In September 2016 I spent almost two weeks in Iceland. This holiday destination was not just a random country. Since I think that more people with ‘heathen interest’ play with the idea of visiting the country where the Eddas and sagas were written, I wrote this text. On one hand I want to give some information that I had quite a hard time gathering myself. On the other hand I want to give you an idea of the country so you may know what to expect. Of course the story is personal and based on just two weeks in late summer.
In order to better be able to present the information that I gather, I made a separate website which you can find at Farwerck.nl.
Last updated 19 June 2019
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”.
The newspaper articles give a few clues as to what Ystad’s theories entail. I will give a few links below this article.
A Danish newspaper says (in Google translation): “Masonic movement may have originated in pagan rituals that were practiced by Nordic Vikings, says Arvid Ystad to Ekstra Bladet.” “He presents his theories in the book “The Freemasons in the Viking Age ‘, which has not been received well by the Norwegian’s lodge brothers.” Apparently Norwegian Freemasons are fairly secretive. Have their rituals not ‘leaked‘ like most Masonic ritual? Could there be anything that Ystad writes be new to an interested audience? In any case, this quote does imply that the author has things to say about Masonic ritual and not just about superficial similarities between some things Viking and some things Masonic.
Besides Annie Besant more ‘famous’ Theosophists have been “co-Masons”, most notably Charles Leadbeater (who co-authored Besant’s Rituals). Some websites claim that also co-founder of the Theosophical Society Henry Steel Olcott moved from a men-only order to Le Droit Humain. Olcott became a Freemason before the Theosophical Society was founded in 1875 so logically also before “co-Masonry” started in 1893 in France.
The other way around things are sometimes quite clear. Freemasons founded organisations or were members of both the Lodge and another group. These groups were sometimes magical or occult, but even heathen. The most famous example is Gerard Gardner (1884–1964) who was initiated in into Freemasonry 1910 and started his first “Wicca” “coven” in the 1940’ies (helped by Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), was a Freemason as well, though irregular). That is not the subject I want to write about though. I am curious if Freemasons have brought paganism into their lodges.
The African Eve
Witzel uses different sciences for his theory. Mostly genetics, linguistics, archeology and comparative myth. He calls his own approach “historical comparative myth”. Genetic scientistists have found out that the complete human population of the earth, are descendants of one single mother. This does not mean that at some point there were only two people, but simply that other lines did not make it. This first mother is called “The African Eve”, since she lived in nowadays Africa. There is also a stemfather. In his book Wirth explains how this discovery was made and how the method works.
A little bit of history
When the meanings of the symbols are disputed, even the history of the Picts is! It looks like the Picts were the original inhabitants of Scotland. They must have been around in the first or at least second century CE, because when the Romans invaded the British isle in the third century, the Picts were already a force to take into account. They were not such a large society, but this came later. From about 600 to 800 some people speak about a “Pictish nation”. After that the Picts were troubled by the Viking invasions and overrun (or perhaps they just merged with) the neighbouring Gaelic tribes. After 800 there seem to have been no more Picts.
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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”.