Search the Northvegr™ Site

Powered by
Our Fathers' Godsaga : Retold for the Young.
  Home | Site Index | Heithinn Idea Contest |
NESP Reviews

Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia


Review by Alfta

        It is a sad fact that many books of worth, dealing with various aspects of Northern Tradition, are out of print and very hard to get hold of. Turville-Petre's book is one of those books and that is a real shame because this book is perhaps the best book on Northern lore and religion in English. If you have a chance to get this book, it will probably cost you but you can rest assured it is well worth the cost. I have never, not even in H. R. E. Davidson's books, seen such a wealth of information. I found the first chapter on the sources of the lore very informative and a chapter dealing with this subject is rarely seen in other books. What sets Turville-Petre part is the shear number of facts presented. I consider myself to be quite well read in Northern lore but in this book I was constantly discovering new facts I had never encountered before. Although this book is perhaps a little on the scholarly side, it is highly readable.
        After chapter one, the next six chapters go into great detail about what is known about the various Regin starting with Othinn and ending with the Vanir. Another subject not often covered in other books on Northern lore and religion, were the subjects of chapter 9 and chapter 10, dealing with divine kings and divine heroes. This extremely important aspect of Northern Heathenism is often neglected, but Turville-Petre gives it a good deal of attention. The chapter on guardian spirits is excellent, as well as the chapters dealing with temples and objects of worship and death. Turville-Petre's extensive notes and the bibliography make it very easy for anyone interested in delving in deeper, to know where to look.
        Although this book is a literal gold mine of lore, that is not to say that there are not some negative aspects to it. Turville-Petre's almost rabid disdain for Othinn is unrelenting and at times he cannot hide what seems to me to be an obvious disdain for the Heathen religion. Turville-Petre insists on depicting Othinn in the worst possible light, much like one might imagine Middle Age Christians attempted to do when demonizing the Heathen religion and at the same time, he completely ignores anything that might cast a positive light on Othinn. Additionally, chapter 15, entitled “Godless Men” was an unconvincing attempt at making more of the godless men concept than is warranted. Turville-Petre admits that Christian scribes may have been over-emphasizing these so called “godless men” when he says:

“Such godless men, the social misfits, must have lived at every period, but it is likely that Christian writers of the Middle Ages made more of them than history justified.”

Though one cannot deny some parts of Havamal seem to have been written from the aspect of the godless man, his assertions that the whole was written from that view point are not convincing and rest on an assumption he admits from the very beginning is false.
        As with any scholar we must not assume that great knowledge equals great wisdom. Even a scholar of Turvile-Petre's metal must be read with a critical eye, for they are outsiders to our religion looking in. Though a possible Christian bias creeps through at times, on the whole, we cannot help but have a joyful eye when peering into the pages of this book.

© 2004-2007 Northvegr.
Most of the material on this site is in the public domain. However, many people have worked very hard to bring these texts to you so if you do use the work, we would appreciate it if you could give credit to both the Northvegr site and to the individuals who worked to bring you these texts. A small number of texts are copyrighted and cannot be used without the author's permission. Any text that is copyrighted will have a clear notation of such on the main index page for that text. Inquiries can be sent to Northvegr™ and the Northvegr symbol are trademarks and service marks of the Northvegr Foundation.

> Northvegr™ Foundation
>> About Northvegr Foundation
>> What's New
>> Contact Info
>> Link to Us
>> E-mail Updates
>> Links
>> Mailing Lists
>> Statement of Purpose
>> Socio-Political Stance
>> Donate

> The Vík - Online Store
>> More Norse Merchandise

> Advertise With Us

> Heithni
>> Books & Articles
>> Trúlög
>> Sögumál
>> Heithinn Date Calculator
>> Recommended Reading
>> The 30 Northern Virtues

> Recommended Heithinn Faith Organizations

>> Transcribe Texts
>> Translate Texts
>> HTML Coding
>> PDF Construction

> N. European Studies
>> Texts
>> Texts in PDF Format
>> NESP Reviews
>> Germanic Sources
>> Roman Scandinavia
>> Maps

> Language Resources
>> Zoëga Old Icelandic Dict.
>> Cleasby-Vigfusson Dictionary
>> Sweet's Old Icelandic Primer
>> Old Icelandic Grammar
>> Holy Language Lexicon
>> Old English Lexicon
>> Gothic Grammar Project
>> Old English Project
>> Language Resources

> Northern Family
>> Northern Fairy Tales
>> Norse-ery Rhymes
>> Children's Books/Links
>> Tafl
>> Northern Recipes
>> Kubb

> Other Sections
>> The Holy Fylfot
>> Tradition Roots

Search Now:

Host Your Domain on Dreamhost!

Please Visit Our Sponsors

Web site design and coding by Golden Boar Creations