As I continue my exploration of the Northern Traditions, I was pleased to see “Norse Goddess Magic” by Alice Karlsdottir appear on the New Titles list from Inner Traditions, and their publicity department kindly sent me a review copy. This is an expanded and updated version of the earlier “Magic of the Norse Goddesses”.
Karlsdottir has deep experience working with what she terms the “Germanic Heathen revival”, and has written about her work in print and online. The book is written for an audience who may be new to or moderately familiar with the Norse pantheon, and to meditation / trance work. The writing is coherent and easy to follow, and the ideas are presented in a way that is understandable and engaging.
She describes her research and personal explorations of working with the Asynjur, the Norse Aesir goddesses. As we all find, over and over, historical resources on the female members of the pantheon are few, and most simply repeat information from prior sources. Karlsdottir conducts what research she can with material sources, and deepens her knowledge through direct work with the Goddesses through trance and ritual. She includes a brief and thoughtful discussion on the use of personal gnosis in group practice, and also a good, basic introduction to meditation and to creating a ritual.
The main section of the book is a thorough introduction to Frigg, The Allmother and Queen of the Gods. Karlsdottir explores the historical depictions of Frigg, as well as her associations with other goddesses in the Norse and Germanic worlds. By understanding Frigg and Her role in depth, we more easily connect to the 12 Asynjur whose chapters follow. I especially enjoyed her description of Frigg’s hall, Fensalir, “like a women’s college”, as that creates not only a visual image, but an intellectual concept that creates a workable structure for the book.
Each chapter describes one goddess, starting with the commonly accepted lore regarding Her, associations with Her, and connections to goddesses in other pantheons and figures in folklore. Karlsdottir then suggests ways to approach each goddess, and details one of her own trance encounters. The chapter closes with an example ritual for invoking and working with that particular deity.
The bibliography is a good mix of sources, including a few that were new to me, so I am pleased at having further reading to do!
The goddesses covered are Frigg, Eir, Saga, Gna, Gefjon, Snotra, Lofn, Sjofn, Var, Fulla (Frigg’s sister), Hlin, Syn, and Vor. The book also includes appendices which contain stories of Mother Holle, The Three Spinners and Queen Olga, which round out the book with a pleasing mix of magic and folklore.