How can one find true love? Who will it be and will it be a happy marriage? These questions have been asked time and time again throughout the ages by young unmarried women. I say women as most records mentioning different types of love divination concern women. In a time when much was uncertain and love could be a luxury, many dreamed of a decent marriage, a good partner and supportive husband. Men practiced another, more sinister magical technique. There are many examples, stretching as far back as the Viking age, of how different curses and other magical traditions have been used for love and for forcing the opposite sex into having intercourse. We can find examples of this in early written sources (for example in The Poetic Edda, Runic inscriptions and the Icelandic Sagas). Evidence of similar traditions have also been found in the archeological material. Many later folklore sources, now stored in folklore archives, mention the same tradition. The latter was a magical tradition primarily used by men, while young and unmarried women instead relied on divination techniques and other rituals for finding out who their future husband would be. In this talk, I will present and discuss types of love divination and curses in myth and folklore from pre-industrial Scandinavia moving from the Viking Age up until early 19th century.


Tommy Kuusela earned his PhD in History of Religions at Stockholm University in 2017. He has written more than 50 articles on Old Norse religion and Scandinavian folklore and is a well-known folklorist in Sweden. Kuusela works in one of Sweden’s largest folklore archives and is a board member of several academic societies. He is also one of the hosts of Sweden’s biggest podcast on folklore, När man talar om trollen (a saying in Swedish for ‘Speaking of the Devil’).

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