Magicians among the Lapps

Their (of the Lapps) intolerable ungodliness will hardly seem credible nor how much devilish superstition they exercise in the art of magic. For some of them are revered as soothsayers by the foolish multitude because whenever asked they can employ an unclean spirit, which they call a gandus, and make many predictions for many people which later come to pass. By marvellous means they can also draw to themselves objects of desire from distant parts and although far off themselves miraculously bring hidden treasures to light.

Once when some Christians were among the Lapps on a trading trip, they were sitting at table when their hostess suddenly collapsed and died. The Christians were sorely grieved but the Lapps, who were not at all sorrowful, told them that she was not dead but had been snatched away by the gandi of rivals and that they themselves would soon retrieve her.

Then a wizard spread out a cloth under which he made himself ready for unholy magic incantations and with hands extended lifted up a small vessel like a sieve, which was covered with images of whales and reindeer with harness and little skis, even a little boat with oars. The devilish gandus would use these means of transport over heights of snow, across slopes of mountains and through depths of lakes. After dancing there for a very long time to endow this equipment with magic power, he at last fell to the ground, as black as an Ethiopian and foaming at the mouth like a madman, then his belly burst and finally with a great cry he gave up the ghost.

Then they consulted another man, one highly skilled in the magic art, as to what should be done about the two of them. He went through the same motions but with a different outcome, for the hostess rose up unharmed. And he told them that the dead wizard had perished in the following way: his gandus, in the shape of a whale, was rushing at speed through a certain lake when by evil chance it met an enemy gandus in the shape of sharpened stakes, and these stakes, hidden in the depths of that same lake, pierced its belly, as was evident from the dead wizard in the house.

Author unknown, Historia Norvegiae

Original language: Latin

Time of action: 13 century CE

Reliability: Common beliefs at the time with good connection to reality

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