Travels through Middle Earth:
The Path of a Saxon Pagan
Alaric Albertsson, Llewellyn, 2009
In The Path of a Saxon Pagan, Alaric Albertsson decides to share his experiences and his beliefs of this Anglo-Saxon tradition relative to his personal path instead of speaking for all Anglo-Saxon Pagans, and he does this quite marvelously. Travels provides an introduction and more into Anglo-Saxon Heathenry today, while still honoring and reflecting on the contributions of the ancestors and the journeys through Middle Earth, and the other realms and customs within the fyrn sidu, or the “old ways.”
I won’t pretend to know much about Fyrnsidu, but Albertsson is refreshingly informed in a way that isn’t pretentious or overbearing. One chapter is dedicated to mead-making, and while the information can seem somewhat overwhelming and daunting at times, he’s clearly aware of this and doesn’t take himself too seriously. Albertsson has a sense of humor you don’t often see reflected on oneself in their work, and that humor made me like him even more. He doesn’t dumb down the information, but does his best to present it in a way that encourages you to read further.
Albertsson also teaches us how to create a wéofod, the Saxon altar, and how to prepare and celebrate the húsel, ritual or ceremony. There is in-depth introduction into a person’s orlay, or wyrd (“fate”) that kept me wanting to read more, and a discussion of the Nine Noble Virtues that provides a great guideline to incorporate in any spiritual practice.
My favorite elements within Travels Through Middle Earth are his in-depth discussions on the ancestors. I don’t think I have come across a book in quite some time that relays the importance of honor within the ancestral realm as well as with the deities. Albertsson makes sure we understand that the Gods shouldn’t be viewed as “divine vending machines”; the way we treat them reveals the true value of our personal honor. This is what I want to hear. This is what I want to read from an author addressing Pagan cosmology. Our word is crucial in all that we do, and Albertsson doesn’t leave this stone unturned.
Whether you’re a Saxon Pagan or simply someone interested in delving into the mysteries of Middle Earth, this book is full of information and introspection that takes you deeper into a practice that’s rarely written about. The chapter on “Honor and Wyrd,” in itself, makes this book a worthwhile read. Travels Through Middle Earth may be the journey of “a” Saxon Pagan, but I believe Albertsson represents “the”Saxon Pagans quite honorably.
Four (out of five) Broomsticks