“Seiðr as shamanistic practice: reconstituting a tradition of ambiguity”; Jenny Blain

[Edited 9/14/14: I did contact Jenny and heard back from her that the material in this paper isn’t copyrighted, and that she’s fine with me posting it. She did, however, point out that her book, Nine Worlds of Seid-Magic–which I also have listed in my Resources section, and is also available here–contains most of that same material. She says that she will try to send me links to newer articles as well.]

I am slowly (but surely) uploading my hoard of Heathen resources. Tonight I dug out an academic article by Dr. Jenny Blain, formerly of Sheffield Hallam University in the UK; and currently, iirc, on the staff of Chapel Hill Seminary.

I met Jenny when I was a grad student. We were both pagans in academia–me a student, her a professor–and ended up together on the same panel for a conference appropriately entitled “Going Native”. We got to talking about Heathenry, and I asked her for a copy of the paper she had given at a conference not long prior. I’ve kept it all these years, and it’s still one of the best resources about seiðr that I’ve found.

This is a revised and expanded version of an academic paper that Jenny Blain presented at the Conference on Shamanism in Contemporary Society in Newcastle, June 1998. It’s thirty-four pages of dense academic text and analysis of relevant quotes from various sagas. As far as knowledge of seiðr goes, Jenny’s work has both serious academic credibility (having taught at various colleges and universities throughout her career) and substantial experiential knowledge. She’s one of the few people who has this combination of high level of academic research and training and experiential knowledge of the seiðr technique.

(In other words–she knows what she’s talking about, so if you are interested in seiðr, it is definitely worth braving the dense academic verbiage!)

Here’s the paper’s official abstract:

The Saga of Eirik the Red describes a seeress, who sat in a specially prepared High Seat to foretell events for a Greenland community of 1000 years ago. She used a technique known as seiðr, calling on ‘powers’ to help her see further. Seiðr magic was chiefly performed by women, with male practitioners disparaged as ‘ergi’. Today members of reconstructionist ‘heathen’ communities in North America are drawing on such accounts in establishing seiðr as shamanistic practice, involving trance or shapeshifting, for foretelling and healing. This article examines constructions and contestations of seiðr within communities of past and present.

I have the abstract and article posted in the “Online Articles” section of my blog, here

7 thoughts on ““Seiðr as shamanistic practice: reconstituting a tradition of ambiguity”; Jenny Blain

  1. […] The Saga of Eirik the Red describes a seeress, who sat in a specially prepared High Seat to foretell events for a Greenland community of 1000 years ago. She used a technique known as seiðr, calling on ‘powers’ to help her see further. Seiðr magic was chiefly performed by women, with male practitioners disparaged as ‘ergi’. Today members of reconstructionist ‘heathen’ communities in North America are drawing on such accounts in establishing seiðr as shamanistic practice, involving trance or shapeshifting, for foretelling and healing. This article examines constructions and contestations of seiðr within communities of past and present. -Abstract of “Seiðr as shamanistic practice: reconstituting a tradition of ambiguity”; Jenny Blain, 1999 via Freya: The Gold Thread […]

  2. Yep. I believe we know a similar Bellacrow 🙂 And check my edit to this post; Jenny’s fine with me posting it as she does not think there’s any copyright issue, though hopefully she’ll send me more recent articles to post.

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