Review: Elves, Wights, and Trolls: Studies Towards the Practice of Germanic Heathenry, Vol. 1

First, a caveat, I have had the pleasure of conversing with the author via Facebook, so the following will probably seem more than a little biased, having said that, though:

Buy this book. Right now.

If you have any interest in the “lesser” wights: alfs, dwarves, trolls, etins, land-wights, sea-wights, etc. ANY interest at all, you NEED this book in your library!

This book is, as the title suggests, about elves, wights, and trolls. It is broken up into several chapters, each covering a different sort of being: earth-wights, etins, rises, and thurses, water-wights, light and dark alfs, and svartalfs (dwarves), respectively. In addition to containing a wealth of information regarding these various beings, Gundarsson includes chapters on finding wights, changelings, and rites that one can use should one wish to contact a wight or an alf (with all the usual warnings suggestions for how to minimize the risk of Bad Things happening, which is never a sure thing with these entities). Also included are two appendices, one on the concept of “Mother Earth” in Heathenry, and the other a translation of the “Berg-Dweller’s Song, in which a giant speaks of his kin and his travels.

This book is packed with useful information, not only from Snorri’s Eddas, but from folklore and folk-customs, in this book, you will learn the following:

  • That Freyja is associated with hemp
  • Information regarding etin-cults
  • The giantess who attacks a man by projectile -vomiting on him
  • How alfs are like and unlike the sidhe (for one thing, it is usually okay to eat the food they give you, apart from special cases, don’t accept beer from trolls)
  • Protocol for dealing with alfar and wights

There’s so much material in this short book that I couldn’t possibly cover all of it in such a short amount of time. Seriously, Gundarsson knows his stuff. He has a PhD. in Germanic Studies and taught at Uppsala University. In fact, Elves, Wights, and Trolls is very “academic” in style. (In fact, one of the complaints I’ve seen most often regarding this book is that it’s hard to read.) I found it to be accessible, but of course, I spent five years at two universities reading stuffy academic books. Suffice it to say that at times he can come across as long-winded, but I’ve read much, much worse. The tone of the book reminds me of a group of university students sitting down for an intellectual discussion per the prompting of a patient university professor.

If I had one teeny tiny miniscule quibble, it would be that he consistently does not capitalize the term “Christian” which, as a student of religious studies, is…kind of annoying. I could waste time speculating on the reasons why he does this, but I will just say that, even if you have, shall we say, issues, with a particular faith, it’s just good grammar to capitalize names of religions and religious terms.

But this is, as I said, a minor quibble in a book full of awesome. Buy yourself a copy, read it, love it, follow its advice (especially if you’re thinking about working with wights). Oh, and for those of you who really need to know, there’s lots of lore in this book, the author recounts his own experiences, but in a passing manner.

Seriously, why are you still reading this? Go and buy this book from your favourite retailer. I know I didn’t give you a lot of information about it, just trust me on this one, it’s an awesome book, and I’ve seen too many people ask things like “How do I start a relationship with my housewight? What kinds of offerings do I give them?” or, one I asked not too long ago “Is Ran’s hall really a bad place to go?” (Yes, this question is actually answered in the book.)

Okay, seriously, this book, buy it, save up for it, it’s worth it.

7 thoughts on “Review: Elves, Wights, and Trolls: Studies Towards the Practice of Germanic Heathenry, Vol. 1

  1. I just got this book myself, but haven’t cracked it open yet. Got too much other stuff to read at the moment, but I’m looking forward to it.

  2. I too am a bit biased, the same bias as you – having the good fortune of many many conversations with the author. I actually got the book from him and cannot count how many times I have read, and referenced it. I am reblogging this one!

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