Book Review - Odin: Ecstasy, Runes & Norse Magic

Many in the Asatru and wider pagan community will recognize Diana L. Paxson. Her new book is called Odin: Ecstasy, Runes & Norse Magic (ISBN: 9781578636105). Like her other books, this one explores the topic in a way that will be educational for all readers.

Odin, as the Chief of the Gods, is a very complex being. Each of the book's chapters addresses one aspect of Odin trying to describe why people see Him that way. The different sides of Odin can make it difficult for some people to understand how these variations can belong to one being. Each chapter tries to explain these aspects in a way where they are integrated into a single, complex, and very busy God. She does this through clearly laid out hypotheses, tales from the Eddas, poetry, and relating personal stories from contemporary sources. The book finishes with a series of rituals and songs.

When people have asked whether they should seek out help from Odin, or otherwise engage with Him, my default answer is no. Odin is a very busy God. He leads the fight to maintain the dynamic balance between order and chaos that is absolutely necessary for the Nine Worlds, and the life therein, to exist. If you ask for His help and He chooses to help you, it will be in the context of that fight. Many of those who have asked me about this do not seem to realize that the help may involve more adventure (danger) than they are prepared for. When you ask Him for help, you must stand in the middle of His battlefield to ask.

Paxson's book helps explain why I hold that opinion, and explains it better than I usually do. She helps the reader understand that the complexity seen with Odin comes from only seeing Him in one part of the battle and that He must behave as the battle dictates. When people have claimed that He is treacherous, it is only because they were caught up in the whirlwind of His existence and things didn't go as they expected.

The book also gives a good overview of what an encounter with Odin is like. Throughout the book, there are tales of personal encounters from people whose lives have changed. She does this to help the reader know what to look for and to remind the reader that Odin is still active in the Worlds. Too many people think of the Gods as only existing in the Eddas and the Sagas, and forget that our everyday lives are sagas too. By including these descriptions, Paxton dispels that line of thought.

I believe every Asatru person should read this book. It is written well enough that a beginner will learn a lot, and the more experienced Asatruar will find new insights. If you do have an encounter with Odin, the information in this book will serve you well.

Comments

I have this book, but to be honest it has not gotten proper focus among other books, toddlers, and life in general. If you rate it this highly however, I shall have to go back to it with more intent.

Thank you.

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