The following are some book reviews I wrote on Amazon.
The Norse Myths
by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Simply put _the_ book to read to learn about Norse lore as someone new to it…
This book is basically a retelling of the lore of the northern gods/goddesses rewritten in a modern very easy to understand story form, targeted for the modern reader. It is accurate, accessible, and enjoyable to read. For anyone interested in Asatru, or Heathenism, or Norse-Paganism, it is a must read. For anyone interested in the gods/goddesses, and mythology of the Vikings this is the book.
Essential Asatru: Walking the Path of Norse Paganism
by Diana L. Paxson
Best Asatru book for getting a general overview as to what Asatru is..
This book is the best for explaining, in an accurate, well written, well researched way, over all what Asatru/Heathenism is. It gives a very balanced, fair, and easy to understand explanation of things. There is not much here of a how-to nature about Asatru, just explains well what it is, for those totally new to it.
Hammer of the Gods: Anglo-Saxon Paganism in Modern Times
by Swain Wodening
Good ideas and accurate research, poorly proof-read and filled with typos
The ideas presented in this book, and the accuracy of the information are great enough to overcome the very poor job at proof-reading, with all the glaring typos in this book. I do highly recommend this book since it is very informative and knowledgeable. Just be aware that there are a lot of bad grammar mistakes in it, some of which even change the meaning of a few things in ways that may mislead people new to the subject being discussed. If this book was properly edited I would give it 6 stars were that possible.
Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic
by Edred Thorsson
The standard for learning the runes…
This and Runelore are the books to read to learn about the runes. All other books should be gauged according to the information in these two books to determine accuracy.
Runelore: A Handbook of Esoteric Runology
by Edred Thorsson
The standard for learning the runes…
This and Futhark are the books to read to learn about the runes. All other books should be gauged according to the information in these two books to determine accuracy.
Northern Magic: Rune Mysteries and Shamanism
by Edred Thorsson
It is a nice pleasant read for learning some other interesting runic and northern topics
This book is the one to read to learn about the Younger Futhark runes. It also has some interesting information about Pennsylvania-Dutch Hex signs. After reading some of Thorsson’s other books first this is a nice one to read to learn about these other things. It is actually more nicely written too as far as a smooth easy read then most his other books too.
Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner
by Raven Kaldera
Best book for deepening the spirituality of those into northern traditions…
This book is not for those new to Asatru/Heathenism/Norse-Paganism, but is instead for those whom are already familiar with the northern traditions and already have their own practice going. Basically what this book is about is deepening ones spirituality and this it does amazingly well like nothing else. Highly recommended for anyone on any of the northern spiritual paths. If you love the gods/goddesses of the north and have a spiritual practice involving them then do yourself a favour and read this book.
The Norse Viking concept of bad wasn’t so black and white as many people nowadays tend to think. It is more the idea of someone either being in frith with their family/tribe/group, vs going too far and being too wild in their actions and being outlawed and considered dangerous basically. Loki is a good example of this. He isn’t evil really, just sort of one who was all about testing the limits of social order and bringing in new ideas. For a long time he was a mix of both positive and negative in regard to his value to the Aesir, until he eventually went too far and also by this taunted his wyrd to go down a darker path that threw him out of being in frith with the Aesir. Norse concepts of right and wrong and righting wrong are more about balance and restoring balance, than about moral judgment or condemnation, which is a Christian cultural influence and way of thinking. Sadly many Heathens are still far too tainted by Christian thinking and this creates a environment of discord and a general lack of frith in the Heathen scene in general. Generally speaking proper Heathen way of thinking is very open minded and accepting that others outside ones family/tribe/group will have different ways of thinking. The greatest value for historical heathens when it came to actions was to take actions that upheld the frith within their family/tribe/group. Even frith between groups was important as addressed by the codified system of weirguild, and addressing actions with similar counter actions when actions throw out of balance frith. A good example of how what is considered proper differs between each family/tribe/group is that for the Vanir it is considered proper and normal for sisters and brothers to have sex with each other, and even the Aesir do not judge the Vanir for doing so within their own group as they see that as what is proper Vanir behavior, but the Aesir would not allow that kind of behavior by members of the Aesir as that is not proper Aesir behavior. This concept of differences of what is considered proper behavior I feel also applies with regards to those who follow different gods or goddesses as their patron. Like what is proper behavior for an Odin follower, I feel is not the same as what is proper behavior for a Tyr follower, or a Freyja follower. I feel that this concept of proper behavior for each depending on whom they connect with spiritually applies not only in regards to types of actions not allowed or considered taboo, but also in regards to types of behaviors that should be done. For example Odin followers should be into runes and should study magick, and a male follower of Odin having sex with women outside of his marriage (so long as his wife is ok with him doing so) is also acceptable as that is part of honoring the ways of Odin. One who follows a god or goddess that has a more strict code of conduct has to be more strict about their actions and behaviors as this reflects the values of the god/goddess they follow. Acting in ways that respects the value of the god/goddess you follow is the act of staying in frith with your patron and respecting the concepts they stand for. Of course I feel that when you are part of a group you should honor the rules the group has for actions when dealing with the group, it’s members, or doing any activities which represent the group; this is staying in frith with the group. Staying in frith with your group as well as with your patron god/goddess is very important I feel. Actually it would be considered more worse in the Norse concept of morality to harshly judge others as this is harmful to frith. Unless the other person is directly living within your family/tribe/group it would be considered wrong to judge someone else unless that person takes some action which causes harm to your family/tribe/group/friends/allies/gods/goddesses. judging others without cause is actually harmful to the frith of your own family/tribe/group/friends/allies as that invites conflict that often times will have a negative impact on all those you hold troth with. The most important thing for proper actions in all cases is to act in ways that uphold frith, honors your troth connections with others, and upholds any oaths you have made. If you keep in mind these three things then you should be making the best possible actions for all situations.
This is what Wikipedia has to say about frith:
Frith is an Old English word meaning “peace; freedom from molestation, protection; safety, security”.
In terms of Anglo-Saxon and post-Anglo-Saxon culture, the term has a considerably broader scope and meaning. Frith has a great deal to do not only with the state of peace but also with the nature of social relationships conducive to peace. Moreover, it has strong associations with stability and security.
The word friþgeard meaning “asylum, sanctuary” was used for sacrosanct areas. A friþgeard would then be any enclosed area given over to the worship of the gods.
Frith is also used in the context of fealty, as an expression of the relationship between a lord and his people.
Frith is inextricably related to the state of kinship, which is perhaps the strongest indicator of frith. In this respect, the word can be coterminous with another significant Anglo-Saxon root-word, sib (from which the word ‘sibling’ is derived) – indeed the two are frequently interchanged. In this context, frith goes further than expressing blood ties, and encompasses all the concomitant benefits and duties which kinship engenders.
Frith also has a legal significance: peace was effectively maintained in Anglo-Saxon times by the frith-guild, an early manifestation of summary justice.
Troth means loyalty to all those you hold relationships with. Loyalty means to stay by them and to maintain a tie with them and to keep any promises you make towards them.
Here is an online defination of troth:
1. Faith or loyalty when pledged in a solemn agreement or undertaking.
fidelity – faith – allegiance – faithfulness – loyalty
This concept of faithfulness does not mean sexual faithfulness _unless_ it has been specifically agreed that this is part of what it means between both parties. For example Odin is marries to Frigga, yet he has many lovers. He would never consider wishing to leave his marriage to Frigga or having a greater overall connection to other women than he does to her. His other sexual interactions are kept in the context of being not something that competes with the unique relationship he holds with Frigga. Many of the Norse gods/goddesses have sex with others outside their marriages. For some of them this is alright as that is part of the agreed or implied arrangement for those relationships. As well some of the gods/goddesses are sexually monogamous. This really depends on what is the agreed relationship.
As you see part of troth is also to keep ones word. Most important is to uphold oaths. Oath breakers are the one type of person in the concept of Viking Norse culture that are totally unforgivable; at least those who intentionally break oaths. Those who purposely break oaths with intention to cause harm are called nithlings and are considered to be worth less than dirt. What this means is that it is important you keep your word. Of course if something happens that you cannot keep your word then you need to own up to this and talk about it with the ones you made the promise to and see if another arrangement can be agreed upon. Keeping ones word does not mean being a inhuman robot, sometimes circumstances do come up that don’t allow someone to keep their word, the point is that the person does their best and communicates with the others involved when they cannot and is responsible for their actions in this way.
In modern heathenism there is something called thews, this it a codified set of principles that it is considered good (by some people) to follow. None of the existing modern thews are actually something written down as principles that one should or has to follow, from the Viking times. They are all modern creations. Many of them are good ideas (at least for some people). The most popular thew in current day Heathenism is the Nine Noble Virtues, but this is not the only one. There is others such as the Anglo-Saxon related Heathenism one called the The Twelve Æþeling Þews. There is also a very nice one associated with the Vanir, the Vanic Virtues (the one I personally follow). None of these thews are in any sense required for anyone to follow who is Heathen. Like mentioned earlier the only basic principles that must be followed by everyone is respect for frith, troth, and keeping oaths (ones word). Really as was discussed earlier, if one does or does not follow one of other more than one of these thews or some other thews of guiding principles should be determined by what agreements any groups you have troth with wish, in combination with and most important of all; what your patron gods/goddesses wish you to follow. For those not connected to any Heathen group than following what your patron gods/goddesses wish is the only factor that matters in deciding which, if any, of the lists of thews is right for you to follow.
Hear me pronounce the runes so you can learn how to. The rune names are chanted in Heathen magick. It is very important to learn how to properly pronounce them.
It is important to learn about the Vikings and their culture in studying and learning Heathenism.
• drinking horn
• mead (or beer or wine or even can use juice)
• spring water in small bowl
• fresh pine twig
• offering bowl
• wand (if you don’t have one you can use your fingers instead)
• Thor’s Ritual Hammer (optional, can use it for the Hammer Hallowings)
This ritual, as are all Heathen or northern rituals, is done while facing north, except where otherwise noted. The altar should be such that it is in front of you when you face north.
If you don’t know how to pronounce the runes see my webpage on how to pronounce them here.
Put spring water in small bowl. Trace 3 Laguz runes over it.:
“LAGUZ… LAGUZ… LAGUZ”
“From the Well of Wyrd does this water flow, and to the Well of Wyrd does it return”
Make Hammer Sign at item and then splash each ritual item with blessed water using the pine twig and for each item say:
“I bless this ______ with the waters of the Well of Wyrd”
Now trace Hammer Sign at person being blessed and/or self and splash them with water using twig.
“I bless ______ with the waters of the Well of Wyrd”
Use twig to splash ritual space with water.
“I bless this space with the waters of the Well of Wyrd”
Few silent deep breaths.
All stand in Elhaz position.
“Bi-Frost’s rainbow light shine down upon this space and myself so that I may form a portal between the worlds of Asgard and Midgard”
Few silent deep breaths.
All face north and trace the Hammer Sign while chanting:
“Hammer in the north hallow and ward this stead”
All turn east and trace the Hammer Sign while chanting:
“Hammer in the east hallow and ward this stead”
All turn south and trace the Hammer Sign while chanting:
“Hammer in the south hallow and ward this stead”
All turn west trace the Hammer Sign while chanting:
“Hammer in the west hallow and ward this stead”
All return to north and look up and trace Hammer sign while chanting:
“Hammer above hallow and ward this stead”
All look below and trace Hammer sign while chanting:
“Hammer below hallow and ward this stead”
Return to facing north and all stand in the Elhaz position and chant:
“Around me and within me Asgard and Midgard”
and move into the Dagaz position in the end.
Few silent deep breaths.
(Highly recommended optional casting of the rune ring)
(face north and trace the rune shape in the air before you using your wand and loudly chant: “FEHU!”)
(face north-east and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “URUZ”)
(face east and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “THURISAZ”)
(face south-east and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “ANSUZ”)
(face south and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “RAIDHO”)
(face south-west and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “KENAZ”)
(face west and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “GEBO”)
(face north-west and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “WUNJO”)
(face north and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “HAGALAZ”)
(face north-east and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “NAUDHIZ”)
(face east and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “ISA”)
(face south-east and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “JERA”)
(face south and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “EIHWAZ”)
(face south-west and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “PERTHRO”)
(face west and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “ELHAZ”)
(face north-west and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “SOWILO”)
(face north and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “TIWAZ”)
(face north-east and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “BERKANO”)
(face east and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “EHWAZ”)
(face south-east and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “MANNAZ”)
(face south and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “LAGUZ”)
(face south-west and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “INGWAZ”)
(face west and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “DAGAZ”)
(face north-west and trace the rune shape and loudly chant: “OTHALA”)
(Few silent deep breaths)
Hold up the bottle of mead:
“I now brew the holy mead of inspiration. Won by high Odin long ago!”
Chant into the bottle of mead:
“Odhroerir! Son! Bodhn!”
“Now I hallow this drink with staves of light!”
Chant and trace these runes over the bottle:
Few silent deep breaths.
(Use the pine twig to splash a bit of the liquid in the offering bowl on yourself, on any others in the ritual with you, on your altar, on the ritual space, and in all general areas of your dwelling as well. Does not need to be much splashed around, just a little is fine. This helps to imbue more of the energies of the ritual on you, and others who may also in the ritual with you, and to your place.)
“Now my rite has ended. May all gathered here fare well on their return to their home places. And may the bonds of frith between us grow, gods, wights, and humans alike. Until we meet again.”
Pour out the offerings from the offering bowl outside:
“A gift for a gift”
Trace gebo at spot offerings were given to.
Pour out remaining blessed water outside.
“I pour the sacred water back to the Earth so it may find it’s way back to the Well of Wyrd”
Now at this point it is very important to ground your energies. This should always be done after every ritual. Not doing so can lead to problems in the long-run. Grounding is like shifting gears in a car, except it is the process of shifting brain states. During rituals you create a trance like brain state, which is desired for during rituals or for during any spiritual practices. But trance states are not good for doing everyday mundane things. You need to return your mind back to the normal state of consciousness after the ritual is finished. That is what grounding is.
The most simple and common method to ground is to visualize yourself as a tree and see roots growing into the ground from the base of your spine and going down into the earth. Sometimes rituals require industrial strength grounding as they can really create some intense energy. In that case you can try the following triple grounding method.:
First visualize your chakras. You picture in your mind closing first the top one and then seeing a sort of lid closing over it, then proceed with the net lower chakra and so on. You want to leave the bottom most chakra, the root chakra fully open as this is your connection to grounding. Don’t be concerned about having the others closed, the normal proper function of them is that they open and close as needed. Problems with being ungrounded happen when one of more of them are stuck open. Only the bottom one is to be left open at all times.
Next step is to picture a ball of pure white light above your head. Now let this white light slowly descent downward into your body and slowly move lower. As it descends it takes with it any unneeded, old, and negative energies. It is sort of sweeping downward through your energies taking all you no longer need with it. Once it reaches your feet let it move lower till it passes down through the floor. If you are on an upper close let it pass all the way to the ground. Let the earth take this energy to recycle it.
Now final step is to do the traditional grounding. Picture yourself as a tree. Visualize roots coming out of the base of your spine and going down into the Earth. Feel the calmness of a tree, the rooted solidness.
If after these three things you still feel hyper or spaced out you can either eat some food, or put a small amount of salt on your tongue. Another thing you can do is prostrate down to the ground, placing your head on the ground and stay like this for a few moments.
Feel free to copy and use this ritual so long as you acknowledge the source.