STW 22 – The Identitarians - Vienna Calling

Jack Donovan interviews Martin Lichtmesz and Martin Sellner, Identitarian activists based in Vienna. Topics include the Yukio Mishma, the...

STW 21 - Jim Goad on The New Church Ladies

STW Episode 21 features JIM GOAD, author of The Redneck Manifesto. As a writer, Goad has been rustling jimmies since the...

We Are Not Brothers

I am not your brother. I am not your “bro,” your “brah,” your “brohem,” your “brotha” or your “brother...

All Training is Sacrifice - STW Episode #18

Don’t kill your ego. Sacrifice Yourself To Yourself. Bruce Lee wrote that: “Punches and kicks are tools to kill...

The Conflict Bindrune

Several readers have asked about the meaning of the Conflict Bindrune that appears on the back cover of Becoming...
Blog, STW Podcasts
STW 22 – The Identitarians - Vienna Calling
STW Podcasts
STW 21 - Jim Goad on The New Church Ladies
Blog, Essays, Feature
We Are Not Brothers
Blog, Feature, STW Podcasts
All Training is Sacrifice - STW Episode #18
Blog, Essays, Feature
The Conflict Bindrune
STW 22 The Identitarians
Blog, STW Podcasts

STW 22 – The Identitarians – Vienna Calling

Jack Donovan interviews Martin Lichtmesz and Martin Sellner, Identitarian activists based in Vienna. Topics include the Yukio Mishma, the power of the image, New Right vs. Old Right, and the differences between American and European nationalist and identity movements. In my opinion, this is one of the best Start The World podcast episodes to-date.

In February 2017, I spoke in Schnellroda, Germany at the Institut fur Staatspolitik‘s Winterakademie. You can watch my speech, titled “Violence: Beyond Good and Evil,” on YouTube, here. I met both Martins there, and after I returned home I invited them to come on Start the World.


Martin Martin SellnerSellner

Martin Sellner is a well-known Identitarian activist in Vienna and across Europe. He has a degree in philosophy, so he sells t-shirts at You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and though his web site at martin-sellner.atWenn Sie Deutchs verstehen, hat Martin auch einen podcast.

Martin LichtmeszMartin Lichtmesz

Martin Lichtmesz is a writer, translator and activist in Vienna, Austria. He translated the German edition of The Way of MenDer Weg der Manner, and has also translated Camp of Saints. You can follow him on Twitter.

Listen on YouTube:

Download Podcast or Listen Live:


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STW Podcasts

STW 21 – Jim Goad on The New Church Ladies

STW Episode 21 features JIM GOAD, author of The Redneck Manifesto.

As a writer, Goad has been rustling jimmies since the early 1990s, when he started publishing his legendary cult zine called ANSWER ME! He’s been physically attacked and dragged through the sleazy American legal system for his writing. Nazis and Antifa both hate him. He wrote a comic called Trucker Fags in Denial and then recorded an album of trucker music and toured with Hank 3.

The New Church LadiesGoad has a talent for pointing out the hypocrisy of political correctness. Some might even call it an affliction — and he’d probably agree with them. In recent years he’s written some razor sharp cultural commentary for Takimag, and he also writes for Thought Catalog. Goad is a top-tier stylist, and I’m sure that reading his work has taught me to be a better, and funnier, writer.  His latest book is titled The New Church Ladies a collection of essays that eviscerate the “extremely uptight world of social justice.” I thought I got the idea for calling SJWs “Church Ladies” from Goad, but he researched it and says I actually came up with it first. His take on it in the title essay is excellent, and you should read it. I’ll link to one of the old SNL Church Lady skits for anyone too young to get the reference.

Goad has lived one hell of a life so far, so I let this podcast run a little longer than usual. My voice sounds a little weird, because I’m switching my podcasting operation from PC to Mac and I ended up with an annoying hum that I had to filter out in post-production.

For more on Jim Goad, look him up on Twitter or check out his web site at

You can buy his new book, The New Church Ladies on Amazon.

I was going to post a link to the SNL Church Lady skits, but after searching YouTube I discovered that apparently Dana Carvey has been doing Church Lady again on SNL recently. The new segments are still kinda funny because Carvey is a pro, but they do have a touch of that smug New York liberal in-group humor that has made SNL increasingly unfunny and irrelevant for decades. I encourage readers/listeners to seek out the older segments.

KD Mathews
Blog, STW Podcasts

The Way of Dogs – STW Episode 20

K.D. Mathews ( talks with Jack Donovan about giving your dog a sense of purpose, basic dog training concepts, realistic expectations about using dogs for personal/home security, building a relationship with your dog, human/dog evolution and more. I uploaded this podcast to YouTube, and I plan to do that with all future podcasts. Check out my slick new intro video to go with the original theme music from David Lee Archer. Podcast Link at the bottom of this post.


  • Using a dog as a “layer” of security and maintaining realistic expectations about your dog’s potential
  • Common dog training errors
  • Pit bulls
  • Rebooting your relationship with your dog
  • “Nothing in life is free”
  • Clicker training
  • “Be fair to the dog”


KD Mathews

Why Train? – Looking Far Beyond The Superficial Obviousness To Daily Training With Your Dog

Theme Music by David Lee Archer

Find releases from David Lee Archer and the Luckless Bastards here:

statler and waldorf

Chuckling from the Balcony

Hitler with Sad EyesOver ten years ago, I had a small business doing velvet paintings of Nazis and serial killers. It was all very crass. I painted some “sad eyes” Hitlers, in the style of Margaret Keane. I have to admit, I still think that’s kinda funny.

Using velvet painting as a medium was itself an ironic choice. Velvet paintings are generally considered “low class,” “white trash,” “kitsch” art, as in their heydey they were predominantly found in flea markets and swap meets and trailer parks. They glorified pop singers like Elvis, movie stars like John Wayne, and exotic booby ladies. Using velvet to glorify reviled characters like Nazis and serial killers poked fun at modern taboos.

Some of my paintings were showcased by the now defunct “UnPop” art movement’s web site, founded in 2004 by Partridge Family Temple leader Shaun Partridge, Brian M. Clark, and musical provocateur Boyd Rice. Unpop artists used accessible — one could even say “charming” — pop art forms to “trigger” social justice warriors, back before people said “trigger” or “social justice warrior.” As I was explaining my paintings and the Unpop movement to a brother who was eight years old during my “velvet period,” I realized that the people involved were basically making proto-memes. Little chuckle-worthy middle fingers at political correctness. Pop culture turned against popular politics.

Yes, I’m being a hipster right now. I was memelording before memes were cool.

Over the years, I’ve been tempted to break out the oil paints again. I could sell the shit out of velvet Putins and Trumps and Keks. I could demand five times whatever I charged back in the day. I could probably even go full Warhol and pay someone else to paint them for me.

I’ve been tempted, but it always feels like it would be an empty enterprise.

When I die, I don’t want to be known as “that guy who was really crass.”

Chuckling from your own balcony is fun. Most people are creatures of hypocrisy. Most interesting people are made of humorous contradictions, waiting to be framed in a joke and laughed at.

I like jokes. Tell me one in person. I’ll laugh with you. I’ll laugh at someone with you. I’ll even laugh at myself. I know myself. I can be described in ridiculous sentences. I get all the jokes.

Throwing rotten tomatoes is fun. It’s cathartic.

Making a good joke about someone else or about a cultural phenomenon requires creativity, but it’s not creative. It’s not a creative act, at least by itself. A joke is a critique, and it can only contribute to a “culture of critique.” It is negative culture, not positive culture.

We live in an exhausted age of irony and cowardice. Of remakes and sequels. Of retro music and meta-humor.

If all the world is a stage, I want to be the guy who gives the heartfelt monologue, not the snarky aside.

Chuckling from the balcony is safe. Criticism is safe. Irony is safe.

I want to go out on a limb and stand for something. I want to spend my life making something beautiful that I really believe in. I want to inspire people — not just make them giggle. I want to challenge them to become superior versions of themselves — instead of just feeling superior. It’s important to recognize what is wrong with the world around you, but until you transcend that dissatisfaction and begin working to create something that you think is right, you are merely a spectator, not a creator.

Jack Donovan with Velvet MishimaI only kept one velvet portrait. It’s a painting of Yukio Mishima. I don’t keep it because it is cute or ironic. I keep it because I actually admire Mishima. He was a creator who brought his body into consonance with his mind. He literally gave his life for his art, for what he sincerely believed in, and he gave his life in the way that satisfied his ultimate ideal of beauty and spiritual courage. He went all the way. I love people who go all the way, wherever that way takes them

Mishima committed hara-kiri in 1970, four years before I was born. He still inspires people today. He inspires me.


A lot of people made fun of Mishima while he was alive. No one remembers them.


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January 14, 2013
Photo by Peter Beste. 2016.
Blog, Essays, Feature

We Are Not Brothers

I am not your brother.

I am not your “bro,” your “brah,” your “brohem,” your “brotha” or your “brother kinsman.”

Yes, that’s a thing.

I am also not your “bud,” or your “buddy.” Unless we’re actually buddies. Then that’s fine, though I can’t think of any of my buddies who I actually address as “bud” or “buddy.”  

To my ear, “buddy” always sounds a little forced and manipulative, like something some socially awkward, okely-dokely supervisor would call you right before he gave you a menial task.

If you’re actually my buddy, I’ll probably call you something stupid or some insulting nickname that we’ll both think is funny.

Or at least I’ll think it’s funny.

I do call my dog “buddy,” but I also named him Bruder, and since I feel guilty if I leave him alone at the house for more than 5 hours, he probably means a lot more to me than most of the men who call me “brother.”

If you’re a man, I’ll probably call you “man” as a gesture of respect — indicating that I recognize you as a man, and not a boy or woman or one of those damned urban elves.

If you’re a man, then you’re a man, and I’m a man, but being men doesn’t make us brothers any more than it makes us cousins.

If you call me “cuz,” then we will never become buddies, friends, allies or friendly associates.

If you’ve called me brother in the past, I was not “offended.”

Please do not apologize.

I know you meant it in a friendly way. It’s OK. We’re cool. We’re just not brothers.

Unless we are. And if we are, we both know it.

It’s not that I think men who aren’t brothers by blood can’t become brothers, spiritually. I co-authored a book on blood-brotherhood. From the Azande tribesmen of Central Africa to the early American boys characterized in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, men throughout history and on every habitable continent have developed formal or informal rites to make their friends into family. Sworn brotherhoods have always been taken seriously, and in many if not most cases, they were believed to supercede all other human bonds in importance.

So it’s not that I believe friends and allies can’t become brothers. I just don’t take the word “brother” lightly. And if you believe that the word “brother” actually means something — if you believe that brotherhood is important — neither should you.

One feature common to sworn brotherhoods throughout history is that they formalize an understanding of mutual obligation. Blood-brotherhood rites often include the promise of a curse on the brother who betrays his oath or turns his back on his blood-brother. Like brothers by birth, blood-brothers are expected to stand by each other and help each other out.

Even when they don’t want to. Even when they think their brother did something stupid. Even if it’s going to hurt.

Family implies responsibility and interdependence far beyond mere friendship or mutual admiration. It follows that created families should carry a comparable weight and burden of mutual obligation.

When men refer to each other as “brother” casually, they are imposing a fictive kinship to create a sense of unity between relative strangers.

Christians and Muslims alike have long been known to call strangers “brother” when they share the same religion.

American blacks referred to each other as “brothers” and “sisters” for decades. This reached its height in the heydey of the black power movement, as an attempt to create a sense of community and shared fate among American blacks. Blacks were even referred to collectively by other groups as “brothers,” though this is now considered politically incorrect for some fickle reason. Tarantino and others revived the funky blaxploitation vibe of the black power moment in pop culture, and references to “brothas” and “sistahs” continue to be used ironically and unironically on all channels of the mainstream media. The black power movement also inspired a variety of artists during that time who made undeniably good pop and soul music that still influences artists today who want to “‘rage against the machine” or “rise up” against the man.

The black power movement influenced the white power movement, and I’m pretty sure I’ve had guys call me brother because I’m white, or because I’m a heathen.

Richard Holt, writing for the Guardian, made an interesting point about the word “bro,” when it was revealed that Barack Obama occasionally called David Cameron his “bro.” Holt argued that by honoring someone with a name like “chief” or “boss” or even “bro,” a man is essentially saying that he feels comfortable and perceives no threat from the man so-honored. One could hardly imagine Obama referring to Putin as his “bro.”

Broadly speaking, there’s also a kind of feel-good, hippie angle to calling someone “brother” that comes across like one of those guys who ends every message with “PEACE.” You know, the guy who probably smoked a lot of ganja when he was going through his extended Bob Marley or Jamiroquai period. In his terminal chillness, he’s imposing the biggest kinship of all — the brotherhood of all humanity.

Like, one people, one world…brother.

Being one people on one planet hasn’t really ever meant enough to stop people from murdering each other or fucking each other over, so to my ear it comes across either spacey and naive or sleazy and saccharine.

A man who calls every man a brother is a brother to no man.

Like I said, if you’ve called me brother, I was not offended.

But as time goes on, I’ve realized that the majority of my career as a writer has been about zooming in on words and getting men to think about the way we use words as symbols for concepts that shape our personal worlds, identities and communities.

What is “masculinity”…what does it mean to be a “man”…what is “courage”…what is “honor”…what is a “tribe”…who is “we”…who is a “brother?”

All of these questions, all of these “words” matter.

If you say that brotherhood matters to you, why is your brotherhood so cheap? Why is it given so freely? Do you ask nothing in return for your brotherhood? What does your brotherhood offer?

These big-tent, open-flap brotherhoods that seek to unite large groups of people are all political manipulations. The big brotherhood projects the personal obligations of familial relationships impersonally, onto collections of strangers identified by a given trait that supposedly makes them “one.” Black. White. Male. Christian. Muslim. Human. By invoking the familiarity of brotherhood, people can be “guilted” into making personal sacrifices for strangers or people who they barely know — for the common cause. I’m not going to evaluate and dismiss every potential common cause between strangers here. Depending on the times and circumstances, I may be moved to find some more valid than others. I do think it’s important to be aware of the intent of the rhetoric.

I’m not personally comfortable extending my brotherhood to strangers. It’s too much to be on the hook for. There are too many unknown variables. I expect to have to earn the brotherhood of another man and likewise, he will have to earn mine. My brotherhood comes at a cost. I expect loyalty and reciprocity.

The only man who I call brother who I am not formally oathed to has been my friend for about ten years, and I know that he would do anything to help me if I needed it. I would do anything to help him, too. I trust him with my life. However, because I respect the gravity of that commitment, being a good brother also means carrying my own weight and taking enough responsibility for my own actions that I don’t need to call for that lifeline very often. When I call him for help, it’s either because I think he’ll enjoy doing what I need a hand with, or because I really need help.

That’s what brotherhood means to me. My brotherhood comes with strings attached. Actually, they’re more like chains. My brotherhood means that we’re in this together all the way to the end of our lives or our friendship. We only get out dead or dead to each other.

Is that what you meant when you called me “brother?”

I don’t think so.



Photo by Peter Beste. 


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Becoming a Barbarian Audiobook
Becoming a Barbarian

Becoming a Barbarian Audiobook Finally Available

Becoming a Barbarian AudiobookMy latest book, Becoming a Barbarian, is now finally available in audiobook form through Audible, Amazon and iTunes. (iTunes is lagging, but should follow within the next few days.)

I put many hours into this project and invested in some new recording equipment, so I think you will find that the levels of both quality and the performance have improved since the audiobook edition of The Way of Men was released in 2015. I have also always felt that this book will be more enjoyable in audiobook form, due to both the content and style of writing.

So plan a road trip, and “press play” to become a barbarian.

A sample chapter was released in November, and is available via YouTube and as a Start the World podcast.

I will probably make a second preview chapter available soon.



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Life is Conflict - Jack Donovan
Blog, Commentary

This is for Me, Too

I don’t just write the words you need to hear. I write what I need to hear, too.

I’ve been doing a lot of MMA training lately — clocked in 7 hours last week. I’ve been training for a couple of years now, but mostly boxing, and mostly with pads. I’d had maybe ten serious sparring sessions total, including two or three matches with other members of the Wolves.

At this point, sparring is what I need. I need to shorten my reaction time and learn how to apply all of the theory I’ve been practicing. I need to learn to keep attacking instead of resetting by default the way you do when you are repeating pad drill with a partner. I need to figure out what really works, what needs more work, and what is probably not going to work for me most of the time because of my size, fighting style, build and age.

I don’t have much to put out there confidently in terms of wrestling or kickboxing yet, so full MMA sparring rounds are still somewhat stressful and confusing. I’m not a tail-wagging 22 year old who feels invincible. I’ll be 42 in a couple of weeks. I’m a fast, strong, healthy and I’d like to think kinda imposing 42 when I’m not smiling or laughing, which I usually am — but I’m still 42. Because I’m one of the bigger guys, the other big guys and the guys who are actually good are always going to want to work with me.

The other day this guy joined our class. He was maybe 5’9” and 185. Cauliflower ear, obviously broken nose. Built like a fighter. I knew I was going to have to end up sparring with him that day, because I was an obvious match. When he walked across the room and picked me for the second round of sparring, In my head, I kicked rocks and got all Eeyore for a second. “Well…this is going to suck for me.”

Then I remembered that I’m the guy who writes things like, “Life is Conflict, Peace is Death.”

Oh. Yeah. I’m supposed to be that guy.

Alright. Stop it, Jack.

Life is conflict. Peace is death.

It was a long three minutes, but I did OK, all things considered. Took a Superman punch to the face, a bunch of kicks, some brief grounding and pounding, a few punches that could have been knockout punches — but I have a pretty good chin. And no, he wasn’t being a dick or showboating. I don’t think he ever went past his 70% range. I also threw out a few solid punches that connected, and I kept him moving.  

It was just a round, but I drove home on a Fight Club high. I was glad that I’d worked with him, and that I’d survived. Nothing really even hurt. No fucked up face.

The next morning I texted Paul Waggener, asking if he ever finds himself repeating his own mantras.

He said that he does it all the time, and that he writes mostly for his “future self” at this point.

He’d been sick that day and had wanted to lay around, but remembered that there are some guys out there who think he is some kind of machine. And machines don’t lay around being sick. So he hit some weights and went to BJJ class that night.

“What good are these mantras if we don’t use them as what they are for ourselves?”

I’ve had a reader tell me that when he read The Way of Men for the first time, he thought, “Man, this guy has got to be some kind of operator.” The reader actually had been an operator. Somehow, I’d managed through pure thought experiments to pull this truth out of the ether that he recognized.

I’ve never been an operator. I went to art school. I didn’t bar fight my way through my twenties. I started thinking and writing about masculinity seriously in my mid-thirties. I didn’t actually learn how to throw a punch or deadlift over 400 pounds until I was 38.

The other day, I was being photographed by a guy I used to deliver produce with for a book project he is working on. He has had a rough time over the past few years, and he asked me what my biggest “struggle” had been.

I haven’t had a very hard life, by any meaningful standard.

My biggest struggle has been trying to live up to my own words and beliefs. I can’t just write this stuff and not do it. I can’t be that kind of hypocrite. I can’t tell people to go out and push themselves if I’m not willing to do it myself.

When my work makes men angry, it’s usually because they imagine that I’m some kind of puffed up jerk who is calling them pussies and telling them to be more like me. I trigger a lot of guys with “daddy issues.” Or they think I’m some phony pretending to be something he’s not.

The truth is, I’m just a guy.

I’m just a guy trying to live up to his own ideals. I’m writing the words I need to hear myself. These mantras and symbols are for me, too.

Like Paul, I’m writing for a future self.

We are creating ourselves, always in the process of transforming and becoming. These words and symbols are magic. No lightning flies out of my fingers, and I haven’t tried to summon a storm, but these words and symbols are what I need to invoke my better, higher, future self.

I’m at a point in my life right now where I feel more “self-realized” than I ever have before. I’m closer to who I have always wanted to be than I ever have been before.

Maybe these words and symbols and ideas will work for you, too.

I almost didn’t want to share this. Sometimes it’s better to allow people to believe whatever they want to believe about you.

And, tactically speaking, when we meet and you shake my hand, you’ll know that I have no grappling game and my kicks suck.

But…by then…I’ll be better.


Jack Donovan
Blog, Feature, STW Podcasts

All Training is Sacrifice – STW Episode #18

Don’t kill your ego. Sacrifice Yourself To Yourself.

Bruce Lee wrote that: “Punches and kicks are tools to kill the ego.”

It sounds like mountaintop mysticism, like some far-out, far-eastern form of overdubbed, white-bearded enigmatic enlightenment.

It’s become a training cliche. Whether you are training with weapons or weights, someone will eventually tell you that your ego is your enemy.

The problem with that is, your ego is also — you.

People tell you to kill your ego because they want you to get out of your own way. They want you to stop acting like you already know everything, because by seeking out training, you’ve already acknowledged on some level that you don’t know everything.They want you to leave your status or perceived status in the world behind, so that you can submit to the learning process as a student — with no chip on your shoulder and nothing to prove.

They want you to train with humility and avoid hubris — an ancient Greek concept describing a man who overestimates his own power or status and brings himself into conflict with natural law, which is, from a mythopoetic perspective, the will of the gods. His hubris eventually leads to his downfall. In the case of training, a man’s hubris makes it more difficult for him to learn and grow as a practitioner — his hubris becomes the cause of his stasis.

Conceit, hubris, arrogance…this kind of ego-tism is only one negative connotation of the word ego, which also describes a much broader concept of self.

“Ego” is actually a Latin word for “I,” sometimes translated as “I, myself.”

The Twentieth Century use of “ego” in English to mean “self” stems from the psychoanalytic work of Sigmund Freud, who used the simple word “Ich,” also “I,” in German. This seems less editorial and more in keeping with the Latin “I, myself.”

In the Freudian model, the super-ego, or Über-Ich is the ego above and beyond the self. It’s the part of the conscious and unconscious self that absorbs and processes collective identity as well as the demands and the norms of the group, culture, society — tribe.

If you train on purpose — if you train because you want to train — your training is driven by the ego.

sidebaradVoluntary training is endured in the service of the ego, with the ultimate purpose of validating the ego, increasing self worth and improving social status. You train because you believe that you are good enough to be better, and worth improving. Or perhaps you see yourself training for the sake of others, for the group, to protect them or fulfill a role you believe you are good enough and able to fulfill. If you train for honor — to be worthy of your peers, your ancestors, your gods — you train because you believe yourself to be capable of honoring them. (1) This too, is a product of your ego.  

The ego, in both the broadest and the psychoanalytic sense, describes your conscious mind. It makes up the bulk of your “I” or “Ich.” Your ego is what separates you from dust in the wind. It’s the part of your mind that is awake, sentient, self-aware. To whatever extent you are the master of your own fate and the captain of your soul, the “you” is your ego. It is your ego — inseparable from any knowable version of “you” — that perceives and processes information about the world around you, evaluates that information, and selects a direction or course of action. It is the ego that manifests will.

Men train in the service of a higher version of the self, imagined and willed into existence by the ego. Training is self-creation — becoming — not self-destruction.

The aspects of the ego which must be destroyed or contained in training are self-imposed scripts and limitations and habits which may impede the progress of your self-development.This is a pruning of the ego — a sacrifice of old growth to stimulate new growth.

This pruning may be painful as you clip away or brush aside cherished ideas about the talents or even perceived limitations that you believe make you special.

People seem to take almost as much pride in the untested reasons and rationalizations they’ve dreamed up for why they can’t learn in a certain way or do a certain thing as they do in untested delusions of grandeur — especially in this slave age that prefers victims to victors. Often, their perceived limitations are like those of a boy who believes he can’t swim or doesn’t like swimming because he fell in a pool once and didn’t know what to do.

The world is also full of men who want to tell you how much they used to lift or how fast they used to run, before they got “old” or suffered some injury that elite athletes work through all the time. “Limitless potential” is a fantasy, but most people set their own limits long before they come anywhere close to the top end of their potential.

While some believe they can’t when they can, many others believe they could when they probably couldn’t. Millions of doughboys overestimate their ability to fight because they won an altercation in high school once — or worse, because they’ve watched a lot of videos of fights and think they “have a pretty good idea of what they’d do.” You can find them second-guessing professional fighters and quarterbacks in bars and in front of television sets all around the world.

To truly become the kind of men who know they have the ability and the conditioning to do what these men merely believe they can do, these couch captains would have to abandon their self-authored fictions about themselves. They would have to go through a process of failing and looking stupid before they even started to look like they knew what they were doing — much less became truly capable of performing as they’ve imagined.  

To train successfully, you must be willing to sacrifice portions of your present self-concept to a future, higher version of the self created by your ego. It is your ego, god-like, that is initiating and driving the process of self-transformation and becoming. This process requires you to exchange something you have for something you want. Nothing worth anything is truly free, and everything worth having requires some kind of sacrifice.

Instead of “killing your ego” — instead of fighting yourself — approach training as a sacrifice of a part of yourself to a higher self.

This is the way of Odin.

Odin is usually depicted with a missing eye, because he sacrificed one of his own eyes to the giant Mimir in order to drink from his well of wisdom. He sacrificed a portion of his superficial sight for a deeper, higher way of “seeing.” .

In another tale, Odin disguised himself as a farmhand and labored through a growing season, doing the work of nine men to gain access to Óðrœrir, the mead of poetry and inspiration. To get the mead, the hooded wanderer eventually had to seduce the giantess Gunnlod, whose name translates roughly to “invitation to battle,” and slam her out for three nights in a row. (It must have been a rough three nights.)

Odin is perhaps best known for his self-directed ordeal hanging from the world-tree Yggdrasil, wounded by what was (presumably) his own spear. After hanging without food or drink for nine nights, the runes reveal themselves to him, and from them he gains magic and a greater understanding of the universe.

While this scene is superficially Christ-like, and it makes sense to wonder how much Christian imagery and intent colored any of the surviving stories of pre-Christian European pagans, the stark difference here is in Odin’s motivation.

The spirit of Odin’s ego-driven self-sacrifice is captured in the following lines from the Hávamál:

og gefinn Óðni

sjálfur sjálfum mér

a sacrifice to Odin

myself to myself


The Hávamál is known as “the sayings of the high one” — sayings attributed to Odin himself. The majority of the first 138 verses pass down practical advice for living, as if from a grandfather or a wise old king. These lines about the sacrifice of self to self are found in a distinctive portion of the text that reads as if the speaker has slipped into a trance. In this dream state, the high one recalls his initiation into the mysteries of the runes, through starved meditation, while hanging from the world tree (2):


Veit ég að ég hékk

vindga meiði á

nætur allar níu

geiri undaður

og gefinn Óðni

sjálfur sjálfum mér

á þeim meiði

er manngi veit

hvers hann af rótum rennur


Við hleifi mig seldu

né við hornigi

nýsti ég niður

nam ég upp rúnir

æpandi nam

féll ég aftur þaðan

I know that I hung

on a windy tree

for nine full nights

wounded with a spear

a sacrifice to Odin

myself to myself

on that tree

which no man knows

from what root it runs


None made me happy with loaf

Or with horn

I looked down below

I took up the runes

Screaming I took them

And then fell down from there


Odin’s martyrdom is a self-martyrdom, done in the service of no one but himself, for reasons of his own. He sacrifices himself to reach a new level of understanding, and through that understanding becomes a higher version of himself.

Odin acknowledges that he doesn’t know everything, and instead of sitting on his throne sipping mead and marveling at his own creation, he pushes himself out of his own comfort zone and forces himself to do what he believes to be necessary to know more and become better. The Allfather could easily compare himself to other gods and humans and all of the lesser creatures, and be satisfied. But Odin doesn’t measure himself against others, he measures himself against himself.

The opposite of Odin wouldn’t be a giant or a dwarf or a man — or even the wolf who swallows him and ends his life. Odin’s opposite would be the person who tells you to “just be yourself” or to “be happy just the way you are.”

The story of Odin is a challenge and a reminder that no matter who you are or what you’ve achieved, you can do more, learn more — you can make yourself better in some way.

The practice of Odinism requires no worship of Odin with kneeling prayers.

One who practices Odinism acknowledges the worthiness — the original meaning of the Old English word, “weorðscipe” — of the Odinic ideal by embodying Odin. A man becomes Odin by acknowledging the worth of the way of one who is always seeking, always improving, always willing to sacrifice a piece of himself to become more, to become better, to do more.

All training requires some kind of sacrifice of self to self. Of something you have for something you want. Of something you want to do now for someone you want to be later. It may even be a part of you that you cling to, some idea about yourself that you’ll have to give up temporarily or permanently, because it is preventing you from becoming who your ego believes you can become.

When you’ve decided what you want to learn or what you want to do or how you want to transform yourself — work to remove the internal obstacles that are preventing you from achieving mastery or realizing that goal.

Be the loosener your own fetters.

Determine what you have that you need to give up — time, money, work, habit, comfort — and sacrifice it on the bloody altar of that vision.

When you are tempted to feel burdened or victimized by the hunger of your vision for sacrifice, remember that you are the visionary — the father of it all.

You are the god, the priest, the slaughter and the harvest.

(1) For more on training for honor, read my essay, “Train for Honor” in the collection A Sky Without Eagles.(2014)

(2) The translation is mixed and simplified, based on the comparative work done here:

I’ve done my best to mimic the reconstructed Old Norse pronunciation in the recorded version on that page, albeit with my own quirks and dramatic inflections. Following the example of Paul Waggener, I’ve made this a part of the opening of every Wolves ritual I conduct.

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Blog, Essays, Feature

No One Will Ever Make America Great Again

Donald Trump Isn’t Your Daddy, And He Can’t Fix What’s Broken In America

British journalist Milo Yiannopoulos frequently refers to Donald Trump as “daddy.”

Milo introduces himself as, “the most fabulous supervillain on the Internet,” so calling a Presidential candidate “daddy” is consistent with his own quirky brand of camp conservatism.

I don’t know of anyone else who calls Trump “daddy.” But when I see my peers caught up in stadium-style slave wave that is ready to crown a shifty, wheeling and dealing New York City businessman as America’s savior and “emperor god-king”…

…“daddy” does seem uncomfortably appropriate.

The incontinent progressive mainstream would have you imagine Donald the “daddy” as the paternal leader — or Führer, as they put it once upon a time in Deutschland. However, Donald Trump is no artist, and his vision for American Greatness seems to be far less grand, let alone “great.”

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