with ADHD as a child, whose parents had the good sense not to drug him, but who stupidly went onto drugs himself as an adult. And then in a few years he went from being a successful undergrad student, physically strong and socially involved, to having no social life and spending nearly all his waking hours in libraries, reading up on his favorite scientific fields. He has vague ambitions to eventually pursue a scientific career, though at the moment nobody has managed to persuade him to get any kind of job, much less apply to grad school.

    And then another young man I know, now in his thirties, who as a depressed 15-year-old dealt with his problems by pilfering his father’s opioids, and who has spent most of his life since then on various kinds of drugs. He has a work-from-home job doing data management for an insurance company; no real ambition to move on to anything else, and when the day’s work is done he mostly just sleeps, or reads in bed, or watches TV, or shops on the internet for trucks and things (but without ever buying any). It’s nearly gotten to the point of ruining his marriage, though his wife has proven remarkably patient for the time being.

    Now, at least in my own experience, the young men involved with drugs have come off the worst, but pretty-much my whole generation seems to be dealing with our society’s hatred of masculinity by just “checking out,” spending nearly all of their time indoors, with video games and Netflix and pornography, and doing the minimum work necessary to pay the bills… not by joining gangs or doing other things of a more wolfish character. (And this isn’t even just a US + Europe thing – just look at the popularity of the “laying flat” movement in China.)

    Now watching all this has of course made me quite sad – and heaven knows that most of the young men in my life would have been better off if they had came of age on Eurasian steppes in 4000 BC and been initiated into the wolf cult. And yet, I’m pessimistic. I think that the people who insist on treating masculinity like a disease are winning – at least in my own experience, where the normal response of the repressed young man is to break, withdraw from society, and live an isolated and socially irrelevant life.

    Granted, I still agree with you that the limits to growth are going to put an end to all of this before the end of the century, and its precisely because life these days is so depressing that I kind of want the deindustrial age to come sooner rather than later.

    As for a fifth week post: I am an avid reader of New Maps, which I found through your blog. I think it would be fascinating if you picked out five to ten of your favorite New Maps stories, and devoted a blog post to explaining why they ended up on your list, and what they have to say about our deindustrial future.

  53. “Nobody’s more of a werewolf than me, okay? Trust me, every full moon, it’s just terrific, I’m the greatest werewolf you’ve ever seen. My fangs are yuge, it’s fantastic”

    If only Donald knew about his famous possible-ancestor when he was President; he might not have signed off on lifting the federal species protection for wolves!

  54. Mr. Greer,

    Absorbing post, as usual and it happens to touch on something I have been ruminating on for a while.

    As I’ve indicated to you before, I am a criminal defenses lawyer in a small practice of two attorneys. We specialize in serious state and federal felonies. I would venture to guess my client roster is 98% men, which is not shocking given that that’s always been the case. What lately alarms me about my clients (the ones who are “good” for whatever they are accused of, at any rate) is that violent criminality seems to be trending younger. In the short time (like 4 years short) I’ve been involved in the criminal justice system it used to be that murders and other such violent felonies generally were committed by military aged males 19-25. These days we are seeing 12, 13, and 14 year old boys charged with murder, gun assaults etc.

    That said, regardless of age, regardless of race, regardless of class even, the defining characteristic they usually share is that the vast majority grew up in a household with zero adult male presence. Like none. Grandpa’s usually dead. Dad’s usually itinerant or incarcerated. Uncles are the same. Mom’s working three jobs. Meanwhile, the kids are usually raised by some combination of subsidized daycare, their siblings, and/or Grandma. What results is an overgrown little boy with the temper and impulse control of a four year old, and the brute strength of a man.

    Meanwhile, all their care-givers go on and on about “evidence based” interventions that all curiously never include male mentorship or training–let alone initiation rituals. Which is probably why they don’t work. In fact, like you said, the subtext of their “interventions” tends to suggest they’re trying to turn them into girls– or, worse, give them powerful psychotropic medications that at best dope them and at worst make them more violent. It’s worth pointing out, from a feminist perspective, this also is a recipe for domestic violence. The grim irony seems lost on the “professionals” that are charged with socializing them.

    Not for nothing I’m also noticing, usually on the higher end of the income distribution, an explosion in sexual assault cases between teenagers that are either fiction or exaggerated in the extreme — usually at the expense of some hapless boy who is either innocent or did something that would warrant a talking to, not police intervention and potentially a spot on the sex offender registry*.

    I don’t know what’s coming next culturally. But a bunch of vilified, idle males hanging around is not good.


    Anonymous Millennial

    *Disclaimer: I am not denying the lived experience of any victim of sexual/domestic violence on list or off who reads this. I’m simply pointing out an alarming trend that, left unchecked, will only cause more problems for true victims.

  55. JMG – yeah I am not too familiar with Percy Jackson either. Was hoping the name would be relevant to you. I’ll pick up a copy and see how it goes. I think it would be good to get a realistic serial story about magic for their young adult reading minds. Cheers!

  56. Another excellent post!
    perhaps MR Greer and my fellow readers would like to hear an Eastern Orthodox take on werewolves- the oct 28 2021 edition of my favorite Orthodox podcast had a discussion of various malign (and some benign) supernatural entities- monsters- and there was a werewolf segment- about werewolves as actual entities (not as the archetypes used in initiation rites) it is fascinating, and a good representative of the podcast as a whole.
    Lord Of Spirits oct 28 2021 (

  57. Robert Mathiessen compared college to a (badly done) initiation ritual. As adolescent, I thought: “I will consider myself an adult man when I have travelled for several weeks alone through a foreign country without having anybody to speak with in my native language and without any backup source of cash.” I did so at age 21, also had a knife put to my neck (no harm done) and finished the three-week journey with less than a dollar in my pocket. It felt like an initiation to me, though certainly less complete than a traditional one.

  58. I think the story (epic? saga?) Of Finn MacCool (I will not try to reproduce the Gaelic from memory) fits the pattern of young men living as wolves, at least part of the year. But, then, we also see the civilizing process … learning poetry, frex. Which was also a very warlike art in both Celtic and Anglo-Saxon and Norse societies. Having heard a reproduction of one of those Old English epics in class, the similarity to rap – which as a musical genre has lasted something like half a century while other pop forms have come and gone like mayflies – ties in excellently well.

    About the reading level of the Ariel Moravec books, yes, I noticed that they could have very easily have been marketed as YA. IF you’d handed me that story when I was 10 years old, I probably could have followed it easily. Which does not detract from its charm as a pleasant and interesting read in my old age.

    And for young men – I have grandsons in their teens, and yes, this issue concerns me deeply. On the 18th birthday of one of them, he was going on a dive in Cozumel, independently, not under adult supervision, and I tucked some cash into his birthday card for that. His mother gathered up all the cash and checks for him, to my open-mouthed amazement. I certainly hope his going away to college – Santa Cruz, CA, a continent away – means no long-distance “Have you done your homework? Did you take your meds?” from Mom. I also note his younger brother acts as feral as he can get away with when the whole family is having Sunday brunch, but when it was just them and their dad, he behaved quite normally. This is the cohort I have a hunch will pull off a middle-aged rebellion that will be life-changing.

  59. One of the hottest areas in romance is shapeshifter.

    Wolves, bears, tigers, dragons, you name it as long as it’s macho.
    That is to say, you don’t generally have your hero a were-Pekinese.

    These male leads are ultra-alpha and would be described by any right-thinking PMC female (who buy these books like crazy) as the epitome of toxic masculinity.

    You’d think the eager readers were looking for something they couldn’t get in real life!

    The subgenre includes reverse harem, with one woman and her pack of adoring, ultra-macho yet cooperative males. (Everyone I know agrees it’s more fantastical than any fantasy).

    It can also head rapidly into werewolf bondage porn. It’s much easier to find submissive women and dominant men in this subgenre than the other way around. Again, I have to wonder how many readers secretly want a man in their life who’s not a wimp, despite what they say otherwise.

  60. For the fifth Wednesday, I’d like:
    How the Chinese avoid total collapse
    The future of the military in the long descent.

  61. Hi JMG,

    Great that you write something for young men.

    It seems to me that the woke ideology is a something that was cooked up by the Fortune 500 / Wall street , the democratic party, and maybe the pentagon. I guess they do what they can with their limited views … Am I off?

  62. The state of New Jersey used to have an initiation of sorts for young men and young women.

    It was called Action Park, an amusement, motor, and water park in Verne Township in northern New Jersey. It was conveniently located with 45 minutes of New York City.

    A good friend said every time he went, he left blood behind.
    At least six people died during its years of operations and countless people ended up in the emergency room to the point that Action Park paid for a dedicated ambulance to the local hospital’s E.R.

    It was widely known as Class Action Park and Traction Park.
    A book by the owner’s son:
    The jaw-dropping documentary:

    They don’t let you run an amusement park like this anymore! At the same time, there’s no question that a great many people adored the place. It let them test themselves in a way they could not do anywhere else.

  63. Huh. Most memes of The Orange One literally lionize him, not lycanthropize him. But I get it, they’re similar energy patterns.

    >Men are muscle. That’s all we are.

    Well, then, I have the song for you.

    Good luck with that.

  64. JMG wrote

    ritual shapeshifting into felid forms is a thing in some African and central American native cultures.

    The best known historical example was the Jaguar Knights, who were one of two most elite warrior societies of the Aztec Empire (the Eagle Knights were the other). The Jaguar Knights dressed from head to toe in jaguar costumes, and believed that their outfits and the rituals they practiced would give them the qualities of their totem animal in battle. They were devotees of the cult of Tezcatlipoca, the Aztec god of war, who was often represented as a jaguar.

  65. Yesterday morning I was meditating on the Ogham few Fearn, specifically on why the associated animal is a wolf. This brought some more associations to mind and was a nice synchronicity to boot. Thanks for the interesting post!


  66. Just read Kris Kershaw’s book on Odin & the mannerbund, so this was an interesting way of looking at that.
    I really do hope we figure out something for young men in this culture. The college experience and then touring the country in a diy band, plus also doing solitary retreats since I was 20 kind of gave me what I needed in that regard, but this is something that I’ve been thinking about for a while. It does look like it ends up in war bands. Also, I think this is partly why trap and hardcore gangster rap is so popular- young people who didn’t grow up fighting crave that experience.

    +1 for Gurdjieff. If you permit me a sideshoot, his work seems to be in the same vein, and influential, to some of the other thinkers you’ve been talking about (Wilbur, Gebser &ct) – he was also influential in how Richard Rose structured his teachings. He took Gurdjieff’s man #1, 2, 3 4 and looked at how 1 is instinctual, 2 is emotional, 3 is intellectual, 4 is integrated and uses all. 5+ are some form of enlightened, but I don’t think Gurdjieff actually ever got that far himself. Though, like every conceptual framework, this has it’s faults, it can be a handy set of glasses for looking at things. And interesting phenomenon is noticing the movement from one level to another. For instance, from instinctual to emotional, there is often a “salvation” type experience, where one gives up drugs and alcohol for Jesus, or for a wife and family. Emotional to intellectual can be “losing your religion”, and intellectual to 4th way is realizing that the intellect alone won’t get there, there’s a lot more going on than the intellect can comprehend or analyze. Gurdjieff definitely was a very interesting fellow, a brilliant example of the sly man wise man – both cunning and wise, both a conman and a true seeker. Rose call him the best psychologist of the 20th century.

  67. There are elements of these traditions that persist out there, I can say…particularly in lucid dreaming/transformation operations. I Benandanti abide…

    Was gonna to say, I always thought the Orange One’s token was the toad, as you noted. I see him less as a figure of fear (he would love to be that, I’m sure) and more as a simple con, a fregatura propria, ‘na truffa perfetta. One visit to Atlantic City will tell you all you need to know about the man…

    As for the “trials of masculinty” in this country: I’m sure there’s some of that, but I think it’s also overblown, to some degree. There’s nothing stopping any young man from getting his USA Boxing passbook and going throught a true rite of initation in the squared circle. Nothing, that is, except the Will. It’s much easier to whine about being put upon by society than to step into the ring, y’see…


  68. For fifth Wednesday I would like to second Mr. Russell’s nomination for a post on “military history of the deindustrial future”.

  69. Update for comment # 50:

    My comment was directed at Karl and JMG, not Ken and JMG. I had a brain fart there, and would like to apologize for the confusion it may have caused.

  70. One of my jobs is working at live events and something I noticed is that many of the younger men we are training are of a lesser quality than previous generations. They lack motivation, physical strength, and the attention span of the older workers. Intelligence can be difficult to measure for someone at a new job so I usually cut them some slack in the beginning. Also I was a real knucklehead not that long ago and remember what that was like.

    On the other hand when rap shows or MMA events come through I don’t look forward to working for them because it gets too wild. If we didn’t have huge security guards with stab proof vests wandering through the crowd and metal detectors at all the entrances it would quickly devolve into mayhem.

    I never put the two together until this article, so thanks for the perspective.

  71. Talking about synchronicity: My oldest son came home from primary school today, beaming with delight, telling me that physical education will be his most favorite subject – even more than usually – for the next few weeks, because they will be learning to fight. It’s running under the title “grappling and fair fighting” or something similar. Sounds like close contact which I think is a good thing. This is the first time I have ever heard that any sports teacher dares to do such a thing during regular lessons.


  72. Hwistle, yes, I’m aware of him, but I appreciate the transcript!

    Robert M, thanks for this. I was impressed by Somé’s work, but his comments along these lines gave rise to some of the most feckless of the male initiation schemes I mentioned. I hasten to say that was not his doing; a lot of men in the “men’s movement” scene read his books, and watered down what he had to say until it had all the potency of, say, Bud Lite.

    Mister N, yes, I saw that, and yes, it’s also an issue, of course.

    Ighy, ouch. Yeah, I heard about that. As for the offramp, that’s why the old wolf-rites had elders, who would kick some butt as needed to get the boys to finish growing up.

    Clay, a good point. I was startled to hear that here in East Providence, the mayor’s just arranged for the local plumbers and pipefitters union to work with the local high school to recruit apprentices straight out of school; initiations, not to mention real jobs, will follow promptly. Maybe some sanity is creeping back in.

    Miles, you’re most welcome and thank you. I’ve tabulated your vote.

    Rage Monster, maybe it was a timely post, then.

    Steve, so noted and I’ve tabulated your vote. I haven’t talked about Underhill, but by an odd turn of events I’ve ended up being initiated into the same esoteric order to which she belonged, and of course I’ve read a lot of her books; one way or another I’ll consider her for a discussion.

    Anonymous, that would explain a great deal. When that kind of dissatisfaction becomes extreme enough, the elite class will very often bring about the destruction of the system they run, simply because it’s the only way they can imagine getting out from under it.

    Thomas D, so noted and duly tallied.

    Merle, so noted and also duly tallied.

    Kristiina, thanks for this.

    AllenR, that’s a modern fantasy cliché. The only “witches” who were immortal were dim folk memories of goddesses — Baba Yaga, Black Annis, and the like. Witches and werewolves were always seen as human beings who had special powers; being human, they could be killed, and they could also die in less violent ways.

    Aldarion, so noted.

    Teresa, here’s a US link. Yes, it’s available here. The bookshop owner can also order it from Ingram or Publishers West, two of the big US distributors. It’s true that The Witch of Criswell isn’t a cozy mystery but it’s certainly not hardboiled! As for a podcast, sure — have Bill drop me an email (or make a comment marked NOT FOR POSTING here with your email address) and Sara will be in touch to schedule something.

    AA, so noted and tallied.

    Thomas, you’re most welcome.

    ThrownSandwich, I’ve heard many stories like this. The psychiatric drugs they put young people on are immeasurably destructive — and of course so is the society that mandates them. I’ve added your vote to the list!

    Luke, nah, he’d have announced that real wolves are tough enough to handle it.

    Millennial, thanks for the data points. What a steaming mess.

    Jastan, please let me know how it goes!

    Stephen A, thanks for this.

    Patricia M, good! The fianna, the warrior band that plays so central a role in Fionn’s tale, is a classic example of the later dark age version of the wolf-cult, still very much associated with the wilderness but no longer an age-linked initiatory experience. It’s equally indicative that Cú Chulainn’s name literally means “the hound of Culann” — there’s that canid symbolism again.

    Teresa, I plan on having wry fun with the shapeshifter romance genre as Ariel’s story continues, as there’s an awkward, somewhat bookish young werewolf in her future. I’ve already made fun of the Harry Potteresque sort of pseudomagical fantasy story, I will be doing the same with cozy mysteries, and so coming up with a werewolf romance series to make Ariel blush, giggle, and roll her eyes is par for the course. Your broader point is of course relevant; I’ve long since lost track of the number of self-proclaimed radical feminist women I know who are BDSM bottoms who wear dog collars and call some guy “master.” The return of the repressed is a powerful force! As for your vote, ahem — you have to pick one. One vote per reader!

    Tony C, I think it’s more complicated than that. I’ll consider a post in due time.

  73. Other Owen, trust me to do something different!

    Platypus, I’d include the Anyoto secret society of the Congo and the leopard secret societies of west Africa — famous and tolerably well documented.

    Morfran, you’re most welcome.

    Isaac, duly noted and tabulated.

    Fra’ Lupo, I hope the benandanti do in fact abide — we could use some protection for the harvests these days. As for the trials of masculinity, I think you underestimate the cultural pressures, backed by the educational and medical industries, that make life difficult for young men here these days. That said, the boxing ring is a great place to get an initiation, and one I’d recommend to young men.

    Brendhelm, so tabulated.

    Bucky, thanks for both these data points.

    Nachtgurke, excellent. Maybe he’ll learn to turn into a wolf someday!

  74. How synchronistic! I just read the thriller Wrath of the Wendigo by Clay Martin last week. Takes place in our current time and the forces that form to fight the corrupt and woke government create Wolf Lodges. The author describes detailed initiation rituals with wolf themes too.

  75. Thank you for the cultural-historical werewolf connections with archetypal masculinity and initiations, and current distorted and pained expressions of that energy. Yes, the masculine archetype is severely traumatized. Perhaps aligned with the topic, I’d be interested in this fifth Wednesday request, or down the road, on the early AD pronouncement: “The great god Pan is dead!” What’s that about from your perspective and where to its evolutions? Seems more esoteric and loaded with possibility than merely expressing the retreat of paganism as a credible metaphysics.

  76. With regard to some of your comments on the military.

    “…These days a rapidly growing fraction of the young men from working class backgrounds who used to keep the US military well supplied with recruits are walking away from military service, and they’re doing it with the encouragement of their elders; many of these latter, after all, are military vets who know exactly what the score is.”

    As a veteran I’d advise young men (and women) not to put much faith in the military having your back.

    “…the Veterans Administration medical system has turned into a sick joke. ”


    “The military used to be the great escape hatch for young men who couldn’t find a place in civil society, but that door’s been slammed shut in recent years as Pentagon bureaucrats push an increasingly strident woke ideology on the rank and file, and the benefits of military service have become increasingly limited when they’re not wholly imaginary; the salary you get as an enlisted man these days won’t keep your family fed and housed…”

    True, but young men in their teens and early 20s usually aren’t married, and they do get 3 hots and cot in addition to their pay. You mentioned boys living in the woods and enduring hardships – which won’t feed or house a family either. Seems to me this isn’t much of a reason for young men to reject the military as something to do during their transition period.

    As far as woke ideology I’m too old to comment. I got out more than 40 years ago before woke was a thing.

  77. Dear JMG, did I imagine it or are you writing a book on the Five Tibetan Rites, which I have recently started doing for the first time? What synchronicity, if so.

    I would like you to write a post on FEAR, which is something I live with day after day and seem to be incapable of getting ahold of, no matter what I do. I am autistic and have ADHD and OCD — life is really quite challenging. Sometimes I am so afraid I can barely function. What of? Everything and nothing. I wish I could be as competent and insouciant as many of the folks on this comment thread, who seem to know how to take things in their stride.

    I wonder what you think about entheogens/ayahuasca and all of that. Many western people are starting to take up such things and I wonder if that chimes somehow with the lack of coming-of-age rituals in this culture, as well as our crisis of meaning, and, of course, the fear that stalks many of us.

    Thank you for everything — you do give me courage

  78. There are other cultural escape hatches, but they are narrow. The outdoors, mountains and sea, offer something for young males in all cultures and societies, but whilst the raw materials, the direct encounter with forces more powerful than yourself (including the very real potential for death), are there, the mythic elements and ritual have been lost. It’s hard to write a symbolic language for reconstructing them, and it might not even involve the old wolf magic (in fact there are perhaps good reasons not to, as Fortune outlines), but young males everywhere need them.

    I consider myself lucky enough to have been initiated by that culture at a time I needed it the most, but the trouble is, if the outdoor culture is blind to its power and forces and can’t explain itself, its pure luck to stumble across the keys later in life (as I did by way of your writings) to make sense of the experience.

    Those keys and language need to be written. I better stop pointing in case the fingers point at me to write something.

  79. Ever-productive Archdruid, your post causes me to reflect back on the initiation rituals, tests, and trials I put myself through as a young man. From solo week-long-hikes in the wilderness, to very dangerous forays into native ethenogens, to multi-day solo bike-camping tours when NOBODY in my region did bike tours, to teaching myself to fly hang gliders and sharing thermals with hawks, ravens, and swifts, I deliberately sought out LOTS of solo tests, any of which could have resulted in my demise. My only mentors were the many books & articles I read on a variety of subjects, some relevent to the boy-to-man transition via initiatory rituals but most not.

    I’m wondering how many other readers may have gone through similar deliberate initiatory actions as I did. I didn’t know Levi’s dictum about “To know, to dare, to will, and TO BE SILENT” but I certainly applied his dictum then and now. Still, within limits, I’m curious and would enjoy hearing from others.

    My ongoing work with the OSA practices has caused me to realize that the lack of mature male mentors in the realm of initiatory practices was a notable lack in my life; I think you can go a long way with reading and self-initiation, but I can see lots of gaps in my knowledge and practices that likely could have been filled in by experienced older shamanistic and mystic mentors.

    Salutations to all!

  80. For the 5th Wednesday, I vote for Chinese resilience to collapse.

    Regarding initiations, I have been following Paul Waggener and his writings on Operation Werewolf for some time – he has a lot of practical advice on the realities of creating initiations and maintaining/developing such groups over time. He does appear to have a background in esoteric thought (particularly around the runes) and his Vakandibok has some interesting material on what appears to be a form of scrying.

    Regarding werewolf literature, my favourites are Markus Heitz’s novels Ritus and Sanctus (and the related vampire novels Kinder des Judas, Judassohn, Judastöchter, and Blutportale) – so far only available in German I believe.

  81. As for the 5th Wednesday vote, I find team10tim’s idea for “Chinese resilience to collapse” quite intriguing! Then again, this topic of masculinity—toxic, sacred, or otherwise—seems like a hot followup to today’s post. Choices, choices!

    If it’s allowed, can I split my vote half for Chinese resilience and half for masculinity? (based on the way the comments seem to be going the latter is going to win anyway)

  82. @Fa’ Lupo,

    You can reasonably shrug and say “Why don’t you just box?” when speaking to a man. A man is responsible for his actions or lack thereof. You aren’t adressing men when you talk about initiation, however. You are speaking to boys. Children.

    Your suggestion amounts to nothing more than asking children to take personal responsibility for raising themselves. That abrogation of responsibility by our elders is precisely what’s gotten society into the mess it is in.

    Any true initiation is going to be a BAD TIME. It is going to suck. If it does not, it doesn’t test you to your utmost. If it doesn’t test you it doesn’t let you prove yourself.

    If it’s a bad time, if it sucks, a great many boys are going to want to avoid the trouble if they can. Even more Devouring Mothers will try anything to convince the boys to skip and spare themselves the pain. So. If you want boys to become men you cannot leave it up to the boys.

    (Especially not in a society that doesn’t really like men.)


    Have you seen the idea that our society is possessed by the Devouring Mother archetype, just as Germany was once possessed by Wotan? I’ve seen it multiple places online, now. It seems to me that getting rid of initiation rituals to “spare” her sons is very in character for the devouring mother. Do you think the archetype could be behind it?

  83. @JMG (#79):

    I’ve always wondered whether much of the New-Age “woo” in Somé’s last two books was added at his publishers’ insistence, with an eye to increasing sales.

    BudLite indeed! Give me a good dark stout anytime.

  84. A relatively recent incident of werewolf crime is described in The Beast Of Jersey — the perpetrator had, among other things, nail-studded wristlets (of wolf skin, if I remember correctly), which he wore when committing his crimes. I have seen grimoire recipes for wolf transformation that involve such wristlets, perhaps in Solomonic texts, or in the Petit Albert. Otherwise, Montague Summers’ book on the werewolf might be worth a look. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of these ready to hand. (if only for the references)

    As for silver bullets — they are used often enough in folk practice as much against witches as as other theriomorphs, so I’m not sure that the efficacy of silver can be explained in terms of a longing for domesticity. Its apotropaic use is ancient and widespread, and its power against werewolves seems more like a special case of that more general power.

  85. @Darkest Yorkshire #47 re: Development of Doctrine

    Oh, I have no doubt – it’s informed speculation about what that doctrine might look like that I’m interested in, and JMG has the advantages of being 1) a military history buff, 2) a writer of fiction who has imagined various de-industrial futures and their power politics, and 3) has thought long and hard about what arc technology might take due to military constraints and others.

    If JMG doesn’t post on this anytime soon, I’m sure I’ll get to doing some of my own speculation, but it’s behind several other things on the priority list, and I’d have to beef up my chops in all three categories to be any good at it.

  86. It seems the word ‘vargr’ has descended into English as ‘vagrant’ – the wandering outsider, sometimes dangerous.

  87. I’d like to cast my vote for Chinese resilience to collapse – or rather the ability to collapse partway, then bounce back with their culture still solidly recognizable afterwards.

  88. Hi JMG,

    I see.

    An additional thought, I think there are some positives to the woke movements, like less discrimination towards people who have a sexuality different than the majority, as an obvious example.

  89. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’d like to see more on mundane astrology…Perhaps a discussion of the differing charts for the birth of the United States?

  90. “As for silver bullets — they are used often enough in folk practice as much against witches as as other theriomorphs, so I’m not sure that the efficacy of silver can be explained in terms of a longing for domesticity. Its apotropaic use is ancient and widespread, and its power against werewolves seems more like a special case of that more general power.”

    “Silver and most silver compounds have an oligodynamic effect and are toxic for bacteria, algae, and fungi in vitro. The antibacterial action of silver is dependent on the silver ion.[11] The effectiveness of silver compounds as an antiseptic is based on the ability of the biologically active silver ion (Ag+
    ) to irreversibly damage key enzyme systems in the cell membranes of pathogens.[11] The antibacterial action of silver has long been known to be enhanced by the presence of an electric field. Applying an electric current across silver electrodes enhances antibiotic action at the anode, likely due to the release of silver into the bacterial culture.[17] The antibacterial action of electrodes coated with silver nanostructures is greatly improved in the presence of an electric field.[18]

    Silver, used as a topical antiseptic, is incorporated by bacteria it kills. Thus dead bacteria may be the source of silver that may kill additional bacteria.[19]”

    Definitely the more general power. 😉 It even kills MRSA.

    “”Silver is well known for its antimicrobial properties and is highly toxic to a wide range of microorganisms such as MRSA,” Loboa said. “Silver ions work mechanically — they actually disrupt the cellular machinery of MRSA. ”

  91. I read The Witch of Criswell in one day, and most of it in one sitting; such a delight, and I’m looking forward to the next two installments. It was a good reminder to put down my phone and read old books.

  92. More than one person have already mentioned Gurdjieff for the 5th Wednesday this month. Now, I’m not voting for Gurdjieff. But having spent many years of my adult life in groups claiming to represent his ideas, I’d ask that if it is to be Gurdjieff this month, please consider the comments by Valentin Tomberg in “Meditations on the Tarot.” These are to be found in “Letter XIII, Death.” Tomberg’s take on Gurdjieff is unique in my experience.

  93. Han, duly tabulated.

    Denis, hmm! I’m not familiar with this at all. The image of the wolf does seem to be surfacing in the collective imagination.

    Eileen, I’ve tallied your vote, but I’ve actually covered some of that already, not quite directly, in this post.

    Christopher, thanks for this. This is the same thing I’ve heard from all my veteran friends.

    Larkrise, the book in question — The Secret of the Five Rites — is already at the publisher and has gone through page proofs; if I recall correctly, it’s scheduled for this autumn. I’ve noted down your vote for a post on fear. As for psychedelic drugs, I don’t use them; it’s been the experience of many generations of occultists that they don’t mix well with the kind of spirituality I practice. I also recall that for about three hundred years now, every generation or so there’s been a fad among intellectuals in the western world for some drug or other, and I figure that this is more of the same.

    Peter, please do consider writing something. It’s a theme that deserves attention.

    Bryan, I know some people who did that. That wasn’t my route — for me it was the deliberate embrace of poverty and a lot of occult practice that did it — but then there are many roads to the necessary state of maturity.

    Chris, a certain borderer’s comments about barbarism come somehow to mind…

    Kerry, so noted. You might consider doing some translations someday — yes, I know you already have a huge list!

    Blue Sun, nope! One vote per reader.

    Epileptic, hmm. I could see that.

    Robert M, that’s unfortunately likely. As I recall, he was with one of the big publishers, and they get very pushy about such things.

    Olivier, thank you.

    Electric, oh, granted. It was more a literary gesture than anything.

    Kfish, it sounds plausible, but no such luck — “vagrant” is from Latin vagrans, “wandering.”

    Pygmycory, so tabulated.

    Tony C, I don’t agree that the woke ideology should be given any credit for that. There were substantial movements for civil rights for gay men and lesbians long before the woke movement got under way, and the fight for marriage rights took place without any significant help from any of the other leftward groups. Please don’t make the mistake of lumping all movements for social change together under the wokester banner!

    Pyrrhus, so tabulated.

    Siliconguy, this would seem to suggest that MRSA is a werebacteria…

    Gavin, delighted to hear it! There will be quite a few more than three books in all, btw — this is an open-ended series, and can continue until either I or the publisher get bored with it. 😉

    Phutatorius, it’s been a long time since I last read Tomberg, but I’ll consider that.

  94. Thanks for the Butler lead John. I was reading one of his books last year and it will ge good to go back to him.

    So, if the Cowboy is more in line with Indo-European culture imported here, I guess we have to keep our eyes peeled for the other American types – Appleseed eccentrics following their own vision. And some trickster / changer types in there too, ready to mix things up when stagnation sets in.

    Anyway, I absolutely loved the ending of the Witch if Criswell. What a great final seen. ( Those of you who haven’t read it yet are in for a treat.) I’ll look forward to her treasure hunting adventure, and the possibility of her picking up some low tech sleuthing kit at those shops along the waterfront.

    I also had a synchronicity related to the post – I ran into a kid, now a man, who was a neighbor at one time, relatives still on our street. He had it rough with growing up and a whirlwind tour of our foster care and then justice system. I could definitely see him as a wolf pup who didn’t get the guidance.

    Somebody mentioned the word sidelined further up. That is a good word for this discussion.

    All the beasties to everyone here.

  95. Ken B. (offlist), enough. I don’t permit people to post prejudiced rants here denouncing any other group of people, and your misandry is no more acceptable than any other bigotry.

  96. Here is something I heard recently somewhat relevant to this weeks post

    Retired FBI agent JOHN DESOUZA claims that the two perpetrators of the Miami shootout


    survived massive wounds and were only stopped
    when FBI gunfire severed
    their heads from their bodies . No drugs were found in their system but afterwards investigators found a shrine to the berserkers in their apartment with incense still burning.

  97. I vote for toxic masculinity, not. I hasten to add, that I like or use the phrase, but because it incudes or refers to a number of themes which need to be exhumed and exposed to light. Such as, for starters, the effects of the doctrines perpetrated by Prof. Freud, Prof. Fraud is what I call him, on our society.

    A society organized for war, featuring perhaps the most brutal of male initiations ever known, was that of ancient Sparta. Proponents of “trad” roles might want to take note that in that warrior society, men and women lived almost completely apart. Meals were taken in common messes and the menu rarely varied; no Spartan warrior ever got to have his favorite dish lovingly prepared for him.

    Could the learning of a craft, the path from apprentice through journeyman to master, after the making of a master-piece be an effective initiation?

  98. @ Ken Breadner #17

    “Men are muscle. That’s all we are.”

    Ken may be all muscle, but I assure you that no one ever hired me for my strong back or bulging biceps, nor for my rugged good looks, and especially not for my skill with any known form of ball.

    Brains I have (along with the paperwork to prove it), brawn not so much. I did manage to pass the Navy’s boot camp. There is no way I would have passed the Marines.

    Some men may be nothing but muscle, but most are considerably more complex.

  99. Interesting post! I vote for Gurdjieff. I read The Witch of Criswell in two days by the way; it was great.

  100. Might be more of an other blog topic, but it’s come up a few times there, and back on Well of Galabes, so my request for fifth Wednesday is how to appropriately react to unknown entities and recognize their natures, as, at least in my area, a good many seem to be awakening or becoming more active, and the chatter seems to indicate that this is a broader than just N. American phenomenon (part of that enchantment thing, perhaps?).

    In regards to feline shape shifters, Darkest Yorkshire, the national football team of Cameroun is named for such.

  101. teresa from hershey:

    Thanks for the laugh! I never went to Action Park, but I knew lots of friends who did and the place had quite the reputation back in the day.

    I’ve got three sons, all adults, none married. My youngest has some pretty sharp opinions about the portrayal of manhood today in popular media, especially the “stupid/clueless/loser dad” who pops up in way too many programs, and who always seems to be married to a deeply wise woman. Number three son has told me many times that young women in his age range (30’s) are miserable: miserable in their own lives, miserable to spend time with, and more recently, always looking for a victim angle to everything that happens in their lives. It makes me really sad to hear this, and I wonder how much this phenomenon among young women is affecting the men in their age cohort.

  102. “Boys, however, face the additional burden that maleness has been pathologized in our schools, so that boys are systematically punished and penalized for the crime of not acting more like girls. Those boys who can’t handle the demands for passivity and obedience imposed on them can count on being drugged into submission if they aren’t simply arrested and put into what has been usefully labeled the school-to-prison pipeline.”

    There are a couple more layers of subtlety to be teased out here: both boys AND girls who can’t handle being passive and obedient in a public school setting are punished. The difference is by and large, girls are socialized to be people-pleasers and thus face less overt retaliation from the administration. However, that doesn’t mean that kids who are flying under the radar aren’t suffering from the stark realities of the educational-industrial system. The numerous examples in the comments here of “successful” (by societal standards) people who are trying to undo that damage speak to that.

    It’s a false binary to say that men are being vilified to the benefit of women (and to be clear, I don’t think you actually stated that, although some of the other commentators give an impression to the contrary). Since the 16th century, the capitalist-industrial machine has fragmented the social unit from the village into the nuclear family, and then outsourced the raising of children to the state. How are kids, male or female, supposed to mature into fully realized humans in this environment?

    My son just turned 13. He’s in a Sudbury Valley model school, thank gods. He attends a wonderful BJJ school and sensei, and has taken up snowboarding–both about as close as you can get to teen “pack” activities in our current culture. And I still despair that there’s no true initiation ritual I can offer him. (I would hazard to say that initiations have been missing from our culture for far longer than “wokeness”–a series of CCD classes and a confirmation mass likewise lack the teeth of those tribal rites described above.) It’s not good enough for me to sit here and lament that these rituals have been lost. How do we create new ones, meaningful ones, without descending into camp and pageantry?

    And how do I do this as a woman, a mother, when there are no men willing to pick up the task?

  103. Hi JMG,

    This one resonated as a young man in the west. I have a engineering job at an observatory, but I experience an overwhelming need to escape, and have recently found myself spending more and more of my working hours roaming the bushland around the mountain setting snares for small fauna …

  104. JMG, the challenging issue of mountains and the New Zealand character, specifically, the New Zealand male character was outlined by our perhaps best poet, James K Baxter, way back in the 1950s, and from what I’ve seen, has had no systematic or effective response. Our outdoor culture and community blindly wanders around in their spell, with no tools to integrate their experience. You may appreciate the poem:

    The Mountains
    In this scarred country, this cold threshold land
    The mountains crouch like tigers.
    By the sea
    Folk talk of them hid vaguely out of sight;
    But here they stand in massed solidity
    To seize upon the day and night horizon.

    Men shut within a whelming bowl of hills
    Grow strange, say little when they leave their high
    Yet buried homesteads; return there silently
    When thunder of night-rivers fills the sky
    And giant wings brood over loftily and near.

    The mountains crouch like tigers – or await
    As women wait.
    The mountains have no age.
    But O the heart leaps to behold them loom:

    A sense as of vast fate rings in the blood; no refuge,
    No refuge is there from the flame that reaches
    Among familiar things and makes them seem
    Trivial, vain.

    O spirit walks on the peaks;
    Eye glances across a gorge to further crags.
    There is no desire: but the stream, but the avalanche speaks
    And their word is louder than freedom, the mountain embrace
    Were a death dearer than freedom or freedom’s flags.

    I will go to the coast-line and mingle with men.
    These mountain buttresses build beyond the horizon;
    They call: but he whom they lay their spell upon
    Leaves home, leaves kindred. The range of the telescope’s eye
    Is well – if the brain follows not to the outermost fields of vision.
    l shall drown myself in humanity: better to lie
    Dumb in the city than under the mountainous wavering sky.

    The mountains crouch like tigers.
    They are but stone yet the seeking eyes grow blind.

  105. Russian cosmism seconded for 5th! Btw this article has impressive powerful chops. You’re a credit to the name or title, occultist. I can so see this era leading to a backlash beyond imagination. Come to think on it my identity was formed in the woods of arkansas in scouting back before time began. I havent given enough thought to that. I routinely gravitate to wild places although occasionally my gut warns me off. I toughened up on camp outs where you froze at night and sweated by day. Low food rations, snakes, and everything else. Men arent needed much seemingly but when you need them you really need them badly. Great article. My son and I sat out and heard the coyotes this evening. Pretty close to the pulse of reality all that stuff.

  106. Thinking more about post…the old phrase time to separate men from boys…an esoteric take might be that it’s the inner boy who triumphs in the initiation not the brittle outer man. The eternal boy who can channel and relate to his anima. Hence the child really is the father of the man, and george Macdonald was right to divide the childish from the childlike. Modern times actually pushes men to be brittle cardboard cut outs that can be moved around a stage. The living boy is something different and terribly powerful when he upends the false show.

  107. I worked for quite awhile in the outdoor program at a private middle school in California. It was one of the integral parts of the curriculum along with academic, art,sports and community service. The main element was bicycle trips, but we also did backpacking, kayaking, surfing, etc. Some of the kids loved that aspect of the school, and some were pushed way beyond their comfort zone,but grew. At the end of 9th grade, instead of graduation, we had a rites of passage, where a teacher, parent, sibling or friend of their choice could speak for them,I am not comparing this to a year in the woods eating raw meat, but it made quite a difference in their lives, and sent them on to high school a lot more prepared and grounded, both boys and girls.These also tended to be kids with very involved families.
    I also worked as a volunteer counselor with a group teaching wilderness skills to primarily teens, again mixed boys and girls. Initially we were working with at risk kids. We would lose a few early on in the session, and the majority gained something from the program, but with each group there were a few whose lives were turned around. I can remember some who thrived and came out changed, who would probably otherwise have ended up in gangs or in prison.
    There are various wilderness training and survival programs available throughout western N. Am.and ,I am sure, throughout the world There was one run by a woman named Lynx, though she must be getting on now, where they made their own, clothes, moccasins, bows, etc, then lived the whole summer by hunting, fishing and gathering. This is not going to change the orientation of an entire messed up generation, but these things are out there.
    I fear there is going to be a rather garbled sentence a bit earlier, but some link to facebook icon came on, and I can’t move it and lost track of what is under it.

  108. Justin, that’s “her” — E.M. Butler was Eliza Marian Butler, one of the twentieth century’s bumper crop of brilliant British female scholars. Like a lot of her peers, she used her initials rather than her full name to avoid being discriminated against. Glad you liked the story!

    Dashui, oog. That’s unfortunate.

    Mary, yes, and in fact Freemasonry is descended from an initiatory system of that kind.

    Luke, thank you and duly tallied.

    BoysMom, so tallied.

    Catriona, that’s why I mentioned boys and girls being abused by the current system. If this post had been about girls, I could have gone into considerably more detail — but it was about boys, so I didn’t. As for initiation rituals into masculinity, that’s precisely what you can’t do. If your son is to be able to deal with women as an adult man, confident in his masculinity, he needs to detach his anima (his internal image of woman) from the mother-image — and that means that in a very real sense, you need to let go of him. He has to stop being your boy in order to become his own man. (Equally, a father can’t provide an initiation into womanhood for a daughter — he also has to let go of his girl so she can become her own woman. So it works both ways.)

    Sam, I’m pretty sure that’s hardwired into the male brain. You might consider, if this appeals to you, getting in touch with some of the primitive-skills people out there and adding those to your repertoire — systematic training in hands-on skills involving raw nature is a good initiation all by itself.

    SLClaire, duly tallied.

    Peter, that’s one first-rate poem — thank you for this.

    Celadon, that second to last line — “My son and I sat out and heard the coyotes this evening” — made me feel more hopeful than just about anything else I’ve encountered this week. Thank you.

    Stephen, I’m glad to hear this. It may not be the full initiation but I can see that it would help a lot of kids.

  109. @JMG #106: I “wuz-gonna” respond to Ken B., but I see that you have already applied the improving stroke of the schoolmaster’s rod, so I will not “pile on.”

    However, his rant reminds me of an aspect of initiation rituals I have not seen explicitly mentioned (although Robert Mathieson hinted at it). I mean, the role of initiation rituals as selective pressure to keep the gene pool strong and healthy.

    As Robert noted, not all boys survive initiation. I expect that these boys are the “bantlings” of the tribe – weak and sickly.

    In Western countries, one unfortunate side effect of the elimination of childhood mortality via the vaccination program of the 1940’s and 1950’s is the dysgenic effect of the number of children, with unfavourable mutation loads, who have survived to adulthood and passed along their genetic burden to future generations.

    I, like Ken B. and like JMG, was mercilessly bullied due to my Asperger’s, which dates from infancy in my case. I was also vry sickly and frail as a child. Had I been born in the 1850’s rather than the 1950’s, I probably would not have survived infancy.

    I escaped the draft and Vietnam. Given my extreme nearsightedness, I would likely have been assigned a “4F” classification in any case.

    Now, back to bullying! In my Serbian Orthodox parish, the native Serbs I have spoken to have told me that “bullying” as such never happened in their schools. In fact, when they came to New Zealand, they didn’t know what the word “bullying” meant. I had to explain it to them!

    So, why to Anglo schoolboys bully their classmates but Serbs don’t? I attribute that to the lack, in Anglo countries, of real initiation rituals with their selective pressure on young boys. All animal species (including, to a lesser extent humans) have as a part of their instinctive substrata, a drive to eliminate defective specimens from their ranks. Where things like military service, wars, and diseases do not serve that function, I think that “bullying” is a substitute. Boys who are “different” are seen as a burden and a liability. The others, operating from animal instinct, sense this and marginalise them as much as they can.

    In the Balkans, which have been famously said to “produce more history than it can digest,” selective pressures have historically been ruthless. The weak and sick just don’t survive. Hence, no “bullying” is needed.

  110. Hello JMG,

    I joined up at 17 and ended up going to Iraq at 19 in 2007. Currently young men have little to gain from military service. There have been articles low lowering standards and accepting recruits with very low ASVAB scores. If you look at the comments for the latest army ads on YouTube and Twitter they have some interesting things to say.

    On another note, I am traveling for business in Latin America. A curious thing happened, I tried to present a PowerPoint and the only way to connect was through logging into a network then establishing a call to the TV in the same room in order to project. It didn’t work and they spent 20 minutes trying to figure it out. Finally someone brought an hdmi cable.
    In the hotel room instead of having a paper menu for room service you have to turn on the TV and scan a fuzzy qr code only to download a pdf to the call room service. Many such examples of doing things the “tech way” instead of the simple and straight forward way.

  111. This idea is not fully developed in my mind, and maybe never will be, but I will throw it out there.
    In the US at least, I think another factor that may have contributed to the demasculation of young men, as well as the woke agenda and the lack of meaningful male roles, is the toxicity of all US wars starting with Vietnam. I was in the US army from 1958-1961. I served with many veterans of WWII and Korea. Many had experienced some quite traumatic experiences, but they weren’t ashamed of themselves or their country.
    I was in Vietnam for the better part of a year as a photojournalist and saw some pretty full on action, though not as a combatant which didn’t keep a lot of us from getting killed. I have had quite a few VN vet friends since. I think, unlike many past wars, a lot of young men went to Vietnam to be warriors and were turned into killers. Even amongst those who had not actually killed there was a feeling of having been part of something dirty. I think even many of those who defended their role there felt this on some deeper level: that which the poor heart fain would deny, but dare not, as Macbeth put it.
    I went through a period quite a bit later where I turned against my masculinity for awhile. Various things helped turn me around, my wilderness time high on the list, but for awhile it seemed that male energy was at fault for most of what was wrong with the world.
    It seems that all the US wars since have come from that mold. I know there was an upsurge in patriotic enthusiasm after 9/11, but the wars fell into the same pattern, and 9/11 itself leaves quite a few questions.For the moment I won’t even get into the insane US hatred against Russia and China. It does seem ,though, that the loss of an honorable role for military service has contributed to the male disorientation. I would certainly appreciate anyone else’s input on this.

  112. Speaking of bullying and male pathologies, I ask all my fellow Orthodox Christians, and anyone else so inclined, to spare a thought and/or prayer for Serbia. Yesterday afternoon, a young schoolboy in Belgrade shot up a secondary school in that city. The school in question was my parish priest’s alma mater, and one of my fellow parishioners here in Auckland lost a niece in that attack.

    The entire country is reeling in shock. This has never happened before in all of Serbia’s history. Patriarch Porfirije has issued a public statement about the attack. I expect he will have more to say in the days and weeks ahead.

    We still don’t know why this boy did what he did. The police are investigating, so we don’t know a motive yet. Many in Serbia have jumped to the conclusion that it was due to inflammatory material in American mainstream and on-line media. I, too, suspect that this likely had a role to play.

    What makes this so shocking to Serbs is that Serbian society has never been as isolated and atomised as American society. Sure, the politicians are corrupt Quislings, but the people have retained more of a sense of village and extended family. Thus, people are wondering how any young Serbian boy could slip through the cracks to such an extent.

  113. Add my vote for tonic/toxic masculinity, for reasons enumerated above, as well s the reasons I stated in a previous “5th Wednesday” vote.

  114. Dear JMG,

    Sorry I’m a bit late to the party (late night shifts give me a weird schedule!) but I wanted to let you know that I appreciate your muse’s vagaries – you’re spot on here. I appreciate the picture of Joan of Arc being burned at the stake.

    You’re absolutely right about the military front – brass keeps pushing recruiting goals down to units, and the response I always hear is that we can’t in good conscience recommend military service to our friends and family due mostly to boneheaded administrative decisions by the higher ups. It’s certainly not conducive to family life – I rarely see a SFC with fewer than two divorces. As PL, I spend most of my effort trying to shield my PLT from the effects of upper management – but that doesn’t prevent my best E-4s from leaving when their contracts are up. I can’t blame them – my unit requires me to attend unpaid weekend drills, while I’m full-timing a local deployment, so that the 1-star can have a greener box on a spreadsheet. And that says nothing of cultural or certain hot-button issues percolating their way through.

  115. @Kimberley Steele #19

    You don’t buy the theory of ergotamine poisoning then?


    I think you just described the main cause of modern day football hooliganism in Britain and Mainland Europe as far to the east as Turkey. There have been attempts to suppress it; perhaps it should be turned into an institution instead. Thinking about it, the root of the ‘Prentice Boy riots in London and the Blue/Green Chariot Race riots in Byzantium and Rome fit the pattern too.

  116. One of the cyclical hot-button political issues here in the Philippines (the way immigration or gun violence is in the USA) is college fraternity violence. Greek-letter college frats are basically something we imported directly from America, and have the (somewhat justified) reputation of being the college town/campus equivalent of street gangs, which they would be in fact if it were not for the presence of *actual* street gangs in the same places they operate.

    What tends to be in particular focus as far as politics is concerned is the intense, humiliating, and often physically violent hazing rituals initiates undergo. Every now and then, rare in the grand scheme of things but not entirely unheard of, a freshman will die in the middle of a hazing ritual. The media will blow up with headlines about how evil frats are, there will be a lot of hand-wringing from prominent fraternity officials that this wasn’t a sanctioned thing and those responsible will be thrown out and handed to the cops, there will be congressional hearings, there might even be some anti-hazing laws being passed.

    And yet this keeps happening. And the victims are invariably some smart, handsome, middle-class kid, gentle personality type who didn’t get into fights in high school, was gonna be a lawyer/engineer/doctor someday. We keep asking why the seniors do these things to such innocent, promising young men. No one ever asks why so many innocent, promising young men would *voluntarily* choose to undergo such a ritual.

    I never joined a frat in college myself, but I did experience a “lite” version of Hell Week when I stayed in a new dorm. There wasn’t any physical violence but we newbies spent several hours going around the dorm blindfolded while the residents perform all sorts of tricks on you (e.g. have you drink something disgusting, but ultimately harmless).

    The traditional male initiation ritual in the Philippines is getting circumcised. That happens when you’re around 10 years old, and the classic way it’s done is communally, where the village herbist would take all the boys down to the river and y’all get to enjoy having your thingys get cut off in front of each other. Nowadays (and this is how it was done with me) you go to a medical clinic, where you’re given local anesthetic and have the benefit of some privacy by being in the doctor’s office or at least being behind a curtain of some sort. I prefer the “modern” version obviously, but I can’t help but think that some of the power and potency of the classic way has been taken away.

    Of course, the more “enlightened” and “scientific” voices are pushing to abolish the ritual outright (if not outright ban it). Be careful with that, I say.

    Me, personally, I felt like I wasn’t so much initiated into manhood as I stumbled into it. I was your stereotypical nerd, not particularly athletic nor charismatic. Some notable incidents: I defeated school bullies, twice (one physically, one “politically” which ended with me making him an ally), accidentally. My first date happened accidentally. How those things happen “by accident” I can’t tell you, but that’s how it felt. Like I was taken along by circumstance, with zero external guidance, and then Important Manhood Rite-of-Passage happened alone the way, and then realizing in hindsight “Oh my God, I really can stand up to a bully! I really can ask a girl out!” etc. And even then, it feels like it’s even harder nowadays, since even the opportunities to stumble into character-defining moments are taken away from contemporary boys.

  117. Looking at the werewolf concept as an archetype, it’s curious that werewolves, who are almost always men, have some female characteristics projected onto them; Werewolves have a monthly/lunar cycle, which includes a drastic change of personality and the spilling of blood. I am not sure what this overlay signifies.

    I do also wonder about the episodes of mass shootings, which today turned up in Serbia with a 13-year-old boy as the shooter. This seems to be a similar phenomenon– A lone shooter, often with no previous history of violence, suddenly goes on a killing spree and often ends up killing himself. It would be nice to blame lycanthropy, but OTOH I wonder if there is some demonic involvement in things like this…

    My fifth-Wednesday proposed topic; Can you examine the phenomenon of mass shootings from an occult perspective? Can occult applications determine what is causing them, or aid in preventing more of them?

    Thanks always, for another fascinating essay! Someone else already came up with ‘Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter,’ so ‘The Orange Werewolf of Mar-A-Lago’ makes perfect sense.

  118. Dear JMG,

    Thank you for your response. After posting my confession about my deep fear of everything last night, I went to sleep and then I had a dream:

    I was walking along with you and we were chatting about fear; prompted by our conversation I had an insight and I said clearly “I must make friends with death”, upon which you turned round to me and looked me fiercely in the eyes and said firmly, “YES”. (At this point I realised that you had turned into William Shakespeare …!) Then you/he added, “You must look at yourself in the mirror and realise that you are death itself”.

    When I woke up I thought very seriously about how to proceed and have decided to go and sit in a graveyard today, and perhaps as often as possible.

    Make friends with death … Realise that you are death itself …

  119. Good day, JMG.

    Your ex-POS is not an interesting topic for me, but about young masculinity you hit the nail. Actually, I’m raising two child, my elder one is about eight years old. One of my biggest concerns is how to teach him how to be a man, other than offering myself as an example. Because these days, teachers at the school feel entitled to teach my son how he should be a male. And I feel sad when I hear him speak about some TV news as he is repeating something he learnt in the classroom which is clearly against his nature. He says it in the same tone as when he says ‘We can’t purchase that because we are poor, aren’t we?’

    So, a post about what is a healthy masculinity (and feminity) from a spiritual point of view, and proper rites for this phase, childhood, teenagers and young ones, would be very welcomed.

    I am also interested in culture resilience, so that would be my second choice.

  120. “Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what’s left and live it properly.” – Marcus Aurelius

    — Now, *there* was a man!

  121. Hello again JMG and kommentariat.
    My vote for the 5th is: Sacred Sexuality (and Erotism).
    Today I feel quite libidinous…

  122. JMG
    In Vedic Hindu custom the initiation of boys is called Upanayana. The word means “lead closer to” — in this case an learned, older mentor (Guru). It is usually done during the ages five to nine, so the boy would be pre-puberty but ready to be independent of the mother. During the initiation, the initiate is ritually entrusted to the care of the Devas. After the initiation, the boys go to a Gurukul – a boarding school usually located at the periphery of the town, or in a forest. There they spend their adolescent lives with other boys of similar age (no girls). The boys pretty much run the place by themselves — they assist with the cooking and cleaning, wash their clothes, and do any odd jobs they can handle. The younger kids learn from the older ones. They spend anywhere between a decade and a decade-and-half, learning from the Guru, and return home as men ready to start a life.

    There are no references to Wolves any other animal of the canine family in this ritual. But it helps the young men in several ways. Once out of their Mothers’ clutches, the boys become independent and mature. The absence of opposite sex takes away some of the distractions and helps focus on learning. The simple, austere lifestyle builds character and makes them tough.

    This has become less common recently, but it still exists. The products of this system, from what I have seen, are quite capable individuals. It is not perfect, of course — the complete absence of opposite sex probably doesn’t create a healthy attitude towards sex. But neither does the modern high school system where adolescents are encouraged to give free rein to their hormones before they have had time to learn how to handle their impulses in a safe way.

  123. Thanks so much for sharing. Right now the media drum is being beaten to characterize laws that make people wait until they are 18 before they can castrate themselves and take pills to grow breasts as an affront to civil rights. I see now why it’s such an imperative.

  124. Upon reading your essay, I have a number of ideas forming.

    We have obviously not been teaching boys to become responsible, proud men for a long time, because most of the men I have ever dealt with are basically overgrown children. Most of our politicians sound and act like spoiled teenagers. I used to think this was normal until I read the writings of 19th and early 20th Century politicians and found that even the vilest, most reprehensible, power-hungry bigots seem somehow more mature and reasonable than almost anyone we have these days.

    Our modern societies lack the meaningful, proper outlets and instruction to temper the aggressive nature of young males, and thereby turn them into responsible, socialized adults, capable of being aggressive if necessary, but also self-restrained and self-contained. What ends up happening is despite all the pink t-shirts, we teach the stronger boys who do sports to be bullies not heroes, and turn a blind eye to team gang-rapes at least until they blow up (it’s been in the news a lot lately). Meanwhile, our intellectual, neo-marxist, clerisy have convinced themselves that all male aggressiveness in any form is ‘toxic’ and therefore despise any and all male behaviour and by extension males, who are treated as guilty-until-proven-trans.

    Since I was a boy in the ’60s, I have listened to a constant refrain, mostly from women, that men are basically bad: men are violent, men are oppressive, the cause of all wars and misery, how women (and, of course, all the other victim groups) live in fear and must endure always being disrespected, how men are destroying the planet… &c. &c. (I’m sure you can fill in the rest of the standard suite of canards).

    The young men who have grown up in the past 40 years or so will have absorbed from their primary school teachers and most other high-status authority figures that they are by default lesser beings and evil simply because they are male… and it is very easy to decide that if one is already judged and condemned and punished, then one might as well go ahead and commit the crime. Hence one factor in the rising violent crime rates all across North America and the degenerating incivility.

    A very confusing time to be growing up male. So glad I found stoic philosophy all those many years ago.


  125. There are times, when your wolf-nature awakens without any initiation. I once had a rather severe bicycle accident in which I was more than just lightly injured. My “opponent” later told me that he was very afraid of me after the accident, because I turned “berserk”. I remember the rush of energy but not much more.

    So if I understand it correctly, the “wolf”, or more generally any fierce, dangerous animal is hardwired into our minds by means of the “group mind of the race” which Fortune might call it. Alternatively, one could possibly call it “morphic field”? It’s a stereotyped pattern of reaction to certain stimuli. Usually, this reaction is automatic and largely beyond conscious control but repeated exposure (the hard way) or an initiatory ritual you act out these patterns in your “universe” and by the reflection, i.e. the reactions of your environment, you may become aware of it and integrate it in your consciousness. The purpose of the initiation then is not to tame the wolf, but to be able to guide it.

    Something like that?

  126. My Russian student has taken off to Eastern Europe again for three or so months, with the stated intention of traveling through Ukraine. I asked him what part, and he said “All of it.” I’m not sure his parents know what he’s got in mind. I sent him an e-mail with two words: “Ty zhiv? (You alive?) He wrote back that he’s meeting a lot of Russians in Hungary and other countries, and getting quite good at Russian now.
    He is very unusual for a young Japanese guy. Farming family out near us. I worry very deeply, not about him, but about the rest of his generation, not only thoroughly domesticated with nothing but baseball and the “Self Defense Forces” (where they won’t even let them shoot a gun) as outlets, but still essentially incarcerated within the scope of home and school out of fear of a virus, or public opprobrium if they fail to do their their best as stipulated by the authorities for the “greater good.” It’s bad for the girls as well, but the boys are really getting screwed.

  127. Nice to hear some experiences of wilderness connection. I took a survival skills course last year taught by Thomas Schorr-kon, a student of Tom Brown Jr (he also happens to be acquainted with Phillip Carr-Gomm, as they both live in the Lewes area of Sussex). It culminated in a 4-day camp up on the Scottish Borders, not far from Mabon country, armed only with a knife, a blanket, and a few other tools and rations.

    The first two nights were an initiation all by themselves – my shelter was poorly built, and I only had a wool blanket. It rained the second day, and then dropped below freezing the second night. I covered myself with my blanket and breathed slowly, focusing on one breath at at time. I didn’t get much sleep, as you can probably imagine!

    I’m still unpacking the full experience. Quite remarkable.

    Sadly, though, when I was a young man (I’m in my mid 30s now), I didn’t have much of an initiation, so drink and drugs filled the gap while I was a student. Fortunately, I also got into martial arts training, which provided a taste of that initiatory experience.

    For the fifth Wednesday post, I’d like to put in a vote for Gurdjieff.

  128. John -thanks for tip on pronouns for E.M. Butler! 😉

    I was getting her confused with W. E. Butler! I’m not familiar with E.M. Butler… so look forward to learning about and from another mage!

    @ Catriona #113 et al: Catriona, glad your son is snowboarding. I think skateboarding served the same purpose for me. In the 1990s it was still almost an outlaw activity in some ways, and lots of interactions with the police, getting kicked out of places, or generally harassed. Since then they have made a lot of skate parks for kids growing up in urban areas. It seems to have sanitized it somewhat, but these are still very male places as I was taking my grandson around too a bunch of them when I was furloughed during the plandemic. That was a blast. Until I hurt myself and realized how much longer it takes to recover from falling on the concrete or landing on your ankle wrong in your forties!

    Also punk music. Something about getting in a mosh pit with a bunch of dudes was very healthy for me, since I didn’t like football or that kind of sport. I heard a study somewhere that said males who went to heavy metal and punk concerts were less likely to do hard crimes. (I actually went to see Skinny Puppy this past Friday! It was fantastic! There were lots of female fans there too… )

    @Celadon#117 et al: Scouts…that was good too. When I got into the skater punk lifestyle though I gradually drifted from scouting. Having a kid at sixteen put my mind somewhere else perhaps too. & Starting down there darker side of the punk path with drug and alcohol abuse, well for many that is a stand for initiation. But I’m glad I was able to pull myself out of it. Many other of my peers were not so lucky.

  129. Hi John Michael,

    Interestingly, due to a dead beat father who left when I was very young, and a mother who was kind of wild, but also busy with two older sisters, I was left to my own devices as a kid. I’m good with that, because I am, and have always been a fiercely independent person. And have always accepted responsibility for my actions and direction. Free will is almost like a muscle that needs to be constantly flexed and tested.

    In some ways I got lucky on that path having come into the sphere of several strong male role models. You’ve taught me humility by the way, and that’s no small thing. I recently discovered that my old Sensei passed away about a decade ago. He was a formidable bloke: Raoul Kent. Again he taught me how not to fight, by learning how to fight. An interesting bloke. There were others too. Sometimes a journey is caused by prior events, as you’re probably aware. 🙂

    Anyway, banging on and stuff. Thanks for the Conan quote memory.



  130. JMG, yes it was highly synchronous – my 9 year old is all boy and he is simultaneously frightened of but more mesmerized by the life force in the universe. I was going to thank you for this post, as it is the most hopeful thing I’ve read in awhile, the silver lining on the storm clouds. We also listened to the bees, put up the chickens, and heard the whippoorwill. You’ve done Herculean work, to help make sense out of these things. I have to ask, did you consult the Anglican vicar Sabine Baring-Gould on this project? I understand the author of Onward Christian Soldiers is still considered a go-to authority on werewolves, which is hilarious. (Also, I felt guilty about Russian cosmist vote – that just assigns you more homework and reading. You can alter mine to something on befriending land/nature spirits or what have you, if you wish). Thank you!

  131. I just finished reading Marie-Louise von Franz’s book The Golden Ass of Apuleius, which takes as its subject the anima. I hate to quote long passages from someone else’s work, but I typed up the below from that book’s introduction because it resonates greatly with this post, especially if you consider the the knightly jousting tournaments in this passage to be sorts of aristocratic wolf initiation rituals:

    “We will see that on this deeper level Apuleius gives form to a deep process of evolution of historical dimension: the coming back of the feminine principle into the patriarchal Western world. This slow comeback of the feminine principle intermittently surfaced in the Middle Ages, but it is only today that it seems to have broken through into the collective consciousness.

    Courtly love provided an opportunity, and there it broke through partly, and with it the symbolism of the Grail, but it all came as a tremendous problem. For these chevaliers were not capable of having only courtly, platonic love for their ladies, just letting themselves be killed, or half-killed, in tournaments, and then getting only a little rose emblem on their heads as a reward. Normally they asked for, and usually got, the whole reward. At that time, however, there were no contraceptives, and as this was happening in aristocratic families there was the tremendous problem of the bastard.

    That created an impossible sociological situation, and the Church saw its chance, condemned sexual courtly love, and urged the worship of the Virgin Mary. So more and more of the chevaliers adopted the Virgin Mary as the dame du coeur for whom they fought. But, as Jung points out so clearly, at that moment began the witch persecutions!

    For the anima problem cannot be solved on just an impersonal level; it cannot be solved by a principle. Whatever is decided sociologically, collectively, can only be wrong. If there is a solution it can only be unique, from individual to individual, from one woman to one man.”

    I wonder if what could be called the Conan archetype, heavily pushed in 80s and 90s action movies in particular, was used as a ‘collective solution’ in the way von Franz claims the Virgin Mary archetype was used. And part of the problem wasn’t just that the Conan archetype was used – and was a product of a culture imbalanced towards an unattainable male ideal – but that it so quickly shifted into things like the “loser dad” archetype that another commenter mentioned earlier.

    But for whatever reason, it appears to me that our culture can’t imagine people, male or female, who have both their masculine and feminine sides integrated on their own terms, but also in balance with each other, and with one side not repressed in favor of the other. It’s not just that males should have initiation rituals, but doing so without integrating the anima results in an imbalance of a different kind.

  132. I second SLClaire’s request for an essay on the occult dimensions of music.

    Also, I recall that Orion suggested that same theme as a 5th Wednesday topic last month; Orion, I wonder if you might be interested in voting that way again?

  133. Even though I’m looking forward to the thrilling conclusion of your previous series, I’m glad you took this tangent 🙂

    What you mentioned about gangs stuck with me. I’d like to recommend “Gang leader for a day,” which is written by a sociologist who started out as clueless (one of my favorite lines is him describing the sorts of survey questions he’d ask: “On a scale of 1-5, how does it feel to be poor and black” isn’t an inaccurate paraphrase…) and eventually decided to stick with his chosen field and became an “embedded anthropologist” in the gang.

    Your lens is interesting because in a way a gang is a perfect combination of our current day and these ancient initiatory practices. The economic comparison he makes is that of a franchise: gang leaders on the street report up to the central leadership in the same way a manager of McDonalds reports up to corporate. It’s definitely an organization of our time.

    Yet at the same time it has always been an outlet for young male aggression. And it quite literally uses the concepts of initiation in its organization.

    I also think of my own childhood growing up in an urban environment. I’m 38, so while my dad had the true “Sandlot” childhood experience, I was still in one of the last “free range” generations. A few families in my neighborhood had boys my and my brother’s age, and in hindsight when we were out of our parents sight we really did behave like a wolf pack exploring the nooks and crannies of our built environment!

  134. >young women in his age range (30’s) are miserable

    I wonder how many of them have a smartphone addiction. I wonder if you could make a correlation.

  135. >antibacterial action of silver

    I did some research on what antibiotics you could realistically make in your backyard, if, say, the pharmacy were to shut down because, well, these days, you can pick among at least 5 different reasons.

    The most feasible one is colloidal silver. All you need is salt water, a silver coin and a battery. You don’t want to know what you need to do, just to make the old nasty sulfa drugs. And those are the simplest ones to make too.

  136. Hi JMG,

    Great post. One of the first interviews I heard from you twenty years ago was an interview with Coast to Coast about your book Monsters. You got into a sort of argument with the host–I believe it was George Noory–about the definition of vampires. I instantly became a fan. Keep it coming!

    My vote for the 5th Wednesday is the Long Decline Military. One thing I have been watching, which bears on the discussion of masculinity here a bit, is how symbolic meanings seem to be constellating around the AR-15 here in America. For some people it represents mass death, school shootings, and terror. For other people it represents freedom, independence, and safety. I find it fascinating that an inanimate object can have opposite meanings and this all seems to have come about in just the last few years.

  137. I would like to add my vote for “military history of the deindustrial future” but also ask for a section in that post that goes beyond how future nations, warlords, tribes, gangs, etc., go about seeking tactical and strategic advantage with material resources on hand but also the future of magical warfare (a la Dione Fortune’s Magical Battle of Britain) or even spiritual warfare (i.e. not all participants are homo sapiens) in the deindustrial scenario.

  138. A cliff notes version of your topic, ” men take to the woods to transform in to Wolf-Men, to bring order to the chaos following the collapse of the Roman Empire. Once society is tranquil these men are vanquished but their archetype lives on through the centuries. Until the current day where even the memory of the wolf-man is vanquished, to the great detriment of the current empire that is in the process of collapse. It reminds me of the meme that is going around on conservative web sites and pod casts:

    ” Strong men make good times
    Good Times make weak men
    Weak men create hard times
    Hard times create strong men
    Strong men create good times.”

  139. I would recommend that anyone interested in today’s topic read series of posts on the devouring mother during the covid madness.Stephen

  140. Honestly not all women crave marriage, stability, and a stable life. Of course, the anti-abortion thing, and the absolute knee-jerk reaction to any woman who would take an old herbal remedy rather than submit to a doctor is the most telling factor about that.

    Wild women existed, otherwise I think living in the forest would have a bit less appeal to teenage boys. From my own reading I think the ladies mostly stayed around the riversides and beaches while the boys were in the forests. Something about traps and leverage.

    So, though I enjoyed this essay, I believe it’s more of a ranchers vs. farmers situation than something that anyone ought to be blaming women for. After all, look how despised women are right now! No more sports just for women, and if a woman wants respect in society she must literally turn into a man. Feminism is dead.

  141. Stephen H Pearson #123, Christian G Appy’s book Working Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam goes into a lot of detail all the ways that generation was betrayed, and how enraged they were at not being given a good war to be proud of. He characterises a lot of them as ‘streetwise innocents’. Many grew up in rough, even brutal environments, and had no illusions how things worked in their hometowns. But they also thought the government would always do the right thing and never lie to them. In the more recent American Reckoning, he details how the Hard Hat Riots, where NY construction workers attacked students and anti-war protestors while the police stood by, was completely organised by the employers. The construction workers were not only paid to do it, but threatened with the sack if they didn’t. So the most vivid symbol of a pro-war working class was artificially created.

    Larkrise #133, I recently watched a documentary about the Falklands War that interviewed several British veterans. The stories were so grisly they were almost funny. A soldier who had to headbutt an Argentinian until he stopped moving, because there wasn’t room in the trench to use a bayonet. An officer who ended up in a water-filled trench and had to strip a corpse for dry clothes so he didn’t freeze to death. One of them did the ‘assume you’re already dead’ thing. He said it worked very well in getting him through the war alive, but was psychologically devastating once he was back in Britain, very much not dead.

    Jbucks #145, I don’t know the historical veracity, but there’s a story I’ve heard in the non-orgasmic tantric / taoist / edging / karezza sex community. In courtly love, anyone could have sex with whoever they liked, as long as no one present had an orgasm. Everything up to that point was fine – it didn’t count as infidelity or anything else bad.

  142. Ok. June 28 was a false path.

    The path is to Silvanus! Who is, according to Plutarch, the sea-goat, Capricorn.

    And really, of course, comes directly from mesopotamia and the god Ea.

    “Silvanus (meaning “of the woods” in Latin) was a Roman tutelary deity of woods and uncultivated lands. As protector of the forest (sylvestris deus), he especially presided over plantations and delighted in trees growing wild.He is also described as a god watching over the fields and husbandmen, protecting in particular the boundaries of fields.”

    “Silvanus is described as the divinity protecting the flocks of cattle, warding off wolves, and promoting their fertility.”

    “These references to Silvanus as an aspect of Mars combined with his association with forests and glades, give context to the worship of Silvanus as the giver of the art (techne) of forest warfare. In particular the initiation rituals of the evocati appear to have referenced Silvanus as a protective god of raiding for women and cattle, perhaps preserving elements of earlier Etruscan worship.”

    Of course the evocati were the roman elite soldiers, including the praetorian guard.

    I have chills! I already wrote this into my book without knowing the stories and the origin. I hope this explains why I felt a strong connection to your post about werewolves and initiations.


  143. JMG thanks for yet another interesting article! One of things that I find strange about wokism is that they replace one straight jacket for another, but don’t want to acknowledge that. All humans may have the same intrinsic value, but that doesn’t mean they all have the same nature. Not being allowed to talk about differences crampes my style and makes life boooooring. On the surface there seems to be a distinct lack of clear thinking, but perhaps there is just some kind of querty syndrom going onwhere nobody in a position of power dares to speak out against it so that the craziness continues by its own momentum (like the guy above who was honest enough to say that he doesn’t want to jeoperdize the comforts of his current position)

    I’d love to read your take on Gurdjieff!

    @Isaac I remember Ouspensky (student of Gurdjieff) talking about 7 types of man. The first 3 are as mr Rose described and the 4th and 6th are in between states. The 5th was described as connecting with the higher Heart center and the 7th as connecting with the higher Mental center. The Christian mystic Bernadette Roberts also talked about two ‘states’ beyond ordinary human consciousnes’. The first on is in her verbiage ‘no ego’ and that corresponds with the mystical union. But apparantly there was something beyond that too and that she called ‘no self’. On the surface the no ego state seems to be man nr 5 while the no self state seems to be man nr 7. But with Gurdjieff you never know as he often contradicted himself or gave different teachings and left it to the students to try to put 1 and 1 together, if that was even possible. He also had a teaching about 4 bodies that are created which seems more reminisent of Taoism (Tomberg mentions that last one).

    @Phutatorius, thanks for the suggestion of Tomberg. His take on Gurdjieff is interesting. The book can be read online here

  144. My vote is for music, but, in particular, in connection with Pan (who is Silvanus…). And how music is connected with werewolf initiations/rituals.

    Or a post about Capricorn.

  145. Thanks for making me think JMG.

    I was active in the memetic warfare/ Kekistani movement leading up to Trumps election. I wonder, as the Wolf Boys then moved on to the Boogaloo movement and accelerationism, if this illustrated the evolution of the werewolves to vulgar displays of violence.

    Oddly, I say this as several Proud Boys have been found guilty of seditious conspiracy. Related? I think so…the civilized folk do not care for packs of wild young men in plain view.

  146. re: sitcom portrayals:

    I’m not very familiar with modern TV sitcom portrayals of men. I remember the old british ones I used to watch with my parents back in the 90s tended to feature somewhat feckless men goofing off with their male friends, and exasperated wives, girlfriends and wished-to-be girlfriends. There was one wife who was a horribly stuck-up harridan. She kept insisting that people pronounce their married name ‘Bouquet’ (it was spelled Bucket) and her rather henpecked husband eventually announced loudly that it was his name in the first place and it was ‘Bucket’, please and thank you. There was one man who was very determinedly doing all sorts of things to try and persuade a specific woman to be his girlfriend, but they never worked and she usually ended up chasing him off her front porch with a broom. The whole thing was very silly and played for laughs rather than drama, and you got the impression the whole thing was an in-joke between them rather than anything more serious. And men building things, and them blowing up in entertaining ways and so on.

    There was one Canadian one that, had the characters been female rather than male, would have come across as sexist. It had the men’s prayer. “I’m a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess.” It was mostly pretty friendly and lighthearted when it poked fun, and the male protagonists had a lot of fun building things that sometimes worked but often didn’t, fishing and the outdoors, and telling stories about stuff that had happened.

  147. Orian, best wishes for the success of your writing project. The entire field, or fields, of genre storytelling, such as fantasy, magic, historical romance, and so on, is badly in need of better writers with good ideas.

    Robert Mathieson, the defining experience for lower and under class men is prison, a shared experience which functions very like the shared experience of military service used to do. I first realized this when I noticed that every family I knew in that demographic had at least on male member doing time.

    Stephen H Pearson, I see little evidence that ” insane US hatred against Russia and China” is shared by much of the American public who are not part of the neo-con, humanitarian, you should excuse the expression, intervention alliance that has wormed its way into our government. That is why I asked in an earlier ask me anything thread Does anyone know of a way to turf these idiots out of office and influence before they get us all killed. The new candidate Mr. Kennedy seems to be intent on doing just that, or at least laying bare their history of treasonous, I do not use that term lightly, intrigues.

    To whom it was above who typed about men that when you need one, etc… One of the benefits of living with extreme frugality is that when you need services performed, you can afford to hire the best craftsperson, usually a man, and pay what the person’s work is worth. Up front. Cash on the barrelhead.

    I would like to add that a society like ours also needs the goody twoshoeses, the quiet, plain (usually) women who can put in long hours of patient work and who ask for little else than a salary that allows them to maintain a decent independence and to be left alone. Such women should not be thrown into the toxic competitiveness of the typical office, nor should they be viewed as consolation prizes. In the Middle Ages, GTs became nuns, or lay sisters if from the lower classes, and performed valuable and necessary services. One historian of the Tudor period estimated that it was two hundred years post Dissolution before the English poor again had available the level of health care provided by nuns.

  148. I’ll add my vote for the occult dimensions of music. (I say this after I just finished reading the Neoplatonists’ various Lives of Pythagoras and as I’m starting to poke into Porphyry’s commentary on Ptolemy’s Harmonics…)

  149. I would put in a vote for military history of the deindustrial future or some variation thereof.


  150. Greetings JMG
    Am currently reading your The Ceremony of the Grail and so appreciative of your evocative writing style – thank you! You’ve brought to life the enchantment technologies of the times and shifted “paganism” to well-deserved Paganism,
    For some time I’ve been thinking about the ancient technologies/economic systems of slavery and human sacrifice.
    Any chance you could speak further about your thoughts on the “whys” of human sacrifice – perhaps a fifth Wednesday topic ?

  151. Final question of the day:

    How do I find a mundane astrologer to do mundane readings of a particular place and time in the past?

  152. Yes, I agree that “toxic” masculinity would be a good option…It seems to me that aggressive masculinity is probably a feature, not a bug, and was probably essential for a human society to survive in the past….

  153. I’ve tallied everyone’s votes. Thank you!

    Michael, the interesting thing is that there seem to have been other options in Indo-European antiquity for boys who weren’t up to the wolf-life. Physically handicapped boys went into craft work as apprentices — that’s why both Hephaestus and Wayland the Smith were lame — and odd, geeky outsider boys like you and me became shaman-priests. So there’s more than one way to handle that.

    Jose, thanks for the data points!

    Stephen, there have been lots of toxic wars in the past; you might look into the US conquest of the Philippines, or for that matter the US war against Mexico. Any thoughts about why the current examples have had so much greater an effect?

    Michael, I just heard about that. Ouch.

    Sirustalcelion, many thanks for the data points.

    Andy, exactly. If the only option you give young men to express their energy is making trouble after football games, they’ll make trouble after football games. Successful societies find some better way to manage things — or just send them to pillage France.

    Carlos, thanks for this! The fraternities and sororities once served a very important role, and still do to a limited extent — a cousin of mine was a frat member when he was in college, and benefited greatly from the experience.

    Emmanuel, both those are good points.

    Larkrise, I’m glad to hear this. Are you at all familiar with Carlos Castaneda’s visionary fictions? He has a lot to say about death that’s worth hearing. One snippet: “A warrior must focus his attention on the link between himself and his death . . .. He must let each of his acts be his last battle on earth. Only under those conditions will his acts have their rightful power.”

    Abraham, thanks for this.

    Collapsenik, I’m delighted to hear that the tradition of upanaya remains living. That’s very clearly a direct descendant of the old Indo-European tradition, reworked to have less focus on warriorship.

    Anon, don’t forget the equal and opposite media and corporate push to get young women to cut their breasts cut off and get spayed. It really does go both ways.

    Renaissance, exactly. I’ve found, for what it’s worth, that the women who insist most loudly that men are wrecking the planet are the ones who also insist most loudly that they deserve to drive SUVs and take vacations halfway around the world; it must be comfortable to have so convenient a target to blame for the consequences of one’s own actions.

    Nachtgurke, partly, yes. You have to learn how to awaken the wolf at will, so you don’t have to wait for circumstances to do that for you, and you have to learn how to guide it, direct it, and then make it go back to sleep. It’s never really entirely integrated, because it reaches down to deep prehuman levels the conscious mind cannot fathom, but you can integrate its effects and its expression in your consciousness.

    Patricia O, he’s seeking initiation. I hope it goes well for him.

    Luke, hmm! I’ll have to ask Philip about that when we next correspond.

    Chris, and sometimes it works out that way. Condolences on your sensei’s passing.

    Celadon, of course! Baring-Gould and Montague Summers were my go-to sources on lycanthropy at age ten, when I got bored with the kid’s books on the subject, and I’ve revisited both of them in preparing for this project — along with taking in a lot of more recent research.

    Jbucks, thanks for this. That’s definitely going on my reading list. She’s right, of course, that there is no collective solution — there are basic initiations that can be taken as part of one’s society or as part of a lodge or other group, but the rest of the path is always individual.

    Jack, interesting. I’ll consider it.

    Clay, basically, yes.

    Pesci, of course. Not all men crave marriage, either! But a great many women and men do, and I know a fair number of women who have had to deal with constant harassment from other women because they want to be wives and mothers instead of corporate flunkeys. As for blaming women, did you think I was doing that? Au contraire — the current mess hurts both sexes, in different ways.

  154. JMG,
    Excellent, thought-provoking post as usual.
    It seems that Woman has become the new ideal and men are now being socialized and browbeaten into meeting this new ideal; as mentioned above masculinity is seen as a disease. A woman taking initiative is seen as a positive development, while a man doing so is seen as toxic. In addition, you’ve mentioned a time or two that there seems to be a trend toward women selecting androgynous men as mates, a kind of new Mercurial ideal.

    How does all this fit together? Why are things happening in this way? Why the particular animosity towards masculinity in men? Is there some archetype at work? Perhaps, this is some kind of Aquarian transition? (Hah! Interesting how that last word showed up.) Maybe it’s just that we are in late stage Faustian Civ and this is how the auto self-destruct sequence proceeds – repress, taunt, and provoke the masculine til it explodes and fertilizes new civs?

    Maybe that’s a significant difference between our collapse and the Soviet collapse. The Soviets did not try to suppress any particular archetypal element and in a way embraced their disintegration, while most in the West still cling to belief in the power of Progress and the desire to suppress and control.

    Thanks for all your work and patience.

  155. Great post, as always.

    I’d like to cast my vote for a post on masculinity. I’d especially like to hear more details and suggestions for what you said above:

    “You have to learn how to awaken the wolf at will, so you don’t have to wait for circumstances to do that for you, and you have to learn how to guide it, direct it, and then make it go back to sleep. It’s never really entirely integrated, because it reaches down to deep prehuman levels the conscious mind cannot fathom, but you can integrate its effects and its expression in your consciousness.”

    Thank you!

  156. I was one of a small, select group who were “awarded” letters from the Dean at their various colleges back in the 1960s. It said, don’t bother trying to enroll here next semester. This letter from the Dean was almost immediately followed by another letter: this one from the local draft board, informing me of my new draft classification. So, by the skin of my teeth, I got sworn into the USAF before I was drafted into the army. Whew! I managed to avoid being part of an unjust war. Basic training at Lackland AFB was physically much less tough than High School football, even in the heat of August. But from day one of basic training, what I now consider a “psy-op” began: it was the vulgarization of practically everything you encountered. This clearly came down from the training instructors. Every common item, toilet paper, mattress covers, the cloth service cap, for a few examples, had a coarse or obscene name. I guess this must have been “an initiation of the nadir.” Maybe it was the nadir of the nadir. Was I improved by this? I doubt it. This was not just a bunch of young guys indulging in locker room talk; as I said, it came from the top down.

    For what it’s worth Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel “Shaman” begins with an initiation ordeal. It makes one appreciate civilization.

  157. Yet another example of the hysterization of young women in the West today:

    “Amid allegations of sexism at the Invercargill City Council, a sitting councillor says women receiving comments about their looks is “just part of life”.

    It comes as a former councillor has joined Alex Crackett in saying she felt she was treated differently because of her sex.

    Well, “Duh!”

    “She said there were also occasions when she was introduced by a male councillor as his “lovely secretary”.

    “That has a really profound effect on the young woman’s psyche.”

    Oh – puh-LEEZE!

    ““We made it clear that kind of behaviour wasn’t appropriate – and actually had to explain why it seemed a little bit weird … but we actually explained why doing that was wrong and embarrassing for Alex.”

    Alex Crackett is not the weird one, here! The women are! It seems to me, that Mr. Crackett is the only clinically sane person in the room!

    To think that women now run to the police (this happened to me!) for complimenting a woman on her appearance! When I was a young man, any woman who complained to the police over something like that would have been locked up in a mental hospital.

    Between this and the confused state of young men today, I say that Faustian civilization has no future and deserves none! As St. Justin Popovich said, “[European man’s] Wille zur Macht (will to power) has become a Wille zur Nacht (longing for night)!”

  158. Hmmm. Young men of the eurasian tribes who became wolves for a few years would have little need to see a Jungian psychiatrist. After being a wolf, they would be well acquainted with their Shadows!
    I wonder if Jung was aware of this tribal wolf-time and used it as a model of the Shadow archetype?

  159. FWIW, there are a lot of YouTube channels run by men ranging from 20s to 50s showing how to live in the wilderness skills, including how to start fire with sticks and with flint and steel.
    For example, I’ve been following for 7 years a channel called “Primitive Technology”. He goes into the forest barefoot wearing just a pair of shorts to spend his time making huts of straw, wood and brick; he shows how to make fire without any steel tools; making clay pots; stone tools; simple bow and arrows… He has 10.8M subscribers and within an hour will have over a million views per video.
    There is a real thirst out there for this sort of thing: stripping away all the conveniences of modern life and roughing it, even if only for a weekend.


  160. Are incels trying to reinvent manhood? Would you call them a prototype or a dead end?

  161. “Then, once their period in the forest was finished, they cast off their wolf-identity through another ritual process, became men, and returned to their villages to take up their social roles as husbands, fathers, providers, and warriors.”

    The burden of ritual initiation is to make boys into men, as you say in your essay, which I found very insightful. I would venture to say that in the case of Donald Trump, any initiations he might have experienced (military school?) seemed not to be enough to galvanise that particular boy to fully become a man. Of course, that shouldn’t surprise anyone: we are all infantilised by a material culture, particularly an economic culture, that wishes us never to put moral chains on our own appetites — never to grow up.

    As a mother of sons, I cannot tell you how difficult it is to raise men in this culture.

    As for “fur babies” (yuck, horrible term), domesticated animals never grow up, either, of course.

  162. About “meme that is going around on conservative web sites and pod casts:

    ” Strong men make good times
    Good Times make weak men
    Weak men create hard times
    Hard times create strong men
    Strong men create good times.”

    To me that sounds very much like the classic autocracy —>oligarchy—>democracy—>chaos—>autocracy cycle on a smaller scale.

  163. @Pesci ex Aqua — #157. In ancient Greece, young girls, probably selected young girls, spent some time in the Temple of Artemis living as Little Bears of Artemis. The idea was that they’d get the wildness out of their systems before puberty, and then would be ready to settle down as wives and mothers. Spartan girls, of course, always were tomboys by classical standards. (And in English translations of Lysistrata are given Scottish accents in England and Appalachian accents in America.) For what that all is worth.

  164. @Orion #159 – Sylvanus sounds very much like a Roman equivalent of Pan. Come to think of it, Robin Goodfellow in England – Puck- was a similar figure, though English mythology has a good many Green Men, Robin Hood outlaws, eyc.

  165. + Chinese resilience to collapse
    (Perhaps with reference to F. H. King’s ‘Farmers of Forty Centuries’ ? – IMHO it is still one of the best books on pre-industrial Chinese agriculture and technology and an excellent source of ideas for adapting to our somatic powered, de-industrial future.)

  166. Your choice of topic for this week has been very timely for me! A few weeks ago i had the chance to speak to a Catalan folklorist, and to buy his book, a compendium of Catalan Mythology. Among many other interesting things, there is a chapter dealing with the “Pare Llop” ( Wolf Father). A man with curious powers. I translate A quote from the book, from an older book, hoping that it will be of your interest:

    “On St.John eve, the sheperds from the Canigó, to become initiates in the art of directing wolves, undress completely in front of the black lagoon, and leave their clothes hanged in a nearby tree.Just at midnight, they jump into the lake and when they reach the other side, they become wolves.
    They found a great wolf-pack waiting for them, and they are received amid great joy and merriment. For seven years they are wolves just like the others, they learn the ways of the Wolf life and gain the frienship and trust of the wolves. After seven years, at the same day and time, they jump again at the lake and when they got out at the same place of seven years ago, they find their clothes, still hanged. They dress and become shepherds again, with the same age as before, as if time hasn’t passed at all. From then on, wolves love and obey them, and because they know their ways, they could be masters for them as well”

    This men were also known as “Wolf courters”, and aparently, there are reports from the last years of the XIX century, who talk about them asking for a yearly tribute at the rich houses, in order that their sheeps would be spared from the wolves, who were by then still numerous in the Catalan country. Some houses refused to pay and faced the consequences. Their animals were prey for the wolves, and they couldn’t prevent it, since the “courter” also displayed weird magical abilities, as being able to stop firearms from working, and protecting their wolves from harm, all this in plain sight!

  167. JMG,

    Thanks for that essay – thought-provoking, and great fun to read!

    In your reply to Nachtgurke right above, about awakening and directing the wolf: Would you say this is mostly relevant to men, or also to women? And if it‘s mostly in men, is there any „equivalent“ in women from your perspective?

    And somewhat further up, you wrote:

    „The Ariel Moravec stories are written at a prose level that intelligent older children can handle — that’s what you have to do to make a book readable by American adults these days, due to our lousy school systems […]“

    That‘s a shame! If you don‘t mind me asking, is that based on your own experience with book sales/feedback, or do publishers insist on that?


  168. Hey, JMG – sometimes I wonder if at times you come up with posts like these to make sure that you keep yourself firmly in the ‘fringe of the fringe of the web’ (“You’re quoting JMG again about the economy – the same guy who writes about werewolves and publishes books about monsters and UFOs? Give me a fracking break!”).

    This post certainly puts the 1957 film ‘I Was a Teenage Werewolf’ in new light!

    OK – I guess I should be serious for a moment. I am glad that you have brought up the subject. You are certainly not the first writer in Western society to grapple with the issue of initiation rites for adolescent males, nor will you be the last. I am encouraged to hear that serious research has been going on regarding youth initiation rituals and practices in ancient Indo-European culture. Our young males certainly have been suffering more than ever as of late: the things my young-adult son says about the total wrecks many of his male friends have become is truly heart-breaking. I have been in the habit of taking my son out into the wilderness a few times every year, but sadly it has not been for extended periods of time. And a proper initiation cannot be performed by a parent, anyway. Nor by a middle-class urbanite. We need some good old-fashioned savages! Where’s Conan when you need him? (Maybe we need to wait only a decade or two for him to reappear from the hinterlands)

    One of the famous quotations of Dr. Jordan Peterson – who joins us in the lament of the plight of the YUMs (young urban males) / YUFFIES (young urban failures) – is: “A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very dangerous man who has that under voluntary control.” (part of a lecture here: I believe that there is much truth to this statement and my experience with most military veterans validates it: they are among the best men I have ever met.

    @Epileptic Doomer (#92): I see we’re on the same wavelength. I see the suppression of the ‘natural male’ as being one of the most destructive consequences of the Devouring Mother archetype which seems to have overtaken our sick society. It is like a million-armed octopus that takes away everything that is dangerous or risky or adventurous or fun or even mildly interesting to the typical male — and then the males wither away and die inside.

  169. Mathiesen and Mary. Thanks for the encouragement. I will let you know more in future, but will limit my posts as I’m pretty sure that our kind host actually has a limit to how many posts he wants to see from me! 😁

    JMG: I am profoundly grateful to you for helping me for the last 15+ years I’ve been reading you and cannot express properly how much you have meant to me. So thank you again.

  170. Hey JMG

    On the subject of initiation rituals for the modern world, Olaf stapledon once wrote an essay on that subject, and also includes his solution in his novel “last and first men.” His solution seemed to be (if I’m remembering correctly) a kind of primitive life skills kind of Boy Scouts with the addition of some form of duelling to simulate warfare.

    Also for 5th Wednesday post I vote for my previous vote, which was how Chinese civilisation was able to last so long.

  171. Once again, I’ve tallied everyone’s votes. Thank you!

    Orion, hmm! Interesting.

    Bocaccio, that’s wearily familiar. People and movements talk about freedom when they’re out of power; once they gain power, the only freedom they’re interested in is their freedom to force you to do what they want.

    Edward, very much related. As I noted in the post, the cultural mainstream these days hates and fears young men — especially young men who won’t simply shut up and do what they’re told.

    Orion, you pretty much have to learn mundane astrology yourself. It’s not a branch of astrology that has lots of practitioners these days.

    Will1000, it’s a complicated issue which I haven’t yet sorted out clearly.

    Phutatorius, that is to say, a failed simulacrum of initiation isn’t an initiation!

    Michael, hmm.

    Emmanuel, I suspect he did indeed know this stuff fairly well.

    Renaissance, that’s very promising.

    Lunchbox, I think they’re clearing away some of the rubble to make room for a new understanding of manhood. They’re not to the stage of construction yet.

    Endrickwater, oh, granted. Trump makes a very odd standard bearer for all this!

    Patricia M, good! Yes, it’s basically the same thing.

    Guillem, hmm! Fascinating. I’ll look that up and see what I can find about it.

    Milkyway, you’d want to ask women about that! My guess — and it’s only a guess — is that there is indeed an equivalent, but it’s probably as inaccessible to most women these days as the equivalent is to most men. As for the reading level thing, that’s my choice, not my publisher’s — the big publishers play games like that, but the nimble midsized publishers I prefer to work with don’t.

    Ron, good. In point of fact, that’s exactly what I’m doing. To accomplish the work I have in mind, it’s necessary for me to avoid becoming a respectable thinker.

    J.L.Mc12, it was a common idea in Stapedon’s time, and it has a fair amount to recommend it.

  172. Hi John Michael,

    The dogs here pretty much get to do their own thing, as long as they limit their behaviour by adhering to a few rules. I have to be cognisant of the world in which we’re all a part of. A guide to better living, perhaps? 😉

    Hey, the whole trans thing. I dunno man, but I have this gut feeling that it is driven in part by the frankly insane belief that people are work units, and that they’re interchangeable. Of course if you’re in the managerial class, like near to the top, this belief is very useful because it keeps everyone below off balance. Also it is very revealing that such spaces at the top are not meritocracies – with all the messy implications that implies. Anywhoo, the core take away is that if you are replaceable… But basically, it’s very revealing as to how off-balance those folks in the upper airs actually are, to even attempt push that agenda. It stinks of fear to me, and a strong leader, with a solid hand, wouldn’t try this strategy.

    The real world implications from all of that stuff, is not good.

    Dunno, but I guess time will sort it all out. A lot of harm though in the meantime.

    Mate, early on – like fifteen years ago – I was angry about Peak Oil. How could this be? How could we not learn to adapt? My expectations were greater than reality, and your world view assisted me with moving on from that position. 🙂

    Wolves are fine and al, but wombats… Now there’s a sensible creature.



  173. JMG,
    how is the work you’re doing helped by making sure you are not seen as ‘respectable’ and stay solidly off the beaten track? I’m just curious.

  174. JMG – wow – the essays from out of left field are always the best ones. Interestingly, the titular character in 2019’s Joker movie makes a werewolf reference about disaffected young men in the climactic scene of the film.

    I think a lot of “toxic masculinity” can be explained by the systematic elimination of male-only spaces from our society – the remaining male-only spaces being protected by the men being absolute shaleheads. I think Jordan Peterson is right when he characterizes modern western society as the first feminine totalitarian society (maybe he is wrong about it being the first). A lot of chan culture is certainly like this – phrases like (4-letter word that starts with t for breasts) or get out mean “adopt a male identity or leave” – the chan denziens are not suffering from the delusion that they can actually exclude females.

    Pygmycory mentioned a now-defunct Canadian comedy show – the Red Green Show, which, as far as I can remember, didn’t feature any women – it was about the working class men who attended a men-only lodge in rural Canada. The show was by no means misogynist, the men grumbled about their wives in a very tongue and cheek way and generally agreed that their wives were right whether they liked it or not.

    Just as women’s sports are under attack by “trans women”, mens spaces have been under attack for at least 50 years. While I am an extremely libertarian person by nature and reject the idea that women should be denied opportunities on the basis of sex, the fact that just about the only all-male spaces that are left are strip clubs (not counting the employees) seriously sucks.

    My vote is for the deindustrial military history.

  175. My husband is a public school art teacher and I feel I must respond to some of the comments about retaliation in schools against kids who are not ‘passive.” I think people commenting are thinking about what it was like when they were in school and have no idea what it is like currently. Kids who misbehave in public schools are not retaliated against by administration. In fact over the last ten years there is no discipline happening in schools at all. Part of the reason is that over the last 10-15 years parents went from backing up teachers efforts to instill discipline in their children, to backing their children against teachers/administration and raising hell or suing if their kids are disciplined for misbehaving. The result is that nothing ever happens, even when kids are violent in the classroom. Teachers are on their own, with few tools, no power to do anything, and no support either from administration or from parents. You’re not allowed to discipline a child or give any consequences, and the principal tells you not to call her or complain to her. If you get the school counselor involved, the parents spend the whole time defending their child, attacking the teacher, and casting themselves and their child as the victim. Part of the reason this has happened is because of studies showing that male children of color are disciplined for misbehavior more frequently. Instead of addressing the underlying issues (some of which have been discussed in the blog post above), they just did away with discipline altogether, so that they won’t be accused of racism. It’s a way of purging their statistics of any hint of racism. And all they care about is their statistics. You may remember the case of the young boy who shot his teacher in Virginia a few months ago. Remember there were multiple reports that he was carrying a weapon, he had had severe violent behavior in the past and still the administrators just blew it off. That’s the reality of what it’s like nowadays in schools.

  176. @pygmycory (#163): interesting that you should mention the Canadian all-male comedy “The Red Green Show”. It ran for 15 seasons. I always considered the genius of the comedy to be that the women could laugh at all the foolish male antics and the men could laugh at themselves. It didn’t hurt that it had a wide variety of wacky Canadian male stereotypes: the overconfident handyman, the nerd, the fantabulist storyteller, the guy who loves to blow things up, the lonely forest ranger, the hen-pecked husband, the career criminal, the sewage worker, the PTSD-struck animal control officer. I think that virtually every guy who watched the series would identify with at least one character and would say for at least half of the other characters, “oh yeah, I know that guy”. It was one of the few things ever churned out by CBC that I actually cherished.

    @Justin (#14): regarding cowboys. I watch little TV and few movies, but I am always trying to discern the zeitgeist based on what wafts past me. And after a long time, cowboys seem to be coming back into vogue. The 2020 film ‘News of the World’; the ongoing hit-series “Yellowstone”. One which surprised me is the recent series “1883” which covers the tragedy-filled Oregon Trail. Pretty gritty stuff and piles up more bodies than a Shakespeare tragedy. What I find interesting about 1883 is that the real heroes aren’t the cowboys; it’s the Civil War veterans who don’t bat an eye at adversity, who know what it is to protect others and who do not hesitate to use lethal force when the vulnerable are in jeopardy. Very masculine! I know quite a few women who were absolutely entranced by the series. I know this is quite a departure from the theme of werewolves, but in a way, it does tie in. And seeing its popularity gives me hope.

  177. Yesterday, I saw your reply to DT that “I’ve sometimes wondered if there’s a collective death wish behind all this” (#45). Just after that, I read something similar from Mattias Desmet in his book “The Psychology of Totalitarianism”. He says that the end stage of mechanistic thinking could end up being euthanasia machines. He doesn’t expand on that thought at all, unless he does so later in the book (I haven’t finished reading it yet).

    I’ve been thinking something similar too. Right now I’d say we’re dealing both with a collective death wish and an enhanced fear of dying. Both come from the rejection of life. The fear of dying has dominated so far in our society, leading to the absurdities of what the medical system will do to prolong the life of the terminally ill. However, I think there’s a good chance things will swing hard in the other direction in the near future as the collective death wish grows stronger. Hearing the reports on expanding usage of euthanasia in Canada and parts of Europe, it’s already begun.

    I can imagine a future is which euthanasia becomes legal for an increasingly broad spectrum of diagnosed conditions until eventually basically anyone who wants it will qualify. Suicide prevention as a goal would be considered as backward as conversion therapy is seen now. Drugs would become available with the goal of removing people’s fear of death. “The science” would say that euthanasia was the best option for an increasing number of people, and friends and loved ones in grief who dared to question if it was actually the best option would be told that they were selfish.

    Such a scenario wouldn’t last all that long considering natural selection, but it could last long enough to do a lot of damage. It may seem farfetched now, but it wasn’t too long ago that most people would have said the same thing about sterilizing children en masse, and now many of those same people support it wholeheartedly.

  178. The Other Owen #148:

    Interesting question. The last long-term girlfriend this son had was actually really nice, but she was constantly looking at her phone even when we’d be having a conversation. Number Three Son said she was like that all the time. Eventually she ran off with another guy she found on some dating site, Son is most upset she took the dog.

    I just read a really good Substack article by Jonathan Haidt that explores the explosion in mental illness among young people, and why liberal girls have a much higher rate of diagnosed mental problems than any other group. There’s a clear connection between social media involvement and mental health issues; liberal girls adopted the technology to a greater degree than boys or conservative girls. Anyway, the whole article is fascinating:

  179. I have now read Razib Khan’s two-part essay (thanks, Lothar!) and found it very good, especially at the beginning, both very well written and balancing caution with imagination. Later on I thought Razib went a bit further than supported by the data. The authors of the paper that Razib largely bases himself on (some of whom I know personally) admit their genetic data only suggest that some Indo-European languages arrived with the so-called steppe Y-chromosomes (p. 135-141). In fact, nobody knows for sure what kind of language was spoken in archaeologically defined Yamnaya or Dubna settlements like Krasnosamarskoe, and there is no proof that wolf-boy hordes overran Eurasia. The historically known invasions by the Huns, Avars, Hungarians, Turks, Mongolians and Comanches were certainly planned and led by older men.

    Contrasting Razib’s and JMG’s essay, I find Razib focussed on one relatively short period of time, the conquest of Eurasia by steppe nomads, while JMG focussed on those elements of initiation that remained important or were transformed in whatever form over millennia, including in relatively peaceful times. JMG also mentioned in comments that the “wolf-life” was not the only option available to young men. I wonder if Nietzsche, when speaking of human “losgelassene Raubtiere” (liberated carnivores) and “blonde Bestien”, fully appreciated that the carnivore-life was only a relatively short period in any prehistoric man’s life and had ended by the time he married.

  180. Chris, hmm! That’s plausible.

    Pygmycory, nobody takes fringe intellectuals seriously, so they miss the blowback that so often clobbers respectable thinkers who turn dissident. If I’d gone for an academic career, or taken any of the other routes to intellectual respectability, I never could have written the stuff I’ve published — I’d have been dogpiled by the defenders of the status quo. Out here on the fringes, I can write and publish what I want, and watch with a sly smile as my ideas filter inward and shape the respectable discourse.

    Justin, trust me, I know. I’m a Freemason in large part because I like having guy time, and that’s a good place to get it.

    Lisa, yes, I’m quite aware that healthy discipline is all but impossible in today’s schools because the parents refuse to accept it for their children. My father, stepmother, and biological mother are all retired teachers, so trust me, I’ve heard all the stories. That’s simply another example of what I’m talking about — after all, a neglect of discipline is just another form of child neglect.

    Kashtan, I’ve been watching the astonishing rapidity with which killing sick people (“euthanasia”) has become acceptable in some Western countries. I think you’re quite right that that’s another example of the death wish — and your scenario is far more plausible than I like to think about.

  181. As a small aside, this essay put in mind of the song Furr from the band Blitzen Trapper, so I went and listened to it for the first time in many years. Hearing it again I was surprised that the spirit calling to the 17 year old boy is described as his mother. It strikes me that given how clearly the song reflects a wolf-boy in every other way, but that the instigating wild spirit it the mother and not the father, the poisoning or drying out of the collective unconscious well of male mentorship and fatherhood has gone very deep indeed – perhaps that is another manifestation of decline, that it’s not just cultural bonds but deeper psychic forms of adults shepherding youths into adults because there is no drive to be generative, whether in the male or female sense.

    Furr – Blitzen Trapper

    Yeah, when I was only 17,
    I could hear the angels whispering
    So I droned into the words and
    wondered aimlessly about till
    I heard my mother shouting through the fog
    It turned out to be the howling of a dog
    or a wolf to be exact.
    The sound sent shivers down my back
    but I was drawn into the pack.
    And before long, they allowed me
    to join in and sing their song.
    So from the cliffs and highest hill, yeah
    we would gladly get our fill,
    howling endlessly and shrilly at the dawn.
    And I lost the taste for judging right from wrong.
    For my flesh had turned to fur, yeah
    And my thoughts, they surely were turned to
    instinct and obedience to God.

    You can wear your fur
    like the river on fire.
    But you better be sure
    if you’re makin’ God a liar.
    I’m a rattlesnake, babe,
    I’m like fuel on fire.
    So if you’re gonna’ get made,
    don’t be afraid of what you’ve learned.

    On the day that I turned 23,
    I was curled up underneath a dogwood tree.
    When suddenly a girl
    with skin the color of a pearl,
    wandered aimlessly,
    but she didn’t seem to see.
    She was listenin’ for the angels just like me.
    So I stood and looked about.
    I brushed the leaves off of my snout.
    And then I heard my mother shouting through the trees.
    You should have seen that girl go shaky at the knees.
    So I took her by the arm
    we settled down upon a farm.
    And raised our children up as
    gently as you please.

    And now my fur has turned to skin.
    And I’ve been quickly ushered in
    to a world that I confess I do not know.
    But I still dream of running careless through the snow.
    An’ through the howlin’ winds that blow,
    across the ancient distant flow,
    it fill our bodies up like water till we know.

    You can wear your fur
    like the river on fire.
    But you better be sure
    if you’re makin’ God a liar.
    I’m a rattlesnake, babe,
    I’m like fuel on fire.
    So if you’re gonna’ get made,
    don’t be afraid of what you’ve learned.

  182. That makes sense. Making sure you don’t start self-censoring to keep respectability by making sure you have no respectability to lose. Not that you don’t have plenty of respect out on the fringes – I’ve certainly learned a lot from you, and I really value your opinion on a range of topics.

  183. @RonM, I enjoyed it too. I’m glad that my perception that it was poking fun in a good way was accurate.

  184. @Justin, about the Red Green show, I wasn’t thinking of it as misogynist. I was thinking it might a bit sexist against men not against women, but at the same time it seemed like it was laughing with the male characters and not at them when they did silly things.

  185. @JMG “I’m suggesting that unless our culture provides outlets for the many boys and young men who do fit that model, we’re not going to get past the current cultural mess.”

    Every week on national radio is Science hour with Dr Karl – always fun but most answers usually end with “I don’t know”, at least he is honest. But Karl is always harping on about “if there isn’t an outlet for pent up energy, the results will be explosive.”

    Eckhart Tolle, one of these modern pseudo-Buddhist types, once said, that if you have a strong sexual desires such as sleeping around with people, it is far better to engage in them than repress them. If you repress them, you will do the most awful things in trying to avoid these feelings.

    This all feeds into Jungs shadow work.

    One odd way this is coming out in recent years, the small but growing movement of Semen Retention. Look it up on reddit if you want to see how folks are working with this. It is were young men abstain from all sexual actives for long periods of time in order to gain more control over themselves. By deliberately restraining they are at least in conscious control of this extra energy with luck direct it into more desirable outlets. Would you say this is were a lot of the issues of today come from, not just the build up of tension but that it is unacknowledged? That the lack of acknowledgement means it comes out in weird and wild ways?

    As for the tirades of ideologues, this is the area that Ted Kaczynski liked to label as being ‘over socialized’. Socialization is good in the sense of working together as a society but too much of it and it comes out in weird ways as people try to clamor for power over others by any means possible. He had some crazy ideas but some were one the mark.

  186. JMG 171
    The Mexican American war was fought by a small volunteer army at a time when most Americans believed in manifest destiny. It was opposed by people like Thoreau. It was also pretty well wiped from the American mental slate by the civil war. Ironically many of the senior civil war officers on both sides were lieutenants and captains on the US side in the Mexican war.
    It is certainly remembered bitterly here in Mexico. It is a reason many Mexicans feel they have as much right to be in the captured territories as the Americans do, and why the San Patricios are still so honored. San Patricio Melaque, the next town to me is named for them, and St. Patrick’s day is huge there.
    The Philippine war was fought again by a small professional army far away at a time most western powers believed in and had empires, and much of the rest of the world constituted those empires. I think most Americans only thought that they defeated Spain, whom they had been hyped to hate, and weren’t aware of or else justified the brutal repression of the Phillipino independence movement under general Aguinaldo and others, who had initially thought the Americans were going to help them gain independence. It was also the first war that reintegrated the old Confederacy into the federal army and brought their racist attitudes with them.
    Again that too was wiped from the American mental slate by WWI, WWII and Korea. The Americans came into WWI late enough to miss the slaughter of years on the western front, and were able to fairly easily defeat the exhausted German army they faced.
    Both the Mexican war and the suppression of the Phillipine independence struggle were fairly short, involved limited American casualties and no conscripts, and did not get the press coverage, certainly not the truthful press coverage that Vietnam did. The number of conscripts coming home in body bags and the ubiquity of radio and television were certainly part of it. Even the telephone and the automobile made veterans more able to stay in touch. Perhaps the American empire had by then reached the stage that its citizens were ready to accept that it was not always right, nor were they always the”good guys”” .
    I fear the truthful coverage of the Vietnam days is now a thing of the past in the msm.
    Of course one could also add the genocide of the Native American people.
    I guess your question could involve a life’s study, but this would be my best guess for now.

  187. Kashtan 196
    Someone was telling me this evening that the sale of hard drugs has been legalized in Vancouver, so I would assume all of BC. I can not verify this so may just be passing on a rumor.

  188. Darkest Yorkshire 158
    Thanks for your reply
    I actually photographed the hard hat riot/demonstration/whatever that you mentioned for Paris Match.

  189. This comment may make some people unhappy, so please scroll on by if you’re sensitive to candid gender talk. Of course I could be wrong, but I believe I have been a man in many a past life. My most recent incarnation, which lasted until the late 1960s, was as a woman and currently I am a woman. My bone to pick with transpeople is they are skipping the meat of being female or male in formative experiences. Yes, they have no choice in the matter but to wait to be reborn as the desired sex. They skip the main course and there is no way of forcing it to happen as a child; if transitioned, technology has yet to give them a way to reach full sexual maturity culminating in the ability to procreate.

    No male will ever know what it is to pathologically fear getting pregnant, or to want to become pregnant and then tragically miscarry. No woman (at this point, anyway) will know the terror of being drafted in order to get blown up in a meaningless war because that’s what “men” are supposed to do. Until you’ve had those extremely chromosome-specific experiences, when you castrate or hysterectomize yourself and say you’re the other one, it’s just a costume.

  190. I’d like to give my take on “woke”. To claim it just about being nice and respectful to all races and non-heteronormative people is *really* missing the way that it is being imposed on society. In my view woke seeks to view nearly all human interaction as a struggle between oppressor and oppressed. While the class issue isn’t completely absent, there are many supposed axes of oppression: race, gender, sexual orientation, etc, and a whole “intersectionality” created by combining them. A hierarchy of victimhood is created thus. This toxic lens through which to view society is often known by its detractors as “cultural Marxism”. I believe that term hits the mark, dead-on. The manner in which debate is squashed by a collusion of government and corporate censorship, the quickly changing “rules” of discourse handed down from on high, the redefining of words, on-the-fly even. It is a power play, pure and simple. Just look at the way cancel culture operates as a frothing mob, destroying people’s careers and reputations for the most innocuous transgressions. It would make Chairman Mao proud! A person pushing back firmly on “woke” means nothing with regards to their tolerance of other’s differences, it can simply indicate that they don’t believe that the ends justify the means.

  191. I will put a vote in for the next topic.

    The exact same topic of this post but with the sexes reversed? What would be similar to this for women?

  192. A couple of weeks after my last day in school, I descended alone into the Underworld to be dismantled and reassembled by chthonic spirits. Actually, it was the basement of our local hospital and a maxillofacial surgeon. The dismantling and reassembling was real enough, though. Afterwards, I spent several days out of my head on morphine, vomiting blood and hallucinating Brian Froud faeries. Not really an initiation, I suppose, but my own extreme psychic break between being a schoolboy and what came afterwards, and not one I’d rush to repeat.

    I’m reading something by Evelyn Underhill at the moment, so I’d also be very interested to see what you have to say about her.

    (I also wonder whether ‘Mr Underhill’ was in anyway ‘inspired’ by Evelyn. Tolkien would have had a direct personal connection to her via Charles Williams, but I could also imagine that he was familiar with her work independently of that.)

  193. Kashtan, JMG,

    I live in Canada and have been watching the rise of euthanasia with growing horror, especially because it seems to be something I watched happen before, playing out on a much, much larger scale.

    Many years ago, I knew someone who wanted to die, but could not bring herself to actually kill herself. She took a lot of increasingly crazy and dangerous actions, risking her life repeatedly in ever more dramatic ways. Alcohol, drugs, intentionally picking fights with gangs, and signing up for medical experiments were among her methods; she also spent like there was no tomorrow, because to her ideally there wouldn’t be. This has an uncomfortable similarity to the past few years, as I see them.

    What really bothers me though is what happened when she finally decided to end her life. She didn’t just kill herself: she took her husband and their two children with her. Apparently, this is common: a lot of people who commit suicide simply cannot stand the idea of their loved ones outliving them, and so will make sure their loved ones join them in death.

    So I’m not just worried about people choosing to commit suicide, or suicide being lauded as noble; I’m also quite troubled by the possibility that it may be pushed on people, in some cases with some very severe penalties (social and economic) for those who refuse to embrace the end of their lives. In fact, we’re arguably seeing the start of this already.

    I hope it doesn’t rise to the level of a collective murder-suicide, but that’s been a popular archetype in our collective consciousness for a while now…..

  194. Re this:

    “To accomplish the work I have in mind, it’s necessary for me to avoid becoming a respectable thinker.”

    …and this:

    “People and movements talk about freedom when they’re out of power; once they gain power, the only freedom they’re interested in is their freedom to force you to do what they want.”

    Both these quotes of yours, struck together like flint and steel, lit up the thought that: “to attain the freedom I want, it is necessary for me to avoid attaining power [over others].”

    Which is to say, if people and movements talk about freedom when they are out of power [while aspiring to acquire said power], it is one thing. But if they practice exercising freedom, they may soon discover that they are better off staying entirely away from the “power trap” which you mention. 😉

  195. John and kommentariat, it may be an off topic question, but I’m curious on it.
    Talking about hairy people…what do you think about (fat and furry) gay subculture named as “Bears”?

  196. @ Kashtan “Right now I’d say we’re dealing both with a collective death wish and an enhanced fear of dying. Both come from the rejection of life.”

    It strikes me that this is the “small letter” version of the false binary JMG refers to tolerably often – between the apocalyptic, sudden-collapse-of-everything vision of the future, and the infinite prolongation of the species by “metastasising across the stars” vision of the future.

    One is effectively a collective death wish, and the other a collective fear of death, at least of the death of the species. Both, as you say, come from an active rejection of (perhaps?) *the responsibility* of freely living, deciding, doing.

  197. On the topic of death wish:
    If you follow today’s discussion carefully, you get the impression that the best person is that who never existed.

    A person who never existed cannot destroy the environment, emit Co2 or be able to discriminate against any minority. So I think the void will become the new nirvana for Gen Z and therefore suicide will increase or at least childlessness will increase. One also hears more and more often from women who see it as a crime to have children. My fiancé’s cousin, for example, thinks having children is unacceptable given the state of the world.

    I think that will mean that communities that still have an intact gender understanding and are happy to have children will have a much better chance of surviving the long crisis.

  198. Dear JMG,
    it is true that the military is no more a escape route for those joung people. But nowadays there is the phenomenon of hired militiae, or contractors, lead by private managers.

    Take for example the pretty much evident fascination that a military private body like russian Wagner is having these days: following the comments in various social media and channels, a lot of young people see these troops like an incarnation of manly values you cited for wolves, translated in the modern setting: “fierce, predatory, loyal, tough, attuned to the wilderness”, being the modern wilderness the various countries littered with battlegrounds around the world.

    I suppose that these corps will increase in size and number in the years to come, as far as several nations will fail to have a properly functioning military structure.

    Have a nice day

  199. @Ron M.

    `“A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very dangerous man who has that under voluntary control.”´

    Good one! I remember some indian article, about politics I think – well I’ve forgotten about it save for one great proverb:
    “A snake without venom in its teeth should not talk about forgiveness”

    So truly! A weak man may not be nice at all, just afraid of adverse effects of stepping up.

    In that sense I support many advice-givers for young males of our time: even as a soft middle class suburbanite, it is favourable
    to do a lot of physical exercise, to voluntarily subject oneself to tougher circumstance.

    Softness and complacency is just depressing, I find.

    I also agree with the devouring mother and the withering males – many young males of our western core society just retreat, disconnect, suffer in silence and then pass in silence. No more substance for rebellion. James Dean and these 1950s hotrods are history.

  200. Stating ‘men are muscle, that’s all we are’ can be used differently, to reflect the bitterness many men feel towards a society which only barely values even that simple aspect of masculinity.

    Maleness has been pathologized not only in our schools but in virtually every arena of endeavor, every institution. Have you been to family court in the last 40 or 50 years? The miasma of outright contempt and even hatred for men is palpable.

  201. I too would appreciate a post on the current state of masculinity, as well as your insights into its causes/origins and likely long-term outcomes.

  202. I’ll second Jeff proposal for the 5th wednesday of the month. I’m always interested in military affairs, just for the sake of knowing.

  203. Dear Mr. Greer,
    thank you for this insightful and intersting post.
    I’d like to add one datapoint. Outside of initiation rituals transfiguration into animal spirits is also common practice among the shamans themselves (i.e. old guys). And this practice seems to be quite universal and very often but not exclusively deals with predators of respective living environments. I know that even today there still remain lively shamanic traditions all over Amazonia, where becoming a Jaguar is a very common thing. It is even an integral part of certain mythological stories of how we humans came into the world by way of transfiguration from certain animals. In the mythology of the Huitoto for example there was a long period of inbetween where the earth was populated by animals an animanos (human-animal shape shifters) until at some point many decided to become fully human and the art of becoming an animal has been forgotten by most of us. Veritable Shamans, though, still know how to do it.

  204. Suggested reading: The Saga of the Volsungs, Penguin Classics. P44 “Sigmund and Sinfjotli don the skins.”

    Marvelous novelization of the material, showing just how feral Sigurd (Sigfried) really was: Diana Paxson’s trilogy “The Wolf and the Raven, The Dragons of the Rhine, and The Lord of Horses.” But it helps to really have the Norse material under your belt before reading it; and the Nibelungenleid (high medieval courtly version) after that.

  205. @beekeeper

    If you saw the same “nice” girl with a crack pipe in her purse or back pocket, you’d probably think twice about letting her into your personal life. You’d probably say something like “Get yourself straightened out first, then come back”. You’d probably be telling your close friend or relative “Hey, this girl is bad news, don’t get near her”

    But a smartphone? Nobody bats an eye. Or you get the loudest “how DARE you” screeching you’ve ever heard.

    From that article, I also find it very interesting the year all of that started to um, take off, into the wild blue yonder.


    I’ve always maintained people misunderstood what 2012 really meant. Not that I know exactly what it means, even now, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got a better idea about it than most.

  206. I hope I’m not being too much of a downer here, but didn’t one else have a rough day yesterday (5/4)? It seemed the full moon was particularly intense and I had a harder time shutting down my magical senses, as I was picking up a lot of static, and bad vibes. So I had to eat more grounding food and do some other things to stay on the level. I feel better today -at my baseline.

    I’m thinking of it here in terms of this discussion -with the full moon for one. After I got home from work yesterday there was a murder-suicide at the top of my street. I heard all the sirens and such going crazy, and then I heard a wreck after a few more minutes, at the intersection two doors down from our house. One of the responding officers had driven through the stop sign and hit a civilian vehicle, and the cops car spun out and hit the two-story three unit apt. building on the corner, taking out their electric box. It was chaotic.

    Then my other neighbors were concerned about another neighbor across the street who hadn’t been out of the house for awhile and his mail was piling up. So my wife called the regular police line at the behest of our older 80+ neighbor, and they said they would send someone out to do a wellness check. So the ambulance and fire dpt. were back on our street just about two hours after the first incident. Turns out he couldn’t move and they took him out of there.

    Then one of my aunts told me this morning, a friend of my cousin’s was murdered in a different neighborhood.

    I couldn’t help but think of this conversation because the incident at the top of my street was perpetrated by a 20 year old male on a 19 year old female.

    So I was just curious if this outburst of destructive energy timed to the full moon was just localized, or if it was more prevalent elsewhere too?

    One thing I’ve noticed is that this kind of energy seems to build until it is earthed. The earthing happened near me. And though I feel really bad for everyone involved, I feel better personally as the discharge seems to have cleared things up today.

    @Ron M #195: I know a lot of people who have talked about that Yellowstone and 1883 show. Someone mentioned it to me last night, in fact. I do enjoy a good western myself from time to time. Last year I read True Grit by Charles Portis. Man, the language in that novel is fantastic. I may have to read some other of his books, and want to read a bit deeper in the genre. Glad to hear you also get the sense it is staging (stage coaching?: ) a comeback!

  207. >You may remember the case of the young boy who shot his teacher in Virginia a few months ago

    One would think at the very least, the teacher unions would put their foot down, if for no other reason than workplace safety. I can only imagine how apoplectic your average factory worker union would be if some assembly station was occasionally killing people and management knew about it and did nothing.

    I mean, this is the Era of Safety, after all, Safety Ueber Alles, right? Can’t ever be safe enough.

    What I take away is that the public edumacational system is dysfunctional beyond repair. All you can do as a parent is isolate your kid from it.

  208. 1 vote here for postindustrial warfare.

    One of the things that most galls me about the “Burning Times” hoo-hah is that most of the people who got executed or tortured were accused of heresy, not witchcraft. There were certainly isolated panics where individuals and families died horribly because their neighbors decided they were witches. But most of the people who were tortured and executed died for a religious faith that had very little or nothing to do with pre-Christian European folk practices or contemporary Paganism. Using their deaths to score persecution points is as offensive as stating that six million witches walked into the gas chambers at Auschwitz singing “We All Come From The Goddess.”

  209. Also, as an add on to my other comment from today… having seen Skinny Puppy last week (I never thought I’d get the chance… they are finishing up a 40th anniversary / Final Tour) I was thinking in regards to this post of their name “Skinny Puppy” and how they provided catharsis to themselves and a generation of fans, myself included.

    Their song “Deep Down Trauma Hounds” was in my mind yesterday, before the events on my street unfolded.

    “Injured plea crushed destiny / Deep down trauma hounds run to corrode integrity.”

  210. Woke ideology doing good

    A couple of people have expressed the opinion that woke ideology is doing some good. I am Trans and have had the op, hormones and am one of 5000 people in the UK to have a gender recognition certificate. This means that I am right at the top of the woke hierarchy of victimhood and am in a position to know what is really going on and I can tell you that woke ideology and the current trans movement are the worst thing that has happened to trans people.

    For over 40 years Terfs and the right have been accusing trans women of being potential rapists who are a threat to women. Around 2017 Stonewall started pushing the idea of self id for gender recognition certificate. This meant that Roy the rapist could just ruck up and get a gender recognition certificate with out a diagnosis of gender dsyphoria to prove that they were trans and without the two year real life rest to show that they were serious about it. If they were caught they would be able to go to a women’s prison. This has really happened. Look at the case of Karen White (Guardian 11/10/2018) who was admitted to a woman’s prison when the prison service introduced a policy of self ID.

    I cannot think of a better way of inciting hatred against trans women then allowing rapists to exploit the system to get a gender recognition certificates. As someone who experienced a lot of harassment 20 years ago when I first transitioned and had people calling me a nonce, throwing stones at me and threatening to stab and shoot me, this frightens the hell out of me. I have never known so much hatred towards trans people on social or main stream media since the idea of self ID came in. 10 years ago this hardly happened as the majority of people had no interest in trans issues. This whole backlash lash against us has bene stoked by woke ideology.

    Stonewall like to claim that it is difficult to get a gender recognition certificate and this will make things easier for trans people. I can tell you that this is a lie. Getting the gender recognition certificate was the easiest part of the whole process.

    There are also people who are confused or have mental health problems who mistakenly think that they have gender dsyphoria, and could be making the biggest mistake of their lives if they go on to have hormones and the op. The last thing they need is for the law to confirm them in their delusion by giving them a gender recognition certificate.. This is why they need to see a doctor to get a medical diagnosis to that they can be directed towards the therapy or treatment they need. Even if they are unable to get the op in this country, they can go to Thailand where they won’t require a psychiatric assessment before they have it done. I only ever met one person who regretted having it done and they had obvious mental health problems and they went to Thailand. The trans movement and woke ideology do not care about this.

    The risk of this happening with children is much greater as they are still developing and do not understand themselves. Many children go through a phase of identifying with the opposite gender and then grow out of it. And yet the trans movement and woke ideology want children to be able to get the op. This is likely to get a lot of them to regretting what they have done. If children end up mutalating themselves then a lot of people will get very angry about this. Again I can’t think of a better way of inciting hatred against trans people. It will also lead to a backlash against the whole idea of gender reassignment operations. I want these operations be available to people who need them. But in order for this to happen we need to have reasonable safeguards in place to try to stop people who mistakenly think they are trans from having the operation. This is even more important with children. No one under 18 should be having this op

    As far as I am concerned the trans movement is a suicide squad. It never used to be like this until the woke ideology took up the cause of trans people. I know that straight white men are treated as the enemy by the woke ideology and have a hard time of it. However I think you should get down on your knees and pray that the woke ideology doesn’t start treating you as a victim and stand up for your rights. Things will get far worse for you if this happens.

    I am sorry this is so badly written. I did not have much time and this is something that makes me quite emotional.

  211. One downside of our crazy culture is having men guarding women’s prisons, which is like having coyotes guard your chicken coops. Not that all guards are coyotes, but the temptation is there, and bullies are attracted to captive populations like thieves are to pots of money lying around. And on the other side, women guarding men’s prisons, another recipe for a different sort of disaster. Some things really do need to be segregated by sex.

    Perhaps the former English custom of having a single-sex club one can retreat to might be a good idea, though it’s not in the American tradition at all. Drop in, get a good meal and a few drinks, play games, even get a room for the night…. and, yes, I’d dearly love to have seen my grandsons go away to summer camp, but these days, “camp” means computer camp in the city or some such thing. I hated girl scout camp with a passion, but that was my neurology talking; I’d have loved a wilderness experience otherwise, and sought them out in midlife when the children were away at summer camps.

    When the family went to St George Island for the holidays (a.k.a. freezing your buns off on the beach), my youngest grandson spent a lot of time with his oldest brother (half-brother, adult, working on his PhD), and it did him a world of good.

  212. My vote is for the resilience of Chinese civilization.

    With respect to the plight of young men, it is overdetermined; our host has noted the murder mystery victim who was stabbed, shot, whacked over the head, drowned …

    N initiation or coming of age rituals, so many don’t have any kind of positive role model, so many have few prospects for the future (and they are shrinking fast). I could go on, but everyone gets the picture.

    That said, the lot of women isn’t great, and feminism seems to be a mixed bag at best. Anon’s post on the dangers the Woke ideology is posing to actual transgender people (in addition to the children being pushed into it) is also an eyeopener. Being picked as the Victim Who Must Be Rescued is not actually being done for the good of the “victim” but for the good of the Rescuer.


  213. stephen h. pearson @ 205, I know very little about the Mexican American War, but it has always seemed to me that, on the face of it, Mexico could and should have won. The American volunteer invaders could hardly have been living off the land in arid Northern Mexico. An army with a long supply chain is always vulnerable. I think the reason Afghanistan can’t be conquered is that it is so remote and rugged that invaders can’t keep their armies supplied. Alexander solved the problem by marching through, winning a few battles, and setting up some local satraps who would in theory answer to him.

    Scotlyn @ 215, I hold that it is the duty of philosophers, in which term I do not include the academic frauds who populate the profession now, to tell the truth. This quite understandably does not make the philosopher popular–water that wets not, mean estate and so on. What we have seen over and over again is some public intellectual says a few rather sensible things, Jordan Peterson comes to mind, gains a following and is then coopted by factions who hope to gain support from the person’s following. Or, if the person declines the honor, he or she may well see him or herself vilified, “cancelled”. and possibly even the victim of single auto car crash, suicide in a hotel room, small plane accident or similar incident.

    JMG, I also experienced some rather strange effects from what I suppose was the full moon. Are there ways, workings, ceremonies which persons of good will can do to help prevent tragedies like the murder suicide described in #225?

  214. @Scotlyn (#213):

    Your astute observation about the “power trap” lines up very well with one of my all-time favorite wise sayings, by Lord Acton:

    “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men …” [“Men” = “people,” not only “males,” here.]

    Myself, I try to conduct my life in the wider mundane world by a much older dictum:

    Ama nesciri, et de nihilo reputari = “Love being unknown, and reputed for nothing.” (This was one of Arthur Machen’s favorite quotes; it seems to come from Thomas à Kempis.)

    In oher words, flying under the radar is an excellent strategy for living one’s life well.

  215. I’ve tallied everyone’s votes again; many thanks.

    Buzzy, that’s an excellent point. Otherwise it’s a good song.

    Pygmycory, thank you! Yes, and it also helps chase off people who might try to bully me into following the respectable stupidity du jour, whatever that happens to be.

    Michael, I’ve been watching that with some interest. They’ve picked up on one of the classic modes of sexual energy work and are doing creative things with it.

    Stephen, fair enough.

    Kimberly, it’s one more example of living life as a pre-packaged imitation of itself. Have you by any chance read Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle? If not, it might be worth a read.

    Selkirk, a good crisp summary. The one thing I’d add is that public proclamation of wokery is also a status signal — a way that members of the privileged classes can display their obedience to the corporate hierarchy and find less obviously income-based excuses to sneer at the working class.

    Owain, that’s a fascinating question. Tolkien was certainly aware of her — you’d have to be living under a rock in Britain between the wars to miss her presence — but I’d want to see some reason he would use her name as a Baggins pseudonym; he was generally very precise with his puns! (Cf. Treebeard’s ent-term burarum for orcs; in Latin, which Tolkien knew inside and out, that’s “those of the bureau,” i.e., bureaucrats.)

    Anonymous, ouch. Yes, I think that’s uncomfortably likely.

    Scotlyn, excellent. Yes, very much so. I don’t claim to be immune to the lure of power, so I take steps to see to it that the lure isn’t presented to me in any way that matters.

    Chuaquin, one of my closest gay friends is a bear, but I don’t have any particular opinion on the subject; I don’t find men sexually attractive at all, so to me it’s a little like the internal subdivisions of (say) My Little Pony fandom — something other people pay attention to.

    Executed, yes, exactly. It’s all part of the same pattern — a very common one in civilizations in decline, by the way — in which suicide becomes fashionable, birth rates drop steadily, and ideologies focus on escape from existence rather than doing something constructive and beautiful with life.

    Pierluigi, that’s a valid point, and an important one.

    Karalan, another valid point.

    Mmorgue, thanks for this! I don’t happen to know a great deal about Amazonian mythology so wasn’t aware of this.

    Patricia M, I haven’t read Paxson’s retellings, but the originals are great.

    Justin, I also felt some very rough energies yesterday evening, and had to do some extra protective work.

    Kenaz, er, witchcraft was defined as a heresy from 1374 on, when Gregory XI formally proclaimed that all witchcraft was by definition done with the help of Satan and therefore could be prosecuted under heresy statues. That was reaffirmed in 1484 by Innocent VIII in his bull Summis desiderantes affectibus, which explicitly defined witchcraft as devil worship and thus the most extreme of all heresies. That said, you’re right that even when actual heresies (as distinct from the more usual “what can we torture her into saying?”) were involved, those had nothing to do with modern Wicca.

    Anon, thank you for this. I’m sorry to say that I think you’re quite correct, and that many trans people who are perfectly civil and reasonable about their situation are going to get it in the neck as a result of the current rhinocerosness.

    Patricia M, well, yes, there’s that!

    Cugel, exactly. I’m wondering whether in some cases it’s deliberately done to harm the rescued — or at least to make them dependent for survival on the current system.

    Mary, yes, but those require considerable magical skill. In the meantime, daily banishings and other basic protective workings are a good idea.

  216. Oh frack, it just clicked. I think I now know where the collective death wish is coming from.

    If we take two common middle class beliefs and put them together, the only way to make it work is a mass murder-suicide, ideally ending in human extinction. The first is that the highest goal of life is to prevent suffering of any kind, the common thread uniting the pathological veganism (the need to avoid animal suffering), environmentalism (the need to avoid suffering as the climate changes), the desire to eradicate -isms (eliminate suffering based on discrimination), the anti-war movement (war being by definition horrific), the desire to help the poor (poverty being seen as horrible suffering by definition). This part could lead in many directions, but it leads to a very uncomfortable one once idea number 2 is thrown in: namely that any life other than a middle class life is horrible for everyone involved.

    Most members of the middle class are convinced that everyone wants to live like them; when I point out examples of things like the Amish, the answer is that obviously they meant that everyone who hasn’t been brainwashed (a tragedy) wants to live like them. So, what happens when, as from my experience seems to have gotten started around 15 years ago, the massive amount of suffering their lifestyles cause finally starts to enter into their awareness; and what happens when a large number of people are forced out of these lifestyles, which also got started around the same time?

    The answer is of course a collective mental breakdown, one which will, as far as I can see, only have one possible outcome: the only way I see to square both of these will be to try to obliterate the human race. If the only possible lifestyles are either full of suffering or cause massive suffering for others, then there are no viable human lifestyles according to their moral code, which means, according to their belief it is necessary to avoid suffering as much as possible, human beings ought not exist, and it is their moral duty to minimize suffering as much as possible by doing what they can to ensure we cease to exist.

  217. Several commenters have noted the inclusion of manly ideals in Taylor Sheridan’s recent tv series ( Yellowstone, 1883, 1923) but to me the granddaddy of all Hollywood productions about the process of becoming a man through a tough ( maybe horrific) initiation was John Wayne’s 1972 movie ( The Cowboys). In it, the gruff rancher loses all his cowboys and must press in to service a group of actual school boys ( yanked right from the school house) for his perilous 400 mile cattle drive. A terrible test ensues with rustlers, violence and the death of all adults to leave the now boys (now men) to complete the cattle drive out of nothing more than a sense of duty.
    I think that time (1972) was the last period when Americans were receptive to the ideal of a transition to manhood by fire. It was a popular movie, but has since bin relegated to Hollywood’s dustbin and never appears on any streaming service. It can only be watched by scrounging up a dusty dvd or paying a high fee to rent it from Apple. As opposed to True Grit ( another John Wayne Film) that has been remade and is widely available (perhaps due to the scrappy androgynous female heroine.)

  218. It’s really funny when someone builds a big chunk of their identity around something that’s supposed to be really hard (and possibly needs an initiation), then someone else turns up and does it like it’s nothing. There was an American gun-nut survivlist who, after much cajoling, finally persuaded his wife and fourteen year old daughter to learn combat shooting. He clearly saw the funny side as he described his and the instructor’s faces turning to shock at how quickly the two turned into killing machines. Their fire and maneuver was perfect. Every target that popped up, they knocked down instantly. Clearly the lesson here is there are no killers more ruthless and efficient than bored, surly women who’d rather be doing something else.

  219. JMG,
    You are so very correct that woke is clearly very class conscious. In saying that class was a minor consideration, somewhat downplayed, I was referring to internally, within wokedom. I think this whistling past the graveyard allows the privileged to pretend to be punching up, rather than the obvious reality that they are punching down, and rather hard, too. All the myriad gaslighting serves this inversion, for it’s not exactly how Marxism is supposed work?🤷‍♂️ 😉.

    As for an essay topic: I’d love to see an exploration of contemporary cultural manifestations of the devouring mother archetype and its effects upon masculinity in our culture.

  220. stephen h. pearson,
    they have not been legalized in Vancouver. Possession of small amounts of hard drugs for personal use has been decriminalized. If you have more than that or are dealing, they will still throw the book at you.

    I’m far from certain this is a good idea, but it certainly has its supporters.

  221. Anonymous,
    I hadn’t thought of the murder-suicide angle, but I am very worried about euthanasia being pushed on people because they’re considered to expensive and not useful.

    It does seem to me like there’s a fear of life and obsession with death in modern society. You see it in terms of biophobia, too. The people wanting to ban animal agriculture, of most pet reptiles, or the PETA people a few years back who took animals from shelters and then immediately killed them, or the Florida employees just recently who killed 32 tame reticulated pythons and a boa constrictor with a nailgun, when the owner didn’t want the snakes dead and the pythons were only illegal because a new law had been shoved into place rapidly and without grandfathering the formerly-legal snakes in, and the boa constrictor was a completely LEGAL species, and nailguns are only authorized for wild snakes that cannot be safely approached and you’re supposed to pith the head afterwards and they didn’t and it took some of the snakes 20 minutes to die).

    There seems to be a school of thought that animals are better off dead than in captivity, including beloved pets. I bet the animals would disagree.

  222. Mary Bennett 233
    The Americans won because they took Vera Cruz, were resupplied by sea and attacked Mexico City by that much shorter route. The northern attack never went that far, though they did defeat the Mexicans in one battle there. I want to say Chula Vista, though that might not be right.

    For the ultimate in woke absurdity, the US navy now has a gay sailor who is a drag queen doing their recruiting. You can see the pictures and story on both, or It is so ludicrous it is funny.

    I have also seen a Wagner group recruiting video aimed a disillusioned American veterans. They are basically saying: you chose what you thought was an honorable career and were let down. We will give you that honorable option for a just cause.

  223. @executedbygandhi #216

    The future belongs to the people who show up for it.

  224. Anon,
    thank you for telling us that. That is a really valuable viewpoint you don’t hear very often, and what you’re saying makes a lot of sense to me. And yeah, I’m worried about the effect of the backlash we’ve started seeing on people I know who are trans or nonbinary. I have friends and family who’d be on the receiving end.

  225. @ Justin #225 – since you mention it, I will say that the current local grapevine is talking about a *very* rural nearby primary level school having to call in the Gardai (the Irish police) yesterday. Reportedly, to safely remove an 11-year-old boy whose violence the teachers did not feel capable of restraining.

    I cannot say more than this, because, to me, it is only hearsay. I was not there, I did not witness.

  226. Robert Mathiesen: Once Aristides the Just showed his friends around Athens. They asked him, “Why is there no statue of you?” He answered, “It’s better to have no statue and have people wonder why not, than to have a statue and have people wonder why.”

    JMG: Romulus and Remus were said to have been raised by a wolf. Later one of them killed the other. That sounds werewolfish. And I have heard (perhaps inaccurately) that in Sparta, sometimes a young man would ‘go werewolf’, and run off to prey upon the helots.

  227. Dear JMG,

    thank you for this great view beyond the research of Marija Gimburtas (et al.). The Indo-European conquest of Europe destroyed the old matriachal order – but I might guess from many small hints – this matriachal order also is not destroyed today, but is active and influential below the surface. (The witch hunt probably also trying to destroy existing remnants, then.)

  228. Justin (#225), May 4 was also a very rough day for me, though nothing at the level you witnessed. The weirdness seemed to peak around noon here (SE PA).

  229. @ anonymous millennial # 61 – I recently got back in touch with an acquaintance from high school. For context, we both graduated in 2001. He teaches math at the juvenile delinquent center in Tulsa. He swears up and down that ‘the kids these days’ especially young men, are a different breed. He says they’re more prone to violence and quicker to lose (self) control than young men were when we were in high school in the late 1990s. While I’ve always been skeptical of the ‘kids these days’ argument, he does deal with a lot more high schoolers than I do. His observation sure echos yours.

  230. @ JMG – tally my vote for de-industrial military history if you please!

    As for this weeks post; maybe I missed the point or something, but Donnie the Orange doesn’t strike me as an avatar for the reassertion of manliness. After all, he dodged the draft four times, claiming bone spurs…

  231. @Mary Bennett, #233

    An answer to that could very well span a blog post, but in short form:

    1. The north of Mexico is very sparsely populated even today. Back in the day, it was equally hard for both armies to keep supply lines. US won by being less bad to it. It also helped that they fielded surgeons with the expedition (which AFAIK the Mexican army did not). In any campaign between armies with equal force, the one that is able to keep more battle hardened veterans (as opposed to levying rookies to fill the gaps) in fighting condition, wins. The legend of the Niños Heroes may serve to illustrate this last point.

    2. US was able to leverage internal struggles within the Mexican elites. The defense effort was undermined from within by the conservative party, which portrayed the issue as “just get the Americans to make a half decent offer for those petty lands and sell them already”. It was not until the American forces had reached the Bajio lands that the war was taken seriously by the country as a whole. The Catholic Church made a point of keeping the civilian populations of the occupied zones from confronting the invaders.

  232. Justin re: #225 –

    For what it’s worth, it wasn’t on the full moon, but Monday night found me unable to sleep properly until at least 2:45 in the morning, after the previous Monday night had seen me awake until past 1:30. There were no obvious physiological or psychological stressors different from any I normally experience but there was some clear and evident psychic disruption going on and my usual interventions did not seem to work. But the only recent reported crimes in my immediate vicinity over the past month are thefts and acts of vandalism, so I’m not sure if it’s something else.

  233. All votes tallied again — many thanks.

    Anonymous, that’s uncomfortably plausible, especially when you factor in the rage at the rest of humanity for not giving them the world they think they deserve!

    Yorkshire, in many cultures women aren’t allowed to kill because they’re too good at it. There’s often a sporting quality in masculine violence, which is typically absent among women.

    Selkirk, exactly. Marxism pretends to be a way for the poor to rebel against the rich; it’s actually a way for a middle class faction to exploit the poor and use them against themselves, and also against the rich.

    Paradoctor, the Romulus and Remus myth is very deeply shaped by the tradition I’m discussing. The Spartan young men did their wolf-time as a matter of course — the tradition there had been reworked to turn the young men into secret police propping up a brutally abusive society.

    MorePain, hmm. I suppose that’s one way to look at it.

    Ben, I didn’t say he was. People on the fringes take their role models where they can find them.

  234. I saw some recent news stories about the US military’s recruiting shortfall and how it’s affecting the armed forces. The US Army is reporting it is currently 10,000 soldiers short and estimates it is likely to 30,000 short by the end of next year. It’s gotten to be bad enough that the Army has had reorganize it’s armored brigades and some other units because it no longer has the personnel to fill them out as previously organized. Not only that, but the Army recently announced that more than 600 helicopter pilots who were eligible to leave the service have been told they will have to serve an extra three years by creatively reinterpreting the terms of their contracts.

    New pilots are being told they will have to serve a lot longer then they would have had to before. That’s going to do all kinds of wonders for morale and recruiting. I think we can expect to see an exodus of pilots and other officers leaving the service just as soon as they can, and potential Aviation Warrant Officer candidates deciding not to enlist in the first place. Shenanigans like this and the Pentagon’s full-throated embrace of the Woke agenda are going to make the Army’s recruiting and personnel shortages much, much worse down the road as word gets around. The Navy and Air Force also report serious recruiting shortfalls, which is already starting to affect combat readiness and unit deployability.

    No doubt many of the people here remember that cringeworthy “Heather has two mommies” recruiting ad that the US Army put out a few years ago, which became an object of derision around the world. Now, the US Navy has decided to go one better…

  235. Hi JMG,
    Perhaps fear and death are as closely related as fear and anger.
    Many years ago I read an interesting book about Nazis, and Hitler in particular, being necrophiliacs. I believe it was by Erich Fromm. Unfortunately the book thief appears to have been very busy in our house and many books I used to own and would now like to have a look at again have gone. It was very interesting and has some application in this discussion.

  236. Thanks to JMG, Scotlyn, Roldy, and Brendhelm for your comments. I really appreciate knowing other people were picking up on the Astral ick.

    Brendhelm, I slept horribly Tuesday night, but I attributed it to being wound up after my ham meeting (@ Justin – thats one of the places I get in some guy time). But maybe it was more than that.

  237. Re: “or at least to make them dependent for survival on the current system”

    I read an article a few days ago that seems relevant to this (and the discussion of transgender ideology). I cannot find it, but an Internet search of ‘how does big Pharma profit from transgender’ will bring up a slew of articles (some a few years old, some more current) about how children who are transitioned are going to be dependent on hormone pills, etc., from big Pharma, potentially for the rest of their lives.

    A wise man once said “follow the money”. Big Pharma is at least one group is stands to profit mightily from this situation.

  238. Thursday 4th May was a bit of an mildly stressful day for me as well, I was working in my new job, which isn’t too difficult but I had trouble with buses, on the way one of them just didn’t turn up, and I caught a different one which left me a longer walk at the other end, which was OK, but I was a bit later than I had planned. This wasn’t a problem for work but just left me feeling slightly unsettled, then on the way back, the bus was delayed again and though wasn’t really causing me a problem just left me feel slightly drained and tired.
    On Friday morning I woke up feeling tired. I wasn’t working today and I went back to sleep for a while a couple of times still not feeling rested when I woke up, and didn’t get up properly until 11am, and struggled to get much done, and felt tense around some of my family when I saw them.

  239. Hi John Michael,

    Yeah, it doesn’t appear to be a grass roots movement driven by the very people who are seeking benefits and/or recognition. Top down movements rarely work well, mostly because the people at the top are too lazy and/or overly expectational (beyond their abilities) to ensure that outcome.

    An interesting facet of this discussion was something I’d learned with construction. It is by far easier to wreck something, than it is to build it – by a very significant margin. Humans are very good at both, but it takes far less skill to demolish.

    For a while now I have also been wondering if there will be blow back. Probably. It strikes me as a very unusual aspect of this episode that the gay and lesbian community have somehow become attached to it. Whenever the subject is discussed in the media, those groups get chucked into the mix by default. I’m always wary whenever mantra’s are repeated. I’ve mentioned this matter to people I know in those communities as I don’t see any benefits for them, and in fact there may even be some serious costs. Dunno, but I advise caution, after all, nobody knows the motivation, and there were some seriously annoyed people in relation to marriage equality.



  240. JMG – thank you for this essay. So much food for thought – as reflected in the comments. FYI – my vote for the 5th Wednesday is ‘toxic masculinity’ (which goes hand-in-hand with ‘toxic femininity’, IMHO). If/when you write about toxic masculinity, will you also expound upon sacred masculinity?

    Re: Military – I know of a bright, young man who wanted to join the military. This was a few years ago. He worked hard to get himself in to good physical shape. He changed his mind when he was told that he had to get the COVID vaccine(s) to enlist. Frankly, I was relieved that he didn’t enlist (and also that he flat-out refused to get the vaccine, but that’s another story for another time and place). In another time and age, I would have encouraged him to join the military, as I feel like it would have been good for him – but these days – no way.

    @ stephen h. pearson (#123) – your comment struck a nerve with me. My dad was career military & hoped to retire after 30 years of service. He retired a few years short of that (late ’60s), because he didn’t like how it had changed, plus there was a very real chance that he would be sent to Viet Nam (non-combat role). I only heard indirectly that he didn’t like what was going on there (he would never have expressed his misgivings to his teenage children). He was a true patriot at heart; and as I understood only years later, he was deeply troubled by U.S.’s tragic involvement in Viet Nam.

  241. I’d also love to see an exploration of contemporary cultural manifestations of the devouring mother archetype and its effects upon masculinity in our culture (Selkirk #239).

    Regarding killing witches: this has also been done in some Native American and African cultures (and still is in some places), so I’m bemused by people who want to attribute it to the evilly evil white Christian patriarchal tradition. Sadly, it seems to be a nasty, widespread human practice; here are two of many examples:

  242. Re: full or near-full moons this past week: I had a couple of rough nights myself. Something’s happening there, and it sure wasn’t Beltane energy.

  243. Platypus, that’s what happens when you don’t pay your soldiers enough for them to live on, deprive them of the benefits they’ve been promised once they leave the service, and push ideologies on them that a great many of them find deeply offensive. The result of such stupidities tends to be military defeat and, unless it’s remedied in a hurry, national collapse.

    Jill, likely so. I don’t recall a book like that among Fromm’s works but I’ll take a look when time permits.

    Random, exactly. “A patient cured is a customer lost” is no longer enough for the medical and pharmaceutical industries; they’ve got to find ways to take healthy people and make them permanent customers, in order to keep their quarterly profits growing.

    Chris, I hope the gay and lesbian communities have the great good sense to distance themselves from this mess. I know some people in those communities are doing so, but maybe not enough.

    PatriciaT, if I can figure out what the phrase “sacred masculinity” means, sure. “Toxic masculinity” is easy enough to interpret; it’s what Hayakawa used to call a “snarl word,” a verbal noise that basically means “I hate you.” But sacred masculinity? Help me here; what do you mean by that?

    Lucie, yes, I’m familiar with witch trials among Native Americans in traditional times and in some African nations today. Did you notice me use any of the buzzwords you trotted out here — “evilly evil white Christian patriarchal tradition”? If not, why did you deploy them?

  244. The Jungle Book forcibly comes to mind. Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves, later returned to humans to become a man. Was Rudyard Kipling an occultist? He must have been.

  245. JMG: “…evilly evil white Christian patriarchal tradition…”: I’m sorry if I gave the impression that I was attributing those words or attitudes to you – that wasn’t my intention at all! I deployed them because I’ve heard people speak of the persecution of witches as if that’s something that’s unique to Christians, rather than something that has happened worldwide. I can see why I might have given that impression, so I’ll comment more carefully in the future.

  246. It’s worth noting that the phrase “toxic masculinity” was originally coined by the Mythopoetic Men’s Movement (MMM). Robert Bly made the point that modernity turns men into either the hyper-masculine (grab ’em by the pu**y) or soy boys. Trying to reconstruct a modern initiation for men was one of things that took place at the MMM meetings.

    The MMM was subsequently targeted by the social constructionists within feminism. They were found guilty of the horrific charge of “essentialism”. It’s not a coincidence that this is the same attack that is currently being waged against “essentialist feminists” in the name of “trans rights”.

    Thus, toxic masculinity didn’t become a snarl word by accident. It’s motivated by the same philosophy that invented TERFs.

  247. JMG – I also vote for your reflections on the devouring mother archetype and its impacts on the masculine for Wednesday #5.

    @Platypus (#254) re: “New pilots are being told they will have to serve a lot longer then they would have had to before.” Same holds true north of the border. Until recently one of the most common ways to “earn your wings” as a commercial pilot in Canada was to be in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) for five years: all training provided and way more than the minimum 1,000 flying hours. Guaranteed. Now anyone wanting to use the RCAF as such a stepping-stone is committed for 10 years. For some strange reason there is no long line of young pilots enlisting – it’s a total mystery! I wrote a fair bit on the virtual freefall of Canada’s military in last week’s open post, so I won’t repeat it here; all I’ll say here is that I wish we had America’s problems!

    Ron M

  248. Re Effect of the full moon:

    Didn’t feel or see any effects overnight last night (May 4th), but today was odd. I saw five wailing ambulances, a fire truck in action, and heard about an incident between two truckers on one of NW Indiana’s major north-south roads that backed up traffic. So sort of a delayed reaction.

  249. Hey, Ken B., I’m sorry you were bullied. I also have been bullied, both in childhood and adulthood. (Ironically, not as a teen.)

    My personal experience of woke has been to see it used as an excuse to dispense with empathy and eagerly attack others for such crimes as outdated wording.

    My experiences thus agree with our host’s theory that many these days feel a lot of repressed rage that is looking for an outlet.

    Woke is not “just basic empathy.” My experience of it has been quite the opposite: It is (can be) bullying.

    Meanwhile, people describing the problem in the way our host has here:

    “Boys, however, face the additional burden that maleness has been pathologized in our schools, so that boys are systematically punished and penalized for the crime of not acting more like girls. Those boys who can’t handle the demands for passivity and obedience imposed on them can count on being drugged into submission if they aren’t simply arrested and put into what has been usefully labeled the school-to-prison pipeline.”

    can make it tough for people like me: Girls who *also* couldn’t handle the same demands for passivity and obedience. Girls who were *also* “systematically punished and penalized for the crime of not acting more”…

    Like girls? More like other girls? Oh gee, you just claimed you’re “not like other girls,” that makes you a “pick me,” attack!

    That’s how woke reacts to our problems.

    (Thank goodness I encountered these problems in the ’80s, not now; if child me was dealing with today’s “trying to articulate the problem makes you a ‘pick me'” I’d probably be suicidal. No idea how to protect my young daughter from stuff like that. All I can think to do is keep a “Free to Be You and Me” attitude and give her lots of love.)

    Meanwhile… Meanwhile, the line above quoted gives the impression of aiming for, or if this advocacy succeeds being likely to achieve, a situation where *boys* are (again) allowed to act…less “like girls,” but girls (still) aren’t.

    But yeah we do have different tendencies, most girls really can put up with these “demands for passivity and obedience” in a way most boys really can’t, so OK, people like me (and I guess you, as a boy who was punished for not acting more “like [other] boys”) are in the minority, so I understand why people do describe the problem the way our host does. It’s concise and seems accurate enough (we are a rounding error). And it is a problem and does need to be articulated.

    (But we exist too…)

    There’s really no place for people like us anymore, is there? Now that liberalism and feminism seem to have been overwhelmed or subsumed by woke.

    Anyway, Ken B., I wish you the best.

  250. >Something’s happening there

    About 3-4 additional banks started to wobble around that time (and still are wobbling). That was after effusive reassurances from all the usual suspects that the system was very very very very stably stable and you should continue believing in it, because they said so.

    Almost like nobody took them at their word.

    I won’t say any more, since this could quickly get offtopic.

  251. On the off chance that this can win the vote, or at least influence a future posting, I propose a post on the philosophy of divination, covering an overview of different views on fate and divination.

    Somewhat off topic:

    I am visiting Kazakhstan now, overall the culture seems very vibrant, full of young families. I am here on a sports training camp, so naturally I meet a lot of athletes, but I would say sports is an important part of the culture.

    There is very little nomadism nowadays, but farmers generally leave their herds of horses and cows free to roam the steppes almost semi-wild.

    I’ve read a bit about the Proto-Indo-European culture before and also read this post as I was here, and tried to search for information on whether something similar existed here, considering the horse was domesticated within this region and different archaeological cultures associated with PIE culture are as well.

    As far as I can see, and of course it is just a very cursory glance, the wolf has a special place in Turco-Mongolian culture too, but not to the extent of having an initiatory wolf-cult.

    For these pastoral peoples, wolves are one of the worst dangers to their herds. They are intelligent and vengeful, capable of killing herd animals for revenge, not even to eat them. At the same time, they are highly respected, wolves are said to be celestial brothers of humans.

    From reading and watching documentaries at least, life as a nomad is harsh enough to make young boys accept responsibility and grow up very quickly.

    Today, although Kazakhstan is largely sedentary, combat sports like boxing, wrestling, and judo, all of which their nomad ancestors would appreciate, likely help to channel male energy.

    I wrestled with many male wrestlers, all treated opponents with respect, didn’t see any ego-driven behaviour like what I’ve seen in some e.g. grappling gyms in more westernised contexts.

    Just my 2c but I feel that while Russia might be an outpost of the sobornost culture-to-come, its heart might be rooted in Central Asia. The first time I read Spengler’s description of the Russian world-view as a plain without limit, its own kind of infinity, I thought of the Central Asian steppes. The structure of the Yurt is likewise, exactly that of his description — a circular structure, radiating out from a centre. Today, the West/Central Asian peoples and nations surrounding and even within the Russian Federation have healthier demographics and culture than the Western, more European Russians.

    From what I observed, Putin’s more “racist” critics actually bemoan him allowing mass migration from Central Asia to Russia, they also usually emphasize ethnic Russians’ closer cultural and genetic ties to Western Europe.

    To Spengler, cultures transcend linguistic and genetic boundaries. He argued that Carthage was a competing Apollonian city to Rome, while Byzantine culture was an exemplar of Magian culture. The first spoke a Semitic language contrasting with Indo-European of its competitors while the latter reversed it.

    Anyway I just wanted to set down some of my thoughts from reading this essay and thinking about it in relation to where I am in now, hope it is okay that it diverged from the core topic, and would welcome any comments on it.


    Such a weird thing that a tribute to Pan is found in the church where early Christians believed that Jesus gave Peter the keys to heaven. And is there a reason this shows up in 2020?

    After doing a bit more research I have found a couple weird things. Pan means “all”. Aegipan(usually this is the original Pan and the one born to Penelope can be interpreted as the story of how Pan came to be known to the Greeks from earlier Egyptian/Babylonian/mesopotamian religion) Aegipan, who is associated with Ea, was either a child of Zeus OR, at least in some sources, Zeus’s brother! And that they were raised together!

    It gets weirder, (and, as I’m not really up on astrology this is where I need help). Having done a simple search about Babylonian astrology/cosmology it turns out that Pan/Ea is actually Aquarius! (This thread was quite easy for me to follow fyi.)

    So, is the appearance of Pan in one of the most sacred places for christians portect the dawn of aquarius?

    I know this is a stretch. Of course I have been wrong about a lot of things!

  253. CR @ 251 stated:

    The defense effort was undermined from within by the conservative party, which portrayed the issue as “just get the Americans to make a half decent offer for those petty lands and sell them already”.

    I think this illustrates why aristocracy is usually the worst form of government. Members of an aristocracy or oligarchy have their primary loyalty to their class, not to their nation. Social class solidarity overrides patriotism for these folks.

  254. I also vote for the 5th Wednesday post to be on the occult dimensions of music.

  255. Justin #225
    “I hope I’m not being too much of a downer here, but didn’t one else have a rough day yesterday (5/4)?”

    JMG #235
    “Justin, I also felt some very rough energies yesterday evening, and had to do some extra protective work.”

    Roldy #248
    “Justin (#225), May 4 was also a very rough day for me, though nothing at the level you witnessed. The weirdness seemed to peak around noon here (SE PA).”

    Brendhelm #252
    “For what it’s worth, it wasn’t on the full moon, but Monday night found me unable to sleep properly until at least 2:45 in the morning, after the previous Monday night had seen me awake until past 1:30. There were no obvious physiological or psychological stressors different from any I normally experience but there was some clear and evident psychic disruption going on and my usual interventions did not seem to work.”

    Mawkernewek #268
    “Thursday 4th May was a bit of an mildly stressful day for me as well, I was working in my new job, which isn’t too difficult but I had trouble with buses, on the way one of them just didn’t turn up, and I caught a different one which left me a longer walk at the other end, which was OK, but I was a bit later than I had planned. This wasn’t a problem for work but just left me feeling slightly unsettled, then on the way back, the bus was delayed again and though wasn’t really causing me a problem just left me feel slightly drained and tired.”

    Patricia Mathews #262
    Re: full or near-full moons this past week: I had a couple of rough nights myself. Something’s happening there, and it sure wasn’t Beltane energy.

    Just another small one to add. Nothing traumatic or extreme, just very low level but persistent ‘stuff’:

    On Weds 3rd Thurs 4th I was putting replacement fruit cage netting up; a job that can be a bit of a faff but not unduly so. Not this time, it was like being in some sort of slow motion weird space where if something could delay things it did – like place the netting and the other end would fall off, go fix that and something else would fall off. Sewing the sheets together the wind would cause the line to snag on raspberry canes, or pull it through and it would repeatedly knot up. Drop the needle and bend over to pick it up and ties would fall out of my pocket, pick those up and find the netting had snaggled. Turn around to the old netting and find a wren had got stuck in it and had to be released, turn around and the ladder blew over.

    The next day it was similar but with packets falling of step ladders and all contents spilling out onto grass, threads breaking and general low level stuff. It just seemed never ending.
    Something so mundane that would usually take 3 or 4 hours ended up spanning two days and seeming like weeks!

    Then it seemed like a dam broke.

    Thursday night I stumbled into a rabbit hole that mentioned Rudolph Steiner:
    “Thus, one of the most interesting characteristics of liquid crystalline water is that it effectively functions as an energy source living systems can utilize.”

    Which opened out into a warren:
    Eastern Wisdom of the Etheric Heart
    “The heart becomes the ear of the cosmos, the sense organ of the gods that listens to the strivings of humans.”

    …and from there, on Friday had an unexpected and fascinating day thinking and practicing.
    It feels like something had shifted/changed, thought it was just me but with all the other comments I am now not so sure – effects still ongoing today (Sat).

  256. In response to Helix #26

    Yeah, I had the fear of going off the high board growing up too. I was at an all girls school which was big on swimming and would have been about 11 at the time, small and skinny. We were getting ready for the annual gala and a group of older girls were lined up to take it in turns, not diving but jumping off the high board whilst twirling their arms, under the supervision of the headmistress, a fierce middle-aged woman. One of the girls lost her nerve and couldn’t jump so, on impulse, I walked up and said ‘I can do that’ and the headmistress said ‘Go on then’ and I climbed the ladder to the top and then, at her signal, jumped. The board was 14′ high and the pool was 14′ deep. I was terrified. After surfacing, I swam to the side, got out and went off to get changed. The strange thing was that there was no comment on my attempt and no one ever mentioned it, but I never forgot that fear and doing it anyway. Even now, 50 years later, the memory is still vivid and I do feel it was a transformative experience. I’m still proud of that little girl.

  257. Catriona,

    Hmm! My son will be turning 13 shortly and has also found a home in BJJ, for about 5 years now. Each belt he earns seems to me like a mini-initiation of its own, and shows him that “initiation” simply means “to begin.” Again and again. One of his black belt professors has a penchant for wandering into the mountains nearby and sleeping in the open overnight – to my mind a great elder role model. Instead of snowboarding (which his father tried back in the day, with admittedly limited success), he prefers to fight imaginary enemies with a range of weapons he’s collected or made for himself over the years; and instead of a model school he’s been home/self-schooled a la Ivan Illich. Granted, neither of those is quite as pack-building…but either way, I can’t imagine sending either of my children through the destructive molding processes of the public school system (that I’m still working through at 50). They are both wonderful and inspiring humans, all on their own.

    Best wishes to you and yours.

  258. “it’s what Hayakawa used to call a “snarl word,” a verbal noise that basically means “I hate you.”

    You mean Fred Hayakawa? The owner of the clothing store in Toledo? I hear they’ve been in business since about 5 minutes after Eve bit the apple.

    Great post, BTW. Feels like an updated section in the Werewolves chapter of “Monsters.”

  259. @ Anonymous #236

    This could also be called breeding your own genes out of existence, to be replaced in the future by the descendants of the vast swaths of humanity who don’t care about those tomfool ideas.

    So this mass suicide of the middle-class is still doomed to failure!

  260. re: people turning mentally into animals, I just re-read the story of King of Babylonia Nebuchanezzar’s 7 years in the wild ‘eating grass like an ox’ (Daniel 4). This couldn’t have been an initiation-into-adulthood ritual since he’d been on the throne for a while, and Daniel’s reaction to the king’s foresight dream included the apology that he wished the dream referred to Nubuchanezzar’s enemies rather than him, so this wasn’t an expected, planned thing that everyone went through.

    But this definitely seems similar thematically, even if it involves a prey animal rather than a predator.

  261. In your reply to Patricia T in comment 263 with regard to “snarl words”.With respect, I believe that the same could be said of “woke”,”wokedom”, “Wokerati” etc ad nauseum. I am in Britain so maybe our “wokesters” are less in your face but the vehemence of these descriptors seems to me to be very snarly.

  262. I would just like to say to everyone the comments this week are especially good. Thanks to everyone.

    My vote for the fifth Wednesday post is this same one except for the female situation.

  263. Another one of Dmitri Orlov’s signs that an empire has reached it’s final stage of collapse ( in addition to soldiers having to find their own way home from far flung bases) is the inability to maintain the large domestic incarceration complex, so most prisons are emptied out and the inmates end up on the streets. This is a very disturbing wrinkle to the wolf-man narrative as modern US prisons act as a kind of wilderness where men’s most violent and aggressive tendencies are amplified. This does not create wolf-men in the way we would like, with aggression tempered by a sense of morality and duty, ( the Chuck Norris Archetype).
    Combine hundreds of thousands of violent convicts with the decline in numbers and effectiveness of the military and police and you have a recipe for the rapid spread of domestic war bands. We won’t need to see pirates landing on the beaches of California to see large portions of the fallen empire come under the control of Warlords. In the most drastic stages of collapse we may not get the wolf-men we want but the wolf-men we fear.

  264. Way up in an early thread, you said “I’ve long since lost track of the number of self-proclaimed radical feminist women I know who are BDSM bottoms who wear dog collars and call some guy “master.” I knew somebody (slightly – folksinger Leslie Fish) who worked as a dominatrix, and she said the same thing about men with a lot of worldly power. (Stifling my giggles now.)

    Can’t wait for the other Ariel Moravec stories! As to cozy mysteries, Village resident Patricia (Pat) Carrico wrote a riotously funny play performed here and elsewhere, a classic British Country House mystery in which the Golden Girls are invited guests, with more plot twists than a a mountain road. Even with total amateurs as some of her actors, it was superb; I laughed my head off.

  265. Re May 4: although it was a beautiful day here, I felt weighed down by some kind of odd sluggishness, mental and energetic. While I was outside planting tomato and pepper seedlings, it felt as if the air was extra-thick, resisting me as I moved around. On the other hand, yesterday (the 5th) I felt fine, my usual self, and today (the 6th) is good as well.

  266. Once again, all votes have been tallied. Thank you all.

    Ecosophian, I don’t know how deeply Kipling was into occultism; I know he at least dabbled in spiritualism and believed in reincarnation. You’re right, though, that the Mowgli stories are a great example of the theme we’ve been discussing.

    Lucie, your point was a reasonable one; it’s just that very often people like to put words in my mouth, and so I tend to respond sharply to anything that looks too much like that.

    Simon, no surprises there. Thanks for the background!

    Alvin, fascinating. It would not startle me at all if the rise of the future Russian great civilization takes place as part of a general renewal and expansion of central Asian cultures.

    Orion, it’s certainly an intriguing omen.

    Grover, ha! No, alas, it was Dr. S.I. Hayakawa. A clothier adept in general semantics would be quite an experience. 😉

    Pygmycory, that’s a fascinating point and one I hadn’t thought of. Hmm! I’ll have to reflect on that.

    Nobodyspecial, please go read some of the torrent of over-the-top rape and death threats leveled by British wokesters at J.K. Rowling, and then tell me that your local wokesters are less in your face than ours. That said, you’re right that “woke” has turned into a snarl word; I’d welcome a different term, but it does help communication to have a convenient label for the ideology and its proponents.

    Clay, there’s that!

    Patricia M, I didn’t know Fish worked in that industry. Hmm!

  267. Until fairly modern times women in western society had almost no rights, couldn’t vote, were the property of their fathers until they were given to their husbands; the latter may still be included in the traditional christian wedding ceremony.
    my mother went to a fancy ivy league women’s college in the 1920s, when their main purpose was to make sure the women in question were intelligent and cultured enough to be wives, mothers, hostesses of the upper and upper middle classes. I think one doctor came out of my mother’s graduating class. She always wished she were a man, not for any gender reasons, but just for the much greater freedom.
    When I was a boy in the 1940s and 50s, we had much more freedom and opportunity. There were lots of things girls weren’t meant to do ” because they were girls”, though that was slowly starting to break down. Still doctors were men, nurses women, executives men, secretaries women. The 60s and 70s made further inroads in male exclusivity. For instance though, when i started skydiving in the 60s, very few women did it, likewise surfing.
    In the 80s, both before and after my daughter’s birth, i did workshops with Robert Bly, worked with native elders, etc, much of it trying to reconcile my experience of what I considered” toxic’ macho masculinity from my experiences in Vietnam and other experiences.At the time some women, though certainly not all, thought Robert Bly’s work especially to be just more machismo.
    After my daughter’s birth in the 80s, and through my involvement in outdoor education in the 80s, 90s and early 00s, much of my focus was on seeing that she and other girls got equal access to whatever adventurous things they wanted to do. There was never any thought of depriving boys of the same right, and the ones I worked with didn’t seem to feel it as such.
    I have been less involved with youth since the 00s, and the ones I have been with have been pretty much selected by their outdoor interests, so I haven’ been able to observe the transition since then as closely, though there certainly does seem to have been one. I would include the ubiquity of cell phones and the loss of meaningful work amongst the reasons.
    There is a lot I am missing in this, but I have to go somewhere now, so will just post it as is and think about some more.

  268. @Ben

    I’m uncomfortable with the “kids these days” position, too. But there is something going on.

    I’ll give an example. Recently I defended a juvenile who was charged with trying to kill his cousin. He did not do it, but his general demeanor and attitude (to say nothing of his social media presence) did not, uh, aid his defense. His mother was, to say the least, overindulgent and his school teachers were not much better. Of course, also, he had no father or male role model other than his brother who was doing 15 in the Department of Corrections.

    I got the case thrown out, but it took a few months. Meanwhile, he was incarcerated in Juvenile Detention Center which combines all the worst aspects of middle school and jail. When it was all over, what concerned me was that he could not perceive that, even if he did not do this particular thing, this situation was the consequence of a series of decisions he had made. And, lest he change his ways, it was a matter of time before he got locked up again and that time there were going to be no do-overs or mulligans. It was completely lost on him.

  269. My vote is for the current state of masculinity.

    –Lunar Apprentice

  270. John–

    I’ll put my official vote in for the fifth Wed topic realizing that other topics are way ahead. I’m in the process of reading _The Refiner’s Fire_, which is truly fascinating, and I wonder if you’d do a post on the Book of Mormon from an occult/hermetic perspective, perhaps in a future post if not this fifth Wed.

  271. This discussion of rites of initiation and explorations of sexuality never
    addressed the problem I believe troubled my teenage son. After initiation, if any, what is there? What is the new status of manhood or womanhood that follows initiation — if any? I loved to learn as a child, teenager, and young adult … although a few years of college cured me. I was never able to cultivate the same passion for learning in my children. My son acquired a powerful distaste for reading before he left grade school. My daughter maintained some interest in reading through high school — but her interests ranged far from reading that I believe might have furthered her formal education. She read neither history, nor academically blessed fiction or philosophy … classics. After their departure from high school both my children had had all their intellectual curiosity thoroughly strangled. I could
    not offer any suggestions for what they might profitably study in college for a
    career. The old answer that one might best pursue their passion held little
    promise after their passions had been so well destroyed. My daughter expressed passing interest in film studies soon eclipsed by a passing interest in studies in art. My son showed his distaste for school and studies through the lack of reward in his unhappy senior year. He left high school hating reading and lacking interest in anything other than playing on-line video games. As the costs of college grew beyond all my planning, I could not in good conscience support either of my children in attending college. Neither crass job-training nor support for a passionate interest tempted to overcome my restraint — and I forbid both of them to take out student loans … although they could have anyway.I believe the problems of our Youth, male or female, are not problems arising from a lack of initiation rites — however anthropologically pleasant many seem to find such suggestions. I believe the problem is that initiation rites or none — there is nothing to be initiated into. Clearly defined sex roles are gone, no livelihood or purpose awaits the graduated initiate, and worse, what awaits is more of the same boredom and pointlessness ingrained in high school, and the lower grades. My
    children can look forward to a life of long hours working at boring and
    meaningless jobs for low pay [if they are lucky] and an early retirement to
    unemployment long long before the u.s. government social security retirement age.

    I am not pleased to offer such unhappy futures to my children … but wait! There is more! Humankind lives in an age of polycrisis — exhaustion of natural resource, fossil fuels, and Climate Chaos and for u.s.-ians the impending collapse of the u.s. Empire — I skipped some crises but these three+ should suffice.

    ==> I would like to express a negative vote for the next topic. I do not see much mystery regarding “Chinese resilience” which appears to be the most often proposed topic for a future post. Basic industrial production is the basis of resilience.

    The u.s. shipped its physical capital and transferred its industrial expertise to the Chinese. The u.s. even allowed China to absorb basic industries like the production of rare earth metals and many drug precursors like vitamin C, among a few. What sort of resilience might you expect from a country without basic industry or basic production of key resources?

  272. OT: Speaking of Ariel Moravec – I noticed her mother’s name was Carmen Moravec-Jones. Her mother’s maiden name was Carmen Jones?!?!? My first thought was, “was that on purpose?” Then I thought, “JMG, you’re not a movie fan, and this was well before your time, but…”

    “Carmen Jones” (1954) was one of the “Grand Opera in a modern setting in English” shows that worked very well indeed. Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte, Pearl Bailey, among the famous actors. I remember having enjoyed it very much. I don’t know how many elderly musical theater buffs are among your readership, though. (Oh, and readers have probably caught the continuity error at the very end, when Olive’s husband is called Earl, rather than Glen.) OK: we now return you to your regular programming….and will preorder Book #2 as soon as it’s available.

  273. Leslie Fish worked a whole lot of odd jobs to put food on the table in her day. I found this out when she was a special guest at Bubonicon, Albuquerque’s book-oriented s/f convention – and the Con Chair, who detested filk, wasn’t happy, but since she’d been nominated for a work of fiction she wrote (I can’t rememebr which one right now), she was given an ordinary hotel room in which to hold court rather than one of the regular meeting rooms. The venue being that private, we learned a lot that evening!

  274. Orion,

    If you are still interested in the June 28th date, it is in the decan ruled by the 2 of Cups and by Venus. Austin Coppock has written a book about the decans called “36 Faces” that you might find interesting.

  275. Pygmycory, sure, the Red Green show got its digs at men in – but humor is a great way to correct bad behavior without violence, and I’m sorry that women cannot be made fun of in today’s culture, which is to the detriment of many women.

  276. Hi John Michael,

    Mate, I’ve got no dog in that fight. However, that does not imply that I don’t care for my friends, and have so provided that bit of speculative advice and/or insight. What they do with the warning is really up to them. But the media is lumping all of the various groups in the same basket as if they have all the same goals and aspirations. It stinks. For example, why would lesbians want to share the previously female toilets with men? And what mother would happily send their thirteen year old daughter into a ‘gender neutral toilet with urinal’? There’s a lot of trouble to unpack there.

    Had to laugh about people talking seriously about ‘toxic masculinity’, whatever the heck that means. Far out. It’s a nice label, I guess, and perhaps another sad attempt at creating an ‘other’. People spouting such nonsense had never spent much time with my mother who was an angry, sometimes violent, woman, who loved a drink.

    Training hard at martial arts as a teenager wasn’t just undertaken to fend off the worst excesses of my peers. About the age of around fifteen she was acting a bit strange and suddenly took a swing at my head, out of the blue. I was sitting at the kitchen table doing homework. Unwise to throw a roundhouse, because there is plenty of time to respond. I gave her a response in the only language she understood, and firmly instructed never to try such a thing ever again. What was even sadder about the incident was that she said that she finally respected me and that I was now a man. Sure, I left home as early as possible and never looked back. Some people are bad apples.

    Candidly, I’m not into the idea of ‘toxic masculinity’ as a real thing, and as you correctly point out, it also sounds to me like the words ‘I hate you’.



  277. @Jeremy Grimm,
    when I cast a vote for Chinese resilience, I’m not talking about the last few decades, I’m talking about the approx. 5000 span of Chinese history, and that while they’ve had a few dark ages and many more minor bad times, the dark ages were relatively mild and they’ve never had the sort of severe cultural discontinuities that the mediterranean world saw in the Bronze Age Collapse or europe in the post-roman Dark Ages. The question is why so much survives from very early on in China culturally vs. the west over the same period. That’s what I’m hoping to hear about anyway.

  278. @Justin,
    fair enough. Some women really do have no sense of humor. Being able to laugh at oneself is generally healthy.

  279. Jeremy Grimm, we are asking for an essay about how Chinese culture survived crises in the past, long before anybody had industry. Compare China in 650 CE with Europe, for examples.

  280. Once again, I’ve tallied all the votes. Thank you all!

    Stephen, that account of the status of women is an oversimplification. Women could vote in some of the American colonies, and in several states thereafter until the 1820s; here’s a timeline covering when women lost the vote in the early United States. In the same way, women’s capacity to own property and be legally independent of men varied quite a bit over the years. The Victorian suppression of women’s rights that finished unraveling when you and I were young was an extreme swing to one end of a complex spectrum, which was more or less balanced by an equally extreme swing to the other end more recently. The past was much more nuanced than today’s narratives make it look!

    Jeremy, the discussion in this post wasn’t intended to cover every possible issue that can affect a young man, you know. As for negative votes, I don’t count those. If you want to vote for something in particular, that’s fine, but nobody gets a veto here — except, of course, for me. 😉

    Patricia M, that was indeed before my time. I didn’t want to name Ariel’s mother Karen, since that’s such a stereotype these days, but I needed a name for her that caught the same sort of theatricality; Carmen, with its operatic references, seemed right.

    Chris, I occasionally field rants from people who dislike my fiction because many of my characters have lousy mothers. I’m sorry to say that it’s because so many people I know had lousy mothers. If the “toxic vs. sacred masculinity” wins out, trust me, the snarl word dimension of the phrase will be discussed — and I do wish the reader who brought up “sacred masculinity” would get back to me and tell me what on Earth she means by it.

  281. This is kind of like starting to tell a joke and forgetting the punch line.I was planning to continue from my comment 287 and try to make sense of the current disempowerment of boys, but realized that I was too far out of the loop of working with youth to offer any intelligent observation on it. All of my daughter’s peers and the kids I worked with and have kept up with seem to be doing as well as they can in today’s world of diminished opportunity faced with student debt, ruinous mortgages, etc. Of those that have children, the children are still small. The one common saving grace seems to be that almost all of the ones I have kept up with have strong supportive families and are providing the same to their own children. The one exception I can think of is an incredibly strong young woman, whose parents loved her but were too much of a mess to be of much support. She did have a lot of other adults who loved and supported her though.
    If anything, the presence of loving supportive adults in their lives seems to be the factor that makes the most difference in a child’s empowerment. Certainly for a boy having a positive male role model is hugely important, or a woman for a girl. Can be done without it, but you are betting against the house.

  282. @Bryanlallen,
    You taught yourself to hang glide? As a former hang glider pilot, I am duly impressed! I went through a school in Japan, which is the only practical way to do it in Japan due to lack of suitable space. Not too costly, and I learned a lot by watching others’ mistakes, so though they seemed reluctant to let ladies advance, it was worthwhile. I finally tried aping one of the young men newly joining and did advance, though not as fast as he.

    @JMG, I’ll add my vote for Chinese resilience.

  283. JMG
    Thank you for that link. i did not know about the earlier women’s suffrage in parts of the US.

  284. Clay Dennis,

    Thankfully, blessedly, many states in the U.S. are ratcheting down their prison budgets by legalizing marijuana, freeing many thousands of people incarcerated for such silly things as smoking a doobie, in the process. Seems like a double-win to me: instead of spending money on prisoners, said states are now raking in tax money on legal sales. Not here in Georgia, of course; we’re going long on nuclear and EVs…gods help us.

  285. Re the term ‘Woke’

    It may have turned into a snarl word but it was originally a self-descriptive label adopted enthusiastically within the culture itself. The term seemed to be used to indicate that people in the ‘Woke’ movement were more ‘awake’ (as in enlightened / aware of the plight of the descriminated against) than other people. If the actions and ideology of the movement has turned its self-name into a snarl word, well that kind of says something to my mind. In the same way that ‘hipster’ was a sub-culture that was initially embraced (including the name) but came to mean something fairly derogatory outside hipster social groups because of the actions and ideology of the typical hipster.

  286. I didn’t suggest anything this time but if I mentioned the sacred masculine I would also accept the idea of the sacred feminine. I have heard much of the latter but not the former. My take on this is that very generally speaking women have been the civilizers. That is, they create and maintain home and neighbourhood and society. Men tend to be the technologists. Somehow building and maintaining the “stuff “of life is what they do. Both important roles. And yes I do know that women and men cross over with their interests and talents
    Why suddenly: “toxic masculinity” but not also “toxic femininity”? They do both exist. Nyone who believes that men are all rough ugliness and women are all gentle kindness ought to get out more. I would like to see those ideas developed differently and perhaps in more depth than I am capable of doing.

  287. SLClaire,

    Same here. The 4th was a nice day, very clement, but I just couldn’t settle into my normal work rhythm. I didn’t have anything particular on my mind, but it was almost like I was never there mentally, even though I had just run through a very complex and busy day. Strange.

  288. Re: the destructive energy of the full moon, over the past couple of days I felt a lot of negative energy as some people here have described. Depressive, and weird dreams at night. I didn’t pay much attention to the timing of this, just stifled it and performed my prayers. I could not think of any possible reason for feeling like that. News of Gonzalo Lira’s arrest and the Daily Beast’s role in that came just after that and would not have been the cause (though it is really depressing). (OT: One Russian site said that at one time he had remarked that his chain smoking was to ameliorate symptoms, and I wonder if he blogged so vigorously during his house arrest is because he knew his time was limited.) But all the weird stuff going on in the past few days in Ukraine in particular, with the rogue drone over Kiev and Prigozhin’s prima donna outburst, one has to wonder about malign influences. Could it be that a lot of rage is being directed at that part of the world now?
    I’ll do me an Oh-harae kotoba sojo (Great Words of Purification recital) tonight.

  289. Hi John Michael,

    Which is to say that you are writing about the reality for plenty of folks, and the ranters don’t like it. Too bad, so sad for them. 🙂 It happens, and the ranting folks need to get over it. I washed my hands of those bad eggs a long time ago. And at that time had to get some help to explore and comprehend the trauma.

    Thank you for the explanation, and I understand your argument. Mate, I don’t even know what either term means. I guess we’ll find out sooner or later.



  290. Another thought-provoking essay! It’s clearly not going to win at this point, but I’d be interested in an essay on Neptune and Uranus as proposed early in the comment cycle.

    Slightly off topic, there was a mention of Erich Fromm and society taking a necrophiliac orientation above. This idea was discussed on a podcast I listened to recently, and a trip to my local bookstore yesterday led to my acquisition of his book “The Heart of Man”. One chapter is titled the Love of Death and the Love of Life, which covers that theme. It was an interesting read, although some of the psychoanalytical ideas he references are obviously pretty dated.

  291. Your article reminds me of a phenomenon becoming more pronounced in recent years. Back in 2020 you could still find articles in hunting magazines lamenting the steep decline in the number of hunters in America. The fear was that the activity had turned into an old white guy hobby that would die out in another decade or two. That is no longer true. At this point the industry is going through a renaissance. Now to be fair the new hunters include a great many women, far more than the number that historically used to hunt. Even with this disclaimer, it seems that more and more men are finding it necessary to connect with their primal roots. I cannot help but wonder if the “No Testosterone Allowed” sign hanging over mainstream culture in television, movies, video games, comics, universities, corporations, and now even the military is forcing men to look for outlooks, and what could satisfy this more directly than the original, evolutionary basis of the gender distinction itself. Presumably what we now call gender probably evolved as men went hunting while women, literally weighed down by pregnancy, stayed behind and dealt with domestic pursuits. I’m sure supply chain issues have also contributed to this development, but it seems that a new masculinity might be forming.

    If you want a really good example of this check out They are actually taking groups of man after substantial mediation, extended periods of restraint from sexual activity, and various Native American spiritual practices, on an actual rite of passage hunt designed to transform men.

    On a tangential note, but also one I think you’ll find interesting, hunting culture itself is starting to change. Guys like Daniel Vitalis are transforming hunting from a sport into a hunter gatherer based lifestyle. You probably have never heard of him but he has a TV show called Wild Fed and has run a couple different successful podcasts. Whereas the old hunting culture was more or less an extension of libertarian rural gun culture, a lot of more left leaning but still anti woke types are getting into it now. These new guys see what they do as an attempt to reconnect with our biological roots and are attempting to expand the number of species they eat by as much as possible.

    All these things are forging a new path to manhood very much in line with your ecosophian commitments. Check it out if you get the chance.

  292. Oh, and as for a vote for an article goes… Please at some point talk about Manly P. Hall’s book on the secret destiny of America. His ideas seem to be unraveling right now and he would be an interesting thinker to examine, given everything else that is going on.

  293. “Not here in Georgia, of course; we’re going long on nuclear and EVs…gods help us.”

    Georgia and the rest of the southeast have a problem. If you look at a wind power potential map you find they have little wind. What they do get comes as storms strong enough to shred a wind turbine.

    Solar is better, but heavy clouds during much of the day limit that too.

    Hydropower is already developed. What might still be available there will be on small streams, so costly on a per unit basis.

    There is no geothermal potential there, it’s old cold rock. From the standpoint of energy supplies the southeast is between a rock and a hard place. They can burn the forests they have to clear to install the solar panels, but then what?

    At least they won’t freeze. My original state of Wisconsin is in much the same condition, with a little more wind, shorter winter days, and lethally cold weather.

  294. As before, all votes have been tallied. Thank you all!

    Stephen, it can certainly be done, but not without serious cost. One of the things I had to deal with in adulthood was the lack of that sort of adult support; I came out more or less okay, but there are issues I have as a result that probably won’t ever go away.

    Tamhob, that’s one of the reasons I still use “woke,” just as I used “politically correct” before it — another label that was invented by the people who later tried to disown it. Once you choose a name, guess what, it’s yours… 😉

    JillN, fair enough.

    Collapsenik, thanks for this.

    Chris, I’ve always figured that I’m doing it right when I get denounced with equal fury by both ends of the political spectrum, so it’s helpful when I get shrieked at!

    Ari, interesting. If I have time anytime soon to read some Fromm, I’ll check it out.

    Stephen, excellent! This is very good to hear.

  295. This is NOT a vote.

    But I do want to think a bit into the twin topics of masculinity and femininity which, in all their ramifications, and nuances, are clearly supercharged somehow. And this post, with its mention of wolf-based initiation rituals has tapped into that.

    I should say that my own experience of gender and sex is analogous to theory and practice. Which is to say that I was born a girl – a female sexed human. And as I grew up, my *practice* was to be *me* as well as I could, and as hard as I dared. But now and again I might run into someone whose thinking about femininity was theoretical, and they would present me with a theory of why I was failing to be a “proper” girl, and later, a “proper” woman. Their theory generally contained various ideals which they thought I should aspire to, and which I might achieve, but would likely fail to.

    Eventually (and I do think my personal experience of feminism during the 80’s helped), I figured that I would go with the practical view. Which went like this. I am a woman. Therefore whatever I do, think, or say, for good or for ill, IS a womanly thing to do, think or say, by definition. Because it is me, a woman, doing it. And all the theories about this can go hang.

    Still, not everyone finds it easy to let the theories go hang. And perhaps, for good or for ill, the theories of what we *should* aspire to be, or of what we are inexorably *fated* to be, or are somehow *failing* to be, are worthy of talking about.

    Still, for my own 2c, it is not the theories of masculinity or femininity that are troubling us so much as an increasing difficulty in connecting to one another in life-enhancing and joy-enhancing ways.

    So I understand why the topic has struck a chord, and elicited many votes, just as it did in a previous open post, where you expressed a dread that the topic might win.

    Therefore, this is not a VOTE. Take it as you will. 🙂

  296. About the bad vibes around the full moon: last night I found myself waking up an hour after going to bed, feeling itchy all over. I kicked off my bed socks in the dark, and was surprised to see sparks of static electricity like lightning coming off them. Static electricity in the air?

  297. Stephen,
    I read somewhere that a child needs only one strong adult to stand up for them to develop into a rounded? happy? fulfilled? adult. We can all be that person for someone.

  298. Speaking of Snarl Words. I have noticed in the news. a couple of instances of transgender activists just giving up on words to express their displeasure ( or outrage, or triggering or what have you) in public meetings. Instead they have taken to just letting out a long loud primal screams in place of talking or yelling. Do you know what to make of this?

  299. Siliconguy,

    You’re absolutely right. No wind potential here, except during extreme weather – wouldn’t be my choice. In fact there is an electrical wiring factory here that put a 100′ high wind turbine in their parking lot over a decade ago, and in all that time, I’ve never once seen it spinning…

    Solar I have lived with here, for 7 years, and intend to do it again soon, but you really have to get ahold of your priorities there. We store a LOT of meat and garden veggies in our chest freezer, and it would be devastating to lose it. But if that’s the primary focus, solar is no problem here. And we get 10+ hours of direct sunlight on our house and garden.

    Microhydro could be a nice little solo or group venture here in the mountains. My 13 y.o. son is actually getting his bearings on how that works in his free time. But you’re right again, the big paydays have all been cashed in already. There’s a big dam to the SW of us in our county, but that power gets sold to the Atlanta market at a premium “green” rate. Wonder just how much is lost in transmission over 80 miles?? Maybe we could redirect that to our little town one day.

    But whatever our predicament, going long on nukes and EVs is a fool’s errand…


  300. re: 5/4 sluggishness

    I see now that I should have just added my comment to a long list of others, instead of directly replying to SLClaire! How odd. Someone said something to the effect of it feeling like moving through thick, sticky air, or some sort of gel – just not able to get up to normal speed.

    That’s what it felt like to me too.

  301. @Darkest Yorkshire – initiates into the Yoruban Abakuá of Cuba are said to be able to turn into leopards.

  302. After watching Charles coronation yesterday, I’m still stunned by the symbolism through out the entire ceremony. Have you done a post on this somewhere or do you have recommended reading on it? The coverage was so nice – probably better than being there in person.

  303. Hi JMG, Fromm has some ideas that seem relevant to our current times and some of the topics you’ve written about, though I haven’t had the chance to read a whole lot of his work yet. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on him, though I know you’ve mentioned you have quite a stack of reading material already!

    A little more broadly, people interested in sacred masculinity and failure to initiate young men in our culture may be interested in Robert Moore/Douglas Gillette’s “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover”, which explores mature masculine archetypes. On the more toxic end of things, I’ve been looking into Vox Day’s socio-sexual hierarchy, which I think is an interesting if flawed way of looking at male interactions.

  304. Scotlyn, thanks for this. If the masculinity topic wins the vote this time around, one of the things I want to talk about is the dramatic shift between the liberal attitude when I was young — basically, that there are many different ways to be male or female — to the attitude that seems to be around on the left these days, which appears to be that any child who doesn’t conform to some fairly narrow stereotype relating to their biological sex needs to be turned into the other sex through drugs and surgery. It’s a remarkably odd shift.

    Clay, that’s really weird. From an occult standpoint that suggests a descent to prehuman levels of consciousness.

    Denis, no, though I’ve been asked to write an article for an alternative magazine on the subject. I’ll post something when that’s been accepted.

    Ari, well, we’ll see what I have time to get to!

  305. Fascinating essay. Will Rogers used to say that all he knows is what he reads in the papers. He was joking. It was part of his act.

    I don’t know as I wasn’t alive back then, so I wonder if politicians and newspapers that served elites of the age served up as much bushwah as they do now.

    I give mainstream media roughly zero credence. So, really, all I know is what I see and hear and what other people tell me.

    So I hear about the relentless denigration fire-hosed at boys and men nowadays by people that purport to be our thought leaders. Not only that but also other aspects of ‘progressive’ ideology.

    And I see and hear about streams of people crossing borders legally and otherwise, not only into the US but other western countries, and I wonder how ‘progressive’ pieties fly with those folk.

    I’ve worked with a fair number of Muslims and others from south Asian and east Asian realms and I have some relatives by marriage from South America. And, based on what I’ve heard in conversation, I would say that ‘progressive’ ideologies fly more or less like lead balloons. That is, they don’t. Their concerns are mostly more prosaic in nature, like making a good income and raising and educating kids in places where you don’t have to dodge bullets. Oh, and their own religions and customs.

    Biological and physical reality won’t long abide nonsense from people at the apex with their heads in the clouds. They will be replaced by people with their feet on the ground. That’s the hopeful version. The less hopeful and maybe more probable is, as you say JMG, that the replacements will be warlords leading bands of ruthless cut-throats, guys with ambition who want to make a mark on the world. Like Augustus and Leonidas, they want their names remembered.

    Higher-ups want Lower-downs replaced by docile and undemanding workers. This replacement has been going on for some time through offshoring industries and onshoring people. What Higher-ups fail to see is that the Higher-ups will also be replaced. It’s happening as we speak, not only at home but in part by hard-faced fellas in foreign capitols. And some of the Higher-ups sense their peril, pervasive spying by the surveillance state just one manifestation.

    We know who the torch will be passed to because they’re among us now. We can see that with our own eyes. Some of Western Civ will survive for a while. Much won’t. Newcomers aren’t going to settle for lives of lettuce-picking and chicken-plucking and gig work and precarious employment baloney. They will aspire to power. And, if history is any guide, they will get it.

  306. JMG – Since Justin P. Moore brought it up, I’ll agree that ham radio is, pretty much, a “boys’ club”, and it’s one that has three levels of legal initiation: Technician, General, and Extra. The use of Morse Code is no longer mandatory, and that was too high a bar for me to clear, but once I got my legal initiation (FCC license), I went on to prove my development with a radio telegraphy initiation (ARRL certificate). Ham radio doesn’t necessarily require physical hardship, but the public service events that I’ve supported have from time to time found me shivering with cold, and sometimes wet. Hams sometimes risk life and limb to install antennas, and sometimes risk other hazards. And, for what? Mostly, I think, just for the exercise of Will.

    Re: military service. I have never served in the military, but I cross paths with active-duty and retired military personnel more than once a week, on average, and have found them to be admirable people (male and female). My 35-year old son remarked that the military veterans he meets as co-workers seem more mature than he is, despite being perhaps a decade younger! I understand, as a bystander, that military service can put a member through Hell, and many come home with visible and invisible injuries, if they come home at all. With a wider lens, though, I think that it improves most of them. According to the Discord Papers, as reported in the Washington Post, the position of Wagner volunteers has been tending toward the hellish, put into positions where they can either attack well-defended Ukrainian positions and die, or attempt to retreat and be executed by their own. I doubt that these stories are part of the “be a real man” recruiting campaign.

  307. Random Acts of Karma (#257) I recently saw an excellent meme. It showed a bewildered looking man, with the caption “I tried Following the Science, but it just kept leading me back to the Money!” There’s way too much truth to that idea!

  308. JMG – “Sacred masculinity”? To me, it means keeping the grass cut around the church, even (especially) if it means routine maintenance on the machinery! It means carrying, erecting, and climbing tall ladders to replace the light bulbs near the ceiling, which help create the visual effects of a sacred space. It means getting out the brazing torch when somebody breaks a steel table leg while setting up the potluck supper, and gluing & screwing the furniture back together when the youth group gets a little rough with it. Swinging a hammer onto a splitting wedge, for bonfire fuel.

    It’s strength, courage, and mechanical aptitude in support of the sacred activities of the community. Men aren’t just “muscle”, but sometimes the muscles of men are needed in service to the community. I know … these are not exclusively male attributes. I’ve seen enough women in heavy construction jobs to know that. Still, as a faith community identifies its needs, certain of them are likely to fall to men to satisfy, and others typically to women. Leadership, though, I think is gender neutral.

  309. About so-called ‘wokeness’: Here is a cautionary tale. The Black Lives Matter movement was begun in Baltimore in, as I recall, the late 2010s by a group of Baltimore mothers whose sons had been killed by police. Under our laws, police are not empowered to carry out summary executions. That is for a judge and jury to determine. The ladies’ initial message was simple and easy for almost any well disposed person to understand. Stop killing our children. This message was, by and large, well received across the country. There were news stories about many instances of police arbitrarily exceeding their authority, such as the practice of confiscating cash from travelers who did not want to trust their bank accounts to the vagaries of random ATM machines. It turned out that police bullying, including use of deadly force, was far more prevalent than anyone had thought. A favorite tactic is, apparently, shooting a citizen’s dog and this was happening regardless of probable cause of illegality by the grieving owners. The theme was Getting Out of Hand, and Something Had To Be Done. Enter, the left wing foundations. The infamous Soros is frequently mentioned in this context, but he is far from being the only doner. If you have begun a promising organization or movement, the lefty foundations will bankroll you, in return for a few minor concessions. Israel must not be criticized. You will be asked to make statements in favor of immigration, legal or not, and to endorse corporate Democrats. There was a famous meeting between Hillary Clinton and the BLM leadership. And so, a few more brave but naive souls get coopted and their message sanitized and diluted. To be very clear, I don’t care who got to buy a fancy house; oodles of fancy houses not to mention yachts and beach cabins are acquired as a result of sharp business dealings and outright fraud.

    The present day woke phenomenon doesn’t interest me very much, but I think maybe someone who knows how to do research needs to look into who is funding it. Then think about the very real issues which are being ignored, like, oh, maybe, voter suppression, rampant pollution, crumbling infrastructure, money poured down the black hole of Ukraine. Whatever your issue is, I think you will find that it is being ignored and downplayed while we placate the woke activists. I am wondering if the woke phenomenon didn’t rear its’ ugly head about the time news of the opioid epidemic became no longer able to be suppressed.

  310. Hi John Michael,

    Jolly good shot! 🙂

    In a weird sort of synchronicity, I just read that the Old English word for ‘Mother’ is ‘Modor’. Now call me cynical, but I had to laugh, surely the good professor Tolkien would have been aware of that? He’s a cheeky scamp, that bloke.



  311. #JMG #300:

    “I do wish the reader who brought up “sacred masculinity” would get back to me and tell me what on Earth she means by it.”

    I think that’s the whole point. Once upon a long time ago, I suspect we used to know. However, since we began the headlong rush for a “Godless Paradise” 300+/- years ago, we have forgotten what we knew.

    To me, we won’t have to discover anything new, as recover what we once knew.

  312. JillN, fatherlessness is mostly harmless until it reaches a certain level in the child’s community. Other men step in to fill the role and life goes on, until there aren’t enough decent other men.

  313. Smith, yes, the media back then was just as bad as the media now. I recommend, if you ever have some time, go to a public library that has old newspapers on microfilm, and read some papers from a historical era you know something about. Look at the editorials, the cartoons, and the advertisements as well as the articles. It’s a useful experience. As for your broader point, of course, and I’ve been saying that for nearly as long as I’ve been blogging.

    Lathechuck, that seems like a useful metaphor. As for sacred masculinity, so noted.

    Mary, yep. There is no movement for social change so radical that it can’t be bought out by corporate money.

    Chris, he was indeed. He put a lot of multilingual puns into his books!

    Michael, partly I have a hard time finding any meaning in that exceptionally vague word “sacred.” It’s when theologians start prattling about “the Sacred” instead of talking about gods that they stop teaching anything of value.

  314. Lathechuck
    I wouldn’t believe anything I read in the Washington Post. It has just become a US propaganda outlet, certainly with regard to anything to do with Russia, Ukraine, or the Wagner group. I have heard more credible accounts of the Azov regiment executing retreating Ukrainians. The Russians realize they are in this fight for the long haul against NATO. They have overwhelming artillery superiority and can grind the Ukrainians down at their leisure. They have nothing to gain by frontal assaults, and certainly nothing by executing their own troops.

  315. On the “sacred masculine,” I was out in Siberia about 20 years ago and attended a party with a bunch of people on a someone’s very nice yacht on Baikal, and during the evening festivities, someone called out, “It’s guys’ time. Girls get lost for 15 minutes.” And all the ladies took off, except me. I sat there pretending not to have understood.
    That was a really educational 15 minutes. I always loved raunchy jokes, but this was truly amazing. I sat there pretending to be a guy and also not to understand. At the end of it, I realized, oh good grief, the guys really need this time. This is their territory, and I was really lucky they let me intrude like I did. There are certain needs guys have that we ladies just won’t understand, and there are certain spaces they have that we should not defile.
    Of course if they are using those cigar-smoke-filled spaces to make decisions that affect us women, well then, we have a bone to pick, but otherwise. Guys are wonderful. They need guy-sorts of maintenance.

  316. @ Chris

    “I dunno man, but I have this gut feeling that it is driven in part by the frankly insane belief that people are work units, and that they’re interchangeable. ”

    That sounds spot on, I also believe there is another layer to this. I have started seeing tirades against people that are strongly independent or self sufficient and that it is, quote – “a form of mental illness”. Almost like, “How dare you step out side of the machine I am a part of!”. AKA, you need to be a part of the interchangeable work units or the whole thing comes crashing down. What can I say, failure is an emergent property of complexity.

    Looks like being able to take care of yourself and not being entirely dependent on the system is now outside the Overton window – at least in some areas. You are free to do as you wish socially within the boundaries of those that scream the most. The idea of taking your own path has been discussed many times here, I’m am also thinking like in ‘The Retro Future’ with people being tormented for choosing technology other than the main stream.

    It is a dangerous path to be taking if you are the oppressor, if you corner a tiger it can lash out. Or in your case, don’t corner a wombat. 😉 You know, more than once I have heard folks up north get woken up by a wombat head butting their way into the house. They can put up a hard fight and I definitely would not want to be in a battle against one.

    A friend of mine once had the misfortune of hitting one with their car in the middle of nowhere. Once they backed up, the car was completely bashed in and was resting on top the poor fella. Once they backed up the car the wombat had merely had a little fur taken off its head only to wander off into the bush as though nothing had happened. Like a living stone!

    Also my uncle when he used to find one of them not so lucky on the side of the road, he would always prop them up against a near by tree, put a pair of sunglasses on them and a cigarette in hand. This is how local legends are born!

  317. >Instead they have taken to just letting out a long loud primal screams

    Was their hair colored blue by any chance?

  318. “one of the things I want to talk about is the dramatic shift between the liberal attitude when I was young — basically, that there are many different ways to be male or female — to the attitude that seems to be around on the left these days, which appears to be that any child who doesn’t conform to some fairly narrow stereotype relating to their biological sex needs to be turned into the other sex through drugs and surgery.”

    We’ve come a long way from Marlo Thomas singing “Free to be You and Me”.

    Looking forward to the coronation symbolism article. So glad you were asked to write it. As soon as the screens came out for the anointing with oil consecrated in Jerusalem, I was transfixed.

  319. JMG: I continue to be amazed and in awe that I have discovered an amazing story that is connected in so many ways to Sylvanus….

    I had already written the story! And it is an amazing one! And it is connected through this.

    To discover, on the day of Charles III’s coronation, 3 important facts that link.

    1. That Charles II suggested the Name Pennsylvania. Meaning “Penn’s Woods” or, really, Penn of the Woods…

    2. That I have a personal, intimate relationship with a modern William Fleetwood. Descended from same name who was leading general for Cromwell and married Cromwell’s sister.

    3. The third is that Shakespeare is connected. Very, very, very intimately….. In a way that I can’t say now because it is pivotal to the book.

    Of course, there is more, lots more. That is why I’m writing the books.

    Also, camouflage is important to the story….

    Oddly, this leads me to the Carroll Family of Maryland….

    The Carroll’s are, so they claim, descended directly from Ailill Aulom.

    As you know much more about Druidry than I do, what do you know about Ailill Aulom?

    Or can you point me in the right direction?


  320. Interesting, the connection between dog sacrifice and the mythical wolf-boys. I wonder if there is a distant echo in Tsar Ivan the Terrible’s personal private army, the dreaded oprichnina, also known as the “dog-headed people”.

    “The ominous symbol of the oprichnina was a severed dog’s head – and broom – tied to their horses. This signified their loyalty to the tsar and their readiness to tear any “enemy” of Russia to pieces with the ferocity of a dog and “sweep” them out of the country.”

  321. One of the other things that happened with Black Lives Matter and in other places like Extinction Rebellion, is that on paper, the demands and manifesto became rhetorically even more radical.
    There were demands about defunding the police, even abolishing the police. Do these more aspirational demands, play a role in sidetracking these kinds of movements, from the original core of police reforms advocated in the case of BLM? Has it resulted in a situation where you have these mass-movements driven by emotion and spread via social media trends, where people who have thought it through either stay away, or pay symbolic lip-service to it despite misgivings, because it has become a socially expected thing that to directly disagree with would mark you out as one of the bad people?

    Extinction Rebellion is an odd one, because although there are offshoots of it like Just Stop Oil, XR has in the UK at least in theory paused civil disobedience for an unspecified period of time. Which is odd, because that was the whole point of it, the theory was to have 3.5% withdraw their consent for the system as it is, with means that the country effectively becomes ungovernable. Now after the various actions blocking roads etc. the government gets through a shiny new Public Order Act which basically makes doing anything in public is potentially an arrestable offence. Now this has happened, XR is missing in action, if I was a conspiracy theorist I would think the whole point of it was a psyop to provoke and to justify the authoritarian reaction from the government.

  322. @Scotlyn
    “… it is not the theories of masculinity or femininity that are troubling us so much as an increasing difficulty in connecting to one another in life-enhancing and joy-enhancing ways.”
    Wonderfully put; I’d add that connecting to ourselves in life-enhancing and joy-enhancing ways, as you seem to have done, would be helpful too 🙂

    Then: “…the liberal attitude when I was young — basically, that there are many different ways to be male or female…”
    Now: “…any child who doesn’t conform to some fairly narrow stereotype relating to their biological sex needs to be turned into the other sex through drugs and surgery. It’s a remarkably odd shift.”
    You sure do have a way of clarifying things ;), odd indeed.
    The further we “progress” the “behinder” we get. I used to think that the lunatics had taken over the asylum; now I fear that lower level astral entities have taken over the lunatics.
    IMHO we are not the body we are the soul; we have a body temporarily. Being male or female this time around just gives us experiences and opportunities for growth and we’ll repeat until we learn to be comfortable in our skins at which point we won’t need bodies (physical ones at least). Till then…

    Thought of this song from way back; Express Yourself, by Charles Wright

  323. Martin Back: in regards to oprichnina….

    That is the “Mars” side of the coin…

    Versus the “Athena” and “Silvanus” side.

    One is the destructive the second is the protector/guardian of the land.

    Seems to me that it is similar to the evocati of the Romans, but with Mars in charge instead of Silvanus/Pan.

    Also thanks for book suggestions and astrology suggestions from others!

  324. Of course it is also interesting that the oprichnina were used to kill off the “boyar”!

    As far as I can figure out just now, quick search mind you, “boyar” comes from Greek. It generally means “nobleman”. In Romanian it means “one who owns cattle”. (I can’t find the original Greek meaning…)

    So, if we take this meaning, then the oprichnina were the embodiment of the forces aligned against Silvanus and Pan who are the practitioners of “forest warfare”.

    Also, the oprichnina were into cryptography as well….

  325. Some “etymologists” think “boya” come from India.

    Which would make sense. It seems the Boya of India were Brahmins (meaning believers in one god on high, the Brahma). And they were for freedom from oppression. And they were oppressed similarly to the “Boya” of Russia.

  326. Then it seems like the starting cohorts, Capricornian and Aquarian Saturns, all recently completed their Saturn returns, those who have successfully integrated are in the position to serve as elders in their own right, arriving there by the slow Saturnine way.

    Another recollection:
    It may interest you that on the weapons board there is, stripped of the trappings of its video game origins, a tradition of going innawoods to explore the ruins of the rust belt, swallowed by the forests, in the manner of ruinmen. From what after action reports I have seen, the Ohio River Valley has been fruitful for finding these structures. These explorations are structured as a series of challenges modeled after fictional explorers of the chernobyl exclusion Zone.

    Being originated in the weapons board, these explorations are carried out armed, for in the Zone, many dangers abound. Creatures, human and nonhuman, addled and sober, denizens and transients, lurk in these crumbling structures, with the possibility of interlopers in the form of police and the putative owners of the ruins.

    Those who undertook these journeys explored, camped, took artifacts, and left behind gifts in turn, the Zone which these challenges take inspiration is a deadly place, and libations and propiations are required to keep the peace.

    Those who post while exploring get the benefit of being able to draw from the experience of others. On a recent occasion, one such explorer to a seemingly abandoned warehouse began to experience strange sensations and glitching in his pictures as he made his way through the structure. The elders in the thread counseled him to withdraw on account of the presented evidence of high levels of radiation. The man left the warehouse and began to experience the signs of radiation poisoning, confirmed by a subsequent hospital visit. Had he not heeded the advice and had continued to explore this illegal radioactive dumping ground, he would have suffered much more severe symptoms than vomiting and losing his intestinal flora for the better part of a month.

  327. Before we move on from wolves and dogs, here is a very speculative passage from chapter 11 of Halsall’s “Worlds of Arthur”, which I mentioned here some weeks ago:

    “Names were important markers of identity in the postimperial world. Those of Gildas’ kings allow some speculation. Note the repetition of canine imagery in their names. The cuno element in Cuneglassus and Maglocunus means ‘dog’ or (perhaps better) ‘hound’: their names are ‘Grey Hound’ and ‘King Hound’ respectively. Conmail, mentioned by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as one of those defeated at Dyrham, bears the same name as Maglocunus but with the elements reversed: Cunomaglos. Aurelius Caninus has a canine epithet. Cuno is apparently one of the most common Celtic name elements. One wonders whether Aurelius’ epithet translates a second, Celtic name or was chosen for its resonance with Celtic highland names…

    [Another possibility] concerns the popularity of wolf-names among the Anglo-Saxons (e.g. Æthelwulf — ‘Noble Wolf’ — or Wulfhere — ‘Wolf-Army’). Wolf-names are apparently unknown in Celtic languages, the prowling wolf being a hated, possibly despised beast. The other Germanic word for wolf — wearg — has the same ‘outlaw’ overtones. Instead, the Britons seem to have gone for its domesticated opponent, the loyal hunting hound. Cuneglassus — Grey Dog — might actually mean ‘wolf’ in more cryptic fashion; if it did, perhaps he stands as a British equivalent of Duke Lupus? One wonders idly whether in Gildas’ day the choice of ‘dog-names’ had acquired an added frisson. Perhaps British kings saw themselves as wolf-hounds, hunters of ‘wolves’. Perhaps Aurelius, with his Latin name, felt obliged to add his canine epithet. Another speculation goes in a quite different direction and relates to the ways in which names could be used, as mentioned earlier, in processes of political and cultural interaction and change. Perhaps the cuno-element’s value lay in its resonance with the common cyn- element in Anglo-Saxon names. This element relates to the modern words ‘kin’ and ‘king’ via one of the Old English words for king—cyning—the head of a kindred. Again, Cynric springs to mind. “

  328. The Xhosa tribe of South Africa still do initiations for young men. “Going to the mountain” they call it. Apart from the fact they get circumcised, not a lot is known about what they do. They live in a lodge and get instructed by older men. They also spend time coated in white clay and living in the bush, as I discovered for myself when in the course of my work on an irrigation scheme I visited an outlying pump station situated far off the road.

    Walking through the veldt, suddenly a white-painted young African with a spear jumped up from behind a bush. We were both shocked. Neither had expected the other. I was worried about being speared and left for dead and not being discovered for weeks. In the event, after a moment we kind of pretended we hadn’t seen each other and continued on our way.

    For myself, I did a year of national service after school, in the infantry. I wouldn’t say it made a man of me. For one thing, you don’t get a lot of respect in civvy society. You are treated like any worker — as an unfortunate necessity but not particularly desirable. I was certainly fitter and stronger. As a child I was a picky eater, much to my mother’s annoyance. After a year of army food, some of which I would not have fed to my dog, I now eat anything. Probably the most valuable outcome was meeting a wide variety of young guys my age from different cultures and classes I would not otherwise have met, and learning to respect them and becoming friends. It knocked out any pretensions of superiority I might have had.

  329. Almost missed something really important in regards to the boyar and the oprichnina.

    From wiki: “The title entered Old Russian as быля (bylya, attested solely in The Tale of Igor’s Campaign).”

    Which is really, really, really interesting!

    And pertinent to what is happening in Ukraine today.

  330. Here is a description of the Powhatan manhood initiation from Rountree’s Pocahontas’s People:

    “Some time before puberty, boys were expected to go through a harrowing ordeal of several months duration called the huskanaw, in which they were ceremonially”killed”, isolated, and fed a “decoction” that sent them mad and gave them amnesia, and then were “reborn” and retrained by men, away from women’s influence. Some boys did not survive. The effects on those who did were incalculably deep.”

  331. @Patricia O (#336) “There are certain needs guys have that we ladies just won’t understand, and there are certain spaces they have that we should not defile.”

    Thank you for understanding and respecting that need for ‘guy space’. I appreciate that in the past there were way too many avenues of social life in which women were not allowed and that the entry of women into those avenues in recent decades has been a definite boon to society as a whole. But when women bang on the door of every single gathering of males demanding to be allowed in, or else they will scream ‘sexism’, well, that is unbalanced. As far as I know, guys have never done the same to gals’ spaces. Every male I have ever known accepts that females need their own space and respect that; we just wish that such respect could be reciprocated. Everyone deserves the space to ‘let their hair down’ (OK, this turn of phrase may not apply to all guys, though it applies to me as I haven’t cut my hair in over three years) and just be themselves in their more-or-less ‘natural state’, even if it is for a little while.

  332. Sorry this is so late to the post, but anyone still reading that has mentioned the military as an option may not realize that it’s not just that we have a lot of out of shape (lazy, soft, shiftless, etc) young men in our society.

    My nephew had to wait over a year for clearance to join the air force because he had been prescribed ADHD meds while in high school. Frankly seemed that he was fortunate to get the waiver despite never filling the prescription.



  333. Mawkernewek @ 343 There is a reason why organizations like BLM are being told or encouraged to push for “Defund the Police”. Defunding law enforcement might as well be called Permission to Commit Fraud. John Q Citizen wants a policeman to respond when he dials 911; he doesn’t much care about the hardware store selling defective washing machines to low income buyers. Guess where the diminished resources will be allocated? The activists themselves love the idea because they are dreaming about being hired on as community facilitators, mediators, etc.

    IDK why activists need to become ever more strident. There is a kerflufle over on the “trad” right in which a well known commentator/ranter was holding forth at length about how his wife ought not to be allowed to divorce him. Poor baby might have to wash his own sox I guess.

  334. Hi Michael,

    Mate, it’s a problem. We were some of the last home self-owner-builders. Some cheeky wag once described us as the ‘last of the Mohicans’. It’s not hard to build a house, it’s just made to seem that way. Even a flamezone specified house.

    But you’re not wrong. Those articles turn up with startling regularity, and often in the form of academics suggesting that living outside a city or rural-urban area is dangerous and should be stopped. Last I checked, there are a lot of people living in such places. Honestly, I’ve met and known academics, and they wouldn’t survive up here. Oh well, the trees need fertilising! You may have noticed the past few days have been somewhat cold and wet? Well, it’s worse up here! 🙂 The dirt roads are mud.

    Wombats are great creatures aren’t they? You probably already know, but they have a super hard plate in their back, and can use that to good effect to squash any animal stupid enough to take them on in their burrow. Foxes, dogs, cats don’t stand a chance.

    Yeah, I’ve seen that. It’s sends a strong message: Slow down. I honestly don’t know how the wildlife rescue people do the work they do. A lot of careless people around.



  335. Hi JMG,

    A timely post, and well said. I’m in my forties now and feel at a loss as to how I could help the young men growing up after me. I didn’t have any initiations either, so I’m not really qualified, and of the options that exist out there, none seem to quite cut it.

    I would also like to vote for the current state of masculinity as your fifth post of the month.

  336. “there seems to be a trend toward women selecting androgynous men as mates”

    Not quite androgynous, but there’s a theory that in the courting phase, women on the birth control pill, which fools the body into thinking it’s pregnant, subconsciously select the “good dad” type, i.e. secure job, reliable, non-violent, can fix things etc. When they go off the pill and their hormones re-balance, they realize they were attracted more to the wild warrior type. Divorce ensues.

  337. Thinking back to those early army days, you quickly learn you’re in a new world.

    You arrive by train. On the platform people are already screaming at you to get in the truck. No need to shout, just tell me what to do. Ha-ha, get used to it. Driving to base they corner fast and speed over bumps while you bounce around in the back. You are starting to learn you mean nothing to them. You are “troep” (trooper). The only time they want your name is when you’re in trouble.

    Then you walk to the stores with arms outstretched and they load overalls, socks, army boots, and big flappy underpants called Santa Marias for some reason that no one ever wore but we just laughed about. You lose your civvy clothes and are merged into the mass.

    It was the army haircut that was the clincher. As your locks fall to the floor (this was the era of the Beatles and long hair was in), you realize your last bit of identity and personal choice is gone. You have become a commodity to be used.

  338. Sorry for another comment, but I just thought of something.

    I think one of the great benefits of military training is familiarity with weapons. All male children wonder what it’s like to shoot. After a year of carrying, stripping, cleaning, and firing a rifle (7.62 mm in my day), you get it out of your system. Also, you learn to handle a weapon safely or you get stomped on, quite literally if you’re lying prone on the firing range.

  339. Dear Archdruid,
    With reference to a topic to be discussed in the fifth post of this month, I propose that you advise on strategies to resist ultra-globalist social engineering maneuvers, such as the 2030 Agenda, Great Reset, Queer ideology, Woke ideology, environmentalist fanatism, etc. .

    I suppose that these aforementioned social engineering maneuvers are intended to destroy current societies and the type of individuals that comprise them, for facilitate their engulfment by financial power. Which would be a historical novelty not contemplated by either Spengler or Toynbee.

  340. “basically, that there are many different ways to be male or female ”

    My wife and I wonder what ever happened to just being a tomboy, or a janegirl…

    Clearly there are deeper forces at work here.

    And watching the two major political parties in the U.S. trade positions slowly, in real time, has been…amusing…if that’s the right word. We feel like we’re voting against the same bigotries, even though we’re voting for the other party 30 years later. I’m still liberal in many ways; it’s just that today’s Democrats really aren’t!

  341. A thought about the refusal to have children, or to have many, in this age of massive overpopulation and declining resources:
    By and large, people don’t procreate with an eye to statistics, theories, or what others do. They do procreate with one eye on their wallets. They are keenly aware of the cost of raising a child – *in the niche their parents happen to inhabit.*

    If staying in that niche requires certain accomplishments the public schools do not offer, certain signals that you belong in that niche, attending appropriate colleges, and everything else that goes along with this – including intensive parenting in one niche, nannies and au pairs in another, tutors and governesses in a third, driving the right cars… anyone can read off the list of requirements for those around them…unless the parents are filthy rich, it’s not a good idea to have too many children. And note, successful reproduction children who inhabit that niche -or higher, if if can be done. For them to drop down in society = failure as certainly as if the child had never been born.

    At the other end of society, if you can’t put food on the table, you’re not going to want another child. There’s a reason people my age – born ~1925-42 or thereabouts- were in a small minority compared to people born and raised in more prosperous times. It’s not degeneracy, it’s simply commonsense – or cents. And dollars.

    My grandson Bryn has been accepted to the college he wants, and his mother told me it’s going to cost $70K/year all told.

  342. P.S. The aunt or uncle who doesn’t reproduce can contribute to the well-being of a niece or nephew, so if they’ve taken themselves out of the gene pool for one reason or another, that’s a plus to the family. As was openly acknowledged throughout the Middle Ages, and openly counted on.

  343. Bit late to the party, but Barbara Ehrenreich’s ‘Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War’ covers similar territory as your post JMG, but on a broader canvas – worth a read.

    The topic of masculinity / manliness vs culture and society is very interesting. But I think there’s a bigger problem: namely that society is progressively criminalising all opportunities for initiatory rites of adulthood amongst both boys, girls, young men, young women.

    Those millennia-old rites of separation, liminality, and incorporation, which manifest in a plethora of modern forms, are now effectively outlawed, presumably because ‘society’ views them as disruptive, unproductive, dissenting and unorthodox; agitprop to lead all our children astray.

    In Britain, between 1983 and 2009 Parliament approved over 100 criminal justice bills, and over 4,000 new criminal offences were created. Many of these curtailed the activities of various youth cults and liminal groups: squatters, new age travellers, ravers, demonstrators etc.
    The process of becoming a balanced, well-adjusted adult by passing through an inherently rebellious, questioning, antisocial, libertarian phase is now almost impossible to realise.

    Could we, perhaps in part, attribute the rise of modern occultism to this state of affairs? After all, certain occult traditions are aggressively antinomian, and attractive for that very reason. Yet expression and exploration occurs inwardly and sub rosa, away from society’s prying eyes. Perhaps the inner worlds, the last great wilderness, are where modern youth will increasingly withdraw to, to enact future rites of initiation.

    In the meantime, the spectrum of undesirable activities outlawed by government to curtail ‘youthful exuberance’ has ultimately denuded all of us of many important freedoms. It’s be great JMG if you were able to explore this topic in more detail in a future post.

  344. @JMG and Denis #323: JMG, I would be very interested to read your article about the coronation. If opportune, could you also include your take on the strange 2 second cameo of the Grim reaper (or whatever it was supposed to be) and the carpet that had the same colors as the Ukranian flag? Perhaps those are just the British royal colors but it struck me as strange. For people who do video: the grim reaper can be seen here

  345. @ Ron M, I hate to say it, because as a queer person I know how this gets weaponized as politial rhetoric to destroy our families, but I think a lot of people have noticed that much of the (in my always, exceedingly humble opinion ;-)) faux trans woman movement is actually men trying to very aggressively and often violently barge into women’s spaces (and I’m also not sure how else one would describe rape…). On the other hand, as Patricia M pointed out, our society has a terrible track record of defining a space as “men’s only” for utterly terrible political reasons, and I think that no one is actually in a position to say what a truly necessary amount of gender segregation is. Certainly as a previous daycare worker, I saw how good it was to have men there, and the anti-male rhetoric in carer spaces is utterly toxic, so I still don’t think people are getting this boundary idea right – and half the stuff people claim is a blue job or pink job you can look back 50 or 100 years and see it used to be the opposite (see: Secretaries), or other cultures did the opposite, and it relites on propping up the same tired and already debunked stereotypes (I loved these “don’t call me a male nurse” guys).

    My Scout section is 50/50 boys and girls at the scout level due to historical accident – all the men who were Scouters before they had children had daughters, so this group, most of which will be Venturers and Junior Scouters next year, have been mixed since Beavers together. They’re a really tight unit that it is an utter joy to work with. They self segregate for some adventures, then meet up again at campfire. And we have terrible time recruiting more men as Scouters, if it weren’t for us women doing the lower levels and all the administration roles, the entire thing would have folded years ago. So I am wary of too much idea of us being some sort of contamination in male space again; like now it’s back up again – men basically did just go howling off into the wilderness of video games and absentee daddies for few decades – but now they want to show up and take it back from us?

    So on the spiritual level, the biggest ahistoricity I see in the narrative of the all-male initiation is that it ignores the mechanics of these initiations themselves – many of them, as has been described up thread, involve specific genital mutilations. In Australia, it was explicit – they were to mimic the creation of a vagina. The boys are gaining female power in order to become men. There is a tight relationship in societies with shamanistic rites with cross dressing, role reversals and two-spirit mythology. Some authors have suggested that circumpolar shamanic male initiations were explicitly attempts to model the women’s rights. In tropical regions, where the female initiation rites are long and frankly hideous ordeals of captivity, a senior man is almost always involved – I would think at at the least men’s rights would have an old woman shaman involved, and that any form that has now excluded her is a degradation. The fact that fairy tales and myth of male intimation always have the witch or baba yaga figure as central back that idea up. I would argue that the reason men lost their rites, is that they killed off the priestess role (hi Protestantism), and women were in danger of making a similar mistake now (not a new argument, perhaps; I believe Dion Fortune wrote a series of novels to that effect).

    I’m grateful for this thread though. I kept getting Backstreet’s Back stuck in my head, which is just awful (it was their debut album, it doesn’t even make sense, and why did the bus driver have that Usnea in his hand?), maybe it will stop now.

  346. “There is a reason why organizations like BLM are being told or encouraged to push for “Defund the Police”. ”

    There has been an interesting change in the Defund the Police crowd, or perhaps they are too clueless to notice. Washington has a brand new law against buying “assault rifles” because they are weapons of war. But the police get to keep theirs. The Left completely missed the obvious message that the police must therefore be at war with someone, and they approve of this war.

    So in three years they have flipped from “Police bad, make them go away,” to “Need more war! Got to have war!”

    One wrinkle, if you’re a veteran (but only a twenty year veteran) and you move to the state you can keep your AR/AK. Anyone else moving to the state with one has to get rid of it or face arrest. As far as I can see this violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment rather blatantly.

    And as for Martin’s comments about boot camp, I arrived at the Navy’s boot camp by bus, but otherwise it was much the same. Dismantle your civilian identity and compress you into the mold. Your modified civilian identity will re-emerge in A school (the rating specific school following boot camp.)

    One note about that, I joined the Navy because I was sick of school. I then spent two more years in school before I got to a ship. Boot camp, A school, nuclear pre-school (basically a math refresher) nuclear power school, nuclear power prototype training, then ELT (engineering laboratory technician) school. My plan to get out of further school failed miserably, but at least there was no class in Medieval poetry appreciation.

  347. @Orion (#346, 348):

    The most knowledgeable specialists in the history of Slavic languages trace the word bojar-, older boljar-, back to an extinct Turkic language, Dunai-Bulgarian. [See (in Russian):Бояре.%5D Slavic popular etymologies build on the similarity to the root words boj- “battle” and <bolj- “big, large.”

  348. Patricia O, thanks for this.

    Denis, exactly! I’ll announce the article when it’s going to press.

    Orion, not all Druids have any connection to Ireland! The specific traditions I follow have Welsh rather than Irish roots, so I don’t happen to know anything about Ailill Aulom. Curiously, though, my wife is descended from the Maryland Carrolls, by way of a black sheep son who turned Abolitionist and moved to upstate New York.

    Martin, hmm! Quite possibly, yes. I’ll look into that when time permits.

    Mawkernewek, there’s a fascinating dynamic in such things. Have you by any chance read Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday? It’s about a policeman who infiltrates an anarchist secret society, only to find that all the other members are also police infiltrators, and not incidentally they’ve all become anarchists…

    JeffinWA, it’s a fine song! But yes, that’s exactly it.

    Patricia M, funny. Two blonde women, a brown-skinned woman, and a brown-skinned man — yeah, that’s about what I would expect. (And the visual domination of the image by the blondes is if anything the most telling feature of the poster.)

    Ighy, fascinating.

    Aldarion, also fascinating. A little further you have Carausius, Curoi in Irish, which is also a dog-name. The name Ethelwulf, for what it’s worth, has an exact Old High German cognate in Adelwulf, which gradually turned into the modern German name Adolf…

    Martin, hmm! Interesting. Glad to hear they’ve kept the tradition going.

    Christopher, hmm.

    Orion, interesting.

    Jed, one more consequence of the fact that we’re the most overmedicated society in the world.

    Tim, and that’s just it. Those who have not been initiated are in no condition to initiate.

    Anselmo, so noted.

    Grover, exactly. There used to be much more room for boys and girls alike who strayed from the specific socially constructed gender definitions of our culture. Now? It’s a marketing opportunity for the medical and pharmaceutical industries, surely, but I also get the sense that there’s been a great deal of narrowing of options — ironically, in the name of widening them.

    Chris, you did indeed, and so did I.

    Patricia M, and yet that didn’t keep people from having children at times when the poor were much poorer in objective terms than they are today. I grant your point about the middle class and up, though!

    Mark, that’s an interesting perspective — thank you for this. I’ll consider Ehrenreich’s book, though she’s always a mixed bag.

    Bocaccio, the article’s only 3000 words, and is supposed to focus on the ancient roots of the ceremony, but we’ll see.

  349. My main concern with Defund the Police is that a defunded police force, could easily end up thinking that the shoot first and ask questions later method is cheaper.
    Abolish the Police has the obvious problem that organised crime would step into the breach (in some cases it could be unemployed former police officers involved)
    JMG: I’ll have a look at your book recommendation!

  350. @Sarad, thanks for your reflections and observations on gender and society (including initiation and rites of passage). It is precisely this phenomenon of faux trans women (and the flagrant transgressions that they commit) that has got a lot of people really riled up and are applying all our self-control to refrain from bringing out the torches and pitchforks in order to maintain a civil society. And, certainly, no one is in a position to say what a truly necessary amount of gender segregation is. That line is porous and always shifting according to time, space, and culture. My wife was raised in a non-Western culture wherein segregation was very strict: her first ‘mixed classroom’ experience was when she was studying for her master’s degree. And fraternizing with the opposite gender was closely scrutinized by every adult in town: my wife was able to maintain a spotless reputation by being absolutely brutal to any young male who even glanced in her direction – the way she tells it, all the boys in her town were scared shale-less of her! And she has no regrets about growing up that way; in fact, she still prefers it.

  351. I’ve wondered how to protect my boys against the epidemic of transgenderism, and I think I figured it out.
    I have read that much of the transgendering is happening to white boys, becoming girls. Further, they are doing it because of the guilt and shame ladled on them for being white males.
    For my boys, this means I start by being the best model of a white man that I can be. Show them that I can walk with respect in this society, even if others don’t show it to me, and that I will not condemn myself for being white, or being male.
    As they get to Jr High age, explain the woke crap to them and show them why it is crap, and make sure they know they should never feel guilty or shameful, for being a white male. Do not let people hold you responsible for previous generations sins; this is not necessary to admit there are problems and work to make things better.
    Work in other ways to bolster their confidence in themselves and their abilities.
    I hope in this way to prevent them from falling prey to the idea that becoming a woman is any form of salvation or shortcut to acceptance. You can go do the thing that everybody will praise you for but then you’ve just avoided doing the hard work of building self-confidence.

  352. @Clay Dennis #283
    With respect to War Bands controlling areas of the US–
    In my experience, this has already happened. I was working at a pharmacy in Baltimore in 2015 when a man gave me a fake prescription for a narcotic. This was in a ‘nice’ neighborhood known as Pikesville.
    After confirming it was fake, I told him that he had given me a bad prescription. When I refused to give it back to him, he told me, “Look, you can either give me the prescription back, or give me the drugs. I’m not leaving the pharmacy unless I have one or the other.”
    He remained at the pharmacy counter, and watched me for 45 minutes after I called 9-1-1. No police came, even though it was a large city. I had the front store manager escort him out of the store, and he called over his shoulder that “We will settle this after you get off work!”
    I called 9-1-1 several more times without result, and he remained in the parking lot outside the door. A half-hour after the store closed at 10 PM, he was still outside the door, and still no police came.
    Finally, the front store manager and two clerks left the store first, got in his face and said “See here! You can’t stay in this lot after hours–It’s private property!” While they did this, I ran for my car and got away.
    Take homes for me:
    1) The man with the bad Rx knew that no one would come when 9-1-1 was called. This means that
    2) Not only the local area police were paid off, but
    3) perhaps also payoffs went to the level of the 9-1-1 call center too. Also,
    4) I should not have to run for my life for doing the right thing.

    Fortunately due to family history, I had the option to move out of the United States. Later that year I sold everything and left. Things are not ideal where I am now, but it is a lot better than where I was.
    At best, I have gotten a reprieve– Looking back on it, I failed to see that I had encountered a member of the war band that was actually controlling Pikesville. Having offended them, I no longer had the option to stay.
    In future, I plan to try to figure out who are the emerging war bands are in my new area, and stay out of their way if possible. This is not a plan that makes me happy.

  353. @Ron M hee hee I like your wife; has she considered becoming a Scouter? The moms of the Junior Scouters I work with tell me they seem to find that quality in a woman “fun”. 😉

  354. DT, as a parent of a boy in elementary school and one who started junior high this year, I have some of the same concerns. I’m not against transgender people living their lives, but there is obviously a trendiness and social contagion aspect of the movement. Their sister has been pulled into the whole woke/trans phenomenon, so I was pretty aggressive in trying to give them some clarity and mental tools to handle the onslaught of propaganda to which they are being subjected. Luckily, my older boy’s friends seem to be rejecting many of the values and premises of the movement as well, and my younger son is very matter of fact about biological realities. Some videos by JP Sears and the Babylon Bee are popular with my older son; a bit of satirical mockery goes a long way.

  355. This may be off-topic, but there have been a number of references to Russia. I have just discovered a book which looks very interesting: The New Age of Russia. Occult and Esoteric Dimensions. I haven’t done more than look at the contents yet, so this isn’t a recommendation, but for anyone interested in Russian Paganism/Occultism, it may be useful addition to your library. It’s available as an Open Access book (ie, legitimately free to download, I believe) here:

  356. JMG, I’d interpret one of the “blondes” in Patricia M.s Woman voters poster as a woman wearing a headscarf (but that’s just a minor quibble).

  357. @JMG: I just noticed you asked whoever had proposed sacred masculinity to explain what was meant by ‘sacred’. It may have been me in the last 5th Wednesday voting round who originally proposed the idea (I’m male, not female – you had written ‘she’ in your comment).

    What I meant by ‘sacred’ in that previous comment thread was whether there was some occult or spiritual tradition related to masculine or feminine energies within a person that had historically been labelled ‘sacred’. I had mentioned in that comment thread that someone I knew had discussed with me the ‘sacred masculinity’ idea briefly, and this person has a shamanic background. So I don’t know much about it, other than her explanation that ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ are terms, in the sense she uses them, that represent the ‘active’ and the ‘receptive’ forces within the psyche of a person.

    Then I remembered from reading a while back Dion Fortune’s novel The Sea Priestess and her other book The Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriagewith the discussion in those books of these types of polarities. Some Jungians also seem to point at this topic, too (the anima/animus), in terms of integrating these archetypes. That’s why I wondered if you knew anything more about this topic, and how it connects to today’s gender politics, if at all. Maybe the term ‘sacred’ is only used with the shamanic tradition my colleague is involved in, and I should just ask her more about it whenever I might see her next.

    This post, and the comment thread in the last 5th Wednesday vote, already answered a great deal of what I was curious about. So I haven’t voted for a topic this time round because any of the leading topics are very interesting, including this one.

    @Darkest Yorkshire: Thanks for that about the tantric community and courtly love, I didn’t know that!

  358. Very interesting article, JMG, and one that is very meaningful to me.

    Here in Colombia, rituals of transmogrification, involin jaguars, colorful birds and insects are also part of some extinct and still existing tribes in the amazon, and, of course, not only for belic and purposes of upbringing of men, but as rites into the ‘liminal’ space of the underworld ( Jaguar is ruler of the underworld, and for good reason. A creature rarely seen and walking in shadows, controlling large areas and consuming anything below or above, is a diety to people who know not to mess with them or their territory).

    Does anyone know of good scholarly material (or in general) regarding wolf-man rites of passage in Indo-European cultures?


  359. Re: Sacred Masculinity. I have a hard time with expressing myself at times, especially when there is a lot of interruptions that I had to deal with that day. Been busy since. Another reader said it better what I intended: HEALTHY masculinity. Seems like that has been forgotten these days.

  360. Cheyenne dog soldiers.

    Why be looking in indoeuropean history? If any such thing survived to 2023 it would probably be found in the Indian Reservations, where the great-grandchildren of the Ghost Dancers live today.

  361. Heh. Silver turns werewolves back into human men. Great explanation.
    It occurs to me that a lot of today’s young packs wolf-boys go feral because they can’t succeed in society — i.e., they can’t make enough income to own a house, etc. The elites have locked-up the money system for themselves. I assume (as a non-anthropologist) that silver was used more widely for currency in ancient times, than gold. Gold is too much value for everyday use. So, giving these young men a bit of silver (more income) might go a long way towards re-humanizing many of them.

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