Icelandic Magic – Christopher Alan Smith

Magical rites and spells from Iceland, from six Icelandic texts dated between 1500-1860.

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London, UK: Avalonia, 2015. Paperback, 218 pages. New.

Subtitled, ‘Aims, Tools and Techniques of The Icelandic Sorcerers’.Smith has meticulously studied six Icelandic manuscripts dating from 1500 to 1860 to extract a picture of the aims, tools and techniques of Icelandic sorcerers, to create a detailed account of the spells 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, including incantation, invocation of deities and use of the enigmatic magical staves (galdrastafir). Smith goes into detail concerning the physical tools used by magicians and the kinds of objects that might have been found in a sorcerer’s ‘toolbox’. Illustrations showing drawings in the manuscripts help bring it to life.

One chapter even gives practical 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.