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I finished reading Alaric Albertsson’s Travels through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan last night, and I have to say, I am highly intrigued. This is an easy read, and a charming book, with solid information about the Anglo Saxon path (with common sense advice mixed in) as well as how to take that information and turn it into a modern practice. Albertsson is a member of ADF, so I shouldn’t be surprised to find the ritual structure is familiar, but the book just felt *right* while I was reading it.

This is, of course, especially interesting considering that while I do not have any (known) Norse direct ancestors (I have Germanic ones by marriage), I have ancestors in Britain – and with the usual speculation of how hard it is to date things back that far – to pre-Norman Britain. Granted those might have been Christian ancestors, I have no idea and no real way to tell – I didn’t do the research myself, but it’s likely that their names and records came from church record keeping, so it’s certainly likely.

Still, I felt a real connection to what I was reading. It’s very close to what I’ve already been working with in the Norse hearth (and I don’t know that I’d abandon that entirely), but I may add some Anglo-Saxon flavor into my ADF workings and see what happens. With Midsummer approaching, I’ve plenty of time to work in a ritual that would make sense.

On the other hand, I don’t know how hard a polytheist I am about it – the Gods of the Anglo-Saxons are certainly familiar to someone who has studied the Norse hearth. Do I think Woden and Odin, or Thunor and Thor, or Ing and Freyr, or Freyja and Freo are the same gods or different gods? They have both similarities and differences. The lack of knowledge about the Anglo Saxon culture also seems to lead to a good bit of borrowing from the Germanic myths, just so that there’s enough information to fill out a practice. In that light, I’ve ordered a copy of Brian Branston’s Lost Gods of England to see if I can fill out my knowledge a bit. It’s another approved ADF DP book, so its probably not a waste of time to read. Since it’s out of print, it’ll be a bit before it gets here (the best price for best quality book I could find is being sold by a bookseller in London, so it’s got a trip to make!).

In the meantime I think I’m going to read Albertsson’s other book Wyrdworking, and possibly Diana Paxston’s Trance-portation. (Both of which arrived yesterday! Yay books!) I’ve got a lot to learn, and I tend to read a lot in the summer – it’s quite hot, and I enjoy sitting in the sun with a book and a cool, tasty drink in the afternoons. Bonus points if I drive down to the beach to do it.

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I have always been a fairly avid reader, and I’ve completed my three “required” books for the Dedicant Path, so I’ve moved on to reading other Druidic things (among reading some not-so-Druidic things). ADF encourages study and scholarship, but not all of these books are scholarly – some of them are pagan brain candy, things to keep me interested and maybe make me think a bit, without having to wade through serious scholarly references.

Anyway, here are some things I’ve been reading recently, and some thoughts about them!

Recently Read:

Frey, God of the World (Ann Groa Sheffield) – an overview of all the attested sources referencing Ing/Ingvi/Frey/Freyr, organized by sphere of influence. This is a fairly scholarly work, but if you want a solid overview of the mythology and of Frey’s spheres of influence in the days of Northern Paganism, this is a good place to start. It does not contain any “translation” to modern worship, however. For me, this book was about knowledge building – getting a solid mythological basis for my devotions to Freyr, and in what associations he would have influence.

Freyja, Lady, Vanadis (Patricia M Lafayllve) – Similar to Frey, this book contains the attested sources referencing Freya/Freyja to build a picture of her as she would have been seen in the days of her original worship. This book also contains some modern interpretations for building a devotion to Freyja. Similar to Frey, this book was, for me, about building my scholarship base for working with Freyja. The poems and prayers in the back are also quite nice.

Elves, Wights and Trolls: Studies Towards the Practice of Germanic Heathenry (Kvedulf Gundarsson) – A fairly dense, but still accessible overview of all the OTHER kinds of spirits that enhabited the Northern Pagan world, from different types of wights, to house spirits, to dwarves, to Jotuns and Ettins. Gundarsson puts these all into direct practice in the modern world, from simple instructions on what to do when you meet a Wight, to different rituals to help you find them where you live. The magic is somewhat advanced, especially in its use of runes, but this was a highly practical book. It also includes an essay on the “Earth mother” concept in Norse paganism that I found extremely interesting. Gundarsson sets out a “hierarchy” of spirits, saying that most people would deal with the land spirits and wights on a daily basis (much like neighbors), the Gods for larger and more important needs (like a Chieftain), and a spirit like Jord/The Earthmother only for things of enormous importance.

Sunna’s Journey (Nicholas Egelhoff) An ADF centric book with a Norse focus, Sunna’s Journey is a book primarily of rituals to take a Norse flavored Druid through the Wheel of the Year, with bonus devotionals to Sunna and Mani. It’s a highly practical sort of book, and one I’m reading piecemeal as I go through the year. The rituals are a little more involved than I usually do for my solitary practice, but they’re quite well done, and I find them inspiring as I put together my High Day celebrations.

Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner (Galina Krasskova) This book was recommended to me, but to be honest, I didn’t like it much. I liked the section of prayers a LOT, however, and have made use of several of them. In general, I just don’t think I’m ever going to be a recon, so recon-flavored books (even ones with a lot of UPG in them) aren’t as appealing to me. I will definitely make use of the section on prayers though. I’m not sure what I think about the tables of correspondences, but that’s not something I’ll use a lot either way.

Currently Reading:

Travels Through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan (Alaric Albertsson) Recommended on the Dedicants list, this is a different take on Northern Paganism, focusing on the Anglo-Saxon/Saxon pagans and their beliefs. While there is some overlap to the more frequently studied Norse paganism, there are other bits that are distinctly Saxon. I’m about 1/3 of the way through this book, and enjoying it. It’s a quick read, and extremely practically minded. It’s a great “Hearth Culture” book for the Dedicant Path, as its generally introductory in nature. I’m looking forward to reading Albertsson’s other book – Wyrdworking – which is about Saxon magic working.

To Read Soon:

Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World (Philip A Shaw) I’ve not started this one yet, but it looks to be an interesting book. I’ll let you know what I think. It isn’t very long, so hopefully it will be fairly quick read. From the blurb:

This book considers evidence for Germanic goddesses in England and on the Continent, and argues on the basis of linguistic and onomastic evidence that modern scholarship has tended to focus too heavily on the notion of divine functions or spheres of activity, such as fertility or warfare, rather than considering the extent to which goddesses are rooted in localities and social structures. Such local religious manifestations are, it is suggested, more important to Germanic paganisms than is often supposed, and should caution us against assumptions of pan-Germanic traditional beliefs. Linguistic and onomastic evidence is not always well integrated into discussions of historical developments in the early Middle Ages, and this book provides both an introduction to the models and methods employed throughout, and a model for further research into the linguistic evidence for traditional beliefs among the Germanic-speaking communities of early medieval Europe.

The Solitary Druid (Skip Ellison) This one is out of print, but a friend of mine is letting me borrow it. It’s Celtic centric, but I thought I should read it, with all the references to it in the Wheel of the Year book. If nothing else, it’ll get me more familiar with ADF and working as a solitary.

The Prose and Poetic Eddas are definitely on the “to read soon” list as well! I am not sure yet which translations I want to run with, or just borrow them from the library. As well, I’ve purchased e-books of Ian Corrigan’s Book of Nine Moons, Sacred Fire, Holy Well, and Beginning Practical Magic. I know several of those are also Celtic focused, but I’m not against using things that work, and I’m not so tied into the Norse hearth that I don’t want to learn things about other ways of Druiding.

What’s on your bookshelf this week?

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