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The Way of Wyrd Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Bates does tie in some interesting historical facts, and does a good job of explaining Wyrd and other Pagan concepts. The only issues are that it does not live up to the story telling ability of either Castaneda or Tolkien, and comes across a little too clean & idealistic. The tale seems to be a fairly bare frame on which to hang the author's admiration for his own view of pre-Christian culture.
In doing so, the book reflects an idealised and romantic view of Pagan culture, akin to the fantasy traditions of Wicca. As a fellow Pagan, I can empathise with the urge to imagine these ancestors as wise custodians of the land. However, the evidence indicates that they were actually not all that different to us in exploiting natural resources (there were just less of them to make an impact), and they almost certainly practiced some rites that we would baulk at today. For every wise one, there would have been many more who were just ignorant and superstitious.
As comforting as it may be to our own conscience to believe in the 19th Century ideal of the noble savage, or the New-Age fantasy of the all knowing shaman, it does our ancestors a disservice to always imagine that their efforts came to nought, and their descendants ended up inferior to them.
The book is well worth the read as great inspiration, but take it with a grain of salt, as a simple tale based on very limited historical information seen through a very thick lense of idealism.
The Way of Wyrd is an excellent story exploring the differences and similarities between Christianity and Paganism.
Wat Brand is sent to explore Pagan England to learn their ways ready for when Christianity invades.
However, his guide, Wulf, shows him far more than he could ever have imagined and Wat becomes submerged in the way of Wyrd. For the best way to learn of the Pagan spirits is to meet them face to face.
What we know about shamanism: It was practiced in Britain, certainly circa 13th century and therefore probably earlier.
What we know about Saxon-era Britain: Until near the end of Saxon times, it constituted hundreds of tribes, perhaps thousands, depending on the scale you look. "Britain" as an entity did not exist and the term was not used. Religion almost certainly varied in details between tribes - no Common Book of Heathen Prayer.
Conclusion: Brian Bates' book could, realistically, reflect actual beliefs in some tribes in some parts of the isles. It cannot reflect the majority view because we don't know who the majority really were (see controversy over Oppenheimer's Who are the British), what they believed or how they practiced.
It deserves very high marks as a thought experiment. I don't see the critics of him doing better, or reconciling their views with either recent genetic, archaeological or archaeo-botanical data (if you insist on precision, I insist on hard data without which precision is an illusion). I commend his audacity for trying, and for producing a cohesive story.
It isn't perfect, but unless Odin actually exists AND offers you a copy of his memoirs, you might need to put up with the limitations of the knowable.
Brian Bates tells the tale of a young Anglican scribe that is sent into the Norse countries to act as a spy for the Anglican church. His mission is to learn and record as much as he can about those living in the area. With this information and a better understanding of local traditions and their ritual beliefs, the Anglican church hopes to send in missionaries to convert the locals to a more righteous path i.e. that of the Anglican church. The only problem is that the young scribe that is sent ends up with a travelling Shaman as a guide of the region. Needless to say, the clash in beliefs and cultures makes for an interesting journey as the pair travel into different villages and encounter different situations. Most of these are situations that the sheltered monk would have never even dreamed real, let alone possible.
The end result is an interesting look at how organized religion and pagan beliefs & rituals compare as seen through the eyes of the Anglican monk. There's enough input from the part of the Shaman to understand where he's coming from too, which gives the book a certain balance between "traditional church-going values" and those of a "world-loving pagan".Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this book because of Sabbat Dreamweaver. I thought there would be more to it. Its not a bad book. Well written and a good story. Read morePublished 6 months ago by J. Lenglet
My thrid copy over the years. A great book for those of you who are interested in spiritual type readings.Published 9 months ago by Vincent P
The author purports to have uncovered ancient prechristian Anglo Saxon shamanism and presented it through this alleged historically inspired fiction. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Thor's Man
a very nice piece of fiction depicting an mystical initiation.Published 9 months ago by Swift Jacobs-Lundy
I read this for a Religion and Nature class. It was bizarre but a good introduction and exposure to anglo-saxon sorcery.Published 10 months ago by Cara A Nassar
I first discovered this book through one of my favourite albums of all time - Dreamweaver by Sabbat - which quite simply pure poetry with racous guitars and drums. Read morePublished 10 months ago by M. Brookes
The Way of Wyrd is a fictional account based on historical information. It was a good story, and I enjoyed it. Read morePublished 13 months ago by S. Whalen