Seidr Shamans played a very important role in Norse society. These enigmatic beings were known for their unusual powers and they were credited with the ability to alter destiny.
Beings who mastered Seidr were therefore as much feared as respected by people and even the Norse gods themselves. Importantly, it could also be used for the opposite of these things — to curse an individual or an enterprise; to blight the land and make it barren; to induce illness; to tell false futures and thus to set their recipients on a road to disaster; to injure, maim and kill, in domestic disputes and especially in battle.
Some objects inside the grave that suggest she was a Norse shaman. Scientists discovered an intriguing metal wand and seeds from the poisonous henbane plant inside her tomb. The term Seidr originated from the ritual of the Norse to boil salt, which also happens to be a purification rite.
Female shamans were religious leaders of the Viking community and they were usually required to invoke their deities, gods or spirits, often before Viking warriors went to war. Norse shamans were said to possess the ability to shapeshift, send nightmares to people, and alter destiny.
What does it take to do a strong clear Seidr, respecting the tradition? The ritual structure of Seidr consists of magic song, staff, and a ritual seat. It is the combination of all three elements, used in a shamanic way, that gives the unique quality of Seidr.
Our only written sources are bits and pieces in the mythical Edda-poems, and the sagas from late Viking age and early middle ages. The eddic poems and the sagas mostly mention women as practitioners of Seidr, but this might have been different at an earlier age. Seidr is much older than both the written sources and the Vikings.
Most likely, its roots are in iron age fertility cults and early shamanism, and the tradition thus a lifespan of more than a thousand years. The old texts only offer us glimpses of the practice in its latest days, and clearly it must have undergone many changes through its long life. The people who have summoned her to help solve the problems of illness and bad hunting luck in their settlement, surround her singing the seidr song.
There we must imagine how she meets with spirits, divine beings or nature forces, asking for help on behalf of the suffering community, but the saga is silent on this intimate part of the ritual. Her task completed, she signals the song to end.
Whether an act is harmful or helpful is determined by the intent of the practitioner, not by the method.
Seidr was practiced for many generations in Scandinavia, Britain and Europe amongst the Norse and Germanic people prior to the Icelandic writings. Vikings likely brought Seidr to Britain and surely British woman taken back to Scandinavia and Iceland by the Vikings embraced the Seidr wise woman tradition. Seidr incorporates shamanic journeying, with the use of song and staff to empower it.
It was and is practiced for healing, for divination, for shape shifting, for weather-working, for herbal lore work, and for oracular communion with compassionate spirit beings for the purpose of helping communities and individuals.
Seidr is powerful, direct and very versatile. Below are some of the things I offer. Let me know if you have any questions.