Northern Traditions * Gwendolyn Toynton (2011)

Toynton earlier edited the “Primordial Traditions Compendium”, a similar book consisting of essays, comparible to the Tyr Journal, The Journal For Contemporary Heathen Thought or the Heidnisches Jahrbuch. The Primordial Traditions Compendium is a Traditionalistic work with information about different traditions. When I heard of a new volume with the focus on the Northern Traditions and thought to have a look at the website, I noticed that there are plans for upcoming volumes about Alchemical Traditions, Occult Traditions and Tantric Traditions. Northern Traditions is an expensive buy. I paid 30 euros to get the 175 page booklet in my mailbox. I have cheaper books with more luxery paper (and better covers!), but of course it is the content that matters, right? Toynton opens with her pessimistic ideas based on the Traditionalistic hypothesis of cycles and wonders how one can build a faith for the modern age, built on an old one. This is actually the idea behind the entire publication which is divided in a historical and a contemporary part. The opening article (after a Tyr song) is also by Toynton and in it she speaks about The twilight of the Gods. In her lengthy article Toynton digs deeply into the information we have about Ragnarok and similar events in other mythologies. She manages to see current events, thus glimpsing at the neigh end of a cycle, and in doing so there are some nice thoughts and some too short corners, something that we will see more often in this publication. Matt Hajduk, whom we know from the previous publication, has some things to say about Forseti. His article brings memories of my own short text about honour and feud. Juleigh Howard-Hubson’s writes about sleeping kings who are supposed to reawaken when they are most needed. She compares Celtic versions with that of (Indo-)European folklore. Next up is a short text about honour, followed by a lengthy botanical essay that I lost track in. Hajduk also contributed an article about Tyr and he argues that when people see Tyr as just a myth without any contemporary practical meaning, modern heathenry will never be more than theoretical exercise. Then we have another essay which reminds a lot of something. Alexander Shephard investigates the theme of the Grail, mostly based on Evola’s The Mystery Of The Grail and a few titles of Guénon. Eliade is shortly mentioned. I do not know Evola’s book, but Shephard’s article cuts corners, jumps conclusions and is in many regards unconvincing. If only could he have read Dutch and found the book De Graal by Koenraad Logghe who also uses a Traditionalistic approach for the subject. Shephard and Logghe walk similar paths, but Shephard comes to his theories of solar deities and the cosmic cycles a bit too easily. He bases himself on (the famous) British Arthur legends, while the older are more interesting (and would have fitted his goal better too I think), names are misspelt which might have given him some ideas when they were not and even his history of the Grail legends misses the most important texts. A short text of Vijay Prozak supposedly gives The philosophical essence of the Northern Traditions but besides summing up some ways of looking at things (monism, dualism, etc.) and stating that a mix between them all would be “idealism”, Prozac does not get. There are a few nice thoughts and quotes though. S.R. Hardy made a new and very readable translation of the Thrymskvida. Stephen M. Borthwick also contributed his Hermann Awakened, folkishness v. racism to The Journal Of Contemporary Heathen Thought, the title says enough. Hardy again comes with a contemporary old work, he created a runesong of 3×3 verses for each rune. A very Traditionalistic article is Myth of the golden age by Wulf Ingessunu which is a bit of a mishmash of Northern and other mythologies to argue that Ragnarok is the end of the golden age. Ingessunu manages to place the Fimbul winter immediately after the war between the Aesir and the Vanir; places “Baldaeg” in “Odainsacre” after he gets shot by his brother, supposedly from an Anglo-Saxon version of the Balder myth. Atlantis is derived from “At-al-Ase” and “The hooded man” from some old television series is the “avatar” for the new era. Not the most convincing article… Christopher A. Smith, a modern magician, contribituted a few pages about contemporary Northern magic, making clear that we no longer live in the Middle Ages. The closing article is for Troy Southgate who gives “a Wodenist perspective” on The symbolic & practical significence of the centre. He of course quotes Eliade who extensively investigated the symbolism of the centre of the world, world trees, etc. but Southgate goes on with giving a ritual to make your own centre. I am not really fond of such outwritten rituals and fail to see Southgate’s purpose of the ritual.
Indeed, I am quite critical about the essays in this publication, but that does not mean that I do not applaud yet another serious (“semi-academic”) modern heathen publication. Without different opinions and approaches nothing new will ever surface and the publication surely raises some things worthy to think over and to discuss. Therefor I advice to try to keep up with this kind of publications if you are interested in contemporary heathenry.
Link: Primordial Traditions 2011, isbn 9780473162832

Heidens Jaarboek 2010

However the title means exactly the same as “Heidnisches Jahrbuch“, these publications have nothing to do with eachother, but of course, they are alike in more than one way. The “Heidens Jaarboek” is a small, self-published booklet by the Dutch heathen group “Nederlands Heidendom”. Like the German counterpart it is an anual publication with essays about (contemporary) paganism. The eighth issue already contains two more chapters of Jan de Vries’ Die Geistige Welt Der Germanen (‘the spiritual world of the Germanic people’ by lack of a better translation), translated from German to Dutch. In the fifth chapter De Vries speaks about poetry, the role of women in Germanic society; in fact a deep peek into the old Teutonic psyche. De Vries used a very poetic writing style that must have been quite hard to translate, but the translation is done very well. The sixth chapter of Die Geistige Welt is again about poetry, in particular the ways of constructing poems and later the focus shifts towards other forms of art, metallurgy and woodworking. Quite a few pages and also quite a few well-printed images. The new “Heidens Jaarboek” is very well printed in general on glossy paper and with a colour cover. In any case, besides these two chapters of Jan de Vries there is a short essay about Langobards and Kynekephalen (dog-faced men), whether they were a trick or an actual elite warrior group. The opening article is about Stellingwerf and the turbulent history of this area laying between the Dutch provinces of Friesland and Drenthe. Are the inhabitents Frisians, Drenths or neither? Boppo Grimmsma traces back the history of the inhabitents and their language.
A limited number of books are printed, so if you are interested, quickly click on the image to get ordering information. Of course the booklet is in Dutch.

Heidnisches Jahrbuch 2006 (2005)

When I found the publication, there were three volumes available. Based on the tables of content, I decided to order volume 2 (2007). Only when the fourth issue (2010) came I did I think to try to get the rest as well. Volume 3 (2008) was already sold out, 4 was sold out in no-time, but volume 1 was still available. In the meantime, the original printing is sold out as well, but fortunately another publisher republished all four issues. I hope that this also means that issue 4 will not be the last. In any case, the first “Heathen Yearbook” is not the best. With projects such as this I imagine that some people have a lot of material available, too much for a normal magazine and then decide to make it larger and the result is a book. It is not really that this is a compilation of great articles. In fact, the first heathen yearbook is not even as much focussed on practical Northern-European paganism as the later volumes. There are some quite new-agy articles, Middle-Eastern heathenry and purely historical texts. In the opening article Baal Müller wonders what neo-paganism actually is. An expected and nice opener for the series. A very long, and mostly historical, article is about “Arbogast, the forgotten hero”. After an article about the belief in wonders another lenghty article about “Erfahrungsreligionen”, or “religions of experience” follows, an approach to paganism that is to become a red thread through all future volumes. Vision-quests, shamanism, investigation of regions of the brain from which out-of-body-experiences can be forced, articles that did not really catch my attention. More interesting was the article about Hermann Hendrich. For the rest there is an investigation of “Grottis magical mill” and texts about the freedom of a heathen, runes and the original language and wolf-men. Book- and musicreviews and a calendar for 2006 close off the book. An interesting start of an interesting series of publications, but looking back, not the best volume. Fortunately available in reprint, so you can get it and judge for yourself.
2005 Verlag Daniel Junker, isbn 3938432020, 2010 reprinted by Edition Roter Drache, isbn 3939459437

Heidnisches Jahrbuch 2010 (2009)

In 2006 the first Heidnisches Jahrbuch (“heathen yearbook”) was published. In 2007 and 2008 the next two followed and now in 2010 the last. In the preface the editors Daniel Junker and Holger Kliemannel say:

When the idea for this project was born five years ago, we could not imagine where we would stand today with the means available. The idea was, to give the contemporary heathen movement [neuheidnischen Bewegung] an academic voice, in which we succeeded. Many university libraries in the Federal Republic, Austria, Switserland all the way to Princeton (USA) have subscribed to the yearbook and therewith making it available for investigation. The academic discourse was enriched with a pagan voice.

Too bad that these line are preceeded with a short announcement that this fourth Heidnisches Jahrbuch will be the last, due to personal and business reasons. That is really too bad, because the Jahrbuch is a very praiseworthy project. Starting around the same time as Tyr Journal with a similar setup and more like the recent The Journal Of Contemporary Heathen Thought, the Jahrbuch is (of course) a heathen, annually published collection of shorter and longer essays presented in the form of a book of 350 pages. This last volume is very well printed too. One of the reasons that I ran into the Jahrbuch is because it deals with contemporary paganism. Not that all articles are musings about daily life of contemporary pagans, but at least the writing are both by and for heathens and some are indeed about daily life. What you get in volume four is an article about the veneration of wells (Celtic and Roman), an introduction to the pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet: Bön, an article about Medusa (giving Celtic leads), an article about the traditional martial art of GlÍ­ma, a provocative essay of the American investigator of contemporary heathenry Michael Strmiska called How to give the blót the blood back, a personal search for the God Delling, a nice article about Galdr based on the history of music, a thorough investigation of the Húsdrapa of Íšlfr Uggason and then come book-, music- and filmreviews. In the bookreviews section the background of this Jahrbuch becomes a bit clearer. However the Jahrbuch is not connected to any group or movement, the magical order of the Roter Drache seems to have a voice in it and there are book reviews of the Roter Drache publishing company, a book about modern magicians and other magical works.
Especially regarding the articles, the new Heidnisches Jahrbuch is an interesting read. I noticed that they sell very well. When I was looking for previous editions, I did not find a copy of volume 3 and Amazon Germany has volume 4 currently listed as “temporarily out of stock”, but it seems that there is an Edition Roter Drache reprint available (in fact, the Roter Drache seems to have reprints of all Jahrbücher). So if you want to get yourself copies, be quick and/or look around well. Mind -though- that this is not a cheap publication. The prices differ from € 30,- to € 35,-, which with the current exchange rate, means $ 40,- to $ 50,- excluding shipping. I have seen the books on secondhand websites for much higher prices too. I have a copy of volume 1 which will be reviewed when I finish it and now I found out about the reprint, there is a copy of volume 3 on its way.
2009 Daniel Junker Verlag, isbn 3938432101)

The Journal Of Contemporary Heathen Thought (2010)

At its core, our publication is a response to the critiques leveled at the current state of Heathen thought in the journal TYR: Myth-Culture-Tradition. […] In the second volume, Stephen McNallen wrote that we are beseiged by a “lack of philosophical depth.” He goes on to note that “it is an error to think that we can simply pick up where we left off a thousand years ago. The Christian interregnum must be addressed using the intellectual tools that have developed in the intervening time and this means examining our beliefs and expressing them intellectually compelling ways.
Likewise, in volume three, Collin Cleary ventured that what Heathenry “
seems to desperately needs is something like a theology that would address basic philosophical questions.” And it is thus that The Journal of Contemporary heathen Thought begins as a journal of profound discontent.

Thus says the introduction of this new journal. Like the mentioned TYR journal this is a journal in the form of a book, a 270 page magazine so to say. As you can see, the Heathen Journal wants to give the contemporary heathen some backbone, “philosophical”, “theological”, it sounds a bit dogmatic, but I support the aim. Much like the Heidnisches Jahrbuch we are speaking about contemporary heathenism. No overview of archeological findings, no ‘what would the ancient Germans have done’, no analyses of Gods of Goddesses projected on an imaginary past, but musings of people of our own time and age trying to give an idea of what heathenry can be for us today. The aim for a more solid foundation gets a flying start with the editor Christopher A. Plaisance’s article Why I am a Heathen. Plaisance came to heathenry because of his intensive study of Nietzsche and that philosophical scholarly background is obvious in his article. It is no easy read and I am no philosopher myself, but it is something different to see somebody with such a background speak about familiar subjects. Next up is Stephen M. Borthwick with Hermann Awakened: Folkishness vs. Racism. The journal describes itself as “a folkish publication”, but that description has certain connotations in the eyes of some which are cleared away in this article. Cognitive Bias and Contemporary Heathenry is another scholarly piece saying that we see what we expect to see and have to take a distance to look at our faith. When the Gods Speak Back: A Heathen Perspective on Gardening of Loddfafner is the next article. The title speaks for itself. Hunter Yoder’s Magic Plants Used Symbolically in Germanic Heathen Hexology speaks about a nowadays form of heathen magic and Steven Robinson hopes to inspire heathen poets-to-be. In a nice nice article of Juleigh Howard-Hobson’s speaks about The Feminine in the Post-Modern Age: How Feminism Negates Folkways which takes a stand against feminism because it turns women into men and disregards the traditional role of man and woman. Another nice article comes from Dan Cæppe’s and is called Wandering the Nine Worlds: Heathenism’s Shamanic Origins. It (of course) speaks about the shamanic origins of the religion of old, a thought that comes back in other essays as well. I earlier spoke about ‘certain connotations’ of our faith in the eyes of some. Therefor it is refreshing to see a publication in which Evola is quoted without blinking an eye and an article of Alain de Benoist. What I like less is that De Benoist speaks about Intolerance and Religion in which is (what is also to be found in other articles) bashes against the “Abrahamistic religions” while he opens with saying how tolerant the old polytheistic religion was. A very long and very nice article come from Kris Stevenson, an “Odinist” who gives An Interpretation of Germanic Mythology. New ideas, no historical or comparative musings, but our mythology projected on our inner selves. I do not agree with Stevenson on all his points, and he heavily uses Titchenell, not a source that many will quote, but it is nice to read somebody else’s interpretation of “the lore”.
Besides articles there is some poetry an interview with Sonne Hagal and book reviews such as of Oswald Sprengler’s The Decline Of The West, Confessions Of A Radical Traditionalist of John Mitchell, the Primordial Traditions Compendium and the little book of Peryt Shou.
All in all a nice read, a nice initiative and a lot cheaper than the German counterpart ($20 against €35).
2010 CreateSpace, isbn 1452883718

Heidens Jaarboek 2009

In 2009 Nederlands Heidendom” (“Dutch Heathenry”) has been around for 9 years, an anniversary to celebrate. This 2009 “yearbook” is already the 7th and is for a large part dedicated to the anniversary. “Boppo Grimmsma” who is not one of the founders, but an early member who more or less acts as chairman, gives a story of the 9 year history and tells how a small group became mostly a growing virtual group and later a practising group arose, also growing in number. At Midsummer and Midwinter the weekends open with writing contents and the booklet presents some of these scribblings. Other than those, there is an interesting article of Grimmsma again about the three colours. Besides the known information he connects the colours to the three fases of the day (black, night; red, dawn; white, day) and suggests that the order of the colours matters. Of the contest writings the one of Grimmsma in which he portrays himself as a Frisian chauvinist is the most enjoyable. There are numerous other authors too, do not worry. Again the most professionally looking, this 9 euro A5 booklet with 96 pages containing 3 articles and 18 stories is a nice read for a long winter night.

Heidnisches Jahrbuch 2007 (2006)

Heidnisches Jahrbuch 2In several regards this German publication is like the Tyr Journal. An anual publication with three issues available in the form of a 450 page well-printed book with essays of different authors about paganism and related subjects and book and music reviews at the end. Those are the similarities, because there are of course more differences. The nice thing about the Heidnisches Jahrbuch is that is deals with contemporary paganism and its problems. No investigations of archeological evidence and myths to contruct a theory, but writings about how pagans of today can fill in their faith and practises. However the Jahrbuch does not come from a certain organisation, the authors seem to agree on two points: paganism is polytheistic and paganism is democratic. I personally disagree with both which makes it ‘difficult’ to follow reasonings here and there. The first article About the reception of germanic neopaganism in Germany nowadays is a nice piece about how different media report about paganism. Of course they display a lot of ignorance and prejudice. A critical article follows about the fact that people say: “but the Eddas say…”, while Kurt Oertel displays how flawed our sources and their translations are. For the rest: textual investigations, modern runestones, Frau Percht and the Perchten-movements that are popular today, headhunters; a whole range of subjects pass. The interpretation is often very philosophical or scholarly. One subject that one of course cannot avoid when talking about contemporary paganism is the link with conservative politics. The last and longest article takes about 80 pages to distinguish “völkische esoterik” from “germanic heathenry”. Pages and pages are filled with the history of prenazi “völkish” groups, antisemitism, racism all to prove that the supposed ‘pagan’ ideas of people from the past and present with these ideas are in fact Christian with a pagan varnish and not the least bit based on a polytheistic religion.
Heidnisches Jahrbuch 2007 was a nice read. There should be more publications about contemporary paganism, so I support the initiative. I have not seen the other two volumes of this publication yet, so maybe it was just this issue, but all three Heidnisches Jahrbücher are well available (through for example), so if you can read German and are prepared to pay a relatively high price for a publication like this, these series could be something for you.
2009 verlag daniel junker, isbn 9783938432068

Heidens Jaarboek 2008

HJB 6The Dutch group “Nederlands Heidendom” is getting more and more ‘professional’, which is clearly shown by their sixth “Heathen Yearbook”. As the title says, this is an annual publication and this time it is nicely bound and it has a colour cover. The yearbook has about 100 pages with some nice articles of varried kind. The opening article is a nice and lengthy article about the Yule celebrations and it is written by Boppo Grimmsma. Grimmsma has collected all kinds of information about ancient celebrations, myths and habbits. It is not really new information, but nicely put together and a nice variety of sources is used. Next up is a shorter article by the same Grimmsma about the correct name of the last Dutch pagan kind Redbad. After this follows a lighter part, because there has been an essay competition and all short stories are presented here. The texts varry from descriptions of member of Nederlands Heidendom through the fictional eyes of an outsider to visions of a future in which pagan sacred places are reclaimed. Amusing! Grimmsma again then tells us something about ancient cultic celebrations. The last article is more like the announcement of the second version of a Dutch book about Northern witchcraft and magic, which seems interesting, so I hope I will not miss it again.
All in all a nice publication for a nice price. Of course written in Dutch. Click the link I gave earlier for more information.

Traditie 2008/1

www.traditie.beThe first issue after we moved arrived with some delay, but here we finally have the spring equinox issue, the first issue of the 14th year this magazine is made and also the first issue in the ‘new style’. From this issue on there will be shorter articles by more different writers, more focussed on the present and more variety in the writing style. In short: there will be more participation of members and readers. Fortunately nothing changed about the opening. Herman Vanhove as always opens with a nice and humorous article, this time about his “hammer of Thor”: his photocamera. Next article is anonymous (at least, under pseudonym) and calls for a digital answer to all the rubbish that is published on Youtube and similar canals under the banner of Asatru. Alwin Goethals, our very own mead-brewer, has written an article about mead, its history, its uses and the forms it took. Another pseudonym tells us a bit about the tree as a symbol in our faith and chairman Stefaan van den Eynde does something similar when he describes the habbits surrounding the May-pole in the next article. Founder Koenraad Logghe contributed two texts in a style we are not really used from him. The first is slightly religiously Christian, but makes the bridge to our own beliefs, the second is a “Hávamal” based on a notebook with Western-Flemish sayings that his mother used to collect. Between these two articles by Logghe, there is one of myself about Traditionalism and our Werkgroep Traditie and an interview with Gunther Theys of the Flemish metal band Ancient Rites. Theys takes some distance from the black metal scene, yet the interview is made up with “vintage” black metal kids with “corps paint”… Yet another pseudonym wrote a nice article about the sacred meaning of marriage. Two of the pseudonyms use the metaphor of Taliban to describe certain Christians and also the third anonymous has some quite anti-Christian rethoric. Hopefully this shows us more that some individuals have such feelings while this says nothing about our movement and perhaps it is just because these are the first articles published not written by an almost fixed group of writers.
In any case, the articles are still very interesting, the publication is still about 40 pages and the lay-out looks fine as ever. So, if you can read Dutch and you are interested in “Germanic and Celtic culture and spirituality”, be sure to get in contact with Traditie. To visit the website, click on the cover the of journal.

Tyr journal volume 3 (2008 ultra publishing * isbn 0972029230)

Tyr 3It usually wouldn’t take me almost four months to read a book of this size (530 pages), but moving from one house to another leaves me little time to read. For some reason Amazon still seems to not sell new copies of this journal, while when issue 1 was published, it was available on every corner of the street. Too bad, because Tyr is a nice read for people interested in Northern European mythology, esotericism or Traditionalism (either or not “radical”). There are numerous articles some of which are longer, others are shorter. This volume opens with some “against the modern world” texts and Michael O’Meare says something about “The Primordial and the Perennial”. Alain De Benoist follows with a magnificent article in which he combines Guénon’s idea of “Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power” (like the article is called) with Dumézil’s tripartite hypothesis and makes a very readable and informative text which -unfortunately- towards the end doesn’t keep the high level. Usual contributors such as Nigel Pennick, Stephen Flowers, Joscelyn Godwin, Ian Read, Michael Moynihan and Collin Cleary contributed alright to very nice texts about a variety of subjects. There is an article about Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson and the Icelandic Asatru federation, a long text about the ancient Baltic religion and Romuva, two lengthy and critical reviews of Mark Sedgewick’s Against The Modern World and many other book- and musicreviews. For more details and ordering go to the website of the publisher. Tyr remains a suggested reading.
Link: Ultra Publishing
Read quotes from Tyr here.