• Lbs_143_8vo,_0013v

Book of Witchcraft

This book of witchcraft is from around 1670, a total of 27 pages all written in the same hand. It is one of very few manuscripts of witchcraft extant from the witch age (17 th century) but most of them were destroyed in fire. Extant Icelandic witchcraft manuscripts in vellum can be counted on the fingers of one hand and this is also one of the youngest vellum manuscripts extant. It is mostly written in Icelandic but includes texts in Latin, Greek and even Hebrew.


The book details various defence measures against evil, both natural and supernatural. The manuscript includes various magical symbols that had to be drawn up in a particular way to fend off various spirits as well as exorcisms and prayers to help with all kinds of problems, himnabréf (heavenly letters) that people believed had fallen from heaven and would help them protect themselves from various evils as well as blóðstemmna (bloodstoppers), special stanzas that would prevent loss of blood and were frequently used in the old days.


The best known of the magical symbols is without out a doubt the Ægishjálmur (Helm of awe) but this manuscript has what is likely the oldest extant image of this magical symbol. The book however describes no runic magic since it only handles with white magic but the runes were usually considered to have derived from the devil and therefore only used in black magic.


Lbs 143 8vo

National and University Library of Iceland