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Thread: Books for begginers

  1. #11
    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: Books for begginers

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahvoo View Post
    If you are after Anglo-Saxon books for beginners I highly recommend Travels Through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan by Alaric Albertsson. If you want more of a Theodist/Recon viewpoint, Path to the Gods: Anglo-Saxon Paganism for Beginners by Swain Wodening is great.
    I have some Swain Wodening books on my wishlist, not because I'm interested in the Anglo Saxon side but because I'd like to round out my Heathen-spectrum texts. The one that seems most highly recommended is 'Hammer of the Gods', but I get the feeling that's not a base level intro book.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Maythe View Post
    I have to admit to being sceptical of any 101 book written for heathens as I find them long on woo and short on fact...
    I absolutely agree. But personally I think that this is actually what makes them a good place to start. The academia is really important, and once you have been well hooked you can put away all the 101 books and never look at them again because the academia and primary sources are what will help you better understand the path. But if we're being realistic, how many of us picked up an academic text FIRST, or were first drawn to a Heathen or NT path via an academic text? Not that many. I think the 101 books are usually better at firing up your passion for the path... which makes them a good starting place.

    Of course, if you lack discernment or depth, then taking 101 books at face value can be detrimental to your path. But then, if you lack discernment and depth, you're unlikely to get far going straight into academia and primary sources, aren't you?

  2. #12
    Sr. Member Maythe's Avatar
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    Re: Books for begginers

    But if we're being realistic, how many of us picked up an academic text FIRST, or were first drawn to a Heathen or NT path via an academic text? Not that many.
    You have some very good points and I think they point to a problem I've long pondered in Heathenry (and maybe the other historically based Paganisms too?) that the 'lore' and academic texts are difficult for a lot of people, and impossible for some, and these aren't people who should necessarily be excluded from Heathenry - after all our ancestors weren't all 'academic' either. The problem with the 101 texts remains though and surely leads to a whole lot of unlearning needing doing, and in some cases never happening but I don't know how we fix that in a situation where most people make their first steps alone, or only with online friends.

    In ancient days no doubt it worked mostly through storytelling, and in some cases it can still work that way. My kindred and other local friends back in Essex had some lively storytelling events; they work to inform people of the myths, get them interested and they act as social glue too. There were almost always stories told at our blots and we had a few attendees who really didn't know very much at all and so they went away with a better understanding than they came with. I guess I'm arguing for more social connection (frith building ftw) instead of book knowledge for both newbies and those who are always going to open a copy of Beowulf and back away slowly. Unfortunately the loneliness of many modern Heathens is a problem there (myself included, having moved away from my kindred, stupid woman). As a grouchy, introverted misanthrope it can be easy to go 'bah! I don't need people' but sumble just isn't the same (is it even sumble alone?) without others there.

    Huh this got a bit off track.
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  3. #13
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    Re: Books for begginers

    Although not a heathen, I do have some material (my book hoard has something on everything from medieval Cambodian armies to how to drive a steam engine...) - Kevin Crossley Holland, Hilda Ellis Davidson, and Patricia Lafayllve. Patricia's Practical heathen's guide to Asatru I find very impressive. She avoids Wiccanisms and fluff, tries to be objective, and is often amusing. Her advice on planning rituals is very good.

    The linguist in me does wish she had more linguistic sensitivity, though: she pronounces Norse as if it were Icelandic (more complicated), mixes her languages (Sunna instead of Sól), and sometimes miss-spells (ettin has two Ts)! There - I feel better now!

    I like re-tellings like Crossley Holland, because they've not only more reader-friendly than straight translations of medieval texts, but they're the way people used to learn the myths from their parents. I remember meeting the Greek Gods as a child with Tanglewood tales, though I can't remember where I first read of Thor's trip to Utgard at the same age.

  4. #14
    Copper Member Thorbjorn's Avatar
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    Re: Books for begginers

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidMcCann View Post
    The linguist in me does wish she had more linguistic sensitivity, though: she pronounces Norse as if it were Icelandic (more complicated), mixes her languages (Sunna instead of Sól), and sometimes miss-spells (ettin has two Ts)! There - I feel better now!
    She's not the only one. Since no one ever heard Old Norse, the closest approximation is Icelandic, using regular sound changes. Even then it's a crapshoot. According to one guide, Týr is supposed to be Tyeer; vé should be vyey; the au in draupnir should be ooie (like Louie). Others say Teer, vey, drowp (like house). There's no consistency. Btw, Sunna and Sól are different. Sunna is the Goddess, Sól is the sun herself.
    śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ


  5. #15
    Silver Member Tylluan Penry's Avatar
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    Re: Books for begginers

    You could also look at "The Magical World of the Anglo-Saxons" - which is one of my books and available on Kindle (which is probably the cheapest way to buy although if you want the paperback just pm me). This deals almost exclusively with the heathen Anglo-Saxons and what we can discover about their beliefs and practices. I've referenced it properly so you can then do further research yourself.
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  6. #16
    Dragon Lady Yorin's Avatar
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    Re: Books for begginers

    But if we're being realistic, how many of us picked up an academic text FIRST, or were first drawn to a Heathen or NT path via an academic text? Not that many.
    >.> I did. Sorry if that sounds like a bad thing...not really taking it as a personal attack so don't worry, but it actually is where I started. It was recommended for me because of it being the actual texts finally written and not just other people breaking them down, which is sometimes what certain people need and goes to the point that was made about "pagan 101 books" being really, REALLY bad sometimes.
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  7. #17
    Silver Member Tylluan Penry's Avatar
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    Re: Books for begginers

    Quote Originally Posted by Yorin View Post
    >.> I did. Sorry if that sounds like a bad thing...not really taking it as a personal attack so don't worry, but it actually is where I started. It was recommended for me because of it being the actual texts finally written and not just other people breaking them down, which is sometimes what certain people need and goes to the point that was made about "pagan 101 books" being really, REALLY bad sometimes.
    Me too. And there is something else I would add - that so much of what you will read will be in translation. Even if you don't feel like learning an ancient language (I learned Anglo-Saxon - takes time but well worth it), I would strongly recommend you at least read several different translations and compare them.
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  8. #18
    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: Books for begginers

    Quote Originally Posted by Maythe View Post
    You have some very good points and I think they point to a problem I've long pondered in Heathenry (and maybe the other historically based Paganisms too?) that the 'lore' and academic texts are difficult for a lot of people, and impossible for some, and these aren't people who should necessarily be excluded from Heathenry - after all our ancestors weren't all 'academic' either. The problem with the 101 texts remains though and surely leads to a whole lot of unlearning needing doing, and in some cases never happening but I don't know how we fix that in a situation where most people make their first steps alone, or only with online friends.

    In ancient days no doubt it worked mostly through storytelling, and in some cases it can still work that way. My kindred and other local friends back in Essex had some lively storytelling events; they work to inform people of the myths, get them interested and they act as social glue too. There were almost always stories told at our blots and we had a few attendees who really didn't know very much at all and so they went away with a better understanding than they came with. I guess I'm arguing for more social connection (frith building ftw) instead of book knowledge for both newbies and those who are always going to open a copy of Beowulf and back away slowly. Unfortunately the loneliness of many modern Heathens is a problem there (myself included, having moved away from my kindred, stupid woman). As a grouchy, introverted misanthrope it can be easy to go 'bah! I don't need people' but sumble just isn't the same (is it even sumble alone?) without others there.

    Huh this got a bit off track.
    Kindreds have their own biases, preferences and interpretations... oral information is not inherently any more accurate than written information... it's just the opinions of the group rather than a single individual.

    My philosophy is this... if you read just one author or listen to just one person/group, then you only have that one opinion to inform you. But if you expose yourself to say, five authors then you can compare and contrast the opinions and are then better equipped to form your own. That's why I never recommend just one book... because there is no single one book which I believe is the best 101 beginners book. But if you read five, then you can see where all five are singing the same song, and where they are different.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Tylluan Penry View Post
    And there is something else I would add - that so much of what you will read will be in translation. Even if you don't feel like learning an ancient language (I learned Anglo-Saxon - takes time but well worth it), I would strongly recommend you at least read several different translations and compare them.
    This brings me to a point about the Poetic Edda... the English translations are all slightly different, some fairly drastically so. So which one should a beginner go for? Well that's a whole other debate, isn't it? lol. Learning the original languages and reading the original manuscripts can be considered the BEST thing... but is it best for a BEGINNER? That's why we say read several different translations. But if you're a beginner and struggle to get through just one translation with no prior context to aid you, then what hope do you have of reading several?

  9. #19
    Silver Member Tylluan Penry's Avatar
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    Re: Books for begginers

    Quote Originally Posted by Rae'ya View Post

    This brings me to a point about the Poetic Edda... the English translations are all slightly different, some fairly drastically so. So which one should a beginner go for? Well that's a whole other debate, isn't it? lol. Learning the original languages and reading the original manuscripts can be considered the BEST thing... but is it best for a BEGINNER? That's why we say read several different translations. But if you're a beginner and struggle to get through just one translation with no prior context to aid you, then what hope do you have of reading several?
    Sometimes it's important to remember that different periods will produce a different emphasis here and there. Some of the more recent translations of the Old English Rune Poem for example, add in things that the earlier translations wouldn't have dreamed of. I don't have a problem with the different interpretations, but I do have a problem when people really go on a complete flight of fancy with absolutely nothing to back it up linguistically (mentioning no names here but I'm not the first to comment on this, I know).

    Learning and studying is important if you want to do more than skim the surface. Not that there's anything wrong with skimming the surface when you're setting out and it's probably the best to just dig a bit here and there. But do be careful with some authors who will confidently assert things when there is nothing whatever to back it up.

    There is no problem with going exploring within your tradition, and in fact I think it's a very good thing. But remember that nothing is certain. And the more certain a source is, the less weight I would give it.
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    Phantom Turnips never die.... they just get stewed occasionally....

  10. #20
    Sr. Member Maythe's Avatar
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    Re: Books for begginers

    Quote Originally Posted by Rae'ya View Post
    Kindreds have their own biases, preferences and interpretations... oral information is not inherently any more accurate than written information... it's just the opinions of the group rather than a single individual.
    Absolutely and hearing different people tell the same tale can be as informative about the storyteller as it is about the story. I'm not saying oral versions of the stories are more accurate necessarily but they are at least alive. The problem of access to accurate information for those who aren't academic is a really difficult one and I don't think there are any easy answers.
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