Discover the untamed paganism of the Vikings and the Germanic tribes prior to the complete Christianization of Europe
• Explores the different forms of magic practiced by these tribes, including runic magic, necromancy (death magic), soul-travel, and shape-shifting
• Examines their rites of passage and initiation rituals and their most important gods, such as Odin, Loki, and Thor
• Looks at barbarian magic in historical accounts, church and assembly records, and mythology as well as an eyewitness report from a 10th-century Muslim diplomat
• Reveals the use and abuse of this tradition’s myths and magic by the Nazis
Before the conversion of Europe to Christianity in the Middle Ages, Germanic tribes roamed the continent, plundering villages and waging battles to seek the favor of Odin, their god of war, ecstasy, and magic. Centuries later, predatory Viking raiders from Scandinavia carried on similar traditions. These wild “barbarians” had a system of social classes and familial clans with complex spiritual customs, from rites of passage for birth, death, and adulthood to black magic practices and shamanic ecstatic states, such as the infamous “berserker’s rage.”
Chronicling the original pagan tradition of free and wild Europe--and the use and abuse of its myths and magic by the Nazis--Hans-Peter Hasenfratz offers a concise history of the Germanic tribes of Europe and their spiritual, magical, and occult beliefs. Looking at historical accounts, church and assembly records, mythology, and folktales from Germany, Russia, Scandinavia, and Iceland as well as an eyewitness report of Viking customs and rituals from a 10th-century Muslim diplomat, Hasenfratz explores the different forms of magic--including charms, runic magic, necromancy, love magic, soul-travel, and shamanic shape-shifting--practiced by the Teutonic tribes and examines their interactions with and eventual adaptation to Christianity. Providing in-depth information on their social class and clan structure, rites of passage, and their most important gods and goddesses, such as Odin, Loki, Thor, and Freyja, Hasenfratz reveals how it is only through understanding our magical barbarian roots that we can see the remnants of their language, culture, and dynamic spirit that have carried through to modern times.
First published in Germany in 1992, this study by Hasenfratz (professor emeritus of the history of religion at Ruhr University and author of German texts on ancient cultures and religion) offers a surprisingly dark picture of the practices of Germanic pagan tribes. During the Roman Empire, the term "German" broadly referred to tribes living outside the boundaries of the empire, including Vikings and Celts. In his examination of historical sources that illuminate this culture, Hasenfratz includes Icelandic sagas and Arabic texts. For example, an Arabic text from 921 A.D. describes a tribe of Viking merchants as "the filthiest of God's creatures," because of their practice of urinating, defecating, and mating in public, and their lack of hygiene. These pre-Christian Germanic tribes lived by marauding, capturing booty (including slaves), and practicing human sacrifices including a practice called "carving the blood eagle," in which a sacrificial victim was hacked to pieces while still alive. Despite their barbarism, Hasenfratz situates the Vikings within Indo-European culture, and suggests that their view of the end of this world and the coming of a new age will resonate with today's new age philosophy.