Book Review: Pagan Portals – Odin: Meeting the Norse Allfather

This is the first book I’ve read of the Moon Books Pagan Portals series, and I’m glad I picked Morgan Daimler’s work to start with! I went on a binge a couple months ago and bought a whole slew of books on Amazon. Several Pagan Portals and a few other fun ones that I’ll be reviewing as I move down my TBR pile.

First, what are Pagan Portals books? These are short (sub 100 pages) intros to the title topic. I think of it as the top-10 highlight. If this was the only information you were ever going to have, what is most relevant? Not so much a one-oh-one book, but more of a primer.

So, Odin: Meeting the Norse Allfather. I picked this one off the stack and moved it up in priority because I’ll be starting to work with a Heathen group in an institution soon and this is the only book I already had on my shelf even remotely related. Odin is a Big Deal in the Northern Traditions, though, especially as the myths really interweave through all of it, so it seems like a good starting place.

Taking the book at face value, I really love the cover art!

Cover Art by Ashley Bryner. Image from Amazon.com.

 

I’m going to start with my only two complaints, and one really isn’t much of a complaint. First, I found many typos in this book. It’s my first interaction with Moon Books as a publishing house, and I’m not impressed.

The second, is just that I wanted more! I felt like I got just enough to whet my interest, to tickle my brain, and then it was over. 🙁 I know it’s the nature of an introductory primer, so that’s why I said it isn’t much of a complaint!

Besides the Introduction and Conclusion, plus an Appendix and Bibliography, there are 7 chapters: Who is Odin?, Odin in Mythology, Odin Outside Norse Culture, Symbols, Animals, and Items, Odin in the Modern World, Magic with Odin, and Prayers and Poetry. Each chapter starts with well researched information, and ends with personal gnosis experiences – except for Prayers and Poetry which were all written by Daimler.

I learned a TON in this book, and it starts early. First, Odin’s many names. Daimler lists 101 entries, just for starters. They’re all references from somewhere in the source material, which is why I always like reading Daimler’s work – they are always clear on unverified personal gnosis vs. research. The 8 pages of Chapter 2 were almost too much information for a newbie, and since Odin’s mythology is vast I can’t even imagine how Daimler shaved it down even that much! Paraphrasing the most important myths into plain language was incredibly helpful for me and made me much more likely to go check out the Prose or Poetic Eddas at some point.

I didn’t realize that Odin had Germanic connotations, so that was a good contextual sidebar in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 on items & animals had my favorite personal gnosis experience, involving a squirrel. Chapter 5 was where the meat of things came from, for me. This is what I needed in order to feel like I can engage with other books & sources while relating it to the task at hand. Page 52 dove right into the subject of those with racist agendas co-opting Odin and Northern Traditions for their own screwed up causes, and how they couldn’t be farther from correct interpretations. There is also a meditation on page 61 that is aces.

Chapter 6 talks about magic, runes, oracle work as it lives in the Northern Traditions, etc. Putting some of the oracular things into practice was interesting to read about, and, again, Daimler’s personal experience adds a rich context to the information presented. Lastly, Chapter 7 with the poems and prayers. My favorite was Marked, on page 83. Power in words, as befitting a book to a god known to inspire poets.

One other aspect of Daimler’s writings, all of their work really including blogs and social media presence, is the pragmatic “this is how it really is” way of delivery. She is quick to point out that not everyone needs to dedicate to a god or goddess, called fulltrui, for example, and the book is filled with small tidbits ensuring no one comes in to this with stars in their eyes and no sense of reality. They sum it up in the lines “But don’t forget the other side of that coin, that the God of inspiration is also the God of madness and that the God of victory is also the God of the battle dead.”

All in all I would highly recommend this book for someone who is starting with no more knowledge than the absolute basics, like me, and also for those who have been around awhile, as Daimler’s perspective gives new light to things and they also drop tidbits of more advanced practice when speaking from personal experience.

 

You can purchase the book many places, but I bought mine on Amazon:

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