Saturday, December 31, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 44

If you have a friend,
and know her to be loyal,
share your thoughts with her.
Exchange gifts and visit her often.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 43

A man should be faithful to his friends,
and the friends of his friends.
But a man should never be,
a friend to the enemy of his friends.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 42

A man should be faithful to his friends,
and exchange kindness and gifts.
Laugh and have a good time with him,
but if he lies to you, don't feel ashamed to lie in return.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 41

With gifts, shared challenges and family bonds,
friends build stronger relationships.
Those who share in the gifts life has to offer,
may have long lasting relationships.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 40

Many people work very hard to acquire things,
and then forget to enjoy all that they've worked for.
Take pleasure in what you've earned,
while you're still alive to do it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 39

No woman is too wealthy,
to appreciate being given a gift.
Even the man who has everything,
understands the kindness in a thoughtful present.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 38

Keep your weapons and tools close,
a man should not be without them.
You never know when you leave home,
what difficulties you may face.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 37

Even a little shack of your own is better than none,
at least in your own home you're the master.
A man who has to beg for his meals,
is sure to feel discouraged and heartsick.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 36

Even a little shack of your own is better than none,
at least in your own home you're the master.
Being able to provide for your own needs,
is better than begging in the street.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 35

Don't outstay your welcome,
when visiting friends or family.
You risk going from someone who is admired,
to someone who is loathed and despised.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 34

It seems like a long and arduous journey to visit a person you don't like,
even though he might live next door.
But it's always a pleasure to go and visit a true friend,
even if he's half a world away.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 33

It's a good idea to have something to eat,
before you go to visit friends.
That way you can focus on conversation,
and not preoccupied satisfying your hunger.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 32

Often people tease each other,
although they might not mean any real harm,
such casual insults,
may lead to bitter anger.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 31

The wise man leaves the party,
when people start arguing or slinging insults.
You never know who has enemies,
and what trouble might then ensue.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 30

Don't ridicule another man,
even if he's a friend or family.
Anyone can seem confident,
if they're not the one in the spotlight.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 29

Someone who talks non-stop,
isn't going to win many friends.
Unrestrained blabbering,
can get you into allot of trouble.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 28

A wise man knows
how to ask and answer questions intelligently.
Just remember that whatever is said among men,
is difficult to conceal or keep secret from others.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 27

When mingling with others,
a man who knows little is best to be silent.
Nobody will know he's a fool,
unless he opens his mouth.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 26

The ignorant fool thinks he knows everything,
when he's safe at home;
He finds he doesn't have much to say,
when questioned by other men.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 25

The fool thinks,
all who laugh with him are friends.
Then he finds in times of need,
none of those men will help him.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 24

The fool thinks,
all who laugh with him are friends.
He doesn't understand,
wiser men are laughing at him.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 23

It does no good to lie awake all night,
ruminating on your problems.
You wake up tired,
and your troubles are still there.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 22

Its a petty fool
who laughs at others for their shortcomings.
Nobody is free from faults.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 21

Even a herd of cows
stop grazing when they're full.
The glutton never knows
when to stop eating.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 20

The greedy man eats too much.
Among more sensible people,
he's teased and mocked
for his big belly.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 19

You don't need to refrain from ever drinking,
but when you do, drink in moderation.
If you have something worth saying, then say it,
otherwise it's best to keep quiet.
Don't worry about leaving a party early,
nobody will ridicule you for turning in at a decent hour.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 18

A man's perception of others,
grows the more places he visits,
and the wider he's traveled.
The wise man
begins to understand
what motivates other men.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 17

A foolish man gapes,
when at a party with friends or family.
He prattles, mopes and stares
the whole time.
If he drinks a little,
he becomes more comfortable and at ease.

Friday, November 11, 2011

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 16

The coward thinks he will live forever
by avoiding battle and other dangers.
Old age spares no man,
despite escaping harm.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 15

A leader should listen to his followers, be charitable
and show courage in times of trouble.
All a mans life he should strive to have a positive outlook,
and always be ready to contribute and do his part.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 14

I became far too drunk,
at the wise Fjalar's gathering.
The best party is one where
you drink in moderation
and keep your wits.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Eoghan Odinsson YouTube Channel

Folks, I'd like to let you know that I have a YouTube channel up and running now. There isn't too much there yet, but based on the popularity of my "Whither the Ring-Givers?", I plan to post more videos up there.

I'll keep doing some original works, but I will also put together videos for passages from the Eddas, Sagas and other sources.

As I always ask, if you enjoy what I do, please tell your friends, buy my book, and support my continued work in this area.

Best wishes!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Harvestfest / Winternights (Old Norse - Vetrnætr)

Winter Nights or Old Norse Vetrnætr was a Norse winter festival that was initially celebrated in pre-Christian Scandinavia. It was said by Snorri Sturluson that Winter Nights is one of the three most important festivals.

The following is from

Winternights is held the 31st of October. Winternights marked the final end of harvest and the time when the animals that were not expected to make it through the winter were butchered and smoked or made into sausage. The festival is also called "Elf-Blessing", "Dis-Blessing", or "Frey-Blessing", which tells us that it was especially a time of honouring the ancestral spirits, the spirits of the land, the Vanir, and the powers of fruitfulness, wisdom, and death. It marks the turning of the year from summer to winter, the turning of our awareness from outside to inside.

Among the Norse, the ritual was often led by the woman of a family - the ruler of the house and all within. One of the commonest harvest customs of the Germanic people was the hallowing and leaving of the "Last Sheaf" in the field, often for Odin and/or his host of the dead, though the specifics of the custom vary considerably over its wide range. The Wild Hunt begins to ride after Winternights, and the roads and fields no longer belong to humans, but to ghosts and trolls.

The Winternights feast is also especially seen as a time to celebrate our kinship and friendship with both the living and our earlier forebears. It marks the beginning of the long dark wintertime at which memory becomes more important than foresight, at which old tales are told and great deeds are toasted as we ready ourselves for the spring to come. It is a time to think of accomplishments achieved and those which have yet to be made. Winternights also marks the beginning of a time of indoor work, thought and craftsmanship.


These festival and feast celebrated the accessibility, veneration, awe, and respect of the dead. This was also a time for contemplation. To the ancient Germanic peoples death was never very far away, and it viewed as a natural and necessary part of life. To die was not as much of a surprise or tragedy it is in modern times and death as not viewed as something "scary" or "evil". Of higher importance to the Germanic people was to live & die with honour and thereby live on in the memory of the tribe and be honoured at this great feast.

Starting on this night, the great divisions between the worlds was somewhat diminished which can allow the forces of chaos to invade the realms of order, the material world conjoining with the world of the dead. At this time began the Wild hunt in which the restless spirits of the dead and those yet to be born walked amongst the living. The dead could return to the places where they had lived and food and entertainment were provided in their honour. In this way the tribes were at one with its past, present and future.

Again, the Christians forcefully subverted the sacred Germanic Heathen calendar to honour Christianity, Winter nights on October 31 became "All Hallows Eve" and November 1st was declared "All Saint's Day".

Text from the Odins's Volk online calendar.

Modernized Havamal - Verse 13

Forgetfulness hovers like a heron,
where you drink too much.
It robs a man of his mind and good sense.
One night at Gunnlath's place,
this happened to me (Odin).

Friday, October 28, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 12

Too much alcohol is not a good thing,
like some may tell you
The more you drink,
the less you know.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 11

There is nothing better
that a man may possess,
than a little common sense.
Whether you are traveling,
or encumbered by too much alcohol,
good sense is the best tool you have to keep you safe.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 10

There is nothing better
that a man may possess,
that a little common sense.
It's better than being rich,
especially in strange places and new situations,
this is the poor man's real wealth.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Whither the Ring-Givers ?

For my friends and fans who enjoy Kennings and metaphors as much as I do, here is a new poem for you, structured as an Elegy (no, not eulogy, lol)

Whither the Ring-Givers ?
Beneath a coal grey sky I stoop, upon a barren field, not fallow.
Amongst withered crops I wander, and kinsmen's graves all shallow.

For no men to harvest did we lend, lest your shield wall falter.
Our grain is spent,  no rings adorn our arms, our wealth you did not alter.

We were sons of heimdall brave, and held our oaths till Brynhild's sisters came.
For we loved our lord, our gods and kin, yet you flew with little shame.

In Urd's domain, heavy were my arms with rings, and so proudly did we sail,
O'er the whale road, beneath a shield of gold, our might did never fail.

My battle snake's teeth were daily soaked, my purse dragged at my belt.
Our Ring-Giver lead his fiersome  host, and kings before us knelt.

We the loyal, we the brave, dared Valhalla take us soon,
But Skuld was silent, and shared with us not, that we would lose our boon.

Whither thee Ring-Giver? Have we offended you? Did we not bleed?
But to a deaf sky I rage, my silent quarry will not heed.

I yet remember the heady days in Urd's court, with bellies full and eyes ahead.
So to Skuld's glorious hall we will lead the host, with weapons sharp and foes dead.

We brave and loyal sons of Rig march ever, on Skuld's road ahead,
we must resolve to be steadfast Ring-Givers, ever brave, ever loyal, beyond the halls of the dead.

- Eoghan Odinsson

If you enjoyed the poem, please follow my blog, and tell your friends. I'm a struggling self-published author trying to make ends meet, and need all the fan support I can get. Thanks for your patronage!

Discover the Legend of the Vorpal Sword

Anyone who has played Dungeons & Dragons surely remembers "The Vorpal Sword".In the game, a Vorpal Sword is defined as a sword with the magical effect that it tends to cut off opponents' heads.

This was the ultimate legendary weapon. But whence does this legend come? In what mythical forge of the gods was this dark blade conceived? Read on.


'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought--
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Jabberwocky" is a nonsense verse poem written by Lewis Carroll in his 1872 novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, a sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The book tells of Alice's adventures within the back-to-front world of a looking glass.

In a scene in which she is in conversation with the chess pieces White King and White Queen, Alice finds a book written in a seemingly unintelligible language. Realising that she is travelling through an inverted world, she recognises that the verse on the pages are written in mirror-writing. She holds a mirror to one of the poems, and reads the reflected verse of "Jabberwocky". She finds the nonsense verse as puzzling as the odd land she has walked into, later revealed as a dreamscape.

"Jabberwocky" is considered one of the greatest nonsense poems written in English. Its playful, whimsical language has given us nonsense words and neologisms such as "galumphing", "chortle" and of course "Vorpal".

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 9

It's good to be well respected while you live,
and to be able to think for yourself
Men often give each other bad advice.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Northern Plant Lore" Publication Date pushed to Spring 2012

Folks, I'm going to push out the release date for "Northern Plant Lore" to the Spring of 2012.

Coming Spring 2012
I've had other commitments and issues crop up over the summer which have slowed me down, and I don't want to rush to get it out. I love writing and the process of creation, and to rush it ruins the pleasure for me; I also want to make sure you get the best quality book I can write.

So I am going to continue on at a more leisurely pace, and write the best book on 'Northern Plant Lore' you'll have ever seen!

Could there be a silver lining to this? Why yes there is! With more time before the release, I will start sharing chapters of the book with you early on for feedback and comment.

Some folks had requested growing information on the plants so they could cultivate their own, which is now in the book. What about other ideas? The next few months will be your opportunity to help collaborate with me and shape the book together. I think that's a pretty exciting prospect!

I'll implement some tools such as polls, on my website and perhaps a discussion forum to help facilitate this.

Thanks for your patience and I appreciate your patronage!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Asgard Studios is now an officially registered Publisher!

I got some exciting news today, Asgard Studios is now an officially registered Publisher!

Publisher name is: Asgard Studios
Publisher prefix is: 0-9878394 (for ISBNs)

In addition to publishing my own book, which has been a commercial success, Asgard Studios has been involved in publishing several other author's projects, including Traditional Paperback Books, Digital eBooks as well as Multi-Media Projects.

So we are now very proud to be able to provide a full suite of Publishing Services for our clients.

In case you didn't know, in addition to writing, I run with my son. Hopefully in the next few years he will be taking over the reigns and I will dedicate all my time to writing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 8

It's a fortunate man who is well respected by others,
for the deeds he has done himself.
It's more difficult if you rely on others,
to help make your good reputation.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Winter Nights - time to honor the spirit of our female ancestors, or Disir.

Celebrate the Beauty and Strength of the Disir
Winter Nights (October 13-15)

We exchange blessings with the essence of the female ancestors, considered collectively as the Disir.

They give us their blessings as the season of cold closes in on the world and life retreats into hiding.

We honor the Disir, knowing they look on from beyond the grave with loving concern for their living human kin.

Hail the Disir!

Modernized Havamal - Verse 7

The cautious guest,
who goes to a gathering with strangers,
keeps his eyes and ears open,
and his mouth closed.
Much wisdom can be gained
from quiet observation.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 6

Let a man not be boastful about his wisdom,
but watchful instead.
The wise and silent rarely get into trouble
when in the company of others.
A more trustworthy friend,a man cannot have,
than understanding.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Do elves have rights?

Do elves have rights? 
by: Jeremy Harte

In the corner of the field, under a little wooden chamber, the waters of the fairies' well bubbled from the ground. It was a brilliantly sunny day in July. The corn in the field all about the monument glowed golden. A kind of ivy clung to the corner around one post, and had entwined itself into the matted thatch above, which sloped down and exposed the rickety roof-frame. It was a perfectly delightful sight in its rustic charm. (Cockin 1992). Here the villagers of Church Eaton had laid the foundations for their church, but at each night the busy labour of invisible hands moved the stones to the centre of the village. All that remains is the well - dedicated to St Edith, good for eye troubles, and having the strange property that tools left in its water will not rust.

But all was not well under the July sunshine. It had become clear that the weathered roof would soon fall in unless it was rethatched. The parish council would gladly pay a thatcher, but they have no money. Staffordshire county planning department have the money, but will not subsidise a project without public access. The farmer will set aside land for an access path, but at a price. This would be charged to the parish council - who haven't any money. Deadlock. Evidently the fairies are getting a raw deal out of local government here. But sacred sites aren't always treated with such disregard. The County Engineer and Planning Officer for Devon, for instance, has called for proper respect to be shown to old stones by the public highway, recognising that they cannot be moved without activating a curse. The Shebbear stone also falls within his brief - the one which has to be turned over every Bonfire Night, otherwise the Devil will wreak havoc in the neighbourhood (Clifford and King 1993: 60). No doubt the motives which lie behind his promotion of folk belief are not unconnected with tourism. What matters, though, is the public acknowledgement that supernatural issues are part of the responsibility of planning officers.

They certainly are in Iceland. A road scheme was poised for completion in the suburbs of Reykjavik, when it was noticed that the development would damage a hill known to be frequented by elves - so they redirected the road instead. Foreseeing that this sort of problem would come round again, the city?s highway authority briefed a clairvoyant. With her aid, developers can now draw on a land-use map specifying the places which are home to elves - and not just elves, but dwarfs, gnomes and huldufolk as well (Rickard 1994). Within a year the psychic contract was paying its way. Another road project had ground to a halt, since bulldozers seized up every time they tried to shift an elf stone. The highways section found another medium, and she mediated: the elves found a new home, the empty stone was respectfully transferred off site, and the road went ahead (Rickard 1996).

Maybe it is their marginal position in the European world-view which encourages small nations to take a positive attitude to other realities. The policies forged in Iceland have long been taken for granted in Ireland, where even international airports, symbol of integration into the global economy, are thoroughly subverted by tradition. Runways have been diverted to avoid causing damage to a fairy mound (Keel 1971: 227). Folklorists continue to relish the occasional news report that the course of a new road has had to be diverted to avoid cutting down a sacred tree (Bord 1982: 105); usually the interests of the fairies are protected by the contractors themselves, men like Roy Green of Ballymagroarty who stopped work when he came to a fairy thorn in 1968. Unable to find another developer willing to take on the risk, the planning department did the obvious and diverted the road (Bord 1997: 5). In case this seems like mere Irish eccentricity, there is the case from Emmer Green in stolid Oxfordshire, where housing development was halted when it reached the fairy tree under which two village girls left their teeth in exchange for presents. It is not clear whether the traditional status of the tree was any older than Naomi and Eloise (aged 7 and 9) but nevertheless its supernatural status won a right of appeal to the Secretary for the Environment, and launched a public enquiry (Collins 1985).

Someone, somewhere, is standing up for fairies. It isn't altogether true to say that missing from our modern practice of planning is the concept that there are forces beyond immediate secular forces and geological basics that bear on what is best done at each given site? (Swan 1991: 2). But last-minute campaigns in favour of elf-infested spaces are only token subversions of planning, a system whose core values remain anthropocentric. Back in 1944, when state planning was set to dominate the political process, a government White Paper laid down as its key principle that claims on land should be so harmonised as to ensure for the people of this country the greatest possible measure of individual well-being and national prosperity (Cullingworth 1997: 22). It is the people whose interests are paramount - not the Little People. And there is certainly no encouragement in government policy for the kind of planning in which the nerve centres of the earth . . . were guarded and sanctified by sacred buildings, themselves laid out as microcosms of the cosmic order, the universal body of God. (Michell 1969: 159).

In secular liberal states, it is the public interest, not the cosmic order, which has power to override decisions on road developments and housing estates. While it is possible that the spiritual form of sleeping Arthur was opposed to the Wychbury Bypass, the decision which overturned this scheme took no notice of the dead kings will: it respected only the interests and feelings of ordinary people. This is the way that things are done in the West. But it is not the only way; the criteria which define who is a person are assembled very differently in other cultures. Naturally, this leads to trouble in court. In Australia, Aboriginal land claims have to be pursued through what is in origin a European legal system. Legal forms and ideas, evolved over centuries to determine questions of ownership, become absurd when they are required from claimants to whom land and people are not the objects and subjects of litigation, but a single community. Aborigines face the paradox that the real plaintiffs are not allowed in court. The stones and trees themselves, having sent the Dreamings which define tribal custom, are not deemed fit to plead: instead, the people upon whom they have exercised their rights have to speak on behalf of them. Anglo-Australian judges are often well-intentioned - but they simply cannot conceive that a rock might have something to say (Povinelli 1995).

In countries where the planning process has been explicitly set up for the benefit of human beings, it is easy to forget that religion makes claims so transcendent that human lives (let alone drains, parks and street lighting) are nothing in comparison. Even within the boundaries of Europe there are different approaches to this. Italy, with its thousands of underfunded historic churches, is reproached by the English because there are no plans for converting them to new uses (Sims 1995). Entrepreneurial Protestants do not see that a church which has fallen into sacred ruins is still a church. Turning it into a bistro destroys the building, whatever it does to preserve the architecture. The secular state guards our most trivial worldly interests, while neglecting the great questions of salvation - which is just as well. No-one wants to live in a theocracy. But by redefining the traditional bounds of the political to exclude God, the modern state has also abandoned its protection of the thousand creatures of the lesser mythology. Pagan law protected the lares and the landvaettir, while ours behaves as if they did not exist. So it is unlikely that planning consent would have been refused to the industrious farmer in the ballad who felled the oak, he felled the ash . . . He hewed him baulks and he hewed him beams / With eager toil and haste. But the spirits of the wild saw it differently. Seven hundred elves came out the wood - / Horrible grim they were, and the farmer only survives by abandoning his utilitarian land-management strategy for a barrage of counter-magic. Spirits forced out of their abode by human activity . . . will travel to another suitable place, but only after perpetrating some act of revenge against the culprits (Pennick 1996: 26; 148). Clearly we should all be careful before we bulldoze that lonely old thorn. But is this just simple pragmatism, or are we prepared to extend the claims of our morality, our politics, to include the elf world

Precisely because planning law is so extensive, it contains the seeds of its own contradiction. Landscape planning is based on the concept of amenity, an undefined compound of beauty, tranquillity and isolation given the status of law by the 1947 Town & Country Planning Act. For a hundred years before that, amenity had been the guiding principle of philanthropists who sought to offer to the teeming populations of Victorian slums a pure, elevating glimpse of nature. The model to be imitated was the park or landed estate of the country house, with its trees and hills, glades and waterfalls - all reflecting the taste of the landed proprietor, just as the antiquities on the estate revealed his grasp of history. In the brave post-War future, the people of England would become a single, collective proprietor of the land, and its beauties were to be preserved for them. So, too, would its ancient monuments - even its folklore, if the wording of the 1979 Ancient Monuments Act is to be taken literally when it defines sites as of public interest by reason of historic, architectural, traditional, artistic or archaeological interest.

In true anthropocentric style, the Act claims to preserve old stones and mounds only so that they can serve the public interest. But on the ground, it usually seems that archaeological sites are being protected for their own sake. The same is as true of Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, or Sites of Special Scientific Interest, as of Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Contemplating the resources which both the state and voluntary sectors plough into saving and keeping these places, it is hard to feel that they are being preserved for anything but themselves. Their survival is seen as self-evidently good. The National Trust would not have come into being if its founders had not shared a Wordsworthian sense that landscapes were places, not just of amenity, but of transfiguring spiritual power - places which called out for people to acknowledge and care for them. In conservation, and in the Green movement generally, the motives which really stir people into action are not always the same ones which they will advance in debate with the cynics. The legal machinery for preserving the environment relies on pragmatic values - thriftiness, aesthetics, science, history, and health. But what really gets people going are the two unspoken motives - compassion and reverence (Ryder 1992: 4, 205). These are not anthropocentric. They imply a moral standing for nature in itself. The discourse of environmentalism, which began by extending the concept of rights from humans to (other) animals, has now come to touch on the ethical status of trees (Thomas 1982: 302).

Most people now behave as if animals had some kind of moral rights. Mutilating cats is wrong - it is wrong in itself, not because of any incidental loss it may cause to other people. But the law, slow off the mark, continues to affirm that animals can only be protected as pieces of human property. In exactly the same way, the law of sacred sites does not protect them because they are worthy of reverence, but because they are part of the nationss property - its heritage. The Scottish guidelines on development, for instance, try to weigh economic interests against potential use for amenity, tourism and educational purposes (Wood 1997: 16). How would you or I fare if the only thing that kept us from being destroyed for economic purposes was our potential use for amenity, tourism or education The survival of sacred sites is the thing that matters. Any law which achieves that end is better than one which permits destruction, even if it means that the fairy hill is physically preserved by exorcising the last trace of respect for its real owners. But the trauma of denying the sacred is not easily healed, even in a country like Ireland where the old veneration survives alongside the new talk of heritage. The father leaves a rath uncultivated because it is fairy ground, the son because it is a scheduled monument. Newgrange, which was once the numinous abode of the sidhe, has now been reworked as an interpretative centre for celebrating the deep historical roots of the Irish nation (Ronayne 1997). This is not progress. What is so real about the Irish national interest, compared to Aengus Og and his hundred harpers Turning the haunted mound into a vehicle for imparting the National Curriculum is an abuse of the rights of elves. They have no redress in court, which is strange when you consider how well other incorporeal entities have their rights protected there. Limited companies can go to law over intellectual property - invisible beings fighting over an intangible thing - while Puck and Hob stand non-suited outside the door. This was not always the case. The Anglo-Saxons had no law of corporations - a king did not give land to Chertsey Abbey or Wimborne Minster, as we imagine, but presented it directly to St. Peter or St. Cuthberga. At Rome, the heart of the administration, everyone believed that St. Peter was there, in a physical sense. He dominated all the activities of his see. His remains guarded his rights, and struck down those who tried to usurp them. In a way he was more real than the Pope, who was merely his vicar (Johnson 1976: 168). Gifts to saints were not scanty. By 1259, when the Statute of Mortmain halted further acquisitions, a fifth of Englands wealth was directly owned by supernatural beings.

In the end it was respect for saints which inhibited the direct exercise of their rights. As legal persons, they could both sue and be sued; but since no-one was so rash as to bring an action against a saint, their interests were defended by the monastic communities which surrounded them. Gradually the idea of the corporation as an imaginary being, represented by the actions of authorised people, came to substitute for the experience of saints as incorporeal beings speaking through their living servants (Pollock and Maitland 1895: 1–499).

Clearly, therefore, supernatural beings can have a standing in law. Though courts have fought shy of accepting ghosts as litigants, judges have been careful not to deny their existence (Dennis 1997). The refusal to admit rights for the supernatural shows how much our legal framework is out of step with common perceptions of the numinous. In law, the field which contains the Rollright stones is freehold land, to be bought and sold. This is a strange concept, says John Attwood, spokesman for the real world. I dont believe that you can "own" a stone circle any more than you can own a cat. Apparently, though, the law says you can (Attwood 1997). From the popular perspective, the stones have rights - or what comes to the same thing, the fairies which sneak out to dance around the King Stone on Midsummer Night have rights in that stone. At the very least they require that the stones be left undisturbed, and any human infringment of this right will be met by calamity - it is a standard motif in the folklore of ancient sites (Bord 1976: 191–210). Like terrorists everywhere, the elves are making sporadic attacks on people and property in order to assert rights which they are denied by the state. If they were given standing in the courts, they could defend their interests there, and not with elf-arrows whistling in the dark. There is no reason why the Seven Hundred Elves could not have pressed their claims through the legitimate planning process. What do we have Tree Preservation Orders for, if not to safeguard sacred groves

The controversy between those who accept that the supernatural has rights, and those who focus exclusively on the human, came to a head not long ago in the Hebrides. The backbone of the island of South Harris is West Stocklett Hill, the Hag Mountain, in the form of a giant woman reclining in sleep or death. The Hag has a guardian in the geomantic researcher Jill Smith - for me, the mountain is one of the ancient Dreamtime ancestors, the Grandmother who rose from the magma at Creation (Smith, Billingsley and Dilworth 1996). In 1995 the work of Creation was revised; a hole was carved at the location of the Grandmothers navel by the artist Steve Dilworth, in order to set in a sculpture of his own. Not many people saw it in situ, but the installation was afterwards shown in a Stornoway art gallery. Smith doubled up in pain at the violation of the mountain. Dilworth was puzzled to encounter a negative response - I see it as a way of acknowledging our connection with the earth we stand on. For Smith, the mountain is a person, and has rights. For Dilworth, the mountain is a canvas.

Hardly surprising, then, that the controversy should have flared up over a female figure. There was a time when a woman, like a cat or a stone circle, had no legal personality. A man might violate her without committing an offence, unless he infringed the rights that some other man held in her. The difference between women and mountains is simply that the former have won the right to speak for themselves, while the latter are dependant on trustees or guardians - in this case Jill Smith, who is currently struggling to prevent Redlands Aggregates from further mutilation of the holy hill.

Supernatural beings have found some strange advocates. In the long-running controversy over the Elgin Marbles, commentators have forgotten that original title to the sculpture rested not with Lord Elgin, the British or the Greeks, but with the goddess Athene. Everyone, that is except Byron, who wrote The Curse of Minerva, an intemperate work in which the goddess, like a super-elf, curses Elgin and his race for the theft of her stones (Vrettos 1997). The status of the Marbles as heritage - and their anti-status now that the classical underpinnings of colonialism are out of fashion - have obscured their original meaning as sacred art, recreating throughout eternity the ritual of the Panathenaia. Even as they stood on the building, they had lost this value, since the Parthenon has spent most of its history as a place of worship for the Virgin Mary and not for the pagan maiden. To whom should they be restored Athene has the prior claim, but a goddess without any worshippers has no-one to represent her interests. Mary has millions of devotees worldwide, but presumably no further requirement for ancient Greek sculpture. Besides, at the time when they were stolen from her church, it lay in territory subject to Islamic law, under which the Mother of God had no supernatural validity either. The law reasonably requires that, in order to bring an action, the litigant must exist - and this would seem to be a rather grey area in the case of goddesses, let alone elves. If the principle of rights for the supernatural is accepted, we can look forward to some very odd debates in court. They will look more like solemn games than proper business. But then, as Huizinga pointed out in Homo Ludens, it is the really serious things that we play games about.


ATTWOOD, John, 1997, Updating the Rollrights, Northern Earth No.72 pp26–27.
BORD, Janet and Colin, 1976, The Secret Country, Paladin.
BORD, Janet and Colin, 1982, Earth Rites: Fertility Practices in Pre-Industrial Britain, Granada.
BORD, Janet, 1997, Fairies: Real Encounters with the Little People, Michael OMara.
CLIFFORD, Sue and Angela KING (eds.) 1993, Local Distinctiveness: Place Particularity and Identity, Common Ground.
COCKIN, Tim, 1992, letter, The Countryman Vol.97v pp127–9.
COLLINS, Andy, 1985, Save our faerie tree!, Earthquest News No.14 p26.
CULLINGWORTH, J.B., 1997, Town and Country Planning in the United Kingdom (12th edition), Routledge.
DENNIS, Andrew, 1997, Spirit of the law, Fortean Times No.103 pp22–24.
JOHNSON, Paul, 1976, A History of Christianity, Penguin.
KEEL, John, 1971, Ufos: Operation Trojan Horse, Abacus.
MICHELL, John, 1969, The View Over Atlantis, Abacus.
PENNICK, Nigel, 1996, Celtic Sacred Landscapes, Thames & Hudson.
POLLOCK, Frederick and Frederic MAITLAND, 1895, History of English Law up to the Time of Edward I.
POVINELLI, Elizabeth, 1995, Do rocks listen: the cultural politics of apprehending Australian Aboriginal labor, American Anthropologist No.97 pp505–518.
RICKARD, Bob, 1994, Elf guide to Reykjavik, Fortean Times 74 p16.
RICKARD, Bob, 1996, Not in the best of elf, Fortean Times No.93 p20.
RONAYNE, Maggie, 1997, Wounded attachments: Practising archaeology from the outside, Paper given at TAG 1997.
RYDER, Richard (ed.) 1992, Animal Welfare and the Environment, Duckworth.
SIMS, John Ferro, 1995, Day of judgement, Perspectives Vol.2ix pp36–39.
SMITH, Jill, John BILLINGSLEY and Steve DILWORTH, 1996, The Hags navel, Northern Earth No.65 pp23–25.
SWAN, James A. (ed.) 1991, The Power of Place: Sacred Ground in Natural and Human Environments, Quest Books.
THOMAS, Keith, 1983, Man and the Natural World, Penguin.
VRETTOS, Theodore, 1997, The Elgin Affair, Secker & Warburg.
WOOD, Chris, 1997, Planning for sacred places and sacred land, Place Vol.1iii pp14–19.

Originally published in At the Edge No.10 1998.

At the Edge home page

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Copyright 1998, 2001. No unauthorised copying or reproduction except if all following conditions apply:
a: Copy is complete (including this copyright statement).
b: No changes are made.
c: No charge is made.

At the Edge / Bob Trubshaw /
Created October 1998

Friday, October 7, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 5

If you plan to travel,
have your wits about you.
Pay attention,
the unwise should stay at home.
You will be considered a fool and mocked,
if you can't speak intelligently with other men.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I pay for magazines stuffed full of ads? Anyone see a problem with that?
I got a magazine in the mail yesterday, and for the first time, there were no advertisements. Just articles. How bloody refreshing!

Now, I can see that it would make sense to have advertisements for magazines I'm NOT paying a subscription fee for...kind of like radio - they're subsidized by advertising, but I get to listen for free, so that's cool. But when I pay for a magazine to read it's content, I don't want all that other garbage in there.

I previously subscribed to a dozen or more magazines - hey, I like to read! I've cancelled them all, except one. I call on you magazine publishers out there to ditch all that advertising noise if you want my paid business back. If you have a magazine with good content, I will pay to read it. But I refuse to pay to read magazines who's publishers are clearly more motivated by advertising dollars, than by serving my reading interests.

I wonder what my readers would think if I started stuffing my books full of ads? Don't worry....they would be 'targeted'. We all need sexual performance enhancers right? When my son was about 8, he came to me after watching television on a Saturday morning and said

"Daddy, I think I have erectile disfunction."

No more advertisements in magazines I pay for!

Thank you adbusters for giving me what I PAID for!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Birchbark Sunglasses? Cool trivia from Northern Plant Lore

Ray-Ban? Nope...Mother-Nature
One of the things I enjoy about writing, are all the little discoveries I make when researching a topic. For example, did you know you can make a pair of emergency sunglasses from Birch bark?

Etymologist Bill Casselman says:

Birchbark was used to make a quick pair of snow glasses by many northern peoples. During trips over snow in bright sunlight, a strip was tied around the head. Two small slits made in the bark over the eyes permitted some vision. 
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Also, check out my Facebook page for my upcoming book on Northern Plant Lore

Modernized Havamal - Verse 4

A guest may need drink and food,
perhaps fresh clothing
and kind words.
Make your guest comfortable,
ensure he knows he is welcome
to come again.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Writers' Lens: Welcome to The Writers' Lens!

One of my favorite fiction writers, and a nice gal to boot! Please read more about Diana Driver here....

The Writers' Lens: Welcome to The Writers' Lens!: We hope you’ll find this a friendly place to spend some time and chat about fiction. We write in many genres, but have a single focus—to sh...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 3

A traveler or guest
seeking your hospitality,
may be cold and weary.
Who knows what hardships,
on his journey he endured.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 2

Hail to the Host!
A guest has arrived.
Are you prepared
to give him a place to rest?
A weary traveler may be impatient
for warmth and kindness

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 1

As promised here is the first verse of the Havamal in slightly more modern language.

Before passing through any door,
observe carefully, and consider what may be ahead.
Always be mindful of your surroundings,
be vigilant in unfamiliar places.
You can never be sure where a foe
or other danger resides.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Northern Lore available on iTunes

I finally finished converting Northern Lore, and it's available on iTunes.

This version has many photographs in full color.


Modernized Havamal

Some consider the Havamal the “Tao of the North” – the Northern way if you will. The Havamal ("Sayings of the high one") is presented as a single poem in the Poetic Edda. The poem, itself a combination of different poems, largely present’s advice for living and survival composed around the central figure of Odin. Havamal is both practical and metaphysical in content; this is particularly apparent towards the end of the poem, as the poem shifts into an account of Odin's obtaining of the runic alphabet and obscure text relating to various charms and spells Odin knows.

The only surviving source for the Havamal is contained within the 13th century Icelandic Codex Regius, and is thought to be no older than from around the year 800 AD (though derived from an earlier oral tradition).

The translations of the Havamal that I have read, including those by Bellows, Bray, Hollander and Chisholm, are excellent, but all suffer from one thing – the language used is often archaic. It’s not that these translations are incomprehensible, just that for each one, there is a bias towards the culture and speech patterns at the time of translation, which is completely understandable.

(NOTE: there are versions with slightly more modern language, but they are under copyright, and therefore can't be re-posted and re-used without permission.)

I remember reading one of the translations to my son when he was young and I had to spend allot of time explaining the meaning of each verse due to the use of language. This may be completely acceptable to many, but it occurred to me that it would be nice to have a version that could be read more easily, and understood with a little less decoding. And so began my modernization project.

I created a group on the social networking site Facebook, shared several versions of the Havamal with interested parties, and began discussing ways to modernize them. After completing several verses, it seemed that given the contrast between different translations, that in addition to the archaic language, there was perhaps some additional meaning injected into the verses by the translator. And so I progressed to modernization stage 2 - my own translation.

The approach I’m taking now is that I translate each verse and then post it for the group to view, and then I come up with a modernized version of my translation for comment. When doing the translation, I’m trying to be as literal as possible, and map the words to the six lines that correspond to the Old Icelandic version I have.

I’m not sure that this project will produce a result any better than previous translators, but the group is enjoying the activity, and in the process we are all getting to know the Havamal much more intimately.

Please feel free to re-use the modernized version as long as it’s not for profit. This project was started to provide the community a version of the Havamal that was accessible, and legally available to use on personal websites, as a source for further development and more. If you use it, credit and a link back to my website would be appreciated.

Tomorrow I'll post the first installment, and will post a new verse every few days, as we complete them. Please subscribe to my BLOG so you don't miss anything! Select FOLLOW BY EMAIL to the right.
Here are links to the versions of the Havamal we are using:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11 – An Immigrant’s Experience

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Today, I would honor those that fell on 9/11 by sharing my memories of that time with you, my friends and family.

I think everyone has 9/11 burned into their memory; like Pearl Harbor was for our Grandparents. But like so many experiences in life, many of us weren’t actually there, so we remember through news reports, pictures, and of course share grief for the fallen. For me, this tragedy is a bit more vivid. Although I wasn’t at ground zero in New York, I was quite close to the Pentagon, having just moved eleven months earlier from Ottawa to Washington D.C., where I had a new job.

At 9:30 am, on September 11’th, 2001, I was at home, getting a late start to the day and catching up on CNN while I had my coffee and got ready for my commute into the office outside the beltway. That’s when the unthinkable began to unfold live on TV, as my wife and I watched, horrified; one plane hit the Pentagon, which was just a short drive from our house.

I stayed home that day and the following, but on the third day following 9/11 I had to drive into the office.

There was not a single plane in the sky.

That may not seem dramatic, but near Dulles airport, there is a constant flurry of airplanes coming in and leaving the airport. To see the sky empty was like watching some post apocalyptic movie, but I was there. Highway 66 was my main route to work, and it was nearly empty, and like the sky around Dulles, highway 66 is never empty….not even in the middle of the night. As I approached an overpass there was a tattered American flag hanging down from the railing above me, defiant, shouting, “We Are Still Here!” It felt good to see that.

Everyone at my office was on edge as you might expect, but we had a business to run and so, got on to our tasks at hand. Three of us were sitting in a large conference room, with one wall being glass, a window from ceiling to floor. As we sat in the conference room and spoke to colleagues just across the river from Ground Zero in New Jersey, I saw something massive flying toward the window out of the corner of my eye. Instinctively I dove under the table, waiting for the worst to happen. It was only a crane. There was construction going on at the building next door.

I had just been to London a few months before 9/11, and so could not donate blood (some restriction where you have to be back in country a certain length of time), but my wife and I wanted to do something; our new home had just been attacked and we felt helpless. She was a quilter, and so decided to make, and raffle off an American Flag Quilt – the proceeds were to be donated to a fund for the victim’s families. She stayed awake 72 hours to make it, and when it was done, it was large enough to cover an entire King size bed. We held the raffle and made hundreds of dollars for the victim’s fund. Ironically, our next door neighbor Pam, also Mayor, and a friend of my wife, won the quilt. I was very proud of my wife, it may not have made a huge impact on the victim’s fund, but it’s the combined momentum of countless little acts like this that change history. The newspaper thought so too, and featured her in a story the following week.

A couple of weeks after 9/11 I took the train up to New Jersey for a series of meetings, and would be there for the week. When I looked over across the river to New York City, the smoke billowed from Ground Zero, like a surrogate for the fallen trade towers, marking their place. I worked in New Jersey Monday to Friday for a couple of months, and the smoke never seemed to abate. I couldn’t fathom how that could be. But there it was.

After 9/11 we also went through the Anthrax scare, which affected our mail depot, and then the following year the Beltway Sniper, who killed people at gas stations we frequented. It was definitely a traumatic first couple of years in America for us as new immigrants, but we loved her none the less for it.

Our family moved back to Canada last year, but we cherished every day of the ten years we spent living there; today I remember the fallen, their families, friends, and the country I called home.

I remember.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Video Trailer for Northern Lore to Feature Music from the Symphony "Eddan - The Invincible Sword of the Elf Smith" from Composer Mats Wendt.

Northern Lore recently won in the Global eBook Awards, and to build on that momentum, I'm having a video trailer for my book produced.

Mats Wendt, the composer of the symphony "Eddan - The Invincible Sword of the Elf Smith", has given me permission to use his music in my trailer. It's all based on the Norse Eddas, and is absolutely brilliant.


  • A symphonic suite in 158 parts spanning the complete pre-christian scandinavian mythology.
  • Based upon an academic recreation of the old world myth.
  • Play time: 16 hours and 37 sec.

Check out a link to his music at my website:

...and stay tuned for the video trailer!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Help shape the 2'nd edition of Northern Lore!

I'm currently working to finish up Northern Plant Lore, but immediately following that, I'll begin working on the 2'nd edition of Northern Lore.

I though it would be great to get your feedback on what information you would like updated, expanded, or added.

So head over to and take the poll (top right side of the web site)or email me if there is something not on the list

Help shape the 2'nd edition of Northern Lore!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Northern Lore wins Global eBook Awards

Northern Lore wins in the New Age / Non-Fiction category in the Global eBook Awards.

I was shocked and delighted to find out that Northern Lore had won in the Global eBook Awards, and I was very pleased with the comments left by one of the judges, herself an award winning novelist:

This was an excellent eBook. Thoroughly researched, well-presented, exceptionally well-illustrated. A very good example of how eBooks can readily compete with traditionally published books. I learned a lot of very interesting things from this book and, particularly for “New Age” thinkers and enthusiasts, I highly recommend it.”
Marilyn Jaye Lewis is an award winning author and editor of several books.

I was very encouraged by Marilyn's feedback, and it re-affirmed what I always knew -  that I could produce a book as good as anything published by the big houses, doing everything myself, and enabling me to keep more of the money from the book; higher royalties allow me to continue writing professionally. Currently I split my time evenly between my writing  and web design with my company Asgard Studios, but in the years to come I hope to devote most of my time to writing. I am still very passionate about web design, especially the visual design aspects, and I'm very encouraged that my son has shown an interest in working in the field - hopefully I can pass the torch to him (or at least help him carry it).

In celebration of the win, I am re-issuing the cover of Northern Lore with the Winners badge on the cover, as well as a revised back cover with reviews from fellow authors.

Okay, well I suppose I better get back to work on Northern Plant Lore!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Northern Lore declared a Finalist in the Global E-Book Awards.

Well I got some pretty exciting news last night, Northern Lore has been declared a Finalist in the Global E-Book Awards.

I have some incredible competition, so I'm not too worried about winning or losing, just having my book up there and declared a finalist is more than I hope for.

Northern Lore is Primarily a print book, in the traditional style, but given my long career in technology I decided to simultaneously publish eBook versions for Kindle and PDF readers. I'm sure glad I did, not only because it allowed me to get exposure through this competition, but fully 50% of my sales are the eBook versions! I expected maybe 10%, but not 50%.

So all you authors out there who are humming and hawing about whether to invest the effort to re-design the layout for Kindle, it may have some surprising results!

If you happen to be in Santa Barbara California this Saturday August 20'th, you'll be able to see a gigantic version of my book cover projected during the awards ceremony!

Thanks to all of you who have been gracious enough to buy my book, and a deeper thanks to those who took time to write a review.  I wrote this book for us and our children, to give them a little taste of the past,  to remind us where we came from, and also to bring attention to those areas where the old and new are intersecting, and creating a beautiful future.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Some great feedback from a judge in the Global eBook awards, award winning author Marilyn Jaye Lewis, regarding my book Northern Lore....

"This was an excellent eBook. Thoroughly researched, well-presented, exceptionally well-illustrated. A very good example of how eBooks can readily compete with traditionally published books. I learned a lot of very interesting things from this book and, particularly for “New Age” thinkers and enthusiasts, I highly recommend it."

Keep your fingers crossed!


Monday, August 1, 2011

Global eBook Awards

Nominated for the Global eBook Awards  Non-Fiction: New Age Category
Cross your fingers! Northern Lore is being reviewed in the Global eBook Awards in the Non-Fiction/New Age category.

The Awards are sponsored by Parapublishing, and founder Dan Poynter.

Wish me luck!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Child of the North - Part 2

I'm going to be adding to a 'short' biography to my new book, and I thought it would be fun to share it with you as it unfolds. I'll be adding to the previous days work, so you'll see each post get slightly longer - that's in case any of you missed the first bits; you can't start a story in the middle, can you?

In a raging predawn Canadian blizzard, a policeman struggled to drag my pregnant mother through six foot snow drifts to get her into the hospital. By this time she was well into labor. It was a Thursday - Thor`s day. That`s how I came into the world.

I suppose it`s no surprise then that I've been fascinated by our Northern Culture my entire life. I’m proud of the tenacity and resourcefulness my ancestors embodied which brought me into this world.

For thousands of years our Northern forefathers endured biting cold, limited resources and invading empires. Despite this, their culture flourished and their legacy endured; my passion is this legacy and its echoes into our modern world.


Early Years

One of my earliest memories was from Kindergarten when I was five. The teacher was asking children in the room what the wanted to be when they grew up. Of course you had the kids who wanted to be doctors, firemen, policemen, maybe even a lawyer. Then the teacher got to me.

    “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

    “An Eagle,” I replied.

The teacher just shook her head in irritation and moved on to the next kid.

And so began the theme of my life, a theme influenced by others, but crafted by me. I was never comfortable accepting the societal norm; I tried.

I was fortunate to be born with good genes – I was a strong young man, handsome and popular, even if I did defy convention.

On Writing

I first started writing for the oldest and noblest of reasons – love; more accurately, teenage infatuation. Some pretty girl had batted her eyes at me, and I suddenly wanted to be Shakespeare, although the possibility of creating my own reality was also incredibly engaging. My poetry gave birth to the perfect world where I said exactly the right things to the girl of my dreams. What possibilities! My interest soon expanded to prose, where I could explore the same worlds in more detail, if not slightly less lyrically, and I wrote a few short stories.

Unfortunately, as is too often the case, I was told I would never make a living as a writer and I should focus on school or work for my father’s business. My parent’s generation were perhaps more pragmatic than ours; their parents knew the hardships of both The Great Depression, and the Second World War. It was with that influence that their youth was forged, while my own was cultivated in the more liberal 70’s, and I saw possibilities that perhaps they did not.
Despite my dreams, I got married, went to work and started a family.


Our ancestors believed strongly in luck. In fact they believed that luck could be passed on in a family. Men sought out the leadership of luckier men - better to be on the side of the lucky leader in battle than the unlucky one.

I feel that luck is nothing more than preparation meeting opportunity. The ‘Lucky’ are on the lookout for opportunities, and have cultivated the skills and the will to take action. They often pass those drives and habits on to their children, leading to the notion of familial luck passed down by blood.

Whatever the case is, I indeed have had my share of luck. My most lucky moment was when I met and married my wife. We were young and impulsive, and had only been dating a few months when we ran off to elope. I was twenty three, and she was just nineteen, and attending university. As I write this, we have been happily married for nearly twenty years. Certainly there were trying times. There were times with no money, times with lots of money, times of great pain and family strife, but mostly warmth, and happiness.

‘Luckily’ our impulsive decision resulted in a wonderful life together.


Being married, and having my son born two years later, shaped my life considerably. I became not a family man, but simply, a man. This was my call to action to grow up, now being concerned for two lives in addition to my own.

My son and I on the Blue Ridge looking over the Shenandoah Valley
Being a father has shifted my view of the world so dramatically, it has quite literally made me a different person. I can’t imagine what kind of person I would be otherwise; I don’t think I'd want anything to do with that person. If there's one thing in life I am most proud of, it's that my son and I have a wonderful and loving relationship, and I believe, I've been there for him as a father.

When asked who my heroes or inspirational figures are, without fail I’ll say that they are the fathers who show up for the job every day, the fathers who try, and treat their role seriously. I have an uncle and a cousin who are such men, with families to be proud of.
Those are my heroes.

Stay Tuned for more of my 'short' biography.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Child of the North

A little blurb from my new book that I thought would be appropriate to share today -

"In a raging predawn Canadian blizzard, a policeman struggled to drag my pregnant mother through six foot snow drifts to get her into the hospital. By this time she was well into labor. It was a Thursday - Thor`s day. That`s how I came into the world.

I suppose it`s no surprise then that I've been fascinated by our Northern Culture my entire life. I’m proud of the tenacity and resourcefulness my ancestors embodied which brought me into this world.

For thousands of years our Northern forefathers endured biting cold, limited resources and invading empires. Despite this, their culture flourished and their legacy endured; my passion is this legacy and its echoes into our modern world."

- Eoghan Odinsson

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Access to Documents Wherever You Are

I know most of my readers and are pretty tech-savvy these days, but I thought I would introduce you to Google Docs in case you haven't tried it.

Here's the description from the Google website:

"Google Docs enables multiple people in different locations to collaborate simultaneously on the same doc from any computer with Internet access. For example, Alice and Meredith are working on a project together, and they need to write a document, keep track of their work in a spreadsheet, and create a presentation and a drawing to share with other people involved in the project. Alice lives in New York, and Meredith, in Los Angeles.

When Alice makes changes to the document, spreadsheet, presentation, or drawing, Meredith can see them in real time and respond to them immediately. Both of them work on the same docs, so there's no need to go back and forth, comparing and consolidating individual files."

This is an incredible tool for me as a writer; I often have little flashes of insight, or an idea that I want to incorporate into something I'm working on, and Google Docs is an excellent platform to enable me to take advantages of these little creative bursts. Anywhere I go these days I have either my iPhone or my iPad, and often both, with me. As Google Docs is an application hosted in the Cloud, I can access it from many devices, even a friends PC.

Google Docs is more than just an online Word processor, it's a suite of tools that that allow you to create:
  • Documents
  • Presentations
  • Spreadsheets
  • Forms
  • Drawings
  • Collections - of Pictures and Videos
I decided to use Google Docs for the Manuscript of my next book so that I could take advantage of the document portability. Another useful feature is that your work is saved very frequently, every 3-4 minutes with a Document, and every time you change a cell in a Spreadsheet. When you're writing a large book, this is a lifesaver!

I encourage you to check it out - it's packed with useful stuff, and it's free!

In case you want a little more help...check out these books:

Sunday, July 17, 2011


In researching Northern Plant Lore, I came across an insightful article by Dr. Mary J. Ruwart that explores the dangers of the FDA's regulation on medicines.

A Matter of Life and Death

Have you lost a loved one to breast cancer recently? If so, you probably wished with all your heart that your sister, mother, or wife had detected it   earlier. Perhaps they would have - if the device that clinicians are calling "one of the most effective weapons against breast cancer" hadn't been banned
from the US market by the FDA.

The Sensor Pad, developed in Decatur, Illinois, is simply two sealed plastic sheets with lubricant in between. When a woman or her doctor places the pad over her breast, friction is reduced, making lump detection easier. The FDA has refused to approve this simple medical device for over a decade, even though the product is sold in Japan, Singapore, Korea, and most West European countries. The reason? The FDA wants this $7 device to go through the same testing procedures that it demands for expensive pharmaceuticals. After such testing, the FDA will take up to six years to decide whether or not the device should be approved. Because drug manufacturers are required to spend much more time and money getting US approvals than offshore ones, Americans get new, life-saving drugs and devices years later than citizens of other countries - if they get them at all.

Sometimes this delay protects us from side effects not readily detected in animal studies. The sedative thalidomide, for example, was marketed in Europe for several years while awaiting FDA approval. In the early 1960's, the sensitivity of an unborn child to the deforming effects of drugs was not widely appreciated, so doctors began prescribing thalidomide to pregnant women. Consequently, approximately 12,000 European children were born with deformed limbs. Few American babies were affected because only a few test samples had been distributed in this country. The FDA physician who had delayed its approval was given a Presidential Award.

Paying With Our Lives

Encouraged by this feedback, the FDA began to require even more studies. Testing and approval took even longer, especially when compared with countries like Great Britain where there were no immediate changes in the way new drugs were processed. While the British continued to enjoy many new drugs to treat their illnesses, only half of these were available to Americans, and only after many more years of waiting. One of these new drugs denied to Americans was propranolol, the first Beta-blocker to be used extensively to treat angina and hypertension.

Approximately 10,000 Americans died needlessly every year for the three years it was against the law for their doctors to treat them with propranolol. Propranolol was finally approved in the US for minor uses in 1968, but was only approved in 1973 and 1976 for angina and hyper-tension respectively. The regulatory delay of this single drug may have been responsible for the death of more Americans than all other deaths from drugs in this century. Even so, the FDA came under severe criticism by Congress for "premature" approval of this valuable drug! Former FDA Commissioner Alexander Schmidt noted that ". . . rarely, if ever, has Congress held a hearing to look into the failure of FDA to approve a new entity; but it has held hundreds of hearings alleging that the FDA. has done something wrong by approving a drug . . . ." The "drug lag," he claimed, could only "be remedied by Congressional and public recognition that the failure to approve an important new drug can be as detrimental to the public health as the approval of a potentially bad drug."

The "Drug Lag"

Just how detrimental is the drug lag to public health? Conservative estimates of needless deaths to the "drug lag" are tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans every year. Many more people die from the FDA's delay than are saved by waiting to see if people from other countries experience side effects from new drugs.

Perhaps a loved one you've lost is among them.

While any harm from drugs is undesirable, we must recognize that no drug is safe for everyone. People die every year from drug allergies or idiosyncratic reactions which cannot be predicted with state-of-the-art expertise. Whenever we take drugs, we must weigh the risks and the potential benefits, just as we weigh the substantial risks and benefits of driving an automobile. By demanding that the FDA protect us from drugs that have any side effects, we deprive ourselves of drugs that save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Ironically, FDA regulations sometimes force people to choose between legal, but toxic, drugs and safer ones from the black market. One San Francisco physician actually encouraged his patients to take the unapproved AIDS therapy DDI, instead of the FDA-approved DDC. The less toxic DDI was developed to replace DDC, but the delays caused by FDA regulations made it unavailable for many years. In desperation, AIDS patients began purchasing the safer substance from illegal buyers' clubs, which provide unapproved medications for the terminally ill. Many people are still forced to get their medicine on the black market because of the drug lag caused by the FDA.

In 1988, AIDS patients convinced FDA commissioner Frank Young to let them import drugs marketed overseas for their own personal use. Theoretically, any US citizen can now order personal supplies this way. However, current FDA administrators are attempting to close this life-saving loophole.
At least cancer and AIDS victims can purchase new medicines somewhere. Diseases that affect only a few are seldom researched, since the staggering development costs imposed by FDA regulations can never be recovered.

Censoring Health Claims

Claims for unpatentable products, such as vitamins and mineral regimens, are likewise too expensive to recover the cost of FDA approval. For example, Vitamin C manufacturers still cannot tell the public about the published scientific papers attesting to its cardio-protective effects. Furthermore, the FDA prosecutes companies that try to share information on new uses of marketed products without going through another time-consuming and expensive approval process. For almost a decade after a definitive scientific study, the FDA forbade aspirin manufacturers to tell the public that their product could reduce heart attacks by over 40%. Since heart disease is the #1 killer in the US, many thousands of Americans each year are needlessly sentenced to death by regulation.

If aspirin had to undergo the rigorous testing that today's FDA demands, it would never be marketed. Thankfully, aspirin's benefits were well-established before the FDA had the power to suppress it.

Perhaps the most heart-wrenching victims of the FDA's refusal to permit truthful claims for unpatentable products are children born with spina bifida. Because vitamin companies are not allowed to advertise how folic acid supplementation reduces the risk of birth defects, approximately 2500 children are born each year with spina bifida and many more are aborted. Since the benefits of folic acid have been known for well over a decade, this single regulatory decision has harmed more children than thalidomide, the greatest drug tragedy of the 20th Century. How would you feel if your child was needlessly handicapped by such over-zealous regulation?

Not satisfied with its usual "gag order" on information distribution, the FDA actually ordered one US company to destroy all its cookbooks and literature about stevia, an herb used as a sweetener. Certainly something is seriously wrong with the FDA when it resorts to "book burnings" reminiscent of fascist dictatorships.

Between 1989 and 1990, two private organizations, the American Heart Association and the HeartCorps Magazine, provided consumers with "heart-smart" guidelines for food. The American College of Nutrition gave its endorsement to certain brands of vegetable oils, and a calcium-supplemented orange juice was endorsed by the American Medical Women's Association. The FDA took legal action against these organizations to keep its monopoly on health claims - even health claims made for foods!

If these tactics sound as if they abridge your rights to free speech, you're right - and the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agrees! In January 1999, they found the FDA in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Will this court ruling reform the FDA and save us from death by regulation? Unfortunately, this ruling is only a first step. Donald Kennedy, former head of the FDA, notes that "the pattern of intervention into science from a combination of local, state, and federal sources has moved from reason-able control to something close to chaotic strangulation." Clearly, our entire regulatory system needs major reform.

For reforms to be effective, we must understand what caused our regulatory problems in the first place. We took choice away from the consumer, the person who actually experiences the impact of that choice. We gave the choice to bureaucrats, who are rarely held accountable. For example, in spite of First Amendment violations, no one in the FDA will be prosecuted or punished. With no real down-side, the FDA has no motivation to change!

The Easy Way Out

What do we do when even those affiliated with the FDA can see that drug regulation flunks its own criteria of being safe and effective? How do we stop our tax dollars from being spent on killing both ourselves and our loved ones? How do we insure that Americans get all the safe and effective drugs possible?

Patients and their physicians legally should be able to buy whatever drugs they wish, regardless of the stage of testing. Each person needs to decide for him or herself, in consultation with their physician or other specialists, which risks they are willing to take. Those who wish to wait for FDA approval or a "Seal of Approval" from a medical organization or a consumers groups should have that option. Indeed, the American Medical Association and Consumers' Research both evaluated drugs in the days before the FDA.

The terminally ill, who can't wait a decade or two for a new drug to be tested and approved, should be able to buy whatever pharmaceuticals give them a chance. It is their life, and should be their choice. If you or your loved ones were dying, wouldn't you want access to every possible cure?

We've Done It Before

In the early 1900's, Americans could decide for themselves which drugs to take. Before the FDA came into being, American drug manufacturers usually gave their customers the best drugs that the state-of-the-art would allow. After all, killing the customer is bad business. Deaths due to inadequate testing were much less frequent than the deaths produced by today's "drug lag."

The FDA is a cure worse than the disease. If the FDA can't meet its own criteria of being safe and effective, we are better off without it.

Isn't it time we stopped denying ourselves and our loved ones life-saving drugs?

Mary J. Ruwart, Ph.D., a member of ISIL's Board of Directors, spent over 25 years in pharmaceutical research. Cited in many prestigious biographical works, she has authored over 100 scientific publications. Dr. Ruwart is the author of the libertarian primer, Healing Our World: The Other Piece of the Puzzle and Short Answers to the Tough Questions (both available from ISIL). Her web column can be found at

This pamphlet was originally published in 1990 and revised October 1999. It is part of ISIL's educational pamphlet series. Click here for the full index of pamphlets online.
Here's a link to the original article and website:

If you agree with the sentiment expressed by Dr. Ruwart I challenge you to take action. Ask yourself, "What can I do to change this"?

Book by Dr Ruwart: