In order to be able to better present the information that I gather, I created a new website. This can be found at Farwerck.nl.
I have worked through a book in a language that I do not master. Since Norwegian is a Germanic language like my own, some words are recognisable from my own language, other words from another language that I do master. Sometimes the words looked like nothing and I used Google translator which I installed on my phone. I figured that if I would understand a few words from every sentence, I would have a rough idea of what it is all about. I am familiar with both subjects in the book, so recognising a few names and keywords would give an idea of the context. I made notes of points that seemed interesting enough to look at better and after finishing the initial reading I have been typing over passages in translation software. I am sure I missed many nuances, subtleties or even interesting information that did not seem groundbreaking when seeing them written in Norwegian, but I think I got enough to be able to give you an idea of the book. Too many points for a book review even, so I have turned this into an article.
Let me start with the part that just may be most interesting for you. If you go to Iceland with a ‘heathen interest’ there are things to consider visiting. I had to search high and low for information about some of these things, so when you read this before you go, you may not have to (or less so).
As you may know, in Iceland the prechristian faith is an acknowledged religion. There is one organisation: Ásatrúarfélagið (‘Asatru association’), and it has around 3000 members. This may not sound much, but when you realise that the whole of Iceland has 300.000 inhabitants, that gives a bit of perspective. Also, in my own 18 milion inhabitants country, we do not come anywhere near the Icelandic figure.
For some reason the Icelanders managed to stay in one organisation without splitting up, people starting their own groups, etc. They find that perfectly logical themselves. The Ásatrúarfélagið is not a very ‘strict’ organisation. Its members include people who just like to walk around in Viking cloths to “Goðar” (around 30) and everything in between.
Recently I was reading a little book which had a text of a Dutch Shinto master. He had a few things that made me think of ‘heathen concepts’, a couple of remarkable correspondences. To look a little further I dove into my library. I indeed own a little book about Shinto which had a slightly different approach, but did confirm some of the concepts that caught my eye. Time to have a bit of a closer look at Shinto ‘from a heathen perspective’.
A little bit of background
“Shinto” (or “kami-no-michi”) is a bit of a generic term. Nowadays there are many forms of Shinto. When you are going to look up information you may notice that some people will say that Shinto is a religion, others will say it is not. I have the idea that people who see Shinto as a religion, look at it through ‘Western eyeglasses’. They will speak about “Gods” and “holy texts”, while neither really seems to be the case. Perhaps it is better to see Shinto as a ‘worldview’ or even a ‘way of life’. There are texts of importance to Shinto, by the way, but they are more like chronicles than Divinely inspired texts to have to be followed.
Shinto does not have a ‘start date’ or an ‘inventor’. It is regarded the original religion of Japan, that of the indigenous people (the Jômon). Ironically, the term “Shinto” is actually Chinese. It consists of two symbols and means something along the lines of ‘way of the kami’. The term was only invented in the 15th century, probably to tell it apart of other religions that had entered Japan. The lesser used Japanese term is “kami-no-michi”.
René Guénon (1886-1951) wrote about a Source of all. This Source can have many names ranging from God to Ginnungagap. The expression of that Source in the world that we live in, can be described as the “primal law”, the order of things. That “primal law” can, again, have different names. Tradition (with a capital T), sophia perennis, religio perennis or a term that Guénon often used, Sanatana Dharma. All terms refer to some kind of primal ‘knowledge’, or in the latter case, a primal law. In the Northern European traditions, there is also a term that literally translates as primal law: Örlögr. In this short article I will investigate this term (and other terms) and its usuage in different texts, old and new.
The term Örlögr is written in different ways. This is caused by different ways of how authors translate old characters with accents that we do not know anymore to something better ‘typable’. The best-looking way of writing the word, in my opinion, would be “Ørlögr”. Actually the second ‘o’ has a dot below. Neither ‘o’ can be typed easily. This is why I prefer the spelling “Örlogr”.
This text was first published in “Mímir – Journal Of North European Traditions“, edited by Gwendolyn Taunton and published in July 2012 by Numen Books (isbn 0987158147) under the pen-name Roy Orlogstru.
As of March 2013 I make my text available in PDF and Epub format. I am not entirely happy with the Epub file. It contains some errors due to conversion and the image looks like crap, but it is readable and the best I manage to make at the moment.
These files can be copied and spread freely unaltered, but not be republished without my permission.
If you have questions or wish to comment on the text, please do so in the comment field below this announcement. Should you write a reaction in or at another medium, please let me know.
Most of the runic inscriptions mentioned in this book are discussed in greater detail in the volumes of Sveriges runinskrifter – the enterprise known as Runverket (a term also used of the institute responsible for it) – published by the Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities (Vitterhetsakademien). The provinces so far covered are represented by these volumes: Gotlands runinskrifter I-II (1962-78); a third and final volume is expected in a couple of years [the book I quote from is translated to English in 1987]; Gästriklands runinskrifter (1981); Närkes runinskrifter (1975); Smålands runinskrifter (1935-61); Södermanslands runinskrifter (1924-36); Upplands runinskrifter (1940-58); a supplement and introductory survey are in progress); Värmlands runinskrifter (1978); Västergotlands runinskrifter (1964); Ölands runinskrifter (1900-06); and Östergotlands runinskrifter (1911-18). Work on the publication of Hälsingslands runinskrifter has begun, and Runverket has embarked on preliminary investigations into the material from the remaining provinces.
This is not really an article, but rather some thoughts that occured to me after seeing the skydisc found in Nebra, Germany. A subject to discuss a little perhaps.
Go here for a much larger text about Farwerck
Some 8 years ago I met my girlfriend. We were both involved in a short-lived Dutch ‘spiritual magazine’ that liked to treat controversial subjects. Through the editor of the magazine my girlfriend got acquinted with a Flemish ‘Asatru’ group and later so did I. At the time my interest still mainly laid at Renaissance esotericism, Medieval magic, etc. This was already a bit closer to home, since before I had an interest in more exotic, Eastern subjects. In any case, meeting Asatru excelled my shift towards even more domestic interests, the old religion of Northern Europe. While becoming active in the group I initially sticked to my interests, but I heard a lot of interesting new paths.