It’s been a little over two months since I took ownership of Waldgang. I’d like to thank the guys who keep buying books and merchandise from Brutal Company, because I sure haven’t done much in the way of writing or promotion since May 12. If you follow my Instagram, you’ve seen what we’ve been up to, but I sometimes forget that I have many readers who don’t use Instagram. I see what I am doing there as the ongoing fulfillment of everything I have written about in the past, so what I am doing and learning by doing is more important than anything I could write or say. Also, every time I sit down to write, I end up like I did today…sourcing joist hangers for a yurt and seats for composting toilets and then I’m sketching roof plans for my cabin and then it’s time to go to the gym and my “in-town” workday is over.
My brother Afi and I have been out at Waldgang for at least two days out of every week since I bought the land, with frequent help from our other local brothers.
The first structure we built was the Wolfhaus, a place for my local and traveling Wolves of Vinland brothers to crash when they are out at the land. It’s a simple building that houses two bunk beds.
After a few weeks of work, Mike Lummio from Bushcraft Northwest happened to be in the area, and I asked him to stop by and give us some tips on managing the land responsibly and effectively. He told us what trees to cut down and when, when to burn, how to attract beneficial bats and birds, and checked the place for invasive species. I did a podcast with Mike awhile back.
Listen to my podcast with Mike Lummio on Bushcraft here.
Spending so much time at the land has really cut into our gym week, so we decided to build an outside dip station and squat rack with a much needed storage building. It occurred to us that we should erect a temple to Thor/Donar in this place of strength, so we came up with a design that we plan to replicate with appropriate adaptations for other gods as the land is developed, culminating in a substantially larger building dedicated to Odin that we won’t get to until next summer.
My brothers Paul and Matthias have been making an epic transcontinental motorcycle journey this summer with a Wolves Prospect and a rotating cast of characters, so they stopped at Waldgang for a weekend to check it out. Waldgang really came alive for me the morning we all worked out together in front of Thor’s shrine. You can build things, and imagine how they will be used, but there is something deeply satisfying about seeing your friends enjoy structures that you just sketched out on paper a couple of weeks prior.
The trees on the land are all scrub oak and ponderosa pines. Oak is sacred to Thor, so we cut down a dead oak — I’d never lay a blade on the handful of grand, twisted oaks out there that are old enough to have character — and dubbed it Donar’s Oak. In the spirit of creating sacred spaces and new traditions, we have asked heathens to send us Mjolnirs (Thor’s hammers) as offerings. We’ve received several already, and hope to in a few years have a tree covered in hundreds of Mjolnir necklaces. Things have meaning because we give them meaning, and so many people sending something that symbolizes something important to them is a way to create something truly profound. I imagine visitors years from now traveling to Waldgang and looking forward to placing a Mjolnir on Donar’s sacred oak. If you’d like to make an offering, send a Mjolnir to my post office box at 4230 SE King Road #185
Milwaukie, OR 97222.
Wildfires are common near Waldgang, so summer fires are a bad and irresponsible idea. I finally caved and purchased a propane grill so that we could start cooking steaks instead of living on a questionable amount of protein bars. To house the grill and coolers, Afi and I built a bar area, which with the addition of picnic tables, became a “Biergarten.” Again, something that we didn’t plan initially…we just realized it was something we needed to facilitate hanging out with a bunch of guys…like the composting toilet outhouse we’re going to have to build in the next month or so.
Despite what some petulant critics have written, the Waldgang project is actually about a lot more than hiding in the woods and “cracking one open with the boys.” It’s an acknowledgement that the West has been culturally dead for decades if not the better part of a century. It’s an acknowledgement that politics in America is a bad joke. Anyone who invests in the American political system is wasting time, energy and money making strangers who don’t care about them wealthy and powerful. It’s about unplugging from the curated narrative of distorted “news” that defines “reality” for almost everyone.
Where the automatism increases to the point of approaching perfection—such as in America—the panic is even further intensified. There it finds its best feeding grounds; and it is propagated through networks that operate at the speed of light.2 The need to hear the news several times a day is already a sign of fear; the imagination grows and paralyzes itself in a rising vortex. The myriad antennae rising above our megacities resemble hairs standing on end—they provoke demonic contacts.
Jünger, Ernst. The Forest Passage (Kindle Locations 615-619). Telos Press Publishing. Kindle Edition.
These strangers on the covers of magazines, these people who lazily “report” by copying and pasting the last “reporter’s” lies, these theatrical battles between powerless people in goofy costumes acting out meme wars…they’re not my people, and they’re not my problem. I’ve read along as others have identified problems with the world, their world, but all they want to do is protest. They create nothing. They can say that what we are doing doesn’t change anything, but does hand-wringing about the fake news — ALL news is fake news now, everything is just clickbait — ever change anymore? Registering an opinion on something doesn’t change it. It just provides a comforting illusion of control.
We have a rule at Waldgang. Anyone who mentions the name of a politician who doesn’t return their phone calls has to go pick up a rock over fifty pounds and move it to wherever we need one. We have a lot of rocks.
The locus of freedom is to be found elsewhere than in mere opposition, also nowhere that any flight can lead to. We have called it the forest.
Jünger, Ernst. The Forest Passage (Kindle Location 648). Telos Press Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Waldgang is about creating a different reality. At the very least, some kind of “temporary autonomous zone.” It’s about demonstrating “a diversity of possibilities,” and reordering the world — my world, our world, but not necessarily yours. I was inspired by Mircea Eliade’s book The Sacred and the Profane. In Becoming a Barbarian, I wrote about the nervousness and desperation created by The Empire of Nothing. “Citizens of the World” lack meaningful social identity. They become rootless. To these Citizens of the World — of the Empire — everyone is essentially the same and everyone is adrift, purchasing objects and disposable consumer identities to make themselves feel connected to something…anything. In The Sacred and the Profane, Eliade makes a similar point about the modern, desacralized world. In Traditional societies, people make sense of the world by differentiating between sacred spaces, objects, and ideas — and everything else, which is common, everyday, profane. An object or space becomes sacred because it means something important to “us,” to our people, who share a particular culture and set of beliefs. He studied and wrote about Shamanistic societies, and the cross-cultural idea of creating some kind of axis mundi that connects heaven and earth and links man to the divine and eternal. He explored the concept of what he called “founding the world” — one might even say “starting the world” — through the creation of these axes and sacred, set apart spaces. I’ll be developing some of these ideas for an essay I’m working on for the upcoming edition of the spearheading TYR Journal, to be published later this year.
Building on this ancient framework as conceptualized by Eliade, we founded the axis of our world at Waldgang. In heathen and Asatru circles, an altar is sometimes referred to as a hǫrgr, from the Old Norse, but at Waldgang we are descended from Germans and Britons, and we wanted to reach back deeper into a more ancient, primal past, so we have been incorporating words from the theoretical, unattested proto-Germanic language. Hǫrgr comes from an older form, Harugaz, which means sanctuary, haildom, grove, altar, pile of stones.
Together, my brothers and I made fires to set and sanctify the circle where the Harugaz would stand while it was still safe to burn on the land. Over several weeks, we added rocks to the Harugaz, built around a wooden pillar buried at the center. We brought the pillar from our former ritual space, where it had been blooded and covered with protective bindrunes by Paul Waggener. The pillar, inspired by some of the traditional Germanic beliefs, symbolizes Yggdrasil, which connects all worlds. Sacred objects and stones from other altars and sacred places, including some soil I collected from the 7,000 year old Sonnenobservatorium Goseck in Germany earlier this year, were incorporated into the Harugaz.
Finally, while Paul and Matthias were visiting, we placed a 650 pound table stone on the pillar, and inaugurated the Harugaz with a late night ritual that, after Eliade, reenacted the Germanic cosmology, uniting fire and ice from nothingness to create chaotic life — the primal scream — and blooding the skull of a pig that had been sacrificed in the name of Ymir, from whose corpse Odin and his brothers created the world.
After the Waggener brothers left, I returned to the land to started framing up my own small cabin at the Waldgang. In the coming years I’ll be spending a lot of time there, and hope to be doing the majority of my writing and creative work there by next spring. There are many more projects to finish before winter, when I’ll focus more on creating sacred objects and artwork. Also looking forward to big fires in the snow.