Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gullveigarbok by Vexior 218

Fall of Man  2010  242 pages.  Illustrations by Helgorth and Vexior.  Octavo.

Standard Edition: Maroon cloth, limited to 500 copies.

Deluxe Edition: Full maroon leather, limited to 62 copies.

Gullveigarbok is a grimoire devoted to the understanding and adoration of Gullveig, the highest feminine principle of darkness within Norse mythology.  She is often described as a giantess and is considered the mother of werewolves and of the black arts.  Gullvieg has three feminine forms: mother, maiden, and crone.  This triumvirate of feminine principals, along with her association to witchcraft and darkness, is somewhat akin to the three-faced aspect of the goddess Hecate.  However, one should not consider them one and the same.

Much of the book is devoted to exploring the Norse sagas (The Elder and Younger Eddas), particularly their darker points.  It's clear that Vexoir 218 has extensive knowledge of The Eddas.  The author invites the reader to put themselves into the mindset of early Scandinavians to better understand how they may have looked at their physcial and spiritual world.  One of the central tenets of Gullveigarbok is that Gullveig represents an anti-cosmic force, or as the author calls it, "Chaos-Gnosticsim".  In this sense the book falls somewhat under the Luciferian (as personified by Loki) banner as it deals primarily with acausal energies.  According the Norse myth, Gullveig comes from Niflheimr, a world of mists, darkness, and black ice.  The black ice, called 'rime', represents a kind of frozen or static chaos.  In modern terms we might consider this anti-cosmic and symbolic substance something like dark matter.  Niflheimr is also the land where the Rime-thurses (creatures of darkness and cold, or shadowy ice giants) originate.

In addition to exploring the magical underworld of the Eddas, Gullveigarbok also provides incantations/songs and unique examples of bind-runes and staves for working runic divinations and practical magick .  The author also describes a type of meditative trance-work, called 'seta', which can be used as a method of astral travel to the underworld.  Vexior 218 chose to retain the original spelling of many Norse names and terms rather than Anglicize them.  This can make reading a bit more laborious for some, but considering the context of the book, I believe this was a wise decision.  Respect for tradition is a central theme throughout the text.  Fortunately the author has provided a pronunciation guide for readers in the Introductiion.  Also included are extensive footnotes further elaborating upon key elements of Norse myth and passages from the Eddas to back up claims.  There is also an Appendix and much-appreciated Index.  One final additon is a beautiful fold-out chart of the Norse Underworld.

The Deluxe edition is a true work of art.  It is hand-bound in rich, maroon, leather.  The mysterious 'LYKYL' bind-rune, which according to the author symbolizes 'Loki within Gullveig', is embossed into the cover.  This bind-rune is comprised of three 'Ansuz' runes, looking like three keys.  The 'Ansuz' rune means: transformation, breath, animating-spirit, and communication.  The three runes joined could also represent the three-fold aspect of Gullveig. The spine includes two raised bands and a raised runic title that is very striking.  The outer edge of the book's cover is decorated with fine tooling -- little hatch marks that lend delicate texture to the book's edge.  The scent of the leather is remarkable.  If I close my eyes I could almost swear I'm sitting in a Ferrari.  The book opens to black textured endpapers.  It is further decorated with a red satin bookmark and finished red head/tail bands.

Gullveigarbok is printed in very high-quality heavy paper.  It is smooth,  fairly rigid, and of a medium cream color.  Text is crisp and precise.  Chapter headings are printed with maroon ink.  Sixteen marvelous pen & ink drawings are contained within its pages (many full-page).  The plates 'Gullveig, Heidr, and Aurboda ascend from Nifelheimr', 'Heldrasill', and the chapter heading art for 'Gullveig in Aldna' are particularly well done and striking.  The rear of the Deluxe edition has a black envelope fixed to the inside cover.  Inside sits a black card with a LYKYL bind-rune hand-drawn in silver ink and signed by Vexior 218.  What I find most amazing is that Gullveigarbok is the first release by Fall of Man.  Never have I seen such a fine debut title from esoteric press.  They've certainly set the bar high right from the start.  Keep an eye out for their next release, Threshold: Black Magic and Shattered Geometry.

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