Wolves of Vinland Photo Project by Peter Beste

Photographer Peter Beste, best known for his documentation of the Norwegian black metal scene, has started working on a project with the Wolves of Vinland. He joined me and some other Wolves for our Cascadian chapter’s first “open” moot. Wolves flew out from Virginia and Wyoming to participate, and other guests drove in from Washington, Oregon and California. Peter managed to capture a bit of the magic and camaraderie of this growing and dynamic tribe that I oathed into this past June. He’ll be attending other gatherings nationwide, and plans to assemble a unique and powerful book about the Wolves.

Check out the whole collection of his best photos from this weekend here.
For more about the Wolves of Vinland, read this and listen to this.
Peter Beste’s book on True Norwegian Black Metal is available through his store. 


Art of Charm
I recently appeared on the popular Art of Charm podcast to discuss The Way of Men and other topics, and it was one of my stronger appearances this year. If you don’t listen to every podcast I call in to, this would be a good one.

Art of Charm has tens of thousands of subscribers on iTunes, Stitcher and SiriusXM radio, so there has been some backlash from people who are emotionally fragile or manipulative, or who want to do some transparent moral status signalling to alleviate the boredom of modern life. If you are also bored, angry or standing in line somewhere looking for a cathartic way to waste time, please consider posting a positive review to iTunes or the Art of Charm website.

The Art of Charm -Jack Donovan | The Way of Men (Episode 443)

The Art of Charm on iTunes – http://www.theartofcharm.com/itunes

I also appeared, semi-mute from bronchitis, on a YouTube interview with my good friend Chris Duffin and my brothers Grimnir and Jarnefr from The Wolves of Vinland on building tribes in today’s world.


In STW Episode #10, I interview Greg Hamilton, Chief Instructor at InSights Training Center in Bellevue, WA.

A few weeks ago I drove up to hang out with Greg and take his General Defensive Handgun course. I learned a lot, and Greg shared so many insights about learning, survival, guns, masculinity and the psychologies of violence and self defense that I asked him if he would appear on Start The World.

Greg Hamilton is an over twenty year veteran of the U.S. Army Rangers and Special Forces.  He is the founder of InSights Training Center, and has trained over 20,000 private citizens, police, and military personnel. Though Greg has trained tactical teams and instructors internationally, his specialty is training the individual — the “lone operator.”

Greg stresses that guns are tools, and based on his extensive experience as an operator and an instructor, he cut through noise and broscience you’ll find online about handguns and shared with us the same gear recommendations he gives to his students. If you’re trying to figure out what to buy and how to get started, here’s Greg’s shopping list.

Greg’s Gear Recommendations

Handgun: Glock G17
Sights: Heine straight eight ledge sights
Holster: Kramer #3 IWB in horsehide with screws not snaps
Magazine Pouch: Kramer horsehide single magazine pouch (get the G19 one for both the G17 ands G19, the G17 pouch is too tall)
Belt: Most people will do best with a 1 1/2 belt. IMO the best is the Kramer shark/horse. You need to order the magazine pouch to fit the belt, the holster is adjustable

Books Mentioned:


Plutarch on Sparta
The Song of Roland


Gates of Fire


Gunfighters – Charles Askins
Unrepentant Sinner – Charles Askins

WWII German

The Blond Knight of Germany
Stuka Pilot

WWII American

The Filthy Thirteen
Fighting with The Filthy Thirteen
No Better Place to Die


Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage: The Lonely Challenge
Free Spirit Reinhold Messner
Extreme Alpinism Mark Twight


Don’t Shoot the Dog


What is a Rune? ClearyWhat is a Rune? and Other Essays

by Collin Cleary

Counter-Currents Publishing, 2015

ISBN-10: 1935965808

ISBN-13: 978-1935965800




As a lifetime “non-believer” who has been delving into Germanic heathen worldviews and traditions for the past year or so, Collin Cleary’s What is a Rune? pulled a few ideas together for me at the right time, introduced some evocative concepts that I’d like to revisit in visual art, and inspired some new questions. I’m certain I’ll come back to the book and re-read portions of these essays again and again over the coming years, but I thought I’d post some initial personal reactions, as I know many of my readers are interested — either intensely or casually — in Germanic paganism.

I concentrated on the essays that were particularly relevant to my own interests — also the first four essays of the book. (“What is a Rune?,” The Fourfold,” “The Ninefold,” and “The Gifts of Odin and his Brothers.”) As Greg Johnson mentioned in his introduction to Cleary’s philosophy, they build on his discussion of achieving an “openness to the gods,” from his earlier work, Summoning the Gods.  “What is a Rune?” presents a tighter, more accessible and more definitive handling of this line of thought.

For me, Cleary is building on an idea that first struck me while reading Thomas Carlyle’s essay, “The Hero as Divinity” from On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History. For our ancestors, the world was a more magical place.

Lightning, for instance, wasn’t something you learned about in school or from a photograph — it was real and immediate and alive and they saw it with wonder the way children experience it before they are taught a story about what lightning “is” to modern men. Modern men think of these things as ideas, first, but our ancestors knew things intimately. A grown man would not simply see a tree and identify it against a field handbook of trees, he’d know it. He’d know how it would burn, how to use its wood, its bark, its fruit and seeds and sap. He’d know how it would grow and how it felt to be surrounded by that particular kind of tree in wooded silence.

It is not so difficult to see the world this way, once you’ve escaped the urban or suburban commerce-scape.

It’s not hard to see “MOUNTAIN” as alive and magical when you’re on one, and it’s easy to stop thinking of “FIRE” as a chemical reaction when you’re sitting around a fire under the stars.

Like Carlyle, Cleary makes some fascinating points about what he calls the “numinousness” of the world before it was “explained” by science. In fact, he makes a point that a “world” is not “earth,” but that it comes from the Old English  weorold, meaning “man-age.” Our weorold is defined by our perception and conceptualization of it, and understanding our ancestors means attempting to understand their weorold. Cleary wonders whether we can ever truly understand their world while living in the modern one, and says, perhaps wryly, that, “our hope lies in Ragnarok.”

This point reminds me a bit of arguments often made against the paleo diet — that we can never truly eat as our ancestors ate, because so much has changed in the world. Critics of paleo often imply that because one can’t exactly replicate the diets of our ancestors, the idea is foolish and presumably we should all just resign ourselves to a diet of Twinkies and Mountain Dew because that’s somehow more authentic to our time. Most serious paleo authors I’ve read have understood that we aren’t hunting aurochs anymore. The basic idea is to better approximate the macronutrient ratios of our ancestral diets (though there were many different ones) and stop eating so much processed plastic food synthesized more for profit than for human nourishment. That’s not so unreasonable.

And neither is aiming to approximate some of the ideas our ancestors and incorporate these ideas into the way we live our lives. Exact replication or reenactment would be asinine and masturbatory — at best a cute hobby. We are men living now and we can only be men living now, in our own weorold. The point is to use the past to inform the present, to live vital lives, inspired by the lives and ideas of our ancestors. This is not so unreasonable.

Cleary also writes about the importance of thinking mytho-poetically when interpreting the runes and stories of our ancestors. This comes easier to some than others — artists and musicians and filmmakers and writers of fiction think poetically already. However, one thing I would like to see Cleary explore in the future is the idea of acting mythopoetically.

In one sense, we can do this, as I mentioned earlier, by getting out into what is left of nature and experiencing it away from modernity. Ponder Laguz while floating on a lake, while you’re experiencing it. Fish the lake. Boat it. Wade in it. Swim in it. Know it.

In another sense, isn’t a major motivation for performing ritual to act mythopoetically? Hasn’t the point of ritual in many religions been to leave behind the mundane and connect to something timeless and elemental? Modern men can use primal sounds and fire and blood to separate themselves mentally from the modern world and experience a mindset that is still full of magic and wonder. We can never, as Cleary points out, truly live in another age — nor should we try — but we can employ ritual to build a bridge of understanding that can inform and enrich the way we live today. To quote Cleary, “…dwelling in [that] world means poetically giving birth to the world itself,” and ritual is a means to use poetry and myth to birth — or one might say, “start” — a new world.

I know and have known many highly intelligent and creative men with an interest in ritual and the occult, and I’ve come in contact with a lot of total fruitcakes, but ritual and the occult seem to attract some particular kinds of thinkers. I’d like to read a thinker as lucid and methodical as Cleary delve into the idea of ritual as mythopoetic action, and could even envision a ritual drawing directly from his conceptualization of the Fourfold and Ninefold.

As I am still very much an entry-level student of Germanic mysticism or heathenry or whatever you’d like to call it, Cleary’s insights into the Fourfold and untangling of the Ninefold were enlightening, even exciting. The association of Muspelheim and Niflheim with solve and coagula, in particular, stood out, and I now link Niflheim not only with ice, but with serpents and retraction, pulling in and unification. Cleary offers similar oppositional concepts for the rest of the nine worlds, and his interpretations breathed a lot of life into them for me.

Since readers often write to ask for book recommendations, I’m going to include What is a Rune? on a short list of readings and lectures which I’ve found particularly helpful as introductions to Germanic heathenry, in a progression.


  1. Prose Edda
  2. Poetic Edda
  3. “The Hero as Divinity” from On Heroes and Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History, Carlyle
  4. “What is a Rune?” from What is a Rune?, Cleary
  5. Reading the Past: Runes, R.I. Page (for non-mystical, historical context
  6. Runelore, Edred Thorsson
  7. Lecture: “The Children of Ash: Cosmology and the Viking Universe,” Neil Price (Youtube
  8. “Editorial Preface,” TYR 4, Buckle
  9. “The Fourfold” from What is a Rune?, Cleary
  10. “The Ninefold” from What is a Rune?, Cleary
  11. The Shape of the Soul: The Viking Mind and the Individual,” Neil Price (Youtube
  12. Life and Afterlife: Dealing with the Dead in the Viking Age,” Neil Price (Youtube
  13. The Road to Hel, Hilda Roderick Elli
  14. Barbarian Rites, Hans-Peter Hasenfrat
  15. “What God did Odin Worship?,” Summoning the Gods, Cleary
  16. “What is Odinism?,” TYR 4, Cleary

This isn’t a meant to be a definitive list, as I haven’t read everything I want to read yet, but I think it will be helpful for others. Everything here was recommended to me by someone, so I’m just passing along the recommendations.

Finally, here’s a meme I created and shared around while reading these essays, from a passage I particularly liked about Odin. Please feel free to share it.


Jack Donovan Patches

The “Start The World” and “Violence is Golden” patches have all shipped out, and most have been received. I ran into some mail merge and postage issues, so a few of them came back or were never received. I’ve re-shipped every missing order I’ve heard about but if you are in the US and you have not received your order, email me at mr.jack.donovan@gmail.com. Still getting the hang of mass mailings and I want to make sure everyone gets what they ordered before I make any more available.

UK and Canadian guys – let me know when/if you get your order, so I can gauge whether or not International mail is going to be timely and reliable enough to be worth the effort.

Thanks to the guys who sent in photos. These were just a few.

I’ll probably order another run of patches in June for those who missed this run, or want to order more.


Also, since I’ll be doing some traveling, making gainz, meeting like-minded men and participating in all kinds of things this summer, I set up a new Instagram account @starttheworld.  Follow me there, as I’ll be using it more than Facebook. (Better photos, less fake “news” I don’t care about)

Violence is Golden Patches


“I prefer to not to use the words, ‘let’s stop something’. I prefer to say, ‘let’s start something, let’s start the world’.

– Peter Fonda, 2011

I’m putting 150 of each patch up for sale to the US, Canada and the UK at my new big cartel store. I expect both to sell out pretty quickly. I will also be putting up the remaining 40 or so limited edition Way of Men art prints from Danger Press (their stock is sold out) but I’m still trying to figure out shipping costs. They will be available in a week or so.



Read the Essay: “Violence is Golden”

professor in the cage coverThe Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch

Jonathan Gottschall
Penguin Publishing Group, 2015. Kindle Edition
ISBN-10: 1594205639
ISBN-13: 978-1594205637



I downloaded Jonathan Gottschall’s The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch and started reading it the morning it came out. I stopped two chapters in, because I had to head to my boxing class.

Gottschall and I aren’t the same, but we know something about each other.

When a man on the far side of thirty-five decides to learn how to fight, he’s got some reasons. He doesn’t do it because he’s already good at it, and he doesn’t do it on a whim. He’s not trying to keep his lunch money away from the school bully and it ain’t about impressing girls.

When you’re in your twenties, if you have any sense of self worth, you figure you could to do just about anything if you really put your mind to it. After that, you start to realize that doors are closing behind you, and you can see more closing doors in front of you. Thirty and forty aren’t nearly as old as they seem when you are twenty, but they aren’t twenty, either. You can probably still do almost anything, and you can still surprise yourself, but you know that you can never go back and do some things as well as you could have if you’d started earlier. Fighting is one of those things.

Gottschall did two courageous things in the process of writing The Professor in the Cage. First of all, the man took a fucking MMA fight. That takes a plumper sack than you’ll find between four average football fans. It doesn’t matter if he won or lost. And that courage only reached its pinnacle in the octagon. As he wrote in one of my favorite passages, it would have been much safer to avoid training altogether:

“The very last thing I feel like doing most nights after dinner is getting in a series of fistfights with a bunch of twenty-year-olds — is doing anything requiring strapping armor to my genitals. But since I began work on this book , trading punches with twenty-year-olds has kind of been my job , and so I drag myself to the gym like a shift worker dragging himself to the factory. I limp onto the mat feeling tired and old, and after I warm up and get going . . . I have so much fun. The blubbery, congested sensation of incipient middle age gives way, and I feel young again, and strong. When I’ve competed well, and especially when I’ve held my own in the sparring, I leave the gym feeling so awake, my whole system revving with something purer than a runner’s high. I drive home knowing that I’ve been going through life half asleep, and I feel a euphoric gratitude for my living muscle and bone and blood.”

The visceral joy of a man being a man, of this beautiful thing that we are losing and that fewer and fewer men will ever feel or know or understand — it is right there, exposed and palpable.

The book wasn’t all like that. Gottschall’s accounts of his fears about training and fighting felt overplayed to me, and were a little cringey in spots. It even seemed like he wanted to lose his fight — like it was a kind of good-guy writer’s martyrdom. But he still fought, and I’d buy him a beer for that.

Social courage, on the other hand, is a lesser form of courage, but the metaphorical beatings come from more angles and the bruises hang around longer. If only the bitchy snipings of critics were as clean and simple as a punch in the face…

The second courageous thing Gottschall did was dismiss a lot of civilized groupfeel about gender, men, and violence. While he unconvincingly argued that manly bloodsport is no threat to the feminist project, he convincingly argues that men are and have always been more inclined to violent competition than women, and that it has as much to do with nature as it does with nurture. The increased male tendency to pursue violent competition is not merely verifiable in our species, it is consistent with animals with similar reproductive abilities and behaviors throughout the natural world. “Across species,” he writes, “most male aggression is ultimately tied to a shortage of female reproductive supply relative to male demand.” We do a lot of the same “monkey dances.”

And humanity hasn’t “evolved” past the point where this sort of male violence is no longer necessary, as many spoiled and sheltered airheads like to believe — it is simply contained and suppressed by state-sanctioned violence.

Wrapping up one of several entertaining and informative tangents in the book, this one on the rise and fall of dueling culture, Gottschall makes the point that the disappearance of the kind of honor cultures that made fighting and dueling a normal part of life is not owed so much to the “evolution” or “moral enlightenment” of modern people as it is to the rise of the efficient Leviathan. The highly policed state protects families and property, and punishes men who take matters into their own hands, so demonstrating publicly that you will stand up for yourself is not only unnecessary, but potentially more costly than doing nothing. In early America and pre-20th Century Europe, this was not the case, and it is not the case in failed or weak state pockets of the world where honor cultures thrive in various forms.

In several statements sure to be deemed heretical by his Chardonnay-sipping academic peers, Gottschall sketches out a familiar definition of masculinity that is rooted in both biology and evolutionary psychology. It’s not different everywhere, or completely subjective. The differences are differences of degree. He writes, “Masculinity is simply strength and toughness— of body and mind. There are many valid ways to be a man, things that cultures respect or disrespect, but there is no masculinity without strength.” Check. “…in every culture, men were seen as more active, adventurous, dominant, forceful, independent, and strong. And in every culture except for one (but not always the same one), males were seen as more aggressive, autocratic, daring, enterprising, robust, and stern.” Check. Further:

“stereotypes about masculinity became so entrenched for a reason: they are mainly true. To be timid, muscularly weak, and emotionally shaky is now and has always been unmasculine. Masculinity is not a cultural invention. It is not the result of a conspiracy by men against women. It is a real thing that has evolved over millions of years as a response to the built-in competitive realities of male life.”

Strong, Courageous and Able. He also notes that, everywhere and always, masculinity has been something that needed to be proved through rites of passage. Women simply became women through reproductive maturity, but, “To earn the status of a real man, not an ersatz one, a guy must prove he has the right stuff.” That is to say, he must prove himself to other men. He must earn his reputation, and be willing to defend it. He must have some sense of… Honor. The Professor in the Cage is the first mainstream book I’ve read that verifies the cross-cultural reality that the tactical virtues I listed in The Way of Men — Strength, Courage, Mastery and Honor — are the most basic components of human masculinity as a universal concept.

Gottschall also explores the connection between masculinity and violence, and the lingering desire in men to find something to fight, even if they don’t have to. He compares modern men to Don Quixote. “They conjure dragons just so they can try to kill them,” because something in them still wants to prove, “they have inherited the legacy of their grandfathers, the pure stuff of manhood: courage and strength.”

The Professor in the Cage is supposed to be about MMA, but it is more about masculinity than mixed martial arts. MMA fighters and fans won’t find much they don’t already know, though they may walk away with some academic ammunition for arguments about why they do what they do and like what they like. As a narrative about a nerd learning to fight, I preferred Sam Sheridan’s more straightforward and less self-deprecating A Fighter’s Heart. But as Gottschall and I are in the same age range, his experience was useful in helping me reflect on my own. As a book about masculinity, it deserves a place on a shelf right beside Harvey Mansfield’s Manliness and James Bowman’s Honor: A History. Like Mansfield’s Manliness, though, it ultimately seems to have been written more for women and fellow academics than for a general male audience. It’s more apologia than manifesto, explaining to “others” why men, despite strong efforts to turn them into nice little girls, still persist in being…masculine. It’s not because we fear the mystical power of women, or because we secretly hate women and want to oppress them. Men still want to behave like men because we like ourselves better that way.

I won’t ruin the story of Gottschall’s fight for you, but it is worth noting that the book wasn’t just a stunt. He may never take another real fight, but he’s going to keep training and sparring until he finally leaves the gym on a stretcher.

I’d buy him a beer for that, too.

Buy The Professor in the Cage on Amazon.

The Way of Men Audiobook


The Way of Men audiobook is finally finished, and it is now available on Amazon, Audible and iTunes.

Readers are enjoying it so far, but please be advised that there is a known quality issue with the chapter “The Perimeter.” The whole chapter is there and can be understood, but a few listeners have reported that there are a few clicks or skips. I will re-record and re-submit that chapter when I can find the time, but for those of you who have been waiting for the audiobook either to share with friends who would rather listen than read, or for your own enjoyment, I wanted to put it out there.

I hope you enjoy my narration — I felt strongly that it had to be me who read the book, since so much of it was written in first person.

As always, your positive and constructive reviews are greatly appreciated. Eventually, as with Amazon, there will be some reviewers who write “one star” reviews without reading the material, because they don’t like whatever they think the book might say. (They are probably right about that…)

I think the audiobook will help the message of The Way of Men expand its audience substantially, and while it is a lot of work, I’d advise other dissident writers to look into the Amazon’s ACX service.

A full chapter sample of the chapter “On Being a Good Man” is now on YouTube.