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4.6 out of 5 stars
Summoning the Gods
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on February 18, 2016
The central idea Cleary attempts to grapple with in these essays is how to take Nordic myth and tradition seriously, how to revive it and make it meaningful, without ignoring the sheer fact of modernity, post-modernity and our "fallen" state. And indeed, how to amalgamate and absorb modernity while reviving and experiencing the numinous from ancient myth. We cannot, Cleary acknowledges throughout, simply return to the same beliefs as the ancients, we cannot pretend that modern life, modern science, modern decadence and modern knowledge have not occurred. Yet the myths, and the knowledge and state of mind they represent, are not literal tales that must be accepted at face value through a kind of willful suspension of disbelief. One need not believe in Thor physically riding a chariot pulled by goats waving his hammer above his head in order to accept the truth content of the myths. In fact, such concrete representations of myths even for the ancients themselves were simply a telling, an attempt to concretize deeper eternal truths. Tellings of the myths are manifestations of deeper truths, but they are not those truths themselves (well, they are, but not in the way we think). A particular tale is the "De" (manifestation) of the "Dao" (unembodied and unembodiable truth) underneath that tale, to borrow terms from Chinese philosophy.

To achieve this, Cleary, through his extensive reading in the original source material, and more extensive contemplation of the tradition writ large, explains how we can begin to recover this worldview in a way that involves neither pretending to hold overly literal beliefs, nor attempting to distill some purely secular or "philosophic" meaning from the myths that would satisfy the modern need to "explain" the religion without truly feeling it and would in fact sterilize or defuse its power. Instead, Cleary’s essays (and they are essays very much in the Montaignian sense: "attempts") are an initial experiment in recovering the numinous, the spiritual in our daily lives, and in guiding more people to this way of thinking.

One of the appealing aspects of this book is Cleary’s humility and – again very Montaingian – self-consciousness of his own grappling with the problem: Cleary does not present himself as a guru, or a holier-than-thou possessor of some arcane knowledge that you must acquire from him. In fact, his learning in this field is prodigious, but he wears it with a sense of wonder and awe that is the very antithesis of the “guru” type.

A number of the essays – in particular “”Paganism Without Gods”, “What God Did Odin Worship?” and “The Missing Man in Norse Cosmogony” – present ideas and make connections between seemingly disparate traditions that only someone exceptionally steeped in the original literature could achieve.

Cleary's essays on more modern topics such as the cult television series The Prisoner are excellent explications of precisely how we have become blinded to the existence of mythic truth in our presence. These is a very palpable “archeofuturist” tendency in these essays in that Cleary does not want either a literal return to the past (which he knows is impossible and not even desirable) or deny the present: rather, the future, our future, can involve myth as a living tradition if we discover and feel its spirit and figure out how to “make it new” (as Pound would say), how to channel its truth. Cleary does not himself have a fully articulated answer in this collection, but his essays show that he is closer to it that just about anyone else writing today.
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Enthusiast: Guitaron April 4, 2017
I made the "mistake" of buying the successor to this book first, but it didn't matter much in the end. Both are very much needed and highly recommended. As I stated in my review of Cleary's other work, "What is a Rune?", the author does a magnificent job applying metaphysics to the ancient Germanic traditions in a way that should appease both scholar and Asatruar alike. Both "Summoning the Gods" and "What is a Rune?" have been added to my essential (re)reading list, putting Collin Cleary right up there with others like Edred Thorsson, Stephen McNallen, etc. Do yourself and pick up both of Cleary's works here. You won't regret it.
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on January 9, 2012
"The problem with our modern, Western pagans is that they do not genuinely believe in their gods, they merely believe in believing in them" (page 21).

Collin Cleary, Ph.D, renowned scholar of the Indo-european heritage and active in the Rune-Guild. If you are reading this, the name is probably already familiar to you from the excellent Tyr-journals that so far have been published in three issues: TYR: Myth - Culture - Tradition, Vol. 1,TYR Myth, Culture, Tradition Vol. 2 (v. 2) and TYR Myth-Culture-Tradition Vol. 3 (we're all still waiting for the fourth issue). He was editor and heavyweight contributor to that journal, and the bulk of the essays in the present book have already been published in the pages of that journal, although there are several other articles included as well. His style and content is also quite similar to that found in The Initiate 2: Journal of Traditional Studies, if you for some weird reason are a stranger to his writings. After the excellent introduction by Greg Johnson, Ph.D, editor-in-chief at Counter-Currents and the publisher of the book, we learn of the contents divided into three sections: "Neo-Paganism", "Nordic Paganism" and "Among the Ruins". The red herring running consistently throughout the book is Cleary's emphasis on our modern lack of "openness" to what is bigger than man, and what limits us. What does this mean, precisely? Well, for natural reasons, he can't really pinpoint it down to some kind of "heathenism for dummies" (although that would have been nice, of course), but Cleary has a lot of advice to offer, still.

The first part, "Neo-Paganism", contains the two major essays of the book content-wise: "Knowing the Gods" and "Summoning the Gods: The Phenomenology of Divine Presence". Here, he makes a strong case for the fact that no matter what the aspirations of would-be heathens are, they must first open up to the fact that they need to make a "clearing" in their inner being that gives room for the higher beings and forces in the Universe. If modern man is marked by a desire to conquer earth and go beyond the limits set by nature, described by René Guenón in his obligatory The Crisis of the Modern World, then Traditional man was marked by a desire to access the Heavens and go beyond the limits set by our own all-too human natures. In order to succeed in this, we MUST, according to Cleary, open our souls, and he gives sound advice for how to achieve this in these classic essays. The third chapter in the first part is a fine review of Alain De Benoist's On Being a Pagan, also edited by Greg Johnson, as it happens.

Cleary dashes along from his classic introductory essays into brazen essays focusing on the specific religiosity of our Nordic forefathers (yet always with a pan-European focus) with his strikingly original four essays named "What God did Odin worship?", "Philosophical Notes on the Runes", "The Missing Man in Norse Cosmogony" and "Karl Maria Wiligut's Commandments of Gôt". Throughout these essays, he shows his prodigiously level of knowledge on these matters, as easily drawing on The Hermetic Tradition: Symbols and Teachings of the Royal Art by baron Julius Evola as the The Elder Eddas of Saemund Sigfusson, and the Younger Eddas of Snorre Sturleson themselves! I found myself saying throughout the book that each of the essays included are of such a quality that they would warrant a purchase of the book by themselves! I'm glad someone at least has tried to understand Wiligut's ramblings available here The Secret King: Karl Maria Wiligut, Himmler's Lord of the Runes, for I must admit they made very little sense to me at all, no matter how hard I tried before letting my mind drift away.

Finishing up the book is the long (and as it would be, definitive) essay on Patrick McGoohan's classic series The Prisoner: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] (which I will have to see after reading this essay) and of course Cleary's review of The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky: The Creator of El Topo. I had no knowledge on these subjects beforehand, but it did give me a sufficiently evocative taste to warrant a desire for more. All told, this book is, definitively, one of the better books in my rather vast library and a true gem. Five stars for a job well done to all those involved with this excellent tome.
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on October 4, 2011
Collin Cleary is one of the co-founders of the journal TYR: Myth - Culture - Tradition. SUMMONING THE GODS, a collection of 9 essays, most of them previously published in TYR and RUNA, is one of the most important theoretical/philosophical works yet on neopaganism, particularly of the Nordic variety. I rank it with Alain de Benoist's On Being a Pagan, which is pretty august company.

SUMMONING THE GODS is divided into three parts.

In the first part, "Neo-Paganism," Cleary explores the death of the gods and how they might be reborn. He argues that the old gods did not disappear so much as we became closed off to them. The then offers suggestions for how one might create new spaces in which the gods might reappear. His approach is clearly indebted to Heidegger. Cleary also criticizes Alain de Benoist's "Nietzschean" humanistic approach to neo-paganism from a Heideggerian being-centered viewpoint.

Part 2, "Nordic Paganism," consists of four essays on Nordic paganism, including "What God did Odin Worship?," an intellectually audacious and imaginative synthesis of Asatru and Tantrism. Cleary's essay on Karl Maria Wiligut actually convinced me that Wiligut was not a madman, or that he had a touch of "divine madness."

Part 3, "Among the Ruins," consists of two long essays, one on Patrick McGoohan's TV series The Prisoner, the other on The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky. The essay on THE PRISONER is the most profound discussion of the meaning of this series ever published. Cleary refutes the individualist interpretation of THE PRISONER and connects it to McGoodhan's Catholic Traditionalism and anti-modernism. The Jodorowski essay takes up the "left hand path" themes broached elsewhere in the book and concludes with the author's most recent thoughts on neo-paganism.

SUMMONING THE GODS is a very profound and learned book, yet Collin Cleary writes clear, engaging, often witty prose. This is also a beautifully designed and printed book. There is a very helpful introduction by editor Greg Johnson. Every pagan who wishes to grapple with fundamental philosophical and theological issues will find much food for thought in these pages.
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on October 6, 2011
Cleary's Summoning The Gods is masterful. Divided into nine essays, the book contains examinations and original thoughts on such arcane subjects as Karl Maria Wiligut's commandments of Got, magical self-initiation and Odin, philosophically approaching the Runic system, knowing the Gods, and (linking the title to the contents) summoning the Gods. It also contains essays that hold forth thought-provoking --and interesting!--explorations of more worldly subjects such as Patrick McGoohan's `The Prisoner', and Alain de Benoist's `On Being a Pagan'. This is one of only a handful of truly superior spiritual books to come out in recent years,(both in content and in material--this is a lovely book to hold as well as to read) and as such, I highly recommend it.
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on October 21, 2011
I only really bought the book for what I was assured was the world's best interpretation of Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner and I was not disappointed. The 24 pages that Cleary devoted to the Prisoner was worth the price of the book alone and I now know why the TV series intrigued me so many years ago.

Not being very interested in the old pagan gods it took me a while before I got around to reading the rest of the book but after doing so I would recommend it to all Christians. Cleary has rejected Christianity but considering that even some Christians recognize today's church as representative of the Laodicean Church, symbolizing the church of the last days, then he is not all wrong for Christ himself rejected that church - spewing it out of his mouth as being lukewarm.

Cleary placed himself amongst the avant- garde of Christianity when he referred to Odin as the one-eyed god. Mel Gibson rocked Christian thinkers when in his movie, The Passion, Christ was portrayed as a one-eyed god and he had everyone scrambling to the old reference books to find out what he was getting at. Another revelation of Cleary's was his referral to the Unknown God that the ancient Greeks worshiped long before St Paul or anyone else from Israel preached to them. I was mildly disappointed that he did not follow up on that one.

The modern phenomenon of endlessly reliving WW2 did not escape Cleary's book and he devoted a chapter to a real "Nazi Occultist" by the name of Karl Mariam Wiligut. While I am still none the wiser as to whether Herr Hitler was a Christian or a Pagan, I certainly appreciate the effort that Cleary put into giving his reader a glimpse into some genuine Paganism of the era.
Having teased us with some Christian esoteric thoughts, given us a peek at real Nazi Occultism and told me more than I wanted to know about Odin he devoted his closing chapter to the spiritual journey of the Chilean Jew known to film buffs as Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Cleary has written a book that anyone with some interest in the religious state of man should read and he has given us an explanation of The Prisoner that in the years to come will become required reading for every fan of Patrick McGoohan.
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on October 4, 2011
Advance Praise for SUMMONING THE GODS:

"The writings of Collin Cleary are an excellent example of the way in which old European paganism continues to question our contemporaries in a thought-provoking way. Written with elegance, his work abounds in original points of view."

--Alain de Benoist, author of On Being a Pagan

"Jung compared the absence of the gods to a dry riverbed: their shapes remain, but devoid of the energy and substance that would make them live among us as they used to. What we await is the energy and substance to flow once more into the forms. The words of Collin Cleary, his thoughts and ideas, constitute the kind of fresh and vital energy that is needed to effect the renewal of the gods in our contemporary world."

-- Dr. Stephen E. Flowers, author of The Northern Dawn

"Collin Cleary's SUMMONING THE GODS is one of the most important books in its field. Unlike those who would speak for the gods, he shows us how to bring the gods into our lives by letting Them speak for themselves. Perhaps most importantly, Cleary has given serious followers of pagan religions the philosophical tools to defend their beliefs against the most erudite critics."

-- Stephen A. McNallen, Asatru Folk Assembly

"Collin Cleary is a rare breed: a scholar of the mystical, and at the same time a mystic whose probing visions are informed by rigorous study. These are more than just eloquent and thought-provoking essays on myth, religion, or art; at their best, they resonate with the august and ancient tradition of the philosophical dialogue. Time and again, Cleary offers insights that powerfully orient the reader toward archaic ways of thinking, knowing, and seeing vividly--as if through newly opened eyes."

--Michael Moynihan, co-editor, TYR Myth-Culture-Tradition

"I have admired Collin Cleary's work in TYR and Rûna for years, and I am delighted that this volume of nine essays has arrived in the world. Cleary possesses the admirable ability to write with a frank `openness to the divine' (to use his own phrase). He does so both clearly and profoundly, on a number of inter-related subjects. The essay `Philosophical Notes on the Runes' ought to be required reading for all serious students of the runic systems. This book belongs in every radical Traditionalist library."

--Juleigh Howard-Hobson, author of Sommer and Other Poems

"Collin Cleary's Summoning the Gods is a landmark publication in the intellectual side of the Heathen revival. By applying modes of analysis ranging from Heideggerian phenomenology to Hegelian dialectic, Cleary manages to penetrate deep into the core of polytheistic religiosity. Attracting a thinker of Cleary's stature is an indicator of the vibrancy and health of modern Heathen thought. This book should be a welcome addition to any thinking Heathen's book shelf."

--Christopher Plaisance, editor of The Journal of Contemporary Heathen Thought
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on March 1, 2016
This is a wonderful book for anyone looking to dig deeper into Asatru beliefs. Well thought out arguments and postulations on the nature of reality. A good read that makes one think about the way they view the world around them.

A must read for all Asatrur
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on June 10, 2014
Pretty good read other than the 'U.S. Marine Hell Week' part on about page 183. Marines don't have 'Hell Week'. That's during Navy SEAL training. Sometimes us military guys tend to get hung up on things where someone wants to use a military reference but don't research what they're using. All it takes is a simple Google.
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