What is Seidhr?

Seidhr (pronounced “sayth” or “seethe”) is a traditional form of visionary soul-magic native to Northern and Central Europe.


Seidhr means “to spin” or “seethe”, as in a bubbling cauldron. It involves deep empathy, mediumship and trance work, healing, spirit-travel and communication. Mastered by the Goddess Freyja, taught to Odin, and found throughout ancient lore in the form of history, saga and myth, seidhr is still practiced today by both the Saami people and modern pagans. Historically practiced by Norse holy women known as volva or seidhkona, seidhr was traditionally powerful women’s magic– but can also be performed by men. It is closely related to Siberian practices, but focuses primarily on Gods, ancestors and webs of energy and fate. If you have ever changed something in a lucid dream (or been someone else in a vivid dream), you have unknowingly performed seidhr.

The more familiarly known Druids and some Icelanders had similar practices called utiseta (“sitting out”, covered up in a sacred or secluded place, often a burial mound, seeking a vision and communication with spirits), and use of the imbas forasnai— “the light of foresight” to see the future in visions or trance.

Seidhr can be used to meet and draw closer to the Gods and beloved ancestors, build friendly bonds with nature spirits, develop spiritually, heal and clear energies, and to inquire and receive advice about the web of fate (a practice called spae, often seen during a high-seat trance session).

One of the direct references to seidhr in Norse myth comes from the ancient Icelandic poem Skirnismal, in which the God Frey sits in the kingly “high seat”, glimpses the radiant Goddess Gerd in the Underworld, a place he cannot leave to visit himself, and becomes brooding and lovesick until they can be united. Another, from the Prose Edda, involves Loki borrowing  Freyja’s magical falcon cloak, in order to travel to the realm of the Giants in the form of a hawk. In the poem Voluspa, near the dawn of time, a Goddess called as Gulveig (“the gold drink” aka Mead– another title of Freyja) traveled the world teaching women the art of seidhr after a rigorous initiation.

The best way to learn is the old way: directly from the Gods.


For more information on how to practice seidhr, please follow my column “One-Eyed Cat” in Witches and Pagans magazine and read the companion blog at PaganSquare

Questions?

Feel free to contact me here or at staffandcup[at]gmail[dot]com for more information on performing trance work safely.

E-mail Shirl