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Friday, August 18, 2017

Baldr's Magic - Nicholas E. Brink, Ph. D.

Through the use of special postures inspired by ancient carved figurines and ecstatic trance, Brink has discovered the history and lives of his ancestors, as well as new tales of the Vanir, the gods that came before the Aesir.

Part One, entitled The Universal Mind contains chapters one through three. The first explains The Lost Power of the Nordic People as they've lost their connection with the earth mother, the second discusses the use and The Powers of Ecstatic and Hypnotic Trance, and chapter three explains the Nordic Postures and what they are used for.

In Part Two, The Lives of the Ancient Ones contains five chapters that contain detailed accounts of the author's journeys. Communing with the Ancestors explains the process before delving into four eras of his experience: The Era of the Mother Goddess,
The Transition, The Warrior and His Family, and Baldr's Rebirth.

Part Three, Myths and Beliefs of the Ancient Ones, contains a brief explanation on The Origins of the Gods before continuing on into the revelations he had in ecstatic trance that he chooses to call The Lost Edda of the Vanir, and finally concludes with The Teachings of the Vanir.

In the Epilogue he tells the reader that the age of Baldr and the Great Mother has come.

The prologue's title Our Relationship to the Great Mother should have been a warning sign to me, but even after reading the prologue itself I willingly forged on. When I got to chapter 1 I fully realized where the author was going when he referred to books like The Mayan Code by Clow and authors like Marija Gimbutas. At this point I realized that there will be very little reference to evidence we have the Norse tradition and the author would be providing everything in a new age interpretation. Chapter 2 explains how ecstatic and hypnotic trance work and gives many examples of his own work and that with clients. In chapter 3 the author takes figurines found in various areas and creates postures from these figurines, adding his own commentary on how he found each best to use.

Chapter 4 is simply an explanation of how the process works. Chapter 5 talks about his experiences with ancestors that lived in a "Mother Goddess" era, which I find it important to note we have no evidence for in this area. Chapter 6 explores the transition between this theoretical earth-based worship and the warrior-based society. In chapter 7, the author erroneously concludes because of his trance work that a wife in a warrior society was "essentially that of a servant, and she is used sexually by her husband, with little identity beyond that function", which is counter to evidence we have of many Nordic areas found in Eddas, Sagas, and Grey Goose laws. As well as further evidence provided by records of Moslems* and Christians, who balked at how the Northern Europeans treated their women compared to their own societies. While this may have been true in other areas, this is not true for the culture in which he claims to have been exploring. In chapter 8, Brink presents his reinterpretation of the story of Baldr's death and suggests his rebirth has already happened and we are living in this age now. He is the bridge to another era of "The Great Mother" Móðir, completely leaving out her husband Faðir from Rígsþula of the Poetic Edda to which he refers.

Chapter 9's brief explanation of the gods, their genealogy, and culture is decent. And most of the stories he receives in trance for chapter 10 are not objectionable in and of themselves. However, it becomes even more obvious in these chapters that he has an agenda with long citations referencing Vanir and particular events about them, while ignoring explanations and stories of Aesir. Anybody who is unfamiliar is left with incredibly one-sided views and those who are familiar will at the very least raise an eyebrow at these choices. And in many points he makes statements that simply aren't true. He states that the Aesir did not have magic, Seidr, which we know is not true as there is a tale of Odin being side-eyed for his practice in exactly that. He chooses to acknowledge the goddess Móðir while simultaneously failing to mention her husband Faðir, as this would ruin his explanation of her as the "Great Mother/Goddess". He makes conjecture that people walked around with what he basically describes as a "Venus of Willendorf", which there is no evidence. This particular conjecture I found confusing when in chapter 3 he refers to images that were actually found in the Northern European areas.

Looking at the Notes (citations) and Bibliography provided at the end of the book shows an abundance of psychological and new age texts and only a few references to primary sources or even secondary sources when it comes to actual Nordic beliefs. This work is obviously agenda-driven by the "Great Mother" theory and it is done poorly by only choosing the positive aspects of female Vanir and ignoring that of the Aesir and male Vanir, as well as engaging in rampant cherry-picking throughout his entire book.

I would not recommend this for anybody due to the amount of inaccuracy.

Source Materials
Prose Edda
Poetic Edda

Recommended Reading:
Roles of the Northern Goddess - Dr Hilda Ellis Davidson
Everyday Life in the Viking Age - Jacqueline Simpson
Nordic Religions in the Viking Age - Thomas DuBois

*Spelling due to the time period in which these were written

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