Culture, Music, Video

Heilung – Intriguing and a Bit Disturbing

Heilung

Image: Wikimedia Commons

What do you do when music is intriguing, but the message and imagery are somewhat repulsive? When the visuals are fascinating, but you come away a bit queasy?

No, I’m not talking gangsta rap, although the same issue has occasionally been known to arise (cf Cardi B, my current favorite vocalist…)

I recently watched some videos by a unique ensemble from Northern Europe – Heilung. The band re-imagines prehistoric music, along with a heaping helping of Wagner-cum-Las Vegas grandiosity.

Click here for a compilation video

I was intrigued and amused (not that their videos and music betray the slightest humor or irony).

But after a while it got disturbing.

Stone-Age Techno?

The band re-visions what Stone and Bronze Age musical/ritual performances might have sounded and looked like. Using only materials that would have been available to our ancestors (along with microphones, pickups, etc), they “amplify” sounds from long ago.

Apparently our beloved forebears were into drony voices, slapping bones together, and pounding on anything else they came across. No one “plays” anything – the verb “to play” in all of its senses would be utterly out of place at a Heilung show.

The mix is undeniably engaging, and pushes “trance” music into a new zone – kinda like stone-age down-tempo house. I predict every Pagan band will soon have a veiled female vocalist wailing and banging bones together.

When the vocalists get going in polyrhythmic interplay, all the while pounding on big frame drums, the energy is incredible.

Militarism and Misogyny?

Yet I came away disturbed at an overall tone and imagery that ooze militarism and misogyny without any sense of implicit critique or even awareness.

The band disclaims any political intent or message. But when your performance mimics Wagnerian imagery last idolized by fascists, and you end the night with a bunch of spear-bearing warriors “dancing” around the stage – you might want to make just a mite bit clearer where your true sympathies lie.

Click here for the big spear-waving ending

The on-stage visuals are striking, and their videographer does a great job with angles and close-ups. There’s much pounding, yelling, and pulling of harsh faces.

The male voices are distant ancestors of today’s death-metal guttural groaners, and take their jobs very seriously. The one female vocalist is veiled and unmoving, as if stoically holding all of the pain and mourning of the male ensemble.

Imagery and Messaging

The band would surely deny any connection to fascism or intent to appeal to such elements. Here’s their wikipedia blurb, probably written by their agent:

“Heilung is an experimental folk band made up of members from Denmark, Norway and Germany. Their music is based on texts and runic inscriptions from Germanic peoples of the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Viking Age. Heilung describe their music as “amplified history from early medieval northern Europe”. Their music is usually about Norse deities, jǫtnar, and valkyries. ‘Heilung’ is a German word meaning “healing” in English.”

To pick a nit – last I heard, no scholar believes that runes can be read, pronounced, or that we have access to any ancient tradition of meaning. Modern runic divination is based on intuitive interpretation – well and good, but a flimsy basis for reconstructing lost languages and cultures.

To pick a further nit – is it my imagination, or does the band’s name carry a distinct echo of the salutation used by an infamous political movement of the last century when addressing their Great Leader?

Just askin’.

Male Aggressiveness and Female Passivity

At a broader level, this “reconstruction” of ancestral music and ritual suggests unremitting male aggressiveness accompanied by blindfolded, immobile women.

You can see where someone might read a bit of violence and misogyny into this.

Clearly the manufacturers of Hellblade, a poorly-animated adventure/fight videogame built around incessant threats to the physical well-being of a young woman, felt that the music was a perfect fit for their franchise.

Forget Them?

Is Heilung hopeless? Hard to say. The music is intriguing. Maybe what we’re seeing is just a warm-up for an extended Las Vegas run.

Whatever their goal, they are promoting dangerously ambiguous cultural imagery with no evident awareness of its history or implications.

At the least, I’d like to see some hint that Heilung is aware that our forebears had a sense of humor, that they interacted in ways other than growling and pounding, and that the goal of their rituals might not invariably have been to empower warriors.

Just a suggestion. Give them a look/listen.

Click here for a compilation video

Messianic Addendum

The lead singer apparently has a bit of a messiah complex – he reports that the band’s performances have resulted in numerous miraculous healings!

Messiah Complex Video

Sorry to laugh, folks, but this is a bit distasteful. Music can be healing – but performers are not messiahs.

Nuff said.

*****

Culture, Economics, Satires

ToiletShare – New Tech Start-Up!

Toilet-HighTech-ToykoWeekender

To all venture capitalists and others with too much money on their hands:

My company is called ToiletShare – we sublet time-share toilets to techies. After all, you can’t “function” without toilets!

Our innovative, cutting edge, high tech idea is – most of the time, toilets are sitting unoccupied. What if instead of paying for toilet-time you don’t use, you simply paid for a block of toilet time that you and your employees could use at your discretion?

ToiletShare maintains a worker-friendly environment, with quality reading material and relaxing muzak.

Bonus – ToiletShare monitors all toilet-related activity and provides a complete monthly report of employee toilet usage.

Can we have $5 billion for starts?

Photo – Tokyo Weekender

More economics satires & musings by Luke Hauser

*****

activism, Climate Justice, Culture

Give ’em Hell Greta!

GretaAndSgn-WikiCommons

Greta is barely gone and I miss her already.

Oh, I never met her. i’ve never actually watched a video of her speaking.

But every time I read about her, she’s setting some old farts straight. I find myself spontaneously saying, “Give ’em hell, Greta!”

“You’re Failing!” – Who, Us?

I loved when she told the US Congress: “You may be trying, but you’re failing.”

Only here’s the hitch – I think Greta, for all of her obvious brilliance, still has the naive notion that those Congressional representatives actually represent the American people – as opposed to various corporate and financial interests.

So when she told them they were failing – she really meant it for all of us here in the U.S.

Not just the rich and powerful – every one of us.

Taking It to Heart

Honestly, I took it to heart. I’ve been trying for a long time to make a difference in the world – and in terms of climate justice, I don’t really have a whole lot to show for it..

Why do I keep trying? Good question that I ask myself some mornings.

Partly because I have to keep living in this world. And partly because I want young folks in my life – and those like Greta that I will never meet – to know that we tried.

Here’s a group working to make a difference around the world – this is their Bay Area website. Google for other locales.

Contact Extinction Rebellion

Fall 2019 XR Action in SF – photos by Luke Hauser

*****

Culture, Resources & Downloads

Our Magical History – A New Essay

Luke Hauser’s new essay on alternative history – free download or read online

Who are these people who call themselves Pagans, Witches, and workers of magic? Where did they come from?

Join Luke Hauser for an illustrated, occasionally tongue-in-cheek journey through our magical lineages, from ancient Mesopotamia to Gardner, Valiente, and the Wiccan Revival of modern days.

Think of this as a pleasant excursion, not a treadmill.

Read what calls to you. Skip around as you wish. Feel free to ignore entire sections.

Just know that when you reach the Isle of Apples, you may be tested on this material.

Click here for free download | Click here ​to read online

“Erudite, good-humoured, generous, with that open-minded readiness to recognise merit in many different sources of inspiration that is one of the best features of the Reclaiming tradition.”

– Ronald Hutton, Professor of History, University of Bristol

“Presents an enormous amount of material in a very attractive and readable way.”

– Michael D. Bailey, Department of History, Iowa State University / Associate Editor: Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft

Graphic: Hieronymus Bosch

activism, Climate Justice, Culture

Extinction Rebellion – SF Die-Ins

Several hundreds people gathered at San Francisco’s Civic Center on October 16, 2019 for a solemn procession punctuated by die-ins, as part of a day of Climate Justice protests.
The action, organized by Bay Area Extinction Rebellion as part of international protests during October 2019, included people from Red Rebels, Decolonization, Playful Animal Parade, Mindful Direct Action, the Climate Anxiety Tent, DAWG, and WICCA (Witches Invoking Creative Climate Action – our Bay Area Pagan Cluster!).
The actions focused attention on California government and Governor Newsom, and demanded that the state:
–  Declare a climate emergency
–  Commit to fossil-free California by 2025
–  Empower communities through citizen’s assemblies
–  Work for a just transition
Future Actions and Events: extinctionrebellionsfbay.org
WICCA/Pagan Cluster – contact and join our googlegroup
Photo by Luke Hauser.
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activism, Culture, Photos

Climate Justice – Photos from SF

Several thousand Bay Area activists shut down the central financial district of San Francisco, known as Wall Street West.

Click here for photos by Luke Hauser

The September 25, 2019 actions were part of international climate justice events, including the global student strike on September 20.

Reclaiming’s Bay Area Pagan Cluster – Witches Invoking Creative Climate Action, or WICCA – organized a ritual for mid-afternoon. The cluster processed down California Street singing We Are the Rising Sun, then did a short Equinox ritual in the middle of the “mural district” of Montgomery Street, ending with a spiral dance to Our Hands Will Work for Peace and Justice (Harvest Chant).

Click here for photos by Luke Hauser

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