Many people are familiar with these magical signs but they may not be knowledgeable about their history or how to use these signs with confidence. BWC shares with you some basic information on this magical system, so to inspire you to research further, and find a suitable magical sign for your current magical desire.

Icelandic magic appears to have been the folk magic of the underclass, of poor crofters, servants and field-hands. The aims of the workings in the grimoires are overwhelmingly prosaic, dealing mainly with mundane concerns of day-to-day survival and prosperity. There are spells for healing humans and livestock, for exposing thieves, for love and seduction, for getting a good harvest of hay or a good catch of fish, for luck and popularity; in short, the eternal and ubiquitous preoccupations of thaumaturgy. Even the spells intended to harm by magic or to protect against such harm can be counted as ‘mundane’ in a world where no clear distinction was drawn between the ‘natural’ and the ‘supernatural’.

The spells could be used by any who had access to them. There was, with some few exceptions, no evocation of demons or even of angels to carry out the errand of the magician, except where – occasionally – the Devil, Satan or Beelzebub are called upon. Nor was there any need to cast a protective circle, for the magician does not appear to have felt threatened by the forces that he evoked.

What really counted in magic was his own will, on occasions brought into alignment with the forces of the cosmos by virtue of timing, location and direction of movement, but mainly augmented and transmitted by combination with a magical stave and a well-crafted piece of incantation.

Icelandic magic relied heavily on the carving of staves, and most of the tools relate to this practice.

The tools used for magic in early modern Iceland were usually simple in the extreme. Very rarely was anything required that might require elaborate preparation – there is no mention of special clothing, of casting of circles, or of wands, swords or pentacles. In most cases, in fact, nothing is required that could not readily be found among the everyday equipment and belongings of the average farmer.

Magical signs were often carved with the sorcerer’s own eating-knife or scratched with an ordinary awl, but some operations might specify that they should be carved with something more specialized such as an awl of lead or silver or a copper knife. Such tools would have had no place in an ordinary household. Human bone was sometimes used for carving in spells of malign intent.

What do the magical staves symbolize?

Writers on this topic have not agreed on an answer as yet. Working from the a priori assumption that the Icelandic magical staves must be complex binds, derived from the Futhark runes and built up in a process similar to the ‘sigilization’ developed by modern Chaos magicians, they then twist and bend the facts to suit the theory. The results, predictably, are unconvincing. You will need to decide for yourself, or just accept these as are and perform the simple ritual for yourself.

Is timing important?

The Icelandic magician would try to align the timing of his operations with the motions of the sun, the moon and the tides, with certain days of the week and with certain feast-days. Very few of the spell suggest the importance of timing, and if one does then you would consider that as important and apply it to your specific Ritual.


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