Seidr

28 Mar

seidfrau

Seidr is a norse pagan practice of magic related to shamanism. Since we know very little of it, we can speculate and revise and revive it however we feel intuitively compelled to do so.

Some might see the practice of Seidr in the hypnotic chanting around a fireplace. Voices raise together in song to invoke a particular energy. Others go into deep trances to seek answers and healing, much like native shamans practice around the world still today. Others see Seidr in the ritual invocation of the gods of the north. Still others might see Seidr as part of their practice with runes.

An interesting feature of the word Seidr could lie in its etymological roots. The word is perhaps related to the German term “Saite”, which means string or cord. The term “silver cord” is known in the esoteric school of thought as the cord which connects the spiritual, etheric self which wonders the astral realm to the body, so that the astral body may return safely. Does this term have something to do with that?

Did early Seidr practitioners astrally travel to seek answers and healing? They probably did, if we compare them with the native cultures that practice shamanism today. Before modern medicine existed, people went to healers in order to get well. The healers had to seek answers in the spiritual realm to treat their patients appropriately. Manly P Hall writes in his book, “The Secret Teachings of the Ages” that native shamans would put themselves into a trance state, and then walk the forest seeking answers. When  a particular plant began to glow, the shaman knew that this was the correct plan to use in treatment for the person who had come to them. Many folk medicines are known in the greater Germanic region. In Germany, St. John’s Wort has been used for a long time, as many other herbs have been. How did they get the knowledge that this plant could have a healing effect?

Seidr is also associated with women, although men sometimes also practised it. Women are usually thought of in the Indo-European regions, to have been the ones gathering the herbs, making the medicines that the villagers sought. They were usually the ones thought of as “witches” and burnt or hung during the witch hunts which took place throughout Europe. Why? They were seen as wielding dangerous magic.

It was Freyja who taught Oden, the shamanic god of sacrifice, Seidr. What exactly did she teach him? Here, we also see a woman in the main role of passing on the wisdom of a deep, esoteric practice.

Whatever we choose to interpret into the word “Seidr” there remains much to know, whether we are reading about others’ experience and interpretation of the practice, or whether we are using the inspiration that the word sparks to delve deeper into our own hidden realms. We can gain more insight by going inwards than we can by looking to the outer world for answers, so surely the key to understanding the shaman is to go inward.

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