Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Paganism With Homework

I've seen the phrase "paganism with homework" when referring to learning about Heathenry. I am beginning to understand why as there is so much information available.

As there is so much to read about, sort through, find references for, and learn a whole new vocabulary on top of everything else that it is much like taking a class on the religion and mythos of Heathenry - home study version. And because it is the home study version, it is hard to know where to begin, what to do with all the incoming information and how to sort through it and keep it straight. (I've been trying to keep a notebook, but it is already pretty thick with the pages that I have printed off from the internet as well as the notes that I have been taking as I read.)

While I started with looking up information on Odin and few other gods, I have recently been delving into the books that contain much of information that is known about the gods. The Poetic Edda (translated by Hollander) is where I have started. I will soon be starting in The Prose Edda followed by a book on Norse Mythology. This should give me a good base; a good starting point. But as I don't know a lot of the terminology, I've had to do a lot of learning as I go. (Internet browser open so that I can type in a word or phrase that isn't explained or write it down in my notebook and look it up later.)

I find it interesting that while not much information of pagan religions have survived the arrival of Christianity, the Norse myths did. I guess it all has to do with timing really, as I have read that the northern countries were more difficult to reach and therefore it wasn't until later that the Germanic people were influenced by Christianity.* Surprisingly, it was Christianity that brought with it the ability to write down the stories of their people that had been passed down orally throughout the ages.*

I'm kinda liking the fact that Heathenry is considered "Paganism with homework."

*Hollander, L.M. (2004). The poetic edda. University of Texas Press: Austin.


Cosette said...

It would have never occurred to me to think of Heathenry as "paganism with homework" because I think of all the pagan religions. I guess that's not a very popular sentiment in this DIY era, but I think all religions demand a lot of study.

Sojourner said...

I would agree that all religions demand a lot of study. I think that to take your religion seriously, you need to study up on its various aspects (beliefs, mythologies, theologies, etc).

I've noticed that many Heathens take their study seriously and are concerned with the source(s) of their information. That is something that is starting to be more common in Paganism in general as well. (And I would say it something that we should be concerned about.)

I think people are starting to move away from "the DIY era" and realize that it is important to know where your information is coming from.

Thanks for your comment, Cosette!

Erik said...

You've probably already seen this recommendation, but anything on the myths by H. R. Ellis-Davidson is worth reading.

Sojourner said...

Erik -I'm sure I've seen the name, but hadn't paid much attention to it. I will look into books by that author. Thanks!

Erik said...

They are somewhat older titles; I think I saw "Myths of the Vikings" on the bargain table at B&N the other day.

Sojourner said...

I will have to check out my local B&N to see if they have it. Bargain books tend to be gone fairly quickly. Thanks!