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Asatru * Frigga Asraaf (2009)

Frigga Asraaf (1960) has been involved in the ‘Dutch pagan scene’ (and abroad) for many years. She is involved in other circles than myself, so I do not know her, nor did I consciously hear of her before this book was published. The full title Asatru, een naslagwerk (‘Asatru, a reference book’) is quite pretentious. The book concerns a printing-on-demand and is quite expensive. Since there are close to none publications in this field in my country, especially not by practising heathens, I was curious enough to order a copy. However Asraaf treats Asatru in quite general terms, overall this book is mostly an account of her personal ideas and practises. Starting with some general information of the place of the Germanic faith in the past and the present and giving some scetches of the ‘mythological worldview’, the author happily mixes Icelandic sources with local folktales and fairy tales, Scandinavian Gods and Goddesses with local ones of which we often have but a name. The sources she refers to go form scholarly works to folklore, temporary and old authors and personal interpretations. Seeing Asatru as a faith of today, Asraaf if very loose with retelling the myths (she interweaves Goddesses in the Ragnarok story), tells of her own friendships with giants, dwarves and elves alike, comes to a slightly Wiccan circle of the year with celebrations and rituals and she writes extensively about a subject that modern pagans have opposital ideas about: Seidr. The book closes with symbolism on houses and objects. Sometimes refering to American authors such as the Wodening brothers (who keep their Þheodism apart from Asatru) and Gundarsson, there are close to no references to contemporary heathen authors and publications in her own surroudings (safe for a few references to her own group Het Rad (‘the wheel’)). It all seems to come down to a mishmash of a lot of different sources and practices that are stirred to what is presented to be some kind of system that might work for the author personally, but which seems highly unconvincing for myself. As a reference-work I think I would not use this book either. For details I would go to more scholarly works with less free interpretations and translations, for inspiration I would turn to more likeminded people. I appreciate the fact that Asraaf has to navigate alongside the pitfalls of politics and New Age dabbling and the wish to present a modern faith for a modern person, but I do not know if this book will be the reference work for the modern heathen that she hopes it to be, nor would I recommend this book to a beginner, both because of the price and because of the highly personal interpretation of things. There are some nice ideas to be found and you may enjoy reading someone other’s version of the faith, but those are the only two reasons to spend € 35,- on this book.
2010 boekplan, isbn 9789490688011

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