When I read any book on our religion, or any book for that matter that tries to inform its readers on a given subject, I usually feel as though I am seated back in my college classroom, and that I am being lectured to, or at, by a professor who feels that their views outweigh the balance and integrity of the given subject. Larisa' s book ' Embracing Heathenry ' has a much different feel to it. As you read her book you feel as though you are sitting across a table having a pleasant conversation over a cup of tea. Larisa, in her introduction, tells her readers about her life experience growing up within a rigid religion, and how it has changed her way of analyzing religious thought. With this information in hand you feel as though you know where the author is coming from and why she believes as she does. It gives the book a more intimate feel.
Larisa starts out slow, and speaks in a language and tone that even the newest to our religion can both appreciate and understand. She explains clearly and concisely that our religion is a religion without any set dogma, and that we all must find the path that is best for us to follow. Larisa shows examples of how such basics as a blot, sumbel, or something a simple as a prayer, ( which can be daunting for someone new to our religion ), can be achieved, and never seems to say that it must be done in any particular way or by some agreed upon standard.
The most refreshing part of her book is the fact that she takes us beyond the altar / ritual, and relates to her readers how to live a Heathen life each and every day. She does not do this through borrowed concepts or theories, but through the way she lives her life within the Heathen community every single day. Larisa is a devoted Heathen, wife, mother, and is the Priestess of the Kenaz Kindred in Canada. She fights for the rights of Heathens as part of her daily routine while others simply complain about the concerns we all have as Heathens living in a Christian world. I also very much appreciate that she does not see the Gods and Goddesses only as they are portrayed in the Eddas and the Sagas, but relates them to us as they have come to her throughout her lifetime. Something others are reluctant to do for fear of ridicule.
Larisa has included many photographs in her book that are very " homey" ( sorry that is the word that comes to mind ), and show the readers how they can include crafts, and other homemade items into their overall religious experience. Larisa shows us that honoring the Gods through working with your hands is as wonderful and fulfilling as honoring the Gods with ritual, or with poetry. Larisa also shows how you can honor the Gods through cooking and baking as well, and connects simple everyday life events such as house cleaning with Gods and Goddesses such as Frigga. But that my friends is the premise of her book ' Embracing Heathenry '. It is a " how to book" on how to live everyday as a Heathen and how we can honor the Gods with our everyday actions.
If you are a " warrior type " you may feel that this book is too light on the warrior mentality, and too heavy on the female aspects of our religion. Remember, however, that almost half of our Gods are female, and I am sure that half of all Asatruar are women as well, so she IS speaking to a large audience. Actually the only two problems I have with the book have little or nothing to do with the author, Larisa Hunter, or her views on our religion . First, I feel the price $ 20.99 is a little steep for a soft cover book. And second, I felt that the editing could have been a little tighter. The word spacing is a little strange on a couple of pages and I did find a few letters missing as I was reading the text. These problems do not affect the content, and can be corrected in future printings.
Overall her book is a wonderful addition to our Heathen library, and I feel that anyone, newcomer, or experienced Asatruar, can find something to add to their personal database of knowledge through reading its pages. Larisa has also included works and articles by Michaela Macha, ( our great Heathen Skald ), Michael Schutz, Steffanie Snyder, Thorskegg Thorn, and Mary Joe Lovering, which adds to the readers overall experience. My advice to my readers is to buy this book and embrace your Heathenry by living it everyday !
Go with Odin' s wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !