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Icelandic Magic: The Mystery and Power of the Galdrabók Grimoire

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A practical guide to the magical systems of pre-Christian Iceland • Reveals spells and workings drawn directly from surviving magical books from the 16th to 20th century preserved at the National Library in Reykjavík • Explores the history of magic in Iceland through original translations of Icelandic folktales about famous magicians and about legendary grimoires, such as A practical guide to the magical systems of pre-Christian Iceland • Reveals spells and workings drawn directly from surviving magical books from the 16th to 20th century preserved at the National Library in Reykjavík • Explores the history of magic in Iceland through original translations of Icelandic folktales about famous magicians and about legendary grimoires, such as the Galdrabók, the oldest and most complete book of its kind • Explains how to personalize the spells through the creation of unique signs and symbols based on the mythic names of Odin and Icelandic magical alphabets During the Christianization of Europe in the Middle Ages, many books of magic were lost as the ancient pagan traditions were suppressed. But in Iceland the practice of recording magical spells in books continued in secret for centuries, on a scale not seen elsewhere. Now housed in the National Library in Reykjavík, these surviving grimoires, which represent only a hundredth of what was lost, reveal a rich magical tradition that continued to evolve into the 20th century. Drawing directly from the actual surviving Icelandic books of magic, Stephen Flowers presents a complete system of magic based on Icelandic lore and magical practices from the 16th century onward. He explores the history of magic in Iceland in pagan and early Christian times and reveals specific practical techniques and ritual templates that readers can adapt to their unique purposes. Illustrating traditional Icelandic magical practices and the Icelanders’ attitudes toward them, he shares original translations of Icelandic folktales about famous magicians, such as the legend of Gray-Skin, and about legendary grimoires, such as the Galdrabók, the oldest and most complete book of its kind. After initiating the reader into the grammar and symbols of Icelandic magic through history and lore, Flowers then presents an extensive catalog of actual spells and magical workings from the historical Icelandic books of magic. These examples provide ready-made forms for practical experimentation as well as an exemplary guide on how to create signs and symbols for more personalized magical work. The author also includes guidance on creating unique magical signs from the 100 mythic names of Odin, which he translates and interprets magically, and from Icelandic magical alphabets, symbols that connect Icelandic magic to the ancient runic tradition.


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A practical guide to the magical systems of pre-Christian Iceland • Reveals spells and workings drawn directly from surviving magical books from the 16th to 20th century preserved at the National Library in Reykjavík • Explores the history of magic in Iceland through original translations of Icelandic folktales about famous magicians and about legendary grimoires, such as A practical guide to the magical systems of pre-Christian Iceland • Reveals spells and workings drawn directly from surviving magical books from the 16th to 20th century preserved at the National Library in Reykjavík • Explores the history of magic in Iceland through original translations of Icelandic folktales about famous magicians and about legendary grimoires, such as the Galdrabók, the oldest and most complete book of its kind • Explains how to personalize the spells through the creation of unique signs and symbols based on the mythic names of Odin and Icelandic magical alphabets During the Christianization of Europe in the Middle Ages, many books of magic were lost as the ancient pagan traditions were suppressed. But in Iceland the practice of recording magical spells in books continued in secret for centuries, on a scale not seen elsewhere. Now housed in the National Library in Reykjavík, these surviving grimoires, which represent only a hundredth of what was lost, reveal a rich magical tradition that continued to evolve into the 20th century. Drawing directly from the actual surviving Icelandic books of magic, Stephen Flowers presents a complete system of magic based on Icelandic lore and magical practices from the 16th century onward. He explores the history of magic in Iceland in pagan and early Christian times and reveals specific practical techniques and ritual templates that readers can adapt to their unique purposes. Illustrating traditional Icelandic magical practices and the Icelanders’ attitudes toward them, he shares original translations of Icelandic folktales about famous magicians, such as the legend of Gray-Skin, and about legendary grimoires, such as the Galdrabók, the oldest and most complete book of its kind. After initiating the reader into the grammar and symbols of Icelandic magic through history and lore, Flowers then presents an extensive catalog of actual spells and magical workings from the historical Icelandic books of magic. These examples provide ready-made forms for practical experimentation as well as an exemplary guide on how to create signs and symbols for more personalized magical work. The author also includes guidance on creating unique magical signs from the 100 mythic names of Odin, which he translates and interprets magically, and from Icelandic magical alphabets, symbols that connect Icelandic magic to the ancient runic tradition.

30 review for Icelandic Magic: The Mystery and Power of the Galdrabók Grimoire

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joe Crow

    I'm actually kind of disappointed in this one. I wouldn't say it's BAD, as such, but it's very slight. First half is a relatively interesting quick history of magical practice in Iceland over the last thousand years. Couple of short bios of major figures and the social/political/religious environments they came up in, and a quick sketch of how the practice of magic changed and the main differences between Icelandic practice and mainland practice (filtered through Dr. Flowers somewhat rigid viewp I'm actually kind of disappointed in this one. I wouldn't say it's BAD, as such, but it's very slight. First half is a relatively interesting quick history of magical practice in Iceland over the last thousand years. Couple of short bios of major figures and the social/political/religious environments they came up in, and a quick sketch of how the practice of magic changed and the main differences between Icelandic practice and mainland practice (filtered through Dr. Flowers somewhat rigid viewpoint). That was kind of interesting, if not terribly well sourced, but it really could have used some more details and a bit more in the way of footnoting. The second half is where it got disappointing for me. This was the part that was supposed to be the real goods; how to make galdrastafr and use them, how to invoke the spirits and gods and other entities associated with the tradition, a whole modern base plan for the sorcerer interesting in operating within the Icelandic grimoire tradition. What you get is a really short ritual outline for drawing and charging your staves, a short section on making sigils with a runic magic square/table, a few short examples of galdrastaves (several of which are actually missing the images of the staves in question), and appendixes with a list of Younger Futhark and medieval Scandinavian runes, a list of Odhinn's by-names with some really short suggestions of how to use them as sigils, and eight different lists of odd vaguely runic/sigil-like letters that he suggests be used as the basis for your staves. And that's it. When I started out in this gig twentyplus years ago, Dr. Flowers was one of my inspirations. As I've grown as a practitioner and a scholar, I've moved away from his models and his world-view, but I still respect his work. ALU, for example, was a book I really enjoyed, and that still sparks ideas and inspiration when I go back to it. Dr. Flowers is a strong proponent of the "post-modern" "magic is communication with the universe via the unconscious mind" model, and while that's not where I usually operate from (most of my work these days is from a more animist/spiritist model, for what it's worth) I can usually see some utility in work derived from that perspective. But this is not a particularly inspiring or informative example of that work.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Indigo Crow

    I find books like this sometimes hard to rate and review. The book is not really BAD so much as it feels... empty. I don't know of a better way to describe the feeling I've got about it. That said, no. I admit I haven't tried any magic from the book and I do intend to, but as is often the case, I feel like something is missing. Maybe more description on how to execute spells? I wish I could put my finger on it... I'm put off by the Christian elements in this book, though the author wasn't pushing I find books like this sometimes hard to rate and review. The book is not really BAD so much as it feels... empty. I don't know of a better way to describe the feeling I've got about it. That said, no. I admit I haven't tried any magic from the book and I do intend to, but as is often the case, I feel like something is missing. Maybe more description on how to execute spells? I wish I could put my finger on it... I'm put off by the Christian elements in this book, though the author wasn't pushing for that in any way. He is honest about why there are mentions of Christian angels, saints, and demons, but I always feel irritated when these things show up in what should otherwise be heathen material. Though, to be fair, the level to which the angels, saints, and demons of the Christian religion are called in are nowhere near as high as from the book Trolldom. THAT book, though quite a lot longer and more detailed, includes so much Christian BS that I found the whole thing to be unusable. At least this one can be salvaged and those things removed or replaced by pagan deities and spirits instead. I'm not impressed, but I guess I'm not sorry I've got this book, either. Surely it'll be useful. I have a feeling it will be somehow. But it really, really needed more detail at the spell casting parts.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Excellent. I want more like this!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Papenfus

    This book was interesting from a historical perspective, but I’m not sure how useful much of it, particularly the later parts of it, will be from a practical perspective. Although I appreciate the minimalism involved and the encouragement to develop one’s own staves after becoming familiar with how they work, several of the spells didn’t sit well with me, and one was particularly appalling. It was for a man to gain the love of a woman while basically cursing her should she not comply. To his cre This book was interesting from a historical perspective, but I’m not sure how useful much of it, particularly the later parts of it, will be from a practical perspective. Although I appreciate the minimalism involved and the encouragement to develop one’s own staves after becoming familiar with how they work, several of the spells didn’t sit well with me, and one was particularly appalling. It was for a man to gain the love of a woman while basically cursing her should she not comply. To his credit, the author/translator of this part of the text is merely describing what has already been described in the original text, but were it me I’d personally have written some kind of word of caution about considering if this is really what one wants to do when other spells, such as one designed to call attention to one’s attributes, might be better.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marci

    For unknown reasons, Flowers (writing under his real name) didn't bother to provide any citations throughout the text of this book, so it's basically impossible to tell what he got from any source at all and what he made up. Well, except for the parts where he gives instructions that are clearly based on modern magickal theory rather than on historic magical practice: ooooooh candles make it maaaaagical! (As opposed to historically "candles sure beat working in the dark".) It's not utter trash, b For unknown reasons, Flowers (writing under his real name) didn't bother to provide any citations throughout the text of this book, so it's basically impossible to tell what he got from any source at all and what he made up. Well, except for the parts where he gives instructions that are clearly based on modern magickal theory rather than on historic magical practice: ooooooh candles make it maaaaagical! (As opposed to historically "candles sure beat working in the dark".) It's not utter trash, but it sure tries.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Greer

    Great book for a beginner like me who knows nothing about the history or the background of runes or staves. Love reading about the history of Scandinavian magic, it included some of the legends of the users of this magic and the introduction of Christianity. The last few chapters gave details on the use and making staves and the design and description of know staves. So yes it does have little drawings and you can see exactly what they look like.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Raluca

    I was only interested in the historical part of this book which did provide me with interesting though brief new facts about the Germanic pagan gods and rituals, as well as the history of paganism in Iceland.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Novah

    It contained the information for which I was searching.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paola Giometti

    It is a good book to start learning about the historical perspective and start with staves and magic signatures.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Luce Cannon

    A fascinating journey into the unique and continuous history of Icelandic magic, and a great introduction to practical norse magic based on surviving galdrabóks (magic books).

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I'm not sure what I was expecting. But I have too much logic for the nuttiness of this book. I'm not sure what I was expecting. But I have too much logic for the nuttiness of this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Caldwell

    An excellent book by a master of the Nordic magical tradition. Easy to read and practical in its application an explanation. Ideal for a beginner or seasonal practitioner.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Leah Hortin

    I don't think I'm the target audience. This book just magically appeared on my doorstep one day. 😂 I don't think I'm the target audience. This book just magically appeared on my doorstep one day. 😂

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    I cannot believe I wasted my time reading this garbage. It is unbelievable that Stephen E. Flowers is the same person as Edred Thorson. The tone is different, the writing is the different, everything is different. Maybe it's true what people say he's getting crazier as he ages. I was looking more into galduring and seidr not younger futhark with Christianity and demons. The beginning of the book was interesting. Flowers talks about the religious history of Iceland. That was informative. Then he I cannot believe I wasted my time reading this garbage. It is unbelievable that Stephen E. Flowers is the same person as Edred Thorson. The tone is different, the writing is the different, everything is different. Maybe it's true what people say he's getting crazier as he ages. I was looking more into galduring and seidr not younger futhark with Christianity and demons. The beginning of the book was interesting. Flowers talks about the religious history of Iceland. That was informative. Then he starts talking about priests that were trying to channel demons. Wtf? I didn't know this was Constantine?! And how demons live in Valhalla with the Aesir and the Vanir. Even though, no they don't. Every deity has their own realm and function. And what is up with the demons? And if the Norse had demons they would live in Jotunheim or the Ironwood or in Helheim with the Jotuns because they're more understanding of chaos and extra limbs. I wasn't expecting facts being that this is just all theory, but come on man you wrote all these incredible books that have influenced so many Astrau/Rokkatru/Heathen/Norse Pagans and then you can't even get the realms or basic info from the Edda right?! What the Hel?! And even worse is that the back of the book is all symbols and incantations in Latin and Icelandic. Flowers doesn't even tell you how to pronounce any of it properly. Am I supposed to just trust that everything is translated right? It's a freaking joke. What if some idiot opens a portal and summons the Old Ones or the Shrike? Good-bye universe! Now taking bets on who will be sacrificed. But what is even more absurd is the love spells included in this book. To force a women to fall in love with you, you will need: a ditch, cum, rejection, and a hurting ego. After you creepily wrote her name in the ground and screamed about how you always get friendzoned you will draw the doodles..I mean symbols into the ground and wank on it. And if by any reason you still get rejected because you're a winner, your crush will perish from the following: longing, cold feet, hair falling out and eternal damnation. You know because threatening a woman must mean true love. I'm sure to some poor soul this book would be worth it, but as for me I have better things to do with my time.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Elson

    This review originally appeared on The Magical Buffet website on 4/24/2016. Not too long ago I finished reading “Icelandic Magic: Practical Secrets of the Northern Grimoires” by Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D. and it was a truly fascinating work, a wonderful blend of scholarly and practical. (For those of you who consider working magic practical.) “Icelandic Magic” is divided into two books. The first part is history and basics of Icelandic magic and the second part is referred to as “Gray-Skin”, which This review originally appeared on The Magical Buffet website on 4/24/2016. Not too long ago I finished reading “Icelandic Magic: Practical Secrets of the Northern Grimoires” by Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D. and it was a truly fascinating work, a wonderful blend of scholarly and practical. (For those of you who consider working magic practical.) “Icelandic Magic” is divided into two books. The first part is history and basics of Icelandic magic and the second part is referred to as “Gray-Skin”, which is a reference to a famous magical book of semi-legend and in this case a book of magic in traditional Icelandic form. The history of magic in Iceland is interesting as their magical and religious interactions with the influx of Christianity were more intermingling than in other regions. It makes their magical practice come across as a pragmatic, get the job done, kind of school. The first section also discusses lore and legends of Iceland’s magicians, which I loved! I adore reading about magic users and this was hands down my favorite part of the book for me. Before you get into the nitty gritty of the second half of the book, Flowers gives you a rundown of equipment you’ll probably want or need and the basic ritual format. Then, if you’re ready, willing, and able you can venture forth with workings. These cover the categories: Wisdom, Power, Protection, Control, Prosperity, Love, Reception of Luck and Release of Blessings, and Sleep Magic. The groundwork laid down leading up to this point makes the workings easy to understand if not simple to master. You’ll also find useful appendices that include runes and magical letters, the names of Odin (hint, there are many), and the “Our Father” prayer in Latin. “Icelandic Magic” is great for those interesting in learning about magical theories, history, and/or practice!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Äsruþr Cyneaþsson

    Flowers has produced an update to his rare and seminal work 'the Galdrabok' which incorporates a more structured approach to understanding the work of a variety of Icelandic grimoire's. If you collect 'black' books or have interests in medieval magic or runic magic- then there is much of value to be found in this work. Flowers has produced an update to his rare and seminal work 'the Galdrabok' which incorporates a more structured approach to understanding the work of a variety of Icelandic grimoire's. If you collect 'black' books or have interests in medieval magic or runic magic- then there is much of value to be found in this work.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lorena Díaz

    Interesante. Aprendes historia religiosa y social de las culturas nórdicas, así como el paso a paso para trabajar con runas. Es muy valioso para profundizar y conocer el contexto sociocultural que rodea a las runas y sus usos.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Viviana

    Stunning sigils. Im hoping all of it it ends up very inspiring. Might be motivated to finish my viking book or maybe poetic or prose edda after reading this..even though they are a bit boring..hehh.. :P

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kenneath

    i want to read this book

  20. 4 out of 5

    Steph Cordery

    Interesting once you get through the first chapter.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sophie Jane

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Gifford

  23. 5 out of 5

    Beth Tranter

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jon Steffens

  25. 5 out of 5

    Emilia

  26. 4 out of 5

    S

  27. 4 out of 5

    Charles

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ren Engstrom

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lysa

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ellis Logan

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