Morgan Daimler has written two books on Norse deities, first Pagan Portals - Odin in 2018 and Pagan Portals - Thor in 2020. Having had two bites at the apple (and both of which I really enjoyed, if you'll pardon the strained metaphor) she has gone for the whole fruit in her latest book, Pantheon - the Norse. As with her first two books, part of the ongoing "Pagan Portals" series that does deep dives on singular subjects, this latest is an early entry on Moon Books' series focusing on individual cultures. Certainly the Norse pantheon is a popular subject for many, and there's enough material to digest that an overview title like this is welcome. Which just leaves the question: how did she do?
Pretty well, it turns out. She takes a sensible approach for a thorough study, spending the first part of the book covering the where, how, and why aspects of the Norse pantheon. From your usual historical and mythological overview, she moves on to the practical matter of what rituals and magic look like in a Norse context, including down-to-earth advice for incorporating these things into your own practice. I found her writing to be in the sweet spot of engaging and earnest while still maintaining the air that we are delving into mysteries. Too often, a book like this leans either towards an audition for writing for Britannica, or else hoping to be picked up at the front counter of a scented candle shop. Daimler's book would be at home on the coffee table or the reference library, more's the wonder of it.
The second part of the book is more of a straight-up reference guide, spending 30+ pages on the deities of the Norse pantheon and another 20 or so on "other spirits" which, while admittedly a broad sounding topic, is actually a necessary catch-all for the ancestor spirits, elementals, elves, and other mythological figures that belong in the "non-deity" category. Once again in this portion of this book, our author does a fine job of straddling the informative and the enjoyable, and while I still don't know that anybody wants to read 50 straight pages of biographical entries, when you go looking for any of this information you'll find that it goes down smoothly thanks to Daimler's skills as a researcher and writer.
I want to also call out, appreciatively, the section "Words to the Wise: Racism and Ancestry". While barely a page long, it is unsparing in strongly disassociating Heathenry with those idiots who are perpetually co-opting it. As she well points out, ancestry can be a fine path for contemplation or to put a top-spin on divination or spell work, but there's nothing about your great grandmother's homeland being Norse that makes you a de facto superior person. You might think that this doesn't need saying, but alas. I'm glad she doesn't gloss over this.
If the Norse panthon is something that already calls to you, Pantheon- the Norse is a fantastic way to make sure that you've got a solid foundation and haven't missed anything critical in your work to date. If you haven't yet felt such a call, Morgan Daimler's book is still one to, at a minimum, enlighten you while being an enjoyable read. Beyond the minimum, it might well reveal a path you want to walk down. In either case, this is an easy book to recommend.
~review by Wanderer
Author: Morgan Daimler
John Hunt Publishing / Moon Books, 2022
pp. 152, $ 13.95