All Saints Church Bakewell Cross Pagan

The Pagan Cross and Codes of Honour

In the heart of England’s Peak District there is an old church on a hill that overlooks the surrounding town of Bakewell. The church was built in the twelfth century to Norman design, but there is something in the churchyard which is even older.

An ancient stone cross stands among the graves, eight foot tall and blackened and worn by the ages. Despite the weathering, the Anglo-Saxon carvings across its surface are still easily visible. It is at least a thousand years old, and quite possible centuries older than that. This ancient monument is a signpost pointing back in time, and into the future, for those who can find the way.

I visited the monument once on a late Spring morning. The sky was a clear, deep blue and the sun was high in the sky. The church is up on a steep hill and there was a fresh wind blowing across the churchyard. I looked at the carved stone cross and thought about the meaning of it all, what it meant to me. Despite it being a cross, the carvings were unmistakably pagan.

Running up the stone cross was a swirling, stylised Yggdrasil world-tree carving, with Ratatosk the squirrel clutching an acorn. The most incontrovertible image of all was a figure riding an eight-legged horse. This was no man. The eight-legged horse was Sleipnir and the figure upon it was Woden.

I dislike the modern Christian with his pathological altruism as much as I do the militant atheist and those who roleplay at Paganism because of their loathing of religion – the men who grow beards and fancy themselves vikingr, but who cannot do a single pull up and would surrender their home without a fight. I admire the Pagan who truly believes his ancestor cult and subscribes to the way of life and does so without any animosity towards traditional Christianity. Europe needs a reconciliation between Christians and the pre-Christian pagans, and here standing before me was a monument from the time the two co-existed.

Christianity is often decried as a Middle Eastern mythology incompatible with the European man and culture but Christianity was developed in the Hellenic and Roman worlds by Indo-Europeans. It subsumed the hero and mystery cults of the ancient world. As it spread north through Europe it was influenced by the local Celtic, Germanic and Slavic warrior and fertility cults. Many lament the Christianisation of the Indo-European world, but Christianity in turn became more Indo-European.

In the 5th century the Roman Empire was in its death throes and the legions were recalled from the province of Britannia to protect the eternal city of Rome.  This instigated the migration of Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, to Britannia. First as mercenaries and eventually as invaders and occupiers.

This Germanic warrior culture brought with them their own language, their own alphabet and their own gods and mysteries. Christianity was swept aside and forgotten and the early Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were Pagan and remained so until Christianity was eventually reintroduced a few centuries later.

It was in this era that an Anglo-Saxon stonemason carved this Christian cross with the figure of an Anglo-Saxon god atop the pagan world. This religion of the Anglo-Saxon was not the modern Christianity which plagues us today, perverted for the selfish ends of an obscure and select few. This was a violent, Germanic religion for a violent, Germanic world. The old religion was not forgotten. The old religion and way of life was the core around which an exoteric religion was bound in order to transmit it into the future. This was a religion for warriors, loyal to the ancient bonds of blood and kin, honour and sharing an ultimate destiny.

This is a glimpse into the worldview of our ancestors. If we could travel back in time and meet him, how would the stonemason explain this Pagan-Christian monument? I’d wager that the Anglo-Saxons had neither need nor desire to explain themselves. It was an expression of themselves and their religion. It simply was, and needed no further explanation to outsiders. This is not the first time that seemingly incompatible ideas are bound together and it still goes on today in anti-modern societies.

Tradition in the Hindu Kush

The Pashtun tribes of Afghanistan and Pakistan are Muslim but their identity as Pashtun predates their faith and takes precedence. They were Pashtun for millennia before they became Muslim, and they will always remain as Pashtun no matter what happens to their faith. They live according to the Pashtunwali. It is a code of honour, an ancient way of life and is central to their identity and worldview.

The Pashtunwali:

  1. Melmastia (hospitality) – Showing hospitality and profound respect to all visitors, regardless of race, religion, national affiliation or economic status and doing so without any hope of remuneration or favour. Pashtuns will go to great lengths to show their hospitality.
  2. Nanawatai (asylum) – Derived from the verb meaning to go in, this refers to the protection given to a person against his enemies. People are protected at all costs; even those running from the law must be given refuge until the situation can be clarified. Nanawatai can also be used when the vanquished party in a dispute is prepared to go in to the house of the victors and ask for their forgiveness: this is a peculiar form of “chivalrous” surrender, in which an enemy seeks “sanctuary” at the house of their foe. A notable example is that of Navy Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell, the sole survivor of a US Navy SEAL team ambushed by Taliban fighters. Wounded, he evaded the enemy and was aided by members of the Sabray tribe who took him to their village. The tribal chief protected him, fending off attacking tribes until word was sent to nearby US forces.
  3. Nyaw aw Badal (justice and revenge) – To seek justice or take revenge against the wrongdoer. No time limit restricts the period in which revenge can be taken. Justice in Pashtun lore needs elaborating: even a mere taunt counts as an insult which usually can only be redressed by shedding the taunter’s blood. If he is out of reach, his closest male relation must suffer the penalty instead. Badal may lead to blood feuds that can last generations and involve whole tribes with the loss of hundreds of lives. Normally blood feuds in this male-dominated society are settled in a number of ways.
  4. Turah (bravery) – A Pashtun must defend his land, property, and family from incursions. He should always stand bravely against tyranny and be able to defend the honour of his name. Death can follow if anyone offends this principle.
  5. Sabat (loyalty) – Pashtuns owe loyalty to their family, friends and tribe members. Pashtuns can never become disloyal as this would be a matter of shame for their families and themselves.
  6. Khegara/Shegara (righteousness) – A Pashtun must always strive for good in thought, word, and deed. Pashtuns must behave respectfully to people, to animals, and to the environment around them. Pollution of the environment or its destruction is against the Pashtunwali.
  7. Groh (faith) – contains wider notion of Trust or Faith in God. The notion of trusting in one Creator generally comports to the Islamic idea of belief in only one God.
  8. Pat, Wyaar aw Meraana (respect, pride and courage) – Pashtuns must demonstrate courage. Their pride, has great importance in Pashtun society and must be preserved. They must respect themselves and others in order to be able to do so, especially those they do not know. Respect begins at home, among family members and relatives. If one does not have these qualities they are not considered worthy of being a Pashtun.
  9. Naamus (protection of women) – A Pashtun must defend the honour of women at all costs and must protect them from vocal and physical harm.
  10. Nang (honour) – a Pashtun must defend the weak around him.
  11. Hewaad (country) – a Pashtun is obliged to protect the land of the Pashtuns. Defence of nation means the defence of Pashtun culture, countrymen, and of the self. This principle is also interconnected to another principle denoting the attachment a Pashtun feels with his land.

The Pashtunwali code often conflicts with the Qur’an and Sharia law. How do they reconcile this seemingly incompatible syncretism? Does this make them bad Muslims? Is it heresy?

Where there is conflict or doubt between Pashtunwali and Sharia, they follow their Pashtun roots. Their blood and identity is their deeper, older religion which identifies them and guides their behaviour according to the wishes of their ancestors, and the exoteric Islamic religion is bent around this to fit. They feel no need to engage in exhaustive philosophies to reconcile these conflicting worldviews. It’s neither heresy nor apostasy. They do not care to explain it. It’s simply the way.

They live by this code, and reading through this list there are many similarities to the lost way of life of the Anglo-Saxon. It is easy to criticise cultures foreign to ourselves. It’s easy to dismiss the Pashtun tribes as primitive and backward people but these are people who live by a noble code and they are thriving in a hostile, violent world. Our society is as peaceful as human civilisation has ever been, yet we have no code of honour and we are dying. Here we begin to see what is missing from our own culture, what we once had, and what we should seek to cultivate again within ourselves.

A Code for the European Warrior Cult

This stone cross with its pagan iconography is the physical manifestation of our ancestors doing the very same thing. The Ango-Saxon code of honour and way of life carved into the cross of the new esoteric religion. They forged their religion into a form that conformed to their Germanic pagan worldview. Asking an Anglo-Saxon to justify the pagan iconography on the Bakewell cross would have been as futile as asking a Pashtun tribesman to explain his reconciliation between the Pashtunwali and Sharia. It is simply the way, and modern man is far from the truth. The views of outsiders simply do not count.

A warrior order for the Age of Iron should be inspired by this to seek a defining and unifying worldview for itself. A new outlook on identity, religion and Nature. At its core, the truth of the universe, the Creator, the Sun, but also carrying with it an unbreakable tribal identity and a code of loyalty and honour. We need to violently tear ourselves away from our 21st century thinking and approach things in a simpler, more primal way that is more connected to our roots, the people and the soil. Europe is our holy land. We had it once and we shall have it again.

If that causes us to be condemned as bad by the modern Christian then so be it. The modern Christian is lost. Weak-minded, fearful and pathologically altruistic to the detriment of his own people. The Bakewell stonemason would have nothing but contempt for the modern Christian and would not seek his approval. To be condemned by these people would be a blessing and a liberation. Modern Christianity has become soft precisely in a time when we need a harder and more heroic pursuit of our destiny.

Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, the fourth century theologian once said ‘The Son of God became man so that we might become God.’ Modern Christians will perform all sorts of mental gymnastics in order to analyse and explain this to a twenty-first century audience but to the proud warrior-cult of the Anglo-Saxons this would have made perfect sense. To a nation that revered warrior-kings and heroes like Beowulf, a people who claimed the divine blood of Woden, a nation that praised the morning Sun, to these men the idea of the Sun manifested on earth in order for man to achieve his destiny requires no convoluted thinking to accept. It is simply the way.

Science and Fate

After all, religion is man’s attempt to resolve the truth of the universe and our relationship with it into something he can understand. Words are fine for the known, physical world and our mundane, earthly business. When we begin to grapple with the deeper mysteries of the universe language becomes a clumsy, primitive tool. Words change over time, meanings become distorted, exoteric religions become perverted. When language fails, symbol and ritual become better transmitters of truth. Carve a message into stone and it will remain for thousands of years.

As astute human minds delve deeper into the nature of universe, the view of time as linear is giving way to the idea that time is instead an interconnected series of events and that all times, past, present and future, already exist simultaneously. After thousands of years of scientific advancement we are closing in on something for which the Anglo-Saxons implicitly understood and explained with a single, simple word. Wyrd. An ancient concept that was closer to Nature than anybody today ever suspected. Our ancestors were right.

Gæð a wyrd swa hio scel.

4 thoughts on “The Pagan Cross and Codes of Honour”

  1. That is one of the most interesting articles I have read in a while – including the links (I have theories of my own about time and what it is we are all doing here).

    I agree with the philosophies and teachings of honor and this whole article fits nicely with my ideas of modern tribal cultures – Honor is something that is very much needed amongst the modern man. If we had all been raised with a strict code of honor within our respective cultures we might not have ended up with the mess we have now – an honor system would keep us on our best behavior or face a beating from our clan (family), and we would have kept better watch over our women that they do nothing to dishonor not only our families but our people as a whole… I do understand the honor codes of the Middle East and it is something to consider in rebuilding our societies…

    I also agree with you Simon, on finding a way to have us return to the roots of our cultures and finding ways to reconcile them with our Christian beliefs… I know that the white races had their ancient beliefs trampled on by the growing church in Europe and they were pervert with time… but we might all be tougher and more spiritual today had they survived intact to be passed down. In Latin America, including my home country of Mexico, we have retained our folklore and indigenous beliefs – we still go to the healers and witch doctors to cleanse the soul and exercise what demons may linger about- though we are Christians… we celebrate the day of the dead, and we use many images of the saints for various non Christian rituals… if you have ever been to a Latin owned business or restaurant, and bar and seen an image of a saint surrounded by candles and rosaries, on an alter somewhere – that would be one of those rituals… of course many of the customs vanished with the expanding empires of Europe and the church… but I do believe that what has remained has kept the Indians on a higher spiritual plain than the rest of us… a plain that we would all be at – my belief – had the European traditions been preserved. I am not putting down the teachings of my faith – I am glad for it – but in these times… the Catholic church is failing the needs of men and it loses more and more men, and I believe it is for lack of masculine rituals and pagan tribal traditions.

  2. Tax exempt status creates a leash that runs from the collar of the cardinal to the hand of the government.

    The clergy will perpetually command their flock to be utterly obedient to the state, no matter the spiritual cost.

    1. Wombat,

      Only when church and state are separate. When the King truly was the head of the nation and the church this didn’t happen.

  3. I have not articulated my thoughts as concisely as you have, author. Bushido as my deepest value combines synergistically with non-theistic earth based Celtic paganism. Individual liberty is my liege. I admire what little I previously knew about the Pashtun honor code, thank you for enlightening me. You may find helpful Dr. Bill Warner’s site,
    Center for the Study of Political Islam, at http://www.CSPIpublishing.com. It was not Germanic barbarians, but Jihad sweeping out of Arabia, that finished off the moribund Roman Empire. I call your attention to, “Why We Are Afraid,” which is necessary if one is to understand the greatest threat to individual liberty today.

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