Latest Revison 9/21/2020
Based on a paper delivered at “Paganism and its Discontents,” March 15, 2019. Cherry Hill Seminary, University of North Carolina
The American Heathen community is deeply divided about issues of race, ethnicity, and the political values emerging from their implications. Those considering themselves a part of th Pagan Rightwing often endorse doctrines of racial purity and exclusivism. Other Heathens and American NeoPagans in general accept the values of equal respect for all individuals, and wonder why any human being would be attracted to ways of thought associated with the moral and political horror that was Nazi Germany. And how can such views be associated with NeoPaganism?
Answering these questions begins by recognizing the NeoPagan revival rooted in post war England and the Countercultural United States was not the first such revival. The rise of German NeoPaganism began around 1900 and lasted well into the first third of the 20th century, until it was suppressed by the Nazis. Many of the cultural themes that arose when the counter-culture blossomed in America, had been prominent in Germany at the time. There was a strong movement to reconnect with nature, and a concern with the damage modern industrialization was doing to the natural world. The rise of alternative communities, organic food, naturism, new spiritual movements, and much else that would be familiar themes in the 1960s and 70s blossomed then as well. The Monte Verità institute in Ascona, Switzerland, was in many ways analogous to the Esalen Institute. And there seems to have been an important connection between young counter cultural Germans immigrating to the U.S. and the later rise of America’s own counter culture. 
During this period many of the same themes took shape in England as well, though explicit Pagan theme were not as visible. Anyone knowledgeable about the history of Wicca knows that naturism played an important role for connecting many who were to become our ancestors. In both countries there was a fascination with the real and supposed virtues of pre-capitalistic times, and with folk lore as evidence of those times.
And yet, as we know, things turned out very differently in England than in Germany. A major reason is the concept of the Volk.
German NeoPaganism’s rise is linked with the growing importance of the Volk as a term popular in Germany of the time. We encounter it most often today when thinking of the Volkswagen, the “People’s car.” But in this context the term has lost its meaning from those times. This word is commonly understood as encompassing the people of a particular culture and place, but it meant much more than that.
The term originally arose in Germany in the work of Georg Gottfried Herder (1744-1803). While Herder was an Enlightenment philosopher who supported the French Revolution, and supported equality, he understood humanity in more concrete ways than its dominant emphasis on abstract reason and universal individual rights. Herder viewed people and their cultures as immersed within and powerfully shaped by their linguistic and natural contexts, with each pure culture forming a kind of collective presence differentiating it from its neighbors. In doing so, he laid the groundwork for the Romantic reaction against the Enlightenment that followed.
Herder argued language provided the primary key to understanding humans. Importantly, language does not focus on the individual, but on the group speaking it. We think with language but we do not create it. We inherit it. Importantly, our thinking is shaped by its qualities, including the relationships it makes possible. For Herder two conclusions arose. First, the actual boundaries of a particular society were determined by its language, not by its political borders. He named this community the Volk. Second, within this linguistic group, all were equal. Thus, the Volk provided the context within which the individuals within it could develop and express their creativity and individuality.
Herder argued every linguistic group had its own excellences shaped and maintained by its language community, and none could be said to be intrinsically superior to others. Individuals within a Volk expressed these qualities, each in their own way. Herder thereby sought to meld the Enlightenment’s liberating principles with recognizing and honoring the concrete differences between different peoples. Sadly, many later developments in völkisch thought failed to honor Herder’s hopes.
For Herder the Volk was also intimately connected with the land on which they lived, and the culture that characterized a people reflected its influence. As he put it
The structure of the earth, in its natural variety and diversity . . . Seas, mountain ranges and rivers are the most natural boundaries not only of lands but also of peoples, customs, languages and empires, and they have been, even in the greatest revolutions in human affairs, the directing lines or limits of world history.
Herder was hardly unique in this insight, for observations about the relationship of character to geography extended back to Classical times in the West. However, Herder carried the argument farther than had previously been the case, ultimately developing an organic theory of a people. Importantly for my argument to come, while important, the land primarily provided a boundary defining a Volk’s natural territory, as well as influencing its language. The Inuit have many different words for snow, and most English speakers have one. They therefore see differences in snow that we cannot. In this sense they would be at home in lands where snow is important, and not, for example, in Florida. He explained
Has a people anything dearer than the speech of its fathers? In its speech resides its whole thought-domain, its tradition, history, religion, and basis of life, all its heart and soul. To deprive a people of its speech is to deprive it of its one eternal good…. As God tolerates all the different languages in the world, so also should a ruler not only tolerate but honor the various languages of his peoples…. The best culture of a people cannot be expressed through a foreign language; it thrives on the soil of a nation most beautifully, and, I may say, it thrives only by means of the nation’s inherited and inheritable dialect. With language is created the heart of a people; and is it not a high concern, amongst so many peoples—Hungarians, Slavs, Rumanians, etc.—to plant seeds of well-being for the far future and in the way that is dearest and most appropriate to them? . . .
The savage who loves himself, his wife, and his child with quiet joy and glows with limited activity for his tribe as for his own life is, it seems to me, a more genuine being than that cultured shade who is enchanted by the shadow of his whole species….
Every genuine culture exemplified a Volk, and so Herder was no apologist for one people’s subjugation of another. On the other hand, he also believed in racial differences. A Volk was a kind of organism needing to maintain boundaries, on pain of illness if it failed. Jews were a genuine Volk, but one too different to coexist easily within the German Volk. Herder’s distinctions would bear poisonous fruit when adapted to Nazi priorities, and those priorities arose from Germany’s unique place in the rise of modern European nations.
Völkish thought and German NeoPaganism
Germany was the last of the major European nations to obtain political unity, and for a long time had served as a battle ground between stronger powers. However, in 1871, except for the part that remained in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Germany was unified under Prussian domination. While völkisch thought had by then attained prominence in the country as a symbol for Germans as a people, this forced union under Prussian rule had little connection to it. The nation’s subsequent rapid industrialization and urbanization profoundly changed the cultural and natural environment for many Germans, as a largely rural people was becoming one of the world’s economic and military powerhouses. But success in traditional power politics was experienced as at cross purposes to völkisch identity.
The völkisch concept offered a powerful tool for criticizing this rapid modernization, growing rootlessness, and increasing reduction of everything once considered intrinsically valuable to its money price. The values most rewarded by rapid industrialization and urbanization were largely instrumental, and impersonal, whereas those of the Volk arose from the soul of a people. In George Mosse’s summary of this movement, such people could find
Inner correspondence with nature, a correspondence he shared with his Volk. In this way the individual linked himself with every other member of the Volk in a common feeling of belonging. Yet . . . the Volk did not have universal dimensions, but was limited to a particular national unit. . . . only [Nature’s] regional manifestations gave the Volk its character, potential, and unity. Nature was defined as landscape…
The Volk was a conservative idea, but not in the American sense. Unlike traditional American conservatism, the German right was neither pro-capitalist nor individualistic. Instead it looked backwards, into history, to discern the formative influences that gave the Volk its character, and sought to strengthen it. They found this inspiration in the hierarchical societies of Germany’s pre-capitalist past, a past that, in conjunction with the German land, gave depth and substance to the German Volk as a distinct people.
German NeoPaganism found itself at home in this outlook. German Neopagans looked to pre-Christian German religion to uncover the deepest genius of the German Volk. It’s focus was primarily solar, with the sun the symbol of life. For many, its rays incorporated Geist with the material world. Solar ceremonies such as the Summer Solstice were important annual observances.
Despite the feminine “die” preceding it, rather than the masculine “der,” the sun was considered masculine, symbolizing the Aryan male. The moon symbolized the female, and was illuminated by reflected light from the sun rather than having a light of its own. The moon’s lesser status was also demonstrated when many Germans referred to Jews as “moon people.” Most völkisch Germans were also critical of feminism and the power of the feminine, although there were exceptions such as Ludwig Klages and Rudolff von Sebottendorf.
German NeoPaganism did not develop into Nazism, and NeoPagan groups (other than practices associated with Himmler and the SS) were eventually suppressed by the Nazi regime. However there were important commonalities. Both tended to share a view of the Deutsche Volk as a kind of holistic unity being inexorably dissolved by urban cosmopolitanism values alien to völkisch traditions, resulting in a kind of alienated homelessness felt by many Germans of the time. On the other hand, the Nazi appropriation of German NeoPagan insights transformed it in increasingly ‘monotheistic’ directions, a transformation made easier by a religious dualism that elevated light and the masculine above all else. The abundance of deities honored in contemporary NeoPagan traditions seems to have been largely absent.
The German völkisch movement viewed people in racial terms, as had Herder. This perspective could take different forms. Consider the status of Jews. For centuries Jews had been discriminated against because they were somehow connected to Christ’s death. This attitude was nothing new.
But two new kinds of anti-Semitism arose among Germans concerned about the fate of the Volk. One, was purely cultural. Jewish culture seemed to flourish in a cosmopolitan capitalist environment as well as within the left-wing cosmopolitan alternative promoted by many socialists and communists. In both cases Jewish culture was viewed as urban, calculative, and divorced from the land. As such it was deeply antithetical to that of the German Volk. Völkisch Germans discussed whether it was possible for any Jew to become a member of the Volk. Some said yes, many said no.
Interestingly, many Zionists of this period shared this general outlook. Even though many were secular rather than religious, they wished to return to the land that gave their culture birth. Their view was that Jewish culture was rooted in the land of Palestine, and so should return there to be truly healthy. As Mosse observed “certain concepts of Jewish nationhood were greatly indebted to the Germanic ideals….”
The Nazi alternative was biological rather than culturally racial. In the final analysis biological race mattered most (this view justified the concept Lebensraum, which stood at cross purposes to traditional völkisch thought which identified a people with a place). Therefore, Jews could never be members of the German Volk, and would always be destructively alien to it. Nazi racism was so strong that many rejected Darwinian evolution because it suggested Aryans and Jews came from a common source. On the other hand, Nazis endorsed that strand of ‘social Darwinism’ (which Darwin never had) that claimed cultures survived and grew by out competing other cultures. In doing so they rejected Herder’s argument for the value of every volk. But (and this will be important in my description of an alternative) cultural fitness was biological, not cultural.
Hierarchy and General Will
Herder’s initial conception had treated all members of a Volk as equal, as demonstrated by his support for the French Revolution’s anti-aristocratic ideals. However, his emphasis on how the Volk grew from its historical roots as well as his hostility to urban culture ultimately pushed völkisch thought in a different direction. Herder himself looked to the Middle Ages as in many ways an expression of the German Volk, and the Middle Ages were deeply hierarchical. Over time, Herder’s more equalitarian emphasis dissolved into a more hierarchical vision of völkisch society rejecting any form of parliamentary government as liberal and cosmopolitan. An idealized commitment to the superiority of aristocrats over the people, as characterized the Middle Ages, prevented most völkisch movements from becoming powerful political forces, but it also undermined the country’s surviving democratic values, creating a kind of political vacuum that, if filled, could be very powerful.
National Socialism filled this vacuum. The Nazis overcame the traditional völkisch right by rejecting the ideal of a medieval culture led by a small number of aristocrats, and instead, built a mass movement that eventually propelled them to power. By incorporating völkisch values into mass politics while rejecting parliamentarianism, the vision of a völkisch nation shifted from looking to the past for a model to looking to a mass movement whose leader could speak for the Volk in its entirety. If the spirit of the Volk existed independently from individual members, it was desirable to elevate those who most purely embodied it to leadership. From this outlook came the Führerprinzip.
Modern American NeoVolkish movements
We see similar degenerate patterns in this transformation of völkisch thought in America today with the rise of groups claiming to be “Neo-Volkish.” They affirm what they call “white identity,” opposing it to liberalism, multiculturalism, multiracialism, and non-European immigration. Sometimes they employ the term “ethno-pluralism” to obscure their racial bias under a pseudo völkisch patina. In their NeoPagan guise they generally claim to honor the Norse Gods, as reinterpreted and reconstructed in racial terms. They claim to be seeking to re-establish a ‘pure’ culture to replace the polyglot multicultural mix that is modern America and much of Western Europe. In this, they easily meld with that part of the American right wing that sees itself as defending ‘Western Civilization’ from degradation by other cultures. Consequently, people’s value ultimately derives from their contribution to the well-being of their culture.
Here, in northern New Mexico, I deeply respect traditional Tewa Pueblo or Navajo Indians who speak about the sacredness of place, and how their identity as a people is tied up with it. Their culture and language has been shaped by the land where their ancestors lived and died, their spirituality finds meaning in it, and they have lived within and absorbed its energies most or all of their lives. They strongly resemble Herder’s ideal Volk.
But there is something pathetic and absurd about urbanites and suburbanites lacking deep experience of the land wherein they live, parading about chanting “Blood and soil,” as they did in Charlottesville. If we set aside the thuggish aspects of their behavior, they are like people who took a New Age weekend workshop on shamanism now describing themselves as shamans, or people who read a book on quantum physics setting themselves up as authorities on the subject.
In practice their emphasis is not the soil. Nor is it coming from any significant awareness of the richness of American, English, or European cultural history. ‘Blood’ is what matters.
And it is an ignorant understanding of ‘blood.’ ‘White nationalists’ treat a blending of Britons, Scandinavians, Poles, Germans, Italians, Irish, Greeks, Spanish, and on and on as a coherent racial unity. It was not that long ago that the Irish were rejected by many white Americans as racially inferior. Now some of the most rabid White nationalists are Irish. Ironically, the Nazis and their racial sympathizers rejecteda Whiter-than-now America as a “mongrel” culture of little value.
But where, then, is the ideal other than in their fevered dreams? Today, some racist American Heathens even consider the Vikings as too cosmopolitan! In the distant past our ancestral homo sapiens sapiens interbred with homo neanderthals and homo denisovans. The purest homo sapiens are found in parts of Africa.
As a young man, Benjamin Franklin opposed Germans immigrating to the colony of Pennsylvania because they were not White. Some were, he granted, but most were “swarthy,” and he wanted to preserve Pennsylvania for the White and the Red. Later, in the early 1900s Europeans carefully distinguished between various European ‘races’ such as Celtic, Teutonic, Anglo-Saxon, Mediterranean, Slavic, and so on. To speak of white Americans today is an extraordinary testimony to the mutability of ‘race,’ as increasingly different cultures and ethnicities are integrated into it, in many cases forgetting their roots as they do so.
To this point one might wonder why I have spent so much effort trying to go into details about a belief that seemingly ended in so much suffering and degenerate thinking.
NeoPaganism is also a rejection of the secular individualism and treating the world as consisting only of resources valued in terms of their utility that Herder and his descendants fought against. The Celtic revival that inspired so much of modern NeoPaganism was strongly völkisch in its focus. Further, we find common cause with many of the world’s indigenous peoples whose conception of themselves and their world is similar to völkisch thought. Many Native American tribes similarly emphasize they are one with their ancestral lands. We NeoPagans do not look backwards to Medieval times, for there was no Medieval America, but many of us look back towards even earlier times, and attempt to harmonize our distant ancestors’ experience of a living world with our own very modern lives. When I read völkisch writers bemoaning the harsh emptiness of much of the urban world, the sterility of its industrial agriculture, and the destruction of natural ecosystems to make a quick buck, I cannot help but be sympathetic. And more than sympathetic.
Something important is missing from the modern secular world view and the way of life it reinforces. Consider, for example, economist Martin Krieger’s suggestion that if we did a sufficiently good job of replacing real trees with plastic ones, and it was cheaper to do so than maintaining a living wilderness, we should do so. “Recreation” would be the same no matter what the ‘trees’ might be. This suggestion captures the core of the attitude so many of us reject.
We prove Krieger’s blindness by seeking to visit places not yet transformed iby the economists’ vision of ‘efficiency.’ Europeans love to visit American wilderness and Americans love to visit old European towns with their ancient architecture. Why do people like to visit towns like Taos, New Mexico, or Camden, Maine, which are visually different from most American towns? There is something missing in the modern mentality and the world it creates.
Herder was onto something important. But his analysis did not take his pantheistic perspective far enough. Perhaps he remained too much a Christian. In his failure to probe deeply enough, he unintentionally contributed to the horrors of the last century and the perversions we see today in the racist elements of Norse reconstructionist religion.
There is a path between the Scylla of an overly individualistic soulless modern utilitarianism and the Charybdis of late völkisch collectivism. The way between them is to take seriously the model of cultures as ecosystems.
Cultures as Ecosystems
Ecology is the science of relationships, focusing on both the persistent and temporary patterns emerging from the actions of plants, animals, fungi, climate, and all other elements shaping how life appears on this earth. These sometimes competitive, and sometimes cooperative, processes of mutual adjustment generate an ecology. Within ecologies there are many centers of action lacking a hierarchical relationship with one another, although some elements are more important to creating the pattern than others. Ecosystems are polycentric, with order emerging from the bottom up.
Some new species fit easily into established ecosystems, others are more disruptive. Ultimately the ecosystem includes the newcomers, transforms them, extirpates them, or changes into a different ecosystem due to their influence. While individual organisms will be constantly changing, in an ecosystem the overall pattern is relatively stable across generations.
The only complete ecosystem we know of is earth. Within it are tropical and temperate rain forests, high, low, hot, and cold deserts, tall and short grass prairies, and a myriad of other relatively distinct ecosystems forming smaller patterns within the all-inclusive one of the earth. What we call a particular ecosystem arises from the questions we ask. A salmon ecosystem includes parts of oceans as well as the streams in which they spawn and the trees that cool their waters. A coastal forest ecosystem will ignore the oceans, except for impact on climate. Ultimately, all ecosystems integrate with the ecosystem of the earth.
We find similar complexity and dynamics in cultures.
When Americans read Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, especially White Americans, we feel we are in a familiar place even though the fastest means of transportation was still the horse, cities were few and small, women could not vote, and most people, especially in the North, lived on small farms. Yet despite these differences, the culture he described seems familiar to us, even compared to contemporary India or Greece.
We pick up on the patterns of the American cultural ecosystem, which has preserved many of its basic qualities amid enormous changes in others. We who live here take it for granted, as a fish rarely notices water unless it is removed from it. As a Frenchman, Tocqueville picked up on what our American ancestors rarely noticed. For a European of his time, at first, American society resembled chaos. 
No sooner do you set foot upon the American soil than you are stunned by a kind of tumult; a confused clamour is heard on every side; and a thousand simultaneous voices demand the immediate satisfaction of their social wants. Everything is in motion around you; here, the people of one quarter of a town are met to decide upon the building of a church; there the election of a representative is going on; a little further, the delegates of a district are posting to the town in order to consult on some local improvements; or in another place the labourers of a village quit their ploughs to deliberate upon the project of a road or a public school.
As he stayed longer, Tocqueville perceived a pattern underneath the apparent chaos. Tocqueville observed “The appearance of disorder which prevails on the surface, lead [Europeans] at first to imagine that society is in a state of anarchy; nor does he perceive this mistake till he has gone deeper into the subject.” For Americans what seemed to be chaotic was in fact easily navigable.
As in a biological ecology, the cultural pattern can persist even amidst substantial change. If the larger pattern is changed enough, something new can arise, as when hunter gatherers became farmers, but usually the basic patterns are remarkably persistent.
The basic difference between a biological and a cultural ecosystem is the unit of change and evolution. In biological ecologies, organisms adapt with the speed of their reproduction, and change is over generations. In cultural ecologies, change happens with the speed of thought, and is transmitted primarily by language.
As ecosystems, cultures have the equivalent of organisms shaping and being shaped by them. One of these equivalents is obvious: ourselves. We participate in both biological ecosystems and cultural ecosystems. But just as we are not alone in biological ecosystems, neither are we alone in cultural ecosystems.
The Vikings: from racial identity to cultural ecosystem
The most recent studies of Viking culture supports the ecosystem model and undermines the right wing racial model. Geneticists at the University of Copenhagen examined the genomes from human remains discovered in archaeological sites across Greenland and Europe from between 2400 B.C. and 1600 A.D. The Vikings proved to be truly a diverse, with ancestry including Sami hunter-gatherers, Anatolian farmers, and people from the Eurasian steppe.
The study also revealed the Vikings comprised four distinct groups centered on Denmark, Norway, and Sweden’s Gotland and Ӧland islands. Surprisingly, that these distinct Viking groups mixed more with people encountered in their expeditions than with other Viking populations.
Among modern Scandinavians, only between 15% and 30% of contemporary Swedes share ancestry with the people who lived in the same region 1,300 years ago. The study concludes the Vikings comprise a diverse group that cannot be pinned to a specific ethnicity. What connected them was not genetics but their cultural ecosystem.
Memes as ideational organisms
Few people contribute a new word to our language, and Richard Dawkins is among those who have. Dawkins’ term, “meme,” refers to ideas or actions in their social context. My private thoughts, that live or die with me, are not memes. Broadly defined, a meme is any mental creation that is a unit of cultural transmission. In this respect, culturally, a meme is an independent entity that survives, declines, adapts or mutates over time, depending on the mental energy people supply it. Its meaning reflects both its cultural content and its interpretation by different individuals using it.
Sometimes we give birth to new memes, as Dawkins did, although once in the public sphere memes are free to flourish or not, independently from their creators. When Robert Heinlein coined the term “grok” he never imagined it would play a role in the future NeoPagan Church of All Worlds, or in the very different field of computer programming.
If I keep a new idea to myself, it is not a meme. Once I communicate an idea or practice to others, it becomes one if it elicits their imitation. A meme begins as a kind of ideational organism created by a person, and if adopted by others, reproducing and adapting through their adopting it in their actions and speech. It becomes a kind of cultural species that coexists with us at the mental level.
Some memes are not words, and may lack any identifiable clear linguistic meaning. Think of the opening chords of Beethoven’s 5th. Shaking hands is also a meme. Symbols, such as our flag, are memes, and as the flag demonstrates, sometimes a meme’s meanings can be contradictory, as in standing for certain values or certain actions that transgress other values connected with the flag-as-meme.
Memes replicate by attracting the mental attention they need to survive and increase. Within a cultural ecology memes replicate, adapt, mutate, go extinct or simply go dormant for a time, using our minds as the means for their preservation and dissemination. They do this within individual minds that then spread them to other minds through words or other actions. A meme’s success or failure rests on the degree it is picked up by many people. But memes are independent from any particular individual mind. A culture is a network of people stretching across generations connected through a mutual dependency on common memes to facilitate useful connections. A volk is the network of a social ecology shaped by dominant memes.
Memes are sustained within cultural networks existing independently of any particular individual or meme, shaping the ideational ecosystem within which we live. While imitation is central to their propagation, not every imitation is a perfect copy. If imitations are not perfect, they inject an opportunity for further evolution on the meme’s part, for if adopted by others, subsequent imitations will reproduce a slightly different meme.
Most of the time, our thinking flows effortlessly within an existing network of memes, without thinking much about them, or even noticing them. For example, in normal conversation we rarely if ever pause to choose our words – they emerge pretty automatically. Memes are the structures that give coherence to our thinking, and as such, are usually as ‘real’ to us as the physical world. If you want to experience the force of a powerful meme, refuse to shake someone’s hand when they extend it to you, while still seeking to come across as friendly. If you want another test, use ‘her’ or ‘his’ when ‘it’ is the standard in our language, or vice versa.
Sociologist Erving Goffman argued people assume ‘roles,’ shaping their self-presentations to create certain impressions in others’ minds. He observed “A status, a position, a social place is not a material thing, to be possessed and then displayed; it is a pattern of appropriate conduct, coherent, embellished, and well-articulated. Performed with ease or clumsiness, awareness or not, guile or good faith, it is none the less something that must be enacted and portrayed, something that must be realized.”
Goffman’s description has sometimes been interpreted as cynical, and a manipulative intent is certainly compatible with his description. But the most interesting cases are when we so identify with the role that we think it is who we are. We are entirely honest. The role is a meme, and we identify our self with the role. At that point we are the meme’s host rather than it being our tool.
We cannot evaluate all the memes comprising our cultural ecosystem. When we examine a meme, such as our flag, we rely in other memes to do so, such as America, democracy, justice, imperialism, and racism. But we can stand apart from chosen ones, and evaluate them.
A meme is not a physical thing, though it can shape what physical things do. Nor is it mental in the sense of existing solely within our heads. It exists independently of each of us, but not from all of us. Therefore, a meme implies a larger ideational context in which it ‘lives’ just as a lion implies a larger biological context within which it lives. In both cases these ecologies shape the kinds of characteristics an organism has and the directions which it might take if it changes, even as it in turn influences its ecosystem.
Along with people, memes populate the cultural ecosystem, enabling us to be social beings with a language and customs providing mutually understandable meanings enabling us to communicate beyond simple signals. When we uncritically accept them, as we usually must, from a meme’s perspective we are their hosts, giving them mental energy and helping them replicate. For us, they are just a part of the reality within which we live, and in the process of living, we reproduce some of them by making them available to others. On balance, people and memes have symbiotic relationships. To exist, each needs the other. To adapt, each needs the other. To flourish, each needs the other.
Among other things, a living language is an ideational ecosystem of memes continually existing within the context of other memes and relying on humans to keep it alive. As with biological ecosystems, different languages have different qualities, as a forest does from a steppe. And as languages come to differ from one another the cultural ecosystem they support can differentiate. Isolation led Latin to become many languages, each with their own qualities. Memes fundamental to Roman culture gradually mutated and diversified.
Today, despite the ease of communication, and a common language, Great Britain and the U.S. have different cultures. The U.S, differs culturally from Canada, and New England differs culturally from Alabama. The meanings of dominant memes varies from culture to culture even when the language is mostly the same.
I am describing a different understanding of Herder’s observation that we always exist within a Volk. Herder and those who came after him treated the Volk as a kind of organism with an inner essence and boundaries. Like an organism. An ecosystem also has a pattern maintained by living processes, but unlike an organism, an ecosystem has no center, no essence.
Are Memes alive?
I have been struck with how consistently secular scientists describe memes as if they were alive. For example, James Gleick writes:
Memes emerge in brains and travel outward, establishing beachheads on paper and celluloid and silicon and anywhere else information can go. They are not to be thought of as elementary particles but as organisms. The number three is not a meme; nor is the color blue, nor any simple thought, any more than a single nucleotide can be a gene. Memes are complex units, distinct and memorable – units with staying power.
Mark Pagel, another evolutionary biologist, observes that “. . . the feature of memes we have to bear in mind is that there is no necessary reason they have to help us: whatever form makes them likely to be transmitted, they are likely to adopt.” The idea that the arts and religion serve humankind “must confront the simpler idea that these cultural elements might exist for no other reason than that they have evolved to be good at manipulating, exploiting, or taking advantage of us to aid their transmission…” Consequently, “what really seems to distinguish [the arts] is that they can lodge in our brains and exert a grip on us that is sometimes beyond our control.” In fact, “The nature of cultural evolution means that some memes evolve as parasites that live at our expense.”
But is a meme really “alive?” Their frequent comparison with viruses is a good place to start. Physical viruses exist on the borderline of life and not-life. By themselves, viruses are not considered alive by most who study them. They cannot reproduce on their own, but depend on host cells to reproduce. In invading cells in order to reproduce, they can change them so dramatically as to be major forces in the evolution of life. Unlike the external environment, parts of these ‘unliving’ entities can become important parts of living entities. Viruses play different roles depending on the context of their interaction with their hosts, and can play important roles in evolution.  Viruses themselves can mutate and evolve, as we discover to our sorrow every flu season. A virus exists somewhere within the border of life and not-life.
A meme is often described as like a virus, but within the mental realm. It can also mutate and evolve, and, as a virus needs a cell to replicate, a meme needs a mind to do so. To persist and flourish, memes must ‘infect’ hosts and adapt to overcome barriers to their spread. Memes are important factors in cultural change and growth. Like a virus, a meme shares many but not all of the characteristics usually attributed to life.
Like viruses, memes can cause ‘infections’ that can either threaten a culture’s survival, or lead to valuable mutations. Depending on its particular context, a meme might have a number of meanings. Think of “bad” and “wicked,” which retain their traditional meanings as negative qualities, but now, in some contexts, also have the opposite meaning, but a meaning still connected to the traditional negative one. Otherwise we would simply say “good.” As positive terms, “wicked” or “bad” do not quite mean “good.” Translators can be driven crazy by this kind of thing, but it is also why we describe a language as “alive.”
Because so much is linked in ecosystems, the evolution of a single meme can be a powerful force shaping a society. Consider how ‘marriage’ changed over time to become a celebration of loving commitment. In the West, at one time, marriage was usually entered into for creating a family, making an alliance between families, out of religious duty, or assuring security in old age. Love didn’t matter. As Montesquieu observed, a “husband who loves his wife is a man who has not enough merit to engage the affections of some other woman.” In such a context, gay marriage was unthinkable.
Once the meme, ‘marriage,’ included love as a major reason for entering into it, the stage was set for a major cultural transformation. ‘Love’ soon came to dominate all other reasons for marriage. It was the ideal. A meme thousands of years old shifted in its central characteristics, and as it did, the once unthinkable became thinkable. Women’s status was strengthened. In the U.S., marriage for love legitimized interracial marriage where it had long been outlawed. More recently it has legitimized gay marriage. Marriage primarily for love was a memetic mutation that ultimately changed the meme’s ideational ecosystem and the cultural institutions that arose from it.
New mimetic species and old species adapting in new ways continually transform the cultural ecosystem.
Unlike Herder’s image of a Volk as having an unchanged essence, a cultural ecosystem is always a pattern of changes and continuities. Always. When the implications of marrying for love spread throughout society, Western Civilization did not become something else. But it changed in some very important respects that are still working their way through its culture.
In addition, unlike Herder’s view, individual creativity is shaped but not determined by language and culture. Therefore, individuals can never be reduced simply to various better or worse expressions of the Volk. A culture’s boundaries are always fuzzy, in every direction, because its memes depend for survival on being employed, and every act of employment creates a possibility for mutation and change. It is at the margins of a culture and among its most creative elements that new influences are most likely to enter.
But being new is not being alien. Sometimes new influences integrate easily even as they change society-wide customs. Chinese cooking significantly reduced our cultural habit of overcooking vegetables. Some new memetic influences can transform a culture in important ways, as African music helped to give us jazz, blues, and rock and roll. Other new influences appear for a while, only to die out, such as the once popular dance, the twist.
There is another important dimension to this issue. For Herder, fulfilling one’s potential involves growing within the context of the Volk’s culture and values. Our individuality develops most completely and healthily within a given cultural context. In particular, national identity is transmitted through language – that most basic and essential of all human capacities.
There are two problems here. Both are important.
Like natural ecosystems, cultural ecosystems are not harmonious wholes existing in permanent equilibrium. Memes always arise within a context of meanings shaped by other memes. They are not always mutually harmonious, and there will be times when people step back from one or more memes they once accepted unthinkingly, because they recognize a tension or contradiction between them. Resolving the tension creates a change, and the greater the tension and more important the meme, the greater the change.
For example, the Declaration of Independence was endorsed by all leaders of the American Revolution. It was a classic statement of liberal principles in the abstract, as well as demonstrating a failure to follow them consistently in practice. The resulting contradictions could empower reforms in keeping with the abstract principles, or eventually a repudiation of those principles in preference to the practices which violated them. Both happened. Consider American slavery.
Well before the Civil War, Northern states abolished slavery peacefully and in no small part due to the growing influence of the Declaration’s statement “all men are created equal. By contrast, the future Confederate states explicitly repudiated the Declaration because it elevated equality among people above slavery. This cultural change between two societies exacerbated differences that already existed as well as creating new ones. The result was civil war. Even now, over 150 years later, many of these differences persist to this day because, particularly in the South, the memes that grew during those times have mutated away from their initial connection with slavery.
In biological terms, it is as if one ecology gradually became separated into two, leading to a progressive differentiation between them. The differences eventually became so great that the ecological patterns that developed have differentiated under changed circumstances.
In addition, language itself powerfully shapes our perceptions and values. This was central to Herder’s argument. But once we are aware of how language shapes our perceptions and values, even the most basic memes structuring our language cease being simply taken for granted. We will have a space for change that can enrich our culture. Let me give an example.
The sources of volkisch change are mimetic, in the realm of ideas that become memes and then become taken-for-granted ways of relating with the world. Little is more basic to shaping our perceptions than seeing something as a noun or a verb. Compared to many Native American languages, Western languages such as English are noun rich and verb poor. By comparison, many Native American languages are verb rich and noun poor. Robin Wall Kimmerer writes that only 30 percent of English words are verbs, whereas 70 percent of Potawatomi words are verbs.
When I was younger many people were impressed with Buckminister Fuller’s book I Seem to be a Verb. We thought his was a profound insight, which for us it was. Many traditional Native Americans would have said “What took you so long? Now apply your insight elsewhere.”
Despite English’s foundational role, Fuller did not undermine American culture with an insight common in very different cultures. He enriched it. ‘I,’ ‘He,’ and ‘She’ can be verbs as well as nouns, as Fuller pointed out. ‘It’ cannot. In her chapter “The Language of Animacy” Potawatomi Robin Wall Kimmerer writes.
Imagine your grandmother standing at the stove in her apron and then saying of her, “Look, it is making soup. It has grey hair.” . . . In English, we never refer to a member of our family, or indeed to any person, as an it. . . . It robs a person of selfhood and kinship, reducing a person to a mere thing. So it is that in Potawatomi and most other indigenous languages, we use the same words to address the living world as we use for our family. Because they are our family.
In my opinion, Kimmerer’s chapter should be required reading for all NeoPagans, for this example only scratches the surface of her discussion of how two very different languages can shape our perceptions. But for my purposes here, what matters is we have enriched our culture with this insight, not polluted it. And Kimmerer, a scientist, demonstrates one can act effectively in both worlds, enriching both.
The sources of volkisch change are mimetic, in the realm of ideas that become memes and then become taken-for-granted ways of relating with the world. Little is more basic to shaping our perceptions than seeing something as a noun or a verb. The more ideas can be freely explored and compared with other ideas, the more creative and powerful the culture will be within which this process takes place. Ideas emerge, flourish, and die, rather than the people who have them. This enriches the culture wherein a new insight arises as well as any others that learns from it. And, clearly, they have nothing to do with race.
Looking deeper: Memes as thought forms
If an idea is meaningful enough to us, after its creation we often relate to it as if it were an independent entity, and describe it accordingly. All these following examples make as much sense when the word “idea” is replaced by “person.”
• I am captivated by an idea.
• I am obsessed with an idea.
• I am intrigued by an idea.
• I am revolted by an idea.
• I am in love with an idea.
• I am inspired by an idea.
• I am loyal to an idea.
• I am interested in an idea.
• I am bothered by an idea.
We use these terms, and others, when describing our relations with people and with ideas. We refer to ideas as if they alive and had an existence independent from us, because we experience them that way.
We think of ideas as mental tools that empower us, but in return they shape and sometimes dominate our lives. Trouble arises when we identify too closely with an idea (or a person). The possibility arises of “losing ourselves” in them. When we identify with them and experience them as part of us, we “fall under their spell.” We become the idea’s tool rather than it being ours.
There is one way we talk about ideas we do not use regarding human beings: An idea can be “in the air.” While we treat memes as if they were alive, we also speak of them as if they existed in some realm other than the purely physical.
While exploring quantum mechanics’ implications for the social sciences, Alexander Wendt writes when a police officer tells someone he is under arrest, “by virtue of his entanglement with society the history of those words is not just his alone, but the history of the shared quantum state that defines what putting someone under arrest means. The policeman’s practices enfold the history of the whole state, in other words, rather than being a purely local and one-off phenomenon.” This sounds to me like describing where memes exist.
It is also a description of a thought form.
We know the successful use of magick is frequently linked to intensity and focus of conscious will. Those of us who have done healing work with energy know intention and focus influences not only our actions, they can influence what takes place within others’ bodies. Mind plus energy plus will can influence others physically separate from us. Mind plus energy plus focused will can also create thought forms.
In magickal terms, thought forms are focused centers of mental energy possessing a semi-conscious existence independent from any particular person. Thought forms are created to carry out some task, often protection, and are commonly thought to have access to the contents of the minds that sustain them, at least insofar as they relate to their reason for existence. When not ‘fed’ with mental energy, thought forms weaken and dissipate.
One fascinating account of creating a thought form is described in Conjuring Up Philip: An Adventure in Psychokenesis. A group of Canadian researchers created a fictional character, Philip, and over time sought to contact him through classical séance methods. The idea was that their efforts would gradually give Philip some psychic reality. They succeeded. While created by the group, once in existence, Philip was independent of individual members.
But not all such phenomena need be deliberate creations, and this is where another dimension of memes should be considered.
A meme exists independently from any particular person, so long as it is fed mental energy, like a thought form. But memes are rarely deliberate creations, and once in existence are open to use and influence by an open-ended number of people for many different purposes. They arise through a selective process incorporating many minds in their maintenance, many more, as a rule, than are involved in creating thought forms. There is usually far less focus, but many more people are giving the meme energy. If this is true, memes are a kind of ‘wild’ thought form.
In occult terminology an egregore is a mental field that arises from the more diffused focus of many people in a common context. It was apparently developed to describe the group mind, a kind of personality a group takes on independently of its members. Egregores are not so much deliberate creations as the result of many minds sharing a common focus. As I understand the term, an egregore is created by events such as a football game, a Nazi Party rally, or the energetic ‘feel’ of a city or neighborhood. Like a meme it exists independently of particular people and can influence them. As cultures exist in many levels from the culture of a team to that of a discipline to a town and beyond, the experience of a sense of wholeness in a culture is the experience of the egregore that arises from its members relationships, relationships shaped through memes.
If we take memes, thought forms, and egregores seriously, one more insight emerges from this line of thought. Consciousness is different from ideas and other memes and encompassing egregores. They are created by consciousness, and once part of our mental ecosystem, giving it shape, but the underlying ground is awareness as such.
The trance of belief
Trance is often defined as focus or immersion in a dissociated plane where at least some normal cognitive functions, such as reason or volition, are temporarily disabled. It is usually thought of as a negative state, but that is not my meaning. For example, I was in a trance when I was so deeply immersed in creating art that the outside world ceases to matter. If a friend approached while I was in this state, it took me a little while to return to my day to day way of being. Some normal cognitive function had been temporarily disabled- but in doing so other states were made available to me.
Whatever the trance, it separates us for a time from our immersion in normal consensus reality. In a hypnotic trance we are subject to the idea implanted in us by the hypnotist. That idea shapes our perceptions to fit its message. The problem is that we tend to identify with ideas all the time. When we do so we begin to perform a kind of unintentional magickal working on ourselves. We make ourselves subject to the idea, rather than the idea being subject to us. We are its tool, it is not ours.
When we become the tool of an idea our capacities are devoted to defending the idea as if we were defending ourselves. When a strongly held idea is seriously challenged, or even exposed to the possibility of a serious challenge, the individual’s mind becomes a tool of the meme. Some excuse is always given. The subject is changed, the point raised is ignored, the ‘other side’ is accused of doing the same thing, or the person making the challenging point is criticized. Whatever the excuse, it always means the idea will not be exposed to a serious challenge. The person is in a trance, and memes are the vehicle that accomplishes this.
Whatever their views, ideologues are people in a trance. This is why evidence and rational arguments make so little headway in discussions with them. Ideologies differ in content and value, but they are all the same in how they shape their adherents’ stand towards them once they identify with them. The person has become the meme’s tool for manifesting rather than the meme becoming the person’s tool for understanding.
Like a hypnotized person, we do not see arguments against our position and interpret our experience to fit what our ideology says is the case. Facts appear unimportant or somehow distorted. Consider that in 1933, the German publication Die Sonne described Hitler as blond and blue eyed! Today, Donald Trump’s supporters see him as a successful and cagey businessman.
We are not the products of forces we do not control, simple expressions of the Volk, nor are we society’s lords and masters. We are organisms sharing a mental realm at least with memes, and society is at least the collective unplanned creation of people and memes. We and memes are interactive agents both powered by our mental energy, and over time, both they and we co-evolve together.
But people and memes are not the only elements in a cultural ecosystem.
The Living Earth
David Abram describes the spirit of place
When we allow that mind is a luminous quality of the earth, we swiftly notice this consequence: each region – each topography, each uniquely patterned ecosystem – has its own particular awareness, its unique style of intelligence. . . .
Each place has its rhythms of change and metamorphosis, its specific style of expanding and contracting in response to the turning seasons, and this, too, shapes – and is shaped by – the sentience of that land. . . . Each place . . . is a unique state of mind, and the many powers that constitute and dwell within that locale – the spiders and the tree frogs no less than the humans – all participate in and partake of the particular mind of the place.
Herder recognized the land itself is a part of what makes a people. Nor was this recognition unique to some Germans. Here in America many Native Americans take a remarkably similar position. But for the land to have this impact, people need to make it their home, the place they dwell, and not just live. They need to immerse themselves within it. As they do, it becomes a part of them.
Ecosystems are complex interrelations of living organisms at all levels from single cells to the largest plants, animals, and fungi. We know the connections between them are extraordinarily complex. Additionally, plants have qualities that, when identified in animals, are claimed as evidence they have minds. Memes as thought forms demonstrate there is no reason to think consciousness is confined to our bodies. There is also no reason to believe consciousness is similarly confined in other organisms.
For years I taught a workshop on energy healing, which of course also depends on consciousness not being confined to our bodies. During this workshop I taught people how to see the densest of the energy fields around the human body. This energy is malleable by consciousness, and I would teach simple methods for doing so. The same techniques for viewing energy fields can also be used to see them around trees and other things.
As our own energy fields can be influenced by our intentions there is no reason to doubt they are also permeated with awareness of some sort. And this insight returns us to the larger world within which we live. For when walking through the woods, our energy fields interpenetrate with those of other organisms (and I would argue the land itself). We actually pick up on this mentally, and even at bodily levels of which we are not conscious.
Considerable recent research indicates human beings enter into more healthy and centered frames of mind when they leave the artificial environments of streets, buildings, and parking lots for even the tiny bit of nature found in a lawn. Even subtle bodily states shift. I think it is particularly significant that these signs of better mental and physical well-being increase as a person enters into even more complex natural environments.  It was within these complex natural environments, with their complex fields of interrelationship at every level, that we evolved.
As Herder suggested, the landscape influences how we feel, how we experience, and therefore who we are. It does so not just aesthetically, but also energetically and viscerally. Relatively undisturbed places feel differently from those that have been disrupted, and old towns feel differently from new ones.
Herder and other volkisch thinkers discovered and explored genuine flaws in the Enlightenment’s way of conceiving the world, and traveled part of the way towards healing them. As they did, the diverging paths separating Western modernity from time-honored ways of experiencing the unity of spirit and place found a potential common path. Our task is not to reject their insights along with their errors, nor turn our backs on the trails they found, but rather separate the errors from the truths, and turn those trails into paths easily traveled by all.
 Compare Martin Green, Mountain of Truth: The Counterculture Begins: Ascona, 1900-1920, (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1986) with Jeffrey J. Kirpal, Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).
 Gordon Kennedy, Children of the Sun, (Mecca, CA: Nivaria Press, 1998); David Luhrssen, Hammer of the Gods: the Thule Society and the birth of Nazism, (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2012), 84-5; Stefanie von Schnurbein, Norse Revival: Transformations of German Neopganism, (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017), 32.
 Stefanie von Schnurbein, Norse Revival: Transformations of German Neopganism, (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017), 51. However, here discussion of Wiccan history would have benefitted greatly from reading Philip Heselton, Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration: An Investigation into the Sources of Gardnerian Witchcraft, (Milverton, Somerset: Capall Bann, 2003).
 George L. Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology: Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich, (NY: Grosset and Dunlap, 1964), 34.
 Johann Gottfried von Herder, Materials for the Philosophy of the History of Mankind, 1784. Modern History Sourcebook, (NY: Fordham University ) https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/1784herder-mankind.asp
 Johann Gottfried von Herder, Materials for the Philosophy of the History of Mankind, 1784. Modern History Sourcebook, (NY: Fordham University ) https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/1784herder-mankind.asp
 George L. Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology: Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich, (NY: Grosset and Dunlap, 1964), 15.
 Stefan Arvidsson, Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science, Sonia Wichmann, trans., (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2006),164.
 Mosse, Crisis of German Ideology, 214-5.
 Gunar Alksnis. Chthonic Gnosis” Ludwig Klages and his Quest for the Pandaemonic All, (Munich: Theion Publishing, 2015).33-7; Arvidsson, Aryan Idols, 204-7; David Luhrssen, Hammer of the Gods: the Thule Society and the birth of Nazism, (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2012), 61.
 David Luhrssen, Hammer of the Gods: the Thule Society and the birth of Nazism, (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2012), 170, 182-5.
 Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology, 182-3.
Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology, 103.
 Schnurbein, Norse Revival, 137.
 Schnurbein, Norse Revival, 291.
 Schnurbein, Norse Revival, 131.
 Benjamin Franklin, Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Not Your Usual Founding Father: Selected Readings From Benjamin Franklin, Edmund S. Morgan, ed., (New Haven: Yale University Press 2006).157.
 W. B. Yeats, Celtic Twilight, (London, A. H. Bullen, 1902); David Luhrssen, Hammer of the Gods: the Thule Society and the birth of Nazism, (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2012), 8.
 Martin Krieger, What’s Wrong with Plastic Trees? Science, Feb. 1973. 179, 1402.
 Liisa Steinby, The Rehabilitation of Myth: Enlightenment and Romanticism in Johann Gottfried Herder’s Vom Geist der Ebräischen Poesie; Sjjuttonbundratal, 2009. 54-78. https://search.tb.ask.com/search/GGmain.jhtml?searchfor=Liisa+Steinby%2C+The+Rehabilitation+of+Myth%3A+Enlightenment+and+Romanticism+in+Johann+Gottfried+Herder%E2%80%99s+Vom+Geist+der+Ebra%CC%88ischen+Poesie+++&enableSearch=true&rdrct=no&st=sb&tpr=omni&p2=%5ECPT%5Exdm153%5ETTAB02%5Eus&ptb=73289CC5-D6EB-4D50-BECB-493031B891B2&n=7849c452&si=39883_MWW-MAC
 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America I., (NY: Shocken 1961), 292.
 Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 90.
 Gus diZerega, “Connecting the Dots: Hayek, Darwin, and Ecology“ Cosmos and Taxis, Vol. 5, Nos. 3-4. 2018 https://cosmosandtaxis.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/dizerega_ct_vol5_iss3_4.pdf
 Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1989).
 Irving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (NY: Anchor, 1959), 75.
 Jeremy Lent, The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning, (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2017), 197-214.
 James Gleick, What defines a meme, Smithsonian.com, May, 2011. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/what-defines-a-meme-1904778/
 Mark Pagels, Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind (NY: W. W. Norton, 2012) 136.
 Pagels, Wired for Culture 135.
 Pagels, Wired for Culture 132.
 Pagels, Wired for Culture 136.
 For example, Richard Brodie, Virus of the Mind, The New Science of the Meme, (Hay House reissue, 2011). Daniel C. Dennett, From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds, (NY: Norton, 2017).
 We usually think of viruses as harmful, but the reality is more complex. Scientists have discovered viruses play vitally constructive roles in biological evolution. Viruses use nearly every function of a host organism’s cells to replicate and spread. In the process, elements of viral genomes can become part of its host’s genome, and in so doing, change its characteristics. Dmitri Petrov observed “The discovery that this constant battle with viruses has shaped us in every aspect—not just the few proteins that fight infections, but everything—is profound. All organisms have been living with viruses for billions of years; this work shows that those interactions have affected every part of the cell.” Scientists such as Petrov, believe viruses drive the evolution of cells more than other evolutionary pressures such as predation or environmental conditions. Dimitri Petrov, Viruses revealed to be a major driver in human evolution, Genetics Society of America, July 13, 2016. https://phys.org/news/2016-07-viruses-revealed-major-driver-human.html
 Michael Ventura, Hear That Long Snake Moan, Shadow dancing in the USA, (Los Angeles: Tarcher 1985) 103-162.
 Robin Wall Kimmerer, Learning the Grammar of Animacy, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, (Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed, 2013), 51.
 Buckminister Fuller, I seem to be a verb: Environment and Man’s Future, (NY: Bantam, 1970).
 Robin Wall Kimmerer, Learning the Grammar of Animacy, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, (Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed, 2013), 56.
 Alexander Wendt, Quantum Mind and Social Science: Unifying Physical and Social Ontology, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015). 272.
 Iris M. Owen and Margaret Sparrow, Conjuring Up Philip: An Adventure in Psychokenesis (NY: Harper and Row 1976). Sadly, this book is out of print. Other than buying an expensive used book, see Youtube. The Philip Experiment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TP9lmP1hxNk
 Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology, 106.
 David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, (NY: Pantheon, 2010),133.
 For example, see Monika A. Gorzelak, Amanda K. Asay, Brian J. Pickles, Suzanne W. Simard, Inter-plant communication through mycorrhizal networks mediates complex adaptive behavior in plant communities, AOB Plants, NCBI Resources, May 15, 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4497361/; Dereck Markham, Trees talk to each other and recognize their offspring, treehugger, July 29, 2016. https://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/trees-talk-each-other-and-recognize-their-offspring.html ; Monica Gagliano, Michael Renton, Martial Depczynski, Stefano Mancuso, Experience teaches plants to learn faster and forget slower in environments where it matters, Oecologia, May 2014, vol. 175, 63-72. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00442-013-2873-7
 Gus diZerega, Seeing and feeling Energy Fields, http://www.dizerega.com/faultlines/appendices/seeing-and-feeling-energy-fields/
 David Dobbs, The Green Space Cure: The Psychological Value of Biodiversity, Scientific American, Nov. 13, 2007, https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/news-blog/the-green-space-cure-the-psychologi/ ; Arianne J. van der Wal, Hannah M. Schade, Lydia Krabbendam, and Mark van Vugt, Do natural landscapes reduce future discounting in humans? Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Oct. 2013, https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/pdf/10.1098/rspb.2013.2295 ; Howard Frumkin and Richard Louv, The Powerful Link Between Conserving Land and Preserving Health, Land Trust Special Anniversary report, 2007. https://www.americantrails.org/files/pdf/FrumkinLouv.pdf; Florence Williams, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, (NY: W. W. Norton, 2017).
Abram, David. 2010. Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, NY: Pantheon.
Alksnis. Gunar. 2015. Chthonic Gnosis” Ludwig Klages and his Quest for the Pandaemonic All, Munich: Theion Publishing.
Arvidsson, Stefan. 2006. Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science, Sonia Wichmann, trans., Chicago: University of Chicago.
Brodie, Richard. 2011.Virus of the Mind, The New Science of the Meme, Hay House reissue.
Dawkins, Richard. 1989. The Selfish Gene, 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dennett, Daniel C. 2017. From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds, NY: Norton.
diZerega, Gus. 2018. “Connecting the Dots: Hayek, Darwin, and Ecology“ Cosmos and Taxis, Vol. 5, Nos. 3-4. https://cosmosandtaxis.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/dizerega_ct_vol5_iss3_4.pdf
_____. Seeing and feeling Energy Fields, http://www.dizerega.com/faultlines/appendices/seeing-and-feeling-energy-fields/
Dobbs, David. 2007. The Green Space Cure: The Psychological Value of Biodiversity, Scientific American, Nov. 13, 2007
Franklin, Benjamin. 2006. Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Not Your Usual Founding Father: Selected Readings From Benjamin Franklin, Edmund S. Morgan, ed., New Haven: Yale University Press.
Frumkin, Howard, and Richard Louv. 2007. The Powerful Link Between Conserving Land and Preserving Health, Land Trust Special Anniversary report, 2007. https://www.americantrails.org/files/pdf/FrumkinLouv.pdf;
Fuller, Buckminister. 1970. I seem to be a verb: Environment and Man’s Future, NY: Bantam.
Gagliano, Monica, and Michael Renton, Martial Depczynski, Stefano Mancuso. 2014. Experience teaches plants to learn faster and forget slower in environments where it matters, Oecologia, May 2014, vol. 175, 63-72. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00442-013-2873-7
Gleick, James. 2011. What defines a meme, Smithsonian.com, May, 2011. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/what-defines-a-meme-1904778/
Goffman, Irving. 1959. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life NY: Anchor.
Gorzelak, Monika M. Amanda K. Asay, Brian J. Pickles, Suzanne W. Simard. 2015. Inter-plant communication through mycorrhizal networks mediates complex adaptive behavior in plant communities, AOB Plants, NCBI Resources, May 15, 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4497361/
Green, Martin. 1986. Mountain of Truth: The Counterculture Begins: Ascona, 1900-1920, Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.
Herder, Johann Gottfried von. 1784. Materials for the Philosophy of the History of Mankind,. Modern History Sourcebook, NY: Fordham University.
Heselton, Philip. 2003. Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration: An Investigation into the Sources of Gardnerian Witchcraft, Milverton, Somerset: Capall Bann.
Kennedy, Gordon.1998. Children of the Sun, Mecca, CA: Nivaria Press.
Kimmerer, Robin Wall. 2013. Learning the Grammar of Animacy, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed.
Kirpal, Jeffrey K. 2007. Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Krieger, Martin. 1972. What’s Wrong with Plastic Trees? Science, Feb. 1973, 1402.
Lent, Jeremy.2107. The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning, Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.
Luhrssen, David. 2012. Hammer of the Gods: the Thule Society and the birth of Nazism, Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books.
Markham, Dereck. 2016. Trees talk to each other and recognize their offspring, treehugger, July 29, 2016. https://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/trees-talk-each-other-and-recognize-their-offspring.html
Montesquieu, Charles Louise de Secondat. 1714. Letter LV: Rica to Ibben, at Smyrna, Persian Letters. http://www.bartleby.com/167/55.html
Mosse, George L. 1964. The Crisis of German Ideology: Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich, NY: Grosset and Dunlap.
Owen, Iris M. and Margaret Sparrow. 1976. Conjuring Up Philip: An Adventure in Psychokenesis. NY: Harper and Row.
Pagels, Mark. 2012. Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind, NY: W. W. Norton.
Petrov, Dimitri. 2016. Viruses revealed to be a major driver in human evolution, Genetics Society of America, July 13, 2016. https://phys.org/news/2016-07-viruses-revealed-major-driver-human.html
Schnurbein, Stefanie von. 2017. Norse Revival: Transformations of German Neopaganism, Chicago: Haymarket Books.
Steinby, Liisa. 2009. The Rehabilitation of Myth: Enlightenment and Romanticism in Johann Gottfried Herder’s Vom Geist der Ebräischen Poesie; Sjjuttonbundratal, 54-78. https://search.tb.ask.com/search/GGmain.jhtml?searchfor=Liisa+Steinby%2C+The+Rehabilitation+of+Myth%3A+Enlightenment+and+Romanticism+in+Johann+Gottfried+Herder%E2%80%99s+Vom+Geist+der+Ebra%CC%88ischen+Poesie+++&enableSearch=true&rdrct=no&st=sb&tpr=omni&p2=%5ECPT%5Exdm153%5ETTAB02%5Eus&ptb=73289CC5-D6EB-4D50-BECB-493031B891B2&n=7849c452&si=39883_MWW-MAC
The Philip Experiment. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TP9lmP1hxNk
Tocqueville, Alexis de. 1961. Democracy in America I., NY: Shocken.
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