Icelandic Magic - Aims, Tools and Techniques of the Icelandic Sorcerers by Christopher Alan Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Recently there has been an interest in the magical techniques of Iceland. This island nation has oft been overlooked as it is perched a bit a ways from the European continent. The land itself is rugged, sparsely populated with very few resources. In places like this people must live by their wits and be super practical.
Iceland was initially settled by Vikings from Denmark and Norway. They brought along with them slaves from Scottland and the British Isles. The Vikings followed Odin and the other Norse gods while the slaves followed Christianity. Iceland fully converted to Christianity in around the 10th or 11th century. They were rather late in the scheme of things, but there were factors that lead to this conversion. One was that slaves raised the children and they were imbued with the new religion. Another factor was trade with Christian Europe, and then military strength of Christianity.
The Gods have not completely gone away. In Icelandic Grimoires Odin and Thor are still invoked many times along side Jesus and Mother Mary. Usually the old ones are called upon for magical operation that involve cursing. Malicious magic makes up about 20 percent of Icelandic magic. Most of it though involves protection and their detection.
Many of the spells do not call upon higher powers but rather rely upon the sorcerers own power and intent. The magic is simple and not heavy on ritual. There are no temples to prepare and most of the magic is used for practical purposes not spiritual development. Magic was also a tool used by the poor as they had no other means of evening things out.
The techniques rely mostly on the creation of runestaves. These interesting designs are sometimes traced over the object to be acted upon or the sorcerer themselves. It could use spittle or blood to make the runestaves more powerful. Runestaves could also be transferred via air. It is not yet clear whether the runestaves were derived from Futhark runes. More studies need to be done.
Hopefully this book is one of many that will explore Iclandic Magic.
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