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Thread: Books, Influences and Groups

  1. #1
    Senior Member Carl's Avatar
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    Books, Influences and Groups



    A while ago I asked a German member how he came to take upp Runes, what was the first influence in this direction. I was very interested how it might have happened. He told me that he had found an English book in the local library,one of the Elements series ( I take it) , entitled "The Runes" by Bernard King, published in 1993. I said that I didnt know the book.... but I was wrong; checking at bit later in my own collection of related works, I re-discovered the book which I had myself found in a local second hand bookshop some time ago. So I read some of it and came to the conclusion that it really was quite good and clearly linked into the prevailing overview of Runic understanding which I had myself....


    As I read the book a bit more , I began to see clearly why this was. It isn't a recent book; I doubt if it is still widely available. But in his introduction, he makes it clear where the linkage is sourced. He expresses his own gratitude for 'the inspiration and encouragement offered by Freya Aswynn', together with articles from two English magazines current at the time. He also makes direct reference to Freya Aswynn's 'Northern Mysteries Correspondence course'. This explained to me why the book, which is fundamentally based on the Elder Futhark, appeared to me so familiar. The bibliography also, not surprisingly, includes an early work by Edred Thorsson ( his Runelore (1987) ) and Kveddulf Gundarsson's early work on Teutonic Magic (1990). I was also pleased to see Brian Branston's The Lost Gods of England (1957). (Allow me here to digress ).

    (As a child, I had an interest in Classical mythology. One day, searching though my local library (!), I came across Branston's classic text on the early Germanic gods - especially in the English south, where I was living. I was never the same again . I discovered that several local villages were named , or so the book claimed, after early Germanic Gods and clearly these dated from the revelant Saxon period following their historic arrival in the south. Roots here...rooted through all! )


    The key influence at work in the Rune book , Freya Aswynn, had herself published an interesting book on the Runic Lore which, I personally feel , has become something of a classic - namely, "The Leaves of Yggdrasil" (1988). This inspired work, which I freely admit is not to everyone's style , has proved to be a very significant part in her own complex story. She is, I believe, Dutch and at first was clearly in need of some help with her new book. I do now see that the people who helped were in fact several members of the (then) Odinic Rite (OR) including Ingvar himself. (Members may know that several posts already exist giving some details of this particular Odinist - or Odinic - organization). Freya Aswynn actually placed a link to the OR at the front of her book; hardly surprising in the circumstance. ( One might well imagine that there is a lot more to this story ) . This was in 1987 or so , three years prior to the OR undergoing its division ; it lives still. The OR has its roots back in the early seventies... and who knows, well before that perhaps.


    Freyja Aswynn also became actively involved in the American group called the RuneGuild which was founded in 1980 by Edred Thorsson and also later in their newer organization, The Troth (founded 1987), which continues still under the moderating guidance of Kveldulf Gundarsson and his group of elders. These are all interesting people in their own right... each with active histories within the cause of the old custom. Each in their way, whatever the difficulty, giving witness and service to the old Gods who had seemingly reappeared within their communities and their networks beyond. I have mentioned only a few names and organizations. There are of course many others. Speak of them if you will.


    I have not mentioned Asatru, in Scandinavia, Germany,America, Britian.... but for the most part, the Gods they all share in some sense and more besides --- and Runes also, for some, and their history. Nor did I mention politics & discipline - the source of unending confusion and contradiction. But that's not new; the Eddas leave us much that is confused and contradictory. But by careful reading and the study of the sources over many years , it has proved often possible to clarify some of these confusions to a degree that seems to many at least both reasonable and probable. I have seen it done, an exercise that itself goes back into the 19th century and beyond. Even acedemic brains can become gravely exercised by these northern conundrums - although not always so approving of the use to which their deliberations and conclusions might finally be put! If the Gods teach us anything , it is that we do in reality live in a diverse sort of world, riven by tensions and confusions which at times seem to defy even the powers of the Gods themselves. It is wise to know this. Even Odinn had to learn new things.....

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    Member Oresai's Avatar
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    I read King`s Starkaddr books and enjoyed them immensely, one of which he based loosely around the Kveldulf story. He`s an accomplished scholar.
    Some of Freya`s work used to be available online but not sure if it still is.
    There are many authors I hold great esteem for, but two I keep fondly on my shelves are Brian Bates "The Way of Wyrd" and "The Real Middle Earth".

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    I like Edgar Polome's "Essays on Germanic Religion", Kris Kershaw's "Odin, the One-Eyed God: Odin and the (Indo-) Germanic Mannerbund" and most of the works of Stephen Pollington that I've come across. Rudolf Simek's "Gotter und Kulte der Germanen", while short is also a good read. Of the recent works on either runes or heathenry in general, I've probably liked Mark Puryear's "The Nature of Asatru" the best thus far. And when reading Snorri, I prefer to balance that by reading Saxo and Adam of Bremen along with it.

    Always liked Brian Bates' "The Way of Wyrd" as well, interesting story with a huge bibliography.

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    Senior Member Carl's Avatar
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    Hi Kriegersohn .

    re: Mark Puryear's "The Nature of Asatru".

    Yes that is a detailed and complex book on the Faith; he has clearly studied it in some detail. But he does have some strong views I think; perhaps that is some part of the terrain. There are also aspects of his mytholgy which troubled me. But then.....that is hardly an unacceptable situation

    Here's an old thread on the book:

    http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=52381

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl View Post
    Hi Kriegersohn .

    re: Mark Puryear's "The Nature of Asatru".

    Yes that is a detailed and complex book on the Faith; he has clearly studied it in some detail. But he does have some strong views I think; perhaps that is some part of the terrain. There are also aspects of his mytholgy which troubled me. But then.....that is hardly an unacceptable situation

    Here's an old thread on the book:

    http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=52381
    I decided to read past thread and reread the book before posting a reply. While I disagree with certain aspects of his on his mythologically views, in certain respects he seems to try and tap into the larger Indo-European view while maintaining a decidedly Germanic perspective. No real surprise given the Rydberg influence. With the exception of this I still find it a worthy book as it covers quite a few topics usually not mentioned by other authors.

    On other literature, I figured I'd add a couple of links for everyone:

    Anglo Saxon Books - An excellent selection of books. I liked "The Mead Hall" by Stephen Pollington, Bill Griffiths "Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Magic" and Kathleen Herbert's books (though they are far too short ), "Peace-Weavers & Shield-Maidens: Women in Early English Society" being one of my favorites.

    Journal of Indo-European Studies - The monograph series is excellent, though at times a bit pricey. They include Polome's and Kershaw's works mentioned in my last post. If nothing else, the descriptions of some of the works may get you thinking...

  6. #6
    Senior Member Carl's Avatar
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    I wonder if you have tried to get the Mark Puryear website -- his Society ( Norroena). Its very interesting to see what is left there!! somehow, the project doesnt seem to have got very far --- does anyone else know about whatever happened to that particular dream

    The more I read about Rydberg's views, the more I wonder about them.

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    I visited it, it doesn't seem to have anything added in quite a while and most of the Society's boards have been overrun by spam...unless Miami Escort services have been included in heathen activity. Perhaps part of the problem is keeping the Norroena Society strictly heathen rather than leaving it as it was before, both academic and as a book publisher. This would allow for a larger number of contributors to future works and spread the message (so to speak) to a wider audience. As for what happened with this particular endeavour, it would be interesting to see if it is still alive and kicking in the real world.

    As for Rydberg and his works, the word paradox comes to mind. While generally I do like his works (his Teutonic Mythology is within sight right now), I have strong opposition to some of his views. Anyone else want to weigh-in on Rydberg?

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    Nobody's mentioned H.R. Davidson? I've found her work to be one of the more interesting reads out there. I'm still looking for a hard copy of The Road to Hel none of this .pdf crap...

    Gods and Myths of Northern Europe is one of my favorites.

    I haven't read the majority of her works but a lot of them seem quite intriguing:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._R._E...n#Publications

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ulf View Post
    Nobody's mentioned H.R. Davidson? I've found her work to be one of the more interesting reads out there. I'm still looking for a hard copy of The Road to Hel none of this .pdf crap...

    Gods and Myths of Northern Europe is one of my favorites.

    I haven't read the majority of her works but a lot of them seem quite intriguing:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._R._E...n#Publications
    Actually, I liked both "Gods and Myths of Northern Europe and Myths" and "Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions"...personally, I always considered it "required reading". Don't mention it much as everyone seems to have read it. While I've come across them here and there in university libraries, I've found it hard to get ahold of some of her essays in various publications.

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    If you are ever interested in taking a scholarly look at early Germanic cosmogony, cosmology and their views on temporality, check out When the Norns Have Spoken: Time and Fate in Germanic Paganism by Anthony Winterbourne. It is probably comparable to Bauschatz's The Well and the Tree in terms of scope and erudition, but since that has been out of print for nearly a decade, I'd recommend Winterbourne instead.
    "Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time."
    -H.P. Lovecraft

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