People have always been fascinated about sorcery and witchcraft. These occult practices have managed to awaken in humans powerful intense feelings, such as: abomination, fear, horror, repulsion, rage, curiosity, skepticism and many, many others.
Witchcraft was been defined as a complex of superstitious beliefs that aimed to obtain intervention of the Devil or to commit sacrilege. The presence of magical practices is documented in all ancient civilizations, even from the Paleolithic Period. For example, predicting the future, and shamanic currents were widespread in Eastern cultures.
During the Middle Ages, witches and wizards work were harshly disapproved, but weren’t burned alive. The real prosecution begun since the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when people accused of witchcraft were taken to the stake, especially in in Germany, Spain and England. Once science become more and more present, in the eighteenth century, witchcraft was seen as simply superstition.
Currently, tens of thousands of people admit to be interested in sorcery. And they can learn everything about this practice by visiting a famous museum, which reveals the history of witchcraft in Iceland, covering half a century. The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft in the small village of HÛlmavÌk is one destination that can really change someone’s opinion about magic and about the occult practices. It is close-connected to the country’s history, as 120 sorcerers were executed around the country, between 1625 and 1685. According to local authorities, this museum is dedicated to all those 120 sorcerers violently killed.
Visitors can experience here complete rituals and spells related to local magic, such as conjuring a creature or making a person invisible. Moreover, it has an impressive collection of artifacts and various displays with animal skulls, rune-carved pieces of wood or different Icelandic magical staves. Some of these amazing staves look like they derive from medieval mysticism and occultism, while others ressemble to the runic culture and the ancient Germanic belief in Gods such as Thor and Odinn.
One display in particular shows how a skeleton comes to life, breaking up through the floor.
Moreover, the most impressing piece in the entire museum is a pair of pants, called “necropants”. They are made of human dried skin and it seems they were wore by sorcerers for luck. According to the legend, these horrifying pants were made from the skin of a friend, after the sorcerer had obtained his agreement from when he was alive.
Location: Höfðagata 8-10 510, Hólmavík
Another similar museum, also known worldwide, is in Cornwall, England, and it is called the Museum of Witchcraft. It was opened in 1951 by neopagan with Cecil Williamson and it has the largest collection of witchcraft and Wiccan artifacts.