REVIEW: Icelandic Magic: Aims, tools and techniques of the Icelandic sorcerers (2016)

A Book by Christopher Alan Smith

Reading this book was the result of another dive into my Kindle Unlimited library looking for books on heathenry. I initially wasn’t sure about this book due to past experiences with similar titles. When looking for books on Galdrastafir (Icelandic rune magic), usually one comes into contact with hordes and heaps of information on homemade, modern sigils that folks have created that, and I’m making an assumption here, have been created with little to no knowledge on how and why these exist and as to what the actual purpose for many were. There’s also a tendency to try to tie them into the Viking age, when these are more-or-less tied directly to 17th century Christianity in Iceland.

There’s largely nothing wrong with this, as modern heathenry is a re-constructionist religion for the most part, and we’re not sure exactly what was going on with these sigils, but I try to avoid heathen books with a lot of historical mis-information and new-age sensibilities in them if I can.

Image result for Galdrastafir
An example of a number of known Galdrastafir

What I enjoyed the most about Icelandic Magic: Aims, tools and techniques of the Icelandic sorcerers is that Mr. Smith has treated this book as a companion of sorts that one would use in conjunction with or as a forward to a reading of one of the various Icelandic Grimoires one can find a translation of. Chapters are split up in groups that explain and give examples of common motifs, such as sigils to cause harm, or sigils to cause wealth etc. with annotations on where these numerous spells can be found and what they entail.

This is interesting because we have some books that are wildly different than others on some of the most common spells. An example being that there is no monolithic consensus on what the popular Ægishjálmr (The helm of awe) is, what it does, or what it even looks like. Some books have duplicate entries, and others have ridiculous spells that very few would even be able to afford, much less attempt (For example). This shows that many sorcerers likely traded spells with others.

One thing I think many newbie heathens can take away from this book is answering what Galdrastafir actually are, and setting straight the notion that vikings used these and that they are part of a historical pagan religion in any way. Yes, some of them do invoke the Norse pantheon, but these a few and far between, and they are usually sprinkled in with mentions of Jesus and various saints of Christendom. I will admit, I have a bunch of everyday merch emblazoned with runes mixed with vegvísirs and such, but I wear it knowing perfectly well that it’s a historical anachronism is just about every way.

Vegvisir Viking symbol permanent vinyl decal/ Available in various colors and sizes

Perhaps on downside to the structure of the book is that in being a “companion book” there isn’t a lot of information on the various grimoires themselves, granted we largely don’t who anything about who wrote them and why due to witch hunts, but perhaps a bit more on the big ones would have been cool. I do plan to read the Galdrabók pretty soon, so this did it’s job about making me interested in reading more.

All-in all VERY solid book that I will highly recommend. While not the most fully-fleshed out book on Galdrastafir, its a great companion and list of other books to possibly look into for further research.

If you would like a copy of this book for yourself, click the following LINK

Heathen party Ideas: Eating Like Our Ancestors

Haakon_Gunnhild_-_C._Krohg.jpg

A new series that I would like to occasionally do on here is something practical that anyone can hopefully take ideas from for their various parties that they may be having. These are some ideas that I have used for various Blóts and feasts that people have seemed to enjoy. I am by no means a well-experienced heathen, but I have planned a few events that seemed to have done fairly well (or maybe people complained in ssecret! lol). I noticed that looking online for “pagan party ideas” and such usually comes up with little to no results, or simply lists of rituals that veer more heavily over towards Wiccan festivals. Maybe I can help!

This summer, the kindred that I was previously a member of had a Blót for the Midsommar holiday in honor of the Goddess Freija; and being the more ambitious hosts, my girlfriend and I decided to take on an purportedly ancient recipe that was allegedly something similar to one that the vikings may have eaten. I had to substitute some items, and may have not cooked it properly due to the instructions being VEEERY vague, but everyone simply LOVED it. people were requesting “take home” containers after we got done, so it really made me feel good, especially after I warned everyone that we may be eating gross food and that Pizza would be the back-up if that happened.


Note: Like a moron, I did not take any pictures of this meal, if I make this again, I will attempt to chronicle this better. Here is a royalty-free stock photo that you can pretend was me:

Photo by Timur Saglambilek on Pexels.com pretend this is me making this soup lol

Recipe: the chieftain’s soup

Modified (in italics and bold) from a recipe found on Ribe Viking Center

  • Shoulder of lamb, diced
  • Smoked pork, diced
  • 5 chopped onions
  • 5 chopped garlic cloves
  • Diced parsnips
  • Diced parsley roots
  • Mushrooms
  • added carrots and a turnip
  • Horsebeans (AKA Fava Beans)
  • Chopped Angelica stems (I used Tarragon)
  • Spring onions
  • Salt
  • Water
  • 2 cups cream

Dice the smoked pork and brown it in the cooking pot over the fire. Add the diced lamb, chopped onions and garlic. Next, add the water, parsnips and parsley roots.

Mix in the horsebeans, mushrooms and Angelica stems. Leave to simmer over low heat. Stir frequently and add more water if necessary. When the meat is tender, it’s time to season with salt and cream. Sprinkle with chopped spring onions and serve with bread.


So that was the old-school recipe – I mentioned above that I substituted angelica stems as I was unable to acquire any due to the legality of them in the United States. While, I have never tasted them, a number of websites suggested that tarragon would be a fitting replacement, which definitely put an interesting twist on the stew – it has notes of both licorice and vanilla that gave everything a nice counter to the sometimes gamey nature of lamb meat.

In addition to the parsnips and parsley root, which were insanely hard to get ahold of in my local grocery store, I added some heirloom carrots (the kind that come in 3 colors and look more hipster-y than regular carrots) and a turnip, since I figured this would end up similar to potato soup going by the ingredient list. I would assume that one could even use potatoes to make this more hardy.

Lamb was also sort of hard to get, but can be found rather easily in bigger cities that have halaal grocery stores. Since lamb can be somewhat prohibitively expensive, using pork ONLY honestly would not change the flavor too much. I boiled the soup on a lower heat for a few hours and everything turned out well.

If recreating ancient food is something you think might “spice up” your next party, there are a multitude of books on historical Scandinavian cuisine out there as well as online recipes such as this one – Grimfrost, for instance, has one called An Early Meal that is very well regarded. People love this sort of thing, and as long as you aren’t serving something completely adverse to our modern palate, everyone should be pretty excited for the adventure of a new food, and the educational value of learning about the past.

If you try this out or have any questions, feel free to drop me a line in the comments!

REVIEW: Heilung: Futha (2019)

Usually, when people discuss ways that they were brought into paganism, one usually hears stories about being wronged by another group or an experience that brought them in line with the old ways – for me, the path was slightly different. Ever since high school, I have been obsessed with medieval style folk music and folk metal – to such a degree that I sometimes feel as if I’m having a church experience at concerts from time to time. You know, that blissful euphoric feeling that usually is seen as “being endowed with the Holy Spirit” when discussing Christianity? That’s me if I hear bagpipes and see some dudes wearing tunics on stage. For somebody raised Catholic, then being vaguely Gnostic for a number of years as a reaction to becoming anti-Catholic, I realized that my soul was being drawn to the ways of my ancestors through music – and thankfully, in 2019 I have never felt so full as this is a banner year for Pagan folk bands!

There is no other musician or groups of musicians in 2019 that have imparted this feeling on me more than an experimental folk project called Heilung or “healing” in German. I once stumbled on a live performance of theirs that took place at a festival called Castlefest in 2017, the concert itself is both a work of art, and a classic performance that ranks, with me personally, as something as profound as Queen at Live Aid. The Live album itself is also very impressive as a result.

It would seem that others agree, as many of their Youtube videos have garnered millions of views, and they have been played on Sirius XM Liquid Metal, a channel that, as the name would imply, plays metal music. While there is some overlap between the listeners, Heilung have absolutely ZERO metal to their sound (minus throat singing perhaps), so it’s a testament to their unique nature that they are jumping into territory most folk bands never tread.

If not familiar with these guys, Heilung is comprised of members from various countries like Denmark, Norway and Germany, and describe their music as “amplified history from early medieval northern Europe”. Their music is based on texts and artifacts of the Iron Age and the early Viking Age specifically. In the broadest sense, their general “gimmick” for lack of a better term, is that they are shamans using their music, and stage show as rituals to give zeal to warriors or channel spirits depending on the song. The band uses animal skin drums, osteomancy (human and animal bones) and various rattles, whistles, and other implements, some antiques themselves. 

“With the epic new album Futha, the enigmatic HEILUNG return with their signature Amplified History. A counterbalance to their rugged debut Ofnir, Futha reveals a more melodic and beautiful side of the mysterious ensemble. Their primeval musique concrete blends ancient Germanic tongues, lush geophonic recordings (crackling fires, breaking ice), and the percussive thunder of archaic weaponry (swords, shields, arrows) into a reverential ceremonial experience. HEILUNG are in a class all their own, and Futha is an entrancing masterstroke of profound worldly music.”

Heilung’s Bandcamp

In 2019, the band has released their second studio album, called Futha  – These are follow-ups to Ofnir (2015) (self-released, reissued 2018 on Season of Mist) and Lifa (2017) (Season of Mist) the previously mentioned livee album. On the meaning of the album title, HEILUNG explains:



“The majority of full rune set inscriptions start with ‘Futha,’ and is known to us as the first four letters in all runic alphabets. It is considered that our forefathers saw magic potential in engraving the full rune line, but there is also great significance in the beginnings. Science has no key for the meaning of only engraving the first couple of letters yet, but there is, of course, a surplus of theories. One of the theories we found inspiration in, is that ‘Futha’ holds the meaning of fertility and female gender. As ‘Ofnir’ focused on war and masculine notions, the great healing power of female wild strength is evoked in Futha. Those who have been present at a birth or have seen lionesses hunting know the spirit, and we welcome and embrace it in the sounds that were born during the creation of ‘Futha.’”

via Overdrive Mag

1. Galgaldr 10:21    

2. Norupo 04:17      

3. Othan 10:18         

4. Traust 09:48        

5. Vapnatak 04:02   

6. Svanrand 03:36  

7. Elivagar 08:44     

8. Elddansurin 08:05          

9. Hamrer Hippyer 14:16

Much like with Ofnir, the music from Futha is still folk music, but is almost in more of a post-industrial, neo-folk style – meaning that there is a lot of use of electronic instruments and synthesizers rather than the myriad of bones and other instruments a large touring band can provide as heard on Lifa. This might be a turn of for some, as I was made well aware that many in my friends circle thought that Lifa was, in fact, their first album and had no idea that the sound on it was slightly different than the studio album. 

Stand-out tracks are Norupo and Traust which are coincidentally the two singles that have been released as of today. I also enjoyed some of the small interludes quite a bit that pepper the release, usually some type of chanting and and growling that could definitely be envisioned to be coming from a seers tent thousands of years ago. These choices are not to say that the rest of the album is bad, perhaps its 100% the opposite. It’s just that this is more of an “album album” better experienced as a whole rather than in chunks. Those two tracks are just the two that can more easily be tossed onto an iPod and called up at will.

I would say that I like Futha Better than Ofnir as a whole, but absolutely cannot wait for a presumptive live album to come from these tracks. They haven’t announced anything, but I hope they repeat the trend from the last cycle. I also hope that their announced US tour comes somewhere near me, as I would absolutely go insane given the chance to see them in person.

In closing, definitely check this album out if you like Heilung, and do yourself a favor and look at their YouTube page for some live renditions of the songs, you will NOT be disappointed.