Sunday, 4 July 2010

Online course review - The Essence of Germanic Soul-Lore

Here's an excerpt from my review, The Essence of Germanic Soul-Lore by Ingrid Fischer (taught online by Ian Read), Arcanorium online College of Magic (

The full version is published in the Rune-Gild's new online magazine, at . If you have any interest in the magical traditions of Northern Europe, then I urge you to go and take a look at this excellent publication straightaway.

The fact that you, dear reader, are reading this is evidence of some degree of familiarity with the virtual worlds offered by the Internet. You are unlikely to let out a gasp of astonishment at the knowledge that such a thing as an online college of magic exists. However, considering the quality of much online content, you could be excused the cynical expectation that it's either a Harry Potter marketing stunt or just another Emperor's New Clothes, another fat tranche of cyberbollocks aimed at the occultizoid market.

Not so, by a long mile. Arcanorium is run by seminal chaos magic author Peter Carroll, staffed entirely by experienced magicians and offers courses (and less formal discussions) of a consistently high standard. The courses take place in virtual classrooms, the course content delivered as weekly threads initiated by the teacher. In a practically-based course like the one under review, threads are created by students to record and discuss their results and ideas.

The experience of taking part in such a course can be an unusual and highly fruitful one; you are sharing thoughts with a class full of lively thinkers who are actually doing their own magical work.

This course is no exception. Taught by Ian Read, Rune-Gild Master (and Drighten; see interview in Issue 1 of this magazine) it delivered in its six intense weeks an astonishing level of original work by Rune-Gild Master Ingrid Fischer on the Germanic soul-complex whose Master-Work of Runelore, Germanic Psychology, is on its way to being published. For those unfamiliar with this fascinating facet of Northern lore, I've appended the reading list from the course.

Masters Read and Fischer are not only(!) magicians steeped in the Northern tradition and with decades of magical experience but they are also both trained in modern psychological and psychotherapeutic practice. So this course sheds new light on the complex subtleties of traditional soul-lore, and in a superbly practical way. The student is given conceptual tools and exercises to help him map his own subjective experience onto the old names for the soul-components. More about this important work later.

Like most Arcanorium courses, this one ran over six weeks. The lesson-topics covered were: Development of the Personality, The Core Triad, Dreams, The Fylgia or Fetch, and Fate.

The Core Triad is one of the original concepts in the course, and one of the core ideas. The triad consists of hugr (approximately intellect, dominant hemisphere activity, the seat of the mundane self and conscious will), minni (memory, reflection, the subordinate cerebral hemisphere) and odhr (inspiration and ecstatic consciousness, among other functions).

I have been aware for some years of the approximate parallels between these modern terms and traditional ones, but I had not mapped these soul-components onto my own subjective states with anything like the depth and detail that I gained when I applied the Core Triad concept in the course exercise.

It is hard to exaggerate just how important this kind of work is, the fine tuning of subjective discrimination, and how thoroughly it can integrate into daily experience. Drifting on the edge of sleep, I came to feel the events of the day flickering from consciousness into the beginnings of REM-sleep, hugr's thoughts being processed into minni's reflections, like the pages of a book being riffled for the bits worth casting into long-term memory. Experiencing this, I am aware of the observing faculty hovering over that dyad, one of the functions of odhr, and one of the gateways into higher consciousness.

What could be more valuable in this kind of study than that, to gain a correlation between subjective feelings and a map of soul-elements? We cannot get anywhere with a soul-map until we start to correlate it with the territory of how that soul feels in action.

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