The Way of Fire and Ice by Ryan Smith 2019 Llewellyn Publications

In the Way of Fire and Ice, author Ryan Smith provides an introduction to what he terms Radical Norse Paganism. This is essentially inclusive Norse Paganism that firmly shuts the door on white supremacist ideology. He covers basic Norse mythology and an overview of the well known/ popular gods and other beings, includes basic exercises to start a Norse practice, and information on community building.

Smith clearly explains concepts like luck and Frith with a common sense tone. As a whole the book is more focused on practice and a broad overview than going in depth. This information is all useful and meant to be acted on after reading.  Smith includes the all important pronunciation guide for terms in Norse Paganism. (Remarkable, because so few books on Heathenry actually do.  After 2 years, I have just realized I have been mispronouncing some names. Oops.)

The chapters on community are worth reading, even by those who don’t follow a Norse path. It is a great primer on starting and running groups, and handling the inevitable conflict and bad actors that come up.  He goes into depth on fascism within heathenry and lists resources for learning about far right tactics.  It is sad that inclusive Heathen groups must all be on the lookout for White Supremacy, but that is the world we live in.

While I do agree with Smith’s stance on abuse—it needs to be documented and brought to light—he spends no time defining abuse. That might not be the focus of the book or the author’s area of expertise, but I wish he had at least listed resources to identify abuse like he does for the fascism section. For a new seeker, who this book is aimed for, abuse may be difficult to identify. Especially if abusers are charismatic and have enablers.

This is a great introduction, but it is just that—an introduction. However, a further reading list is supplied to aid in further learning on the Norse journeys. Even an experienced Heathen who wishes to enter leadership would benefit from reading the Way of Fire and Ice.

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