|Oberlin Opera Theater's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". 2007|
November 15, 2011
November 10, 2011
Völva from Fredrik Sander's 1893 Swedishedition of the Poetic Edda
Seid, or seiðr in Old Norse, or seidhr, seidh, seidr, seithr, or seithis in its anglicized versions, is a type witchcraft associated with women belonging to the pagan culture of the Norse in pre-Christian times. Mythologically, in the Ynglinga saga, written in 1225, it is stated that Freyja – the goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and war – is the one who introduces seid to the Æsir (the first gods), when she and the Vanir (the second gods) join pantheons. An example of seid magic appears in Völuspá, the first poem of the Poetic Edda, written sometime in the 10th or early 11th century; it depicts a vision of the creation of the world, and its approaching end as narrated by a völva addressing Odin – the ruler god. Mainly known by its Icelandic term, a völva, or vǫlva in Old Norse, or vala in English, was a type of female prophet/shaman throughout Norse paganism. Alternatively, the term spákona or spækona were also used to describe a practitioner of spá (prophecy). Völvas were workers of various forms of indigenous magic and divination; most importantly, völvas were famous for being seiðkonas – practitioners of seid. By analyzing the the mythology, archeology, and sociology of the North, one can try to conceptualize what this mysterious form of witchcraft known as seid was all about.