Misseristal: the Pagan Icelandic Calendar
By Roy Slider and edited/published by Briallen of Orlög Press
Reviewed by Jordsvin
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Brief note from Jordsvin: Roy Slider is a prison inmate. I have corresponded with him off and on for seven or eight years. I am aware of his background. It is my belief that in the last decade he has made huge strides in his efforts to rehabilitate himself. I have two master's degrees and in my opinion, his research is at a graduate school level. I am delighted that this calendar, the fruit of several years of research, is being made available to the general Heathen public.
The Misseristal is a reconstruction of the Heathen Icelandic calendar in use in the 10th century C.E. This coming year’s edition, the fourth to be issued, is the biggest and best so far. The calendar begins on 01 Gormánudr, which is 16 October 2004 (Gregorian calendar dates are at the bottom left of each day’s space for convenience) and ends on 30 Haustmánudr (14 October 2005).
The artistic theme of this year’s edition is Arthur Rackham’s depictions of scenes from Richard Wagner’s Das Rheingold. These are accompanied by excerpts from the German libretto of that work. The English translations appear toward the end of the calendar, along with the illustrations not used for the individual months, so you get the complete series. The color scheme is somewhere between black and white and full color, and the effect is quite attractive. Last year’s Misseristal, by the way, was illustrated with “full-color 19th century Germanic fine art depicting myths and rituals,” so there is a new theme, along with new materials, for each year.
Various sources were used in piecing back together how the Germanic peoples reckoned time. The first is Germania, by the Roman historian Tacitus, from whom we learn that the Germans reckoned by nights rather than days, and met at certain auspicious times according to the phases of the moon. From the Julian calendar came the seven-day week (originally Babylonian) with the Roman God-names replaced by Germanic ones seen as at least partially equivalent. The early English churchman Bede, author of De temporum ratione provides the first complete set of Germanic names for the months. Finally, Mr. Slider consulted various medieval manuscripts, including the Grágás (Gray Goose), which encoded the laws of early Iceland and discussed regulations for the yearly calendar in use.
The Misseristal also contains a bibliography and a photograph of the Lögberg (Law Rock) in Ţingvellir, Iceland, from whence the calendar for the coming year was announced at the close of the annual Alţing. Finally, a bibliography of this year’s featured artist, Arthur Rackham, immediately precedes the first month of the calendar.
After the last month comes a lengthy article on blótar, feasts and days of remembrance. It includes substantial bilingual quotes from the works of Snorri Sturluson. This article is well-researched and written and is a fine source of information. The author amply documents his sources and even indicates points where eminent scholars are in disagreement before drawing his own conclusions. The article which follows it, on Ţingar (Things), is just as good.
In regard to the relationship between the reconstructed Misseristal and the Gregorian calendar in worldwide use today, while the author accepts the need for a universal secular calendar, he correctly points out that many cultures also continue to retain their traditional calendars for religious and cultural purposes. Since Ásatrú is a reconnecting with ancient Northern European religious and cultural roots, the use of the old Heathen Icelandic calendar can be a means to deepen that reconnection.
In conclusion, the Misseristal is not only a useful addition to our old/new Heathen Germanic culture but is also both a worthwhile source of scholarly information and a very decorative wall calendar as well. The price is $13.95 plus $2.50 shipping and handling, to which Ohio residents should add $.94 state sales tax. There is a discount for incarcerated Heathens: $8.95 plus the $2.50 shipping and handling charge, to which prisoners in Ohio should add $.60 state sales tax. Please send orders to: Orlög Press, P.O. Box 340024, Columbus OH 43235-0024 USA. Prisoners may pay in postage stamps if necessary. Foreign orders should write first and enquire about shipping charges to their country. I encourage you to acquire this unique work of Heathen scholarship. It does of course also make a wonderful gift! They also offer a free catalogue which can be obtained by writing to them at the address above.
last modified 08/07/2004