Almost everyone involved with Heathenry will have heard the famous line: “Heathenry is the religion with homework.” In a lot of ways, that’s very true. Even if you are not going the route of a reconstructionist, it’s still necessary to have a basic understanding of what the lore and history say about deities, spirits, and how to honor them. This presents a huge problem for those with little money to work with, though. Most libraries won’t have copies of the religious works you’ll be looking for, especially modern-day how-tos written by Heathens. Few people have access to scholarly journals without paying exorbitant fees, making it incredibly difficult to stay current on research being done. Luckily, there are a few resources out there available for free that can help develop a basic understanding of the lore and history, and there are even some that will help you go beyond that basic understanding into something more in-depth.
1) The Eddas. The Poetic Edda, a compilation of poetry written mostly after the 10th century CE, and The Prose Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, are usually cited as the most basic of Heathen lore. Luckily, they are also in the public domain, and there are a few translations that you can find available for free. At Sacredtexts.com, the Poetic Edda is available translated by Henry Adams Bellows, and the Prose Edda as translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur. These are older translations, and can be a bit more difficult to read through. Amazon offers a free Kindle ebook containing the Prose and Poetic Eddas, translated by I. A. Blackwell and Benjamin Thorpe, which are also older translations; you can get a free kindle app for a desktop PC and a smartphone.
2) Other lore resources. These resources are generally considered less important than the Eddas, but can be very enlightening to read through. The Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus, a work that describes many deities found in the Norse myths but in the context of historical heroes, can be found at Project Gutenburg. The Icelandic Saga Database is home to many sagas written in the 10th and 11th centuries, that often contain little Heathen details if they are read with a careful eye.
3) Thoughts of modern day practitioners. While not always historically accurate, I think the opinions of fellow practitioners, especially those who are well versed in the subject matter, is very important for those looking to learn about Heathenry. You will not always agree with them (I certainly don’t!) but their thoughts and opinions can help you examine your own practice and decide what exactly you want to be doing.
There are a lot of good books by modern Heathens, but I will be suggesting a few blogs written by those I admire – these are awesome and totally free resources for developing and working with a practical, modern-day Heathenry. Grumpy Lokean Elder, Thorraborrin, and Lokavinr are all excellent and very informative Tumblr blogs that I follow. Swain Wodening maintains a blog on Theodish Heathenry with many fascinating thoughts, and the Norse Mythology Blog, while disparaged in some circles, can be a helpful resource.