How to Survive a

Spae/Seidhr Session

 

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Note from Jordsvin: I've fussed and I've cussed.  For some reason, this text, emailed to me by Rod, won't let me use AOL Press to put spaces in it.  Hope you can follow it anyway; it's excellent!

 

This is what I wrote to explain what I do. It refers to me and my Kindred. Enjoy and distribute as long as I'm acknowledged as the writer.

 

Rod Landreth
Spaemather and Godhi of Yggdrasil Springs of the Kansas City Metro Area Kindred

 

    In Heathenry, the closest we get to formal magical workings beyond Galderwork with the Runes is Seidhr (pronounced Sayth). Current theories are that this was the Art Freya taught to Odhinn in the guise of Gullveig, as spoke of in the Voluspa in the Poetic Edda. We know very little about how Seidhr was done save for a few mentions of it in several Sagas. Our most detailed account is found in the "Eiriks saga Raudha" where the Seidhkona Thorbjorg arrives in a village to help the people to figure out a way to get out of a devastating drought. The account goes into details about; her clothing, her staff, her preparations for the rite, the building of seidhhjallr (High-seat), that the people gathered in a circle, that a song was sung that helped her into trance and that she assisted the village by speaking to spirits and looking at the Orlog of the people.

 

    Other mentions in the Sagas are little more than "and Seidhr was performed," but there are some common elements such as the wearing of a hooded cloak, the High-seat and that the rite was performed at night. The rite that will be performed is based on these references with some things brought in from other shamanic crafts (mostly Finnish and Lappish sources) to fill in some gaps.

 

    In modern Heathenry, this rite is performed by only a few trained people and is used to assist all the Folk of the Aesir and Vanir. It is moving, and at times, very powerful and emotional. What follows is what my Kindred does derived from various teachers and ways that I have experienced Seidhr. Winifred Hodge, an experienced Siedhkona and my teacher, and I follow a very similar procedure which differs mainly with the fact that she likes to sing a 10 minute song and I don't. While the method I use is Seidhr, I specifically do what is called Spae. Spae is considered by many modern heathens as a "branch" of Seidhr. Often times they are used interchangeably, but they are different concepts. Spae is very simply Old Norse for "See" (also current Icelandic) and that is what I do, See. I do not "prophesy" but rather my skills are more oracular, meaning when you ask me a question I look along your lifeskein in the Well of the Wyrd itself. I can't perceive all of that skein, the God/desses can see more than me, but all of it can only be observed by the Norns (Wyrd, Verdandi and Skuld). Your questions allow me to focus on one particular set of strands. Then all there is to do is follow the largest "path" along that strand. I look at things as a percentage. Sometimes that path is blatant (over 80%) other times it's not quite so clear.

 

    That's when I ask questions to the querant. There is an infinity of paths. Some are entirely implausible but still possible. Since to my perception, everything happens from the "Now" and goes into the "What is becoming" and into the "What could be," it's constantly changing. I can only see the highest probable answer to your question based off what is happening in your life right now. This may change in a week or even a day, as things are constantly changing based off what happens to you at any given second. This process of looking along your lifeskein and telling what is seen is called "Spae." Seidhr, on the other hand, is much broader and more difficult to define. It deals in the realms of Spirit and Soul. Through its uses, one can manipulate parts of the Spirit and Soul of a person, place or group. The sagas tell us this much, and usually this manipulation was negative. It also allows one to converse with the Spirits of our ancestors in Hel itself resulting in a similar thing to the Spae above (essentially the Spirit relays the information to the Seidhkona instead of the Spaekona looking at the strands themselves).  So what is occurring is that practitioners are using Seidhr to get into the Nine Worlds on the World Tree of Yggdrasil. From there, they either travel to Hel to converse with the Spirits of our ancestors (Full Seidhr) or go to the Well of the Wyrd and observes the skeins and strands (Spae) of a persons Orlog.

 

Here is what our Kindred does in a Spae/Seidhrworking:

(Primary Participants: Seer/ess(es), Guide(s), and Warder(s)):
 

1. Give brief explanation of what will be going on, who are participating and to answer any questions anyone might have.
2. Call to Thor to Ward the Stead and those within. We also call to Heimdal mainly due to the fact that one of my Warders is dedicated to him.
3. Invoke the Deities of Seidhr and Spae (Freya, Odhinn and Frigga).
4. Call to the ancestors and landveattir to watch and give guidance to those assembled.
5. Call to my warding beasts (help-mates, totems, Fylgia or familiars, all
the same concept.)
6. A chanting of Runes to strengthen the Warding around the Stead. This is utilizing the other branch of "magick" in Heathenry called Galdorwork.
7. Seer/ess gets in whatever will be the High-seat.
8. Using guided meditation, The Guide takes the Folk through the Nine Worlds to either the Gates of Hel (Full Seidhr) or to the Well of Wyrd under Yggdrasil (Spae).
9. To assist the Seer/ess into trance, a song is sung. This is based on a Medieval Norwegian tune.

Seer/ess know thy way through the worlds thou must win
Farther and faster and deeper within
Fare onward, ever onward ever onward...

This is usually sung three times. On the last verse you sing the third line repeatedly until it gets quieter and you cannot hear it anymore. Once you get the tune please join in and focus your energy towards the Worker on the High-seat, for this is often the most arduous part of the journey.

 
10. Once the Seer/ess is entranced, the Guide asks what they are experiencing.
11. Once the Seer/ess announces that they are ready the Guide asks people to come forward and ask questions. See below on the "Do's and Don'ts of Asking Questions."
12. Depending upon the Seer/ess' strength, the Guide may ask how he/shefares after three to five questions. This will go on till the Seer/ess grows tired or there are no more questions to be asked.
13. To assist the Seer/ess in returning, a different song is sung:

Now the vision vanishes,
The well's waters are still,
The body's bonds do call you back
With wisdom ruled by will

CHORUS The way that you did learn
We call you to return....

Behold your bodies patient wait
To welcome well your soul,
Sink down and enter safely in,
For now you are made whole.

CHORUS The way that you did learn
We call you to return....

As before on the last line, repeat three times going softer and softer until you cannot hear any more.

14. Usually at this time, the Warders rush over to the Seer/ess and assist where and how they can.  Some Seer/esses are cold, hot, hungry, thirsty or any number of things. Always the Worker is a little disoriented.
15. The Guide at this point again settles everyone and a guided meditation is done, except it is in reverse at
this point.  Once this is completed, it is best to raise the light (if possible) to get people back "into themselves."
16. We thank the God/desses, ancestors, landvaettir and other Spirits for their assistance and guidance.
17. The Rite is ended. Everyone is encouraged to drink some water and perform whatever is needed to ground. I always recommend that if any one feels light-headed or otherwise "not all here" to seek either a Warder or go see the Seidhr/Spaekona...

 

The duties and positions of the Seidhr/Spae rite:

 

    The primary roles in this rite are the Warders, The Guide and the Seer/ess themselves. Each has an important duty to perform and must be respected in those positions for everything to go smoothly. This is a very magickal act and one that can leave even the most experienced person a bit off center. So please listen to what is said to you and follow to the best of your ability.

 

The Warder(s):

 

    The role of these hardy individuals is three-fold: keep everyone together and not let anyone go wandering, either physically or spiritually, keep whatever is not wanted (physically and otherwise) out and away from the group and lastly, to make sure that whatever is inside the rite itself stays there. They stem the tide of letting energies "leak" out to disrupt anything outside the rite itself. These individuals must keep one foot in this world and one foot in the other realm, a difficult task and one that takes skill to maintain. You may see them moving about nudging people to see if all is okay and giving them water or talking them back to "into" themselves. They are a cautious lot and take their roles very seriously. No matter what training or experience you have in other traditions, please don't go wandering in the Nine Worlds. This is so that the Seer/ess and Warders can focus on the task at hand and not on where you are going. If you need to leave for any reason, seek one of the Warders out and have them "check you out" and sort of bring you back in alignment with the "normal" world. It could prevent any unnecessary problems in the future. Because of the nature of this rite many other kinds of training simply does not work as you would expect or actually makes things more difficult for you as your "self" is moved in a different "angle" than in many other teachings. Seidhr is not wholly Shamanic nor is it Ceremonial but a melding of the two, with some other elements thrown in, so please, if you feel strange or not centered go to a Warder for assistance.

 

The Guide(s):

  

    This is the person that usually sits directly beside the High-seat of the Seer/ess. They perform the very important service of directing questioners and seeing if all is going well with the Seer/ess. It is usually they that lead the assembled in a guided meditation to and from the base of the World Tree. Depending on the Seer/ess they may be the only person to sing the trance song or they may lead the group in singing the song. Either way, they are the one that makes sure that the Seer/ess is indeed prepared to accept questions and that everything is OK. When they ask the group who wishes to ask a question, raise your hand or otherwise indicate to the Guide you wish to speak. Don't go jumping up as the Guide may not be finished. There are certain ritual phrases that must to be said to sort of "reset" the Seer/ess after each person has asked their question(s). Wait until the Guide gestures you forward before you speak to the Seer/ess. It is also these people that make sure all is well with the Seer/ess. The business of oracular trancework is a tiring one. Therefore, the Guide makes sure that the Seer/ess has enough water, comfort, or whatever the Seer/ess needs. Some Guides may even give energy if the Seer/ess needs it or they may simply provide a stable arm for support. Sometimes the Seer/ess may move too much and begin to fall out of the seat. The Guide usually has to anticipate what the Seer/ess needs help with, because the Worker is usually not really aware of their physical body to tell anyone their needs. If the Guide asks you to do something there is a reason, so please respect these extremely important individuals.

 

The Seer/ess(es):

 
    As can be seen, the primary focus of this whole rite is the person that sits the High-seat. This person is traveling the Nine Worlds of Heathen Lore to answer your question(s) with the assistance of their various guides and warding beasts. They often confront obstacles or encounter unpleasant situations (an unwilling spirit of a Christian relative, the Gods demanding a service for the answer, metaphysical barriers or any number of things.) The Nine Worlds are not always a nice place! You may see them convulse like they are having a seizure, rock back and forth, or sit totally rock still. This is normal, so do not be disturbed. Remember that when the Seer/ess is in the High-seat, they are merely a mouthpiece for whatever they see or what is being said to them. *Take nothing they say personal!* If you ask what would Odhinn tell you and well, He takes a very nasty tone with you, it's not the Seer/ess that is talking to you but rather the God himself. While many Spae/Seidhr Workers are often Godhi/Gydhia (respectively priest and priestess in Old Norse), some are not. Regardless, be respectful of the talents they possess, as many of them have to undergo intense training and personal exploration to assist you in your questions. Also, many Workers don't remember what they have said or done while in trance or only remember it dimly. So if later you wish to understand more about what was said to you and go up and ask what they meant, it may require you to completely repeat the question *and* what the Worker said in response. Most importantly, the Seer/ess is only one part of a team, a significant part but only a part. While the Worker may be "in charge," they are also only "aware" for a small portion of the actual rite. All the positions are necessary and important for this rite to occur. No one position is more important than any other and each position is trained in what they do. Please respect all involved so that it can be performed smoothly and give you the answers you wish to know.

 

Other positions:

 

    Depending on the "troop" involved, there may be other positions. There may be a person that cleanses and creates a sacred space with incense. There may be drummer who assists during the guided meditation. There may be a person particularly gifted in singing so they sing or lead all in the songs. My Kindred, Yggdrasil Springs assists me and we have several positions, so that most will participate in the rite. One must not forget that each and every person assembled at this rite also has a job to perform. They provide the ambient energy to assist the Seer/ess. Their questions are also the reason why the Worker is there in the first place. The people need to stay as focused as possible, sing as enthusiastically as possible when required and to formulate their questions as simply and clearly as possible. The more open the people are to the rite, the more powerful the answers are.
 

The Do's and Don'ts of Asking Questions:

 

    First a word of advice. Standing before the Seer/ess is not an easy place to be. You are standing in front of a group and all attention is on you including the Seer/ess. Also there is often a feeling that rolls over you as you really see the Seer/ess in their power and this evokes all sorts of feelings and emotions. When the Guide motions you forward, do not be nervous. Focus on your question and as clearly, quickly and confidently as possible ask your question. As was said above, take nothing the Seer/ess says personally as they are only answering your question. Listen as intently as possible. The Seer/ess may ask you a question for clarification and you must be prepared to answer. Don't try to figure everything out while you are before the Seer/ess. Spae's often don't make much sense immediately or the Seer/ess may have difficulty explaining what he/she sees. If it is complete gibberish to you ask your question differently or focus on what really confused you. If the Seer/ess asks something to you along the lines of, "Would you know more?" don't respond with a simple "yes," expound on *what* you want more information on. Most important of all, if you feel your question was answered and have nothing else to ask him/her, thank the Worker or acknowledge you have no more questions. Say this loudly and clearly as this helps the Seer/ess "reset" for the next question.

 

Now to the Do's:

 

    Do keep your question short and to the point. If some explanation is needed do it as succinctly as possible. Remember the longer the Seer/ess is in trance the harder it is for him/her to stay in trance. Also, there simply are other people with questions and everyone would like to speak before the Worker gets too tired.

 

    Do phrase your question in a more allegorical way. The Seer/ess is in the realm of the Nine Worlds where things represent themselves far more symbolically. If you are in a place in your life where you have to chose between two jobs phrase it like this, "I stand at a crossroads where one path leads to a life of labor and the other leads to a scholarly path." This type of phrasing also helps your question to stay safely vague in case you wish that other people not know exactly what you are speaking of.

 

    Do ask your questions from the heart. The more it means to you the more energy you give to the Seer/ess to answer your question.

 

    This cannot be stressed enough, Do speak your question loudly and clearly. There are physical reasons and mystical ones. Most Seer/esses have something over their head. It could range from a scarf to buffalo hide and it can be hard to hear you because of this. The second is that the Worker is not entirely in their body, so while they do hear you it's coming from a long "distance." You don't have to yell, just speak clearly enough that there is no question if the Seer/ess can hear you.

Now the Don'ts:

 

    Don't ask frivolous questions. Please don't ask the Seer/ess for lottery numbers, stock market options or the place to catch the best fish (unless it's your job or livelihood). At best, you will get an answer but quite frankly it could be the past or twenty years in the future. At worst, you'll piss off the Seer/ess and they will come out of trance. They are also not political pundits, editorialists or commentators though the Spirits or beings may be.

 

    Don't ask trick questions. If you are skeptical of the Seer/ess actually going into trance or that what they are saying is just simply a bunch of platitudes then wait to question them at a later time. When this rite is performed it *is* a religious ceremony and there are people that do believe that they are getting spiritual assistance. Save your "debunking" for a more appropriate time.

 

    Don't ask questions about which you could easily find out the answer all by yourself. The Seer/ess is there to help people with spiritual advice and to give different perspectives on things important to their well-being that they are having difficulty with. They are not there to make your life any easier because you are not willing to work for it by going to the Library and do a little research on your own.

 

    Don't take everything said to you as "gospel." If the Worker gives you advice on a major life change, or if they warn of something that seems really bad, get a second opinion. Really turn what they said over in your head. The "blood of your boss on your hands" may mean something more along the lines of your mistake causing him to get reprimanded. Seer/esses experience many things on the High-seat but they may not always interpret them for people to easily understand. Seek a Runester, Tarot reader or simply talk it over with a friend. I have been told that I am uncanny in my view of things. That may be true,but I still caution people to analyze what I say to them when I am in the High-seat. One reason, the answer may not have been wholly for the querant but to another in the room or another situation that you have not realized or asked. I'm not infallible so I may be wrong or even totally misinterpreting what I saw. Always get a second opinion or even a third.

 

    Don't ask more than three "small" questions or one "large" question. This is a time issue because there may be many others and only a finite time that the Worker can stay in trance. It is also merely politeness, as you are taking the time and energy from someone else and you don't want to further complicate their situation because you have many questions. Think about what you are going to say, pick what you feel is the most needed to be answered and go with it. The more you want an answer the clearer it will be to you.

 

    Don't get to close to the Seer/ess without their permission when they are
in the High-seat. This is because a Worker gives off energies and since he/she is particularly sensitive to those energies, you may startle them or they may startle you because they begin to "deeply" read you. Remember, they are in a Realm of Spirit and there is a connection between that realm and the realm of Mind. There is also the pure physical reason that your proximity, uninvited, may startle and/or jar the Seer/ess out of trance before s/he is ready. This is akin to waking a Sleepwalker ... it's just a bad idea. However, if the Seer/ess asks you to come forward, do so if you wish. Sometimes information may be imparted in a physical way (a touch or certain sound) or they may be assisting a Spirit who only wants to get a closer look at their great great grandchild.

    Don't be startled if the Seer/ess does something odd like start talking without a question being asked, shake as though they are having a seizure, or moan like they are in pain. One root of "Seidhr" is what became the modern word "to seethe," for this reason. The Guide will probably take over from there.

    And lastly, please don't fall asleep. Sometimes Spaeworkings can go on for a long time and yes, it may even be boring but if you feel sleepy get up and leave the area. When you are asleep you are more open, and in this rite openness is not a good thing. The Nine Worlds are not always a nice place and I'm sure you don't wish to take anything undesirable home. There is also the simple fact that someone snoring takes away from the experience for everyone. If you start to get drowsy, go to a Warder and they will assist you as needed.

    While all the above is the way that I have been taught, and how I and my Kindred do a Spaeworking, there are other ways to accomplish this rite. Each Worker has his/her way of doing things. Some may have more "props," others may have some special ritual they perform, and others can only deal with certain things or answer in certain ways. I do not propose to be some all knowing Prophet or that my way is the "correct" way. As I grow in this Craft, I add and take away things. To me, this is a rite that was performed for and by my ancestors hundreds of years ago to help them through tumultuous times and to survive. It is a way I communicate directly and assist others to communicate with the Gods, their ancestors and all the Spirits that are around us. When Odhinn showed me this path, He said that it is only for the Folk, not me, and I take that very seriously. This is a sacred rite for myself and the religion I represent. I hope that in this rite, I help any who come to me to the best of my ability and that they come away feeling affirmed.
 

If you have any further questions, or are interested in Heathenry in general, you may email me.

 

 
May the Aesir and Vanir help you in your journeys.

Rod Landreth

 

 
Word Hoard:

Many words in this article may be unfamiliar or strange thus I am providing this glossary to briefly explain many of the words.

Note on pronunciation: Due to the limitations of printing this in ASCII, several characters do not translate well. The most apparent one is in the use of the "dh." Whenever this combination is seen it reads as a soft "th" sound as in the word "the."
 

Aesir - The primary pantheon of the Teutonic peoples. Lead by the All-Father Odhinn in Asgard at the top of Yggdrasil.

Folk - Term used to refer all those that are heathen or those important to them.

Galderwork - The magickal system that primarily uses the Runes to craft spells. There is a great deal of knowledge concerning this practice. Specifically, it refers to the actual pronouncing of the Runes in a monotone chant like fashion as one inscribes said Rune.

Hel - The underworld rule by Hela. It is a place where all those that have died natural deaths go. Said to be a place of great halls and palaces where all the people of a family come together. Here a Seidhkona travels to speak to any given person's relative.

Landvaettir - literally, "Spirits of the Land." These are the various benign spirits of the land around us. Trolls, Fairies, Gnomes and hundreds of others fall into this category.

Orlog - One of two concepts in Heathenry that can be loosely compared to one's Fate. One's Orlog is like the stream of one's life and Wyrd is the obstacles that you must overcome. To look along this stream is the purpose of Spae.

Querant - The person who comes before the Seer/ess and asks there question.

Vanir - The second group of Gods that are in the Heathen ways. They are a group concerned with wealth, happiness, and riches of all types.

Ward the Stead - This process is to call Thor and Heimdal to watch over us and keep the bad out and the good in.

 

Well of the Wyrd - One of three wells in the Nine Worlds. This well is at the base of the World Tree, Yggdrasil and represents all the Wyrd of man, god, place and knowledge. When something is "written in the Well of Wyrd" it is with us until it is completed or overcome. In Spae, this is the place the Spaeworker looks along a persons Orlog and can answer questions posed before them concerning a persons Wyrd and Orlog.

Wyrd - One of two concepts in Heathenry that can be loosely compared to one's Fate. One's Wyrd are the things that must accomplished or overcome in your life. This can be from your past-life, your family, your own past, or something that simply is your destiny to handle. Just as the Orlog is the stream of your life, Wyrd is the stones, rapids and other obstacles in your way save that one cannot avoid Wyrd forever. The longer Wyrd is not taken care of the larger and tighter the knot that is why Wyrd from a past life, or one's family Wyrd is difficult and very hard to overcome.

 

Rod Landreth

Created by Chandonn and Jordsvin

all works used by permission of the authors

last modified 07/20/2003