I was recently fortunate enough to marry a lovely and adventurous young woman, now Mrs Laura Marie Keller, née Kuebel. And better yet, thanks to generous wedding gifts, we found ourselves possessing of the means to have a hell of a good honeymoon. That is why I am writing this dispatch from the town of Ísafjörður, in the remote Westfjords region of Northwestern Iceland.
Laura’s preffered brand of adventure involves dramatic landscapes, sleeping outdoors, and long hikes without encountering another human being, and Iceland’s steep-sided fjords and vast unpopulated areas offer plenty of that. But while I love these rugged, outdoorsy adventures, I also like to savor some of the other adventures a country has to offer. So when I saw mention of the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft in the town of Holmavík (pop. 420), I knew I had to pay a visit.
And, Gents, let me tell you: it was worth the detour. It turned out to actually be a fairly serious collection of ephemera relating to witchcraft trials in the region in the 17th century, alongside some displays and recreations of folk magic rituals taken from actual Icelandic grimoires from the last several hundred years.
These grimoires contain what appears to be a mixture of contemporary European hermetic magic, complete with Enochian scripts, and older Viking traditions, using Futhark runic inscriptions.
Among the spells were one for calling up storms to afflict one’s enemies at sea, involving runes and the head of a lingcod.
But perhaps the strangest ritual was that of the Necropants.
First the sorcerer must convince a man to willingly bequeath his skin after his natural death for the purposes of the ritual. Then, after the donor is buried, the sorcerer exhumes the corpse and removes the skin, without a tear or scratch, from the lower half of the body. He then steals a single coin from a widow, and places it in the scrotum, and puts on his new Necropants, which will then produce coins anytime the sorcerer reaches down and desires one. I guess it beats working…