Category Archives: philosophy
Book Review: Trolldom: Spells and Methods of the Norse Folk Magic Tradition by Johannes Björn Gårdbäck
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.
The power behind Magic
Many times we have discussed magic and spell craft on this blog. There are many different theories about how magic really works and why magic is effective. There are battles on philosophy on if magic is something that is only in the mind or if it exists outside of the mind and the body. I will leave the decision on what magic is and how it really works up to you as a reader and spiritual seeker.
Today we are going to examine and discuss magic from its most basic theory and concept. If you understand the concept of working with your intentions and projecting your intentions to the universe you can start to and understand the very basics of magic and manifesting your needs and desires. So today we are talking about the most basic form of energy work and magic-the work of our intentions and emotions.
So lets get started then. I know every one wants to focus and learn magic at some point in their lives. Who hasn’t wanted to be able to say a few words or do some actions to be able to create change. The practice of magic does this exact thing. Working magic can be a way to manifest your dreams and desires in this world and reality. Magic is one of the tools that we humans have to create needed changes in our lives.
Magic then is the process of directing and manipulating energetic forces towards a desires outcome. So when you work magic you are directing many different types of energetic forces (Energy basics) out to the universe. By programing them with an idea and concept you give the energetic force a job to do. This job is determined by how your program that energy.
So what is it that programs our energetic forces and magic? In the end what programs magic is your intent. Your intent is the desire behind the spell or ritual. To put it most simply your intent and desire is what you want to happen in the end. Your intent when it comes to magic is what you want to happen in your life. Its that simple. Your intent is your desire.
When you cast a spell you are working towards something that you want on an emotional level. Your intent is fueled by your emotions and desires. This is why in magic its always best to work towards something that you actually need rather than something that you just want or would like to have. The things that you actually need will have a stronger emotional tie to them, which means the intent behind the spells will be much stronger.
So how do we know what our intent really is? When a person performs a ritual or a spell for an item they need a clearly defined goal. Common goals worked on in magic are employment and money, health and healing, love and companionship. These are three of the most common types of spells and rituals you will find. With in each of these sections there are many different ways that a specific intent could be found.
Lets work with the example of health and healing. Many people wish that they could have a healthier life. Many people struggle with different health issues from high blood pressure and cholesterol to anxiety and depressive disorders the health issues that humans struggle with come in many different shapes and forms. So it makes sense that the type of healing rituals and health needs that an individual has is going to be very different from any other individual. This is why it is important to have a specific desire and goal in mind.
So if your goal is for healing and health its important to look at your life. Look at your personal health and your personal needs. If you are dealing with issues of high blood pressure you might want to consider doing a spell to release some and relieve some of the stresses that you have in your life. High stress and blood pressure have been linked. So if you work on spells to decrease your stress you will be working on your health. If your health issues are more related to depression and loneliness a spell to increase happiness or friendship in your life would be effective.
So lets focus on depression as the issue that you want to work on with magic. There are many different ways that you can go about this. Because even mental health issues like depression is very unique you need to think about exactly what will help you at this specific time. For example you could work on a spell or ritual to release past hurts and pain, or you could do a spell to increase the amount of joy you have in your life. Both of these goals are ways that you can work on and obtain the goal of minimizing your depression. You need to choose the one that best suits your needs and what you are really wanting to do.
In the end the goal that you choose is the actual intent of your spell. The goal is what you want to make happen. This is why having a clear intent is important. This intent provides the guide for the energetic forces to manifest in your life. The more thought you put into your goal the more emotional power builds up in your intent. The more time you spend working on the spell and the ritual the more force gets built up. This force can be focused just by working on your intent and focusing on your intent.
With out an intent spells dont work. The energy can be sent out into the world, but there will be no directi0n. You may achieve a goal or a desire, but in the end the energy that has been sent out will have no specific outcome that its trying to make happen. If you have a vague idea like simply better health, that goal will manifest but there is no idea exactly how it will show up. Your health could improve in one area but start to loose in another area. This is why having specific intents and goals is essential in working magic.
Now you dont need to do a full ritual to do magic and to work your intent. Working Positive Affirmations on a daily basis is another way that you can work your intent and make magic happen. By stating in a positive way that you already have what it is you want (positive affirmation) the universe knows your desires and intents and can manifest it through your voice and your thoughts. By working on your thoughts and focusing your thoughts on having your goal, you are working your intention and you are able to work magic.
The important thing to take out of this is that having a clear intention and goal makes for effective magic. This is why its always best to work on that which you need. Desire fuels emotional states and emotional states can fuel intention. By working with your emotions and your thoughts you can and will create powerful changes in your life. By understanding the power of your intention you can work magic.
So it has been a very long time since I have written or done any updating on this blog. I have come to realize that there is much for me to learn still, and much I already do know. I have come to realize that it is time to start going back to the basics which started my love for the path I am on. It is time for me to figure out what I do know and what I am.
I just started to read a new book. The book “The Faery teachings” by Orion Foxwood and the first chapter had four basic questions that one should answer. These four questions are the questions in which we all as humans seems to seek to find the answers to through life and religion and basicaly everything. These four questions are the questions that essentially form the basis of the meaning of life.
The four questions are more basic than anything you may actually consider. The first question is : Who am I? The second question is :What is it? (What is God, the force behind creation, Spirit, ect). The third question is Why do I exist? The fourth question is finally Where do I/we go when we die or What happens when we die?. These are the basic questions that all religions and philosophies seek to answer.
I am a college student who studies many things. I study religion, anthropology, religion, philosophy, and in many ways psychology ans sociology. All of these fields of study are interconnected. All of these fields seek to understand the basis of what is essentially the human experience. These areas of study are my passion and they fire my soul. They are why I feel I am here. I am here to gain understanding found in the mysteries of life through the exploration of mysticism found in comparative religions and folklore/theology.
One of the things I have neglected over the years is what “I know”. The questions that Orion says we seek to answer are questions I have never actually really asked myself. I keep reading and reading and saying “yes that makes sense” and what not. When I am asked questions I never respond with “this is my thought”. I typically respond along the lines of “I don’t really know to be honest.”. I have discredited what I know.
The only time I have ever considered what “I know” is when I have to write a paper for school. My teachers have always told me I should be a writer. I have been afraid of doing the writing and getting published. I have never given myself enough credit for my knowledge. I often amaze myself when I read my papers. I have come to realize that the reason I feel I “know nothing” on any subject is that I doubt my personal experiences as well as my own thought processes when compared to others.
Upon finishing the first chapter in the book :”The Faery Teachings” I realized that it was time for me to consider what I know. When the author explained why it was important to answer these questions before starting to follow any path, that it was time for me to actually answer these questions. I feel part of the reason that I don’t really know what I am and who I am is that I have never asked myself these questions. That is why honestly am not secure in my beliefs.
It is time for me now to answer these questions. One of the ways I am going to get through these questions is for me to go through my old diaries. There was a time when I was constantly writing anything and everything that came into my mind. A lot of this will reflect who I am and my thoughts and beliefs at the time. It will also mean going through some of my old papers written at school and on my own. It may even mean digging up very old and in depth gaia posts.
If I am to ever really consider myself a writer then I must start having my thoughts published somewhere. I am going to start with this blog. The next several “essays” will be responces based on the very first question “Who am I”. The first article will be a basic biography of my life. The second will more likely be more thought processes on a specific topic and then the rest will flow from there,
In many ways it may work out to being a book full of essays and exercises much like one of my favorite books on traditional witchcraft (and one I wrote a paper on) “The Witching Way of the Hollow Hill” by Robin Artisson. This is one of the reasons I am starting with the blog. I figure that it is best to start e-publishing through this blog.
So this is the end of a year and the start of a new year.