Book: Seidr Magic by Ed RichardsonOf all the reconstructed systems of archaic magickal practice, Seidr seems to be one of the most misunderstood. This is partly because of its sinister reputation, and partly because of sexist notions that only women ever practised divination. All too often Seidr is mistaken for the craft of the Volva, where in reality (if such a notion is useful) the Volvas were only part of a far wider practice. In order to make sense of the collection of beliefs and practices which make up Seidr, some definitions shall be considered, followed by a look at some of the practices involved and their implications. This whole essay shall illustrate examples found in the myths of Northern Europe.
Seidr literally means 'seething' or 'boiling' and has much in common with shamanism and other forms of primitive magick. Indeed it is highly likely that Seidr is an adaptation of shamanic practices to suit the culture and times, when primitive society evolved discovering religion, agriculture and metallurgy. However, Seidr is not a religious practice; it is a magickal practice which is where some of its sinister reputation originates. Jan Fries explains that the Seidr magickians would sell their craft, which makes them something akin to occult mercenaries. Its use is always pragmatic and is reflected as such in the myths. The myths play a vital role in understanding Northern magick as they show how the Aesir, Vanir, Giants and Humanity used magick to deal with problems, hinting at techniques that may be useful today.
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