Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen

My personal experiences, including religious and spiritual experiences, community interaction, general heathenry, and modern life on my heathen path, which is Asatru.

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Old Books Part 1: Ravenwolf's Hex Magic

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Having stacks and stacks of boxes of books that Tom had had in his box storage room, I have decided to read some older books for the first time. My professional book reviews are of brand new books, and I won't be going into the same kind of detail on these older books here on my blog that I do when I review a new book for a magazine. These reviews will be shorter and more casual.

First up is Silver Ravenwolf's Hex Magic. It's full of spells I do not recommend anyone actually try, because she has taken traditional Penn. Deitsch spells and Wiccanized them in odd ways, and if one wants to learn that type of magic I would recommend learning from Urglaawe magical folk of whatever kind, hexmeisters or whatever. However, Urglaawe wasn't on the net ready to teach people at the time her book was written, and a lot of the personal stories are fascinating snapshots in time.

She makes the mistake of seeing everything through Wicca-tinted glasses, always trying to find God / Goddess duality and Maiden / Mother / Crone stuff everywhere even though she was looking in a traditionally German-derived tradition. The heathens of ancient times were definitely polytheists, having many gods, some of whom did not conform to modern gender expectations, so trying to squeeze all the gods into a male / female duality really doesn't work too well. And of course, continental Germany converted to Christianity hundreds of years before any German towns were founded in America, so the Pennsylvania Deitsch culture was and is more Christopagan than Wiccan, so trying to Wiccanize the spells can distort them because of the different worldviews of her and the creators of the spells.

She also "modernized" some of the spell language in ways that made no sense until she happened to mention what the original was. Over and over, I saw spells directed at the "driver and footman" and wondered what she had against the servants. It turns out the original was "horseman and footman" ie it was supposed to refer to riders and pedestrians.

It's still interesting to read. If you're more interested in the history of the modern pagan, heathen, and Wiccan movements than in learning spells I would recommend it.

Image: selfie of me reading a book.

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Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners, and the updated, longer version of her book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path. Erin has been a gythia since 1989. She was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, and is admin/ owner of the Asatru Facebook Forum. She also writes science fiction and poetry, ran for public office, is a dyer and fiber artist, was acquisitions editor at a small press, and founded the Heathen Visibility Project.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Sunday, 27 December 2020

    I actually have that book in my collection. I like your phrase "seeing the world through Wicca tinted glasses". Mark Stavish who wrote the forward to "The Red Church" by C. R. Bilardi obliquely refers to it as the first book he had been sent to review that he ever threw into the garbage. I have "The Red Church or the Art of Pennsylvania German Braucherei" in my collection as well.

  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale Friday, 01 January 2021

    Thanks. Hadn't heard that story. I haven't thrown any review copies into the garbage but I did throw one across a hotel room once lol.

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