Book Review: Icelandic MAGIC: Practical Secrets of the Northern Grimoires
by Stephen E. Flowers
This fascinating book opens a window on some rare material!
During the Christianization of Europe in the Middle Ages, many books of magic (also known as grimoires) were lost as the ancient pagan traditions were suppressed and demonized (and this mood still colours our perception of magic today)..However, in Iceland the practice of recording magical spells in a book secretly continued for centuries. Even though those surviving books of magic represent only a tiny proportion of the material that used to exist, they still open a window on a magical tradition that never quite disappeared completely and has continued to evolve until the present time.
Most people interested in the Northern Tradition will know Stephen Flowers under his pen name Edred Thorsson – he of those books on rune magic! He wrote under this pseudonym until he no longer felt the need to guard his true identity. His knowledge of all things Norse and Nordic is vast. I believe that he actually taught himself Old Norse and Icelandic to be able to read the ancient texts. No mean achievement for an American (or indeed anyone of any nationality!)
He comes across as an incredibly driven (and incredibly prolific) man who has a large body of writings to his name. Personally speaking I am very impressed by the research and scholarship that has gone into this body of work because it opens a door for all of us on rare material. I also like the fact that his later books (of which this is one) admit that he did not only study the material, he actually put the spells and magical workings into practice. I prefer reading authors who have direct experience of the material they present. Otherwise everything can get very academic and theoretical, all “in the mind” and not necessarily married to the practical or everyday realm.
In Part One of this book Flowers provides a historical background and a history of magic in Iceland. He describes some legendary black books (grimoires). From there he goes on to discuss Norse gods and goddesses, runes and magical signs, legends about great magicians etc. He even describes how you yourself can perform some of these magical workings! Part Two provides the actual spells and sigils, allowing you to pick some that speak to you and try them. Perhaps a spell to increase prosperity, or luck and blessings or what about awakening yourself to a sense of mystery and wonder?!
We are living in a time where a lot of (so called) New Age thinking prevails: there is great emphasis on the power of positive thinking and instant manifestation and so forth. As a shamanic teacher and practitioner I know very well that it is a dangerous illusion to think that we can subscribe to a spiritual school of thought that does not address shadow, the underbelly of human functioning. where fears and threats and other dark things live. The refreshing thing about this material is that the darker side of things is not hidden from view!
As a teacher of Seidr and Norse shamanism this is a book I will keep returning to. It is so densely packed with information that it will always reveal more when you read it again.
Imelda Almqvist, 18 May 2017
About the author:
Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books on 26th August 2016. She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.
For her courses in Norse Shamanism (in both Europe and soon coming to the USA as well) please visit the following webpages
FORNSED IN SWEDEN
2 YEAR PRACTITIONER OF NORSE SHAMANISM PROGRAM
YEAR OF CEREMONY
Imelda will present on the Shamanism Global Summit with The Shift Network on July 25tth