The Merseburg Spells by J. S. Hopkins.


In 1841, German historian Georg Waitz was leafing through a series of manuscripts in what is now Merseburg, Germany. There he discovered what would seen be known as some of the most important items in ancient Germanic studies: two brief pieces of Old High German alliterative verse, a traditional variety of poetry associated with speakers of ancient Germanic languages from at least the early 400s. These specimens are primarily known in contemporary German as die Merseburger Zaubersprüche, which is variously rendered into English as the Merseburg Charms, Merseburg Incantations, or—as we’ve chosen to title this edition—the Merseburg Spells.

The poems are brief but profound, providing an extraordinary window into the pre-Christianization beliefs of Germanic-speakers of continental Europe. The first calls upon a supernatural group of women, the Idisi. The second appears to ask for assistance from six gods. We know these deities best today as Odin, Frigg, Baldr, and Fulla, alongside the personified Sun, a goddess, and the mysterious Sinthgunt, another goddess.

In this edition, scholar Joseph S. Hopkins renders the poem and discusses both of the spells and each of the themes and topics invoked in them. This creative edition is lushly illustrated by Kazakh artist Rim Baudey with contributions from American artist Jacqui Alberts (Wovnwyrm). It features an original introduction from noted scholar John Lindow (Professor Emeritus of Old Norse and Folklore at University of California, Berkeley).

First edition: limited to 333 hand-numbered copies.

Published by Hyldyr.


76 pages.

Measures approximately 5”x 7”


In stock

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Weight 0.5 lbs


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