Vardlokkur – The Song of the Völva, by Pollyanna Jones

A friend just passed me the link for an absolutely solid article describing the practice of seidh. (Let me point out that this is an article for a popular audience, not an academic one. Kind of a 101 overview of aspects of seidh.) Seidh is the magical practice that Freya specializes in, which She taught to Odin at his behest. It’s a specifically Vanic art that is only practiced only by women, or by men who are willing to take on the “ergi” role–that is, the “receptive” and feminine role. (Odin will do pretty much anything to obtain more knowledge.)

“Seidh” actually covers a variety of magical and divinatory practices, including, as Pollyanna says, the ability to “make prophecies, read omens, speak with the dead, and petition the powers behind wyrd or fortune to improve a person’s chances of increasing their wealth and reputation”. While the role of a seidhkona (or volva) is mentioned throughout the lore, we know very little of what these women actually did, and even less about the songs they sang, music they used, or rhythms that they pounded out to help get them into the trance-like state that was needed to perform these divinations or magics. Modern practitioners drawn on traditional folk music traditions from the Saami (indigenous tribes in Finland) and Norway, but we’re just taking an educated guess at best. This is why modern Heathens have also drawn so heavily from the Afro-Carribean traditions and other living magical traditions to fill in the gaps in our lore. (This is probably most notably seen in Diana Paxon’s work on recreating seidh–The way of the Oracle, Trance-Portation, and her upcoming book on trance possession.)

The article is a great introduction and overview of seidh and the challenges we’ve faced in bringing this lore-attested practice into the modern day. I’ll post a link to the article under my Online Resources section of the blog as well.)

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