As I write this the sky is a flat grey. The last storm has cleared but the midday sun shines weaker and hangs lower every day. The nights are longer and colder. The new life of spring is still months away. Those who have worked hard and prepared themselves will survive to see it. The idle will be carried to their graves. There are few better analogies for the state of the Occident than winter.
Winter is a fitting moment to ponder our own mortality, but meditating on death is something we should do routinely, and incorporate into the rituals of the small and independent Reactionary brotherhoods we are forming.
The Modern view of Death
It seems strange and morbid to contemplate our own death. The modern man does everything he can to deny the truths of the world, and the most pointed of them is that we must all die. The modern man wants to live forever. He wants a long life, free from pain and adversity. He wants the boredom of fairness. Wherever death lurks, the modern man blinks and looks away. Few are the men today who willingly seek out danger and death.
Black Science Guy Neil Degrasse Tyson, in his clumsy and pseudo-spiritual attempt to make science deep and meaningful, explains that we are all made from stars. He misses the point, as autistic atheists are wont to do. This doesn’t explain us, or from where the spark of life originates. We might be made from stars, but we are born from our parents, and they from their parents. Our children are born from us. Our lives are transient, but we are part of something eternal. We belong to something, and it isn’t something abstract like stardust. We are part of a European tradition, a never-ending tapestry, made up of countless strands woven together. Individual strands may have their beginnings and ends, but the tapestry goes on forever.
Look up at the stars, is the modern message, and contemplate your own insignificance. Nothing really matters. Do whatever makes you feel good. Be nice. YOLO. The modern world calls for men who are scared of death because it means they will never do anything dangerous. A man who has freed himself of this fear is capable of disobeying.
Death through the Ages
Go back to the root of the European Tradition and there you find Achilles, supernaturally protected but longing for death and glory. At the height of Achilles’ grief and fury he captures Lycaon, who begs him to spare his life. Achilles reminds him:
‘Come, friend, you too must die. Why moan about it so?
Even Patroclus died, a far, far better man than you.
And look, you see how handsome and powerful I am?
The son of a great man, the mother who gave me life-
A deathless goddess. But even for me, I tell you,
Death and the strong force of fate are waiting.
There will come a dawn or sunset or high noon
When a man will take my life in battle too-
flinging a spear perhaps
Or whipping a deadly arrow off his bow.’
He was proven correct, and if even Achilles could not save himself from death, then how can we? Achilles does not only remind Lycaon of his mortality. The Iliad is a poem, designed to be recited aloud, and Achilles’ message is for the listener as much as it is for the warriors doomed by fate and Homer’s pen. When Achilles says ‘Come, friend, you too must die,’ he is talking to every one of us.
Ever since the fall of Troy, European art and literature has been replete with death, journeys to the underworld and encounters with the dead, right up to the modern day with its fascination with the zombie apocalypse. The European man is at once fascinated and repulsed by death.
Meditation on death was a central pillar of Stoic philosophy. Seneca referred to it as practising one’s death, and said that the man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.
‘What do prison and guards and locked doors mean to him? He has a free way out. There is only one chain that keeps us bound, the love of life, and even if this should not be rejected, it should be reduced so that if circumstances require nothing will hold us back or prevent us from being ready instantly for whatever action is needed.’
Slaves followed triumphant Roman generals on their victory parades. During the cacophony of the crowd the slaves would whisper to the general ‘Memento mori.’ Remember thou must die.
The European Christian tradition is a story of death and resurrection. Medieval churches, once the seat of the local community, were repositories of death. They were places of worship, but also, before we became rootless cosmopolitans, the resting places of generations of family members, where we would visit them, pray for their souls, ask them to pray for us, and be reminded that one day we would join them. Even today, one can still visit the old churches in Europe, and visit the tombs of Christian knights and the earthly remains of Saints and Apostles.
Beneath Paris lies the catacombs, the largest grave in the world. There is an inscribed metal plaque mounted on a wall:
Roughly translated it reads: You are crazy, you who promise yourself a long life, you who cannot count on even a single day.
It comes from the 15th century work The Imitation of Christ, which continues:
‘How many have been deceived and suddenly snatched away! How often have you heard of persons being killed by drownings, by fatal falls from high places, of persons dying at meals, at play, in fires, by the sword, in pestilence, or at the hands of robbers! Death is the end of everyone and the life of man quickly passes away like a shadow.’
It is reminiscent of the great Japanese spiritual guide for warriors, Hagakure (lit. Hidden by Leaves) which, among a treasure trove commentary on honour, the way of the warrior and a lament for the decline of masculine virtue, expounds on the idea on serious and ritualised contemplation of one’s own violent death:
‘Every morning a warrior should recommit himself to death. In morning meditation, see yourself killed in various ways, such as being shredded by arrows, bullets, swords, and spears, being swept away by a tidal wave, burned by fire, struck by lightning, dying in an earthquake, falling from a great height, or succumbing to overwhelming sickness. An elder warrior said, “Once out of your front door you are surrounded by death. Once you leave your gate you are surrounded by enemies.” This saying is not merely a parable, but a way to prepare for your fate.’
Everything that lives must eventually die and become again a part of the earth. The soul leaves the body and what remains will rot away and become food and sustenance for new life. The earth will reclaim its rightful property.
Our bodies are not truly ours, and never were, but instruments loaned to us, and that debt must eventually be repaid. Life and death are one, and it will go on forever until the end of the world and death itself is conquered. Fearing death is as irrational as fearing the sun coming up tomorrow. Violence and war are nothing to be feared, not even a nuclear war. Everything on Earth is trapped in a never-ending cycle of annihilation and rebirth, for it has been ordained so. The Earth demands blood, and men will never tire of obliging her;
Thus, from the maggot up to man, the universal law of the violent destruction of living things is unceasingly fulfilled. The entire earth, perpetually steeped in blood, is nothing but an immense altar on which every living thing must be immolated without end, without restraint, without respite, until the consummation of the world, until the extinction of evil, until the death of death.
Today, soldiers deploying on operations write letters to their family, to be delivered should they be killed in action, and in doing so engage in a private meditation on their death.
Personal Meditation on Death
Develop your own rituals, either singly, or as part of your Reactionary brotherhood. Read the Stoics: Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus, Cato and the other great pre-Enlightenment thinkers. Read and study their thoughts on death. Borrow their mantras: Memento mori. Remember thou must die. Tomorrow I must die. I knew I was mortal. Invent your own.
Meditate on your own inevitable death. We must become comfortable with staring death in the face. It is not supposed to be a pleasant exercise, but an exercise of the Will. Like a muscle, the Will is strengthened by exercise. Meditating on death is an exercise in voluntary hardship. A deliberate decision to deviate from comfort and conformity. Consider it a mental purgatory, a cleansing fire that burns away modern weaknesses from our minds.
Imagine your own death. Imagine being shot, stabbed, beheaded, drowned, burned and suffocated. Cleaved by pole-axe. Trampled under a cavalry charge. Crushed under collapsed buildings. Pulled apart by horses. Imagine grappling with a suicide bomber, scrabbling in the dirt for the trigger, trying to stop him setting off his explosives and not quite making it. Practise your death a million times over.
Capture the details of the scene in your mind’s eye. Picture it as awful and grisly as you can bear. It should be distressing, but watch it unfold impassively. Fire. Dust. Gunfire and the howl of jet engines. Smoke burning your airways. Cold steel puncturing your skin. Your own blood slippery and warm spilling down your skin. Limbs torn off. Explosions. People around you screaming. Your face hitting the cold, hard pavement. Blood running out of your mouth and being washed away by the rain. Your last thoughts of your family. Your adventure ends here.
Imagine further into the future. Your body lies abandoned and unrecovered on the battlefield. The sun and wind scour your skin dry. Crows and feral dogs fight over you. Insects crawl over your skin and flies lay their eggs. Time moves on. The cycle of day and night spins faster and faster. Your remains are scattered by the wind and decompose into the earth. Eventually, there is nothing left of you at all.
This is not an idle daydream. You’re not the hero. Don’t be tempted to save yourself. The objective is to suffer and die and to watch it all without any emotional attachment. Be indifferent to the fate of your mangled body. Let go of the attachment to your physical body, because it was never truly yours. Your thread is over, but the European tradition remains. The tapestry continues to be woven without you, and all the more beautiful for your place in it.
The Rewards of Meditating on Death
Accepting that we must die will give us a greater realisation of the here and now. A greater ability to distinguish between what we can and cannot control. We will have more appreciation for what one already has and less attachment to the futile strivings of the modern world. An awareness that your strength and beauty are fleeting. Use them while you can. Less politics. Less futile distractions. Less pointless facebook arguments with leftists. Less greed, envy and pride. Less wrath, the sin to which most Reactionaries most likely succumb, but at the same time, a reminder that failing to be angry when one has just cause is also a sin.
Meditating on death gives one a mental strength, and from this, a desire to be tested in this world. Cultivate a mindset where one is simultaneously dead and alive. Like the masterless samurai of Japan who felt themselves left behind by an effeminate and honourless society, we too are dead to this world, and surrounded by enemies the moment we step outside our homes. What fear is there to be had in being called racist when one has already died countless times in one’s mind? Talking to that cute girl isn’t the ordeal you think it is.
Yet we are still alive, viscerally so, because by meditating on death we painfully make ourselves aware of the beauty of this life. This one life we have been loaned is a gift, bought at a great price. We should do all we can with it. Meditate on death, then train like a madman. Read, recruit, reproduce, form a brotherhood, make a stand, and do it all before death claims us. We cannot build strong men by neglecting the mind and the will. The rebirth of Europe can only be built on a firm mental and spiritual foundation. We need more than just disgruntled white gym bros. If we are to build a hard, masculine warrior fraternity it will be made up of men who have militant and radical minds.