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.
What follows is the Gray-Skin proper. The first part of this book was an introduction to the history, theory, and practical principles of Icelandic galdor-stave magic. The second part is a unique book of magic in the traditional Icelandic form.
By its very nature, Icelandic-style galdor-sign magic is very pragmatic and outwardly simple. Inwardly it is more complex and difficult. It does not require the memorization of long texts, the acquisition of many rare ingredients, or expensive magical tools or weapons. But at its highest level there is a requirement for precise and powerful inner skill and execution. This requirement is also necessary for all forms of magic, yet this fact is often obscured by high magic’s outer complexities. For the sign magic to work best, it is also optimal if the signs are drawn from memory rather than copying them from other books.
The practices below show the working-specific data to be employed for certain definite aims. Occasionally the instructions call for actions to be performed “in the field” and not in your ritual space. These workings are for the most part historical or traditional examples of galdorstave magic. They are intended as training for more original work once the grammar of the system is mastered.
Each of the workings has been referenced to the original Icelandic manuscript or the published work from which it came. The workings have been grouped according to theme and type. The higher and more spiritual kinds of workings come first, followed by more basic motivations. The pragmatic world of Icelandic galdor-stave magic takes all aspects of human life into account. The needs of humanity are many and the gods of Heaven, Hell, and Valhalla are all brought to bear.
These workings lead the practitioner to insight, greater knowledge, discovery of the unknown, and generally open the soul to the workings of wisdom.
1 To Awaken Yourself to a Sense of Mystery and Wonder Draw this sign with white or silver ink on black paper at midnight on the Spring Equinox. Hide the sign in a wooden box. This spell works over a lifetime.
2 For Insight into Things beyond the Earthly Realm Write this stave with red ink on white paper. Put it in a wooden box or carry it with you in your left breast pocket and insight into heavenly things will come to you.
3 To Link Yourself with the Power and Knowledge of Your Soul To bind yourself fast to the power of your own soul, draw these staves on parchment and keep them with you always.
4 To Know the Unknown To be able to understand and analyze hidden things and patterns of manifestation, draw this stave and keep it in your room in a secret location.
Many magical formulas show the way to gain power of some sort. This can come in many forms, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly.
1 Winning Struggles of All Kinds (Jón Árnason, I, p. 438) To win any and all internal struggles with your own nature, or in conflicts with others, draw and place Gapaldur under the heel of your right foot and Ginfaxi under the toe of your left foot and say:
Gapaldur undir hæli, Gapaldur under my heel, Ginfaxi undir tá, Ginfaxi under my toe, stattu hjá mér, fjandi, stand by me, my fiend, því nú liggur mér á! for now I’ve got to get going!
2 Victory (Jón Árnason, I, p. 438) Draw this helm of awe on a disk of lead and press it to your forehead between your eyebrows and say:
Ægishjálm er ég ber I bear the helm of awe milli brúna mér! between my brows! 3 To Win a Debate (Lbs 2413 8vo 69) Write this stave with your saliva while you are fasting and put it under your left arm if you don’t want anyone to get the better of you in a debate or argument.
4 Herzlustafir (strengthening staves): (Daviðsson XXXIV) Make this this double-sided stave and wear it on the left side of your chest to strengthen your courage and resolve.
People need protection from all sorts of dangers, some come from the environment and some come from the malice of others. Galdor-stave magic addresses all these concerns.
1 Return to Sender (Daviðsson XXXVII) Have this sign on leather on the front of your chest if you want to send back any harmful sending to the one who sent it to you. 2 Protection from Embarrassment (Daviðsson XXXVIII) So that you will remain free of any shame or embarrassment, no matter what or whom you encounter. Using spittle make this sign on your forehead with the ring finger of your right hand.
Stephen Flowers studied Germanic and Celtic philology and religious history at the University of Texas at Austin and in Goettingen, West Germany. He received his Ph.D. in 1984 in Germanic Languages and Medieval Studies with a dissertation entitled Runes and Magic.
“Through a thorough survey of the history and theory of Icelandic magic, Flowers is able to present a system that can be worked by modern-day magicians. Wellsourced and practical, this book will appeal both to those interested in historical matters and those seeking a guide to practice in the modern day. This book is sure to become a classic and is an example for everyone who wishes to adapt ancient ways for the modern age.”
– Ceisiwr Serith, author of A Book of Pagan Prayer and Deep Ancestors: Practicing the Religion of the
“In many ways Icelandic Magic is as awe-inspiring and mysterious as the Icelandic landscape itself. Full of fascinating accounts of Iceland’s magical history and grimoires, this book offers pragmatic instructions to resurrect this magic and tap into its power, yet there is a creative aspect that will inherently force the practitioner to union with their own inner sage. Flowers guides us safely through the ancient secrets of Icelandic magic into our own ‘circuit boards of consciousness,’ which we learn may be rewired through systematically formed staves aligned with our will.”
– Sera Timms, musician, visual artist, priestess, and lead vocalist of Black Mare
“Icelandic Magic is a modern classic of Northern sorcery. Stephen Flowers’s galdor-stave system exposes the frosty roots of sigil-working, revealing a magic available to anyone possessing pen, paper, and a hunger for transformation.”
– Clint Marsh, author of The Mentalist’s Handbook
“Stephen Flowers offers readers a comprehensive and erudite guide to the runes, staves, and other elements of Icelandic magic. This book opens the secret lore of Icelandic magicians for today’s readers.”
– Dan Harms, librarian at SUNY Cortland Memorial Library, editor of The Long-Lost Friend: A 19th Centu
“In his latest work, Stephen E. Flowers pours forth his inspiration again. On the basis of sound, academic research, he provides a good basis for the praxis of Icelandic magic. The most important aspect of his teaching is that he defines the attitude and preparation necessary to become a sorcerer in the old tradition. A book by a magician, for magicians.”
– Christopher Alan Smith, author of Icelandic Magic: Aims, Tools and Techniques of the Icelandic Sorce
“Icelandic Magic is an exciting new expansion that goes far beyond Flowers’s previous Galdrabók. Much more than a presentation of historical grimoire material, Flowers goes on to identify the key components of the techniques and show readers how to construct their own workings in a traditional manner. Icelandic Magic explores both the inner and outer nature of galdor, and of magic in general, to give the reader the tools for gaining knowledge, wisdom, and self-transformation.”
– Alice Karlsdóttir, author of Norse Goddess Magic
“Icelandic Magic is the latest title by an author who has been an important voice in the Asatru and wider pagan community for decades. Stephen Flowers, also known as Edred Thorsson, is a legitimate scholar earning his Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Medieval Studies . . . While this book will appeal to people interested in the magical arts, I would also recommend it to people who are interested in Icelandic culture, more broadly in indigenous Germanic belief, and to those interested in human anthropology and world religions.”
– Mythology Magazine, Carolyn Emerick, February 2016
"Those unfamiliar with Flowers’ work will be glad to know he has a wonderfully breathable writing style, easily drawing one into the meat of the text without bogging them down with unnecessary digressions or superfluous language. Don’t let the slenderness of this volume deter you. Like in most of his works, Flowers packs each page with scholarly tidbits, simultaneously teaching both history and occultism with clarity and ease. A must-have for any fan of Norse spiritual traditions, occult history or sigil magic."