I found this book because it has an introduction by Maria Kvilhaug (a title of herself I have yet to read). The author does not have a very Norse-sounding name and yet it did not ring a bell. This is even more strange, because the author seems to live not too far from where I live, just across the Belgian border.
The book is subtitled “an esoteric interpretation of Norse myth” and it is soon clear that this ‘esoteric leaning’ is a Theosophical one. This brings the book in line with The Masks of Odin and Between Wodan and Widar the latter being a more Anthroposophical (and better!) interpretation.
Initially Ongkowidjojo’s book appears to have the flaws of Titchenell’s, being too easy with his sources. He names Frigg a Vane for example and drops names that do not ring a bell and cannot even be found in Simek, even though this is one of the sources.
It is also obvious that the author knows his sources and has an eye for detail. Perhaps for forgets to double check sometimes.
Besides Theosophy there is also a thick layer of psychology in the book and the author uses magical sources such as the books of Aleister Crowley.
As expected, Ongkowidjojo’s approach is not mine. This does not matter though, because, as with Between Wodan and Widar the sometimes radically different interpretation forces me to look at things another way. What is more, the author makes his own translations (having an appendix with both the old texts and his translations) which are sometimes so different that I found myself checking other books, which is a positive thing.
On to the book. Maria Kvilhaug opens with an interesting text about the worlds (“Heimr”). As in her own book that I reviewed earlier, I do not always agree (but more often than with Ongkowidjojo I do), but also here this does not really matter. This introduction certainly worth reading.
As with Thorsson’s Nine Doors of Midgard, Ongkowidjojo names his chapters “doors”. There are parts about a range of worlds, going over in texts about seven “rays”, an apparently Theosophical concept that he does not really explain.
Then follows a more psychological part, different ages, different functions of Gods, “an exegesis of Voluspa” (a similar approach to Taunton) and the Lokasenna, a comparison between myths about Thor and those about Hercules and more.
Yes, this is quite a book. Almost 530 pages, densely packed with information, theories and thoughts. The author refers to many other authors, ranging from Theosophical, to more scholarly authors and even Farwerck (extra points!). This brings a potpourri different approaches, but Ongkowidjojo seems to have found his own red thread.
Unfortunately he is very loose with his sources. There are no notes or clear references, in spite of the impressive (but chaotic) bibliography. “The Bailey texts” is an example of the way the author refers to his sources. This is pretty annoying, especially when I am unsure if his reference is actually correct.
Theories and ideas that are sometime thought-provoking, but which sometimes elude me, alternated with meditation or magical exercises and a wide range of subjects more or less having to do with Northern mythology. Indeed, this is not my ‘usual literature’. The book was a sometimes tiring read, sometimes very enjoyable. It certainly gave me a few things to ponder about.
2017 Mandrake, isbn 1906958726