Thoughts on A Modern Guide to Heathenry: Lore, Celebrations, and Mysteries of the Northern Traditions by Galina Krasskova

I received a complimentary copy of A Modern Guide to Heathenry: Lore, Celebrations, and Mysteries of the Northern Traditions by Galina Krasskova from publisher Weiser Books.

Here’s how it’s described online, none of which I take issue with:

heathenryAn accessible yet in-depth guide to this increasingly popular pre-Christian religious tradition of Northern Europe

Heathenry, is one of the fastest growing polytheistic religious movements in the United States today. This book explores the cosmology, values, ethics, and rituals practiced by modern heathens.

In A Modern Guide to Heathenry readers will have the opportunity to explore the sacred stories of the various heathen gods like Odin, Frigga, Freya, and Thor and will be granted a look into the devotional practices of modern votaries. Blóts, the most common devotional rites, are examined in rich detail with examples given for personal use. Additionally, readers are introduced to the concept of wyrd, or fate, so integral to the heathen worldview.

Unlike many books on heathenry, this one is not denomination-specific, nor does it seek to overwhelm the reader with unfamiliar Anglo-Saxon or Norse terminology. For Pagans who wish to learn more about the Norse deities or those who are new to heathenry or who are simply interested in learning about this unique religion, A Modern Guide to Heathenry is the perfect introduction. Those who wish to deepen their own devotional practice will find this book helpful in their own work as well.

Now my thoughts:

I reviewed this book when it was originally published as Exploring the Northern Tradition back nearly a decade ago. I did not give it very high marks. Including UPG material in what I felt should have hewn to a more scholarly approach was one of my perceived transgressions, and I was not (and am not) overly fond of the author’s personal brand of heathenry. This colored my views, to be sure.

That said, giving it a fresh read, in a slightly revised edition, I am more accepting of the material, less protective, I suppose you could say.

The fact is, heathenry continues to evolve and grow. I accept that my own heathen beliefs are in the minority and I’m okay with that. All I can do is live my life and speak my words. Each man and woman will find their own path and the gods can take take care of themselves.

The simple truth is, there is value in this book, if you are new to heathenry. It is a fine introduction to modern perspectives on an ancient faith that is still clawing its way back to relevancy.

I can see in this book shadows of my faith, like reflections on a pool of water at night. I trust that those shadows are enough to call people to the gods, if their hearts and minds are open.

A great emphasis on ancestral worship is greatly appreciated as I see it as the most important aspect of the faith.

If you are unfamiliar with heathenry, then I recommend this book to you. Here, the door is opened, just a crack, for you to glimpse the faith in all its glory. This book can be a stepping stone for you, out an across still, moonlit waters, where the gods lurk in the shadowy recesses, calling you home.

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