This collection of spells brings to mind the kind of magic seen in movies with foreign plant names, incantations, sigils and staves. From spells of the ancients to fulfill personal vendettas, become invisible, or see the face of a thief to spells today's readers are likely to use to find love, be protected or make incense, the book covers the gamut. Magic with plants is not just performing spells but also encompasses communication and spirit work with plants. Spell directions have an old timey charm such as harvest this plant in the hour of Mars, say these words, paint this stave on this stick. The information is researched, clear, and usable.If you are seeking something that has a touch of the drama but remains grounded in tradition, Icelandic Plant Magic may fit the bill. One caveat, this book is not an herbal but a grimoire.
Using Icelandic plants for magic may seem like a small interest niche but bear in mind many plants are not unique to Iceland and can be found in Scandinavia, the UK, and even in Canada or the northern border states of the US. So with some adaptations, readers from outside of Iceland can make use of the Icelandic flora. Other plants are unique to Iceland and need to be wildcrafted on hikes. Plants that are endangered and should not be picked are listed. Warnings are given for plants with hidden dangers, such as provoking light sensitivity or having a reputation as offending the trolls if picked, The author has translated traditional folk magic spells from Icelandic into English. Some plants do not have English names so readers should be prepared for names in Icelandic and Latin. Both a glossary and pronunciation guide can assist readers with this. Bjorn has added his own input to modernize the practice. Iceland although remote and an island was not without foreign influences as well and readers will find similarities to the folk magic of other countries.
Bjorn Shiell discusses that Iceland has a strong maternal Celtic genepool and how this often overlooked history has influenced magical practices. Icelandic folk magic spells incorporate both Nordic deities and Christianity. Purists may not like this but it's an accurate reflection of the body of work found in Iceland. Some of these ancient spells may offend readers-especially those of you who have never studied ancient magical practice. The author aims to educate but he recognizes that modern readers have a different lifestyle and moral compass. This work is a hybrid with some ancient knowledge and acknowledgement of how modern thought has changed magical practice.
Thoughtful, interesting and recommended
~review by Larissa Carlson
Author: Albert Bjorn Shiell
Crossed Crow Books, 2022
294 pp. $14.99