Mark Olly discusses the novel The Way of Wyrd – Tales of an Anglo-Saxon Sorcerer.
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Written by psychologist and university professor Brian Bates and published in 1983, The Way of Wyrd is the story of Wat Brand, a Christian scribe sent on a mission deep into the forests of pagan Anglo-Saxon England where he finds his beliefs shaken to their core. With Wulf, a wizard, as his guide, Wat is instructed in the magical lore of plants, runes, fate, and life force until finally he journeys to the spirit world on a quest to encounter the true nature of his own soul.
Although arguably not an entirely accurate depiction of the people, places, and events of Anglo-Saxon England, The Way of Wyrd speaks to the reader on deep archetypal and symbolic levels. With each chapter functioning as some form of parable, the novel imparts teachings on psychic and paranormal powers, health and healing, nature and ecology, the human search for spiritual meaning and purpose, and the very nature of life and death.
The pagan people of this period had a quite different mode of being and seeing than the techno-industrial consciousness which currently holds sway. It was not so much an either/or mode of thought as an and/also view, more holistic and inclusive and not so literal, reductionist, and coldly rational. It is a view, ironically, which has lately been echoing through the halls of science where a picture continues to emerge of the world as fundamentally interconnected in ways which often run counter to conventional thinking. Ultimately, The Way of Wyrd‘s message transcends the limitations of language and appears as relevant as ever to a species that seems to have lost its way.
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