Review based on the 2010 version
A review of Honey, Grain & Gold by Joshua Tenpenny (with Raven Kaldera, and others) (c) 2010
WARNING: This is NOT an academic book. This work (as warned in the introduction) is UPG. Since I cannot ACADEMICALLY review this book, it’s going to have to be a personal view. I apologize if this offends anyone.
I found this book doing an Amazon search for Frey a couple of weeks ago. After I read Frey, God of the World by Ann Groa, I wanted a book that would contrast or augment her detailed academic based work and balance it out with spiritual devotion and maybe toss in some UPG….
…what I found was essentially a collection of blog posts and excerpts from other work.
I need to say that after I had gotten to the end of chapter 3 (which again the author warns some people might want to skip due to its sexuality), I knew this book was essentially fluff. I rarely use that to attribute to anyone’s work, as I respect everyone’s UPG, but this book makes leaps and assumptions I cannot as an intelligent well read adult recommend.
I need to also point out that this book is a collection of entries from other heathens – most of which are Raven Kaldera, Joshua Tenpenny’s husband/life partner. There are a few entries by Joshua Tenpenny but they’re not heathen-centric. The author and those who contribute the most warn they are NOT heathen, but Neo-Pagan Shamans (with the exception of Krasskova). This is a self-given title with no historic meaning. I personally find the word “Neo-Pagan” to mean “confused”. Look up the word pagan. It’s an EXCLUSION term referring to wild folk no matter what language you use be it Latin or Old Norse.
Normally I just ignore, accept or tolerate other people’s UPG, but how this UPG was obtained, and IMHO without any academic research outside of narcissistic vanity, made me have to balk at the stories in it by Raven Kaldera. I have had no real “connection” the man or anyone he really associates with, but while reading the book a few people I spoke to and reached out to had some not-so-nice things to say about him. The nicest being “fluffy” and the worst being something I cannot say due to possible slander.
Let me point out a few examples..
John Barleycorn. More than once Raven puts this is another name/aspect of Frey. I looked up John Barleycorn on Wiki and Google. It’s a song and an autobiography by Jack London. Neither of which are pagan/heathen. I can only connect it to a barley cake made in the shape of a man after a Celtic end-of-harvest ritual. And a fictional connection to corn dolls made also after the harvest, kept inside during the winter, the basis for The Wicker Man movie. There is a connection to Freyr to the harvest – Lammas – the time of the Harvest, when Freyr is honored many ways (blots, ceremonial plates, etc). And connecting him to the Celtic harvest spirit is something that I can easily see happening, but not the name. I got the feelings Raven and Joshua watched The Wicker Man one night and the name stuck.
Freyr dying and being reborn each year. I searched high and low for a mention of Freyr himself sacrificing his life for the harvest each year and returning in spring. I found none. What I did find was the Yngling dynasty kings, being descended from Freyr (supposedly) being sacrificed by the people if there was drought, famine or a small harvest. This seems like a stretch to me.
God-horse(s). There is a chapter where Raven describes himself projecting through the realms and seeks to speak to Freyr, and is granted audience. He asks Freyr for something but the price is to be Freyr’s horse for a year and a day. So Raven erects a god-pole and Freyr rides him spiritually, but Gerda also wishes a mount, so a female members of the gathering becomes her horse. I can only link this to 1.) Freyr being considered the god of horses and 2.) Freyr’s likeness being taken around in the cart after his death. Again, seems like a stretch.
I’d like to point out that I try to balance academia with literal lore and objectively looking at the lore. It’s really hard with bridges between the three are erected with nothing to really support them. This is the problem many people find with UPG, and I understand it. These are Raven and other’s personal experiences, but when the experience tries to link actions to something that our ancestors did or wrote about in some round-about way, it becomes questionable. I’ve used the example before – about some (unfounded) UPG of Odin sacrificing his eye to see into the future. Odin constantly wanders to gain knowledge. He hung for 9 nights on Yggdrasil to gain the Runes. He sacrificed his eye for a swing of the water at Mimir’s Well for wisdom to temper this knowledge and use it wisely. Some farfetched connection between knowing everything and knowing the future (as he visited the Volva and learned the prophecy from Ragnarok) just does not hold up. Again, I’ve read fiction of (The Morning of Time by Cynthia King) that asserts fiction to bind the myths chronologically that Odin saw the Volva first, and travels the world to gain wisdom how to prevent Ragnarok.
This is a devotional book, which is in the subtitle. The book contains many rituals and recipes (ritual and otherwise) which are handy. Also it contains some beauty poetry. The UPG sections are a mixture of new age spiritual enlightenment and questionable experiences. I am not discounting these, as they are Raven and Joshua’s personal experiences, but the experiences are going to confuse other people. The largest oversight leading this confusion is any lack of a bibliography.
The book is a collection of work from people such as Raven, Joshua, Galina Krasskova and other authors I’ve yet to encounter (mostly the poetry). But reading Raven’s experience and contrasting it to Galina’s (which I agree with about 75% of the time from her blog posts), it’s like reading fiction (on Raven’s part).
Personally, I found the book disappointing. The poems, recipes and rituals are nice, but the rituals have no historical meaning – meaning they’re made up by the author(s). The recipes are actually quite simplistic and the poems well written but if you’re seeking some information about ancient practice, or how it could be adopted or adapted to modern practice, you’ll be disappointed.
It really isn’t the type of balance I was seeking opposite of Ann Groa’s Frey, God of the World.