The spirits have told me that I am some sort of oracle healer over the years as I’ve learned to channel their messages. As I’ve continued to learn more about my heritage and the practices of old Norse traditions it is clear that I am a Völva in the making…– Rae Reinhartz Weds May 20 422p EST
What is a Völva
A Völva was a woman in the Viking age who practiced magic, known as Seidr (in old Norse seiðr), the word Seidr literally means ”to bind”. A Völva often had a very special role within the society and would often have close ties with the leaders of her clan. You could call a Völva/Vǫlva a spiritual leader or healer in the Nordic society.
A Völva or as it is pronounced in old Norse a Vǫlva (in Danish a ”Vølve”), is what we in English would call a Seeress. You could compare it to someone who practiced shamanism or witchcraft. So a Völva is a Nordic version of a shaman or witch, that practiced magic. The Völva in the Viking age were the predecessors of the medieval witches, so you could say, they were witches before it became cool. A Völva is not something that just dates back to the Viking age, a Völva is, in fact, very ancient, and their roots go back more than 2.000 – 3.000 years.
A Völva often wore colorful dresses and carried a beautiful decorated staff or wand. The staff or wand was an important accessory in the carrying out Seidr.
The staff was very important to the Völva, her staff was actually so important to her that the word Völva probably means staff or wand carrier.
The magic (Seidr/Seiðr) of the Völva was both feared and hated by the Church, in fact, the Church banned the use of staffs and wands, the use of magic and the heathen altars. The practice of heathendom or the use of magic was punished by death, and the Church would show no mercy to anyone who got caught.
The people were afraid of a Völva because she possessed a lot of power and the knowledge of magic. A Völva would not always live a long life, the practice of magic was dangerous and moving back and forth between dimensions/realms, had many unforeseen consequences.
A Völva could talk with spirits
A Völva could put herself into a trance, were she could to talk with the spirits around her, the Völva herself at the ritual would sing a song, for the spirits to the sound of drums, the purpose of the song was to lure or attract the spirits to their ritual. If the spirits were pleased with the song they would help the Völva in predicting the future or seeing the past.
Seidr Witchcraft in the Viking age
The practice of Seidr was mostly used to do good and help the people, and Seidr was not just used in rituals to contact the spirits, it was also used on daily basis, it could be used to heal wounds, create happiness or to control the weather.
But the practice of Seidr could also be used in a more sinister way, what we today would call black magic. Seidr could be used to put a curse on a person or make someone deadly ill. Seidr could also be used to bind the will of the warriors in a battle, make them slow, disoriented, and in that way indirectly be guilty of their death.