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If you haven't read Paul Kingsnorth's The Wake yet, you should. (You can read my review of it here.)

Imagine that you've lost everything: your property, your possessions, your family, your culture itself, even your very gods. This is the tale that Kingsnorth tells in The Wake. The year is 1066.

In despair, the novel's protagonist, Buccmaster, calls to the Old Gods for succour.

And lo! one of the Old Gods hears: hears and and answers.

One of English literature's fresh new voices, Kingsnorth has been a lifelong eco-activist, though in recent years, despairing of the possibility of reversing the momentum of ecocide, he has come to refer to himself as a “recovering environmentalist”. (“Environmentalism is the catalytic convertor on the silver SUV of the global economy,” he wrote in a 2017 essay.)

He's also a pagan—or was. “Call me a heathen,” he writes in “In the Black Chamber,” his striking essay on the Palaeolithic art-cave at Niaux and the nature of the sacred, adding parenthetically, “I'd take it as a compliment.” His collection of Green Men watch him as he writes. For a while, he was active in Alexandrian Wicca. (English by birth, he now lives in Ireland where, as I gather, Alexandrians are thick on the ground.)

Hence my surprise (and disappointment) to learn that he was recently baptized into (of all things) the Romanian Orthodox Church.

(His baptism, aptly enough, took place in one of Ireland's sacred rivers, the River Shannon: a more “Nature”-adjacent initiation than anything that most pagan groups have on offer, I suspect.)

“In 2020, as the world was turned upside down, so was I. Unexpectedly, and initially against my will, I found myself being pulled determinedly towards Christianity,” he said. “I started the year as an eclectic neo-pagan with a long-held, unformed ache in my heart, and ended it a practicing Christian.”

There, he found, the “ache” was “gone and replaced by the thing that, all along, I turned out to have been looking for.”

My heart hurts to hear his words, but I understand them.

Organized religion has a lot to offer that (let's be frank here) the paganisms mostly don't: stability, depth, commitment to community, a sense of continuity.

But in Kingsnorth's case, I suspect that the roots run even more deeply.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Retitled Books

When a major publisher publishes a new edition of a book that was previously self published or published with a minor publisher, the new publisher often retitles the book. There are two main reasons for that: firstly because book titles are a marketing tool and in the new digital age every word in the title is an important keyword and search term; secondly, to prevent confusion on the part of readers over which edition they are buying. The key word, pardon the pun, in this concept is "edition" meaning something that is edited. A new edition and a new title imply that the book has been changed, hopefully for the better, and the new edition is not just a reprint. It's important for my readers to know that Asatru For Beginners is the old book and Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path is the new book.

Here is a list of pagan and heathen books that have been retitled. This list was crowdsourced via my social media and my forum, the Asatru Facebook Forum. Many thanks to all who contributed to the list or pointed me in the right direction so I could research the complete titles and names.

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Answering Questions About My New Book Part 2

Here are some more questions and answers about my new book Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path, and about me and my other books and projects. This book is the ONLY official, authorized new version of my out-of-print book Asatru For Beginners.

With that out of the way, here are some more of the questions and answers. Part 1 of this 2 part series ran last weekend.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



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Project for Awesome is a charitable initiative to "decrease world suck."  Online content providers upload videos speaking about their favourite charities and non-profits, then people vote on the videos that represent the projects that they want P4A to support.  So I made a video for National Novel Writing Month!  If you want to vote for my video you can do so HERE; if you want to support NaNoWriMo and vote for all their videos at Project for Awesome you can do so HERE; and if you want to donate to P4A or submit a video you can do so HERE.  Please support these great charities!  You can only vote or donate this weekend, so please don't delay if you're going to!  Thanks.

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My first book signing!  Photo by Chiri Peterson.  Used by permission.

My first book signing! Photo by Chiri Peterson. Used by permission.

Updated from Between the Shadows, November 22, 2014:

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