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Edition Roter Drache

Schamanismus Bei Den Germanen – Thomas Höffgen (2017)

I thought I heard of this book, but its publication is so recent (March 2017) that I doubt that it was this book. Its publisher also (re)published the Heidnische Jahrbücher (which are sold out), but there have been none since 2012, so that is not where I can have heard about the current title.

So, ‘Shamanism with the Teutons’. There is something that you hear about every now and then. According to the author, the subject has never been really well investigated and he aims at filling that gap. I am afraid I have to say that, in my opinion, he does so unconvincingly.

In the first pages of the book, the author says that the term “Shaman” is explained so generally, that much can fall under it. That is exactly my feeling about this book. Sure, Odin rides a horse, but is he therefor a shaman (and Sleipnir a drum)? Certainly, Berzerkr wear bear-skins, but does that make them shamans? I do not argue that when you list them all, quite a couple of elements of the Norse religion can be linked to shamanism, but I fail to see the use to do that as indiscriminately as the author does.

Völvas, people performing Utiseti (‘sitting outside’) or healing (wo)man undoubtedly have shaman elements or could be seen as shamans when you use that as a general term, but is an Ulfheðnar a shaman because he wears a wolf-skin and perhaps ate mushrooms before going to fight? Are their battles, ‘battles of the spirit’ then? And why make shamans of all the Gods, when a shaman is actually (at least in my opinion) a human being reaching for the world above? Why would a God need to be a shaman?

Höffgen mentions many of the known examples of drawings and references that we find in other books, only that he uses them to prove shamanism while author authors use them for other argumentations. This collecting of information does give the book some merit though. The author is a bit limited in sources. The name “De Vries” is mentioned once, but Jan de Vries is not in the bibliography. I also miss other authors in the field, even other authors that wrote in the German language.

An author that Höffgen does mention is Otto Höffler and his Kultische Geheimbünde der Germanen (‘Cultic secret societies of the Germans’) and this is the only occasion on which he presents another way of looking at the same information. Höffler wrote about esoteric initiation bonds rather than shamans. The two use (as I said) the same examples.

Shamanismus Bei Den Germanen is a little book (140 pages) that makes an alright read and there is not too much contemporary literature of this kind, but I simply cannot follow the author seeing shamanism in every animal cloth or possible reference to hallucinates.

2017 Edition Roter Drache, isbn 3946425208

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

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

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)

Adulruna Und Die Gotische Kabbala * Thomas Karlsson (2007)

It has been quite a while since I investigated the interesting Swede Johannes Bureus. There seems to be quite an interest in the man, since my articles and book reviews are relatively popular and I even got two comments in a few days time on an article speaking about Bureus. One of these comments notified me about this book. I guess I missed it, otherwise I would have bought it earlier, but if I remember correctly this is the dissertation of Karlsson and was only available in Swedish in the time I wrote my articles. Karlsson is one of the founders of the Dragon Rouge order and this German translation is published by the Edition Roter Drache. It is good that this little book has been translated to a language that is mastered by more people. First of all Karlsson is more extensive and in-depth than Stephen Flowers, but mostly, Karlsson has visited all the libraries that have writings of Bureus, so the information about for example Adalruna is not based on one version, but on all seven. Then, of course, there is quite a lot of material about Bureus and his system available in Swedish and Karlsson used all these sources too, so now we have more insight in what has been investigated already than when a non-Swedish author picks up the subject. Having written this book on college, Karlsson dived into the current scholarly field of the investigation of Western esotericism, of course including our Amsterdam chair and the Sarbonne in France.
Karlsson wanted to put Bureus in a larger perspective and therefor he starts with information about Western esotericism and the scholars in this field and he continues with a rather long chapter about gothicism and what is meant and what it means. There is little information about the life of Bureus himself, but all the more about his Kabbalistic use of his runes and his shady figures such as the cubic stone and the rune cross. What I mostly enjoy about the larger perspective is that Karlsson says a thing or two about Bureus’ predecessors and how and why his system had such little influence on later generations. Indeed, Karlsson’s book definately adds something to the subject and I would suggest an English edition to expand the readership a bit more.
2007 Edition Roter Drache, isbn 9783939459040
See here for my Bureus articles.