Leaves of Yggdrasil

Ingebord Svea Norden reviews Leaves of Yggdrasil: Runes, Gods, Magic, Feminine Mysteries, and Folklore by Freya Aswynn in the Bkwyrm archive.

The author knows runes and Germanic pagan folklore very well–AND she writes about it in plain English. She dispels the popular myth that Norse paganism is totally violent and male-centered; she also gives technical advice on how rune divination and spellworking should be done. In these respects, few other books come close. Despite its good points, there were a few flaws from a strictly Asatru viewpoint. Aswynn is an ex-Wiccan with some ceremonial background, and it occasionally shows in her writing: First, she connects the rune Berkano with a “triple goddess” divided into Maiden, Mother and Crone aspects. (Modern magicians do agree that Berkano is a feminine rune, but the rest is not consistent with Asatru teachings.) Second, she lists gender-polarity and elemental correspondences for each rune–when those things play only a minor role in Germanic belief. Third, she tries to fit the runes onto an eight-spoked year wheel, although there is no historical evidence that any rune-using culture followed that calendar exactly. If a reader is willing to ignore the Wiccan- influenced parts, though, Leaves is definitely worth a look.

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