If you have read my blog, you already know more or less what shamanism is, but for those who found this blog and came straight to this post, lets just make a brief explanation.
Shamanism is the oldest profession since imemorial times, working with the spirits and entering the spiritual world through an altered state of consciousness, with the purpose of learning from the spirits, or deities or even the ancestors, to aid in the various needs of our daily mortal lifes.
There are records of shamanism being practice all over the world for as long as 40.000 years possibly more. When it comes to Norse Shamanism, or the kind of shamanism practiced in Northern Europe by hte Norse/Germanic Peoples, the bases are similar, however in ancient times, this was women’s work in ancient Scandinavia, not to say that men also did not practice, but those were very few at the time, and only in very secret cults, dedicated to a specific god and usualy with warlike purposes and to the welfare of the group or really very individual, each member trying to achieve something for his own. So in the Norse/Germanic culture, shamanism or Seiðr was practice by women for the welfare of the entire community, for healing, divination, talking with the gods and the land spirits for aid, knowing which place was better for hunting, dwell, etc etc.
One of the most famous gods of the Norse pantheon, is Odin, and he is the archetype of a shamanic figure, the tales of how he stood hanged on the world tree Yggdrasil, wounded by his own spear, without food or drink, without rest or healing for Nine days and nights to achieve greater wisdom and the hidden knowledge of the Runes, shows us the primary ways of shamanism and how to enter in trance to travel to the other side in search for something or to work with the spirits. The ways of Odin and how he manages to make spiritual journeys is well written in many stories including the “TheYnglinga Saga” which records would travel to distant lands on his own errands or those of others, while he appeared to be asleep or dead. Also there are many tales of him travelling to the underword in search for answers, which is something very typical in shamanism, travelling to the underworld tocommunicate with the underworld deities or with the spirits of the dead who have a greater knowledge about spiritual journeys and the many places of the otherworld which is their own world.
Like most shamans around the world, Odin also has familiar spirits, which are beings that aid the shaman in the journeys to the otherworld, teaching the shaman, showing him the ways, giving advice, spirits that are connected with the shaman, Odin too has these, for example, his two ravens.
Shamans undergo a ritual of death and rebirth, to gain their powers, it can be physical or while in trance, dying and coming back with a new body fit to the future tasks of the shaman while working on the world of th spirits. Odin too did such a sacrífice, an ordeal to aquiere such powers, the one of have written about before in this same post, wounded and hanging from Yggdrasil.
It is said that Odin is a practitioner of Seiðr, which he learned from the goddess Freyja, such goddess from a different tribe of gods, the Vanir gods, which are the kind of deities much more connected with shamanism and spiritual work, the kind of deities that teach the other tribes of Gods, and here we can see the sama connections that women had in the Norse/Germanic communities, those were the ones that held such powers.
The Norse Shamanic magics, Seiðr, was practiced by the women called Völva or seiðkona, these women wandered from town to town or from farm to farm to prophesying and performing other acts of magic in exchange for room, board, and often other forms of compensation as well. Guided by the spirits, they went to where was needed, to where they were called. Such as all the other shamans in other countries and different cultures, the Völva were also set apart from the society, and they lived out in the open, in the wild places, or near the villages but far from its domains, this is a caracteristic from shamans that have been found and documented by archaeologits that dates from 27.000 ago as it was found in the Dolni Vestonice and Pavlov sites in czech republic. The shaman always stood outsider the community/society/tribe.
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