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Six months ago I made a promise to the internet. In light of having received a pirated copy of a book (that I literally could not get any other way) I promised to purchase two copies of the next edition if/when it came out.

Well, the second edition of Visions of Vanaheim is available for sale, and I have purchased two copies. (One for myself, and one I gave to Yngvi.)

On first read through, I think I connected more with the first edition, but I am still very excited to have the second edition, and am very glad that Lokason has decided to share his experience with the Vanir with us again. I wish him lots of success with this book!

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I got a new book this weekend. Or rather, I should say, one of my study group mates found someone who had a PDF of a book I’ve been looking for since I started down the path of working with Ing Frea, and that person was willing to share copies of the PDF with us.

This… bothers me a bit.

The book is Visions of Vanaheim, by Svartesol. It is out of print, was only in print for a very short time, and is nearly impossible to find. Yngvi and I have both worked at a used bookstore, and he’s been looking for it consistently for several years. I check all the usual hotspots for rare books online regularly, and have never seen a copy. (Not that I couldn’t afford it, I have literally never even SEEN it.)

Ethically, I am against pirating books. I think people who write books should be paid for their time and effort, because I like reading books, and I want people who write good books to write more good books for me to read.  So far, Visions of Vanaheim has been a treasure trove of information – good, well marked, sourced info from archaeological and literary sources, mixed with well marked UPG that I’ve found pretty enlightening. It’s matched up with some of my personal UPG, which is nifty (it’s fun to have someone else say “Hey, I have that same UPG!”) I haven’t gotten to the sections on Frey/Ing Frea yet, but I am eagerly reading towards them.

(This book alone has made me want to work more with the Vanir/Wans specifically as part of my practice, which is fun and exciting. To my knowledge, the Anglo-Saxons didn’t make a really clear distinction between Wans and Ases, but that doesn’t mean I can’t work with the Wanic group more in my own practice. Or at least, know more about them alongside their more popular Aseic counterparts. My attraction to the Vanir/Wans alone will probably keep me from ever being fully in the Anglo-Saxon camp, because there’s so much more information from other Norse/Scandinavian/Germanic sources.)

So this is me making a promise.

If Svartesol comes out with a second edition of Visions of Vanaheim (which is rumored that he will), I will purchase TWO copies of that book in print, if I can get them. (One for the new edition, and one to pay him for the first edition that I didn’t have to pay for.) If I could pay him for my current copy of his book, I would. But since I can’t, I am putting it out there that if he ever gives me the chance, I’ll pay for it.

 

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Druids have book problems. My reading list for the Initiate’s Path is not anywhere near fully collected, and it’s already stacked up all over my desk (and the floor…) Books, books, more books. Two translations of the Poetic Edda, just to see what the translation differences are. Plus an extra book of Norse Myth retellings so I can read them as modern-language stories. A few study books on particular aspects of Germanic paganism. Add to that books about meditation, trance, magic working, running Neopagan rites, historical paganism and archaeology, language textbooks, and that’s only what I can remember offhand. Granted, I can get some of them from the library, but I am a writer-in-books.

I know, this makes some people batty, and I don’t highlight with horrible colored markers, but I like to highlight with colored pencils, and make notes with regular pencil, especially if something is particularly academic and dense. This means I make very good use of my local used bookstore. (Where my friend Yngvi works. I used to work there as well, actually).

Add to that reading beginning books on other hearth cultures to help my study group, plus reading for pleasure, and I go through a lot of books.

Some of those books (especially fiction books) I tend to stick with my Nook reader, because it’s very portable, and if I need to make notes I can, but for academic reading, even with a note-taking-capability, I tend to prefer dead-tree-books. Also it’s hard to get the kind of academic books I need for ADF as dead-tree-books.

Suffice it to say, though, that I love books. I love reading them, studying them, collecting them. My house is full of them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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I submitted my Initiates Path Intention Letter a few weeks ago, and it has passed from “discussion” into “voting” at this point. I’m trying to take this waiting in stride (though it was hard to have my DP go through review again, this time to see if my work was deemed adequate for the greater work of the Initiate’s Path).  There is a chance I could be denied entry into the program, but I’m trying not to think about that too much.

Over the last few weeks I’ve done a lot of thinking about what kinds of things I want to get out of the IP going forward, about what my expectations are going in. It’s hard, since I have to define my own level of service to the ADF community, but I think I’d like to be part of the web-presence of ADF (since I’m primarily solitary) and possibly work as a mentor for Dedicants as well.

I have also done a lot of book buying, purchasing Anglo-Saxon texts and reference material, with the goal of completing my Indo-European Language course before I start any of the other courses. There isn’t currently an ADF approved list for using Anglo-Saxon for the IP, but since it’s an accepted ADF Hearth Culture, I guess I’m going to forge new ground in that regard.

As well, my good pagan friend here (who is of the Vanatru persuasion, which would probably be where I’d end up without ADF) has joined up with ADF and will be starting on his Dedicant Path work, which is exciting.  We’ll be able to support each other as we go through these classes and challenges.

If I’m quite frank, the Trance I and Trance II requirements of the IP are quite terrifying for me. Meditation I can do, but trance work has always been beyond me. I know part of the process is learning to do it, and learning different methods and what works for you for achieving trance states. As practice for that requirement, I’ve re-upped my Mental Grove practice, and am beginning to build around that hallows towards the outer edges of the low-hanging tree branches, placing doors and arches and entryways into a mist-filled beyond that space.

IE Language will be hopefully fun (I love languages) and allow me to start using Anglo-Saxon phrases in my rituals, a goal I’ve had for awhile. I’m also going to use the Wheel of the Year format followed by Cranberry Protogrove, since it works well, and will honor the biggest patron of my path (Ing Frea) as part of the high days in Autumn. I like the balance it provides, and intend to use this next year’s ritual observances to really get to know these new aspects of the Gods. (I am especially interested in getting to know Frige – she strikes me as a fairly differently aspected Goddess as either Freyja or Frigg, and I’d like to work with her and see if she has guidance for me in the part of my life where I’m responsible for a home).

What purpose this blog will serve in my further studies I don’t yet know. I’ll be posting my Initiates Intention Letter for sure, but I don’t know if I’ll post all of my coursework – but perhaps just reflections on it as I’m progressing. I don’t expect to move through the IP particularly quickly, as it’s much more in-depth and requires a lot more reading and study than did the DP. Plus there’s a good bit more work that I don’t know I’ll be okay talking about until it’s been well past (namely the Magic 1 and Magic 2 work). Some of the classes are extremely scholarly, and I’m already collecting those books as I can find them at my local used bookstore. My “to read” pile is growing at an astounding rate.

It feels good, again, to be (hopefully) starting on this new journey around Samhain – regardless of how long it takes me, I think I will want to finish my studies (and hopefully be accepted as an Initiation candidate) in the fall. It always feels like a time of beginnings and endings to me.

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I’ve not been so good about two parts of my practice recently – both blogging and my meditation time have suffered as my commitments in life have ramped up. Those two things are related, since they both represent time I spend in thought and contemplation about my path (or just about my breath), and I’ve not been doing a lot of that recently. Quite frankly, I think it’s time to swing back that direction. My meditation practice is directly tied in with my daily offerings, so you can imagine that those have been less as well, and frequently have been getting skipped.

I’m not sure exactly where the balance is, but I know right now I’m not on it. I have some health issues going on that are taking up more time than usual, and that means rebalancing my time to make sure I’m making time to do the things I need to do. I’ve also had some personal issues getting in the way of my devotional practice. They’re intensely personal, so I’m not sure I will talk about them much here, but suffice to say it’s been very difficult to maintain a devotional practice with regards to Ingvi Frey lately. I am hoping to get some guidance on that front, but it’s been challenging. I’m hoping that with a bit of guidance I can find a way to do those devotions in a way that is also protective of and safe for me mentally.

My ancestor devotions are about where they were – I’m definitely going through a lot more candles in the kitchen on my hearth lately!

As well, the two books I ordered on Anglo-Saxon paganism have come in, so I am anxious to get started reading them. I think it’ll be good to read something more scholarly after having immersed myself in fiction with the Iron Druid Chronicles. Those were fun – and spiritually interesting – but as with all things, balance is good.

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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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