Ásatrú and Reincarnation


Ian Stevenson's Reincarnation and Biology

History of the Doctrine of Reincarnation

Orlaw and the Future

Attachment: The Destruction of the Germanic Religion in England


Interea videt Aeneas in valle reducta
seclusum nemus et virgulta sonantia silvae,
Lethaeumque domos placidas qui praenatat amnem.

Now, in a secret vale, Aeneas sees
A sep'rate grove, through which a gentle breeze
Plays with a passing breath, and whispers through the trees;
Before the tranquil dwellings in the wood,
The river Lethe glides in silent flood.

Hunc cirum innumerae gentes populique volabant,
ac veluti in pratis ubi apes aestate serena
floribus insidunt variis et candida circum
lilia funduntur, strepit omnis murmure campus.

About the boughs an airy nation flew,
Thick as hummingbees that hunt the golden dew,
In summer's heat on tops of lilies feed,
And creep within their bells, to suck the balmy seed:
The winged army roams the fields around;
The rivers and the rocks remurmur to the sound.

Horrescit visu subito causasque requirit
inscius Aeneas, quae sint ea flumunia porro,
quive viri tanto complerint agmine ripas.

Aeneas, wond'ring, stood, then asked the cause
Which to the stream the crowding people draws.

Tum pater Anchises: "Animae, quibus altera fato
corpora debentur, Lethaei ad fluminis undam
securos latices et longa oblivia potant.

Anchises, then (his father): "The souls that throng the flood
Are those to whom, by fate, are further bodies owed:
In Lethe's lake they long oblivion taste,
Of future life secure, forgetful of the past.

Has equidem memorare tibi atque ostendere coram, jampridem hanc prolem cupio enumerare meorum,
quo magis Italia mecum laetere reperta."

Long has my soul desired this time and place,
To set before your sight your glorious race,
That this presaging joy may fire your mind
To seek the shores by destiny designed."

"O pater, anne aliquas ad caelum hinc ire putandum est
sublimis animas iterumque ad tarda reverti
corpora? Quae lucis miseris tam dira cupido?"

"O father, can it be, that souls sublime
Return to visit our terrestrial clime,
And that the noble mind, released by death,
Can covet lazy limbs and mortal breath?"

"Dicam equidem nec te suspensum, nate, tenebo,"
suscipit Anchises atque ordine singula pandit.

Anchises then, in order, thus begun
to clear those wonders to his godlike son:

"Principio caelum ac terram camposque liquentis
lucentemque globum lunae Titaniaque astra
spiritus intus alit, totamque infusa per artus
mens agitat molem et magno se corpore miscet.

"Know, first, that heaven, and earth's compacted frame,
And flowing waters, and the sun-god's flame,
And, too, the lunar light, one common Soul
Inspires and feeds, and animates the whole.
This active Mind, infused through all the space,
Unites and mingles with the mighty mass.

Inde hominum pecudumque genus vitaeque volantum
et quae marmoreo fert monstra sub aequore pontus.

Hence men and beasts the breath of life obtain,
And birds of air, and monsters of the main.

Igneus est ollis vigor et caelestis origo
seminibus, quantum non corpora noxia tardant
terrenique hebetant artus moribundaque membra.

Th' ethereal vigor is in all the same,
And every soul is filled with equal flame
Insofar as earthy limbs, and gross allay
Of mortal members, subject to decay,
Blunt not the beams of heav'n and edge of day.

Hinc metuunt cupiuntque, dolent gaudentque, neque auras
dispiciunt clausae tenebris et carcere caeco.

From this coarse mixture of terrestrial parts,
Desire and fear by turns possess their hearts,
And grief, and joy; nor can the groveling mind,
In the dark dungeon of the limbs confined,
descry its native skies, or own its heavenly kind:

Quin et supremo cum lumine vita reliquit,
non tamen omne malum miseris nec funditus omnes
corporeae excedunt pestes, penitusque necesse est
multa diu concreta modis inolescere miris.

Nor death itself can wholly wash their stains;
But long-contracted filth e'en in the soul remains.
The relics of inveterate vice they wear,
And spots of sin obscene in every face appear.

Ergo exercentur poenis veterumque malorum
supplicia expendunt: aliae panduntur inanes
suspensae ad ventos, aliis sub gurgite vasto
infectum eluitur scelus aut exuritur igni:

For this are various penances enjoined:
And some are hung to bleach upon the wind,
Some plunged in waters, others purged in fires,
Till all the dregs are drained, and all the rust expires.

quisque suos patimur manis. Exinde per amplum
mittimur Elysium et pauci laeta arva tenemus,

We all have our souls, and those souls we bear:
We few, so cleansed, to these abodes repair,
And breathe, in pleasant fields, the soft Elysian air.

Donec longa dies, perfecto temporis orbe,
concretam exemit labem, purumque relinquit
aetherium sensum atque aurai simplicis ignem.

Then are they happy, when by cycle of time
The scurf is worn away of each committed crime;
No speck is left of their habitual stains,
The pure ether of the soul alone remains.

Has omnis, ubi mille rotam volvere per annos,
Lethaeum ad fluvium deus evocat agmine magno,

When a thousand years circling their wheel are past,
(So long their punishments and penance last,)
Whole droves of minds are, by the driving god,
Compelled to drink the deep Lethæan flood,

scilicet immemores supera ut convexa revisant
rursus, et incipiant in corpora velle reverti."

In large forgetful draughts to steep the cares
Of their past labors, and their irksome years,
That, unrememb'ring of its former pain,
The soul may enter mortal flesh again."

- The Aeneid (published 19 B.C.), Book Six, vv. 703-751
by Publius Vergilius Maro
(Translation by John Dryden, 1631-1700,
with some minor modernizing alterations)


In the year 625 of the current era, King Edwin of Northumbria, a great king who had recently recovered his throne and united his kingdom, attributed his success to the Christian god and introduced the foreign religion of this Mediterranean deity into England. Lapsing from the old Germanic gods of Woden, Thunar and Tew, Edwin had married a Christian woman. His wife brought from Kent a priest, Paulinus, who began to influence Edwin to full conversion to Christianity. The king was soon persuaded to compel all Northumbrians to follow him into the new faith.

It was the Northumberland-born Christian historian Bede (the "Venerable" Bede, ca. 672-734 C.E.) writing a century later, who wrote (see Attachment) that, at a council of wise men which Edwin had convoked to decide how to impose the new religion on the people, the heathen priest, Coifi, himself rejected the traditional gods, claiming that they had not rewarded him for his service to them. This former follower of Woden then allegedly destroyed the gods' temple himself. Since Bede was not an eyewitness of Edwin's doings, he constructed a literary "docudrama" out of some pagan elements such as the sanctity of the heathen temple and its environs, the casting of a spear, idols, shamanic frenzy and the like to portray a heathen priest desecrating and burning his own temple. Bede may have taken his cue from the scene in Vergil's Aeneid in which the pagan priest, Laocoon, and his sons are strangled by divinely sent serpents. The serpents could have symbolized, to Bede, the deadly coils of heathendom. He may also have used the scene in which the Trojan king Priam was slain on an altar which he himself had consecrated, the king then polluting it with his own blood. The difference, to Bede, would have been that in this case the heathen priest survived by turning to the "true" god while still polluting the altar he had consecrated.

In attempting to make Edwin's power play even more acceptable to his readers, Bede further writes that some unknown character (in reality perhaps Bede himself), arguing for adoption of the southern religion, likened a human life to the flight of a sparrow which, during an icy winter storm, gains entrance to a warm, well-lighted royal mead hall during a feast, flies from one to the other end of the hall and there disappears back into the frigid night. According to this argument, the traditional Germanic religion gave no inkling of the bird's - or soul's - fate outside of the hall representing this life, whereas in contrast Christianity promised assured knowledge of whence we come and whither we go.

Now the pre-Christian religion of the Germanic peoples was shamanic, as that of many other peoples of the circumpolar regions. Its chief god was named, in Old English, Woden, in Old Norse, Odin, in Old High German, Wotan. All of these forms of the name are derived from the Gothic Wodans, which means "Lord of those who are woths (shamanically possessed)," or more simply, "Lord of the Shamans." (1) The place and time of the fixation of this term were on the Russian and Ukrainian steppes, then known to the Mediterranean peoples as Scythia, around 200 C.E, when the Goths controlled this area. This powerful nation ("Geats" in English or, better, "Yeats" [rhyming with "greats"]) was held in great esteem by all of the other early Germanic peoples. And so it was the Gothic term for the great supernatural being who induced the frenzied warrior state in their berserkr warriors which became the primary designation for him in the other Germanic languages. Other names and epithets, both older and younger, continued to be used for the god - even, for instance, "the Goth" (Gaut, Yeat) -, but the fact that Wodans was the high god shows the primacy of shamanism in all Germanic societies.

Shamanism is a religious complex in which a religious specialist, the shaman, enters into an altered state of consciousness permitting him (or her) to leave the body and travel to the abode of the dead or, conversely, to allow souls of the dead (and other spirits) to possess the shaman's body.

Thus our ancestors cultivated the active relationship with the dead quite intensely. And it is accordingly obvious that Bede's implication of heathen ignorance of existence beyond this life is a lie. A pious lie, but still a lie. One of the great many that have been perpetrated on our people by Christianity. Naturally, Christianity brought writing, a sophisticated (even though false) theological structure, and political organization, and so had a natural advantage over heathendom. But its basis was a tissue of lies and propaganda in times when truth was defined not as objective reality but as whatever people could be convinced of by any means.

Today the falsehoods of Christianity lie exposed to all open-minded people, despite the frenzied attempts of its backers to regain their lost power. Interestingly, the most learned theologians of the larger Christian churches no longer believe in the literal resurrection of their own god, Jesus. They spend their time "reinterpreting" the myths of the Christian Gospels for their flocks of unthinking sheep. But, like Bede's Coifi, they themselves no longer believe in what they are doing. We know further that Christianity, with all of its guilt mechanisms, has no answers at all to the questions of what lies beyond this life: of whither the soul-bird goes when it exits the royal mead hall of life. For these answers we must return to our ancient shamanic roots: to Ásatrú.

Yet since the Christians have done such a thorough job of extinguishing our traditional faith, we need to avail ourselves of modern scientific research, depth psychology and parapsychology to recover our lost ground.

Ian Stevenson's Reincarnation and Biology

An excellent tool in this endeavor is the work, published in April 1997, by Ian Stevenson, MD, Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects.(2) Dr. Stevenson, who teaches at the University of Virginia, has worked with many different colleagues in various countries for 20 years. The cultures from which his many cases are drawn are mainly those in which reincarnation is an accepted part of the world view. Specifically, his cases are mainly from Burma, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Turkey (especially its southern portion), Lebanon, black Africa, and the Amerinds of southeastern Alaska (Tlingit, Haida, etc.). He lists (p. 11) a total of 536 cases which he has investigated, although by no means all of these are detailed in his work.

While reincarnation is reported everywhere, it is often repressed by the surrounding culture, or dismissed as unprovable according to many points of view, even though the individual who asserts he or she is reincarnated is able to give many independently verifiable statements. The great merit of Dr. Stevenson's work is that he provides detailed reports, complete with photographs of unusual birthmarks and birth defects, which can be correlated with autopsy reports and other evidence describing the nature and position of fatal wounds on the bodies of dead people of whom the assertedly reborn persons claim to be a reincarnation.

Stevenson suggests that what is reborn is not a soul's personality, which obtains during a given lifetime, but its individuality, which is much more comprehensive. The individuality contains all of the soul's memories and capabilities, while the personality represents only a small selection of these in active use during a specific life.

The author lists (vol. 1, pp. 8ff.) the following elements frequently (but not always) occurring in cases of reincarnation:

  1. Prediction of rebirth by an elderly person before death.
  2. Announcing dreams (usually to one of the parents of the subject to be reborn).
  3. Birthmarks and birth defects.
  4. Statements the subject makes about the previous life.
    1. Early age of the subject's first speaking about the previous life he appears to remember.
    2. Age of no longer speaking spontaneously about the previous life.
    3. Frequent mention of mode of death in the previous life.
  5. Recognitions by the subject of persons, places, and objects with which the previous personality was familiar.
  6. Frequent occurrence of violent death in previous lives remembered.
  7. Unusual behavior on the part of the subjects.
    1. Phobias (and aversions).
    2. Philias (special preferences).
    3. Play (which often reproduces the previous personality's vocation or pre-death moments).
    4. Sexual precocity and gender dysphoria (sexual advances toward mates of the previous personality;  for those who remember previous lives as members of the opposite sex, dress and behavior characteristic of the opposite sex rather than of one's own).
    5. Untaught skills (least frequent).

There are many striking elements revealed by Dr. Stevenson. To begin with, there seems to be a tendency to become reincarnated within the same region in which one died. Rarely is there a reincarnation beyond a distance of, say, 100 miles. For instance, he reports the reincarnation of some Japanese soldiers and English and American airmen who died in World War II, as Burmese. Some cases are drastically striking: some Burmese and Indians who recall former lives as Englishmen or Americans are albinos with blond hair and roundish eyes (cf. Part V, "Abnormalities of Pigmentation," in Vol. II).

On the selection of one's parents, the author's research leads him to the view (II, 2080) that in most cases disembodied souls have no choice in the matter of their rebirth. They must simply take whatever body becomes available. Still, this may not always be so, he thinks. In same-family cases and in those in which there has been friendship between the families concerned, it appears that the power of love is involved. Indeed, he says (II, 2080, footnote 11), "personal attachments, by which I mean emotional bonds between family members, seem to me stronger in the countries with a high incidence of reported cases [of reincarnation] than in those with a lower incidence." (He adds that this area should be studied in greater depth.)

Stevenson goes on to mention that there are a few cases in which voluntary, directed selection of one's future parents seems to happen, and suggests that some of the Tibetan lamas may achieve this.

In addition to love as a factor drawing us as bodiless souls to certain parents, physical location also plays a role (II, 2081): "A number of persons seem to become "entrapped" and remain in a discarnate existence near where they died until some appropriate, although involuntary, parent comes along." He also mentions (ibid.): "[w]e have also studied a few cases in which the discarnate personality seemed unable to leave his or her dead body. Instead, as the subject later remembered, he or she followed the body as it was carried or moved from place to place. Parents who approach such a body may be at risk for having a child who remembers the life of the body's previous tenant."

Here it may be appropriate to refer to the New Testament narrative of Jesus' exorcism of the "legion" of "demons" from a possessed man who lived naked among the tombs of the Gerasenes (Mark 5,1-20; Luke 8,26-39). We can now see that the "demons" must actually have been discarnate souls unable to leave the immediate neighborhood of their deceased bodies, which were, of course, in the tombs. That is why they kept the man there. They also kept him naked, so as the more easily to enter his body and possess it.

Further, there is Arabic traveler Ibn Fadlan's account of the funeral ceremony and cremation of a Germanic heathen chieftain in 921 C.E. among the Rus (Rôþs, meaning "rowers," i.e., of the Viking longships) of the Volga in Russia (Rôþs-ia). When the time for the actual cremation itself came, the chief's nearest kinsman took a lighted brand and, naked, walked backward to the funeral pyre holding his hand on his anus. The nakedness, again, was to let the currents of the inframind, the otherworld, flow through him and guide him. He walked backward in order to avoid viewing the dead chief's body, which might have subconsciously invited the lord's disembodied soul to reincarnate as the kinsman's child. It was almost certainly for the same reason that the kinsman covered his anus with his hand as he walked backward: to prevent the chieftain's soul from entering his body through that orifice and being reborn through him.

Ibn Fadlan's report, thus, is indirect testimony to the ancient Germanic belief in reincarnation.

Finally, Dr. Stevenson's surmise about the powerful role of love in the selection of new parents also implies its converse: we will likely not be born among those we dislike. Hence, for example, a White liberal who hates his own race (this is the true core of liberalism) and prefers non-whites to his own flesh and blood has a good chance of being reborn as a non-white. In such a case, the hatred of one's own kind would produce the same effect as the "geographical entrapment" did in the cases of American and British airmen who were reborn as South Asians.

Stevenson does not find any truly persuasive cases in which humans claim to be reborn animals. (Some south Asians hold that human-to-animal or animal-to-human rebirth does occur.) There is at least one case (I, 811), however, in which such a claim plays a small role. There was a Thai woman, Daw ("Ms.") Tin Yee (born 1934 March 16), who remembered the life of a previous personality as her great aunt, Daw Thon (1881-1928). Daw Tin Yee's mother was Daw Thon's niece, Daw Pu Lay. And the latter alleged that her daughter had had "a short intermediate life as a water buffalo (in the same series of incarnations) between the death of Daw Thon and Daw Tin Yee's birth. This supposition of an intermediate life rested largely on two dreams had by an acquaintance who had died by the time [Stevenson and his colleague] investigated this case."

Stevenson reports shortly thereafter (I, 813) that this water buffalo incarnation was held to be a punishment for a "peccadillo" (in the Buddhist belief system) which Daw Thon had committed. He comments (ibid.): "I will add, however, that a few other cases support the belief that what we expect will happen to us after death does happen." He repeats this thought many times throughout his work. In footnote 29 of II, 2076, for instance, he suggests that cultural beliefs act as "posthypnotic suggestions" causing or preventing certain reincarnational phenomena.

To understand, in a wider context, the nature of what Dr. Stevenson reports, two preliminaries should be explained. The first is the interpretation of nature which was first put forward by the British biologist and philosopher Rupert Sheldrake. (3) This view, which he calls "formative causation," states that everything - atoms, people, the earth, etc. - is made up of memories of shape and behavior ("morphic fields"). An electron maintains its spin and charge by remembering its past actions and those of its twins, the other electrons throughout the universe. Natural "laws" are thus actually habits. Very strong habits, to be sure, but still just a form of memory. Life is a form of matter which can increase its store of memories and rearrange them, that is, learn. A soul (Greek psyche, Latin anima) is a memory complex. Evolution as a whole is a learning (and also a forgetting) process. It proceeds not by slow and haphazard accidents of genetics, but by the sudden "insight" of the group soul of a portion of a species into the best way to fit into an available ecological niche. In other words, by sudden leaps to new life forms - forms based on the ancestral forms and behavior, but subsuming and transcending them. Moreover, the soul is the form of the body, its "morphogenetic" or "morphic" field, in Sheldrake's words. (I have greatly condensed Sheldrake's views in preparation for explaining Stevenson's work on reincarnation.)

Secondly, there is the fact that what normally empowers the deeper levels of awareness is slower brainwave frequency and lower brainwave amplitude. Here it is important to note that it is not the fast beta-brainwave (ca. 14-30 cycles per second) of standard, attentive, waking consciousness which makes possible awareness of information from the deep brain and the unconscious. Rather, it is the slower brainwaves, that is alpha, (8-13 c/s), theta (4-7 c/s) or even delta (1/2-3 c/s), with their attendant lower amplitude, in which the deep memories and other unconscious information rise to the surface of awareness. Thus, conditions such as sleep, idleness, and the still immature brains of children are more likely to allow this to happen.

Lowered brainwave frequency is also what enables Near-Death Experiencers, dreamers and meditators on occasion to encounter the mystical symbolism and total memories of their own beings. ("Deficient brain oxygen" may play a triggering role in a minority of such cases, but it is utterly inadequate as an explanation of these experiences.) And above all, it is precisely in the earliest stage of zygotic and fetal life when brainwave frequency is extremely slow, although developing. This would put the developing organism into a ideal state for influence (or "possession") by a still discarnate soul looking for a body.

It should also be mentioned that Stevenson pays less attention to statements about previous lives by the allegedly reborn than to other (especially physical) factors. This is because it often happens that subjects, unconsciously encouraged by their social milieu, will say what those in that milieu expect or want them to say, rather than what might have happened in an alleged former life in actual fact. It need hardly be mentioned that Stevenson emphasizes repeatedly that by no means all birthmarks and birth defects are derived from previous lives; only a small fraction of them are. Furthermore, only a small fraction of reincarnations show birthmarks or birth defects.

Some other items:

And in fact, the human race as a whole manifestly has behavioral memories of its own evolutionary forebears. To the frequent question of why more people do not remember their previous lives, the answer seems to be simply that most of such memory is deeply buried in the physical and behavioral structure of the individual. This can be seen even in most of the young children who do remember past lives: After recalling and speaking about past lives (and inter-life existences) around two years of age or so (i.e., as soon as they are able to speak), they typically forget everything about those lives as they grow older (between five and eight years). Memories of this type can be recalled only through unusual means which can access the deep psyche. Such means may be shamanic techniques, "regression" hypnosis, certain types of drugs, etc.

In addition, such "Lethæan" forgetfulness has the added advantage of leaving the reborn individual unencumbered with the cares of the past. As Stevenson comments (I, 694), some people with strong memories become so wrapped up in them that it interferes seriously with their current life. Also, some people have inexplicable neuroses and phobias which result from the imperfect forgetting of past life traumas. The divine Weird, in other words, intends for us to concentrate on the here and now.

Many of those who recall a former death by gunshot have strange birthmarks which seemingly correspond to bullet wounds of entry and exit, often where the "exit-wound" birthmark is larger than that of the "entry-wound" birthmark. In addition, when a child begins talking about having died by gunshot and points to a birthmark as the point where he was shot, another corresponding but thitherto unnoticed birthmark can be successfully predicted (and subsequently found) on the subject. In general, where birthmarks correspond to fatal wounds of a previous personality, it is unusual for the person not to speak about the mode of death terminating the previous life.

Nevertheless, those who commit heinous crimes, especially of violence, are choosing actions characteristic not of the more highly evolved type of man, but of pre-humans. Each such crime is a major step in a regression to subhuman levels. It is possible that a soul which has voluntarily descended to such levels may find itself no longer capable of entering into resonance with emerging human life forms and of being reincarnated as a human.

Finally, a psychotherapist, Sukie Miller, Ph.D., who has done much work in the field of afterdeath studies, has written a most interesting book titled After Death: Mapping the Journey.(4) She lists four stages of afterdeath in which the majority of the world's cultures tend to coincide in belief. They are:

  1. The waiting place, where the newly discarnate soul becomes familiarized with its new state as a spiritual entity and adjusted to it.
  2. The judgment phase (or summation) in which the individual's life is summarized, and in some cultures, judgment of some sort is passed on the soul. At this point its future is determined.
  3. The realm of possibilities in which the results of the judgment are endured or enjoyed or, where judgment is not a significant issue, simply exists or even just "vegetates" in the afterdeath state.
  4. The return, in which the soul is either reborn in a new body on the physical or some other plane, or is released altogether from the Wheel of Life and is united with the divine totality.

These stages, according to Sukie Miller, are not fixed but flowing, and by no means found everywhere. They are just general points of agreement among large sections of mankind. We might add that they tend to be borne out by what Ian Stevenson has reported about the periods between death and subsequent reincarnation in many of his research subjects.

No consideration of reincarnation would be complete without discussing its relationship to possession. "Ordinary" reincarnation appears to be a case of possession of a newly developing body during its earliest stages of existence in the womb. Rupert Sheldrake speaks of a "morphic field" - i.e., a soul - entering into "morphic resonance" with a new body. (It would also seem that low-frequency electromagnetic waves have some role in this process, given the association of low-frequency brainwaves with other paranormal phenomena.)

In addition, the psychic tenant of a human body can sometimes be temporarily or even permanently dispossessed by another soul or souls. The New Testament (see above) reports the possession of the Gerasene "demoniac" by a "legion" of dead souls whose former bodies were entombed in the lakeshore cemetery. Some cases of schizophrenia may have a similar cause.

The annals of parapsychology also report "walk-ins" (in Sanskrit, parakayapravesh, literally "entering another body"), in which the soul originally animating a human body is replaced by a different one. Stevenson (I, 1068) reports a case of this type in which a 3-year old girl's body was suddenly and permanently taken over by the soul of another young girl who had died only six months previous to the takeover. And then there is the linguistic testimony of the very word Odin (Woden, Wotan, Wodans), as explained above. This divine name derives from the term (Germanic wôð-, from Proto-Indo-European *wât-) used to refer to the phenomenon of shamanic possession by the spirits of the dead or other intelligences. (A derivative of this root is seen in the modern German word Wut "rage, fury.")

The common physical element in all such possession is lowered brainwave frequency. This fact leads us to concern about the hypnogogic effect of modern TV-watching. While being "entertained" by TV, the brain is totally passive and often only half awake, often being further subdued by alcohol. These conditions are perfect not only for standard hypnosis (with advertizements and subtle political messages inserted by the TV manipulators), but also for low-level possession by spiritual entities in the surrounding inframind. The reader may decide for himself to what extent such possession affects TV-watching societies on a large scale, especially considering the widespread profound racial suicidism of Whites in recent decades.

In any case, it is now clear that spirit possession is an ordinary phenomenon of nature, with reincarnation being only one of its various manifestations. As noted above, many a pregnant mother is able to sense the event, sometime during pregnancy, of the soul of her new child actually entering the fetus in her womb. This, together with the phenomena of "standard" reincarnation, walk-ins, possession, and even hauntings and poetic inspiration from sleeping on the burial mound of a dead skald (Flateyjarbôk), provides us with a much larger picture of reality than does the traditional materialistic view.

Let us also keep in mind that, in addition to eerie or bad things associated with the paranormal, there are also good things: things such as sudden, spontaneous recoveries and unexpected healings from lethal illness and debilitating conditions, and miracles. Considering the near-death experiencers' reports that the universe is created by Love, we may consider such life-promoting phenomena as the kind of activity most characteristic and expressive of the divine Weird.

History of the Doctrine of Reincarnation

Reincarnation as a philosophical and religious concept is very old. In the West, it was already present in the Greek archaic age, in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C.E. The Greek philosopher Pythagoras (fl. ca. 550 B.C.E. in southern Italy) taught this doctrine (Greek palingenesia, Latin homo renascendus), as did Orphism, the first Greek religion to have had a founder (Orpheus). It has been suggested that the Greeks acquired it from Scythian shamanism, but in light of what we now know of shamanism as the almost universal religion of early mankind, it would not seem necessary for the Greeks to have gone outside of their own culture to find the idea. Reincarnation as a religious tenet was driven underground, but never completely eliminated, by the political religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The state into which the soul enters at death - the realm of the inframind - is a state of symbolic forms. Writes Stevenson (II, 2074):

"The 'other world' that I am trying to describe ... would probably have different 'laws' than those that physicists describe. That world would be more 'imagy' ... and less verbal than our familiar existence. Communication would be by processes similar to those of telepathy between living persons. ... Time would certainly be experienced differently, and movement might be faster than the speed of light. 'Now' might equal 'here,' so that thinking about a person would result in being instantly with the person thought about."

Both near-death experiences and depictions of the afterlife in the world's religions support this view. The realms of Hel ("Hell" originally the domain of the dead, not a place of punishment, but later the abode only of the wicked), of Valhalla ("Hall of the Slain [Warriors]"), Ásgarðr (Osyard, i.e., "Oose-Yard" or "Citadel of the Eese"), Jötunheimar (Etenhams or "Giants' Lands"), Niflheimr (Nivelham or "Fogland"), Útgarðar ("Out-Yard" or "Stronghold of the Outlands," home of Útgarða-Loki) are some of the images used by our ancestors in depicting the realms of discarnate existence.

All of these mythical and mystical stories, instructions, rites, doctrines and formulas, as well as the ancient mystery religions of the eastern Mediterranean, deal with what happens after death and how to achieve happiness in the realm of the dead. And they all presume knowledge of the underworld - knowledge that could have been gained only by someone who has been there and returned, such as a shaman or mystic. Vergil's portrayal of this realm sums up for us the classical, pre-Christian view of the afterlife. And that view included reincarnation.

In Europe outside of the Roman Empire we know from Julius Caesar's famous Bellum Gallicum (6.14.5) that the Celtic Druids believed in reincarnation: "Above all they wish to persuade you that souls do not die, but pass from one to another after death (animas ... ab aliis post mortem transire ad alios); and they believe that by dismissing the fear of death this leads especially to courage. They also debate a lot about the stars and their motions, about the size of the earth and of lands, about the nature of things, and about the force and power of the immortal gods, and they pass this on to their youth."

The Celts were the neighbors and next of kin to the Germanic peoples, with whom they both warred and traded on a daily basis. It is thus certain that the ideas of death and reincarnation were current among the Germans as well as the Celts from as early as we have records. Unfortunately, the Druids never wrote down their religious beliefs and practices because, according to Caesar, they were afraid that writing would induce them to weaken their memories, in which they stored prodigious numbers of ritual and historical poems. (In other matters they did write, but used the Greek alphabet rather than the Latin.)

The fact that most of the records of heathen Germania were written by Christians long after conversion resulted in few reports of the inner beliefs of the Germanic peoples generally and of reincarnation specifically. Among the few such reports left, the most famous are those of the "Helgi-lays": Helgakvida Hundingsbana I and II, and Helgakvida Hjörvardssonar. At the end of these lays are passages referring to the rebirths of the principle characters. The Flateyjarbók, relating the story of Saint Olaf of Norway, says that the people believed that Saint Olaf was the reincarnation of Olaf Geirstadaálf, at whose grave they sacrificed in times of famine. Saint Olaf refused to recognize the idea of reincarnation, and tried to silence all talk of it. Nonetheless, one day he and his bodyguard were riding past his namesake's barrow, and one of the guards asked whether he had been buried there. Olaf vehemently denied it, but the man continued, "It is said that when you came to this place before, you said: 'Here we were once, and here we pass now'." The narrative then gives Olaf's response: "'I have never said such a thing,' said the king, 'and I shall never say it.' The king was greatly agitated, and struck spurs to his horse at once, and fled the place as quickly as he could."(5)

Thus reincarnation is seen to be a religious belief found among the early Celtic and Germanic peoples as well as in the pre-Christian south of Europe. In fact, it may well be the original universal belief of all humanity in this area, a belief stemming from direct experience. Ian Stevenson's research has been done mainly in the backwaters of humanity where the societies have been only recently touched by modern communications and science, and traditional folkways are still very strong. These societies have preserved remnants of what was once universal: the knowledge, now obscured by intense beta-wave consciousness and the propaganda of the political religions, that death is a prelude to physical rebirth.

A survey of the world's religions and cultural complexes shows their vast power as hypnotic systems. They literally construct reality to a point where the boundary between the psychic and the physical becomes somewhat fluid. They shape the unconscious of the individual regardless of his conscious rationalizations. An American Jew returning from a near-death experience may report meeting a Christian Jesus. An Indian Hindu returning from such a state may report that he struggled with agents (Yamdoots) of the Lord of Death (Yamraj) who had to cut off his legs to subdue him, and his legs may then weirdly and permanently display strange horizontal scars above the knees as though they had been cut off and then rejoined (Stevenson I, 77ff., with photograph).

All such phenomena, taken together with the enormous numbers of reports of reincarnation, become explicable in the light of Rupert Sheldrake's theory of formative causation. In this approach, everything is understood as formed from memory, and localized subsets of memory are referred to as "morphic fields." The morphic field of a person is his "unconscious," or soul. Natural "laws" are actually strongly ingrained habits. Alteration of such a memory complex in some way will actually change "physical" reality, and most readily the form and function of the body. This process has produced biological evolution.

Stevenson's primary deduction on the reason for birthmarks and birth defects is that they are caused by a doomed person's concentration of attention on what is happening to his or her body. This attention appears sometimes even to continue for some time after the stoppage of vital signs, as is indicated by the appearance of birthmarks corresponding to marks placed (spilled, smeared, etc., intentionally or not) on the corpse of the previous personality. Thus "physical" biology is powerfully directed by "mental" processes, especially during the fetal stage, when brainwave frequency is very low. In general, however, imaged memories of previous lifetimes, along with major birthmarks and birth defects, happen so rarely, however, that Steven suggests (II, 2077) their appearance may actually be a defect in the soul-body union.

For such physical, behavioral and even imaged memories tend to interfere with the proper fit of an individual to his or her current environment. In a sense, these cases may be considered to demonstrate insufficiently integrated experiences, a "hesitation" in the memory and learning process of evolution.

But such "defects" make it possible for us to see that the various species and subspecies of the biological realm and of man are manifestations of a memory process, as Sheldrake has proposed.

The arid political religions of Judaism, Christianity (especially Protestantism(6)) and Islam (and their forebear, Zoroastrianism) aim at the manipulation of common human and primate archetypes for the purpose of political control. To a great extent this is likewise true of Christianity's breakdown products, the New Age religions and Theosophy, even though they have for the most part accepted reincarnation. Mainstream Judaism, incidentally, does not believe in any afterlife whatsoever, concentrating strictly on this life as the only one.

These religions continue to preach "goodness" as defined and constantly redefined by the current political overlordship and media manipulators. But because the political religions have an inherently different aim than natural ones, they lead ultimately to the frustration and termination of biological evolution, regardless of their short-term benefits.

Also, although there are small, unimportant pockets of their adherents who believe in reincarnation, this belief is ultimately not in the interest of these religions as wholes. For reincarnation means there is a possibility that you might avoid the tyranny of the current dictatorship in your next life. And it makes today's government, however powerful, seem less enduring, less powerful and thus less worthy of obedience. Your reward for submitting to the present regime will no longer be eternal, and neither will your punishment for rebellion against it. The prime minister or president is no longer the viceroy of the high god.

As a natural tribal religion, Ásatrú is much more concerned with what really happens after death, and also with personal freedom. It therefore leaves political submission to those who prefer reincarnation as sheep. And it asserts the primacy of the enduring folk over the claims of a universalist, folk-destroying, anti-environment government riding a global economy to planetary exhaustion and Ragnarök. It also sees reincarnation as the natural process and development of the soul by which the folk is continued and deepened psychically, intellectually and even physically. Thus reincarnation is necessarily one of the core beliefs of Ásatrú.

Orlaw and the Future

Reference was made above to the ancient Germanic concept of orlaw (Norse örlög) as the basic principle governing the evolution of life. Orlaw is in many ways similar to the Hindu concept of karma ("deed," "action," cognate through Proto-Indo-Germanic with English work). Karma, however, is a doctrine of cause and effect which allows no room for freedom. It is synonymous with deterministic fate extending from one lifetime through death to the next (reincarnated) lifetime, whether the reincarnation takes place in this world or another one. It is also viewed as a law of moral retribution and reward, with the usual political influences on its interpretation.

Orlaw ("primal law" or "foundation law" ; the or- comes from Proto-Germanic uz- "[originating] out of," "ex-"), although translated from late Old Norse texts as "fate," is not quite so inexorable as karma. It leaves more room for freedom through creativity and energetic action on the part of the individual. The element of free will weighs in much more heavily, as does personal responsibility. Ultimately, because of the evolutionary nature of the universe, this implies that whatever helps evolution will be rewarded with more life. Conversely, whatever does not assist the Will of Weird to produce hMt 2r intelligence incarnate, dooms itself to stagnation, evolutionary regression or extinction. For in the long run, reincarnation is strongly influenced by the direction the individual sets in the current life, in the abilities one develops through one's own effort, in the love toward one's kin, and in the seriousness with which one approaches the mystery of Weird.

But conformity of one's personal will with the Cosmic Will depends on one's state of mind, not on conformity with political dictates or even commonly accepted ideas of morality. Thus, however disagreeable such a conclusion might seem to us, a child molester could conceivably reincarnate as a puritanical censor, as another child molester, or as a different type entirely. (This may be how animal predators arise in evolution.) It is perhaps possible that such a soul might not reincarnate at all if its crimes have disqualified it as human. The type of new life one enters depends partly on one's own previous actions and intentions and partly on the total environment, natural and supernatural.

The evidence suggests that, unless the power of love or (as in the case of Tibetan lamas) of sanctity supervenes, we will become reborn according to whatever geographic or other possibilities are available, sometimes even bearing in our new life the physical expression of our mental state in the last moments of our former life. Ásatrúar should therefore pray earnestly to our gods that Weird grant us a happy and holy death in a state of loving harmony with our own kin. The evidence is that Weird does respond to such prayer.

Orlaw is a law of choice: up or down. In the conclusion to his work (II, 2104), Stevenson says that children who remember previous lives "show scanty evidence of any development beyond that of the lives apparently remembered." He suggests (ibid.) that there may be "two kinds of evolution: a biological one and a mental or spiritual one, the two being periodically linked in the process of reincarnation."

This means that we must remember evolution happens "downward" as well as "upward." In fact, regression, stagnation and extinction are far more prevalent in the history of evolution than is "upward" progress.

Regarding the "upward" possibilities: Rupert Sheldrake, in his The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature (1989; p. 187), speaks of a rise of IQ among various (mainly industrial) countries during this century:

Within a give population and at a particular time, the average performance is by definition set at 100, and the intelligence quotient, or IQ, is calculated in relation to this mean. But if the actual scores of populations on standardized test are compared over age groups or over years, changes in the average IQ over time can be calculated. In 1982, considerable interest and controversy were aroused by the claim that the average IQ of Japanese had been rising in the present century and was now about eleven points ahead of the average IQ in the United States. But detailed studies of test scores in America soon revealed that these too had risen in recent decades at about the same rate as the Japanese scores, and a similar increase has now been found in at least twelve other countries. Over the period from 1932 to 1978 the average IQ of Americans increased by 13.8 IQ points, or an average of 0.3 points per year. These findings reawakened interest in earlier evidence, based on a comparison of U.S. Army mental tests carried out in the first and second world wars, which indicated that there had been large-scale gains in IQ between 1918 and 1943.

Sheldrake then goes on to consider all of the usual environmental explanations, and esteems them all inadequate. He suggests various experiments to establish what is really going on here. And he suspects that the collective memory foundation of people in the above-mentioned nations is constantly growing. While not the only factor in IQ, memory is certainly a component. Thus industrialized peoples might be becoming psychologically more "acclimated" to the complexities of modern life.

Countering Sheldrake's optimistic view, however, is Richard Lynn, Director of the Ulster Institute for Social Research in Northern Ireland. Pursuing the trail blazed by the recent, now famous book The Bell Curve, this world-renowned psychologist has recently (1996) published a work on population genetics entitled Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations (Praeger Publishers). In brief, Professor Lynn reports that modern civilization makes dysgenics very easy, even popular. Due to modern medicine, contraception and political factors, people of lower intelligence are outbreeding the higher IQs in the developed world, at the rate of a little over one point per generation. (Among American blacks, the rate is around two points per generation.) In Britain, he estimates, the period 1890-1980 witnessed a 6.2 point overall decline. His study yields the finding that, unless we put a stop to this sinister regression, a "demographic catastrophe" awaits the world.

As stated above, in the conclusion to his work, Dr. Stevenson reports (II, 2104) that his data do not show any evidence for "upward" evolution. The only striking characteristic of his case studies is their subjects' memories (imaged, behavioral or physical) of former lifetimes. The optimistic, hopeful, futuristic scenarios of the politicians and of the political religions, in other words, are unfounded in any research not only in sociology but also in the area of reincarnation.

So orlaw is a law of consequences, and reincarnation does not automatically bring upward progress. Many people who have had near-death experiences (and who are consequently in a way "involuntary" shamans) report that in their NDEs they were enveloped by an unspeakably wonderful and unconditional divine love, which is, they assert, the driving force of creation. Love is above all purposeful: it seeks the well-being of its target, the loved. The experience of this love is the human way of perceiving the will of Weird: of grasping the working and the aim of orlaw. Orlaw is the unswerving will of the Mind which undergirds the universe and drives biological evolution. Through our actions and desires today we choose to follow that Will or not. We thereby choose what we will be not just tomorrow, but in the afterdeath and in the life thereafter. Ásatrú urges us to continue on the difficult but upward path of our ancestors and to reject the Wolf and his predatory agents. The choice is an extremely serious one. But it must be made. For, despite what our rulers and the media manipulators say, the alternative is simply too horrible to contemplate.


The Destruction of the Germanic Religion in England
as described in
Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum (ca. 725 C.E.)
The Venerable Bede
Book II

Caput XIII

Chapter 13

Quale consilium idem [rex Æduini] cum primatibus suis de percipienda fide Christi habuerit; et ut pontifex ejus suas aras profanaverit. (Ca. 627)

The planning session which [King Edwin] held with his chief officers about adopting the faith of Christ. And how his high priest profaned his own altars. (Ca. 627)

Quibus auditis, rex suscipere quidem se fidem quam docebat, et velle et debere respondebat. Verum adhuc cum amicis principibus, et consiliariis suis sese de hoc collaturum esse dicebat, ut si et illi eadem cum illo sentire vellent, omnes pariter in fonte vitae Christo consecrarentur. Et annuente Paulino, fecit ut dixerat. Habito enim cum sapientibus consilio, sciscitabatur singillatim ab omnibus, qualis sibi doctrina haec eatenus inaudita, et novus divinitatis qui praedicabutur cultus videretur.

Having heard these things, the king answered that he both wished and ought indeed to accept the faith which [the missionary Paulinus] was preaching. But he said that he would still confer with his friendly nobles and his counsellors on the matter, so that if they too wished to feel the same as he, everyone might be consecrated together in the font of life to Christ. With the approval of Paulinus, he did as he had said. For at the meeting with his advisors, he asked of them individually what they thought of this hitherto unheard-of doctrine and the new cult of divinity which was being preached.

Cui primus pontificum ipsius Coifi continuo respondit: "Tu vide, rex, quale sit hoc quod nobis modo praedicatur: ego autem tibi verissime quod certum didici, profiteor, quia nihil omnino virtutis habet, nihil utilitatis religio illa quam hucusque tenuimus: nullus enim tuorum studiosius quam ego culturae deorum nostrorum se subdidit; et nihilominus multi sunt qui ampliora a te beneficia quam ego, et majores accipiunt dignitates, magisque prosperantur in omnibus quae agenda vel acquirenda disponunt. Si autem dii aliquid valerent, me potius juvare vellent, qui illis impensius servire curavi. Unde restat, si ut ea quae nunc nobis nova praedicantur, meliora esse et fortiora, habita examinatione, perspexeris, absque ullo cunctamine suscipere illa festinemus."

Coifi, the foremost of his priests, immediately answered: "Decide for yourself, king, the nature of what is now preached to us. But I confess truly to you what I have learned for certain: that the religion which we have held up to now has no power at all, no usefulness. For none of your subjects has devoted himself more energetically than I to the worship of our gods; and yet there are many who receive from you greater benefits than I, and greater honors; and they prosper more in everything that they undertake to do or acquire. If, now, the gods were worth anything, they would want to help me instead, who have striven to serve them with greater effort. Hence if, after examination, you find that the new teachings are better and stronger, we should accept them without any hesitation.

Cujus suasioni verbisque prudentibus alius optimatum regis tribuens assensum continuo subdidit: "Talis," inquiens, "mihi videtur, rex, vita hominum praesens in terris, ad comparationem ejus quod nobis incertum est temporis, quale cum, te residente ad cenam cum ducibus ac ministris tuis tempore brumali, accenso quidem foco in medio et calido effecto cenaculo, furentibus autem foris per omnia turbinibus hiemalium pluviarum vel nivium, adveniensque unus passerum domum citissime pervolaverit, qui cum per unum ostium ingrediens, mox per aliud exierit. Ipso quidem tempore, quo intus est, hiemis tempestate non tangitur; sed tamen, parvissimo spatio serenitatis ad momentum excurso, mox de hieme in hiemem regrediens, tuis oculis elabitur. Ita haec vita hominum ad modicum apparet. Quid autem sequatur, quidve praecesserit, prorsus ignoramus. Unde si haec nova doctrina certius aliquid attulit, merito esse sequenda videtur." His similia et ceteri majores natu ac regis consiliarii divinitus admoniti prosequebantur.

Another of the king's nobles, going along with the persuasion and prudent words of the high priest, added immediately: "King, it seems to me that the present life of men on earth, in comparison with the stretches of time unknown to us, is as though, while you were sitting at a banquet with your aldermen and thanes in the wintertime, a blazing hearth in the center warming the banquet hall, but outside the winds of winter rains or snows raging all around, a single sparrow should arrive and swiftly fly through the building; having come in one door, it quickly exits through another. While it is inside, it is unbuffeted by the winter storm; nonetheless, after a very brief span of momentary clear weather, it then, passing from winter into winter, escapes your sight. Just so, the human lifespan appears quite brief. But of what follows or precedes it, we are totally ignorant. Hence, if this new teaching conveys something more certain, it should rightly be followed." The elders and counsellors of the king, prompted by God, continued with things similar to this.

Adjecit autem Coifi, quia vellet ipsum Paulinum diligentius audire de Deo quem praedicabat, verbum facientem. Quod cum, jubente rege, faceret, exclamavit, auditis ejus sermonibus, dicens: "Jam olim intellexeram nihil esse, quod colebamus. Quia videlicet quanto studiosius in eo cultu veritatem quaerebam, tanto minus inveniebam. Nunc autem aperte profiteor, quia in hac praedicatione veritas claret illa, quae nobis vitae, salutis et beatudinis aeternae dona valet tribuere. Unde suggero, rex, ut templa et altaria quae sine fructu utilitatis sacravimus, ocius anathemati et igni contradamus."

But Coifi added that he wanted to more diligently hear Paulinus speak about the God whom he preached. When, at the urging of the king, he had done this, Coifi, having heard his speech, cried out, saying, "For long I had realized that what I was practicing was nothing. Because, in fact, the more energetically I sought truth in that worship, the less I found it. But now I avow openly that in this preaching shines that truth which confers on us the gifts of life, health and happiness. And so, king, I suggest that we quickly consign to condemnation and fire the temples and altars which we have fruitlessly and vainly consecrated."

Quid plura? Praebuit palam assensum evangelizanti beato Paulino rex, et, abrenuntiata idolatria, fidem se Christi suscipere confessus est. Cumque a praefato pontifice sacrorum suorum quaereret, quis aras et fana idolorum cum saeptis, quibus erant circumdata, primus profanare deberet, ille respondit: "Ego. Quis enim ea, quae per stultitiam colui, nunc ad exemplum omnium aptius quam ipse per sapientiam mihi a Deo vero donatam destruam?" Statimque, abjecta superstitione vanitatis, rogavit sibi regem arma dare et equum emissarium, quem ascendens ad idola destruenda veniret. Non enim licuerat pontificem sacrorum vel arma ferre, vel praeter in equa equitare. Accinctus ergo gladio accepit lanceam in manu, et, ascendens emissarium regis, pergebat ad idola. Quod aspiciens, vulgus aestimabat eum insanire. Nec distulit ille, mox ut appropiabat ad fanum, profanare illud, injecta in eo lancea quam tenebat. Multumque gavisus de agnitione veri Dei cultus, jussit sociis destruere ac succendere fanum cum omnibus saeptis suis. Ostenditur autem locus ille quondam idolorum non longe ab Eburaco ad Orientem, ultra amnem Doruventionem, et vocatur hodie Godmunddingaham, ubi pontifex ipse, inspirante Deo vero, polluit ac destruxit eas, quas ipse sacraverat, aras.

Why say more? The king openly gave his assent to the blessed evangelizer, Paulinus, and, after renouncing idolatry, announced that he was accepting the faith of Christ. And when he asked the above-mentioned high priest of his own rites who should be the first to profane the idols' altars and fanes with their fences, the latter answered, "I. For, as a public example, who better than I, - now that the true God has granted me wisdom - should myself destroy the things which stupidity led me to worship." Then after rejecting the idle superstition, he asked the king to give him arms and a war stallion on which he could go to destroy the idols. (For it was impermissible for a high priest of the rites either to bear arms or to ride on a horse other than a mare.) Thus, girt with a sword he took a spear in his hand and, mounting the king's warhorse, proceeded to the idols. The crowed seeing believed he was in frenzy. But without delay, as soon as he reached the shrine, he profaned it by throwing the spear he was holding into it. Exulting greatly at recognizing the religion of the true God, he ordered his companions to destroy the fane and all its fences, and burn them. That former place of idols is still shown not far east of York, beyond the river Derwent, and today is called Goodmanham [in Yorkshire]. There it was that the high priest himself, inspired by the true God, polluted and destroyed those very altars which he himself had consecrated.


1 The ending -an-/-in- meant "lord, chief, or master of." It is found in Visigothic thiudans "king," lit. "lord of the thiud" (people, folk), "king," and *drauhtins "warlord," lit. "lord of a *drauhts" (war troop), likewise seen in drauhtinon, "to serve under a warlord, enlist in the army," and drauhti-witoth "military discipline or service; war," lit. "wartroop-law." The ending is of Proto-Indo-European antiquity; it is seen also in Latin dominus "lord, master," originally "lord of a domus" (house). The name of the ás (Gothic ansus "demi-god," originally "post, pillar" [carved with the visage of such a demi-god]) was most likely declined thus: nominative, Wodans; genitive Wodinis; dative Wodina; accusative, Wodan; vocative, Wodan. (The "d" was pronounced like the "th" in "clothing.") [Return to text]

2 Volume 1: Birthmarks. Volume 2: Birth Defects and Other Anomalies. Westport, Connecticut and London: Praeger Publishers (88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881), 1997. Price: $195.00. Vol. 1, xvii + 1,168 pp.; Vol. 2, xvii + 1,098 pp. [Return to text]

3 in A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Formative Causation, London: Blond & Briggs, 1981 (revised edition, Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1988). Cf. especially Sheldrake's The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature (New York: in Vintage Books [Div. of Random House], 1989); his writings include The Rebirth of Nature: The Greening of Science and God (NY: Bantam Books, 1991). Sheldrake also suggests experiments to prove or disprove his theory in Seven Experiments That Could Change the World: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Revolutionary Science (NY: Riverhead Books [a division of G.P. Putnam's Sons], 1995).[Return to text]

4 With Suzanne Lipsett. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997. [Return to text]

5 Andy Orchard, Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend. London and New York: Cassell and Sterling Publishing, 1997, p. 131, sub voce reincarnation.[Return to text]

6 The "protesting" Protestants were absolutely correct in claiming that medieval Catholicism was heavily paganized. From the beginning, with St. Paul's talk about the "mystery" (ecclesiastical Latin sacramentum) of Christ, it was adapted to the mystery religions of Greece and Rome and began to relabel pagan deities with Christian names. As Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick write in their A History of Pagan Europe (Routledge: London and New York, 1995), p. 160 (in the chapter "Late Germanic Religion"),

"Quite apart from direct survivals, over a long period Christian images were added to Pagan shrines, or Pagan images actually renamed as those of saints or prophets. Many of the Pagan deities were simply renamed by Christian priests. Beneficial deities became saints: Freya became Maria; Baldur, St. Michael; Thor, St. Olaf; Tónn, St Antonius, etc., whilst demons and destructive deities were identified with the Christian Devil. ... Sometimes the local deity was simply called a saint, e.g., Thor's holy well at Thorsås in Sweden was known as Saint Thor's Spring. Other Pagan places were revered well into the medieval period: among the more notable examples are the fane of the Swabian goddess Zisa at the Zisenburg in Augsburg; the sacred places of Jutta at Heidelberg; the prophetic holy well of Mons Noricus, Nuremberg; and the labyrinth dance-place of Libussa at Prague. ...

In the Netherlands, Frey was also renamed as St. John (with Frey's feastday on New Year's, but probably originally on Winternights in October, the beginning of the first half of the Germanic year); Freya was christianized as St. Gertrude (the Great, with feastday on March 17, beginning of the second half of the Germanic year.)

This "relabeling" practice had a softening, humanizing effect on Catholicism, however, so that (despite vociferous denials) it became a kind of paganism with a Jewish-messianic literary overlay. The Protestants fanatically purged all of these pagan elements and re-Judaized their religion, so that it retained little of its former magic and mystery. The Second Vatican Council of 1964-67 went a long way toward Protestantizing Catholicism, so that today neo-paganism is able to move back into the places usurped by Christianity so long ago. [Return to text]

Ðis tractate was written by Þeedrich (theedrich@harbornet.com). Last modified 1998 Feb 21.
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