Understanding The Galdrabok

The Galdrabok is a collection of Icelandic grimores, or magical texts, dating from the 16th to 17th centuries. The Galdrabok presents modern-day rune magicians with a wide variety of magical designs. Among them are several versions of the famous AEgishjalmur, or «Helm of Awe.» As a whole, the Galdrabok utilizes traditional Northern symbology combined with a western European influence (which reflects the joint effect of Old Norse and Christian-Era culture upon the history and traditions of Iceland).

But the Galdrabok's designs go well beyond those of the traditional bind-rune formulAE we are generally familiar with. Even a passing glance at the spells of the Galdrabok will impress anyone familiar with rune-magic of their high degree of sophistication and the potential power designs like them could have in magical operations.

The Galdrabok (Icelandic Book of Magic) is an Icelandic grimoire dated to ca. 1600. It is a small manuscript containing a collection of 47 spells. The grimoire was compiled by four different people, possibly starting in the late 16th century and going on until the mid-17th century. The first three scribes were Icelanders and the fourth was a Dane working from Icelandic material. The various spells consist of Latin and runic material as well as Icelandic magical staves, invocations to Christian entities, demons and the Norse gods as well as instructions for the use of herbs and magical items. Some of the spells are protective, intended against such problems as trouble with childbearing, headache and insomnia, previous incantations, pestilence, suffering and distress at sea. Others are intended to cause fear, kill animals, find thieves, put someone to sleep, cause farting or bewitch women.

The book was first published in 1921 by Natan Lindqvist in a diplomatic edition and with a Swedish translation. An English translation was published in 1989 by Stephen Flowers and a facsimile edition with detailed commentary by Matthias Vidar Samundsson in 1992.

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