Firstly, I’ve done my best at all times to be open minded while reading this book. I knew the author was not a scholar, so I kept that fact close at hand while examining his point of view. My overall impression with the author, is that he has a good head on his shoulders, has dealt with struggles in his life and has crafted this work to fulfill a promise to help define the positive aspects he sees in heathenry, to those interested, or those totally outside of the heathen worldview. That does not mean I agree with him at all times, nor does it mean I think his book is amazing.
If you ask me, the book is ok. Its presented in a straight forward manner, and the author doesn’t waste words. This I think is helpful and gets to the heart of his intent. He explicitly states his opposition to many of the negative groups that heathens have had to deal with, especially stating his disgust with racist and prejudice elements that claim to be heathens. This is good, those groups have no historical or academic basis for their filth and it’s good to see someone take the time to throw them out on their rear-ends.
Downsides are plentiful however. The first, is the premise of the book itself. The heathen warrior mindset is too prevalent within heathen groups as it is. Yes, there are people within our communities that may fall under the purview of being a heathen warrior. These folks may find useful thoughts within this book. However, I think the ‘warrior’ nature is overblown, heathens in ancient times were mostly farmers, good citizens, and general people that striven to be good people. The author ties many of these traits into being a good person, that leads to being a good warrior, but I wonder if the focus on warriorhood outside of traditional warrior trades, i.e. soldiers and police, will bring more negative rather than positive aspects to our communities. The author does go on to write a chapter regarding women’s equality in regards to warriorhood, which at least places all people on an equal platform and I do appreciate his view of the importance of gender equality alongside his general view of supporting equality.
Next, the focus on the Nine Noble Virtues as essential heathen cultural values; these virtues do not directly tie into real ancient heathen worldview. Thankfully, the author does recognize this, but still uses them as a basis of analysis for how to behave as a heathen warrior. Alright, on the surface I can follow what his intent, and where he is going by doing this. Some of the stories he tells in relation to his life and dealing with these virtues does show behavior that I think is valuable for a heathen to have, that are in accordance with a heathen worldview. So, though I disagree with the connection to the use of the NNV, I do think there is value to be had in reading his personal stories and how they relate to the NNV. I know that seems schizophrenic, but I do think the underlying purpose of the stories is useful for those struggling with being a heathen, and I think especially good for a heathen that will face war time, or must be a police officer. Let me think of a clear way to state it, I agree with the intent, even if I do not agree with the source used.
The chapter on fighting styles and skills is easily the most helpful and well written chapter. The author makes a clear, excellent point, learning and fully integrating 5-6 fighting skills is more useful in the long run then a cursory familiarity with 100. Learn a style, learn some skills, perfect them, be ready for anything and you will be good to go when you need to use those skills. His use of the RVA technique is also spot on. When at the firing range in the Army, it was this process that helped me shoot well. It’s the process I’ve used before getting into a fight as well. Look, plan, attack. That occurs internally right before it occurs externally, controlling your actions is a heathen ‘virtue’ utilization of minimum force to succeed is essential.
The author doesn’t have a good distinction for several heathen terms that he uses. For example, he conflates orlog with wyrd, which are both complicated words that usually are both translated to luck. Orlog is more the universal laws of the universe than it is personal or familial luck, which it has often been misrepresented as by other heathen authors. He conflates orlog with frith; I don’t blame the author of Heathen Warrior for this, they are deep concepts that are not truly understood by the majority of heathenry. His chapter on the concept is filled with useful, and non-useful material though, it’s difficult to sift through what is what for the less dedicated researcher.
The author continues on with a chapter about magic and its place within the stated warrior tradition he advocates. Suffice it to say, I disagree with much of what the author utilizes as the basis for his point of view. However, I see nothing wrong with others who see some value in his work in this regards. I don’t, but that doesn’t mean I have all the answers, and it doesn’t mean there isn’t some value to those that might desire to see what he says about the topic. For one, the concept of haelu(health and holiness) are important to being a good person and a healthy person, for me, this does include some of what the author here might call magic. He does very accurately state that defining magic is the hardest thing, and will have multiple definitions.
My final thoughts are this. The author of Heathen Warrior does an excellent job of presenting his point of view, then encourages others to disagree if they will. I disagree with much of the nuts and bolts of the book, but I do agree with the Authors intent to get his thoughts and ideas about heathenry into the open. I think he does a good job of accepting that he isn’t an expert and provides an ample amount of time stressing he doesn’t have all the answers to life’s problems. If asked would I purchase the book again? Yes, it’s not expensive, and it’s interesting and the author presents a view of his heathenry, one I might disagree with at times, but I think he is essentially a good person with good intent, even if he gets a lot of the scholastic details wrong.