Asatru / Heathen Books
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I. Primary Source Material
A. The Eddas It is imperative for any
who are truly interested in Ásatrú and wish to learn
about the gods and goddesses to read the Eddas. The Elder Edda is
more important in my eyes, and is the most basic source for a Heathen
to read. These two sources should be the first and foremost in your
a. The Poetic (Elder) Edda,
sometimes referred to as the Edda Sæmundar
Hollander, Lee M. The Poetic Edda Austin, University of Texas
Press, 1994.------Hollander's translation is probably the
most available on the market, but I feel has sacrificed much of
the direct meaning of the poems for the sake of recreating a modern
English structure that is alike the Old Norse.
Larrington, Caroline. The Poetic Edda
Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1996.------ The
Larrington translation is fairly new, but it is also very available.
It takes a more direct approach to the translation, and though it
hasn't the poetics of Hollander, the literal translation provides
a clearer look at the Lore.
b. The Prose Edda by Snorri
Sturlusson often referred to as simply the Younger Edda
Young, Jean I. tr. The
Prose Edda: Tales from Norse Mythology Berkeley,
University of California Press, 1984.------This edition only
includes the Gylfaginning, and though that is where the stories
and information of most mythological significance are located, the
other sections of the Prose Edda are also very helpful in later
Faulkes, Anthony tr., Sturluson, Snorri.
Edda Vermont, Everyman
Press, 1995.--This is an excellent translation, available,
containing all of the sections of Snorri's Edda and it is very inexpensive.
B. Classical Writers
Mattingly, Harold tr. Tacitus.
The Agricola and the Germania New York, Penguin
Books, 1970.------ The Germania is the most important source
of this type. Tacitus, though he was never a first-hand observer,
describes some of the beliefs and customs of the early Germanic
tribes. It is written by someone who never had contact with the
tribes, so it must be taken with a grain of salt, but it is well
worth the read.
C. Sagas -- There are many sagas and some are
difficult expensive to obtain. If this is a problem, try looking
into your local university library, or visiting the
(On-line Medieval and Classical Library) in order to download
them in public domain versions.
Monsen, Erling tr. Snorre Sturlason. Heimskringla,
or The Lives of the Norse Kings New York, Dover
The most interesting sections from the heathen perspective
Ynglinga Saga: attributes the founding of nations to the
gods, who are portrayed as earthly kings whom the "ignorant" heathens
venerated as gods.
Hacon the Good: Raised in England, Hacon comes to Norway
a Christian, but his advisors guide him back to the heathen ways.
Hacon the Jarl: A great defender of Heathenry
Olaf Trygvason: aka Olaf the Traitor. Forced Christianity
onto the Norwegians. The heathens are defeated, but there are some
inspiring tales of fidelity to the old gods in the face of persecution
Also contains some intriguing descriptions of heathen customs
Olaf wanted to suppress.
St. Olaf: Another conversionist with horrible means and ends.
At least he is defeated in the Saga.
Further Sagas not in Heimskringla --
Eyrgyggja Saga: Includes
the most complete surviving description of a Norse hof, which is
maintained by a Thorsgoði (priest of Thor).
Hrafnkel's Saga: The
story of Hrafnkel, Freysgoði.
Njal's Saga: The greatest
saga of them all. Iceland's decision to convert to Christianity
is part of one of the major episodes.
Egil's Saga: Much is
to be learned from this poet, rune worker, and warrior.
The Saga of the
Volsungs: The Norse version of the Siegfried myth.
Translated by Jesse Byock; published by the University of California
D. Anglo-Saxon sources.
Of course, one should read Beowulf.
The Penguin translation is easy to find, but prosaic and lifeless;
a number of good, poetic translations are around. I still suggest
picking up a copy of the Everyman Library's Anglo-Saxon Poetry.
Though it is in prose translation, it contains a comprehensive collection
of Anglo-Saxon source material including "The Battle of Maldon"
and "The Seafarer" which are interesting to Heathen readers.
II. Archaeological and historical works Modern
A. The Vikings and Norse Mythology
H.R. Ellis Davidson, Gods
and Myths of the Viking Age; Bell Publishing: New York;.
--Has also been published under the title Gods and Myths
of Northern Europe. The best readily available book on modern academic
views of Norse religion.
P.G. Foote and D.M. Wilson, The
Viking Achievement; Sidgwick And Jackson: London;. --
Focuses on the whole of Viking culture (not just the raids and mayhem).
Gwyn Jones, A History
of the Vikings; Oxford Univsersity Press: Oxford; . --Focuses
on the historical changes that occurred during the Viking period.
Manages to be readable and scholarly, exhaustive and entertaining,
all at once. A fine book.
R.I. Page, Norse
Myths; University of Texas Press: Austin;. --Short
but useful introduction to Norse mythology. Page doesn't seem to
like the Vikings much, yet he is fascinated by them.
B. The Anglo-Saxons.
Gale R. Owen, Rites
and Religions of the Anglo-Saxons; Dorset Press;. --A
good source of information about Anglo-Saxon heathenry.
David Wilson, The
Anglo-Saxons; Pelican Books;. --A basic introduction
to Anglo-Saxon culture.
Ralph W.V. Elliot, Runes:
An Introduction; St. Martin's Press: NewYork; --A
nice introduction to runic history and inscriptions.
R.I. Page, Reading
the Past: Runes; British Museum Press: London; -- A
scholarly work, shorter and more skeptical than Elliot's.
III. Modern heathen writings.
Gundarsson, Kveldulf. Teutonic
Religion: Folk Beliefs & Practices of the Northern Tradition.
St, Paul, MN, Llewellyn Publications, Inc;.
Children's Books: [click on purple cube to
order directly from Amazon.com]
Ruthless: The Saga Of The Last Viking Warrior; Andrea
Hopkins, illustrations by Leo Duranona; hardcover
Illustrated World History: The Viking World; softcover
You Survive As A Viking?; softcover
Great reading for ages 12 and up is: a series of books called the
Tales of Alvin Maker by Orson Scott Card. This series
is not specifically about Asatru, but focuses on earth based religions
in America and American Folk Magic. These books show what life might
have been like if America was still steeped in the occult, magick
and a thriving Folk Religion. You will not want to put them down.
We based an entire home-schooling unit on them, and we adults loved
it as much as the kids.
Book One: Seventh
Book Two: Red
Book Three: Prentice
Book Four: Alvin
Book Five: Heartfire
Book Six: Crystal
Other Esoteric Books