Of late, as more people are being called to the Norse Tradition of Paganism, I am coming to see many Folk do not realize there is a difference between the 21st Century spiritual practice of venerating the Germanic/Teutonic Gods and reconstructing the Indo-Europeans way of polytheism, (called simply Heathenism or Asatru) as compared to the Scandinavian based occult arts and practices known as seiðr.
Seiðr is an esoteric, ecstatic tradition founded on the ancient principles of energy manipulation (magic and spell work) via the use of divination/destiny alteration through the practice called Spa; as well as other occult techniques and procedures.
The title given to these Spa workers is called a Völva for a woman, and a Vitki for a male. Both of these Old Norse words means Witch and sorcerer; but not every one called to the Norse Pagan Path will choose to study and perfect the Northern European tradition of mystical arts, nor should they feel pressure to do so.
Being a Witch ain’t for everyone!
So what then, IS the difference between someone who is simply a Heathen (Norse Pagan) and a Heathen who is a Volva or a Vitki?
Well, they both seek spiritual fulfillment/enlightenment through re-claiming and integrating what our ancestors shared spiritually back in pre-Christianized Europe.
Someone who just deicides to be close to the Germanic/Teutonic cosmology, to venerate the Old Pagan Gods, ancestors and land spirits (called vættir), might just do some private blots on occasion, read the lore often, and possibly belong to a kindred and meet up on seasonally auspicious times.
The occult branch of heathenry known as seiðr however, tends to be more eclectic with ways to perform these ancient arts, filling in the gaps to the fragmented snap shots left to us as to how these forms of magic were done. A Völva or vitki will focus on a personal practice, using their connection to the Nine Worlds as ‘Shamanic’ travelers and Witches, to access this most ancient form of spell casting and Spa; turning the ancient magical arts of long ago into a recognized, modern religion. Most seiðkona’s and seiðmenn I know view all the old Indo-European Pagan faiths as “The Old Religion.”
Moreover, since Heathenry is the revival or reconstruction of the indigenous beliefs of the Indo-Europeans, one cannot overlook the validity of the occult world of Asatru. Seiðr is classified as a Indo-European form of shamanism, and is viewed as an ancestral religious practice, i.e. most called to it have an ancestral link; and to reconnect that link all seiðkona and seiðmenn use specified seiðr arts as described through history, but due to historical gaps; will need to use other forms of Witchcraft arts to advance within his or her magical skill sets.
This “borrowing” of occult procedures or techniques can cause other non-esoteric heathens as claiming seiðr adherents are “contaminating” Asatru, and the Völva or Vitki’s are simply a form a “Wiccatru” Pagans, thus promptly laughing our Norse Witches right out of many ‘serious’ Asatru conversations.
To be clear, Seiðr is NOT a branch of Wicca, and a Völva or a Viki can be Witches without being Wiccan.
The two belief systems are completely different.
Finally, Seiðr is not only Norse in nature, but it is uniquely Scandinavian in its terminology, mythos and practice. All of the Teutons had basically the same beliefs, stories and gods, though god-names and some details differed by region. This belief encompassed all of Northern Europe- the Anglo-Saxons, Goths, etc., not just the Norsemen.
Since Asatru is a Heathen branch that tends to focus mostly on Norse god-names and traditions, so it is with seiðr, but there are other branches, of Germanic/Teutonic Folk magic practices, that focus on occult and shamanic traditions of other specified regions in a very Witch-like way.
In the future, I can see many Folk are being called to the path of the Ancient Norse Witch, called the Völva or the Vitki; and I look forward to the day when being a Norse Witch isn’t viewed as scary, fringe-like, or “inauthentic” in the re-claiming of Norse Paganism.
Our Ancestors were revered for thier healing skills and mystical arts with in the ancient community, therefore, one of the tasks ahead is to re-member and re-claim the validity that any magical path is very much needed and desired; even today. As we all face a Brave New World, full of uncertainty and turmoil, it’s reassuring to know there are a few of us out there: re-linking our wisdom to a time and place of almost forgotten, but very MAGICAL, powerful people .
It’s a sacred, collective, VERY HEATHEN calling of the Völva or Vitki: sent out from the ages; -that if we are to survive and thrive, we must reconnect to, and (more importantly) CONTINUE to water our roots with the skills sets of seiðr (witchcraft/shamanism) in heathenry.
In my humble opinion; without these magical arts, our Nine worlds would be very lack-luster indeed, and I wouldn’t be as connected to my Norse ancestry as I am if it wasn’t for the magical practice of seiðr. There is a lot to be said for actually visiting the places described within the lore, and while working my Wyrd, I have discovered with joy the Ancient gods are very much alive and well, ~and are VERY much 21st century beings!!
To read more about Witches in Paganism in general, please see: