The music of Hagalaz' Runedance has been described as "Ambient Folk" or
"Pagan Folk", yet Andrea definitely has her individual style, creating a
step into her world, where past and present, dreams and reality meet.
Involving a variety of musicians from alternative, medieval and folk music
scenes, she has been experimenting with ancient instruments and her voice.
Some songs are magical experiences, describing visions and Seidr trances
(Northern shamanism). She describes Hagalaz as the rune to unlock the doors
to the hidden self. Hagalaz is representing the mysterious side of
femininity. Thus, to Andrea, Hagalaz' Runedance symbolises the dance
in-between the worlds.
In '96 Andrea, released a single with Hagalaz' Runedance called "When The
Trees Were Silenced", followed by 1998's album "The Winds That Sang Of
Midgard's Fate". In the following year, Andrea released a mini CD entitled
"Urd - That Which Was". Spring 2000 marked the release of the album "Volven"
. More powerful, more diverse and more Pagan, using traditional Nordic and
Celtic instruments, combined with ritualistic drumming and
synth-arrangements, Volven invokes a primal, earthly and visual mood. Volven
came to collect outstanding critics in the major alternative music
2002 marked the release of the latest album Frigga's Web. This latest piece
is more or less entirely arranged with various ancient instruments and
received even more outstanding critics. With much improved vocals and
technical experience, broader musical doors have opened to Andrea and with
it she felt that the circle had closed for Hagalaz' Runedance.
- You are openly Pagan and Åsatru; what has been the reaction to your music within these communities? Do you feel they are a major part of your fanbase? Has there been and feedback about your music and writing from them?
"Naturally, the majority of my fans are Pagans, or at least inspired by the old myths, nature's mysteries, and the spirituality that I try to represent. I have gotten a lot of great feedback from people around the world, people that are Pagan, and also people that have been inspired by the ancient mysteries after they listened to my music or read my book or my interviews. My albums also tend to get great reviews by people that simply enjoy my music and my voice. My major fan base appears to be in the so-called 'Alternative Music scene'. I think what people like most about my work is its honesty; I merely express myself, my thoughts, my views, my feelings, my experiences, my awareness of the old wisdom. I try to make people aware that Paganism is not a weird religion from the past. It's not about returning to the life-style people were living 1000 years ago. It's about bringing the old wisdom back into our existing lives, and that the Pagan traditions are living traditions, living wisdom that is just as important today as it was back then. I think more and more people are becoming aware of themselves, aware of their minds, and aware of their bodies, thus they are seeking for their true self, which has its roots in the ancient folk-soul."
- Please talk a bit about your personal spiritual path: how you came to it and how it has influenced your music.
"I have always had a general interest in mythology, folklore and legends. I always have been different from the crowd, I thought much more about Life, and many things the 'ordinary' people did, did not make any sense to me. I reacted to the respectless way people treated Nature and animals with, I reacted to respectless behaviour of men towards women. I couldn't believe that people just accepted this as being 'normal'. I was very fond of the American Indians as a child. When I saw this stupid films of Cowboys and Indians, I was so upset to see how the American Natives were demonised. I also always had magical abilities. I grew up with the feeling that there was something not normal with me. Nobody shared my interests or had my visions. In 88, I moved to London, where I met Pagans and Occultists, amongst those Freya Aswynn, and my Pagan career began. I lived in England for six years, where I have been a part of different Occult orders, and was working with various forms of Magic. The more I studied about the myths, the runes and Magic, I realised that the Germanic Pagans, my foremothers and fathers, had a very natural perception of Life and a lot of knowledge about the Universe. It just feels natural for me to walk the spiritual path of my ancestors. As I got more acquainted with Northern magic, Rune Magic, etc., I learned about the art of Seidr magic, the oldest form of magic, a blend of Shamanism and Witchcraft, which was mainly practiced by women. My songs express my thoughts, feelings, dreams, visions and personal experiences. Some songs are also inspired by soul-journeys and Seidr rites. I always try to create a magical atmosphere. I think over the last years, my music has become more personal. With my first Hagalaz Runedance album back in 98, I wanted to create Pagan Folk music, and tried to tell the world about the Pagan concept. Now I simply express myself as a Pagan, focusing greatly on myself, my own experiences, also everyday experiences."
- Have you experienced prejudice because of your belief? Does being openly Pagan affects where you are able to play?
"Åsatru is a registered religion here in Norway. I am a member of the registered community Bifrost. We have just gotten the right to do official weddings, but we are still fighting for the rights to have Pagan burial grounds. Of course we all want gravhaugs (burial hills, where the Vikings were buried in often with ships and gifts) but this might be a little difficult to get through... (he, he... this is a joke). But in general, the Norwegian people appear to be proud of their Folk traditions and history; it is very much a part of life, it is all around us, and this is the reason why I moved here. You can tell people that you are a Pagan or a witch, most would find it weird, but you don't get discriminated, or at least I don't. I think people have become more open-minded in general. Ten years ago, when I was living in England, I was quite often discriminated. We had to be careful where we could do our rituals, and of course we were called 'Devil worshippers and stupid things like that. But it has happened that Hagalaz Runedance has been discriminated because of the Pagan concept. A Norwegian Folk Music Festival did not want me to play there, because my 'scary witchy' appearance and 'heathen' lyrics would scare the ordinary crowd away. I take that as a compliment, because it shows that people really take me seriously... 'She is a real Pagan, now this is scary'... So no, I cannot play in front of an ordinary audience. I don't want to either, I would feel uncomfortable. I like to have a connection to my audience. A German political organisation found it necessary to say this in their newsletter about 'dangerous music': 'The very popular artist Andrea Haugen, claims she talks about ancient natural and feminine mysteries, and if we look at her website, we indeed cannot find anything harmful, but don't be blinded by her apparently harmless agenda, under the surface she surely is involved in the Nazi movement...'. My promoter immediately informed his lawyer to deal with this matter. In Germany, it is rather common unfortunately to discriminate Pagans as Nazis, and I know several Pagans that experienced severe discrimination. I also experienced some cheeky comments by East European magazines, who could not handle the fact that I am a woman creating all my songs myself, and that I promote the strong aspects of femininity. But like I said, in general people pretty much appreciate what I do and agree with it."
- There has been a resurgence in Northern and Germanic traditional music recently; how do you feel you fit in with this movement? Do you feel a kinship with bands like Hedningarna and Garmarna?
"I think my music is much in the vein of Hedningarna or Garmana, I also use old traditional instruments, especially old Nordic and Celtic instruments, like the lyre, strykelyre, harp, bagpipes, and hurdy gurdy. The lyre is already mentioned in the northern mythology, and I am very fond of the lyre and strykelyre. To me, they represent the past, and since my music is inspired by old folk songs, it is natural that I use such instruments to create a link between the past and the present. They have been used by our ancestors to create a magical atmosphere, and I use them in the same spirit. Bands like Hedningarna and Garmana use the instruments in the same spirit, but the individuals in the bands are not practising Pagans as far as I know. I experience this a lot, I meet Folk musicians that play old songs, which in spirit are truly Pagan, but they are not interested in the spirituality of their Pagan foremothers and forefathers really. Some are even Christian. I find this a little disappointing."
- It seems that "Frigga's Web" is going to be darker thematically than your previous release "Volven". Could you talk a bit about what "Frigga's Web" is about?
"Friggas Web is focusing greatly on the web of Life, the mysteries of Birth, Death, afterlife, and the connection between the goddesses Hel and Frigga. To me they have a very strong connection, as I have written about in my book. The whole album is kind of questioning Life and Death. I have experienced a few deaths in 2000 and losses in 2001, changes, depressions, lost loves... that certainly might have influenced my songwriting. My loyal canine companion, a black greyhound, died as well. I had him for 12 years, and he was present at every magical rite I did. He died at Samhain, and my last song on the album is dedicated to him."
- You are playing at the Leipzig Wave Gothic Treffen this year. Is the Gothic movement something that you are involved in? Do you have many Gothic fans? Why do you think your music appeals to them?
"The Leipzig Wave Gothic Festival is a huge Festival where all Alternative Music styles are performed, from Gothic to Metal, to Industrial, to Ambient, to Medieval, to Folk. There is also a medieval market, pyro shows, and a Pagan village where Celtic and Viking re-enactment warriors do show-fights; I also am a Viking re-enactment fighter. Like I said above, my audience tends to be a good blend of all kinds of alternative people. And like I said, I think more and more young individuals are becoming aware of the ancient mysteries, the interest for Paganism, Occultism, alternative medicine, awareness of the Earth is certainly growing."
- What inspired you to take the step to publicly share your faith through writing a book? Please talk a little bit about that decision and why you chose to write it, even though there are other books out there all ready on the topic.
"I very much write about my own experiences, my way, encouraging others to find their own way. There are not that many personal books about how to discover the wisdom for yourself in our modern world. I tell the reader who is new to the subject that this is not a weird religion from the past, or that Paganism is about difficult ceremonies one has to practise, but it is wisdom that already lives within us, waiting to be rediscovered. It is wisdom that connects us to Mother Nature. I concentrate on the psychological aspect, the meaning behind the myths and folktales, and most importantly, how to think in a Pagan way, and not in a Christian way. I have read several books on runes, rituals, traditions, Magic, etc., where the authors appear to have not yet managed to rid themselves of the Christian way of thinking, thus writing in 'good and evil' terms. I read a book about Rune Magic, for example, where the author suggests, 'Hel should not be messed around with...' Why not? She is an aspect of womanhood like all other goddesses, and should not be ignored. Some authors suggest that Loki might be somewhat 'evil'. They have not understood the true meaning of the god. I talk about how to communicate with the animal spirit, and I talk about my own experience with childbirth. I try to inspire, I write as an artist, and I write with passion. I say very honestly that I do not have the answers to all questions; nobody has that. Each person has his, or her own way, and I believe the answers lie within us."
- Do you feel any of your songs have been actually inspired/transmitted directly from the divine? Does your relationship with the gods play a role in your songwriting?
"In a way, yes, my songs are my personal feelings, thoughts, dreams, visions, and experiences. My songs 'Seeker Divine', 'Wake Skadi' or 'Hel - Goddess of the Underworld', are dedications or invocations to Odin, Skadi and Hel. In 'Seeker Divine', I describe an experience I had; a fascinating encounter with two ravens, and I saw this as a sign somehow from the god Odin. Wake Skadi is an invocation to Skadi; I feel very close to her spirit. The song 'Hel', is partly an invocation, and it is also describing a vision I had in a Seidr journey. Many of my songs are experiences I consider to be magical, others are shamanic journeys; I express a vision, and try to get the listener to feel this experience as well. My songs are inspired by traditional Folk songs, but of course I make all the music myself, so the melodies come from inside of me... They often come spontaneously. I also dream music; I create the music deep within myself, or the sounds come from the other side... I do not know..."