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The Witegungseld Sp and Oracular Seir Manual

This manual presents Swain Wodening's method of sp working, and is intended for use with it. Other methods do exist, such as the Hrafnar method, and some of the lessons presented herein may be helpful with it as well. However, as the lessons are designed specifically for this method, they will work best with it. Please note that many in Witegungseld also use other methods including Hrafnars or variations of it.

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 BREATHING AND RELAXATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 BEGINNING TRANCEWORK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 WARDING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 HLSUNG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 COMMUNING WITH WIGHTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 THE SP RITE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

Introduction
Sp (ON) is most often mistakenly called seiR (ON) in modern Asatru. The reason for this confusion is due to the use of the word seiR in Erik the Red's Saga, the only good secondary source of a spcrft ritual. The word sp its self means literally "spying" but in the sense of "seeing with second sight." Its relationship to Old Norse speja is roughly as seer is to "to see." Both are related to Old English spyrian "to investigate." Its primary characteristic was the active obtaining of information, knowledge, and wisdom whether about the past, present, or possible future. Spcrft was a part of seiR, but not all spcrft was seiR or vice versa. The Icelandic lawspeakers performed sp by "going under the hide or hood," yet this was not seen as seiR, nor was the "mound sitting" of kings, or the taking of omens. Yet all of these bear resemblances to sp. Other references to seiR in the lore on the other hand would seem to indicate much more than mere spcrft. SeiR appeared to have involved manipulation of the human mind and soul (Eric Wodening, Chanting around the High Seat: An Exploration of SeidhR , pages 10 see also Kveldulf Gundarsson, Spcrft, SeidhR, and Shamanism, IDUNNA volume 7 issues 1 & 2). Sp is one of the earliest crafts attested to by the Roman authors with references to the abilities of Veleda and others. (Eric Wodening, pages 4-5). Later references are made throughout the lore by the Germanic peoples themselves with the tale of the volva in Erik the Red's Saga actually being one of the last.

Modern Sp Rites
There is not much to indicate the modern sp ritual as innovated by Hrafnar in Asatru is performed now as it was in ancient times. We know sp rituals were performed, but not precisely how. This does not invalidate the ritual, but only indicates that there is room for other ways of performing spcrft. Modern spcrft sometimes seems to have more to do with "pop shamanism," the movement started by Michael Harner with his book The Way of the Shaman. The"journey to Hel," use of animal guides, and power dances all owe their origin in Hrafnar style sp in part to Harner's book. It also owes this in large part to parts of the lore as well, but of these elements only the spirit journey is seen in use in conjunction with sp, if indeed it can be called sp and not necromancy. In the Volusp, BaldersdraumR, and Vlusp hin skamma, inn is seen

to journey to Hel to question a dead volva. This is where Hrafnar draws its methods of doing sp or "oracular seidh."

However, these instances of inn traveling to Hel to wake a dead volva are paralleled in the other Eddic poems and in the sagas. In H.R. Ellis' The Road to Hel, the scholar carefully documents these accounts and concludes they are a form of necromancy. With the exception of inn 's journey to Hel its self, there is little difference in the Eddic accounts of inn waking the dead volva, and those of mortals in other Eddic poems and Saxo's works performing necromancy. Within the Elder Edda its self there are several examples of such necromancy. In the poem Gragaldr, Svipdagr goes to his mother's grave and summons her to learn galdors to help him on a journey to the underworld. In the Sigdrfuml, Ellis notes that the poem resembles very closely the Gragaldr and the inn poems with the volva, and believes Sigurr woke not a mortal woman in a sleep, but a dead one. This form of necromancy appears again in Saxo's History of the Danes, when Hadingus' mother Harthgrepa makes a dead man talk. All of this evidence points to inn's journey to Hel being coincidental, and indeed perhaps unneeded in the poem (all the mortal versions of a dead volva speaking take place on Middangeard (Midgard). There are other examples, and upon comparing those with he Volusp, BaldersdraumR, and Vlusp hin skamma accounts, it becomes clear this is not the same ritual as portrayed in Erik the Red's Saga. None the less, the use of chanting, the High Platform, and perhaps the trance work all derive from the lore in Hrafnar style sp. Otherwise Hrafnar style sp may owe more to necromancy than sp.

It is more likely that the sp worker in Erik the Red's Saga summoned the spirits to her (and not in the way a necromancer would at the grave of a dead volva). The text of the saga as seen below seems to indicate this, and words in Old English equate sp work with the invitation of spirits. Old English halsian means "to adjure" as well as "to convoke" and also "to augur." Old English halsigend, which derives from it means "a soothsayer" or "an augur." Somehow, in the mind of the ancient Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, they linked the summoning of spirits to augury or divination. This being so, there is no reason that folks cannot experiment with other methods of sp involving the invitation of spirits to them. In Erik the Red's Saga, no journeying to other planes appears to have been

done. The audience seems to have stayed firmly in this plane, and only the volva communicated with the spirits. In the Saga, Thorbjorg after the song Varlokkur was chanted even stated that "many spirits were drawn there" (Gwyn Jones translation). This statement and linguistic evidence show that the invitation of spirits, and not the spirit journey may have been the standard way of performing sp in ancient times.

Breathing and Relaxation


Introduction Often in a magical setting it is necessary to know how to relax. Things happen that will upset you, or freak you out. Too, the techniques used in relaxing are also needful to be able to meditate or go into trance. Rynemen or Runesters learn this when they learn runic meditation while learning the runes. It is very basic to them. Other practitioners of Germanic Heathen magic with the exception of sp workers (who need to know these techniques to go into trance) rarely have a chance to learn proper relaxation and meditation techniques.

Wiccans refer to all of this as grounding and centering. They do this by first centering. "Centering" for them is merely "proper posture" as is fundamental to all forms of meditation. To "ground" they visualize all negative energies flowing into the Earth, and feel positive energy flowing back to them from the Earth (some merely get rid of the negative energy and do not bother drawing energy from the Earth). This practice ultimately comes from oriental martial arts such as Tai Chi and Aikido. Anyone that has studied meditation and the martial arts though, and in our own religion,. Rynemen, know that there is far more to "grounding" than merely sending negative energy into the earth. In most martial arts, "grounding" involves making an energy connection to the Earth, followed by "centering" or focusing one's self on one's self, as well as proper breathing exercises. The process which I will refer to here as breathing involves a three step process that goes beyond mere visualization, and involves the intake of em as well as miht and mgen from the Earth.

Step 1 Relaxing the Lich In order for breathing to work, one must first relax the body's posture. Try to keep the spine straight and try to relax one's muscles. Start with the one's in the shoulders, and continue down the back, relaxing the muscles. If you still feel tense, do not worry, this is what the breathing is for.

Step 2 Calling up Miht and Mgen Many places in the lore refer to calling on miht and mgen from the Earth. This makes sense, as Earth or Eore (Jorr) is the mother of the God unor (Thunor or Thor), god of physical might. unor is also known as "the hallower", and the creation of sacred space is very related to this exercise in that one is trying to keep negative energies out. This step is two fold. One should first, mentally call on the Earth for miht and mgen. This is important as it is often seen in the ancient Anglo-Saxon charms as a crucial step. Remember, you are calling on a Goddess, so be respectful. Next one must visualize the miht and mgen flowing into them from the Earth. Any negative energy you have should be pushed out. If it is not, visualize it melting back into the Earth, where she will deal with it for you.

Step 3 Breathing in em Once one has relaxed their body, and drawn in energy from the Goddess Earth, they need to begin proper breathing. Proper breathing is a central part of most forms of meditation for good reason. Breathing is the one instinctive bodily function the human mind can control at will. As the body's parts are all in some way linked via the nervous system, the soul's parts are as well. One of the gifts of Woden, Willi and Weoh (Odin, Villi, and Ve) was Ond, the Old Norse word for "divine breath."

By using proper breathing, one can slow a rapid heart beat, relax the muscles, and calm the mind. Most schools of meditation teach this is best done by breathing in deeply from the gut (the diaphragm) and exhaling very slowly in a very regular and steady way. Breathing is connected to em or the "breathe of life" given to Man by Woden (Odin). It is compared by such Heathen scholars as Kveldulf Gundarsson to the silver cord of other traditions, and is related to the Hindu concept of prana. In Hinduism, prana is the "divine breath," and considered the life force of all living things. The ancient Germanic concept is basically the same as that of prana, and therefore breathing exercises similar to some of those practiced in Yoga will work in a Germanic context. As stated above, one must breathe in deeply from the gut (the diaphragm) and exhale very slowly in a very regular and steady way. As one is doing this,

they should envision breathing in not ordinary air, but em, the divine breathe of life (just as Yoga practitioners visualize prana being breathed in). It is em that ties the body to the soul, and prevents any unexpected out of body experiences. By breathing in more em, one can further relax the body and ease the mind. In fact breathing exercises alone can induce a light trance.

Why are Relaxation Techniques Needed? Relaxation techniques are needed simply because many of our practices are different, and people react differently to odd and new things. Many folks will attend an "oracular siedh" or sp with little knowledge of what to expect, and wind up startled, scared, or worse from the experience. It is very necessary then that anyone that attends such a rite or similar rites (be they galdorcraft, witchcraft, or sp craft) be given, in the very least, instruction in the techniques above. Finally, breathing is fundamental to the work of rynemen sp workers, and thyles as well, albeit in different ways. most rynemen learn the runes by meditating upon them, which requires they relax, perhaps even go into a light trance. Sp workers regardless of what techniques they use, must go into a deep trance to communicate with the spirits they journey to or invite to them. Finally, thyles must use these techniques to achieve deep trances to connect with the ancestors or Gods. Germanic Heathenry has long been biased against "grounding," as it is a "Wiccan thing." However, its roots are firmly based in Hinduism, a religion whose practices are related to our own, and who even now have concepts greatly resembling our own. In truth, Heathen sp work may owe more to Indo-European trance work from which Yoga may derive than any borrowings from the Sammi.

Beginning Trancework Trancework and Meditation


The Three Forms of Meditation Key to being able to perform a sp rite is the ability to go into trance. No one method works for everyone, but most folks can achieve a light trance by learning how to meditate. Winifred Hodge defines meditation as covering "a wide spectrum of mental, psychological and spiritual activity, both religiously-oriented and not necessarily religiously-oriented." It differs from concentration in that when one concentrates they are focusing their mental facilities on one specific goal. It differs from contemplation in Winifred's words in that contemplation "is generally used to describe the state of mind and mode of awareness that is pursued in advanced, religiously-oriented exercises, where one contemplates the Divine, without any other purpose or goal than awareness and experience of the Divine itself " These three forms however blend into each other and can mixed for the purpose of oracular seir however.

When most folks think of meditation they think of Buddhism, Hinduism, or one of the other great Far Eastern religions. But nearly every part of the world has a people that practice some form of meditation. Coming from the stand point of the Far Eastern religions there are several forms of meditation. For Heathens or those wishing to learn the magical arts, the most important are repetitive meditation, immersion meditation, and empty mind meditation. Repetitive meditation utilizes the repetition of a short verse or sound. The use of the rune names by some runesters in "runic meditation" is a perfect example of this. The purpose of repetitive meditation is to achieve the goal of keeping the thought/sound of the verse in the mind without meditating. Thus Christian monks recite verses such as "Mary, mother of God;" Hindus use various mantras; and even Native American tribes use various verses and sounds. Beyond achieving the goal of keeping something sacred in the forefront of the mind even when not meditating, repetitive meditation can also be used to go into trance. The use of the shaman's drum, while not authentic from a Heathen standpoint is used by many modern spa workers for that very reason (ancient drums in Germanic culture were used to mimic

thunder and this is the only use recorded for them before the High Middle Ages. Thunder drums though are not a very good trancing device). Drumming is not the only repetitive thing that shamans of the various cultures have used to go into trance. Songs, even some actions such as dancing, or yoga can be used to achieve trance. Within my own reconstruction of the sp rite, the songs and chants are used as an aid to go into trance, and thus are a type of repetitive technique.

Immersion meditation is not nearly as useful for going into trance for a spa rite. Never the less, it is a good learning tool, and is used during the rite its self. Immersion meditation is very similar to repetitive meditation in that one is focusing on a subject. However, instead of focusing on a single sound, song, phrase, drum beat; one envelops their thoughts around an entire situation, thought construct, perhaps even the universe its self. The whole idea behind immersion meditation is not to pick out part of an object or situation, but to try and contemplate it as a whole, and thus immerse one's entire being in it. Sometimes, esp. in the Far Eastern religions, the goal is to "become one with" whatever one is contemplating. The classic example, being of course, "becoming one with a tree." Of the three forms of meditation, immersion can be the most difficult for some folks. People have a tendency either to concentrate on one thing at a time, or to allow their mind to wander, and neither is good when one is doing immersion meditation.

The final form of meditation is empty mind meditation. Most people are familiar with this as it is commonly taught by New Agers as a way to relaxation. Empty mind meditation is exactly that, an attempt by one to empty their mind of all emotions, moods, and thoughts. Its purpose is to silence the mind, and shut out all distractions so that one will notice thoughts and events they normally would not. In marital arts, it is used as a way to heighten one's awareness of one's surroundings. It is a way of avoiding becoming so preoccupied with one's own thoughts, that they do not pay attention to the environment.

Using these Meditation Forms in Trance Repetitive meditation: Repetitive meditation is the best and easiest form of meditation to use to go into light or heavy trance. For the sp worker, the best way to use repetitive meditation is to focus on the chants. For this reason both of the chants for warding the area and inviting the wights should be somewhat repetitive, rhythmic, and simple. The sp worker will want to focus on the chants, and allow his or her self to slip slowly into trance.

Immersion meditation: Immersion meditation is used during the question and answer section as a way to contemplate the question. The purpose of this immersion is to help the wight formulate an answer by getting as much information out of the question as possible, and thus overcome any translation areas between wight and seer. By using the immersion technique, one is avoiding focusing on only one part of the question, and by doing so, avoiding getting a wrong answer.

Empty mind meditation: Empty is used to clear one's mind for communication with wights. By clearing the mind of all intrusive thoughts, the sp worker also heightens their senses in order to hear the spirits. It is vital that they shut out the outside world and clear their minds of any thoughts.

Warding
It is unlikely an ancient Heathen sp worker would have referred to what they did to protect themselves as "warding." There were indeed spells and charms of protection, but what they would have done to protect the area they were in was to "hallow" it or "make it sacred." We are not told how this was done for sp rites, but we do know how ritual space was established for religious rites, and in addition we know from some of the Anglo-Saxon charms in the Lacnunga that herbs were used to fumigate areas. Using what we know of hallowing an area, and from the use of herbs to fumigate, we can figure out what we need to do to make an area safe from any ill boding wights that may try to wreck havoc on a sp rite.

The Use of Herbs as Fumigates Fumigation or smudging with such herbs as sage is common throughout the world, and used by many peoples. The Norse and Anglo-Saxons were no different, and we can find evidence of fumigation in the Anglo-Saxon charms. Whether smudging formed a part of the sp rites we do not know. But we do know that the smokes from "need fire" was used to drive away disease. Jacob Grimm describes its use in Teutonic Mythology:

If at any time a grievous murrain have broke out among cattle great or small, and they have suffered much harm thereby; the husbandmen with one consent make a nothfr or nothfeuer. On a day appointed there must in no house be any flame left on the hearth. From every house shall be some straw and water and bushwood brought; then is a stout oaken stake driven fast into the ground, and a hole bored through the same, to the which a wooden roller well smeared with pitch and tar is let in, and so winded about, until by reason of the great heat and stress (nothzwang) it give out fire. This is straightway catched on shavings, and by straw, heath and bushwood enlarged, till it grow to a full nothfeuer, yet must it stretch a little way along betwixt two walls or hedges, and the cattle and thereto the horses be with sticks and whips driven

through it three times or two.

Need fire was also used for people, and was formed solely by friction like that of a fire drill or bow. Fire started by other means was not thought holy. That the cattle or folk had to walk through the smoke of the need fire though points to the idea that it was the smoke that had the ability to drive away illness. Anglo-Saxon Charm #24 uses smudging to cure pigs and a portion of it is quoted below:

First you boil glide (glidan) and give it to the pigs to eat. Then take the 6 herbs and sing 4 masses over them, drive the pigs to the fold, hang the herbs on the 4 sides and on the door, burn them, adding incense, and let the smoke go over them. (Storms translation) The herbs used in this admittedly Christianized charm were: lupine, betony and hassock, buckthorn, cleavers, viper's buglos. As this charm was used to cleanse pigs, it is highly probable other herbs may have been used however. In fact, betony is said to shield against visions and dreams, and would not be a good herb for a sp worker to use. Modern practitioners are fond of using mugwort, as well as vervain, or valerian, all known for their abilities to enable second sight. Other herbs known for their cleansing abilities should be used such as angelica, flax, sage, and plantain. One should work with burning these herbs (or some of them), until they get a mix that is pleasing to them. Do not use any of these herbs if you are allergic to their smoke. When you smudge the area, make sure you circle it in a clockwise manner, and make sure you cover as much of the area as possible.

The Use of Fire for Hallowing It is very probable that the ancient Heathens did not have to establish temporary sacred space. They had at their disposal regular public places of worship that had long been established as sacred. It is therefore not surprising that we rarely see rites for establishing sacred space in the lore. They do exist however. In Eyrbyggja

Saga, Thorolf used fire to prepare his land for construction of a temple.

Eftir a fr rlfur eldi um landnm sitt, utan fr Staf og inn til eirrar r er hann kallai rs, og byggi ar skipverjum snum. Hann setti b mikinn vi Hofsvog er hann kallai Hofsstum. ar lt hann reisa hof og var a miki hs. Thereafter Thorolf fared with fire through his land out from Staff-river in the west, and east to that river which is now called Thors-river, and settled his shipmates there. But he set up for himself a great house at Templewick which he called Templestead. There he let build a temple, and a mighty house it was. (Eyrbyggja Saga, Morris & Magnusson translation)

This action is also see in the Landnmabk:

ar er n heitir Svertingsstum. Hann reisti ar hof mikit.....at land fr Jrundr eldi ok lagi til hofs. "There he called it Svertingsstum. He there build a temple.... That land, Jrundr carried fire around where he later laid his temple." (Landnmabk) Fire was not the only method used in the land takings of Iceland, but it is the only method seen in connection to prospective temple sites. Other methods did exist for establishing sacred space than circling the area with fire. Symbols were sometimes established around the area.

Two brothers, Vestmann and Vemund, though Christian fell back on pagan principles when taking land.

eir fru til slands ok sigldu fyrir noran landit ok vestr um Slttu fjrinn. eir settu xi Reistargnp ok klluu v xarfjr. eir settu rn upp fyrir vestan ok klluu ar Arnarfu. En rija sta settu eir kross. ar nefndu eir Krosss. Sv helguu eir sr allan xarfjr. "They set an ax on Reistargnp and called it xarfjr. They set an eagle up in the west and called it Arnarfu. And the third they set a cross. They named it Krosss. So they hallowed all of xarfjr. (Landnmabk)

This type of land claiming and hallowing is also seen in the AngloSaxon Aecer-bot: Genim onne on niht, r hyt dagige, feower tyrf on feower healfa s landes, and gemearca hu hy r stodon.... Nim onne a turf and sete r ufon on and cwee onne nigon sion as word, Crescite, and swa oft Pater Noster "At night, before dawn, take four turfs from the four quarters of your lands, and note how they previously stood..... take the turfs and set them down there, and say these words nine times, Crescite as before, and the Lord's Prayer as often " (Gavin Chappel translation)

Finally, temporary sacred space could apparently be made using vbond, ropes tied to hazel poles. Such a space was described in Egil's Saga: The place where the court sat was a level plain and hazel poles were set in a circle on the plain linked by ropes. These were called the sanctuary ropes. (Egil's Saga Fell translation)

In addition to these methods Thor or Thunor is invoked on several rune stones with the phrase "orr uiki," or "Thor make sacred (these runes)." It is known from the Eddas that Thor's hammer was used to hallow brides, and in Hakon the Good's Saga, we see the sign of the hammer used to sacralize meat for a feast. One therefore could invoke Thor to help make an area sacred. For the purpose of a sp rite, carrying fire around the area is perhaps the easiest. Words should be said, such as the Wonde Song used in the example of the rite.

Bibliography Benediktsson, J. (ed.), Landnamabok, Hidh islenzka fornritafelag, Reykjavik, 1936). Chappel, Gavin, Anglo-Saxon Charms Fell, Christine (tr.), Egil's Saga, University of Toronto Press, Tornoto, 1975. Frazer, James George, Sir, The Golden Bough, The Macmillan Co., New York,1922. Grimm, Jacob, Stallybrass, J. S. (tr.), Teutonic Mythology, Peter Smith, Gloucester, Mass. 1976 Hallakarva, Gunnora, Sacred Space in Viking Law and Religion Hastrup, K. Culture and History in Medieval Iceland, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1985 Morris, W. & Magnusson, E. (tr.) The Saga Library, Vol. II: The Story of the Ere-Dwellers, Bernard Quaritch, London, 1892. Storm, G. Anglo-Saxon Magic, The Hague

Hlsung
The Basis for Hlsung Hlsung is an Old English word meaning "exorcism; augury; divination; entreaty." It is related to other words such as the verb hlsian "to adjure; take oath, swear; call upon, convoke; implore, entreat; augur; exorcise," and hlsigend "exorcist, soothsayer, augur." Despite the mention of exorcism, it is fairly apparent this word once had to do with soothsaying and perhaps communication with spirits. Hlsung therefore has become the term we modern Anglo-Saxon Heathens use for inviting wights or spirits to come communicate with us. Part of the purpose of the song Varlokkur in Eiriks Saga Raua (Erik the Red's Saga) seems to have been to summon spirits to the seer or volva. rbjorg's remarks after GuriR, the young lady sings the song, that "many spirits were drawn there." orkell herir n a Guri en hn kvest mundu gera sem hann vildi. Slgu konur hring umhverfis en orbjrg sat uppi seihjallinum. Kva Gurur kvi svo fagurt og vel a engi ttist fyrr heyrt hafa me fegri raust kvei s er ar var. Spkona akkar henni kvi. Hn hafi margar nttrur hinga a stt og tti fagurt a heyra a er kvei var "er ur vildu fr oss snast og oss ngva hlni veita. Thorkel now pressed Gudrid hard, till she said she would do as he wished. The women now formed a circle all round, while Thorbjorg took her seat up on the spell-platform. Gudrid recited the chant so beautifully and well that no one present could say he had ever heard the chant recited by a lovelier voice. The seeress thanked her for the chant, saying that she had attracted many spirits there who thought it lovely to lend ear to the chant-- spirits 'who before wished to hold aloof from us, and pay us no heed. And now many things stand revealed to me which earlier were hidden from me as from others.

rbjorg's rite in Eiriks Saga Raua is not the only place in the lore where we are told spirits are called to a spot. In the

Freyingasga, rand calls up the spirits of three men that had died at sea to learn what had become of them. The passage is presented below: Thrand had made a big fire place in the fire house (hall) and had four gates with four nooks (corners?) made. He carved nine carvings all the way out from the doors and he set a stool between the fireplace and the doors. Thrand did not wait to speak with his (folk) and so it was. Thrand sat for a while and when an hour had passed a man walked into the hall and he was soaking wet. He walked over to the fire and stretched out his hand for a little while and went back out after that. When an hour had passed, a man walked into the fire hall. He walked over to the fire, stretched out his hand and walked out afterwards. They knew that was Thorir. Soon after a third man walked into the fire hall. This was a huge and blood-soaked man. He had a head in his hand. They all knew this was Sigmund Bretisson; he took a certain place for an hour on the floor and then left. (Strombeck translation) rand's rite clearly is not the same as rbjorg's. It had much more in common with necromancy. However it does show that the Germanic peoples knew how to invite spirits to a place and have them attend. It is also possible that rbjorg's platform had symbols like those rand carved, carved on it as well to help in inviting the spirits to attend.

Hlsung as it Applies to the Sp Rite Hlsung is essentially an invitation, not much different from when we invite gods and goddesses to visit us during religious rituals such as blt (the Germanic Heathens way of communing with and sacrificing to the Gods). The way this invitation was done was judging by rbjorg's rite in the form of a song. We do not know what form these songs took in ancient times, so we can only assume they were not much different from the bedes or prayers of the time, or galdras (Old English for "charms, magic spells"). Even with the sacralizing of the space to protect one's self and their audience, one must be careful on who they call on in the song. The Idesa (Dsir or "ancestral women"), gods, and even land wights are fairly safe beings to invite. Others such as Loki, the giant races, and even some of the dead may best be avoided. While no evil should be able to enter the frigeard (Old English for an area sacrilized for

worship and therefore warded), it is always best to be safe than sorry. In the lore, we are never really given information on what the words of a hlsung song were. We know that the title of the song performed in Eiriks Saga Raua for rbjorg the volva was Varlokkur, which may mean "guardian locks" or "guardian enclosure." What "guardian locks" may refer to is perhaps anyone's guess. However, another interpretation is that it means "spirit allurer." Old Icelandic var the first element in the title Varlokkur meant simply "one that watches" and was used of the fetch (familiar or animal guide), and guardian spirits, although it was sometimes used of any spirit. The second element has commonly been taken to be the plural of Old Norse lokka "a lock or enclosure." However, there is an Old Icelandic verb, lokka meaning "to allure, entice." The name of the song may therefore mean "spirit allurer" or "spirit enticer." This interpretation makes sense in the context of rbjorg's remark "many spirits were drawn there."

In other accounts of the rite, in other sagas, the songs were performed by a chorus, and not a single person. In rvar-Odds Saga a seeress named Heir had a chorus of fifteen boys and fifteen girls that traveled with her. But as rbjorg was one of the last of her kind, such a chorus of people may have no longer been available. The song may have been chanted and not sung. Eric Wodening in his word, Chanting Around the High Seat, notes that the word used of the song is Old Norse lj in some of the sagas, which was commonly used of poems and magic charms; but the most common terms seem to have been Old Norse kvi "chant" or fri "knowledge." (Eric Wodening, Chanting Around the High Seat, p. 25). In Saxo's Gesta Danorum, Saxo uses the Latin word carminum "incantations; or religious or legal formulas. " The song was therefore magical or religious in nature and had some effect upon the rite. However, the Old Norse word for magic charm, galdr is never used of the songs. The difference between a galdr and the songs of the sp rite may have been only in the performance, or it may have been in structure. Both Old English galdor and Old Norse galdr come from words meaning "to sing" (Old English galan and Old Norse gala), while the verb used of the kvi is kva "to speak or recite." If sung then, the song or chant must have been rather limited in range. Other than this, it is hard to tell what the differences between a kvi (the seir chant) and galdr would be. One possibility is that the kvi resembled more a

prayer than a magic charm. This would explain Saxo's use of the Latin carminum which can be used of a religious formula as much as it can an incantation. It would also explain the use of lj which was also used of the poetic lays in the Elder Edda. What Germanic Heathen prayers have survived have references to deeds of the Gods and Goddesses. It could be therefore, that the kvi of the sp rite as seen in Eiriks Saga Raua merely invited or enticed the spirits to attend the rite by a recitation of tales belonging to them.

The Use of Song in the Hlsung What all this means to the modern sp worker is that they should probably use songs that deliberately entice or invite the spirits they wish to commune with. These songs may be worded in the forms of prayers or perhaps speak of the spirit(s) great deeds. In addition those songs should perhaps be chanted by a choir, and not sung by only one or two people. It is best that the seer or seeress does not perform the song themselves regardless. There are two reasons why and they are: 1) The performance of the galdor can interfere with one going into a trance state. And 2) the wights will arrive rather quickly, some even as the galdor is being performed, and therefore the seer must be undistracted and available to communicate with them immediately. When performing the song, it is best one does not use drums or other instruments that may scare the wights away. In many cultures, drums, wind chimes, and cymbals are used to scare off wights, and these may scare off friendly ones that may have answers to the questions at hand. Too, while the singer or chanter is chanting or singing the hlsung song, the seer or seeress will be going into trance. Performance of the song or chant therefore should be of a sort that will aid the seer or seeress in this, and not one that is loud with much vibrato.

Composing a Hlsung Song One can easily adapt modern methods to write Germanic Heathen prayers to the composition of a Hlsung Song. In my article, How to "Compose a Good Prayer in English or Old English" (which can be seen at: http://haligwaerstow.ealdriht.org/prayr.html) I determined that ancient Heathen prayers probably consisted of: 1) A greeting to the god or gods. 2) A boast of the god or gods' great deeds, or other mythological references.3) A petition or request. In addition forms of flattery may have been involved. For example, in

the Anglo-Saxon charm Wi Ymbe (Against a Swarm of Bees), the bees are flattered by being called "victory wives." A Hlsung Song can follow this same pattern and use many of the techniques of prayer composition. The spirits should first be greeted in the song, and then some of their attributes elaborated on and boasted of, finally they should be petitioned to attend the rite, and help the sp worker answer questions. A shortened version of such a song is below: Idesa ic hls Ieldran gela Wyrda Web Sihes daga Wsdomes goda Byrda ond daas Wynn ond w Geca hit eall Hlees ic ceall, londwihtas ealswa. Wist ca, Sian ond giet weore. Wstnesmannes, Bearnas ond dmas Wte ond lan. Geca ingas eall.

Disir I entreat Heros I call Ancestors I invite Land wights as well. Wyrd's web Being reveal, Visions of days Sinceand yet wove. Wisdom of gods Desolation of Man, Births and deaths Children and orlays, Joy and woe Punishment and reward. Reveal it all Reveal things all. Such a song should be of moderate length and easily chanted or sung. All means possible should be put on making the performance beautiful, as part of what attracted the spirits in Eiriks Saga Raua was the beauty of the performance. Bibliography Benediktsson, J. (ed.), Landnamabok, Hidh islenzka fornritafelag, Reykjavik, 1936). Chappel, Gavin, Anglo-Saxon Charms Fell, Christine (tr.), Egil's Saga, University of Toronto Press, Tornoto, 1975. Frazer, James George, Sir, The Golden Bough, The Macmillan Co., New York,1922.

Grimm, Jacob, Stallybrass, J. S. (tr.), Teutonic Mythology, Peter Smith, Gloucester, Mass. 1976 Gundarsson, Gundarson "Spcrft, SeidhR, and Shamanism, " IDUNNA volume 7 issues 1 & 2 Hallakarva, Gunnora, Sacred Space in Viking Law and Religion Hastrup, K. Culture and History in Medieval Iceland, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1985 Jones, Gwyn Eirik the Red and Other Sagas, Oxford University Press, Oxford Morris, W. & Magnusson, E. (tr.) The Saga Library, Vol. II: The Story of the Ere-Dwellers, Bernard Quaritch, London, 1892. Wodening, Eric, Chanting Around the High Seat, Theod, Watertown, NY 1996.

Communing with Wights


While the Hlsung Song is being performed, the seer or seeress will slip into trance. Once in trance, the seer or seeress will want to try to sense whether any wights are present. Sensing whether wights are present is an acquired skill for most. Those gifted with second sight will find they can do so almost immediately (sometimes they find they can do so the first time in trance). Those not so gifted will have to learn how to sense their presence, and it is not something easily taught. Never the less, there are methods which if used that can increase your ability. First, you must learn empty mind meditation as presented in the articles on trancework. Unless you can clear their mind, speaking with wights will be like trying to listen to a conversation one table over in a busy restaurant, words will be missed, and things taken out of context. Once, you can easily accomplish empty mind meditation though, and can clear your thoughts with ease however, you are ready to try to commune with wights.

Communication or speaking with wights is difficult to describe. It cannot be called properly, channeling, as the wight is speaking to you, not through you, nor can it be called possession as at no time does the wight enter into your body and share it with your soul (there being some exception with the greater Gods doing this, but it is rare). It is perhaps best described by the phrase telepathy or the phrase, thought transference (used by some mediums to describe how they communicate with spirits). You are communicating from mind to mind directly without need of any physical work (such as speaking through your mouth). You are not using your eyes to sense the wights, nor will you need your ears to see them. All communication takes place within the mind, or rather mind to mind.

Learning to Speak with Wights In order to learn how to sense whether wights are present, and then to communicate with them; one will want to perform the following exercise. 1) Find an area you can work in and not be interrupted. It is vital you are not interrupted while doing this exercise. 2) Set up your area just as if you were going to perform the sp rite. 3) Smudge and hallow the area. 4) Sit down and begin to meditate, and then allow yourself to slip into trance. 5) Try to sense those

around you, whether it be the neighbor across the street, or your cats in the next room. It really does not matter, as long as you can sense their life force. Continue to do this exercise until you can effectively sense the living beings around you. You can then move onto another exercise, the aim of which is not just to sense their presence, but to read their thoughts. For this you will need a willing partner, and a deck of cards (playing cards work fine, although you could use most any type of cards). Your partner to his or her self reads the card from across the room being careful not to allow you to see the card. They then verbally ask you, "what card am I holding?" Continue to practice this exercise until you can tell what card your partner is holding 3/4 of the time. Once you can do this while in a conscious state, you can practice the exercise while in trance. Go into a light trance while your partner remains conscious, once you are in trance, have your partner go through the deck of cards, asking which card they are holding. Again, do this exercise until you are right 3/4 of the time. Both these exercises teach you to communicate through telepathy.

Once you can sense the living beings around you while in trance (which means not actually having to see or hear them), and can successfully guess the cards your partner is holding most of the time, you are ready to begin the sp rite proper, and start speaking with wights. It is best if you do your first few sessions with only one or two friends present to act as audience and or warders. Whomever you have present should be training with you, and or have more than a passing understanding of what is going on. Do not expect to be able to speak to the wights that come to you right off the bat. You are performing the rite merely to learn how to communicate with the wights, not to have meaningful questions answered. Even if you have successfully completed the exercises, telepathy with a wight is not exactly the same as that with another human being. In order to speak to the wights you will have to learn what exactly communicating with them entails.

Speaking with Wights Once you can sense the presence of a wight or spirit, you will find that you can see them as well, and with practice hear them, and finally be able to speak with them. When you are finally able to relay messages to them, and they back to you, then you have the

skills to be a sp worker. As a sp worker performing the rite, you will be serving as a go between, between the inquirer and the wight answering their question. In a typical sp rite, the wights generally show up, and hang out, waiting to answer any questions asked. Occasionally, if there is a very important message they will relay it through you unasked. Typically, though the procedure works as follows once the wights have responded to the invitation: 1) Someone asks you a question. 2) You relay the question to the wights. 3) A wight or wights will step up to answer the question. 4) You relay the answer back to the inquirer. For each question this is the process that is followed until there are no more questions, or you are too tired to go on. You will need to remember a few things however, wights do not communicate in English, it is your brain that translates their thoughts into English. As with any translation, some of the meaning will be lost. Because of the language problem some wights like to use visions to communicate. If a wight comes to answer a question for you and communicates with visions, simply tell the inquirer literally what you say, do not interpret it. If you have a bad link with a wight, and are communicating in literal words, you may want to tell it to "speak louder" or "I do not understand what you are saying." If the wight is using visions, then it is best to be quiet.

The Sp Rite
Originally titled An Alternative Spae Rite and published on the Ealdriht Website

Spcrft: A Brief Explanation


Sp (ON) is most often mistakenly called seiR (ON) in modern Asatru. The reason for this confusion is due to the use of the word seiR in Erik the Red's Saga, the only good secondary source of a spcrft ritual. The word sp its self means literally "spying" but in the sense of "seeing with second sight." Its relationship to Old Norse speja is roughly as to seer is to "to see." Both are related to Old English spyrian"to investigate." Its primary characteristic was the active obtaining of information, knowledge, and wisdom whether about the past, present, or possible future. Spcrft was a part of seiR, but not all spcrft was seiR or vice versa. The Icelandic lawspeakers performed sp by "going under the hide or hood," yet this was not seen as seiR, nor was the "mound sitting" of kings, or the taking of omens. Yet all of these bear resemblances to sp. Other references to seiR in the lore on the other hand would seem to indicate much more than mere spcrft. SeiR appeared to have involved manipulation of the human mind and soul (Eric Wodening, Chanting around the High Seat: An Exploration of SeidhR , pages 10 see also , Spcrft, SeidhR, and Shamanism, IDUNNA volume 7 issues 1 & 2 ).

Sp is one of the earliest crafts attested to by the Roman authors with references to the abilities of Veleda and others. (Eric Wodening, pages 4-5). Later references are made throughout the lore by the Germanic peoples themselves with the tale of the volva in Erik the Red's Saga actually being one of the last.

Modern Sp Rites
There is not much to indicate the modern sp ritual as innovated by Hrafnar in Asatru is performed now as it was in ancient times. We know sp rituals were performed, but not precisely how. This does not invalidate the ritual, but only indicates that there is room for other ways of performing spcrft. Modern spcrft sometimes

seems to have more to do with "pop shamanism," the movement started by Michael Harner with his book The Way of the Shaman. The"journey to Hel," use of animal guides, and power dances all owe their origin in Hrafnar style sp in part to Harner's book. It also owes this in large part to parts of the lore as well, but of these elements only the spirit journey is seen in use in conjunction with sp, if indeed it can be called sp and not necromancy. In the Volusp, BaldersdraumR, and Vlusp hin skamma, inn is seen to journey to Hel to question a dead volva. This is where Hrafnar draws its methods of doing sp or "oracular seidh."

However, these instances of inn traveling to Hel to wake a dead volva are paralleled in the other Eddic poems and in the sagas. In H.R. Ellis' The Road to Hel, the scholar carefully documents these accounts and concludes they are a form of necromancy. With the exception of inn 's journey to Hel its self, there is little difference in the Eddic accounts of inn waking the dead volva, and those of mortals in other Eddic poems and Saxo's works performing necromancy. Within the Elder Edda its self there are several examples of such necromancy. In the poem Gragaldr, Svipdagr goes to his mother's grave and summons her to learn galdors to help him on a journey to the underworld. In the Sigdrfuml, Ellis notes that the poem resembles very closely the Gragaldr and the inn poems with the volva, and believes Sigurr woke not a mortal woman in a sleep, but a dead one. This form of necromancy appears again in Saxo's History of the Danes, when Hadingus' mother Harthgrepa makes a dead man talk. All of this evidence points to inn's journey to Hel being coincidental, and indeed perhaps unneeded in the poem (all the mortal versions of a dead volva speaking take place on Middangeard (Midgard). There are other examples, and upon comparing those with he Volusp, BaldersdraumR, and Vlusp hin skamma accounts, it becomes clear this is not the same ritual as portrayed in Erik the Red's Saga. None the less, the use of chanting, the High Platform, and perhaps the trance work all derive from the lore in Hrafnar style sp. Otherwise Hrafnar style sp may owe more to necromancy than sp.

It is more likely that the sp worker in Erik the Red's Saga summoned the spirits to her (and not in the way a necromancer would at the grave of a dead volva). The text of the saga as seen

below seems to indicate this, and words in Old English equate sp work with the invitation of spirits. Old English halsian means "to adjure" as well as "to convoke" and also "to augur." Old English halsigend, which derives from it means "a soothsayer" or "an augur." Somehow, in the mind of the ancient Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, they linked the summoning of spirits to augury or divination. This being so, there is no reason that folks cannot experiment with other methods of sp involving the invitation of spirits to them. In Erik the Red's Saga, no journeying to other planes appears to have been done. The audience seems to have stayed firmly in this plane, and only the volva communicated with the spirits. In the Saga, Thorbjorg after the song Varlokkur was chanted even stated that "many spirits were drawn there" (Gwyn Jones translation). This statement and linguistic evidence show that the invitation of spirits, and not the spirit journey may have been the standard way of performing sp in ancient times.

An Alternative Sp Ritual
While the modern Hrafnar style sp ritual seems to put much importance on the use of animal guides and power dances, the ancient ritual as shown in Erik the Red's Saga seems rather streamlined. We are told of no journey to Hel, in fact we are told explicitly that the wights are called to the volva. Instead of sitting in front of the High Platform, the women circled around it, and the only chanting done is that of Varlokkur "Ward locks." Finally, the use of talismans seem to be of some importance. The following elements, judging on the description in Erik the Red's Saga, seem to be of importance: a. The High Platform b. women forming a circle about the volva c. chanting d. talismans. Of these, the chant seems of utmost importance. The volva rbjorg in Erik the Red's Saga remarks of the performance of Varlokkur,"that many things were revealed that were not before." The High Platform

SeiR in general seems to have used a High Platform. This may have been in imitation of the burial mounds upon which Kings once sat to gain ancestral wisdom or may have been simply to give the spkonaa place of prominence. Eric Wodening in his book Chanting Around the High Seat cites several examples where there was no audience, yet a High Platform was still erected (Wodening, p. 24). Gundarsson states that sitting on a High Platform would make it easier to go into trance (Gundarsson). Whatever its purpose, it seemed necessary to the performance of seiR.

Position Around the High Platform We are not told where the wermen were situated in accordance to the High Platform. We are told that the women were circled around it. This may be in keeping with beliefs that women in general were gifted in areas such as second sight while men were not.

The Chant The chant seems to be the most important element mentioned in the Old Icelandic account of Erik the Red's Saga. The name of the chant Varlokkur would seem to mean "ward locks," but the volva indicates it helps her see things she could not otherwise. In modern spcrft, chants and songs are commonly used to put the sp worker into trance, as well as set a sense of otherness in the audience. In modern spcrft, separate songs are used to ward the area and summon animal guides. However, in the ancient texts we are shown only this one chant, and even then we only know the title, and that its performance somehow aided the volva's abilities. Based on modern ideas around music and meditation, we can be fairly certain that the song may have helped the volva enter into trance. Guided meditation and the use of certain tones to place people in trance have been shown to work and been used for centuries. The song also would appear from what is said in the saga to have been used to invite* spirits to communicate with the volva. Therefore any reconstruction of an alternative rite would have to take these things into account.

*I use the word invite instead of summon, as summon is a bad word to use. In

its literal sense it means to coerce spirits to appear and no coercion should be used.

Talismans Amongst the grave goods of Anglo-Saxon women were often found small trinkets or charms. These could easily have been talismans of some sort. Earlier Bronze Age graves reveal skin pouches exactly as those described in Erik the Red's Saga, containing trinkets, herbs, and other odd items. It is not known what the volva held in her skin bag, just that they were talismans or charms.

The Ritual
The following ritual is offered as an alternative to the often drawn out modern sp rites, it contains all of the elements directly related to the rite its self as portrayed in Erik the Red's Saga. It is suggested that you experiment with the ritual, and check your results against other methods such as omen taking and rune readings. 1) The High Platform is erected. 2) The folk gather around the High Platform. The wermen should remain in front of it while the women circle it. Once everyone is in place, it is suggested the area be smudged with mugwort with the following words or something similar: Smoc, smoc, smoc ond smic, recels wasc rymet, fre, fre, fs fcnu, bringe fri ond frofre. Smoke, smoke, smoke and fumigate, recels purify the room, fire, fire, drive away evil, bring frith and comfort. 3) The Chants I have here broken the chants into two parts as it is not clear what purpose Varlokkur served. It could have been a warding galdor, a

summoning song, or simply to put the volva into trance. It may well have played a role in all three. a. Warding and Hallowing. I have used the Wonde Song of the Angelseaxisce Ealdriht for this purpose. The purpose of the Wonde or "sacralizing" is to separate the ritual area from the ordinary, mundane world and make it closer to that of the Gods. In ancient times, this could be done through fire (the ancient Icelanders used to carry a torch around their farms to ward them),or thru a ritual formula like the Old Norse "orr uiki " "Thor make sacred." By performing this song one ensures only helpful wights will be in attendance to communicate with the volva. This should be done by one of the volva's helpers or warders. Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, Ond bode men fri fremman, Leg ic bere t belcan, Bode lwihta flogan aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor wohisne ealh. Fyr ic bere ymb frigearde, Ond bode men fri fremman, Leg ic bere t belcan, Bode utlaga fran aweg. unor woh, unor woh, unor wohisne ealh. unor woh, unor woh, unor wohisne ealh. Translation: Fire I bear around this sacred site, And bid all men make peace, Flame I bear to enclose, And bid evil spirits to flee Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site Fire I bear around this sacred site, And bid all men make peace, Flame I bear to enclose, And bid outlaws fare away. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site. Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred, Thor make sacred this holy site.) b. Hlsende or Invitation The following chant called the Hlsende Song or Halsing Song was written with the intent of inviting helpful

wights. The purpose of Varlokkur seems to have been to place the volva into trance as well as summon spirits to her. Although no one can be certain of this, it seems a fairly good assumption. Placing the volva into trance is crucial. No trance, no communication with the spirits, no sp. Ideally, a chorus would chant this much in the way of a Gregorian chant. However, it is likely that at most two or three helpers or warders will know the chant. The chant should be maintained for at least a repetition of nine time (in Old English or English either one) or at least until it is certain the volva is in a light trance. Any spirits summoned should be bloted to following the ritual. "Aye a gift always calls for a gain." You cannot expect wights whether land wights, ancestors, or even Gods to give information away for free. Idesa ic hls Ieldran gela Wyrda Web Sihes daga Wsdomes goda Byrda ond daas Wynn ond w Geca hit eall (repeat) Hlees ic ceall, londwihtas ealswa. Wist ca, Sian ond giet weore. Wstnesmannes, Bearnas ond dmas Wte ond lan. Geca ingas eall.

Translation: Disir I entreat Heros I call Ancestors I invite Land wights as well. Wyrd's web Being reveal, Visions of days Sinceand yet wove. Wisdom of gods Desolation of Man, Births and deaths Children and orlays, Joy and woe Punishment and reward. Reveal it all Reveal things all. 4) The volva goes into trance to communicate with the summoned wights. This trance can vary to light to heavy and depends largely on what the volva is comfortable with. In many ways, it is no different than the trance one goes into doing transcendental meditation. Most folks find it easiest to go into trance by siting in a comfortable position and then inhaling and exhaling in even breathes. Breathe in through the nose, and slowly out through the lips. However, do not force your breathing to conform to a way that is

not natural. Hindus and Buddhist have for years used mantras, sounds or words used to aid breathing and slipping into trance. If you find this helps, you may wish to use a rune name or a word with some meaning related to the work at hand.

From what I can read in Erik the Red's Saga, no possession of the volva took place. The communication seemed to have been merely on a telepathic or empathic level. One will also need to train in senses the presence of wights and communicating with them. Unfortunately, this is not easily taught and may be an inborn skill. 5) The audience asks questions. The warders should be careful to instruct the audience before hand not to ask frivolous questions such as what are the winning lotto numbers. Querants should also be careful not to call the seer or seeress by name, but refer to them as seer or seeress. Calling a seer or seeress by name can pull them out of trance. 6) The volva comes out of trance and the rite is adjourned. The volva should eat well the night before and get a full night's rest. We are told in Erik the Red's Saga that a feast was served the night before, and that the volva requested a good nights rest. If possible he or she should carry with them talismans to help them going into trance, and communicating with spirits. These talismans or charms could be runic items specially made for the purpose or even simple trinkets that hold some spiritual meaning. There is, of course no reason modern sp rites should not continue as they have been pioneered by Diana Paxson and others. However, there is room for more than one way of doing things, and perhaps this alternative will help find new insights into our religion and culture. Bibliography Ellis, The Road to Hel, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Gundarsson, Kveldulf, Spae-Craft, Seir, and Shamanism Hallaharva, Gunnora, Women and Magic in the Sagas Jones, Gwyn Eirik the Red and Other Sagas, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Wodening, Eric, Chanting Around the High Seat, THEOD, Watertown, NY