‘My name is Duracotus … ‘

[A mysterious book, written by an Icelander named Duracotus, whose mother Fiolxhilde practiced ancient & occult arts]

Mihi Duracoto 1 nomen est, patria Islandia ^2, quam veteres Thulen dixere, mater erat Fiolxhildis ^3, quae nuper mortua ^4, scribendi mihi peperit licentiam, cujus rei cupiditate pridem arsi. Dum viveret, hoc diligenter egit, ne scriberem ^5.

My name is Duracotus. My country is Iceland, called Thule by the ancients. The recent death of my mother Fiolxhilde has freed me to write as I have long wished. But while my mother lived she would not let me write.

Dicebat enim, multos esse perniciosos osores artium ^6 qui quod prae hebetudine mentis non capiunt, id calumnientur legesque figant injuriosas humano generi ^7; quibus sane legibus non pauci damnati ^8 Heclae voraginibus fuerint absorpti ^9.

Indeed, she said, there were many destructive people who hated such arts because their dull minds could not grasp them – so they misrepresented the arts and made laws injurious to the human race. Certainly, not a few of those condemned to die by such laws have been swallowed up by the chasms of Hekla.

Quod nomen esset patri meo ^10 ipsa nunquam dixit, piscatorem fuisse et centum quinquaginta annorum senem decessisse perhibebat, me tertium aetatis annum agente, cum ille septuagesimum plus minus annum in suo vixisset matrimonio ^11.

My mother never told me my father’s name. She said he was a fisherman who died at the age of 150 years, when I was three years old, and after he had been married for about 70 years.

Primis pueritiae annis mater me manu trahens interdumque humeris sublevans crebro adducere est solita in humiliora juga montis Heclae ^12, praesertim circa festum divi Joannis, quando Sol totis 24 horis conspicuus nocti nullum relinquit locum ^13.

Since my earliest childhood, my mother had dragged me by the hand, or lifted me onto her shoulders, to take me to the lower slopes and peaks of Hekla, especially near the feast of Saint John, when the sun can be seen for all 24 hours, and gives no ground to the night.

Ipsa herbas nonnullas legens multis caeremoniis domique coquens ^14 sacculos factitabat ex pellibus caprinis , quos inflatos ad vicinum portum venum importans pro navium patronis ^15 victum hoc pacto sustentabat.

There she collected many herbs, which she cooked at home with many household spells. With these concoctions she filled small bags made from goatskin, and took them to the nearby port to sell to the captains of the ships. In this way she earned her living.

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