Seiðr: Past and Present

Seiðr (pronounced “SAY-ther” in Reconstructed Old Norse) is a shamanic-magical tradition that was practiced in pre-Christian Northern Europe, primarily in the Germanic and Norse regions. Practitioners of seiðr were called völur (plural of völva), given the interpretive translation “staff-carriers”, or alternatively seiðmann (seiðr-man) or seiðkona (seiðr-woman). There are 24 accounts of seiðr in medieval Norse literary sources (update: there are more, an up-coming resource by Maria Kvilhaug will compile the references). Based on these accounts, völur would travel between villages and serve as oracles by sitting on a an elevated seat; a ceremonial platform or the high seat of a hall. From this seat the völva would enter a trance state and speak to the community.