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Friedrich Nietzsche’s Will to Power

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“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

Friedrich Nietzsche is probably one of the most influential and misunderstood philosophers in history. And sadly, he didn’t even attract much fame until the part of his life where he started to lose his mental faculties and go insane.

In this post I will not cover the entire history of Nietzche or his writings. But I would like to explain one of his most famous concepts, a conception that revolutionized thought on philosophy, religion and politics — his “will to power.”

The will to power describes what Nietzche believed was the main driving force of human life. He did not believe it was a struggle for survival, as philosophers posited in the past. He believed it was the struggle for power — achievement, ambition, and the striving to reach the highest possible position in life. It can be argued that human beings do not wage war or create art or write books merely so they can survive, but the greater reason, is so they can gain and enforce their own power. And this is not only just a struggle in human life, but it is the perennial struggle of nature itself.

Part of the reason why Nietzche is so important, when it comes to the history of thought in Western civilization, is because his works urge people to question what was the accepted morality of the time. Of what actually is morally true, and of what actually is a good pursuit in life.


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Master Morality vs. Slave Morality: A key concept in the works of Nietzche is slave morality and master morality (On the Genealogy of Morality). Master morality values pride and power, while slave morality values things like meekness and humility. Master morality weighs actions on good or bad consequences (i. e., classical virtues and vices, consequentialism), unlike slave morality, which weighs actions on a scale of good or evil intentions (e. g, Christian virtues and vices, Kantian deontology).


Controversy: Friedrich Nietzsche is controversial because the Nazis were great fans of his work. But would he actually have supported them if he was alive in the 1930s?

The exact ideology of Friedrich Nietzsche is difficult at times to pin down. But in the context of the time he was alive, Nietzsche was not an anti-semite. According to Robert Holub, in Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem,  Nietzsche recoiled from the crude excesses of Richard Wagner’s antisemitism and even had extremely positive remarks about the Jewish community that would probably be characterized as a form of racism in modern times (for the use of stereotyping), but would have been considered pro-Jewish at the time.

When Nietzsche referred to the “blond beast at the core of all noble races,” many people believe he was actually talking about lions rather than fair-haired Europeans. After all, check out this quote:

“One cannot fail to see at the bottom of all these noble races the beast of prey, the splendid blond beast, prowling about avidly in search of spoil and victory; this hidden core needs to erupt from time to time, the animal has to get out again and go back to the wilderness: the Roman, Arabian, Germanic, Japanese nobility, the Homeric heroes, the Scandinavian Vikings–they all shared this need.”

There’s not many blond Arab or Japanese folk  — so I think it’s pretty evident he was talking about lions.

One of the reasons why Nietzsche came to be associated with Nazis is because his sister, unlike him, was a protonazi. They even grew apart when she married a former high school teacher who had become a prominent German nationalist and antisemite. Yet in the years when Friedrich Nietzsche started to lose his sanity, his sister became his caretaker, curator and the editor of his manuscripts. She reworked his unpublished writings to fit her own ideology, often in ways contrary to her brother’s stated opinions. And when she died in 1935, Adolf Hitler attended her funeral.


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Nietzsche and Black Power? While many people associate Nietzsche with Hitler, there are very few who would associate him with the Black Power movement in America. Yet Huey P. Newton, one of the key founders of the Black Panther Party, was an avid fan of Nietzsche. He found his writings, The Will to Power and Beyond Good and Evil, especially influential.

Elaine Brown writes that, at Huey’s behest, the Party established a school for party leadership to attempt to acquaint them with broad philosophical ideas:

Now they were wondering about his ideological institute. I saw the questions as the local leadership cadres came trooping to Oakland from as far away as Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago for bi-monthly, two-day learning sessions led by Huey. Where was the stuff about the pigs, they seemed to ask, as we studied with not only Mao and Marx but Aristotle and Plato. Where was the stuff about urban guerrilla warfare? Their expressions conveyed, as Huey led us in discussions of the philosophies of Rousseau and Kant, [sic] Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, about existentialism and determinism and free will. I saw their faces when we examined and questioned the theories of capitalism and socialism and communism. Huey asking whether our systematic use of the tests of dialectical materialism meant anything. If, under a dialectical materialist analysis, nothing “stood outside” of the process, did that negate the process itself, he asked? (Brown 255-56)

The idea of the Will to Power is evident in the Newton’s article “Black capitalist”

When we coined the expression “All power to the people”, we had in mind emphasizing the word “power” for we recognize that the will to power is the basic drive of man. But it is incorrect to seek power over people. We have been subjected to the dehumanizing power of exploitation and racism for hundreds of years; and the Black community has its will to power also. What we seek, however, is not power over people, but the power of control of our own destiny. (Newton 227)

As a Nietzschean, Newton knew that only power could influence change, and direct it along its desired course.

Nietzsche also played a critical role in getting people to question the established norms and morality of their time. In America, when Africans were brought here and enslaved, they were taught Christian morality, and taught to embrace the meekness, humility and pacifism encouraged by what Nietzsche saw as a “slave morality.” Via the Black Power movement, many African Americans started to question those values, and see the pursuit of power as a road to real change.


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Importance in the Pagan Community: The ideas of Nietzsche are obviously of great import to the modern pagan community. He questioned the Judeo-Christian morals of good versus evil that came to define the West. Paganism — in my opinion — is a religion and set of values less concerned with good and evil, and more concerned with virtues like courage, honesty, integrity and the ability to hone one’s inner power though magic or ritual.

Nietzsche is a fascinating character supported by movements on both the left and the right. You can love him or hate him, but you cannot deny the importance of his writings and their effect on history.


QUOTES

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.

Without music, life would be a mistake.

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.


LINKS

Read the Works of Nietzsche Online

An Introduction to Midsummer for Heathens

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The Summer Solstice will be upon us soon. June 21st (in the Northern hemisphere). Midsummer is one of the most important holy days in Heathenry. The time of year when the great sun goddess, Sunna, rides her great chariot to the highest she can manage. When the sun shines upon the Earth like no other time.

During this time, many people from all over the world would celebrate the summer solstice, being the longest day of the year. This was a time of merriment, celebration, trade, prosperity, and for Vikings, a time for raiding.

Read More About Midsummer Here

Varg Vikernes Has Ended Burzum for Good

“Burzum Is My Painful Past in a Reeking Bog”

“Burzum was never my choice of life. I didn’t even want to become a musician.”

 

Varg Vikernes has announced that Burzum is no more after giving away his only copy of the project’s 1992 self-titled debut album.

The disc went to a fella named Nathan B, who beat Varg in a challenge of getting from 0-100 kmh (0-60 mph) in their 4×4 vehicles.

Burzum was active between 1991 and 1999, and then again from 2009 until now. The project has 11 studio albums in its discography, the final of which came out in June 2014 under the title of “The Ways of Yore.”

Watain – Stellarvore (Intense Black Metal)

Genre: Black Metal

Themes: Anti-Cosmic Luciferianism, Death, Darkness, Chaosophy

Location: Sweden

I’m not sure what a “Stellarvore” is, but like a “Carnivore,” I imagine it is some cataclysmic beast that feeds off the stars and destroys the cosmos.

LYRICS:

With the strength of the mountains
Come forth from the North; Agios Daimon!
With the hunger of oceans
Come forth from the West; Agios Daimon!
As fire and flame
Come forth from the South; Agios Daimon!
As thunder and storm
Come forth from the East; Agios Daimon!

In the darkness
In the nothingness of absent light
Where no life force is permitted to exist
From far beyond the borders
Where god not dares
The Serpent gloats in hunger

No star will shine tonight
No star, no matter how bright
Across the firmament goes its flight
A great darkness devouring the light

God of Death. Manifest
God of Doom. Move and appear!

Spread thine countless tentacles
Across the universe
Let them spasm throughout
The labyrinth of trembling stars
Strangle their flickering flames
Eat them whole
Wander ancient Dragon
Across the cursed heavens

LINKS: 

Official Watain Page

Watain Facebook

Encyclopedia Metallum Page

Syrian Metal: Abadie – Deadly Asylum

Genre: Thrash

Themes: Corruption, War

Location: Syria


A metal song that speaks with the tongue of a Syrian child. A rough translation is offered below:

LYRICS IN ENGLISH:
What’s that sound, father?
I’m so afraid!
Don’t be, close your eyes,
I want to go home,
We will, son,
We will,

Hungry,
Cold,
Disgusted,
Filthy and itchy,
But no doubt my filth has more honor than you,
Rulers and politics, the source of defilement,
My house is not the camp,
Give it back,
God have mercy, your test has become long,
You burn me with their fire, where is yours?
Turned the childhood into a curse,
Weak, actively take your decision,
With the creed, they made me homeless,
With the knife, compelled me to it,
Oh, judgment day, arrive!
Blow your horn, Israfil,
Your trumpets await you, Israfil. (The angel in charge of blowing the horn that announces judgment day).
watch me on the screen,
Film my empty dish, sucking my fingers,
My dream is dead on the top of the canons, consolidate me,

*The son*
Father, if I wake up, put me back to sleep.
Don’t wake me up.

*The father*
My heart’s beloved, wake up….wake up.

(Voice of a preacher in the background)

Paganism and War

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“Wherever you know of harm
regard that harm as your own;
give your enemies no peace.”
– Havamal 127

DISCLAIMER: The ideas on this blog do not represent all Paganism, just my own opinions.

First of all when I discuss paganism, I have to make clear that I am talking about the modern practice of Pre-Christian religions. This includes a wide-gamut of practices: Neopaganism, Wicca, Druidry, Asatru, etc. Everyone within these groups has different ideas on what makes a pagan, and some of these people don’t even like being called pagans.

But with that aside, I am going to attempt to tackle an important questions about warfare, pacifism, flower power and so on in the practice of modern day paganism.

Much of the interest in neopaganism got activated in the West a little before the cultural revolution of the 1960s. Wicca was introduced to the public by Gerald Garner in 1954. Other similar traditions started to also go public at that time. And as these traditions grew, they — like any other belief system — came to include many of the popular notions of the era.

Since the cultural revolution of the 1960s took place after the tail end of a massive era of war and violence in the twentieth century (after WWI and WWII), people were understandably sick of violence and embraced ideas of peace. And if peace can be achieved over war, it goes without saying that peace is a good solution.

But is pacifism always the answer? Does it represent some eternal truth? If one thinks of paganism as the ideals inspired by the Vikings, the Celts, the Greeks, the Romans, the Hindus — none of these civilizations were pacifistic by any means.  The Bhagavad gita was told in the middle of a battlefield. (Not saying all pagans are inspired by Hinduism, but its concepts of Dharma and Karma are certainly key concepts for most). But I’ve heard Westerners try to rationalize this away by saying, “Oh but it was a metaphorical battlefield!” only for Indian Hindus to tell me…”Uh yeah, our Gods fought wars because sometimes war is necessary to defeat evil.”

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If anything, some of the ideas of pacifism incorporated into the writings and teachings on modern day paganism may even be influenced by Christianity. And it’s impossible for anyone in a Western culture not to be influenced by Christianity, since that has been the predominant cultural lens for the past thousand or so years. (Not that the broad practice of Christianity has been pacifistic in any means in the West considering the history of genocide, witch hunts, colonialism, inquisition, and so on, but that there are many pacifistic teachings from Jesus in the Bible).

So this article is my response to certain voices in the pagan community who say that the pre-christian world was predominantly peaceful. Or that the ancient Gods value peace above all. Or the Californication of both pre-christian and Eastern religions. There is an attempt to make these views and practices non-threatening, so people will buy into them (literally and figuratively).

First of all, the pre-christian world was not predominantly peaceful. As stated above, the Celts, the Norse, the Romans, these were cultures that had wars, celebrated warriors, told tales of brave warriors, and even had entire gods and goddesses dedicate to war. Part of the reason why the Roman Empire collapsed is because they were having too many damn wars.

In Lawrence Keeley’s War Before Civilization,  a book written by a man who lived with modern tribal people, and studied ancient tribes, he discusses how ancient times may have actually been even more violent than today, stating that with tribal people, a greater percentage of their populations participated and died from violence than people do today. Certainly with what the news may show about terrorism and school shootings people may think, “Oh what violent times we live in.” But at least in Europe and the United States, less than 5% of male deaths are caused by warfare. Compare that number to the Jivaro tribe where the percentage is something like 60%.

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Human sacrifice was also practiced in ancient times, as I detail in my article about that topic. There is plenty of proof for this. Written accounts. Human skeletons found with the bones of animal sacrifices. Tales of human sacrifice in ancient myths. Historical accounts. Sure, human sacrifice may have been used as a tool of the Christians to smear non-christian people. But the idea that this NEVER happened and is some evil lie propagated by the haters is laughable.

I have read in multiple neopagan sources that paganism is a peaceful religion, based on peaceful cultures in the ancient world where everyone apparently celebrated flower power. But this is a sweeping generalization that oversimplifies a group of people, deletes a large chunk of their history and ritualistic practice, and more than that — is a glaring misunderstanding of basic human nature.

Humans at our core are aggressive and territorial beings. Tell me you’re not territorial when you get a bug infestation in your house and decide to kill hundreds of living creatures for the mere crime of being in your space (even when they’re doing nothing harmful to you).

As a species, we also bare a strong genetic resemblance to chimpanzees, which are one of the most aggressive primates.

The idea that humans weren’t aggressive or territorial until Christianity came along is fallacious.

Like any truth, it is important to understand that aggression is a normal part of human behavior, and should be accepted as such.

Does that mean that it’s okay for people to go around and pick fights and kill each other for no reason? No. Of course, peace and diplomacy should always be the first course of action, with violence being the very last. 

But in order to control aggression, the first step is to accept that we have it. In order to control our violence, we must accept that we are violent beings.

And any real spiritual practice that is worth its salt must encompass all aspects of humanity. Peace. Warfare. The Feminine. The Masculine. Earth. Air. Fire. Water. And so on and so forth.

Many ancient traditions had a cult of the warrior, religious practices for warriors, rites of manhood that emphasized learning how to fight, protecting oneself and enduring suffering (as well as rites for women too).  Ignoring that violence exists doesn’t protect one from it. It just makes one weak when the time comes to defend oneself. Modern day practices like self-defense and martial arts actually give people discipline, and make them less violent overall because they learn to control themselves and their own aggression.

And some even say that metal-heads are actually less violent and more well-adjusted because they listen to music that explores themes of violence, aggression and warfare.

So I’ll try to post some articles and sources here that can better understand traditions of warriors in the ancient world.


 ONLINE SACRED TEXTS

Hinduism

Norse Sagas

Celtic Folklore

 

VIOLENCE IN THE ANCIENT WORLD

List of War Deities

Human Sacrifice in the Ancient World (Metal-Gaia)

Social Law vs. Natural Law: Wake up, you’re in the jungle baby (Meta-Gaia)

The Violent World of the Primeval Past

Brutal Visions of the Primeval Past

Buddhism and War

War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (Book)

 

METAL !!!

 

Nile – Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten (Ancient Egyptian Death Metal)

Genre: Brutal, technical death metal

Location: United States

Themes: Ancient Egyptian Mythology

I love this song because it’s a great embodiment of what the band Nile does well, create an expansive, over-the-top soundscape with an impossible to remember title that fuses cinematic, Ancient Egyptian-esque instrumentals with the mind drilling riffs of modern death metal. It’s beautiful.  If I were summoning Cthulhu, I’d want to do it to this.

This is the 10th and last track from the album Annihilation of the Wicked.

LYRICS

I Hath Dreamed Black and Grim, Desolate Visions
Of the Pre-Human Serpent Folk and Communed with Long-dead Reptiles.
Silently Watching Through the Ages in Cold, Curious Apathy.
The Unending Sorrows and Suffering of an Abysmal Humankind.

I Dare Not Again Surrender to the Deep Sleep Which Ever Beckons Me.
Lest I in Dread.
Shudder at the Nameless Things.
That May at this Very Moment.
Be Crawling and Lurking.
At the Slimy Edges of My Conciousness.
Slithering Forth from the Bowels of Their Infernal Pits.
Worshipping Their Ancient Stone Idols and Carving Their Own Detestable Likenesses On Subterranean Obelisks of Blood-soaked Granite.

I Await the Day When the Claws of Doom Shall Rise.
To Drag Down in Their Reeking Talons the Weary and Hopeless Remnants of a Jaded, Decayed, War-despairing Mankind.
Of a Day When the Earth Shall Open Wide and the Black, Bottomless, Yawning Abyss Engulfs the Arrogant Civilizations of Man.
Chthonic Retribution Shall Ascend.
Amidst Universal Pandemonium and Those Who Slither and Crawl Shall Rise Again Once More to Inherit the Earth.