Sophia, the journal for traditional studies, volume 16, number 1 (2010)

The second Sophia that I read is also a nice one. This volume is dedicated to Huston Smith (1919-), the well-known scholar in religions that later in his life got acquainted with the Traditionalist way of thinking and found the answers that he had been looking for. This volume opens with a text by Smith and is followed by an interview with the man. Later in the volume no-one less than Harry Oldmeadow writes a lengthy biography of Smith and after this Zachary Markwith speaks about “Huston Smith’s encounter with the Islamic Tradition” and when you ready my review of Sophia 13/2 you will understand where the stress of Markwith’s article lays. Other articles are Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s thoughts on humanity in relation to nature, Islamic “mysticism” and “Christianity amidst the world religions”. Another long text is a review of two book about Frithjof Schuon followed by the review of a book about Nasr. At the end there is a review of a book about the poem “The Mystery Of Hasanaginica”. Indeed, the Sophia Journal is by and about the leading Traditionalists of today and covers a nice spectrum of subjects.
Link: Sophia Journalm isbn 9780979842979

Mímir – Journal Of North European Traditions * Gwendolyn Taunton (editor) (2011)

Only a year and a half ago I reviewed “Northern Traditions“. The series of journals edited by Gwendolyn Toynton/Taunton has since seen two other volumes. For the second issue dedicated to the Traditions of Northern Europe, Taunton came up with a better-fitting name. “Mímir” is 230 pages thick and comes as the well-printed A5 booklet that we grew used to. The essays are nicely varried. The editor contributes a nice introduction and two articles, one about “the Nornir and the concept of Fate” and one about “the berserker and the Vratya”. Two articles of myself are also included (I had to come up with a penname quickly and it became “Roy Orlogstru”). The first is an 18 page version of “Traditionalistic Asatru“, a text of a few years back. The other I named “The Primal Law” and I write about Örlogr, Heilagr, fate and a few other concepts and I put this in a Traditionalistic framework. Then I need to mention Maria Kvildhaug’s “Ritual And Initiation In The Poetic Edda” because this text completes an interesting set of articles that complement eachother (I did not know this beforehand, this is either good editing or luck of the editor). All three authors refer to Germanic initiations, Männerbünde, there are references to fate, Örlogr and all the things interesting in Northern mythology. I feel to be closer in content to Taunton than to Kvildhaug, but we all three break a lance for Northern mysteries. Other articles include an investigation of Viking presence in Northern Europe, a new translation of the sage of Gunnlaug the Worm-Tongue, an interesting investigation of the texts of Saxo Grammaticus and its sources and another article about Grammaticus by the same author. There are two articles about runes. A short text saying what runes are not, but more interesting is Juleigh Howard-Hobson’s defence of the Uthark theory. The journal closes with a lengthy review of the first five Heidnische Jahrbücher by myself.
Indeed, “Mímir” became a very nice collection of contemporary heathenry including different views in comparison to what you see more often. It sure makes a welcome addition to similar efforts such as the earlier mentioned Heidnisches Jahrbuch, the Journal For Contemporary Heathen Thought and Tyr, particularly because I found someone who likes what I write and is willing to publish it!
2012 Numen Books, isbn 978098158147

Sophia, the journal for traditional studies, volume 13, number 2 (2007)

Sophia, I have known about the journal for ages, but I probably never really looked at it. Perhaps only when the new issue was mentioned on a Traditionalistic forum did I realise that this is a Traditionalistic journal. More actually, all contemporary Traditionalists seem to contribute to it. My story is quite similar to that about Sacred Web! Because Sophia, contrary to Sacred Web, is available from Amazon (but they are not easy to find) sometimes for a price way below the price of the publisher, I got myself two issues. Not the most recent though, I picked two based on the tables of content. Sophia 13/2 opens with a text of his royal highness, prince of Wales (or Prince Charles) who contributes to Traditionalistic journals more often and who appears to be a productive writer on a great variety of topics. The text presented is a talk that HRH gave when he received an environmental award from the hands of Al Gore. The text is not really Traditionalistic, but HRH highness does stress the point that the earth is not for us to use and that we should start using technology to make our way of living no longer a burden to nature. Another environmental text comes from the hands of the main editor Seyyed Hossein Nasr who makes an appeal to Muslims to not slavely follow the West with destructive technology just to keep up, but to use Islam to come to a better way of living and an ‘Islamic technology’. Next up is an interview with Huston Smith (born 1919 and still going), the first and perhaps most famous scholar in comparitive religious studies. After this come the two articles that made me order this particular issue, both are about Kabbalah. The first text is about the Christian Kabbalah. Wolfgang Smith argues that the Christian version of the Kabbalah is valid (however the two initially seem incompatible) and that it even adds something to Christianity. Then Tom Black shows us that Kabbalah is more Sufi in nature than Jewish in his very nice article. Much more Islam follows with Zachary Markwith’s lengthy “Muslim Intellectuals and the Perennial Philosophy” in which Markwith shows us that Traditionalism sprang forth from Islam and is conserved within it as well and that this is due to the Quran, the Sunnah and the very Prophet Himself. The author not only presents a very nice insight into Islam, but also presents a very good introduction to Traditionalism and several of the names from the ‘school’. The last article is about Ananda Coomaraswamy and his views on art. To close the journal there are book and film reviews.
Sophia certainly is worth the money, especially because, at least from Amazon, some issues are very friendly priced and easy to get. If you are interested in Traditionalism and Traditionalism in action, Sophia is the title that you should certainly try.
2007 The Foundation For Traditional Studies, isbn 0979842913

Sacred Web 29 (2012)

I have known about Sacred Web for quite some time, but for some reason I never got myself a copy. When the latest issue was announced on the Traditional Studies forum and my eye fell on the title: “Hermetic Wisdom in Islam” I thought that it was high time to order that issue of this long running “journal of tradition and modernity”. It appears to be an expensive journal for a European. It is $ 20,- per issue plus $ 15,- shipping, also when you order more at the same time. Also the journal seems only available from the editor and not, like Sophia, through Amazon. For these $ 35,- you get a speedy delivery and a well-printed 170 page booklet on A5 format which contains six essays, two book reviews, an introduction and letters to the editor. Something that I notice when slowly rolling into more ‘serious’ Traditionalistic circles also applies to this journal, it is a highly scholarly work and most contributors are academics. There is even one article about “metaphysical order in evangelical doctrine” that is so much over my head that I have no idea what the author tries to tell me. Fortunately this only goes for this article. What we have more is often about Islamic traditions, one article opens with a spiritual biography of René Guénon and continues with gnosis and gnosticism. There is also an investigation of contemporary literature and it’s Traditionalistic background (“Blood Meridian”) and a nice example of ‘applied Traditionalism’ in an ecological essay. The most interesting piece, though, is the one that caught my attention, the article about Hermeticism and Islam. Indeed, “Sacred Web” is nicely varried and it was a nice read. I have also got two issues of “Sophia” on the way, let us see what that journal is like.
2012 Sacred Web, issn 14806584

Heidnisches Jahrbuch 2012 * Holger Kliemannel (editor) (2012)

The Heidisches Jahrbücher usually appear early in the year, but the sixth issue had quite some delay. In look and size (440 pages) the 2012 edition is like that of its predecessors, but then of course with the new publisher’s logo (Edition Roter Drache) on the cover. As always there is a variety of subjects, ranging from history and text analyses to contemporary heathenry and more or less related topics. The yearbook opens with an article about mushrooms and other lucky symbols. This more or less goes over in a lengthy article about the Wild Hunt(er). The article of Christian Brüning starts with much well-known information, but lateron gets freer. The same I can say about Peter Hilterhaus’ text about Freyja. It starts with nothing really new, but works towards some of his own theories. Painter Voenix wrote and illustrated a text about Bragi and then we leave for Russia to read about Baba Yaga and other witches of the woods. Next up is a subject that some think is related, but I personally miss that link: fantasy literature. A text about Frau Holle, an interview and an essay about divinity in materialism is followed by an extremely long and completely unreadable text about tree-souls. Ulrich Holbein uses a pompous writing style that may be amusing to an extremely well-read native-German speaker, but I missed the point of his many pages completely. As always there are book- and musicreviews and a calendar at the end. Like the previous issues, the sixth Heidnisches Jahrbuch is a varried and nice read.
2012 Edition Roter Drache, isbn 393945964X

Occult Traditions * Damon Zacharias Lycourinos (editor) 2012

Once upon a time there was a magazine called “Primordial Traditions”. The best articles were bundled in a book with the same title and then Primordial Traditions became a publisher starting a series with titles such as “Northern Traditions” and “Radical Traditions”. Whereas the initiative started with a (somewhat) Traditionalistic approach, this is less so nowadays and maybe this is one of the reasons that the publisher is now called Numen Books. (Another reason could of course be that Numen Books publishes more than just the “traditions” series.) The latest publication available is “Occult Traditions”. The book has the size and the look of previous book in the series, which is nice. The cover is strangely ‘rubbery’ and the number of pages (over 300 pages) makes a nice addition to the series. With this title you might not be surprised that there is not much Traditionalism to be found here, just a reference to Evola. What is presented is more an interesting collection of scholarly writings about occultism and magic, old and new and writings of or about contemporary occultists, both investigations of rituals and rituals themselves. I do not have a large interest in contemporary occultism, but a publication like this does show the state of magic of our day. The editor has a liking for the very interesting Papyri Graecae Magicae and we go from ancient rituals from that sort of texts to a day in the lives of contemporary Wiccas. Indeed, the variety is large. A prejudice against contemporary heathens is confirmed too by the way, since the pagan scholar Christopher -Heathen Journal- Plaisance contributed two essays. Pagans do practice occultism and not just an old religion. Now Plaisance’ texts are of course scholarly and philosophical and there is nothing to suggest that he practices the ritual magic that he describes, but the link between even the serious heathens of our time and the occultists is proven once more (and me reviewing this book of course doubles that). The large number of texts in “Occult Traditions” include Icelandic magic, much medieval magic, one author claiming that medieval and Renaissance magic are linked, inspite of what the Renaissance man wanted us to believe, Wicca, sex magic, the dark side of Buddhism (main woman Gwendolyn Toynton’s article is certainly the most interesting in this volume), necromancy and much more. Not my favourite literature, but a nice alternation between my usual books. Next up is Northern Traditions II, that will be more in my line.
2012 Numen Books, isbn 0987158139

The Journal Of Contemporary Heathen Thought II (2012)

Some two years ago the first volume of the heathen journal saw the light of day. The introduction of volume one said: “What this means specifically is that we seek to encourage the development and assist in the promulgation of rational inquiry into Heathenry as expressed in the domains of Philosophy, Theology, Psychology, Sociology, Antropology, and other disciplines generally included under the umbrella of Religious Studies.” (p. ix). Yet: “[…] we are not solely interested in soliciting essays and dissertations of an academic nature. The Heathen community is not comprised entirely of scholars, and nor is Heathen thought uniformly scholastic in nature.” (p. xi) So, I (non-academic) submitted a text and wrote one on request. Both were declined just before volume II went to the printer. The reason? Writing style. This time the editorial preface states: “What we need from our readership is the same kind of scholarly analyses of Heathen doxa and praxes that have been presented in the journal so far.” (p. ix) So it seems that JOCHT has become an academic publication afterall. True, in such a publication, there is no place for me. I would write nothing like:
Yet, without the intentional development of the seed-ideas that the faith of our ancestors presents us, we will remain locked into either a primitivist understanding of Heathenry as a static, historical relic, incapable of doxic development, or continue down the path of libertarian fragmentation where everyones believes what they want to believe and deal with the contradictory beliefs of others not by attempting to determine which theology is true, but by resorting to an epistomologically relativistic theological framework in which it is socially unacceptable for a theologian to publicly claim his position to be correct for fear that others might find his “dogmatism” unacceptable.”
(p. 149)
I agree with editor Plaisance’s remark quoted from his “epistle to the heathen” added to his 80-page dissertation about “the emerging hierarchy”, but how big do the editors think the academic heathen community really it? Will such essays not scare away the average, but read, pagan who, either or not, manages to plough through the academic literature in his studies, with this way-too-learned-sounding way of writing? Should an academic not be able to write something that other people might understand as well, not only his/her fellow academics? If this is the path that this journal will take, I think it will overshoot it’s goal and limit it’s audience.

But, I ploughed through JOCHT II, so let us have a look at it.Read More »The Journal Of Contemporary Heathen Thought II (2012)

Heidens Jaarboek 2011

This issue is already the ninth ‘heathen yearbook’ and the fifth that I review. The A5 size booklet again looks better than before with glossy paper and a colour cover, well bound and well printed. Most of the texts are from the hand of Boppo Grimmsma who wrote the introduction, tells the reader why to visit the Externsteine (also on the cover, but the photo is ‘photoshopped’ a bit of course), he interviewed the Dutch author Aat van Gilst and the Frisian novellist Willem Schoorstra. A lengthy article of Grimmsma is about the Balder myths. The author gives some information about the different interpretations that scholars in the course of the years gave to the myth and comes to his own less black-and-white conclusions in which one explanation does not exclude every other. Michiel de Nijs contributed an article about working with land-spirits and similar beings. At the end the reader will find the five stories that were read at the 2011 Midsummer weekend, this time with as theme a fairytale with a mythological foundation. The result is a nice 104 page booklet (written in Dutch of course) that you can get by clicking on the cover and following the instructions.

Heidnisches Jahrbuch 2011 (2011)

For a moment it seemed that this project would stop after the fourth publication. Editor and publisher Daniel Junker decided to abandon the project, but fortunately co-editor Holger Kliemannel carries on with the project and since he is connected to the order of the Dragon Rouge he managed to have the publishing house of the Germany branch, Edition Roter Drache to not only republish the sold out earlier editions, but also to publish the Heidnisches Jahrbuch 5. Number 5 is again a 450+ pages publication. There are 10 essays, so you immediately know that there are a couple of long ones. Number 5 opens impressively with an article of Günter Stienecke who writes about Cult and magic with the Hittites (Hethitern). This bronze age folk lived in the near East and supposedly left not only more, but also older Indo-European writings than the Vedas. The idea is highly tentalising, particularly because many ritualistic texts have been perserved. This is definately something to look into further. The next essay is again a lengthy one. Barbara Beyß gives some detailed information about the three-mothers cult of the Matronen. In doing so she walks numerous (historical) sidepaths. An article with a high level of information. Another interesting article is Bil Linzie’s Was there a Germanic belief in reincarnation? (translated from English). However he starts with quotes from sagas and other texts that suggest there was, he works towards the conclusion that there was not. Thomas Lückewerth reports of his visit to the Swedish island of Gotland with its many runestones and other heathen remains and Haimo Grevenstein and Hermann Ritter have been to a Catholic convention about Right-wing extremism, Satanism and new-Heathenry. A humerous report from lion’s den. Less interesting were Clemens Zerling’s retelling of the story of the film Agora, Christian’s Brünings rant agains monotheistic religions, Vicky Gabriel’s shamanistic psychotherapy and Wolfgang Bauer’s natural relationships which may give some food for thought about how we deal with nature, but the essay is way too long. Towards the end there are some book and filmreviews and, reintroduced, the calendar of heathen activities in Germany in 2011. The firth ‘heathen yearbook’ was again a nice read. Some writings are more of my liking than others, but that is to be expected. I have now read four Jahrbücher in a row and it is time for a pause, but I do not expect issue 6 to be out before 2012 so…
2011 Edition Roter Drache, isbn 9783939459521

Heidnisches Jahrbuch 2008 (2008)

It took quite a while to read this Heidnisches Jahrbuch. This is because it is the thickest so far (500) pages, but also because there are some very long essays in it which are not all too interesting. Perhaps it is also because of the fact that I read three of these Jahrbücher in line, so perhaps I got a bit Jahrbuch-weary. I am glad that Editon Roter Drache took over the publication of the defunkt publisher (and editor) Daniel Junker, because I missed this third edition. Like the other issues, this third volume is about contemporary heathenry, but mostly contains investigations of contemporary heathens. There are articles about the problems of reviving a broken tradition, the study of paganism (or pagan studies), Slavic poetry, the Wessobrun prayer, ‘the last journey’ and Franz Xaver von Unger. The articles that I remember better are Hermann Ritter’s Von Ausen Gestellte Fragen An Die Edda a perhaps not overly scholarly essay, but a nice personal text of a person who looks at the Eddas and comes up with all kinds of “why”s, “how”s and “what”s. Nicely critical, sometimes slightly provocative, showing that the Eddas are not exactly books that one should take literally. A very long, too long in fact, essay is about honour in Germanic society. I have read a few similar texts in the last year. Christian Brühning does not really come up with anything new and he jumps to sidepaths a bit. Not uninteresting though, since it brings a few things to think about. A text that I already got from the author a few years ago is Holger Kliemannel’s short text about Johannes Bureus (and “gothicism”). Kliemannel is a member of the Roter Drache, just as Thomas Karlsson who wrote several books and articles about Bureus, so Kliemannel naturally refers to texts of Karlsson that I never heard of, but he also knew my article. Kliemannel’s article is but a very rudimentary introduction into Bureus. A nice article is about werewolves (by Peter Hilterhaus) in which he goes from modern (film)versions to Männerbünde and a lot in between. The article is not groundbreaking, but a nice read and he critically refers to Kershaw on a few occasions, which is not entirely unjust. Towards the end of the book there are book-, film- and musicreviews.
The third Heidnisches Jahrbuch is not the best one, but like the other three, it is nice to read something written by ‘fellow heathens’. The fourth volume was announced to be the last one, but when I was looking for the cover of number three, I found out that volume five is also available!
2008 Daniel Junker Verlag / 2010 Edition Roter Drache, isbn 393945947X