30 Days of Heathenry – Day 24 “Songs”

Question:

List three songs that strike you as particularly meaningful at this moment in regards to your practice. (Bonus points for links to YouTube, etc.)

Answer:

Heilung – Alfadhirhaiti

I could honestly post anything from Heilung here and it would click – this musical project does an amazing job of trying to recapture shamanic rituals of the pre-viking era. While nobody truly knows how close they are, they do an amazing job of staying believable and making amazing music all the same. This song is an Old Norse prayer of sorts to Odin, as most of the lyrics are the myriad of names that The Allfather is known by in the lore.

Wardruna – Lyfjaberg

“Healing Mountain” is an amazing song and video, but the song itself chronicles a persons trek to said mountain, where a pilgrimage there can heal or comfort you as long as you place an appropriate offering. The lyrics are definitely taken from the Sagas themselves, and while I am not certain where Lyfjaberg stands today, its very fitting to listen to such a song in this Covid-19 soaked year.

TÝR – Hold The Heathen Hammer High –

An anthem of sorts. For too long us Pagans have hid in the shadows, too scared to be outed or to practice in the open. perhaps now, more any any time in history, we need to stand up for our beliefs and show everyone that we aren’t evil devil-worshippers like some think.

Bonus: Depeche Mode – Blasphemous Rumors

I know what you’re thinking, this has nothing to do with Norse Paganism does it? No it does not, but it does remind me of the former life I led, as a follower of YHWH thinking that he had any love for anyone but himself. Perhaps my Gnostic tendencies are sneaking through here, but my inclination that Christians worship a God of evil makes me never want to go back in any way whatsoever. It also makes me highly cautious around his followers. Plus, Depeche Mode Rules!

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30 Days of Heathenry – Day 21 “Haiku”

狗尾草」「敗荷」の読み方は? 日本人なら知るべき『歳時記』の世界
Public Domain via Pixabay

Question:

Write a haiku about something Heathen-related that’s been on your mind lately. (5 syllables, 7, then 5 again.)

Answer:

Modern Heathenry

Watched the news today

Murder done in Odin’s name

My head in my palms

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30 Days of Heathenry – Day 19 “Library”

Old Books, Book, Old, Library, Education, Archive
Public Domain Via Pixabay

Question:

What are your favorite books in your heathen library?

Answer:

I do a lot of my reading on my Kindle, but I have collected a few solid Heathen books in physical format (which is what I suppose the spirit of this question is). I could post a number of cool books that I purchased, but have yet to read, but I figure I will use this as a way to recommend some books rather than to simply show-off. Here are three that really stand out:

The German Legends of the Brothers Grimm, Volume 1 (Translations in Folklore  Studies): Donald Ward: 9780915980727: Amazon.com: Books

Deutsche Sagen a.k.a. The German Legends of The Brother’s Grimm by Donald Ward

This was my white whale for a while. I listened to a podcast about the Pied Piper of Hameln sometime last year, and was excited by the hosts description of a book by The Brother’s Grimm on German Folklore – not the Fairy Tales, but crazy folk tales. They used parts of the book in order to try to pinpoint whether or not the story was based on a true story in any way, and surprisingly discovered that there were multiple versions of the account (Not just in this book), and that it was likely a real event. Later that week, I jumped online and tried to get an E-Book of it – NOTHING. Okay, maybe I can find a used copy on Amazon – NOTHING. Maybe an illicit scan? NOPE!! this book appeared to only be released in English once in 1979 and vanished from Earth. If I knew German at all, I’d be set, but no such luck.

I was FINALLY able to find both volumes of this for around $100.00 in fairly decent quality at a vintage books website called AbeBooks– I now know why this is likely a rare book – there are a handful of folk tales that are explicitly anti-Semitic, so I can imagine re-publishing this book could be an issue. That said, this book is pretty awesome despite the issues, and I am glad to finally own it.


The Hanged God: Óðinn Grímnir by Shani Oates

An excerpt from my previous review here:

Who would have thought that a small Canadian occult book publisher would publish perhaps one of the most interesting books on Ancient Scandinavian religion and customs this year? This is exactly what has happened with Anathema Publishing’s newest book – The Hanged God: Óðinn Grímnir by Shani Oates.

me

I assume this not the best bit of Germanic scholarship out there, but this monograph takes an interesting look at the topic of Odin and why he did some of the bizarre stuff he did (like hang himself) and expands that to discuss possible shamanic practices that may have occurred in Scandinavian countries during the migration and Viking eras. She does this by using accounts of neighboring areas (Like Russia) by people like Ibn Fadlan, and how we can assume Norsemen could have practiced the same way.

I love Anathema Publishing due to their low-Print run gorgeous leather-bound books that they produce. Some are insanely dense like most occult books, but they are entertaining none-the-less. Shani Oates actually recently released a sequel to this book that I do own, but have yet to start reading.


The Complete Sagas of Icelanders edited by Vidar Hreinsson

Not much to say here other than, I wanted a hardcover version of some Icelandic Sagas and these definitely fit the bill. I do not have all of the volumes, as this near 25 year old set has a few that are rare and cost-prohibitive, but I occasionally scroll Ebay or Amazon to see if copy pops up. I enjoy these due to inclusions of maps and other materials when talking about specific areas such as the norm for many of these stories.

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30 Days of Heathenry – Day 1 “Origins”

Runes, Magic, Heathenism, The Middle Ages, Divination
Public Domain via pixabay

NOTE: I found these questions on another blog post HERE, and I’ve seen them circulate a few times, figured I’d join in. I will answer these the best I can, and try not to sound like too much of a moron in doing so.

Question:

When did you become a heathen? Tell us about that time. (Alternatively, what flavor of faith do you practice? i.e. Asatru, Norse polytheist, vague interest in heathenism, etc.) What drew you to Heathenry?

Answers:

I’ve been a fully-fledged practicing Heathen (I call myself Norse Pagan) for merely a few years, I guess you could say I’m a novice at it at this point. That isn’t to say that I was randomly thrust into this recently, it was a slow build deeper and deeper into what I feel my spirit was behind drawn to, no matter what my brain thought I was trying to get into. I have been an avid fan of reading about the Germanic pantheon for a long time, have collected some books on the topic (now even more), and have held a general fondness for it since sometime in High school.

I think the first time anything Heathen came into my view was likely when I was around 18-19 and an avid music collector. I had just come off of a brief affinity to the short-lived Nu Metal scene and started reading a magazine called Metal Hammer which introduced me to European metal music including Norwegian Black Metal and German folk metal. Both genres have a way with how they paint the bands ancestral past, and many bands express Pagan beliefs – it was around this time that I realized there were still practicing Pagans out there aside from Wiccans I knew from school. I poured over these pages and filed away some of the great tidbits I found.

Later, during my senior year in college, I had a class that every college senior had to take, it rotated around to various topics and was based on whatever major you had. With me being a history major, I was worried it was going to be some overspecialized “Handbags in the middle ages” sort of thing, but was pleasantly surprised that year when it just happened to be “Viking and Anglo-Saxon Literature”. This class was one of my favorite college classes I had in my entire time there, and considering it was with a professor I previously did not like, I was amazed at how great it was. In this class, I was introduced to The Icelandic Sagas, Eyrbyggja saga and Egil’s Saga to name just a few – it was amazing! I ended up scoring like 115% in that class due to extra credit and my team delivering a great presentation on The Danelaw that the professor loved. Not sure why I didn’t embrace Heathenism at that time, but it was still going to be a minute.

Eyrbyggja saga (1989 edition) | Open Library
The Sagas help me to this path.

It was for the next decade or so that I considered myself to be more of an occultist leaning Gnostic, that is if I was to chart my religious views. I was dabbling in all things esoteric including Hermeticism, OTO, even a bit of reading on Luciferianism. I had become fascinated with how the Christian Bible was cobbled together by a small handful of existent texts out of thousands that were discarded, and how the Church used this selective bias for controlling the masses. Problem was, despite reading all of this material, I never felt a real spark in it. As time went by I fell further and further away from Occultism and Gnosticism.

I think in my youth, I was drawn to Gnosticism to give a giant FU to my Catholic roots – Gnosticism is often seen as being anti-Catholic. These groups also don’t have much of a community aside from stuffy Areligious scholars and outright cults. Basically, nothing to really help a novice embrace their path, no real sense of belonging. There’s also a large holdover from Abrahamic religions where the earth (and your body) is seen as a prison for the soul, almost evil. I can’t reconcile that, its against my nature to hate the natural world.

After I got divorced, I stepped back from everything that made me feel miserable, and my religion of egotistical smugness about what TRUE Christianity was, was simply not cutting it. Some people find themselves in God in times of need, for me and Gnosticism I felt nothing. It was just another thing on a list, like my favorite color or blood type. I was starting to became drawn more and more to my ancestral heritage during this time. Being a muddle of blood from Scandinavia, Dublin Ireland, Britain. Scotland, Germany and France, it seems that my entire heritage can draw a line directly to the old Gods. So I thought of the feelings I had listening to pagan music, I thought of how happy I got reading things like The Sagas and Eddas, and took the plunge.

My girlfriend and I joined a, sadly, questionable Kindred that was pretty cool for a while, but I can talk about that one a different prompt. I’ll just say we found another group and are doing great and its all looking up from here.

REVIEW: The Handbook of Asatru: The Official Guide to Learning the Ancient Pagan Tradition (2017)

A book by R.C. Fordham

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Cover art for The Handbook of Asatru: The Official Guide to Learning the Ancient Pagan Tradition (2017)

I did a review sometime last year for R.C. Fordham’s book Iron Alchemy of the Gods that, while not a bad book, was an odd detour into a subculture of obsessive gym rat heathens that somehow believe that exercising will get you into Valhalla. The entire book was half a manifesto on male weakness and a criticism of what he sees as the effimization of manhood, and the latter half was a workout guide. I honestly read it out of confusion, but did come away with a few tidbits that I liked such as a before workout prayer idea.

Once I read this on Kindle Unlimited, I started getting recommendations for some of his other books including more that I assume are macho bravado such as a book on how to be a modern berserker, but then I saw this, The Handbook of Asatru: The Official Guide to Learning the Ancient Pagan Tradition, and was intrigued. What does Mr. Fordham believe the building blocks of Asatru are considering his predisposition to all things MANLY?

This book was written for those seeking answers to the Asatru tradition. It is a comprehensive guide that offers all the basics of the religion and much more. It is broken into 3 parts. Part I discusses the proper views of the Norse Religion and Cosmos. Part II details the cosmology of Asatru. It includes in detail, the descriptions of the gods and goddesses, as well as the realms of Yggdrasil. Part III then takes a look at the practices of modern Day Asatru as long as with advice on how to grow your spiritual life and connection with the gods and goddesses of our ancestors.

Amazon sales page

Surprisingly, this wasn’t the colossal trainwreck that I was both expecting and honestly hoping to see. You see folks, I’m a connoisseur of cringe, and I was eagerly chomping at the proverbial bit for some. What I did get was a competent, albeit basic overview of Asatru, and how one can start practicing it. It reminds me of all of the Wicca books geared towards teenagers I would see at the now-defunct bookstore I worked at many moons ago. While no means a classic of literature or scholarship, The Handbook of Asatru: The Official Guide to Learning the Ancient Pagan Tradition lays out a baseline set of views and practices that one could follow if they were just starting to dabble in the Northern Traditions. It isn’t bogged down with too many long Icelandic words or complex mythological descriptions, so it is a bit too basic for anyone that has actually been studying lore for a while.

Fordham does occasionally sneak a bit of his trademark philosophy in there, but its not too “in your face”, and honestly isn’t as bad as some of the stuff I’ve seen in more folkish publications.

So, can I really recommend this? Since its VERY cheap, possibly free, and isn’t a total trainwreck….sure? It depends on how well-versed in Norse Paganism you are. Its very possible you will leaf through this as if reading a Wikipedia article and gain no substance from it. If you are new to Asatru and want an idea of what certain terms mean, how to hold a Blót, how to do a prayer, and a list of Gods to pray to, this might be a good fit.

If you would like a copy of this book for Yourself, please click HERE

REVIEW: Iron Alchemy of the Gods: Feed Your Body With the Strength and Wisdom of Valhalla (2015)

A book by RC Fordham

BY FORGING A WILL AND BODY OF IRON WE MOLD OURSELVES
LIKE THE GODS WHO REIGN UP HIGH. THERE ODIN WILL GREET US AT THE GATES AS WORTHY OF HIS HALLS.

– RC Fordham yelling for some reason on the Amazon page

I mentioned in my last article, that I had purchased Kindle Unlimited and started using my Kindle as my primary reading set-up before I go to bed every night. Generally, this has been a good thing with some nice, quick, yet informative reads, however not all books can be winners! I have recently started a bit of light weight training for physical fitness and due to health reasons – I saw RC Fordham (who has a series of books in Kindle Unlimited’s Library) had a book on physical fitness with a pagan tinge to it, and figured – “why not?”

Somewhere in the world there are men training. They are training to kill you. They are training to be better than you. To over take you when the get they chance. They have not fallen for the lie that weakness is some kind of virtue to be admired.

Now the question stands… Are you prepared?

Preparation begins by becoming strong. The stronger you are the harder you are to kill. As we train to become the elite warriors of our gods, we are transforming ourselves into a living and breathing rune of strength. Our rune is Uruz. Our mission is to become it with no apologies or excuses.

– excerpt from Amazon sales page

Sadly, Iron Alchemy of the Gods: Feed Your Body With the Strength and Wisdom of Valhalla (2015) is not something I can recommend to pagans or even weightlifters for that matter. As you cans see above, the entire philosophical side of the book is presented in this weird alarmist manner that seems to be wanting you to be on edge and start furiously exercising as to not displease Odin by being too weak for Ragnarok. The majority of this section is basically trying to make the reader hate weakness, weak people, and left-leaning politics whilst striving to become a killing machine devoting the whole process to the Aesir. It’s honestly a bit much, and is not supported in any lore that I’ve read. I honestly don’t know what I was expecting, since we don’t really see anything like a Nordic weightlifting manual from 1000 AD anywhere, but it wasn’t this for sure.

This book, confusingly, also veers pretty heavily into this unnecessary anti-modern society viewpoint that I don’t wholly disagree with, but the way it’s presented is very much stilted in what I presume to be Mr. Fordham’s one-sided political beliefs, something I do not care about whatsoever.

I will not say that there was nothing in this book of worth, as I found the section on meditation very interesting and actually plan to use something from this book in my daily workout routine. Fordham basically outlines the importance of being strong in both mind and body and suggests meditation to help hone one’s skills. I won’t give away the entire thing on here, but he suggests envisioning the Rune Uruz, widely attributed to be the rune symbolizing “strength” before your workout to try to embody every virtue of the rune. This of course, has no basis in any historical practice in any way, but for most people that use rune magic, this is an interesting idea.

The rest of the book is basically a list of recommended exercises one can do at the gym with pictures to ensure proper form – I would say this amounts to about 60% of the content.

All-in-all reading this book was an interesting experience – Like stated before I was not a fan of the contents, but it is not all bad. The meditation ideas are very good, and something that I plan to try for myself. I have read a few more of Mr. Fordham’s books since starting this read-a-thon and most of them are better than this one.

If you would like a copy of this book for yourself, follow this LINK