Sorcery and Religion in Ancient Scandinavia Paperback – 5 Dec 2011
|New from||Used from|
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Sorcery and Religion in Ancient Scandinavia
Customers who bought this item also bought
Showing 1-8 of 23 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The book mentions nothing about politics or music. The author does not relate any of the content herein to his music nor to his political or philosophical beliefs. The content sticks very well to the title. Varg provides his interpretation of Norse mythology which notably differs from the contemporary interpretation. He does not say that the current understanding is totally wrong but rather he believes it is misguided. At the end of the book he states that the modern misinterpretation is a fault introduced by the linear thought processes of the Judeo-Christian influence upon the West.
Contentiously, and somewhat arrogantly, he states that the book contains no citations. From an academic point of view this is sacrilege. However, this text is not written in a high-brow academic manner. It is more akin to a layman's guide. The content is coherent and logical, that is to say that it is self-consistent. This is perhaps the greatest achievement of this book, it is compelling and believable. Whether it is true is another matter. History and the interpretation of folklore is always going to be subjective. The accepted consensus of such a subject is always going to be that which is the most publicized point of view, which is hopefully logically but not necessarily true.
To re-iterate, The author believes that Norse mythology has been looked at too greatly from a Judeo-Christian perspective. This is not entirely a modern problem as many of the old legends were `Christianized' and re-recorded during Scandinavia's conversion to Christianity. That is to say that the consensus interpretation of Norse mythology might be logical and believable but it is essentially a bastardized form of the older, original versions of the tales. Note that there are several recorded versions of the myths.
As stated, citations in the classic sense don't exist. However, this isn't really a flaw. Citations merely point to former works that are similar to the one being read. They are, perhaps, a crutch upon which to rest should one's work found to be fallacious ("Not my fault, I just copied the previous guy"). Consequently, if the author of this book is wrong then only he alone is wrong. As far as I know this is an original piece of work / research. My knowledge of Norse mythology is not at an academic standard.
He achieves his interpretation from reading the original works, such as Havamal, and then makes extensive use of etymological links between contemporary words and the originals. Anyone with basic knowledge of a modern Scandinavian language should appreciate the clarifications presented. Personally, I enjoy etymology and I have a basic grasp of modern Swedish and Norwegian. The author provides some excerpts from old Norse poetry, and in some cases from the proto-Nordic language (transliterated from Runic to the Latin alphabet), which he translates into modern Norwegian and English. For example, he notes that Dwarf (ON: dvergr) did not originally mean a small person. He states that the original meaning is more apparent in the female form of the word dyrrgja; from dyrr ('door') and gja ('opening in the ground'). So it is an opening in the ground or an entrance to the grave.
The book starts with Varg's interpretation of how sorcery came about and what influence it had in ancient Scandinavian society. He explains how religion evolved from attempted sorcery and states his belief that Norse mythology is essentially a primitive / spiritual cosmology. The physical phenomena apparent in nature were given names (e.g. lightning = Loki and thunder = Thor) and then a story was created to explain how these deities behave. For example: Thor chases Loki means that thunder must always follow lightning. This is perhaps the least contentious part of this work.
The real difference is when Varg comes to explain Ragnarok. Naturally, this part is the most challenging to the consensus view. He expounds that Ragnarok is not the end of the world (Twilight of the idols / Gotterdammerug) as most of us are familiar with, such as from the works of Tolkien (Sigurd and Gudrun) and Wagner (Ring Cycle). Varg explains that Ragnarok is the end of the year from which a new year is born, hence Norse mythology is a cyclical as opposed to linear. Ragnarok is a ritual performed by humans in an attempt to expel winter and bring back summer. Therefore, the Norse story of creation is not necessarily about the creation of the universe or the world but rather the creation a new year from the old (expelling winter and returning to summer).
He uses this to highlight how all aspects of Norse mythology are related to Ragnarok (the annual ritual) and how a physical burial mound was constructed to represent the various parts of the tales. The burial mound is explained as the hall of the dead, i.e. Valhalla. That is to say that all parts of Norse mythology relate to a human ritual and a physically real entity, this is opposed to the common view that all of the stories in Norse mythology relate only to an Other-worldly place where only deities exist. Only briefly, at the very end, does he state that the war between the Aesir and Vanir is a misinterpretation. The two families are really different names for the same gods.
I recommend this to anyone interested in Norse mythology. It is coherent and concise but far from being the final say on the matter.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?