Matthew Leigh Embleton

Musician, Composer, Producer, Language and History Enthusiast, and Author

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Galdrastafir: A Collection of Icelandic Magical Staves

The Galdrastafir that survive in various manuscripts from the Late Middle Ages until the 20th Century give us a glimpse of a rich tradition of magic in the Norse world. From the formulation of runes into bindrunes and ever more complex magical symbols, to the incorporation of references to biblical seals and elements of the Christian faith, the relationship between traditional magic and religious symbolism is a complex and varied one. From the positive invocations of good luck, success, wealth, etc. to the protection of one's person or property from theft or magic, to darker and more morally complex intentions, these symbols are shown here to provide a broad view of the people's concerns and how the practitioners of magic attempted to address these concerns in Iceland in the Late Medieval and Early Modern periods. The things our ancestors wished for, the concerns they sought solution to, the magic they believed in to make it happen, and the way the symbols and spells were formulated and practised, tell us about who we are, and where we have come from.

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