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by D. J. CONWAY
St. Paul, Minnesota 55164-0383, U.S.A
Reviewed by Alfta Svanni Lothursdottir
The book starts with a short rundown of Norse society, then goes into how to understand “Norse Magic.” What follows in this chapter has nothing at all to do with “Norse” magic per say but could be found unaltered in any manual of ceremonial or wiccan magic. Nothing that I criticize but to call it “Norse” is really ridiculous. And of course we find exactly what magical philosophy Conway is pawning off on us as Norse when we look at the following quote, “Do what you will if you harm no being. It will never be to your benefit to deliberately harm another being through magic. This includes taking away by magic something that belongs to another, such as a lover, spouse, job, etc. (I believe it is an excellent idea to put a copy of this rule in your ritual room.) [chap. 2]” Anyone with any knowledge of wicca whatsoever will recognize that quote. Then we see the ceremonial magic foundation of what Conway is pushing with the following quote. “There is an old teaching called the Four Powers of the Magus (Magician): to know, to dare, to will, to be silent. The last of this discussion on the definition of magic is a brief clarifications of two types of ritual magic: evocation and invocation. Evocation is the commanding of certain forces and entities by Names of Power and sigils. These rituals are done in a mixture of Greek, Hebrew and unknown languages. They are ordinarily based on a framework of Judaism or Christianity. The compelled entity is forced into a triangle drawn outside the circle. Only the lower orders of spirits are evoked, and it can be extremely dangerous if you do not know exactly what you are doing.” This quote blatantly shows what is pushed here as “Norse Magic.” This is not Norse Magic at all but the same old ceremonial/wiccan ideas and methods that you'll find in any book on wicca. To call it Norse is in my opinion completely ridiculous.
As we progress in the book we are taught more ceremonial/wiccan practices such as the four elements and the casting of the magical circle, all of which are most decidedly NOT Norse. We then are given sample rituals, again wiccan/ceremonial in nature and tools for ritual use.
Next is a section on “Norse Wicca,” were the Elder Kin are all poured into the wiccan lord and lady mould. Here we find what is perhaps Conway's leaning toward Dianic Wicca when we read the following, “The Wiccan believe in a main Goddess (the Lady) and a main God (the Lord), with the Goddess having primary importance. These are of course ideals that have absolutely no place in the Northern Way (Asatru). Conway goes on to describe Freyja as the triple goddess, (maiden, mother, hag) and a moon goddess, with the pentagram being her symbol. Then, curiously, we have Freyja mentioned in another triple goddess role with Idun and Hel. She says that Hel, Skathi (Skadi) and Holda are all the same goddess. That Holda and Hel are being compare is not a new concept but that Skathi and Hel are the same is a new one on me.
Next is a list of rituals some of which are not Norse rituals and were never celebrated by the Norse, such as Samhain. Then comes a history of the Vikings, which is followed by a summation of Norse lore which appears to have been taken from such books as Guerber's The Norsemen, which is a mixture of inaccurate and accurate lore. Then follows a glossary of beings some of which are accurate some of the entries are inaccurate and somewhat strange. You'll find a grab bag of rituals and information on the runes and other “mystical runes” such as Mjollnir? and the ship? as well as the usual correspondence tables where each god and goddess have their herb, their stone, their favorite movie, their etc.
This book like most of the rest of Conway's many books is nothing more than the usual “let's pour this or that culture into the wiccan mold” book. If you want a new flavor of the week for your wiccan practices the perhaps this book is for you. If, however, you want to learn about real “Norse Magic” then use this book to paper the bottom of your birdcage before you use it to learn about Norse Magic.
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