The Raven Kindred recommends the following books for people interested in the Norse religion. We suggest that people interested in taking up our faith begin by first purchasing a book on the basic myths and one on practice, and branching out from there as your interests lead you. The books on this list can be ordered through most mainstream bookstores, online bookstores, or from the addresses provided.
The links to Amazon are provided strictly as a convenience, books on the Amazon web site typically have reviews, and even previews of the book which are useful for someone deciding a book. Raven Kindred has no affiliate program with Amazon.
by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Hardcover, Pantheon Books, ISBN [0 394 500482], $17.00
Softcover, Pantheon Books, ISBN [0 394 74846 8], $15.00
The Norse Myths is the finest modern English retelling of the myth cycles of the Eddas. It is the Raven Kindred's recommended first book on the mythology. Written in clear modern English, the tales are richly told and the language evocative enough that we use it as a resource for ritual meditations. Despite being in modern English, the tales are very reliable and not at all Christianized or bowlderized for the modern audience. The book includes a bibliography and informative notes. Many sections are ideal to use as readings at blots or similiar occasions.
The Poetic Edda
There are two distinctive translations of the Poetic Edda available.The Poetic or Elder Edda forms the basic recorded mythological cycle of the ancient Norse. Most Asatruar accept the Poetic Edda as the definitive version of the myths. For practicing heathens, the Edda is an indespensible work.
The first translation is by Lee Milton Hollander (ISBN: 0292764995, University of Texas Press), this translation seeks to preserve the alliterative poetic style of the original material. The main criticism is that clarity and exact meaning are sacrificed for style and it is not easy to read.
The second translation is by Carolyne Larrington (ISBN: 0192839462, Oxford University Press). This is a very literal translation; clear, easy for a modern reader to understand, and is considered to be more accurate, but not conveying the sense of the original poetry. It would be worthwhile to acquire both editions, and compare them directly.
The Prose Edda.
Jean Young translation University of California Press, ISBN [0 520 01232 1]
Anthony Faulkes translation. Everyman's Classic Library ISBN [0 460 87185 4]
The Prose or Younger Edda consists of a number of myths collected in a frame story by Snorri Sturluson. Unfortunately, Sturluson made several changes to the stories, including euhemerizing the Gods and mixing in Christian elements. Thus, the Prose Edda is seen as somewhat less reliable than the Poetic Edda. However, several different versions of the basic myths are offered here as well as a few that do not appear in the Poetic Edda. Compact but dry reading. The Anthony Faulkes version is more complete than the Jean Young version.
and Myths of Northern Europe by H.R. Ellis Davidson
Penguin Books, ISBN [0 14 013627 4]
For the most part, any book by H.R.E. Davidson is highly recommended. This particular work offers brief versions of the myth, but is primarily historical and anthopological commentary on their meaning and place in ancient Norse culture and religion. Very accessible and very highly recommended.
Unfortunately, the most recommended books for the modern practioner are currently out of print. However, there are a couple of sites that host currently OOP books that deal with modern practice.
Our Troth by The Ring of Troth & Other True Folk
OT is a huge tome covering mythology, anthropology, philosophy, ethics, ritual, and belief of Heathenism. The book is actually a collection of various essays written by dozens of people, compiled and worked into a coherent whole by Kveldulf Gundarsson. Highly recommended and currently out of print. Available online.
Ravenbok by Lewis Stead & The Raven Kindred
Introduction to Asatru covering basic ritual theory and beliefs. Gives bare bones information and expects readers to flesh out their own rituals and read other sources. Available online.
The Sagas are various stories, usually of specific families, in the ancient Germanic world. They are not necessarily religious, but offer a slice of life of the ancient world which often includes important religious observations. The most popular include the Volsung Saga which became the source for Wagner's Ring cycle; Egill's Saga, which tells the tale of an Icelandic poet and Priest of Odin; The Vinland Sagas chronicling the Viking expeditions to America; The Saga of the Jomsvikings chronicling a warrior band, and Njall's Saga, which offers an excellent view of the Icelandic Thing. Penguin publishes virtually all the major Sagas and a selection can usually be found at an academic or full service bookstore in the medieval or ancient literature section.
Futhark by Edred Thorsson
Weiser, ISBN [87728 548 9], $8.95
Futhark is the classic modern work on rune magic. It offers a rundown of the Elder Futhark and information on runic workings, concentrating on active forms of magic.
Teutonic Magic by Kveldulfr Gundarsson
Llewellyn, ISBN [0 87542 291 8], $12.95
An excellent treatment of Norse magic in general, and the runes in particular. A good general work including some excellent runic meditations. There is also some information on other forms of Norse magic such as seidhr.
Runelore by Edred Thorsson
Weiser, ISBN [0 87728 667 1], $10.95
A classic treatment of the esoteric meanings of the runes. Concentrates on the greater meaning of the runes as symbols of the Norse cosmology rather than on magic.
The following books are out of print, but should you come across them, they are highly recommended:
The Road to Hel by H.R. Ellis Davidson
(exploration of death and afterlife)
The Runes by Ralph Elliot
(scholarly work on the runes)
The Well and the Tree by Paul Bauschatz
(Wyrd, fate, and time)
Myth and Religion of the North by E.O.G. Turville-Petre
(Offering commentary on the myths, major legends, Sagas, and ancient religious practices.)
Teutonic Religion by Kveldulf Gundarsson
(Includes basic information, a yearly cycle of rituals, descriptions of Gods, and assorted lore on subjects as diverse as ancient Germanic forms of poetry and its application in modern Asatru.)
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