The following books feature direct links to Amazon.com. I've personally purchased most of my Asatru library from Amazon, because some of the below referenced books are impossible to find anywhere else. Let me know if there are any other Asatru related books in print you think should be added to the list, and I'll set them up
Primary Mythological Sources
- The Poetic Edda, Larrington translation. The basis for the Norse Myths as we know them, the Poetic Edda is a MUST have for any Asatruar. --JM
- The Poetic Edda, Hollander translation. The old standby. A lot of Asatruar use this edition. --JM
- The Poetic Edda, volume 2 (Mythological Poems). Translated by Ursula Dronke. Includes translations of the Voluspa, Rigsthula, Volundarkvidha, Lokasenna and Skirnismal. Dronke has unparalleled footnotes and commentary, and lots of it too. Example: the translation of the Voluspa takes up about 10 pages. There are 130 pages of accompanying notes and commentary. And the original Old Norse is transcribed next to the English translation as well. The Cadillac of all translations. --JM
- The Prose Edda, by Snorri Sturluson. Translated by Jean Young. Written about 2 centuries after the Poetic Edda, but still contains some info not found in its predecessor. --JM
- The Germania, by Tacitus. Translated by Anthony Faulkes. Contains valuable first century C.E. evidence of Vanic worship. --JM
- Saxo Grammaticus: The History of the Danes Books I-IX, by Saxo Grammaticus.
- Sagas of the Icelanders. Now in paperback. An excellent and affordable 800+ page book that includes most of the Saga's listed below, and a handful that you might not have heard of before (18 sagas/tales total). Includes maps, and appendixes on ships, farms, and social/political structure. Highly recommended. -JM
- Njal's Saga. Penguin Edition. The greatest of all the Icelandic Sagas.
- Egil's Saga. Penguin Edition. One of the better Sagas, centering around the warrior-poet and rune magician Egil Skallagrimson. Egil's rune magic and construction of a nithing pole are especially interesting. --JM
- The Saga of the Jomsvikings, translated by Hollander. One of the earliest of the Sagas, centering on the doings of the Jomsvikings clan.
- The Saga of the Volsungs . The epic tale of Sigurd, Gudrun and Brunahild which inspired the Wagnerian Opera.
- Hrafnkel's Saga . Penguin Edition.
- Eyrbyggja Saga . Penguin Edition.
- King Harald's Saga. Penguin Edition.
- Laxdaela Saga. Penguin Edition.
- Orkneyinga Saga. Penguin Edition.
- Hrolf Kraki's Saga . Penguin Edition.
- The Vinland Sagas, Penguin Edition.
- Heimskringla, the Lives of the Norse Kings. Written by Snorri Sturluson. Lots of very valuable information in this collection of histories, including accounts of oath-takings. --JM
- The Role of the Northern Goddess, by Hilda Davidson. Hands down the finest book ever written regarding the Asynjur, collecting practically everything that is known about the Norse Goddesses. --JM
- Goddess of the North, by Lynda C. Welch. Just published in April of 2001
- Cold Counsel : The Women of Old Norse Literature and Myth, by Anderson and Swenson.
- Northern Mysteries and Magic, Runes Gods and Feminine Powers, This is the second edition of Freya Aswynn's famous Leaves of Yggdrasil, this book focuses mainly on Runes and the Goddesses, and comes with a free full length CD of Freya's "Songs of Yggdrasil". She treats the runes in a personal way, giving her own insights, but her work with the goddesses could have been more in depth. Freya also occasionally strays into Norse Wicca, but other than that, its a good book. --JM
- Women in Old Norse Society, by Jenny Jochens. A superbly documented look back into the lives of Scandanavian women. --JM
- The Woman's Companion to Mythology by Caroline Larrington, editor. Previous edition called The Feminist Companion to Mythology. This book covers a variety of myth groups. Larrington herself wrote the section on Norse mythology and so we know she is angry. Her facts are not necessarily wrong, but she does manage to cast everything in a negative light. I recommend this book so you can see a more pure and reasoned form of what uninformed Wiccans think of Asatru. And also because the other essays are pretty good. -- MAO
- Old Norse Images of Women by Jenny Jochens. This book can be regarded as a companion to the author's Women in Old Norse Society. This book uses the presentation of women in Eddic poetry and some other Icelandic narratives to shed light on women and their roles. It is clearly aimed at a popular audience and so gives an introduction to the sources as well as the author's analysis. Jochens's work is well regarded by other feminist scholars. It covers a lot of interesting topics and brings together material that would otherwise be difficult to get a handle on, but something about it strikes me wrong. Maybe I just sense that she is determined to find bones to pick and occasionally overrreaches. -- MAO
- Women in the Viking Age, by Judith Jesch.
Mythology and Anthropology
- Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, by Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson. This book is a classic - probably her best. It surveys all of the myths, and has references to even the least known deities. This book has my highest recommendation. --JM
- The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe, by Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson. Another great book, this contains a lot of archeological and anthropological evidence.
- Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions, by Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson. Another great book, this contains a lot of archeological and anthropological evidence.
- Scandinavian Folk Belief and Legend, edited by Kvideland and Sehmsdorf. A collection of hundreds and hundreds of folktales, legends and stories of the Huldefolk, spirits and all kinds of wights. --JM
- A History of Pagan Europe by Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick. This book covers Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Norse, Greek, and Roman religions. It has good historical coverage and some valuable insights. And it is refreshing to read a book that doesn't have "what primitive fools they were" between the lines.-- MAO
- Medieval Iceland : Society, Sagas, and Power by Jesse Byock (writer of the now out of print Feud in the Icelandic Saga).
- Viking Age Iceland
by Jesse Byock.
- Nordic Folklore by Reimund Kvideland, Henning K. Sehmsdorf (Editor). More of the same.
- Nordic Religions in the Viking Age, by Thomas Dubois. Newly published in late 1999. The book focuses on the interaction between different Northern cultures (Viking, Saami, Finnish), and includes a full chapters on Seidhr, Death & the Afterlife, Health & Healing the coming of the cross.
- Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Magic, by Bill Griffiths. Contains a survey of how the Anglo-Saxons regarded magic, and includes a wealth of original sources (Merseberg charms, rune poems, etc). Special Order from Amazon.
Runes and Magic
- Nine Worlds of Seid-Magic: Ecstasy and Neo-Shamanism in North European Paganism
, by Jenny Blain.
- Teutonic Magic, by Kveldulf Gundarsson. Contains a lot of useful meditations for each rune discussed. Touches on other kinds of Norse magic as well. --JM
- Runecaster's Handbook: The Well of Wyrd, Edred Thorsson.
- Runelore : A Handbook of Esoteric Runology, Edred Thorsson.
- Futhark, a Handbook of Rune Magic
, Edred Thorsson.
- At the Well of Wyrd : A Handbook of Runic Divination, by Edred Thorsson.
- Northern Mysteries and Magic, Runes Gods and Feminine Powers, JUST published in July! This is the second edition of Freya Aswynn's famous Leaves of Yggdrasil, this book focuses mainly on Runes and the Goddesses, and comes with a FREE full length CD of Freya's "Songs of Yggdrasil". The rune stuff in here offers some unique interpretations, and Freya is not afraid to offer her own personal insights. The only rune book I could actually read all the way through. --JM
- Northern Magic by Edred Thorsson. Clear (if short) introduction to the religion. But buy it for its eclectic grab-bag of magical techniques. The material on Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs is a surprise (and only marginally Asatru, at best). But it's pretty cool anyway. I recommend the section on sitting out. -- MAO
- Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner. This is a practical how-to manual on shamanic techniques. It is the standard on the subject. -- MAO
- Teutonic Religion, by Kveldulf Gundarrson. Unfortunately out of print, though there has been talk about another edition. For other out of print books, please check out this link.
- Ravenbok, written by the Raven Kindred, is available online at the Raven Kindred Website.
- Our Troth, written by the Ring of Troth, is abailable on line as well.
Asatru and the Law
American Cultural Pluralism and the Law, by Jill Norgren and Serena Nanda. This is the updated edition of a standard, classic text on how all sorts of cultural differences (including religion) have been handled in US federal and state courts. They put the whole thing in the context of ongoing negotiations between minority groups and the majority on how to accomodate their differences. -- MAO
- The Giant King, Reading level: ages 9-12. By Rosalind Kerven
- Gods and Heroes from Viking Mythology, reading level: young adult. By Brian Branston, Giovanni Caselli (Illustrator).
- Norse Mythology A to Z : A Young Reader's Companion, reading level: young adult. by Kathleen N. Daly.
- The Norse Myths, by Kevin Crossley Holland. An entertaining, accurate and easy to read retelling of some of the primary myths found in Poetic Edda. Great for younger readers, or adults just being introduced to the Norse myths. --JM
- Nordic Gods and Heroes by Padraic Colum, illustrations by Willy Pogany. This book is aimed at children and takes considerable liberties. But it is readable and has good illustrations.-- MAO
- Myths of the Norsemen by Helene Guerber. This old classic is better than it looks at first browse, despite the assumption on this was all a prequel to Christianity. And it has some great over-the-top illustrations.-- MAO
Religion in General
The Future of Religion: Secularization, Revival, and Cult Formation, by Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge. This book lays out in detail (with copious relevant modern examples) the authors' sociological theories of how religions grow, change, and form from scratch. The critical questions are why do people join new religious movements, and how do those religions attract them? It is interesting to see how the Asatru movement stacks up to their theories now, but it is even more interesting to consider the implications for the future of the religion. -- MAO
The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries , by Rodney Stark. This applies the best current sociological theories on the growth of new religions to the very first centuries of Christianity. How did the tenets of the religion give them marketing strength? Why did converts to Christianity tend to stick when converts to other new religions of the time did not? How did the rise of Christianity affect people who were not members? It is a fascinitating book. -- MAO
Idolatry, by Moshe Halbertal and Avishai Margalit. Translated by Naomi Goldblum. This book mainly covers Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. It is a fascinating study of the birth of monotheism, particulary how it defined itself against the sin of idolatry. Is the worship of "false gods" an error of practice or of belief? It has great insights into religious pluralism and intolerance, and into how rival religions interact. -- MAO
- Trickster Makes This World by Lewis Hyde. This is a new book that covers tricksterism in many religions. It would be valuable even if it didn't have some sharp insights into Loki and his role(s). -- MAO
- The Sacred and the Profane: the Nature of Religion by Mircea Eliade and Patterns in Comparative Religion by Mircea Eliade. Eliade's work changed the way scholars approach the subject. Scholars may take exception to some of his ideas, but his philosophy frames the discussion. -- MAO
- Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy by Mircea Eliade. This book introduced the concept of Shamanism to the West. Eliade generalized the notion of shamanism, originally applied only to some Siberian religious activities, to the world, describing and analyzing shamanic practices from many cultures, including the precursors to Asatru. It's not perfect (anyone would get carried away with such an exciting new idea), but it's still just about the best. -- MAO
- Comparative Mythology by Jaan Puhvel. This book leaves me superlative-impaired. Get it, read it, read it again. It has sharp, clear, fascinating insights into Indo-European mythology. Who are our closest religious cousins? Who is Thor's mother, really? And its academic credentials are impeccable. -- MAO
- Varieties of Religious Experience by William James. James contemplates what role religion plays in the lives of individuals. His chapter in conversion should be of particular interest to Asatruar. (Amazon probably wouldn't want me to tell you that there is a free Project Gutenberg edition available online here.) -- MAO
Ritual Design and Engineering
- Readings in Ritual Studies by Ronald L. Grimes, editor. It's broad; it's deep. It has articles by the top people in the field, covering the religious, secular, political, and dramatic aspects of ritual. If you can't find something interesting in here, you must be dead. -- MAO
- Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions by Catherine M. Bell. I confess I have not had a chance to read this one yet. But it looks great and I have in in my priority pile. Tell you what--if you get it, let me know and we'll do a Book Club thing with it. -- MAO
Oh, Okay--Some Viking Stuff
See also Groa's List of Recommended Heathen Reading, put together by our friend Ann Groa Sheffield in Medoburg Kindred, Pennsylvania.
For recommended books that are currently out of print, please click here.
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