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The Way Of Wyrd: Tales Of An Anglo Saxon Sorcerer

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  972 ratings  ·  102 reviews
Sent on a mission deep into the forests of pagan Anglo-Saxon England, Wat Brand, a Christian scribe, suddenly finds his vision of the world turned upside down. The familiar English countryside is not what it seems: threatening spirits, birds of omen and plants of power lurk in this landscape of fallen terrors and mysterious forces. With Wulf, a sorcerer and mystic, as his ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 25th 1984 by Century (first published November 1st 1983)
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James Morcan
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book changed my life...for the better...made me look at the world in an entirely different way.
I also liked how it is a novel based on or inspired by a true story.

The novel is set in 6th Century England when the pagans still controlled the land. It's based on a real manuscript found that was written by a monk from that era.

Basically, the plot is a young German monk arrives in England to attempt to convert the "heathens" to Christianity, but ends up being surprised by the sophistication of t
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While reading other materials for a class on Shamanism was more informational and gave me a good idea of Shamanism, this book gave me a true and potent picture. This book is written as fiction, but researched impeccably by the author, Brian Bates, an anthropologist and professor of shamanic consciousness at the University of Brighton in the UK. His reason for writing this fact-based story as fiction was to make it more accessible to the average reader. This was genius.

It is not an exaggeration
Steve Cran
May 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the pre- Christian times of Great Britain when England was divided into
many small kingdoms , a monk from the Christian kingdom of Mercia is sent to
learn the pagan ways of a neighboring kingdom. The purpose is to bring them over
to Christianity .

Eappa , the head monk of the monastery sends him on this frightful mission. A
guide has been arranged for this hapless monk and what follows is the adventure
of a life time.

Brand, the protagonist arrives in a neighboring kingdom via ship to expe
Michael Brookes
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first discovered this book through one of my favourite albums of all time - Dreamweaver by Sabbat - which quite simply pure poetry with racous guitars and drums. The album is based on this book telling the story of Wat Brands' quest to discover the secrets of Saxon beliefs.

Naturally the book covers a lot more detail than the album and that extra richness adds a lot to the story. This is a fascinating journey, not only of very different faiths, but also differences in mindsets. The exploration
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, philosophy
Not sure what to make of this. Obviously, I've come across the concept of wyrd before, since I spent a good chunk of my degree fangirling over Anglo-Saxon poetry, but Brian Bates proposes a whole shamanic faith and a way of interacting with the world that, frankly, I didn't find convincing. Obviously I've really only encountered the Anglo-Saxon world through a Christian viewpoint, as only Christians kept records like that, but this just didn't ring true to me. Knowing that it was meant to be nei ...more
May 07, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In places, I found this a hard slog as his narrative doesn't flow as easily or evoke images as well as a natural writer's might. However the material he had at the centre of his book is fascinating and I loved many of the descriptions of the Wyrd and the spirituality of the pagans. You come away with an understanding of the way of Wyrd but it leaves you hungry for more. Perhaps this is its aim. My copy, published by Hay House, was rife with typos and grammatical errors and this was distracting. ...more
Ancestral Gaidheal
This is a wonderful fictional account of a young Christian scribe, Wat Brand, who is sent on a mission to record details of the pagan society in England. He is met by a guide, Wulf, who leads him on his journey ... Wat's life is about to be turned upside down on the web of wyrd.

Brian Bates explores the ways of Anglo-Saxon magic through the fictional characters of Wat and Wulf. A well told story with some amazingly researched information amongst the weave.

This is one book that will be kept on m
Gabriel Clarke
Conceptually interesting bit I suspect there's a lot more "speculative synthesis" with shamanic techniques from other cultures than the author owns up. And it's worrying that an academic still thinks the witch hunts of antiquity were all about oppressing the "old religion" (try heresy, the outsider, politics, greed, individual malice - the list goes on and on. And don't forget that identical criteria and accusations were made by pagan Rome against Christians and Christians against Jews).

As a nov
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm torn. I really wanted to like this book and the underlying concept - a monk who encounters Anglo-Saxon shamanism and learns to be a sorcerer - is so cool. However, the prose is cringeworthy; there are at least 1-3 adverbs per sentence, everyone "apparently" does things, and the narrator never stops trembling and being sick. I think this novel was also the author's excuse to dump all his research into a story. Pretty sure every piece of the narrator's dialogue was a question beginning with "B ...more
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. My nutshell summary would be an Anglo-Saxon version of the Teachings of Don Juan only not made up.

I recognized elements of yoga and Taoism in the events of this book. I believe it's because all of the above derive from a common source if you go back far enough.
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one book that has immensely and profoundly changed my life. I read this sometime back in high school after getting into a metal album whose lyrics are a beautiful poem that pretty much follows the story line of this book. This was one of those life changing books that alter your perception of the world around you a la Tales of Power or the Tao. Keep going back to it again and again and every time pull something new out of it. Great Book
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in June 1998.

This book arose from an academic look at "shamanism" in pre-Christian, Anglo-Saxony England. Bates looks at this culture through the eyes of an outsider, Wat Brand, a priest sent to learn how the shamans work so that the church can combat them as they move into the area (I think) now covered by the New Forest. He receives an education in the way of the Wyrd (the principle governing the pagan world-view) from the shaman Wulf.

It's an interesting ed
Claudia Putnam
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lively writing despite info dumps, excellent job handling the anglo-saxon "medical" poetry--Bates did a great job with the poetry himself. If the book suffers it's because it came out during the time when everyone was relying on the Eliade/Castaneda view of shamanism and unfortunately doesn't imagine the anglo-saxon world as terribly different from that universalist view. We're offered a view into a lost world, but only one that brings us in line with animism as it may (or may not, now that Cast ...more
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow!! This book totally rocked my world! The story is so engaging and the philosophies imparted in such a natural beautiful delivery within the story that I found myself contemplating deep thoughts while being thoroughly entertained. I've never read a book ending in a bibliography that I didn't like and this one holds true to that theme.

This was a very slow read for me. Partially due to being sick for the past several days but mostly because there was so much to absorb that was complex and thoug
Dec 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant!I've read this book three times now, and every time I find something to open my mind further - I can not recommend this book high enough. If you like historical novels, or just simply enjoy voyages into the hidden depths of the human condition, beyond conventional 'spirituality' and into the heart of existence then this book delivers. Outstanding. ...more
Cynthia Egbert
I was led to this book because it is a documentary novel offering a backstory to one of the few remaining Anglos-Saxon books. I am glad that I found it. If you have any interest in the pagan religion that existed in the UK before Christianity made an appearance, this is a novel that you would appreciate.
Sterling Gate Books
The Way of Wyrd is like time travelling back into an ancient era. Loved every page of it.
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-hard-copy, occult
I read this book 35+ years ago. I loved it. It's fiction presented as based on historical fact. Who knows. It felt true though. ...more
Charity Bedell
The book The Way of Wyrd is a fictional story of a Christian Monk who is sent to learn the ways of the Anglo-Saxon pagans. The story is rich and entertaining. The author worked hard to research and present the information in a way that was informative and entertaining. By working the true beliefs of the Anglo-Saxon sorcerers into this work of fiction the author has brought back the use of stories to transmit knowledge and information.

The book is actually in two parts. The first part focuses on t
Although I didn't want this to hinder my experience I found this novel to be slow to start and found myself distracted quite a bit, however in saying that, the parts I did focus on were really interesting.

I found the concept behind this, being fiction based on factual events of a kind, really interesting and made for a very creative and unique plot.

In terms of characters, we only really encounter Wat and Wulf and although Wulf was a toughy to figure out I think I ended up liking him, whilst Wat,
I loved the ending of this book and some of the ideas around Wyrd, but there were also many eye-roll moments. The writing is pretty over-done, sometimes confusing, and often repetitive (I felt like I was reading this book for way longer than I wanted to our was necessary). Also, this book is touted as being a glimpse into AngloSaxon paganism but reads like what one would expect of a sensationalized, medieval Christian version of "ancient island primitive religion". I'm sure the manuscript Bates ...more
Gary Morley
I have mixed feelings about this book. Although only 200 short pages long it seemed to take me forever to get through it. Although written as a story it is an interpretation of a number of historic documents which catalogue the skills and services of sorcerers of the Anglo-Saxon era before Christianity truly tightened its grip on Western Europe.

As an explanation of those documents it's quite reasonable; as a story it's slow, sluggish and dull.

The story is about a junior missionary who is sent
G. Vasey
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Super book. well written. Messages on multiple levels... Almost my favorite book of all time!

Finally reprinted this is a true classic. At one time, this book used might sell for $500! Sent on a mission deep into the forests of pagan Anglo-Saxon England, Wat Brand, a Christian scribe, suddenly finds his vision of the world turned upside down. The familiar English countryside is not what it seems: threatening spirits, birds of omen and plants of power lurk in this landscape of fallen terrors and m
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pagan
To me this book was like finding home. I have been a pagan for a long time, but for the first time I found someone describing what is very close indeed to how I have always found the world. My five-star rating is very personal and I do not expect everyone to find this book as usefull as I did, but to me it was a comfort, finally showing me that I am at least not alone in my views on at least some things.

I think the thing you really have to get used to is that it is written as a personal account
Having a slight obsession with all things Pagan/Celtic/pre-Christian this was a perfect read for me! Exploring the pagan beliefs of Anglo-Saxon England, Bates takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the lore of runes, fate, life force, wyrd and the ideas of the soul. Seen through the eyes of a Christian missionary this provides an interesting point of balance and an opportunity for showing the similarities and differences in faith of this period. A compelling story about the search for ...more
Allyson Shaw
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
It's been a long time since I've been genuinely startled by a book. I found myself reading wide-eyed, my inner OMG firing. There is a lot of wonder and humor here-- I expected something wooden and maybe corny, given the premise is primarily historial anthropology and theoretical conjecture. But Wulf will remain in my mind as one of the most vivid characters of any fiction I've read. I can still hear his voice. The ending is bittersweet, given the fate of pagan mystic traditions-- not just on thi ...more
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy this book, but it was quite good. As an attempt at reconstruction of pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon religion, it's quite interesting. It draws strong parallels with Meso-American sorcery and core shamanism, while remaining strongly Germanic in character. There was a certain realism to the way in which the sorcery happened, as well, as it never really got so outrageous as to be unbelievable. I was a little concerned that the main character was a Christian missionar ...more
Aug 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book can be read as a beautiful fantasy story and it is very engaging on that level.
Its protagonist lives at a time of transition from shamanism to christianity and is caught up in those changes and transformed by them.
Written by a Professor of Dark Age history it is also a fascinating fictional account of a world we don't know much about.

It's underlying idea of the Way of Wyrd is fascinating - anyone whose mind turns to the web will find this book enchanting.
Elle Pugsley
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exquisitely intriguing book on a subject matter up until now i knew little of, highly enjoyable read due to the brilliant use of beautiful language to expertly describe tantalizing imagery. A simply fantastic book, delving into a realm of sorcery to enlighten the soul.
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been awhile since I read this but I think it was very interesting and well written.i know I liked it! ...more
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22 likes · 2 comments
“Thoughts are like raindrops,’ he persisted, introducing yet another of his interminable images. ‘They fall, make a splash and then dry up. But the world of wyrd is like the mighty oceans from which raindrops arise and to which they return in rivers and streams.” 5 likes
“us to comprehend, for we are ourselves part of wyrd and cannot stand back to observe it as if it were a separate force.” 2 likes
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