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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > Northern Mysteries & Magick Search

Book Review:
Northern Mysteries & Magick: Runes & Feminine Powers

Author: Freya Aswynn
Trade Paperback, 251 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: April 2002
ISBN: 1567180477
Price & More Info: Click Here


Northern Mysteries & Magick is the revised second edition of Leaves of Yggdrasil. The revision includes an expanded 6th chapter on the feminine Mysteries of Northern Europe. The author, Freya Aswynn, is a sometimes controversial member of the Ring of Troth Europe. She is well-respected by my Asatruar friends, although they warn that her information is sometimes based on personal gnosis in spite of its academic roots.

In the introduction (which is almost a short chapter), the author traces her personal path to the runes through Wicca to Asatru. Knowing her personal path makes many points in the rest of the book much easier to understand. The first chapter, a brief attempt to put the Northern European tradition into perspective, is shorter than the introduction.

The second chapter is the longest in the book. It's a 90 page introduction to the runes of the Elder Futhark. Each of the 24 runes is given a three to four page description complete with quotes from the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem, the Havamal, and other original sources. I have several books on runes and Northern Mysteries & Magick has no competition in the amount of detailed information presented on each rune. This book also comes with a very nice book listing all the runes -- which is very nice for people who have trouble remembering them as they read. The third chapter provides a brief discussion of runic divination. It is complete enough to use, but as divination is not the main thrust of this book, it is really only an introduction to the subject.

The fourth chapter begins the discussion of rune magick. This chapter covers a very wide territory. It starts by explaining that runic magick is traditionally more shamanistic and individual than ritualistic and ceremonial. Then the author launches into a description of how to use the runes in magick. This chapter has a lot of material that many Asatruar find controversial. For example, the author incorporates the Wheel of the Year from Wicca in her practice. The Rune Magick chapter covers a great deal of ground. Unfortunately, this means that many interesting things are only touched on. The fifth chapter discusses some of the Gods of Northern Europe in mythology and provides correspondences for use in magick. The sixth chapter covers the feminine mysteries. As this information is scattered and hard to dig out of other sources, it is perhaps the most interesting chapter in the book.

While some readers may find Northern Mysteries & Magick a heavy read, it is a very rewarding read for anyone interested in the runes or the magick of Northern Europe. While my Asatruar friends warn that Aswynn entwines her personal insights strongly into her texts, few suggest avoiding her works on that account. Therefore, I think it is safe to recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn more about the runes or magickal systems based on the magick of Northern Europe.

Reviewed by Randall

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