Baldr’s Magic –
The Power of Norse Shamanism and Ecstatic Trance
By Nicholas Brink
I agreed to review this book because Baldr (or Balder/Baldur) is a Norse god I have a strong personal connection to.
On the positive side I will say that anyone seeking a strong connection to their ancestors and ancestral faith and traditions needs encouragement – in whatever way they decide to do this. The author certainly describes a very personal quest and invites others to make a similar journey into the past (even the ancient undocumented past of Early Europe).
He works for the Cuyamunge Institute which promotes the original research and findings of Dr. Felicitas Goodman. The core of this body of work evolves around the use of certain postures and practices for deep trance meditation. So far so good! I am always open to learning and exploring something new and trance postures certainly are not part of my own repertoire as an international teacher of shamanism.
Where this book “nose dives” in my perception is that the author commits sins of both commission and omission to use a concept from my Roman Catholic upbringing – and my Roman Catholic period ended at age 19 when the god Baldr took me in hand and changed my life forever.
Using trance postures to map your personal past (leaving open whether that is personal previous lifetimes on earth or lifetimes of personal ancestors whose memories of events remain preserved in the morphogenetic or knowing field) – OK! Great!!
However, to then take it upon yourself to publish certain “Lays” that do not appear in the ancient texts of the Nordic Tradition (meaning The Poetic Edda or Prose Edda) is taking matters quite far – by contemporary Neo-Pagan or shamanic standards.
As a teacher of shamanism I keep reminding my students that much information we receive in shamanic journeys (“the core shamanism version of trance posture meditations”) is profoundly personal. You received it because your spirit allies designed the message for you. It is what you most need to hear at this time!! It is not necessarily of great interest to others (though some selected pieces of it may well be and resonate deeply with others) but you edit down what you share bearing in mind: “is this truly of interest and importance to others than myself?”
This author has essentially filled a whole book with what we could call journey work, path-workings, trance posture discoveries – whatever you wish to call it. There is no mention of consulting people known for their innovative work in Norse Shamanism today – and also sharing their take on the material – or indeed following their guidance on what to publish and what to turn into a journal or document for private family use.
I do not wish to use the word arrogance – but there is definitely a lot of ignorance here around contemporary standards in publishing new material. Publishing your own Lost of Edda of the Vanir and many Lays (such as the Power of Idunn’s Plants or The Goddess’s Power of Intuition) is breath-taking (audacious). I invite you to view this in the context of contemporary practitioners of Norse (and other) shamanism agonising and debating about the use of what is called UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) in meetings, ceremonies and publications. I cannot help but wonder what Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera, the authors of Talking To The Spirits – Personal Gnosis in Pagan Religion would say about this book. I‘d certainly recommend you read both books for comparison and serious reflect on such issues!!
In my opinion this author ought to have done way more research – what is out there? How do other authors handle the issue of both UPG and PCPG (Peer Corroborated Personal Gnosis). He should have edited down the book to a DIY manual for accessing ancestral information through trance posture work – inviting others to make their own discoveries (as opposed to sharing all and only your own discoveries). At least mentioning and acknowledging the ramifications of UPG would have been welcome. Instead the author states he has a gift for accessing intuitive formation in the now – and then extrapolates that gift right back to Ancient Europe, without providing corroborating (or indeed conflicting) material by others working in the same field.
For me this book falls in the gap between 21st century academic standards and contemporary practices for recovering ancient traditions and material.
Last but not least – I had hoped to learn more about Baldr in this book but found nothing in this book that I do not know already (as a teacher of Norse Shamanism).
By all means do this work and use the techniques (postures) offered by this author. I ask all my students (of shamanism) to use every means available to them to connect with their ancestors and learn about their ancestral traditions – but I do not encourage every student who does this (and many do work of astounding beauty!) to type up all their journey notes and publish them as a book for others to read. If they decided to do so I would recommend heavy editing and asking some very critical questions indeed. I also encourage all my students to seek second (or even third) opinions from others on issues of great importance or emotive issues.
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Imelda Almqvist, Pittsburgh – USA, 29 September 2017
About the author:
Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books on 26th August 2016. She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.
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For her courses in Norse Shamanism (in both Europe and soon coming to the USA as well) please visit the following webpages
FORNSED IN SWEDEN
2 YEAR PRACTITIONER OF NORSE SHAMANISM PROGRAM
YEAR OF CEREMONY