About Me

My name is Daniel (or Dan) McCoy, and I’m the creator of this website and the writer of all of the articles here. I’m an independent scholar of the pre-Christian religion and mythology of the Norse and other Germanic peoples. This site and my book The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion are the main fruits of this work to date.

I’m also a philosopher of religion, and I have another site (DanielMcCoy.org) and book (The Language of Meaning: Why Science Cannot Replace Religion) on that topic.

The pagan Germanic worldview has been an enduring passion of mine since I was a kid. I’ve been reading and thinking about this topic ever since I was in middle school. Though I have a BA degree, I’m almost entirely self-taught in everything that I do, including my work here. My experience of academia has been that it hinders intellectual curiosity and the production of rigorous, original work more than it facilitates them. When I was in college, the classes I got the most out of by far were formal independent studies with particular professors whom I respected, and vice versa. I decided to not continue any further in academia than the undergrad level, and to instead do my scholarly and philosophical work on my own and in a manner where I have total intellectual and creative freedom. It’s worked out wonderfully.

From the documentary Iron Knight: Lou Gehrig
From the documentary Iron Knight: Lou Gehrig

A common misconception is that I self-identify as a heathen or a pagan of some sort, something which I have never done. Although I find much to respect and admire in those circles, I’m a sympathetic outsider. The pre-Christian worldview of northern Europe has been a powerful influence on my own worldview, but it’s one influence among several.

Some aspects of Norse mythology and religion that are particularly meaningful to me personally are Odin as an image of the divine, the practices and values connected with him, the individualistic warrior spirit, the heroic approach to the intrinsic tragedy of life, and the connection to my ancestors. (According to a DNA test, my ancestry is almost entirely from the British Isles, Scandinavia, and northern continental Europe – so it’s almost entirely Germanic and Celtic, with traces of more southerly and easterly European peoples in the mix as well.)

I have my own private religion that’s come to me little by little over the course of my life. No one else but me is a “member” of this religion. I used to call myself an “unaffiliated theist,” because I’m not an adherent of any religion that anyone else would recognize, but I’ve since come to view that description as sub-par at best. It sounds too wishy-washy, when I actually occupy a very definite position in the religious landscape. Directly describing my religion to other people feels like exposing a night-blooming flower to glaring midday sunlight, so I make a point to keep it to myself. It doesn’t influence my scholarly work, anyway.

While I’m ultimately not a member of any established religious tradition, I also acknowledge that I’m not entirely outside of the religious traditions and legacies of my forebears – both pagan and Christian. I don’t think any of us are truly outside of our ancestors’ religious traditions, no matter how we may classify ourselves. They continue to influence our thoughts and behavior in subtle and unconscious yet sometimes profound ways. For me, that connection is a conscious source of joy, despite criticisms I have of some of the particulars of Christianity and paganism.

I live in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

The Ultimate Online Guide to Norse Mythology and Religion