I knew about this book for years before buying it earlier in 2007. I always felt it would be a revolutionary text for me, yet somehow I never got around to buying it (admittedly in part due to Mandrake’s poor distribution in Australia).
After about 10 pages I decided that Fries is the greatest author on Germanic magic alive. He is able to consider so many perspectives, casually avoids the rigidity of authors such as Thorsson that I found so discouraging as a newbie, and is very open about where research stops and personal opinion starts. His ideas are extremely unorthodox, and the extent of “authenticity” can be questioned about this book in various ways – but Fries never pretends to be anything he is not, and this open honesty is far more preferable than the pompous pretend-authenticity of many other books about historically inspired magical practices.
When I finished the book I immediately read it again, and took about 40 pages of notes. Anyone who knows me would find such conscientious reading totally alien to my usual habits!
His descriptions of seething experiences brought up so many memories of experiences I have had during my life, experiences which I have known were magical and which I loved and longed for… but which I felt unable to explore, to grasp a hold of. Well, Fries gives plenty of encouragement and ways into the conscious induction of trance and seething and I have been regularly and spontaneously delving ever since!
This keen attention and love of the experience of spirit, not just the the forms and images of it, is what makes this book so powerful. It correctly assesses mythology to be a door into that which cannot be said, rather than an end in itself.
His summary of different cultural practices is also extremely interesting and helpful. He is clear that all cultures are not interchangeable, but he is also clear that there can be similarities across culture. So rare to find an author with the political good sense to recognise that culture is neither hermetically sealed nor dissolved into the new age sewer!
This book has also helped to awaken my latent connection to snake energy, which I have felt for years and never been able to make sense of. Given that I see Odin as a snake god (Bolverkr, anyone?), I have been given a huge new lease on life in my relationship to my patron god.
A lot of people I know have bought this book at my urgent insistence, I get very aggressive about it. YOU have to read this book. If you get 10% of what I got from it, then you’ve easily gotten your money’s worth.