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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

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The Völsunga Saga

Certainly one of the if not the most important and famous of all the Norse Sagas is indeed the Völsunga Saga (Volsunga Saga or Volsungasaga). This is a saga that I feel everyone who is spiritually invested or are devoted to the beliefs of Norse Paganism should have included in their library. The tales in it are extremely fascinating, well written and truly paint visual image of such Gods as Odin and Loki as well as the deeds of man such as Sigurd the dragon Slayer. This saga is comprised of 44 stories and each just as good as the next.

Based on Viking Age poems and composed in thirteenth-century Iceland, The Saga of the Volsungs combines mythology, legend, and sheer human drama in telling of the heroic deeds of Sigurd the dragon slayer, who acquires runic knowledge from one of Odin’s Valkyries. Yet the saga is set in a very human world, incorporating oral memories of the fourth and fifth centuries, when Attila the Hun and other warriors fought on the northern frontiers of the Roman empire. Get your copy here

My personal copy of the Völsunga Saga

Further resources

http://www.voluspa.org/volsungsaga.htm

https://sites.pitt.edu/~dash/volsungsaga.html

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Icelandic Runes, A Brief History

Icelandic Runes, A Brief History

by Teresa Dröfn Freysdóttir Njarðvík

This is by far my favorite little book about Runes out of all I have in my library. I learned about this little lesser known treasure a couple of years ago during a conversation I was having with a dear Völva friend of mine and mentor who lives in Iceland. Turns out a friend of hers is the Author of this little gem. The book is exactly as the title describes. It starts with an introduction to the Elder Futhark and then carries on with other variations of the Runes including the unique Icelandic Runes. Then proceeds into their use, history and the use of Runes in more modern times. It is a book I highly recommend for your library.

To order your copy unless you can read Icelandic you will need to translate the webpage as there is only one source in Iceland to order a copy from.

https://www.penninn.is/is/book/icelandic-runes-brief-history

Article regarding the book from Icelandic Times

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Galdrakver, Book of Magic

This little two volume book set is really a little gem for anyone’s library regarding Norse Magick and Galdrastafurs. I use it on occasion as a reference and for my own practice of Galdur and Seiðr. The great thing about these two books is that Volume 1 is a copy of the original manuscript (Lbs. 143,8vo) and Volume two is the translation in both Icelandic, English, German and Danish. It comes in a nice slip cover box as well. I highly recommend this one for your library.

You can get a copy at https://shop.galdrasyning.is/products/galdrakver-book-of-magic-lbs-143-8vo