Nordic witches were also known as spákona in Old Norse or spækona
or spæ-wife. in Old English, spae, or “truth speaking” was associated with prophecy.
In her paper “Traditions of the Nordic Völva” by Samantha Catalina Sinclair, Sinclair writes on the work “Wise Women, Witches and Intergalactic Crones” by Dr. Randy P. Conner; which defines the spækona as having “…all the supernatural wisdom, some of the supernatural power, without any of the malevolent spirit of witches.” He goes on to say that the spækona was “skilled in medicinal and surgery, in dreams, in foresight and second-sight, and in forestalling the evil influence of witchcraft. Such women were looked upon with a kind of holy respect.” We must remember, the magic arts were practical, not fanciful and were the precursor to science. Magic evinced a desire to exert power over a perceived cause to produce an effect.
Magic was and IS a way to understand and have a willful outcome on the seeming-less random circumstances of life. Whether we are using magic to learn the gender of a child, to affect the fertility of ourselves, our fields or our livestock, Volva’s have been using Spa since we learned to walk upright to affect the outcomes of life. Be it to heal disease, to control the weather, to predict the future, or to consult deceased ancestors; Spa is the language of magic and the otherworlds.
We must also remember our God’s given right that Magic was also a way to enact retribution, to exact justice, and to impose some sense of order. We see from other accounts of the Völva, not only was she cherished for the ability to grant much benevolence to a village or tribe she visited; she was also feared and reviled as she could curse just as easily-brining just as much malevolence upon the town if it was necessary. We see in the Lore some examples of the spákona changing the weather for ill, bringing blights upon crops and livestock, (and for the purpose of this month’s lesson) could change, cloud, or poison the mind through the images and thoughts the seiðkona sent into a person’s perception or their will!
As 21st Century Völva ‘s or Vitki’s, we are learning the power of the mind; it is essential we understand the concept of divine inspiration and the ability to push that desire through what we know as our Will.
Our ancestors, as well as our Celtic cousins the Druids, knew fully the power of magic changing destiny via surrender into our divine ecstatic inspiration, which they called Awen. Empires were built from being divinely inspired and it’s no less effectual today. We can change the world by applying a focused will into the outcome of divinely inspired thought processes. For me, it’s simply a matter of using well-honed in magical instincts as well as divine messages that show me via inspiration it is correct and right to assert my will into the cosmos. Below* I wish to introduce you now to the concept of óðr; as it is through this divine inspiration we actually learn to wield what we as Modern witches term “intention” and “will.”
*Below is the definition of óðr as cited as it is found on Wikipedia:
”The Old Norse noun óðr may be the origin of the theonym Óðinn (Anglicized as Odin), and it means “mind”, “soul” or “spirit” (so used in stanza 18.1 of the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá). In addition, óðr can also mean “song”, “poetry” and “inspiration”, and it has connotations of “possession”. It is derived from a Proto-Germanic *wōð- or *wōþ- and it is related to Gothic wôds (“raging”, “possessed”), Old High German wuot (“fury” “rage, to be insane”) and the Anglo-Saxon words wód (“fury”, “rabies”) and wóð (“song”, “cry”, “voice”, “poetry”, “eloquence”). Old Norse derivations include œði “strong excitation, possession. Ultimately these Germanic words are derived from the Proto-Indo-European word *wāt-, which meant “to blow (on), to fan (flames)”, fig. “to inspire”. The same root also appears in Latin vātēs (“seer”, “singer”), which is considered to be a Celtic loanword, compare to Irish fāith (“poet”, but originally “excited”, “inspired”). The root has also been said to appear in Sanskrit vāt- “to fan”
As we delve deeper into the immersion process, we are beginning to realize, that to the Norse, certain abilities and qualities of the human condition that were revered and thought to be of significance were held in high regard due to the fact these qualities aided in the furtherment of our species
Things that were spectacular to our ancestors within the human condition, became divine qualities; making some humans seem as if they were descendants of the Gods themselves.
Moreover, human attributes; such as the mind, breath and (visited in next month’s lesson) the will, were given the status of divine attributes; such as the mind, breath, and inspirational process with Odin, and the will with his brothers in the creation process.
Why? I think it might be because it is these very human qualities, of Mind,/Will/Thought/inspiration are truly what makes us “god-like” It is through the human ability to think out solutions and to will those thoughts in existence on a multi-level process that gives us a glimpse of the sacred science and order that makes up this universe. We are an example of “divine intelligence.”
Intelligence and cunning, along with inspiration, and will, are THE cornerstones of the Arts of a Völva/Vitki, and therefore are the keys to opening the door fully into the practice of Seidr