Saturday, March 16, 2024

Book Review: Norse Mysticism by Disa Forvitin

norse mysticism, norse paganism, heathenry, book review, witch, witchcraft, occult, spiritual, wicca, wiccan, pagan

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have been on a reading kick lately, trying to knock out as many occult books as possible from my ever-growing stack. That means I have yet another book review for all of you. If I am honest, I skipped a couple books in my stack to get to Norse Mysticism: An Exploration of Viking Traditions and Magical Practices by Disa Forvitin. If you read The Future of Flying the Hedge you know that I have decided to listen to my ancestors and follow a new spiritual path, including Norse paganism. This book felt like the right place to get my toes wet.

Norse Mysticism: An Exploration of Viking Traditions and Magical Practices by Disa Forvitin is a very, very brief introduction to Norse spiritual practices. At just under 200 pages and with lots of illustrations (and blank space) you can read through this in an afternoon. It is by no means a comprehensive guide, but does provide a wonderful overview of the history, mythology, and practices of Norse pagans with a bit of Trolldom mixed in.

Forvitin notes in the introduction that Norse mythology was largely an oral tradition, so what you read in this book may not line up with what other authors report. No version is more correct than another due to the nature of oral traditions and the cultural influences of the region from which they originate. I think modern-day practitioners get so caught up with being historically accurate, that they forget the myths and practices were a product of their time, and what records we have are often biased and incomplete. Instead, Forvitin encourages readers to use ancient wisdom to develop a modern, personal practice. Magic is personal so what may work for someone else won't necessarily work for you. Furthermore, the need to fend off literal wolves doesn't apply in most cases, but you may have to defend yourself from wolfish people.

Also in the introduction is a section on the co-opting of Norse symbolism by hate groups. This is one of the biggest problems with modern heathenry; white supremacists have long been co-opting and bastardizing Norse paganism to support their racist ideals and fascist beliefs. True practitioners of heathenry know that it was a largely inclusive practice, allowing for both men and women practitioners of magic (although it was mostly women who participated). On top of this, the Norse were extremely open to women being warriors and there is evidence of trans individuals being greatly honored. Needless to say, these neo-Nazis are misappropriating Norse mythology.

Forvitin gives a wonderful overview of Nordic history to put Nordic traditions into perspective. As with all traditions, we must view them through a historical lens, not a modern one. This helps explain why they did what they did. This also explains the Norse myths, holidays, and types of magic such as seidhr, spae, and galdar. I will say that the dates for the Nordic holidays outlined in the book differ from most other sources. That isn't to say they are incorrect, but that there is some wiggle room if the dates don't work for you. The list of holidays provided, however, is widely accepted by the community at large, which is different from the Wiccan-inspired Wheel of the Year, which borrowed holidays from multiple cultures.

Throughout the book, there are random spells, side notes, crafts, and rituals, such as making your own modern primstav. I loved these little asides as they give the reader some ideas on how to implement ancient practices into their modern lives.

Overall, I enjoyed Norse Mysticism: An Exploration of Viking Traditions and Magical Practices by Disa Forvitin, but feel it was lacking in depth. As I mentioned, this is a short introductory read for those looking to see if the practice is for them, or those interested in broadening their understanding of cultures outside of their own. If you are looking for something that provides more guidance or detail, this isn't the book for you.

Norse Mysticism: An Exploration of Viking Traditions and Magical Practices by Disa Forvitin is currently available for pre-order and is set to release on May 9, 2024.

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