Review: The Way of Wyrd by Brian Bates
The book The Way of Wyrd is a fictional story of a Christian Monk who is sent to learn the ways of the Anglo-Saxon pagans. The story is rich and entertaining. The author worked hard to research and present the information in a way that was informative and entertaining. By working the true beliefs of the Anglo-Saxon sorcerers into this work of fiction the author has brought back the use of stories to transmit knowledge and information.
The book is actually in two parts. The first part focuses on the early aspects of the Monk’s training. Here the monk is very skeptical of all the powers the sorcerer claims to work with and hold. While he works hard to learn all he can learn, Brand (the name of the monk) never really believes the ways of the people or that the powers are real.
In this part of the book the author introduces the basic beliefs of the people. The story actually opens with Brand working with Wulf (the sorcerer) at a healing ceremony banishing an evil spirit. This powerful start to the book illustrates a few of the key practices and beliefs that Brand is exposed to as he begins the training. This ceremony is set after he has completed his journey so we see here that Brand has much to learn and yet he was open to them.
In this first part of the book Brand is highly skeptical of the beliefs and practices. There are some that even scare him. Though he is fascinated with the tales of the Gods and of the spirits he does not appreciate their real value aside from primitive beliefs and practices.
The first powerful ritual that Brand is exposed to is an example of his difficulty in attempting to switch worldviews to learn the beliefs and practices. Here Brand is taught about gathering power from plants and how to properly gather the plant and give it an offering.
Other powerful rituals are experienced in this section. Here the author also goes into reading the omens of nature such as the flight pattern of birds and the way fish swim. The largest concept of Germanic paganism introduced here is the concept of Wyrd and knowing how to read and work with Wyrd.
The final experience in this section of the book Brand has is watching Wulf heal an elf shot horse. When Brand declares the process a fraud Wulf knows then that he must make Brand experience these forces or the mission to learn their ways will be a failure. The experience at the farm and Brand’s declaration of being a fraud.
In the second part of the book Brand is forced to encounter the shamanic aspects of Germanic paganism. Here we learn about spirit flight, how our spirits can be stolen, and how to work a soul retrieval in the practices of the Anglo-Saxon sorcerers.
The authors use of the narrative story teaches several elements of Germanic paganism. There are tales of the Gods taught, beliefs about plant lore explored, beliefs of the soul, and much more. The book provides through the story a basic concept and outline of many main beliefs found in Germanic Paganism as well as in Traditional Witchcraft, Anglo-Saxon shamanism, and much more. This book was well researched and written allowing a student to learn concepts in a way that non-fiction books may not be able to portray them.
Why those who seek spiritual connections are always studying
The last few blog entries have been focusing on why pagans and witches are very individual people and why personal truth is so important. Today is a bit of a continuation on that theme. Today it’s about why witches and pagans are always seemingly reading a new book or looking for new materials to study,
There is always something new to explore or even something old to reexamine. With in the realms of spiritual practices and spiritual development there is always something new to learn about. There are so many different cultures out there that one can always look to new cultures for further inspiration as to where they would like to go or different types of practices.
I’m going to provide a few cultural examples that you can look at to see what I mean when it comes to looking for new things to study and explore to advance your spiritual practices and development. These are examples of things that I have looked at and thought about for my own personal studies. Though these will only serve as examples. From here I will go back and talk about what exactly this means for you as a seeker and a practitioner.
The first example I am going to cover is that of Germanic Paganism and witchcraft. These are two spiritual and religious paths that are a part of my personal practice that also inspire and help form the products that this business sells. This is also a popular culture to explore spiritually right now with more people having interest in Germanic mythology with new pop culture references.
In Germanic paganism there is a lot of lore that can be explored. Most people start off with the Eddas and Sagas. With in the Eddas and Sagas there are many tales of magical practices and spiritual works. This is where most of the concepts of Modern Germanic worship come from such as the Blot and the Sumbel. The Eddas and Sagas while having an extensive study in themselves, is not the only source of the lore out there.
Many people are familiar with the Grimm’s brothers fairy tales. These fairy tales actually come from the Germanic forests, These fairy tales provide another source of wealth for practicing Germanic Paganism and witchcraft. The tales describe many different spirits and even some of the traditional practices of the Dwarves, Witches, Elves, and other spirits found within Germanic cultures. These tales provide even further keys into the folk knowledge that create the base of witchcraft and other magical practices.
Aside from the fairytale and the Eddas there are other sources of practical information. The Rune poems give inspiration for the practice of rune magic which has been mentioned in the Eddas and the Sagas. By reading the Rune poems a Germanic Pagan begins to study another wealth of information regarding the spiritual practices of the ancient Germanic Pagans.
Even within the Umbrella of Germanic Paganism and practices one could go into even more specific studies. For example one could focus their attention on the continental practices in old Germany and Norway for example. Focusing even further on some of those specific tribes. One person could even focus on the Anglo-Saxon practices (England mostly here for those looking for a region). One could go so far as to say that even the Icelandic practices and tribal setting would have been different.
While each of these tribes had a base shared language and some base cultural similarities, the names for the Gods and even some of the specific practices were different. Though they were similar and related enough that the cultures and tribes were able to trade and intermarry and work successfully together in war and in peace.
Those are just a few examples from the Germanic cultures. There is so much to explore and study within one area of the vast umbrella of Paganism and Pagan spirituality that one will always find something new to learn and study. Even if a person decides to stick to a specific set of cultural practices and identities ( Germanic paths for example) there will always be something to learn.
Here is a set of examples from a different Pagan culture completely. Hellenic Paganism or Greek style Paganism has many different facets. This cultural style of study and practice can be even more difficult and extensive as it is so diverse. You have on one hand the cults for each city state as well as cults of areas.
Greece because of the way it was organized for many years did not have really a cohesive religion for the culture. They had in general a pantheon that they all shared with some common festivals, but each area was highly specific. There were areas where people focused their entire worship on One of the Gods and you had those whose temples were only really visited once a year (The Elysian mysteries for example).
Hellenic pagans from what I have found typically follow one or two specific Gods that are their Patron Gods. While extensive research into the practices of worship in the culture is important in order to form bonds closer to their chosen deities they will most likely focus their attention on studying the cult centers and cult worship of those Gods.
The above examples were specific to Paganism in general as a study. Now I am going to try and give some examples of magical practices from the view of a witch who is always studying and learning. This blog does focus on all of these topics so covering both of these topics in this entry is reasonable.
Within magic and witchcraft there are many different ways to practice and types of practices that one can study. To be honest there are so many options that a newbie often seeking to start practicing witchcraft can feel overwhelmed. Which is why many find that mastering spellcraft can be near impossible and they wonder if they are doing it right.
In magic you have herbalism, crystal and gem magic, Galdar, Seidr, Trance work, summoning, healing work, poppet magic, astral projection, weather work, ect. Often times a person may have so many interests that they can’t figure out where to start and will find that practices can overlap.
I’ll take Herbalism for example. In Herbalism a witch and magician studies the herbs that they work with. They can use them in powders and in potions as well as in oils, lotions, tinctures, soaps, and other types of charms. There is also the healing work with herbalism. Though while one studies making an oil for example they may learn or hear about spell oils from Hoodoo and then start to explore that for further herbal use and practices.
The examples above are one cultures examples of how deep and diverse the study of a cultures religious heritage can be. The above examples also illustrate just one example of why it is impossible to master the spiritual crafts. There will always be something new to learn and explore.
This is also why some witches, Pagans, and spiritual people tend to have rather extensive libraries. Books are used as references in work and in studies and are often to valuable to just borrow from a library when it is needed.