ICELANDIC MAGIC
Aims, tools and techniques of the Icelandic sorcerers
By Christopher Alan Smith


In this unprecedented work, author Christopher A. Smith has meticulously studied no less than 6 original Icelandic manuscripts dating from 1500 to 1860 to extract a picture of the aims, tools and techniques of Icelandic sorcerers. Set against the context of the harsh economic, social and environmental conditions of this North Atlantic island, the book gives a detailed account of the types of spells that were used and the motivations behind them.

Hundreds of items from the six books of magic have been analysed to present the reader with a clear idea of the methods that were used, including incantation, invocation of deities and use of the enigmatic magical staves (galdrastafir). Furthermore, the book goes into great detail concerning the physical tools used by magicians and the kinds of objects that might have been found in a sorcerer's 'toolbox'.

The book is illustrated throughout with images from the original manuscripts. Although it is not intended by any means as a book of instruction, one chapter does focus on workings of certain types and gives suggestions for those brave enough to try them out.

All in all, this work will be an indispensable item for anyone interested in the history of magic in general and of Icelandic magic in particular.

2015, 220 pages. Hardback with dust jacket, paperback & Kindle editions available.
ISBN 978-1-905297-93-1
B&W 6.14 x 9.21 in or 234 x 156 mm (Royal 8vo) Perfect Bound on Creme w/Gloss Lam

ISBN 978-1-905297-92-4
B&W 6.14 x 9.21in or 234 x 156mm (Royal 8vo) Blue Digital Cloth™ Cover w/Jacket on Creme w/Gloss Lam
 

Icelandic Magic by Christopher Alan Smith

£17.99Price
Binding
  • Acknowledgements
    Introduction
    A note on orthography and pronunciation
    CHAPTER 1 - ICELANDIC MAGIC IN CONTEXT
    The environment and the economy
    Law and law enforcement
    Vernacular literacy
    Religion and attitudes to magic
    Conclusion
    CHAPTER 2 - THE BOOKS OF MAGIC
    CHAPTER 3 - PURPOSES AND PREOCCUPATIONS
    The question of ‘white’ and ‘black’ magic
    Apotropaic magic
    Farming, fishing and trade
    Friendship, favour and influence
    Crime and disputes
    Healing
    Love and seduction
    Divination
    Games and sports
    Luck and wishes
    Spells of purely malign intent
    Conclusions
    CHAPTER 4 - THE MAIN TECHNIQUES OF ICELANDIC MAGIC
    The primacy of the magical sign as a vehicle of the intent
    Appeals to supernatural entities
    Talismans
    The importance of incantation
    The methods of delivery
    Direct carving
    Bringing a prepared spell into direct contact with the target
    Ingestion
    Delivery by proximity
    Delivery from a distance
    Divination
    Ritual washing
    Conclusions
    CHAPTER 5 - THE TOOLS OF ICELANDIC MAGIC
    The carving instrument
    Fingers
    Knives, awls and scissors
    Pens, pencils and chalk
    Materials used for carving
    The carved surfaces
    Clear choices
    Wood
    Paper and parchment
    Metals
    Bones, human and animal
    Sea creatures
    Use of body fluids and excretions
    Herbs and vegetable preparations
    Conclusions
    CHAPTER 6 - TIME AND SPACE
    CHAPTER 7 - THE PERSISTENCE OF HEATHEN BELIEF
    CHAPTER 8 - RUNES, CIPHERS AND SECRECY
    CHAPTER 9 - SOME PROMINENT THEMES AND THEIR APPLICATIONS
    Ægishjálmur
    Kaupaloki – the bargain sealer
    ‘love’ spells
    Disputes and lawsuits
    Brýnslustafir – keeping sharp is good
    CHAPTER 10 - THE ISSUE OF COMPLEXITY
    CHAPTER 11 - CONCLUSIONS
    Who practised magic, and with what intentions?
    Techniques and tools – summary
    The construction of the staves – can any sense be made of this?
    Final conclusion: how are we to typify Icelandic magic?
    Works cited
    Suggestions for further reading
    Endnotes
     

  • Christopher Alan Smith was born in Nottingham in 1954. He has travelled widely and lived in the Netherlands for five years, where his innate talent for languages enabled him to speak fluent Dutch within a few months and work as a logistics coordinator for a major transport company. His travels also include three visits to Iceland; on the second visit, he stayed in the country for 8 months and worked as a volunteer at the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft in Hólmavík.

    Christopher’s interest in magic began when he was a student at the University of Sheffield, at which time the main emphasis in the available literature was on the Western Tradition of Kabbalistic magic. However, his taste for travel, languages and a restless search for knowledge clearly indicated Woden as his example, leading him within a few years towards Rune Magic and ultimately to membership of the Rune Gild. His Fellowship Work for the Gild, “The Icelandic Tradition of Magic” was published in 2012 as part of the collection “Occult Traditions” (Numen Books). In 2014 he was awarded the title of Master in the Rune Gild for his Master-work “Icelandic Magic in the Early Modern Period”, which forms the basis of this book.

    As he wryly comments in the introduction, “As my sixtieth birthday was approaching, I realised that I should perhaps have started on this project about forty years ago, beginning by studying Icelandic and folklore at university instead of politics… but one has to start somewhere.”

    Today he lives in North Yorkshire and, when not practising and researching Icelandic magic, works as a freelance translator.

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