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The Wanderer’s Hearth

It’s been a constant in my life that things tend to come full circle. Many reading this have likely noticed a similar pattern in theirs. Literally, figuratively, and all the like. No matter the context, there comes a time where we return to a point. To a point we consider home. The stage of grounding and rejuvenation, where all we learned along the journey is meditated upon. 

I found myself in such a spot. Mere days ago on my way into my usual sacred spot in the nearby valley. I found myself sitting in my little grove between the two tall hills, surrounded by Oak and Aspen. The creek, albeit lower than usual, was trickling. I heard the sounds of the crows and the distant shrieking of the coyotes. I sat beside a warm, crackling fire, enjoying a simple feast of meat and cheese with a bottle of Polish beer nestled in the grass beside me. 

There I felt that familiar warmth. It had been many months since I last sat on this spot. I pondered the previous months that preceded it. The two weeks amidst the Ontario cedars once again. The six weeks I spent on the other side of the equator. Weeks of time cultivating my relationship further in the South of Brazil. The nightmare of a trip back, complication after complication, and ultimately the return. The reflection and comfort around the fire. 

I thought back over all the new experiences I gained, all the knowledge I recieved, and what these new mental assets could do for my growth and well being. As I speared a piece of meat on my knife to eat, I realized I had completed a cycle. I had returned to the sanctum of recovery and meditation. 

The Inn in the woods, the shelter in the storm, The Wanderer’s Hearth. 

I’m a man who is thoroughly discontented with stagnation. I actively and openly seek out new paths, new experiences, treacherous as they may be. I hunger for the new and the unfamiliar, within most aspects of life. This could be setting out on a new endeavour in my professional or creative life. It could also be something as simple as defying the status quo and deciding to head 8000km south to the bottom half of the planet. 

Whether the journey is in the realm of the physical, or within that of mind or printed word, the idea remains the same. Maybe the winds of change are blowing, or maybe just an urge to board Raidho’s chariot for a spell. The wiser of us would do well not to ignore these messages. The journey becomes a cycle in which the points along the way mark our progress. Waypoints along the road, fragments inching you further along. 

You will be tested. Any time you throw yourself out of your comfort zone, things won’t go exactly as planned. You’re going to be uncomfortable. You may have to shift your way of thinking to orient yourself in the proper direction. 

You travel, and drink in all the road has to offer you until you arrive back at that crackling hearth. 

So what is the Wanderer’s Hearth? Is it the fires of your home turf, or that which burns in new lands? Lands you’ve now made your home turf. 

It is both, because it is a concept. A state of mind. The Wanderer’s Hearth is the comfortable end of the questline. It’s where you can sit back and reap the spoils of the journey. Where you can recollect on everything you’ve learned. 

There comes an inherent thrill in beginning a new chapter somewhere you have yet to tread. That same thrill can come from returning to the familiar. After spending time away from it, you view it in a different lens. What you previously took for granted, you now have a greater appreciation for. 

Perhaps you’re like me, you’ve just returned to what’s familiar after a long stint in the unknown. Perhaps you have just finished a long quest to permanently settle somewhere else. Maybe after months, or years of planning and sacrifice, the doors to your new business are opening next week. Whatever it is, my congratulations to you!

It’s a feeling many miss out on. I pity those people. To feel the warmth of this comfort it requires sacrifice. You don’t just end up here without a reason. The life of the placid modern man expects something from nothing. To get to warm yourself around the fire with no toil of your own. 

It doesn’t work that way, mate. How can you share tales of the trodden path when you have none? Constant, frivolous imbibement, attempts to replicate this feeling without making a move will just end in disappointment. The mead tastes so much sweeter when you’ve actually earned it. 

I’ve had conversations with several people in my life who in current times have said they feel trapped within themselves, and to me that is truly tragic. That is cancer of the adventurous nature. The spirit has eroded into a state where they accept the banal day to day with no effort to change. A quiet, miserable acceptance. 

It’s not too late to break that cycle. Even the darkest depth can be illuminated. Take a chance on something that will throw you out of that paradoxical comfort you’ve cemented yourself into.

I can’t tell you what that choice is, or where it’ll take you. That’s up to you, my friend. 

However I will tell you this. It doesn’t matter what trip I’ve embarked upon or what I’ve attempted to do. Whether it was breaking a years-long habit of self destruction, or something as simple as getting home. Working through the hassle of being stranded in São Paulo. 

No matter what it was, that warm fireplace and feeling of success within myself made every tribulation along the way worth the while. I sat near my fire in the valley as the sun disappeared below the horizon with this thought in mind. I sipped my beer, threw some more maple on the blaze and smiled. 

There is much to see, friends. Much to do, much to experience. Get to it. When the time comes to reflect, enjoy it. 

I hope to see you around the fire someday. 

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ANSUZ: THE CALL

Óss er algingautr

ok ásgarðs jöfurr,

ok valhallar vísi.

[Óðinn] is aged Gautr

and prince of Asgard,

and lord of Valhalla.

Characterised in younger rune poems as being representative of the estuary, *Ansuz can perhaps be best understood by this analogy. Traditionally thought of in more ancient iterations of the futhark to be a symbol of godhead, of various deities (sometimes equated directly with the god Óðinn), the “estuary” can be seen to wind its meandering course from its origin in the earthly realm that we inhabit, forking up into a variety of tributaries that end in the halls of so many gods. 

It must be noted that this is not a rune that represents man’s reciprocal connection with divinity necessarily, as this is an aspect of the rune *Algiz that will be discussed at length in its own article. Whereas *Algiz, with its shape like that of a man, hands outstretched, can be seen as a rune representing the alternating current between the realm of the unseen and that of the material, *Ansuz is, on the other hand, a symbol of the direct current: it is instead self-referential, a depiction of divinity-as-it-stands, without the polar aspect that connects man to the immaterial. This is a symbol of what man looks to, the suprahuman, the personification of the ideal. 

While the rune *Þurisaz, discussed in detail in the article found here is a rune of chaos, of the disorderly energies that, unpredictably, might assist and hinder man, both within and without, the rune *Ansuz is a rune of order and stability. The Æsir, the Old Norse term for the gods of the ancient Germanic peoples, were generally Apollonian in character, unlike the Dionysian and lunar elements of the Jǫtnar with whom they often found themselves at odds. Showing an affinity for destructiveness, and the often seemingly angry elements that govern the unpredictable natural world, the Jǫtnar and their association with *Þurisaz can be seen as a chthonic counterpoint to the same relationship that mankind has with *Ansuz and its associated energy. As man is able to harness the spirit of a rockfall through the emulation of *Þurisaz, so too is he able to embody the greater potential found in *Ansuz and its Æsir-symbolism.

A woodcut of the golden temple at Old Uppsala in Sweden, based on a description by Adam of Bremen.

With the very shape of the arching, upward-pointing glyph, the orientation skyward is clear. This is not a rune of relation between the material and immaterial, but a personification of what to imitate: it is a summary of the transcendent power of the divine beings that the ancient Germanic peoples believed inhabit loftier realms, and interceded in our own when they were so inclined. It is a blueprint of what to look to, an image of what the judicious man might aspire to be, could be inclined through the force of willpower to imitate. This is the symbol that drew men from trackless wastes to temples at Uppsala, to roadside hofs, that forced the hand of the culturally-related Uralic Sámi peoples to raise idols to their “Horagalles” (c.f. the Germanic Þórr). *Ansuz, while not a rune of reciprocity, is a symbol that draws the attention and, by proxy, the energies of man. Quite simply, it is the call: the call to worship, the call to transcendence, and ultimately the call to emulation.

The mysteries of the unknown, the mysteries of the faculties of mortals that cannot be brought out other than through the laborious action of ritual, of the casting into the immaterial, the knowing of the divine and the acceptance of the suprahuman, is the soul of this rune. While *Þurisaz as the ravaging power of fire or wind storm can be understood materially and at face value, the nature of *Ansuz is far more subtle, and requires the conscious disconnection from the world at large for those who wish to know the potential that comes from contact with the divine. The capacities of the Æsir, the apparently effortless prowess that comes from their elevation above our earthly peers, are the values and the tendencies that keep men of gravitas dreaming during the day, and lying awake at night. When we listen to the voices that speak within our blood, the voices that beget the movement of our spirits, we are drawn naturally toward the transformative and transcendent power of this rune, the unseen altar, by which way we might engender a transformation closer and closer to the ideals for which the ancient Germanic people raised the roofs of temples and shrines. 

*Ansuz is the compulsion to idolise that which exceeds our capabilities: not on earth, but in the image of that which is apart from the mundane. It is the wolfish desire to make jealous the forces beyond our kenning, through imitation of their orderly and Apollonian natures reorder our lives to commit acts and maintain reputations hitherto thought to be beyond our wildest abilities. It is the  rumbling charge of Elfland’s horns, that Lord Dunsany wrote of so eloquently in his novel “The King of Elfland’s Daughter” 

 […]Unheeding any words of Orion then, he held on with the brief tale that he had come to tell, and told how Elfland was gone.

“But that cannot be,” said Orion, “for I hear the horns of Elfland every day.”

“You can hear them?” Alveric said.

And the boy replied, “I hear them blowing at evening.”

The dichotomy exists, and is far older than the gods and runes discussed herein: to see the deeds of the gods, in practice or in metaphor, and transform ourselves in the image of those who exceed us through dedication and devoted emulation, or to ignore our will to power, silence our roiling blood, and blot out the sound of Elfland’s horns. The choice is yours.

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Clockwork

By new Halithaz contributor, formerly guest writer, Kyle Brickell.

Our world is turning. Our lives, our fates, our undertakings and adventures. Everything is
perpetually spinning. Falling into the underworld, entering winter, becoming engulfed in darkness,
swallowed by the wolf – only to inevitably erupt forth again into triumphant light, Apollo returning
from Hyperborea.


It is an archetypal system of flawless entangled clockwork. Intersecting and dependent gears of
an unfathomable mechanism built by masterful hands. It is echoed across all levels of existence, fractal
and permanent. From the orbit of planets around their burning, illustrious stars, down to the minutiae of
subatomic particles which may not even exist in a manner perceptible to our current concepts of
consciousness. All things spin, turn, whirl about in their seasons. From the zenith of the summer
solstice – jubilation, fertility, sweating naked under the blazing rays of the Sun as it warms our bronzed
skin; down to the pit of the winter solstice, where we plod to and from work in the dark, the clouds do
not part, the earth beneath our feet saturated with the cold, clinging rain of weeks or months. We feel
this, chronically and acutely, and the vast majority of us know of the term seasonal affective disorder.
We know most poignantly as people inhabiting climates and areas of the world with stark seasonal
contrasts that the turn of the year, the implacable and relentless spinning of our world around our Sun
and around our axis are manifestations of the grand clockwork of existence.


Begin to look at all of existence – the next minute, hour, day, month, season, year, decade, your
life, your friends’ lives, our civilization (and this one in particular at the moment) and all other cultures,
empires, and tribes that have risen and fallen into and out of existence throughout the relentless march
of what we perceive to be time. Consider the rotation of our world, and all the other ones. The spin of
our galaxy, the whirling insatiable yawning void of supermassive black holes consuming starlight and
engulfing raw information.


You know that they are all connected. Even as leaps and bounds of understanding are made in
the realms of theoretical quantum particle physics, all these contemporaries find are facts known to the
ancients and to the Gods they lived with – and we are blessed by our fate to be rediscovering that
thread beneath the detritus of our contemporary epoch. The interconnected nature of all things
throughout existence and throughout time.

Processed with VSCO with preset


And so where to begin dissecting the notion of “time”? At this point in our journey, it must be
assumed that we are no longer thinking of time as linear. This Abrahamic concept is no longer relevant
to out hearts and souls. Recognizing and acknowledging historical events that have happened in our
physical, mundane world at any given time and place are only manifestations of that same archetypal
cosmic drama that has played out – is playing out – and will continue to play out amongst the myriad
stars and throughout the infinite turns of the great Wheel. Perhaps it is best to start at the human scale.
We have moments – perhaps hours, days, weeks, months for the lucky ones – of incredible
fruitful, fertile creation. New songs, paintings, sculptures, works of art and the ability to forge into
physical existence those things that live deep within our hearts and come to be only through our hands
and tongues. And we have times of remaining barren, during what appears to be stagnation or a plateau.
We spend our days from waking, to high noon, to sleep. We break each hour up – quarter past, half
past, quarter to…

Have you ever sat and watched the second hand, the minute hand, the hour hand of a
clock turn? “A minute is a really long time.” Have you ever had the intriguing privilege of looking
inside a carriage clock chassis from a time before your great, great grandparents? Consider the
Antikythera mechanism. The gears, the “clockwork”, all spin at varying rates. Turning, and by their
turn, effecting the spin of other gears both near and far by their implicit and inescapable mechanism.
One might even say their Dharma. Construct this clock in your mind’s eye; walk up the staircase of Big
Ben in London, the Münich Glockenspiel, or the Prague Astronomical clock. Take in all the gears,
levers, cogs. The master craftsmanship that most of us can barely comprehend. Which aspect was
installed first? When they all rely on one another in infinite, repeating cycles, would it even matter
which was placed first? How about which one began to spin first?


As you admire these mechanisms, whirring, clicking, maybe grinding in their relentless turns –
mirroring that grand archetypal wheel or Mill – paint upon each gear one half in darkness and one half
in light, from the tiniest toothed cog, barely perceptible yet doing it’s sacred work, up to the monstrous
iron wheels that spin with the irresistible force to crush limbs. These cogs are all spinning at different
rates in accordance with their size. All will spend half the time with their light side “up”, and half the
time with the dark side “up”, some spinning fast enough that the difference may become irrelevant to
our perception as they blur to grey. Some spinning so slow you bore waiting for the turn.
We focus on one moderate sized wheel. It spins at a rate that we can perceive that it is turning,
yet it becomes increasingly frustrating to wait for the light side to point definitively “up”. Akin to being
told to watch a minute hand of a common clock and being told you can only be active while it is
between 9 and 3 in the upper half. We are focused so intently upon this one gear or minute hand that we
neglect the plethora of other wheels spinning at various other rates, taking many turns, involutions, or
rotations while our attention is diverted.


Each of these gears is an aspect of our lives and abilities, we are the mechanism. The segments
of light and dark are Joseph Campbells “The Hero’s Journey”. The waking, mundane world of daylight
and common occurrence, and the dreaming, sacred, ‘dark’ dream world beneath the waves or within the
earth. On any given day we experience one turn of one of the wheels we could simply label as ‘day’.
And by that token, adjacent to the ‘day’ wheel we have ‘week’, ‘month’, ‘year’. Obvious enough, and
thinking on common scales. Shrinking down we have our hours, minutes, seconds. These segments of
this great mechanism are clear enough as well, but taking a glimpse behind we see the depths of the
machine and the infinite components that make up our lives all spinning at different rates. There is a
wheel or even multiple wheels for creation, for hunger and satiety, for dreams, for decision making, for
strength and weakness, for impulse control, for our connection with the divine, happiness and sorrow,
drive and intent, inspiration, and all other things that make us who we are.


They are another part of the Apollonian and Dionysian balance of all aspects of our existence.
The orderly marching in the light, and the ecstatic abandon. They hold the reins of atoms as they gather
under collective gravity in the vacuum of space until under their own weight they ignite and give birth
to a star, and as that star’s wheel turns, it expends it’s fuel and dies. Scattering the remaining particulate
matter into the cosmos where again it will eventually be utilized in the birth of a new star as the wheel
completes yet another inexorable turn. Within the Apollonian though, still rests the potential of “too
much” order and is balanced by spurts of confusion and ecstasy; the spontaneous urge to break habits
and routines even if they are ‘healthy’ and beneficial once they have been wrung of all their nectar. Just
as within the Dionysian there are the blinding illuminating lightning bolts of eureka! Those moments
where, lazing about perhaps in the small hours of the night or morning where we are struck by the
passion of creation from out of the imperceptible void with no forethought, planning, or intention.

So what are the implications for our daily lives? The frustration of stagnation is a heavy burden.
When nothing seems to ‘hit the spot’ and what we create never feels quite right, or that it doesn’t
embody the image or sound that is within us that cries out for manifestation. The brush stroke or the
key fall, the particular order of words or choice of word, the thickness of this line or the richness of that
colour. For those of us who feel it is in our blood to create, these times are horrific. Perhaps physical
training has become a chore. The same tired routine, that, while it may even be a spectacular routine
and has helped you build strength or shed fat, has become mundane. Performing the same movements
week in and week out merely adding a few pounds each time has elicited the sensation of the office
worker stuck in traffic on his way to work to perform the same menial tasks yet again to earn his hourly
pay.


The wheel must turn.


You will feel the impulse. The draw to the “next step” and the frustration and inner conflict of
not taking it and allowing that transition to occur smoothly and organically. There are instances when
resisting this upheaval can result in a veritable wrench thrown into the mechanism, and large portions
of the clockwork will seize and grind and cease to function, building tension and the energy compiles.
Then there are those blessed, natural states of being and flow where the machine spins freely in the
myriad fractals down to the most intimate details, well oiled from one’s connection with the divine and
ability to hear the songs of the Gods; this is not to lend credence to any willy-nilly shirking of
responsibilities as “I suppose this wheel or that has turned” but rather to allow oneself to trust in an
inner voice of impulse. A faith and complicit understanding of instinct, of the “lower” portions of the
brain too often choked out by the cerebral cortex of higher thought that was left above water with the
sinking of Atlantis.


So allow yourself the room to pursue many avenues of lifestyle, thought, creation, and
disciplines. Embrace the passions as they visit you, and be able to freely flow to the next as impulse
takes you – for the irresistible draw to things is there for a reason, a golden thread drawing you forth to
your destiny. Placing a blockage in this unfathomable clockwork of our lives, destiny, universe, by
trying to cling desperately to any manner of thing, person, or experience that has crossed the threshold
into the dark will only cause harm – whether perceived immediately or not. And as all things continue
to turn, perhaps those elements will enter your life once again in some days, some weeks, potentially
years down the line. They may not come back into your life in the same form, as the Gods wander our
world in disguise, but you must be ready to greet them and show hospitality regardless.

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The Narrowing Path

The staff of Ningishzida, origins of Caduceus, the Hermetic staff of the entwined serpents. 

Ningishzida is the Mesopotamian deity of both vegetation and of the underworld; the implication here being that he is god of both life and death. 

Often seen as a Lord of innkeepers and hospitality, and in some other cases that of warriors and warfare. 

His name translates to something like ‘lord of the good tree’ which in itself is reminiscent of both the Hermetic traditions and those mysteries that steep the name of Odin Allfather in deeper and deeper mysteries as time continues to coil away from the first Hagal rune. 

The tree is therefore to be seen as the pinnacle of symbolic representation within the myths of this world: for we all understand the tree. The tree is strong, it needs light and endures the darkness. It grows ever upwards, though not always in a straight path. 

The tree is provisional, protective, and finite, as well as immortal through its seed. It is both the world, and man, the hub of many different branches, and reliant on its deepest and darkest roots, far away from the sun. 

It is in this way that man has always found it to be something of a god, or at the very least a familiar sign during his many eras of supremacy over nature, and a solid reminder of the prowess that nature shall possess long after we are all gone. 

The ancient Germanic peoples believed that the tree of Yggdrasil was the great cosmic pole; the axis mundi to which all life and realms are connected. 

The English word tree ultimately finds its roots, of course, in Proto-Indo-European descending ultimately from the word *dóru, which is cognate with the Hittite word 𒋫𒀀𒊒 (tāru). *Dóru has been argued by some to have some connection to other ancient words which translate to hard, strong, etc… which is not too much of a stretch if we consider the reverence that most of human cultures seem to have found within the shape and history of this type of vegetation. 

“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.” 

-C.G. Jung

There is a great deal to be learned from the path of the Solar. And it is not to be scorned that the youth of today seek the positive in an increasingly dark world. 

To be an archetype such as Apollo should be the goal of all young men, for what is more divine than the primal fire of youthful masculinity?

And yet, without darkness, there is no light. This is not news to anyone but the fool. And yet increasingly I see vast numbers of our ilk failing to see the importance of the shadows. 

Make no mistake, the shadows are what our enemies fear the most. Away from the painful incantations of their neon lights, and away from the fluorescent hum of office prisons. There lies the woods, there lies many trees who wish to stand on both of your sides, and greet you as you pass. 

“He who sits in the dark is the bringer of light”

-Kristian Eivind Espedal

There is a riddle to be found in the trees, for they are both of sky and soil. They are Hermetic in nature, and provide man with the perfect symbol of balance within his realm.

This balance is not reliant on anything but the natural flow. 

Imagine, if you will, a tree without its deepest roots.

Imagine, if you will, a tree with no leaves nor height. 

The Hermetic staff, the axis of Ningishzida, has around it two serpents. They chase each other endlessly, and have found rhythm and holy movement. One cannot exist in harmony without the other: for they each chase their opposite. 

Yet the staff of the first wizard, wanderer, magician and seeker was not a serpent. It was the staff which housed them both. 

:The New Way: requires you to sprout three trees which stand for 

STRENGTH 

WISDOM 

SPIRIT

Where there is no need for balance, there is no need for great men. 

As we fill bars with idle chatter, and speak of topics that give us no kickback nor reward we are able to speak our minds and profess the most extreme of positions without understanding what we miss without the art of Sophrosyne (the art of balance).

Easy is the life of a peasant who wishes to only be good or bad. Martial or wild. But this is not the way of the Hero, this is not the narrowing path of the Halithazian. 

It is therefore of the utmost importance that those who follow this :New Way: learn to tear themselves away from all ideals, and the pomp and frill of extremism. There is a balance to be found, and as the quest moves forward, you will be required to find balance as the path narrows before you.

Opportunities will close, enemies will take their aim, and hidden figures will whisper of your fall through any means that might aid them in your demise.

It is in fact the opinion of this writer that they indeed prefer those men who profess only qualities of a specific category. A man who cannot be pigeonholed is the most terrifying thing indeed to all parties. For it reminds them of a nature they had cast aside for greater material gain. It is the quality of a hero who can wield more than just one type of statistic.

They would have you believe that to be both is to be none, and this could not be further from the truth. As is the case with all those who worry about the endeavors and diverging paths of any of their peers, they will choose to misunderstand these actions as a means of protecting their own views of power, glory, liberation, and victory.  

It is not so.

To be called Lunar by those men who howl at the moon from firesides of their own lands, bought and raised by nothing but primal Dionysian fury.

To be named Apollonian by men who admire true light. 

I speak of no such horseshoe theory that pencil-necked computer servants wish to deem all those who have nuance in their blood. I speak of a magic that can only be understood by fellow heroes and magicians. 

The Witchers of our world know many faces, many cultures, many skills, and many spells. It is for these folk that :The New Way: has presented itself. But to scorn those who do not yet understand is not the goal of the Halithazian.

We remain and type into the ether in hopes that others might understand this call-to-arms. 

We await the company of other such men who understand the power that is held within the Staff of Hermes, for the power of the serpents resides only there upon that axis.