SEIÐWAYS - Shaking, Swaying and Serpent Mysteries
By Jan Fries, published by Mandrake of Oxford (PO Box 250, Oxford, OX1 1AP) at £10.99. 340pp. ISBN: 1869928-369 (Reviewed by Kenulf)
Jan makes no apologies for the somewhat scattered nature of the content, as much of it represents loose ends left after writing Helrunar. The title gives only half of the story, but then it would have to be a long title indeed that comprehensively described this book. I didnt read it in one go. I couldnt due to other commitments, but that didnt keep me from reading it whenever I had a free moment - which is fortunate, as the text is always interesting to read no matter where you start from.
Only about half of the book is directly devoted to Seidr, but this works out well, as the rest of the book does a great support act. The disciplines of shaking, swaying, shivering etc., to aid in attaining altered states are studied in many different cultural contexts, from the Sami people of the Finnmark to the native tribes of Africa. Analysis of the various drumming speeds, and dancing practices provide a useful insight into their physiological effects, and go some way to explaining the efficacy of many shamanic traditions.
The rest of the text is supportive to the main theme, with a great deal of factual matter, taking in the Kalevala, a little (and judicious) Crowley, the Edda, Dragon lore, Mabinogi, Taliesin, some common folklore, and far more besides.
With such a broad spectrum of content, Seidways is suited to anyone studying shamanism for the first time, and wants to avoid a pile of new-age crap. Its also a great all-rounder for anyone with a general interest in European mythology. The artwork is... well, can I have a smoke too please? Theres a good bibliography, discography, and index, which is invaluable given the content. Seidways will become one of the more thumbed books in my collection, and I am sure the collection of anyone else who buys it.