freely downloadable microchap _begalende_ out from ghost city press

the little chapbook i never thought would see the light of day has indeed done it. begalende (old english for “singing/chanting ’round”) is a small digital chapbook of my verse translations of “charms” or “spells” found in old english, old high german, and old saxon manuscripts.

these texts (called “galdru” in old english) are strange ducks, landing somewhere between story, prayer, and recipe, what we now call—with little precision—magic. but they were also passed down (almost surely in each case) by christian monastics. the apparent paradox may not really be such, given the time period. that is, the strangeness, i conjecture, is more about these being “pre-modern” than being “pagan.” (if you want a good study of this basic view, see here.) they reflect a time when human minds and bodies were understood to be much more “porous” to their environments—things like “elf shot” could get you on any day of the week!

the texts translated here are a fun and bizarre time capsule of human experience, and you can download the book free from ghost city press right here. (tho’ any funds you may want to donate come straight to me, which is kind of them.)

happy reading!

New Elf-charm translation in _Ancient Exchanges_

One thing I enjoy about the early medieval period is that folks still recognized elves, mares (think: “night-mare”), dwarves, etc. as existing. Not as a throwback or counter-cultural belief, but it was “just the way things were”—to the point that they had medical recipes and “charms” or incantations or spells (or something!) called galdru (singular: galdor) to help those who fell victim to them.

I’ve been translating several of these verse compositions in Old English that deal with how to handle elves, dwarves, worts (plants), in ways that are what most of us would refer to as “magical.” Several are forthcoming, but here’s the first in the journal Ancient Exchanges, with text and audio: “Against the Water-Elf-Disease.”