tion would be kept alive over a long period, undamaged and word-for-
word as it had originally been formulated.
A priest of Frey who was killed in the fertility episode of ritual had
reason to expect a special reward from the god of fertility. According
to Gísla saga, Þorgrím did not have long to wait for the recompense.
A 'thing without precedent' happened: his mound stayed unfrozen,
and people assumed that Frey would not tolerate any frosty relation
between them. This 'unprecedented thing' brought about the fall of
Þorgrím's slayer. Gísli lost sight of his own interests as he looked at
the mound, and composed a verse which gave him away.
The theological chain of reasoning in the situation I have described
is quite clear. It seems to me so clear and logical that it is hard to en-
tertain any other idea than that it was formulated in the days of Norse
paganism, while Frey was still a powerful and living pagan god.
In Gísla saga, little weight is given to the traditions of Frey here re-
counted. Their function in the narrative is more or less as infilling, and
they are not regarded as making any difference to the development of
events. The saga puts it in this way, when Þorgrím has been buried:
Borkr kaupir at Þorgrími nef, at hann seiddi seið, at þeim manni
yrði ekki at bjorg, er Þorgrím hefði vegit.46
. . . Bork struck an agreement with Þorgrím 'the claw', who was
to bring it about by shamanistic practices that the man who had
slain Þorgrím should be deprived of all succour.
The shamanism of Þorgrím 'the claw' is described immediately before
the mention of the 'unprecedented thing' at the mound of Þorgrím,
priest of Frey, and in such a way as to give readers the impression that
Gísli composes the verse under the influence of the spell. The methods
used by this Þorgrím are described in a very general way.
Shamanistic practices survived the Conversion, but black magic and
incantations were forbidden:47 Another item from the realm of Chris-
tian superstition which is influential in Gísla saga is the ill-fated weap-
on Grásíða.48 These manifestations of superstition were no doubt in
full vigour in the first centuries after the Conversion, right up to the
46 ÍF VI, p. 56.
47 Dag Strömbáck, Sejd (1935), p. 61 ff.
48 ÍF VI, pp. 5, 6, 9,12, 13, 37, 52, 54.