Suggested Reading

The following is a list publications we’ve found invaluable in our studies of Fyrnsidu.

Foundational Must-Reads
The Well and the Tree: World and Time in Early Germanic Culture – Paul C. Bauschatz. Just what it says on the tin. Absolutely Required reading.

The Tradition of Household Spirits: Ancestral Lore and Practices – Claude Lecouteux. Historic survey at the incidence of home worship and practice in European life.

The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion or Myth of the Eternal Return – Mircea Eliade. Either one works, detailing sacredness and profanity and the idea of ritual space. Sacred and Profane is a concise version of Myth. Absolutely required.

The Gift: From And Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies – Marcel Mauss. A fundamental and required read for the understanding of the gifting cycle. Absolutely required.

Relating to Ritual and Sacrifice

Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice and Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions – Catherine Bell. Bell writes three books pertaining to ritual, and all are very good, but these two are important.

Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo – Mary Douglas. Integral to understanding ritual purity and profanity.

The Cuisine of Sacrifice among the Greeks – Marcel Detienne and Jean-Pierre Vernant. Understanding the role of sacrifice within the Greek world, which forms commonalities in the Germanic.

Indo-European Sacred Space: Vedic and Roman Cult – Rodger Woodard. Woodard portrays a concise summary of comparisons between the two cults, again, which forms commonalities in the Germanic due to the foundation of P/IE religion.

Roman and Animal Sacrifice and the System of Being – a paper by John Scheid. Concise incidence which explains the fundamental WHY of sacrifice.

The Meadhall: The Feasting Tradition in Anglo-Saxon England – Stephen Pollington- This book covers the all important aspect of the feast. It covers gatherings from the informal Gebeorscipe, to Symbels, and Marriages, and so much more. The appendices cover samplings of Old English verse that apply to the academic material covered.

Further Reading Suggestions

The One-eyed God: Odin and the (Indo-) Germanic Männerbünde – Kris Kershaw. Detailing the Germanic ancestor cult, the Wild Hunt, and common (mis) conceptions of Germanic Männerbünde.

The Germanization of Medieval Christianity – James C. Russel. Explores the “fundamental Germanic reinterpretation” of Christianity, which gives clues as to pre-Christian German thought.

Looking for the Lost Gods of England – Kathleen Herbert – A brief introduction to gods native to the Anglo-Saxons. This book also comes with a list of places names associated with God’s, and other elements of Anglo-Saxon Heathenry. A short read, it also covers the Old English calendar, a list of the runes, and has maps relating to relevant places to the Heathen Anglo-Saxons.

Lady with a Mead Cup: Ritual Prophecy and Lordship in the European Warband from La Tene to the Viking Age – Michael J. Enright. Warband culture, sovereignty, and prophecy.

The Elder Gods: The Otherworld of Early England – Stephen Pollington- The only reason this book isn’t in the top section is because it covers a broad spectrum beyond the literal hearth. However, it covers deities, ancestor worship, anthropomorphic beings, views on the afterlife, and the sources from where the information is drawn. This book perfectly compliments the background, the WHY behind the WHAT the Elder Heathens did.

The Cross Goes North: Processes of Conversion in Northern Europe, AD 300-1300 – Martin Carver. Detailing the reactions of various peoples to conversion, which gives clues as to pre-Christian thought.

A Piece of Horse Liver: Myth, Ritual, and Folklore in Old Icelandic Studies – Jon Hnefill Andalsteinsson. Reappraisal of folk beliefs and religion from the Eddic period. Useful if you’re into that sort of thing.

Peace-Weavers & Shield-Maidens: Women in Early English Society – Kathleen Herbert- This book covers the all important, and often understated role of women in Anglo-Saxon England. Covering both roles in the title, and demonstrating that the roles of women were far more complicated than such a simple dichotomy. They were both and everything between. This short read tells you about their roles.

The Christianization of the Anglo-Saxons c.500-c.700: Discourses of Life, Death and Afterlife – Marilyn Dunn. Indespensible survey to the process of conversion to an “early Heathen” period people, and provides clues for their paganism in both life and death.

Signals of Belief in Early England: Anglo-Saxon Paganism Revistited – Alex Sanmark, Sarah Semple, and Martin Carver. Survey of beliefs in England.

Crisis and Development in Germanic Society 700-800: Beowulf and the Burden of Kingship – M.J. Swanton. If you do not read Chaney’s “Cult of Kingship”, the first half of this book is important to understand how Beowulf is more properly a transitional poem between Paganism and Christianity.

The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and its Relation to the Rational – Rudolf Otto. An older survey into the incidence of holiness. Useful in some respects. Less so in others.

Roman Gods: A Conceptual Approach (Religions in the Greco-Roman World) – Michael Lipka. A survey as to the Roman incidence of practising and informing their understanding of the divine.

Faith, Hope and Worship: Aspects of Religious Mentality in the Ancient World – H.S. Versnel. Beyond important for the role of prayer in traditional polytheistic societies. But out of print and excessively expensive.

The Ancient City: A Study of the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome -Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges and Willard Small. Purity, purity, purity.

Ecstatic Religion: An Anthropological Study of Spirit Possession and Shamanism – I.M. Lewis. Presents different spirit-possession cults and what they say about the culture they come from.

The Chariot of the Sun and Other Rites and Symbols of the Northern Bronze Age – Peter Gelling and Hilda Ellis Davidson. A good overview of Nordic bronze age symbolism and how they might relate to later, Germanic religion.

Leechcraft: Early English Charms, Plantlore and Healing – Stephen Pollington. A must-read for anyone interested in Anglo-Saxon Leechcraft. The appendices alone are worth the price of the book.

The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind – Claude Lecouteux. A fantastic book on revenant and ghost folklore throughout Europe.

Demons and Spirits of the Land: Ancestral Lore and Practices – Claude Lecouteux. Arguably the best resource to learn about Genius Locii (land / place spirits).

Sacred Waters: Holy Wells and Water Lore in Britain and Ireland – Janet and Colin Bord. An informative study of British / Irish water lore and its ties to pre-christianity.

Goddesses of the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda and the Cult of the Matrons – Philip A. Shaw

The Road to Hel: A Study of the Conception of the Dead in Old Norse Literature – Hilda Roderick Ellis

A World Full of Gods: An Inquiry into Polytheism – J.M Greer. Indepensible introductory work to the concept of polytheism and multivalent theology.

A Million and One Gods – Page duBois. Investigates how “secularism” is really just “Protestantism”, and portrays polytheism in its role undermining traditional Western concepts.