Due to S. Flowers (a.k.a.E.Thorson) book, “Galdrabok” Many new (and some adept) Heathens think to Galdr means to simply chant the runes!
I cannot stress enough how incorrect that is.
Noddy T (FRASH) wrote on January 19, 2011 so concisely:
“A galdr (ON) or galdor (OE) is a magical charm, NOT the repeated chanting of a rune’s name, especially not of a Common Germanic Futhark name which is a hypothetical reconstructed word preceded by an asterisk to show it is Proto-Germanic. A galdr/galdor is usually a piece of metrical verse used to request or demand an action from the Unseen in conjunction with other ritual practices such as a sacrifice, wearing of a talisman or taking a medical remedy. Galdors were still used into the Christian period of the early medieval and a good example is the Old English “Charm Against A Dwarf”:
Wið dweorh man sceal niman VII lytle oflætan, swylce
man mid ofrað, and writan þas naman on ælcre oflætan:
Maximianus, Malchus, Iohannes, Martimianus, Dionisius,
Constantinus, Serafion. þænne eft þæt galdor, þæt
her æfter cweð, man sceal singan, ærest on þæt wynstre
eare, þænne on þæt swiðre eare, þænne bufan þæs mannes
moldan. And ga þænne an mædenman to and ho hit on
his sweoran, and do man swa þry dagas; him bið sona sel.
“Her com in gangan, in spiderwiht,
hæfde him his haman on handa, cwæð þæt þu his hæncgest wære,
legde þe his teage an sweoran. Ongunnan him of þæm lande liþan;
sona swa hy of þæm lande coman, þa ongunnan him ða liþu colian.
þa com in gangan dweores sweostar;
þa geændade heo and aðas swor
ðæt næfre þis ðæm adlegan derian ne moste,
ne þæm þe þis galdor begytan mihte,
oððe þe þis galdor ongalan cuþe.”
The galdor starts at “Her com in gangan” and ends with “ongalan cuþe”, as it is Christian it is followed by “Amen, So be it (Fiað)”. The poem before the galdor tells how to prepare communion wafers inscribed with saints’ names, what to do with them and how to sing the galdor. As you can clearly see the chant is much more than “*fehu, *fehu, *fehu, *fehu… (ad nausium!)”, it tells the dwarf riding the spider-creature to leave the sick person and return to his sister and all other beings that can understand the song to never attack the patient again.
So a galdor can be used as a form of prayer whenever you seek assistance from the Unseen or are attempting to control an unwanted wight.”
Of all the Traditional songs used in Norse magic, Galdr is the most easily understood and recreated form of magical singing since Galdr and Galdralag were still used up to the Christian times of the early medieval era. As shown above; a good example of a surviving galdr is the Old English “Charm Against A Dwarf,” amongst others*. This form of magical spell was either done as a stand-alone incantation for change, or screamed in combination with certain rites.
Galdr would have been a form of magic work within the wheelhouse of a Vitki especially since it was not a form of seidr, it was more a form of sorcery or witchcraft. Some scholars have assumed they chanted it in falsetto (gala), but as we will learn, besides its metered structure; it was the volume of a galdr that really mattered!
Let’s look at the etymology of the word galdr from Wikipedia to understand more about the importance of a galdr’s volume: “The Old English forms were gealdor, galdor, ȝaldre “spell, enchantment, witchcraft”, and the verb galan meant “sing, chant”. It is contained in nightingale (from næcti-galæ), related to giellan, the verb ancestral to Modern English yell; compare also the Icelandic verb að gala “to sing, call out, yell” and Dutch gillen “to yell, scream”.”
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, today many MODERN “experts” elude that Gladr was only used in chanting runes, so to do it properly, we are mistakenly told; “a Gladr is just rune sounds drawn out in a loud call or sung/hummed chant.” After all the evidence I have found, I must disagree. In 2017 and 2018, I had the joy and privilege to work with not only a long time Volva from Norway named Inger; I also got to participate in a 4 day workshop that included a Volva named Lindy Fey- who also was a singer for the Scandinavian folk-rock group Wardruna. In this workshop, they broke down how Scandinavians view Gladr as well as how to do it; which is much different than what I previously thought.
To the Norwegians, Galdr literally means to scream. That IS the way they do it. Lindy Fay Hella who is Norwegian and is also a professional singer demonstrated it for us so we could come to a better understanding this powerful (and loud) way of projecting your intention into the cosmos. By opening her mouth wide, and letting her throat open; Lindy screamed three properly alliterated metered lines that was simply incredible to hear. There is a mechanical process to it, so opening your throat is crucial so you won’t damage your vocal cords, as well as by unhinging your mouth very wide to let the sound flow. You also must relax your mouth muscles and hold your spine straight; supporting your frame with your abdominal muscles contracted. Think of the power for your galdr coming from your abdominal wall and your core. Breath in and looking straight ahead, use your belly muscles to force the sound (and air) out through your throat-without straining! Lindy showed us a trick that by holding your hands on your waist and visualize your sides are extending outward as your belly compresses. By using the stomach muscles and contracting them hard and consistently; it lets the sound out forcefully and un-hindered -not like it would be if you simply screamed from the lungs and throat.
For this post, I recommend you read “Galdrs of the Edda” by Lars Magnar Enoksen for the very sake of understanding the formation of a galdr’s structure. There is a definite composition to composing a Galdr, and it is known as Alliteration. Lars book is invaluable for showing exactly how to use Galdr alliteration.
From Writing Explained, we see “alliteration is the repetition of initial constant sounds of nearby words. It is a literary sound device used for emphasis and effect. Alliteration only occurs when consonant (not vowel) sounds are repeated in words close to each other. These words may be within the same phrase, clause, or sentence, or they may occur on successive lines (as in poetry or lyrics). Tongue twisters are a well-known use of alliteration, shown with the example: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
In this classic example of alliteration, the initial “p” sound creates the alliteration.
Moreover, the sounds that create alliteration need to be the same consonant sound, but not necessarily the same letter. For example; Gnarly gnats need new necklaces.
Here, the “gn” creates an “n” sound which makes this sentence alliterative.”
You may work this alliteration in with runes; the biggest factor is being sure it all rymes- plus, you must be sure it is simple and not comprised of many lines. If it’s too complicated you lose the intention, AND you can’t scream it out for very long.
I feel in keeping with cross-referencing alliteration and the idea to blend runic magic with the language I speak most readily; the style of Galdr I use has English words infused with intention and MAY BE followed by runes that match the intention. A very good example of word/rune blended Galdrs can be listened to as performed by modern musical groups like Heilung and Warduna.
As you develop your own practice, it is important to experiment and use what works best for you; not to just mimic others because they tell you it’s the only “historically” correct usage of any Norse Mystic skill set, -cause guess what; no one is precisely sure how many of these arts were really executed by our ancestors!
I actually use a form of galdr in my working in the high seat seances. Step 1 is that I set my intention (as to why I am visiting the well of urd) with a Gladr that vocalizes that intention. Simultaneously, my spa sisters sing a vardlökkur that holds the same intention of the Galdr. when I give the signal I am arriving at the well (usually by my swaying ceasing, OR by the fact I become very still, and I am not screaming anymore) the “posse” of Spa singers switch to a vardlökkur of their choice which holds me at the well of urd in safety. This Second vardlökkur is now a different song than what they sang in the beginning of the journey; which was to keep the intention (and me) headed to the well of urd.
Step 2 in the séance becomes the concern my body is safe and protected so, as I have arrived at my otherworldly destination, so the Spa “Posse” (without missing a beat so there is no lapse in the singing from the time I sit in the seat till I signal for the singing to stop) changes their vardlökkur from the song of safe journey, to the song of arrival, and finally, if necessary; to the song of safekeeping. (They sing the vardlökkur of safe-keeping if I am taking a particularly long time to be ready to speak.) You see, until Those Who Are Speaking Through Me are indeed, ready to speak; (which is signaled by a thump of my Stav) the job of the posse is to hold a safe space.
Once I thump my Stav, ALL songs cease; instantaneously.
*In some High seat rituals, I have been known to use a spirit inspired “kuað” in place of a Gladr when going into trance for the well of Urd; which we will discuss in depth, in another post.
See the below YouTube examples, the blog link, and feel free to reference the example I used in my book the 21st century Asatru/Seidr, and for this month experiment with just “traditional” rune chanting as described in the nine doors, and with your own “freestyle Galdr.”