Traditions relating to the dark and fascinating practices of witchcraft in Iceland are as old as the first human settlements on the island. Countless people paid for these practices with their lives, but many sorcerers and witches did not cease their commitment to the magic arts.
The Icelandic word to describe witchcraft is “Seiður”. The men practicing magic were called “seið-menn”, while women were known as “vísendakona”. The concept of the most fundamental seiður was related to the ancient Norse gods like Odin and Freya. Icelandic magic was originally based on Norse beliefs, but with time it started to evolve into a unique and mysterious magic system of its own.
The Norse god Odin on his horse Sleipnir. (Public Domain)
The First Man Burned as a Witch
Although there are many well-known names of people who practiced magic, most of them were never punished by Christians. Due to the slow process of Christianization in Iceland, it was impossible to apply the rules characteristic of other northern countries of Europe, like Denmark or Norway, which adopted the Christian faith, and attempts to remove old beliefs from their lands, more rapidly.
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