As a historical document, the Galdrabok is Stephen Flowers’ account of an incredible survival of a Pagan era. It illuminates the Icelandic citizen’s mindset in an era where mainland Europeans were being put to the sword for their beliefs in the Runes and the Old Ways.
The naivete of some of the Galdrabok’s spells (galdr) combining elements of Christian prayer and Pagan magic strikes one as charming. Here was a country where galdrmenn (sorcerers) mixed and matched the Traditions with childlike ease; almost like play for some of them, by all appearances.
Customs of Icelandic magic are described: laws regarding kotruvers, gambling magic, for example, and birthing and healing magic … and magic to expose thieves in their midst. These people were pragmatic in their use of magic, and they were keenly inventive people, not afraid of experimenting.
As long as it worked, it was used. If a spell didn’t work, they would recut the runes until something worked. And they wanted spells to pull a cow out of a bog or help a pig deliver a healthy litter, not this New Age channeling nonsense so prevalent in the modern world.
For the serious Northern Tradition student, this book may need to be combined with other books, e.g. Northern Mysteries and Magick by Freya Aswynn, to ground one in the magical theory.
If you are interested in the book only for its historical value, as an anthropological treatise, it is an insightful look at the ancient Icelander’s mindset, and is valuable in that respect.
Some people (mostly Northern Tradition purists actively into magic) might say that the Galdrabok demonstrates the problem of mixing Christian and Pagan cultures. In the modern day, I’d say it was a document showing the wonders of multiculturalism in a most xenophobic era, and a goad for new practitioners of any sort of magic not to be afraid of playing with the format.
If you are into serious and practical magic, this book can be your primer into a long-dormant art: the Art of spellcrafting. It shows you how the Icelanders used magic for practical ends, and they weren’t afraid to experiment. If it worked, they didn’t care if it was Christian and spoken in Latin. It worked, and that was that.
In summary, it is a practical book of a potentially still – living magic, an anthropological insight into a way of life now long vanished, and a stepping stone to neomagicians in the magic – starved Third Millennium to rediscover something wonderful that’s been lost for a long time to the world.