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Books of the Sagas

When asked by people who are first diving into the spirituality of what is commonly known as Norse Paganism I always recommend the Hávamál, the Eddas and of course the Sagas. These I feel really can build a foundation for anyone interested in starting a spiritual path regarding this subject. But of course there are thousands of books regarding the tales of the folklore and the Gods and Goddesses of Scandinavia, many of which are in my personal library which will eventually be added on blogs posts here. But for now I want to focus on five books in my library so let us get to it.

The Sagas of Icelanders: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

A unique body of medieval literature, the Sagas rank with the world’s greatest literary treasures–as epic as Homer, as deep in tragedy as Sophocles, as engagingly human as Shakespeare. Set around the turn of the last millennium, these stories depict with an astonishingly modern realism the lives and deeds of the Norse men and women who first settled Iceland and of their descendants, who ventured further west–to Greenland and, ultimately, the coast of North America itself.

The ten Sagas and seven shorter tales in this volume include the celebrated “Vinland Sagas,” which recount Leif Eiriksson’s pioneering voyage to the New World and contain the oldest descriptions of the North American continent. Get your copy HERE.

The Sagas of Fridthjof the Bold
By Ben Waggoner

Popular in the 19th century for its sweeping, adventurous, romantic plot and tender love story, the Saga of Fridthjof the Bold was largely neglected in the 20th century. Now, a new and fresh translation of both versions of this Old Norse saga restores it to glory. Also included is the swashbuckling Saga of Thorstein Vikingsson, the father of the hero Fridthjof; the Tale of King Vikar, telling of Fridthjof’s descendants; and plenty of notes and commentary giving the saga’s historical and cultural background. These tales of adventure, war, magic, and love can still thrill the heart today, as they did centuries ago. Get your copy HERE.

The Hrafnista Sagas
By Ben Waggoner

The Norwegian island of Hrafnista was long remembered in medieval Iceland as the ancestral home of a family of powerful chieftains, who were said to have faced and triumphed over dangers ranging from tyrant kings, to storms and famines, to giants, dragons, and sorcery. Descendants of these Men of Hrafnista settled in Iceland and gave rise to prominent families, who passed on tales of their ancestors for generations until they were written down. For the first time, the Old Norse sagas of the Men of Hrafnista—the Saga of Ketil Salmon, the Saga of Grim Shaggy-Cheek, the Saga of Arrow-Odd, and the Saga of An Bow-Bender—have been collected in one volume, in English translation. Enter the world of Viking legend and lore with these tales of high adventure. Get your copy HERE.

Sagas of Giants and Heroes
By Ben Waggoner

Huge in stature; living in far-distant wastelands; sometimes comically stupid or crude; but possessing vast wealth and knowledge—such are the giants of Norse myth and legend.

Four Icelandic sagas and six tales, spanning five centuries, are brought together for the first time in all-new English translations. All tell of mighty giants, and of the heroes who dared to face them, fight them, and sometimes befriend them. The giants and trolls of old still live on in these legendary sagas of old times. These tales of epic voyages, wars, and romance will appeal to both scholars of Norse mythology and fans of Viking adventure.

The sagas include the Saga of the Kjalarnes People, the Saga of Halfdan Brana’s Fosterling, the Saga of Sorli the Strong, and the Saga of Illugi Grid’s Fosterling.

The six shorter tales are: the Tale of Halfdan the Black, the Tale of Hauk High-Breeches, the Tale of Jokul Buason, the Tale of Brindle-Cross, an excerpt from the Saga of the Fljotsdal People, and the Tale of Asmund Ogre-Lucky. Get your copy HERE.

Three Icelandic Sagas Gunnlaugs Saga Ormstungu – Bandamanna Saga – Droplaugarsona Saga Hardcover – January 1, 1950
by Margaret and M. H. Scargill (translators) Schlauch (Author)



This gem may not be so easy to acquire as it is out of print as far as I know. My copy of Three Icelandic Sagas is a first edition published on Januray 1st, 1950 and is my favorite in my Sagas collection. The three Sagas told in this book are the Gunnlaugs Saga, Bandamanna Saga and Droplaugarsona Saga which all took place from the late 10th century to early 11th century in Iceland. The book is so well written and even includes some beautiful art depicting scenes from the Sagas. If you manage to get a copy of this first edition it is one you will thoroughly enjoy.

When we think of the roots of European civilization it’s to Greece and Rome that our thoughts turn. But there is a culture whose effect may be even more profound. Hundreds of years ago in faraway Iceland the Vikings began to write down dozens of stories – called sagas. These sagas are priceless historical documents which bring to life the Viking world.
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The Lesser Known of Odin: Two Books

Today’s blog post I want to briefly discuss and share with you two books from my personal library that dive into the lesser know side and path of Odinn the Allfather of the Norse Gods and Goddesses. A lot look at Odinn as either this fierce warrior God or the cloaked wise old wanderer. Many tales of his light wisdom can be found in the words of the Hávamál and other works. What seems by most to be ignored or perhaps just not recognized is the “dark” or left-hand side of Odinn. This does not mean bad or evil but more of the other side of the path most cringe from. The more chaotic and primal side, which is where I am spiritually primarily. So when I came across these two books below I was absolutely fascinated by them both. They only gave me a deeper understanding of my nontraditional spiritual path specifically with how I have understood there was a side of Odinn I needed to dive deeper into. I have spoken on this for many years and that is the essential of balance in spirituality. If one only basks in the light they will be blind in the dark. To only remain in thee dark one will be blinded by the light. So learning this side of Odin and reading other’s perspectives regarding him is one I always highly recommend.

My personal copy of The Hanged God

The Hanged God:
Óðinn Grímnir
by Shanti Oates

Challenging former atrophied or outdated knowledge regarding Óðinn’s acquisition of the runes and the mead of poetry, this extensive and intense study revisits Hávamál, Vǫluspá, Skáldskaparmál, Grímnismál, Heimskringla and Ynglinga Sagas specifically, to unravel and reconnect crucial factors that collectively reveal a magical formula for rebirth and resurrection. These kennings have preserved the threads of mysteries pertaining to Rúnar entrenched in Taboo. Óðinn’s quest of discovery takes him through three historically attested trials as Rites of Passage that find parallel forms in other animistic traditions. His ordeals of Mound, Tree and Sacral Kingship together with an articulation of the role of Hamingja are hitherto connected. Continue reading HERE.

Get your copy at ANATHEMA PUBLISHING LTD.

My personal copy of GAP.

Gap: At the Left Hand of Odin by Askr Svarte

This Path is different from the standard, main-stream Right-Hand approach to Paganism because it does not recognize the positive evaluation of modern times and the modern reality surrounding us: its negative impact on the state of Norse traditions and its worldview is excessively large. This new Path does not accept the trunk of the teachings belonging to the Right-Hand Path, although without denying their expertise and contribution to the common cause. Thus, the Left-Hand Path attempts to open and question all that which until today has not been open to our tradition, that which is in the shade and is closer and deeper to the Iron Age we live in. This vision is based on known historical heritage and traditions, contemporary thinking and experiences, including some pretty interesting attempts to describe the Left-Hand Path in Oðinnism in the West since the mid-twentieth century.

Gap: At the Left Hand of Odin consists of three Mal (sayings, speeches from the Eddas):

• Sayings of the Gangraðr, on behalf of Oðinn Gangraðr – Advisor in the Path. In these speeches it is revealed the promise and the doctrine of the Abyss in Oðinnism, and we deal with questions of thinking and transgression.

• Sayings of the Vegtamr, on behalf of Oðinn Vegtamr – Accustomed to the Path. In these speeches instructions are given about the ritual practice in line with the spirit and the promise of teaching.

• Sayings of the Kvasir, in honor of the wisest of men. In these speeches one will find the texts that are not included in the main body, but that are one way or another connected with the Path, such as dreams and thoughts.

I purchased my copy published by Fall of Man and I believe is out of print which means you would have to find a second hand copy.

The history of occultism, magic and superstition behind the Left Hand Path. Arith Härger has a great Youtube channel.

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Mongolian Shamanism: An Introduction

Mongolia is a country I have been fascinated for a very long time and a place someday I hope to visit. Mongolia is so rich in history, culture and spirituality. Lesser known by most, which is unfortunate, is Mongolian Shamanism. This is a subject I touched on in my blog post regarding the Tengriism which is the native religion of Siberia, Mongolia and throughout the Asian Steppe. Even the great Genghis Khan (ca. 1162–1227) himself was a believer in Tengri and attributed his success and rise to power due to his devotion to Tengriism. So now I wish to dive into specifically what Mongolian Shamanism is all about, at least what is known because the unfortunate truth is with modern society taking a strong hold in Mongolia, the native religion is slowly disappearing. So I wish to at least do my part in sharing with you what I have gathered to help preserve this fascinating spiritual practice.

Mongolian Shamanism is an ancient ethnic religion, tradition and moreover, a way of life. It is a way to connect with nature and all of creation. As all ancient spiritual practices are rooted in nature, shamanism is the method by which we can strengthen that natural connection. It is also centered on the worship of the Tenger “Tengri” (Heaven, God of Heaven, God)

Shamanism is the universal spiritual wisdom inherent to all tribes and it is memory of tribes and nations, preserving the traditions throughout the centuries. Mongolian shamanism is an all-encompassing system of belief that includes medicine, religion, a reverence of nature, and ancestor worship.

It is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with spiritual world. A shaman is someone who is regarded as having access to the world of spirits and enters into a trance state during a ritual and connects with spirits of their ancestors. Shamans perform a variety of functions depending upon their respective cultures; healing, leading a sacrifice, preserving the tradition by storytelling and songs, fortune-telling, and acting as a psychopomp (literal meaning, “guide of souls”). A single Shaman may fulfill several of these functions. In this way the Shaman helps to maintain balance and harmony on both a personal and planetary level. SOURCE

Two books in my library regarding Mongolian Shamanism which I highly recommend. You can purchase a copy HERE and HERE.

Ovoos or aobaoes (in Mongolian “heap”) are large rock ceremonial altars in the shape of mounds that are traditionally used for worship in the indigenous religion of Mongols and related ethnic groups. Every ovoo is considered to be the representation of a god. There are ovoos dedicated to heavenly gods, mountain gods, other gods of nature, and also to gods of human lineages. In Inner Mongolia, the ovoos for worship of ancestral gods can be private shrines of an extended family or kin, otherwise they are common to villages (dedicated to the god of a village). Pilgrims passing by an ovoo traditionally circle it three times in clockwise direction while making prayers. They often make offerings by adding stones to the mound, or by hanging blue ceremonial silk scarves, called khadaq, symbolizing the Tengri mountain spirits. Some pilgrims also leave money, milk, incense sticks, or bottles of alcoholic beverages. SOURCE

Shamanic sacred mountain of Han Bogd Hairham (Mongolia)

Further Resources

Mysterious World of Shamanism in Mongolia

Mongolian Shamanism: What is a Shamanic Ceremony Like?

Brief introduction to Mongolian Shamanism.
In Mongolia, Chinbayar embarks on a journey of initiation across his homeland which is in great turmoil after major mining companies trying to exploit its vast mineral wealth. The young shaman wants to solve one dilemma: his father also digs the land in search of gold to support his family… But in Mongolia, the ground is home to the spirits, and one cannot disturb its peace with impunity. From the Gobi desert to Ulaanbaatar, Chinbayar hopes that his encounters with lamas and wise elders will give him the answers he is desperately looking for.
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Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic Folklore

It has been a while since I posted a book recommendation so here we go with this true literature gem. Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic Folklore, Mythology and Magic by Claude Lecouteux is a book filled with such great details and images it is one I refer to often as a great resource. Not only does this encyclopedia give brief yet detailed descriptions of every know God and Goddess of the Norse and Germanic pantheons but also of places, creatures and other things from the Böxenwolf, the Werewolves of Northern Germany, to the Goddess Sinthgunt, Goddess of the Cosmos and time, plus so much more. This brilliant book is one I highly recommend for the personal library of anyone who has interest in this subject.

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Ogham: The Mysterious Ancient Irish Script

As much as known by modern scholars, academics and others regarding the ancient Irish script called Ogham, much of it is still shrouded in mystery including a definitive origin. I have been fascinated and studied Ogham for years and still learn more regarding it the more I dig into books and websites I find. I eventually became confident enough with Ogham to not only make divination sets but to actually write in Ogham. So I felt a post about Ogham was definitely needed and I hope you enjoy this one.

Origin Theories

There are four popular theories discussing the origin of Ogham. The differing theories are unsurprising considering that the script has similarities to ciphers in Germanic runes, Latin, elder futhark and the Greek alphabet.

The first theory is based on the work of scholars such as Carney and MacNeill who suggest that Ogham was first created as a cryptic alphabet designed by the Irish. They assert that the Irish designed it in response to political, military and/or religious reasons so that those with knowledge of just Latin could not read it.

The second theory is held by McManus who argues that Ogham was invented by the first Christians in early Ireland in a quest for uniqueness. The argument maintains that the sounds of the primitive Irish language were too difficult to transcribe into Latin.

The third theory states that the Ogham script from invented in West Wales in the fourth century BCE to intertwine the Latin alphabet with the Irish language in response to the intermarriage between the Romans and the Romanized Britons. This would account for the fact that some of the Ogham inscriptions are bilingual; spelling out Irish and Brythonic-Latin.

The fourth theory is supported by MacAlister and used to be popular before other theories began to overtake it. It states that Ogham was invented in Cisalpine Gaul around 600 BCE by Gaulish Druids who created it as a hand signal and oral language. MacAliser suggests that it was transmitted orally until it was finally put into writing in early Christian Ireland. He argues that the lines incorporated into Ogham represent the hand by being based on four groups of five letters with a sequence of strokes from one to five. However, there is no evidence for MacAlisters theory that Ogham’s language and system originated in Gaul.

Mythical theories for the origin of Ogham also appear in texts from the eleventh to fifteenth centuries. The eleventh century Lebor Gabala Erenn tells that Ogham was invented soon after the fall of the tower of Babel, as does the fifteenth century Auraicept na n-eces text. The Book of Ballymote also includes ninty-two recorded secret modes of writing Ogham written in 1390-91 CE. Source

Ogham also is used for divination much like the use of the Elder Futhark Runes with of course their own unique meanings and purpose. This is a source I use and refer to quite often. Ogham Divination

The Ogham Alphabet

The Mysterious Ogham

The Ogham writing system

What is Ogham? A look at the ancient Irish alphabet

Ogham writing

Book Recommendations

Two books I have in my library I highly recommend are below with links to get yourself a copy.

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A History of the Vikings – Gwyn Jones

Time for another book recommendation from my personal library and this is a really good one. A History of the Vikings by the late Gwyn Jones (24 May 1907 – 6 December 1999). Jones was a Welsh novelist and story writer, and a scholar and translator of Nordic literature and history.

The subject of this book is the Viking realms, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, their civilization and culture, and their many sided achievements at home and abroad.
A highly readable narrative follows the development of these Northern peoples–the Nordmenn–from their origins and the legendary pre-history to the military triumphs of Canute and the defeat of Harald Hardrádi at Stamford Bridge in 1066, which symbolically ended the Viking age.
The book recounts the Vikings’ exploits in war, trade, and colonization: the assault on Western Christendom; the trading and military ventures to the Slav and Muslim worlds and to Byzantium; and the western voyages of discovery and settlement to Greenland, Iceland, and America.
Numerous photographs, maps, and drawings contribute to Gwyn Jones’s rounded portrait of Viking civilization and vividly evoke the importance in their culture of religion, art, and seafaring.

Here is a list of his other works. Books by Gwyn Jones

Get your copy here.

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Viking Age Iceland

Two subjects in my list of things I am fascinated with is the Viking Age and Iceland. So when you have both featured as a book I must tell you its an amazing thing to read. Viking Age Iceland by Jesse Byock goes into such amazing details of what life, society and more was like in Iceland during the Viking Age and the author has the credentials for writing on this topic as well. He is a Professor of Old Norse and Medieval Scandinavian Studies at the University of California(UCLA) and Professor at UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology as well as directs the Mosfell Archaeological Project in Iceland.

The Vikings in Iceland

A Viking Age Valley in Iceland

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Norse Magic: A Great Beginner’s Book

Norse Magic by D.J. Conway in my opinion is a great little book for not only beginners in practicing Norse magick but even for those who have been for years as a book of reference and review. It is one I keep in my library I refer to others quite often.

Norse Magic is an informative guide for both beginners and intermediates in the field of Norse magic. Even for those who simply have an interest in Norse culture, folklore as well as history and a book I highly recommend.

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Runes and Weland the Smith

These two little books by Ben Waggoner are two little gems I highly recommend for your library.

A Pocket Guide to Runes is a great little resource and guide regarding the Elder Futhark Runes regarding each one’s meaning and use.

Weland the Smith tells about Weland also known as Volundr, Wieland and Wayland. His name lives on as the name of the most masterful craftsman ever known. Captured and crippled, forced to make treasures for a cruel king, he plots not only how to regain his freedom, but how to take a terrible vengeance. His legend was told for centuries in England, Germany, and Scandinavia. Here you will find the major sources for Weland’s legend, translated from Old Norse and Old English.

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The Prose Edda

The Prose Edda is absolutely one of the most important books regarding Norse Paganism and the Gods and Goddesses of the Norse. Whenever someone new to the Norse faith comes to me and asks for reading material this is one I always recommend as I feel it is essential to have in your library of Norse religion studies. Some do seem to get overly and in my opinion ignorantly negative regarding The Prose Edda simply because of its author Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241) who was born in western Iceland and it can be seen that yes there is some perhaps christian influence in the Edda however he really did have a deep fascination with the old tales, folklore and stories of the Gods. So I feel it is important to read this book with an open mind but at the same time we should never consider it like a bible of the Norse religion because there are so many other books that expand upon where the Prose Edda began. So with that said I do encourage everyone to have this in their library not just as a foundation of Norse Paganism but it is an iconic book that has lasted the test of time.

Check out the great resources below

The Prose Edda Book

The Prose and Poetic Eddas, Völuspá

The Prose Edda on Sacred Texts