Title: Magie v islandských pověstech o kraftaskáldech v kontextu staroseverské tradice
Magic in Icelandic folktales of kraftaskálds in the context of Old Norse tradition
Source document: Religio. 2015, vol. 23, iss. 2, pp. -148
ISSN1210-3640 (print)2336-4475 (online)
License: Not specified license
The subject of this article is the conception of magic in a little known genre of Icelandic folktales about poets called kraftaskálds ("poets of power") or ákvæðaskálds ("enchanter poets") whose poetry was thought to have a magical effect. Such folktales are attested from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. Kraftaskálds use their poetry for many practical purposes like controlling weather, acquiring food, or even killing an enemy. They usually resort to magic in a greatly agitated state, often when offended or enraged. Their poetry sometimes contains invocations of various deities, but the real source of kraftaskáld magic seems to be their state of mind, the "hot spirit" (heitur hugur). Two aspects are particularly important for understanding kraftaskáld magic. Firstly, the sole medium of this magic is words. Secondly, the strophes are extemporized, which means they can be used only once; thus, we define the magic of the kraftaskálds as verbal and extemporized. On the basis of these two aspects, we propose four categories of magic (verbal extemporized, non-verbal non-extemporized, non-verbal extemporized and verbal non-extemporized) in order to compare the magic of the kraftaskálds with various types of magic attested in Old Norse material, pointing out its similarities and differences. The closest parallels are discussed in greater detail (particularly Þorleifs þáttr jarlaskálds, Busluboen from Bósa saga ok Herrauðs and strophes from Ketils saga hoengs).