Title: Pantheon — The Norse
Publisher: Moon Books
Author: Morgan Daimler
Pages: 152 pp
Price: $13.95 / $6.49
Pantheon — The Norse is a comprehensive introduction to Norse mythology, history, and Gods. The author, Morgan Daimler, provides a thoughtful exploration of Norse practice (ancient and present-day) deftly balancing academic sources and personal practice. They note: “historic Heathenry was never a homogenous set of beliefs and practices, and that remains true today.”
The first seven chapters of the book cover the practice of Norse Heathenry, while the last two cover specific Gods and allies (Odin, Freya, the Valkyrie, land wights, and others). There is an extensive glossary, recommended reading list, and bibliography. The pan-Germanic lore of Norse, Anglo-Saxon, and German cultural sources are referenced throughout.
Norse belief envisioned nine worlds connected through the world tree Yggdrasil. These nine worlds included Midgard of the humans, Asgard of the Aesir gods, Vanaheim of the Vanir deities, Alfheim (elf home), Svartalvheim (black elf home), land of the dwarves, and Jotunheim, land of the primordial Jotuns. The gods had different “halls” to welcome the dead, though the dead could also be reborn within the family line. The author suggests: “Live a good honorable life while you are here and worry about the afterlife when you get there.”
The author notes that there are no universally agreed upon sets of holy days or ritual practices; however they do supply the most common holidays, including Yule. Traditionally, Yule was a 13-night, 12-day festival. It began on the eve of winter solstice continuing through New Year’s.
Rituals typically involve a drinking horn filled with mead (used to make toasts) and a ritual bowl to collect the offerings (mead or other gifts). The author notes that offerings to the gods “should have value, both intrinsically and to you … so that it is a real sacrifice.” She gives the example of burning the only copy of a poem. A symbolic representation of Thor’s Hammer may be used to hallow the space (cast the circle).
Gods and humans alike are subject to wyrd, a flexible destiny that is shaped as we live it. Norse values to guide right living included: Hospitality (being both a good host and a good guest), Responsibility (keeping oaths, owning our mistakes), Courage (facing life bravely), and the core practice of Reciprocity: “The gods give to us and we give to them.”
Magic took different forms. Siedhr might include “weather working, talking to spirits, manipulation of people’s minds ….” Runes were used both for divination and magic, though the meanings attributed to specific Runes are open to interpretation. Healing and cursing were other forms of Norse magic, and the author gives fascinating examples of the nidstag, “scorn post,” used to curse a specific person.
I was impressed by the breadth and richness of the text. Most compelling was the author’s nuanced discussion of racism and ancestry. Scandinavian or Germanic ancestry isn’t a free pass: “What makes you a Norse pagan isn’t who your great-grandmother was but how much you work to understand the culture and its Gods and spirits.” She also touches on the unfortunate conflation of Norse symbols with neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
The author, Morgan Daimler, teaches and writes about Irish myth and magical practices, fairies, and related subjects. She is also the author of Moon Books bestsellers Fairy Witchcraft, Pagan Portals: The Morrigan, Pagan Portals: Brigid, and Fairies: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folk.
[Reviewed by Lyri Ahnam]