What is a Galdrastafir?

A ‘Galdrastafir’ or ‘Galderstav’ is a form of magical sigil known from Scandinavian folklore. Contrary to popular belief, these sigils do not stem from the Viking Age. Although having roots in both Scandinavian Folk Magic and Norse myths, a huge historical influence comes from Medieval magic and European renaissance magic, which is especially noticeable in the 15th and 16th century.

Aegishjalmur is one of the most iconic Icelandic Magical staves, and early versions can be dated back to at least the 1400s. The most common Ægishjalmur design as seen here, was likely invented sometime in the mid 1600s, with several more simplistic versions preceding it.

To explain the meaning of the word ‘Galdrstafir’ or ‘Galderstav’, we first need to break it down its two main components. The first part; ‘Galdra’ or ‘Galder’ is commonly translated to the English word ‘Magic’ or ‘Magical’. While we can go into a lengthy talk about the different ways one can relate to the word ‘galdr’, let’s just for the sake of keeping things short, settle with the fact that ‘Magic’ is not a bad translation.

The word ‘Stafir’ or ‘Stav’ is commonly translated to ‘Stave’ or ‘Stick’. One may immediately think this is referring to the straight lines used in the designs looking like staves, as well as the often used medium of physical sticks and staves, for etching these magical sigils into. While both of these assumptions make sense and can be seen as a ‘correct’ interpretation to the words meaning in this context, it’s still worth looking a bit closer at this one: The word ‘Stave’/’Stafi’ in the Scandinavian languages, is also commonly used to describe the act of ‘spelling” as in spelling letters to make up words of meaning.

Linguistic example: “Han kunne stave sit eget navn!” / “He could spell his own name!”

The word-origin of the word ‘stave’ with the meaning ‘spelling’ is actually believed to stem from old Norse and Germanic times when runes were often etched into staves of beech to form short messages. A stave such as this would have been called a ‘Bøgestav’ (Beech-stick). Those with a little knowledge of Scandinavian languages should notice the close resemblance to the word ‘Bogstav’ which is common in Danish, Swedish and Norwegian. ‘Bogstav’ simply means the same as ‘Letter’ does in English. In Icelandic however, the word for ‘letter’ is simply ‘Stafi’.

It’s also worth noting that the English word “Book” and the Scandinavian “Bog” “Bok” and “Bók” basically means “Beech”.

So what is a Galdrastafir, and what is it used for?

Most of the time a Galdrastafir can be seen as a graphical representation of a magical spell. Depictions of magical staves found in old manuscripts are sometimes accompanied with some sort of description, explaining both the purpose of the staves as well as how to use the magic.

The Vegvisir is another popular Icelandic Stave. The version seen here is copied from “The Huld Manuscript”
You can find the entire manuscript here for download.

To use a magical stave is sometimes as simple as simply drawing it on a piece of paper and carrying it in a pocket, other times it becomes a rather elaborate task, involving very specific materials such as blood from specific animals, skins, herbs and so forth. For anyone with knowledge of Scandinavian Folk Magic, these elaborate steps to cast certain spells should be quite familiar.

The purpose of these spells can range from simple good fortune in life, gaining good luck in fishing, protection from one’s enemies and divination (spådom). More sinister spells such as raising the dead, causing illness and even death can also be found.

The most numerous examples of these types of magical staves can be found in the remnants of Icelandic Folk magic, as the Icelandic magicians were notorious for preserving these in several manuscripts. Some of these dating back as late as the 1400s. Due to Iceland being the epicentre of the historical remains of this magical tradition, the Icelandic word “Galdrastafir” is an often used term to describe them. However, examples of similar staves can be found in English, Norwegian and Danish manuscripts. The 12th-century manuscript “The Calendar and the Cloister” (MS 17 folio 7v) is a good example of an eight-spoked sigil with the same fundamental design as the infamous “Vegvisir” and “Aegishjalmur” staves.

Staves seen in the early 12th century English manuscript MS 17 folio 7v

Typically these manuscripts would also contain vast indexes of cipher-glyphs and cipher-runes, commonly known as “Løn-runer”. These runes were often seen as a mean to obscure part of a written spell by ciphering crucial content, but ciphering can also be used as a step in transforming intentions into a sigil form.

Other runic glyphs that we often see in the Scandinavian manuscripts are known under several names such as “Trold-runer” or “Mål-runer”, as well as “kennings-runer”. These runes are often conveying more magical meaning and associations with them, sometimes referring directly to specific parts of lore or mythology, and are often incorporated into the design of Magical Staves.

Að fá stúlku

Staves to win a girl whom you love.

The staves are meant to be drawn on your right hand palm, using blood drawn from the tip of your left thumb.

Now seek out the girl you love and wish to woo. With the hand you painted the staves onto, hold her hand and look deep into her eyes and recite the following:

My hand in thine in lay,
upon your will I will play.
Lest thine love for me is as great
as the one I hold for you,
may thine bones thee burn.

Hear my words passionate as the void:
Sorcery thine mind will turn and bend
to love towards me for all to see,
all those who dwell below aid me in this!

Galdrablöð – Blad III

This is the remastered version of the third document of The Galdrablöð Manuscript (JS 375 8v – blad 3). The manuscript, as it’s archived in the Icelandic historic national library, is made from several documents, each comprised of several pages, and written by different authors of unknown identity.

This part of the complete manuscript contains several well illustrated galdrastafir, making it perhaps the most interesting part for most people. Apart from the other documents in the manuscript; these are presented in a slimmer portrait-format, and overall found in very good condition (especially if compared to Blad II)

The digital scans used for the PDF document we present here, have been edited and enhanced for optimal presentation in PDF format.

The files can be downloaded here:
DOWNLOAD GALDRABLÖÐ VOL.3 PDF
DOWNLOAD GALDRABLÖÐ VOL.3 ZIP

Example of a page taken from the document

Galdrastafir Gallery

If you are researching, looking for inspiration or simply browsing, feel free to explore our gallery. If you wish to download a particular design to your device, click on the thumbnail in question to open the full resolution file attachment page. From here you should be able to download the image in full resolution.

Download Galdrabók PDF Manuscripts for Free

As a part of project #freegaldrastafir we have decided to make all manuscripts available for easy download from our servers.
The purpose of the project is to make as many manuscripts as possible available in as high quality as possible for digital download. We strongly believe that these old manuscripts are to be freely available in digital form, so we present them 100% free for anyone who seek them out.

Anyone is free to download these files and use them as they see fit. So feel free to redistribute these manuscripts, share links or even print them out and make your own physical copies from the PDF-files supplied.

Galdrabók

This is the remastered version of the original Galdrabók manuscript (ATA Ämb2). The content have been edited and compiled into a single PDF format for easy access.

Download Galdrabók PDF
Download Galdrabók ZIP

Huld

A remastered version of the popular Huld Manuscript (ÍB 383 4to). This enhanced hi-resolution copy was edited and compiled into PDF format for easy access and free distribution.

Download The Huld Manuscript PDF
Download The Huld Manuscript ZIP

Galdrablöð Vol.III

Remastered version of The Galdrablöð (JS 375 8v blad 3). The original manuscript is a compilation of several manuscripts compiled together. In an effort to optimise file-sizes, the manuscript have been split into it’s original parts again. All volumes have been edited and graphically enhanced for best quality, and compiled into PDF format for easy access.

Download Galdrablöð Vol.3 PDF
Download Galdrablöð Vol.3 ZIP

Galdrastafir

Remastered version of The Galdrastafir Manuscript (Lbs 4375 8vo). The PDF have been edited for better quality and presentation and made available for free by Ræveðis.

Download Galdrastafir PDF
Download Galdrastafir ZIP

Hvíta Galdrakver

This version of Hvíta Galdrakver (AM 343 D 12mo) have been edited and optimised for best possible quality by Ræveðis. The entire manuscript have been compiled into a single PDF file for easy access.

Download Hvíta Galdrakver PDF
Download Hvíta Galdrakver ZIP

Galdrakver

The Galdrakver Manuscript (Lbs 143 8vo). This remastered version have been edited and compiled into a single PDF for easy access.

Download Galdrakver PDF
Download Galdrakver ZIP

Lækningakver

A remastered version of The Lækningakver Manuscript (AM 434 a 12mo). Edited and compiled into PDF format by Ræveðis for easy access. Please feel free to copy, share and redistribute this file.

Download Lækningakver PDF
Download Lækningakver ZIP

Leifar Vol.I

Remastered version of the Leifar manuscript (LBS 3902). Due to the huge size of this document, the content have been split into four volumes. All volumes have been edited and graphically enhanced for best quality, and compiled into PDF format for easy access.

Download Leifar Vol.I PDF
Download Leifar Vol.I ZIP

Leifar Vol.II

Remastered version of The Leifar Manuscript (LBS 3902). Due to the huge size of this document, the content have been split into four volumes. All volumes have been edited and graphically enhanced for best quality, and compiled into PDF format for easy access.

Download Leifar Vol.II PDF
Download Leifar Vol.II ZIP

Leifar Vol.III

Remastered version of The Leifar Manuscript (LBS 3902). Due to the huge size of this document, the content have been split into four volumes. All volumes have been edited and graphically enhanced for best quality, and compiled into PDF format for easy access.

Download Leifar Vol.III PDF
Download Leifar Vol.III ZIP

Leifar Vol.IV

Remastered version of The Leifar Manuscript (LBS 3902). Due to the huge size of this document, the content have been split into four volumes. All volumes have been edited and graphically enhanced for best quality, and compiled into PDF format for easy access.

Download Leifar Vol.VI PDF
Download Leifar Vol.VI ZIP

These files are free to download and redistribute. If you find anyone online who are selling digital copies of our supplied PDF material, please help making other aware that they can be found for free right here!

THE GALDRABÓK – PDF

FULL ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT

This is a PDF version of the infamous Galdrabók (MS ATA ÄMB2).
This book is often referenced in modern work such as Stephen Flowers’, but the manuscript itself is actually really hard to find in its original form.

As I’m sure you guys know, there’s not many of these old Galdrabóks left today. Many were burned as heretic books and others were hidden away by their owners to later be forgotten and decay into nothing in some nameless hiding-spot. Those that have survived however, can now be found stored away in several Scandinavian archives, while others are tucked away in private collections.

Back in the day, there were a lot of rumours of black art books like this one in existence. Books said to contain powerful magic in the form of depicted Galdrastafir, Spells, Troll-runes and more. One of the most famous historical manuscripts of this kind is the mythical “Raudskinna” (Red Skin). This fabled manuscript was said to have been written by the Icelandic bishop Gottsálkur Nikolásson (1498-1520’s), who was considered a very cruel man, and also one of the most powerful Troldmænd of his time. “Raudskinna” was lost to the ages unfortunately, as the story says the Bishop took it with him to his grave.

The Galdrabók that I’m sharing with you guys here however, is one of those manuscripts that survived. It’s actually one of the more infamous of the surviving black art books that we still have. It’s a small book compiled on parchment, consisting of 32 sheets in all. The oldest parts of the document were written down in Iceland sometime during the 16th century. Later, the book found its way to Denmark, and at the beginning of the 17th century a Danish Troldmand (sorcerer) supplemented the manuscript with more content. Alas, a more exact date for when this happened is obscured, along with the names of those who wrote the text. Some of the content is likely to originate from other Galdrabóks, but it’s really hard to say at this point.

In 1682 the manuscript was bought in Copenhagen by the Swedish language- and forn-researcher Johan Gabriel Sparfwenfeldt. During 1689-1694 he worked hard on collecting several “gothic” memorials and manuscripts for the Swedish Antiquity Archive.

In 1786 the Swedish Antiquity Archives was placed under management of the Royal History and Antique Academy, and this is where the manuscript can be found today – indexed and shelved as ATA ÄMB2.

DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE

As always this PDF is free to download, free to print and free to share digitally!

#FREEGALDRASTAFIR

Fiskistafir

Fiskistafir “Fishing staves” (or singular “Fiskistafur”), are graphical galdr’s meant to help you with fishing. Often made to be etched into your sinkers or your rod, these staves are specifically made to attract fish to your equipment. The staves seen here originates from Icelandic Manuscript “Galdrakver” (Lbs 2917 a 4to)

Ægishjálmur Stencil Pack

As teased a bit earlier this month, a stencil pack containing various examples of the Ægishjálmur is now available.

I decided to start structuring these files inside a Google-drive archive, both for easy access as well as for easy updates and editing from my end.

As of today the archive contains two folders, one for the Ægishjálmur and one for the Vegvisir. As I progress with my work, more content will be made available in this folder.

Everything contained in the archive will be under the same CC licence, meaning that you basically can use it in any way you see fit, as long as you remember to give credit and don’t alter the licence on any work containing the files I’m sharing.

You can find the archive here

Vegvisir Stencil Pack

Over the years, I have had a few tattoo artist contacting me, regarding getting their hands on some good quality artwork for stencils.I have also had quite a few people looking to get a tattoo done, asking me for a good copy to use as a stencil. Since I have been hard at work doing content for my book, I figured I might as well make some of this work available for public use.

The following graphics are remastered versions of known graphical galdr or Galdrastafir found in Public Domain. The remastered versions seen here are hereby shared with a CC BY SA 4.0 Licence.

The designs found in this post and the attached zip-folder can be copied and redistributed in any medium or format, as well as remixed, transformed, and built upon in any way and for any purpose, even commercially.

Basically this means that you can print these out, use them as stencils, display them and in any other way reuse and share them as you wish.

The only demands are that you give appropriate credit, and provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use. If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

Click here to download the files!