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Killing Magic Items

Last night, I was prepping for an upcoming class on Eirik the Red's Saga, and I suddenly realized I had material for a blog post that was more than just a link to gaming-related media. I was taking notes on the scene in the fourth chapter of the saga where Christian girl Gudrid Thorbjornsdottir gets roped into singing the "Weird-songs" (Varðlokur) for Thorbjorg, a pagan völva or "prophetess." The narrator is careful to describe Thorbjorg's gear, both her bag of "talismans" and her "staff ... with a knob thereon ... ornamented with brass, and inlaid with gems."

While looking for images of a völva's staff to show students, I came across the image reproduced above. It's a Norwegian grave good originally identified by British Museum curators as a spit or measuring rod—and since reclassified as a divination-staff. (Once you see some other examples of völva staves, this artifact obviously belongs to the same group of objects.)

The coo…

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