True Helm

                  True Helm

True Helm
A Practical Guide to Northern Warriorship
by Sweyn Plowright

ISBN 0 - 646 - 39938 - 1

Reviewed by Rig Svenson 2006©

There is a mystique surrounding the very idea of warriorship and this martial aspect has attracted many folk towards the Northern Way. The author states that warriorship is a personal and very individual path covering all aspects of life with a view to fulfilling ones own potential and destiny. Let’s get this right from the start, this book is not written for academia. So it should come as no surprise that True Helm was written with a view to guide others on a practical level rather than academic based on the authors personal experiences and interpretations of Northern Lore towards this goal. Sweyn also points out that this path is hard with a life long commitment towards discipline of both the physical and mental faculties within your makeup testing you to the very core of your being. It is not the way for quitters or *wanabe profile neurosis armchair warriors. Ian Reed, Master & Hall Leader of Eormensyl Hall, London gives testimony on the author’s suitability to write this work in the book’s forward:

“He is a man who will stand shoulder to shoulder in the shield wall and never leave it until victory or death ensues”

Very re-constructionist but yes indeed, this is a powerful boast! My viewpoint is that the author and I both once served in a combat zone we both knew too well as “bandit country” and in the same regiment. So this boast is not just testosterone; we wore out the tee shirt and have the scars.

This book is divided into two sections each, with thirteen short chapters in each covering a wealth of argument and information:

Part I

  1. Some Background
  2. A Little History
  3. Wyrd Ideas
  4. Cultivating Hamingja
  5. Will
  6. Ond and Fear
  7. Oaths and Personal Power
  8. Sigrunes and Helm of Awe
  9. Magickal Weapons
  10. Games and Action
  11. Principles of Success
  12. Berserker, Justice and Revenge
  13. Warriorship and Paradox.

Part II

Revenge of the Master Smith

Enter the Skald

  1. King Wada’s Hall
  2. The Journey
  3. The Trollman
  4. The Nomads
  5. The Yrminsul
  6. Wolfdales
  7. King Nihad’s Hall
  8. Massacre at Wolfdales
  9. The Valkyries
  10. The Curse
  11. The Prisoner
  12. Saevarstead
  13. Revenge

Exit the Skald & Further Reading

The author states that he wrote True Helm as a companion work edition to compliment James Chisholm's True Hearth. In “Some Background”, the author retells two personal experiences which I found insightful concerning his earlier life, of relevance to his experiences both in magic and his former time spent at Thorsson’s Woodharrow Institute which was the inspiration for this book. The Helm of Awe is cited by the author as a unique Germanic magical technique. Of note is that in each of the preceding 13 chapters of Part I, the author gives a quote from one of the passages of Eddic text to make his point with a footnote at the bottom of the page referencing the source. 

“If we separate our magic and religion from our everyday lives, we risk relegating our tradition to a role play”, says the author in Chapter 8 of Part I of the book. He argues that to the heathen, there exist no separate distinction between magic and what is mundane everyday life. The author suggests that all acts are magical, essentially saying that this so called magic is part and parcel of our lives and not an entirely different entity as other ceremonial magic traditions promote. I enjoyed his arguments about swords carrying the users wyrd and its *power being transported across generations, thus effecting earned victory because of the family line wyrd and true grit rather then some mystique associated with the sword’s blade. I also liked the author’s grasp of the reality and availability of modern firearms today on our streets with a view that you cannot win a modern fire fight using pattern welded Dark Age’s swords. He says, “If under physical attack, a firearm is most effective” and argues that in the real world of Midgard, the fastest path to extinction is the opposite form of escapism, shunning the tools of the modern World either out of a sense of puritanism, or misplaced tradition or fear of learning something new. 

To fight and conquer in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy with no fight at all, that's the highest skill.
Ref: Sun Tsu, The Art of War 

The author offers an analogy of warriorship in the final phases with a paradox of opposites. Combat without conflict. Innocence without Ignorance. Discipline without effort. Grim sense of humour. He states without reservation that if our heritage is to survive, it must be taken seriously and its exponents must be seen to have credibility in the wider world. In other words heathens must strive to be successful, respected members of society if society is to take us seriously. If we fail in this momentous task to succeed, then we fail ourselves also. He argues that there is no future in role-playing and escapism. I could not agree more with this sentiment. The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse. 

Part II is a very colourful epic tale entitled, “Revenge of the Master Smith”, An ancient Germanic story retold and is  set by the author to ancient times using Weyland Smith as the main heroic character. The author masterfully introduces series of interplays developing ideas from Part I of his book to illustrate examples of warriorship, shamanism, faith in one’s self taking responsibility for both the good and bad things in life and what was considered honourable or not as the case may be. Runic magic is described in this submission using visuals and sound in the character Weyland’s shamanic death and re-birth quest to find himself. I must comment that the many black and white illustrations throughout this tale are due to the artistic talents of Mark Morte.

In conclusion, this book strongly suggests that warriors hold to their path until its completion and are not ashamed to be strong. The cult of the anti-hero will find no support in us, and the gods we follow are not for the weak of heart. This book in my opinion is an excellent introduction to modern heathen warrior values that has good grounding in Eddic lore. It is also an entertaining read for those who love an adventure story with magic and heroism.

78. Cattle die, and kinsmen die, And so one dies one's self; One thing now that never dies, The fame of a dead man's deeds.


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