DP Program: New I-E Studies Book Review (II)

I know I had read “In Search of the Indo-Europeans” in the past for this, but I have bought recently “Comparative Mythology” by Jaan Puhvel, and I think that I’m going to make my review about this one instead of the previous one. It seems a more interesting reading from my point of view, and I love Comparative Mythology as a subject (and History of Religions) when I was at college. So I’m going to give it a try.

This book has a very interesting structure, where you can find at the beginning a little study about the study of Mythology, a presentation of what really means “Indo-European” and other related stuff. Then, the central part of the book, takes almost the most reknowable Indo-European cultures to take a look at their mythical traditions; and the last part shows us some recurrent themes on the Indo-European mythology (like the roles of the King, the Fire, the Water, and some others).

So, I think that even when “In Search of the Indo-Europeans” gave me at the time a good look at the Archaelogy, Lingüisticts and History of the Indo-Europeans, this book has an in-depth look to Religious and Mythological issues that the other one lacks.

Posted in ADF, Book review, Comparative Mythology, Dedicant Program, Jaan Puhvel, Mythology, Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DP Program: Hearth Culture Book Review. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, by Hilda Davidson.

Well, this is the final review that I write for the Hearth Culture Book Review. It’s about the book “Gods and Myths of Northern Europe”, by Hilda Davidson.

“Gods and Myths of Northern Europe” tries to explain the richness of the myths from Northern Europe. It tries to show us how their gods and goddesses, the Norsemen, and the Germanic people before them, were related. I don’t share all of her conclusions, but I think that this book is an interesting and valuable read to everyone interested in learning about this wonderful world and their people. I think that the best way to learn about the ones that were living in that times is to know their myths and their relationship to their gods and goddesses. Reading this could help you understand how they saw their world and their lives, and the most important thing, how they really live back then.

In the Introduction of the book, Hilda Davidson talks us about the people that wrote those myths, the sources that we have now to study them and the help that disciplines, like Archaelogy, bring us in this this study. I think that the way in wich she starts the book is a good one. She stablishes the starter point in the people, to know a little bit about them before we star to take a deeper look in what they believe.

In the first chapter, called “The World of the Northern Gods”, she writes about the Eddas, Snorri’s Prose Edda in particular, and then makes a brief exposition of other myths outside these ones. This is a little overview about what Snorri said about the gods, but it’s interesting to have all of these myths in the book, so you can take a look to what they say before you study in depth their actors.

Chapter 2 is entitled “The Gods of Battle” and it makes a depiction of Odin/Wodan and Tyr/Tiwaz as Gods of the Battle and War. We also have a description of the Valkyries and the Berserkrs; the Handmaidens of Odin, the Chosers of the Slain, and the full of rage warriors of whom they said that could change their human forms to animal ones on battle to that of bears or wolves. We could see the blood-thirsty images of the earlier forms of both gods in the way that they were worshiped by the Germanic people as Tacitus or Procopius showed them in their works, when Tiwaz was prominent over Wodan. And then we see the later forms as were worshiped by the Norsemen, when Odin took the place of Tyr as the head of the Pantheon. Odin is presented as a god in whom you cannot trust, and Tyr as a minor law and order figure, even when both seem to share a similar position as gods of war and battle.

The third chapter is called “The God of Thunder”, and there we find Donar/Thor. There are an account of Thor’s presence in the myth and how he is depicted in them. Then we take a look at his temples and his principal symbol, the Hammer. We can see him in a comparisson with Hercules first and Jupiter then, as a Sky God. And at last, we can see a little about his adversaries: the Serpent of the World, Iormundgandr, and the Frost Giants and Giantesses.

As Odin and Tyr are presented as the gods of the warriors and the nobles, Thor is see as the god of the farmers and commoners. He is a god of physical strenght, but also a god of thunder and rain, the son of Earth, the husband of the Grain, and heavily related with the fertility of the fields.

Snorri and other Christian skalds could made him a funny figure, but H.R.E. Davidson has to be right about the heavy importance that Thor would had for the ancients, as he was a god of the hallow places and his Hammer was used to hallow marriages, and a lot of boys and girls alike were named after him.

In the next chapter, “The Gods of Peace and Plenty”, we could found a handful of gods and goddesses of the land, fertility, peace and abundance, and everything else related to these concepts like marriage, childbirth, the protection of the hearth and home, … The majority of these deities are part of the group of fertility gods know as the Vanir, but we could found other deities with similar functions, like Frigg, Balder or the Matres (also known as Idises/Dísir).

As I, myself, am a follower of the Vanir gods and a practitioner of some kind of shamanic witchcraft similar to what we could call seidhr, this chapter was really delightfull for me. I found a lot of my own experiencies, practices and UPG mirrored in these pages, even when I still don’t share everything that the author says.

The next chapter was about “The Gods of the Sea”, the Jotnar like Aegir and Ran, and the Vanir like Njörd, all linked with different aspects of the ocean and sailing, or the boats. This chapter is clearly related to the previous one, being the sea and the ships so closely linked to the Vanir and their cult. We could see a good examination of the ships, their link to fertility, the sea, the Otherworlds and the burial mound, all very close to the Vanir deities. And it has some interesting stuff about the sea giants and the fierce and wild waves: their daughters, the Nine Waves are the mothers of Heimdallr and we could find them in Celtic lore too, so here we have a link between these two people, Celts and Germanics, so closely related.

“The Gods of the Dead” is a very interesting chapter about the different deities related in different ways to the dead and their world. Here we find Odin/Wodan again as the shaman god that travels to the Otherworlds, lead the dead to their place there, or enter shamanic trances to talk about the future of the living. The conection between Odin, Sleipnir and the World Tree with other similar entities in different places of Eurasia gives us a good overview about all of these issues.

We have then the links of the Vanir with the burial mound and their habitants, and the elves. And the difference between the Aesic tradition of living in the Otherworld, and the Vanic of rebirth in this world. Then we see Thor as a god related to the dead too. There are hammers in the tombs that show, at least, his link with protection at death. And we have some stories that relate Thor with an afterlife in hills or mountains, where some important family members could receive you.

And finally, Ms Davidson takes the figure of the Dragon and shows its relation with the dead and the burial mound, the gold and the fire, even when we don’t have clear how these associations were made.

The next chapter is called “The Enigmatic Gods”, and in this one Ms Davidson takes some of the “minor” gods and goddesses to bring some light upon them. She makes a brief account about what is said in the myths and what physical evidences (like names of places, offerings and other stuff) we have to know Bragi, his wife Idunn, Mimir, Hoenir, The Twin Gods called The Alcis, Forseti, Heimdallr, Loki and Balder and his wife Nanna. For some of them, we have very little evidence but the name and some kind of attributions; some of them seem some kind of borrow from neighbour people, or some posterior invention. By the way, the author tells us that any of those theories can’t be completely proved in any way.

In the eight chapter, “The Beginning and the End”, we find a presentation of the myths related with the creation and the destruction of the worlds, and a little study about the World Tree and its importance in the myths. Hilda Davidson tells us about different traditions realted with a World Tree in other European and Asiatic places, all of them really similar, showing the vast recognition of a tree as the center of the universe.

At the conclusion of the book, the writer takes the principal characteristics of the gods and goddesses to speak about how the ancient people saw their lives and values; and how, in the end, they turned to Christianity; some of them were even forced to do it, some were executed because they didn’t want to, but in a way or another, at the end, the North became Christian.

The book is a great help and resume of the multiple myths, tales and archaelogical evidences at the time it was written. But it has some points in where I strongly disagree with Hilda Davidson’s point of view; some of her visions of the gods and myths are totally opposed to mine, or the reasons that she gives to why the ancients accepted Christianity. Nevertheless, it is a good reading and one of the basics to a better understanding of the Norse-Germanic religion.

Posted in ADF, Book review, Dedicant Program, Goddesses, Gods, Gods/Goddesses, Mythology, Norse | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking again the work on the Dedicant Program.

Well, just a quick note, because it has been a long time since my last post, but I had a lot of personal and health issues to deal with (I’m still on it), and I leave my DP studies in a second place; I honestly coudn’t handle everything. But I hope that this time can be different and that I’ll finish this work once and for all.

Now I’m gonna take some help from a mentor, so I hope that I could put order in all the wonderful things that I learned and that I always have in my head, and make a good work with all of them.

Wish me luck!

Posted in ADF, Dedicant Program, Personal | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Wolf and the Bear: a tale of Spirits for children.

The Wolf and the Bear never were friends. They lived by the river, in the side of the mountain, surrounded by the forest. They had the same water, shelters and foods, but they never were friends, and they tried to avoid each other every time they could.

One day, the Bear was wandering in the middle of the trees, and he found an abandoned dead deer. It was half eaten, but all alone lying there in the middle of the woods. The Bear thought: “Well, it’s here… abandoned… I don’t think that it could hurt anyone if I eat a little bit. The Winter is coming, and I’m going to sleep a lot. I need to eat all that I could.”

So the Bear went to the deer and started to eat. When he was in the middle of his unespected meal, he hear a growl on his back. The took a look, and saw the Wolf, all the hair up, all the teeth out, looking and growling at him. “Why are you eating my deer?”, the Wolf asked.

“The deer was alone in the middle of the woods. I didn’t know that it was yours.”, the Bear aswered.

“Well, you know now. Leave my deer, I’m not afraid of you.”, the Wolf growled again, walking towards the Bear, all the hair up and all the teeth out. He put the tongue between the teeth and looked the Bear like he was his next target. “Fight! I’m not afraid of you! Even if your big and strong.”, the Wolf grasped.

The Bear looked at the dead deer, and then looked at the Wolf. “Nor you nor I need to fight. Take the deer, it’s all yours.” And he left the deer and the Wolf there in the middle of the trees. He walked away, slowly, to the river, where he could find juicy fishes to full his belly for the Winter.

Posted in Beliefs, Kindred, Musings and other things, Personal, Spirits of Nature | Leave a comment

[DP] Virtues: Wisdom

Wisdom (DP Handbook definition): Good judgement, the ability to percieve people and situations correctly, deliberate about and decide on the correct response.

Wisdom (Collins Concise Dictionary): 1. the ability or result of an ability to think and act utilizing knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. 2. accumulated knowledge, erudition, or enlightenment. 3. (Archaic) a wise saying or wise sayings or teachings.

Wisdom, like weaving in the threads of knowledge…

Wisdom, waves that come and go, now and away…

Wisdom, when the bear chooses not to fight the wolf…

Wisdom, and the salmon eating hazelnuts in the pond…

Wisdom here and now and always.

The Grey Wanderer Man with the Beard,

The King in the Throne that was and will be,

The Teacher that waits and help you see…

I always wonder, what is Wisdom?

And my answers go away…

The word is playing with me,

The meaning is hiding from me.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever going to be wise enough…

Sometimes I wonder if Wisdom is running away…

And other times, I simply wait… I wait and see…

What’s around me, and what I learn about it.

I don’t know what is Wisdom or I try to not know?

Wisdom is when you don’t doubt the answer,

Wisdom is when you know.

Posted in ADF, Dedicant Program, Virtues | 2 Comments

DP Program: I-E Studies Book Review

Well, I’m currently reading “In Search of the Indo-Europeans” by J.P. Mallory for the I-E Studies Book Review, and I have to say that I’m enjoying it more than I expected. It’s a College-level book, a little harsh at times, but very informative and interesting.

I’m in the second chapter, where the author writes about the different Indo-European peoples that lived in Asia and Near Asia. He uses Linguistics and Archaeology to place the Indo-Aryans, Persians, Tocharians, steppe peoples and another bunch of alleged Indo-Europeans on the map. The problem here seems to be that the archaeological remains could not fit with the linguistic remains, so it’s more a work of speculation more than anything else…

Even with this in mind, I find really interesting all the linguistic comparations between different ancient I-E languages and the modern ones. I love really much all this kind of stuff, but the pottery and ware part is harsh, I never really liked it even when I was in the University doing my degree (I studied Prehistory, Ancient History and Archaelogy); I remember that I hate specially the practices joining little pottery pieces like a puzzle, even if the final result could be nice and worthy of a good study…

I hope that the next chapters could be as interesting as the previous two. I’m gonna cross my fingers…

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30 Days of Druidry

I watch this meme in some blogs that I read, so I want to give it a try. I doubt that I could make it in 30 following days, so I’m going to leave this post here and I promise that I’ll write every Saturday an entry.

The original idea was by Alison Leigh Lily, so I give her proper credit for this, and it’s based on another old meme called 30 Days of Paganism. The schedule is as follow:

30 Days of Druidry

  1. Why Druidry?
  2. Foundations: Cosmology
  3. Foundations: Nature and Earth
  4. Foundations: The Three Realms
  5. Foundations: The Elements
  6. Foundations: Altar, Grove and Nemeton
  7. Foundations: Day-to-Day Practice
  8. Relationships: Gods/Deities and Spirit
  9. Relationships: The Ancestors
  10. Relationships: Spirits of the Land
  11. Relationships: Ritual and Worship
  12. Relationships: The Fire Festivals
  13. Relationships: The Solar Festivals
  14. Relationships: Rites of Passage
  15. Inspirations: Awen and Creativity
  16. Inspirations: Prayer and Meditation
  17. Inspirations: Storytelling and Myth
  18. Inspirations: Music, Poetry and Aesthetics
  19. Inspirations: Ethics, Virtues and Values
  20. Inspirations: Divination and Magic
  21. Inspirations: Mysticism and Philosophy
  22. Everyday Life: Druidry and Family Life
  23. Everyday Life: Druidry and Romance
  24. Everyday Life: Druidry and Work/Career
  25. Everyday Life: Conservation and Environmentalism
  26. Everyday Life: Druidry and Community
  27. Everyday Life: Peace and Social Justice
  28. Everyday Life: A Life in the Day of a Druid
  29. The Future of Druidry
  30. Advice to the Seeker
Posted in 30 Days of Druidry, Druidism, Druidry | 2 Comments