In Odin: Ecstasy, Runes & Norse Magic Paxson created a well organized and logical tool for those who want to learn more about the Norse god Odin. Each chapter discusses a different aspect of Odin and his different names. Within each chapter she discusses how this aspect became and what the literature and historical artifacts which support her conclusions. Additionally, she provides practices to invite or honor Odin as well as some literature or song to go along with the practice. At the end of the book she provides rituals, music and a lengthy bibliography for further study.
Paxson links Odin through literature, from ancient to modern including Lord of the Rings. The chapters use the literature to illustrate the aspects she’s talking about. She uses modern literature, opera, ancient literature, and a variety of other examples. Using these resources, Paxson draws out an in depth picture of Odin in all of his forms.
At the same time, this is a dense reading. It takes focus and concentration when she starts talking about the etymology of words and how they relate back to Odin. The language and concepts are reasonable but the density of the material makes the reading more difficult. However, Paxson has done her research well. It is clear she has found linkages between many cultures and sources to create a full picture of this God. He comes alive in her book as you learn about his different aspects from Wanderer to All Father. Clearly she has taken time to connect with on a personal level and study on an academic level this God.
In her practices, she offers a variety of exercises which are easy enough for someone to choose from. She explores the use of runes, how to use them, and what they mean. She offers nine nights of meditation at the end of the chapters. These are meant to improve the connection between self and God. The long quotes are appropriately formatted but dense. Additionally the original language is difficult to read. She does not provide a pronunciation guide which would be helpful. The occasional illustrations are interesting and highlight the text. It helps to have a visual of how this God is perceived. These are line drawings not pictures of actual artifacts. She has these all listed as figures but doesn’t have a list of figures anywhere with more information.
Overall the book has a lot of good information, practices, music for the reader to delve into the study of Odin. Paxson provides a thorough study of Odin and the Norse culture. The downside to this book is the density of it. It is not an easy fast read but takes time and determination. The information is good, well written and thorough. She provides a detailed look at all aspects of Odin which is interesting and inviting. However, it is also written like an academic paper which is less inviting. Not a book to be easily read but once the reader delves in, they will gain a good knowledge of Odin, the literature. If the reader is looking for light and easy, this book is not it. If the reader wants a comprehensive look Odin with suggested practices, Paxson has created it in this book.
~review by Eileen Troemel
Author: Diana Paxson
Red Wheel Weiser, 2017