Finally, after waiting a year I have the second volume on Northern Traditions (ed. Gwendolyn Toynton). Having enjoyed the previous book (simply titled Northern Traditions) I was really looking forward to reading this – and book held many surprises for me.
Firstly, the journal has been renamed as ‘Mimir: Journal of North European Traditions’, which I think has a nicer aesthetic tone to it, and narrowing down the title to ‘North European Traditions’ gives the readers a better idea of content. The editor likewise changed her name, and is now writing under her real name, Gwendolyn Taunton.
In terms of the content, the book is also surprising as it begins in the introduction with an unexpected recourse to Nietzsche, and explains his ‘Parable of the Madmen’ in the context of modernity, explaining why people are still not ready for the ‘Death of God’ which is a main theme of Nietzsche’s, drawing an unexpected comparison with modern society and Nietzsche’s ‘Twilight of the Idols’. At this point I had no doubt that the editor is indeed, ‘philosophising with a hammer’ on the ready.
The was swiftly followed by the editors own article on the origins of the Nornir, which not only draws from a wealth of mythology from Scandinavia and Germany, but also proceeded to explain the identity of the Nornir in comparison to the Greek Moirai and the Roman Parcae. The usual interpretation of the Nornir as ‘Past, Present, Future’ is dismissed and a different interpretation is provided by drawing on PIE sources. This is further elaborated on describing the Nornir in the light of linguistic elements and occult knowledge, to reveal a very potent triplicate female deity tied to magic and oratory power. This article is unique, highly intricate and challenges a lot of contemporary theories about the Nornir.
Next up is Matt Hajduk’s examination of the Vikings in America. Most of this material is entirely new to me, which is good, and the author reveals an exceptional knowledge of history and archaeology. He examines both literary sources and excavations in America, to put forward a theory for early European settlements in America. This is great for modern day heathens in America, as it helps build a cultural background for the faith which ties the colony back to mainland Europe and helps provide a history for Heathen Traditions in America.
Also worth a mention here are the two articles on Saxo, who is one of the most prominent authors in regards to Danish myth. At the present time, not too many Heathens know about Saxo, and this is something I’d really like to see more people reading as Saxo is one of the only surviving primary sources for Heathenism in the region. Moreover, one of the pieces on Saxo is a fresh translation of a Latin text, which appears to be an original. For anyone interested in Danish myth, the Saxo articles are an absolute ‘must read’.
The two articles written from the perspective of René Guénon on Traditional Asatru as also good, and these help to assert the identity of Heathenism as a real Tradition and not just ‘neo-paganism’.
The other article which I feel stands out is on the possibility of an initiation current being hidden in the Eddas – this adds a real esoteric vibe to the Northern myths and provides us with hope of discovery a ‘Mystery Tradition’ similar to the Rites of Eleusis.
The other articles are also fantastic and include such topics as quest mythology being used as a philosophical model in myth, a piece examining the use of runes in divination, and Uthark Theory.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book. In terms of research and content, it is light years ahead of it contemporaries. This is something new, which aims at establishing a rich cultural, intellectual and spiritual heritage for Heathenism, which is not found in other similar titles.
(Source: Prometheus Review)