I originally published this on Amazon.com in review of the book and shared that review on AAA’s Facebook.
Based on the advanced digital copy provided to AAA by the author for review and consideration.
Bryan Wilton is an 8-state folkbuilder for the AFA – a Folkish Asatru nationwide organization. I run the American Asatru Association – a fledgling Universalist-Asatruar group. We have different ideologies and opinions, so I will review this book on merit and what I felt when I read it.
I was given a digital copy of this by the author, as we are professional friends and he supports what I do with my group and I go to him often with questions and advice. Bryan is an intelligent man and author and very devout to the cause he belongs. His opinions and advice mean a lot to me, as I have gone to him regarding Lokeans and other Heathen issues. Even though I do not agree with his level of devotion to speak out against Loki and Lokeans, I can take what I need from his advice and see where he is coming from.
Loki is a book not written on academia but on experience. Like Bryan, I have come across Lokeans and Rokkatru people who are a bit “edgy” and narcissistic. He uses the word “fringe” and if you encounter these type of Lokeans, they would be considered “fringe”. I know many who are extremely intelligent, helpful and have earned my respect. But like all groups within groups, they have extremes. Some Odinists are misogynists, some Thorsmen are He-Man macho types, and many of all groupings have racist/racial issues. Many heathens consider racist and folkish to go hand in hand, which is incredibly wrong. Loki focuses on the issues of good and evil in Asatru, focusing on Loki as an evil figure.
While reading this book, and speaking to Bryan, I felt he was writing this on his personal beliefs and experience at gatherings and in social media. Lokeans generally stick to their own groups and Universalists groups and find themselves mocked, belittled and chased out (or even shunned) from Folkish gatherings. The Troth has them in separate areas on their gatherings, the AFA forbids mentioning him at celebrations, many Folkish kindreds (AFA or not) shun Lokeans or Rokkatruars. They all speak from “experience” with the Lokeans and with the god himself, Loki. Almost all of these arguments (including this book) are based on one thing – Snorri Sturluson’s portrayal of Loki. There’s mention of Tacitus and Saxo, both being biased authors. Snorri was an Icelandic poet, patriot and Christian. He had a love of collecting the stories of his people, but he was still Christian and elements where written into his work(s). The introduction to the Prose Edda (aka Snorri’s Edda) basically says that the tribes became lost and forgot of God (Christian God) and made up their own gods and ways. The mention of Loki’s children – Jormungand, Fenrir and Hel tend to be very shallow as no other academic source was used to form an opinion. Fenrir is the victim of a circular self-fulfilling prophecy, Hel is tasked with an extremely important task – the care of the dead who come from sickness and old age and Jormungand is basically ignored. Sleipnir isnt mentioned anywhere, and he’s the child of Loki and an “evil” giant. Yet Sleipnir is vital in Odin’s travels and Hermod’s journey to Helheim to retrieve Baldr from Hel’s realm.
The other sections involving ego do have merit – we’re human beings, ego is part of us. As humans we create our own issues and since Asatru and Northern European religious practice is fractured and being reconstructed, we tend to ignore the modern and favor the ancient, which is a true shame. Modern is mostly labeled (negatively) as “fluffy” or “Wiccan” or “UPG” and mocked by many Heathens.
The AFA does publish much material involving Asatruar and Heathen subjects but their practice mostly reflects on Snorri and other non-Heathen ancient author’s works. This is different interpretation of works adopted by many groups/kindreds. Is it wrong? Many would disagree, but who doesn’t disagree regarding religions?
The problem here is Bryan labels ALL Lokeans with issues – essentially calling them and Loki unworthy. This is the problem many heathens have as much Loki academia is NOT in English and many Heathens in America do not read/write/speak any other language.
This book offers nothing new academic – sources from H R Ellis Davidson’s Road to Hel and the Eddas. To compile an opinion based on the most basic of work speaks much of this work. I enjoyed the book, it reflects someone’s experience with the “fringe” element of what the author considers a “fringe” element. Using this logic, racist Odinists can be considered “fringe” elements of a “fringe” element (religion); as not all Odinists are racist, or Folkish.
I would recommend this book to anyone of the same mindset and beliefs as Bryan Wilton, American-Folkish and the AFA. Universalist-Asatruars, Pagans, Eclectic Pagans, Lokeans and Rokkatruars are going to dismiss it or openly condemn it as it really doesnt delve into modern information from peer-reviewed academic sources to draw an informed academic opinion. But as I stated, this book is not academic, but someone’s opinion based on experience.