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Rauðskinna: The Famous Icelandic Book of Black Magic

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Rauðskinna is a legendary book that was more terrifying than most of the black magic documents ever produced.  It was so dark, that most people could not believe it was written by a Christian bishop. Its main objective was to use magic to gain control of Satan himself.

Also known as The Book of Power, Rauðskinna (‘Red Skin’ in Icelandic) took its name from the red cover written in gold-lettered runes. It was a collection of the darkest rules and spells known to have been created by a man who officially worshipped the Christian God. However, it seems that its author, Gottskalk Nikulausson, wanted much more in life than serving his religion. What did he want to achieve? And why did he explore the field of black magic, which was so contrary to his position as a bishop?

The Bishop and his Holy Book

Gottskalk Nikulausson was born in 1469 in Iceland, and between 1496 and his death on December 8, 1520, he was the Bishop of Holar.

He had been born into a good Christian family.  His uncle, Olaf Rognvaldsson, was a bishop and Gottskalk was his successor. However, as we will see, Gottskalk’s actions were far removed from the values he preached about in his official role.

Gottskalk had a mistress whose name was Gurdun, and two children: Odd Gottskalksson and Gurdun Gottskalksdottir. He also had a lover with a woman known as Jonsdottir, with whom he had a daughter named Kristin.

Historical records refer to him as manipulative, ambitious and cruel. He was more interested in his status in life, than carrying out his role as a bishop. Moreover, he started to explore the dark knowledge of ancient witchcraft in its blackest form, and this became his greatest obsession.

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