On the Shelf Review – Two Icelandic Books of Magic

Tvær galdraskræður: Two Books of Icelandic Magic was published by the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft back in 2008.  I believe I saw it at the time, but I opted out of getting it because it would be too much trouble.  As a grimoire collector, I should have known better.  Fortunately, the people at Arktis Versand had one copy in stock and were willing to make special arrangements to ship it here.

Two Books is a dual-language text (Icelandic and English) which provides the text and illustrations of two early nineteenth century manuscripts from the National and University Library of Iceland in Reykjavík.  The presentation is rather bare bones, consisting of a brief introduction on the printing of Icelandic books of magic and the text.  On the other hand, we also get detailed reproductions of all of the runic devices to be drawn or carved into various substances, a pleasant addition to the canon of printed magical illustrations. If the spells reflect the owner’s lives, we can see they spent a great deal of time  hunting, fishing, looking for women, and dealing with hostile neighbors and lawsuits.

The scarcity of this book makes me hesitate to recommend it.  If you’re interested in the topic of Icelandic or runic magic, you should probably get the second edition of the Galdrabok from Runa Raven instead.  Nonetheless, this is a good one to remember and seek if you get the opportunity.

Published in: on September 8, 2012 at 9:30 am  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You’d probably better hurry, in fact, for the Rûna-Raven edition of Galdrabók (or other publications from them), as that publisher is going out of business within a couple of weeks.

  2. Hi Dan

    I have ordered Tvær galdraskræður back in 2010 and it arrived in Switzerland after 10 days. I remember it well because it was a few days before the icelandic volcano with the unpronounceable name paralysed the european air traffic.I was pleasantly surprised by the fast delivery.

    For everyone who is interested in scandinavian grimoires I would like to recommend that link:

    http://www.hf.uio.no/ikos/tjenester/kunnskap/samlinger/norsk-folkeminnesamling/trolldom-i-norge/svarteboeker/det-digitale-arkivet/

    There are ten digitised manuscripts and one printed grimoire. No English translation though but worth a look.

    You can even find a Cyprian: “Siprianus Kunste Bog skreven paa Wittenbergshe Accademie Anno 1345 (NFS Moltke Moe 106 I. Svartebok fra Jeløen)”. (Cyprians Book of Art written at Wittenbergian Accademy Anno 1345)

    Best

    Ralf

  3. […] of you might recall that I reviewed Two Icelandic Books of Magic, an out-of-print release of two nineteenth-century Icelandic grimoires […]

  4. […] for Icelandic grimoires.  For those more interested in textual charms, I might steer you toward Two Icelandic Books of Magic (review), which is available from them at the same price, with Rún of greater interest to those interested […]

  5. […] seen a revival of interest in Icelandic magical practices.  I’ve already examined two books that came to us via the Museum of Icelandic Witchcraft and Sorcery.  Now we have a new […]


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