Ancient Norman Mages

Specialists in the field of magic sometimes argue that the art of magic among the Normans goes back to the Hordalanders - the most ancient inhabitants of the sunken continent of Arctida, which in time immemorial was located somewhere in the Far North.

Sword vs. Specter

The ancient Scandinavians had very rich ideas about all kinds of spirits and magic. Their magic was based on intuition, a feeling beyond the control of reason. They became magicians only as a result of long mental work, coupled with suffering and even madness. Near the people, as it seemed to the Scandinavians, there were many otherworldly creatures, ideas about which were very peculiar. For example, Norman ghosts could be killed with cold weapons ...


Rather, we are not even talking about ghosts, but about the living dead. One of the Icelandic sagas tells that an unsociable peasant named Glaam lived in the village of Torgalstadt. The people around him did not like him. Once the neighbors found Glaam dead in the courtyard and, according to some signs, decided that a ghost had killed him. After his death, this man began to harm the villagers, to destroy livestock. Anyone who accidentally met him at night lost his mind. The brave Gretge heard about this nightmare that befell Torgalshtadt and went there to fight the living dead.

One night, the ghost of Glaam appeared in front of Gretge, who was lying in bed. A fight broke out between them. When it seemed that the ghost overpowered Gretge, his strength suddenly returned. He swung his sword and cut off Glaam's head, after which he burned the corpse, collected the ashes in a leather bag and buried it far from the meadows and roads.

The Airbiggern Saga tells how a wealthy woman named Thorgunna fell ill and died. She divided her property among her relatives and, by the way, ordered to burn the bed, on which she gave up her ghost. However, the heirs did not do this, since the bed was very expensive. Soon after, 18 of the 30 people living in the house fell ill and died. Their ghosts began to appear at the hearth every day, as if wishing to warm themselves by the fire. Then the priest Sporre ordered nevertheless to burn Torgunna's bed, and to complain about the ghosts to the so-called door court, which had the power to ward off the ghosts.

And so they did. When the bed was burned, the door court, assembled at Torgunna's house, summoned the ghost of her brother Torer Widleg to a hearing. He was not slow to appear. “I sat as long as I could sit here, ” he said, after hearing the verdict, according to which he should go to the cemetery, and left through the door. The same thing happened with the rest of the deceased relatives of Torgunna.

After the expulsion of the ghosts, the priest entered the dwelling, who with a prayer sprinkled the house with holy water. More ghosts did not appear.

Stake of Hatred

The magic of the Normans could be directed not only for good purposes. An angry or envious person YSh sometimes put the villagers at risk. Perhaps the most terrible tool for targeting damage was considered the "stake of hatred", which was driven into the ground, having put a horse's head on it. It was believed that in the direction where the horse's muzzle "looks", misfortune will certainly come.

This action was accompanied by the casting of magic spells. When the great skald Egil Skallegrimsen (910-990) decided to damage the lands of the royal couple - Erich Blutax and Gungilda, he landed on the outskirts of their island, climbed the slope of the mountains facing their country, stuck a nut stake into the ground and put on it horse head. At the same time, he uttered the following words: "And I turn against all the winds of the country that live in it, so that they always wander and do not find a permanent place for themselves until they banish King Erich with Queen Gungilda."

Magical Runes

Runes played an especially important role in Scandinavian magic. According to experts, runic magic is based on sacred coding, sacred reading and tracing of sign-letter systems endowed with magical and divine meaning. As evidenced by archaeological data, even the first signs inscribed by a person on a stone, bone or tree, undoubtedly, were of a magical nature. The oldest finds of this kind date back to the 17th-16th millennium BC. e. Already among them, signs are found that resemble some runes. In the VI-V millennium BC. e. an extraordinary cultural upsurge began in Europe. Archaeologists find many household items and ornaments with images of a magical nature applied to them. Many of them are the predecessors of the runic alphabet. Even later, in the III-I millennium BC, the systems of magic signs begin to turn into magic alphabets.

It is believed that the first Germanic runic alphabet - Futhark - was formed by the 2nd century AD. The prototype of this alphabet was the Severi Tapian script. The very same word "rune" comes from the Old Norse noun "runes", meaning "whisper" or "secret".

As the Scandinavian myth says, the secrets of the runes were originally owned by the giant and sage Mimir. The supreme god Odin, who was the patron saint of wisdom, turned to him.

The giant demanded the secret knowledge of the right eye of the god. One not only gave his right eye, but also nailed himself with his own spear to the world tree, where he hung for nine days. During these days, the desired knowledge came to him.

For evil and for good

It was possible to use magic runes for both evil and good. The same Egil Skallegrimsen knew how to use them to heal people. One day he went to see a peasant he knew whose daughter was ill. She lay unconscious. Egil carved runes into a fishbone, which the patient then placed under his pillow. Then the peasant's daughter woke up, as if from a dream, and said that she felt better.

It is curious that the Scandinavians did not have a division of magic into white and black. Magic was considered simply good if it was directed to the benefit of people, and bad if it was used to harm. All sorcery was equally legal, and sorcerers were respected, unless they used enchantments for fraudulent purposes. And in this case, not magic itself, but its purpose was considered shameful.

Before the adoption of Christianity, the use of runes and magic conspiracies was not blamed on anyone, even if they were used for evil. But only half a century passed, and Engal, the murderer of Gretta the Strong, was outlawed by the popular assembly for defeating Gretga with the help of magic.

Foreseeing the future

The Normans also had their soothsayers-volures. There were especially many of them in Norway and Greenland. In the saga of Torfin Karasemn there is a description of one such fortune teller: “She was wearing a blue cloak, tied in front with ribbons, strewn with stones to the bottom. Glass beads were worn around the neck, and on the head was a black sheep's cap lined with white cat fur. In her hand she held a staff with a copper knob sprinkled with gems. The waist was wrapped around a belt, on which hung a bag with tinder and other devices for making fire. Nearby hung a leather bag, in which the soothsayer kept magical potions for sorcery. On their feet were calfskin fur boots with long straps, at the ends of which pewter buttons clinked against one another. She wore warm cat-fur gloves on her hands. As soon as the woman entered, everyone considered it their duty to jump up and bow to greet her. She accepted everyone kindly or coldly, depending on whether she liked the person or not. "

A good sorceress should have known the "Warlock" conspiracy, which had special power. Plus, she needed to be able to interpret dreams. Among the Normans, every man and every woman could explain dreams, but sorcerers did it especially well. They also possessed the gift of divination and knew how to look into the future.