Heathen Shaman, A Practical Look into Seiðr and Norse Shamanism

Larisa Hunter

 

The question of “What exactly it is I am doing?” hit me square in the head as I joined a list dedicated to understanding Seiðr, but asking it led me to even more questions. What the heck was I doing anyway?

Perhaps the need to constantly define and label things is a flaw of all of us; we seem to always want to draw lines and labels over practices, and denote key elements in order to create a structure or form that will then have to be followed by anyone who follows similar practices. In a way this does a great disservice, because those of us who were quietly  and happily having unique experiences now feel compelled to define ourselves by something; me just saying “that’s not exactly right” does not work either.

But what the heck do you call yourself anyway? There are so many terms to pick from … and which one accurately describes you? Are there any? Or do you have to make up a whole new term to just figure out what it is you’re doing?

I frankly enjoy the historical accounts of Heathens and Pagans that allowed religion and living to meld without solid definitions of stereotypes, where things just were and existed without needing to slap packaging labels on it and sell it on a shelf near you. It seems that we have become a world of branding. If it has no definition that it is almost like yours, it seems that it cannot be real, or at least cannot be viewed by others as real. This is true even though there were likely not as many definitions before. Now, however, for some inexplicable reason you must define yourself as “a” or “b”, but Gods forbid you disagree with those who already defined these things. Then you are just opening the floodgates of arguments that grind you to a place of either choosing to just accept the fact that this title is what you will be called regardless of how you feel, or just walking away wondering what drugs these people are on.

Seriously, it makes many of us refuse to share for fear of engaging arguments over semantics, and that is all it boils down to. I am sure we all have our own ingrained definition of things, but for me, it came as a shock not only to see Gods for the first time, but learning that they could take possession over the human body, and that you could theoretically travel there in sleep or during meditation.

Unfortunately, I did not come at this in some ritualistic way. I did not intend for this to occur; it just happened. I just said out loud that I wanted the Gods to show me whatever they wanted me to see. One day I just said out loud, “Okay, I am here, show me what you want to, I am open!” In all honesty, some part of me said “Yeah, so that’s never going to happen,” because I personally did not start out in Heathenry believing that the gods would actually appear. I knew they were there, somewhere in Asgard or wherever, and that was good enough. I was not really expecting that they would start talking and I found it very confusing.

Then when I began to share tidbits with others, I was immediately sent to the Seiðr sites … and told “Here, this is what you’re doing, read this stuff.” Well, I did…and went on more confused than before, because it did not jump out and say “This is it!” Again, it did not match what I was experiencing. It also seemed very confusing, because it seemed to have various definitions and practices depending on the practitioner that wrote about it. The more I explored, the more confused I got. I was told things like I was doing something called “sitting out” (utiseta) which I could not even find well-defined as a practice, but I figured it was similar to a term in hedge-witchcraft:

A walker between worlds; a non-Wiccan witch with a shamanistic path. – Holland, 2000.

Basically I am assuming that they meant that I walk between worlds, which I think would actually define what I do fairly closely! I do “walk”, while sleeping, throughout the Nine Worlds, and I have had some deep and intense experiences. However, the word witch is not a word I would define myself by. I think witch is too close to other Pagan paths that I distanced myself from long ago when I took my oath to Ásatrú and its path.

To begin, let’s define the word shaman:

  • S: (n) shaman, priest-doctor (in societies practicing shamanism: one acting as a medium between the visible and spirit worlds; practices sorcery for healing or divination) (Noun-S: (n) shaman)
  • A person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of good and evil spirits, esp. among some peoples of northern Asia and North America. Typically such people enter a trance state during a ritual, and practice divination and healing.
  • Shamanism is an anthropological term referencing a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world. In areas where indigenous shamanism still thrives, there is a clear divide between “lay” people (who participate in and practice shamanic belief and tradition) and the professionals or specialists themselves. A lay practitioner of shamanism is not awarded any special title, as this is the norm within traditional societies. A shamanic professional, who is a highly-trained and very often spiritually selected individual, is sometimes known as a shaman. (Shamanism, 2011)

By the definitions above, it would almost be closer to matching the definition of a walker between worlds, as they seem to go into the spiritual realms as well. The fine line between them seems to be that they also practice additional things like divination or healing arts; this is where I find myself a bit more confused.

Although I do “walk between worlds”, I don’t necessarily use that information for divination and I don’t personally practice healing arts of any kind. I suppose I could infer mother’s intuition as a healing art, but it is purely subjective and only applies to my daughter. I have never been gifted with some hidden knowledge that helped anyone, really, and it is mostly just information that provides guidance for myself or others close to me towards various suggested goals. I often get messages or information conveyed that I relate to people but I don’t expect that information to cause them to run out and do anything. It is mostly just relating experiences that I have, and seeing if that matches something that they might have also experienced, or sometimes on occasion messages that gods left for me to gift others with tasks or goals. Again, it sounds like I am some sort of weird god-messenger, which is not true; but I know that not everyone travels to the gods, and sometimes these messages help people confirm some personal feeling that they are already having.

There is no way to relate my experiences without me coming across as an ego-filled person, but all I can assure people is that I am not that way. In fact I often resist, question or hold back information or experiences, because I don’t feel comfortable with a lot of this and it makes me question myself. People have mostly been open to hearing experiences that I have had, but I often worry that sharing this can make me look like some weird psycho. However, people who know me thankfully at least know that I am mentally stable, and therefore listen to me.

In turn, I hear their experiences, and on occasion can confirm those as being linked to ones that I have had, or at least that the experiences have sounded very genuine and truthful. I can see why people question these experiences, because as a rational person it is hard to believe this. But there it is; our brains are amazing machines that are capable of many things.

I was recently watching a documentary which speculated that people who have these experiences might have over-stimulated areas of their brain from extreme electronic frequencies or possibly magnetic fields, but it seems highly improbable that this would create a whole experience that is often shared by others, especially with others who might not even live in the same home, city or country. This seems to me like a typical scientific view, where the impossible is analysed to make it possible because the rational mind cannot fathom that there is/are real experiences going on.

I was sent to various webpages; some were helpful, others were not. It took a long time to narrow down any helpful information, and even when it was helpful, it still left me puzzled about the meaning of it all. There were strange and unusual pages that talked about many different experiences, including some personal details about sexual encounters that actually (funnily enough) matched some things that have happened to me. Again, this was an uncomfortable experience; it was strange to find out that it was not an uncommon occurrence. A shaman told me that there are times when events happen that are sexual in nature, because it is sometimes the only way to communicate through a place that is based on spiritual expression. The communication sometimes needs to be physical because it is the only way to teach certain principles. One of those principles is humility, and the other is submission.

Now I know that these two principles are going to be seen by others as seemingly not Heathen, but there are times when these lessons are more about forming the person into a working partner for the patron deity. Sometimes we need to bend slightly to the suggestion of our gods because they may be doing this for good reasons that are not yet known to us. To show our weakness is not necessarily a bad thing, and to know and be able to evolve is part of being human. For our gods to know intimate details about our life and our flaws enables them to help us grow and create trust. Trusting our gods is a large part of it, and this must be present before we can allow ourselves to travel to the Nine Worlds and participate in things that would be next to impossible without that trust.

(Reading some material on the subject of shamanism and alternative sexuality took me aback, because I am not an adventurous person in that area. I am pretty ordinary for the most part, not a cold fish but definitely not an extreme acrobat either. However, what people consider to be perverse is a broad spectrum, and just because I personally choose a sex life with my husband that involves more than one position, I could be seen as perverse by many who feel that missionary is the only correct position. I feel that in Heathenry, we are told to explore and in fact accept our own sexual nature, and be proud of who and what we are; is someone’s sexual activities anyone else’s business, really? Is gender anyone else’s issue, really? It is up to each to determine how they will actively achieve a passionate existence, and although I many not understand all the variations in life, I certainly respect the fact that I live in a diverse world where there is room for all kinds of sexuality. As long as no one is getting injured and all parties are in agreement, I feel there is no sense in judging something just because it is not something I would engage in. I don’t care what someone does in their own home, and if people take what they do as something perverse…well, I could say the same about my bedroom life!)

I read a few articles that at least seemed well-researched, and at least had explored the potential usage of shamanism in Heathenry, and were not trying to call it anything other than that. This was refreshing somehow … people who were not going to label you and tell you what it was you were practicing, and also people who were not at all afraid to openly express bizarre and explicit experiences about the gods, because they felt it was more important to share than to keep it to themselves.

As I grope around in hope of help, the same issues of not finding any help within my own Ásatrú community kept hounding me. How was I supposed to find any correlation when no one was talking about any experiences, because they were afraid to be labelled “fringe members”? Then I found the perfect match for me. I was lucky to befriend the ARFM (Ásatrú Ring Frankfurt and Midgard) and their philosophy of enlightened Ásatrú was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to be with a group that was spiritually centred, not caught up in the semantics of what you were doing, or how you got there, but instead focused on giving you a place to be openly spiritual without criticism, supporting others who had found the gods, and helping those struggling with spirituality a voice.

That led me to the place where I am now, of defining my own view of the whole thing, and perhaps coming up with my own set of standards and definitions that I feel suit me. This is in no way a view that everyone has to adopt. It just helped me come to terms with the fact that I was and am living with the gods, and that I needed to define my own idea of what I was doing to make it more concrete and real.

For me, I would like to define it as “god walking”, as I walk at night with gods (or to gods). Basically, when I sleep I spend a few hours at least nightly travelling within the Nine Worlds. I have a number of experiences that in theory could be related to normal night-time brain activity, but mostly seam surreal journeys that go beyond my normal mental imagination.

As a very practical and scientific person, I believe that my brain is capable of a great many things. However, whether it is capable of actually projecting whole and deep spiritual journeys that reveal important things to me is unclear. Sometimes I cannot tell if it is my subconscious creation or if it is the gods, but I would like to think that as a rational person, these things are real – weird, but real. The only reason I am sure of this is because I have investigated my own mental state, and know what I am and am not capable of. Despite the fact that I may have a vivid mind that creates a wonderful ability to write stories and poems, I still don’t think that I am so creative to create worlds within worlds – in fact, a whole separate universe that exists outside of myself – and imagine the seemingly realistic journeys that I have. I have mostly refrained from discussing all this for some time, as being referred to as a Heathen heretic was frankly odd! It is interesting to be a heretic in an already fringe path. Heathenry is already considered an odd and strange path to follow, so being on the fringe of fringe is strange to me.

But here I am ready to open myself up and reveal my own thoughts. I am sure that this might cause even more problems in my life, but it is my hope that perhaps people will stop lumping all Heathens into one pool, and condemning those that came to the gods honestly without any previous inclination of the possibility of this contact. It is my hope to show that some of us are not mentally unstable, and that shamanistic experiences do not equate to mental instability. The actions of shamans reflect real and documented methods that were in theory even practiced by the ancient Norse and Germanic peoples.

As we all know, much of the lore is very limited in its descriptions of what people did or did not do. It is difficult to accurately use the Eddas to condone or to refute shamans, as the documented accounts of these people were often written by visitors to the lands of the Norse, and or recorded very uncertainly in the lore. It is only through few modern authors that the evidence of shamans in the Norse culture was examined.

To a greater extent, we have to look at the world at large. From a sheer anthropological view, shamans were common in most ancient cultures; in fact, if all later cultures evolved from ancestors from any indigenous shamanic culture, it stands to reason that these cultures would have also had or at least known of the existence of shamans. In most indigenous cultures there are recorded tribal shamans, oracles, visionaries, medicine men, wise women and others. They even extend into fairy tales and folklore which was an expression of the world in which these people lived.

Of course, fairytales and folklore are both extremely altered stories, but they were based on knowledge from myths and extrapolated to explain basic concepts and give behavioural warnings to children. They must have expressed existing tales of the ancients, moral and educational stories that were changed and altered over the centuries to express these things to new generations. Obviously, the characters would have reflected the common people living at the time, but still common themes seem to exist throughout every culture.

What I was most surprised about is the overall confusion about the place of shamans in Heathenry, and in fact even the lack of a communal definition of it. I will espouse in this paper that I am 100% sure I am not practicing Seiðr, or at least not within the parameters and definitions of what the Heathen majority say that it is. I would say that what I am doing is closer to vision-work or intense dream-work. But again, I find definitions very irritating, because nothing defines your own experiences, and I will fight tooth and nail at being called a Seiðr worker.

Why do I say that? Well, perhaps I am naïve, but in the majority Heathen opinion, Seiðr (as it is recounted in Eric the Red’s Saga) is largely oracular work. In fact, the current use of Seiðr seems closer to the Greek ideal of oracular work than to what is mentioned in the lore. It is possible that even the lore has been influenced by the known oracles. According to Diana L Paxson:

Seiðr refers to various kinds of magical practice, including an act of divination or prophecy performed while in trance. (Paxson, 1993)

I would say that my dreams are rarely any kind of divinatory experience, nor are they prophetic. Also, this practice seems to have a lot of ritual surrounding it. This brings me to the understanding that I am not a Seiðr-worker. According to Yngona Desmond:

Returning again to the standardly applied definition of a shaman, “an intermediary or messenger between the human world and the spirit world; a person who acts as intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds”. Let me state simply what a true shaman does – an individual who is culturally attuned to the spiritual roots of their folkway – and so therefore a true Seiðfolk. They are intermediaries between the human community and the larger ecological field. They ensure that there is a felicitous flow of nourishment from local land, sea, and sky back to human folk. For through their vigilant observation of celestial and terrestrial tides, Sitting-out, and accessing of Wyrd Consciousness, Seiðfolk ensure that the relationship between the Old Ways and modern ways, the Above and Below Worlds and Middle World, the Past and Future and the Present, the human and the wights of nature, all remain composed and reciprocal. In this way, the tribe never takes more from the land, sea, and sky than it gifts to it – materially and prayerfully, and with gratitude and praise. (Desmond, 2011)

I don’t see myself in the above definition either. For one my folkway is not clear. Folkway according to The Free Dictionary: “A practice, custom, or belief shared by the members of a group as part of their common culture. Often used in the plural.” (The Free Dictionary, 2011)

Well, what that means is that I would have to be practicing something from my own birth culture, which by the way is next to impossible as a born Canadian. There is no culture in a multi-cultural country, where we have mixed cultures from all parts of the Globe. There is no unique Canadian practice, unless you are an Aboriginal or Native Canadian and have direct – and I am mean very direct – descendants that are considered part of the Aboriginal groups within Canada. So I feel that I cannot claim any connection to any specific ancestral folkway. Personally, I have fairly shady records of ancestry; we apparently have English and Scottish background but also supposed links to Norway and Italy. For all I know I could potentially have Romany ancestry too, but because I have no real records of family past my grandfather’s I was left with no answers there. Even when records were produced that showed some ties to certain culture, they sort of all ended around the Tudor period and anything prior is pure speculation. Although I am still trying to locate my ancestors to finally find my past, I can only work with the limits of what I currently know.

So let me say that I have no real and clear way to acknowledge an ancestral folkway, I also don’t understand this “attention to the land” thing. I don’t see the two related unless you look at the connection between Seiðr and Freyja, who would be a fertility goddess and therefore practicing her art would be a connection to nature in a way. But then I also struggle to understand what Freyja’s magic really is.

I personally don’t feel that connected to the Vanir, no offense to them … I just don’t find myself connected to land necessarily at all. This is odd because I suppose, as a Heathen, it seems like a core component, but I am just not a person who could spend hours outdoors. I enjoy brief interludes with nature and sometimes camp, but usually in very plush “luxury” camping where I have certain conveniences, and comfortable areas to limit my “nature experience”. I am not a lover of outdoor critters, either; especially spiders as I have an intense fear and allergic reaction to them.

Working with mostly only Æsir gods led me to two People who knew a lot about shamanism/spiritual journey work: Frigga and Odin. In fact, these two seem to be very connected to these things, which is not really surprising when you look at Odin. It was a bit surprising to me when I discovered that Frigga knew about them as well, but I suppose in the grand scheme of things what gods know should not be a surprise to me.

Because I am not connected to the land, most of the ancestors, or the Vanir, perhaps I am not even a shaman? Are these prerequisites? Shamans connected with “spirits”, but this does not seem specific to ancestors; I suppose they could be ancestral spirits, but it does not specifically state that this has to be so. Of course, it also does not mention that they are connected to any specific deity either.

There is another confusing problem with the definition:

Very little is preserved in the lore regarding the methods used by a seiðkona (female practitioner, usually translated as “witch;” also seiðmaðr) or by the more rare seiðkarl (male practitioner). But we do know of three important details: (1) the use of a platform or high seat during the performance of enchantment; (2) the recitation of chants to enlist the aid of spirits; and (3) activities which were considered ergi (sexually shameful, esp. passive homosexuality). It is these three characteristics that have caused many writers to compare seiðR practices to the shamanism of other nations. This is an incorrect assumption. Although some elements of the shamanic complex are present in the lore, most notably faring forth in animal form to gain information or to do battle, they are specifically not associated with seiðR. Egil’s Saga accuses GunnhildR of being a hamhleypa (body-leaper) when she comes in swallow-shape to distract Egil from his poetry (ch. 59), but not of practicing seiðR.

The word “seiðR” is never used in conjunction with any sort of shape-shifting or out-of-body travel, let alone for journeys to one of the other worlds. Further, “seiðR” is never used for healing, soul-retrieval, or guiding the dead; nor is there any evidence that a seiðkona underwent any sort of traumatic initiation typical of shamanism. – Robin Artisson

This is confusing, because many of the writers about seið specifically refer to the aspects of healing and working for the community at large. The work seems to vary depending on the author in question. However, in my searching I came across a very old article about it that made me again question why we have to bottle everything by a term that is not correctly being used in the first place.

Further, “seiðR” is never used for healing, soul-retrieval, or guiding the dead; nor is there any evidence that a seiðkona underwent any sort of traumatic initiation typical of shamanism. Moreover, practitioners of seiðR fail to demonstrate the amazing physical capabilities characteristic of shamans: the ability to avoid injury by extreme temperatures; resistance to cuts by knives or pins; or the ability to demonstrate incredible feats of physical control. – Robin Artisson

Again, this article seems to be revealing a hidden truth: nothing that most people are doing is close to what the ancient practice of Seiðr would have been, because no one really knows what it was or is, or how it was used. It seems more tied to knowing fate or having some small glimpse into fate:

We seiðfolk do what we do because we have no choice! It is what we have been dealt by the Nornir. We don’t “seethe” because it might be “fun”, we seethe” because we must! – Bill Linzie

In my own opinion, this seems to be more tied to the Norns than to any other god, so therefore it is why I cannot in good conscience define myself by that name. I am not glimpsing Fate, I am just travelling around. I have had some encounters with the Norns on a few occasions, but it was not about finding out about fate; just about matters that seem to be limited to specific people and or myself. It never seems that they are the ones bringing me anywhere, but that my journey just follows dictation by other gods/goddesses.

 Perhaps in the background plot the Norns are theoretically pulling the strings. I am sometimes baffled by the extreme focus on Freyja as the predominant one who trains the seiðkarl (male practitioner of seið) or seiðkona (female practioner of seið) because it feels like she would be the last one to put anyone through a series of trials since there is not much in her history about any periods of endurance as we see in the case of Odin. Yes, Freyja did in fact sleep with dwarves to obtain her necklace, and possibly suffered if she in fact was the one burned as Gullveig, but that is still not solidly certain. Even if she was in fact Gullveig, the truth behind shamans going through a trial of sorts by fire is there….

Gullveig is a being who was speared by the Æsir, burnt three times, and yet thrice reborn. Upon her third rebirth, Gullveig’s name becomes Heiðr and she is described as a knowledgeable and skillful völva. Gullveig/Heiðr is solely attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional material. Scholars have variously proposed that Gullveig/Heiðr is the same figure as the goddess Freyja, that Gullveig’s death may have been connected to corruption by way of gold among the Aesir, and/or that Gullveig’s treatment by the Æsir may have led to the Æsir-Vanir War. – Wikipedia

It seems to be a common thread in shamanism itself – outside of the seið definitions – that there is always an initiation of sorts. In many ways this could be applied to Heathenry, because it could be the moment we are aware that the gods are there, the moment that we become Heathen, or just the self-acceptance of our own abilities. It can be any movement from one place to the next, part of the evolution of self that occurs as we become more aware of our gods.

To pass between the worlds usually involves some kind of catharsis; an upheaval, trial or test. The necessary disruption seems to be the ‘trigger’ for the plunge. (Hine, 1998)

However, this aspect is not part of seið, which is sort of odd when you consider that some of the gods who are related to crafts similar to shamanism go through trials of all kinds. It makes me wonder why seið practices seem to have removed that component. Perhaps it was not written about well enough, or it could be just that people who practiced it or wrote about it did not know if there was a process of becoming a practicing seið worker. I would imagine that information was probably reserved for those that were studying that art, or kept only for those that were part of the inner circle. At least that is my personal assumption, since we know that not everyone in the ancient northern world knew about runes, or how to use runes, as it was reserved for certain people.

I would assume that there was the same protocol for teaching any art. It was fairly common in many cultures to have secret societies where only those members knew about what exact process was required; otherwise there would have been a world full of practitioners. These were areas where knowledge was only gifted to those who put themselves into the hands of current experts for training. So it stands to reason that we have no idea if there was an initiation of sorts, or some catharsis which defined that person as a seið person.

According to SHAMANISM AND THE IMAGE OF THE TEUTONIC DEITY ÓÐINN by Asbjørn Jøn:

To enact the ritual, Óðinn hung himself on Yggdrasill for nine nights, during which he received neither food nor wine. He also pierced himself with the point of a spear. Upon the completion of this ritual, Óðinn was able to recognise the runes and make them submit to him as their Rune-Master. This myth corresponds with the shamanist initiation rites of a number of peoples. Pipping has noted the similarity of the ordeal to the initiation rite of Finnish shaman (Pipping 1928). A similar technique is also used by shaman in Nepal. In Nepal, at the moment of a shaman’s spiritual birth, they are required to tree-sit in a pine, which is regarded as being symbolic of the Tree of Life. During this period the initiates are left by themselves and are forbidden to eat; yet the rest of their tribe conducts a public feast. The initiated shaman is also blindfolded for the ritual.

The fasting element is also common amongst shamanic initiations, with perhaps the most obvious parallel being the fasting of the Caribou Eskimo initiate shaman (see Rasmussen 1927: 82–85). We can also compare the moment of Óðinn discovering the runes, to the climax of the Siberian shaman’s initiation. We have been told that at this moment: he [/—/ obtains] the flash or illumination – a mysterious light which the shaman suddenly feels in the interior of his head. He is now able to discern things hidden from other human beings (Hunkin 1987: 678).

If, as Asbjørn Jøn theorises, Odin is one of the key shaman gods, it is possible that many shamans followed similar ordeals in order to become a shaman. So it seems that once again the split between the two practices is fairly clear. Perhaps those practicing seið, if they are in fact following Freyja instead of Odin, would not have an ordeal path or any initiation ritual either, as Freyja has no real documented ordeal associated with her. In addition, the largest part of seið practice is the ritual aspect, which again seems to deviate from my own organic experience.

From: “The Return of the Völva: Recovering the Practice of Seidh by Diana L. Paxson”:

  • The first step is purification with the smoke of sacred herbs
  • The leader or householder then defines the space to be used for the ceremony.
  • One or more of the participants may orient and balance the group by honoring the directions and the local nature spirits.
  • Finally, the gods in general and those deities particularly associated with seidh are invoked.
  • With each step, the group moves deeper into the world of Norse myth.
  • By the time the journeying begins, everyone should be caught up by the momentum of the ceremony.

The second ritual mentioned is from Freyja’s Home by John McClenny

It can be as simple as a circle drawn in red chalk on your basement floor to as complex as you want it to be but use it. Dedicate or consecrate it each time you use…. Gather your tools and trace the circle either clockwise or counter-clockwise as you desire while standing inside. Most of the left-hand right-hand influence in magic is a recent…the Runes are complex enough to express any concept we are able to comprehend without flipping them about…the circle should be large enough for you to lie down with arms extended without overlapping the edge and to accommodate any tools you have with you. Around the inside edge inscribe no less than three, preferably nine, Yr runes (AKA Elhaz) pointing outward from the center. If you’re not familiar with runes, take the time to learn and meditate on Fe, Thur, Ass, Yr, Sol and Ehwaz. These six runes will get you through most situations but a working knowledge of all the runes is to be desired….its important to have a clear mental picture of exactly what you intend to accomplish during any Seidr working and to use whatever symbols you need to accomplish your task. In this respect a working knowledge of Runecraft is very helpful. You can use that knowledge to inscribe your circle with the necessary protection and direction you need. It’s not essential but highly recommended….when the circle is drawn and your inscriptions complete lie down in the center with your working tools close by. With eyes closed visualize a forest path beginning at the edge of your circle.

There are discussions about how the use of a high seat or raised platform is used; however I don’t particularly find that my experiences have to be so planned. In fact they are often random and unpredictable, sometimes ranging from one or two days to months at a time, and I don’t seem at all to be able to control them or tell them to stop.

In fact I remember laughing profusely at the suggestion that I had the control over these experiences; that I could tell the gods where to shove it! I frankly felt that this person obviously did not understand what happens when one begins to form a deep relationship with gods that goes beyond friends, and becomes one that leaves you to trust them so deeply that saying no just does not come naturally.

For me shamanism was a more natural word; it described the fact that I was “walking” between worlds – in fact, on occasion riding, running and boating around The Nine Worlds. It seems to be a disservice to many to force them to accept the word seið, just because it is more Norse and more Heathen. I find it kind of irritating because I feel that the gods don’t need me to speak another language. I believe heavily that they can understand English, although I will say that sometimes conversations involving me are often spoken in another language. However, that reminds me of human parents who have a secret code language that they can use around the kids in order to talk about things like birthday presents. I think the gods are the same; if there is some plan they don’t want you to know about, or something that they want to say but don’t necessarily want you to hear, it would make sense for them to speak in their native tongue.

For me, personally, I don’t care how anyone wants to label me, but I know that I am not a seið worker at all. I am more or less comfortable with shaman, walker, or just plain Mist, because frankly labels are for me less of a reward then the life of living close to the gods. I encourage others to read all the materials available, even if they are not from Heathen sources, to see what meshes with your own view. I will also be posting my dream journal for those who want to read about my experiences and see if they match up to your own.

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Title: Heathen Shaman, A Practical Look into Seiðr, Norse Shamanism and trying to make sense of it all!

Published by: Fog World Publications

By Mist, a.k.a. Larisa Hunter of Kenaz Kindred

Edited by: Raven Kaldera

Written on July 7th, 2011

Free to distribute according to Kenaz Kindred’s Common Domain Policy

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About The Author: Mist, Gyðja of Kenaz Kindred, has been practicing Ásatrú for over nine years. After dedicating herself to the path, she created a kindred of her own: incorporating both spiritual experiences and historical practices into her teaching programs. Her rituals created a unique form of heathenry that allows for deep and meaningful connection with the gods. Mist lectures at many heathen and pagan festivals in Canada. She has also written for several other books. Most of her day is spent writing and caring for her toddler and running Kenaz Kindred.

Recently Mist became the Publicity Rep for Immanion Press and also published a book with them, her book Fulltrúi, Patrons in Ásatrú is now available to purchase from Immanion Press.

Purchase Book here: http://www.immanion-press.com/info/book.asp?id=406&referer=Catalogue  or directly from Kenaz Kindred’s Amazon Shop: http://kenaz.ca/kindred-menu/amazon-shop

Full Bio here: http://www.immanion-press.com/info/person.asp?id=97&type=author

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4 Responses

  1. Thank You Karl! And thanks to Penton for the post 🙂 I am just getting back from surgery, so I hope to return to my writting soon, but I really appreciate the comment! I found myself very flustered when talking with others about my dream life and did not find much ‘help’ in heathenry. I do agree with Karl it is so difficult to explain to others 🙂

  2. Hardy says:

    I totally agree with Karl,thank you for this wonderful post.Taka care

  3. Karl Andresson says:

    Wow, what a fantastic and informative article Larisa.

    There is a lot of semantics and ‘factionalism’ going on in heathenry, that is why personally I don’t ditance myself from all the varying views as I believe that they all have merit to some degree and that there is no one ‘true and right’ way. So, I have made up my own mind as to what heathenry is all about – and I am happy with it.

    Others will disagree, and I feel that those who do disagree have not had these intense personal experiences like yours (and to an extent mine)and cannot really express an opinion on it. Similair to trying to explain swimming in the ocean to someone who has only swam in a kiddy pool.

    very well written and referenced Larisa, I am looking forward to your next post with eager relish.

    Hail!

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