The Kraftaskalds: Available Article Translation and an Update on My PhD Studies

My PhD studies are nearly done—I submitted my dissertation back in February, and I’m only waiting for the final evaluation and then the defense. My dissertation is titled: “Chanting Up the Kraftaskalds: An Investigation into Their Image, Roles, and Magic.”

And what are the kraftaskalds? They are poets from Icelandic folktales who do magic through their improvised poetry. They use this magic for a wide variety of purposes: cursing enemies, blessing those who treat them well, chanting down walking corpses (draugar), changing the weather, managing animals, and much more. Folklore about kraftaskalds is mostly post-medieval, with the bulk of the sources having been recorded in the 19th century. But the phenomenon goes back into the medieval period—Egill Skallagrímsson and Þorleifr jarlsskáld are the prime examples. The magic poetry of kraftaskalds is generally in the rímur forms that dominated Iceland throughout the post-medieval period. The tradition of Icelandic folklore is rich and complex, and just as worthy of translation and scholarship as the more famous saga tradition. Yet while the sagas are widely studied and translated, Icelandic folklore is still largely obscure in comparison. And I’m happy to say that I’ve been working on one of the most fascinating and uniquely Icelandic parts of the Icelandic folklore tradition—for instance, trolls and similar creatures are quite widespread in European folklore, but this sort of magical poet, not so much.

Once my dissertation is defended, I plan to revise it into a monograph for publication through a scholarly press. For that reason, my dissertation will likely be closed access and thus not publicly available on a website, although I will have some printed copies, of course. I know that many of you are eager to see what I’ve been working on, but it’ll be a while before the monograph is finally in print.

However, there is something I can share now! In 1961, Bo Almqvist, a renowned folklorist, published an article in Icelandic, “Um ákvæðaskáld,” about the kraftaskalds, at roughly 8200 words in length. It is a superb and unbeatable short introduction to the phenomenon, even after 60 years. And so I made a translation (with Teresa Dröfn Njarðvík) of it, and that was published as “Concerning the Icelandic Spell-Poets” in the middle of last July by the journal Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft. I haven’t said much about it until now, since it’s published under what is called “Green Open Access,” which means that it is kept with the journal (which is behind a paywall for most people) for an embargo period (in their case, one year) before the author may make it open-access available on a public website. So now that it’s been a year, I’ve posted it on my page, where you can read a short introduction to the really cool topic that I’ve been writing a book about.

Side Project: The Eagle as Editor

The Skaldic Eagle occasionally flies off on side quests, and did so this past winter, editing and proofreading a short novel of about 27,000 words. Recently, it’s been released as an ebook: 20 Years of Sloth, by Agata Borghesan.

The author is an amazing, multi-talented artist, model, and a wonderful human being, whom I first met in Iceland in Spring 2019. She originally wrote and released the novel in her native Italian, and recently translated it herself into English. I helped with editing and proofreading the English translation. (For the record, I don’t know any Italian.) I greatly enjoyed working on the project, and I’m glad to have helped get the translation out into the world. There’s some rather intense and unique material in it. The ebook is also illustrated with her distinctive drawings at the beginning of each chapter.

Here’s the link to the ebook (in epub) format, available through Lulu. (Please note that page lists an “18+ Explicit Content” warning for the book, one that is certainly warranted. Certain content may be triggering to some readers.)

You can find her other work at a number of websites, including: Solitude Skinny Scars (Instagram)Agata Borgehsan Art (Instagram), and Solitude Skinny Scars (Patreon).

The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus

The truth, sans untruth, most true and certain:
As below thus above, as above thus below,
these make when unified the miracles of the One.
All things are One, and all things, by Work
and Rework of the One, from the One they come.
’Tis sired and mothered by Sun and Moon,
waxed in Wind’s womb, and wet-nursed by Earth.
All the world’s works of wonder it causes;
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New Bookling: Galdored Runes

The Skaldic Eagle is please to announce another new book! Now available through various online retailers, it is…

Galdored Runes (June 2020)
• A paperback collection of 31 poems from Eagle’s Mead.
• Cover art by The Skaldic Eagle.
• Now officially released on June 20.
• See more details and retailer links on the Galdored Runes page.
Or just jump to the Amazon listing to buy it.

You can also read a poem from it, “Carve the Fuþark,” which has recently been featured on the Rûna Eormensyl blog.

Call to the “Rosicrucians”

Of the “Rosicrucians” and their curious runes,
I speak now in verse, but must name them clearly:
the mysterious original, started in Europe
in the seventeenth century, a secret Order,
is the group at hand, not what goes after.
They’ve a curious venue, an Invisible College,
a brick building with budding wings
for soaring upwards to seek for Spirit
and a base with wheels, a benefit to a guild
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A Trinity of New Books!

The Skaldic Eagle is please to announce more new books! All of these books are available in-person now from Eirik at East Coast Thing, Three Rivers Thing, and elsewhere. They are…

Odin’s Brew: Voices from the Heathen Northeast (August 2019)
• The first anthology published by Eirik’s Skaldic Eagle Press!
• Edited by Eirik Westcoat and Ned Bates.
• Foreword by Ristandi.
• Featuring nine heathen writers and artists: Ned Bates, Jill Evans, Stephanie Janicedottir, Laurel Mendes, Ristandi, Mike Smith, Jesseca Trainham, Perris Zoe Weiland, and Eirik Westcoat.
• Front cover photo by Angela Devin.
• The first-ever anthology of creative works centered around the East Coast Thing community.
• Just released mere days ago!
• See more details on the Odin’s Brew page.
• Or just jump to the Amazon listing to buy it.

Hail the Gods (October 2019)
• A smaller collection of poems from VPfHR, the first such collection from Skaldic Eagle Press.
• Cover art by Ermenegilda Muller.
• Now officially released on October 22.
• See more details on the Hail the Gods page.
Or just jump to the Amazon listing to buy it.

We’ve Seen the Same Horizon: Poems of Awakening (June 2019)
• The first anthology anywhere to include Eirik’s poetry!
• Edited by Christina Finlayson Taylor and published by The Red Salon (not by Eirik or Skaldic Eagle Press).
• There are many other great poets in here as well, with lots of Norse/Asatru-themed material.
• The book has even garnered praise from Stephen Flowers (aka Edred Thorsson).
• Also available from Amazon, where you can read more about it.

Beautiful Darknesses

In the Grail legend’s greatest telling,
chastity is not a needed choice.
The Lord of the Grail is allowed a woman,
whose name appears in numinous script,
in flames on its surface. Unfree he is
to have another. (Now, try he can,
but that course of action does not climax well.)
I quest for the Grail, that quickening hallow,
but by binding myself to that boldest endeavor,
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Eagle’s Mead: Now Available!

Eagle’s Mead:
Initiatory Poetry and Prose
Copyright © 2019 Eirik Westcoat
Skaldic Eagle Press
xvi, 302 pages
Cover art by David Rudziński

Today, as heathens celebrate Ostara, the goddess of the dawn, on the spring equinox, my other book of poetry has finally arrived! Most of its content has never appeared on my blog or anywhere else. Now available in hardcover only. The official publication date is March 20, 2019.

This is a book for initiates, magicians, occultists, esotericists, sages, heathen prophets, and other travelers of the hidden realms, one that will not be understood by others.

To find it, either this IndieBound linkAmazon link, or Barnes & Noble link will take you to the casewrap hardcover edition, where it is now available.

Various other Amazon country-sites have it listed also. However, many of the non-U.S. Amazon sites are showing things like “Temporarily out of stock” or “Usually dispatched within 1 to 3 months.” Unfortunately, this seems to be the norm with Amazon and print-on-demand hardcovers. The book should print when you order it. Some Amazon sites show these statuses for the hardcover of my first book, even when it’s been available without interruption or changes since July 2017! In any case, rest assured that the book indeed is now released, whatever status the sites may be showing.

For further details, including a brief table of contents, see my Press / Books page.


Xicoy and the Heart

The call goes forth, the clamor resounds:
Return to the Heart! The time is at hand
for this holy work that’ll heal the world.
And so Grails go forth, with the glory of Spirit
as shining emissaries to show the way.
From forests of rain, forth she has come,
cheerful Xicoy, the chocolate goddess,
carrying a secret of the Sacred Cup.
Kin to Óðrœrir, cousin of Absinthe,
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