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Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Freya Aswynn at Treadwells

Freya Aswynn at Treadwell's Bookstore

This is a loose transcription of the first part of Freya's talk at Treadwell's [I wasn't there] from the Youtube footage. In this first section, Freya gives an electric account of how she came to 'take up the Runes' - her background being in Occultism and Norse mythology - and how she came to write her main work, Leaves of Yggdrasil.
Her involvement in music and performance is touched upon - she is most proud of her work with the group SixthComm - and most startling of all, her mystic marriage to Odin which - by all accounts - saved her life.

Part one

Hosted by Christina Oakley-Harrington [COH]
also present;
Phil Parkyn [PP]
Audience [A]

COH: I first met Freya in 1989; her first book - Leaves of Yggdrasil - had taken London by storm. All of a sudden the runes were something to think about. A confluence of interests in the runes included ceremonial magicians, Chaos magicians; suddenly the runes were 'cool', rather than boring old folklore. At the forefront of this surfing wave was Freya. A forceful personality, an intelligent writer and speaker. The 1990s were all about runes and Freya Aswynn.

COH: How did your magical life become so intertwined with the runes?

FA: The first person who ever mentioned the runes to me was my first husband George in 1968 (1). He came from a very 'German' angle, so I went 'No!' (A: laughter) The second time was when I went to England and ended up at Alex Sander's place and got myself initiated into Wicca. There was someone there, who was into the runes, and he mentioned the SS - I said 'No!' (A: laughter) The third time was when I moved in with Lionel [Hornby] Jean and Zach in London. Lionel, who came from Coventry with Viking ancestry, was given a booklet on runes (2) to review for Aquarian Arrow; Lionel gave the book to me, which I thought was shit, so I didn't want to know, again.
I started working in the Craft but found that all the gods were either Greek or Celtic, and it doesn't resonate with me. The Greek I could appreciate from an intellectual perspective, with the philosophers and all that. But Celtic - No. And everything was Celt, Celt, Celt. You go around the bookshops and it was all Celt.
At one point I just decided to invoke my own gods: Woden, Donar and Freyja. As far as I knew they were Dutch gods, and later on I found out that they were Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian as well. I had no education; I grew up in the care system with no education what so ever. I had to find out everything for myself.
There was a pagan press conference in 1982 and they asked us if we had accomodation. At the time me and Lionel were living at The Enclave, a communal house in Tufnell Park and had three places. One of those was places was taken by Russell Scott, who was doing the runes, took me to a place near East Grinstead where a woman was doing rune readings, and she had applied to join my Coven.
So we went there to interview her, and she was going to do me a rune reading. She had this little list of rune meanings done by somebody else, and runes. As soon as she laid the runes out [I had to touch them in order to do the reading], as soon as I put my hands out to the runes - that was it: 'They're mine!' It was a lightning flash! That was it - it was the path I had to go!

After that I borrowed this idea from the Craft; like the Moon cakes, I made Rune cakes, and each night I took [ate] one, invoked Woden and Freya, and wrote down what I got.
The only reference books available then were Elliott (3) and Page (4) - there was bugger-all [else]. Yes, there was 'Blumstein' (5) [she says sarcastically, and indicates defecation] - and anyway even he was later and I wasn't going to touch him with a bargepole.
In 1984 I joined the Odinic Rite (6): that was OK but they weren't occultists, so that didn't last long. There was absolutely nobody I could talk to until this bloke Hilmar Hilmarsson (7) turned up from Iceland and invited me to go and give a talk to the Theosophical Society there, in 1985.
Meanwhile I was writing what later would become Leaves of Yggdrasil (8).

Runes and Music

Then I had David Tibet in the cellar, and Dougie (9), and they were doing music. I was really interested in cultivating Hilmar's attention - not because I fancied him or anything - but because he was Icelandic and had access to runes. I started showing off by chanting the runes, and Hilmar said to David Tibet; "you've got to record that on the next album". That was Swastikas for Noddy [1988] ... - Futhark .... - SS in the background ... It was very cool in the 80s; we were living in the People's Republic of Islington. (A: Laughter)
All the people I mentioned - none of them were politically motivated: it was all art.
Patrick O'Kill (10) 'phoned and we did the Fruits album [1987]. At the same time I was finishing off Leaves of Yggdrasil but I didn't think it was good enough for a publisher so I had it privately printed, paid for it. And I went around the bookshops in London - six copies here and there - some still haven't paid me! [A: Laughter]
Then I started to do Wiccan workshops on the runes - 25 quid - all residential. What happened with the workshops was that I got more and more information. I now know that what I did was channeling, but I had never heard of that. I was just tripping out on the runes and Odin - I was flaming all over the place. And everybody got sick of hearing about "Odin, Odin, Odin".
I got blamed for Zach ending up in Friern Barnet (11) because of Wotan [A: Laughter]. He was playing Das Rheingold in the Gnostic Mass. And each time in the Gnostic Mass you say 'there is no part of me that is not the gods', and I say "there is no part of me that is not of the Aesir!"
I kept pushing that [?]! Because I was driven by a Force to push that because I noticed that god was enormously frustrated when I had all this excellent stuff and nobody was interested! There was no one who was really into the runes and Odin. From being a 'Respectable Gardenerian High Priestess', all of a sudden I was a 'Nazi' and 'State Enemy Number One' - because I worshipped a Norse God!
It would have been alright if I worshipped a goddess of course. [A:Laughter]
That's when me and Wicca parted because that's bullshit. So far as I was concerned, - Odin first and foremost!
And then Kveldulf came over in the 1990s and he introduced me to the Ring of Troth in the States, and I started to go regularly to the USA to do workshops on the runes, and so it went on.

Married to Odin

COH: One thing that struck me when I first met you was that you were 'married to Odin' - I have met others who have said that, but I'm sure they're not as good a wife as you. (A: laughter)

FA: It's a bit like Highlander: 'There can be only one.'! (12)

COH: What does that relationship mean to you?

FA: I married Odin on November 29th 1993. I had fallen out with certain Chaos magical people who were living with Lionel and myself. That turned into a very nasty occult war. At one point I woke up and Odin was gone: no contact, None! I 'phoned up Kveldulf Gundarsson (13) and said;
'Look, I don't know what's happened but I've lost my contact'.
And this happened before - Steve Wilson can tell you - but this was more serious: it was gone. I was deaf, blind, mute on the astral eye ... it was gone.
Kveldulf said that there was a big crust of rust on my crown chakra. And Kveldulf went out on the astral and smashed it with His spear... and then the idea. Meanwhile I had been, on the sly, reading stuff about Vodoun. I read Maya Deren's 'The Divine Horsemen' (14) in 1984 - 'that's what I want with Odin!'
I said to Kveldulf - 'you may think that I'm absolutely crazy, but I feel that's the only way that my connection with Odin [can come back]'. Because I was ready to end my life because without Odin there is no point. Just eat and piss - what's the point?
Kveldulf turned up with an agrarian old ritual from Jan de Vries - the ritual of the last sheaf which married the old man - that being Odin, and turned it into a proper wedding ritual. Phil [Parkyn] was the priest.

PP: It wasn't my fault! (A: laughter)

FA: There's a DVD of the marriage ritual. Then for nine years I kept my mouth shut. It was a secret; only the people involved knew. It was a culmination of nine years hard magical work with Liber Astarte vel Berylli - Crowley's (15). And instead of at the end of the ritual you destroy all of it, I incorporated it in myself, and this does entail a life-long vow of celibacy, which I've kept.
And then, at the end of nine years, Diana Paxson - she was, I thought, possessed by Odin - told me: 'You've got to make this public, it's no good for you.'
Fine; I put it on my website. Within a week! Copy, copy, copy. The Yanks ripped it off! They were the 'Odin wives'! And they were on the Internet coming out with all the filth - everything was turned into sensual filth. Now they're doing this kind of blood-letting ritual at Cauldron Farm which is even worse - sticking needles in people with saline to simulate the initiation on the Tree and so forth.
It degenerated - I do not acknowledge any other than me because I worked for it, I earned it! The Yanks copied it and tried to exploit it into a big ego-trip. They strut around in Viking gear and they are the 'rites of Odin'. So I just withdrew from the whole scene. These people are not my peers, I don't want to know. And as you said, it's another circus, everybody is now at it.
The whole concept for me was the sublime; the most Holiest of Holiest initiation was turned to a pile of Yank, Wank, Shit.

COH: Did you ever get your contact with Odin back?

FA: Yes - but it's on a more integrated level. It's symbiotic; it's incorporated within my own energy field.

COH: Has your rune-work become more interior over time?

FA: I've never been one for big rituals and paraphernalia. I've got the bag with runes and a few cloths, and that's what I work with. I've given up dressing in the Viking period gear - I don't need it.

COH: Did you ever get into Stav?

FA: No, that was someone called Ivar (16) It is a Norwegian family tradition which was then brought to Australia. It is a form of martial arts, it never attracted me.

1) On her MySpace page, Freya says that George also introduced her to the philosophy of Nietzsche and the music of Wagner. He died in 1972. Between 1972-9, Freya worked with the AMORC [Rosicrucians]. In 1980 she was initiated into Wicca by Sanders.
2) Rune Magic, Carlyle A. Pushong, Regency, 1978. Includes chapters on the Elder Futhark as well as the Armenen system. Also has appendices on the I Ching, the Third eye and Kundalini.
Lionel Hornby died in 1994 - details of who Jean and Zach are are given in later lectures of this series.
3) Introduction to Runes, 1959
4) English Runes, 1973. Both Elliott and Page are still essential reading and standard works. When Freya says that there was bugger all' she must mean that there was nothing on esoteric runology in the late 1970s to early 1980s. In those pre-internet days, 'scenes' were insular things and it seems that Freya didn't know that Stephen Flowers in America [aka Edred Thorsson - and let's not forget that Freya's real name is Elizabeth Hooijschuur] was very much into esoteric runology at this time. Indeed, he says that he had written his ground-breaking book Futhark, A Handbook of Rune Magic as early as 1979, but was unable to find a publisher until 1983-4 [when it was published by Weiser]. Not only that but in 1980 Edred had formed his Rune Gild. In 1984 Freya was with the Odinic Rite, and that organisation is mentioned in the fifth edition of Edred's book, 1989.
5) Ralph Blum, The Book of Runes: A Handbook for the Use of an Ancient Oracle: The Viking Runes 1982. Blum uses the 'Blank Rune', and changes the order of the Futhark.
6) Odinic Rite:
7) Hilmar Orn HilmarssonÖrn_Hilmarsson
8) Leaves of Yggdrasil: A Synthesis of Runic Gods, Magic, Feminine Mysteries, Folklore, Freya Aswynn, Self-published, 1988
9) David Tibet [Bunting] and Douglas P [Pearce] of the music groups Current 93 and Death In June respectively.
10) Patrick Leagas was a founder member of Death in June, leaving in 1985 to form his own Sixth Comm in 1986. Fruits of Yggdrasil was an album made by Sixth Comm in collaboration with FA.
11) Presumably Zachary Cox mentioned in Part 3 of the Lecture. Friern Barnet is a North London suburb, famous for its lunatic asylum.
12) Highlander motion picture 1986: this was the film's 'tagline'.
13) Pseudonym of Stephen Grundy.
14) The Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti, New York, Vanguard 1953 ed. by Joseph Campbell.
16) Ivar Hafskjold

Part Two

The first part of the lecture demonstrated Freya's compulsion to take up the Runes. Music, too, came upon her - wyrd worked her web as she always doth.
Here she elaborates more on music projects.
She talks more of The Enclave - a commune of some kind rooted in the experience of the 1980s.
Most interesting of all is her mention of Seidhr. Note that she talks of expanding consciousness, rather than narrowing it. This is reminiscent of the Outsider cycle of Colin Wilson. In Nietzschean terms we might speak here of expanding - not consciousness - but the Will. The Runes as tools towards the dangerous path of the Uebermensch. And of course, Crowley's Thelema would be relevant here too.
'I could not so narrow me.'

There are a few parts where I can's quite make out what she says, or else I am not sure to whom she is referring. I have marked these with [?] - perhaps some readers might be able to give some info here.

More on Musick

COH : You had a concert a few days ago. How long before that had you performed?

FA: Twenty-two years. I had had offers before that from Italy, but as you hear my voice is fucked - twenty years of smoking dope will do that. So I said 'I can't do it anymore'. But actually, I could when it came down to it.

PP: Once you got out on stage your voice was terrific.

COH: Did you make the magical connections?

FA: Yes, but not the way I would have liked. I would have liked to have had sufficient space within a circle with four candles around, rather than all in one row, and a bell and a light to invoke. But that couldn't be done, I had about twenty inches to work with. The stage was cluttered with big equipment and stuff like that. I would like in a performance to move about and use my body to throw the energy out. I was standing there like this [stands up straight throwing one arm out in front of her] - that was about the only direction I could move in. If I was to, for instance, invoke from the East or the South, I would have to turn my back on the microphone. So I did the best I could, but the venue should have been bigger so I could really strut my stuff and bang down the power of Odin!
That was a once-only performance, so we can't do that again, but there's nothing to stop me from appearing as a guest with SixthComm.

COH: Are you writing new pieces?

FA: I am considering using the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem (1) - I might need some help with the pronunciation. My original language is Dutch/Frisian, so it shouldn't be a problem. And then I would like to do a stanza of the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem and some rune chants - then it isn't a Fruits album anymore, it's a different thing! I have to talk to Patrick about the music.

On Seidhr

COH: Seidhr work ... trance ... possession. You were quite a pioneer of that; when did it start?

FA: I have never been able to get possessed by Odin. All I get - it is like my mind is bigger, incorporated into a greater mind and then I just get the information. I have never claimed to be able to do what other people claim they can do - basically it ends up the same as spiritualism, mediumship: a lot of ego, competition, and a lot of faking.
I'm finished with that side as well. It's not for me.
I can do Seidhr; I don't go trancey - asleep - I go hyper. I start moving around; I've got the runes and I start giving the information - someone will ask me a question, then pick a rune, put it in my hand, and I'll start giving the information.
Most people who work with trance narrow their consciousness down; I expand it. I go hyper rather than under the radar; I expand it. It's probably another form of trance, I don't know. I've never fitted in with anybody's system.

The Enclave

COH: Going back to the 1980s, what was the best of the magical community for you at that time?

FA: [Ponders for a while] The Enclave. We started that off with the ideal of getting a group of magicians living in the same house - we had everything: we had people who worshipped Baphomet, we had all sorts. We had Alison [?] - she started off being strictly Jewish - then I pointed out that the Jews do have goddesses as well. So she went more to the Palestinian Goddess mystery side. It was a constant turnover of people: Dave Rankine (2) was living there at one point. There were meetings there - Craft meetings, CND meetings. I started my Asatru Rune Workshop there.
The 80s for me was absolutely wonderful. Geraldine from Atlantis (3) - she remembers me from 1979 on a visit.

1) The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem. (in Anglo-Saxon).
3) Geraldine Beskin, owner of The Atlantis Bookshop in London [near the British Museum].

Part Three

Some more inspired - both serious and amusing -stuff from Freya. Here she talks of Loki and Odin amongst other things, making the especially interesting formulation of Odin as the Antinomian.

The Enclave, continued

FA: And then I met Lionel and Jean and Zach and all the interesting people. Then the interest in Crowley - Zach was always going on about Crowley - I walked in there with the whole Equinox (2) - and Zach's face was, OH!
I bought it in the 1970s in Holland and I couldn't even read it because I'd never been taught English! [A: Laughter] It's only now that I've really been getting into Kenneth Grant - I bought them in the 1980s, I couldn't read them for the same reason. Now I go through one a week; I've got them all lined up!
Zach was a very inspirational person, he really was. His energy and his intimacy - we just sparked off, because of the the similarity. I don't know how he is now ...

COH: He's the same.

FA: ... but Zach and me never actually had one good conversation together. They wouldn't have it. When Lionel was at work, Jean basically told me to get out of the house. Lionel always did the shopping on Saturday, then he popped into Hornsey Road [?] and I wasn't allowed to come along because me and Zach would just talk about a magical subject and go right over their heads!
And they didn't like that, because they - with all their fancy educations and dressing up ... And there was me - a piece of scum out of a Borstal (3). I hit it off, operating on an intellectual level they could only dream about.
I didn't know then, but I now know why. They perceived me as a threat. Not a threat in the sense, 'I'm going to fucking kick your fucking head in', either: another type of threat.

Rune Reading

COH: When did you start reading the runes for other people?

FA: I started doing it Camden Psychic Centre in 1986 (4). There was a community of astrologers, tarot readers, in some kind of big place where everybody had their own little stall. I did, for a couple of weeks, readings there. I didn't get a lot of readings because although I'm very good with the runes I haven't got the social skills to sell. I couldn't push myself. People had to come to me if they wanted a reading. I have no social graces - that's how I grew up.

COH: What do you like best about reading the runes?

FA: I like really interesting stuff. Not 'is my boyfriend going to come back to me?', and all that kind of mundane trash. When I was in Hollywood doing readings and the wife of the producer had a reading, and I diagnosed then and there that she had a tumour in her breast. She went to the doctor and that it was cured. That is the kind of stuff when you go, Fuck!
Because the Berkano rune was in the 11th House - that could mean a hundred things! But I knew! I just knew that she was in pain, and she just thought it was her lungs. It wasn't her lungs [?] - Right: cut the cameras! I took her aside and gave her healing [?] and get your arse off to a doctor.
This happened, and stuff like that - intervention in people's lives.

COH: Do you still read for people? You are not a self-promoter ...

FA: I wish I could, I'd make a lot more money, but I don't know how!
But I do readings on the Internet now. I use Skype. But also, I take the photograph and put it on my altar and it takes about three days. I look at it and meditate and have a wee spliff and then I make a note then something else comes through - and then it builds up into a profile.
I then e-mail it to them and I have not had one single complaint ever. If they do then the money goes back [?]. But I don't do a lot - I'm lucky to have about two a month. I make about sixty dollars a month. I've got to keep doing it - you know what they say: 'use it or lose it' - And that's true for everything.
And locally ... [?] Spain is not an animal-friendly country and so the vets spend most of their time saving animals. So you have these meetings like Crufts, but its called Scruffs [A: Laughter], where you see these dogs and cats and you pay - its raising money for animal welfare and then I go around doing rune readings for animal welfare and that's where the money goes - to raise money for animals.

COH: Did you always read as well as you can now?

FA: It's not just that that rune in that position means that. There is a signature - a ground tone, if you like - of the meaning of that rune in that space in the context of the question ... But then it turns into a stream of information, which fire a lot of different associations which are no longer pertain to the literal meaning of that rune. So it opes up clairvoyant perception in that sense.

Questions from the Audience:


Q: How do you perceive Loki?

FA: He's Odin's solicitor [A: Laughter]
No, Loki is an integral part of the pantheon. In America especially, and to a lesser extent in England, you've got still this dualistic perception of good gods/bad gods - like the Christian God and the Devil - and this gets projected onto every other system that people start working with.
But I'll give you an exercise: take the Norse myths - download them from the Internet - copies of the Eddas. Remove Loki - take a black pen, move him out because he's evil - and look what you're left with [A: Laughter].
He is an integral part of the system. Yes. he is a trickster - but so is Odin. If you look at it from the perspective of the Seven Powers or the Seven Rays (5), they both follow the Mercury. However. I was married to Lionel, and his Craft name was 'Loki'. [A: Laughter]
The only way to deal with Darkness is to confront it, because it is only the absence of Light. It is not necessarily 'evil' in modern day moralistic terms because it's a load of conventional convenience crap anyway.


Q: What is the Racial Folk Soul?

FA: I have never made any racial statements. I approach that from the Jungian perspective. It's nothing to do with the colour of one's skin. One of the most advanced students I have is half-Chinese, his name is Vincent, he has written at least two books on the runes.

Q: This is not made clear in Leaves of Yggdrasil.

FA: No, because at that time I didn't have the knowledge I have now - the book is dated, as books are. I wrote in 1986 - of course, I have changed my views; that's the whole object of any occult discipline. There is stuff in that book that I wouldn't write today, but I have never denied any person membership of any of the groups I have been involved in because of race. Monotheistic religions, yes; but not race. [A: Laughter]

Q: There is a connection between Voudon and the Nordic Tradition?

FA: That's something that I've only hit upon fairly recently, this year. So that is a subject I'm still exploring and investigating. But yes, I do find that the numerology and the god forms I work with correspond. The Norse gods correspond with the Voudon gods far better than with the Greek.
It is the energies - and I am also investigating and exploring the possibility that they both may share an even older source. (6)

Gods, Goddesses, Wights and Ancestors

Q: Could you say a little about your relationship with [the goddess] Freyja?

FA: Well, to my eternal shame, there isn't one [A: Laughter]. I have never been able to relate to goddesses, probably because my mother was a bitch and she could get away with it. I have never bothered with it.

COH: But you changed your name [to Freya].

FA: No, I was given that name in the Craft and then I put 'As-wynn' - Ansuz, Wunjo [runes] and strung them two runes together to have a surname, so I could write a book [A: Laughter]. The name Freya was given by a Craft person, Will Elliott - he was a sword maker in the 1980s, he lived in Kent, he was making Craft Swords. And he asked me in 1980-1, at an Aquarian [?] festival, 'where do you come from?' And I said, 'Holland' - well, 'West-Frieseland'. He said, 'Freya's Land'! And I said to Lionel [nudges] that's it, that's my Craft name.
The surname was done by a process of analysis. Ansuz being Odin, and Wunjo being [coyly] .... Odin's Joy - you know ... [A: Laughter]
It was sentimental crap - but I was only thirty!

Q: You mentioned Liber Astarte, and rather than shutting it down at the end, you get married. My experience with one of the deities I worked with was the same thing. I never expected that to happen, but the marriage became inevitable. Was that what you found too? It wasn't so much that you sought the marriage ...

FA: Yes - I thought I did. But then Odin laid the scent through Kveldulf [?]. 'It was your idea was it?' [slyly] [A: Laughter] Although I was really embarrassed; how would I dare to assume? I was this kind of, 'I'm not worthy - I'm not worthy', like a lot of people of my generation grew up. We all know where it comes from, it comes out of the cancerous womb in the Middle East, where all this shit emerges from. That is just psychological conditioning and shit being shoved down the line, but give me light [?] [A: Laughter].

Q: I'm interested in what you said about losing your connection to Odin.

FA: That was through the intervention of malicious magic. (7)

Q: I work more with Freyja and Frigga, and I find that I'll have a good couple of years with one and then I'll switch and have a good couple of years with the other.

FA: That makes sense because as a women you go through different life-cycles as well, only Freyja, Frigg and Holda. The only goddess I have a tenuous connection with is the Elder form of the goddess [?Holda?] (8) and of course the Norns. They are the ultimate power - they are the ones that write the Laws for Aesir and men. And in that respect Odin is the archetype of the antimonian (9), who says 'Ah well perfect' [?].
Thus his whole objective of submitting himself to the ordeal of the Tree (10) and the Eye, and travelling down to the Origins.
Some people say that He hangs upside down on the Tree because of the Tarot Hangman. But that's a load of crap. The Tree is upside down. And he goes back to the primeval primeval origins to grasp the runes.
I am not referring to the Futhark runes; they are only the physical imprint of twenty-four cosmic streams of energy and principles of the Universe. And He uses that to postpone Ragnarok. And in this He is obviously the antinomian - He is looking for immortality. Submitting to the decree of the Norns [ironically]: Odin and the Norns are not always on the best of terms, I presume [A: Laughter]

Q: If the Tree is upside down, does that mean that Asgard is down?

FA: I haven't worked that one out yet. It's just an intuitional flash that I got, but I haven't done the intellectual analysis to back it up. So that again is something that is simmering away on the hard-drive in the subconscious, and sooner or later I will define it more clearly.

Q: What relation do you have with the Valkyries and do you work with your own Disir in any way?

FA: No, absolutely not. I work with Odin.
Do you mean Disir of my family line?
It has been said by one trance medium in the States - one in Ireland, and one in Florida - that I am a direct descendant, genetically, of the Volsungs. (11) So I try to hook in with the Volsung line. My immediate ancestors ... [shrugs] they're scum! And they're dead now, and they can hear me speak, and that bitch is probably cleaning out the toilets in Valhalla after the Vikings have finished spewing.
I have not been able to link in with the Disir and that is part of my own personal psychology and the life I was subjected to as a child: severe abuse, and then the care system, until the age of nineteen!
I choose my ancestors. Diane Fortune is an ancestor, Crowley is an ancestor.
These are the people I honour and probably others I can't remember at the moment.

1) Zachary Cox was editor of the Aquarian Arrow journal, founded in 1977. Presumably the Jean mentioned is Jean Williams.
3) Correctional institutions for unruly and violent youths set up in England. The name came to be used generically for such type of institutions.
4) Camden, a 'trendy' area of North London which has a large market around a canal and a disused railway tramshed.
6) In a review of a book on Voudon, Freya says; "If we consider the scientific fact that the Black Race is the oldest form of Homo Sapiens, the first to appear from Africa, and dispersing all over the planet, it stands to reason that their gods and mysteries are also the oldest on the planet, from which all others could be derived." See 'Voudon Gnosis' under 'Popular' on her website page:
7) Referring here to the time when her connection with Odin was lost, and which led to her marriage to Him [see previous lecture].
8) There is a break in the transmission here.
10) The World tree Yggdrasil, of course.

Part Four

The last part of the lecture develops what has been the constant theme of an Odinist/Voudon comparison. Here she nails the point quite definitively. As before, she makes some staggering insights, such as the concept of the Group Mind.

FA: I do spiritual ancestors - not physical ones.
I cannot do a ritual or working if I don't feel the connection. If I want that I go to church. [A: Laughter] Come on [To A], get those braincells going!


Q: Do you feel there is a future for Wiccans and Asatru working together? I feel there is resistance on both sides sometimes.

FA: Ideally, yes. But the resistance, as you said, comes from the people, not from the gods; they don't give a damn whether they're invoked in a circle or in another ritual format. This is people again. The gods are quite happy to be invoked in a Wiccan circle - I did it. I was a Gardnerian (1) witch. I just put the altar in the North, the Norse gods on it, and the [?] buggered off, you know [A: Laughter]. I just did Craft rituals involving the Norse gods for years before I actually found any information to extend and develop Asatru in this kind of thing, because there was nothing.

COH: Could you say a bit more about your development of Asatru?

FA: Well, the thing is, a lot of the people in heathenry focus very much on historical accuracy - which is excellent. But, at one point (2) ... that is where spirituality comes in. You cannot legislate and regulate spirituality. You can invoke in Voudon style with a drum; you can invoke in a Craft circle ... you can set up a Nordic ... I've got that scheme of Yggdrasil - but if you put Gunningagap at the top instead of Asgard, you can even impose the conventional Cabbalsitic tree on it as well.
It's just your own personal creativity.
The gods - they are fine with all of it.
But it is the human who's got to expand and develop the creativity.
At one point, when I got first really involved in the 80s with Odin, I really didn't want to know about anything else: Egyptian, Celt, Greek - all that stuff - No!
Because that was it - that was what I had to focus on.
If I hadn't of done that I would've waters it down with other stuff. I would never have been able to produce the type of work I have produced.
So that that is the roots of my Yggdrasil.
But, now I start branching out. I start looking at Voudon, I start taking a renewed look at Cabala. Not only to the surface of the system, but the matrix underneath; and then you find that you can practically duplicate the lot!


Q: A technical question about the use of formulae in galdrar (3). Do you combine different formulae you have already worked with, or do you impose a new interpretation?

FA: Either. It would depend on what it is for. The runes - when I did the concert - those runes with the verses of Havamal, I did that in 1988. I may do different ones now, because I have learnt a lot more since then. But that doesn't invalidate my earlier work.

Q: In your performance there was one section where there were 'slings of runes' ...

FA: Yeah ... that is Sigdrifumal. I took the most obvious ones where the rune meanings fitted the description: 'ale runes' - alu, laguz, uruz, spelt ale; 'birth runes', obviously fehu, berkano, perthro.

COH: You said that when you started out you had no one to share it with, but by 1991 the runes were the coolest thing ever ...

FA: I started in 1981! The first time I was asked to speak was at the 'Oxford Golden Dawn Society', and certain people ... - in every talk I gave: 'Fellowship of Isis', 'Occult University Leeds', I've done them all - and every time it was; "Are you a Nazi?" And it went on and on, and of course, I was not.
But I just talked about the runes. I had a white board and I just pulled them down - what they meant and how you combined them. And I just did that on the trot, on the trot; workshops as well and it just got bigger and bigger, the book coming out in '88.

Chaos, Edred and the Aeon

COH: What led into the Chaos (4) community? These big hulking guys, with the goatee beards and big black jackets, who looked very frightening to me at the time. Runes were the cutting-edge, and these were bad, bad guys, who were not fluffy.

FA: That's why they chose the runes, you see, because it is dark and it is dodgy [A: Laughter]. Have you any idea what amount of resistance I had to shift before the runes were finally accepted as a respectable system?
And that is from your tradition and all! [angry] I was a fucking pariah in the Gardnerian scene when I started using the runes - I was a Nazi!
In 1993-4 I hit the States and then it really took off.
And also Edred Thorsson was working at the Odinic Rite and he was coming out with this fantastic stuff. And we were basically 'polarised' in some weird way: European/American - me and Edred, and Kveldulf later on.
Edred was the Left Hand Path, and I was the so-called Right Hand Path [ironically]. Edred's path was about power, mine was about service - we complemented each other in that regard. We crossed swords a couple of times.

Q: Do you use runes for an aeonic purpose - do you try to influence world events/global consciousness?

FA: Only with regards to the environment and animal welfare. And of course I used whatever runic energies, or other energies I could muster to promote Obama because that is the biggest paradox of the whole century for obvious reasons.
I'm no longer on this set path. I have given thirty years of solid service to the gods and the folk, now I'm working on my own state of gnosis and whatever time I have left is for me. To read what I like, to practise what I like. To interface with other cultures and currents I enjoy working with, and that's it.


COH: What's exciting you at the moment?

FA: I find these marvellous synchronicities and energy similarities between the Norse system and various forms of the African systems - all of them.

Q: This attraction pull to Voudon; is it something about the bargaining process that you have with the Norse gods that they also have in Vodoun?

FA: No. For me, the connection is that you read those Norse Sagas, and you read this description that there is a big war going on, with sorcerers. And you read how they fight;- somebody does a sending, somebody else does a shape-shift, somebody else goes to look in a house for a different person and that person isn't there, but all they see is a goat.
Which is all very nice, until you want to know how the fuck do they do that?
And that's when you look at Vodoun. I've always said that we have lost ninety-nine point nine per cent of our magical technology. And because both strands are so similar, you can study - look - at Voudon, and related religions, and you find how they did it, and you can recover the actual practical, magical way of working.
Another way [?] both Voudon and Asatru - maybe today it's not done to the same extent - they both sacrifice animals. It's part of the process. There's another similarity, the way we use the runes, they use the shells. And the numbers fit, and the deities fit, and the whole thing is like - 'serving with both hands ' - [gestures like juggling in the air] literally.

Q: How do you deal with the ancestor cult in Voudon, of Black Africa?

FA: They're not my ancestors. My ancestry is Dutch, and for the most part, they're shite. So I have replaced them with heroes, both like the Volsungs, and my personal occult heroes. But I don't actually do any ancestor worship - I wouldn't know how to. And I've never actually missed it; it's not a vacuum in my magical life that I have to do this, I never have.

Q: Why haven't powerful Voudon sorcerers been able to make a dent in the influence of Western monolithic and technological invasions? (5) Is there something about this type of magic that is useful only on the level of personal power?

: On the level of personal power - because all kinds of magic goes against the grain.
It is antinomian by its very nature.
You can't use magic to change society because you're dealing with 'group mind' (6). A group mind of seven or eight magicians working together can never combat the group mind of - shall we say - the Catholic Church, or the Government.
On the mind level, it's a numbers game; there are more of them than there are of us.
I have no desire to change society's social structure.
Why should I: what have they done for me? Fuck 'em. [A: Laughter] I work for myself and those people I care about.
Yes, it's all degenerate, but so what? I just keep myself outside of that strata. Once you start working magic for social or political ends, it becomes a materialistic pursuit, albeit not in a gross materialistic [?], and you use magic for that kind of cause.
Alright, in the 80s when I used to do the odd openings of other people's performances, I used to curse Thatcher (7), because it was bloody cool to do that! [A: Laughter]
But I never meant her any harm! [A: Laughter] A concert by Dave Tibet or Death In June, you opened it with a big looney curse on Thatcher - you knew you were going to get the punters' applause anyway.

Q: What of the correlation between Odin and Ghede Nibo? (8)

FA: I haven't worked that one out. I talked on a Voudon Gnostic website, and said 'who do you think Odin would have more in common with?' [stops suddenly, genuinely embarrassed] - Oh fuck, now I've given away that it was me! [A: Laughter] The idea is, I want to learn off of people, so when I join a list I use the name Elisabeth or something because I don't want people to immediately start polarising - 'Ah, Freya Aswynn!' But I posed that question on the list - because I studied both and I can't quite make up my mind. But its so rich a field, that there is more and more and more!
And you keep changing - but you don't have to be set in a mind-set. The change is of itself the process by which your mind develops.

Odin - Wodan - Woden

Q: What aspect of Odin have been important to at different times?

FA: When I made my first contact it was with Wodan - my native Dutch. But I started to get involved with all the academic side, and they used the term 'Odin', so I ended up fitting in with them and using the term Odin. [break in transmission - end]

2) Break in transmission
4) Chaos Magic, an occult movement begun in the late 1970s.
5) It is said that Voudon was used by the slaves in Haiti when they overthrew - and massacred - their white masters in the 18th century. However, it must be said - pace Freya's answer - that the slave population outnumbered that of the white in that situation.
6) See The Group Mind (1920) by William McDougall.
7) Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister from 1979-1990
8) Ghede Nibo is a Voudon god