Thirteen Moons

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Reflections on the Heathen Lunar Year

By P. D. Brown

Arcana Europa / Gilded Books, 74 + x pages, ISBN 9781959353003

For many practitioners of Germanic paganism, heathenry, or Ásatrú, there is a tendency to fixate on the idea of historical reconstructionism. This is the belief that the religious practices of our pre-Christian ancestors (of which we have limited knowledge, at best) can be re-enacted in the modern world, just as they would have been celebrated in antiquity. For the English heathen poet and storyteller P. D. Brown, however, it is less important to obsess over hair-splitting historical and cultural minutiae, and to focus instead on performing rituals that are cosmically correct.   

In this concise and convincing essay, Brown argues that the ancient Germanic sacrificial feasts or festivals were originally commemorated according to a lunisolar calendar, and that modern heathens who celebrate Yule and other holy times according to our modern solar calendar are, quite simply, getting it all wrong. He then provides an extensive discussion of six historically attested festivals that can be oriented to this lunar mode of reckoning time. 

Finally, Brown provides us with a set of well-crafted poems dedicated to the thirteen moons, or months, themselves. Brown’s love of the night, the moon, and the year’s seasons, in tandem with his deep understanding of the myths and legends of the North, merge here to produce a collection of inspired verse celebrating the moon’s magic. This includes a number of calls to the gods, goddesses, and otherworldly beings whom the author’s research has linked to certain full moons of the year.

The prose and poetry of Thirteen Moons should provide ample inspiration for anyone who wishes to follow P. D. Brown’s lead and recalibrate the practice of Germanic paganism with a more organic seasonal rhythm—under the moon’s gentle spell.

P. D. Brown was born in York in 1957. In the 1980s he started to rework the myths, legends, and early history of pre-mediaeval Britain as stories for oral recitation to live audiences. He has performed on both side of the Atlantic, and has released five CDs of his poetry and stories, as well as several print editions. He is also an accomplished carver of runestones. He now lives in northern Scotland. His most recent publication, The Rune Poems: A Reawakened Tradition (co-edited with Michael Moynihan), is available from Gilded Books.

The moon is a mysterious body. Experiencing its role in our tradition is a powerful tool in individual development. To have a guide in this experience like P. D. Brown—a master wordsmith deeply familiar with the essence of the topic—is a priceless gift.

—Edred Thorsson, founder of the Rune-Gild and author of The Nine Doors of Midgard: A Curriculum of Rune-Work