“Magic Circle” by John William Waterhouse (1886)

Now there’s a word I didn’t know I needed in my life! Fjölkyngi (FYŒL-koon-gee) is the Old Norse word for magic or witchcraft. It means “great knowledge” and, according to Diana L. Paxson, is “derived from the verb kunna which meant ‘to know’ but didn’t refer to just any kind of knowledge. It signified an understanding of the inner workings of people, things, and the world as a whole, as well as a mastery of an ancient lore and traditions.” Being a magician (fjölkunnigr) is not something you learn how to do in a five minute video on YouTube. It involves a lot of hard work and dedication to the craft, following whatever path the Spirit may lead you on.

Back in the day, when I was just a witching, I had been studying and practicing for about a year and happened to be visiting Asheville Raven & Crone. A young person came through the door and asked the clerk at the counter if they were hiring. The clerk said that they were welcome to fill out an application and also needed to list their five favorite books on magic and pagan spirituality. The person confessed that they had not read any books on the subject and I knew immediately they would not get the job. The clerk kindly accepted their application but without any knowledge of the Craft, it would be very difficult to work there! As I thought about myself applying for the job I had already read 25-30 excellent books at this point and was also a member of a training coven. It would have been nearly impossible for me to pick just five because there were so many excellent ones to choose from! I would have also been hesitant to apply for the job because I still felt like a toddler in terms of my magic practice and still had lots to learn before I could help others in a store such as this.

Im my own pursuit of “great knowledge,” I’ve alway been a spiritual mutt, sampling from many different traditions to form my own unique path. I encourage others to do the same. I’ve always had a thirst for knowledge and it led me to pursue a masters degree in theology in the Christian tradition. I’ve also had Buddhist, Wiccan, Medicinal Herb and Norse Pagan teachers, along with an extensive study of Tarot. My current obsession is runes and it quickly dawned on me that in order to understand them you also need to have a basic grasp of ancient Norse history, language and customs. So that’s what I’m doing these days! It is a joyful journey but it is also a lot of hard work.

I share this with you to encourage you to always seek to gain more knowledge and acquire more skill in whatever traditions you’re studying. The well is deep, but the water is oh-so sweet! This depth of knowledge will serve you well and will make your fjölkyngi strong. Blessed be!

Copyright ©2023 by David Taliesin,

About David Taliesin

My name is David Taliesin. I'm an writer, teacher and retreat leader who explores the connections between Christian and Pagan Spirituality. E-mail me with any personal comments you'd like to share and I will do my best to answer them. You can also contact me through my Facebook page
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