Galdrabok: The Legendary Book Of Black Magic

You must have once wished to perform a magic spell when you were a kid. All those magical movies like Harry Potter, Witches, and Hocus Pocus make us want to skip reality and be in this adventurous and magical world of spells. Many of you also wish to have a magic grimoire like those shown in movies to perform magic tricks.

Many magic grimoires in the world consist of many different forms of magic spells, black magic, and some dangerous magic secrets. The grimoires are written in ancient script and translated by translators into readable languages, one of which is the Galdrabok.

History of Icelandic Magic

Iceland was famous for witchcraft and black magic in 1500. Many people still believe in trolls and elves. Icelandic people have many interesting mythological stories and folktales related to the culture and history of the country. This country gave rise to many magic books or black magic schools. 

Galdrabók, or The Book Of Black Magic, is the only valid evidence for the medieval age of Icelandic black magic. In this book, the magicians themselves have written about their first-hand experience of the magic or spells they have performed. Many books have information about Germanic gods, cosmology, and magical practices but only Galdrabók has detailed information on these topics.

According to Galdrabók, the early period of Icelandic magic was divided into two types: Heathen (870-1000) and Catholic (1000-1500)

Heathen Period (870-1000)

The heathen period was classified into two types of magic, Galdur, and Seidh magic. The word ‘Galdur’ is derived from the verb gala, which means to crow or chant and is hence dominated by the incantational formula that is to be sung or spoken and perhaps is craved in rune. This practice seems to be more analytical, conscious, willed, and ego-oriented. Galdur would be assumed of a “magical persona” or alter ego for working the will. 

Whilst in Seidh, a trance state would be induced in which the ego would be of relatively less importance. Seidh also has a connection to vocal performance (singing or chanting), but it is also considered a shamanic practice. Ódhinn is known as the father of Galdur magic, and it is believed that he learned the arts of Seidh from the Vanic goddess Freyja

Another difference between Galdur and Seidh magic is that Seidh is more connected to the natural form of magic, like animals and vegetables and hence is difficult to perform. In contrast, Galdur magic was based on linguistic/symbolic ways of working, which means it consists more of drawings or spells. Many magicians performed Galdur magic secretly, which was considered a big mystery and was also known as Runic magic as the word rún in Icelandic signifies the idea of “secret” or “secret lore.”


The first witchcraft trial was in 1554; it shows that out of estimated 350 trials, only records of 125 survived. Out of these 125 accused persons, only 9 were women, which means men were more involved in black magic than women. It’s noteworthy cause we’ve heard that in witch trials everywhere, women were blamed, but in Iceland, it proved that men were more involved in the occult arts. 

Iceland has seen the most intensive witchcraft persecutions between the year 1625 to 1685. The laws in Iceland were made extremely harsh, and anyone guilty of crimes like murder, incest, adultery, theft, as well as witchcraft was punished. A person found with a rune stake or colored statue was arrested for witchcraft. 

Christian Period (1000-1500)

Another popular book was the Book Of Black Arts. It is believed that this book was owned by a very powerful magician, and not only did he master the book but also started to teach it, so many secret schools were built where students would learn and practice dark magic. Legends believe that in the Christian period Saemundur Sigfusson the Wise had learned this art from the Black School of Satan. 

Raudhskinni, which means red leather, was written by two evil magicians, Gotrskalk Niklasson, the Cruel Nicolsen, and the Bishop of Holar together. 

Raudhskinni is also known as the book of the blackest magic. Since this book was written on a red parchment with golden letters, it was known as ‘red leather.’ 

How to perform magic?

In Galdrabók, there are five steps to performing magic

1. Preparation 

In preparation, one needs all the required tools set and also should know the right way to use these tools.

2. Circle

It’s usually a circle with complex diagrams in which a magician is standing in the center, and outside the circle, there’s a triangle where the conjured spirits appear. This circle works as a protection for the magician from the spirit.

3. Conjuration of spirit

In this step, the spirit is called with the help of spells, and the magician can have a conversation with him.

4. Addressing the spirit

Here the spirit is addressed with the magician’s commands and is made to follow him, and if not, he is threatened by any spirit higher than him present in hell or heaven.

5. Licenses to depart

Once the reason for which the spirit was summoned is accomplished, the magicians perform or cast some special spells to send the spirits away from them and back to where they came from.

The Bottom Line

If we pay attention, these are mostly the basics of almost every black magic. However, it’s difficult to believe that these spell books exist as there is not much real-life evidence available. Though translated copies of some of these books, which are claimed to be by magicians, are still available, no one knows for sure if these spells mentioned really work or if they’re just written by some writers.

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