The books and essays compiled here are recommended reading based on the views and opinions of the website’s contributors. They are ordered in a progressive format, starting with titles that provide a more basic understanding of the ancient Germanic worldview, followed by ones that are denser and explore concepts more complexly. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and other scholars of ancient Germanic culture and belief may disagree with our choices.
A World Full of Gods: An Inquiry into Polytheism — John Michael Greer
Though not a book on Heathenry specifically, John Michael Greer’s primer on the theology and philosophy surrounding polytheism is essential reading for people new to the concept. A World Full of Gods can be purchased from all major retailers.
The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology — Daniel McCoy
Though Daniel McCoy is a self-proclaimed agnostic, his scholarship on the Vikings has contributed significantly to our understanding of their culture and mythology. In particular, McCoy takes great care to point out the influence of the Christianization of Europe on the sagas and myths. The Viking Spirit can be purchased from all major retailers.
The Tradition of Household Spirits: Ancestral Lore and Practices — Claude Lecouteux
Claude Lecouteux’s book is a thorough and easy-to-read survey of traditional beliefs and practices regarding the home and related spirits. The Tradition of Household Spirits can be purchased from all major retailers.
The Well and the Tree: World and Time in Early Germanic Culture — Paul C. Bauschatz
In his book, Paul C. Bauschautz provides an exploration of the ancient Germanic concepts of the world and time. The Well and the Tree is available as a free PDF here.
The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies — Marcel Mauss
Influenced by Seneca’s On Benefits, Marcel Mauss studies the ancient custom of gift-giving as a transaction forming part of all human, personal relationships between individuals and groups. The Gift can be purchased from Amazon. The Macat analysis of The Gift is also available for purchase from Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and the Google Play store.
Road to Hel: A Study of the Conception of the Dead in Old Norse Literature — Hilda R. Ellis Davidson
In this comprehensive but easy-to-read survey of the Eddas and Sagas, Hilda R. Ellis Davidson explores the concepts of death, the dead, and the afterlife as viewed by the ancient Norsemen. Road to Hel is available as a free PDF here.
The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion — Mircea Eliade
Mircea Eliade’s theory on the nature of religion informs many contemporary pagan traditions’ understanding of sacredness, profanity, and ritual space. The Sacred and the Profane can be purchased from all major retailers.
Beowulf — authors unknown
A primary source, Beowulf is an Old English epic poem that was written down as a manuscript between 975 and 1025 CE. Its actual date of composition is unknown. Of the many different translations, some of our recommendations are Dick Ringler, Seamus Heaney, and Michael Alexander. Beowulf can be purchased from all major retailers.
The Poetic Edda — authors unknown
A primary source, the Poetic Edda is a collection of various poems written anonymously based on the Icelandic Codex Regius. The poems tell a number of Icelandic myths and sagas. Our recommended translations are Jackson Crawford for ease of comprehension, Carolyn Larrington for thoroughness, Lee M. Hollander for the preservation of the poetry, and Henry Adams Bellows for accuracy of translation. The Poetic Edda can be purchased from all major retailers.
The Prose Edda — Snorri Sturluson
A primary source, the Prose Edda was written circa 1220 CE by Snorri Sturluson, a Christian scholar and historian. The book is a compilation of various Icelandic mythologies, with sections on the Norse cosmology and pantheon. Many translations of this book are incomplete, so our recommended translations are Anthony Faulkes for completeness and Jesse Byock as an incomplete, but easy-to-read, introduction. The Prose Edda can be purchased from all major retailers.