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Two Icelandic Books of Magic
Two Icelandic Books of Magic

Two Icelandic Books of Magic

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Grimoires and magical staves are interesting and exciting. The magic in them are remnants of forbidden knowledge and the common man believed in its use for various purpose. Manuscripts and single staves feature prominently in Icelandic witchcraft cases and those who handled them were wipped or burned. The two manuscripts printed here were written around 1800, only 100 years after prosecutions for witchcraft ceased in Iceland.

The first manuscript in the book, Lbs 2413 8vo, was written ca. 1800 and is the largest collection of magical staves in a single manuscript even when compared to those collected by amateur scholars almost a century later. Many of the magical acts described are the same as those mentioned in court records and similar ones can be found in the 17th century grimoires.

The manuscript itself measures 10 x 8 cm with 74 leaves and nothing is known of its history or how the library acquired it. Apparently a systematic collection was intended, beginning with various acts to prevent theft or find who has stolen, then a collection of love magic, but after that there seems to be no specific order to the staves. After a number of protective staves or sigils there follow a number of invocations against ghosts and evil spirits.

The second manuscript in the book, Lbs 764 8vo, was written ca. 1820 and is very different. It is 14 x 8,5 cm, only 14 leaves and wrapped in an old leather wallet. The manuscript was bought in 1903 but no information about its history has been found. The first half appears to be of European origin and this part consists of protective signs and texts in Latin and with little connection to Icelandic court cases unless such signs or texts are the kind of blasphemy sometimes associated with staves or sigils.

The book is both in English and Icelandic. The Icelandic text is printed with modern spelling on the right hand page and in English on the left page.

ISBN: 978-9979-9584-5-1
Written by: Magnús Rafnsson
Puplished by: Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft