The Conflict Bindrune

Several readers have asked about the meaning of the Conflict Bindrune that appears on the back cover of Becoming...

STW Episode #16 – Greg Walsh from Wolf Brigade

Today’s guest is Greg Walsh, founder of the Wolf Brigade gym and brand out of Rochester, NY. We talked about fitness,...

STW Episode #15 – Hunter M. Yoder the Heiden Hexologist

Today’s guest is Hunter M. Yoder the Heiden Hexologist. Hunter is a Heathen folk artist who specializes in hexology...

STW Episode #14 – Mike Lummio on Bushcraft

Mike Lummio runs Bushcraft Northwest, which offers several courses on bushcraft as well as urban survival. Recently, he invited me...

STW Episode #13 – John Mosby "Forging the Hero"

John Mosby is a former U.S. Army Special Operations soldier and author of a new book, titled Forging the Hero. He...
Blog, Essays, Feature
The Conflict Bindrune
STW Podcasts
STW Episode #16 – Greg Walsh from Wolf Brigade
STW Podcasts
STW Episode #15 – Hunter M. Yoder the Heiden Hexologist
STW Podcasts
STW Episode #14 – Mike Lummio on Bushcraft
STW Episode #13 – John Mosby "Forging the Hero"
Blog, Commentary

Your Bitchy Comment Says Your Life Sucks

I remember when I started leaving bitchy comments and arguing with people on the Internet. It was around the year 2000. I was an administrative assistant at an Architecture firm in San Francisco. It was my job to write letters, schedule appointments and file paperwork. I was paid reasonably well, but I was bored. So I killed time arguing with people on’s comment forums, way back when Mark Zuckerberg was still in high school.

In the years since, I spent the most time commenting negatively on other people’s content when I was least invested in my day to day life. Whether I was doing the bidding of a sociopath in Beverly Hills or following corporate policy in some retail stockroom or doing hours of mindless data entry for a university hospital, I still could tell someone off on some forum or comment thread. I could tell some writer that he or she was an idiot. Sometimes when you’re having a shitty day, it feels good to type a big “fuck you” to some stranger.

When I was most powerless and least influential, the Internet gave me a voice that felt like it mattered. Someone more important and more successful than me would have to listen to me.

Most of that was before smart phones. I actually had to be near a computer to attain bitchy comment catharsis. Now that power is right there in people’s hands all the time. No matter where you are, you get the high of finger-tapping out your sacred opinion — which is similar to voting or praying, except that someone, somewhere may actually give a shit about your Internet comment.

Over the past few years, I’ve reached a point where I get a genuine sense of accomplishment from my work and I basically make my own schedule. I’m not held captive anywhere I don’t want to be. I don’t have anyone micro-managing me or looking over my shoulder — except for the government, in some abstract and unknowable way. Life is sometimes still, “one vile fucking task after another,” as Al Swearengen would say, but I have all of those years of being the low man on the totem pole to put things in perspective.

If I have something I want to say to the world, I write an essay like this one, so other people can leave bitchy comments and tell me I’m an idiot.

And they do. I used to be that guy, spraying his desperate graffiti all over some freshly printed page or photograph — so I know what to expect. It’s part of the job. 

Now that I’m on the other side of it, I often talk about the Internet game with a few other guys who are putting themselves out there, producing content, attracting attention. We all deal with the same shit. We’ve all had real jobs, and we’ve all probably been that guy at some point.

When you press “post,” you brace yourself for the inevitable hatestream and you may even get a chuckle out if it.

Sometimes it gets under your skin — usually when you’re not expecting it or ready for it. But you learn to shake it off, because, again in the words of Swearengen, if you get aggravated, “that’s when the enemy has you by the short hairs.”

To be honest, I wrote this essay because I was still in bed when I read the first pointless bitchy comment of the day, written by some guy who I’ve never heard of, but who obviously cares about me enough to follow me and who wanted me to care about his sacred opinion for just a second. He reminded me of some points I’ve wanted to make for a while. So, thanks, guy whose fake name I don’t remember. You made a difference. 

People who have never been that guy sometimes take comments too seriously. They think they are sincere — that they actually mean something. That someone’s reaching out or even genuinely upset or offended. They don’t see that people are just commenting because commenting on social media is so accessible. They’re just commenting because they had some immediate reaction or half a thought or a feeling about a headline or a phrase and that “triggered” them. They’re just reacting to whatever passes by and comes within reach, and they’ll forget about it when the next thing comes along.

Most people are too lazy to even hit ctrl+tab to send an email. I get maybe one critical email for every few hundred negative comments on social media.

When I talk about this with my friends who have their own followings and their own collections of those fucking guys, what we see is boredom and helplessness. We imagine the lonely bastard who wrote this comment or that comment hunched over his computer in his IKEA-furnished apartment, or dorm room, or maybe his parents house. We think of all of the people standing in line, idling in commuter traffic, taking a mandatory 15 minute break, or sitting alone in some sterile corporate lunchroom.

People used to read magazines in doctor’s offices and employment agencies and Jiffy Lube waiting rooms. Now everybody has a phone, and to pass the time they can engage themselves in some choose-your-own-adventure online soap opera. They can start a Twitter war with some rival contingent or mock some celebrity millionaire. They can jump on some bandwagon and shame an NFL player or a politician or a musician who said the “wrong thing.” They can have a heated debate with some Facebook acquaintance who they don’t even really like, about whatever the media told people to talk about that day.

For the most part, they don’t really care, though. They’re just bored. Modern life is easy and unrewarding for most people. Most jobs are either mind-numbing busywork, or they require 6-to-10 hours of submissive behavior.

“Would you like room for cream?”

“Did you find everything you were looking for today?”

The unemployed have even more time to waste. They can literally troll someone all. damn. day. What else do they have to do?

The last time I left a negative comment on someone else’s profile, it was out of disappointment. A local guy who I thought seemed admirable and interesting, and who I genuinely wanted to meet, started posting a bunch of uninformed opinions that indirectly insulted people who I support or care about. I argued back and forth with him for about half an hour to make sure I wasn’t reading him wrong, and then I just blocked him and wrote him off. I won’t allow myself to waste a lot of time on the enemies of my friends or people who have incompatible values. Making time for friends and allies is challenging enough. Why cultivate relationships with people who aren’t even close to being on the same page? I have plenty of things to do and plenty of other ways to procrastinate.

Most of the comments I write these days are positive. I follow friends and I follow the work of people who are doing things that inspire me in some way. Aside from occasional writing projects where someone asks me to react to someone else’s work, I can’t think of the last time it occurred to me to follow someone whose work I don’t like. I just can’t be bothered.

If you spend time commenting on the work of people who you don’t like, who don’t follow your work or even know who you are — it tells me you don’t have a lot going on.

When I see your bitchy comment, I just figure that you’re bored and your life sucks.

A concept image of an eerie corridor in a prison at night showing jail cells dimly illuminated by various ominous lights and a bunch of cell keys laying ominously on the floor
Blog, Essays, Feature, STW Podcasts

All They Have Is Fear

Progressives use every man’s natural fear of showing fear to manipulate him — inventing fake “phobias” and implying he is afraid of everything they want.  But what men are truly afraid of are the legal, social and financial consequences associated with challenging the progressive agenda. 

To listen to the audio version of this essay as a special STW podcast, scroll to the bottom of this page.


Progressives only have one good trick, and men keep falling for it.

They keep calling you a coward, so that you’ll do or say whatever they want to prove that you are not a coward.

Continue reading


Mishima Tribute 2015

Mishima Tribute 2015
On November 25, 1970, author Yukio Mishima made poetry with a splash of blood by committing harakiri after making a statement urging his people to fight the degradation of their cultural identity and national honor. I took this photo in remembrance the 45th anniversary of his grandest gesture, to acknowledge his continued influence on my own work. No one remembers moderation or half-measures. GO ALL THE WAY.

This photograph was inspired by stills from Mishima’s 1966 short film “Patriotism,” in which he played a soldier who committed harakiri, foreshadowing the method of own death four years prior to his suicide. 


La violence est d’or

Translation by Simon Danjou.

Beaucoup de personnes se réclament de la « non-violence ». Généralement, les gens revendiquent leur « refus » de l’usage de la violence, et la violence est perçue négativement par une majorité. La plupart refusent de faire une différence entre une violence juste et injuste. Certains, particulièrement pédants, s’enorgueillissent d’avoir dépassé la « culture de la violence » de leurs ancêtres. Ils disent que « la violence n’est jamais la réponse », qu’elle « ne résout jamais rien. »

Ils ont tort. Ils sont tous dépendants de la violence, dans leur vie de tous les jours.

Continue reading

tony blauer
STW Podcasts

STW Episode #11 – Tony Blauer

Tony Blauer is the founder and CEO of Blauer Tactical Systems, known worldwide for his SPEAR system.

Topics covered:

  • How people react in sudden violent encounters
  • Preparing yourself to process fear and act during a violent encounter
  • Why all humans are “human weapons systems”
  • Fighting is so natural, even a caveman could do it
  • Taking responsibility for your own survival and the protection of your loved ones


“Outlaw Wolf Fire” by Horseskull is available at Bandcamp

Tony Blauer Tactical Systems

CrossFit Defense


Subscribe to START THE WORLD on iTunes here:

START THE WORLD is also available on Stitcher:

Related posts
All They Have Is Fear
November 28, 2015
Jack Donovan Interviewed by Brett McKay for The Art of Manliness
August 3, 2013
Wolves of Vinland Photo Project by Peter Beste

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
Blog, The Way of Men

Art of Charm Podcast

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 –

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.

Blog, STW Podcasts

STW Podcast Episode #10 – Greg Hamilton

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


Related posts
The Professor in the Cage
April 23, 2015
Women in Combat as Feminist PSYOP
February 4, 2013
Zompocalypse Now
July 8, 2012

On “What is a Rune?”

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.


Related posts
The Conflict Bindrune
May 10, 2016
The Way of Men, Gods and Runes
December 10, 2014

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