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The Journal of Contemporary Heathen Thought, Vol. 1 Paperback – June 20, 2010
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"The Journal of Contemporary Heathen Thought is an impressive production aimed at exploring the world of modern heathenry in an informed and erudite manner." -Living Traditions Magazine
The journal "wants to give the contemporary heathen some backbone" and is "all in all a nice read, a nice initiative." -Gangleri Book Reviews
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I have been a practicing heathen for a few years now, and though I enjoy the lore as much as the next guy, I see them mainly as the door into our myth and world view, allowing us to draw our conclusions from them. The only potential problem of this obviously, is that each of us is inherently bound by our own abilities to see deeper. Some more than others. This journal opened my eyes to a depth and understanding of heathenry that I didn't think was available or possible. Everything from the depth and scope of the articles themselves to the order in which they're laid out, is a very logical and easy to follow journey through heathen thought. That said, for me at least, it is a very long read. So much information is given, that I could really only read it in smaller portions. YMMV. All points given, and sources cited are available at the bottom of the pages to give brief asides and follow up info on anything more obscure.
If you're looking for a heathenry 101 book, this most definitely isn't it. But if you're looking for the "what's next" and something with a deeper philosophical base, you've come to the right place. 5 stars.
My much anticipated copy of The Journal of Contemporary Heathen Thought vol. 1 showed up at my door yesterday morn and I didn't put it down until I devoured it cover to cover. The only disappointments were that the experience ended, and now I have to wait a whole year for volume 2.
First, the cover is a vibrant, beautiful painting by Diana Plaisance, and the whole is layed out in a style reminiscent of specialist academic journals and the scholarly texts of a bygone age. For the most part, the illustrations and photographs attending each article are of good quality, but there are a few exceptions where they appear too digitalized.
This Journal is a response to an over-riding feeling amongst the more critical thinkers of today's Heathenry that, in avoiding the pitfalls of the wild claims and personal revelations that swell the writings of the New Age/Neo-pagan crowd, Germanic Heathenry has gone too far down the opposite road of the stale historical analysis of fuddy-duddy academia nuts.
The staff at the Journal has addressed this issue and presented us with a varied cross-section of writers and poets, perspectives and the critical apparati of numerous specializations within an interdisciplinary melieu. The writers chosen by the staff have done an excellent job, and seem totally unafraid to defy convention: their hearts and minds wandering over many worlds of thought and modes of being, but with their feet firmly dug into the soil.
The series of essays starts off with a bang, as Christopher Plaisance (editor) drags us along on his deconstruction and analysis of religion, nature, thought, 'Truth' and being, dazzling us with the stunning array of knowledge he brings to bear upon his subject. This essay sets the tone for the entire volume, prompting one to excitedly fumble to the next essay, begging for more.
Another favourite was 'Cognitive Bias and Contemporary Heathenry', where author Henry Lauer examines our own adherence to assumptions that we all have about Heathenry, and questions what we think we know about historical Germanic culture and thought. He ends by offering a solution of OPEN MINDEDNESS [somewhat in the vein of Collin Cleary's now famous 'Knowing the Gods' (Tyr volume 1, 2002).]
Juleigh Howard Hobson, an author of some note, deconstructs the Marxist feminism that has been foisted on Western woman by the much-hated, anti-Western Frankfurt School, and posits that the only healthy path to survival is a return to traditional (in a pre-Christian sense)complementary gender roles.
Dan Caeppe, in 'Wandering the Nine Worlds', reveals the shamanic (a loaded word, I know, but the native terminology is either wanting, or widely misunderstood)origins of the roots of our Germanic cosmology and cosmogeny, and Odin's mystical journeys thru the Multiverse and his winning of wisdom.
The section of book reviews at the end of the volume round things out nicely, opening with a review of Oswald Spengler's 'Decline of the West', a relatively unknown, but highly important and thorough understanding of Europe's past and future. Ben McGarr (another of the Journal's editors), the reviewer, states quite flatly what a daunting task awaits him in reviewing such a monolith of Western thought, but courageously attacks the subject anyway.
In short, The Journal of Contemporary Heathen Thought does for Germanic Heathenry what Tyr: Myth, Culture, Tradition does for the RadTrad crowd: Sincere inquiry, complex analysis, a wide interdisciplinary perspective and top-notch presentation. BUY IT!
-WILLIAM, SON OF THE SPEAR