The geography and road systems are as described.
Geoffrey of Monmouth was a 12th
whose work Historia Regum Britanniae
kicked off the fascination with Merlin.
The Roundhouse on the Kymin exists. It was built by a
gentlemen’s luncheon club in the 18th century. It is now owned by the National
Tewkesbury Medieval Festival takes place every July in
The 2010 volcanic eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in
Iceland caused enormous disruption to air travel across western and northern
Europe. It took place in April/May.
Kitsune is the Japanese word for a fox. Japanese folklore
depicts them as shapeshifters with paranormal abilities and wisdom.
The story Loki sued about
and The Lay of Heron
are my creations. You can find them by clicking on the links.
What Rikki says about a seita is true.
Suomi is the Finnish word for Finland.
The National Exhibition Centre is in Solihull, close to
‘Just do it’ and the tick are trademarks of the shoe
Shalwar kameez is a traditional outfit originating in the
Indian subcontinent, comprising trousers and a tunic.
A goði (m) or gyðja (f) was an Old Norse term for a
chieftain-priest, mainly in Iceland during the Viking period. ‘Godwife’ is my modernisation.
As with ‘saywife’ the ‘-wife’ was a standard Anglo Saxon suffix for a woman
carrying out a trade.
Tamworth was the royal capital of the great Anglo Saxon
kingdom of Mercia. The first Christian king of Mercia donated land at Lichfield
for a monastery. I made up the hof.
The description of the design of the hof is based on
Norwegian stave churches, which are thought to have been influenced by the
design of Heathen temples. Specifically, I had Heddal stave church in mind.
The swastika is a sign of health and well-being that is
used in many non-European cultures. It was used in Anglo Saxon England prior to
Christianity, as a primary symbol of the Heathen religion. It is no longer used
by Heathens due to its appropriation by white supremacists.
The birth of Ymir, his nourishing by the cosmic cow, Audhumbla
and the use of his body to create the world are told in the Prose Edda Gylfaginning
Idhun is a goddess associated with apples, in Heathen
Thor had a cart drawn by goats, and Freya’s was drawn by
cats. Tiw is associated with oaths and is missing a hand. Heathen mythology
includes tales of Loki taking the shapes of a falcon and a seal.
‘Ettinfolk’ is my rendering of a world generally
mistranslated as ‘giants’ in Heathen mythology. The Disir are female ancestors
and clan protectors.
Tacitus mentions ‘the sticks’ as the form of divination
used by the Germanic peoples. Although some modern Heathens argue for them
being an early form of runes, insufficient information is given in Germania
10 to know. As of 2018, there is no evidence of runes being used for divination
prior to modern times.
Yggdrasil is the tree that links the worlds in Heathen
The Kalevala is Finnish mythology. The bit about
Lemminkäinen and his mother is true.
I invented ‘the hero’ for Scarlett’s tarot pack and
substituted wyrd for the wheel. I also substituted the suite names. Otherwise,
the reading is authentic to the meanings normally assigned to the cards. As is
anything in the text about the characters on the cards. You can find credits
for the artists at the front of the book.
The images (where not explained in the text)
The Hero – this is Siegfried’s slaying of the dragon,
from Wagner’s Ring Cycle (19th
century opera). The source is the Icelandic
The Magician – Loki eating the witch’s heart comes from
the Poetic Edda, Hyndluljoð
Death – the image is of Hermoð asking Hel to release
Odhin’s son, Baldr. The story is in the Prose Edda Gylfaginning
The High Priest – Väinämöinen is one of the three heroes
of the Kalevala. He is as old as the world.
Queen of Torches – Gullveig was probably Freyja in
disguise. She went to Asgard during the war between the gods and was killed
three times, coming back to life each time. The story is in the Poetic Edda Voluspa
Strength – the Prose Edda Gylfaginning
how Tyr (cognate Tiw) placed his right hand into the mouth of Fenris to
guarantee good faith when the wolf was bound. Tyr lost his hand.
Youth of Horns – the image is of the Rhinemaidens luring Alberich
at the beginning of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. The tale doesn’t appear in that form
in Heathen mythology.
The Moon – the story of Loki’s theft of the apples is in
the Prose Edda Skaldskaparmal
Five of Ships – Kullervo is a character from the
Kalevala. He suffers multiple tragedies that drive him to mass murder.
Judgement – the card shows the Midgard Serpent and Naglfar (ship of nails). The serpent raises the sea against Asgard,
while the ship brings the forces of those who will defeat the gods. The imagery is from the Prose Edda Gylfaginning
The site at Letocetum is owned and run by the National
Trust. It’s close to Lichfield in Staffordshire, England.
Tang and fuller are parts of a blade.
The information about the development of the awareness of
pain in the foetus is true, as at the time this book was written.
Tapio and his wife Mielikki are Finnish gods of the
forest and hunting. They have three or four daughters, one of whom is Tellervo.
Regretfully, the ‘hierarchy of specialness’ exists,
though not that term. However, I made up the bit about modern Scandinavian
fraudsters claiming to be Finnish or Sami. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s
There are repeated references in the Icelandic Sagas
(part of Heathen mythology) to learning magic from the Finnish or Sami peoples.
The books, TV series and games mentioned all exist.
The three days of the ‘dark' moon were used to mark the
start of a new month in many lunar calendars.
‘Brand’ in Anglo Saxon means both torch and sword.
Fionntan is a Gaelic name derived from finn
(white) + tine
Most of what we know about the Heathen concept of fetches
comes from the folklore and the Icelandic sagas. They form part of the person
and are present from birth. They protect the person and can be sent out by a
practitioner to collect information or accomplish a task. They appear in
dreams, including the dreams of others. They take the shape of animals or women
and have an awareness of future events.
Ça suffit pour l’instant =
That’s enough for the
The nursery rhyme Bye Baby Bunting
mentions wrapping the baby in a skin.
The conversion of norther European Heathen lands took
place between the 6th
centuries, beginning with
Britain and ending in Scandinavia. The Sami people didn’t convert until 18th
The soul bird is a belief from Finnic Paganism: the
pre-Christian religion of what is now Finland, Karelia and Estonia.
Keats wrote La Belle Dame Sans Merci.
It’s the tale of a fay seductress who breaks hearts.
In Finnish mythology, the Milky Way is known as the
Linnunrata (bird road) to Lintukoto, the home of the birds. The bear is a
sacred animal. There was a taboo on saying the word for a bear. Euphemisms were
used instead, one of which is Mead Paw.
Leib-olmai, (Sami: 'Alder Man') is a god of the forest in
the Sami religion. He guards wild animals, especially bears. He can give good
luck in the hunt.
The SAS use Pen-y-Fan in the Brecon Beacons for their
final selection endurance test.
Until recent times, almost all Finnish mothers gave birth
Con’s misadventure on Pen-Y-Fan is based on Major Mike Kealy,
an SAS veteran. Kealy died of hypothermia in February 1979 when he joined SAS
candidates on a selection march in the Brecon Beacons in deteriorating weather
conditions. The coroner said he had contributed to his situation by refusing to
wear cold weather gear or warm clothing.
On 7 July 2005 four bombs were detonated in central
London by terrorists. Three were detonated in the London Underground and a
fourth on a double-decker bus. Fifty-two people were killed and more than 700
Our word enchantment comes from the chanting of spells. Galdor
is ‘song’ in Anglo Saxon and acquired the meaning ‘enchantment’ through
chanting or singing spells. The Anglo Saxon word galdorcræft meant the magical
arts, or someone skilled in them.
Glee was a specific form of English part song popular
between 1650 and 1900.
The Finnish language is part of the Uralic language
group, which extends across northern Eurasia and includes Estonian.
What is said about the Sami people, Sapmi and joiking is
‘Be as you wish to seem’ is a distillation of remarks
attributed to Socrates by Xenophon in his works Memoribilia
2.6.39 and Cyropaedia
Nimue, Viviane and variants of those names are given to
the female fay/Lady of the Lake who began appearing in the French chivalric
romances by the early 13th century. The 'Prose Merlin' section of the
Lancelot-Grail cycle tells of Merlin falling in love with Vivien and of her
trapping him in a tree, beneath a stone or in a tower. Breton folklore has
Merlin trapped beneath the Fairy Mirror lake in The Valley Without Return in modern
Broceliande (Le Forêt de Paimpont).
I made up the bit about ‘Väinämöinen’s children’.
Stállu comes from Sami folklore.
Háigir is the Northern Sami word for the grey heron.
Haikara Puolihaltija is Finnish. It means Heron Halfelven.
Stones are a common feature of saunas and other types of
sweat lodge. The stones are heated and steam is generated by pouring water over
According to Heathen mythology, Heimdall blowing Gjallarhorn
(yelling-horn) is the signal for the start of Ragnarok. Prose Edda Gylfaginning
Leominster is one of the four largest towns in
Herefordshire. It stands at the confluence of the rivers Lugg and Kenwater. The
geography is faithfully rendered.
Izzy quotes half of a couplet from T S Eliot’s poem East
: ‘The houses are all gone under the sea./ The dancers are all gone
under the hill.’ East Coker
is one of the Four Quartets. Each of the
four poems examines an aspect of the relationship between humanity and time. East
takes the cosmic timescale.
Swallows are found in the UK between March and October. They
find it difficult to take off if they land on the ground.
The Flower Fairies were the creation of English illustrator
Cicely Mary Barker. They were published in the first half of the 20th
century. My description of Bramble does not match Barker’s illustration.
Men in Black is a popular 1997 movie about a secret
organisation dealing with aliens. The agents carry ‘neuralyzers’ to make people
forget meeting them.
In Finnish mythology, ‘haltija’ covers a range of
creatures from nature spirits to brownies.
‘Mens sana in corpore sano’ is a Latin phrase. It means ‘a
healthy mind in a healthy body’.
In Heathen mythology, there are many norns. They
determine the fate of people and attend births to give gifts. These lesser
norns are mentioned in the Prose Edda Gylfaginning
The Mother and her daughters are great domestic deities
in Sami mythology, mainly respected by women. Sarahkka is one of the Mother’s
The tale of Loki taking the shape of a mare is in the
Prose Edda Gylfaginning
42. He gave birth to Odhin’s eight-legged steed,
Icelandic horses are known for their small size. They
have two lateral gaits unknown to other breeds of horse. The tölt is a walking
gait known for comfort and fast acceleration into a speed similar to a trot. The
other is the skeið or flugskeið, which is fast and smooth. They also have
normal walking, trotting and canter/gallop gaits.
films were based on Stephenie Meyer's
novels. They appeared between 2008 and 2012. The main relationship in them is
between Bella Swan (human) and Edward Cullen (vampire).
Gakti is the Northern Sami word for the traditional Sami
tunic. The traditional Sami outfit is characterized by intense primary colours.
Dr John Dee’s scrying mirror was made of obsidian though it
was not the shape I describe.
‘Akku’ is Northern Sami for grandmother. ‘Mummi’ is
Finnish for mother.
Mari Boine and Wimme Saari are two of the most renowned
Struwwelpeter is a mid-19th
book of cautionary tales aimed at children. It was popular into the 20th
In Finnish mythology, väki are different types or races
of nature spirits.
Weobley is a black-and-white village in Herefordshire. My
description of the village geography is real.
Shadowfax is the steed of Gandalf the Wizard in The
Lord of the Rings
In the Kalevala Rune
14 (Crawford translation),
Mielikki is described as wearing gold, silver and pearls, with a golden girdle,
sky-blue clothes and scarlet ribbons.
Most Anglo Saxon names fused two words. Both ‘hale’ and ‘fast’ are Anglo Saxon words, giving us our modern
words ‘healthy’ and ‘fasten’.
Ostrobothnia is one of the two Finnish regions with a
Swedish-speaking majority. The other is Åland. Finlandssvenskar is Swedish for
is French for ‘well done’.
The famous detective fiction writer Agatha Christie created
Poirot. Death on the Nile
and Murder on the Orient Express
two of her novels.
Mielikki nurtured the bear into existence in this world,
and gave him teeth and claws. See Kalevala Rune
Double jeopardy is a procedural defence that prevents an
accused person from being tried a second time on the same charges following a
In European folklore, the seventh son of a seventh son is
regarded to possess special powers.
A year and a day existed in British law until 1996 as a
restriction. From the late 18th
century there has been a belief that
it existed in pre-Christian times. It is used in some pagan handfastings and
initiations from the mid-20th
In Heathen mythology, the squirrel Ratatosk carries
information the length of the world tree.
The red pill or the blue pill is a reference to the 1999
film The Matrix
. The offer represented a life-altering choice to the