Category Archives: Trolldom

Book Review: Pictish Orthodox Druidism

Pictish Orthodox Druidism

This is is very interesting book that covers and obscure religious and spiritual practice.  This book is not like anything else on the market related to Celtic traditions.  This book is very unique, and while it does cover Celtic spirituality and Druidry it does some from the tradition of the Picts.  Most books on Celtic Paganism or Druidry cover Irish or Welsch traditions.  Very few touch on the Picts and their tradition.

The author covers this tradition from the way it was taught in his family.  In places where his family tradition had gaps the author did his best with research into history and lore to complete the tradition.  This book is his way of preserving his view and style of Pictish Druidry.

This book is not really broken into chapters but parts with related sections.  Aside from the introduction there are eight sections in the book.  Each section focuses on unique aspects of this tradition providing information on lore and history as well as theory and practice of ritual and magical workings.

In the Introduction the author starts by presenting several common terms and definitions used within the book and Pagan traditions and spirituality.  Next the author explains his approach to reconstructing religious and spiritual traditions.  This is essential to understand as the practices in the book are a mixture of reconstructed practices and traditions passed down in his family.   The introduction concludes with a summary of principles. Here the author also outlines what exactly he considers Pictish Tradition to entails.

The first section of the book is entitled Pictish Orthodoxy.  This section begins with an overview of Celtic spiritual traditions and the different forms out there.  The author presents an argument for Pictish Tradition origins and how we does have information to build a base on.  This section here is also where we are introduced to the Gods.

The section on the Gods covers a basic introduction to the world view.  It covers several of the spirit concepts as well as the type of Polytheism that Pictish tradition followed.  Here the author introduces the idea that the Picts would have adopted some Norse traditions.

Here the author covers information on the various Gods of the Pict tradition.  He gives their names and attributes.  The author covers three different “tribes” or types of Gods worshiped.  There are the Greater Gods, the Brethren Gods (Norse Gods), and the Tuatha DeDannan.  Through the categorization of the Gods we get a view for the complex syncretic path that is the Pictish Tradition.

The section ends with a discussion on the concept of the trinity and the sacred three.  Here we learn about the Celtic three other worlds and the Celtic Knot.  The author also explains through this sacred three why certain deities are seen as a Triad.  To tie in the Norse tradition with the exploration of the Celtic other worlds (3) the author lists the Nine Norse Realms.

The section part in the book is called Awen.  This section is about taking action and how worship is through action.  Here the author covers the sacred Holidays.  The section on the holidays is rather small.  It does present a few examples of how those sacred days could be honored through actions and activities rather than ritual.

The third part of the book is one of the most interesting.  This is the section on the Faerie faith.  Many spiritual traditions work with beings called the Fae.  This section is about the Pictish tradition and their take on the Fae.  Here we get a taste for ritual work and how the Picts dealt with contact with spirits.

This chapter had some of the most useful information.  It starts out by explains what the faerie spirits really are and how the modern view of fairy’s is actually quite far from the historical perspective.  The author explains that he believes this would have been the practice of the common folk and was less to deal with Gods and was more animistic in nature.

After giving brief examples of offerings and how the Faerie Faith may have been practiced the author begins to discuss the different types of Fae.  Here we see the variety of spiritual forces found within the Pictish tradition beyond the Gods.  The author gives several different types of fae including descriptions of Norse Fae.

Once we are familiar with types of Fae we get into the first practical bit of spiritual work within the book.  Here we are learning how to set up an altar to suit the practice of the Faerie faith.  The author covers three different types of altars to the Faerie people and the types of fae best honored at each.

The chapter ends with ideas on how to make contact with the Fae.  Here the author covers plant talismans and flowers in your garden that could attract the fae.  The author also presents a detailed guided meditation to use meditative techniques to meet fae and work with them.    In all reality the section on the Faerie faith could be a book in its own right.  The author does a great job of presenting information that gives an introduction to the practice within the context of this particular cultural view.

The fourth section of the book is about the priesthood.  Here we find out the authors view on Priesthood and why its not a mantle to be taken up easily.  The author covers the different types of priests and Druids in this chapter.   With each type of druid or priest the author covers the roles they had and how they worked for the Gods and the community. Here the author also covers the various Norse Priests that would have filled similar roles to the Druids.  The author makes it clear that for him priesthood and ministry are the same thing.

The fifth section is where we first get introduced to the practice of magic.  The practice of magic is one of the main draws to practices like Druidry, Shamanism, and witchcraft.  The idea of being able to perform rituals and take specific actions to create change in ones life is very appealing.  So it is important to cover the use of magic and the theories behind it.

In this section the author covers the hows and whys of magic.  Before getting into magical laws and theory the author outlines the phases and steps involved in spell casting.  He explains several magical laws and magical theories.  This gives you the basis to start exploring the magic discussed later.

The majority of the section on magic focuses specifically on the Druid practice of magic.  The author gives examples of types of magic he calls Low, Middle, and High.  In each section of low, middle or high there are examples of types of magical workings and practices that would fit within those concepts.

The chapter ends with a discussion on Druid rituals, tools and the organizations.  With the information on ritual and tools the reader now has enough information to create simple spells and workings within this magical paradigm.  It is here that we have really begun to be able to piece together a practice from the material presented.

The sixth section in the book is on Magical languages.  Here the author introduces Ogham and symbols that are used in magical ritual.  The author covers tattoos and scarification rituals as ways that the Picts used magical symbolism on their body.  The section on magical languages ends with a brief introduction to Runes and Runic magic.

The seventh part of the book is dedicated to Runes.  This is one area of the book that is entirely dedicated to a Nordic aspect of the tradition.  Here the author covers the Rune poems and the three different Rune systems.  He covers the use in magic and the use in divination.  The author even covers creating your own traditional Rune staves and doing traditional Runic readings.  This section and the Faerie faith chapter are the two section of the book with the most practical information and the most unique information.

The author ends the book covering a variety of related spiritual traditions.   The author begins the section by covering different Druid and Celtic traditions and organizations.   Here the author covers traditions like Shamanism, Wicca, and general Witchcraft.  This shows that the author not only respects these other spiritual traditions but he also sees how they are connected and possibly related to his own traditions and practices.

Overall the book provides great insight into this spiritual tradition.  There is enough information that the reader could decide to explore the practice for themselves personally.  The author gave enough information to form a workable practice without doing all of the work for you.  He allows the reader to start with this information and work with the spirits and Gods through personal work to develop their priesthood and their practice.

I would recommended this book to people interested in both Celtic and Norse Pagan traditions.  While I may not agree with all of the information presented on the Norse traditions, I feel that the author did an excellent way of presenting how the Picts would have adapted the Norse Gods and practices into their traditions.

Book Review: Trolldom: Spells and Methods of the Norse Folk Magic Tradition by Johannes Björn Gårdbäck

Trolldom

Over the last year and a half my magical practices have started to take a change towards more folk magic systems.  To me the lack of formalized ritual for spells is much more appealing than the need to invoke deities for every spell or magical action I perform.  In many ways folk magic traditions relate to me more than most of the modern witchcraft practices as they do not make magic separate from day to day life.  Magic in this instance was a tool for life nothing more or less.  Folk magic simply was and is The Magic of the people.

I’ve been focusing on Hoodoo which is an American system of folk magic created during the slave era and deeply tied into African American culture and Southern Culture in general.  I figured as an American I might as well look into a system of magic that was born here in this country.  Often times I get mixed views on my interest in Hoodoo as I am not Black nor am I from the south. I am a Northerner.  I am from Maine and I have never lived outside of Maine.  So for some of them I was participating in cultural appropriation.  Not being from the South or Black how could I understand all the intracices of the culture?  How could I honor those ancestors?

One common theme of advice I was given was to look into my own personal heritage and see what sort of folk magic traditions I could explore.  I’d be honoring my ancestors and I would be staying within specific cultural guidelines.  For this reason I looked up and did some searching on Germanic or Norse style of Folk Magic.  Trolldom was the topic that came up.  So when I was given an opportunity to read a book on my own ancestral practices and traditions I was all over it.  It felt right to be reading that book and to start looking at adding some of the workings into my own practice.

If you are expecting spells and forumulas that deal with the Norse Gods you wont find a lot in this tome.  Most of the spells either deal with a land spirit or they call on Jesus, God,Mary,The Holy Spirit, or the Devil.  Like most folk traditions alot of the pagan elements are still there but you will have a hard time to find specific workings with the Norse Gods.  There are plenty of books on the market for Nordic witchcraft and magic that deals with those deities.

This is the magic of the people.  We are lead to believe that all the magic died out when the Norse Culture became Christianized.  That is simply not the case.  In fact many of the old workings which dealt with the old gods were simply modified to deal with the spirits and the religion of Christianity.  Knowing this now I am still quite happy with the material in this book as I feel it still connects me to those ancestors.  Afterall my most recent ancestors would have been Christian.  So if they practiced this craft or if they  had a family style of Trolldom it is the Christian spells and spirits they would have worked with.

For the reasons above I have read and enjoyed reading Trolldom.  It took a long time to read.  This book is intense and full of information.  I spent a lot of my early days with the book just going back and forth with the glossary at the beginning of the book.  There were so many new terms and phrases to learn and understand.  The language component in this book is one of the most important elements but it is also one of the most difficult components to deal with.

The language barrier involved in this project is the reason there are two sections based on language.  You have a glossary (which is right after the dedication) and then you have a section on different terms for different practices within this particular set of workings and systems.  Trolldom encompass more than just Norway and Icelandic magic which is why the language issue is present.  This book actually ecompases quite a few different “Nordic” cultures.  It covers Norway, Iceland, Sweeden, and Finland as well as having a bit of Anglo-Saxon and some Lore preserved in Powwow or the Pennsylvania Dutch traditions.  For this reason the section for the glossary and on the terms is not only important to mark and return to throughout the book, but is an essential part of understanding this practice.

This book is broken into a few different sections.  First is the glossary which was the most difficult to get through.  The second section is about the History. Here the author showed how and where Trolldom survived.  I find it interesting to note one of the places visited and mentioned in the book is in my Home state of Maine.  Its not a town I have been to or near but it in some ways brings this book and its workings closer to home.  I feel better knowing that there are places in my home region where this practice was passed on in some manner.

After history you had the terms.  This section was about how different regions had different names for the practice of Trolldom and the practitioners of Trolldom.  Here we also got into the discussion about how one learned Trolldom and how you could become a professional in the art of Trolldom.  In this culture Trolldom was not just a practice it was an honored profession that many people would take advantage of.  You had your specialists and a few generalists each with unique skills and practices as well as a unique term for their practice.

The next section was on divination on the two different terms and styles mentioned.  For me the importance divination plays in Trolldom shows me a relationship with Hoodoo.  Trolldom has infact been called the Norse Hoodoo, so I would say that the use of divination in magical practices and how they dictate the works to be done is a key component in folk magic.  It seems today more and more people are just doing what ever type of working seems to be the best for them and their situation without taking the time to check the source of the problem or situation.

Finally we get into the workings or the methods.  These spells are called Formulas.  The book has many different sections from Health and healing, to hunting, protection, curses, and even a group of miscellaneous spells.  What I liked best about this section of the book was the fact that there was the English spoken components translated but you could also see the original language as well.  For me this shows just the amount of work that went into this tome.

I will say there are several spells and workings that are basically included only for historical accuracy.  Some items listed in spells like animal parts or human bones are not as easy to get a hold of as they may have been at one point in time.   There are some spells that mention digging up and harvesting things like bones of dead men or going to hanging sites.  Many of these practices are not readily acceptable in the world we live in today.  However if you wish to understand a tradition that has been around for centuries you really need to understand these historical spells.  There is enough material that you can find spells and formulas that are suitable for today’s society.

I hope that the author will continue the work and write a book just on the herbal charms and herbal uses in this book.  While you can find several herbs mentioned in the folk name as well as botanical and a common name, only a small selection of the possible herbal charms are even shown in this work.  For many people who practice folk magic Herbal magic is a huge part of the practice.  So I would encourage the author to work on an herbal trolldom book.

%d bloggers like this: