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.

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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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Free Pagan Learning: Top 5 Courses Currently Available for Pagan Learners

For the past decade there has been a revolution in regards to how college educations are attained. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are free online courses available for anyone to enroll. I have found five courses for this list that I would like to share with everyone! I have personally completed all of these, and enjoyed them a lot. (In no particular order)

For this edition of Free Pagan Learning, we’ll concentrate on history classes. Ones that don’t delve too much in practical magic, or modern practices, but the historical foundations we all use to further our own beliefs.


Via Coursera – Free class, with optional fee if you want a certificate / credential. Self-paced with deadlines, but you can reset them if you fall behind.
There is also a companion class called A Voice of Their Own. Women’s Spirituality in the Middle Ages, but it’s not really Pagan per se.

From the site: “Magical thought has always attracted human imagination. In this course we will introduce you to the Middle Ages through a wide conception of magic. Students will have an approach to medieval culture, beliefs and practices from the perspective of History and History of Science. Popular magic, as well as learned magic (alchemy, geomancy and necromancy) will be addressed. Moreover, we will also deal with how eastern practices and texts influenced western culture. In July 2016, the course will contain a brand-new module devoted to astrology. Magic in the Middle Ages offers a captivating overview of medieval society and promotes reflection about certain stereotypes associated with this period.”

Link to Course HERE


EDX.org – Free class, self-paced. Only problem is that class is archived so you can no longer pay to get a certificate nor track your progress anymore.

The Medieval Icelandic Sagas is an introductory course on the single most characteristic literary genre of Medieval Iceland. Mainly written in the 13th century, the Icelandic Sagas are comprised of roughly 40 texts of varying length. In this course, you will learn about three Sagas, written at different times, with the aim of giving an overview of the writing period and the genre as a whole. These are Eyrbyggja Saga, Njáls Saga and Grettis Saga. We will explore the landscape and archaeology of Iceland to see how they can add to our understanding of the Sagas as well as take an in-depth look at the most memorable characters from the Sagas.

Link to Course HERE


TGC/TGC+ – While this may appear to be insanely expensive, one can actually get a free one month trial for “The Great Courses Plus” and burn through this entire class before the month ends then cancel. If you want to keep it, its about the same as a Netflix subscription. Or you could do like me and buy used DVDs of the $400.00 course on Ebay for $20.00!

The Vikings: Kenneth W. Harl: 9781598030693: Amazon.com: Books
Why Pay $400?

As explorers and traders, the Vikings played a decisive role in the formation of Latin Christendom, and particularly of Western Europe. In this course, you will study the Vikings not only as warriors, but also in other roles for which they were equally extraordinary: merchants, artists, kings, raiders, seafarers, shipbuilders, and creators of a remarkable literature of myths and sagas.

Link to Course HERE


Via Coursera – Two classes, but they are basically halves of one class. Free classes, with optional fee if you want a certificate / credential. Self-paced with deadlines, but you can reset them if you fall behind.

Colossal pyramids, imposing temples, golden treasures, enigmatic hieroglyphs, powerful pharaohs, strange gods, and mysterious mummies are features of Ancient Egyptian culture that have fascinated people over the millennia. The Bible refers to its gods, rulers, and pyramids. Neighboring cultures in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean wrote about its god-like kings and its seemingly endless supply of gold.

Link to Courses HERE and HERE


Youtube – Free series of Lectures on Youtube from an Ivy League school. additional info found on the course website

Major developments in the political, social, and religious history of Western Europe from the accession of Diocletian to the feudal transformation. Topics include the conversion of Europe to Christianity, the fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam and the Arabs, the “Dark Ages,” Charlemagne and the Carolingian renaissance, and the Viking and Hungarian invasions.

Link to Course HERE

REVIEW: The Wife of Freyr – Chapter 1 – Yngvi-Freyr (2019)

The cover of The Wife of Freyr: Chapter 1: Yngvi-Freyr

AD 970. Gunnar Thangbrand, eager missionary of the Danish king Harald Bluetooth rages on the coasts of Norway. His goal is to convert the pagan Norwegians to Christianity, to make them faithful citizens of the Danish Empire. But the Norwegians resist bitterly and fight back the Danes. Gunnar, the only survivor of the danish mission, flees from the vengeful Norwegians to the east. To Sweden, Where the Prayers of the bloody Fertility God Yngvi-Freyr are living.

Amazon sales page

The Wife of Freyr: Chapter 1: Yngvi-Freyr (2019) Is an inexpensive historical comic you can find on Amazon that is based on an Icelandic þættir, or short story in the Sagas, called Ögmundar þáttr dytts ok Gunnars helmings which loosely translates to “Ögmundar’s death and Gunnar’s half” (or somesuch). This comic is based entirely on the second half involving the character of Gunnar Thangbrand. An English translation of this Icelandic Saga can be found here for free, if you would like to read it to compare.

In both this and the original story, Gunnar has been suspected of murder and has fled to Sweden, where pockets of paganism still persist, especially fertility cults devoted to Freyr. He has gone there to convert any Pagans he finds to the ways of Christianity for King Harald Bluetooth. Rumor has it, that the Swedes have appointed a young and beautiful woman to serve the fertility god, and Gunnar becomes “acquainted” with this young priestess. He helps her drive Freyr’s wagon with the god effigy in it which angers Freyr. Freyr attacks Gunnar and he has to make a promise to become Christian when he returns to Norway in order to fight against it. He is able to win, and decides to dress as Freyr since the battle had destroyed the wooden statue.

There is more to the story, but that is all that is covered in this chapter.

Internal page of The Wife of Freyr: Chapter 1: Yngvi-Freyr

The artwork in this book is pretty good, you can tell that the author, Volkmar Fleckenstein, is a pinup artist of some degree. I especially like the details he puts into facial expressions and emotions, seeing the various bits of character design is awesome. The comic is in a grayscale color palette, which is in no way bad, it almost gives it an old-school barbarian comic vibe ala Conan or Red Sonja. It’s done digitally, and has a bit of simplicity to the style, but the linework is crisp and dark, so it all fits together very well. The lettering is organized well, and everything is easy to read with no spelling or grammar issues that I noticed, granted I wasn’t scouring with a fine-toothed comb of nitpicking, but everything seemed above-board.

While I did enjoy this (quite a bit, actually), I felt as if the story is presented in a way that makes Gunnar Thangbrand easily one of the least likable protagonists I’ve ever read or seen. He basically runs around murdering anyone that isn’t a Christian at a breakneck pace for about half of the book. Limited to a small page count and a moral disconnect from how things were in past, one has to take a step back reading something like this because a person seen as a noble hero of the past, could easily be seen as a demonic monster by modern standards. Many of the Sagas are like this, for example it is very hard to find ANYONE in Njal’s Saga that isn’t pretty terrible by today’s modern standard.

Internal page of The Wife of Freyr: Chapter 1: Yngvi-Freyr

It would be wrong if I did not point out that this book has a bit of adult content inside. It is not, by any means, the focal point of the story, but once the Freyr fertility cult is shown you can imagine what is shown in the pages. For those wanting to see this as a pure historical item need to be careful – its not really suitable for kids.

While this can be seen, by pagans, as a story of one of the last vestiges of the old ways being trampled on by the Church, as a historical piece this is pretty cool. I really want Mr. Fleckenstein to do more of these if he ever gets the chance, as I would love to see more Saga literature getting translated and re-imagined like this.

As of this writing, Mr. Fleckenstein has posted a campaign for volume two of this story to Kickstarter as seen HERE. There is about a month left, so hopefully this happens!