Category Archives: books

Non Scandinavian sources

As people who come here (and in the articles section) will know I sometimes want to read something different from the Scandinavian sources, I want to know more about the region that I live in. I am currently reading The Lost Gods Of England, a rather old (1957) book of Brian Branston. Not a bad read. I found more books about Anglo-Saxon religion, history and living so I might get myself a few more of these books. I would like to have some ‘continental information’ too, but I am still hunting for that. Suggestions are more than welcome.

Coming soon

I am still reading Stemmen op Schrift and The Power of Myth, but neither book has high priority and I only started to read them when waiting for new literature. On the way are three seemingly interesting titles:
Myth And Law Among The Ancient Indo-Europeans a collection of lectures edited by Jaan Puhvel
The War Of The Gods, the social code in Indo-European mythology of Jarich Oosten;
Heidnisches Jahrbuch 2007 of Holger Kliemannel, a collection of articles of a variety of subjects.

You will notice when I finished reading them.

Now reading

It is true, I don’t “blog” here frequently, neither in the other sections. I noticed that inspite of that, the blog is actually relatively popular. I currently have one of these periods in which I do not really know what to read. I’m currently reading through the pulp-work Pagan Resurrection of Richard Rudgley. I expect to review it shortly.
Also among my now-reading books is Forgotten Thruth: the primordial tradition of Huston Smith. This is a Traditionalistic book published in 1975, so between the high flight times of Guénon, but before the modern revival. What I have read now it is just another anti-modernist writing, not really the metaphysical approach of Guénon. It is not such a large book, so I expect to finish it within a couple of weeks.
Yet another one I am not sure to review or not, but it is a nice book about the history of Dutch literature called Stemmen op schrift and it is written by Frits van Oostrom. Van Oostrum nicely retails the medieval stories in the beginning of the book. This is not a book that I really wanted to read or review, but it will remain on the shelve for times when I am waiting for my next book. The same goes for Grimm’s Deutsche Mythologie by the way.
Besides all of this I’m rereading material for another project I’m working on. Time will tell if this becomes something to give more details about.

Eddukvædi

For quite some time I had wanted to get an Edda in the original language, but I never managed to find one. I did not really know what to look for. When I was rereading Gods Of The Ancient Northmen by Georges Dumézil who quotes a lot in Icelandic, I decided to see if I could find the version that he used. I do not know by heart which writer Dumézil used, but I remember that I found a copy on the internet, but it was awfully expensive, as expected. Looking a little further, I ran into the term “Eddukvædi” often followed by “Saemundar Edda”, so that was something to look for. The term “Eddukvaedi” gives plenty of hits with publications of different authors. All descriptions were so vague, that I did not really know if that would be what I was looking for afterall and I did not manage to get certainty, especially since there are the terms “Slendingasagnautgafan” and “Islendingasagautgafan” in the descriptions. Would one be old Islandic and the other modern? I ordered a publication of Gudni Jónsson (“Islendingasagautgafan” since I had not seen the other term before I had already ordered the book) which was not even that expensive. Later I saw the other term and feared that I had ordered a modern Icelandic publication, but that would still be pretty neat, since Icelandic did not change all that much over time. A couple of weeks ago I got the very nice little publication, but it only contains the so-called “heroic poems”, no “Völuspa”, no “Hávamal” (but some texts that I did not have yet, such as the short “Völuspa” and the “Solarljoth”)… Then I saw the little “II” on the back, I got a second part of a two volume book… Looking further to see if I could find a separate volume I, I found another bookshop that had the complete work for the money that I paid for half of it and I received that one yesterday. My volume II is the first 1934 print with Gangleri and his three friends in the inner cover (nice!), the new one is a 1939 reprint in an even nicer binding and Viking ships in the inner cover, the rest is exactly the same. So I compared the texts with etext.old.no since it has for example three different versions of the “Völuspa”. Mine is again a bit different, but the differences are minor, so I do not mind if I got an old or a new Icelandic version.
The moral of the story: Icelandic Eddas are not so hard to find if you know what to look for. There are different “Eddukvaedi”s and when you go for Finnur instead of Gudni Jónsson you will pay substantially more (not sure why), but just look around a little on Antiqbook.com, Abebooks (also available in other languages, such as .de) or just use Google, you will find that an Icelandic Edda is not that hard to find and does even not have to be too expensive. Make sure if you go for the same version as I did, that you take note that you buy both volumes! (and the two long Icelandic terms are the two respective volumes.)

Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte

Sometimes I’m lucky. Every once in a while I check some second hand book websites for the Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte. It is not that this book is impossible to find, but antiquarians know what to ask for it. I have seen prices from 200 up to 400 euros! I really wanted to have the book, but not for that amount of money. Last week I looked again and on one site I got five hits. 98 Euros… for only part I; 140 euros for only part two (different seller) and a couple of complete works for 240, 338 and 414,21 euros! Rediculous prices if. At the bottom there was a last hit: 120 euros… French shop… “2 tomes”, is that both volumes? It seemed it was. Then it must be the first print (the work was rewritten)… apparently not…! DAMN that seemed my lucky day. Even with 30 euros for shipment I’d buy it! I ordered book, the shipment was only 10 euros so you can imagine that I was very excited. Just home from work I got an email that my order was “storniert”, something with the credit card. My order was cancelled, I had to check my credit card info and order again when the book was put back online. Aaaaargh! I checked every ten minutes, but even when I went to bed, the book wasn’t back… Next day at work the first thing I did was see if the book was back and it was, even without a price-raise, so I ordered it again and today the mailman came to bring it to me. Yahoo!
Sometimes I’m lucky.

At last

Quite a while ago I placed an order at Amazon and only this week I received it. I took the cheapest way of shipping, but I didn’t receive anything, so Amazon sent the order again. Last week my girlfriend got a box of the postman saying that the address was incorrect and that an old neighbour told him the correct address… I was pretty sure I changed my address at Amazon, but apparently I didn’t. Da***t!
In any case, I not only finally have David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” (not for this section I know), but also two books by Swain Wodening and David Lynch Decoded by Mark Stewart. The latter is a small book in which the writer thinks to have found a red thread through the works of Lynch in the ‘other worldly characters’. He goes film by film with a general conclusion to the end. When I finished this booklet, I’ll of course review it. Of Wodening I got Hammer Of The North (2003) and Ížéodisc Geléafa “The Belief of the Tribe:”: A Handbook on Germanic Heathenry and Theodish Belief (2007) of which I started with the older work. However I just red a few chapters, I already marked the book with many stripings and question marks.

I no longer felt like reading Jan van Rijckenborg’s four-book epic about the Egyptian Arch-Gnosis and also Audley’s Handbook Of Christian Symbolism will remain a bit more on the shelf. I temporarily replaced them with Guénon’s Perspectives On Initiation and Dumézil’s Gods Of The Ancient Northmen, so now I’ll have to find a way to finish these books and read the new ones. I suppose you’ll be able to check my reading speed (or order of preference) when you check for new reviews here recently.

Jan de Vries in English

Great news for everybody who keeps hearing of Jan de Vries, but unable to read German or Dutch. Northvegr.org has put a very lengthy article by De Vries in English on their website. The article appeared in a Finnish scholarly magazine in 1931 and is called Contributions to the study of Othin especially in his relation to agricultural practices and popular lore.

This article of almost 80 pages sheds light on a great many different aspects of Wodan/Odin. You can read about “agricultural practices and popular lore”, but De Vries also writes about his role in Scandinavian mythology (was Odin ‘imported’?), the name Odin (coming from Odr), etc. In the process you will learn about the Wild Hunt and the Wild Hunter (since the “Wilde Heir” is not the same as the “Wilde Jacht”), archeology, theories by contemporary scholars. All in all a great read and a great exposé of our national Germanic scholar available to the English speaking world.

Go here: The new Northvegr center

Hopefully Northvegr will track down more texts of De Vries.

HPB

People who have followed the public side of my ‘philosophical evolution’ for some time will know, and in my last article I repeated, that I have a ‘Theosophical past’. The writings of Blavatsky, De Purucker, but also Steiner came at the right time when I was ready for some more serious studies and I learned a lot from them. Later I moved on to other things, but of course I still have a nice shelf with Theosophy in my library, which I seldom to never check these days. It has never been like I took everything I read for granted, but I still found somewhat of a worldview in these writings and a lot of inspiration to discover things. My later pursuits and literature were elsewhere and often very much against Blavatsky and anything that had to do with Theosophy. I’m not offended when somebody tells me that Blavatsky’s books are a load of bullocks, I just take a remark like that for granted and I respect the writings with all its flaws, just for the fact that they helped me grow. Perhaps a lot of Theosophical ideas will come out of me when somebody pushes, but I also have the impression that people misinterpret lot of what is written in order to prove that they are wrong, or otherwise: I have interpreted them incorrectly and/or used in my personal scheme of ideas workably.

In any case, I was just reading an article of Harry Oldmeadow from the third volume of the scholarly esoteric publication Esoterica. Contrary to the current trend to try to discredit Blavatsky (“Agehananda Bharati dismissed The Secret Doctrine as “a melee of horrendous hogwash and of fertile inventions of inane esoterica””), Oldmeadow has a few nice remarks:

Nonetheless, Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup was sufficiently confident of Blavatsky’s account of the Bardo to endorse her claim that she had been initiated into “the higher lamaistic teachings”. whilst no less an authority than D.T. Suzuki was prepared to say that her explication of Buddhist teachings in The Voice of Silence (1869) testified to an initiation into “the deeper side of Mahayana doctrine”

And even though “Blavatsky never stepped on Tibetan soil”; why not? Why couldn’t she have been the initiate that she said she was? I agree that Blavatsky had an “‘omnivorous mind’ to assimilate whatever she found useful” (Hanegraaff), but does that mean that everything that came from her hands is crap?
I like the idea of Blavatsky having been initiated into certain mysteries. It takes a little bit off that thick layer of mud that has been put on her name and fame by many different persons. It may show that she had esoteric insight afterall.
I can’t turn into a Theosophical witch-hunter. I didn’t feel ‘at home’ in the Theosophical movements that I saw. I agree with the many loops and holes in the literature, but this literature has definately been very valueable to me, so when I do read something positive about Blavatsky, I’ll just make a note of it:

There is no question that Blavatsky played a significant role in wedding Western esotericism and Eastern religious traditions and in popularizing concepts such as maya, karma, and meditation. Indeed, it has recently been argued that perhaps the signal achievement of the Theosophical movement, of which Blavatsky remains the presiding deity, has been its role in generating interest in and respect for Eastern religious conceptions. However, it should also be noted that Blavatsky’s purported shift from a “Hermetic” (i.e., Western) to an “Oriental” perspective has been greatly exaggerated. Hanegraaff, drawing on the work of Helmuth von Glasenapp and Jörg Wichmann, persuasively argues that this shift is “more apparent than real” and that theosophy as a whole, despite its popularisation of some Indian doctrines, “is not only rooted in western esotericism, but has remained an essentially western movement”.

Slang

Apparently there is more and more attention for local variations of language: dialect or slang. Quite some time ago I wrote a little article about the subject and in this book reviews section I reviewed a few ‘books‘ about the subject. Last weekend we were in the Noord-Brabants Museum in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and in the little shop my eye fell on a few titles about the dialect from (Eastern) Brabant, the province that I live in. I bought two of them and both proved to be by Cor Swanenburg of whom I also have another title. The first is just a collection of sayings and anecdotes (very amusing), but the other is quite a ‘scholarly’ booklet about the history of slang and the Dutch language, pronounciation and writing guides and comparisons of different variants, because in an area as large as Eastern Brabant, the dialects differ quite a bit. Again there is too much focus on the more North-Eastern part of the district and the dialect differs quite a bit were I am from, but there is also information about my own region and constant references to a writer (Ad the Bont) from a village only a few kilometers from where I was born, who also wrote a book on the local dialect, so I ordered that one too. I will review them when I have finished reading them.

Book reviews blog

As you might have noticed, I have moved the “quotes” and the “publications” from the news section to the more logical section: this one. Also I have added a “blog” to every section, where I can put some chitchat that are not reviews. I consider removing the “now reading” information from the “sidebar” to this “blog” as well, but I haven’t decided yet.

As it comes to “chitchat”, yesterday I finally finished reading part 1 of Archaic Roman Religion of Dumézil and also A Hero With Thousands Faces of Campbell. I hope to review the latter later today.
Last week I bought the four-parts Egyptian Arch-Gnosis of Jan van Rijckenborgh. This founder of the Rosicrucian Rosicrucianum has filled four books with his own translations of Hermetic texts including a few that I didn’t have in another translation. I wasn’t really planning on buying the ‘all fours’, but I ran into them second hand and this might bring me back a little to my old interest of Hermetism. Also I bought two old books in reprint, one about Masonic symbolism and one about Christian symbolism. I might let you know if they are worth the money when I read them.

A minor thing about these ‘hidden categories’ is that I have my excerpt plugin set to only the last post in full and the rest excerpted, but a new but hidden post is also a post… I might have to look into that some time.