The Way of The Tribe – Svarog Srbija [interview]
Our intention for making this interview was to show alternative paths for those of you who are not satisfied with the extremities modern rodnover movement was dominated by – totally liberal and totally fascist, or those of you not satisfied with the modern way of life in general. We managed to get for you a small peak into a very closed group. At first, the member we contacted did not even want neither to confirm nor deny his affiliation with the tribe we were looking for. The deciding factor that broke the ice, much to our pride, was the opinion that Slavic Chronicles have.
It turned out that they are fans of our site and respect it for the quality content we deliver. Ladies and gentleman, here is our conversation with Darko Djokic of the Svarog Srbija tribe.
Slavic Chronicles: Can you explain in a few words what Operation Werewolf is?
Darko Djokic: Certainly. Operation Werewolf is, beyond all else, a network. A network of like-minded people who refuse to be a part of this decaying modern world.
SC: Your tribe is a point in this network. How do you guys meet and what are you about?
DD: Yes. Well, we have known each other for a few years now already and I think OP WW was just a natural progression for us. We simply wanted more out of life, and considering how things are going now, I think we are going in the right direction. We have a rule to meet at least once a month. All of us are into weightlifting and more specifically powerlifting/bodybuilding. One of our main interests currently is starting a lot of projects and even business aspects under the banner of Svarog Srbija.
SC: So you guys are about working on yourself, expansion and growth. You mentioned the physical aspects of that, but is spirituality also part of that process?
DD: Yes, exactly. We do think that one cannot go without the other, which is not something you see now very often. It is quite common to see “neo pagans” who worship Svarog or Perun in the forests while doing nothing productive in the process. Most of them are either students, junkies, or modern hippies who possess no talents, no skills, nothing that gives them value in the real world. On the other hand, you have the complete opposites: the people who are in it just for the physical things. They are absolutely covered by pagan tattoos, they constantly talk about their “sacred ancestors,” but they never do traditional things because tradition is boring. We try to be different in that regard, because as the saying goes “Mens sana in corpore sano”, or “A sound mind in a sound body” completely explains that. We do try to learn a lot about our almost forgotten history but we also try to build upon it. And we also believe that a man should strive for perfection, a synergy of physical and spiritual, of mind and matter.
SC: That’s true. People seem to forget that ancient philosophers were always warriors or did some form of combat sports, whether it was wrestling or spear throwing. Physical development absolutely alters the mind on many levels. From self-esteem, confidence, aggression, to stimulating parts of the brain related to memory capacity and creativity. As you noticed, in modern times people who are merging spiritual and practical aspects of ancient cults are extremely rare. And that is the golden middle. I believe that modern paganism should create new rituals and even mythological elements on the basis of a deep understanding of ancient mentality. Don’t you think that many pagan groups lack actual knowledge, that they are repeating the wishful writings of some modern homegrown “Homers” or “Snorris,” and yet others are focusing too much on recreating the past? Do any of those roads lead anywhere?
DD: Yes, I agree completely. The problem with paganism today is trying to revive it instead of building upon it. An even bigger problem is that we simply don’t know much about the Pre-Christian faith. Simply for the fact that we don’t have written descriptions, and even the ones we do have were written by the Christian scholars. And to make it even worse, those writings were done a few centuries after the Christianization of the Slavs. I think we should do our best not to forget the past, but we should do even more by focusing on the present and the future. We don’t revive our pagan ways. We are simply trying to go over the barriers that are imposed. As you stated, we should focus on creating something more, creating our own rituals instead of trying to be some sort of LARP-ers (Live Action Role Playing).
SC: I think that what draws people to rodnovery is the fact that they see value and wisdom in the Old Ways. For me, it is very important to understand how my forefathers were thinking. Yet it looks like most groups are trying to reshape the image of their ancestors to their modern minds. Probably the worst thing that happened to modern paganism is that it was overtaken by hippies. They speak about ecology, free love, drug abuse, pacifism (or feminism) and other modern myths about ancient Europeans. Yet in reality, our forebears were extremely radical and serious about religion, rituals, morality, laws of the tribe etc. They were highly militarized both mentally and practically. According to chroniclers, every Pomeranian from child to old granny used to carry some kind of weapon at all times. Does your tribe explore those military aspects of the old religion?
DD: Yes, absolutely. If you really think about it, it makes perfect sense. If you look at the past you will know that Slavs were initially divided into Tribes. And why would anyone want to have someone in their tribe who is a junkie, a lunatic or someone who possesses no skills? It was very simple, if you can be of assistance to the tribe you got in and reap all of the benefits of that tribe, but you also have to contribute. The same thing can be said about us. There are only three of us, yet we have existed for a bit more than a year. When we are asked why we don’t have more members we simply answer that we don’t want anyone to be with us, we want someone who can expand the glory and legend of our tribe. Regarding your question about militarism. All of us believe that might is right. All of us believe that in the end, violence is what everyone resorts to. And we should not run away from that fact. Even the Byzantine scholars wrote that the Slavs are peaceful people who cherish freedom above all else, but if someone should try to take away their freedom, they would respond with brutal force. At least a few times a month we organize some sparring after our gym work. Because every man should learn to punch and take a punch.
SC: I think you just came to the most essential element which makes difference between Svarog Srbija and normal rodnovery groups. The difference between what works and what doesn’t. The reason why rodnovery was twisted to such unrecognizable form in which we know it today is the fact that it was overtaken by social rejects, hippies and other weirdoes. It was possible because it is hard to find groups more inclusive than pagans. It’s the same for Scandinavian odinism, Celtic druidism or Slavic rodnovery. They all want to fight their childish “war” with monotheism by numbers instead of quality. I saw how even small groups broke into smaller ones. All because they were taking INSIDE people from the OUTSIDE. They are taking anybody and it is causing constant internal struggles. When I suggest they put up some even elementary standards, they respond that there is too little rodnovers to afford any kind of selection or discrimination. As long as they fail to understand this basic mistake, they will always be what they are now – a junkyard of personalities and wasted opportunities.
DD: I think what makes us different from those groups is the fact that we really are not looking for new members. We don’t want to become a pitiful mass of morons. We adopted some principles from groups that are known to work. For example in order to join a MC (Motorcycle Club) you have a lot of different phases. And you are never promised that you will join, so a lot of people actually fail to join just because the principles are set so high. I think that that is a good thing, you want to weed out the problematic ones. Paul Waggener for instance said that people think just because they are white, or because they practice same sort of “Norse paganism,” they can join the Wolves, when in reality that means nothing. They are not as special as they think. Again, something to think about is the fact that everyone that becomes a part of your tribe is a person you and the rest of your tribesmen are somewhat responsible for. We all know that a chain is as strong as its weakest link, so just adding a lot of weak members will eventually destroy the group. I can say for a fact that ALL of us in Operation Werewolf despise weakness, and weakness has a tendency to spread like the plague, so that is why it is important to always have high principles, and to not let weak people be a part of your tribe. After all, quality over quantity.
SC: So you create your own rituals and symbolism. I won’t ask about them. Instead, tell us what is the purpose of ritual in your opinion?
DD: Yes, we do. We view the purpose of ritual as something that strengthens our ideals. Ritual is the synergy of mind and matter. It is supposed to recharge you, make you more alive. And give you something the modern world cannot. Ritual is the seal of everything you do as a tribe, it gives you identity, purpose and a wider outlook on the “bigger mission” of your tribe. And the important thing. Our ritual divides “us” from “them”. Because once you lose ritual, you lose identity. And without identity you are just a sheep within a mindless flock.
SC: Our ancestors were deadly serious about their faith. They were feeding their Gods with the souls of humans and animals by decapitating them among giant pyres and burying the heads – the part of the body where soul was believed to be residing. Wolves of Vinland are using goats in their rituals. I won’t ask you if you do similar things. Instead, tell me what, in your eyes, is the significance of blood and fire in the ritual?
DD: From what I know, Slavs would usually sacrifice the most important things to the gods for general luck and fortune in the coming times. Usually it was grains and meat, because that was considered luxury, you would never know how the next season would turn out. But there are also some studies pointing out that they would sacrifice their enemies to the war gods to grant themselves blessings. I can only speak for myself, but I am a strong believer in the principles of Blood and Soil. I believe that this is something we can all relate to. We are all connected with our native land, and with our people. Again, simplicity is the answer most of the times. If something is proven to have worked for over 2000 years why would we think we should abandon it now?
SC: Blood is the life itself, the highest, most noble and valuable currency. There is no power in ritual or oath without blood. Fire is a symbol of transformation and a messenger between humans and Gods. I will add that water symbolizes the border between the worlds. “Drowning” is often used in ritual of symbolic death and resurrection as member of the group. But let’s continue. Paganism, or more precisely, the cult of Svarog/Svarožić is just a basis for your activities in the real world; is that right? From what I understand, it is the fuel and fire for your tribe to struggle for the two holy words of our forebears, which are often forgotten by modern rodnovers. Those are “Slava” – fame and “Hvala” – glory. Religion is not a goal in and of itself? And if so, could you explain to other rodnovers why?
DD: We use Svarog just as something we should strive for. We chose the name because in most Slavic tribes Svarog was a god they praised, and something that is easily identifiable with Slavs. In terms of actual religious work, we are really not into that. There are other, more knowledgeable people who would do a better job than us in that matter. After all, the gods and their deeds can be also used as valuable role models in life in general.
SC: What advice would you give to rodnovers who aren’t satisfied with half-measures and paths without destination in modern “neo-paganism”? How can one start their own tribe?
DD: It really doesn’t matter if they are rodnovers or not. Everyone should focus on building a tribe. You always want to be surrounded by people who can hold you accountable and who you hold accountable on becoming the absolute best versions of themselves. And it isn’t really that hard to do. Sometimes overthinking can stop people from doing it, which is a shame. Just find a few good friends you hang out with or train together. And make a small ritual for yourselves. For instance, every Friday night we get together and train, and after that we go and grab something to eat. And you can maybe plan on visiting a specific destination every four to five months, something you all enjoy. It could be an old fort, a forest, an old temple, whatever. It doesn’t really matter as long as you all evolve together. This is where rituals start. This is what will give you identity. And people from the outside will see it. They will see a group of people sticking out of the herd of sheep. It’s like a fire, the stronger you become as a tribe the bigger the fire becomes, attracting more and more people from the outside.
SC: Is there anything else you would like to say?
DD: I urge everyone to find or start a tribe. Go to the gym, learn to throw a punch and to take one. Go explore, build your own rituals and traditions instead of trying to revive the old ones. Build yourself into the person you always wanted to be. Connect with like-minded people across the world and build a network. 92!
SC: So in other words: join Operation Werewolf. Thank you for this conversation. If our readers will have any more questions we will surely ask.
DD: Absolutely! Thank you for the opportunity you presented me with.