Thursday, January 13, 2011

Galdrabok: An Icelandic Grimoire By Stephen Flowers





The so-called Galdrabok,' or "Book of Magic," is the single most important document for understanding the practice of magic in late medieval Iceland. It is especially important in that it give, a unique insight into the various religio-magical elements that went into a synthetic national magical tradition in Iceland all the time of its compilation. No other document of comparable age gives so many details of the preservation of the archaic Germanic gods, cosmology, and magical practices as does this little manuscript. Here we are not dependent on folktales or indirect reports through confessions exacted by the tortures of the Inquistion or other churchly authorities to reconstruct the magicoreligious views of the galdramenn (magicians) of the day; instead, we have direct evidence of actual practices written by the magicians' own hands. In many ways the Galdrabok is to the Icelandic folktales of magic' what the runic inscriptions are to the accounts of magic recorded in the sagas. They provide factual corroboration of what otherwise might have been considered, form of fantasy.

In this volume the reader will find not only an annotated translation of the complete Galdrabok but also a similar treatment of selections from other written sources of Germanic magical practice from all of the Germanic peoples. However, in no region did the old ways and the old Gods and goddesses survive so well as in Iceland. And because we are focusing on these texts for what is uniquely Germanic about them, leaving as secondary what is common to every European tradition, we will concentrate mainly on Icelandic sources in this study. Our two principal areas of interest will be the preservation of the Old Gods and the preservation of the unique forms of Germanic magical practice inherited from the heathen age.

In preparing this work for modern publication, I've made every effort to remain true to the original text of the Gaklrabok. Irregularities in capitalization and spelling are left as in the original as they may have special meaning or significance.
















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