The One Eyed God: Odin & The (Indo) Germanic Männerbünde review

This is a book I have been trying to get my hands on for nearly five years while I perused the amazon market and found only overprices used copies and out of print stock from foreign distributors. As part of the old Galgragildi curriculum, it is one that intrigued my interest early on when I first forayed into the schools of heathenism and proto-European study. It is published by the Journal of Indo-European studies, written by Kris Kershaw.

The One Eyed God (referring to Odin), is a dense and academic work focusing on the central tenets revolving around the myth of Odin (wodanaz) and the various symbolic attributes that are ascribed to or involved with him, mainly speaking, the male oriented cult of initiation, the Mannerbunde. The archaic rites and rituals of the Mannerbunde are observe first from Scandinavian and European sources, in the gangs of Berserker and Ulfhednar, and then further into the Greek, Roman, Latin, Celtic, and Indo-Aryan sources, as well as the cults of Vedic-era India. Kershaw mines into great detail using heavy notations, and sourcing of scholarly works sourcing several languages and often referring to many at once in each sub chapter, this makes it a challenging read, but there is a conceptual and organized arrangement of the multi-faceted aspects of his central theme. To get an idea of some of the headings assuming the subject matter of each chapter, are; ‘The Einheriar, Furor Teutonicus, The Vratyas, Odin Analogs, warrior brahmins, Rudra, darkness dogs and death, and so forth.

After starting with the Indo European sources discussing early brotherhoods, the wild hunt, agrarian rites of sacrifice, old customs and beliefs, he branches further out into the greater European sources, talking about ancestor cults, the formations of cities like Roman by theriomorphic demigods and roving bands of outlaw men, and then further back into the Indian texts, and information about the Saivites, the Aghori, the soma cults, etc. There is much to digest, and I would suggest reading slowly. The book can be hard to follow at times with the constant language switching and annotations, so one might find themselves glossing over words or sentences that can be hard to comprehend. But this is a purely scholarly work, and contains such a wealth of information for those who are truly seeking to understand more about the paradigms of the mannerbunde, male cults, the wild host, and these early Odinic wolf god attributes of pre-Christian Europe. The parallels with other mythologies are extremely valuable as well, and Kershaw does a good job of drawing the comparative similarities of customs and traditions over spans of time that the student with only a surface interest of these subjects would probably not associated as potentially linked. The implications of the continued tradition and roots of the mannerbunde is fairly intriguing though I don’t agree with all of it. For the serious reader, who wants to implore the mysteries of the proto-cultic brotherhoods and early gang mentality of the early European empire, this is a solid read.

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