Do you ever wonder where the ancient Icelandic rune alphabets came from? Perhaps, you are more interested in the Icelandic staves like hulinhjalmur and what is their purpose. Read on and learn about hulinhjalmur and other ancient Icelandic staves and their meanings.
Icelandic heritage and culture is full of mysteries, magic, and mythology. Whether it is the Eddas and Sagas of the Vikings, or the trolls and elves, or the endless stories on witchcraft, Iceland is indeed the land of magic and magical creatures. Numerous Icelandic manuscripts from the early 18th and 19th century contain several grimoires, which are basically magical texts with occult information and spells. Most of these grimoires date back to the time of witch-hunts and include signs and drawings as well as primitive medicine mixtures, which are an essential part of the magic.
Grimoires contain several Icelandic magical staves, which are symbols found in ancient books that convey the symbol of magic, considered to have enormous power. Magical staves began to appear in the late middle-ages (between 15th and 19th century), with most dating around the 18th century. They contain the ancient rune system, with a little mix of Renaissance and medieval magic.
Runes are the characters that constitute the ancient writing system, popularly known as the runic alphabet, commonly found in various Germanic languages. Before the adoption of the Latin alphabet all around the globe, northern, central, and western Europe used runes as the dominant form of writing. Expert runologists suspect that the rune system dates back as far as 150AC and originates from ancient Italic epigraphs, like the Raetic alphabet of Bolzano and Old Latin.
Often, these grimoires containing magical staves were written calfskin (vellum) and would provide instructions on how to summon the supernatural, perform magical spells, and create talismans. In this article, we will delve into the meaning of one of the most famous Icelandic magical staves, hulinhjalmur. Let us find out what it means, its origin, and its significance.
Hulinhjalmur, also referred to as helm of disguise, is a vital Icelandic magical sign said to give the power of invisibility. The sign has to be drawn on a piece of brown coal (lignite) and pressed against one’s forehead for application. As a result, the wearer of the sign receives this visually magic sigil and becomes invisible.
According to the ancient books, it is a complicated symbol since the method of creating it and applying it requires a specific procedure and various elements. The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft shows the image of an invisible boy, after using this ancient magical sign.
Despite the complicated and tricky construction of this magical stave, invisibility is an incredibly useful asset for many people as given by this stave. However, after following the correct procedure of making and applying it, the forces around you will not sense, see, feel, or hear you. Hulinhjalmur was particularly helpful during the times where witch-hunts were rampant, and they needed a way to escape from their captors and protect them from their enemies. However, you should note that there are no records to counter the effects of hulinhjalmur and restore visibility.
Hulinhjalmur consists of a turned square, an octagon, and a circle at the center, surrounded by eight prongs. These eight prongs comprise four prongs pointing the cardinal directions, and four more in between them. The ends of the prongs have various symbols. Those in between the prongs pointing out the cardinal directions have a symbol similar to the aegishjalmr, and the other four have a triangular-shaped symbol.
Despite its complicated shape and structure, some say that the most complicated part of this magical stave is the preparation of the ink used to draw it. You have to collect three blood drops from the index finger of your left hand and three more drops from your right hand’s index finger.
You also have to collect one drop of blood from the left nipple and two drops from the right one. Mix the collected blood with six drops of blood from the heart of a living raven. Melt the resulting mixture with the raven’s brains and pieces of a human’s stomach to make the preferred ink. Use this ink to draw this magical sign on lignite (brown coal) and press it against one’s helmet to activate its power.
Hulinhjalmur is part and parcel of Viking symbology, or what is popularly known as Nordic mythology. This magical stave is said to be found in the Galdrabók, a grimoire full of magical knowledge that existed between the High Middle ages and the 17th century. The Galdrabók contains astrological references, instructions for covens, enchantments, spells, and medicine, as well as a list of demons, angels, and mythological creatures. It dates back around the year 1600 and contains approximately 47 citations.
Apart from the hulinhjalmur, the Galdrabók contains numerous symbols with uncertain origins and written in the form of fusing various symbols or merged runes. This grimoire consists of symbols for all purposes, including protection against ghosts and enemies, good fishing, guidance, how to scare enemies, how to invoke the gods, and how to get around death.
Norse mythology contains a great deal of symbolism. It is virtually impossible to understand Norse faith without a proper grasp of Norse symbols and the meanings behind them. Hulinhjalmur is one of the most prominent Viking symbols that protected them against their enemies by making them invisible. As a result, this magical stave contributed to the Vikings’ tall, muscular, courageous, and universally feared character, especially in battles.
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